Somehow after 450 some Tiny Desk Concerts I feel like I’ll know anyone that comes along. But here’s yet another performer who I’d never heard of. Christopher Paul Stelling plays an old beat up guitar (it ha a hole in it from where it has been worn down. According to the NPR site: That guitar, bought in Asheville, looks like a well-worn friend, with its dark bruised wood and his initials hand-carved into its body. Stelling marked the instrument a year after he bought it, when he made New York City his home in 2007.
Stelling plays some amazing fingerpicking and he backs it up with some catchy songs and interesting lyrics. His voice is rough and reminds me a but of The Tallest Man on Earth.
He plays four songs. The first “Castle,” is a really enjoyably folky song. His guitar work is amazing and almost as interesting as his lyrics (there’s some nice little twists i the words he sings). I was also amazed at how good the guitar sounded with the holes and carvings and all.
“Scarecrow” is more mellow, a bit sadder. And when he tunes it up you can hear the resistance in the tuning pegs–that guitar has been through a lot.
“Horse” is a much faster completely intense song. As the NPR site describes it: “Watch him lean in as if he’s about to lunge, his eyes bugged out, sometimes rolled back in his head revealing just the whites, skin blood-red, voice like a preacher on fire.” The song is majorly intense, althouhg he kind of reminds me a bit of Chris Pratt’s character on P&R (but not in a funny way). After the song he he says you see why I didn’t play that first
“Warm Enemy” reminds me of the guitar style of RT. A wild picking song, with some great runs throughout the piece.
It’s always cool to hear of a new artist who is really impressive.
[READ: May 10, 2015] Here
I read about this book when Five Dials devoted an entire issue to it. And I’m so glad they did, because I probably wouldn’t have heard it about it elsewhere. And it is fantastic.
In the Five Dials issue they talked about how McGuire had first created a version of this book many years ago–it was 8 pages and ran in Raw Magazine. Now in 2014, he has redesigned and thoroughly expanded the book, adding color and a ton more information. And it is really astonishing.
The book itself is quite simple. We see a scene in a house. It is a living room. There is a window to the left, a fireplace to the right and various pieces of furniture.
The first page in the upper left corner says 2014. There is a couch and little else. Then there is a bookshelf. And then the scene jumps back to 1957. Same location, same angle, but (nearly) everything is different. The furniture is chanced, there is wallpaper on the walls, there is a playpen in the center of the room. Then the next page jumps back to 1942: the color scheme is maroon.
After a few pages it heads back to 1957 and we see our first person. A woman saying “Now why did I come in here again?” And then, the first break with the style–in the bottom right is a tiny box that says 1999 and there’s a cat in it. And then the next page plays with things even more. The woman from 1957 is still there as is the cat (who is licking her paw now), but the background is 1623 and the “house” is simply the woods.
The next page shows a scene from 1989 and in 1999 the cat leaves the room.
We see shots from 1763 (a lumberjack) and 1764 (a house being built). And then in 1775 a colonial scene with, I believe, Ben Franklin.
Occasionally, there are a series of frames that show time passing in sequence like the children sitting on the couch in 1959, 1962, 1964, 1969, 1979 and 1983. Or the one that shows Halloween parties from several years all on one page
The book also goes into the future with a small box showing 2017 and then 2050 with some interesting technology. And then later forward to 10,175 with a strange creature in a wasteland,
The book is really amazing. So much fun to look at and imagine the lives that were in this house.
For there is no plot. There is virtually no dialogue. It is just snapshot after snapshot of a place and what people and creatures have done to it throughout history. It is such an interesting idea (the original was quite revolutionary at least according to cartoonists) and while similar pieces have been made they don’t compare to the scope of this one.
Incidentally, the house is in Perth Amboy, New Jersey (and I believe is his childhood home). It offers actual historical data as well as imagined information. But he based many of his designs on photos from his family’s albums.
I’m so happy I got to look at the book. And when I read it again, I’m going to try and read it in a vaguely sequential style just to see if there is a “story” to it.