515-B North McDonough St.
Decatur, GA, 30030
Doors 6:00 PM / Show 7:00 PM
We live in a perpetually burning building, and what we must save from it, all the time, is love.”-Tennessee WilliamsTransforming pain and injustice into love and compassion is a rendering that has been universal to poets and prophets for centuries. In present times, choosing to amplify community and positivity through art can seem like a radical act. With the arrival of People Are My Drug, Phil Cook is taking the spark from lights left on by musical heroes and offering a torch for listeners as they navigate their own dark corners. Where 2015’s Southland Mission illuminated for listeners what Phil Cook hears in his head,this latest record lays bare the way that music makes him feel. Side A alone, culminating with the shiver-inducing “Another Mother’s Son,”has the capacity to light a fire in even the coldest of hearts. Having only recently stepped to the center of the stage as a solo artist, Cook now takes a moment,citing the power of community as his thesis statement. Each track asserts that he alone is no greater than the sum of the people who have brought him to this moment. Instead of standing on the shoulders of his heroes, Cook is humbly kneeling at their feet.Since Southland Mission, Cook has performed with childhood heroes including Mavis Staples, Bruce Hornsby, John Prine, Amy Ray and The Blind Boys of Alabama.Cook notes, “I see life on a timeline that includes multi-generations. As someone who has sought mentors my whole life, I am honoring the people who shaped who I am, not only musically, but spiritually, emotionally and personally.” He brings that forward in every note on People Are My Drug. Cook has firmly planted his roots in his adopted hometown of Durham, NC for the last decade, while simultaneously maintaining a musical presence in the upper-Midwest where he was raised.Cook and his band recorded and mixed in both Wisconsin and North Carolina, finishing the record in ten days.The result is a spiritual tour de force, delivered from the gut with open arms.Enlisting Brad Cook as producer was a given, as the two Cooks have spent their entire lives working alongside one another.They've long developed an honest working relationship based on the love of family and community,as well as staying true to oneself artistically.His band, The Guitarheels, comprised of drummer JT Bates, bassist Michael Libramento and pianist James Wallace, forged a common language touring the world with Cook. Fueled by the power of that chemistry,Cook crafted each new song with reverence for each players’ artistic brilliance. He imagined vocalist Tamisha Waden (Foreign Exchange) soaring above “Steampowered Blues”and turned to collaborator Amelia Meath(Sylvan Esso)to co-write “Miles Away”, a plainly honest song about the complexity of emotional proximity. He heard BrevanHampden's distinct sanctified tambourine in his head the whole time he was writing for the sessions.The composition of the recordplays as a love letter to Phil’s greatest inspiration of all:People. People Are My Drugis a radical album, in every sense of the word. In2018 choosing community and positivity and music is radical. Cook’s smile is still as infectious and ernest as it’s ever been. However, hepresently appears charged with a newly-minted seriousness that is revealed to listeners in solidarity, that he too is fighting like hell to keep love alive.
From the front porches, alleys, and rivers of Richmond, Virginia, comes Andy Jenkins carrying a crisp, newly cut album, Sweet Bunch. Hatched in the tradition of Southern culture–unhurried in his art, unworried by external demands, yet weirdly ahead of the curve by the time he arrives–Andy is a distinctive and joyously idiosyncratic songwriting talent developed for years in obscurity. Sweet Bunch springs into the world fully-formed, the work of a confident, timeless as well as contemporary singer-songwriter, offering beautiful and basic melodies with lyrics exploring the fluidity between the banal and the sublime. His work feels natural, complete within itself, untrained musically but adherent to its own forms and intricate in its own ways. Spring peepers line the path; the author feeds her peacocks strutting among vines and ruins; a photographer waits for the right light and color in frame. Each song presents a rich, new tableau of sound, glowing worlds to discover, rooted in an unnamed sense of place.
Andy could have found no better seedbed for this sensibility to flower than Spacebomb, a label known for offering high musicianship outside of the predictabilities of New York, Nashville, and Los Angeles. Produced by Matthew E. White, Sweet Bunch was recorded in three magical days of flow-state, the drums, bass, keys, and guitars all live and nothing to regret. The source of this musical surety lies above all with Jenkins’ songwriting–natural and effortless as the glide of a swan or sailboat–matched in spirit and strength by the sweet bunch in the studio. The Spacebomb crew ran hard into midnight with a few ringers along for the ride, and a very full chorus of voices shining bright behind Andy’s relaxed, self-assured singing, gently insistent as it dips and soars at every measure. Contentment in life and patience with craft is announced, almost as credo, on the opening track “Hazel Woods”:
Man, I would love to finish the book but I still have pages and pages of lines. Time sends out a withering look, but I pay it no mind. God, it’s a drag to figure it out, but what else can I do? Nothing whatever, but to read for my pleasure, as the light passes through…
Jenkins sends his warm words buoyed on cool streams of melody, to tell the greater world that Virginia has become, once again, a musical frontier. He sits at a crossroads of modernism, sensitivity and decision, with the expansiveness and musical drawl of Big Star, the bounce of Warren Zevon, and the curly, perfectly-carved melodies of Kevin Ayers. His lyrics have a tendency to stick in the mind, not straightforward storytelling, but always delivering a kind of payoff or reward. Their surrealism, closer to the origin of that term, sees the world in dualities, layered images and dreams. On the topic of love, he is soul-bearing yet light, focused outward, singing conversationally as if from driver to passenger remarking on the passing views. In a way, all of his songs are outdoor songs. Each paints a wide and wild landscape, the mood of a sun setting on a damn good day spent among friends and favored creatures. Sitting high on the hog, like a bump on a log, getting lost in the goodness of the earth.