Monday, March 22, 2004

Catching Up

First I'll post the play list for Friday's Santa Fe Opry from substitute host Sean Conlon. (Hopefully he'll send his Terrell's Sound World list too.)

Following will be last week's Terrell's Tune-up.

The Santa Fe Opry
Friday, March 19, 2004
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
Guest Host: Sean Conlon


OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
Mekons - Oblivion
Kitty Wells - It wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels
Dinah Washington - Cold, Cold Heart
Jerry Lee Lewis - Since I Met You Baby
Linda Gail Lewis & Van Morrison - Crazy Arms
Ray Price - You Done Me Wrong
Jeffrey Fredrick & the Clamtones - Weep Weep Weep
Alex Chilton - Waltz Across Texas
Mary & Mars - King of Pain

Waco Brothers- The Lie
Lorette Velvette - Happy Xmas (War is Over)
Eugene Chadbourne - Universal Soldier
Johnny Cash - Man in Black
The Byrds - 100 Years From Now
Ted Hawkins - Long As I Can See The Light

Sid King & The 5 Strings - 1955 Broadcast
That's All Right
Rock My Soul
Maybelline
Wildwood Flower
There She Goes
Making Believe
Flip, Flop & Fly
Five String Hoedown
George Jones - 1956 Louisiana Hayride
You Gotta Be My Baby
Color of the Blues

Carl Perkins - Let The Jukebox Keep On Playin'
Emmett Miller - I Ain't Got Nobody
The Knitters - Poor Little Critter in the Road
Patsy Cline - Lovesick Blues
Janis Martin - Drugstore Rock & Roll
The Collins Kids - Hot Rod
Hank Snow - The Golden Rocket
Niu Abdominaux Dangereux - Ghosts
Modern Mountaineers - Everybody's Truckin'
Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant - Stratosphere Boogie

Johnny Bond & His River Valley Boys - Mean Mama Boogie
Spade Cooley & His Orchestra - Yodeling Polka
Leon McCauliffe & His Western Swing Band - Blue Guitar Stomp

Terrell's Tune-up
As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican, March 10, 2004

From South Dakota to Tofu Ridge

The more I listen to the music of Joe West, the more I’m convinced that Santa Fe has a world-class songwriter/performer walking among us. His latest CD, South Dakota Hairdo, reinforces that notion.

Like all of West‘s efforts, Hairdo is collection of fascinating songs. Weird enough to keep things fun but real enough to pack a punch. Many, maybe most of West’s songs display a sardonic sense of humor, sometimes poking fun at life in Santa Fe (People not from here might actually think “Tofu Ridge” is a real geographical location if they only know the City Different from Joe’s songs.)

But they aren’t novelty songs by any means. Take the final track, “Video Taping Our Love.” In lesser hands, a tune with this title would be a dirty joke. And indeed it kind of starts off that way (“If you got issues and you’re camera shy/Paranoid and you don’t know why/Come on baby, come on with me … “) But the slow, sad, minor key melody (in which West is backed by singer Aimee Curl) avoids the easy Dr. Demento path, instead becoming a lament of insecurity and the urge to hang on to fleeting moments.

And by the last verse, it becomes an ode to “Jamie,” West’s mythical lost-love muse, a flawed goddess who has survived domestic violence, alcoholism and untold stupid love affairs in I’m not sure how many West songs.

Jamie’s all over South Dakota Hairdo. She’s the star of “Jamie III” (here, she wants to move to the suburbs.) She drops hints of bisexuality in “More than You’ll Ever Know.”

And she’s also the subject of the best song on the album, “Reprimand.”

“People talk about Jamie like she was some kind of whore/But the truth of the matter is I ain’t never loved a girl like her before.”

The melody of the verse is similar to Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row,” though “Reprimand”’s rhythm is upbeat. Like Dylan’s “Shelter from the Storm,” there’s the image of soldiers gambling for the clothes of the crucified Christ.

The song is a declaration of love despite what seems like overwhelming odds against it. When his bandmates join him -- sometimes singing in unison rather than harmonies -- West sounds like he’s ready to defiantly march into Hell for the mysterious Jamie, and he‘s taking his band down with him.

The South Dakota Hairdo production team, headed by Bill Palmer and Nathan Moore (ThaMuseMeant), wisely keeps the emphasis on West’s vocals (a pleasant drawl in which I detect trace evidence of James McMurtry, David Bromberg and Lou Reed).

But also they let West’s band (I think they’re called The South Dakota Hairdo here, though he’s been playing some gigs lately billed as Joe West and The Sinners) show their stuff. The band includes lead guitarist Derek Zelenko, bassist Jennifer West (I’m not sure what teh relation is), drummer Paul Groetzinger and, on various cuts, keyboardist Kevin Zoernig and all three members of Mary and Mars. (More on them below.)

Whatever you want to call this group, it’s a very solid ensemble that’s loose enough to sound roadhouse funky but precise enough to strengthen each song.

South Dakota Hairdo doesn’t replace Jamie Was a Boozer as my favorite West album. Still, Hairdo only reinforces my appreciation of young Joe‘s talents as a songwriter and performer.

Also recommended:
*Live at the Old Blinking Light by Mary and Mars.
When Martian Josh Martin gave me a review copy of this CD a couple of weeks ago, he said, “It’s mainly just covers” -- almost apologetically.

Well, it’s true that most the tunes here were written and recorded by others. But the diversity of sources -- including songs not normally associated with bluegrass by the likes of Burt Bacharach, Beck, Tom Petty, Bob Marley and Sting -- is pretty impressive in itself.

And the performances live up to the promise. I especially enjoy Bacharach’s “Say a Little Prayer,” sung by mandolin demon Sharon Gilchrist. (This isn’t the first time this song’s gone bluegrass. Jerry Douglas recorded a version in 1979.)

Also notable is “Ready For the Times to Get Better,” a forgotten Crystal Gayle hit sung by Gilchrist.

My favorite Mary and Mars Dylan cover, “Maggie’s Farm” isn’t on this one. But they do a righteous job on their speeded up version of “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue.”

For the record, the trio plays “regular” bluegrass tunes quite well also. They prove it here on “Pretty Polly” (over covered yes, but the harmonies as well as the picking make this version worth it) and Jim & Jesse‘s “Hard Hearted.”

And there are a couple of originals -- Martin’s “Deck of Cards,” and guitarist Ben Wright’s instrumental “Stillwater Breakdown.”