The organization that gives precedence to the private concert experience just hit 200 cities on January 6th, 2016. Sofar Sounds Global started with the vision that the more intimate a space for live music, the more appreciated the artists’ creativity and passion for their art. Like many riddles and patchwork labyrinths of the mind, the most fascinating phenomena about it all is the one big SECRET local… up until the very last minute when the guest list trickles into the venue with the final line-up reveal, much like that of the hare out of the magic hat.
Now sustaining 200 cities from North America to Europe, Africa, Oceania, and Asia as its living room, the organization spends plenty of time on social media streaming live, unplugged music to a global community of smart devices. Founder and envisioneer Rafe Offer began Sofar Sounds in London in 2009 in spite of the common frustrations of loud talking and the clanking of beer bottles at the bars where musicians often set-up shop. Today to counteract these unwanted distractions, cities everywhere are expanding their Sofar chapters by getting organized, recruiting the best sound and video crews to share living room performances, and attracting an increasingly higher standard of talent through their doors.
Dallas is one such city currently celebrating its own break-away from its initial conglomerate DFW chapter (Dallas, Ft. Worth, Denton combined), added just five years prior in September 2011. City leader Joanna Jurgens eventually became Global Project Manager, and Chris Gonzales now co-leads Dallas with JoAnna Ferguson. They have hosted an impressive number of shows simply out of love for the music. Gonzales states, ”I don’t think I ever wanted an unpaid job so bad; although it doesn’t pay monetarily, it is certainly rewarding in many other ways.” The effects of the movement have captivated others like local Music Producer/Engineer/Entrepreneur Jose Sanchez. After learning of Sofar through artists who had recorded at his studios, Jose offered not only his artist/artist management and A/V contacts and expertise, but also his studio for future set-ups.
Sofar Sounds Dallas’ last gig on January 8, 2016 in Carrollton, TX at Jose Sanchez’s studio showcased some stand-out performances by local and traveling acts:
The Demigs (@thedemigs) from Denton, TX opened the night with news of their recently released new album, Welcome to Hard Times. Stand out track “Melamine” hints Death Cab-esque lyrics like “There’s no design or reason or rhyme”. “Mr. Timer” featured the mandolin by guest musician Nicholas Morgan. Kelly Upshaw joined the band on keys adding to the mix a funkier flavor to an already substantial 4-piece.
Members: Alex Hastings – guitar, Matthew Morin – drums, Nicholas Morgan – mandolin, Chris Demiglio – vocals & guitar, Jason Bacchus – bass, Kelly Upshaw – keys. Credit William@WJNPhoto.com
Visiting Sofar Dallas all the way from Tuscon, AZ was enigmatic duo Ryanhood (@ryanhood). Cameron Hood and Ryan Green aka “Maestro” (for his riddling guitar and mandolin facility) together lead an amusing back-and-forth banter in between songs and during harmonies. Their candor and witticisms are affirmed and romanticised with songs like “I Didn’t Put Anything Into Your Place” and instrumental “Appy Jam”. The personal standout, during which Hood invited audience involvement, is “Sickbed Symphony” taken from Hood’s father’s advice, “Make your lives a song, a simple symphony.”
Ryan Green – guitar and mandolin, Cameron Hood – vocals and guitar. Credit William@WJNPhoto.com
Austinite Jaimee Harris (@jaimeeharris) offered us tales from San Antonio, a set list ripe with depressive spirit and characteristic of open-book singer-songwriters. Before the song “Imposters”, Harris reminded us of the insincerity that comes with the human necessity for acceptance and gently heeded the advice, “No matter what you do, be honest.” Her stand-out track “Catch it Now” breathes unburdened humility with lyrics like “Maybe I was just too tired to fight.” Jaimee Harris is looking forward to her debut album coming soon. Pledge a donation at www.pledgejaimee.com.
Brian Patterson – guitar, Jaimee Harris – guitar and vocals, BettySoo – vocals. Credit William@WJNPhoto.com
The Vanity (@thevanity), another Austin band closing the Sofar night, has opened for the likes of Cold War Kids and Børns. Members Alex Dugan, Mic Vredenburgh, Augie Gmitter and David Grayson are a fun-sized package with caliber written all over; if it was wearing a suit, the band would fall nothing short of aficionados with singer Alex Dungan’s intricately carved vocals and Mic Vredenburgh’s Masters in Cello rendering songs with depth and sophistication like “Black & Blue” and single, “Stay”. At a halfway point in the set, Dungan makes the boldest statement of the night, “We’re actually a really loud rock band,” given the raw, acoustic environment and nature of a Sofar show.
Alex Dungan – guitar and vocals. Credit William@WJNPhoto.com
Mic Vredenburgh (guitar), David Grayson (drums), Alex Dugan (vocals), Augie Gmitter (bass). Credit William@WJNPhoto.com
The next local Sofar Sounds secret event will be held on Saturday, January 23rd in Ft. Worth. See you there!