If you happen to be in the Providence area tonight (really, all of RI pretty much counts as “the Providence area”), you’re in for a treat, ’cause X frontman JOHN DOE will be playing tiny rock n’ roll hole-in-the-wall Jake’s. John is always great, and the show is something like five bucks. How can you go wrong?! (Answer: you can’t.)
Doe’s songs know their way around heartbreak, but never seem to lose their wicked sense of humor. Thanks to the wry immediacy of his plain-spoken, supple voice, his songs have a bittersweet warmth that slips mercurially past your defenses with the subtle sting of aged whiskey.
He’s touring for his latest album, A Year In the Wilderness (Yep Roc). The first single, “The Golden State,” is a duet with Kathleen Edwards. Harmonizing always brings out the best in John’s voice —just listen to the gorgeous interplay here. Sublime.
(Added bonus: I’ve also posted a fantastic duet of “White Girl” with Kristin Hersh, another of my favorite performers, recorded during the Exile Follies tour a few years back.)
John graciously answered a few Providence-centric questions from the road.
I was kinda surprised to see that you’re playing at Jake’s for the second time this year! What’s your connection to the place, and to Providence in general?
It just so happens to be between NYC & Boston. The Living Room is no more —or at least they don’t like me any more.
Do you have fond memories of filming A Matter of Degrees here? It’s become infamous for being the film that JFK Jr. was in, but I’m quite fond of it, partly because of all the great cameos (yourself included), but also for the all-too rare chance to see Providence on the big screen.
Apart from John K Jr. I thought it was Tom Sizemore’s big debut.
(True! Ker-azy. EVERYONE is in that flick. I’m still partial to the John Doe and B52s cameos.
I’ll try and refrain from going off on a WT Morgan tangent that WE NEED TO SEE A DELUXE, BAND-SANCTIONED EDITION of The Unheard Music ! Um, did I say that out loud?! —Andrea)
Jeez, man, when are you NOT touring?! It’s amazing, because every time I see you you’re nothing short of amazing. I’m in awe of the boundless energy and sheer bonhomie you project on stage. How do you do it? Yoga? Method acting? A portrait in the attic?
I run three to four miles at least every other day. I drink beer, wine sometimes a little whisky almost every night. I’m sure I’ll pay soon. And I have a very short short term memory.
What’s your favorite type of place to play? Little, big, somewhere in-between? (When I lived in SF my absolute favorite place to see X, the Knitters, or you solo, was the Great American Music Hall. Such a fantastic vibe to that place!)
My new favorite city is Pittsburgh, and the best new venue I’ve played is Jammin’ Java in Vienna, VA.
Which of your TV or film characters would you be curious to revisit, however many years down the road? Step in to their shoes for a day, as it were?
My favorite semi recent character was the shit-heel rock star on Law & Order. And the movie I wish I could make over the most is Roadside Prophets.
(Agreed. I love that movie, and the oddball duo played by Doe and Ad-Rock have a poignant chemistry together. I’d love to find out what happened to them years later… Paging Abbe Wool! —Andrea)
John Doe and Kathleen Edwards, “The Golden State” (from A Year In the Wilderness)
John Doe and Kristin Hersh, “White Girl” (Live at the Exile Follies, 9.24.02)
JOHN DOE PHOTO BY AUTUMN DE WILDE