FOREWORD: It’s unfortunate the Paramus Picture Show no longer exists. I didn’t have to drive from Ramsey to Hoboken or Manhattan for entertainment. This 2004 concert featured Loudon Wainwright and his increasingly popular daughter, Martha, doing separate sets. Martha’s folksy ’05 full-length debut was still in the works at this date. She’d follow that up with ‘08s even more compelling I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too.
Satirical entertainer Loudon Wainwright III and offspring Martha Wainwright took to Paramus Picture Show’s stage November 15th for a snug acoustic affair. A witty troubadour inspired by Bob Dylan’s early ‘60s Greenwich Village gigs, patriarch Loudon has taken small acting roles (as M.A.S.H. singing surgeon Captain Calvin Spaldling; Big Fish Alabama mayor; Undeclared college dad; Grounded For Life urologist) while recording over a dozen respectable albums in 35 years.
Live, he blends hilarious topical one-liners and lyrical lampoonery with familial keepsakes and serious enumerations, free to wallow in his own crapulence like a wryly be-smirked Dean Martin, giddily blaming light audience turnout on a non-existent snowstorm after teasingly ridiculing two late patrons. His contorted facial expressions buttress the jive talkin’ glibness and sassy misanthropic requiems put forth so confidently, whether alluding to an obsessive 400 pound fan more enamored with Neil Young and Dylan, his hard-drinking namesake grandfather, or ‘no goody-two-skates’ Tonya Harding. On crazily paradoxical “Hank And Fred,” he recollects visiting Hank Williams grave on the day Mr. Rogers dies. Jersey beatnik/ ex-wife Suzze Roche and daughter Lucy unexpectedly took the stage ‘tween numbers for effacing duo caper “G Chord Song” and, reaching back to Loudon’s self-titled ’70 debut, offspring Martha helped out on a spiffy duet of “School Days.” Taking requests, he then did tragicomedy campfire absurdity “So Damn Happy” (from his most recent ’03 release). Before launching into Marty Robbins’ conventional Country comforter “End Of a Lonely Day,” he chortled ‘bout ’73 semi-hit “Dead Skunk” paying “a lot of child support,” but only gave us one verse of the roadkill parody to hang onto.
As for daughter Martha Wainwright, whom I first caught in ’98 at her initial New York show at defunct St. Mark’s club, Coney Island High, she opened the program with weepy reflections and childlike confessionals spanning three EP’s. Then a blossoming shorthaired late teen, now a sumptuous full-grown knock-out (check the tasteful bare cover of current Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole), melodramatic prince Rufus Wainwright’s voluptuous kid sister delicately fingered hollow-bodied acoustic with caressing restraint, allowing tactful sensitivity to enter each hushed performance. Bending quavering high notes into naked emotional anecdotes, Martha’s sad introspective lamentations faultlessly captured weary heartbroken serenity with utmost frustrated pathos. More dejectedly resolute though less theatrical than Rufus, and just as eloquently plaintive as Canadian singer-songwriter mother, Kate Mc Garrigle, the Brooklyn-based lass embraces tear-stained solemnity with the acute accuracy of an experienced bard. On the above-mentioned EP, elliptical post-Ragtime piano lullaby “How Soon,” dark Cathedral séance “It’s Over,” and strummed cross-gender titular complaint, “Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole” instill longingly shadowy anguish in the listeners’ cranium. True admirers should seek out cherished genealogical aggregation The Mc Garrigle Hour.