Hieronymus Bogs

Bogs in Democrat & Chronicle

WRITTEN BY JEFF SPEVAK | Staff music critic

Imagine George Harrison turned loose in a toy store. That’s A. Bogs, a Rochester musician who celebrates the release of his new Bogs Visionary Orchestra CD Alas, Alas, Alas! with a 7:30 p.m. Friday (Dec. 14) show at Bernunzio Uptown Music, 122 East Ave.

A devotee of “outsider art,” Alexander Bogs’ passion for creating difficult-to-interpret art objects fashioned from found objects is matched by his wildly obtuse musical compositions. On Alas, Alas, Alas!, Bogs picks up Rochester musicians here and there and plops them onto the sonic canvas. It’s mostly folks from the roots music scene, including Timothy Dick of Auld Lang Syne, who contributes the beautiful, desperately lost piano chords of the opening track, “Far Off & Gone.”

 Eclectic sounds and off-kilter riffs are scattered throughout the album. There’s an alarm clock on “Sorrow Working Overtime,” whose circus atmosphere brings to mind the much-missed Colorblind James Experience. And wind chimes on “It’s Not Easy to Give Thanks.” Bogs’ banjo is appropriately menacing on “Some Dark Hollow,” and soulfully plaintive on the spiritually epic gunfighter poem, “The Sad Procession of Jesse James.” The Far East seems to be an influence, although the far east we’re probably talking about might be some unmapped section of Jupiter. Educated ears will pick up the Beat writers, various jug bands, 1920s blues and jazz and a hint of The Beatles on “Poor Boy Fool.”

 The lyrics, with their outsider hippie ethos, are a fit for the music, as is Bogs’ frequent penchant for performing in face paint and odd costumes. But sometimes Bogs thinks a little more seriously: “There is no consolation when a young soldier dies, when bodies are broken in vain,” he laments in the anti-war “No Consolation,” the deadly seriousness of the words leavened — perhaps even sharpened — by the contrast of a loopy jaw harp and trilling flute.

 Bogs has two more free performances this weekend. Saturday (Dec. 15) he’s at the Holiday Art Bazaar at The Yards, the gallery space above Cure at the Rochester Public Market. The Bazaar runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday (Dec. 18) he’s at Abilene Bar and Lounge, 153 Liberty Pole Way, in conjunction with the Artisan Craft and Music Night, which goes from 6 to 10 p.m. upstairs.