Monday, February 19, 2007

Fear and Trembling

I was able to attend my first real Daniel Johnston show last night, as in Danny and the Nightmares, that is Johnston's full fledged chamber garage punk band. The Nightmares may not be the most adept ensemble, but they're just fine for what Johnston is doing these days, a sloppy, loose garage punk/glam/Beatles obsessed indie pop that actually deserves the rapt attention it received last night at the Granada Theater. I hope you've seen the movie, as it will only make you love him more, and it's a cool chronicle of the American underground rock scene of the 80s to boot, but I must admit what's the nicest about all this is the guy is simply up to the task these days, playing mostly compelling new stuff and a few old gems when appropriate. Making a little more money, maintaining a good schedule, not flaking or flipping as he has so famously in his more tormented past. Daniel really is a national treasure, a Texan treasure, a fractured genius even...but not so much in that his mind is impaired, because it appears when he's on his meds the manic episodes are kept at bay, and he's obviously a fucking genius. As to his heart and emotions? This is the stuff of mythical discontent and endless longing. Johnston is up there with Nick Drake and Townes Van Zandt when it comes to such gaping wound emotionalism, though he's definitely got a loose, sloppy approach that's all his own. He also played a perfectly destroyed version of "Band on the Run." Was struck by his trembling arms during most of the set and hope this was merely a negative manifestation of stage-fright, but who knows...

A shot of Daniel engulfed in the Holy Light of Immaculate Performance Perfection: And a scan of the image I asked Daniel to draw after the show as a replacement for the one he drew me 5 years ago in Austin and I promptly lost. My friend James insists I will find it in the pages of an old magazine or the spine of a CD sometime in the next five years And exactly one week previous I was able to view MV/EE at Shawn McMillen's house in Austin, and it was simply one of the most magical, drunken evenings of my meager existence. Also saw McMillen play a solo set (absolutely gorgeous ethnic drone power minimalism as evinced on his excellent "Catfish" LP) and Ralph White unleash his own kind of primitive Americana, and I recorded almost all of it to minidisc! No God I was so drunk. I love all of you and hope we can do it again real soon. The Bummer Road's Green Blues is fucking beautiful solar blues of the highest order and Zuma didn't even bite me! I'm in...oh Sweet Jesus am I in. Here's the cover of MV/EE's new CD-R, Goodbye Moonface on Wabana. I'm honored to call them my friends.

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