Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Birthday Jones

as birthdays go, i had a pretty good one. Thursday featured a nice karaoke excursion, with highlights including backing John on a stirring "Deacon Blues" and having a second go at my new fave feature, "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley.

Saturday through (extremely early) Monday was spent in the excellent company of Laal in the excellent environs of Chicago with an eccentric assortment of coconspirators, including T-Bonz Kelly (ex-Stay Fucked, current Northwestern law, Super Lucky Cat 4 Life), Jeff Wall (whose rather dazzling photography exhibit we saw at the Art Institute of Chicago) and the good Thymme Jones.

if you've spent any considerable time with me (or reading this blog) over the past year or so, you know who he is, namely a Great American Artist who drums, sings, pianizes, trumpets and conceptualizes for the long-running Windy City factory of creative musical and conceptual brilliance that is Cheer-Accident.

Thymme (the longhaired fellow in the pic up top) gamely agreed to dine with me--Indian buffet, no less--as we together embarked on an open-ended phase of Cheer-Accident research conducted by yours truly with cooperation and assistance from him. i'm unsure what form this is all going to take, but let's just say i'm interested in helping to canonize this group as one of the most important and unique forces in experimental music over the past few decades.

so we chatted a bunch and laughed frequently and talked about prog drummers--Chris Cutler is a biggie for Thymme--and prog albums--he recommends the first U.K. disc and Henry Cow's "Western Culture." and also about Cheer-Accident. he said some particularly awesome things regarding the band's long-running fascination w/ absurdist conceptual humor and cited Martin Mull as an influence. again, this material will see the light of day in some form, someday. will keep y'all abreast. in the meantime, thanks to Thymme for taking the time to chill with me and answer some questions.

also while i was there, i filled in most all the gaps in my Cheer-Accident CD collection. the pick of the litter is definitely "Sever Roots, Tree Dies," which is actually their first full-length, not to mention one of the most sophisticated, elaborate and compelling debuts i've ever heard; it's just been reissued by a German label called Freakshow which seems to have no web presence whatsoever. i'd contact the band and i'm sure they can get you a copy.

the trip culminated in a trip to the Double Door to see C-A play! had a total blast at this one. the show was like a grab-bag, all sorts of personnel shifts and mood shifts and juxtapository actions and elaborateness. the set started off w/ Thymme solo onstage doing one of his patented comedy happenings. an offstage announcer intro'd him as the world's greatest improviser and proceeded to feed him random word pairings--like "a football and a garbage can lid" (that wasn't really one of them, but just to give you a flavor)--to which Thymme was supposed to respond by improvising a sound with his mouth. each time, he'd mull over the words and then produce the exact same sound: a sort of loogie-hocking thing. anyway, this was sort of like the conceptual performance equivalent to the band's marathon "Filet of Nod" sessions.

many excellent tunes were played, including "Dismantling the Berlin Waltz," sung by Carla Kihlstedt of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum (who headlined the show), and that awesome breakdown from the middle of "Salad Days." there were also excerpts from the "Dumb Ask" record and a really great rendition of the dirgey "All Over" from the new "What Sequel?" disc (featuring Kihlstedt's violin). various horn players came out for various tunes and a guest female vocalist i didn't recognize sang on the last tune, announced as a new one. Todd Rittman, of U.S. Maple and now Singer, wore a bandit mask and did some pretty impressive drumming, not to mention provided a willfully incongruous tambourine click track at various points. otherwise, the lineup was what you see above, minus the woman second from the right, who i *think* is Sheila Bertoletti: (from left to right) Andrea Rothschild on trumpet, keys, flute, etc.; Jones on drums, vocals, keys, trumpet; Alex Perkolup on bass; Jeff Libersher on guitar; and Todd Rittman on all that stuff i mentioned.

all in all an excellent set, but the highlight for me was definitely Jones's solo version--well, there was that tambourine...-of "Production," the first track from his gorgeous piano-and-voice album, "Career Move." can't wait till they come here in October (10/8 at either Cake Shop or the Knitting Factory w/ Upsilon Acrux and Time of Orchids)!

here's the "studio" version of "Production"; watch out--this one is melancholy as hell...

Thymme Jones - Production
from Career Move

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