Aug. 6, 2012. Tucked neatly between the Mellow Mushroom and the Southern States Cooperative on South Water Street, you will find Proper, the restuarant of “Respectable, Correct, Genuine” home-style southern food.
Since Angela Kelly opened Proper in May of 2010 the quaint building has grown to be a staple of the Boone restaurant scene. Located in the old jail house building, Proper’s selection of food blends perfectly with the ancient building’s atmosphere. Adding some down-home traditional folk music would seem to make sense, given Proper’s unique sense of style and service.
Enter Clifton Hicks, Jeremiah Campbell and Douglas Francisco, or the Poor Wicked Souls, if you please.
Douglas, sadly, could not be present for the group’s most recent performance.
Video by Ethan Woodhouse
“They pretty much just showed up one day and started playing and everybody loved it,” Kelly says. “It was a sound people were comfortable with. I think it’s easy for people to listen to them, or talk to their friends and enjoy their food. It’s just that kind of music.It’s definitely a really old building. It fits perfectly with the king of music they play. They all have a stage presence, and they do sometimes dress the part. They look like they raided their grandfather’s closet.””
Of course, the rambling crew of 20-somethings did not just wander to Proper’s front porch and begin serenading diners. In fact, the groups coming-together could be perceived as something of fate.
Clifton, or Clif for short, hails from Gainesville, Fla. Douglas and Jeremiah come from out west, Arizona, to be more precise. Clif and Jeremiah met on a cold October day in 2007 while busking on King Street.
“When I first met this guy, I was like, Wow…I don’t know about this guy,” Jeremiah says of his first encounter with Clif. “He was walking down King Street without a shirt on or something, with a banjo slung over his shoulder.”
Clif denies the topless first encounter.
“Really? Me?” he askes. “He (Jeremiah)is the only guy I know who walks around without a shirt on. I don’t go into populated areas topless.” But regardless of circumstances, the two immediately clicked as musicians and played together for a few years, until Jeremiah was called back to Arizona last winter, throwing their musical partnership into limbo.
Instead, Jeremiah returned several months later, Douglas in tow. The three musicians combined forces and lifted their band name straight from a Hank Williams tune, where the legendary country star sings, “when judgement comes, money won’t save your old wicked soul.”
The three musicians occasionally switch up instrumentation, but Clif typically plays banjo, Jeremiah the rhythm guitar and Douglas the lap steel. Before the addition of Douglas, Clif acknowledges their was a bit of a hole in their sound.
“Traditional music tends to be fiddle-dominated,” Clif said. “Normally, the music is built around that (the fiddle), but we didn’t have a fiddle.” So with Douglas’ 1932 lap steel guitar thrown in the mix, the fiddle void was effectively filled.
Douglas had played in a classically inspired string quartet in Arizona known as “The Missing Parts,” fittingly, considering the role he would soon fill with the Poor Wicked Souls. He also has experience playing in some form of thrash-metal style band and his musical prowess extends from the saxophone to the stand-up bass.
“I don’t want to use the word fusion,” Clif said. “But we don’t play particularly traditional music. It’s unique.”
Now you can find the Old Wicked Souls doing their thing at Proper on Thursday evenings, beginning at 6 p.m. or at the Sunday Brunch around Noon.
“They’ll probably play through the summer and into the fall, while it’s still busy up here and the weather’s nice,” Kelly said. “I’m still kind of surprised when they show up.”
Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a unique brand of traditional music with Proper’s well-established cuisine. Knowing these guys, they could be back on the road to Arizona sooner than expected.