Great Lakes Myth Society

Great Lakes Myth Society

BandRockPop

Like a 19th century bar band.

Biography

To some, the Great Lakes are inland oceans. To others, the large pools of relatively warm water are nothing more than the accelerator of winter weather catalyzed by the arctic air that flows down over them. But for the five men of the Great lakes Myth Society, the five bodies of water that form the chain of freshwater basins are more than that -- they're living souls worthy of celebration and fear. Spurred on by the spirit of their hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan, at the foot of Lake Erie, Great Lakes Myth Society's self-titled debut encompasses every aspect of the Great Lakes region, specifically the dark tales of its people and natural surroundings.

"We've always had a keen sense of geography and the music that turns me on most calls to mind a certain place or era," explains Timothy Monger (vocals, guitars, accordion), "To reference our home in song has always been a natural reaction. It was only when we noticed how strong the themes were that the desire to center our project within the Lakes took hold."

While the band's allegiance to the lakes is ever-present, a good melody is always paramount and it's the combination of the two that fuel Great Lakes Myth Society's alternately pastoral and brutal songs. Take the plaintive "Buffalo Nickel" for example. "Tim and I used to live downtown on Ann Street in a rented house from the 1850s," recalls James Christopher Monger (vocals, guitars). "In June, storm clouds would come in from the west and hold steady over us like a wraith in a Ray Bradbury novel/ I like the idea of severe weather as an apocalyptic hiccup... a window into the past that, for just a brief moment, would re-animate our pre-World War I neighborhood of old. The chimes, thunder, and sirens that appear on the song were recorded on a four-track from my bedroom window during one of these occurrences." Like the coming storm, vocals roll in ever more aggressively until a thunderclap of intertwined vocals and piano sweep the listener into the past.

In "Big Jim Hawkins" a violent Irish conflagration of drums, violin, and acoustic guitar tells the mythical tale of a bar fight between giants finally culminating in the lyric, "Trains derailed and loggers broke their backs/Rivers turned to oceans and the Northern Lights went black/Towns just vanished sunk by spit and sweat/The north lay raped by five Great Lakes called H.O.M.E.S." In "The Northern Lights Over Atlanta, MI" the telling couplet, "When the cold stars work over time to impress you/And the Northern Lights get into your marrow and pull your jawbone slack," sets the stage for a march powered by churning guitars, horns, and the harmonies of the brothers Monger and Gregory Dean McIntosh (vocals, guitars).

Rounded out by the rhythm section of J. Scott McClintock (bass, vocals) and Fido Kennington (drums, vocals), Great Lakes Myth Society held their inaugural meeting on January 1, 2004, two months after the dissolution of their previous incarnation, the Original Brothers and Sisters of Love (TOBASOL). The band has gone to great lengths to capture the spirit of discovery both on and off the stage. Like five applehead men soaking in their respective freshwater tombs, feeling the pulp return to their faces, each day brings the delicious pain of life and the endless need to create.

Lyrics

Big Jim Hawkins

Written By: James Christopher Monger

Big Jim Hawkins rolled up off the floor
Railroad mud and sailor blood ripped tinder from the door
Paul came knocking, fifth one down the line
Five men ran for cover and that meat red moon did shine

Lips split open, shot glass filled the pines
Bar stools flew like witches through the Minnesota sky
Vultures circled, lightning hit the vane
Blackbirds tore the roof off and the world went up on flames

Jim took autumn, Paul slit winter’s lambs
Spring blew smoke and summer choked in both men’s giant hands
Drunks got drunker, barkeeps buried kin
Fifteen years, ten thousand beers, one hundred fifths of…

Paul lay crying, ribs wrapped ‘round his ax
A bluebird heard his dying words and crept up through the ash
Babe came rushing, Big Jim caught the horn
Two men lay split open and a red, red river roared

Trains derailed and loggers broke their backs
Rivers turned to oceans and the Northern Lights went black
Towns just vanished, sunk by spit and sweat
The north lay raped by five Great Lakes called H.O.M.E.S.

Cottonmouth

Written By: Gregory Dean McIntosh

We tell of all our oxbows without yielding a word
And foster them to willing eyes that look up then down, down.
Who say the nights are black enough without whiskey, beer, and wine?
Who doubt the world we come from?
And so, the summer nights go missing.

I’ll declare:
I’ll hold my head high. No, you’ll no longer be there.
So this is on my time, I’ll breathe the sweetest air.
I’ll raise a glass high.
To that which falls on deaf ears, I’ll hold my head high.

The gaming and the modest talk will end inside the van
where floodgates open and drown the cause down, down, down.
These drunken impediments will fall out of six dusty cottonmouths.
And so, the summer nights go missing.

I’ll declare:
I’ll raise a glass high; no, you’ll no longer be there.
So this is on my time, I’ll breath the sweetest air.
I’ll cast a blind eye.
To that which falls on deaf ears, I’ll hold my head high.

Across the Bridge

Written By: Timothy Monger

Dark mellow rings around the moon
Rainy season in my room
Beaded glasses
Half-written passages
Dark mellow rings around the moon

Time writes the manual of strain
In every movement of my frame
Summer’s heartbreak
Weeps in every lake
Time writes a catalog of rain

Beneath a radio of stars
On every band unravel cars
And in the distance
Old St. Ignace
Beneath a radio of stars

Across the bridge we’ll take our kind
From every place and every time
Hiawatha
Escanaba
Across the bridge we’ll take our kind

If you don’t know where we are
We’ll light a lantern at the bar
And where the wind blows
Ask the scarecrow
If you don’t know where we are

Discography

- Great Lakes Myth Society (Stop, Pop & Roll 2005)

The Original Brothers and Sisters of Love:
- H.O.M.E.S. Volume One (Telegraph Co. 2001)
- The Legende of Jeb Minor (Telegraph co. 2000)

Set List

Originals:

The Salt Trucks
Across the Bridge
Love Story
Buffalo Nickel
Big Jim Hawkins
Marquette County, 1959
Seeds For Sale
Pining, Drinking, Understanding
Isabella County, 1992
The Northern Lights Over Atlanta, Michigan
No. VI
Railway Ties
When Will I Cease Fucking Up Endlessly?
Cottonmouth
Lake Effect
Heydays
Debutante
Summer Bonfire
Queen of the Barleyfool
All the Early Morning Birds
Raindrops and Roses

Covers:

Look Back in Anger - David Bowie
One Summer Dream - Electric Light Orchestra
Bright Phoebus - Mike & Lal Waterson