Bright idea: Conor Oberst to play solo show at Warner

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Entertainment,Robert Fulton

There's a scene in Jonathan Franzen's epic novel "Freedom" in which two of the story's primary characters, Walter Berglund and Richard Katz, venture to the 9:30 Club to catch a young Conor Oberst and his band, Bright Eyes.

Now, a very real Oberst must face questions about this fictitious appearance from journalists familiar with both his and Franzen's work.

"I've yet to read that," Oberst said during a recent phone interview from New York. "I've had people bring it up to me a lot. I know that people really love his writing. I'm going to do it one of these days," he said.

Oberst performs solo at the Warner Theatre on Thursday. It's unlikely that Katz, Berglund or his wife, Patty, will be in attendance.

Onstage
Conor Oberst
» Where: Warner Theatre, 513 13th St. NW
» When: 8 p.m. Thursday
» Info: With Daniel Johnson; $35; 202-783-4000; warnertheatredc.com

Thursday marks the start of the next leg of Oberst's current tour. Half the show will be strictly solo, half with one other musician. Oberst said he's playing selections from his various records and multiple musical projects, as well as three or four new songs. Everything is stripped down to accommodate the solo aesthetic.

"Some songs are kind of never-before-done in this simple way live, so it's been cool to see which ones hold up in that scenario," Oberst said.

Oberst is best known as the heart of Bright Eyes, but his contribution to modern music doesn't end with that popular indie band. He is also a member of the supergroup Monsters of Folk with Jim James (My Morning Jacket), M. Ward (She & Him) and Mike Mogis (also of Bright Eyes); he fronts Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band; and he even has a punk act named Desaparecidos.

"I'm just sort of restless by nature," Oberst said of his various projects. "At different points of my life, the idea of starting a new band or playing with different people would appeal to me. Before I knew it, I had a bunch of different albums with different people. Just different projects. Every one was a chance to kind of learn something, play with different people and have a different experience."

Oberst said he finds the reason his music speaks to so many is reflected in commonalities.

"As luck wold have it, we're all pretty similar," he said. "I can write something that means something to me, and some person I've never met in another part of the world can relate to it. I guess it's kind of the miracle of art in general. It's nice that people can relate to what I write and feel that way about it."

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