Conflict or what?

By RUDY CHEEKS  |  April 13, 2011

The "time" in question is the mid-1990s when the band was recording their Voodoo Lounge album: "Mick's biggest fear at the time, as he kept on telling the press, was to be pigeonholed, as he put it, to Exile On Main St. But [producer] Don [Was] was more interested in protecting the legacy of what was good about the Stones; he didn't want to do anything that was below the standard of that stuff from the late '60s and early '70s era. Why did Mick fear Exile? It was too good! That's why. Whenever I heard 'Oh, we don't want to go back and re-create Exile on Main St.,' I thought, I wish you fucking could, pal!"

To quote Smokey Robinson, "I second that emotion."


You've just paid your taxes, you're feeling a little blue, and you need a serious pick-me-up. That's why this Saturday, April 16, you ought to hotfoot it down to John Chan's museum of great American music and Chinese food in downtown Woonsocket for a serious dose of Phoebe Legere and the Ooh La La Coq Tail Quintet featuring Vo Dilun's own Sir George Leonard.

Sir George burned me a CD of the band's March show at Iridium in New York City (the Ooh La La Quintet has a regular monthly gig there) and it is just amazing in its variety of musical styles and spirit of joy. There is a point where Phoebe is singing a beautiful song she wrote for and about her mother and, near the end, she breaks into what (I think) is a traditional Native American spiritual call (part of Phoebe's ancestry is Penobscot) that brought chills. An extraordinary moment.

People who come across Ms. Legere's oeuvre for the first time often think "It's Marilyn Monroe meets Edith Piaf meets Dorothy Parker." (And, oh yeah, she's a magnificent painter as well.) But Phoebe Legere is much, much more than this. Last week I suggested to Phoebe that she was "sui generis" but she didn't agree. In fact I looked up "sui generis" in my dictionary just to see if they had an illustration of Phoebe next to it. They didn't but, hey, I've got an old dictionary. Regardless, here's Phoebe responding in her own words:

"How can I be of my own genre when I'm so much like George? Sir George and I, well, we are folks who don't really fit in: We don't know how to stick a knife in our pal's back to get ahead for instance, or sell our soul for a buck. We tell the truth, we believe in friendship, loyalty and kinship. We're different from lots of the folks in the music industry. Our songs try to see the world as the Dream of Love it really is. We believe in songs: Good Songs . . . We don't hit people over the head with our voices. We love our friends and our fans who come to see us and our voices are kind of gentle — like a velvet caress. Our songs just want to make you smile. That's all. That's success for us."

Phoebe Legere is a magnificent musician who is about much more than music and art. She is a very special human being and her radiance is instantly recognizable when she steps on stage. Before the Chan's gig, you'll get an opportunity to hear Phoebe and Sir George on "The Eggman" Carl Eggert's show on WRIU-FM (90.3) on Friday morning and "The Buddy Cianci Show" on Friday around 3:15 pm. And, if you suspect I'm "in the tank" for Phoebe, you would be exactly right.

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