Lee Chabowski


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Buy The CD at The Store Lee Chabowski used to play with the Rochester-based band Dog's Life, which released two CDs and got a bit of press. The album's a mixture of electric band performances, and two solo acoustic tunes. Chabowski has a black sense of humor. The acoustic "Shrunken Head," about a guy's adventure with a shrunken head found in a burlap bag while fishing, and what happens when the head meets a blue tick hound, is a page taken directly from Nick Lowe's "Marie Provost." "Clown Killer" is an electric song in the same mode. Overall, it's very much a punk-derived singer-songwriter, with lots of hooks, good guitars, and very twisted lyrics. Some of the songs get positively Ed Gein-ish (not something you get a lot of in rock music). This really short little CD (is this an EP, technically? Or just a really short album…) is sure to appeal to some of my friends with skewed pop sensibilities. (Kent H. Benjamin) -Pop Culture Press Fall 1998

This 8 song CD is packed full of stories of shrunken heads, snake charmers, X-ray glasses, and general mayhem under the big top. The music bounces along so merrily that it almost obscures the demented subject matter underneath, especially on the dark "Kidney Punch" about the abduction of a kid that no one seems to notice. This is all made more unsettling by Chabowski's innocently detached, slightly off-key vocal delivery. The drums (drum machine) on this album are credited to Bucky Lindsingham (of Macwood Fleet?) which gives a clue to the inspiration for the guitar textures found on many of these tunes. The actual CD is an irresistible lime green color that had Pookie craving Lifesavers and Skittles. Demented and deranged. Good Job! Pookie picks: The Big Show, Clown Killer -Pookie Charts…

May 9, 1998 - Lee Chabowski had a record release party for his most excellent EP, Drinky-Poo. He premiered his band, a 3-piece electric ensemble thing, but not before he had friends come up and sing his praises. Doing mini-opening sets for Lee were Curtis Eller, Chris Moore, Lach and Dina Dean. Each did three songs, and a couple saw fit to cover Lee's surf-pop pulp-culture songs. Lach debuted his version of a song that Lee had never played in New York, "Space Monster", and Chris Moore played the already well-known "Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sky," which inexplicably didn't make the cut on the CD. The acts who played were selected especially by Lee, who considered them, he explained, "Some of my favorite performers in New York City." It's understandable why he's so impressed with them. Curtis Eller, that banjo-playing traditionalist, stomps and sweats his way through numbers. He is so mournful in his approach, so soulful in his delivery, so powerful in his execution. Evidently, he's got a band, American Circus, which increases his presentation exponentially. Chris Moore, who has also put out an album recently, did some of his older material, material that Lee requested, as well as his Chabowski cover song. Chris Moore reeks of sincerity. He looks authentic. He's the realeal western folk thing. Dina Dean disappears for months at a time, then comes back to wow an audience. She hushes crowds. She speaks softly and carries a big impact. She then disappears again, and is horribly missed. For three songs, for Lee, she came out, then went undercover. Lach played too. Lach also did requested songs, numbers that Lee wanted to hear. The audience, too. It's little wonder that Lach is the architect of AntiFolk, with an aggressive abrasive style that can't help but get attention. He plays loud and fast and draws people to him. He also runs the club, so probably had to be on the bill. When Lee took the stage himself, it was with his new band, which could play the material on the album pretty damn well. They must've been practicing. Lee's material, which always seemed satisfying enough solo, sounds so much bigger, fuller, now that he has a band to back him up. He played electric for much of the set. As Pat Harper said at the time, "It was good." The Cucumbers followed to a still-packed house, playing songs from their upcoming Home Office Records release, as well as older songs, like their mid-eighties hit "My Boyfriend". Stephanie Biederman

AntiMatters June, 1998 Lee Chabowski – He's a true poet of morbidity. Not just anyone would think of describing a deadly plummet form an airplane as "your voyage to the bottom of the sky". He plays acoustic surf guitar and dishes out stories of bad-luck shrunken heads, junior high bullies getting their gruesome comeupance, headless surfers and clown killers. Not all of his songs are overtly about death. He's got some great lust songs, and a whole series of songs about the joys of Just Driving Around. But I would argue that even in most of these cases, death is lurking around somewhere in the background. Good for him. Life is fuller with death in the corner of your eye. The songs are paced remarkably well. Each verse brings a new twist to his plots, and his lyric hooks often change meaning over the course of several verses. (Thanks to Dina Dean for pointing that out) There's something humble and sweet about his delivery that makes the subject matter even more jarring, even funnier. Check him out You'll laugh, feel great, maybe leave a little more aware and less scared of scary things. I just wand to know if the missing part of the "Headless Surfer" is the voodoo head in "Shrunken Head"! Steve Espinola AntiMatters October 1997

The Tip:

Fun by Himself -Lee Chabowski-By Andrew MacDuffie

"As a child he was traumatized by a happy face painted on an evil man. Now he can never laugh again, no never again. He's a clown killer lost in the crowd under the big top." Right from the start of Lee Chabowski's CD, Drinky-Poo, you can sense the quirky fun that helped Dog's Life draw hundreds of fans to the bars of Rochester. For eight years Chabowski played guitar and wrote songs for Dog's Life, and with his solo CD he continues to explore his strange world of three-legged dogs, space monsters, and clown killers. Four years ago, after Dog's Life was put to sleep, Chabowski moved to Boston, where his wife, Margaret, attended graduate school. "I felt so unplugged when I was in Boston. I never got anything going there," he says. Attempts to get a full band together were futile. Chabowski kept a list of all the people that were spoken to about singing with him. The list grew to over 60 names before Lee gave up. After Margaret graduated, the Chabowskis moved to New York City. Still unable to find a band, Lee started performing solo at The Sidewalk Cafe, a well-known hang-out for antifolk artists. This gave him the opportunity to work on his own singing and the confidence to record an entire CD by himself. "The CD is all me, but I have an actual band. I didn't when I recorded the CD. When I had my CD release party I thought I ought to be able to play these full band arrangements. So I did the old New York thing of hiring a drummer." Margaret, who had no previous band experience, agreed to play bass. Her first gig was the CD release show.

Chabowski has a few of his New York singer/songwriter friends sing background vocals and Curtis Eller provides a circus vibe with his accordion playing on "Clown Killer." Scott Coblio, a.k.a. Koo Koo Boy, adds his strong voice to "Crazy Behind The Wheel." The cover artwork is by a former Rochesterian, J.Reto, who has contributed artwork to many local bands' releases, including Dog's Life, Koo Koo Boy, and Zezozose. The eight song CD has a few old Dog's Life songs that have been reworded. "Shrunken Head" now showcases the skills Chabowski sharpened at the Sidewalk Cafe and is performed acoustically. "Space Monster" and "Atomic Overload" also appear. New songs, such as "Clown Killer" and "Kidney Punch" show that Chabowski hasn't turned into a folkie by any stretch of the imagination. Clean, quirky pop music is what Chabowski does best, and he knows how to focus on his strengths."Former Dog's Life guitarist Chabowski steps out on his own with a short(23 min) but punchy collection of songs. Lee's ska/surf guitar tones take funny tunes like "Clown Killer", "Space Monster", and "Crazy Behind The Wheel" and jack them up nicely. He rocks with acoustic as well – "Shrunken Head is a hilarious They Might Be Giants kinda song. Although most listeners might center on "Between Walls", "Atomic Overload"(which was originally a bouncy pop tune for Dog's Life) is a surprisingly effective sparse ballad and probably his best vocal. Chabowski is no half wit, but his surreal take on life is refreshingly skewed left of center. -Dr. Bristol's Musical Prescription TransAction Magazine March/April 1999