Two powerful forces: Chris Chandler and David Roe appear Oct. 27 at The Redhouse

Two powerful forces
Two road-wizened gurus have joined forces to create one powerful show, a multi-media collage combining storytelling, poetry, video and a wide variety of musical styles, into an evening of compelling theater with themes ripped from the pages of history books, current events and personal reminiscences.
Multi-instrumentalist David Roe trades chops with Chris Chandler, a dynamic street preacher and poet, while video projections illustrating their tales of a world gone mad flash on a screen behind them at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27 at The Redhouse, 201 South West St., Syracuse.
Their 9th Ward Trilogy is a poignant example of this collaboration and collage. No. 1 was written and filmed in 1996 when both gentlemen were living in New Orleans. No. 2 was written the morning the levees broke and utilizes news footage to illustrate the tragedy and triumph of the spirit of New Orleans. No. 3 shows picture after picture of the devastation of the 9th Ward taken 6 months after the flood, during Carnival season. The three pieces use music from former New Orleans resident Tom Waits, Louisiana’s native son, Randy Newman, and the Louis Armstrong classic, “What A Wonderful World” to provide an aural bed and counterpoint for the poems.
Born in Georgia, the son of a Baptist minister, Chris Chandler found his own way of spreading “The Word.” He takes the pulse of America, and then with equal parts acidic irony and utopian idealism, casts his prognosis to audiences at the rate of up to 250 shows per year, from folk festivals and coffeehouses, to clubs and theaters from Vancouver Island, British Columbia to Miami, Florida, from California to the New England coast, from the headwaters to the Mississippi Gulf.
Part preacher, poet, huckster, wandering minstrel and medicine show barker, Chandler casts a spell over an audience. He has recorded collaborations with Peter Yarrow of Peter Paul and Mary, The Austin Lounge Lizards, Dar Williams and many others. He has worked live with Alan Ginsberg, Ani Difranco, Pete Seeger and Mojo Nixon and played on two Lollapalooza tours. Utah Phillips said, “He is the best performance poet I have ever seen.”
Chandler is a tireless activist, performing at the G8 Summit, the Annual School Of The America’s Watch outside Fort Benning Georgia, and the Sept. 23 anti-war demonstrations on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. as well as countless labor picket-lines and union halls.
David Roe has logged millions of touring miles. DR, as he is known from Singapore to Cape Cod, has played in rock, country, blues, wedding, ethnic, folk, jazz and whatever bands that could sustain a musician who really just wanted to play the joyous songs from the American South; ragtime from the Carolina Piedmont, Memphis Jug Band, Delta Blues and traditional jazz from the Big Easy. He accompanies himself on piano, keyboard rig, his vintage Martin ukulele or the Guild guitar he has carried since 1974.
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas 1963, he figured out how to play “The First Noel” on the piano. By 1968 he was also playing guitar, spurred on by his father’s music collection that ranged from Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Louis Prima, Louis Armstrong and Pearl Bailey to Joan Baez, Dave Van Ronk, Dylan, Odetta, Pete Seeger, Leadbelly and Josh White. His childhood was a mixture of deep-rooted family farm life in Upstate New York and a nomadic military life that included stints in Germany, New Jersey, Kansas, Virginia and Hawaii. In the mid-1970s he arrived in New Orleans and began fronting The Halfway to Nowhere Band, formed at the corner of St. Peter and Royal in the French Quarter and forged in an apartment above Tipitina’s.
The 1980s found DR crisscrossing the country with Renaissance Faires and Irish Trad Rock bands, Celtic Stone and Napper Tandy. In the 1990s you could hear him fronting The Royal Rounders traditional jazz band on Royal Street and Jackson Square, and at clubs, music festivals bars and coffeehouses in New Orleans and around the world. DR was the bandleader for The Rounders, a group of former Fats Domino, Dr. John and Earl King sidemen and elder statesmen of New Orleans R&B. DR has a repertoire of about a million tunes from country blues and down home folk to jazz, swing, and even a few popular songs from each decade of the 20th century. DR has written songs, and acted as music director for The Hanlon-Lees ActionTheater, Renaissance faires, conventions, recordings, industrials, and when the muse is in the room. With Patti McKenny he wrote songs and sketches for three seasons of Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.”
Their 2005 release, “American Storyteller,” marks Chandler’s coming of age. Years of relentless touring, honing his craft as a writer, performer, musician, collaborator and artist pay off with the release of this enhanced double disc collection of prose, poems and stories, old and new. The recording is a departure from his previous output, which reflected the raw enthusiasm of his live performances. Recorded over a month just outside the Beltway in Silver Springs, Maryland, the production boasts a who’s who of D.C.-area talent, including vocal cameos from Nick Annis, disappearfear, Emma’s Revolution and Renaissance Faire vocalists Kathryn Falcone and Stephanie Lichtman Price.
David Roe’s orchestrations are a lush mixture of the acoustic - violin, saxophone, cello, cornet, trumpet, accordion, pennywhistle, clarinet, Jew’s Harp; and the electric - Tom Derr’s guitars and Jamnation’s Nick Newlin on organ and Joe Dicey’s rocking guitar solo. Henry Cross proves to be as adept as a bass player as an engineer and Roe provides sweet, simple piano and guitar foundations to create a sonic accompaniment to Chandler’s tales. As in his tale of childhood memories, “Crackerjack Cure,” American Storyteller contains many treasures, including three short films by Chandler, collages, lyrics, links and a secret crackerjack surprise. CDs and DVDs will be available at the show and at CDBABY.com Come prepared to be outraged, informed, and entertained.
Tickets for the performance are $10 and may b e purchased by calling 425-0405; online at theredhouse.org. or at the box office Monday through Friday between noon and 5 p.m.

Rating: 2.3/5 (12 votes cast)

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