Britt Daniel, frontman of the 2022 Grammy-nominated indie rock group Spoon, came to Penn on April 13 to talk and sing for the 17th iteration of the Kelly Writers House Blutt Singer-Songwriter Symposium.
Held annually since 2006, the event is endowed by Penn alumnus and philanthropist Mitchell Blutt and his wife Margo Blutt. The symposium — which singer Rosanne Cash inaugurated — has since featured the likes of Suzanne Vega, Michelle Zauner, Patti Smith, and Rufus Wainwright.
The seminar-concert itself, which stretched from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., was held in the main reading room of the Kelly Writers House and was hosted by longtime Penn professor and eminent music critic Anthony DeCurtis.
The seminar-concert began with a question from DeCurtis to Daniel and then continued in a cycle of question-performance until the very end.
The four songs that Daniel played across the night include: “I Summon You," “The Agony of Laffitte," “My Babe," and “Wild." The last two songs are from Spoon’s most recent Grammy-nominated album, “Lucifer on the Sofa."
Audience feedback was unwaveringly positive, with many staying afterward to ask Daniel questions, take selfies with him, and get their coveted records signed.
“He asked my name and shook my hand, and I don’t imagine that’s a thing that frequently occurs,” 2022 College graduate Rachel Swym said. “[He] was very personable.”
Others at the venue echoed Swym's sentiments.
“It was really good energy … I go to a lot of events, and honestly, sometimes I get tired. But this event was really good and I really, really appreciate that I was there,” College senior Andrés Gonzalez-Bonillas said.
Mingo Reynolds has been organizing the Blutt Singer-Songwriter Symposium since its inception in 2006.
“I don't think people who want to spend their lives telling their stories in song could possibly be people you don’t want to know more about … Sometimes you just need the right angle of approach to be able to figure out why you want to listen to them — and that’s what the [Blutt Singer-Songwriter Symposium] does for me every single time,” Reynolds said.
The love was mutual, with Daniel himself singing high praise for his time on campus — including his sit-in on DeCurtis’ class, “Writing about the Arts and Popular Culture."
“I’ve met a lot of good kids today. It’s really good to see and meet these kids who are really interested in music and how it's made,” Daniel said. “We [Spoon] started out playing a lot on college campuses, so it’s still really exciting for me to do that.”
Daniel, who first picked up the guitar at thirteen and began the group in 1994 while enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin, has since produced nine albums across his 29-year career, including numerous songs for movies such as “Cloverfield," “Spider-Man: Homecoming," and “Stranger Than Fiction." He currently lives by himself in Austin where he said the endless opportunities to “see live music out” make him “a happier person.”