Yesterday we went to go see Don Dixon perform at the Cleveland Heights Public Library. You heard me right – the library.
The setting was intimate at best – the cafe on the second floor. There were maybe two dozen people there when we arrived. A few came. A few went. A few were clearly friends of Dixon. It would have been nice had more people been there, but selfishly, I am glad there were not more.
It was just Dixon and an acoustic guitar with a pick-up. Oh, and an hour-glass, as that was the allotted time he was to perform. I do have to say, the acoustics in the library cafe were amazing. Though he had a microphone, there were times I’m not sure he actually needed one. As I have spent many a-time in that cafe reading, etc, I will have to be weary of what I say, as clearly the sound travels easily. That, and I have been blessed with a voice that carries (as my mother has mentioned in the past).
The set was (too) brief, but ultimately fulfilling. As I said in my January 2007 Record of the Month piece, I like his recorded stuff a lot, but he excels at live performance…with or without a band. Some of the pieces really stood out due to lack of the full arrangement. I love when that happens – as it shows what a good songwriter and performer can do.
The set list was varied, but I’d say about a third of it was from his latest disk The Entire Combustible World in One Small Room. I don’t know he could have done better than opening with “Then I Woke Up” which was so much more powerful than the recorded version. Then he went through songs that spanned most of his career. I’d do a set list, but I didn’t keep track of the order. Save one song, I knew most of them and I wish I knew that one (which was Denton’s favourite).
Two things surprised me a little – one was that “Heart in a Box” was written for Grace Jones (!!!!!), though she never recorded it. The second was when he said he’d play the song that made him the most money: “I Can Hear the River”. I love the song, but I never would have figured that to be THE one. I assumed it would be “Praying Mantis”, “Most of the Girls Like to Dance” or “Teenage Suicide (Don’t Do It)” – since the latter was in Heathers. I just assumed that each time the movie was sold or played he’d make some royalties. Go figure.
After the show, I got to meet Dixon (see below). It was a huge thrill for me. As I mentioned sometime a year or so ago, I don’t think I get star struck or anything and there are only a few artists I’d ever want to meet: Dixon and his wife (Marti Jones) being two of them and probably Rosanne Cash.
We spoke for maybe 5-10 minutes. I introduced myself – and though no one knows it, we had been exchanging some emails a few months back when I was off work. I had offered to host a website for him after I missed a local show he and Marti had done. I contacted the venue letting them know and the response came back from Don personally.
Dixon was extremely easy to converse with. At some point during the show he asked if anyone wanted to hear anything particular. I pondered it but never responded. After the show, he goes, ‘it looked like you were going to request something’ and I admitted that I was. We talked about his song “25,000 Days” and though I wanted to hear it, how difficult it might be to pull off solo. He thought he could do it. I joked that requesting “Teenage Suicide” might have be en inappropriate, considering the setting….there were kids in the audience. Quickly he came back with, but I say “don’t do it”.
…and he was nice enough to let me take a pic – even though he knows I have a blog (he’s read it).
If you have a chance to ever catch him solo or in a group, do it. He’s talented and underrated and such a good live artist.