Jeremy Messersmith astonishes with talent, humility

Jeremy Messersmith, an indie pop singer/songwriter from Minneapolis, visited St. Olaf on Sunday, Nov. 16 to lead a songwriting workshop and perform a concert. Loved by many hometown fans, Messersmith’s music has steadily gained popularity over the years, and a few months ago Messersmith and his band performed on The Late Show with David Letterman. Messersmith’s latest album, Heart Murmurs, was his first album with Glassnote Records. It has received the most attention of all of his music so far, and its popularity sent him on tour through the United States as well as Europe.

Messersmith has performed many large concerts and festivals all around the country, including Rock the Garden, Bonnaroo, South by Southwest and others. Despite his growing worldwide fame, Messersmith remains as humble as ever, and on Nov. 16 he brought his music to the Pause.

St. Olaf’s Music Entertainment Committee MEC, coordinated by Rose Dennis ’15, worked to bring Messersmith to campus for an entertaining late-fall show that would contrast with the Hoodie Allen concert earlier this semester. Reaching out to a wide range of students’ musical tastes by providing a different style of music, MEC hosted this show with great success.

Co-hosting Messersmith’s visit, DNNR PRTY hosted a songwriting workshop at 1:30 on Sunday afternoon. Messersmith led this informal workshop that lasted about an hour. Approximately 30 student musicians sat in the Lair and listened as Messersmith played a few songs, talked about his songwriting ideas and tips, answered questions and listened to a few students’ songs.

With his quirky jokes and earnest responses, Messersmith entertained and taught everyone without the slightest hint of superiority. He emphasized the importance of having a genuine idea that you believe in, and encouraged songwriters to ask themselves the question, “What do I have to say that is worth other people’s time?”

Although he didn’t have answers for all of the students’ questions, he inspired lively discussion about songwriting by sharing his experiences and approaches to the songwriting process. Messersmith described the process of his songwriting and music making in the afternoon, and proved that he lives by his own advice that evening at his concert.

At 6:30 p.m., the doors opened. Maria and the Coins opened for Jeremy Messersmith at 7:00 p.m., receiving Messersmith’s praise during his set that began around 7:45 p.m. Combining tabling outside the Caf and at-the-door ticket sales, MEC sold about 300 tickets for one dollar each.

When asked about why the show was hostedon a Sunday, Dennis said that the committee thought a Sunday evening show would be a good stress reliever before the beginning of the week. Students did enjoy the concert, and it provided a fun start to the last full week before Thanksgiving break.

During his set, Messersmith charmed the audience with his simple acoustic guitar and songs from a variety of his albums, as well as some songs that he has not recorded. Between songs, Messersmith answered questions submitted by audience members before the show. As he read submissions ranging from song requests to personal questions to Star Wars references, Messersmith remained his genuine and entertaining self the entire evening.

“He is hilarious,” said Amy Erlandson ’17, echoing the sentiments of many students at the concert, regarding Messersmith’s personality.

“His music was quirky and relateable,” Pearl Faldet ’17 said.

Messersmith closed his performance with two crowd favorites, “Violet” and “Someday, Someone.” “Violet” is from his 2010 album The Reluctant Graveyard, and features a three-part vocal bridge that Messersmith taught the audience before singing the song. Messersmith divided the audience into three groups, rehearsed that section, and then played the song. Afterward, he was surprised by how well the Oles sang.

“That’s probably the best that’s ever sounded,” Messersmith said.

After the concert, Messersmith stayed to chat with his fans, and when asked about what he thought of St. Olaf, his response was quick.

“I thought your cafeteria was full of splendor,” Messersmith said. “It was amazing and I wish that I had one.”