Marc Teamaker Dips Bags At Tinker

Dear Diary,

Thomas Edison was right when he said we don't know a millionth of one percent about anything. I was just listening to the radio and trying to forget all that nutty stuff about fractals I wrote to you yesterday and every talk show up and down the AM dial had some right wing rant about the President's sex life, even the sports channel. After Anus-in-the-Morning and his trained hyenas wrapped up their tiresome adolescent smut, these guys Sweaty and Smoozer came on. Now, diary, don't get me wrong, I think it's a great thing for a radio station to employ the intellectually challenged but putting them in front of a broadcast microphone may not be the best position for this Sweaty guy. Smoozer at least had a light on in the kitchen but Sweaty is so obnoxious he makes Andrew Dice Clay sound refined and it's impossible to listen to them, so I spun the dial, looking for some music.

Fussface was right when he said there's still a lot of music you can't download from and maybe this guy, Marc Teamaker, who's playing the Tinker Street Cafe on the ninth is somebody they don't have on their website yet. I was hoping to catch a track from his Lust For Wanda cd on the radio but, you know, 94% of the music being recorded today doesn't make the airwaves, they're so busy being filled up with that chromey-safe "classic" crap the megacorporations are still pushing, there's not much room for chancy competition. It's like only dead presidents get on the money, right? So, I tried public radio and got this deejay whose inane, clueless choices of classical music were outdone only by her taste for insipid, schlocky jazz. I finally figured out that her programming was solely determined by how long a given cut in the stack of approved crud they send her happens to be and switched off the set in disgust. It was either that or wait around for my favorite show, you remember, that boxtop program where they have that neat astronomer guy who's never seen a ufo or gardening and ho me repair tips or other topics too controversial for commercial radio.

So, dear diary, I put on my Marc Teamaker cd. Now, here's a guy who still remembers being so turned on as a tot by the Beatles trying to out scream the crowd on the Ed Sullivan Show that his parents had to sedate him with a plastic guitar. It was all over in 1972, when he was about 12 and his friend's uncle took them to a concert in the Bronx featuring Humble Pie, Edgar Winter and Ramatam (which had April Lawton on guitar and the Hendrix Experience drummer, Mitch Mitchell). That was the event that put him over the top and he started right into the garage band age, playing in a lot of actual garages.

Of course, back then he had only started dipping his bags and people were still calling him names like "Nastasi" but later he poked into Berklee for a year and started brewing up some of his own flavors in bands like Bethesda Angel, Powder Monkeys and Northeast Clorkwork. Now, this last group might have been inspired by Anthony Burgess because the guy is into English novelists, even Dickens. He's read Orwell's neglected masterwork Down and Out In Paris and London, stuff like that, but he writes mostly stream-of-consciousness songs. He says he writes "inside-out," you know- things come to mind and later take shape and then he finds the meaning. Follow? A little like that Lust For Wanda title...wait a beat...oh, I get it...but a tune about Minnesota on the album is really about Oklahoma and his brother's separation rather than the Wayward Wind. Uh, you had to be there...

Anyway, Teamaker wanted so bad to be a musician that he once threw a basketball game in the Pop Warner League. He was a pretty good player and may have gone on to be a guest on Sweaty and the Smoozer except for a real turning point he had in short pants. You see, this same friend's uncle had tickets for a Joe Walsh concert but his team was up for a championship bid the week before and, if they won the game, they'd have to play for the title the night after the concert and he couldn't go. It all came down to a shot in the closing minute and a conscious choice. Sorry, Smoozer, Teamaker was more interested in music.

One thing you've got to say about the music he's making. It's sweet and melodic, sure, and it has a certain intimacy but it's just as much about what it doesn't have.

You know those music critics on NPR who always have such adoring things to say about the vilest slimebucket pop imaginable? Well, one of them caught me up short recently when he panned the new Lucinda Williams album, Car Wheels On a Gravel Road. For once, one of these guys ditched the pandering put-it-in-my-ear posture and hitchhiked away from the sky. It was smothered by too much precious production, he said. Now, I haven't heard it and all I know is that a friend says it's nowhere as good as her Sweet Old World album back in '92 but Spin magazine calls it the "year's best album." So, what do you believe? We know that a local supergroup has too often been burying their very distinct sound under the weight of a glossy production standard which makes them sound like every other humping group out there. They've lost their spaces; their breathing room. Even the Jerry Lee Lewis hit "Breathless" had plenty of that dynamic.

So does Teamaker. Now, he may be a pretty dull guy. I mean, we were all a bit wild back then, right? But, nowadays, it's all running and reading and writing that fills him up. A tour is straight into the hotel rooms and rest up for the next show but, for sure, one thing he's studied to the bone is that old style sound of recording, the Rudy Van Gelder kick. It's tempting to double everything up and make it thick but that sucks out the kick. You hear all the individual instruments on Lust For Wanda. You feel the impact of the tone and the punch of the pause and all of that works gorgeously and it's not nostalgia. The whole album breathes organically. Pampered old school gear, tube microphones and calculated mike placement, mono drum tracking; a whole different science than most of today's production. You can hear what you used to love about those bygone sounds.

Anyway, diary, maybe I'll take you to the club on Wednesday night, if you fit in my pocket. Teamaker will have Ray Herman backing him with a drum kit and it should be fun. At any rate, I'll write again tomorrow.

-Irv Yarg