The NHL playoffs have come and gone, some terrific beards were grown, some, not so much (Sidney Crosby really did have a Three Musketeers thing going on). Following in that great tradition, and recognising that as a man I just flat-out respect a great beard, I thought about my favourite musical beards. No, the beards alone don’t make music, but I’d like to think that without their beards these artists wouldn’t quite be the same. Going along with the hockey playoff beard thing, I tried to think of a suitable position for each artist, and put them on a hockey card… I mean I could have just made a countdown, but this is more fun. Enjoy, discuss, debate…
First Team All-Beard
LW- Robin Pecknold
Okay, he’s probably not going to be considered a power forward in any league with his build, but Pecknold is definitely a skilled player whose voice can put the bread in the basket for Fleet Foxes. Coupled with linemate J. Tillman, I can see Pecknold putting up big numbers for many years to come. His beard is the awesome kind of “I just woke up after sleeping in the Ragged Wood” look.
C – J. Tillman
Individually, Tillman is a force to be reckoned with. Look at the powerful imagery of man and beard and falcon (?!?!). That’s pretty badass. Anyone who messes with falconry deserves props. He is Steel on Steel. His latest solo work is stellar, while he continues to throw his lot in with the boys in Fleet Foxes, a terrific team out of Seattle.
RW – Ray LaMontagne
Ray “You Can Bring Me Flowers When I’m Dead” LaMontagne is the grit on this front line. His voice is like raspberry juice and his beard is the pinnacle of mankind. Does that make me Crazy? Ray is wearing 2008-2009’s Most Valuable Beard.
D – Dan Auerbach
Dan Auerbach’s neat, yet overgrown ginger beard is the likes of which only someone who’s won two consecutive Stanley Cups (without shaving) could come up with. Maybe it shouldn’t surprise anyone that when it comes to talent, he Keep It Hid, like any good defensive defenseman, though his career with The Black Keys should let everyone know he’s got some offense, too.
D – Joe Purdy
Understated beards can sometimes be the best beards. The artist who prefers to self-release his album, Canyon Joe appropriately keeps his beard under control, with great effect.
G – Will Oldham
More pseudonyms than the witness protection program, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s facial hair is no different, allowing a scraggily beard at one point, while trimming it to a dashing mustache/soul patch combo at another (see above). Don’t let his baldness up top fool you, though, when it comes to the beard Will Oldham is a Wolf Among Wolves, and just eccentric enough to be a goalie.
Second Team All-Beard:
LW – Sam Roberts
Flying down the wing comes our only Canadian beard on the list. You’d have to assume that being Canadian means Sam Roberts is a) good at hockey and b) good at growing a beard (in the winter it is an essential accessory). Don’t Walk Away, Eileen, you know you dig the beard.
C – Sam Beam
Otherwise known as Iron & Wine, Sam Beam’s beard looks like it was forged out of iron and wine, the result of decades of alcoholism and blacksmithing. While I can’t confirm any of that, it’s probable. About as probable as J.Tillman’s amateur falconry. No, Sam Beam is more likely just a Boy With A Coin, and nothing more.
RW – Damien Rice
What I like about Damien Rice’s beard is that it’s the every-man’s beard. Sure, it takes a special sort to grow the shag rug that Ray LaMontagne calls facial hair, the kind we celebrate on these lists, but Rice’s beard, like his music, has a vulnerability to it. It’s imperfect (which is the biggest reason why he is my favourite solo artist). If you still don’t believe me that Rice belongs on the second line, check out this rad performance of “To Love Somebody”, where he does his thing and Ray does his, and you’ll probably agree LaMontagne has the better beard.
D – Kyp Malone
It’s a Golden Age for beards, and TV on the Radio beard aficionado Kyp Malone’s facial hair is in the game. If it was running on beard equity it would have tripled in value in the last five years alone, driven by sub-prime hipster irony. I really hope the beard bubble doesn’t burst because I have no desire to see a clean-shaven Kyp Malone.
D – Devendra Banhart
If I Remember, Devendra Banhart (Banhart, not “Barnhart”: typo on the hockey card. mea culpa. [Devendra, you have no right to complain, as you’ve got two ridiculous names]) managed to date Natalie Portman, while sporting this atrocious beard. Either he has some magic powers we don’t know about or we’ve overestimated Portman’s Harvard education. Devendra is the recipient of this season’s Luckiest Beard Award for that feat alone.
G – Joaquin Phoenix
Too hard to resist. Joaquin’s beard is as ridiculous as his music career. But man, what a conversation starter (“Can you believe that he named Joaquin to the second All-Beard team?” “I know!”). For his scraggily efforts, Joaquin is 2008-2009 Rookie Beard of the Year Award winner.