Kid Congo Powers comes through the Double Wide tonight, an unmissable chance to see a man with one of the most interesting résumés in rock in a tiny, intimate venue. A former member of The Gun Club, The Cramps, and The Bad Seeds doesn't just turn up in a small room next to a bar every day of the week, and his last fews albums with backing band The Pink Monkey Birds are a genre-less romp through guitar music loud and quiet, affecting and silly.
The Bad Seeds, and their erstwhile leader Nick Cave, are a band that has had endless line-up turnover in the last thirty years. Kid Congo Powers is by no means the most important Bad Seed to fall by the wayside, despite being on guitar in the studio for such classics as "Deanna," "City of Refuge," and "The Weeping Song." Here are the career trajectories of two other fascinating Bad Seeds alumni, and some reasons for you to head out to the Double Wide tonight.
The grandaddy of all Bad Seeds, Blixa Bargeld was discovered by Cave during his time living in Berlin after the dissolution of The Birthday Party. At the time, Bargeld was leading the band Einstürzende Neubauten. Ending up as a founding member of the Bad Seeds, Bargeld brought a guitar sound that was both mournful and sweeping to the band for twenty years until his departure in 2003, citing a desire to return to focus on Einstürzende Neubauten. Probably mostly remembered for his lead vocals on "The Weeping Song," Bargeld was the guitar in front of Kid Congo Powers for the Kid's time in the Bad Seeds.
The Bad Seeds' sound changed irreparably after the departure of Bargeld, and whether or not he did have disagreements with the notoriously disagreeable Cave, the series of all-star guest guitarists including Ed Kuepper and James Johnston who attempted to fill his shoes never really managed to do so. Bargeld is currently touring Italian art-house venues, a typical move for a former Bad Seed. Cave tended to hire the shy and retiring artistic types, and then wonder why they rejected arena-sized venues and platinum albums. You can, of course, still hear his incomparable voice on Einstürzende Neubauten tracks today. Cave never tried replacing his vocals; he just tried singing deeper. It didn't really cover up the departure.Mick Harvey
After Bargeld departed, second guitarist and early years bassist Mick Harvey was the only remaining original member of the Bad Seeds. That was until his controversial departure in 2009, while Cave was busy with Grinderman and before the recording cycle of the latest Bad Seeds album Push The Sky Away. Indeed, Harvey had been performing with Cave since The Birthday Party in the '70s, but judging by interviews around the time of his departure had grown frustrated with Cave, citing disagreements over song arrangements and Cave's general control of the band.
Harvey has gone on to both put out accomplished solo albums (it's especially worth checking out Sketches From The Book of the Dead if you can get hold of it) and continue his fine production work, most notably on PJ Harvey's monumental "Let England Shake." He's even been involved with the remaining members of seminal Australians The Triffids in a series of recent performances.
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A man who has managed to slink virtually unnoticed through some of the most influential bands of the last three decades, the Kid is a fascinating presence on guitar, and has conversely spent his solo career constantly demanding your attention and never failing to grasp it. When a man whose first guitar on record appeared on "Psychedelic Jungle" rolls through town in a small room, you go to that room. He's not what you expect, though. He's fun. Fully deserving of the "Kid" in his title, and eschewing any of the rock and roll pretentiousness such a serious and respectable past might bestow on other musicians, Kid Congo Powers is in it for entertainment value.
So, come join me tonight, won't you? If you're still in any doubt, have a look above at Kid Congo Powers and the Pink Monkey Birds (a mouthful of a name, admittedly) playing SXSW, compete with Kid's often incomprehensible stage banter and jolly demeanor.