Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Josh Niles at Big Light, Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville's Steelism is the work of busy, busy, busy pedal steel player Spencer Cullum Jr. and guitarist Jeremy Fetzer and the instrumental songs that they've placed on its album, "The Intoxicating Sounds Of Pedal Steel And Guitar," are intriguing pieces of music that are full of curious side shows and intricate tomfoolery. There is fine attention for detail and still the compositions and their execution is that of experts. While listening to these swirling westerns, feel free to read through this choice passage from Ray Bradbury's excellent short story, "To The Chicago Abyss." They might appreciate the context.
"But the old man was only entranced with the vegetables on the chipped plate before him. Twenty-six, no, twenty-eight peas! He counted the impossible sum! He bent to the incredible vegetables like a man praying over his quietest beads. Twenty-eight glorious green peas, plus a few graphs of half-raw spaghetti announcing that today business was fair. But under the line of pasta, the cracked line of the plate showed where business for years was more than terrible. The old man hovered counting above the food like a great and inexplicable buzzard crazily fallen and roosting in this cold apartment, watched by his Samaritan hosts until at last he said, "These twenty-eight peas remind me of a film I saw as a child. A comedian - do you know the word? - A funny man met a lunatic in a midnight house in this film and…"
"The husband and wife laughed quietly.
"No, that's not the joke yet, sorry," the old man apologized. "The lunatic sat the comedian down to an empty table, no knives, no forks, no food. 'Dinner is served!' he cried. Afraid of murder, the comedian fell in with the make-believe. 'Great!' he cried, pretending to chew steak, vegetables, dessert. He bit nothings. 'Fine!' he swallowed air. 'Wonderful!' Eh…you may laugh now."
"But the husband and wife, grown still, only looked at their sparsely strewn plates.
"The old man shook his head and went on. "The comedian, thinking to impress the madman, exclaimed, 'And these spiced brandy peaches! Superb!' 'Peaches?' screamed the madman, drawing a gun. 'I served no peaches! You must be insane!' And shot the comedian in the behind!"