William Fitzsimmons and Ben Kweller joined Joshua Radin for a short but sweet ten-day tour around the country. In downtown Sacramento, the three acoustic artists sat together on the stage at B Street Theatre.
Here is what sets this tour the most apart from the rest—rather than having a time slot for each artist to play solo on the stage, the men played together, campfire style; each taking a turn to play a song of their own. This created an intimacy unlike most live shows, where we, the audience, were invited to join in with the three friends, to laugh, cry, and sing along or make requests.
Whereas Josh was the star of the show, sitting or standing center stage, each artist was showcased as equals. William and Ben offered their own set of skills on the table. Joshua’s vocals were clean but relaxed and full of emotion. He made comments about how this tour gave him no feeling of pressure to be perfectly polished. “People have things to say or to sing, and it’s utterly inspiring when there is no pressure out there to be perfect when you perform in front of others.” He shared with us a new song, written merely two weeks before. However, it sounded practiced and polished… but even more raw with emotion than his other works, as if he hadn’t made the time yet to hold back and edit out some of the vulnerability the song had to offer.
William Fitzsimmons has always calmed me amid chaos. Whenever it was his turn to play, I felt like I was in a therapy session. However, there was no office space, and no stranger I had to confess my feelings to or to be vulnerable with. I did not need to make the effort to release my emotions. He did all the work through his skillfully plucked guitar and vibrato. I could be comfortable in the dark room with hundreds of others, feeling my heartstrings played with as his words healed me and filled me with comfort and hope. “Music for us is something that helps us understand the world and go through our emotions. It gives us eyes to see the things we don’t understand and words to speak when we cannot find them,” he muttered with his booming voice. “I’m a believer in finding hope, and music helped me find hope when things have grown tiring and hard.”
Ben Kweller was a true comic relief when emotions grew high. He seemingly refused to play sitting down, as if playing music to him was an itch to scratch and he could only scratch it while he broke into dance and song. He inspired hope in his love songs, speaking fondly of his true love, of his life on tour, and causing the audience and his fellow musicians to burst into the kind of laughter that makes you lose your breath and weep with joy. In the middle of his songs, he would take the time to stop, talk a little, then continue. He reminded me much of when my musician friends and I would goof around in our rooms, showing each other our latest and proudest works without taking ourselves too seriously.
For the last song, Josh Radin stepped away from his microphone and sang the first song he learned on guitar, a song from the late Bob Dylan. As he walked into the front of the stage, I felt as if I was on there with him. He met our eyes and smiled before saying goodnight.
William, Ben, then he, all gathered hands and bowed.
Review by Helana Michelle