My pal, renowned artist (and sometimes songwriter) Jack Early is opening an exhibit at Mulier-Mulier gallery in Belgium on Christmas Eve and I REALLY wish it was closer so I could see –AND HEAR– it.
Visually, Jack’s work touches on so much of the same things I identify with and appreciate as a former young, gay southern boy. We were both in NYC in the 80s, when he and his partner Rob Pruitt made work together as Pruitt & Early. Jack stopped making art for a while, but now he’s back. I interviewed him about his last show for The Wow Report.
This new exhibit, Rainbow, layouts out the colors of the spectrum in drops and spheres and there are some beautiful and mimimalist paintings and collages that are a bit of a departure from Jack’s imagery of late, but they manage to stay within his wheelhouse and stake out some new territory at the same time.
Then, there’s this white room in the installation with two big blue paint blobs, and the one on the floor is embedded with a speaker (below) where you can hear Jack’s new musical while you imagine your own visuals. I’ll let him tell you how that came to be…
“I watched Cinderella with Leslie Ann Warren, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and The Wizard of Oz enough times on television as a kid to realize one day I would write my own fairytale musical. And in my mid 30’s (in the late 90s) I had already written a few songs for my band Happy Jack.
I say write but I don’t play anything, I was a front guy who threw out ideas, lyrics, and melodies. It suited me but Happy Jack broke up. I had this musical in my head and Lee Vincent from the band and I had remained friends so I called Lee. I guess it sounds like a fairytale the way we originally recorded Rainbow. I hummed it out to him in bits and Lee and his magic guitar would spin it into gold. I asked my friends to sing for the characters and mixed it on an old six track Lou Reed had thrown out. I thought it was pretty great but the goal was just to put it on a CD and pass it out to friends.”
So, how did it end up in a gallery in Belgium?
“Last year Mulier-Mulier gallery asked me to have a show with them. I had been thinking about the fairytale just sitting in a draw and so I decided to pull it out and build a whole show around it with paintings and sculpture. I wanted to polish up the music too. Alec Spiegelman had beautifully produced and engineered my last recording Jack Early’s Life Story In Just Under 20 Minutes and we spent the year re-recording Rainbow. Some friends reprised their original roles.
I feel like I put a cherry on top when Lady Bunny agreed to perform for the role of the witch. Belgium just seemed like the place for a fairytale show.”
Yes, Lady Bunny is the witch! (Type-casting?) Well, I can claim a teeny tiny bit of credit for that. I introduced them, but the idea to use her was Jack’s, of course, and the performance is pure Bunion. And the rest is HERstory.
Here, for the first time ever is the World Premiere of Lady Bunny as the witch singing Hey, Ho in Jack Early’s Rainbow: A Folk Rock Musical.
Jack Early, Rainbow runs December 24, 2017 – March 6, 2018 at MULIER MULIER GALLERY, Belgium. More info here.
Jasmin Sian, Geoff Bentz, Trenton McBeth, Brian Sidney Bembridge,
Yoko Miyazaki, and Alec Spiegelman for sharing their support and their moonshine.
Rainbow – A Folk Rock Musical.
Story and Concept by Jack Early.
Lyrics by Jack Early with music by Jack Early and Lee Vincent.
Produced & arranged by Alec Spiegelman engineered by
Robin Macmillan & Alec Spiegelman mixed & edited by Alec Spiegelman
Featuring the vocal talents of:
Aki Berman & Lady Bunny – “The Witch”
Alec Spiegelman – pump organ, flutes, clarinets, saxophones,
guitar, electric bass, synthesizer, harmonica, melodica, piano
Ian McLellan Davis – guitars, electric bass
Akie Bermiss – piano, organ
Dave Cole – drum set
Jefferson Hamer – guitars
Renata Zeiguer – violin, guitar
Wes Corbett – banjo
Eliot Krimsky – piano
Robin MacMillan – percussion