Chris Brokaw is one of the most prolific and active artists to call Boston home. Since coming up in the ’90s with the East Coast bands Come and Codeine, he has been extremely busy with his own albums, scores and projects with others (Fflashlights and the New Year come to mind). He is now also gaining exposure for his other talents, including a book of his own color photography that is in the works and a documentary in progress on the famed album-cover artist, Storm Thorgerson.
Brokaw’s life seems open to chance. His current band, Dirtmusic, is a transcontinental collaboration with a pair of musicians that he met while on the road: Chris Eckman (The Walkabouts) and Hugo Race (The True Spirit, The Bad Seeds). Brokaw describes how they got together. "About a year and a half ago [Hugo and I] ran into each other at a truck stop outside of Milan," he says. "And it was kind of, like, I know you." From here, the friends began creating rustic music using open-air instruments, such as acoustic guitar, dobro and harmonium. "I was really tired of going to laptop gigs where I’d watch somebody playing with a laptop and the computer would crash and they’d be like ‘Sorry, that’s the end of the show!’"
Recently, Dirtmusic had the privilege of playing the annual Festival in the Desert in Mali. They performed alongside mostly Malian musicians (music which Brokaw describes as drone-heavy with common threads to American blues musicians such as R.L Burnside and John Lee Hooker). For him, the Mali experience was "mind-expanding." As for how the crowd took in Dirtmusic: "They liked it. They were cool," he says. "The audience was, you know, two-thirds Touaregs. These are nomadic tribesmen. These are guys in full garb, swords, camels … and then texting and so forth."
Chris is also currently playing with Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore in support of Thurston’s Trees Outside the Academy (Ecstatic Peace! 2007) and has also recently recorded an album of pre-WWII blues with Geoff Farina. I wonder out loud if he has ever just wanted to settle into one band from here on out. "I’ve never been at that point. Ever," he says. "You can set goals and you can make plans up to a certain point … but most good rock bands don’t have a really long life to them."
[Chris Brokaw with Wussy and Kahoots at P.A.'s Lounge. 345 Somerville Ave., Union Sq. Somerville. 617.776.1557, Fri. 3.28 8:30pm/18+ $11/21+ $8. paslounge.com]