Freak-folk bailout

Dead Western needs your help to make it to Berlin

Donate and make Dead Western’s European tour happen: <a href=""></a>. He’s begging you.

Donate and make Dead Western’s European tour happen: He’s begging you.

Photo By Shoka

Check out SN&R’s “Sight for Sound Advice” video interview next week with Dead Western at the Sound Advice blog,
Check out Dead Western’s CD-release show Thursday, April 22, in Davis, with Ghost to Falco. Find out more at

Would you pay five bucks to ensure that a venerable but independent and unsigned Sacramento artist would actually embark on their European tour?

If so, welcome to a new world of online music-and-arts philanthropy. Just this March, for instance, The New York Times did a story on Albany, N.Y.-based indie-rock eight-piece Sgt Dunbar and the Hobo Banned, who’d started a page on Kickstarter, a Web site used by artists and musicians to fund creative endeavors.

Anyway, Sgt. Dunbar needed $3,000 to make it to the annual South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas. And, sure enough, the Sgt. and his Hobos scratched up a pretty $3,782 from 97 donators, a very Obama-like grassroots effort, and the band made it across the country to the heart of the music scene. And they were heard.

The point: Talented people need help, more than ever—and even here in Sacramento.

Enter Dead Western.

Dead Western is Troy Mighty, longstanding freak-folk musician and visual artist, who’s been writing songs in Sacramento for more than a decade (watch SN&R’s exclusive “Sight for Sound Advice” video interview next week at His latest album, Suckle at the Supple Teats of Time, dropped in late March on Germany-based Discorporate Records. Like so many local talents, Dead Western’s fan base abroad grossly offsets his popularity here in town—which is not to say he’s not well-liked or admired. It’s just that, maybe, the world has more worldly tastes than the average Sacramentan. Go figure.

At any rate, Suckle at the Supple Teats of Time (just love writing that) is a 10-track opus recorded here by Tony Cale, featuring drummer Kevin Corcoran and bassist Jesse Phillips and other locals. The style is freak folk—wandering acoustic guitar, sublime and dark arrangements, strange progressions—but the kicker is Mighty’s inimitable singing style.

I’ve heard a lot of people opine his voice. Some adore it, suggesting Mighty should read books-on-CD for a living. Others cringe. Personally, I’m a believer: Dead Western’s deep, gloomy baritone hovers barely in key while flirting with total dissonant glottal meltdown. On “Not Really Here at All,” off Suckle at the Supple Teats of Time (ahh!), he sings over a steady guitar arpeggio and intermittent xylophone taps, his voice a tiny earthquake of the Adam’s apple, then a riptide guffaw of explosive-larynx proportions. Then a children’s choir joins him to chant: “Please keep your weapons out of space. / Please throw your weapons in the garbage can.”

It’s a great voice. And song. And the entire world should hear it. Or at least Europe.

Which brings us back to Kickstarter and funding Dead Western’s freak-folk tour: All you have to do is visit his page,, and donate. Prizes for the benevolent include copies of Suckle at the Supple Teats of Time (mmm!), screen-printed T-shirts and, if you donate $250, Dead Western will write a song exclusively for you.

If he makes his goal of $1,500 by May 31, he’s Europe-bound (and you get stuff). If he doesn’t—forbid!—then all pledges are returned, and he’ll be trapped in Sacramento.

So, freakin’ A, get online and donate now.