Polvo are a critically acclaimed and widely influential rock band from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, that were active during the 1990 before reforming recently for a benefit for WKNC at the Pour Haus. The band was fronted by vocalists-guitarists Ash Bowie and Dave Brylawski. We asked David Brylawski to give us a rundown, in his own words, about the music that inspires him. This is his Secret Playlist.
Jimi Hendrix / If 6 was 9
It’s probably not in my Top Ten Hendrix songs, but I have to say something about Mitch Mitchell, and this is an indicative song of why he was probably the best. About three minutes into the song, Mitch takes over the ‘lead’ in the sparse part, just doing his jazzy-heavy-free thing in the spaces: loose, yet totally propelling it. No one else was doing that in rock, as far as I know, at least, in that way. I got to see him on stage two weeks before he died at the Hendrix tribute show in New York and can’t believe, just like that, he’s gone. Only Billy Cox remains from the whole Experience-Band of Gypsies ‘axis’.
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings / What Have You Done For Me Lately
Sometimes I like to fantasize that I am a member of The Dap Kings, bass guitar in particular. I can delude myself for a while, but in the end, I just do not have the requisite chops. I like the original in a 1980s high school prom kind of way, but Sharon Jones transforms it into something moodier and more assertive.
Om / At Giza
I finally got to see them a couple of times this past summer, and I think they are my favorite band at the moment. This one is 16 minutes of heavy groove and sometimes I have hit repeat after it ends. It is spiritual music. I believe that is the intent, and it certainly conveys this lyrically and sonically.
Charley Patton / Mississippi Bo Weavil Blues
I got the Ted Gioia Delta Blues book for Christmas and just finished the chapter on Patton. Usually on the iPod, Robert Johnson, Son House and Skip James get more play, but while I was reading I was reminded why Patton is the cornerstone’s cornerstone. The iconic picture of him you always see makes him look almost delicate, but he sounds like a grown man. I’ve visited his grave a couple of times near Indianola, too.
Electric Wizard / Torquemada 71
A friend of mine a long time ago took me for a night drive in Chapel Hill during a rare snowfall and let me listen to a four track thing he did with all these delayed arpeggios. Not trying to be all fancy here, but the car lights hit the snow so nicely, the visuals were perfect and everything just fit so well together that I haven’t forgotten it. A similar thing happened with this song not so long ago when I went for a walk on my lunch hour during a particularly rough day at work. It was snowing, and the buildings soon disappeared as the sightlines narrowed. Everything was slow and white and ripe for a stony soundtrack.
Chubby Parker / King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O
Also known as one of the hoary variants of Frog Went A Courtin’, this version is from the Anthology of American Folk Music. Murder and marriage in the ‘holler tree’. I have to add this just to keep it honest regarding what I am really listening to, even when it is not particularly my choice. Let’s just say that my year and a half old son discovered this via my wife, and asks to hear this song over and over, pretty much every day. He’ll ask for ‘Kimo’ when he wakes up, before he goes to bed, and at least a couple times in between. I finally made him a CD burn with it ten times in a row, so I don’t have to keep hitting repeat. It’s not a bad song by any means, and I am thrilled he likes music, but sometimes I just have to tell him ‘No, son, no more Kimo’.
Birds of Avalon / Set You Free
Whenever I see them, or we play with them, I always tell them, ‘You have to play, Set Me Free! That’s my jam!’ Then they look at me and say patiently, ‘Thanks. By the way, it is called Set You Free’. And then they don’t play it. This has happened a couple of times. Still, it’s my jam. Builds and builds, then … set free.
Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band / Mirror Man
People focus on the psychedelic and out-there parts, and rightly so. Kandy Korn is a fulfilling journey there and back in eight minutes. But I think it is overlooked that when they chose to go the blues route, they should be considered one of the most adept blues bands from that, or any, era. They lope and meander somewhere in between loose and locked in, dark and always grooving, touching on authenticity with an excellent feel for the passion sources, but innovative and original. I like to think that if Cream, the Allmans, Canned Heat and the Magic Band were to have played some Delta barrelhouse or on the Southside of Chicago circa 1945, the Magic Band would seem the most relevant and get the response. Just sayin’.