A fine burger joint, outstanding music venue and top-shelf watering hole — one which could rival the best many towns offer — The Anchor on Broadway excels at what they do. Summer will see some big rock shows for the small but enjoyable room, from Shadow With with Burn Thee Insects to original Faith No More wiseguy Chuck Mosley. Coming up the quickest, though, and worth putting on your radar is a June 10 show featuring a band that fans of everything from Wilco to Old 97’s or Whiskeytown will, er, drink up like a fine summer wine. That’s right, alt-country act Butchers Blind are going to take the stage with support from local psychedelic darlings The Sweet Clementines. It will surely be a night to fondly recall down the road.
With a bond going back to high school (and earlier for some members), Butchers Blind are a pretty active group and have released several records since forming in 2009. This isn’t a band that are so hip that you will be intimidated by snobby scenesters for not having a flexi of the first time they whistled while taking a crap at age 12. Rather, akin to to tourist trolleys found in many of the places where the editor has vacationed in recent years, any point is a great jump-on point for becoming a fan. If your songs add up, you don’t need an off-putting, cooler-than-thou vibe and can welcome people into what you are doing. A lot of bands use exclusivity and elitism as a cover-up for weak material. Not these guys.
Butchers Blind could benefit from getting more (well-deserved) attention, as their heartfelt and introspective numbers feel like a beloved and tattered blanket some lonely cowboy clung to next to a cactus out there somewhere under the stars in the land of working through the heartbreak.
That said, BB restrains themselves from yodely affectation or Americana abuse. The band members are well spoken and you can really feel a bond between them when they play or talk. As one song goes, “Honestly, I hope you’re honest with me.” They seem to do unto others how they’d like done to them, feel me? While there is a dark flirtation present in some of the lyrics, overall the band seem to be drawn to finding a light at the end of any tunnel.
“We are excited to play Kingston for the first time with our friends Sweet Clementines,” the band tells me in a joint statement. “We have played a bunch of shows together and it’s always a great time.”
The concert is hovering around a Fugazi-friendly price of $5, so don’t be a blob and get out there to kick up some dust.
So long, Chris
Well, it’d be a huge oversight this week to not say a few words about the mighty Chris Cornell. Of course as anyone knows who wasn’t under a rock the past few days, we lost the charismatic grunge legend within the time between our last issue and this one.
Soundgarden was one of the heavier bands that, as a kid who saw the end of hair metal but the rise of grunge as well, were the perfect bridge from some of the more cringe-inducing elements of cock rock into the more cerebral and “unafraid to deal with real feelings without a codpiece stuffed in your drawers” vibes ushered in by alternative rock. Soundgarden never looked down on their fans and Chris was iconic no matter what sub-genre of rock n roll you subscribed to the most. I am so glad that I got to see Soundgarden once since their reunion and also a brilliant multi-hour set from Cornell at UPAC a few years ago when I was just sort of getting this column rolling.
If there is any takeaway from this, in addition to the much-needed discussion about depression it brought to the forefront of national discourse for a few days, I think the lyrics of Audioslave’s “Be Yourself” really say it all. When that song first dropped a few years back I thought the refrain of “to be yourself is all that you can do” was a little bit featherweight from a guy who once wrote lines in Soundgarden like, “Down in the hole/Jesus tries to crack a smile/Beneath another shovel load.”
Maybe getting older and being more sentimental softened me a bit, but now the Audioslave lyric reads more like a warts-and-all acceptance that we are all beautiful and flawed and yet capable of doing amazing things if we suspend our disbelief in ourselves. Sadly, that doesn’t always mean we will conquer those dark moments when hurt rises up to drown us. I often extol the virtues of trying to communicate even through the hardest moments, but that also includes with oneself. Being an artist — shit, simply being human — has enough adrenaline rushes and serotonin crashes to kill a horse. We hopefully find ways to let the love nurture us through the shadows but when we can’t, it by no means makes a life less meaningful for a tragic ending.
Whatever drove Cornell to take his life, and regardless of various theories the validity of which we may never know for sure, he leaves behind a real legacy and one that will only strengthen in time. I know numerous musicians, myself included, who were inspired to make some of the most meaningful art or bonds of our own life by drawing influence from the risks he took. May he rest in power and give the Nazarene himself a run for his money in the Jesus Christ Pose department.