Sycamore’s basement was much darker than I thought. The three, orange stage lights nailed to a wooden beam were busy fighting against the room being plunged into complete blackness. She lit the candles inside glass jars and lined them up meticulously on top of the wooden benches. I went back up the basement stairs and shut the door that led back to the bar slowly filling up with happy-hour patrons. When I got back, Jess had already unraveled a handful of connected guitar pedals and moved the bar’s framed, antique sketches closer to her chosen spot. Jess was wearing a mustard-colored, leopard-print dress that perfectly complemented the bright corner of the basement she had carved out for herself. “What do you think?”

It took almost three years and sixty-four bands for Jess Martins and I to meet again. After her band, Via Audio, one of my favorites for years now, stopped by our old college town and played an epic few songs for us at the beginning of this project, I always knew that something extra would eventually spill out. It’s members were way too talented and way too invested in their musical worlds to not have their own projects possibly brewing in their chests. Christine still remembers the night I was editing the Via Audio session, only the thirteenth at the time, when I had haphazardly mentioned that Jess must also be amazing if she had solo stuff. Sure enough, the name “Modest Midas,” Jess Martins’ moniker for her rogue, solo tunes, started popping up on my Facebook about a year ago.

With a new Via Audio record already in the works this year, I was ecstatic to see Jess racing excitedly from one end of Sycamore to another, desperately and happily trying to put together the image of how she thought this little film would go. For all intensive purposes, the music of “Modest Midas” might never emerge outside of a handful of live videos. But as long as Via Audio continues to pile on their amazing pop tunes, I might be satisfied to have it as so and keep this live film between Jess and I as one beautiful secret.

"In Search Of Magic"
Wanderer Session #77: Modest Midas
Music, Set Design by Jessica Martins
Images, Sound, Edit by Kevin de Wilde
Filmed in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, New York
Fall 2012

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