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â€œThe Johnny Cash of Painting,â€ the writer Jim Reed tagged Andy Friedman. Onstage, the Brooklyn-based maverick visual artist and songwriter accompanies his original songs with his band, The Other Failures, and projections of his paintings, drawings, and photographs.
Friedman, 31, has been relentlessly touring the nation since 2002, when the artist traded a coveted day job in the Editorial Department at The New Yorker magazine for a life on the road. Critics nationwide quickly dubbed his one-man â€œslideshow poetryâ€ performance as â€œthe coolest, most interesting show to come around in a long time.â€ (Good Times) Alone on stage, Friedman accompanied his projections only with a series of spoken lyrics and monologue. By Autumn 2004, the artist learned guitar and began singing his lyrics, forming a band and letting his pictures and songs interact in a countrified, music-art-poetry hybrid he calls â€œArt Country.â€
"Live at the Bowery Poetry Club" is Friedmanâ€™s third release but first CD, now available on City Salvage Records, the label and publishing house founded by the artist in 2001. Recorded on the final night of a seven-week run at the eclectic club and poetry venue owned by visionary performance-poet Bob Holman in July 2005, the disc finds this ever-evolving, challenging, and pioneering artist reinterpreting his visual works, poems and â€œslideshow poetryâ€ monologues from his first two books (2001â€™s â€œDrawings & Other Failuresâ€ and 2003â€™s â€œFuture Bluesâ€) and four years on the road as song.
An artist who places the value of meaning over method, the songs on "Live" present an honest writer using his art to grapple with obstacles of creativity, love and wanderlust along the way. In â€œThings You Can Do For Free,â€ Friedman sings â€œThere are plenty of things you can do at no cost/Miss a bus or take a walk till your lost.â€ In â€œMiddletown," the only song on "Live" based on pencil drawings and photos yet to be published, Friedman wrestles with his muse, caught between the urge to experience life as it happens or make art about it. â€œIf a poet spends each rainstorm with a pen and a smoke,â€ he sings, â€œhe wonâ€™t know rainstorm from a hard-boiled egg.â€
"Live at the Bowery Poery Club" is an adventurous album by a pioneering thinker and performer who shatters the perceived boundaries that exist between art, music, poetry, performance and life.
--written by ANDY WEST with RONALD T. COSOLETO
Check out the artist's website:
1. Introduction by Bob Holman
2. The Dust Blows Forward 'N The Dust Blows Back
3. Things You Can Do For Free
4. So Long Sunshine (Done What I Can Do)
6. Intro to Did You Love Van Ronk
7. Did You Love Van Ronk
9. Little Girl
10. Talkin' Take Me Home
11. A Picture From Life's Other Side