If you’ve ever taken public transit in San Francisco, you’ve almost certainly seen one-man band Brian Belknap doing his “broke-down folk, junk-country blues, and gut-bucket gospel” thing. He’s taken the sound into the studio to create a full-length album, In Lieu of Flowers, and today he’s sharing a gorgeous rendering of “Bearing Witness.”

The tremendous musical ability required to pull off a one-mand band is matched by Belknap’s excellent songwriting. He’s honed it over the years living and playing in New Orleans and San Francisco. It’s the latter city that is the centerpiece of the “Bearing Witness” video as Belknap wanders the streets and hills of our beautiful and (eventually) colorful city.

Belknap’s voice carries the lilt of time and insight in it. Paired with a full band and a harmonica, there’s an aching tenderness to the song. It sounds like the deepest, most empathic, compassionate wish in my mind for humanity to see itself clearly — with all its flaws and power. “If you see me on the sidewalk with my bucket and my bell,” he sings, “Find some kindness for the blindness that believes you wish me well”

In Lieu of Flowers was produced by Mike Coykendall (M. Ward, She & Him, Bright Eyes, Blitzen Trapper) and is due out in May. The release show will be at Brick & Mortar Music Hall on Friday May 11, supporting Sallie Ford & Mike Coykendall.

Sallie Ford, Mike Coykendall, Brian Belknap
Brick & Mortar Music Hall
May 11, 2018
8pm, $15