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Arts & Life

Damien Jurado: Music From the Midwest to the West Coast via UFO

Clay Masters
Damien Jurado performing in Des Moines at Hoyt Sherman Place on February 15, 2015.

Seattle musician Damien Jurado is spending a bit of time in Iowa this week playing more intimate shows. The early pioneer of Seattle’s singer-songwriter circle has been recording music and touring for nearly two decades. He performs Wednesday at Dordt College in Sioux Center and in a Coraville living room on Friday. He says this kind of venues offers fans a more personal setting.

“We’re living in this day and age where people look at their phones,” Jurado says. “ I went to a Black Keys show recently where people paid 60 to 70 dollars and they were texting on their phone the entire time.”

Jurado’s music calls for a quieter setting. He performs with just an acoustic guitar. While the west coast has always been home for Jurado; many of his early records were set in the Midwest. 

“It really is the land of anonymity. You could get lost here. I always said and thought to myself if there ever was a day that I wanted to disappear and not be found I would drive to the Midwest because it’s literally like finding a needle in a haystack,” “(On) either coast you can stick like a sore thumb.”


Jurado’s sound has changed in the last five years. He’s no longer writing about Middle America. His latest album, Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son, is full of science fiction, biblical references set decades ago.

“It was almost like I snatched you from the Midwest, middle of America, and put you on the west coast by way of a UFO,” Jurado says.


His last three records also mark a change in sound for Jurado – he’s started collaborating with producer and musician Richard Swift. He shows up in the studio with just a guitar. But don’t expect to hear the music as it sounds on his albums in a live set.

“For years I hid behind (a backing band) in a live setting and honestly the fans didn’t really care for it,” Jurado says. “To be honest I didn’t understand that: you know what the album sounds like. So when you go to the live show the only thing that you really want really is the encore when it’s me by myself. So why not give it for the entire set?”