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The inimitable Jon Dee Graham returns to the Windham Ballroom with the esteemed Mike June.

Jon Dee Graham has played around, as it were. With eight or nine solo albums behind him, he’s made at least that many records in collaboration with a who’s who list of indie credibility. Names you know or, rather, names you would know if you paid attention to that sort of thing. What’s the point in listing them all because, in listing them, the point is lost. What’s the point? The point is that fame is no measure of value and fame by association is only reflected light. Value also is derived from stick-to-itivenss and authenticity and in this regard, Jon Dee Graham is priceless.

Born in 1959 in Texas near the Mexican border, Graham has spent his life immersed in the Austin music scene for which he was awarded the Artist Of The Decade in 2009. Back in the mid-1980‘s, Graham left his band, The Skunks, and joined the True Believers, pioneers in the genre of cowpunk. Teaming up with Alejandro and Javier Escovedo, Graham brought smarts to the art form around the time so much of rock n roll was getting smarter. One shouldn’t forget that Graham dropped out of law school to do this music thing. Back then we called it college rock because it mainly got played on college stations and for good reason. Don’t get me wrong: this wasn’t the Talking Heads, this was gristly rock n roll but newly literate. And from Texas no less! In any event, despite mountains of promise and brief deals with Rounder Records and EMI-America, by 1987 the band drifted apart and Graham went on as a sideman for the aforementioned passel of luminaries. Legend has it that, after nearly a decade of that, Graham took his smarts back to Austin and got a construction job. That could have been the end of it, but no.

Somehow, in 1997 he released Escape From Monster Island, his solo debut, an astute and mature observation of the world and our place in it. Then, as now, the gravel in his voice and the rawness in his playing mask a tenderness and a quiet intellectualism and let his songwriting masquerade as rootsy, Waitsean Americana.

Starting there, Jon Dee Graham has been a critics’ darling, swimming in the shallow water of clubs and bars, driving a van around the country doing what he does, never quite breaking big, never quite breaking bad.

It ain’t the winnin’ / it ain’t the losin’ / it’s the going beyond our choosing that makes us kings. – Kings: Escape From Monster Island

There’s a lot of press written about Graham and most of it talks about the prevalent ideas of loss in his oeuvre but in that depiction, the point is lost. Whether or not he looks for hope, he seems to often find it so why isn’t that’s what’s noticed? In an interview with the Houston Chronicle in 2010 he’s quoted as saying,

“… with all the frustrations, obstacles, disappointments, injustices… we still get Texas twilight, babies, thunderstorms, friends, dogs, second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth chances, fireflies; if that was all we got, you’d still have to admit it’s a pretty good deal, all things considered.”

And this from a fellow who survived a near fatal car crash, falling asleep while driving home from a gig after his third induction in the Austin Music Hall of Fame. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up.

We might scratch our heads and wonder how it is that he’s going to stop in Bellows Falls to tell us a thing or two. We’ll just have to chalk it up to our good fortune. We’re proud to host Jon Dee Graham for one show on Thursday, September 19. He’s Texas twilight, he’s fireflies, he’s thunderstorms.

Come here you beautiful thing / Come here you beautiful everything / It’s a big sweet life – Big Sweet Life: Summerland

Brought to you by Popolo in association with Flying Under Radar, LLC.


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