Seven years ago, I was pulled under a large festival tent in the middle of Illinois, with a friend telling me, "You have to see this." The extraordinarily hot farmland sun had gone down, cooling the tent, but as David Eugene Edwards took the stage with his then-new project Woven Hand, a different kind of heat rose — the sort of thing that brimmed out of the Great Awakening.
It's a rare opportunity to come to an artist with a fresh ear, so I sat in the front row that night with mouth agape, taking in Edwards' fiery Americana. I'd later pillage his extensive catalog with both 16 Horsepower and Woven Hand, but for the moment, he stared into the darkness as if something was waiting just outside, stomping it away with his heavy boot keeping the beat.
While on tour with a full band, Edwards stopped by the NPR Music offices to perform a solo set at Bob Boilen's desk with his mandolin-banjo hybrid, a unique instrument made in 1887 by luthier August Pollman. On the video captured here, Edwards book-ended his performance with songs from his two latest releases: "Whistling Girl" from Mosaic and "Kingdom of Ice" from Ten Stones. But it was his cover of Bob Dylan's "As I Went Out One Morning" that really caught my ear. Edwards turned the rumbling country-rock song about "Tom Paine" into a meditative plea, retaining its call to common sense.
- "Whistling Girl"
- "As I Went Out One Morning" (Bob Dylan cover)
- "Kingdom of Ice"
Production by Bob Boilen and Frannie Kelley