Last updated: 7/28/2002Story-teller, spell-binder, this warm-voiced folksinger from Baltimore by way of Long
Island is a poet and a mystic. Richard is a lover of history, but unlike Al Stewart, who is
more likely to survey the battle from the hilltop, Richard sees it through the eyes of the
war-widow or the drummer-boy, and is more likely to focus on the hawk overhead, or the
mist on the river, than the signs of the times. Richard's new life in Argentina has given him an added perspective.
To discuss Richardís music, sign on to his mailing list by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following message in the body of your email: subscribe shindell-list. Traffic is usually moderate, about 10 messages a day as of this writing (7/2002). Archives are on the web at http://grassyhill.org/stax/shindell/
(You can also find Richard's lyrics and chords at Ron Greitzer's great site)
Courier (Live) - Signature
Richard Shindell EPs:
The Sonora Sessions - Live sampler bonus when offered with initial orders
"Fast Folk" CDs (listed earliest to most recent):
Songs included on Other Compilations or elsewhere
|Not-so-New Review...||Richard Shindell at the Iron
Horse, Northampton, Massachusetts,
October 19, 1998
Richard Shindell at the Iron Horse
Sunday night, after a rousing show by Dee Carstenen (a tough act to follow), Richard put on his usual spellbinding performance. By turns exuding vocal power and quiet intensity, he had the packed house silent, mesmerized by "Cold Missouri Waters," and then shouting out favorites and stamping for more. I've been listening to some of those songs for six years now, and they don't pall; the stories change from time to time, though, and Richard seemed more assured and relaxed than his last visit. He played a lovely new tune, written on the plane from Argentina where his wife's family lives. He played one of his older covers, "Friend of the Devil," although I *think* he muffed a verse or two. He played "Money for Floods," a masterpiece, all those subtle shades of meaning packed into brief, pain-filled words. (It would also make a rallying cry for liberals, for the restoration of welfare benefits, in my book.) He managed to make "Are You Happy Now" sound new. The chemistry with Dar Williams was great, so nice to see friends at work together. There were the usual tuning mishaps that Richard handles so gracefully, a request for the Yankees score, and a few missed verses. Isn't "Reunion Hill" one of the most beautiful songs ever? Can you think of anyone else who could have written "Blue Divide"? A great show, a great show.
As usual I get to pondering just what makes Richard's music rise above the rest. Thinking about "Cold Missouri Waters," written by James Keelaghan but sung by Richard, and listening now to "Cry, Cry, Cry" (the latest CD by Richard, Dar Williams, and Lucy Kaplansky, all of it cover tunes), I have a theory. He doesn't compromise with himself. With a very few exceptions that are probably just a matter of taste, all his songs are careful works of craft, written with "density," (Richard's own word), rich, because they can be mined for so many levels of meaning, personal and philosophical. And except when he's physically exhausted or (in my opinion) somewhat misguided by arrangers and an unfortunate predilection for country music :) all his songs are performed with exquisite care. That is, he cares about the songs and the stories they tell, not about his own image or the bottom line.
And because he doesn't compromise, that's why
you won't get an album a year from Richard, but instead, one song at a
time, eked out slowly, supplemented by terrific cover tunes. He'd
rather sing someone else's masterpiece than churn out just another song.
He's not merely a
||Richard Shindell at the Iron
Horse, Northampton, Massachusetts, December 14,
If it wasn't already obvious, Richard's show at the Iron Horse said loud and clear that Richard has "arrived," and I guess those of us who used to enjoy church basements will just have to learn to share! Richard had the slightly bemused look of a man who's had a lot to absorb in the last six months, new baby, touring with Dar Williams, touring with Joan Baez, England, Europe, Ireland, then, his first gig back, packing the Iron Horse. I sat next to the stage and had the pleasure of turning round now and again to observe the rapt, mesmerized gaze of the audience. As is often the case, he started off quietly, and warmed up progressively, giving us a few more great stories, including one or two about his little daughter (3 years old) that were sidesplitting. Well, he is a storytelling singer, after all!
Particularly effective were "Reunion Hill" and that incredibly singable song "Next Best Western" (who among us has *not* sung it in the car), Nora, as usual; a very subtle interpretation of "By Now," "Sittin' On Top of the World" that always makes me wish he'd do more blues. One excellent quality of these newer songs, "Reunion Hill," "Next Best Western," "Money for Floods," and "I Saw My Youth Today" in particular, is that they are so compelling that the performer himself can't really get jaded and bored. Or so it feels. The same might be said of "Nora," and various others. "Fishing" is a great song, no question, but the speed and rhythm can drive it too fast occasionally, and that's also true of some of the other up-tempo songs. I'd be interested to know if Richard feels that way about his songs, that some of them he performs, others just happen and he is carried along.
Difficult moments involved a broken string, and
of course, Richard's inimitable tuning style -- I noted the absence
of his usual funny stories about that, but maybe gentle self-deprecation
could be taken amiss in such a lofty venue! I spoke to Richard before
the show and it sounded like he might have had a slight cold, that probably
could not be detected from his performance. I hope after all his travels
Richard can slow down and rest.