ken stringfellow

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Stringfellow is kind of a big deal.  He co-founded the pop group The Posies. He has had a long-time association with REM and has had success with other bands and solo efforts.

And he gave us possibly the oddest performance we’ve ever seen.

To start, I was shocked that he was playing at Moe’s BBQ. And, there were only 15 people at the show. Ken played in touching distance (I resisted), all of 3 feet away, off the stage and with no microphone. He carried the solo act well – pairing various genre-crossing combinations of piano, harmonica, and guitar with strikingly clever melodies.

On top of the size of the crowd and the venue, the whole night had a surreal air of “is this really happening?” as Ken launched into periodic coughing fits (inversion!), asked the group if anyone had a room for him to stay in that evening, and sold stuff from the merchandise table like he was in a SNL skit. As he moved down between the tight table and wall space to get a Danzig in the Moonlight CD, staying straight backed and bending only with his knees, I honestly thought he was going to pretend to go down fake stairs.

Of the new material, “Jesus Was An Only Child” and “Shittalkers” are favorites, followed by “110 or 220v”, but the twangy “Doesn’t It Remind You Of Something” has been crazily earworm-ing the past few days.

Stringfellow’s skill made his huge talent seem casual and I appreciated his smartly self-deprecating banter. The uninitiated punk-loving friends we dragged along? They might not forgive us for the world’s quietest gig. We forced them to leave a comfy table and stand a few feet away from Stringfellow to listen to songs they didn’t know. They were flustered and didn’t know what to do with their hands. Sorry about that guys.

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