A GUEST POSTING FROM THE SWEDE
17 years ago, curiosity led me to pick up a copy of Micah Blue Smaldone‘s solo debut album, ‘Some Sweet Day’, while on holiday in New York. I’d never heard of him or his music at that time, but was attracted by the cover artwork – a drawing of Smaldone looking for all the world like The Singing Brakeman, being watched over by a perched kingfisher and a clutch of bees. A year later I stumbled upon his second album, ‘Hither and Thither’ (still one of the all-time great LP titles I reckon), in similar circumstances. And that’s the way it’s continued, really. Self-publicity isn’t high on Micah’s agenda, so it’s just been a case of bumping into his new releases, side projects and one-off tracks more by luck than judgement, while remaining frustratingly unaware of his rare European visits until long after the event. In early 2014, however, I dropped by Micah’s infrequently updated (and now completely defunct) website to discover, to my great delight, that a handful of UK dates were imminent and in May of that year, in the unique and intimate surroundings of The Foundling Museum, near St Pancras in central London, I finally got to see the great man live in concert.
Coming out of the Maine punk scene of the late 1990s, by the time of his solo debut in 2004, Micah was, what can perhaps best be described as, an old-timey acoustic folk-blues troubadour. His later studio recordings, increasingly embellished by other musicians, headed in a thrillingly dark American gothic direction, though on that evening at The Foundling Museum it was just Micah and his 12-string guitar, intense and direct, delivering a series of lyrically dense, folk-noir songs interspersed with Piedmont blues instrumentals. It was a majestic performance, one I’d waited ten long years to witness, and I’m sure that I barely breathed for its duration. It really was among the key gigs of my life.
The 2014 tour was in support of Micah’s 4th studio LP, ‘The Ring of the Rise’, released the previous year. Since that time there have been no further records and indeed sightings in general have been virtually non-existent. I cling to the hope that one day I’ll spot his name on a new release page again, but in the meantime enjoy this brief introductory swing through his back pages. I can’t recommend his work highly enough.
1) Springtime Blues (Some Sweet Day 2004)
‘…everybody got a sweetheart, except for me…’
2) Summerbelle Winterbelle (Hither and Thither 2005)
‘…Summerbelle surely had eyes of fall, kept her arms folded in an ochre shawl…’
3) Sporting Sorrow Blues (Hither and Thither 2005)
‘…sorrow came a-courting some years before, a great beast sporting around my door…’
4) The Clearing (The Red River 2007)
‘…the vulgar men will yell, all within earshot, of the last tenable plot, for which our fathers fought…’
5) A Guest (The Red River 2007)
‘…not until our guest is full, wet with gore his handsome beard…’
6) A Derelict (The Red River 2007)
‘…in days to come when soils bleed and shores recede and winds cough hoarsely…’
7) Tell It to the Sun (EP Track 2012)
‘…from the razor to the straw, to the hard rind of reason…’
8) Heavy Bottle (The Ring of the Rise 2013)
‘…gone are days of passive light, here are days of molten…’
9) Dead Stop (The Ring of the Rise 2013)
‘…near I draw like a siphon, the highway is coiling…’
10) Time (The Ring of the Rise 2013)
‘…there is still time, oceans of time…’
This is an ICA that should have been with you a long while back, but went missing in cyberspace. It was purely a passing remark in a comment on another post that led me to contact The Swede and ask, if he still had the original e-mail, to send it again. I’m delighted that he could as this ICA, by a singer I have never until now ever heard of, is a superb addition to the series.
I just want to remind everyone that all ICAs are gratefully received and none are ever refused. I’m not sure if anyone else has previously submitted something but hasn’t seen it published; if so, it likely suffered the same ‘lost in delivery’ fate as Micah Blue Smaldone, so please feel free to drop me a line so we can try and sort it all out.