sxswm: Gary Lucas' Bite

The guitar scholar scores in church, and talks Beefheart today

sxswm: Gary Lucas' Bite
by John Anderson

For those looking for a quick pick-me-up the Tuesday of SXSW week, Gary Lucas scoring the Spanish language version of Dracula in a church was sort of the antithesis. It was meditation. The acclaimed guitarist has worked with Captain Beefheart, Jeff Buckley, and Lou Reed. He's an academic, familiar with the secret hallways of his instrument.

Lucas scored The Golem at SXSW a few years back, as many in the crowd acknowledged. "I remember a bunch of people left in the middle to go see Iggy Pop," he cracked. Still,soundtracking comes naturally, as it's tied the nuances of plot and mood. Dressed appropriately in black, Lucas blended into the scenery, becoming part of the black and white film, which was pulled together at night on the same sets as Tod Browning's 1931 Dracula. The Spanish crew would watch the dailies from the film, and try to "out do" the Americans. Director George Melford, Lucas explained, "improved" on Browning's film, especially in casting Carlos Villarías, who throughout the movie seems more comfortable with black humor than Lugosi. The camera lingering on his goofy/scary faces at times rivals Mel Brooks.

Lucas added flamenco flourishes here and there, cuing us to impending danger. Elsewhere, soft tremors of psychedelic guitar lulled us into a dreamlike state, where you had permission to nod off. (Right? Damn that church air.)

Lucas' NYC band, Gods & Monsters, has a new album out in May, The Ordeal of Civility, produced by Jerry Harrison. But it sure was nice to see solo Lucas, possessor of so many rock & roll secrets, share a few last night. Listen to more today at 12:30pm, Austin Convention Center, Room 12AB, when he sits on a panel about friend and mentor Captain Beefheart.

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