“See my lonely life unfold. I see it every day.” -Alice Cooper
Sally Barry is a person. Renditions is collaborative group project by Sally Barry, Mark Brunke, and Ruth Davidson. Three classical music dropouts who found punk, noise, prog, and metal more to their liking. Sally sings, Mark and Ruth play nylon string guitars, Ruth plays cello. This is the Americana of death, blood, cancer, and drugs. This is a rendition to another kind of country music. This is the rest of us, littering a quiet despair. This is a song cycle about America, today.
Sally Barry provides the vocals, bringing Mark Brunke’s words to life with the rage and experience of punk rock’s frontline. Mark is the lyricist, culling songs from as far back as 1984, but primarily from 1995-1999. He provides the rhythm or foundation guitar setting for the words.
Ruth Davidson brings a deep experience in progressive music and crust punk, with layering harmonic brilliance over Mark’s pop and classical tendencies, illustrating with six-string nuance and complexity. Listen to Ruth loosen and obliterate the foundations of guitar rock with their twin guitar approach on the outro to “Come In Electronica.” That’s all Ruth. Their acoustic genius takes “Green Elizabeth,” “American Pop,” and “Radio Down” to unexpected heights. Sally brings it all together, allowing the words to breathe, putting everything in service of the song. These are Art Songs. They are primarily through-composed, with Mark’s arrangements drawn mainly from progressive rock, but without the solos, owing as much to the music of the Ars Nova and Bach as to the poetic minimalism of D. Boon.
Sally is music school dropout who fell into the NYC punk scene in the mid-80s. After drumming with the seminal scum rock band The Honeymoon Killers and time as the road drummer for Bewitched, Sally found herself in STP (Hey, Bastard!) on the West Coast leg of a tour that changed American music with Nirvana and Sonic Youth in 1990. Nobody’s sure what happened to those bands. The music here more closely resembles her work on the tune “Sunrise” from Mark Lanegan’s seminal Whiskey For The Holy Ghost. Nobody’s sure what happened to him either. In 1997, she released a cassette-only solo project from Mark Brunke, The Diets –The Coming Electronica. Many of these songs stem from that time.
Sally: Mark was fishing though old songs the last five or six years and decided to put some down in this project. I am familiar with many of the songs, but not others. Half of them tell the story of our relationship back in the 1990s, its high and lows, and the falling apart after Mark’s mom died of a heroin overdose in 1997, the same year she beat breast cancer.
Mark: After my mother beat cancer, she lost her benefits, and ended up homeless and though she’d been clean for over a year, went back to using to manage pain from undiagnosed internal bleeding. My relationship with Sally didn’t survive that, but the songs are still around. The rest are what we all live: love, loss, marriages, divorces, birth, disease physical and mental, death real and spiritual, everything else that happened in the intervening twenty years if you get to live that long. This is the underlying story.
Sally Barry – Lead Vocals
Mark Brunke _ Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Ruth Davidson – Harmony and Lead Guitar, Cello