When Tim Cohen took the stage at The Lost Church sans any of his usual suspects on February 4th, he informed us that he’d be playing three songs, which could have left us wanting more — in terms of time, anyway — if they’d been of The Fresh & Onlys’ short-garage-pop-song variety. But enough hypothesizing: he didn’t, and they weren’t. Rather, Cohen played each of the tracks off his latest record with the Magic Trick, The Glad Birth of Love. Anyone familiar with the album will know that it’s made up of four songs spanning 45 minutes: “Cherished One,” “Daylight One,” “Clyde” (“this song’s about a baby I found on the side of the road”), and “Fever Pitch” (“when I was growing up, I did a lot of acid, and I played a lot of baseball, and that’s what this song is about”). And they were lovely, each one an epic pastiche of various finger style motifs and odd yet ultimately endearing lyrics.
Sonny Smith replaced him for the main event, which he had previously described to me in an email interview (quite vaguely) as a “musical and theatrical performance.” The program placed on the seats at the venue more accurately billed it as a story. He was also solo save for a backing band set off to the side that consisted of — gasp! – no members of the Sunsets, but rather Connie’s Superette Crew, which is James Finch on guitar and keys, Atom Ellis on bass, and Jessi Campbell on drums.
This unorthodox trio added some ambiance, as well as a bit of sonic relief, to Sonny’s spoken monologue, which was written in the style of, or perhaps as an homage to, the late playwright Spalding Gray. According to Theatre World: Volume 60, Gray was primarily known for his “trenchant, personal narratives delivered on sparse, unadorned sets with a dry, WASP, quiet mania.” Broken into seven chapters (1. Ring!, 2. Broke Artist at Turn of Century, 3. Exterminators, 4. Story of an Earth Girl, 5. The Unbearable Confession, 6. Onetime Doomsday Trip, and 7. Y.C. Kung Fu Academy), I could see the parallels.
Sonny delivered an ostensibly personal story peppered by hallucinations, ruminations on love and life, and other such adventures. Me? I really liked the part about the aliens.
In closing, Sunfoot (Chris Johanson, Brian Mumford, and Ron Burns) performed a raw yet semi-raucous set complete with clarinet. Incidentally, Chris Johanson’s print, which was used for the event, inspired the name of the performance, “Sees All Knows All.”