This is the third time I’ve tried to write about Caroleen Beatty on the internet, including briefly in my post “I remember NOLAthing” and also, if you click through to Amazon, there for her Runt Records release of covers, “You’re Only as Pretty As You Feel”, I posted that in 2006.
I’ve been watching Caroleen and Sunny (am I the only person who still calls her Sunshine?) since December of 1994. I wrote a letter to someone in Bedlam Rovers asking them if they want to play my new concert series at Cubberley. They had basically broken up. I saw what I believed to be Sunny’s debut with them, on Haight Street, she was subbing for Marko who had tinnitis, I think it was. Caroleen told me later, in passing, that the band was from DC and had in fact once bought Ian MacKaye’s van, or borrowed it or rented it, for a tour (a propos of the show I did with The Evens, in 2007, I think). Caroleen probably hates having her career discussed in terms of her many better-known admirers. But let me just say that one of her biggest fans, who I met only because she suggested that, if I had to shop her demos he was worth checking with, Howard Greynolds of Overcoat Records in Chicago. Greynolds meanwhile has been pretty darn busy helping his other discoveries like Swell Season (who won the Academy Award, for “Once” and “Falling Slowly”) and Iron and Wine (what hasn’t he done?).
I also met Andrea Troolin through Howard; she works with Andrew Bird.
I will always remember, as I mentioned here, that on my 40th birthday, while visiting New York, I took the train and a couple cabs to watch Jon Langford’s soundcheck at North Moore in Philly, then I hustled back to keep my actual plan, to see Patricia Barber at Birdland (I had a date). It was my very first visit and I had no idea I would be falling in and out of love with a Philly-emigrant and would be spending so much of my 40s it seems in the 215.
So to the extent that Caroleen’s work is, what?, assuaging pain, I really do feel her, although she told someone once I don’t get it.
“I am a happy person” I heard her say once, on stage, at The Oakland Metro, opening for Stew (who had a pretty good run shortly thereafter, with “Passing Strange”) “it’s only my songs that are sad.” (That night the venue paid her fifty bucks and she kicked me back a sawbuck, the only commission I made during my two years or so managing the artists “individually, collectively and professionally known as Waycross.” — there was some verbiage about sunset clauses that I’ve never enforced but I’m not upset).
I remember when I played the demo of some of these same songs, including here “Boys Boys Boys” (“bluer than blue”) for Craig Ruda in LA, my cousin, and a running partner with David Immergluck, of the Counting Crows, who was quoted somewhere as saying his Christmas list included having Caroleen Beatty sit on his lap — he was enamored, Immergluck –that he made a pantomine of someone tieing off — it was sad, very sad music.
I think if you got these songs to Ry Cooder for instance he might want to re-cut “Paris, Texas” by Wim Winders — this fits that whole zeitgeist of love’s labour lost and powerlessness; maybe these tracks will end up on a special directors cut DVD.
Of course Eno is a fan of Caroleen, thanks to the work she and Doug did making their own version of “Taking Tiger Mountain.”
Although these five or so songs were shot more than a year ago, in August, 2010, they are a relevation and currency for me; I haven’t seen or talked to Caroleen in much longer, plus, as I said, I’ve been watching her over 18 years or so. She also used to play the flute on stage, some early reviews of Bedlam Rovers describe.
Well, she should be getting paid, not “fucked.”
“Satisfaction equals desire” a snatch of lyrics from Bedlam Rovers old song, maybe recorded live at KZSU, worked into my decision to drop out of mainstream advertising.
Anyhow, much respect and fondest best wishes to Caroleen and Sunny; not quite sure if its appropriate to invite them to play somewhere down here, for International Congress of Buskers or Palo Alto (ICOBOPA), at Lytton Plaza, at Zoe Cafe, in Mildred Howards “Clear Story” art installation, or what.
Ian Brennan is their supporter, and took them to East Coast on his Brainwash group tour; he’s a wheel as a producer now with Tiniarawen and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot. He could at least get them heard, for instance, at Anti.
Not sure if Caroleen wants to be heard by anyone but her close friends.
I once had a notion to suggest Wilbur Woodas a pseudonym in that she has a lyric about “down on her knuckles” and it sounds rural. She owns a gardening service and or is a gardener.
She is the Topher Delaney of folk punk. Wilbur Wood, who turns 70 next month, was known for his endurance and resilience — like Caroleen – and is the last pitcher to both win and lose 20 games in a season, in 1974. The Upsets is a fine name, too.
Check out the parallax view of this performance shot by two different people; the social media page, linked at very top, is public so people like me who are dissidents can check it, for now at least.