Incredible String Band | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Incredible String Band

by

comment

Just a couple years after the Beatles raised eyebrows with a single sitar, this Scottish combo made two of the most fearlessly and promiscuously eclectic folk albums of all time. The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion (1967) and The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter (1968) burst at the seams with far-flung influences: Balkan, Indian, and North African rhythms and tonalities from a trunkful of drums, flutes, and stringed instruments; Bahamian hymns, Dylanesque rants, ragtime, and Delta blues; country-and-western laments, English madrigals, and good old-fashioned music-hall schmaltz; and of course the Celtic jigs and ballads that provide the fabric for the band's songs. For a brief moment they were the toast of the counterculture--they played at Woodstock, and the Stones even paid tribute on Their Satanic Majesties Request. But the band broke up in 1974, and soon they were being held up as an example of everything that'd been wrong with hippies: even their good stuff was pretty fey, if not outright goofy, and the lyrics were often naive or preachy. Were it not for the reverence afforded the group by the current generation of outsider folkies (Devendra Banhart has been particularly vocal), it might still be hard to admit to liking the Incredible String Band. All three original members--Clive Palmer, Robin Williamson, and Mike Heron--reunited to tour the UK in 2000, but these days only Palmer and Heron are still aboard. Williamson's playful mysticism is conspicuously absent on the new Nebulous Nearnesses (Amoeba), a live-in-the-studio collection of vintage material, but Heron's audibly delighted to be singing his old songs. Those old songs will be the main course at this show; Palmer will also sing a couple tunes from his new album, All Roads Lead to Land (Communion). Joanna Newsom and Josephine Foster & the Supposed open. Wednesday 20, 8 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, 773-252-6179, $15. All ages.

Add a comment