When Clem Snide’s Eef Barzelay played the house last fall for KHoRM’s 100th show I asked one of my favorite local musicians, Dietrich Gosser, to open. He brought along, as he often does, his avant percussionist Dan Kuemmel. Since the first time I saw Gosser and instantly became a fan a decade ago, I have also been a fan of Kuemmel’s. He’s an intuitive player, carefully choosing which of his myriad of noise makers to use next. Barzelay was similarly impressed, and the two have been working together ever since. This was the first chance I’d had to see the results of my unknowing matchmaking, and I would say the relationship is going pretty well. Kuemmel adds a whole new level to these songs that I’ve known for years, reinventing them and taking them new places. I think that’s just what Barzelay was looking for.
“Is it too early for this one?” he asked rhetorically about the second song on his set list. “Something Beautiful” has always been one of my favorite Clem Snide songs (first hearing it in Barcelona with opener Andrew Bird accompanying will do that), but tonight it became a different song. It was slinky and sexy before, the narrator’s reckless behavior seems harmless, “You make me wanna fold the map imperfectly.” Tonight I heard the darker side, “Sip Lysol from a cup, so clean is hurts.” Without a full band waiting behind him, he took the time to tell the stories behind some of the songs, whether we wanted him to or not. He got slightly scatological when describing the route of one of the small picks he used to use after he’d accidentally swallowed one. He claims he thought about retrieving it, but changed his mind when he realized the whole thing might happen all over again. He also started using bigger picks. There were tales of conspiracy theorists, and the battle of “Love Vs Death” in which “death always wins.” He ended the night with two great covers. The first I’d heard before and wasn’t surprised when he began Journey’s “Faithfully,” after all, Clem Snide had released a record (a vinyl record that is) of Journey covers a few years back. His second cover was the heartfelt ballad “All the Way,” made popular by Frank Sinatra. Barzelay’s humor often seems tongue in cheek, but both of these songs were sweetly serious.
I’ve been seeing Trapper Schoepp play for the last six years, so it’s always a surprise to remember that he’s just 23 years old. Even so, he (with or without backing band the Shades) have toured with the Wallflowers, Soul Asylum, the Old 97’s and a solo Rhett Miller. Despite the time spent on those big stages, he’s wanted to play at the house for years. He played most of tonight’s set solo, but invited his brother Tanner up for several songs which may have been my favorites of the night. A recent trip out west ended with a broke down van in Ogallala Nebraska, a town name just made for harmony vocals, and a great new song called, you guessed it, “Ogallala.” After playing “Dear Prospect,” a song he’d written for a friend who had just been drafted by the LA Dodgers, Bill whispered that they should play that song before the Baseball Project show in August. They had the same thought, and I look forward to having them back. They also ended their set with a cover, this one as timeless as Barzelay’s final selection. The Everly Brothers’ “Bye Bye Love” is a natural fit for these brothers’ harmony vocals. And it was gorgeous. I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole night.