Lila Downs @ Chicago Symphony Hall
From time to time we have some amazing visitors here at Shure and on Thursday the beautiful Mexican songstress and Shure Endorser Lila Downs paid us a visit a day before her show at Chicago’s Symphony Hall. I picked her up along with her husband Paul Cohen, their adorable newborn baby Benito and their Nanny from the O’Hare airport. We all squeezed into Shure’s Audio 1 and trekked out to Shure HQ located in Niles, IL. She stopped by for a brief interview and a quick tour of where we design, create and torture our products. I think they left even more impressed with our mics after seeing all they go through before our quality engineers deem them tour ready. I always enjoy watching people’s faces when we smash stuff…
During her visit we sat down with her and asked her a few questions about her performance in Chicago which was a tribute to ranchera music queen Chavela Vargas, what motherhood brings to her as far as inspiration and creativity, her first experience behind a mic and her upcoming projects. Stay tuned for her responses and full interview coming soon.
After the visit I drove them to their hotel in downtown Chicago and after they checked in, Lila, Paul and I grabbed a bite to eat at Chicago’s Weber Grill. I know, super touristy but what can I say we all wanted some burgers and it was near their hotel so don’t judge me. In my time doing this and hanging out with rockstars they are some of the nicest people I have met. Paul and Lila if your reading this, thank you for all the marital and baby tips. I recently got married so they will come in very handy.
The next day I took my wife and my parents to see her performance at Symphony hall. Mark Brunner, Shure’s Senior Director of Global Brand Management and Jose Rivas, Shure’s Director of Sales for the Americas joined us as well. I’ve seen her many times but it was the first time I would see her perform here and it would be the first time my parents and wife would see her perform live so I was very excited to share this experience with them.
Opening for Lila was Concha Buika from Spain. Buika came on stage after her piano player who warmed up the crowd. She walked in barefoot and said hello very shyly. As the piano was being played she told us the story about the invitation to sing in America and open for Lila Downs. She went on to say that her mother didn’t believe her when she called her to tell her she was in America yet there she was. She had a camera on stage with her and took pictures to share with her mom as proof. It seemed like she almost didn’t believe it herself and then she began to sing… People it was incredible. The voice that came out of that quaint shy woman sent shivers down my spine. It’s soft and powerful with an incredible vocal range. Seeing her live was a million times better than watching her on youtube. I recommend you catch her performance next time she is in a theater near you.
Up next was Lila… Due to the size of the stage at Symphony Hall she played with a smaller version of her band which was Lead by Paul Cohen’s clarinet and saxophone playing stage right and ended with Harp Virtuoso Celso Duarte on stage left. With those two amazing talents as bookends to the rest of the band you couldn’t even tell that the band was short a few people. They sounded great and Lila sounded amazing as usual. Something about hearing her beautiful voice in that room… It just carried so pleasantly. At one point Lila held a note for who knows how long and I looked over at my wife and parents and their look of amazement on their face was the reason I wanted them to join me that night. To me she is one of music’s magical fairies who spread and inspire good music wherever she goes.
Later in her show between songs she did something which I was not expecting. She thanked Shure and Mark Brunner and me personally for all the support we have given her and also thanked us for loving and supporting music and musicians. It meant a lot to hear her kind words coming from the Symphony Hall stage especially with my family in attendance. It was a very special moment I will never forget but I really must thank her for the artist and person she is and for being one of the reasons why I love music so much.
For more info on Lila Downs including her tour dates, visit: http://www.liladowns.com