Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Hear This 

Wednesday, Apr 15 1998
Comments
Freakwater
Freakwater were one of the bands that made it OK for hipsters to admit they liked country music. Even more than country-influenced bands like Uncle Tupelo, Freakwater, with their deep appreciation of Appalachian music, showed the indie rockers of the time that folk, country, and bluegrass songs were rich with twisted, grizzled stories of drinking, death, and betrayal. All they had to do was listen.

Springtime, the Louisville group's fifth record, captures everything that Freakwater's core members do best. Catherine Ann Irwin and Janet Beveridge Bean can harmonize like old-timey 78s, and David Wayne Gay's bass seems to ground them both. Ex-Wilco member Max Konrad Johnston can play anything with strings, but his banjo has one of the clearest voices of the entire album. It's the kinetic force of "Picture in My Mind," a song that brilliantly uses latent images and then sets them into motion. "A shotgun never shot no one/ When it's hanging on the wall," the singer warbles. The payoff: "I got itchy fingers/ And you got east to crawl."

Freakwater's songs sound familiar to anyone who's ever heard the Carter Family or good old mountain music, but on repeated listenings there is a subversion of country's cliches ("Cry yourself a river/ But it don't take much to drown") and meticulous craft put toward telling contemporary stories. ("Louisville Lip" is about the time that Muhammad Ali tossed his Olympic medal into a river when a diner wouldn't serve him.) The band breaks hearts and kicks dust live.

-- Jeff Stark

Freakwater play Friday, April 17, at 8:30 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk). Richard Buckner and Clodhopper open. Tickets are $10; call 885-0750.

About The Author

Jeff Stark

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Slideshows

  • 24th Annual Autumn Moon Festival
    Crowds gathered September 6-7 for the 24th Annual Autumn Moon Festival in Chinatown. Visitors enjoyed arts, crafts, cultural exhibits, food and a dog fashion show. Photographs by Dhoryan Rizo.
  • Felton: Touring the Redwoods
    Blue skies meet redwood canopies in the mountain town of Felton, located just north of Santa Cruz on Highway 9. Once a bustling logging community, the town is now a mix of mellow locals and serene wilderness. Visitors can enjoy the redwoods in nearby Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and splash in swimming holes in the San Lorenzo River. For a bite to eat stop by Rocky’s Cafe for fruit-laden pancakes, barbeque at the Cowboy Bar & Grill and poolside burgers at the Trout Farm Inn. Other stops worth checking out include Roaring Camp Railroads, the Mount Hermon zip line tour, and the educational Bigfoot Discovery Museum. For beer or cocktails a log cabin bar has you covered.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed