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No Frills

music DrunkenPrayerAlt-country group Drunken Prayer plays it like they see it

Morgan Christopher Geer thinks of himself a bit like a musical journalist, who spends his time “seeing things the way they are.”

And when the singer/songwriter rolls into town behind his constantly rotating cast of tell-it-like-it-is indie-folk players—which he calls Drunken Prayer, no matter who’s thumping or fiddling away behind him—he’ll likely be keeping his “antenna up.”

Geer says he is constantly on the lookout for a tale that begs to be told. Perhaps he’ll find one at The Crepe Place on Aug. 15.

He looks to real life situations to supply him with the inspiration for his hard-luck, hard-drinking country tunes, because that’s the path of least resistance.

“If I try to write about one thing, I can’t do it,” explains Geer, who has been working under the Drunken Prayer moniker since 2006, when a conversation with the legendary Tom Waits convinced the budding musician to find his own voice.

Up until that point, Geer confesses, he had been basically aping his influences. “That conversation came around at the right time,” he says. “It gave me some wind in my sails.”

One topic, which he and Waits discussed, was the peculiar beauty of “bad news delivered in a pretty package.” The concept is an apt description for the opening track on Drunken Prayer’s second full-length album, Into the Missionfield. “Brazil” is a slow, twangy plea of a song, which imagines, in major keys, an impossibly idyllic reunion in some carefree Amazonian locale. Throughout the tune, Geer sings a faltering, weakly upbeat melody that struggles to stay bright under the realization—all too clear—that it is simply a dream.

“If I lived in Brazil, would you come and visit me?” the protagonist asks an unidentified former lover, listing all of the ifs before coming to the conclusion, which he had clearly reached before he even began strumming. “No” is the obvious answer. Still, before giving up entirely, Geer’s narrator redoubles his efforts, although he knows the answer isn’t going to change.

And when he is turned down again, he relents, “You ain’t outta line”—an acknowledgement from our sad-sack hero that the entire affair of asking was doomed from the start and only served to twist the knife in his wounded heart.

It may not make for the most dramatic of story arcs, but this is the type of yarn Geer enjoys spinning. He says he really can’t stand songs that are “navel gazing” or autobiographical. “I like to be able to identify with a song.”

It would seem that the voice Geer found after meeting Waits was a rather straightforward one—unvarnished, both literally and figuratively. He doesn’t seem too concerned to be delivering his stories through untrained vocal chords, which can warble, yelp and scrape along, as he paints pictures of the things he sees around him, as they come and without embellishment.

“I pay attention to people’s conversations, road signs, church signs and I kind of vamp off of that,” Geer says. In this way, the songs of Drunken Prayer certainly take on a journalistic quality. And, like any honest reporter, he makes a point of examining both sides of any story before filing his copy. “I love gospel music and I love devil music,” he says, “and I think they can hold hands.” 


Drunken Prayer plays at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 15 at The Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. For tickets and more info, call 429-6994.
Photo by Julia Oliver  

 

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

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