Friday, April 17, 2009

American national treasure

I received an e-mail today from singer-songwriter Bill Mallonee of Athens, Georgia requesting that fans assist him with a little publicity. This is my bit. (I would have posted some of his music sooner or later anyway.)

Bill Mallonee is the founder, frontman, and one constant element of the Vigilantes of Love. He's also worked as a solo artist and dabbled with a quasi-separate band called Victory Garden; released major-label records and independent offerings. I've got a number of his records, and the name and label on the recording doesn't seem to matter too much: even as VoL, there are two distinct sides to his sound (one is British Invasion, the other with its roots in American folk); and his writing and voice guide whichever assemblage of musicians he happens to be recording or performing with. He's been compared to Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Bruce Springsteen, as well as other musicians out of Athens (notably R.E.M.).

[Bill Mallonee (solo) covering Neil Young's "Out on the Weekend" (Harvest, 1971).]

I've seen Bill/VoL at several venues, including the 40 Watt and Allen's in Athens as well as the now-defunct 7th Street Loft here in Lincoln. He/they never disappoint.

[Latest incarnation of VoL playing "Blister Soul" from the 1995 album of the same name.]

[Video, directed by Marc Pilvinsky, for "Resplendent" from the 2000 album Audible Sigh. Best song about the Dust Bowl since Woody Guthrie, with backing vocals by Emmylou Harris.]

Much has been made of Bill's status as a "Christian artist". Rest assured you're not likely to find him on the mass-market "Christian music" compilations sold on cable TV. His approach is more subtle than that, and his appeal broader. I don't subscribe to Roman Catholicism any more than I do Rastafarianism or any other branch of Christianity, but I can enjoy music informed by spirituality whether it's Bill Mallonee or Bob Marley.

[Bill, accompanied by bassist Jacob Bradley, performing "Life on Other Planets". Studio version appeared on Bill's solo records Fetal Position (2002) and Perfumed Letter (2003).]

Enjoy the videos here, and if you want to hear more, check out the websites below.

And if you want to drag Bill in your direction, you can contact him through

Once again, doing my bit for the arts and decreased productivity...

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