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Featured Article: Jim Donnelly

Jim Donnelly
by Philip H. Farber

Artist: Jim Donnelly
Album: Mischievous Jim
Label: Our Records
Rating: ***** (out of 5)

If you've read some of Jim Donnelly's writing, most likely you were displeased. If you've heard him read out loud, however, that's a different story. Many Kingston residents have seen little notes from Donnelly tucked under their car's windshield wipers; Donnelly, you see, is Kingston's one and only parking meter man, and a note from him usually means your dime has run out. For those elite few who follow the area's literary scene, however, Jim Donnelly is known as a poet with a flair for performance, so if you've heard him read, you'll likely remember it long after all your parking fines are paid.

Now Donnelly has teamed up with musician Joe Stote, formerly of the band Peacebomb, to record an album of wonderfully demented poetry and music, Mischievous Jim. Ordinarily, poetry tapes have all the appeal of... well... a parking ticket, but Donnelly and Stote have created a rare work of art here that is worthy of some stereo time. Donnelly's poems are short, concise, and unique, ruthlessly isolated shards of experience. Don't look for vast, mythological epics here; some of these poems are just a line or two, but they capture the essence of Donnelly's experience with family, cars, guns, corn, meatloaf, can collectors, body parts, fetishes, and deli counter men, among much else.

While Donnelly is declaiming his brief verses, Joe Stote is orchestrating some fittingly unique musical backdrops. Composed from found sounds, samples, and even actual musical instruments, the music is as idiosyncratic as the poetry. For instance, as Donnelly rants about the Hudson River, Stote is playing a demonically mangled version of the Blue Danube Waltz. While Donnelly drags us through the dark underworld of deli counters, Stote is offering up some equally subterranean, electronic gurgling noises, a sort of musical indigestion. Everything about this recording is demented, and a hell of a lot of fun to listen to.

Mischievous Jim is available at record stores throughout the Hudson Valley, or by sending $8.00 to Our Records, 351 John Joy Road, Woodstock, NY 12498. Remember to feed the meter.

Philip H. Farber is a freelance writer who lives in the Hudson Valley. He writes for a variety of area publications, including the Kingston Daily Freeman and the Woodstock Times, as well as national magazines, books, web sites and anyplace else that will offer him money or gratification.
He can be reached at

Posted on February 1, 1998

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