Tuesday Tunes: The Western Den with Goodnight Blue Moon

Deni Hlavinka of The Western Den
Deni Hlavinka of The Western Den

There was a moment when I looked around Stage One, noticed that I was in Fairfield to see a band from my hometown (New Haven) for the third time in six months, and realized that I probably now qualify as a fan of Goodnight Blue Moon, the big-band folk experience.

As such, I took video of a song other than “Dust” and “Undertow.” This is a new one, on its second live outing, called “Howling.” Listen to the gentle, eerie harmonies and that uneasy deliberate instrumental discord that ripples to the surface.

If I’m a fan, I get to have a favorite song (“Sunset Over State,” because in capturing the mood, it uses a ton of New Haven details). Choosing a favorite right now is difficult because I’m crazy about the energy and depth of Goodnight Blue Moon’s style — plus I’m frankly enjoying counting how many different stringed instruments they can use in the same song. I also came home with a T-shirt. (Well, two T-shirts. Keep reading for the explanation of the second one.)

Good Night Blue Moon tee
Good Night Blue Moon tee
The Western Den tee
The Western Den tee








Fairfield Theatre Company feels a lot closer to home, now that I’ve discovered it’s $5.50 each way to take the train, and the 10:28 p.m. train gets me back to New Haven to meet the very last bus going to my neighborhood. This makes it a realistic trip on a Tuesday night–and you’ll note this post has a new tag, Tuesday Tunes, as I think more people should turn out on Tuesday nights.

Headliner The Western Den was on the 26th stop of their release tour for A Light Left On (SpotifyiTunesGoogle Play – Amazon) Frontwoman Deni Hlavinka confessed to having achieved that mystical state of tour-hypnosis where the cities get blurry and the show is the only solid reality. The show is real, the show is love, the show is going to happen again tomorrow or the next day, in some place that has buildings and also pizza.

This is “I Still Remain,” the second song in the set. “That’s gonna be the vibe: it’s sad, with a lot going on,” explained  Hlavinka.

The Western Den fields only five people on stage, but one plays trumpet, and you can see the violin-electric guitar combo in the video, so they squeak in their qualification for big-band folk. The sound sometimes glides in the direction of ambient pop, particularly on “Spark, Set Fire,” a song about dating that captures the treadmill of doubt, hope, and futility that takes place at ten thousand tables for two in a thousand coffeehouses in college towns on the outskirts of Boston.

The big surprise came at the end, with a cover of Bessie Smith’s “Devil Gonna Get You,” which Hlavinka introduced as “the darkest song I know.” In this version, it’s now the darkest song I know, too.

The Western Den is at the end of its current tour (Friday, Feb 22, in Philly and Saturday, Feb 23 in D.C. are the last two shows). Goodnight Blue Moon will be at Café Nine on May 11 (and there are hints of an East Rock show before then), at Riverfest on May 18, and at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3 in NYC on June 21.

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