A Grunge Fan Turned Americana Fan
Americana/roots music was introduced to me through the talents of Bill Mallonee. A friend invited me and my wife to a Mallonee house show that he was hosting. As a theatre artist who operates somewhere within that vague category of experimental, I was familiar with performances in people’s living rooms. I wasn’t familiar with Bill Mallonee, however. The day of the house show/concert, I finally got around to Googling this unknown musician. My high school years took place during the early 90’s, and my music taste reflected that reality. I cut my concert teeth at Lollapalooza, and the majority of my music library consisted of records by bands like Mudhoney, Soundgarden, and, of course, Nirvana. So, after hitting “play” on the Bill Mallonee Youtube videos, I didn’t really pay attention to what I was hearing. Showing up at my friend’s house later that day, I was totally unprepared for the concert and music experience that I was about to have.
If I remember correctly, there were around fifteen people in attendance that evening. Bill Mallonee and his wife Muriah played for almost two hours. During those two hours, I began to realize the power of music as narrative communication. Mallonee is an excellent musician as a singer and instrumentalist, but his true talents are found in his songwriting and his ability to communicate with the listener. After the concert, my wife and I spoke briefly with Bill Mallonee, and he autographed the cd we bought for our daughter. Our daughter, who is now eight years old, loves that album (Perfumed Letter), and listens to it frequently. Since then, we have purchased a dozen of the almost sixty albums that Mallonee has produced, either as solo works or with Vigilantes of Love.
As my love for and appreciation of Americana, roots, and alt-country music has grown during the subsequent years, my puzzlement and disappointment has simultaneously grown that one of the best Americana musicians alive today does not receive more attention. Bill Mallonee is a modern-day Troubadour, telling stories through the creation of excellent music. Unfortunately, he does this in relative obscurity. People remember his band Vigilantes of Love with fondness and respect, but are usually surprised to hear that Bill is still creating and is still touring with his artistic integrity intact.
One of Paste Magazine’s Greatest Living Songwriters and a darling of the critics is currently recording the latest addition to his sizeable and artistically substantial canon. The record is titled Dover Beach, and Mallonee is currently taking pre-orders, a method of financing that he has found affective in the past. Mallonee describes the record as “bringing it all up a level,” quite the promise from an artist who has consistently delivered high level music in the past. I am looking forward to the release of Dover Beach; my fear is that like it’s brilliant creator, this will be a brilliant album that is criminally under appreciated.