William Fitzsimmons

William Fitzsimmons (10:00 PM)

Leif Vollebekk (9:00 PM)

Sat, May 24, 2014

8:00 pm

This event is all ages

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William Fitzsimmons - (Set time: 10:00 PM)
William Fitzsimmons
Charleroi is the second half of the Pittsburgh story. The Pittsburgh album was about the grandmother William Fitzsimmons knew. Charleroi is about the one he never did.

William’s father was born to a woman who would go on to have 5 children, none of whom she raised. Some were taken into custody of the state of Pennsylvania. Others were placed for adoption. William’s father, as an infant, was returned to the hospital dangerously sick with whooping cough. He was left there for several months. No one from his family would ever return for him. Finally, many months later, he was adopted by a kind doctor who became his father. Never knowing his birth family, or why he was left, it was assumed that mystery would remain forever. And thus this story was written upon William’s father, and from him, written upon William.

In 2015, after over 60 years of wondering and waiting, the family was finally found. William’s biological grandmother having deceived the remainder of the family by telling them the baby died at the hospital, William’s father was never sought out. Sadly his mother passed away several years before having a chance to ever see her lost son again. Or ever meet the sons which came from him.

In the last two years William has lost both of his grandmothers. One died only last year, the other nearly thirty years ago. Yet both losses are fresh. One was a steadfast presence in William’s life from the moment he was born, the other a ghostly figure of a long forgotten story. Yet both have in a way always been there, one in her presence the other, her absence.

Loss, painful though it is, offers a unique and potent opportunity for the kind of emotional clarity that only comes a few times during our lives. It forgets that which doesn’t matter and fans the flame for what does. It burns us with the names of those who gave their good years so that we might have our own.

William never had the opportunity to meet or know his grandmother Thelma. In writing these pieces he hopes to do so in some small way. She was from Charleroi, Pennsylvania. These songs are about her.
Leif Vollebekk - (Set time: 9:00 PM)
Leif Vollebekk
Leif Vollebekk spent two years searching for perfect takes. This search took him from his home in Montreal to a studio in Manhattan, from a farmhouse in Woodstock, NY to a mansion outside Paris, and the result is a dusty, polished, new, old record called North Americana.

“I wrote the songs, I found the best band in the world, and then all I had to do was find the right studio, for the right take,” he says. “And it took forever.”

After his 2010 debut, Vollebekk knew the kind of album he wanted to make next: a record like the ones he loves by Gillian Welch or Ryan Adams, that feel old and familiar even when they’re new. But also a record that speaks to the listener through its lyrics, with songs “that can hold up in a storm,” that are packed full of perfect little mistakes. So he started writing. Ten new songs, the best he had ever written, with lines about love and the end of love, about journeys and homecoming, about the death of friends and drinking yourself dry. Now Vollebekk laughs: “I thought the record was done when I was finished writing the songs. ‘All we need to do is record it!’” But when you’re searching for the perfect take, recording is no small task. It happened only piece by piece, session by session, song by song, over the course of seasons.

The players were these: Vollebekk, singing, playing guitar and piano, harmonica, rusty fiddle on “When the Subway Comes Above the Ground”; the jazz musicians Hans Bernhard (bass) and Philippe Melanson (drums). “I wanted to be able to roam with them wherever I go,” Vollebekk says. Arcade Fire’s Sarah Neufeld played violin, arranging her own parts. Joe Grass played pedal steel, and Adam Kinner played tenor sax.

The heart of the songs were always recorded live, to tape. Old school, spontaneous, one real captured moment. To find these moments, they travelled. To Montreal‘s legendary Hotel 2 Tango studio, working with Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, Coeur de Pirate, Godspeed You! Black Emperor). To New York City, working with Tom Gloady (Ryan Adams, Sigur Rós, Patti Smith). To La Frette studios, in La Frette-sur-Seine, France. And then back to Montreal, for one song at Breakglass studios. Vollebekk even tried recording with John Simon, the producer whose credits include Music from Big Pink and Songs of Leonard Cohen. At his home in upstate New York, Simon listened to “Cairo Blues,” then travelled up to Montreal to record it. “There was just not a good take,” Vollebekk says. “I ended up doing it a few months later, again at the Hotel, between takes of something else – and that’s just how it went.” North Americana took years. “All this time,” Vollebekk says, “trying to get one take.” But the result is a beautiful, alive, human – shambling ballads, noisy folk songs, vivid portraits of a 27-year-old’s watercolour life. “I feel like I created a record from 1970something that no one’s heard before,” Vollebekk says. “I’m haggard and this record is all I got.”
Venue Information:
Troubadour
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069
http://www.troubadour.com/

All lineups and times subject to change