Photo by Photograph by by Dave Robles
Gary Wilson is a true son of Upstate New York.
Cult musician Gary Wilson — beloved by Beck, who once referred to him in a song lyric — has called San Diego home for decades. But the flamboyant fellow, fond of flinging flour onstage while covered in fake blood, admits, his heart lies in his hometown, 2762.3 miles to the East.
- Friday, June 14, 2019, 7 p.m.
1000 Scholars Drive,
Wilson brings his flour, blood, and paint to Che Café at UCSD on June 14. Wilson’s new album The King of Endicott, released in early February, takes place in Endicott, New York — but, as Wilson confesses, not so much the actual factual town, but memories sweetened as the years go by. The “thousand lights” in his new lyrics stem from a young Wilson sitting on his parents’ roof. “Because Endicott is a small town,” he elaborates, “you could see one thousand lights beaming from the house’s, the parks, the merry-go-rounds. As a child and teenager I would often sit on the roof of my parent’s home in those crisp, cool nights and stare in wonder at the lights of my lonely town.”
Over the King’s course, Wilson surveys streets, roads, lights, cruising, eating, drinking, dancing, and falling in love in this lonely town — although usually in “going-to” future tense. Describing good times that have not yet happened, so that, in the singer’s mind and the listener’s, they remain suspended in potential, in sweet anticipation. The reality may or may not live up to the anticipation, but never mind reality.
Playing and singing almost all the parts on his albums, Wilson often sounds isolated. But by-himself’s an emotional space he can hack. He currently pays the bills as a lounge keyboardist, backing Donnie Finnell; but he logged long hours at San Diego’s notorious Jolar arcade and adult entertainment store behind the desk as the night ground on and even the audience for dancing naked ladies dried up.
Management let Wilson put on (non-porn) movies, and they got him through those nights, which steadied his sanity. He loved Curse of the Demon with the ever-affable Dana Andrews; and Julie Harris in the original film version of The Haunting.
But Wilson’s favorite, his beacon over hundreds of overnight shifts, is the original Carnival of Souls, the only feature film from director Herk Harvey. “I saw that film as a young boy,” Wilson remembers, “on the big screen. I was around ten years old. It made an impact on me including the music with its lonely church organ music sound track.”
“Plus, it’s in black-and-white.”