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Sharon Van Etten Curates a Night at Cameo Gallery

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Something special happens when a phenomenal musician like Sharon Van Etten curates a show for an intimate space like Williamsburg’s Cameo Gallery, described by Sharon as “small and unassuming.”

Featuring Washington D.C.’s She Keeps Bees and Chicago’s Speck Mountain, this is truly a celebration of musical friends. The Rumpus recently spoke with both bands to find out the details of how paths merged and more on the magic of friendship and music. New York City will have a chance to experience this intimacy tomorrow night, Dec. 15, at 8 p.m. If the announced killer line-up isn’t enticing enough, there’s also a “very special guest” on the bill.

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The Rumpus: How did you meet Sharon Van Etten? Each other?

Speck Mountain: In the summer of 2009 we played Monkey Town and opened up for Sharon. We had never heard her stuff, but her set really blew us away. Her vulnerability was disarming. When the lights went down and her haunting voice filled the room, we were mesmerized. It was one of those “Holy shit…” moments.  It turned out that she really liked a song we did called “Hey Moon” that was on a compilation called Bearded Ladies. We got to hang out throughout the night, and it turns out she’s as awesome a human being as she is a musician. She’s just the sweetest and warmest lady. We couldn’t stop listening to Because I Was In Love in the car for the rest of the tour. We kept in touch, and unknowingly, we were booked for the same show at the University of Illinois, Champaign. She stayed with us in Chicago during that time, and we became fast friends.

She Keeps Bees: We all met through Sharon.  A couple years ago when Marie-Claire was visiting Brooklyn all three of us played and worked on each others songs and drank and it was ridiculously fun!  So happy we get to be together again.  Andy and I met Sharon through mutual friends in the music community, soon after we realized we were neighbors.  When I heard Sharon’s music for the first time I cried.  She releases poison and is a natural healer – been in love ever since.

Rumpus: This is going to be a special show. Tell us why.

Speck Mountain: There’s going to be a lot of love in the room! It’ll be good vibes all around. We live in different cities, so it’s kind of like a reunion of friends, who happen to love one another’s music.

She Keeps Bees: We are really proud to be playing with such incredibly talented musicians.  Speck Mountain is magic.  Truly thoughtful and meditative, beautifully melodic and badass.

Rumpus: Let’s talk friendship and music. There’s a special connection that happens there. Thoughts?

She Keeps Bees: When someone has gifts like Sharon, her compliments reach further into your being.  I remember thinking to myself  ”I can’t be a piece dog shit if this person wants to hang out with me and likes my music…”  It gives you confidence.  She is a very kind and supportive friend.  The love she sends out comes back tenfold — you can see it when people watch her sing. It’s powerful.


Katy Henriksen is the music editor for The Rumpus and a classical music and arts producer at KUAF 91.3FM Public Radio. She's written about arts and culture for the Brooklyn Rail, New Pages, Oxford American, Paste, the Poetry Project Newsletter,Publishers Weekly, Venus Zine and others. She also designs book jackets and makes pies. You may keep up with her at Twitter (@helloloretta) or through helloloretta.tumblr.com. More from this author →