NYC’s new Folk Explosion

Time Out New York, Feb. 6-12, 2004, Issue No. 436 | Mike Wolf

For Folk’s Sake

..At the other end of the spectrum is Devendra Banhart, who in just a couple of years has become one of the most remarkable personalities in the city’s arts scene. After releasing a well-received debut last year, the prolific Banhart is just hitting his stride. In addition to a manic live-show schedule, the first of his two solo CDs due this year – Rejoicing in the Hands of the Golden Empress and/or Being Watched by Her Floating Red Beards (as album as good as its name is long) – is coming in April. And, oh, in case two releases aren’t enough, Banhart has a new group, Abra, which seemed to materialize out of thin air recently, yet already has an album planned for May. Why stop there? There’s also Vetiver, a San Franscisco-based band he plays a part in, that’s releasing an album in March. It’s doubtful that any marketing plan has ever recommended putting out four CDs in one year. But the business side of things isn’t on Banhart’s radar. “Being in magazines and stuff, that isn’t the goal whatsoever, “ says the singer-songwriter. What maters, he says, “is the joy and experience of the music.” And to hear and watch him inhabit a song – his sets mix originals with covers by people as disparate as Yoko Ono and Elizabeth Cotton, all performed with the emotional flair of a veteran cabaret singer – is to witness an artist in rapture...