The Kleinert/James Art Center, 34 Tinker St. , Woodstock, NY
On Saturday, June 10, singer-songwriter and eclectic popster Chris Maxwell will perform at Byrdcliffe’s Kleinert/James Center for the Arts, with special guests Ambrosia Parsley and Justin Tracy. Rolling Stone magazine has called Maxwell’s music “an invigorating pop mishmash that’s earthy, literate, and melodic;” an earthy literacy is equally what urged Byrdcliffe’s utopian dreamers Ralph and Jane Whitehead to build an art colony in the wilds of Woodstock’s Mount Guardian, to which they invited artists and writers in the early twentieth century to come and create in a romantically situated space. Maxwell, an Arkansas native who made his way to Woodstock via the 1990s music scene of New York City, first caught critics’ ear as guitarist for Skeleton Key, a noise-pop rock band born at the legendary Knitting Factory; the band went on to cut a Grammy-nominated album with Capitol Records. Maxwell’s debut album, Arkansas Summer, began in a studio-fitted Airstream trailer parked in his Woodstock backyard. The album’s narratives are filled with Biblical personages, seedy subterranean heroes, and skinny cats who take listeners on an auditory joy-ride despite the dark images of abuse, addiction and, in several songs, decapitation: “Remove the neck and the head can’t turn/Then light the hair and watch it burn/With imaginary concern” (“Imaginary Man”). National Book Critics Circle Award-winning novelist John Lethem calls Maxwell’s style as “personal as home movies with X-rays included.” Maxwell has a voice both melodic and edgy, with Freedy Johnston, Wilco, Michael Penn, and—in a big way—Lennon/McCartney as his influences. Maxwell also composes and records music for TV shows like Bob’s Burgers and Inside Amy Schumer, as well as producing and writing music for other artists (They Might Be Giants, Iggy Pop, Yoko Ono, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion) as part of the production team The Elegant Too, with Phil Hernandez. Opening for Chris Maxwell is the tunefully earnest Justin Tracy, who was born and raised in London and currently divides his time between New York City and the Catskills. He is a multi-instrumentalist with a focus on guitar and vocals, with a lusty voice that has more than once been compared to the (almost) incomparable Nick Drake. Tracy began his career as a jazz drummer performing with acts including Earth, Wind & Fire at the Nice Jazz Festival and the North Sea Jazz Festival. His albums Bangla Motor and the forthcoming Mumbai Night, to be released in summer of 2017, feature acclaimed tabla player, Nilesh Jadhav. His composing credits include BAFTA-award winning television program Fonejacker and the Emmy-award nominated television program Facejacker. Tickets are $15 general admission, or $13 for Byrdcliffe members. Purchase by calling 845.679.2079, online, or at the door. Doors open at 7:30 pm; the concert begins at 8:00 pm.