Tuesday, April 07, 2020

RIP John Prine

Americana Legend John Prine Dies at Age 73 Due to Coronavirus
Well damn...sad to hear...

Miles Davis - Birth of Cool - Documentary

Of course, Miles Davis is a familiar figure to me and I have some of his records, although I cannot say that I am all that knowledgeable about the man and his life, other than that he was a trumpet master and a junkie, oh, and he was briefly married to the gorgeous funk queen, Betty Davis.

I'm not sure how much more this documentary really filled out my knowledge of the man, but it does have some fantastic live and studio footage of his performances (some truly legendary names and shows here) and there are a lot of interviews with those who were close to him. Lots of musicians appear, as well as his first wife, Frances, but unfortunately, just a short mention (and a quick bit of live footage) of Betty and her considerable influence on Davis' musical journey. The man's own words narrate the story and give us his own interpretation of the intrigues of his life. Miles adapted and grew and created new styles of music even as he fought his inner demons, physical hardships and, of course, drink and drugs. Health issues caused him to take a several year hiatus, but he returned more popular than ever until his untimely death at the age of 65.

Well worth watching if only for the terrific footage, but it is also a good overview of the jazz movement in general and Miles and his important contemporaries in particular. Currently on Netflix - check it out!

Friday, April 03, 2020

A Year of Wonders - Geraldine Brooks

Brooks was a longtime foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, reporting from war torn areas around the world and had previously written two non fiction books about her escapades. This 2001 story, subtitled A Novel About the Plague, was recommended at the beginning of our current viral lockdown (along with Camus' The Plague, which is now a best seller and so it is comparatively costly) and seemed appropriate to consume in these troubled days.

This historical novel is based in the 1600's in the times of the Black Plague ,showing people's reactions to the scourge, from those retreating to religious extremism, to those who would capitalize upon it to those who went mad to those who grew stronger physically and emotionally due to their trials. Based on a true story of a small British village that self quarantined to avoid spreading the plague, Brooks imagines the struggles of the preacher's servant girl and, from her point of view, the horrors that the village endured as the sickness took a large percentage of the population. She survives and grows and discovers strengths she never knew she had, as we can only hope that others will do in our current times and comparatively easy quarantine.

Maybe a bit depressing, but quite well written and it shows that there can be hope even in the worst of times.

RIP Bill Withers

Bill Withers, Who Sang ‘Lean on Me’ and ‘Lovely Day,’ Dies at 81 
I loved "Ain't No Sunshine" and "Lean On Me" and still listen to them regularly (and "Use Me", of course!). Sorry to hear of his passing.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

RIP Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger

Fountains of Wayne frontman Adam Schlesinger dies from coronavirus complications at 52

Monday, March 30, 2020

Rob's Bellfry

Here's the title song written for The Psyatics 4th album.  This was very much a reactionary tune in the wake of a Trump presidency.  Much worse things...whatever it is, things can always be worse...and now they are.  Not much comfort, but pointing it out with a bit of wit and a hook can't hurt.  Stay safe, Robt

 Much Worse Things Happen At Sea

Much worse things happen at sea. I don’t know what I was thinking
Ain’t dying from dysentery. I have clean water for drinking
The rats have yet to take over. Sirens don’t lure me to drown
The seas remain calm, we sing our psalms So why’s our ship going down?

Much worse things happen at sea, but we give these a wide berth
No women, they’re unlucky. Can’t risk sailing off the earth
And yet our captain’s a cad. Steers not with head, but with fist
Solution I see is mutiny To wit, we all must resist

So raise a glass for the ruling class
Allowing us to sail
Thank god for the land-owning, rich, white males

Much worse things happen at sea. No chance the ship gets shanghaied
We aren’t fighting off scurvy, or taking whips to our hides
And yet, there’s pirates aboard, threatening to drive us aground
We’re all bound to sink into the drink
What they mean by trickle-down

So lift your cup as we all drink up
While tearing down the sails
Thank god for the land-owning, rich, white males

Much worse things happen at sea. I don’t know what I was thinking
Ain’t dying from dysentery. I have clean water for drinking
The rats have yet to take over. Sirens don’t lure me to drown
The seas remain calm, we sing our psalms
So why’s our ship going down?

R. Bell

Sunday, March 29, 2020

RIP Alan Merrill

Alan Merrill, ‘I Love Rock ‘N Roll’ Writer, Dies at 69

Saturday, March 28, 2020

From Grand Funk to Grace by Kristopher Engelhardt

I've been a fan of Grand Funk Railroad at least since I first saw them on the In Concert TV show, in the early 70's. I loved their hit "We're An American Band" but really was knocked out by their early records where they were a high-energy, raw, rockin' rock'n'roll band (thanks to Kenne Highland for turnin' me on to at least a couple of those!). I even did a GFRR cover band for a while called TNUC. But, while I knew the basic info about the band, i never really heard the details of their story so I have been interested in books on the band, but this is the first that I have bought'n'owned (thanks Savers!) and while it is officially a Mark Farner bio obviously his time in GFRR figures prominently.

Despite their relatively young age, all three members of GFRR had played in various bands for a several years (including Mel's stint in ? and the Mysterions, where Mark and Don plundered him from) but once the formed GFRR and got Terry Knight to manage them, they were playing festivals within their first few gigs! An opening slot at the Atlanta Pop Festival was a ravin' success which solidified their status as a powerful live act. Their prestigious recording output - 10 (!!) albums in their first four (!!) years - gave their fans plenty of product to purchase when they weren't seeing the group live. The band became one of the biggest draws in the country, if not the world, and earned themselves plenty of money - or so they imagined. It turns out that manager Terry Knight had some underhanded financial doings and he was getting the bulk of the money - including over a million dollars from a single tour that he stashed away - while the band was still on salary. After years of acrimonious lawsuits, they eventually extricated themselves from him, but only after giving him almost everything that he wanted, except for the GFRR name (which Knight did coin).

Of course, the band then had their biggest radio hits - "We're An American Band", "Loco-Motion", "Some Kind of Wonderful" and "Bad Time To Be In Love" - before things started to go sour between the members and after a couple of more albums (one produced by Frank Zappa, of all people!), the group split.

More of the book than I would care for focuses on Mark's life after GFRR, including his breakup with his wife and various girlfriends before he - now in his 30's - started dating a 15 year old high school girl! Kinda creepy! He does marry her, but then has infidelity issues (on both sides) and on and on. They both find Jesus, which is a big focus of the book (hence the title) and that is fairly dull for me, as well. There is another large section that is focused on his ultra-right-wing politics and conspiracy theories, which makes for somewhat eye-rollin' reading and, along with Mark's friendship with Ted Nugent (although this was 20 or so years ago so who knows if they are still friends considering Ted's modern insanity), makes me wonder as to his current state of mind (and some family members seem to agree with me).

Unfortunately, this book is fairly low budget and does not really flow well - that coupled with the preachiness and right wing politics makes it hard to recommend. Sorry! Regardless, make sure you check out early GFRR recordings for some excellently trashy Detroit garage rock'n'roll!

Friday, March 27, 2020

RIP Dave Thomas of Bored

Former Magic Dirt Guitarist Dave Thomas Dies Aged 56 

I'm actually not familiar with Magic Dirt but I was a big fan of Bored. Sad to hear this news.

RIP Danny Mihm from the Flamin' Groovies/Phantom Movers

Danny Mihm of The Flamin’ Groovies Dies After Stroke 

Damn, this sucks - The Flamin' Groovies have been a major musical influence on me since I first was turned on to them in the early 70's (once again, thank you Kenne Highland!). Roy Loney's Phantom Movers were fantastic, as well!

Rob's Bellfry

(Here's another guest poster - I guess people are already getting bored with their free time! If anyone else wants to contribute, just lemme know! )

This is Rob from the Psyatics...I'm gonna share some lyrics with ya, because I'm going stir crazy, and I don't include them in our albums ;)
Today's COVID LOCKDOWN lyric is from my days in the Yeller Bellies, more recently from the new Psyatics album 'Devil You Know'...stay safe!

Here to Suffer

It seems the current price of original sin 
Is preventing the poor from being asked to join in 
The good book demands that we all join hands 
And bow down, accepting our fate 
But we’re all here to suffer, on this point I think we relate

There's a method to the slaughter, rounding up our sons and daughters
Sacked and drowned them in the waters, spare the rod and spoil the child                    
A lamentation for the meek. You inherit nothing being weak
Witness the crimson of the creek. In God's eyes, we're all defiled
         Savior on the mound and disciples in the mud
         Washing their hands with the innocents blood
         Preacher at the pulpit, parish in the pews               
         Ask the lord for guidance when they hear the news            
         We're here to suffer                  

Witness the sermon on amounts. Salvation offers no discounts
How much you give is tantamount to the value of your sins
(Pay up, everybody wins)                         
There's a method to the slaughter, rounding up our sons and daughters
Sacked and drowned them in the waters, spare the rod and spoil the child                    
A lamentation for the meek. You inherit nothing being weak
Witness the crimson of the creek. In God's eyes, we're all defiled

         Speaker at the podium, lemmings fill the joint
         Beg their lord's forgiveness from the lowest point
         President addresses while the nation falls for
         A policy resulting in a holy war
         We're here to suffer
It seems the current price of original sin 
Is preventing the poor from being asked to join in 
The good book demands that we all join hands 
And bow down, accepting our fate 
But we’re all here to suffer, on this point I think we relate
                                                                                               R. BELL

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Dirty Hooks - Kiss the Devil and Run

I picked up the Dirty Hooks 7 song CD after catching them the other night with Shanda and the Howlers (probably the last show that I'll see in a while) and being sufficiently impressed with their musical and vocal abilities. While their style is a bit more commercially oriented than my usual fare, they have enough rockin', bluesy energy, with touches of gospel and 50's r'n'r to catch my fancy. The musicianship is exemplary and the vocal interplay between bassist Bobby and drummer Jenine (she has a truly excellent blues/gospel voice and can rock the drums, as well) really makes the songs stand out. Guitarist Anthony uses various tones to keep things interesting in a soulful/grunge kinda way with maybe some Black Crowes/ Rolling Stones touches. The arrangements keep your attention with stops'n'starts, acapella vocal harmonies, dynamics and a variety of rhythms.

It's kinda surprising that our paths hadn't crossed before now as this band has been together for a number of years already, but with a little luck and the right push from the right people, I could imagine them crossing over into bigger and better things.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Neon Nurse Nikki's "Virtual" Nightcrawl

(Guest blog by Nikki Ruffling)

In an effort to try to keep things as normal as possible during this quarantine period, I have discovered a hidden gem among all the negativity: the Facebook/Instagram "live" performances. As I live alone, with no pets and a boyfriend who lives and is quarantined in Australia, one thing I am missing the most besides him is going to see my favorite bands perform! Now, I have found that these live performances on social media can feed my need and also provide a unique opportunity for musicians to overcome boredom and depression during this time. In this past week since the March 18th close down of live venues, I have seen 6 bands/musicians. The pros to this are I can have as many drinks as I want, lay around in my lounge clothes, and always have a seat in a non smoky atmosphere. Here's a little review of who I have seen so far:

First up was my friend Becky Lynn Blanca who lives in LA. She is a solo performer as well as the singer of Viva Los Blancos. Touring the world has been Becky's love and sadly when shows were canceled she needed an outlet. Almost everyday, she does a Facebook Live feed session singing and checking in with friends and family all over the world. She has a unique blend of blues, rockabilly, hillbilly and some jazz. She has a wonderfully refreshing voice, and amazing talent. Doing originals and covers, you can check her out at her FB page- Becky Lynn Blanca.

Next up is Patrick Genovese. Patrick has been playing around Las Vegas for longer than I have lived here. He has been part of talented couplings such as Strung out Sessions and The Parametrics, as well as his solo work. Pat plays all over town, in upscale steakhouses to local bars. Recently, Pat has gotten the position of General Manager of Craig Ranch Regional Park. I can't wait to see what he has in store once the quarantine is lifted for music at the stage there. Right now, Pat is doing live FB feeds playing covers, originals and has a positive mental attitude that is inspiring. You can check out his page at Patrick Genovese.

Saturday I watched No Que No on Instagram do a live feed house session with The Hideaway and If They Love You They'll Kill You. Sadly I didn't get screen shots of anyone but No Que No. No Que No is a premiere Latin Rockabilly band from Las Vegas. They are a swinging three piece and their performance made me want to get off the couch and dance !

The Hideaway is another high energy band, that makes you want to dance with their rocking tunes and stripped down lyrics. If They Love You They'll Kill You was an acoustic 2 piece on Saturday, they usually have a drummer and were doing some acoustic renderings of some of their best songs. You can find all of the bands under their band names on FB/IG.

Another daily Facebook live performer is Ken Osborne. Ken is 1/4 of the band The All-Togethers and he spends his hour or so playing TAT tunes, covers and live requests. I think that this would be hard to come off the cuff with tunes immediately, but Ken does this well. He infuses jokes, and honest talk in between and will cure you of any boredom you may experience. You can find his feeds on his FB page, or you can follow The All-Togethers on FB/IG.

 Next is Brandon Madejek. Brandon is also doing almost daily live feeds. Billed under his band Whiskey Breath, Brandon is outlaw country at its best. With a mix of cheeky lyrics and amazing vocals, Brandon also interacts well with the audience and takes requests. You can sit on your couch, have drinks with him and interact. It is fun and freestyle. Whiskey Breath is on FB/IG.

Lastly is Water Landing. Water Landing is pure punk pop fun. You can dance, you can sing, you can drink with these people and just let loose. The also do a mix of covers (spiced up) and originals. They did a full hour of songs and also took immediate requests of some of their greatest hits ! Just a great way to get rid of your blues !! They are also on FB/IG.

I will do more reviews as the weeks progress, I am hoping like all of us that this virus is controlled quickly and effectively. Be a good patient for Nurse Nikki-wash your hands, stay indoors if you are sick, don't hoard food, and be nice to your neighbors !

Saturday, March 21, 2020

RIP Kenny Rogers

Legendary country singer Kenny Rogers dies at 81 
Can't say I'm much of a fan of most of his music but the First Edition with "Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Condition Was In" was a solid 60's hit.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

No New York

Due to lack of space, our compilation albums are buried in a room separate from our stereo, still in boxes (we really have to do something about that some day), so I don't dig through them very often. But at some point I grabbed this one and, especially after reading about Suicide and similar bands of the era, decided to give it another spin.

I understand that some people have said that this record is not really all that representative of the bands or the time, but not having been there, this is what I have to go by! I have always dug James Chance's work and the Contortions here are a crazed, free jazz/punk collaboration with noisy saxophone colliding with feedbacking guitars and off-kilter rhythms and a touch of funkiness. Pretty freakin' great! I would have loved to have seen this live!

Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, led by Lydia Lunch, is much less jazz-oriented and is basically a punk rock band with weird start'n'stop rhythms and some screeching guitars backing Lydia's wailin' voice. Pretty interesting, but in a way, less musical than the wildness of the Contortions. Not sure if that's good or bad, just different! The intricacies of the Contortions grabbed me right away but the Jerks' minimalism took me a few songs to really dig, but dig them I do!

The band Mars is co-ed, with a female lead singer/guitarist, making them somewhat similar to the Jerks, but with a second guitar, bass'n'drums (female drummer), there is more musical interaction and creativeness. Plenty of openness, as well, but a lot going on with twists'n'turns from all members. Very cool.

DNA in pretty different with primitive drumming backing organ and crazed guitar churning from staccato insanity to dissonant chords. While it might all be planned out, it sounds a bit looser than some of the other groups here with pure cacophony staggering about within some punk rock backings.

I can't really say what I would have thought of this scene when it first appeared, as I was pretty r'n'r based, although I had an appreciation of jazz, Velvet-y noize and Funhouse madness, so it certainly would have been something wild to experience live. In any case, I can certainly say that I am a fan in today's world!

Scraper - Misery

I really enjoyed Scraper's minimalist punk rock set last month at the Double Down, so I picked up their LP, but haven't had a chance to really sit down with it until now.

The music is simple, stripped down (no leads to speak of in any of the songs) punk rock'n'roll, reminding me of bands like LA's the Urinals or maybe Wire, but with their own twist, of course. Everything is short'n'to the point, no excess anywhere, with sone memorable choruses and plenty of energy. It definitely reminds me of the early days of punk with buzzsaw guitars'n'snotty vocals dominated and everything wasn't a contest to see how fast you could play (although this is all high energy, but it's not out of control) or how sloppy you could play. As I say, this is minimalistic but the band is tight and they obviously don't equate "punk" with goofy vocals and overall sloppiness.

There is a bit of sameness here, with the songs having similar speeds and arrangements, but I still really relish this in a 70's/early 80's punk rock kinda way. See them for sure but pick this up in the meantime!

Shanda and the Howlers, the Dirty Hooks, If They Love You They'll Kill You at the Sand Dollar, Saturday Mar 14, 2020

With the current Covid-19 scare, plenty of shows are being cancelled all over the world, clubs are being temporarily closed and touring bands are postponing their trips, so people are jonesing for a fun night out. This was obvious last night as the Sand Dollar was jam-packed from start-to-finish with music lovers dancin', cheerin', drinkin' and, yes, rantin'n'ravin'!

Up first at a reasonable time was the somewhat awkwardly named If They Love You They'll Kill You, a punk rock'n'roll trio with some 50's influences but mostly playing simple and effective punk rock. Solid playing and singing all around - nothing flash, just doing what the songs need - with an open tuning/slide guitar finale adding some blues/rock influences as well. Nicely done!

Another trio, the Dirty Hooks, also combined some blues and 50's influences with more of a 70's hard rock'n'roll feel, but managed to make it all their own. Some truly superb vocals and harmonies from the rock solid bassist, Bobby, and the female drummer (Jenine - who was an excellent player as well as a soulful singer) with layers of varied guitar tones and keys from Anthony (I'm told that he's a Jack White fan and I can see a little of that in his playing, although he has his own style). Bobby played a bit of harmonica on their take on "Down By the Riverside" (their only cover) and finished with the full house on the dance floor and yellin' for more.

Then we got Shanda and the Howlers! With a set of classics from their two current records (they are getting ready to start on their third) mixed in with hep covers from the likes of Ruth Brown and a heapin' helping of brand new numbers like "Get Away Girl" and "The Girl's No Good", where Trevor excels on slide guitar, Luke trades off vocals with Shanda, and the sax and guitar intertwine riffs and harmonies. Turbo drove the drums throughout the night on their rockin' soul/blues and the dance floor was filled throughout the set.

Always an excellent time with these cats'n'kitten - ridiculous amount of talent on the stage with great songs and performances. I wasn't able to stick around for their second set, but I'm sure it was explosive!

Thank you to the Sand Dollar for giving us all a fun way to let off some steam after the craziness of this week's news. I hope everyone stays safe and healthy!

(PS - the calzone was top notch here, as well!)

Saturday, March 14, 2020

RIP Genesis P-Orridge

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Musician, Artist and Provocateur, Dies at 70 
A truly one-of-a-kind artist - their life was their performance and their art. Few people can truly say that...

ZZ Top - That Little Ol' Band From Texas

Of course, I "discovered" ZZ Top when they had their first mega hit with "La Grange" and "Tush" (#5 in the Chicago area, where I lived at the time) and loved the fact that they were able to get into the Top 40 with blues-based, heavy-guitar dominated rock'n'roll songs. Every cover band at the time had to do these songs ("Tush" was particularly popular due to its lack of innuendo) as well as their take on "Thunderbird" (somehow they got away with calling that their own song by naming it "Have You Heard") along with a few others from the time. Of course, they later added synthesizers and drum machines and became huge MTV stars, but rock'n'rollers still love them for their 70's pure guitar/bass/drums sounds and great songs.

Thankfully, this documentary focuses mostly on their early days with lots of period footage mixed in with animation and modern day interviews and performances. It's kind of amazing how they struggled simply due to where they were from, but they turned that into a gimmick and by the end of the 70's they were a huge touring band.

Of course, by then, after years of non-stop touring, they needed a break to clean up (particularly drummer Frank Beard - the beardless one) and recharge and they took a couple of years off (amazing that they were able to do that and make a come back) before returning with the MTV dominated album Eliminator. Certainly far from my favorite of theirs, but it made them stars and gawd bless 'em for it. The doc basically ends with this album, their biggest seller to date.

Fun doc, especially for the early footage. I listen to these cats regularly to this day (the early stuff, natch) and think I need to go pull out an album now!

Thursday, March 12, 2020

recommended gigs


Thursday Mar 12 - the Sheiks of Neptune with On Holiday, the Pluralses and Intoxicated Rejects at Evel Pie
Thursday Mar 12 - TV Party Tonight at the Double Down showing the movie Lenny with live music by the Soldiers of Destruction

Friday Mar 13 - The Hypnotiques at Casa di Amore
Friday Mar 13 - the New Waves at the House of Blues
Friday Mar 13 - Cromm Fallon, No Que No, the Hideaway, Dead at Midnight, Critical Ways at Starboard Tack

Saturday Mar 14 - Thor with the Sheiks of Neptune and Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre at Evel Pie
Saturday Mar 14 - Shanda and the Howlers, the Dirty Hooks, If They Love You They'll Kill You at the Sand Dollar
Saturday Mar 14 - the Souvenairs at the Golden Tiki
Saturday Mar 14 - the Unwieldies at the Dillinger
Saturday Mar 14 - Stagnetti's Cock, Fuckface, Skelton Crew at the Double Down
Saturday Mar 14 - Franks'n'Deans at Mickey Finns

Wednesday Mar 18 - Jam for Josh at Count Vamp'd with multiple bands

Saturday Mar 21 - Dirty Rock'n'Roll Dance Party's Brian Moy's birthday show at the Bunkhouse with the Control Freaks and more TBA

Sunday Mar 22 - the Lucitones, Dead at Midnite, No Que No at the Huntridge Tavern

Monday Mar 23 - the Pine Hill Haints at the Huntridge Tavern

Friday Mar 27 - The Psyatics CD release show with the Pine Hill Haints, Fuzz Solow and the Jagoffs at the Double Down

Sunday April 5 - The Hypnotiques at the Golden Tiki

Tuesday April 7 - Bridge City Sinners, Lawn Mower Death Riders, the Riflemen, Zabi at the Dive Bar

Thursday April 9 - the Delta Bombers, Rhyolite Sound, Shanda and the Howlers at Backstage Bar

Friday April 10 - the Delta Bombers, Cherry Rat, Reckless Ones at Backstage Bar

Saturday April 11 - the Delta Bombers, Reckless Ones, Pope Paul and the Illegals at Backstage Bar

Friday April 17 - the Unwieldies and Big Like Texas at the Goldmine Tavern

Wednesday April 22 - Jesse Daniel with the Rhyolite Sound at the Bunkhouse

Friday April 24 - The Psyatics with Fur Dixon's WTFukushima, the Implosions and VJ Atomic at the Double Down

Saturday May 9 - The Swamp Gospel  with the Holy Smokes at the Huntridge Tavern

Saturday May 16 - The Psyatics at the Double Down

May 21 through 25 - Punk Rock Bowling

Thursday May 21 - El Vez with Alice Bag, the Zeros, Sean Wheeler and Los Carajos at Fremont Country Club

Friday May 22 - Green Jelly, Monster Zero, De Phobic, Pottymouth at the Dive Bar

Saturday May 23 - Television at the Bunkhouse

Sunday June 7 - Thee Hypnotiques at the Golden Tiki

What have I forgotten? Lemme know

Sunday, March 08, 2020

The Swamp Gospel, the Implosions, Fuzz SoLow at the Huntridge Tavern, Saturday Mar 7, 2020

The Huntridge Tavern is always a fine place to hang out'n'rock out so we try to play there every couple of months or so. This evening we set up a night with good friends The Implosions and Fuzz SoLow for a fun time from start to finish.

As per usual, the Swamp Gospel opened with our set of soul salvation, snake handlin'n' strychnine sippin', with new songs (that we are currently recording) mixed with our old faves (faves to us, anyway!). Great response overall from old friends and new accolytes alike. (I know some friends took some pix so if anyone has any - send 'em over!) Thanks to everyone who came early and stuck around!

The Implosions are a co-ed band consisting of two rockin' couples who play a mixture of wild'n'wooly garage rock'n'roll and sexy'n'moody Crampsian numbers. Adrienne is a wild front woman with a powerful voice while husband Dave tackles'n'tangles the six-strings (his upgraded, homemade pedal board adding multiple, appropriate effects to his string-stranglin') and Clay'n'Denise hold down the rhythms with talent'n'style. Certainly one of my fave bands in town these days!

Fuzz SoLow is James "Fuzz" Berg playing solo (get it?) as a one-man band with his feet drivin' the percussion and effects pedals'n'splitters adding bass tones to his Stratocaster slayin'. A super talented guitarist, in this incarnation he blasts out funky blues (ala Howlin' Wolf) along with interpretations of such classics as Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression". Always entertaining, fun, funny and rockin'! He'll be playing with the Psyatics for their record release show at the Double Down on Mar 27, so be sure to check that one out!

The Huntridge is a super place to hang out and, on nights like this, enjoy some of Vegas' best music accompanied by cheap drinks! Thank you to the Huntridge crew for always being accommodating to our musical madness!

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Patti Smith - Devotion

After receiving M Train for Xmas (thanks hon!) I've been on a bit of a Patti Smith kick. I just finished a book that she referenced in M Train (The Wind Up Bird Chronicle) and I picked up this one of hers, as well.

This small (5"x6"-ish, 100 pages) tome includes Patti's fictional story, "Devotion", but also includes a personal narrative of her life's events leading up to and influencing the tale, along with some musings on writing in general and copies of some hand-written notes that she had compiled in preparation for the story.

The narrative of "Devotion" was inspired when she woke from a dream with her television on showing an ice skating competition and a graceful competitor thrilling her senses. Combining other impressions from her own promotional travels, Smith winds a tale of a young woman who only wants to skate and who falls prey - although somewhat voluntarily - to an admirer who promises her all she desires but fails to deliver in various ways, resulting in a tragic ending.

This novella is a bit too short for a book on its own, so it is bookmarked by her own travel musings and, as I said, handwritten notes - essentially the story almost completed with few corrections - and thoughts on "why I write", the subtitle of the book. Another fine'n'interesting work from this talented woman.

Friday, March 06, 2020

The Wind Up Bird Chronicle - Haruki Murakami

While not a rock'n'roll book by any stretch (I think the closest that it comes is when the main character wears a Van Halen t-shirt!), this was referenced in Patti Smith's M Train and sounded intriguing so I picked up a copy to peruse.

Here we encounter a young Japanese man named Toru Okada, whose life takes a wild and surrealistic turn after first quitting his job, which is followed by the disappearance of his cat and then his wife. From there he rendezvouses with increasingly strange characters before going through some fairly psychedelic' n'hallucinatory situations and gaining vaguely undescribed psychic powers. No one's motives are completely clear, including Okada's, as his steers himself through progressively odder directions and learns the tales of the people that he is now dealing with (that intertwine with his own experiences) in the search for his wife and cat. The "wind up bird" is a phrase that Okada believed that he coined, but which appears in nearly everyone's story at some point, always precursing an internal discovery or conflict or power, or possibly all of the above.

Although somewhat meandering, Murakami always keeps the reader engrossed'n'captivated and it can be difficult to put the book down. Most everything does resolved in the end, at least to some extent, but there are plenty of unanswered questions, as well. These days I read more biographies than fictional tales, but this was a nice diversion which might make me change my ways somewhat - we shall see. In any case, this is a strangely entertaining tale.