Two shows, one band

By Sheena Barnett

The Congress has two shows in North Mississippi this weekend. Check it:

• At the Oxford Music Festival

10:30 p.m. Friday at Proud Larry’s

Cost: $10/music festival pass, $25/3-day music festival pass. There are also passes available for both the Oxford Film Festival and the music festival.

For a full line-up and more information on the Music Festival, visit oxfordmusicfest.com.

• At the Blue Canoe, in Tupelo

8:30 p.m. Saturday

Cost: $10

For more, call (662) 269-2642 or visit facebook.com/BlueCanoeTupelo

Listen up, live show bootleggers and fans of musical improvisation: The Congress is your friend.

The rock ‘n’ roll band thrives on finding new ways to bend and change its music, staying on the road and connecting with fans across the country.

“When we’re playing live, we’re really heavily focused on improvisation and what can happen in between songs,” said The Congress’ lead singer, Jonathan Meadows. “The song has its parts, and then whatever happens in between or before or after is really up to us.”

Thanks to that free spirit take on music and live shows, The Congress welcomes fans to bootleg its concerts.

“A lot of our shows are free downloads at archive.org, and of course we sell our EP, but we really encourage to people to download our music for free and spread it around as much as possible,” Meadows said.

Most bands who live for the stage don’t go into the studio often, or don’t enjoy it much, but that’s not the case for The Congress. The Denver-based band just wrapped up recording its debut record, which it hopes to drop in April.

“We’re falling in love with the recording process,” he said. “It’s completely different, but the approach is kind of the same. You have to let it work you.”

The Congress likes a challenge, on stage or in the studio.

“That’s the most exciting part, pulling (music) out of left field. That’s when things become cool. That’s when we thrive in the situation, is making it difficult on ourselves, or at least challenging to ourselves to make (music),” Meadows said. “Complacency is for the birds.”

The Congress has a gig at the Oxford Music Festival on Friday and a show at the Blue Canoe in Tupelo on Saturday.

“Come out and hear something new,” he said. “Come with open ears and get down and let’s party.”

Learn more about The Congress at thecongressmusic.com.