Whether solo, in a duo, with a full band or larger ensembles, Lydia Lunch has performed thousands of times around the world. The next is on Monday night for the Timucua Arts Foundation, and this evening she is joined by her longtime friend Joseph Keckler – a writer, musician, composer, current artist-in-residence in Dartmouth and a veteran of NPR’s Tiny Desk. Together they weave cathartic amalgams of music, spoken word and projections.
Lunch will also be the guest of honor at a pre-show reception earlier in the day at the Orange County Regional History Center. Lest you forget, the History Center currently houses the Figurehead: Music & Mayhem in the Orlando Underground Exhibition. And head character Jim Faherty and Lunch go back decades.
“The figurehead display is fantastic,” says Lunch, who features prominently on the show. “He’s done so many shows, brought so many people to Orlando. It’s a good thing that he’s recognized, and all the other people involved with Figurehead.”
Lydia’s relationship with Jim Faherty happened to begin with a letter that prompted her to call him.
“I called him,” she says, “and he didn’t think I called him. So we started booking shows with him, and I gotta give it to the guy who booked 30 spoken word gigs with me and Exene Cervenka — “Rude hieroglyphs.” I don’t think I’ve done 30 shows in the state since then would have! I don’t know how he did it, but that’s how it started.”
Lydia Lunch is one of the most compelling speakers of all disciplines in our lives, having released around three dozen albums over the last 40 years, in addition to countless EPs, singles, live recordings and collaborations with artists such as Einsturzenden Neubauten on Sonic Youth. She has also published a number of books and comics, at least 16 spoken word albums, and has an extensive experimental film career dating back to 1978. Not to mention Beth B’s acclaimed documentary. Lydia Lunch: The war is never overwhich premiered in 2019.
In 2019, Lunch also launched The Lydian Spin, a weekly podcast that draws on the wide range of personal and professional connections she has amassed. The podcast offers a more approachable version of an artist that some people find super intense and direct. While it may seem strange to say, time has softened Lydia somewhat as it becomes increasingly clear that she was right all along. Above all.
Having had personal and professional ties to Florida since the 1980s, and having waged a holy war against right-wing thugs before she even drove, Lunch shares our general concerns about the state’s political trajectory. And you’re going to hear a lot about that on Monday.
Lunch’s fan base is fiercely loyal, in part because she has been so loyal to her fans from day one – which to her was June 2, 1959, a Tuesday when she was born in Rochester, New York. At 16, she moved to New York City, arriving just in time to witness the dawn of punk and the beginnings of new wave, no wave and what would later become hip-hop. She was right in the thick of things as a teenager and still is today, 45 years later.
To call Lunch precocious would be an understatement. Their first band was Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, who had an outsized impact on pop culture despite releasing only a handful of tracks (around 12 minutes total length) in their three years of existence. They ended in 1979, but Lydia Lunch was just getting started. In the five decades that followed, she was positively epicentric in circles of iconic creators such as Debbie Harry, Poly Styrene, the Breeders, Kim Gordon and Exene Cervenka.
Lunch was and is a feminist icon whose influence can be felt across the spectrum of public life, not that she’s saying so.
Her relationship with the Sunshine State dates back at least to the late 1980s. Her Harry Crews project, starring Kim Gordon and Sadie Mae, was named after iconoclastic cult author Grit Lit and the prototypical Florida Man.
She has been in and around Central Florida longer than most people currently residing here, and she has watched the cultural scene evolve dramatically over that time. Crucial to this development was of course promoter Jim Faherty, in whose legacy she has played a prominent part over the years, and vice versa. Monday night is an opportunity to celebrate both of these legends, neither of whom will ever retire. Thank God.