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The last place that a person would think to find great folk music is in a Chinese food restaurant. At Genghis Cohen, guests receive a main course of music and literally a side dish of pork fried rice and lo-mein. There is a side room within a restaurant dedicated to musicians in the L.A area, one of those musicians being folk singer, John Craigie. He sang a variety of songs off his six existing albums this past Wednesday night.
Craigie’s musical style is witty, humorous and slightly satirical. He is the type of musician who would probably write a song about the irony of singing folk music at a Chinese food restaurant. He sang one of his most popular songs, “Chuck Norris’ Tears Cure Cancer,” in which he poked fun at the over-the top martial arts star and actor, Chuck Norris. The shocking lyrics made the audience laugh and sing along with the fun folk song. This song was a perfect blend of both conversation and music.
Craigie also played a few hits off his 2009 release, Montana Tale. One of those songs, “Mama Nashville,” was relatable to any musician trying to make it in the country music capital. It was a song that would have made Johnny Cash proud. Craigie gave words to that classic poster of Cash sticking up his middle finger to Nashville after realizing that he was not going to transform into their idea of a successful country singer. Cash didn’t budge and neither would Craigie.
A critical element in folk music is the way in which the artist tells a story through their songs. Craigie took the time to break in between songs to talk with the audience. The performance resembled a style similar to a natural conversation between friends. The conversation flowed between Craigie and the crowd and made them feel as though they knew each other all their lives. The show happened to fall on the same night of the musician’s birthday which brought a great energy to the already up-beat performance.
Craigie thanked the crowd for coming out to hear him play. He said that he heard a great saying from a friend and shared that line with the crowd. “A person is alive to the extent to which they are heard,” Craigie said. Musicians have the ability to write songs that reflect the thoughts of their listeners. Craigie’s music illustrated that theory this past Wednesday night and will continue to do so.