THE CUT-UP • Winter 2017-2018 • Volume Two, Issue One • FREE
It’s been a hot minute but we’re back! Very excited to present to you Issue One of Volume Two of our little publication that could called The CutUp. Its another fine mix of art, music, poetry, and prose with a little social commentary thrown in for good measure. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on our efforts, what more you’d like to see in the mix, and ideas you might have for future editions. Drop us a line anytime at email@example.com. Our goal is to have The Cut-Up reach throughout Connecticut and Rhode Island and up into Massachusetts toward Northampton and Amherst. If you know a location that might be interested in carrying our goods, please don’t hesitate to share the paper with them or send us a suggestion so that we can reach out. We are an all volunteer team and esepcially when it comes to distro we truly rely on anyone who may be able to cover a specific corner of the region described above. Let us know if you can help. We are living in difficult times wherein all of our belief systems, our modes of being and communicating, our bridges to community and commitment to one another seem to be under attack or at the least fraying at the edges due to the constant churning of the waters with division and dissent. We hope that our little arts and culture journal serves in some way to calm those waters and show that there is a place for shared observation and communication where we might learn from each other’s experience by reading and seeing and discussing and sharing. Be part of the dialogue! Embrace difference to find new understanding! Share your opinions and listen to others! We all become better citizens (of this great country and the entire planet) through shared realization of the universal truths to be found together through the process of dialogue.
A Little Q&A with... Andres Chaparro by Rich Martin
Dan Blakeslee & The Calabash Club by Michael Panico Flipping Through 45s with Sir RoundSound
6 Two New Books from Chip McCabe by Karen Ponzio 7
Annie’s Story a short story by Kenton Robinson
u2s Joshua Tree Tour 2017 by Michelle Montavon
On The Road with...The Huntress & Holder of Hands
Record Store Tour... In Your Ear by Chris Daltry
11 Live Review: Drive By Truckers by Paul Boudreau Live Review: Feral Ohms, Major Stars & Honey by Dave Brushback 12 Reviews: Downtown Boys, Mercy Choir, Jack Grace, Alexander, Easy Killer, Four Tet, Pale Space, Neil Young, Robert Plant, and Mountain Movers by Marko Fontaine, Karen Ponzio, Ward Whipple, Dave Brushback, Daniel Boroughs, Danielle Capalbo, and Nick Johns 14 The Cut-Up Gallery .::. Curated by Danielle Capalbo featuring Ryan Kalentkowski, JoViAn, Benjamin Philbrick, and Briana Drew 16 Moogfest. by Dave Freeburg 17
Connecticut Clan: UZOO by Chip McCabe
a zerowork reactor
Back Against the Wall with... Jonny Disaster by Jeffrey Thunders
18 Devoted to Rhode Island: Roz & The Rice Cakes by Chris Daltry
Issue One, Volume Two :: Another Fall Richard L. Martin Contributors
Kim Abraham Daniel Boroughs Paul Boudreau Dave Brushback Danielle Capalbo Dennis Carroll Andres Chaparro Chris Daltry Peter Detmold Jonny Disaster Briana Drew Marko Fontaine David Freeburg Nick Johns JoViAn Ryan Kalentkowski Chip McCabe Kid Millions Michelle Montavon Michael Panico Benjamin Philbrick
Karen Ponzio Kenton Robinson Bradley Sheridan MorganEve Swain Jake St. John Jeffrey Thunders Tom Weigelz Ward Whipple
20 Reviews: Lilly Hiatt, Allysen Callery, Queens of the Stone Age by Paul Boudreau, Chris Daltry, and Nick Johns 21 Can You Hear in Back? A Tribute to Tom Weigel by Jake St. John 22
A Poetry Page: Tom Weigel
Secret Society of Strange Music Freaks: An Interview with Paul Major by Kid Millions
25 Rock Snaps: Muddy Waters @ Paul’s Mall 1972 by Peter Detmold 26 Cathartic Beats: An Interview with Adam Mathiason aka Chumzilla by Daniel Boroughs 27 Whydirock? by Bradley Sheridan
Keep Moving 2011, Mix media on canvas, 36”x48” by Andres Chaparro
A Publication of
New London Music Festivals, Inc. No. 19 Golden Street New London, Connecticut 06320
“Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple.” - Charles Mingus
3 has been an influence. Some other artists I have found inspiring and influential include Jean Michel Basquiat, Karel Appel, Benny Andrews, Romare Bearden, Graffiti artists Rammellzee and Dondi White and some contemporaries such as Donald Boudreaux of Connecticut and Harold Smith of Kansas City. I love their work and artistic voice they are among some of the most generous artists. I think I gravitate to work that has a sense of honesty and improvisation. I also find the music of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Lester Young, Bud Powell, Jackie McLean and countless others equally as important and influential in my art. RM: When did jazz first grab you? Was it during your time in New York? What artists did you see perform that truly influenced your growth as an artist?
A little Q&A with...
I first saw Windsor artist Andres Chaparro’s work on a late night visit to blues and barbecue room Black Eyed Sally’s in Hartford. His oversize canvases are scattered throughout the club and set the tone for the space with the bright colors and visual musicality. Chaparro’s work is refreshingly socially conscious challenging the viewer to accept the unfortunate divide and divisiveness that linger in the heart of our culture and society. Many of his pieces are pure and raw celebrations of jazz music (his clear muse) but many also force us to confront the reality that the musicians exploring this most American of art forms were not afforded the freedoms that our great experiment in democracy was meant to give them.
King Miles Davis, 2016, Mix media on canvas. 36” x 36”
His artist statement explains his focus: “I work without premeditation simply following the path that each painting sets forth for me. My art work aims to honor, recognize, & celebrate the pioneers as well as the contemporaries of Jazz music. Through my use of Third World Liberation color schemes, and subject matter I strive to create an example of ideas that reflect the desire for social action, social consciousness, equality, justice, and cultural awareness. Jazz music is the catalyst to all my work, and I am merely the conduit in which the reality and inequities that exist in many communities in our nation and throughout the world are reflected onto the canvas. It is my sincere hope that my work serves to inspire and be a force for good.” Chapparo is omni-present ambassador for the arts and jazz music throughout Hartford and Connecicut and it was a great honor to ask him about his art, his recent accomplishments, and his thoughts on the state of these times. - Rich Martin
The artist pictured with his work To Be Or Not To Bop, 2016, Mix media on canvas 6.5ft. x 7.5ft.
AC: I always had a deep passion for music even as a child. I remember running home from school to listen to music on 8 Tracks and albums. I didn’t necessarily grow up around musicians, but grew up around music lovers. My dad would listen to all kinds of Latin music from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Venezuela, Panama, etc… my sisters and cousins were into Motown, R&B, Soul, and at school I was exposed to folk music and rock music. At the age of thirteen I accidently stumbled across and discovered Jazz music. So, I was feeling music and I had the Jazz bug years before I started painting. I can say that living in NY and hanging out in the jazz clubs provided me an intimate understanding of the music and
Rich Martin: When did you first begin creating art and what were your original inspirations for diving into those waters? Andres Chapparo: I started creating art in the late 80’s. I always had an affinity for art which was nurtured by my visits to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum in Hartford, CT while I was in High School and numerous visits to museums and galleries in NYC while in college. My early paintings were recreations of dreams I was having, painting the dreams on canvas along with jazz icons such as John Coltrane. The urge and need to create art was always a part of me, but creating Jazz inspired art became a staple in my John Coltrane Taking Pain Apart, 2015, Mix media on canvas, 7ft. x 8ft. work in 2010. I felt it was important to tell the story of Jazz, and its its creators that continues to have an impact pioneers in a way that visually transcribed on my art. It is because of my passion the music onto canvas. for Jazz and the friendships formed with jazz musicians that I have dedicated my RM: You’ve mentioned that visits to the artwork representing and telling the story of Wadsworth Atheneum (America’s first art Americas classical music. museum) in your high school years were especially powerful in starting you on your path toward art. Can you talk about some of the artists and pieces you discovered there that had a strong effect on your work? Do you still spend time there now? AC: In those early years I was particularly inspired by the work of Picasso and Dali at the Wadsworth Atheneum. The Salvador Dali painting “Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on Beach” was my favorite and I would spend the greater part of my visits in front of that painting. I recall taking a photo of the painting so that I could study the painting at home. It really captured my imagination and inspired me. I can’t say that was the first time I was inspired by artwork but it was the most profound at that point in my life. I still visit the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum on occasion. RM: What are some of the other visual artists that most directly influenced your work? Is it fair to say that Keith Haring was an influence? AC: Keith Haring is among my favorite and most influential artists because of the social activism in his work. I consider his work as the hieroglyphics of the 1980’s so yes you are spot on in saying that Keith Haring
Monk Lives, 2012, Mix media on canvas. 36” x 48”
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There are many musicians who continue to inspire my artwork but of those I have seen perform Pharoah Sanders comes to mind. I saw him perform a few times and every time I leave his concerts rejuvenated and in a higher frame of mind and consciousness. His music is uplifting, & moving in a spiritual way that speaks to me.
created for the cover came entirely from the concept of the recording. When Ralph approached me, he was careful not to give me too much information about what he wanted, he explained how the Black Lives Matter movement was important in the context of the recording as well as the social consciousness of the music. It was important for me to feel my way through and create a visual imagery and energy for the cover that reflected the eclectic sonic energy of the recording. I didn’t hear any of the music until after the art was created. The album cover is raw & provocative and both Ralph and I were proud of the cover and how it reflected the conditions that the music conveys.
RM: Your work is so deeply connected to Jazz not only as the subject of your attention but in your use of improvisation to achieve the ends of each painting or collage. Did this technique come quickly to you in an Ah-Ha moment or did it take some time to develop?
Liberty & Justice, 2016, Mix media on canvas, 6.5ft. x 7ft. Featured on the cover of Ralph Peterson & Aggregate Prime’s ‘Dream Deferred’
RM: Hartford has an especially vibrant community of players in the Jazz community. Any specific area musicians that you have found particularly inspiring for your own development?
Nat Reeves, 2016, Mix media collage, 8” x 10”
AC: As an artist it is important for me to continue to grow spiritually, emotionally, & intellectually, and reflect that growth in my artwork in a very honest way. I think my technique was one I developed through this process of creating and evolving as a person and artist. This journey never really ends so my artwork continues to evolve. My recent work has taken on a social conscious content that I feel is important while maintaining my Jazz themed subject matter. When speaking of approach or technique I think my connection with jazz has fostered the sense of improvisation and freedom you see in my work. I sometimes feel that I relate more to a musician’s process of composing or performing then I do with an artist creating a piece of art.
RM: In so many ways, jazz is the art form that most exemplifies the possibilities of the American experiment in the way that it can incorporate so many styles and invites players of every race, color and creed to join to create a greater whole. Seems we could
AC: I know so many musicians from the Greater Hartford community, but among the musicians that I have depicted and have impacted my work are Jackie McLean, Dezron Douglas, Josh Evans, Nat Reeves, Javon Jackson, Rene McLean, Alan Jay Palmer, Zaccai Curtis, Luques Curtis, Jovan Alexandre, Mike Casey, Matt Dwonszyk, Lummie Art talk & demonstration in Windsor, Connecticut Spann, Mixashawn, Stephen Haynes, Jonathan Barber, & Paul Brown. When I think of use a lot more of that today. Do you think some of the musicians out of Hartford art and music can still influence change in whose music or playing I have found these jaded and dark days? inspiration these come to mind. I am certain I am leaving a host of musicians out, but AC: I think art, and music play a vital role comfortable with my selection. in the lives of people all over the world. It has the power to inspire, and transcend to a RM: Your cover art for Ralph Peterson and higher plane. We live in a nation and world Aggregate Prime’s recent album “Dream for that matter with a growing list of crises. Deferred” was recently nominated for a Jazz The arts (visual arts, music, spoken word, Journalist Award for best Jazz album art for literary, theatre, dance, etc…) have always 2017. What was the inspiration and thought reflected history in an honest way and has behind creating the piece for Ralph’s new told the stories of violence, human rights record? violations, environmental concerns, violence, and I find the artwork today that mirrors AC: The inspiration behind the art work and provide us with powerful statements of social issue of our time to be a powerful force. Art can convey what words can’t and give people the courage to change or inspire change. One thing is for certain that both art and human rights are no longer for the privileged few. My practice reflects American culture and one of the greatest cultural gifts to the world “Jazz” and reflects the pain, complexity, racial divide, but leaves the door open for hope and a better tomorrow.
Mobile spa coming soon. RefreshOrganic@gmail.com 860.938.8297 The Exalted Yardbird, 2016, Mix media collage, 36” x 36”
Flipping through 45s with Sir RoundSound
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Dan Blakeslee & The Calabash Club The Alley Walker
Lightning Plug Records
The music business makes no sense which has been true for a long time. In today’s world with streaming and the actual physical element of the record business getting more and more extinct it makes even less sense. Hard work, dedication and talent used to be factors that really, really mattered. Dan Blakeslee has them all. If all was right in the music business Dan Blakeslee and The Calabash Club’s new album The Alley Walker would be a huge success and the album to take Dan to the next level because it is his finest record to date. This is a record that we all need in our lives and one that the masses need to hear. I have a dream of one day seeing Dan play one of the main stages of Newport Folk Festival because there is no one who deserves it more. When Dan Blakeslee makes an album he just doesn’t just go into the studio for a week, record and they put the album online or however most people put albums out these days. Dan is not only an amazing musician and singer, but he is a top-notch artist as well (look at the artwork on the next Heady Topper or Focal Banger beer can from Alchemist Brewery you drink). Right off the bat the first thing you notice is the amazing artwork on The Alley Walker, his new album with his band The Calabash Club. Especially on the vinyl version which has an empty fourth side with an etched image on the record. On top of all that Dan goes the extra mile. He does T-Shirt designs, silk screen posters and tons of goodies for his dedicated fan base who contributed to the Pledge Music campaign for the album. The man hand delivers albums from state to state like an old timey mail man!! Like the great artist that Dan is The Alley Walker is layered with great sounds, landscapes and images that make it a beautiful and eclectic listen. An incredible touring story lead him to “Johnny and June” where he was invited to dinner by Johnny Cash’s family to play the song for
them. An early highlight of the album is on this song as the gospel like choir come to a crescendo that brings the song to a close. As the album flows from song to song we hear tales of powers of nature, The Piscataqua River bridge, Dan’s old stomping grounds, Somerville, MA, and Saber Tooth Tigers. “Lone Star” tells the story of being broken down on tour in Texas. It is hard not to picture Dan in all of these scenarios because he sings the truth and his character and spirit comes out in them all. He brings very relatable and down home setting to even the most wild and abstract stories. Along for the ride to accompany Dan’s angelic voice and rustic guitar sound on this album is Dan’s great band the Calabash Club. Made up of Mike Effenberger on piano, organ and accordion, Nick Phaneuf on bass, electric guitar, backing vocals and Jim Rudolf on drums and percussion. They are a perfect fit for the subtle folk rock and lyricism that Dan has become known for. The secret weapon on this album might be Jonah Tolchin, who adds some beautiful touches throughout the album on electric guitar and lap steel. Eric Royer, Guy Capecelatro III, Amy Kucharik, Jenee Halstead and Mary Dellea round out the guests that pop up on the album and make it a great melting pot of voices and sounds. The title track “The Alley Walker” closes out the album with a beautiful and somber tune that is filled with emotion. The album as a whole is about emotion and love. The lyrics on these songs suggest some struggle but then there is joy. A lot of joy, which if you know Dan Blakeslee personally, is what him and his music are all about. Go out and get joyful and buy The Alley Walker. You will not regret it!! - Michael Panico
Now That I’m Gone (Look How You’re Crying) / Can’t Stop Thinking About You Charles Bradley & The Bullets Daptone 2004
Flipping through my 45s recently, I came across this record and had to pause for a moment. While the song is the story of an ignored lover who finally walks away, the recent passing of Charles Edward Bradley (11/5/48 – 9/23/17) made the title difficult to take in. Charles brought a rare light to the world of music. He was a man who faced incredible hardship throughout his 68 years (a story chronicled beautifully in the documentary Charles Bradley: Soul of America), and yet he managed to display a true sense of joy, gratitude and optimism as a performer. He was a glimmer of hope in an uncertain world, and he is sorely missed. This record was his second release on the Daptone label (the first being the fast-paced classic “Take it as it Come”). “Now that I’m Gone” kicks off with a scream that reveals Charles’ many years as a James Brown impersonator. In fact, instrumentally, the tune’s JB influence is loud and clear throughout. But after that first “HEYYYYYY”, Mr. Bradley’s unmistakable voice takes over. “Where was you, when I needed you?” With that line he cements this song into the canon of soul, a genre that so often deals with the immediacy of day to day pain that we can all relate to. And, as one might expect, Charles flexes his soul power: “You left me on my own, on my own. But look how you cry, now that I’m gone.” “Can’t Stop Thinking About You” is a midtempo, bass heavy groover that lets Charles croon for romance. “Baby, I need you. I want you.” I wonder if they bothered writing lyrics or if they simply let Charles do his thing. I suspect it was the latter, which is by no means an insult to the song. Sometimes you need to let loose, and this tune is a great example Charles Bradley simply doing what he does and doing it well. Both songs were recorded in the early years of Daptone studios at a time when the label was emulating the sound of rough, underground funk 45s of the late 1960s. By the time his debut LP No Time for Dreaming was released in 2011, the studio was churning out much more polished, Motown-esque records. But there’s something about the gritty sound of their early 2000s recordings that keeps me coming back. As I’ve done since the passing of Sharon Jones, I’ll do my part to keep Charles alive by airing out his records. This gem by the Flying Eagle of Soul won’t be flappin’ outta my DJ box any time soon.
- Dave Freeburg
Two New Books from Chip McCabe
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- Karen Ponzio
100 Things to Do in Hartford Before You Die
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Organic, Plant Based & Gluten Free
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Connecticut’s capital has received notoriety over the years as the hub of the insurance industry, but in his most recent book Chip McCabe, one of the city’s greatest advocates and hardest workers, gives the public plenty of reasons to visit that do not include contracts or copays, one hundred reasons to be exact. 100 Things to Do in Hartford Before You Die takes the reader through a comprehensive list of the city’s hot spots that includes something for everyone from families to foodies to outdoor fun aficionados.
140 State Street • New London Eat In ~ Take Out ~ Delivery
The book’s subject matter is separated into five categories: food and drink, music and entertainment, sports and recreation, culture and history, and shopping and fashion. Each entry is only one paragraph long, but offers a colorful as well as informative bite of what makes that specific business or event worth your time and attention and includes the address, phone number, and website as well to encourage even further investigation. Chip also provides a “tip” every so often on the opposite page of the description that offers even more helpful information such as if a restaurant also has gluten free choices or if a venue has a specific special event of interest not already mentioned.
There is also a chapter with Suggested Itineraries if you’re looking for a bit more guidance in each of the aforementioned categories, as well as a chapter listing Events by Season if your interest lies in attending one of the many festivals, concerts or sporting events that only occur during specific times of the year.
rightpathfood.com 860-437-9700 140 State Street • New London Eat In ~ Take Out ~ Delivery
Noted on the back cover of the book is the fact that McCabe is the director of marketing for the Hartford Business Improvement District and Hartford.com. It is clear while reading through this book that the author also has a personal affinity and much enthusiasm for his subject matter and has put a considerable amount of time and energy into exploring this city and its offerings. Whether you are a seasoned citizen of this city looking to find a new lunch spot or someone who has rarely visited but has always been inquisitive as to where to begin their exploration, this book is proof positive that Connecticut’s capital lives up to its tagline, Hartford Has It, and that Chip McCabe is the man to assist you on your journey.
666 Days of Metal
A mere two months after the release of his book 100 Things to Do In Hartford Before You Die, Chip McCabe returns with a book focusing on his other area of expertise, heavy metal music. Known as The Metal Dad via his website/blog and his weekly show on CygnusRadio.com, McCabe is not only a lover of all things metal, but also one of its greatest supporters. Compiled from blog postings that ran daily from October 31, 2012 until August 14, 2014, this book follows in descending order McCabe’s picks for the greatest 666 metal albums of all time. How were they chosen? McCabe himself says in the book’s introduction that “…these are 666 of the most essential metal albums of all time. They are essential in their contribution to the genre and in their influence on an entire world of fans and fellow musicians.” The book is divided into three sections. Section One, titled The List of 666, is exactly that. Each listing includes a photo of the album cover, a short paragraph describing why that album was selected, and a recommended track. McCabe has a gift for grabbing a reader’s attention. His descriptions here are succinct, informative, and entertaining without sacrificing content. Whether it is a band they’ve never heard of, or a band they’ve loved forever, readers will find more than enough here to keep them happy and possibly get them excited about something new. Section Two, titled Examining the Body, includes even more for fans of all things list related such as the number of top albums by year, decade, country, label, as well as the top albums per year. As a bonus, McCabe also added his picks for top albums of the years 2013 – 2016 since the original project ended before those dates. Section Three, The Index, completes this already stacked volume. Make no mistake; this self-published book is a labor of love. It is not a compilation of information; it is a book by a fan for other fans. It belongs on the shelf of anyone who is a supporter of music writing as well as a supporter of those who choose to listen to the music and make it more accessible to everyone. McCabe is definitively one of those chosen few.
Every other Tuesday from 6-9pm WCNI 90.9 FM New London, CT wcniradio.org facebook.com/derangedradioanne
Annie’s Story My father didn’t always hate squirrels. I think he even may have liked them. Once. Once — my earliest memory — he knelt next to me in a green & sunny place, taking me by the shoulders & turning me to face something. “Look, Annie!” he coaxed. “A squirrel!” A quick stuffed animal sat back & stared at me. Since stuffed animals weren’t supposed to move, & especially not to stare at you with eyes alive in their heads, I burst into tears. I suppose you could say this was an omen. But even though I do believe in omens, I don’t think this was one. Besides, my father didn’t get angry. He just picked me up, lifting me above his head, & laughed & laughed. “Sweepea!” he said. “It’s just a little squirrel! Squirrels never hurt anyone.” Back then, we lived in The City. Our only “yard” was Central Park. But when I turned eight, we moved to Connecticut.
a short story by Kenton Robinson
The garden looked like the end of World War III.
never want to eat anything else for the rest of your life.”
That’s when my Papa started muttering.
The tree was young, but it soon grew strong & flowered pink, then the flowers became nubs no bigger than my thumb. Baby peaches.
I could never make out what he was saying, but I could tell there were swears. “Use dried blood,” said the garden center man. The squirrels ate it up. “A big plastic owl,” said the garden center man. The squirrels sat on its head & pissed & crapped on it as if it were a toilet, no doubt their way of saying, “Fuck you!” That’s when Papa started talking about getting a gun. “Annie,” he said, “this is war. These squirrels? They’re rats! Nothing but rats with bushy tails!”
Papa walked all over that yard, making plans. He wanted cardinals & catbirds; he wanted basil & tomatoes; he wanted white roses; he wanted a tree pregnant with peaches.
By now, there was only one peach left, one up near the very top of the tree, but the path to that peach was mined with bottles of urine.
This time Papa didn’t scream or mutter. He didn’t say a thing. He just turned from the window, walked out to his truck, got in, & drove away. This was, without a doubt, the scariest thing my father had ever done. When I got home from school that afternoon, police cars & ambulances were flashing in front of my house.
“Don’t worry,” Papa said. “The birds will find them.” The next day, they had found them all right, but the birds weren’t eating. Instead, they sat in the branches complaining as they watched the squirrels rip the feeders apart.
Next, Papa planted the peach tree & the garden: carrots, tomatoes, zucchini & basil. He surrounded the garden with chicken wire to keep out the rabbits. He planted the tree outside the kitchen window, so he could watch over it while he washed the dishes. He watered & weeded & whistled. Then one morning he came out to find two stuffed squirrels squatting in his garden. By “stuffed” I mean they were so full of my father’s vegetables it looked like their stomachs would explode. One was finishing off half a green tomato; the other gnawed a baby carrot.
So Papa climbed a ladder & hung tiny phials of bobcat urine next to the peaches in the branches just like the garden center man told him to, & The Peach Tree looked like some kind of perverted Christmas tree, not to mention, it smelled like The Port Authority, that is, if bobcats ever invaded the Port Authority & pissed in all the stairwells.
Then the squirrel climbed on up, plucked the last peach, took just one bite & threw it to the ground.
The very day we moved in, he hung two feeders from the arms of the maple tree shading our front lawn. They looked like floating toy houses with plastic picture windows. I sat on the steps & waited for the birds to come.
Never before had I seen Papa go so crazy. He ran outside in his boxers, screaming & waving the first thing that came to hand: his old ukulele. The squirrels shot to the top of the tree, splayed themselves on its branches & snickered with that heh heh heh sound they make. Something between a squawk & an evil laugh.
That’s when the squirrels started stripping them from the tree. “Bobcat urine!” said the garden center man.
The next morning, Papa & I watched through the kitchen window as a squirrel started up the trunk. When he got to the first phial, he clutched it in his paws & drew in a long delicious sniff, seeming to savor the smell the way my Uncle Fred would savor the aroma of a good glass of wine.
Now, instead of a third floor walk-up, our home was a house, a big white ship in a great, sweet sea of grass. The horizons of our new green world were bounded by deep, dark, whispering trees.
There were eight of them. I counted: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Then three more squirted across the street: 9, 10, 11. Some swung from the feeders like Flying Wallendas; others stayed on the ground, shoveling sunflower seeds into their cheeks like greedy kids underneath a busted piñata.
Soon there were more than a dozen! They were fuzzy & as big as my fist but still hard & green.
A row of sticks lined the edge of our lawn like something out of Apocalypse Now, each one with something dark & sinister pinned to the top of it: a squirrel’s tail.
“But Papa,” I started to say. “They’re just squirrels. Squirrels never hurt anybody…” “Back in colonial times,” he interrupted, “our ancestors ate them.” Then, remembering that in colonial times our ancestors lived in Minsk, he said, “Well, somebody’s ancestors did.” I didn’t really believe he’d get a gun. How could I? Papa never even killed a spider. In fact, if a fly got in the kitchen, rather than swat it, he would try to shoo it out the door. Yes, he’d lost his birds, & he’d lost his garden, but Papa still had The Peach Tree. He got dreamy eyes when he talked about fresh peaches & peach preserves. He talked about the tree his family had had in the old country & the amazing peach pie his mama made when he was a boy. “Ah, Annie,” he said. “If only you could have tasted your gramma’s peach pie! You’d
I ran into the house & nearly gagged on the smell: the musty, nutty funk of a bunch of skinned squirrels boiling in a big pot on the stove. The police had handcuffed Papa. One of them was holding a bright new shotgun & a baggie filled with empty shells. They were taking my father, they told me, to a place where he could “get some rest.” Papa didn’t seem the least bit upset. In fact, I’d never seen him look so peaceful. His face wore the kind of smile that Christian saints always wear in medieval paintings. “We won, Annie,” he said, winking at me, “At last, we won.” After they took my father away, I stood in the yard & waited for my Gramma & Grampa to pick me up. I was trying my hardest not to cry. Then I noticed how easily the tails pinned to the sticks lifted on the wind. Like hairy flags.
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U2’s Joshua Tree Tour 2017: A Perfect Balance Between Nostalgia & Relevance ...and Thanks To Donald Trump became the Biggest Tour of the Year
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When U2 decided to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1987 album that shot them into an entirely new rockosphere, they had originally only planned on playing two shows: one in the US, and one in the UK. While tours dedicated to classic albums are very popular with bands and fans alike, the group wasn’t necessarily interested in nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake. Throughout 2016 they had contemplated doing some sort of celebration, believing the album that had meant so much to them deserved SOMETHING. While a special two-show idea seemed sufficient at first, everything changed on the night of November 8, 2016... the night that Donald Trump was elected President. It was not only an outcome that worried many Americans, but one that worried people around the world. In a September interview with PBS’s Charlie Rose, Bono weighed in on the US election, saying “America is the best idea the world has ever come up with. Donald Trump is potentially the worst idea...he could potentially destroy it. I don’t think he’s a Republican, I think he’s hijacked the party, and he’s trying to hijack the idea of America. This is bigger than all of us, and I think this is really dangerous. Wise people of conscience should not let this man turn your country into a casino”. Suddenly on that fateful night, this classic album, filled to the brim with lyrics and emotions that resisted the Reagan/ Thatcher political agendas of the 80s, seemed to assume an even more powerful significance than it had 30 years ago. Revisiting this highly political album in 2017 almost suggests the band had the ability to predict the future. Clearly that’s not possible, yet the album’s theme--30 years ago--was both a challenge and a warning to not only protect and fight for the American dream, but to fight for new dreams and ideals while rejecting corruption and greed. Each individual song tells its own story, yet flawlessly works together to unify an entire album that paints a larger picture. Incredibly, we are dealing with the end result of those warnings which have come to pass over the last three decades: the loss of jobs and subsequent hardships due to industrial collapse, the illusion of the American dream vs the reality of American global policies, the underlying violence that has permeated American society, even the partial funding of foreign conflicts and wars by American legislators. In 1987, they spoke specifically of a Central American civil war (San Salvador) that left dissidents buried in unmarked graves, courtesy of weapons provided by the US. Sadly today, that one subject alone could be applied to our involvement in several conflicts and countless deaths. What made The Joshua Tree so accessible despite its heaviness, was while it tackled complex issues, it also expressed relatable, timeless and universal struggles... from the hopelessness and emptiness of drug abuse, the desire of finding spirituality without falling victim to religious hypocrisy, to the age-old perplexities and rewards of romantic relationships. The Joshua Tree was quite intellectual, and as it turns out, amazingly prophetic. And so, on the night Donald Trump won, they immediately recognized the renewed relevance of these songs, and decided it was worth doing a tour after all. It was obvious that the legion of Joshua Tree fans agreed... 1.1 million tickets were sold within the first 24 hours of the band’s announcement. The tour began on May 12 with a packed house in Vancouver, Canada, and wound it’s way to its end on October 22 after four sold-out shows in São Paulo, Brazil. The Joshua Tree Tour 2017 was able to reach 2.7 million fans, and it earned $317M, making it the biggest tour of 2017. To give you another idea of just how big this tour was, the smallest crowd in attendance was 34.5K people in New
Orleans. The largest? 154,468 fans in SaintDenis, France. The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA came in a slightly distant 2nd, with just over 123K. The set itself was a powerful journey that highlighted their entire career. It was choreographed as a three act show where the opening four songs were pre-Joshua Tree, ranging from 1983-1985. The album, acting as the second act, was then played in its entirety, with the third act comprised of 6-8 songs spanning from 1992-2017 (playing a new song from their album due out in December at each show). All of the songs that did not come from Joshua Tree were fan favorites, and if you had to find something to criticize about the tour, that could be considered a bit predictable. But when those first notes of ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ opened the show and the entire crowd jumped to their feet, you remember just WHY these are the favorites to begin with. It was really impressive watching a band who formed in 1976, who has had the same lineup and has remained active touring and releasing new albums for over 41 years, absolutely command tens of thousands of people to remain on their feet for over two hours. Watching the frenzied reaction of the crowd for the “newer” songs admittedly caught me off guard. I had no idea the staying power this band had achieved, but it was absolutely undeniable. Bringing the album out of 1987 and into 2017 was as easy as changing a few words in some of the songs. A great example is when Bono talks of the man with the “face red like a rose in a thorn bush” (referring to Reagan) “slapping down dollar bills” in Bullet the Blue Sky. Simply changing the color from red to orange, and slapping down “billions” instead of “hundreds” was all it took for the message to be received loud and clear. And in case anyone missed the symbolism of that, they left nothing to the imagination when they played a clip from a 1950s movie where a character named Trump was pushing to build a wall, and the townspeople loudly rejected him, and then EJECTED him. Well played, indeed. Equally impressive was the stage design itself. The band played in front of a massive screen filled with images taken by legendary photographer Anton Corbjin, who was also responsible for the original album art. But this was no ordinary video screen... it was the largest used at any concert, ever, measuring 200’ x 45’, and was comprised of over one thousand individual video panels. It was enormous, and it helped tell the ‘revised’ story of this album in a very powerful way. If that weren’t enough, it boasted an entire second stage that protruded 75 ft into the audience, SHAPED like a Joshua Tree. It was all visually stunning and totally larger than life. Where the original album art was filled with wide open desert landscapes that symbolized the blank canvas of American ideas, Corbjin said the imagery of the 2017 tour was meant to “put the Joshua Tree into America NOW”: forests filled with burnt trees, symbolizing the “burnt American dream”, migrants walking over a desert highway, men and women in military garb with American flags everywhere, children holding candles that blew out one by one, with each image more stirring than the next. This powerful imagery continued into the third act as well. I attended two shows, one in Boston MA in June, and one in Buffalo NY in September. At the Boston show, they played their 1995 song Miss Sarajevo, which was inspired by war torn Bosnia, but instead of using images of the original subject matter, a French artist was sent out to a refugee camp in Jordan where they filmed a young Syrian girl who described America as a dreamland. The band reminded us that this was who Donald
Trump wanted to keep out of the US as we watched this young girl dare to dream amidst footage of her home in rubble. It was enough to bring many in attendance to tears. Bono also took this time to remind the audience that there is still so much good in America, and that our country is capable of wonderful things. Listening to that message while watching the footage of Syria in shambles on this massive screen was truly heart wrenching. This really was no ordinary show. More uplifting, was a piece where he explained how the US has provided the lions share of money for medication which allows 20 million Africans to live and survive with AIDS through their ONE and RED campaigns. That they have raised $350 Million to fight the infectious disease allowing those who otherwise would have died, survive. He drove the point that if you were an American taxpayer, you were an AIDS activist whether you wanted to be or not. In Buffalo NY, the focus was on donations for Hurricane Harvey, with enormous images of the storm-ravaged and devastated Gulf. They also used this screen to pay homage to the women of the world, with a massive banner that read “Women of the world Unite” as images of outstanding women in history hovered above. Using the platform of sold out stadiums to help bring attention to these issues wasn’t something they had to do, but they did without caring if the audience wanted to hear it or not. In fact, it was difficult not to notice some Trump supporters in nearby seats getting visibly upset by the political stance the band was taking, but because of the nature of the album they chose to come help celebrate, their surprise and anger was a bit confusing. It made me very curious as to how their shows were received in places like Oklahoma or Kentucky, where support for our new President is abundant. There is no doubt I write this with a visible bias; When I bought The Joshua Tree at age 14 in October of 1987, it not only changed the way that I viewed my country, but the way I viewed my place and purpose in the world. Finding this album as an impressionable teen made me believe that I could help produce the change I wanted to see. That is the magic of music, it can and will change your life when all the stars align. Watching this band put their money where their mouths are over the decades by using their platform to produce real and visible change has been awe-inspiring. Because of the enormous efforts from some guy in a band, $100 billion of debt from the 30 poorest nations was forgiven, electricity was brought to 50 million Africans, and what looks like the elimination of the AIDS epidemic is possible by the year 2030. Bono accomplished this by compromising his belief system, and partnering with both the right and the left of this country. While many see that as a point of criticism, the results are undeniable. The Joshua Tree Tour 2017 had the same effect in a way... watching so many people from all walks of life forget about their differences and come together for a few hours to share this musical experience was pretty awesome. This was an album that had the ability to awaken altruistic ideals in individuals around the world. It absolutely deserved a 30th anniversary tour, because in a way, it was a celebration for all who woke up a different person after digesting it. And for the band who wrote it? It catapulted them into the position to do themselves what they were asking of others, to help change the world in real and significant ways. The Joshua Tree will go down as one of the great albums in rock history, that was clear even 30 years ago. The thing that no one predicted, however, was that The Joshua Tree would be the catalyst that turned U2 into one of the most important bands the world has ever seen.
- Michelle Montavon
ON THE ROAD WITH...
The Huntress & Holder of Hands
I began The Huntress and Holder of Hands in the months following the death of my husband and musical partner, Dave Lamb, who I’d toured with extensively from 2008 to 2013 as the duo Brown Bird. After he succumbed to leukemia in 2014, I realized that writing my own music in response to grief was the only thing that made any sense for me to do. Slowly, things came together: a band formed, an album was recorded and I found myself embarking on a new chapter of a Choose Your Own Adventure Book. On September 15th, The Huntress and Holder of Hands released our first record, Avalon, and took to the road. I was excited, emotional, and so grateful for the folks who piled into the van with me. Our three week record-release tour took us into the Midwest, where we made some new friends, did a last-minute Daytrotter session, met some really cute animals and survived all the trials and tribulations that touring throws at you. - MorganEve Swain Minneapolis we stumbled upon this antique record and radio store.
First stop, the Pawtuckaway Takedown. The Takedown was a very sweet DIY festival in New Hampshire. Potluck food, two stages, dogs wearing tutus and a group of people so welcoming and supportive it was like being in a wooded musical fairyland. At the end of the night a bunch of seriously talented folks did a live reenactment of the first Batman movie, interspersed with clips from the film projected on that white screen. From there, tour took us into New York City (probably one of our favorite shows), Philly, Pittsburgh and into Ohio. In the Steel City we were hooked up with another DIY space, which came together through mutual friends when our original venue fell through. The space was amazing and the folks involved even moreso. (Check out our new friends On the Water and The Hills and Rivers!) That night we saw some old friends and Liz proved to us her pinball wizardry, clearly fueled by her incredible new white denim shortalls.
That night we stayed with a friend of Jame’s, discovered Kinky cocktails, the impressive architecture of Toledo, a cat named Sundance and stayed up til 3am passing a guitar around and singing 90s pop covers. As much as I enjoy the party aspect of the roadlife, it’s not always sustainable, and to me, one of the best parts of touring has always been seeing the countryside. I love driving through vast expanses of Midwestern planes and watching the massive turning blades of the wind turbines. I love the colors of the fields against the blueness of the horizon.
We also very much enjoyed a day off in Chicago, which let us hang out in a park for a good part of the day, and witness the absolute majesty of Lake Michigan. I loved these weird stone structures along the shore that looked like something out of “The Labrynth”.
And of course, catching spectacular sunsets
Outside Columbus Ohio we played at a bowling alley and began what became a tourlong obsession with human pyramids. After Columbus we pointed the van, Goldie Hawn Solo, towards Toledo and Culture Clash Records. This little record store treated us like royalty, gave us a comfy discount and we walked away not only with new additions to our personal record collections, but this really amazing portrait of the band.
AND we drove past the diner from The Mighty Ducks!
This tour had some challenging shows, but it made the band stronger. Des Moines, Davenport, St Paul, Indianapolis… En route to DC the Goldie got sick with a misfiring cylinder, and we drove the remaining 300 miles under 50mph… but when we arrived in DC afer 2am, we were met by the absolute best hospitality from Liz’s badass mom, AND received a private concert of her Jazz band as they rehearsed in the living room the next night. Tour is also a lot of time-killing and rest-stops. We started challenging each other to planks at each stop- any excuse to get even a little bit of “exercise”! Most of the time we just planked in the grass, but James of course, had to do his own thing. There’s also not a whole lot of sight-seeing that happens, but sometimes you get lucky. In
Ending the tour with Burlington VT and Providence RI was like a homecoming celebration that couldn’t have been more appreciated. Tough shows, a lot of miles, and some really really good times- this tour had everything a tour should, and sparked (at least in me), the desire to take to the road again. As our good friends The Devil Makes Three sing, “This life it ain’t right for everybody, but it’s sure been good to me.”
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RECORD STORE TOUR...
In Your Ear Warren, RI
Back in 1980, three music obsessed friends started selling records on college campuses in the Boston area. They soon widened their net and included Brown University in Providence, RI in their pop up sales. But when the colleges began asking for too much money, the trio pooled resources and opened their own Boston area shop in 1982. That was the beginning of In Your Records. Then, in 1985, partner Chris Zingg opened an In Your Ear on Thayer Street in Providence where it remained until getting squeezed out by a greedy landlord 19 years later. But that’s not the end of the story. Zingg later reopened IYE in Warren, Rhode Island, where it remains today. Its massive inventory of both new and used LPs, 45s, tapes and CDs goes deep into all genres, and is incredibly well-curated and organized. The store also sells audio equipment, used music instruments / gear, as well as supplies for musicians. And while it’s no longer in the “big city,” IYE is certainly worth the drive down to Rhode Island’s East Bay. To find out more about his store, I spent some time talking with Zingg over stiff Dark and Stormys at Jack’s Bar in Warren. Now, my first encounter with the shop was in the early 1990s. That was the golden era of Providence record shops, making for a reallife “social media” and community, where if you wanted to find out what was going on around town, stepping through the doors of a record shop would fill you in. If my memory serves me, there were 6 different record shops on Thayer at the time. Now there are zero, thanks to developers and landlords that see the almighty dollar over the community that independently owned shops like IYE brought to the street, helping make the street special. These shops were mostly staffed by Providence musicians who always kept things interesting. Some of In Your Ear’s superstar employees of the past include Jeffrey Underhill of Velvet Crush and James McNew of Yo La Tengo. Zingg told me about a faux pas made by some IYE workers who were talking about Jeff Buckley’s newly released 1994 album ‘Grace’ in the store. Between them, one asked if the others had heard Tim Buckley’s new album, and another said they had and thought it was okay, but that Buckley sounded too much like Robert Plant at times. Moments later, Jeff Buckley (unbeknownst to the staff) plopped down his selections on the counter and said, “yeah, I guess I do sing a little like Robert Plant sometimes.” He was in town for a show at the Last Call Saloon, which both Zingg and I went to. Opinionated clerks were part of the “charm” of record shops back then (think ‘High Fidelity’). So were in-store performances. Zingg told me about the time Jonathan Richman randomly showed up with an acoustic guitar, announcing to all who were there that he was going to play some songs for them. Yo La Tengo also played a live in-store performance at In Your Ear. This sort of thing isn’t going to happen at some chain store or on the internet, so support your local record store - we need them not only for our
Horns of Ormus Mythical Norman
obsessions, but also for a sense of community and, as Zingg puts it, “my wife manages a doctor’s office, and I have a record store. We both like to joke about how we’re both working in the mental health field.” Many record stores haven’t been able to survive the drastic changes in the industry in recent years, but In Your Ear has, even with some hiccups. Zingg told me that one reason he feels that IYE has been able to survive is because it never stopped selling vinyl records, even when CDs nearly killed off the format. He told me about a funny story about the early days of CDs when a customer who had bought a CD by De La Soul and brought it back in to return it because it was “scratchy” sounding, not realizing that it was intentional samples of vinyl records she was hearing and not a defective compact disc. Now CDs, cassettes, and even downloads are becoming things of the past, but vinyl records seem like they’ll never die, and In Your Ear now has 3 locations: Zingg’s store in Warren, RI, as well as Boston and Cambridge, MA shops. Being partners in all three locations is also beneficial, as Zingg told me they often shift inventory around between the different stores, making for variety and new blood, as each location has its own strengths. Online auctions and sales are also part of Zingg’s success story. He also isn’t conflicted about his politics - when it comes to issues he feels strongly about, Zingg leans heavily “open-minded” and has no problem wearing his heart on his sleeve. In 2002 he created something called Embrace Diversity, which promotes a positive message of tolerance for all people, regardless of their race, class, gender, religion, politics or sexual orientation (embracediversity.net) and Zingg also hosts a monthly radio show on 90.3 WRIU out of the University of Rhode Island as DJ Guy Smiley the 2nd Monday of each month from 6-9pm (wriu.org) so tune in sometime - you never know what he’ll play. In Your Ear Records 462 Main St Warren, Rhode Island 02885 (401) 245-9840 Hours: Monday-Saturday 11-6 Sunday 11-5 facebook.com/InYourEarRecords www.iye.com -
Dr. Martino Caving In
Until My Body Breaks
You’re In Heaven
The Lost Riots
The Stories Are true
Marvelous Liars Marvelous Liars
telegraphrecordingcompany.com telegraphrecordingcompany.com telegraphrecordingcompany.com
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Feral Ohms, Major Stars & Honey ZuZu, Cambridge, MA June 19, 2017
Drive By Truckers Live at Infinity Music Hall, Hartford | July 28, 2017 Throughout their 20 year span, the altcountry outfit Drive By Truckers have penned some rather meaty songs centered around the civil and social unrest of The South. Based out of Muscle Shoals, Alabama and steeped in the region’s culture, two of the band’s earlier albums Southern Rock Opera and The Dirty South heavily explored these topics and what they termed “the duality of the Southern thing.” So when DBT rolled into Hartford’s Infinity Music Hall on July 28 in support of their latest record, the critically acclaimed and socially charged American Band released last September, fans were given that familiar Truckers taste that can give them pause one minute and rock their faces off the next. After an unnecessarily loud, yet fuzzy and eclectic garage rock set from opening act Seratones, DBT took the stage, their always-present “Black Lives Matter” sign propped up on the foot of Jay Gonzales’ keyboard – a related nod to the content of their latest work. Of the eleven tracks on the new record, the Truckers played eight. They began their two hour, fifteen-minute set with a trifecta from American Band. After leading off with the reflective, mid-tempo “Guns of Umpqua,” written by co-frontman Patterson Hood after 2015’s Umpqua Community College shooting in Oregon, they launched into the rocker “Ramon Casiano” and followed with “Baggage,” setting the tone that their latest album would be the cornerstone of the show. They settled into a tight but subdued groove until Hood began the vocals on “My Sweet Annette,” a known fan favorite to which the near capacity crowd began to enthusiastically sing along. From here, the show took on a more heightened level of energy and the Truckers launched into a balanced mix of new tracks and older, rowdy favorites, skillfully alternating tracks led by Hood and cofrontman Mike Cooley. Cooley’s nasally, twangy vocals on “Marry Me” kept the crowd aroused right into Hood’s raspy, rocking “Ronnie and Neil,” one of the band’s signature tunes. Throughout the rest of the show, the DBT continued to weave in tracks from American Band, never letting things stray too far from the socially conscious thread of the latest record. They closed out
the 26-song set with a triumvirate of tracks that well encapsulates the thoughtful depth of the band. “What It Means,” a reflection on the shooting of Trayvon Martin, and “Once They Banned Imagine,” a ballad that references Clear Channel’s ban of songs not ideal for post 9/11 radio play, had the crowd transfixed, especially with the collaborative beauty of Cooley’s acoustic guitar and Gonzalez’s keys on the latter track. But through all the lyrics of gun violence and social injustice, the band finished out the show with the hopeful, heavy guitar-laden “A World of Hurt,” a track based on Patterson Hood’s self-realization that his bout with depression wasn’t going to rule his life. With it’s spoken word verses and Hood shouting the proclamation “It’s great to be alive!” before the final chorus, Cooley and Gonzalez bring the song to its culmination by deftly riffing on their guitars and sending the crowd off satiated into the city’s summer night. Setlist: Guns of Umpqua Ramon Casiano Baggage Gravity’s Gone Plastic Flowers on the Highway Filthy and Fried Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife First Air of Autumn My Sweet Annette Marry Me Ronnie and Neil Surrender Under Protest Sinkhole Women Without Whiskey The Living Bubba Made Up English Oceans Ever South Three Dimes Down The Company I Keep Kinky Hypocrite KKK Took My Baby Away Lookout Mountain Zip City What It Means Once They Banned Imagine A World of Hurt
The new Feral Ohms LP is (potentially) the blown-out heavy rock album of the year, although they didn’t play any songs from the record at this particular show because their bass player missed his flight on his way into Boston and wasn’t able to catch up to the rest of the band in time. Instead, Feral Ohms – which includes Ethan Miller from Comets on Fire, if you’ve ever heard of ‘em -- recruited Dave from Major Stars to play bass for them for the night, and then they played a High Rise cover (I’m pretty sure it was “Pop Sicle”) for 20 minutes, and that was their entire set. If you’re thinking, “gee, that sorta sounds like a let down”, well, it wasn’t; it was actually pretty damn awesome, and I’m fairly sure that I didn’t hear anyone else in the place complaining about it, even if some of them (including me, I’ll admit) were asking after it was over and the smoke had cleared: “what was that they just did?”.... Major Stars came on right afterwards to clean up the mess, or probably add onto the pile is more like it, since loud/heavy/blown-out songs with extended solos is pretty much their modus operandi anyway. I’ve seen Major Stars four times since moving to the Boston area, and they never seem to play to a full room, which is surprising since “rock”-wise they’re pretty much the best and/or most dependable live act in Boston if you wanted to sit down and be objective about it. Who else are you people going out to see instead, anyway? Never mind, I kinda like having the extra space... Honey, a noisy three-piece from Brooklyn – on Wharf Cat, a damn fine label – opened the show and held their own, which was no small achievement considering all of the heavy rock action that was going on. For a band that I can’t remember what any of their actual songs were, just a sound – kind of AmRep / late-’80s NYC scuzz rock – they were pretty alright. - Dave Brushback
- Paul Boudreau
23 Green Street New London, Connecticut Serving New London since 1933
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Cost of Living
I didn’t expect to see a full Downtown Boys album so soon after signing with SubPop, but it’s here and it’s a monster. Picking up right where 2015’s slightly better Full Communism left off, it’s 10 new ragers (plus an Interlude and an Outro…) clocking in at just under 35 minutes. I don’t know if I’d want anymore of this band in one sitting. They wear you out, mentally and physically. The LP starts with the ass kicking trio of “A Wall,” “I’m Enough” and the amazing “Somos Chulas,” the band’s best track ever. If you’re not hooked after those 10 minutes, give up. Downtown Boys are not for you. This insane Providence, RI band is much better served up live, with vocalist Victoria Ruiz and guitarist/vocalist Joey DeFrancesco leading the way, along with Joe DeGeorge on sax/keys, Mary Regalado on bass and (on the LP) Norlan Olivo on the drums. Olive has since (sadly) left the band. Right now they’re touring in Europe, and the venues will only get larger once they’re back home. Until you get the pleasure of a live DB show, this excellent LP will do nicely. Other highlights are “It Can’t Wait,” “Tonta” and “Lips That Bite,” (Well it shook me/But I won’t lay down/I won’t stay down/I can see you/There’s always a way out/With lips that bite/Teeth that bite/Lips that bite/Teeth that will bite you.) So will this album. - Marko Fontaine
Mercy Choir Fair Games self-released Paul Belbusti’s Mercy Choir is back a mere six months after the stunning and delightfully complex Like a Fountain Stirred with yet another ten songs to add to his ever growing musical legacy. Initially created to fill a solo set at his now one-year-old monthly residency at Never Ending Books in New Haven, Belbusti wrote and recorded these songs in a fairly short span of time -- though that does not detract in any way from the record’s scope and depth. Bringing his predictable unpredictability to an array of musical landscapes, Belbusti makes his way from the folky, almost confessional, nature of the opening track “Frame” to a more traditional pop rock sound with “Seems So Sweet” and “13th of July”, and then takes us on a trippy little excursion to “The Birds and Flowers of Bangladesh”. Soon after, we are introduced to the bluesy and ballsy “Cadillac Jane” and the mysterious, magical “Tallulah” while also making a couple of stops along the way for introspection and reflection in “Cheyenne” and “Last Night”. Belbusti also tosses a somewhat dark humor into the mix with “I’m Sincere”. His pleading vocals convey such lyrics as “I’m so believable, just ask my family and friends/I don’t need to play pretend” in just the right tone to make you wonder how much of what he is telling you is truth—and how much is what he hopes to be truth. The record concludes with the title track, which revisits the “skeleton” brought to light on track one and leaves listeners to their own devices as they decide whether Belbusti’s self-proclaimed “quickly” recorded album told a specific story or was just another exquisite selection of songs by a musician who simply loves to make music that is not so simple. I can’t speak for Belbusti, but I have a feeling as long as we are listening, we can think whatever we like. - Karen Ponzio
Everything I Say is a Lie self-released
By his own admission, Jack Grace can easily write “funny” songs, as evidenced by some of the tracks in his catalog. Rather than get typecast as a novelty act, Everything I Say Is A Lie puts the emphasis on his capabilities as a songwriter. One hint is that the album is credited to just him, and not the Jack Grace Band. Musically, it runs the gamut from country and folk to rock and blues, with different keyboards helping to expose his early obsession with the Beatles. “Burned By The Moonlight” begins with a hint of the mariachi influence that colored his last album, but soon turns to a bluesy shuffle. “Get Out Of Brooklyn” provides both history and a contemporary portrait of the hip borough, complete with banjo. “Run To Me” has some swampy electric piano, leading into the acoustic Neil Young stylings of “Being Poor”. “So We Run”, which closes the album, is a psychedelic folk song in a variety of tempos and a wonderful open tuning. Producer and veteran cowpunk Eric Ambel provides lead guitar all over the place, and the radiant Daria Grace offers her exquisite harmonies and bass guitar, but the big surprise is two appearances by Norah Jones, singing a duet on the grungy “Bad Wind Blowing” and joining in the responses for the classic title track, right up to the key change guaranteed to stand the hair on your neck. Lest anyone worry that he’s gone all serious on us, “Kanye West (I Hear That You’re The Best)” skewers that guy and many other media sensations, and should keep Jack from being invited to perform at any awards ceremonies anytime soon. Their loss, because “I Like You” is the kind of song any modern country singer can have a hit with just by sticking to his arrangement. Everything I Say Is A Lie is short, at nine songs, but they’re all good. It’s a shame it’s over so quickly. Modern music industry shenanigans kept the album from general release for over two years; hopefully he’s written more in the meantime. - Ward Whipple previously published at everybodysdummy.com
I tend to know Dave Shapiro, aka Alexander, more for his fingerstyle stuff than anything else, but this tape is definitely from the “anything else” category -- nearly 40 minutes of a solo electric guitar, screaming and howling -- and it’s definitely a cell-scrambler. Take all of Damon Che’s Speaking Canaries “Eddie Van Halen” guitar tone, some warming up to the Hendrix version of the Star Spangled Banner, and some Keiji Haino-style string-torturing, throw it all into a steam pot, and you’ll have this tape. I don’t really have the vocabulary to accurately describe stuff like this (hey, I’m new - what do you want?), but if you like the sounds that a really loud electric guitar makes -- as opposed to just digging riffs within the context of a song or whatever -- then I can imagine you’ll flip out over this. - Dave Brushback
Easy Killer Easy Killer
Die Hipster! Records
When you look at the cover for Easy Killer’s eponymous 10-song CD, you see pictures of 5 famous serial killers (can YOU name them all?...) and various tools of the trade, shall we say. You get the idea that this album will be a hard, fast punk rock record. Having seen Easy Killer live recently, I was hoping their energy could be successfully captured on a CD. No worries, as Branford’s Soundloft Studios did a nice job capturing their sound on this self-titled recording. The band tackles subjects such as ennui, hitting rock bottom, money issues, Jeffrey Dahmer’s punk band, (the ever topical) nuclear war and the undoing of what we knew as “American values” in our current reality show presidency. The sound is indeed loud, hard and fast, with a taste of ska-punk thrown into two or three tracks to break things up a bit, though never long enough to decrease the record’s overall intensity. With ten tracks clocking in at under 23 minutes, it’s a fast ride indeed. Easy Killer was released by the New Haven based Die Hipster! Records, a fun punk rock based label that also offers recordings by The Hornets, Marko & The Bruisers, The Black Noise Scam, The Ratz and The Lost Riots. - Marko Fontaine
Four Tet New Energy Text Records
Kieran Hebden, a producer and DJ who more famously goes under the pseudonym Four Tet, generates and continues to consistently release material at a steady pace so that listeners get their fill of solid experimental electronic dance music, yet also stay hungry, yearning for just a little more. On his ninth album (if you include the collected dance singles on Pink), he creates a set of fourteen songs that are a culmination of his own past music choices in their compositional arrangement and use of sound. In turn, he has distilled what he has explored, learned, and mastered into fresh new forms once more and as a result, the people get their fill. This latest effort is solid through and through. “LA Trance” sounds like a well-played meditative mesh of “Parallel Jalebi” and “Your Body Feels” off Beautiful Rewind. The melodicism of the synth arpeggios and far east string arrangements recall his work on the Morning/ Evening sides, but this time around, they appear crystalline as shorter sequential compact meditations (songs). For instance, “Two Thousand and Seventeen” has the flow, speed, and construction of a mid-to-low tempo hip hop instrumental, but the strings sample can jolt a listener to another place in its intricacy and arrival in the song. Equally effective in its buildup and crescendo is a burbling acid synth line in “SW9 9SL”, a deliberate club track with a bass line drop that can always get the listener in the mood to appreciate a heavy groove. Mr. Hebden is melding a wide-ranging palette of samples with nuances in its melodicism that speak to his ever-evolving take on experimental dance music. Ultimately, I find his music to be a meditation on the electronic genre that soothes and comforts me, sensually arouses my inclination to get dancing, and gives me the soundtrack to ponder the constant reinvention of the fusion between organic and electronic sounds. - Daniel Boroughs
THE TELEGRAPH New & Used Vinyl, Books, CDs & DVDs 19 Golden Street | Downtown New London, Connecticut
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Pale Space self-released
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As a name, Pale Space gets it partly right. The North Carolina transplants build intricate pop music with an essential nod to prog and jazz rock; like those acts, they wield space as a tool: a multidimensional somewhere to set the swirling and deeply thoughtful components of this band’s cut-above instrumentation. The space is bursting with color, after all. And it’s hard to stop listening. Across three songs, Pale Space shows its hand as masters of smartly earnest, infectious pop with a self-aware edge. Don’t be fooled by the shimmering sounds--hope wrestles here with self-doubt and deprecation.. “When I think about the past, I always seem to want it back, “ sings bandleader Nate Manware on “Mystery Exits.” “But if that bridge is fully burned, I’m thankful for the lesson learned.” On lead single “Lunar Ticks,” Pale Space is at its peak--pulling as much from Radiohead as Pink Floyd. - Danielle Capalbo
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After several albums of brilliant yet somewhat low-key psychpop, 2015’s Death Magic saw the Mountain Movers heading in a way-more-fried-than-normal direction, and here they plunge even further into mind-bending Kraut-y psych jams, stretching their legs out and finding grooves to settle into. Three of the five tracks here extend well beyond the seven-minute mark, and those three are easily the best tracks on the album (contrary to my usual “three chords and out” way of figuring). I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard Rick Omonte’s bass lines sound as fluid and propulsive as they do here, driving songs like “Angels Don’t Worry” and “Unknown Hours” into crescendos, the songs peaking with Kryssi Battelene’s guitar spilling out shards of noise in huge squalls while conjuring up all kinds of ghosts, Japanese or otherwise. You should see this stuff live, it’s KILLER. I generally listen to much different music at home than when I’m in my car – something to do with clean, repetitive rhythms vs. harsh, deeper listening, but don’t ask me to explain it yet -- but this is one of the few albums that suits me just as well while I’m driving as it does when I’m doing stuff around the house. A totally A+ disk, and one that’s among a small handful of my favorite albums of 2017 so far.
Occasionally an artist comes along who makes it nearly impossible to imagine a world without them in it. Neil Young is one of those artists. Young, now 71, was an integral part of the 60’s counterculture with bands like Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, as well as Crazy Horse. Though he remains nearly as popular today, Young’s most fructiferous decade was in the 70’s, when he found commercial mega success with After the Gold Rush and a little-known album (HAHA) named Harvest. Seeking to break out of the pop stardom those two albums catapulted him into, Young set out to craft songs that were darker and more stripped-down, ultimately giving way to what’s heard on the newly released Hitchhiker. Recorded in 1976, Hitchhiker is the distillation of Neil Young. No long jams or dimed Fender Deluxe distortion that blared on Zuma, which came out just a year prior. On Hitchhiker, it’s just his voice, an acoustic guitar, a piano, and his signature harmonica playing, as he effortlessly works through the ten tracks. While almost every song on Hitchhiker has found its way onto later Young albums, here they all sound brand new, with an undeniable sense of intimacy that each one evokes. Within five seconds, the listener feels Young’s presence as he sheepishly sings the opening lines to “Pocahontas.” Deviating from the louder versions found on Rust Never Sleeps and Live Rust, “Powderfinger” is one of the strongest cuts off the album. The true treasures are the two unreleased songs; the soothing “Hawaii” and the incredibly emotional break-up song, “Give Me Strength.” It’s hard to understand why Young chose not to release Hitchhiker at the time of its creation, but there is no doubt, he was on the very top of his game. The songs remind us how prolific Young truly is and Hitchhiker gives us a real glimpse into his creative process. Now that the cooler air is moving in and the leaves are changing, Hitchhiker makes a perfect Autumn soundtrack. - Nick Johns
Robert Plant Carry Fire
Nonesuch / Warner Brothers
Trouble in Mind
- Dave Brushback When New Haven’s Mountain Movers’ lineup solidified circa 2010 with Rick Omonte (bass), Ross Menze (drums), Kryssi Battalene (lead guitarist), and Daniel Greene (guitar) at the helm, their sound transitioned from the psychedelic-folk, almost-pop of their earlier releases into a distorted, heavier, darker guitarcentered psychedelia. This evolution in their sound might not sit well with some accustomed to their earlier recordings, but as for me and my ears, I am simply floored by this turn that takes center stage on their eponymous debut for Trouble In Mind records. Two long-form jammers sandwich three poplength brooding songs of crystalline modern-day psychedelia, assembling a full-length that smokes, fumes, and dances like an irrepressible fire, growing and stirring inside one’s music fan heart. This set of compositions swirl with Battalene’s and Greene’s guitar flourishes of pure unfettered distortion, charge with Omonte’s cyclic basslines (always remaining confident and in the pocket), and Menze’s motorik/jazz-inflected drumming compliments the rest of the band with an understated yet effective versatility with its restless style.
His hair may be too long and his face ever more creased, but fifty years into his commercial career Robert Plant sounds very comfortable with his voice, his instrument. Carry Fire continues with the palette set by lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar, his previous solo album, except that the rhythms here are not as overtly exotic, and the breadth of material not as wide.
Without a doubt, the highlight of their two long-burner movements is the guitar squalls and soloing of Battalene and Greene. They preach and teach the listener how to shred and explore the meandering tonalities of guitar distortion. I call this maneuver, “taking the listener out the desert.” They definitely do it with success, drop the listener there, and let them roast in the psychedelic sun.
“The May Queen” was the first preview track, and it’s fairly circular, finally breaking out in the wordless chorus. “New World…” would have been a stronger choice, as it has a driving tempo and therefore more energy. But despite its slower pace, “Season’s Song” moves like a boat on the sea, and it’s a keeper. Towards the end of “Dance With Me Tonight”, right alongside the sound of a heraldic horn, his voice finally emerges an octave higher than it’s been all album, and one can’t help but smile at its familiarity. It’s a good setup for “Carving Up The World Again”, a protest song with a tribal beat and better chorus. He’s been political before, so it’s not that big a deal, but it’s not his strong suit, and that makes “A Way With Words” something of a relief.
It’s wonderful to witness a band gracefully evolve into a sound that draws from the culmination of their past releases. Mountain Movers tread a fine line where a band can ascend in their musicianship and remain consistent in their output again and again. - Daniel Boroughs
These ears aren’t especially wowed by the balance of the album. The exotic influences return on the title track, by way of more overt loops; it improves as it builds. “Bones Of Saints” ups the tempo to a rock level again, getting a lot of steam out of the “no, no, no” chorus. He lets out a few good yells near the end, but “Keep It Hid” remains tense and restrained. “Bluebirds Over The Mountain” is a wholly original reading of the rockabilly classic, sung as a duet with Chrissie Hynde of all people, and ending with some more great yells. Finally, “Heaven Sent” ends the album very, very slowly, and fades just as it gets interesting. The previous album was so fresh and interesting that Carry Fire is already at a deficit for fair comparison. But it too reveals its strengths the more it sinks in, and he’s onto something. - Ward Whipple previously published at everybodysdummy.com
The Cut-Up Gallery .::. Curated by Danielle Capalbo Ryan Kalentkowski Understated, abstract and expressive, Ryan Kalentkowkski’s monotype and screen prints provide iconic consistency and curious improvisations. When Ryan isn’t making artwork, he is creating stunning folk music as Jacket Thor. Instagram: jacketthor Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
screen print on paper | 24” x 10” | 2017
monotype on paper | 16” x 22” 2017
monotype on paper | 8” x 10” 2017
monotype on paper | 16” x 22” 2017
monotype on paper | 2017
JoViAn is Joseph Annino, a self-taught visual artist living in Bethel, Conn., who creates a stunning array of acrylics, oils, watercolor, colored pencil, pen and ink, and mixed media works. Of his work, JoViAn says: “I just wanted to do something I could finish.” Instagram: joeaguy www.jovian.me
Diffraction no. 3
acrylic, watercolor, and watercolor pencil on paper 12x12 inches | 2017
I’m Loving It
acrylic on canvas | 24” x 36” 2016
The History of Boats in Charleston Harbor oil pastel and ink on paper 14” x 20” | 2017
Diffraction no. 5
4th of July Ride Home acrylic on canvas 18” x 26” | 2016
acrylic, graphite, chalk pastel, and watercolor pencil on paper 24” x 36” | 2017
Saint Mary’s By The Sea oil on canvas | 30” x 30” 2017
Benjamin Philbrick Benjamin is a young man from New York on the autism spectrum, and while his language is limited, he has heart, a clever and agile mind and a pair of hands that seem limitless. His artworks are based on memories, photographs, and other iconic paintings; after studying the source material meticulously, he is able to recreate the images to a tee. gallerybenjamin.net
colored pencil on paper | 39” x 14” | 2009
After The Bath
colored pencil on paper 17” x 20” | 2016
colored pencil on paper 17” x 22” | 2017
painted clay | 11” tall | 2015
Briana Drew is a visual and spoken word artist living in Danbury, Conn. Her collage creates abstract relationships between found-word poetry and disjointed yet images to evoke a wide range of emotion, memory, and questions about how we relate to ourselves and the world around us. Instagram: routinehaunting
Collage | 6.5” x 8.5” | 2017
Collage | 5” x 6.25” | 2014
Collage | 8” x 11.5” | 2016
Collage | 7.5” x 7” | 2017
Collage | 9.5” x 7.5” | 2017
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- Dave Freeburg
A few years ago I purchased my first Moog synthesizer: a Minitaur bass synth. Getting the most out of a subtle machine like that required learning and exploration, so when I wasn’t unleashing ceiling tile destroying sound waves with the little beast I’d dive to the depths of the Moog Music website. Before long I found myself gazing (perhaps drooling) at the 2016 flyer for Moogfest, the festival organized to honor the legacy of founder Bob Moog. I was immediately struck by the diversity and depth of their offerings, to the equal emphasis given to musicians and speakers and, frankly, by 60s legends Silver Apples presence on the schedule. While I’m not much of a festival goer, that last bit was reason enough to bite the bullet and make the trip to Durham, NC. Having now attended the 2016 and 2017 festivals (with my 2018 ticket already purchased), it looks like I’ve found myself a new annual ritual. Moogfest takes place over the course of four days, running from morning until deep into the night at locations throughout the small yet tech savvy city of Durham. Much of the daytime activity is located at the American Tobacco Campus, a beautifully converted historical tobacco factory complex in the southern part of the downtown. For the past two years Moog Music engineers have set up a pop-up factory where they do final assembly and testing for a brand-new product. In 2016 they reissued the famous Model D and this year they introduced the Subsequent 37, a powerful update to their recently released Sub 37 paraphonic synth.
at Moogfest capturing flamboyant artist Jeremy Ayers (an Athens fixture and dear friend of Stipe’s who passed in 2016) dancing to an electronic soundtrack composed by Stipe. And although I caught only a few moments of Suzanne Ciani’s quadrophonic performance, I sat front row center to see her receive the 2017 Moog Music Innovation award and give a lengthy interview about her origins and approach in the world of electronic music.
Peanut Butter Wolf mixes synth funk and hip hop videos at Motorco Music Hall.
Michael Stipe discusses his career as a performer and visual artist.
Other highlights for me included comedian Hannibal Burress’ often hilarious interviews with Flying Lotus and Animal Collective (together with Canadian electronic music pioneer Syrinx), and a workshop on at home synth building. On the final afternoon I had an are you kidding me moment when I noticed an event that seemed booked specifically for me: an interview with British soul/funk DJ Greg Belson and Stones Throw’s Peanut Butter Wolf (two people I admire a great deal) about collecting rare records. As the sun starts to dip at Moogfest, the synthesizers get tuned up, the crowds begin to swell with younger folks, and the energy and anticipation build. Performances take place in venues of all sizes: small bars, a 1000 seat theater, a Presbyterian church, an armory, and a large outdoor stage. While everything is walkable, festival goers put in the miles to catch everything they want to see.
Moog engineers assemble and test Subsequent 37s.
Nearby, installations and promo/retail areas are set up that allow visitors to get their hands on a wide variety of synthesizers. This year, stations displayed how to play the bass lines of songs like “Cars” by Gary Numan and “Head Like a Hole” by Nine Inch Nails on the appropriate Moog synth, and where to set each knob so the sound was just right. In the Modular Marketplace, festival goers can experiment with modules and other products while speaking with their designers. In the retail area, all of the new synths you’ve been lusting over are plugged in with headphones at the ready. This is where the spirit of the festival begins to kick in. Bob Moog always sought to experiment, innovate and inspire. By getting your hands (and ears) on the equipment and making sounds that are sometimes familiar and sometimes utterly bizarre, and by meeting people that make these instruments or discussing them with others like you self, you can begin to visualize yourself as a participant in this world of knobs and wires rather than just a consumer. I started each day of the festival at the Tobacco Campus for an interactive sonic charge up, and then I’d grab a coffee and explore Durham. Before the musical performances begin (at around 5:00), the festival offers an assortment of lecture, live interviews, outdoor interactives and workshops all within reasonable walking distance. This year I saw Michael Stipe give an inspiring interview about his history as a performer and the video installation he featured
This year featured killer DJ sets that celebrated different eras and genres of synthesized music. DJ Premier walked through hip hop history with special dedications to the late MCA of the Beastie Boys and Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest, a deadly classic breaks section, and of course all of the GANG STARR you could ask for. Derrick May, one of the founders of Detroit techno, offered a set of deep, minimal techno that exploded within the walls of the armory. Peanut Butter Wolf, who is known his use of Serato Video (which allows a DJ to mix video files with two turntables), dedicated much of his set to early 80’s underground synth funk. I’d never heard any of those songs, much less seen the videos.
As is generally the case at Moogfest, this year’s lineup was a brain buzzing blend of contemporary artists and industry legends. On a strictly sensory level, Flying Lotus’ set may have taken the show for me. While he is a DJ playing recordings (and does not actually manipulate synthesizers live), his complex mixes heard through the massive sound system with his multi-screen, three-dimensional future psychedelic visual display were an absolute feast.
Detroit techno pioneer Derrick May spins at the Durham Armory.
Throughout Moogfest (during both years I’ve attended) I felt the undeniable sense of pure joy. The opportunities laid before every attendee to play, experiment, question, discuss, listen, feel and dance are as awe inspiring as they are plentiful. Analog synthesizers are currently undergoing an incredible renaissance, with brand new as well as re-issued classic products hitting the market almost daily at historically low prices. The future for these instruments looks very bright, and I have no doubt that Moogfest will continue to be an important meeting place for performers, creators, learners and listeners to connect and push electronic music forward.
S U R V I V E gave two performances: a reimagined Stranger Things score in the Carolina Theater and a set featuring their other original music in the Armory. Both sets were master classes for the generation of luscious sounds with a variety of vintage synths.
Simeon of Silver Apples performs at Motorco Music Hall in 2016.
Tuesday’s from 9am-12noon on WCNI 90.9 FM streaming live on iHeart Radio and Tunein. wcniradio.org & Facebook.
S U R V I V E performs in the Durham Armory.
Blues, Soul, Funk and a whole lotta enthusiasm!
Back Against the Wall with...
Jonny Disaster Cry Havoc have been a staple in the Connecticut punk scene for over a decade now. They are easily the most prominent band in the scene today. Frontman Jonny Disaster also helps the CT Punk scene stay alive by bringing rock solid bands to the state to share the stage with other Connecticut punk rockers. Check out some things Jonny had to say with his back against the wall!
Connecticut Clan: UZOO
Sometimes the best things just seem to happen with a whole lot of luck, a little bit of serendipity, and some hard-fought elbow grease thrown in for good measure. How else to explain the sudden rise of arguably the hottest hip hop act to come out of Connecticut this year – the Hartford collective known as UZOO? Formed almost directly out of a series of charity events this group of artists, each with their own modicum of success within the CT hip hop scene, has a new album in hand, invitations to stages all over New England, and a sense of purpose that goes beyond individual glory. Over the last few years Hartford school teacher turned local hip hop legend, Joey Batts, has produced his annual “Hip Hop For The Homeless” shows, a series of events used to drive awareness of and collect items for Connecticut’s homeless population. It was through these shows that Batts realized something bigger was brewing. “I started to see how much energy & entertainment we could supply when a bunch of us talented performers were together on stage,” says Batts. “I started to make a small list in my head, and reached out to eight members in December of 2015.” The list of original eight members would blossom over the next 18 months and as Batts put it the group “moved in silence” at first allowing the original singles and videos to speak for themselves. The strategy worked as not only were fans eagerly gobbling up what was being given to them, they were equally champing at the bit from the start to find out just who was behind it all. Behind the scenes though Batts had assembled quite the cast of characters to help bring the vision to life: Murf & Rudy from long-running Hartford act Clas!ck, Jobo (“the infamous BEARGOD” as Batts calls him), Ty-HookZ & CrissB.Amazing who make up AQMNI, singer-songwriter Qusharia Perry, Sloth, formerly of Funk Gero, Cre8 previously from the Rustoes and currently with The Centinels, Wrex Mason as a producer, and Jaden Castro, formerly of The Voyagers and Funk Gero. Rounding out the group is Michael Detelj, a late addition, as a primary videographer, but as Batts attested, “His songwriting and vision has quickly elevated his popularity in the ZOO.” Anyone who has been paying attention to Connecticut hip hop over the last decade will recognize many of the names listed above, as well as several of the group member’s current and former acts. But the appeal of UZOO has reached well beyond the usual suspects dotting the many hip hop shows taking place all over the state. That outreach recently culminated in an appearance at the Glastonbury Apple Harvest Festival – a show that saw them sandwiched between a world-renowned singer-songwriter, and one of the hottest blues/rock bands in Connecticut. They stormed the stage, a jug of apple cider in hand, and proceeded to convert literally hundreds of people who would have never given them a second look beforehand. Their Do Not Feed The Animals mixtape, originally released in July of 2016, was the perfect showcase for their individual talents, and there’s no doubting that talent exists from top to bottom in UZOO. In a scene where the machismo of constantly trying to be ‘best’ often reigns supreme, could egos be checked at the door of the ZOO? Batts seemed to think so. “I think we navigated the issues with ego early on with me assuming the role of the “Elder” in the group,” said Batts. “This was beneficial in order to get things done, and complete certain deadlines that we established. As we grew, and worked more and more together, and toured, and took car trips the members of UZOO definitely grew, and matured, and lately they are focusing more on individual sounds that they want to create. Egos will always be present and large, but I would make an argument that anyone in music with little or no ego may not be worth the time or effort.” This past September saw the end result of almost two years of toil and hustle with the release of UZOO’s first proper full-length album, The Youngest. While the amalgamation of talent is immediately evident, where UZOO stands out among other so-called super groups is their ability to allow each artist to spread their wings. It’s a delicate balance to walk between the perceived UZOO aesthetic and each member’s own flair, but it’s a balance that Batts seems to think they’ve struck. “As a ten person group, many Hip Hop heads want us to create songs like the infamous Wu-Tang - songs filled with all members, the majority of us on songs together, writing posse cuts, or long songs with no chorus,” said Batts. “However the majority of members want to create meaningful songs with more musicality and melodies, more choruses, more ‘easy-to-listen-to’ songs. As UZOO continues to grow, these are the speed bumps that we continue to work on.” As clichéd as it sounds, the sky truly is the limit for UZOO. The desire to take their show on the road to bigger and more diverse audiences, coupled with a savvy eye towards mixed medium performances, video, and overall marketing will soon potentially open doors that few Connecticut acts get to walk through. But if there’s one lesson these kids from Hartford can learn from a fellow CT act like Apathy, it’s that the golden ring (or rings in this case) is there for the taking. All they need to do is keep feeding the animals. - Chip McCabe
1. Cry Havoc has been pushing hard for over a decade now. What makes the band tick so well? I would have to say 1 of the biggest things is that we were all friends before the band got started. i think that is def a big part of it. we all have an understanding of what our goals are as a band and we love what we do! 2. Connecticut has a really good punk scene. What do you feel sets it apart from other punk scenes you have witnessed. The ct scene has been great, we’re very honored to be a part of it! i think one of the things that sets us apart from other scenes is our location. we’re right in between nyc and mass which have both spawned some of the greatest punk & hardcore bands, so it’s really cool that we can draw bands from both areas for shows and stuff. it’s really awesome that we can network with bands from NY, MA and RI since we share a border with all of them. definitely a perk of being in new england! 3. Cry Havoc play a ton of shows outside Connecticut. Where do you enjoy playing out of state? This goes hand in hand with the last question! New England perks!! We’ve been very very fortunate to have been able to play outside of ct on some absolutely amazing shows! we’ve always had a great time in Boston & NYC. They’ve welcomed us into their scenes like family and we’ve made a lot of friends in both cities. we always look forward to playing up in Albany, NY too! we’ve also had some really great shows in VT also. always a good time up there! 4. What is the one thing you feel is missing from the Connecticut scene? It’s hard to say. we’ve lost a few venues that were staples to our scene which was a real bummer, but i think that’s a obstacle in every scene. We’ve still got some really great places that have been very kind to let us do shows and put up with our bullshit, hahaha! We have seen a decrease in the younger crowd at shows. We’ve found a couple places for all ages shows but it can be hard to commute when you’re a kid! there is an ebb and flow with every scene over time. im sure we’ll see the kids coming out to more all ages shows! 5. On the flip side what does Connecticut have to offer for out of state/area bands looking for shows. We’re right in between 2 of the biggest cities in the Northeast! We’re a great stop for touring bands, and our local scene has killer bands to support! 6. What are you currently listening to? I’ve been listening to the new frank carter and the rattlesnakes album “modern ruin”. a lot. i fucking love that record. been listening to a lot of 90’a straight edge hardcore from europe. Our friends in damn broads, enziguri, m-13, easy killer & the warning shots just put out new albums which ive been listening too a lot. fucking awesome stuff! 7. Any advice for young kids that want to start a band? Do it. Be patient, set attainable goals, be patient, take it seriously, put your heart into it, support other local bands & shows, and most importantly: have fun!! 8. What drew you into punk rock? Knowing that i didn’t fit in with my “peers” and the rest of my surroundings. punk rock was the first music that i felt a real connection with, and i still feel that connection today. 9. Is it true that you should never trust a hardcore kid who has never listened to Punk Rock? I believe so, but that just me, hahaha 10. In no particular order what are your 5 favorite records of all time? Oh dear god. i could wrestle over that for the rest of fucking life, haha!! I’d have to say some of my favorites would be: - the freeze “one false move” - converge “jane doe” - rancid “...and put come the wolves” - slap shot “ 16 valve hate” - american nightmare “ background music” - bad brains “rock for light” - the business “we want the truth, the whole truth & nothing but the truth” - warzone “don’t forget the struggle, don’t forget the streets” - afi “shut your mouth and open your eyes” - minor threat “discography” - blood for blood “outlaw anthems” - gorilla biscuits “start today” - dead kennedys “plastic surgery disasters” - dropkick murphys “do or die” - descendents “everything sucks” .... i’m going to stop there. this could go on forever... -Jeffrey Thunders
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Devoted to Rhode Island:
Roz & The Rice Cakes - Chris Daltry Honest and unpretentious aren’t words that would normally be used to describe proggy indie art rock music, but that’s the vibe I get from the Providence band Roz And The Rice Cakes. And beyond making great music, they’ve also become role models for younger people in a lively scene they’ve carved out for themselves in an ever-changing city that has always offered up amazing music - just none before that matches what they do communitywise. It reminds me of what the punk and straight-edge scenes of the 1980s-’90s used to be like, looking out for one another by creating safe spaces where any bad apples are called out, policing things themselves instead of relying on cops who wouldn’t get what the scene is all about. That’s special. And what’s equally remarkable is their willingness to make moodiness their musical statement. That’s something that takes guts, as it’s something that could be lost on some people, but they stay focused enough to get trippy and not lose you. Pop music often is largely meaningless dribble, but it’s also the foundation for lots of the best indie music out there these days. On a sunny early Fall day recently, the Rice Cakes stopped over to talk with me about their new and second full length album Devotion. It’s a slight reinvention, but not a complete departure from their debut Need To Feed. But what’s different with Devotion is that its moody, mysterious and spacy sounds are its theme, with spacey sounds but not so pretty subjects. What also carries these songs are quick moving and driving drum beats that are both chill and intense at the same time, along with other parts that are spare, leaving lots of space for emotions to thrive and draw you in. It’s subtly experimental moody pop music. The Rice Cakes have made an incredibly cohesive album that’s experimental without straying and losing your interest. In a way, Devotion has its feet in other decades of sounds - especially retroish synths, something that’s often used to be weird instead of pop in the indie world, but that’s what makes this group and record special. It’s dreamy, pretty, and it also veers off into sci-fi and weird - good weird. There’s also growth here in the interwoven singing and lyrics of Roz Raskin and Casey Belisle throughout the album that adds depth with her sweetness contrasting with his rawer singing. But Roz’s voice tell her tales with conviction and character missing from so many bands. And so do the grooves Casey and bassist Justin Foster lay down, where drum dynamics in the recordings seem to rely on space created by room mics and space instead of being slammed with compression that would’ve left them flat. This is a result of the band finding a sympathetic and understanding team to help them out in the studio, that of Brad Krieger and Chaimes Parker of Big Nice Studio in Lincoln, RI (bignicestudio.com). Brad is an old friend of Casey’s : “we even still play in the band 14 Foot 1 together” and Justin says that “Brad’s playing with Casey, he knows what he should sound like on the drums.” Big Nice turned out to be the perfect place for the Rice Cakes to develop their raw new ideas into their new album, except for when people stopped by
thinking it was the bait and tackle shop that used to be in the space: Justin said that “while recording, people would come by and be disappointed they couldn’t rent a kayak or buy some bait,” but otherwise recording there was a great experience: “Brad’s got great equipment, a great ear, but I think what really helped us, because I don’t always play the way people expect you to play the drums, kind of all over the place, Brad just got it, that was great” says Casey. “Brad and Chaimes played a pretty big role, making suggestions for each of us to try playing parts on different equipment” said Justin, and Casey added “we went into the studio with very loose ideas, not knowing where things would go. Chaimes is super-positive. They want everybody who records there feel super comfy and just capture whatever they do, to guide you along, with instruments or otherwise.” But at first, Roz was hesitant to record there, because in the past she and Brad had rubbed each other the wrong way over the years, but through recording this album they warmed up to one another and she now has so much respect and admiration for his work and they’ve become good friends. She says they’ve both been humbled and have grown as people, so in the end it was really nice working together - “there’s a very positive energy to what they do there, it was definitely one of my favorite recording experiences ever.” This is all after the band had taken a year-and-a-half hiatus. None of them knew what the future of the band was, but in the end “it was healthy to take that time off” says Casey. They took some personal time, figured out some things here at home in Rhode Island, and “had a band meeting to see if the band was even going to exists anymore, change the name, start over, we’d taken so much time apart, who knew if we’d be able to get into a room together and write well together. I think it was a lot of communication at that moment, like how should we try this, should we see how this goes? But the writing was good. I felt I hadn’t written so long and missed being collaborative, bringing ideas together at one time, together” said Roz. They stuck with all new ideas - “everything that’s on this record had never been played out before” says Justin, and Casey adds that “it still feels fresh to play the new songs, opposed to how things were, where we’d say, here we go again, playing the same songs over and over.” What also seems to have made getting things rolling again easier is all the time the band had spent rehearsing and playing live together over the years. “Even though we’d taken time off, this album came easy because of all of the collective time we’d put in together over the years, and the writing process was cool, in that we were less attached to ideas and could more easily see if things were working or not” said Casey. “It was a log of bouncing ideas off each other” Roz added. She also told me about
how many of the songs began with her and Casey, but that Justin has kind of become the band’s producer, arranging songs that she and Casey had begun. “Yeah, we’ve done things a little differently this time” said Justin. Roz: “Casey and I wrote a lot of the lyrics and parts of the songs, but when you bring those things into a band setting, Justin feels out the entire environment that the songs live in and brought in a lot of other ideas that are essential in the making the songs what they are,” and when asked about the new synth heavy sonics of Devotion, she told me that “the lyrical pallette led to that, and overall it worked well because we were all into the vibes that were happening. But the extra noises that we did sonically on the record were never meant to be too farfetched, because we wanted to be able to play them live. But each of us now have extra equipment” to cover that ground. This band has grown together since first starting out. They’re now all in their late-20s and are now bringing their own influences and experiences to what they do as people and musicians. “I feel like at this point we are a machine that works. There are roles that each of us play, the booking that Justin does at the News Cafe in Pawtucket is a role, booking bands when I can’t do something at my house, that’s just as much of a role as what I do. And Casey does a ton of our artwork, things that I just don’t do” says Roz, who takes care of most of the band’s booking, social media and stuff like that, but “it’s not just me, Roz. These two guys, people love them. They’re warm people for bands to come meet.” Casey adds “when going into different scenes, we try to create a welcoming presence, no matter what, and we haven’t gone back to places that don’t receive that vibe well.” They also work as a team on the road, taking turns driving, and “always bring another person with us on tour, whatever that person can provide, whether it’s being a good photographer, breaking up the vibe, helping with driving, being a bouncer when there’s trouble at shows, it’s good to have an extra person” says Casey. Roz told me that even though it had been a year and a half since they’ve toured, their last tour was the band’s best one yet, with them starting to see people come back to see them repeatedly. So they’re especially looking forward to getting back on the road again. And as noted before, what I feel sets the Rice Cakes apart from many other bands is that they are about community, both at home and when they’re away touring. They’ve sought out bands that share their vibe and ethics, and because of that they’ve been welcomed and have become part of other scenes up and down the East Coast where they’ve in some cases gone from playing small DIY house shows to larger venues as their following has grown. Roz said “I stay as up to date as I can on what’s happening in all our different communities, even when we take breaks from touring. We’re drawn to play places where a wide variety of people can come to, but we go into these DIY communities to find warmth and understanding in alternative communities, but sometimes they can be so insular, in ways that as you get older you see it’s hard to navigate those spaces, and you want to keep the cops out.” And at home they play host to out of town bands either at house shows or through Justin’s booking at the News Cafe. It all boils down to community. Roz has given the whole idea of DIY a lot of thought and has come to feel it should actually be called DIT (“do it together”), as a scene is never a singular thing - there is no scene with just yourself. Roz said “I feel like my issue with
19 the term DIY is that in general when you put something together, it’s never done by just one person alone. Realising how many people contribute to the success of a show, and working with a incredible group of people who just want to be part of it.” And like many bands, the Rice Cakes had to create their own scene, because they didn’t feel like they fit in early one.” There was so much noise and Americana in Providence, and things were very male-dominated” says Roz. Similarly, the Providence band the Low Anthem had to do the same thing earlier on, and seeing their special local shows after finishing school at Brown was likely helpful in the Rice Cakes’ figuring out how to find their place locally. They were even asked to play the Low Anthem’s legendary 2011 Smart Flesh record release show in a long vacant pasta factory that brought over a thousand fans from miles away to be part of it. But they grew their own following and got a big break after winning the WBRU Rock Hunt back in 2012, which got them lots of airplay and a slot in the BRU Summer Concert Series that helped them become one of Providence’s most popular live acts. The band (and many other local bands) have Wendell Gee to thank for being included and promoted by the station, which recently went off the air after their board of directors sold off the station. “We were played on BRU a lot, and that had a lot to do with Wendell” and winning the Rock Hunt “is something that we’ve carried with us since” said Casey, and Roz added “most bands that won the Rock Hunt didn’t know what to do after that. But at that time, we had cultivated a wide variety of people who were coming to see our shows, regardless of where we played. So when we played the Rock Hunt finals, we brought the most people” which brought an energy not just for the band, but for the audience “but that didn’t just happen. We spent years touring and playing to get to the point when people were coming to see us play, and it paid off. But we’re still working our jobs and doing our own things.” Out of curiousity, I asked the band what music has influenced them, both now and when they were growing up. Like most bands, their influences are both shared and unique. One thing I found interesting is that all their dads play music, so that’s something that’ll make a kid turn into a musician themselves. Casey told me that “growing up it was a lot of percussion based music my parents listened to, and stuff like John Denver. Then I found Green Day and punk, then nerdy prog stuff, and now i really appreciate that progressive nerdiness - Battles, Lightning Bolt too, but I also love progressive electronic music like James Blake, Mount Kimbie, and experimental
hip hop too, like Flying Lotus, with live instrumentation and electronics together is what i like, it’s what I’m all about right now. I think before it was all about drums, but now it’s a mesh of instrumention. Discovering Jazz helped me grow too. Favorites back then and now? Blink 182 back then, now Mount Kimbie.” When it came to Roz, I remembered first meeting her years ago when she was still in high school. I’d stopped over her house to see her dad. When he answered the door, I came into the house and there was Roz sitting at a keyboard practicing. What are the chances that that kid would turn into what she is today? She told me that she’s been influenced by seeing and hearing “her dad’s bands over the years, Santana, the Grease soundtrack, Little Mermaid’s soundtrack - seen that movie maybe 500 times. Later I was always drawn to catchy pop music, NSYNC, Destiny’s Child, TLC - R&B made a huge impact on my life, I loved J-Lo, but then around the same time I was playing jazz. We all came from these different places. I started writing my own songs back in 5th or 6th grade, and was singing with a friend. Then my dad showed me some chords, got me involved in jazz band at school playing with lots of older kids. Then in high school I got into bands like the Mars Volta, Radiohead - OK Computer changed my life when I first heard it at maybe 18 or 19. I was a little bit late to Radiohead. That sort of thing just wasn’t around me when I was in public school in Providence, where almost everyone just listened to hip hop.” I noted that at that age, bands like Radiohead and Sigur Ros, it’s not stuff that gets usually played on the radio, so it’s often other people, friends, that turn you on to it, which she agreed with, saying “records like OK Computer, hearing it years after it had come out and wondering when it was released, because it sounded so new, but in reality it was just that other new bands with those sorts of sounds were just catching up to it - it really did blow my mind, and Casey has told me about a lot of bands over the years, he’s always searching” (Casey added: “always on the hunt”). You obviously can’t make the same record over and over, so discovering and listening to new music helps you turn over new leafs. If you’ve heard a lot of music, you get ideas for yourself. Justin told me that “the band that struck me on multiple levels groing up was Nine Inch Nails, which I respect for production and live performances. I hid their CDs behind stuff like Green Day so my parents wouldn’t find them, Marilyn Manson, the dark metal world I secretly loved. NIN still resonates with me and I’d consider them my favorite band ever, but now I’m not as angsty as I was, but it still resonates. But now I like bands like
PUNK ROCK METAL MORE
NEW LONDON, CONNECTICUT
Battles, and I like Deerhoof a lot, and I listen to a lot of dark synth - ‘80s driving retro music like soundtrack to the movie Drive, Kavinsky, perturbator, Carpenter Brut, Lazerhawk... synth heavy stuff. It’s like metal, but without the masculinity.” So after taking a break to collect themselves, the Rice Cakes are back at it. Their label Team Love agreed to put their new album out even before hearing it. And now that it’s out, they’re curious to know how people will react to it. “This is the first record that we feel we’d done right, where we finished the record months ahead of putting it out. The artwork was done, the video was done, here you go label, give us your timeline” said Justin, and Roz noted that “you have to have a plan before you put something out or it’ll just get lost.” But here at home, the challenge of getting the word out is harder than ever, with supporters like WBRU and the Providence Phoenix gone, but they’ll do what they can, they’ll do it their own way, and that’s the right way - the DIT way: “I just don’t know any other way to be. Now more than ever things seems to really be coming together in a really rad way, and if you’re doing it any other way, it’s just not very interesting to me.” We also talked about their roots and why they have no interest in leaving RI for a bigger ‘music city’ and Justin told the that he just “doesn’t feel it’s necessary anymore, cos the internet transcends all that living in New York or LA stuff” and Roz chimed in to say that she “can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people say, yeah I’m moving to Brooklyn for music, but for me, a success of the band is staying local. This whole band is from Rhode Island - we’re from here, and we’re still here. A lot of bands in this scene are not truly from RI but are repping the state. But we were all born and raised here, we lived our early lives here, so we understand the state in a different mentality, we’ve been here seeping in it - we’re very much a Rhode Island band” and that’s a very unique position to be in, and Rhode Island is lucky to have them here.
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T H E
Prince’s Pine Reverb Worship
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Right on the heels of her last album Songs The Songbird Sings is Allysen Callery’s latest release Prince’s Pine. This EP was recorded by Myles Baer, who is best known for recording Marissa Nadler’s first record Fifty Five Falls in 2004. He’s also worked with Allysen before, recording her first four records, and also playing with her in a group they once had together called Land of Nod.
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To get a better idea of what Prince’s Pine is all about, I stopped over Allysen’s house to see what she had to say. The album is named after a small plant that grows in the forest, and “they’re all pining songs, recorded one afternoon during July 2017, drinking wine in a greenhouse on the edge of the woods in Attleboro, Massachusetts with the sounds of birds and acorns rolling off the roof” and it’s exactly “the record I wanted to make, lo-fi with ambient sounds of nature” says Callery. She also says that “they are all kind songs.” Here are more of Allysen’s thoughts on these songs:
Lilly Hiatt Trinity Lane
New West Records Lilly Hiatt decided it was time to strip down to simplicity and honesty. After too many heartbreaks, alcohol abuse and the weight of a haunting, childhood loss, the Nashville-based roots rocker realized she needed a major dose of introspection and self-evaluation. She moved to the eastern outskirts of town and replaced men and booze with a pen and guitar. What was born from this intimate examination is her outstanding third studio album, Trinity Lane – titled after the average, everyday street on which she tore open her life’s scars and transcribed them into raw, emotional verse. Produced by Michael Trent of Shovels and Rope, the record is as much country as it is grunge – a nod to the influences of both her father, legendary roots artist John Hiatt, and the flannel-laden rock of the 1990’s. Heavy, fuzzy guitars and reverb mashed with Memphissoaked piano, pedal steel and Hiatt’s twangy punk vocal style give Trinity Lane its authentic, unique sound. But what lifts the album to outstanding status is her ability to craft such vulnerable, soul-baring lyrics. “The Night David Bowie Died” is remorseful and apologetic to her lover in a relationship gone bad. Her infusion of the familiar Seattle sound is well-suited to the track and drives home the weight of her responsibility in the breakup, a musical recipe that would make the Thin White Duke himself beam with pride. Hiatt’s diversity then stretches from the sunny, jangly Jayhawks-like “I Wanna Go Home,” to the pondering countrified ballad “Different, I Guess,” inclusive of its syllabically forced chorus line. And for good measure, “Sucker” is a song that could reside quite comfortably on a Coldplay album, with its dreamlike guitar riff and wavy keys. But Trinity Lane shines brightest on the record’s title track and the deeply baring “Imposter.” It is on these two songs that Hiatt deftly shows the contrast between the contentment of her present and anguish of her past. “Trinity Lane” is upbeat and self-aware; it’s frenetic piano and ripping guitar solo provide energy to a song that clearly aims to elicit hopefulness. And from the opening lines, it’s obvious Hiatt is successfully beating back her more recent demons of alcohol and lovers, “I get bored, so I wanna get drunk/I know how that goes, so I ain’t gonna touch it/I get bored, and wanna find someone/I know how that goes, so I ain’t gonna rush it.” She goes on later in the song, rejoicing in the comfort and of her newfound healthier, ordinary lifestyle; “Sarah’s downstairs and she’s singing/I smell garlic cooking, I think this is better.” With “Imposter,” Hiatt exposes the painful memory of her mother’s suicide when she was just a year old. It’s a mid-tempo track that chugs like a slow-moving train; a steady back beat surrounded by haunting guitars and a sorrowful pedal steel. Lyrically, it is wonderfully composed with pockets of imagined conversation between Hiatt and her father on how they’ve managed through their lives together and how much she relied on him despite his long absences as a touring musician. The song gets its title in the opening line with her father’s declaration; “He said, ‘I feel like an imposter, took me ‘til 62 to realize I’m good at what I do.’” Yet later in the song, Hiatt rejects his selfimposed label; “I say, ‘You are no imposter, you’re the real thing/It’s a guiding light when I hear you sing.’” While the song is a tempered celebration of her relationship with her father through such devastating loss, she recognizes the inherent characteristics her late mother may have passed her; “I wonder if we’d like each other/You know how I get so mad/Is that the same red temper that she had/There’s shame and there’s hard luck/She gave me some tough girl stuff.” But Hiatt snaps back to reality as she closes out the track, “she’s never coming back, I think we both know that,” and returns to her dad in the repeating outro, “I count on you.” - Paul Boudreau
“First Amongst the Flowers” is an obsessive song of unrequited love that makes you feel parchced, like being in a garden under a relentless sun. “Dark Winged Sparrow” is a love song to a person who is morose, and more in love with the idea of darkness and death. The baroque finger picked guitar style for this song was influenced by Mike Bruno of the Philadelphia area band the Shadow Band. “Prince of the Morning” is an upbeat song for Allysen, about a friendship, a snapshot into the morning of a person who has a lot to say - a lot of black and white ideas of things he loves and hates, where there’s no middle ground, leading you back into introspection. “When You Are Awakening” is just a morning song, hoping it’d be an alarm clock song for people to wake up to, waiting for the birds to show up. “They Killed my Crippled Prince with the Sea Glass Eyes” is a song written the very day one of my favorite songwriters quit music (Birdengine) who said “there’s only so many sad songs a man can sing.” Prince’s Pine was released by the German label Reverb Worship, who made a small run of handmade CDs that sold out almost immediately. Allysen has repressed it with her own handmade packaging as well, and it’s available to stream and download online on bandcamp. - Chris Daltry
Queens of the Stone Age Villains...
XL / Matador
For an artist, successfully redefining yourself is no simple task. Breaking out of the comfort zone to create something new and unchartered scares some so much that they never even attempt it. For Josh Homme, mastermind behind Queens of The Stone Age, shedding his skin every few years and stepping into the unknown is something we’ve all come to expect. Homme, now 44, along with help from pop Producer superstar Mark Ronson, has once again done just that with Villains, QOTSA’s 7th full length. Many were skeptical, including myself, once it was confirmed that Ronson was producing the new QOTSA album. After all, Ronson, who has found success working with mega pop acts such as Adele, Lady Gaga, and Bruno Mars, was a highly unlikely contender to help sculpt a new sound for arguably one of the most original and best hard rock bands of the last 20 years, but Villains doesn’t disappoint. The album oozes coolness and sex appeal, with an emphasis on hip shakin’ in a world that desperately needs reminders as to why rock still matters. The intro to Villains is immediately hypnotizing. Reverb-saturated guitars scratch at your insides, while drums begin a pulsing Native American-like beat. The album is synth-heavy in general and the Moog tones used on the intro are almost reminiscent of the “Stranger Things” theme. Queue the primal chants off in the distance, sliding up the scale until all moving parts merge and peak at the same time. Just as the listener adjusts themselves to the mind explosion that’s happening, Jon Theodore’s snare rips into the first song. “Feet Don’t Fail me now”, a dancy Bowie/ZZ top hybrid sets the stage for the entire sonic trip the listener is about to embark on. “Fortress” is moody and beautiful, while “Head Like a Haunted House” is the drug Adrenochrome in audio format. The addicting Mark Bolin-infused “Un-Reborn Again” is a perfect example of the new direction the band is going in and “The Evil Has Landed” is the essence of QOTSA, ominous, spaced-out, and pure power. While Villains might not be the best Queens record, it doesn’t have to be. Even a bad QOTSA album (and I’m not saying Villains is bad!) is eons better than the top mainstream output from current rock bands. Anyone looking for a fun listen and an affirmation that rock n roll is alive and well should give it a spin. Also, the extra art and stickers by Boneface, from the deluxe vinyl, is money very well spent.
CONNECT · COLLABORATE · COMMUNICATE Find, share, and coordinate upcoming events in your community!
- Nick Johns
Homegrown WESU 88.1 Middletown, CT with your host Robbie DeRosa Thursday 5:05-6:30pm wesufm.org for the live webcast
Rebroadcast friday at 7pm on cygnusradio.com
DEAD AIR RADIO Hugh Birdsall, Peter Detmold, & Paul Sweeney Wednesdays 6-9pm
WCNI 90.9 New London, CT
Can You Hear in Back? A Tribute to Tom Weigel
- Jake St. John A man wearing plaid on plaid steps up onto the small stage at the back of the original Bean & Leaf on Washington St. He places his briefcase on a nearby chair and opens it. He begins shuffling through some papers and then taps the microphone at the front of the stage then turns to adjust the sound system. He speaks a few welcoming remarks in to the mic before turning again to turn the appropriate knobs on the amp. He begins his remarks again, pauses and looks out at the crowd, hands agape, he asks, “Can you hear in the back?” The audience gives a “thumbs up” which is returned by the host. This was the usual routine on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings during Tom Weigel’s successful Poetry Open Mic. It was during these open mics that he would introduce listeners and poets to a new vision of poems, new poets and new poetry magazines.It wasn’t so much an open mic as it was an artistic experience. Tom Weigel was born in New York in 1948 and found his way to the shores of New London in the early 1990’s. He began hosting poetry open mics in New London Connecticut at Muddy Waters (Mugg’s) in 2002. “Tom made sure the readings were always democratically inclusive,” said poet and friend Dave Kennedy. All voices had equal say. Many young and local poets found their footing in this small backroom on Bank St every Sunday afternoon. In 2006, the open mic found itself without a home and was invited to the now defunct Joyce Ellen Art Gallery and then traveled briefly to the Golden Street Gallery before. In 2008, the open mic found a permanent home every Thursday night and Sunday afternoon at the original Bean & Leaf. Though Tom led a band of young misfit poets, he was far from a newcomer. Tom made his bones on the Lower East Side as a member of the 3rd generation of New York School Poets. Tom participated in the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church. Writing Audrey Hepburn’s Symphonic Salad And The Coming Of Autumn, Little Heart, A Hot Little Number (with Michael Scholnick), and editing the popular anthology, Tangerine (1981-1986). Tom often told stories of his time spent with Jackie Curtis and Ted Berrigan. Once relaying a humorous story involving Allen Ginsberg chasing him down a New York street after a reading in order to get Tom to sign his book he’d just purchased. Tom continued his editing ways in New London by collecting poems from local poets who had read at Muddy Waters and published The Backroom Poets in 2005. This would lead to the birth of the New London School of Poets. When 2008 rolled around, New London School poets had been popping up in numerous magazines around the country, such as Unarmed Journal (St. Paul, Minnesota), Out of Our (San Francisco, California) and even had an issue of Fell Swoop out New Orleans, Louisiana dedicated to the New London School of Poets. It was at this time that Tom ran a special issue of TANGERINE, featuring many New London School poets. Tom then began editing Burp, a digest of experimental poetry (2008-2014). This anthology was Tom’s passion. Burp would feature poets from around the world, as well as New London School poets. In total, there were 12 issues of Burp. Burp lives on today as OZ Burp, edited by Pete Spence in Australia every October. In between hosting open mics, and editing a magazine, Tom found the time to publish multiple books, among them Portrait of a Playwright: The Jackie Curtis Story, (Nameaug Press), Haiku You Can Squeeze (Accent Editions) and A Faint Humming (One Time Press). As great of an accomplish this was, Tom was most proud when his poems would show up in a magazine he admired. He often would tell poets “don’t worry about a book of poems get your poems in magazines.” Tom held firm in this belief: “’Zines are the shooting range!” -Tom Weigel (in a letter to Jake St. John, dated August 2017) Tom’s impact on New London poetry is immense, which is why he’s affectionately known as, The Godfather of Poetry City. Tom would advise poets on where to send their poems based on style and technique. Tom would also help poets discover the editing process, the how, why, and where a poem needed to be tweaked. Tom’s dedication to New London poetry was rewarded and acknowledged by Mayor Daryl Finizio, who presented him with a Proclamation from The City of New London for his service to poetry. In the fall of 2014, Tom relocated to Chester, New York to live closer to his devoted sister, Monica. Through phone calls and letters, he continued to check in on the status of New London poetry. He was ecstatic to find out his open mic continued on at the Washington Street café hosted by Anita Dees, on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. Tom’s impact on the New London art scene continues to resonate like the jazz you could once hear on Tilley St floating out of his apartment window late at night and into the streets of New London. Many of Tom’s students can be found in poetry magazines around the world, both in print and online, from New London to Australia to the United Kingdom. Daniel Boroughs, a New London School poet reminisced fondly on Tom, “I loved Tom, the man and what he stood for, the work ethic he championed, and the inspiration he gave people to thrive as artists. He was of pure spirit and a good soul. And his poetry open mics were the threshold where community and art crossed paths. He was a living encyclopedia of the poetic mind.” In the fall of 2004 I met Tom on a Sunday morning. We immediately had a bond and he took me under his wing. Tom showed me that there was a world of poetry out there I had yet to discover. He gave me the confidence to read in public and to write the truth. He helped me find my voice. He put the right books in my hand at the right times. Tom taught me that in order to write good poetry you need to read good poetry. Tom has a significantly impacted my life with his honest vision of living. Tom passed away at his home in Chester, New York on October 18. But his vision of a better world in which love and poetry prevail lives on in everyone that had the benefit of being engaging in conversation with him. Tom lived an honest and genuine life. I will miss him greatly.
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A Poetry Page Tom Weigel
ON SALE TODAY precut mustard drum on porcelain (snare free) drum drum drum
In proximity reflections between so called inanimate objects in bright light increases the chances of animate dialogue in the transfer of atoms such as pots of rice & beans simmering below paintings can these properties transfer longer distances given relaxed subconscious dwelling on the part of humans or creatures by tripping thru the time increments of this morning per example when rounding a corner on Monday’s errands hypothetically increased when this tall shapely chiquita walked ahead of me a New London vision gone bossa nova one of those breath taking cosmic jokes we otherwise seem to fight for she was wearing my exact colors emphatically in the essence of CLOUD NINE needless to say at the corner we both stopped for traffic on the dime then yes she sashayed on ahead & me wispfully entering SARGE’S COMICS All the same Que Vida what a day
Leaving Brewer Street Transformer No fanfare about it to the beach we go on a rollicksome bus Entertained by a card shark the high school scholars in the back me squeezed next to a babe it’s all warm & fuzzy the swift turns like a cable car round the Telegraph hill Frisco but this is New England buildings almost touching us cut to the quick of it birds know me expect things of me swirling around corners the route seems almost contrived then suddenly sand & seagull’s flutter blue waves & heart thrill busting
The Plain Thing In the wee hours of what passes for morning given proper lighting the holiness of brown paper fairly consumes me
the wrong figgity was visited BUENOS TARDES SENOR always remember a scout does not a pout make incrementally correct suspect after chill where ever two ballpoints Are gathered in His name One of them has to work
Contradiction how still how dark hark hark New England really tell me truly what do you know about yr shadows Friday like Frida w/ an axe how grateful of you & the big ship that gives spends fixates as a paramour Uta Hagen is not here to help w/ your suddenly existential feigning toward oblivion what dark side is this in unison nonsense first you must learn to spell
Haiku Moments night roses awake on curled wrought iron moon gone deadbeat deep summer night ducks glide on silken waters harbor holding skateboarders fumbling outside in pitch black night suddenly firefly busy flight of stairs more exciting than a yacht the hood’s dream steps denying eye contact with approaching pitbull keeps him at bay surprised finding two watches on both wrists finally time on my hands (previously appeared in Elephant)
Exquisite Corpse for Tom Weigel As the fog rolls in and the light fades out I imagine the size of your hands In the mists cool touch a sense of clarity comes as I close my eyes And lucid dreaming prevails and grows into a lifestyle That was at once unexpected and welcomed Can you hear in the back? I heard a startled cry Running out of breath I’m not sure if I can make it The darkness engulfs my shadow and I wonder if I’ll ever be seen again Relax - take a deep breath or haiku Keep breathing. And remember the green Fear tries to stop my progression but I feel my light break through like the morning sun my strength is renewed My chest is a helium balloon wafting towards your warmth Your geese pull clouds from the sun I am here Like the wind all around you But too warm to the touch To be held And the fog holds us In its hands Quietly Without judgment Into the arms of the world around The wind appears from silence Fire to a fray As the truth unravels Binding and teasing our playful paws Silence doubles back to wind And winds back to silence While the fog Becomes the icy cold breath of the universe And I can’t decide which is worse: To remember your touch, or to forget And yet, it seems, my skin never forgets Melancholy rising, the sun also sets... A reminder of the passage of time.. Toughened to life’s vibrations or your tender caress. Quiet comes to my soul as I remember your emerald eyes The last mile weighted by the troubles of yesterday - almost too much to bare With a new dawn on the horizon And its dogs and cats, But mainly bats And I am off to kick a can, Or that lazy ass Cat In his bourgeois striped top hat. A thousand miles traveled, Thousands more to go No promise of ever finding home. Step one...two... Step I watch the sunlight break through the fog And I finally see What my path was. And will be... On the edge of a spike. That I found from the far off days When a dark alley was a dark alley And today was tomorrow And clowns were confined to circus tents Or a lonely cafe Made less lonely because of you And yesterday was but a dream Contributors: Colleen St. John, Jeannine Louise, Aimee Wood, Lorain Ohio Simister, Marco Frucht, Jake St. John, Heather Ravell, Heather Rae Patterson, Ian C. Thomas, Maggie Cleveland, Tambria Moore, Nicole Mae Martin, Tracey Hollins, Brandon Zeller, Alane Kasanowski, Sgott Mackenzie, Colleen Delaporta Wells, Sharon Ann Morgese, Corrine Jensen, Dave Spinelli, Jane Wickham, Amy Crocker-Lamothe, John Greiner, Justin Charron, Leslie Spinelli, Brian Skidmore, Sarah Page, and Brenda C. Cornell.
Secret Society of Strange Music Freaks An interview with Paul Major
- Kid Millions So many people are wandering around profoundly alienated - they do not dovetail with the mainstream society at all. A very small number of these people are driven to make music and a smaller number of these people actually release a recording capturing their madness. For decades collector, archivist and Endless Boogie guitarist/vocalist Paul Major has been unearthing, championing and selling these rare and magical private press and ultra-obscure albums to an audience of aficionados. Many of the albums that were first identified by Major, are now considered canonical private press masterpieces. Wild jams like Kenneth Higney’s demented Attic Demonstration and Peter Grudzien’s The Unicorn were emblematic for a world of music that he called “Real People” records. Real People avail themselves to unmediated, pure expression, and open a window into a kind of unschooled, uncalculated style of music, that allows the listener to truly view their unique humanity. Unless you are a serious record hound you probably have not heard of most of the albums that Major champions. In a new book Feel the Music just released by Anthology Editions, Paul Major’s entire life is put on display, from his time in bands to his life-long foray into record dealing. His legendary catalogs get reprinted extensively, and we’re also given examples of the most significant albums that he found and sold over the years. What clearly took him a lifetime to ferret out of the dustiest corners of thrift stores and cut out bins are now contained all in one place - and now with the internet, we can listen to most of these incredible albums. Fans of wild and unique records and the characters that made them need to run and pick up Feel The Music right now. Kid Millions: What’s the story behind the book? It’s an amazingly eccentric presentation which suits the material. What was the process of getting it together? How much work was it? Paul Major: A couple years ago I went down to see Johan Kugelberg at Boo-Hooray [publisher and curator] and he plopped a huge pile of papers on a desk. They were copies of the text from my old ‘80s/’90’s era rare record catalogs. He blew my mind with the information that he was thinking of making a book out of them. The initial idea was to reproduce all of them, including the cover designs, contained in some sort of packaging. Since the print was so tiny and primitive they could not easily be reproduced, so the idea changed to sorting through them all and selecting all of the best writings, then compiling them. I took home the huge pile and started to go through them, ticking off the best stuff. Seemed
like it would be easy. Then I realized that we were dealing with over a million and a half words… twice the length of The Bible. It was like going through two different Bibles and deciding line by line what to toss out and what to keep. Way too much. Then the idea changed to basing a book around them and including other music related aspects of my life. I handed over an old scrapbook I had been keeping, some photos, wrote a few new things. As it was my life it freaked me out to make decisions about it, so the situation became that they put the book together and I came in one day and made comments page by page that were recorded and transcribed. It was a lot of work but best for me to stay a bit outside of it, mainly done by Mark and Bryan at Boo-Hooray. They, along with Johan and Jesper shaped it up.
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KM: Your catalogues, which are extensively reprinted in this book, feel so comprehensive; so valuable for the wildest music fans and just so sui generis. Did you have any competition? PM: There were a number of other people back then doing rare psych, progressive, hard rock etc. catalogs, almost a secret society in the preinternet days. Since most of the records were just being discovered at the time it was an exciting sort of search for buried treasure. There was competition but for me it worked well as I used the other guys as a source to discover things and my focus was on the weirder stuff that they didn’t necessarily consider special in the way that I did. KM: I wonder if you’re able to explain how Kenneth Higney’s Attic Demonstration broke your mind? I really want to get to essence of “Real People” - a descriptor you’ve termed to described the most unmediated albums that you’ve discovered. PM: Kenneth Higney’s LP Attic Demonstration was the game changer for me, some years before I started dealing records. I had been into psychedelic, hard rock, garage sorts of things but when three copies of Higney’s LP arrived where I was living in 1977 I felt like I was entering some new strange territory. The LP was made to demo his songs in the hopes of getting famous artists to record them. I listened and felt like I was right inside his brain, the songs are so personal and unencumbered with quality control that things that went ‘wrong’ actually were the key to the brilliance of it all. It also clarified for me that some of the records that I did already have were different from each other… real label records versus private pressings. I came up with the Real People idea because I felt like I was getting inside someone’s real life. Back then someone had to be quite driven to get an LP out into the world. Traditional concepts of ‘talent’ became moot in the face of genuine expression captured by a unique person. Sometimes these Real People are actually musically proficient, other times they are utterly primitive, and that doesn’t matter when they are untainted by the world at large. Back in the pre-internet era these people were usually isolated and thence undiluted in their resulting musical communication. Marvelous results would occur organically, sounds unlike anything I had ever heard before. KM: Along those lines the Peter Grudzien album The Unicorn was one of your favorite personal discoveries. Honestly when I first heard the record I didn’t get it. What makes a Real Person record? Is it naiveté, ambition, a touch of self-aggrandizement and a lack of show business mediation? That doesn’t sound quite right. Can you give it a shot? PM: Peter Grudzien is perhaps the prime Real People example for me. He was a gay teenager
from Astoria, Queens who heard country music on the car radio when his family took a trip down south in the late 1950’s. He came back to NYC obsessed and soon founded a Johnny Cash type trio. In the early ‘60s he heard Bob Dylan’s lyrics and his words went poetic and sideways. Even though he was in one sense a country purist he started experimenting with musique concrete, cut up choral music, interjecting these homemade innovations into his heartfelt songs with some sort of serendipitous lack of self-consciousness. He was driven to get his music out, wanted to become a star, had ambitions but when you are living in the Twilight Zone, commercial success is probably a world too far. So he remained obscure until I unleashed his rare private press LP The Unicorn into the then secret society of strange music freaks. When I found a mysterious private LP by one of the Real People I had to find the person and know what their life was like. In Peter’s case the life was way further out than I even imagined. KM: Are you trying to access this Real Person vibe with your music projects like Endless Boogie or is that not really possible if you’re aware of this conceptually? PM: With Endless Boogie my part of it is perhaps influenced by a Real People vibe in the sense that I try to do my thing, let it loose without thinking about it much to avoid polishing up some artificial version of myself. The band is really based on Jesper’s vision, a hard rocking punch in the face with trance moves and I ride that wave. It can’t be like the Real People conceptually since the isolation that is key to that zone isn’t an element. Also the Real People were mainly recording music in obscurity and Endless Boogie is primarily a live band. KM: Do you know why some of these records elicit so much hate? Has your dive into the fringes of Real People music helped you understand this kind of thing? PM: I actually haven’t experienced much hate about these sorts of sounds, I did have hassles with ridicule from people who couldn’t see beyond the surface and understand what was going on. There was a lot of confusion back in the old days from people who couldn’t distinguish between a kitschy novelty sense of strangeness and the real deal. They would laugh at how ‘bad’ the music was without the ears to determine when real life was being captured in an emotionally charged way. In the ‘90s when there was that ‘Incredibly Strange Music’ fad about old records, exotica, lounge, and so forth this vibe got out of control. Some Real People type LPs got mixed in with that scene and they really never belonged there at all. Also, once money came into it people would hype up the most ordinary private pressings, calling some boring homemade James Taylor singer songwriter ‘loner folk’ or some mundane lounge band psychedelic just because it had a fuzz guitar.
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So lots of things were called Real People just because they were obscure and homemade when actually they were typical normal crap. This made some people think the whole thing was a con. Fortunately as time goes by the real stuff emerges from the hyped garbage and is preserved for ears of the future. KM: There are so many moments in capitalism and advertising where music that was once considered far out and impossible was attached to a product in order to sell it. Do you think the frame will move to include this kind of wild music in the mainstream? PM: These sorts of sounds are so personal and idiosyncratic that I doubt there will be a commercialized phase although I can think of many tracks that are so gripping and quick to grasp I could imagine them being used in advertising. Never say never. Usually when previously underground music is used to sell products it is because it emerged from a scene that became culturally prevalent… the thing that comes to mind is in the late ‘60s when commercial advertising exploded with psychedelia. I recall many years ago word was a Hollywood movie about the Shaggs was going to happen, the rights had been secured, etc. They fit the Real People vibe totally and are perhaps the most famous but it is still an obscure thing. Maybe if that movie had actually got out into the mainstream some light would have shone on the whole scene… well, non-scene, of course since Real People are by definition no where near any sort of scene. KM: How has your obsession with obscure records and the material therein influenced your bands over the years?
PM: It used to be that bands were only influenced by widely available music because that’s all they had access to. That has changed as the obscure has become available with a click on the computer. Usually people in bands are musical obsessives to begin with, and whatever their interests they seek out the good stuff that is relatively obscure. One thing I noticed is that in the late ‘70s when the punk rock thing got going the people forming many of the bands in each city across the world were people who had already been into the Stooges, the MC5, Velvets, Elevators and the likes… stuff that was still obscure in the big picture but available in used record shops. Needless to say this whole thing has exploded nowadays with whole scenes based on various genres of earlier records… acid folk, garage rock, progressive rock, and so on. When Endless Boogie is on tour I always meet people in bands who are obsessed with and knowledgable about the good stuff from ages past, always looking for new kicks, digging deeper and deeper. KM: How do you feel that so many of your discoveries became canonical in this unusual sub-genre? If there’s a private press record that has been reissued or celebrated over the last 30 years, you probably had something to do with unearthing it. PM: I feel like I’ve gone through the rabbit hole all the way to the other side of the funhouse mirror when I contemplate that these lost records now exist in a realm where a word like canonical could even apply. It’s like all the isolated misfits, with my help, are hanging out now at the same club. I certainly was integral to getting the ball rolling and made many of the key discoveries, either out in the wilds of flea markets and used record shops or in the boxes of local LPs I had my moles send to me from all over the country, promising them that if my ears detected anything heavy they would be handsomely rewarded. When I was a kid in Kentucky I dreamed of being a part of some musically related scene like the Warhol Factory or Haight-Ashbury, later I did get down on the punk scene, but the biggest thrill is that I had something to do with starting a scene where by definition there seems no scene is possible. Other people like Mike Ascherman and Jack Streitman were on it as early as I was but I was the guy who was communicating it around the world. KM: I’m wondering if you feel that the internet has diminished the possibility for these kinds of creations to exist going forward? Even though your excavations seem to end around the 80s
there must be plenty of beautiful real people recordings out there still; being made every day. Thoughts on this? PM: Back before the internet got cooking these sorts of private pressing local LPs could sit in used record shops for years until someone like me came along and gave them a chance. These people had to be very driven to record and issue an album, and when they did they usually had zero success getting anybody beyond their family and friends hearing it. Nowadays everybody with a computer can have their own recording capability and the means to make it available to everybody on the planet. This creates a mega needle-ina-haystack dynamic come into play. I’m sure there are loads of real people doing amazing things out there, but stumbling across them is surely much less likely than the old days in used record shops. Similarly, back when CDs became dominant much more obscure music was being put out into the world. so much that I’m sure in future decades discoveries will be made. The other big factor is the whole paradigm shift to information and communication being globally available immediately… I think the utter isolation in which the classic real people records were made is a thing of the past. The possibility of something special being lost and buried in time and discovered later has shifted from isolated geography to being hidden amidst the incomprehensibly massive volume of sounds available to everybody. KM: Since this is a CT-based publication, I’m wondering if you had any recommendations for wild LPs aside from the most well known like Gary Higgins’ Red Hash or Orange’s In the Midst of Chaos? PM: I’ve been searching my brain for more vintage Connecticut private press LPs and am sure there are ones I’m forgetting now. There are small label ones by CT bands that come to mind like Yesterday’s Children on Map City and Jasper Wrath on Sunflower/MGM but they are more ordinary hard rock and progressive items. Being between NYC and Boston I think a lot of musicians gravitated those directions rather than getting something together on home turf. The cover art on my book Feel The Music was actually taken from a local CT LP but it’s amateur coffeehouse folk of no real interest. However, one of the all-time top US psychedelic LPs is [New Haven-based] D.R. Hooker The Truth and it is a mind-fryer. Perhaps the king of LSD dosed hippie Jesus figures, with a dark undercurrent. I never talked to him myself but in the early ‘80s a friend had tracked him down and gotten the remaining original copies of the LP. He told me that when he visited D.R. he happened to look in the refrigerator and the only things in there were vodka and cornflakes. It’s an odd enough story that I don’t think he could have made it up, especially back then. It’s as heavy as real people psychedelic rock gets, and was actually known fairly early on… I got turned on to it by Jack Streitman circa 1980.
Rock Snaps from Peter Detmold Muddy Waters @ Paul’s Mall Boston, MA – Summer of 1972 These photos were taken at Paul’s Mall in Boston during the summer of ’72. At the time, I was seventeen, recently done with high school, and completely caught up in the explosion of blues-rock bands that were releasing albums and touring at the time. A lot of those bands had recorded songs that were credited to McKinley Morganfield, who was better known as Muddy Waters. For example, Cream had recorded his “Rollin’ & Tumblin,” Led Zeppelin and Jeff Beck both did “You Shook Me,” Ten Years After had “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” and the Allman Brothers recorded “Hoochie Coochie Man.” All those songs were either written or originally recorded by Muddy Waters. The Rolling Stones had not only taken their name from the title of a Muddy Waters song, they also recorded his “I Want To Be Loved.” Those bands and a lot of others helped to awaken an awareness and appreciation of “the blues,” a very American musical format and one whose originators by that time were middle-aged, elderly or already gone. Some appreciation seemed long overdue, and I was not alone in seeking out these original guys. It was with this in mind that I made the pilgrimage to Boston on this night, so that I might sit at the feet of one of the masters who had inspired so many of my current musical faves. Paul’s Mall was located at 733 Boylston Street and operated from 1964 to 1978. It held a few hundred people at most. Run by long-time Boston promoter Fred Taylor, the club presented an incredible array of talent during those 15 years. The small stage seen in these photos hosted, along with many others, Bruce Springsteen, Miles Davis, Little Feat, Aerosmith, Billy Joel and Tom Petty. Bob Marley and the Wailers played their first U.S. dates here in 1973 – Fred Taylor knew his stuff! Muddy Waters was born in Mississippi in 1915 and raised on a plantation near Clarksdale. It was there that he learned to play guitar by listening to
local performers who included Robert Johnson and Son House. By the time he moved north to Chicago in 1943 he had mastered the instrument and was performing a country-blues style featuring acoustic bottleneck guitar. In Chicago, he recognized the need to amplify himself in order to be heard in the raucous blues clubs he was playing. By plugging in and electrifying his country blues songs, he helped create what we now know as “Chicago Blues.” Recording for the local Chess record label, he had hits with his own songs and others written by the great Willie Dixon. His bands included Dixon on bass, Otis Spann on piano, and either Little Walter or James Cotton on harmonica. Muddy’s bands were the undisputed kings of the 50’s Chicago blues scene. Muddy Waters played Paul’s Mall many times during the years it was open. The show I witnessed featured a backing band made up of Chicago bluesmen; soon after this Muddy began using younger and whiter musicians. I was lucky to see him with some of his regular hometown guys, although the only one I can recognize from these shots is George “Mojo” Buford playing harmonica. Muddy played seated on a barstool, even though he was not yet 60 years old at the time. And, although he had adopted some unfortunate 70’s clothing fashions, he still commanded the stage with authority. I recall him playing, among others, “I’m Ready,” “Hoochie Coochie Man” and an uproarious “Got My Mojo Workin’” during which he got off his seat and prowled the stage while gesturing at the crowd. It was a memorable night and one I recalled for years; I had always remembered drinking cold bottles of Schlitz although I was obviously underage. However, I had completely forgotten that I had taken some Instamatic photos until quite recently when I came upon these snaps. There it all was – the man himself right in front of me, playing his red Telecaster, that great backing band & the bottles of Schlitz – all just as I had remembered!
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in their timelessness and power. When I asked, what drew him to use such ‘grungy’ sounds on the record, he insists that it was not a conscious decision, but in his words, “hit me in a certain way and that’s what I gravitate to…It just sounds cool and I like it and I am going to use it.” Later in the interview he further goes on to explain, “I like full-bodied sounds. That’s why I’m drawn to bass sounds. It’s big, it’s got a body to it, you feel it. Flutes are cool, but they kind of just zing around, but I like a bass, an organ - they hit you in the heart.”
Cathartic Beats An interview with...
Adam Mathiason aka ChumZilla
Surprisingly, Mathiason did not start learning music with the organ. The first instrument he picked up was the trombone in fifth grade and continued playing that big brass sound for at least ten years. He played in the school and jazz band, but he really took to symphonic orchestra in high school. Then, the turning point occurred when he graduated, as he puts it, “Pretty much when I got out, that thing (points to his original trombone in the corner of the studio) went in the closet, and I was like ASR-10, turntables…” The rest is history.
to it. I won’t do so many sequences, there won’t be so many change-ups. Not to shit on rappers, even though it’s hard not to sometimes, you can’t overcomplicate it for them to rap to. You need that space. This is would sound good from someone to rap on as opposed to making it my own shit. Sometimes I’ll go to make a beat that I want someone to rap to, but then…I’ll come up with things like, oh my god this would sound awesome, this would sound great in there, so I’ll throw it in there and if it works…my song. It’s not going to anybody else now. Even if I want to sit down and make an instrumental for myself, I just hit a point where I’m like this would sound ridiculous and stupid if I did something else to this, but would sound really good with someone rapping on it. That’s when I stop and I’m like, this sounds done by itself.” Regarding the decision to have no guest spots on the record Mathiason explains: “There was going to be rapping on it, but one of the early songs was “Gone Cold.” That was one of the first songs I made for it and when I made that, I wasn’t like, I’m going to start making my album now. I was just going to make some music and see what happens. Then I [realized], oh, so and so would sound good on this probably. But then they wanted me to make too many changes to the music itself for them. I’m like: this isn’t your record. This is for my record. I’ll give a strippeddown version for you to record to, but I’m adding all this wild shit to it afterward. Then [they said], no. [I’m like] well fine, this is an instrumental now. And then, I just fleshed it out… I get in this zone and start making these weird instrumentals. After that, it really wasn’t a conscious decision to really make it without rapping, but it just turned out that way…Now, could I hear some people rapping on some of these songs, sure maybe. Do I want to wait a year and change to give me one verse? No, fuck that…The reason why the last one took two years was me waiting for vocals…I don’t want to be stagnant. I want to keep pushing music out. Because it took me this long to do solo shit. I might as well just keep it moving.”
For him, even earlier in his childhood, he watched Jam Master Jay cut a record, and it suddenly - Daniel Boroughs became imperative that he start making music for himself. He went directly for his Mom’s turntable Adam Mathiason is an even-keeled, fair, cooland began scratching records from her personal calm, and simply honest man. As a hip-hop collection. She was not pleased. By seventh grade veteran, he has built himself a career as a fullhe experimented with pause-button mixtapes, fledged producing and recording artist in the where by that point, he was clearly infected with truest sense. He is better known as ChumZilla the hip-hop bug. As he divulges to me, “It’s so behind the turntables who throws down blend after blend of eclectic tracks at various parties and funny because it’s such a shitty album, but the last Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff album, the song, when he backs Apathy and the Demigodz as their “I Wanna Rock,” the way Jazzy Jeff cuts up Rob resident DJ/producer/engineer. Adam’s persona Bases’ voice…that’s what really made me want to may seem larger-than-life and grandiose, but on DJ…They put a video out for that and that’s when the contrary, he conveys a down-to-earth and grounded way about him that is approachable and I knew what I needed. I needed the mixer, the turntables…Yeah, that’s the record that did it. And without pretension. He is the workingman’s hipit’s cheesy, it’s a fucking cheese ball record!” But hop instrumentalist and soloist. He is a foodie and it was the hook and sinker that got Mathiason to chef at the Engine Room in Mystic, Connecticut. realize that DJing is his life›s passion. And most recently and importantly, he is the cofounder of Raw Bar Records, which released his With his previous album, Earth Man’s Curse, second full length album, Get Off The Earth on Mathiason set out to make a concept record with cassette and CD at the end of July this Summer. guest rappers, Mathiason goes on to but with Get Off Get Off The Earth (GOTE) is an instrumental opus, breakdown the process of The Earth, he monumental in scope and range. Even though, putting together the track, created more of a at its core, its hip-hop boom-bap sensibility lays “Enter The Winter,” to shed collection of short the foundation for the record’s drum patterns further light on his creative stories based on and well-placed record scratching, the real choices as an artist: true events. He depth and thematic progression of GOTE is its explains to me, melodicism and atmospheric flourishes atop the “Earth Man’s Curse “The bassline is a replay off percussion. The amalgamation of dirty dusty was deliberate. This the sample. I played that and dark sample choices to organically crafted one wasn’t…Every bassline and it’s not exact to basslines and synth riffs, swirl and lure the listener song has a reason what the sample one was, but into a cerebral journey unlike any other. It is part the sample laid the blueprint melancholy reflection, part brutal honesty, and part and a story behind it. Every song is a for that track. A few of those cataclysmic with a thin thread of perseverance thing. It’s a specific synths are already in there. It running through it. thing and they all was cold. It was snowing when I made that, and I was not in GOTE is an account of an individual going through relate to each other in some way.” the best of places. It just hit and some shit and getting through by the skin of their I was like, let me make a jam teeth. The mood of the record is awe-inspiring in out of this. This sounds like, In regard to his its complex gradation of the sounds of depression, ‘outside’ and what it looks and approach to beatloss, suffering, and through to tribulation. This feels like. The drum break is a making on GOTE often leads to a path of self-destruction, but with straight up drum loop I used, and in producing in Mathiason’s sonic palette at hand, he successfully but I added some shit to beef it general, Mathiason transforms the negativity into a positive: an album up. The drums [in the sample] explains: of a personal struggle survived. A document of sounded really good on it, but one’s own ability to use their musical talent as the thing that really drew me to “I know what’s therapy to take on larger life issues. that sample was that bassline. going to happen And I just added more synths when I get the On a wet evening in late May, I sat down with Adam Mathiason aka ChumZilla at work in The Danger to it and I’m like, “what the sample. I listen to Mathiason at The Danger Room Studio located fuck am I going to call this?” Room, his studio in New London, CT. the whole song within the Dewart Building in downtown New I’m standing there, the music that I’m sampling London to discuss GOTE, its upcoming release, is off and I am looking out the window…the ODB from and I know what direction it’s going to go and who exactly ChumZilla is as a musician and part from “Protect Ya Neck,” let me sample that in, if it’s going to be an instrumental song or it’s solo recording artist. and it made sense. It’s funny because that song going to be rapped on. Sound wise and the way represents what that day was like…but also what I make them, are the same. What I do within that Mathiason cites his grandfather’s love for the was happening in my head at the time. Exactly process is different.” organ and his Mom’s affinity for Zeppelin, how that song sound is, was exactly where my Sabbath, and Guns ‘n’ Roses as primary reasons brain was.” He continues, “If I make something for somebody why he fell in love with music as a young kid in to rap on, it’s going to be more stripped down. first place. This exposure to these full-bodied, Mathiason’s creation of a single track is It’s not going to have so much going on, it’s grungy, and vintage sounds must have rubbed meticulous and very cerebral. He uses his not going to have so many layers because the off on him and his approach to producing psyche and channels the pain within him and the vocals are a layer in the song. That’s one of the instrumentals because the new record is full of environment around him into something darkly instruments to me. I just take a different approach well-placed progressive rock samples that bask
27 beautiful. It’s almost if he created each track for a film score based on a hip-hop noir mystery full of solitude, suspense, and longing. His own interpretation of his work is exclusive to him, but the music speaks for itself and is open for the listener’s ears as well. Throughout the album, he expertly straddles that fine line between a deeply personal statement and how his work translates as a healing tool for others no matter what issue they face in their lives. I asked him after the listener finishes GOTE, what is something they could take away from it? “I hope they enjoy it. I hope it hits them in the way it hit me. Like Earth Man’s Curse, some of the messages from people I don’t even know that bought it, streamed it, or illegally downloaded it told me, “that album got me through some shit.” And that means a lot because in making this one in particular, I got through some shit. I just hope people can take something good out of it. I want it to be as much of a personal soundtrack as it is for somebody else as it is for me. It doesn’t have to be the same story, it doesn’t have to be the same kind of story because it’s funny how it works, everyone has the same story, but everyone’s story is different at the same time.” “I will talk about it because I think these things like these need to be talked about more often. I was in a very very depressed state when I made this record. I was suicidal. I was in and out of Pond House (Mental Hospital) all summer long. I got worse when I got out, and that’s what this record is. I don’t have a diary. I don’t have a journal. This is my diary. This is my journal. This is me dealing with my own mental illness. And if it can help somebody else get through that like it did me, I’m doing something amazing. I’m doing a service for somebody else, which makes me feel good that I can help somebody through something like that. And music is one of those things that helps a lot of people whether you make it or listen to it, It gets you through some shit. It makes you not feel alone. And it’s hard to not feel alone when in your head is so boxed in, and you’re so self-absorbed with the shit that happened to you or the shit you’re afraid is going to happen to you, or the things that are happening now. You don’t realize that there are people around you going through the
same thing. There are people around you that give a shit and want you to be better and feel better. It can be very destructive for not just yourself, but the people around you. And what I went through, destroyed a lot of things. A lot of things I really gave a shit about, and that’s in this album as well. In stark comparison to Stoopid Animals, there’s love songs on this album. There wasn’t one on the last couple things I did. There are three love songs on GOTE: “Gone Cold,” “Call To You,” and “I Feel.” “I Feel” is also about how people need to be more aware and accepting of mental illness. About not being alone with that. And people need to understand that. Everyone has it. If you think you don’t, you fucking have it. Some people deal with it differently, some people get it to different degrees. “I also want people to make their own message with it. You can understand mine or you don’t have to. I almost didn’t want to put this out because it’s personal. It was hard for me to mix this album, to go back on these songs and how I was not in good shape. But it’s good music. I think it’s good music. I want to share it. This is my way of sharing my experience without telling everyone my experience.”
T H E
Having trouble navigating the choppy waters on the river of life? The Cut-Up’s Auntie is here to help. Send us your dilemmas and she’ll point you toward the path forward.
I have reached a point in my life where I’m tired of having people take me for granted. I had a long hard marriage where I raised four kids, two biological and two step children. I was married to an abusive man but because of the step kids I did not feel I could leave. I did leave, but only after I was diagnosed with cancer. I just couldn’t fight that and him. I have recovered, my kids are grown and I have a sweet little house that I have set up just the way I like and I have a good job and friends. Now my problem is that I have “rented” out my spare room to a woman who has not paid me any rent. I had a bad feeling about her when I met her, but I wanted to give her a chance because she needed a home. She avoids me most of the time and She is rude to me when we cross paths. My identity was stolen and I think she may be involved. I have talked to a lawyer and it is a hard process to get an eviction. On top of that my step son is complaining that I do not take enough time to help out with his kids compared to the other grandmother. I feel like I want to explode. When am I going to get a break? Signed, Worn Out
Dear Worn Out,
You will stop being worn out when you stop making yourself into a piece of clothing. There is no point in time where the world is going to recognize that you have done your time being a good and giving person and then reward you with a break. If you want some peace? You are going to have to take it. What made you agree to take in this squatter in the first place? Something about her probably felt familiar. We tend to get into the same situations over and over again until we recognize our patterns and develop new ways to act. My guess is that you put a value on being kind and helpful. Selfish people can spot this in a person and use it against them. My advice is to start being comfortable with disapproval. Have direct conversations with yourself about what you would like your life to be like and then fight for those circumstances. If you want to spend time with your grandchildren? Do it. If you don’t? You do not need reasons or excuses to live the way you want to live. Pay attention to how you feel in your gut and keep it simple. You do not need to package your life to be palatable to others. The squatter in your nest is the last lesson you need to learn. You will let her know that you are going to do every legal measure to get her kicked out. From now on when you get a feeling about something you will listen to that voice above all others. You can do this. Love, Auntie
C U T \ U P _ N e w L o n d o n
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Published on Nov 24, 2017