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the civil wars in oregon

June 23, 2011


I’ve been struggling… I can’t seem to find the perfect words to describe Tuesday night’s events.

Yours truly, was lucky enough, and so honored, to be in a room with amazing talent on and off the stage, at The Aladdin. The following is just a small taste of a HUGE evening of music, soul, laughter and lots of heart.

I arrived in Portland a few minutes after seven, and the venue was already filling up quickly! I made my way down the isle, looking for an open seat, which I found thanks to some very kind people, and then the excitement nerves really started to kick in. I had made it.   

First off was James Vincent McMorrow. I can say for certain, that this was the first time I’ve been equally excited to see the opening act as much as the main one. It’s always been one or the other. I knew going in, that both James and The Civil Wars, were going to be amazing… the only thing I didn’t see coming, was how speechless they were going to leave me by the end of the night.

I wish you could of been there, sitting with me, looking up at the stage as James walked in. You could hear small whispers here and there, people finishing up conversations knowing the show was about to get started.

Once he opened his mouth to sing that first note, the room went silent in a heartbeat. Chills. I could see people turning to their neighbors in front of me, bewildered that this man on stage was producing such incredible sound. Effortlessly beautiful. (he opened with We Are Ghosts)

He went on to deliver an exquisite set, with very sweet anecdotes in between songs, and lots of interactions with the audience. My favorite was someone from the crowd asking, “who are you?” James proceeded to introduced himself, and then asked the man, “and who are you sir?… no, really, who are you?” 🙂 He also talked about staying the night in Roseburg, my old hometown, where I went to HS. So random!

Didn’t get the chance to talk with him after the show. I was  looking forward to it, but it didn’t work out. Next time he’s in town, I hope to just say hello 🙂

Here’s one of my favorites. I loved how still the audience was, hanging on his every word until the end.

James Vincent McMorrow — We Don’t Eat


The Civil Wars were next. Here’s where words are going to be even tougher to find.
From beginning to end, they were simply marvelous.

The lights got dim, Joy and John Paul walked over to their mics and we all cheered. They opened with Tip of my Tongue, and it was clear that we were in for a treat.

Joy looked beautiful and John Paul so handsome. I couldn’t believe they were right in front of us. The way they played off of each other is so hard to explain, because it was like they were one voice in two bodies. Their entire set was full of wonderful little moments, and I barely took any photos because I would get lost in their songs, their voices, their interaction, their playfulness. The way their voices filled that room is so difficult to put into words. So lovely.

You could tell how much fun they were having on stage, what great friends they are, and they were so great with all of us. I loved that they would stop and talk with us, explaining about their start as a duo, their backgrounds, and then sidetrack to a total different topic and make us laugh. They made us feel so special.

Most times I would catch myself with my mouth open, head tilted to one side, and a look of awe on my face. I literally had to snap out of it. It was so easy to get lost in their brilliant melody.

I truly believe that you have not really heard The Civil Wars until you experience them live. They are on another level.

At first, I fell in love with them because their songs and voices are outstanding… but that night I fell in love with them because it was not just about the sound and lyrics anymore. It was about how they tease each other while they sing/play, or glance at one another at certain moments in a song, or how in sync and attuned they are, to each other. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed such an incredible partnership on a stage.

The Civil Wars — 20 Years

After the show, a group of us stuck around in the lobby area, hoping to get a chance to meet them. They were so wonderful for coming out to spend some time with us. After everyone had gone, I was the last to say hello.

John Paul and Joy both introduced themselves, and shook my hand. I barely said my name, because my mind went totally blank. Joy was incredibly sweet, and John Paul such a gentleman. I feel like I kept smiling and repeating myself, because I was so nervous! I may not be the best at first impressions when it comes to meeting people I really care about… need to work on that.

We talked briefly about how I first heard of them (thanks Andy Barron!) and even mentioned the Paper boys over in Nashville. It was unreal. Looking back now, I had so many things I wanted to say that went completely out of my head, the second they said hello. I hope to get the chance to meet them again, and have an actual conversation. The shock will hopefully be less, and words won’t be as hard to form, and my hands might not shake as much. Here’s hoping! 🙂

With Joy and John Paul. The Civil Wars. (thanks to Allie for taking our picture!)

Thanks again, Joy and John Paul, for coming to Oregon! I’m truly amazed at the fact that I was in the same room as you. Have a wonderful rest of your tour. We all love you, and thank you for sharing your music and time with us. You are magic.

— em.


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