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WERS Music Director Kendall Stewart had the pleasure of welcoming American musician and producer Jonathan Wilson to the Harbor stage midday Sunday afternoon. Whispers of Wilson’s set were heard all morning long and Wilson took the stage with his band with smiles all around.
Last year Wilson debuted his sophomore album, Gentle Spirit, that peaked at #15 on the UK indie chart and at #4 on Mojo’s Best Albums of the Year list. Gentle Spirit features several special guest musicians. Notably, Wilson had the joy of opening for and supporting Tom Petty on his European tour earlier this year.
Wilson’s set was a hit from the get-go; he opened with an a cappella opening to the track “The Way I Feel” off of Gentle Spirit. There is definitely a cool factor to Wilson with his long hair swaying in the bayside breezes. He seemed very happy to be on stage and sharing his songs with the crowd despite his shy demeanor. Also featured on this afternoon’s set was “Can We Really Party Today”.
My favorite song of the set was easily “Desert Raven,” another track off of Gentle Spirit. The song opened with head-nod-worthy psychedelic riffs that sent a wave of grins across the entire audience. Passersby even had a hard time ignoring the catchy melody as they walked by, stopping to check out who was on the stage. The riffs continued on in the track for a few instrumental breakdowns in the middle.
In the middle of the set, the crowd was thrown for a loop when none other than Jackson Browne appeared on stage. “It’s my great pleasure to welcome one of my best pals up here on stage with me. I’m so happy to get him up here today,” Wilson said.
Browne joined Wilson for a killer rendition of “Gentle Spirit” the title track of his new album that opened with a chilling harmony of vocals from the two before bringing the full band into the chorus. The endless belting of the lyrics, “gentle spirit, find our hearts,” was surprisingly emotional as it reverberated throughout the tent.
Keep a lookout for Wilson, as Gentle Spirit is his first solo album – it certainly won’t be his last.