Tonight former Verbena frontman Scott Bondy will be playing Schuba's under his birth name A.A. Bondy.
You will find Bondy a changed man since the break up of Verbena in 2003, he no longer wears eyeliner or has bleach blonde hair. He no longer wails on an electric guitar backed by stacks of monitors. Instead A.A. Bondy delicately plucks an acoustic guitar singing about war, America and love with ever the slightest Alabama twang. His solo debut, "American Hearts," was released last August. I consider myself a relative new-comer to the alt-country scene, hell I'm even a relative new-comer to the even broader genre of "folk." Considering my still burgeoning "relationship" with Bondy I've not much more to say than give him a listen and go to his show if you enjoy it.
Download: AA Bondy - "American Hearts"
My introduction to A.A. Bondy is relatively recent. After losing my niche as a new music surveyor (and sort of taking a turn at becoming more of an audio archeologist, looking to the past for artifacts and hidden gems) I took to the streets (and by streets I mean Last.fm) in hopes that it would have some suggestions that I hadn't heard before. I didn't want to charge any of my real life friends with this task because well, I wouldn't want to hold them accountable if what they suggested didn't strike my fancy. The particular person I consulted was one who I do not know personally, nor are we "friends" (he has a strict real friends only policy and I can respect that), but is a "friend of a friend." We have a tendency to check in on each other leaving quips in shoutboxes. One day when I had decided that *no new music strikes my fancy anymore I messaged my acquaintance. In a "particular order" he placed A.A. Bondy at the top of his list. "Discovered six months ago and already my overall top artist - absolutely amazing singer-songwriter stuff from the lead singer of Verbena. His album 'American Hearts' is the first thing I spin almost every single day since my discovery..."
As someone with a very eclectic taste in music, when someone makes a statement like that I find I have to take note of that particular artist, spend some time with them. It's sort of how I felt when I first heard Fleet Foxes, or Great Lake Swimmers. And maybe it's the fact that I'm just now getting into this particular vein of music that allows me to immerse myself in it so, I'm much more porous. Or is it that as I get older, my taste in music matured? My moods and emotions have gotten "more grown up?"
But back to the point at hand, if there ever was one. I've been an audio scrobbler since 2004 when Last.fm was just Audioscrobbler, and I have a fairly disappointing playcount for how long I've been a member. At it's inception it's sole purpose was to track your listenings, top artists and songs. Neat. Then it gradually evolved into the brilliant thing that it is now. It marries social networking with my one true love, music. It's my salvation. I can just sit here at work and think of an artists and jam on their radio all day. If I'm in a particular mood I can type that tag in and let the masses decide what I listen to ("Gloomy" radio is a real trip, "Obama" radio was equally entertaining). Where else can I listen to 1920s music at my convenience? Hm, nowhere.
I enjoy listening to my neighborhood and recommendations, taking notes of artists that particularly strike me, and tag "check" on those I'd really like to do investigate further (conversely banning artists and songs I don't particularly care to hear ever again). If I hear a song I think someone might enjoy I send the recommendation (this feature has gotten better over time, now allowing you to add a message with your recommendation). I "perv" other people's pages to see what they're listening to. Last.fm is one of the few ways I find new music (new to me). Other mediums include random mixes (becoming rare sadly) or mp3s people send to me, seeing opening bands I'd never heard of and being in a bar or someone's flat drinking and listening to music ("What is this, it's good"...sort of harkening to that scene in High Fidelity).
And so I sit here sometimes and wonder why there aren't MORE people on Last.fm, why don't music lovers see this as our greatest resource?
And so tonight while A.A. Bondy sings his songs, I'll think of the kindness of a stranger in
Finland The Netherlands who shared his musical loves with a stranger in Chicago who was looking for their new fix. I hope that you too will take the advice of this stranger and either give A.A. Bondy a chance or explore what Last.fm has to offer if you haven't already.
Download: A.A Bondy - "Vice Rag"
There's that song "Last night a D.J Saved my life," well every day Last.fm saves mine. "And if it wasn’t for the music I don’t know what I’d do, yeah."
*I'm afraid that as I age artists get younger and therefore I can no longer relate to their late teens early twenties woes.