The Art Of Storytelling
Article and Photos By: Jennie Walker
Many cartoons exist in the world that revolve around the idea of vulnerability. Some of them depict a person offering up a heart, seemingly one they ripped out of their chest, up to another person. Others shows a person scared, staring in silence and waiting for some response. Yet none of them seem to compare to the vulnerability of the singer-songwriter: standing on a stage, instrument in hand, sharing your past to a bunch of paying and thus judgemental strangers. It's a feat that takes great strength to do and on October 7th, Liza Anne and Ray LaMontagne did it beautifully.
Liza Anne started off the night and confronted the discussion head on. She played her songs with such beauty and acknowledged their story lines and where they originated from. Some of them came from overwhelming panic. Others came from drunkenly calling someone to tell them she loved them. "Turn your phone on airplane mode - it's always a safe bet. Know yourself and how many drinks is too many," she introduced one song with a small smile. It's the sort of story that can be hard to tell over and over, relieving a drunkenly open moment and then recounting it to hundreds of new people every night. Yet Liza simply closed her eyes, tilted her head back, and sang without fear.
It was the perfect way to set up a crowd for the peaceful songs of Ray LaMontagne. By the time he came on stage, the crowd was ready to accept all of his sung stories with open hearts. Ray began with "No Other Way," a song containing the repeated line of "I can see through you can see through me." Stories of vulnerability had once again taken the stage with subtle confidence.
Yet not all songs were from the point of view of the storyteller. "Beg Steal and Borrow," which came next, was both a tale about a struggling man's actions and a letter of reassurance that everything would turn out okay. By the time "New York City's Killing Me" arrive in the set list, I had to put down my camera and tilt my head back against the wall. It was as if I was hearing the past version of me explaining themselves better than I could ever dream of doing. I had never heard the song before, yet I knew exactly what it was saying.
I wasn't the only one that connected with the music throughout the night. In the dressed up, sold out audience of Merrill Auditorium, people clapped and cheered consistently. When a slight technical snafu happened in the early moments of Ray's set, the audience treated the break like an encore and made noise until he was back on stage. Every song was met with positive response, every story told understood and noticed. Vulnerability was listened to and appreciated.
Music served its purpose when played through Ray LaMontagne and Liza Anne.