Friday, August 27, 2010

August "Forgotten" Music/Friday's "Forgotten" Book: BLUE ROSE by Blue Rose (Sugar Hill, 1989); LIFE OF THE PARTY by Mary Fleener (Fantagraphics, 1996)

Life is not cooperative at all at the moment, so I shall have less to say than I'd like about this wonderful book, which collects most of Mary Fleener's most autobiographical comix stories (as of the '96 publication date) and this bluegrass "supergroup" album, I believe the first all-female gathering of veterans, rather than younger folk who came up together in bluegrass (as the Dixie Chicks initially did, or such younger bands as Uncle Earl).

From her middle-class LA early-teen years, through adventures in the bohemian subcultures (including latter-day 1970s hippiedom and the fringes of American punk rock, surf culture and more), the weirdness of the theoretically conventional "straight" life around that and various eerie bits of coincidence that seemingly could verge on the supernatural, Fleener's bold style (given, particularly in portraying incidences of stress or ecstacy, to Cubist abstractions, such as the cover above) is an excellent match with her wit and wry take on the passing show.

Life of the Party is a good introduction to her work, as would be particularly the three issues of Fleener, one of the several shortlived comics titles she's produced on her own or in collaboration (she was one of the most talented of the contributors to the durable Wimmen's Comix and one of the founding group of contributors to its heir, Twisted Sisters. However, Life is, as too many books are, barely in print, from Fantagraphics and others.

Some samples of her b&w work:

Meanwhile, Blue Rose the band: Cathy Fink, Marcy Marxer, Laurie Lewis, Sally Van Meter, and Molly Mason (no relation as far as I know) simply recorded this wonderful album, toured a bit as a group, but didn't find sufficient support to remain a unit, if that was ever the intent, and that's really too bad (as well as a poor commentary on the tough life a bluegrass band could face in the '80s and '90s)...these truncated clips, more at the band link above than I replicate here, will give you a sense of their wonderful sound (though the instrumental solos are often what's truncated, in favor of the lovely vocal harmonies):

1. River of Change
2. Geraldine and Ruthie Mae
3. Blue Love
4. Little Birds
5. Your Friendship Carries Me
6. Sad But True
7. Wild Rose of the Mountain
8. Careless Love
9. Train of Life
10. Time Has Made A Change

--though I'm tempted to simply post them all. You probably need this record. I did.

For more of August's "forgotten" music, please see Scott Parker's blog; for more of this Friday's "forgotten" books, please see Patti Abbott's...


C. Margery Kempe said...

FLEENER ROCKS! And she's really nice, too.

Todd Mason said...

Literally and figuratively, she rocks...and I can certainly believe she's a cool person.

C. Margery Kempe said...

My pal Wendy did a terrific paper at PCA... oh, ages back, on her art. It was amazing to see it all blown up big for slides. What a wonderful eye she has. Amazing!