For starters, the Lubbock Mafia don, who’s long called Santa Fe, N.M., home, produced two huge theatre pieces. He shies away from the term multimedia, but both Dugout and Ghost Ship Rodez involved theatre, film, music, and painting.
“I write all the time,” explains the composer, “but visual art, theatre, and music are all pretty much one thing for me. Focusing on one can bring a whole clutch of the others. So I don’t really make a lot of designations between the different groups. It’s just one thing. I just took my time putting these songs together while I was doing other things.”
Although his lyrics can be dense, Allen’s songs tend toward the cinematic, an outgrowth of his work in the visual arts. The harrowing, starkly drawn “Emergency Human Blood Courier” constitutes one such example on Bottom of the World.
“When you have a song, you’re taking specific images and editing them in a concise way,” he relates. “It’s similar to a movie. They just take much more time in editing and in the process. For me, songs are very visual, in the sense that they’re like little movies.
“Speaking of movies, I just found out that ‘Emergency Human Blood Courier’ ends a new Irish movie about the women who have been murdered in Juárez, Mexico.”
At the Cactus, Allen will be joined by most of the players from his new disc: son Bukka Allen, cellist Brian Standefer, and fiddler Richard Bowden. Along with co-producer Lloyd Maines, they give Bottom of the World haunted overtones.
“It’s always a collaboration. I’ve worked with these guys so long that sound just happens.” – Jim Caligiuri