I guess while I’m writing a lot on a day that I said I wasn’t gonna write (well, at least not any poetry), I should note that I’ve had one disc stuck on my stereo for the better part of four or five weeks, literally: We Are Already in Hell by The Wasted. I’ll put something else in every couple of days or so, but I usually take it out after a song or two, because no matter what it is, it’s nowhere near as compelling as that current CD player champeen is to me right now.
The Wasted are a local-bred trio featuring Dave Reynolds (drums), Kelly Murphy (bass/vocals) and Stephen Gaylord (guitar/vocals). I’ve written fondly a few times about Gaylord’s prior/other projects, Beef and Gay Tastee, for Metroland over the years. The Wasted have played at the C+CC a couple of times, and they’re great live. But this record is, so far, my fave thing Gaylord and associates have done, ever. It’s just plain brilliant . . . the songs are punchy, production is sweet, the Murphy/Reynolds rhythm section rocks, and the Murphy/Gaylord microphone interplay is sublime and riveting. They’re perfect vocal foils for each other.
Gaylord’s lyrics are as complex and compelling as ever; he does a better job of capturing rural darkness than anyone else I know. For me, this record is now the quintessential sound of Fall in Upstate New York. And the sound of the fall of Upstate New York. Both of which are somehow connected, I guess, as the days get shorter and the weather gets nastier and life gets harder and people think and do ugly things with bittersweet fatalism, knowing tomorrow’s probably not gonna be any better, but plugging along anyway. What I try to capture in my writing about the South Carolina Low Country, Steve nails time and time again about Upstate New York. Hats off to him for that.
If I had to pick an album of the year at this point, it’d be this one or the Fall’s latest. And that’s not a local pander or pity pick either: this record is brilliant compared to anything from anywhere.
Spent 16 hours at the C+CC office yesterday (7:15 AM to 11:15 PM), and am not feeling well on top of that, so the poetry inspiration font was dry and dusty yesterday. I’ll catch up over the weekend, I guess.
Had a great, great show at the C+CC yesterday. Some back story . . . I’d established an online relationship with musician Earl Patrick a while back, through mutual musical friend Bryan Thomas. I’ve copped some lines and ideas from Earl’s webpage for the poetry project (“Expensive Smelling Feet,” which is the seemingly faraway and distantly remembered second poem of the yearly project, “Green and Brown,” “Attention Was Turned to Closure,” etc.), and he was doing daily writing for a while this year too, which was cool, since I’ve enjoyed seeing what others do on similar production cycles.
Earl played several times up in Albany, but I was never able to get to any of his shows due to conflicting events, so last March or so, I scheduled a “back to school singer-songwriter night” at the C+CC for August with Earl, Bryan, Amy Hills (who Earl recommended to me) and Sean Rowe on the bill.
After we had that one on the books, Earl pitched a band he knew from Boston called FLUTTR, an amazing drum-guitar-marimba-cello-voice ensemble. I was sold, and booked them, and booked Earl for a second gig at the C+CC to open for FLUTTR. All looked good.
Except that then Earl broke his neck in a swimming accident in Oregon four months ago. He’s written about it on his website if you want to read the details of both the injury and his slow recovery. We continued our habit of not meeting each other when the August songwriter forum came and went without him, since he was still on the west coast working on his recovery. A few weeks ago, he returned to New York, and let me know that he was planning to come to the show, but didn’t think he’d have enough manual dexterity to play again, so Bryan agreed to step in and handle the opening slot of the gig before FLUTTR’s show. Earl came up yesterday afternoon with FLUTTR, and it was lovely to finally meet someone in the flesh who I’ve been corresponding with and listening to for quite some time. Very nice.
Bryan has played several shows at the C+CC since I’ve been there, and they’ve all been wonderful, but this one was made particularly engaging and special when he introduced his new-ish song “Spy,” which is about his little girl, Zoe . . . who was in the audience, and got up, went up front to be with her daddy, and danced some great dances, clapped, and generally charmed the room completely. When we say we’re a family friendly venue at the C+CC, we really mean it.
After Bryan (and Zoe) finished their set . . . Earl took the stage to play the first three songs publicly that he’s played since his accident. He’d arranged them for a more finger-friendly power-chord-on-electric-guitar approach than their original nimble arrangements possessed . . . but his voice was strong, and it was a sublime, powerful moment to see him take that next step on his way to a full physical and emotional recovery. Really special and moving, especially “All Signs Point to Providence.” Misty eyes abounded. Mine included.
FLUTTR then worked the house hard, playing music the likes of which I’ve not heard before and don’t expect to hear again, until I have them back to the C+CC the next time. This is a really powerful, interesting and technically amazing band who come with my highest recommendation. Their own material was fabulous, but they really clinched a place in my heart when they closed their set with covers of two of my all time favorite songs by two of my all time favorite performers: “Frame by Frame” by King Crimson and “The Fat Lady of Limbourg” by Brian Eno. Jaws dropped.
Anyway . . . that was a long and eventful day, and when I finally got home, I just wanted to go to bed. So I did. I’ll do the September poetry wrap-up later today, I think, and then plan to kick off October with three pieces tomorrow. My brain is tired. I’m 75% through the poetry project now, and I can feel it weighing on me. I need to tell myself that I only have to do one-third of what I’ve done already. Thrice as far behind as yet to go. I’m ready for a day off.