The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
At first glance Bill Mallonee looks like an amalgamation of several singer-songwriter stereotypes.
On stage at The Dame Wednesday night, the harmonica echoed Dylan, the hat looked pure Tom Waits, and trotting out songs about Jack Kerouac and Vincent Van Gogh seemed ripped from the troubadour playbook.
But the reason Mallonee’s career has endured for decades is his perspectives are unique, and soon after he starts playing, singing with that distinctive head shudder and blowing into his harmonica, the stereotypes float away in the pleasure of hearing an individual artist who sings every song like it was refined deep in his soul.
Wednesday’s show was supposed to be with his full band, Vigilantes of Love, but, “that wasn’t in the cards this time,” Mallonee said as he took the stage joined by his wife, singer and keyboardist Muriah Rose.
The duo performed a little under an hour of songs dating back to Vigilantes’ Blister Soul and as recent as the opening number, From Day One, which Mallonee said was so new, “the ink isn’t dry on it.”
It was a beautiful song about life that showed Mallonee still meditates on spiritual things, which has made him and Vigilantes figures on the Christian music scene in the same way U2 is. His music both affirms faith and challenges organized religion, such as the Van Gogh song, VOL’s Skin, sung from the perspective of the artists’ brother Theo, who Mallonee explained was once a church social worker until church officials determined his dressing like his clients was unbecoming a man of his position.
While the Mallonee that could rock out was largely missing along with his band, his sublime side was on full display with Muriah, who joined him on numerous numbers including the highly appropriate closer, Resplendent.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich