(HUDSON, N.Y.) – Indie chamber-folk trio Dust Bowl Faeries will perform at Spotty Dog Books and Ale on Sunday, August 17, 2014, at 8pm. Indie-folk artist Marian McLaughlin, who was recently featured on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series, will also perform. Admission is $5; the Spotty Dog is located at 440 Warren St.
Dust Bowl Faeries leader Ryder Cooley performs in tandem with Hazel, a disembodied taxidermy ram. They are nearly inseparable, as one is literally strapped to the other. This is as it should be, considering their work as hybrid performers explores the complex, knotty relationship between human and animal, existence and extinction. The Dust Bowl Faeries is Cooley’s latest musical incarnation; a mesmerizing collaboration with keyboardist/vocalist Sara Ayers (herself a giant in the underground ambient scene) and steel guitarist/cellist Karen Cole. Cooley, a co-host of Club Helsinki Hudson’s weekly open-mic night and a resident of Hudson, sings and plays accordion, ukulele and musical saw in the group.
I recently saw Dust Bowl Faeries for the first time, and in my review of their show – which you can read in full here — I wrote, “it’s a singular experience that leaves you moved, bedazzled, and wonderful, in the literal sense – full of wonder, almost like a child, about just what it is you are seeing and hearing.”
If you’re like me, the thought of listening to a set of music on accordion, lap-steel, and, especially, ukulele and musical saw (synthesizer I have no problem with), is not an enticing proposition. Somehow, however, the combination of the blend these three instrumentalists come up with, as well as their unique musical voices, easily makes any predisposition against what you are hearing magically disappear.
Because what you wind up hearing, the way they play and sing, is music of such haunting beauty, even as it is slightly unnerving and unsettling (just the sight of Hazel staring at you, as she does for most of the concert, has been known to make the weak of heart a little nervous), that you forget yourself and enter into this fantastical realm – Ryder’s realm, presumably – where seemingly age-old folk dirges rub up against Central European-like cabaret melodies, peppered and accented with electronic skronks and up-to-the-minute beats served up by Ayers and eerie, very non-guitar-like tones coming out of Cole’s guitar.
Cooley and company create a mood as much with their personas as with their music, so by the end, on some level, you realize you just were privy as much to an art installation – call it performance art if you must – as a concert.