Mu­sic, film & Sam Beam

man be­hind iron and Wine ex­plores love of both me­dia at para­mount events

Austin American-Statesman - - LIFE & ARTS - By Peter Mongillo

Sam Beam, the Drip­ping Springs­based singer-song­writer also known as Iron and Wine, is a busy man. When he’s not on the road, Beam is a full-time fa­ther to five daugh­ters. He’s also hard at work fin­ish­ing the fol­low-up to his suc­cess­ful 2007 al­bum “The Shep­herd’s Dog.” It’s a sched­ule that doesn’t al­low much time to per­form up the road in Austin, some­thing that makes his two ap­pear­ances next week at the Para­mount The­atre even more spe­cial.

In the sec­ond year of what Beam hopes will con­tinue to be­come a larger event, the in­die folk dar­ling will per­form a con­cert Thurs­day to ben­e­fit the Mid­wives Al­liance of North Amer­ica, the night af­ter host­ing a film.

“The cause is im­por­tant to me,” he said by phone this month from Vir­ginia, where he was vis­it­ing fam­ily. “My wife is a mid­wife, we’ve had all our kids at home and it’s been such a good ex­pe­ri­ence that I like to do what I can to see that women have the op­tion of hav­ing a mid­wife.”

Last year’s event was so suc­cess­ful — rais­ing much more money than ex­pected — that Beam de­cided to add a sec­ond re­cip­i­ent this year. Part of the pro­ceeds from Thurs­day’s show, which in­cludes a guest ap­pear­ance from mem­bers of past Iron and Wine col­lab­o­ra­tors Calex­ico, will go to the Health Al­liance for Austin Mu­si­cians. Beam says that he chose HAAM in part be­cause he knows what it is like to be a mu­si­cian with­out health in­surance.

On Wed­nes­day at the Para­mount, Beam will host “Iron and Wine Movie Night,” in which he will in­tro­duce a screen­ing of Ter­rence Mal­ick’s 1973 film “Bad­lands.” Beam, who earned an mas­ter’s of fine arts from Florida State Uni­ver­sity’s film school and taught film classes at Mi­ami In­ter­na­tional Uni­ver­sity, says that Mal­ick’s films rank among his fa­vorites.

He was ex­cited that a print of “Bad­lands” was avail­able, partly be­cause Mal­ick re­sides in the Austin area (don’t ex­pect to see the reclu­sive di­rec­tor at the screen­ing). “It’s an older movie that a lot of peo­ple know about but not many peo­ple get a chance to see it in a theater,” he said.

In the con­text of the lush and of­ten dark Gothic tinge that char­ac­ter­ize many Iron and Wine songs, Beam’s choice of “Bad­lands,” which is based on an ac­tual 1950s killing spree, isn’t too sur­pris­ing. Beam in­tro­duced a screen­ing of an­other Mal­ick film, “Days of Heaven,” at the 2009 All To­mor­row’s Par­ties Fes­ti­val in New York.

Beam’s love of film is not limited to host­ing screen­ings; this year he di­rected a video for the Swell Sea­son’s “Low Ris­ing” (the Swell Sea­son’s Glen Hansard joined Beam at last year’s ben­e­fit show). He de­vel­oped the con­cept for the video, which fea­tures Hansard and band­mate Marketa Ir­glova go­ing about their day, each with a per­sonal rain shower above their head. He says it was fun to bring his per­spec­tive to some­one else’s song and that he’d like to do more di­rect­ing in the fu­ture.

His back­ground in film also plays a role in his song­writ­ing. “It’s not like I sit and try to think of a movie when writ­ing, but I did have the train­ing in screen­writ­ing where you learn to com­mu­ni­cate vis­ually, and I think I’ve al­ways been drawn that kind of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, whether it’s paint­ing or pho­tog­ra­phy or film,” he said. “It’s more in­ter­est­ing to me; it’s a bit more open ended. It’s much more fun to paint a pic­ture and let peo­ple draw their own con­clu­sions.”

Fans of Iron and Wine can ex­pect a new al­bum in the be­gin­ning of 2011. It will be his first re­lease of new ma­te­rial since 2007’s “The Shep­herd’s Dog” (in 2009 he re­leased “Around the Well,” a col­lec­tion of pre­vi­ously un­re­leased sin­gles and B-sides), which saw Beam take his mu­sic in a more ex­pan­sive di­rec­tion, in­cor­po­rat­ing new lay­ers of per­cus­sion and ex­per­i­men­tal sounds.

Beam jokes when asked how the ma­te­rial com­pares with his pre­vi­ous work.

“It’s newer,” he laughs. “There seems to be more of a pop el­e­ment to it. It def­i­nitely picks up where ‘The Shep­herd’s Dog’ left off. It’s got the same amount of sonic bits and bobs, at the same time there’s horns, a lot more keys, it’s kind of all over the place. Some peo­ple that have lis­tened to it say it sounds like the smell of their par­ents car in the ’70s — all their fa­vorite AM Gold.”

In the mean­time, Beam says he’s think­ing about ways to ex­pand next year’s ben­e­fit show, pos­si­bly by adding per­form­ers. “Now that we’ve de­cided to make it an an­nual thing, we can kind of do what­ever we want,” he said. “I’d like to make it some­thing dif­fer­ent each year.”

Kim Black

This is the sec­ond year Sam Beam of Iron and Wine has done a ben­e­fit con­cert for Mid­wives Al­liance of North Amer­ica. His wife is a mid­wife, and all of his five chil­dren were born at home.

Beam will host a show­ing of Ter­rence Mal­ick’s 973 film ‘Bad­lands’ Wed­nes­day at the Para­mount The­atre. It stars Martin Sheen as Kit Car­ruthers.

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