His father was a writer of hard-boiled spy novels, often starring Joe Gall, counterespionage agent extraordinaire. His dad also wrote stuff such as the mystery “The Case of the Shivering Chorus Girls” (written in 10 days), the screenplay for Robert Mitchum’s drive-in masterpiece “Thunder Road” and the pulp fiction of “The Naked Years.” The cover of “Naked Years” is classic: men in bow-ties and white dinner jackets adorned with single red carnations are surrounded by slender women in long, clinging gowns. The cover blurb winked furiously at anyone who might’ve been browsing a bookstore back in 1940 when the book was published: “They groped for excitement in an age of boredom.”
Shawn Phillips’ father was James Atlee Phillips (pen name: Philip Atlee), who moved his family around the world as he typed out his novels.
Phillips grew up in Texas and the South Pacific and Europe, acquiring along the way the sort of appreciation for the music of his homeland that might be best gathered at a distance: an appreciation not focused exclusively on rock music and not focused exclusively on making hits. His love of words, twisted into haunting, offbeat lyrics, might’ve been part of his DNA.
Phillips’ “Moonshine” is a dark, elegiac folk hymn seething with anger and his delicate acoustic guitar picking and stormy strumming. But it’s from his “Collaboration” album released in 1971.
At the time, he was the longhaired pretty boy playing with music styles and the hearts of hippie girls across the land. He was known to his devoted following as someone who could play the hell out of six- and 12-string electric and acoustic guitars; known too for his three-octave singing voice and his own invented style on the sitar (that’s him playing on Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman”).
So where’s Shawn Phillips been all these years?
It’s not as if you’ve been buying his albums and attending his concerts, is it? The man seemed to vanish into an herb-scented cloud that enveloped much of the 1960s and ’70s and their minor FM radio heroes.
But like Johnny Rotten and the King, he might’ve been gone, but he wasn’t entirely forgotten. He’s been out playing music and recording albums sporadically from his home base in South Africa; his latest is the aptly titled “No Category” (released in 2003 and re-released earlier this year). It’s a reworking of some of his classic songs, including the aforementioned “Moonshine.”
The songs suffer at times from a bit of New Age synthesizer-fueled soaring preciousness, but Phillips’ voice still rings true and clear.
If your heart even now goes pitter patter for the 63-year-old with the waist-length hair, or if you just want to be sure that someone survived the 1960s with at least a few brain cells intact, check out what promises to be an eclectic, powerful show.
Th-F June 15-16, 8 p.m., Famous Dave’s BBQ & Blues, 3001 Hennepin Ave. S., $10. 822-990, www.famousdaves.com
The Highpoint Center for Printmaking is showing off the art of Matthew Bindert, Keiko Ishii Eckhardt and Xavier Tavera as part of its celebration of Jerome Emerging Printmakers.
The three Minnesota printmakers were granted nine months of access to Highpoint’s printmaking facilities by the Jerome Foundation.
The artwork is on display at Highpoint Center for Printmaking, 2638 Lyndale Ave. S., until Friday, June 23.
Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 871-1326 or go to www.highpointprintmaking.org for more information.
Linden Hills Live
Starting Thursday, June 15, Linden Hills will be alive with the sound of live music in the parking lot at 43rd and Upton. Each Linden Hills Live event will last from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m.
The June 15 performance begins with a trio of high school students known as The Fizz, playing covers of the Beatles and Dave Matthews as well as some material of their own.
The entertainment also includes an open stage from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. for young people, as well as a dance band ready to set your toes to tapping and your booty to shaking.
For more information, call 929-2291.
Ready, aim, lawyer!
It’s late and you’re thirsty. You’re hungry for a laugh, too. You might even be dying for love. The Brave New Workshop can help with at least two of these appetites with their “Late Night Improv,” every Friday night at 10 and every Saturday at midnight. It’s just a buck to get in, so even if you don’t meet Mr. or Ms. Right there, you won’t be hurting.
On Friday, June 10 and Friday, June 17, the BNW evenings begin with a performance of the company’s latest foray into the foibles of modern life and politics with “See Dick Shoot (and Other Signs of the Apocalypse).” Saturday’s performances of the show are at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Tickets for “See Dick Shoot” are $20-$24. You can get them at the BNW, 2605 Hennepin Ave. S., or you can call 332-6620 or go to
Michael Metzger can be reached at [email protected] and 436-4369.