SAN FRANCISCO — Tennessee native Valerie June and New Orleans singer-songwriter Gill Landry have a bit of a history; the former member of Old Crow Medicine Show produced June’s 2010 EP, Valerie June and the Tennessee Express, as she was just starting out. On Monday, both found themselves in San Francisco and used the opportunity to tell old stories and share the stage.
June, with her unique, twangy vocal delivery and songs that weaved Appalachia, folk, country, soul and some blues and funk, was the main event, packing the Fillmore to near-capacity. On this night, she divided her set into two halves. Much of the first half was slower and introspective, including slow burners like “Tennessee Time,” which kicked off her 80-minute set. She stretched out her band’s abilities in the second half with songs like the foot-stomping “Shakedown.” It was one of several songs off her 2017 album, The Order of Time. June later brought Landry on stage to perform “Rain Dance,” one of her earliest tracks, jaunted through the Motown-tinged “The Hour” and folky “Somebody to Love,” and finished with a soulful barrage that included “Astral Plane” and “Got Soul,” two of her best-known tracks.
Throughout the set, Valerie June carried out monologues about the spiritual in the mundane, “journeys we lead in life that lead us somewhere,” and soaking up the supermoon—she’s a big fan of the supermoon. One of the most touching moments came in a story early in the set, as June recalled her last time performing at the Fillmore, as an opener to Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. It was her only time sharing the stage with the soul singer, who died in late 2016.
“I came in here talking to the spirits,” June said. “I was talking to her spirit, and others.”
Gill Landry was a force all his own at the Fillmore—a one-man cacophony of reverbed sound and heartbreaking lyrics that were matched only by his Steinbeckian storytelling between songs. His roughly 40-minute set include songs off his recently released fourth solo record, Love Rides a Dark Horse. He kicked things off slowly with “Funeral in My Heart” and the poignant “Denver Girls,” before showing off his fancy fretwork on a couple intricately up-tempo numbers. Between the songs, he told stories from his youth growing up in New Orleans, and one story of hitchhiking to San Francisco with a former girlfriend and two men named Dave. The group spent several nights in Buena Vista Park and learned hippy culture, and Landry ended up moving to the City for a bit, paying $300 in rent per month in the Mission.
— Roman Gokhman