moments before the wind.

July 10, 2006

your legs were touched by the hands of god

Filed under: authenticity, country, folk, indie, live shows, music, reviews, rock, writing — alimarcus @ 9:46 pm

Eddie From Ohio. Probably one of my biggest influences, both musically and more generally the kind of musical career I aspire to. I learned about them in the mid-90’s when my dad and brother went to see the Nields play at Wolf Trap. More on the Nields later.

EFO (not to be confused with ELO) has four members: Drummer Extraordinaire Eddie Hartness, Goofy Bassist Mike Clem, Sensitive and Self-Effacing Guitarist Robbie Schafer, and Lead Vocalist Julie Murphy-Wells. They all write songs together, though Schaefer and Murphy-Wells are the principle writers and singers. Beautiful four-part harmonies, hilarious theatrics, and genuine heartfelt songs. Some of my favorite lyrics:

Sahara will never be the South of France/ Obvious with the rising sun/ If i had no home I’d build one in the sand/ If I didn’t have a love, I’d find me one

You are all of the evil and the kindness I have seen/ I am the in-between

Stand on a rock and see each other wave and for now that’ll have to do

It’s kinda like father, if only he had a son/ It’s kinda like daughter, you know the clear-eyed motherless one/ it’s kinda like the Pacific, but with a hell of a lot more water/ It’s kinda like Texas, only hotter, much hotter/ It’s kinda like all of these things

Anyways they have like 10 albums so this is just the tip of the iceberg. As it turns out, people in Seattle actually know of this band, because I went to see them at the Triple Door last year and it was a full house, folks. Lots of Virginia love.

Which, it turns out, is definitely it’s own distinct sound. The “Virginia Folk” thing is a bright streak in my musical tastes, from stuff like EFO and the Nields to a few  select years of the Pat McGee Band, and of course the Dave Matthews Band. Living in Charlottesville as a college student put us in the path of many a frat party band aspiring to fame, including the early days of O.A.R., Virginia Coalition, Dispatch and Georgia Avenue, who we once hired to play one of our own (non greek-affiliated) parties. These bands, by the way, had some good stuff going for them, but as far as I know, every single one has gone the way of Pat rather than Dave: the pull of pop generic production and lazy songwriting. Well, i think Dave has actually gone that way too in the last few years, though I can’t quite figure out what his motivations could have been, given that the lure of mainstream sucess was already behind him.

This is definitely not Virginia as in Carter Family, Galax and Appalachia and all that, though the ghosts are there, mainly in the acoustic guitar-ness of it all, the swingy country rhythms and the preponderance of tight harmonies.

I’ve seen Eddie From Ohio play about five different shows, plus an impromptu Robbie Schaefer solo gig, and I gotta say, these are among the highlights of all of my concert experiences. This is a band of, frankly, middle aged folkies who met in college and have been producing consistently great music ever since. Run themselves on their own record label, have families, children, what I think must be relatively normal lives, are working musicians and have the kind of fan base that sells out mid-sized venues 3000 miles away. Really, who could ask for more than that? As far as role models go, this band is one of the best, or at least has been for me.

Their website is www.efohio.com. Visit it.

It’s funny, too, that when I first got into EFO in my early teens, I was equally obsessed with Nirvana. How one can split time between Julie Murphy and Kurt Cobain, I cannot really explain, but I guess I’m still actively trying to figure that one out. Between Seattle and Virginia there are enough conflicts to spend a lifetime unwrapping. And who knew that Nirvana was covering Leadbelly in that song? How is it that I got this far before discovering that?

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