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Film composer’s band gets name from site of mouse gig

By JACK W. HILL SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

This article was published May 9, 2013 at 3:02 a.m.

David Wingo chose Ola Podrida as the name for the live musical part of his identity, having had his first job working in a mouse suit outside a Dallas Mexican market named Olla Podrida.

“I was 14 years old at the time,” Wingo says, recalling that he also had his first beer at the time, or at least he was the target of a beer flung in his general direction by unruly hecklers.

Nowadays, Wingo splits his time between just being Wingo and being Ola Podrida, the latter of which will carry him to Little Rock for his first visit to central Arkansas, as he promotes a new album Ghosts Go Blind.

There is, however, an existing connection between Wingo and Little Rock. He wrote the score for Little Rock native Jeff Nichols’ acclaimed new film, Mud, and he has also worked with another filmmaker who was born in Little Rock, David Gordon Green, with whom Wingo grew up in Dallas from the age of 8.

“I did go to some of those southeast Arkansas locations where Jeff filmed Mud,” Wingo says. “I like to get a sense of place when I’m writing music for a film, and it was really magical out there on that island, which was off of an inlet of the Mississippi River.”

Wingo wrote 20 of 29 of the cuts on the Mud soundtrack (released April 23 by Lakeshore Records), making it the14th soundtrack he has contributed to, including Green’s All the Real Girls, The Sitter, and the forthcoming Prince Avalanche. It was while working with Green that Wingo first met Nichols.

“Right after meeting him I saw his film Shotgun Stories,” Wingo says, “and I had never heard his brother, Ben Nichols’ band, Lucero. He did this simple little guitar thing in that movie that stuck with me, and there was just an immediate connection with that film. As a result I worked with Jeff on his next film, Take Shelter, and then Mud.”

Ola Podrida, however, is a different part of Wingo’s creative life. He’s coming with a band (bassist, drummer and another guitarist) to back him on music that’s separate and distinct from his cinematic film scores.

“The first two Ola Podrida albums were mostly solo, gauzy-sounding stuff,” he says, “and they were recorded at home. I’ve made a slow progression to playing more electric guitar. I like doing something different from what I did before.”

The self-titled Ola Podrida debut came out in 2005, and its follow-up, Belly of the Lion, recorded when Wingo lived in Brooklyn, was released in 2009. The band has toured with or opened shows for She and Him, Beach House, Fleet Foxes and Explosions in the Sky.

As a boy growing up in Dallas, Wingo first found musical inspiration when his brother put on a record, Neil Young’s Live Rust. That planted the seed, he says, and when he heard R.E.M., he became even more obsessed with music.

“There was that very Southern thing with R.E.M., they were a little more mysterious,” Wingo says. “That was when I was about 15 and decided to take up guitar, and growing up with David Gordon Green, he turned me on to how music can work in movies by introducing me to Terrence Malick’s work, especially his film Days in Heaven. And it was a dream come true for all of us when Terrence produced David’s film, Undertow.

“Right now, in addition to Ola Podrida, I’m written the score for a documentary, Remote Area Medical, which is about a free three-day clinic in the mountains of Tennessee. I’m trying to balance working in films and Ola Podrida, and I moved back [to Texas] four years ago after moving around to Seattle, New Orleans and Brooklyn. I think I’m going to stay here in Austin.”

Ola Podrida

Opening acts: Kevin Kerby, Sam Walker

8:30 p.m. Friday, Vino’s,

West Seventh and Chester streets, Little Rock

Admission: $5

(501) 375-8466

vinosbrewpub.com

Weekend, Pages 34 on 05/09/2013

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