Offbeat: Life (2016 KCRW RadioRace)

Offbeat Life.jpg

This piece was produced by The White Whale as part of The 24-Hour Radio Race from KCRW's Independent Producer Project. Features the voice of Don Chambers, a musician from Athens, GA. For more information on his work visit

Tape Extracts:

Everybody was trying to imitate everybody else because there was a set rule of this is how we're going to do this.

(narration from performance film) I went to the office that day only to see a sign tacked to the door. I was disappointed. I was confused, bewildered. So turned to the only man in town who I thought could help.

If you can get your ego out of the way and let it take on its own life then I think copy and imitation, I'm not afraid of those. You're looking for the ghost in the machine.

It started off with a film of Disneyworld. Like these were my personal films of my childhood in Disneyworld. At some point I had a friend of mine get up and give a lecture on why the Beatles ruined Rock and Roll. And then Pete sits back down and I was like "now ladies and gentlemen, Pete" and another guy came up dressed exactly like him, who does a good imitation of him, did the speech in an exaggerated form of what they'd just seen. This guy's good though, this guy, Curtis, my friend Curtis. 

The one year I was working at the bar and I stepped outside the bar and looked up the street and there was Vic Chesnutt on Halloween night, rolling down the street in his wheelchair with this acoustic guitar in his lap.

(narration from performance film) I was recently hired to copy the Encyclopedia Britannica. 

And it was Curtis doing Vic who he could do, he could do Vic Chesnutt better than Vic Chesnutt. Later that week they played a show. Curtis came out, introduced as Vic, Curtis came out and did a Vic song and then like halfway through the song Vic comes back with ropes on him as if he'd been tied up in the back. And Vic comes out and they end up doing the song together, but I swear Curtis' version of Vic was, what I remember was Curtis' version. 

(narration from performance film) Everyday was the same, and it suited me well.

I definitely am a strong believer in stealing. I'm a strong believer in trying to copy something as exactly as you can and when you go back and compare it to the original thing, and the part that didn't quite get that original thing, that part of it is you. I think borrowing and stealing, pull from wherever you can pull from. I think copying and imitation is a little tricky because copying is more of what I am talking about. 

I don't know if you've listened to the book on tape of Keith Richards' story, 'Life'. That's a really interesting book on tape. It starts off with a professional actor, British guy, reading Keith Richards' story. Then, about eight chapters in, Keith Richards reads a chapter of his own story. And Keith Richards doesn't sound nearly as Keith Richards-ish as the guy who was just doing it. I kinda wanna know who that is.

 Everybody is borrowing from somebody else constantly. You can't help it. It's part of being alive.