A little more than a week ago, I had the great pleasure of attending a We Are the Willows show at The Cabin. I had been looking forward to it for some time. I love the band and I love the venue. I was not disappointed in any way with what I experienced… even though I left the concert before it was over (more on that in a moment). I expected to enjoy the band’s unique instrumentation, excellent musicianship, and Peter Miller’s soaring vocals. I certainly got all that, but I got two surprises as well. Those two surprises made the night for me.
The first surprise came right at the beginning of the show. LOTT (WATW’s violinist/backing vocalist, Leah Ottman), opened the show with a set of her original work. It was just her voice, her violin, and some recorded instrumentation, yet her performance filled the room. It was intense, emotive, creative… all the elements I crave in music. She is a gifted songwriter, vocalist, and violinist. I got chills several times during her set. I want to hear more.
The second surprise came toward the end of We Are the Willows’ set. They were excellent, just as they were when I saw them in November of last year. But, I was a little more clued in this time around. As I mentioned in my previous post about the band, their new album is focused on the content of over 300 letters sent by Miller’s grandfather to his grandmother when he was in the military, serving overseas. Knowing that going into this show, I was able to listen more attentively, and hear some of the love and deep intimacy in the songs as they played them. I was captivated.
In between a couple of songs, Miller shared a story about spending some time with his grandfather, who was suffering from dementia. There was a lamppost just outside the window of the room where they met, which his grandfather consistently thought was a tree, and he would talk about how awkward the tree was and that it needed to be “analyzed.” One day, as they were looking out the window, discussing that tree, Miller’s grandmother walked between them and the window and caught the grandfather’s attention. He then turned to Miller and said (after 66 years of marriage and while suffering from dementia): “I’d like to analyze that!” That story still strikes me. It’s funny, of course, but it speaks to something deeper. There was a deep, intimate connection between Miller’s grandparents. That connection was evident in the songs sang that night and in this story, as well as other anecdotes Miller shared.
As the evening grew late, and the band’s set continued, I found myself longing to be with my wife. This was so to the point that I actually left before the concert was over, for the sole purpose of going home to be with her. Now, I have an extraordinary wife, and it is my privilege to spend my days with her. But, there was an additional dynamic in play that night. Miller’s words and music had affected me deeply. They drew me back home to my wife.
So, to Miller and the rest of the band, I personally apologize for leaving early. At the same time, I want to thank you for such personal and intimate songs. And, thank you for playing them with the passion and musicianship they warrant.