tid-bits

A review of CST

March 20, 1999

A review of CST
Chris Chandler has a bone to pick. Heck, Chandler has enough bones to pick that if he stacked `em up and glued `em together, he could reconstruct a Tyrannosaurus Rex or two and still have a closet full of skeletons.

He's mad at folks who try to cash in on the apocalypse, like the beer company that uses the shrinking ozone layer as a marketing ploy: "It's hot out there; the world's coming to an end. But don't you want to die with a Foster's in your hand?" He's mad at dullards who drink espresso and then yak endlessly about themselves. He's mad at sex-obsessed religious fundamentalists who can't keep their minds off his zipper. ("I had to quit goin' to church," he says, "just so I could quit hearin' about sex all the time!") And he's mad at folks who think J.R.R. Tolkien is deep.

But his anger squeezes out in vivid metaphors and bizarre juxtapositions: America is a lot like Elvis in the '70s, he says. That is, puffy and bloated, wheezing through its set. Although the fans may not have noticed, and although the rest of the world may be covetous, "America has left the building," he says. He claims that a generation of young American boys lost its innocence watching Annette Funicello's breasts develop on national TV (but after all, they were just "breastkateers").

At heart, Chandler and his songwriting partner, Phil Rockstroh, are beat romantics who compare the moon to a "thrift-store diva in a silver evening gown ... all gussied up with borrowed sunlight." Their ideas range from shockingly explicit to shockingly sophomoric, but they relish words too much to resort to explicit language. And the musical collages they build around Chandler's urgent exhortations and Samantha Parton's vulnerable voice are constructed from traditional Dixieland, sophisticated melodies borrowed from people like Cole Porter, and from traditional folk atmospheres.

Controversy ripped the usually friendly folk world this summer after Kerrville Folk Festival organizer Rod Kennedy banned Chandler, a long-time Kerrville favorite, from the prestigious event. You can see Chandler in Louisville when he brings his "Banned Music Tour" to Twice-Told Coffeehouse Friday night (9pm, $4).

by Marty Rosen, Louisville Leo

updated: 12 years ago