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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Vanderslice brings passionate tunes back to town

    John Vanderslice is the type of musician that makes others look lazy in comparison.

    Non-stop touring, writing and recording make up almost all of the 40-year-old musician’s life. Traveling from city to city playing music may seem like a dream come true, but it’s often hectic. This is especially true when trying to remember what exactly happened during several weeks of shows.

    “”Being on tour is incredibly difficult to catalogue and make sense of,”” Vanderslice said.

    Photography is how Vanderslice copes with this issue. He calls his on-the-road photography “”compressed furtive imagery”” of his experiences across the world. Often, he looks back and remembers his numerous experiences through images. Others can reminisce vicariously by viewing the photographs on Vanderslice’s Web site,

    It’s fitting that Vanderslice’s new album, Emerald City, features an intriguing photograph as its cover. Vanderslice is pictured sitting on the ground with an elderly woman in the background. The photo came to be one day when Vanderslice and a friend were driving down a neighborhood and saw the woman sitting outside.

    “”My hero is David Bowie, and I wanted to be on the cover of the record,”” Vanderslice said.

    The title of the album draws its name from the International Zone in Baghdad – also known as the Green Zone. The area is home to many U.S. officials in Iraq and known for its heavy security. Given the title, it’s obvious that Vanderslice has something to say about how America is handling the much-debated Iraq issue.

    “”It’s like a train wreck is happening in front of your screen door,”” Vanderslice said. “”(The album) is almost like a psychotic reaction to 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq.””

    Politics aside, Emerald City is a deep and beautiful record.

    “”Tablespoon of Codeine”” is a standout track, capable of flooding your headphones with dark yet heartfelt sounds. Listeners will be surprised to find that the song was made with all acoustic instruments. The grainy electronic sounds come from Vanderslice’s detail-oriented production techniques.

    “”Kookaburra”” kicks off the record with the strum of an acoustic guitar and Vanderslice’s distinctive voice. Its somber tone is a perfect representation of why Vanderslice is highly respected among artists and music fans alike.

    As with Vanderslice’s shows across the world, he has made an impression in Tucson.

    When Vanderslice first came to the Southwest, he did not care for the desert. The climate was an immense turn-off after growing up and living in Florida. Then, some time later, he “”just kind of got it.””

    After connecting with people at local venues like Club Congress and Plush, Vanderslice now says he enjoys Tucson. It also doesn’t hurt that Tucson was the home of the now-defunct Tape Op Conference, a gathering dedicated to music recording techniques. Vanderslice is widely known as a meticulous craftsman when it comes to recording.

    “”I have a rich and varied idea of Tucson,”” Vanderslice said. “”It’s definitely one of the places if I ever got ran out of San Francisco, that I would really consider (moving to).””

    John Vanderslice plays Sunday night at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. There is a $8 cover charge, and music begins at 9:30. Bowerbirds open the 21-and-over show.

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