Twenty five years ago an album was released that defined a new chapter in the musical career of the already legendary performer. When Bob Mould released Workbook in 1989, it marked the first solo endeavor for the musician since he left his previous project as guitarist/vocalist for the Minnesota based band, Husker Du.
With its mostly acoustic sound, Workbook leaned heavily toward the more mellow side of Mould’s musical repertoire, and it also revealed a side of the musician that had not taken shape prior. The album was deeply embraced by Mould’s hardcore fan base and even generated some mainstream and critical acclaim when the album’s best known single, “See a Little Light” placed high on the Billboard charts.
Workbook is arguably one of Bob Mould’s best and most beloved projects and judging by the packed crowd at the 9:30 Club for last Wednesday’s performance, Mould is welcome in DC anytime, no matter what he plays.
When he took the stage it was obvious that Mould’s relationship was his audience is one of respect and admiration. The crowd was a little more polite than usual as all stood with eyes wide and eager ears. The throng clapped solidly and steadily and shouted out things like “Way to go, Bob.” In between songs, Mould told jokes and short narratives in a very intimate way, almost as if he were talking to close friends. As far as live shows go, you’ll not get a more intimate experience than you will Bob Mould.
Chris Brokaw had the honor of being the evening’s opening act. I have to admit I was looking forward to his performance even more than seeing Mould play Workbook.
For those of you who are not familiar with Brokaw, his guitar work, drumming, vocals, and musicianship is associated with such acts as Codeine, Pullman, The New Year, Steve Wynn, and Thurston Moore. My personal favorite project of his is the Massachusetts-based band Come which included one of the most incredible, yet overlooked blues singers of our time, Thalia Zedek. With Come, Brokaw took on the role of lead guitar and shared songwriting duties with Zedek, and though Come’s inception and break-up occurred within the 1990s, their uniquely haunting and heavy sound is still unsurpassed today and I cannot think of a more perfect ensemble of musicians for the genre.
For his opening slot at the 9:30 Club, Brokaw played an intricate yet quiet set packed full of his signature guitar work and vocals. I really enjoyed his talent as always and I especially liked that he included the song “Recidivist” found on Come’s final and most well-arranged album, Gently Down the Stream into his set.