There’s plenty of heat coming out of Triangle music scene in North Carolina these days, as seems to be the case every half-decade or so. The reasons are several — the region’s overall economic and social diversification and success; the rise, congruent with that, of Durham as the region’s cultural third pillar as it already was a research, medical and education anchor with Raleigh and Chapel Hill; a stellar music festival to highlight the region’s best acts. But with the rise of an insular scene — fueled by a relatively condensed list of publications, social networks, venues and bands, where shows are a place where everybody knows your name, there’s a danger, too. Sometimes it’s hard for friends to be honest about the quality of their friends’ work; there’s a tendency [DUCKS] to promote at least some material that may not reach the heights promised by the homegrown hype.
Which is a long way of saying how refreshing it was to come across Ryan Gustafson, who plays both solo and as a band as The Dead Tongues. Because, even in a crowded field, Gustafson shines as a songwriter of exceptional merit. I first saw his band at Hopscotch, one of many that had been recommended to me as “really good” by various folks I know in the area (sadly, that recording is lost). I’ll beg Ryan’s forgiveness for taking that recommendation with a grain of salt, one which washed away quickly as I watched he and his full band perform.
On the road with Phil Cook as part of his “Guitarheels” band, Ryan opened that show at Rough Trade NYC with his own solo set consisting of entirely unreleased material, played by Ryan on banjo, guitar and harmonica. It’s almost unfair to compare him to the people who come to mind, so I won’t drop names, but suffice it to say Gustafson’s maturity and storytelling ability approach that of big names you’ve heard of. I’m especially partial to “The Broken Side of People,” “A Pair of Stained Glass Eyes” and “Wildflower Perfume,” but it’s hard to play favorites with Gustafson’s work. What’s for sure is that his forthcoming album (details TBD) is something that I’ll await, eagerly.
I recorded this set primarily with Rough Trade engineer Danielle DePalma’s soundboard mix, together with Schoeps MK4V microphones. The sound quality is excellent. Enjoy!
Stream the complete show:
The Dead Tongues
Rough Trade NYC
Exclusive download hosted at nyctaper.com
Recorded and produced by acidjack
Soundboard (engineer: Danielle DePalma) + Schoeps MK4V (FOB, DFC, PAS)>KC5>CMC6>Edirol R-44>24bit/48kHz WAV>Adobe Audition CS 5.5 (mix down, fades, compression)>Izotope Ozone 5 (EQ, effects)>Audacity 2.0.5 (track, amplify, balance, dither, downsample)>FLAC ( level 8 )
01 Lost in Baton Rouge
03 Graveyard Fields
04 My Companion
05 The Gold is Deep
06 The Broken Side of People Everywhere
07 A Pair Of Stained Glass Eyes
08 Embers of Midnight
09 Wildflower Perfume
10 Black Flower Blooming
11 Empire Builder
Ryan Gustafson (solo)
If you enjoyed this recording, PLEASE SUPPORT The Dead Tongues by buying their music at their bandcamp page.