First Person

The David Wax Museum turn up the volume

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Brian Rawson is senior advisor for community organizing at Oxfam America, and a musician who performs around Boston and Providence.

What’s the greater thrill? Watching the David Wax Museum live last week at the Royale in Boston? Or seeing the band emerge into success over the past several years from a mere twinkle in an Oxfam intern’s eye? If you haven’t yet heard their high-octane mix of rock, Mexican folk, and Americana, you should check it out now, before they become even more massive: The band just won the Boston Music Awards’ Song of the Year for “Harder Before It Gets Easier” and the video (below) also ranked in Paste Magazine’s top 10 videos of 2012.

Singer/guitarist David Wax is first and foremost a poet. I remember when we used to jam at Oxfam to whatever audience we could find – usually a couple of interns – and the comments (and adoration) would always turn to David’s lyrics. And I remember when he commented on the folk poetry of Mexico he would highlight the ironic humor, the crass poking fun at life’s heartbreaks, finding comedy in the tragedy of everyday life.

This was during his stint as fair trade coffee intern at Oxfam America. Fast forward several years, including one year of music study at the feet of Mexico’s traditional Son players, and David has brought humor, insight, and above all intensity to the stage. A line jumped out at me at last week’s Royale show: “Give me something /so goddamn true/ Salvador Allende/ in the final moments of the coup.”

As a friend and fan of David Wax Museum, another line also sticks with me: “the rise and fall/ of your chest… it’s not a word I’ve used but for the first time I feel blessed.” A year or so into his life as a touring musician, David returned to Oxfam to join a lunchtime jam session with some of our in-house musicians. Most of us played in muted volume and sang in hushed voices so as not to disturb colleagues working nearby. When it was David’s turn to lead a song, he belted it out full volume. “I don’t have any other way,” he said.

I think of this statement often as I watch the David Wax Museum rising, and their sound getting bigger.

OxfamBuzzList is a blog series about the movies, books, blogs, music, and more that have Oxfam staff and supporters talking. If you’d like to contribute a guest post or suggest a topic, please leave a comment below. Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Google+