Stuart’s Opera House, 52 Public Square, Nelsonville, was filled with the sound of acoustic guitars Sunday night as Damien Jurado and best friend Josh Gordon hosted the first performance of the night.
Tim Peacock, the artistic director at Stuart’s Opera House, first took the stage to announce the first performer.
“We do ask if you must take photos to do so in the first song or two, and we ask you not to take video,” Peacock requested of the audience. “We promise you that it's so much better if you just watch it through your own eyes.”
He also enforced the idea of safety, saying it’s been difficult to have live music because of COVID-19. To maintain that safety, Stuart’s had a vaccination or proof of negative test requirement upon entering.
“Thank you all who are here for being cool with our COVID policies,” Peacock said. “All I can tell you is this is the only way we're going to keep having live music, at least for now ... so thank you all for respecting that and being here tonight.”
Jurado’s performance included playing songs such as “When You Were Few,” “A.M. AM,” “Johnny Caravella” and “The Last Great Washington State,” the last of which captivated audience member and Ohio University alumna Kim Eggerton.
“My favorite song was the very last song: it’s about staying on until the light peaks through the darkness,” Eggerton, who previously worked for The Post, said.
She was referring to the lyrics: “I'll let you talk into the sky / That he keeps turning off like a light.”
Jurado not only captivated the audience with his musical abilities but also his sharing of anecdotes about Gordon and himself.
“Originally, I moved to Southern California to get the hell out of Seattle, then I moved back to Washington,” Jurado said. “Now, I get to see Josh. We get breakfast burritos when we’re down there. Do you guys get burritos here?”
At that point, someone yelled out the famous “Burrito Buggy,” and Jurado threw back a retort.
“You think you do, and then you go to California,” Jurado said.
After Jurado’s performance, there was a brief intermission, as the crew prepared for a solo performance from Will Sheff of Okkervil River.
Varying from Jurado’s performance, Sheff performed alone without the usual bandmates of Okkervil River. He began his performance with “Maine Island Lovers,” a song off the 2003 album Down the River of Golden Dreams.
Scott Smoot, a resident of Canal Winchester and a member of the audience, initially became interested in Okkervil River 15 years ago after seeing the band perform in Columbus.
“I’ve just been a big fan of theirs ever since,” Smoot said. “I kept waiting for people to kick in, like the basic kick in or the drums or something, but I love acoustic and minimalist music, too. I'm so used to hearing him with his accompaniment, so it's different.”
Sheff performed some of Okkervil River’s other hits such as “Pink Slips,” “Family Song” and “For Real.” In multiple songs he performed, he stopped to talk to the audience about how lucky he felt.
“I'm one of the luckiest people on Earth,” Sheff said, “Which is very strange because it feels like I need to be 100% appreciative for every single waking moment, which is certainly possible, but I just feel immensely lucky.”
To close out the performance, Jurado and Gordon returned to the stage to cover “Wichita Lineman” by Glen Campbell.