Friday, September 30, 2005

PAOLO SHOW CANCELLED

The Hurricane Katrina benefit concert with Los Mocosos I posted about yesterday has been cancelled --ironically due to weather.

New Mexico Music Commission director Nancy Laughlin said Friday because of this week’s rains, the ground around Paolo Soleri was so muddy trucks couldn’t get in to unload equipment.

The Music Commission has another hurricane relief benefit featuring New Mexico performers scheduled for Oct. 7 at Albuquerque’s Kimo Theater.

TERRELL'S TUNEUP: OTIS & ALVIN

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
September 30, 2005

Otis Taylor has to be the most eccentric blues stylist working today. His new album Below the Fold, is a sonic wonder and — par for the course for Taylor — an intense listen.

You know you’re going to be in for a ride in the opening stains of the first song, “Feel Like Lightning.” A plunking banjo is joined by a screaming guitar, a crazed fiddle drums and bass, as Otis shouts “Oh Yeah!” It’s a joyful one-chord acoustic cacophony -- and there’s a cello in there too.

And to illustrate Taylor’s bizarre sense of arrangements, the song “Boy Plays Mandolin” indeed features Taylor picking that instrument. But when he sings, “When I was a boy, I played, I played the mandolin …” he’s answered by Ron Miles’ cool trumpet.

And while Greg Anton’s martial drumming on “Right Side of Heaven” suggests an Otha Turner-like fife and drum number, there’s no fife to be found. Just a dangerous showdown between Miles’ trumpet and Taylor’s harmonica.

Speaking of drums, this is the first time Taylor has employed them since reviving his music career in the late ‘90s. Anton only appears on about half the songs on Below the Fold, but the addition is welcome. Drums certainly don’t make this music sound conventional.

Taylor’s songs are portraits drawn from historical injustices -- often little-known stories -- and shadowy corners of the singer’s personal history.

“Your Children Sleep Good Tonight” is about the 1914 Ludlow Massacre in which Colorado National Guard troops shot at and set fire to a tent community of striking miners, killing 11 children northwest of Trinidad. None of the Guard members were ever prosecuted. “Hey hey, Mr. Rockefeller, I know your children sleeps good tonight,” Taylor taunts. (The Rockefeller Family controlled Colorado Fuel & Iron, the major coal operator in the region.)

“Government Lied” tells the story of German soldiers in World War II shooting American soldiers. According to Taylor’s liner notes, “At the end of the war, the responsible Germans were hanged for killing the white soldiers, but the U.S. government said that the black soldiers were missing to they wouldn’t have to account for them.”

Taylor has to write the darkest “Mama” songs in all of popular music. His last record had a ditty called “Mama’s Selling Heroin.” On this CD there’s “Mama’s Got a Friend,” an autobiographical story of a boy with two mommies. He never says exactly how he feels about the situation, but the tension of music -- the repeated minor-key acoustic guitar riff, droning cello, edgy fiddle, sinister trumpet -- paints the emotional landscape as “Every time I go to school, people ask me about my sister,” Taylor moans.

Below the Fold is a powerful testament to Taylor’s strange vision of the blues. It’s an album that somehow manages to be jolting as well as hypnotic.

Also Recommended:

*Motivational Speaker by Alvin Youngblood Hart. If Otis Taylor is blues’ great eccentric, Hart is the great eclectic.

His musical interests cover a wide field of musical styles that touch on the blues. Following his 2002 effort Down in the Alley — which was basically an acoustic collection of songs by ascended masters like Charlie Patton. Skip James and Sleepy John Estes — on his latest CD the gruff-voiced Hart returns to his high-voltage electric — and far more varied — sound.

There’s a couple of tunes here that are juiced-up, fiery versions of tunes Hart had previously recorded in acoustic versions -- “Big Mama’s Door” (subtitled “Might Return” in this version) and “How Long Before I Change My Clothes.” Blues purists probably prefer the original versions, but I bet the electric versions here would make Howlin’ Wolf smile.

On several cuts on Motivational Speaker, Hart tips his hat to the psychedelic blues of Cream and Jimi Hendrix.

There’s “Stomp Dance,” which starts out with what sounds like tribal drums, soon joined by a fuzzy bass before building up to a “Crosstown Traffic” frenzy and “Shoot Me a Grin,” which sounds like an invocation to prehistoric guitar gods.

“The Worm,” (written by Paul Rodgers in his days with Free), is slow and heavy with a hint of wah-wah in the guitar. Meanwhile the six-minute “Shootout on I-55” is a frantic jam.

Hart tries straight-ahead soul -- complete with a rag-tag horn section and a female backup singer (Susan Marshall) -- with his cover of Otis Redding’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”

And he’s no stranger to country music. One of the greatest delights on his 1998 album Territory was a lap steel-heavy tune called “Tallacatcha,” which, though written by Hart himself, sounded like a lost treasure from the Hank Williams song book.

On Motivational Speaker Hart goes hardcore honky tonk on a Johnny Paycheck stomper called “The Meanest Jukebox in Town,” then shows his latent cosmic cowboy tendencies on a Haight Ashbury-era Doug Sahm song, “Lawd I’m Just a Country Boy in This Great Big Freaky City.” (Hart has included this one in his live repertoire for years.)

But perhaps the strongest number here is a traditional tune called “In My Time of Dying.” Hart plays it slow with dreamy guitars -- including an inspiring slide played by Audley Freed.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

THE RICHARDSON BOOK: CHAPTER 2

Some of my sneak preview book review of Bill Richardson's upcoming autobiography Between Worlds got cut, I presume for space. (Here's what was published in The New Mexican Sunday.)

There were several interesting items about Richardson’s childhood and early adulthood in Between Worlds. I thought I might put the cutting-room-floor stuff in my column yesterday, but there wasn't space.

So here's some of the other parts of the book I quoted from:

* Richardson talks about his childhood in Mexico city, where he was His father — a Republican who was a friend of President Eisenhower — was very demanding and stingy with compliments — traits Richardson admits he picked up. “I admired my father enormously as I grew up, and loved him too. I only wish I’d have told him so, just once.”

* Richardson’s father made sure both his children were born on U.S. soil so there would be no doubt about their citizenship. The Richardson had been born aboard a ship.

* Moving from Mexico to Massachusetts for prep school, Richardson felt like an outsider. “Here I was, not quite thirteen, the dark-skinned boy from Mexico among a bunch of fair-skinned kids from cities like New York and Boston and Chicago and their posh suburbs. A few of the kids called me Pancho, but I didn’t take as a slur as much as a recognition of the obvious: I wasn’t one of them.” Richardson goes on to say that it wasn’t until he proved himself on the baseball field that he gained acceptance at the school.

* Richardson’s first election was president of the Delta Tau Delta at Tufts University. But there was a serious move to throw him out of office after he clamped down on marijuana use at the frat house. Richardson’s book repeats his long-standing statement that he’s never tried marijuana.

Remember, folks, as the governor's office reminded me this week, all of this is from an advance copy and is subject to change before the November publication.

KATRINA BENEFIT AT PAOLO

The state Music Commission is among the sponsors for a benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina victims scheduled Saturday at Paolo Soleri Amphitheater.


The concert will feature Los Mocosos, a San Francisco-based Latin-rock band, plus my buddies Bayou Seco and The Georgie Angel Blues Band. Also playing are Chris Dracup, Hillary Smith, Native Spirit, Jimmy Stadler, Teri Lynn Browning, Mosaic Dance Company, Moving People Dance Company, Wise Fool Circus performers, Paz and Luke Reed & Western Civilization.

Tickets are $20. Gates open at 3 p.m. All proceeds will go to the Salvation Army’s hurricane relief effort.

The Music Commission has another hurricane relief benefit scheduled for Oct. 7 at Albuquerque’s Kimo Theater.

And hey, the Music Commission has it's Web site up. Check it out. There's even a page for Commissioner Tony Orlando.

ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: GRUBESIC IS BACK

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New MexicanSeptember 29, 2005

The last we heard from state Sen. John Grubesic, it wasn’t pretty.

In late July he was in the news for an incident in which a neighbor had reported him for allegedly speeding and nearly hitting her children on Star Vista Road. When a sheriff’s deputy went to talk to him, Grubesic responded angrily, yelling and cursing at the officer — who captured it all on tape.

This was just a few months after another incident in which Grubesic had wrecked his sports utility vehicle and intially lied to state police about what had happened.

Grubesic has apologized for those incidents. He recently even apologized to me personally, though his worst slight to yours truly was not returning my phone calls following the last incident.

He’s purposely kept a low profile since then. Grubesic said in an interview this week that he’s been involved in counseling and Alcoholics Anonymous.

“I attempted to scurry back into my private life and ignore the insanity of politics as best I could,” Grubesic wrote in an email to selected local journalists. “However, recent events have reminded me why I decided to run for office — to be a different kind of leader, vocal, independent and unafraid.”

Said Grubesic, “I admit that I have spent the majority of my short career battling my personal demons (with varied success) and little time focusing on the evils of politics.”

The “recent events” that Grubesic says have compelled him to speak out are the upcoming special session of the Legislature — which he says will be a waste of time — and the recent kickback scandal in the State Treasurer’s Office — in which State Treasurer Robert Vigil and former treasurer Michael Montoya are facing federal extortion charges. This scandal could mean big problems for Democrats, Grubesic said.

Hot air and alligator briefcases: Grubesic said Richardson’s proposal to put $75 million toward gas tax refunds for all state taxpayers look like “ a quick fix designed to accomplish nothing more than garner good press.”

The senator said he likes an energy plan proposed by New York Gov. George Pataki, which, Grubesic said, provides tax credits for alternative vehicles and incentives for alternative fuel production.

“Oil is a finite resource,” he said. “Continued consumption is not the answer. ... Giving rebates or getting rid of the gas tax encourages people to continue to drive and consume, not conserve.”
Grubesic dismissed Richardson’s call to crack down on gasoline price gouging as “hot air.”

He recalled a previous ineffective attempt by the state to challenge the petroleum industry in the ‘90s when Congressman Tom Udall was attorney general. Udall was looking at possible gasoline price-fixing in Santa Fe. Grubesic was working for the AG then.

“I was two years out of law school, had no experience with anti-trust law and was asked to assist in the case the night before a hearing in Carlsbad,” he said. “The industry had strategically filed three separate suits in New Mexico to quash our investigatory subpoenas and all of them were in oil and gas country. When I showed up for the hearing there were 10 attorneys on the other side. They promptly crushed me and helped me pack up my cardboard box in my rental car to go back to Santa Fe, while they packed up their alligator brief cases and flew back to Houston on their private jet.

“We don’t have the people or the money to go on this wild goose chase,” Grubesic said. “Even if we could design an enforceable law and had the manpower behind it, the oil and gas industry would come up with some reason why prices are so high. These guys have been gouging us for years and are well prepared to fight this battle.”

Trouble at the Treasurer’s Office: Grubesic suggested that the speciual session is a “smokescreen” to draw attention away from the looming kickback scandal — even though the governor had been talking about a possible special session well before the FBI arrested Vigil and Montoya.

“As Democrats we should be worried,” he said “I know for a fact that there were memos and an audit lying around in various state offices that nobody dealt with or completely ignored. These activities were known about, but nobody had the guts to do anything about them. The Feds are doing it for us. Now we have lots of tough talk from the very people that sat on their hands while these guys took sacks of money out the back door.

“The only way to move forward is to acknowledge what has happened. As Democrats, let’s be honest and admit our failures and vow to fix it by doing a complete and honest investigation of how far this scandal goes, where the money is within our party, who knew what, when and why nothing was done.”

When asking where the money is, Grubesic acknowledged that he might have an idea where $50 of it went.

He is one of the three dozen Democratic candidates who received small contributions from Vigil in 2004. Others from the Santa Fe area include Sen. Phil Griego and Rep. Peter Wirth, both of whom received $50 from Vigil.

“I’ll return it or donate it to charity,” Grubesic said of his $50. “I don’t want it.”

Note: This morning, after this column appeared in the paper, Rep. Peter Wirth called to say that he returned his $50 contribution from Robert Vigil.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

NO DIRECTION HOME

I found myself enjoying Martin Scorsese's docu-Dylan the past couple of nights even more than I thought I would.

I loved the concert and studio footage I'd never seen before. I loved seeing Dylan playing piano and singing "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" in a weird slow rhythm backstage somewhere with Johnny Cash. I loved seeing the interview segments with the late Dave Van Ronk. (I blame Van Ronk on my career choice. He was my first interview back in 1980.) I loved seeing Dylan and Joan Baez singing at the 1963 March on Washington. I loved hearing Baez cuss like a pro.

And I found a new respect for Dylan from the footage used of his new interviews. The man seemed thoughtful and sincere -- not the enigmatic joker of his old greet-the-press sessions.

Scorsese included lots of those old mid-60s press conferences shown in tonight's episode. Dylan looked like he was stoned half the time. And, I'm sorry to say, I was not proud of my press brethren, whose questions ranged from the pompous to the inane. One reporter wanted to know how many songwriters wrote protest songs. Dylan, in a face that wasn't even straight, answered, "136." "Exactly 136?" the newsgeek asked. Dylan could have written "Ballad of a Thin Man" about any one of these idiots.

I found myself raging when the film came to the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, when the folkies turned on Dylan for "going electric" with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Some of these dildos still are whining that Dylan betrayed them by "going commercial." Commercial! True, "Like a Rolling Stone" somehow became a major hit. But couldn't any of the Folk Nazis see how truly radical this song was? It twice as long as most pop songs of its day and Dylan's goofy nasal voice weird even for rock 'n' roll back then. And there was all this surreal imagery -- diplomats with Siamese cats, jugglers and clowns, Napoleon in Rags -- and all of it a snide celebration of a rich bitch who gets her comeuppance.

And so the folkies booed, as did their European cousins when Dylan toured with The Band the next year. It's almost as if they knew Dylan was special, but they wanted to keep him in their own little club, away from the great unwashed who aren't as hip and enlightened as them. Away from the crazy rock 'n' roll crowd. Away from grubby junior high kids in Oklahoma like me who would find hidden truths in Dylan's oracle rants (even though I wasn't quite sure who or what the "mystery tramp" was. In the end, the folkie guardians seemed as closed-minded as the conservatives they decried. Maybe they should have heeded one of the early Dylan songs they cherished so much: "You'd better start swimming or you'll sink like a stone ..."

I'm listening to the soundtrack now. I've been playing it for a few weeks now. It doesn't really follow the songs used in the movie, though it's got "Maggie's Farm" from Newport '65. Fortunately Mike Bloomfield's guitar is loud enough to drown out the pig-headed detractors.

Monday, September 26, 2005

TERRELL'S SOUND WORLD PLAYLIST

Sunday, September, 2005
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M.
Webcasting!
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Goin' on Down to the BBQ by Drywall
You You You! by Kevin Coyne & The Pine Valley Cosmonauts
Beautiful World by Devo
Hot Dog by The Detroit Cobras
Steal that Car by Alice Cooper
Gatorade by Heavy Trash
Something Broken in the Promised Land by Wayne Kramer
The Idiot Bastard Son by The Mothers of Invention

Treat Her Right by Los Straightjackets starring Mark Lindsay
King of the Rodeo by Kings of Leon
Already Gone by Tarbox Ramblers
Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat by Bob Dylan
The Bleeding Heart Show by The New Pornographers
Maps by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Tony Rome by Nancy Sinatra

NIGHT TRAIN TO NASHVILLE SEGMENT
Nashville Jumps by Cecil Grant
Boogie Woogie Jockey by Jimmy Sweeney
Anna by Arthur Alexander
Dr. Feel-Good by Dr. Feelgood & The Interns
Just Walkin' in the Rain by The Prisonaires
I'm Free (The Prisoner's Song) by Johnny Bragg
You Better Change by Hal & Jean
Sunny by Bobby Hebb
Just Sittin' Here Drinkin' by Christine Kittrell
Next to Me by Clyde McPhatter
She Can Rock by Little Ike

Poppy Nogood & The Phantom Band by Terry Riley
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Sunday, September 25, 2005

ON THE BOOKS


My sneak preview at an advance copy of Gov. Bill Richardson's autobiography Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life can be found HERE


If You want to pre-order on Amazon.com, it'll cost you you $17.13.

But a word to bargain hunters: You might want to wait, because these poltiical autobiographies have a pretty short shelf life. You can hardcover copies of John Kerry's 2003 page-turner, A Call to Service: My Vision for a Better America on Amazon for as low as 51 cents.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

CHECK OUT GUITAR GEORGE, HE KNOWS ALL THE CHORDS


Rock critic J.D. Considine had some interesting comments about President Bush's infamous guitar phot op (taken with a guitar that Nashville hat Mark Wills gave him as New Orleans was sinking.)

Sayeth Considine:
"What bugs me about the photo, however, is that it gets described as showing the president “playing guitar,” when at best he’s only posing, trying to look like he’s a-pickin’. How do I know? Just look at his left hand. Like many a duff guitarist, he’s formed the hand shape for an open-G chord — except that instead of having his fingers in place to play G (third fret on the lower E string) and B (second fret on the A string), he’s a fret off, at G-sharp and C. His little finger may be adding an A (fifth fret on the upper E string), but it’s hard to be certain. In any case, were he actually to strum that guitar, the result would be utter dischord, revealing him as someone who doesn’t know diddley about guitar. Instead, he poses quietly, and only instrument geeks like me notice."

THE SANTA FE OPRY PLAYLIST

Friday, September 23, 2005
Webcasting on KSFR
Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell


OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
I Hung it Up by Junior Brown
Roly Poly by Asleep at the Wheel with the Dixie Chicks
Brand New Heartache by Chris & Herb
Bloody Mary Morning by Willie Nelson
Cryin' Drunk by The Old 97s
The 12th of Never by Marti Brom
Walk That Lonesome Valley by Porter Wagoner

Prison on Route 41 by Iron and Wine & Calexico
On the Sly by The Waco Brothers
Money Like Water by Kevin Koyne & The Pine Valley Cosmonauts
Black Soul Choir by 16 Horsepower
What Did the Deep Sea Say by Dave Alvin
Cowgirl Hall of Fame by Joe West
Between Lust and Watching TV by Cal Smith
I'm Going to the City by Indian Bottom Association of Old Regular Baptists

Cry Like a Baby by Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham
Dark End of the Street by Frank Black
Kiss Her Once For Me by Delbert McClinton
The Outsider by Rodney Crowell
All Dried Up by Jon Nolan
Keep Your Hat on Jenny by Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez
All You Rounders Better Lie Down by Clothesline Revival with Fred Fox Lee

Rain Keeps a Fallin' by Josh Lederman y Los Diablos
Acequia by Boris McCutcheon
Cornbread Nation by Tim O'Brien
Some Human's Ain't Human by John Prine
Love is Like a Butterfly by Dolly Parton
Wilderness by Peter Case
Afternoon by Eleni Mandell
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

Friday, September 23, 2005

TERRELL'S TUNEUP: TAKE THAT NIGHT TRAIN TO NASHVILLE

A version of this appeared in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Sept. 23, 2005
Nashville streets like 16th Avenue and “Lower Broad” (Broadway, that is, home of Tootsie‘s Orchid Lounge and just half a block away from the Ryman Auditorium) have been immortalized in song. But there’s another road in Nashville that nurtured a lesser known but amazingly vital world of music: Jefferson Street.

The Jefferson Street district, up to the 1970s, was an thriving business area for Nashville’s Black population. Among those thriving businesses, naturally were nightclubs where jazz, blues, R&B and soul music filled the air.


The musicians and the songs that roared on Jefferson Street in the mid 20th Century make up the core of the project known as Night Train to Nashville, Music City Rhythm & Blues, 1945-1970. The two-disc first volume was released last year -- and won a Grammy for best historical recording. The two-disc Volume Two was released just last week and it’s equally tasty.

While the Nashville R&B artists were undeniably exuberant, judging by the Night Train series, they were more derivative than original. On Volume Two for instance Little Ike’s “She Can Rock” sounds disturbingly similar to Little Richard. Roscoe Shelton’s “Strain in My Heart” is in the early soul style of Solomon Burke and Bobby “Blue Bland.” Johnny Jones & The King Casuals -- which at one point included a young Jimi Hendrix -- do an admirable take on the Stax-Volt sound with their 1967 instrumental “Soul Poppin’” (produced by Stax man William Bell), while you can hear mucho Motown in songs like Jimmy Church’s “Right on Time” or “That’s My Man” by Marion James.

Helen Foster covered the 1952 Jo Stafford hit “You Belong to Me” (“See the pyramids along the Nile/Watch the sunrise on a tropic isle …”) for the R&B market. The song was co-written by country bandleader Pee Wee King.

On the other hand, Volume Two contains songs recorded in Nashville (and some recorded elsewhere by Nashville singers) that later were big hits for others.

There’s a tune that Elvis Presley would later knock out of the park: Bernard Hardison‘s “Too Much.” (Volume One had Arthur Gunter’s pre-Presley “Baby Let’s Play House.”)

Night Train Volume Two includes Christine Kittrell’s gritty “I’m a Woman” (Peggy Lee had the hit); “Little Darlin’” by The Gladiolas, a South Carolina group who recorded this in Nashville before it became the signature tune for Canadian doo-woppers The Diamonds; and Freddy North’s “She’s All I Got” (co written by Gary “U.S.” Bonds and Jerry “Swamp Dogg” Williams), which later became a hit for country star Johnny Paycheck.

And Nashville was the home to a brooding soul man named Arthur Alexander, whose style didn’t seem to copy anyone. His song “Anna” (included on Volume One) became famous when The Beatles covered it. On this volume, Alexander sings a haunting ballad from 1962 called “Soldier of Love,” with the chorus “Lay down your arms and surrender to me …”

There are a couple of tracks here of R&B stars who came to Nashville to record with the famous C&W session musicians -- the boys who made the noise on 16th Avenue. Esther Phillips soulful voice cuts right through the strings and white-bread chorus of “Release Me” (a song previously covered by both Ray Price and Kitty Wells). Even better is Clyde McPhatter’s “Next to Me,” whose tenor soars over the gospel-style piano.

Among the standouts on Volume Two are Johnny Bragg’s “I’m Free (The Prisoner’s Song)” an autobiographical tale in which, following a spoken introduction that sounds straight out of a ’50s news reel, Bragg tells how he was “servin’ 99 in the penitentiary/but the governor came along and set me free.

Indeed, Bragg’s story is similar to that of Leadbelly, who in 1934 charmed Gov. O.K. Allen of Louisiana into releasing him early. (And some say the same scenario played out a few years before with Leadbelly and a Texas governor.)

According to the African American Registry web site, Bragg was serving six (!) 99-year sentences for rape when Tennessee Gov. Frank Clement heard him sing and commuted his sentence in 1959. Can you imagine the political poop storm Bill Richardson -- or any contemporary governor -- would face if he released a convicted rapist because he liked the guy’s music?

Bragg later went on to lead a group called The Prisonaires, who recorded for Sun Records. “I’m Free” is a home recording that sounds like a spiritual in which Bragg is accompanied only by an acoustic guitar. By the last he’s singing in a striking falsetto.

But I think my favorite song here is two minutes and 22 seconds of pure pleasure from 1963 called “You Better Change” by a duo called Hal & Jean. The song, sung by Hal Gilbert, is a basic take-off on Ray Charles’ “What I Say.”

What makes the song is the over-miked Jean Gilbert, who provides humorous asides (“you talkin’ through your head …”) and has one fo the sexiest giggles ever recorded in human history.

Basically this whole collection, like last year’s first volume, is one big sexy giggle.

Night Train on the radio: I’ll be playing songs from the Night Train to Nashville collections Sunday on Terrell’s Sound World, 10 p.m. to midnight Sunday on KSFR 90.7 FM (and streaming live on www.ksfr.org) (The Night Train segment will start at 11 p.m.)

Speaking of KSFR, the annual fall fundraiser starts in October. Get your checkbooks ready, because Santa Fe’s public radio station won’t last without the support of the Santa Fe public. And who else is going to play the crazy stuff I review in this column?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

WHEN BILL MET AMY

Democracy Now broadcast live from the New Mexico state Capitol this morning (from the t.v. studio next door to my office) and Amy Goodman's guest was Gov. Bill Richardson, who answered questions for more than 30 minutes.

The interview was far less confrontational than Goodman and Richardson's encounter last summer in Boston. He didn't tell her to get her microphone out of his face this time. But Goodman and co-host Juan Gonzalez (who was in a studio in New York) got in some good questions.

Richardson had to defend himself about the Wen Ho Lee case. Despite the statements of a federal judge, Richardson on Thursday strongly denied that he was the anonymous source who originally revealed Lee's name to reporters months before Lee was charged. (In a deposition for Lee's civil lawsuit, Richardson said he didn't remember making some statements about the Lee firing attributed to him in various newspapers.)

The governor mistakenly told Goodman that Lee was convicted of "several charges." In fact, Lee pled guilty to a single charge of mishandling sensitive materials.

Goodman also asked Richardson about Iraq. He said he does not support an immediate withdrawal or setting a deadline for withdrawal from Iraq. Richardson also stood behind President Clinton's policy of sanctions against Iraq -- even when Goodman pointed out that thousands of children died under that policy.

Richardson told Goodman and Gonzalez that he probably wouldn't vote for U.S. Supreme Court nominee John Roberts due to concerns about Roberts' views on civil rights. (Fellow Democrat, U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman has announced that he will vote for Roberts.)

And notably, Richardson refrained from using the phrase "illegal aliens" when talking about his position on immigration. This is much different than his defense of the term on aappearancece on the radio show Latino USA a few weeks ago.


UPDATE: Here's a link to a partial transcript of the interview. The Wen Ho Lee segment can be found here. (And look for more links on the right side of the page.)

FURTHER UPDATE: In my haste to get this on my blog before running down to Albuquerque Thursday morning, I mistakenly wrote that Richardson said he'd "probably wouldn't vote against" John Roberts. I just corrected it say he probably wouldn't vote for Roberts.

ROUNDHOUSE ROUND-UP: IT TAKES TWO TO MAKE A TWO-PARTY SYSTEM

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
September 22, 2005

According to state Republican leaders, the charges of extortion and racketeering against state Treasurer Robert Vigil and his predecessor Michael Montoya was a clear illustration of what happens when you don’t have a healthy two-party system in the state.

"This is a wake up call for voters to insure they elect some Republicans to offices Democrats have held for years, and to throw any politician out of office when there is any hint of impropriety," said GOP state Chairman Allen Weh about the arrests of the Democratic politicians.

“The voters of New Mexico have the responsibility to ensure that we have a healthy two-party system,” said Marta Kramer, executive director of the state Republican Party.

Maybe they’re right. Perhaps we all should have taken a more serious look at the Republican who challenged Vigil in 2002.

Let’s see, what was his name?

Her name?

Actually there was no opponent in this race. Vigil had a tough primary battle, but the GOP let him slide in the general election.

This despite the fact that a scathing audit report of Vigil’s tenure as state auditor made public that year showed “strong patterns of public corruption,” according to the state police chief.

The Elephant party has to be kicking itself for giving that race away. In another 2002 statewide contest in which the Democrats nominated a candidate with ethics that were questioned — former Santa Fe Mayor Art Trujillo — Republican Pat Lyons won.

There wasn’t much evidence of a two-party system in the last election’s legislative races either. Republicans didn’t field candidates in 25 races out of the 70 House of Representatives seats. (Democrats still hold 42 out of 70 House seats.)

And 12 of the 24 Senate Democrats won without an opponent in 2004.

In fairness, the Democrats didn’t even try in a huge number of races — 13 seats in Senate and 18 in the House.

It’s true that the last legislative redistricting basically cemented the status quo.
But as Albuquerque pollster Brian Sanderoff said a few years ago, “The bottom line is that all the numbers don’t mean a damn thing. A great candidate from either party who works hard can beat a mediocre candidate.”

The Year of the Child: If it were legal to consume alcohol in the Roundhouse, observers could get drunk fast just by taking a chug any time a politician earnestly declared that it’s important to pass or defeat a bill “for the sake of the children.”

But —- if you can believe an FBI affidavit —- the state treasurer has taken the art of pandering for the sake of the wee ones several notches up. In fact this scandal just might be the first instance of racketeering “for the children.”

According to the FBI, Vigil was captured on tape with a “cooperating witness” talking about helping his wife’s favorite charity, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, by shaking down private investment advisers who contract with the state for contributions.

At one point, Vigil tells the informant, “Where is there a law that doesn’t allow you to help kids, you know. Bunch of bullshit ...”

FBI Special Agent Drew McCandles apparently wasn’t moved by the idea of kickbacks for the kiddies. He wrote in his affidavit, “Although altruistic in appearance, the charitable contributions had the same effect as cash; they were quid pro quo for business with the New Mexico State Treasurer’s Office.”

Protect us from the gas guzzlers: Thanks to my colleague Ben Neary for this one.

Gov. Bill Richardson held a press conference at a Santa Fe gas station Tuesday to announce he’s calling a special legislative session. He wants a rebate program for taxpayers to cover higher oil and gas prices.

“The nation is in a continuing energy emergency because we’re over dependent on oil and gas,” the governor told reporters. “It’s a reflection of weak, shortsighted national energy policy.”

Richardson drove to the press conference in a Lincoln Navigator, his preferred ride since he stopped tooling around in a Cadillac Escalade. According to the Web site www.fueleconomy.gov, Lincoln’s behemoth SUV gets about 13 mpg in the city while the Caddy was good for a whopping 14 mpg.

Monday, September 19, 2005

GOV. ASKS VIGIL TO "STEP ASIDE"

I normally don't publish government press releases in their entirety (unless I'm making fun of them), but since I didn't see this on The New Mexican's Web site, here goes:

SANTA FE- Governor Bill Richardson, who returned to New Mexico this weekend after attending the Democratic Governor's fall policy conference in Nashville, Tennessee, today called State Treasurer Robert Vigil and urged him to step aside until criminal charges against him are resolved. Mr. Vigil and former State Treasurer Michael Montoya were arrested by federal authorities Friday and charged with extortion.

After being fully briefed on the status of the case and reviewing all available information, the Governor strongly recommended to Mr. Vigil that he take administrative leave until the investigation and criminal prosecution are complete.

"The seriousness of the pending charges makes it virtually impossible for Mr. Vigil to fully perform his duties and maintain the confidence of the public and investment community," said Governor Richardson. "Mr. Vigil has a right to due process and may ultimately be exonerated, but his presence in the office while the investigation and prosecution proceed will be a distraction that could impact the state's investment activities." Mr. Vigil told the Governor he would consider his recommendation that he step aside.

The Governor noted the state treasurer is responsible for administering state investments totaling more than $4 billion.

"Hard work and sound fiscal management have kept our credit and bond ratings high and we must protect the integrity of our entire investment system from even the appearance of impropriety," said the Governor. "My administration takes charges such as these very seriously and will assist investigators in any way possible."

TREASURER SCANDAL: LITTLE SPLASH IN BLOGVILLE

I thought that New Mexico's political blogs would be all abuzz about the arrests of State Treasurer Robert Vigil and former Treasurer Michael Montoya on federal racketeering charges. After all, it's not every day two statewide elected officals are frog-marched into federal court accused of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks from state investment consultants.

Joe Monahan posted some insights on his blog today. My favorite part:
Why was an alleged ten year kickback scheme not uncovered sooner? Where was the Legislative oversight, the state auditor, the state police, the attorney general, the press? All of whom had inklings of a problem. What about the State Investment Council? Where were those guys? The ugly mess points to an obvious need for much more scrutiny of state investment dollars.
Good point, Joe.

Then I found a blog called 'Burque Babble, which ran a parody of Vigil and a phony RFP for a "Securities Lending Oversight Boss"(SLOB) for the treasurer's office.

Of course I posted my sidebar stories that appeared in The New Mexican.

But not much else in Enchanted Land Bloggerdom.

Maybe that's what happens when a scandal breaks on Friday.

TERRELL'S SOUND WORLD PLAYLIST

Sunday, September 18, 2005
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M.
Now Webcasting
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
I Want to Holler But the Town's Too Small by The Detroit Cobras
Pumping for Jill by Iggy Pop
The Bones Of An Idol by The New Pornographers
Already Gone by Tarbox Ramblers
Heart Attack and Vine by Lydia Lunch
Fortune Cookies by Drywall
Tombstone Blues by Bob Dylan

Velvet Snow by Kings of Leon
Statesboro Blues by The Allman Brothers
Bang Bang Lulu by North Mississippi All Stars
Bound to Lose by James Luther Dickinson
Hell Ain't What It Used to Be by Nashville Pussy
Swamp Music by Lynyrd Skynyrd
The Southern Thing by Drive-By Truckers

Al Green Set
All songs by Al Green

Build Me Up
Tired of Being Alone
Everything's Gonna Be Alright
For the Good Times
Play to Win
Oh Pretty Woman
Belle

Sooner or Later by Ken Valdez
Mama's Got a Friend by Otis Taylor
Nobody's Fault But Mine by Alvin Youngblood Hart
Strange Brew by Cream
Scream and Shout by The Polyphonic Spree
Cracklin' Water by OP8
When You Walk in the Room by The Searchers
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Sunday, September 18, 2005

MISC. MUSIC NOTES

This morning, NPR's Sunday Weekend Edition had a feature in which New Mexico's Cipriano Vigil talked and sang about La Llorona.

Check it out HERE .

xxxxxxxx

I just stumbled across a bitchen blog for Zerxpress in Albuquerque. CLICK HERE.

Mark Weber hasn't posted very much, but you'll find a couple of poems by Mr. Zerx, a Weber photograph of The Reverend Lonnie Farris (and links to other Weber jazz musician photos at UCLA) -- and best of all -- info on all the cool Zerx Records releases -- among them the mighty Bubbadinos , my old pals Bayou Seco from Silver City and the ever illuminating Albuzerxque series -- though he's got only the first 13 volumes and I think the last CD I have is Volume 21. Lord, I love 'em all.

That reminds me: I've got to talk to those rascals The Winking Tikis about submitting some songs for a future Albuquzerxque collection.

XXXXXXXXX

About eight years ago a guy named Brent Hoodenpyle came through Santa Fe (I forgot where he was from at the time), called me up out of the blue, asked me to lunch and told me about his plans for a new alternative country magazine.

We had a nice lunch at Tia Sofia's, talked about what he had in mind, and later on exchanged a couple of e-mails.

But the new magazine never happened and I hadn't heard from him in years until last week I stumbled across his Web site and remembered our contact. (Who can forget a name like "Brent Hoodenpyle"?)

Turns out that while the magazine idea tanked, Brent has been playing music in Chicago. Besides his Web Site, he's got an Alt-Country blog and hopefully I'll soon be playing some of his stuff on The Santa Fe Opry.

XXXX

Now I remember how I found Brent's name. He played today at Hankfest in Chicago. I looked up that site because my friend Desdemona Finch won an honorable mention in the Ghost Writers in the Sky Songwriting Contest, which is associated with the festival.

AL GREEN: SHORT, SWEET, INTENSE


Last night as I was leaving the Al Green concert at the Santa Fe Opera, a woman called to me from a car. "Write something fantastic about the show." I smiled and nodded, feeling a little guilty that I wasn't there to review the show, but to enjoy it.

(People always assume I'm always on duty. I remember when my daughter was in elementary school, back when I was a cop reporter. I went to her science fair and a fellow parent asked me, "Are you going to write about this?" I replied, "Not unless someone gets killed here.")

The woman in the Opera parking lot, apparently trying to seal her lobbying effort for a fantastic review for Rev. Green, added, "He saved my life tonight."

Other people at the show had similar quasi-religious responses. A few minutes before, I'd spoken with an acquaintance who said he'd been down on his luck for the past few years. "But everything's going to be allright, that's what Al Green told us," the man said, referring to the title of one of Green's gospel hits he'd performed Saturday. "That was the message of this show. Everything's gonna be allright! That's the message of Christianity as well as rock 'n' roll."

Indeed, Green gave a fantastic show, albiet a relatively short one. He raised an incredible amount of joyful energy. I won't say he saved my life, but it sure felt good while he was singing.

His band -- two guitars, two keyboards, two drums, two female singers, bass and three-man horn section -- was tight and mighty. Green himself seemed to be ON. His vocals were impeccible, gliding effortless between soulful shouts and his trademark falsetto. His smile was infectuous. I don't know how many long-stemmed roses he passed out to adoring audience members.

As you'll see in the set list below, Green stuck mainly to his older, more familiar hits, though he opened with the title song of his 2004 album. He was a jubilent preacher in his upbeat songs like "Let's Stay Together," "Here I Am" and "Tired of Being Alone" On his cover of The Bee Gee's "How can You Mend a Broken Heart" Green, well, broke your heart. His short takes on classic '60s soul hits was tantilizing. I wish he'd have done full versions of "I Can't Help Myself" and San Cooke's "Bring it on Home to Me." The final song, "Love and Happiness" built into an estatic frenzy.

Green and band left the stage after that one, which didn't surprise me. I figured they'd come back for an encore and take it all the way to the top with "Take Me to the River."

But no.

I've been going to concerts for more than 40 years now, (my first was The Beach Boys at Oklahoma City's Springlake amusement park in the summer of 1964) and only recently -- Al Green and Rickie Lee Jones -- have I seen performers refuse to do encores while hundreds of screaming fans begging for more.

I'm not sure whether this was the singer's choice or some weird rule of the Opera's of which I'm unaware. But, as wonderful as Green's performance had been, this left a weird taste in my mouth. He kept saying he loved us, but when he didn't come back I felt cheap and used.

Speaking of the Opera, they just started having popular music concerts there a couple of years ago. This was the first non-opera concert I've seen there and I was impressed. The seats are comfortable and the open air (but roofed!) structure is gorgeous. I hope Fan Man brings a lot more shows there next summer. The Opera could become Santa Fe's answer to Colorado's Red Rocks Amphitheater.

Al Green Set List
September 17, 2005
The Santa Fe Opera
Santa Fe, N.M.


I Can't Stop
Let's Get Married
Everything's Gonna Be Allright
Amazing Grace
Let's Stay Together
How Do You Mend a Broken Heart
Here I Am (Come and Take Me)
Simply Beautiful {note: I'm not 100 percent sure of this one. Feel free to correct me in the comments section.}
Medley: I Can't Help Myself/Bring It On Home To Me/My Girl/I've Been Loving You Too Long Tired of Being Alone
Love and Happiness

Here's my Pasatiempo interview with Al Green.

Tune in for a lengthy Al Green set on Terrell's Sound World, KSFR, 90.7 FM tonight about 11 p.m.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

ROBERT VIGIL and MICHAEL MONTOYA

New Mexico papers, including The New Mexican will be full of stories about Friday's arrests of state Treasurer Robert Vigil and former state Treasurer Michael MOntoya on federal racketerring charges.

Here's some stuff I wrote about for Saturday's paper:

Versions of these stories were published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Sept. 17, 2005

Politicians are nothing but a bunch of crooks wallowing in graft and corruption.

That’s the message that an already cynical public gets with cases like the arrests of state Treasurer Robert Vigil and former Treasurer Michael Montoya on federal extortion charges, according to several state political observers interviewed Friday.

The two are accused of taking about $700,000 in kickbacks from investment advisers.

“Right now in this country the public’s mood is quite dissatisfied with the government,” said F. Chris Garcia, a political science professor at the University of New Mexico. “These cases do tend to further the notion that politics is bad and politicians are corrupt. These things tend to confirm all (the public’s) suspicions.”

Garcia said public corruption cases tend to paint all the government with the same brush.

“It does lead to lowering people’s esteem for politics and government in general,” Garcia said. “It’s very unhealthy in a democracy. Public officials have the responsibility to be good examples.”

State Democratic Party Chairman John Wertheim offered no moral support for his fellow Democrats Vigil and Montoya.

Through a spokesman, Wertheim said Friday, “Public corruption is a scourge that erodes the confidence of the citizenry. These charges are not to be taken lightly. If true they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

State Republicans said the arrests show the need for a stronger two-party system in the state, where Democrats control both houses of the Legislature. Democrats also hold the governor’s office and every other elected office in state government but land commissioner.

“When you have one party in control for 76 years, this kind of corruption is to be expected,” said state GOP Chairman Allen Weh in a written statement. “This is a wake up call for voters to insure they elect some Republicans to offices Democrats have held for years, and to throw any politician out of office when there is any hint of impropriety.”

Vigil is up for re-election next year. He hasn’t said whether he plans to run again.

“New Mexico should not be for sale,” said Marta Kramer, executive director of the state Republican Party. “Elected officials who use their position for personal gain violate the public trust. The voters of New Mexico have the responsibility to ensure that we have a healthy two party system.”

Rep. Larry Larranaga, R-Albuquerque, said in a news release, “If these allegations are true, I am angry and disappointed that an elected official with such a high and grave responsibility would do something so reprehensible.”

But state Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, said Friday, “I don’t think it’s a black eye until they’re convicted. I hardly know these fellows, but it’s very unfair to say someone is giving the state a black eye before they’ve even been tried. Let the legal system do its job.”

McSorley, a lawyer, said the only people who see Vigil and Montoya’s arrest as an indictment on politicians in general are “the uneducated.”

“Most long-time New Mexicans will wait until they know what the facts are,” he said. “People realize that some investigations can be politically motivated.”

Gov. Bill Richardson was out of state Friday. A spokesman said his office had no comment on the arrests.

Richardson and Vigil both were elected as Democrats in 2002. When Richardson took power he appointed Vigil’s primary opponent Jan Goodwin.

Goodwin, during her tenure as state Board of Finance director in 2001, got into a political dispute with then Treasurer Montoya after the board rebuked Montoya a $400 million mutual-fund investment he made in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

XXXXXXXXXXXXX

Neither state Treasurer Robert Vigil nor former stranger Michael Montoya are strangers to controversy.

Both are ambitious politicians who have run for higher offices.

Both have a history of controversial dealings in public office.

And now both are facing 20 years in prison on federal racketeering charges.

Here’s a look at the political careers of both men.

Robert Vigil, 51, of Ribera is a certified public accountant who has a B.A. in accounting and business administration from New Mexico Highlands University.

He was elected state auditor in 1990, and was re-elected to a second term in 1994. After an unsuccessful bid for governor in the 1998 Democratic primary, he served as deputy state treasurer under Montoya for four years.

Vigil has been known to joke about old allegations against him. In a 2002 interview with a New Mexican reporter, Vigil, then running in a tough Democratic primary for state treasurer, said that he’s recently run into an old friend he hadn’t seen in a few years.

Vigil told his friend he could use the man’s support in the race. The man turned white, Vigil said.

“What’s wrong with you?” Vigil asked.

“Are you out of jail or what?” Vigil’s friend replied.

During the 2002 campaign, a 1999, a state audit of Vigil’s tenure as state auditor had been in the news.

The audit found possible violations of state laws, including the filtering of money to a former assistant through an accounting company and money being given to a nonprofit group headed by Vigil’s wife.

Then state police Chief Frank Taylor wrote that the audit showed “strong patterns of public corruption” existed at the state auditor’s office during Vigil’s reign.

No charges ever came from the allegations in the report.

Vigil dismissed the report as a “smear campaign” by his political enemies, including his successor, State Auditor Domingo Martinez. Attorney General Patricia Madrid said at the time that the audit “is not unbiased,” given the long-standing feud between Martinez and Vigil.

Though audit was an issue in the primary, Vigil was still able to win a plurality over Jan Goodwin, who was later named secretary of Taxation and Revenue by Gov. Bill Richardson, and a third opponent.

After taking office as treasurer, Vigil’s office was searched by the Secret Service, who had a warrant to look for evidence of counterfeiting.

One of Vigil’s employees — who never was charged with a crime — was under suspicion of printing money and passing it at businesses. The Secret Service confiscated a computer and printer used by the suspect.

There was no indication in the government’s affidavit that the investigation had anything to do with Vigil or the regular operations of the office.

Michael Montoya, 53, of Los Lunas, graduated from the University of Colorado in 1985. Five years later he made his first run for office, losing the Democratic primary for state treasurer in 1990.

He worked as a deputy state auditor under Vigil in the early ‘90s, including a stint as director of state's Medicaid Fraud Unit in state auditor's office. In 1994 he was elected to his first term as state treasurer, bring reelected four years later.

In 2000 he was the Democratic nominee for Second Congressional District seat, but lost to longtime incumbent Joe Skeen.

During that campaign season state police Montoya's office looking for documents to prove allegations that his brother Orlando Montoya had contributed embezzled money to his campaign for Congress.

Authorities said Orlando Montoya, a Los Lunas businessman, diverted more than $600,000 from a business partnership.

According to a police affidavit, Orlando Montoya told investigators he embezzled money and used it to pay personal and business debts, but some went to his brother's campaign.

Orlando Montoya pleaded guilty to embezzlement and forgery.

Michael Montoya threatened to sue the state Public Safety Department for the search.

Two months after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Michael Montoya found himself on the hot seat at a meeting of the state Board of Finance.

The board voted 5 to 1 to find that Montoya acted improperly in a $400 million mutual fund investment he made in the wake of the Sept. 11. To follow the law, Montoya should have gotten the consent of the board before investing the money in a mutual fund.

The only vote against the motion was Montoya himself. He said the rebuke was politically motivated, though both Democrats and Republicans were critical.

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The case against Vigil and Montoya is only the latest instance of New Mexican state treasurers facing criminal charges related to allegations of financial wrongdoing.

In the past 30 years there have been at least two such cases.

In November 1985, state Treasurer Earl Hartley resigned from office after pleading guilty to misusing money for a Western State Treasurer’s Association conference in Santa Fe.

Hartley, a former state attorney general and state senator, as part of his plea agreement, was required to pay the association more than $4,300 that Hartley had used for hotel and golf resort charges, airplane tickets, meals, drinks, clothing, car rentals and tires.

In August 1975 deputy state Treasurer Jesse Kornegay resigned after being convicted of perjury. Kornegay had been state Treasurer until his term expired at the end of 1974.

He was convicted of lying to a federal grand jury that was investigating illegal political campaign contributions to Kornegay, an unsuccessful candidate in the 1972 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.

Kornegay served less than half of his 22-month sentence at a federal prison in Arizona. He then came back to Santa Fe, where he got another state job, an administrative aide for the state Mobile Housing Commission.

THE SANTA FE OPRY PLAYLIST

Friday, September 16, 2005
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
Now Webcasting
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell


OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
Nothing at All by The Waco Brothers
Rattled by The Traveling Wilburys
Lawd I'm Just a Country Boy in This Great Big Freaky City by Alvin Youngblood Hart
Country Blues by Tarbox Ramblers
Gotta Get Up by The Bottle Rockets
Barrier Reef by Old 97s
Right to Be Wrong by Delbert McClinton
Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed by Kinky Friedman & The Texas Jewboys
That Nightmare is Me by Mose McCormack
My Rough and Rowdy Ways by Bill Cox

He Lays in the Reins by Iron & Wine and Calexico
TTT Gas by The Gourds
Have Your Way by Hundred Year Flood
Rosebud by Ryan Adams
Bandages and Scars by Son Volt
Don't Get Me Started by Rodney Crowell
My Sister's Tiny Hands by The Handsome Family

I Push Right Over by Robbie Fulks
One Way Ticket to the Blues by Marti Brom
Ida Red by Merle Haggard
My Own Kind of Hat by Rosie Flores
Apartment Number Nine by Tammy Wynette
Green Green Grass of Home by Porter Wagoner
Back Street Affair by Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn
I'm Not Ready Yet by George Jones
That Little Honky Tonk Queen by Moe Bandy & Joe Stampley
I Fall to Pieces by Mike Nesmith

It Ain't Easy by Goshen
Banker's Son by Joe West
Alone and Forsaken by Hank Williams
Muriel by Eleni Mandell
Things Change by Lonesome Bob
Passing Through by Gary Heffern
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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


.

Friday, September 16, 2005

WHAT INSTRUMENTS DO THEY PLAY?

This is what happens when you mix music and state government.

The state Music Commission just sent out a press release about the New Mexico music showcase tomorrow at the State Fair.

Who: 24 local musicians/singers
What: Compete to see who is the best at the State Fair Talent Showcase
When: Saturday, September 17th, 12:00 p.m. until 10:15 p.m.
Where: State Fair's Ford Pavilion (located between the food court and beer gardens)

The lineup for the showcase is:

Country/Folk/Americana -- 12:00 - 2:00 p.m.
Blues/R&B/Gospel -- 2:45 - 4:45 p.m.
Ethnic/Traditional -- 5:30- 7:30 p.m.
Rock/Alternative -- 8:15 - 10:15 p.m.

Special Guests:
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson
Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez: 1:00 p.m.
So there's no names of any of the bands or singers playing. The only ones named are the politicans.

What's this tell you?

TIME OF THE PREACHER

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
September 16, 2005


When The Rev. Al Green was a teenager his father kicked him out of their family gospel group after finding young Al listening to Jackie Wilson records.

That’s a classic example of the conflict between the sacred and the profane, a Faustian struggle that has been a major and ongoing theme in the history of American music.

“There’s a difference, of course, in both worlds, the secular and the sacred,” said Green -- who is performing at the Santa Fe Opera Saturday -- in a phone interview Monday. “But I can only be one person. I have to reconcile these things in my mind to persevere and press on.”

This conflict was apparent from the earliest days of rock, when Little Richard denounced the sinful ways of the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle to become a preacher -- at least for a few years. And when Jerry Lee Lewis told Sun Records owner Sam Phillips in essence that he knew rock ‘n’ roll would lead him straight to Hell, but he intended to rock all the way to the flames. It was central to Sam Cooke, who stunned devotees of his gospel music by going to the secular world and helping create a sound known as “soul music.” It ate away at Marvin Gaye -- shot to death by his father, a minister -- whose biography is titled Divided Soul. It’s been a major issue for Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Prince, Robert Randolph and who knows how many others.

Filmmaker Robert Mugge, who made a 1984 documentary called The Gospel According to Al Green, said in an e-mail interview this week that “the sacred-secular conflict clearly represents both the heart and the soul of Al Green.”

Mugge said he used to introduce the movie saying, “This is a film about love, about the connections between soul music and gospel, and about a man who flew to close to the sun, got his eyeballs burned, and has been singing ever since with fire coming out of mouth.”

But Green said Monday he long ago reconciled this inner conflict.

“I don’t have any blockades to hinder me in the things the Lord has allowed me to do,” he said. “I look at what God has done, and I think `How magnificent!’ … I don’t have to draw lines. Other people might think they have to draw lines on everything, but not me. No, because I’m Al. I know who God is. To me, God performs a miracle every day when I wake up in the morning.”

Born in rural Arkansas and migrating with his family to Grand Rapids, Mich. at an early age. By the age of 20, after his dad had thrown him out of the gospel group, Green was pursuing a musical career in the world of soul.

In 1969 hooked up with a trumpet player and producer named Willie Mitchell in Midland, Texas. (They’d both been cheated by a nightclub owner there.) Recognizing Green’s vocal prowess, Mitchell took him to Memphis, where he was a producer for Hi Records.

Together, Green and Mitchell created a new soul sound. And by 1971 Green was swimming in hits: “Love and Happiness,” “Let’s Stay Together,” “Tired of Being Alone,” “I’m Still in Love With You.”

“I was 21 and this sex-symbol type of Al Green,” Green said. “ There was a poster of me with my shirt off and a picture of me with my thumbs in my pants. That was back then. It doesn’t make for me today. I wrote those songs about girls, not the Lord. But as time goes on, you begin to reconsider about what‘s important.”

As documented in Mugge’s film, Green’s guilt and conflicts with his soul star lifestyle and his religious upbringing were becoming apparent even by the mid ‘70s.

It all came to a head in a horrible 1974 incident in which a spurned girlfriend threw a pot of boiling grits in his face as he was bathing, causing second-degree burns. She then went into a bedroom and committed suicide with a gun.

Green converted to Christianity and by 1976 was an ordained minister. By the end of the decade he turned his back on secular music for years.

Mugge said his interview with Green for the documentary was one of the first time Green publicly talked about some of his darker times.

“Some of his longtime musicians were in the control room of his studio, basically standing there with their mouths hanging open,“ Mugge said. “I learned from them afterwards that Al had spoken to me of things that, to their knowledge, he had never discussed with anyone. Naturally, the so-called `hot grits incident’ was, for him, the most painful subject for him to address. But I had the sense that he really did what to talk about it that day -- to get the matter out on the table, to let people know exactly what had happened, and then to be done with it.”

Though his past two secular albums, I Can’t Stop (2003) and Everything’s O.K. have received strong critical acclaim, Green considers his church, The Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis, his true work.

He says he preaches there 52 weeks a year, including Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night services. The church, which seats 150, has become a Memphis tourist attraction.

“People come from all over,” he said. “Yesterday there were people from Finland. We’ve had people from Austria, Japan, Australia, Ireland, they come from everywhere. The word has spread that if you’re really into Al Green, you’ve got to go see him at his church. You think he’s something on stage, you should see him at the Tabernacle.”

Green said his secular work serves God as well as his gospel music.

“Love will make you do right,” he said. “Of course it can sometimes make you do wrong too. But I’ve had couples come up to me and say they got married to my music.

“Some have said they had their children because of my music,” he said. Green said he asked one woman how that was possible. She answered in song, he said, then he imitated her: “Lay your head on my pillow …” he sang. (This is from his version of Kris Kristofferson’s “For the Good Times.”)

Green said he’s already begun a new album, which he said will include a cover of a Marvin Gaye song, though he refused to say which one.

He’s also going to be the subject of an upcoming biopic starring Mekhi Phifer. The working title is “Tired of Being Alone.”

As for the show Saturday night, Green said, “Tell Santa Fe I’m going to bring them `Love and Happiness.’ "

Who: The Rev. Al Green with opening act Raul Midon
What: Soul Music
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday Sept. 17
Where: The Santa Fe Opera
How Much: Tickets range between $25 and $85. Call Santa Fe Opera Ticket Office 986-5900
Contact Fan Man Productions

TERRELL'S TUNEUP: LET'S ALL GET DIXIE FRIED

A version of this appeared in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Sepetember 16, 2005

Every time I hear classic Southern rock these days, I always recall a weird bit of trivia from an old Beavis & Butthead cartoon that makes me chuckle. Beavis, according to a passing reference from Butthead, was sired by a roadie for The Marshall Tucker Band.

I’m not sure why that struck me as so funny. But it always makes me wonder how many little Beavises were spawned around this great land of ours during the bluesy, boozy era when hairy hoards of Southern rock warriors -- Marshall Tucker, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Wet Willie, Grinderswitch and of course The Allman Brothers roamed the Earth.

No one is calling it a “movement,” but in recent years there have been several bands from the South that proudly play upon their Southern roots. Though these groups don’t really sound much alike -- and none of them consciously imitate their 1970s forefathers -- in all of them I hear a little bit of the spirit of Duane Allman and Ronnie Van Zandt. And a little bit of Beavis & Butthead too.

Here’s a look at some recent Southern rock CDs.

*Aha Shake Heartbreak by Kings of Leon This is one of the most interesting and most satisfying bands from any region to arise in the last few years.

Originally hailing from Oklahoma, (now settled for several years in Tennessee), the core of the Kings consists of three brothers, Caleb, Nathan and Fared Followill, whose father, Leon Followill was a traveling Pentecostal preacher with an earthly fondness for The Rolling Stones and Neil Young. With their guitar-playing cousin Matthew, the Kings play a melodic, though stripped-down, style of guitar rock with a Southern accent.

The Kings’ 2003 debut album Youth and Young Manhood appeared on many a critic’s Top 10 list that year -- including mine. That album was so refreshing I feared a sophomore slump, like what happened with The Strokes (a non-Southern band with which the Kings are frequently compared.)

Luckily that’s not the case with Aha Shake Heartbreak. While it doesn’t quite have the element of surprise like their first one did, there’s not a dud in this new batch of songs.

“Slow Night, So Long,” the first track on the album starts off with a frantic guitar punctuating a tawdry tale of a one night of sin with a 17-year-old girl. “So far so good, she’s absolutely wasted,” Caleb sings in his slurred drawl. “She’s opened up like she really knows me/I hate her face but enjoy her company …”

The guitars build up to a Who-like frenzy before slowing down to a jazzy, almost Latin groove, over which Caleb croons a harsh refrain: “Rise and shine all you gold-digging mothers/Are you too good to tango with the poor poor boys?”

Indeed, sex and sin, often with hints of revulsion though usually with a big grin.

And a fair amount of self effacement, or at least self-consciousness about rock-star pretensions.

“Honestly I can see/ the giggling virgin overlooking me,” Caleb sings in a slow, Kinks-like melody “Rembo.” On another song, he sings “Girls are gonna love the way I toss my hair/Boys are gonna hate the way I seem.” Yet, in a previous tune, “Milk” he realizes a woman has noticed his comb-over.

For the purest pop pleasure, this CD offers the pumped-up, break-neck workout “Velvet Snow,” which features some Beach Boys-style harmonies on the last verse. I’m not sure what they’re singing about here. I’m not even going to check the lyrics in the CD booklet. The music sounds so revelatory, I don’t care what the words are.

* Electric Blue Watermelon by North Mississippi All Stars. As the sons of famed Memphis producer and session player Jim Dickinson, Luther and Cody Dickinson -- along with band mate Chris Chew on bass -- are true to the musical traditions of their region.

They’ll bend it, they shape it, make love to it and stomp on it. They’ll add elements of hip hop, New Orleans brass, basic funk and even feint echoes of electronica. They’ll bring in guests like Lucinda Williams and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band Robert Randolph. They’ve got some contributions from the late Otha Turner, who, until his death in 2003 at the age of 94, championed an obscure tradition of Mississippi fife-and-drum music.

Basically, Electric Blue Watermelon is an upbeat joy from start to finish. There’s wild abandon in romps like “Mississippi Boll Weevil” and “Bang Bang Lulu,” while tunes like “Deep Blue Sea” and the 7-minute “Mean Ol’ Wind Died Down” have haunting, melancholy melodies. Meanwhile, you’ll hear references to The Allmans’ “Blue Sky” in the guitars of “Hurry Up Sunrise.” And Luther’s slide guitar will remind a listener of Ry Cooder on several tracks. (Daddy Jim played on and produced several Cooder albums.)

My only complaint about the record is that the lyrics of so many songs, (“No Mo” and “Moonshine,” especially), are so nostalgic, wistfully harking back to a happier time when you could drink cheap booze in Junior Kimbrough’s bar and party down in the country on a Sunday night. Come on guys, you’re way too young to get hung up on the good old days.

The North Mississippi All Stars are opening for Lucinda Williams Tuesday at the Lensic Theater.


*Get Some by Nashville Pussy. This band’s basic sound can be described as a lot of Nuge and a lot of Iggy Stooge. It’s wild, raunchy good-time metal with lyrics about sex, drinking and raising holy hell. Pretty dumb, but tight, relentless rock.

A look at the song titles probably tells you as much as you need to know about this album: “Pussy Time,” “Hate and Whiskey” “Lazy White Boy,” “Meaner Than My Mama” and my favorite, “Hell Ain’t What It Used to Be,” (a comical conversation with the Devil. Remember when all those pinheads used to be seriously concerned with “Satanic” metal?)

And to their credit, Pussy does a great cover of Ike & Tina Turner’s “Nutbush City Limits”

Thursday, September 15, 2005

ROUNDHOUSE ROUND-UP: RAISING FUNDS FOR WHAT?

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Sept. 15, 2005


Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards talked a lot about the “two Americas” when he ran for president — and later vice president — last year.

Tonight he’ll be in New Mexico speaking to the America that can afford to pay $1,000 to go to a political shindig.

Edwards is the scheduled guest of honor at a fundraiser for a political action committee started by state Attorney Patricia Madrid. The event is planned for Los RondeƱa Winery in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque.

Madrid was Edwards’ state campaign manager for last year’s New Mexico Democratic presidential caucus. On one visit to the state Edwards referred to Madrid as “my rock star.”

Most national political observers believe Edwards is running for president again.

What’s uncertain are Madrid’s political plans. Her term is up at the end of next year and she is legally prohibited from seeking a third term.

In addition to the fundraiser, Edwards also is scheduled to speak today at a luncheon of the New Mexico Council on Crime and Delinquency and an event to support the proposed minimum wage increase in Albuquerque.

The money raised at the winery will go to Madrid’s PAC, Justice for America (not the Justice League of America, as I mistakenly said a couple times around the office Wednesday.) The stated purpose of the PAC is for “supporting and mentoring minority women in politics.”

In the most recent report filed with the secretary of state, the PAC had raised $93,500 between December 2004 and May 2005.

Madrid spokeswoman Caroline Buerkle said Tuesday that the funds eventually could be used for a campaign if Madrid runs for a state office.

However campaign finance laws prohibit money from a state PAC — like Justice for America — to be used in a campaign for federal office. There has been some speculation that Madrid might run for the Congressional seat held by Republican Heather Wilson.

Buerkle declined to comment about her bosses’ political intentions but said to expect an announcement in the near future.

Wouldn’t it be ironic: If someone took out a payday loan to go see John Edwards — just one day after Madrid called for tougher restrictions on payday loans?

Speaking of fundraisers: Gov. Bill Richardson had one for his re-election campaign Tuesday night at the Eldorado Hotel. But tickets to that only cost $50. Of course Edwards wasn’t there. Edwards and Richardson very well could end up as rivals in the 2008 presidential contest.

Richardson’s political director Amanda Cooper said Wednesday that about 300 people attended.

A growing force: The Bill Richardson Flack Army is adding another member. On Monday Jon Goldstein, who currently is director of communications at the state Environmental Department, will go to work at the governor’s communications office.

He will join Billy Sparks, Gilbert Gallegos, Pahl Shipley and Yasine Mogharreban in spreading the word about the “bold,” “innovative,” “dramatic” and “historic” actions of the administration to “move New Mexico forward” and “help the working families.”

But Shipley said Wednesday that Sparks, whose title is “deputy chief of staff for communications” will be doing more work in areas like homeland security, emergency response and immigration and less work with the news media. Shipley recently was given the title “director of communications.”

The governor’s staff didn’t add a new position, Shipley said. Richardson’s education policy adviser Liz Gutierrez is going to work for the new Department of Higher Education, so the governor’s staff remains at 49 — which is nearly twice the number he started out with two years ago.

The current fourth-floor press machine replaced Gov. Gary Johnson’s one-woman press office, Diane Kinderwater.

Feasting and freezing: In last week’s Roundhouse Round-up I wrote about Sen. Joe Carraro’s call for an investigation of Public Service Company of New Mexico for giving huge bonuses to its top executives while drastically increasing the cost of natural gas to its customers.

A PNM spokesman on Wednesday said he believes there are misconceptions about the company. “We don’t make a profit on the cost of gas,” said spokesman Don Brown. “We purchase gas on behalf of our customers and pass on the cost. The only way we make money on gas is on the delivery. But that’s only about 25 percent of the gas bill.”

Bonuses at PNM, Brown said are based on the financial performance of the company. “It has nothing to do with natural gas,” he insisted. “The customers don’t pay for the bonuses, the stockholders do.”

Brown admitted that it looks bad when the utility is talking about 60-70 hikes in heating bills while at the same time handing a bonus check of more than $900,000 to CEO Jeff Sterba earlier this year. Bonuses and salaries for PNM's top five executives totaled $3.1 million last year, up from $2.6 million in 2003.

But don’t expect the top PNM brass to forego their bonuses as a part of any p.r. move, Brown said. “We’re looking for real ways to help our customers,” he said. “The price of gas and employee bonuses are completely unrelated.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

MAYBE I SHOULD JUST STICK TO THE TEXT BOOK




While studying for my upcoming test in my political science class, I took a little side trip to read up on James Madison -- and came across a very funky influence in his first administration as president.

No evidence though that Bootsy ever served as secretary of war.

(I took this photo myself at the 1994 Lollapalooza in Phoenix)

A MUSICAL TIME WASTER


As if I have that much time to waste ...

I don't know why, but driving down to Albuquerque this morning listening to the Waco Brothers, I got the idea to compile an Amazon.com list of my favorite alt country albums of the '90s.

You can find The Santa Fe Opry's Top 10 Alt Country Albums of the '90s HERE.


My numero uno was The Waco Brothers' Cowboy in Flames, which I still lvoe more and believe is more essential than anything by Whiskeytown or Steve Earle or Lucinda ... or anything the Wacos have done since. (If you disagree, feel free to use the comment feature here to express your incorrect opinion.)

No, this isn't the first Amazon list I've created. A couple of years ago I did The Santa Fe Opry's Proto Alt Country Albums (60s & 70s). You can find that HERE

Monday, September 12, 2005

TERRELL'S SOUND WORLD PLAYLIST

Sunday, August 28, 2005
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M.
Now Webcasting
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell
Guest co-host Stanley "Rosebud" Rosen

ANNUAL LABOR SHOW: SONGS FOR THE WORKING FOLK
OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Plenty Tough Union Made by The Waco Brothers
There is Power in the Union/We Shall Not Be Moved/Public Workers Stand Together by The Solidarity Singers
How can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live by The Del-Lords
If Jimmy Didn't Have to Go by Charlie King & Karen Brandow
Sad State of Affairs by The Descendents
Mr. President Have Pity on the Working Man by Randy Newman
Working Man's Blues by Merle Haggard
A Working Man Can't get Nowhere Today by Peter Case
Joe Hill by Paul Robeson
De Colores/We Were There by The Brooklyn Women's Chorus
The Rebel Girl by Hazel Dickens

Morning Dew by Bonnie Dobson
Kill for Peace by The Fugs
Waist Deep in the Big Muddy by Pete Seeger
Welcome to My Working Week by Elvis Costello
Babies in the Mill by Dorsey Dixon
Wreck of the Old '97 by Johnny Cash
Sweetheart on the Barricade by Richard Thompson & Danny Thompson
Laurence/Bread & Roses by Utah Phillips & Ani DiFranco
El Picket Sign by Tatro Compesino
La Lucha Continuara by Danny & Judy Rose Redwood
16 Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford
Talking Union/Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream by Pete Seeger
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Saturday, September 10, 2005

THE SANTA FE OPRY PLAYLIST

Friday, September 9, 2005
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
Now Webcasting
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell


OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
Fiesta by The Pogues
Guacamole by The Texas Tornados
El Mosquito by Eddie Dimas
Una Mas Cerveza by Billy Bacon & The Forbidden Pigs
All You Ever Do is Bring me Down by The Mavericks
Volver Volver by Angel Espinosa
La Bamba by Los Lobos
Yo Soy Chicano by The Royal Jesters

Join the Club by The Waco Brothers
Cherry Lane by Ryan Adams
The Bloody Bucket by Grey DeLisle
Private Thoughts by Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez
To Ramona by The Flying Burrito Brothers
We Never Killed Each Other (But Didn't We Try) by Dallas Wayne
Sold American by Kinky Friedman & The Texas Jewboys
My Girl's Pussy by R. Crumb & The Cheap Suit Serenaders

Country Jones by Goshen
Politics of the Dead by Hundred Year Flood
The Combines Are Comin' by Joe West
Let's Waste Another Evening by Josh Lederman y Los Diablos
First There Was by Johnny Dowd with Maggie Brown
A-11 by Marti Brom
Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream by Johnny Cash
Crawdad Song by Clothesline Revival with Mrs. Vernon Allen

Joe Thibodeux by Jimmy Lee Hannaford
Can't You See I'm Soulful by Eleni Mandel
Responsibility by Steve Forbert
If I Told You by Mary Alice Wood
I Ain't Got No Home by Bruce Springsteen
I Wish I Was in New Orleans by Tom Waits
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

Friday, September 09, 2005

VIVA LA FIESTA!!!!

I was too exhausted last night to post about the burning of Zozobra, but I've got to say it was one of the best burnings I've ever seen. The fireworks easily were the most impressive I've ever seen, plus the pageantry just keeps getting better and better. (I was told that my buddy Al Faaet was one of the drummers during the burning. I thought I saw Al up there, but it was pretty far away ..)

A little personal perspective: I've only missed two Zozobra burnings since moving to Santa Fe in 1968. Once in 1973 when my college friends and I got too drunk and arrived late, and in 2003 when I had to cover a presidential debate in Albuquerque.


I first saw Zozobra as a toddler back in the '50s, back when people used to drive their cars into Fort Marcy Ballpark. It scared the living crap out of me, but I was fascinated at the fiery, moaning monster.

Here's a picture of my daughter Molly and me at the 1981 Zozobra. She was about 7 months old at the time. (Unfortunately no such pictures of my son Anton exist. By the time he was born, i'd gotten out of the habit of taking a camera to Zozobra.)

Looking forward to lunch on the Plaza. Pig Boy Willy is gone (no, Coventry, I'm not talking about the governor) but those fajitas from San Antonio make me happy.

Viva la Fiesta!

Here's The New Mexican's account of Zozobra.

And here's some funny old New Mexican coverage, going back to the '30s. (I wish I could write stories that had "Wild Eyed Monster" in the headline ...)

UPDATE (Friday afternoon): This is horrible! El Rey de Los Fajitas, the food booth from San Antonio that is home to the "Texas Tornadoe" (sic) chicken and beef fajita, is not on the Plaza this year! Known for the colorful fighting roosters painte on the booth, maybe all the anti-cockfighting activity here scared them off. Fiesta has lost both Pig Boy Willy and El Rey. What a revoltin' development ...

HELPING NEW ORLEANS MUSICIANS

Last Sunday during BeauSoleil's performance, band leader Micheal Doucet had festival staff pass around buckets to collect money for New Orleans musicians who were victims of Katrina.

I donated, as probably did most who were there, though I wasn't sure of what exactly the fund was. But I got an e-mail this morning that I think explains it. Apparently it has something to do with the New Orleans Musicians Clinic.


Last evening 150 New Orleans musicians came together at Grant Street, one of Lafayette's ( 2 1/2 hours sw of New Orleans in the heart of the Cajun country) famed music clubs.In a culture where even our funerals have dancing and music, silence is a bleak testiment to the loss of soul. The absence of instruments seemed to add a note of desperation as musicians tenatively walked into the unfamiliar club. Their solemn faces reflected uncertainty and despair.

Brittany Kite, the second generation proprieter of the club, had opened her heart to New Orleans displaced musicians and to the newly arrived staff of the New Orleans Musicians Clinic. It was a simple gesture of kindness, a heartfelt welcome. ...

Noted Cajun musicians Micheal Doucet (Beausoliel) and Zachary Richard gently moved through the crowd, hugging their comrades, promising their support. Doucet has volunteered to produce the (Healthcare For Musicians)fundraising street dance next week. Richard is helping to organize paid gigs for musicians in the schools and shelters.
For more information on helping musicians who were victims of Katrina, CLICK HERE

And here's a list of New Orleans musicians who are known to be safe after the hurricane. Yes, Irma Thomas and Alex Chilton are among them. CLICK HERE



TERRELL'S TUNEUP: RECENT ALT-COUNTRY (WHATEVER THAT IS)

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
September 9, 2005

No Depression magazine is celebrating its 10th anniversary, which means that the concept of "alternative country" has been around for more than a decade.

It never became the next big thing as some people predicted for about 10 minutes in the mid 90s, but there are still some fine alternative country artists out there. Here’s a round-up of some recent examples:

* Freedom and Weep by The Waco Brothers. Starting out as a side project for Mekon Jon Langford, the wonderful Wacos have been around for about as long as No Depression magazine.

In the mid ‘90s some of their songs were full of snide references to President Clinton. ("Dollar Bill the Cowboy" for instance.) But these days another president has won the Wacos’ hearts. In the liner notes of Freedom and Weep, Brother Dean Schlabowske’s thank-you list concludes with, "Most of all, thanks to W for all the material."

No, President Bush’s name isn’t mentioned once in the lyrics. There are some lines that could be interpreted as rage against the White House. "Loaves and fishes, drugs & guns -- One for all and all for one/Dumb boy the patriot -- one day, one day, you’ll run out of luck," Langford spits in "Chosen One."

Or there’s the election-night depression of "Rest of the World," where Schlabowske sings "The champagne’s still on ice/Might as well down it tonight/It ain’t gonna wait four more years/Nor will your rights."

But mostly its an atmosphere of political malaise that permeates the songs of Freedom and Weep. "If you’re think you’re getting screwed, join the club," sings steel guitarist Mark Durante on the closing song. "If you’re sick and tired of being used, join the club."

But while the words speak of a nation shrinking in liberty and prosperity, the music here is classic hard-charging, hard-chugging Waco Brothers. Truly this is music to dance on the ashes by.

*Cold Roses by Ryan Adams & The Cardinals. Some have said this double-disc set is Adams’ ode to The Grateful Dead -- at least the psychedelic-country Workingman’s Dead/ American Beauty -era Grateful Dead.

It’s true, there are some very Dead-like tunes here -- the opening cut "Magnolia Mountain" for instance -- that surely have Jerry Garcia grinning in the Great Beyond.

But to me this album isn’t so much a Dead tribute as it is a return to Whiskeytown. This is the closest Adams has come to that "damned country band" he started "because punk rock is too hard to sing."

The sound of Cold Roses is more country than anything he’s done since his first solo album Heartbreaker. On a song called "Cherry Lane," Adams even sounds he’s attempting a Hank Williams yodel.

Much of the credit for the country feel here should go to his band, especially steel guitarist Cindy Cashdollar, an Austin veteran who has played with Asleep at the Wheel among others.

Some songs are practically begging for some mainstream country star to turn into schlock, such as the gorgeous "When Will You Come Back Home." Of course these are balanced by songs like "Beautiful Sorta," which rocks with a rockabilly swagger.

* Red Dog Tracks by Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez. Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris set the standard for male/female country duets. I’m not saying that Chip and Carrie reach that pinnacle, but if anyone deserves the Gram & Emmylou Award this year, it has to be this duo.

Taylor is a grizzled veteran of the music world. His biggest contribution to western civilization is the ‘60s garage-band classic "Wild Thing," (Yes, someone actually wrote "Wild Thing." It didn‘t just burst forth from the Forbidden Cavern as you might have assumed.) He also wrote "Angel of the Morning," a sexual-guilt hit full for both Marilee Rush and Juice Newton.

Rodriguez doesn’t have that history, but she’s sure got the talent. Her voice is a sultry, sexy drawl, comparable in some ways to Lucinda Williams, but sweeter. She’s also a fine fiddler, showing off that talent in the bluegrassy instrumental "Elzick's Farewell."

The strongest songs here are the slow, longing, dreamy ones that show off not only the irresistible vocal harmonies but guest picker Bill Frisell’s guitar as well These include "Private Thoughts," "Once Again, One Day … Will You Be Mine." and "Big Moon Shinin’," which has one of the best country metaphors I’ve heard in awhile: "I am a 12-year-old Macallan scotch -- on the third shelf of the bar/ waitin’ for you to just … drink me up."

A couple of Hank Williams songs here ("My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It" and "I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love With You)" are well and good, but seem like filler. If Taylor’s still writing this impressively all these years after "Wild Thing" there’s surely a couple of spare originals that would have been better.

* Iron Flowers by Grey DeLisle. Someday historians will surely debate which was worse -- "Stairway to Heaven" by Dolly Parton or "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Grey DeLisle.

But despite that weird misstep, which kicks off the album, DeLisle has released another album of aural delight.

Her last effort, The Graceful Ghost lived up to its name in spookiness and ethereality. There are hints of that spirit here, most obviously on quite songs like the title number "Sweet Little Bluebird."

But on Iron Flowers she’s backed on most songs by a full band and sounds much tougher. In fact, on some songs like the rockabilly gospel of "God’s Got It," and the fierce acoustic romp called "The Bloody Bucket," she even shows evidence of a Wanda Jackson growl. And on "Blueheart," backed by a fuzz tone-loving band called The Amazements, she sounds outright grungy.

THE SANTA FE OPRY PLAYLIST

Friday, Sept. 22, 2017 KSFR, Santa Fe, NM Webcasting! 10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM Email ...