Music Preview: ”Tis the Season

May 6, 2008 at 6:21 pm

Delayed reactions have an upside: There’s still a reaction.

Hansard and Irglova.
Hansard and Irglova.
Nearly two years after the release of their first record, The Swell Season — a fortuitous collaboration between The Frames’ Glen Hansard and Czech phenom Marketa Irglova — are swimming in praise for their starring roles in “Once.”

The film, which follows two soulmates who discover each other through music, drew considerable buzz on the arthouse circuit before winning the World Cinema Audience Award at Sundance. Fox Searchlight picked up the film for distribution, and this past winter, the two earned an Oscar for best song in a feature film, the angelic ballad “Falling Slowly.”

Months later, in the middle of U.S. tour that’s sold out at least 13 venues, Hansard still sounds dumbfounded by the attention, mainly because he thought “Once” would never be seen.

“To be honest — I don’t wanna sound cute — we were astounded by the success of the film,” he says.

“When the film got accepted into Sundance, and when we won the Sundance award, it certainly put the whole thing in a different place.”

Like Australia, where The Swell Season opened for one of their heroes, Bob Dylan. “Someone like him … getting to spend any time with him at all is an amazing thing,” Hansard says. “There’s very little I can say. He is the master. To be around a master, just to even watch him come and go and watch him soundcheck … that’s how I feel about him.”

Rachel Grimes
Rachel Grimes
Monday night’s concert is a reunion of Hansard and opener Rachel Grimes. Grimes, known for her work in the chamber music ensemble Rachel’s, now plays and sings in King’s, Daughters & Sons. She met Hansard when he requested her by name to play piano on a Frames record.

“It’s a classically funny indie rock story,” she says. “I literally I got this weird call out of the blue from them. I didn’t know who they were. I didn’t wanna just drop everything and go up there. They sent me the first mp3 I ever received on the Internet.”

Grimes will play solo piano selections from her forthcoming solo album, Book of Leaves. The record, three years in the making, is being tracked on a Steinway at the Sisters of Loretto Motherhouse just south of Bardstown.

“I was thinking a lot about open spaces, especially with regard to trees … trees in the open space in the sky, and what being amongst trees and open space does for the life’s interior space,” Grimes says of the album.

“There are moments in the music that I think of as being very intimate and personal, but at the same time, they have a sort of broad, open quality. Sometimes when you look at something up close, it actually resembles something really vast.”

The challenge of making Leaves was finding the right place to record one of the toughest instruments in music: piano. Tracking inside the Motherhouse is tricky because it’s still active, what with people coming and going periodically and tenacious bird activity that will make it onto the album. “In the morning and right at dusk, they are just hyper,” she says. “They don’t take cues too well.”

The Swell Season w/ Rachel Grimes
Monday, May 12
Brown Theatre
315 W. Broadway
$30 (reserved), $40 (Gold Circle); 8 p.m.