Kelley Stoltz is a prolific musician, but more importantly he is a nice man–a nice man who makes head-boppin’ toe-tappers here in San Francisco. After falling for his album Circular Sounds (2008), I crossed paths with Mr. Stoltz while working as a music journalist and he always took the time to say hello without artifice or agenda. This fact, combined with his impeccable musicianship, is why I’ll be attending his record release show at The Chapel tonight. Supported by The Mantles and Sopwith Camel, this event–staged in a converted mortuary fresh with a buzz-worthy restaurant appropriately named The Vestry–promises to be an evening of goodness for both your hearing holes and tastebuds. See you there!
Let me begin by stating an annoyance: it’s repugnant when I, a twenty-something female, admit to loving a male musician and people, namely other men, assume that I want to sleep with said musician, that it is firstly a sexual and secondly a musical attraction. So let’s just clear the air here. Admiration expressed in this forum or otherwise by Nostos Nic is purely rooted in the music, in the pitch and fall of performance, in the artistry of whatever is discussed.
Now, with that said, there is no musical man I love more than John Anthony Gillis, known to us all as Jack White. First finding national fame as the backbone of The White Stripes, he continues to reinvent himself even though lesser men would’ve surfed that White Stripes wave into retirement. Selecting partners like Brendan Benson to create The Raconteurs, and Allison Mosshart to form The Dead Weather shows confidence in his own ability and a penchant to be challenged, simultaneously keeping his music and career fresh. With the release of his 2012 solo album “Blunderbuss” a mature artist emerged into the spotlight, free from the shadows of his Detroit garage rock shelter.
The lesser mentioned ventures, however, are what most attract me to Jack White. The soundtrack for Cold Mountain–a 2003 Civil War flick starring Nicole Kidman, Jude Law and Rene Zellweger–benefitted from the contribution of five beautiful appalachian bluegrass hymnals brought to life by White’s warbling. This started an impressive run in Hollywood that went on to include “Another Way To Die”, a duet with Alicia Keys that officially made him a Quantum of Solace Bond girl, and the recently released “Love is Blindness” from The Great Gatsby, the perfect distillation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s essence into the 21st-century world as seen so distinctly by Baz Luhrmann. And, by the way, please note the presence of Academy Award winners in these movies and remember that White was/is a pasty garage rock kid from Detroit, the posterchild of American industrial decay. Plus, it doesn’t end there. Aside from making movie music, he’s also made cameos as himself in six films, including Coffee and Cigarettes, and played Elvis in the imminently forgettable Walk Hard (which I only mention because it’s ELVIS and I have to believe researching that role influenced his onstage persona).
Whether wielding a guitar or controlling a mixing panel, the artist who holds the reins of his/her career determines the outcome of the journey; hence why Jack White as producer is such a brilliant career move. His credits run the gamut from Loretta Lynn and Jerry Lee Lewis to the Von Bondies and the Dex Romweber Duo (an awesome and totally underrated band), as well as pieces for Conan O’Brien and Stephen Colbert. Not to mention, he produced a fair portion of White Stripes and Raconteurs records. Genius. If you want something done right, do it yourself, which is why he started his own studio. In their own words, “Third Man Records was originally founded by Jack White in Detroit, MI in 2001. In March of 2009 a physical location was established in Nashville, TN. Third Man Records in its current state contains a record store, record label offices, photo studio, dark room and live venue with analog recording booth. Almost all of our records are recorded, printed and pressed in Nashville, TN and produced by Jack White. In this fashion TMR strives to bring a spontaneous and tangible aesthetic back into the record business.”
Did you read that?! Analog recording booth delivering a spontaneous and tangible aesthetic. Now that is what I’m talking about. In all, the totality and execution of his vision is equalled by few, and seeing him live was one of the best experiences of my life. I know that’s a heady statement, and I mean every word of it. His swagger, style and showmanship reek of the King himself, Elvis Presley, but his music is imbued with the authenticity of, say, a Johnny Cash or a Hank Williams. His output could be described as frenetic were it not for the quality of what he has achieved, and, if that weren’t enough to love the man, he opened his own joint to further the common cause of good music in the fight against synthetic sludge.
So thank you, Jack White, you old pied-piper of musical integrity, you; this is a note of appreciation.