Story and video by Joel Patterson
Photograph by Rich Borden
Greenwich’s David Greenberger is a masterful artist who knows how to get to the heart of matter of getting older. He’s been doing it for three decades now as the writer, editor and all-around office boy at the Duplex Planet, a little homemade magazine that’s grown into an empire over the years, spawning books, radio shows, comic books and more.
Greenberger is also a musician intimately aware of the power of music. And over the years, he’s created an amazing collection of spoken-word recordings, collaborating with the likes of Los Lobos, NRBQ’s Terry Adams, John Sebastian, members of the Sun Ra Arkestra, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, Paul Cebar, 3 Leg Torso and others.
He doesn’t play an instrument on the CDs, though. He doesn’t sing. He doesn’t write the material. He simply speaks. Reciting the words of others that he’s collected in interviews over the years, allowing his voice to be heard as the voice of the thousands of everyday elderly people who we somehow never get a chance to hear.
Greenberger’s latest musical collaborators are an all-star trio of Nippertown musicians, A Strong Dog featuring Kevin Maul, Matthew Loiacono and Mitch Throop. Together, they’ve just released their debut album So Tough, and they’ll be showcasing the poignant, profound, peculiar and positively funny stories/songs in concert at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs at 8pm on Friday (May 31). William Rees opens the show. Tickets are $15 in advance; $17 at the door.
BUT WAIT… Have we got a deal for you! We’re giving away a FREE TICKET to the show to two lucky Nippertown readers! To enter the contest, just post a comment below. Please leave your email address, too. We won’t publish it, but we’ll use it to contact you if you win. The deadline to enter is 12noon on Friday (May 31), and the winner will be selected at random and notified on Friday afternoon. Enter today! And good luck! Congratulations to the winners, who have been notified by email.
“The first album I owned was given to me as a gift – ‘The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm.’ It came in a box with an accompanying hardcover book. The movie it tied in with was out within the year prior. I still have the album.
The first one I bought was ‘Meet the Beatles.’
And I somehow feel I must divulge this as well – around the time of its release, I shoplifted the first Moby Grape album. It’s the one where one of the guys is giving the finger in the cover photo, and they subsequently airbrushed that out. I pulled this caper off at the Eckerd drugstore across the street from the Glenwood Elementary School in Erie, PA. My surprise at the ease of getting it out of the store led me to follow up that first theft with a couple more before giving it up. Shortly thereafter, I found out about a DJ from the local Top 40 station who was selling promo albums for a dollar each, and that’s where all my paper route money went from then on.”
Best known as the editor, publisher, etc. of the magnificent periodical The Duplex Planet, David Greenberger is also the former bassist with the Boston-based band Men & Volts and a monologist who has recently released four spoken word-with-music albums simultaneously: “Tell Me That Before,” “Never Give Up Study,” “OH, PA” and “How I Became Uncertain.” In addition, Greenberger is also a visual artist, and a collection of his recent drawings will be part of an upcoming two-person exhibition with the cut-paper artwork of Mary Gaynier at the Lake George Arts Project’s Courthouse Gallery. The exhibition opens on Saturday (November 12) with a reception from 4-6pm. The exhibit continues through Friday, December 16.
Wow, what a weekend, nothing to do except sit back and listen to one great band after another.
Originally, I signed up for the Clang! Thang mainly because Chandler Travis and his different projects (Chandler Travis Philharmonic and the Catbirds) were scheduled to play, but I was also curious about the revamped NRBQ with Terry Adams. I had missed him both times he came to Amsterdam’s Riverlink Park with the Rock and Roll Quartet. With all performances in the East Windsor Clarion Inn’s ballroom, weather would certainly not be a problem (good thing too, because Friday and Saturday saw some soaking rains). Going in with an open mind about the other performers I had never heard of, I found I was in for a great surprise as each one was wonderful.
In the month since Don Van Vliet died, I’ve been considering my connection to the music he created under the name Captain Beefheart. His albums “Trout Mask Replica” and especially “Lick My Decals Off, Baby” provided some of the soundtrack to my high school years. I’m glad I was an adolescent when a major label saw fit to record and release Beefheart’s music.
Though Van Vliet’s musical career only spanned sixteen of his 69 years, that decade and a half overlapped with my own awakening curiosities. Among them was an interest in music. With my bass guitar, I formed or joined a series of bands in my hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania, until the early ’70s when I headed off to college and not-college and college.
By 1979, I’d been living in Boston for a while, when I had an urge to play in a band again, something I’d not done since leaving Erie. Checking listings in the weekly arts paper, the first one that leapt out at me, unexpected and impossibly perfect, stated “Seeking bass player to play music of Captain Beefheart.” The band was six musicians including two singers, and augmented by a couple additional musicians on saxophone and marimba, in the few instances they were needed.
One of our favorite local music writers Peter Aaron has written a wonderful, in-depth profile of Greenwich’s David Greenberger, who just happens to be one of our very all-time favorite artist/musician/writer/conceptualist/magazine publisher-editor/album-cover-designer/Renaissance man/all-around-good-guy buddies.
And if you missed Nippertown.com’s review of Greenberger’s latest album, “Cherry Picking Apple Blossom Time,” from last August, you can just go here…
Maybe you know David Greenberger as a music writer for Metroland magazine.
Maybe you know him from his National Public Radio commentaries.
Maybe you know him as the creator and editor of Duplex Planet, one of the most wonderful magazines in the whole universe.
And maybe you don’t know him at all.
But now you can get to know him better. One of our favorite Nippertown artists-in-residence, Greenberger is the subject of a 30-minute documentary film, “A King in Milwaukee,” co-directed by Brad Lichtenstein and Nicole Brown for 371 Productions. The film will have its broadcast premiere on Wednesday (November 18) – but unfortunately, only in Milwaukee, on Milwaukee Public Television.
Here’s a too-short clip:
by Ernest Noyes Brookings
October the tenth month thirty-one days
Frequently trips to view autumn leaves
Occasionally a light fog or a dark haze
But not a detrimental cough or sneeze
In a large several room family home
Dad — would you like to view nature’s grandeur?
Mutually yes, lead us to the place to roam
The foliage was beautiful not manufactured