Guitar Idol 2008?
Coverage 2008 Itâ€™s everything they sayâ€Ś and more. reporting by edie and Evan Bleier
Brazilian Guitarist Gustavo Guerra could take home the gold. by Jorge Leandro Rodrigues
Midwest Teen Sex Show
A sexy, creative collective that truly scores by Jose Ho-Guanipa
Vividly inspiring, always addictive
the defog The Myriad
FREE CD Inside
Dig This – What the Hell is Wrong with Our Society Today?, Mersey Beat 08, Smith Island, Friendly Rich, Harptallica, HeadCount, Gustavo Guerra, Trutone 7 SXSW 08 – What’s played, trekked and littered with band flyers all over?
Features – Amoroso, Of Love Possessed, The Myriad, Nerv, Carrie Rodriguez 24 Live Reviews – Nada Surf, New York Dolls, Widespread Panic, Acid Mothers Temple, Aberdeen City, Bamboozle Tour 08, Max Bemis & Say Anything, Coachella 08, Wolf Parade 31 Cover Story – The Defog.
Release Reviews – Appleseed, Battles, Caesar Pink and the Imperial Orgy, Carla Bruni, Dream Theater, Drive-By Truckers, Federico Aubele, Funky Mustard, Kat Eggleston, Kelly and David, Ladycop, Leiana, Magnetic Fields, Marissa Nadler, Ray Davies, Red Collar, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Viarosa, Walt Ribeiro, Where’s Moo 44 Dig This Reel – How 11 pages turn up some heavy shit – Tad’s “Busted Circuits and Ringing Ears” dvd 54 Trendoid – Wanna know what guys really fantasize about? 56 The Pocket Gods guest scribe for our Readers on why it’s not that hard being green 58 From the Foam Finger Committee – Music from the Anatidae Label 60 Dear Cthulhu by Patrick Thomas 62 Kulture Shock – Where else can you find a Unicorn on Boner Boulevard? 63 Zine Corner – What a Hoot! And to think, 25 years! 64 Book Reviews – Family Blog interview with Clary Antome, in its entirety. Bachelor Party Confidential: A Real-Life Peak Behind The Closed-Door Tradition by David Boyer and Bad Attitude by Leopold McGinnis 66 Jack of All Trades – Toronto Troubadour Jim Bravo shows you how to set up for your next great creation 72 Dig In – Mom always said, “don’t play with your food.” We say, “Shut up, Mom and pass the P.B. Loco.” 73 Kind of a Big Thing – Craftress Ali K. shows you how to turn arts and crafts into cash 74 DTR Style & Fashion – “Singer” can go both ways for Buick Audra. Is it bezel, biseau or chamfered? Ask the folks at Studio 174 76 Poetry Corner – Rob Quine of the Barbarellatone’s once sang, “he’s a cat-trastrophy and he’s cat-atonic too.” Malcolm Y. Knotte begs to differ 77 DTR’s Political Pundit 79 DTR Special Feature - Cigar Box Guitars
DTR Health & Fitness 88 DTR Short Story 92
Cover photo of The Defog by Jason Messner
Let it be known that my full-blown obsession with all things South American has been reduced to a slight simmer. Though the passion I have for its music and culture still burns deep within my heart, I felt I needed a break from it. This innocent inspiration completely suffocated me to the point where I found myself semi-relocated in Argentina for two months back in December of 2007 and January of 2008. Living amongst the Porteños in Buenos Aires was an eye-opening experience – one, that took a lot out of me. It would eventually take two months and a trip to Austin, Texas to bring me back - to me - again. My story, “Searching for Spinetta,” will resume in Issue #14 because I am still in my trimester with it. While I was in the mountains of Salta, Argentina, the folks at SXSW came knocking (via internet, of course) with an invitation for DTR to attend their extravaganza and despite that I was high on cocoa leaves at the time, I accepted. So DTR’s Managing Editor Evan and I packed our bags and headed South (but for me, it was a very slight South). There is nothing like a good kick in the pants, a ton of beer and a handful of buffalo wings to jump start ya right back into reality! Please read all about this concert-festival-orgy of sorts starting on page 18. One might think this issue is heavy with boobs (check out page 63 and 64), animals (pages 7, 60 and 77), and let’s not forget to mention the wedding theme we also have going on here (found on page 9 and 66). Being totally conscious when putting together assignments and editorial normally does not apply here. Sometimes Dig This Real just happens. This “just happens” thing may also be responsible for the 23+ mentions of Radiohead found in this issue as well. I love reading great “live reviews,” to the point that I end up seeing that very band the next time they breeze through town. This is exactly how I felt when I read DTR newcomer, Nicholas Miller’s piece on Say Anything (page 36). I also want to introduce another new writer to the DTR family, Cindy Chisvette. Cindy is based on the East Coast so when we received press passes to the LENY Fashion Show, I invited her to cover it. When Cindy got to the Jacob Javits Center in NYC, she tried to crash the wrong fashion show (which is so typically DTR), but soon after realizing that there was a reason DTR wasn’t on the press list, she used her instincts. As she put it, “I just followed some people that had blue and green hair and found where I was suppose to be, where the real fashion show was.” Sometimes great writers just happen. And lucky for us, Cindy happened. Read her pieces on page 25, page 35 and page 48.
Issue 13 Editor-in-Chief Samantha “edie” Collins Managing Editor Evan Bleier DTR Staff Writers
Lauren Piper, Kevin Walsh, Federico Di Pasquale, Mike Stone, Nelson Heise, Cindy Chisvette, Nicholas Miller, Dean Massey, Christina Baker, Christian Recca, Corey Landis, Jose Ho-Guanipa, Juliette Hernandez, Alexandria Kain and Alison Kooney
Tina Peden, Jeff Hassay, Jorge Leandro Rodrigues, The Pocket Gods, Fabian Rothschilde, Malcolm Y. Knotte, Angelica Wytch, Miles Beltran, Leopold McGinnis and Patrick Thomas
Jorge Leandro Rodrigues
Brass Monkey Girl
DTR Office Assistants
Cathie “the Fullfillment Girl” Kooney
Carrie Rodriguez/page 30 - Sarah Wilson Nada Surf/page 31 - Kevin Walsh All Live Band shot @ SXSW/pages 18 – 22 Bruce Green Cigar Box Guitar photos starting on page 85 Ivan Sucharski Alison Krauss/page 75 - Randee Saint Nicholas Joss Stone/page 75 - Basia Zamorska Buick Audra /page 75 - Corey Tatarczuk Illustration on page 71 - Leopold McGinnis
244 Fifth Avenue Suite 29037 New York, NY 10001-7604 www.digthisreal.com Don’t cry for me!?! Here I am in La Plata, with my Argentine “thinking cap” on! 6
Move over Anna. Cindy’s here.
Where Do You Draw The Line and What the Hell Is Wrong with Society? It didn’t happen overnight, but what I witnessed over one certain weekend summed up a lot of things that have been gnawing at me for a long time. The question I seek to answer is: what the hell is wrong with society? Where do we get these skewed ethics of what is acceptable? How can people complain about crime in America, the way children are raised and display a general lack of consciousness in society with all the bombings, shootings and other crap we see on the news? We have, as a society, done it to ourselves. It is a proven fact, what goes in your mind, comes out of your mind. It all starts with what may appear to be innocent, but where do you draw the line? How much is too much and when does it start to affect society as a whole? Now before you stereotype me as, ‘one of those animal rights, pseudo-religious wack jobs,’ let me clarify that I do love animals. I believe in live mousetraps. I love animals but I am not a vegetarian and I do wear leather. What I do believe is that if you are go-
ing to kill an animal for food, it should be done humanely and that the animal should not be wasted (i.e. skins for clothing, meat for food, etc.) and that we should give thanks to the life of that animal for providing us the things we need to survive. As far as religion, I guess I can proclaim that because of circumstances I have none, but I still have strong theological viewpoints and this is one of them. It isn’t about the way you worship deity, it’s about the fundamental values of how you live your life. And it is these fundamental values that have come into question and how we as a society have allowed the decline of humanity. This is the story of the proverbial straw that sent me reeling. I have sensitivity to what an animal is feeling. I know when they are scared, hurt, not feeling well, happy and content. They all have unique personalities. I had a dog who loved to play, ‘dress up.’ The dog would pick out a sweater in winter and bring it to me to dress her before going out for her walk. I had a cat that used to enjoy divebombing me from the highest point
(especially when I was sneaking in late at night so the parents wouldn’t know what time I was crawling in from the clubs). We would climb into my bed and ‘wrestle’ with the ‘blanket monster.’ Then there was my baby, “DC.” She had her way too with her unique personality. She was FIV+, a star, the light and joy of my life. When she first entered my life she woke up from nightmares and was afraid. She had been abused and you knew from her actions she didn’t live a good life. Within a year, with lots of love and nurturing, she relaxed and she enjoyed having her belly scratched and we played this game called “chicken legs” where I would gently pull her little feet. She would purr and tilt her head and you knew she liked it. Even at the zoos or a circus, you know when an animal is content or not. Some animals enjoy performing and that is fine. I have no issue with that. Watch Animal Planet and you know which animals WANT to be there. That being said, I went with some friends to the Cowtown Rodeo in Southern New Jersey where I had a major meltdown. I was looking for-
the personal values of these people, including the folks I was with, that I come from a very different place and that I don’t belong there. From a personal standpoint it felt like I was sitting in the Coliseum watching the lions eat a man alive - all for the boredom and entertainment of the community. I stood by the main gate trying to keep a low profile. I also prayed for I don’t know what. All I do remember is that I had a complete melt down here, at Cowtown. How far is too far? How far do we push the lines of
ward to it, thinking I was in for some barrel racing, keyhole running and the rodeo I knew as a kid. I even performed in two rodeos competing in the keyhole race and also performed, “ballet on horseback,” which was something quite unusual. Again, the animals wanted to be there and liked being the center of attention and performing. At Cowtown, what shocked me the most was to see people outwardly abusing the animals and the panic these animals displayed. There were a few specifics that bothered me, the least of which was the horse who had to go. The tail was up and the rider was yanking on the bit stressing the animal out. From there it just got worse, because I was seeing the fear and terror of a baby calf being jumped on by a big burly, jerk-off of a cowboy. It wasn’t that they held the animal down like a wrestling match, but they did the whole hog-tie thing and the animal looked terrified. I could actually feel that terror coursing through me. I watched in horror as these attendees were seeing this as ok behavior. I tried to get a grip on the bad energy in this place and then someone in my party informed me that they were going to drag this calf through the ring on horseback! That’s when I was out of there. All of a sudden, I felt physically sick and nearly vomited. I think I was more horrified wondering about 8
humanity? What does this teach our next generation? Think about it. If I were to jump in the rodeo ring and hog-tie the cowboy (despite the fact the jackass might like it) and drag him through the ring while on horseback, don’t you think someone would be horrified and call the cops? I’d be in jail and that would be that. Society would decide I had gone too far and I would be public enemy number one. Let’s take my point a step further and think about Sport Fighting. The fighters are there under their own free will, but at some point the blood lust takes over and the one fighter is ahead but continues to punch while the other is down causing extreme harm or death. Don’t you think there wouldn’t be a criminal investigation to determine where the line is crossed? When does “sport” turn to “assault?” It’s not just the rodeo itself, but the way the culture has evolved around this general acceptance of bad behavior. Think about the people you know. People use disabilities, lack of
work, their childhood traumas, all as an excuse to feebly justify bad behavior. And what about the actual people that are cheering the abuse to animals? What does that say about them? What does that say about their values? What are they teaching their children? At Cowtown, there was a live petting zoo. To my horror, I observed a young kid grabbing onto a rather older bull that was inside this zoo. Then the kid started punching the animal. The parents, whom were standing right there, could be heard saying, how ‘cute’ this all was! I felt I had to say something! I ended up addressing this child while disregarding the parent, by saying, “you might not understand this because you are small and I don’t know why your mother hasn’t stopped you, but this bull is a animal. This is one of God’s creations and by hitting the animal you are hitting God’s creation. You should always respect the creation around you and don’t punch the poor animal…” The kid, a bit stunned eventually stopped. The mother grabbed him and pulled him away. When does brutal entertainment, live and uncensored Real Life TV cross the line? It’s not play, like a horror movie. You can’t write it off as fantasy or science fiction. How do we explain this brutality to our next generation? Why is it that to be entertained, society tends more to the extremes? Is this what we need to feel alive? Have we truly created a society of megalomaniacs? What is wrong with the world that we can’t find joy in the simple things like watching a sunset or spending time with our family and friends? What goes in your mind goes out. An abused parent tends to raise and abuse the child. I could go into a lot of psycho-babble about the subject, but I think the point is made. As a society, we need to really look at the way the world is today and look at what we want to create in our world and stand by those beliefs and convictions. Fight the urge to follow society and stand by our values no matter what. The skewed ethics we have allowed society to embrace has already created a number of problems in society from disease, to addictions, violence and all with no remorse. How much is too much and how do we stop the evolution of an inhumane self destructive society? – Angelica Wytch
Signs That You Have Come Into Contact With A Bridezilla
Do you have a friend or relative who used to be as, “sweet as apple pie,” but has done a complete 180 and turned into a _itch, ever since she got engaged? Is the only thing that you hear roaring out of her mouth since she got engaged is: MY WEDDING! MY WEDDING! MY WEDDING!? Would you happily prefer to have a root-canal over having to be within a 10 foot radius of your newly-engaged friend or relative? Well, CONGRATULATIONS! You have just come into contact with your first Bridezilla! (and god help you). And, just in case some of you out there reading this article don’t know what a Bridezilla is, the following is a definition written by author and etiquette expert, Gail Dunson, that pretty much sums it up: “BRIDEZILLAS are a new breed of soon-to-wed women who abuse the idea that weddings are ‘their day.’ They terrorize their bridal party and family members, make greedy demands and break all rules of etiquette to insure that they are the single most important person on the planet from the time that they are engaged to the time that they are married.” The transformation from good to evil is truly astounding! How To Get Rid Of A Bridezilla There are a lot of ways that a person can get rid of a Bridezilla, but most of them are against the law. Basically, if you don’t want to wind up in jail or in the electric chair, I am going to suggest this less controversial method. Buy her a journal and encourage her to use it frequently. One of the main reasons why a Bridezilla acts the way that she does or any other Bride for that matter, is the extreme stress that usually comes with planning and executing a wedding. Go out and buy her a journal so that she can record her thoughts and experiences, good and bad, leading up to the big day. Frequent journaling can help a Bridezilla get the little things as well as the big ones off of her chest. This release
can actually make her feel better mentally and physically because some of the weight that she has been carrying around has been lifted. Also, by recording her thoughts and experiences and then going back and re-reading what she has written can sometimes make things much clearer and give her some fresh insight that she didn’t have before. Journaling really can help you solve some of your problems. When deciding what type of journal to buy for your friend or relative, remember anything goes! The journal that you give to her can be of any size or of any medium. The journal can be small and portable like a pocket-sized notebook or it can be big and bulky and require a forklift to carry it. It doesn’t matter! The journal has come a long way baby! ---For those Millennium Bridezillas, you might want to consider giving her a microcassette recorder with a pack of microcassettes. This method of journaling is highly effective for those Bridezillas on the go and for those who love to hear the sound of their own voices. ---For those Voyeuristic and Egotistical Bridezillas you might want to suggest to her that she create her own online journal or wedding blog. There are so many sites where she can do this. And do it for free! Tblog.com and Myspace. com are some good ones. Blogger.com is another excellent one. At Blogger, she can publish her thoughts and get feedback from other Bridezillas, professional wedding planners, cake decorators and florists. Blogger also lets you post photos! So basically, a Bridezilla can snap a shot of her wedding dress and then upload it for all the world to see and drool over. They also have two other cool features worth mentioning. The first one is called Blogger Mobile. It lets you send photos and text to your blog from your phone. A must for the Bridezilla on the go! The second is Audio Blogger which lets you call Blogger from any phone and leave a message that is instantly posted to your blog as an MP3 audio file.
Remember, whatever method a Bridezilla uses to journal doesn’t matter, just as long as she does it, frequently. The main objective in helping a Bridezilla get rid of the stress that is making her act irrationally is for her to get what is bothering her out on paper, cassette, or an online journal or blog. And not to take it out on innocent friends, relatives or hired staff who just want to help. It’s important as a friend or relative, that you make her see that journaling during this extremely stressful time has so many benefits that she should take advantage of.
1. She can use her journal to set goals and deadlines of what she wants to accomplish each day before the wedding 2. She can really get herself organized which may help to alleviate some of the chaos that comes with planning and executing a wedding 3. She can keep track of her expenditures. Nothing creates more stress for a Bridezilla than spending money that she doesn’t have 4. Her journal can serve as a beloved memento that can be shared with the kids one day In the case of an online journal, she can help other brides-to-be, by sharing valuable info like: who are the best caterers in town and the photographers who are most likely to rip you off. And do you want to know what the biggest benefit of all is? Frequent journaling has the power to get rid of a Bridezilla! And let’s face it, that is exactly what everyone involved in a wedding wants. - Tina Peden 9
2008: A unique chance for Liverpool to cast off the role of cultural theme park and reinvent itself as a centre of creative innovation and a modern European city. Talking to people in the creative industries, I hear much pessimism, perhaps not all of it entirely unfounded. We have been let down by our political leaders so many times over the years and the infighting over the leadership of the Culture Company, the cancellation of the Matthew Street festival and the resignation of Robyn Archer did not bode well. But we should recall what the focus is now: CULTURE, not administration. This city and people has always had a massive creative spark, something that I believe has its roots back in the oral storytelling culture of our celtic forefathers, our DNA is the same as Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, James Joyce and Flann O’Brien! These men were rebels and revolutionaries. Joyce was the first man to abandon linear narrative in, Ulysses and THAT is our heritage. In conversation with a journalist friend of mine, I argued that if creative forms are to change, artists must look at structure rather than style, an architect from the Bauhaus school put it beautifully when he said, ‘the style is the lie.’ For example Picasso was able to take painting forward by abandoning linear perspec10
tive, giving a sense of ‘walking around’ the subject rather than viewing it head on. So I urge artists, musicians, writers, comedians, dj’s, anyone to take this on board. The future is about changing the very building blocks of what we do, not dabbling with stylistic collage approaches, which in reality is tantamount to eclectic plagiarism. One of the problems of our times, certainly in the western world, is the growth of ‘ironic art.’ The bottom line mentality is - ‘this is rubbish, but we both know it, so aren’t we clever?’ For me, this is artistic cowardice of the worst kind, a way of hedging bets with a built in escape clause (it’s irony, don’t you get it?). Best example? The Darkness. Remember that band? A post-modern version of Queen? No thanks. I recently encountered the remarkable Anton from the
Brian Jonestown Massacre, who is a real creative, charismatic zealot. Will not be bought and sold. His management is based in Liverpool and although he is from San Francisco, HE believes in us as a city. Do YOU? Here is the point. With the eyes of the world upon us, we have a chance to kick start a new renaissance but we have to take risks. We cannot be bought and sold. It’s about STRUCTURE, stupid! So learn the lessons of the past, but always look to the future and CREATE DANGEROUSLY!
...now lets go get ‘em! - Fabian Rothschilde, Cultural Assassin
Smith Island Sex, Drugs, Rock and Art Behind a heavy curtain in the back of the Bowery Poetry Club lies Smith Island. It is a man made island unlike any other. Performance art, rock music, voyeurism and good old fashioned cocaine snorting and whiskey drinking converge in an experience that is both aural and visual. You may or may not want to try this stuff at home. In front of a huge screen showing a barrage of different short films, a rock band hammers out strong grooves, disco funk and streamlined psychedelia in perfect accompaniment with the images being presented on the screen. This phenomenon is further augmented by the presence of a ballsy female singer who struts around the stage crooning with the power and ferocity of an alley cat in heat. At times brandishing a dominatrix whip which is used on band members, backup sing-
ers and audience members alike, she is at times tender, fierce and vulnerable. These same sentiments can be applied to the visual backdrop. The films showcase a variety of different stories and characters which range in their content and appeal. There are images of rape, love, indulgence, deprivation, deception, romance and murder. Texas Chainsaw-esque imagery shows young lovers lovingly using drugs together, female tricksters turning a supposed sex romp into a crime scene, a whiskey fueled drive through the country leading to a sex crime and a fly being reborn in the image of a superhero. The images, characters and storylines are all jarring and fit in with the music like an incredibly distorted but exquisitely crafted jigsaw puzzle. There is much to see and lots to interpret, far more than one could absorb in
a single visit. It is possibly because of this that upon visiting Smith Island it is widely apparent there are a number of people in attendance that have been there before. A cult vibe hangs in the air and seems to be a source of energy for both the performers and the audience members to feed off of. It may not be a tropical paradise but Smith Island most assuredly can boast some fairly restless natives. The show, a great place to visit for a departure from the norm, and although there is no guarantee that the memories will be rosy, they most definitely will be interesting and not soon forgotten. Smith Island is performing the first Friday of every month at the Bowery Poetry Club; 308 Bowery, NYC at 10:00pm. Admittance is $10.00. www.myspace.com/smithisland - Evan Bleier
p o p i l l o L e h t d n Friendly Rich a t s o m e h t f o e People: On ? r e v e , s d n a b d underrate When I saw a photo of Canadian musician Richard Marsella also known as Friendly Rich, (composer for The Tom Green Show) and his collaborators, The Lollipop People, I just knew that this was a band that I would be getting drunk to from now on. It is not just the cd cover of (any of their five cd’s) like: The Friendly Rich Show or We need a new F word, that give you a feeling of being caught in the middle of a twisted carnival. It is the whole ambiance that Friendly Rich and the Lollipop People secrete. Their photos, website and their music tell an eclectic eerie tale. The listener can feel lost, frightened, a sensation similar to feeling like you are dancing in your underwear and then suddenly - lost and frightened again. It partially starts with the name: Friendly Rich and the Lollipop People – then suddenly I am imagining midgets, unicycles, yellow brick roads and men using umbrellas to fly. But hey, what’s in a name, right? The band of 14 and founders of The Brampton Indie Arts Festival (held every February in Brampton, Ontario, Canada) carries a live show to dress up their music act, where you may just find a unicycle, an umbrella and possibly hear a crank call or two! The Friendly Rich Show is touring in Germany, Austria and Quebec this year where they will be equipped with a bassoon, a clarinet, a harpist, a banjo, an accordion, a cello and from their own words, syphilis, though that cannot be confirmed as true. What is it about Friendly Rich and his ensemble of orchestral majesty that does the label experimental right? I think it is the fact that it truly is experimental and it resonates as being so. It sounds like a child show on LSD coupled with a twisted circus found in a B-horror movie. It sounds like nothing you have ever heard and that makes it astoundingly refreshing. The onslaught of ensemble bands like Broken Social Scene and Devendra Banhart are part of the charm with Friendly Rich. The eccentricity that all of the members emanate bring a new perspective and talent to the growing spectacle pool. I expect that social networking sites like myspace and Facebook will have Friendly Rich listed as a super cool ‘debut’ artist of the month or something along those lines. Then what happens? A wave of new fame comes, followed by elitist hipsters treading deeper down the rabbit hole, looking for a band more obscure. This is a hole I think may have ended with Friendly Rich. A new album by the band, called Dinosaur Power (Pumpkin Pie Corp.) is out now. For more info check out www.friendlyrich.com
- Christina Baker 12
These days there is so much music available to us that it floods our ears with melodious reverberations and it all blends together into a wall of sound. But, there is always something that changes your mind about music’s direction and shocks the system. Just like Frank Zappa used to say, “Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.” And, over time this “deviation from the norm” has lavished upon the world unbelievable sounds that play our eardrums just like the first time Jimi Hendrix rocked the world on stage wailing his guitar at the Monterey Pop Festival in ‘67! So, when one explores the underground varieties, not before long the doors of perception will lead you to a place where auditory excellence is at its finest! Among many you will find two women, Ashley Toman and Patricia Kline, who together, with their harps, created a duo of phenomenal creativity and impeccable skill that is Harptallica. Both Toman and Kline, have been playing the harp since their childhood and are accomplished musicians hailing from the Eastman School of Music in New York. However involved they were in their studies of classical music, it could not overshadow their love for all different types of music, which includes heavy metal. One’s first reaction might be to ask, “What is the meaning of this, Harptallica?” But, it is not something to be questioned, only heard. Their album titled, Harptallica: A Tribute, demonstrates brilliant renditions of Metallica’s classic heavy
metal music with, well, harps. With every pluck of the strings on their magnificently enormous harps, Harptallica plays Metallica’s greatest music with such precision and balance. It transcends your mind to far away places, while at the same time, it never allows one to forget the original compositions that Metallica is known for. Toman and Kline are touring the U.S. at the moment and they had some time to speak with me. Read on about their creative endeavors.
Are you two interested in trying to reproduce other metal band’s music? We have added a Megadeth song into our performance. But, we still are listening to other bands. We might do some more Metallica or a mixture of things. Basically, it’s a lot of listening, taking note of songs and arranging it to see if it will translate well to the harp. Songs with strong vocal lines are really very difficult to translate.
Dig This Real: Why Metallica? Ashley Toman: Well, we were Metallica fans. We wanted to play with the sound and we started rehearsing while we were in school. I wish that we could have started earlier, but school kept us real busy.
Are there any bands that you would love to get together with and perform collectively? As of yet, it has never come up. But, yes, definitely, we are open to anything.
Have you spoken with any of the band members of Metallica? Have they heard your renditions of their music? No, we’ve never spoken. I don’t know that they have heard any of our music.
Do you have any last messages you would like to pass on to the readers? We would just hopefully like to broaden the horizon of the harp for people who may not have heard the harp or who would not even have wanted to hear it in the first place.”
How closely were you able to translate the original compositions to your harps? It is pretty close. There are some parts where we took artistic liberties and had to re-write little bits and pieces. You know because some sounds of the guitar cannot be re-created with the harp. But, it is pretty closely translated.
Patricia Kline: It’s nice to be able to bring the music to different areas, to expand genres and expose music to new things and places. It goes both ways, classical music lovers and rock music lovers. www.myspace.com/harptallica – Juliette Hernandez 13
With a new documentary in stores and a goal of registering 200,000 new voters in place, HeadCount has entrenched itself as one of the leaders in getting the youth to the polls. Recognizing the large audience that “jambands” have access to, HeadCount’s goal is to register as many voters as possible in order to ensure that the voice of live music fans across the county can be heard at the polls, not just screaming for “Freebird” encores. Many “jamband” shows retain the same sort of counterculture presence and aesthetic that was made popular in the 1960’s. However, in the 60’s politics was part of the scene. These days the music, the “performance enhancers,” and the attitude is still there, but the politics have largely been phased out. HeadCount was created in order to reverse this trend and bring activism back onto the scene. Concert goers are accustomed to being bombarded by a variety of different groups and organizations at any given show. Vendors want to sell you a t-shirt, a hot dog, or some sort of rock with “mystical” powers. Sobriety advocates are always willing to discuss 14
the virtues of getting on the wagon and sometimes will even hold a small meeting at the show. There is usually even someone from one cult or another urging open-minded youngsters to “get on the bus.” Recognizing this type of atmosphere, it makes logical sense to have voter registration tables set up in order to give both young and old potential voters a convenient way to get involved, get registered and get into the show before the first note gets played. By working with both the bands and concert venues, HeadCount ensures that staff members will have no problem getting access to concerts and getting their job done. This also gives music lovers an incentive to volunteer because not only do they get into the show, but they also may have an opportunity to meet with members of some of their favorite bands. This grassroots approach has proved to be both cost efficient and effective. During a single tour by the Dave Matthews Band, HeadCount was able to register 12,161 new voters. Not too shabby for a volunteer staffed, non-profit group. None of this would be possible without the support of the bands.
Pretty much every band affiliated with the “jam” scene is involved with HeadCount in one way or another. Be it as a founder (Marc Brownstein-The Disco Biscuits), a board member (Al Schniermoe, Bob Weir-Ratdog), or simply letting HeadCount be a part of their tour (Trey Anastasio, Government Mule, Widespread Panic), the musicians are the key component of the HeadCount equation. Regardless of their personal political views, these musicians and this organization are giving people who may have otherwise been left by the wayside an opportunity to register to have a vote, a service that should not be undervalued or overlooked. It is greatly refreshing to see young people at shows doing something other than selling vegan burritos or asking for free tickets. It remains to be seen whose voice will ultimately be heard in the coming election, but no matter how it turns out, those in the “jam” community have HeadCount to thank for amplifying theirs. For more information about the organization, including volunteer opportunities, visit www.headcount.org. – Evan Bleier
Guitar Idol 2008?
A Brazilian guy in the first place on the world-wide ranking of the Guitar Idol 2008 can be strange, but that is the truth. Gustavo Guerra won the competition, and now he is prepared for the great end, with opened voting, for a prize that includes, among others things, to play at the side of Joe Satriani, in London. Gustavo was born in Curitiba, Brazil, and he has received more than 5,200,000 votes in the Guitar Idol competition, demonstrating to the world that Brazil is not only the country of the samba. The big musical production found in Brazil is varied and Gustavo is evidence of that. He is a virtuous guitarist, who travels in between the musical styles with an impressive nimbleness. He has worked as a professional musician for 15 years and started to play guitar when he was only 7, with his father, Buby Guerra. Currently, he dedicates
time to the recording sessions, concerts, lessons and workshops, and even with so many activities, he has participated and won that big competition. After that, he is now being shown on some of the biggest TV Shows of Brazil, guaranteeing at least some minutes of fame. But Gustavo wants much more, and he is prepared to fly high. When he saw Youtube for the first time, he could not resist, so he uploaded his video. Soon the viewers grew and the comments started to appear. Today he is a phenomenon on Youtube, with more than 6 million accesses, and he receives messages from all over the world, praising his virtuous performances. Gustavo still breathes Brazilian airs, but he already dreams about a shining future. â€“ Jorge Leandro Rodrigues http://br.youtube.com/videosgustavoguerra http://www.gtridol.com/entries/top_rated
You know this scene. We’ve all been here before. You are hanging with a group of friends in someone’s basement, loft, garage, wherever, drinking some brews, having some laughs while the level of “special” smoke in the air rapidly increases. People get hungry, a pizza gets ordered and it becomes very apparent that no one is going anywhere for a while. After the excitement of the pizza order, conversation subsides and a comfortable but somewhat overwhelming silence fills the room. Everyone is lost in their own thoughts until, with bated breath, someone addresses the friend whose place it is with: “Hey! Do you still have that sweet record player?”
Motion re-enters the room. A flurry of sorting through LPs, arguing about bands and bold proclamations about the greatest albums of all time ensues. You know that due to all of the hype and expectation that has been created for it, the first record that gets put on is going to have a lot to live up to. You also know that the first LP that anyone ever puts on is always Frampton Comes Alive. You settle back in your chair and wait for the first few bars of “Something’s Happening.” But this time is different. You are shocked when you hear something that sounds suspiciously like the new Radiohead, Bright Eyes or (insert band that Rolling Stone slurps here), coming out of the speakers. Your mind is spinning with circular flights of dementia. No Frampton? No Pizza? New music on an old record player…how can this be? In case you didn’t hear, vinyl is back. And no one could be happier than the folks at Trutone, Inc. Trutone is a family owned and operated multimedia replication company offering the services of LP pressing. During a time when the economy is in the toilet and people are holding onto their cash more than ever, the industry of vinyl is booming. More and more bands are making the decision to release or re-release their music via the medium of 12” and 7” records. This is a trend that extends to bands both large and small, the ones playing arenas as well as the ones who are still rehearsing in the garage. Trutone is a studio that has been around for 3 decades and their reputation as a top notch quality vinyl producer is helping to enable them in taking full advantage of this state of affairs.
Due to the demands of both recording clients and vinyl lovers, Trutone was able to cut the minimum amount of records that they were willing to produce in half, thus opening the door even wider for music to get back on vinyl. According to the company, this was a necessary step to take in order to keep the business of vinyl purists who insist on exclusively listening to and collecting music on vinyl records. Interestingly enough, despite the size and bulk, some promoters feel that the best way to promote new bands is also through vinyl recordings. The reasoning is that the loud, crisp, heavy-on-thelow-end, sound produced by a classic record is far superior in sonic quality than the compressed, tinny sound of an MP3. The idea of bands showcasing themselves on vinyl instead of using the Internet to get their music out there digitally sounds outdated and strange, really showing how far down the Itunes inspired rabbit hole things have gotten. Digital music has been the dominant force in recent years and I think it is both a welcome and refreshing change to have another option move back into the fold. This development is also letting record stores and record manufacturers like Trutone recapture some of the market and sales that they have been losing to the digital music marketplace. Like so many things do, the popularity of records has gone full circle. In fact, the progression of records is strikingly similar to Bob Dylan’s religious preference as told in Adam Sandler’s, “Hanukah Song.” First vinyl records (Dylan) were popular (Jewish), then they weren’t, but now they’re back. (Note: Didn’t fact check this. All gripes should be taken up with Sandler, not with me.) Enjoy this resurgence while it lasts and go get yourself some new vinyl. After all, Frampton couldn’t last forever. Or could he…….? Trutone, Inc., 321 West 44th Street, Suite 1006 New York, New York, 10036 www.trutone.com. – Evan Bleier
reporting by edie
We zine folks don’t get out much, except for the occasional “live” show. The actual fact of ‘mingling’ at an event is rare. You see, we like it in the dark (think basement, hole in the wall apartment, room, scattered with ripped up magazines and tons of silvery discs canvassing the floor), as we pen away, listening to new material or music. So when our media invites arrived for this year’s SXSW, we decided it might be good for us to get out for a while. Texas is a country unto its own. This I would learn quickly, as I boarded my flight from NYC to Austin. I knew it was the right flight too; tons of scruffy musicians coupled with cranky music execs boarded along with me, instruments and guitar cases lining up and down the aisles. Everything they say about SXSW is true. Bands, bands and more bands. Panels, panels and conferences. Let’s not forget to mention the schmooze-fest Trade Show where tossing business cards is just as pertinent, and everyone is a superb opportunist-conversationalist. It’s also true what they say about paying attention when you are walking down 6th Street because if you are not, you could miss the fact that you have just walked alongside one of your favorite musicians or surprise! - cooking divas like Rachel Ray. Ray attended as Food Network offered to host the ‘feedback showcase,’ stating, “Battles music has long been enjoyed by Rachael and is a staple of her iPod.” Wow, I guess. Yummo? Despite the many years SXSW has been hosting this Industry mustattend affair (officially in 1987), it has grown over the years to offer film and interactive conferences in the last 10 years as well as spinning off a north-
ern affiliate (NXNE held in Toronto every year). With everything happening in the center of downtown Austin, Texas, two key factors could have put a damper on this year’s fest. The disappointing fact that Ms. Dolly Parton could not attend due to an injury was one factor. The other was the fact that this year, the branding patrol was out for the hunt – as reported in Encore Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. It seemed that Ticketmaster (and four of its subsidiaries) rented houses, complete with velvet rope and invitation only, “round-the-clock VIP treatment,” for the masses of music industry attendees. Thing is, these events were not approved or sponsored by SXSW. But the possibility of placing a dent in SXSW’s powerful draw and mainstream ego is mute. Each year Austin is blanketed with zombies, roaming up and down the flyer-littered 6th Street looking for the next great signing… After receiving Ariel Hyatt’s e-blast on how to prepare yourself for SXSW (sign up at www.arielpublicity.com) one statement she offered rang the loudest, ‘SXSW is a friendly place. Prepare to bring tons of business cards.’ The only set back that I experienced once arriving and stepping out into the heavy, hot Texas air, was where my lodging was situated - way out of the center of town. But after enjoying a conversation with my cabbie (as I tipped him, he handed me a piece of paper with the name of book about alien conspiracies scribbled on it as an exchange), I figured, I’ll just cab it. But as I would learn this doesn’t necessarily mean I will make it to Oz any time soon. The lack of taxis to get you to the Convention Center would become my enemy. This was such a problem that I would have to factor in 1-1/2 hours of my day in order for preparation to get a cab ride into town. Maybe this was all due to the fact that the majority of 6th Street was closed during the festival. In the end though, all my cab drivers were amazingly patient, for they too, had to deal with all this hoopla. Once cabbie named Martha found out I was a music critic, she gently directed me to four musicians’ websites that were among her favorites as she continued to dish the PR better than a Madison Avenue exec. Another positive about the taxi shortage was the fact that we were now expected to squeeze as many attendees into whatever cab showed up at the hotel first. Sharing these rides I met amazing people (Jeremy Wilson of
Popfuel; www.popfuel.com and Bruce Green, who contributed some great photos to us for this piece). Once at the Convention Center in downtown Austin, checking in was easy as pie despite that I was not impressed with the terrible photo badge. Mine made me look like I was a 90 year old man from Scandinavia (next time, I am totally wearing a costume). This ended up prompting the majority of folks not familiar with me to go right ahead and call me “eddie.” This year’s Trade Show was buzzing. I got the chance to chat up Sam Folio of American Federation of Musicians (www.afm.org) and Lynne Sheridan, Public Programs Manager of Grammy Museum at L.A. Live (www. grammymuseum.org) both whom piqued article interest. Other unpredictable but fully enjoying moments came when I stumbled upon the Barnes & Noble “book café,” where I got the chance to talk with authors Ann Powers and Randy Poe. Powers was vibrant as she engaged me in light conversation on the topics of two of her books (Weird Like Us – My Bohemian America and Piece by Piece, a book she cowrote with Tori Amos). Other thespians at this café over the duration of SXSW were Jim DeRogatis, author of the fabulous Let It Blurt/Lester Bangs story and poet Saul Williams. After tripping over a couple of booths of disorganized groups from Spain, I found solace at the Sonicbids (www.sonicbids.com) spread. They offered couches and despite that these were blow-up couches, a gal’s gotta rest! I was promptly greeted by Benjy Kantor of Sonicbids and from the moment of our first introductions to the time it took my plane to land in NYC, I was not only hooked up but completely unaware of the huge future success we would have using Sonicbids as a way Dig This Real accepts submissions for magazine coverage. I ended up spending a total of 4 hours on that floor in one day; meeting, greeting, shoving business cards into hands that were doing the same exchange. All this action, sandwiched in between panels, I couldn’t help but find myself exhausted, in need of a nap, a shower and a stiff drink in order to get on with the evening. At SXSW and with all the above mentioned, you just have to grease up and repeat, daily…. When Evan (managing editor of DTR) finally caught up with me (flying in later), it was then that I realized that one cannot cover this festival alone. Helping me cover more ground 19
gotta hand it to Ice Cube.
The man knows how to multi-task. Not having gotten a chance to read any sort of preview of his talk, I walked into his panel at SXSW expecting him to talk about his landmark gangsta rap group NWA, his career as a solo artist and his recent emergence as a family comedy move star. Instead, with the help of longtime collaborator DJ Pooh, he only briefly discussed rap music, Hollywood and the like, with the lion’s share of the talk being spent on his new interest. Apparently, in between filming movies and working on his new album which is due out this summer, Cube found time to create and launch an internet television network. UVN TV (www.uvntv.com) is an online television network which will allow viewers to stream high quality video and audio feeds of any almost type of show that their little hearts could desire. Creators Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson) and DJ Pooh (Mark Jordan) have envisioned a network which will offer viewers the opportunity to customize what they watch, when they watch it and even allow users to create their own channels and upload their own shows. The shows will all be presented in HD capable high quality feeds which will be streamed instead of downloaded. Members can submit their own audio and video, have it reviewed by owners of pre-existing channels and have the chance of their content being purchased and broadcast. Think of it as YouTube-ish network where only quality submissions are going to be accepted and where people are actually going to have the chance to make money off of what they create. That was only a very basic description and interested parties should check out the website for more information.
(thus, organize my time better) is one of Evan’s greatest traits. But he is, a dude. And in ‘guy’ language, “meals,” really means, “beer and chicken wings” – any and all times of the day. But after living this lifestyle for a couple of days, I fell into the comfortable numbness of it all. No sleep, music, wings, music, beer, blisters on my feet from walking or standing, music, beer. Somewhere along this blur, let it be known that we did diligently attend panels. While Evan favored the SXSW Interview: Ice Cube and DJ Pooh (please see his sidebar), I was sidelined by one happening during the same timeslot – “16” Magazine and The Birth of Music Journalism.” A complete feeling of giddy glee came over me for I was going to be sitting in the same room as Jaan Uhelszki, Sr. Editor of Rhapsody/Real Networks! Uhelszki was one of my heroes growing up, as I would spend hour after hour racing through copies of Creem magazine. But what I got out of this panel was surprisingly much more. To say that this was one of the most impressive panels I have attended would probably garner much laughter but somehow I found it not only informative and inspiring but culturally historical as well. Alongside Uhelszki, other panel members present were Susan Cowsill, member of The Cowsills, Danny Fields, journalist, band manager, Taylor Hanson of the band, Hanson and moderator Margaret Moser, Music/Austin Chronicle. As I found myself caught up with the impressive lineup and dialogue that was happening, I was just as embarrassed, admitting to myself that in my entire life, I may have owned maybe one copy of this glossy. By the end of this, I was itching to ebay some cash away. To hear this panel speak so passionately about, “16’s” Editor-in-Chief, Gloria Stavers and the silent, whimpering death this magazine eventually succumbed to, literally left me speechless. It was also easy to sense Moser’s disbelief that this magazine wasn’t (or isn’t) credited more for the impact it eventually had
on culture then and today. After learning of the career path Stavers took from a subscription clerk at “16” in the late 1950’s to Editor-in-Chief and how she branded the magazine by opening up the world of teen celebrities like no one had ever done before, it made complete sense of having Cowsill and Hanson to speak of their experiences growing up as teen idols and “!6” subject matter. Cowsill had the most vivid memories of Stavers. She recalled Stavers, “doing everything from styling the musical acts,” to giving motherly advice. As Cowsill stated, “Listen, you did whatever Gloria instructed you to
do. Even if you got yourself into trouble, as my brothers always seem to do.” Hanson’s comments didn’t feel much aligned with some of the dialogue here. Maybe this is because by the time he and his brothers reached fame and fortune, idolization was morphing once again into something else, through many more mediums other than print. Fields also spoke truthfully about the days he worked at “16.” His deadpan, delivered statements only added more fuel to this feverishly dedicated publication and musical pin-up must read. I was pleased to see Ann Powers in the audience. She proceeded to throw questions to the panel on the levels of teen and sexual exploitation then and through the ages. I collect art. My accountant actually has set aside a fund for me to annually invest in art. At the API & SXSW Flatstock 16 Poster Convention, I could’ve blown my entire saving. Thing is, most exhibitors didn’t offer shipping (only if you go onto their sites and only then, what you are in love with there may not be available through cyber-shopping). It was so frustrating. But with the cross-country traveling I had to do, nothing got purchased. I did, however have a blast shifting through the countless tables
of art. Highlights were Greg Reinel of Stainboy (www.stainboyreinel.com) and Leia Bell (www.leiabell.com). I could now take up this space to spread out over the next 12 pages, with random spewing on the musical showcases that SXSW 08 had to offer but 1) DTR tends to march to its own drummer and 2) our newest friend, Bruce Green, informed us that we had already missed the greatest performance this year and he highly doubted we would catch any other show more fabulous than The Slits performance. SXSW is known for its music showcases. During this festival music oozes out of every crevice, street corner and bus stop. It’s one continual concert. But unlike NXNE where you can actually plan and see all you want, things in Texas certainly do not guarantee that you will stick to the program. This is what happened to me a couple of evenings out. One example? I was caught on line outside of Maggie Mae’s Rooftop for the Nada Surf show but I actually didn’t care to see this headliner. I was there to catch opener act Jim Noir. But the place was packed to the max, complete with security and police speaking in hushed tones about, “fire hazards,” and “too many people upstairs.” I ended up experiencing much of Noir’s performance from the street curb outside. While he played well into his set, we waited. And waited. And waited. By then, two lines of people were forming (one with badges, one for wrist bands) and the waiting was contingent on people actually leaving the club. So if one person left, one person was let in. A total drag. I ended up catching one song live before the show was over! Calling it quits there and heading over to the
Eric Bibb showcase around the corner proved to be much more civil. Acoustic Blues musician Bibb’s performance was held at The Smokin’ Music venue, which was located across from the Convention Center. Not really a club, this space was holding court for the show’s sponsor which was Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, or better known as the folks that bring us American Spirit cigarettes. Found here, in this much more spacious and civilized space was a VIP area and get this – much needed breathing room (smoking was done outside)! Just as unexpected as this showcase, I must say that the SXSW Free Public Outdoor Show held at Auditorium Shores Stage proved more than amazing. Amongst the hordes of people found at this location I got to experience an awe-inspiring performance of Jean Grae, followed by Talib Kweli but not before stumbling into an impromptu performance of - Ludacris! Ludacris performed at one of the outdoor SXSW party tents across the street from the Austin Convention Center. On the final day of SXSW, I attended the softball tournament and barbeque, figuring that this would be a nice way to start easing back into the real world. As teams played on, I choked down barbeque that was way too fatty while chatting with Danny Fields about a book he had written called Linda McCartney: A Portrait. Fields was just as animated here at the ballpark as he was on the panel the day I heard him speak. Back on 6th Street, Evan and I did a quick interview for Texas television before having our last helping of wings and beer. Since now, it was so ingrained in our systems, we automatically walked to the closing party at Emo’s.
During the panel/interview Cube and Pooh answered not only the “what” about UVN but more importantly, the “why.” They want to give people the opportunity to create their own programming while granting people who have something to say, a forum in which to say it. They want to create a network that isn’t pigeonholed into the type of programming that it could or could not present and/or where taking chances and pushing boundaries would be considered the norm. One woman asked if UVN could conceivably air a fictional show in which the President was executed. Cube replied: “The current President? Hell yeah.” The two partners want to capitalize on the current trend of people spending more time in front of their computers than in front of their televisions. It’s apparent that they also want to make some money. Will it be a success? I don’t know enough about these type of things to offer any solid prediction, but I do know that Snoop Dogg already has his own channel. If there is one guy that America loves, it’s Snoop. If they get Samuel L. Jackson his own station and throw in a sports channel, a cooking/gardening/home design channel, some reality TV and some soft core porn, I would say it’s going to be a hit. UVN TV sounds like it is designed to be able to function even in the case of a writer’s strike. We all saw how well the established networks were able to cope with that. Cube and Pooh may have struck gold. Support multi-tasking. Check out their website and decide for yourself. - Evan
reporting by evan Touching down in Austin, Texas was slightly sticky. It had been a long day, a long flight and I had not been expecting 75 degree temperatures at midnight in the middle of March. Anyone who doesn’t believe our weather system is changing should probably try to get out a little more. After navigating through the airport and securing a cab, I got in the back seat and told the driver where I needed to go. He proceeded to laugh at me and inform me that my destination was about 30 minutes outside of town. Ouch. $75.00 dollars later, I was at my hotel. It seemed that I had booked myself into a strip mall. There was nothing around my hotel except a Taco Bell, an IHOP and a gas station that had police at it on more than one occasion during the course of my stay. It was about 1 in the morning when I checked in so naturally the Taco Bell was at the top of my priority list. I started walking the highway, the lights of passing cars and trucks nipping at my heels like wolves probably would have done in years gone by. I arrived unscathed, but apparently out of luck. The lobby was closed, drive through only and I had no car. I briefly considered trying to talk my way into a Chalupa but decided against it. You can’t fight City Hall or late night Taco Bell employees. After going back to the hotel and making numerous trips to the Ice machine, my solace came in the form of a vending machine. Consoling my defeat with ranch flavored corn nuts, I went to sleep dreaming of fire sauce and the spoils of the Shell Station beer cooler. They would be mine. Oh yes, they would be mine. The next morning got off on the right foot. The gas station didn’t 22
sell beer. It did however sell shredded beef jerky in little tins that resembled dip canisters and Bubble Tape, complete with shiny lettering ensured to attract the eye of a small child, or myself. Munching beef jerky on the way into the hotel’s continental breakfast and seeing a room of people chowing down on gravy soaked Texas shaped waffles reinforced what I had already begun to suspect. I was not in Kansas anymore. After injecting 4 or 5 Texas shaped sausages (Just kidding….that would be WEIRD), it was time to go to town. Badges needed to be picked up and credentials needed to be asserted. I got to the Convention Center and was immediately struck by the large amount of people wearing dark jeans with styled mullets. Apparently cutting the back of the air is very in this year. I don’t pretend to understand fashion or algebra 2. I secured my badge and switched on. Panels taught me about the Vinyl Revival (Records are back! See our piece on Trutone, Inc. in the Dig This section) and the new internet television network (www.uvntv.com, see sidebar) that DJ Pooh and Ice Cube have put together. Short and sweet like midget eating desert, finally it was time to sample the local take on Budweiser. Beers on an empty stomach lead to pleasant flashbulb memories. The rest of the weekend consisted of a number of moments linked together by strands of music, chicken, fun silences, awkward pauses, spicy corners, the locals, and glasses clinking in the key of salutation and devotion. The songs that we carry are the same ones that bring us home. --- Old school DJ Pete Rock getting a conglomerate of 40-somethingish baby boomers with kids to put down their sparkling mineral water and, “Throw Their Hands Up.” --- Walking by a tent that sounded like they were playing Ludacris. Walking into the tent and seeing Ludacris. Seeing all the ladies moving “just like that.” Sunglasses in the sun. --- A female fan turning around in amazement and exclaiming, “Wow! That Ludacris sure is good looking now that he cut all of that crap off of his head”. --- Far too many Miller beer products being readily accessible to the general public.
--- Female MC Jean Grae totally ripping it up and outdoing her benefactor, Mr. Talib Kweli. She carried the stage with presence, power, humility and humor. Very attractive girl, even with the clothes still on. This was not the night the lights went out in Austin. ---Ice Cube providing the an excuse for the masses: Gangsta Rap made me do it. Don’t think it will be too long before we hear someone utter those same words while testifying before Congress. His album is due out in June. --- A renewal of faith in the strength of live HipHop. Pick up when the beat drops. --- A gorgeous blond from Alabama wearing a white dress, expertly eating buffalo wings with deft and precision, refusing to allow even one drop of hot sauce to spill …….Yet another showdown in the longstanding feud between sugar and spice. --- A guy from Boston saying he hated Fenway Park and a guy from Louisiana saying that he loved it. Both of them were really in town to talk about music. --- The feeling that everyone who was in town had chosen to, and genuinely wanted to be there. Most people were ready, willing and able to talk to strangers and be pretty cordial, if not downright friendly. Candy was not a part of this type of exchange. --- Alcohol and various other things speeding this process along rather nicely. And so forth and so on until the last band had played the last note, the last glass was turned bottom up, the last ash was knocked from the end of whatever was being smoked, the last handshake given, the last new friend made, and the plane took off. The mustard had been cut and the show was over. After it was all done, it became time for my headphones to begin their escorting me home.
: o s o r o m A ling e e F h it W c si u M g in k a M
Amoroso formed with the ambition to play music as it is felt, to expel their sound in an organic display of instincts and desires. Their songs are a passionate blend of blurred freeform guitar, with kinetic energy rolling through the drums. Currently, the band stands as a duo, drums and guitar, vibrating their tunes on stage with two old lamps in the background. George Welch comments on their use of lighting, “We’re very sensitive to the vibe, just hey, we’re playing, I don’t want a spotlight on me, I just want my lamps man.” This vibe is what draws an audience to them, as well as the unpredictable, mind-blowing songs full of climaxes and breakdowns, with jazzy, Do-MakeSay-Think style interludes. The music rolls out of their bodies in a way that it’s clear the two are completely synchronized. Welch and Bill Sullivan grew up in Hanover, Massachusetts and met in sixth grade, bonding over alternative music and the idea of being in a band. It started as a pipe dream, as they learned newly acquired instruments through practicing and listening to as much music as possible. Their connection grew stronger as this goal became a reality and now, almost 14 years later, their music reflects the deep bond they have with each other. It was just a typical band: Welch playing guitar and singing, Sul24
livan on drums and a friend playing bass. As time went by, Welch didn’t want to sing anymore, he wanted to focus on guitar, so they found a vocalist. At some point, they decided to have no singer at all and felt that if they were meant to have one, somebody would come along who fit in with their tight knit dynamic. They also had a bassist throughout high school and on, but sooner or later, they were back down to two. Though both Welch and Sullivan know that their ambitions may require more than drums and guitar, they are waiting for the right personality, someone who can mesh with their outlooks and see music as they see it. “We are always keeping our ears and eyes open because we know we have ideas that the two of us can’t pull off,” Welch says of them as a two-piece. The most important thing is making something from scratch, completely original and pulling together influences and scraps of sounds they admire to invent something new. Their approach to playing and creating music may seem atypical but is extremely natural and impulsive. The sound that their inspirations spawn has a raw, intrinsic quality, that helps create beautiful and deep-rooted music with forceful rhythms and luminous, wandering guitar riffs. They play with feeling, much like the definition of their name, so warm and specific that you can feel the connection between their progressive, melodic bends and primitive drumbeats. Amoroso plays shoeless most of the time and barely talks to the audience. They intricately reflect pieces of themselves through experimental, post-rock influenced songs that change so quickly from upbeat and intensified to ambient and scenic, with certain qualities reminiscent of Radiohead. While they may not interact so much with the crowd, they are very much about the live show. “If we didn’t care about the audience we’d just record albums and sit in a practice room. As long as we change something about somebody good or bad, it’s a success,” says Sullivan. Even with some basic training, both musicians feel that there is no better way to learn an instrument than to let it be a part of you. Welch briefly attended Berklee School of Music and had some earlier lessons but says, “It was the same way I also took math class. I feel like we
taught each other just through writing. Music forces you to learn it.” To them it seems natural to go against conventions; playing the most primal and guttural of feelings in a free-form style. But it’s so typical to try to learn the “correct” way to play music that Amoroso is very much a diamond in the rough. Their sound comes from something very fundamental and basic, and is inspired by the self, their own actions and what’s going on around them. They learn from their friends’ bands and music they discover through being selfproclaimed music junkies, thriving off everything appealing and inventive to fulfill their next “fix.” Amoroso released a self-titled album with their former bassist, containing two epic tracks that are over eleven minutes long. They neglected to give their songs titles though, for no reason other than that they never got around to it. At this point, the band feels that it would defeat the purpose, so they named each song by its length. Despite the fact that their only record out contains songs that cannot be played live anymore, it doesn’t stop them from continuing to practice and play gigs. Sullivan and Welch came up with an entirely new repertoire for live shows involving harmonica and xylophone and continue to concoct driving, narrative tunes because they can’t see themselves doing anything else. Their minds are set on one track and that is making music, most importantly with each other. Through music, their friendship has transcended, Welch says, “Its beyond friendship, we’re family now.” Sullivan adds, “I’d be lost without music and George. We found each other and were so likeminded that it’s like someone split up a brain and put them in two separate bodies.” Other than playing for themselves, all Amoroso wants is to affect people as they have been affected, to reach out with the music they love playing. This band really is their life; it’s the way they function as friends and musicians because without one they would not have found the other. The two are constantly enlightening and learning from each other, growing as people, a band and most importantly, friends. Due to this bond, after that life is over, there is no doubt that they will always have each other. www.myspace.com/amorosomusic - Lauren Piper
Of Love Possessed has produced a melodic yet powerful compilation of songs in their third release, The Weight of a Gun. The name of the album is quite fitting because there are numerous mentions of guns. Instrumentally, each song triggers a different emotion, but the lyrics are extremely intense. It took some serious emotion to produce them. The songs vary from sweet and melodic to down right creepy, with a few up-beat tunes mixed in as well. The female vocalist, Randy Farmer, heard predominately throughout the album, has a sweet and soft voice. I’ve never heard anyone sing the word ‘fuck’ so gracefully. Although I enjoyed the lulling sound of Farmer’s voice and the biting lyrics to accompany them, I couldn’t help but feel as though her voice has more potential than what she exhibits through most of the album. On the other hand, the way she portrays her voice, low and even whispering sometimes, has a great impact on the mood of each individual song and in a way, her voice sets the mood for the entire album. John Mitchell displays a talented, yet simple, instrumental performance, providing the base of all the songs. He masters the guitar and piano, adding slight ripples to the steady flow of the music every now and then. His talents are accessorized by various cameos such as Ken Rich on bass, G Whiz on drums, Stephanie Winters on cello, Thomas Chiu on violin, Max Mandel on viola, David Mann on saxophone and Barry Danielian on trumpet. The other instruments put their own spin on each of the different songs they are in. I find the song, “Regretfully Yours,” the most meaningful song on the cd. The steady beat of the drums keep a suspenseful feeling as Farmer’s delicate singing creates a somber vibe. It is definitely something I would be listening to during a devastating break-up, on repeat, while shredding anything that reminded me of the one that broke my heart. The song is so moving I could feel its pain. The emotion radiating from this song is the epitome of heart break and despair. These are emotions almost anyone can relate to. All in all, The Weight of a Gun is like a trip through someone’s tortured soul. Long after my stereo was turned off, the whispering vocals and the meaningful lyrics lingered
in my head, provoking deep thoughts. I always enjoy an album that is able to consume my attention, or better yet, leave me lost in thought for hours to come. This album was inspirational and clearly came straight from the heart and soul. I had the chance to chat with both Mitchell and Farmer. Read on. Dig This Real: How long have you been making music together? Of Love Possessed: We’ve been working together for some time now, almost 12 years. Our first record, Damage, was released in 1995 on an indie label in NYC. What inspired you to start making music together? We seemed to have a musical connection right away. And for me, Randy’s poetry resonated immediately and we really enjoyed working together. Who writes the songs/lyrics? I write all of the music and Randy writes the lyrics & melodies
How does The Weight of a Gun differ from the other 2 albums you have released? Musically it started on our last record, when we were writing songs for Harms Way. At the time we were experimenting with old school drum loops, samples and acoustic guitars. Then when we began thinking about making, The Weight of a Gun, we went back to some of the left over songs from that period and decided to rework them (along with the new songs) in a more guitar driven or rock/americana sound. Also, we explored the use of horns and strings in a way that we hadn’t done before. What is the meaning behind the title of this album? It refers to the weight of whatever personally hunts, haunts you and leaves you for dead. The guilt and shame that you feel about your own victimization. Do you plan on playing shows and touring to promote this album? We have been toying around with a few different scenarios for a live show and we’ve been rehearsing a few times a month.
Where is your favorite town/ city/venue to perform at? One of our favorite places to play is CB’s 313 Gallery in New York City. We always got a great sound there. Why did you decided to change the name of the band from Siberia to Of Love Possessed? Because of personal and professional changes in our lives a musical shift occurred, which for us, represented something very different than what Siberia had been, so we wanted to give this project a separate identity. What is the meaning behind the name Of Love Possessed? Randy was inspired by the film, “By Love Possessed,” and liked the way it sounded and then somewhere along the way it became Of Love Possessed. It has several different connotations depending on your perspective. Which song on the new album is your favorite? Why? “Revolver,” is probably the one we agree on as a song that managed to capture where we wanted to go with this record. It was the first song that we wrote for this and it got the ball rolling and set the tone for the others. What was your biggest chal lenge in creating this new album? Because we produced and funded it through our own label (Little Pony) we had more control over everything so the challenge was to know when it was finished which for us - was nearly impossible because we love the process so much. Who are some of your inspirations as musical artists? Randy Farmer: Beck, Tori Amos, Liz Phair, PJ Harvey, Lisa Germano, Cowboy Junkies, Portishead, Kristin Hersh, Kurt Cobain, Elliott Smith, Kim Deal, Neva Denova, Cat Power and Sun Kil Moon. www.myspace.com/oflovepossessed – Cindy Chisvette 25
MYRIAD This Seattle five-piece has myriad reasons to generate interest. They could be any of the following: a) Their album, released May 13th, entitled With Arrows, With Poise b) The art on this album contains dragons that look like modern art and men with animal masks on their heads c) They care for the well being of puppies and kittens d) They have songs slated to be included on the next, “Rock Band” For any of these reasons, it wouldn’t hurt to take a deeper look into who this intriguing band really is. The Myriad formed in college, the typical story of boy meets other boys, thoughts are exchanged and music is created. They would tell the story differently though: “There are a few different versions of the story,” Steven Tracy says, “but the one that sticks involves a secret meeting between David Bowie and Elvis Costello. There was discussion about the music they would make. We were fortunate enough to overhear the conversation and started the band immediately...” The Myriad is made up of Jeremy Edwardson (vocals, guitar), John Roger Schofield (bass), Steven Tracy (guitar, piano), Jonathan Young (guitar, cello) and Randy Miller (drums). Their music is based on a bond they found in each other and a desire to strive to affect others with their sound. Having attended their respected schools to pursue careers in things completely unrelated, they continued to make music, as it was something inherent in them. Though student loans would eventually eat them alive, their main focus would be pushing The Myriad as far as it could go. As of now, 26
they have two full-length releases, the most current being With Arrows, With Poise, which does in fact feature excellent album art. The band recruited their friend, David Gorum, to design the art a little after the album title had been decided and before any songs had been written. The pictures are mythical and childish, creating a great feeling of youth and discovery. The band used this artwork, as well as the title they had chosen as inspiration to move forward with the record. Edwardson says, “The name and the cover were the high bar for what needed to be done. This was a great focus for all of us.” Having taken these conceptual ideas and running with them, The Myriad was able to make and record something distinctive and cohesive and hopes to continue in the same vein. Tracy says of their style of writing music, “Well right now the biggest inspirations are all visual: cinema, topography, landscape, city buildings, trees, smog. Things in music are changing so quickly that the line between vision and audio is quickly getting blurred. Most of our favorite artists have combined the two.” They mention that some of those artists include Radiohead, Yes and Swedish band Kent. Taking from visuals is a way of relaying their message to others and hoping that they are able to reach people in the same way these bands have reached them. The newest release is a very
visual album, both the art and the music itself. It travels through time and space with eerie guitar and slow building drums that rise and fall with each inflection of the vocals. They also have song titles that evoke some interesting emotions such as, “Throwing Punches,” and “Polar Bears and Shark Fins.” Some of the tunes even feel the way they are titled, like, “Stuck in a Glass Elevator,” which blasts keyboard melodies statically, while the drums chime alongside an almost chanting vocal part. It feels confined yet wide open at the same time, much like being stuck in an elevator of glass. The road for The Myriad seems to be pretty wide open as they continue working toward their goal. Having signed with Koch Records and having songs featured on, “Real World Denver,” they seem to be well on their way. They were asked to cover, “Perfect,” for the Smashing Pumpkins MySpace profile player and it can be heard on both band’s MySpace pages. The latest album was also mixed at Hansa Studios in Berlin by Michael Ibert (The Cardigans, Kent, The Hives) and mastered at Abbey Road Studios by Adam Nunn of Air, Radiohead and Mogwai fame. It
was also mastered at Sterling Sound in New York City by Greg Calbi (Interpol, Beastie Boys). With such critically acclaimed people working on their album, The Myriad plans to keep going, immerse themselves in their songs and see what happens. I had a brief chat with The Myriad. Here’s what they had to say. Dig This Real: Was music always your aspiration before this band? John Roger Schofield: We’ve pretty much all simply adored music since we were tiny tots. All of us picked up different instruments along the way as we grew into mighty, stalwart young men. Indeed. Our schooling educated us in the way of true life, culture and humanity, which, in turn, has helped us to be real whenever we happen to jump on the old dusty piano and get down to business. All of us have B.A.’s in vastly different subjects. My student loans are delicious. What is the songwriting process with The Myriad? How do
songs get written in band practice? Is it generally a collective process? Completely collective. Completely arduous. Completely satisfying. Like a strong Americano. Completely complete. Imagine there are five little Myriad chefs with 12 pots all a’boilin’ in a massive kitchen, with beeeeautiful stainless steel everywhere. Now imagine all five little chefs are chopping up various delicacies and throwing them into this pot and that pot. And then here come the spices. And then here comes the secret ingredients. Now imagine that three of these pots turn out absolute crapola! BUT! The other nine smell as wonderful as all of Europe after a heavy rain. Boom. There you go. But always remember: chefs tend to argue a bit much. It’s a labor of love, after all. What are the motives behind your music? There seems to be a more wholesome outlook in these songs than in some other music that’s around today. Wholesome. Like sprouted
grain bread made locally! I like that. The Myriad aspires in every way to bring beauty, truth, hope, joy and light to all who wish to listen. In the words of Catherine Wheel: “Cynicism is boring.” The simple truth of the matter is that we care. We care about others, about art, about the future, about the past, about puppies and kittens. Music should edify, uplift and vivify the human spirit. It should also make us confront the darker angels of our nature and come to some sense of self knowledge that helps us lead better lives. We want our music to have the same effect upon first listen as the effect issued forth from and by a fine painting, hanging quietly on the wall, perhaps 300 years old, minding its own business yet utterly screaming the beauty, pain and ultimate joy of existence to anybody in the room who will pause and then really pause and then really, really pause and look look look look look and then look again. Sounds simple, I know, but it’s actually quite hard. www.themyriad.net - Lauren Piper
Nerv is an atmospheric Indie rock band from Monterrey, Mexico that started in 1999, when guitarist, singer and songwriter, Pedro Diaz was entering college. Despite a revolving door of accompanied musicians becoming the norm, bassist and singer, Ilsa Ziur, would prove permanent. Soon Señor con Sanitario, Nerv’s first official self-produced ep would be released…the rest? It’s all still work in progress. We recently had the opportunity to sit down with the two main members of the band. Dig This Real: How would you describe the music of Nerv to someone who’s never heard you before? Ilsa Ziur: I’d say Nerv’s music is very atmospheric, based on cold atmospheres and melancholy with a minimalist irreverent edge. Our main influences are Radiohead, Muse, the Beatles and authors like Borges and Nietzsche. When did it become evident that music would have such a great impact on your life? Pedro Diaz: I first listened to the Beatles when I was very young. I liked them so much I formed a Beatles cover band in Junior High. I would say it wasn’t until I heard OK Computer by Radiohead (released July 1, 1997) that I understood music was going to be my life, but that wasn’t until I was in High School. How did you five meet each other, form the band and solidify the lineup? Diaz: Well, the band is actually made up of Ilsa and I. Most of the other musicians are friends of ours that help us out when playing live. I compose the music and write the lyrics. We met through mutual friends in college.
What is the music scene in Monterrey like (compared to the US and other countries) and how has that affected the band? Diaz: Monterrey has a music scene, although it’s mostly what we call “grupero” which is our version of Country. If people are not concentrated on Grupero then they’re listening to Pop. We also have a big Rock scene, but it is mostly in Spanish. What made you decide to write English lyrics? Diaz: When you speak both Spanish and English, you really can’t choose how the ideas for lyrics are going to come to you. My first inspirations were in English and have remained so ever since. Can you talk about your philosophical influences? I noticed you made references to Nietzsche, Borges, Adams and your self-appointed label of anti-postmodernism. What exactly does that mean? Diaz: Well, Nietzsche has always been an influence for me. I have been reading his works since I was 13. Pretty much what anti-postmodernism means is that we favor meaningfulness and substance in art. How did you come up with the band name Nerv? Diaz: One day, I was looking through a German dictionary and came across ‘nerv,’ and instantly liked it. I later realized the “anime” implications of the name (Evangelion). Evangelion is a cult anime series with a very complex story, but NERV is the main stage of the whole story in Evangelion. Describe a Nerv show today versus when you first started. Diaz: When possible (at local gigs) we go for a bit of a theatrical experience. It’s still under development because we would like to provide an experience that stimulates all the senses. What has been your best tour moment? Ziur: For me it was at a Mexico City venue. We started playing and by the third song the audience was completely trapped by the music. Mobile phones went up, recording the gig. At the end we were asked for an encore, which was awesome. And your worst tour experience? Diaz: I would have to say that it was actually at NXNE (in Toronto, Canada). By the end of the festival we had almost no money. At one point we didn’t have enough to pay for the taxi taking us to the airport. It was very stressful but at the gig we somehow sold some cds and managed to pay for the cab. Has any videos been shot for any of your songs? Zuir: We’re in the process of making a stop-motion animation video for, “Road to the Sea.” It is turning out to be a real challenge, but we’re determined to make it happen. What are your current touring/recording plans? Diaz: We want to release a set of four concept eps forming a story. Right now we are not touring because we’re finishing school. After going to NXNE, New York and Mexico City we got such great feedback that we think we actually have a shot at this. We just want to tie all loose ends and dedicate ourselves completely to music.
Well thanks for your time and best of luck with everything.
www. nerv.com.mx or www.myspace.com/nervmx – Jose-Ho Guanipa
carrie rodriguez Carrie Rodriguez’ sound can be likened to the use of Mapquest. Despite that you have two addresses, needing to connect, doesn’t necessarily mean that the map’s directions are going to make sense or truly get you to where you need to be. And so the path of Rodriguez began, a native of Austin, Texas, playing violin at the age of five. Supporting a more classical music edge, (she would eventually study classical violin at Oberlin Conservatory) by age ten, she would go on to perform at Carnegie Hall. She had a chance meeting with Andrea Zonn, fiddler to Lyle Lovett, Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy, T-Bone Burnett, Alison Krauss and countless others. This meeting would inspire Rodriguez, sealing her life’s calling. It would take a few more years for the ‘other’ music to catch up with her. It always does with brilliant artists. Having switched from violin to fiddle, she transferred to Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts and it was here that the music finally caught up with her. Standing at the crossroads of sonic expression, she chose to wed bluegrass, jazz and old-time swing, weaving a confident path for her to flex her bones and grow outward. A showcase at SXSW would bring Rodriguez and singer-songwriter Chip Taylor together, where he pursued her to join him in his musical projects. This would place Rodriguez on the road to singing, something she naturally wouldn’t consider of herself. The two would travel a very long road performing duets and releasing acclaimed albums. It would be only a matter of time that she would venture into a solo mode, because, frankly, it would be all too bittersweet if she didn’t. Earlier this year, Rodriguez finally stepped out on her own, recording and co-producing (with Chip Taylor), 7 Angels on a Bicycle (Back Porch Records, EMI). Here the two smoothly combined jazz, country, rock and bluegrass to much critical acclaim. While on the road with Lucinda Williams, Rodriguez had a chance meeting with producer Malcolm Burn. Being a fan of his work (Rodriguez admired his work on Emmylou Harris’s Wrecking Ball. I, myself, adored his work with John Mellencamp’s Human Wheels), the two decided to chat about the opportunity of working together. As Rodriguez remembers, “I was pretty hung-over that morning, in my pajamas, looking like a train wreck and here comes Malcolm, looking all dapper in his vintage three-piece suits.” The result of that meeting would become Rodriguez’ follow-up solo effort entitled, She Ain’t Me (Back Porch). Rodriguez had this to say about the new songs, “I took some chances, wrote with some new people, it’s very different.” Working with Burn had this effect on Rodriguez when it came to choosing and arranging the songs that would appear on She Ain’t Me: “If the song doesn’t hold up on its own, without all the production, he doesn’t want to have anything to do with it.” And that explains the perfect, sparse feeling found on She Ain’t Me. Making due with very little has completely highlighted the talent that Rodriguez has to offer. The ever-so stripped down production while adding hints of instruments here and there, allows the listener to truly feel Rodriguez’ vocal range and delivery and this is where we Google Mapquest. Opening track, “Infinite Night,” has Rodriguez jumpstarting the slightly Americana/Country sounding track with a direct command, but when the song breaks open into the chorus, Rodriguez sounds more like an alterna-darling, as she tap dances around a stringy guitar twang and a plucky banjo track. It’s all so attractive. When the bridge arrives, she sounds more like Fiona Apple, showcasing a soulful howl. The song continues, loudly as slide guitar swirls around. The title track, “She Ain’t Me,” is romantically and dreamily reminiscent of Neko Case’s, Fox Confessor Brings The Flood album. “Mask of Moses,” a tune, that shows many faces itself, finds a slightly, hesitant electric guitar that wants to break loose, alongside a mandolin. All of this is ushered with the dusty vocals of Rodriguez. This, of course, disappears when the chorus rolls in. Here we find loud guitars and Rodriguez’ now scratchy vocals clashing about, climaxing into a religious experience. I love this song in particular because during the verses, it sounds like Rodriguez is sitting in the same room with me. Another gem here is, “Le Dorado,” a jumpy tune that is pushed along with a climbing piano track. It is here that Rodriguez sounds like, dare I say it, a superstar. Though her voice sounds like it could saddle up to the next pop-princess, sitting high up on the charts, her vocals also sound full of experience, maybe a bit ancient, truly like a musician that has plenty of years of experience behind her. The fiddle dances around the tune, bringing us back to one of the main elements of Rodriguez’ talent in the first place. She Ain’t Me is shrouded with slight mystery as it is approachable in a big mainstream way. Elements like Country, Twang and Americana are here but there is something much bigger going on. That ‘something’ is the musical landscape that Rodriquez paints so well, as she moves on as a solo star. She will surely become a certain type of star – one that will not follow any roadmaps or directions. www.carrierodriguez.com - www.myspace.com/carrierodriguez - edie 30
The Paradise Rock Club, April 10, 2008
Nada Surf makes you feel good. That’s not to be confused with the idea of “feel-good” music, because most of that turns out to be trash after a few listens. Nada Surf is way more than that. They ’ve been through highs, lows, and just about everything in between, but what’s apparent in their stage presence is a supreme sense of confidence (not arrogance) and most importantly, optimism. Nada Surf ’s sold out show at Boston’s Paradise Rock Club was at times reminiscent of the first time I caught the band, back in late 2003 when they played the campus commons at the University of Richmond to a small but diehard crowd (I remember the band “faked” walking offstage for an encore because: a. there was no backstage, and b. school officials were shutting down the building as the hour approached 1:30am).
Back then, they were one of the most impressive three-pieces I’d ever seen. This time around, they added Calexico’s Martin Wenk who provided all sorts of tasteful accompaniment on keyboards, shakers, trumpet – even a vocoder! But they still retained the feel of a tight three-piece. Drummer Ira Elliot added backing vocals to his already smooth chops, Daniel Lorca still smokes indoors with a flurry of “No Smoking!” signs all around him (he’s also the bassist everyone dreams of having in their band), and Matthew Caws can still charm the hell out of a crowd – there is no such thing as an in-between songs awkward moment with this guy, not to mention how he manages to make one guitar sound like at least three. Touring in support of their fifth full-length album Lucky, the band picked something from every
album. “Killian’s Red,” from 2003 album Let Go stole the night, building to a raucous finale with Caws bounding across stage and inciting wild, yet beautiful shrills from his guitar. But other highlights included, “Weightless,” with a pre-planned crowd sing-a-long at the end of the song, or the encore “Blankest Year ” which had everyone belting, ‘Aw fuck it (fuck it!), I’m gonna have a party!’ It’s that carefree attitude that keeps Nada Surf ’s material fresh and exciting, but they ’ve had enough music industry/record label bad luck to know you can’ t have a party all the time and even if you somehow do, it gets old. That’s why each album has been progressively better than the last, and the live show clearly isn’ t suffering either. - Kevin Walsh 31
Widespread Panic United Palace Theater New York, NY With their stylized brand of Southern flavored, heavy rhythm driven rock and roll, Widespread Panic produces a sound that is smoky, gritty and rough around the edges. They play to their strengths and are one of the more straight ahead jam bands on the scene, choosing to plow through songs definitively and precisely instead of getting weighed down and held up in the messy psychedelic jams that sometimes trip up their fellow jam band brethren. This style generally draws a crowd that is slightly more rowdy and a little less crunchy than the folks who would be at a typical jam band show (a little more Jack Daniels and a little less Mary Jane). It therefore made sense that it seemed just about everyone who was down the street drinking at the pub before the show was also planning on attending the night’s festivities. Around 7:30, en masse, everyone made the move up the hill. Walking through the front door of the United Palace Theater evokes a feeling that is akin to take a step backwards through time. The elaborate age old carpeting, chandeliers, fixtures and wood workings give the impression of martinis being served at a gala to hordes of slightly buzzed, extremely classy patrons all clamoring for their shot at a balcony seat. The Palace, once a movie theater,
then a church, now a venue for rock concerts, just has an aura of authenticity and history about it that the stained glass windows, quotes on the wall, and wide, sweeping staircases only augment and amplify. The whole place gives you a ring in the back of your ears and rumble in the pit of your stomach. It is an anticipation builder extraordinaire. Luckily for concert goers on this certain evening, Widespread Panic was playing the house. A little bit after 8, the lights dimmed, the crowd bellowed and Panic stepped onto the dimly lit, hazily colored precipice that was the stage, more than ready to fulfill some expectations. The guys said hello, the drums kicked in and we were off. The first song of the night was, “Holden Oversoul,” a keyboard laden lament that speeds up and slows down like highway traffic. Guitar maestro Jimmy Herring wasted no time in opening up the jam, exposing the tasty licks that he was letting simmer and stew for the duration of the evening. The outro of this particular version got downright funky and set a precedent for what would turn out to be an extremely bottom heavy show. The set was further highlighted by a raucous version of the cathartic number known as, “Climb to Safety,” featuring some of the best vocalizations of the night on both the lead and backing parts. Fast rocking, “Love Tractor,” was the capper, producing roars from both the guitars and the crowd, with a few old fashioned ‘yee-haws’ thrown in for good measure.
The first set was fairly long which made the set break short and sweet. After a brief break the band made a triumphant, if slightly more mellow, return back into the driver’s seat. A breezy rendition of the percussion laced, “Space Wrangler,” welcomed patrons who had been in the bathroom and beer line back to their seats. This mellow mood persisted throughout most of the set, including during an especially cool and laid back version of the sinewy, haunter, “Second Skin.” Setting the table for what was to come, a spirited drum and bass exchange ultimately resulted in a concise drum solo that didn’t overstay its welcome. An end of set flourish was added by an appearance of Allman Brothers alum and Government Mule guitarist/front-man, Warren Haynes. This was an ideal setting for Haynes to unleash his bluesy deep roots tone on some unsuspecting bystanders. With lights flashing and bells and whistles galore, Panic steamrolled through the end of the set with the deftness of a race car driver piloting a monster truck. They have the skills and the knowledge to do what they want to do and do it well. Their shows are well balanced and predictably good, sending well-rocked concert goers home tapping their feet and happy. This night was no exception and marked another solid chapter in the ever-changing history of the United Palace Theater. This show did not need a re-write. - Evan Bleier
Acid Mothers Temple The Echo Los Angeles California
The Acid Mothers Temple kicked off their, Recurring Dream and Apocalypse of Darkness tour at the Echo with head banging appassionato. The tour shared the name of their most recent album and is another welcomed hoorah in a discography of dozens. Iâ€™d hadnâ€™t heard of Acid Mothers Temple when I agreed to go, but was promised an epic live performance and was duly pleased. A motley crew of 60 year old psychedelic Japanese rockers led by Kawabata Makoto engrossed an equally motley crowd with their electric energy and fairy-like theatrics belting out epic ballad after another. www.acidmothers.com - Alexandria Kain
Aberdeen City Middle East (Upstairs) Cambridge, MA
At least one thing is clear. Following Aberdeen City’s lastminute gig, (opening for the French Kicks) - this band is far too big in just about every way possible for Cambridge, Mass’ Middle East Upstairs room. The Boston quartet played their first local show of 2008 to a sold out crowd, shaking the very foundations of the joint with a set of nearly all brand new material. Drummer Rob McCaffrey might as well had been hitting the skins with the Hammer of Thor during the opener, “Whose Blood Is It,” a spacey, up-tempo tune that has been featured as a demo on the band’s Myspace page in recent months. Aberdeen City has clearly been hard at work, taking time off from gigging to craft material for the follow-up to The Freezing Atlantic, the band’s first release that landed them a fan in producer Steve Lillywhite and so much more. The new songs were tight and well rehearsed and the material still plays neatly in the balance between edgy and atmospheric. But there also appeared to be a more conscious effort devoted to operatic dynamics. The ideas were there on The Freezing Atlantic and many of the songs, came to nearly flawless fruition (“Sixty Lives,” is a must-hear track). But the new batch of songs felt more mature and introduced a humanistic quality that so often gets lost in what can be a mess of raw, hard rock. Maybe it was the sold out crowd, or that it was my first time seeing the band live. Either way, the constant shifts from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs were emotionally overwhelming in a way that few bands this young have mastered. It was as if the band borrowed my heart and brain for a half-hour, messed around with the wiring and eventually gave it back saying, “Here, this is yours. It’s better now.” Singer Brad Parker’s anguished wails are beautiful and biting simultaneously and guitarists Chris McLaughlin and Ryan Heller are so in synch with each other you’d think they came out of the same womb, at the same moment, holding the same guitar. Maybe they did and they’re just not telling us. McCaffrey’s beats are thunderous, but not oppressive; they incite dance as many times as they draw on the power of someone like Brad Wilk from Rage Against the Machine. This is a power made for a much bigger room than the Middle East can offer. Heller and McLaughlin even added their own drumming skills to some of the new songs, ripping along on an extra tom and snare in unison with McCaffrey. As with all shows, though, there were a few flaws that – while they may or may not have been out of the band’s control – cannot be overlooked. Call me a nit-picker but the bass was overbearingly loud many times and the guitar work could have been cranked up a bit for my liking. Parker’s vocals were occasionally lost in the mix, forcing him to strain to be heard and culminated in a weary effort on the last tune of the night, “God Is Going To Get Sick Of Me.” But sometimes that’s the beauty of catching a band with grandiose ambitions at one of the smaller (poorly ventilated) clubs in town: there can be perfection in imperfection. I’d see Aberdeen City every Friday night at the Middle East if they promised to put on a show like this one each time. This band knows how to build tension, despair and agony into cosmic, melodious revolution like very few others and should not be missed. Check out www.aberdeenmusic.com or www.myspace.com/aberdeencity
- Kevin Walsh
The Bamboozle Tour 2008 East Rutherford, New Jersey
DTR’s Cindy Chisvette reports from the 2008 Bamboozle Tour at Giants Stadium: Streetlight Manifesto is one of those bands that I have seen live more times than I can count. They are a high energy ska band from New Jersey lead by the former Catch 22 lead vocalist, Tom Kalnoky. Every time I see them play, they are filled with energy and so is their audience, hence the phrase, “high energy ska.” Kalnoky normally converses with the audience and gets them riled up, as Streetlight Manifesto play classic favorites off the album Everything Goes Numb. This was not the case for their performance at Bamboozle this year. Granted, the weather was not that great. A cold mist and heavy overcast reigned over Giants Stadium for a large portion of the day. I was hesitant to bash them for a sub par performance on the count of the weather, but when Streetlight took the stage, the sun was out and the temperature was a bit warmer. In fact, their half hour set was probably the nicest half hour of the whole afternoon. With that in mind, I can safely say that their set was weak and did not measure up to my expectations at all. They seemed to lack energy and enthusiasm during their time on stage, which really defeats the genre of music in which they play. Their performance was lazy and they mostly played songs off their latest album, Somewhere in the Between, which also wasn’t impressive. Not as many people in the crowd knew those songs and you could tell by their lack of participation. It wasn’t just the new songs, though. It was the total lack of enthusiasm that Streetlight seemed to have performing them . The vocals could be heard well but the brass ensemble was practically nonexistent. However, they did play some of their old hits, like “Dear S ergio,” and the skank pits still sent a few bloody noses to
the first aid tent, but over all, it was a disappointment. I’ve seen much better out of Streetlight. www.streetlightmanifesto.com. I specifically bought my tickets to this concert to see Armor For Sleep, a band from Northern New Jersey. They are your typical Emo band, right down to their haircuts, but their songs are catchy and contain more singing than screaming or whining. This was my first time seeing them live and my expectations were met 150%. Although, it was a little difficult to enjoy the music when I had crowd surfers landing on my head every fifteen seconds, I really felt a great connection with the music and the band. The singer, Ben Jorgensen, had amazing rapport and the music could be heard from across the fair grounds. All of the instruments and vocals were on key and played with such a feeling that the crowd was literally packed like sardines, fists in the air and singing along. It was actually a great way to keep warm, considering the weather had taken a turn for the worse by that point. The songs they played sounded similar as they do on the albums - not so much as sounding fake. They opened their set with, “Car Underwater,” and continued to play numerous hits off the album, What To Do When You Are Dead, such as “Awkward Last Words,” and “The Truth About Heaven.” These are their most well known songs, so naturally the crowd was very responsive. An active crowd is what makes a live performance so special, so the fact that the band played well enough and was able to interact with their audience, made the set that much more enjoyable. This performance was a real rush to see and listen to. With the terrific stage presence and the overall enthusiasm from the crowd, Armor For Sleep’s set was a great success. www.armorforsleep.com Paramore, the popular alternative rock band from Franklin, Tennessee attracted such a large crowd that it seemed damn near impossible getting anywhere near the stage. And that was before the band even made an appearance before the crowd. Somehow, my
party managed to push and shove our way through, to the center of the crowd. Once Paramore started playing, the only way to reach the front was to crowd surf, which seemed to provide more entertainment than the actual music for some people. For a small girl, lead singer Hayley Williams, has a very big voice. With the massive amount of bodies in the crowd and the fact that I am five feet tall, I was only able to see the top of the young singer’s fire orange hair for most of the performance, but I certainly had no problems hearing her. Even though the wind picked up and it had started to rain, Paramore moved on, playing strong. The music was perfectly in tune and loud enough for everyone to hear. Williams made great interactions with the audience, referring to the “gross,” weather a few times, as the crowd roared with delight. She was also helpful in mentioning which albums the songs they played came from, which is nice for those that may not be as familiar with the band, or hearing them for the first time. Because Paramore was one of the headlining bands, they played a longer set of 45 minutes, as opposed to the half hour most of the other bands got. They opened with some songs off their new album Riot!, like “That’s What You Get.” Then they proceeded with songs off their debut album, All We Know Is Falling, such as “Pressure,” and “Emergency.” At some point, in the middle of the set, Williams decided to tell a story about one of Paramore‘s first shows. Her story quickly trailed off from the point and turned into rambling. I, personally, had no interest in her story and wanted her to get on with the music. Maybe Williams should leave the storytelling for nicer weather, or for someone who is better at telling stories next time. The band finished off with a hit from their latest album and had the crowd chanting, “Crush! Crush! Crush!” as they ended their performance. www.paramore.net 35
Max Bemis Say Anything Chain Reaction Anaheim, California
Say Anything is a pop/rock/pop-punk/semi-emo band from Los Angeles, California, fronted by a guy named Max Bemis, and like many bands in the rock ‘n roll tradition, they have built their empire from the ground up. They were once a small, unknown group, but fast-forward, and you will see that unlike many other rock bands, they have managed to accomplish the rare feat of both signing to a major label and still retaining quite a bit of “indie-credibility.” Now, I am no expert on this current wave of indie fanfare, so my official position on their level of indie-acceptability is neither concrete, nor to be taken too seriously. Perhaps all I am really trying to say is that they are pretty well-known and have even been on MTV’s TRL, and yet, they are still well-liked across a wide range of demographics with varying levels of “hip.” I will admit, it seems that the amount of 13-year-old girls that follow the band has increased over the last couple of years, but it also seems that the band has retained a decent percentage of their original, more adult fanbase. Also like a lot of rock bands, the group began (or at least spent some part of) its existence with the frontman, Bemis, doing what I will call, “the whiney, acoustic, singer-songwriter thing.” Bemis has said in an interview that the group was offered a serious record deal to become an acoustic-only project and Bemis claims that this was “before Dashboard.” Dashboard, of course, meant Dashboard Confessional, which is perhaps a larger and more well-known group than Say Anything and one that is inextricably tied to the concept of, “the whiney, acoustic, singersongwriter,” format. Having already known all this, it seemed quite fitting and interesting to me that Bemis was going to appear as a solo acoustic act at Anaheim’s Chain Reaction club. I was also drawn in by the fact that the venue has a capacity of 240, whereas Say Anything has been playing House of Blues-sized venues all over the country for some time now. The smaller size and format of Chain Reaction would certainly be more hospitable for any type of stripped-down performance. I should back-peddle and say that the event was actually supposed to focus more on Alexander T. Kent, who is the bass player of Say Anything. Kent has established his own record label and his own musical act and the Chain Reaction show was meant to kick off a small tour featuring Kent and other artists from Kent’s label. For a reason unbeknownst to me, Bemis was added to the bill as the headliner. I mean, I guess it makes fiscal sense to add an act with a bigger draw, but Bemis is not scheduled to 36
appear on the rest of the tour. I guess the Anaheim-based Say Anything fans got lucky! Anyhow, there were a couple of other opening acts which I will not delve into here, but suffice it to say that the entire show was entertaining and enjoyable. Kent’s own set was a bit odd and unique, because most of the songs seemed to be less than a minute in length and the compositions featured mostly spoken word, gibberish, nonsense, and plenty of semicomical phrases that the young and exuberant crowd seemed to be glad to repeat at the slightest suggestion. While I did like the fact that Kent was not trying to ride the musical coattails of Say Anything, I must say that he did not really do anything that I have not heard in old live recordings of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I would go on about this so that I could prove just how right I am, but that would require a ton of details. Bottom line, RHCP were one of the first groups to have really short little raps/poems set to odd, funky, danceable music. For instance, check out, “You Always Sing the Same,” or “Stranded.” Both compositions are short, sweet and have lyrics that are pretty ridiculous, yet very fun and repetitive, and the catch is that they were written 20 years ago!
Anyhow, Kent’s presence in Say Anything has helped him to develop a decent following of his own, and the crowd seemed to be very fond of his act. After his set, Bemis finally came out and proceeded right into, “Alive with the Glory of Love,” which was one of the band’s singles from the ...Is a Real Boy release. Now, I have seen the full Say Anything rock show several times, and I have been repeatedly amazed at the amount of loud and harmonious singing that comes from the band’s audiences. I mean, many groups have ‘chants’ in their songs that will allow the crowd to sing along and get into the tunes, but with Say Anything, the audience typically sings a much higher percentage of the lyrics as compared to many other groups I have seen. From start to finish, the kids usually support Bemis’ vocals with overwhelming fervor. I was curious to see what would happen in this acoustic setting, and guess what? The singing was even louder and more continuous than at any other Say Anything gig that I have attended! The lower volume and dimmed intensity of the acoustic format really allowed the audience at Chain Reaction to come alive, and they sang practically every word from start to finish. That shit always amazes me, and it really is quite beautiful - those kids, singing along... I can’t help but presume that they are having the time of their lives and that they have forgotten about whatever they would have been thinking if they were anywhere else. I mean, it is one of those old clichés, that the music eases the troubles of the audience and transports the kids to another place, where nothing else matters. That is what it’s all about! I should also mention that no alcohol was sold or served at this all-ages venue and thus, no one can say that the crowd was reacting this way because of intoxication, which is usually the explanation when terrible, unintelligible music gets a great response. So, Bemis basically owned the crowd for quite some time, maybe about an hour and a half. He played songs from ...Is a Real Boy, and the latest release, In Defense of the Genre, and most of the tunes fared very well in this setting. On one hand, given Bemis’ history of composing and performing acoustically, it should come as no surprise that his songs lend themselves well to the acoustic-only setup. However, Say Anything’s records are notorious for being very highly-produced, with a ton of bells and whistles thrown in to make them as audibly-interesting as possible. My theory on this is that the fans have already ingrained the recordings into their minds/hearts/souls to such a high degree that no level of ‘stripping down’ could prevent them from an orgasmic experience during these songs. Highlights of the set included, “A Walk Through Hell,” and “I Want to Know Your Plans,” which had already been released as acoustic tunes and accordingly, they seemed the most natural. As a musician who has played a lot of gigs and made many mistakes on stage, it was really cool to see Bemis screw up quite a bit on, “Total Revenge.” Over the past few years, Say Anything’s frontman has been doing shows as a vocalist only, without performing on the guitar and during the performance at Chain Reaction, he even admitted that this has led to the degradation of his ability to sing and play at the same time. I know the feeling, Max! If one does not regularly perform a complex guitar part, it becomes very hard to sing
over the top of it. Bemis initially had trouble figuring out what key the song was in and then went on to hit many sour notes. But he took it all in stride and the crowd ate it all up; he could have done no wrong! The grand finale of the event and probably the highlight for the majority of those in attendance (myself included), was the closing number, “Belt,” which is actually the opening track on ...Is a Real Boy. That song has always been one of my favorites of theirs and I must say that it is meticulously produced. Every repeated section has tiny fluctuations that make a familiar part seem very fresh and the song builds up to an intense climax which features gang-vocal chanting. On this particular night, since it was just Bemis and a guitar, the entire cast of the preceding bands came on stage when the song reached the chanting passages. There were about ten guys on stage, all of whom are friends of Bemis and/or members of Say Anything and all of whom we had seen perform in some capacity earlier in the evening. The chant involves the lines “My friends” and “All of my friends,” and it is a rallying cry in which the lead vocalist sends out a call-to-arms for and with his friends. In this case, the singer’s friends were actually there, in support, and it seemed to have even more impact since he had been performing on his own the whole time. For the typical Say Anything fan, who, as far as I can tell, is young, looking for fun and escape and very reliant on his or her friends, I feel that this song and this performance of this song, surely had to have a pretty epic, resounding effect. Even without the ocean of voices from Bemis’ adoring fans, it would have had a tremendous impact, but the crowd helped to take it to the next level and the entire place was overflowing with a sense of joyous camaraderie. For all of these reasons, no one in attendance could deny that it was a perfect song to close with and truly a memorable moment for all; Max Bemis is no exception, since he must have found immense gratification in witnessing the proof that he can be quite powerful and successful doing the “acoustic singer-songwriter thing”, with or without the whine. - Nicholas Miller 37
Coachella 2008 Indio, California
DTR’s Alexandria Kain reports from the 2008 Coachella Tour at Indio Polo Fields: Spending three days in a 100 degree haze with the desert sun beating on your neck is only a small price to pay for the myriad of musical talent, performance and visual arts, and an international gathering of people. Spanning over three days, Friday’s highlights included euphonic performances from experimental Icelandic band Mum and New York indie rockers, The National. Jack Johnson closed up the evening with dulcet recitals of the songs that made him famous. Saturday’s Bonde do Role performance was a bit disappointing for anyone who knew the band when funk rocking Marina was front(wo)man, though they attracted an impressive crowd. Man Man may have been the best show there, combining carnival instrumentals and vocal style unheard of since Tom Waits. Metric’s set on Sunday was all too reminiscent of Air’s last year, making thousands of fans wait in sweltering heat for a mere four songs with little to no deviance from the standard album version. Roger Waters ended the night (and the festival) with an epic performance of Pink Floyd’s, Dark Side of the Moon. A high-tech laser prism and remote control political pig only added to the chaos and excitement of this phenomenal show.
Wolf Parade The Music Box Hollywood, California Deep in the heart of Hollywood California, amidst an eager looking mix of fans who swayed more towards average Joe/Jane college and (surprisingly) less towards erudite music geek (though the hipster guy in front of me found it necessary to wave his newly purchased vinyl copy of At Mount Zoomer for most of the show—that qualifies as geeky doesn’t it?) Wolf Parade took to the stage and opened their show with a rushed and nimble, “This Heart’s On Fire.” The audience was immediately butter in their alt-rockin’ Canadian hands. I was pretty buttery too. Despite muffled sound issues, the consistent break between every song and the omission of, “Same Ghost Every Night,” (the closest Wolf Parade have gotten to true sorcery in their songwriting) I remained won over, as did the ever-excited audience. Wolf Parade’s songs have always danced around some death march vibe; both dark and celebratory and when they play live, given the volume and tightness of playing, the songs become a call to arms. It’s like some parade of coyotes or something. There is a little bit of Husker Du’s black sheets of sound, a touch of swerdriving shoegaze and a little bit of Spoon’s precision. Plus, I couldn’t help but notice how Wolf Parade evolved out of Pavement’s fecund gene pool: no bass player (early Pavement), two singer/songwriters (early-mid Pavement), avoidance of guitar solos (early-mid Pavement), heavy keyboards (mid Pavement) and obscure lyrics that often morph into do-do-la-la-la’s. That’s closer to Destroyer but Pavement did have that “Cut Your Hair,” song filled with scatting nonsense. The concert’s peak was, “You Are a Runner…” which was decidedly fiercer than the recorded version. It was extended and intense. Lights twirled and flashed, voices joined, guitars were violently struck, keyboards screamed—drums found some sinister rushing heartbeat to mimic. The guy in front of me who was waving his record all night put it down and just gawked. - Jeff Hassay
New York Dolls Henry Fonda Music Box Los Angeles, CA There was a moment, in the beginning of the New York Dolls concert at the Henry Fonda Music Box in Hollywood, California, that I was hit with the startling realization that what I was watching and hearing was utter dog shit. The exact moment must have been after the rhythm guitarist (a pudgy, preening, guy who must have played the songs in front of his mirror and practiced the smarmy stare a thousand times too many) tossed his guitar pick into the air for the 23rd time like your dopey cousin might do while awkwardly playing some Bon Jovi solo at his middle school talent show (but even then only ironically). This coincided with the other band members settling into their worked out groove of 42 year-old, unremarkable, fleshy rockers who are going through every cliché that a Creedence Clearwater Revival cover band might pull out on their second shift playing at Frontier Land in Disneyland. This may sound, perhaps, a little too negative or spiteful but the truth is that the night was not a total disaster. David Johansen, the singer/leader (and one of the two remaining original members) brought an effortless grace to the stage that was a wonder to see. He comes off like a New York Mick Jagger with the same wide smile, the same svelte, undu-
lating body and a similar glimmer of madness in his eyes. It is a shame that the acoustics reverberated his singing into a din of fuzzy noise because the few times that he could be heard the band transcended from joke to vital force. These moments were very rare. Johansen clearly enjoys himself onstage and he was seemingly made to perform. From the Dolls’ early genderbending days to the 80’s Buster Poindexter (his alter ego) years, until today when he can comfortably take the position of one of the true grandfathers of Punk Rock, Johansen has steered his career towards his vision and challenged norms along the way. This is part of what make this new, impotent version of the New York Dolls so ineffective; Johansen should know better than to be associated with the second rate musicians that butcher his almost canonical music. On stage he not only clearly enjoys performing, he appears to enjoy what his cheesy band is doing on stage (constant between song banter, sloppy playing, displays of circa 1996 Goo Goo Dolls hairdos and the phony, “Ooow! Check out this one note that I’m playing!” posing), all of which stood in opposition to the seemingly passionate and pure performance delivered by
Johansen. Should once great bands get back together? That’s a question that I would rather not get into. To be honest I’ve never appreciated the Dolls as much as, say The Stooges or Jonathan Richman but I do see their merit. Even some of the half-assed songs had a classic rockin’ beauty (“Trash” brought the house down and “Looking For A Kiss” had an electricity and showed just how much the Ramones copped off of these guys). No one can blame someone for earning a little deserved money, especially when they should have received a lot more 35 years ago. I hope this tour is a financial success for the New York Dolls and David Johansen. It looked like they had fun doing this show as did much of the audience. I just hope Johansen doesn’t get too greedy and that should he want to make actual music again, as opposed to cruising in auto-pilot, that he wises up and finds people that have the spark in their eye that he does and not that I-just-gotfired-from-Guitar-Center & my-parentschanged-the-lock-on-the-basement-door look of desperation that these jokers have. - Jeff Hassay
In today’s world, the music industry balances itself between plastic celebrity and organic sustainability, DIY and staggering full-blown production, while music lovers fulfill their habit through the invisible electricity of cyber lines and a quick stroll to the neighborhood record shop. In the midst of this workable chaos, a band from Philadelphia, seams their outstanding bold and similar contrast-like music, just as effortlessly, while standing in the crossroads of this parallel yet contradictory universe. In the late 90’s, when music was wavering into a ‘we-don’tknow-what-to-expect-now,’ mode (this dry spell would undoubtedly be broken with the 2001 release of Isolation Drills by Guided by Voices), the industry was too quick to jettison the artform of artist development. But this wouldn’t stop long time friends, Zach Wirjosemito, Jeff Hurtado, Nick Schuenemann and Chuck Stieg to form a band that would expertly marry the cold stance of synthesizers with the warmth of engaging vocals. This band would become known as The Defog. As seemingly convincible that The Defog had picked up the torch that was left burning the incredibly high expectations put on another band found on the other side of the pond called Radiohead, the time-
frame between Ok Computer and Kid A (releases both by Radiohead), the mediocrity that was then running rampant in a now very shaky industry only seemed to fuel more fire to The Defog’s yearning to craft brilliant songs. It would be the year 1997 that these four musicians would eventually take a stab at progressive, electronic-fueled tunes, mixing, crafting and tweaking, testing the medicine that would offer magnificent and brave demos and releases in the future. Yet, their story reads like the band next door’s. Chuck Stieg (vocals and guitar): “My best buddy Ed, whom I grew up with, bragged to a few of his friends at school about how I had this amazing music studio. Essentially, it was just a basement with a drum set, a guitar and a 4-track recorder. Naturally, Nick our bass player and our former guitar player, Lou, didn’t want to believe this, so they came over and checked it out. We ended up all being best friends afterwards. We met Jeff (Wurlitzer, Moog, synth) a few years later. This is after I pushed the guys to get a keyboard player because I wanted someone that could play Moog and Rhodes. Zach was a drummer for a friend’s band. When they parted ways, we asked him if he was interested in playing
with us.” Despite that each member was now in place, things didn’t quite turn out the way it may had been intended at first. Stieg: “Each one of us played another instrument or two at one point in time. I was the drummer for the band until the guys pushed me enough to grow a set of balls and sing and play guitar. Jeff played saxophone prior to playing piano and keyboard for us. Nick played piano and trumpet when he was younger and still does today. Zach is the only one of us that is pretty much 100% into his own instrument. I think the rest of us secretly want to play each other’s instruments all the time.” As The Defog took the time to solidify the line up, they would eventually walk onto their next stage; cd releases. Their first full-length release, Dying in Crosswalks dropped in 2002 making it quite apparent that they had no fear of risk taking. One could say that Dying in Crosswalks is a fine representation of the band growing into chartered and unknown stages, where song tracks are dipped in heavy samples and loops are rolled on top of walls and walls of synths, eventually engulfing a gritty, drenched vocal track(s). The key factor here would be
the drums and how they cleverly breathe life and human pulse into the calculating synth orchestra, not forgetting to mention the songs that sway in a more jazzy fashion, especially when the guitar was present. With the pure mastery keyboard overdose, it would only be a matter of time when The Defog would break the glass ceiling of synth influenced bands. And when that shattered glass came down, it could be found amongst the broken glass fragments, that any listener or critic could sense that it’s just that – it’s in the band’s songcrafting dna. Dying at Crosswalks would also help garner the band some notoriety as their song, “Dewey Decimal” would be licensed to Shuteye Records for one of the label’s cd compilations, allowing the band to reach a wider audience not to mention radio play on hundreds of college stations. Soon, The Defog was playing gigs at local haunts like, The Khyber. Gigs in the New York metropolitan area would soon follow gaining more fans, and thus making it hard to claim who actually owned this band; New Jersey, Philadelphia or even New York? Stieg had this to say,”I don’t think we ever took the “we hail from” part of being in a band very seriously. I mean, we love anywhere that will have us. But if we had to choose one, we would probably say Philly because we’ve been there the longest.” As momentum fed the band, 2004 would yield a follow up five song demo called, Sounds From The Stars. Released primarily for the sole purpose of a sonic calling card or platform for labels, press, radio and more listeners, Stars worked its mileage. The Defog were selected as a finalist in Billboard’s “Independent Music World Series.” Stieg had this to say about the experience: “The Billboard contest did one big thing for us; it lifted our spirits up. I remember we had been playing a lot of shows at the time, but we felt like we weren’t getting anywhere. It made us feel good to know that we doing something right and that maybe we were catching the attention of some people that might be able to help us out. Soon followed an opportunity of a Viacom magnitude. Of the five songs off of Stars, three, “Downstream,” “Calibrated,” and “Corner Stores,” would find homes as celluloid soundtracks on MTV’s reality series Meet The Barkers and Real World. Of the experience, Stieg had this to share: “It’s a really great thing that these shows use unsigned artists as their background music. Obviously, they do it for financial reasons, but it is a great way of spreading around music in a nonpushy way. And since it wasn’t directly for 42
an advertisement or commercial spot, it doesn’t strip you of your integrity.” Eventually Stars would settle with being in the running for 5 Grammy Nominations. The Defog went on to survive the attention they gathered, unlike the Barkers, who would turn belly-up in the sticky world of tell-all myspace wars. At this point in the band’s timeline (and because Sounds From The Stars had already offered a bigger streamlined sound, obvious of what these musicians were capable of), a vaguely familiar high, expectant feeling of delivery became apparent. But as Stars proved, melodies were becoming more pronounced, the assembly of louder guitars with synths were becoming the norm and the vocals were sounding more engaging. Fans had little to doubt for nothing but a stellar production would be almost certain and by 2006, The Defog released their magnum opus, entitled, Ebb and Flow. Their unique sound, guarded carefully by every other song that ever came before it, offered nothing but a nonintrusive bright, catchy, pop extravaganza of an indy release. Similar to stray cats fighting over a carcass of a dead mouse, soon, one by one, fans and critics alike, would too, carry off Ebb and Flow, into the woods and isolate themselves with it, for hours, days, weeks, possibly years… The 13-track offering created even more soundscapes, where super tight arrangements were wrapped up with Stieg’s
confidently intimate sounding vocals. To say Ebb and Flow is one continual hit after hit after hit is mute. Yet, critics and fans alike hailed its importance, similar to a world-shattering discovery of the Holy Grail of independent releases. I asked Stieg about all the hoopla covering Ebb and Flow. His reaction? “We had received some feedback about our previous ep that we were onto something with our sound, but not taking a big enough risk. So we really set out to experiment more with this album to try to figure ourselves out. We were very pleased with the results. It ended up being very diverse, yet cohe-
sive. I wouldn’t change anything about it to be honest. I can listen to it straight through without skipping a song. We’re very proud of the entire album.” Every instrument is perfectly placed in each of the compositions found on Ebb and Flow, allowing the listener to place judgment on exactly how sonically flawless these songs really are. Standout tracks like, “A Blink Remembered,” finds Stieg’s upbeat guitar strums, while he woos, “Clicks in and out like a lighthouse/Morse codes and ciphers/Bringing the goods ashore.” An upbeat number, Stieg is met with bandmate, Jeffery Hurtado, who adds just the right amount of his keyboard wizardry, flavoring the song with an unexpected, warm tone. The song, “Challenger Deep,” has a sleepy sounding Stieg singing with soft harmonies as wizzy, futuristic synths fill the dead space. The drums by Wirjosemito coupled with Nick Schuenemann’s bass and rhythm section, kick the song up into something completely unexpected in the second verse. Curious about this, I asked Stieg if this was an emotional or calculated action? He responded: “It was calculated emotionally if that makes any sense. The song was half programmed drums and half real drums for the end. I wanted it to represent this really vivid dream I had. There was a part in the dream where I hit rock bottom (literally, the bottom of the deepest part of the ocean) and I got pulled back up to the top by these weird blind serpent-like sea creatures. That is the point in the song where the drums blast in. They’re there to save the day.” Another beauty here is the track, “Country Song,” where one might think that Stieg and Co. is trying their hand at an actual country song. The tune is mainly composed of sliding guitar parts that twinkle about. Oddly, it’s got a cow-poke feel to it as Wirjosemito’s drums seem to ranch in Hurtado’s synths each time Stieg makes a vocal entry. “Solo Cell (Battery),” and “Strung,” are the two extremes this band has to offer (not forgetting to mention the track, “The Accidents,” a song that bounces around more like a 7” dance-track than a shoegazing fantasy mixed-tape). “Strung,” shuffles between a strong, bold piano line that shares the space with both live and drum track. The vocals are sung in harmony as Stieg’s main vocal track sings, “it’s cold just like the moon/it’s far away like January and June/enough is enough/don’t string me along.” Clearly (and typically of any zine writer), I could go on and on about how amazing this release is. But I will reluctantly climb off my soap box now. I asked Stieg if any of The Defog’s releases have themes or specific stories about them? He answered; “We don’t necessarily set out
to create a theme when we are writing. But when several songs are written during the same time period, they’re going to reflect whatever is happening in that time. Ebb and Flow is very much about being stuck in normalcy. It’s about a regular work day; the 9-5, slowly draining the life out of you workplace that everyone knows and hates. It’s about the dreams and aspirations people have and how they are too afraid to try and achieve them.” When asked on how a song appears or happens with the band, he offered this: “Often, someone brings something they scratch-recorded to the rehearsal space that is complete or is close to being complete. But a lot of times, the songs are just parts or a chord progression that we all chime in on. It’s easy to tell how each one was written though because you can’t write intricate parts in a small room with four loud, obnoxious musicians.” I also asked him if he prefers to spend his time in the studio recording or out on a stage performing? He said, “I wish that I had a straight answer for this. I know that Nick really enjoys recording and that Zach and Jeff really enjoy performing live. I think I am on the fence with both of them really. I love the release and energy from playing a live show, because you get your rush all at once. But recording a song from the ground up is more rewarding when it works well. It just depends on whether or not I’m in an “instant gratification” sort of mood.” When I asked Stieg where is it, that he is seeing most of his success with Ebb and Flow sales, he answered in a poetic, tableau manner; “I never thought it would pan out this way, but as of recently, our internet sales are really outdoing every other form of sale. It bugs me a little bit because it hurts albums that have a flow and mood to them. And if you are only grabbing one song from that album, you’re kind of disrupting that. Later if you decide to buy the whole album and piece it back together, it screws up the whole unveiling process of it. Not having physical artwork in my hands makes me a little irritated too.” I thought about Stieg’s response to the cd sales questions and it dawned on me why I like this release so much. Just like he stated, Ebb and Flow has a beginning, middle and end, allowing listeners to ease up to the familiar sense this record has. To me, as a listener, this sensational feeling is similar to one of floating in water, where you allow the current and tides to move you. Call it a “wave” of an aerodynamic means if you will…
The Defog continue to keep busy. This year they returned to MTV, but this time they performed their latest song, “Love’s Gone,” on TRL (hear this song on the included Dig This Real cd compilation, as well as the band’s myspace page) and new recordings have been completed. Stieg informed me that, “Right now, we’re working out video for some of our songs. We’re also going to begin working on a new batch of songs for our live set, which will eventually be recorded. We have a fair amount of unfinished material from this round of recordings that will be going toward the next. So we hope to have another album done within a year or so. We’ll see about that though.” On closing remarks, I asked Stieg about his life aspirations and whether or not this was originally in the cards for him, making music. He had this to say: “The four of us have been together in this arrangement for more than six years now. And I’ve been doing music with Nick for almost 12 years. We always manage to find something that keeps things interesting with our writing. It never ceases to excite us. All four of us do have regular jobs though. Nick and Jeff are both chemists. Zach is a special education teacher. I work at an advertising agency. Our lyrics have painfully obvious parallels to this world.” Some upcoming shows are also planned. Stop by the band’s website for more details. www.thedefog.com and www.myspace.com/thedefog - edie
Forever and a Day Appleseed’s, Forever and a Day, has a bi-polar aspect to it. The first six songs get caught in melancholy and somber undertones, while the latter six tracks have more gusto. There are appealing aspects to both and each side has a track or two that are definite standouts from the others, but this listener found more satisfaction in the back half. Even with that being said the opening track, “Don’t Go,“ kicked things off with a nice banjo intro before falling into a track that sounded a lot like the stuff Frank Black has been recently putting out. The next tune was the album title track which began the more somber vibe of the first half the disc. That is not to say it wasn’t a good listen because it had a strong melody and the band plays sharp throughout the disc, but when you get to the later tracks I found the intensity increase more attention grabbing. I did have trouble fully digesting Nick Santaniello vocals. The technique is very good, but left alone, I felt that the vocal approach had a quality leaning more to “dramatic.” One track that really let it rip was, “They Won’t Lead Us,” which brought drive and intense lyrics ripping through the speakers. Needless to say, Appleseed is a very good band, with good songs and solid instrumentation. There are no regrets in giving it a listen. www.appleseedband.com – Nelson Heise
Mirrored is sort of like what you’d imagine would happen if Isaac Newton and Leonhard Euler teamed up with Galileo and Copernicus, ripped a huge joint and started rocking some of the tightest grooves you’d ever heard. Battles are at times funky and at other times blasting off into glorious outer space, but always flawless. The technical precision this band displays is about enough to humble any musician. The intro track, “Race: In,” sets the tone with drummer John Stanier’s rhythmic rim-tapping, eventually kicking into high gear with some of the most powerful snare hits since his days in Helmet. Stanier masterfully leads the group in and out of 6/8 – 3/4 – 6/8 feels with such skill that you hardly notice the change. Notable tracks on the album include, “Atlas,” “Tonto,” and “Tij.” The entire release is quite a thing of beauty, clocking in at just under an hour and truly orchestrated for a full, sit-down listen. There are no dull moments; intense guitar lines taking the melody, or singer Tyondai Braxton’s alien wailings, all paired with bowel-shaking riffs exemplify the most superior of highs. The mood is, many times, ominous and brooding, always furious and continually gives you the sense that your brain is perching on the edge of insanity...and it feels really, really good. Mirrored’s defining quality is its ability to mutate and adapt to different settings. It is perfect for a long, winter night’s drive, but 44
also doesn’t feel out of place when played at a party. It has that ineffable quality of continuity from song-to-song, yet somehow no song is quite like the one preceding or following it. Battles adeptly flexes their muscles with layer after layer of music and stretches boundaries to the breaking point, but also show that they know how to create clever and memorable hooks and singa-long “choruses,” just not in a way that anyone else can do it. Come to think of it, I find it hard to believe that the members of Battles are actually human beings. It makes much more sense that they would come from another planet where gravity is found in polyrhythms and the planet’s inhabitants communicate in digitally looped, distorted sentences like Braxton’s. Wherever this place is, I want to go there. - Kevin Walsh
Caesar Pink and The Imperial Orgy
Gospel Hymns For Agnostics And Atheists The group name and cd title sound and read almost as a warning - to strap yourself in and prepare to have your eyeballs melted from the inside out and your skirt blown up. But what you get instead, is a cruel case of sonic blue-balls when the speakers embarrassedly spit out something that sounds like a bar band playing in a Hilton Head gazebo. Their press materials, all about being “banned” on various college stations for “religious discrimination,” and playing on the “no publicity is bad publicity” theory, only seek to perpetuate the impression that these are some edgy MFers. But nary a controversial line can you find. Misappropriation of image aside, if you can make the leap that I simply can’t, it’s like calling yourself, The Bloody Puppy Sodomites and playing the xylophone! The music is, at best, cheesy, three-chord goofiness and at its worst, gratingly banal. The worst ingredient could be Mr. Pink’s vocals which make me wish I were severely intoxicated and eating chips and salsa at the poolside cantina one imagines he is performing from. I know this all sounds rather mean, but, in short, it’s *really* bad music that nowhere near delivers on its controversial promise. www.theimperialorgy.com - Corey Landis
Carla Bruni No Promises Naive France’s newest First Lady and former Italian supermodel Carla Bruni, has released her first full-length English language album called, No Promises. It is a well-curated selection of British and American modernist poetry, put to Bruni’s music. While it includes works by Emily Dickinson, Yeats, Auden and more, these poems drip out of Bruni’s voice like honey. It is questionable, though, whether that honey is golden. Bruni’s debut album, Quelqu’un m’a dit, was ripe with playfulness and personality while No Promises offers a menopausal performance in syrupy English. Redeemable only by sultry vocals and the creativity of others, it doesn’t do nearly as much for me as her first effort, but still worth the import fees. – Alexandra Kain
Dream Theater Systematic Chaos Roadrunner Records First off, for those of you that don’t know, Dream Theater is not for people with short attention spans. With seven out of eight tracks on their album clocking in at over seven minutes and a 16-minute finale track, Dream Theater really is attempting to create something epic. Whether or not they achieve this is more questionable. I was introduced first to Dream Theater when I first learned to play guitar and the instrumentation is in fact, one of the strongest parts of Systematic Chaos. This release has a good sense of melody and the musicians cleary are comfortable with creating melodic riffs and executing technical guitar passages. The vocals don’t stand out and are average for a non-screaming metal band. If you enjoy technical metal guitar that’s not too heavy but still metal and don’t mind middle of the road vocals, then you should definitely check this out. – Jose Ho-Guanipa 45
Brighter Than Creation’s Dark New West Records Bands that play pure guitar driven rock and talk about simple truths like family, music, God and love are just hard not to love. Fortune brought the Drive-by Truckers into my life about two years ago. I had seen the name but had never taken the chance to find out what they were about, but by the time Brighter Than Creation’s Dark was released, I was well versed. Despite the band having some personnel changes, the same good sounds ring loud, but ever more so than their other discs they turn things down and demonstrate, for lack of a better word, a sentimental side. The first track showcases that. “Two Daughters and a Beautiful Life,” is a sad tune that has the main character reflecting down from heaven about the confusion of his death and the loss of not being able to be with his daughters and wife. While sad in nature, the song asks the listener to appreciate what they have and how fragile life is. That theme continues on track three, “Righteous Path,” in which lead Trucker Ross Patterson states, “I don’t know God but I fear his wrath.” The rest of the lyrics reflect on the simple things in life and just striving to stay on track and handle life on life’s terms. What is new for the Truckers is bassist Shonna Tucker taking her turn on lead vocals on tracks like, “I’m Sorry Houston,” and “Home Field Advantage.” This addition breaks up Patterson and guitarist Mike Cooley’s tracks and adds more texture to the DBT’s disc. While her tunes are not the one’s that initially won me over, they do grow over time and are worthy additions. As for Cooley’s lead tracks, “Self Destructive Zones,” plays as a favorite. Picking on 90’s alt-rock, hippies and stoners, there is a tongue in cheek approach that always make Cooley’s songs winners for repeat listening. Cooley sings in the track that, “Dead, fat or rich/ nobody’s left to bitch about the goings on in self destructive zones.” Well there really is nothing to bitch about with DBT’s Brighter Than Creation’s Dark. – Nelson Heise
Federico Aubele Panamerican
Eighteenth Street This is the story of the meeting (but not a personal meeting) of two Federicos. One of them, whose last name is Aubele, recorded a beautiful collection of songs about Buenos Aires. The other one writes this article and also composes songs. A good way to start the meeting. The best way to write about music is to be a musician yourself and I only want to describe the feelings and thoughts that the songs on Panamerican conjured in me with their words, melodies, harmonies, rhythms and notes, as well as with the quality of their execution, recording and good taste. This cd interested me because upon discovering it, I immediately identified with some songs – not an everyday occurrence. Musicians respect other musicians’ work with full knowledge and understanding because we know how difficult it is to live by making music and how difficult it is to depict our life choice in good work. As Aubele says in his song, “Maria Jose:” “How cloyingly/the honey of melancholy/sweetens everything you see.” To find in sorrow something also sweet and to create life from something seemingly dead – to make sounds out of silence - that is a true art form. A “night of sad guffaws,” sings Aubele in the song, “Pain,” and in that verse he summarizes the feelings of all the beings who make music with a vital and existential need. Music is not a profession. We ourselves are the music. Our souls are musical. We are the strings which stretch out at the pace of sorrow and happiness, which are in tune or out of tune. The first song of Aubele’s release, “The Corner,” engraved itself immediately in my memory, to the extent that I became obsessed with it. When I was dreaming about it, I woke up and sang and played it on the guitar. Though I had never before picked out the chords or studied the lyrics, I played it completely and intuitively, from beginning to end, as if it were mine. When I listen to Aubele’s music, I cannot stop thinking about Buenos Aires. When I listen to his songs, I feel the same as when I walk the streets of the city of Tango. The same melancholic and sad images come to mind, as well as much beauty, liveliness and happiness. I think of the authors of a former Buenos Aires, crying for dead lovers at dawn; a traditional atmosphere trapped in a love for the past. It seems like Aubele gathers in his songs, a big love for his city of Buenos Aires, with which he is deeply enamored. He also yearned for Buenos Aires when he left it for more than five years on account of the economic and social crisis Argentina faced in 2001 with people dying from police repression and arson in the streets. He lived in Spain, Germany and the U.S. I think that I can find in his release, references to that painful, but enriching experience. The song, “Everywhere,” seems a photograph of that obligatory exile. He sings, “Any house and time does not make a home/streets with no memories,” and “strange faces,” 46
that walk around and “even the stars here look different.” These words refer to somebody who is in exile and to a history of lost identity. In “Desert,” he sings: “Dear, let us wander/let us leave/everything will explode.” Due to this exile, the musician melted with other cultures, but he did not forget his Buenos Aires and his Latin America. Thus, he combines certain sounds and native features with European elements. He mixes bandoneones (many times synthesized), lyrics about loves that end (a Tango symbol), pop elements and basses influenced by hip hop and electronic music. Aubele’s style seems to be based on composing Latin American songs and treating them as reggae, dub, hip hop, Tango and electronic music. But we should highlight that Panamerican encompasses songs that have lyrics, melody and rhythm. The electric elements embellish the landscapes evoked by the music but they never turn the songs into hollow things. “The Corner,” is the song most on the tango side of things. “Maria Jose,” has some reggae-style bass and wind instruments and the same applies to, “Heart.” “Desert,” and “Pain,” sound very much like Latin American boleros. In Panamerican, the Spanish guitar phrases and many of the strumming flourishes refer to flamenco. The ship in which Aublele travels the, “summer nights/in Belgrano’s corner/drifting/till dawn,” comes near those shores, driven by similar streams and waves. A modern night, bass drums beating the time of a new, toxic dance that is in love with the dawn lights. As its name suggests, Panamerican contains songs that are like roads, paths made of intense moments both happy and sad. It is necessary to highlight that Audbele plays all the instruments, except for the ones played by guest musicians. He achieves a smooth sound throughout the release. The bass lines and the Spanish guitars are very good and accurate. The keyboards, the wind instruments, the effects, the voices, the guitars with wa-wa, the bandoneones made by the keyboards and the reggaestyle delays of the drums are also well played. Concerning lyrics, there is a search for a poetic beauty, a pop-aesthetic beauty, which knows that a small quantity of resources and beautiful, limited words will provide better results. This characteristic appears at the beginning of the release: “Through the essence of a thousand jasmines all your warmth filters,” sings Natalia Clavier in, “The Corner.” The forty-three minutes of Panamerican are full of this kind of poetry. Nostalgia is the best friend of many of the musicians who have a typical Buenos Aires sound. It is no coincidence that many tango, folklore and rock songs are very similar. They share something: a pain, a claim, a way of describing life or streets. The pure Buenos Aires songs share a soul, a melancholic flavor, a reminiscence of the city’s landscapes, which one cannot avoid identifying as Buenos Aires music. Aubele’s music already belongs to this sound forever. – Federico Di Pasquale
Funky Mustard Alma Del Fuego Moosepie Records If you don’t know what Alma del Fuego means, let me make it clear, it translates into “Love of Fire.” How do I know? Well, Funky Mustard killed the curiosity and just flat out told me right below their exotic, Spanish cd title. It makes me wonder, why go through all the trouble of looking up, “Love of Fire,” in Spanish if you are just going to shoot fish in a barrel and tell us what it means right out of the gate? It negates the entire “mysterious” Spanish title to begin with. While we are on titles, I cannot even begin to comment on the name “Funky Mustard,” or that the fans of this band are called “mustardheads.” If you are scanning the yellow, radioactive coloring of Funky Mustard’s latest release, the first thing that may pop into your head is 1990. It all screams “past,” from the in-flames Tiki man cover; to the sunglasses that all the band members seem to be very fond of; to the jewelry that the female bandmate, Kristen wears. Those metal ball necklaces are oh so very over. As if the cover wasn’t enough, turning on the music is almost like stepping into a time warp. You find yourself in a bitter nostalgia of what some of the 90’s embodied. Yet, this nostalgia is far from Smells like Teen Spirit and much closer to our reaction to acid washed, tapered denim jeans. You can barely make it to your kitchen before an opening lyric gives you a little cringe. Alma is all very reminiscent of Pearl Jam mixed with a bit of Dave Matthews. Apart those two band aren’t at all bad, but the most common of lyrics aside the-far-too-long song times only furthermore prove the point that Funky Mustard is probably indeed a better live band. With that being said it cannot be denied that if we were at a bar and Funky Mustard were playing, we would probably enjoy it. Mustard’s songs would play well in the drunken ambiance of a bar or brewery. The liquor, the flashing green, red, and blue lighting would help, but the idea that live performances can resonate onto a cd and be taken inside someone’s home is where, apologetically, Alma seems to fall short. www.funkymustard.com – Christina Baker 47
Kat Eggleston The Only Word Redwing Records Kat Eggleston keeps the folkie faith alive on her album entitled, The Only Word, released by Redwing Records. Listening to this, you might be tempted to believe that you are sitting in a forest in the Pacific Northwest, sometime in the late 70s, strumming on a Martin with Emmylou Harris. Eggleston has the requisite finger picking chops, a voice as clear as a bell, and even a mandolin. Her lyrics celebrate clarity: she compares the way snow covers a field to joy coming over her and the way that rain, “washes everything clean.” Her songs range from nostalgic meditations on her past, to political statements, like the Irish-themed, “Both Our Houses.” (“Both Our Houses,” is showcased on this issues cd compilation). Like many folksingers, she also has a spiritual side, which can be heard on her confessional, “Measure for Measure,” and, “I Will Set My Good Ship in Order.” The true test of this intimate music is whether it moves one’s heart and that certainly happens on the chorus of, “Rain,” in which she sings out a single note as her guitar chugs along underneath. These quiet songs seem to be her best. When she tries to rock out, such as on, “One More Step,” one is reminded of Simon and Garfunkel’s upbeat numbers, which this reviewer always found somewhat quaint. Indeed, Eggleston’s style seems somewhat dated in general, which is unfortunate because of her masterful talent. One should listen to this music on a beautiful day in a rural setting. These songs remind us of a place far away from dirty, crowded highways, where life moves at a slower pace. This is an important reminder for all of us. Check out www.kateggleson.com for more info. – Christian Recca
Kelly And David
As The Twilight Auguries As The Twilight Auguries is the perfect sound track for a lazy Saturday morning. Kelly and David cleverly mix music and story telling in a way that I have never heard before. Although songs do commonly tell a story, Kelly and David actually narrate stories while singing and playing music in their songs. A fine example of this would be the song, “Salud Zamudio,” in which the chorus consists of mostly of singing, while the rest is narrated. The music itself is mostly acoustic guitars and banjos, but piano, cello, flute, accordion and violin are also used. Using such an array of instruments throughout the album creates an eclectic sound instrumentally. The vocals of Kelly Marie Martin and David Jones genuinely compliment each other and their music. Having both a male and female voice present on the album also adds a great deal to the eclectic sound. The laid back instrumentals and perfectly harmonized male and female vocals pair nicely with the colorful lyrics. The lyrics both tell a story as well as paint a vivid picture in the imagination. All together, it sounds a bit like southern folk music. Kelly and David’s As The Twilight Auguries is a good album to listen to while driving, relaxing, trying to fall asleep, or just watching the clouds go by. – Cindy Chisvette
Ladycop may want to change their name, stat. This is a personal opinion, but the name doesn’t give any hints towards how excellent their music is and unless there is an impressive back-story, it’s probably unnecessary. Otherwise, there are very few complaints and issues, except that the vocals seem so similar to Bjork and Tori Amos but happen to be male. Stranger things have happened though and this only proves the innovative nature of the vocalist. In their first ep, the Brooklyn-based foursome manage to capture an extremely intimate, fleeting quality with electronic pedal effects, distortion, roaring drums, combined with shaky, emotional vocals. The songs are mind-bogglingly different and expansive in their approach. “Put Down the Racers,” dances on for over four minutes beginning with wind48
ing drums and shakers draped with oozing bass-lines and then slows to a Radiohead-style ballad before layering itself in postrock guitar stylings. Strange clicking and clanging sound effects hide within the dark corridors of the tune, but they are tastefully placed before a mad build up of spiraling guitar and beautifully hazy vocals. The following song on the cd, “Let,” is a little disappointing in comparison, but is a footnote of proof that Ladycop is still searching for their true form. The song wavers with acoustic guitar full of nineties garage-rock static and it doesn’t come off at all bad, but feels stagnant instead of flowing as easily as some of their other songs do. Ladycop goes back and forth in this five-song EP from being impressively strategic and magnetic to a slight standstill, but they do manage to prove that they have something really important and impressive. The song, “Cool Runnings,” which one can only hope is named after the film, is dreamy and choppy with twinkling guitars and driving drums that shake and stammer with electronic glitches. Their tunes create the feeling of spinning, mirrors and spider webs, stretching and opening to the listener. They pull you in with chilling effects and distinctive, whispering vocals. The song, “Falling on Scissors,” enters with an Elliot Smithesque, acoustic flare and then breaks into a Sunny Day Real Estate influenced, upbeat but shoe-gaze-y melody. Combining early to mid-nineties influences with more progressive elements of today is really difficult to pull off, but Ladycop’s efforts are almost seamless. Normally it comes off as mimic-y but they capture an element of every style they put into their music that is rare and expressive. Ladycop gives something back in their music and show how much they appreciate their influences but also how much they have been able to learn and create their own sound from them. That is the best part of music, and it’s harder to find nowadays. The combinations of genres and innovations convince me that if Ladycop change their name, and focuses on more fluidity in their next EP, they could continue making stunning music and who knows what else. - Lauren Piper
No Going Back Page Records Having been a music engineer and producer for the last 5+ years, and having studied music theory and other related topics at a very serious music conservatory, I have been taught to dissect the hell out of anything that remotely resembles music. I look at it from all of the various perspectives: how was it recorded? Is it sonically pleasing? Is the actual playing in-tune and on-time? Is the composition solid? Does the music steal from anything so much that a direct comparison is inevitable? So, yeah, I mean, sometimes all of that analysis can actually ruin my listening experience. Perhaps this is a personal problem. Sometimes I long for the days when all that I thought about was the initial, primal, visceral impression of a given song/artist/cd; really, that is still all that matters… In listening to the No Going Back release by Leiana, initially I found myself making a few negative criticisms of some of the engineering work. Despite that however, I am happy to report that the overall energy and crunch of this pop-punk struck me in a very positive way. I mean, to put it simply, the stuff rocks pretty hard. One important factor in my diagnosis is the solid and straightforward drumming, which generally propels the songs along at a nice, up-tempo clip (but then I ask myself, “Was this stuff edited like crazy and locked to a grid, or is this natural?”). I went to the liner notes to see who is doing the aforementioned skin-pounding and it appears that Chuck Treece is the jack-of-all trades behind Leiana’s music. He is credited as follows: “All songs written, arranged, produced, and performed by Chuck Treece.” Wow! That is quite a feat. Some of the other materials in Leiana’s press kit reveal that Mr. Treece has a long history in the performance and production of rock ‘n roll and what they call, “skate rock.” So, to summarize, you have Leiana, the front-woman and lead vocalist and Treece, the sort-of Dave Grohl of the band. The combination works out well throughout the album and the music that Treece brews up is fairly classic sounding without being overly cliché or dull. In a couple of spots, the overall sound is reminiscent of Motorhead (which is always good in my book), a notion that is fueled by the consistent drive of the bass and drums, as well as the use of distortion on many of the bass guitar tracks. A great example of Lemmy’s influence is on track 3, “Couldn’t Tell,”and actually, the more that I listen to it, this song really reminds me of, “Ace of Spades.” The bass tone is similar and the drums carry on in a way that would probably make Philthy Animal (one of Motorhead’s early drummers) proud. Unlike many rock bands these days, the group employs the occasional lead guitar and when present, it is pretty classic rock sounding, with a lot of pentatonic squeals and bends, as on “Bitter.” In terms of Leiana’s vocals, they are generally pretty smooth and easy on the ear, but it seems like she is using more of her head-voice than anything else. If she could breathe a bit deeper and get more fullness to her voice I think it would be a great improvement. I wanted to think of a singer that I could compare her with in hopes to give you some idea of her tone, but a close comparison did not spring to mind, which is both good and bad. If she sounded exactly like someone we already know, it would perhaps be a selling point for the group; however, she might be considered a rip-off of that person. It’s a catch-22. And that brings me to another question: “What is this group’s long-term ambition?” I mean, they are fairly pop-oriented in terms 49
of how the vocals are structured and produced and there are some okay hooks and all, so maybe they would like to eventually reach ‘the masses?’ If so, I feel they ought to consider moving away from the classic rock stylings and modernize their sound a little. But, if rocking out the dirty, sweaty clubs of Philadelphia is where they want to be, I feel that they are probably right on track. The production of the songs is pretty solid with many points of interest and if they have a solid backing band, the Leiana and Chuck show should be quite a good time for anyone who likes, oh, I dunno, classic, solid, punk-infused rock. Track 8, “Me Again,” has a particularly punk vibe to it and just grinds along, hard and fast and sounds pretty angry. The chorus riff reminds me a lot of Nirvana with its descending, chromatic power chord pattern. The drums are solid as usual, but particularly low-fi on this track, which suits the punk feel, but they could be a bit crisper and placed higher in the mix. The song is short and sweet and I love that. It just opens up, rages for about two and a half minutes and bails. It also has some interesting lead guitar work which does not necessarily seem appropriate in terms of note-selection, but does provide an interesting sonic bonus for the listener. “No Going Back,” which is the album’s title track, has quite a different flavor with its slower tempo and pulsing drum pattern. The kick drum/toms just pound along on the quarter notes, while the guitar does a simple eighth-note downstroke thing. Each of those elements is pretty boring on its own, but when you add the whole package of Leiana’s vocals and the distorted bass, it is interesting and even a bit ominous. There is a lead guitar part that almost sounds like a sitar and the track even has some synth pads in the background. You know, this could be Leiana’s version of, “Paint it Black,” by the Rolling Stones! Wow, that almost makes me chuckle, but if you check out this track, you might just see what I mean. The slow pulse of, “No Going Back,” makes for a nice contrast to the more upbeat tunes on the disc, but I must say, Leiana strikes me best in the punky, fast, rockin’ mode as on, “2 B Unkind,” “Can’t Reply,” and “Couldn’t Tell.” I hate to say it but I think, “Couldn’t Tell,” is the overall highlight for me, because the idea of a female singing Motorhead-esque, hard-drivin’ rock music has never lost its appeal, no matter how much I over-analyze it. For more info check out www.leiana.com – Nicholas Miller
Magnetic Fields Distortion Nonesuch The Field’s chief songwriter/producer Stephen Merritt set out this time around to make a record of 3-minute pop songs using virtually the same instrumentation on every track and sounding like early Jesus and Mary Chain (which, in turn, sounds like post-punk Phil Spector). And, by God he did! Using plenty of reverb, electric guitar, piano with feedback (Distortion!), NO synthesizers and female vocalist Shirley Simms to split singing duties, Merritt has come up with what he considers to be his most commercial record to date. This may be true, but that’s a relative notion; no one will ever mistake this for John Mayer’s newest popfest but, keep in mind, this is the product of the eccentric mind whose last albums were “i” (featuring songs whose titles begin only with the letter “i”) and “69 Love Songs” (enough said). The result is either the loudest quiet album or the quietest LOUD album I think I’ve heard. Merritt himself said he was going for texture rather than volume and the album does sort of drip with goo and reek of rust, having the effect of making the listener feel like they’ve been drugged and taken to an abandoned factory to participate in some sort of kinky sexual activities. Thus, this is a mood record, not to be pulled out on a church outing to an amusement park on a sunny Saturday. Merritt’s written better songs certainly, but he - even on his off days - still is one of the few folks out there keeping old-school, traditional, great songwriting alive and well. So if he wants to sacrifice a little bit of song-quality in lieu of the creation of a very specific sonic landscape, who are we to stop him? – Corey Landis
Songs III: Bird on the Water Kemado From the start of the cd, Marissa Nadler’s voice echoes heavy feelings of soulful sincerity, accompanied by every chord change with the strumming of her guitar. They say the more you listen, the more you understand. This is exactly true in relation to Nadler’s release, Songs III: Bird on the Water. One must listen intently to fully embrace Nadler’s cd. Her music is softly sweet, but extremely melancholy, which makes it difficult to take in all at once. It must be slowly absorbed, track by track, to be appreciated. She will make you want to cry as each song takes you on a journey through the graying past, evoking memories in the mind of the listener that perhaps had been lost or absent within the whirlwind of time. 50
Nadler’s compositions beg to forge with your own memories and fears of loss as she commences the journey with, “Diamond Heart.” Through the dark, gray, blustery clouds of her memory, her passionate and poetic lyrics resonate of remembrance and sorrow for the things that she could not hold onto. Nadler adds color with the second track, “Dying Breed.” She laments a man named Frank and reminds listeners that life is love, mystery and fading memory, but mostly, just simply - abrupt. A cautioning tone echoes fear of life after death and also, fear to love another after the death of a true love, an idea which Nadler introduces in the third track, “Mexican Summer.” She softly sings, remembering, dreaming of the past and fearing the future. These first three tracks give one the indication that however individual each track is, Nadler sets them in their particular order to evoke an underlying characteristic of our lives often ignored during the moments of the mechanization of life and time. And that message seems to scream to her listeners, we must try to live in the moments that are given to us and never forget what is in fact most real, our time here spent together. The track that stands above the rest is, “Sylvia.” As Nadler sings, visions of red dresses and feathers appear and spin you round and round. The repetitions of the name, “Sylvia, Sylvia, Sylvia,” echoes and remains in your mind long after the song has passed. It makes one wonder, “Where did she fail?” Lastly, Nadler’s final track on the album, “Leather Made Shoes,” seems to be metaphorical for how the difficulties of life toughen our souls. And that throughout our lives, love and fear of loss is so apparent as Nadler sings, “a love that has died is a sad, sad thing.” www.marissanadler.com – Juliette Hernandez
Working Man’s Café New West Records If there is anybody that perks my attention when I hear they are going to be releasing new material it is Ray Davies. Leader of the quintessential rock band The Kinks, Davies has his own unique voice, a voice that is much more complying as far as content than his other great peers from the 60’s. I even believe that the Kinks’ material from the 70’s and 80’s is full of gems on par with the beloved albums from the 60’s. His last album, released just a couple years, back gained positive reviews and many believed that the “old” Ray was back. In his second solo disc, we find the music on par but the lyrical content missing. Maybe that is said with cynicism because so much expectation is put on what he says, but he has a tune called, “Peace In Our Time,” and it feels like, “not another aging rock star preaching about peace.” Ray, you should be above that. Nonetheless, it’s still Ray Davies and musically his songwriting is strong even if the content is not. “Vietnam Cowboys,” the opening track, is quite entertaining with its blues swagger and high energy, despite the line, “Wake up in the White House, zip up your pants and get it together.” I’m just not sure why Davies is ragging on Bill ten years later when “W” has given him so much more current material to work with. The title track brings to mind some of that good old Kinks vibe and I can go for the steady rock beat of, “No One Listens.” It really is not a bad album and if it was anyone besides Ray Davies this review probably would sound different. But it is the expectations that fall on the shoulders of Davies or maybe the problem is my expectations. – Nelson Heise
Red Collar The Hands Up
Red Collar’s The Hands Up EP offers enough punch to knock out any tired, conventional musical genre. Based in Durham, North Carolina, this lively group (Jason Kutchma, guitarist; Michael Jackson, guitar; Andrew Blass, keyboards; Beth Kutchma, bass and Jonathan Truesdale on drums), gives a firm nod to bands like Mission of Burma, as all members provide vocal support. As the songs offered here travel through pace, tempo and delivery in unpredictable paths, the angular, sonic rhythms can easily seduce any listener because, well, they are so damn catchy (whether you want to admit it or not). Slight angst coupled with sloppy, punk-rock performance makes this ep a must listen. www.redcollarmusic.com - edie
Rodrigo y Gabriela ATO Records In the case of Rodrigo y Gabriela’s self-titled release, they show us it is possible to compose nine songs and produce a homogenous work from start to finish with six strings and a wooden body. The guitars are played with great technique, but the fire of desire and the soul of our land predominate. The release has neither cold technicalities nor repeated (and respected) scores, but hot Latin American blood. The music of these Mexican born musicians is a clever mixture of genres that, surely (and for the sake of music’s future), would bewilder the most structured music critic. This is not a cd of Mexican folklore, Spanish flamenco, classic American or English rock, Argentine tango, Jamaican reggae, world pop, heavy metal or even thrash metal. On this cd, all these genres coexist harmoniously in a fabric of diverse sound mixtures. The labels and slogans, used by the most egotistical and commercial people in the industry to catalogue, separate and antagonize musical styles, do not exist for Rodrigo y Gabriela. This release demonstrates that the guitar is a complete instrument which can do without bands and orchestration. This cd nurtures my eternal romance with the Goddess of wood and strings. Its songs have a classical but contemporary sound. They have points of reference as varied as Paco de Lucia and Jimmy Page. The version of Led Zeppelin’s, “Stairway to Heaven,” is similar to that of a medieval kingdom’s troubadour who is quite a few centuries ahead of what became jazz. The version is classic and jazzy and yet contemporary, because it lacks prejudices and dissolves preconceived structures. It is similar to classical on account of its neat melody. And it is very jazzy on account of its tempo and some altered chords which are absent in the original recording of Led Zeppelin’s, Zoso album. Rodrigo y Gabriela excellent musicians and it is clear that they love the techniques of heavy/thrash metal; they transcend the boundaries and the limits of the usual musical patterns. They love music and in the long journey through the world’s music, they have picked up information from everywhere to transmit to their fingers. Their hands are eager to play American, Iberian or Latino music all at the same time, on the guitar. In many songs the percussion, mostly played by Gabriela Quintero, enhances the rock tempo of the cd. She accentuates the weak and strong beats of 4/4 rock time, thumping the guitar with her right hand so that the first and third beats correspond to the bass drum and the second and fourth beats to the snare drum of a standard drum kit. In this way, Quintero is the group’s drummer, but with her guitar. The rhythmic patterns of Quintero’s right hand are incredibly exact and fast, and this gives her musical partner Rodrigo Sanchez a harmonic and rhythmic base for executing his solos. Mostly, Quintero uses simple harmonies, built with natural chords. The succession of chords makes the cd similar to flamenco. For example, in “Tamacun,” the A, G, C and E harmony is a typical-Spanish succession of chords. It is linked to flamenco like a trademark, like A-D-E in blues and the most traditional rock and roll. In their version of Metallica’s, “Orion,” we can sense that Rodrigo y Gabriela are guitarists who come from classic metal. This can be heard in the arpeggios, low riffs, staccatos and the techniques used in the quickest solo scales. Rodrigo y Gabriela make music with honesty and love for Latin America. Their aim is to compose good artisanal work, using guitars as tools. They show their true selves and they play with their hearts. - Federico Di Pasquale
Where the Killers Run Tarnished Records Some musicians just get it right, so let’s not mistaken Viarosa as a group of southern, Americana-loving, twang-masters. Whether it be gothic-a-billy rock or bands capable of wearing all black, a ton of eyeliner and cowboy hats, the truth is Viarosa hails from the UK. And the reality of this is, they are responsible for playing melodramatic, twangy, dark and drone-y songs. To say that Viarosa’s lead singer Richard Neuberg sounds similar to Nick Cave, could be a curse or compliment. Neuberg’s vocal approach may not be quite as enchanting but similar in tone, deeper and all his own. And I think Neuberg intended it that way. On the opening song, “Blindfold,” we find a solid track that has rhythm, a nice chorus melody and tight presentation. Let’s not mistaken this statement (to my opening one) to set the pace for the rest of this wonderfully, creeping (and sometimes creepy) disc. Blame it on the bewitchingly slow pace Where the Killers Run travels on. The tracks, “Only Child,” “All This Worry (Will Be Over Soon),” and “Wake,” are just as stellar, particularly, “All This Worry,” which displays a nice country shuffle highlighted with a fiddle track. “Wake” closes the disc with its even darker tone and deep, rich vocal sing-speak. This song is an appropriate tune to sum up this collection of stories. Emma Seal’s backing vocals are also of stand-out quality and not only a nice accompaniment to Neuberg’s voice but a startling contrast as well. If there is a certain element that won me over with Killers, it would have to be the overall consistent tone dipped in melancholy. Despite that this same tone would probably make Cave proud, Killers energy barely rises above the horizon allowing us to truly appreciate its somber music for its actual light dynamics. www.myspace.com/viarosa - edie 52
Walt Ribeiro I.I
Walt Ribeiro is in an unenviable position. Years of technological advances have cumulated to the point where one can now reasonably simulate the sound of a complete orchestra, digitally and record a performance of an original classical piece in the confines of their apartment. The rub is, no one really gives a damn on a popular level about classical music as a whole, especially new works. Kudos to Ribeiro for bucking the trends and going ahead anyway, releasing his first cd in 12 movements; seven orchestral, two piano and three string quartet pieces. The sampling is of the highest quality and could easily fool the listener into believing more than one human was behind it, especially when heard on small speakers. Ribeiro deserves credit and your dollar, as far as I’m concerned for simply getting this release done and putting it out, regardless of the merit of the music, which is, for the most part, quite impressive. At times he dips his toes into triteness and predictability, but this happens rarely over the course of the album’s 50 minutes. Stylistically, the music is all over the place, at times Mozart-esque in its staidness and at times meanderingly modern. Ribeiro, 22 at the time of the release, is certainly a young classical composer to keep an eye on. It’ll be interesting to see where he goes next and what he’ll be able to do when he gets his hands on an orchestra that isn’t made of microchips and plastic. Although such a work would be difficult to achieve live, Ribeiro nonetheless accompanies himself karaoke-style on guitar in coffee shops to get his music out there. That sounds like a fairly grim bastardization that would send me and my latte running, but again, Ribeiro gets points for chutzpah. www.waltribeiro.com – Corey Landis
Dear Friend Dopamine Orange Hand Records Without mentioning what nineties alternative rockers Where’s Moo does a very good job of emulating, we will get straight down to the fact that despite this, there’s little that puts this band in a positive light. Despite attempts with interesting guitar picking intros, every song finds its way back to that fuzzed out bass sound of nineties alternative rock. They even throw in some unnecessary guitar solos and high-pitched whiny vocals. “Hostile Takeover,” swirls in an atmosphere of dissonant guitar riffs and weird computerized speaking over the top of the melody. It sounds like something the lead singer does live with an actual megaphone in his hands. The drums thunder beneath the distortion but in such a typical fashion that it feels overdone and underwhelming. The vibrato in the vocals, mixed with this extremely pleading and dramatic sense, makes each song feels like a recreation of itself. Most of Dear Friend Dopamine feels like what would happen if R.E.M. (there I said it) put on a musical of the “Rent” persuasion, which probably wouldn’t be that hard to do. The Michael Stipe inspired vocals rarely change it up, which would be fine if Where’s Moo were not doing such an amazing job of ripping off the nineties. There are aspects of surf rock that slowly find their way into the album, as well as male/female vocals, but for the most part, the album is pretty campy. If in fact there are people who love that sound, then this is the perfect band for them, but as people who now live in 2008, it just seems like perhaps progression is in order. The song, “Where the Rain Came Through,” takes the longest time to revert back to its 90’s roots. While the dissonance in the guitar counters the gentleness of the vocals, it starts out in a surprising folk-rock fashion. Cello-infused tune, “Her Aquarium,” also has some hints of trying to move forward; as one of the only songs that uses its multi-gendered vocals in a modern way. The guitar breakdown twinkles along the clinking high hat, as the cello harmonizes with the vocals, but yet again it becomes heavy and thick and too much like every other song. If Where’s Moo were to continue with the style they start with in those tunes, they could use their influences to move forward in their sound instead of continually making abrasive, distorted bass infused tunes that sound too similar to each other. There are little slivers of hope in a couple songs but it’s hard to find and easy to pass over if you are already irritated with the album. - Lauren Piper 53
Busted Circuits and Ringing Ears I have never really listened to the band Tad before. About 10 years ago, when I was in middle school, I saw the group on a documentary about the Seattle grunge scene/movement. Or, it might have been more-specifically focused on Kurt Cobain, I cannot really recall. At the time, I had recently discovered Nirvana, The Cranberries, Weezer and The Smashing Pumpkins. Nirvana was my first rock obsession, if you will, despite the fact that it was 1995 and Kurt Cobain had been gone for about a year. Really, as many may assert, it was Cobain’s death that exposed the band to so many new, “fans” and followers, and therefore, his untimely end brought his music to me as well. And, as a side effect, I saw an interview with Tad. I think that perhaps I gave all bands that were associated with Nirvana a little extra credit, but at the same time, my youthful ignorance allowed me to consistently assume that no one could be better than Cobain and company. Eventually, I would swap out Nirvana for The Smashing Pumpkins, perhaps because the Pumpkins had continued to make new records and their music was a bit more complex than the threechorded fare from Seattle. All that being said, I recently heard that Tad had released a dvd and I thought that doing a review on said release would be a great vehicle for discovery: 1) why was the band Tad associated
with Nirvana and grunge?; 2) what do they sound like? and 3) are they any good? For starters, the dvd is subtitled, Busted Circuits and Ringing Ears. Being a fairly D.I.Y. musician myself and having paid some dues, any reference to being busted/ crusty/beat-up/suffering for one’s music is an easy way to draw me in. The cover also has a picture of a guy playing a Fender Jazzmaster or something similar. This type of instrument is closely associated with the Seattle/early-‘90’s scene and the D.I.Y. sort of ethic. It all fits, so far… Next, I looked at the back of the dvd case. It reveals a large man in flannel, wielding a chainsaw! This man looks familiar: I think he was in the Nirvana documentary! And, chainsaws are awesome! This product is 2-for-2, I suppose. Then I read the back cover: primarily, it speaks about all kinds of injuries and afflictions that Tad may or may not have experienced as a result of being a touring band. At this point, I am not really sure if the film is more of a narrative-based documentary or a collection of concert footage. [I will now watch the film.]
As I watched the dvd, I took notes, and ended up with eleven pages of sentence fragments! I had no idea that I would be so inspired! I quickly learned that although the production includes bits and pieces of Tad live performances, it is oriented more to tell the tale of the past, present and future of the band. The Nirvana connection is made quite early in the film: Kris Novoselic, bass player from Nirvana, says that Tad is, “the quintessential grunge band.” That is pretty intense… To so many people around the world, Nirvana was the ultimate grunge band and yet, here you have a member of Nirvana bestowing that honor upon Tad. This is like the grunge music equivalent of being knighted by the Queen or something! Novoselic is passing Nirvana’s crown on to Tad and yet, I have never even heard a Tad record, but I have almost everything that Nirvana ever released. I am sure that is true for many others from my generation as well. This is an interesting phenomenon. Something factual that connects Tad and Nirvana is that they were both signed to the Seattle-based record label known as Sub-Pop, the company that virtually defined what would come to be called, ‘grunge.’ The dvd features many interviews with Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman, the founding fathers of the Sub-Pop label. One says that Tad was as charismatic a band as any on their label.
Again, Tad receives high praise from individuals who knew/know the scene and the music very well. Other statements say that Tad was, “the favored horse coming out of Seattle,” and that they were the, “rawest of the raw,” and the, “heaviest, meanest, darkest,” band in the scene. Can they really be that good? As the film moves along, the budding Seattle scene of the late 1980’s and early1990’s is thoroughly discussed. My impression of this is simple: total jealousy and admiration. It seems that there has not really been such a potent and fervent music scene happening anywhere or at anytime since Seattle and grunge. And that makes me wonder - is it because of the total rape and plundering of the Seattle music scene by record labels and the media that no other pure, natural, vital scene has really formed since? To me, this is a very important and profound topic on its own, one that deserves to be researched. I mean, really, it is a problem to me that no other scene of that magnitude has emerged. All problems beg for a solution. We need a solution to this problem. Anyhow, back to the review: the music scene is romanticized to the point of almost being cliché, but it really is quite beautiful. The bands were making the music that they wanted to make, not what they thought would sell. They supported each other and went to each others’ shows and there seemed to be a real sense of community. Novoselic concurs and describes a positive, supportive scene, where there were no competitive
rivalries, just a lot of musicians having fun and making music that they enjoyed. The film then goes back in time a little bit to describe how Tad was formed. The founder and frontman is the large and imposing Tad Doyle, who was a drummer in another band, but began doing his own songs and demos. The people from Sub-Pop heard one of his demos and thought it had a lot of promise, so they encouraged him to form a band. Doyle invited some people that he knew to play with him and the band was formed. Soon they began making records and touring and the documentary shows a lot of this in provocative and candid detail. I found that very enjoyable. The records began getting bigger and better, but the band began abusing substances more and more. In addition, one of the main themes of the film is that Tad experienced a number of unfortunate setbacks which appeared to occur by chance. These setbacks were key factors in preventing them from becoming as popular as other bands of its ilk, such as Nirvana. Could Tad have been, “the quintessential grunge band,” to the rest of the world? Maybe? If it were not for the various unforeseeable roadblocks in their career path, maybe I would have bought all of Tad’s records and just barely heard of Nirvana. In regards to Tad’s actual music, I have to say that the snippets that are present throughout the narrative sound pretty great. The engineering on the records is very solid, with great drum, guitar, vocal sounds and the tunes sound
interesting in general. A lot of the material seems to have a solid groove that is reminiscent of many legendary acts such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin and of course, some of their peers, such as Nirvana and Soundgarden. Also noted is Tad’s generally offbeat sense of humor which is evidenced in the album titles, God’s Balls and 8-Way Santa. And I can admit it; I now have the desire to listen to their records, certainly more so than before. If nothing else, I am sure that the persons who motivated the release of this documentary had hopes of encouraging sales of other types of Tad merchandise and so to that end, the dvd is a success. More importantly, it really is very entertaining and succeeds at telling an interesting and concise version of the formation and existence of this band and places them in a scene unlike any other in the history of music. The interviews from many important and influential figures from that era serve to justify and solidify the band’s relevance and participation in their scene, as well as amongst peer bands that were already merged with the psyche of the mainstream long ago. I still have about 8 more pages of notes that I could translate for you, but then there would be nothing left of the film for the brave soul who will hopefully be inspired by my ramblings to pick up a copy of, Busted Circuits and Ringing Ears, and I would hate to prevent even one more person from being exposed to the visual and aural assault of this oft-neglected group. – Nicholas Miller
The Sweet Lure of Fantasy Sports
Move over Dungeons and Dragons. Your dungeon masters no longer control the destinies of anyone, including their own. Dwarves, elves, goblins and ghouls are figments of the imagination and things of the past. Don’t worry, you can still keep the nymph porn. In case you haven’t heard there’s a new game in town that is going to prevent males from the ages of 10 and up from talking to, sharing common interests, or having intercourse with females. Fantasy sports are continuing their march from the underground and gaining more popularity by the day. They represent the perfect merger of sports, smarts, gambling, and killing time at work, a lethally addictive combination for all kinds of guys, just like in the Old Spice commercial. There is room for the ladies if they want in but, in my experience, that is generally not the case. That’s their loss. To make it simple, (I hope): Fantasy sports / leagues are based off the basic premise of an “owner” getting a set amount of points or scores based on the game performances of real life professional athletes who are on their team, otherwise referred to as their “players”. Owners belong to a league, and the points that their players score every week determine who is winning the league, in first place, second place, etc. In order to determine what players end up on what team, all of the owners in the league hold a “draft” before the beginning of the season. There are all sorts of different leagues, formats, ways of scoring, and statistical areas that players are measured in. Some folks play in leagues that take into account player salaries and make owners work under a salary cap. Some people play in “keeper” leagues, where drafted players are kept by their owners for the length of their career. Some leagues play for money, some for fun, but all play for bragging rights. I have been playing fantasy sports for four years and don’t even pretend to know a fraction of all the different ways to play. The most popular professional sports to play “fantasy” in are football, basketball and baseball, although there are leagues for golf and racing. These leagues are revolutionary in the sense that they give sports fans the opportunity to obsess about their favorite teams
and players on a whole new level. With many leagues taking place via use of the internet, owners can stay connected with their teams and each other across the globe. Message boards provide a large public forum for people to discuss trades, criticize the decision making of others, winners to talk “smack”, and losers to make excuses. Be assured, things can get serious. Personal attacks happen frequently and are often hilarious. One owner will question the honor or morality of another, and although the debate may stay on the high ground for a while, it usually will devolve into someone’s mother or sister being called a whore. The relative anonymity of the message board gives some people the confidence to say things they would not otherwise ever say. All is fair in love and fantasy sports, and things can turn cut throat quite quickly. Vendettas are common and the line between fantasy and real life gets obscured and trodden over by neurotic owners, taking things too seriously. However this degree of competition and passion is also what makes things fun. If you are unfamiliar with the fantasy landscape it may be hard to fathom, but believe me, it gets obsessive. I neglect my job to do fantasy research at work while listening to sports radio to stay appraised of the latest updates. I will watch two teams I hate play a game where the outcome means nothing to me if I have fantasy players participating in the game. This sort of behavior makes drafting an Oakland Raider cause nausea. That Dolphins/Giants game the NFL made the teams play in London this year was a travesty, but I watched it because I had guys playing. Sadly sometimes I will watch two horrible teams just to “scout” an opponent’s players. There is nothing more pathetic than watching the Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, or Los Angeles Clippers play basketball than watching them play just to track an opponent’s stats. The Knicks are both a real life and fantasy nightmare but I watch them anyway. I know statistics about back up players who rarely get in actual games and will even fret about the fact that they haven’t gotten their “big break.” Many a late night has been spent checking box scores from West Coast games that finish long after I should have been asleep. When an athlete gets injured, arrested, or misses a game be-
cause of a birth or death of a family member, it doesn’t matter to me because I care about their personal life, but I damn sure want to know because it is going to have an influence on the fantasy world. I don’t remember ever praying for a fantasy player, but it’s possible. The playoffs are coming up. This may sound like I have a problem. Like maybe I need help but don’t quite know how to ask for it. Like maybe this vicarious way of living out my own squashed athletic dreams and gambling hopes through a series of bizarre leagues created exclusively for that purpose might be a little unhealthy. Well if you think that, you would be wrong. Dead wrong. There are others like me, more than you might think and none of us need help. Just look at the world around you. “Fantasy reports” are popping up in newspapers and magazines of all different types and not just in the Sport pages. Fantasy links are all over the front page of many web browsers and many of them also serve as the hosts to leagues. Yahoo, ESPN, CBS, The Sporting News, all host leagues off of their sites and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Google fantasy sports and your search engine will have ten million hits faster than you can spell “Kaleem Azubuike.” (He’s a backup on the Golden State Warriors with great fantasy upside. He just needs a chance….) Recently, sports broadcasts have begun to show relevant fantasy statistics for players during the course of the game acknowledging that some people might be watching exclusively for that reason. Entire segments on pre-game shows are devoted to fantasy coverage and some networks broadcast entire shows on the subject. I don’t think ABC ever put statistics about warlocks on a national broadcast. Wizards are on the way out. Even Hollywood has paid homage to the fantasy community. In the movie “Knocked Up”, a suspicious wife follows her husband one night because she thinks he has routinely been lying to her about his whereabouts and that he was going to see another woman. It turns out that on this particular night, he was actually going to his fantasy baseball draft. She is less than impressed by the fact that he was able to, “draft Ichiro.” The movie does a good job showcasing that fantasy sports are generally not too good at improving male/female relations. Maybe that will change. There’s always next season. – Evan Bleier
THE POCKET GODS TIPS ON HOW TO SAVE THE PLANET… YAWN? more fossil fuels, buy bigger cars and keep on farting for the good of the world. Let’s keep on with this great rock-n-roll party callced, LIFE. I’m joking of course…
How do? It’s ok. We not wearing oversized dark glasses and we don’t speak with a lilting Irish brogue but we are here to share with you our tips on how to save this lovely little planet we call Earth. We could tell you in our imperiously posh blighty accents to stop driving your larger pick ups, recycle your trash and stop flying all over the world to farflung places but how much fun or how black would that be? None more black I hear you say… Anyway over here in the land where Nigel Tufnell has his own waxworks museum, cream teas and,“I’ve only had a few ales, Officer,” the weather’s apparently getting hotter and a new breed of eco-facists – scholled at Ye Olde Church of Al Gore – are trying to ban all our simple pleasures in life because we’re destroying the world through eating too mnay brussel sprouts and farting our way through the ozone layer. Pants is what we PG’s say! Every 28,000 years the Earth goes into an ice age. The last one was 28,000 years ago. DO THE MATH! Going into an ice age would be far more catastrophic for the survival of the human race than more global warming and a bit of sunburn on a Sunday afternoon in the beer garden. So we suggest that in order to counter the extremely nasty effects of an impedning ice age that we all go out and burn 58
Although we do think that this global village thing is great and empowering, we do also need to focus on our own local communities; to our villages, towns and cities. And for want of a better phrase, spread love (goddamn hippies) we need to respect each other, respect our world and respect Mother Nature more. ‘Tis really arrogant to think that we can “destroy” the earth. She will still be here long after we’ve ran our time. We can all use our common senses, our common goodness to achieve this. We don’t need eco-messiahs or pop star actor types preachin’ to us about how sin ridden our lives are. Just see the light. And we love each other, don’t we? PRACTICAL TIPS ON HOW MUSO TYPES CAN SAVE THE WORLD: 1. GUITARISTS: Carve your own plectrums out of Nicaraguan beeswax 2.Use new wind-powered amplification*
3.Ban all amps that go to 11 – make 7 the loudest 4.Make sure that the car that you drive into your new rock star swimming pool whilst under the influence of organic Fair Trade narcotics is a hybrid chiatsu ethynol nitrate zero emitting bird pooh hah model 5.Use and wear special fart recyclers while performing on stage – you not only save energy you also create a nicer rose-smelling atmos on stage and is particularly useful when you have veggies in the band (yes, Miss Moeke – that’s you!) *these only work in the Highlands of Scotland during a force 10 gale in February but ‘tis a pretty place to play. Anyway, we’re all off to the pub now for a spot of binge thinking. Thanks for having us. Don’t forget - SPREAD LOVE AND FROOTS!
The Pocket Gods XXX
Please note all information in this article is based on our own biased opinion and is not based in scientific noo nooness and we hope not to offend with reference to farts or Al Gore. If so, then sod ya!
EXTREME SPORTS: Duck Calling
When I think of duck calling, the scene looks like this - a bunch of guys with guns in camo gear out in the middle of a swamp, making funny noises hoping to call in a bunch of unsuspecting ducks to their decoys only to blow them up to smithereens once they fly in. However, when I looked into this unique sport, I found out that it’s not just about hunting but much more about conservation, getting back to nature and making new friends. In my hunt for information, I called up my old mate, Bob the Hunter, in Minnesota. Bob has been hunting for years. He goes out most weekends of the hunting season and has loads of decoys and stuffed duck trophies in his basement. Bob says that if you want to go calling ducks, first you need a “duck call;” a small tubular instrument fixed with a cork and a piece of rubber (I’m thinking somewhere along the lines of a saxophone reed or some kind of souped-up kazoo). Bob also informs me that there are thousands of different “duck calls” made out of all kinds of materials; plastic, wood and acrylic. The trick is to
find the call that’s right for you. Once you have a call, then it’s pretty much up to the individual as to how they go about calling the duck and it’s not just about making any old noise, you want to sound as much like a duck as you can. There are some basics involved in duck calling and I’ve included a few in the list below to get you started: 1.The basic Quack: A repetitive quack, quack, quack sound. 2.The Greeting Call: A series of 5-7 notes quacked in descending order, at a steady even rhythm by saying kanc, kanc, kanc, kanc, kanc, kanc, kanc. 3.The Feeding Call: Tikka, tikka, tikka, into the call, raising and lowering the tone slightly as you go. 4.Hail Call (used to call a duck in from the distance): Aaaaaink, Aaaaaink, Aaaaaink (taper off as you progress).
“If you’re doing it right, the ducks will come over
and see where the call is coming from,” says Bob, “but if you’re doing it wrong you may as well take the duck call and stick it right in your other end.” The first World Duck Calling Championship was held in Stuttgart, Arkansas in 1936 and there were 17 entrants. It was won by Thomas E. Welsh of Greenville, Mississippi who received a coat worth $6.60 for first prize. Nowadays at the “World Championships,” there are competitors representing 38 different states in a whole bunch of different categories with prize money over $15,000 and over 75,000 people expected to attend. A typical duck calling event might involve a stage, a panel of judges, exhibition stands for all kinds of outdoor sports, arts and crafts and commercial exhibits and a carnival for the kids. I spoke with Carl “the Duckman” Taylor, who has been in conservation for over 20 years and hosts the ‘Best of the West,’ duck calling championship in Utah in the lead up to the Stuttgart. “Duck calling is basically a 90 second routine for an individual to paint the picture of ducks flying out in the distance” says Taylor. “They come in closer, you build the excitement, they’re circling over head, you try to bring ‘em down. If they don’t like what you’re saying they move on again.” Taylor says as a duck caller you are judged on your ability to paint that picture to the judges. He also adds that people with musical abilities tend to excel at this sport. I wonder if I should trade my six-string for a duck call and go and try to make some real cash? Calling is a way of life for some out in the Midwest and on through Mississippi and Arkansas way. Taylor says you can walk down to the city park in any of those states and see old boys throwing down duck calls like there, “ain’t nothin’ else.” Contrary to what many may think, duck calling is not all about trying to lure ducks down to your decoys then mowing ‘em down when they get close enough. Many duck calling folk use it as a way of communicating with the birds and getting back to nature at the same time. Taylor adds that it’s also a great way to bring your awareness to conservation and good for getting the kids off the video games and out socializing and competing in the many junior events available at local, state and world level. “Some good friends are made around the duck calling arena and it’s a great way to get out there and meet people. It’s not all about kill, kill, kill. This is a good opportunity for a group of conservation minded people to get together and appreciate nature and a good way to extend on the hunting season.”
be better off chewing on the tennis shoe,” says Taylor, “but they got it all wrong.“ He tells me the best way to cook duck is to marinate it in a mixture of 30% Jack Daniels, 30% olive oil, 30% Worcestershire sauce. Then barbecue on high for 3 minutes a side until medium rare. “Melt in your mouth tender, outstanding, “ says Taylor. For more information on duck calling go to www. ducks.org For info on the Stuttgart World Duck Calling Championships in November checkout www.stuttgartarkansas.org. - Dean Massey
….And the best way to cook duck? ”People will tell you if you had the choice of duck or a tennis shoe you would 61
Dear Cthulhu, I’ve always believed in sex, drugs, and rock and roll. It’s kind of my religion and I try to get all three at the same time whenever I can. I consider myself a virgin, because I’ve never slept with a regular guy, only serious rock and rollers, singers who can fill a stadium or in a pinch the guys in the band. Except for that one time with that t-shirt guy, but he was an Elvis impersonator on the side. Since he told me he could channel the King and I was really high at the time, I’ve always counted that as the real thing. I go from one concert to another. I’m on the backstage list at every major venue and if I’m left off, the guys at the door let me in, figuring maybe I’ll sleep with them if they do. That will never happen. It’s not my fault they delude themselves and I don’t feel bad for taking advantage of them for it. Well, maybe sometimes I do and I flash them a little something to make them feel good about themselves. I’m really a people person at heart. Lately, I’ve been pretty exclusive with a rocker who was big back in my Mom’s day. Mom lives the same lifestyle I do. She got pregnant with me back when she was 13, but she was a good enough mother to make sure I didn’t have to start as late as she did to boff rock stars. It is a little embarrassing when people mistake us as sisters though. My rocker guy is huge and I don’t just mean famous. Not to mention rich. And the things he can do with his... let’s just say I’m a happy girl. And to top it all off he proposed marriage and the pre-nup gives me a million if anything happens. And I’ll only be his third wife. There’s just one problem. Back in the day my Mom knew him 47 62
in the biblical sense. Normally that wouldn’t be an issue. We’ve slept with a lot of the same rockers, sometimes right after each other or at the same time, but this is different. Mom claims he’s my father, but I think she’s just jealous because no rock gods ever proposed to her. The only way to know for sure is to have both of us tested, but I think that would kind of ruin the wedding plans. Is it okay to keep this from him? I’m not planning to have kids, so we wouldn’t have to worry about three eyed babies or anything. Besides, you should see the stretch marks Mom had from me. She had to get surgery to cut them away, but a side effect from the tightened skin is you really see the definition in her abs. I might have considered getting knocked up in order to trap him into marriage or get some major child support payments, but I don’t see the point of going through all that if I’m already married to the guy. I mean, what’s the point? Pregnant people look fat and fat girls don’t get rock gods. What should I do? -Rock and Roll Virgin in Raleigh Dear Rock, Humans have so many odd taboos—avoiding the eating of human flesh, not committing genocide and the like. Sleeping with your own father seems relatively minor compared to those, especially since he doesn’t know and was not the one who raised you. Who will be able to tell? After all, the lot of you look alike. Cthulhu does recommend you get the paternity test if for no other reason than that way you will know for sure. If can be done without his knowledge. Simply steal his tooth brush or ask for a lock of hair. He’ll think it’s a quaint romantic gesture. Personally, Cthulhu would ask for the entire scalp—they make excellent
coasters, even if the humans that grew the hair tend to object. However if you go through with the wedding, do not tell him if he did father you. Save that information for the divorce. Although his farewell gift in the pre-nuptial agreement is quite generous, Cthulhu believes you will find him much more generous if you threaten to reveal to the media that he married his own daughter. Have no qualms regarding accepting the money. Consider it a combination retroactive child support and early inheritance. Consider using some of it to have yourself neutered. Dear Cthulhu, I have a dream to be the greatest guitar player who ever lived. The one big thing standing in my way is I’m incredibly lazy and have no desire to practice. I’ve decided to approach things in a nontraditional manner. Back in the old days they say certain bluesmen met the devil at the crossroads and sold their souls in order to be able to play. I’ve hit every major crossroad in my neighborhood, drawn pentacles and lit candles, but nobody showed up to make me an offer, so now I’m turning to you. What can you offer me in exchanged for my soul? -Soul Man in Seattle Dear Soul, One measly soul is barely a snack and yours sounds like it is rather stunted. You want Cthulhu to give you something for that? Why would Cthulhu want to? If Cthulhu desired your puny soul, Cthulhu would simply suck it out of your mortal husk. And the reason the devil hasn’t shown up is he doesn’t like you or want your soul either, although he’s willing to consider it in exchange for granting you the ability to play the ukulele. You are not likely to receive a better offer for what you are offering. Have a Dark Day. Dear Cthulhu welcomes letters and questions at DearCthulhu@ yahoo.com or visit www.dearcthulhu.com. All letters become the property of Dear Cthulhu and may be used in future columns. Dear Cthulhu a work of fiction and satire and is © and ™ Patrick Thomas. All rights reserved. Any one foolish enough to follow the advice does so at their own peril.
Midwest Teen Sex Show is a comedic, semi-educational video podcast that acts like a PSA. Tackling sticky teen topics such as sex, parental communication and the horrors of the high school gym locker room, each podcast is articulate, educating and extremely real in subject manner. These three to five minute podcasts are hilarious, making topics like anal sex, well, approachable. Hosted by Nikol Hasler, Midwest Teen Sex Show (MTSS) features comedian Britney Barber and is produced and directed by Guy Clark. Since June 6, 2007, there have been 14 episodes. The show does not have a regular release schedule but since the show’s debut, it has been wildly popular and has been featured on CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. I also witnessed Hasler guest on The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet. Hasler ended up having the last word with Mike as he shifted through MTSS’ material quite uncomfortably. It was exciting to watch! - ed Dig This Real’s Jose Ho-Guanipa had a chance to speak with Hasler. Here’s what she had to say: Dig This Real: For those that don’t know, can you give a brief description of what the Midwest Teen Sex Show is? Nikol Hasler: Sadly, MTSS is not porn. It is a video podcast that is about 34 minutes per episode, which uses comedy to talk about the funniest subject of all: Teen Sex. Can you start off with telling us your role in the project? I am the host of the Midwest Teen Sex Show. My role, beyond co-creator and co writer is to be the so-called, “Straight Man.” Where did the idea to start the site come from? Beyond the creator and director of the show, Guy Clark is a bit of a genius. He saw that there was nothing like our show on the web and thought that the best podcasts out there combine humor with information.
What goal are you guys trying to achieve by putting out the podcast? Through all of the recent media heat we have gotten, it would be easy to try to slip into the role of people with a grand mission to improve the world for the children. Our goal from the very start has been to make a show that we would watch and that we would laugh at. We are trying to hold onto that without selling out by becoming “too educational.” What kind of topics do you cover on the show? So far we have covered everything from Anal Sex to talking to your parents/ kids about sex. Where do you guys get ideas for the topics? Crystal Sex Ball! We get the topics from what we remember having questions about and from the massive list of suggestions that teens and their parents send us. Were your parents open about sex and how did they educate you? I was in 15 different foster homes. I had a hugely varied sexual education. How would you go about teaching your kids about sex? My kids are 9, 7 and 18 months. The older two already know a bit about the mechanics of sex. The thing is, we are completely immersed in sexual images and ideas from the time we can look at an ad or watch television. Any of those instances give parents an open opportunity to discuss sex with their kids. Did you learn a lot about sex through the media growing up? Sure. Not as much as I learn about it now. There are a million websites out there just waiting for a curious pair of eyes and one typo in a url. My own ideas about sex that I picked up in the media were from movies. Do you think this influence was a good thing or a bad thing? To think about it now, I think I can say it was a bad thing. It could have been good, though, had I had a parental figure to discuss these topics of sex and instill healthier sexual ideals in me. What demographic(s) are you trying to reach with the show? Obviously, we are trying to reach a teen demographic. However, it can be harder for us to really say we have a target age range because
we are not targeting an age so much as a scope of people. Not every teen is going to be able to understand our sarcasm, just as many adults won’t. Our survey has shown us that the majority of our audience is over 18. Do you think the Midwest has a unique set of values regarding sex and if so, how do they differ from everyone else’s? Nope. Interestingly enough, we are finding that kids in California have the same questions as kids in Utah. Ohio, not so much. Ohio teens know everything about sex. What’s your take on abstinence education, Planned Parenthood and other more institutionalized forms of sex education? Abstinence Education is an oxymoron. Plus, it is like the White Castle of the Sex - Ed world. It may sound like a good idea, but you know it is just going to make a lot of people sick. Planned Parenthood has gotten a bad rap. Everyone thinks of it as a giant abortion factory. They are trying to become hip and I hope more people figure out that they are an excellent source of information and services. As far as comprehensive Sex - Ed, it is all messed up. Has Midwest Teen Sex Show affected your sex life in any way shape or form? Well, I am getting a lot more offers. Too bad they are from teen girls. How did you hook up with the other two co creators of the show? Awww, you took away my joke! Guy and I knew each other in high school. We put an ad on Craigslist for an actress who was willing to work for free in very little clothing. We had a lot of interesting replies, but Britney was the right combo of hot and funny. For the record, I would like to add that Britney is not my daughter, she is three years younger than I am. What future plans are there for the Midwest Teen Sex Show? Unless we get a sponsor soon we are going to have to turn the show into a running telethon for my scratch off lotto ticket habit. We are currently working on several side projects. Stay tuned for all sorts of media inundation of us in your living room. Wait, do you have a studio? Maybe we should do it in the kitchen. www.midwestteensexshow.com 63
HOOTERS magazine is totally all about the chicken wings. And the nice young ladies that serve you cold beer while you eat them. The copy that I had to look at was actually a 25th anniversary issue so it may have been somewhat off the norm, but for some reason I doubt the content of HOOTERS magazine varies all that much. After all, in the words of HOOTERS of America founder Robert H. Brooks (1936-2006): “Good food, cold beer and pretty girls never go out of style.” Apparently neither does a magazine about the three subjects. If you are looking for a magazine filled of top ten lists, all time greatest whatevers and lots of general information about NASCAR, cowboys and the overall disposition of the girls that work at HOOTERS then this is the magazine for you. Somehow they managed to fill up 160 pages with stuff that was probably purged out of the dumpster behind Maxim magazine. Or better yet, Stuff magazine. The first mildly funny section is a nod to Playboy magazine’s tradition of showing pictures of celebrities visiting the hallowed ground that is the Playboy Mansion. Alternately, HOOTERS has a feature showing “celebrities” posing with waitresses at local restaurant locations. Their clientele is not exactly A-list. Retired football players, minor league wrestlers and VH-1 reality show “stars” abound. I was very surprised not to see Dolph Lundgren, Stephen Baldwin or Tanya Harding involved in some way. The next section that caught my eye was the HOOTERS list of the top 25 sports athletes of the last 25 years, a list which was running in honor of the chain’s aforementioned anniversary. (It is worth mentioning at this time that I am 25 years old, and thus somewhat of an expert on this topic in addition to intrinsically being linked with HOOTERS for the rest of my days.) Although I did agree with many of the selections on the list, the thing that most stood out to be about it was the inclusion of a few “sports stars” who were most likely there for political correct reasons. To me, a “sports star” would be someone who, besides being one of the most dominant, well skilled, and well known athletes at their specific sport, would also be extremely recognizable and well known, both nationally and internationally. Michael Phelps (swimmer), Mia Hamm (futbol), Carl Lewis (track), and Steffi Graf (tennis), all struck me as odd selections to the top 25, picks that were looking to prove that HOOTERS was going out of their way to acknowledge all sports and female athletes, while really getting away from the point of their list and their magazine. None of these four could really be regarded as a bigger sports star than Dale Earnhardt, Charles Barkley, John Elway, Cal Ripken Jr., David Beckham, or even Pat Summit, and it would be my contention that they were included to make HOOTERS seem less “hootery” and class up the list a little bit. Too little, too late, in addition to being downright unnecessary. Anyone who is reading HOOTERS probably has some idea about what they are in for and I sincerely doubt that pretensions of class is one of those things, much less a concern. Anyone with a copy of HOOTERS magazine clearly has class up the ying-yang anyway. This is a total toilet reader with all the fix ‘ems. Still you have to like the fact that it’s not trying to be anything more than that. HOOTERS restaurants are not kept in business because of the success of the slightly trashy magazine that bears their name. The same grain of salt that accompanies the restaurant must also be taken along with the magazine.
We know they have food and beer, but we also know that the only thing putting asses in the seats is the boobs on the waitresses. Ditto for the magazine. There are (Five) 10 page HOOTER girl spreads over the course of 160 total pages. You do the math. It adds up, believe me. Also, without getting too far into it, the spreads even have some value besides the girls. The interview/questionnaire section has some real gems and makes the ladies from Playboy seem like fourth year Ivy leaguers. My personal favorite is one Hoostress saying that if she could have any super power, she would want the ability to predict the Down Jones (sic) stock market. That may have been a typo, but I am going to unleash some more nuggets just to prove my point. When asked what she most respected in a guy, another Hoots gal responded: “manners and respect.” I hope she gets both at work, but I have my doubts. Coincidentally enough the same girl stated that her favorite word in the entire language was the word, “ok.” (feel free to insert random joke here) I must say that I did enjoy reading about one girl’s dream job - to travel the world - teaching martial arts. Never would have guessed that in a million years, thus proving that the HOOTERS interview process is not only funny, but also informative. Some of this may have sounded like criticism but let me assure you, it is not. The very fact that HOOTERS even makes an attempt to put out a magazine and somehow has enough of a readership base to even remotely support the endeavor is encouraging as all hell. This is a company endorsed magazine whose only purpose is to shamelessly promote its own products to the more drunken and perverted members of society and it reads at about a 5th grade level, but it sells. That means that some lucky so and so is getting paid to write for that magazine. What could be more patriotic, satisfying and downright American than getting paid to write for a magazine about sports, chicken wings, beer and girls? White picket fences and apple pie got nothing on that. HOOTERS magazine can be purchased at your local Barnes & Noble or you can actually subscribe at www.hooters.com. - Evan Bleier
Special Literary Feature: The brilliant indy scribe, Leopold McGinnis interviews Lit-darling Clary Antome about her latest book… It’s funny meeting indie writer types. It’s not like they crawl out of the woodwork. In fact, indie writers are more like cockroaches - only too happy to hide under the coffee pots in the dingy cafeterias of our lives, listening to what people have to say, analyzing it and writing it all down for only themselves to read. But hang around enough roach hotels and you start to meet them, start to figure them out. Clary Antome is one such cool cockroach whose book, the damned cool Family Blog, landed in my lap in late 2007. Loving her book as I did, and sensing a sort of camaraderie I asked if she’d mind giving an interview so that the rest of the world might get a sneak peak at what interesting indie-writers like herself think of this amusing thing we call life.
Pretend I’m some yahoo on the street that finds out you’re a writer and I ask, ‘Oh! What’s your book about?’ like you could compress 333 pages of literary brilliance into a one-sentence summary. What do you say? Clary Antome: It’s a humorous saga of a slightly dysfunctional globetrotting family told in the form of blogs, so that each member presents his/her version of the facts -- and it’s up to the reader to decide who (if anybody) is telling the truth! Then I follow up with, ‘Oh, who published it?’ Well, officially I did. It’s a selfpublished book, which means that I basically hired a company (BookSurge) to format my manuscript into book form and print copies on demand. The nice thing about such publish-on-demand services is that they take anyone’s manuscript because the author is paying anyway. It’s like hiring a studio to record your first EP without the mediation (or financial support) of a record company - like the Buzzcocks did with Spiral Scratch way back in 1976. The bummer is that the whole thing is frowned upon by the literary/cultural establishment, which refers to selfpublishing as “vanity publishing”. I myself had lots of reservations about it before delving into the morass of mainstream literary publishing. After piles of rejections, I realized that the best (perhaps even only) way to get my book out into the wide world was to take matters into my own hands. Fortunately, this is rather 66
easy these days. In friendlier circles they call it “independent” or “underground” publishing. Here’s how I’d characterize Family Blog: The book follows the blogs of several family members who, going about their daily lives, stuck neck deep in their own neurosis and self love. Unbeknownst to everyone but the reader, each start blogs and write about what’s wrong with each other and in doing so air all the dirty laundry their family carries around. There’s a plot (or plots) in there, but they are pretty secondary to the character study and exploration of human self-indulgence which makes up the lion’s share of cynical humor this book offers. Would you agree or disagree with this characterization? Actually, your summary of Family Blog is way better than mine! I think the expression “character study” basically defines my intention. By letting each character talk for her/himself without the interference of a narrator, I hoped to give them an opportunity to reveal themselves as they “really” are, in all their contradictions. I am amused by the fact that we all carry our own version of reality in our heads and will defend it at all costs... even if it’s totally upside down! It reminds me of a play by Pirandello (which I suppose indirectly inspired me) called, “Right You Are If You Think You Are”, where you also have two characters telling totally contradictory versions of the same happening - to the point of
creating chaos. I thought it would be funny to explore this aspect of human deception/self-deception by concentrating on a whole family (with five members), since families are such a fertile ground for manipulation and misunderstandings. Add to this some everyday trouble (from boredom and unhappiness to sex, drugs, crime, war... the whole package) and you’re in for some comic situations. In my opinion indie writing is much more respectable than mainstream publishing, just as most music lovers might see the indie scene as more authentic and meaningful than the mainstream. But music is usually a public art – meant to be performed in public and often enjoyed in groups. Whereas writers, much like Lou in your book, are dark, depressing people who hole themselves up in their rooms working on art that people can only enjoy alone. Getting the book printed is easy, but getting it out there is 90% of the battle. I’m curious to know what you think of the promotions side of indie publishing and do you think that indie publishing now could herald the start of an indie publishing industry, ala the Buzzcocks? Indie publishing is quite a consolation, because at least it allows you to get your book printed, which until recently was a real problem (due to printing expenses). I do imagine a (near) future when indie publishing will be if not as essential, at least as widespread as indie music, in the sense that readers who are
looking for something different (whatever it is) will probably not bother with mainstream literature at all. Just like somebody who likes non-commercial, thoughtful or experimental films wouldn’t watch a Hollywood blockbuster. There are two aspects of the promotions side of indie publishing which seem important to me: 1) you can bypass the financial hurdles of the business (i.e., never mind the “sales”, what matters is that people are reading your book, for example by downloading it from your website), 2) because you aren’t bound to a contract or “market target,” you can take matters into your hands and promote your book whichever way you please, thus allowing for much more creative freedom and daring. For example, the negative reviews I added to my novel’s back cover (and website) would never have been possible with a mainstream publisher, who might worry that such trashing would give Family Blog a “bad image.” Which, of course, was one of my aims! So at least as an indie you can have your fun. On the other hand, I think that ANY type of promotion is difficult in a world where everything (and everyone) is for sale. Wherever you look, there’s bound to be some promotional campaign for the latest product, trend,
excitement, entertainment. Of course, those with the money, like mainstream publishers, get to put THEIR ads in the most visible places. So it’s an unequal battle from the beginning. Plus there are so many novels out there competing for the reader’s attention! This applies to mainstream as well as indie publishing. It is one of the ironies of such inspirational movements as the counterculture and the punks that their (common) motto “Do Your Thing” has actually prevailed to an extent that was unimaginable even 10 years ago. Now most of us CAN express ourselves, and we’re doing it! But who’s listening? I have no answer to that. Yeah, I think the real charm of Family Blog lies in the characters. The story is entertaining, but really it’s secondary and incidental. So, considering that indie publishing is such a hard slog - more work than writing the book itself - and considering the fact that most readers aren’t interested or aware of ‘outsider’ books (in a world with an already diminishing interest in literature and ‘serious’ literature) then why did you write this book? Why did you feel that this needed to be written. What does it have to contribute in a world flooded with books? The motives for writing this book were mainly selfish: I got to work out a lot of crazy thoughts piled up in my head, and it was a pleasant way to spend (some of) my time on this planet. My reasons for publishing it can probably be reduced to a terrible delusion I (and most writer wannabes) suffer from, namely that I have something “important” to communicate. But do I really? All I can say is that I tried hard to make a mockery of the conflicts, squalor and confusion that consti-
tute life in general -- not by creating an unbelievable, fantastic world, but rather by reflecting everyday events and common beliefs. It’s kind of like adopting the, “Alien Visitor,” point of view, one of my favorite games: you arrive on Planet Earth and see all these hectic apes running about, getting into all sorts of trouble, producing and consuming and piling up loads of junk, and coming up with often hilarious explanations (and expectations) for their actions. What a weird show! So in the end, I would seriously hope that Family Blog offers an amusing glimpse at the chaotic reality of human existence in this glorious new century. Particularly the difficulties we all have in making sense out of what happens to us and around us. Beats me if this interests anyone. But the book was written, so I thought I could just as well hurl it at the world. But why did YOU write this book? What was the impetus and inspiration? Why carry it through to the end? Why was it important to you? I suppose the main impetus for writing this book was that I felt pretty much overwhelmed by my own (grumpy and/or cynical) impressions -- and needed to articulate them. Which isn’t a particularly original state of mind. I could have just as well started a religion or ended up in a loony bin. But I’ve been a literary type for quite some time. I get tremendous pleasure out of reading/writing. It’s one of the few consolations I know. Most so-called entertainments bore me to death. The inspiration came from a blog I stumbled upon incidentally (even though at the time I knew very little about these things), written by a girl in her late teens, who basically complained about her parents, friends, problems with drugs and anorexia. It wasn’t particularly well written or interesting, but it gave me the idea: wouldn’t it be funny if, along with the girl’s blog, one could also read the online journals of the other people she mentions? It would provide a great panoptical impression, which we so often lack when we hear a single person telling us about an event. That was basically the trigger for Family Blog. So I created a bunch of characters with common past experiences and interdependencies as a family -- but also with great differences, especially concerning opinions and priorities. Once I started unraveling the story, I couldn’t really stop. I often didn’t know where the characters were going, but clearly there were tremendous dynamics between them. It was fun to watch them fight and disparage and cheat and con67
tradict each other. Plus I could use them to get across all kinds of strange ideas I would have never dared to speak out. In light of how quickly you wrote this novel, I’m curious how much research you did on this. To me, all the characters and settings and situations seemed very real. I figured a big chunk of it HAD to be pulled from your personal life. But I’m getting the impression now that it wasn’t. How much research did you do on this book? How did you know where you wanted these characters to go? Why Angola? Why Portugal? Of course the main themes of the novel could only have been based on my experiences, or those of people around me. That’s what distinguishes relevant literature from escapist entertainment. You have to talk about real life and obviously the life you (should) know best is your own. I myself know a few things about being a female in her twenties, growing up with TV, sex, drugs and stupefying pop culture, suffering from boredom, going to college, worrying about unemployment or the upcoming world wars. On the other hand, I think that good fiction has the job of transcending the particular to reveal the universal. This is usually where one needs some knowledge beyond everyday experiences. I did quite some research, in order to make the characters’ background more complex and credible. It required lots of reading and web surfing. But I’m a voracious reader, so I didn’t mind. I concentrated especially on what each character should represent and the story grew around that. Realistic or not, fiction works chiefly with paradigms or generalizations, and that’s exactly what the three sisters in Family Blog are: you have the cynical, misanthropic intellectual, the exemplary, conservative science geek and finally the promiscuous, adventurous druggie. Now all I needed was a hysterical mother and an alienated father to complete my cliché picture of a dysfunctional family. Having observed enough real-life situations (backed up by lots of reading), I conclude that families, whatever their particularities, tend to pretty much function in similar ways, example, with great degrees of fighting and lying. So once I had my characters formed, it was fairly easy to get them to interact according to these parameters! Portugal and Angola are themselves paradigmatic of colonialism and neo-colonialism, which constitute such an important chunk of the experience of our species. 68
Here in the North-Western hemisphere (Western Europe and North America), we’re so concerned with economic superpowers and “the axis of evil” and similar propaganda, that we often forget how interconnected this fucked-up world actually is. So I’m telling the story of two smaller players and their vital contribution to the global mess: Portugal initiated the whole overseas colonization/globalization process, as “king of the oceans” in the 15th century and Angola, for centuries a Portuguese colony, was one of the main providers of slaves for the Americas (plus it was a major proxy war zone during the Cold War and has valuable oil wells operated by the usual American/European giants). Our lives, whoever/wherever we are, have one way or the other been touched by these events. Above all, I wanted to write a global novel. Which is why my characters travel around so much, from Portugal and Angola to Eastern Europe, England, France, Holland, Spain, the USA, plus they meet all these other uprooted characters from Guatemala, India, Ghana, the Middle East. I am absolutely amazed by the amount of bouncing that humans are forced to engage in these days (as opposed to being born, living and dying on the same spot, which was common human experience until a few hundred years ago). It kind of amplifies the struggle for survival, because most of us remain strangers in a strange land throughout our lives, which is a great incentive for insecurity, socalled criminality, xenophobia, violence. This chaos of displaced and confused beings is another major theme of my novel and I suspect, of anything I may write in the future. Seeing as it’s not a plot based novel and that it just sort of spilled out of your mind, how did you know when you were done? Did you always have an end in mind, or did you just hit a point and went ‘you know what? it’s done.’ First of all, I have some reservations about the, “plot-based” concept of literature, since most novels I like are not concerned with such stuff. Take Kafka’s, The Castle, which is just about my favorite piece of literature: nothing much happens there, the protagonist goes round in circles (and frequently falls asleep) and the bloody novel doesn’t even have an ending! And yet, it’s packed with information about human interactions and conflicts, which is all I’m interested in. When I started writing Family Blog I had only a few of the conflict situations in mind,
so I didn’t really know how it would end. But halfway through this became an issue: not considering myself as brilliant as Kafka, I felt the need for closure, a (however temporary) conclusion for the characters’ conflicts. It took me some time to figure out where they would all end up. After months of working on the novel, my main concern was that it should be finished somehow, otherwise all my efforts would have been in vain! Did you have any difficulties writing this novel? Places you got stuck? Tough decisions you had to make? Major changes between drafts? If I showed you my first draft of the novel, you’d notice striking differences. I first spilled out lots of things that must have been unconsciously forming in my mind for a long time and then it took me a whole year of daily work to rewrite great chunks, add, eliminate, correct. I guess I was lucky in that the writing process was relatively easy. It’s probably the result of many previous failed attempts of writing a novel. I now believe that the most important aspect of any creative effort is waiting for the right idea (the “eureka!”) to pop up in your mind -- which might take years, if not decades. The three sisters were for me the most fun characters and they offered basically no obstacles. Interestingly enough, the most difficult character was Martin, the father, because he’s this techno-freak and talks about weird things like explosives and remote-controlled devices which required boring technical research. Another difficult character was the mother, Alda. She has this pretty important role of transmitting the historical background of the family by talking about her experiences in Angola during the colonial and civil wars. That’s a lot of information needing to be processed and put into a convincingly smooth discourse! My experience is that writing was almost like a game (and a wonderful occupation), but correcting was a bummer. On the one hand I had to cut out whole chunks that were not as interesting or informative as I had initially thought, and this was always a bit of a heartbreak (days of writing for nothing!). On the other hand, I had to re-read (and re-write) the bloody manuscript time and again to eliminate inaccuracies, repetitions and typos! As a result, I am now actually unable to read Family Blog from beginning to end, because the whole narrative is so familiar to me. I can enjoy bits and pieces, but never the whole novel. There’s an irony in it: I wrote Family Blog partially because it is the kind of novel I
would like to read, and now I can’t. You’ve mentioned a couple of times the idea of aliens watching our planet and what they must think about us. What DO you think they think about us? The question is: would aliens bother AT ALL to think about us? How many humans are concerned with the trials and tribulations of the ants? Of course this little game is only useful for our selfindulgent species to try to look at itself from the outside, using what I like to call “the zoom-out perspective.” This is what every great human mythology/religion has been doing from the earliest days of homo sapiens, showing us, again and again, that our conflicts and sufferings are merely part of a bigger picture we can’t even begin to grasp. I suppose the idealized aliens (like the gods before our science-fanatic age) can observe that big picture, whereas we are forever stuck to the silly and nerving minutiae! So if anything, they must have some jolly good laughs at our clumsy attempts to understand (and, even more hilariously, control) what’s going on. What do you think the fu-
ture of literature is, in this world of shrinking destinations, blogs and DIY publishing? Is it gonna get better for literature or worse? Do authors really have anything to add in a world where travel, slick-packaged entertainment, information and ideas are so readily and cheaply available? I can imagine that the Internet will be the predominant form of spreading and consuming thoughts/entertainments, as it is already happening quite successfully with music. So some kind of electronic literature, a mix of fiction and reality, will probably develop along those lines, using blogs and whatever other strange innovations. Much of it will be DIY, so that’s kind of nice even if nobody in their right minds can expect to make a living this way. It will still be quite tough to get other people interested in your ideas, but that’s part of the game! The great thing about the Internet is that it enhances our chances of finding niches where our weird ideas can prosper. Books themselves are becoming increasingly passé. I have just read that more than 50 percent of Americans have not opened a single book in the past year. So even bestsellers are an expression of a minority of humans. The more “literary” type of fiction (as opposed to escapism) has even more difficulties. Such books, including the great classics, may soon be nothing more than an antiquated artifact, only consumed by those who: 1) want to distinguish themselves from the totally wired masses and 2) actually value the unique experience of engaging in a private (and complex) dialogue with an author. I see myself as fitting both categories. Surely there must be a couple more souls in this world who agree with me. If not, there are always the aliens.
you’d like to say about this novel, things you’d like to talk about, stuff I missed? Well, we’ve unraveled so much information that in the process a simple idea may have got lost: Family Blog is, above all, supposed to make you laugh -at all of us. I firmly believe in the elevating qualities of humor. Turning private tragedies into a universal comedy is, to me, the greatest thing literature has to offer. Are you working on anything else? Will we be seeing anything new from you? What? When? I am now collecting and processing ideas for another satirical/global/apocalyptic novel entitled “The Adventures of Henry Pottle in Spooky Reality.” But I can’t tell how long it will take me to actually wrap it up. Most of my efforts at the moment concern the promotion of Family Blog (a truly ungrateful task). Apart from this, I am also writing short stories, which are being posted on my website. I would eventually like to publish them in book form. Finally, a word of wisdom: writing is very nice, really, but staring at the wall and wondering “what’s the point of it all?” can be just as fulfilling. I’m trying to dedicate more time to this exercise. Haha! Great title for a book! I look forward to reading it, should it ever come to fruition. I agree one hundred percent on your final thought, however for my own vested interests, I hope you are unsuccessful! About the Interviewer: Leopold McGinnis is a guy who wrote some stuff. He wrote The Red Fez, Game Quest and Bad Attitude and is a founding member of The Guild of Outsider Writers and the founding editor of Red Fez (www.redfez.net). Aliens find his work mediocre, but enjoy the illustrations he does for his interviews with actually talented authors. About the Interviewee: Clary Antome can be found at www.literature-for-aliens. net or myspace.com/clary_antome. A young Southern-European female, Antome has been bouncing between University with trying to indefinitely prolong her studies. She can more or less clandestinely indulge in her favorite activities which includes, sleeping, mooching, reading, thinking and writing. She is currently working on two upcoming titles; The Adventures of Henry Pottle in Spooky Reality and Rerun. 69
BACHELOR PARTY CONFIDENTIAL
A REAL-LIFE PEEK BEHIND THE CLOSED – DOOR TRADITION By DAVID BOYER (Simon Spotlight Entertainment) Memories can be exaggerated, distorted and recalled one hundred ways. This is one. We descended the narrow darkly lit stairwell one by one. I was the last in the row of a cadre of brothers in arms with a single purpose. We are alpha males in a special fraternity. Sworn to secrecy under threat of death and exposure to the real world, we could not and shall not betray our brothers. The noises below grew louder every step of the way. A large man with an acne-scared face, wearing a bad suit, his silk white shirt open to expose a tuft of curly chest hair, ogled us and asked for identification and monetary tribute. As the last soldier, I was stopped at the gate and asked again for a second identification. With his mini flashlight, he stared at the grainy picture and back at me for some time. He rolled the light over my face, blinding me momentarily. Reluctantly, he shoved me into the crowd with a growl and a sneer. As my eyes adjusted to the dimly lit arena, my friends grabbed my arm and blended seamlessly into the already assembled rabble. The semicircular stage had a worn red shag rug and a multicolored light grid. In the center of the floor stood upright a single brass pole stained with greasy fingerprints. Visible were remnants of glitter and glossy lipstick. Grabbing the nearest seat, I tried my best to blend into the frenzy of outstretched hands clutching dollar bills waiting patiently for a glimpse of the Golden Fleece. The place smelled of beer, sweat and sex. The combination
made my heart beat faster and my dick hard. “The Pussy Ranch presents the finest and truly natural full figured all nude ladies on the East Coast. Gentlemen give a rousing welcome for the Pussy Ranch ladies.” The crowd went wild. The dollar bills flew onto the stage. They found their way into the cracks and crevices of female finery. We wished to be dollar bills. We wished to be close enough to smell the perfume of naked flesh. We even got to place our fingers close to the forbidden zone under the scrutiny of the bouncers. Touching was not allowed. Only the ladies could reach out. They teased, watched and giggled like teenagers. They know. They have the power. As the designated leader, I coaxed the cutest most well endowed lady to whisper sweet nothings to the single brother giving up his freedom to holy matrimony and willing to feel the wrath of his fiancé for a quick feel and the promise of a VIP lounge visit. That was my first bachelor party. No names please… A bachelor party is a male ritual shrouded in mystery and American as apple pie. We all remember the Tom Hanks movie, “Bachelor Party” and vowed to best it. (I don’t approve of animals at a bachelor party but whatever floats your boat.) Bachelor Party Confidential – A Real Life Peek behind the Closed- Door Tradition by David Boyer is a gay man’s point of view of the oldest tradition of male bonding and ritual in the world. Before you judge too harshly, Boyer’s observations, interviews and participation is unbiased and non - judgmental. He paints a clear picture of the antics both legal and borderline illegal in the celebration of a man’s last day’s of freedom from the ball and chain of marriage. He tells the traditional stories of strip clubs and drunken orgies with interviews from proud Best Men. The guilty have changed their names to protect the innocent and shield their own guilt. He entertains the reader with the journey of reluctant grooms, out of control dads
on both sides, and the occasional arrests ending with perfunctory blow jobs in the back room. “Happy Endings” are reserved for the movies and bad dramas. “What goes on in Vegas must stay in Vegas”, accords to the author. You don’t want to repeat these tails to the Brides –to- be or sometimes to the Groom the next day. The Maids of Honor and the Bridesmaids are not always that honorable either. Bachelor and Bachelorette parties held in Las Vegas have become the rage and extremely dangerous to the strongest relationships. “When people come to Vegas they become like a different person. They’re fucked up and living the celebrity rock-star life.” A standard bachelor party in Vegas can cost three to six thousand dollars per person. Boyer describes other scenarios that range from all night card games, paint ball parties and even a Born Again party. He delivers the insiders scoop to the new entrepreneurs who have made barrels of money from the business of Bachelor Parties. Exhaustive interviews with stretch limo drivers, expensive party planners, pimps and purveyors of sexual favors gives the reader a glimpse into a ritual only spoken in hushed tones. I encourage all to contribute to his web site and share your party story at www.bachelorparties.org. Now that I’ve teased you, I leave you with this - according to the stripper June T., “The ones who try to slip their hand right to the edge of your G-string or the bottom of your breast are the ones with the wedding ring on.” Brides-to-be don’t despair. Gentlemen, let’s get ready to rumble. – Mike Stone
by Leopold McGinnis Under Ground Uprising Press It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Leopold McGinnis. So why should he and Clary have all the fun talking literary stuff? I want to talk about McGinnis’ offering, called Bad Attitude. I find that all of McGinnis’ books are set up in certain structures. What I mean by this is, one of his treasures, The Red Fez can easily be melded into a one-person off-Broadway play. Here, with Bad Attitude, I find that this book should be used as a sort of operations manual or handbook for women that want to keep up with today’s technology and appear knowledgeable and confident when purchasing these gadgets. Similar to those experiences we women have when our cars break down, we usually send our toasted wheels, along with our boyfriends or better yet brothers, to the mechanic because, well, we gals just don’t speak the lingo. But why Bad Attitude into a how-to manual? Because I read it and then instantly used stuff from this 104-page short read to negotiate my latest tech purchase. One, that I did without the help of my assistant, accountant or brother. Welcome to the world of widgets! McGinnis has outdone himself again by penning an edgy, disgruntled employee’s “diary,” that emulates a fantasy free fall for every working person’s wet dream – the dream to just walk the fuck out of there. The book’s hero, Jesse, survives his crappy minimum wage gig at the Electronics Pit working in customer service, on the floor of this widget-mart or the cash register. Or sometimes we find him in the employee “back” room, scribbling away in his pad about the horribly small hoops he needs to jump through, in order to get through another day working for the man (in this case, the dickhead supervisor that we oh-so can relate to Tom Davis). As Jesse drudges day to day with inexperienced trainees and back-stabbing micro managers, on the battle field he does have some allies. There’s Mark (who partners with Jesse in unofficial competition for best sales achievement, like selling the ‘worst widget to the person who deserves/wants it’) and till worker Shelia, a student who is studying history. Jesse’s work existence only perks up when he is introduced by Mark to, ‘The Futura.’ Stumbling upon the mother-load of self-absorbing products, the two workers dub this home entertainment system, “The Golden Calf,” and set out to sell it in yet, another one of their ‘competitions.’ I found Bad Attitude an anarchist handbook of sorts. It can be helpful for the weak when it comes to purchasing all things electronic since it gives an outsider an inside que to how sales people work. I also found this book wildly engaging as it spins the tale of the disgruntled employee. Oh, and by the way, I wrote this book review on a new laptop computer that I purchased at a nameless electronic store and when I was offered all the warranties, I knew exactly what to do. Bad Attitude is out now. www.redfez.net - edie 71
Peanut Butter, need I say more? As a matter of fact, Yes. Peanut Butter “Loco.” That’s right folks, just when you thought your favorite sandwich spreader couldn’t get any better, along come three, thirty-something, former lawyers from the Midwest who take P.B. to a whole new level. Ken Hall, Jodene Jensen and Keri Barney loved peanut butter so much they decided to open up a peanut butter café and not only that, they decided to mix classic peanut butter with a bunch of their other favorite flavors, the result being quite interesting indeed. Mess with peanut butter you say? I know. Myself being a P.B. Playa from way back I thought the same thing. How can you possibly change something that is perfectly fine just the way it is and has been for years? Well, the gang at “P.B. Loco” have and when they sent me five of their new improved peanut butter flavors to sample, I was more than happy to oblige. I first grabbed the jar of P.B. Loco’s version of original peanut butter called, “Classic Crunch.” There’s a picture on the label of a piece of bread with some P.B. smeared over it (that on its own is enough to get me in the mood). I unscrewed the lid and before I threw down, I paused and examined the shiny coat. Not too oily, not too dry, nice. I can already see the chunks of peanut looking back at me (another good sign when it comes to chunk style). I then spooned a load into my mouth. Mmmm…smooth, creamy, chunky, not too sweet or salty, better than just right. Loco’s, “Classic” is a winner and spreads easy on toast or crackers like a rocky road of chunky, chunky, chunky peanut butter love. I moved onto something a little more daring. Smooth P.B. blended with sundried tomato. If you’re a savory lover this
one is the Shiz Nit. The peanut butter blend is right on and the tiny chunks of tomato give it a nice little zip. Savory and sweet at the same time with a tomato twang, perfect on crusty bread or for spicing up your celery and carrot party sticks. I tried not to get too carried away and after a few more slathers of sundried tomato I move on to the next flavor, something right up my alley. Peanut butter blended with white chocolate and raspberries. Not just any old white chocolate but chunks of white, GERMAN chocolate and raspberries from Switzerland. I can’t see the Swiss raspberries but the label says they’re in there and when I give it the spoon test the chocolate and P.B. melt nicely over my taste buds. Just when you think that’s the end of it, the raspberry flavor eases on through and all of a sudden - I’m lying naked on a lush green hillside in Switzerland being spoon fed by Julie Andrews and the hills are alive with the taste of raspberries. Subtly sweet and again savory at the same time and perfect for toast, graham crackers or by the spoonful in front of the TV. Thank you, P.B. Loco, a true feat of peanut butter excellence. Next up was, European Café Mocha. Peanut chunks, German milk chocolate and a hint of coffee, the taste? Sweet, sweet heaven, a nice one for coffee lovers, chocolate fiends and peanut butter lovers alike and the perfect accompaniment to a good old latte or whacked onto a banana for brunch. Speaking of peanut butter and banan-
as, here’s a recipe using P.B. loco that my chef buddy, “Crazy Ads” came up with: Ingredients: - 2 slices of Brioche (or any kind of rich, buttery bread) - 1 banana sliced. - P.B. Loco European Café’ Mocha or Raspberry White Chocolate (as much as you like) - Vanilla ice cream (as much as you like) - Handful of candy “Whoppers” (broken up into chunks) Make a sandwich with the bread and banana slices. Panfry until golden brown and serve hot with P.B., ice cream and the chunks of Whoppers. Now for the final flavor, “Asian Curry Spice.” Already deciding that I’m in love with P.B. Loco, I was a bit intrigued with this one. Its a smooth blend of P.B. with a yellow curry tinge, nicely spiced and sweet, not just a great way to spice up your sandwiches but the perfect ‘straight out of the jar,’ addition to your Satay skewers or as used in “Melissa’s Curry Spice Rice,” recipe from the P.B. Loco website, www.pbloco.com. P.B. Loco, for me, is a definite HIT. Not only do they use the freshest and finest products but they have zero grams of trans fat, are cholesterol free and are an awesome reinvention of something that was already pretty darn good on its own. Move over Starbucks, P.B. Loco also has a handful of P.B. Loco Café’s where you can order one of their mouthwatering creations. Check for locations at their site. P.B Loco can also be purchased at these selected locations: Balducci’s, Kroger supermarkets and Chief Central in Paramus, New Jersey, www.chefcentral.com - Dean Massey
The Crafty Way to Make Some Extra Cash Is your creative genius dying to come out, but you don’t have the time to devote to a full-blown home or web business? Then craft fairs could be a profitable alternative for you. Most local fairs are inexpensive and relatively easy to get into. My tips below will get you through your first (and future) craft shows like a pro! Finding the Perfect Show: The worldwide web is an amazing tool when trying to find a craft fair in your area. You can simply Google “Craft Fairs + (whatever state you may be in)” and a whole boatload of results pop up. While it takes a little time to get through the list, not jumping into the first show you find has proven to be successful for me. Another idea: keep an eye on your local newspapers, churches, schools and supermarkets for advertisements, especially in the spring and fall months. Once you find the one you like, getting in is as simple as calling for info, filling out a vendor contract (most of the time all you need is a Social Security # to apply) and paying the table/entrance fee. This fee can be anywhere from $15 to $50 to over $200 depending on the venue, so try getting your feet wet with a small show first, so you don’t look like such a newbie at a big, established event. Event Supplies: Most event spaces are 8 or 10 feet square, so you’ll need some stuff to fill it! At the top of the list are tables. If you’re lucky enough to get into a show that provides tables (I’ve only had the pleasure once), then great! But most shows require you to bring your own folding tables and chair. Just be sure you know your space size before you lug them there and find they won’t fit they way you want. Tents: If you are planning to participate in an outdoor event, I cannot stress the importance of some
kind of shelter. I primarily sell paper goods and watercolor art and being caught in a rainstorm with no cover would destroy my stock. Trust me, even the sunniest forecast can change in a second and it would ruin your day to be stuck. If you don’t want to splurge for a tent (EZ-Up is the most popular, around $180), do yourself a favor and hit the Home Depot for a pack of clear plastic drop cloths. They’re lightweight, cheap and will save you in an emergency. When the rain starts, just spread them over your tables and because they’re clear, those dedicated customers who are shopping in the rain can still see your merchandise underneath. Other basic supplies to have on hand: a notepad, pens, cash box with plenty of singles, fives and change, scotch tape and oh yeah, your inventory! Pricing Your Wares Nothing irks me more than fellow crafters underselling themselves. Your time is worth something, dammit! Factor how long it takes you to make your item, the cost of your supplies and your packaging/ printing fees. Handmade does not mean cheap. When people buy handmade items, they’re buying your creative ingenuity and not being able to find a similar item in WalMart or Target gives your item exclusivity. Your precious time is invested in every item you make and if you are not figuring these things into the cost of your products, I can guarantee you are selling yourself short. You’re at the Show, Now What? Bringing some crafty work with you is a good way to keep busy during the day. People enjoy watching things being made and it presents an authentic, personal touch. It also creates a much more relaxed environment for the customer if you’re not just sitting there, staring them down while they shop. It’s in a relaxed and comfortable environment that your shoppers will linger
longer and look around. The longer they look, the more likely they are to buy something. Which brings me to another very important point, make sure your items are priced clearly! Customers hate to ask the price of something once, let alone twice, so be sure your prices are visible, whether it’s a menu-type sign or individual signs or even stickers on the backs or bottoms of your items (just make sure the stickers are removable, and that they don’t damage your goods when they’re peeled off). Promotional Stuff: Always bring tons of business cards! Even if you’re not an established business, you can print out your own cards pretty simply on any home or office printer. Customers like knowing where their purchases came from and they’re especially handy to have if they want to come back for more. Just list the info you want them to know, like your name, email address, maybe a phone number or blog address, it’s up to you. Just offering them as a way to contact you makes you appear legit and responsible for what you’re making. How Much Do I Bring? People always wonder how much inventory they should bring to a show and as a general rule, I always like to have too much on hand, then to sell out and still have stock sitting at home. You shouldn’t mind having to carry a bit extra if it means your wallet might be heavier at the end of the day. And remember: keep your table neat and orderly! Just because you bring it all doesn’t mean you have to display it all. Put a few of each item out and keep restocking. It’ll keep you organized, and looking busy! -Alison Kooney, Owner, AJK Artistry (www.ajkartistry.com www.ajkartistry.etsy.com)
Buick Audra has a name for fame. With such a memorable moniker, it would only make sense that she is not only a fashion designer but a musician as well, running her own record label on the side. Designing outfits for fellow musicians as well as others, Audra uses her multiple art-forms to express herself and has fun doing it. Audra attended Massachusetts College of Art, studying Fiber Arts and somehow shifted her focus towards fashion, though it was not what she was sure she’d end up doing. As the music and designing swept her up in their exciting colors and sounds, she wound up creating vibrant outfits for singers and bands that she also admires and enjoys. Up to this point, she has designed clothing for Joss Stone, Alison Krauss, The Explosion and members of Guns n’ Roses. Audra’s styles and color choices are custom made for her clients and generally come from her own inspirations from their music. “I absolutely immerse myself in the music of anyone I am designing for, through the entire process... From sketches to the last hook and bar,” Audra expresses. She finds that she can only work when she is in a positive state and able to turn one person’s form of art into her own, so they can wear it to whichever special event they need it for. First and foremost a musician, Audra says that music inspires her clothes and the clothing also aids in inspiring
the music. Both art forms bleed into each other in one way or another. “When I am sewing, I often get my best ideas for songs. My hands do the work, and my mind roams. It’s very meditative to sew, most of the time, so I do think that the two things have found a nice harmony within me.” The clothing comes from a place that is rooted in music, and Audra’s favorite part of the process is translating a song, or musical moment into an article that can be worn. Modeling her use of color after her favorite designer, Gianni Versace, Audra’s designs are bright and stylish, always suiting for the client she has designed for. She also uses her Miami roots to get in touch with her wild and natural side. Sewing and dying the fabric she works with to suit the artists, Audra gives them a young and hip style along with a general classiness. Grammy Nominee, British chanteuse, Joss Stone has worn many of Audra’s fun outfits and each dress looks extremely comfortable. As she mentioned, Audra’s styles blend together both musically and design-wise. Her music is also tasteful and classy, with a gentle lulling to it. In the last couple years, she has shifted gear, working more so on her music than fashion; an artist can never know where their inspiration will take them, and right now, Audra’s is in her
music. Her most recent musical endeavor was the 2008 release of Singer, her second full-length as a solo performer. Before she released albums on her own, she was in the band 33 Slade, which she played in with her brothers. All the albums were released on her own label, Trimming The Shield, which she started with her brothers to put out their albums. Right now Audra is focusing on Singer and touring in support of it, but not in any old fashion. She is touring prisons and performing for inmates, something that she feels very happy doing. She will continue to design for her regular clients and new ones and is also starting a line with one of them. It looks like Buick Audra has a lot on her plate right now and is enjoying every second of it. It would probably make sense to keep one’s eyes and ears open for Buick Audra because it seems that she still has a lot more to offer as her art continues. -Lauren Piper 75
THE GEM OF WILLIAMSBURG The phone rings and Caroline Glemann answers. You can hear her informing and advising someone on the telephone. In the meantime, her partner, Michael Fitzgerald, a native from Ireland, is busy planning on his computer. Glemann, who is self taught, now teaches the talented ways of jewelry making in Brooklyn and Woodstock, New York. Fitzgerald graduated from The National College of Design and Art in Dublin, Ireland. Both artisans operated their own separate studios in Dumbo, Brooklyn. I asked them both how they got started and Glemann frankly answered, â€œWe were broke. We needed to pay the rent.â€? I always say that necessity is the mother of invention and today, you will find both Glemann and Fitzgerald very successful owners of Studio 174 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Studio 174 is a jewelry design studio and classroom founded in 2000. Glemann and Fitzgerald converted the original space from an old button factory to this thriving, wonderful studio. This studio features a collection of handcrafted jewelry for sale and there is something for everyone. One can find jewelry that is either one of a kind, commissioned works, classical wedding or engagement rings. At Studio 174 an artisan is provided a direct channel with the jewelry market. It allows the consumer to communicate with the artisan through the many phases of jewelry making, like understanding the raw materials, making the jewels or beholding the finish product. Classes at Studio 174 include sawing, filing, polishing, soldering, bezel stone setting, acid etching and more. You can attend beginners or intermediate classes. All classes are conveniently small, enabling everyone to absorb all the information and guidance in crafting jewelry. Jewelry making is a great skill to learn and a wonderful trait to use as self-expression. And not only can you can make jewelry for yourself, you might be able to sell for a pretty penny as well! Many students from Studio 174 not only enjoy making jewelry but have also grown into independent small business owners. Stop by the website wwww.studio174.com and choose your class. Everyone is welcomed to visit and shop by appointment. Studio 174 174 N. 11th St - Williamsburg, Brooklyn - New York email@example.com 718-218-7735 - Miles Beltran Miles Beltran is the CEO of Artistas Media, based in New York City. Artistas Media is a multi-faceted company that helps clients express new ideas using fresh energy to help convey solid PR, marketing and branding campaigns. Let Artistas Media better your business. Visit their website at http://artistasmedia.media.officelive.com/
While Mrs. Carla Bruni-Sarkozy cleverly wove classic poetry into the songs on her latest release, No Promises (see Regular Reviews in this issue), something just as strange was happening in the US, mainly at the New, New Celtic Hotel. Sometimes-zine contributor, Malcolm Y. Knotte submitted poetry for DTR’s Poetry Corner. What’s even more unexpected is the actual poems’ subject matter…more animals, mainly, my three cats. Malcolm was not inspired by Ms. Bruni’s work. - ed
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The puppeteer is about to ride off into the black cave from whence he came. Dick Cheney’s reign of terror over the United States of America is almost over, but the damage has been done. George W. has an extremely bad headache from having Cheney’s hand wrapped around his brain for the better part of eight years and the area where the hand entered is also probably quite sore as well. We have all felt the sting of the decisions made by the administration those two were heading up and the mess they have made is far from clean. Poop and pain both trickle downhill at varying rates. The economy is in shambles. The war on terror, Iraq and whoever else, is still progressing at an alarmingly inefficient and ineffective pace, with public support not being one of the effort’s strong points. Congress spends its time investigating the nation’s professional sports leagues for instances of cheating and steroid use because those are really the important issues that they should be focusing on. Things appear bleak and the outcome dim. Evil that had previously been lurking in the hearts of men has risen to the surface to manifest itself in angry blogs, nasty exchange rates and gas prices that make bikers giggle like school girls on gin. Fear not brave souls; CHANGE is on the way. The race is on for the next President of the United States and the winner is assured of being the first in some category or another. Barack Obama would be the first African-American president. Hillary Clinton would be the first woman. John McCain would be the oldest elected president in history. So they would all be some sort of CHANGE. Too much of this election has been focused on the winner representing some sort of CHANGE than actually being one. At this point it doesn’t really matter if the President is purple or has gills. A CHANGE has got to come and it is going to, in one form or another. The question is: what will people do with it? Is this election about the U.S. having a new direction and a new face leading us there, or is it more of the same American Idol novelty act men
tality that got us to this place to begin with? If we vote for a CHANGE, are we doing it as an act of commitment or as a way of making ourselves feel better for not CHANGING the things we do in our individual lives? Voting for Obama does not make it okay for me to say NIGGER. It would not eliminate the current or historical racial divide in this country. Voting for Clinton does not give me the right to say CUNT. My vote would not get rid of the inequality between sexes in the U.S. Voting for McCain is no excuse for me to make fun of old people for SHITTING themselves. It does not get me into the old boy’s club and would in no way assure a victory overseas. Voting for any of the three should not give me the assurance that I can pat myself on the back and say, “well, now you’ve done your share.” You get the point. The people of this country have been sitting on the throne far too long and the toilet paper has run out. We were far too interested in reading our Variety or Sports Illustrated or the latest Harry Potter novel to notice that we needed to get a new roll of toilet paper. As a result, we are shit out of luck. Collectively stuck on the toilet and facing some tough decisions (not as bad as that lady from Kansas whose skin literally grew around the bowl back in March, but close). We are counting on whoever wins the upcoming election to be that new toilet paper. To come in, save the day and clean up the mess that we have made. Well maybe they will be able to do it and maybe not. There are a few things that could be done to give them (and us) a better chance of success. Turn off that reality TV. Put down the Big Mac. Don’t buy things at Wal-Mart unless it is an absolute necessity. If you can walk somewhere you should do it. Talk to someone in person instead of via email or over your Bluetooth cellular telephone head set. Be kind to a stranger and expect nothing in return. Don’t be a dick. Don’t let Dick Cheney near your ass. In the words of Mad Rapper (www.notarapper.com): “Not a sports page. Not a magazine. Read a book. A fucking book.” Now to navigate away from a grumpy drunk’s words of advice that he probably won’t even listen to himself and get back to some semblance of a point……. It’s great that people care about politics again. It is nice to hear political discussions ringing in bars, coffeehouses, tanning salons and brothels across the country. Things have deteriorated to such a point socially, economically and culturally, that even the most avid anarchist has to have a little part of them that cares about what is going on in the political realm. Does anyone know why American Gladiators is back on TV? I love him, but does Snoop Dogg really need a reality show? When did the snack wrap get so powerful? Why does George W. now mispronounce nuclear on purpose? Who is losing sleep about Britney/Hilton/Lohouse? How long can one Country simultaneously fight a war on drugs, Iraq, communism, Iran, immigration, illegal taping of football games, prostitution-Spitzer, global warming and claim to be winning when all of those issues are clearly evident on most shows on MTV? One candidate is not going to be able to answer all of these questions or resolve all of these issues. Whoever does end up winning will only be one person. It is going to take the support and the work of a nation worth of people to really get down to the nitty-gritty and start working on all that has gone wrong in the past decade or so. CHANGE starts with you, me and the November’s upcoming vote. Any vote is a vote for change. Let’s get this puppet show out of town and some soft, quilted paper up on the rack. Everyone from the President on down has to think of ways to help clean up this mess. - Evan Bleier 80
Somewhere in the middle of America dwells Blue Gene Mapother, a mullet-headed patriot who staunchly supports the American war effort without question. Besides his patriotism, little enlivens Blue Gene except for pro wrestling, cigarettes, and any instance in which he thinks his masculinity is at stake. Nothing out of the ordinary there – except that he also happens to hail from the eleventh wealthiest family in the country. Long estranged from the rest of the Mapothers, Blue Gene is called back into the fold after his mother, a fanatical Christian socialite, has a dream in which she sees his older brother, the handsome but anxious John Hurstbourne Mapother, becoming an apocalyptic world savior – or, in this case, a United States congressman. Asked to add a little common-man credibility to his brother’s campaign, Blue Gene is happy to help – that is, until a charming, politicallysavvy, punk-rock girl encourages him to really ponder, for the first time in his life, why his family’s interests don’t always line up with his own.
Latest release by Joey Goebel, author of The Anomalies and Torture the Artist. MacAdam/Cage books
Every now and then, a messiah of sorts enters the mainstream, quick like silver, and with something fresh on his fingertips for all to hear or sway their hips to. While attempting to give the complacent and commonplace music genre known as today’s pop a well deserved shot in the arm (a tough job you may say), Shane Speal, Sr. is ready. Speal is that new messiah and he is often found feverishly working on the resurrection of the art of making and playing Cigar Box Guitars. “I started to get into old blues music when I was in college,” he said. “When people become enraptured by the blues, they sometimes acquire a time-travel addiction to the music. You first listen to Jimi Hendrix, then go backward to discover Muddy Waters, then Robert Johnson until you’re at the real gritty old Delta Blues stuff. Once I hit the oldest of the Delta Blues, I started looking for something even deeper. It was then that I came across stories of the old bluesmen who started out on homemade cigar box guitars because they couldn’t afford anything else. This struck a nerve in me that I couldn’t ignore. I made my first 3-string cigar box guitar on July 4, 1993 and it was the perfect DEEP instrument for me to get lost with. I haven’t looked back since. My first cigar box guitar was made from a Swisher Sweets cardboard box. I was smoking cheapo stogies back then and had recently emptied the box. I used a huge piece of oak taken from my dad’s barn in Western Pennsylvania and chopped it up, carved it out and crudely shoved thru the box. It looked like hell, but it played magnificently. The first song I learned on it was, “Guitar Rag,” an old blues standard that I had been struggling to play on my regular store-bought guitar. Although it was near impossible for me to perform on the regular guitar, I could immediately play it on my cigar box guitar.” I first became interested in Speal after hearing about his zine, Uncle Enos Magazine, but just like they say in the South, I ended up, ‘light, hitch, and settin’ a spell,’ while doing my initial research on him. You see, I was first going to feature Speal in the Zine Corner column. But before you could say, “the Originator,” I was ‘actin’ like a fart in a frying pan.’ Says Speal, “The whole CBG (Cigar Box Guitar) Revolution is a pure underground movement and I really thought it needed a physical “voice of the revolution.” That’s when I started planning Uncle Enos. I went online and bought about $40 worth of zines from Caroline Tigeress’ “Northwest Zine Works” and studied all the different designs/setups/copying techniques out there (I never ventured into the Zinester community before Uncle Enos). I then asked for submissions, cartoons, interviews and record reviews from members of the CBG Forum and put out Uncle Enos #1 in February of 2007. That issue was nominated for “Zine of the Year” by UTNE, something that just totally blows my mind. But basically, I publish Uncle
Enos once a year. Distros include Microcosm Publishing, True Grit Distro, Northwest Zine Works and on Etsy.com. In addition to Uncle Enos, I put together two “one off” zines that featured my writings, poems, lyrics and my toy camera photography. Those zines are “Stray Dogs,” and “Drive, She Said.” I don’t know if I’ll do more of those, but we’ll see.” And, ‘don’t that tear the rag right off the bush’ can only best describe the colorful characters that Speal features in the pages of Uncle Enos Magazine. Take Gerry Thompson, for instance. Thompson can always be found in two places, Last Gasp Junction, New Jersey or on some list for a liver transplant. Thompson is probably one of the best musicians representing the, “Primitive Rock movement,” despite his lyrics are often littered with the words, “murder,” “shoot her in the head,” and “Kill kill.” But let’s not forget, many moons ago, a young man stood at the crossroads while the lyrics, “And I’m goin’ to beat my woman/until I get satisfied,” fell from his lips. Speal explains how he first met Thompson: “Gerry was just an attendee at the very first Cigar Box Guitar Festival at Carrolton, Kentucky in 2004 when I first met him. He said he was a songwriter that played a 4-string cigar box guitar. The organizer had some extra time in between artists and asked Gerry to play a few songs. HE BLEW US ALL AWAY. It was like stumbling on an unknown Bob Dylan or Woody Guthrie. Since then, Gerry and I have become great friends. He is my absolute favorite songwriter ever. That’s why I made him the cover story for the very first issue of Uncle Enos.” Aside of the production of Uncle Enos magazine, Speal also produces cd compilations of Cigar Box Guitarists. He offered, “The first “Masters of the Cigar Box Guitar Vol. 1” came out in 1994. I had been running the Cigar Box Guitar Forum (www.tinyurl. com/cigarboxguitar) for about a year and I really thought the world needed to hear these guys play. They’re amazing. I produced the first cd myself and had it professionally mastered and duplicated. Three years passed between Vol. 1 and the new Vols. 2-4. These newer volumes celebrate the lo-fi, homemade aspect of the instrument and are produced, printed and assembled all by hand in my basement.” Shortly after I tracked Speal down, the experience liken not to, ‘ya’ll are running around like a bunch of wild guineas.’ It was quite the opposite. He automatically steered me to youtube so I could view his latest video, one that clearly featured twostring, wonder band, Presidents of the United States of American, jamming with Mr. Speal on - you guessed it – a cigar box guitar. The song they played? “Dueling Banjos,” made famous by the not so feel good 70’s flick about an innocent trip to Cahulawassee River gone terribly wrong. About the experience, Speal had this to say; “Many years ago, I sent a few cigar box guitars to the Presidents after I found out they played 2 and 3-string guitars. The guitars I built back then were 1,2 and 3 stringers. Since then, I’ve kept in touch with the lead singer, Chris Ballew. A couple years ago, he invited me backstage at a Baltimore show and I took a few cigar box guitars to do some jamming in his dressing room. That’s when he first asked me to sit in with them in concert. The footage from the 2008 Philly concert you viewed on YouTube was at his invitation again. We had a blast with that! It was fun to throw in, “Dueling Banjos,” in the middle part, too.” Speal also organizes Cigar Box Guitar festivals or “family reunions,” (this is what he likes to call them). “The Cigar Box Guitar Festivals have become family reunions for all of us in the CBG Revolution as well as gatherings for us to kick each others’ asses with our performances. They’re also some of the most unique underground music fests anywhere. It’s almost like mini Woodstocks that are run by MacGyver. Each of the performers are hackwiring their own instruments and amps up until they take the stage. It’s a real mindblower to witness.” As far as making music himself, Speal also attempted to start a band called, Jug Fusion. But ‘stove up’ for actual musicians, left him solo: “Jug Fusion started out as a solo project I was working on. I played almost all the instruments on that album. (he also played everything on “Jesus Is Coming Soon”, the track that is included on this issues cd compilation). After completing the album, I assembled a few other musicians to make the band a reality. Unfortunately, it was too difficult to keep the band together. I now perform solo. I really want to get back to a band situation again, but I have to get a few things prepared first. I also have to find a few percussionists that aren’t afraid to take the stage with just sticks and plastic buckets (like street corner musicians do in Chicago)!” The larger project that now has Speal, ‘busier than a bee in a tar bucket,’ is the making of a documentary that will air on PBS. Speal: “I’d like to announce a new website called www.songsinsidethebox. com. It’s the official site of the documentary! The 60 minute feature was filmed at the 2007 Cigar Box Guitar Extravaganza in Huntsville Alabama. Filmmaker Max Shores and his crew filmed 36 hours of footage on 5 cameras, documenting the whole Cigar Box Guitar Revolution from the focal point of one of our festivals. The storyline makes many references to me and my original work with this stuff. My involvement includes several interviews, a few in-concert songs and even a feature on my National Cigar Box Guitar Museum. It’s a
real honor to be part of this film and I hope we can get it aired on many PBS stations throughout the country. “ Just like Bo Diddley bringing his cigar box shaped guitar to the masses (people – it was really a rectangular-bodied Gretsch), while reinventing music by riding on the same chord over and over again, (found in songs like “Who Do You Love?”), Speal is reinventing this ancient deep movement as he comments: “I encourage everyone to make their own cigar box guitar. There are free plans at www.cigarboxguitar.com (reprinted here as well) and a whole community of builders and performers who will offer assistance at www.tinyurl.com/cigarboxguitar. I could continue on with many other observations, but nothing comes as close to the magic of somebody building their own instrument and discovering their own songs inside.” When asked about describing the difference between playing a cigar box guitar as opposed to a store bought instruments, Speal responded: “When I play a standard guitar, I sound like a dismal version of Jimi Hendrix. When I play a cigar box guitar, I sound like Shane Speal. One is imitation, the other is identity.” In Speal’s opinion, one outstanding cigar box guitar player is Rollie Tussing. “Rollie Tussing of Portland, Oregon, is by far one of the best musicians/cigar box guitarists I’ve ever met. He’s a former National Slide Guitar Champion, too. Also, One String Willie (aka David Williams) of Philadelphia is the greatest diddley bow (one-string guitar) player I think ever existed.” “We like things deep. Real deep,” Speal often says. And with Uncle Enos Magazine, his website and the soon to be released documentary, it’s no doubt that he will successfully and singlehandedly educate the public during this great depression known as ‘whopsided’ pop music. There was a time when pop princesses (who Anvil Linguine?) couldn’t pronounce the names of prominent rock stars who actually paved the way for them (who David Bowee?) to dress up like members of the opposite sex. And that just makes me want to ‘slap so hard, my eyes are crossed.’ Sadly, this is the way the world is. But with Speal in our corner, I have all the hope that a chosen few will earn the right to covet the special key that unlocks what it means to be a cigar box guitar lover, maker and player. Stop by Speal’s website @ www.cigarboxguitar.com for info on Shane Speal’s National Cigar Box Guitar Museum Collection, editorial on the “History of the Cigar Box Guitar,” tons of links and much more. – edie* *I took a crash course on “southern” at www.southernsass.com Gerry Thompson can be found at www.myspace.com/colorofskies 84
A note from Shane: These plans were based on an a simple 3-string guitar I built back in 1996. That original cigar box guitar was made from a Macanudo cigar box and a poplar stick with lines woodburned on the neck. Would you believe that over 11 years later, I am still playing that SAME guitar? It’s my main axe! It’s battered and war-torn, but it hasn’t let me down yet. Trust these plans by my friend, Ivan. They’ll enable you to create one of the most magical instruments you’ll ever own. If you have more questions or need more help, we’ve created an on-line Yahoo!Group called THE CIGAR BOX GUITAR FORUM. Go in there, read the messages and post your question. There’s more than 2000 members ready to help you make the best guitar you can.
Materials Needed: * * * * * * * * * *
Tools you will need:
Wooden Cigar Box 3 foot long 1x2 (poplar) 1” Finishing nails (12) 8/32 X 1½ “ bolt ¼” X 2½” Eye bolt Wood Glue ½ pint stain/sealant Sponge brush (1/2” to 1” is fine) Sandpaper Multipack (Wood) Tuning pegs (3) (I got some cheap but cheesy ones from Elderly Instruments)
* * * * * *
Drill with multiple sized bits Hacksaw Pocketknife ½” wide Woodworking file or reasonable substitute (optional) Scroll Saw, various sanding devices
Instructions: 1. Basic Shape of the Neck at the Bottom. The neck and the body of the guitar should fit together very snugly. Also, you want the neck to come up flush with the body, so you need to cut a notch exactly as long and deep as the lid. Here’s how to do it: Take the neck of the guitar and line it up with the box lid so that the bottom of the neck (where the strings will be coming up from) is an inch or so from where the box lid ends. Make a mark on the neck there and where it protrudes from the other end of the lid. These marks designate where the lid groove needs to be carved so that you can get the neck to line up perfectly with the body. Cut out the area between the marks, as deep as your lid is thick. I used my wood file to do this. It was slightly tedious, but gave me great depth control. After reaching proper depth, I used sandpaper to smooth out the rough spots so the neck would rest evenly on the body.
2. Preparing the Body for the Neck. The body of the guitar needs to have notches so the neck fits snugly, and also needs sound holes drilled in it so you can hear the twangy goodness you create. This next step preps your body. Take the cigar box and measure halfway across each of the left and right side. From that point measure ¾” towards and away from the lid. Even though the wood for the neck is called a 1X2 it’s really a ¾ X 1½. At each of the endpoints you just drew, draw a line ¾” towards the bottom of the box, then connect those two lines. This will guide you for cutting out the notches for the neck to fit into. Be sure to cut just inside your marks and not quite as deep as you think you should. Try to fit the 1X2 in the notch, and when it doesn’t quite fit use the file and sandpaper to widen and deepen the notches. The idea is to have the tightest fit possible. Remember, you want the lid to close easily over the neck of your guitar with no bowing of the lid (notch not deep enough) and no space between the neck and the lid (notch too deep). Once you have the notches cut to perfection, you are ready to drill out the sound holes in your guitar body. Any number of techniques can be used including the use of a scroll saw. I personally don’t own such things, so I just drill holes in the lid. Don’t make holes where the neck goes, since the neck will end up covering them. I don’t really have anything intelligent to say about how you should prepare the sound holes as I have not experimented with this much. One caution: be careful not to crack the lid of your cigar box while drilling madly. 3. Working on the Neck. The top of the neck will be comprised of a headstock and a bridge. This next part discusses how to prepare those parts. Remove the neck from the body of the guitar. Make a mark around 4 inches from the top of the neck. This will be where the headstock ends and the fretboard begins. Before you shape the headstock, I suggest you drill the 3 holes for the tuning pegs. This is because you need to be sure you don’t cut the headstock too thin (the tuning pegs won’t screw in snugly). Drill 2 holes on the left side of the headstock and one on the right. The two holes on the right should not line up with one another, one should be slightly offset so the strings don’t interfere with one another when you string it. I offset my top hole about 3/8” further in than the bottom hole. The holes are about 2” apart. I drilled the left hole between the top and bottom right hand holes to make sure the headstock strength was not compromised. Next, the shaping of the headstock is in order. I like to use the wood file because I can file away little bits of the headstock at a time without going overboard. (Shane’s note: I use a dado blade on my table saw for perfect notching on the headstock and at the body.) I use it and the pocketknife to shape the headstock into the shape I want. After that, you can round out the back of the neck for a more comfortable playing experience. Just don’t mess with the neck portion that goes inside of the body of the guitar since nobody will see that part and since you want to retain a snug fit between the neck and body. 4. The Bridge and String Holes. The last manipulation of the neck piece is the drilling of the sting holes at the bottom of the neck and the creation of the bridge groove. Drill 3 very small equidistant holes at the bottom of the neck, approximately ½” from the bottom, this is where you will thread the strings. On the top of the neck, ½” below where the headstock begins, use the wood file to cut a small round groove across the neck. This is where the bolt you use for the bridge will sit. The groove should be deep enough that 2/3 of the bolt is above the plane of the neck and 1/3 is below. 5. Staining and Prettying Up the Neck. Remove all hardware from the neck. Sand it down nice and pretty and get off all the rough spots, nicks etc. Stain and seal it. 6. Attaching the Neck to the Body. Use the wood glue to affix the neck of the guitar to the lid. After it has dried, you might want to use a few finishing nails as well. Be careful that you don’t crack the lid when doing this. Use the finishing nails to close up the lid. I like to drill pilot holes so that everything goes in straight and easy. (Note: If you want to wire this baby for sound, see the note at the end of these instructions. Don’t do this step yet!!) 7. String Her Up! Using acoustic guitar strings is recommended by Shane Speal, the King of the Cigar Box Guitar, and I’m not one to argue with the king. He uses Martin Darco acoustic guitar strings, gauged .045, .035, .026. Place the bridge bolt in place, as well as the eye bolt at the bottom of the guitar and tune it up. Shane suggests a few different types of tuning including: A (A, E, A’); G (G, D, G’); A7 (A, E, G’); G9 (G, D, A’). A note about the strings: The first guitar I made has some grooves cut into the wood by the strings, directly above where the three small holes I drilled in the bottom are. The stress put on the strings is causing them to cut holes up from those I drilled. I’m trying a new design where I use 3 small 86
washers at the base of the holes. I’m hoping this will keep the strings from cutting too deeply into the wood. Shane’s note: My old cigar box guitar didn’t have any washers to keep the strings from cutting. Yes, the strings did go into the wood a little bit, but after 11 years, there really hasn’t been a problem.
Making the Guitar Electric Note for those interested in making the guitar electric I have found one of the cheapest ways to do this and still get a reasonable sound. You can wire your cigar box guitar for about $3.00. You will need the following: A Radio Shack Piezo Transducer (part number 273-073 or 273-073a) and a ¼” output jack. The transducer is in the section with the buzzers, not the microphones. Connect the transducer to the jack via two wires. Simply glue the buzzer to the inside of the cigar box lid and drill out a hole for the jack to mount to. Voila, electric cigar box. After doing this, continue following directions 6 and 7. The transducer has a somewhat bass bias, in that sounds come out somewhat deep sounding. I found that turning the bass down on my amp fixes this problem. Also, running it through various pedals nullifies the problem (chorus pedals etc.) That’s all there is to it! For just a few bucks, you now have one of the funkiest and most primal instruments on the planet. You wanna play some deep music? Now you have the axe to do it!
A few more notes from Shane... 1. Ivan added some soundholes to the lid of his cigar box guitar by drilling patterns. Through various discussion in the Cigar Box Guitar Forum, we have discovered that soundholes really only need to be the size of a quarter to get proper bass response from the box. When you make your soundholes too big, you could reduce the cool natural tones from the box by taking too much of the lid away. Try different things. I used to use an old Renaissance style C-hole in my cigar box guitars. It looked funky and gave my instruments a defining character. Oh yeah, cigar box guitars without soundholes are great sounding, too! Soundholes only affect the bass response. Closed up boxes can have tonal characteristics all their own.
2. These plans are just one way to make a cool cigar box guitar. Remember, this is a folk art instrument and THERE ARE NO RULES in its construction. Start with these plans because they’re tried and true, but then try some of your own ideas. Use old recycled materials if you want. Add strings or make one with just one or two strings. Get creative and have fun.
3. If you make some prototypes before arriving at your favorite design, please don’t throw the old ones out. I’d love to add them to my Cigar Box Guitar Museum. Also, if you want to donate any instruments representing your best work, I’d love to showcase them when the Museum is on display. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll tell you where to send ‘em. 87
Formed in October of 2007, Rock For Health is a non-profit organization seeking to educate artists on health issues, provide necessary medical information and be an advocate for musicians in regards to health insurance coverage and long-term care. Rock For Health achieves this through web presence (www.rockforhealth.org, myspace.com/ rockforhealth) and their Health Resource Manuals for Musicians. Kristina Grossmann, President of Rock For Health believes that a population that is better informed about its health care coverage options will be able to access needed care. It is a well-known fact that today’s health insurance companies often consider musicians and artists an “at risk” population based on legitimate occupational health risks – road travel, hearing damage and repetitive stress disorders (can anyone say, “Amy Winehouse?!”). Musicians who lack health insurance will very often delay or forgo health care until situations get desperate. At moments of crisis they are then forced to use hospitals, emergency rooms and trauma centers to seek treatment instead of addressing health problems at a point when less expensive interventions were possible. And this is usually where the medical bills become insurmountable, leaving the individual or family in thousands of dollars of debt. In the end, what usually happens is, despite needing medical attention on any given matter, musicians and artists choose to not seek the help they need in fear of this financial obligation. Enter Rock For Health. This organization informs musicians on a wide variety of health issues including preventative health services, social, mental and occupational outreach. Through leadership, communication and partnerships, Rock For Health is extremely dedicated to the creation of a healthy musical environment in which artists can perform at their peek physical and mental abilities, without the fear of emergency health costs. Every musician seeking health coverage should read on - I had the chance to chat with President of Rock For Health, Kristina Grossmann: Dig This Real: What led you to tackling such a huge venture? Kristina Grossmann: I am the poster child for someone who has an A-type personality. I have health insurance yet there still have been instances where I have been profiled as someone who is, “non-compliant.” On the tour last year, when I worked for Bayside, I came down with a very serious case of strep throat. When I went to the hospital, they kept telling me things that they could do for me that would save me the most money. It wasn’t until they found out that I had health insurance that they gave me the appropriate care that I needed. It’s very sad. I hate seeing bands get into such a bad place due to their health where they have to cancel shows or tours. We shouldn’t have to pay such a high price to live. What keeps you motivated when it comes to the red tape involving the inaccessible aspect(s) of affordable health care? The amount of support and gratefulness of this organization that I receive on a daily basis will always surpass any low point or rock in the road. Musicians cannot usually get affordable plans because they are considered a work-for-hire employee, operating on a contractual basis. The biggest challenge is educating these companies about this huge market of people (96% of musicians and crew) who lack insurance and coming up with affordable plans. 88
What have you learned in the short period of time that Rock for Health has been in operation? The most important lesson? The least? The amount of knowledge I have gained from the start of this organization is massive! There are so many things I did not know about the health care industry – just watch Michael Moore’s documentary, “Sicko.” That pretty much sums everything up. Rock For Health does not just advocate health insurance – I do a lot of preventive care. I send bands out with vitamins on the road and have created a resource manual for touring musicians that contains information on where the free clinics are, hospitals, ear/nose/ throat doctors and where the CVS’ can be found in each major touring city across the United States, as well as tour exercises and health tips. I recently learned that whispering is the worst thing any one (especially singers) can do for their voice! Could you share with our readers an example or story of how Rock for Health (and its services) had impacted a musician’s life? I met an English band, Your Vegas, who moved to New York City roughly a year ago. A few months ago, they were suffering from the flu. I immediately signed them up for coverage. Shortly thereafter I had the band calling me about root canals, throat abscesses, muscle aches and broken feet. The band saved hundreds of dollars through Medilinq, the health benefit company that we are partnered with and I now have the nick name “health angel.” Which brings me to my next question! Please describe the success of say, musicians using services from an organization like Medilinq. Medilinq is an amazing organization and I am very happy to be working with them. I have a plan with them that for $39.95 a month, a WHOLE entire band up to 15 members, can receive a discount card that gives them 40-80% off on prescription drugs, doctor visits, dental, chiropractors, etc. You can’t beat $39.95 a month. Please explain how the Health Resource Manual for Musicians works – do you have one for every State? Tour? How would one request a copy? Do you produce special or on demand? Do the listings in each manual pay a fee to be in the manual? The resource manual that I created contains a lot of valuable information for every major touring city in the United States. Here one can find locations of free clinics, hospitals, doctor’s offices, chiropractors, yoga studios, ear/nose/throat doctors, as well as tour-friendly health tips and exercises. This manual will be for sale on our website shortly. Bands can request a copy for a reduced fee through emailing email@example.com. For the updated edition of the manual (comes out soon), listings are for sale. Currently I have a special Warped Tour edition because the company has a presence on the whole tour. Information is catered to each city the tour hits. Custom manuals are something that will be created shortly.
Do you feel that by making health care more accessible, artists would be more enthused to take advantage of it? Absolutely. Artists are LAZY. Everyday on the Warped Tour I visit bands that I am working with to finish filling out their form and get it back to me. It’s two pages! If it wasn’t for me on their backs all day and working to make insurance affordable, musicians would be left high and dry until they are left in a very unpleasant situation. Explain how “Free Clinics” operate. There is a large misconception about free clinics. They are not always free – but they do offer services at a small fee, which is usually around $35. Seeing a real doctor is clearly a better choice, but free clinics have helped quite a few people in sticky situations. I must ask, what did you study in school? What brought you to music? I graduated Northeastern University with a BS in Music Industry with honors. I am a musician, but I play for personal enjoyment. I played the clarinet growing up and I also play guitar. I love watching this company grow day by day and I look forward to the exciting things we have in store for the next few months! Rock For Health accepts donations. Please be generous! Donations can be accepted from all major credit card companies via paypal. Rock For Health is an organization and operated exclusively for charitable, scientific and educational purposes as defined in Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code and its regulations as they now exist or as they may hereafter be amended. Be sure to check out Rock For Health’s sites: www.rockforhelath.org and myspace.com/rockforhealth. Photos can be viewed at flickr.com/photos/rockforhealth. Rock For Health, PO Box 230397, Boston, MA 02215 firstname.lastname@example.org - edie 89
Things get quiet when there is nothing left to say. Small trucks suddenly sound as if they have the ability to rattle windows and displace heavy objects. The kitchen sink drips. The coffee pot gurgles and then remains still, its contents un-drank and beginning to become burned. The cream and sugar sit next to two empty cups, no longer wanted. Two people strain not to see each other, listening to the silence like it has something to say. They had been going at it for hours now. Circling and jabbing at each other with words, shots both cheap and honest, like two heavyweight boxers in their salad days. The rounds had been tight and the action intense. She had the poise, precision and tact of Ali. He preferred to bull rush straight on, throwing heavy, glancing blows, aiming to end the fight as quickly as possible ala Tyson. Both of their ears hurt, but were still intact. At this point in time the action had reached somewhat of a standstill. Neither person could will themselves to victory, or to throw in the towel. The argument had gone far past the point of reconciliation but they continued to have it nonetheless, the refusal to concede evident in the shine of each set of eyes. Both were stubborn and this characteristic was never more apparent during the course of their brief relationship then at the end. They were at the end of a race that none would win but both wanted to finish. Their fight only prolonged what they knew would soon be over. Hanging in the air was the bittersweet scent of inevitability. The well was dry and the bottom too deep. No one felt like digging anymore. Remarkably, thankfully, mercifully, but not surprisingly, there were no tears. Tears are for first heartbreaks; a glacier will melt in a desert and eventually the tears will dry up. Like two caged animals sitting in the kitchen and staring, they looked at the wall, at the floor, out the window, never at each other. The silence was oppressive but it was good and it was clean. The dirt and filth in the air that had preceded it still lingered but was beginning to dissipate. It drifted up through the ceiling and dispersed out into the world, clearing the air, mist on the wind, waiting to rain on another parade. In the end there was nothing between them but each other. Everything else was gone. Anything that could have been done had been done. All angles had been covered. A thorough examination had been conducted and after several diagnoses, the problem was confirmed as being terminal. The plug had to be pulled. It was the best way. Babies would still cry and old men would still lose track of things they used to know so well. Life would go on. It was her house and her kitchen. He would be the one that had to leave. More disappointed than mad, his door slam was unintentional. She probably didnâ€™t see it that way. Considering the way things were, there would probably be no recourse to amend that last impression. There is not always a second chance and in some cases sharp words and door slams can stand the test of time. Some things must
remain as they are. He got out to his truck and climbed in. The fifth of bourbon was still nestled in the center console, exactly where he had lovingly placed it earlier that day. He picked it up, unscrewed the cap and took a medium sized hit. Sunlight streamed through the bottle, making amber colored patterns on the empty passenger seat. He swallowed the liquid fire and felt warm for the first time that day. The bottle went back to the console, returning to home. The gods were kind. That was what he was thinking about as he started the truck and began to drive. The familiar purr of the engine was comfort food. Being in motion was the correct way to be. A drink and a drive can induce the mind to wander, to contemplate. The houses flashed by like so many strangers passing each other in the street. Wordless, faceless, devoid of the worth of a second look. In each one, another her could be waiting. The drink had helped clear his head, as they sometimes do. Realizations were taking shape. This was not the first time he had argued with a woman in a kitchen. The repetition of the experience was beginning to damage the way he felt about food, sex, and appliances, among other things. It never was pleasant and he did not desire to go through it again. He made a resolution with himself (the hardest kind) to not be late for any more cable installation appointments. Life was too short to spend arguing with bored housewives who had sacrificed far too large a part of their day to wait for him. Also the customer relations rep had bad breath and was never fun to talk to. Contemplating irony, he drove on. â€“ Evan Bleier 93