Tag Archives: Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens joins Clogs at Merkin Concert Hall

Sufjan Stevens joins Clogs onstage at Merkin Concert Hall. (Copyright 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

The minute I settled into my seat at Merkin Concert Hall on Saturday night, March 12, it struck me that we’d be seeing Sufjan Stevens before the night was out. (Forgive me, I hadn’t checked Brooklyn Vegan before I went. If I had, this would have been much more than just a hunch!)

I wasn’t sure whether it would be as a member of the audience or the onstage ensemble — though I hoped for the latter. After all, the prolific Stevens has never been shy about sharing his talents with his friends. We’ve seen him hang quietly in the back of clubs like (Le) Poission Rouge, listening to the music of one of his musical idols, Steve Reich. And we’ve seen him take the stage with other friends before, including Clogs at the Bell House last March.

Shara Worden and Sufjan Stevens at Merkin Concert Hall. (Copyright 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

Sufjan did not disappoint us. He came, he played banjo and sang We Were Here, acting in his self-effacing way just any other hired musician. It was a wonderful moment and a delightful surprise. But I don’t want to sell Clogs short. The concert was delightful even before Sufjan arrived onstage.

Clogs put on a beautiful show as part of the excellent Ecstatic Music Festival. Wonderfully quirky vocalist Shara Worden, in an extremely colorful ensemble, joined Clogs to sing and play some guitar on several tunes from the latest Clogs album, The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton, on which she appears. The band also did some older tunes and a new song cycle, called Unattended Shadow, by the band’s violist, Padma Newsome. (Clogs’ lineup is rounded out by Rachael Elliott on bassoon and Thomas Kozumplik on percussion.)

(Sorry for the iffy photo quality, but Merkin is pretty strict about its no-photography policy.) Continue reading

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Sufjan Stevens, Shara Worden guest with the Clogs

Bryce Dessner, Shara Worden and Padma Newsome. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Sufjan Stevens joins the Clogs on banjo.

The Clogs, with Padma Newsome on vocals, violins, harmonium, keyboard and a few other instruments, and Bryce Dessner (The National) on guitars and other strummed strings, entranced the crowd at The Bell House in Brooklyn on Wednesday night.

A very pregnant Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond) added her own beautiful, haunting vocal vocal touches. Other permanent members of Clogs are Rachael Eliott on bassoon and Thomas Kozumplik on percussion. The Bell House performance was supplemented by a second percussionist and horn section at times.

But the real surprise of the evening was greeted by an audible gasp when Sufjan Stevens appeared onstage to play banjo on one song.

Clogs music is a bit difficult to pigeonhole. It’s definitely not rock, but it’s not classical. It bridges the two and winds up being unique. At one point Bryce made reference to a review that called one of the group’s songs “knotty.” Shara promised to try to sing in as knotty a fashion as possible.

Click through to the jump for more information and photos. Continue reading