Tag Archives: Vic Chesnutt

Christmas Eve with Vic Chesnutt

Christmas is all about the gathering of loved ones in our home; about sharing and reveling in the joy we bring each other. One thing that has brought me great joy for much of my adult life is the music of Vic Chesnutt. Sadly, Vic took his life on Christmas day 2009, and since that time I have made it a tradition to share Vic’s music here on Christmas eve. This year, I have chosen the track Granny from his last studio album, At The Cut. This is a live version from his final Canadian tour, and it captures all the things I love about Vic… his openness, his wit and his ocean-sized heart.

Thank you Vic… and thank you to everyone who has been a part of this increasingly extended blog family. 2012 has been a year of wonder and growth and 2013 has already got excitement written all over it.

Travel safe…


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Two years ago tomorrow, Vic Chesnutt left this world to walk on another shore… at the time, Efrim Manuel Menuck from Silver Mt Zion wrote: best ever, gone. So each year at Christmas time, I feel a stronger than usual urge to listen to Vic’s epic body of work. Here’s one that is fitting for the season… hope your festive season is filled with warmth.


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Long Live The Independent Music Store

Vancouver and San Francisco sure have some amazing independent music stores and I made the most of them, as while I was away, I heard the news that Brisbane’s last bastion of independent music, Rocking Horse Records was in trouble.

These three stores blew my mind and my budget:

Red Cat Records:

Located out on the very cool Main St. drag, Red Cat is locally owned and run by artists and has a mighty fine catalogue of independent CD’s & vinyl, both new and second hand. While I was there I picked up a copy of Dark Developments by Vic Chesnutt & Elf Power with Amorphous Strums, Gone, a collection of Mono’s early EP’s & David Bazan’s self-titled album, none of which are easy to come by on these shores!

Here’s Vic with Elf Power blowing off some live steam:

Zulu Records:

Zulu have been flying the independent music flag in Vancouver since 1981. After discovering the wonders of their vast second hand catalogue in 2008 on my last visit to Vancouver, I couldn’t wait to get back and make my slow trawl through every CD. Nothing over $6 and boy did I pull out some gems… Vic ChesnuttNorth Star Deserter, TindersticksCurtains and Simple Pleasure and Jack Kerouac’s Readings on The Beat Generation (deluxe little fold out postcard packaging). For mine, the best independent music store in Vancouver.

Amoeba Records:

This place is like nothing I have ever seen… picture walking into a warehouse filled with every CD imaginable and you are pretty close to the mark. And the staff… incredibly knowledgeable and delightfully friendly. They even remove overly feisty customers (aka as aggressive & disorderly) in the most gentle manner. It is touted to be the World’s Largest Independent Music Store and I am a firm believer! If you have not yet found this place (they have a great mail order service as well), then prepare your wallet. I can’t even begin to list all of the discs we bought, but a couple of the real gems were Efrim Manuel Menuck Plays High Gospel, Tarentel’s (San Franciscan Instrumental Legends) Paper White and We Move Through Weather and the most amazing 4xCD box set, Howls, Raps & Roars, featuring Ginsberg, McClure, Meltzer, Ferlinghetti, Rexroth, Whalen, Welch & Lenny Bruce.

And speaking of David Meltzer, here he is reading at the launch of his latest book, When I Was A Poet at City Lights. It’s a pretty amazing 23minutes… we only just missed being able to be there, but more on City Lights in another post.

Needless to say, our stereo has a fine supply of music and poetry to get us through the winter (and then some!).


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Speed Racer

                                    for Vic

He’s leaving again, carrying the weight of
on his back, the small acts of life.

He knows that other cities are no different
that roads have no measure and all distance is foolish.


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Merry Christmas, I miss Vic Chesnutt…

One year ago tomorrow, Vic joined his heroes in the great beyond. The first I heard of it was through the Silver Mt Zion website… it simply said:

best ever, gone.

I have continually gone back to Vic’s music throughout the year (and will continue to do so as long as I am breathing), the album, West of Rome, having the strongest pull. This album sounds more vital with every listen and seems to embody what I love best about Vic’s work… a delicate balance of strength and frailty.

Today, I miss Vic… so I have been watching his Tiny Desk Concert on NPR. It is a killer 5-song set featuring one of my all time favourite tracks, Panic Pure (West of Rome). If like me, you are also missing Vic, I hope this helps and if you are yet to discover his work, then I hope this shifts you out the door and down to your local independent record store to pick up one of his albums.

Journey safe into the holiday season…


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Memories of The Troubadour

It’s some sad days here in Brisbane at present, as one of our best loved music venues, The Troubadour, closed its doors for the last time on Sunday night. Live music venues everywhere are under the pump… pokies have encroached on their space, noise restrictions have proved hobbling and the continually rising price of the real estate they occupy is making it difficult to keep the doors open.

Brisbane is infamous for losing venues… Cloudland, Festival Hall, The Alley Bar to name just a few and frankly we just couldn’t afford to lose another one! And as I write this there is word that The Globe Theatre is also looking down the barrel of closing. The only way to stop the bleeding is to get out and see some live music (or poetry for that matter). I know I am dusting off  my dancing shoes over the next couple of weeks and am heading out to see:

Our Talons, Lion Island + Steve Grady @ The Zoo, Wednesday November 24

The Church (30th Anniversary Tour) @ The Judith Wright Centre, November 25

The Lemonheads @ The Zoo, November 30

Am super excited about all shows!

I have also been reminiscing about my favourite moments at The Troubadour and while I can’t narrow it down to one show, these are some of the shows I will have lasting memories of:

Vic Chesnutt – Well, I am forever thankful I got to see the man play… he was assisted onto the stage in his wheelchair, his frame, ghostly thin, but when he opened his mouth, there was a force in his voice, and a sharpness of wit, that hit me in the gut and held me transfixed. His version of Sponge that night is still reverberating somewhere inside me.

The Fauves – They were launching When Good Times Go Good and man, did they go good that night! Coxy was at his ascerbic best and the band were hotter than minimum chips! Fight Me I’m Forty stirred everyone in the crowd from their spot on the floor or their comfy cushion (how I will miss the comfort of that venue).

Lou Barlow – Had just seen Dinosaur Jr a couple of days earlier and the ears were still ringing, so Lou’s lo-fi folk masterpieces were just the tonic I needed. He was in fine form too, bantering with the crowd and playing every song from his then recently released EMOH as well as a stack of Sebadoh, Folk Implosion and Sentridoh tracks. In fact, he played such an exhaustive set, people were calling out for Lou to play some of Jason’s (Lowenstein) songs as well.

And I couldn’t complete this post without mentioning The Gin Club who I saw there many times and who fittingly took the stage for the last time on Sunday night. They made the place their home away from home and never failed to put a smile on the punter’s faces.

So what are your memories of The Troubadour? Let’s keep them alive…


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The New Folk pt X

Sunday is shedding its light, but never fear… this handful of songs are perfect for the approaching darkness. They have been shining their light in my world of late and it has been brighter for it. Enjoy the last hours of your weekend…

Worst Friend – Vic Chesnutt

At the Cut has been on high rotation for this Lost Shark in 2010, so I was thrilled when I finally got my hands on a copy of Vic’s other album from 2009, Skitter On Take Off, recorded live in the studio with Jonathan Richman. This is classic Chesnutt… no overdubs, just the man, his beaten acoustic guitar and some very minimal backing. Lyrically Chesnutt seems to tap the global psyche, writing songs that make you stop and wonder, was that written for me? Worst Friend is one of those songs. I don’t think there is anyone alive that couldn’t put a name to at least one of the friend’s Chesnutt sings about… and the Wheel of Fortune guy sounds hilarious!

Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent pts I & II – The Besnard Lakes

Montreal ensemble, The Besnard Lakes have created another epic album – Are The Roaring Night – that rolls out of your stereo, like a driving wave. Part I slowly builds until Jace Lasek’s falsetto erupts over peaks of psychedelic guitar swirls and rumbling percussion. Rather than be constrained by the convention of a song, The Besnard Lakes create sonic landscapes of tension and beauty. Close your eyes for this one and let yourself be plunged headlong into the roaring night.

King of Spain – The Tallest Man on Earth

Scandanavian folksinger, Kristian Matsson has followed up his 2008 debut Shallow Grave with The Wild Hunt, an effortless album of raspy vocals and crackling acoustic guitar. And while there is nothing new about this sound, The Tallest Man On Earth does it better than most. He has tapped the roots of American music to write an album of earnest, front porch poetry that will have you smiling before the first four bars have rolled.

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Vic Chesnutt – Everything I Say

Since the tragic loss of Vic Chesnutt on Christmas Day 2009, I have been delving deep into his albums, and with each listen they uncover greater musical and lyrical depth… as it says on the A Silver Mt Zion website, one of the greatest ever is gone.

This track from his 2007 album North Star Deserter, showcases Vic teamed up with members of A Silver Mt Zion, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Fugazi and captures the power of their wildly successful collaboration. Vic’s incredible take on folk/blues has never sounded more impassioned…

Listen to this as loud as your computer speakers will allow and let the genius of Vic Chesnutt kick your Saturday into another dimension.

                                                              Everything I Say

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Flirted With You All My Life – the passing of Vic Chesnutt

On Christmas day, when heads were counted, the world was one short… the genius of Vic Chestnutt was no longer with us. 


I discovered the intensely poetic music of Chesnutt in the last few years, courtesy of the 2005 album Ghetto Bells. It’s raw immediacy, kicked me hard and I was captured. I hadn’t heard a voice so honest in many years; Vic’s straight-up drawl, battered guitar lines and hard-won wisdom resonated from the opening note of Virginia and didn’t let up until long after album closer Gnats had played. The album came back to me in the quiet moments, snatches of lyric firing my synapses and stinging my heart:

I am trying to stitch this one to all the rest of them
But the seams will split, collide and cleave
Neopolitan ice cream is never truly integrated until it’s too late

‘from Vesuvius’

the schemer looked down upon the screamer
like buried treasure
he nursed me and cherished me
and trained me to be
what is here in front of you
a ticket to see, a ticket to see
fate has been so good to me
you may not understand
how I can be thankful to be where I am
to be where I am

‘from Ignorant People’

And earlier this year, I had the immense pleasure of seeing Vic play at The Troubador (see earlier post The World Is A Sponge). He was mesmeric, and seeing him only deepened my love and respect for his music. The last few years had been intensely creative, in fact since recording his debut, Little in 1990 (with the help of REM’s Micheal Stipe), Chesnutt had never been content to rest on past achievements releasing more than a dozen solo albums and collaborating on many others. Described as ‘prolific, profound, and ever full of potty-mouthed piss-and-vinegar – Vic Chesnutt is Prometheus in a wheelchair’. His contribution to the world will always be cherished and his all-to-early death at 45, forever mourned.

To close, here’s the haunting track from Vic’s most recent album, At The Cut, I Flirted With You All My Life, described as a break-up letter to his own suicidal thoughts.

More news is available via his record label, Constellation Records.

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