Joey Burns of Calexico and Sam Beam of Iron & Wine delivered an alchemy of song at Humphrey’s by the Bay under a crescent moon last week.
The night’s scenery was straight out of a painting. The crescent moon hung over the Humphrey’s stage; the stars flickered above the expansive ocean. Boats crept in as close to shore as possible, vying for a coveted spot within audible distance. The evening’s show was a special 1-2 punch of aughts heroes merging their talents on a crisp autumn night. To celebrate the release of their latest album, Years to Burn, Calexico and Iron & Wine took to the road for a tour that will eventually span North America and Europe. It’s a combination of talents that seems written in the stars.
The entire night had the feeling of a mountain jamboree. The ambiance felt like whiskey drinks, a natural amphitheater nestled in the bosom of the forest, and the heady smell of evergreens. The synthesis of Joey Burns (Calexico) and Sam Beam’s (Iron & Wine) voices was smooth and soulful like the first sip of bourbon in a winter cabin. The set defied classification drifting from folk to country to blues and even to cumbia. The cumbia was a welcome reprieve from the soothing arrangements. A song called “Flores y Tamales” shook us into a groove with its mix of trumpet and Spanish words.
It was clear that these were veterans as they showed off their prowess. In the middle of the set, the stand up bassist ascended into a rare solo. The crowd hooted and clapped in response to the unexpected gift. Another surprise came as the opener, Natalie Prass and her pianist joined the band on stage to join in on the harmonies. Soon after, the night ended with an encore cover of Echo and The Bunnymen’s “Bring on the Dancing Horses”. A fitting addition to wrap up the night.
It’s not often that artists put their egos aside to share the stage. I think this experiment worked well and I hope they make a third album together in the future. Their alchemy made for magic at Humphrey’s that night.