Live From The Great Room: Andrew Bird, Adia Victoria, Jimbo Mathis @ Park City Song...
With live shows and intimate, MasterClass-style panels, the Sept. 7–10 Park City Song Summit “redefines the live music experience.” This year’s installment featured conversations surrounding social equity within music as well as the struggles and breakthroughs of the creative journey, creating an environment for connection between artists and audiences like never before. Names such as Warren Haynes, Tré Burt and Keller Williams’ Grateful Gospel graced several venues along Park City’s Main Street and the Lodges at Deer Valley. An auction supporting charities such as Backline showcased the Summit’s focus on underrepresented topics within the industry—namely, mental health and addiction. While the Summit was previously held in 2019, organizers said that 2022 was unrecognizable; here’s to hoping that this unique, incredible event continues to flourish!
Usually hosted in Andrew Bird’s home, YouTube interview and live music series Live From The Great Room enjoyed a taping in the Park City Song Summit’s Great Room Friday, Sept. 9. Joined by Adia Victoria and Jimbo Mathis, this was one trio I’m glad I made time in my schedule to see.
Things started off great and only got better: “Magnolia Blues,” my favorite Victoria song, was absolutely enchanting live and made even more captivating thanks to Bird’s evocative violin and Mathis’ slappin’ acoustic guitar. I didn’t have prior knowledge about the series, so when Bird began chatting onstage with Victoria and Mathis, I realized I was in for the best of both the panel and intimate music worlds.
The conversation flowed with natural ease as Victoria and Bird discussed their poetic backgrounds. “[It’s] hard to draw a distinction between my poetry and my music, my lyrics,” Victoria said, going on to mention how she engages with her poetry as if it were music. In between songs such as Victoria’s “South For The Winter” and Mathis and Bird’s “Big Velvet Rope,” the conversation touched on the South as a muse, past musical inspirations and Victoria’s personal journey to her sound.
Adia Victoria is an absolute experience to listen to live, but even more incredible is it to watch her perform. When chatting with Mathis and Bird, her joy is infectious, her smile blooming brightly on her face as she cracks jokes. But, from the moment the count is uttered, something else seems to take over her entirely. As if her voice wasn’t captivating enough, Victoria’s deep concentration is riveting. Singing appears to be a visceral, full-body process for Victoria—it’s as though her voice breaks out of her. Victoria’s control is immaculate, ranging from breathy and ethereal to gritty and grounded. No matter what, she intertwined seamlessly with the tenderness of Bird’s violin and Mathis’ guitar.
Bird spoke to Victoria’s talent as they went into “Left Handed Kisses,” saying that Victoria reminded him of Fiona Apple in many ways, including her spirit. This moved Victoria: Apple is “why I do what I do.” And did she do it—Victoria killed this “complicated piece of music,” as Bird puts it. Immediately when the song finished, she broke into a happy exclamation, embracing Mathis and Bird with a cheerful grin.
Until eighth grade, Victoria wasn’t allowed to listen to secular music. But after moving to Nashville from a small town in South Carolina, Victoria became engrossed with the storytelling of country greats like Johnny Cash. For her, country “elevated the specific to the universal,” making her Southerness accessible and resonant. To celebrate the bridge between Black and White Southern music, Mathis, Bird and Victoria launched into a stellar version of Bessie Smith’s “Send Me To The ‘Lectric Chair” to close out the taping.
If you couldn’t make the Park City Song Summit, keep an eye out on Bird’s YouTube (@andrewbirdmusic) to see the panel!