Amen Dunes plays ‘Love’ songs in Asheville

By Jessi Stone Guide editor | Jun 18, 2014
Photo by: Tuomas Kopijaakko Amen Dunes

After years of making angsty music, New York-based musician Damon McMahon said he was ready to make some “happy” music when he began writing for his latest album “Love.”

While he has recorded many of his past efforts all alone, he brought in many collaborators on “Love.” But even in a real studio, the music maintains its authenticity — reminding listeners of a scratchy old favorite record.

McMahon’s solo project, Amen Dunes, will be making a stop in Asheville on June 27 at The Mothlight.

“They should expect a magical transcending experience without fail,” McMahon said when asked what concertgoers should expect.

McMahon has been working on the material for this album for almost two years, and he decided to bring in a handful of talented musicians to record the songs.

“Love” was a collaboration of a variety of musicians, including members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor (Dave Bryant and Efrim Menuck recorded the album), Colin Stetson (sax), Elias Bender Ronnenfelt of Iceage, and McMahon’s longstanding collaborators, Jordi Wheeler (guitar and piano) and Parker Kindred (drums).

Parker Kindred said putting the album together was a long process — but well worth the final result.

“New personalities were invited in — people we didn’t know — and we had to learn to work with them,” he said. “We were trying to get the best out of everybody and trying to stay open. People were expecting to do what they do, but we broke down the walls of what they were expecting and that was cool.”

Amen Dunes has always been rooted in traditional singer/songwriting style, but “Love” is his first work in which this so clearly shines through. Artists like Sam Cooke, Tim Hardin, Marvin Gaye, Hector Lavoe and the cosmic non-verbal mediations of Leon Thomas have heavily influenced his music.

In previous interviews, McMahon said he wanted “Love” to be his “Astral Weeks” — Van Morrison’s widely acclaimed masterpiece.

“’Love’ is songwriting music. There are five Amen Dunes albums and they’re all different,” she said. “This album has instrumentation and a certain energy to the songs. I wanted to make more open music — more outward music instead of inward music.”

Amen Dunes will perform at 9 p.m. Friday, June 27 at The Mothlight, 701 Haywood Road, Asheville. Joining him on stage will be Axxa Abraxas, Jamie Hepler/Ross Gentry. Tickets cost $10. For more information, visit