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  • Andy Valeri; Big Beef Productions

He, Jonathan

(Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkins; The Foundry, Yellow Springs, OH, Feb '24)

There are few musical artists who provide the kind of joy and human connection with an audience that Jonathan Richman does. And has been doing for decades. His recent performance in Yellow Springs at The Foundry (which is back in operation at Antioch and doing some pretty great things with the venue), was certainly no exception.

Jonathan’s performances have always been semi-spiritual affairs, reconnecting us back to our own humanity through music. As my friend Steve once described described Jonathan, he’s someone who see’s the world as it truly is, and still finds the joy in it. That’s a kind of superpower in this world. We should all “Surrender To Jonathan” and have our hearts opened to the realities of our own experiences. Even the difficult ones. As he would say, better to be the denizens of our own darkness than to follow the false light of another.

And his description of what his shows entail these days is a kind of artistic manifesto of endeavoring to true expression; using the stage to go beyond performance but towards connection. And we cannot connect with another if we cannot connect with ourselves. “The music we’re doing now works well in quiet places like theaters and performing art centers. We still don’t use a program or a set list so we don’t know what we’ll do until we do it. Please do not expect old songs. Many singers my age do a retrospective; this show is not like that. It’s mostly stuff made up in the last 3 and 4 years. Some of the songs presented might be in different languages; this is not to be esoteric or clever, it’s because the different languages help me express different feelings sometimes. One last thing, my idea of a good show has nothing to do with applause. It’s about if all the songs I sang that night were ones that I felt.”

— Jonathan Richman

(Photo by Ms. Chievous)

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