Wednesday, April 01, 2015

WACKY WEDNESDAY: A Twisted Rock 'n' Roll Prank

HeWhoCannotBeNamed
Here's a Wacky Wednesday April Fool's Day tribute to one of the craziest rock 'n' roll pranks of all time.

It involves a punk band called The Dwarves and their guitarist known as HeWhoCannotBeNamed.

In April of 1993 (I can't swear that the date was April 1, but the holiday was bound to have had something to do with this) The Dwarves announced that HeWho had been stabbed to death in a barroom fight in Philadelphia.

The horror! Dying in Philly!

But it turned out to be a little joke.

Their label at the time SubPop, was not amused.

Click to enlarge 
The label issued a press release on June 23, 1993, saying that Dwarves vocalist Blag Dahlia had provided the label "with detailed, repeated and convincing evidence that Hewho had been killed in what appeared to be  an anonymous `bar fight' in Philadelphia last April, a few months following their winter European tour.

I'm still not sure what an "anonymous" bar fight is, but let's continue:

"The information was even detailed enough to have included an address to send flowers and condolences, for which we received a thank-you card from Hewho's `family' in Wisconsin. ...

"When we discovered it was a hoax, we accepted Blag's defense that it was a 'punk rock thing to do,  in keeping with the spirit of the band, a simple experiment in media exploitation, and at very least a long-overdue spark of something remotely interesting in a supposedly `alternative' music scene that , as recently evidenced by Lollapalooza, has become as staid, corporate and boring as the institutions it originally sought to shatter.

"While all of the aforementioned may be true, it is also true that the whole ordeal unforgivably overstepped the bounds of media manipulation and self-promotion. ...[it's] an inexcusable exploitation and trivialization of death itself."

The release went on to mention two musicians who actually had recently died "whose deaths were most readily associated with the purported death of HeWhoCannotBeNamed. ... the obvious fact remains that everyone has been affected by death, and crass exploitation of these emotions in what essentially amounts to commercialism is inhuman."

But this public upbraiding wasn't the only consequence of the hoax. In the same press release, SubPop announced that the upcoming Dwaves album Sugarfix would be the last one on the label. And it was.

At that point it was too late to change the artwork in the CD booklet, which had a black-and-white photo of the masked guitarist with the inscription "He Who Cannot Be Named 1972-1993."

If that birthdate is more trustworthy than the death date. he would have been 20 or 21 when all this came down.

And the album ended with a song that would have looked prophetic had the beans not been spilled on the hoax. It was called "Wish That I Was Dead." The liner notes said that was for Del Shannon, whose suicide in 1990 was not a hoax.

Asked about the death prank in Eric Davidson's (New Bomb Turks) 2010 book We Never Learn: The Gunk Punk Undergut, 1988-2001 Blag said, "Well, HeWho transcended life and death, he is a great figure and he fucking dies for your sins. I told them that at SubPop. How was I supposed to know he would rematerialize? Meanwhile, they had no sense of humor about it ..."

So you decide: was this good rock 'n' roll fun or a sick example of bad taste? But, as Charlie the Tuna might say, do you want rock 'n' roll with good taste or rock 'n' roll that tastes good?

Whatever, everyone survived The Dwarves' little prank. Subpop's still around, The Dwarves are still around ...



Hewho's still in the band, though he's done some solo stuff as well ...



And you can still find this magic song:



(Thanks to FLICKR member warrenjabali for preserving the SubPop press release)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

TERRELL'S SOUND WORLD PLAYLIST


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Sunday, March 29, 2015 
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M. 
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time 
Host: Steve Terrell
Webcasting!
101.1 FM
email me during the show! terrell(at)ksfr.org

Here's the playlist below

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Party Like It's ONE MILLION YEARS BC on the new Big Enchilada Episode


THE BIG ENCHILADA




Yabba Dabba Do, fellow homo erecti!! This month the Big Enchilada is going to get down to the bedrock of rock 'n' roll with some modern Stone Age sounds. 

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Here's the playlist:

(Background Music: Caveman by Los Straitjackets)
Caveman by Barrence Whitfield & The Savages
Dial Up Doll by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Jaybird Safari by The Brain Eaters
Twinkle Toes by The Neanderthals 
Scat Song by Mojo JuJu & The Snake-Oil Merchants
You Can't Teach a Caveman 'bout Romance by The 99ers

(Background Music: The Cave by Chuck Holden)
I Caveman and You by Los Peyotes 
Bakaloria by Mazhott
Shake a Bone, Capone by The Frantic Flintstones
Del Dia de su Muerte by Los Eskeletos
Blind and Deaf by No Hit Makers
Bedrock Barney by The Dickies
Cave Girl by The Texreys 

(Background Music: Cave Man Love by Space Man & The Rockets)
Neanderthal Beat by Jonah Gold & The Silver Apples
Cave Man by Blood Drained Cows
Boogeyman by The Mad Doctors 
Shoplifter by Quintron & Miss Pussycat
(Background Music: Alley Oop by The Hollywood Argyles)

Play it on the player below:


Friday, March 27, 2015

THE SANTA FE OPRY PLAYLIST


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Friday, March 27, 2015 
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM 
Webcasting! 
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time 
Host: Steve Terrell 
101.1 FM
email me during the show! terrel(at)ksfr.org

Here's my playlist below:

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
Red Red Robin by Rosie Flores
I Like to Sleep Late in the Morning by Jerry Jeff Walker
Do as You Are Told by Texas Martha & The House of Twang
Flyin' Saucer by Yuichi & The Hilltone Boys
That Nightmare is Me by Mose McCormack

Mose McCormack live in KSFR Studio

Santa Fe Trail
Perfect Sea
Naco Jail
Dusty Devil
Joni
Out on the Highway
Lost and Never Found 
Hillbilly Town
Under the Jail

The World's a Mess It's in My Kiss by X
Poor Little Critter in the Road by The Knitters
The Union Dues Blues by Chipper Thompson
Wanted Man by Johnny Cash
Year of Jubilo by The Holy Modal Rounders
A Fool for Love by Marty Stuart
Where the Comet Falls by Al Duvall
Jean Harlow by Lead Belly

Someday We'll Look Back by Merle Haggard
Whiskey and Cocaine Stevie Tombstone 
Wildcat Run by Red Sovine
Shortnin' Bread by J.E.Mainer & Red Smiley
The Fox by The Waco Brothers
My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You by The Rizdales
That's How I Got to Memphis by Kelly Willis
I Made a Friend of a Flower Today by Fayssoux Starling McLean & Tom T. Hall
I'll Think of Something by Hank Williams, Jr.
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets 


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Steve Terrell is proud to report to the monthly Freeform American Roots Radio list

Live Tonight on the Santa Fe Opry: Mose McCormack



Mose McCormack will put you under the jail tonight on The Santa Fe Opry!

McCormack, who has been picking and singing and occasionally releasing albums in New Mexico music since the 1970s, will be playing on my show, starting a little bit after 10 pm Friday (Mountain Time) on KSFR, 101. FM in Northern New Mexico and streaming live HERE.

Here's a profile of Mose I wrote for No Depression back in the '90s. And below is Mose performing one of his tunes:



Thursday, March 26, 2015

TERRELL'S TUNE-UP: Mojo JuJu and Bettye LaVette Cast Their Spells

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
March 27, 2015


Mojo JuJu & The Snake Oil Merchants.
Ms. JuJu is sitting with resonator guitar 


Close your eyes and imagine you’re lost on a foggy night on some uncharted back street off the Reeperbahn in Hamburg or near the port of Amsterdam, where the sailors all meet. From some dangerous little dive you hear music: after-hours blues, off-kilter torch songs, Gypsy jazz, hot Weimar Republic cabaret, “punk noir,” strange tangos, and dark, soulful ballads. But before you can go in, you wake up.

Don’t worry. You can find that kind of alluring music on a new collection called Anthology by Mojo JuJu & The Snake Oil Merchants.

In case you’re not familiar with Mr. and Mrs. JuJu’s baby girl, she’s an Australian from Melbourne who has been a solo act for a few years. But Off Label Records, my favorite crazy German punk/alt-blues/garage/slop country/jug-band record company in recent years, compiled this collection of her work with her old band and released it last month to expose this music to a wider audience — and, I suppose, to show us what we’ve missed.

The music here falls somewhere between that of Cab Calloway and Gogol Bordello. I’m also reminded of the Eastern European-influenced Firewater. “Fisherman’s Daughter” starts off with a horn section that sounds like it might have come from a ’90s ska-punk group. And if anyone claims that Tom Waits isn’t a major influence, they’re either lying or deaf. Try to listen to Mojo’s banjo-led, horn-accented “Sacred Heart of Mary” without being tempted to sing along in your best phlegm-heavy Waits voice.

And elsewhere, like on “Transient Being,” you might be reminded of the late Amy Winehouse. That is, if Winehouse had been prone to using accordion and trombone in her songs. In one interview, Mojo said she gets her inspiration from “scary antique stores.”

Sounds reasonable.

Some of the best tunes here are the ones that sound like they could have been theatrical pieces. “Scat Song” would have fit in on the soundtrack of Boardwalk Empire (maybe in a scene set in Chalky White’s nightclub). “God and the Devil” is a little morality drama in which a woman hears a pitch from the Prince of Darkness and asks, “Well, I looked that devil right square in the eye and said, ‘Do I look stupid to you?’ ”

One of the darkest, most striking songs on Anthology is the near-seven-minute “But I Do.” It’s slow and menacing. Mojo sings of pain in her heart, the piano plays sinister little one-finger trills that sound like Morse code, and the drummer seems to be pounding to drive away demons.

The song that sounds most autobiographical here is “My Home,” an intense tango in which Mojo sings:

And the color of my skin and the color of my eyes 
has meant that even in my homeland I have been mistaken for a stranger in a foreign country
But it’s my home. This is my home. 

She sounds angry and proud. It’s powerful.

Mojo Juju, without her Snake Oil Merchants, is about to release her latest solo album, Seeing Red/Feeling Blue, next month. That should be worth checking out.

Also recommended:



* Worthy by Bettye LaVette. I normally don’t quote James Taylor much (if at all), but listening to this album made me flash on an old line by sweet baby James: “A churning urn of burning funk.”

To be sure, it’s slow-burning funk, and one of my few problems with the album is that there should have been a few more faster numbers. But like LaVette’s best work since the turn of the century, the soul runs deep. Every song on this album is a raw emotional statement — though that’s also true of just about all the songs on just about all of her albums.

Quick biographical note: LaVette has been in the music biz since the 1960s. But as a result of bad breaks, bad business decisions, and the fickle nature of the entertainment industry, she never quite made it beyond the status of cult favorite.

That changed around 10 years ago, when she met up with producer Joe Henry, who helped LaVette make I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise, an album that not only was worthy (yes, I used that word) of her talents, but also had some commercial appeal, at least for hip adults.

She’s made some fine albums since then — one of my favorites is The Scene of the Crime, which Patterson Hood, of the Drive-By Truckers, produced in 2007 and which had a nice rock ’n’ roll edge.

When it comes down to it, Henry is a perfect fit for LaVette. And Worthy is a sweet reunion.

The album contains a song from each of the cosmic trinity of 1960s rock: “Unbelievable,” an obscurity from Bob Dylan (from the critically disdained 1990 album Under the Red Sky); a Beatles throwaway, “Wait” (from Rubber Soul); and the Rolling Stones’ “Complicated,” which was on their underrated album Between the Buttons.

But LaVette isn’t aiming for some empty-headed ’60s nostalgia here. Remarkably, she makes you all but forget the original versions by these exalted masters. I didn’t even recognize “Complicated” until about halfway through. “Unbelievable,” which kicks off the album, is the toughest and, yes, funkiest thing on the record. And LaVette brings out more emotional depth in “Wait” than the Fab Moptops ever did.

Other gems on Worthy are the slow, bluesy “Just Between You and Me and the Wall You’re a Fool” (written by James Brown, but not that James Brown); the stunning “Undamned,” which begins, “Sometimes the things we believe turn out to be nothing but a scam/I’m just trying to get my world undamned”; and “Stop,” a minor-key Joe Henry tune in which LaVette gets defiant. “Don’t tell me to stop,” she sings.

But I don’t know anyone who wants Bettye LaVette to stop.

Video time!

Here's Mojo JuJu



And here's Bettye covering The Beatles



||||

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Kingdom Coming in the Year of Jubilo

Here is a classic American tune that perhaps you first heard in an old cartoon.

Like this one:



Or maybe you remember it from Ken Burn's Civil War series.

Or maybe ever so often it just bounces around in your subconscious, just part of your American musical DNA.

It's called "Kingdom Coming" or sometimes "Year of Jubilo." And it was written in 1862, during the Civil War, by a  popular songwriter of the day named Henry C, Work (1832-1884).

Warning: The song was written for a minstrel show. And we all know about minstrel shows. Indeed, this song does contain a racist epithet: "darkies" and it's meant to be sung in minstrel show dialect,

But before we condemn Henry C. Work, consider his life. Born a Connecticut Yankee, he was a devout abolitionist and supporter of the Union in the war,  It ran in the family. His parents’ house was used as a stop in the Underground Railroad for escaped slaves fleeing to Canada.

Despite the minstrel show conventions found here, the lyrics mostly ridicule the "massa," who has been frightened away from his own plantation by Union gunships.

It's a song of liberation in which the slaves celebrate, locking the cruel overseer in the smokehouse and helping themselves to the massa's liquor cabinet.

“The whip is lost, the handcuffs broken, but the master will have his pay ..."

I couldn't find any Youtubes of the song from the 1860s, but here's an old version by National Barn Dance radio star Chubby Parker:



Will Rogers sang it the 1932 film Too Busy to Work in which Rogers, playing a drifter named "Jubilo," who is reunited with his long-lost daughter,



Singer Pokey LaFarge did a wonderful version of "Kingdom Coming" in the 2013 compilation Divided & United: The Songs of the Civil War. He cleaned it up a little, changing "darkies" to "brothers."



But my favorite version still is that of The Holy Modal Rounders, who recorded two versions of it through the years, both titled "Year of Jubilo." They joyously screw with the lyrics. In the Rounders' versions you don’t see Lincoln’s gunships, you see Lincoln himself with “a piece of paper in his hand,” presumably the Emancipation Proclamation. “Abe Lincoln come, ha ha/Jeff Davis go, ho ho,” they sing.)



Have yourself a jubilant Thursday!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

WACKY WEDNESDAY: The Whole World Digs That Sound From the U.S.A.


They wanna hear some American music, American music
They wanna hear that sound right from the U.S.A. ...
The whole world digs that sound from the U.S.A.

The Blasters sang it.

I believe it.

That settles it.

And so I'm going to indulge in a little American exceptionalism, musically speaking, and present a little showcase how different styles of the American music we love deeply in out hearts have been reinterpreted by pickers and singers from all over the globe.

Some of the music below might make you laugh at first. That's OK. After all, it's Wacky Wednesday. But after a chuckle or two, listen to these songs. There are some fine musicians here and their art is a testament to the glory of American music (not to mention the kinship of musicians throughout the globe and the strands of human culture that unite creative people everywhere.).

Obviously, American music has been influenced by all sorts of sounds that originated in Europe, Africa, Mexico, pre-statehood Hawaii etc. But hard-working American musicians turned it all into something new. And around the world, those who heard the call soaked it in and added their own sounds and made it new again.

In fact, the artists I like best out of these are the ones who take our roots music and add elements of their own culture. One of the best examples of this is a Romanian blues band called Nightlosers. Years ago I reviewed their album Plum Brandy Blues. And I still love it.




And how about a little late-'60s/early-'70s psychedelic garage soul from Ghana: I give you The Psychedelic Aliens!



And now, some hardcore, Casbah-rockin' punk sounds from war-torn Syria. This band from Damascus is called Mazhott. And they rock! Their sound is quite addictive.

According to a 2009 interview in Taqwacore Journal, they started out around 2007.

Guitarist Rashwan says:

The Mighty Mazhott
We sing about stuff that matters to young people, in general, and social [issues]. [For example], the high school diploma, here, is unbelievably difficult, so, we wrote about that. We wrote about fathers forcing their young daughters to marry older men, about our generation that is frustrated and lost and don’t know wot to do with their lives,  about less separating of boys and girls, and about how we need more attention and freedom.

Below, from the group's Bandcamp page is their 2013 EP M is for Mazhott. (And if you like these amazing songs, fork over a couple of bucks and buy it! I did.)



And of course, there is Japanese bluegrass. The Ozaki Brothers, Yasushi and Hisashi, are bluegrass pioneers in the Land of the Rising Son, who as pre-teens in World War II, had to secretly listen to the American folk music they love because the government had banned it, according to WAMU's Bluegrass Country website,

Here's a 2009 video of the brothers singing "Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb."



And let's close out with some Argentine rockabilly by a band called Coyotes!



God bless America!

(Hat tip to Tripp Jennings, who inadvertently inspired this with an unrelated Tweet last week,) 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

TERRELL'S SOUND WORLD PLAYLIST

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Sunday, March , 2015 
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M. 
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time 
Host: Steve Terrell
Webcasting!
101.1 FM
email me during the show! terrell(at)ksfr.org

Here's the playlist below

Like the Terrell's Sound World Facebook page

Subscribe to The Big Enchilada Podcast! CLICK HERE

Thursday, March 19, 2015

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Springtime in the Rockies



Tomorrow, Friday March 20, is the first day of Spring.

About damn time!

So in celebration of the changing of the season, here are three of my favorite songs about spring.

First, Gene Autry, performing the title song -- or close to it-- of one of his classic singing cowboy movies, Springtime in the Rockies, which was released in 1937.

Five years later, Betty Grable made a movie with the same title.




But Autry didn't write this song. A Mormon history blog called Keepapitchinin tells the tale:

The ballad became a hit single for Gene Autry, and later for country singer Hank Snow. The nostalgic words set to their simple melody suggest that this is an old folk song, its words polished by countless anonymous singers. But it is a 20th century creation, its lyrics written by a Mormon girl, Mary Hale Woolsey, born in Springville, Utah, in 1899.

Mary attended Provo High School, then Brigham Young University where she served as a class officer and wrote for student publications. With a keen ear for the spoken word, Mary wrote several operettas performed by local theater and church groups and found a ready market for her radio plays.

She successfully collaborated with professional musicians. “Springtime in the Rockies” was published in 1929 with music written by Robert Sauer and was followed by other songs in the sentimental western genre – “When the Wild, Wild Roses Bloom,” “Colorado Skies,” and “On the Trails of Timpanogas” were all popular for a time.

So there is our history lesson for the day. Here are two other spring favorites:

Here is Bobby Troup, the guy who wrote "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66."



But I first heard "Their Hearts Were Full of Spring" by The Beach Boys, who based their version on that of The Four Freshmen. Here is a downright haunting live rendition from sometime in the '80s:



Finally, here's Elvis and some pals with "Spring Fever" from his motion picture classic from 50 years ago, Girl Happy.


Happy springtime to all!