small songs: the Wildwoods

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Smallsongs – The Wildwoods

Smallsongs is a music video series brought to you by Americana Highways featuring small & stripped down performances on the streets of different cities around the world.

I get a bit of a wonderfully strange sensation as I play back this video that I shot of the Nebraska based band The Wildwoods playing a couple songs in the historic town of Central City, Colorado. It was the last American smallsongs shoot I did before leaving the country again for Europe and I now have no plans to come back anytime soon. The way the folk trio sings around the omnidirectional microphone feels authentic as they’re surrounded by the warm architecture of this quiet casino ghost town. This genuine Americana vibe is something that I’ve almost been running from but that I keep returning to and loving to witness via smallsongs. Their stripped down old country-style performance feels timeless in a way that this music video series lends itself so nicely to. They first played a new original tune titled “Footprints on the Floor” and then we wandered to another spot for their cover of MGMT’s “Kids.” Please note the amazing audio mastering work from Noah of The Wildwoods & check out the video here before i continue on with whatever I’m about to continue on with:

I really love this video and the special moment in time that we captured/experienced/recorded together. As a kid I told myself that I didn’t like country music because for some reason that’s what a lot of us kids choose to tell ourselves. I’m also not saying that this is country music necessarily. The Wildwoods I think inhabit their own unique shapeshifting genre. I used to prefer the pretensions in the sounds of 80s synthesizers & more modern experimental indie-pop music. But then I started smallsongs which lends itself so perfectly to the raw & stripped down nature of singer-songwriters & storytellers & acoustic ballads performed like old country hits. Over time I grew more of an appreciation for this kind of music as it achieves that timeless effect that I’m continually attempting to capture. I sense similar genre blending sensations & interpretations in the minds behind The Wildwoods as they choose to beautifully cover songs like “Kids” from MGMT or “Strawberry Fields Forever” by The Beatles.

So I think it’s nice that this video with this band in that location happened when it did. Currently I’m delving more into foreign Catalonian sounds and pushing myself through smallsongs into more uncomfortable genres & sounds & languages & places & humans. To me this video with The Wildwoods represents that comfortably precious mountain zone where I come from and that a large part of me will also be connected to. The timeless Western sound of The Wildwoods somehow strikes a special musical place within a lot of us folks. That kind of music connects us through time & space.

That’s why I can see this small sepia toned project going on for a long time. At times I question if I’m pigeon-holing myself too much creatively by maintaining a specific style and not venturing too far outside of this technically safe box that I’ve made for myself. But this consistency affords me the opportunity to continually make art with interesting humans throughout all these travels & ups & downs. The raw nature of smallsongs removes so many of the complications that make it difficult to even try and create things.

I also watch my little audience grow & then shrink as I make & I share videos in different time zones with different kinds of musicians. I’m okay with that now because I’m finally aware of the artificial nature of digital/numerical comparisons. If I share a collaborative reel with a popular artist then the views & comments & likes will exponentially grow as if that gives the video or song more value. But then I’ll post the same exact clip on another platform where less people are paying attention or following along and the numbers don’t even compare. The algorithm is built to manipulate our minds into valuing things that aren’t actually important and to give false hopes to the majority of small creators. So I’m trying not to get sucked into that transparent mindset. Instead I’m just trying to do something that hopefully matters while recognizing the fleeting nature of time & art & humanity.

By being so specific about what a small song is I’m able to meet artists that I would’ve never otherwise met during precious & temporary moments in our lives. I’m trying to be present in that space because those moments will never happen again.

Find more about The Wildwoods here:

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