Going home: Wishing Danny a sad farewell
After five years in this strange little piece of Americana we call our town, folk-musician Danny Schmidt is leaving Charlottesville. Schmidt’s songs, a mixture of country, folk, blues, with a dash of (gasp) pop, sung in his strong, expressive voice, will be sorely missed by many, but the songwriter has decided it is time to return to his home.
“To me, it felt inevitable, really, that I would end up back in Austin, [Texas] where I grew up and where all my roots are,” Schmidt explains. But before he goes west, there is one last night of revelry, a siren-song with communal wine-jug, planned– and it’s happening this Saturday.
With one semester left to complete his schooling at the University of Texas, Danny Schmidt picked up and moved to a commune in the Ozarks. "I attended school in the first place cause I didn't know what to do with myself. I quit when I knew what I wanted to do,” Schmidt explains.
During a visit to Virginia, Schmidt fell in love and found that he could hardly function when he returned to the commune. This led to his first foray into songwriting, as he explains: “I had a lot of energy in my body and a lot to express. And no amount of letters or banging away on a steel drum was enough to let enough of it out to allow me to function as a civilized human being. And one afternoon a song just popped out…”
Fast-forward a bit, and we find Danny Schmidt in Virginia with the girl, still writing songs documenting the curve of the relationship. In August 1999, Schmidt released his first album, Live at the Prism Coffeehouse, honoring a place which had been a fitting setting for the songwriter’s intimate songs.
In June 2001 Schmidt released Enjoying the Fall, his first studio production, which follows in the soft and slow acoustic/folk vein found on his debut. Ranging from “Drunk at the Biltmore,” a rumination on life and death in local bars, to “Columbine,” a reaction to the tragedy, the songs on this album span much more than just the “all sorts of love songs” that marked the start of his musical journey.
Schmidt’s farewell party is, in the words of its most important guest, “gonna be very loose. Just a bunch of people hanging out drinking wine, and different people taking turns with the guitar, playing some songs.”
Schmidt will perform and then “Danny's friends and musicians from the community" will join him for the rest of the evening. I can’t really say who’s going to be there, as even Danny himself wasn’t quite sure (he did mention at least eight or so locally well-known names). But one thing I can say-– this is going to be a show Charlottesville music fans don’t want to miss.
Danny Schmidt's Farewell Party at Rapunzel’s Coffee & Books, February 15. $5, 7:30pm.