Record Store Day special: Ethan Johns @ Raves from Grave



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Yesterday, everybody, it was my first Record Store Day. It was also Saturday, day in which you would never expect to see from your living room window a bunch of people queueing in front of a tiny Record shop in Widcombe parade, Bath.

One hour and a couple of empty coffee cups later, the Records Store Day officially kicks in Raves from the Grave. The schedule expects BB6 coming over, producer Chris Hughes coming in store as well, Sam Gotley of Carousels and Limousines live at lunchtime and eventually producer Ethan Johns playing instore at 5pm.

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Ethan Johns is an English record producer, engineer, mixer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, nominated best producer in 2012 at the Brit Awards. Among the artists under his wings, there are Laura Marling, Ryan Adams and the Vaccines. With such a premise, you’d never imagine to face such a down-to-earth artist: he stands with his guitar, talking about Georgina, his daughter, who earlier that morning told him that it “wasn’t going to be her day”, and so he dedicated his first track “Hello Sunshine” to her. The track, included in his debut album “If not Now Then When”, truly represented Ethan Johns – introducing the songwriter as genuine, minimalist and slightly old-fashioned with his holed denim jacket, talking to his audience as you do with an old friend in front of a pint.

His style swings between finger picking acoustic Mark Knopfler-esque folk, bluegrass and some Bad Seeds-like punchy blues in the highly addictive “Morning Blues”. No wonder he produces Laura Marling, who he described as both “a sweetie pie” and a really inspiring artist. Both Marling and Adams can be heard in his gutsy and dusty yet emotional approach (reaching the climax “with Whip Poor Will”). Just like during a bonfire night, we improvised a Q&A in which he remarked his true admiration for Marling, defining her as one of the most talented songwriters of the last decade. On a less serious note, we are introduced to Pete, number one fan of Ethan – you can see him standing in the back of the cover of the album with Hobo the dog (probably number two fan). Pete, who is in the audience, reminds him of the first time he got back to song writing and performing, after almost 20 years spent producing other artists, still having goose bumps.

Going back and forth from a folk-y Dylan and a gloomy Nick Cave, Ethan masterfully showed both the British and American heritage of the genre, keeping the atmosphere friendly and cozy, exactly like a Saturday afternoon should be, especially with the sun shining outside.

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After the gig, I decided to make the most of the day (kind of ignoring the other quid spent earlier in the morning) and I get the album, whilst having a chat with Ethan, who is exactly how you’d expect from what you’ve experienced on the tiny stage. When I mention Laura Marling, and how I managed to dance to her new single “Master Hunter”, his eyes sparkle from excitement about the album, in his opinion the best of Laura yet.

The way to end a great day: as my first Record Store Day, I must admit I am not disappointed at all.

 

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