At Station Four
Side 1 Dummy
If he ever gets heard by the
coffeeshop folkies, who are too busy reading The Progressive and wondering
whatever happened to Woody G., he'll find his audience. Until then, it's sink or swim by
way of plucky banjo, sad-sack vocals and well-intentioned ennui. Brendon Massei's first
mistake seems to have been to call himself Supperbell Roundup, until you realize the
moniker is so strange you'll never forget it.
The sound is stripped down, indie-style, one-man-powered pickin'
folk. The resemblance is dead-pan Beck a la One Foot in the Grave. Missing is any
sort of unique modern-day reflection of the world, central to any good folk song because
it's the words that carry it. The bio says he's been wandering around the country on a
Greyhound since he was 16. He must have spent most of time asleep in the back or reading
Steinbeck. Anyone could have dreamed up these tales of wandering woe without leaving their
living room. At his best, he tells us his worries while he reinvents traditional folk and
makes it his own, in the dialect of a 19-year-old drifter. But those moments are few and
drowned out by plain-Jane traditionalism that's pleasent, if uninspired. Still, you can
hear the potential, and it'll be interesting to see what he comes up with the next time he
steps off the bus.
Printed in The Reader September 30, 1999. Copyright © 1999 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.