Move over Johnny Carson, it's Darcy Larsen

When I first got the chance to interview Darcy Larsen, the Fargo-based chanteuse, hand model and variety show host, I asked the question that I knew would be on readers’ minds: What are you wearing? 

Jennifer Hoyt Tidwell and Tyler Magill (as their pill-popping alter egos Darcy Larsen and Phil Grannitte) host the “Amateur Hour Variety Hour” at The Jefferson Theater this week, which features music interspersed with “painfully investigative interviews” and audience participation. 

“A lady never talks about that,” said Larsen, knowing full well that in leaving the world to imagine, the world would imagine the worst. 

With cohost Phil Grannitte (“a veteran of 35 television shows and as many marriages”), Larsen brings the “Amateur Hour Variety Hour” to The Jefferson Theater on December 15. The show is the closest thing to Vaudeville that the theater will have seen since it played host to actual Vaudeville performers in 1912.

Live musical acts will include The Invisible Hand, Devon Sproule and Richmond’s No BS! Brass Band, whose short sets will be “followed by painfully investigative interviews and interspersed with experimental sketch comedy segments.” Amateurs will be invited on stage to participate in a soap opera, “between three and seven points in the night,” says Larsen. “There will be a staircase up to the stage, so who knows?”

And at the center of it all, the lovely Ms. Larsen. “I don’t want to sound like Norma Desmond, but I’m a triple threat. Actually, a quadruple threat. There’s singing, dancing and acting—and then there’s being funny,” says Larsen. “I’ve heard great things about your town and I love North Carolina as a whole. I have not slept in 72 hours.”

For Larsen, it’s been a long pub crawl to the top. “I was a hand model in Santa Monica back in about 1978. Phil came in when I was in between hand modeling gigs and working at a diner there, and he said, ‘I really think that you have something beyond your hands.’ He offered me a job doing a car commercial in Grand Rapids, Michigan.” From there Larsen claims to have scored a gig with Brown Automotive Group, where she sang the company’s jingle. 

O.K., O.K., so Larsen isn’t a real person. She is instead a character dreamed up by Performers Exchange Project founding member Jennifer Hoyt Tidwell. Grannitte is in fact going to be played by Tyler Magill, who you may recognize as the very sarcastic guy from The Parking Lot Movie. Tidwell (who wanted to put on a Vaudeville-like show) collaborated with Danny Shea (he books shows at the Jefferson) and The Invisible Hand (they wanted to host a musical variety show) to put on the experimental event.

“Everybody is going to be put in a position of being an amateur,” says Tidwell. “I’m not a musician, but I’m putting myself in that position.” Magill hasn’t acted since high school. On top of it all, amateurs who are in fact performers, along with bona-fide amateurs in the audience, will be put in compromising situations. “Everybody is doing what they do best, and doing what they haven’t done, or what they’re scared to do, or maybe what they don’t know what they can do.”

“We’re going to try to put people in positions of physical and emotional discomfort,” says Tidwell—er, Larsen. “It puts you in a liminal place.” 

“Come see the richness that Charlotte, North Carolina, has to offer,” she adds.


Grammy time

It’s been a little more than a week since Grammy nominees were announced, but a late mention is better than no mention when it comes to artists with local ties who are up for music’s biggest honor.

Batesville resident Mary Chapin Carpenter swung through The Paramount Theater earlier this year with selections from her latest, The Age of Miracles, which is in the running for Best Contemporary Folk Album. It’s a business-as-usual scenario for Carpenter, who’s won five and been nominated for 15.

The Recording Academy has also seen fit to celebrate the third installment of Dave Matthews’ favorite hobby—releasing double live albums with buddy and ex-local Tim Reynolds—by nominating “Kundalini Bonfire” for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. Except, nuts to you, Dave: “Bonfire” is a track Reynolds wrote and originally released on his 1996 solo album Gossip of the Neurons. 

The Infamous Stringdusters are from Nashville, but get the local stamp of approval for having curated The Festy last October in Nelson County, and for recording their latest record, Things That Fly, at the local Haunted Hollow studio. (Local sound pro Rob Evans, who also produced Trees on Fire’s Organica, was the assistant engineer.) They’re up for a nod in the Best Country Instrumental Performance for their song “Magic #9.”

Artists with ATO Records and Red Light Management could also clean up at the awards. Visit the Feedback blog at for a complete list.


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