Tonight

Tonight my band No Show Ponies will be playing at Hole in the Wall in Austin at 9pm.  I try not to over promote my own shit on here, as I want this site to have value in and of itself.  However, tonight is a special show as my brother moved away a year ago and this is one of the very few times we may get to play music together for the immediate future.  Above is a Joe Strummer song that we often cover.  “Going to the Mountaintop”!

If you want to hear us here is a link to our record that we recorded two years ago in Austin with Ramsay Midwood at the helm.  Recording mostly live to some quarter inch analog tape.  You can stream the album in full.

The World of Lee “Scratch” Perry

A musician friend has helped usher me into the world of Lee “Scratch” Perry and Black Ark studios.  I have long known about Perry as a great reggae and dub producer, but he has been recording for so long, and his discography is so immense, that I think I stayed away because I didn’t know where to start.  When I was first getting into classical music and jazz about a year ago I faced the same problem.  How do you navigate your way into a new scene, when you know next to nothing?  The sheer amount of something can be intimidating.  How do you discern good from bad?  With a limited budget, how do you make the right choices when buying something?  It helps to be pointed in the right direction and then you find many other doors opening along the way.  For classical music I bought a book.  For jazz I asked my friends to suggest records.

The Perry produced record that was first suggested to me was The Congos album Heart of the Congos.  This is not only one of the best reggae albums ever, but a great place to start understanding what makes Perry’s work so unique.  It’s essentially a reggae record, with great songs and melodies, but the production features many of the unique sonic qualities that differentiate Perry from producers that came before him.  From there you can decide if you want to explore more of his reggae productions, or if you want to get into the weirder world of dub.  I think it’s a great entryway into his world as it is both unique and accessible.

The Ultimate Lee Scratch Perry Album Guide

The link above, while no means definitive, is a great overview of his lengthy career.  It gives you a sense of his accomplishments and highlights some of his better works, if not all of them.  Heart of the Congos is strangely given only a sentence.

The above video is Perry recording in Black Ark studios.  It’s inspiring to see someone accomplishing something so imaginative in a situation that is very low tech by today’s standards.

If you are someone that loves records and recorded sound, his work is definitely a world that you want to explore.  Not only is it innovative in and of itself, but it has influenced modern music in immense and unmeasurable ways.

Sex, Drugs & Rock Criticism

Richard Goldstein On the 60’s

Above is a Rolling Stone interview with music critic Richard Goldstein, who has been working since 1966.  I was interested by some of the social commentary in the interview.  A sample (Especially read the second part of the answer, where I feel he is dead right.):

There seemed to be some disappointment in the book, a feeling and desire for change that maybe didn’t quite come through.

I think the Sixties produced a lot of changes. Multiculturalism comes from the Sixties. So does feminism, gay liberation, environmentalism, sexual freedom in general — even veggie burgers. A lot of things people take for granted today come from that decade. Most people had better lives as a result of the Sixties. But what didn’t change is the social justice agenda: equality. We’re less equal than we were as a society, and certainly racial justice has never been achieved. This was a huge priority. Almost everything of importance in the Sixties had something to do with race, including the music. Black music became front and center in a major way — black music by black people. And that’s never changed.

All of the things that did change were economically profitable. Multiculturalism created a new market. Feminism has, unfortunately, meant a cheap labor force. Gay liberation, gay marriage, means a new wedding industry. The things that didn’t change are things that demand that you give people money. Like racial justice. It means there has to be a program that redresses poverty — so it costs money. Same with economic equality: You have to tax people and distribute the wealth. These things failed. So to the extent that we thought we were changing the world…we were only making new markets. And we ended up as an advance force for the free-market economy. Maybe this is the way things work in history; I’m not saying we failed. But I certainly think our major goals in terms of justice were defeated.

Five Star Reggae Albums

Five Star Reggae Albums

I have been listening to reggae and dub the last few days.  As much reggae, and its surrounding genres, as I own, there is an infinite amount more that I don’t.  Sometimes when you first approach a kind of music it can be intimidating for the sheer amount of it that exists.  Where do you start?  I found this today.  It provides a link to every reggae album rewarded five stars by allmusic.com.  Hopefully this can thin the herd for you a little.  No list is perfect, but this one can at least give you some ideas.  Even if you know about some or even many of the records, it is fun to read the reviews, if you are into that sort of thing.

David Lynch’s Music Supervisor Giving Away New Solo Album

David Lynch’s Music Supervisor Giving Away New Solo Album

Dean Hurley, who has worked as a music supervisor for David Lynch, is giving away a new solo album.  The link above is to the article and if you click on the free download will give you a zip for the record which you can download to your iTunes.  The vocals are all old soul samples, while somehow the music is inspire by Hans Zimmer’s score for, wait a minute, Days of Thunder!  It sounds like a strange concept for sure, but I am willing to give it a try as I love his work with Lynch and also with singer Chrysta Bell.

Fleetwood Mac’s Primitive Blues

I always like the blues played by Fleetwood Mac when Peter Green was in the band.  It’s primitive in a really charming way.  Half of the songs feature the same riff being played over and over again.  The recording is distorted.  When you hear blues bands out so many of the times they are what I call bow tie blues, where they are kind of clinical.  It’s blues music for white men that listen between golf rounds.  Or you sort of get the inspired by Stevie Ray wanking off blues.  Stevie Ray was a one of a kind and had his thing, but most people that copy him just ape him or water him down.  I like when blues music is kind of shitty.  I like when someone is choking a guitar and you aren’t quite sure they know what they are doing, but somehow they get the feel and the rhythm just right.

Storms, Plagues, and Werewolves at the Office

Storms never come when you want them to.  We had a horrible storm here in Austin, that lead to the worst flooding I have ever seen here.  I was desperately hoping that the rain would go away, not only for my sake, but for those whom lost their property or had it damaged.  (I live on the side of a hill and was in no way even close to getting flooded.)  However, I remember a time when I would have prayed for a flood, even one of Noah’s Ark proportions.

I used to work in sales for a moving company that was run by a couple.  (That no longer exists.)  It was the stupidest place that I ever worked.  Often I would show up for work and the boss would be passed out drunk on the back couch.  The movers would be running around out front of the building in what looked like the USO scene from Apocalypse Now.  The owner got hit with a DUI and got a breathalyzer put on his car, so at night he started driving the moving truck to the bar.  When he finally went to jail, which was inevitable, the bar he frequented called the office and told us that he owed them a thousand dollars!  In all my years of drinking I have spent an untold amount at bars, but I never owed a bar money, nor even knew it was possible to owe a bar that much!  Onetime the female boss disappeared for days on a drug binge.  When she returned, I actually saw a coworker fire his own boss, only to have the male boss get soft and allow her to return.  None of these stories even tell the half of it.  Insanity went along with daily defeats.  All they seemed to talk about around the office was American Idol, except when they were occasionally mentioning the Bible.  Anyway, as you can imagine it was not the greatest of work environments.  One should never be in the position of trying to meet sales numbers for drug addicts that believe in angels.

One day I showed up for work and the business next store had burned to the ground.  All of the workers stood in the field next door and looked at what was left, and what was left was cinders.  I remember looking out the window wistfully, hoping that I too would some day be blessed with such an event.  Floods, plagues, and fires became the stuff of Tuesday morning daydreams.  Sometimes I would let my thoughts go into the realm of fantasy.  I remember one day thinking how great it would be if a werewolf came through the front door and just started dismembering people.  I was willing to go down too, with whatever horror came through that door, as long my imaginary werewolf friend took out my bosses first.  Hey, what else is there to think about when one is facing skull crushing boredom and mind numbing stupidity?

So whenever you here a politician talk about the nobility of the small business owner, I call bullshit.  I’ve seen things.  Small business owners, like everyone else, are a mixed bag.  Some dream big and treat their workers well, and some DUI moving trucks in endless circles around town.

Anyway, I hope my fellow Austinites are able to recover from the flood.  My parents home in Pennsylvania have faced minor flooding before.  I know even a little water can be an absolute nightmare to deal with.  I wish that upon no one.  But there was once a day when I did wish it upon myself…

“I wanna dream lover so I don’t have to dream alone” – Bobby Darin

Genocide in a Theme Restaurant

When I was in Oklahoma a couple weeks ago I noticed, while we were driving through a commercial zone, that there was a car wash named after an Indian tribe.   I don’t remember what tribe, but it struck me as both tragic and comic at the same time.  Oklahoma was once the home of many tribes, including the Kiowa, Pawnee, and Shawnee.  (There are obviously still Native Americans in Oklahoma, but not as they once were of course.) The white man came into Oklahoma, killed or displaced its indigenous people, and now uses their images and names to promote cheap commerce.  It would be like Germans deciding to paint the faces of Jews on the inside of beer halls, just to provide some quaint atmosphere.  Oklahoma is not alone, by any means, in this kind of behavior, it is just where the idea crystalized itself in my mind.  People commit genocide and then name some tacky businesses after the victims.  If that’s not insult to injury I don’t know what is.  Next time you go to a family restaurant with your kids, make sure to tell them that the Indian on the wall was probably killed right there!  That will add some interesting vibes to an otherwise drab family occasion!