Last Night: Valerie June At Leon's Lounge
Photos by Alexa Crenshaw
Valerie June Leon's Lounge March 20, 2012
"Tell your tale and listen too, as others tell their tale to you," stated Valerie June around the start of her set Tuesday, framing the tone for the rest of the night. "Find a point at which you meet, and form a bond that's strong and sweet. But if your life's a tale of woe, be slow to let bad feelings show."
June provided Houston with two sets of simple, honest, bittersweet blues, or what she calls "moonshine roots music." She had her audience captured, having many toe-tapping during her faster tunes and leading most to stare in silence during her slower pieces.
A Tennessee native, June worked for many years as a musician before landing the opportunity to work with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys on her newest album. Having traveled for her tour via Greyhound bus, as she shared with the audience, June's big break seems to be just around the corner, where she won't quite have that adventurous touring option.
Leon's Lounge was crowded with fans last night. I have a hunch that this was one of the last times Houston will be able to see June in such an intimate setting.
And between her two sets June was greeted by a long line of fans, all wanting to purchase her albums.
June played songs from all of her recordings, peppering her sets with personal tidbits of her life and bits of poetry. She played both songs she wrote, and covers of songs by the likes of Memphis Minnie, Bessie Smith, and Robert Johnson.
She also previewed some of her new album. Her album in the works has several famous collaborations, including a song with Booker T & the MGs, which she wonderfully performed solo.
I can see what Dan Auerbach must have seen in June. There are many solo acoustic acts with honest lyrics and a style that has clear folk roots, and June plays just that kind of music.
What's actually refreshing about her is how traditional her music sounds, while not sounding outdated. She contains a true blues soul, sort of in a way like Auerbach.
Her songs are ageless. She sings the blues, but doesn't complain or preach. She just says it like it is, in true old-fashioned form.
Basically, for those who love Southern roots music, June could be enthralling. Fans walked up to her after the show to tell her how her music touched their souls.
And June seemed genuinely thankful for her fans. She warmly greeted everybody who walked up to meet her, treating her fans as friends, spending her time conversing with fans instead of immediately packing up her instruments.
Personal Bias: I... am kind of in love with Dan Auerbach and The Black Keys, to say the least, so I was pretty interested to see what he has been working with.
The Crowd: Late twentysomethings and older
Overheard In the Crowd: One man shook June's hand after the show and told her, "this is the most true and truly Southern music I have heard in years, miss."
Random Notebook Dump: "This song makes me want to take a road trip through the South." I said that about a few songs.
Valerie June's setlist remains a surprise for each of her performances.