Insofar as music is community building and local music communities can catapult artists into the limelight, John Vanderslice epitomizes how a successful musician can reinforce and support the communities from whence he came. I am a stern believer that all things are a sum of the small things around them, most specifically with people. Allow me to be frank: JV is the most righteous dude out there -- he is just super. Here is why: Tiny Telephone. In 1997 he founded one of the Bay Area's most infamous studios, serving up recordings for bands such as The Mountain Goats, Spoon, and Rogue Wave. More importantly, perhaps, it has served as home for a great number of the Bay Area's musical family tree. The space Mr. Vanderslice has sliced out has not only evolved into a very important independent industry standard, but his particular presence in the community has made him one of the most beloved indie musicians of the area. Like I said, super.
So on July 24th One Night Music recorded John Vanderslice at Pirate Cat Radio, a perfect match for community oriented beings. It had been a goal of mine to begin streaming sessions live and recording at Pirate Cat provided the perfect opportunity to do so. An exercise in simultaneous space -- listen to the band Javelin, they used to do low-powered FM broadcasts of their shows and organize listening parties in other locations. A superb idea! Pirate Cat was wonderfully accommodating, and they usually are if you have you're stuff together. Kiern of Torrential Dissonance gave up his time slot to let us broadcast.
The session was recorded on a tape deck named "Yoshi" and while JV's shirt read "dance music," the entire session felt more like an afternoon hangout. The session began after I mispronounced Jamie's last name -- Riotto. Jamie is JV's bassist, and the endearing dialogue between the two of them also engaged the audience.
"We are broadcasting live on Pirate Cat Radio," Mr. Vanderslice said, "does that make you nervous, Jamie?" And the entire session was a conversation with the audience, as John is so well known for. Culminating at the end with an encore-like performance of "White Plains."
"I don't remember White Plains," Jaime said. "Oh yeah, its easy," John said, "G, C, G, C, chorus, E, G, A, D." as he strummed the notes. "Ok..." Jaime said, and the song was like cliff-notes sing along. Watch the session, you'll see, it was funny.
A few weeks later I visited John at Tiny Telephone for an interview. While he was giving the studio tour we were talking about the Mountain Goats. John toured with them in the past (where he acquired the "Dance Music" T-shirt). He said that John Darnielle was the same man on the stage as he was off the stage, a very difficult and brave feat. In truth, I think that John Vanderslice too, is the same person on and off the stage. Perhaps that is why audiences and fans love him so. As a musician, if you do not use the stage as a wall to hide a part of yourself, then you offer all of yourself to those before you- and how many people, performers or not, truly do that? Well, JV is just super.
Recorded in Pirate Cat Radio, San Francisco, CA. on July 24, 2010.