Tuesday, November 25, 2014
The Alfred Packer Memorial String Band Live in Concert Friends for Lunch Private 1984
Today, these guys would be considered hipsters. Lawrence, KS, in 1984 with civil war uniforms and old time attire, I imagine they blended into the weirdness just fine, but likely got noticed around the town by the squares.
The album was recorded live at Ramona Studios in Lawrence, Kansas. Apparently, not just live as in single takes on the tracks, but as in live in a studio in front of an audience you can hear between tracks. I imagine this was done as the band realized they were a "live" band. They play old-timey and bluegrass tunes. Their original tracks are in the same vein and filled with a lot of humor, but I imagine some of the appeal was their performance and stage personas. Unfortunately, despite attempts to recreate that on LP, everything falls kind of flat on the album.
The band's namesake, Alfred Packer, was a convicted cannibal and murder in the United States. Despite his grotesque crimes, history has placed him as the center of jokes. To which the Alfred Packer Memorial String Band play up on their back cover by stating they go through the story of Packer during live shows. The albums name, "Friends for Lunch", is a jab at Packer's cannibalism.
With all the jokes and character costumes, they just come off as the cooler, hipper version of some sort of Ozark old-time band. Granted, the Alfred Packer Memorial String Band is far more entertaining than their Ozark counterparts, the whole package puts them on the same level. Like they're saying, "Here's our free-state take on your hillbilly country." And, admidtly, they do understand the old-time music stems from Irish and Scottish immigrants, whereas that whole thing goes right over the head of any family band from the Ozarks (or even Springfield). Further, I'm assuming their live shows feel much more genuine than some tourist attraction. The band still performs and it appears the "shtick" is a little toned down now-a-days, but they still tell the jokes.
Also interesting, this LP is completely private. No claimed label, no catalog number, just honesty and something the band did to sell to fans at shows. To boot, they put the record on virgin vinyl, that's pretty hip.
Their Song "Alfred Packer" recorded live in 2013