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The Near Myths: Bio

Katy Adams - acoustic 12-string guitar, vocals

Jim Clark - acoustic 6 & 12-string guitar, banjo, autoharp, pennywhistle, harmonica, vocals

Ben Greene - acoustic 6 & 12-string guitar, harmonica, vocals

Bernadette Greene - keyboards, vocals

Andy Oglesby - acoustic & electric guitar, vocals

Terry “Teep” Phillips - acoustic 6 & 12-string guitar, electric guitar, slide guitar, mandolin, bass, harmonica, drums, hairy drum, rattlesnake rattle, vocals

Matthew Adams - drums

Phil Valera - co-producer, engineer, keyboards, percussion

 

The Story of The Near Myths

In 1976, Jim and Ben, both fresh from undergraduate experiences in Tennessee, wound up in Greensboro, NC, in the MFA Writing Program at UNC-Greensboro. The aspiring poets quickly became friends, and eventually roommates. Ben had left behind many good friends in the Knoxville/Jefferson City axis, and Jim also had many good friends in the Knoxville area. The two made numerous trips together during breaks to East Tennessee (oh, the stories they could tell!), and eventually their two sets of friends intermingled. One of Ben’s East Tennessee friends was Teep, who also quickly became one of Jim’s friends, and one of Jim’s East Tennessee friends was Larry, who also quickly became one of Ben’s friends (and Teep’s too). Larry, though not a Near Myth, will play a significant role later.

Meanwhile, in Greensboro, Ben and Jim met Jane, who quickly became their good friend. Jane lived across the hall from Andy, and Katy was her best friend. The three of them would sometimes play music together. Andy, Jane, Katy, and Jim eventually played together in a band called Rough Mix. Ben would jam with them sometimes, and they worked up a killer version of one of Ben’s early original tunes, “Theme from Cheap (Cheap Suitin’).”

By 1980, Rough Mix had come to an end, and Ben and Jim left Greensboro. Ben returned to his home state of SC, and Jim eventually headed out to Denver in a desperate attempt to remain a college student. In 1984, while Jim was in Denver, Larry and Ben blew through the Mile High City to hang with Jim, in the early stages of their Great North American Last Fling Tour in Larry’s VW microbus. They got as far as the west coast of Vancouver Island where Ben met Bernadette, whom he eventually married. After that, everybody got kind of busy for a number of years, though all of them remained at least marginally in touch with some of them.

In 2004 a planetary alignment occurred, overseen by an angel named Jane, which compelled Ben, Bernadette, Teep, Katy, and Andy to pilgrimage to Wilson, NC, where Jim was now living, to record an album of original songs with the nearly mythical Phil Valera as producer. Old friendships were renewed, and those that hadn’t yet met did, and it was all good. They named their album WILSON, and vowed to keep at it until they were too old to rock and roll.

The story continues . . . In the spring of 2005, Andy was diagnosed with cancer. Sadly, he passed away on July 3, 2006, but not before recording guitar and vocal tracks for three new songs which are included on The Near Myths' second album, WORDS TO BURN, named after a phrase from one of Andy's new songs. To us, he'll always be a Near Myth.

 

The Story of WILSON (a version)

According to an old Cherokee near myth, one day a group of travelers would gather from the four directions, arriving on creatures like mustangs, but with more leg room. Perhaps some would ride impalas, only with better upholstery. These mysterious figures would come bearing implements of music, and when they had converged at the designated power place, would take forth their instruments and, having gauged the recording levels, proceed to play. Those Cherokees!

Joseph Campbell, in his classic study of cross-cultural mythology, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, said, “Whoa, that’s a lot of faces! Can we make it six, and knock off early?” So, six it was who gathered in Wilson, with near mythic designs.

Katy came via the beach, but does not dwell on it.

The Teep soared in from Venezuela, but then had to get back to Tennessee. He came in drained, and left recharged.

Ben flew in from the west coast of Canada, and boy were his jokes tired.

Bernadette got one take at the piano on “Westward Quest,” and headed east.

Jim stayed put.

Andy knows secret routes. He can make it in two hours. All six far-flung Near Myths play guitar, typically the same guitar at the same time, first come first string. All six can work a piano. All six sing. It’s hard to get a word in edgewise.

As for the nine songs on this album, suffice it to say that each has mythic levels, but only a real Bob Diligent would unravel them all. Here, then, are threads to grab and pull.

“Old Mill Road” (written by Jim in 2004): Eastern North Carolina folk art marvel gives birth to tragic rumor-myth, turned into visionary song.

“Rapunzel” (first version written by Ben 1981 but forgotten, also by Ben, except for first verse and chorus; new verses added circa 1997): Fairy tale/myth appropriated (mythappropriated?) for common plaint. Please hear my plea.

“Mine Tonight” (written by Andy 1979) Myth of narrator’s urgency giving rise to actual amorous payoff that very night.

“(Turn this) Water into Wine” (written by Jim, 1979): Biblical allusion with a twist of Near Myth.

“Fool Me Once” (written by Andy, 2004): The myth of WMD.

“Involuntary Shuffle” (begun by Jim and Ben, October 1983, several flights above Mile High City, finished by Ben much closer to sea level some months later): Myth you/How’s my little girl?

“Westward Quest” (written 1984, lyrics mainly by Ben with a few Teep adjustments, music entirely by The Teep): Seekers seeking mythic proportions head west (young men), listen to misfits playing for misfits, have myth-fit, fit words to music, myth the most of it.

“Another Love Song” (written by Ben, 1998): Myth of multi-faceted doom, shattered by profound strokes of fortune gone good.

“Do What You Gotta Do” (written by Ben, 2004): Solid refutation of the myth that you can’t do what you must.

 --N.D. Plume (Finnish poet Nils Daimon Plume’s magnum opus, Hope There’s Magnums, is forthcoming forthwith.)