06/14/12 The Ark* Ann Arbor, MI
06/15/12 Summer Sounds* Cedarburg, WI
06/17/12 The Space* Evanston, IL
06/18/12 Flying Mango* Des Moines, IA
06/20/12 Winchester Music Lakewood, OH
06/22/12 SK6ERS Field Day Vienna, VA
06/23/12 SK6ERS Field Day Vienna, VA
06/26/12 Tin Angel* Philadelphia, PA
06/27/12 Infinity Hall* Norfolk, CT
06/29/12 Live from Freehold* Freehold, NJ
06/30/12 Arts at the Armory* Somerville, MA
* special SK6ERS acoustic set
Chris Koza is the headliner and he will explore the meanings of the lyrics and importance of words in songs…
Before we get to the music, I wanted to talk a little about the Fitzgerald Theater. I thought I had never been here, but, as it turned out, I've seen Belle & Sebastian here nearly ten years ago. The theater is the oldest theater in Saint Paul and have 1,000 seats (including a few balcony booths).
Each of the three guests (Gabe Douglas, Caroline Smith, and Sims) did one original song and one cover. Plus, Rogue Valley's Linnea Mohn covered Bjork's "Hyberballad", complete with fake swan, while orchestra Matt Olson wrote and sang an original song. The rest of the show is basically Rogue Valley songs and covers.
Highlight of the show was a toss up between Rogue Valley doing a cover of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" and Koza's "Mmmm Medley". The latter is basically a combination of all the nonsensical "lyrics" of popular songs throughout the years (including whistling from the "Young Folks" song and the Smurf's theme song).
Odd bit of the night, but the crowd's favorite according to their cheers, was a game called "Encore" … which Douglas changed the rules. And the funny thing is, Koza just went with it.
I think the artist's choice of cover say a lot about the music they like and are influenced by. Caroline Smith did a Beyoncé cover, "Why Don't You Love Me", Sims did Outkast's "Bombs Over Baghdad", and Gabe Douglas did David Bazan's "Virginia". Koza's musical influence seems to be in that singer/songwriter area: from Jeff Buckley to Leonard Cohen… but that's not to say that he isn't ashamed to admit to loving Katy Perry or Led Zeppelin or Beastie Boys.
So, remember the "importance of lyrics" theme? I liked Caroline Smith's answer, which she tried and explained that the lyrics she wrote when she was 16-18 was so much different than her view of the world at her age. Her songs now, she confessed, is not that exciting: about training her dog, about sewing… vs her broken heart and boys when she was younger. I think what she was trying to say is that the lyrics had special and different meaning at different time in her life.
I would like to add my own thoughts on the subject: I love lyrics. That's why I listen to pop, folk, sissy music, and not, say, classical or movie soundtracks. I like it when lyrics are clever (the Lucksmiths are a great example), I like it when lyrics tell a story, and I especially love lyrics that has a great melody. If there's anyone that understands how important lyrics are to their songs, take it from the lyrical master, Chris Koza, who wrote about forty songs in a year for Rogue Valley's ambitious four seasons project.
Chris Koza closed out his set with "Red River of the North", followed by an acoustic version of Rufus Wainwright's "In A Graveyard". The encore was Rogue Valley's "Rockaway", which is their most upbeat and hand-clappy song.
Look for Chris Koza playing acoustic with Stephen Kellogg at many of their sold-out shows (they previously toured with Koza last year).
Left to right: Sims, Caroline Smith, Gabe Douglas, and Chris Koza at Fitzgerald Theater, St Paul (06/08/12)