Marfa has been on my list of places to visit for a good long time now. It just seems so absolutely bizarre and magical—this tiny Texas town, seemingly isolated in the desert, yet capable of attracting all sorts of artists, poets and musicians and Prada. (Let's not forget that the Italian brand has a display case out in the middle of nowhere there.) Plus, there's the whole mystery lights phenomena. Simply put, Marfa just seemed cool, so when the opportunity arose to travel there with Nick Jaina and his accompanying players this past Sunday at the close of SXSW, I jumped at the chance and scrambled into the van. It also helped that I couldn't get a flight out of Austin and road-tripping along would deliver me to another locale with a less-packed airport.
Run On Sentence began its set just as the sun started to settle down at the El Cosmico, a hotel composed of trailers, yurts and teepees. In the main room of the lodge, frontman Dustin Hamman took to the mic flanked by horn-player John Whaley (most recently of Laura Gibson's touring band), Nick Jaina on bass and drummer Dan Galucki filling out percussion duties.
Next up was Nick Jaina, in the position of headliner, though the setting was so casual that it barely seemed as such. Guests staying at the hotel (and a large coterie of their accompanying dogs) drifted in an out, stopping to spy glimpses and either took seats on the couches around the room or went to sit just outside where a large hub of people were enjoying conversation. Mid-way through the set the applause grew louder and Jaina remarked that it only took nine songs for the audience to come alive. That comment made way for an entertaining exchange of banter between Jaina and an Austin transplant seated to his right that continued for the rest fo the set. Between jokes made about Twitter trends and #swag (many made with the inflection of British accents), the trio of Jaina, Whaley and drummer Max Barcelow carried on playing a full set of songs, mostly from his latest album The Beanstalks That Have Brought Us Here Are Gone. Setlist highlights included live renditions of "Awake When I'm Sleeping," "I Forget My Name" off A Narrow Way and a horn-assisted version of my request of "Another Kay Song."