Urban Folk

the zine on the acoustic scene

Timothy Dark
Issue 13 Fall 2007 Free for You and Me!

Urban Folk: Lucky 13: the Autumnal Issue
Summer’s over. Time to stop relaxing and get back into the groove of making music, booking shows, recording albums... and not sweating. There’s really been too much of that, lately. As the heat gets more bearable, it’s a good time to take stock, to reflect on why we’re doing all this: the performing, the watching of performances, the singing, the songwriting, the reviewing, all the crap that we all do. It’s to have sex. Don’t deny it. You might think you’re an artist so you can express yourself, come to terms with important emotional issues in your youth, or because you’re so angry at the military-industrial complex that you honestly believe a three-minute pop ditty will take it down. But really, what’s it all about? Well, I said it a line or two above. It’s to get chicks - whatever ‘chick’ might mean to you. Don’t deny it. And if you deny it, I don’t want to hear it. Anyway, it’s a shame that with the heat no longer burning holes in our heads, everyone will start to wear more layers. But then again, the way I’m built, maybe it’s a godsend... and speaking of godsends, John Houx copy-edited this issue, and did a fantabulous job (and yes, he could probably tell you that fantabulous isn’t a word - that’s just how good he is!). Anyway, dude, thanks for the eediting.

Jonathan Berger, editor

IN THIS ISSUE:
COVER TIMOTHY DARK ELASTIC NO-NO BAND MY PRETTY ONE DAN ASSELIN HERB SCHER LIVE! GET
IN THE

DESIGNED

BY

MASTER HERB SCHER.

1 4 6

W HEN HE SAYS, "TIMOTHY," YOU SAY "DARK!" ANTIFOLK'S RAPPER TALKS DAN COSTELLO. JON GLOVIN ASKS QUESTIONS OF JUSTIN REMER. ANSWERS LIE WITHIN.

FREDO FLINTSTONÉ ON DEBORAH T. 10 EMILY MOMENT DOUBLETEAMS DAN AND BUDDHA. 12 HE TAKES THE PICTURES THAT MAKES THE WHOLE SCENE SING. BRIAN SPEAKER WRITES ABOUT IT. 16 RELIVE THE SPECIAL SHOWS YOU MISSED. THIS TIME:: LC F EST AND HUGGABROOMSTOCK. 18 BROOK PRIDEMORE WENT J.J. HAYES WANTS YOU TO
REVIEWS OF SOMEWHERE.

MINIVAN

W ANNA KNOW

MORE?

READ ON… 22 R. KELLY. 24 W ILLIE. 28

OMFUG COSTELLO'S W EB RECORD REVIEWS

RETHINK RECORDED MUSIC, LIVE MUSIC, AND

DAN COSTELLO LISTENS TO MUSIC AND LIVES TO TELL THE TALE. 27 CHARLES, CHEESE, THE LEADER, RICHARD, SCOTTS
AND

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Urban Folk Autumn 2007 ~ page 2

1119 Longwood Avenue Bronx, NY 10474

Timothy Dark
...from the darkness...
by Dan Costello
“I didn’t know what Dylan they were talking about,” Timothy Dark says to me. All the kids he met at the AntiHoot were white guitar players, and they keep talking about this Dylan guy… ”This Dylan?” he remembers thinking. He points to Dylan Nirvana, a Sidewalk veteran who is heading out after we talked a long time about how Timothy Dark was on the early tip of rap/rock mashups. I mean, there was Run-DMC and De La Soul, and I guess, well, Jay-Z was creepin’… Well, OK, a lot of people were starting to play more rap/rock fusion songs in 2001. But Tim Dark was doing it at the Sidewalk. With hot chick guitar players, live singers, and by all reports, great intensity. Tim’s new CD Darkroom is a successful mash-up that displays his growing ability to combine streetwise attitude with spiritual insight. We sit in the basement during an AntiHoot and chat. I take some notes. Timothy Dark came to Sidewalk Cafe in 2001 and had no idea Bob Dylan was “THAT famous....” Born in the Bronx, he was the only black kid on a Puerto Rican block. That may have made his transition to the East Village a bit easier, when he walked into the Sidewalk Cafe and started spilling rhymes as part a duo called Fallen Angelz. He immediately noticed the common elements between him and guys like Cockroach or Paleface, people who are not afraid to speak their mind, expressing their personal feelings with unique delivery. People talking about what was happening to them, and the people around them. But rap? At Sidewalk? C’mon, this is a novelty. I mean, the Pyramid Club is across the street! I never see any crossover, Tim. Why would you come over here, instead of over there? Wouldn’t it be easier to tread the boards at a rap club instead of a songwriter club? Tim says the difference is not so clear. “I came to Sidewalk, and I didn’t see such a division. I mean, Don McCloskey, he’s rapping. Beau Johnson even, I used to say that to him, “You’re rapping right there” and he’d say ‘Nah.’” Tim mentions Jon Berger.

photos by Herb Scher
“Poetry and Rap are cousins, real close.” Mainstream rappers weren’t being creative musically in 2001. They were sampling Dido and Marvin Gaye. It was Slim Shady, Ja Rule and Fabolous, it was H to the I.Z.Z.O. OK, it was also “Ms. Jackson,” which received ample and due praise. But mostly the road was wellpaved with Hos and Tricks. Songs about bitches and niggas were on mainstream radio. Tim doesn’t like it, but “nigga” had entered the common rap vocabulary. And he, like new Sidewalk rapper Theory (who joined our conversation and is quite the self-promoter), wouldn’t call a woman a bitch in a song. He might use it as a description of how someone else refers to women. Tim’s a hustler but a good-hearted one. He wants you to hear the music. He’s not trying to get rich, nor running away from getting rich. By his account, he sold 1,000 copies of his first CD Dark Warrior by standing on the streets in the East Village (“Right out there,” he points toward the front of the club), from noon til 1am most days each week. He would play the C-Note, where “the rapper always got the last slot.” If he walked in with a girl though, he could get a better number. It was Sidewalk where he felt accepted and at home. “Lach, from the day I walked through the door, has been 100% supportive of me, whatever I wanted to do.” Tim would watch the guitar ingenuity of Duende, watch Barry Bliss stare down the audience confrontationally. He began turning his own feelings into political lyrics. He started opening his eyes when he performed. He started listening to Led Zeppelin and Joie Dead Blonde Girlfriend. Having been a catholic school student for 12 years, Tim always embraced his spirituality. “I wanted to go to church.” He enjoyed the singing, the praising. Eventually his church became too cult-like, and he needed to find a more balanced spirituality. His music has both overt and subtle religious elements. He wrote a song called “Jesus
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Lives,” about his personal relationship with God. When Kanye West released “Jesus Walks” a few years later, Tim got lots of phone calls from his relatives, his friends, who noticed the similarity. “Kanye’s talking like he’s the first person to rap about God.” Tim doesn’t think of himself as a Christian Rapper. His new album really embraces the street-wise attitude of Fallen Angelz, but doesn’t get so focused on religion it becomes exclusive. It’s one man, one point of view, not boxed into a sub-genre, but rather, pulling from Rock, Rap, Poetry, and even dance music. The girls sing the hooks, like classic hip-hop. The guitars are overdriven. There is some soft reflection. There is some loud rap. Tim thinks Hip Hop needs a U-turn. Russell Simmons is on the right track, asking his artists to self-censor the words “bitch” and “nigga.” But these words are so embedded in the mainstream rap music, Tim thinks it may be hard to eliminate them. The music industry is hard for everyone, he says, but at no point has it occurred to him to throw in the towel. “The time I give up could be the time that someone in the crowd comes up and says, ‘I came from New Jersey to see you. Give me ten CDs.’” Tim had a CD release party for Darkroom at Sidewalk a few months ago. The room was packed. Tim had a great band with Anne Husick, Jen Elliot, Lisa Bianco, Dan Policar, and Dawn McGrath. He had some guest MCs. Tim wanted the lights low, he always does. That’s the dark thing, he says. “You can’t have light without darkness. Plus one of my favorite bible passages says ‘I will give you riches hidden in darkness...”(Isaiah 45:3)

At the show, the crowd was a joyous mix of people: black, Puerto Rican, white, young, old, all different sorts. The Sidewalk regulars looked around curiously, not recognizing many familiar faces. They didn’t know what to do with this array of fans. What a shirtless black rapper with a mostly white female rock band was doing onstage at a folk venue? Well, that seemed perfectly clear to everyone. www.timothydark.tv

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Elastic No-No Band
Straight outta Toledo
by Jon Glovin photos by Herb Scher
What separates Ohio from most of the worthless states of this union is the large amount of good music that has come out of there over the years. If you’re a music geek worth the title, you damn well know of Bone Thugs N Harmony, Guided By Voices, Swearing at Motorists, Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, Times New Viking, Albert Ayler, but you know what? There’s a new Ohiovian on the block. Straight out of Toledo comes the Elastic No-No Band, a four-piece musical aggregation of front-man Justin Remer’s varied influences, idiosyncrasies, and sense of humor. It started in 2004 as a way for Remer to get his tuition’s worth from NYU University. Utilizing the Film Department’s studio equipment, Remer made four lo-fi albums. Eventually, he added Preston Spurlock, Herb Scher and Doug Johnson to round out the sound and make the EN Band a reality. With half an album already under his belt with this lineup, the Elastic No-No Band is ready for more. Jon Glovin: What is the name of your new project? Justin Remer: The new project is an album called My 3 Addictions. And we’re going to stream it from a blog on the internet, starting in September, and we’ll have a CD release party September 24, which is my birthday. JG: And your album, My 3 Addictions, has three separate parts pertaining to your 3 addictions? JR: Yeah, they are laid out in the title song. JG: In the first two addictions, predominantly, you dealt with your addictions in a rather joking way. Some of your jokes worked, some didn’t. Some worked a few times and then got tiring... JR : (laughs) Don’t you know you’re supposed to lick my ass when you’re interviewing me? You’re supposed to be like, “Your entire album was fucking brilliant.” JG: Whatever, I don’t care. JR: What didn’t work for you, what got tiring? JG: I don’t know, I just found myself gravitating to the last three songs on the album, which deal with your addiction to women who won’t date you, which I thought was the meatiest part of your album, the most sincere. JR: Yeah, it is. JG: And... yeah... I don’t remember where I was going with this. JR: Okay. Well, I guess we could mention what the three addictions are. The first one is food, the second is movies, and the third one is women who won’t date me. And my approach was that I didn’t want to do an album full of “I” songs — like about me, like “I love you,” “I think things are blah blah blah.” So the food songs are all sort of about how food can be used, as opposed to just eating it. Like “Coffee Den” is about a social situation where people go drink coffee, but really it’s to try and meet people. I guess the movie ones are all “I” songs, but they’re not me, they’re all from the point of view of people in movies, or characters in movies. JG: Yeah, the movie section is very strange. JR:(laughing) Well, good. I’m glad you thought it was strange. And then the third section is “I” songs and the I is me and I’m talking about real shit. JG: Sammy Shuster sings on two of those songs. JR: She’s a singer-songwriter I met in a roundabout way through Preston (Spurlock), who plays bass with us and plays in tons of other bands. He had seen Sammy at the open mic at Sidewalk and had told her that he would go to her show, and I happened to be with him. I thought she was great. I already had this song that I wrote as a duet, and it’s actually the last song on the CD, “Nobody’s Wife.” So when I saw her, I had this click in the back of my head: “Maybe I should befriend this woman and see if she’ll sing my song.” And I never thought it would go on this CD, because I conceived My 3 Addictions as a ten-song cycle without it. But then we played the song live, and people were like, “That song’s so great, you gotta record it,” so we slapped it on the end of the new CD. JG: Yeah... so... in Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours JR: (laughing) Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours? JG: Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. I read in a Chuck Klosterman book JR: Chuck Klosterman? Wow. JG: Do you know who he is? JR: Of course; the leading cultural critic of our time. JG: Yes. So in a Chuck Klosterman book, Mr. Klosterman was talking about this album Rumours, and he was saying that Lindsay Buckingham - or whatever the hell that guy’s name is - he was in a relationship with one of the people, Nicky...

Urban Folk Autumn 2007 ~ page 6

JR: Stevie Nicks. JG: Yes, so... (opens iTunes on computer and puts on “Never Going Back Again”) So... apparently, the whole album is about their relationship, and Lindsay Buckingham has songs about how Stevie Nicks is a bitch, with Stevie Nicks singing backup on them. JR: Well, that’s like that song by Carly Simon, “You’re So Vain.” Supposedly the person she could be talking about is Mick Jagger, and Mick Jagger is singing backup. So he might be singing “you’re so vain” to himself. JG: I care not about Mick Jagger. So... so... JR: (laughing) This is so stilted, but... okay... JG: So with Sammy Shuster, you have her singing on the song “I’m in Lust With You.” How well do you know this girl? JR: Oh, you’re saying, is she the Stevie Nicks to my Lindsay Buckingham? (JG laughs) You just want gossip! No, she’s not my Stevie Nicks. That song is about a different woman. Although, frankly I’m the kind of guy who gets a crush on every female he meets, so in a way, yes, that song could be about Sammy Shuster, but it could also be about... your mother. JG: You’ve never met my mother. JR: I’ve never met your mother, but when I do... (laughs) Good question, though, very interesting. I see your backhanded tactics. JG: Is Sammy Shuster goodlooking? JR: Yes, of course, she’s good-looking. I do want to say real quick, though, that that song “Nobody’s Wife” was not actually written about a specific woman. There’s a scene in the movie Elf

where the woman, Zooey Deschanel, is in the shower. And then Will Ferrell starts singing along too, and I was just like, “I should write something like that.” And so I did. So that song exists because of Elf. That’s all I wanted to say.

JG: On the song where you want to marry Laura Cantrell... and I didn’t know who Laura Cantrell is because... I’m... young. (laughter) I didn’t know who she

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was, so I looked her up on Wikipedia... and why are we listening to Big Black now? This is a travesty! JR: That’s what iTunes does, it goes to the next song. (JG messes with computer) JG: So, in the Laura Cantrell song, where you talk about Liz Phair and Juliana Hatfield, you have harmonica breaks between each name. JR: Yeah. JG: Good job. JR: Yeah, that was Frank Hoier. I like to bring people up for the live show, just to make it special-er. And a couple of times, I had Frank and Debe Dalton come up and play harmonica and banjo on the Laura Cantrell song. And when I listened back to a live recording, I really liked the way it sounded, so I made sure they were on the new studio recording. JG: For some reason, I thought it was Preston playing the harmonica. JR: No, Preston plays melodica on the song “The Guy Who Dies.” And “melodica” sounds like “harmonica.” JG: No, it doesn’t. Does it? (JG puts on “The Guy Who Dies”) JR: Preston wanted to add melodica because he felt the song needed a klezmer feel. You know klezmer? JG: I do. JR: And I’m sure the readers of Urban Folk know what klezmer is. JG: Who reads Urban Folk? Does anybody read Urban Folk? JR: Does anybody? JG: I read it. JR: I’ll probably read this issue. JG: I don’t read most of the articles because they’re boring or they’re about people I don’t care about. JR: I guess that’s a lesson not to make this article boring. “On the Porch with Jon Glovin and Justin from Elastic No-No Band”: twelve pages of just “um”s and “er”s and “let me find that song.” (laughter) JG: So you have a blog. JR: Yeah, my best friend has been really into music blogs, and he suggested that instead

of issuing the album as a CD, I could just create a blog from which people could download the album. I unfortunately have wasted too much money recording the album, so I feel like I should make it a real CD and sell it. But we will stream the album from the blog, adding a new song every other day starting September 3, along with stories and free bonus tracks to download. So, it’s sort of a compromise: people can hear the album online, but if they want to have it forever, then they can buy it. JG: Yeah. JR: You’re just glassing over. I’m going on these pluga-ramas, and then you glass over and think, “What am I gonna ask next?” (laughter) I might as well give you a press release and tell you to put it into question and answer form. I’m a walking press release. (laughter; JG changes the song) Ooh, what are we listening to now? JG: The Gibson Brothers. (pseudo-Barbara Walters accent) They were pretty much a garage rock band. JR: Why are talking in a funny...? No one’s gonna hear the tape. (JG starts laughing) No one’s gonna know you’re talking in a pseudo-Barbara Walters accent. I guess you can put in the parens “pseudo-Barbara Walters accent.” JG: Or we could just put this exchange in the interview. JR: We’re getting very meta. Is there a garage-rock connection to anything, or do you just like the tune? JG: I just like the song. You know, I was pretty surprised by the stylistic diversity on the album. Every single song is pretty much different. Was that intended? JR: I like throwing a bunch of styles together, but a lot of it came from collaboration with the rest of Elastic No-No Band. Like “Sundaes on a Sunday Afternoon” used to have a straightahead indie rock sound like “thud thud thud thud thud” when I wrote it. But when I started practicing with (piano player) Herb (Scher) and Preston, and then even more when Doug (Johnson) came on as our drummer, it just took on this classic pop/50s rock feel. The style really developed from them. I like to add

Urban Folk Autumn 2007 ~ page 8

wacky studio touches, like the doowop backup singing that’s on the recording, and Preston’s roommate at the time came and played sort of punk rockabilly electric guitar in the style of the band X, like on their song “Adult Books.” You know X? JG: I do know X, but I’m not sure that I approve of Los Angeles. JR: The album? I think “Adult Books” is on Wild Gift. JG: No, I mean Los Angeles. JR: (laughs) Oh, the city. X is pretty Los Angeles, that’s for sure. JG: So you first started with the Elastic No-No Band name, contributing music for Troma? JR: Yeah, I went to NYU for school. I got a Film and TV degree. JG: And have you seen an Ingmar Bergman film? JR: I have indeed. I’m a very classy guy. Anyhow, I discovered this room for recording voiceover. This was before they had a shitload of ProTools rooms to do it, and it was just one room with a mic, a mixer, and a CD burner. That’s what I used for my first CD-R album, under the name Elastic No-No Band. I was interning at Troma, the company that brought us the Toxic Avenger movies. I worked for them later, but when I interned there, I created this song for their movie Tales From the Crapper, which is easily the worst thing on my resume. That song is on the first CD-R album, and that album can be downloaded for free from our website. The song is called the “Sexy Chicken Song.” It’s kind of like if the Trashmen song “Surfin’ Bird” was about a retarded dry-heaving chicken, instead of a surfin’ bird. Herb and I have a different song that’s on the soundtrack for the new Troma movie, Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead. JG: How did you get an internship at Troma? JR: One weekend I watched Troma’s Bloodsucking Freaks and Surf Nazis Must Die at a friend’s house, and I decided these folks seem like fun to work with. And it was, in a way. I’m glad I interned there, and I’m glad I got a job there later, but I’m also glad I don’t work there anymore. JG: Do any filmmakers influence your songwriting? JR: What a strange question. I mean, I guess so, since one-third of this album is songs about movies. The Klaus Kinski song is actually a result of working at Troma, because one day, instead of working, a bunch of us sat around and watched this documentary about Kinski called My Best Fiend that was done by Werner Herzog. And, as sort of a joke amongst the Troma people, I decided to make a song about Kinski, based on stuff

from the movie. That song became a lot more popular than I expected, with people at Sidewalk requesting it and stuff. JG: Do other film geeks get the song? JR: Of course. In fact, the first time I played it at the AntiHoot at Sidewalk, when I got off the stage, a guy came up to me and said, “Dude, you gotta add a verse about Fassbinder.” I never have, but... JG: Who’s Fassbinder? JR: He’s another German film director. But yeah, film geeks get it, and non-film geeks like it just because of the part in the song where I break down and start yelling randomly at someone in the audience or at the band. JG: What else is there to ask? How did you come up with the name Elastic No-No Band? JR: It’s a pun on the name “Plastic Ono Band,” John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s band. And I probably came up with it when I was about 14, and it was just like, “If I ever have a band, I’ll call it this.” And obviously, I’m so in touch my inner 14-year-old that I used the name. (JG nods and rubs his chin) What are you doing? There’s no camera crew! No one can see you nodding. (laughter) My 3 Addictions blog: Band website: my3addictions.blogspot.com elasticnonoband.com

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My Pretty One
Fredo Flintstoné
Ah, yes… summertime! Forget spring, when a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. Give me the good old summertime, a time when that old battleaxe – er… my beloved Wilma – goes West to the Jersey Shore to visit her sister. Summertime, a time when I am a free man! Everyone say, “Glory hallelujah!” My beloved Wilma and I were strolling down 6th Avenue in the Chelsea Flower District. I, looking for something slightly erotic for Wilma to bring to her most gracious sister as a gift for taking her off my hands, when my Wilma stops, eyes bulging over the ideal hostess gift. “Oh my, Fredo,” she exclaims, as if she’s just spotted Elvis himself, “look how beautiful this plant is!” And with that, my Wilma runs over to this expensive-looking flora, holds a dainty hand to her throat, and speaks to the buds as she whispers, “Oh, my pretty one!” With that, my mind wandered to another time. A time when I heard a much lovelier lass use the same phrase, making me always think of her in that same nomenclature. The memory came flooding back, making me ache to see and hear her sweet voice once again. As soon as we arrived home and my beloved had turned in for the evening, I turned to my laptop and surfed over to see if My Pretty One had a show coming up. As luck would have it, I would have the chance to see – and most fortunate for me, hear – My Pretty One’s sweet voice again, without the cumbersome company of my beloved Wilma. Alas, the show was to be in Brooklyn of all places, Bushwick to be exact, right near Wilma’s best pal’s pad. Still, it was a chance I would risk to hear My Pretty One’s sweet voice. As soon as the five o’clock bell rang I hopped the subway after work and made my way eastward to the borough of Brooklyn. The J train was the nightmare it always is, but the directions were good and it was a short walk to Goodbye Blue Monday. It’s a rather odd establishment. Half music venue, half antique shop, half bar with a backyard for summer BBQs and music under thecorrugated tin roof. Wilma would have loved beating me over the head as I checked out the vintage porno movie posters that littered the walls. A nice touch, if you ask me. The place was pretty packed. Why wouldn’t it be? My Pretty One was going to take the stage and wow the audience as she always does. So sweet, so coy, winsome even, but with an underlying current that sets the room afire the way only Miss Deborah T only can. Let me tell you, that little lady belts out a tune like no one’s business! She comes off as so tiny and timid behind that big ole guitar of hers, but don’t be fooled! There’s a force behind her. This is not a woman to be trifled with. This is a woman who knows exactly what she wants and how to get it! Ain’t nothing going to stop her, no way, no how. She commands that stage and the audience before her. It is such a pleasure to see her perform… and to see her demurely bat those baby blues, flashing a coquettish smiles at the crowd. I wish I had the words to adequately describe her performance, but alas, words fail. Trust me: Deborah T has to be seen to be appreciated for the artist (and woman) she is. Now if only I could have gotten my beloved Wilma to visit her sister for the month of August so I could follow My Pretty One on her West Coast tour. What I wouldn’t have given to be her groupie… After one of her best performances of what I like to think of as her best number, “My Pretty One,” I took myself outside to have a smoke and ponder what I had just heard and who had sung it to me. Of course, coming down the street fresh from the J train was my Wilma’s best pal, Betty. I had to concoct some story as to why I was in Bushwick while my beloved Wilma was out of town. Thinking fast, I told Betty that since the wife was out of town, I’d gone out with some of the boys from the quarry for a beer. They had just headed off to some other establishment for more beers and I, silly old coot that I am, was having a final smoke before hopping the train back home. Betty bought the bills of goods, but then Lady Luck left me. Before Betty bid me ‘bye, she stuck her head into Goodbye Blue Monday, saw my pretty one on the stage and said to me, “My, oh my. Doesn’t that young girl look a lot like your Pebbles?” I did a double take and, sure enough, there was a rather striking resemblance. How had I never noticed this before? I had found myself alone on the streets of Brooklyn without a fantasy to warm these old bones of mine in the middle of the summer. Very sad for a man of my advancing years, finding himself a free agent so rarely. I’d been free enough to fantasize, and now Betty had burst my Deborah T bubble. My dream of Deborah T had been shattered. All the way home on the subways all I could think was, “Where’s Randi Russo when you need her?” myspace.com/deboraht

Urban Folk Autumn 2007 ~ page 10

Dan Asselin
Samajivina Sutta: Living in Tune
by Emily Moment photos by Herb Scher
Dan was already waiting for me on a bench outside Red Bamboo when I finally found my way through the brownstoned streets of Fort Greene. His skin was so bronze he looked like a glistening little roman – in a dirty old tee-shirt sun-loved from months spent in a lifeguard chair. We snatched up an outside table for two and had dinner as the sun went down. Dan Asselin, a 21 year old self-proclaimed surf-bum Buddhist, with a knack for mighty guitar riffing, has been on the AntiFolk scene for about a year and a half as a performer and part-time sound man. Last year, after a host of complications with his education and a newfound home in the local music community, Dan was at a crossroads. He decided to take a break from the city to spend the summer where he was raised in East Hampton, and figure out what he wanted to do with his life. Very shortly he will be back for good from the beach, refreshed and ready to return to the New York City music scene. He is also returning to finish his undergraduate degree in his new major, Creative Writing… this will be his third and hopefully final attempt. Dan Asselin: I’ve decided that my number one priority in life is to graduate college. It’s so crucial right now. I started out at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington. It’s a really good school but I just wasn’t ready to be there. Emily Moment: For Music? DA: No. I wanted to be a director. I wanted to make movies. And I have a feeling that is somehow going to come back into my life. That was one semester. I had a really bad bout of depression and I ended up leaving school and coming home. I was horribly lonely. EM: So you went back to Long Island. DA: Yeah just laying low, working in a surf shop. And I was just home. My friends were at school and my brother wasn’t home and my sister wasn’t home and that was when I found the mic on my Mac for Garageband. And I just locked myself in my room for weeks recording. That was it for me. EM: Did that music come out of your depression? DA: I didn’t really think of it as being causal. But it was coming from really deep sad places. Good music came from it, but I don’t want all my music to come from that. I think that the very best music comes from a place of strength and joy and positivity. Music needs to entertain them and bring them to a different place. And you don’t wanna keep bringing them back to the same place. There are some people who can get away with it just because they’re so incredibly charming like Fiona Apple. She’s just shamelessly egocentric and confessional. EM: She’s one of your biggest influences, right? DA: She’s my favorite songwriter, yes. EM: What is it that she does that you would like to do? DA: There’s this balance in her music. They say in creative writing you should show someone – not tell them. She writes about relationships. And the perspective she writes from... she says, I’m gonna show you what it felt like, and I’m also gonna tell you what it was like... and it’s very intimate. EM: When did you start music lessons? DA: I took guitar lessons when I was 10 or 12. But I never really sat down and learned how to read music. EM: You have a major ear. DA: That’s why I never had to pursue reading music. I could always just turn on a song and know how to play it by listening. EM: So did you get more out of the work you did on your own then you did from the lessons? DA: There are a couple of things like barre chords that I never would’ve learned if it weren’t for lessons. But you know mostly kids want to learn Hendrix ego riffs. I moved away from that early on. The thing I’m doing now – the sort of Bluegrassy stuff, nobody taught me how to do that. When I was young I used to sit around and write these weird guitar parts, technical weird stuff. I was in the best high school band when I was 15 years old. We played pretty big shows and we were considered a special sound. And that’s kind of how I picked up all that weird technical stuff. Those guys were really into jazz-fusion. They were like the Dillinger Escape Plan, which is this weird, heavy metal, fast, clown murdering music – it’s really awful to listen to. EM: Clown murdering music?
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DA: Kind of. EM: Did you just make that up? DA: Clown murdering. Like a clown murdering someone. EM: Yeah, but – DA: I mean that was just always the image I got. Anyway it’s just a big ego trip: no singing, just screaming. EM: When did you get your first guitar? DA: Probably 9. It was this crappy nylon string that had been strung lefty for me. The guy wanted to have me playing righty first and I was just miserable. EM: Have you ever tried again since? DA: I just can’t do it. I mean, it enables you to have a little bit more freedom... you know you could show up at the ‘Hoot without a guitar. EM: When did you start adding the harmonica? DA: When I was in one of my early Dylan phases and I was really into Frank [Hoier] at the time and his music was so good – EM: So you picked it up in the past year. DA: Oh, I still wouldn’t really say I can play. I’m about as good on the harmonica as someone who can play three chords on the guitar. But by this time next year I will be not one, not two, but three times better on the harmonica than I am right now. EM: How were you introduced to the AntiFolk scene? DA: That was a seriously important night for me. I was absolutely terrified but at the same time totally committed to the idea of staying open to it. It was my first time (at the Sidewalk Café) and Lach got on stage and introduced the evening as Cover Night. I went downstairs and I didn't know anyone but I found Brook [Pridemore] and was like, "Can I learn your song?" The song was actually really hard - filled with so many words: "John Darniell." He played it for me in a packed bathroom of tons of people playing. It was the most crowded I've ever seen it. In the downstairs there were so many guitars going at once it was like having a migraine. I got to a certain point where I couldn't take it anymore and I left. I ended up going back and stayed the rest of the night. And I played at about one in the morning but everybody stayed because people wanted to hear this random kid play Brook's song. EM: Did you meet anyone that stuck with you that night? DA: Well that’s the thing, after I played everyone came up and introduced themselves to me because I played Brook’s song. EM: You picked a great person to cover.

DA: Yeah, I was lucky. I was lucky in that way, I was lucky I learned the song, I was lucky I stayed, I was lucky that Lach asked me to play another song... I mean I was in the “one song wonder round.” EM: And so he booked you that night. DA: Yeah he did. But the most powerful thing about that night is that it just pins you to the ground with your ego, more so than any other open mic. It’s just you and what you think about yourself, and that is such an important thing to have to face as an artist. Lach, well I’ve never seen anyone so effortlessly kill people’s egos and it’s beautiful. It’s a beautiful thing. EM: Do you feel that he’s ever done that to you? DA: Oh yeah... he still does it to me. But I love it! He’s such a cool human being. Because if you’re just reacting to everyday life the way you react to him, you’re simply not going to make the connection with him. EM: How would you say the community at the Sidewalk has changed your music? DA: I was writing songs for that audience, for people

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that were extremely intelligent and artistically truthful. I wrote those songs to stick out at a New York City open mic. EM: Who has been your greatest inspiration down there? DA: Wakey! Wakey! Hands down, he’s just the smoothest motherfucker in the world. Those are the best songs on the whole scene, some of the best songs I’ve ever heard. He has this extremely defined image but it’s just so casual. He flirts with a whole room of people when he gigs. But his voice? It’s fucking amazing. Yeah, I want to do exactly what he does in every way, shape and form, he is my musical idol. EM: More than Fiona? DA: Yeah, but he’s the superstar that I know... I know him. Although Joie Blaney (of Dead Blonde Girlfriend) was my mentor. He coached me through my first three or four months as a gigging solo artist, introduced me to everybody on the scene, and really helped me develop. Whenever I’d come in to the ‘Hoot all depressed and lurking around he’d know just what to say to cheer me up. Even if it was just sitting next to me on the steps and saying nothing. He’s amazing, consistently a source of faith and inspiration. EM: Why did you make the choice to spend the summer in Long Island? DA: I needed to touch base... and it worked. EM: With what? DA: What I want out of life. What my priorities, my intentions were. I have a ton of different personalities but they're all coming together now... which is good. EM: So have you been writing a lot this summer? DA: No. But I have been playing a lot. And what I have written has been what I consider my best work ever. But I always consider whatever I’m working on to be my best stuff ever. EM: Do you have a writing process? DA: The best stuff comes words first. There's a million ways to put words over a melody, but if you have a melody and you're trying to find words to fit it... how are you ever going to be true to how you actually felt? So I write first at least 2 verses.

EM: Do you make projects for yourself? Layering your music by choosing to add certain techniques? DA: The little coloring everywhere... the little licks? That’s just candy to keep it interesting. Because I get bored watching most singer/songwriters do their thing. EM: What do you consider to be your largest weakness? DA: Song structure. Avoiding formula. That’s why it takes me so long to write a song. EM: What’s your strength? DA: I write good guitar parts... interesting guitar parts. But I consider it an off-handed insult when someone says I’m a really good guitar player. EM: You’re going to be getting that the rest of your life. DA: I know. A compliment to me is, “that was a great song,” but when someone says “you’re a great guitar player,” I’m like, “Fuck!” EM: But you set out to incorporate guitar parts... the candy? I mean you do want people to notice. DA: Yeah. EM: But you don’t want to be called out for it? DA: Yeah, I know... EM: Are you concerned with your image? DA: Lack of image. I think it is important as an artist today to have a defined image. I think it’ll happen just by being comfortable. The older I get, the more true I am to my intuition. Picking out the clothes I want to wear is getting easier. I’m not worried about “could I get away with that?” EM: Are you interested in having a band? DA: I am going to play alone until I feel overwhelmingly like a band is coming together. It would be more of a hindrance than anything right now. So much is just changing so quickly I don’t even want to record right now. I’d also like a following. It’s a long way off. Years. EM: If you had to market yourself, what would your demographic following be? DA: As embarrassing as this is... junior and senior high school girls... oh and songwriters and guitarists. Like I said, all of the songs I wrote, I wrote for songwriters. Which is cut-throat... it’s like survival songwriting.

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EM: If you couldn’t do music? DA: Buddhist Monk. EM: No, what would you really be doing. DA: Buddhist Monk. EM: You would be a Buddhist Monk DA: I would live in a Monastery. EM: What was your religion growing up? DA: Catholic and Jewish. EM: When did you discover Buddhism? DA: Last year. I decided what perception I had about God in my head was causing a lot of strife and turmoil. My friend’s mom was a Buddhist Monk and she’d been encouraging me to try it and go to the Zendo. Ever since I’ve been home I’ve been reading a lot of Buddhist text and meditating. EM: And you would devote your life to that? DA: Definitely... I still might. Well, Buddhism says that “the greatest magic is transmuting the passions” (or, Atisha does). That is as good a reason as any to pursue music and Dan’s passion certainly runs deep. His performances are intensely rooted in the pit of his gut. You can feel him feel his music. It jerks and folds his small frame over his beau-

tiful brown guitar as he squeezes his eyes shut and bellows. On stage, his conversation is often nervous and peripatetic. In person, he can be very guarded, though friendly. Like a well-oiled mechanical switch, he censors his thoughts which often move faster than he can articulate. There is so much passing through his mind at once that though genuine, his attention is fleeting; but he is bright and beaming with healthy youthful energy. Dan referred to himself as very insecure when he was younger and while that is still how he comes across he is certainly aware of his talent. He is also aware of his own contradictions. Much to his credit, Dan is becoming far more than just a great guitarist. The night of the interview, I was able to go upstairs into the cozy performance cove of Red Bamboo to watch Dan play. Luckily, a mutual friend (rather illegally) recorded one of his new songs and sent it to me and I haven’t been able to stop listening. I would like to put his mind to rest and let him know that the first thing I thought when he finished playing it was not “he’s a great guitarist” but “that was a great song!” I look forward to seeing what this approaching year brings for Dan, and be it enlightenment or perhaps just a load of free-write essays, one thing’s for certain: we are in store for some sweet candy. myspace.com/danasselin

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Share and Scher alike...
by Brian Speaker photos by Herb Scher
Sidewalk Bar. I’m in the red lit front window sippin’ on a Stella and Herb Scher starts off the interview by running to the bathroom. He's probably pretty excited that his photo show has been met with such positive response. Herb first got his hands on a sweet Motorola 35mm when he was 13. He picked it up like an instrument and soon began his love affair with taking pictures. Practice, snap, practice… he honed his skills through college and grad school. Herb is a pretty smart guy to coincide his first-ever photography exhibit with the opening of the Summer AntiFolk Festival at the Sidewalk Café. What better way to celebrate than with the images and characters associated with such an event? The thought and preparation it must have taken to put together such a collection gives one pause. But according to Herb it all came about by chance. Brian Speaker: What was the inspiration for this grouping of photographs? Herb Scher: As I thought about getting seriously back into photography, I knew that one of the things I wanted to concentrate on was portraits. Walking around New York I’m always wondering what’s going on in the thoughts of the people I see. I’m not sure if photography can really reveal what’s on people’s minds, but I hope the pictures can say something about the individuals and about people in general. I approached Jon Berger – who was editing Urban Folk with Dave Cuomo at the time – and started shooting for them gradually. Urban Folk gave me a good reason to ask people to pose for photographs and a place to have the work published. Over time I’ve been able to learn a lot through the process of shooting many different performers for the magazine. It’s also nice to be able to document the Sidewalk community and to have a chance to get to know better a wide range of people from the scene. I’m sort of amazed that Urban Folk is even published – that a scene like this can support its own zine – and I’m really glad that Jon is able to keep it going. BS: You really brought out the character of the performers. What relationship do you have with the artists in the pictures? HS: One very nice benefit of taking these pictures is getting to know the people I photograph. When I look at the photographs that are on display I remember all the little things that happened on the day we took the pictures. One of the things I’ve learned during the course of all this is that the best photos come from a collaboration between me and the person I’m shooting. For example, in the photo of Vin throwing a kiss,I generally suggested that he try some different expressions, but he came up with a whole bunch of ideas including the thrown kiss. He’s reminded me that I asked him to repeat it after he did it once quickly before I was ready to snap the pose. When Ben Godwin and I got together, we decided to go to the Museum of Natural History because his songs have references to dinosaurs and “Skin and Bones.” We were worried though that once they saw us shooting they might kick us out. We started photographing away in the lobby where they have a few large dinosaur skeletons. Eventually a guard did come over to us and we were all prepared with our excuses when she said “you know, you might want to think about shooting him from below looking up. I’ve seen a lot of people do that and it’s very effective.” BS: What feedback have you had personally? HS: The feedback has been great. I’ve had a wide range of nice comments. It is very rewarding in cases where the work seems to have some particular resonance to someone. BS: When and what got you started in photography? HS: I started taking pictures when I was fairly young. Maybe around 10 or 11. I took a few photography classes and learned how to process film and make black and white prints. My brother and I had a darkroom at home for a little while. I also took a photo class while in graduate school from a guy named Tom Roma, and I’m still absorbing things I learned from him. However, after losing two good cameras – one in college and one when I first moved to New York – I decided to wait to buy another one until I felt I was responsible enough not to lose it. That took about 20 years. About 18 months ago I finally bought a good digital camera that I have managed not to lose so far.

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BS: Art and music are a common bond among the performers at the Sidewalk. It must feel good to get to share another side of yourself with your peers. HS: Yes. The exhibition has helped me more comfortably identify myself as a photographer. Although my parents exposed me to the arts broadly, there wasn’t anyone in my family who really was an artist. It’s taken me a while to accept that definition of myself. And there you have it. A peek inside the lens of Herb Scher’s eyes. I think Herb has achieved a magnificent representation of the artists he’s captured on film. In

each picture, the style, tonality, background and lighting lends itself to each artist being portrayed. From the “Teen Beat” appeal of Soft Black (Vin) blowing kisses, to the to the dark, upfront melancholy of Daniel Bernstein’s stare. From the throwback, folkster image of Frank Hoier, to the yin and yang layout of the lounging Fools. I would say it’s a success and so would many others. In fact, while interviewing Herb, several admirers stop by to give him compliments. The reserved Herb takes it in with a thank you and a smile before geting back to the business at hand. home.earthlink.net/~madeinmiami

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Huggabroomstock
By Phoebe Kreutz
For those of you who live under a rock, Huggabroomstock is the brand-new and hopefully-annual music festival that was held at Maria Hernandez Park in Bushwick on August 11th. Organized by Toby Goodshank, Peter Dizozza and some other likely lads, the ‘stock boasted a full roster of some of AntiFolk’s most beloved acts. I was smart enough to get the day off from work so that I didn’t miss a goddamn thing. Like all good endeavors, my day at Huggabroomstock began with a hearty home-cooked meal of scrambled eggs and champagne. So I was already a little buzzed and mildly hung-over by the time I headed off to the park with my breakfast buddies. On the way over I spotted that dude from TV on the Radio coming out of a bodega wearing a very natty suit. I waved at him and he waved back. I took it as a good sign. The Huggabroomstik boys were busily setting up the stage. There was some concern about the best way to hang up the beautiful banner that Neil Kelly’s mom had

photos by Hugh F. Kelly
Daniel Bernstein (as we are calling him at the moment) was next and was awesome as usual. That guy is just really good at writing songs. And his jock drummer makes some of the best drumming faces around. In one of the most action packed sequences of the day, the bass drum started moving across the stage. Then the drum’s owner, Mr. Johnny Dydo, leapt up and tried it secure it mid-song. The drummer either didn’t notice that Johnny’s head was under the ride cymbal or he just couldn’t stop the rock. Either way, he just kept on banging it. We were all a little concerned that Johnny would come out in some kind of Looney-Tune-style daze but he was unscathed. (His scathing came later when that very same drum kit attacked him and cut his hand open during the Huggabroomstik set). I suspected that Schwervon! was going to kick ass, and kick ass they did. That’s what they do. And, like all good celebrity couples, they've adopted a third-world son in the form of Preston Spurlock (if you count Florida as third-world). I was concerned that he would get hurt in the crossfire once Matt and Nan started their traditional sparring. But it never happened. Maybe having a child DOES make everything better. The sun seemed to be at its peak during the Schwervon set so there wasn’t quite as much thrash dancing as one usually sees, but I know that I was dancing in my brain. There was a lot of talk all day about what the local Bushwickers were going to make of The Purple Organ. The guy cuts an imposing figure even before he plugs in his magical guitar. And then you can usually count of him to sing some material that makes even a worldly gal like me blush (I refer you to the poochiepussy number). Was this family-style park ready for the Organ? Fuck yeah. No one seemed to bat an eye. I guess Bushwick is just a little more sophisticated than other parts of

quilted for the occasion. Luckily, Nan Turner had some extra Schwervon pins that served quite MacGyver-ly. It was a hot day, and the performance space afforded no shade. Maybe our baking brains made the show better. But must the show go on? Yes. It must. First on the bill was the new band Kung Fu Crime Wave. Fronted by Luke Kelly, the band features Deenah Moffie, Joanna Kelly and some dude in goggles that Angela Carlucci and I found to be particularly entrancing. There was a lot to like about this band. Really catchy. Mostly, I was just grateful that someone finally had the courage to speak out about David Blaine.

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(th es ho ws

Liv e! yo um

iss ed )

the world. Or maybe there’s just something about hearing “I shit my pants in the garden of the Luxembourg” outside. You just feel like you’re there. And you feel just like a tiny bird. You know who likes The Babyskins? Cops. The minute those girls got on stage that cruiser showed up to check out the scene. Coincidence? Hardly. We imagined the fuzz issuing tickets for stealing hearts. I know I would have done the same, were it in my jurisdiction. This was about the time the sun started to relent a bit. The dulcet tones of Crystal and Angela wafted over on a soothing breeze and I started to fade into a contented little bundle of peace. It was so tranquil, so lovely, so gentle. It was time for Huggabroomstik to ruin it all. But who can complain about a loss of tranquility when this seemed to be the moment for which Huggabroomstik was created? The band has gone through so many phases and and members that some may have wondered where they were headed. Apparently, they were headed here: fulfilling their destiny as an eleven-piece mob in matching red-and-yellow bas-

ketball jerseys playing in the bright August sunshine. They looked like the love children of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and one of those Warriors gangs. And they sounded like a broken time-machine, shifting between tight, danceable pop and drug-induced Nordic battle hymns. Bringing up the rear on this run-away party train was the ever-delightful Peter Dizozza. Now, Peter was supposed to be the penultimate act of the afternoon. However, the guy didn’t show up until Huggabroomstik was almost over due to either A) traffic or B) his own naked desire to go last (depending on who you talk to). It’s a shame, really, because I think after the titular band of the day finished, everyone had a feeling of completion and a hunger for tacos. But Peter’s songs are always fun to hear and he’s so different from the rest of the acts. It actually ended up being a nice way to come down from the day. So were the tacos. Whew. Those were good, man.

I Survived the LC Fest
written by Jessi Robertson
This year I helped organize the 1st Annual LC Music Fest… and lived to tell the tale. Local Correspondents (or the LC) is a showcase series, a community of independent musicians, and a sprawling urban family for the struggling artists who’ve sought refuge here in New York. Larry Hyland, Tanya Buziak, Greg Tuohey and I make up the LC Team. Bar4 was recently renovated. It’s now one of the few venues in Brooklyn with a piano, and the sound is simply incredible. To celebrate, we decided to have a party at the end of June. Under the influence of the Team’s enthusiasm, the party grew into the massive event that became the 1st Annual LC Music Festival. Four nights of music. 53 acts. I still have flashbacks… Night One: I loved every minute of the first night, selfishly. Some of the highlights included Michael Wagner, a fresh arrival from New Orleans rocking the ukulele; Merrady spinning out sultry melodies accompanied by

photos by Emily Rawlings
local Renaissance man, Gene Back, on violin; Tanya Buziak singing lush harmonies with Well-Enough Folk Band; Tarrah Reynolds making everyone dance; and Rob from No Lindsay breaking out multiple keyboards and various machines to create an electronic masterpiece. Oh yeah, my band Asher, are you drawing pretty things? played a set too. Night Two: Surprisingly, Thursday was probably the craziest night of all. But then again, it’s not that surprising that things get rowdy when you put every member of Lowry up on the stage. It was a tight fit (Casey and Shawn actually had to stand facing each other), but it sounded amazing. Here Lies Pa shook up the early part of the evening with unrestrained vocal outpourings from lead singer Paul Basile. Takenobu featured brilliant cellist Nick Ogawa, who took home first place in this year’s Jezebel Singer/Songwriter Contest. I expected a lot from Kevin Johnston, and his band Adios Esposito… but one thing I didn’t anticipate was

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of community, and it was a joy to be a part of it. Night Four: After three nights of non-stop spectacular music, I was in a state of near euphoria on Saturday. Bryan Dunn had me falling off my chair with his ridiculously good cover of Prince’s “Kiss,” only to be followed by the energetic, infectious music of Andy Mac. Then there was a beautiful moment when the entire bar sang “Roll Your Windows Down” with Casey Shea and Jeff Jacobson. I couldn’t calm down after Jeff played “Castles” until Wakey! Wakey!’s whisper, “cuz we fucked it all up” sent a gleeful tingle down my spine. Matt Singer had the entire room breathless with a mix of shock and hysterical laughter when he sang about dating an American Idol contestant. Matt was followed by The Picture, a band that figures prominently on my Top 25 iPod playlist. Sometimes it makes me feel a little giddy, just to think I know them, but I sang along at the top of my lungs anyway. Paula Valstein released one blissful, seductive note and the entire bar fell in love with her. I am always amazed at the way she can travel from a breathy flutter to a throaty wail so naturally. But I’m equally enthralled by Tom Hayes’ achingly tender lyrics and fluid vocals. So I survived the LC Fest. It wouldn’t have been possible without the tireless work of Larry, Ted, and Peter, who co-own Bar4 and came out every night to lend a hand; Tanya Buziak who introduced me to so many of the performers at her open mic nights; Niko Kaporos, the sound engineer who seemed to be everywhere at once and made us all sound beautiful; and Greg Tuohey, who I think holds the record for playing with the most acts. For four days I was in the company of some of my favorite people and treated to the best local music. My only regret was that it seemed to end far too soon. It’s a little hard to recover from, but I’m already looking forward to next year. localcorrespondents.com

the brass instruments. The room got so packed I could barely move; nobody minded. In the spirit of community, there were many collaborations, including Tanya Buziak singing on a David Shane Smith song, Matt Cranstoun playing the drums for Tanya, and Greg Tuohey on guitar with Ivan Sandomire. We were also joined by AntiFolk favorites Debe Dalton and Frank Hoier. Night Three: Peter Inc started it off. I could only envy his skill as he wove through complex rhythms on the guitar. After that I was expecting Sami Akbari to sing sweetly, then stick it to the audience in between songs; she did not disappoint. I often wrack my brains for plans to secretly commandeer Joe Wilson’s national fan base. Since I can’t, I sat back and enjoyed his set of masterfully crafted songs. Sean Han of Blip Blip Bleep gave a rare solo performance. His not-so-hidden talent: whistling. The Reverend John DeLore and FRIENDS brought new meaning to “No Depression,” and I was thrilled to hear Kara Suzanne join them. We even heard a little blue-eyed soul that evening from Matt Cranstoun. Little may be the wrong word, actually, because Matt has an incredibly strong voice. Later in the evening, Bell came out to serenade us with her lovely songs, despite moving earlier that day. One of the things that really made me proud was how attentive and considerate all the performers were. Everyone represented the true spirit

Urban Folk Autumn 2007 ~ page 20

(th es ho ws

Liv e! yo um

iss ed )

Get in the Minivan
You’ve got to Know When to Fold ‘Em.
Brook Pridemore
If there is one constant to out-of-town shows, it’s that there are a multitude of things that can go wrong. Any number of catastrophes can sour a gig and send even die-hard supporters running for the wings. You could get too drunk before the show, break three strings and have to finish the set with half a guitar. A surly bar-goer could whip a half-finished bottle of beer toward the stage and clip you between the eyes. Or, you could be running on fumes to make an important gig, and your van could throw a piston and catch fire, leaving you stranded and friendless in a wide open space like, say, central Nebraska. All of these catastrophes, while usually horrifying in the moment, can be turned around and into positive experiences with time and tenacity. When MY van threw a piston in central Nebraska, for example, we ended up meeting some of the coolest and most supportive kids we know, and now Kearney, NE is one of our favorite places to stop on tour. Sometimes, though, the cards lie entirely differently, and you’ve wasted your time and effort in getting to a lame gig. This is what happened to Guitar Bomb and me this past April. We had been trying to procure an engagement at The Book & Beat Company, this cool bookstore/record shop/performance space in Oklahoma City. Our friend Shiloh Brown, the proprietor of the Book & Beat, is a big, good-natured guy who had always taken care of us in the past, even if no one showed up to the shows. However, bad news hit us this time when Shiloh told Mike that he couldn’t have shows for a while, as he was moving his store to a smaller space (while he didn’t come right out and say business had been bad, this is what we figured). He pointed us in the direction of a bar in Tahlequah, a super-small mountain town in the beautiful eastern part of the Oklahoma. Riding east, we were filled with more than our share of trepidation: this was serious hill country, way off the beaten path of seemingly every touring acts – ever. Driving through Muskogee, I wished I knew the words to that Merle Haggard song, and plenty of State-sponsored road signs declared Muskogee to be the hometown of American Idol winner Carrie Underwood. We then drove

photo by Lauren Terilli
through Tahlequah proper and down a desolated road about ten miles outside of town, until we came to our destination. Roxie’s Roost is one of those huge, old farmhousestyle buildings that, while completely non-existent in crowded-ass New York, seem to be the norm in the former teeming metropoli of the old mining country. While there were only two cars parked outside when we pulled up, we didn’t fret. It was early, after all, and maybe bars start late in Tahlequah. A sign on the door promised Open Mic Wednesdays (exciting, as this was a Wednesday night), beer specials (exciting, because we were broke) and The Best BBQ in Eastern Oklahoma (exciting, because we were hungry). Well, at least they had free beer. Upon introduction to the proprietor/bartender, he told us he’d canceled the open mic. His logic was that there was an out-of-town band coming to play a show, and they (we) probably didn’t want to be bothered with amateurish open mic performers (they and all the friends they bring to the venue). Mike asked to see a menu, and our man said they hadn’t had food for several years. They had lost their liquor license, briefly gone out of business, and only recently reopened with no kitchen. Our man dragged over his styrofoam container of take out, and offered some of his dinner as consolation. Dan and I took off in the van to find veggie food, and ended up semi-empty handed: in the hills of a vastly carnivorous Southern State, beans and cheese are the closest you get to vegetables. Roxie’s Roost was only slightly less desolate when we returned. Mike was sitting at a table, half-heartedly engaged in conversation with an older, toothy gentleman who kept insisting on buying Mike (and later me) more of the Pig’s Eye beers we were getting for free. I had thought this guy was Mike’s cousin or uncle (Mike has family all over the country, who randomly show up at gigs in strange places), but no one seemed to know him, and he got increasingly friendlier and more wasted as the night wore on. He made fun of me for drinking Pig’s Eye (a sort of PBR of the South), when he had offered to buy me whatever I wanted to drink. He kept flashing this big wad of money in my face, and I

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kind of got the feeling that he was trying to find a way to put a move on me. I spent most of Mike’s set ignoring this guy, and by the time Mike was done, I’d managed to lose the guy’s attention and find a new spot at the bar. While I was playing, two other locals showed up, a big guy and a little guy. Dan procured us a place to stay. Their house seemed like a nice alternative to the other guy’s house, which had also been offered. Mike ditched the creepy guy, who eventually passed out sitting up. In the end, we played to four people including the owner, who begrudgingly gave us forty bucks and more free beer. One guy was interested in a non-musical way, and the other two guys, Kevin and Bubba (Bubba being the little guy), were actually really cool and gave us a nice and friendly place to stay. We did bong rips and

laughed our asses off at the fact that the big health scare in the country at the moment was spinach and scallions, two of the best things for you. They explained the difference between rednecks and hillbillies. And also, Kevin and Bubba suggested we should never come back to Tahlequah. It wasn’t our place. No offense, the guys said. It’s just that we were rock guys in the hills, and we were never going to find an audience among the town’s relatively closed-minded country music fans. They said it’s like trying to play acoustic guitar at a hardcore show - something I do all the time. So it was a bust. We went out of our way and didn’t make any new fans. We got paid but nobody gave a fuck. There were laughs, and plenty of them, but like I said before, this was a night where the cards were completely out of our favor, and we didn’t even walk away with a crazy story about it. Meh.

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Every Thing Goes Book Cafe Open Mic Last Saturday of every month take a free ferry ride to Staten Island and discover great used books and records, organic and fair-trade coffee, yummy teas and snacks, quiet backyard garden. www.etgstores.com/bookcafe Creek & the Cave - every Tuesday 7:30 Paul Alexander’s storied LIC open mic - and then some. myspace.com/youropenmic

Urban Folk Autumn 2007 ~ page 23

OMFUG
(Other Metaphysics for Uplifting Gourmandizers)
by J.J. Hayes
Let me just say, in case any students of philosophy or evolutionary biology happen to read this, that I think Darwinism is a species of formalism, laboring under a hidden essentialism without which, by the way it, would just be a branch of chemistry or physics. But enough about me, we’re here to talk about the Scene, about Music. We will start with Weird Al Yankovic, and via the critics of Dylan imitators, lay bare the unknown and unconscious assumptions so blithely accepted in casual conversation and musical criticism, thereby implicating ourselves in the maintenance of violent power structures. That sounds simple enough. As any dilettante fraud will tell you, especially one purporting to be a critic, musical or otherwise, the thing most to be feared is the uncovering of your ignorance. You know, the slip at the academic cocktail party which reveals that you never finished Ulysses (OK, never got past the first two pages). Now C.S. Lewis, in a wonderful little book entitled An Experiment in Criticism, tried to set forth an objective standard for determining whether a work constituted “literature.” His tentative conclusion was that if there was at least one person who read and re-read the particular work, i.e. went back to the writing more than once, then that piece could not be considered beyond the pale of “literature.” It could not be dismissed summarily as “bad reading,” pulp, or whatever. One response to Lewis’s experiment was to suppose a single person indeed loved a particular book or story, and returned to it repeatedly, yet that story was a poor imitation, an utterly derivative knock-off, of some other writer who by other standards was much better. Doesn’t that show that we cannot rely on the power of a particular piece to determine whether it is
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good reading? Aren’t other factors at play in determining whether a work deserved the appellation “literature?” The other day I came across the new Weird Al Yankovic video “Trapped in a Drive-Thru.” It is a parody of R. Kelly’s “Trapped in a Closet.” It is eleven minutes long. And it is one of the most brutally depressing takes on American life I have ever seen. It left me with a feeling of emptiness and meaninglessness I hadn’t known since listening to Lou Reed’s Berlin. Adam Green’s Gemstones got me close to that space where we’re all a swirl of matter dropping meaningless red bricks from between our legs, just as we in turn were dropped bloody red from another concoction of water and carbon, but Weird Al sent me right over the edge. This video made want to cry. It gave me nausea with a capital S-A-R-T-R-E. As a good denizen of MySpace, I immediately bulletined my friends about the find. The Subject line read: More Depressing than Lou Reed’s Berlin? You be the judge… My text read: “I liked R. Kelly’s attempt, but I must say that Weird Al has just ripped modern life to shreds with this one. Someone find me a razorblade.” That’s when the fear set in. The fear that I was in the position of C.S. Lewis’ single reader, a not very literate person who was in love with a book that any reasonably well-read person would identify as a hack rip-off. What if the more well-read and wiser folk on my friends list saw the video, and knew that someone else had done a similar film or video, and had done it better? Would they shake their heads and say: “Oh, this video is so derivative, how could J.J. even think it was so stunning? Why, [name filmmaker] did this years ago. It’s a rip-off!” This, of course, leads us to Bob Dylan. Here’s a knock against various artists I’ve been hearing for decades: “a Dylan rip-off,” “just trying to sound like Dylan,” “a wannabe Dylan.” This can be a

statement of fact, but it is often, if not most times, meant as a criticism. Let us deconstruct this criticism. In doing so we hope to identify, if not solve, all the problems of the world. The first thing we notice is that such a criticism is at heart not a musical judgment, it is really a moral judgment. It rests upon a basis of a particular moral standard: “Thou shalt be original.” It is certainly a factual assertion that someone sounds like another artist, either in lyrical approach, melodic structure or favored chord changes. Those are facts. But the notion that this therefore makes the artist a bad artist and the artist’s art bad art, this is the application of a particular standard to that artist’s work. Now that standard, be it phrased objectively (“it’s unoriginal, there’s nothing new here, an artist should explore new territory”) or subjectively (“why would I want to listen to this when I can stay home and play the real Dylan on vinyl, tape, CD, or iPod; why would I want to spend money on this when I can hear the real deal?”), is itself a fact. It is also a fact that we as listeners apply these standards. This is where I feel the need to deconstruct. For the standard of originality, of not ripping off an established musician’s style, of being less talented, of being a wannabe, would not be possible if not for recorded music. It would not be communicable to any but a few aficionados of a given genre if that recorded music was not distributed on a large, shall I say industrial scale. Imagine there were no recorded music. A singer songwriter shows up at a local gathering place on the Isle of the Manhattoes, and someone says, “Oh that one is just ripping off a guy who used to play here 40 years ago.”

What would that mean to a listener who wasn’t there 40 years ago? It would mean the speaker was just some old person bragging about the good old days. The only useful information being communicated is that someone is saying there was someone better. It’s possible that if the speaker were respected and believable it would create a mysterious aura around the long gone singer. Sort of like old-timers saying Walter Johnson pitched even faster than any pitcher living before we could measure the speed of a fastball. True? Possibly. Verifiable? Most likely not. But thus are legends born. Which is only to say that the criticism that someone sounds like Dylan (or R.E.M. or Tori Amos or whoever) cannot be a valid objective criticism of the music as such unless one accepts that the recording industry, aided and abetted by mass media, as it has existed in the last hundred years is the way things should be. Ezra Pound said, “Make it new,” referring to poetry within a context very similar to what happened to recorded music over the last century. Within the oral tradition that preceded written and then published poetry, this notion of originality was meaningless – the poetry you heard was good or bad on its own terms without reference to its originality per se – it is only because of the mass distribution of the written word, and the centralizing effect of the academic “canon” and decisions made in publishing houses that a certain boredom attended the reading of poetry. Once you have in your hand the cream of the crop, the poets who did what they did to the utter maximum with astounding effect, why on earth would you want to read someone who didn’t do it as

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well? Of course, we want something new. But my boredom and access to the greats (Blake, Homer, Ginsberg, Dylan, etc.) and my desire for something new, in a totally different style, something strange, is a reflection of my psychology and my access (often a product of my economic standing) within a certain technological, commercial and sociological milieu. Once I see that my psychological attitudes are at play, and I look at them closely (you can do this on your own, no need for therapy), it becomes clear that the technological, commercial and sociological milieu have had more of an effect on my psyche than my psyche does on the milieu. But I do not like this state of affairs, because it assumes that my life as a human being is dependent on my not being bored and therefore demanding something new, while simultaneously and paradoxically saying that really worthwhile stuff was done once and for all by certain artists, whose copyrights, masters, etc. are conveniently held by corporations who control the access to the good stuff, or by whom my previously purchased copies thereof are ready-made for my access. But that means that what is necessary for my soul is dependent on my economic ability. But that can’t be true since that just puts me right in the heart of a capitalist worldview which is at its base is utterly nihilistic. I have no objection to listening and reading the greats. I’m just saying that in some sense they are gravy. They are gifts, which we should be grateful for, but we cannot raise luxury to necessity (he writes after a day of cursing his inability to write because he lacks a decent word processor). Now music and poetry and storytelling are probably very necessary to us as human beings. We need bread and roses after all. One of the reasons the greats remain greats, and we have personal libraries and CD and record collections is that in returning to the greats we often find something new. They have great depth and unexplored mysteries. In essence they have what people claim for scripture (Why we don’t view them with the same skepticism that we view actual scripture is an interesting question). But there is another reason to return to the greats – because they are enjoyable even if we don’t find anything new in them. It is in fact possible for something to be good, to be beautiful, to be enjoyable, to be worthy of gazing upon or listening to without offering anything new. So newness as a necessary criterion for judging anything says more about our own selves

and our own acceptance of a particular worldview, which is dependent on a particular economic and political framework. On the other hand, were we to take away all of that – if we were to imagine that there were no recordings, no books, no radios etc. and we got down to the music and poetry itself and our only way of hearing it was live performance then what we are looking for and receiving must be something else – more akin to the beauty or ugliness, or wildness or peace or violence of nature. Stuff that can never be repeated and yet which speaks to us, gives us something… whatever. The real human core of music must have been available before all the particular systems of recording and mass distribution, and to say that music must stand or fall on its relation to those particular systems is to call ourselves drones with no free will who must accept and participate in the nihilism that others have created. You Inhuman Monsters. Next issue: Robert Johnson, the Tip Jar and the Hidden Workings of the Universe.

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Costello’s Web
Dan Costello
I haven’t listened to much music lately, so here’s a short list of things I’ve been really into, aside from moving apartments, working as a temp too much, and not listening to enough music. Frank Hoier - “Lovers and Dollars” I know plenty of compliments have been lofted upon Frank Hoier, and that all having been said, still, what a great and classic singer/songwriter! The traditional structure of this song doesn’t keep it from cooking. He’s soil but soft to start, really screams his angry second verse, and brings us back to earth on the third. And something that has been said in dim corners as if a serious secret, “Ya know, Frankie’s a really good slide guitar player”, ought to be said a bit louder. He’s currently my favorite insipiration regarding traditional styles still being completely relevant. myspace.com/frankhoier The Lisps - “Pepper Spray” Cesar Alvarez’s production is old school and tech savvy all at once. Hand claps, Nord-style synths, and those messy pseudo-Santana riffs make this song a complete, hands-up winner. Cesar recently recorded a version of “Brooklyn” for Creaky Boards. I couldn’t believe the sonic warmth of it. Or the clarinet playing and the swoopy girl vocals, which I always heard in my head, but thought only existed there. I was wrong. myspace.com/thelisps EL-P This white-rapper-from-Brooklyn likes that white-rapperfrom-Brooklyn. He sounds like Beck except it feels thirdgeneration derivative instead of Beck’s second-generation derivative. That being said, Trent Reznor is on a couple of his songs and they are seriously good. myspace.com/elproducto Blue Hippopotamus - “Child” Caitlin Jaene plays upright bass and sings wistful lyrics with a solid jazz inflection. Rob D. sets a precise and easy groove on drums. These guys played Vinstock, a bill put together by a certain Soft Black songwriter at Clash Bar in Clifton, NJ. They played a really long set and it was good the whole time. And it was just bass and drums. The recording of “Child” has a really nice violin solo. And the second chorus uses synth orchestra to uplifting effect. Put it on your Sunday playlist. Six songs for free at: caitlinjaene.com/music.html o’death - “only daughter” So they’re very Appalachian, and at times not a little Neil Young. But they’re not sleepy; they’re peppy. And then, you’re marching to battle. And then, after the battle’s won or lost (usually lost), there’s a dance in the barn, anyway. And a drunk walk home. myspace.com/odeath The New York Howl - “Signal to Noise” Go trip out on the video on YouTube. It’s two minutes, twenty four seconds of flashing images, the most random flipping constantly. Search it out. youtube.com/watch?v=gN8Zss5rw0I Drink Up Buttercup - “Mr. Pie Eyes” These guys had Creaky Boards in for a show at Mo Pitkins, and I think we’re playing together on our Philly tourdate. Listening to their recordings, we thought they sounded good. What’s funny is, the live show totally resembles what you imagine from the recordings: Fun music made with reckless abandon. These guys are great to watch making noisy music. myspace.com/drinkupbuttercupband

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Recordrecord reviewed? Mail to J. Berger Reviews Want to have your
1119 Longwood Avenue, Bronx, NY 10474
Charles Latham ~ Beltline When I saw Charles Latham perform recently at the New York AntiFolk Fest, his unique lyrical perspective as well as his ability to wail some pretty high notes captivated me immediately. If the recording of Beltline is a bit muffled at parts due to its lo-fi aesthetic, Latham more than compensates for this with his acerbic wit and gifted songwriting ability. In fact, I would argue that the unpolished recording suits Latham perfectly: it helps communicate the vulnerability, unpretentiousness, and immediacy of his songs. Latham’s thoughts are so refreshingly insightful and funny, in particular the song “Drown in the Tears of Your 20s” comes to mind. The song illustrates the progression of a bitter 20-year-old into a 30-year-old eating ribs with a bib, to a nostalgic 40-year-old balding and getting fatter, finally becoming a know-it-all 50-year-old with children who hate him. Though this song, like many of the others on the CD has a slightly depressing cynical tone (in the sense that truth can be hard to swallow), listeners who harbor their own cynical views of society will probably end up finding Latham’s observations hilarious. Other standout tracks are “Rich Girls”, in which Latham envisions an alternate life for himself dwarfed by affluence, and the brilliant “Whiskey Morning Song”, in which Latham finds it “apropos” to see his face in a toilet. The songs need to be experienced, to understand their poignancy. Now that Charles Latham has moved from the SouthEast to Philly, one can only hope he’ll be in New York more often to perform. Do whatever you have to do to get your hands on Beltline. (reviewed by Max Vernon) myspace.com/sircharleslatham Cheese on Bread in The Search for Colonel Mustard After their series of farewell shows last summer, who’d have thought that the duo-that-became-a-band would have another one in them? Casey Holford, for one. He’s the producer of Cheese on Bread’s second (and perhaps last) album, and he does a stunning job. The band, led by Sara Fitzsimmons and Dan Fishback, has a variety of charmingly fun material, much of it composed on the road. This is the only document of the full breadth of the Cheese on Bread experience, featuring the full band and a fury of special guests. There’re horns; there’re strings; there’s theremin. It’s crazy… Crazy also describes the lyrical style. The music is credited to the combo; the lyrics, band stalwart Dan Fishback. With a variety of silly lines like, “but I think you’re beautiful, and between you and me, I mean every sy-syllab-b-b-ble”, “he taught us how to think, now our thinking is on the shrink,” and “I never proof-readed the letter of love,” the fun standard on this album is definitely funner. While previously, Fishback wrote CoB lyrics from the POV of co-leader Fitzsimmons. Now, he’s writing from the point of view of the entire band. Best example? “Cornfields, Cornfields!” about the politics of food and national tours. The album sounds great. Holford, who masterminded the recording at Emandee studios, and shepherded additional tracks mailed in from across the nation (Cheese on Bread lives, seemingly, everywhere in America at once), has said how he’d always wanted to hear a CoB show with a good sound system. Now he can, and, because of his hard work, so can we all. (reviewed by Jonathan Berger) cheeseonbread.com The Leader ~ Dorian Gray Days When I first stumbled upon The Leader, all I knew about them was their cartoonish zombie icon floating around MySpace and Dan Fishback’s view that “ohmygodtheleaderwillchangeyourlife.” After the Leader finished playing, these thoughts came to mind: · Holy shit. · Why isn't The Leader famous? · How do I get the CD?

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Now that I’m on my eighth listen through Dorian Gray Days, I can confidently say it’s the most exciting CD I’ve heard in at least three months (my memory doesn’t extend back any further). The Leader consists of Julie DeLano on bass and Sam Lazzara on drums, both providing vocals. Though their live set surpassed expectations about what a bass and drum outfit could do, their CD benefits from additional instrumentation (vibraphone, jaw harp, and trumpet) rounding out the sound. The album has a palpable moodiness: bass is the main instrument; the lyrics deal with economic equality and impending dirty bomb explosions; and Julie’s vocals gravely resonate. She is simply one of the most compelling vocalists I’ve ever heard. It’s impossible not to shiver on the song “Kiss Me” when she sings in this deep, knowing tone “Are we all destined to end up like Dorian Gray? Beautiful. Rich. Without a Soul. Murderous…” My play count on that particular song is up to 14. Other standout tracks on the album are “Brother,” “Walmart Astoria” and “Last Neighborhood Song” (all but “Brother” are on their MySpace page). The only thing that makes the Leader even better is Sam’s percussion expertise. Sam isn’t just another drummer in a band, but the principal percussionist in the Binghamton Philharmonic. He has performed in the past with legends such as Patti Smith, Jessye Norman, and Carol Channing in addition to playing on NPR. At their recent show, I saw Sam do more with a tambourine than most do with an entire drum kit. Dorian Gray Days gives the listener just about anything they would want out of music: haunting melodies, impeccable musicianship, great singing, and intelligent lyricism. The CD, which is available through Olive Juice Music, is an essential purchase. Get it. Love it. Live it. (reviewed by Max Vernon) myspace.com/theleadernyc Richard McGraw ~ Song and Void, Volume One The first-time listener of Song and Void, Volume One can be forgiven for the initial impression that they have popped in a Lyle Lovett CD. The album-opener “Butter Hill” has the same tasteful, muted arrangement and yearning tenor vocal work one expects from a Lovett recording. And frankly, it’s a welcome sound.

However, as the CD wears on, the Lovett vocal begins to give way to something more strangled, more melodramatic, more like... Nick Cave. Now everyone steals from everyone else; as Elvis Costello sang, “All little sisters like to try on big sister’s clothes.” But in the case of this record, Richard McGraw might as well be Rich Little, for he is essentially doing an imitation. The way he sings just feels too much like a put-on, like a suit of clothes, like a pose. I checked out the artist’s other, earlier album on iTunes, and from the 30-second samples on there, it seemed obvious that the strained melodrama in question is a more recent addition. Maybe this is a moot point. After all, in the mid-70’s, Tom Waits’s new gravel-voiced approach was a self-conscious mutilation of his prior smooth singing style, and is still probably a put-on today. So we’ll move on. The craftsmanship and sustained mood of the album is undeniable. A lot of effort went into making this puppy, and that alone should make it remarkable enough to warrant a listen. Unfortunately, McGraw seems bound and determined to make his listeners bummed out. Almost every tune in the batch has the downbeat tempo and mournful arrangement of a funeral dirge. One of the rare exceptions, the accordion-and-jingle-bells-adorned song called “The Many,” actually is a funeral dirge: “This is how I’m going to die, ay-ay-ay,” McGraw sings, “in a bedroom all alone.” The only real upbeat number is the lost-love reverie, “Natasha in High School,” which forgoes the pallid Nick Cave atmospherics in favor of something more like Weezer crossed with Harry Nilsson. Unfortunately, this joyous respite from the gloom confusingly pops up as track number two, making its melancholy-lyrics-buoyedby-a-jaunty-melody approach that much more conspicuous by its absence from the entire rest of the album which follows. I mean, even Lyle Lovett has the good sense to do funny songs now and again, while Nick Cave breaks up his goth-boy gloom with some kickass rock and roll. Song and Void, Volume One, meanwhile, tries to figure out how to squeeze out emotion while remaining in low gear. Maybe when Volume Two comes, he’ll switch to second. (reviewed by Justin Remer) richardmcgraw.com

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Scotts Roger ~ Good Breeding Good Breeding is an odd duck of an album, to say the least. Mostly, it’s roots rock/Americana type stuff, sometimes with a ’70s AM radio polish, and often with a smartass set of lyrics. Mostly that’s what it is. Mostly. This certainly describes the strongest material on the disc, which I would pinpoint as the four songs at the beginning and the four songs at the end. The six tunes in-between wander from early ’90s pop pastiche to DIY lo-fi rock, with varying degrees of success. The album kicks off with “Beautiful Woman,” a toetapper about a man who probably should have listened to the advice of the classic Jimmy Soul song that recommends, “If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife.” Instead, our hero has to fight the jealous pangs that come from having a beautiful lover. It’s upbeat-sounding, but it turns out to be the first of many songs about the strife and strain of romance. Over the course of Good Breeding, there’s a lot of songs about squabbling, and both She and He get caught cheating in “Lack of Surprise” (“‘I am late,’ the note said. ‘It’s not yours. I’m sorry.’“) and “You and Me” (“You found her brassiere on my back seat. So, I can’t cheat?”), respectively. And while there are many relationship tunes, singer/ songwriter Scott Roger Peterson takes some time to ponder other existential topics, like religion (“My Hallelujah”) and the pros of being a prostitute (“Crack Ho’s”). There’s a constant balancing act in these songs between sentiment and silliness. Sometimes the two brilliantly coexist, like on the incredibly catchy “Way To Go Me,” a self-deprecating portrait of arrested development (“When I was 8, I slept in a loft bed; now I’m 28, and I sleep in a loft bed. Way to go, me.”). Sometimes, they don’t gel as well, like on the only major misstep on the album, “The Dance.” “The Dance” is a mocksoft-rock tune that sounds like James Blunt being produced by Something/Anything?-era Todd Rundgren on the topic of feeling an affection for the woman giving you a lapdance. It’s full of sketch-comedy-type excesses, like the way someone dramatically whispers “The Dance” after every chorus. These touches are not particularly funny, and they undermine the offbeat lyrical sweetness that is subversively snuck in throughout the song

(“If I weren’t your client, I’d wanna give you a call”). But the main problem with “The Dance” is that it acts as lead-in to four of the most straight-faced songs on the album, some of which sound only slightly less James Blunt-y in their adult-contemporary pop approach than “The Dance.” Wait, we’re supposed to take this sort of thing seriously now? Well, we probably should. These last four songs are the most focused, lyrically frank, and memorably tuneful of the collection. Despite its stylistic and lyrical schizophrenia, Good Breeding has much to recommend it, so I do. (reviewed by Justin Remer) myspace.com/scottsroger Willie Breeding ~ Grey Skies Despite the fact that Willie Breeding now calls Brooklyn home, he recorded his Grey Skies EP back in Kentucky. Breeding sings not with the “voice like an old southern man,” as referenced in the title track, but something somehow more familiar. Minimal in orchestration, featuring mainly acoustic and electric guitar with only the most subtle and (for the most part) well-placed piano and organ, Breeding’s EP showcases his solid voice, which invokes soft-spoken songsmiths such as Neil Young. At the same time, the arrangements leave ample room for beautiful harmonies from Erin Breeding, whom I can only assume is a relative of Willie’s and whose parts add beautiful June Carter-esque movement to Willie’s recordings. Though fairly morose, as the EP title suggests, songs such as “Bruises” and “Firing Squad” nonetheless remain very uplifting. Themes of regret and memories run through many of Breeding’s mid-tempo ballads, and they stick with you long after last listen. There are seven tracks on the album, and they’re short on the whole, but they say much even in their abbreviated format. Breeding suggests that “All the pieces don’t fit” in his song “Go to Bed,” yet he has undoubtedly crafted a cohesive whole in Grey Skies. Without a release date on the jacket, it’s unclear whether this EP meant “More When it Was New,” as Willie sings on the fourth track. Still, due to its timeless presentation, I am sure that this recording will stand up for many years to come. (reviewed by Paul Alexander) myspace.com/williebreedingmusic

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BRIAN SPEAKER Off This Planet

the new album September 2007

www.brianspeaker.com www.myspace.com/speakerb
Urban Folk Autumn 2007 ~ page 31

Out Now On Family Records!
((stereo))

the bootleg series volume 1

The Undisputed Heavyweights Live From New York City
Money \ Lartigue \ Bitches Be Trippin' \ Roll Your Windows Down \ Back To You \ Just For Laughs \ A Girl Like You

((family records))

Jeff Jacobson

The Mixtape Vol. 1

Cross-Pollination: The Mixtape Volume 1 (FR-002 / Digital Only)
Features free, exclusive downloads from some of the most exciting past performers that were part of the weekly Cross-Pollination concert series at Pianos. Includes My Brightest Diamond, Jeffrey Lewis, Kevin Devine, The Undisputed Heavyweights, Matt Singer, Wakey!Wakey!, Jay Mankind, Cloud Cult and more. Download now for free at LiberatedMatter.com

((family records))

Wakey!Wakey! - Make A Fist Inside Your Pocket (The Bootleg Series Vol. 2) Casey Shea - Alive & Welll (The Bootleg Series Vol. 3) Seth Kallen & Friends - TBA In Philly (The Bootleg Series Vol. 4) Jukebox The Ghost - TBA Full Length Matt Singer - TBA EP & More
Cross-Pollination : A weekly concert series featuring some of the most exciting talent NYC has to offer. Two artists each play an individual 40 minute set, followed by a 3-song collaborative set, leading to unexpected and often spectacular musical results. Every Tuesday at Pianos (158 Ludlow St. by Stanton), 8-10pm, FREE! 151 weeks and running! For info on releases, schedules, music placement, concert promotion and more visit LiberatedMatter.com
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