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Clip: Mehr on Will Oldham/Slint/Kelly Hogan

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  • Carl Zimring
    Has anyone here heard the Joe South tribute? How is it? The Will Oldham/Tortoise project sounds like a staple for the Mockster...
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2005
      Has anyone here heard the Joe South tribute? How is it? The Will
      Oldham/Tortoise project sounds like a staple for the Mockster...


      April 1, 2005

      Anti-Folk, Meet Post-Rock
      Why would Will Oldham and Tortoise team up?
      To cover Elton John and the Boss, of course.


      Overcoat Records was an unusually quiet label for most of last year. Owner
      Howard Greynolds became a father last March and the Boas, the most
      promising band in his stable, broke up in June. But he's had an active 2005
      thus far. In February he put out the American edition of This Cloud Is
      Learning, the 1999 album by Swedish roots crooner Nicolai Dunger, and on
      April 12 he releases the much anticipated debut album by Texas tunesmith
      Micah P. Hinson. Overcoat's biggest news, however, is its upcoming release
      of a collaboration between indie-rock pillars Tortoise and Will Oldham.
      Their ten-song disc, a wide-ranging collection of covers, is slated for
      October, and there's talk of a tour.

      Greynolds, who has played with Oldham and worked with Tortoise as an
      employee at Thrill Jockey, sparked the meeting a couple years ago, after
      hearing that Oldham had covered Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road" at his
      live shows. "So I asked him if he had a copy of his version so I could give
      it to my dad, who's a big Springsteen fan, and who Will is friendly with,"
      says Greynolds. When Oldham said he didn't have a recording of the song,
      Greynolds suggested he make one. "And he said, 'If you get Tortoise to do
      it with me, I will.'"

      The two acts had talked casually about working together in the past,
      Greynolds says, but their schedules and priorities never quite meshed. The
      collaboration was originally planned as a four-song session last October at
      Soma Studios (owned by Tortoise drummer John McEntire), but everyone was
      pleased enough with the results to meet for two more sessions -- one in
      December and another in March.

      Oldham initially presented a list of tunes for Tortoise to choose from, but
      the two sides soon began trading suggestions. The final track list includes
      "Thunder Road" along with takes on well-known songs by Elton John
      ("Daniel"), Richard Thompson ("The Calvary Cross"), Devo ("That's Pep!"),
      and the Minutemen ("It's Expected I'm Gone"). Covers of Milton Nascimento's
      "Cravo e canela," Melanie's "Some Say (I Got Devil)," Don Williams's
      "Pancho," Lungfish's "Love Is Love," and Quix*o*tic's "On My Own" fill out
      the disc.

      "On one level, it sounds like a cross between Tortoise and Will Oldham,"
      says Tortoise bassist Doug McCombs. "But ultimately it sounds like a
      collaboration between six people, not just a group and one guy." (The album
      also features guest vocals from Sally Timms and horns courtesy of local
      jazzbos Aram Shelton, Jeb Bishop, and Corey Wilkes.) Greynolds initially
      envisioned the project as part of a series or box set of similar projects
      he'd help put together; he's since scrapped that idea, but an EP of new
      songs written and performed by Calexico and Iron & Wine is tentatively set
      to come out on Overcoat later this year, and a collaboration between Jon
      Langford and Richard Buckner will be released on Langford's own Web-based
      label, Buried Treasure, in May.

      "With Will and Tortoise, to me it's like Dylan and the Band in the digital
      age," says Greynolds. "I've been trying to contain my excitement. Even
      though it's a covers record, I just see it as a landmark that these two got
      together and made an album."
      That's All There Is and There Ain't No More

      Slint's recent three-night stand in Chicago didn't just close the group's
      monthlong reunion tour: according to David Viecelli of the Billions booking
      agency, the gigs were their "last shows ever" and the band has no plans to
      work on new material. But the Chicago concerts, along with three others in
      San Francisco, were recorded, and the west-coast shows were filmed as well.

      What tapes and footage will be released -- and in what form -- is still an
      open question. Fans have been speculating about an archival Slint project
      ever since the group announced the reunion last year; the chatter only
      increased during the winter, when Touch and Go Records used its Web site to
      put out a call for old footage and photos. That effort yielded nothing,
      says label publicist Miranda Lange, and a box set including remastered
      versions of the band's two albums, Tweez (1989) and Spiderland (1991), has
      been tabled. But a live CD and/or DVD could be out as early as this fall,
      with the remasters available in 2006.

      Viecelli notes that any Slint collection or reissue won't include outtakes
      or unreleased material. "There's just nothing like that, unfortunately," he
      Hogan Working Overtime

      Joe SouthLocal roots chanteuse Kelly Hogan has been busy of late: in
      addition to finishing work on a live record with her jazz quartet, the
      Wooden Leg, she's guested on upcoming albums by Chris Mills and Sonny Smith
      and composed new material for the sound track to Lipstick & Dynamite, Piss
      & Vinegar, a documentary about female wrestlers. She's also finished
      recording an album with Love Hall Tryst, a group featuring herself, John
      Wesley Harding, and Nora O'Connor.

      Hogan figures prominently on a tribute disc to fellow Atlanta native Joe
      South. The singer, songwriter, and session hand wrote a series of smashes
      in the 60s -- including Deep Purple's "Hush" and Billy Joe Royal's "Down in
      the Boondocks" -- before becoming a successful solo artist, recording the
      hits "Games People Play" and "Walk a Mile in My Shoes." But after his
      brother and collaborator Tommy killed himself in 1971, South withdrew from
      the spotlight.

      The tribute was released in February by San Francisco label Jackpine Social
      Club, and the bulk of its contributors are from the Bay Area. Hogan sang a
      version of South's "The Greatest Love" and produced Otis Clay's rendition
      of "Walk a Mile in My Shoes"; both tracks were recorded in Chicago with
      locals including Kevin O'Donnell, Andy Hopkins, Dave Max Crawford, Paul
      Mertens, and Mark Greenberg.

      This Thursday Hogan cedes her regular slot at the Hideout to a show she's
      promoting featuring legendary jazzman, playwright, and performer Oscar
      Brown Jr. He'll perform April 7 at 8 and 10 PM with his band, which
      includes his daughters Maggie and Africa, keyboardist Calvin "Koko"
      Brunson, bassist Yosef Ben Israel, and drummer Kwame Steve Cobb. Tickets
      are $15 for each show or $25 for both.
      Hot Dogs and Yellow Pills

      Jordan Oakes, founder of the zine Yellow Pills and patron saint of
      power-pop geeks, has teamed up with the Chicago reissue label Numero Group
      to produce a 33-song compilation titled Yellow Pills: Prefill. Focusing on
      the late 70s and early 80s, the two-CD set unearths hard-to-find nuggets
      from lesser-known regional acts like Luxury, the Finns, the Trend, and
      Shoes. Numero approached Doug Sohn, owner of Hot Doug's in Roscoe Village
      and a power-pop fan, to help celebrate. The restaurant will host the
      release party on April 1 and put a Jordan Oakes special on the menu for
      that day; Numero will sell discounted copies of the set at the event, which
      runs from 10 AM to 3 PM.

      --BOB MEHR
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