conqueroo

music publicity since 6:30 this morning

Twitter Facebook

artists

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 4, 2017

ENIGMATIC SOUTHERN GOTHIC ANATOMIST JIM WHITE — NO STRANGER TO THE EXPERIMENTAL SIDE OF THE FOLK IDIOM — RETURNS WITH GENRE-BUSTING AMERICANA HYBRID, OUT IN U.S. FEBRUARY 9, 2018

White’s sixth solo studio album, the bizarrely titled Waffles, Triangles & Jesus, is a mind-bending joy ride of sonic influences featuring a bevy of Athens, Ga. roots musicians, plus West Coast indie darlings Dead Rock West and rock ’n’ roll maverick Holly Golightly
.

PopMatters premiered a track: http://bit.ly/2BtnfJM

ATHENS, Ga. — Jim White gets around. When he’s not releasing his own critically acclaimed solo albums he splits time producing records for other songwriters, exhibiting his visual art in galleries and museums across the U.S. and Europe and publishing award winning fiction.

Prior to Waffles, Triangles & Jesus (due out in the U.S. on February 9, 2018 on People In A Place to Know label through Joyful Noise, White released five eclectic, uncategorizable albums, plus six even-stranger side projects. Numerous songs from his back catalog have appeared both in film and television, including his Primus-esque “Word-Mule” in Breaking Bad and more recently his cautionary rocker “Crash Into the Sun” appearing in Ray McKinnon’s highly praised Sundance Channel series Rectify.

A logical bookend to Wrong Eyed Jesus, White’s debut record, Waffles Triangles & Jesus charts yet another unique musical course. The moody strains of opener “Drift Away” kick off the record, incrementally building sonic impetus like some Appalachian whirlwind before exploding into a full-throated quasi-Celtic stomp.

A seeming nod to the golden age of American theater, the ensuing pastoral, “Long Long Day,” unfurls as if rendered by Aaron Copland after he’d been slipped a couple hits of top-notch LSD then embarked on a journey of self-rediscovery via some shambling, bucolic misremembered past.

As is often the case with White’s totally unpredictable approach to song craft, he eases his way back to solid ground via the kitschy, shaggy-dog-meets-space-guitar number “Playing Guitars,” accompanied on vocals by fellow indie loose cannon Holly Golightly. It’s a bit of musical alchemy that hits you the way a drunken Paul Simon/Ray Stevens collaboration might sound. Oh yeah, and if they then invited Ali Farka Touré to weave some of his melodic guitar magic over the ensuing bedlam. Oh yeah, and with Golightly singing harmonies. Confused? We are too. But somehow it all makes sense in White’s skewed aesthetic.

Never far removed from White’s sonic palate, African modalities rear their head in the sprightly “Far Beyond the Spoken World” as White effortlessly slips in and out of a falsetto typically not recommended for artists his age or gender. Banjos intermingle with Turkish cumbus, tabla, clave, hand cymbals and other exotic percussive instruments to create a welcoming organic groove.
From there White bangs a hard, pulse-quickening U-turn, arrowing toward ’80s indie pop with the epic break-up song “Silver Threads,” featuring West Coast dynamic duo Dead Rock West. A driving acoustic guitar riff laid over Marlon Patton’s ultra propulsive drum lines impels White and Cindy Wasserman’s vocal duet across emotional topography typically reserved for more morose tones. Not the case here, as triumphant vibes win the day, as White opts for notions of connectivity and hope over garden-variety self-pitying romantic malaise.

Center-point in the record finds White out on a sonic ledge with the jazz-tinged heart stopper “Prisoner’s Dilemma.” Harkening back to White’s work on No Such Place, this cinematic tale of a reprobate Death Row prisoner casually confessing his crimes to a fledgling prison evangelist is reminiscent of a Jim Thompson novel, only accompanied by a wickedly syncopated jazz core that’s offset by a bevy of sonic bangles in the forms of vibes, hooting whistles, muted trumpet solos and more.

Known for his unflinching portraits of life in the poor South, White modulates into familiar territory in the ensuing triptych of songs, starting with the somber pedal steel laced “Reason To Cry,” a lament exploring the darkest corners of Southern spirituality and madness. Case in point: even as the doomed protagonist recounts his plunge into a life of solitary dementia he frets for the well-being of his fellow townsfolk, most of whom have turned their backs on him due to his affliction.

Then down the sorrowful pike comes a reworking of an older song in White’s catalog, “Wash Away a World,” the tale of a disaffected, abused farm boy who can find no solace in the tropes of conventional groundings. With narrative content echoing Flannery O’Conner’s work and the arrangement borrowing heavily from the Tom Waits oeuvre, this song will likely become a favorite for White’s hardcore fan base, which consists primarily of English professors, defrocked priests and renegade psychiatrists.

Then comes the most unlikely song on a record of one-offs, an homage to a bit character from The Andy Griffith Show — the unhinged hillbilly Ernest T. Bass — who, in White’s twisted imagination, has at last found true love. White’s whimsical duet with Cicada Rhythm’s Andrea De Marcus, a Juilliard-trained stand-up bass player and vocalist in the Billie Holiday tradition, clears the palate clouded by the bitters of the previous three rural American daymares.
As if to more completely remedy the emotional spiral of the preceding numbers, White’s affable “Here I Am” ambles along good heartedly, dismissing any notion of self denigration in favor of, well, unqualified self-acceptance. Slinky, emblematic slide-guitar riffs over tumbling drum patterns underscore White’s endearingly lackadaisical, homespun philosophy offered up in lines such as “I saw my past and all my sins, crossroads where I turned wrong. And I guess I should have been ashamed, but it was not the case at all. What can you say, but hey-hey-hey, well, here I am…?” If The Dude from the The Big Lebowski had a theme song, this might just be it.

Waffles Triangles & Jesus closes with White’s uber-tender homage to his unborn daughter, written some 20 years ago at a tumultuous juncture when it appeared he and his child would never meet. A luminous prayer, “Sweet Bird of Mystery” is an offering White never revealed to his eldest until she was grown and able to comprehend the gravitas of such complicated life configurations. Keiko Ishibashi’s impassioned violin accompaniment lifts the composition to a dizzying emotional height, lending a decidedly Eastern feel to this ethereal finale.

The consummate collaborator, White, who plays multiple instruments on the record and also produced it, deftly employs a large cast of disparate souls on WTJ, leaning heavily on arch-traditionalist bluegrass outfit Hog Eyed Man, featuring fiddle champion Jason Cade, who doubles on clawhammer banjo as well. White’s usual suspects make strategic appearances: Rob McMaken on multiple stringed instruments, Marlon Patton on drums and bass, Pat Hargon doing star turns on guitar, with newcomer trumpet wizard Josh Klein showing fine improvisational form on several of the more upbeat tracks.

White opts for the more-is-more approach to record-making, and in the hands of a less skilled producer such a tsunami of elements could likely render the end product a train wreck of disparate influences, and yet somehow the whole record works stem to stern, defying the odds like some fantastically designed Dr. Seuss high-rise.

White is presently at work completing a memoir, Incidental Contact, based on a series of uncanny coincidences that befell him during his days driving a taxi in New York City. Two chapters of Incidental Contact, “The Bottom” and “Superwhite,” have been published in the literary music journal Radio Silence, with “Superwhite” awarded a Pushcart Prize for short fiction.

As a young man White led a self-described aimless, diverse life, working countless menial labor jobs: dishwasher, landscaper, lifeguard, cook, fiberglass laminator, road builder, culminating with 13 long years behind the wheel of that NYC taxi. He was a pro surfer. He served as literary commentator for the National Endowment of the Arts. He did a stint as a European fashion model. Samuel Beckett once played a practical joke on him. There’s a lot of additional non-linear information that doesn’t really fit the usual bio format.

But that’s Jim — he gets around.

# # #
HEAR NOW: PopMatters premiered a track: http://bit.ly/2BtnfJM




 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 5, 2015

JIM WHITE VS. THE PACKWAY HANDLE BAND
MARRY BLUEGRASS AND SOUTHERN GOTHIC
ON NEW YEP ROC ALBUM TAKE IT LIKE A MAN

White, Packway Handle Band announce U.S. dates
supporting January 27 release

ATHENS, Ga. — The Packway Handle Band likely had no idea just how wild a trip they were packing for when they asked fellow Georgian Jim White to produce their album, but before they knew it, Take It Like a Man was a full-on collaboration by a conjoined entity known as Jim White vs. The Packway Handle Band. Yep Roc Records will unleash the result on January 27, 2015; White and the band will celebrate by unleashing their anything-but-traditional bluegrass sound at fine establishments throughout the South. (See dates below.)

Word of their unorthodox union is already being heralded with pronouncements such as this one from No Depression, hailing the album as “ a joyous collision of styles that adds a bit of ‘edge’ and some pretty cool melodies to this straight-laced music.”

Uncut magazine named it “Best American Album of the Month,” citing, “Like most everything White does,Take It Like a Man is a discourse that demands attention." MOJO also declared it “Americana Album of the Month,” calling it :haunting and literate, almost unbearably beautiful.”

It came about when the Athens quintet learned their producer had a massive stash of bluegrass-inspired songs just waiting to be flung on the world — and had decided they would make the perfect slingshot. “When I’d heard ’em play a couple of years earlier,” White says, “I muttered under my breath, ‘I wish I could have that much fun playing music.’ When they offered me the chance to produce, I thought, ‘How can I undermine this?’”

Describing the album as “a synthesis between their zany bluegrass sound and my long-suffering, implosive-depressive novelist view of the South,” White says it fulfills his “conniving goal to become a happy bluegrass man.”

Sounding like an ivory-tower academic one minute and a stand-up comedian the next, he says “versus” addresses the “conflagration of opposing mindsets” as an answer to the question, “What happens when we throw these two unlikely elements together?”

Though he claims it took some wrangling to make his devious plan work, Packway guitarist Josh Erwin assures no punches were thrown. In fact, the band sought White’s involvement precisely because they felt the need for objective guidance. After a decade plus of playing their brand of “ apocalyptic infotainment” together, the five players — four of whom have been connected since high school — wanted to branch out. Exposed to White’s eclectic music via a Texas DJ at the 2006 Burning Man festival, they became fans after viewing Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus, the BBC documentary inspired by and taking its title from his 1997 debut album, The Mysterious Tale of How I Shouted Wrong-Eyed Jesus.

While producing the Skipperdees’ 2013 album Some Bright Mourning, White needed a bluegrass band and called the Packways. A good time was had by all. They decided to tap him for their next project. “He directed the concept,” Packway fiddler Andrew Heaton explains. “He went through our songs, and with some needed frankness, told us which ones he thought would and would not work. And after he provided us with 20 of his, we told him which ones we were going to do. So he had the majority of the say on our numbers and we had the majority of the say on his.”

The album alternates White and Packway compositions; only one track, the campy bluegrass rave-up “Corn Pone Refugee,” is a co-write (by White and Erwin).

Despite the “versus” construct, Take It Like a Man is indeed about connecting, White says. “The whole point with anything artistic is to unify, to draw together,” he notes. “I try to do that with every project, and often the long shots are the most interesting propositions.

“One of the most beautiful qualities I love about bluegrass is its simplicity,” White says. “It’s incredibly elaborate moment to moment, but the overall arc is usually really simplistic. It’s more about the quality of the voice than the virtuosity of the player. And you can take five homespun voices and put them together on a bluegrass harmony, and all the sudden, something magic happens.”

It certainly occurs in the first single, “Not a Song,” by Packway mandolinist Michael Paynter. An infectious, upbeat melody fueled by clever lyrics and la-da-da harmonies, it inspired White’s preteen daughter to start singing along the first time she heard it. “ I always wanted a song that my kids would happily sing along with,” he says. “That was a fine moment.”

Says Heaton, “We put a lot of time into trying to write something that seemed more relevant or contemporary. We got so far with it and were satisfied we had done a pretty good job. But when Jim heard it he found four or five fundamental limitations that he changed. It went from something that had a huge amount of potential and would certainly be one of our fans’ favorite songs, to something that might actually appeal to a wide audience.”

The success of their mutual boundary-stretching can be heard in every one of these 11 songs, and in their joint performances. “I’ve always had a cinematic approach and don’t approximate it especially well live,” says White. “They are one of the best live bands you’ll ever hear. They don’t get too wrapped up in the notion of self-reflection or philosophy; they just go out and have fun. And at this point in my life, I want some of that action.”

White’s previous label had spurned his bluegrass-leaning songs. “So I was always in the closet as far as bluegrass was concerned. I got to come out on this record,” he says. “I got to play those harmonies that I really like. That mindset is a world that I’m fascinated by.”

That would include the sometimes “comic and surreal” place where bluegrass meets religion in Southern culture, a place he captures in “Jim 3:16,” which features understated picking by Erwin and banjo player Tom Baker. In it, White not only makes the irrefutable observation, “a bar is just a church where they serve beer,” he also calls out Sleepy LaBeef. The story harks back to when White, “a card-carrying heretic,” was asked to participate in a Sunday gospel sing at the Calgary Folk Festival following the release of Wrong-Eyed Jesus.

“Thankfully, I thought at the time, up walks Sleepy LaBeef, the legendary whiskey-drinkin’, Nudie suit-wearin’, hell-raisin’ rockabilly legend. I figured I had some heretic company for a lively musical dialogue with the white gospel bluegrass bands sharing the stage,” White recalls. “So I sang a song called ‘God Was Drunk When He Made Me.’ The bluegrass groups did not take it well, fomenting the Pentecostal equivalent of Jihad, wanting to Jihad my ass right off the stage. I looked over at Sleepy for moral support and he smiled at me and muttered in his whiskey baritone, ‘You will burn in hell for that song, boy.’ Then he went to the mic and said, ‘I know I have a rep for being a bad man, but six months ago, I rededicated my life to Jesus.’

“He followed me around that whole festival tryin’ to win me back to the Lord,” White says. “When I got home, I started trying to figure out what I would have said to him if I’d thought of it. That song is my mission statement to Sleepy LaBeef. Nobody ever wanted it on a record because it is what it is. When I showed it to these guys, they’re like, ‘Hell, yes, we’re putting that on the record.’”

White’s got a beguiling yarn for nearly every song on the album, though some, like the reason he included “Wordmule Revisited,” are relatively straightforward. In that case, he wanted to try “a crazy bluegrass version” of the original, which appeared in the TV show Breaking Bad.

Though White and the Packway Handle Band gathered together to commit unholy acts of musical fun, the song “Sorrow’s Shine” — a unanimous Packway pick — is, White says, his way of letting fans know he’s still in touch with his serious side.

“I don’t want to get too lost in this fun-loving bluegrass thing,” he jokes. But whether their songs draw laughter or tears, Jim White and the Packway Handle Band make a great musical match.

Tour dates:
Fri., Jan. 30 WAVERLY, AL Standard Deluxe
Sat., Jan. 31 ATHENS, GA Melting Point
Thurs.-Fri., Feb. 5-6 DECATUR, GA Eddies Attic
Sat., Feb. 7 NASHVILLE TN High Watt
Sat., Feb. 14 BIRMINGHAM, AL Work Play
Thurs., Feb. 19 ASHEVILLE, NC Isis
Fri., Feb. 20 CHARLOTTE, NC Visualite
Sat., Feb. 21 CHATTANOOGA, TN Barking Legs
Sat., March 14 MACON, GA Cox Capital
Fri., May 1 TAMPA, FL Tropical Heatwave
Sun., May 17 ATLANTA, GA Shaky Boots Festival

# # #
Hear Jim White vs. The Packway Handle Band!
Hear the premiere of "Not a Song" at American Songwriter
Hear the premiere of "Jim 3:16" at Relix .
Hear the premiere of "Conepone Refugee" at The Bluegrass Situation.
Hear the premiere of "Sorrow's Shine" at Acoustic Guitar.
Hear the premere of "Breathing Room" at Paste today.

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 14, 2014

MSOUTHERN-GOTHIC APOSTLE JIM WHITE REVEALS BLUEGRASS SIDEON NEW YEP ROC RELEASE TAKE IT LIKE A MAN,
BY JIM WHITE VS. THE PACKWAY HANDLE BAND

White, Packway Handle Band to tour U.S. around album’s
January 27 street date

ATHENS, Ga. — In Jim White’s 100-mile-a-minute mind, so many thoughts flit about, one has to wonder how many escape before he can grab them. Considering how many he does manage to transform into award-winning short stories, visual- or performing-arts installations and most notably, songs, we’re guessin’ gazillions.

So prodigious is White’s song output, when Athens outfit the Packway Handle Band sought him out to produce an album, the quintet learned he had a massive stash of bluegrass songs just waiting to be sprung on the world — and they would make the perfect slingshot. “When I’d heard ’em play a couple of years earlier,” White says, “I muttered under my breath, ‘I wish I could have that much fun playing music.’ When they offered me the chance to produce, I thought, ‘How can I undermine this?’” The answer is Take It Like A Man, the new Yep Roc Records release by Jim White vs. the Packway Handle Band, due out January 27, 2015.

Describing it as “a synthesis between their zany bluegrass sound and my long-suffering, implosive-depressive novelist view of the south,” White says it fulfills his “conniving goal to become a happy bluegrass man.”

Sounding like an ivory-tower academic one minute and a stand-up comedian the next, he explains that term versus addresses the “conflagration of opposing mindsets” as an answer to the question, “What happens when we throw these two unlikely elements together?”

Though White says it took a bit of wrangling to make his devious plan work, Packway guitarist Josh Erwin assures no punches were thrown. In fact, the band sought White’s involvement precisely because they felt the need for some objective guidance. After more than a decade of playing their brand of “apocalyptic infotainment” together, the quintet — four of whom have been connected since high school — wanted to branch out. First exposed to White’s eclectic music via a Texas DJ at the 2006 Burning Man festival, they became fans after viewing the BBC documentary Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus, inspired by and taking its title from his 1997 debut album, The Mysterious Tale of How I Shouted Wrong-Eyed Jesus.

While producing The Skipperdees’ 2013 album, Some Bright Mourning, White needed a bluegrass band as accompanists and called the Packways. A good time was had by all. They decided to tap him for their next project.

“He directed the concept,” Packway fiddler Andrew Heaton explains. “He went through our songs, and with some needed frankness, told us which ones he thought would and would not work. And after he provided us with 20 of his, we told him which ones we were going to do. So he had the majority of the say on our numbers and we had the majority of the say on his.”

The album alternates between White and Packway compositions; only one track, the campy bluegrass rave-up “Corn Pone Refugee,” is a co-write (credited to White and Erwin).

Despite the “versus” construct, Take It Like A Man is actually about connecting, White notes. “The whole point with anything artistic is to unify, to draw together,” he says. “I try to do that with every project, and often the long shots are the most interesting propositions.

“One of the most beautiful qualities about bluegrass is its simplicity,” White muses. “It’s incredibly elaborate moment to moment, but the overall arc is usually really simplistic. It’s more about the quality of the voice than the virtuosity of the player. And you can take five homespun voices and put them together on a bluegrass harmony, and all the sudden, something magic happens.”

It certainly occurs in the first single, “Not A Song,” by Packway mandolinist Michael Paynter. It’s an infectious, upbeat melody fueled by clever lyrics and la-da-da harmonies; White says his eight-year-old daughter started singing along the first time she heard it. “I always wanted a song that my kids would happily sing along with,” he says. “That was a fine moment.”

Says Heaton, “We put a lot of time into trying to write something that seemed more relevant or contemporary. We got so far with it and were satisfied we had done a pretty good job. But when Jim heard it he found four or five fundamental limitations that he changed. It went from something that had a huge amount of potential and would certainly be one of our fans’ favorite songs, to something that might actually appeal to a wide audience.”

The success of their mutual boundary-stretching can be heard in every one of these 11 songs, and is spilling over into their joint performances as well. “I’ve always had a cinematic approach and don’t approximate it especially well live,” says White. “They are one of the best live bands you’ll ever hear. They don’t get too wrapped up in the notion of self reflection or philosophy; they just go out and have fun. And at this point in my life, I want some of that action.”

His previous label had spurned his bluegrass-leaning songs, White says. “So I was always in the closet as far as bluegrass was concerned. I got to come out on this record. I got to sing those harmonies that I really like. And a lot of that mindset is a world that I’m fascinated by.”

That would include the sometimes “comic and surreal” place where bluegrass meets religion in Southern culture, a place he captures in “Jim 3:16,” which features understated picking by Erwin and banjo player Tom Baker. In it, White not only makes the irrefutable observation, “a bar is just a church where they serve beer,” he also calls out rockabilly legend Sleepy LaBeef. The story harks back to when White, “a card-carrying heretic,” was asked to participate in a Sunday-morning gospel sing at the Calgary Folk Festival following the release of Wrong-Eyed Jesus.

“So there I was at this religious sing, and up walks Sleepy LaBeef, the legendary whiskey-drinkin’, Nudie suit-wearin’, hell-raisin’ rockabilly legend. I figured I had some heretic company for a lively theological musical dialogue with the white gospel bluegrass bands sharing the stage,” White recalls. “So I sang a song called ‘God Was Drunk When He Made Me.’ The bluegrass groups did not take it well, fomenting the Pentecostal equivalent of Jihad, wanting to Jihad my ass right off the stage. I looked over at Sleepy for moral support and he smiled at me and muttered in his whiskey-soaked baritone, ‘You will burn in hell for that song, boy.’ Then he went to the mic and said, ‘I know I have a rep for being a bad man, but six months ago, I rededicated my life to Jesus.’

“He followed me around that whole festival tryin’ to win me back to the Lord,” White says. “When I got home, I started trying to figure out what I would have should have said back to him if I’d thought of it. That song is my mission statement to Sleepy LaBeef. Nobody ever wanted it on a record because it’s sort of a gimmick song. When I showed it to these guys, they’re like, ‘Hell, yes, we’re putting that on the record.’”

Then he goes on a tangent involving LaBeef’s pre-salvation role in a soft-core porn film by Ron Ormond, whom White calls “the most fascinating artistic character ever.” It’s quite the tale; White’s got a beguiling yarn for nearly every song on the album, though some, like the reason he included “Wordmule Revisited,” are relatively straightforward. In that case, he wanted to try “a crazy bluegrass version” of the original, which appeared in the TV show Breaking Bad.

In the hands of White and the ebullient Packway Handle Band, the whole album adds up to a huge dose of fun, though the track “Sorrow’s Shine” — a unanimous Packway pick — is, White says, his way of letting fans know he’s still in touch with his serious side.

“I don’t want to get too lost in this fun-loving bluegrass thing,” he admits, adding how much he values humor and whimsy as a uniting force. Which remains his ultimate point of music-making, too.

“I have this idea about popular music,” he says. “The verse is all about the individual; the chorus is about all about the union with others. When you get to the chorus, you want everybody to feel like this is their part where they get to join in. It feeds into my fundamental ideas about energy in the universe, which is that there are two forms of energy: The force of separation and the force of union. And the interplay between the two is how everything happens. It’s the metaphysics of pop music.”

For those who prefer to skip Professor White’s metaphysics class, just jump to the chorus and chime right in.

###

 

Artist Photo