WYBC Yale Radio
Bryan John Appleby

Photo from http://bryanjohnappleby.com/

 

I had the potential Facebook post already crafted in my head: a comment on the contrived atmosphere I’d expected to see at the Tractor Tavern, something about the perfect “scruff” that defines today’s hipsters. I probably would have posted an iPhone-edited picture, too—but I didn’t. And that’s where the story begins. Because yes, there was a hell of a lot plaid and amazing facial hair at the Bryan John Appleby concert last Wednesday night, but there was also the most authentic musical presence I’d felt in a long time; enough to completely halt that pending Facebook status in its tracks. This was the real deal. I was in Ballard, Washington, a neighborhood just north of downtown Seattle, known for its historically Scandinavian population and rough-around-the-edges fisherman culture. I was listening to some of the most passionate alternative-folk to come out of this year’s mostly generic line-up. This isn’t your typical, “cozy up to a favorite book under the covers” singer/songwriter. The sound in that tavern was practically tangible, as rich and bitter as the handcrafted brews we could have also gotten lost in, but chose the haunting beat instead. Maybe it was that brew (and no, it wasn’t PBR), but it felt like during his song “Boys” Bryan John Appleby had picked me up and thrown me. It was one of those shows that left me simply standing and staring, this time at five men: two in beanies, all in beards, and one behind an enormous cello. I rode the song’s ups and downs. In a half beer-, half guitar-induced haze I started to wonder what made these guys cry. Yep, I was that far gone. Appleby’s newest album ‘Fire on the Vine’ also gives us “Words of the Revelator”, an equally tasty tune to keep you wanting more of that same drop, a complex stop-and-go with thoughtful lyrics to boot. So stop what you’re doing right now, put on a warmer (hopefully flannel) jacket, pick up some big-boy beer, push play on ‘Fire on the Vine’, and for God’s sake forget about that Facebook post. It’s time to get a little lost.

-T.P.