Father John Misty

Friday, July 20 • 7:30 p.m.

TICKETS: Reserved $45 | Standing Room Only $42 | Lawn $38 | Child (1-12) Lawn $28 
GATES OPEN: @ 5:45 Early Entry | 6:00 General Public

Father John Misty

In the chronicles of Father John Misty, the thirty-six-year-old singer-songwriter whose real name is Josh Tillman, the cardinal psychedelic encounter has him naked in a tree, in Big Sur, in 2010, zonked on magic mushrooms. At the time, Tillman was the drummer for Fleet Foxes, the popular indie folk band, and was living in Seattle.
He’d also made eight mostly neglected albums of gloomy folk music under the name J. Tillman. Amid interpersonal discord, creative frustration, and turning-thirty discontent, he split town in an Econoline van, with a big bag of mushrooms, and meandered down the coast. One day, he went for a hike, and, as the psilocybin kicked in, he began to shed layers of clothing, until he found himself perched on a limb, stripped bare before an indifferent universe. Scratching himself, he thought, I’m an albino ape, and I can do whatever I want. He realized that he didn’t have to identify himself exclusively with his disappointments as a musician or with his bitterness about being in someone else’s band: “I should just be myself.” “Myself” was a funnier, more playful, more self-lacerating—and just plain lacerating—version of whoever he’d tried to be as J. Tillman. He returned to Seattle, packed up his things, moved to Los Angeles, and started working on a novel. He recognized his voice in it, in a way that he hadn’t in his music. After a while, he picked up a guitar and started writing songs again, and these, too, seemed different. One of the songs was a country-rocker called “I’m Writing a Novel.” The hook went, “I’m writing a novel, because it’s never been done before.”

This is when he invented the alter ego of Father John Misty—or, in his rendering, discovered a truer self and gave it a name. The moniker, he has often said, is a random and admittedly silly collection of syllables. But it accommodates his unease about the role of the singer-songwriter and the characters one has to play onstage. “There’s something innately false about performance,” he told me. “I wanted to be authentically bogus rather than bogusly authentic.”

The presumption tends to be that Tillman is playing tricks, putting one over on us. Listeners can get their backs up: You can’t fool me. “People think I’m toying with them, playing twelve-dimensional chess,” Tillman said. “And if you take it that way, and you think I’m despicable as a result, I get it, because that is a despicable thing to do. But you’re not getting suckered.”

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Guest Artist: Blitzen Trapper

Blitzen Trapper

A question I ask myself, why make records? And why in particular did I make this record? I've made lots of records, about half of them shared with the world, the other half squirreled away for no good reason.

Songs upon songs upon songs.
But I guess in the end I just had some stories to tell, like the one about the cop turned cocaine dealer, or the murderous 13 year old girl, or the underage lovers who steal her mom's checkbook, her dad's truck and go on a spree down the west coast, free as the wind, until it becomes clear the boy is addicted to heroin, the physical freedom outstripped by enslavement to the substance. And but lets not forget the one about the woman in the black TransAm who steals hearts from wrecked/jaded men deep in their cups, another form of internment. Stories upon stories.

Each story is true in some sense.

So I guess I have my reasons for making a record. For adding to the overwhelming fetid deluge of content running wild, pushing at the banks of cultural consciousness for no good reason. And really the value of a record seems to be increasingly non-monetary. As it should be I guess, the true craft, the reality of music, of voice, is played out on stages across the country, not in bluetooth earbuds.

And so 10 years after Furr, a record that touched a vein and continues to, the song itself more widely known than the band that made it, after 10 years of touring with Blitzen Trapper, after all the drug busts, run-ins with the law, drunken nights/fights/wrecks, flings with fans/groupies/angels, run ins with demons/criminals/saints, TV appearances, court appearances, disappearances, what do we have to show for it?Nothing much that can be physically pointed to, it's more a feeling. A cerebral kind of currency, of having communed/partaken/contributed to the dialogue of rock music, of the musical arts as well as a sense of America as a whole. This country like a willfully ignorant child, blind to its faults, not knowing how good it has it, half-heartedly adhering to a God that no longer exists, its leadership nothing but a mirror held up to its own fat misshapen face. To possess this sense, this knowledge is worth its weight in gold. This is the true meaning of that genre we are a part of, what we call Americana.

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Pre-concert music: The Talbot Brothers

Begins in the Britt Performance Garden at 6:00 p.m.