Ben Weaver – Hollerin’ At A Woodpecker
Great title for the third full-length offering by this brilliant, pickled peckerwood denizen of the Minnesota northwoods; he ain’t quite a Canadian frostback, but he’s so far afield of the usual Twin Cities semi-sophisticates that he may as well be ensconced in the foothills of the Ozarks (or Nepal, or Appalachia, or the Canadian Rockies).
Long, cold nights, no money and the obligations of tending to wood-burning stoves and trap-lines have a way of reconfiguring a guy’s world view, especially when there’s a woman and a baby-child in the equation. We’re talkin’ gutbucket desperation here, folks.
So here’s Ben Weaver. His first disc boasted a singalong with Greg Brown, his second (2000’s Living In The Ground, just reissued) was recorded in Iowa City with Bo Ramsey, Dave Moore and Eastern Iowa tub-thumping legend Steve Hayes, and this one was collected in Iowa City with Moore, longtime pal Jack Norton and some wacko fellow travelers.
No doubt Weaver would have you think he’s dumber’n a sack of hammers, but his raw, art-damaged vocal screeds are riveting, invigorating, illuminating. A woodpecker’s incessant hammering can drive ya nuts, but if the only way to shut the bastid up is to yell at it, you’re trading energy that can’t always be restored.
Something’s gotta give, and them woodpeckers just keep on a’comin.’ Weaver’s up to the challenge.