A Hawk and a Hacksaw - "Portlandtown" Live

A Hawk and a Hacksaw - "Portlandtown" Live

I'd like to someday be able to introduce myself as an accordionist. Maybe hand out those trendy thin glossy business cards with unrelated art on one side and my name on the other. My name, followed by "accordionist" and "professional cultivator of whimsy". I imagine Jeremy Barnes's life works a lot like this.

Mr. Barnes not only gets to call himself an accordionist and a whimsy wizard (whimsard?), he also gets the unique title of having drummed for Jeff Magnum in their legendary band Neutral Milk Hotel. After the indie rock god's quiet recession into the media shadows, Jeremy Barnes went off and formed his own band out of his hometown in Albuquerque, New Mexico (a city whose name I learned to spell five minutes ago). The result was A Hawk and a Hacksaw. Any band with a Shakespearean gets mad points from me. With the extra bonus points for boasting Jeremy Barnes in its lineup, A Hawk and a Hacksaw is doing quite well for itself on my scorecard. They also win for making Eastern European-inspired music that's atmospheric and gorgeous and creepy and sad all at once. If Brian Eno traveled with a gypsy caravan, this kind of music might emerge. 

Check out this live video of A Hawk and a Hacksaw doing my favorite song of theirs, "Portlandtown". It's super sad in the slow historical way books like One Hundred Years of Solitude are sad; like a fable, or a bedtime story. I imagine it playing over the opening credits of some tragic foreign film as the camera follows the protagonist's gaze out the window of a train moving through the Romanian countryside. It's that sort of tune. It holds up pretty well live, too, as A Hawk and a Hacksaw uses a wide variety of organic instruments that really get the chance to breathe on the open stage. The drone-jam at the end reminds me why I love the accordion--and its adorable, talented players.