21st century troubadour [with audio]

When Colin Meloy, front man of literary-minded rock band, The Decemberists, arrives at Satellite Ballroom on Saturday, April 12, his bandmates won’t be with him, but he’ll still have a small entourage: songwriter Laura Gibson (who will open the show), artist Carson Ellis (Meloy’s girlfriend) and their 2-year-old son, Henry “Hank” Meloy. The break from his band, which has grown in popularity and spectacle since forming in 2001, gives Meloy a chance to scale things back a little bit. “It is kind of an opportunity to discover what initially got me into playing music,” he says. “It is a way for me to get back to that sort of sense of quietude.” And, we imagine, it also frees up some time to hang with li’l Hank.

Come sail away: The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy will lead you on an adventure of narrative melodies and choice cover songs at Satellite Ballroom on April 12.


Listen to "We Both Go Down Together" from Colin Meloy Sings Live!:

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Courtesy of Kill Rock Stars – Thank you!

The bespectacled musical bard sounded a little groggy when we talked to him on the phone, but maybe that’s because, in addition to fatherhood, he’s been busy polishing up  a couple of new releases: a tour-only EP of Sam Cooke covers and a live album (aptly titled Colin Meloy Sings Live!) of tunes recorded during Meloy’s last U.S. solo jaunt.

 “I imagine I’ll be playing a couple of the Sam Cooke songs,” Meloy tells us when we ask what melodies he’ll have up his sleeve for this tour. “Maybe some of the new stuff that we’ve been playing around with. But I’m sure it will largely be from the Decemberists’ oeuvre.”

C-VILLE Playlist
What we’re listening to

“Spring Again,” by Biz Markie (from The Biz Never Sleeps)—A breezy song to carry you into the season of windows-down car rides, falling in love and all that jazz.

“Cherry Coloured Funk,” by Cocteau Twins (from Heaven or Las Vegas)—Elizabeth Fraser’s voice flirts with nirvana and soars across a blood-red horizon with the lightness of a feather.

“Dig a Pony,” by The Beatles (from Let it Be)

“Investigative Reports,” by GZA (from Liquid Swords)

“Do the Strand,” by Roxy Music (from For Your Pleasure; heard on the WTJU Rock marathon!)

We’ve enjoyed Meloy’s two previous tour EPs, which feature covers of maudlin charmer Morrissey and English folk singer Shirley Collins, but that’s not the only way that he’s expressed his musical influences. In 2004, he penned a book about The ReplacementsLet It Be, an album that he discovered as a teenager. “I think it was incredibly instrumental in my formative years, in understanding what music is and what it can be,” he says. “I think a big thing I took from The Replacements is to not necessarily take what you do so seriously, to always have your tongue kind of firmly planted in your cheek. That’s hopefully been a part of what I do.”

What’s piquing Meloy’s interest these days? “Hopefully I’ll eventually be able to collect the entire discography, on vinyl, of Anne Briggs, but so far I’ve only got a 45 [rpm],” he says. “The rest have so far eluded my eBay grasp. But I’ll keep working at it.” Anne who? Briggs, we learned, is a fairly obscure but influential musician and singer from the ’60s and ’70s who recorded three albums before vanishing from the English folk music scene.

The Decemberists recently signed up with Charlottesville-based Red Light Management, and Meloy says his experience with Coran Capshaw’s team has been great so far. “They’re kind of a juggernaut, which has been a nice thing,” he says. “They are a one-stop shop and they are very powerful, and in this day and age, when the onus is definitely on the artist and the management company, it’s been nice to have such a powerful company going to bat for you.”

Meloy tells us that The Decemberists have blocked off two months this summer to record the follow-up to 2006’s The Crane Wife, and we’re excited to hear the results. For now, though, we’re eager to catch Meloy on his own. To finish up our chat, we tossed Meloy a question lifted from a typical job interview: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? “I hope to be living in some stormy seaport town in a rambly old Victorian,” he answers. “And I hope to have some chickens.” Colin, you’re hired!

Out of Orbit

The local music scene lost another venue when Orbit Billiards abruptly shut its doors last week. John Adamson and Andrew Watson, who are behind Mellow Mushroom, have purchased the space and hope to reopen it with a different concept in a couple months. It seems that the close was unexpected, though, as promoter Jeyon Falsini had a few shows booked at Orbit in April and May. Adamson tells C-VILLE that, while the new joint won’t satisfy your craving for a game of pool, it’ll still host live music. “It was a good place to put acts that I felt were more college oriented,” Falsini told us. We look forward to the changes by the new owners, and we can’t wait until sweet sounds once again emanate from the corner of 14th Street and University Avenue. [For more on this, see Restaurantarama]

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