I saw Alexandra Sauser-Monnig open for Hiss Golden Messenger at Rough Trade last night, and since everyone already knows how much I love HGM—who met and exceeded all expectations—I want to take a minute here and say that Sauser-Monnig’s performance, a mix of covers (Lefty Frizzell, Eddie Arnold, Willie Nelson), gospel, and what I took to be originals, was one of the most moving and beautiful I’ve seen in years. Several songs were performed entirely unaccompanied, the guitar perfectly still in her hands. I love any artist who can make the case for the voice as a solo instrument. It was one of those shows where you wake up the next day and Google every single person who was up on the stage. So AS-M, I learned, has a trio called Mountain Man, and Phil Cook, who played banjo, slide guitar and keys for HGM, turns out to be from Megafaun, whose cover of “Friend of the Devil” (with John Darnielle and Justin Vernon) I posted here back in June. Anyway, these dudes can fucking play. Midway through the set someone in the crowd called out for “Shakedown Street,” which to me meant that even though this was not a “jammy” show—these guys were sticking to very tight, rich, and unexpectedly danceable fullband renditions of their new and old material—the crowd would have happily listened to them play anything they felt like for as long as they felt like playing it. Also that WE ARE ALL DEADHEADS NOW. In which spirit I humbly suggest that Sauser-Monnig & HGM end at least one show with “We Bid You Goodnight” because it will bring the house down and also, maybe, help redeem the world.
Above, Sauser-Monnig sings “What Wondrous Love Is This” and “Prairie Lullaby.”