Richard Buckner 

Vino’s, May 6

When I interviewed Richard Buckner last week, I asked if he was bringing a band for his show last week at Vino's, and he answered, half-defensively, “I'm coming alone, but I'm bringing five guitars!”

He had three, but with nine effects pedals, an EBow* and a voice as weird and rich and harrowing as anything off the Harry Smith Anthology, he had no trouble commanding the room. In fact, the small-ish crowd — maybe 50 or so — sat rapt throughout. Bar chatter got shushed down before it really started. A lot of folks around me sat on the edges of their seats (yep, seats at Vino's), utterly transfixed.

It wasn't hard to get lost in the music. Once Buckner, tall and thicker than years past, with neck-length long hair, took his chair onstage and picked up a guitar, he didn't speak or pause until he finished his set. When needed, to ease a transition, he'd play a quick instrumental passage. Before he switched guitars, he'd capture a run or some Ebowed noise in a loop and, like magic, sustain the music hands free.

He played a little of all of his eight albums, rarely mimicking their record treatment. He opened with a gnarled but tender version of “Blue and Wonder,” one of his finest and probably most beloved, that snuffed out just about all the song's brightness and hope, made it more of a lament. Songs from “The Hill,” his album inspired by Edgar Lee Masters' “Spoon River Anthology” (a book of small town epitaphs as poetry), sounded even more like you'd think making sense of life from death should — dark and dissonant.

That said, and even though he spent two hours mostly with eyes downcast, just slits showing, it didn't strike me as a particularly dour affair. At the risk of wading into hyperbole, “transcendent” seems a better fit. I'm having a hard time remembering a performer, with such vocal and instrumental command, who so obviously believed in his words and their power.

*A magical, battery-operated handheld device that generates an electromagnetic field that moves strings. Peter Buck used one a lot on “Monster.”



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Most Shared

Latest in Music Reviews

  • Cher in North Little Rock

    March 28, Verizon Arena
    • Apr 3, 2014
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers at Verizon

    The Red Hot Chili Peppers took a slightly different musical path to its May induction into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame than most of their fellow honorees.
    • Oct 31, 2012
  • Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Sept. 30

    The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra opened its season Saturday night with a return visit by the 28-year-old violin virtuoso Augustin Hadelich, who had appeared with the orchestra in the Beethoven concerto two years ago.
    • Oct 3, 2012
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Searching for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Searching for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park

A venture to this state park is on the must-do list for many, the park being the only spot in North America where you can dig for diamonds and other gemstones and keep your finds.

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation