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Dan Auerbach @ KCRW'S Apogee Sessions 6/14/17. Photo by Brian Lowe. Courtesy of KCRW. Used with permission.
Dan Auerbach @ KCRW’S Apogee Sessions 6/14/17. Photo by Brian Lowe. Courtesy of KCRW. Used with permission.

As anyone who has ever listened to one of KCRW’s Apogee Sessions on Morning Becomes Eclectic knows, these events are special. And for those who have yet to tune in for one, Dan Auerbach’s session which will broadcast and stream on July 6th is a perfect introduction. It’s not just the intimacy of the space that makes these nights so amazing, although seeing artists like Auerbach in a space that fits less than 200 people definitely adds to the evening, it’s more than that. And this past Wednesday’s session was no exception.   Hosted by Jason Bentley, Auerbach was there to promote his recent album, Waiting on a Song.   Although his second solo venture was recorded with a band full of Nashville legends, Auerbach opted for a more stripped down version of the songs for the session. Armed with only his guitar, and backed by his songwriting partner Pat McLaughlin, it felt like a departure for a man who is most well-known for filling arenas with high energy rock music as one half of the Black Keys. At least until he explained the origin of this album.

Dan Auerbach @ KCRW'S Apogee Sessions 6/14/17. Setlist.The nine song set was split up by an conversation with Jason Bentley, who began the evening by describing Auerbach as one of the most important artists of this generation. It may feel like a bold statement at first, but when one thinks about Auerbach’s contributions both as a performer (The Arcs, The Black Keys and his solo albums), and as a producer (Ray La Montagne and Lana Del Rey, among others), it seems like just praise.   The mutual admiration between the Bentley and Auerbach sharing the stage was evident from the start. And it is fun to listen to the banter between two men whose careers have caused their paths to cross throughout the years in different capacities. Sounding more like two friends catching up than interviewer and interviewee, it’s not long into their conversation that you begin to see that this album is less of a departure, and more of a return to the roots of what made Auerbach want to be a musician in the first place.

A nine year Nashville resident, it has only been in the last year where he has made a conscious effort to spend time in Music City and take advantage of the history and culture that made him want to live there in the first place. This choice to slow down and take a break from the insanity of his life as a touring musician to reconnect with why he loved music in the first place is evident from the start of this performance. Seven of the nine songs in the set were from his recent album, while two, Trouble weighs a Ton and Goin’ Home, were from his first solo album Keep it Hid. Although written before his tour hiatus, the latter two songs feeling like they were the start of this new direction his solo music was going to take in his sophomore album.

Auerbach has always been open about what inspires him musically, and here he talks about the influence his bluegrass loving uncle had on him early in his life. His uncle sparked an interested in music that led him to study the greats, and this admiration for those who came before him is still evident in both his music and his spoken word. One of most telling moments of the interview is when he talks about the amazing army of Nashville musicians he had back him on this album, including the aforementioned Pat McLaughlin, a Nashville legend in his own right. Although not many may be household names, their credits are impressive and Auerbach beams as he rattles some of the most impressive off to the crowd. And as he speaks, he sounds less like the award-winning artist and producer he is, and more like that kid from Akron, Ohio discovering a hidden gem in his uncle’s record collection. It is this openness that Bentley brings out in Auerbach, as well as the raw emotion brought out in the stripped down version of the songs performed, that makes this Apogee Session a can’t miss listen when it airs on “Morning Become Eclectic” and streams on KCRW.com on July 6th. Don’t miss it!

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