Friday, April 8, 2011

Hotel Lights

If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm heavily influenced by music. Give me the right album on my very worst day, and I'll get through it. I've recently been going through some of my REALLY old stuff and I thought I'd give a big shout out today to one of my favorite bands, Hotel Lights.

Darren Jessee formed his own group after Ben Folds Five broke up in 1999. I was fortunate enough to catch him play live solo in New York around the same time. I believe it was before the official break up of BFF. I was posting on a BFF forum, talking about how I wanted to see Darren play live, but had no friends to go with. An amazing group of fans took me under their wing, I met up with them in Massachusetts, we drove to New York and had an amazing time. This was all before the days of GPS's and way before I had a cell phone, and come to think of it, meeting random people from the internet wasn't the most brilliant idea ever, but it all turned out fine in the end. The only regret that I have is that I've completely lost contact with these people. If by any chance Jodi, Rachel, Kate or Leigh is reading this, I'm the crazy girl that drove from Rhode Island to go to see Darren play with you! Email me!

And just to prove it, here's a photo from that night. I cringe at the quality now, but to 19 year old, aspiring photographer Audra, this was one of my all time favorite photos. In my defense, I was using a point and shoot film camera without flash because I didn't want to disrupt Darren. I was lucky enough to get to talk to D after the concert and he was completely gracious and kind to me. I was one of those awe struck fans that could barely get two words out, but he smiled at me and asked me where I had come from. I quickly explained my journey from Rhode Island, how I'd have to pull an all nighter to be able to drive back and make it to my performance the next morning. He asked me what performance I had, and I explained that I was a trumpet player in my university marching band. And yes, to this day I am still mortified about admitting that, but he just laughed and said, hey, I was in marching band too!

What I love most about Hotel Lights is being able to see the band grow and mature over the years. I can say I was there right from the beginning. I've heard songs from his short solo tour turn into album tracks, sometimes almost exactly as he performed them 10 plus years earlier, sometimes with only the melody remaining. I'm incredibly excited that a new album is coming out this Summer, and I really hope that there is some kind of tour to accompany it. I think I've improved slightly as a photographer and I think I wouldn't be so completely awestruck this time least I hope not...

Now for the music! Darren released a version of the song later known as "Magic" before it appeared on Ben Folds Five's final album The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Mesner.  I like this version, no offense Ben, better. Following that is a song from Hotel Lights self titled album, AM Slow Golden Hit, one of my favorite tracks. There are two versions of the song Norina. The first is from the solo show I was talking about before, and the second is from the album Firecracker People. I love being able to compare the two. Next, I followed up on a song Darren cowrote with Ben Folds because I think it really showcases his songwriting, I just wish they had recorded it together! Then I found a song I had no clue existed, yey for Grooveshark!, a cover of They Might Be Giants' The End of the Tour. Finally, an oldie, but a goodie. For Those of Y'all Who Wear Fanny Packs is just Ben Folds Five goofing around in the studio, but that's Darren rapping on the track. It's such a departure from his emotional music, I had to throw it in my playlist.

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