Podcast Review: The Lion in Tweed

synopsis:

The Lion in Tweed is a podcast featuring blues/country/folk music and storytelling featuring a well-groomed, well-spoken, well-educated American Lion.

review:

Artwork by Winston Rowntree of the webcomic Subnormality.

I started listening to The Lion in Tweed after hearing about it on the 47th episode of My Brother, My Brother and Me, entitled “Sleeve It”. It sounded like something that I would enjoy, the fictionalized life of a college professor of economics who plays folk music on the side (and is also a lion), and the musical element was something exciting.

Plus, anyone advertising on the Maximum Fun network has to be doing something right.

So, fairly soon after hearing about it, I downloaded the first episode and started listening to it later that night. Straight away, the blend of storytelling and music made sense to me. It wasn’t forced, the songs were real songs, not direct commentary on a situation or character, indeed there was very little in the way of situation or character, just a solitary figure performing music to what appeared to be a largely indifferent crowd of his peers.

But, through the music, through the vocalized thoughts of the character, through the situation itself, a very clear, very relatable figure emerged, standing in the face of the crowd, performing his story and hoping for a response.

It’s a very human moment, a fitting introduction that flutters between the world of the Lion and of his struggles, and the world of creator Andreas “duus” Pape, bringing the Lion and the music to life, to be performed and to hope for a response.

Following episodes generally continue this theme of the performance of songs (by the Lion) combined with the narrative (of the Lion’s life), though presented in different ways and to different degrees. An episode might, for example, tell the story of a journey through the city streets of San Francisco interspersed with musical refrains and Bill Cosby, or it might be as simple as the retelling and the performance of a gig.

The world created is one bound in bright streets and dark, dimly lit auditoriums, romanticized reality and of an almost noir-ish quality. People shuffle in and out, from shadows in the background to a momentary voice, a noticed characteristic or a fleeting shared experience, then return to the abyss.

This is definitely reflected in the music, generally the performance of the Lion alone, with a small tool-kit of acoustic instruments – a guitar, a harmonica. The music definitely has a timeless quality, with deep roots in American culture and traditional aesthetics.

Above: pre-Lion in Tweed performance of “Green Valleys of Tennessee” from the album “The Big Hit” by Andreas Duus Pape

The semi-autobiographical nature is strong, but there is enough fiction in the woodwork that the listener cannot truly call the world Earth, and you really get the feeling that each episode is a slice of a world beyond the corners of our own, of its own time and space.

In this, again, the dual nature of character and creator seems to come through, just as the Lion seems to be an expression of something within Andreas, the world itself seems to come wrenched from an idealized place, a pocket where things are always happening, art is frequently discussed, drama is always evident, and the music is always playing.

Adding to this, several episodes end with information about where ideas brought up in the podcast came from, or commentary on the inspirations and influences behind the episode, or the podcast in general, encapsulating and contextualizing the world as fiction but also bridging a definite link to reality within.

More recently, further characters have begun to be brought into the fold, with Mutton Red’s appearance in the fifth episode. It’s unclear how this shall progress or how a third-person limited perspective will affect the development of other characters in what is every inch the Lion’s story, but I hope it works out, because I have a lot of love for this podcast and I would very much like to see it continue.

Hopefully, you’ll like it too.

The Lion in Tweed is available here and on iTunes, and an interview with creator Andreas “duus” Pape will be available for download soon.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Building intimate performance venues on the internet « Sounding Out!
  2. Dr. A. Duus Pape
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 17:10:11

    Thanks for this thoughtful review, Will! I really appreciate it.

    Reply

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