GOSHEN - What transforms good music into great music? Collaboration, in the view of Ignition Garage owner Steve Martin.
That spirit of coming together will be on display Saturday at Martin’s Goshen concert venue, Ignition Garage, 120 E. Washington St. Nashville-based artists Phil Madeira, Will Kimbrough and Brigitte DeMeyer will perform starting at 7:30 p.m. The second part of the show will also include songwriters Nate Butler of Goshen and Andrew Kreider and Zach Dubois of Elkhart. In the rhythm section Saturday will be local musicians Joel Jimenez (bass) and Jeff Sanders (drums).
The set list? A mystery at this point, and that’s by design. Prior to the concert, the local musicians will be fine-tuning original material with Kimbrough and DeMeyer in a sort of songwriters’ workshop.
Different artists will be working in tandem. And that’s where the musical magic happens, according to Martin. By way of example, he said the TV program “Nashville” portrays that type of collaborative creative process at work.
“The songs the characters are performing are coming out of the same creative process they’re dramatizing,” Martin said. He also traveled back further in musical history to make his point.
“That goes back to the beginning days of rock and roll, when in Sun Studios they put Jerry Lee Lewis’ rockabilly with the rhythm and blues that was being played on the Memphis black radio, or ‘race’ radio,” he said. The same held true for Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley.
“Could Elvis have invented rock and roll by himself? Not a chance in hell,” Martin said. “Neither could Johnny and neither could Jerry.”
Martin said he hatched the idea for this weekend’s musical experiment with Kimbrough back in January. Emmylou Harris was performing at Goshen College, backed by Kimbrough and fellow Nashville music veteran Madeira as part of her band The Red Dirt Boys. Kimbrough and Madeira visited Ignition while they were in town.
According to Martin, the “new” material worked on by the Nashville artists and the local musicians prior to Saturday’s show won’t be created from scratch.
“From knowing how great songs come together, it’s highly unlikely they’re going to start from a cold start and get a song in a couple of hours,” he said. “That’s not quite how it works. (The local musicians) are going to be bringing a demo or a rough draft of a song, or maybe a song there’s something wrong with.”
One of the songwriters featured this weekend will be Nate Butler. He fronts the ensemble Shiny Shiny Black, regularly performing with Anna Pasquarello and Bryan Chris. Butler’s looking forward to interacting with the Nashville contingent.
“I’m just really, really excited to have the chance to meet some of these folks and air out some of my ideas, and I guess rub shoulders and get influenced,” he said.
Butler also talked about this plan for the collaboration.
“I’m definitely going to bring one (song) that’s fairly finished in my mind to the table, and I think that will fit well in the scope of time we have together to kind of get a review and some thoughts or input on what could be better for the next song or songs,” he said. “From my perspective it seems wise to focus on one (song) and beat the living daylights out of it and see what we come up with.”
Butler said Madeira is kind of a hero of his from the Nashville scene, someone who’s played on many records he’s enjoyed.
“That’s kind of a little thrill to be able to at least be in the room on the same stage as that guy once,” he said. “It’s kind of cool.”
Martin, too, is enthused about the possibilities for the weekend.
“In many ways it is like working without a net,” he said. “I can’t tell people exactly what’s going to happen. I don’t believe it’s going to be a train wreck, because I’ve seen all these people perform. I believe it’s going to be a really exciting and tiring day because you essentially are putting a new band together on the spot. And the wonderful thing about it is it is a truly a once in a lifetime event because that show will never be played again anywhere...
“I’m just going to be fascinated to just kind of be a fly on the wall and see what happens,” Martin said.
Madeira’s Saturday gig will be his second time in the spotlight in Goshen this weekend. He’ll give a reading from his book “God on the Rocks: Distilling Religion, Savoring Faith” Friday at The Electric Brew next to Ignition along East Washington Street. Martin indicated Madeira will also perform songs he’s written around some of the themes of the book. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.
According to a blurb from Emmylou Harris, “’God on the Rocks’ is a lovely memoir, recounting with honesty and humor how Christianity and the blues impacted one man’s journey as a son, a brother, a husband and father, and companion to his fellow travelers. Taking a stand against those who would use religion to further a narrow and vindictive agenda, Phil celebrates God as a compassionate, living presence in his life, and so gives us a testament to the power of faith and family and in the end, of love.”
If you want to go
For ticket and other information about Saturday’s concert, visit the website www.ignitionmusic.net or call Ignition Music at 574-971-8282.
Saturday’s show at Ignition isn’t the only thing happening in downtown Goshen this weekend. Organizers at The Local along South Fifth Street will be hosting an artisans’ market and local musicians in the parking lot behind Ignition during the day Saturday.