Being here

Being here

This Sunday night, the Pavilion presents Wilco, one of the most successful and adventurous alt-rock bands on the planet. In 1994, when country-meets-punk legends Uncle Tupelo called it quits, Jay Farrar retained the roots country sound with Son Volt, while Jeff Tweedy took the rest of the band and started Wilco, exploring a wide-open pop music pallette. The band’s first CD, AM, was a foray into British power pop, a la The Faces. Being There and the masterful follow-up, Summerteeth, found the band playing beautifully rendered pop, soul, and Beatley psychedelia. Summerteeth sold badly (by industry standards, anyway) and Wilco’s A&R man, Howie Klein, retired from Reprise the day before Wilco submitted their next album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The label asked for a remix to make it more accessible, but Wilco refused. In a very unusual move, the band was allowed to buy back the master recordings for a fraction of Reprise’s initial outlay. Perhaps realizing how stupid the move was, a second Warner subsidiary, Nonesuch, signed the band and released the record to critical acclaim. In retrospect, the whole affair seems to have been a positive turning point in the band’s career. In the meantime, Wilco has partnered with Billy Bragg for two well-recieved Woody Guthrie tributes, been the subject of a documentary movie and, following Jeff Tweedy’s clear musical focus, continued to turn out a dizzying variety of projects, including a recent live album and 2004’s A Ghost is Born. Despite industry and personnel turmoil, Wilco remains more popular and artistically honest than ever.
    On Saturday night, be sure and get out to The Satellite Ballroom to see Bella Morte, quite likely the second biggest band to make it out of Charlottesville. Lauren Hoffman says that when she was added to Bella Morte’s list of myspace friends, she had 400 add requests on her space the same week. Hoffman, who sang on the Morte’s last CD, Songs for the Dead, will make a guest appearance at The Satellite.
    Opening for Bella Morte will be The Sad Lives of the Hollywood Lovers, a band whose leader says that “the most interesting thing  is breaking free of genres.” Made up of songwriters Mark Shue and Hunter Christy, TSLOTHL takes its direction as much from photographers and directors as other bands. Shue says that movie-makers Anton Corbin and Michel Gondry have a visual style that the band finds very musically inspiring. The band often tries to present visual images while they are playing, and recently played The Dixie Theater in Staunton while showing an experimental film made by one of their friends. The theater sold out, and Shue says that the event was reminiscent of one of those Andy-Warhol produced Velvet Underground multimedia events.
    The Sad Lives began playing at Char-lottesville house parties over the last couple years, but the parties got so crowded that they had to take their act into clubs. The band’s sound is a mix of danceable electronic music and raw rock ‘n’ roll. Their self-produced EP, Silencer, is available at iTunes and Plan 9, and a new video is streaming on their online site. The band has just returned from a Northeast tour, during which they played The Trash Bar in Williamsburg, New York, and The Abilene in Philadelphia.
    If you are in Nellysford Saturday evening and your taste runs toward cabaret, you can catch Doug Schneider singing in the Earl Hamner, Jr. Theater. Accompanied by pianist Greg Harris, Doug will be the fourth musical act in the theater’s Music Performance series. Artists interested in playing the theater, particularly Nelson homies, should contact Boomie Pedersen at 361-1999.

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