It’s not a geographic location. Balthrop, Alabama is actually a band. And a small fictional town. And a state of mind.
Helmed by siblings, primary vocalists and songwriters Pascal and Lauren Balthrop (who actually go by the names Jemison Thorsby and Georgiana Starlington), the rag-tag collection of musicians boasts a somewhat fluid line-up.
When I first heard them on WAMC-FM’s “Performance Place,” they were just a duo. When they were back on “Performance Place” again last week bolstered by a pair of sax players, they had grown to a quartet.
Onstage at MASS MoCA‘s Club B-10 on Saturday night, they had expanded once again, this time to a nine-piece ensemble with drums, bass, accordion, electric guitar and banjo as well.
Well, actually, only eight of them were on stage.
Sitting at a table just to the right of the stage was the band’s ninth member – artist Michael Arthur (whose Balthrop, Alabama name is Toxey Goodwater). He was armed with just one clean sheet of paper, a variety of pens, some small toy cars and plastic characters and a full glass of red wine.