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Black Francis + Reid Paley play Buffalo on Thursday

Reid Paley and Black Francis play Mohawk Place on Thursday night.

blog by Ben Kirst  • 

Black Francis, aka Frank Black, aka Charles Thompson, may arguably be the man responsible for the music you listen to, the clothes you wear and who you marry. 

A lot of you probably know who he is—Black Francis is, of course, the stage name of Charles Thompson, the gentleman who formed The Pixies in Boston in 1986.  And The Pixies, of course, were a wildly influential band that inspired a generation of young musicians whose aural tastes fell well outside the mainstream—one of these gentlemen being a certain Kurt Cobain of Aberdeen, Washington. 

You know what happened next: Cobain formed Nirvana, Nirvana wiped away the established musical culture and opened the door for dozens of other bands to break into the public consciousness and the hallmarks of alternative culture, from flannel shirts and big weird beards to green living and social tolerance, became firmly embedded in the day-to-day American experience.  You think all of those things would have happened organically if Nirvana hadn’t kicked down the door with “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” a song that Cobain admitted came about when “...I was basically trying to rip off the Pixies….When I heard the Pixies for the first time, I connected with that band so heavily that I should have been in that band—or at least a Pixies cover band?”  Meh, possibly.  Pop culture was lame as hell in 1991, to be sure.  But it definitely helped.

Anyhow: Black Francis is currently collaborating with longtime friend Reid Paley, a singer / songwriter of note from Brooklyn.  The band is playing a select few shows in support of their new record, “Paley and Francis,” which Paley described thusly:

“This album was recorded in two relatively short days this past September 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. All first takes.

“We wrote the music for the songs in Paley’s apartment in Brooklyn over three afternoons when Francis was in New York for a three day run at Joe’s Pub. After which we each took half of the songs to finish off with lyrics, and Francis went off to meet what he sometimes likes to call ‘the old band’ for another tour.

“A few days later, we were recording at Jon Tiven’s studio in Nashville. We each sang lead on the songs we wrote lyrics for and sang backup on the others. We worked fast. Francis had Pixies shows each evening, so we had a curfew. Paley recalls finishing the lyrics to one tune literally a minute before cutting the vocal. The two of us on guitars, with legendary Muscle Shoals players David Hood on bass and Spooner Oldham on piano. Damn, those guys are good.

“Hope you dig the vibe.”

Paley and Francis will play Mohawk Place (47 E. Mohawk St., Buffalo) at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 8.  Tickets are $23, according to Ticketmaster.  You can also pick up your ducats at Spiral Scratch Records, which is far preferable to supporting Ticketmaster.  Enjoy the show.

TAGGED: concerts, frank black, indie rock, mohawk place, reid paley

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