One of my first college experiences many years ago was a College Night at the Museum of Fine Art in Boston. A few peeps and I decided to chill out in the courtyard, because every damn college student in Boston was trying to check out an exhibit or something. Or drink booze. Then, magically, Joanna Newsom showed up with her harp, and played a set. It was the ideal setting for her: a grassy area filled with flowers and perhaps birds, her sitting on a platform no more than a few inches off the ground, her audience sitting and lounging, the stars out, the moon full. It was so magical that I doubt I could see her play again unless that setting could be matched.
There does exist another such setting, and now Ms. Newsom is working to save it. Working with minimalist institution Philip Glass as part of his Days and Nights Festival, she and Mr. Glass, along with violinist Tim Fain, will perform one night of solo and collaborative performances at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco. Now, the Warfield is not a magical place (face it, San Francisco’s Mid-Market neighborhood is kind of sketchtacular, and the venue next door is a strip club where porn stars sometimes dance), but the concert this venue is holding doubles as a fundraiser to save the real magical venue: the Henry Miller Memorial Library.
Located right on the majestic and mystical California Highway 1 in Big Sur, the Henry Miller Memorial Library (HMML) was built initially as a museum and tribute to the great American author, whose ashes were scattered somewhere in the trees. It has, through folkYEAH! and other organizations, been host to many a concert, from Neil Young and Bill Callahan to Dungen and Gang Gang Dance. However, due to federal mandates of complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other safety regulations (especially because of its location within a National Park), the HMML must upgrade its facility, something it cannot afford, or face closure. Ticket sales from this event will go directly to funding this upgrade, assuring future magical concerts can occur at any given time.