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Balmorhea w/ Jess Williamson & Taraz Nosrat

September 4, 2014 @ 9:00 pm - 11:55 pm


Balmorhea (pronounced Bal-more-ray) is a six-piece instrumental group from Austin, TX. Founded by Rob Lowe and Michael Muller in 2006, the band has produced five full-length albums, including Stranger, which was released late October 2012.

Inceptually influenced by the band’s namesake, a tiny West Texas town of 500 people, Balmorhea’s early work reflected motifs of the American Southwest: the folklore of Texas settlers, the emotive proclamations of the mountainous setting, and intimate studies on solitude, nature, and night. Slowly adding more members to the band over the years, including a string section and full percussion, Balmorhea’s rich and layered music continues to be simultaneously concise and complex, uniting a collection of ideas, textures, and sounds into one genre-defying landscape.

Balmorhea, called “an exemplary experiment in restraint” by The New Yorker, has toured the US and Europe eight times each, including shows with Tortoise, Fleet Foxes, Mono, Bear in Heaven, Sharon Van Etten, Damien Jurado, Efterklang, and others. Additionally the band has performed at Austin City Limits Music Festival, SXSW, Fun Fun Fun Fest, and the Hopscotch Festival among others. Their music has been featured and reviewed by Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, NME, The Wall Street Journal, Mojo, NPR, among others. Balmorhea’s music has been heard in feature films, documentaries, TV shows and international advertisements for brands including Toyota, Volvo, IBM, and many more.

The band will release their self-titled album and a 7″ vinyl with new songs this October and their first Texas tour dates in over a year will kick off in September.

Balmorhea on Facebook | Balmorhea on Twitter | Official Website


For a record that runs just under a half-hour, there’s an unhurried quality to Jess Williamson’s Native State. The seven songs on her latest release unfurl at a humble pace, emphasizing spare instrumentation – a simple banjo line underpinned with a groaning cello; a bass run snaking around a dobro slide – and her emotive singing.

That quiet pull reflects the state of mind Williamson was in when she created them. She had just moved back to her hometown of Austin, Texas, after spending a stretch studying photography in New York City. Her return, she says, “marked a long period of turning inward and spending a good deal of time alone, doing self work and shifting my priorities a bit.”

Instead of immediately throwing herself in the bustle of Austin’s music scene, she slowed down her daily life and daily routine, reconnected with the deep, natural beauty of Texas, and found the still and quiet of her world allowed her to better hear her own musical voice. Or as she puts it, “Native State is your native state of being; who you are at your core.”

In that sense, Native State is also a record about healing, of acknowledging the wounds (both self-inflicted and otherwise) of your past and moving beyond them, and of recognizing, as Williamson sings on “Seventh Song,” “how holy it is just to quietly sit with someone?”

As personal as the album is to Williamson and her world, there’s a universality to it as well. It manages the rare feat of feeling introspective while speaking directly to you. Who among us wouldn’t find something to relate to in her poignant ode to a relationship’s end (the moving title track), or her evocation of the chest-aching beauty of the natural world (“You Can Have Heaven on Earth”), or her remembrance of edging closer to adulthood (“Seventh Song”). The songs may be inspired by her life and the lives of those close to her, but they are for us all.

Native State simply doesn’t feel like your typical folk and country-inspired music from the South. Williamson’s approach is far too unique and haunting, too poetic and pointed to be lumped in with the rest of the twangy rabble. It is connected in sound and spirit to the deep heart of Texas but has the ability to transport us all to our own place of comfort, calm, and contentment.

Jess Williamson on Facebook | Jess Williamson on Twitter | Official Website


The Divine Spark, 3 years in the making & featuring diverse instrumentation from classical guitar to ocarina and viola, is an original, Baha’i-inspired, world album, crafted to take you on a musical journey.

This 10-song album begins with Rise and Shine, an instrumental piece that uses music to convey the feeling of an unfolding of the day. But you must listen to it to fully feel what I mean. I even recorded the sounds of birds outside my apartment in the morning as ambient intro sounds of the song. From there, the album develops in a very specific and particular way, and I planned the arrangement and flow of the entire album purposefully.

Next, I utilize quotations and prayers from the Baha’i Writing that are meant to uplift and inspire, and explore music that fits within the context of each writing. I carefully chose writings that are particularly meaningful to me, exploring concepts such as unity, detachment, and humility.

Intertwined throughout the lyrics are original instrumental compositions. Diving through my musical background, there are lushly orchestrated, Persian-influenced folk songs… upbeat, happy ukulele songs… and other tracks that utilize the many instruments I play (classical guitar, ukulele, viola, melodica, bamboo ocarina). I am also very fortunate to collaborate with some friends who are lending their vocals for this album.

The Divine Spark on Facebook | Official Website


September 4, 2014
9:00 pm - 11:55 pm