What do artists look for in the work of other artists?
Many people know Sandy Dyas as a photographer but don't know she also makes videos. In the Weeds is a music video she created featuring two songs of Bo Ramsey's (from his CD In the Weeds, also reviewed in this issue). "It really was a labor of love," Dyas told me. "I did it because the music inspired me to do it."
The sound is there before the picture arrives, scratchy Dylan on the truck radio. Then we're driving. Well, Bo is driving (you feel he's the kind of guy who always does the driving), and we're along for the ride. Not that Bo is paying much attention to us (you feel he's the kind of guy who keeps his own counsel). Maybe only a minute passes, it feels longer. In a good way. The film (you want to call it a film) takes its time, establishes a mood before the first song kicks in.
And I mean kicks. I have to watch it loud. But what I like most is how, as it unfolds, I get to go inside a place that, even with the music turned up, is kind of quiet and private. How does it happen?
Here's this guy, he's on the road, he's in the world. He's a working man. There's no story, but you get the picture. Bo's band wedged into the corner of some tiny club, no distance from the packed dance floor. The Iowa countryside, the graveyard, the back steps to the bar. More playing. The futon and the phone on the floor inside Bo's trailer. Moments that might be memory or dream. The black dog, wooden ladder, lit up carousel. And always more driving. Is this one long day or years of touring?
"It wasn't supposed to resemble anything on MTV," Dyas says. "Bo and I talked about that." She uses layering techniques and altered motion to get a filmic, out of time quality. There's no lip-synching. The rub between what's seen and what's heard creates an atmosphere something like the hum of inner life. There may be other music videos with this type of interiority, but I sure haven't seen one.
The more you watch it -- ten, fifteen, twenty viewings later -- the more it satisfies. And the more you feel that its taciturn star is someone you really like a lot. When I first saw this video, I wasn't familiar with Bo Ramsey's music. Now (you can tell), I'm a fan. I can't imagine a better introduction to his work. If you're interested in music videos or you hate music videos, if you already love Bo Ramsey or think you might be ready to get started, check it out.
What do artists look for in the work of other artists? I look for inspiration, for something in myself that gets lost until inspiration finds it. I don't want to be lulled into forgetting what I haven't done, I want to be reminded of what I care about and why. I want to feel it in my body. On the one hand, this is a low-budget music video that'll probably never be on your television (unless you buy a copy, while you can). On the other hand, it's art: made by an artist, inspired by an artist. And it inspires me. Kate Greenstreet
Buy the video direct from Sandy
out the Sandy Dyas website