Marti Jones and Don Dixon may have been the great unheralded couple of 1980s pop. Jones was the singer in the A&M act Color Me Gone in the heyday of college radio, before moving on to a solo career marked by her smoky vocals and exquisite taste in material (from the likes of Elvis Costello, John Hiatt, Marshall Crenshaw and Graham Parker). Dixon, her husband, was one of the architects of R.E.M.'s jangly, mellifluous early sound, captured for the ages on the classic Murmur LP he co-produced. His own solo albums showed how much records like The Smithereens' Especially for You benefitted from his love of '60s psychedelia, garage rock and Merseybeat.
They both poured their strengths into her 1990 RCA label debut, Any Kind of Lie — a pure-pop jewel that focused on her songwriting and their studio chemistry (highlighted by a niftily nasty duet called "My Tears Are Poison" too hooky and ebullient to come off bitter). Over the past decade, however, her attention has turned more toward a burgeoning career as a painter — examples of which you can see here.
At 6 p.m. this Saturday, at LeQuire Gallery, 4304 Charlotte Ave., she'll exhibit a selection of her work in a show entitled "3D: Drinking, Dining and Dancing." The evening doubles as a CD release party for Irish singer-songwriter Kelley Ryan, whose new album Cocktails inspired the paintings on display. Jones (now going by Marti Jones Dixon), who's been co-writing with her, will perform with Ryan backed by Don Dixon and his longtime percussionist Jim Brock. The paintings will remain up through Nov. 10 — but the Saturday show sounds like a rare chance to see two of 1980s pop's most underrated artists, in a celebratory setting.
Below, a clip of the Dixons duetting on Dan Penn & Chips Moman's magnificent soul standard "The Dark End of the Street." (By the way: Why don't more people listen to Graham Parker these days? Start here.)