Lord Buckley resurrects in Brattleboro to `Dig Infinity!'

BRATTLEBORO — Richard "Lord" Buckley was a 1940/'50s American proto-rapper, humorist and storyteller, known for transforming Bible stories, Shakespeare,classic myths and legends and history into one-of-a-kind beat monologues combining Black Street argot and the King's English into a jazzy patois and worldview that anticipated psychedelia and rap by decades.

"Dig Infinity!," a one-man, multi-media show exploring cult hero Lord Buckley's life and legacy will be performed for one night only on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. at 118Elliot, 118 Elliot St. Tickets are $10 at the door. A reception with"Lord Buckley" will follow the performance.

Written,directed and performed by Oliver Trager, with musical accompaniment by Derrick Jordan, "Dig Infinity" is loosely based on author Trager's fascinating Lord Buckley biography published in 2002.Other Trager books include "The American Book of the Dead: The Definitive Grateful Dead Encyclopedia" (Simon & Schuster,1997) and "Keys to The Rain: The Definitive Bob Dylan Encyclopedia" (Billboard Books, 2004), both reference books cataloging and critiquing the music and legacy of these artistic icons.When Lord Buckley died mysteriously in 1960, jazz greats Ornette Coleman and Dizzy Gillespie played at his funeral, but his phantastic monologues and crackpot couture reknown spanned far beyond the jazz world. His importance to contemporary culture cannot be underestimated. His influence on Bob Dylan (he was a hipster, bebop preacher who defies category), the Beatles, Grateful Dead, Robin Williams, Bill T. Jones, David Bowie, Henry Miller, Ken Kesey, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, George Carlin, Arlo Guthrie (who said Buckley inspired "Alice's Restaurant"), Whoopi Goldberg, James Taylor, Roseanne, Jimmy Buffett, Joan Baez, Julie Taymor, Jonathan Winters, among others, is well documented; Many are interviewed in Trager's book.

"Dig Infinity!" transpires in a surreal radio station where, on a midnight after his death, Lord Buckley spins out his life story while demonstrating his signature material. As Buckley holds forth, a dialogue with the audience is interspersed with flashbacks to various points in Lord Buckley's life, the conversation shifts into a discussion about the importance of truth and art, a topic which includes a trip to Hades and a cameo by God as it becomes increasingly apparent that Lord Buckley is bargaining for his very soul.

Buckley's career spanned stints as a Depression-era dance marathon emcee and favorite of Al Capone's Windy City dives to a high sahib of the Beat Generation as an early adapter of psychedelics. "Buckley was sort of the real-life Forrest Gump or Zelig of the American underground and has remained a talismanic cipher since his mysterious death in 1960," Trager said. "The torch he lit was effectively grabbed by Lenny Bruce and the folk protest movement of the late 1950s and early '60s."

"DigInfinity!" played at the 2015 Fringe NYC Festival to five full houses, fine reviews and a splashy write-up in "The New Yorker."118 Elliot is a community arts and performance space in Downtown Brattleboro. For more information visit 118 Elliot.org


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