Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Castle (The Band)

Jesse Golding's photo of Castle, The Band
This is going to get complicated. You’ll have to pay attention. Try to keep up.
            There is an indy rock/art rock/folk rock scene spread out between Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Brooklyn. Look at a map. The geographical center is Providence, Rhode Island. No surprise. Not coincidently, last year at Bonnaroo and SXSW they had workshops on how to talk with a Rhode Island accent. You can trace all of this straight back to 1974 when David Byrne was trying to learn to draw at RISD. Not to mention the Young Adults and Roomfull of Blues. Don’t get me started. It’s a complex world.
            Currently, there is the top echelon; Deer Tick, Low Anthem, Joe Fletcher. Then there is the second tier; Vudu Sister, Jonah Tolchin. And Castle (the band). They all know each other. It doesn’t seem to be a competitive thing. They seem to think the more music that gets made the better it is for everyone. What are they a bunch of commies? This is going to be mainly about Castle (the band). But wait. Hold on. First…
            There is this woman. She’s got a lot of tattoos. They keep coming. She takes beautiful photos. She is destined to be to this music scene what Astrid Kirchherr was to the Beatles, what Milton H. Greene was to Marilyn Monroe, what Robert Mapplethorpe was to Patti Smith, what Adam Ritchie was to the Velvet Underground and Pink Floyd. You want me to keep going? ‘Cause I can keep going. Anyway, this woman with the tattoos, she shot Castle (the band) in concert. While you’re reading what I got to say about Castle (the band) you should be looking at those photographs. Just look! Don’t ask questions.

            I’m getting to Castle (the band). Are you looking at the photo? But wait. First…
            There is this bar in Newport called Billy Goodes. It is an anomaly for bars in Newport, because there has never been a designer or a decorator anywhere near it. There are no ferns. None. Look it up on Yelp, where it is spelled “Goods”. Idiots! Here are the categories that Yelp uses to describe restaurants and what they say about “Goods”. In parentheses I have put what it should actually say: Attire: Casual (put your damn shirt on and pull up you pants because I don’t want to look at your boxers), Outdoor seating: no (Sure, jerk, sit on the curb after you throw up in the gutter), Alcohol: Full Bar (If by full you mean Bud and ‘Ganstte.), Good For: Dinner (LMAO), Good For Kids: no (At last some honesty. If only the Catholic Church had been so straightforward)… but, I digress. The whole point of bringing up Billy Goodes is that it is the perfect place to see Castle (the band) perform. 
            O.K. so you’re looking at Jesse Golding’s photos of Castle (the band) and you are picturing them playing at a certain Newport dive. Now, crack open a Bud or a ‘Gansette and put on their album. Crank it up. Now you’re having the Castle (the band) experience… uh, not really. You’re having the Castle (the band) album experience. As good as the album is, and it is damn good, it registers at about 60% on the energy meter as compared to a live Castle (the band) show. I should mention that the energy level at the live shows is probably illegal. Spontaneous combustion is always a distinct possibility. So, get the album, listen to it, love it, but don’t think for a minute that it means you can sit home. You still have to drag your self down to Billy Goode’s, drink cheap beer all night long, and hear a live show.
            But that isn’t going to happen tonight, so back to the album.
            Are you looking at the photo? Are you looking at Bessie Bessin? She is so beautiful. Right? And how about that voice? It is ethereal, meaning “extremely delicate and light in a way that seems too perfect for this world” according to the first definition that popped up on Google. However, she sounds less angelic than playful. Her phrasing goes for a friendly, slightly ironic, rollicking take on the lyrics. At one point, she sings, “I’m floating away.” And you picture her floating above the squalor and spilt beer at Billy Goodes born upwards by a voice that can break your heart and make you smile with delight in the span of a single phrase. I didn’t mention yet that she plays accordion! Quick, name three other chick singers who play accordion. Can’t do it can you. (Julie The Bruce, Wendy McNeill, and Niki Berger. All on You Tube.)
            Bessie Bessin is such a charming, engaging presence, that the boys in Castle (the band) have to work hard to keep things in balance. They do it. Castle (the band) is not Bessie and the Boys, but I predict you’ll spend 40% of your listening time focused on her and 60% of your contemplating time remembering her. Bessie, solo project? Come on girl! Throw the dogs a bone.
            The male line up of Castle (The Band) consists of Noah Bickford on guitar, Craig Cameron on bass, Mike Cellemme on guitar, and David Passafiome, Jr. on drums and guitar. They al pitch in on the vocals, too.

            You heard it here first. Castle (the band) is going to put Rhode Island on the map. They are going to be a destination group; you’ll come to them rather than them going to you. Billy Goodes will have the same resonance as Gerde's Folk City, The Star-Club, and The Stone Pony. People on their way from Brooklyn to Boston will get off 95 and drive all the way across the state to drink a ‘Gansette where it all started. Jesse Golding’s photos will be all over Rolling Stone. She’ll date and eventually marry Colin Kaepernick. Ain’t that some wild stuff? And it’s all true.

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