Steve Gunn & William Tyler played Bell House, covered Velvet Underground (pics, video, review)
Steve Gunn and William Tyler kicked off their co-headlining solo tour on Thursday night (7/22) in Brooklyn at The Bell House. In similar fashion to their shows together at Union Pool last February, each guitarist played some solo works, joined at various points by different guests. They were also supposed to embark on a tour with harpist Mary Lattimore last year, but that didn't happen because of COVID.
For the The Bell House show, attendees were required to provide proof of being fully vaccinated, either by showing the Excelsior Pass, or their vaccination card. Once inside the venue, masks were not required and the floor was loosely packed.
William Tyler hit the stage first, playing a beautiful all-instrumental set, starting with “Kingdom of Jones” from his 2016 album, Modern Country. His set drew from works throughout his career, and on “Missionary Ridge,” he was joined by Brooklyn artist Laura Ortman on violin.
For the last two songs at the end of Tyler’s set, Steve Gunn joined him, adding his acoustic guitar. During this segment, they played “Tears and Saints” and “We Can’t Go Home Again,” both older tracks by Tyler. It was lovely hearing the two of them weave their notes together.
Then Gunn had the stage to himself briefly as he did a solo rendition of his 2013 song, “Water Wheel.” Afterwards, he introduced the next guest, an English folk singer he has admired and followed for a long time, Bridget St John. St John performed her classic 1969 song, "Ask Me No Questions," backed by Gunn on guitar. They then sang the track "Morning River" from Gunn’s upcoming album, Other You, with St. John providing backing vocals.
For the rest of his set, Gunn had a full band, with Ryan Sawyer on drums, and Mdou Moctar’s Mikey Coltun on bass. Tyler returned on electric guitar for two of the songs. They played three more tracks from the new album - “Other You,” “Fulton” and “On The Way.” And on the last song, Gunn ditched the acoustic guitar for an electric one and closed out the main set with the song “New Familiar” from his excellent 2019 LP, The Unseen In Between.
For the encore, the guys and Ortman came back onstage, along with guitarist Alan Licht, for a stirring rendition of the Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties.” Labelmates Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley of Yo La Tengo were spotted in the audience before the show, so some of us had hoped for a cameo by them as well, but perhaps another time.
Check out pictures and video from Thursday night's show below.
UPDATE: William Tyler cancelled a week of shows after testing positive for COVID the day after this show.
Steve Gunn’s new album, Other You, is due out on August 27th via Matador, and he’ll be back in NYC on December 18th for a show at Bowery Ballroom with Jeff Parker (tickets).
photos and review by Ellen Qbertplaya.