Austin Songwriter recently witnessed John Fullbright in an intimate solo performance on a cold night in the mountains of New Mexico during the Red River Songwriters’ Festival. A special opportunity in a glorious setting, and the man did not disappoint.
Fullbright took the stage with his acoustic guitar and harmonica holder, and proceeded to stir the listeners with the spellbinding “Gawd Above”. His voice growled through the incendiary lyrics, banging the wood and strings, then let loose on the harp with a soaring plea to the heavens like a preacher on a fine Sunday morning. He followed with a series of love songs and barnburners that suggest another Fullbright album in the works.
Gasps and whoops and hollers rose as the crowd began to understand the special moment they were sharing. John seemed to understand the effect he was having on this select and appreciative group, and began to smile as widely as the folks staring up at the stage.
After a while he pulled off the guitar and sat down at the piano behind him, harmonica still around his neck. He closed his eyes and rested his hands into a few minor chords, then took us on an improvised musical journey that started with his trademark red dirt and ascended into jazz riffs and classical moments, even a climax of intertwined harp and piano that summoned the angels themselves.
The evening ended with the sense that we had all stumbled onto something extraordinary, that we might all be telling the story, for years to come, of the night we saw John Fullbright in a little bar in the mountains. Before he became the next big thing.