Stephin Merritt Tops Le Poisson Rouge Mag Party

Stephin Merritt topped an impressive lineup at Le Poisson Rouge in the West Village and offered a handful of Magnetic Fields’ faves to celebrate the release of the third issue of Radio Silence, a San Francisco based magazine whose stock in trade is the cross-fertilization of authors and musicians. It’s got kind of an artist collective spirit. I spoke with editor and founder Dan Stone together with Stephin Merritt who made an on-camera remark about writing horoscopes that may lead to fruition in future issues of the publication. Merritt, who is a Scrabble nut, has a new book called 101 Two Letter Words. He also confessed to accidentally stealing some of the Scrabble tiles at Bryant Park.  (I’m sure he’s since returned them!)

I’ve always been mad about Tanya Donelly and met her once during the Belly days. It was a treat to speak to her as well and confirm that she still sparkles. She’s promised vinyl and CD pressings of her ongoing Swan Song series of EPs – probably in the Spring – that so far have been available digitally only. After releasing very little new material over the last decade, the first of the series came out in the summer of last year.  She was joined by Rick Moody – most famous for his novel The Ice Storm but a musician who has frequently collaborated with TD over the last decade – on harmony vocals.

I shot video of both Merritt and Donelly’s performances and bumped into a few of the other talented artists populating the joint. James Murphy was a last minute addition to the bill. He joined author Sam Lipsyte for the first-ever reunion of Sam’s old band Dungbeetle. It was honest and loud.

Jim White turned in a strong set. He’ll unleash a new album with the Packway Handle Band, Take It Like A Man, on January 27 via Yep Roc Records. The gentleman Jim is speaking to in the the picture is Matthew Friedberger of Fiery Furnaces fame. Matthew took the stage for a strange interlude with rock scholar Greil Marcus whose latest book is called The History of Rock n’ Roll in Ten Songs.

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