Friday, July 13, 2012

Feature: Greetings From the Edge // Redux (David Thomas & Two Pale Boys, Vic Chessnutt)


by James M. Graham

Greetings From The Edge // Redux digs through the archives of James M. Graham's once celebrated column "Greetings From The Edge" that he wrote for AOL from 1996-1997. What follows are selections from the column, reposted verbatim.

David Thomas and Two Pale Boys (03/9/97 - NYC)
David Thomas, Keith Moline and Andy Diagram took the stage at The Wetlands on a dark, cold Sunday night in New York in front of, oh, probably about 40 people, and magic ensued. A veteran of at least seven Ubu or Ubu-less David Thomas shows, I can absolutely testify that, other than the first (always a charm), this was the best. David stood, played his melodeon ( or is it an accordion?) while Andy strummed guitar in a rhythmic keep-the-beat kinda way. Keith played treated trumpet - a radio mic sending his breath through a rather inconspicuous, but sinister rack of electronic effects. 

They cut through David’s new release, Erewhon, a meandering jazz/beat/free-form sort of record doing more jazzy, beaty and free-form versions of most of the tunes. David was in rare form, pulling on a flask, between monologues and working himself into a relaxed, but intense mood. The Pale Boys seemed to be mostly improvising, although a close eye would reveal that the songs were tightly structured loose and flowing things - kinda tough to pull off. Moline summoned electronic trumpet demons from hell as David launched into "Surfer Girl" by the Beach Boys. Beginning the story of the beautiful beach-bound muse, Thomas eyes began to tear (I don’t know what’s going on at home) and Moline began to sing into the end of the trumpet providing the mandatory Beach Boys backing track. 

After David went to the bathroom while the Pale Boys improvised, he began "The Beach Boys" (from the last Ubu record) and told the long, drawn-out tale of a country in South America ruled by The Beatles and Rosanna Arquette (because "she's beautiful"), that had David and Brian Wilson at a local bar discussing "the things they’d seen." David Thomas is a vital artist. You wouldn’t think so, but he is. Its hard to explain, but I can offer help - David Thomas and all that is Pere Ubu is explained perfectly at http://ubuprojex.net/.

David Thomas and Two Pale Boys
Vic Chessnutt (03/16/97 - NYC)
Vic seemed almost as tired as I was. This, being the second show of two at The Knitting Factory, he pretty much asked for requests and obliged with incredibly heart-felt renditions of his back catalog, despite his fatigue. There's something really, really charming about Vic, I don’t know if its his deep Athens, Georgia accent or the simple subject matter of his songs - probably both - but he is an incredible example of transcending ones' physical self and making music that means something. At least to me.

Vic Chessnutt

8 comments:

  1. I don’t know if its his deep Athens, Georgia accent or the simple subject matter of his songs - probably both - but he is an incredible example of transcending ones' physical self and making music that means something. At least to me.

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  2. After melting only slightly in the breezy heat, the Crocodiles got the show going again, kicking everyone into gear with their brand of noisy, distorted pop. The duo-turned-quintet from San Diego played an excellent set, chock full of fuzzy guitar riffs, droning vocals, and gritty, angsty lyrics.

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