Friday, June 3, 2011

I Fell in Love With Johnny Flynn Last Night...Again!

Seeing Johnny Flynn live is the equivalent of waking up one day and realizing that you've never had good sex. Everyone should be this good. When I think of how much money I've spent on shitty music, it makes me ill. Everyone I give my money to should be as talented as he is. It took everything I had this morning as I sat looking at my "other" CDs to not gather them all and throw them in the trash. He makes it look simple, but I know it really isn't. You can be taught how to play guitar or even violin but talent like this, you're born with. It isn't available to just anyone. Guitar, brass, violin, mandolin, and that voice. That voice. I'm starting to think there is nothing he can't do.

I've heard before that lightening doesn't strike twice. I can tell you that last night I learned that that is total bullshit! I was both lucky and smart enough to see Johnny Flynn play at Sonar in Baltimore on October 25th of last year. I'd never seen him live before and it doesn't seem like all that long ago when I didn't know who he was. A friend sent me one of his songs (Brown Trout Blues) via email. I fell in love with it instantly which is my way. I either totally hate something (which is usually the case) or I love it so much that it quickly becomes an obsession. Johnny Flynn is my newest obsession.

I loved this random sign in the alley above the door into the venue.

We got to Ottobar in Baltimore super early and were gleefully first in line. We had to wait outside about an hour but I felt zero shame in that. I got there early because I knew what I wanted and I was hell bent on getting it. At the last show I was able to stand directly in front of his mic stand and miss nothing and I wanted the same this time around. I know they'll probably be a time when it won't be so easy. He deserves more fame than he's got because he's so talented and clearly works hard and I think I want that for him. I'd like him to be successful (which he is because he makes music he loves without compromising) but I'm not sure I'd wish fame on anyone. It looks like a gigantic phony pain in the ass to me and I'll miss that spot at the mic.

After I claimed my spot, front and center and waited maybe 30 minutes or so, the music started. There were two supporting bands, the first of which was made up of members of The Sussex Wit. For the life of me I have no idea what their name was because I never heard anyone say it. I'm sure they did and I just missed it but a chick next to me asked the singer the name and he said it and I still missed it. Sucks to be me I guess.

He played keyboards and sang with no shoes on. Something I would have probably done as the redneck in me hates to wear shoes. It's nice to know that's universal.

The second was Caitlin Rose whose voice I loved. I had a hard time figuring them out because while she was hella cute, she was wearing boots, short shorts and a leather jacket and had an Indi kinda voice but she had two British brothers in her band, one which played the slide guitar. I kinda had an idea what I was in for when I saw the slide guitar, which I noticed was made in Nashville.

Even though I'm originally from Nashville, I've never been a fan of the slide guitar. I've heard magic worked with it but that twangy Nashville sound, I've never liked. They were good though. It just made me wonder where they're or she I guess is originally from so I came home and Googled her. She's from Nashville, which totally clears everything up for me. I also watched a few videos on her website which were pretty cool. She's interesting and seems fun. I like to look at someone and not see their potential and then be smacked down when they open their mouths. It's refreshing.

Enter Johnny Flynn.

He spent time setting up the equipment and tuning his resonator guitar right in front of me. I think this guitar is the coolest thing I've ever seen and I've seen it so much that I think I could pick it out of a lineup. It looks like it's got a metal veggie steamer on the front and I remember him saying last time that it was made in 1934. So it's an old guitar that he spends a lot of time tuning between songs, but it sounds wonderful!

The first song he played was The Box, which sounded awesome! It really was fun to have drums and all the other instruments there to get the full effect. I loved him so much when I saw him in October and I wasn't sure I'd appreciate the band being there. There's something amazing about hearing a beautiful voice like that in a room with nothing but an accompanying guitar. It's very intimate but if a concert with a full band can be intimate, last night was.

They played most of my favorite songs but not all. Playing all of his songs that I love would be impossible but they played the favorites, which is what I expected. I'd really wanted to hear Kentucky Pill last time and didn't, which I found odd, but whatever. I just wanted to hear him and wasn't disappointed. But it had been the first time I'd ever seen someone live and their CD wasn't out yet and they didn't play the first single from their new CD.

They all sounded great and the drums were powerful. The Wrote and the Writ is my favorite of his songs with Shore to Shore, Barnacled Warship and Brown Trout Blues just behind and he played all but Shore to Shore so I can't complain. Someday I'd like to hear that song live but I'm not holding my breath. Not sure why he hasn't played it because it's an excellent song, but it is what it is. Maybe he plays it other places and I just missed it. Although I've checked set lists and have yet to see it listed. Someday....

Love this one:
Although it was the end of the tour and he as well as everyone else was clearly exhausted, the music didn't suffer. He said they'd driven over 7,000 miles on this tour in a van with 7 people inside. I saw the van as I was leaving and the doors were open. What he didn't mention was that along with the 7 of them is all their shit. I don't know 7 people I would be capable of doing that with so I have even more respect for him now, especially since he has a new baby at home that he must be missing.

When starting out Churlish May he forgot the words and had to start over, but he's entitled. At least he didn't just gloss over it and keep going. I appreciated that he started over. It was kinda funny.

This is some of Kentucky Pill which went right into The Wrote and the Writ

Johnny Flynn is something we share in my house. My kids love him too! I don't really give them a choice but thankfully they seem to really like when I play him. They both ask for him by name and when I told my two year old I was going to see him last night, she ran across the kitchen singing "Cold bread, cold bread, we had!" In fact, I think that's the best thing about Johnny Flynn for me. I get to share him with my kids. My 4 year old so who has speech delays, sings his music daily and calls The Wrote and the Writ, "Our song." That's HUGE!

Another thing I love about Johnny Flynn is that that kind of talent is inspiring. I was inspired to record some of his songs last night. I was inspired to shoot over 1100 photos of he and the band last night. I was inspired to listen to his music all the way home and I was inspired to write as well, which I did and have spend the whole day doing. I got ideas during and after that show that I couldn't wait to get in my lap top. At 12:30 AM I wanted to at least make notes of everything so I wouldn't forget it today when my kids woke me up at 7 AM.

These are some of my other favorite photos of the night:

Everyone loves sharing what they love with their children. I read them books I love, we watch shows I love and I sing them songs I love daily. How nice it is to see and meet someone who is that for you. I don't want my children to grow up to be just like me. I want them to grow up with an understanding of how important self expression is and how vital it is to your well being. I want them to appreciate good music and fine art and have a love for it like their momma does.

I adore him so much that it was hard to walk away and leave him in Baltimore. The mother in me wants him to go home and spend time with his kid. The HUGE Johnny Flynn fan in me wants to beg him to come back. I thanked him for a kick ass performance and told him I hoped he'd return and left it at that after my husband took a few photos of us together.

Seriously, I can't even look at these photos without smiling! Totally priceless.

On the way to the show I was hella excited! I took this crappy photo on the way because it's something I always do:

On the way home I took this photo to show the excitement I was clearly feeling.

He also signed this for me and signed something for my friend Sam who loves him also. He asked me both times I've met him if my name had an e on the end. I just think that's funny. My husband said it's a British thing. Whatever. I don't even care.

While I was talking to him and he was signing my things, these two young girls (this was an all ages show) came up and started talking to him like teenagers do. Not that there is anything wrong with that but I got the feeling that his head was going to explode. If he wasn't spent by that point, he was well on his way after that.

So in trying to figure out which show I liked better, him alone or with the band, I came to this conclusion, I just can't decide. While I loved hearing him alone and the things he was able to do with that guitar, becasue he was alone and had to, it was nice to hear a band behind him and his sister siging as well. The drums were powerful on songs like Kentucky Pill, The Box and Barnacle Warship and the bass was a nice addition. It was also nice to see him play all of the other instruments this go around as it was just he and the guitar in October. I certainly am glad I was able to bring a real camera this time. I brought a PnS last time because the venue was less open to cameras. I never understand that. My photos are going to be on Flickr and my videos on You Tube. I'm spreading the word my friends. Isn't that a good thing?

I love Johnny Flynn, have I mentioned that?

You can see my blog from the last Johnny Flynn concert HERE.


  1. Aw, this is so cool. Wow, what a show it must have been. Love the pictures. I'm afraid I'm a big fan of barnacle warship..which I listen to the moment I get in the car. Then there is that playlist of slow sweet songs that helps me relax at night. I'm in aw how he comes up with some rich lyrics that conjure such a history. He is a true artist. Lucky you. I'd be smiling too.

  2. "Like a new religion burning through my head.."

    How great is this. I'm so hoping the hall is much bigger than our local one. Yet, I like that setting, too. Such wonderful pictures. I hope he gets more recognition with all he does as a musician.

    I remember when I saw playradioplay and the guy was basically solo. I felt bad for him having to pack all up at the end to take to the bus.

  3. Neat, Michelle!! HI! I'm a new GFC follower (Barb) and rss feed follower to your blog, via the Sunday Blog Hop from Pink Dandy Chatter and Between the Lines.
    My blog's at:

    barbs562 {at} gmail {dot} com

  4. James Mathe was probably the opener. James (the keyboardist) and Adam (the bassist), right?
    You got some really great photos! I foolishly only had my itouch for photos, and my shots from the Bowery came out pretty grainy.

    ( )

  5. Wow...he is incredible!!! Thanks for sharing!!! Stopping by from PYHO.

  6. OMG I just happen to find your blog because I was looking up something about Johnny....I just started listening to him about a month ago; I looked him up bcuz I am a Mumford and Sons freak and have never lookd back...I feel exactly like you do...he is so beautiful and talented and the most unique music I've ever heard. Mumford and Sons are the best band around as far as I'm concerned and Johnny is right next to them...if you listen close enough Marcus does some similar things with his voice that Johnny does...I am praying Johnny comes to WA state next year....if I win the lottery I plan on sponsoring him!! LOL...thanks for the photos you lucky person!! He looks more mature now in your photos....

  7. He is even better live, isn't he?

    Thanks for reading my blog