And for His Next Trick, Hopping Genres

And for His Next Trick, Hopping Genres


The songwriter and performer Dane Terry in his Brooklyn apartment. His new show, “Jupiter’s Lifeless Moons,” is his most structured yet.

Ben Sklar for The New York Times

In January 2011, the musician Dane Terry packed up his earthly possessions and drove from his native Ohio to New York, reaching his destination in a blizzard. “I parked my car with all my things in a snowbank,” he said. “When it melted out, I sold it.”

Selling your car is a true sign you are here to stay, and Mr. Terry has since embedded himself in a downtown scene that joyfully straddles the worlds of theater, pop music, performance art and cabaret. The 34-year-old (“I don’t lie on my Grindr profile,” he quipped) has appeared at genre-hopping venues like La MaMa and Joe’s Pub, and his new musical show, “Jupiter’s Lifeless Moons,” running Jan. 12 to 17 as part of the 13th Annual Coil Festival, is helping reopen Performance Space 122.

Growing up in Columbus, Mr. Terry wanted to be a magician. “I was interested in the idea of performing tricks, but what I actually wanted was real magic,” he said at a cafe in Park Slope, Brooklyn, a few subway stops from his home in Kensington. “When I found music, I realized that was the closest thing you could get.”

At age 12, he taught himself to play the piano, practicing for hours on end, and at 17, he started making money noodling away in lounges and at weddings. In his twenties, he toured the country with his friend Jordan O’Jordan, playing punk basements and D.I.Y. venues, and he has recorded a handful of albums and EPs.

Dane Terry performs “Fighter” Video by The Mug and Brush Sessions

Yet when this admirer of Jerry Lee Lewis-style boogie-woogie and musical narrative à la Laurie Anderson moved to New York, he joined the theater community. “The music people in New York, I think, still don’t know who I am, largely,” Mr. Terry said, not sounding regretful in the least.

“Jupiter’s Lifeless Moons,” which also features three guest musicians, is Mr. Terry’s most narratively structured outing yet, with a plot inspired by his stay in Cleveland last winter. (The show will be expanded into a multi-episode podcast for Night Vale Presents.) It is also the first time Mr. Terry has worked with a director, Ellie Heyman.

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