Andy Friedman, painter and visual artist (he’s a cartoonist for The New Yorker), and singer-songwriter, has a strong Charlottesville connection that runs through local folk star Paul Curreri. Curreri says that Friedman was such a serious art student at Pratt, in New York City, that he became disillusioned after a gum eraser battle broke out in a professor-free classroom, and ultimately transferred to the Rhode Island School of Design. Friedman and Curreri were roommates at RISD, and later in Brooklyn, New York.
An artist his whole life, Friedman used to merge his pursuits. “I wanted to follow my paintings around on the road, and so that became my stage show—with polaroids, slides and spoken word. And now I’m just so in love with music, and totally in love with playing with my band.”
Friedman and his band, The Other Failures, will have an unofficial release of his second CD, Taken Man, this Wednesday at The Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar. Friedman says that, although he has probably played every room in Charlottesville, “the Tea Bazaar was so great [the last time], and I had such a good time there” that he chose the venue for his CD release. Friedman also enlisted the fiddle playing of Ketch Secor from Old Crow Medicine Show, and other locals, like Curreri, for the new disc.
Friedman and Curreri laid down the basic tracks for the CD in two and a half days in Curreri’s home studio. When the session was over, Friedman told Curreri that “we work so well together that we could record a CD and drive to San Francisco in five days.” Curreri, not normally a gusher, says, “It is an amazing record.”
Friedman regards Charlottesville as his “gateway to the rest of the world”—he always makes sure to include an in-town date at the beginning or end of his tours. He plays 60 to 70 dates a year, and says that part of the reason he loves touring is that he gets to listen to music all day and eat at Denny’s in strange towns. And while he’s enjoying the first year of his son Walker’s life, Friedman adds, “I don’t really want to be domesticated for 360 days a year, either. I love missing my family, and then coming home to them.”
Paul Curreri says of Friedman, “No matter how shitty his life was going, he kept doing cartoons, and they were hysterical, and he had a pretty good outlook on life.”
Young and old alike should go see a slice of real 1970s Charlottesville nostalgia in Captain Tunes. The predecessor of both Skip Castro and The Casuals will reunite for a one-off Starr Hill show Saturday night in conjunction with the Virginia Film Festival premiere of local music documentary Live from the Hook (so-called because certain old-timers, finding themselves drawn repeatedly back to Charlottesville, nicknamed it “the hook”) at the Paramount next week.
Just as you seldom hear a news report of a bus accident where the bus doesn’t “plunge,” I think I have never seen an article about The Melvins without the word “sludge” in it. If you’re curious about aural sludge, The Melvins play Starr Hill on October 23.
An apology to Brent Hosier: I said that many of the tunes on his CD anthologies of Virginia music [“Collector’s edition,” September 18] were compiled from LPs. Hosier says that the bands that he is interested in seldom made LPs, and were instead putting out 45s. Either way, his discs make for great listening.
Andy Friedman’s current spins: “The iPod has totally screwed with the way that I listen to music. As a painter, I listen to music nine hours a day, and I used to take nine CDs to the studio every day and work until I had listened to all of them. Now my favorite album is definitely the shuffle. Like, I may not have known that I was so hot on Lightnin’ Hopkins until the shuffle. I would say my current list includes Willie Nelson’s Honeysuckle Rose soundtrack, which is my Dark Side of the Moon. It has been on my chart for the past four years. Randy Newman’s last one, Bad Love. So good, so good. He is like a New Yorker cartoonist with a piano. And the last two Silver Jews CDs. David Berman came to see me in Nashville and heckled me, so I was interested—but when I heard his music, I hadn’t been so affected since hearing Leonard Cohen. And I’ve known Sufjan Stevens for about 10 years, but I didn’t realize how much he had exploded. At a party I asked him if he wanted to hit the road and play banjo to my slides, and a girl took me aside and said, ‘Don’t you know he’s playing thousand-seaters?’ He could have been another Failures. It’s nice to see him turn into Elvis Presley.”