I enjoyed very much the Roots Family Reunion, and soon will be posting a pictorial w/ links and all the trimmings so you can have a sit down, sip your whiskey, and fall to pieces when you realize what a great show you missed.
While that’s in the works, I want to write about a very excellent find in the musical stylings of Matt Frye. He came on stage in sneakers, shorts, t-shirt and a raccoon hat. He looked like a dork, and the audience at large seemed to deem him off-putting, and it appeared as though they deemed him so throughout. I loved him. His music is better suited to venues like Goodbye Blue Monday (a refuge in my early, miserable Brooklyn days) than ones filled with more earnest country singers, bluegrass pickers, and southern rockers. Not to say that musically he had no place. I hear Hank in him, and Woody, and more personal to me, David Lowery of Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker. There’s a seeming jackass on stage. Like early Ween, he gives the appearance that he doesn’t take any of this seriously when in fact his music is quite skillful, and his lyrics are more carefully worded and meted out than their humor and cheekiness let on.
He also achieves something that I hope these others in BK Country will see to follow suit. He allows Brooklyn to influence his roots music directly. There was nothing wrong with the rest of the lineup, but in this BK Country scene it is as though these musicians mean to steadfastly preserve the sound and conventions of their roots music. They give a spirited exhibition of proficiency and exactitude when some recklessness and a sense of fuck-all could get the crowd closer to the stage. And I get it. It’s the sound and music of their home. It’s who they were growing up, and is engrained in their identity as well as who they see themselves to be. If this wannabe writer who cannot play any instrument or carry a tune in a bucket could impart some advice, it would be this. Brooklyn happened on your way to country greatness. Your lives here are made unique in regards to your stay-at-home counterparts. You have trains, taxis, and every walk of life at your door step. You gave up pick-up trucks and porch sittin’, and all those easy “simple times” to grind and hustle, to be met with every form of rejection both personal and professional in order to earn some hard won breath catching moments. Open up them big ol’ hearts to Brooklyn, she’ll only love you for it.
Matt Frye’s music made me remember sitting in front of our tv as a kid, that big ol’ glass tube encased in finished wood. Cable finally became affordable to us trailer park dwellers. On MTV a man named Dr. Demento had a music video program that showcased all the smart asses and goofballs of the music world. Some novelties, like the Fish Heads song. Others were musical geniuses that the world was not then ready for and so relegated to the weirdo bin. I discovered Weird Al Yankovic, They Might Be Giants, The Dead Milkmen, Camper Van Beethoven, and mother fucking DEVO. I discovered that I was a weirdo, too. It was good to know we had anthems. It’s like Leonard Cohen sang, “Clenching your fist for the ones like us, who are oppressed by the figures of beauty. You fixed yourself, you said ‘Well, never mind. We are ugly, but we have the music.’” So, I’m glad Matt Frye is out there reminding us to fuck the norm.
And here’s a little bonus music.