Friday, June 22, 2007

TERRELL'S TUNEUP: FOR YOUR THAMUSEMEANT

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
June 22, 2007

ThaMuseMeant at 1999 Folk Alliance conference, Albuquerque, NM

ThaMuseMeant fled Santa Fe for the Pacific Northwest a few years ago, but their fans here still think of them as local (just as we did a few years before that, when they fled Santa Fe for Austin, Texas).

They’ve been together in various configurations for nearly 15 years. Original members Nathan Moore, Aimee Curl, and David Tiller are still there. I do miss drummer Jeff Sussman, who made the band rock in the early days. But Enion Pelta, who has been in the group for the last four or five years, is a strong addition. Her gypsy-style violin plays off Tiller’s mandolin to give ThaMuseMeant its special flavor.

The group’s latest album, Never Settle For Less, shows that Moore is still writing some well-crafted and occasionally hilarious songs.

The one that nearly made me wreck my car last week is “Unprotected,” which begins with Moore, sounding more like Dean Martin than he ever has in his life, crooning, “I’ve had unprotected sex tons of times.” The lyrics go on to praise psychedelic drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and all sorts of vices. This is terribly irresponsible and sends a terrible message to the children. I think it’s my favorite track on the album.

Curl’s strongest moment comes in “Nowhere From Here to Go,” a slow, lonesome folksy/country tune suited perfectly to her backwoods warble.

If you want more of Moore, he’s got a new solo album, In His Own Worlds, featuring various Frogville Records regulars and other local music luminaries.
NATHAN MOORE “Understand Under” is a Dylan-ish, bluesy rocker about scrambled ambitions. “I want to be fluent in every language/ I want to be a painter, the next Abbie Hoffman/I want to be the mayor of my hometown in the Blue Ridge Mountains/I got to get there more often.”

All the songs here are originals, save “Wandering Aengus,” an adaptation of a William Butler Yeats poem. The late Dave Van Ronk did a version of this, but Moore’s is far more upbeat. There’s a short but head-turning violin solo by Pelta.

The dual CD release party for ThaMuseMeant and Nathan Moore is at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 27, at Santa Fe Brewing Company. The cover charge is $10.00 at the door. Also playing is Tiller and Pelta’s group Taarka. It’s the first (and probably will be the only) performance by ThaMuseMeant in New Mexico this year. For information, call 424-3333.

Also recommended:
GOSHEN
*Lioness by Goshen. Like ThaMuseMeant, Goshen is one of the founding Frogville Records bands. Basically, Goshen is singer/songwriter/guitarist Grant Hayunga plus the fabulous Palmer brothers from Hundred Year Flood (Bill on keyboards, Jim on drums).

During Goshen’s intense late-night performance at last year’s Thirsty Ear Festival, I had the revelation that this music is what people who condemn the blues hear right before they die and go to Hell. Lioness only reinforces that.

For the rest of us, Goshen can be heavenly. Hayunga’s crazy slide guitar and his voice, gliding between inspired mumble and sweet croon, are irresistible.

This album seems to be more sonically diverse than past Goshen efforts. There are still the frantic, sweaty rockers I love so well (“Hate to Say Goodnight,” “Jackrabbit,” “They Grew Wild For You”), but there are plenty of mid-tempo and slower numbers, too. And Hayunga seems to be paying more attention to his vocals here. Some of the songs sound downright pretty.

One of my favorites is “Gun Blue,” an easy-paced tune where the slide guitar slithers like a snake. You expect it to turn around and pounce any minute.

Then there’s “To Begin Again,” which starts off as a 90 mph joyride to doom then slows to a screeching halt, with Bill Palmer playing organ like Lurch on The Addams Family. It goes through this cycle at least a couple of times and before you know it, the song melts into the next track, the slow, foreboding, organ-heavy “Son of a Gun,” a psychedelic masterpiece lost in time.

*Heartaches & Honky-Tonks by Bill Hearne’s Roadhouse Revue. The Frogville factory apparently has been cranking around the clock in recent weeks. Hearne is a longtime Santa Fe favorite, and hard-core honky-tonk is his specialty. As the title implies, he’s in his element here.

BILL HEARNE & CATHY FABERHe’s got a hot little band behind him — Augé Hays on steel, Bob Goldstein on guitar, Cathy Faber on bass, and rotating drummers who include Pete Amahl, Chris Carpenter, and Mark Clark. Plus, there’s a bevy of guest musicians including fiddle great Johnny Gimble. Hearne’s wife and longtime musical partner Bonnie shows up for a duet with Bill on “Somewhere Between,” a Merle Haggard/Bonnie Owens song.

And as the name of the group suggests, this is a review. Bill Hearne steps back and lets Faber sing lead on a couple of tunes, which is a real treat. My favorite Faber track here is “Wishful Thinking,” an old Wynn Stewart two-stepper.

Some of the songs might seem overly familiar — “Close Up the Honky-Tonks,” Sing Me Back Home,” “Wine Me Up.” But Hearne loves this music so much and he puts so much of himself into the material that he gives these standards a freshness that lesser performers could never reach.
For more information on ThaMuseMeant, Goshen, and Bill Hearne’s Roadhouse Revue, see The Frogville site.

*Lucky 13 by Mike Montiel. Here’s an artist who grew up in Santa Fe and has played guitar in bars around here probably longer than he’d like to admit. I think the first time I saw him was in the ’70s in the Turf Club, when he was with The Ozone Express.

On his first solo album, which he co-produced with Española singer Steve Chavez, Montiel presents 13 original tunes in various styles.

There are blues rockers like the opening song “You Can’t Trust a Woman” and “Watch Who You’re Hurtin’”; acoustic blues like “Been Gone So Long”; country tunes like “I Thought You Were Somebody Else” and “You Don’t Care,” which sounds like a long-lost Mavericks track; outright rockers like “Redemption” (where he lets loose the wah-wah); and Spanish-flavored songs like the instrumental “After the Gunfight.”

Several cuts here are instrumentals, spotlighting Montiel on electric as well as acoustic guitars.

My favorite is a breezy blues ballad called “Love Me Again.” Montiel “cries” some of the lines. It’s pretty and tough at the same time.

For more information e-mail Montiel.

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