Saturday, July 30, 2005


Friday, July 29, 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
Hey Sheriff by The Backsliders
There Ain't No Good Chain Gang by Johnny Cash & Waylon Jennings
Country Girl by June Carter with Homer and Jethro
Jemima Surrender by The Band
Eight Weeks in a Barroom by Marti Brom
The Heart of a Clown by Cornell Hurd
Queen of the Silver Dollar by Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show
I'm Lonesome For You Annabelle by Durwood Haddock

Back on the Corner by John Hiatt
Cold Roses by Ryan Adams
My Rosemarie by Stan Ridgway
The Combines Are Comin' by Joe West
Gone in Pawn (Shake Sugaree) by Po' Girl
Selling the Jelly by Noah Lewis' Jug Band

My Toot Toot by Doug Kershaw & Fats Domino
Jambalaya by Professor Longhair
Me and Dennis McGee by BeauSoleil
Tear-Stained Letter by Jo-El Sonier
Diggy Liggy Lo by John Fogerty
Give Him Corn Bread by Beau Jacques & The Zydeco Hi-Rollers
Half a Boy and Half a Man by Queen Ida
Zydeco Around the World by Rockin' Dopsie

Looks Like Rain by Bob Weir
Please Don't Stop Loving Me by Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton
Who Made You King by Grey DeLisle
Private Thoughts by Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez
When You Leave by Loudon Wainwright III
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

Friday, July 29, 2005


My story in today's New Mexican about state Sen. John Grubesic's latest confrontation with law enforcement can be found HERE.

The actual police report on the incident can be found HERE.

Henry Lopez's first-day story on the incident is HERE.

The Associated Press account of Grubesic's March dealings with police is HERE..


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

They don’t make many songwriters smarter, tougher or more consistent than John Hiatt.

And Hiatt hasn’t made many albums smarter, tougher or more consistent than his latest one, Master of Disaster. Indeed, this ranks up there with Crossing Muddy Waters, his under-rated acoustic album from about five years ago.

As we’ve come to expect from Hiatt, this record is soulful, rootsy, full of tales to astonish and dripping with the singer’s wry humor and hard-earned wisdom.

And on this one, he’s got a great band to boot. Produced by Memphis music guru Jim Dickinson (who plays keyboards here credited as “East Memphis Slim“), Master features Dickinson’s sons Luther on guitar and Cody on drums (they’re the core of the North Mississippi All Stars) plus Muscle Shoals titan David Hood on bass. (Speaking of musical families, he’s the father of Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers.) Some tunes feature a funky horn section.

The title song deals with a guitar picker who lost at love and became a heroin addict.

The verses are in first person (“Eight ball pounding in my lungs …”) though Hiatt steps back to third person for the chorus.

“The Master of Disaster/Gets tangled in his Telecaster/He can't play it any faster/When he plays the blues/When he had the heart to ask her/And every note just shook the plaster/Now he's just a mean old bastard/When he plays the blues.”
There’s no great, disastrous Telecaster solo on this song, just a sweet greasy sax.

Sometimes Hiatt and band rock hard . The ominous “Love’s Not Where We Thought We Left It” almost screams for a Lindsey Buckingham guitar solo.

But they do a good job on the softer acoustic songs too, such as ‘Howlin’ Down the Cumberland” and the automobile ode “Thunderbird” (“From the old Volkswagon/Back to the Model T/A lot of men died so you could ride with me In my Thunderbird”)

“Wintertime Blues” is a cool near jug-band romp with some of the funniest lyrics on the album (“Three hours of daylight and all of them gray/The suicide prevention group has all run away“). Is it just me or does this melody consciously make reference to “In the Summer Time” by Mungo Jerry?

“Back on the Corner” has a similar feel. With Luther’s slide guitar and a subdued Dixieland horn section, this sounds like a long-lost tune by The Band. And the first bridge is hilarious:

“Used to take seven pills just to get up in the morning/From seven different doctors with seven different warnings/I’d call ‘em up to say that I’m coming apart/They’d say call us up later when the fireworks start”
There’s pure country in “Old School” (featuring “T-Bone” Tommy Burroughs on fiddle). And there’s raw soul. It’s not hard to imagine Al Green singing “Find You At Last.”

The emotional centerpiece of this album is the acoustic “Cold River,” a sad tale of a couple of drifters (he’s a pool shark, she’s a truck-stop hooker) who abandon their baby while making their way to Chicago.

Hiatt tells the story matter-of-factly, noting the couple’s justification. (“Tell me which one of us rounders/ would you trust this baby to?”) Though the narrator sings that, “some Texas woman found him,” a listener isn’t sure whether this is true or just wishful thinking. You don’t know what happened to the infant, though the couple makes it to their destination: “That night they slept like babies/in Chicago town.”

In some ways Hiatt reminds me of the masked luchadores pictured on the front and back covers and on the lyrics booklet. When he crawls back in the ring you know it’s going to be a thrill. It may be all show biz, but the bruises are real.

Also noted

*Here Come the Choppers
by Loudon Wainwright III. This album has the most impressive band Wainwright ever assembled for a record -- including Bill Frisel on guitar, Greg Leisz on a variety of strings, Jim Keltner on drums.

It sounds great. But I just wish the songs were as strong as the musicians here -- and as strong as Wainwright is capable of writing.

To be sure, there are some potential Wainwright classics here.

“Hank and Fred” is about the singer learning of the death of Mr. Rogers on the day he visits Hank Williams’ grave in Montgomery, Ala. I still don’t quite get the cosmic connection between the great country singer and the mild-mannered kid-show host, but when Wainwright sings that he cried, it’s real and it somehow makes sense.

There’s “No Sure Way,“ a sad song about riding the subway under the World Trade Center shortly after Sept. 11, 2001. “
The walls were tiled, I hadn’t noticed/ They seemed so antiseptic and clean/But we knew what we were under/The lights were on/that seemed obscene.”
Like any decent Loudon album, there are some good family album tunes. Here there are songs about his grandparents, “Nanny,” an up tempo tune about his beloved outspoken, gin-and-tonic-sipping granny who took him in after he got busted for drugs as a youth. “Half Fist” deals with his grandfather, Loudon Sr., who died before he was born.

And there’s “When You Leave,“ a heartbreaking, guilt-ridden song about divorce and leaving his kids.
“Who would have thought or could believe/Things go so badly when you leave/The skin you saved is growing slack/And those you left don’t want you back.”
But too many songs here are forgettable or downright dumb -- such as the near-7-minute title tune, which about enemy helicopters destroying Los Angeles.

So keep your sidemen’s phone numbers Loudon. And call them back when you’ve written a worthy set of songs.

Thursday, July 28, 2005


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
July 28, 2005

Back in late May when the appointment of Tommy Rodella as a magistrate judge in Rio Arriba already had kicked up a controversy, Gov. Bill Richardson said the public stink over the appointment had prompted him to start “tightening up the vetting process” for potential judges.

“We’re checking references, spending more time in interviews with applicants and asking tougher questions,” Richardson told me following a May 28 news conference.

Last Friday, just before he stalked out of another news conference when the questions about Rodella — who resigned last week after a meeting where Richardson expressed his unhappiness over the handling of a drunken-driving case — Richardson repeated his claim that he now spends more time with magistrate applicants and asks tougher questions of them.

However, at least three of the 21 applicants who were passed over last month for the new Santa Fe magistrate position said this week their interviews with Richardson were short and the questions weren’t that tough.

The applicant who go the job was Sandy Miera for the Santa Fe magistrate position. Miera worked as executive assistant for District Judge Daniel Sanchez. She’s also the daughter of Santa Fe County Democratic Chairwoman Minnie Gallegos.

One of the applicants, Andrew O’Connor said Richardson asked him only one question: “Is there anything in your past that would hurt me politically if I appoint you?” Richardson, O’Connor said, explained that what he meant by that was whether he’d ever been arrested or had any DWIs.

He said he tried to tell Richardson about his work as a public defender and the fact he had graduated from Vanderbilt University, O’Connor said, “but he cut me off.”

Another applicant was P.J. Liebson, a teacher and former librarian who holds a certificate in paralegal studies from the University of New Mexico. (She’s also a published author of murder mysteries under the pen name of P.J. Grady.)

Liebson, who said her interview lasted about five minutes, said Richardson asked her how she would handle DWI and domestic violence cases. But the next question was even deeper.“He asked me about electability,” she said. “I told him I was a registered independent. I think I might have lost the job right there.”

Another applicant said her interview with Richardson lasted only five or 10 minutes and that the governor seemed mainly interested in her view on DWI enforcement.

Tony’s view: A former chief justice of the state Supreme Court, Tony Scarborough sees some irony in the recent Rodella flap.

Scarborough, now in private practice in Espanola, recalled the controversy when Richardson in 2003 demanded the resignations of all six members of the 11-member commission who were appointed by his predecessor.

Those commissioners filed a legal challenge, asking the state Supreme Court to block Richardson, arguing the governor has no power to remove members whose terms had not expired. However, by a 3-2 decision, the high court ruled the governor could oust those members.

Opponents accused Richardson of trying to consolidate power and enlarge the influence of the governor’s office.

But in demanding Rodella’s resignation last week, Richardson usurped the power of the very Judicial Standards Commission he’d stacked, Scarborough said.

“It’s like he handpicked the jury, then took the case away from the jury and decided himself,” the former justice said.“Too bad the commission and our Supreme Court lack the guts to stand up to the governor and remind him of the separation of powers doctrine,” Scarborough said.

Richardson, who defended his appointment of Rodella for months, changed his tune after news broke of Rodella driving from the Espanola area to the county jail in Tierra Amarilla on July 4 to deliver release papers for an acquaintance who’d been arrested on DWI charges.

Rodella told me last week that Richardson didn’t ask him to quit. The governor insists that he did — though his spokesmen have acknowledged a governor doesn’t have the constitutional authority to force a judge to resign.

Scarborough — who stepped down from the high court in 1990 for an unsuccessful race for governor — expressed sympathy for Rodella.“I’m not close to Tommy, but I felt sorry for him,” Scarborough said. “What he did wasn’t all that bad. I think he’s just motivated to help people.”

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Looks like another payola scandal is rocking the nation. Here's one story. But I like this one from the New York Daily News better because its lead gets down to business:
Sick of lousy songs on the radio?
Blame it on a corrupt record business that skews the Top 40 by giving free trips and other goodies to radio programmers - and cold cash to radio stations to play their artists, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer charged yesterday.
I've said it before, but I'll say it again: I miss the good old days of payola, back when working DJs got their fair share of hookers and blow from the record hustlers. These days all the free trips and lavish gifts are for the bosses, not to mention the blatant cash payments made directly to corporate radio coffers. The working DJ is out of the loop.

Seriously, I miss the days when commercial radio DJs were considered worth bribing because they had the power to bring the music they wanted to the public. These days at most commercial stations DJs have become mere button pushers playing whatever the home office says to play.

UPDATE: Slate has an interesting article by Daniel Gross called "What's Wrong With Payola?" CLICK HERE

Monday, July 25, 2005


Sunday, July 24, 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
Dancing Queen by The Yayhoos
The World's a Mess, It's In My Kiss by X
Woman of Mass Destruction by Alice Cooper
Crooked and Wide by Mudhoney
Bad Girl by The Detroit Cobras
The Denial Twist by The White Stripes
Wilderness by Sleater-Kinney
Private Detective by Gene Vincent

Feel Like Lightning by Otis Taylor
Night Watchman Blues by Memphis Minnie
Lonely and Blue by Van Morrison
Boogie Woogie Jockey by Jimmy Sweeney
Love Gravy by Rick James & Ike Turner
Sissy Man by Josh White
Twenty by Robert Cray

Valleri by The Monkees
99 by Barbara Feldon
Spy World by Wall of Voodoo
Secret Agent Man by The Ventures
Agent Double 0 Soul by Edwin Starr
Secret Agent Holiday by Alien Fashion Show
Thunderball by Tom Jones
The Silencers by Vicki Carr
We're All Spies by Busy McCarroll
Valarie by The Mothers of Invention

El U.F.O. Cayo by Ry Cooder
Hijack by Paul Kanter & The Jefferson Starship
Into My Arms by Nick Cave
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Sunday, July 24, 2005


This from Robert Novak's column today's Chicago Sun-Times :

Richardson for president
Prominent New York City liberals who are concerned about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's electability are quietly talking up New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as her alternative for the 2008 presidential nomination.

Richardson especially intrigues Democratic strategists because he is a Hispanic American with a Mexican mother. Richardson would be expected to pin down the burgeoning Latino vote.

The same New York liberals who are interested in Richardson fear George W. Bush could build Republican support among Latinos by appointing a Hispanic American to the next Supreme Court vacancy.


If you think you see Ashton Kutcher hanging around the Roundhouse or Quentin Tarantino in line at the Hunan Restaurant or Keanu Reeves browsing at the south-side Borders, it's probably just me. I just took the Analogia Star Estimator test to see which celebrities I most resemble (hey, it's a lazy Sunday!) and these are the results their crack computers came up with. (I think this link is only good for a couple of days, so hustle!)

UPDATE: What does my dog, Rocco have in common with Hugh Grant, Matthew Broderick and Jackie Chan? CLICK HERE. (Again, this link is only good for a couple of days ...)


Hey look, Rep. Greg Payne, R-Albuquerque, is blogging again after a two-month absence from the blogosphere.


I picked up some new and used CDs in Albuquerque, including some new releases (Ryan Adams' country-rock return Cold Roses, and a new X album called Live in Los Angeles (looks like I'm going to have to pick up the DVD too).

I also bought Mink, Rat or Rabbit by a retro/garage band called The Detroit Cobras; Chef Aid: The South Park Album (gotta have them "Chocolate Salty Balls" plus there's a song here by Rick James and Ike Turner!); Ace (the only Bob Weir solo album I ever liked); The Band's self-titled "Brown Album" (I have most the songs on various compilations, but I've never owned the CD version of this album -- one of the greatest records in history -- before now); a cheap but worthy Memphis Minnie collection; and a strange Gene Vincent album called The Beginning of the End, which is stuff the rockabilly royal recorded in the early '60s. There's some hideously cheesy tracks, such as two takes of a watered-down "Be-Bop-A- Lula" featuring a tacky flute and a new verse that informs us that "Be-Bop-A-Lula, she's a little twister." (Note to younger readers: This refers to a dance craze called "The Twist" that was popular about the time this was recorded. By the way, The Detroit Cobras do a version of the Hank Ballard song, better known by Chubby Checker, "The Twist," which The Cobras call "The Cha Cha Twist") However there's some great obscure Vincent tracks like "Private Detective" (the singer's trying to score with a sexy female gumshoe hired by his jealous wife) and a hard gutsy "Baby Blues." I'm not sure what to make of Vincent's out-there take on "Lavender Blue." All I can say is dilly dilly!

I'll play some Detroit Cobras, X and probably some other stuff from this batch on Terrell's Sound World tonight. Also some new songs from Otis Taylor, Robert Cray, Alice Cooper (!) and others. That's 10 p.m. Mountain Time on KSFR, 90.7 FM in Santa Fe and streaming on the web.


Last night I watched Beyond the Sea, Kevin Spacey's loving ode to Bobby Darin. Spacey not only acted in, directed and co-wrote the movie, he sang all of Darin's songs in it. It got mediocre-to-bad reviews, but I liked it, even the big song-and-dance sequences. My only complaint was he never did "If I Were a Carpenter" -- Darin's big folk-rock hit from the mid '60s.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


Here are links to my most recent stories on this week's resignation of Rio Arriba Magistrate Judge Tommy Rodella:

* Rio Arriba magistrate resigns (published Friday)

* Richardson wants magistrate screening (published today)

And yes, gentle readers, I do know the difference between Tierra Amarilla and Tierra Contenta. The New Mex web staff was kind enough to correct that humilating blunder, though it was too late for Friday's print edition.

Feel free to join the fray in the comments section on the New Mexican site.


Friday, July 21, 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
The Ballad of Thunder Road by Robert Mitchum
Little White Lies by Jason & The Scorchers
Everybody's Doin' It by Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen
Who by Son Volt
Demonic Possession by Drive-By Truckers
Glendale Train by New Riders of the Purple Sage
If You Knew by Neko Case
Behind the Fear by Lum Hatcher

Oklahoma Bound by Joe West
Cold River by John Hiatt
When the People Find Out by Steve Earle
The Golden Inn Song by The Last Mile Ramblers
Western Union Wire by Kinky Friedman
Marie Laveau by Bobby Bare
I'm So Lonesome Without You by Hazeldine

Wanted Man by Michelle Shocked
Used Car Lot by Michelle Shocked
Baby Mine by Michelle Shocked
Little Hotel Room by Ray Charles with Merle Haggard
Proud Mary by George Jones with Johnny Paycheck
The Old Fashioned Preacher by Flatt & Scruggs
My Tennesee Mountain Home by Dolly Parton
To Ramona by The Flying Burrito Brothers
White Trash Wedding by The Dixie Chicks

Keep Your Hat on Jenny by Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez
Beautiful Despair by Rodney Crowell
Nanny by Loudon Wainwright III
Sweet Little Bluebird by Grey DeLisle
Cold Trail Blues by Peter Case
No Good For Me by Waylon Jennings
Rio by Michael Nesmith
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

Friday, July 22, 2005


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

Remember back in the early ‘90s when acts like Bruce Springsteen and Guns ‘N’ Roses created a stir by releasing two albums simultaneously? Bruce had Human Touch and Lucky Town, while Guns had Use Your Illusion (Volumes 1 and 2).

Michelle Shocked has topped them both. Last month, on her own Mighty Sound label, she released three albums: Don't Ask Don't Tell, (a scenes-from-a-crumbling-marriage collection); Mexican Standoff, (half Mexican-flavored tunes, half electric blues); and Got No Strings, (a set of songs from Disney movies done in a western-swing/hillbilly style)

The albums are available separately, or as a set, which is titled Threesome.

If nothing else, you have to admire Shocked (born Michelle Johnston) for her audacity and spunk -- not to mention her ability to believably pull off such a big variety of styles.

But it should be noted that Springsteen’s 1992 double dip resulted in two of his weakest albums and that the Use Your Illusion CDs could have — indeed should have — been boiled down into one strong album.

And the same could be argued for Shock’s recent releases.

Individually none of these three albums come close to Shocked’s previous album, the soul and gospel-soaked Deep Natural. (Hey, come to think of it, she released a “bonus album” with that one too, Dub Natural, which consisted of remixes.)

Still, all three new CDs work as individual albums. All three have their separate strengths and charms as well as drawbacks.

The promotional material compares Don't Ask Don't Tell with such divorce classics as Richard & Linda Thompson’s Shoot Out the Lights, Marvin Gaye’s Here My Dear, and Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks.

She wishes!

Don’t believe this hype. It doesn’t come anywhere near those milestone records.

But it does have its delights.

This is the most musically varied album of Threesome. There’s some New Orleans funk crossed with early Ricki Lee Jones beatnik cool (“Don’t Tell”) a little swamp rock (“Don’t Ask”), some hot and nasty blues (“Used Car Lot”), some cocktail sleaze (“Goodbye”) and even a raw blast of punk rock (“Hi Skool.”)

It starts off with “Early Morning Saturday,” a lilting melody that’s sweet and mellow -- except for some ominous banging percussion that provides a clue that all is not really sweet and mellow in Shockedville.

Lyrically the album gets down to business with the jazzy muted-trumpet tune “Hardly Gonna Miss Him” (“He’s gone, he’s gone/And here’s the reason why/ He don’t like to laugh/I don’t like to cry …)

“Evacuation Route,” a sad melody with a Mexican accordion is the heart-stopper in the whole Threesome collection. It’s about a woman and her children leaving her unhappy home in the middle of the night.

“Wake up, wake up/Your mother said/Go tell your brother/Get up, get out of bed/Get into the car/Just do as I say/She packed a few things/ And then you drove away/This was no vacation/This was an evacuation.”

Mexican Standoff is the least satisfying album of Threesome. Shocked says it’s an exploration of her Hispanic roots. There are Texas Tornado-like Mexican-style tunes with cantina accordion and mariachi horns -- and there’s some basic blues stompers.

In mixing these styles, my first thought was that Shocked was auditioning for Los Lobos. Then I learned that Lobo sax dude Steve Berlin produced the “Mexican” part of this standoff. (You can hear echoes of them Lobos’ Hispano-psychedelico Kiko in the slow, sultry “Match Burns Twice.”)

But the standout on Standoff is “Picoesque,” a high-charged gospel celebration of storefront churches in East L.A.

“Now, riding down Pico Boulevard and for the first time/You notice how many churches,“ Shocked says, “Foursquare Baptist, Catholic Cathedrals/Buddhist Temples, Synagogues, Mosques/Keith Dominion, COGIC, Pentacost/Iglesias de Cristos Iglesias de Dios and the Sweet (swear to God) Aroma of Jesus …”

Finally, Got No Strings is something of a guilty pleasure, but it’s a pleasure nonetheless.

I’m a sucker for those old Disney songs -- not the ones from the most recent movies like Lion King or Pocahontas, but the real oldies like “When You Wish Upon a Star.” I loved that various-artist album Stay Awake from the late ‘80s, and I loved Sun Ra’s Disney tribute Second Star to the Right.

Shocked is no stranger to Disney tunes. Back on her 1991 Arkansas Traveler album she did “Zip a Dee Doo Dah” (from the long censored movie Song of the South) as part of a medley with “Jump Jim Crow.”

But there, singing the tune in a weird falsetto, she seemed to be making an ironic statement. In contrast, on Got No Strings, her love for these songs shines through.

With fiddle, lap steel guitar (Greg Leisz, who also plays slide) and on some cuts a banjo (Tony Furtado), the arrangements are irresistible on songs like “Bare Necessities” (written by the late Terry Gilkyson, a former Santa Fe resident) and “Baby Mine.”

And yes, Shocked’s sweet, sexy version of “When You Wish Upon a Star” gives Jiminy Cricket a run for his money.

Word is that Shocked has plans to release even more themed albums featuring New Orleans brass-band music, techno, and a tribute to blues queen Memphis Minnie.

I can’t say I’m holding my breath for any of these, but I bet they all will contain some great tracks.

Also noted:

*Fantastic Greatest Hits by Charlie Tweddle

I always wondered whether anyone taped any of those helplessly-stoned 3 a.m. living-room guitar jams I, uhhh, heard about back in the '70s. If so, I bet they'd sound something like Charlie Tweddle.

Naw ... Charlie was even weirder. This album, recorded in '71, released in '74 (only 500 LPs pressed) originally under the name Eilrahc Elddewt, has been re-released by Companion Records, the same good folks who brought us The New Creation, that Canadian Partridge-Family-gone-Jesus-freak group whose odd style of gospel rock never has been duplicated.

Fantastic Greatest Hits is lo-fi hippybilly weirdness with primitive “futuristic” sound effects, cricket noise (one track is 25 minutes of this) and found-sound Mexican radio. Not an easy listen the first time out, but strangely addictive thereafter.

Tweddle was born in Kentucky but ended up in northern California where he took lots of acid and had powerful musical ambitions. (Does this story remind you of anyone else named Charlie from that era? Luckily, Charlie T. used his strange powers for good instead of evil.)

Tweddle's still alive but not making music. He's making expensive cowboy hats out of roadkill.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


The other night when I posted about pro wrestlers and TV personalities from my childhood in Oklahoma City, I should have included a couple of amusement parks that were a huge part of my childhood.

There was Wedgewood Village, which was owned and operated by Maurice Woods, who was the father of my friend Bobby Woods. (I heard from Bobby a couple of years ago. He's a lawyer in Los Angeles now.)

Take a look at this photo of the park's grand opening in 1958. I think I was there that day. (I would have been four or five.) Notice the robot looking over the crowd in the top right corner? That's Bazark, a character on the 3-D Danny show.

One of my earliest memories is going to Wedgewood with my mother and grandmother (and I assume my little brother) to see the 3-D Danny show live. The day before on the show the announcer said that if you're at Wedgewood and see 3-D and Foreman Scotty in danger, you should warn them.

At Wedgewood I saw my heroes and a huge robot was sneaking up on them. I ran onto the set screaming and crying, warning them about the robot behind them. I wish there was a videotape of that show. I remember 3-D and Scotty (the late Steve Powell, who later married my brother's kindergarten teacher) being very nice to me, trying to calm me down -- despite the fact I'd ruined their scene.

Then there was Springlake Amusement Park, an older, funkier park on the city's northeast side. Springlake originaly was built in the 1920s.

Both parks hosted concerts that make up some of my earliest musical memories.

At Wedgewood, I saw Herman's Hermits , Johnny Rivers and Gary Lewis & The Playboys. (The Web site says the Yardbirds and the Who also played there. I don't know how I could have missed those.)

At Springlake I saw The Beach Boys, The Righteous Brothers, Sam the Sham & The Pharoahs, and most importantly, The Everly Brothers. My grandfather went to that concert with us and loved the Everlys because they, like he, was from Kentucky. Shortly after my grandfather died in 1967, the Everly Brothers had a modest hit with "Bowling Green," which has the refrain, "A man from Kentucky sure is lucky ..."

Both Wedgewood and Springlake have been gone for years. Ironically, the only amusement park left from my youth is Frontier City, which used to be pretty crappy, though it's now a Six Flags operation.

At least the Oklahoma City Zoo is still up and running.


A version of this was published in The New Mexican
July 21, 2005

Good news for employees of the Children Youth and Families Department: Despite what your public information officer told you, most reporters you meet will not try to use “Jedi mind tricks” on you in an effort to penetrate the Death Star that is state government.

In case you missed that story, CYFD spokesman Matt Dillman — one of many former reporters lured to The Dark Side by Gov. Bill Richardson — sent an e-mail early this month to the department’s 2,000-plus employees warning them of evil tricks by “unscrupulous” reporters.

“Some reporters might use a ‘Jedi Mind Trick’ to confuse an issue as they try to convince you to say something on the record,” Dillman wrote. “They’ll try to pressure you, trick you, back you into a corner ... Your way out is to always refer them back to me— regardless.”

I for one thought it was pretty cool that he compared us to the heroic mystic warriors of the Star Wars series — though in the same e-mail he also compares us to “door-to-door vacuum salesmen who used to throw dirt into a house to gain entry.”

The July 6 memo was sent the day after The New Mexican published a story by reporter Ben Neary about the state Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives. Dillman had sat in on Neary’s interview with program director Anne Apodaca. She talked about traveling at state expense to conference in Virginia at the headquarters of an evangelical organization founded by Watergate felon Chuck Colson.

Nobody accused Neary of mind trickery.

The sad truth is that most reporters I know, while respecting the right to bear light sabers, never made it all the way through our Jedi training.

Some were kicked out of the Jedi Academy for boozing, some over questions of moral turpitude.

But most of us were thrown out for our dismal attitude toward authority.

However, if it was an unscrupulous reporter who subliminally clouded Dillman’s mind and caused him to send out such a message via e-mail — that was a pretty solid Jedi trick.

The way to Iowa: Within a few weeks of his visit to New Hampshire — which traditionally has the first presidential primary of the election season — our traveling governor this week paid a call on Iowa — which traditionally has the first presidential caucus of the election season.

Richardson was in Des Moines for the National Governors Association meeting. Several publications noted that several governors, including ours, who are potentially interested in the Iowa conference were in attendance.

In addition to the conference, Richardson spoke at a fundraiser sponsored by the Iowa Trial Lawyer Association, described by The Des Moines Register as “a Democratic-leaning group.”

My Jedi senses tell me that Richardson will be visiting New Hampshire more than he will Iowa. In fact a story in Tuesday’s Register by reporter Thomas Beaumont quoted Richardson saying that if he does run for president, he won’t campaign heavily in Iowa if Gov. Tom Vilsack runs — as many suspect Vilsack will.

“I haven’t decided to run, but I would be very respectful of the role he has here,” Richardson said of Vilsack. “I’m not going to appear to be poaching on his territory. I don’t want to be seen doing that.”

And respectful of the fact that favorite son Vilsack would stomp him and probably everyone else in the Iowa Caucus.

Richardson’s probably not alone in thinking that way. Beaumont’s story notes that in 1992 Iowa’s Sen. Tom Harkin competed for the Democratic nomination, which resulted in other Democratic candidates skipping the Iowa caucus.

Just Be Kos: The Daily Kos, a popular progressive blog, published the results of its unscientific monthly presidential straw poll on Tuesday — and it didn’t look good for Richardson.

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark leads the pack with 34 percent with “No Freakin’ Clue” in second with 17 percent. Richardson is down in single-digits territory behind Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Russ Feingold, former Sen. John Edwards and Virginia Gov. Mark Warner.

To be fair, this isn’t really Richardson’s audience. He’s a centrist Democratic Leadership Council-type, while the Daily Kos crowd is closer to what Howard Dean used to call “The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.”

About 8,000 Kos readers took part in the poll.

“Remember, there’s nothing scientific about this, and doesn’t measure rank-and-file Dems,” the blog warns. “It measures us, the chosen few who think it’s fun to talk about this sort of thing 3 years out from the election.”

However, the blog adds, “As a guide of this community’s leanings, this poll is probably quite accurate.”

Monday, July 18, 2005


How I long for to muse on the days of my boyhood
Though four score and three years have fled by since then
Still it gives sweet reflections, as every young joy should
That merry-hearted boys make the best of old men
Guess I'm feeling like the Bard of Armagh this morning. Been taking a nostalgic trip through web sites related to some of the pop culture icons of my youth in Oklahoma City.

Here's a page full of some of the great 'rasslers I remember from those Friday nights at Stockyards Coliseum . There's even pictures of wrestlers like Danny Hodge, Sputnik Monroe and "Irish" Mike Clancy, pictured here. (That's one thing I love about wrestling. A guy has a name like "Mike Clancy" but someone feels it's necessary to explain he's Irish!)

Another story about some of the same characters can be found here . Be sure to scroll down to the article called "Mid-South Memories."

And don't forget the great 2001 NPR Morning Edition report on Sputnik -- the Heavenly Body from Outer Space, the Body That Men Fear and Women Love!

I've told the story many times of when I was about nine years old and went to get Sputnik's autograph in his corner before a match. I'd collected a pretty good number of wrestlers' autographs during the preceding weeks. Most kids were only interested in the heroes' signatures, but I wanted the villains'. While kids flocked around the hero, I was the only one at Sputnik's corner. Sputnik looked down from the ring, smiled and took my autograph book. I thought I'd scored. But then he held the book dramatically over his head. The crowd began to stir and a demonic look was in Sputnik's eye.

He ripped my autograph books to shreds as the crowd jeered. I nearly cried, but secretly I respected him for staying in character. That incident probably warped me beyond repair.

I also revisited the site of Danny Williams, a broadcast pioneer in Oklahoma. In the 1960s he not only was a great radio personality on WKY -- the station with which my life was saved by rock 'n' roll! -- he also ruled television. In the '50s he was 3-D Danny, while in the '60s he portrayed Xavier T. Willard on The Foreman Scotty show.

Danny also had an afternoon talk/variety show, Danny's Day. My band, The Ramhorn City Go-Go Squad & Uptight Washtub Band appeared on it in early 1968, though one of my main memories of that day was walking across the set of The Buck Owens Ranch.

It's getting too late for me to do serious searching for Foreman Scotty or Ho Ho the Clown or start waxing nostalgic about the triple-feature monster movies at the Mayflower Theater ... Bedtime for the Bard of Armagh ...


Sunday, July 17, 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
Chupacabra Rock 'n' Roll by The Blood Drained Cows
Shake Some Action by The Flamin' Groovies
I'm Cryin' by The Animals
The Nurse by The White Stripes
Bombs Below by Living Things
Heaven's Dead by Audioslave
Man in the Box by Alice in Chains
Ring Dang Do by Sam the Sham & The Pharoahs

Moth in the Incubator by The Flaming Lips
Holy Ghost by Thinking Fellers Union Local 282
Mysterious Friends by The Grifters
The Fox by Sleater-Kinney
Desperanto by Marianne Faithful
Summertime Blues by The Who

The Lion This Time by Van Morrison
Dirty Old Town by David Byrne
The Coffee Song by Stan Ridgway
Cold in My Bed by Bernadette Seacrest
Long Dong Silver by Denise LaSalle
Next to Me by Clyde McPhatter
What Will I Tell the Children by Juke Boy Bonner

Marvel Group by Mother Earth
Superbird by Country Joe & The Fish
Evacuation Route by Michelle Shocked
Off He Goes by Pearl Jam
King of the New York Streets by Dion
The Cross by Prince
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Saturday, July 16, 2005


Friday, July 15, 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
Red Red Robin by Rosie Flores
Thunderbird by John Hiatt
Tumbling Tumbleweeds by Michael Nesmith
Brain Damage by The Austin Lounge Lizards
Each Night I Try by Robbie Fulks
Colorado Cool-Aid by Johnny Paycheck
A Six Pack to Go by Hank Thompson
My Wildest Dreams Grow Wilder Every Day by The Flatlanders
Yuppie Scum by Emily Kaitz

Must Be the Whiskey by Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez
Things That Go Bump in the Day by Rodney Crowell
Out of Control by Dave Alvin
Don't Tell by Michelle Shocked
Truckdrivin' Son of a Gun by Dave Dudley
Don't You Want Me by Moonshine Willie

Jet Pilot by Son Volt
I Fought the Law by The Waco Brothers
Wild and Blue by The Mekons
Barnyard Beatnik by Big Sandy & The Fly-Rite Boys
Freakin' at the Freaker's Ball by Dr. Hook & His Medicine Show
Iron Flowers by Grey DeLisle
Always Late With Your Kisses by Merle Haggard
You Make Me Feel More Like a Man by Mel Street
Distant Drums by Jim Reeves
Hungry Hash House by Charlie Poole

Mansion on the Hill by Bruce Springsteen
I Just Can't Let You Say Goodbye by Willie Nelson with Emmylou Harris
Hank and Fred by Loudon Wainwright III
Single Women by Dolly Parton
I'll Think of Something by Hank Williams, Jr.
It's Four in the Morning by Faron Young
Lullaby by Trailer Bride
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

Friday, July 15, 2005


The Pasatiempo letters section today got me hot under the collar.

There were all these letters blasting Pasa's opera critic, Craig Smith. One even called Craig "the MOST jaded reporter on your team" for his July 3 review of Turandot.

Hey, what about me? I feel left out! Granted, I do get some angry letters about my political writing (right wingers calling me a loony liberal, left-wingers calling me a Republican), but only rarely do get a stray letter in Pasa disagreeing with one of my CD reviews.

(Oh, o.k, I did get Dave Grusin writing in once to denounce me for contributing to the "dumbing-down of America" or something like that. And there was that package I got in about 15 years ago from an angry Stevie Ray Vaughan fan who sent me a ready-to-use Fleet enema in response to one of my Tune-up columns. )

I get to pick and choose from hundreds of CDs or music DVDs to review and usually I prefer to tell the world about the ones I like instead of kicking some musical dog. On the other hand, Craig, in his role as opera critic, has to review whatever opera is playing here.

I know far more about the Opry than the opera -- and I haven't seen Turandot. So I won't attempt to defend Mr. Smith. I don't know whether his scathing remarks about the direction and the set and other problems were justified or not.

But I will attack some of the letters. There were some real bone-headed statements there.

Some guy from Kansas City complained:

... one may reasonably doubt that Craig Smith has ever been a director of opera or otherwise a an opera singer, a conductor of an orchestra, a performing musician in any orchestra, a choreographer, a lighting expert, a set designer, a composer, a practicing pyschoanalyst or even a stagehand.

Uh oh. I cover politics but have never held or even run for public office.

Then, after calling Craig arrogant and a bunch of other stuff, he turns on the UPPERCASE and notes that unqualified, arrogant Craig wrote all this

Hey pal, I don't know how they do it K.C., but around here just being labeled a "review" is enough to warn most folks that it's the writer's opinion.

The lady who called Craig the most jaded reporter went on to say,
"That he should be allowed to be so-o-o negative on the front page of the paper is scandalous. We are supposed to be promoting Santa Fe, not bringing it down. We want visitors to come and enjoy our city and an awful lot of them come for the Opera."
Oh for the love of Christ!

Here's the deal, lady. We're not a Chamber of Commerce rag and Craig isn't a tourism flack. His duty is not to "promote Santa Fe" but to give his honest opinion about the performance he's reviewing.

A Santa Fe man claimed that Smith's review had ruined the career of stage director and scenic designer Douglas Fitch.
"Craig Smith, for all his knowledge, does not have the right, with a flick of his pen, to kill the professional future of a young person."
Goodness Gussie!

For one thing, yes, he does have that right. And if they do repeal the First Amendment, it probably won't be over opera reviews.

Secondly, if someone's "professional future" is so delicate that one bad review can snuff it out, maybe that person should consider another career.

Maybe opera fans could learn something from us rockers and meditate on the zen-like mystery of this adaptation of a common rock 'n' roll wisdom:

Your favorite opera sucks.


A version of this appeared in The Santa Fe New Mexican
July 15, 2005

Sleater-Kinney has done it again. With their new album The Woods, This roaring, all-girl, Pacific Northwest trio shows how screaming guitar rock can still have brains, soul and relevance.

In many ways it’s too bad that this group seems destined to never rise above "critics’ darling" status. They keep making wonderful records, critics, including me, and enlightened fans drool and heap praise on them -- and the general public ignores them in favor of vastly inferior dribble.

But, as Mr. Sinatra said, "That’s life."

Believe it or not, Sleater-Kinney has been around now for a whole decade. Their self-titled debut was released in 1995, at the tail-end of the Riot Grrrl scare.

S-K quickly transcended the bonds of the basic girl-punk sound. They kept the same basic arrangement -- the two guitar attack of Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein, Tucker’s hopped-up Banshee wail (which I think is the band‘s greatest weapon). And no bass. (Drummer Janet Weiss -- who’s starting to remind me a lot of Mitch Mitchell of the original Jimi Hendrix Experience -- came to the band in the late ‘90s.) But they’ve been growing and evolving through the years without losing their original frantic energy.

The Woods is a logical progression for S-K. In their previous albums their songs rarely if ever hit the four-minute mark. Here, more than half the songs are that long. And one of them -- "Let’s Call it Love" -- is a savage 11-minute frenzy that brings back memories of Steppenwolf‘s "Magic Carpet Ride," The Count Five’s "Psychotic Reaction" and Patti Smith’s "Radio Ethiopia."

Amazingly, The Woods is produced by Dave Fridmann. He’s a member of Mercury Rev and he’s produced albums for that band as well as for The Flaming Lips. In recent years both those bands, thanks largely to Fridmann, have become known for a lush, soundtracky -- some would argue even symphonic -- ambiance. But there’s little if anything on this album to suggest Fridmann’s signature sonic sweetness.

The album starts out with a strange little psycho-sexual Aesop-like fable called "The Fox." The title character notices the birth of a baby duck and bellows (well, at least Tucker bellows) "Land Ho!" This description might sound like a sweet little animal tale (indeed the innocent little duck escapes the wiley fox), but with the blast of feedback that opens the song, the harsh chords and Weiss’ machine-gun drums, nobody will mistake this for a Raffi song.

Love relationships seems to be the main focus of this album.

"What‘s Mine is Yours" starts out bouncy and sexy, with Tucker inviting a lover to "rest your head on this heart of mine." The music builds up to an explosive climax as Tucker wails in a combination of dread and ecstasy. Then, right in the middle of the song there’s a guitar feedback freakout that melds into a grating electric bluesy stomp.

"Wilderness" is about a couple that "Said `I do in the month of May/ Said ’I don’t’ the very next day."

But by the end of the song, the relationship between "Kenny and Linda" seems to be a metaphor for a politically divided country: "A family fued/ The Red and the Blue now/ It’s Truth against Truth/ I’ll see you in hell, I don’t mind." This is a reversal of the song "Faraway" on their last album One Beat, which started out as a harrowing account of watching September 11 unfold on television, but then turns those events into a metaphor of the personal: "Why can’t I get along with you?"

Then on "Night Light," which closes the album, the lyrics -- and the foreboding roar of the music, speak of a nightmarish real world, in which your only source of strength is in your loved ones. "How do you do it /This bitter and bloody world/Keep it together and shine for your family …"

The song that stands out for its strangeness here is "Modern Girl." With relatively soft guitars and a sweet harmonica, the initial lyrics sung by Brownstein, remind me of some long-lost sitcom theme, somewhere between The Partridge Family and The Facts of Life: "My baby loves me/I’m so happy/Happiness makes me a modern girl … My whole life/was like a picture/ on a sunny day …"

Of course there’s a sinister undercurrent here. By the last verse, the drums come in and it’s "anger" that makes her a modern girl . Her money won’t buy nothing’ and she’s sick of the "Brave New World."

Besides these fine new songs, one thing I like about The Woods is that includes a DVD of the band performing live. Alas, it’s only four songs, but watching Sleater-Kinney in action makes you appreciate them even more.

Also Recommended:
*Before the Poison
by Marianne Faithful. It’s not hard to imagine Marianne Faithful as Sleater-Kinney’s mom. Faithful doesn’t really sound like S-K -- certainly her weathered heroin-and-cigarette-damaged voiced couldn’t handle a fraction of Tucker’s crazy wails, though I bet Sleater could do a powerful version of Faithfull’s insane tirade of sexual betrayal "Why d’ya Do It?"

On her latest album, released early this year, Faithful teams up with a couple of other rockers who could pass as her spiritual children -- P.J. Harvey and Nick Cave. Echoes of Faithful’s 1979 "comeback" album Broken English can certainly be heard in the works of Harvey and Cave.

Harvey wrote or co-wrote five of the 10 songs here, while Cave co-wrote three songs with Faithful, including the glorious screechy rocker "Desperanto."

While Faithful’s more morose songs — like "Crazy Love" and Harvey’s "In the Factory" — can be addictive, so to speak, I wish more of Before the Poison rocked like "Deperanto" and Harvey’s "My Friends Have."

Thursday, July 14, 2005


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
July 14, 2005

Gov. Bill Richardson hit an ugly patch of negative publicity about a month ago. But according to a recent statewide poll by a national firm, if Richardson’s renown ego has taken some lumps with the spate of bad headlines dealing with fancy jets, speeding SUVs (also CLICK HERE) and Wen Ho Lee, it has barely affected his popularity here.

The latest New Mexico tracking poll by the New Jersey-based Survey U.S.A. found 53 percent of New Mexicans polled approved of the job Richardson is doing, while 41 percent disapproved.

This compares with 54 percent approving and 39 percent disapproving in a Survey U.S.A. poll in early May. That’s a net loss of 3 percentage points in the last two months.

And it’s been a pretty bumpy two months for the governor.

First there was the jet story — how Richardson’s administration had bought a $5.5 million airplane, a far superior ride than any of our neighboring governors have access to. State Republicans seized on the opportunity to portray Richardson in radio ads as a high-rolling jet-setter .

Then there was the speeding story — how Richardson, already notorious for commanding his state police drivers to drive at breakneck speeds, refused to stop for an Albuquerque police officer.

And more recently, there was the return of an old headache for Richardson — Wen Ho Lee, the fired Los Alamos scientist who initially was suspected of espionage but was convicted on only one count of mishandling classified information. A federal appeals court judge presiding over Lee’s violation-of-privacy lawsuit listed Richardson , who was energy secretary during the Lee debacle, as a likely leaker of information about Lee months before the scientist was charged.

Sanderoff the Sage: Richardson spokesman Billy Sparks noted Tuesday that the 3 points the governor dropped is within the poll’s 4.1 percent margin of error.

But New Mexico pollster Brian Sanderoff of Research & Polling Inc. was right on the money last month when I interviewed him about Survey U.S.A.’s May poll.

Sanderoff noted the previous poll was taken before the jet and speeding controversies broke. “The jet story was really the first (Richardson controversy ) that has gotten to the point of water-cooler talk,” Sanderoff said in June. “Something like that probably would affect his rating by 3 points or so.”

Poll numbers: Survey U.S.A.’s New Mexico poll was conducted between Friday and Sunday. Six hundred New Mexico residents were randomly called to participate in an automated phone poll. Similar polls were conducted in all 50 states.

The poll breaks down the respondents in terms of gender , ethnicity, party affiliation and other categories.

Hispanics approved of Richardson’s performance by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. However , 50 percent of Anglos disapproved of Richardson’s performance, while only 45 percent approved.

The poll also revealed something of a gender gap.

Women tended to support the governor more than men. Seventeen percent more women approved of Richardson’s performance than disapproved (55-38 percent). The difference for men is 7 percent (52-45 percent).

Not surprisingly, Democrat Richardson scores highest with members of his own party (75 percent approving to 19 percent disapproving) and lowest with Republicans (34 percent approving, 61 percent disapproving).

As far as educational level goes, most of those who had been to graduate school were Richardson admirers. Sixtyfive percent of respondents in that category approved of his performance while only 29 percent disapproved. He also was popular with those who had no college experience — 52 percent to 41 percent. Those who graduated from college and those with some college experience were fairly evenly split on Richardson.

The Church of Richardson: The poll results also broke down Richardson’s numbers in terms of the respondents’ church attendance.

Regular churchgoers approved of Richardson by a shaky 48-46 percent margin. The support goes up to 57 percent among those who “sometimes” go to church (with 39 percent disapproving) and 56 percent for those who say they never go to church (38 percent disapproving.)

In an issue with some religious overtones, Richardson won approval from a big majority of those who described their view on abortion as “pro-choice” (63-33 percent). Fifty-three percent of “pro-life” voters disapproved of Richardson, while 41 percent of pro-lifers in New Mexico polled approved of his performance.

Richardson supports women’s right to have abortions. However, he has said he would sign a bill requiring doctors to notify parents of minor girls seeking abortions. This could have lost Richardson some pro-choice support, though it could have gained some support from pro-lifers.

Forty percent of those polled said they were pro-life, while 54 percent said they were pro-choice.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


The fabulous Flaming Lips are offering some free downloads to promote their film The Fearless Freaks, a documentary I heartily recommended a couple of weeks ago.

You can find those downloads HERE.

These are live tracks culled from Lips performances between 1986 and 1996, compiled for a promo CD given away at early showings of the movie. In his spoken introduction track, Coyne encourages fans to copy the disc, put it on the internet and "please, please, do not pay hard-earned money for it."

The songs are, "With You," "Can't Stop the Sping," "Shine On Sweet Jesus,"Space Age Love Song," "Moth in the Incubator," "When You Smile," and "Sleeping on the Roof."

I can't honestly say how good these are yet. My computer's slowly downloading them now. All I've heard so far is "Wayne's Introduction." If the tunes are decent -- and as a Lips fan, I've got to assume they are -- I'll play a track or two on this Sunday's Terrell's Sound World.

Monday, July 11, 2005


Sunday, July 10, 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
Black Tongue by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Journey to the Center of Mind by The Ramones
Is it My Body? by Alice Cooper
Blue Orchid by The White Stripes
Entertain by Sleater-Kinney
Sheela Na-Gig by P.J. Harvey
The Mystery of Love by Marianne Faithful
It's So Hard by John Lennon
Anna by Aurthur Alexander

Rock Show by Iggy Pop
Are We the Waiting by Green Day
Jubilee by Patti Smith
My Friend Goo by Sonic Youth
I Want to See You Belly Dance by The Red Elvises
The Slim by Sugar
Santana, Castanada & You by Giant Sand
Bridget the Midget by Ray Stevens

House Rockin' Boogey by Howlin' Wolf
Death Letter Blues by Son House
Built For Comfort by Howlin' Wolf
Preachin' Blues by Son House
Spoonful by The Super Super Blues Band
John the Revelator by Son House
Coon on the Moon by Howlin' Wolf

Just Like Greta by Van Morrison
No Time to Think by Bob Dylan
Have You Seen the Stars Tonight by Paul Kanter & The Jefferson Starship
Forever Changed by Bobby Purify
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Saturday, July 09, 2005


Friday, July 8, 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
Bandages and Scars by Son Volt
Lincoln Town car by The Waco Brothers
Virgin of the Cobra by Kev Russell
Lonesome Valley by Jon Dee Graham
Whiskey in a Jar by Hazeldine
Rated X by Neko Case
Rainbow Stew by Jason Ringenberg
Dumb Blonde by Dolly Parton
Track 2 by Charlie Tweddle

A Cigarette, A Bottle and a Jukebox by Big Al Downing
Just Between You and Me by Charlie Pride
Blame the Vain by Dwight Yoakam
Hey Bartender by Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks
I Just Lost My Mind by Rex Hobart & The Misery Boys
Wayside/Back in Time by Gillian Welch
Drunkards Go to Hell by Foddershock
Misty by Ray Stevens

I'm Working on a Building by Bill Monroe & The Bluegrass Boys
I'm Working on a Road by Flatt & Scruggs
Propiniquity by Earl Scruggs with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Dark Hollow by David Bromberg
Are You Washed in the Blood by Red Allen
I'm Not a Communist by Grandpa Jones
Grapevine by Tom Russell
A Summer Love Song by Dr. West's Medicine Show & Junk Band
Cover of the Rolling Stone by Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show

Don't Get me Started by Rodney Crowell
Baghdad by Ed Pettersen
Out of Line by Michael Martin Murphey
Belshazzer by Johnny Cash
The Bloody Bucket by Grey DeLisle
A Whorehouse is Any House by Bonny Prince Billy
It Sure Was Good by George Jones & Tammy Wynette
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

Friday, July 08, 2005


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
July 8, 2005

It’s a sad confrontation, a clash of the titans that nobody wanted to see.

The scene is backstage at the Newport Folk Festival in 1966. Ethnomusicologist and folk music heavyweight Alan Lomax, who brought several old Mississippi blues greats from the ‘20s and ‘30s to the show, had set up what he called a “juke joint” backstage where he filmed informal performances.

Son House, one of the most venerated of all the early bluesmen was there. He’s drunk and belligerent and he‘s made the mistake of interrupting the performance of Howlin‘ Wolf, the Mississippi-born Chicago bluesman, who was more of a demiurge than an entertainer.

At first Wolf tries to joke with House, who had been one of his mentors back in the Delta. “Now here’s a man with the blues,” Wolf growls.

But when House doesn’t stop, the Wolf pounces. “You had a chance with your life, but you ain’t done nothing’ with it,” he says. “You don’t love but one thing, and that’s some whiskey.”

This was captured on film and is, in fact the most intense moment in Don McGlynn’s 2003 documentary The Howlin' Wolf Story: The Secret History of Rock 'n' Roll, which is showing Saturday and Wednesday at Santa Fe Film Center.

There’s lots to like about this film. One of my favorite parts is the home movie footage from Wolf drummer Sam Lay’s camera of 1960s gigs at long-gone Chicago joints like Sylvio’s -- where you can spot Chicago blues royalty like Sonny Boy Williamson and Little Walter in the audience.

But the scene that keeps haunting me is the one with Son House. It’s hard to watch and embarrassing to everyone involved, including present-day viewers. The hard fact is Wolf is right.

House, who was eight years older than Wolf, had lived an archetypal blues life. He’d been a traveling troubadour, a preacher and a hobo. In his early years he’d killed a guy and served time in the infamous Parchman prison. He had a brief recording career in the ‘30s, then disappeared until 1941 when Lomax tracked him down, then disappeared again until the early ‘60s when folkie revivalists “rediscovered” him. House had spent most of those missing years working as a Pullman porter in Rochester, N.Y.

Wolf, born Chester Burnett, on the other hand, never turned his back on his music. Learning guitar from none other than Delta blues founding father Charlie Patton himself, Wolf went to West Memphis, Ark., where he hooked up with Sun Records’ Sam Phillips, then to Chicago, where, along with his friend and rival Muddy Waters, he pioneered electric blues.

His music and his wild stage persona personified the rough and raucous spirit of the blues, but, as becomes apparent in McGlynn’s film, he was a hard-working, big-hearted conscientious man — which counters the blues stereotype.

He paid unemployment insurance for his band, even back in the ‘50s. He was a family man. His grown daughters recall how he bought them back fancy clothes when he toured Europe with the American Folk Blues Festival. He was intent on self improvement, taking classes to learn to read and write when he was in his ‘50s and even taking music lessons to improve his guitar playing.

Like most the bluesmen we know and love from that era, Wolf was born under the bad signs of extreme poverty and racial oppression. His own mother, a religious fanatic, threw him out of the house as a child of 13. (In the film his longtime guitarist Hubert Sumlin tells how Wolf, while touring Mississippi, came across his mother. He tried to give her some money, but she threw it on the ground and stomp on it. She didn’t want any money that came from the Devil’s music.)

So when Wolf tells Son House, “You had a chance with your life, but you ain’t done nothing’ with it,” it’s coming from the realization that he could have ended up like House -- drunk, broke and living on past glories -- had he not worked so hard.

The Howlin' Wolf Story will show at The Santa Fe Film Center at Cinemacafe, 1616 St. Michael's Drive 4 p.m. Saturday and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets are Tickets $8; $7 for students and seniors; $6 for film festival members.

Also Recommended:

* Blues With a Message
by Various Artists. In the minds of too many modern fans, blues is nothing but party music, celebrating drinking, fighting, gambling and -- especially -- skirt-chasing.

But besides other mules kicking in his stall, sometimes the wolf knocks at a bluesman’s doors. In other words, besides the songs about drinking and fornicating, there’s also a tradition of socially conscious blues tunes.

Blues with a Message is a collection of 18 songs that deal with issues of poverty, racism, war, prison and even one medical epidemic (“The 1919 Influenza Blues” by pianist/singer Essie Jenkins.)

The artists represented here are mainly older acoustic players, such as former Mississippi Sheik Sam Chatman, who sings about racial stereotypes in “I Have to Paint My Face” and former inmate Robert Pete Williams, who tells a long sad tale called “Prisoner’s Talking Blues”

There’s also some electric blues, such as Juke Boy Bonner’s “What Will I Tell the Children,” (“Listened, looked around all day for a job/and I looked almost every place/It’s hard to come home and find hunger on your children’s face.”) and “Little Soldier Boy” a Korean War-era song by a Detroit singer named Doctor Ross.

One of the most uplifting songs here is “Why I Like Roosevelt” by sacred steel icon Willie Eason. He praises FDR (“Racial prejudice he tried to rule out/Invited Negro leaders to the White House …) while recalling the dark days of his predecessor (“After Hoover had made the poor man moan Roosevelt stepped in, they was a comfortable home.”)

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown has a good piece about reporters and anonymous sources relevant to the Judith Miller case -- and, by extension, the Wen Ho Four (see my column immediately below.)

Like Brown, I have off-the-record/don't-use-my-name conversations practically every day, though I've never been jailed for protecting a source. The closest I came was a couple of years ago at a trial that resulted from a lengthy murder investigation I'd covered for about 10 years.

This was "The Rosebush Case," in which a human skeleton had been unearthed from the back yard of an east-side Santa Fe home when the homeowner was transplanting a rosebush. DNA eventually linked the remains to a former owner of the house.

For more than a year before the trial, I had been in e-mail contact with a former employee of the suspect's. I never wrote anything based on those e-mails. At that point the suspect, an Oklahoma man, hadn't even been charged. My correspondence was all just for background.

Eventually the former employee went to the police with her story. In the interviews, she mentioned her e-mails to me. When her former boss went to trial, the defense attorney claimed that I had tried to "program" the witness (I can barely program a VCR!) to believe her former boss was guilty of the murder.

The defense attorney wanted copies of all our e-mail. I refused to give it to him. I got subpoenaed as a witness and thus not allowed into the courtroom for a day or so, before The New Mexican's lawyer got it quashed.

There was a hearing before Judge Michael Vigil on whether I should be forced to give up my e-mails to the defense. Driving to the courthouse that morning, I didn't know whether I'd be spending the night -- or the next several nights -- in the Wen Ho Lee suite of the Santa Fe County Detention Center. I called my ex-wife's voice mail and left a message saying I might not be able pick up our son that weekend.

This of course wasn't the matter of giving up a source's identity. She had already identified herself and in fact had handed over copies of some of our e-mail. Still, I had promised to keep our correspondence confidential and I intended to keep that promise. Our lawyer came up with a compromise, to let Judge Vigil read the e-mails "in camera" and decided whether they should be admitted as evidence.

Vigil agreed and ruled later that day the e-mails were protected under New Mexico's shield law and wouldn't be allowed into the trial.

I got to see my son that weekend. And even without my e-mails, the defense attorney was able to get his client a not-guilty verdict.

Here's an Associated Press account my little ordeal. And here's something extremely weird about the Rosebush case.


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
July 7, 2005

Many believe that Gov. Bill Richardson is praying that the reporters involved in the Wen Ho Lee privacy lawsuit remain as steadfast as The New York Times’ Judith Miller, who was sentenced to jail Wednesday for refusing to divulge the name of a source to a grand jury investigating the outing of an undercover CIA operative.

But some political experts interviewed Wednesday say that even if it’s revealed that Richardson leaked the name of the former Los Alamos scientist to reporters months before Lee was charged with any crime, the ultimate effect on Richardson’s political career would be minimal.

Richardson, as secretary of energy under President Clinton, fired Lee, a computer scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, who was under investigation of espionage. He has long suspected of leaking Lee’s name.

Richardson flatly has denied being the leaker. In a deposition for Lee’s lawsuit the governor said he didn’t remember making some statements about the Lee firing attributed to him in various newspapers.

Lee filed a lawsuit shortly after his 1999 indictment claiming officials from the Energy and Justice departments violated the privacy act of 1974 by leaking his name and other information about him to reporters.

That case came roaring back in the news last week when a federal appeals court upheld contempt citations against four reporters who refused to testify concerning confidential sources who gave then information about Lee. The court dropped a contempt charge against a fifth reporter.

That decision came one day after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of Miller and Time reporter Matt Cooper, who are charged with contempt in the Valerie Plame case. Plame’s name as a CIA agent was leaked by unnamed White House sources after her husband, diplomat Joseph Wilson disputed Bush administration claims that Iraq tried to buy uranium in Africa.

What the judge said:
In the Wen Ho Lee decision, Appeals Judge David Sentelle singled out the names of Richardson, Acting Director of DOE Intelligence and Counterintelligence Notra Trulock and Edward Curran, former director of the DOE Office of Counterintelligence.

“These three individuals in particular had been identified as likely sources of the leaks, but were unable (or unwilling) to identify the leaker(s).”

The judge noted that one of the defendants, James Risen of The New York Times, “refused to testify as to whether Secretary Richardson disclosed Lee’s identity or information about his interrogation or prosecution to Risen.” Risen also refused to testify “whether Notra Trulock was correct in his testimony before Congress when he said that Secretary Richardson had leaked Lee’s name to Risen.” Trulock made this statement at an October 2000 hearing.

The judge also noted that another defendant Bob Drogin of the Los Angeles Times had refused to answer questions about alleged interviews with Richardson about Lee that involved off-the-record statements.

A Richardson spokesman said Wednesday that the governor doesn’t comment on pending lawsuits. But Billy Sparks said Richardson believes the decision will have a “chilling effect” on journalists’ right to protect confidential sources.

Who remembers?: Let’s assume a worst-case scenario: One of the Wen Ho Four, perhaps shaken by the image of Judith Miller being taken away in handcuffs, breaks down and sings like a bird, naming Richardson as his Deep Throat.

What would that do to the political career of the governor, who is seeking re-election next year and is considering a run for the presidency in 2008?

“People who wish to discredit him will hunt for possible blemishes on his record,” said UNM political science professor F. Chris Garcia.

He said such a revelation would have to be considered negative. “But I think there would be tremendous damage control measures,” Garcia said. “The governor and his staff are pretty good at that.”

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, said, “The bad news (for Richardson) is that it would be an unpleasant episode for him. Some of his former colleagues, like Bill Clinton, might be unhappy with him.

“The good news is that besides you and me there’s probably only 140 in this country who remember Wen Ho Lee. Someone like Bill Richardson has overcome a lot of obstacles. He could overcome this.”

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Here's a cool site (thanks, Garry!) with strange and delighful album covers -- a self-described "orphanage for thrift store music"

You can even find some MP3s, like this one.

These guys are the brain trust behind Companion Records, home to such delights as Charlie Tweddle and The New Creation.

UPDATE: Fooling around on this site just now I stumbled across an album by a real live Santa Fe Band, Henry Ortiz & The J-Js.

I knew Henry Ortiz. He had a Hispanic music radio show on KTRC back in the early '70s when I got my first radio gig. He used to hire me to sub for his show, even though I don't speak Spanish.

Henry also used to own a cool little record store downtown called Kiva Records. It specialized in Spanish language music.

Back in the '80s. my pal Steve Sandoval made me a great compilation tape of New Mexico music that had several cuts by The J-Js.

Monday, July 04, 2005


Sunday, July 3, 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
An American is a Very Lucky Man by Fred Waring & His Pennsylvanians 4th of July by X
American Idiot by Green Day
Rockin' in the Free World by Neil Young
4th of July by Soundgarden
4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) by Bruce Springsteen
America by Lou Reed

Batman Theme by The Ventures
As Ugly As I Seem by The White Stripes
Starry Eyes by Roky Erickson
To Love Somebody by Billy Corgan
Heart of Stone by The Mekons
It Kills by Stephen Malkmus
What's Mine is Yours by Sleater-Kinney

My Own Planet
Talkin' 'bout the Smiling Deathporn Immortality Blues
Oh My Pregnant Head
Strychnine/Peace, Love and Understanding
A Spoonful Weighs a Ton
Do You Realize?
Evil Will Prevail
Bad Days

Until I Die by Brian Wilson
The Last Hotel by Patti Smith with Thurston Moore & Lenny Kaye
Democracy by Leonard Cohen
American Tune by Paul Simon
America the Beautiful by Ray Charles
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Saturday, July 02, 2005


Here's two political stories I wrote for today's paper that didn't make it to The New Mexican's Web site:

A version of these were published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
July 2, 2005

With a new Supreme Court vacancy two ideological sides are preparing in New Mexico for a possible political battle — and the focus is on one man who could make a difference — U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman.

The U.S. Senate must confirm whoever President Bush nominates. Bingaman, a Democrat has been known to vote against some Supreme Court nominees of Republican presidents.

One of the likely areas of contention is the issue of abortion.

NARAL Pro-Choice New Mexico, an abortion rights group, is organizing a rally in Albuquerque Tuesday to gather petition signatures, which they plan to deliver to Bingaman’s office. The rally is scheduled for noon Tuesday at Fourth and Central.

NARAL will be on the Plaza Monday during the annual pancake breakfast to distribute petitions urging Bingaman “to protect the balance of the United States Supreme Court,” NARAL director Giovanna Rossi said Friday.

Rossi said most people assume that the state’s other senator, Pete Domenici, a Republican, will support whoever Bush nominates. “Bingaman is a swing vote,” she said. “He’s a national target.”

Meanwhile, a newly-formed Republican consultant business called Gordian Strategies is representing a national organization called Progress for America, which has vowed to spend $18 million nationwide to promote whoever Bush nominates to the Supreme Court.

Robin Dozier Otten, a former cabinet secretary in the administration of Gov. Gary Johnson, talked to reporters in the state reporters about the campaign earlier this week — several before Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced her retirement.

“My job is not to convince Jeff to vote for the president's nominee,” Otten said Friday. “It is to convince Jeff's constituency to convince him to vote for the nominee.”

Bingaman’s spokeswoman Jude McCartin said Friday said the senator hopes Bush will nominate a qualified candidate acceptable to both sides. “We’re hoping this will be done as it should be,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be a divisive time.

She said that Bingaman recently signed a letter from Senate Democrats urging Bush to consult with senators from both parties before making a nomination. The Democrats haven’t heard back from the President McCartin said.

Bingaman released a statement Friday saying, “ “It is my hope that the White House works with the Senate to find a nominee of the same caliber as Sandra Day O’Connor.”

Both Rossi and a Republican law professor at the University of New Mexico said Friday they hope a nomination fight can be avoided.

”We really want to stress that we hope there’s a consensus,” Rossi said. “He could do this by putting names out who have mainstream records. If he does chose the course of an extreme nominee, we’re ready to put up a battle. But we would rather have consensus.”

Lisa Torraco, a former Santa Fe prosecutor who teaches law at UNM. “What should happen is that (senators) defer to the system and recognize that the president was elected by a majority and he has the right to make a nomination. The Senate should have an up-or-down vote. Don’t reduce the judiciary to a political smear campaign. Protect the integrity of the jurists and the integrity of the Supreme Court.”

(Here's the other story ...)

City Council David Pfeffer, a Democrat-turned-Republican who is considering running for U.S. Senate, said Friday he’s still in the “exploratory” mode of his possible candidacy,” meaning, among other things, he’s looking at fundraising possibilities.

But — as is the case for virtually anyone who challenges a incumbent member of Congress — he’s got a lot of exploring to do before he catches up with the man he hopes to run against.

More than a year before the general election, Sen. Jeff Bingaman in his latest campaign finance reports shows he has more than $1 million cash on hand. Democrat Bingaman, who first was elected in 1982, announced earlier this year he will run for re-election in 2006.

“There is no way we’ll beat Bingaman on the dollar,” Pfeffer said Friday. But he said he thinks he can beat Bingaman with “a smart campaign.”

“It’ll be a strong grassroots campaign,” he said. “I’ll make it obvious for everyone to see the differences between Sen. Bingaman and me on what is role of America in the world, what are the dangers confronting America, our views on protecting the border, Supreme nominations, Social Security, and what the character of America is and what it ought to be.”

A spokeswoman for Bingaman said Friday, “Sen. Bingaman works hard for New Mexicans and hopes they will continue to support him next year.”

While Pfeffer hasn’t officially announced his political intentions, he talks increasingly like someone running for Senate. Asked if he’d ruled out running for re-election on the council, he said, “My focus now is on the Senate.”

Many local political observers say Pfeffer would have hard time winning re-election for council in a city where Democrats enjoy a 3-to-1 registration edge over the GOP.

Pfeffer would be the second Republican who once was a Democrat to announce for next year’s Senate race. Former state Sen. Tom Benavides of Albuquerque threw his hat in the ring earlier this year. Benavides is something of a perennial candidate, running unsuccessfully last year for his old Senate seat and for state auditor in 2002. In 1990 he was the Democratic candidate who ran against Republican U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici.

Pfeffer, an architect and Vietnam veteran, was elected to his north-side District 1 council seat in 2002, defeating incumbent Jimmie Martinez. Pfeffer was known mainly as an advocate for recreation facilities before he got elected.

Once elected he frequently found himself in clashes with other councilors when the governing body discussed resolutions about national issues such as The U.S. Patriot Act and the Iraq War.

About a year ago he announced he was supporting President Bush for re-election against Democrat John Kerry. Early this year he announced his party switch.


Friday, July 1, 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
Red Necks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer by Johnny Russell
Fourth of July by Dave Alvin
Song of the Patriot by Johnny Cash
American Trash by Betty Dylan
Indoor Fireworks by Elvis Costello
One Time, One Night by Los Lobos
Only in America by Bobby Purify

Endless War by Son Volt
Waist Deep in The Big Muddy by Pete Seeger
That's the News by Merle Haggard
Chosen One by The Waco Brothers
Give a Little Whistle by Michelle Shocked
The Obscenity Parayer (Give It To Me) by Rodney Crowell
Dying Breed by Lonesome Bob with Allison Moorer
Bargain Store by Dolly Parton
The Story of Susie by Billy Ray

Theme from A Fistful of Dollars by Hugo Montenegro
High Noon by Tex Ritter
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance by Gene Pitney
The Ballad of the Alamo by Marty Robbins
The Ballad of Davy Crockett by Doug Sahm
Rawhide by Frankie Laine
The Ballad of Cat Ballou by Nat King Cole & Stubby Kaye
Paladin by Johnny Western
Legend of Wyatt Earp by Hugh O'Brian
Wanderin' Star by Shane MacGowan with Charlie MacClennan

God's Country by Loudon Wainwright III
Here We Are by George Jones with Emmylou Harris
I Heard The Bluebirds Sing by Kris Kristofferson & Rita Coolidge
Who Made You King by Grey DeLisle
Independence Day by Say ZuZu
The Wayward Wind by Jackie "Teak" Lazar
I'll See You In My Dreams by Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

Friday, July 01, 2005


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
July 1, 2005

When I moved from Oklahoma City to Santa Fe 37 years ago, it didn’t take me long to see the huge psychological difference between the two cities. While both places can be considered laid-back compared to big cities, people in Santa Fe seemed far more free to express themselves, far less pressured to conform, much less inhibited about being weird.

Oklahoma, according to filmmaker Bradley Beesley, is known for “oil derricks, college football, and country music — hardly a mecca of freaky art rock.”

But in many ways — especially for freaky Okies and freaky Okie exiles — that’s a big part of the charm of the Flaming Lips, the freakiest, artsiest Okie rock band ever.

Beesley, a longtime Lips crony, chronicles the Lips — their history, their families, their music — in his documentary The Fearless Freaks, showing for two weeks at CCA Cinematheque, 1050 Old Pecos Trail, starting tonight, July 1 (tickets are $8).

The Flaming Lips rose from the working-class Classen-Ten-Penn neighborhood of Oklahoma City, starting out in the early ’80s as, in the words of Lips leader Wayne Coyne, “a no-talent, derivative, hillbillies-gone-punk version of the Who.” Beesley remembers seeing them in Norman, Okla., around 1986, though all he remembers about their music from that show is that “it was insanely loud.”

The Fearless Freaks — the title comes from the name of a backyard football league organized by Coyne and his four brothers — is bound together by psychedelic montages of Lips performances from home movies of their loud-young-punk phase, their MTV videos, and recent big-time extravaganzas with dancers in bunny suits, puppets, strippers, bubbles, balloons, and a goateed, graying Coyne acting as a smiling emcee in a white suit.

The band’s journey from Okie punksters to serious, Grammy-winning musicians, whose latest albums sound like otherworldly soundtracks, is pretty fascinating in itself. But the strongest parts of the film are when Beesley introduces us to the families of Coyne and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd.

The love Coyne and Drozd have for their respective families is obvious. No sad tales of rage or abuse — unless you count those Fearless Freaks football games, which Coyne describes as “more of a violent cult” than a football team.

And Coyne at least seems like a happy fellow. He still lives in Classen-Ten-Penn, where he enjoys scaring the local kids on Halloween, walking around the neighborhood, and yakking with folks on the street. He even talks fondly of his days of working as a fry cook at a Long John Silver’s.

But it’s not all bunny suits and Martian Santa Clauses in the Lips Universe. There are dark shadows that Beesley reveals in his film.

Coyne’s oldest brother Tommy, who has gone from a “tortured artist” to “just plain tortured,” according to Wayne, has been a druggo for years and has had scrapes with the law. You’re not sure whether Wayne is joking when he asks Tommy whether he’s actually a fugitive at the moment.

“Wayne went to Hollywood to do concerts, I went to jail,” Tommy Coyne says.

Houston native Drozd also has a jailbird brother. James Drozd served an 11-year sentence for grand theft auto, beginning about the time Steven joined the Lips. But harsher still is that the Drozd brothers’ mother and two of their siblings committed suicide. The Drozds seem like the embodiment of the Allison Moorer song “Dying Breed” (“I take after my family/My fate’s the blood in me/No one grows old in this household/We are a dying breed”).

Those family demons catch up with Steven Drozd by the mid-’90s; his heroin addiction is a big reason why guitarist Ronald Jones quit the band. There’s a disturbing interview scene with Steven, shot in noirish black and white, when he was in the depths of his addiction.

But the horror of that scene is offset by one of the most touching moments in the film, when Steven and fresh-from-the-joint James play a song (written by James) with their father, Vernon Drozd, a saxophone-playing veteran of Texas polka bands.

What makes this band so special is the ability of its members to embrace their pasts and recognize the darkness (without wallowing in it) while creating strange, beautiful, and transcendental art packed with whimsy and raw, real emotion. The Fearless Freaks captures the earthiness that grounds these freaky art-rock musicians.

Steve Terrell’s Lips list

*Favorite Flaming Lips song: “Bad Days” from Clouds Taste Metallic (1995) — my second favorite Lips album. In a masterful example of sequencing, this song comes right after “Evil Will Prevail,” a mournful tune reportedly inspired by Tim McVeigh’s act of terrorism in Oklahoma City. It’s a declaration of goofy optimism — “all your bad days will end” — with just a suggestion of carnival music. And the first verse is one of the best rewrites of Jimmy Reed’s “Big Boss Man” in recent years. “You hate your boss at your job/But in your dreams you can blow his head off/In your dreams, show no mercy.”

*Favorite Flaming Lips album: The Soft Bulletin (1999). Listening to this album prompted me to go back and listen to material from the Beach Boys’ Smile. With its elfin choruses, harps, synths, musical saws, UFO noise, and medical and scientific imagery, this is one for the ages.

*Favorite Flaming Lips song title: “Talkin’ Bout the Smiling Deathporn Immortality Blues” (from Hit to Death in the Future Head; 1992).

*Favorite Flaming Lips cover song : “After the Gold Rush” (from The Bridge: A Tribute to Neil Young, 1989).

*Favorite Moment in The Fearless Freaks: Wayne Coyne’s reenactment of a robbery at Long John Silver’s.

*Biggest Flaming Lips regret: I was in Austin in 1996 when Coyne performed his “parking garage symphony” — and I missed it.

*Most Flaming Lips ever played on local radio in New Mexico at one time: This Sunday night, July 3, starting at 11 p.m. on Terrell’s Sound World, free-form weirdo radio, KSFR-FM 90.7.


  Sunday, July 14, 2024 KSFR, Santa Fe, NM, 101.1 FM  Webcasting! 10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time Host: Steve Terrell Em...