Thursday, July 28, 2005

art of the jam 11

maybe if we'd quit after the first set i wouldn't feel so ambivalent. but then if we had, i'd have missed out on the best part of the whole night. one of the musos put it this way afterwards: "we hit on some good grooves, played some good music, and made a lot of noise." just another wednesday night at the wreck room.

i dunno (do you detect a hint of chickenshit self-censorship here? i thought so) what it was, but after awhile the second set got, um, how you say, kinda _diffuse_. blame alcohol, if you will. blame weird friction between certain of the players' auras, if you must. personally, i'm more than happy to blame it on the visitors from a parallel universe where ppl still actually _like_ to listen to steve miller, lynyrd skynyrd, bob seger, and eddie money, who answered jam-meister lee allen's call for requests. (the phrase that pays: "be careful what you ask for.") but that wouldn't be entahrly honest. sometimes, i guess, you just run out of steam. or ideas. or focus. or all of the above. just part of the fun.

the good stuff: brian sharp showed up to thrust his trumpet, flugelhorn, and array of mutes into the spotlight ("just add horns to _anything_ if you wanna class it up," he opined). joe cruz, who just signed on as drummer with villain vanguard (check out their new lineup and killer new toonage at the black dog on august 19th), was celebrating by taking more chances than usual and playing some particularly tasty cymbal shit (this time he brought his own crash). myself, i'd spent the week listening to/watching live video of neil young and deniz tek and decided that technical limitations be damned, sometimes it's more about the jam between the notes than the notes themselves. there's _always_ a gap between what a player wants to achieve and what the audience receives. i still don't dig about 80% of what i play, but i figure that the only way to increase the amount of good shit i play is, well, to keep playing (_not_ "to play _more_").

the best for last: during the break between sets, i noticed andre, the wreck room's wizard of sound -- just back from his colorado jaunt with a-hummin' acoustical acupuncture, which sounds like it was heap big fun -- mic'ing up the conga drums from painter/sho' nuff stylin' mofo/closet congero jesse sierra hernandez' adjacent art studio. it made my whole week, seeing jesse up onstage during the _snazz_ portion of the second set, looking for all the world like one of the musicians he paints, adding some cayenne pepper to the musical stew. "it was a privilege, man," he told me later. shee-it, jesse. the stage is _always_ a privilege. you just made it extra special. i hope we get to jam together again soon.

as much as i await the return of carl pack to the wednesday night jam stage.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

saint frinatra, kulcha far i, stoney bass

caught saint frinatra at fred's last friday and noticed the fiery young cat on 6-string bass. his fellow instrumentalist lee allen informed me that his name is jozef bobula and he's from slovakia. further research revealed that jozef is a product of saxophonist tim ishii's jazz program at texas wesleyan, and specifically lou carfa's instruction. (he also plays in a christian rock band called, um, destination known.) i now have a whole new perspective on twu as a music school. hopefully tim will be able to get something similar happening at uta now that he's there (although he regrettably was unable to keep joey carter on his faculty).

kulcha far i _to' it up_ at the black dog that night. these guys are sounding better and more profoundly groovin' every time i hear 'em, and they gave the confusatron crowd ample opportunity to get their dance on. they're currently taking seven weeks off for bassist john shook to go explore europe (using amsterdam as his home base, go fig) and roots 'n' kulcha frontguy chris hakata to visit family and perform at some zimbabwean festivals over in the merrie olde. (hmmm, perhaps their absence will give ron geida and jeffrey williams motivation to show up at the wreck room jam on a few wednesdays? we live in hope.) after that, they plan to _finally_ release their long-anticipated new c.d. safe travels to john and chris.

because i suck, i missed the alan show at the moon last saturday. one of my nieces from new jersey was in town and i was having too much fun listening to her, my dtr and her friends kick it at our house to wanna go anyplace else.

sunday we briefly fell by the stoney bass memorial tribute (coincidentally, it also woulda been stoney's birthday) at the keys lounge, where stoney's experimystics bandmates johnny mack, james hinkle, gunzi trevino, and a cast of thousands were holding forth. as the little keys was pretty packed, we only stayed long enough to shove some money in the jar to help stoney's family out with his med expenses and give johnny mack a pic of stoney that kat took at hinkle's mardi gras bash last year. only thing i could really say is that stoney sure had a lot of friends.

Monday, July 25, 2005

how to practice the gtr

not that i ever do, but if i did, maybe these helpful hints would be useful (even if they _are_ from a canadian metalhead).

Saturday, July 23, 2005

check out brit "art terrorist" link

this cat is a stencil artist over in the u.k. who leaves his stuff in some interesting places. has also had "legit" indoor exhibits. pretty amazing stuff. (thanks to steve steward, who just gave his blog a facelift, for sharing this link.)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

b movie valentino, hank hankshaw, tad gaither, art of the jam 10

so we went and saw b movie valentino at the saffire lounge last saturday.

i hadn't been in the saffire in a coupla yrs and it's changed some. it looks more like a rock room. they got rid of the too-much furniture. not many ppl there for b movie valentino (which is bysshe and otto from the snowdonnas and destination venus playing gtrs and bysshe singing over some sequencing stuff that he wrote -- very melancholy and atmospheric); just some loud obnoxo tcu kids who coulda cared a rat's ass about any band and mostly left for the library (the bar, know what i mean) before the musos' 45 minutes was up. feh.

sometime wreck room wednesday night jammer jon hill says he's hosting an acoustic open mic thingy at saffire on tuesday nights. as much as i'd like to check him out, if i'm gonna go out of the house on a tuesday, it's gonna be to the wreck to hear hank hankshaw do his happy hour thang. this week it was my sweetie's birthday, so we headed over to the wreck to see graham, hear hank, and have a celebratory shot or two. hank looks kinda like tom waits and has one of those real _lived-in_ voices, along with a song bag deep enough to hold maybe every country song ever written -- the old, good kind (i requested and he played possum's "she thinks i still care") -- as well as rockabilly (like the great oklahoman eddie cochran's "20 flight rock") and who knows what-all (johnny horton's "the battle of new orleans"). while he's holding forth, the wreck has an ambience that's more than a little like austin back when it was still groover's paradise and not "america's live music capital(r)." this past tuesday, he was accompanied by a drummer (snare and brushes only) and mandolin player. they all did it up fine.

slouching at the end of the bar that night was black dog impresario tad gaither. sure, he's a cantankerous old yank, and an insane conspiracy theorist to boot, but dammit, this publishing industry vet turned clubowner has done more than anybody to nurture creative diversity and eclecticism in this town the past seven-odd years -- from open mic poetry and comedy to all kinds of jazz to reggae to whatevah. his room has served as the hothouse where bands like confusatron and kulcha far i could germinate. and, um, i met my wife there. anyway...right now, he's trying to find a band to alternate thursday nights with confusatron. kulcha was his first choice, but african rasta chris hakata and his bassplayer john shook are decamping for europe soon, so that'll have to wait until the fall. meanwhile, tad's got a revamped villain vanguard lineup booked for august 19th. film, as they say, at 11.

lee allen promised surprises at the wreck room's wednesday night jam this week and he didn't disappoint. violinist steve huber was back from a trip to st. louis and chicago, and lee's new employer james hinkle (who led the jammers through a blistering "voodoo child" at the end of last week's festivities) was back with his open ears, sterling gtr chops, and book of toons to give the jam a bluesy, jazzy ambience -- at lower volume and with a higher degree of interactivity than it's had the last coupla weeks. from milt jackson's "bags' groove" to funky nawlins-style r&b to less familiar territory like steve huber's 7/4 "dry hump burn," hinkle was there listening and responding empathetically, like a good jammer should. james apparently enjoyed himself; i overheard him telling lee, "i guess i'm gonna have to tell betsy that i have a regular wednesday night gig."

other than that, it was a night of drummers. joe cruz (who might be joining villain vanguard but shhh...don't tell anybody) manned the traps throughout the evening, except for intervals when he was spelled by poet william bryan massey iii (who's now working as pam pride's sous chef at some joint in aledo) and a fella named wyatt, who did yeoman work on the p-funk standard "maggot brain." carl pack, who's been mostly absent for the past few weeks, returned to front the band singing "come together." wreck room wizard of sound andre edmonson's buddy chris "i taught him everything he knows" fisher is filling in for dre while dre's off in colorado with a-hummin' acoustical acupuncture, and in the finest wreck room tradition, "fish" provided an exceptionally clear, balanced mix. all in all, it was more fun than human beings should be allowed to have on a wednesday night.

sunrise fw 7/21/05

when those scattered clouds appear
and make the sky look like it's on fire
when that red orb begins its ascent from the east
you realize
that no matter what your mind can imagine
nature can come up with something that beats it
every single time

Thursday, July 14, 2005

johnny case, veterans for peace

musician-activist johnny case will be performing at the annual convention of veterans for peace, to be held august 4th through 7th at the irving campus of the university of dallas. johnny will be performing material from his new album love's bitter rage at noon on friday, august 5th. there's a sliding scale of fees for events. contact the dallas peace center at 214-823-7793 or email

art of the jam 9

"we're gonna turn the wreck room into a blues bar," lee allen said. and sure enough, he did -- for one night, at least.

lee just joined the experimystics, a three-headed hydra of texas blues/zydeco/r&b veterans (that'd be "tex-lectic" gtrist-singer-songwriter james hinkle, accordian master ponty bone, and jovial washboard daddy johnny mack), replacing stoney bass, who sadly passed away on the fourth of july. with a gig booked on friday, jam night seemed like a good opportunity for the band (with gunzi trevino on drums) to do a little public rehearsing.

hinkle's no stranger to the wreck, having played there for various benefits and fwac events, as well as making legendary late-night visits, like a wily santa claus in a natty fedora -- truly, james is the stylin'-est cat this side of jesse sierra hernandez -- to bestow wreck denizens with gifts of bbq chicken and crawfish on occasions when he was able to liberate some leftovers after performing at hip pocket theatre. he just won the blues category in the fweakly music awards, and has a new cd, straight ahead blues?, to boot.

i first saw ponty -- who splits his time these days between dallas and austin -- when he was playing in joe ely's band, opening for the clash at austin's armadillo world headquarters back in '79. he still makes that squeezebox sing sassy. kansas native johnny has been podnuhs with hinkle for at least a decade, since the days when they used to hold forth at the old pennsylvania pub, and his gave myself the blues from a coupla yrs back is one of the two or three best local blues releases in recent memory.

johnny's sunday night jam at the keys lounge on july 24th is planned as a tribute to stoney, with donations accepted to help defray his medical expenses. the cowtown blues aristocracy will be out in force. _was_ a rehearsal, but for listeners who are into the _process_ of music-making as well as the "product," watching some people's rehearsals can be more entertaining than some other people's shows. for those so inclined, it was _interesting_ to witness the usually in-your-face six-string bassist lee in laid-back, lockin'-it-in-the-pocket mode as he learned the toons; the resolution of a disagreement between various bandmembers over the chord changes to willie nelson's "night life;" and the easy banter between the musicians that gave way to a more focused demeanor once folks started to filter in from the bar to listen.

one avid but inordinately vocal fan insisted on engaging the men onstage in a lengthy dialogue on roky erickson, doug sahm, and various and sundry other texas music-related topics, but the positive outcome of his interruption was a version of sir doug's "stoned faces don't lie" sung by hinkle. like all the best blues players, james doesn't play a lot of notes, just the good ones, and at times, he'll use slides and reverse bends to produce snaky, pedal steel-like lines. when another fan put a $20 in the tip jar and respectfully requested that johnny mack sing cookie and the cupcakes' zydeco classic "matilda," johnny was only too happy to oblige. ponty carried himself with an air of dignified repose, and injected a little cajun spice into everything the band played.

when the experimystics finished, the few jammers who showed up (minus regulars steve huber, who was out of town; darrin kobetich, preparing for his trip to colorado; and damien stewart, recording with goodwin) played for about 45 minutes, dipping deeper than usual into the hendrix bag because i didn't know any of the black sabbath and van halen songs lee and joe cruz wanted to play. (and ray, i _tried_ to get lee to play "search and destroy," honest injun, but either he ignored it or it went right over his head. is it a generational or, um, a _cultural_ thang? _you_ decide!) the highlights of the set were joe's drum solo on "third stone from the sun" and a version of "voodoo child" with hinkle tearing it up on my fine, fine, supafine indonesian squier (and using pedals, which might have surprised a few people, but not me, 'cos i was in the keys the night the hinkle band took on, um, "whole lotta love").

jam-meister lee has still more surprises up his sleeve. "for awhile, i'd given up inviting new people to the jam," he said, "but i'm gonna start inviting some new ones soon." stay tuned.

Monday, July 11, 2005

rocky mountain high time, kulcha far i, blues

so this thursday is confusatron night at the black dog, with a difference. the recently-voted "best ja[zz](m) band in fw" is about to head up to colorado for some shows, along with pablo and the hemphill 7, a-hummin' acoustical acupuncture, and darrin kobetich. to raise money for the trip, i suppose a car wash/bake sale woulda been out of the question, so all of the above will be performing in various permutations at the dog, and fans are encouraged to throw money (easier because there's no cover). after this friday, when confusatron plays the power plant and darrin plays fred's patio after his regular wreck room happy hour thingy, you won't be able to see any of these bands until they get back on tuesday the 26th, so be forewarned.

kulcha far i has a coupla busy weeks ahead. they're playing the ridglea this friday and the wreck this saturday, then they're holding down the fort at the black dog next week while the confusatron boys are out of town. if you haven't seen 'em yet, you oughtta.

listening again to the robert ealey cd that sumter bruton put out a coupla yrs ago, i've realized that young, chops-heavy rock 'n' jazz cats like the ones i've been playing with lately don't always have the correct feel to play blues. but _some_ ppl do. scanning the calendar on this morning, i see my old frontman, hosea robinson, is at artistic blends on friday. hosea had some serious health problems last year and i dunno who all's playing with him these days, since john shook is now holding down the bass slot in kulcha far i, but if i were a wagering person like pete rose, i'd bet he still has the excellent gtrist jeff west (_don't_ call him "wild wild") onboard. anyway, it's good to see hosea back on the boards. i might even need to haul my ass over to wedgwood to check him out.

further blues-wise, i see that johnny mack, who always brings the party, has taken over the sunday night jam at the keys lounge on westcreek. and ray reed, brother of the late, lamented lady pearl, is at the keys on saturday the 23rd. i've missed ray's last coupla shows at j&j's and the keys, but he's always worth checking out, particularly if you dig electrified country-blues stuff like hooker, early muddy, and lightnin' hopkins. he does a nice, raw line in freddy king and albert collins instrumentalismo, too.

finally, just learned that stoney bass, who played bass with robert ealey, johnny mack, james hinkle, and just about everybody on the fw blues scene, just passed away. r.i.p. and go easy, bro.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


hanging around record town the other day, shooting the shit with sumter bruton and his illustrious ex-juke jumpers bandmate jim colegrove (now with lost country) got me thinking about record store culture, an environment where i learned most of what i know about music and also one that doesn't really exist anymore.

now, inasmuch as i'm not a big one for nostalgia -- believing, as i do, that the unwillingness to live in one's own time constitutes a form of cowardice that i donwanna practice -- i have to say that even resources like and will never take the place in my heart of grubby little mom-and-pop rekkid stores like the one i worked in as a weird, asocial teenager, where you could hang out for hours soaking up info and getting the clerk to spin you tunes (in the same way as "clubs" will never replace old man bars in my affections; one reason the wreck room is my fave rawk club on earth is that it's really just a neighborhood bar with a music policy, albeit one with the best soundman on either extremity of the metromess). around the time the big chains started purging employees with long hair, tattoos, or body piercings, and forcing the ones that remained to take drug tests and wear blue polo shirts over khaki pants -- which had the inadvertent effect of banishing anyone who knew anything at all about music in favor of mostly high school kids who, um, don't -- i kinda lost interest in shopping in mainstream rekkid stores. i could say a lot more about this, but nick hornsby has already pretty much done the riff to death already (in my favorite chapter of songbook as well as the more obvious high fidelity).

that said, i will admit to having resisted cd's on the basis of "whythefuck should i have to pay for all that stuff _yet again_?" until 1) my sister bought me a cd player, ca. '87; 2) movers broke my last turntable, ca. 89; and 3) my future ex-wife gave away all my _good_ vinyl records (precipitating a frenzied trip to every goodwill store in shreveport and bossier city, louisiana, in the course of a single evening, ca. '90; no luck).

i'm no vinyl fetishist, but a coupla yrs ago, i noticed that it was becoming possible to score loads of classic vinyl for ridiculously cheap (as long as you avoid the ads in the back of collector's rags and stick to thrift stores, garage sales, half price books 'n' the like). so last year, kat 'n' i decided to spring for a turntable as a kind of birthday present to each other. she still had her old rekkids and i had a growing stack of vinyl that i'd received from various ppl during my 15 minutes as an internationally renowned internet scribe and contributor to the local giveaway futon-'n'-hooker-ad vehicle. unfortunately, i broke our new acquisition's belt before its stylus could kiss the very first groove, and attempts to find a replacement locally proved futile. (amazing how hard it can be to find a flimsy rubber band, although i've recently learned that the folks from forever young records in grand prairie -- an establishment i avoid as assiduously as i avoid gtr center, and for the same reason -- have a booth at the saturday flea market at will rogers coliseum, where such trifles can be obtained.) a few weeks ago, i finally got around to e-mailing the turntable's manufacturer, who graciously sent me a replacement belt for free, and we've been enjoying it ever since.

a few observations on the vinyl experience:

1) as accustomed as i've become to the _convenience_ of cd's (like all of my fellow americans who've grown obese and indolent as our garage door openers and remote controls removed the need for even the slightest exertion from our existence), i kinda like the fact that vinyl listening is a lot more _interactive_ of a proposition than cd playage: you gotta _get up_ to change the rekkid every two to 20 minutes. (i was never a record-changer kinda listener, like my ex-bud who usedta stack up all the pink floyd albs on his changer at the beginning of each acid trip, so he could pass the next 4-5 hours in goggle-eyed relative immobility.)

2) listening to rekkids (as opposed to cd's) reminds us that less _is_ more. sure, i'm a greedy bastard just like everybody else, so i want bonus tracks and 80-minute cd's. but the fact of the matter is, nobody really _listens_ to an 80-minute cd. our attention spans aren't hardwired that way. in that sense, cd's (and ipods, and streaming radio, or hell, even old-fashioned radio its own self) are a better medium for _background music_ than active listening, whereas the more labor-intensive process of vinyl listening kinda _demands_ your attention. back when i had the discretionary income to do so, i actually shelled out $180 for the stooges funhouse box set on rhino. before i had to unload the thing to help keep the lights on during unemployment, repeated listens to, no fooling, 23 takes of "i'm loose" taught me an important lesson: that whoever it was that chose the takes that went on the original rekkid had pretty good ears and sense, and so that's the version i still reach for whenever i want that particular thrill (and i still dance all over the house to it just like i did when i was 14, too).

3) now, beauty is in the ear of the behearer; it's a completely subjective call, so i wouldn't presume to say definitively which one -- pristine digital clarity or organic click-'n'-pop-laden analog -- sounds "better," but i gotta say that to these feedback-scorched ears, there's a certain appeal to the imperfections of the old format which prolly has more to do with feeling comforted by hearing things the way i _originally_ heard 'em than i'd care to admit. plus, there are certain rekkids that just didn't make the transition from analog to digital very well, like bobby bland's two steps from the blues, where whole horn arrangements somehow got obliterated in the process of digital remastering. luckily, i scored an original mono version from sumter the other day. now if i can just find vinyl copies of the who sell out and cruisin' with ruben and the jets...

the pleasure of vinyl listening isn't confined to old shit, either. one of our biggest kicks the last coupla wks has been enjoying repeated spins of the 7-inch of the immortal lee county killers' "let's get killed," the way you're supposed to with any great single. as the killers' chet weise (who'll hopefully be visiting the fort this winter) would say: "come on."

gtr-playing robot

now _this_ is against nature. some geek at georgia tech invented a gtr-playing robot. of course, they prolly didn't realize that one already existed -- it was called steve vai.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

vano on vato, my total berry street experience

because i suck and had a migraine start kicking my ass around the time calhoun finished playing, i chumped on the darth vato show last night, but joe vano was there and can tell you about it. if this keeps up, i may have to use my recently-acquired medical insurance and go see a quack. or maybe andre can hook me up with on-the-natch remedies he learned from his mom the nurse.

i will say that it was nice to see all the ppl that came out to see darth vato and can't hang. (whatthefuck, reggae surf punks from maryland? and they were _tight_, too. like a fly's asshole, as we usedta say.) and the moon's chris maunder remains _the perfect host_. (a friend asked me, "is that guy the owner?" when i responded affirmatively, he said, "he looks like he _likes_ being the owner." as well he should.)

and tim locke remains my favorite candidate for rockstardom, not just because he has the talent 'n' toons, but because his onstage demeanor is so totally devoid of showbizzy "how you doin' fort worth?" boo-shee. plus his dad tom tells me he's got a buncha new songs. and it was byron gordon's b'day, too (the great 28). it's just kind of a bummer that calhoun isn't gonna gig again for awhile (big coma rally tour with flickerstick coming up). i never get tired of hearing those songs (although maybe they get tired of playing them). as if to recognize the weight of this, the aardvark even had a decent sound mix up front.

before calhoun, to have a total berry street experience, we went to the new expanded fuzzy's and scarfed down fish burritos 'n' shrimp quesadillas, then went for a drink at the cellar, which has changed very little since i first came here 25 yrs ago in that it's still like an old man bar (e.g., the kinda shot-'n'-beer places where i learned to be a man by watching the old guys that worked in the mill down the street, seeing the way they carried themselves, listening to the things they talked about, remembering not to say "fuck" when the occassional wimmin would grace the bar and matt or jerry would tell us all, "boys, let's show these ladies that this is _a gentleman's bar_"), even when populated by younger ppl, the kind of place you can strike up a convo with a total stranger across the bar and kill a couple of hours feeding the jukebox (which i usedta do regularly when i was freshly unemployed and got burnt out on spending my afternoons at the black dog). god bless the cellar and all who sail on her.

then today, we woke up and went to record town to shop for vinyl and see sumter bruton (who always gives me free gtr lessons from behind the counter), then to carshon's deli, which i'd never visited in all my years here in the fort in spite of the fact that i grew up on the east coast and simply adore some good jewish deli. gawd, i love this town.

Friday, July 08, 2005

wow what a weekend, art of the jam 8

it's an "everybody i work with is playing out" friday night. let me explain: at my dayjob, it seems like you can't turn a corner without running into a bassplayer. and they're all playing tonight. on berry street. dig: byron gordon (with calhoun, playing their last show for awhile so tim, byron, and max can concentrate on being coma rally) and jeremy hull (with collin herring and the spiffy new kent bass he acquired on the herring band's most recent excursion to the left coast) are at the aardvark, while steve steward (with darth vato, celebrating the release of their new e.p.) is at the moon. elsewhere tonight, confusatron (getting ready for their end-of-month jaunt to colorado, where lucas white is also gonna fill in on drums with pablo and the hemphill 7, since damien stewart can't make the trip) and 99 names of god (featuring mark cook on the amazing warr gtr -- kind of like a one-man king crimson) are at the ridglea. then saturday night, chatterton's at the axis, a'hummin' acoustical acupuncture's at the wreck, pablo will cover downtown in a blanket of reggae goodness from the patio at flying saucer in sundance square, and scott copeland (who apparently is _not_ employing lee allen on bass) will be at bronco's out in the wilds of, um, hurst. it's _nice_ to have to make choices.

although she's not yet as burnt out on it as she was on the brian wilson smile cd after i listened to it every day for a month or something, kat suggested to me that i _might_ wanna stop listening to andre's cd-r of the wreck room wednesday night jam from 6/15/05 before it becomes the mechanism that causes me to be dissatisfied with every other subsequent jam. this week, lee allen decided that the jam should be an 8-to-12 affair (rather than kicking off at 10 and going till closing). in this way, he hopes to get more ppl (jammers and, more importantly, civilians) out on a school night. darrin kobetich, who'd played seemingly every night for the past week, took jam night off to pay back some sleep. matt hembree and jeremy hull were supposed to show up but both wound up getting sidetracked; in the future, though, i'd like to see a four-bass jam where we can play spinal tap's "big bottom," just 'cause. who _did_ show up: goodwin's esteemed frontman tony diaz, who added some low comedy to the first set; joe cruz, who acquitted himself as nicely as always while splitting drum duties with damien; mark neumann from bombshelter, who played some gtr and forced us to perform "stayin' alive," a song that should _never_ be played by _anyone_; and some drunk cowboy from a band whose name i should remember, who i _almost_ let get up and sing before lee squashed the idea (sorry lee; i'll never do it again). i also got a little duet action with lee that reminded me that i need to practice my axe more (which should prolly include learning the musical backing to the monologue on fz's "muffin man"). unfortunately, the only ppl who witnessed all of the above (besides my wife and a guy from my work) were three wimmin who steve huber was trying to impress (two dancers and an accountant!), who left because the wreck doesn't serve frozen margaritas. feh. if a jam happens at the wreck room and nobody's there to hear it, what sound does it make?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Flipside Update

As promised/threatened, Flipside Trio has a gig TONIGHT, Wednesday, July 6 at the Fallout Lounge, 835 Exposition, across from the Fair Park Music Hall, starting at 9pm. No cover, so if you're in Dallas and wanna support jazz/improvised music/whatever euphemism you wanna use, go for it.

dig pussyhouse art link

here are a few creations by ray (me-thinks) and calvin (asian media crew) in their _other_ secret identities as the shadowy pussyhouse art collective. (warning: you need flash to look at this.)

Monday, July 04, 2005


i say i'm allergic to newsprint, but that isn't strictly true.

i'd started reading arthur when i saw you could get issues for free when buying recs from forced exposure. it had rekkid reviews by byron coley and thurston moore, so it seemed cool. then i found a big stack of them by the door at the wreck room last weekend, which is timely, since my current entertainment budget is more half price books than forced exposure.

this month's ish has an interview/appreciation of brian eno, a long piece about living off the grid in hawaii, instructions for siphoning gas from an suv, and a recipe for garlic-less pasta sauce that i've gotta try (maybe substituting plum tomatoes from our graden for the called-for tomato puree), with accompanying backstory that's almost as good as andre edmonson's "my mom's sauce" rap.

great writing, reasonably priced: what's not to like? (there's also a blog that has unique content worth reading.)

Sunday, July 03, 2005

tokyo kid brothers


the tokyo kid brothers were a troupe of nipponese hipis who appeared off-off-off-broadway at la mama in a hair-like extravaganza called golden bat ca. '70. my father actually took us to see it; i can only guess what he thought.

anyway, i was trawling the rekkids on byron coley's website and was surprised to find a bunch of their shit there.

truly, _nothing_ is too obscure to find on the little internet.

johnny case

stopped by sardines last night to hear johnny case's trio, with confusatron's matt skates subbing for byron gordon on bass (and _not_ lording it over anybody that his regular band had just been voted "best jazz group" by the fweakly's readers). johnny says his new recording, love's bitter rage, should be out by the end of the summer. it consists of all new case compositions dedicated to the victims of latin american death squads trained by the school of the americas at fort benning, georgia. the band includes joey carter on drums and percussion interludes, byron gordon on bass and first-time cello, and two vocalists (one who sings in english, the other in spanish).

my favorite story from the interview i did with johnny a coupla yrs ago (which didn't make the editorial cut when the story ran in the fweakly) involved byron and his predecessor as johnny's regular bassist, the late charles scott. i remembered scott from seeing him (along with pianist thomas reese and drummer walter winn) in marchel ivery's quartet at the recovery room on lemmon avenue in dallas back in '78, when i'd just arrived in texas. sometimes miles davis' '50s pianist red garland would sit in, and there was one memorable night when ornette coleman's '60s drummer charles moffett brought his three teenage sons over from fort worth to raise the roof while the ivery group was on break.

byron was a classical performance major at tcu, working as a busboy at sardines when charles' equipment started giving out. when scott's amp failed, busboy byron offered to go home and get his rig for the veteran bassist to use. when scott's instrument was in the shop, byron took to leaving his upright in the restaurant. one night, when johnny was playing solo, byron diffidently approached and asked if he might sit in for a song. after that, byron became a regular call for johnny anytime charles (whose health had begun to deteriorate along with his equipment) couldn't make the gig. "he'd always say, 'i'll play, but i wish mr. scott could be there,'" johnny recalled.

besides his musical endeavors, activist johnny's also been participating in antiwar protests organized by code pink outside the halliburton offices in the carter-burgess plaza at main and 7th downtown. the group has been picketing on the street outside from 4 to 6pm on wednesdays. will history show that dick cheney is to operation iraqi freedom as william randolph hearst was to the spanish american war? the verdict's still out, but we're betting on "uh-huh."

me-thinks blog

incredibly, ray from the me-thinks has gotten a little more, um, _regular_ about making updates to the blog on their website. the bit about the band of 14-year-olds with roadies is pretty choice.

btw, congrats to ray, marlin, and boyo for winning the "best hard rock band" category in the fweakly music awards. better them than, um, jethro tull or somebody. now if they can just finish that damn double ep...

Saturday, July 02, 2005

from the fort to the world

ok, lessee...i'm trying to get this pieced together from the various websites and online communiques of the bands involved:

7/16 - PAONIO, CO: A-hummin' Acoustical Acupuncture @ Dreamtime Festival w/Kan'Nal and Hamsa Lila
7/21 - VAIL, CO: A-hummin' Acoustical Acupuncture, Pablo & the Hemphill 7, Confusatron, and Darrin Kobetich @ the Sandbar
7/22 - DENVER, CO: A-hummin' Acoustical Acupuncture @ Quixote's
7/22 - AVON, CO: Pablo & the Hemphill 7, Confusatron, and Darrin Kobetich at Loaded Joe's
7/23 - BOULDER, CO: A-hummin' Acoustical Acupuncture and Kan'Nal (together all night one band improv) @ Trilogy Lounge w/Lunar Fire
7/23 - BOULDER, CO: Darrin Kobetich @ Caffe Sole

looks like the rocky mountains are about to get higher.

also, underground railroad has received and accepted an offer to play at the progday festival in chapel hill, nc, over labor day weekend. woo hoo!

saint frinatra

fell by fred's friday night to hear saint frinatra, brian sharp's six-piece "augmented" version of his stripped-down society-gig unit, the b#3. fred's a/c had quit working that morning, so there were a few more folks than usual out on the patio, to which outlaw chef terry chandler has made a few more improvements (although, as he points out, "what i _do_ depends on what i _make_" -- money-wise, that is), thankfully leaving the currie and morton sign visible from the patio.

school's out now, leaving middle school strings teacher chris white more time to work on his trumpet, flute, and bass chops, which he demonstrated by playing some tricky sliding double stops by way of transition between "chameleon" and "footprints." pianist frank hailey's son michael was occupying the drum seat and with a couple of additional percussionists onboard, they had a nice little section that sounded particularly good on the brazilian numbers rebecca gillespie sang. hailey pere looks to have left some troublesome health problems behind for the time being at least, and the leader strolled to give him the opportunity to take the spotlight on "bluesette." brian did his usual beat poet-styled recitative on "mercy, mercy, mercy" in addition to his horn work.

(besides their fred's residency, saint frinatra's playing at hip pocket theatre through the end of july. the band's website has a bunch of andre edmonson-engineered mp3's from the shows they played at the wreck room back in the winter of '03-'04.)

afterward, we walked around the neighborhood a bit and watched the "concerts in the garden" fireworks from the lancaster ave. bridge. since they moved the downtown fireworks from the end of taylor st. to la grave field, it's no longer possible to view them from our old vantage point atop the parking garage by tcom, so that just might have been our 4th of july this year. as we strolled back by fred's on the way to the car and home, we heard chris playing the riff from "smoke on the water" behind the vamp on "wave." you gotta love a musical jokester.

music criticism runs in my family

in the rented van, driving aimee's stuff to her new place
(in a house with friends over by the college;
when one of the roommates moved out, the others lobbied
with the one who holds the lease to have her move in)
when benny goodman's "sing, sing, sing" comes on the radio.

"wow," she says, "that's _such_ a rock'n'roll record."

it's true: with gene krupa (the proximate model for keith moon
in both propulsive percussion technique and substance abuse patterns)
on drums, the tune winds its way from climax to climax,
each solo setting up another one, a real '70s move
recorded around the time chuck berry was born.

she moved out once before, after high school, saying she wanted
"the experience of paying for shit" before college.
six months later she was back: "i'm tired of working all the time
at a job i hate so i can afford to live in a place i don't like."
"come home," i said. and she did.

this time feels more permanent, and i feel kinda divided
between not wanting to let go and feeling proud of the person
she's become, who thinks things through and doesn't make rash decisions
the way i did when i was 20. before i go, i tell her,
"this is a good place, i think" and she answers with a big smile.

i think she's going to be fine.

Friday, July 01, 2005

extreme leisure, art of the jam 7

i've been off from work since yesterday, and i don't have to go back till tuesday. and this afternoon, rain arrived like a candygram from the gods to hopefully wash away the choking blanket of pollens and hydrocarbons that's been irritating the eyes and sinuses of virtually everyone i know here in the fort these past three weeks. yesterday, kat and i went on a movie binge, watching rashomon, the n.y. dolls reunion doco (thanks tommy and marissa), tank girl (love those rippers), dazed and confused (which i'd never seen in its entirety, so i didn't realize that ben affleck, whom i've always despised, was the film's most loathesome character), and clerks in a single 12-hour span. tonight, it'll be crusader rabbit vs. the state of texas, my fave childhood cartoon which my big sis in jersey generously sent as a b-day gift.

inasmuch as most of my fave music remains on homemade cd-r, i've been spending more time than usual lately listening to store-bought music for various reasons. went looking for some old burning spear to fill out a reggae compilation for a coworker of kat's and came home instead with the easy dub all stars' dub side of the moon and the 35th anniversary reish of gentle giant's free hand. the former's a reggae spin on the pink floyd alb that by all rights i had my lifetime quota of listens to back in the summer of '73, even before "classic rock" radio overexposure should have consigned it to the dustbin of history. and yet, and yet...the melodies continue to beguile the ear, and yes kids, it's wizard of oz-approved (of course it damien points out, part of the dub methodology is, um, playing along with the record). gentle giant, on the other hand, was prolly the most interesting of the english prog bands from the standpoint of presenting their ridiculously complex contrapuntal melodies with a flair for non-bombastic showmanship (e.g., having various bandmembers exchange instruments mid-song without missing a note). plus i have a sentimental attachment to this particular rekkid that stems from my having discovered it (at a friend's apartment in albany, during a post-dropout visit there) on the same night when i first read bukowski.

besides that, my dtr bestowed me with a new copy of charles mingus' tijuana moods -- possibly my favorite mingus rec after the black saint and the sinner lady, which fact didn't prevent me from giving my last copy to a muso bud, foolishly thinking that it'd still be easily available locally (object lesson for jazz aficionados: major label jazz catalog is as ephemeral as the most sporadically distributed indie; get 'em while you can). then a coupla days later i was in half price books, looking for the tupelo chain sex record i had surreptitiously slipped into the back of one of the bins (from whence it vanished without a trace; instant karma? _you_ decide!!!) when i stumbled on a steal: the three-cd comp of sides duke ellington cut between 1940 and 1942 with the blanton webster band (blanton being jimmy, the man who invented the bass as a solo jazz instrument, while webster refers to ben, a highly distinctive tenor sax voice, echoes of whom i hear in the work of occasional black dog jammer kwazi vann). true, this particular reish omits the ellington-blanton duets (including "sophisticated lady" and "body and soul") that grace the most recent edition, but that sucker sells for 30 bucks used, while this one was on offer for half that. you can't be as enamored as i am of mingus without digging you some duke, although i will admit that my feedback-scorched ears can't really hear the classic ducal recordings from the '20s and '30s as well as these and subsequent ellington sides -- probably the result of having grown up watching '30s cartoons that used swing era toonage as soundtrack fodder. oh well. or i can try making myself look cool by saying i prefer the billy strayhorn era of dukedom. whatevah.

however, my favorite rekkid of the moment isn't actually a record at all. au contraire, it's the recording of the 5/15/05 edition of the lee allen-carl pack wednesday night wreck room jam, which andre edmonson's been documenting on vhs tape, the audio portions of which he burns to cd-r's for the edification and enjoyment of the participants and interested civilians (if you see andre and ask him nicely, i bet he'll burn you one). on the particular night in question, the cosmic tumblers were all in alignment: not only did dre get his most balanced recording mix to date, all of the participants (including guests brian sharpe on trumpet and flugelhorn and jeremy hull on bass alongside usual suspects like violinist steve huber and wildman metal shredaholic gtrist darrin kobetich) played their asses off. right now, my favorite bits are the "speed-metal" version of herbie hancock's "chameleon," which jeremy kicked off at land-speed-record tempo; chick corea's "la fiesta," on which darrin played a solo like a damn scirocco blowing out of the sahara; and a piss-take attempt at the old status quo-via-camper van beethoven hit "pictures of matchstick men," with delicious back-to-back solo statements from confusatron's john stevens and darrin. the heroes of the piece, though, are damien stewart, a drummer's drummer who knows how to let the grooves breathe, and reluctant bandleader lee, whose in-the-moment direction can transform a potential clusterfuck into something transcendent.

in all honesty, i gotta say that it ain't always that way, which is part of the gig's appeal: you never know what's gonna happen. this past week, f'rinstance, some combination of illness (at least three participants that i'm aware of were suffering weather-related sinus maladies), fatigue (especially on the part of the bandleader, who took a much more laissez-faire approach than usual, after introducing the command "clusterfuck!" -- upon hearing which the jammers are all supposed to stop whatever it is we're doing posthaste), and the phases of the moon conspired to make the jammage seem more like a shouting match on different topics between barroom drunks (or maybe the "parallel play" of a room full of 4-year-olds) than the multi-leveled conversation that it can be at its best. for sizable chunks of the evening, it seemed like everyone was soloing at once, and anytime a groove threatened to break out, the velocity of the music would accelerate, squashing any attempts at interplay. feh. i know they can't all be diamonds, and i look forward to being proved wrong once the tale of the tape is told, but i suspect that ain't gonna happen. all of this is even more regrettable in light of the fact that there were more people in the audience than on any jam night yet. hopefully they all thought it sounded like gold and will come back, bringing all of their friends. ya mo be there. maybe you too? (especially the not-regular jammers, gtrist mark deffebach and drummers caroline collier -- thanks for bringing the cymbals! -- and joe cruz.)

high points of the evening for me: seeing darrin show up nattily attired in his new "religion kills folks dead" t-shirt and listening in on the post-jam discussion between the bar staff and various friends 'n' hangers-out on such non-rock'n'roll topics as pasta sauce. in general, service industry folk tend to accumulate a repertoire of jokes, stories, mannerisms, etc. (to fully understand this, you need to see graham richardson imitating someone else imitating him: "oh, right, so _i'm_ the asshole here!"), in much the same way as a muso accumulates chords, scales, riffs 'n' lixxx. it's part of their stock in trade. get a bunch of 'em sitting around and the resultant convo can be a masterpiece of improvisational art akin to the most rarefied jazz. proof positive (as if anymore were needed) that entertainment is truly where you find it.