Gary Lippman, journalist (The New York Times, The Paris Review, VICE), author, and visual artist on "The Edge of Heaven" Live:Captain Beefheart once asked in a song of his, "Oooooh, whatchoo got me intooooo?" Posing this question to the good Captain’s former guitarist and bandleader Gary Lucas always yields some fascinating answers. One of the past half-century’s most intrepid musical travelers, Lucas has done albums and concerts in more styles than even he probably remembers: heavy metal, Hungarian folk songs, silent movie scores, cartoon themes, and on his terrific record "The Edge Of Heaven", ballads from 1930s Shanghai.
At the City Winery NYC Loft on July 25th, Lucas brought THE EDGE OF HEAVEN to auditory life onstage. Not in its lush recorded form, mind you, but in a compelling stripped down version that relied only on Lucas' supple guitar, the lovely vocals of Feifei Yang, and the multi-instrumentalist accompaniment of Jason Candler. Accompanied by video projections of old Shanghai and explanatory stage patter from the musicians, the show included much of the Heaven material as well as the Lucas / Jeff Buckley chestnut "Grace" and some surprising covers. Let’s just say that you haven’t heard Bob Dylan or the Jefferson Airplane until you’ve heard them thrillingly transmogrified into Mandarin.
Apparently there’s a sequel to the Heaven record on its way. Here’s hoping that it will include a Beefheart song done Shanghai-style. Even if not, it's a safe bet that Lucas will keep on surprising and delighting us.