My Weekend With Joseph and Kelsey

Last week was a tough week. I went through a huge project at work. I was still getting over being really sick, and I couldn’t find time to rest to help get past it so I had a slight relapse. In early January I had bought tickets to see one of my favorite bands in both Dallas and Austin over the weekend. Friday night’s show in Dallas didn’t start until 9 so I knew I could get down in time even if I didn’t get out of work until 5 and the traffic would be bad because of all of the construction. What I didn’t count on was three weeks of of feeling under the weather and projects which would lead to a lack of any downtime. With a daunting 12 hours of total driving in front of me, I almost considered not making the trip. I’m glad that turned out to be just a passing thought, because I would’ve missed out on my favorite concert experience to this date and a mental recharge of sorts.

I don’t remember when I first started listening to Joseph. What I do remember is Native Dreamer Kin immediately becoming one of my favorite albums. The depth and the passion that I could feel in each one of the songs always impressed me. Each one of the songs was unique, but the one that always got me the most was the album closer “Eyes to the Sky,” more on that in a bit. Last March I was fortunate to be able to drive down and catch the last set that they played at south by southwest in Austin. I was amazed that as incredible as I suspected that they would be live, they were somehow able to blow those lofty expectations out of the water. In that brief 30 minute set, they had hooked me. I got home and immediately preordered I’m Alone, No You’re Not and waited for the inevitable tour announcement. When the album arrived in August, I couldn’t stop listening. “White Flag” with its message of not giving in to fear was awesome, but it was “I Don’t Mind” and “Honest” with their messages to find hope in the face of despair and loneliness that felt like they had been written especially for me. In October I drove to Kansas City and the on to Columbia Missouri to see them on back to back nights. The first was an acoustic set as an opening act and second was a headlining full band show. Both were amazing.

Fast forward to Friday. I got to the venue right at 9pm as the show was just beginning. I was one of the last ones in and didn’t feel up to trying to push my way into the crowd so I hung toward the back. As I walked in, I was greeted by the infectious sounds coming from the stage. This was my introduction to the brilliance that is Kelsey Kopecky. Each one of her songs drew me in and her stories were the best. After her short set, I was an instant fan. Joseph came out and were their normal amazing selves. They played all my favorites that I knew I’d get to hear, and then it happened. They were fighting the bass that was bleeding through the wall from the venue next door. The guy next to me yelled a request for “Eyes to the Sky,” and I was floored when they started playing it. The beauty of the lyrics swept over me and spoke into me once again.

Sun come down on me now.
Warm this cold, cold heart of mine.
Troubles come and troubles go.
May I see light through tired eyes.
I will lift up my eyes to the sky, to the sky.
I will lift up my eyes to the sky, to the sky…
Give me grace and give me peace
Through my pain and suffering.
Be a constant fire that draws me higher;
Burn up the despair that’s been sinking me.

After the show ended I hung around hoping to get to chat with them for a moment and tell them how much I enjoyed the show and that it was exactly what I needed after a trying few weeks. That didn’t happen, but I did get the pleasure of spending some time with Kelsey K. I bought her CD and told her I’d be down in Austin the next night. She asked questions about me and where I was from and was kind enough to take a photo with me. She told me to listen to the cd so I’d know her songs for Saturday’s show.

I got up early and drove the 3 hours down I35. I wanted to be able to spend time with my cousins. They took me to brunch and the we played footgolf. I was determined to be front and center for the show in Austin since I was at the back where a lot of people were talking through the show in Dallas. I arrived an hour and a half before the doors were set to open figuring I would be the first in line. Someone else got there just before me though. A little before the show started Kelsey came out and saw me and came over and asked about my drive before she went on her way. The time passed and the line grew until it was finally time to open the doors. I was able to get right next to the stage in the center. As great as Dallas was, it couldn’t have prepared me for the excellence that awaited me this night.

Right at 8pm Kelsey took the stage and after listening to the songs a few times on the way down I was able to understand the lyrics much better. What made it even cooler were the stories she told about each song. Hands down my favorite is “Bunnie” which was about her dealings with the lady who helped book the chapel for her wedding. That story had the crowd giggling throughout as she sang each word. Also fun were the stories about her baby sitting gig and her mom and growing up in Minnesota. After the show I was able to visit with her some more and she told me a little rhyme she made up to help her remember the name of my hometown of Meeker. We also talked about the importance of telling stories before songs and how it helps the audience make a further connection with it. I appreciated her kindness and her genuine interest in me and what I thought about her performance. I’m a huge fan.

I don’t even know where to begin with Joseph’s set. There were so many natural fun and funny moments. There were also those powerfully deep moments that come with their songs. I get chills each time Meegan tells the story behind “I Don’t Mind.” I very much identify with the need to reject despair and remind yourself that you need to love yourself no matter what tries to attack you. By far the highlight of the night was during the encore. They pulled up members of The Oh Hellos and Duncan Fellows who happened to be in the crowd; and there it was again, the first song of theirs that truly stood out to me, “Eyes to the Sky.” This time, however; it became my favorite concert experience period. With all of the others they pulled up on stage including Kelsey, they all sang a powerful version that I cannot describe. I felt my spirit being lifted further.

The three sisters of Joseph on stage in Austin

As I said, I stopped to talk with Kelsey; but she had a line of people who were before me. So that and the conversation we had made for a long delay in leaving. This allowed for me to be present when everyone else but the venue employees had left. Meegan came out to count and put away their remaining merchandise which gave me the opportunity to talk to her. After awhile she asked if I was waiting to possibly take a photo. I wasn’t but I jumped at the opportunity. This gave me a few moments to also speak to Natalie and Allie and to convey my appreciation for what they do and to tell them that each drive is more than worth it. I left the venue refreshed and fulfilled. To Allie, Meegan, Natalie, and Kelsey, if you ever stumble across this and read it, thank you for using your gifts the way you do. This weekend was an experience I won’t forget. You’ve made each effort to see you more than worth it and I will continue to make the drive whenever it’s possible. With that said, please come to Oklahoma.

Perfect way to cap off the experience. Getting to spend a few moments with them

4 Responses to “My Weekend With Joseph and Kelsey”

  1. Momma Julie says:

    Thank you for taking time to love & appreciate good music. I’m Kelsey’s Mom & reading your words brought happiness to my heart. I know she is doing exactly what she is meant to be doing. May you continued to be touched by songs 👍

    • philip says:

      Well thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I agree with you, she’s definitely doing what she’s meant to do. Her songs and kindness definitely made this past weekend special. I wish her all the success in the world as she continues on this journey. I hope our paths cross again soon.

  2. Glad it was awesome! Just reading about the driving made me a little exhausted–I might need a nap now. 🙂 Looks like a great time though.
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    • Phil says:

      Thanks Jason, the drive home was harder than the drive there. I knew if I could getvtherecit would be a great time. I’m glad I did. 😊