Before he was racking up kudos from Lykke Li, Lily Allen, and every music critic’s year-end list, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon was a member of Eau Claire Memorial High School’s jazz band. Last night the folk singer returned to his alma mater to lead present day students in new arrangements of his songs as well as standards like “Since I Fell For You” and “The Lady Is A Tramp.” The local paper reports that it’s the first Ensemble 1 performance to sell out. (LOL.) And the kids are gonna use last night’s proceeds to attend a music competition in NYC. When my high school’s most famous alumnus (Michael Crichton) returned for a visit (with Good Morning America!) it was a big deal for everyone. This looks a lot cooler.
Not that Justin’s been a stranger. In an early 2008 Stereogum interview about hunting deer, he described life in his hometown, where he had just bought a house and was constructing a recording studio.
“I just bought a house, here, in Eau Claire. But, this is not a city. It is a really large town. I walk to coffee, I walk to the Y to play hoops, I walk to the bar. I eventually will own a house and some land out there in the country, but I couldn’t afford it right now. And, this makes sense right now. But, here in north-western Wisconsin, the country is five minutes by car. I’m only 55 minutes from the hunting cabin.”
According to the Ledger-Telegram, last night’s event was a lovefest, with Justin showering praise upon appreciative students who weren’t starstruck because the indie rocker is so humble. Said Junior Leo Strei, a trumpeter:
“It’s just been awesome to have him with us. To have someone of international fame like this with us is fantastic. What is really cool is how straightforward he is with us. He talked to us as musicians and never talked down to us; it was just like we had been friends with him for a long time.”
This is getting so cute I’m gonna throw up. Let’s go to the videotape.
“Since I Fell For You”
“A Satisfied Mind” (solo encore, audio only)
Your homework is to find me a bootleg of the whole show.
[Thanks Jonk Music for the article link, and Andy Immerman for the photos.]