Several times riding around Hattiesburg, past the Humble building or Tbones during the days of the G-Bird or the Heidelberg Supercenter on Broadway – I have been caught cold by the thought of all the music being made and recorded across the U.S. at any given moment after dark. No doubt about it, amateur homemade recordings propel the music I love most. For several years past, Ryan Royals had been helping his friends fill tape and computer memory with their creativity in an extra bedroom in his home (and the kitchen for necessary isolation). After learning the craft at Full Sail, Royals has worked in and out of studios around town, but, sure enough, he really honed his listening and recording skills in his own abode. Actually, recording at home really took off after getting fired from Millennium Music a few years ago for a late night recording session slash party. But, like many amateur undertakings that begin at the kitchen table or unused spare room, there may come a time when it’s time to do it better. In the world of audio recording, so many variables undermine this pursuit, especially its cost, that the home recording often reflects its provenance through its poor fidelity. Ryan Royals’ new recording studio, Rec Room Recordings, reflects this process of evolution incredibly well. By no stretch of the imagination was the space his ideal vision when he began considering the unused storefront off North 40th. Filled with random junk from about six years of assorted storage, it was difficult to visualize. “When I first saw it, I thought there was no way it would work,” Ryan explained. “But, I started thinking different little things in my head.” Eventually, work it definitely did. Now, Trouble, as he’s affectionately known by his homies, has set up a studio that meets his expectations. “High fidelity is what I am looking for, the highest possible quality without having to pay through the ass for it.” He puts it on the level. “This is the best possible sound that I could afford.” When pushed further to describe his goals for the sound, he emphasizes the drums. “A killer drum sound is something I want to get out of here. That’s what people lack in home recordings.” Utilizing eBay for much of his purchasing, Royals took advantage of the slow economy to pick up the pieces from shuttered studios across the
country. “Those big studios are shutting down all the time,” he explains, “because of the overhead and it’s little places like this that are starting to pop their heads up.” Trouble did get one piece of new equipment though. In some ways, it’s the feather in his cap, the bee’s knees. With 16 tracks contained in a unit about the size of a medium suitcase, he can travel to any venue or room and get a live recording of exceptional quality. Indeed, Hattiesburg and the world will get to hear this thing in action when The Green Couch Sessions airs on WDAM soon. “I talked to Brad Clark [producer of Green Couch] while I was in the middle of getting my studio ready, and he mentioned the possibility of this future show that they were gonna do. That pushed me into going into the portable studio I had been thinking of in my head.” Since then, the portable rig has also been used to record the Skeeter Hawk Records showcase at The Thirsty Hippo on February 19th, featuring Mark Mann and the Thomas Jackson Orchestra, as well as Rooster Blues, Davis Coen, and Mississippi John Doude. “Oh yeah, it went smoothly, like it always does,” Ryan replies when asked how it went. “We hope to release a live cd sampler on Skeeter Hawk soon.” That appropriately brings us to another big topic in Royals’ life. Skeeter Hawk Records turned four years old this past November. Named for a skeeter hawk stuck in a fresh coat of paint near the ceiling of Ryan’s kitchen, for which Mark Mann often sang off-the-cuff songs, the label works to expose regional artists to a national and global audience. Utilizing new media and many radio contacts, with the help of Davis Coen, Skeeter Hawk has gotten its roster exposure around the world. You can pick up all the Skeeter Hawk releases at T-Bones Records & Cafe. Trouble has been helping friends and having fun since he “realized this is all I ever wanted to do with my life.” Rec Room Recordings opens a new chapter in his life for certain. Obviously, he hopes it can find a place in pushing Hattiesburg’s musicians forward. “I think there is a need to nurture the talent in Hattiesburg. I hope people will use this place to collaborate.” He recognizes how easy it is for people to falter in their creative pursuits for many reasons out of their control, but Trouble puts it simply. “If it’s something you want to do, to record your music, look, here’s the field, come play on it!” Located at 114 North 40th, Rec Room Recordings can meet your needs, whether it be in studio, on location, or live before an audience. Trouble invites you to call him to learn more (601-336-7631).
photo by Eli Baylis www.inthepinesonline.com
photo by David Jackson
“I almost always envision performing a song before a crowd as I’m writing it. It’s the only honest way to make it fly.”
We got the idea for the title of this magazine from the classic American song, “In the Pines,” which folks also call “Black Girl” and originally “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”. Of the many versions of this powerful song, one in particular struck us strongly enough to make the name stick and stay stuck: from the 2005 Smog release, A River Ain’t Too Much to Love. Bill Callahan has released thirteen albums on Drag City over the course of a career spanning almost twenty years, all but two of which under the pseudonym Smog. Beginning his career on home recording equipment with limited experience as a musician and a love of the experimental, Callahan has grown his repertoire to include hundreds of songs and now works within the confines of advanced studios alongside highly accomplished session musicians. Last year’s release, Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle, made it in dozens of established Top 10 lists, thanks to powerful songs about love’s travails and life’s challenges (and vice versa) performed by an incredible ensemble of Texas talent. This month, March 23rd to be exact, Callahan will release his first live disc, Rough Travel For A Rare Thing, featuring selections from albums across his long career performed by one of the largest bands he’s had on the road. Following the powerful performance with drummer Neil Morgan this past December on a dripping wet night at The Thirsty Hippo--highlighted by an altogether appropriate and powerful performance of “In the Pines”--we sent Callahan an interview through the virtual post with the assistance of the nice people at Drag City. After a short few weeks wait, right after New Year’s Day, we got back answers to most of our questions. Needless to say, we’re honored to have the opportunity to feature Bill Callahan in our second issue.
Back on February 18, 2009, you visited Hattiesburg. It left a great impression on some of us. Can you recall much about that Monday night? I remember liking the promoter, the space, the courtyard and the feel of the place. It felt like a community place, almost like a house party. When people like my music, I’m always suspicious of them. But on further reflection, I haven’t found a reason to doubt the people of Hattiesburg. I wonder if the fact that the Thirsty Hippo has no stage, ie. the bands perform on the same level as the crowd, does something to the audience’s connection to what’s going on. This go round, in December, you said something along the lines of: “We’ll have this room cleared soon.” Does that ever really happen? It happened in San Diego several years ago. We were sucking for some reason. The guitarist had refused to buy a guitar tuner and had been hiding the fact that he was out of tune every night by turning the volume on his guitar to almost inaudible. It was during the time of the Afghanistan exodus after 9/11. I likened the clearing to that, which caused even more people to leave. After the guitarist had an extended tuner-less tuning session I looked over and the drummer was at the bar ordering a drink in the middle of the show. Or, I guess that was the end of the show. Your version of “In the Pines” compelled us to evaluate that song as in some ways being for us down here in the Pine Belt. What’s your relationship to the song? It’s a psychedelic song with the train taking 3 hours to pass you. This to me centers the song in a meditative state, with the narrator noting the small details of the train tracks, etc. There’s something oracular about it, too. How has your version evolved? I sort of cobbled together my own version of the narrative by sifting through other’s versions. When you’re writing your own song you build it from the ground up, but doing a cover the song is already built. So you need to decide how you’re going to deal with that. I did not use the standard chord progression for the song, I just made up my own to suit my phrasing. You have stated you do not really practice guitar or even sing when not actively working... I have been playing and singing a lot lately. I have changed my ways. I’m getting deeper into guitar and singing and making it a daily thing. Describe the rehearsal schedule before heading out. A band will usually learn about 20 songs or so in the space of 5 days. I am forced to go back to the old songs and do upkeep on them with every tour. Make sure they still work and run OK. Rehearsal is alright and everything, but things don’t really start popping till you have an audience. How did you choose Neil Morgan to accompany you this tour? Neal has been a friend of mine for maybe five years. I have seen him play with different bands and I had heard his solo stuff. I have heard him talk. He’s a very particular guy who thinks about everything and knows what he wants. Playing as a duo I wanted someone I knew who could hold up the other end of the seesaw. We’re touring Spain and France together next month and I’m looking forward to extending what we only started on the last tour.
Callahan cont... One of the women in Lights said this tour has been “like going to school.” She described what could be considered very healthy lifestyle choices. This isn’t the conventional idea we have of touring musicians. Has this approach to touring always held true for you? No. Touring is extremely grueling on the body and soul. Especially for someone like me who gets wound up after shows and can’t sleep and also can’t sleep in a moving car the next day. And there is always that bottle just sitting backstage waiting for you like a floozy. And try finding a healthy meal in 90% of the country -- it’s tough. Most of the food out there is poison. Waffle House should be shut down by the people. You try to get some exercise on the road, but it’s hard to reverse the impact of 6, 7 hours of sitting in a cramped van every day. The road almost always wins. And if it doesn’t, you feel like you aren’t doing your job. What kind of food do you seek while out on tour? I usually look for vegan or raw restaurants, though that doesn’t go over too well with the rest of whoever I’m traveling with once they realize it’s going to be an every day thing unless they speak up. Usually a few days into a tour I will come upon my band conspiring with serious faces and one of them will say, “We need meat.” How many books were you reading during this short tour in December? I had a string of bad luck with books on the tour. Starting and abandoning. How do you feel one’s way of life, one’s consumption – whether food, literature, media, music - affects one’s creative life? I noticed something while sitting in the New Yokel Dry Goods Shoppe. I could have made use of just about everything in that store. The store could have been my kitchen cabinets and I would have been set. But in these megastores, probably 95% of what they sell I would never eat. I try to live my life in this way -- by surrounding myself only with what I would use for sustenance. Food, media, music, literature. There is a glut in all of this that needs to be personally culled. I am trying a new experiment to become a superhuman when I can find the time. I want to try and see how long I can stay clicked “on”, instead of this auto shut-off that seems to be happening.
What’s your average workday back at home like? I’ve been a little too casual about it lately. I just kind of do it when I flow to it, which is several periods throughout the day. If I have been a scofflaw all day, I will stay up late working. Just to satisfy that part of me. But I’m setting up a shack behind my house where I can work straighter, on a schedule. And just go back there and have no distractions, no self. Dissociatively cobble together other people currently in your head. I’ve been reading Richard Yates. Read one book then went and bought everything I could find by him. Then the negativity struck me and I took a step back. Picked it up again and realized it didn’t matter, the way he tells a story and brings life to characters is a joy to experience. I’ve been thinking about him and how I never served in a war. And also Peter Falk’s dementia, and the Haiti quake and how I sent $25 to help fix the place up and yet we are destroying other peoples through war and where do I send $25 to help fix that up? As a new publication learning its place, can you offer us some advice? Stick with it. What do you plan to do during the first few months of the new year? I’m going to stick with it, too. A live record is coming out, but not CD. Just vinyl and FLAC. February or March, I can’t remember. It was a different kind of band for me, 3 fiddle players who sang back up and a drummer and bassist. I found out that almost no truly live records have been released in this life. Since the 60’s, since multitracking was invented -- everyone just rerecords all the parts in a studio and uses only the audience cheers! I did not do that. And, there’s an epic poem to be published soon? I’ve been working on it for six years. It deals with the relationship between a man and a woman he sees at a party. It is possibly set slightly in the future, like maybe 3 months in the future. So it qualifies as Sci-Fi. We have the galleys now and are editing further to get the text to fit the page properly. It should be out in March, too.
By the time you find yourself at the end of tour, have you found more corners in your music? No matter what stage of the process I’m in, I find you reach a peak in touring. The performances get better as the tour goes on and it usually peaks 2 or 3 shows before the end of the tour. Then you start failing a little bit. You’re tired, you’re spent. You’ve seen the fire thing within you. It has left you a little stung, weak. It is also a function, maybe, to get you back out on the road. If you closed things on a perfect note, you might not come back. So, you start to slip a little so you have the desire to correct your footing next time.
“I’m always at square one in my head, ‘How do I make this thing work right now when I have nothing?’ And the next second it is the exact same question. There is no enduring belief in the self for me, I have to try to reinvent it every breath.” 8
“It’s important not to rest on what has come before.”
photo by David Jackson www.inthepinesonline.com
Just when you think there’s so much music happening here in Hattiesburg and you can’t possibly keep up with it all, The Green Couch Sessions arise. The Green Couch Sessions showcases musicians that make their way through the Pine Belt area on the local NBC affiliate, WDAM. Yes, on TV! Pam McGovern, Marketing and Creative Services Director at WDAM, had always hoped to help bring a music show to WDAM. Beginning about a year and a half ago, a few people at the station began more seriously toying with the idea of a show featuring local music. Brad Clark stepped forward to start organizing the project in earnest. He explains the problems that troubled the process before. “We could never put a reliable crew together to make it happen.” Brad credits David McRaney for providing the necessary spark to finally push the show forward. “All of this was talk in the office until one day we realized we had the right crew of passionate people to actually make the show happen.” Mik Davis, who hosts the interviews, concurs. “The entire production unit gelled instantly. Mike [McCarty], Andrew [Reynolds], Brad, Michael [Perry], David, Pam and Josh [Finch] are all complete professionals.” When it was time to ask people to work on GCS, Brad did what I would do: chose friends who truly knew their stuff. After the first two preliminary Sessions, Brad did just that, when he called Ryan Royals. At the same time he was opening Rec Room Recordings (There’s another story about that.), Royals purchased a new device to help make the magic happen. “It’s really a quite stellar little rig,” he explains. “I can record up to 16 tracks at once, at any venue, anywhere where there is American power.” The Green Couch Sessions went from just a concept and has now quickly gained traction since the end of last summer, getting approval last month to begin its run in the next couple of months. The station is selling advertising associated with the show now and air dates should be established soon. You will hear about it here in The Pines. The first shoot was in the beginning of October 2009. Since then, they have filmed several artists that have traveled through Hattiesburg or call this area their home. Don’t worry about seeing the same kind of bands on the show. GCS is on a mission to feature the wide range of talent that exists out there because that is what the Pine Belt has and wants. Artists include T-Bird and the Breaks from Austin, TX, Paul Burch and the WPA Ballclub from Nashville, TN, and Cary Hudson from Sumrall, MS, among more than a few others. The Green Couch Sessions is filmed throughout Hattiesburg. Who needs a boring, repetitive film studio when everyone can share what they have for their love of good music? They set up the show at any venue that offers up its space. The GCS crew have a place to host the show and the venues get a little easy advertising. Stoneworks Studio,
Inc. and the Thirsty Hippo have already kindly hosted The Green Couch Sessions, as has The Bottling Co. a couple of times. It is almost like a bartering system, which not only seems to work, but it connects people in Hattiesburg even more. Andrew Reynolds, a GCS crew member, summed it up best saying, “the Hattiesburg music community is unique and strong. Our mission is to involve ourselves with Hattiesburg as much as we possibly can.” The Green Couch Sessions is on a local Hattiesburg TV station, made by people who live here, featuring music that comes through here, and filmed in locations across town. I would gladly say that is as about as locally involved as you can get. If you have seen the chartreuse couch you know it is a unique piece that does the Hattiesburg music scene proud. I don’t care how many basic questions I am supposed to ask about the show, the burning question for me is how does one acquire a green couch? Reynolds had a good story for the answer. The couch had been in the Creative Services room at WDAM for years, brought in by Spencer Mosness, another founder of the show. Over time, everyone grew to love the misfit couch. The people behind GCS were hanging out in Creative Services, spitting out names for the segment, when Brad referred to their brainstorming as the green couch sessions. Then, it all clicked and everyone agreed. Although, now everyone working for the show are sort of kicking themselves because they have to haul this huge green couch to every show along with so much gear. The people of The Green Couch Sessions are truly putting their backs into getting the music of Hattiesburg to you. Expect to see The Green Couch Session begin as early as April or early Summer, in the slot before Saturday Night Live on WDAM. Each show focuses on one artist/band, and every guest that is showcased plays four to five songs as if it were a real, live show. In addition to the music, spread throughout the show are several minutes where each artist gets a chance to flop down on the sacred green couch and chat it up. How do bands get on the show? If you have a band, which we all do these days, contact the Green Couch Sessions by going to their website and filling out an easy online form. You can also nominate your favorite, bomb-ass band. The almighty crew at the GCS will make the decision whether a band is so good they just got to get it out to the people. Basically, The Green Couch Sessions is almost like seeing a band play live at a bar, but no jerk is yelling in your ear while you’re trying to hear the music, you don’t get beer spilled on you (unless you’re drinking at home and are clumsy), you can still tuck the kids in bed, you don’t have to pay a cent, and you get an interview. Awesome. www.inthepinesonline.com
Blue Healer Music, named after a childhood dog and with the hope of helping“heal the blues” locally is the creation of Southern Miss student, thrift shop tender, and budding journalist, Sam Miller. It “began in early 2009 with the intention of chronicling the South Mississippi music scene - the artists, the performances, and the stories behind the songs.” Sam jokingly intimates that it was also the best way he could think to make friends. However, it is obvious that his commitment to helping build a community of which he can be an active member is real, and he pursues it with the clear vision and insatiable curiosity of an aspiring anthropologist. Generous with all artists he’s had a chance to sit down with, he is quick to qualify any good-natured omission of seedy behavior during our rambling conversation as “off the record.” Thanks to my total lack of technological prowess much more of it remains literally off the record(er). Raised in Sumrall by a family of musicians, Sam Miller’s enthusiasm for the Hattiesburg music community, for every conceivable adventure and conversation, is refreshing and exciting to witness. The following conversation took place on my porch on Court Street over plates of spinach manicotti. By its conclusion, Sam and I had agreed to hunt down a pick and grin in Purvis, attempt a night float on Gordon Creek in a cheap toy store raft, and pursue careers practicing international humanitarian law. This spry young ‘Burgian gives the phrase “mad to live” new meaning, and it seems to be catching. Sam’s current pick for a river partner is his mother, who must be made aware that Sam is a coat-offering, door-opening, dish-toting delight.
photo by Sam Miller Blue Healer Music
photo by Sam Miller Blue Healer Music
How did you get the idea to start interviewing and photographing area musicians? The idea for the interviews originally came from local singer/songwriter Lhay Browning Thriffley of the Paperwhites. She knew that I had an interest in the local music scene, and while at HubFest last year, she suggested that I should interview musicians in the area. One thing led to another, and I found myself sitting on a porch with Mark Mann talking about Crazy Horse. [Laughter.] The Hattiesburg American was super nice in letting the interviews run in the HUB. The photos are just a little extra to help put faces to names and document the shows and musicians around town. What role does place have in your work? Are you particularly interested in musicians from South Mississippi? I’m a huge fan of the musicians in South Mississippi, and it’s all about getting awareness for them. There are great venues and talented musicians in and around Hattiesburg, and I really think there’s something for everybody. There’s also community within the musicians themselves; a lot of them have played with one another and are fans of each other’s work. And it doesn’t hurt that there’s such a huge musical history all throughout Mississippi. You mentioned reading Mik Davis’s articles while growing up in Sumrall. How has he influenced the work you’re doing currently? Mik Davis is an amazing writer, interviewer, musician, and a big influence of mine. Since I’m not much of a writer, he’s given me a lot of advice and help, along with Mark Langham. I fondly remember reading Davis’s work back when he wrote in the HUB, and to this day, his knowledge of music is still the most fascinating of anybody I’ve ever met. What’s the story behind ‘riding the river’? My good friend, Mark Langham, was walking downtown one night and ran into fellow musician and friend Mark Mann. Mark Mann walked up to him and said, “Mark, I’d ride the river with you.” During that initial interview, I asked Mark Mann who he’d want to ride my river with and just decided to keep the question. www.inthepinesonline.com
THE DIDDLEY BOW Perhaps the most affordable and significant instrument in the last 100 years. Hailing from Africa but famed for its embrace in the southern United States, the Diddley Bow rests at the very conception of America’s music (jazz/blues/country/rock). Bo Diddley took his stage name from it. Ethnomusicologists refer to it as a monochord zither. Country folk endearingly named it the jitterbug. WHAT IS IT? Descended from an ancient instrument called the hunters mouth bow, which is regarded as one of the earliest musical instruments in existence since it is depicted in cave paintings at Lascaux, the Diddley Bow is a slide guitar stripped down to it’s most elemental state. Take a wire and fasten it in between two nails or screws that are implanted into whatever happens to be handy, e.g. your front porch, any 2X4, or the side of your house. Once built, take a metal/glass slide, glass bottle, or jackknife in one hand, press it on the string to vary the pitch, and use your other hand to pluck. You can get fancy with it and add an electric guitar pickup underneath the wire to bring the Diddley Bow to an electrified state, ready to scream through your amplifier. WHY IS IT SIGNIFICANT? Before instruments were readily available to the masses, you didn’t have many options for acquiring one. You could make one yourself or maybe find a luthier nearby who could make something for you, if you could afford or trade for it. The Diddley Bow was such an easy thing for impoverished southerners to fashion that it became an entry level instrument for almost every musician, particularly guitarists. If you proved yourself on it, chances are Mom or Dad would consider splurging on an actual guitar for you. Given that it was often a childhood or adolescent instrument, most folks who went on to play guitar left it behind, making it virtually non-existent in the recorded world. Nonetheless, it was fundamental in establishing the foundation for rudimentary slide guitar and was often used as an extension or mimic for the human voice. Do a little digging in blues history, and you will find that just about every famed bluesman started out playing one of these contraptions. Even saxophonists John Coltrane and Charlie Parker’s first childhood musical notes came from plucking the Diddley Bow on the side of their house. The level to which this instrument has effected the last 100 years of music in America is unquantifiable and can only begin to be learned through folklore, historians and Google. Without the Diddley Bow paving the way for so many of our most important musical pillars in the earliest years of their musical and creative exploration, there is absolutely no telling where music would be today.
Recommended Viewing: Rent the movie “IT MIGHT GET LOUD” to check out Jack White building and playing a Diddley Bow in the opening credits. The rest of the movie is definitely worth watching, given it features Jimmy Page, Jack White and The Edge talking shop about guitar and playing together while giving a great background history on all three men. Recommended Listening: (if you can find them) - Jessie Mae Hemphill: Two tracks: one accompanied By Compton Jones on Heritage of the Blues: Shake It, Baby (HighTone, HCD 8156). Two tracks, accompanied by Compton Jones and Glen Faulkner on Get Right Blues (Inside Sounds ISC-0519). - Lonnie Pitchford: Pitchford was a diddley bow master. He can be heard on four tracks on National Downhome Blues Festival Volume One (Southland SCD-21): “Train Coming Around the Bend,” “My Babe,” “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “One-String Boogie.” Two tracks on All Around Man (Rooster R2629), Real Rock Music: Crawlin’ Kingsnake” and “My Babe.” One track on Living Country Blues (Evidence ECD 26105-2): “Boogie Chillen”. Also, another “One-String Boogie,” and “My Baby Walked Away” on American Folk Blues Festival ‘83. - Yourself: Build one and explore your own creative voice like so many Mississippians before us. Sounds like a good way to spend a hot summer afternoon on the porch to me...
by Will Poynor
Lorrie Collins: “Another Man Done Gone” “Another man done gone, I was his drag along I don’t recall his name, but I was glad he came” -Johnny Cash In the history of rock and roll, there are some songs that must be heard to be believed. “Another Man Done Gone” by Lorrie Collins is surely one of them. This is the story of a B-side that outshines its A-side without hesitation. “Another Man Done Gone” is a traditional song that originated within the chain gangs of the South. Tracing the links of this well-traveled song, I found covers by numerous artists including Memphis Slim, Big Bill Broonzy, Odetta and the walking encyclopedia of blues and folk music, Leadbelly. For the Lorrie Collins version, Johnny Cash provided a serious rewrite of the ex-lover leaving story, resulting in one of the best productions on a record that I have ever heard and will quite possibly ever hear.
While that is a sweet jam on its own, a couple of weeks later I unearthed another 45 with an A-side attributed to “Larry and Lorrie Collins” and a B-side solely credited to Lorrie. Not only was I unaware that Lorrie ever did a solo record, but that the song itself was written (or rewritten if you will) and arranged by Johnny Cash. Even though I was certain it would be a mighty fine record, I was unprepared to have this three-minute song completely blow my mind. This single hits all the senses at once. Picture a dark and heavy night. The wind rustles cautiously through the trees. Beneath one tree, five pints of blood has been left behind and scattered closely to an unmarked grave by some woman scorned. That same woman is about to sing on this record.
Lorrie Collins was born Lawrencine Collins in 1942 and attained fame as one half of the beloved brother-sister act the Collins Kids. Joining her eleven-year-old brother Larry, Lorrie’s career began at the tender age of 13. When the family moved from Oklahoma to California, the Collins Kids got their big break appearing regularly on Tex Ritter’s Town Hall Party.
The needle drops and you hear the bloodcurdling yelp of Lorrie Collins. A bass follows her and conjures a nightmarish image of a dirty skeleton walking slowly, very slowly, behind you. Picture a harp with an unknown masked man scraping a guitar pick against the strings while laughing silently and madly to himself. Then, the nasty twang of a guitar attacks you with both barrels full. Suddenly, you hear the ethereal sound of a harp being eerily played by some kind of fallen angel while Lorrie repeats again and again -”another man done gone.” That is how truly visceral this classic single is.
The duo’s appearance on this televised radio program gave audiences a glimpse at their extraordinary skills. Larry strummed a double-neck Mosrite guitar and bopped his head and feet all over the place. Lorrie swaggered, swayed and wailed with the voice of woman twice her age. Shortly after these kinetic performances, the duo signed to Columbia Records and recorded a string of amazing singles between 1958 and 1962.
The A-side, “That Lonesome Road,” provides a soothing anodyne to “Another Man Done Gone.” I cannot recall another more forewarning upbeat Gospel rockabilly record. It is a blistering number featuring lyrics such as “look down that lonesome road and receive your Maker before Mr. Gabriel blows his horn.” While it is almost as worthy of a story as its flipside, it is hard to write about anything else after hearing “Another Man Done Gone.”
I was introduced to the music of the Collins Kids through a friend a few years ago and was immediately hooked. I had been on the look out for some of their records and a couple years ago I finally struck gold. I was digging through the 45’s at Milkspiller when I discovered my first Collins Kids’ single “Hoy Hoy.”
Recently, I heard that production was about to begin on “Kill Bill Vol.3.” I would not be surprised if this little diamond of a record wound up on the soundtrack of that film. Until then, I will gladly play it as a part of the soundtrack that personally helps make my world spin round and round and round and round… www.inthepinesonline.com
RAISE YOUR PINTS by Butch Bailey
Raise Your Pints has been pretty busy lately working to remove the ban on gourmet beer in Mississippi. We had bills before the Mississippi legislature this session addressing the restrictive cap on alcohol in beer and the legality of homebrewing. Going into this session we had good support in the House. We feel we had the votes to get our bill through that chamber. The Senate, however, has been a tougher nut to crack. We were told our bills would not make it out of committee in the Senate. Period. So that left our supporters in the House facing the prospect of spending a lot of political capital fighting for a bill that was destined to die on arrival to the Senate. In the end, we had plenty of Representatives that liked our bill, but none that liked it enough to go to the mattresses for it. Sadly, we’re left with one more year of being the last state in the union with this restriction on gourmet beer. Passing legislation is a process. The average time it takes a new bill to become law in Mississippi is three years. It took Alabama’s beer lovers, Free The Hops, just that, three years, to raise their beer cap. Raise Your Pints officially organized one year ago. So we still have time to beat the average. We will continue to work on this. Our state legislature is in session for about three months a year in early spring. However, bills get passed based on the work done in the summer, and RYP has already begun working on the 2011 session. Our biggest obstacle continues to be a lack of knowledge on both the part of the average beer drinker in Mississippi and the individual legislators. Given that ever since the repeal of our state’s alcohol prohibition, there has basically been only one style of beer (pale, yellow, and fizzy), you can’t really blame someone for not being aware of what they’re missing. And, let’s face it, it’s a tough vote for a legislator from a dry county to vote for any alcohol bill in Mississippi. It’s going to take a lot more work from a lot of people. I encourage you to get involved if you love good beer. Even if you don’t have a taste for a wider variety, this is a case where our elected officials have decided that Mississippians are not responsible enough to choose what type of beer they drink. Apparently, they think it’s a decision better left to politicians in Jackson. If that strikes you as an anachronistic and repressive situation, well, that’s because it is! They say history is made by the people who show up. Well, real progress is made by the people who don’t go away. Raise Your Pints is here to stay. We’re not going away until we bring world class beer to Mississippi for responsible adults to enjoy. Thanks for your continued support!
Beereview explores two brews every month, one easily accessible around town and another you must find elsewhere, outside the state, because of Mississippi’s arcane beer laws. Always brought to you by the Hattiesburg Beer Club, which meets at the Keg & Barrel the second Sunday of every month.
Red Brick Peachtree Pale Ale Atlanta Brewing Company, Atlanta, Georgia style: American Pale Ale ABV: 5.6% serving type: 12oz bottle available locally beereviewer: Troy Coll Pours slightly hazy, golden, with very active carbonation leading to a loose, foamy head. The nose is a pleasant blend of toasty grain, floral hops, perfume, and a faint note of red apple. Firm bitterness dominates the flavor, with the malt adding dry, biscuity flavors as opposed to toffee or caramel. Prototypical American Pale Ale hop profile: pine needles, lavender, orange rind, a little thyme. Restrained, on the bitter side of balanced, a medium body that finishes clean, not sticky, with a light bitter bite that fades quickly. Extremely sessionable, the sort of beer you could drink by the liter. Comparable to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but Red Brick comes across a bit maltier. Pairs great with mild, bready, or fried foods; grilled chicken; popcorn. Beers like this often get passed over in favor of flashier, more “extreme” beers, but this one reminds us why a wellbrewed, flavorful beer packed with drinkability (yes, I’m repossessing this word) can provide just as meaningful an experience.
Racer 5 India Pale Ale Bear Republic Brewery, Cloverdale, CA style: American India Pale Ale ABV: 7.0% serving type: 22oz bottle available outside the state of Mississippi beereviewer: Troy Coll Pours crystal clear and golden, with a tight cap of foam that leaves lacing all the way to the finish. Stone and tropical fruits dominate the aroma, with peach, papaya, and a hint of pineapple. The malt contributes the smell of rising bread and saltines, with a faint note of alcohol as well. The initial flavors of biscuit and pretzel are quickly wiped out by a wave of passion fruit, pine, and cannabis with a bone-dry, minerally finish. Whether it’s the malt profile, the hop oils, the carbonation level, or all three, the mouthfeel on this beer is absolutely perfect. Every sip demands another. Alcohol and malt become more prominent as the beer warms, bringing it closer to balance, but the hops still dominate. This is the perfect apertif, pairing well with everything from h’ors d’ouvres to a robust burger, though spicy foods might overwhelm it. The sharp, almost oaky finish really turns the salivary glands up to eleven. Classic but not boring, this is the archetypical West Coast IPA. www.inthepinesonline.com
USM - Ragtime JW - Celtic Crossroads 2pm
USM - Concert Band @ Bennett 7:30p
TH - Bobby Bare, Jr. w/ David Vandervelde
TH – Damon Moon w/ Chance Fisher USM - Steel Pan Orchestra @ Mannoni
TH – Hockey w/ The Constellations and The Postelles
BBR – Chance Fisher USM - Ragtime
BOCO – The Glitter Boys w/ Fallen BBR – Red Hill City NIH – Chapter 13 TBR – Scott Chism & the Better Half TH – Boom Chicka Booms USM – Ragtime RHC – Corey Smith Band
BOCO – WJJC-The Groove BBR – The Revivalists w/ Static Parade JW - Audrey Belle 7p USM – Ragtime 1126 - Edhochuli, Heaviness of the Load, and cbend
TH - Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit
TH – Giant Cloud w/ This Orange Four
RHC – Saving Abel
JW - Scott Chism & Better Half 7p TH - Jeff the Brotherhood w/ The Coathangers TBR – The Squirms w/ Los Buddies
ST PATRICK'S DAY TH - Thomas Function w/ Puppy Hearts K&B – Seisun (traditional Irish music), 6p & King Fridays, 10p
LTC - Hulk Hogan presents TNA Wrestling Live @ Lake Terrace Convention Center
BOCO – Father Tommy's Pimped Out Party NIH – Skin Deep TH – Snarky Puppy TBR – Adam “Bloodbird” Harrington
BOCO – Cancer Benefit: Glitter Boys, Brickhouse Hero, Radio Violence JW - John McBay 7p
DEP - Junction Java Jam (Artist TBA. 6 PM) TH – King Louie's Missing Monuments w/ Makeshift Lover USM - Wind Ensemble Concerto @ Bennett 7p
USM - Meridian Arts Ensemble @ Bennett 7p BOCO – She Dances Benefit BBR - Glasgow NIH – Lindsay Lee TBR – Joseph VanZandt (Parasols) with Special Guest TH - This Side Up
BOCO – Travis Clark BBR – Wrangler Space JW - Todd Smith Band 7p
BBR: Boom-Boom Room BOCO: Bottling Company DEP: The Depot JW: Javawerks K&B: Keg & Barrel NIH: Nick's Ice House RHC: Remington Hunt Club TBR: T-Bone's Records TH: Thirsty Hippo USM: Southern Miss
Official Press Release: The University of Southern Mississippi’s upcoming production of “Ragtime, The Musical” represents the largest scale performance to ever hit the university main stage. Arranged as part of the university’s yearlong Centennial celebration, the epic musical debuts at 7:30 p.m. on March 4 in the Mannoni Performing Arts Center on the Hattiesburg campus. Based on the classic E.L. Doctorow novel, “Ragtime” is a collaborative production by the Southern Miss School of Music and Department of Theatre and Dance. This sweeping play, set in the volatile and diverse melting pot of New York at the turn of the 20th century, features a lively cast of 36 and a grand 25-piece Symphony Orchestra. “We were looking for something that’s huge in scale in all ways,” said Dr. Michael Miles, conductor. “This play fits the bill, from the size of the cast to the scenery and sets, to the amount of music, to the size of the orchestra. For the Centennial, I think we wanted to pick something that would present challenges. There’s twice as much music in this show as any show I’ve ever conducted.” This Tony Award-winning epic parallels in scale to other contemporary hits like “Phantom of the Opera” and “Les Miserables.” The story of “Ragtime” weaves together three distinctly American stories – an upperclass family from of New Rochelle, a burgeoning community from Harlem
and a determined group of Jewish immigrants. This dynamic and volatile combination finds ragtime music as its soundtrack. The production features original music by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens. Director Robin Carr describes the play as an epic adventure. “When we were looking at productions to choose we were looking at the strengths of both departments and students,” said Carr. “This is a piece that neither department would have been able to pull off on their own.” Featuring one of the largest-scale sets Hattiesburg audiences have ever seen, hundreds of period costumes, and a myriad of technical elements that required numerous upgrades to the auditorium, faculty, staff and students have been at work for months preparing for the show. “Students participating in this production are excited to have this performance opportunity. This is a large cast where every person has a major part to play, sometimes five or six parts,” said music director Jennifer Hart. Ragtime will run March 4-6 at 7:30 p.m. and March 7 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults; $15 for faculty, staff, seniors and military and $10 for students. For information call 601-266-5418 or visit www. southernmisstickets.com
Some cities just make music happen like the Chinese make stuff. It just comes. New Orleans is surely that kind of city. With local music that runs every gamut in marathon fashion, it’s never surprising to hear another band that sounds good from the Crescent City. Glasgow comes from the West Bank, a land adjacent and in its own way different from the city, but sitting on that same broad body of water. Returning for the third time to Hattiesburg, lovers of independent, catchy but strange alternative pop need to hear Glasgow when they come to the Boom Boom Room at the end of the month. Including the two Craft brothers (that also perform some pretty fine acoustic string music), the band utilizes a haywire vocal aesthetic, odd compositions, and unique instrumentation to make a valuable contributions to the region’s music Needless to say, Glasgow has gotten their share of attention from the press interested in music, including a cover on the Hub the last time they came through as well as coverage in all of the New Orleans paper media. Their first release On Earth got some positive reviews from a wide swath of publications, and their shows in support of that CD have gotten them on bills with a lot of great established bands. With a predictably elaborate, thematic new LP to drop sometime in May of this year – apparently concerning a complex story of love, national politics, and religion - the band just released an EP entitled simply 1986 that can be derived on the internet for free. 1986 hints at what to expect from their new album and gives fans a chance to listen to more of Glasgow’s music at home some, too, between visits to a music venue near you.
The Drive By Truckers stormed into the horizon several years ago with their whiskey fueled Southern rock blowouts. Hailing from Muscle Shoals, in northwestern Alabama, the band brought its own blend of powerful songwriting and ferocious guitar rock to bear on audiences across the country while also releasing several seriously well received albums along the way. Hattiesburg has seen every permuation of this group, with a Truckers performance at the Bottling Co. last year, a solo Patterson Hood show at the Hippo a few years back, and a previous visit from the subject of this short blurb last year. Like many highly potent team efforts, at some point the Truckers just could not contain all the creativity present amongst their members. One of the primary songwriters, Jason Isbell, left the band in 2007 to further pursue his own muse with a group he put together called The 400 Unit. Named after a mental treatment facility in Florence, AL, the big town nearest Muscle Shoals, Isbell and his band have toured the region and country with his songs ever since, while releasing two strong albums along the way. Melancholy, straight ahead, strong songwriting mingled with classic Southern rock expansion makes a lover of songs thrilled. “I always say that writing a song, first and foremost, to me, is a way of teaching myself how I feel about something,” he says. “And that’s the purpose it serves, really, more than anything else.” Expect to hear a lot of new music on this tour, which began at the end of February and will essentially continue until Summer, with a trip through Australia accompanying Justin Townes Earle. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit bring their Southern rock through town early in the month on Thursday, March 11, to the Thirsty Hippo.
by Sumner Bagget with Chris Cagle It happens every spring break, your rich friends go to SXSW or the beach leaving you alone with time to kill in empty coffee houses and bars or at home with movies you’ve watched 11 times. Well, not this spring break because the Thirsty Hippo will have music spread all throughout the week from the beginning on Saturday, March 13th to the end on the following Friday, March 19th. They need a combo ticket for us diehards. From punk to funk, the music is all worth coming out for, so put your Mrs. Doubtfire DVD away and head on downtown to the Hippo.
Saturday, March 13: JEFF the Brotherhood w/ The Coathangers Definitely a night for people who like punk and aren’t snooty about it with a two band bill that kicks behind. JEFF the Brotherhood are from Nashville, TN and its members are Jake and Jamin Orrall. JEFF the Brotherhood have a psychedelic feel, not in the doom-y style that sometimes goes along with that description, but a spirited and pure sound. Still, with the rough, cranky guitars, there is definitely some grunge influence, which gives the band’s sound a rare twist. I’m really excited about seeing this band! On their Myspace, yes people still use it, they describe their sound as psychedelic/punk/grunge, which is exactly how it sounds. It is all layered and works together really well for cosmic, energetic, and edgy sound. On the road with JEFF, The Coathangers are a feisty group of four broads from Atlanta. These girls don’t hold back their vocals, their sass, nor their experimentation, which is all you would ever want in a punk band. Go check out their songs “Shake Shake” and “Pussywillow” for a good spit in the face of what to expect for Saturday night at the Thirsty Hippo. We ain’t going to miss this one.
Monday, March 15: Bobby Bare, Jr. w/ David Vandervelde Bobby Bare, Jr. and David Vandervelde have both visited Hattiesburg once prior, each as support for bands with strong followings here in town. Bobby Bare, Jr. came with The Legendary Shack Shakers on their last visit to town, while Vandervelde came with Blitzen Trapper back in 2007. On tap for tonight will be two songwriting powerhouses from Nashville who treat country music like punk rockers, focusing on writing stories inside songs with powerful punch. With enough critical credentials to share with us if we deserved them too, we’re expecting both guys to be playing a lot of fresh songs since they’re due for new releases. We know there’s a set of drums involved at the least, not to mention a whole lot of guitar strumming, backing songs that will almost certainly stand the test of time. It’s rare to have to acts on the same bill where it’s difficult to determine who’s the supporting act, but here we have that kind of night. There’s no possible better way to spend this Monday night probably anywhere within hundreds of miles.
Wednesday, March 17: Thomas Function w/Puppy Hearts A southern band, from right next door in Bama, Thomas Function is on the up and up with tours all over. Come out and see the band that pastemagazine.com deemed “ridiculously infectious.” With tambourines, organs churning, electric pep, and maybe a little drug use in there music, Thomas Function are bound to be a good time. Reasonably compared to The Buzzcocks, Thomas Function does have that pop-punk sound, their songs are catchy and a bit thrashy, but there are more elements deeply mixed in every song. I couldn’t imagine a better band to be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day night with because these dudes have the pub attitude and bouncy beats to keep the Hippo celebrating into the wee hours.
Friday, March 19: Snarky Puppy CD/DVD Release Party! To some it may seem like Snarky Puppy will be returning too soon, and that kind of person probably complains that there’s never anything to do. That kind of person should eat a dirty sock. For people who love to enjoy good times, however, here comes again that “music fo yo brain and bootay.” Blowing down the house with two fat slabs of funk fusion on Mardi Gras night, including a second set full of Pfunk bombs alongside favorite cuts from their first two CDs (a nearly 20 minute “Celebrity”?), this trip to town will see the band promoting the brand new CD/DVD combo, Tell Your Friends, that we discussed at length with bass player and band leader Michael League in last month’s issue. Expect to hear the songs from the new disc and even newer ones, and who knows what else. Snarky Puppy does something different every single time they play. And, needless to say, you better be forking out the dough to buy this new release. Recorded completely live in front of a captive audience at Dockside Studios last year, featuring a CD and DVD, it’s a production synthesis both revolutionary and ideal for the music connoisseur of the 21st century. www.inthepinesonline.com
photo by David Jackson
Giant Cloud holds it down somewhere in New Orleans, but the shadow has now been cast coast to coast. First coming through town as an opener for Brass Bed and pulling one of those opening band blowouts, Giant Cloud returned again with Floating Action, a favorite band of our favorite people. They took their songs up to Philadelphia to record with former labelmates on Park the Van Records and studio geniuses, Dr. Dog, who recently signed with -ANTI records to release their next CD. All one can gather online is that 11 new songs were taken on the road up the Northeastern circuit during February, and that Giant Cloud would be recording on this trip. A couple of shows popped up during early March around New Orleans before Giant Cloud returns their caravan to the highway on a trip West to the Pacific Ocean. Luckily, The Thirsty Hippo stepped in there and got us another shot to hear our neighborsâ€™ perform on Thursday, March 11th. If you have skipped their shows so far, you should cease and desist with that behavior. Giant Cloud promises to become a band everyone wants to see. Their music consumes contemporary rock genres like a compost heap to produce loosely structured, open ended melodic explorations that utilize pleasant vocal harmonies and harsh instrumental excitement. Having only one EP under their belt, the band remains a new experience. One of the best things about being in Hattiesburg is the opportunity for exposure to young peopleâ€™s passionate experiments in music. Some pan out to yield gold many people buy, while others fizzle out on the road to adulthood. Something tells me Giant Cloud will explode before fizzling out, and that anyone who neglects their performance that loves new music should be ashamed.
Begun as an Historic Hattiesburg Downtown experiment that quickly and fortunately evolved to become its own enterprise, Live@Five has sincerely pleased music lovers of all ages and persuasions each and every Friday of April and October for two years already. Sarah Newton, the primary energy behind the concerts, emphasized events during her tenure as HHDA President, and this series was her crowning achievement. Building on a great network of local production talent, each concert provides a different experience of regional musical identity. Furthermore, as the lawn at Town Square Park fills with chairs, community members get to experience each others’ company to a degree that is unfortunately very rare in Hattiesburg. Previous artists have run the gamut from North Mississippi blues and new Nashville folk to hot Lafayette zydeco and cool New Orleans traditional jazz. Sure, Mississippi weather remains about as predictable as a crap shoot, but all in all only two have been truly rained out. If Town Square Park gets too wet, you can always expect to just head over to the Historic Train Depot. Actually, this is a nice change, anyway, a reminder of how pleasant Downtown Hattiesburg really is. April’s lineup promises to meet everyone’s expectations of variety and quality. Bringing artists to the stage that sits in front of Gordon’s Creek from around town and across the region always guarantees a comfortable but stimulating environment to hang out, picnic, chat, and dance. On the first Friday of April - the day after this year’s first Farmers Market, also at Town Square Park - Jason Ricci and New Blood bring their harmonica propelled electric blues to the Park for a blistering set of music to warm the early April chill. Look for an expanded article with complete and elaborate coverage in April’s THE PINES. In the meantime, just trust us and your gut when we tell you unequivocally to get your behind onto the Town Square Park lawn every single Friday of the month, unless it’s raining, when you should head to the Train Depot. We’ll see you there!
photo by Sam Miller Blue Healer Music
Ratings: 1 - Avoid it! 2 - Watch it on Cable if you’re really bored 3 - Rent it 4 - But It Used 5 - Buy It New & Never loan it out!!!
COUPLES RETREAT Starring Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Kristen Bell, Faizon Love & Kristen Davis Directed by Peter Billingsley Written by Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Dana Fox Released 2009 A troubled married couple trick three other couples into “vacationing” at a tropical marriage counseling resort. Yep, that’s the premise. Sight gags, potty humor and Vince Vaughn’s spitfire dialogue are piled on for the next ninety minutes. For the most part, the talented cast seems to be spinning it’s comic wheels. There are a few chuckles throughout, but not enough to recommend spending any money on this one. Rated: 2
RICKY GERVAIS: OUT OF ENGLAND Starring Ricky Gervais Written by Rick Gervais Directed by John Moffitt Released 2008 In his first HBO special, Ricky Gervais basically creates an onstage persona that is not unlike the characters he plays in television shows and films. You know, the guy who’s mistakenly convinced everyone is laughing with him, not at him. No one is better at that game than Gervais. Even though stand-up is not his strong point, he makes you laugh enough to keep things interesting. Fans of Gervais previous work (The Office, Extras) won’t be disappointed. Rating: 3
THE HURT LOCKER Starring Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty Directed by Kathryn Bigelow Written by Mark Boal Released 2009 The Hurt Locker is a raw and relentless film that follows a bomb disposal squad in the current Iraq War. It grabs you by the flak jacket in the first scene and never lets go. Jeremy Renner’s portrayal of a thrill junkie more comfortable at war than at home is a guaranteed star-maker. I’ve had no military experience, but I can only describe this film as feeling VERY REAL. You should check it out even if you don’t usually like war movies. Did I mention it feels very real? Rating: 4
by Cthulu Carl THE RAGE Directed by Robert Kurtzman Written by Robert Kurtzman & John Bisson Starring Andrew Divoff, Erin Brown, Reggie Bannister Released 2007 Gooey, grotesque mutants with an insatiable blood-lust, a mad Russian scientist, and an evil midget are just a few of the things one will find in this bloody nugget from the mother-lode of gore. A corrupt government suppresses Dr. Viktor Vasilienko’s cure for cancer, and he becomes unjustly imprisoned in an asylum for the insane. The good doctor subsequently escapes with a thirst for retribution in his soul, and he creates a rage mutagen to unleash upon humanity. When one of his “experiments” escapes, dies in the woods, and is eaten by vultures, the contagion quickly spreads to local wildlife. In classic horror movie fashion, a group of reckless, party-going young adults have their RV wreck, become trapped in the doctor’s nefarious lab, and wind up in a fight for survival. Genre fans will appreciate Andrew Divoff’s performance as Dr. Vasilienko, a cameo by Reggie Bannister of “Phantasm” fame as Uncle Ben, and the always alluring Erin Brown as one of the hapless victims. “The Rage” isn’t for the faint-of-heart or squeamish. Yet, it’s destined to become an underground classic with gore-hounds and lovers of splatstick comedy.
Gil Scott-Heron - I’m New Here (XL, 2010) by Mik Davis While Gil Scott-Heron’s “I’m New Here” quickly sinks into the deepest reaches of your mind because of its gravitas, this starkly-produced album demands more than a cursory listen. On his first album in 17 years, “I’m New Here” exists as not only a document of the life of Scott-Heron, it also mirrors an entire generation of African-Americans left behind by urban decay and suburban flight. Whether he is singing sweetly on the cover of Bobby Blue Bland’s “I’ll Take Care of You” or waxing poetically to fight off harrowing images in “Running”, he emerges as more than mere survivor. Rather than present a cautionary tale, he instead acts as the conscience of the current environment where rising rappers emerge from stints in jail to sign record contracts and claim legendary status. While prison, parole, rehab and HIV may have reduced his once stentorian voice to a deep growl, those forces did little to diminish the power of his words. Scott-Heron is by no means wizened or wiser, he is now human. Producer Richard Russell abandons the jazz/funk mix of his past in favor of sparse electronics and instruments. His redefinition of Robert Johnson’s “Me and The Devil” uses ominous synths and insistent drum machines to conjure those famous hellhounds again. While longtime fans may view this sacrifice as sacrilege, these backdrops make the blend of songs, poems and spoken fragments sound new. The end result is stitched together with a cinematic style that climaxes with the revelatory “New York Is Killing Me.” Amid loops of hand claps and a distorted bass drum, Scott-Heron drags the spiritual into the 21st century. When he and members of the Harlem Gospel Choir sing “Lord have mercy, have mercy on me”, this is no Moby-esque moment where two worlds are synthesized to create something never before heard. Instead, the message is consistent with the phenomena of double consciousness found in African-American literature. Scott-Heron exists between worlds, as both a recovering addict (“The Crutch”) and a man confronting death (“Your Soul and Mine”). Within these boundaries, he writes with alarming temerity (the poem “Where Did The Night Go”) and uses the lesson of the Bill Callahan-penned title track to discover that he can “come full circle and be new here again.”
The Cold War Kids – Behave Yourself (Downtown, 2010) by Shaw Ingram In 2006, California indie-rock band The Cold War Kids released their major-label debut LP Robbers and Cowards to more critical than commercial success. The album was a gray pastiche of vagabond romance and moral ambiguity, bringing with it a new sound drenched in echo and reverb as well as a keen lyrical sense. The Soft Pack - The Soft Pack (Kemado, 2010) by Mik Davis The California band The Soft Pack embody classic punk rock. Even though singer Matt Lamkin possesses that same adenoidal snarl as hundreds of other bands, he manages to sound like a less-wavering Tom Verlaine (or a less-nasal Jonathan Richman) as he leads this band into battle against all of the bands who took punk to the mall and fused it with pop. Never fear though, The Soft Pack pack hooks. Above their amphetamine rhythms, almost every one of these ten songs has an immediately memorable chorus. Yes, they are sometimes unbelievably simple (“Awww C’mon Awwww C’mon”), incorporating call and response (“Down On Loving”) or solely consisting of rapid-fire repetition (“Kinda flammable this place”). If reductively writing about these conceits makes them sound dumb, you need only visit their website and listen to the anthemic wonder “Answer To Yourself.” Unlike the Strokes’ revolutionary “This Is It” or those that followed that path, The Soft Pack have no need to sound either retro or commercial. Eli Janney opens the production to sound as close to live as possible. His sparse use of effects allows the songs to resemble a lost gem from Sire in the Seventies or an SST record from the Eighties.
Their follow-up, 2008’s Loyalty to Loyalty, was a mundane ghost of the first album, a collection of unremarkable songs that sounded half-baked and didn’t seem to mean much of anything. Fast-forward to the present day and we have a new Cold War Kids EP on our hands: Behave Yourself. These five tracks, written during and since sessions for Loyalty, represent a brighter, breezier sound for the band. None of the brooding that characterized their earlier releases is present. Instead they have opted for a less dense, tightly percussive sound, one which may be more top-forty friendly yet seems unlikely to wind up there. “Audience of One”, to this listener, sounds like a song from the mom-rock band Train. “Santa Ana Winds” is only slightly less forgettable. “Coffee Spoon” and “Sermon” are the two strongest tracks, the latter having been penned prior to the release of Robbers and appearing there as a hidden track. The thirty-seven second coda “Baby Boy” sounds like a song from another band and is mercifully short. Ultimately the disc is mediocre, but shows more promise for the future of the band than Loyalty. The band has already commenced recording for their next full-length release. Hopefully, this EP will prove to have been the step in the right direction that puts them back on the path to indie-rock magic.
What truly sets this quartet apart from the pack is that beneath the surface they actually resemble surf-rock. Drummer Brian Hill pounds furiously on his drums like he thinks he is Keith Moon. Moon was a massive surf music fan and like Moon, Hill knows that these songs need to swing more than pound insistently. In addition, many of the guitar lines eschew heavy distortion to sound more strummed and almost twangy. The Soft Pack clearly know this is their secret weapon and wisely drop all their buzzbombs early before unveiling the slower, prettier “Tides of Time” and “Mexico.” In the end, what emerges is a record that captures a band showing a lot of promise. While they might not sound like the current branches of punk rock, at least they are giving today’s listeners a glimpse of its roots. www.inthepinesonline.com
photo by David Jackson
KEG & BARREL 1315 Hardy Street When it comes to Keg and Barrel, I’m biased for all the right reasons. First, the Keg offers the best selection of beer on tap in Mississippi, in a relaxed, Irish Pub atmosphere with comfortable seating inside and out on the porch. Second, Keg owner John Neal and I are charter members of the Hattiesburg Beer Club, which has met at John’s bar every second Sunday of the month for over two years. Furthermore, Mississippi’s only working brewpub makes its home in the Keg and Barrel, serving a rotating selection of styles that are rare in the Magnolia State. On top of all that, my sister waits tables at the Keg, but don’t let my nepotism dissuade you: this bar is serving some of the freshest and most delicious food in Hattiesburg. Hattiesburg is lucky to have several drinking holes with great food, but the Keg sets itself apart with its commitment to house made dishes featuring fresh ingredients. They make nearly everything from scratch, including all of the dressings and sauces. The kitchen does a great job covering the bar food staples; if Coop De Ville wings are Cadillacs, the Keg and Barrel serves Bentleys. Meaty, hand-cut wings and drumettes are less cartilaginous than the standard, leading to a silky interior texture, like barbecued ribs. The thin, crisp skin sticks to the meat, and the house wing sauce adds the perfect balance of sweet, buttery, and spicy. The wings come with either blue cheese or ranch dressing, both made from scratch and both an excellent foil. Other standouts in the guilty pleasure category include the bacon cheddar fries, which feature thick, hand-cut steak fries. The Keg’s breakfast plates prove that beer goes with every meal; waffles, eggs, bacon, sausage, and cheese-and-veggie packed hasbrowns go great with a brown ale or stout.
The Keg serves a plethora of burgers and sandwiches, including the noteworthy Keg and Barrel BLT. Fried green tomatoes give the sandwich a density and heartiness rarely found in a BLT. The perfectly cooked, thick sliced bacon adds a complementary crunchy texture. The sweetness of the green tomatoes adds depth of flavor, and the remoulade spread over wheatberry bread is a complimentary nod to southern tradition. While the basics are certainly well-represented, what the Keg does best is its Hattiesburg exclusives. John Neal’s Chicken and Waffles deserves special recognition: Hand-breaded, cooked-to-order fried chicken in white or dark meat served with a homemade waffle and maple syrup. The combination might sound strange to some, but it’s a fine soul food tradition that I’m thrilled to have available in town. A veteran Keg menu item, the Smoked Turkey Sandwich puts a pile of smoked in-house turkey breast between wheat bread, dressed with blueberry mayonnaise. The turkey is perfectly smoked, without the harsh, woody sweetness common in deli versions, and the mayonnaise provides a sweet twist that’s mediated by the hearty bread. With nearly a hundred beers on tap and in the bottle, a menu that would please everyone from barflies to vegetarians, frequent live music and special events, exclusive beers, and friendly service (ask for Cassie), the Keg and Barrel is a crown jewel in Hattiesburg’s restaurant scene. The month of March means St. Patrick’s Day, on March 17 unless that date falls during Holy Week, and the Keg celebrates it better than anybody in town. Look for bagpipes, an all you can eat Irish buffet including Guiness Stew as well as corn beef & cabbage, an all new Southern Prohibition Irish Red beer, and traditional Irish music performed by Seisun. It’s an event no one wants to miss!
photo by David Jackson www.inthepinesonline.com
Comic book writers become graphic novel authors through a very subtle modification to their medium. Yet, some artists seem to be above the two classifications altogether. As the underground comix movement enters its fifth decade of relevance, Robert Crumb remains one of the most important figures among graphic authors, regardless in what genre we place him. His newest work retells one of the most powerful and important stories in history: the Book of Genesis. Obviously, R Crumb, as he’s known, does not embody any notion of an ideal Christian. He remains an outspoken, self-proclaimed agnostic thinker, and his works have inspired almost as much condemnation as admiration. Nevertheless, he has crafted an exceptionally literate and appropriate if mature version of the original scriptures of the Judeo-Christian tradition. His reading and representation of Genesis reflect careful attention, a passionate intellect, and an equitable appreciation of his source. His intentions seem clear from just a cursory glance at frames from anywhere in its 50 chapters. Crumb sought to deliver the first accurate, graphic representation of Genesis to date, and he has succeeded excellently. To be sure, the man famous for his voluptuous vixens and horny sociopaths retains many of the stylistic hallmarks fans should expect. Genesis is one bawdy, violent tale full of double crosses and begots galore, and R Crumb spares few details. But, his style here lends an appropriate level of reality and a potent flourish of beauty. Relying on multiple English translations, including the King James Version, but especially Robert Alter’s The Five Books of Moses, he further explored relevant commentaries from theologians and historians of multiple traditions to help develop his vision. Beyond the text, Crumb utilized a broad range of images from Hollywood epics to architectural and anthropological research to inform his images. Since its release, Crumb has maintained a steadfast relationship to this work, resisting every attempt to construe it as a joke or trick. He recognizes that the “powerful text... seems indeed to be an inspired text” while maintaining his conception of it as still “words of men.” His relationship to the stories remains obviously complex and somewhat beyond easy categorization by the mainstream media. Robert Crumb has never been understood in popular culture very well, anyway. One of the most important documentaries in all of cinema history, entitled simply Crumb, makes it clear how this man’s past, his upbringing and family, his desires,
passions, and perversions, coalesced with an immense natural drawing talent to propel him to the forefront of the underground comix artists in the 1960s. The film deserves to be seen by anyone possessing an open mind about the intersection of sex and art, madness and genius, torture and brotherly love. It will cause some cranial rewiring. Originally presented and propelled to national attention by famous auteur David Lynch, the documentary launched the career of director Terry Zwigoff, who has gone on to make several more irreverent but critically acclaimed movies. Following Crumb around San Francisco during the early 1990s shortly before he, his wife (also an excellent illustrator) and young daughter
(yes, also an excellent illustrator) leave the United States, the film conveys the disturbing family history that fueled his creativity. With two crazy brothers, one older and insanely aggressive, another younger and fiercely competitive, a mother jacked on amphetamines and a classically detached 1950s father, Robert learned to draw in an environment of stifling sexual repression and underlying insanity. Throughout the film, a soundtrack featuring favorites from Crumb’s vast collection of traditional American music on 78 rpm records, underscores his bitterness with contemporary American society. Indeed, he is an accomplished string band musician, having recorded with the Cheap Suit Serenaders as well as Eden and John’s East River String Band. His last major work before Genesis actually developed from his abiding passion in classic American acoustic music. Truthfully, it deserves mention right alongside Genesis for its sheer power and beauty. R. Crumb’s Heroes of Blues, Jazz, & Country began as a series of illustrations for several decks of trading cards he made in the 1970s. Featuring almost every important name in the development of this country’s music before 1940, the book offers a unique synthesis of pictorial record, hardcover arts collection, and informative history. Not to mention, it comes with a CD compiled by Crumb himself. R Crumb’s output may have broadened since the days that established his infamy. But, his singular perspective remains powerful throughout his work. As “comics” continue to establish themselves further as relevant creative art, R Crumb’s contributions will never be discounted. Ribald, playful, truthful, and disturbing, Crumb’s graphic analysis skewers conventions and expectations for a grilling under the flame of his pen’s tip, and the public gets the feast.
Many years ago, some knucklehead newspaper reporter, assigned to interview the great Louis Armstrong as he made his assent to international fame, posed a dumbass question: “Do you consider your style of music to be folk music?” Pops answered with no reservation: “All music is folk music. I ain’t never heard no horse sing a song!” 1964 - New Orleans I had the opportunity to assist my childhood friend Johann Rush who, at the time, was a cameraman/reporter at New Orleans’ forth rated-no budget TV station. Our assignment was to follow the Beatles concert at City Park Stadium. His station would not pay for two people to do the job, but he needed me to tote a heavy battery on my chest suspended by a criss-cross nylon strap, which cut into my 135 pound body like a Ginzu Knife through an over-ripe mango, to power the over-sized portable camera he wore on a metal chest harness. (On the night of the concert, we ran for our lives across the football field to avoid being trampled by a terrifying blitz of little girls screaming like wounded wild dogs doing imitations of an Ornette Coleman solo. But, that’s another story.) The afternoon pre-concert press conference was held at a now defunct East New Orleans hotel conference room. The reporters from WDSU-TV, WWL-TV, Times Picayune, and other media establishments scrambled for the chance to interview the new pop culture sensations. They had all journeyed from the same land as the Neanderthal who insulted Satchmo at the beginning of our story. The torture of the Fab Four started with a loud competition for their attention. “Do you like Al Hurt?” “What do you think about Pete Fountain?” “Ever been to Bourbon Street?” “Have you had a poboy?” “What do you know about Mardi Gras?” The boys answered with absurd Orwellian riddles that confused the reporters even more, providing great fun for fans during the evening news. Beatles 10 – Old Fart News Reporters 0. Enter the Critic! Or, The Dude Who Tells You What to Dig. Once upon a time, information on new music was to be found in magazines like Rolling Stone, Down Beat, etc. The music reviewer wrote a positive or negative review that had a strong impact on record sales. I read once that the first Creedence Clearwater Revival’s from 1968 was an unremarkable disc with exaggerated vocals. What? John Fogerty’s take on Dale Hawkins Susie-Q was a red hot sizzler. Was this guy nuts, I wonder? Frank Zappa declared that “most rock journalism is people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk, for people who can’t read.” A strong but obviously sincere statement from Brother Frank, one of the first genre benders. www.inthepinesonline.com
The PINES is: Chris Cagle (text ed.) Josh Oberst (design) David Jackson (photo ed.) Jessica Boykin (webmaster) Contributors: Sumner Baggett Butch Bailey Cthulu Carl Troy Coll Harry Crumpler III Mik Davis Roy Eure Sr. Shaw Ingram Jason Perry Will Poynor Sydney Tyson
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