“Beyond all ideas of right and wrong there is a field. I will meet you there.” Before his set, Michah P. Hinson wrote these words onto a piece of paper and taped them underneath the strings of his guitar. The literary pickup seemed to epitomise this thoughtful and enchanting evening.
Side note: His guitar also had stickers saying “This is a Machine Against Fascists” and “Fuck you, I’m Batman”.
Preparing our journey to that place, supporting artist L.A. Salami executed evocative musings via song, guitar and harmonica. Drawing us in with quasar lyrics and free-spirited folk, he encouraged contemplation of space and time and life. Part of the Londoner’s charm was that he played as if he were demoing to close friends, creating a mutually dedicated and patient atmosphere. He could take his time, tune and retune with precision, reaping brightly affecting music. It carried through the intimate Portland, effecting even L. A. himself who spent solos in his element, rolling his eyes into harmonies like entering a hot bath. It was delightful to discover his talent (but he did lose points for not bringing merch!)
Micah P. Hinson showcased his beautiful double gatefold, gold flecked new album ‘The Holy Strangers’ which tells the tear-shedding story of a woman and man’s journey through love and war. He beguilingly recited it, reading from a music stand into an old style microphone with charisma and sincerity.
He played it through solo, with only a guitar and a few pedals, omitting instrumentals to lyrically fit selections from his back catalogue. The words, although not the exclusive component, were highly significant and he engaged with them completely. He even put down the guitar for “Micah Book One” as he wove into the bible to tell the part where the husband fills his mind with “wrath and disdain”. Hinson wielded rhythm expertly with well-timed inflections of voice and pace. When accompanied by instruments on the record, it’s just extra embellishment for pure poetry.
“The Temptation” was among the instrumentals he did play. A captivating desert soundscape with a slow, pretty melody, which I’d compare to ‘Country of Illusion’ era William Tyler or other similar modern guitar-soloists. He played it bent over chairtop of pedals, filling all the room’s recesses with the rattling paper of his philosophies.
Checking in every now and then with counts of 1, 2… 1, 2, 3, 4, it felt like a recorded live session by a world-ruffled veteran, as if he were Harry Dean Stanton speaking graciously on the radio in between playing real and raw music. Hinson told fictional, operatic stories alongside true episodes of life with such clarity and familiarity that they became the same. It was insightful and a beautiful dichotomy of real and ethereal.
Micah P. Hinson exudes originality and deep meaning with traditional and talented craftsmanship, escaping a world where music can be cheated. With L.A. Salami assisting to help us muse our moment in time, Micah P. Hinson really did take us away to that field where life is harmony and Batman kills fascists with guitars.
Words from Ellie Clarke