Slim Bone Head Volt - the spoken word of Vincent D'Onofrio
My first taste of spoken word came by way of Henry Rollins. I had no idea that one guy just talking about his life might be considered art, let alone a way to make a living. I liked Rollins before that, both his solo stuff and when he was with Black Flag, but seeing him do spoken word really blew my mind.
Most people, at least most people my age, would know Vincent D’Onofrio as Private Pyle. In my mind, he died with the character, but I should have recognized that he must be somewhere doing something, and upon seeing a recent photo of him, I realize that I’ve seen him around. He bares little resemblance to Private Pyle today, that is until you enter the world of his alter-ego collaboration Slim Bone Head Volt. It’s then that you start to understand how he got the role.
To steal unapologetically from their website: Slim Bone Head Volt is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream. It’s the fevered oratory of D’Onofrio backed by the musical talent of classically trained composer and multi-instrumentalist Dana Lyn. In a word, it’s mad.
Apparently, Slim Bone Head Volt came into being when Private Pyle was reincarnated as an actor in an off-Broadway play of which Lyn was also a member. Looking, as we all oft do, for a place to empty his head, he began subjecting his cast mates to various journaled diatribes via text message. Lyn, the musician, found them enthralling and sought to breathe more life into them by pairing them with an original score. And we’re damned glad she did.
In Volume Two, Lyn plumbs even greater depths than before with a decidedly more dynamic and deliberate arrangement. She wrote the music and plays violin, viola, and piano; D’Onofrio provides the words and performs the vocals. Joining the fray are Mike McGinnis on clarinet and tenor sax; Peter Hess on alto and baritone sax; Kyle Sanna on guitar and effects; Geoff Kraly on bass; Vinnie Sperrazza on drums; Billy Martin on the marvin (and what, might you ask, is a marvin?); Clara Kennedy on cello.
As a recording, it works, but imagining this live, with a cocktail of craft spirits in hand, borders on magic. It reminds me of Howl and makes me reconsider the notion that art, real art that people make when they aren’t worrying whether anyone will buy it, is dead. Now if I could only find the hepcats in my town who are doing this.
Slim Bone Head Volt, Vol. 2 will be released to the public with a live event on May 4 at Joe's Pub in New York City, to date the only venue Slim Bone has ever played. There simply aren’t many other places in the world that can handle them.
Experience it for yourself at: www.soundcloud.com/slimboneheadvolt