After taking in The Art of Cordials last week we got to see live music on back-to-back nights, checking out East Nashville resident Jimmy Wallace over at The Basement on Thursday and then driving down the street from our house to Foobar on Friday night to hear Paleface.
The friendly confines of The Basement were filled up by the time Jimmy Wallace took to the stage last Thursday night. With a costume befitting Snoopy’s legendary dogfights with the Red Baron and a vocal delivery that’s part Cajun blues singer, part Randy Newman, the man of the hour would have been notable even if his musicianship were simply average. But with a preternatural skill on the keyboard (like Peanuts’ Schroeder he was a child piano prodigy) and a sly lyrical sense of humor, he brought the characters we’ve known all our lives through seasonal TV specials and comic strips to new life. It was clear the entire time that Wallace loves what he does for a living, which made him even more fun to watch.
He might have been billed as a solo act, but the full band behind Jimmy Wallace really made his songs pop. “Not That” Pat Buchanan sizzled on guitar, while the rhythm section of Tim Marks on bass and Nick Buda on drums kept the proceedings anchored firmly. And like David Berman wrote, background singers all come in threes – in this case it was Bonnie Bishop, Lauren Lucas and Rachel Loy punctuating Wallace’s vocals. Together they ventured all across the wide stylistic map charted by the songs from Workin For Peanuts, from Motown to rock to Prince to Vince Guaraldi, and never once sounded it was anywhere they hadn’t been before. (In Nashville, even our backing bands are world-class.)
On the surface, Paleface’s gig at Foobar last Friday couldn’t have been more different than Jimmy Wallace’s show at The Basement. Foot-stomping indie-folk was the sound of the hour, and instead of a full band there were just PF on guitar and Mo on drums. But don’t let the math fool you: in terms of energy, the two shows were cut from the same cloth. The couple, who make up Paleface, spend more time on the road than they do at their home in North Carolina so there’s no doubting their enthusiasm for what they do. And why shouldn’t they love it? With his goofy confidence and lyrical playfulness and her firecracker drumming style and vocal energy, they’re a dynamic unit on the stage. By the end of the show PF had danced through the crowd while playing his guitar and had them responding to his calls from the stage. It wasn’t the duo’s first trip to Nashville, but it was the first time they’ve ventured over to play East Nashville – and we hope it won’t be their last.
You can catch Jimmy Wallace on New Year’s Eve with his band 18 South as they play the Station Inn here in Nashville. As for Paleface, they won’t be swinging through town again for a while, but you can check here to see if your holiday trip coincides with their winter touring schedule.