Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kristin Hersh: July 27, 1997

Here is what I love about Kristin Hersh: With her, there is a sense of music being a normal part of life, something that is just there, the way oxygen is. Despite the mystique of "an artist possessed" that others tried to build around her during the earlier years of her career with Throwing Muses, if you see her in concert, speak to her, or read her self-deprecating and funny Tweets, she seems like a normal, down-to-earth woman, mother, and wife who just happens to make her living as a musician.

These days Hersh alternates between Throwing Muses, 50 Foot Wave (with Muses bandmate Bernard Georges), and solo work, but at the time of this show Muses were on hiatus, 50 Foot Wave hadn't been born, and she had released just one solo album, 1994's Hips and Makers. The album was a decidedly quieter affair than the Muses' material, and Hersh's stripped-down acoustic performance continued in that vein. While the opener, Melissa Ferrick, demonstrated how loud and frantic an acoustic guitar could sound, Hersh proved the power of hushed and intimate sounds. Her music and voice were haunting, but between songs she would declare with good humor that she was wearing a dorky shirt because it was the only one not stained by the nursing infant on tour with her. Such is the juxtaposition between real art and real life that Hersh embodies to me.

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