Oliver Hall raps with radical traditionalists Faun Fables.

Originally published in Arthur No. 10 (May 2004)

The airwaves are so saturated with false memories of childhood you can’t walk around without a helmet or you’ll become a legal idiot—I mean the playground loves of heartstruck emo people, the barely fetal fancies of Radiohead stillborn colder than forceps, the general irresistible reflex contractions against dilation of the idios kosmos, not to speak of Michael Jackson, Jon Benet Ramsey and her twin that lived, Britney Spears.

The urge towards the nubile has expressed itself nowhere more strongly than in folk music. Once a deeply weird idiom devoted to the mysteries of hardship, tradition, games, abundance and death, questionable politics have transformed folk music on the one hand into dead pledges of allegiance to corpses of the Stalinist left, on the other into personal confessional songwriting so banal as to make you yearn wholly and bodily for a gruesome fatal mining disaster. But there are a few musicians who have the brains and guts to struggle with the old questions, the old answers; in other words one thing you can do on a Friday night is witness the miraculous music of the Bay Area’s Faun Fables.

Mainly you should do this because Dawn McCarthy, the Faun of Faun Fables, can totally, cruelly possess an audience like no other performer I’ve ever seen except maybe Clevelanders David Thomas and Robert Kidney. Most recently I saw her do this at Spaceland in Los Angeles on Valentine’s Day, but I’d seen her do it—participated in the thrill even—seven or eight times before, in all kinds of situations. In bars throbbing with the old procreant urge, I’ve heard Dawn raise her voice to a pitch and volume no one could ignore, shutting up the whole meat market; at Faun Fables’ recent concert at downtown L. A. rockhole the Smell, she began the show walking through the audience yodeling, winning hearts and minds one by one with voice and presence. Continue reading

TONIGHT, Sept 2: Arthur presents MEN (feat JD from Le Tigre) at Pappy and Harriet's in Pioneertown near Joshua Tree – ALL AGES, $10

Poster by Xavier Schipani

Who are MEN?: “MEN is JD Samson, Michael O’Neill and Ginger Brooks Takahashi—with contributions from Johanna Fateman and Emily Roysdon—a Brooklyn-based band and art/performance collective that focuses on the energy of live performance and radical potential of dance music… ”

MEN on Facebook and myspace

Pappy and Harriet’s is a big all-ages honkytonk located in Pioneertown, two and a half hours’ drive from Los Angeles, next to the town of Yucca Valley. The beautiful Joshua Tree National Park is 20 minutes’ drive away. There is almost zero cel phone reception at Pappy and Harriet’s, which helps you to enjoy where you are. On most nights, you can see the Milky Way.

Tickets are $10: Ticketweb

For inexpensive lodging options—both of these are a short walk from Pappy’s—check out

Motel: Pioneertown Inn


Camping: Pioneertown Camp Corrals

Previously in Arthur Magazine: JD was in Le Tigre, who were interviewed at length by Oliver Hall in Arthur No. 13 (2004), available from The Arthur Store for $6

Chrissie Hynde on Arthur

“I love the magazine [Arthur]. There’s a really cool little shop in Akron, Ohio called Revival, and they stock it, so I took it home one day. And I called [Pretenders publicist] Jim Merlis and I said, ‘OK, I’ve just seen the best magazine in America, so can we do it?’ It’s a really cool magazine, real interesting, diverse, good articles…”

—Chrissie Hynde, as told to Oliver Hall, September 2008

Read Oliver’s interview with Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders from the [online-only] Arthur No. 32