There are individuals one meets that seem to be working on a different level. They exude calm in every task and emanate a peace and presence that spreads to those around them. I think such an individual is the best we can hope to be in this life, and I am grateful to have met several on my journey thus far. Chris Bathgate is most certainly one of them. He also happens to be an incredible musician and one of the purest performers I've ever had the honor of watching. I had a chance to see Bathgate play in Birmingham, Alabama one week ago, where he kept a diverse audience rapt for the duration of his 50-minute set. No one moved, no one spoke. If they had, they might have missed something. And that's the sense that Bathgate's performative acumen inspires--between his near flirtatious deliberation, broad array of modifying implements, and sinuous voice, every moment of a Bathgate show seems pregnant with the possibility of startling beauty. His patience and command on stage create a space in which both silence and nuance can breathe and subsequently be leveraged into passages of arresting power and depth. A devoted reader of poetry, Bathgate rarely wastes a word in such moments; some crescendos seem to be addressed to the very gods who bruised him.
Music must be the channel through which Bathgate grapples his demons, because off-stage you'll seldom find a nicer guy. During the filming of the Fogged Clarity documentary last summer, he spent much of his free time in the kitchen baking popovers, birthday brownies, and rustic Italian dishes. When he wasn't cooking or playing, he'd talk with the younger artists who'd come up, their faces lighting up at the absolute attention and sincerity he brings to most every conversation I've had with him. The dude is special, and I consider it a privilege to be able to share the second of Fogged Clarity's Les Cheneaux Sessions with you below, featuring none other than the man himself, Chris Bathgate.