Crazy   talented = Adam Brodsky

February 21, 2002

Philly musician tells it like it is in his irreverent antifolk music.

Puree the poetic wisdom of early Bob Dylan ("The times they are a-changing'") with the three-chord blare of the Ramones ("I wanna be sedated") and the resulting concoction might end up sounding like Philadelphia "antifolk" musician Adam Brodsky. Antifolk? Great, just what we need. Another confusing subgenre. Not that Brodsky on Monday was overly concerned with illuminating the finer points of antifolk before his Iowa debut on Friday night at Java Joes Coffeehouse. He was busy in the suds. "I'm at my dad's doin laundry, 'cause that's the rock 'n' roll way," he said from Philly.

Brodsky's ribald, breakneck acoustic guitar-based songs are a hybrid of, as he put it, (A) "punk rock before it was ruined by the Sex Pistols and the British Invasion" and (B) "folk music before it was ruined by the singer-songwriters." To review: Folk   punk - antifolk. The front cover of Brodsky's latest CD, "Folk Remedy," bears a promise/warning: "Guaranteed to offend." The back cover bears another: "If ears bleed discontinue usage and administer Gin Blossoms immediately."

Contained within are 15 blasphemous tracks that mine equally his insecurities (the chorus of a love song goes "I can't believe that you let me have sex with you") and fantasies (the song "Amy and Ani" concerns, respectively but with maximum irreverence, more famous musicians Grant and DiFranco). "I went out there and found it was easier to spaz than to fingerpick," Brodsky explained of his musical emergence in the 90s. His day job as he wrangled with his muse? Brodsky drove a doughnut truck a couple of time a week, a lax schedule that gave him "real-deal Generation X" credentials, he bragged. Mondays he actually peeled himself off his parents sofa to test his songs in front of an audience at an open mic night.

These days, Brodsky the songwriter sometimes feels like he's "perpetually scraping the inside of a mayonnaise jar that doesn't  have any more Hellman's in it," but his first 40 or so songs gushed forth.

"I actually thought I invented antifolk," he said. But, in 1996, Brodsky connected with a teeming New York scene where similar artists already had been signed by major record labels and promptly dropped.

Undeterred, Brodsky clawed his way from club to club across the country by cultivating a broad audience. Flexibility is his middle name, although that's not the F-word he most often drops in song. "I can play in an all ages weenie folk room, and I can also open for a hardcore band," he said.

At a family restaurant/microbrewery in Delaware, Brodsky once was railed by an irate audience member for playing "Jump on a Cross and Die" on Good Friday, so he developed what he calls a tamer "wedding set." For adults' ears only he unleashes "Everyone's F***** in the Head" in its full explicit glory, in front of families the song becomes "Everyone's Touched in the Head." Ever heard the adage that comedy = tragedy   time? Well, Brodsky believes wholeheartedly in deleting time from that equation. The eager rapid slayer of sacred cows subscribes to "funny is funny" -- period.

"I hate the hypocrisy of everyone," he huffed.

Look out, Iowa. You were warned.

by Kyle Munson, The Des Moines Register