An evening with … preserves live independent music one intimate show at a time

Behind the scenes of <a Ryan Andersen sets audio levels for jazz duo.">

Behind the scenes of Ryan Andersen sets audio levels for jazz duo.

Photo By laura birshan

Today’s efforts to consolidate communication, art and technology are too often misdirected. Emphasis is placed on creating the latest, best-selling, hyper-charged sensory assault rather than to preserve, enhance and share the human experience, which is presumably why we figured out how to do these things in the first place.

Ryan Andersen and his cohorts at One Night Music, a Web site dedicated to showcasing live performances, seem to understand this well. Each session presented on the site is filmed, recorded and displayed on the Web accompanied by still photos, illustrations and written commentary about the artist and performance. The effect is to place the viewer as close to being there as possible.

“We try to capture the intimacy and uniqueness of each performance,” Andersen says.

Though the site was started in San Francisco and is currently ostensibly based in the Bay Area, Andersen runs the site from Paradise, where he moved several months ago.

Watercolor Paintings are ready to perform.

Photo By laura birshan

The 23 sessions currently available at the site cover a broad range of styles and settings. The crew captured Treesus, a yurt-dwelling, farming folk-singer, beside a bonfire next to a barn in Placerville. Jazz duo Colter Frazier and Matt Crane (sax and drums, respectively) churn out a 17-plus-minute improv after hours in Andersen’s old Santa Barbara living room, and Phil Taylor plays his four-song frenetic acoustic set balanced atop a unicycle.

Andersen cites Sacramento-based Ellie Fortune as one of his favorite sessions: “We were recording him in a park in Isla Vista, which is the college town outside of Santa Barbara, during something called Floatopia, which is basically a huge party. As he’s playing this very mellow, somber acoustic music there’s hundreds of drunk college kids milling about all around us, and during the final song three really drunk girls start trying to get in on the show and hogging the camera while he keeps playing.

“It’s hilarious. We could have cut it out or filmed it again but we left it. It’s part of what really happened and it kind of shows the nature of recording in public places and how anything can happen.”

Elia Vargas films duo Betsy Wise and Mike Conway.

Photo By laura birshan

Since its inception, One Night Music has been a multimedia, collaborative effort. “I studied music production and sound engineering at UCSB. My brother [Ian] was building Web sites and our friend Elia [Vargas] was filming and editing, so it seemed like a great way for all of us to utilize our skills to build an online community to promote the music we love.”

There are now 17 contributors to the One Night site who help with booking, filming, design, writing, photography, illustration and various production tasks. One Night contributors and performers all volunteer their time.

“There’s never been a single penny paid to anyone; I don’t make any money off of it and don’t intend to,” Andersen says. “Ideal One Night Music artists are independent musicians trying to move forward in their career who may not have the money to help get them to the next level.

“We help by providing them with quality audio and video recordings and by helping to promote them through the Web site. We don’t necessarily want bigger acts that are established or have financial support.

“The focus is on the musicians, but it really benefits everyone involved,” he continues. “As the community grows, which it has been doing consistently, the contributors are also getting their work exposed to a larger audience.”

Betsy Wise and Mike Conway.

Photo By laura birshan

The crews are currently filming performances in San Francisco, Mountain View, Santa Cruz and most recently Chico, where One Night Music has partnered with local art space The Frame. Chico artists to be featured in upcoming sessions include MaMuse, Erin Lizardo and Scott Itamura of Dick and Jane. Some nonlocals appearing in the immediate future are Lucky Dragon—a noise band heavy on audience participation—The Finches and Kimya Dawson of Moldy Peaches/Juno-soundtrack fame.