Wolff Bowden
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Wolff Bowden

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The Orphan Trains: On The Night You Were Born
New Album Review by Sebastian Carr

The Orphan Trains are very, very strange. But, in a wonderful way. Kind of like a train filled with orphaned children and wild animals, strange. Kind of like a bear on a trampoline, strange. According to their website, they wrote their new album in Corvallis, OR where they live when they are not roaming from Florida to India. Apparently, these songs kept bears away when they were lost most of a night in the OSU research forest.
The first song, “You & I,” is a rollicking tumble towards love infused with the Buddhist idea that change is inevitable. “You say you want to change the world. You couldn’t stop it changing if you tried. Everything’s changing, day after day except you and I.” The rest of the lyrics are surreal. Tigers and Unicorns sighing forgiveness. Blue horses. Swans on the waters of time. And if that wasn’t bizarre enough, the duo created a YouTube video for the song, featuring two spooky stuffed lambs playing on the train in Avery Park! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dl_MT6zKtZU)
The second song, “Jenell,” is sung by the female vocalist of the duo, Dakota Rose, who just so happens to have a Master’s Degree in Psychology. Jenell is about a foster child who wanders from circus tents to redemption while her mother wonders where she is. The song seems to be written from the mother’s perspective. It is haunting, original, and my personal favorite.
The rest of the album is like a painting by Marc Chagall, swirling with colors and houses and brides. “On The Night You Were Born” (the title track) gives you a peek into the birth of the secretive male singer, who calls himself: THE MASKED FANTASTIC (he’s also a professional artist named Wolff www.wolffantastic.com). You get to hear about his mythical grandfather, from whom he inherited (simultaneously) a dog and a guitar.. According to his bio, the dog taught him to “sing” but it sounds more like howling to me. This album is heavy on howling, since he howls on 3 tracks. Luckily, Dakota Rose doesn’t howl. She sings with a warm, soothing voice reminiscent of Joni Mitchell and chooses to end the album with a lullaby. She also plays a powerful violin, an instrument she picked up at age six.
These songs are real. From a song about a comatose woman dying (Oh, Mary) to an account of The Masked Fantastic’s Father’s fight with cancer (Bethlehem) to the song for which the band is named, in which two orphans find new homes on farms of the west (Orphan Trains), this duo holds a sustained and very creative note all the way through.

- The Alchemist


Discography

On The Night You Were Born (coming August, 2008)
Orphanage of Imagination (Poetry Book, 2008)
Heavyweight Champion of the Night (Poetry & Song Book, 2008)

Photos

Bio

The Masked Fantastic

When his Grandfather in Georgia died, The Masked Fantastic arrived late to the wake. Relatives from as far away as Texas had already laid claim to most of his Grandfather’s estate, including his horses, rifles and saddles. Even his hats. The Masked Fantastic didn’t want any inheritance. He was only seventeen. But, his Great Aunt Charlotte begged him to take his Grandfather’s dog.
“Her name’s Hobo,” Aunt Charlotte said. “But Grandpa called her ‘Bo’ and she likes to sit and listen to a little bit of guitar.”
“But I don’t play the guitar. I don’t even have a guitar.”
“Well, the guitar comes with her.”
“You mean if I take the dog, I also get Grandpa’s guitar?”
“Yes.”
He took the pair. A few weeks later, The Masked Fantastic learned that Bo could sing. Her high-howling, as he calls it, inspired some of his own. And by the time Bo died, The Masked Fantastic could play a little bit of guitar.

Under the alias Wolff, The Masked Fantastic was named ARTEXPO ARTIST OF THE MILLENNIUM in Miami for his mixed-media paintings. His signature paintings are created using mineral pigments and high-gloss, preservative acrylic. Wolff has sold hundreds of paintings to collectors, worldwide, and is represented in galleries from Miami to Oregon. His famous collectors include baseball legend Andre Dawson, poet Billy Collins and Angela’s Ashes author Frank McCourt. His poetry has appeared in 27 Literary Magazines, including West Wind Review, The Madison Review and Folio. His poetry collections ORPHANAGE OF IMAGINATION (2002) and HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE NIGHT (2008) were published by Redwood River Press. To learn more, please visit:

WWW.WOLFFANTASTIC.COM

The Masked Fantastic is a secretive performer who nevertheless makes regular appearances with The Orphan Trains, a duo featuring the song artist and violin-wielding pixie, Dakota Rose. The Masked Fantastic has performed live on WJBW radio in Stuart, FL and WTTB radio in Vero Beach. His last appearance, with The Orphan Trains, was as the Headliner at a Psychotherapy & Hypnotherapy Training Conference sponsored by the Institute for Survivors of Sexual Violence (ISSV) at the Chinsegut Hill Retreat Center in Brooksville, FL. He played to a large audience of Psychologists and Psychiatrists.