Friday, December 04, 2009


I like the band name 3 Leg Torso - it reminds me of bad sci-fi movies like "The Thing With Two Heads," and of circus sideshow freaks. And a band featuring accordions, violins, and hand percussion (no guitars, no electronics) probably would fit right in with an old-fashioned traveling circus. As the tunes here, and on their MySpazz page make abundantly clear, this Portland quintet's instrumentals are quite lovely, haunting, and sometimes maniacally danceable excursions into avant-tango/Balkan/cabaret all on their own.
But throw the monologues of David Greenberger into the mix and you have something else - a curious kind of radio theatre. Greenberger is the man behind the 30-year-old "Duplex Planet" empire of 'zines, books, comix, and music all based on real interviews with nursing home residents. The Torso's music necessarily takes somewhat of a back seat to Greenberger, but shades and enhances the stories - some sad, many funny - like a film score.

Greenberger has worked with other musicians (his recent "Growing Old In East LA" radio project features music by members of Los Lobos), but he's done two full albums with 3 Leg Torso, "Whispers, Grins, Bloodloss and Handshakes," (2005) and 2004s' "Legibly Speaking."
As with any "Duplex Planet"-related project, however, the old folks are really the stars of the show. Many tracks on these albums are brief (around one minute), filled with pathos but still really funny:
David Greenberger & 3 Leg Torso: "Miss Dog Miss Me"
The elderly, as I've said before, are "uncool" in our eternal-youth oriented culture and, hence, almost invisible in the media. So Greenberger & co. really hit the jackpot with Alfred, a 100 -year-old man who's sharp as a tack and truly filled with the wisdom of the ages. This dude's cooler then everything on MTV combined:
David Greenberger & 3 Leg Torso: "Perpetual Motion"

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