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The last time Ken Stringfellow remembers playing in Athens was at Tasty World with the Posies in 2005. Since then, the jack of all trades has been on hyper-drive. He’s a producer, composer, writer, gun for hire… the list goes on. The next time he’ll take a break is sometime in August. Then it’s off to work again.
Stringfellow is probably best known around these parts for his stint with R.E.M. but take even a slight glance at his resume and you’ll see his varied talents at work. The Disciplines, The Posies, Big Star, Snow Patrol, Minus 5, they’re all there. But take all of that and put it away.
As he’ll tell you, Stringfellow’s Danzig in the Moonlight has been a long time coming. A gorgeous and varied study in modern indie pop, the album is pure Stringfellow. There’s gentle melodies, soul and blues, duets and more. Danzig is as varied and interesting as Stringfellow’s career.
“I do stuff that is totally distinct. I’m very dialed into indie rock today. I’m not rehashing the past or being nostalgic. I’m enjoying what’s happening in music now and I want to reflect that.”
One does wonder how the man balances all his projects and still manage to keep material for himself. It’s a simple matter of focus, Stringfellow muses.
“When I’m working with someone, that’s where I’m at. I will pick up a guitar at the end of the day, even for just fifteen minutes or so and have something to present for the next morning. It sounds pretentious and unlikely but I can do it. When I write music, I will write you something.”
“I have so many pent up feelings and experiences and emotions, there’s so many pent up things floating around in our subconscious, I could write you something right there. We talk about music and emotional release but there’s always stuff that builds up. Emotion doesn’t really have a release valve. It’s more of a slow decay. When you have strong emotion, you’ve got something to write about.”
All of that pent up emotion comes flowing forth in his solo work but it really shines onstage. With Athens being the last stop on his agenda before SXSW, Stringfellow could look back on his tour with some pride and excitement for how well it’s gone. In every city, he’s gotten a local female singer to duet with him on “Doesn’t it Remind You of Something.” Often, he’s never even met the performer and may not even get a soundcheck with her.
“As long as the mood is going, it’s good. If it (the duet) goes all wrong, no one dies. The singers have all been great and it’s been a good time.”
Athens’ featured songstress is a familiar face to any and all who’ve been around town for the past few years. Let’s just say she’s got a voice for all seasons, eh? As for Ken Stringfellow, he’s got plenty of activities in the works after heading back to Texas for SXSW. Perhaps we’ll get the privilege of seeing him again soon.