Archive for the ‘Music’ Category
I’ve never really taken to updating this site with any regularity. That will probably never change. Now that I no longer perform comedy and seem to be publishing new poems at a more reasonable snail’s pace than I was back in 2013, it doesn’t make much sense to bother the Internet with what I’m up to.
I’m still writing poems and ditties. The new news, if there is any, is that I recently invested in a new guitar.
I never really saw myself owning a Martin, because I never saw myself as the kind of player who deserved one. But I got a deal. And I’ve got to tell you that an instrument this well-crafted makes me want to raise my game in the fingerpicking ditty department. Which is news, because I’ve never been a big fan of self-improvement.
Which also reminds me, I have given a few readings lately. Poetry, of course. But also a series of monologues written for a collaboration with photographer Craig VanDerSchaegen. He put photos into a software program that translated them into soundscapes, over which I read my writing. We debuted it at Small Art‘s Spring Fling.
I’m always happy to find interesting new venues for my work. Hint, hint.
For the right venue, I’d even write a new joke or two. Hell, I trimmed my beard. What else have I got to lose?
When I’m not writing or standing on a stage somewhere saying things into a microphone, I’m often sitting around my house playing guitar, banjo or dobro. Or, recently, mandolin. If I land on an idea that holds my interest for a minute or so, I do a quick field recording of it. Sometimes my music winds up playing in the background of the podcast. Sometimes nobody hears what I record. Until now. I plucked and strummed all the instruments on these ditties, for better or worse.
If you enjoy what you heard here, feel free to share it. If you’d like to use any of my music for some kind of collaborative project, please let me know.
Joshua Wenck used to be a member of the traditional roots music duo The Get Up Johns. Now he’s making music as Evangelista.
Paul Metzger leads the powerhouse avant-prog rock trio TVBC.
He’s also acclaimed for improvising on guitar and modified banjo.
Brian Beatty used to write “Jokes by Brian Beatty” for McSweeney’s and METRO and perform for comedy fans. Expect that, plus ditties.
Wednesday, May 25
9:30 PM | NO COVER
It might not be cool to confess the obsessions that have influenced my own creative endeavors, but I feel I owe my own microscopic successes as a writer and comedy performer to those true artists whose accomplishments demonstrated what was possible in the first place.
Possibilities have always interested me more than fame and fortune. If I’m ever rich and recognized from TV appearances, maybe then I’ll prance around pretending all my brilliant ideas were mine and mine alone.
If I’m even physically capable of prancing. I’m guessing I’m not.
My first short stories were so overwhelmed by my fanboy enthusiasm for Barry Hannah that I’ve salvaged a storytelling performance and two magazine articles out of the humiliation I felt when I was finally called on it the summer after finishing my MFA. My other literary faves comprise a motley hodgepodge indeed: Donald Barthelme, Flannery O’Connor, Lydia Davis, Terry Southern, Richard Brautigan, Ted Berrigan, Ishmael Reed, Kurt Vonnegut, Sam Shepard and J.P. Donleavy.
Long before I became serious about writing and performing comedy, I was a much-too-serious saxophone student (and a self-taught guitar and banjo player), so many musicians keep me listening to and looking at my approach to creative challenges: John Fahey, Captain Beefheart, Pere Ubu, Ornette Coleman, Skip James, Dink Roberts, Michael Hurley, Thelonious Monk and Sonic Youth.
In college I befriended more than my share of art majors, so I know just enough about art to realize what I appreciate: mostly primitive outsider junk, plus the paintings of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jasper Johns, the early video work of William Wegman and the performance pieces of Laurie Anderson and Chris Burden.
Comedy was my earliest artistic crush. When I was only six or seven, I started laughing at my grandparents’ Bill Cosby records. And I started watching Richard Pryor and George Carlin on HBO when I was still too young to really “get” their funniest jokes. (Thank you, Uncle Bob.) My tastes in contemporary American comics run toward the predictably and deservedly respected: Louis CK, Zach Galifianakis, Mike Birbiglia and Bobcat Goldthwait lately. The majority of my comedic influences these days are all from over in the UK: Peter Cook, Billy Connolly, Stewart Lee, Johnny Vegas, Dylan Moran and Daniel Kitson.
What I believe these disparate artists all have in common, across generations and genres, is their honesty. Their incredibly personal points of view, too.
And that’s what I like to believe I’m learning from them: To recognize and trust the sound of my own voice when I hear it.
They’re certainly not teaching me to prance.