Several weeks ago, A-town friends Russ and Mark were down in O-town for a show. Mark being a self proclaimed Cline-head, Russ being what Nels describes as “the 5th non-silent member of The Nels Cline Singers” and me thinking, “These guys know more about my cool new town than I do,” I insisted on coming along for a night billed under the name Trevor Dunn—you know, “Mr. Bungle”—a former Eurekan. And indeed, he was the common denominator, wielding the exalted Matthew Sperry bass and in full Humboldt regalia. (Okay, he was wearing a Los Bagel’s t-shirt.) The venue was inches from my house. Its only demarcation suggested an accordion shop. After dinner at the new Mua (think casual like cardboard, classy like cocktails) we dashed centimeters to the venue. The night opened with great musicians serving up the weirdest in aural first courses.
For the second course: Scott Amendola is the reason they call a drum stool a “throne.” Also on stage: Nels Cline, John Dietrich, and Ben Goldberg. Not bad at all.
A few weeks later I went with Russ to see The Nels Cline Singers at Yoshi’s. Finding myself sitting with Ron St. Germain, who had been recording them the past couple days, I asked the obvious: “So what’s it like to hear it live after hearing it in the studio all week?” “The recording is better!” he said and laughed. Then added in his characteristic faux English accent, “There’s quite a bit of morph-factor with this music, so it’s always different live.”
The musicians I most like to experience live are childlike in their love of making music. The Singers have this quality when they play. They PLAY. I left the following evening for the east coast, not able to hum a Singers’ melody, but with the feeling that my musical skeleton had been cracked and reset in all the right places.