Monday, September 22, 2008

Nate Palan/Aaron Scholz/Shooter Jane/Kyle Motor; September 22, 2008; High Noon Saloon

It seemed that Nate Palan would always be a part of Madison’s music scene. A member of Irish rockers The Kissers, leader of arguably Madison’s best cover band The Hometown Sweethearts, as well as singer and guitarist for his original projects Electric Automatic and the GodDamns, Palan was probably the town’s most visible musician, and then he was gone. Palan and his wife, the lovely and talented Kari Bethke, moved to New York at the end of the summer. Luckily for us, the Hometown Sweethearts are also Madison’s most popular wedding band, and since most people book their entertainment a year or more in advance, we can still look forward to seeing him around town every once in awhile.

This week might as well have been designated Nate Fest with every night featuring a different kind of show at a different venue. Tuesday saw the Sweethearts in their traditional slot at the Crystal, Wednesday brought a Nate show at the Weary Traveler, and he ended the week at Mickey’s Tavern with an Electric Automatic/GodDamns double bill. Since I knew I wasn’t going to be able to make any of the other shows I definitely wanted to be at this one. Surprisingly for a bill made up of solo artists, Nate was the only one playing an acoustic guitar. His set was made up mostly of original tunes, and it was especially good to hear a few Electric Automatic songs sprinkled in, while the rest of the performers were almost more memorable for their covers than their originals.

Kyle Motor started the night with a request from Bob Koch, which was nice of him, except that Bob wasn’t actually there yet. When he asked him to play it again later, Motor responded that you can’t play “The Bottomless Pit of Despair” more than once. OK, so I’m pretty sure that wasn’t actually the title, but it was something with an equally depressing name. Two other covers were the high points for me, not because they were better than his other songs, but because they were so surprising. The first was “Going Through Your Purse” by the tragically underrated, and ultimately tragic, band Material Issue. Producers of some of the most ridiculously catchy power pop I’ve ever heard (“Purse” being one of the catchiest); they never got the attention they deserved. The second was Big Star’s lovely “Thirteen,” a song that actually seemed more in character with Aaron Scholz than Motor.

Scholz played third in tonight’s line-up, filling in for the originally scheduled Bucky Pope. Since he’s the leader of Madison’s most intriguing cover band it wasn’t a surprise that he included a few non-originals in his set (the Who’s “Going Mobile” was especially nice). What seemed more surprising was the number of his own songs. With the popularity of the Low Czars it is easy to forget that Aaron first made his name in Madison as a singer/songwriter and released an excellent solo CD. It was good to see him playing those songs again; he should do it a little more often.

Rounding out the night was Shooter Jane, the new alter ego of Wendy Bugatti, who is probably best known as the lead singer for Bugattitype 35. A fixture at O’Cayz Corral, the last time I recall seeing them was at a benefit after a fire destroyed that venue. She also featured some interesting covers, Steve Earle’s “Christmas in Washington” was a standout, which matched her voice well. More than just the token female on the bill, she held her own nicely against the boys.

An acquaintance seemed surprised to see me there, “I thought you didn’t like singer-songwriters,” she claimed. Obviously she had me confused with someone else, I can’t think of a single genre I like better, and tonight was a nice sampling of the local talent.

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