Julie Doiron and Phil Elverum,touring about
Who is Phil Elverm?
We may never know. One thing we do know is Phil Elverum is the biggest Julie Doiron fan in the United States. He made me listen to her solo recordings back in a 1999 and my eyes popped out of my head. Phil loved her earlier combo Eric's Trip and continued loving through the solo work of both Julie and her former band mate Rick White, and the follow-up combos Elevators to Hell and Elevators Through. Shit, as they say, be dope.
Back in 2008 Julie Doiron toured through the NW with fellow Canadian artist Fred Squire. The previous summer I had played shows with her all over the U.S.A. and across Canada. We'd discussed the idea of Julie recording a single for at Dub Narcotic Studio in Olympia; now was the chance. She arranged to pause her itinerary and spend a few days in Washington. I telephoned Phil Elverum to let him know as it seemed like the possibility of Phil recording with Julie was too good to let slip away. Phil cleared his schedule; when the smoke cleared the plan was Julie spending several days recording with Phil in Anacortes, with one afternoon reserved to make a single at Dub Narcotic Studio. I am not complaining, we got our single, "Heavy Snow" [IPU120], and posterity was deeded a minor classic, Lost Wisdom (P.W. Elverum & Sun) which features Mount Eerie with Julie Doiron and Fred Squire.
Fast forward to July, 2019. Karl Blau was touring about the Salish Sea for seven nights, including events on Lopez, Orcas, Guemmes and Fidalgo Islands. I joined Karl for five of these events and Phil Elverum played two. Phil had just finished recording a second album with Julie Doiron at his mountain top Orcas Island house, and he was really psyched on the recordings and the songs. He played a few of the songs from the new Julie recording session at the shows with Karl and uh huh I was in complete agreement. Though the two previous Mount Eerie albums, A Crow Looked at Me (P.W. Elverum & Sun) and Now Only (P.W. Elverum & Sun), had been really well received by both fans and critics, the music within was a bit harrowing, an intense listening experience focused on the words and stories of the times and places explored. The new songs were just that, a set of songs; somebody opened the curtains, let some light into the room. The subject matter may have been as serious but the mood much more playful and the audience response much more head bobbin' and toe tappin'. This set of Mount Eerie (with Julie Doiron) songs was released later in the year as Lost Wisdom Pt. 2 (P.W. Elverum & Sun) - - - another classic.
Phil played the July 2019 shows as The Microphones instead of Mount Eerie. He decided to briefly revive the What-the-Heck Festival, attempting to duplicate the one-day event that started the series in 2002. At this first What-the-Heck Festival Phil had played under his previous moniker, The Microphones rather than his current nom de plume Mount Eerie, so he decided to do the same. But wait - - - there's more. Somehow because of this or somewhere in between he came up with a new song idea that felt more like The Microphones - - - a lengthy, talking blues piece Phil roughly improvised each night, a "story so far" of that enigmatic fellow, Phil Elverum. Again, not too severe on himself, some lighthearted bum stumbling about from then til now. This too was recorded and released on his P.W. Elverum & Sun record label, the three sided Microphones in 2020 LP. Yet another classic - - - how does he do it?
The latest in this on-going saga is Microphones in 2020 Silent Version, a hard bound book featuring 761 snapshots from the Phil Elverum saga. A hefty tome, eye candy for the initiated Elverum fan. And now you know as much as the rest of us about that fellow dressed in wool with the white snow trousers, Phil Elverum.
The book Microphones in 2020 Silent Version and other P.W. Elverum & Sun releases are available now from the K Mail Order Dept.