Together Again

Three talented friends will reunite to play each other’s music at the Walker on Thursday.

Sam Amidon, Nico Muhly and Thomas Bartlett frequently collaborate on each other’s folk and classical music. They’ll reunite for their first show in the US in years at the Walker tonight and tomorrow

Photo by Matt Luem

Sam Amidon, Nico Muhly and Thomas Bartlett frequently collaborate on each other’s folk and classical music. They’ll reunite for their first show in the US in years at the Walker tonight and tomorrow

Tony

 

WHAT: The 802 Tour

WHERE: McGuire Theater, Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave.

WHEN: 8 p.m., March 22-23

COST: $22 ($18 for Walker members)

 

The three musicians that make up the 802 Tour are all listenable and talented on their own, but they thrive on heavy collaboration with artists both inside and outside of their respective wheelhouses. When the three Ivy League buddies play each other’s music on the tour they’re able to fully realize their collaborative ambitions.

Four years ago, classical composer Nico Muhly, folk songwriter Sam Amidon and Doveman bandleader Thomas Bartlett hit the road as the 802 Tour, named for the area code in Vermont where the three grew up. The tour was well received, but busy schedules have kept the group from reuniting on stage together until now, when they play two exclusive shows at the Walker.

At the center of the tour — both sonically and collaboratively — is Bartlett, who grew up in Brattleboro, Vt. with Amidon before studying at Columbia University with Muhly.

“As a teenager, I was playing folk music with Sam but also studying classical music,” Bartlett said. “I wouldn’t consider myself a composer, but my focus for the last 10 years has been more on songs and rock music.”

Bartlett’s main musical project, Doveman, specializes in soft-spoken, piano-driven songs that are equal parts ambient and folky. His keen ear and variety of influences have allowed him to work with performers like David Byrne, Antony and the Johnsons and The National.

Even more prolific is Muhly. The Philip Glass protégé doesn’t pay credence to the divide between rock, pop and classical music. It has allowed him to do arrangements for Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi and Grizzly Bear while amassing a large catalog of classical compositions for his 30 years. His style is lush but minimal with a precociousness that incorporates the grammar of post-rock and chamber pop.

Rounding out the lineup is Sam Amidon, who has made a name for himself with gorgeous re-creations of traditional Appalachian folksongs. His renditions are incredibly modern, unafraid to use orchestrations and electronics to accompany his guitar and banjo. These elements work together in a style reminiscent of Owen Pallett, a frequent 802 collaborator.

Members of the trio often pair off to work on each other’s songs; Muhly wrote a piece for Amidon called “The Only Tune” that served as a centerpiece for the last tour, Amidon plays banjo in Doveman and many of the arrangements on his albums come courtesy of Muhly. So when the three finally come together on stage, the collaboration feels natural.

Playing songs from three different artists in one show could feel unfocused or disjointed, but since collaboration is already the backbone of Muhly, Amidon and Bartlett’s work, the songs dovetail together nicely. The three friends just enjoy playing some of their favorite songs together.

“It’s very playful, the way this all works out,” Bartlett said. “It’s as much about our friendship and having fun together as anything else.”