The House of Cracked

               

 

Matt Intvw 1

Cracked Head

Well, I finally got that interview with Matt “Cracked” Frye that y’all didn’t know I was after. I’m sorry, it’s because I keep my fears and desires close to my chest. It’s under the site header called The “Cracked Mother Fucker” Chronicle. And, I’ll try to be more open with you guys in the future about my wants and needs. We’re gonna get through this, y’all. I know we’ll be ok. We’re gonna be ok as fuck.

Cracked Home

Cracked Home

Matt let me into his home for this interview. His wife showed me pictures of a gawky young Mr. Frye from an actual photo album. After the interview, Matt confessed his love and adoration of Taylor Swift. He sang me some songs. I was fed chili. We went to a bar nearby. Matt and Rivka taught me about Unitarianism. A man O.D.ed on heroine in the bathroom. It was my favorite sort of day.

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IVY. BECK. NEILL. DESK (THAT IS TINY).

Last week The Road Southern was honored, thrilled and prouder’n all hell to shoot Ivy, Beck, and Neill’s Tiny Desk Contest entry! Well, intrepid photog Andreea shot the video expertly. I just held the stick that had a magical pointy-looky machine on top, but I did it like a goddamn demon warrior hell bent on saving the whole friggin’ world from its ugly self is all!

Behold, y’all!

And stay tuned (can you say that on the internet? Stay bookmarked?), because TRS has a kickass interview with that “Cracked” Mother Fucker Matt Frye a’coming!

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A Young Lady Sings The Blues

The first time I saw Mary-Elaine Jenkins walk on stage I almost balked. TRS was at Goodbye Blue Monday to see Matt Frye. His set had ended, and I was starving. I ordered a cheap beer and a cheap burger. Intrepid photog, Andreea, and I shot the shit with Mr. Frye and his wife Rivka. Andreea snapped my favorite pic of me. It is a testament to her ability that she makes me and a junk store/bar look like a couple of class acts. Believe me, GBM is no swanky joint, and I am not that well put together.

Andreea makes me look not dumb looking.

Andreea makes me look not dumb looking.

The intrepid photog leaves. Matt and Rivka depart. I am alone with the burger I neglected to eat while chatting. Just off stage I notice a young blonde woman and a guitar strapped to her back. Cute, attractive, young—have I said young, yet? A few of her girlfriends pony up to the bar. All young, all pretty. I’m getting a sorority-sister vibe. I try to finish my burger before her set begins. To brace myself before she goes on I Google her. Blues singer. And, yes, this inevitable thought runs through my mind, “So, this pretty little white girl is going to attempt the blues.” I decide to stay for the first song so that I might have a funny little anecdote to add to my dinner party repertoire.

The first note of the first song… There came from her a smoky voice, a depth that belied her winsome face. But for that youthful angelic visage I had to turn my gaze. I stared down at my shoes for the length of her set, and did what you’re supposed to do with music. I listened. Her original songs were good; studied, deeply felt, and honest. Mary-Elaine did not put on airs. She announced her next tune as a Tom Waits cover. I thought, “Ok, little girl, you’re good, but let’s not overstep.” She sang Chocolate Jesus, and she sang it true. She found the soulful rhythms, and she found the dry, yet tongue-in-cheek humor. She succeeded in the one aspect of Tom Waits covering that many other talented professional and wannabe musicians fail at. She made no more of the song than what it is.Mary Elaine Jenkins

After her set, I gave her my card. After I left, I felt like a fool.

Mary-Elaine did not overcome the obstacle of being young, or being pretty to prove to me or whoever that she is a legit musician. She is talented. She is soulful as any, because any can be. “Pretty little white girl.” That was not the platform from which she ascended. That was me being an ass, me being a pretentious fuck who, if I’m being honest, thinks, though “believing” otherwise, that gender, race, and age cannot be transcended through music, or art. I am an ass, a pretentious fuck, which is what I would call any who told me I’m just some little white trash boy from the trailer park, and that my ability to speak well, or write well is but a cute trick of luck.

In some email exchanges Ms. Jenkins let me know she comes by her music, which she called spooky-sultry (which I like), from living in Savannah, Ga and hanging around the local guitar shop. That’ll do it. She told me some of her influences are Lucinda Williams, Bonnie Raitt, and Cat Power. I believe it.

After the first set, I knew I wanted to write about her (However, I didn’t think it’d turn into an apology), but I wanted to see a second show. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t wrong in thinking all the “more than a pretty young face” is worth the time it takes to write these posts (They take me longer than you‘d think. Because, I’m dumb, but a hard worker.). We saw her at Strong Place in Cobble Hill. I was nervous, nervous that Andreea would give me a queer look when the young, pretty singer walked in. I was, despite all the above well intentioned admittance and righteous self-deprecation, worried that I might have been entranced by beauty, and merely wishful in her merits as a songstress. Learning doesn’t always mean growing, folks. She came in with her guitar strapped to her back. Kindly, she said, hi, to myself and Andreea, and thanked us for coming. Some boys bellied up to the bar nearer to her. Andreea took her camera and flitted about the performer as she’s wont to do. I’m looking at the pretty, young girl thinking all the dumb thoughts from the night at GBM, not seeing her. She sings her song. I avert my eyes, gaze at my shoes, and listen. That’s her. And I am right about how good she is, and I am right about how dumb and unfair I can be, and I am grateful for the music and the lesson by the young woman and her you-done-me-wrong songs.

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No Rotten Apples Here

Last weekend TRS got to check out the Rotten Apple Roots & Bluegrass Halloween show at Union Hall.

Union HallI like Union Hall. Upstairs feels like a fancy college study hall. There are book lined wooden shelves. There is leather furniture on which to lounge as people come and go, and talk about comedic political news shows–in this muttering retreat. There are two bocce ball courts whose whimsy-seeming, deliberate presence feels a bit pretentious, more so than the books or the furniture, but I only say this out of spite because I’ve never had an opportunity to play due to its popularity. I love bocce ball. The academic atmosphere is a good cover for the music/entertainment venue Union Hall holds downstairs. It allows any of the myriad style shows, from comedy to techno-bluegrass, to appear as an independent study in culture, appreciation, and relevance to society at large. The irony runs high and sublime. I may not win any friends there saying it isUnion Hall 2 steeped in the brand of hipster that exults in the scholastic, the esoteric education that fills the pages of The Believer, and exactitude in knowledge of bands that will in time be as forgotten as any, or as played out as the rest. The establishment has an aim and it hits it mark. I like Union Hall. And if my back-handed compliment seems needlessly acerbic it is because the irony runs high, if not sublime, in me, as well. I used a T.S. Elliot phrase in this paragraph, I’ve had a subscription to both The Believer and McSweeney’s, and I write to you from my niche Brooklyn country music blog. So, let us go then, you and I, on this soft Halloween night, downstairs to hear the rockabillies, the fiddlers, southern gothic rockers, and banjo pickers while upstairs the people come and go, talking of comedic political news shows.

2 Cent Band 2First up was Seth Kessel and the 2 Cent Band, and boy was I pleased to at last hear some rockabilly! I have been hoping for this style of music since starting the blog, and was a feared that I’d have to make a special trek out to find it. Thankfully, it came to where I was already going to be at! I couldn’t tell if Mr. Kessel had come dressed up as a swinging rockabilly star, or if he was just himself. He and his band did a stellar cover of Elvis Presley’s “One Night With You.” On a side note I must give kudos to Alex Mallett (standing in on bass) whose costume consisting of a mix of sport clothing and business suit with loud, garish colors was dubbed “Clash Action Suit.”

Rotten Montge 2Second on stage was the Melody Allegra Band. It was Halloween, but it felt like my birthday, y’all! (I apologize for being blatantly corny, and dumb, and ugly, but most of you guys are dumb and ugly! [Sorry, that was uncalled for.]) A few days prior to this show I was openly wishing I could catch some fiddle playing in a show we covered. Melody Allegra Berger brought that fiddle! And she fiddled the shit out of that fiddle! To mine and the audience’s immense pleasure she closed with a cover of MJ’s “Thriller.”

B&B 3In the tertiary (Trying to get in more of that intellectual hoodoo I imbued in that first paragraph up there.) spot came a thundering Barefoot & Bankside with their usual earth quaking energy. A mummified Trisha Ivy joined them in a cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’s sexually charged “I Put A Spell On You.”

Up top, them's Dancegrass

Up top, them’s Dancegrass

Closing out the night was one of the most curious, and fascinating bands I’ve seen since that cracked motherfucker Matt Frye. Dancegrass was a banjo led bluegrass outfit with a modern as all hell twist. They plucked, and strummed over electronic beats. It mixed unsurprisingly very well! You can put a banjo over just about anything. Front man for Dancegrass is Alex Borsody and he put this show together, and got me and intrepid photog, Andreea, on the guest list—like bonafide journalists! So, congratulations to him and all the musicians for a great and successful show! Rotten Apple Roots & Bluegrass Halloween will be back next year, and, please, check out our calendar to see these BK Country folks out and about in the city.

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Coming Soon!

Been off the grid for a bit. Will be coming at you with the newness soon!

Things to look forward to: You’re gonna see our coverage of the Rotten Apple Roots & Bluegrass Halloween show at Union Hall, and it’s gonna make you feel soooo dumb for not being there! And if you were there, you’re gonna feel so rad!

Also, a new musician to TRS, the lady blues singer, Mary-Elaine Jenkins and her smoky voice.

This lady sings the blues, y'all!

This lady sings the blues, y’all!

AND some highlights of a candid conversation I had with Ms. Trisha Ivy, that she is unawares I’m reporting on!

Bridge Building

BridgesDylan Sneed organized an event called Bridges all by his damn self. That man will cull much magic into Brooklyn. You’ll see. Neither of us at TRS new exactly what it was going to be. Nor did most anyone else. Dylan’s description to me was that it would be akin to, let’s say, VH1’s Storytellers, or whatever. And I mean “whatever.” Because Dylan didn’t fully know. The first subject of the Bridges series was Chris Q. Murphy who I happened to run into at Roots Café. I asked him. He gave me the same “Storytellers” description, and a shrug of the shoulders. Intriguing.

Bridges 2My first encounters with Mr. Murphy were he playing along with other acts. I was introduced to him personally at Roots Café, and learned he is a music teacher in Brooklyn. It was also at Roots Café’s monthly evening of music that I finally heard Chris Q. Murphy. I attended because I was actually interested in someone else performing that night. I can’t remember who. I remember Chris and his guitar and his songs.

Chris Q. is a balladeer. He tells stories, and finely so. In this country/Americana scene in Brooklyn his music was the first I could connect with legitimately, technically. I don’t play no instrument, and cannot carry a tune in a bucket, so a large part of my witness to these talented musicians is that of wonder. But narrative I get. Narrative I’ve worked with, and work with for this here blog. So, hearing a complex narrative not only made plain and concise, but also set to music is its own brand of wonder for me. Also, strangely, it’s not something I normally go for in my listening life. In the thousands of songs I’ve amassed in my digital library, only a handful would be considered narrative or ballads (Ballad in its strictest definition, not 80s power ballad type stuff.). Perhaps because my life is centered around finding and working within a structured narrative that I go to more abstract or impressionistic lyrics when I go to unwind and have respite in a song. But when a story is good it’s good. Chris’s songs find significant literary achievement. He’s also fucking awesome on guitar.

Bridges 3So, I was eager to attend Bridges. It was held in an office space, which also contained a small record shop in the back—for some reason. Really, to get to Permanent Records vinyl record shop one must go into the office building, get to the second floor, and walk past a series of desks around to the back for the small makeshift record store. It’s literally playing hide-and-seek with you. A bit of this office space was cleared out and reset with café style table and seating arrangements. Music was first and foremost, but in between songs Chris engaged with the audience. He discussed the merits of a listener knowing whether or not the subjects in his stories were fictitious or lifted from real life. He passed out little notebooks and pencils and asked the audience to compare and contrast two songs that share themes but mete them out in different tempos and points of view. It wasn’t a class. Dylan and Chris had turned the concert into a conversation. Chris, a funny man, did well to make it breezy and natural. There was no PBS pretention of doling out lessons in appreciation. By the end he had everyone singing along.

It would seem that Bridges made its destination and was a success. TRS looks forward to more of such shows. Cheers to Dylan, and cheers to Chris, y’all!

Banjos & Guitars at Pianos

The other night intrepid photog and I caught Alex Mallett and Dylan Sneed playing solo sets at Pianos on the LES. What was heard was awesome! What was had was fun!

I very much enjoy Alex backed by his band, but this night I was entreated to just the man and his banjo, and sometimes guitar. I’ve noted on this blog before that the banjo makes my favorite noise in this world. Better than the bird’s song it is. Better than the laughter of a child it is. Better, even, than a whispered “I need you” from a fine-ass lover who lays bare naked, biting her lip, and ready to go. Yes, better, even, than that.

When it comes to the ol’ banjo, I like it best when it’s up front and in charge of the show. I enjoy to a lesser extent when it is relegated to the background and its purpose is to harmonize and provide a little rattle. And when that ol’ banjo is front and center, I like it two ways. The first, when it’s a slow dripping pluck like Dock Boggs. Secondly, damn it, I like when that tinny li’l sumbitch is banged on. Alex Mallett is a banger. I may have been sitting but I couldn’t stop my foot from stomping in time.

Sammi, Alex’s newly wedded wife, sang a couple of numbers with her man. It was a sweet noise, I can swear to you that. It was a sweet sight, and Andreea’s photos will prove it.

Pianos 1 low res

Dylan Sneed seems to have won over everyone in the Roots Family scene. I met him as a barista at Roots Café. He’s a funny man. Supremely easy going. There is a profundity to the breeziness of his conversation, and the soft handed acceptance of all ideas put forth to him. The more I come to know him, the more of the Buddha I see in him.

Pianos 2 low res

His songs are uncomplicated. This is a feat that usually comes from the studious, and the obsessive. When I think of Dylan’s sweet, James Taylor-esque tunes, I think of the main character in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Blue Beard.” The main character, Rabo Karabekian, is an artist who in his early career could paint photo realistic scenes masterfully. The artist didn’t find fame and fortune until he started doing more abstract expressionist pieces. At a gallery a man approached him. The man was unnerved and asked why Karabekian bothered with such “easy” pieces, and that his five year old child could paint this abstract stuff. Karabekian agreed, and said but the child could not paint this, and drew to a wonderfully detailed degree a real life scene. He then referred back to his new work on display, which was just a couple of colored lines on blank canvas, and said he paints this simple way because he has options.

Dylan has options, y’all.

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Cracked Out

matt 3I have been hoping to see a Matt “Cracked” Frye show since I first saw his short set at Roots Family Reunion. TRS finally caught up to him at Goodbye Blue Monday. GBM is an old stomping ground of mine from my early, miserable days in Brooklyn. I lived a few stops down on the J train from the eclectic venue near the Halsey Station, the east side of Bushwick. Back then all of B-wick was hood. I laid in a tiny room I was renting terrified that I would never find a job. Sometimes I think I heard gun shots. If I left my building after midnight there’d be drug dealers posted on the street corners, and prostitutes displaying themselves along Broadway. One time a thick, busty lady of the night was trickin’ out in the rain in a next-to-nothing tube top and skirt. To would-be johns she called out, “I’m already wet, baby, let’s have a good time!” She politely refused my umbrella.

In winter, at our nation’s brokest time I was standing in job lines next to Harvard grads, and ex-Wall Street employees. We were all waiting in the freezing cold, the snow and slush for some janitorial type job. All of us turned down for some congenial 20-something. Disappointed and crestfallen, I’d return home to that little more than a closet of a bedroom and despair over the possibility of having to return to my home in Georgia and move back in with my mama. Survival in this economically bullying city seemed an impossibility. There were many nights of distress.

Five-six years later, I’m back in Bushwick enjoying the hell out of a Matt Frye show. A good quality beer in my hand, at the joint that used to be my haven for free entertainment and $3 PBR on tap. I arrived a little late because GBM is now out of the way of my new digs where I’ve yet to hear a gunshot in the night. Andreea, intrepid photographer, was already snapping away at Matt. Mr. Frye stuck out like a sore thumb at the Roots Family Reunion show, but there amid GBM’s antique junk, bad art, and random curios he looked more in his element.

I have described his music before, here. So, give that a look over and/or give a listen to the music posted here.


Matt is from North Carolina. Charlotte. I was surprised to learn he started out in electronic music down there, which knowing how the majority of southern folks are, I’m sure it was in some way a “fuck you” to his surroundings, to his culture. My culture. Our culture. Then he moved to NYC, and out came the Americana, the Appalachian folkie with the Woody Guthrie “trick” in his voice. Back home, my home, his home, shoddy lip-serviced tradition and commonality are shoveled upon one in heaps. It is no wonder we slide into our punk states of mind. A lot of who I am is because looking at my trailer park neighbors then, I only had one image of myself in mind for the future. Anyone but them.

Matt Frye 2aThat’s why books and Leonard Cohen instead of football and Garth Brooks. That’s why rap music and dressing gangsta—until that became socially acceptable to the rednecks who wanted nothing to do with black people as individuals, but would steal and appropriate, as ever, their culture. After that that’s why I wore chokers, and long hair. Because, wild aimless expression over agreement, over broken polite-society. I wonder what that proto-Jody would think of me now as I have succeeded in making it out of that town and into NYC only to seek out southern/country culture. I would tell him whether he realizes it or not, (he didn’t) he was seeded by those things he swore himself against. He could let those seeds germinate and take root in that place of lip-serviced tradition and broken polite-society, and become just another. He didn’t. Or, he could hold them close instead, buck the trends and traditions, give himself to the wind and see what new things can come of old seeds in other worlds. He can cull from the old a new purpose, new point of view, unhindered by tradition, un-buffered by commonality.

Matt Frye 1

Of course, Matt “Cracked” Frye chose that old folkie sound. Maybe he heard it as a babe, or a young man, but knew that it was America’s original “fuck you” music. They were bucking against government, and social norms/injustice well before rap, rock and roll, and even country western music. Of course, he imbued it with a modern urban punk sensibility. Of course he stuck out like a sore thumb before that crowd that came to Roots Family Reunion to hear that traditional old-timey music with their friends from church. He’s an intelligent, kind and funny man, but he’s also one cracked motherfucker. What the hell else was he gonna do?

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Viva Revival! (or something. hard to title this one.)

untitled

The proposal has been made that TRS go to church. Specifically Trinity Grace Church, where a lot of the Roots Family attend and have met one another. I am having trouble with this idea. The trouble mostly being that I’m overthinking it. We should get that out of the way upfront. You see, when I left my home in Georgia I had made an unofficial vow to never set foot in a church again. “Vow” is used lightly. I’m an atheist. I don’t go to church because I have no need to. I’m not actively refusing entry into any temple. It’s more in the vain that I don’t drive, so I don’t go walking into any car lots.

I have no ill will here. I’m not afraid of anyone being weird or everyone trying to save me, or witness to me. Honestly, I’m mostly afraid of being bored. That’s the thing with non-crazy, non-cultish Christian gatherings. The regular ones, the “normal” ones bore me to tears. Or have. It’s been forever since I’ve sat through any sermon.

Of course, I’d be in church every day of the week if Nick Cave were leading the choir!

I’ve been racking my brain to remember the last time I was in a church. It was probably the girl who is gone now. She was Catholic. After much cajoling, she finally got me to attend service with her family. The chanting, the habitual responses, the ritualistic standing and kneeling—I remember thinking “this is how Baptists think satanic church goes.” I also remember being unimpressed. My only idea of Catholic church at the time was from TV and movies, which made it seem so romantic, and holy-as-all-hell. In reality it was, well, more realistic; meaning, not very dramatic at all. The preacher droned on like any other preacher. Every “normal” service I’ve been to seemed so rote. Every day you work, come home, fix supper, and watch TV. Every Sunday you go to church, sit there, stand there, go home, fix lunch, and watch TV.

So, I’m about to embark on hipster church. I don’t mean to use the term “hipster” snidely. I mean to separate it from cool-kid church, because I hope that it is something different from cool-kid church, which to me was when they let the youth do rap songs, and heavy metal songs. Hipster church, and perhaps I’ll find a new name for it, is more millennial in my mind. For example, they might fucking cuss, because what would a god care? Or in regards to homosexuals, they drop the whole “love the sinner, hate the sin” deal and simply don’t feel any sin has been committed, because what would a god care about anybody’s genitals? That’s weird, right? War, famine, women and children the world over shit upon, and the only things a god makes itself clear on is shellfish and where penises go. Anyway, I shouldn’t be writing about this while half-lit.

I reckon I’ll see y’all at church!

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Eat, Drink, and Be Married

A gang of Perfect Strangers

A gang of Perfect Strangers

Alex Mallett LThe other night I was at J’eatjets’s bar. I was minding my own. Then I spied a drunken band of merry-makers clad in the same t-shirt that bore the image of either Balki Bartokomous’s cousin Larry or Alex Mallett. I believe I saw Gypsy George in the shuffling gang, and know that I saw Justin Kilburn (of That Moon) because he stopped and saluted me. It turns out they were Alex Mallet’s bachelor party. I thought to myself, huh, I guess things go on in these musicians’ lives without me. Imagine that. It got me thinking that since The Trisha Chronicle I’ve not been commenting on BK Country as diligently as I should.

Firstly, let us congratulate Alex and Sammie on their upcoming wedding!

Alex & Sammie sittin' in a tree, hopefully not interrupted by Chris Murphy

Alex & Sammie sittin’ in a tree, hopefully not interrupted by Chris Murphy

Alex04A few weeks back, myself and intrepid photographer, Andreea, attended the Alex Mallett Band show at Hometown BBQ that was put on to support his crowdfunding effort for his new CD “Eyes Wide Open.” I’m happy to report he made his goal, and the album will be let out into the world. Alex is a swell guy, and he and his band are excellent musicians. This is a fine and fair thing that has come to be in a world notorious for how un-fine and unfair it can be.

JD Patch 2That night, TRS met Hometown’s GM, Mitch Rosen, and on his advice the intrepid photographer and I returned the next night for JD Patch. JD’s show can only be described as a big ol’ time! I heard the old honkytonk sound I missed from younger days when at the juke joint of ill-repute in my hometown, a place called Mudcats that no longer exists except in story. JD’s music is quite a bit more ribald than these other musicians and bands that I have followed on this blog. He sings about drinkin’, weed smokin’, and skirt chasin’. I think I heard references to hard-ons. He even covered degenerate redneck David Allen Coe. I met JD Patch after his show. He told me he grew up an army brat. He also said he came to his good ol’ boy sound by way of being a hip-hop producer. I know, I, too, was like, “the hell you say!” He was flipping through stacks of records one day and came across some country. The twang just lit him up. I would have guessed he’d been rocking country his whole life.

Alex and kid at Hometown

I’ve seen a few shows at Hometown BBQ now, and expect to see more. It has a most excellent country vibe by design. I’m not an advocate of slapping one’s own mama, but the food is such that, well, you might just slap yo’ mama on account of it’s so goddamn good! The joint doesn’t just get listed in top-tens of the city, but in the whole country, too. I’m also pleased by how diverse the patrons are. Everybody sits down to Hometown’s share tables. I like what good food does. I like what good music does. And whatever hard-edged concerns I have leftover, well, I like  what good booze does.

The Intrepid Photog marveling at Google Cardboard

The Intrepid Photog marveling at Google Cardboard at Hometown BBQ

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