14 May 2012


by Andy Weddington
Monday, 14 May 2012

"I told her she makes the dorkiest instrument seem cool." Brad Spencer

Usually when writing about an individual the spotlight is on one of our fallen warriors.

Today an exception--a focus on the arts and a different sort of Commentary.

Last week an artist friend, a professional sculptor, for some 40 years and author of today's opening quote, posted a music link on Facebook that caught my eye. Then the music caught my ear. And those wonderfully peculiar sounds have been on my mind since.

Crystal Bright. I've never met her. In fact, I'd not heard of her until last week. What little I now know is what I've read and heard.

Crystal Bright is a big talent--songwriter, singer, musician, and performer. She's a storyteller. College educated--in music. And she has plenty of stage experience playing with assorted genres of bands. To borrow from Brad Spencer, she does play what some think of as dorky instruments--accordion, saw, keyboards, adunga, concertina, and bomba. Not a musician, the last three I had to look up. She probably plays others. I wonder if she's familiar with the didgeridoo? But what's cool about dorky instruments is that someone who knows how to play them makes them cool.

Crystal Bright is not a copycat. She's an artist. She's an inventor--she creates. And her creations are a little quirky. Her sound is as unique and distinctive as anything I've heard. And likely anything you've ever heard. It feels a bit electric. And yet it's difficult to describe.

When first hearing a couple of tunes I thought of Terry Thomas and Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis and Peter Falk and the movies 'The Great Race' and 'Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines' made in the 60s. After listening more I thought of kaleidoscopes and soaring hot air balloons and carnival fun houses and confusing halls of mirrors and freak shows and a mad scientist's lab with test tubes and beakers and yards of twisting and looping transparent tubing filled with colorful fluids bubbling, gurgling, popping, hissing, overflowing, and smoking. How many musicians, with mere sound, have brought such vivid imagery to you?

The only thing missing? Smells--still nothing fitting comes to mind. I'm thinking about it.

Like good paintings, Crystal Bright's compositions strike me as complex but simple but complex. Don't ask me to explain, just listen. The sounds marvelous and some lyrics defy logic, surely purposely so, and explanation but that's good; desired in great art.

Her voice beautiful and haunting--instruments complement perfectly. There's a sense of abstractness and mystery and room for interpretation. Good paintings carry those necessary qualities. So do good songs. Good paintings, exploiting shape and color, grab and hold the viewer--typically not knowing why. Crystal Bright's music exploits shape and color and grabs and holds the listener--and they may not know why; exactly.

Back to the carnival analogy for a moment, her music better than background music--a ride by itself.

After hearing something so novel and illogically logical one is inclined to ask, "Why didn't I think of that?" The answer is simple, you can't. Crystal Bright is a natural--one of a kind. Copycats, among the highest forms of flattery, are not far away.

Living in the heart of the Southern California high desert, an area known for the arts--painters, sculptors, actors, and musicians, et al., and often referred to as the 'New Bohemia,' it struck me 'Crystal Bright and The Silver Hands' would be a hit--especially at the historic and eclectic 'Pappy & Harriets' in Pioneertown, California. A SRO crowd, a safe bet. And, for that matter, the same anywhere else they may play in Southern California. Certainly.

Who knows, though based in Greensboro, North Carolina, maybe fame and demand will bring her roadshow west. Soon would be nice.

I posted today for a reason--fair warning. If you live in North Carolina--she's playing in Raleigh  Friday night and in High Point Saturday afternoon. Check the schedule for details and other approaching dates and venues. Make an effort to support this exceptional artist.

And finally...

The other odd thing that struck when first seeing and hearing Crystal Bright was the color red. I can't explain that, either. A true rich red. In painter's speak, a Naphthol Red Light--to complement her and her sound. I mentioned it to Brad in a note. He replied she likes red, and wears it often. Artists, regardless of discipline, ofttimes "see" similarly; different than everyone else.

But enough with written words. Time for some fun. Caution--the music contagious!

'Watch' and 'Listen'. At the 'Watch' button for 'Drowned Out' and 'The Misplaced Zygote: Down the Wrong Chimney' YouTubes, and 'Listen' button for 'Especially Your Mother'--for starters.

Post Script

Brad Spencer, sculptor: http://www.bradspencersculptor.com/Site/Home.html And he's a talented musician--sometimes sitting in on the mandolin as a Silver Hand.

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