Friday, April 30, 2004

I'm Only in it for the Love

Some words of wisdom I remember from Dick McCord, my old editor at The Santa Fe Reporter 20 some years ago. I'd written a feature about a local author who happened to be Jewish, which prompted some anonymous slimewad to send a letter to the editor denouncing the author in the most hateful, anti-Semetic terms possible. McCord just shook his head.

"One thing you learn in this business, Steve. They're out there," he said.

A story I wrote for today's New Mexican prompted an e-mail that, while not nearly as bad as the one I described above, still proves McCord was right. They're out there.

Here's the e-mail -- published exactly as written -- and my reply. Not surprisingly, my response bounced back as undeliverable.


its easy to know which party your overzealous and overweight,and probably
beer drinking steve terrell is affiliated with.to bad the new mexican
continues to keep this guy around.his articles are tastless and most high
school newspapers would not have them write for them.terrell should go back where he came from.where racism is still rapant and the gop are still
lynching people of color.

Dear (name withheld. It probably was phony anyway),

A few points,

1) I don’t drink beer any more. But I used to.

2) I’m not affiliated with any political party. As a political reporter I’ve
covered events put on by Democrats, Republicans and Greens. I covered a
Republican event last night. Tuesday I expect to cover John Kerry’s visit to
Albuquerque.

3) I am overweight.

4) I’ve lived in Santa Fe nearly 36 years, since I was 14. I moved here from
Oklahoma. I really don’t want to go back. When exactly am I entitled to
citizenship in New Mexico in your eyes?

5) There is racism in Oklahoma, but I don’t believe lynchings are rampant.

6) You imply that I’m a racist. Can you show me anything I’ve written that
would indicate that?

Thanks for reading The New Mexican,

Steve Terrell

TERRELL'S TUNE-UP: Heeeere’s Johnny!

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican, April 30, 2004


Fans of Johnny Dowd immediately will know they’re on familiar ground when they hear the first verse of “Brother Jim,” the first song on his fifth album, Cemetery Shoes:

“Brother Jim is locked up In prison/His crime, I’m ashamed to say/God bless his wife/Goddamn the knife/Brother Jim is doing life,” he sings to an upbeat nightmarish near-polka musical backdrop.

Once again, Dowd singing his off key, meandering melodies in his dark Okie drawl, takes his listeners on a sometimes frightening, but often funny tour of his troubling world It’s a planet populated by determined losers struggling against cruel odds; small-town Sisyphuses pushing their boulders up hills they’ve created themselves; spurned and humiliated lovers, killers, deviants, the repentant, the unashamed. All this, plus a good, unhealthy preoccupation with death.

A little background for the uninitiated: Dowd was raised in Texas and Oklahoma, but for many years has earned his daily bread operating a moving company in Ithica, N.Y. He didn’t start recording until he was nearly 50 when he released his 1998 debut The Wrong Side of Memphis, full of off-kilter murder ballads and other tales of the underbelly.

At first he was lumped in with the alternative country set (and Dowd indeed do very twisted takes on a couple of Hank Williams tunes on his next album Pictures From Life’s Other Side.) But as his sound developed, with all the horror-movie synths, screaming guitar and crazy rhythms, it started to resemble some mutant New Wave or garage band. Trying pigeonhole Dowd’s music was fruitless.

On the new album, it’s hard not to laugh at some of Dowd’s protagonists -- the cross-dressing butcher’s boy in “Wedding Dress” for instance. But in songs like “Easter Sunday,” which has the refrain “Please don’t fill Bobby’s head with lies,” you can’t help but feel the shame, fear and anger that non-custodial parents have all experienced at one time or another.

Indeed, holidays are special times In the Dowd Universe. This CD also has Johnny’s latest Yuletide ditty, “Christmas is Just Another Day,” which starts out “There’s no joy in Christmas without her …”

My only real complaint about Cemetery Shoes is the absence of Kim Sherwood-Caso, whose sweet voice made a striking counterpoint to Dowd’s crazed Residents-like vocal attack. I hope she’s not gone for good.

This album has been out since early this year, but only on the Dutch label, Munich Records. I waited to review it, hoping an American company would soon snatch it up. But I got impatient because I haven't seen any movement on that front.

Wake up, America! Johnny Dowd is a true American artist. There's no excuse for having to give money to foreigners just to hear his stuff (though the Munich Records people are good folks and were in Santa Fe recently). Dowd is already a psychic exile. Don't force him to remain an artistic exile.

Also recommended

Aw Cmon and No, You Cmon by Lambchop
I’m basically a newcomer to this critic-hailed outfit and it took me awhile to warm up with these two simultaneously released CDs by Nashville iconoclast Kurt Wagner and his band.

Both albums are full of lushly orchestrated (courtesy of a studio ensemble called The Nashville String Machine) tunes, including several instrumentals Wagner wrote for the new score for a 1927 silent film called Sunrise. Both are full of slow, soul-drenched ballads and melodies that fall somewhere between American Music Club and Mercury Rev.

Wagner has an interesting voice. It’s deep and some actually have compared it to that of Leonard Cohen. I don’t hear that though. Cohen’s voice sounds like a geological movement, while Wagner’s is more choppy and, well, mumbly. It’s definitely more human scale. Plus he often sounds as if he’s suppressing laughter, holding back some funny secret to which his lyrics only hint.

The second album, No, You Cmon, is the more diverse of the two. It’s actually got a couple of rockers on it -- “Nothing Adventurous Please” and “Shang a Dang Dang” -- and “About My Lighter” sounds almost country. (Like Johnny Dowd, Lambchop initially was marketed as “alt country.”)

And one song, “The Gusher” starts out with a strange metal flourish, settles into a bosa nova groove and by the end somehow transforms into the Mary Tyler Moore theme song.

But I’ve come around to prefering the more somber Aw Cmon. The cocktail piano blues of “Women Help Create The Kind of Men They Despise” is irresistible. Zappa fans would recognize Daddy Frank’s influence on the weird vocal bridge in the middle of this song.

Even the last two tracks account for some of the sexiest music I’ve heard in years

The slow moving “I Haven’t Heard a Word I’ve Said” features Wagner singing over a gurgling wah-wah guitar, a piano and acoustic guitar. (The most disturbing lyric here: “Somehow with the help of pills, I remain a pillar of calm.”)

The final song on the album, “Action Figure” is even slower and dreamier There’s 3 a.m. Johnny Ace vibes and the drummer’s using brushes and a fuming guitar that sounds like it’s about to explode. Wagner croons like a cabaret singer on the verge of a prison stint.

Where can I hear Johnny Dowd and Lambchop?: On Terrell’s Sound World, the home of freeform weirdo radio, of course. I’ll play selections from all three of these CDs Sunday night, 10 p.m. to midnight on KSFR, Santa Fe Public Radio, 90.7 FM.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

ROUNDHOUSE ROUND-UP: Matchmaker, Matchmaker

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican

Nothing is going to stop speculation about our governor as a possible vice-presidential candidate until John Kerry finally makes the long-anticipated announcement.

The latest to weigh in on the veep selection, Barbie Adler, isn't your normal political commentator. In fact, she deals more with the politics of the heart than the regular kind. Adler runs Selective Search, an upscale matchmaking service in Chicago.

OK, quoting dating-service owners about these important political matters might seem silly. But at this point, matchmakers, psychics and card readers probably know as much about who Kerry will or should pick as your serious political pundits.

Adler was quoted this week in two major papers about finding a (running) mate for Kerry.

And guess who she likes?

According to The Wall Street Journal, Adler says, "because Sen. Kerry appears a bit stiff, his running mate ought to soften the team by being 'more human.' Her choice? New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson."

And according to the Dallas Morning News, Adler said, "Gov. Richardson is a little bit down to earth. ... He's someone to watch football with -- more of a meat-and-potatoes type of guy."

Keeping with the food metaphor, Adler told the WSJ that while Kerry ordered lobster bisque, Richardson could eat cheeseburgers with us regular folk.

Meat, potatoes and Cohibas: However, Richardson's taste in cigars is hardly on the cheeseburger level.

Reporter Brent Israelsen of The Salt Lake Tribune was in Albuquerque for the recent Western Governors Association Energy Summit. In an interview with Richardson, he noted the governor's choice of expensive cigars from the embargoed island.

"Q: Since you're smoking a Cohiba, what would you do with Cuba?

"A: I would continue pressing Castro on human rights. I think his record is abominable. But I believe the best way to change Cuba is to consider some openings, perhaps some economic openings, rather than isolating it.

"Q: Would you lift the travel ban?

"A: Yes."

And for the love of Pete, don't do anything to hurt the cigar industry.

For the record, it is illegal to import Cuban cigars into the United States, but not illegal to possess or smoke them.

He's back before he's even gone: No disrespect meant to David Harris, the budget whiz who ably has served two governors from two parties and worked in two branches of state government.

But he's starting to remind me of the old song by Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks: "How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away?"

Last month, the governor's office announced that Harris would be leaving his post as executive director of the New Mexico Finance Authority to become an executive vice president of administration at The University of New Mexico. At the time Richardson said he'd be calling Harris back for "special assignments."

On Wednesday he did.

Richardson by executive order enlarged the Governor's Finance Council from 12 members to 16. The new posts will go to two cabinet secretaries -- Human Services and Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources -- the state engineer and "a senior financial officer of a state institution of higher education, as selected by the governor."

For that slot, the governor selected Harris.

Harris, because of his former position, was already on the Finance Council, serving as co-chairman. That position will be filled by James Jimenez, secretary of Finance and Administration.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

FREE STEVE TERRELL MP3s

I just signed up with a new service called SoundClick, which seems to be a lot like the old MP3.com. CLICK HERE to visit my new page. Download all you want (there are currently tunes not on the Potatoheads CD. More will surely follow), leave me cryptic messages on my groovy message board, amaze your friends.

I added my SoundClick page to the list of links in the upper right corner of this blog, so you can always find it there.

Speaking of music downloads, I just discovered the Internet Live Music Archives where you can legally download live shows for free. The selection of artists isn't great, but there are lots of shows by The Mekons and The Grateful Dead.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Terrell's Sound World Play List

Terrell's Sound World
Sunday, April 25, 2004
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M.
Host: Steve Terrell

OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Spreading the Love Vibration by 27 Devils Joking
Necrophiliac in Love by The Blood-Drained Cows
Andres by L7
Poison Ivy by The Von Bondies
Sputnik City Buvi Buvi by Kishidan
God is a Bullet by Concrete Blonde
Tight Pants by Iggy Pop
Monkey Man by Jim Dickinson
Teenage Head by The Flamin' Groovies

One Beat by Slaeter-Kinney
Career Opportunities
Rattler by Bob Log
Hey Mom by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Restin' Bones by Primus
Life is An Adventure by The Violent Femmes
Hangin' Round by Lou Reed
Ready Steady Go by The International Noise Conspiracy
Please Warm My Weiner by Bo Carter

Afghan/Forklift by Stan Ridgway
King For a Day by Stan Ridgway
Folly of Youth by Pere Ubu
Millionaire by The Mekons
Rest in Peace by Johnny Dowd
Sweet and Dandy by Toots & The Maytals with Trey Anastasio


I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts by X
Let Me In by R.E.M
Please Come Home Before It Rains by Otis Taylor
Women Help Create the Kind of Men They Despise by Lambchop
Way With Words by Hecate's Angels
You're Breaking My Heart by Nilson
Across the Bright Water by Bone Pilgrim
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Saturday, April 24, 2004

The Santa Fe Opry Play List

The Santa Fe Opry
Friday, April 23, 2004
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
Host: Steve Terrell


OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
Portland, Oregon by Loretta Lynn with Jack White
Eggs of Your Chickens by The Flatlanders
Old Man from the Mountain by The Gourds
Reprimand by Joe West
Lightning by Trailer Bride
Starry Eyes by Roky Erickson with Luanne Barton
I'll Probably Live by Kell Robertson

Muley Brown by Bill & Bonnie Hearne with Jerry Jeff Walker
Wake Up Sally (The Cops Are Here) by Stan Ridgway
Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing by Chris Isaak
American Trash by Betty Dylan
I Washed My Face in the Morning Dew by Johnny Cash
Pay No Attention to Alice by Patterson Hood
Pardon Me, I've Got Someone to Kill by Lonesome Bob
How Long Will It Take by Lefty Frizzell
In Dreams by Roy Orbison

Jon Langford Set (see review of All the Fame of Lofty Deeds below)
Last Fair Deal by Jon Langford
Constanz by Jon Langford
See Willie Fly By by The Waco Brothers
Sweet Kind of Love by The Pine Valley Cosmonauts
Deliah by The Pine Valley Cosmonauts with Sally Timms
The Country is Young by Jon Langford
The Return of the Golden Guitarist by The Mekons
Revolution Blues by The Waco Brothers
Watching the Horizon by Jon Langford with Sally Timms

Sputnik 57 by Jon Langford
Are You An Entertainer by Jon Langford & His Sadies
Tom Jones Levitation by Jon Langford with Sally Timms
The Fame of Lofty Deeds by Jon Langford
Nashville Radio/The Death of Country Music by Jon Langford's Hillbilly Lovechild
Trouble in Mind by The Pine Valley Cosmonauts
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

Friday, April 23, 2004

Terrell's Tune-up: All the Fame of Jonboy Langford

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican, April 23, 2004


On his new solo album, All the Fame of Lofty Deeds, Jon Langford tackles one of his favorite themes, both in his music and his paintings — the travails and temptations of country singers in post-war America.

The Welshman Langford has played “Lost Highway” with The Mekons and sung of “The Death of Country Music” with The Waco Brothers. As a visual artist, he’s known for his disturbing depiction of Hank Williams as a Saint Sebastian-like martyr — arrows sticking into his body, ribs sticking out of his skin — and Bob Wills signing a recording contract. A few years ago he did a series of granite tombstones with his favorite deceased country stars surrounded by skulls and rattlesnakes and booze bottles.

So once again Langford tells the story, which seems to be a distillation of everything that makes America attractive and everything that makes it repulsive.

It’s a story we’ve all heard, a tale of the farm boy Faust. It’s the story of Hank Williams, the story of Elvis Presley. The story of George Jones channeling his demon duck. It’s the myth of Johnny B. Goode, who’s grown old and jaded after seeing the inside of too many jail cells and divorce courts, seeing too many close views of too many barroom floors.

It might be the story of Faron Young, who took his own life decades after he broke the promise he made when he sang, “I’m gonna live fast, love hard, die young and leave a beautiful memory.” But Faron’s final chapter doesn’t seem to match the character of Langford’s hero, Lofty Deeds. After all, the last song on the album is a rousing cover of the blues/country classic “Trouble in Mind,” where, in spite of the singer’s threat to lay his head on the railroad tracks, the singer holds out the faith that “the sun’s gonna shine on my backdoor someday.”

But Langford’s album isn’t just an account of bad luck and human weaknesses. It’s a subtle indictment of a society that would drive its greatest voices to drink, drugs and despair.

Lofty Deeds is a man of his time, and his time was the Cold War era.
The song “Sputnik 57,” with its chunka chunka Johnny Cash rhythm, tells of the paranoia of those times, linking the Russians’ launching of the sputnik satellite to the Vietnam war to Neil Armstrong. “That’s one small step for man/One giant leap from Vietnam,” Langford growls.

And yet Langford, who has lived in the U.S. for a decade or so and is raising his children here, doesn’t get overly strident. In “The Country is Young,” a slow gospelish country tune, he is forgiving, and more than a little paternalistic about his adopted homeland: “So big and so clumsy .. You gotta wipe its fat ass and buy it some toys …”

Although the story he’s telling is tragic, this is hardly a dour album. Langford captures the joy of Lofty’s career as well as the tragedy. There’s a crazy Cold War cowboy bravado in the face of certain disaster in happy sounding songs like “Hard Times” and “Over the Cliff.” The ride in that song, with its driving honky tonk piano, sounds like so much fun, you’ll want to go over the cliff with him.

But in the dirge-like title song the consequences start to manifest:
“When the candles snuff and things get rough your enemies will seek your company/ When you’re all alone, pick up the phone/ I’m skull and bones/ remember me.”

This song is followed by one of Langford’s greatest tunes, “Nashville Radio,” done here in an up-tempo style. With a melody similar to “Rocky Top,” the narrator here is the ghost of Hank Williams, who sings of getting kicked off the Grand Old Opry and getting arrested only to have a jailer ask for his autograph.

“Doctor, doctor, please sign my prescription/ I’m in trouble again/Ever since I was a little tiny baby/ I just couldn’t get rid of the pain.”

This version has a power of its own. But the definitive “Nashville Radio” is found on an obscure limited edition EP called Gravestone. (Now out of print. I own copy number 368.) In its previous incarnation it was slow and dreamy with an electric sitar and a reggae-like bass, done as the first part of a medley with “The Death of Country Music.”

You’ll sympathize with Lofty’s plight and wonder why our favorite doomed entertainers keep making the same bad choices and stupid mistakes. You question why the entertainment industry seems to always create stars only to chew them up and spit them out. You wonder about a public that is thrilled to see some star go over the cliff. You wonder about yourself.

But in the end, Lofty’s story only begs the question. Would the music of Hank Williams — or Robert Johnson or Kurt Cobain — be as haunting or powerful if not for their pain? To steal a line from Tom Waits, if we could exorcize their demons, would their angels leave too?


Drink and Pills and Langford Radio:
Tune into The Santa Fe Opry for a lengthy set of Lofty Deeds and other Jon Langford music, 10 p.m. tonight (Friday) on KSFR, 90.7 FM.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

ROUNDHOUSE ROUND-UP:Confession is Good For the Soul

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican

This week I had to write about a state Senate candidate who lied. At a public forum on Monday the candidate said she'd never been arrested for drunken driving. In fact, as court records and state motor-vehicle records show, she had been convicted of DWI, albeit two decades ago.

Reaction to the story from some supporters of Letitia Montoya has been along the line of "Why are you dredging up 20-year-old cases?" One man posted a note on The New Mexican's Web site that said, "The press sure loves to dig up dirty laundry."

Most of those responding seemed to understand an essential point: It's not a story about the 1984 drunk-driving arrest of a woman in her early 20s -- it's about the false statement in 2004 by an adult in her early 40s who is running for state Legislature.

Had Montoya admitted to the decades-old arrest at the forum, it would have rated far less attention.

But as long as I'm being accused of dragging up "dirty laundry" from a political candidate's past, let me come clean with some of my own.

In 1975, when I was 21, I was charged with DWI.

I was driving my roommate's Volkswagen bug, because he was even drunker than I. Or was he? He at least had enough presence of mind to realize he was too drunk to drive. But he had a lousy choice for a designated driver.

We were heading for a bar, the old Rosa's Cantina in Algodones. I ran into another car, which was coming from Rosa's.

Despite the old saying that drunks always come out unscathed, I came out the worst by far in the wreck. I broke my hip, which required a month's stay in the hospital and having to use crutches for two months. I still have metal pins in my hip and a Frankenstein scar along my left leg.

No, I'm not seeking sympathy.

I was stupid. It was inexcusable. I was guilty.

But I wasn't convicted. At my hearing in Sandoval County Magistrate Court, the state agreed to drop the DWI and to reduce the charge of reckless driving to careless driving. I paid a fine and that was it.

Having covered so many DWI-related trials and covering so many DWI bills in the Legislature, I marvel at how easy it was to get off on drunken driving back then.

And no, it wasn't because of some fancy lawyer. I was represented by a University of New Mexico law student in a legal-aid program they had for UNM students at the time.

I don't know if I was ever actually arrested. An ambulance at the scene took me to the hospital. A few days later a state-police officer came to my room and gave me my tickets. I was never jailed for the DWI.

This wretched part of my past is something I've never hidden from my children. While it's nothing I'm proud of, I've always wanted them to know that irresponsible acts can have serious consequences -- even with nice, well-meaning people like their dad.

Not a stealth candidate: Speaking of Monday night's candidate forum, I reported that Robert Mallin, a District 25 Senate candidate who is unopposed in the Republican primary, was invited to attend but didn't show up.

"I never got an invitation," Mallin said Tuesday. "I don't want people to think I'm a stealth candidate. I would have gone. I'm not well known and I want to get better known."

Al Lopez of Voices of Santa Fe, the group that organized the forum, said in an e-mail that he sent Mallin the same invitation all the other candidates got.

The group's next forum -- which is for House of Representatives candidates in Districts 45 and 47 -- is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Friday at Eldorado Hotel.

Monday, April 19, 2004

WILCO CANCELS LENSIC SHOW

Following Jeff Tweedy's recent stint in drug rehab, Wilco has cancelled eight late April shows, including the April 27 show at The Lensic.

READ ABOUT IT HERE

Terrell's Sound World Play List

Terrell's Sound World
Sunday, April 18 2004
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M.
Host: Steve Terrell

OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Mixed Business by Beck
Cab it Up by The Fall
Don't Slander Me by Rocky Erickson
Mask by Iggy Pop
Imposter Costume by The International Noise Conspiracy
Papa Satan Sang Louie by The Cramps
Born to Lose by Social Distortion
Transcore by Chopper Sick Balls

The Ballad of Dwight Fry/Sun Arise by Alice Cooper
Crawl Through the Darkness by The Von Bondies
When I Was Young by The Ramones
Easter Sunday by Johnny Dowd
Big American Problem by Drywall

Sounds of Attica by Otis Taylor
You So Evil by Willie King & The Liberators
Old Buck by Charles Caldwell
Why Did You Get Mad at Me by Lightnin' Hopkins
Letter From My Darling by Solomon Burke
Bitch Done Quit Me by King Ivory
I've Got Blood In My Eyes For You by The Mississippi Sheiks

Bad Attitude by Lisa Germano
I Haven't Heard a Word I Said by Lambchop
Relatively Easy by Bone Pilgrim
Call on Me by Lou Reed
Strange Angels by Laurie Anderson
Trouble in Mind by Marianne Faithful
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Saturday, April 17, 2004

The Santa Fe Opry Play List

The Santa Fe Opry
Friday, April 16, 2004
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
Host: Steve Terrell



OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
Two Six Packs Away by Dave Dudley
Living a Lie by Jon Langford
Prisoner of Love by Jon Rauhouse with Kelly Hogan
Lost to a Geisha Girl by Skeeter Davis
$500 Car by Ed Pettersen
Kindness by Eric Hisaw
Weight of Love by Starlings TN
Believe by Dollar Store
Adverse Possession by Emily Kaitz
Take Me Back by Billy Kaundart

Sal's Got a Sugar Lip by Johnny Horton
Say It's Not You by George Jones
Bluebonnet Girl by Bill & Bonnie Hearne
Darling Do You Know Who Loves You? by The Stanley Brothers
Breakdown (A Long Way From Home) by Kris Kristofferson
I'm Troubled by Jerry Garcia & David Grisman
Song for Roxy by Kell Robertson
Don't Stay Away (Til Love Grows Cold) by Lefty Frizzell

April 14 by Gillian Welch
The Titantic by Bessie Jones, Hobart Smith & The Georgia Seal Island Singers
The Great Dust Storm by Woody Guthrie
Booth Shot Lincoln by Bascom Lamar Lunsford
Ruination Day by Gillian Welch
Drink My Wife Away by David Allen Coe
Whine de Lune by Trailer Bride
Are You Going to Miss Me Too? by Ana Fermin's Trigger Gospel

The Maple Tree by Grey DeLisle
The Kid From Spavinaw by Tom Russell
I Still Miss Someone by The Earl Scruggs Revue with Johnny Cash
Phases & Stages/Walkin' by Willie Nelson
I Just Want to Meet the Man by Robbie Fulks
Going Where the Lonely Go by Merle Haggard
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

Friday, April 16, 2004

Terrell's Tune-up: Hayride into History

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican, April 16, 2004

When most people think of influential country music radio shows of the middle part of the past century, the first one that comes to mind is The Grand Ole Opry, which broadcast live out of Nashville every Saturday night on the NBC radio network.

The Opry was the biggest one, but right behind it was Louisiana Hayride, a Saturday night show broadcast live on the 50,000 watt KWKH in Shreveport, La.

Hayride, which began broadcasting in 1948, was host to some of the greatest names in American music -- Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Lefty Frizzell -- who performed live at Shreveport Municipal Auditorium.


A poster for a live 1955 show advertises a bill including Presley, Jones, Johnny Horton and others. The price: 60 cents, general admission, $1 for reserved seats. Kids’ tickets were half price.

An independent company called Scena Records last year began a new series of CDs called Live Recordings From The Louisiana Hayride.

Last year they released separate collections by Johnny Cash and June Carter. In recent weeks Scena has released CDs featuring George Jones and Johnny Horton.

Both the new ones feature songs culled from several appearances. Typically a Hayride performer would only sing a handful of tunes one a Saturday night because so many acts were on the bill.

Both the Jones and Horton CDs both demonstrate that whoever was recording the shows didn’t have in mind the eventual commercial release of the program.

But while the recording quality isn’t top-notch, both albums capture a truly exciting era in country music. This was real country music back before we all had to ask “what is `real’ country music?” (Hint: When Johnny Horton -- known as “the singing fisherman” -- stops to tell a fish story before performing “Honky Tonk Man” -- that’s real country.)

To be sure, these albums, especially Jones’, serve more as fun curios than great musical discoveries.

In the case of Jones, none of his Hayride performances here top the studio versions -- the best of which are so full of soul and emotion they can make you pull over your car if you hear them on the radio.

The Jones album spans 13 years, going back to 1956. About half of the songs were recorded as late as 1968-69. (And surprisingly, the recording quality is not noticeably better than the ‘50s material.)

Many of his greatest hits are here: “The Race Is On,” “Walk Through This World With Me,” “White Lightning,” “She Thinks I Still Care.”

But more interesting are the lesser-known earlier recordings, most of which Jones himself wrote or co-wrote. For most his career Jones is thought of primarily as a singer and song stylist, not a writer. But had a hand in writing some good ones. “Nothing Can Stop My Loving You,” is a classic hillbilly stomper co-written with the late Roger Miller. “Accidently on Purpose” and “Don’t Stop the Music” are fine country weepers.

As much as I love George Jones, the Horton CD is more exciting. Part of this is because there is so much less Horton material available. He died in 1960, at the peak of his career at the age of 35, killed by a drunk driver after a gig in Texas.

I’ve always thought Horton would have been far more influential had he lived longer.

Like Johnny Cash, Horton was known for delving into the world of folk music with faux-folk hits like “The Battle of New Orleans,” “When It’s Springtime in Alaska,” “Johnny Reb,” and “Sink the Bismarck.” He also did upbeat country versions of real folk tunes like “John Henry” and “Rock Island Line.”

And like that other Johnny, Horton also did a good job blurring the lines between “country” and rockabilly. “Honky Tonk Man” is a good example. “One-Woman Man” and “Sal’s Got a Sugar Lip” are others.

But perhaps his greatest song was the “Whispering Pines,” a stunning little lament of loneliness written by Horton crony Howard Hausey. It was the B-side of “Springtime in Alaska,” but it should have been the hit.

Horton‘s performances of all these songs here are so full of life I‘m convinced more than ever he could have been one of the big ones.

Santa Fe Hayride: Hear the above albums plus lots more country music as the good Lord intended it to sound on The Santa Fe Opry, starting at 10 p.m. Friday, KSFR, 90.7 FM. And don’t forget Terrell’s Sound World, freeform weirdo radio, Sunday, same time same channel.

Local gigs:

Church of the Cowgirl: It was a great way to spend Easter morning, hearing Santa Fe’s newest country gospel group Velvet Love Train. The group is something of a Marvel Team-up featuring Bonnie Hearne, Joe West and Margaret Burke on vocals. They’ll be back at the Cowgirl this Sunday, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Admission is free -- but they pass the collection plate.

We’ll remember always Graduation Day: John Egenes, who has picked and strummed with most of Santa Fe’s finest is about to graduate from the College of Santa Fe’s music program. He’s doing a “senior show” open to the public -- and free. Egenes will be playing all kinds of stuff there, including some original pieces with a 9-piece string section, along with a pianist, playing 4 or 5 pieces he's written. Guest musicians include Bill Hearne, Margaret Burke, Tom Adler, Steve Lindsay, Mark Clark, Frank Reckard and Melanie Monsour. The show starts 7:30 p.m. April 27 at the Greer Garson Theater.

NOTE: It ain't easy being a knucklehead. In the printed version of this column -- and for several hours here in blogland -- the above Egenes plug mistakenly said John would be playing "playing 4 or 5 pieces I've written." I took most the info from an e-mail from John, and I forgot to change it.

So to make it perfectly clear, as President Nixon used to say, John will be playing John's music, not mine. (He wants to make a good grade.)

And don't forget Kell Robertson's gig at Cafe Oasis Saturday night, with special guest, ME. See post immediately below.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

LIVE AT THE OASIS

Poet, country singer and American ramblin' man Kell Robertson is performing Saturday night at the Oasis Cafe on Galisteo Street at Paseo de Peralta.

The old rascal has asked me to sing a couple of songs there during the gig. What the Hell, I'm going to do it.

Show starts at 8 p.m. Hope to see you there. I'll play a little Kell Friday night on The Santa Fe Opry too. (on KSFR , 90.7 FM 10 to midnight.)

ROUNDHOUSE ROUND-UP: GOVERNORS IN A HURRY

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican

Gov. Bill Richardson can no longer be singled out as a governor who likes to speed.

According to the April 3 issue of National Journal, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell — who has earned the nickname “Fast Eddie” — also likes to order the pedal put to the metal.

Pennsylvania state police who operate the state turnpikes have clocked Rendell’s car at 100 mph-plus nine times since November, the magazine reported. “They’ve repeatedly caught the Democratic governor’s state-owned Cadillac limo speeding in the left lane with its emergency lights flashing and sirens wailing.”

But the Keystone State cops have never ticketed the governor’s drivers — who, as in New Mexico, are state police officers.

“State troopers who work on Rendell’s detail say the governor usually sits in the front passenger seats and orders them to drive faster,” the National Journal said.

Sound familiar?

For those of you who weren’t following New Mexico news last fall, here’s a paragraph from a Washington Post profile on Richardson, describing a drive to a political function in Albuquerque:

“Hurry up,” Richardson says as the driver, trailing a car with flashing lights, guns it onto Interstate 40. The two-car caravan hits 95 mph, then 100, then 110, weaving in and out of traffic, making strategic use of sirens.

But unlike our governor, Rendell didn’t claim “security” as a reason for his speeding. After his high-speed habits were made public, a comparatively contrite Rendell released a statement saying, “I will begin to monitor the speed that I am being driven.”

Poll vaulting: New Mexico is one of five “battleground” states the New Hampshire-based American Research Group has polled in the past month or so concerning the presidential race. Nobody should be surprised that the race is extremely close.

According to the telephone poll of 600 likely New Mexico voters, conducted March 28 through April 1, President Bush leads Sen. John Kerry 46 percent to 45 percent. Ralph Nader attracts three percent of the vote, while six percent are undecided. The margin of error is four percent.

Nader, who is running as an independent this year, has not secured a spot on the state ballot. With Nader out of the race, Bush and Kerry are tied at 47 percent each, according to the poll.

The poll indicates that Kerry has some work to do in shoring up support in his own party here. Only 60 percent of Democrats who responded said they have a favorable opinion of the presumptive Democratic candidate. This compares with 90 percent of state Republicans who have a favorable opinion of Bush.

(Of course you have to keep in mind that in New Mexico there are pockets of very conservative Democrats, especially in the southern part of the state, who rarely like or vote for Democratic candidates.)

Dick Bennett, president of ARG, said Wednesday the group is independent and non-partisan. He said he’s not sure when, but he’ll be polling in New Mexico again.

What’s it all about, Ralphie?: Speaking of Nader, according to his website, there is still no state coordinator for the campaign in New Mexico.

However state Green Party co-chair Carol Miller said Wednesday she’s appointed herself “interim convener’’ for Nader. Miller — who is running as a “favorite daughter” presidential candidate at the Green convention in Milwaukee, said she probably won’t end up as Nader’s state coordinator herself, but she’s helping the national Nader organization identify possible candidates for that job.

To get on the ballot as an independent, Nader would have to gather 14,527 signatures of registered voters in the state by Sept. 7.

However if the national Green Party chooses Nader as its presidential candidate — which is a real possibility according to Miller — those signatures wouldn’t be necessary.

By the way, according to the ARG poll, Nader leads both Bush and Kerry in one important area — unfavorability. According to those results, 62 percent of New Mexico voters have an unfavorable opinion of Nader. Bush is a distant second with 45 percent and Kerry even further back with 19 percent.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

NOTE-worthy

First time in weeks that one of my stories gets mentioned in ABC News' THE NOTE, and I get misquoted.

Here's what they said:

The Santa Fe New Mexican's Steve Terrell reports that Gov. Bill Richardson is in Washington today to support the 527s. LINK

Actually the governor is down in Albuquerque today hosting the Western Governors Association North American Energy Summit.

Oh well ...

Monday, April 12, 2004

RICHARDSON/LIMBAUGH LINK

When I quote from other sources on the internet in this blog, I generally like to supply a link, so you, gentle readers, can see it for yourself in the original context.

But when posting last week's Roundhouse Round-up column here Thursday morning, I was unable to locate the page on Rush Limbaugh's web site that included his remarks (actually the remarks of his screener, "Mr. Snerdley") on Gov. Bill Richardson as a possible running mate for John Kerry.

But I stumbled across it today -- and HERE IT IS

(Scroll down to my April 8 post for that Round-up column)

Terrell's Sound World Play List

Terrell's Sound World
Sunday, April 11, 2004
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M.
Host: Steve Terrell


OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
EASTER SET
Easter by Patti Smith
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues by Bob Dylan
Peter Cottontail by The Bubbadinos
Run Rabbit Run by Julien Aklei
The Temple by The Afghan Whigs
Damned For All Time by Scratch Acid
Trial Before Pilate (from Jesus Christ Superstar, original album)
How Can You Refuse Him Now by Holly Williams
Were You There When They Crucified My Lord by Johnny Cash
Passion by Peter Gabriel
Jesus Was a Crossmaker by Warren Zevon
The Donor by Judee Sill
The Cross by Prince
(end Easter set)

Ecstasy/The Day John Kennedy Died/Street Hassle/The Bed by Lou Reed
My Beloved Monster by The Eels
You're Gonna Miss Me by The 13th Floor Elevators

Please Come Home Before It Rains by Otis Taylor
Biscuits by Wildsang
I Got Something To Tell You by Charles Caldwell
Til the Cows Come Come by Lucille Bogan
Nasty Car by The Big Ugly Guys
Not Meant to Be by Bone Pilgrim
The Ocean Doesn't Want Me by Tom Waits
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Saturday, April 10, 2004

The Santa Fe Opry Play List

The Santa Fe Opry
Friday, April 9, 2004
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
Host: Steve Terrell



OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
I Ain't Got Nobody by Don Walser with Asleep at the Wheel
Heartache by Heartache by Cornell Hurd
Lonely Street by Ray Price
Time Changes Everything by Johnny Cash
It Makes No Difference Now by Merle Haggard
Joy by Joe Ely
This Old Cowboy by The Marshall Tucker Band
If You Gotta Go, Go Now by Bob Dylan

The Fame of Lofty Deeds by Jon Langford
Beyond Our Means by Dollar Store
Country Bumpkin by Cal Smith
My Sweet Love Ain't Around by Starlings TN
Drink Me by The Dolly Ranchers
Jessico by The Kentucky Headhunters
Only the Strong Survive by The Tom Tom Club
Loving Her Was Easier Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again by Kris Kristofferson

Tell Me True by Grey DeIsle
A Great Depression by Ronny Elliott
Portrait of the Artist by Slipshod
Broken Conversation by Nels Andrews
I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry by The Holmes Brothers
Things Have Gone to Pieces by George Jones
A Little Shot of Something Blue by Tom House
Just Friends by Rev. Billy C. Wirtz

It's Only Make Believe by Kelly Hogan & John Wesley Harding
So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad) by The Everly Brothers
Whispering Pines by Johnny Horton
The Last Word in Lonesome is Me by Roger Miller
Wasted Days and Wasted Nights by Rex Hobart & His Misery Boys
Lovesick Blues Boy by Paul Burch
Opportunity to Cry by Willie Nelson
Alone and Forsaken by Hank Williams
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

Friday, April 09, 2004

Terrell's Tuneup: The Animal Growls Again

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican, April 9, 2004

The very title of Lou Reed’s new double-disc live album Animal Serenade invites comparison to his first live album from the mid 70s. Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal.

Ultimately the comparison doesn’t bode well for the new record. Serenade doesn’t come close to the timeless power and glory that is Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal, which is one of the greatest live albums of the ages.Furthermore you have to wonder why Reed felt compelled to release another live album. It wasn’t that long ago that he came out with Perfect Night, which was a decent representation of his live sound.

But don’t dismiss Animal Serenade.

This animal might not roar like 1974, but the old beast has a pretty fearsome growl.

Recorded last June in Los Angeles, Serenade features two longtime Reed sidekicks Fernando Saunders on bass and percussion and guitarist Mike Rathke, as well as Jane Scarpantoni, (who has played cello from everyone from Sheryl Crow to The Beastie Boys) and the mysterious Antony, whose Bizarro World falsetto gave strange colors to Reed’s previous CD The Raven.

Reed himself draws attention to the gulf between then and now by starting out the new one with the familiar power chords of “Sweet Jane,” the tune that kicked off Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal. But here he stops and gets professorial, explaining how most people think there are only three chords in the riff, while actually, there are four. Instead of the long overworked “Sweet Jane,” he launches into “Smalltown,” an under-appreciated growing-up-weird-in-America song from the Andy Warhol tribute Songs For Drella.

One of the strangest aspects of Serenade is that there’s no drummer. True, Saunders plays some kind of synths drums on a couple of tracks. But for the most part, this record concentrates on Reed’s more ethereal and melodic songs. But the song selection here is one of the strengths of the album.

There’s a good smattering of Velvet Underground crowd-pleasers — a 10-minute “Heroin,” (far from his best version. It would have been more interesting had it turned into “I’ll Be Your Mirror,” as Reed hints deep into the song); a nine-minute “Venus in Furs,” (in which Scarpantoni out-Cales John Cale with her psychedelic cello solo); “Candy Says” (with Antony on lead vocals); and a surprisingly rocked-out “All Tomorrow’s Parties.”

And there’s some more obscure Reed tunes that shine here — “Tell it to Your Heart,” (one of Reed’s best straightforward love songs of ‘80s); “How Do You Think It Feels” (done here with hints of gutbucket funk and one of the best guitar solos on the album); “Set the Twilight Reeling,” (starts off slow and soulful, has a warbling Antony interlude and ends in guitar fury); and “Call on Me” (a heartbreaker from The Raven.)

But what really makes this album is a four-song, 23-minute run on the first disc.

Starting with a bosa-nova-like “Ecstacy” (title song of one of Reed’s more forgettable ‘90s records) that grows in intensity until you think you might be approaching an ecstatic state, Reed goes into a forgotten political meditation from 1982’s The Blue Mask, “The Day John Kennedy Died.”From there he launches into a gripping version of “Street Hassle” (some points off for the unnecessary and seemingly self-congratulatory spoken introduction), which leads to “The Bed,” the grim climax of Berlin, Reed’s disturbing hymn to decadence and depravity. Reed sings of this suicide scene as if he’s about to burst into tears.

When you hear these latter-day takes on Reed’s great tales from the underbelly, you realize how shallow it is to consider rock ‘n’ roll the exclusive property of youth. These songs sounded ravaged and haggard when we first heard them all those years ago. You could argue that now that he’s over 60, Reed is growing into these tunes.

Also Recommended:

*The Bootleg Series Vol. 6: Live 1964 Concert at Philharmonic Hall by Bob Dylan
Yes kiddies, 1964. That’s 40 years ago. Young Bob was just a pup.This two-disc set captures Dylan only months before he became a household word.

At this point he was still playing acoustic guitar only and thus he was still the darling of the folkies. You can hear them applaud enthusiastically when he plays his old protest favorites “With God on Our Side,” “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall,” etc. — and react far more politely to his newer, stranger batch of tunes like “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Gates of Eden” and “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding).”

But by the next year the Folk Nazis would turn on him when he “went electric” and “sold out” to a wider audience — even wildly unhip people like a certain Okie junior high kid who grew up to be me.

Listen to this concert and you can almost see Dylan’s creativity pounding on the walls of his folkie prison, filing the bars of his cell, trying to bust out. “If You Gotta Go, Go Now,” one of the first rockers Dylan ever recorded, is done acoustically here. But you can hear it crying for electricity and drums.

The folkies should have seen the great heresy ahead when Dylan introduced “Who Killed Davey Moore,” a protest song about a boxer who was killed in the ring — and the pressures that put him in the ring — the promoter, the manager, the press, the audience.

“This is a song about a boxer. It’s got nothing to do with boxing, it’s just a song about a boxer. And, uh, it hasn’t got anything to do with a boxer really … It’s got nothing to do about nothing ... ”

Little did they know it had everything to do with everything.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

ROUNDHOUSE ROUND-UP: RICHARDSON'S AMBITIONS

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican


Gov. Bill Richardson on May 20 will give a commencement speech at a state university.

No, not this state. He'll be talking that night to the graduating class of the University of New Hampshire in Manchester.

New Hampshire? Why would a politician from New Mexico be interested in New Hampshire?

Certainly, it's not politics, Richardson's spokesmen insist.

"It's got absolutely nothing to do with the 2008 New Hampshire primary," Billy Sparks said Wednesday. "In fact, Governor Richardson has long advocated that a Western primary be given greater prominence."

Richardson has called for New Mexico and other Western states to band together for a regional presidential primary that would be held early in the election year.

For several decades, New Hampshire has held the first presidential primary of the election season.

Sparks also noted Richardson gave a commencement speech at Middlebury College in Vermont last year. And Vermont isn't one of those states where presidential hopefuls start poking around years in advance.

This will be Richardson's first trip to New Hampshire, Sparks said. Asked whether it will be his last, Sparks said, "I can't say that."

The university will pay for the trip, Sparks said.

Second banana blues: But, of course, it really is too early to be looking at the 2008 election when 2004 isn't even half finished.

However, the governor's assumed presidential ambitions have been noted by national pundits looking at the possibility of Sen. John Kerry choosing Richardson as the vice-presidential candidate this year.

(The usual disclaimer: Richardson has repeatedly said he would turn down any offer to be on the national ticket this year.)

A report on CNN's Paula Zahn Now noted Richardson's strengths are his appeal to Hispanic voters and his experience in foreign policy and energy issues. However, the report said some Democrats believe our governor might be perceived as being too interested in advancing his own political career.

Larry Sabato, the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said much the same thing in a telephone interview Wednesday.

In Sabato's most recent ranking of Democratic veep contenders -- in which our governor ranked third behind Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh and former Georgia Sen. Max Cleland -- Richardson ranked high in areas of experience and political strength. But he was docked points in the category of "compatibility" with Kerry.

This, Sabato said, was due to the fact that Richardson "is viewed as having his own presidential run in mind." Presidential candidates, Sabato said, prefer to have running mates with their ambitions on the back burner.

In Sabato's ranking system, Richardson lost more points in the category of possible "hidden problems."

Asked what this referred to, Sabato said he was mainly talking about the fact that Richardson's voting record as a congressman and his years as United Nations ambassador and Energy secretary haven't received much national scrutiny -- at least not the kind that candidates on national tickets get. Security problems at Los Alamos National Laboratory and rising gasoline prices in 2000 kept Richardson off the national ticket that year.

But that assessment probably doesn't sting as much as Sunday's New York Times article by Adam Nagourney, which listed Richardson as one of four possible running mates interviewed by the Kerry campaign.

While Richardson's experience and the fact he could help carry New Mexico -- a "must-win" state -- were big plusses, Nagourney said, "Mr. Richardson has not run for national office before, and Democrats said it was not clear that he has the political skills to survive what could be a highly complicated campaign."

The Snerdley factor: But Richardson can take solace in the fact that he's the favorite of "Mr. Snerdley," the screener for right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh.

Limbaugh's Web site has a transcript of a discussion about Kerry's possible running mates.

Quoth Limbaugh: "Now, is there a name, Mr. Snerdley? I've mentioned that you disagree with me. You think might, might add to the electability chances of John Kerry? ... Hm-hm. Hm-hm. Bill Richardson. OK, all right, Mr. Snerdley thinks that Bill Richardson might add aura, prestige and give an increased chance of electability to John Kerry. All right, fine."

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Big Ugly's Response

My pal Rio DeGennaro of the Kansas City band The Big Ugly Guys wrote a full length response to my Kurt Cobain/Gaynel Hodge story (posted this morning immediately below.) However, it was too long for the "comments" feature.

I obviously don't agree with everything he says, (I believe there was plenty of joy and rebellion in the old Seattle sound) but Rio's a smart guy and his full response is worth reading. Plus I like his band. So here it is:


Great story, Steve.

I never really understood where all the BS about being the voice of teenage angst came from, and how Nirvanna was the medium for Corbain's status as spokesman for Gen X or whatever they were called. Grunge was the reason I bought a guitar and started my band to try to preach the fun and rebellion of rocknroll to people. I know that may seem to be an outdated idea but I still believe the reception of rock is in making people get out of their seats and shake their ass.

I never subscribed to the dark visions of the music of the Doors, the Velvet Underground, Black Sabbath. I kinda thought the record companies were using the weirdness in people brought out by the excesses of uninhibited lifestyles to make a buck. The whole Seattle thing to me is just a reverberation of the NW heroin scene that seemed to play on the disconnect
of youth at the time. Me, I've never been into smack or downers, so I just couldn't relate at all. A buncha minor key tunings do not make a memorable song to my ear. Have you heard anybody walking down the street whistling "Teen Spirit"?

Our local alt. rag, "The Pitch", had a music editor who hooked up with a local studio and tried to ram midwest grunge down everyone's throat.. The only bands who ever got favorable reviews were recorded at that studio with the same riff heavy hand. Totally sucked. We had plenty of great bands spread across the musical spectrum from jazz to blues who couldn't get the time of day in the paper. Me, I still get the cold shoulder from a lot of the clubs and businesses associated with the ass. I made the mistake of writing a letter to the editor pointing out the fact that "...you can't recreate the grunge scene in KC with 3.2 beer and road weed". My point being pretty obvious to anyone who bought records for 50 years.

I spent many a night trying to get a little sweater in the back seat of the car parked in some lover's lane listening to "Earth Angel" and "Tonight's the Night" and "Silhouettes". Aaaah, the glories of submarine race watching doo wop.

Now that was all rocknroll and all missed by kids today. Who wants to slow dance with some whiner mosh pit enthusiast.

I use to always want to be alive 100 years in the future. Now I'm just not so sure about the future.

rio

OF EARTH ANGEL, LOLLAPALOOZA AND THE GHOST OF KURT COBAIN

Kurt Cobain's suicide 10 years ago this week shook me, even though I'm a generation older than the generation for whom he'd been deemed a spokesman. His death was on my mind that next summer when I went to Lollapalooza in Phoenix. After all, before the suicide Nirvana was considering an offer to headline Lollapalooza.

The night before the concert , I was with a group of folks that went to hear doo-wop pioneer Gaynel Hodge play his happy hour set at a hotel lounge. Kurt's ghost tagged along. This is the oddball Lollapalooza review I wrote for the paper:


Originally published September 2, 1994

SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN


Gaynel Hodge said he'd like to go to Lollapalooza, but he didn't think he could make it. He had a dental appointment that day.

Besides, being in his 60s, Gaynel undoubtedly had no desire to stand out in the un-airconditioned sun for hours with thousands of navel-pierced white kids listening to music that he had helped to create some 40 years ago, but which had mutated beyond his recognition.

Chances are, unless you have a Ph.D. in Doo Wop, you have never heard of Gaynel Hodge. But surely you have heard his song, "Earth Angel," which in 1954 arose like a trapped spirit of the underworld, eventually becoming part of our civilization's collective unconsciousness.

Actually, Gaynel is one of three authors listed on "Earth Angel"'s credits, the other two being Jesse Belvin, (the silken-voiced crooner of "Good Night My Love") and Curtis Williams, a member of The Penguins, the group that made the song famous.

Gaynel himself never made it big, although he still earns his living playing music. The night before Lollapalooza he was playing happy hour at the Quality Inn bar near downtown Phoenix.

That's right. Happy hour at the Quality Inn. Phoenix, Ariz.

Sounds like your archetypal rock 'n' roll sob story, right? Kurt Cobain blew his brains out partly so he'd never end up playing happy hour in a hotel lobby. Cobain also assured that Nirvana would not headline this year's Lollapalooza, thus propelling Smashing Pumpkins to headliner status.

As fine as the Pumpkins sounded, I couldn't help but think about that fact throughout their set. Cobain's ghost also seemed to be flitting about the Quality Inn as Gaynel sang his hit along with covers of Ray Charles, James Brown and Little Richard songs.

Try to imagine the year 2033 with Billy Corgan or Kim Deal or Green Day's Billy Joe in some cocktail lounge, serving up '90s nostalgia with piano- bar renditions of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," "Disarm" and Pearl Jam's "Alive."

Doesn't seem likely, but it could happen. And if it does, would any of them handle it with as much grace and humor as Gaynel?

All in all, I'd rather be Gaynel Hodge than Kurt Cobain.

In some ways, Gaynel's gig is closer to the democratic spirit that nurtured the Lollapalooza bands. Ironically, the "alternative'' acts on the main stage are big rock stars now, separated from the audience by a fence and a small army of security guards. All that comes between Gaynel and his fans is the free hot-wing spread.

And fans there were. There were the ladies who usually caught Gaynel at a neighborhood bar called Chez Nous (nicknamed "Cheese Nose'') where until recently he played with his own combo.

And there were a couple of bozos on holiday who had a berserk fantasy about taking him to Lollapalooza where someone - probably some graybeard in George Clinton's entourage - would recognize him and hustle him up to the stage, where he would win over a new generation with his ageless hymn to teen-age passion.

Surely the kids would recognize the secret links between "Earth Angel" and the Pumpkins' "Cherub Rock." If they could appreciate the grandfatherly Clinton, maybe they could relate to Gaynel.

It was a well-meaning fantasy.

Roseanne Cash probably was right. Earlier this year when there was talk about Johnny Cash playing Lollapalooza, Roseanne worried that the same people who stormed past security guards to mosh to Green Day would not show her dad proper respect. Johnny didn't sign.

Gaynel promised his new friends he would call them if he could make it to Lollapalooza.

He didn't.


Gaynel Hodge with fans

Monday, April 05, 2004

Terrell's Sound World Play List

The KSFR Spring fundraiser is on its last leg, but we still need your money. Please make your pledge!

Click that link or call (505)428-1393 or, if outside Santa Fe, 1-866-907-5737 (toll free)

Terrell's Sound World
Sunday, April 4, 2004
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M.
Host: Steve Terrell

OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
from Cryptical Evelopment by The Grateful Dead
Hpw Do You Think It Feels by Lou Reed
Gravity/Falling Down Again/Street Hassle by Alejandro Escovedo

Mama's Selling Heroin by Otis Taylor
Funky Kingston by Toots & The Maytals with Bootsty Collins and The Roots
Dylan's Coat by Johnny Dowd
The Fever by The Von Bondies
Smash it Up by The International Noise Conspiracy
In Praise of Sha Na Na by The Dead Milkmen
Privacy Calls by The Baby Robots
Ragdoll by The Four Seasons

Kurt Cobain Tribute
All Songs by Nirvana unless otherwise noted

Sliver
Been a Son
Heart Shaped Box
Rape Me by Richard Cheese
Floyd the Barber
Territorial Pissings
Sleeps With Angels by Neil Young
You Know You're Right
Jesus Doesn't Want Me For a Sunbeam
Smells Like Teen Spirit by Sara DeBell

Dive
Serve the Servants
Breed
Something in the Way
About a Boy by Patti Smith
Where Did You Sleep Last Night?
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Saturday, April 03, 2004

The Santa Fe Opry Play List

The Santa Fe Opry
Friday, April 2, 2004
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
Host: Steve Terrell

Support the KSFR Fund Drive!

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
Allon a Grand Coreau by Cyndi Lauper
Brother, It's All Lunchmeat by Cornell Hurd
Sleeper Hold on Satan by Rev. Billy C. Wirtz
The Pilgrim, Chapter 33 by Kris Kristofferson
Last Fair Deal Gone Down by Jon Langford
Too Long in the Wasteland by James McMurtry

One Woman Man by Johnny Horton
Nothing Can Stop My Loving You by George Jones
Darling Do You Know Who Loves You by The Stanley Brothers
Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms by Flatt & Scruggs
I'm Ragged But I'm Right by Johnny Cash
No Depression in Heaven by The Carter Family
Please Carry Me Home by Jessie Coulter & Shooter Jennings
Dry Bones by Norman & Nancy Blake

Radio Interview/Moonlight by Jerry J. Nixon
Up Jumped the Devil by Ronnie Dawson
Red Hot by Billy Lee Riley
Hillbilly Monster by James Richard Oliver
Blues Keep a Callin' by Rosie Flores with Janis Martin
Gonna Romp and Stomp by Slim Rhodes
Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee by Jerry Lee Lewis
Baboon Boogey by Jimmy Murphy
Annie Don't Work by Jimmy Wade
There's a World Between You and Me by Jerry J. Nixon

Revengin' the Death of Charlie Sapp by Starlings Tn.
Payne Co. Line by Slipshod
Jamie III by Joe West
Smoke Rings by Jon Rauhouse with Kelly Hogan
Sharecroppin' Man by Grey DeIsle
Mon Conne La Cause by David Hidalgo
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

Friday, April 02, 2004

Terrell's Tuneup: My Search For Jerry J. Nixon

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican, April 2, 2004

Every few years about this time, I toy with the idea of writing an April Fool’s column and make up a bunch of ridiculous titles for CDs to review. “Where the Rude Boys Are: A Reggae Tribute to Connie Frances”; “Ebony and Ivory: The Ray Charles/Elvis Costello Sessions”; “The Symphonic Iggy Pop”; The Essential Eddie Money (oops, that’s a real one!)

Somehow it always seemed too cute to do a whole column of that stuff.

However in late March I stumbled across a real CD, that, after a little research, I’ve come to believe is an April Fool’s Day joke at Santa Fe’s expense by an obscure Swiss record label, Voodoo Rhythm.

Gentleman of Rock ‘n’ Roll. The Q Recordings, New Mexico ‘58-‘64, released last year, is by an unknown rockabilly singer named Jerry J. Nixon with sad eyes, pale skin and greasy hair.

Nixon’s life story is told inside the package.

Indeed, it was like uncovering a secret history of this place I call my home.

Born Gerald James Hall in 1937 in Yorkshire England, the future rockabilly gentleman was involved with a botched armed robbery in Southampton. But because of his youth, he got off with a light sentence, joined the merchant marines and sailed to America, where he adopted a fake identity — Jerry J. Nixon — and stayed.

By 1956 “Nixon” ended up here in Santa Fe, where he initially worked at a cardboard box and packing company. Perhaps the oppression of this factory was what led Nixon to join the Communist Party of New Mexico.

Inspired by Elvis Presley, Nixon hooked up with a band playing at Atahualpa Bar & BBQ. The were initially called The Santa Fe Flames, but under Nixon’s sway, they became The Volcanoes.

Santa Fe businessman Leonard E. Sanchez, who managed entertainers and owned Q Studios and Quality Records, heard a Nixon and The Volcanoes gig, signed them up, made some records and toured the Southwest and even Mexico.

Like the archetypal rock manager of the day, Sanchez took songwriting credits on nearly all Nixon’s original songs.

After a few short years, however, things soured between Nixon and Sanchez, who gambled away all the band’s money betting on card games and cockfights. He also favored one of his other stars, local country singer Dick Lotner.

The bad blood came to a head in 1963 when the two got into a fight that ended with Sanchez in the hospital and the Gentleman of Rock ’n’ Roll in jail. The bio in the CD says the two never spoke again. However, according to the album notes, the song “Red Sun” was recorded at Q Studios in March 1964.

But shortly after that, Nixon left the Volcanoes and the music biz in general. After doing some work in the Texas oil fields, Nixon settled in Albuquerque by 1967, working as a driver for the Sunset Glades retirement home. He died in Albuquerque in 1999.

Damn! Had I known about him, I could have interviewed him. How come nobody ever told me about Santa Fe’ greatest rockabilly commie?

But the more I thought about it, the more I suspected there was a good reason why nobody told me about Jerry J. Nixon.

The fact that I had never heard of any of the people or the places mentioned in the Nixon story made me wonder.

Checking city directories and phone books between 1957 and 1961 I found no listings for Atahualpa Bar & BBQ, Quality Records, Q recording studio or KWXL radio. There’s no current listing for Sunset Glade retirement home in the Albuquerque directory. I couldn’t find a listing for any cardboard factory in Santa Fe During those years.. There were no residential listings for Leonard Sanchez, Dick Lotner or Jerry Nixon.

Whoever wrote the stuff on the CDs knows something about Santa Fe though. Q Studios was said to be located above a garage on Galisteo Street, while Atahualpa Bar & BBQ allegedly was off Old Taos Highway.

So where did this music come from? One online critic said there are similarities between Nixon and Die Zorros, a Swiss band led by “Beatman” the head honcho of Voodoo Rhythm.

The sad part is, I wanted the album to be real. While not exactly revelatory, this is the sound of a journeyman rockabilly cat who captures the wild spirit of that era.

The music is tough and cranking. Several cuts feature an eerie organ sound (think Joe Meeks or Del Shannon), while “Saturday Midnight Bop,” has a cool sax (credited to one Jose Martinez, if that can be believed) and Latin rhythm that could pass for proto-Los Lobos.

You could almost believe it’s a frustrated cardboard worker releasing his tensions in a cluttered little studio overlooking a garage on Galisteo Street.

Of course the real Santa Fe wasn’t devoid of real rock ’n’ roll during this area. Wouldn’t it be great if some record company recorded a compilation of real Santa Fe bands — The Defiants, The Rocking Aces, The Morfomen?

Jerry J. Nixon Lives on the Radio: Hear songs from the Gentleman and other rockabilly renegades on The Santa Fe Opry, country music as the Good Lord intended, Friday 10 p.m. to midnight and Terrell’s Sound World, freeform weirdo radio (same time Sunday.)

Thursday, April 01, 2004

ROUNDHOUSE ROUND-UP: Anarchy in the GOP

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican

Ramsay Gorham's decision Wednesday to step down as state Republican chairwoman -- and to quit her contested re-election campaign for the state Senate -- caps off more than a year of infighting in the state GOP. The party has been so divided that New Mexico Republicans are behaving like a bunch of Democrats, or so the joke goes.

While some GOP leaders such as U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici have called for Republicans to view Gorham's departure as a time for reunification, some think the divisions are going to haunt the party for a long time. "The war isn't over," state House Republican Leader Ted Hobbs of Albuquerque said Wednesday.

"We've still got two factions," said Hobbs, a Gorham supporter, "and they're still going to do their things. Ramsay was trying to bring the factions together, but we've still got a problem. And it's not in best interest of the party."

It's hard to pinpoint the exact date of origin for the current turmoil. But there were serious rumblings as early as spring of 2001, when Gorham and her husband, Frank, a former Bernalillo County Republican chairman, backed Rep. Ron Godbey of Cedar Crest against John Dendahl for the state chairmanship.

The Gorhams and Godbey were upset with Dendahl and then-Gov. Gary Johnson over their support for liberalizing laws against marijuana. Though Domenici didn't take sides in the chairmanship battle that year, he, along with U.S. Reps. Heather Wilson and Joe Skeen, publicly denounced Dendahl for saying Republicans shouldn't use Democrats' support for drug-reform bills against them.

Dendahl won another two years as chairman. But Ramsay Gorham began positioning herself as a challenger. During the next legislative session, she and her husband started an antidrug group called Protect New Mexico to lobby against Johnson's drug-reform bills. By the end of 2002, she announced her candidacy against Dendahl.

Dendahl in 2002 had come under fire from some Republicans for allegedly favoring gubernatorial candidate John Sanchez over other contenders -- including then-Lt. Gov. Walter Bradley -- in the Republican primary. Sanchez won the nomination but lost to Bill Richardson in the general election.

The Dendahl-Gorham battle was long and bitter. Gorham's effort was boosted when Domenici endorsed her. The state Republican Central Committee in May voted 197-156 to elect Gorham.

But the sniping between the two sides continued. Gorham supporter Rep. Earlene Roberts of Lovington told a reporter that GOP National Committeeman Mickey Barnett would be next to get the ax. Dendahl supporter and Barnett protégé Joe Thompson had earlier that year defeated Roberts, who was seeking re-election as House Republican whip.

Last October, Sen. Rod Adair, R-Roswell, wrote a scathing analysis of what he said were Gorham's shortcomings in fighting a state constitutional amendment concerning school funding. The amendment narrowly passed.

(Adair, in a Wednesday interview, bristled at the notion he is a "critic" of Gorham. He has merely analyzed certain things that have happened under the chairwoman, he insisted. The kicker: "I'm a Gorham supporter," Adair said.)

But perhaps the most obvious signs of discord in the GOP was the distance between Gorham's state party organization and the Bush-Cheney campaign. The state Bush organization -- which includes several Gorham opponents -- has visibly distanced itself from the state party. Gorham was snubbed in November when the Bush campaign didn't invite her to a presentation in Albuquerque by national Bush campaign chairman Marc Racicot.

Although at one point Gorham announced a "truce" between the state party and the Bush campaign, it soon became obvious that peace wasn't really at hand.

The latest Gorham controversy was over her running for re-election to the Senate (against former Dendahl staffer John Ryan) while keeping her position as chairwoman. Some called that a violation of party rules. The state Central Committee was to discuss the issue in Roswell next week, but Gorham on Wednesday made it moot.

As Hobbs pointed out, there's still plenty of GOP strife. There are plenty of contested Republican legislative primaries, one of which pits incumbent Rep. Larry Larranaga of Albuquerque against former Rep. Rob Burpo -- a Gorham ally. Republican National Committee members Barnett and Rosie Tripp of Socorro are expected to face challengers from the so-called Gorham faction.

And sometime in the next 30 days, the divided party has to chose a new state chairman or chairwoman.

Stay tuned.

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