by Robyn Lydick Staff writer
High lonesome sounds of old time music, gypsy jazz, introspective song writing and some of the tightest string instrumentation today are rolling into the area March 5 when ThaMuseMeant plays at Swallow Hill. With a new collection of songs recorded but not mixed, the band is still sowing "Silver Seeds," its 2004 release on Frogville Records.
Those sounds are rolling in on a biodiesel tour bus, too. But wait, didn't the band play it's final show in 2001 in Aspen?
Well, yes, and no. Three members recorded what they thought was a swan song, Grow Your Own, in a Colorado cabin.
ThaMuseMeant is a regrouping of original members Nathan Moore, guitar; David Tiller, mandolin; and Aimee Curl, bass; who met while Tiller and Curl were street musicians in Austin, Texas. This time, instead of a drummer, Enion Pelta, a classically-trained violinist who started at age 3, rounds out the line up.
"Enion brings a lot to us," Moore said. "She provides movement and foundation to what I hear in my head. She fills out the sound and takes us to such soaring heights."
ThaMuseMeant is a marketer's nightmare: not bluegrass, as the Appalachian raised-Curl will expound upon at length; not singer-songwriter and too richly textural for Americana, the band itself shrugs off the jam band label, although many fans came from that scene. Perhaps the closest montage of labels would be "post-modern string band folk."
Curl has begun songwriting duties, supplying four in use. "Every thing Aimee writes is great. She takes her time with them and crafts them," Moore said. "I write so many that a few good ones slip through."
Curl also sings in a voice evocative of Nanci Griffith and Iris DeMent with the power of Tracy Chapman, Bernice Johnson and Melissa Etheridge. That voice is completely her own eerie, hair-raising sound, however.
Moore bridges the rivers between Woody Guthrie, Townes Van Zandt, John Prine, Tom Waits, Phil Ochs, Bruce Springsteen and the army of singer-songwriters lost to memory and unknown on the street corners of the American night.
His days of busking on the streets of Austin and Santa Fe honed his song writing skills to biting commentary on people, relationships and government.
Tiller is the glue in the band.
"He has always been inspiring in his dedication to his playing and pushing us forward," Moore said.
Moore met Tiller and Curl playing as Buzzard's Breath on 6th Street in Austin. The duo was playing in an alcove on the streets for hat. Moore, disenchanted with the Austin scene, traded phone numbers with Tiller.
Soon after, Tiller called, offering Moore a position, if he'd move to New Mexico.
He did and the band won hearts and souls across the country, playing festivals large and small, from the 1998 national HORDE tour to Amnesty International fund-raisers in Oklahoma college towns.
Moore still calls New Mexico home, handling studio engineer and Web page duties at Frogville Records, a studio outside of Santa Fe that he put together with John Treadwell in 2002. Tiller, Pelta and Curl live in Portland, Ore.
ThaMuseMeant has a base of loyal fans across the country who travel to see them. Moore is hoping to add to their numbers. "I'm not going to convince anyone to like music," he said. "But if you do like music, get off the couch because we offer a whole world of music, real music, played real good."
ThaMuseMeant will play at 8 p.m., March 5 at Swallow Hill, 71 Yale Avenue. Tickets are $12, $15 at the door.
For more information, visit www.swallowhill.com or www.frogvilleplanet.com