Sunday, Zzz presents an evening with two singer/songwriters. Hailed by the late John Peel as an “unobtrusive genius,” Cass McCombs was born in 1977 and raised in Northern California. He is of the generation that grew up hearing the stories still fresh on people’s minds: Zodiac killings, Zebra killings, Manson, Black Panthers, SLA, riots, People’s Park, LSD, etc. These were the local legends and became the basis for McCombs’ imagination. He is a child of the ‘70s. Since leaving the area, he lived many years drifting the U.S. until ever attempting to make music seriously, according to his biography. He has said that from this experience he learned to listen to people’s stories from many walks of life. Instead of university, this was his education. McCombs worked as a janitor, in a horse stable, a book shop; he was a soda jerk, a truck driver, and a movie projectionist. He worked construction in New Jersey and at a midtown NYC delicatessen. McCombs developed his narrative songwriting style, and since has always expressed himself through the use of characters. He writes stories for his friends using their humour, their language, with detail and color, relating their drug use to classical literary themes, for instance. Rather than fulfilling the stereotype of the confessional singer-songwriter, he describes the lifestyles and feelings of those that surround him, with more love than judgment. McCombs is a mirror, according to his bio.
Deeply distrustful of the “Business,” McCombs has stayed relatively underground, supported by a devoted fan base and his label/publisher. In 2010, Domino Records hired a photo-surveillance private investigator to follow McCombs and take what would be become the publicity shots for Wit’s End. Examples such as this suggest that he and mainstream acceptance are in a state of perpetual stalemate. However, in contrast to his persona, McCombs’ music is generous, the melodies always infectious, the production and musicianship first-rate. And at the forefront of his craft are always the lyrics, which more than any songwriter today propels the avant-garde. He presents morally ambiguous situations for the listener, allowing them to interpret however they choose. McCombs has always refused to speak his influences, except for American folk music and The Beatles. He is a folk artist, telling the stories of his native land in a modern tongue.
“Big Wheel and Others” is Cass McCombs’ seventh-and-a-half album was released Oct. 15 on Domino Records.
Within his decade-long career, most recently releasing WIT’S END and Humor Risk in 2011, Big Wheel and Others is McCombs’ most encompassing work to date, marking a bold new chapter in the myth of this fascinating and singular artist. It’s brimming with McCombs’ gift for evocative storytelling, discerning introspection, and heartrending melody delivered through a haze of mystery and romance.
Opening the evening is Little Wings; known for his eccentric brand of independent folk, Little Wings’ increasingly rare appearances in the Foothills alway prove to make for a magical evening. In the world of indie-folk, Little Wings leader Kyle Field has established himself as an influential and uncompromising artist. His unique, whispered vocal style and loose rhythms conjure up images of informal gospel music played by friends. Like Walt Whitman with a guitar or Moondog with a paintbrush, Field’s hallucinogenic music is willful yet relaxed. His nomadic lifestyle greatly informs both his lyrics and his arrangements and he often tours by picking up different musicians and instruments at each stop. Like a 20th century Woody Guthrie, Field has made his mark in the world with his infectious songs, rambling ways and profound empathy for the natural world and everything in it.
From his early days in his first band with M. Ward when he was still going by Matt, to his time on K Records influencing the likes of Phil Elvrum when he was the Microphones and Khaela Marecich from the Blow, to Feist’s recent tribute in naming her film, Look At What The Light Did Now, after that wonderful Little Wings song, Kyle has always been an artist who inspires others to greatness. With his most recent release “LAST”, Kyle Field’s life of surfing, visual arts and music have culminated into an album that should see his music celebrated amongst the echelon of those who’ve championed his talents since day one; a musician’s musician no longer.
Since the release of Black Grass in 2010, Kyle Field has spent a lot of time traveling. Stints focusing on his visual art took him to gallery openings in San Francisco, Tokyo and Paris. Musically, Little Wings toured twice through Alaska, twice through Europe, once to Japan tour, and his gallery opening in Paris culminated with an incredible live performance. Through out all of Kyle’s traveling, he found himself regaining his Gypsy fearlessness, his spark... Saturn returns returned! Little Wings will be accompanied by a full band in support of his latest feature length album “Last,” release earlier this year.
Z presents will be transforming the National Hotel dining room for an intimate evening of well crafted tunes. Doors at 8:30pm. Tickets available at Briarpatch and at the door. 21 and over only.
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