Oxford Preview at The Daily Mississippian
The world falls silent when a rock star enters a room. A raspy, sultry voice that can fill auditoriums turns crowds into chaos.
Men want to be one. Women want to sleep with one. A rock star never goes unnoticed.
But few musicians ever achieve actual rock star status. Fortunately for Oxford, Greg Dulli is there.
Dulli, the ex-Afghan Whigs frontman, and his band The Twilight Singers, are bringing their dark brooding sound to Proud Larry’s this Wednesday on the first stop of their North America tour.
Dulli spent the better part of the ‘90s solidifying his reputation as a rock ‘n’ roll bad ass with The Afghan Whigs, a gritty rock band that infused their music with R&B, blues and soul.
But with that phase of his career is behind him, Dulli has had to find solace in other projects.
“The Twilight Singers have been around for eight or nine years, and it is one of my favorite things,” Dulli said. “I had another group called The Gutter Twins; I did some solo touring. I have just been working consistently.”
And that includes The Twilight Singers’ 25 shows abroad and a performance on The Late Show with David Letterman last Tuesday.
With this kind of public attention and the release of their new album “Dynamite Steps” in February, the only logical question is: Why are they launching their 23 city tour in Oxford?
According to Dulli, when friend Wright Thompson, ESPN reporter and Oxford resident, asked Dulli to perform in the small southern town, he did not hesitate to say yes.
“I came and visited last fall,” Dulli said. “I was here for the Kentucky game, and it was my pleasure to come and pull for Ole Miss. The town is beautiful and really nice.”
Whether the Southern Ohio native is the Rebel’s secret good luck charm or not, the town made an impression on Dulli. Of all the towns on his tour schedule, Oxford is the only one he has never played.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Dulli said. “I have no idea what to expect. It will be a virgin experience in Oxford.”
Although he may be new to Mississippi, that does not mean that Dulli is new to the South.
Citing a record collection of The Meters, James Booker and Dr. John, New Orleans rhythm, jazz and Zydeco funk have been exponentially influential to Dulli’s music. He has had a house in New Orleans for the past 14 years, and The Twilight Singers even recorded parts of their newest album in Bogalusa, La.
Known for his dark melodies, Dulli calls The Twilight Singers “a very eclectic group,” but a cajun, gravelly, dirt road influence can be clearly heard in all of his songs.
“I write the music first, always,” Dulli said. “I like the sounds of words. I’m very phonetic. So, after the melody, I put sounds to the music. Back in the old days, I would do a song I hadn’t finished, and people would think I was speaking in tongues.”
Just like the evasive lyrics, Dulli, himself, comes across as an enigma.
Pure sex oozes from his voice and passion pours forth from every guitar chord. He is a bad boy searching for religion or maybe someone who has given it up.
Regardless, the Twilight Singers’ new album will have you wanting more, and their performance at Proud Larry’s promises to consume you.
“Our shows move like waves, up and down,” Dulli said. “They are innately sexual.”