July 06 2002
by Ruth
a show review



I sat at Club Passim tonight among an intimate and non-alcoholic crowd of about 125 people who came to hear Rockwell Church.

What I heard tonight is why I came to Boston.

Chris, Nur and another couple and their daughter joined us. Michelle left a message and said she had to go back to Connecticut on an emergency.

The place was packed, and Rockwell Church was just so moving. I was reminded why I like this duo more than I do most folk artists. They're understated, intelligent and willing to be completely vulnerable in front of so many people. Yet, they don't take themselves too seriously. No whining, but so much introspection. Not bratty or angry. To top it off, their voices are un-intrusive and pleasant and their virtuosity on the guitar mesmerizing.

I remembered exactly how I felt after hearing each song tonight. They all made me look inward. The song, "Everyday," for example, speaks of regret over a love he lost. He blames himself and calls to her, saying, "I know you forget me every day." The song ended, and I immediately understood what it was like to reach for something you lost by your own doing.

Then there was "Dream," from the first album, Inches from the Ground. The song is fast-paced with an acoustic groove in minor key, told through the mind of a struggling working class man who is speaking to his wife about his "civil strife." They have trouble making ends meet, so no money for fancy magazines or buying diamonds, but he tells his wife, "you find them in my dream - of a better place, better life, while coping with my civil strife, it cuts you like a knife, fix the dryer and the squeaky door, kinda makes you wonder - wonder what you're working for, babe I don't wanna run no more from you." This song made me feel angst and insecurity, but then it let me rest in certain strains as I was taken away to a pleasant - though temporary - place, which was his daydreams. It made me understand the truth of what hope is. When all circumstances fail you, one at least has her dreams.

I have to read their lyrics again, to be inspired again. Lots of folk musicians don't "do it" for me, but Rockwell Church grabs a hold of you like no other.

I ended up meeting Joti, who sang with Will in his days at Haverford. Joti said Will's arrangement of "Something About You" was the most complex of the tunes they did. I liked how casual both Joti and Nathan seemed.

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