THE LONESOME ORGANIST at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), tonight (Thursday, July 17). $7. 416-598-4753. Rating: NNNNN
chances are, when the 10-year- old Jeremy Jacobsen was muddling through elementary school, his teachers gave the kid grief for not playing well with others. A few decades later, the man now known as the Lonesome Organist makes musical megalomania look like phenomenal entertainment with his outlandish one-man band antics.
The Chicago-based Jacobsen juggles circusy organ riffs, guitar licks, crisp drum rolls, harmonica - and even a tap dance routine or two - often within the span of a single bar of one of his chaotic, carnivalesque tunes. Although the multi-talented fellow has done time with more conventional outfits (5ive Style and the Blues Explosion among them), 1997's bizarrely titled Collector Of Cactus Echo Bag was the initial leap into individual territory that launched Jacobsen's Lonesome Organist project.
Six years and two more albums - including this year's quirky Forms And Follies (Thrill Jockey) - later, the Organist is still going, and still Lonesome. Solo ventures are nothing new in the music scene, but how the hell does a dude plan a one-man band?
"I'm an instrumentalist, so the DJ thing wouldn't have worked," muses Jacobsen, on the road between New York City and Washington, DC.
"And the thing about being a singer/songwriter is that when I started out I had a really crappy voice. I learned to sing a little bit along the way, but back then it wasn't really an option for me. So the one-man band approach let me trick everyone."
And aren't there enough skinny white boys posing as sensitive singer/songwriters these days anyway? Besides, Jacobsen's somewhat insane, eclectic approach has won raves from the likes of the Thin White Duke himself. Bowie praised Forms And Follies in Brit music rag Mojo and invited the Lonesome Organist to play last year's Meltdown music fest in the UK.
The hitch is that the spectacle gets lost in the translation to tape. Check out Jacobsen's wicked energy in a live club - or even the manic chaos of his appearance in last year's one-man-band documentary Let Me Be Your Band - and you'll realize you've gotta see the guy in the flesh to fully appreciate him.
So why put out records at all?
"Well, because if you don't put out records, then nobody'll come to the show! That's one reason. I was also an avid four-tracker and I love recording, the whole process of it. It's a lot of fun, and I can do different things in the recording process that I obviously can't do live."