Dusted Features

Listed: David Grubbs

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Features

Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists determined by our favorite artists. This week: Literary thought-rocker David Grubbs.

Listed: David Grubbs

David Grubbs

One would be hard pressed to find a musician with a career as versatile than that of David Grubbs. On the rock end of the spectrum, he has crossed paths and collaborated with the likes of Jim O'Rourke (with whom he formed Gastr Del Sol), John McEntire (who drummed for Bastro), Brian McMahan (with whom he played in Squirrel Bait). However, his skills are not limited to rock, however "avant" it may be, and Grubbs has also performed and recorded with luminaries such as Mats Gustafsson, Tony Conrad, Markus Popp, and many others. In addition to recording, he also runs his own label, Blue Chopsticks, whose 2001 release by Workshop was a Dusted favorite. Grubbs, who spent much of his musical career in Chicago, currently lives in New York and has released a number of solo albums during the past few years, including 2002's Rickets and Scurvy (Drag City), which brough him great critical praise - something he's had no shortage of during the course of his career.

1. Arthur Russell’s singing - I’ve been so taken with the two recent Arthur Russell anthologies — Audika’s Calling Out of Context and Soul Jazz’s The World of Arthur Russell — that I’m limiting myself to one spin daily to prolong the pleasure. People have always raved about the disco stuff, but I’m first and foremost stuck on his way with a lyric. Extremely moving and often fabulously funny. I also recommend the criminally neglected 1992 Another Thought (Point Music--lots of copies on half.com).

2. Variations V at Anthology Film Archives’ John Cage film and video festival - There was a lot of hit and miss at this festival, but the most exciting thing I saw was a 1965 West German television film of a Merce Cunningham company performance with music by Cage, David Tudor, and Gordon Mumma. The gritty, grimy live electronic music makes so much sense in this context. I’m used to seeing the Cunningham company without Merce himself dancing; in this film, he’s usually near the chaos’s epicenter. How strange also, when the lights come up, to see the 90 year-old Cunningham in one of those uncomfortable Anthology seats.

3. Robert Gordon - Can’t Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters - A great book about so many things—Chicago, race, families, Chess Records, Mississippi, the economics of a life in music—all vectored through the improbable, unique life of Muddy Waters. A small mountain of research delivered in sharp, smart prose.

4. Chinstrap penguins - Dinitia Smith’s New York Times article about homosexuality in animals (“Love That Dare Not Squeak Its Name”) features Silo and Roy, male chinstrap penguins who live at the Central Park Zoo and seem to be very much in love. A couple of years ago, the two tried to hatch a rock. Alert, non-discriminatory zookeepers gave them an egg, and now they’re the proud fathers of a daughter, Tango. Icons on the road to gay marriage.

5. Susan Howe - The Midnight - A good entrance into Susan Howe’s poetry, interspersing as it does lengthy sequences of poems with two autobiographical prose sections. The inclusion of photographs makes for an unexpected and probably incidental similarity to W.G. Sebald’s books.

6. UbuWeb - www.ubu.com. You have to see it with your own eyes. I’m intimidated by the sheer volume of material contained on the site, so I’ve started with their sound archive, downloading otherwise impossible-to-find work by Bruce Nauman, Terry Fox, Mike Kelley, Beckett, Cage, etc., etc., etc.

7. James Luther Dickinson - Dixie Fried (Sepia-Tone) - Oddball Memphis who’s-who record from 1972. All of it’s entertaining, but there are two standout tracks: the corny, Elvis-in-Memphis-ish “The Strength of Love” and an affecting, no-horseshit version of Bob Dylan’s “John Brown.”

8. Jazz in Paris series - Fifty albums, sold individually at bargain-basement list prices. Favorites: most anything by René Thomas, Henri Crolla, Eddy Louiss, Django Reinhardt.

9. Z.Z. Packer - Drinking Coffee Elsewhere - I rarely gravitate towards short stories (give me a long novel to chew on), probably because I don’t remember them afterwards. But most of these stories are so on-the-mark (especially the one about the first-year high school teacher) and differ from one another so significantly as to be good and etched in my brain.

10. Cold weather - I know--the more people complain about it, the more I like it. Sometimes I really miss Chicago.

By Dusted Magazine

Read More

View all articles by Dusted Magazine

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.