The Swell Season Ensure that Their Fans are Not Left ‘Alone Apart’

As if their abundant talent as artists weren’t admirable enough, in the wake of tragedy, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, who perform together as the Swell Season, yesterday provided another reason to admire and respect them.

Perhaps you may have heard that tragedy befell the band a week ago when, in the midst of their performance in Saratoga, CA, a man climbed onto a lighting rig above the stage and leapt to his death onstage, an apparent suicide.  In the days following the tragedy, the band met with grief counselors “to help try and make sense” of the situation, and I’m proud to say that one of the counselors who got the call to work with the band is a friend of mine.  As proud as I was of that friend when I heard that he’d gotten that call and had provided counseling for the band (of those conversations with the grief counselors, the band say they “were of great service to our mind, body, and soul”), I’m every bit as proud of the Swell Season for the statement they made yesterday on their official website.

Full details are available in the statement but, in brief, in recognition of the traumatic event that their fans experienced a week ago tonight, the band has arranged for both one-on-one and group counseling sessions over the coming weeks with Kara, a Bay Area organization, and the sessions are available for free to any and all attendees of the Saratoga concert where the tragedy occurred.

You hear artists talk about “giving back to their fans” fairly regularly (although it tends to be a curiously vague notion when you hear such things), but it’s not too often that you hear about an artist demonstrating this level of thoughtfulness, concern, and genuine caring for their fans, and I, for one, thought that such action merited public recognition and thanks.

Not familiar with the band?  Watch Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova’s jaw-droppingly gorgeous performance of “Falling Slowly” at the 2008 Academy Awards.  The song is from Once, the charming independent movie in which they both starred, and for which they took home the “Best Song” Oscar later in the program:

On a personal note, I’m off to Portland on vacation in the morning and, with grateful thanks to the Whatever community, I’ll be arriving in the city with a mouth-watering to-do list of restaurants, brewpubs, wineries, and arts-related recommendations.  I plan to return to guest blogging duty on Labor Day with a passel of Portland tales to tell…

Now Playing: The Swell Season, by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, an achingly beautiful album that I haven’t listened to in far too long.

7 Comments on “The Swell Season Ensure that Their Fans are Not Left ‘Alone Apart’”

  1. <3's The Swell Season

    My 'guitar buddy' and I went to their concert when they came to New Zealand earlier this year – best night ever.

  2. Oh my God, I hadn’t heard about that incident. How shocking that must have been.

    I love The Swell Season, and the film “Once” — just amazing artists and a wonderful movie. I remember when they won the Oscar, and Marketa Irglova went to give her thanks after Glen Mansard had gone first, she got the standard “cut off” by the producers who cued the music to start. But host Jon Stewart took over and had her come back out and say what she’d wanted to say in the first place.

  3. @2 Jaquandor – ditto everything.
    Thanks John for the post. From what I’ve read about Glen and Marketa their response does not surprise me. Going to play the album myself now!
    Also love The Frames (Glen’s other band) who I saw when they supported Bob Dylan on his last Australian tour.

  4. I LOVED Once, but I didn’t realize they performed together in a band separately from the movie. That’s so awesome and beautiful.

  5. Make sure you make it to Bailey’s Tap Room or the Green Dragon if you want a bit of portland beer culture in action. Also, the Deschutes brew pub is brilliant. You can finish your vacation by eating and drinking at the Laurelwood in the airport.

  6. This is definitely a case of someone doing the right thing when they didn’t really have to. Kudos.

    I hadn’t heard of the band before the reports of this incident came out, but I’ll have to give them a listen.

  7. I can’t imagine such a tragedy happening to anyone. If you have ever had the privilege of watching Swell Season or Glen Hansard and the Frames perform live you just know that these folks posses good souls.

    They are taking an awful situation and doing what they feel is right to make it right for all who were witnesses. And you know they are not doing this for publicity, but because it is the right thing to do.

    Yes, big Kudos to them!

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