Pure Joy: M. Ward at Fingerprints on April 21

This past Saturday April 21st, folk singer M. Ward played an intimate sold-out show to an enrapt audience at Long Beach’s Fingerprints Record Store during their Record Store Day celebration. Fingerprints, located at 420 East 4th Street in the Long Beach East Village Arts district, continually showcases awesome talent during their free in-store performances. The in-store performances I have attended over the years have all felt special, as the audience is getting the privilege of seeing a performer who is normally on large stages in an intimate and down-to-earth venue. I suspect that it is also the atmosphere of Fingerprints that brings out the best in performers as well. I cannot walk amongst the rows of CD, records, and posters of great musicians on the walls without remembering why I chose to become a musician as a kid, and I doubt anyone who is passionate about music can resist that inspiring nostalgic feeling as well. Fingerprints feels like a church to the god of music, and the audiences of the in-store performances always have felt reverent and honoring of the presence of the musicians on stage. M. Ward’s intimate show this past Saturday musically captured these feelings of nostalgia, reverence, and intimate vulnerability.

Despite a few PA issues, M. Ward’s band played a moving country-infused set of songs including “I Get Ideas,” “Me and My Shadow,” “Watch the Show,” and “Crawl After You” off of the new album A Wasteland Companion. Additionally, they performed a rousing cover of Daniel Johnston’s charming song “Sweetheart,” sans Zooey Deschanel’s vocals as it is on the album. One of my favorite moments was when the band played “Crawl After You” which included a sweet melodic violin line. Following the set with his full band, M. Ward performed a few songs alone including “There’s a Key” and “Pure Joy.” During these songs, you could truly hear a pin drop amongst the packed record store.

M. Ward finished his set with a vulnerable and intimate rendition of “Pure Joy.” He began this song with a comment about ending the show with a happy song, which made the audience laugh when he sang the song’s first line: “Thought I was falling into a deep depression…” This song is about finding joy in the little things in life- from the air in our lungs to a kiss on our lips.. or a song that everyone can relate to somehow. Standing amongst the deeply appreciative audience, I sensed that this moment- for both the audience and performer- was what the song described: “it’s joy- pure joy.”

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