Chris Campion
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Chris Campion

Woodside, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Woodside, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Alternative Cabaret

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Dec
27
Chris Campion @ Bar Harbor

Mamaroneck, New York, USA

Mamaroneck, New York, USA

Dec
26
Chris Campion @ 11th Street Bar

New York, New York, USA

New York, New York, USA

Dec
23
Chris Campion @ Valencia Tavern

Huntington, New York, USA

Huntington, New York, USA

Music

Press


The opening salvo of jangly guitar licks on “Ex Post Facto,” from Chris Campion’s new EP, is so arresting, practically spellbinding, it raises the question of the extent to which pure sound, at once propulsive, insistent, and melancholy, can be a character in a 4-minute- and-50-second rock ’n’ roll tale. Instrumentals can of course call to mind all manner of emotions, but what about embodying, say, futility, or striving, or loss? Any one of those could be standing over your shoulder as the disc spins.

That may be one for the musicologists and philosophers. This listener’s real-world experience of playing the tune some two dozen times in relatively short order reveals that it carries a voltage that no amount of repetition will diminish. Directed to a depressed or at least self-pitying friend “lapping up that soul-soothing salve,” it might be the happiest sad song you’ll hear.

The disc, a remarkably full five-song solo effort, extends Mr. Campion’s creative successes of late: the run of his stage show of music and storytelling, “Escape From Bellevue,” at the Village Theater (now Le Poisson Rouge) in Manhattan, and his memoir of the same name, subtitled “A Dive Bar Odyssey,” published by Gotham in 2009.

The new release is called “The Saloon Singer,” and it would be remiss not to point out that a sense of Mr. Campion’s showmanship can be had — where else? — online, at reverbnation.com/ chriscampion, where there’s a video of “Ex Post Facto” featuring the yoga poses of a bracingly limber woman of a certain age who appears to have no teeth. (An urban attention seeker, maybe, in the cartoonist Daniel Clowes’s phrase.) And there you can see our man grilled by Shemp Butler, a blunt workingman of a “radio personality” who seems . . . strangely familiar.

Come the fall, Mr. Campion as the Saloon Singer is to be back onstage in New York. And though it’s been a while since his Knockout Drops have played the Stephen Talkhouse, on July 21 he’ll perform in Amagansett at Rock the Farm with the reggae ensemble Steel Pulse to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

In the meantime, the EP alone is welcome news — even if you haven’t been despairing of the state of popular music on the Island. Mr. Campion’s songwriting can be enjoyed by adults, for one thing. “Stolen Winter” offers an apocalyptic vision — “I walk a mile on one drunk foot, as I drag the other with me, like a mad nag loose in the city, unbridled, unhitched, and unsung” — before this slow processional of a song becomes something of a hymn, with all the slightly hair-raising power that implies.
Mr. Campion, who grew up in Huntington and lives in Woodside, Queens, is nothing if not likable — for his empathy for losers and weirdos, for instance. In “Esteban,” he tells of a dreamer helpless against the distraction of the breeze in the trees. In the face of his terminally misguided focus, his wife has been his savior: “Every time I get close, she cuts me down and hides the rope,” Mr. Campion sings with rising emphasis. “I love her more than she’ll ever know, and one day soon, I’ll tell her so.”

But he isn’t going to, is he. Just as I’m going to fail to get across what’s so moving about those lines.

-Baylis Greene - The East Hampton Star


The opening salvo of jangly guitar licks on “Ex Post Facto,” from Chris Campion’s new EP, is so arresting, practically spellbinding, it raises the question of the extent to which pure sound, at once propulsive, insistent, and melancholy, can be a character in a 4-minute- and-50-second rock ’n’ roll tale. Instrumentals can of course call to mind all manner of emotions, but what about embodying, say, futility, or striving, or loss? Any one of those could be standing over your shoulder as the disc spins.

That may be one for the musicologists and philosophers. This listener’s real-world experience of playing the tune some two dozen times in relatively short order reveals that it carries a voltage that no amount of repetition will diminish. Directed to a depressed or at least self-pitying friend “lapping up that soul-soothing salve,” it might be the happiest sad song you’ll hear.

The disc, a remarkably full five-song solo effort, extends Mr. Campion’s creative successes of late: the run of his stage show of music and storytelling, “Escape From Bellevue,” at the Village Theater (now Le Poisson Rouge) in Manhattan, and his memoir of the same name, subtitled “A Dive Bar Odyssey,” published by Gotham in 2009.

The new release is called “The Saloon Singer,” and it would be remiss not to point out that a sense of Mr. Campion’s showmanship can be had — where else? — online, at reverbnation.com/ chriscampion, where there’s a video of “Ex Post Facto” featuring the yoga poses of a bracingly limber woman of a certain age who appears to have no teeth. (An urban attention seeker, maybe, in the cartoonist Daniel Clowes’s phrase.) And there you can see our man grilled by Shemp Butler, a blunt workingman of a “radio personality” who seems . . . strangely familiar.

Come the fall, Mr. Campion as the Saloon Singer is to be back onstage in New York. And though it’s been a while since his Knockout Drops have played the Stephen Talkhouse, on July 21 he’ll perform in Amagansett at Rock the Farm with the reggae ensemble Steel Pulse to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

In the meantime, the EP alone is welcome news — even if you haven’t been despairing of the state of popular music on the Island. Mr. Campion’s songwriting can be enjoyed by adults, for one thing. “Stolen Winter” offers an apocalyptic vision — “I walk a mile on one drunk foot, as I drag the other with me, like a mad nag loose in the city, unbridled, unhitched, and unsung” — before this slow processional of a song becomes something of a hymn, with all the slightly hair-raising power that implies.
Mr. Campion, who grew up in Huntington and lives in Woodside, Queens, is nothing if not likable — for his empathy for losers and weirdos, for instance. In “Esteban,” he tells of a dreamer helpless against the distraction of the breeze in the trees. In the face of his terminally misguided focus, his wife has been his savior: “Every time I get close, she cuts me down and hides the rope,” Mr. Campion sings with rising emphasis. “I love her more than she’ll ever know, and one day soon, I’ll tell her so.”

But he isn’t going to, is he. Just as I’m going to fail to get across what’s so moving about those lines.

-Baylis Greene - The East Hampton Star


...So “Escape From Bellevue,” which opened recently, offers a lesson in how to approach the genre, by leaving out the “musical” part pretty much entirely. The show, performed by the New York band the Knockout Drops, is not really a musical at all. (The band terms it a “rock ’n’ roll odyssey.”) But it does capitalize on the band’s natural strengths: rock music of a solid, stick-to-your-ribs variety, and the gift of gab of the lead singer, Christopher John Campion, who narrates his life story in the manner of an agreeable stand-up comic. The resulting piece is basically a concert with expanded repartee between the songs... - The New York Times


...So “Escape From Bellevue,” which opened recently, offers a lesson in how to approach the genre, by leaving out the “musical” part pretty much entirely. The show, performed by the New York band the Knockout Drops, is not really a musical at all. (The band terms it a “rock ’n’ roll odyssey.”) But it does capitalize on the band’s natural strengths: rock music of a solid, stick-to-your-ribs variety, and the gift of gab of the lead singer, Christopher John Campion, who narrates his life story in the manner of an agreeable stand-up comic. The resulting piece is basically a concert with expanded repartee between the songs... - The New York Times


Expanding on the material in his eponymous autobiographical off-Broadway musical, Campion, lead singer in the band Knockout Drops, cops to inventing characters and misremembering some facts and time lines. Readers, and perhaps he, cannot therefore know whether he has embellished the all-night booze-and-blow-fueled partying with the rodeo clowns and the bearded lady, or the witty repartee recollected verbatim from drunken stupors of decades past, or the anecdote about riding crowded elevators dressed only in a girlfriend's pink thong. Oh well, it's all surely accurate in the way that rock 'n' roll ballads are faithful records of failed love affairs. At any rate, Campion's portrait of his knockabout sojourn in New York's indie rock demimonde in the 1990s, when his band perched agonizingly on the cusp between loserdom and breakout success, has the ring of truth. So does his account of the alcoholic slide that transformed him from a hearty mainstay of the Greenwich Village bar scene into a desolate bum incarcerated in the titular psych ward. Campion tells this tale of a very long trek on the wild side with hangdog humor and bleary charm. (Mar.) - Publisher's Weekly


Expanding on the material in his eponymous autobiographical off-Broadway musical, Campion, lead singer in the band Knockout Drops, cops to inventing characters and misremembering some facts and time lines. Readers, and perhaps he, cannot therefore know whether he has embellished the all-night booze-and-blow-fueled partying with the rodeo clowns and the bearded lady, or the witty repartee recollected verbatim from drunken stupors of decades past, or the anecdote about riding crowded elevators dressed only in a girlfriend's pink thong. Oh well, it's all surely accurate in the way that rock 'n' roll ballads are faithful records of failed love affairs. At any rate, Campion's portrait of his knockabout sojourn in New York's indie rock demimonde in the 1990s, when his band perched agonizingly on the cusp between loserdom and breakout success, has the ring of truth. So does his account of the alcoholic slide that transformed him from a hearty mainstay of the Greenwich Village bar scene into a desolate bum incarcerated in the titular psych ward. Campion tells this tale of a very long trek on the wild side with hangdog humor and bleary charm. (Mar.) - Publisher's Weekly


Campion, lead singer of the (almost) nationally famous indie band Knockout Drops, is no polished writer. His stories ramble. He digresses. He desperately needs an editor. But there is undeniable power in the cautionary tale of his drug-and-alcohol-fueled rise and fall in the rock world. It isn’t just that the stories he tells are increasingly harrowing, or that his multiple addictions exact a terrible cost in lost friends and lovers and alienated family members, or that for a time he was essentially homeless. It’s that Campion is a talented raconteur, capable of turning every misbegotten moment from early adolescence spent hanging out with his older brother’s garage band to drug-hazed college years to equally hazy days down, out, and on the road in Massachusetts and Maine into addictively fascinating prose. His years on stage, including the autobiographical off-Broadway rock musical Escape from Bellevue, have clearly taught him how to get and hold attention. Campion parties like a rock star, crashes and burns like one, then rises from the ashes to tell us about it. --Jack Helbig - Booklist


Campion, lead singer of the (almost) nationally famous indie band Knockout Drops, is no polished writer. His stories ramble. He digresses. He desperately needs an editor. But there is undeniable power in the cautionary tale of his drug-and-alcohol-fueled rise and fall in the rock world. It isn’t just that the stories he tells are increasingly harrowing, or that his multiple addictions exact a terrible cost in lost friends and lovers and alienated family members, or that for a time he was essentially homeless. It’s that Campion is a talented raconteur, capable of turning every misbegotten moment from early adolescence spent hanging out with his older brother’s garage band to drug-hazed college years to equally hazy days down, out, and on the road in Massachusetts and Maine into addictively fascinating prose. His years on stage, including the autobiographical off-Broadway rock musical Escape from Bellevue, have clearly taught him how to get and hold attention. Campion parties like a rock star, crashes and burns like one, then rises from the ashes to tell us about it. --Jack Helbig - Booklist


Discography

Solo Releases:
Chris Campion is: The Saloon Singer EP

With Knockout Drops:
Killed By The Lights
Escape From Bellevue
Nowadays EP
Falling for Dorla EP

Photos

Bio

Chris Campion is the writer and star of the blitz of the senses off-Broadway rock-theater-show, Escape From Bellevue: A Rock-n-Roll Odyssey (Produced by Westbeth Entertainment, directed by Alex Timbers) and the author of the critically acclaimed memoir of the same name (Penguin Books). He is also lead singer of the indie powerpop combo, Knockout Drops.

His new solo album, "Watch The Gap" is out now and available on Bandcamp. He'll be playing dates behind the record all summer long then mounting a theater experience of it in New York City. That production is slated for autumn 2015.

Live Videos from the show Escape From Bellevue:
'Circling The Drain'
'Blackout, Baby'
'Pilot Light'

Music & Promo Videos:
'Ex Post Facto'
'Shemp Butler Interview'
'Paging Hiawatha'
'Macheesemo'

More videos on the Chris Campion YouTube Channel

Band Members