Monthly Feature.

Brooklyn’s Last Waltz
Neckbeard Telecaster Brings Release to the Masses
May Feature 2008
Feature Article by Ben Krieger

Photo by Gregory Wilson  

There comes a point in every hard-working musician's career when it seems as if the fun is gone. And fun -- not fame -- was what motivated us to strap on the guitars in the first place. Neckbeard Telecaster is a reaction to that sense of loss. There isn't a stable band lineup, there aren't any records, you can't find their lyric sheets posted online, there aren't any plans, there aren't any attempts to book a show, and there isn’t anything close to regular rehearsals. There's a lot of really great music, a bit of the bubbly, beards and neck ties. That's pretty much all you need to know.

No, seriously. To mention that Neckbeard Telecaster is fronted by members of Dirty on Purpose (Joe Jurewicz ) and the Shorebirds (Mark Ephraim) certainly helps hype the group up, but it doesn't give you the faintest clue of what they sound like. If anything, the two singers contribute all the songs, that have been deemed too twangy by their other bands. Neckbeard Telecaster comes across as Brooklyn's own Last Waltz, a gathering of musical friends and acquaintances that just want to let off some steam... and happen to be incredibly entertaining while doing so.

Thankfully, there is a huge collection of videos from which the curious music fan can choose. Most of them are taped rehearsals or performances, but do a little digging and you might find some skateboard shenanigans as well. The videos reveal the amount of musical talent that bubbles beneath this collective. A lot of sharp playing drifts in and out of the mix and the harmonies are ragged and joyous. The music draws from country, folk and gospel... and the songs rarely contain more than two or three chords.

Neckbeard Telecaster never really plans to play anywhere. A friend contacts Jurewicz, asks if the band wants to do a show, he sends out an email to see who's around, prints out some lyrics sheets for a rehearsal at Death by Audio, and everyone shuffles onstage to jam when the date arrives. There's always a crowd because, at the very least, the 15+ guys on stage will bring at least a few friends to drink and cheer them on.

How the band was formed is not nearly as important as the fact that they did it; if Neckbeard Telecaster has no desire for traditional "success," they certainly want to spread the word about the joy of making music for the sheer pleasure of it. This joy has been driven from the life of many musicians. Jurewicz, along with co-singer Mark Ephraim, cite a need for community as one inspiration for forming this band. Jurewicz fondly remembers singing in church as a child, and for a while Neckbeard Telecaster's grand plan was to find a church to hold their musical happenings. But even that seems to be too much work for a bunch of guys already involved in "serious" projects. There is a lot of pressure being in a full-time rock band. To top it all off, a band could break up without warning, sending a lot of that hard work up in smoke. The members of Neckbeard Telecaster are all too aware of this and, admittedly, they crave the ambitious drive that they feel in their other projects. But unless they're going to burn out in the business, there has to be a balance. There has to be some uninhibited, lazy, fuck-if-I'm-going-to-work-today fun. For an ever-growing cast of male Brooklyn musicians, Neckbeard Telecaster answers this need. "The premise is that as long as no one takes it seriously, it will go on forever," explains Ephraim, "and as long as all the songs stay in C."

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