Occasionally a little venue springs up in your town, puts some magic into the world, then disappears. So it was in Saint Louis during the past couple years, as Dana Smith’s City Art Supply served a commercial purpose during the day, then came alive as a truly authentic, artistic venue at night. But only for shows personally curated and desired by Smith. This wasn’t a bar where any band with a draw could roll through. This was a tiny, sonic temple, where every band meant something, or else they wouldn’t have been given the space by Smith to create memories for 45-minutes at a time.
On the shop’s last night of operation, Shelley Short gave one of those performances that stop you in your tracks. The kind that make you go right over after the show, with wallet open. Her live set is spare and fantastic, which is evident when you listen to the generous Daytrotter Sessions posted on her homepage. And her recordings have the same special, emotional qualities of that live set, adding in touches of backing vocals and extra instrumentation, but without any unnecessary studio gloss. If songs existing in only the best space of neo-folk are something that interest you, her lovely, acoustic-based albums are a must.
She’s also from Portland, OR, which counts for something.
Shelley was kind enough to tackle our questions, before heading out on a European tour.
One. Which of the seven deadliest sins make for the best art?
Once I refreshed my knowledge of the deadliest sins, they didn’t seem all that deadly. They seemed quite common. A person might not seem so real without a couple of doubts and longings floating around up there. And although I can see how some of these sins could lead someone into a place where they would need or want to create something, i don’t think they necessarily make for the best art. Id’ like to think it comes from somewhere else. An outside place not to be found within the seven, but for sure to be found in the ever questioning mysteries of out sweet old brains.
Two. For what are you going to need a little more evidence?
unfortunately, i believe everything i hear. no evidence needed.
Three. For personal creativity (or productivity), are you better served by contentment or restlessness?
Being content is a good place to be, but it is a hard place to truly get to sometimes. If I ever do feel restless, i might busy myself doing or making something, but i’d guess its a tool i use to make my way to a place where i can feel content.
Four. Likeliest occurrence within your lifetime: true peace, total war, or the arrival of spacemen/spacewomen?
Hopefully the first and the third. One can only hope.
Five. Select/discuss any one of the following options.
Five-e: Do you have a question for me? (What is it?) Yes. two. If you could be any animal what would you choose? What is your very first memory?
Ah! Always surprised when these come back to me. Okay. Animals, first. As I’m fond of the race track, I should probably come back as a low-level race horse, to test karma’s power. Maybe I’m way off on this “as horses, they’re living an okay life” riff that I’ve convinced myself to be true. As for a memory, I recall sitting underneath a table in my grandparents’ kitchen, on a blanket, watching the nightly news. Specifically, I recall imagery about the Vietnam War. That vision of a young me is quite fixed. But enough about me, back to our subject…
(The following is a video directed by Shelley Short, “Time Machine/Submarine.”)