The new one man band

The one man band has always been a pillar of society, a community staple.Traditionally, one man bands march around with their arms in a flurry – bass drums thumping, kazzoos wheezing and crash cymbals smashing between knocky knees. Or they sit blowing a tinny harp, plucking a six string and thumping kick drums and cowbells.

Alas, the new millenium brings new things. One of the better of them is a new school of one man bands.

One of this new school will be making his way to Portland next week. He’s extra special because he created his own intrumental accompanyment, the magic pipe, and named his first album Songs in the Key of Beotch.

He is That 1 Guy. On the album That 1 Guy and the magic pipe perform 13 whole songs – funny, sad, sick and weird – all in the key of beotch.

The key of beotch isn’t an easily attainable one. It’s elusive to the point of non-existence. Some musicologists argue that all, or at least a few, musicians – especially one man bands – search for the key of beotch.

That 1 Guy is Mike Sullivan. The magic pipe is his instrument. It has been compared to a giant bong. Judah Gold of Bass Player Magazine said Sullivan is “like a one-man band plucked from the pages of Dr. Seuss.” It would appear this guy has it all figured out. He’s got a schtick that gets him more good press than Michael Jackson and some clever songs in the key of beotch to back it up.

The album’s goofy, dirty, crude and silly songs remind me of Ween, with their random new age space noise and metal arrangements for the magic pipe, sans mulleted backline. My girlfriend walked into the room after “It’s Raining Meat” made me spit Taco Bell chunks and asked “Is this a bad Nine Inch Nails remix?”The magic pipe must really be magic. With the aid of some new fangled electronics and the kitchen sink, Sullivan produces a unique sound that to the untrained ear could be coming from a whole gaggle of magic pipes.

Sullivan’s deep voice is almost as versatile as his magic pipe. Or maybe the magic pipe’s multitude of mysterious functions can make his voice momentarily as instrumental as Bobby McFeron’s.

He sings about “Steamin’ Hunks of Hot Love Chunks,” how “Some people get their eyes poked out by birds,” and yes, “Beotches.”

Sullivan started one man banding after a club owner dared him to. He came out later with a one string bass and other toys and improvised. The one string bass and toys eventually became the magic pipe and Sullivan began turning the improvisations into real songs in the key of beotch.

That 1 Guy’s performances in Portland next week should be damn entertaining, and if nothing else, very interesting.

Sullivan opens for Black Angel at Dante’s Thursday May 17 and for two damn fine multi-person groups, Saul Williams and 3 Leg Torso at the new club B Complex Friday May 18 (see story).

He also plays for free at a Popular Music Board PSU noon gig, and at the Northwest Music Millenium Friday May 18 at 5 p.m.

An ending joke: Q: What’s Snoop Dogg wash his socks in? A: Bleoch.