Ryley Walker, Steve Gunn & Ryan Jewell Trio: March 5, 2019 Union Pool

March 7, 2019
By
Photo by Drew Gardner

Ryley Walker led off his March 2019 Union Pool residency with a shot of his usual self-deprecating humor, telling us he just got dumped and that this was his first show as a New Yorker (he’s lived here for months and performed quite a few sets here since). For those of us who’ve followed his career for the past five-plus years, we knew at least one thing to expect next: Ryley’s music is as serious as his stage persona is flippant.

Still, that couldn’t quite prepare us for the trio set with Steve Gunn and Ryan Jewell that followed. This trio could have done any number of things well, but what we ended up with reminded me tonally of Gunn’s collaborations with the drummer John Truscinski — with a hundred percent more guitar. Over the course of this 50 minute improvisational piece (titled by yours truly given the lack of a given one), I was struck by how, in the right hands, an instrument can be a person’s voice. Take Walker at his word — or put yourselves in the shoes of almost anyone who first moves to NYC from their hometown — and you knew what kind of energy he was working with: frenetic, exuberant and relentless. He played like a person aching to be seen, announcing themselves in an unfamiliar place. It wasn’t his first show as a New Yorker, but it might be the first one with that alchemical mix of awe, anxiety and urgency that turns you into the kind of person who belongs here.

Gunn’s trademark guitar tone undergirds the entire piece, a beacon for what’s to come. There’s a sweetness and calm to even Gunn’s noisiest work that’s of a piece to his own stage persona: confident but laid-back about it, extraordinary without overreaching. Like his recent guest appearance with William Tyler, this collaboration with Walker made for an incredible combination of peer guitarists operating at their creative and artistic peaks (not to say they won’t enjoy more). Likewise the conservatory-trained Jewell, an almost-constant among Ryley’s touring bandmates, who comes in and out of the foreground of this extended improv at the right moments, adding drone-style percussion at critical ebbs in the volume.

From his noise roots to his folk-leaning earlier albums to his wholly-new current material, Walker proves over and over that he refuses not to stretch himself artistically. It was hard to take photos of this show. You could get a clear shot of Steve, eyeing Ryley from stage left. But Ryley Walker, he was a blur, especially at this piece’s final, ecstatic climax. Like a true New Yorker, he never stops moving.

I recorded this set with a flawless feed from Union Pool’s engineer Doug Graham, together with Schoeps MK5 microphones at the soundboard. The quality is excellent. Enjoy!

Thanks as always to the artists and the Union Pool team for having us.

Download the complete show from its Live Music Archive page.

Ryley Walker, Steve Gunn & Ryan Jewell Trio
2019-03-05
Union Pool
Brooklyn, NY  USA

Recorded and produced by acidjack

Soundboard (engineer: Doug Graham) + Schoeps MK5 (XY, at SBD, DFC)>KC5>CMC6>>Sound Devices MixPre 6>24/48 polyWAV>Adobe Audition CC>Izotope Ozone 5>Audacity 2.2.2>FLAC ( level 8 )

Tracks [Total Time 51:41]
01 [Chicago rap]
02 Exodus 2 Brooklyn pt 1
03 Exodus 2 Brooklyn pt 2
04 Exodus 2 Brooklyn pt 3

Ryley Walker – guitar
Steve Gunn – guitar
Ryan Jewell – drums

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3 Responses to Ryley Walker, Steve Gunn & Ryan Jewell Trio: March 5, 2019 Union Pool

  1. Eric Taylor
    March 8, 2019 at 4:33 pm

    Thanks for being there and making such a high quality recording.

  2. March 8, 2019 at 11:57 pm

    Thanks! Much more recordings from this month from Ryley to come, am I right?. Thanks for your kickass recordings!

  3. johnnypaddock
    May 5, 2019 at 5:35 pm

    Incredible… Thanks so much.

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