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The Love That Won't Shut Up
August 17, 2012 3:03 PM   Subscribe

On Halloween night 1992, a skinny, gravel-voiced man in a blue dress and horn-rim glasses took the stage at a tiny Atlanta dive bar/strip club along with his band, The Opal Foxx Quartet (which was not a four-piece; around a dozen people crowded the dark, low-ceilinged space). This would be their final show, and it's a barn-burner.

The then-recent death of Quartet member Deacon Lunchbox, a redneck poet and percussion enthusiast, in an auto accident which also killed two members of the band The Jody Grind, led the band to call it quits. Almost immediately some of the members, including Benjamin (who dropped the "Opal Foxx" name but kept his love of cheap dresses) formed a new band under the name Smoke, who would continue the Opal Foxx Quartet's local success until Benjamin's death in 1999. The documentary Benjamin Smoke would try to tell the strange story of this strange man and his music the following year.

A few more Opal Foxx and Smoke vids: 1 2 3
posted by BoringPostcards (20 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
My partner and I are sitting in the audience not 15 feet from the stage during the Halloween show in the first link- not surprising, since we used to go to all of the Halloween and New Year's Eve shows held at the Clermont Lounge in the 90s, but boy was I beside myself to see the show online, and with such decent sound and video quality.
posted by BoringPostcards at 3:05 PM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


The related YouTube videos are an awesome random mishmash of "Kids, this is why you don't smoke/shoot white drugs" and a document of someone who was wildly talented and without a place like MetaFilter (and YouTube) very few people would have ever had a chance to see.

Thanks.
posted by togdon at 3:22 PM on August 17, 2012


Moving to Atlanta in November 1999, I didn't understand how prevalent his music was until I kept running to people who knew him. So I got to Smoke late, but am so glad I did.

I miss Atlanta.
posted by Kitteh at 3:27 PM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Kitteh: I miss Atlanta.
Those of us still here miss that Atlanta too.
posted by ob1quixote at 3:36 PM on August 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Huh, seems like I watched this just last weekend. :)

That final show at the Clermont is so, so great.

And Deacon Lunchbox was such a trailblazer. We lost him way too soon. The 21st century needs more angry redneck performance poets in women's clothing carrying chainsaws.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:37 PM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Never heard of this before and glad I have now. Completely fantastic. Thanks.
posted by merocet at 3:55 PM on August 17, 2012


Obligatory link to The Living Bubba for fellow traveller, Greg Smalley. Tip one to all the kickers, truckers, and redneck freaks.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 4:09 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I really miss Deacon's shows. Great post.

Lewis Grizzard, I'm callin' you out! I read your column and it made me puke
posted by thelonius at 4:28 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Had no idea they existed 10 minutes ago. Presently I am very glad to have been introduced to them. Thank you.
posted by sendai sleep master at 4:31 PM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks so much for posting this!
posted by sophieblue at 4:57 PM on August 17, 2012


Oh, man, yeah! Good post! So many good shows. I am old. And sad such good people are no longer with us.
posted by mkim at 6:30 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


a skinny, gravel-voiced man in a blue dress and horn-rim glasses took the stage

Uh huh.
posted by Yakuman at 6:53 PM on August 17, 2012


Deacon Lunchbox! Woo! You!
posted by mkim at 7:00 PM on August 17, 2012


And Benjamin. You were amazing. All is love.
posted by mkim at 7:04 PM on August 17, 2012


I was the bass player in OFQ for a while (until the much more talented Jim Pribble joined), playing at the Little Five Points Pub on Sunday morning's "Brunch Hurts". It started with a lot of covers (One Tin Soldier, Ode to Billy Joe, Somewhere Over the Rainbow) moving to originals over the next 6 months. Kelly Hogan sang with us a few times and Chan Marshall was nearby most of the time.

A lot of people who were in that band aren't with us any more. There's one promo picture of an early version of the band where half the people are now dead.

It was a good time while it lasted.
posted by donpardo at 7:58 PM on August 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


My first experience seeing Benjamin perform is seared in my brain forever. In a sun dress, crawling around the "stage", singing about cleaning the floor, at Mudd Shack / Tortillas, circa 1989.

One of my brushes with celebrity/greatness was that I was one of the four people who chipped in $100 or so to help Arthur Davis release the first Smoke 7" single ("Dirt" b/w "Pretend") under his Colossal Records imprint. My name in lights. It helped me feel connected to the scene while I worked my first real job that took me out of town for months at a time.

The remembrance event at the Plaza Theater last January was utterly fantastic. The screening of the movie was frankly secondary to all of the amazing live performances. It'll probably happen again in a few years, and when it does YOU MUST NOT MISS IT.

There is a TON of great stuff linked from the Benjamin Remembered group page on Facebook.
posted by intermod at 8:27 PM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm still boggling over the idea of going to the Clermont Lounge for music.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:15 AM on August 18, 2012


Those of us still here miss that Atlanta too.

I’m not sure that’s limited to Atlanta.
posted by bongo_x at 9:26 AM on August 18, 2012


bongo_x: I’m not sure that’s limited to Atlanta.
The ITP crowd might argue, but as far as I'm concerned the suburbs and exurbs count for these purposes, Homes.
posted by ob1quixote at 11:34 AM on August 18, 2012


I'm still boggling over the idea of going to the Clermont Lounge for music.

"Wait! This is NOT the Blondie I was expecting!"
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:55 PM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


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