Hamell on Trial/Galynne & Markondrums; July 15, 2011; Kiki’s House of Righteous Music
The ranks of people who have only played the house twice lost another member as Hamell on Trial made his third appearance in just over two years. With a one man show as tight and scripted as Hamell’s you don’t expect many changes from time to time, especially when the shows are less than a year apart, but he surprised me by starting off the night with a half dozen new songs. He’d been writing songs at a furious pace since the last time I saw him, posting one a day to his website for 365 days straight. While the new songs were great and the audience reception was enthusiastic, it seems that people just want to hear the old stuff. The loudest applause of the night was for the songs that he plays every time. And when it came time for requests, it was for those from his Hamell catalog, like “Don’t Kill,” that he plays most every time. But I’m not going to lie, I would be disappointed if he didn’t do “John Lennon” or “The Meeting.”
The first of those tells a story he says is absolutely true, where as a child he ran into John Lennon when he and Yoko were in his home town. The tragedy is that he ran into Lennon literally, and was promptly told to “Fuck off” by his idol. The second could be considered Hamell’s creed and contains some of his best lines describing exactly what it is he does. “I’m like the Beastie Boys except I’m only one,” he claims, later saying “I’m like Nine Inch Nails except I don’t need machines.” The meeting is between him and us, the songs and the guitar, and it features some of fastest strumming. In fact it always amazes me that the battered 1940’s Gibson acoustic has survived the many years of abuse that he gives it. They just don’t make ‘em like that anymore.
Like the songs, he tends to use a lot of his jokes over and over, but the audience doesn’t seem to mind that either, laughing like they were hearing for the first time. They’re that good. The best of these was one I didn’t remember hearing before about a penguin and some vanilla ice cream. Ask me about it, it’s pretty hilarious. Hamell’s ridiculously adorable son Detroit also told his joke again, pulling the microphone down to his level to tell the one about the UPS man. Yep, that one. The truly new thing this time was that Hamell had brought some of his art with him. The brightly colored paintings often feature a musical theme, and I love my painting of the guitar player with bottles strewn around his feet playing songs to the moon.
I met openers Galynne and Markondrums when they came to my first Hamell show. This time they were joining Hamell for his three shows in Wisconsin. They describe their music as “soulful, conscious, sing-a-long pop songs.” It wasn’t really my thing, but they were lovely people. I especially enjoyed meeting Galynne’s charming son Jordan who palled around with Detroit most of the night despite being twice as old as him.
I suspect Hamell has joined the list of artists who will only place my house when they come to Madison. And that’s pretty cool.
Galynne and Markondrums
Hamell on Trial