Remember that scene from Days of Thunder when Robert Duvall says, incredulously, “There ain’t nothin’ stock about a stock car”? (I hope you remember it, because I couldn’t find it on YouTube, which was a bitter disappointment. C’mon, Internet.)
That line came to mind when I listened to Bone & Company’s cover of the traditional folk song “Moonshiner.” I’ve been though periods of light obsession with four other recordings of “Moonshiner” — first Frank Hoier’s (after I saw him play it in a since-closed Richmond coffee shop I can’t recall the name of), then Bob Dylan’s, then Punch Brothers’, then Cat Power’s. They’re all fantastic, but they’re all, well, traditional. To greater and lesser degrees, they fit a template that’s been agreed upon over the years, traits acquired through a natural selection-ish process of addition and subtraction. Acoustic guitar. Fingerpicking. Long, resigned notes sung over sparse arrangements that suit the lyrics’ message of isolation. Even the Punch Brothers version, which adds layers of graceful complexity as only PB can, and Cat Power’s, with its mournful chords and atmospherics, can’t escape the song’s well-established tone. They’re evolved, but they’re still close biological relatives.
The version of “Moonshiner” recently released by Harrisonburg’s Bone & Company feels like a different animal.
Would you punch me in the face if I started yet another post by bragging about a weekend beach trip? Go ahead… I deserve it
On Friday evening, Mrs. YHT and I absconded to Nags Head, NC, where a few friends had rented a cozy little cottage — the kind that has gently warped floorboards and makes you feel like life is much simpler than you regularly perceive it to be. After a late night Michael Jackson/Girl Talk dance party and a Saturday afternoon spent battling a windy beach and the most violent non-hurricane ocean conditions I can remember seeing in the Outer Banks, we settled in for a low-key game night.
OK, so “low-key” probably isn’t the right word to use when you’re playing Cards Against Humanity. This was my second time playing the game, which can best be described as Apples to Apples‘ louder, hilariously evil twin. Here’s how it works: when it’s your turn, you draw a black prompt card, on which an incomplete sentence is printed. The rest of the players try complete that sentence with one of their white cards, on which appear a variety of (often offensive) phrases, and you get to pick the one you like best. A quick example, using actual cards from the game…
“The class field trip was completely ruined by ______.”
- “Racially-biased SAT questions”
- “Another goddamn vampire movie”
- “Waking up half naked in a Denny’s parking lot”
- “Sarah Palin.”
(For the record, I’d probably choose “Sarah Palin,” with “Another goddamn vampire movie” coming in a close second.)
The whole thing is a fascinating exercise in subjectivity and context. Black cards establish the parameters, white cards provide evocative specificity, and each player’s unique bias acts as a bridge between the two. Together, all three work hand-in-hand to form a complete and meaningful thought — I swear it’s funnier than I’m making it sound — and strangely enough, thinking about this process helped me understand why I love Cat Power’s new song “Manhattan” so much.
Kitten » Cat Power from The Voice Project on Vimeo.
There are still people who believe that music can help bring peace to the world, and it warms my heart to tell you I found some of those people today. I just learned about the Voice Project, a non-profit organization that seeks to bring comfort to the women who have fallen victim to the decades-long war in Northern Uganda. To raise money, the organization has asked musicians cover each others’ songs, so that our enjoyment can be turned into sponsorships and donations. It’s a beautiful concept, and I think I found the most beautiful song on the whole site – Kitten covering “The Greatest” by Cat Power. Thanks to my coworker Susie and Hype Machine, I’d heard Kitten’s song “Kill the Light,” and I’d heard Cat Power’s song “The Greatest” numerous times, but hadn’t delved too much deeper into either artist. This captivating rendition is overflowing with soul, and it’s definitely inspired me to check out Kitten’s Sunday School EP. Watch their amazing, 15-year-old lead singer cover “The Greatest” above, and try out “Kill the Light” below. And be sure to stop by the Voice Project’s page to support this worthy cause.