Thursday, April 16, 2015

EARWORM: Keith Munslow Tiny Destroyer

I need to warn you in advance that I am prejudiced towards Keith Munslow.  I have been listening to him play for nearly 25 years, in a ton of different musical incarnations, and I've loved all of it.  So if you are looking for an unbiased review, you should look elsewhere.  My opinion of his work is biased by experience and knowledge.

I first met Keith in 1989.  I was stage managing a vaudeville festival in Maine, and Big Nazo Puppets was playing the festival, and the closing night party was a fundraiser being held in a giant mansion.  Keith was playing piano for the puppets, and we all ended up at 3 am playing ping pong and eating pizza in the attic of this huge house.

A couple of year's later, I was performing with Big Nazo, and spending time with Keith in rehearsal, in performance, and then at very late night diners, eating breakfast at 3 am and trading stories about gigs.  Keith also taught me what a jazz monster Fred Rogers was.

I have also enjoyed Keith's work as a composer for the Perishable Theatre's original musicals that toured around the state; his work with the Neo 90's Dance Band, the house band for AS-220; his barrel-house blues bands The Smoking Jackets (and later the Superchief Trio);  and a variety of other gigs, bands, and other musical configurations and conflagrations.   And Keith is also an excellent visual artist.

When I was the director of Bright Night Providence, I hired Keith nearly every year to perform, both his kid's performances, and his blues band.  He's that good.

So without even listening to his new cd  Tiny Destroyer, I can tell you with confidence that it's really good and you should get it.

After listening to it, I think you should run out and get it right away.  I will wait.

Keith's work over the years has matured, and his abilities to blend the comic and the sweet have deepened with time.  I think it's a combination of practice and good mentoring (Keith has played and worked with Bill Harley for a number of years, and you can hear Bill's influence in Keith's storytelling.)

Luc and Keith (photo from Providence Journal article)
I also think that Keith's work has benefited from the arrival of his own Tiny Destroyer, 2-year-old Luc (or Prince Luc if you are so inclined)  Keith's work has always been funny and original, but I think Luc has changed his understanding of kids (and parents) in a way that makes most of his funny songs hit home a little harder, and his more soulful songs have a little something something.

My favorite song on the album is probably "Dad Is Takin' A Nap"  (click to hear a sample) which lays down a funk groove while warning kids not to wake the big man, and that perhaps they should consider practicing their mime routines.  It's got Munslow's blues feeling, with some funk and rap thrown in for good measure, and it's a song that will leave you humming it for months.  I also really like "Coffee Breath" which exposes a major flaw in java-juicing adults.  And also "Intelligent Clam" which tells the story of a marvelous mollusk.  And the title song "Tiny Destroyer" an anthem to the destructive power of toddlers.

Basically I like all the songs, and I think you will too. (But I'm biased by experience.)

Here's where you can get the CD on Amazon.

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