One Post, One Beam

One Post, One Beam

The origin story of the Nights of Grief and Mystery is an unlikely dovetail joint of timing (the Deity’s middle name), money (not ours) and self-unemployment (Hoskins and me). Within eighteen months of our meeting we were touring widely, and people were coming to the shows on several continents, we had a record, and we were learning how to keep up our end of an undeclared ceremony in ceremonially-illiterate times. The scale and scope prompted us – wonder of wonders – to consider adding a band to our band width.

When lightning agrees to coalesce in the fruitjar you raise up to the skies, some part of you figures that this is, all things considered, a good start, that there’s momentum now, and updraught and, provided you don’t blink, or screw it up too badly, there’s no reason this can’t go on for some version of forever. At our ages, Hoskins and I might have known better. It was early 2020, we had a 70-city tour on the books, and a band, and the makings of a new record on our minds.

The record happened, but the tour didn’t. Not one of those shows came to pass. Things went from ‘delayed’ to ‘postponed’ to ‘cancelled’ in a matter of six weeks. Thirty months later, nothing’s what it was. Playing for a live crowd isn’t momentum, now. It isn’t inevitable, either. It’s what it always was: a privilege, an unlikely one. It has all the maker’s marks of stand-and-deliver/now-or-never. And the opportunities to do it are proving to be rare, very hard to wrangle. The audiences are half of what they were, and many of the expenses twice what they were. We can feel the damage of the last thirty months. People are careful with themselves, careful with their responses to a night of genre-defying tent show reviving.

I’m amazed over the last two months of touring to find that all of this has revived that origin story, and given us a chance to find a new voicing for these Nights, to learn a kind of ‘here’s a poet/there’s a musician’ candor. The duet face of Nights of Grief and Mystery: this is us trueing the posts and the beams of our calling, squaring the evenings with the turbulence of the times, making something load-bearing and venerable. With this candor, with the gift of your evening, Hoskins and I are making shelter, with the night sky and it’s star maps shining in, making good on what came to get us those seven years ago.

Stephen Jenkinson
Founder of Orphan Wisdom