HIGH FREQUENCIES: Catching up with Abe Partridge
Multi-hyphenate creative has two shows planned for Atlanta
In his most ardent proselytizing, Bob Dylan preached, “Ya either got faith or ya got unbelief and there ain’t neutral ground.” Well, there is. Most of us walk it everyday. We don’t constantly play out spiritual warfare in our minds, allowing it to dictate our every move. We follow basic basic precepts — right and wrong, good versus bad — instead of seeing every action as a testament to our Belief. We live. We breathe. We make mistakes.
When Abe Partridge put down his Bible and picked up a guitar, neutral ground was not the path he chose. Once he started finding his voice — as a singer, as a songwriter, and as an artist — he began to referee his thoughts on first hearing Nirvana at 12 years of age with what he later learned in theological college — when he wasn’t getting thrown out. His battle is not one of “flesh and blood breaking down,” as Dylan admonished, but calling out the temptations of evil in a world that is far from black and white and where dichotomies are not so clearly defined.
His “sawngs” (his spelling) however, aren’t all sacred conundrums. He’s just as apt to tell a spellbinding tale of intrigue as he might offer a beautiful reflection on love and relationships. But it’s his keen observations on the downward spiral of our society and the resultant culture that make you smile, even laugh out loud, as he sticks an ice pick in the eyes of the many monsters we’ve allowed to inhabit our world as this country decomposes into the 21st century.
Partridge returns to Atlanta this Saturday, Feb. 11, for an event that is titled “Art Opening: The Visual Art and Music of Abe Partridge.” It could just as well be called “Art Opening: The Visual and Audio Art of Abe Partridge,” for his songs are as much aural paintings as his art echoes the gospel and spiritual hymns that sometimes inspire him.
Partridge first played this city in The Atlanta Room of Smith’s Olde Bar, in March of 2018. Somewhat timid and unsure of himself onstage, he filled the small room with tales from his then just released Cotton Fields and Blood for Days, a follow-up to 2016’s White Trash Lipstick. Since then, he’s returned to the area for house parties, concerts at Eddie’s Attic and and Eddie Owens Presents: Red Clay Music Foundry, as well as an art exhibit and performance at 378 Gallery just before the coronavirus pandemic had us sheltering in place, offering us no IRL contact with the outside world.
Partridge made the best of the pandemic years, focusing on his art, a process by which he covers a surface with tar, lets it dry, then carves lines into it creating images that are then colored inside the lines, creating “a pretty picture (out of some) pale gray night.”
In the five years since his dreams started to come true, Partridge has released at least three albums, toured both the U.S, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, appeared on Live From Mountain Stage, and solidified his position as an artist to be reckoned with, whether selling paintings out of his van after shows, at galleries, exhibitions and festivals — he’s become a regular at both the 30A Songwriters Festival and Finster Fest at Paradise Garden in Summerville, GA — or exhibiting his work at the Alabama Museum of Contemporary Art in Mobile. He’s also received high praise, not only in the pages of Creative Loafing and The Bitter Southerner, but most recently, on Chuck Reece’s new site, Salvation South. If that’s not enough, Partridge, along with his friend Ferril Gibbs launched a podcast, “Alabama Astronaut,” documenting the holiness of Pentecostal preachers and snake handlers Partridge visited throughout the southern Appalachia region when he refused to isolate himself during the pandemic of Summer, 2020. There’s also the “Alabama Astronauts” comic book and video marking the release of the first single from his upcoming album, Love In The Dark, set for an April 14 release.
Last fall, Partridge returned to Eddie’s Attic. It was the first time I had a chance to see him perform since his “Lost: But Found” art exhibit opening at 378 Gallery. The concert prompted me to respond in a social media post, “Happy to get a chance to see and hear Abe Partridge the other night at Eddie's Attic after three years of sheltering in place. He told tales, sang songs, and tore it up onstage, putting many who've played that hallowed stage to shame. What a fine performance. What a cleansing of the soul. What an offering of hope and redemption.”
"It hasn't been an overnight success," Partridge acknowledges as we discused his last five years during a recent telephone call, "but everyday seems to get a little bit better."
"Better to take your time, establish yourself," I assure him. "You wouldn't want everything to come at you all at once."
"No," he agrees, "what comes quickly also dies pretty quickly."
Mark your calendars. —CL—
Saturday, Feb. 11:
$free. 6-9:00 p.m. Performance at 7p.m. First Existentialist Congregation of Atlanta, 470 Candler Park Drive, Atlanta, 30307. (404) 378-5570. https://firstexistentialist.org/ Face masks recommended.
Sunday, April 16:
$15. 6 p.m. (early show). Eddie’s Attic, 515-B N. McDonough St., Decatur, 30030. 404-377-4976. eddiesattic.com