Archive for January, 2011

Record Review: Laura Marling’s single “Blues Run the Game” – - Third Man Records

January 29, 2011

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a ‘Nashvillian’ or the Nashville experience.” “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

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To make sure homeless human beings receive the food, love, and friendship they need, please donate to the Nashville Rescue Mission by calling (615) 255-2475 or by visiting NashvilleRescueMission.org.  Thank you.

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Record Review:  Laura Marling’s single “Blues Run the Game” – - Third Man Records

by Dave Carew

So the Nashville skyline is dark, heavy, overcast, and I’m walking into Jack White’s Third Man Records for the first time. It is a Tuesday afternoon—nothing going on, the afternoon endless, sleepy-dreamy—and then I’m standing in the forefront—about twenty feet by twenty feet—and I see on the rack the first 45 I’ve seen in a store since . . . well, another lifetime.  It is Laura Marling’s new single, and the A side is “Blues Run the Game,” a cover of a Jackson C. Frank tune, the B side Neil Young’s “The Needle and the Damage Done.”  I prove my unhip cred by thinking “I’ve never heard of Laura Marling OR Jackson C. Frank,” but I plunk down $6 anyway, thinking, “Hell, if Jack White thinks she’s cool—and wants to sign her, produce her, and carry her 45 in his store—I’m in.”  Or at least I’ll give it a spin. Which is kind of the idea behind Third Man Records.

So I get “Blues Run the Game” home and I play it on a beat-up turntable a friend has stored in my house for 300 years and . . . and . . . gold, man.  Gold.  I get INSTANTLY why Jack White is interested in this artist, why Laura Marling has recorded this obscure (to most Americans) song, the beauty and mysticism they must have felt as they brought this song back from the mists and started working on it. Written by a man (Jackson C. Frank) whose bouts with depression, mental illness, and homelessness give the song a particularly poignant authenticity, “Blues Run the Game” is rendered perfectly by Marling, in a voice seemingly no stranger to suffering or despair—or hope. If suffering and human yearning against despair can be tuneful—melodious—“Blues Run the Game” captures that poetic landscape in a way that will touch you profoundly.

“Blues Run the Game” sung by 21-year-old English folk singer Laura Marling, is available as a single (7” vinyl, 45 rpm) at Third Man Records in Nashville or by visiting: store.thirdmanrecords.com/index.aspx?page=2

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, and copywriter.

 

Random thoughts from the underground

January 28, 2011

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a ‘Nashvillian’ or the Nashville experience.” “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

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Middle Tennessee was devastated in May by flooding from which it will take many more months to recover. Please join the recovery effort by contacting Hands on Nashville at Hon.org or by calling (in Nashville) 211. Otherwise, please call 800-318-9355. You can also support The Salvation Army’s relief efforts by going to Salarmy-Nashville.org or calling 800-725-2769.  Thank you.

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Random thoughts from the underground

by Dave Carew

  • Ku-DOS to FYE for actually knowing in which category to place albums by The Flying Burrito Brothers.  The Burritos were a hippie country band—not a rock band—although you’d never know it from any other record store on planet Earth;
  • Every famous venue in Nashville (e.g. The Bluebird Café) is smaller than you think it’s going to be.  Add Jack White’s Third Man Records store to the list . . . although small certainly doesn’t mean “not cool,” in this case;
  • Speaking of which . . . If you haven’t bought a 45 in about 45 years (like me), a decent place to start is with Laura Marling’s “Blues Run the Game,” backed by (Neil Young’s) “The Needle and the Damage Done,” available in the storefront at Third Man Records;
  • The CBFB (cheeseburger on French bread) at Rotier’s soon will be declared the eighth Wonder of the World (asserted the mostly-vegetarian);
  • The next time you go slumming at Waffle House and the waitress tells you they serve breakfast any time, say, “Great. I’ll take scrambled eggs during the French Revolution.” Then send his commission to Steven Wright.


David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground
Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, and copywriter.

Album Review – - Jill Sissel’s “Haunted Highway”

January 25, 2011

By Vince Gaetano

I think it was Groucho Marx who said, “Good will always find an audience.” Or maybe it was something I once heard in a dream. Either way, I believe in the sentiment wholeheartedly; anything of considerable quality has a way of drawing a crowd — it’s unavoidable. And I have little doubt that Jill Sissel’s crowd is drawing closer every day, and in a big way.

Her voice is soft and alluring, her guitar playing is solid, and her lyrics are evocative with a slightly playful undertone. To make that long story a bit shorter, Jill Sissel’s got it. The proverbial “it.” Not just talent—although she certainly has enough of that to go around—but a drive and earnestness that so many talented people seem to lack in today’s music industry. Just looking at the liner notes is enough to make me feel inadequate. Jill Sissel is the lead vocalist; she’s the guitarist (acoustic and electric); she plays the keyboard, the bass, the mandolin; she either wrote or co-wrote every song on the album. Is there anything she can’t do?

And there are no tricks with this album. What you hear is what was played, what was sung. In a time of auto-tuned number-one hit singles and the Lady Gaga’s of the world using image as a stand-in for talent, it’s nice to hear something as raw and unprocessed as this. It’s refreshing, I think, to know that there are still musicians out there who don’t use twenty years of recording technology as a crutch.

But like the old saying goes — and this one I’m almost positive I didn’t make up — “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” Well, in this case, her band is a strong link, indeed, and its strength is undeniable. It would seem that Jill Sissel insists on only working with musicians as obviously talented as she. And it shows.

Haunted Highway may not be the best thing since sliced bread, but so what?  It’s good. Arguably, it’s very good. And shouldn’t that be enough? I think so, and I hope you do, too.

Jill Sissel will be performing live at the 315 Bar and Grille in Nashville, TN on February 3; LaHacienda in Franklin, TN on February 19; and Richard’s Louisiana Café in Whites Creek, TN on April 2. Visit http://www.jillsissel.com for details.

Vince Gaetano is an aspiring screenwriter and director who has written film and album reviews for ‘Shake! Magazine’ and ‘Underground Nashville.’ He graduated with honors from SUNY Oneonta with a major in video production, and currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, and copywriter.

Book Review – - BLINDNESS by Jose Saramago

January 19, 2011

by Roy E. Perry

Although, considered as a whole, Jose Saramago’s Blindness is an intriguing and fascinating read, its ending is disappointing. Several questions are left hanging, unanswered, and several problems with the plot are left unresolved.

I’m not sure how the author could have made the conclusion of his work more satisfying, but it simply ends without providing a sufficient explanation of what caused the epidemic of universal blindness (“universal,” that is, except for one character who, inexplicably, avoids the plague).

Blindness propounds the same thesis as does William Golding’s Lord of the Flies: Scratch away the thin veneer of civilization that we so proudly wear, and underneath you will find a raging savage.

When men, women, and children are exposed to extreme limits of life and death, survival often goes to “the fittest,” that is, to those who descend to the level of brute force, corruption, exploitation, and animality; conventional standards of human decency and morality collapse.

I suspect that Mr. Saramago’s work is a parable of atrocities perpetrated in World War II. As I read this book, I kept thinking of the horrors of the Holocaust–Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Treblinka, and other concentration/death camps, in which millions of innocent people were tortured and murdered.

An ancient Hebrew prophet spoke of “foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear” (Jeremiah 5:21). In other words, “none are so blind as those who will not see”—who deliberately close their eyes to criminal deeds.

I “see” (a pun, if you insist) Blindness as a cautionary tale for present-day readers, lest we forget the horrific lessons of the past. For those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

A dark and depressing work, Blindness contains scenes of brutality, explicit sex, and foul language; it is not recommended as suitable fare for the Puritan, the pious, and the prudent. Its deep symbolism, however, will be a delight to those who appreciate the creative imagination. Blindness is an excellent exhibit of high-quality literary art.

Roy E. Perry of Nolensville, Tennessee was a book reviewer for the ‘Nashville Banner’ and ‘The Tennessean’ for more than thirty years. He is an advertising copywriter at a Nashville publishing house.

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, and copywriter.


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