Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
Just in the last month, Jimmy Hughes took himself out of Athens, Georgia, moving to the city of brotherly love with his wife. It's a move that's unlikely to affect his personal tides and compositions, for once the zaniness and uncorked atmosphere of one of the weirdest cities in America has reached you on a personal or impersonal level, there's not extracting it back out. The drugs are inside and pounding on the door for them to open up, this is the time of repossession, isn't going to do any good. The drugs have already acted or even if there are no drugs to be seen, the sweet air down there, where quirkiness has it's own flavor and it's own zip code, is fat with the acting ingredients needed to get that job done when people aren't asking for it or paying attention to their inhalations.
All of the inhibitions get completely stripped away from people, thrown onto a big pile and lit up into a big, three-story bonfire. Those newly minus the inhibitions might even like to stand there watching the flames, there at the city limits, shivering and naked, but with a whole lot of nutty stuff to look forward to. Hughes, who splits his time as one of the members of the legendary Elephant 6 collective band Elf Power, is the lead singer and songwriter for Folklore, a band that also shares members with Dark Meat, and the yarns that he spins are reminiscent of those that a babbling old man at the end of his days would produce over an October night, by a fire and surrounded by dense darkness or a chilled fog. They'd come out of a man who's lived to tell so much that there's no stopping the tales that he's collected with those eyes and an awareness that's been better.
These aren't stories that get typically spoken by whippersnappers, more worried about their own problems and the potential mating habits that they will or will not be in control of as they trudge through a self-satisfying life. Hughes created a persona - a man who might or might not be a ghost of a man - named H.W. Beaverman to further the narrative of one of the group's latest albums. Beaverman, the name, could be some legionnaire or millionaire, or another aire, living on a shady street with majestically spanning and hanging oak trees, one of the row of lucky stiffs who capitalized on the assembly line or the logging boom back over the second-to-last turn of the century. Or he could just be some folded over, bespectacled and fuzzy old man with nervous hands and a deceptive memory.
He's got the trifles down and he's got the worry rashes appearing all over his body as the future keeps getting further away from the present and that only means that the disastrous "way things are" or "way things will be" is making him uncomfortable. Beaverman believes in UFOs and probably believes that the corners of his eyes and what's seen out of them are the most believable visions and aberrations. They were there and they are there. There are times, in the welcoming and off-kilter rock and roll that was the stuff of college radio in the 80s, when the elaborate storylines (more post-apocalyptic novel or a novelization of the radical post-apocalypse) have the odd dimensions of something that Stephen King might have written into Needful Things to set the mood, but the horror isn't there. These scenes of getting to the oldest of ages, of rebirth and returning back to when youth wasn't pushing us out of the nest. Much of what Hughes brings to light is a response to the "what does it all mean and what's my place in the whole she-bang?" question. If there's no quick answer, maybe that means going back and retracing the steps or doing it all again from the first day to see if anything new shakes loose. When you go about doing something like that - maybe like the fictional Beaverman - it could very well create just the right amount of chaos, a Georgian kind of chaos, which is just everyone's own personal folklore.