The Wilhelms | Contortionist Blues

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Folk: Alternative Folk Rock: Acoustic Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Contortionist Blues

by The Wilhelms

Rootsy, original folk music with close harmonies, sparkling musicianship, and from-the-heart songwriting.
Genre: Folk: Alternative Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Did Our Someday Come
2:39 $0.99
2. Hard Dog to Keep on the Porch
2:51 $0.99
3. Came out of Nowhere
2:57 $0.99
4. Galloping Gertie
3:50 $0.99
5. Satan Won't You Go
4:40 $0.99
6. Falling Down Drunk
5:00 $0.99
7. Simple Gifts
4:19 $0.99
8. Ode to Sergio
3:01 $0.99
9. Contortionist Blues
2:45 $0.99
10. Snowin' on Raton
4:48 $0.99
11. Best Spent Time
4:40 $0.99
12. Wobble On
2:47 $0.99
13. Five-Hundred Dollar Funeral
3:49 $0.99
14. Stepping Stone
3:17 $0.99
15. Meet Me on the South Side
3:41 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
On the aptly titled “Contortionist Blues,” two veterans of the St. Louis music scene conduct a master class on how to honor a rich variety of folk and Americana forms while infusing and enlivening them with their own vision, which here is perhaps best described as the middle-aged wisdom of two close friends who have weathered life’s storms and wear their scars—physical, psychological, and spiritual—with what can only be called gratitude.

Throughout Ploof and Wendland’s back catalog, the Band and Bob Dylan have been aesthetic spirit animals, but now other ghosts hover over and caress their music. Townes Van Zandt (literally in the moving cover of “Snowin’ on Raton”) is here to lend a stoic gravitas that comes across as sweetness and light despite the inevitable acknowledgment of death and darkness. Listen closely to the opening notes of Ploof and Wendland‘s gorgeous, wistful “Did Our Someday Come” and try hard not to hear Van Zandt’s eulogy for Janis Joplin, “You Are Not Needed Now”—the title may seem like gallows humor, yet by the song’s end meaning is contorted into a kind of grace. And something similar happens on each of these 15 cuts.

Something spectral is in the air: Loss and grief loom in the campfire sing-along “Galloping Gertie,” in the quiet dignity of the Jimmy Webb-ish “Best Spent Time,” in the tragicomic, Basement Tapes-meets-Gram Parsons “Five Hundred Dollar Funeral,” and in the sober, soul-searching, secular hymn for the late, great St. Louis songwriter and photographer Bob Reuter that closes the album. But these bluesy, twisting-and-turning spirits are ultimately friendly—what the poet Wallace Stevens terms “the soft-footed phantom”—leading us where, we cannot know, but as listeners and fellow pilgrims we do as we are told, and enjoy the ride. — Michael Friedman



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