The Mighty Sequoia

Posted July 1, 2013 in

... But The Mighty Sequoyah are too good to go on hiatus!

By the time this story runs, Caleb Darger will be gone. Oh God, no, not dead … just off the worldly grid. The lead singer/guitarist for the The Mighty Sequoyah will be in the Missionary Training Center in Provo, preparing to embark on a 700-plus day journey of spiritual serfdom in Taiwan—a country where about 0.2 percent of its population is Mormon, which is roughly the same amount of people that are practicing members of the Tenrikyo religion. But if anyone could convert the remaining 99.8 percent of the Taiwanese population to the gospel of Smith, it would be Darger. He is gracious, genuine and kind—not to mention a hell of a performer. 

Friday night’s show at Velour would be The Mighty Sequoyah’s last … well, at least for a few years. The five piece band, made up of Darger, Hannah Currie (Viola/Vocals), Alex Woods (Guitar/Keys), Bret Meisenbach (Drums) and Mike Dixon (Bass/Pedal Steel Guitar) opened up with “Medicine Man” from their Sunken Houses album, a track that quickly shows what TMS is all about: thoughtful indie folk rock, beautiful song building and breathtaking harmonies. In fact, those harmonies between Currie and Darger are beyond breathtaking—they have a rare chemistry onstage that only comes from two talented people believing in their music so much that the sounds coming from them almost become a tangible object.
One of the many highlights of the night was “The Insider,” a song that Darger said was recorded on their 2011 release, Relative, but re-recorded for Sunken Houses because the first go “Didn’t do it justice” (he’s right by the way). A relatively raucous track, the band had the crowd dancing around, and Darger actually did most of his guitar solo in the middle of the song while crowd surfing.  
After the show, Darger and I were discussing spirituality and how performing compares to what he is hoping to find on his mission. I ask him about a moment, toward the end of their set, as they were performing “Lighthouse” from Relative, as the song was wrapping up, Darger was singing “Hold on now, I will be there for you,” and the crowd spontaneously joined in. This went on, the line being repeated, for roughly a minute. It was stunning, like something out of a revival meeting. “It’s the same thing,” said Darger. “Anyone who sees our shows knows that we love harmonies, and nothing is more powerful than a bunch of people singing together.”  
Though their leader is going off to bring the good word to the Far East, this doesn’t mean that the rest of the group is just going to wait around for him to get back. Dixon, who not only is a great musician but also a Japanese Professor at BYU, is playing with Memory Map, a “creepy pop band” (their words) out of Indiana; Meisenbach, who is one of the best drummers I’ve ever seen live—seriously—is playing with a punk outfit called Baby Ghosts; the incredibly talented Woods is involved with Salazar; and Ms. Currie, the indie-banged, blonde version of Feist, well, she got married a few weeks ago and is doing nothing. So, if you are a band looking for a badass violaist with a simple but stunning singing voice, hit her up. 
As they were closing the show with the tender song “Porcelain” in front of a crowd of fans, friends and family, I was thinking that the rest of the band should just pull some sort of ‘Dear John’ situation and and replace Elder Darger. They’re just too damn good for a hiatus. I mean, sure, he’s a perfect fit, it won’t be the same without him, they are meant to be together, blah blah blah. How many outgoing missionaries have heard that shit before?


... But The Mighty Sequoyah are too good to go on hiatus!