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      Iron City and Zero Mile present Calexico and Iron & Wine in Birmingham

      • Iron City and Zero Mile present Calexico and Iron & Wine Photo #1
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      September 26, 2019

      Thursday   8:00 PM

      513 22nd Street South
      Birmingham, Alabama 35233

      Iron City and Zero Mile present Calexico and Iron & Wine

      with Natalie Prass
      Calexico and Iron & Wine first made an artistic connection with In the Reins, the 2005 EP that broughtSam Beam, Joey Burns and John Convertino together. The acclaimed collaboration introduced both actsto wider audiences and broadened Beams artistic horizons, but it was the shared experience of touringtogether in the tradition of Bob Dylans Rolling Thunder Revue that cemented their bond. Theirmetaphorical roads diverged in the years that followed, but they kept in touch and cross-pollinated wherethey could. But although they often talked about rekindling their collaboration in the studio and on thestage, it wasnt until last year that their schedules aligned.Years to Burn cant help but be different from In the Reins. Back then, Calexico entered the studio with along list of previous collaborations (first in Giant Sand, then backing the likes of Victoria Williams andRichard Buckner) and the knowledge that they loved Sams voice and his songs, but wondering if hismaterial was so complete and self-contained that it lacked a way in, so hushed and delicate that it mightbe overwhelmed. For his part, Beam had been intimidated by their virtuosic playing and their deepcomfort in an encyclopedic array of styles. In my mind, I was a guy who knew three chords and recordedin a closet, Sam says. They were playing big stages and were superb musicians.Those fears were dispelled quickly. Calexico was bowled over by Beams many talents: The arranging,the writing, his sense of rhythm, the quality of his vocalsand then theres the experimental side of Sam,Joey says. They were the perfect band at the perfect time for me, Sam adds. I loved all their differentsounds. Theyre musical anthropologists, not regurgitating but absorbing what they discover. Nearly 15years on, coming back to the project has to do with acknowledging how much impact the first record hadfor me in my life.Beam, Burns and Convertino reconvened in Nashville for four days of recording in December 2018.Nobody was keen to retread old ground. The change of venuefrom Calexicos home base of Tucson,where In the Reins was trackedwas one part of the effort. Together with Niehaus, veteran Calexicotrumpet player Jacob Valenzuela and frequent Beam cohorts Rob Burger (Tin Hat Trio) on piano andSebastian Steinberg (Soul Coughing, Fiona Apple) on bass, they settled in at the Sound Emporium, afabled studio founded in the sixties by Cowboy Jack Clement and the site of countless landmark sessionsin country and rock over the ensuing decades. Convertino got chills when he found a framed photo ofR.E.M. on the wall: Document was recorded there.Another added ingredient was engineer Matt Ross-Spang, whose recent resume includes producingMargo Prices Midwest Farmers Daughter, working with Memphis legends like Al Green in the SamPhillips studio thats now Ross-Spangs home turf, and winning a Grammy for mixing Jason Isbells albumSomething More Than Free (another Sound Emporium project). Ross-Spang was assisted by RachelMoore; he shares production credits with Beam, Burns and Convertino.Beam wrote all the songs for In the Reins. He took the lead again here, bringing five songs to the session,but Burns added one of his own in the end too. They took differing approaches; Sam shared meticulousdemos ahead of time and was ready with arrangement ideas and instrumental parts, while Joeyspontaneous as ever, came in with concepts and an eagerness to improvise. Upon arriving in Nashville,he also penned a tune.Life is hard. Awesome. And scary as shit. But it can lift you up if you let it, Sam offers. These are thethings Joey and I write about now. And the title can encapsulate a lot of things. Years to Burn couldmean youre cocky, youve got it made. Or, our life is ours to burn, to be inspired. Or youre burned by life,brutalized. Its an ambiguous title, because life is complicated. Lets not talk like teenagers about love,desire, pain, cause were not teenagers. And thats not a bad thing.This project had to find the right time, Joey concludes. Were all different people than we were in 2004,and music helps to bridge some of the gaps. For all the things going on in our world and in each of ourlives, this connection, this friendship, this love that we havethis album is a vehicle for that bond. Its achance to see where were at, take stock and be there for our friends.ANDERS SMITH LINDALL

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