It's hard to listen when you're being yelled at. Subtlety always
works better. So when they threw Chris Leo into prison in Atoka,
Oklahoma his band still played the show without him that night in
Denton, Texas. When his van crashed en route to the Reading Festival
on the M-1 outside of Manchester, sending most of his newly formed
Glaswegian rhythm section to the hospital, he rented another bus,
picked up fresh lads in Leeds and didn't miss a bill. When label
upon label, ten drummers, and eight bass players picked him up and
subsequently dropped him, it never occurred to Chris to wonder "maybe
it's me." Neither angry INS officials on Rainbow Bridge threatening
to refuse him entry into his own country nor Basque thugs who stole
his tour van and held it ransom in San Sebastian could drive the
point through his stubborn skull that his calling laid elsewhere.
In the end, it took but a gentle kiss of a front fender against
a rear bumber outside the Holland Tunnel one Fall morning on his
way to band practice with his Philadelphian rhythm section that
whispered a crack just loud enough to pique the Transit Authority
cop's interest: an accident on a suspended license is bad bad news.
Fortunately, it swept Chris' sea legs out from under him for long
enough to do what any of us would have done if mired in a similar
situation. He quit his bartending job, closed himself off from the
world, holed up in a basement flat in Jackson Heights Queens, played
and played and played, wrote and wrote and wrote, until eventually
he emerged with White Pigeons, a novel and an album. In this
seriously solid vision, no note, preposition, article, or flub is
unaccounted for. Chris is as meticulous with his placement of profanities
as he is anacreontic with his lofty ideals.
The identities of the once anonymous Vague Angels musicians who
performed the role of The Breaks in Chapter 7:
Chris Leo performed the role of "Chris, Singer and Lyricist
of The Breaks" on every track except 10. Chris Leo also performed
the role of "Chris, Guitarist of The Breaks" on all tracks
except 3, in which Don Devore both performed and wrote said role.
Don Devore also played the role of "Don, the Bassist"
on tracks 1,2, and 3, 7, 9, and 11. Jason Kourkounis performed the
role of "Much-Sought-After-Impossible-To-Hold-On-To-Drummer"
on tracks 1,2, and 3. Gibb Slife performed the same role on tracks
4 and 6. Danny Leo, too, performed said role on tracks 7,9, and
Jhonny Leo performed the role of "Cousin Johnny the Drummer"
on tracks 5 and 8. Pete Slife played the role of "Bassist-With-Other-Things-On-His-Mind"
on tracks 4 and 6. Gary Keating performed the same role on track
8. Gary Keating also performed the role of "Chris, Guitarist
of The Breaks" on two layers of guitar on track 8. Andy McCarthy
played the banjo for his role as "Studio-Sessioniere-Paid-Better-Than-Band"
on track 5.
Kate Merrick lives the role of "Kate Merrick, the Girl with
the Beautiful Voice" on track 12. Norman Coady, Amy leo, Jhonny
Leo, Danny Leo, Kurt Heasley, Gary Keating, Chris Leo, and Andy
McCarthy added hand-claps, snaps, giggles, and backround vocals
on tracks 5,6,8, and 9.
Tracks 1,2, and 3 were recorded by Jeff Ziegler at Uniform Recordings
in Philadelphia. Tracks 4 and 6 were recorded by Nicholas Vernes
at the Rare Book Room in Brooklyn. Tracks 5,7,8,9 and 11 were recorded
by Terrence Yerves at The Meat Locker in Philadelphia. Track 12
was recorded by Harvey Birrell at Southern Studios in London. The
entire album was mastered by Alan Douches at West Westside in Englewood,
57 Octaves Below the Middle C Buzzed by the Bee
(or Really) How I Lost This Place.
Chris Leo and Marcellus Hall
ISBN # 1-880855-1-35
Pub date: October 1, 2006
57 Octaves Below the Middle C Buzzed by the
Bee (or Really) How I Lost This Place is a jaunty
exploration of the romance of paradox and, inextricably converse,
the paradox of romance. New York City tour guide Steven Schecker
is on a smoke break with fellow tour guides debating the etymologies,
chronologies, and mysteries of everything as it relates to New York
City (as in everything) when he spots his girlfriend's mother across
the street and the two take off by foot and by tour bus around the
city in which the city is presented as metaphor for his girlfriend/her
daughter and her daughter/his girlfriend functions as a metaphor
for the city and the two continue to spiral together and swap polarities
until a dramatic conclusion over cocktails at happy hour is a given.
Words by Chris Leo:
Chris Leo, the mythical troubador flaneur who scored higher on the
New York City tour guide exam than anyone else in the city -- neither
Philip Lopate nor Speed Levitch can claim this -- is also responsible
for the novels White Pigeons and We Pulse in Pink, the children's
book Coomoococklemungmung illustrated by Buenos Aires' Francesca
Massai, and over ten albums over the past two decades with bands
like The Van Pelt, The Lapse, and currently, Vague Angels. Though
hailing from the Leo New Jersey art dynasty (brother of Ted, Dan,
and Amy), when not on tour he divides his time between Manhattan
and Cupra Marittima, Italy.
Drawings by Marcellus Hall:
Marcellus Hall's illustrations have graced the pages of The New
Yorker, Time magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly,
and The New York Times. His first cover for The New Yorker was published
in 2005. He has won recognition from American Illustration, The
Society of Illustrators, and Communication Arts. Marcellus Hall
created the comic strip Bill Dogbreath for alternative weekly newspapers
in the 1990s. He contributed an 8-page illustrated narrative to
the literary journal Open City #18 and has self-published booklets
of writings and
drawings including 2003's "Legends of the Infinite City - Drawings
of New York." As a songwriter and singer Marcellus Hall has
fronted bands Railroad Jerk and White Hassle, releasing albums and
touring Europe, Japan, and North America. An exhibit of his illustrations
and sketches was held at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2005
and his illustrated tour diaries can be found on the web. In 2004
he wrote and illustrated a weeklong journal for Slate.com.