“ One of the problems with the idea that America needs a ‘Conversation On Race’ is that it presumes that ‘America’ has something intelligent to say about race. All you need do is look at how American history is taught in this country to realize that that is basically impossible.”
I was criticized for my letter to Frank Ocean. My ally privilege was showing. Criticism often stings, but I grew from it, heard what was being said. It’s easy to dismiss criticism as an attack. But often, when a woman is criticized, she has to deal with her lesson in isolation. Men, on the other hand, can hardly hear the lesson for all the (often female) bodies piling on to protect him. I’m post infantilization. But that’s just me.
“ Something within her refused to grow. Something endless, eternal. Something bold. Something warrior-like. She looked up at the stars, she could feel, she felt as if she could pluck them one by one and send them spinning into the world, like small beautiful elastic mercurial weapons. Now too, the time is coming.”
Photograph by H. William Burdett Jr.
Advance Base. Salt & Cedar. 2.15.13.
Christmas in Oakland
Train Your Child(Washington Phillips cover)
Mother’s Last Word to Her Son (Washington Phillips cover)
My Sister’s Birthday
The Sister You Never Had
Goldfish in a Robin’s Nest
Christmas in Milwaukee
Pamela (working title)
Encore: Riot Grrrls
Favorite Song Performed: n/a
Least Favorite Song Performed: n/a
Set Design: n/a
Crowd energy: n/a
Band Energy: ★★★★★
Sound Quality: ★★★★★
Overall Performance: ★★★★★
Advance Base (Owen Ashworth) haunts the strip malls, gas stations and homes of the suburban sprawls of America with his somber stories of childhood, youth, and recent adulthood in his debut album A Shut In’s Prayer. Recognizing beauty in the unnoticed eccentricity of banality. His frank lyrics conjure vignettes of a life, as time passes- looking back. I think of a line from Leonard Cohen “looks like freedom but it feels like death”- perhaps the most eloquent utterance about leaving childhood linked to Ashworth’s voice “there’s no use complaining/ we don’t want things changing at all”.
Advance Base performs with the same sweet, truthful, innocence that he presents in his songs (no parody, pastiche, or camp that much of this generation is plagued with). As he plays his humming Rhodes and strokes a twinkling Suzuki Omnichord to the simple, sturdy beat of a rhythm box.
Ashworth pauses between songs and interacts with the 50 or so people who filled the small back room of Salt & Cedar (a letterpress in the Eastern Market), at one moment, prior to playing “David Allen” he offers the fact that “this song is about a childhood friend”. The room stands still. “It’s a quite night, so, I’ll play softly” he continues, and gently strikes the first collection of keys, leaving space between each subsequent note and chord. The song reminisces about “the summer/ that we both turned 10/ before you left our neighborhood”, before leaping into the present “I thought that I saw you/ the other night/ outside a sports bar in neon light/ but I should know better/ than trust my sight”. Ashworth leaves the audience hanging with the question, “how I’ve wondered Davy/ if often you thought of me”. A “Yes!” appears out of the corner of this meat locker turned musical venue, as the song fades, as if an audience member could not contain her recognition of the pure truth of this aloneness that comes with life.
He conjured a Texan street preacher from the 1920’s, sang a song for his daughter, and one about a time he lost his cat, he told a joke about a boy home alone, and ended his set with a preview of a song (he wasn’t “quite ready to play”) tentatively titled ‘Pamela’ “about a demon child” - and lo! he was more than ready. The entire night Ashworth had the audience in the palm of his hand, singing hymns of sacredness and the heartbreaking minutiae of everyday life- a shut in’s prayer-. As the citizens of Detroit sat together in this church of the ordinary, listening in attentive reverie, he offered his last phrase (from his encore song, Riot Grrrls), “wondering if we ran/ who’d miss us” the 50 or so people clapped and whistled (perhaps our way of saying “we would”). The bells of St. Joseph’s struck across Gratiot Avenue, and the generator from the cold storage revved next door - the slaughterhouses of the Market were silent (the presses too), and Owen Ashworth smiled and walked off the makeshift stage and joined the crowd. -Leander
> Advance Base’s website can be found here
I always loved this statement-tweet from @dreamhampton - I’ve applied it more this year to how I love my friends and admit my mistakes #accountability