Thursday, March 31, 2005

MY PAL AL

I just got this e-mail regarding an upcoming gig by my friend Al Faaet. Looks like my brother is involved in this too. Here's the whole e-mail:

"How is it that one group of men have stuck us, (so to speak)with a set of bleak, dead-end prophecies that we've been dragging around for centuries, not only making us complicit in the inevitable disasters they call for, but demanding that we make them come true?"

AL FAAET AND HIS MERRY FRIENDS present NEW,IMPROVED,PROPHECIES
@ HIGH MAYHEM STUDIOS
1703 B LENA ST, SANTA FE
SATURDAY APRIL 23 2005 9 PM

featuring
ADD/DAD w dave steinkraus doug wooldridge
LYRA BARRON
JACK CLIFT
J.A. DEANE
MATT DEASON
ROSS HAMLIN
JACK KOLKMEYER
ISHTA PAZ
THE UNINVITED GUESTS w/chris jonas, carlos santistevan, yozo suzuki
and special guests

LIMITED INSIDE SEATING $10
all proceeds benefit HIGH MAYHEM FESTIVAL 2005

Al Faaet has been playing relentlessly energetic, unpredictable, and edgy music in Santa Fe since 1984. He was the founder of the SPIRITUAL ENERGY COLLECTIVE in Bucks County PA, and co-founder of JOYFUL NOISE FOR PEACE in Santa Fe in 1991, and of the DRUM IS THE VOICE OF THE TREES. He was the "experimental" drummer in the infamous banning of improvisational music on the Plaza last summer.

ROUNDHOUSE ROUND-UP: FRAMING & SPINNING

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
March 31, 2005

The Santa Fe County Democrats passed a resolution this week in favor of gay marriage.

Or did they?

I got an e-mail Tuesday from a local Dem who was at Monday night's Santa Fe County Democratic Party convention who said the story I had written about it was inaccurate in one respect.

The word "marriage" never is mentioned in the resolution.

"Please note that it is critical for the press to accurately frame the dispute," the e-mail said.

"Full Civil Rights is the issue; marriage is not," the e-mail concluded.

Yikes! Did the Legislature really eat my brain? How could I have ever made such a stupid mistake?

Looking at the resolution -- which passed on a voice vote with only one Democrat dissenting -- one "whereas" states that "same-gender couples in New Mexico in committed, loving relationships are not currently permitted to take advantage of the full array of civil rights freely given to opposite-sex couples that have full civil rights."

What civil right could that be? The right to chicken done right? Is "marriage" the civil right that dare not speak its name?

The next "whereas" says, "the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and several other countries in the international community of states have extended full civil rights to same-gender couples."

If I remember correctly the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that laws against same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. Were there other civil rights for same-gender couples allowed there that I forgot about?

And finally the only "separate-but-equal" laws mentioned in the resolution are "domestic partnership or civil union legislation." (New Mexico doesn't have any such law.)

Somehow these things led me to believe Monday night's resolution had to do with marriage.

Actually, according to some party insiders, the choice not to use the word "marriage" in the gay-marriage resolution came about because "we were trying to frame it as a civil rights issue and not 'gay marriage.' "

As one local party honcho said Wednesday, " ... when you get blamed for losing a presidential campaign for the Democrats because of gay marriage, well you just get a little timid."

The claim that marriage wasn't the issue of the resolution reminded me of someone on the opposite side of this issue: Sen. Bill Sharer, R-Farmington, who said "I know you're trying to make this a homosexual issue. I'm trying to make this a marriage issue. It is a family issue," when I asked him at a press conference how allowing same-sex couples to marry threaten heterosexual marriages.

Wouldn't it be nice if politicos just said what they meant instead of worrying so much about "framing" and spinning?

Rapid response: It used to be that when a Congressman had a "town hall" meeting around here it wasn't much of a big deal. A few citizens with specific concerns would show up, the Congressman would listen to concerns, shake some hands and try to score some political points, and the press -- and just about everyone else would ignore it.

But those days might be numbered.

Twice this week I've received calls from Danny Diaz, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. I got to know Diaz during the last election when he was a spokesman for the Bush campaign. He'd faithfully call any time John Kerry or John Edwards came anywhere near the state.

But "rapid response" isn't just for elections any more.

This week Diaz was calling to give responses to Congressman Tom Udall, who conducted four town halls about President Bush's social security privatization plan including a panel discussion in Albuquerque with U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman.

On Wednesday morning the e-mailed "response" to Udall's town hall in Taos from a Diaz assistant arrived about three hours before the meeting started.

There's not enough space here to get into the arguments for and against the social security plan. Let's just say Udall is against it and Diaz thinks he should be for it.

Town Hall flashback: The only congressional "town hall" I ever tried to cover was on a slow news day back when Gov. Bill Richardson was a Congressman. The only memorable thing that happened was when a local character -- a man known for always wearing a dress -- read an original poem. This epic seemed to go on forever with the poet getting angrier and more animated with each verse. When he started yelling "Goddamn you, goddamn you!" Richardson looked concerned. I glanced over at then-Richardson aide Butch Maki, who at the time was in the same karate school as me, wondering if Maki would have to use his martial-arts skills. Luckily the guy in the dress calmed down when the poem ended.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

REPO WOMAN

Someone was asking me today about a lady I wrote about six years ago -- Kate the Repo Woman.

I haven't seen her in years, and I forgot her last name. In the story we agreed to use only her first name.

Last time I saw her was a few months after the article was published. I was on my way up to Taos and had stopped at a conenience store in Espanola for a soft drink. Kate talked me into driving her down to a place in San Juan Pueblo, where she had a vehicle to repossess. I dropped her off, she made the pop.

If anyone knows where she is, drop me an e-mail.

Here's the story I did:


As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
April 18, 1999

Repo Woman needed a flashlight, so her driver pulled over and stopped his car at the side of the dark, narrow mean-dog street somewhere north of Espanola.

She was there to hunt for and hopefully "pop" a Pontiac Grand Am. In her hand was the contract the errant Grand Am owner had signed with the title company the year before. The interest rate was ridiculous, but the amount owed was only about $400. The owner had not made a payment in more than a year, had not made arrangements with the title company.

And the owner had signed the contract, which gave the company the right to send someone like Repo Woman whose real name is Kate, a 43-year-old Santa Fe resident who asked that her last name not be used to take back the Grand Am without notice.

She had the contract, and she had the keys, which the title company had retained in case the contract ended like this.

Earlier that day, Kate had done some detective work, calling someone listed as a reference on the contract. She used one of her favorite ruses, claiming to be someone from a package delivery service wondering where the a package could be delivered for the car owner. Using this subterfuge she learned that the car owner had moved. She got directions though rather vague directions to the new residence.

But in this semi-rural area in the dark of night, those directions had stopped being useful. The driver got out of his car to look for his flashlight in his trunk. As soon as he stepped out of his car, someone from a nearby house shouted at him in a belligerent tone. ``What do you want? What are you doing here?'' At this point the already nervous driver, who had never been out on a repo call before, turned into a sputtering, stuttering Porky Pig, shouting out a reply that made no sense in any known language.

And then a stranger's pickup pulled up behind him. ``What's happening, bro?'' someone in the truck yelled. The driver muttered something about the flashlight. The truck drove on.

Without the flashlight, the driver got back into his car and started driving down the road. Suddenly Kate, scoping out each driveway along the road, said, "There's a Grand Am. Maybe that's it." The driver turned the car around and pulled into a driveway so she could see the license plate.

Bingo!

The driver quickly backed out of the driveway, Kate telling him to kill the headlights. There are three or four other vehicles beside the delinquent Grand Am. There are lights in the house. It's not quite 9 p.m. so nobody is sleeping.

Repo Woman, dressed in dark clothing, crept like a cat up the driveway, along the driver's side of the Pontiac, crouching so she won't be seen from inside. The driver watched her shadow heading up the drive. Besides the obvious threat of the people inside, he was worried about the neighbors like the ones up the street who had been so suspicious only moments before. He locked both doors of his car. But then, worried that something might go wrong, he quickly unlocked the passenger side, in case Kate needed to get in quickly.


Sitting in his car he remembered the words of Harry Dean Stanton in the 1984 movie Repo Man (a film Kate says she has never seen): ``See, an ordinary person spends his life avoiding tense situations. A repo man spends his life getting into tense situations''

Suddenly there was a light coming from the direction of the driveway and a second later the sound of an engine starting.

Score!

Kate backed the Grand Am out of the driveway then both she and her driver went off zipping down the narrow little street, both missing the turn on the narrow dirt road that led back to the highway. They had to turn around and head back toward the house of the Grand Am. But nobody had seen Repo Woman at work. At least nobody from the house followed her. She drove back through Espanola to Santa Fe, where she parked the car in an unassuming lot off Agua Fr¡a Road, next to several rows of other recently repossessed vehicles.

For the virgin driver, it had been an intense adventure. For Kate it had been a routine "pop," an easy $75. It was her third repo that day.

Kate is one of two repo people working for Custom Wrecker Company, which holds one of about 50 reposessor's licenses in the state. Most of Custom Wrecker's business is in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, though Kate says she has repossessed vehicles as far away as Raton.

The company makes about $225 for each repo, she said, from which she is paid.

To obtain a repossessor's license from the state Regulation and Licensing Department, one must pay a fee of $250, have a surety bond of $5,000 and obtain a ``warrant'' from the state Public Services Commission's Transportation Department. This warrant shows that the repossession business is properly insured (most repo companies opt for a $500,000 policy to cover all employees, a receptionist at the PSC said) and that all drivers have been instructed about safety issues. There is a $15 fee for the warrant.

Under state law, any repo company transporting a vehicle without a warrant can be fined up to $10,000.

The application asks for a complete financial statement and asks whether the applicant or any partner in his business has ever been convicted of fraud, embezzlement or any other crime excluding traffic offenses.

The applicant must list three character references.

Henry A. Vigil, examiner supervisor at the state Financial Institutions Division of the Regulation and Licensing Department, said he receives very few complaints about repossession companies only two or three formal complaints a year.

"Most of the repo people know what they are doing," Vigil said. "In fact, of the industries we license in Financial Institutions, repossessors get the fewest complaints of all." His agency also licenses mortgage companies, small-loan companies, collection agencies, and escrow companies.

Vigil said that even though getting a repossessor's license is not easy, there is not a problem with unlicensed repo outfits in the state. "These companies are pretty good about policing themselves," he said.

The Repo Code:
``I shall not cause harm to any vehicle or the personal contents, thereof. Nor, through inaction let that vehicle or the personal contents come to harm.''
--Harry Dean Stanton, as "Bud" in Repo Man.


There are certain state laws that New Mexico repo men and women have to follow. While they may take an auto on the street, in a parking lot or even from a private driveway, they are not allowed to take a car from a closed garage, or take a car from property enclosed by a fence.

When a vehicle is taken without notice, the lending institution is responsible for notifying the owner that the car has been repossessed.

After a vehicle is repossessed, the owner has 10 days to get up to date on his or her loan and pay the cost of the repossession and any legal fees.

If the owner does not reclaim the vehicle, it is auctioned off. The money made in the auction goes to paying off the loan. If that amount does not completely pay off the loan, the person from which the vehicle was repossessed is responsible to pay the remaining portion.

How quickly a repo company is called is up to the individual lending company.

Collection supervisors of two area credit unions said in recent interviews that they make great efforts to work with people who have fallen behind on auto loans and that repossession is the very last resort.

"We really try to work with people," said Maria Trejo of the Guadalupe Credit Union. She said her institution will only order a repossession when the customer stops accepting calls or stops making even partial payments.

Fran Hogan of the Los Alamos Credit Union said that while the standard contract for her credit union gives it the right to repossess a vehicle without notice, "We don't do that except in extraordinary circumstances."

Her office sends out a series of letters and makes a number of phone calls in trying to get the car owner to get up to date, Hogan said.

She said that last year her institution repossessed somewhere between 50 and 75 vehicles but that these represent only a small percentage of the $72 million in the credit union's outstanding car loans.

The number of repossessions has risen slightly in the past three years, Hogan said. But this is because the number of loans has increased.

She blames contemporary attitudes about credit on defaults. "Young people think they can get something right away and worry about the credit bureau later. They don't realize what a serious mark a repossession will be on their credit record."

She also said five-year loans, while reducing the amount of monthly payments, sometimes become discouraging for those who have paid for so many years.

Some auto buyers do not realize the high cost of insurance, Hogan said. "If they don't pay their insurance, the company notifies us and we put the cost of insurance on top of the loan. And we want the (insurance) money right up front. "

Some who default on car loans think they can get away with not paying by moving the car to another state. However, Hogan said, her credit union uses the services of the American Recovery Association, a national repossession network, which will send local repo people to get the car.

"People are surprised at how much information we have on them and how we're all in cahoots," Hogan said.

Repo: A Male-dominated industry

Kate says she has wanted to be a repo woman since she was about 20 years old. She was working at an all-night gas station in her native New Jersey about 3 a.m. when a man in a tow truck drove in the station hauling a new Chevrolet Camaro.

``He'd just snagged it from an apartment complex down the road,'' she said. ``I was just intrigued. Before that my image of a repo man was a 300 gorilla with half his teeth missing.''

However, Kate who says she's had about 75 jobs in her life, mainly blue-collar, unskilled labor did not act upon her dream until last October when she saw a newspaper advertisement for a job at an area repo company.

She said the owner of that company initially was reluctant to hire a repo woman. "It's a male-dominated industry," she said.

But she was hired and worked for the company several months before going to work for Custom Wrecker.

And, she says, it's one of the most enjoyable jobs she's ever had.

Kate has repossessed more than 75 vehicles since starting last October. The work load varies. "There's some weeks I only got two. Then I've gotten up to 13 in a week."

Says Kate, "I've taken cars out of church parking lots, I've taken cars while the owner is shopping inside a store. I'm always on the look out. I've gotten very good at identifying different models of cars, especially the backs of cars."

She says she has repossessed cars for which the owner was only $100 away from paying off.

Repo people have different styles and methods of going after cars.

Gil Salazar of Del Norte Collections in Espanola said, unless instructed differently, he likes to speak face-to-face with the vehicle owner and talk them into giving up their car key voluntarily.

Kate, on the other hand prefers to take the vehicle without dealing with the owner.

Frequently she has had to confront or has been confronted by the person about to lose his or her car.

"Usually I'm just real sympathetic with them," she said. "Most of them are just honest people who have gotten in over their heads. I tell them I'm just doing my job."

There have been some fairly intense confrontations though, she said. One angry car owner tried to run her down on a south-side Santa Fe street. She called the police in that incident, which convinced her attacker to hand over the keys, she says.

Another time she received a major cussing out from a man whose check, it turned out, really was in the mail.

"That's one of the few times I ever lost it," she said. "I can usually keep my head, but he was so abusive, I sunk to his level. I suppose I should apologize to him. Maybe if I see him again ever, I'll buy him a bottle of wine."

Kate says that she still enjoys the "major adrenaline rush" she gets when she starts the engine of a stranger's car and drives off into the night.

But she also enjoys the intellectual challenge of the detective work it takes to track down people who have changed addresses, or who don't leave their vehicles in a place for an easy pop.

She's done the parcel delivery ploy countless times. She's passed herself off as a prospective employer.

Once a married man whose car she was hunting for asked her for a date without ever actually seeing her. She gave a false description of herself, arranged to meet him at a local bar. She watched from across the street as he went inside. Not only was he stood up that night, but he also lost his car.

Even though she is enjoying the job, Kate does have an underlying fear in the back of her mind. "I suppose if someone every seriously attacked me, that would be the day I'd hang it up," she said.

Despite the nature of the business and the violent images of botched repo jobs from the Repo Man movie etched into the popular consciousness violence against repossessors is rare. Henry Vigil from the state Financial Institutions Division said the only case he can remember was an instance in Las Cruces when a repo man wrecked a recovered car while being chased by the irate owner.

Three repos in one day wasn't a bad haul. But Repo Woman wanted to make one more pass at it. She convinced her driver to check out the parking lot of an south-side apartment complex where she was trying to find an elusive Dodge. She'd checked out the parking lot several times before and even knew where others of the same model were parked. But once again, the vehicle under contract was nowhere to be found.

Perhaps the owner had moved. Perhaps the owner was actively hiding it. The next day Repo Woman would check out the owner's work place, maybe call some of the references listed on the loan application. Repo Woman was confident that in the near future she'd be feeling that adrenaline rush when she was behind the wheel of the stranger's car.

Monday, March 28, 2005

THE REVIEWS ARE COMING IN

I made the Rep. Greg Payne's "good" list in the Albuquerque Republican's "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" report on Legislature coverage.

"Terrell tops the list of Il Buono because his by far the best journalist covering the Roundhouse. Balanced and fair to both sides on most issues (he slipped a bit toward the end on medical marijuana ...), Terrell also has a rare perspective for a reporter these days: he attempts to cover events without letting his personal perspective and opinion seep in. It's also clear he has absolutely zero interest in being a part of the Roundhouse "scene" -- which put him head and shoulders above many of his peers."

This is embarrassing. Politicians aren't supposed to say nice things about me! At least he was kind enough to mention the medical marijuana coverage. (CLICK HERE and HERE.)

Payne, by the way, is the only lawmaker I know of who writes a blog. I bet by next session others will pick up on the idea.

TERRELL'S SOUND WORLD PLAYLIST

Sunday, March 27, 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
Easter by Patti Smith
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues by Bob Dylan
Peter Cottontail by The Bubbadinos
Were You There When They Crucified My Lord? by Sister Rosetta Tharpe
The Ballad of John and Yoko by The Beatles
Que Onda Guero by Beck
My Way by Opium Jukebox

Paper Cup Exit by Sonic Youth
Caterwaul by And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
Standing in the Shower Thinking by Jane's Addiction
The Intense Humming of Evil by Manic Street Preachers
She Floated Away by Husker Du
Cosmic Shiva by Nina Hagen
In Hollywood (Everybody is a Star) by The Village People

Magic Road by Al Green
In the Garden/You Send Me/Allegheny by Van Morrison
Mr. Downchild by Sonny Boy Williamson & The Yardbirds
I'm at His Command by The Violinaires
When We Bow in the Evening at the Altar by Isaac Freeman & The Bluebloods
(I Know) You Don't Love Me by Ike Turner

Sweet Young Thing by The Monkees
Let's Not Belong Together by Grandpaboy
Wicked as it Seems by Keith Richards
The Body of an American by The Pogues
Climbing Walls by Ana da Silva
Scarlet Tide by Elvis Costello
Lonesome Susie by The Band
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Saturday, March 26, 2005

THE SANTA FE OPRY PLAYLIST

Friday, March 25, 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
Back From the Shadows Again by The Firesign Theatre
Lookout Mountain by Drive-By Truckers
Won't Be Home by The Old 97s
Prison Walls by Angry Johnny & The Killbillies
Blood is Thicker Than Water by Shaver
High on a Mountain Top by Loretta Lynn
Eggs of Your Chickens by The Flatlanders

Green Green Grass of Home by Ted Hawkins
Karla Faye by Audrey Auld Mezera
Camelot Motel by Mary Gauthier
A-11 by Buck Owens
Down on the Corner of Love by Tracie Lynn
Down Where the Drunkards Roll by Richard & Linda Thompson
I Agree With Pat Metheny by Richard Thompson
Root Hog or Die by June Carter

Van Ronk by Tom Russell
Port of Amsterdam by Dave Van Ronk
My Name is Jorge by The Gourds
Ride by Marlee MacLeod
Heart Attack by The Moaners
Tiger Man by John Schooley
Husband and Wife Were Angry One Night by Charlie Poole
A Wild Cat Woman and a Tom Cat Man by Cliff Carlisle

A Satisfied Mind by Porter Wagoner
Electricity by Paul Burch
In Memory of Your Smile Ralph Stanley with Maria Muldaur
In the Jailhouse Now by Johnny Cash
It's Only Make Believe by John Wesley Harding & Kelly Hogan
When Idols Fall by Ronny Elliott
Has She Got a Friend by Nick Lowe
Here Comes That Rainbow Again by Kris Kristofferson
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

Friday, March 25, 2005

A VERY LUCKY MAN

I just got permission to post the complete lyrics to "An American is a Very Lucky Man," which I wrote about in last week's Tune-up

I guess I was wrong about the "chow-mein or borscht or pizza pie" verse being the last one in the song. Oh well ...

An American is a Very Lucky Man
by George Mysels and J. Maloy Roach
As performed by Fred Waring & His Pennsylvanians


An American is a very lucky man, an American is a very lucky man.
He can walk along with his head up high and look the whole world in the eye,
An American is a very lucky man.

An American is a very lucky guy, he can eat chow-mein or borscht or pizza pie,
He can talk with an accent or a brogue but his Liberty's never out of vogue
He knows freedom, he's a very lucky guy.

Now a man who builds a house of wood and the man who welds a tank,
Are just as proud and just as good as the man who owns a bank.

An American is a very lucky man, He can always count on good old Uncle Sam,
And no one can tell him what to do, except the gal he's married to,
An American is a very lucky man.

Used by permission

TERRELL'S TUNEUP: WEIRD ECHOES FROM RURAL AMERICA

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
March 25 2005


There’s a rich source of wonderful music -- weird as America itself -- hiding within the nether regions of satellite television, the 9400s where you find low-budget, handmade channels featuring religious, educational, left-wing (Free Speech TV, World Link) programming -- television seemingly untouched by modern technical glitz.

The one I’m talking is RFD-TV, “Rural America’s Most Important Network,” up on channel 9409 (That’s Dish Network. It’s channel 379 on DirectTV. I don’t think it’s carried on cable tv around here.)

In between shows like Training Mules and Donkeys, Classic Tractor Specials and Prairie Farm Report, this Dallas-based network has a treasure trove of music shows featuring some musicians you’ll recognize, some that you’ve never even heard of.

RFD-TV shows a couple of classic and influential syndicated country music shows from the 1960s and ‘70s -- The Porter Wagoner Show and The Wilburn Brothers Show.

Both shows featured great guest stars as well hot little house bands.

I’ve caught a couple of old black-and-white Wagoner shows on RFD-TV lately. Wagoner usually sang a couple of solo tunes, but his main job was being the host, introducing other singers -- guests and regulars -- and stepping out of the way. His famous sequined suits played hell on the tv cameras of the day, offering occasional psychedelic distortion as the lights caught the sequins.

The shows I’ve caught recently were from the days before Dolly Parton was with Wagoner. Here his female counterpart was “Pretty Miss Norma Jean,” who had a sexy alto, singing songs like Charlie Louvins‘ “I Don’t Love You Anymore.”


Wagoner’s shows always featured a comic solo by Speck Rhodes, who played slap bass with the Wagon Master Band and sang funny songs like “Too Old to Cut the Mustard.” Rose dressed like a ventriloquist dummy -- checkered suit, bowler hat, bow tie. With his bowl-over-the-head haircut and blacked out front teeth (or were they blacked out? I swear the closer I look the more his mouth looks real) Rhodes was a bizarre throwback to vaudeville and medicine shows.

Wagoner had some extremely impressive guests. One recent show on RFD-TV featured Lefty Frizzell singing “Saginaw, Michigan” and “Always Late.” Another had Red Sovine, who performed a dead-child weeper called “Little Rosa.” The song had a lengthy and surely politically-incorrect speaking park that Sovine performed in a bad Chico Marx pseudo-Italian accent.

Speaking of impressive guest stars, the Wilburn Brothers segment I saw this week featured a young, beehived Loretta Lynn singing “Fist City” and a lesser-known song called “If Loneliness Can Kill Me.”

But also noteworthy on the show was a far less famous singer, a soulful guy named Vernon Oxford from Rogers, Ark. He sang a honky-tonk heartbreaker called “This Woman is Mine” and a truck driving tune called “Roll Big Wheels Roll.”

The Wilburns’ answer to Speck Rhodes was Harold Morrison, who wore a pink (!) checkered jacket and a red taxi driver cap. (Yes, this show was in color.) On this show he sang a raucous “Little Brown Jug,” laughing insanely throughout the whole song. But Morrison could really sing. He joined the Wilburns and Lynn on a moving hillbilly gospel song.

The Wilburns themselves -- Doyle and Teddy -- were an underrated act. Their harmonies remind me of a hardened version of The Everlys.

But old country shows aren’t the only ones offered by RFD-TV. A couple of weeks ago I caught a very enjoyable bluegrass program, The Cumberland Highlanders Show that featured Joe Isaacs and Stacy as guest stars. The Cumberland Highlanders, a Kentucky group, is the house band. Their web site says Ralph Stanley and James Monroe (Bill’s son, not the former president) have appeared as guest.

There’s a gospel show called Gospel Sampler, with a set designed like a country church. The one show I saw was spotty musically. Most of the music was too restrained, though I enjoyed a group called The McGruders, featuring a woman named Priscilla McGruder who sings as if she’s in a religious trance, frequently reaching an arm up to Heaven.

Strangest of all, RFD-TV apparently is the world television headquarters for polka music.

Polka star Jimmy Sturr has his own RFD-TV show. But the most fun is The Big Joe Polka Show featuring the portly Joe Siedlik, who is known for his vests that look like accordion keyboards. Big Joe seems to have a different colored cummerbund every time he introduces a new band.

The show is recorded live at various Midwestern venues. The camera often shows the dance floor. Sometimes there are only a handful of couples on the floor and few seem to be under the age of 65.

The quality of the bands vary widely. Some are pretty weak, though one band I recently saw on the show was as fun and energetic as Brave Combo or The Polkaholics. That’s The Chmielewski Funtime Band. It’s led by Florian Chmielewski, a former Minnesota state senator. But the real star is his son Jeff Chmielewski, who plays sax -- on one song, “The Chmielewski Twirl” he played it upside down -- and fiddle, where he sounds like the Doug Kershaw of polka.

After the show, I was googling to get more information on this amazing musician. I found a disturbing little news story that said Jeff Chmielewski, in 1999 was sentenced in federal court to 46 months in prison in connection with a scheme to undervalue slot machines sold in South Africa.

South African slot machines? Hunter Thompson couldn’t have dreamed this one up.

Could this be a new subgenre emerging -- outlaw polka?

The Wilburn Brothers Show was on when I first started writing this column Monday morning. But then came an actual bull auction for at least a couple of hours. (”Look at the cow wrecker on that one, boys.”) Anyone who’s ever heard one of these knows that auctioneering is a weird, hypnotic kind of American music itself.

Most of these shows are scheduled several times during the week. Check RFD-TV’s Web site for the schedule.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

WORDS TO LIVE BY

I had planned to run a compilation of some of my favorite Quotes of the Day from the recent session in the big Legislature wrap-up package in last Sunday's New Mexican. It turned out there wasn't enough space.

That's why God gave us blogs. Here's those quotes:

“In our great state, we have a tradition of working together, Republicans and Democrats, side by side. We have our disagreements. We have our debates. Maybe sometimes I overdo it.”
Gov. Bill Richardson in his State of the State address.

“Bill Richardson has become ... The Elvis.”
— Playwright/actor Charles Pike performing part of his play Elephant Murmurs in the Capitol before an audience that included the governor.

“His desire is to fund everything that will get him to New Hampshire on time, and not worry about the state of New Mexico along the way. It’s just a sad day for the kids of New Mexico.”
Rep. Dan Foley, R-Roswell, reacting on the House floor to a line-item budget veto by Richardson that killed a $330,000 pilot project to provide free admission to school athletic events — in Roswell.

“You have always been a voice for the downtrodden. ... You have been almost like a God to them.”
Sen. Phil Griego, D-San Jose, speaking in support of former House Speaker Raymond Sanchez, whose nomination to The University of New Mexico Board of Regents won unanimous Senate approval.

“I thought the governor’s airplane was the official state aircraft.”
Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, during a committee debate on SB 13, which would designate the hot-air balloon as the official state aircraft. Richardson wants the state to buy a $4 million plane for the state.

“If the Legislature does not act on this bill and the governor does not sign this bill, I have to ask, ‘What are they afraid of?’ ”
Sen. Steve Komadina, R-Corrales, regarding his SB 20, which would have established a program for voluntary drug testing for elected officials. The bill was killed.

“They made money the old-fashioned way. They got up at 4 a.m., drank alcohol and sat in line in their lawn chairs.”
Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, offering a rousing defense of ticket scalpers in arguing against SB 988, which would have made scalping tickets to professional-sports events a misdemeanor.

“He’s not going to get in any trouble for being here, is he? I know there’s some places he can’t go.”
Sen. Tim Jennings, D-Roswell, after another senator introduced former Rep. Max Coll, D-Santa Fe, who was sitting in the gallery. Jennings was apparently referring to a recent newspaper story about Coll not being welcome to attend a charitable event at the governor’s mansion.

“Egg-Suckin’ Dog/I’m gonna stomp your head in the ground/If you don’t stay out of my hen house/You dirty Egg-Suckin’ hound.”
Sen. Shannon Robinson, D-Albuquerque, singing the chorus of a song popularized by Johnny Cash, after speaking against SB 432, which would authorize local animal-control authorities to seize and destroy dogs deemed dangerous. Despite Robinson’s vocal talent, the bill passed the Senate 22-15.

“Unless the wolf can read the statute, it confuses the heck out of me who is really responsible.”
— Senate President Pro-tem Ben Altamirano, D-Silver City, voicing concerns about SB 72, which would have outlawed wolves that have been released on federal lands from entering state or private lands. The Senate Conservation Committee tabled the bill.

“Wow, look at all these 900 numbers!”
Sen. Joe Carraro, R-Albuquerque, joking about a telephone bill that Senate Republican Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, handed him during the floor debate on a measure concerning telephones in rural areas.

“The best place to have a heart attack is in a casino.”
Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Albuquerque, talking to the House Government & Urban Affairs Committee about his HB 547, which would appropriate $250,000 to local governments for automatic external defibrillator programs.

“Love is the most powerful, the most powerful, the most powerful force in the universe.”
Sen. Mark Boitano, R-Albuquerque, speaking at a news conference about several Republican-sponsored bills aimed at keeping marriages intact.

“ ‘Love is in the air’ isn’t enough — laws need to be on the books.”
— Headline of Senate Republican news release announcing a news conference about proposed bills to strengthen families.

“Maybe we should put snipers out there. That seems to motivate.”
Rep. Keith Gardner, R-Roswell, joking with the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee about how to get New Mexico voter turnout as high as that in the Iraqi elections.

“I know you’re trying to make this a homosexual issue. I’m trying to make this a marriage issue. It is a family issue. ... This is not attacking homosexuals.”
Sen. Bill Sharer, R-Farmington, explaining his bill to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. He was responding to a reporter who asked how allowing same-sex couples to marry threaten heterosexual marriages.

KSFR FUNDRAISER

Been so busy with the Legislature and recovering from the Legislature, I haven't even made a plea for pledges for the KSFR Fundraiser .

In all modesty, we've become a great little station, and like the kid in the old Shake and Bake commercials used to say, "And I helped!"

Be sure to read Yasmin Khan's story in The New Mexican this morning (and while you're at it, somebody kick John Coventry's ass for calling the station "A bunch of Commies" in the comments section.)

If nothing else, a story in this week's Santa Fe Reporter illustrates the dastardly nature of commercial radio. Turns out that Rocque Ranaldi, who did KBAC's Friday night funk show and was the program director of 101.1 FM, "The New Mix" has been canned by his corporate masters at Clear Channel. (Sorry, The Reporter didn't put the story on its Web site.) I never heard 101.1, but I did tune into the funk show every now and then. Next to Lucky's Belvedere Lounge, it was KBAC's best show.

I like all the people I know at KBAC, but it irked me when they started calling themselves Santa Fe's "community radio" station a while back. (I think they cut that out.) And lots of people don't realize that KBAC's slogan "Radio Free Santa Fe" was lifted from KSFR 10 years ago in some kind of Satanic pact made with a former KSFR honcho in a moment of dementia. I still cringe whenever I think about that.

Like Eric Idle says, "Clear Channel's a dear channel ..."

So get your credit card out and support KSFR.

By the way, I'll be doing the Santa Fe Opry myself Friday, first time in three weeks. Tune in!

ROUNDHOUSE ROUND-UP: TURNING THE MUSIC DOWN

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
March 24, 2005


The music stopped in the Senate Finance Committee.

Early this year, Gov. Bill Richardson proposed the state establish a state music commission, modeled after similar music agencies in Texas and Louisiana "to protect, promote and archive music in New Mexico."

Senate Majority Whip Mary Jane Garcia, D-Dona Ana, introduced a bill for the administration to create a 7-member commission under the Department of Cultural Affairs, charged with developing a musical directory of services, venues and performances in the state, as well as proposing projects designed to "protect New Mexico's musical traditions or promote the music industry in New Mexico."

Senate Bill 167 asked for $100,000 for the commission.

However, the bill never made it out of Senate Finance.

Some might argue this was for the best.

After all, had the bill made to a Senate floor debate, it's doubtful that Sen. Joe Carraro, R-Albuquerque (who entertained the Roundhouse with his version of "That's Amore" on Italian-American Day) and Sen. Shannon Robinson, D-Albuquerque (who sang a verse of Johnny Cash's "Dirty Old Egg-Suckin' Dog" during the Dangerous Dog Act debate) could have resisted temptation to display their musical, uh talents.

While the bill died in committee, the budget that eventually passed the Legislature and was signed by the governor, does contain an appropriation of $25,000 earmarked to promote New Mexican music.

Stuart Ashman of the Department of Cultural Affairs, said Wednesday that the state Arts Commission will appoint a committee to consult with music promoters and preservationists to determine what the state should do with the money.

"What we'll probably come up with is a Web site to promote music," Ashman said. The site would include listings of musicians, venues, festivals, music education programs, etc.

Loie Fecteau, executive director of the Arts Commission, said the state already funds many music-related projects - documenting and preserving the rural folk music traditions of the state as well as contributing to music organizations like the New Mexico Symphony, the Santa Fe Jazz Festival and the Silver City Blues Festival.

Legislating the news: This last session is unusual in at least one regard. Usually some lawmaker introduces a bill to take away the newspaper industry's exemption from the state gross receipts tax. Quite often, this bill is introduced by a legislator who is angry over bad publicity.

There was no tax-the-papers bill this time, but there were at least four bills aimed at the newspaper business.

SB 164, sponsored by Robinson, would have required that papers exempted from the gross receipts tax "publish the name and hometown of each dead or wounded service personnel that resulted from combat or overseas deployment." This didn't make it out of Senate Corporations and Finance Committee, which Robinson chairs.

But the three other bills actually passed the House, only to die in various Senate Committees.
HB 253, sponsored by Rep. Larry Larranaga, R-Albuquerque, would have required all general circulation newspapers published in the state to print obituary notices for free. This passed the House 40-15 but died in Senate Corporations and Transportation. (Earlier this year, The New Mexican began publishing front-page death notices for free.)

HB 849, sponsored by House Speaker Ben Lujan, as passed by the House (52-12) would have allowed the state General Services secretary to set the rate for legal advertisements purchased by state and government agencies. This died in Senate Judiciary.

HB 850, also sponsored by Lujan, would have required newspapers to provide accidental injury insurance or workers' compensation insurance to those who sell papers on the streets. This too died in Senate Judiciary.

Speaking with forked tongues: Tongue splitting is still legal in New Mexico. SB 364, sponsored by Sen. Lee Rawson, R-Las Cruces, would have regulated body art and would have outlawed the practice of tongue-splitting never made it out of committee.

It died in Senate Judiciary, which was also the burying ground for SB 80, sponsored by Sen. Rod Adair, R-Roswell, which would have required parental consent for minors wanting tattoos or piercings. Adair had another bill (SB 81) to prohibit body art for minors, but it stalled in Senate Public Affairs.

The tattoo/nose-ring bill that made it the furthest was HB 478, the Body Art Safe Practices Act, sponsored by Rep. Rhonda King, D-Stanley. This would have required licenses for tattoo artists and piercers and established state standards for the industry. This passed the House 63-0, but withered in Senate Judiciary.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

NO OBJECTIVITY HERE


I won't even pretend to be neutral on this one.

Gregg Turner is a friend of mine. We've done musical gigs together. The picture here is a publicity shot (thanks, Dave Alfaya!) for one of those performances about 10 years ago. I even sang at Gregg's wedding, as did Jono Manson and Lenny Hoffman.

What happened to him at New Mexico Highlands is downright sleazy. I wish I could link Gregg's op-ed piece in Sunday's New Mexican, but it didn't run on the free site.

Basically, Turner, a math professor at Highlands, was denied tenure at Highlands even after getting a strong recommendation from his department head and a strong rating by his peers. Gregg was one of four professors in the same boat.

The stench is high on this one, folks.

Monday, March 21, 2005

TERRELL'S SOUND WORLD PLAYLIST

Sunday, March 20, 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
Leave the Capitol by The Fall
Clown Time is Over by Elvis Costello
Dummy by NRBQ
51-7 by Camper Van Beethoven
Big Shot in the Dark by Timbuk 3
Quiche Lorraine by The B52s

Let Loose the Kraken by The Bald Guys
Adventures Through Inner Space by The Bomboras
Experiment in Terror by Davie Allan & The Arrows
Scatter Shield by The Surfaris
Shredded Heat by Dick Dale
Cha Wow Wow by The Hillbilly Soul Surfers
H is for Harlot by The Civil Tones
The Casbah by Los Straightjackets
Who Got the Grady by The Diplomats of Solid Sound
The Godfather by Satan's Pilgrims
Jack the Ripper by Link Wray

Red River Valley by Brave Combo
Polka Enemy # 1 by The Polkaholics
Who'd You Like to Love Ya by Li'l Wally
Top of the Hill Polka by Nancy Hlad
Blue Polka by Rotondi
Do Something Different by Brave Combo
Nichts Nein Frankenstein by Das Furlines
Ten in One by Crow Hang
Weiner Dog Polka by Polkacide

My Singing Soul by Soel
The Last World of Fire and Trash by Joy Harjo
Cody by Mogwai
Lost in the Supermarket by The Afghan Whigs
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Saturday, March 19, 2005

THE SANTA FE OPRY PLAYLIST

Friday, March 18, 2005
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
Now Webcasting
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Substitute Host: Laurell Reynolds


OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
Nashville Skyline Rag by Bob Dylan
I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink by Merle Haggard
I Am A Lonesome Fugitive by Roy Buchannan
Six Days On the Road by Graham Parsons and the Fallen
Angels
1952 Vincent Black Lightening by Richard Thompson
Mother Earth and Cheat by the Sadies
All Of You Fascists Are Bound To Lose by Woody Guthrie
I Need A Man To Love by Janis Joplin

Life of Ease by Steve Terrell
Lovesick Blues by Linda Ronstadt
Making Believe by Kitty Wells
Sometimes When I Get To Thinking by Buffy Sainte Marie
Me and My Uncle by Judy Collins
Tommorrow Is A Long Time by Sandy Denny
A Satisfied Mind by Porter Wagoner
The Man Who Couldn't Cry by Johnny Cash

Little Maggie by The New Lost City Ramblers
Hop High My Lulu Gal by Dirk Powell and Jim Miller
Walkin' Boss by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman
Give the Fiddler A Dram by the Holy Modal Rounders
Wild Bill Jones by the Highwoods String Band
Gentle On My Mind by John Hartford
To Love Somebody by the Flying Burrito Brothers
Leavin' On Your Mind by Patsy Cline
Sweet Dreams by Roy Buchannan

Saturday Clothes, Changes, and Too Late For Prayin' by Gordon Lightfoot
Stairway To Heaven by Dolly Parton
Sweet Old World by Lucinda Williams
Another Man Gone by Vera Hall
Alone With You by Faron Young
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

Friday, March 18, 2005

TERRELL'S TUNEUP: AN AMERICAN IS A VERY LUCKY MAN

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
March 18, 2005


Listening to a batch of recent -- and fairly recent -- CDs in my never-ending pile of promos, I can’t help but be drawn back to a strange little song from my elementary school music class.

I’ve written about it before in this very column, but it continues to haunt me. It was a patriotic little ditty called "An American Is a Very Lucky Man."

For years, I didn’t know where the song came from. As far as I knew, it was written by some music teacher in Oklahoma City.

Through the magic of Google, I just learned that it was written by George Mysels and J. Maloy Roach, a songwriting team best known for the inspirational Perry Como hit "One Little Candle," and that at one point it was performed by Fred Waring -- I’m not sure with or without His Pennsylvanians.

Yes, like the Candle song, "Lucky Man" was dangerously corny, but it had a nice populist twist that made an impression: "The man who builds a house of wood and a man who welds a tank/ is just as proud and just as good as the man who owns the bank."

But it was the last verse, a celebration of cultural diversity, that I believe helped shape my wide tastes in music (as well as food.)

"An American is a very lucky guy/ He can eat chow mien or borscht or pizza pie ..."

By extension, that means you can enjoy polka, New Orleans jazz and strange strains of jazz fusion and ‘70s Blaxploitation soul -- as performed by Frenchmen.

I sure do. An American is a very lucky man.

*Let’s Kiss by Brave Combo. The Combo call this CD their “25th Anniversary Album.” It’s hard to believe the boys from Denton have been playing their high-energy mix of polka, rock and anything that crosses their collective mind for that long. But they sound as if they still love doing it.

This is a collection of newly recorded material. The liner notes say they’ll wait until their 50th anniversary to do a retrospective.

The Combo doesn’t break much new ground here. They still do a basic pumped-up polka beat driven home by the horn section of Jeffrey Barnes (clarinet and saxes) and Danny O’Brien (trumpet). Guitarist Carl Finch still has that goofy warble when he signs and bassist Bubba Hernandez specializes in those irresistible Mexican polkas.

And they still have a knack for crazy cover tunes. They do the old tune "Bumble Bee" (best known by The Searchers, but done best by Laverne Baker), complete with an instrumental section of "Flight of the Bumble Bee."

They make "Red River Valley" sound as if it were written for a polka band. Plus there’s two versions of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and a minute-long version of The Simpsons theme.

*Putomayo Presents New Orleans. The pantheon of New Orleans musical vast is so great it would be ridiculous to even try to represent it on one disc. Therefore, I have to quibble with the title of this CD.

And I’m irritated because the 35 or so pages of liner notes give precious little recording date information on the songs here.

But listening to the good-time music included on New Orleans, it’s hard to stay grumpy very long.

The emphasis of this compilation is on Crescent City jazz. You won’t find any Professor Longhair, Fats Domino, Clarence “Frogman” Henry or Neville Brothers. The only famous contributor from the New Orleans rock world here is Dr. John, who does a soulful “Basin Street Blues.”

Some of my favorites here are Louie and Louie -- Armstrong and Prima.

Satch’s “Tin Roof Blues” is a slow blues recorded in 1966, late in his career. It’s not nearly as powerful as his early recordings, but he could still blow.

Prima does a snazzy version of “Basin Street Blues,” complete with his trademark scat singing. Even though at two minutes it’s less than half as long as Dr. John’s version, Prima's is more satisfying.

One of the strangest cuts here is Dr. Michael White’s “Give it Up (Gypsy Second Line).” With White’s wailing clarinet, this tune suggests a connection between New Orleans jazz and klezmer.

*Memento by Soel. Close your eyes when you’re listening to this album and try not to visualize Richard Roundtree or Melvin Van Peebles or Pam Greer duking it out with The Man. This music could be straight out of some long lost Blaxploitation flick.

True, you can hear little modern touches of hip-hop and electronica here and there. It’s pretty obvious on the trippy cut called “Earth Mother” with its percussive loops of tablas and dub-like bass and on “To This World” with its relentless hip-hop funky drum loop.

But the spirit of movies like Shaft and music like “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” prevails through all the tracks of Memento. There’s even some vocal samples of the militant proto-rap group The Last Poets on a couple of songs.

Surprisingly this album primarily is the work of French hipsters. Trumpet player Pascal Ohse is the mastermind here, while his longtime collaborator Ludovic Navarre, aka St. Germain, is producer and musical director.

While there are samplers and synthesizers at work here, real live musicians carry the major load. Edouard Labor’s flute on “We Have Died Already” is downright hypnotic.

Ohse and Navarre have done a magnificent job absorbing the music of the Superfly era and synthesizing it into something timeless.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

TOP O' THE FOOD CHAIN TO YA!


Happy Saint Pat's and go stróice cúnna ifrinn do bhall fearga!

I got that little Gaelic gem from an Irish curse generator.

And go n-ithe na péisteoga do dhea-chlú to you all.

(Thanks to my friend, Dana in Albuquerque!)

ROUNDHOUSE ROUND-UP: STUDY HALL

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
March 17, 2005


Here's a modest proposal for future legislation: a memorial to direct a study about the effects on state government of studies directed by the Legislature.

Every year our lawmakers pass measures that don't actually do anything but ask some state agency to study some particular issue.

Here's a sample of some of the studies that both chambers of the Legislature have agreed upon so far:

* House Joint Memorial 63, sponsored by Rep. Debbie Rodella, D-San Juan Pueblo, requests the State Commission of Public Records conduct a written study to document Chimayó chile's cultural, traditional and industrial connection to present ways of living in Chimayó and surrounding communities.

* House Bill 684, sponsored by Rep. Kandy Cordova, D-Belen, would ask the state Department of Health to conduct a study on gambling addiction and its relation to suicide and bankruptcies. (Because this is a bill, with an appropriation of $110,000, it would have to be signed by the governor.)

* Senate Joint Memorial 15, sponsored by Sen. Steve Komadina, R-Corrales, asks the State Parks Division to study boating safety education programs.

And here's one that feeds a paranoia I didn't even know I had:

* HJM 75, sponsored by Rep. Richard Vigil, D-Ribera, which directs the Regulation and Licensing Department to study the elevator industry. It turns out there's no state agency responsible for making sure the elevators in this state are operating or maintained correctly.

I think I'll take the stairs, at least until they do this study.

Besides the studies that have passed both chambers, there's plenty still creeping through the legislative process.

And just last week, Sen. Mary Jane Garcia, D-Doña Ana, frustrated at not being able to pass her bill to ban cockfighting, said she might introduce a last-minute memorial to ask the state to study the socio-economic effects of cockfighting on the state. So far, that measure hasn't seen the light of day.

Two state cabinet secretaries interviewed Wednesday said they don't feel put upon by all these calls for studies.

"You don't have to do these studies," said Health Secretary Michelle Lujan Grisham, noting that most of them come in the form of memorials, which are non-binding. "But these express a clear legislative intent and our job is to respond."

But both Grisham and Human Services Secretary Pam Hyde said they sometimes worry whether their respective departments have the expertise needed to conduct some of the studies they are asked to conduct.

Frequently, the secretaries noted, this year's study turns into next year's legislation. This happened with the state telemarketing bill that passed the Legislature two years ago.

"These studies are usually topics that constituents have raised with legislators," Hyde said. "It's an appropriate way of raising an issue for public discussion."

St. Jeff?: Last week in this column, I quoted a recent National Review article that claimed U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman is one of the most vulnerable senators up for re-election next year.

Bingaman's office responded by sending a poll conducted earlier this year by New Mexico Research and Polling Inc., that basically showed Bingaman to be pretty darn popular in this state.

According to the poll, 67 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of Bingaman - 29 percent saying "very favorable," 38 percent saying "somewhat favorable." Only 14 percent said they have an unfavorable opinion of the Democrat. Even a healthy majority of Republicans - 60 percent - have a favorable opinion of Bingaman, the poll said.

The same poll showed U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici to have a total of 68 percent favorable rating with 20 percent saying they have an unfavorable opinion of the Republican senator.

Most of the questions in the poll dealt with environmental and energy issues.

The poll was commissioned by Green and Associates, a New Mexico public-policy consulting firm, said Research and Polling president Brian Sanderoff. A random sample of 500 voters statewide were interviewed by telephone between Jan. 26 and Feb. 1. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percent.

Sanderoff said the numbers indeed look good for Bingaman's re-election effort.

Another indication that Bingaman might not be that vulnerable, Sanderoff said, is that there is not a "long line of people" waiting to challenge him. So far only former state Sen. Tom Benavides, a perennial candidate who at various stages of his career has run as a Democrat an independent and most recently as a Republican, has said he'll challenge Bingaman.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

THOUSANDS OF INNOCENT CDs CONDEMNED TO GRUESOME DEATH

I just received this e-mail from the wife of Jerry Lawson, former lead singer of The Persuasions, that classic a cappella band.

we just got word that there are 4,000 Persuasion Grateful Dead cds at a warehouse in Virginia. They are all going to be thrown away because they are not selling and they are taking up shelf space. There's a sleaze bag guy in the middle of it all and he says the only way he'll stop them from being scrapped is to find people who'll buy them in batches of 100 @$7 each... we don't know anyone who wants to spend $700 and own 100 cds... but if you think you'll ever need 100 gifts of Persuasion music through the years well here's your chance to get them below retail.. they'll be destroyed in a week or so unless we can guarantee him sales...

what a world....


For the record, I haven't heard The Persuasion's Grateful Dead CD, Might As Well. I did enjoy their Frank Zappa CD, Frankly A Cappella.

Strangely enough, I first came into contact with Jerry a few years when he e-mailed me over a bad review I wrote about The Persuasions' Beatles tribute. The music itself wasn't bad. I just didn't like the trend at the time of this great group being reduced to being an a cappella cover band of white classic-rock groups. Jerry's email wasn't disputing that. He acknowledged that all these tribute albums were forced upon them by the money men. He wanted to assure me that the group was working on an album of the kind of soul and gospel material that made us love them in the first place. And in 2003 the group released the excellent A Cappella Dreams, which unfortunately was to be the last Persuasions album. Jerry soon afterwards moved to Arizona and set out on a solo career.

If you know anyone who can help spare the lives of some these 4,000 innoent CDs contact Jerry Lawson.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

TERRELL'S SOUND WORLD PLAYLIST

Sunday, March 13, 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
Under My Thumb by Social Distortion
Bad Boy by The Beatles
Shortnin' Bread by The Cramps
Pagan Baby by Creedence Clearwater Revival
She Lives in a Time of Her Own by 13th Floor Elevators
F'!#in' Up by Neil Young
I've Got To Be Me by Iggy Pop
Keep on Lovin' Me, Baby by Ike Turner

Fear Song by Joy Harjo
Existentialist Polka by The Polkaholics
Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White by Brave Combo
George W. Bush Loves Poland by Kazik Staszewski
The Forest of No Return by Sun Ra
Ramblin' Gamblin' Man by Bob Seeger

DEATH PENALTY SET
Send Me to the 'lectric Chair by David Bromberg
Stack O'Lee Blues by Mississippi John Hurt
I've Just Got to Get a Message to You by The Bee Gees
Green Green Grass of Home by Dave Alvin
Long Black Veil by The Band
Sam Hall by Tex Ritter
Sam Hall by Black 47
The Mercy Seat by Nick Cave
Karla Faye by Mary Gauthier
Sing Me Back Home by Merle Haggard
Ellis Unit One by Steve Earle

Shining Pain by Soel
The Face of Love by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Eddie Vedder
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

RFDTV

I just watched an old black-and-white episode of The Porter Wagoner Show, featuring Left Frizzell (!!!) Norma Jean (Porter's featured female vocalist before Dolly came along) and the lovely and talented Speck Rose. Even though Lefty only sang about half of "Saginaw, Michigan" it was great.

I owe this to Helen, who yesterday morning stumbled across a wonderful bluegrass program The Cumberland Highlanders Show (the episode we saw had Joe Isaacs as a guest) on RFDTV, "Rural America's Most Important Network." It's on channel 9409 on Dish Network.

Before Porter this morning we caught the tail end of the Big Joe Polka Show (a music show I'd seen with my daughter a year or so ago.)

I notice RFDTV also has The Wilburn Brothers Show, Gospel Sampler, and other music shows that look promising.

Of course the focus is agriculture, not music on RFDTV. But sometimes that's interesting too. During a "comemrcial break" for Porter there was an interestingly little featurette on organic farming.

RFDTV is a nice human-scale network. Maybe someone will convince them to run old episodes of The Buck Owens Ranch.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

THE SANTA FE OPRY

I didn't do the Santa Fe Opry Friday night due to my work covering the Legislature, so I won't be posting a playlist. I heard my substitute host Tom Knoblauch (who graciously agreed to fill in when I called him Friday morning) say he'd e-mail his list to me so I can post it later.

I did hear part of the show and it sounded great.

Next Friday Laurell Reynolds will fill in for me, That's the last night of the legislative session.

I'll be doing Terrell's Sound World Sunday, Tune in for the death-penalty songs.

Friday, March 11, 2005

TERRELL'S TUNEUP: OLD SPARKY'S TOP 10

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
March 11, 2005


If there were more singers and guitar pickers in the Roundhouse, the debate on capital punishment would have been settled years ago.

You look at the number of songs about the death penalty and you realize how lopsided the debate is in the hoary mists of song lyrics.

It goes back to my theory of crime-and-punishment songs in general: It never hurts a politician to advocate getting tough on criminals, locking ‘em up, and frying the really bad ones.

But the songs we know and love tell a different story. You rarely hear these law ‘n’ order sentiments in the lyrics of American music. There you hear mainly sympathy for the men workin’ on the chain gang, and even compassion for those on death row.

Here’s my top 10 favorite death penalty tunes.


1) “Ellis Unit One” by Steve Earle. Earle is an activist fighting the death penalty. He’s written several songs about the subject, but this one nailed it. The original version appeared on 1995’s Music From and Inspired By Dead Man Walking, but I personally prefer subsequent versions with background vocals by the gospel group The Fairfield Four.

The narrator of the song is a guy who works in the Texas prison where executions are conducted. “Well, I've seen ‘em fight like lions, boys/ I've seen 'em go like lambs/And I've helped to drag ‘em when they could not stand /And I've heard their mamas cryin' when they heard that big door slam/ And I've seen the victim's family holdin' hands.”

And by the end of the song, it’s getting to him. He’s dreaming of being strapped to the lethal injection table himself and feeling “something cold and black pullin' through my lungs.”

2) “Sing Me Back Home” by Merle Haggard. This was a big country hit for Hag in the late ‘60s. It’s got something going for it most of the songs here don’t: It’s based on actual people the singer knew while he was in San Quentin Prison who were executed. One was Caryl Chessman, a convicted serial rapist who Haggard -- and many others -- believed to be innocent.

Writing about Chessman’s execution in his autobiography My House of Memories, Haggard said , “On a hillside outside of prison, a group of people had gathered to sing gospel songs. Many were protesting capital punishment in general; others were protesting Chessman’s pending execution. Others just came to sing to a dead man walking to his grave.” The incident inspired the line, “I recall last Sunday morning a choir from off the street/came in to sing a few old gospel songs” from this song.

3) “Karla Faye” by Mary Gauthier. This tearjerker is about the 1998 execution of Karla Faye Tucker by the state of Texas. Gauthier’s Louisiana drawl is sweet as sugar, though by the end of the song it feels like you’ve been punched in the gut. Tasmania-born country singer Audrey Auld Mezera’s covers “Karla Faye” on her new album Texas.

4) “The Mercy Seat” by Nick Cave. This song, also covered by Johnny Cash, is one of Cave’s most intense, dealing both with the physical reality of death in the electric chair and the psychological breakdown of the condemned man in the days leading up to it.

5) “Green, Green Grass of Home” by Johnny Darrell. This song, later made more famous by Tom Jones, was popular on the country charts a couple of years before “Sing Me Back Home.” Until the last verse, the tune sounds like some sentimental drunk recalling the old folks back home. But then you find out he was only dreaming. “For there’s a guard and there’s a sad old padre/Arm in arm we’ll walk at daybreak …” He’ll be returning to the green, green grass of home -- only when he’s buried beneath it.

6) “Long Black Veil” This modern “folk” song, written by Danny Dill, has been recorded by Lefty Frizzell, Johnny Cash, The Band, The Chieftains (with Mick Jagger on vocals) It’s the story of a guy who gets the noose after being convicted of murder in a case of mistaken identity. “I spoke not a word, though it meant my life/I had been in the arms of my best friend’s wife.”

7) “I’ve Just Got to Get a Message to You” by The Bee Gees. A kindly preacher about to walk the last mile with the narrator of n this late ’60s Bee Gees hit. The narrator is ambivalent about his punishment: “Well, I did it to him, now it's my turn to die.” All he can think about is sending a last farewell to some unnamed loved one.

8) “Sam Hall” This tune is about a defiant criminal shouting taunts at his enemies from the gallows and bragging about his crimes. At one point it was a British Musical Hall number -- as covered by Richard Thompson in his 1000 Years of Popular Music -- though it had a previous life as song about Captain Kidd. Tex Ritter put Sam in the guise of an Old West outlaw. In the version by Irish/American rock group Black 47, Sam is an Irish Republican hero.

9) “Stack O’Lee Blues” by Mississippi John Hurt. There have been countless versions, but Hurt’s 1928 recording provides a rare pro-death penalty song. “Standing on the gallow, Stack O’ Lee did curse/The judge says `let’s kill him before he kills one of us,' ” he sings. The bad man who killed Billy DeLyons for a $5 Stetson hat is hardly a folk hero in Hurt’s version, which concludes, “At 12 o’clock they killed him/They was all glad to see him die.”

10) “Send Me to the Electric Chair” by Bessie Smith. This tune, circa 1928, is about someone who has murdered her lover and demands to be executed, showing no remorse. In the mid ‘70s David Bromberg, who revived the song in a neo-Dixieland style even better capturing its wicked humor.

Hear these songs on Terrell's Sound World, 10 p.m. - midnight (Actually I'll start this set right after the 11th hour) Sunday on KSFR, 90.7 FM, Santa Fe Public Radio.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

ROUNDHOUSE ROUND-UP: TO REFERENDUM OR NOT TO REFERENDUM

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
March 10, 2005


When introducing his bill to legalize medical marijuana last month, Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, noted that if this state had a ballot referendum system -- allowing voters to gather petitions to force issues to be decided by voters -- a law like his would have become a reality years ago.

By complete coincidence, later that very same day, Rep. Greg Payne, R-Albuquerque, announced that he was introducing legislation to amend the state constitution to bring about ballot initiatives.

In announcing what would become known as House Joint Resolution 3, Payne named voter identification and banning cockfights as examples of issues that might warrant referendum votes. Both issues, as usual, have been sandbagged in committee this year.

"Cockfighting demonstrates the need for referendum and initiative," Payne, who wants to ban chicken fights, said in an interview this week. :When an entrenched system can't or won't act, there needs to be some avenue for political redress."

If the HJR 3 passed the Legislature, state voters would have to approve it in the November 2006 election.

Under HJR 3, voters would need 5 percent of the total vote in the last gubernatorial race -- or 8 percent for constitutional amendments to get a question on the ballot in the next general election.

Action on Payne's joint resolution was postponed in the House Voters and Elections Committee to give him time to come up with a couple of amendments to satisfy concerns expressed by other lawmakers.

Payne said he probably would ask the committee to act on the bill later this week.

Despite his remarks about medical marijuana and ballot referendums, McSorley said this week he's undecided about having referendums in New Mexico.

"When I first came to the Legislature I was a big supporter," he said. "But I can see both sides of the issue now."

The way ballot initiatives are handled in California concerns McSorley. "They've turned referendum into a joke," he said. "In California a few wealthy individuals can pay for professional signature gatherers to get enough petitions, then run commercials to sway public policy."

McSorley said he'd like to study the differences between California's referendum laws and those of Arizona, where, he said, abuses don't seem as rampant.

Payne acknowledged that the referendum situation in California bothers some people. "But that's democracy," he said. "Democracy is messy and tough."

Dealing with big money in politics is a national problem, Payne said. "You have to make sure there's transparency in (campaign finance) reporting."

Both Payne and McSorley see referendums as a potential check-and-balance to an unresponsive Legislature.

Payne admits his measure probably has less of a chance of passing this year than a cockfighting bill. But referendums and initiatives, he said, is an idea bound to be discussed in future sessions.

My governor can whip your governor: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would be a girlie man against New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson if the two ran against each other for president in 2008.

This is according to a poll conducted late last month of 800 registered voters across the country by pollsters Ed Rollins, a Republican, and Ed Reilly, a Democrat for Westhill Partners and The National Journal's Hotline.

According to the poll, Democrat Richardson would get 36 percent to Republican Schwarzenegger's 27 percent. Twenty-eight percent were undecided. There is a 3.5 percent margin of error.

Of course, such a contest is unlikely because Schwarzenegger, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Austria, is constitutionally barred from becoming president. And even if there was a great outcry to change the constitution, it would be pretty close to impossible to get an amendment ratified in time for the next election. And according to the same poll, Americans oppose such an amendment by a 65-29 percent margin.

Hotline conducts hypothetical 2008 match-ups each month. In January the Rollins/Reilly poll showed Sen. Hillary Clinton beating Florida Gov. Jeb Bush 45 to 37 percent.

Bingaman vulnerable?: New Mexico just made another Top 10 list. According to The National Journal, we're ranked eighth in the publication's "Most Likely to Switch Party Control" list of 2006 Senate races.

But after declaring U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman as "one incumbent who could get pushed into retirement," the publication says,

"it's shocking how uninterested Republicans seem to be in challenging him. One would think after Bush's impressive showing in the state, finding a legitimate candidate would be fairly easy. But apparently, Republicans are keeping their powder dry in the hopes Bingaman's colleague, Republican Pete Domenici, doesn't seek re-election in '08. Still, we think even a B-list recruit can give Bingaman a scare."


(Note: The only Republican who has announced he'll run against Bingaman -- former state Sen. and perennial state candidate Tom Benavides.)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

ELIZABETH McQUEEN IN SANTA FE

I just got a press release saying Elizabeth McQueen & The Firebrands will be playing at the Cowgirl, Thursday March 24.

I recently reviewed Happy Doing What We're Doing, her new, cool little tribute to English pub rock, for Pasatiempo (you can find it at the end of THIS POST ) and have been playing her songs on The Santa Fe Opry.

Should be a great show. And hey, the Legislature will be over!

HUNTER HUNTED?

I didn't know Dr. Thompson ( one of my co-workers did) but I bet he absolutely would hate being the subject of a lame-brain conspiracy theory.

According to fervered whispers all over the internet, Thompson was rubbed out because he "was working on stories dealing with a homosexual callboy (or programmed sex slave?) ring in the Bush White House and the demolition of the World Trade Center."

The bastards!

Actually I think this Sept. 11 and sex ring talk is just a misinformation ploy to draw attention away from the real killer:

Courtney Love!

Monday, March 07, 2005

TERRELL'S SOUND WORLD PLAYLIST

Sunday, March 6, 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
Jack Pepsi by TAD
Territorial Pissings by Nirvana
Who You Driving Now by Mudhoney
Know Your Rights by The Clash
Slaves & Bulldozers by Soundgarden
Rape Me by Richard Cheese
Smells Like Teen Spirit by Sara DeBell

Making Fun of Bums by Too Much Joy
The Summer of '91 by ... and You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
Superheros of BMX by Mogwai
Cocaine Blues by Wayne Kramer & The Pink Fairies
Lullabye to My Nightmares by They Might Be Giants
She's a Lady by Tom Jones

Deaf Woman's Vagina by John Trubee & The Ugly Janitors of America
Pipeline by Anthrax
Blacktop by Pell Mell
Swamp Stomp by The Diplomats of Solid Sound
Gangster of Love by Eddie Turner
King of the New York Streets by Dion
Me and the Boys by NRBQ
Last Night on Earth by The Mekons

Operator, Help Me by Stan Ridgway
I Hear They Smoke the Barbecue by Pere Ubu
Dead and Lovely by Tom Waits
Friend by Ana da Silva
Jason's List by Howe Gelb
Where or When by Frank Sinatra with Count Basie & The Orchestra
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Saturday, March 05, 2005

THE SANTA FE OPRY PLAYLIST

Friday, March 4, 2005
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
Now Webcasting
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell
Cohost: Laurell Reynolds

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
Then I'll Be Moving On by Mother Earth
California Cotton Fields by Gram Parsons
Play Together Again Again by Buck Owens with Emmylou Harris
Delilah by Jon Langford
I Drink Too Much by Cornell Hurd
Mr. Scarecrow by The Shiners
When I Paint My Masterpiece by Emmylou Harris
Sad Mountain by Boris McCutcheon

Girl Scout Cookies by The Blazettes
Girl Scout Cookies by NRBQ
Patent Medicine by Dr. West's Medicine Show & Junk Band
Buckskin Stallion by Jimmie Dale Gimore & Mudhoney
Honey Babe Blues by Vassar Clements with Maria Muldaur
Ball and Chain by Audrey Auld Mezera
Wings of a Dove by Dolly, Tammy and Loretta
White Lightnin' by George Jones
Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone by Charley Pride

If You've Got To Go by The Flying Burrito Brothers
Close Up the Honkey Tonks by the Flying Burrito Brothers
Panama Hat by Michael Hurley
The Waitress Song by Freakwater
My One Desire by Freakwater
Hesitation Blues by The Holy Modal Rounders
Out of My Head & Back In My Bed by Loretta Lynn
Pack Up Your Sorrows by Johnny & June Carter Cash
Mole In the Ground by The Holy Modal Rounders
That Lovin You Feelin' by Roy Orbison and Emmylou Harris

That's the Way Love Goes by Lefty Frizzell
Pretty Penny by Miranda Brown
Lottie by Ronny Elliott
Since I Met You Baby by Jerry Lee Lewis
Let's Leave Me by Rex Hobart & The Misery Boys
Old Paint by Loudon Wainwright III
It's Four in the Morning by Faron Young
Act of Faith by Stan Ridgway
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

Friday, March 04, 2005

TERRELL'S TUNEUP: KEEPING THE PROMISE OF MTV

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
March 4, 2005


Stan Ridgway’s new DVD Holiday in Dirt -- a compilation of video versions of all the songs from his 2002 album of the same name -- is a rewarding visual and audio experience. It also gives a viewer a glimpse at what might have been had MTV lived up to its original promise.


Some of us who probably were too old for rock ‘n’ roll by the early ‘80s but tried o keep up with it anyway saw the birth of MTV as the dawn of some truly exciting possibilities. (Other rockers my age saw MTV as a harrowing sign of the apocalypse -- and they probably were closer to correct. But indulge me here.)

What a wonderful idea, it seemed at the time: Imaginative filmmakers taking off on music and creating strange tales and crazy imagery.

“Music videos” had been around for years, though nobody called them that until MTV.

I still remember watching the “promotional films” for The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” on tv in early 1967. Between the alluring, alien sounds of “Strawberry Fields” and the images of The Beatles jumping around in the blurry, unusual lighting twisted my teenage head off.

Then came David Bowie’s “The Jean Genie,” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Devo’s bizarre manifesto The Truth About Devolution and Michael Nesmith’s Elephant Parts … And gthen the floodgates opened with MTV.

And MTV did show some promise in those early days. Remember the twitchy, bespectacled David Byrne in the Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” ? The tacky, but undeniably hilarious special effects of “You Might Think” by The Cars? The Clash wielding huge boom boxes like bazookas, dancing around as images of war, oppression and poverty flash in the video of “Radio Clash” ?

But before the new wore off MTV, the whole concept seemed to turn sour. Videos soon became unimaginative and over-produced as most popular music of the ‘80s. The subversive, avant garde videos of the early days became rarer and rarer as videos became more obviously what the music bizzers intended them to be all along -- advertisements for their products.

Through the years there have been occasional music video masterpieces -- Nirvana’s dark “Heart Shaped Box,” directed by Anton Corjbin comes to mind. And Prince’s recent “Musicology” video with the little kid transformed by his dad’s soul records.

But basically the music video deteriorated into glossy footage of mugging pop stars. Who needs it?

Holiday in Dirt, however shows that there’s hope for the beleaguered artform of the music video. After all, he was there at the beginning. Barbecued iguana was a popular menu item on early MTV, thanks to Ridgway’s old band, Wall of Voodoo and their video of “Mexican Radio.”

Basically what he did was pay various directors $500 each to create videos based on the songs from the album. The project apparently was in the works for a few years, as Ridgway has released another album, Snakebite, since then.

Holiday in Dirt, the album, was itself an odds-and-sods compilation of songs -- outtakes, soundtrack material, B-sides, etc. -- spanning more than a decade. So the different visions of the directors seems natural.

You’ve got the surreal, computer-generated cartoons of Jim Ludtke on “Operator Help Me,” Ridgway’s ode to paranoia and aging. (Ludtke is most famous for his videos of San Francisco avant garde rockers, The Residents.)

Chuck Statler, the director of Devo’s influential first video, does the video for Ridgway’s goofball version of Charlie Rich’s “Behind Closed Doors.” It involves a creepy dummy, an even creepier ventriloquist and a set that looks like the infamous dancing dwarf sequence in Twin Peaks.

There’s a World War I recreation by director Rudi Tuzla on the song “After the Storm”; Steve Hanft’s appropriate film-noirish interpretation of “Bing Can’t Can’t Walk,” a song about a mob bone-breaker; a frightening fashion show by David Moe’s film of the stinging techno-jazz tune “Brand New, Special and Unique” and two different visions of Hollywood decay (by directors Rick Fuller and Phil Harder) in the two version’s “My Beloved Movie Star.”

And you get to see Ridgway and director Carlos Grasso wrestle during an angry confrontation at the end of “End of the Line.”

My favorite one is Katherine Gordon’s sentimental video for the country waltz “Act of Faith.” A depressed looking guy stares at his clothes spinning in the crowded Laundromat dryer and watches them become grainy, badly-colored 8mm home movies of endless highways and a laughing dancing hippie couple. As we return to the man in the laundromat at the end of the song, the man’s yearning and regret is nearly tangible.

Music videos just don’t stir emotions like this any more. I wish more quality musicians would instigate projects like this.


Not recommended:

*Here Come the ABCs
by They Might Be Giants. Granted I’m not really qualified to review this DVD. After all, I’m over five years old.

But these boring songs and not-that-interesting graphics -- including cartoons, puppets and a little live action -- just don’t compare with the standard-setting inspired kiddie craziness of the long lamented Pee-wee’s Playhouse.

Back in the ‘80s I’d happily get up at 8 a.m. on Saturdays to watch Pee-wee with my daughter. I can’t imagine any kid of mine trying to wake me up for Here Come the ABCs.

This ABC stuff is slick, safe stuff you can see on "educational" t.v. It's the kind of clean, safe kiddy programming that actual children only enjoy until they're old enough to learn how to change the channel. It’s hard to believe that TMBG would be associated with it. After all, they made some of the craziest, most fun videos of the late ’80s and early ’90s.

As for the music -- there’s a perfectly good song about the alphabet that ends with “Now I’ve learned my ABCs/Tell me what you think of me.” These new songs were as unnecessary as they are tedious. This doesn’t even compare with their last stab at children’s music No!.

BONUS!
MY ORIGINAL REVIEW OF THE CD HOLIDAY IN DIRT


As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Feb. 15, 2002


Stan Ridgway is an acquired musical taste that far more people ought to acquire.

His new CD, Holiday in Dirt, a collection of outtakes, mostly from the 90s, is a must-have for certified Ridgway fans. And for potential cult members, it would be a great place to start.

Lets put it bluntly. Ridgway is one of the finest songwriters working today, a highly literate, often funny, sometimes kinda creepy storyteller who spins tales of sad drifters, barflies, con men, small-time hustlers and lowlifes with high hopes. His damaged but determined characters will haunt you long after the CD player is turned off.

So many critics compare Ridgway's lyrics to Raymond Chandler (I think it was Greil Marcus who started it) that its just about become a clich. Its time for something new. So lets throw this one out and see if it sticks: Stan Ridgway is the Harry Dean Stanton of rock n roll. Its not hard to imagine Ridgway songs bouncing around the mind of the henpecked private detective Johnnie Farragut in Wild at Heart. The hapless Bud in Repo Man could have driven straight out of a Ridgway ballad.

Ridgway's music is not easy to categorized. Starting out as the quirky singer for the quirky L.A. New Wave band Wall of Voodoo, you can still hear a little "Mexican radioo - the spaghetti-Western guitars, the coffee percolator drum machines - in his work 20 years later.

But Ridgway's solo work draws from a wide array of sources - jazz, country, soundtrack music, show tunes and synth pop among them. His musical trademarks are his lonesome harmonica, which appears in many songs and, more importantly, his voice - a nasally tenor that would fit perfectly on many of his shadowy characters.

Holiday in Dirt begins with one of Ridgway's most impressive songs, "Beloved Movie Star.o The subject matter - a washed-up actress helpless to stop youth and beauty from slipping away from her - has appeared in rock songs before (the Velvet Underground's "New Age," Concrete Blonde's "Jenny I Read").

But Ridgway's tune - with its stately harp flourishes and Stan singing in a near worshipful voice as if he's the last one on Earth who believes in the fading star - makes this an instant classic.

"Beloved Movie Star Redux," which ends the album (if you dont count the "hidden" track, a hilarious golden-throat deconstruction of Charlie Rich's "Behind Closed Doors" -- say, is that a karaoke track here?) is a rougher and more acoustic mix. (And as Ridgway points out in the liner notes, you can hear the family dog, Bart, barking in the background.)

At first I didn't like it as much as the first version. Ridgway starts out singing in a lower octave and later switches when its obvious it doesnt work. But the more I listen to it, I think "Redux" has more heart.

"Bing Can't Walk," the tale of a Mafia bonebreaker, is a prime Ridgway crime song. It's got production and a nasty organ by Mitchell Froom and all sorts of classic Ridgway electronic gimcrackery - plus perhaps his best harmonica work on the album.

Another standout is "Brand New Special and Unique," which started out as a song for Ridgway's underrated mid-90s band Drywall. It features a wicked sax by Don Bell, a near hip-hoppy rhythm, cool-cat bass and ghostly background voices provided by the singer's wife, Pietra Wexstun.

This is followed by an ominous, fuzzed-up little rocker called "After the Storm," which sounds even closer to a garage band than Ridgway's amusing though not vital ode to his teenage rock memories, "Garage Band 69."

But Ridgway does far more than create creep shows and peep shows. He's perfectly capable of creating gorgeous melodies. "Amnesia" is a heartfelt love song, while "Act of Faith" is a sweet waltz featuring Stan strumming an acoustic guitar. The melody sounds like a cowboy tune or a traditional Irish song.

Stan Ridgway is one of those "just world" artists. You know, "in a just world, Stan Ridgway (or Richard Thompson/The Mekons/GillianWelch/Johnny Dowd)would be as big as Kenny G (or Garth Brooks/Britney Spears/Limp Biskit).

But somehow just having music like Ridgway's available makes the world seem a little more just.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

SELF-SERVING PLUG

The Santa Fe Reporter this week graciously including this very blog in their list of local blogs.

I just found out that Reporter editor Julia Goldberg has her own blog.

Thanks for the plug, guys.

And I do forgive you for never choosing me as one of the Hunks of Santa Fe.

ROUNDHOUSE ROUND-UP: EMOTIONAL ISSUES

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
March 3, 2004


Any debate over a bill dealing with abortion gets emotional. But one state senator during this week's floor debate over Senate Bill 126 - which would require doctors to notify parents when a minor girl seeks an abortion - took the debate to a new emotional level.

Sen. Diane Snyder, R-Albuquerque, made a passionate speech against the bill - the only Senate Republican to speak in opposition. Her statement laid open many of the intense conflicts people have about the abortion issue in general and the parental notification issue in particular.

She talked about a friend who died from a "back alley" abortion in the days before Roe vs. Wade made abortion legal and safe for women.

She mocked the contention by bill supporters that the bill would bring families together. Instead, she said, it would result in confused and frightened teenage girls going to unlicensed and dangerous abortionists. Or send girls from dysfunctional families to violent confrontations by irate parents.

But then Snyder surprised - and undoubtedly disappointed - many listeners by saying she would vote for the bill. For political reasons, she admitted.

Snyder said if she voted against it, a more conservative Republican would likely defeat her in the next primary election.

But her Northeast Heights district "is a swing district; it's not hard right," she said, so a Democrat would likely triumph in the general election.

Snyder told the Senate that keeping the seat Republican was more important than her vote on the bill - which, she predicted, would die in the House as has happened in past sessions. (It's been referred to the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee, which earlier in the session tabled a similar House bill.)

In a literal way, her vote didn't make a difference. The bill passed the Senate 29-10. But some might argue that voting her conscience might have emboldened other senators - Republicans and Democrats - who believe the same as Snyder but voted for the bill out for political survival.

Talking to a reporter Wednesday, Snyder said there are other Republicans in the Senate who share the same conflicts about parental notification.

Snyder said the fact that she grew up in a small town - Shamrock, Texas - helped shape her view on the issue.

"Back then (if a young woman got pregnant out of wedlock), she'd either just 'go away for a visit' or go to a back-alley abortionist," Snyder said.

While SB 126 has provisions for a pregnant teenager to get a court order to bypass parental notification, Snyder said that would never work with small-town girls. "In a small town, girls would never go to the courthouse to talk to a judge about this," she said. "It would be on the front page of the paper. Everyone in the world would know."

"Families that have good relations don't need this bill," Snyder said. "Families who don't would be hurt by it."

Snyder said so far there have been no repercussions from the GOP regarding her speech.

More moral issues: On another emotional issue debated in the Legislature this week, five House Republicans broke ranks with the majority of GOP lawmakers and voted to pass House Bill 576, which would repeal the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without parole.

The five are W.C. "Dub" Williams of Glencoe, Brian Moore of Clayton, and Teresa Zanetti, Larry Larranaga and Justine Fox-Young, all of Albuquerque.

All but Fox-Young signed on as co-sponsors of the bill, introduced by Rep. Gail Beam, D-Albquerque. Williams and Zanetti have been co-sponsors of anti-death penalty bills in previous sessions.

Moore was the only Republican to speak on the bill during the House floor debate. He said his main concern was the possibility of executing an innocent person. "Death is so final," he said. "I just don't see having a death penalty."

Larranaga told a reporter Wednesday that he has always opposed capital punishment and that he sees his position as consistent with his anti-abortion philosophy. "I'm pro-life from conception to natural death," he said.

Fox-Young said she supported the bill because it provides life in prison without parole for those convicted of some murders. She declined to discuss her opinion on capital punishment itself.

Moore, Larranaga and Fox-Young all said they hadn't received any significant backlash from their party or constituents over their votes.

So far no Republican senator has publicly expressed support of the bill, which will be heard in the Senate Rules Committee.

"We're working on it," one lobbyist for the bill said.

"I've talked to some (GOP) senators about it who are thinking about it," Larranaga said.

Here's July's Big Enchilada Podcast!

Leapin' lizards, it's a new Big Enchilada episode! Featuring some of the world's greatest lizard bands including The...