New Music Raleigh Plays Beck’s Song Reader


The score of Beck’s “Saint Dude” indicates an “Abiding” tempo. One of the songs is titled “The Title of This Song.” Song Reader is party honky tonk, part electronic, part rock, and all Beck.

Violinist and NMR mainstay, Karen Galvin.

Violinist and NMR mainstay, Karen Galvin.

I had the good luck to find out that the extremely talented New Music Raleigh would be playing the whole “album” at King’s Barcade in Raleigh.

Old Ceremony singer Django Haskins lends his talents to the show

NMRBlog-15I first met Shawn and Karen Galvin, the masterminds behind New Music Raleigh, back in 2010, when I was asked to shoot a concert of theirs at the Murphy School in Raleigh. Generally known for playing the work of more “classical” (that doesn’t really seem like the right word–instrumental? Orchestral?) living composers, NMR assembled a highly talented group to do something completely different–play Beck Hansen’s most recent “album”–the twenty-song book of sheet music and illustrations he published as Song Reader.

New Music Raleigh co-founder and percussionist, Shawn Galvin

New Music Raleigh co-founder and percussionist, Shawn Galvin

Since first hearing New Music Raleigh, I have been a fan of their work, their talent, and their mission. I have also always been a casual fan of Beck–I very much respect the work he is creating and the disruptions he has caused in the music industry, even if I haven’t been a rabid fan of all of his songs.


I learned about Song Reader while listening to a feature on NPR a few months ago, and then, at breakfast with Shawn and Karen discussing general promotional photos, they mentioned they’d be playing the whole thing, all twenty songs. Their eyes lit up when they started talking about the project, and I knew this would be good.

Django rests backstage during intermission

Django rests backstage during intermission

I, along with the rest of the audience, was not disappointed. An eclectic mix of styles, Song Reader was brilliantly interpreted by NMR, with an excellent arrangement from Brett William Deitz.


All of the songs were unmistakably Beck–the chord changes, the irreverent titles of the songs and playful instructions in the scores fairly shout “Beck made this!” So even though it’s not Beck himself, personally performing these songs, it IS Beck, performed by other talented musicians.


With music probably influencing my photography more than other photographers or photographs, this show was an absolute treat for me, and I am glad to have had the opportunity to get to know, collaborate with, and listen to, Shawn and Karen and their collective of talented musicians.




Add A Comment