(Jacqueline Kursel of Pioneer)
Urban Agrarians filled the Gates of Heaven again on Thursday night, July 22, with a very special lineup of bands–Pioneer, Feathe, Austin Hays, and Myles Coyne–all of whom have been featured many times on the blog. As the rain pounded the 147-year-old stone walls, the sanctuary was filled with Madisonian music lovers with enough dedication to walk through torrential downpour in the sake of a good night filled with our friends’ music, a keg of PBR and plenty of good vibes.
Pioneer takes the acoustic-folk stylings of Kenny Monroe, who we know and love, and adds a band made up of Jacqueline Kursel on cello and Roger Barts on drums. Having seen Kenny perform what feels like countless times, whether it be in Spencer’s living room, in my kitchen, on the railroad tracks, or at previous shows, I was curious to see how his songs would change with the addition of more instruments. The simple answer is– good–except for a few issues with levels (which proceeded to cause trouble throughout the night). With a bit more practice performing together as a band, I think Pioneer will be just what Madison needs as a solid midwestern folk band.
(Jana Swanson from Feathe)
Eau Claire’s trio of ladies, Feathe played second. Being the first stop outside of Eau Claire on their Farewell Summer Tour, it was a bittersweet show. I’ve seen Feathe more than any other band this summer and it’s been great to watch them really grow into their sound and perfect the art of performance. The song that really sticks out in my mind when thinking back to the show is “Where We Met”, before which Jana told the story of Feathe’s creation. Originally, Feathe consisted of just Jana and Alyssa Rieper. Jana explained: “Alyssa and I used to be in a really bad band and we dated the boys in the band. Then we broke up with the boys in the band. Then we started our own band. And that’s the story of Feathe.” It will be sad to see the group call it quits for a while as Jana leaves for New Mexico this fall. However, the essence of Feathe will remain as Adelyn Strei (of Adelyn Rose) and Alyssa pursue other musical ambitions.
Our good friend, Austin Hays played next- joined by Jon Rath on the melodica, keyboard and piano. Usually, Austin plays classical guitar and sings in a sort of classic folk/acoustic style. This show was different with the addition of effects and even the use of electric guitar on his last song, “Liberation”. Jon also added to the experimental vibes of the set by bringing out the keyboard effects. Like Feathe and Kenny, I have watched Austin played multiple shows over the course of the summer, but this show was completely different than any I had seen before.
Myles Coyne played an unfortunately hushed set, as we had run over our allotted time with the venue. Though the Animals in Human Attire boys were able to back him on his first song and avoid any police intervention– rocking out like usual all over the muddy floors of the Synagogue– the rest of Myles’ set was more subdued and similar to the set played in my kitchen in June. Listening to Myles’ folky tunes and skilled harmonica solos was a great way to end our last evening in at the Gates of Heaven for the rest of the summer. There’s nothing like talented musician friends, cold beer, and a washed out Madison to make a great summer night.