Garner Sloan’s Carnival Folk Utopia
Come one, come all to “Vacationland”
By Kevin Curtin,
10:10AM, Tue. May 23, 2017
Inside what resembles a vaudevillian squat party, complete with a juggling accordionist, a mental patient pounding a burning drum kit, and some lanky shadow man honking out trombone solos, there’s Austin’s Garner Sloan – decked out in a ragged tuxedo with grease paint staining his eyes – barking followers toward a supposed paradise.
“The song is about entitled people who believe they have it really bad. Then this guy comes along telling them, ‘There’s a better world out there, follow me, leave all your worries behind,’” explains Sloan of the track behind his new “Vacationland” clip. “Well, he takes them to this hell hole where they soon realize that they had it a lot better in their original lives.
“I wrote it because I was sick and tired of people complaining when they don’t understand how shitty other people have it in this world.”
The “Vacationland” video previews the Coleman-raised Texan’s Liquid Sails and Bobcat Tales, out this week. Follow-up to 2014’s Old Heart, New Road, his sophomore album spans the Americana spectrum with folk, rock, blues, singer-songwriter material, and spaghetti Western sounds injected with big-picture lyricism and inventive arrangements. As a first-time director, Sloan’s equally resourceful behind the camera.
“[‘Vacationland’] was shot at this abandoned strip mall by Highway 183 and MLK Boulevard. We had to sneak in at the middle of the night so we wouldn’t get caught,” says Sloan of the all-night shoot featuring himself and collaborators Amanda Kitchens (accordion), Eddie Dickerson (fiddle), and Derek Hanson (drums). “We got lucky because there was a Burger King right there, but the drive-through was closed. If the drive-through was open, they could have just sat there and seen the whole thing.
“Of course, a few of the Burger King employees came and watched us, and took pictures on their phones.”
Sloan unleashes the new disc Saturday with an album release show at Stay Gold, featuring a final local performance from Greg Loftus & the 10-99s, whose frontman is moving to Massachusetts. Tulsa songwriter John Calvin Abney, a close musical associate of Oklahoma Americana breakout John Moreland, also performs.