Monday, December 15, 2008

INTO THE NARCOTIC BEYOND WITH VIRGINIA DARE

VIRGINIA DARE were an early obsession of mine, from the time I stumbled upon them playing their first-EP record release party in 1993 in San Francisco for at least another near-decade. I don’t believe they’ve actually officially called it quits, either, and I suspect before this decade’s up I’ll get to see them play again. In ’93 they were a truly welcome anomaly – twangy, late-night-radio countrified pop, with an autoharp & a spastic guitar held together with baling wire and rubber bands. Just when you thought it was safe to get comfortable with Mary O'Neil’s sweet, lilting croon, you realized that these songs were actually (sometimes) about wrist-slitting, excessive drinking and all manner of bad behavior. Their current MySpace page calls it “songs for runaways, alcoholics and deep sleepers”. I'm on board with that description.

Singer/autoharpist O’Neil and doppelganger/husband Brad Johnson were the core of the band, and often they took their very-DIY, unplanned act on stage with just the two of them. The first time I saw them play, however, they had Paula Frazier from TARNATION and FRIGHTWIG on bass and Michelle Cernuto from WEENIE ROAST/SF SEALS on drums, and they totally sucked me in. Subsequent shows were often drumless and sometimes even bass-less. Virginia Dare were more of an idea centered around Mary & Brad anyway, and the amplification, never too loud to begin with, was brought down to the whisper level at times in order to propel the druggy, dreamy pop songs they made their stock in trade.

That “Six Songs” EP they were playing the time I fell upon them is still my favorite, very closely followed by the 1994 follow-up EP “Gone Again”. I’d like to provide you were a sampling from each, and then ask that you visit the band’s site and their MySpace to learn more.

Play Virginia Dare – “Girl King”


Download VIRGINIA DARE – “Girl King” (from 1993 “Six Songs” EP)
Download VIRGINIA DARE – “Liberation Day” (from 1994 “Gone Again” EP)

1 comment:

Danny Plotnick said...

They're back. They did a free Full Moon show at Red Hill last month and are playing in Feb. with McCabe & Mrs. Miller.