Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Purgatory Hill

Posted By on Wed, Oct 7, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Pat MacDonald (who officially goes by the spelling "pat mAcdonald") first came to fame in the ’80s as one-half of Timbuk3 (of "The Future’s So Bright" fame), where he served as principal songwriter, and he’s always played music that isn’t exactly just blues or just rock or just whatever form may be lurking between those two genres. The artist plays guitar. He plays harmonica. But perhaps most importantly, he plays a ghostly hybrid of dowel rods and steel strings that he’s named the "Purgatory Hill Harp." It’s based on a cigar-box slide guitar but features its own strange blues sound.

Purgatory Hill is also what he calls his duo with fellow singer and musician MelanieJane (or "melaniejane"), who backs him with tambourine and other percussive instruments. And Purgatory Hill is also the title of MacDonald’s latest release. The album’s 13 songs don’t have a false moment in them, and MacDonald — who’s also penned tunes for artists as diverse as Aerosmith and Cher — is still writing tunes that unveil archetypal human woes and wants.
The track "Highway 42," one of the highlights here, fits snugly in the blues realm, but, interestingly, it also sounds like the American National Anthem at times — only played backward on dusty vinyl in the midst of a thunderstorm. It screams "National Anthem," in fact — but the way it should be heard today via jaded echoes and overtly obscure instrumentation.
In the end, though, it’s hard to understand exactly how two people, three instruments and a stomp-box for MacDonald’s flailing rhythmic left foot can creates such a rousing, unbridled sound. It isn’t "simple" music, but it is certainly a mystery as to how a four-string cigar box guitar can bleed such fresh new sound and potency. Pat MacDonald and the music he creates with MelanieJean as Purgatory Hill is an admirable testament to a little musical truth going a long way.

Pat MacDonald plays Thursday, Oct. 8, at Callahan’s Music Hall, 2105 South Blvd., Auburn Hills; 248-858-9508. With Audra Kubat.

Tags:

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

Aug. 4, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation