'Your Wound Is Your Crown'

by Johanna B. Bodde

Boister - 'Your Wound Is Your Crown'
Piano Parasite Productions/BMI  A Wing and a Prayer Recording)

The group Boister from Baltimore has released a new album: 'Your Wound is Your Crown'. Here it is right in front of me: a gorgeous looking (autographed!) LP, with lyrics sheet, stickers and a download code for the digitally minded. (It's also available on CD.) The black inner sleeve shows thank you's in gold print - including my name, as I gave airplay to the previous CD 'Some Moths Drink The Tears Of Elephants'.
This band is unique and amazing and intriguing! They play a mix of music that is impossible to describe with one word or phrase that places it in any particular genre. Let's try: a mix of jazz, pop and vaudeville with a bit of rock? "Welcome to the cabaret of the third millenium. Between Brecht, Satie and the circus Pinder, Anne Watts and Boister impose a style that only belongs to them. Derailing the mainstream, the charm of this sound catches up to you insidiously." This album is their seventh release in sixteen years of existence. So, my friends and music lovers here: please, pay attention & check them out > they are GOOD!
ANNE WATTS is the singer and the main songwriter. She wrote all the songs on 'Your Wound Is Your Crown', except "Yellow Sands" with lyrics adapted from W. Shakespeare's 'The Tempest'. Anne has a beautiful, relaxed voice and she knows how to build up a song ("Sycamore")! She also plays accordion (I just love accordions...), piano, Rhodes and pianola. She worked for years in a psychiatric hospital and later with Alzheimer patients. Respect!! That is about the most challenging and emotionally difficult work a person can choose to do. This has also been a source of inspiration for some of her song lyrics. The legendary Jim Dickinson (The Replacements, Big Star, Ry Cooder, Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones), who recorded Boister at his studio Zebra Ranch in Independence Mississippi, said about Anne Watts: "Any artist that can reference Lotte Lenya, Edith Piaf, Captain Beefheart, and Thelonious Monk at the same time is okay with me. Dark, earthtone vocals; faded, sepia band tracks; with a splash of day-glo. She makes Tom Waits sound like a sissy.” And I found this breathtakingly beautiful quote of his inside their previous album 'Some Moths Drink The Tears Of Elephants': "Dragonflies dart in and out of the wisteria vine and little lizards creep through the cracks in the rotting sidewalks. Inside the old barn, a circus band summons the spirit of Lotte Lenya and Ezra Pound. The zebra watches from the bushes. Banjo and Biblical horns caress the lyric like a long-lost lover. The Mississippi leaves whisper with the singing bugs of evening. Who will hear it in the nights? The South is haunted. The humid air hangs heavy with the ghosts of slavery and literary genius. We are not alone." And he recommended the album: "One way or the other, this music will uplift and enhance your life. You will have more than you do."
The lyrics! As if the use of Shakespeare's words for a long piano ballad isn't brave enough already, Anne Watts keeps pleasantly surprising us with a modern take on the kind of nostalgic songs that throw us back about eighty years to smoky bars in Paris or Berlin. Various moody themes are touched on: sorrow, heartaches and tragedies, delicate tenderness, compassion, melancholy, sin and salvation, ghosts and mysteries... My favorites? Hm, hard to pick just one or two of the gems... "As The Ship Goes Down": "Never miss a breath of air, Won't have to deal with questions there, As the world bemoans our dying, You will shake your head and sighing, watch the ship go down". And "Swan Dive": "I saw you glide, I saw you float against the sky, I saw you leave me, Leave me behind." And "Emmeline (prelude)" - one of the three tracks without words, is gorgeous too!

The players! Musicians should be honored. They are introduced on the band website like this:
LYLE KISSACK is a painter, who happens to have played drums with Laughing Tree, The Cockles, The Pleasant Livers, Candy Machine, The Benham Disk and Ink.

CHAS MARSH is a bassist and composer, as well as an award-winning theatrical sound designer and video artist/documentarian. He has toured extensively for three decades, performing funk, rock, blues, reggae, soul and jazz.

Rolling Stone’s David Fricke called WARREN BOES a 'guitar-god'. He’s best known for his work with All Mighty Senators, with whom he 'cook(s) up a postmodern musical stew'. Warren first collaborated with Boister on a tribute album to CooCooRockinTime, 'Seven Ways To Sunday', and is responsible for many of the grooves created for Boister film scores, from D.W. Griffith’s 'Intolerance' on.

JIM HANNAH has been deeply involved with latin and jazz music since the early 70′s. After studying marimba with Gordon Stout and classical percussion with the late Nora Davenport, he went to NYC to study congas with Joe ‘Papo’ Daddiego. Jim has worked with many great musicians including Tito Puente, Giovanni Hidalgo, Andy Gonzalez, Los Munequitos de Matanzas, Nestor Torres, Jon Faddis, Doc Cheatum, Cat Anderson, Roberto Borrell, and Miles Davis’s sidemen Gary Bartz and Gary Thomas. He is a founding member of the Baltimore based Rumba Club.
CRAIG CONSIDINE, on trombone, is also a founding member of Rumba Club, and features prominently in All Mighty Senators and Chopteeth.

GLENN WORKMAN (keyboards) has performed with Crack The Sky, Off The Wall, Jim Ball & the Suits (MTV Basement Tapes winner), Michael Hedges, OHO (Musician magazine best unsigned band in America 1986, Yamaha Soundcheck winner 1988), Lucifer, The Heat & the Cold Sweat Horns, and as a guest soloist with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra. He is also a keyboard programmer and composer and has worked for the Rolling Stones (1994 Voodoo Lounge tour), Stevie Wonder, The Baltimore Symphony, Joe Jackson, Jan Hammer, Blue Oyster Cult, Foghat, PM Dawn, LucasFilms, The Baltimore Orioles, and many touring Broadway production companies. Glenn first began collaborating with Boister on their score for D.W. Griffith’s 'Intolerance'.
'Multi-reedman JOHN DIERKER (bass clarinet, saxes) has become a major improvisational stylist…interweaving concepts augmented by howling lines, injections of blues-drenched choruses and Albert Ayler-like display of energy.' (All About Jazz) A Baltimore, Maryland native Dierker has worked in a wide variety of musical settings collaborating with Peter Zummo, Jason Willett, Jad Fair, and The Basement Boys. John is a longtime member of Lafayette Gilchrist and The New Volcanoes. Currently he is working with Quartet Offensive, Microkingdom, and 3081, a group that includes Michael Formanek, Dave Ballou and Will Redman.

The producer of 'Your Wound Is Your Crown' is J. Robbins of Jawbox.
Boister also plays live soundtracks to classic silent films, creating a very special experience. Not only D.W. Griffith's 'Intolerance', but also 'Love' with Greta Garbo and the Buster Keaton movies 'Our Hospitality', 'Seven Chances' and 'Steamboat Bill, Jr.' - the 1928 classic, considered one of the great silent movies of Keaton's career. A quote: "Most memorable for its startling displays of death-defying acrobatics along the shores of the Mississippi River, the film features a strong supporting cast, a torrential rainstorm and an abundance of classic slapstick. Boister's original score for 'Steamboat Bill, Jr.' was commissioned by the Walters Art Museum and was subsequently performed at Philadelphia's World Cafe, the Smithsonian, the Kennedy Center and at the Virginia Film Festival, where film critic Roger Ebert declared the music 'wonderful' and the band's timing 'spot on'."
Written & compiled by Johanna J. Bodde, August 15th, 2014.