Backstage at Dana Falconberry’s Stunning, Theatrical Album Release Show

Dana_Falconberry_and_Medicine_Bow_040216-24If you attended Dana Falconberry’s release show for her new album, From the Forest Came the Fire, at the Stateside Theater last Saturday, you experienced an incredible display of artistry, in terms of both phenomenal songwriting and a breathtaking stage setting. Falconberry and her band, Medicine Bow, unfurled beautifully crafted songs while surrounded by ghostly shapes of fabric suggesting a mountainous terrain. Behind the band, strings of small golden mirrors streamed down as a backdrop. An array of colored stage lighting illuminated the white fabric and glinted off the mirrors, creating an effect that resembled shooting stars above a twilight landscape. The set worked in tandem with the music to underscore the sensation Falconberry’s songs elicit–the awe-inspired rush that comes with the spiritually profound experience of feeling joined to nature.

Dana_Falconberry_and_Medicine_Bow_040216-6It was difficult for us enrapt audience members to break the waking dream created onstage and consider just how much goes into such a stunning visual display. Even though Dana Falconberry and Medicine Bow have received national acclaim for both past albums and their new one, the band isn’t thriving on an enormous budget with which they can hire an expansive production crew. Instead, the group made the setting possible with ingenuity and imagination, along with a little help from friend Abi Robins and the in-house staff at the Stateside Theatre. The fabric mountains and mirrors were conceived and installed by band members Karla Manzur and Gina Dvorak. Friend of the band Abi Robins, who has toured with the group before, met with the Dana and other band members before the show to work out a hundred or more cues for pre-programmed lighting arrangements, which were relayed via headset in real time to the Stateside Theatre’s lighting technician.

Adam_Torres_040216-7This willingness to assume all things are possible and to work together to accomplish something impressive permeates the warm, familial camaraderie shared among the members of Dana Falconberry and Medicine Bow. Backstage, their excitement and intimacy dominated the mood as they joked, talked, and eventually found themselves all huddled sidestage behind a curtain to watch opener Adam Torres, whose sublime set kept the audience transfixed. Adam’s songs are timeless and gorgeous, and we have it on good faith there will be news soon regarding the up and coming songwriter. As Torres closed with “I Came to Sing the Song,” everyone held their breath in awe. You’ll want to keep your ear out for more from him.

Dana_Falconberry_and_Medicine_Bow_Backstage_040216-13After Torres’ set, the six members of Dana Falconberry and Medicine Bow, plus Abi Robins and band manager Jack Tuggle, congregated in the Stateside’s dressing room for a champagne toast. Gina Dvorak poured a taste for everyone into small, yellow plastic cups, a fitting metaphor the band’s ability to achieve refinement, even on a budget. As Dana raised a glass to the past three years of writing and recording the songs for From the Forest Came the Fire, her love and admiration for her friends and fellow musicians was readily apparent.

Dana_Falconberry_and_Medicine_Bow_Backstage_040216-17After the toast, each member donned their matching, custom jean jacket with imagery hand-stitched by Dana so I could snap a photo. Then, the band took the stage and delivered a spellbinding performance, each player making impeccable contributions to songs that left the theater breathless and on their feet in applause. Although the group felt unified all night, the audience got a glimpse of the true strength of their bond during the encore, when the band returned to the stage to perform “Possum Song.” With just Falconberry playing guitar, the other five members lined up across the front of the stage to provide background vocals and harmonies. As drummer Matthew Shepherd delivered an unbelievable whistling solo before the song’s second verse, the rest of the band beamed and laughed. The band finished with a haunting rendition of “Alamogordo” before taking center stage and bowing as the audience granted a sustained, enthusiastic standing ovation.

Dana_Falconberry_and_Medicine_Bow_040216-11As I exited the theater, I saw a line longer than any in recent memory had already formed to purchase copies of the band’s new album. As I passed, I heard someone working merch inform Dana that they’d just sold out of the last copy of Falconberry’s previous record, Leelanau, a fitting marker for a new era for this songwriter. If you’re as wise as those in attendance on Saturday, you’ll pick up your own copy the new LP from rising Austin imprint Modern Outsider right here. To set the scene for your first listen, I’d recommend a quiet spot in a natural environment. If you’re at home, I recommend creating your own contoured landscape of blanket mountains. Maybe stick some glow-in-the-dark stars to the ceiling like you’re in middle school in the early 90s. It won’t be quite as magical as the scene Dana Falconberry and Medicine Bow created last Saturday, but a record this special deserves some kind of special setting.

About author
Bryan Parker is a writer and photographer living and working in Austin, TX. He is the founder of blog Pop Press International and print journal True Sincerity and recently released his first book, a volume on Beat Happening in the 33 1/3 series.

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