Bootstrap Boys / Corn Potato String Band / Sold Only as Curio / Vernon Tonges

Thu, Mar 9, 2017 @ 8:00 pm to 2:00am

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Thursday, March 9 / 8pm doors, 9pm music / $5
Bootstrap Boys (Country)
Corn Potato String Band (Ballads/Ho-downs/Country rags/Southern gospel)
Sold Only as Curio (Hoodoo dance punk)
Vernon Tonges (Wildman Americana)

The Bootstrap Boys are a Grand Rapids based outfit laying down sweet country sounds with harmonies, twangy guitars and solid rhythms since early 2015.

The Corn Potato String Band has achieved high praise in traditional American music, keeping old time fiddle and banjo music from a one-way trip to the dustbins of history. Theirs is a story of struggle, hard knocks and triumph. Essentially unable to cope with modern life, the members of this band are outcasts of society who survive by playing the lost music of the flatlands where they were raised.

The Corn Potatos have delighted audiences with their driving fiddle tunes and harmonious singing across the US, Canada, Europe, Mexico, and India. They are all multi-instrumentalists dedicated to continuing the music and dance traditions of the Central and Southern US. In addition to being champion fiddlers they play banjo, guitar, bass and mandolin and deftly handle many different antiquated styles including ballads, “ho-downs,” country “rags” and southern gospel, specializing in twin fiddling and double banjo tunes.

Sold Only As Curio: Gregory Mulkern, Brokaw Jackson, and Bianka Black played their first gig together in a Pioneer Cemetery on Halloween whilst other performers re-enacted the pioneer Oregonian lives of the graves they stood on. Being close to the dead makes for some dark music. So their first year together they played out the sorrowful stories and dark depths in their musical soul. But then just like at a wake a funny thing happened…

In the end, death makes you remember why you’re alive. You want to cry but then to dance, to laugh, to fuck, because what’s more life affirming than sex. The answer- Music. So steadily the band has become more and more energy and dance oriented, never forgetting depth of those who came before us but also living for those who can not.

Drawing from world traditions and also the fantastic influence of thriving new music around the world of all kinds Sold Only As Curio makes music to move you in more ways than one.

[T]he music of Vernon Tonges presents a peculiar anomaly: Performing widely throughout the late 20th and early 21st centuries and plagued with frustration and bouts of depression, he has since become a willfully obscurantist figure. His penchant for childish aliases (i.e., Spoo Willoughby, Carlos Thrombosis, Melvin von Peephole, etc.) further thwarts the creation of a cogent analysis. Impatient with the costly and stultifying taxidermy of studio recording, his legend has been perpetuated through the media of low quality phone-recorded performances, YouTube clips and extremely rough home recordings; these rise occasionally like jetsam from an especially gruesome shipwreck and circulate widely among his tiny coterie of fans. However, his reputation rests mostly on the indelible ephemera of his live performances, in coffeehouses, taverns, church basements, art galleries, house parties, barbeque joints, parking lots and street corners throughout the Midwest Rust Belt, often unannounced and impromptu. In spite of these self-imposed limitations, he finds small enclaves of enthusiastic fans for his inchoate howlings. His repertoire mixes original material with gleanings from his haphazard researches into little-known artifacts from forgotten pop music and obscure folkways. He revels in the awkward and clumsy moments most performers shun and occasionally deploys spontaneity as an improvised audience assault weapon. His on-stage utterances simultaneously enlighten and baffle: He describes the anthemic “Thundergoose” as an “invocation of an atavistic totem god” and introduces a tune called “The Pudknocker’s Jubilee” as his tribute to the “therapeutic benefits of certain entheogenic elixirs.” All in all, it redounds to everyone’s benefit to keep Mr. Tonges on stage where he can be carefully watched since, left to his own devices, he is capable of much mayhem.