Concerts and Shows at The Magic Bag

Margo Cilker with Jeremy Ferrara

Tuesday, July 2 - Doors 7pm - $17 adv. - All Ages

Margo Cilker's sophomore album, Valley of Heart's Delight, refers to a place she can't return: California's Santa Clara Valley, as it was known before the orchards were paved over and became more famous for Silicon than apricots. In this 11-song follow-up to 2021's critically acclaimed Pohorylle, family and nature intertwine as guiding motifs, at once precious and endangered, beautiful and exhausting. Cilker and Pohorylle producer Sera Cahoone brought most of that record's highly-acclaimed crew (studio players for The Decemberists, Band Of Horses, and Beirut) back to the studio with additional contributions from acclaimed Northwest traditionalist Caleb Klauder. Valley of Heart's Delight, Cilker's second record on Portland, Oregon label Fluff & Gravy Records, has already racked up an impressive list of accolades and year-end picks and has paved the way for 2024's extensive touring and festival appearances.

Margo Cilker lives near the Columbia River in Goldendale, Washington with her husband, songwriter and working cowboy Forrest VanTuyl, as well their dog and some horses.

These are the kind of gentle reminders you get when you listen to Portland songwriter Jeremy Ferrara. Regarded as "open-hearted and determinedly honest" by Americana UK, and as "exuding as much gentleness and vulnerability as anything in Nick Drake's catalog" by Americana Highways, Ferrara has had a storied first few years. Opening for John Craigie, Field Medic, touring the US and Europe multiple times, and signing to a label, all while working as the guitarist in fellow rising star Margo Cilker's touring band. Rarely do folk songwriters remain as centered, as earnest, and as entertaining. Ferrara comes through on his latest Darkness Is A Bright Sound with a full band heralding his philosophical delivery of songs full of gentle acceptance, and purified positivity.

On Ferrara's last effort, his deft fretwork, and comforting chord choices often found the way to front and center of the sound. Recorded with Mike Coykendall, and released on cassette tape, the album perfectly captured the folk-essence Ferrara exudes. The precision with which he plays every single note becomes mesmerizing. His gentle voice lulls you into a liminal listening space, where his etudes do the work of examining life for you. On Darkness Is A Bright Sound we get the full band effort we've been craving from Ferrara. To help capture that sound he enlisted producer Luke Temple (Adrianne Lenker, Hand Habits), recorded at Altamira Sound in Los Angeles, and had the album mastered by Jon Neufeld.

The resulting album benefits from Temple's near imperceptible, complimentary bass and synth, and blows in like the breeze. The disarming title track opens the album to find Ferrara at work, tenderly demonstrating that "nothing is truly defined," and if we –or the world– are ever able to be defined, it will be by many sides, many things, not one. With our focus shifted, our balance found, it's easy to follow Ferrara into Darkness Is A Bright Sound.

For Ferrara, the "certainty and clarity" that come and go on the track "Come And Go" are life changes, and parts of him that he's outgrown. His fidelity allows no fury, however, he's simply accepting the now.

"Paint Me Blue" was conceived after being inspired by Rebecca Solnit's essay "The Blue Of Distance" in which Solnit elucidates the purpose of the color itself: "the world is blue at it's edges and depths". This edge, this depth, is where the songwriter resides. Always on tour, going, gone, deep in thought, or diving deeper, further into song. Now moving in on a decade of experience as a touring songwriter, Jeremy Ferrara has a specific, earned perspective he's relaying back from the blue.

On the b-side of the album a theme begins to emerge. Ferrara is at his most poignant on "Reason," pontificating personal history, weighing the effects of the songwriter's endless wandering on his own life. The reason, Ferrara says "is all around us- in community, friends, and song. Everything we lose comes back in another form and everything we hold onto slips away."

Whether or not Ferrara, whose genius seems effortless, makes this breakthrough at exactly halfway through the album -between the uncertainty of "Different Way", and "Reason" is intentional or not, is unknown. But by this time you'll likely be lost in the words and phrases he leaves lying around like centuries of zen koans. That is to say, you've got time to think about it. While you ponder, Jeremy Ferrara is doing his best work. "Morning Light", a track from Everything I Hold now gets the full-band treatment it deserves. It's here that the band itself takes flight, on the beating wings of drummer Andrew Maguire. On "Like The Fog, Like The Shore" all of Jeremy's strengths are joined -the bandleader, the poet, the player, the singer, we've all been listening to can now be heard at his level best, and the band -led by fellow Portland purveyor of psych-folk Erik Clampitt's shimmeriing pedal steel– follows him right up to newfound heights. Fingerpicking into folk realms likely only visited by Nick Drake, the song slips smoothly, slowly into canon as one of the best songs of the year, if not recent memory.

By the time we arrive at "Wild / Unknown / Free", Jeremy Ferrara has once again captured our attention, and with calm, capable songwriting, shown us new ways to listen, as well as see. He sings "If I could write a song / true enough / with words to change your mind / a melody pure enough to bring you home / I'd do it all the day," and we believe him.

Jeremy Ferrara will be on a national tour in April 2024. Darkness Is A Bright Sound is out on American Standard Time Records and A For Effort Records, with distribution by Free Dirt Records.
The Magic Bag
22920 Woodward Ave
Ferndale, MI 48220
 Get Directions