Woebegone is a fictional musical noir tracking the early years of Johnny Woebegone and Lilithiana Red, through songs of oil, sex, death with an otherworldliness we cannot quite put our finger on. Set in the rapidly decaying world of the mid-2020s, with Nobacon in character as Woebegone, the album charts yet to be discovered hidden depths. The pairing Nobaconian lounge noir and other country blues, with the majesty of The Bad Things’ junkyard cabaret provides a musical feast for delinquents and degenerates everywhere.
Johnny Woebegone is a character in a novel Nobacon will write someday as Bebon Condorant; he is a time travelling roots musician trapped in a poisonous police state sometime in the future. Nobacon is a student of science, nature, art and history as well as being a dedicated anarchist; his dystopian future has a raucous, piratical sound when put to music. In “Johnny Woebegone” Nobacon sings, “Gangsters, G-men, raptors and ghosts, sharpening their various claws, arms trade profiteers, government yes-men, a war tailor made for double agents.” While in “Evolution 9” he describes Woebegone as a broken man, singing “To H.G. Wells, who once wrote, when the lights were going out all over Europe, that human history is a race between education and the catastrophe that embraces us now.
Nobacon’s union with The Bad Things came out of a co-bill after he moved to Washington and played a show at the Northwest Folklife Festival. James “Jimmy The Pickpocket” Berg, leader of The Bad Things knew Nobacon’s music long before most of his peers – while hitchhiking in Europe as a teen, one band kept coming to his attention: Nobacon’s collective, Chumbawamba. He was thrilled to share a bill and introduce himself – gigs together lead into musical collaboration, the resulting Woebegone takes traditional music into a Wagnerian punk realm.
Nobacon’s work with Chumbawamba is now legendary: after their worldwide hit “Tubthumper” was released in 1997, they used their new pop fame to spread their anarchic beliefs in interviews and appearances. Danbert became known for dumping a bucket of ice water over John Prescott, the British deputy prime minister, at an awards ceremony, in London, in 1998, to protest the Blair government’s treatment of striking dockworkers. When booked on David Letterman, Chumbawamba turned one of their choruses into “Free Mumia Abu Jamal” and sparred with Barbara Walters during prime time.
In 2007, he released The Library Book of the World, produced by Jon Langford (backed by his Pine Valley Cosmonauts). Time Out New York’s Scott Schinder called it “ramshackle agit-punk and folk that merges humanist outrage, absurdist humor and pirate swagger.”
Shows and Readings
Sept 24 Crowning Glory (Reading) Los Angeles, CA
Sept 25 Skylight Books (Reading with Alex Cox) Los Angeles, CA
Sept 28 Books, Inc. (Reading) San Francisco, CA
Sept 30 The Gilman Street Project (Reading) San Francisco, CA
Oct 4 Powell Books (Hawthorne Branch) (Reading) Portland, OR
Oct 14 The Book Cellar (Reading) Chicago, IL
Oct 17 Foam St. Louis
Oct 18 Giovanni’s Room Philadelphia, PA
Oct 21 Green Line Cafe Philadelphia, PA
Oct 23 The Word Brooklyn, NY
Oct 31 Columbia City Theater (Release Party) Seattle, WA
Nov 10 Third Place Books (Ravenna) (Reading) Seattle, WA