Seeing an artist who normally plays fairly good size rooms, armed with just an acoustic guitar in a record shop is really special. The lyrics mean more and watching the artist pretty much recreate how they make a song in person before recording it is jaw dropping. Craig Finn is about to release his new album We All Want the Same Things on March 24, and to preview it he is doing a Living Room Tour. With this tour, he is going around the country playing mostly in people’s living rooms, which is one of the coolest ideas ever.
The Living Room Tour began its outing not in a living room, but at Kingston’s Rhino Records. The tight confines of the room with vinyl surrounding the walls made everyone friendly and talkative before Craig started the evening. Half of the store was cleared to make room for his small set up of two amps, a guitar, a mic stand, and a stool. Everyone watched from in front of him, some sitting on the floor or standing to the sides along all of the music and books. He was interviewed by well-known music writer Will Hermes between the songs he was playing, which gave the evening a very laid back feel.
Craig told us he was nervous for night one of the tour, but by the end of the night he said he couldn’t wait for the rest of them if this is how it was going to go. Stripping his songs down to the way he demoed them for the new record was fascinating, especially when you compare it to what is on record, as everyone was able to do at the end of the night when as he was signing records, selling merch and taking pictures, the album blared over the loud speaker. Hearing the difference between the two in such a short amount of time felt like pulling the curtain back on the grand wizard.
Craig is clearly proud of the new material, as he called it his most musical to date. He played the hell out of each new song for the first time with an audience. Hearing the stories behind and the meaning of each song was special. He said the challenge for him today is to write a song about people in their 30’s and 40’s, since there are enough songs about 19 year olds, and trying to navigate life and hope they can have love, their health, and just be accepted for who they are. The new songs have the same spirit as all of his work, telling long tales about various people he meets during his time spent on the road or makes up of various people he knows. These stripped-down versions really let everyone at Rhino Records focus on the amazing storyteller that he is.
After he finished up the night with The Hold Steady’s “Certain Songs,” which was the only tune he played during the hour and half that wasn’t a solo song, he took a bunch of questions from the audience before the speakers rang out with the new record. One person asked about politics, and Craig said his characters are all over the spectrum and some may have sided with both of the candidates. From there he talked about his ties to the Drive By Truckers and how they just released a talk that they had together around when their album came out. He said he found it amazing to watch as he hadn’t remembered what they talked about. Though he isn’t overtly political, he thinks that every action can be a political action. Seeing an artist be so honest with a crowd was really refreshing in today’s world. This tour Craig is doing is really special and should not be skipped if you have the opportunity to see it.
Article: Bryan Lasky