Stereo types get rise out of 'Curtain'
January 23, 2004 Erie Times News - Weekend
Former Classy 100 owner Don Kelly explained it as a fact of life.
By age 35, he said, people's musical tastes shift.
Goodbye, Metallica. Hello, Celine Dion.
OK, it's not quite like that. Some go straight to Zamfir, while
others stay edgy. They want to stay current.
But it's oh so hard. As Wall Street Journal critic Jim Fusilli
pointed out recently, the industry caters to youth. Older listeners
must be content with Rod Stewart remaking classics or endless tours
by icons who recycle hits.
Most radio formats for 35 and-up listeners favor oldies and classic
rock, not new music. So artists like the Shins or Thrills - who
might appeal to adult listeners - get little exposure.
It's even harder to coax older fans into sampling new music played
live. But those looking for a wake-up call might enjoy Erie's Tom
Curtain, which shares a bill with Joseph Allen Popp's Weirdo Theatre
on Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Erie Art Museum Annex.
This arty duo -with veteran Erie rocker Rick DiBello and vocalist/dancer
Alethea Bodine - casts a spell with their dreamy, beguiling style.
Di-Bello conceived Tom Curtain when the Roadhouse Theatre asked
him to record "Time" - a Tom Waits' song - for its 2001
production of Tennessee Williams' "Vieux Carre". The
idea put a picture in his head. What might a jazz band in a David
Lynch film sound like?
"That'd be Torn Curtain," DiBello explained.
After the Roadhouse show, DiBello knew he'd struck something cool
when patrons clamored for copies of "Time." Torn Curtain
began playing gigs around town.
On stage, DiBello plays lead guitar to his own prerecorded rhythm
tracks, while Bodine sings and shimmies. She's a classically trained
dancer, so she doesn't shake it like a Polaroid picture. She moves
in more seductive, bewitching ways.
Tom Curtain plays DiBello originals and radically reworks standards,
such as "My Funny Valentine" and "Round Midnight." They
give 'em trip-hop beats and languid grooves, like Britain's Portishead.
On Saturday, the duo will crank up the retro-hip quotient. They'll
play a set of spy songs, including James Bond themes - all of them
presumably shaken not stirred. You'll hear "Goldfinger," "Diamonds
Are Forever," "You Only Live Twice" and more.
What's cooler than that? How about a Torn Curtain spy-song CD?
It's coming soon.
Torn Curtain doesn't play out often. They're too subtle for the
bar scene, though occasional gigs at Scotty's go over well. They
may be too esoteric for the mainstream. But those who feel like
dipping their toes into new musical waters might come away replenished.
At the very least, it's a good way to keep Zamfir at bay.