AA Bondy’s sincerity has been
brought into question before.
As he’s prone to singing about
theology and dressing his songs up in
biblical imagery, some feel he might
not really mean it. That he’s, say, borrowing
Jesus and the devil simply to
get his point across—that it’s a means
to an end of sorts. And, if that were
true, it’s been done before.
Still, if those skeptics were to see
Bondy lay out his songs live, choosing
to blow ferociously on his harmonica
instead of actually engaging with his
audience, chances are they’d have to
eat their words. At least, that was the
feel of last Bondy’s June 23 show at
The Urban Lounge. If he weren’t being
sincere, he was really, really good at
faking it. And, with how many were
gathered and hanging on his every
word, the singer may as well have
played a flute and passed himself off
as some sort of pied piper. What he
did, he did well.
Bondy is a traveling man (as in, he
does so all by himself) and he doesn’t
care much for the bells and whistles
that come with fame; he’s got
a bit of a different routine:
He’s going to look down at his
gathered mass and sing what
amounts to a stripped-down favorite
like “Rapture (Sweet Rapture).”
He’s going to take a second to drop
a nearby shot of whiskey down his
throat. He might change guitars real
quick-like and then he’s off to play
another tune. Then another. Wash and
repeat (for 90 minutes straight, no
less). It doesn’t make for an incredibly
diverse show, but it’s one you can’t
help to fall into. Add a harmonica to a
strummed geet and dress the both of
them up with his raspy, world-weary
voice, and it makes for some pretty
damned compelling nighttime music.
It’s why you believe him so readily
when he casually slips a cover of
Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I
Could Cry” into the rest of his repertoire.
He came from Alabama (sans
the banjo on his knee) and touring all
by himself is a weird sort of thing (or
so he says). So it comes as no surprise
to anyone that he chooses to sing
about that lonesome whippoorwill.
It’s practically expected.
In fact, take that guy out and stick
him in a marching band or dusty tribe
someplace, and chances are real good
he’d be right at home in either place.
I mean, it makes sense that the first
song off the White Rabbits’ last album
is so aptly titled “Percussion Gun.”
Standing just a few feet away Thursday
evening when the song was finally
unveiled was not unlike being repeatedly
shot in the chest. Does it sound
right to add that it was like being shot
in a good way? Maybe not, but there it
is. It was expected and it was waited
for. It happened and it was a thrill ride.
All other songs (with the exception of
perhaps “Company I Keep,” which is
about as radio ready as it gets) were
filler surrounding it. Really, really
good filler, certainly, but “Percussion
Gun” was its gooey candy center.
I’m just wondering why the band
didn’t get around to playing Randy
Newman’s “Beehive State,” the one
they took on at their Daytrotter session
a couple years back. Maybe they
did and I missed it? If that’s the case,
I’m blaming “Percussion Gun” for
being just that good.