first-person: the barnraisers, paleface, jesse stockton in wilmington, nc

In Uncategorized on February 15, 2009 at 2:57 pm
soapbox valentine's poster

soapbox valentine's poster

At the club and doors open at 9 and we pop in at 9:30 only to be told doors haven’t opened yet. Into the lounge. Some guy messing with a saxophone on stage while a crowd mills about the bar. The TV isn’t on. A perfectly arranged set of pool balls is on the table. A guy holds a stick. We decline. We stand. We make small talk about the band posters on the wall. Yes, I like Q and Not U. Yes, Donovan Frankenreiter is dressed ridiculously in his poster. The door guy comes back and finds us and everyone else for the show upstairs, The Barnraisers, Paleface and Jesse Stockton. No Cary Ann Hearst.
On the way up see a door that says “close the door behind you.” We don’t open it. No one’s up there, retreat to another lounge. This TV is on AMC, the 35th anniversary of Godfather II. Just saw this like two weeks ago, Fredo and Michael are having a talk outside at the cafe. Michael questions Fredo’ s loyalty to the family and we talk about how DeNiro and Pacino should stop making movies. We talk about recent overused quotations like “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” and “Never regret anything that made you smile” and “Yes, we can.”

A guy sits down near us by himself in one of those newfangled multi-colored hoodies drinking a vitamin water and he seems eager for conversation but we don’t engage. Another dude near us wears an Army jacket and tie. On the jacket’s lapel is the word “grieve.” This is Jesse Stockton, but we didn’t know it at the time. He goes off, without us noticing, probably wrapped in quotation talk at that point, and how I say “quotes” as a noun when really it’s a verb. My fail.

Jesse is playing with a guy from the punk band, ASG, who is really good. This is a bit different for him as they ramble through some of Jesse’s stuff and go into some Townes. Then some other stuff I didn’t recognize but the older lady next to me did as she started roving around like a line dancer without a line. Jesse goes on at like 10:15 and overstays his welcome. We wait for Paleface and Mo. They’re dressed like a knockoff of The White Stripes, which I’m sure they’ve heard before. It’s probably 11:30, and the only really interesting thing we’ve seen in two hours is that one clip of The Godfather Part II.

Paleface takes the stage with Mo, the short-ish girl drummer. Paleface looks like an overeager Dr. Seuss character or as a Mad Magazine Alfred E. Neuman rehash of Boris Becker. A few girls must really like Paleface as they start to dance to his repetitive folk rock and I heard one time that Paleface used to live with Beck and I wonder if they have a Godfather relationship. Beck is Michael worried about what crazy things Paleface might do, so he disbarred him from the family or something. Paleface is indeed Fredo–knows how to have a good time, but a little sloppy with his words. He makes fun of Mo a couple of times for no apparent reason. But these girls are into him, and they prance around, twirling. It is a fact that one was a short person and danced out front during the Paleface song “Little by Little.” The irony, if it was even that, was as solid as a brick.

Barnraisers don’t make a peep until after midnight. A duo now, but still one of the most solid acts in all of Wilmington and probably North Carolina, as far as bluegrass goes. Tiff Reece strikes the line of June Carter Cash and Loretta Lynn and has the banjo to prove it with solid accompaniment from her husband Adam. They even play Bruce Springsteen and Joy Division and make it truly their own. A hipster guy with a beard and stereotypical glasses and a guy in a Texas is The Reason shirt both enjoy it. Wilmington, despite its faults, at least has few musical divides–they appreciate their own kind. Though getting a crowd out to a semi national band is a tougher ticket.
Apparently, The Barnrasiers just got rid of their rhythm section but they need something like that back before Nashville calls. They tell sing songs of lost love, a Dodge Demon and a rat in their house. Reece tells a joke about lifesavers, everyone laughs. Towards the end, this guy in a bright red and surf-flower dress comes dancing in. Reece says she is sure there is a story there. I’m not so sure.

  1. I had fun last night at the Soapbox :D. Great way to spend a red valentine day! Paleface was raw and charismatic. Mo finally lost her voice cuz I think she’s been fighting a flu. I love that Mo wears a skirt while playing the drums….I don’t think I’ve seen many female drummers do that. Paleface has a very interesting history and backgroung….U can read some of it on their bio section on their website. I hope to see them when they come back…. “We used to go to all the open mikes together. He taught me Daniel Johnston songs on the sidewalk and let me sleep on his couch.  He was a great songwriter, a generous friend, and a big influence on my early stuff”, Beck on Paleface (American Music-Annie Leibovitz). More here ( and wikipedia….

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