Tag Archives: Vic Chestnutt

The New Folk VI

 Well, this may possibly be my last post until December 29, as I am jetting off to Tasmanian waters for a few days and may not get near enough to a computer to make an update… so to sign off on what has been an amazing year, here’s a handful of songs to soundtrack these glorious summer days. To all of the people who have read this blog – whether you be a regular, a sporadic visitor, or a fly-by-nighter – thank you. I am already looking forward to an exciting 2010 as there are many projects bubbling away. Big love to you all…

Orenda Fink: That Certain-Something Spring

Orenda Fink’s sophomore solo album blends her love of traditional American folk music and Gothic literature. Recorded live in a basement and a lounge room , the album has that wistful melancholoy that has become the trademark of quality home produced folk. Orenda’s thick as honey voice sails in and out of the mandolin, accordion and saw that give this album a southern tinge. The perfect music to slow time… most definitely an album to curl up with.


Port O’Brien: My Will Is Good

Taken from their third longplayer, Threadbare, this showcases a stripped back sound for Port O’Brien. The album swells like a lung full of salt air, not surprising given Van Pierszalowski spends much of his year working on a salmon fishing boat. This album is making lots of the Best of 2009 lists, and for good reason. It is elegant in its simplicity, dramatic in its craft and brings a pop sensibilty to the folk tradition.


Vic Chestnutt – Coward

Lyrically, there are few singer/songwriters with the literary prowess of Vic Chestnutt and he doesn’t disappoint on his latest release, At The Cut. Released earlier in the year, At The Cut sees Vic team up for the second time with members of Montreal collectives, A Silver Mt. Zion and Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Fugazi. Its a darkly explosive combination, blending Chestnutt’s distinctively simple vocals and guitar playing style with the often mesmeric wail of strings and guitars that Godspeed and Silver Mt. Zion have made their own.


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The World is a Sponge… a night with Vic Chestnutt



Last night I had the extreme pleasure of witnessing American underground legend, Vic Chestnutt playing his sparse blend of warts & all folk rock at The Troubadour. From the get go, this was always going to be something special… Vic touting that he was going to take us through his back catalogue, playing a song from each album, opening with Mr Reilly off his 1990 debut Little. With only his battered acoustic and voice, the poetry of his lyrics cut straight through…

well there’s a Mr. Reilly who swears
that in Baton Rouge Louisiana,
they don’t care about, his philosophy
he swears that any time in Baton Rouge
everything is the same

Then it was on to 1991’s West of Rome and the song Sponge with Chestnutt howling,

and when the crisis passes
when the coast is clear
I’ll be buffed down to a liquid
and the world, world, world it is a sponge

We were also treated to Supernatural (from 1993’s, Drunk), Gravity of the Situation (from 1995’s Is the Actor Happy?) and closer, Florida (West of Rome), with Vic aptly joking, that over here, you could change Florida to Gold Coast and have it ring true.

Florida, Florida, the redneck riviera
Florida, Florida, there’s no more pathetic place in America

I bantered with Vic to have him play Vesuvius, but hey, you can’t have everything. If you have never had the pleasure check out these lyrics…



Trying to clip the creek to the bank with a clothes pin
Waterlogged system, rusty spring, faulty planning
Logic squeezed out like mustard at a corndog
Hypertension is not wisdom, chewing the leather straps
Trying to hold the sun still with a bobby pin
Burned fingers. excellent conductor of heat
Private fantasies are not public policy
Christian charity is a doily over my death boner
Busy work is not the Great Wall of China
Vanity bamboo hut out back behind the big house
Pretend is salve for whitey-boy guilt
Furiously slapping at the moon with a cane pole
Trying to prop up the heavens with a fresh flat pencil
Some folks are allergic to rubber
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
Trying to stop the bleeding with scotch tape
Platelets spoil adhesion, fire up the cauterizing iron
It’s a branding of necessity not scarification
Bliss was a pimple that I tried to pop
It erupted up and out on my countenance
Ugly eruption, Vesuvius, ugly eruption, Vesuvius
Ugly eruption, Vesuvius
Vesuvius at myself, Vesuvius at myself


For all those who saw the show (and there were not enough of them…), I am sure they are like me, smiling, dusting off the records and singing duets with Vic, loud enough for the neighbour’s to hear.

And for those who don’t have any records to sing along with, check out these four clips detailing the making of his classic 2005 album, Ghetto Bells… great stuff.

Ghetto Bells part 1

Ghetto Bells part 2

Ghetto Bells part 3

Ghetto Bells part 4

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The Stress of Leisure vs Dark Night of the Soul

This morning I set out into the beautiful drizzle to catch The Stress of Leisure at Tognini’s Cafe (State Library) as part of fete de la musique. And I have to say (despite the venue not being prepared for wet weather) it was great to see The Stress in relaxed troubadour style, bantering with the early morning coffee crowd; dusting off tracks from both albums as well as throwing in a new track and a cover of The Modern Lovers classic, Pablo Picasso. For all those in Brisbane (and beyond) who have not yet become a Leisure Seeker, you can catch the band playing at The Treasury Casino on Thursday, July 23 or alternatively, check out their clip to House and Garden. Great stuff!




And now as the morning slips into afternoon and the rain starts to play its wild timpani on my roof, I totally recommend you check out Dark Night of the Soul. It is a collaboration between Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse and David Lynch… now that is an interesting mix of minds. Throw into the mix guest appearances by Iggy Pop, Frank Black, Vic Chestnutt, Suzanne Vega & The Flaming Lips and you have a mesmerising, hypnotic soundscape that slips dreamlike through your body.

Sadly, the album may never officially be released due to complications between Danger Mouse and EMI, but never fear, you can listen to the whole album at the moment on NPR, so do yourself a favour on this Sunday afternoon; get comfortable and let yourself enter the Dark Night of the Soul.

Press play here.


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For the love of lyrics – Jamie Hutchings & Vic Chestnutt

For those with a love of great lyrics, there are some incredibly talented artists coming to Brisbane in the next few months. Two acts particularly have got this Lost Shark in a frenzy.


Jamie Hutchings live at QPF 2007

Jamie Hutchings live at QPF 2007


First up on Thursday July 11 is Jamie Hutchings and His Imaginary Choir at The Troubadour . Jamie Hutchings is the softly-spoken, thoughtful son of a jazz musician, bitten by the bug of rock ‘n’ roll. His life-long passion is and always has been music, the creation of music, the joy and pain of it all. And like so many great Australian artists he has never truly received the attention he so richly deserves. The songs on His Imaginary Choir are a departure from the angular, more aggressive material he is best known for, fronting indie-noise pioneers Bluebottle Kiss. This time around he is in acoustic mode, creating a record that has a pastoral, summery feel, tinged with 1960’s exotica. Lyrically, Hutchings is ahead of the pack. Take these lyrics from Slow Train to a Comfy Jail (from Come Across) for example:

and only heaven could taste as good as this
but there’s no room for our fractured fists
scrawled my name on the wall with a piece of rusty wire
and felt the night extinguish me with its cool cool fire
I spent seven years without my good wife
til I found her laundering incarcerated bed clothes
found her eyes had to censor a smile
and had to go the gods would know
and I don’t know how cold it gets
do you wanna come home?

Yes, this is a show, as anyone who caught him at Queensland Poetry Festival in 2007 would attest to, is one not to be missed.

Here’s a link to the clip for After the Flood, the lead single from the new album.


And for a bit of fun, here is a link to a poetry game on the Bluebottle Kiss site:



Vic Chestnutt


Then when July rolls around, American folk-rock innovator Vic Chestnutt hits town with Victoria Williams. Since the late 80’s Chestnutt has been perfecting his curiously aching stream of consciousness lullabies. He sums up his uncompromising lyrical style perfectly when he says, Other people write about the bling and the booty. I write about the pus and the gnats. To me, that’s beautiful. Like Hutchings, Chestnutt is one of those artists who while never breaking into mainstream consciousness has earned the deep respect of his musical peers. He has recorded with artists as diverse as A Silver Mt. Zion, Michael Stipe (REM), Lambchop and Van Dyke Parks and had his songs covered by everyone from Madonna to the Smashing Pumpkins. Simply put, he is an extraordinary talent and this is his first ever Australian tour, so make sure you catch the magic when he plays the Troubadour on Saturday July 11.

Here’s a link to Chestnutt playing live with members of Godspeed! You Black Emperor, A Silver Mt Zion and Fugazi.



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