Ten Cent Wings

MUSIC MONDAY: Jonatha Brooke

I’ve been trying (without success) to see Jonatha Brooke perform live for almost twenty years.

Seriously. Twenty years, folks.

I first discovered her when her band The Story released “The Angel In The House.” It was great guitar pop, with songs like “When Two and Two are Five.”

The Story. 

 

Brooke went on her own soon after and released a long string of great albums, but my favorite for a long time was “Ten Cent Wings.” It’s one of those perfect albums from beginning to end.

Like so many of my favorites – Aimee Mann, Alison Moyet, Kirsty MacColl (to name just three) – Brooke wrote great material and had a beautiful voice, but was woefully mishandled by record companies. In Brooke’s case, she was on tour for “Ten Cent Wings” when MCA dropped her from the label.

(Of course, these fantastic artists are all intelligent, fascinating women, and not pop tartlets who can be mass packaged and merchandized…but that’s another post for another day.)

Missing Jonatha Brooke’s concerts has become sort of a comical thing for me now.

I missed her several times around the Ten Cent Wings era. She played at a Borders near me and I had to work at the competition (B&N) across the street the night she played. I missed other shows because of work. Or they were sold out. There must have been at least a half dozen show in the early 2000’s I missed.

“Crumbs” from “Ten Cent Wings.” 

 

I started to look for her shows not just where I lived, but wherever she played. She played in my hometown of Pittsburgh, but I missed that show, too (working again, couldn’t travel).

It was always the wrong place, at the wrong time.

Brooke has had quite the journey the last few years. She cared for her mother, who passed away in 2012, through the final stages of dementia. And she wrote an amazing album and play, “My Mother Has 4 Noses,” about the experience.

The play had a reading in Pittsburgh last summer. (Need I tell you that I missed it?)

It’s in New York now, in an acclaimed run that’s getting people talking about Brooke’s great music and fresh narrative voice – not to mention the emotional, heart-rending story at its core.

The song “Time” from “4 Noses.” 

 

Rumor has it “4 Noses” will appear in other theaters across the country.

If it comes to Chicago, I’m going to be as optimistic as a Cubs fan in April that I can break the curse and finally see Jonatha Brooke on stage!

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