My inaugural year as a Couch by Couchwest staff member has been a great one. It was an absolute honor for me to be asked onboard with this crew, and, I tell you what, they deserve all the accolades you can give them – there is so much hard work that goes into this labor of love. Additionally, the behind-the-scenes work I’ve done for CXCW has led to some really, really, really (really) wonderful developments in my personal life. So I owe a debt of gratitude to my fellow staffers for that as well as for all the hard work.
But enough of this emotional shit – on to the music!
It’s always good to see old favorites return to the CXCW stage as one of my favorite things about CXCW is the sense of community among those of us who return every year to knock back a few with our friends around the world and enjoy some great music together. I was very happy for one of my favorite CXCW regulars, Daniel Knox, to bring us another of his beautiful piano songs. And I was absolutely delighted to see Afterbirth Monkey return with another fantastically saucy ditty.
And how impressive was the Irish Showcase this year? Creative powerhouse Tony Fitz brought us another fine crop of gems from the Dublin music scene, and you should take the time to check them all out if you haven’t. Tony’s own song, from his upcoming album-with-comic-book, was my favorite of that bunch.
My favorite aspect of CXCW, though, is the new bands who come out and wow us. I, naturally, have a lot of love for the artists I helped bring to the fest this year. I was so pleased to have the good men of Mudlow and their friends play for us this year after being unable to make it happen previously. (They are a great band, and their albums Welcome to Mudlow Country and Sawyer’s Hope are sublime.) And the Dad Horse Experience helped us kick off this year with the passion I have come to know and love from him, along with some top-notch cinematography.
And I’m not sure it was properly appreciated how fortunate we were to have the “King of New Wave Horns”, Ralph Carney film a one-man jam for us this year. There is a lovely quote from Tom Waits, with whom Ralph has worked with regularly through the years, about Ralph: “Ralph’s great… He’s guided by some other source of information. He’s like a broken toy that works better than before it was broken.”
The best part of all of CXCW, though, is coming across great performances that seem to come out of nowhere, like the busking plea from the Gold Hope Duo this year. My favorite surprise gem this year came from Patricia Santos and her unique way with a cello.