VH1 has been exploiting one of those weaknesses for years. Ever heard of I Love the 80s? (don’t everyone yell out at once, now.)
The Midtown Dickens is an anti-folk duo made up of Catherine Edgerton and Kym Register. They’re a dynamic duo with a stage presence that will charm you out of your last dollar—so if you happen to wander by a free show where they ask for donations, watch out! (though come on, if you’re going to give away money, the Midtown Dickens is a good place to put it)
So why is it that they have what Pinky’s friend Brain never discovered? How are they going to take over the world when Brain couldn’t?
Just ask the band’s label (307 Knox Records) owner, Melissa Thomas. Thomas, a well known musician herself–will answer with a very pointed answer.
“Have you heard ‘Tetris’?” she’ll ask you.
If you have heard the song, you’ll know exactly what she’s talking about. For those of you who haven’t heard the song—you’d better check it out at the end of this blog. I will post it here and you’ll love the song. I promise. ‘Tetris’ is the perfect ode to the old-school Nintendo game. The lyrics are witty, the song is impossibly catchy and the harmonies are delightful. Once you’ve heard the song—and you only need to hear it once—you’ll have it stuck in your head forever. But believe me, you’ll love every minute of it.
The best thing about this song is that you don’t have to pull on your nostalgia to love it. My 10-year-old sister has never played the game, but she knows its reputation. When she heard the song, she loved it as much as I do. (I think it might’ve been lyrics like “I like playing Tetris in the shower/but sometimes it makes me cower” and “Though I like playing Tetris naked and nude…sometimes it makes me electrocuted—oh ouch.”
But of course, like all good bands, there’s more to the Midtown Dickens than ‘Tetris.’
In May of this year they released their first album on 307 Knox Records, “Oh, Yell.” The album is the perfect sonic picture of the Midtown Dickens. Throughout the album you see examples of the witty lyrics that characterize the Midtown Dickens as well as more serious songs which can’t help but to strike chords. The duo is unrelentingly humorous, thoughtful and poignant.
In addition to being brilliant lyricists, Edgerton and Register are talented musicians who excel at several different instruments. The Midtown Dickens is not a band that’s going to be happy with just the basic instruments: guitar, drums, bass.
On a typical Midtown Dickens show you can expect them to pull out a variety of instruments—musical saws, ukuleles, banjos, trumpets and even chairs.
For a long time, the Midtown Dickens proved to be one of Durham’s well kept musical secrets. Their fans were small in number, but they were loyal—they made sure to be at the shows, be they in Durham, Chapel Hill or Raleigh. But by the “Oh, Yell” CD release party in May, it was clear the Midtown Dickens were no longer a secret. While the show featured the band, it also included several other local bands. Each band got a good number of folks from the audience, but it wasn’t till the Midtown Dickens came on that night when the entire audience assembled—about 170 in a space that not long before had seemed relatively big.
Though Edgerton and Register have known each other for over ten years, they didn’t start playing music seriously until about 2 years ago. From bonding over Janis Joplin, they’ve been learning how to play their own instruments and putting on shows that audience members won’t forget any time soon.
Shayne O’Neill, a musician from the local band Future Kings of Nowhere, has collaborated with the Midtown Dickens (he plays trumpet on “Airplane”) noted how their friendship comes out on stage
Because they are such good friends and because they are relaxed about letting their vulnerabilites and mistakes show when they are performing, the audience feels like they become a part of the “success” of the evening. Everyone is rooting for them to make it through their set, in the same way that people can get behind an underdog sports team.”
The best way to experience the Midtown Dickens is through their live show. In addition to playing their infectious music, they include the audience in their playful banter in between songs. Throughout the coming months the band will be playing throughout the south–mostly in North Carolina, but there are a few shows elsewhere-so check their myspace site for tour dates! and if you can’t see them any time soon, stop by 307 Knox Records and buy the album!
p.s.: All pics were taken by yours truly at the MtD CD release party back in May!