Around the time Paleface was learning from the lo-fi, outsider artist extraordinaire, he was also pals with future superstar Beck, hanging out in NYC’s Lower East Side together. In Annie Leibovitz’s book American Music, Beck said, “(Paleface) was a great songwriter, a generous friend, and a big influence on my early stuff.” Paleface was discovered by legendary Rock manager Danny Fields (Stooges, Doors, Ramones) in 1990 and soon had a major-label deal with Polydor.
Throughout the ’90s, Paleface label-hopped — working with producer Kramer and Shimmy Disc, as well as a brief stint on Sire — and toured with big artists of the time, like Crash Test Dummys and The Breeders. Despite widespread acclaim, some industry push and a strong fanbase of famous musicians, Paleface never quite managed to reach a sustainable level of mainstream success.
So he started doing things D.I.Y. and moved on to the next generation of eccentric Folk singer/songwriters, becoming buddies with The Moldy Peaches and Langhorne Slim and collaborating with others on numerous projects. In the middle of the decade, he met some fans/upstarts called The Avett Brothers and joined the group for some loose recording sessions that became Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Sessions (and the later Vol. 2). He remained friends with The Avetts as their star rose, collaborating with members (both on his albums and theirs) and opening shows, including one at Radio City Music Hall upon the release of his most recent effort, 2010’s One Big Party, put out by the Avett’s Ramseur Records.
Paleface performed as a duo for much of this period, with girlfriend Monica "Mo" Samalot on drums and vocals; recently, they’ve added Grey Revell, who produced Paleface’s debut for Ramseur, 2009’s The Show Is On The Road.
Starting as an “Antifolk” torchbearer, Paleface was a big influence on so-called “Freak Folk” as well as many artists from today’s enormously popular “Indie Folk” scene. He might not be the Woody Guthrie of the slanted, avant garde side of Folk music, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to call him the Bob Dylan of the increasingly popular styles. And Friday at downtown’s Arnold’s, you’ll have a chance to see and hear him in person for free.
PALEFACE performs Friday, Aug. 31 with Shiny and the Spoon at Arnold's downtown. Check out performance times and get venue details here.