Monday, September 18, 2006

Ghetto Bells in Birmingham

From the Archives of Earfood:

A piece I wrote about the Jonathan Richman/ Vic Chesnutt show on October 8, 2005:

I wish I could tell you, explain to you what you missed Tuesday night, by not coming. If you've never been to the Moonlight Music Cafe before, let me tell you, to see a show there is an intimate thing. The quiet, the silent attention given to artists can either be horrifying or gratifying. I've heard some say they hate to play there because all of the attention is directed to them, they're used to being background noise in a smokey bar.

Vic Chesnutt thrived. He sang of his memories so loud and high with his head held back and his heart held out. The notes plucked with a strange confident pause became a vessel for his every day drama. And that is what I loved, he sings like we speak. He tells a story of a wild girl he loved in the high school band and how she turned square (Band Camp) or what boys and girls say to each other during a particularly uncomfortable date and we bolt upright in our seats with burning faces and laughter rolling out of our chests. His closing song was based on the comments of a young fan who had approached Vic after a show The boy told Vic how much he loved his music, how he had downloaded Vic's songs, but that he couldn't buy a cd that night because beer was too expensive. He didn't have a ticket for Vic to sign because he had gotten into the show for free (His friend knew the doorman). But, "will you sign my IPod? Will you sign my IPod, please?" We wanted Vic to play on and on. But he smiled and unfastened his guitar and left the stage, which was to be taken over shortly by Jonathan Richman.

Later, I approached Vic to ask him a few questions about a band he knew way back when, Smoke. My friend John is looking for Brian Hollerin and thought Vic might know how to get in touch with him. As we were talking, Vic kept looking up over my shoulder and then back to me with a pleasant, busy smile. I turned to my right, to catch sight of his distraction. Will Ferrell was standing there (what?), waiting, so I hastily thanked Vic, and sped away. Surreal. The contrast between the small quiet songwriter and the tall actor was a bit startling.

Vic will continue to tour this fall to promote his latest album with New West "Ghetto Bells", many dates with the freestyle dancing, multi-lingual, cow bell loving Jonathan Richman. Quite a pair. Check out Vic Chesnutt's website for tour details, MP3s, pictures, and the latest news.

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