20 November 2010

Bob Lefsetz on Malcolm Holcombe

Delighted to get Bob Lefsetz' latest post this morning which happens to be about Malcolm Holcombe.  I don't remember if I first heard about Holcombe from England's  DJ Hillfunk or from No Depression mag...both happened about the same time. But not long after I saw Malcolm Holcombe in a tiny venue in Jacksonvillle with my friends Barb and Karl. We sat maybe three feet from the stage. It was like no one i'd seen before. If you ever get the chance to see Malcolm Holcombe live Please go out of your way to do it. Lefsetz' post is pasted below the vid:


I'm sitting here trying to catch up on e-mail before I hit the rain-soaked freeway and the tonality of the following e-mail, the humble quality, the fact that this guy said he was just about to give up in light of the brilliance of the linked performer made me click through.



Not sure if you have ever caught this guy before, but he is amazing. I damn near threw in the towel with the music I was playing, 'cause when I heard him - he was doing what I had in my head. This may not be the best clip, but it shows the energy he puts into his music. I always try and catch him when he comes through Austin.

Take it easy, but take it!

Aaron Franz


And I'm not watching, I'm in my mail program as the clip is unspooling in the background.  But this dude is rambling to the point of incomprehensibility and Aaron said this wasn't the best clip so I click through to Safari to turn it off and...THE GUY STARTS TO WAIL!

You know it when you see it.  It's something you feel.  Deep down inside.  It's like there's a tiny flame and suddenly a breeze comes in and turns it into a fire and ultimately a conflagration.

And it happens most when you least expect it.  And you hope and pray you're not let down, that the performer can sustain your interest, that there's not a lame chorus, that he doesn't disappoint you.  And you're hanging in there, like walking on ice from your front door to your automobile, hoping to make it without falling.  But if you slip you'll just have another disappointment in this endless series of moments we call life.  Whereas the performer has probably lost your interest forever and will fade away and not radiate.

But when it's right...

Music is something you hear.  It's not something you see.  And when you hear it, it makes you feel human.

This is completely different from what they're selling on Top Forty radio.  That's not humanity.  That's artifice.  There's a market for that.  But less of one than ever in these troubled times.  For all the lemmings following the antics of these twits desirous of getting rich there's a plethora of people who've rejected music, because it just doesn't touch them.

But if you're not touched by Malcolm Holcombe, you're not alive.  And it isn't about blowing him up, parading him in "Parade", it's the cumulative effect of multiple Holcombes that creates a scene that makes people pay attention to music, become enraptured, talk about it, devour tracks like they're food.

How does this barely coherent guy manage to knock it out of the park?

But isn't that the way it is.  The best artists are troubled.  They can't show up on time.  All they can do is this.  Lay down their story in song.

Corporations hate these people.  They want performers who will show up in the early a.m. for "Today", who won't cuss and get drunk at inopportune moments.

Cursory research tells me Malcolm Holcombe once had a deal with Geffen Records.  That's not important to me.  It's not about history, it's about performance.  Watching this clip makes me want to see him live.  Sure, I might like a record.  But the sound he gets in this room, that's the one I want.  The undiluted, unfiltered honesty.

I can't do what Malcolm Holcombe does.  That's one of the things that draws me to him.

Just listen.  This is what we're looking for. This is our roots.  This is the underpinning.  And without a basis, without music that can be summed up on one guitar in an empty room, we've got nothing.  Hearing this makes you a fan.  Not only of Holcombe, but music.

Malcolm Holcombe 9 from ricksaunders on Vimeo.

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