Rotation: One-man band Lauris Vidal on Tom Waits

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This week: Lauris Vidal on Tom Waits’ Bone Machine

One-man band Lauris Vidal is currently in Chattanooga, Tennessee, working on a new album due to be released in spring 2015. While it may be hard to keep track of Vidal, there is a recurring benefit event he created in partnership with Downtown Credo to support the local business and highlight great music and tasty brewers: Local Bands and Brews. He’s returning to town this week to perform new songs from the album at a warehouse at 1300 Brookhaven Drive in Ivanhoe Village alongside Have Gun, Will Travel and Keith Kolakowski, playing tunes while craft brewers Drew Pohle, Chris Reites and Jacob Kobernik serve up suds.

Vidal seems to live for multitasking, and his chaotic schedule is almost as hard to follow as his complex, soulful performances of original songs and masterful covers of legends like Hank Williams and Tom Waits. It’s no surprise, then, that when we asked him to discuss one of his favorite records, he chose Waits’ classic Bone Machine. Vidal says:

“I could geek out that this album was recorded in the utility room of an amazing studio, that Waits made legendary drummer Brain stand on the opposite side of the drum kit to unlearn how to play drums, that Waits called Keith Richards on a whim and ended up collaborating on a gorgeously free-form ode to ‘that feeling.’ Stuff of legend. Why I choose this album, though, is in some crazy way, this album brought out (from the depths of my soul and the hair on my arms) a peace with the reality of pain, struggle, the eminence of death and, with it, the absolute necessity for a brutal sense of humor.

“This album takes you on a dark, abrasive tour of life’s realities, using a language full of surrealities, led by Waits – a growling, howling, crooning old friend who you can never fully trust. He entertains you, raises your spirits and gets you buzzed, then brings you to the darkest of places, opens the barn door, letting in blinding light. Unfortunately, what is illuminated is something dead in the corner.

“The song on this album that will always slay me is ‘A Little Rain.’ In typical Waits fashion, it begins with cinematic, poignant, nearly grotesque imagery. What unfolds is a story of hope growing in the shambles. In particular, a couple of lines tear me up: ‘I sleep with my shovel and my leather gloves’ and, later, ‘If it’s worth the going, it’s worth the ride,’ then ‘A little trouble makes it worth the going … you must risk something that matters.’

“Pain, my friend, is inevitable. The difference between those who live their dreams and those who don’t is the latter actively pursue and try to continually choose their pain; the former let the world deliver its pain as it comes.”

Lauris Vidal performs at Local Bands and Brews 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18, at 1300 Brookhaven Drive, $10 suggested donation


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Ashley Belanger

Associate editor, music nerd, NBA junkie, Florida explorer and obsessive pet owner.
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