I don’t want to start mixing my pop culture metaphors, but Dick Prall is kind of like Andy Dufresne of “The Shawshank Redemption.”
If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll remember the scene towards the end when Red, played by Morgan Freeman, describes Dufresne as the man “who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side.”
Prall hasn’t lived a life — literally or metaphorically — that’s quite that bad, but there’s no escaping the fact that he’s been through a tough stretch. Talking with him, Prall’s open about his hardships. They’re not a cross he seems to bear, nor are they a particular badge of honor. Instead, they’re just facts, the hand he’s been dealt.
But first there’s Dickie, Prall’s new project with violinst Kristina Priceman and percussionist Colin Campbell, and the new album that comes with it.
“I started recording last January,” Prall said of Dickie’s inception. “I started working with (Priceman), who’s a talented violinist, (and Campbell), who’s a phenomenal drummer. We just clicked. The three of us worked really well together and had a lot of fun. It’s been the most fun I’ve had.”
But then the dam that was holding back that river broke.
“The record,” Prall says in a fit of understatement, “went off track.”
Prall lost both of his parents last year, two quick blows in rapid succession that rocked his world. Now, this year, Prall has been going through the upheaval of a divorce. It’s the kind of stuff that can give a man a drinking problem, if he doesn’t already have one, and it’s the kind of stuff that nobody blames you for if it makes you pull the shades and hide for a while.
But Prall kept crawling. And unlike Dufresne, who had to go it alone, Prall had his new bandmates.
“That camaraderie really grew,” he said. “It was just three friends playing together.”
And from the sound of things, the friends are sticking together.
“It’s a new direction,” Prall said, speaking of Dickie and its long-term prospects. “I can be a little A.D.D. about things, but we’ve talked about (the act) for the long haul. None of us would have gotten into it if we didn’t want to see how far we could take it.”
Sonically, the addition of a “band” (Prall never directly refers to it as such) allows Prall to explore in ways he hasn’t yet been able. He’s already established a reputation as an eclectic musician, with none of his previous five albums showing any strong ties to another, aside from Prall’s own voice. But Dickie has allowed Prall to get more expansive with his ideas.
“We’re looking at different textures and sounds that we can bring into it to play around with things,” he explained. “By no means are we just playing along to tracks. The three-piece sound just seems to work. We don’t need a constant bass player and we don’t need a keyboardist and we don’t need all these other elements that people think of in a traditional band, but that might just wind up standing there for long periods of time.”
These are heady times for Prall and his cohorts. The shows are stacking up fast and furious, and the new album — as much now an act of catharsis as an artistic endeavor — is nearly here.
“I just felt like I needed to put this record out,” Prall said. “Because I’d made this commitment to myself. Because I’d gone through all these things.”
Because he’s been forced to crawl through this river. But he’s nearly out the other side. CV