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A special column giving a high-five to worthwhile articles and opinions all through the year...
She's a master of the macabre...
Sunday, 22.01.2012, 20:20
oh what a night...
Wendy McNeill (CAN)
Folk, waltz and gipsy polka. The whole package will remind you of circus, cabaret and the graveyard.
Canadienne Wendy McNeil is partially swedish-rooted, from Edmonton, Alberta and she's a blessed musical storyteller, which didn't happen by accident. Thanks to her parents and their country and folk album collection, and her sister's liking for Pink Floyd, Supertramp, Black Sabbath. But early on, the one piece that literally put her to sleep many nights and left a lasting impression, was a duet by Dolly Parton & Porter Wagner from her mother's tape cassette collection.
Then at the tender age of eight and for years to come, Wendy and her horse roamed the vast forests and meadows, imprinting a live soundtrack on her consciousness of bird cries, bees humming, coyotes howling and the wind sweeping through birches, poplars and pine.
In high school, she evolved into a gothic girl with interests in photography, art performances, poetry and contemporary dance. Listened to Sisters of Mercy, Velvet Underground, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure, Blondie. Worked as a waitress, then was influenced by the minimal music of Steve Reich, the jazz sound-poetry of Meredith Monk, plus Laurie Anderson and Tom Waits.
Composed her own lean piece for piano- and multi media. Received free studio time as a prize from a songwriting contest and recorded «To Whom It May Concern.» Now, the Wendy wheel was brought in motion; critics and fans loved her unusual, percussion-like guitar style. Later, she would add the accordion to her choice of instruments.
Her already fifth album, «For The Wolf A Good Meal», showcases her wonderful mix of styles in all its facets. Imaginative fables and fairy tales, but rooted in real life about underdogs, tramps and brave knights of the heart. Dark, eccentric and telling. Full of soul and twirls and stomping high heels. After some touring, soundtracks, dance- and theater productions, she is now known and appreciated as a great live performer who never sends her fans home let down and anything less than up. She loves outsiders, crazy cats and fearless hearts; all among the themes of which she sings in tragicbeautiful and inimitable manner.
These tales she sound-wraps in folk, waltz and gipsy polka and the whole package will remind you of circus, cabaret and the graveyard. She's a master of the macabre; she has a devilish angels voice which she'll point like a pistol straight at your head. All the while presented with a fragile, heartbreaking sound that will make you offer her your melting heart, for her to take with her.
Her live shows are frugal but will sweep you off your feet. Like the deceptive waters of our deepblue Mississihl, come spring and high water.

The Bony King of Nowhere
That's his nom de plume, we know you figured that; his actual name is Bram Vanparys. With his groupe grande, our Belgian guest is known to lean on the musique of the 70's, which is where all this francophile stuff ends.

In favor of the sounds of Nick Drake, The Band, Tim Buckley and Graham Nash. An eclectic retrotrip if there ever was, it strongly shows Bram's commitment to melody, beauty and authenticity. Let him take you back in time for this one gig in the light of the silvery moon and you might never want to come back to this time.
Surprisingly, the kid was born in 1987, his album «Eleonore» came out this year and yet the recording equipment he used is pure vintage and he applies it in such a way as to create a heartwarming and soulfully authentic chorus, with just the help of a little dubbing. The result is a work of charm, intimacy, and grace. Bram's a singer who's slightly out of this world, his voice is unique, he's not in a hurry ever; he sings for you, himself and then you alone.
At seventeen, he says he used to chant along with Radiohead and Bonnie Prince Billie; the former's influence, through the song «There,There», is showing in Bram's naming of his band, The Bony King of Nowhere.
But who's Eleonore?, the tune on the album named the same, we respectfully want to know? She, who inspired one of the most emotional and mysterious songs he's going to perform for us?
You guessed it, it will remain a secret like the exact location of Count Dracula's grave, to mention another Bram (Stoker, for you who...). Wait a minute! Now we're on to you Mr. Vanparys, could it be...vamp...? You sly dog you!
Taking off on a tangent here that just might better stay unexplained and be left in the dark.
Ahhh Belgium, land of Adolphe Sax and Rene Magritte and for the more culinary inclined, les pommes frites and strong, stout monk's beer. Pardon us, but with these cliches we just wanted to wet your musical appetites to the work of an artist who seemingly delves into the past to come up with the unique and the original, revealing himself to be entirely himself.
But Bram, Eleonore, could she be Ms. Rigby?
And teasing us further and into a frenzy, you've penned another wistful tune, «Girl from the Play». For all we know, she could be anybody. And perhaps this lovely maiden should remain as mysterious as the waters of the whispering, moonlit Mississihl as well.
el Lokal