Beaver Nelson brings ‘Macro/Micro’ to The Village IdiotWritten by Mike Bauman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
With new artists and music emerging every day thanks to the digital age, Austin singer-songwriter Beaver Nelson wasn’t interested in comparisons or duplicating what had already been done before when it came time to put together his seventh album, “Macro/Micro.”
“In a day and age when anyone — literally anyone — can make a record, I just realized that if I made a record that anyone else could make, then they’ve already made it,” Nelson said.
“And so I just had to take everything that was unique about my perspective, or my playing or my cadence or the way I see the world. I needed to go as far in that direction as I could.”
And that’s just what Nelson did with “Macro/Micro,” which released June 19 — the CD portion, that is. Also accompanying the musical release of “Macro/Micro” is an album-length film directed by filmmaker Stephen Henderson, one that concertgoers get to witness live if they check out Nelson on tour this summer.
Armed with a screen, projector, a vocal effects-styled mic, a laptop and a couple of guitars, Nelson will perform in front of the screen as the “Macro/Micro” film plays when he stops at The Village Idiot for a free show Aug. 19.
“There’s three things going on,” Nelson said of the show. “You’re kind of listening to a record, you’re kind of seeing a film and you’re kind of seeing a live performance. My aim is to have people absorbing it as a whole [but] constantly having to choose or figure out, ‘What is this? What is this presentation?’
“It’s not really like something I’ve seen anybody do, and it’s a ton of fun.”
When “Macro/Micro” was remixed, the vocals were removed so that when Nelson performs the record live he can sing over the instrumental version of the album.
“What I’m doing is, I’m carrying a regular guitar tuned down a full step, and then I’m carrying a Nashville high-strung, which basically is just high-pitched strings on a 12-string guitar, but I’m only using six strings,” Nelson said. “So I’m able to drop in a bunch of atmospheric guitar that actually isn’t even on the record, but doesn’t collide with what’s going on on the record.”
The follow-up to 2007’s “Exciting Opportunity,” Nelson decided to begin writing most of “Macro/Micro” on piano instead of guitar, which is not his usual approach.
“I was writing stuff I couldn’t play, and I didn’t know how long the songs were,” Nelson said. “I was writing pieces. I went in and demoed songs up, and then from there I was able to actually kind of start forming what I had.”
With the help of Mary Podio and John Harvey (Top Hat Studio), as well as contributions from guitarist Scrappy Jud Newcomb, bassist Matt Eskey, keyboardist Nick Connolly and drummers/percussionists Mark Patterson and Stephen Belans, Nelson was able to put “Macro/Micro” together.
Not wanting to haul a piano across the country and knowing that he could only perform about half of “Macro/Micro” by himself live, Nelson racked his brain for how to pull off the songs on tour. Eventually, he decided that adding a visual element was the most interesting approach. After meeting Henderson during an artist retreat at Laity Lodge in Texas about a year and a half ago, Nelson knew he’d be great for the film.
“I’ve got some longtime fans or friends who have seen the movie and can’t imagine that that wasn’t the initial intent [for the live show], but it actually wasn’t,” Nelson said.
Those fans and friends are what made the project possible, too. Via Kickstarter — an online fundraising tool — Nelson was able to successfully raise $24,575 from 191 backers earlier this year to make “Macro/Micro” a reality, comfortably surpassing the project’s goal of $22,900.
“They want to help make a thing possible, and there’s no question in this case they made a thing possible,” Nelson said of the fan support. “So they have my undying gratitude for that.”
In a career that spans more than two decades, one that began as a teenager with high praise from Rolling Stone, Nelson said that, artistically, he’s never been happier about anything that he’s done than “Macro/Micro.”
“It hasn’t necessarily been everyone’s cup of tea,” Nelson said. “But I’m getting, like, night after night people saying, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this before; not one guy sitting there trying to pull this off.’”
On Aug. 19, Beaver Nelson will perform a free show at The Village Idiot, 309 Conant St. in Maumee. The show starts at 9 p.m. For more information, visit villageidiotmaumee.com.