Jeffrey Butzer and the Midwives, The Star Bar 07/02/2009

Yeah, Atlanta’s got the Black Lips, Deerhunter, and a lot of rap right? But this? The Star Bar is hipsters in Atlanta and Jeffrey Butzer is polka to the hipster music scene in Atlanta. I don’t really know what that means, but it’s hard to describe how Butzer fits in here.

Jeffrey Butzer’s got none of the dirty swagger you’d expect from an Atlanta musician, but he’s got more than enough of the balls. Few are playing music like Butzer in this city. With his last album “The Garden of Scissors,” he’s gotten the opportunity to go on an international tour and score music with an acclaimed filmmaker. His songs are undeniably cinematic and with titles like “Theme for a Tailor” and “Valse with Sanni Baumgrtner,” are quiet and masterful in their storytelling. It’s the music you’d hear in your head if you’d been all over Europe and now it’s ten years later and you’re sitting outside the Drunken Unicorn alone smoking a cigarette.

Jeffrey Butzer started out the set solo, playing a few songs on some six finger toy piano blowy thing. A few people around me clapped a polka beat to his music, and most strained their heads to see what the hell he was playing but I think those who’d never heard Butzer were caught a little off-guard. “I’ve never gotten through that song at the Star Bar before,” he said after the third stop and start of the night. I might’ve preferred fewer stops and starts, but it’s better not to be serious with this crowd. I think he learned that by the time he came back out, shoeless, with the “beautiful” Midwives, “all the way from Italy,” supposedly. I still haven’t figured out if that was true.

Jeffrey and the Midwives came out equipped with electric guitars, drum kit, and upright bass, wearing black bandanas around their mouths like bandits from a Jodorowski movie. I think the crowd was stunned into “what the hell is this” before the band even started. But I think that was the idea. The band proceeded to play some kind of Tarantino theme like music with a Yann Tiersen flavor to it. They were, in short, on fire, dancing around on and off the stage. It was punk, but more polished. It was folk, but more rock n’ roll. It was original. I know to say that music “transports” is a cliché, but Butzer really did it, even in the bar-ness of the Star Bar. It’s like you’re in Paris in a theater house watching a silent movie when all of a sudden the smoke parts and you see a beautiful girl across the room. It’s that kind of romance and lonesomeness Jeffrey Butzer is trying to convey. And whadya know, it was still a damn good time.

By Mary Miller

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