Seeing Micah P. Hinson for the very first time, we were struck by his youthful face, juvenile features which nonetheless hide an old voice in the particular and pure tradition of the American west. Nonetheless, it suits him well, his childlike appearance. His innocent exuberance is one that is usually lost by adolescence; he bears a buoyant excitement that belies the kid inside him.
That night, when we asked him what he thought of Bosque Brown, who he would be playing just before him, he declared without batting an eye that Brown had literally saved his life, that the music was the only reason he and his wife are still married. He had a similar reaction when we crossed the Place de la Bastille: we relayed its history, and the site became the cradle of western civilisation. Sorry, the Cradle of Western Civilisation. When he called his aforementioned wife, he told her the minute details of his life since six pm the previous day, before telling her he loved her – about twenty times.
This is Micah P. Hinson’s latent power: nothing is ever expressed slowly. To the contrary, everything erupts. When he sings, he gives the impression that he is trying to channel something that comes from far beyond. His songs are small boats being hurled about on the raging waters of a voice that never stops rumbling, songs that we imagine crouched like a wildcat, ready to pounce, until suddenly they end and all is calm.
We started by bringing him to the port of the Bassin de l’Arsenal, a huge open space. Here he whispered, almost to himself, controlling his power, as if the tall buildings and unmoving boats played witness to a world that could not be bothered to move for so little. Up until this point, all went well.
Before we ended up in a bar, Micah asked me if I had a request. I suggested “The Fire Came Up To My Knees”. He tried to warn me: “I can get really loud on that one.” He restrained himself while he played, possibly in consideration of the half-dozen spectators who had gathered. His voice never stopped descending to the low scales, scraping the ground. Still rumbling, as if it came from far beyond. Quickly finishing the song, he carried on talking. At Café de la Danse two hours later, he played his heart out, in front of an easily conquered audience.
Translated by Tara Dominguez