M. Ward is almost too busy to come perform at the third show of this summer's Twilight Concert Series. Besides promoting his seventh album, "Hold Time," M. Ward is working on recording a follow-up to his side project, "She and Him," with doe-eyed actress Zooey Deschanel. And this September, Ward, Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes and Jim James of My Morning Jacket will release a much-anticipated collaboration titled "Monsters of Folk."
In the past, the indie-folk singer-songwriter has said he didn't like being on the road. "If I am touring too much and have low energy, I might have said that," said Ward, whose "M" is short for Matthew.
Ward, 35, found his musical influences early by listening to his father's Johnny Cash records. He first attracted notice in the Portland music scene and recorded his first record, "Duet for Guitars #2," in 1999. Since then, there has been a "nice, steady incline" in his career, and he has become sought out as a collaborator. Recently, he has worked with musicians Norah Jones, Cat Power and Neko Case, as well as bands such as My Morning Jacket and Bright Eyes.
Ward praises Oberst, his friend of eight years, who recently performed in Utah. "[Conor's] words will be around for a long time," Ward said. "He omits needless words and gives you the complete picture."
Oberst has returned the praise; in 2004, Ward played guitar for Bright Eyes during "The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn," and at one point, Oberst yelled out "M. Ward for president!"
Ward's opening opening act, the Montreal indie-rock band Land of Talk, almost didn't put Salt Lake City on its schedule.
Singer and guitarist Elizabeth Powell's left vocal cord hemorrhaged during a stint performing with Broken Social Scene, a Canadian collective whose members have included Feist. (Powell was with the band last year when it performed at the Twilight Concert Series.)
She ultimately had to take three months off singing. She recently watched film footage of her being interviewed in November, right before the injury, and she described her voice as sounding like "Kermit on two packs a day."
Even now, she is working with a speech therapist and a voice coach to protect her powerful voice and keep it healthy.
An interesting bit of trivia is that Powell might be one of the muses for Bon Iver's 2008 record "For Emma, Forever Ago," an album Wisconsin singer-songwriter Justin Vernon (who performed at this summer's first Twilight Series concert) recorded in a secluded cabin for three months in the winter of 2006-07. The resulting, acclaimed album -- much of it was about heartache -- was named by critics as one of the best albums of 2008.
And who was one of Vernon's girlfriends before the recording? Powell. "[That album] changed my life," Powell said. "I can't even talk about it."
That's a funny thing, considering the musician's band is called Land of Talk.
When » Thursday, July 23, at 7 p.m.
Where » Gallivan Center, 239 S. Main St., Salt Lake City
Tickets » Free
Opening act » Land of Talk
Upcoming Twilight Concert Series schedule:
July 30 » Sonic Youth, Awesome Color
Aug. 6 » Q-Tip. B.o.B.
Aug. 13 » Toots and the Maytals, N.A.S.A.
Aug. 20 » Iron & Wine, Okkervil River
Aug. 27 » Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears