By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
When Jo Carol Pierce and the rest of her Lubbock Mob (Terry Allen, Joe Ely, Butch Hancock, etc.) debuted their collaborative "musical" Chippy, about a Depression-era boomtown whore, at Manhattan's Lincoln Center last year, the crowd of highbrow Yankees sat on their hands and pursed their lips; they no more got the Flatlander humor and coarse single entendres than they got free iced-tea refills up north, and the raw and rough play--a mishmash of monologues and music, a play shrouded behind surreal backdrops and an avant-garde format--came and went quicker than a West Texas dust storm.
So along comes this "sound track" to another of Pierce's plays, this one almost identical to Chippy (a couple of songs even hold over) with Pierce again playing a woman (herself, this time) who's out to find herself a good man or three but only "to protect herself from all the rest." She's the independent bad girl prone to talk to Jesus when things get worse, always trying to transform her man from a lump of coal into a diamond-in-the-rough, never quite sure if she's in love with the man or his Cadillac.
Pierce is the kind of performer who trades on her dust-bowl charm and panhandle wit. She spins her ironic observations with a high-pitched twang ("After I had committed suicide, I started seeing things in a whole new light"); speaks through a liberated foul mouth ("Does God have us by the twat or what?"); and tranforms the everyday into revelation ("In high school, I found out you're a bitch if you don't and a whore if you do"). Even though she can't sing worth a goddamn (which makes her a performance artist around here), the highlights are the musical interludes between the monologues--the sparse pieces that set off the yokel poetry, the accordion-and-mandolin moments that give this yenta her twang.
Nuts, Part II
Former Glass Eye frontwoman Kathy McCarty doesn't want to be cast as the "eccentric" Daniel Johnston's mouthpiece, yet here's her second disc bearing the label "all songs by" that very same lunatic-in-waiting. This seven-song disc features four new Johnston-via-McCarty tracks (wacky folk interpreted as wacky, pure pop), two previous excerpts, plus one Glass Eye nugget. And it's a pleasure in short form, the highlight the oddly pretty "Worried Shoes," on which McCarty sings over a haunting echoplex and eerie coronet: "I took my lucky break and broke it in two."