Spoleto always has spectacular artists and performers but only a rare handful have ever found me so excited that I was jumping up and down in my living room . The last time was when Monkey Journey to the West made Spoleto home for its ONLY American performance and before that it was Laurie Anderson’s birthday performance of Songs and Stories from Moby Dick.
This year perhaps has me the most ecstatic ever- New York’s Dean and Britta’s performance of Andy Warhol’s 13 Most Beautiful. They’ve traveled around the world with this show and it’s also been released on dvd. It’s a very personal show for me and I am looking forward to it. I received the DVD two years ago as a birthday present, traveled to Duke University last year to see a performance, and I am not ashamed to admit that over the years I’ve stalked Dean Wareham’s previous band Luna traveling by plane and car to catch them live whenever I could. In highschool I was a huge fan of Dean’s band from his Harvard University days- Galaxie 500. I also chose a Luna song for my first dance at my wedding. Needless to say I am so stoked I can see one of my favorite performers without having to drive/fly 2+ hours to do so.
If you are worried the show will be boring or short- don’t be. The husband and wife duo with their small band play in front of a screen which plays the 13 screen tests they selected (featuring Edie Sedgwick, Lou Reed, Dennis Hopper and more). They tell interesting stories and share facts about the people in those screen tests in between the song performances. Of course the song list features covers by Bob Dylan and The Velvet Underground but also some originals written specifically for the screen tests by Dean and Britta. The screen tests themselves are entertaining as well- they are a few minutes of film by Andy Warhol focusing on people’s faces while they do nothing, try to do nothing, or do something so commonplace like chewing gum it makes for interesting viewing. Lou Reed drinks a Coca Cola, Ann Buchanan sheds one beautifully perfect tear, Jane Holzer brushes her teeth, and Dennis Hopper stares up, down and seemingly tries to not crack a smile. And once they finish the screen tests, they’ve been known to break into a few of their own songs, some Galaxie 500 and Luna tunes as well.
I must add to that Dean Wareham wrote a hilarious autobiography about his experience in the music world and touring- Black Postcards. It is simultaneously hilarious, heart breaking and thought provoking and it seems very honest – he seemed very concerned about telling the truth as he knows it, sometimes making himself look very much the villain in the process. Britta Phillips was the singing voice of the 80’s cartoon Jem (yes, Jem and the Holograms) and recently she voiced the mom on Cartoon Networks Moral Oral. You can also catch her in Satisfaction (that 80’s Justine Bateman/Julia Roberts/Liam Neeson movie that was actually filmed in Charleston). Britta was the one in the movie that could actually sing.
One thing I love about Dean and Britta is their accessibility to fans. You can probably catch them after the show in the lobby talking to anyone who approaches them. I could gush on forever why you should see their performance and seek out all their cds but I must get back to work. Hope to see you at one of their performances!