Feb 192015

Dave Cloud beard 15022008

Nashville punk/lounge legend, Gospel of Power singer, actor in Gummo and Trash Humpers, Murakami of pickup artists, force of nature, and king of karaoke night at the Springwater Supper Club Dave Cloud passed away last night due to complications from cancer. Sources close to him say he passed calmly surrounded by friends and family. He was 58 years old.

Dave appeared on two episodes of Theatre Intangible, two of our best: the episode that got us banned permanently from WRVU and the Fourth Annual Halloween Extravaganza. Whenever I ran into Dave after that final WRVU episode, he told me he felt terrible and guilty about getting my show banned. And then I would reassure him that it was not his fault. He was very careful to avoid the FCC dirty words and to replace anything objectionable with surrealistic placeholders. The objectionable material came from the callers, who we monitored (unsatisfactorily, apparently) with a three-second delay. I would then tell Dave that were it not for Theatre Intangible getting banned from WRVU, I would never have started the website and podcast version. I guess I owe all that to Dave and everyone involved with the episode Get It On with Dave Cloud.

Then he would ask me to buy him a beer, and I would. Dave was a drinker and a chain-smoker. While we were taping Get It On, he would excuse himself for “quick” smoke breaks that ended up lasting 20 minutes. The other performers just kept improvising music until Dave returned. When it was time to record the Halloween Extravaganza, I had learned my lesson. At this point, I was recording the episodes in my basement, and when Dave asked to take a smoke break, I told him he could smoke while performing. Before long, other performers were lighting up, and my house smelled like cigarette smoke for two weeks. But the recording is better for it.

I didn’t know Dave very well, and I don’t feel qualified to write a eulogy for him. We only had a handful of conversations at the Springwater and Betty’s, and, of course, we had the live tapings. One thing that I do know is that Dave possessed a rare magnetism that made his performances (and pickup lines, rants, boasts) hypnotic. And that has me thinking about the parallels between Dave and other outsider musicians like Daniel Johnston, Frank Sidebottom, and Wesley Willis. Magnetism such as Dave’s often comes with depression and mental illness, and I wonder if we enabled Dave with our attention and admiration. We were always willing to buy him a beer in exchange for a song. Jon Ronson writes about the magnetism / mental illness duality beautifully in Frank: The True Story That Inspired the Movie. In an interview with the The Wire about his time performing with the Frank Sidebottom Oh Blimey Big Band, Ronson writes,

… it just interested me so much, that kind of beautiful naïveté when you’re young and see the tortured artist as being fabulous, and then when you’re faced with the reality of being with a tortured person and it’s not at all fabulous. It’s not fabulous to the person and it’s not fabulous to the people around the person. I’ve known that from my own life, and also this brilliant documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston talks about that too, about how awful it is to be Daniel Johnston’s parents, the hand they’ve been dealt. It’s heartbreaking, and there’s nothing romanticizing about mental illness in that documentary.

Dave lived with his parents for most of his adult life, and right now I’m thinking about them. I am sorry for their loss. I will never know Dave, in all his unvarnished glory, the way they did. I will never know the struggles Dave and his family faced. I only know the Dave behind the microphone. But that is enough.

Apr 022014

Cher Von

I first met Cher Von in 2006 at a Cafe Coco open mic. At the age of 18, she was performing solo on guitar and vocals under the nom de plume Lola.* I distinctly remember being floored. This person was obviously going to “make it.”

But it took me some time to put my finger on why. It wasn’t just her unique singing style, beautiful and original as it was. Nor was it her highly original songwriting. These things are major parts of her appeal, incredibly rare gifts, but not her greatest.

A year or so later, Cher Von was standing next to me, Cody Bottoms, and a handful of other people inside the Vanderbilt college radio station WRVU. We were recording an all-vocal edition of Theater Intangible called Turn the Page. Throughout the show, Cher Von kept singing these intensely beautiful melodies. And that’s when it occurred to me.

Cher Von’s greatest gift is her ability to write fantastic melodies. Not melodies as in radio country hooks. Melodies as in the Beethoven and Debussy variety.

This insight was bolstered by every T.I. improv she did (especially this CJ Boyd artist showcase) and every performance I saw of her. It’s a running thread (another being her penchant for weirdness, something we share) in all her work. Whether as A Parade, I Am Pazuzu, Lola Koene, or Cher Von, the moniker she uses for her new EP Klik Klak, this artist knows how to write evocative melody.

With Klik Klak (now available for purchase on BandCamp), she continues to mature as an artist. Cher Von weaves pulsing chants over cut up field recordings, scratches, scrapes, splashes, cheek flicks, chimes, percussive hits on household items, and the occasional traditional instrument. The more I hear these songs, the more I see their brilliance. Perhaps the only thing standing between Cher Von and stardom is a renowned producer to help take the production value to the next level. Merrill Garbus, are you listening?

Cher Von moved from Nashville to Louisville, Kentucky a few years ago. Now she’s making waves on the Louisville music scene. But we’re fortunate to have her back for the 2014 Circuit Benders’ Ball. Her 2010 performance with Tim Kaiser and other benders was one of the highlights of the original Ball. On Saturday, April 12th at Fort Houston, she’ll conduct an improv featuring a few guest benders. On Friday, April 11th at Cafe Coco, she’ll perform songs from her new album.

Don’t miss your chance to see this one-of-a-kind talent.

* At the time she had a band called A Parade, also featuring Cody Bottoms, a talented performer in his own right who, as the host and engineer at Cafe Coco’s open mic, was at the center of a creative catalyst.

Oct 062011


Well, that was a nice surprise! The Nashville Scene Best of Nashville edition was released today, and we won something!

Tony Youngblood’s Theatre Intangible has the dubious honor of being the target of VSC’s first shot across WRVU’s bow. Thanks to an allegedly indecent show featuring Dave Cloud, the experimental noise program was dropped from the airwaves and its hosts banned from the station. Since then, Theater Intangible has found new life online with episodes featuring live local experimental artists like Hobbledeions and, in their very special 50th episode, a “hostage situation” inside WRVU itself. LANCE CONZETT

If this is your first time visiting us, welcome! I’ll be writing a “TI starter pack” episode list later in the day. Here are two podcasts mentioned in the article: Get It On With Dave Cloud and Return to WRVU: 50th Podcast Spectacular.

Thanks to The Scene, all of the show participants over the last four years, our partners, and most especially, to our listeners! Seriously this wouldn’t have happened without the talent and enthusiasm of the Nashville music community.

Congratulations to galleries OPEN LOT, GALLERY F, and ZEITGEIST who have all partnered with us in the past. They won the following:






And congrats to my climbing partner Kristen Skruber for making the best dang bagels in town!