Escaping Reality: Kingham and Philips


Jonathan Kingham, Boise, Idaho November 13, 2016

Jonathan Kingham, Boise, Idaho November 13, 2016

Glen Philips, Boise, Idaho, September 13, 2016

Glen Phillips, Boise, Idaho, September 13, 2016

Sometimes you just have to take a break from the political disasters falling around our ears. White supremacists in the White House; 25 years of progress undone in one election. It’s a little overwhelming.

So WC and Mrs. WC went to a concert instead. The headliner was Glen Phillips, former front man for Toad the Wet Sprocket and solo artist for the last 15 years. But we really went to see Jonathan Kingham, who opens for Philps and accompanies him during Philips’ show.

We first met Jonathan when he did a house concert for us in Fairbanks, back in 2001 or 2002. Our friend Bud Johnson, host of Acoustic Accents, arranged a house concert tour for Jonathan. We liked him so much we invited him back in 2007. The artists for our house concerts usually stayed at our house, and joined us for supper before the show and breakfast the next morning. It was great fun, and Jonathan was especially fun.

So we jumped at the chance to see Jonathan at The Sapphire Room, and he did not disappoint. Not just his too-brief opening set, but his work for Philips was excellent. Jonathan has developed what WC can only call folk-rap, improvisational free verse built around something at the show. In the 2007 house concert, it was the owls out on the mew on the deck, visible to Jonathan through the window. Sunday night at The Sapphire Room it was Boise and a nice lady named Kelli in the audience. In the break in Bobby Brown’s “Every Little Step,” he delighted the audience with a blend of stand-up comedy and free verse, never missing a beat.

Glen Phillips was fun, too. The audience gave the loudest applause for his old Toad the Wet Sprocket hits, which has to be annoying to a guy who has been recording excellent solo work since 1998. The thing about Glen Phillips, though, is that for all his musical talent, and it is very impressive, he performs mostly depressing songs. Not a  cheerful one in the bunch. The one song he did that was written by someone else was Bruce Springsteen’s “One Step Up,” from Tunnel of Love. Arguably the most depressing song in Springsteen’s work. A brilliant artist but a bummer song set.

We had a chance to spend some time with Jonathan afterwards. It’s good to see a guy who is completely realistic about earning a living as a musician, grounded in family and friends and comfortable in his own skin. If you have a chance to see Jonathan live, WC urges you to see him. He’s a gifted, award-winning songwriter, a talented multi-instrumentalist and has a terrific, warm baritone singing voice. And his shows are a lot of fun.

Plus, for entire hours at a time, neither WC not Mrs. WC paid any attention to politics. An added plus.

In fact, it was so successful that we headed to another concert, Post Modern Jukebox, even though we saw them less than a year ago. You should try a live show as a balm to these troubled times. WC recommends it.