Mousing around [with video]

Mousing around [with video]

Back in 2002 local bluegrass fiends the Hackensaw Boys took off on a jaunt called the Unlimited Sunshine Tour. They found themselves part of a hodge-podge bill of diverse but impressive music acts, including Cake, De La Soul, Kinky, The Flaming Lips and Modest Mouse. It was a promising step for the band, and they were even invited back to be part of the following year’s lineup. For Pee Paw Hackensaw, a.k.a. Tom Peloso, though, the tour led to something even bigger.

“At one point during the tour [Modest Mouse frontman] Isaac Brock approached me and asked if I wanted to do something for the next record,” Peloso says. “I was very open to the idea.” So, when the time came, he met up with Modest Mouse and took part in the making of 2004’s Good News for People Who Love Bad News, an album that went platinum and was a breakthrough release for the band.

Tom Peloso, top left, and Modest Mouse take the Charlottesville Pavilion stage on Sunday, June 29.

Pretty soon Peloso was a full-fledged Mouse, touring with the band and helping write and record 2007’s We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank, which also saw the addition of former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr. On Sunday, June 29, Peloso and the rest of the band will bring their show to the Charlottesville Pavilion.

The video for Modest Mouse’s "Little Motel."

We caught up with Peloso, who resides in the Nelson County hamlet of Schuyler when not on the road, in the midst of the band’s current tour opening for R.E.M. “I had bought Reckoning on vinyl when it came out,” Peloso says, “so for me it’s pretty exciting to be on tour with a band that I grew up listening to and really enjoying. Every night they seem to pull out a song that I’m like, ‘Wow I can’t believe they just played that.’”

Being a huge Smiths fan, Feedback was also curious to hear what it was like to be in a band with Johnny Marr. “It’s a lot of fun working with him,” says Peloso. “The first night I met him I actually picked him up from the airport in Portland. When I first met him I felt really comfortable. He’s a really down to earth, genuine guy. And he’s just a great guitar player.”

He’s been keeping quite busy with Modest Mouse, but Peloso found some time earlier this year to get started on a solo album at Monkeyclaus in Nelson County. “It’s kind of funny for me, he says. “I’m Tom in Modest Mouse, and I was Pee Paw Hackensaw in the Hackensaw Boys. And this time the project is me, Tom Peloso, and I’ve never really done a project like that. It’s neat. I feel like I’m learning a lot about myself in doing this.” He hopes to finish up the album in August, once Modest Mouse has wrapped up its current tour.

There’s clearly something special about banging away at strings and tapping your toes on red bricks. In last week’s column, Pokey LaFarge recalled how much fun he had busking with friends on the Downtown Mall, and Peloso told us pretty much the same thing. “Probably some of my most favorite moments were playing on the Mall with the Hackensaw Boys,” he says. Peloso will only be a few steps away from there on Sunday, and the Hacks are playing just two days before (see below), so maybe they’ll meet up to jam like old times.

Happy Birthday, dear Gravity

With so much news lately of venues closing, we’re glad to wish Gravity Lounge a happy fifth birthday. The Lounge celebrates its half decade of existence this Friday, June 27, with a show featuring local favorites the Hackensaw Boys and Morwenna Lasko & Jay Pun. The venue has been bringing a variety of tunes to the Downtown Mall since the summer of 2003, and they’ve got even more good stuff lined up for this summer and fall, including Bill Kirchen on July 6, the Asylum Street Spankers on July 9, the Commander Cody Band on September 11 and Southern Culture on the Skids on November 22. So go party with the Morwenna, Jay and the Hackensaws this Friday and then mark your calendars for more good things to come.

Au revoir

This is the last time you’ll see the current incarnation of Feedback in these pages. Alas, we know! Your current music scribe has had a blast translating Charlottesville’s sonic reverberations into written words over the past year, but now he’s up and leaving to, you know, explore the world and find himself or something like that. Never fear, though, as Feedback will forge on next week, with C-VILLE arts and culture guru Brendan Fitzgerald taking over the reins and guiding it through its new, expanded presence as a blog on Also, stay tuned for next week’s paper, in which Mr. Ruscher steps out of his Feedback shoes and recounts his many musical journeys.

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