Buddy Nutt and His Musical Saw
Pittsburgh hasn't seen many one-man bands in recent years, but it has seen a surge of interest in various forms of "pre-rock" -- artists incorporating bluegrass, ragtime, old-time, cabaret, protest folk and other popular styles that preceded Little Richard. Our latest entry, Buddy Nutt, isn't based solely on the weird-cabaret Brechtian model of Ditty Bops or Dresden Dolls. Nor is he a whiz bluegrass picker or a barbershop-styled balladeer of ukes and banjos, such as local singer Elliott Sussman.
Instead, he's all of these things, plus an excellent musical saw player and an ardent experimentalist. He's got a streak of drones in him, as evidenced by the use of didgeridoo, a loop pedal and the ethereal instrumental track "The Necklace." True to the anarcho-leftist folk-punk scene, he can write a mean critique of global capitalism on songs such as the "Big Box Song," which references the ticky-tacky 1962 Pete Seeger tune but with an update for today's version of suburbanite conformism.
Despite Buddy's quirky instruments -- duck calls, musical glasses and kazoos to occasional sousaphone and trumpet -- the most appealing songs on this debut CD are those with evocative and humorous lyrics. First on that list is "Wilmerding," a love ditty about the joys of living in a SWPA small town, followed by the epic "Saw Playin' Band," a plausible myth about a saw orchestra that met an untimely end.
Though he's obviously still working out his persona (a combo of Tiny Tim and Carrot Top with a bit of Tom Waits and Tom Lehrer), Buddy Nutt's expanding bag of musical tricks is going to entertain anyone with an informed sense of whimsy and the nostalgia for a simpler life, away from cell phones and the Internet. He's the kind of performer whom public radio was intended for -- is anybody listening?
Buddy Nutt CD release with Ukulizzy, Greg Cislon and The Howling Brothers. 9 p.m. Wed., Nov 14. Club Café, 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. $7. 412-431-4950 or www.clubcafelive.com