JAMES JACKSON TOTH at the Pike Room

SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 7, 2008
doors at 8PM
tickets: $10 (buy tickets)

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For his solo debut, Tennessee-based JAMES JACKSON TOTH has conjured a mysterious, alluring world peopled by characters that could have been pulled from the pages of a Faulkner novel or from one of photographer William Eggleston’s stark portraits of Memphis barflies. Toth’s scenarios are intriguingly tawdry, his sounds tantalizing, with layered, almost-dreamlike harmonies; touches of blues, country and soul; the occasional flash of punk swagger; and even some sweet Fleetwood Mac-inspired pop. Toth assumes the role of storyteller, maybe even confessor, spinning inter-linked tales of hope and misfortune, romantic trials and spiritual yearning. Toth has impressive, vinyl-era ambition; he’s fashioned a disc that works as a cohesive whole, sequenced with such old-school care it could practically be called a concept album. Though Toth enjoys acknowledging his influences, managing to mention artists as disparate as Tanya Tucker, Robyn Hitchcock and the Violent Femmes in the course of a conversation, his work sustains a seductive mood all its own. Waiting In Vain is the first album that Toth, long a cult figure, has chosen to release as a solo artist, and it marks a new beginning for him. For several years, he and Jexie experimented with a folk-psychedelic rock hybrid, putting out numerous discs in many different formats under many different names and pseudonyms, including variations of the name Wooden Wand. Toth didn’t always follow a traditional release schedule; he issued extremely limited CD-Rs whenever inspiration struck, over 100 in all. For his last Wooden Wand release, James and the Quiet (2007), Toth stated that he was deliberately trying to make an “un-weird” album, and he set aside the psychedelic ramblings for more concise song-forms, taking a giant step toward the sound he’s realized on Waiting In Vain. With THE DUCHESS AND THE DUKE.

 

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