Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Swell Season & presenting the portraits to Glen and Mar

Teagan and I attended the Swell Season concert last night at the landmark Chicago Theater. If you don't know, that's the touring version of music from the Indie movie "Once". I blogged a few posts back about the charcoal drawings I made as a gift to Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, lead actors in the film. Glen is also the front man for the Dublin based band The Frames.

The concert was blow-the-top-of-your-head-off good. Most of the Frames members are touring this trip along with Glen and Mar - and there was a good mix of tunes from the movie soundtrack and Frames standards. Glen's vocal range is stunning, from rumbling lows to incredible high notes without falsetto, back to the crescendo of his signature passionate leather lunged wailing. Amazing! Colm Mac Con Iomaire, the violin player is absolutely astounding! His sound is so full and rich you'd think there were several violins playing at once. And Marketa's piano and gentle singing style add an almost hypnotic quality to the mix. It was without doubt the best show I've ever seen.

My friend, Chicago photographer Zoran Orlic is friends with the band, and he offered to do all he could to be sure I could present the drawings to Glen and Mar in person after the concert. There was a scary moment for me when security wouldn't allow me to bring the drawings into the hall. I had Zoran's cell and he soon met me at the coat check and claimed the framed drawings to bring backstage. He then arranged for Teagan and me to attend the backstage party after the show, so we went down to the hall with probably about 40 or 50 others who had passes. There were drinks on the house, and we got to chat with Zoran, his wife and friends, and my friend Mary Beth and her son and friends.

We met all the Frames members and some of their spouses, but were told Marketa would not be down. Glen came down later and visited for some time, and then he was gone before I met him! Even some of the band members didn't know where he'd gone. The manager of the band was really concerned that Glen should see my drawings, and everyone who knew about the gift was so kind!

The crew phoned around and located Glen, outside at the back of the theater, saying goodbye to some friends and getting ready to board the bus back to the hotel. So they grabbed Teagan and me with the drawings and hauled us out to where they were. I walked out the door and came face to face with Marketa. I spoke with her a few moments and showed her the drawings, and she smiled and thanked me.

The manager brought me over to where Glen was chatting with friends, and in a few minutes he was craning his neck to look at the drawings with wide eyes, so Zoran introduced him to Teagan and me. Glen seemed to be moved by the art - and I think he must be still bemused by the sudden fame and attention after all of the years of struggling. Glen picked up each of the works in turn and just poured over them, he said he loved them and as I looked at him looking at the portrait of himself, I could see I'd nailed his profile perfectly - he even has the same beard and hairstyle just now. :) He liked Steve's frames too, "The Frames are great!" he said, then joked about that. He thanked me sincerely and profusely, and I thanked him for the tunes. I was greatly impressed with this guy with an enormous talent and now success, and yet so humble, grateful and gracious in a quintessentially Irish manner. Wow!

Teagan loved the show too, and even put up with waiting around chatting with the adults for a chance to meet Glen. She's such a fine, mature young lady now, I was very happy she was with me so I could brag on my talented and beautiful daughter.

Mary Beth had stayed on just to take pictures of me with Glen and Mar, so thanks for that Mary Beth! Otherwise I wouldn't have a record of it.

I don't make much of a "fan" and didn't talk very long with Glen and Mar, I hope the art speaks for itself.

Thanks for the tunes and inspiration Swell Season! I love it!