Friday, March 31, 2006


Looks like Gov. Richardson's efforts to bring major sporting events to New Mexico are starting to pay off.

Tomorrow, Socorro, N.M. will host a mudbog with actual midget wrestling during the intermission.

This is not an April Fool's joke.

This from The Albuquerque Journal, (New Mexico's #1 source for midget wrestling news!):

Puppet the Psycho Dwarf opens the show with a comedy routine, then there will be a 45-minute no-holds-barred midget wrestling match. Puppet insists the wrestlers on the tour are to be called midgets - including himself. Nobody, he said, wants to see "Little people wrestling." ... The show, which is probably the most UN-PC two hours of anything, will be the half-time act during the annual New Mexico Tech Off Road Club 2006 Mudbog, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 each, or $10 per car ...
If you can't get to Socorro tomorrow, at least check out the trailer for Half Pint Brawlers Volume 1.


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
March 31, 2006

Are you ready for Native American polka?

Some of the craziest, most infectious high-energy dance music of the Southwest is waila, sometimes called “chicken scratch,” created and perfected by the Tohono O’odham tribe (formerly called Papago) of southern Arizona.

There’s even a Waila Festival that takes place every May at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Canyon Records, that venerated purveyor of American Indian music both traditional and contemporary, recently re-released four of its classic 1970s waila albums on two CDs.

Waila! consists of the groundbreaking Chicken Scratch! (featuring two bands, El Conjunto Murietta and Mike Enis & Company) and its sequel, Chicken Scratch with Elvin Kelly y Los Reyes & Los Papagos Molinas. Both were originally released in 1972.

Then there’s The American Indians Play Waila, which consists of the first two albums by the Tohono O’odham band called The American Indians.

Waila — a word that comes from the Spanish baile (dance) — is predominantly instrumental music in which the lead instruments typically are the saxophone and accordion. At least since the rock ’n’ roll era, waila bands usually also include electric guitar, electric bass, and drums.

The history of waila is one of those tales of cultural cross-pollination that make America great. When German immigrants moved to Texas and introduced the accordion to the Mexicans already living there, the resulting proto-Tex-Mex sound swept the American Southwest (and northern Mexico, for that matter).

Tohono O’odham musicians, who had been introduced to European instruments by Catholic missionaries, took up the new sound, though the accordion wouldn’t become a staple in Tohono O’odham dance bands until the last half of the 20th century.

According to the Waila! liner notes, until the late ’40s, the typical band consisted of a fiddle, an acoustic guitar, bass drum, and snare drum. Sax and accordion came later — as did the wah-wah pedal, which American Indian John Manuel hooked up to his accordion in 1976 to produce some otherworldly sounds.

The nearby Pima tribe also embraced waila. Most of Los Reyes’ members, for example, are Pimas.

The songs come from old tribal melodies, Mexican songs, and European sources. Waila bands play a number of styles — polka, mazurka (originally a Polish folk-dance style), chote (a form of the German schottisches), and Mexican cumbia.

On some recordings, the guitars seem just slightly out of tune and the drums just a little clunky. I’m not sure if this is done intentionally, but the effect gives the music a strong DIY edge, an aura of roughness that distinguishes it from some of the squeaky-clean, overly precious polka records out there.

Also recommended

* Polka Uber Alles by The Polkaholics. Did I say something about “squeaky-clean, overly precious polka”? I sure wasn’t talking about The Polkaholics, a Chicago band that once declared itself “Polka Enemy Number One.”

This is basically a guitar-based (No accordion! No sax! No tuba!) power trio led by "Dandy" Don Hedecker.

Basically, The Polkaholics are to polka what The Pogues and The Dropkick Murphys are to traditional Irish music.

They’re loud, drunk, rowdy, and irreverent. But Hedecker knows his stuff about polka. For instance, he’s a fan, friend, and champion of Li’l Wally Jagiello, the old Chicago polka king whom Hedecker has referred to as the Elvis Presley or Muddy Waters of polka.

These polka punks play extremely hopped-up, hyperdrive polka melodies that celebrate the trappings of the polka lifestyle — crazy dancing, greasy sausages, polyester clothes, and, of course, beer, beer, and more beer. Song titles include “Let’s Kill Two Beers With One Stein,” “Beer, Broads and Brats,” and “Beer, Breakfast of Champions” (which has a melody similar to “Did You Ever See a Lassie” and a chorus of “So drink chugga lugga, drink chugga lugga.” )

My personal favorite on this album is “Too Smart Polka,” which contains the immortal line, “She’s sophisticated; I’m intoxicated.”

Sure, they’re a novelty group in their bowties, frilly vests, and Revenge-of-the-Nerds glasses. But there’s no denying that The Polkaholics are fun. As the song says, “Polka Your Troubles Away.”

*Carnival Conspiracy: In the Marketplace All Is Subterfuge by Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All Stars. Why should I review this album? London says it all in his liner notes:

“Esteemed reader, you have purchased the greatest recording of all time, a CD so powerful that it will cure you of all ailments from impotence to flatulence. Let my bowels be ripped out and roasted if I am exaggerating. Simply carrying this disc on your person will lead to untold fortunes! Wrap this compact disc in warm, moist linen and apply it directly to any afflicted area of your body. It has the strength to cure Toothache, Ulcer and STDs. Is this nothing?”
No, it’s something. While I don’t know about its medicinal value, this might just be the coolest klezmer album I've ever heard.

With the help of “40 artists from eight countries,” trumpeter London, a founding member of The Klezmatics, has infused Jewish jazz with Brazilian carnival music, marching-band music, and even a little Mexican conjunto. At its best, it sounds like mad circus music from another dimension.

London, besides his talents as musician and arranger, has a wonderful sense of the surreal, as evidenced in his song titles: “Oh Agony, You Are So Sweet Like Sugar I Must to Eat You Up,” “Another Glass of Wine to Give Succor to My Ailing Existence,” and “In Your Garden Twenty Fecund Fruit Trees.”

Thursday, March 30, 2006


I meant to blog this a couple of weeks ago. (Guess I was too busy gearing up for my Austin trip.)

This image to your right was on a March 10 e-mail from the Democratic Governors Association, signed by our gov. who is chairman of that group.

The actual text deals with supporting the National Guard. ("Tell the White House that you won't wait for '08 to support the Guard ... ")

But, as suggested on today's The Hotline , something subliminal might be at work here.

"Around this time in the election cycle, presidential candidates always answer the '08 questions with something like, "I'll decide after the midterms," or "Never look past the next election." They typically keep their distance from the '08 label to keep the press pumping on their potential candidacy.

"Not Gov. Bill Richardson. The DGA head took a less subtle approach in the most recent fundraising email sent out on the Democratic Governor's Association listserv ... while the message is from the DGA, the picture says a thousand words about Richardson."


Political pundit Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia Center For Politics comments today about Senate and gubernatorial races.

No big surprises, but here's what he says of New Mexico:

Senate race:
Outlook: Solid Democratic

Democratic Senator Jeff Bingaman, a four-term veteran, was on the verge of retiring, but pulled back and has now launched his campaign for re-election. He will likely win his fifth term. GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson would have been tough competition, but she is running for re-election this time around.

Governor's race:

Outlook: Solid Democratic

Governor Bill Richardson (D) is still the favorite to win his second term, but he has had some problems recently, not least the controversy over his frequent traveling and the decision to buy a new, expensive state jet. Possible Republican nominees have been hard to come by so far, but it's still early.

Our bet stays with Richardson, but it matters how well and easily he wins, if he intends to be a serious 2008 Democratic presidential candidate.

Did he say the state jet was a potential problem for the gov? Just after reading that, as if by magic, I received this press release from the Department of Public Safety:

Santa Fe—Governor Bill Richardson has offered the state jet to fly a Bernalillo County Sheriff official and a State Police investigator to Washington D.C. to participate in the television show America’s Most Wanted. The program will feature efforts to apprehend accused killer Michael Paul Astorga who police believe shot and killed Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Deputy James McGrane, Jr. during a traffic stop on March 22nd. The show will air live on KASA-TV at 8:00 p.m. local time Saturday night.


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
March 30, 2006

It’s been more than a year since The New Mexican published an op-ed piece with Gov. Bill Richardson’s byline. The last one I could find was from January 2005 where the guv opined on Medicaid.

But that doesn’t mean Richardson hasn’t peddled his punditry to other publications.

In fact, not quite two weeks ago, he had an op-ed published in another paper.

In New Hampshire, in The Manchester Union Leader, the daily paper in the Granite State’s largest city. In the old days, under its late former publisher William Loeb, that newspaper was so right wing that it made Fox News look like The Vegetarian Times.

The paper published a Richardson piece March 18, the same day he went to that state officially to participate in a St. Patrick’s Day parade and to campaign for local Democratic candidates. But really, he made the trip to get better acquainted with the good folks of New Hampshire, which hosts the first presidential primary every four years.

No, the op-ed wasn’t about Irish pride.

It ran under the headline: “A plan for American energy independence.”

Richardson, a former U.S. Energy Department secretary, told his New Hampshire readers: “We must implement a comprehensive-energy plan, not just pop holes into every prairie, plain, tundra and shoreline — no matter if those pockets would have any significant effect on our national-energy needs.”

He didn’t forget the state in which he currently resides.

In a paragraph that surely will be repeated in dozens of stump speeches later this year, Richardson boasted: “No other state has made as many advances in clean-energy policy as we have over this period. And I’m proud to say that people now look to us as a leader on clean and renewable energy. We have succeeded because people want energy diversification, they want clean energy, and they want the jobs and growth that will come from replacing $250 billion a year of foreign oil with clean, American-made energy.”

Then he localized it, adding, “New Hampshire families know how important this is.”

The critics rave: The only reaction I could find to the Union Leader op-ed didn’t come from New Hampshire. It was from a blogger in Seattle.

“The piece itself verges on parody, it is such a generic recitation of Democratic talking points on energy,” the blog says. “ ‘Foreign oil,’ check. ‘Apollo-like project’, check. ‘Can’t drill our way out of the problem,’ check. ‘Big oil companies with record profits,’ check.”

Grumblings from some grumpy Republican?

No, this blogger was David Roberts, assistant editor of Grist Magazine, an environmentalist journal.

Referring to Richardson’s “Apollo-like” rhetoric, Roberts wrote, “Of course, I think it’s all to the good that this has so quickly become conventional wisdom. It’s all true. But Richardson has always struck me as a bit smarmy and unimaginative. This piece of writing, which may as well have come from the Democratic Central Computer’s Energy Phrase Generator, only reinforces that impression.”

Gallows humor: The Union County Democratic Party has an important rule that candidates must follow to participate in the party’s upcoming pre-Primary Enchilada Supper: The Francesca Lobato Rule.

The rule, as stated in a recent news release, is simple: ”Any candidate who makes a vicious attack on another Democrat will be lynched.”


“The rule arises from an enchilada supper at which Ms. Lobato made such an attack on Sen. (Jeff) Bingaman,” the news release explains. “The county chairman was heavily criticized for preventing the lynching of Ms. Lobato. No such protection is now afforded and a rope is available.”

Perennial candidate Lobato has run for Senate several times. She’s been a Democrat, a Green and an independent. Last time we looked, Lobato was suing to get on the Republican primary ballot for the U.S. Senate race, where three other candidates are competing to run against Bingaman.

The Union County Democratic Party’s Pre-Primary Enchilada Supper is scheduled for May 2 at the Airpark in Clayton.

Rave on!: A couple of items in the capital-outlay bill that escaped the governor’s veto pen will provide $350,000 to buy a theater and studio in Clovis once owned by Buddy Holly producer Norman Petty and turn it into a performing-arts center and Petty museum.
But hold on, Peggy Sue.

The building in question isn’t the actual studio where Buddy and The Crickets, Waylon Jennings and Roy Orbison recorded in the 1950s. The state is buying the old Mesa Theater, where Petty later moved his recording business, said Ken and Shirley Broad in a recent interview. The late Vi Petty, Norman’s wife, donated the theater to Clovis Community College.

The Broads own the original Norman Petty Studio on 7th Street in Clovis and manage the vast music catalog Norman Petty owned.

The Broads still conduct tours of the old studio if you call them in advance.

Monday, March 27, 2006


Sunday, March 26, 2006
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M.
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
King Kong Kitchee Kitchee Ki-Mi-O by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Ride Away by The Fall
Cradle of Lies by Johnny Dowd
Feeling Strange by The Plimsouls
Teenage Wristband by The Twilight Singers
Sing Me Spanish Techno by The New Pornographers
My Dog Was Lost But Now He's Found by The Fiery Furnaces
Act Naturally by The Beatles

Signifyin' Honky by P.W. Long & Reelfoot
Good Man by The Grabs
Shotgun John by Hundred Year Flood
The Ballad of Johnny Burma by Mission of Burma
Desert Search For Techno Allah by Mr. Bungle
Red Hot by Ellegarden
Baby Got Back by Richard Cheese

Too Smart Polka by The Polkaholics
La Sanja by El Conjunto Murrietta
This City is Very Exciting by 3 Mustaphas 3
Shamisen Boogie Woogie by Umekichi & Otemoto Orchestra
Nana(N.J. 1920-2002) by Kultur Shock
The Cry of the Wild Duck by The Klezmer Conservatory Band
Blackwater Polka by The American Indians
Gilligan's Island by Isreal Kamakawiwo'ole

Danny Boy by Black 47
Little Drop of Poison by Tom Waits
My Pet Rat St. Michael by Mark Eitzel
Her Ambition by Mecca Normal
Clowns & Jugglers (Octopus) by Syd Barrett
Baby It's You by The Shirrells
Crying Time by Ray Charles
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Saturday, March 25, 2006


Buck Owens is dead.

from Reuters:
Country-music innovator Buck Owens, who sold more than 16 million albums and popularized country entertainment on television as host of "Hee Haw," died on Saturday at age 76.

Owens died of heart failure at his home near Bakersfield, a California city he helped put on the country-music map, his keyboard player Jim Shaw said. Owens performed the night before at his club, "Buck Owens' Crystal Palace" for about 90 minutes, Shaw said.

"He was one of the true innovators; he did it his own way, an outside gunslinger type who used his own band and made music in Hollywood rather than Nashville. That free spirit made him important to a lot of people," Shaw said.

My brother just sent me "The Buck Owens Pledge, which appeared as a paid ad in Music City News back in March, 1965:
I Shall Sing No Song That Is Not A Country Song.

I Shall Make No Record That Is Not A Country Record.

I Refuse To be Known As Anything But A Country Singer.

I Am Proud To be Associated With Country Music.

Country Music And Country Music Fans Made Me What I Am Today.

And I Shall Not Forget It.

Buck will get a proper tribute from me next Friday on the Santa Fe Opry.

God, I loved his music!

Here's my review last year of The Buck Owens Ranch Show DVDs

UPDATE: (Sunday morning) This piece by Peter Cooper of The Tennessean is a much better tribute to Buck. I'm glad I'm not the only one who was pissed off by all the headlines that emphasized Buck's role in Hee Haw.

ONE MORE UPDATE: (Later Sunday Morning) Here's a good radio tribute to Buck on NPR's Sunday Weekend Edition. I like how Buck describes "The Bakersfield Sound" as "A mix of Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys and Little Richard."


Friday, March 24, 2006
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
Banana Pudding by Southern Culture on the Skids
There Stands the Glass by Van Morrison
There is Evil by The Waco Brothers
Dollar Dress by Jon Langford
What Goes On by The Meat Purveyors
Better Than Broken by The Bottle Rockets
Feb 14 by The Drive-By Truckers
Just Squeeze Me by Janis Martin

Don't Go by Hundred Year Flood
En Este Momento by Cordero
Through an Open Door by Smutfish
Tabitha by Ed Pettersen
Flat Chested Girl From Maynardville by Bobby Bare Jr.
A Man of God by Trilobite
Liver by Desdemona Finch

When I Stop Dreaming by Johnny Cash
California Cottonfields by Merle Haggard
The Comedians by Roy Orbison
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues by The Bubbadinos
Horses, Hitches & Rocky Trails by Andy Hersey
Rainin' in Port Arthur by The Gourds
No Way Out But Down by Graham Lindsey

Bluebird Wine by Rodney Crowell
Alabama Highway by Steve Young
Snow by Curt Kirkwood
I Like My Wine by Michael Hurley
Are You Sincere by Bobby Bare
Trip Around the Sun by Big Al Anderson
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

Friday, March 24, 2006


This week's Terrell's Tune-up is a distillation (yeah, that's the ticket!) of the blogging I did from South by Southwest in Austin last week. No need to reprint it here.

If you missed it, however, or if you have this bizarre urge to read those posts again, you can follow these handy links:






And if you really want to read the version as presented in Friday's Pasatiempo, CLICK HERE

Thursday, March 23, 2006


One of my friends on the No Depression Yahoo board just posted this link to a site that will tell you what the number one song in the country was on any given day, going back to the 1890s.

Sorry identity thieves, but I won't post my date of birth. However, the week I was born, the number one song was "Vaya con Dios (May God Be with You)" by Les Paul & Mary Ford


ABC News' political unit has devised what they call "The Invisible Primary," a system that considers 19 different categories to rank 2008 presidential candidates.

"The ratings reflect a sense of who has "juice" — a demonstrated ability to elicit favorable attention from critical sectors of the political world, including activists, major fundraisers, and member of the news media who are paying minute daily attention to what has become the earliest and most intense presidential campaign ever at this stage."
So far the leaders are Sen. Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side and Sen. John McCain for the Republicans.

No big surprise.

Gov. Bill Richardson ranks a modest 7th in the Democratic Invisible Primary so far.

According to ABC News, he does best in the "Hang Test" category, where he ranks second behind former Sen. John Edwards.

The Hang Test is:

"How does the candidate do in dealing with people in person in formal speeches before large audiences, smaller venues, spontaneous situations, pig roasts, sledding, flapjack-flipping, and town meetings? Coat on or off? Tie loosened or tight? Dress or pantsuit? Can the candidate turn on a room? Perhaps most importantly, can he or she `hang?'"
Richardson also tied for second in the "Fire in the Belly" category. He's with Clinton and Edwards here behind former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner.

He has high ratings in television campaign skills and party constituencies.

However Richardson falls down in the category of ability to win the New Hampshire primary where, in spite of his recent visit there, he ranks 10th. And he ranks even worse (11th) in his chance of winning the Iowa caucuses.

And he ranks troward the bottom in the areas of "Biography and Spouse," and perceived electibilty.


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
March 23, 2006

So what did Gov. Bill Richardson say to the Democrats after they put him on the state primary ballot Saturday at the their pre-primary convention at Albuquerque’s Highland High School?


While Richardson spoke at the convention that morning, he left for New Hampshire before the delegates voted.

Something tells me there’s going to be more and more of these little anecdotes in the months to come.

Richardson has no primary opposition — in the governor’s race at least. But not everyone at the high school was there to cheer the governor.

A handful of members of the Hispano Round Table of New Mexico — an umbrella for nearly 50 Hispanic organizations and labor unions — was there to demonstrate against Richardson.

A press release from the group complained about Richardson’s “abuse of executive power when it comes to vetoing important funding initiatives as a way of punishing legislators who fail to support the governor’s priorities, many of which seem to serve the interests of a limited number of people, including some who aren’t even residents of the state. ... Instead of providing for adequate funding of children and youth programs, for school facility construction and repair, for water projects so desperately needed by countless New Mexico communities, and a minimum wage to help bring vast working populations out of poverty, they chose ... to invest in the pet projects of celebrities and other special interests.”

The planned Southern New Mexico spaceport, proposed by Virgin Galactic’s Sir Richardson Branson, is one such example, said Hispano Round Table president Evangeline Trujillo. “We’re a poor state,” she said in an interview Wednesday. “It’s like a low-income family that chooses to buy a Hummer when their children can’t read and need shoes.”

(Spaceport backers, of course, say the project will bring good jobs to the state.)

The Hispano Round Table also expressed frustration with legislative leaders who are unwilling to challenge Richardson’s vetoes.

“We got a lot of people giving us thumbs up,” Trujillo said. But she admitted other Democrats asked whether it was good publicly to criticize a Democratic governor.

Will the Hispano Round Table back Richardson against his Republican opponent (most likely Dr. J.R. Damron of Santa Fe, who only has a write-in opponent in his primary)?

“Not necessarily,” Trujillo said. “We’re going to be issue-oriented. We’ll align ourselves with the candidate of either party who best addresses our issues.”

Poll sliding : Richardson still has a good popularity rating — especially with Hispanics — in the latest monthly poll by Survey USA and KOB-TV.

According to the poll of 600 adults in the state, taken by telephone between March 10 and 12, 59 percent approved of the job Richardson is doing as governor. That’s down five points from February.

The latest survey found 36 percent disapproved of Richardson’s performance — up from 32 percent last month.

But the poll still shows Richardson doing fairly well with Republicans. Results said 46 percent of GOP respondents approved of Richardson’s performance while 51 percent disapproved.
Richardson got his best ratings from Hispanics, who gave him a 69 percent approval rating (26 percent of Hispanic respondents disapproved of the job he’s doing).

The margin of error is 4 percent. Survey USA conducts monthly polls on governors in all 50 states.

More fun with polls: Survey USA is a scientific poll. I’d hate to be unfair to unscientific polls, so consider the recent Daily Kos poll for 2008 Democratic presidential contenders.

If I were doing spin for the governor, I’d write a press release proclaiming that Richardson tied with conventional-wisdom front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton and finished with twice the numbers of U.S. Sens. John Kerry, Joe Biden and Evan Bayh in the liberal blog’s monthly straw poll.

Only trouble is, Richardson and Clinton each only got a lousy 2 percent in the poll. The big winner was Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, who scored 48 percent. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark was a distant second at 15 percent followed by ex-Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (11 percent); former U.S. Sen. John Edwards (7 percent) and “No Freakin’ Clue” (4 percent).

Unconventional convention: With Sweeney Center being torn down, where can political parties hold conventions here? If you’re the Green Party, just do it at Java Joe’s. The Rodeo Road coffee house, which has a capacity of about 50 people, is where the Santa Fe County Green Party is holding its convention tonight.

Speaking of parties: Local political activist Agnes Moses — best known as a former president of the Santa Fe branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People — turns 80 this weekend.

Seven of her nine children will be in town to eat gumbo and enchiladas at a private celebration Saturday.

Moses has lived in Santa Fe with her husband, Bob, for the past 13 years. She also held offices with the Democratic Women of Santa Fe County.

I worked with her a few years ago in the fight to save KSFR, Santa Fe’s public radio station. Happy birthday, Agnes.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Mark Weber, the strongman of Zerx Records, just sent me the latest albuZERXque compilation, Volume 22 to be exact, and it includes my song "Parallel World," which Erik Ness had me record a few years ago down in Las Cruces in the old farm & Livestock Bureau building, which had just been vacated. Erik took my vocals and guitar part and fortified it in a proper studio with the Desperados, a Cruces country band. The compilation has a more folk/country bent than most of the AlbuquZERXque projects, including several fresh tunes from The Bubbadinos, plus Bayou Seco and Weber himself. So buy the damn thing!

Monday, March 20, 2006


At the Austin Airport on my way out of town Sunday afternoon, I ran into Ronny Elliott standing in line for ice cream. He told me he'd just seen Karl Rove.

I think there's an omen in there somewhere ...

Sometimes I think I'm getting too old for SXSW -- the lines, the who-bribed-the-fire-marshal crowds, standing up for hours at a time, the goddamn Austin traffic, which I forget how bad it is every time ...

Like Karl Rove's most famous client says, "It's hard work!"

I'm getting too old for it.

But I've got the feeling I'll be back.


"Are you sure this is the venue where P.W. Long is supposed to play?"

Inside the Yard Dog

Beatle Bob joins the Waco Brothers

Watch out for flying chairs!

Leslie cruises Sixth Street

P.W. plays while the crowd watches the backdrop

Kev Russell of The Gourds tries to prove you can't catch bird flu from the Funky Chicken.

The Entourage: "We're the pros from Dover."

Sunday, March 19, 2006


I stopped to listen to this guy preaching on Sixth Street Friday night, a lonely Christian soldier armed only with a megaphone, an island in a hostile sea of drunks.

He basically was telling the St. Patrick's night revelers that they were a bunch of drunken scumbags and Hell-bound reprobates.

Trouble is, in some ways I kind of agreed with him.

So I spent much of my Saturday night in church.

It just so happened that two of the most high-energy shows I saw this year was scheduled at the Central Presbyterian Church in downtown Austin.

Granted, the religion I heard about at these shows didn't sound much like that preached Friday by Rev. megaphone. There wasn't much talk about Hell and damnation. Instead, I heard about love and blessings. The singers I heard sang about Jesus as a friend, not a warden.

The first show I caught there was The Jones Family Singers, a gospel group from Bay City, Texas fronted by five of the six daughters of Elder Fred A. Jones, founder and pastor of The Mt. Zion Pentecostal Holiness Church.

Several other family members play instruments -- guitars, bass, keyboards. And 13-year-old Ian D. Wade, who I'm guessing is Elder Jones' grandson, on drums.

The group was amazing. They had the congregation going from the first note. Singer Alexis Roberts led most of the songs, which featured choreography from her sisters. They kicked the Devil, rocked in Jesus and rolled in the Holy Spirit.

Later in the evening, Marty Stuart and his band The Fabulous Superlatives did a breathtaking gospel set at Central Presbyterian. Stuart, a longtime Nashville vet and former sideman for Johnny Cash, released a gospel album called Souls' Chapel -- which I've got to get my hands on.

Stuart and band infuse gospel with strong portions of rockabilly and blues, and, one one guitar instrumental, even a sanctified version of surf music.

He was on fire.

Between these two shows, I walked down to Sixth Street to catch Lisa Germano's set. Back in 1995, my first SXSW, Germano was one of my very favorite acts. This was during her strongest period, not long after the albums Happiness and Geek the Girl, both pure sonic treats.

But tonight I just couldn't get into Lisa. Maybe it's because she just played piano and didn't have her full band. Or maybe it's because following the Jones Family, her music just seemed too self-absorbed and needy. Fortunately Stuart's show elevated my spirit back up to the level where the Joneses had left it.

But I wasn't completely avoiding drunken hellbound reprobates Saturday. Early in the evening I caught Marah at the Yep-Roc party at the good old Yard Dog. The brothers Bielanko were rocking.

My favorite song of theirs still is "Round Eye Blues," a moving song about Vietnam -- a war way too old for the Bielankos to have any memory of. When they first released this song back in 2000 (on their best album Kids in Philly), the song seemed like some stray ghost of a memory. With its references to singers and songs of that era ("I was shakin' like Little Richard, I was sweatin' like old James Brown ...") it seemed a period peace.

What a difference these years have made. The jungle's now a desert, but those same fears and horrors in "Round Eye Blues" are more relevent than ever.

And yes, I did on Friday attend more services at the Waco Brothers' Church of the Dollar Apocalypse.

As usual, I ended my SXSW with another Wacos show, their "official" showcase at Bourbon Rocks. While not as crazy, chaotic and inspiring as their Yard Dog gig the night before, (and indeed, Tracey survived what had to be a vicious hangover from his adventures the night before) it was a good and proper Viking funeral for this year's festival.

One surprise -- Garland Jeffreys, who had played a set earlier at Bourbon Rocks, joined the Wacos on stage for a version of "The Harder They Come."

Back to Santa Fe tomorrow ... back to work Monday ... It's been fun.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


You probably can tell by reading these posts that I really enjoy South by Southwest and love coming here.

But sometimes it's not hard to get cynical about the monstrosity the whole shebang has become.

My big SXSW moment of the day was when I was outside of the Yard Dog Gallery, taking a break from the Bloodshot Party and calling my girlfriend on my cell phone. As I was talking with Helen, some wide-eyed kid comes up to me and hands me a CD in a paper envelope. I smile and nod, assuming he'll buzz off.

But no.

He starts giving me the song and dance about the band whose CD I now held in my hand, where I can catch them playing, and so on. I look at the little dunderhead and snap, "I'm trying to talk on the phone!"

The stupid kid is lucky I wasn't the man with the big cigar who could make him a star. Maybe I did him a favor so he won't bother someone who actually could help him. Of course, I thought of that kid later Friday walking down Sixth Street and ever so often seeing a bunch of scruffed up CDs lying among the paper pizza plates and plastic cups.

Oh well, on to the music.

The entourage and I spent most of the daylight hours at the annual Bloodshot Party. We got to see Bobby Bare again, who sang a couple of tunes -- "Detroit City" and one called "The Stranger," which is about a cowboy who has sex with cows. No joke. Bobby also sang an unfinished original concerning adultry.

Other highlights of the party:

The Bottle Rockets did a spirited set, despite the fact that the bass player blew an amp.

Cordero, a new Bloodshot band, was my surprise favorite discovery of the day. I know nothing about this band except they have a talented female singer, a trumpet player, and play a Latin-flavored rock that reminds me of Calexico.

Speaking of big surprises, during The Meat Purveyors' set, a guy standing behind me hopped up for a second on the stage with Cherilyn DiMond, the stand-up bass player. At the end of the song, Cherilyn said, "Oh my God, my boyfriend just proposed to me!

I think her answer was "yes."

As always though, the highlight of the Bloodshot party was those rascally Waco Brothers. They didn't play the last year I was here (2004), so I hadn't seen them since 2002.

This was the best Waco set I've seen in years. It was obvious that magic would be made as many began singing along with "Nothing at All," one of Deano Waco's best angry political songs.

Raw, inspired chaos seemed to be the order of the day. This is due in part to Tracey Waco's drunken highjinx. I'd never seen him this way. Usually he seems like a nice quiet guy. Not last night. He literally was falling-down drunk. At the end of the night Jon Langford said, "Tracey's going straight back to the hotel without his supper."

After the Wacos, almost anything would seem like a letdown. But it truly was a letdown when I learned that soul singer Bettye LaVette cancelled her performance. I'm not sure what her reasons were, but I was disappointed. She was one of the main acts I wanted to see here.

But someone who didn't disappoint was Big Al Anderson. I had assumed that his SXSW showcase would be on the mellow side, which was to support his newly released After Hours, a relatively mellow, sometimes jazzy album.

Instead, Al was rocking, reminding people why he was such an asset to NRBQ. My favorite songs he did were "All You Ever Do is Let Me Down" (a hit for The Mavericks, which he co-wrote with Raul Malo), "It Comes to Me Naturally" and Johnny Cash's "Get Rhythm"(both from his NRBQ days)

The next show I caught was a guy named P.W. Long. He's a fomer frontman for the band Mule, and a favorite of most the guys in the entourage.

He's got a raspy voice, a beat-up guitar and a pissed-off attitude. He's backed only by a drummer -- the basic White Stripes/Black Keys/Moaners/Doo Rag arrangement.

P.W. was fun. But for good rocking rage, the Wacos were still ringing in my ears and Mr. Long didn't quite measure up to that standard.

I ended the evening at the Stan Ridgway showcase. He played with his acoustic trio feature his wife Pietra Wexstun on keyboards and Rick King on guitar. I knew it was going to be good when they opened with a slow spooky version of "Police Call," one of my favorite songs from the first Drywall album.

There was a Tex-Mex version of "Mexican Radio" a crazy romp on "Come on Down to The Barbecue," a strong "Call of the West" (from Stan's Wall of Voodoo days) and a good classic spookhouse rendition of "Ring of Fire."

I'd better get some sleep now or I'll be in worse shape than Tracy Waco Saturday.

Friday, March 17, 2006


If you were hoping for a thoughtful analysis of Neil Young's keynote speech -- sorry! For the first time in my SXSW history I overslept and missed the keynote speech. Blame it on my blogging.

It was another strong night of music. So strong, after the triple assault of The Fiery Furnaces, The Twilight Singers and The Drive-By Truckers, my delicate ears are still ringing.

The day started off nice and mellow at the party at The Gingerman hosted by singer/songwriter/producer Ed Pettersen and his lovely wife Jane. Truly a class affair with good music, tasty food (including fresh pineapples, blueberries and mango slices) and good friends. (You folks know who you are.)

My new musical discovery there was Andy Hersey, an Arizona cowboy singer (whose music you'll soon be hearing on The Santa Fe Opry.)

Ed played the strongest set I've ever seen him perform, backed by ex Dictator/Del Lord and longtime Pettersen crony Scott Kempner, who also played a solo set.

A funny note: during Kempner's set, a band at the bar next door, began doing a sound check on the outdoor stage -- a loud and insane ruckus that sounded like New Year's Eve in the nuthouse. Scott growled, "I guess it's revenge. I think when when I was a kid growing up, all my records sounded like that to my parents."

The first official SXSW showcase I caught Thursday night was Bobby Bare, making a rare appearance to promote his latest album The Moon Was Blue. His son Bobby Jr. sang background and played some guitar, harmonica and keyboards.

Bare's friendly voice still is in fine form. He played most of his greatest hits -- "Detroit City," "Streets of Baltimore," "Marie Laveau" -- but the stunner was "Are You Sincere" from the new album.

For my next musical treat I chose a jolter -- The Fiery Furnaces.

This brother-and-sister-led band made one of my very favorite albums last year, Rehearsing My Choir, much of it narrated by and centering around stories told by their grandmother.

I had wondered how the group would handle this. I imagined them using the taped voice of Granny Olga. I was secretly hoping for a guest appearance by the lady.

Instead, the Furnances did radically different versions of the Choir songs. In fact, live, they sound much different than their records. The synth-sounds are gone, replaced by a full guitar attack. The results are quite pleasing.

Speaking of favorite albums, Greg Dulli routinely makes my yearly Top 10 lists -- with his former group The Afghan Whigs and his latest one, The Twilight Singers.

He was in excellent form Thursday, playing his dark, intense music. He played some familiar Twilight tunes -- "Teenage Wrist Band," "Martin Eden" -- but much of his set was new material, presumedly from his upcoming album "Powder Burns."

It sounds promising. There was a slow, slinky, almost voodooistic song that I loved,

My only complaint -- nothing from the Whigs songbook.

And then there was The Drive By Truckers, who didn't play any of my very favorite songs -- "Sink Hole," ""Lookout Mountain," "Putting People on the Moon," "Steve McQueen" -- but still managed to pull off a terrific show.

This is the first time I've seen them with their current line-up, which includes singer/guitarist Jason Isbell and bassist Shona Tucker. They also had a steel guitarist sitting toward the back of the stage.

They did some new songs from their new album A Blessing and a Curse but the one that impressed me most tonight was "Cottonseed" from their previous album The Dirty South.

I'm about to pass out. Too bad I don't have any speech to sleep through on Friday morning.


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New MexicanMarch 17, 2006

Black 47 first roared back in the early ‘90s, about the time that The Pogues began to falter. It’s always been tempting to assume that this New York band, led by Irish expatriate Larry Kirwin was just running with the torch that The Pogues passed on to them.

But nothing’s that simple, especially when you’re dealing with Irish musicians. While both bands mix traditional Irish music with crazy rock ‘n’ roll, Black 47 can’t be dismissed as a “Pogues Jr.” group.

While not the poet that The Pogues’ former frontman Shane McGowan is, Kirwin is a strange visionary in his own right. In the Black 47 cosmos, elements of reggae, Dixieland and even hip hop are as natural as uilleann pipes and penny whistles.

And Black 47, taking its name from the worst year of the potato famine, has a pronounced political bent. Many of Kirwin’s songs celebrate Irish revolutionary heroes — James Connolly, Michael Collins, Bobby Sands — while many more deal with Irish immigrants and the generations they spawned in America.

Their latest album Bittersweet Sixteen, is both a treat for old fans as well as a good starting place for newcomers. It’s an odds ‘n’ sods (in this case, maybe an “odds and Old Sod”) retrospective including rarities, live radio cuts, a stray soundtrack number from a movie you probably never saw, and a couple of new tunes.

Larry and the boys tackle the issue of war. There’s a funky version of the Vietnam-era Buffalo Springfield hit, “For What It’s Worth,” which plays just before a trilogy of anti-war anthems. “One thing holds true in all wars, working class kids do the fightin’, rich white men in Washington do the sendin’ ” Kirwin tells the audience before the live version of “My Love is in New York,” which is about Vietnam.

The next two tracks, “Downtown Baghdad Blues” and “South Chicago Waltz” both are from the perspectives of American troops in Iraq wishing they were back home.

“Downtown Baghdad” is almost jaunty, with Kirwin rapping in his sing-songy style: “Me, I don’t care much about Jesus or Mohammad/They don’t stop bullets to the best of my knowledge.”
“Southside Chicago Waltz,” is slower, sadder, with uilleann pipes playing a heartbreaking air.
“Sometimes you gotta be bigger than you are stretch upon your stars, reach out for the stars/I hope to God what we’re doing here is right/’Cause I can’t take anymore of these bloody, God-awful nights.”

Later in the album there’s a version of the Irish Republican classic “Patriot Game,” from which Bob Dylan borrowed the melody for “With God on Our Side.”

But just because Kirwin’s against the war doesn’t make him a tofu-munching, aura-balancing peacenik.

Bittersweet Sixteen contains a version of what probably is my favorite Black 47 song, “Forty Deuce,” a sweeping tale of the life of an Irish gangster in Hell’s Kitchen, New York, full of sex, crime, betrayal and revenge.

This take is radically different from the familiar one on Green Suede Shoes. Here it starts out with a crazy wailing bebop sax. Kirwin comes in with a raspy spoken introduction. The sax part evolves into the melody of the instrumental break of the song before the whole band comes in.
The climax of the song has a line that ranks up there with Johnny Cash’s famous words about shooting that guy in Reno.

“I followed Spider Murphy into a church down by Times Square/I blew him to sweet Jesus while he was kneelin’ at his prayers.”

Perhaps the most moving song here is none other than “Danny Boy.” But this is not your father’s “Danny Boy.” Kirwin turns this into an ode to a wild, gay Irish immigrant who in his prime gave homophobes good reason to be phobic of homos. (”...whenever the weather turns damp at least one homophobe has an aching jaw,” Kirwin says of the song in the liner notes.)

But Danny Boy ends up dying of AIDS, After Danny’s last words from his hospital bed, (”Life’s a bitch and then you die,”) Kirwin sings the original lyrics, about a parent bidding farewell to a son who is leaving — off to war? Sailing to America? It’s hard to imagine the original “Danny Boy” being any sadder, but Kirwin and Black 47 somehow pull it off.

(Check out

Another new Irish treat:

The Essential Chieftains: This two-disc set is a much more honest effort than the single disc compilation from 2002 that was questionably named The Best of The Chieftains. That collection drew from only three Chieftains album (all on Columbia in the late 1970s).

Granted, it would be hard to compile a career-spanning retrospect of Paddy Maloney and his traditional-based Irish ensemble, whose first album was released more than 40 years ago. And judging from what’s missing from Essential, apparently the group’s first several albums were unavailable — assumedly for legal, contractual, why-I-hate-the-music-industry reasons.

(A little Chieftains trivia: The first albums were numbered, Chieftains 1, Chieftains 2, etc. However, between Chieftains 6 -- subtitled Bonapart’s Retreat and Chieftains 7 -- there was another album, Chieftains Live! )

I’ve got a few minor qualms with this new collection. Did the entire second disc have to be guest-vocalist cuts? And if so, why did they leave out “St. Stephen’s Day Murders” (with Elvis Costello) and, if you’re going to have only one with Van Morrison, why use the plodding “Shenandoah,” instead of the celestial “Cerrickfergus” or the sublime “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” ? (Again, I suspect contractual issues.)

Still, I admire the compiler for finding versions of early Chieftains songs “The Women of Ireland” and “Tabhair Dom Do Lamh (Give Me Your Hand).” Both the versions her are part of medleys, and neither are as good as the mid ‘70s originals, but they’re both wonderful pieces of music.

And I was happy that at least one track from The Chieftains in China showed up here. That was an early ‘80s album where Paddy and the lads teams up with Chinese folk musicians to produce some delightfully exotic sounds.

(Check out www.legacy recordings.)

Thursday, March 16, 2006


AUSTIN, TEXAS --What am I still doing up this late?????

It was a long, long day of rock 'n' roll. If this were Sesame Street, the letter sponsoring tonight would be "P" -- in honor of The Plimsouls and the Pornographers -- New Pornographers, that is. Those two bands made what has to be one of the best Wednesday nights at SXSW I've ever seen -- at least since 1996 and Lou Reed played in Austin on a Wednesday. Usually the first night is rather tame. Not this year.

As usual, the entourage and I started the evening at the Guitartown party, which this year was at Mother Eagan's on West 6th Street. Got there just in time to see the last of Tres Chica's set. Tanya Lamm formerly of Hazeldine is in this group.

I was determined to make it to the Frogville portion of the New Mexico showcase over at Las Manitas restaurant on Congress (and determined to get the fajitas and tamales and various other goodies there), so I trotted over there just before Hundred Year Flood started playing.

HYF has a new album coming out in April, and apparently some of the songs they played Wednesday are from it. They all sounded strong. It's been months since I've seen these guys -- they've been wintering in Austin -- so it was a treat.

My only complaint is that the set was way too short. I think they scheduled eight bands in four hours, so you do the math. Good thing most the New Mexico acts -- including some that didn't play Wednesday like Goshen and Boris McCutcheon --are playing Thursday night at Schoal Creek Saloon.

Unfortunately I had to make one of those horrible SXSW choices. Joe West was going on, but if I was going to catch The Gourds over at Mother Eagan's, I was going to have to make a quick hoof back. Sorry, Joe, but I'm sure I'll get to see you before I get to see The Gourds again. I did however snap Joe's picture right as he was going to the Men's Room.

The Gourds didn't disappoint. Unlike their recent show in Santa Fe opening for Ralph Stanley, they got nice asnd rowdy, with Kev Russell playing mostly on his electric guitar. They did a lot of the more rocked out stuff from their new album, Heavy Ornamentals and a version of The Rolling Stones' "Miss You."

After this we headed for Stubb's BBQ, where The New Pornographers played.

It's amazing: Ask the regular Joe on the street and chances are he's not aware of The New Pornographers. Say the name and he'll think it's the start of a dirty joke.

But here at South by Southwest -- which not only draws hoards of music bizzers, but even bigger hoards of music geeks -- they're major stars. They packed the massive backyard of Stubb's.

And rightfully so.

Yikes! Sounds this sweet should be illegal. Neko Case, who in this band mainly sings harmonies behind Carl Newman (and plays the best tambourine this side of Betty of The Archies), but she's indispensible.

On the way out we were all humming "Sing Me Spanish Techno."

We headed down to Sixth Street to B.D. Riley's, apparently a sports bar in real life, to hear one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Ronny Elliott of Tampa, Fla. He played a a solo acoustic set including some of my favorite songs -- "Tell The King The Killer's Here," "Burn, Burn, Burn," "Mr. Edison's Electric Chair" and "South by So What," a sardonic song he wrote after the first time he played the festival in the early '90s.

Afterwards we squeezed into the crowded 6th Street bar called Exodus to see The Plimsouls reunion show. I never got to see this band during their early '80s heyday (I understand they played the late great Golden Inn once back then) But I did see their previous reunion gig back in 1996, also at SXSW.

If anything, they've gotten better. For some reason they started late, so the set was short. But they rocked like kids half their age. Peter Case has gone on to become a respected acoustic singer-songwriter/folkie. But the man's a natural rocker.

I wish The Plimsouls would have played at Stubb's -- a nice big outdoor venue. The Exodus not only was sweating room only, but apparently there's no ventilation there. It was extremely uncomfortable, but The Plimsouls helped me transcend such trivial concerns.

Gotta get to bed ...Neil Young is tomorrow's keynote speaker.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


The bad news: No Roundhouse Round-up or radio play lists from me this week.

The good news: I'll be blogging from the South by Southwest music festival this week.

I'm flying to Austin tomorrow morning. Looking forward to some loud music and BBQ.

And I'm going to try this newfangled digital camera to see if i can't bring some exciting fresh rock 'n' roll photography to this blog. (And unlike my btrip to Boston a couple of years ago, I'll try hard not to lose the camera.)

Watch this space! (I'll probably post in the insanely wee hours.)

Monday, March 13, 2006


Sunday, March 12, 2006
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M.
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
I'm Finding it Harder to Be a Gentleman by The White Stripes
Slaves & Bulldozers by Soundgarden
My Cat's Name is Maceo by Jane's Addiction
What I Want by This Bike is a Pipe Bomb
Milk by Kings of Leon
Praise God by Johnny Dowd
OK/No Way by Mission of Burma
Oh My Darling Clementine by The American Indians

Armed Love by The International Noise Conspiracy
Cosmic Highway by Les Claypool's Frog Brigade
Bubba's Truck by Key
Days of Rain by Bob Mould
Movie Star by The Grabs

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling by Frank Patterson
Thousands Are Sailing by The Pogues
Forty Deuce by Black 47
Come Out Ye Black and Tans by The Wolfe Tones
The Women of Ireland/The Morning Dew by The Chieftains
Molly Malone by Sinead O'Connor
The Dirty Glass by The Dropkick Murphys

Tura Lura Lural by The Band with Van Morrison
Black Velvet Band by The Irish Rovers
Whiskey in the Jar by The Dubliners
Rambling Irishman by The Oyster Band
Carrickfergus by Van Morrison & The Chieftains
There Were Roses by Maloney, Keane & O'Connell
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Gov. Bill Richardson, as reported by my colleague Dave Miles, is calling on New Mexicans to suggest design ideas for the state quarter, to be minted in 2007.

"From pueblo potters to Santa Fe painters, we know how to create amazing images," Richardson said. ... his preferred design would be something similar to the state's float in the Rose Bowl parade this past January, which featured an adobe-style church, chile ristras, Indians and Buffalo Soldiers,"

Don't forget the flamenco dancers ...

I liked this line in Dave's article:

Although the governor appeared on the float, he said he would not want to have his mug grace New Mexico's quarter.

Of course, Richardson originally said he wouldn't ride on the Rose Bowl float.

This state quarter business reminded me of an article in Slate back in 2002, one headlined "The State Quarters: Why are they so ugly?"

Most of the designs, usually chosen by a state commission appointed by the governor, are boring, timid, and cluttered—evidence of all that can go wrong when art is created by committee. They are also surprisingly revealing about the peculiar, parochial ways that states view themselves. ...

The quarters fall into three main categories: the single icon, the kitschy collage, and the tableau (or the good, the bad, and the ugly). The five collage quarters resemble '50s souvenir plates.

My money is on a collage-style quarter for New Mexico.

Though Richardson cautioned against trying to cram too many icons on a tiny quarter, I'm betting on unabashed clutter.

Many will want to include representations of the three largest cultures in New Mexico -- which most likely means a conquistador, an Eagle Dancer and a cowboy. Albuquerque probably will lobby hard for a hot-air balloon -- which might have to share the sky with a Virgin Galactic spaceship. The Zia symbol's got to be in there somewhere, and to symbolize Los Alamos, an atom symbol (that's so much more tasteful than a mushroom cloud). And don't forget the roadrunner, the yucca, maybe a Georgia O'Keeffe datura flower, and how about some bats flying out of Carlsbad Caverns?

If it was up to me, I'd keep it simple -- and a little surreal. Maybe a fat koshare eating a watermelon with a jackalope at his feet.

If you've got your own ideas, CLICK HERE for the official for information on how to submit it.

Remember, the deadline is May 12.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Friday, March 10, 2006
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
You Are My Sunshine by Ray Charles
Aftermath U.S.A. by The Drive-By Truckers
Ghosts of Hallelujah by The Gourds
Back to Black by Terry Allen
Wild Things by Scott Miller
Oklahoma Bound by Joe West
Seeds and Candy by Boris & The Saltlicks
Caves of Burgundy by Tribolite

Naked Light of Day by Jesse Taylor with The Flatlanders
Drugstore Rock 'n' Roll by Janis Martin
Wasted My Time by Eric Hisaw
Politics of the Dead by Hundred Year Flood
The Song of a Hundred Toads by The Handsome Family
Don't Be Afraid of the Neocons by Norman & Nancy Blake
He's Coming to Us Dead by Ralph Stanley
Big Time Annie's Square/I'd Rather Be Gone by Merle Haggard

Big Al Anderson Set
Love Make a Fool of Me by Big Al
It Was an Accident by NRBQ
Under the Hood by Big Al
Movin' Into the Light by Big Al
A Better Word For Love by NRBQ
Ridin' in My Car by NRBQ
Trip Around the Sun by Big Al with Kim Richey

Pastor Absent on Vacation by Porter Wagoner
Blowin' in the Wind by Dolly Parton
You Ain't Goin' Nowhere by The Mekons
Faded Love by The Pine Valley Cosmonauts with Anna Fermin
Pilgrim's Progress by Kris Kristofferson
Carmelita by Danny Santos
Lift Him Up, That's All by Washington Phillips
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

Friday, March 10, 2006


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
March 10, 2006

Quitting NRBQ was “the second-best thing I ever did,” said guitarist/singer/songwriter “Big Al” Anderson.

This only begs the question: what was the best thing he ever did?

“Being in it.”

Anderson’s career with NRBQ — that eclectic, eccentric, highly influential though commercially underachieving band whose full name, New Rhythm and Blues Quartet, hardly does it justice — spanned 22 years and a dozen or so albums.

In recent years Anderson has earned his living as a songwriter, penning tunes for Carlene Carter, George Jones, Vince Gill, the Allman Brothers, the Mavericks, Patty Loveless, Jimmy Buffett, Trisha Yearwood, LeAnn Rimes, and others.

He’s also a noted sideman, playing guitar in recordings by Jerry Lee Lewis and the Highwaymen (Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson).

Now he’s stepping into the spotlight again. Sony Legacy has licensed and just released his solo album After Hours.

No sweat: “Big Al” isn’t as big as he used to be. Though still towering well over 6 feet tall, he’s slimmed down considerably since he was known as “300 Pounds of Twangin’ Steel and Sex Appeal.”

He’s a part-time Santa Fe resident, splitting his time between Nashville, Tenn., and his La Tierra home, where he moved with his wife, Maryanne Hill, four years ago.

“I love it here,” Anderson said in a recent lunchtime interview at Tia Sophia’s. “I don’t interact with people much.”

He first came to Santa Fe one summer night in the 1980s when NRBQ played Club West. “It was 90 degrees, and I wasn’t sweating,” he recalled.

About six years ago, Anderson said, country singer Hal Ketchum, who was living in Tesuque, invited him to come out and write some songs. Later he came to Santa Fe to write songs with another country artist, Jeffrey Steele.

“I was shopping at Albertsons and saw a real-estate book,” Anderson recalled. “I went out to look at one house, and 40 houses later, I moved here from Connecticut.”

Red Roof Inn & the Waffle House: Anderson was born in Windsor, Conn., in 1947. His first successful band was called the Wildweeds, who were signed with Vanguard Records in the mid-’60s. He joined NRBQ in 1971, but he already had been a fan of the band. His predecessor, Steve Ferguson, is the best guitarist the group ever had, and their 1969 first album is still their best, Anderson insists.

“I learned all about music,” he said. “Anything went. You had to learn about everything.” NRBQ is famous for mixing basic American roots music with highly crafted pop, modern jazz, children’s music, and just about anything else that popped into band members’ heads. “It had its own set of walls, but the room was a lot bigger than anyone else’s, that’s for sure,” Anderson said.

Anderson’s contributions were immeasurable. “Ridin’ in My Car,” perhaps the loveliest automobile song this side of Brian Wilson, was his, as were the neo-rockabilly “It Comes to Me Naturally” and the wickedly funny “It Was an Accident,” just to name a few.

But he called it quits after a gig at Tramps in New York. “It was New Year’s, so don’t know if I quit in ’93 or ’94,” he said. “It was actually a split with no words,” he recalled. “I just told Joey [Spampinato, NRBQ’s bassist] that I’d probably split. There was nothing really wrong. It just stopped growing for me.”

Touring life became tedious for him. “The Red Roof, the Waffle House ... ” he said, referring to fixtures of the rock ’n’ roll road-warrior lifestyle. He also spoke not so fondly about his normal preshow intake of “half a gram of cocaine and half a quart” of booze back in the daze.

Not long before he quit, Anderson got a taste of songwriting success outside the band. “Every Little Thing” by former Tesuque resident Carlene Carter was co-written by Anderson.

Solo Al: Since leaving NRBQ, Anderson has released two solo albums, 1996’s roadhouse romp Pay Before You Pump and, eight years later, the quieter, more reflective After Hours.

I initially compared After Hours to the latter-day work of Charlie Rich — the slow, jazzy “Love Make a Fool of Me” and “Two Survivors” would have fit in fine on Rich’s Pictures and Paintings, as would “Better Word for Love,” a song Anderson previously recorded with NRBQ.

Then there’s “Just Another Place I Don’t Belong,” which sounds like the lovechild of Nick Lowe and Stax stalwart Dan Penn. “In My Dreams” has verses that sound like Western swing, though the chorus, with its NRBQ-y jazz chords, suggests greater depths. And “Blues About You Baby,” co-written with Delbert McClinton, shows Anderson hasn’t forgotten good old roots rock.

Originally this was a self-released effort, for sale only on Anderson’s Web site. “I think I sold 500 or 600 and gave away about 1,000 copies,” he said. “I lost interest in hustling.”

Eventually the album got the attention of Sony/BMG honchos, who, hopefully, will hustle the CD for him.

A place where there is no music: An interview in Massachusetts’ Daily Hampshire Gazette late last year noted that “when he is in Santa Fe he isn’t part of a music scene. ‘It’s good to be in a place where there is no music when I’m done with makin’ it,’ said Anderson.”

“Well, it’s not like Nashville,” he said when I asked about the comment.

Anderson said he’s been thinking about bringing a little music to Santa Fe, perhaps flying in some of his songwriting partners to the city for shows. But one gets the idea that this town is a place for rest and getting away from it all for Anderson.

And while he’s gearing up for some publicity gigs for After Hours, including a showcase at South by Southwest Music and Media Conference in Austin, Texas, next week, Anderson seems to prefer his life as a behind-the-scenes songwriter.

That might preclude any further work with NRBQ. While he played at the group’s 35th anniversary in 2004, when asked if he’d play a 40th reunion, Anderson said, “That’s a good question.”

It was one he didn’t answer.

Big Al on the radio: Hear my favorite “Big Al” songs from his solo albums and with NRBQ tonight, March 10, on The Santa Fe Opry on KSFR, 90.7 FM. The show starts at 10 p.m. and the “Big Al” show will start at 11 p.m.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
March 9, 2006

A news release from the Governor’s Office on Wednesday promised “a plague of zombies,” “ferocious monsters”, murder, mayhem, “creepy events” and “Living Hell.”

No, Gov. Bill Richardson wasn’t announcing a special session of the Legislature.

This was an announcement of four low-budget horror/suspense films to be shot in New Mexico this spring and summer.

The movies are part of a package by a Hollywood company called Odd Lot Entertainment — actually, according to Variety, a subsidiary of Odd Lot called Dark Lot will produce these films.

Each one has a budget of about $3.5 million, according to Richardson’s film-industry point man, Eric Witt. The productions, he said, will employ about 400 New Mexicans.

The state Investment Council already has agreed to give interest-free loans for two of these films. Each will get $3.4 million from the state.

The four cinematic jewels announced Wednesday are:

* Wanted: Undead or Alive: This is a good old cowboys ‘n’ zombies flick. In the synopsis provided by the Fourth Floor, “When Wild West misfits Elmer Winslow and Luke Budd rob the corrupt sheriff of a dusty Western town, they have no idea a plague of zombies is sweeping the country. In a bizarre turn of events, Geronimo’s sultry niece may hold the key to their survival.” According to the horror-movie Web site, this will be a comedy. The dusty Western town will be played by Bonanza Creek Ranch south of Santa Fe.

* Living Hell: “Mild-mannered schoolteacher Frank Sears is mystified by the bizarre tattoo his mother gave him as a child — right before she committed suicide. Desperate to unlock its meaning, Frank’s quest leads him to a top secret Cold War military project where he unwittingly unleashes an unstoppable organism.” (Boy, I misread that word the first time!) This will be shot at Santa Fe’s old main-prison facility and in and around Belen.

* Zero Dark Thirty: “When Andy, a U.S. Army soldier, returns from active duty in the Middle East, his once-tranquil hometown is racked by a string of strange and violent events.” This will be filmed at the old prison and in Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

* Buried Alive: “A gang of sorority buddies play a prank by leaving fellow college students in an abandoned hunting cabin. Creepy events unfold and the local groundskeeper winds up dead.” The filming location hasn’t been determined, Witt said.

Asked whether the “sorority buddies” reference was a mistake, Witt had a two-word reply: “Brokeback Zombies.”

Pork for Peace: There will be zombies in the summer and peaceniks in the fall.

Richardson on Wednesday announced that he’d vetoed nearly $270 million in spending. But one thing that apparently did survive was $300,000 earmarked in the capital-outlay bill for a world-peace conference in Santa Fe next September.

The conference money was sponsored by Sen. Shannon Robinson, the “Bull Moose” Democrat from Albuquerque, who last year secured another $120,000 for the conference.

Clarissa Duran, director of volunteers for the September conference, said Wednesday that there will be a meeting next week for those wanting to volunteer. That will begin at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the State Archives and Records Building on Camino Carlos Rey. Duran’s number is 929-3825.

Wings of Justice: Richardson is the latest recipient of the “Wings of Justice” award from, a liberal Web site. Richardson’s support and signing of the “paper-ballots” bill — which will require paper-ballot voting machines to be used in every county in the state — won him the weekly award.

The centrist governor joins other recent winners, which include many left-wing icons like the late Rosa Parks, newspaper columnist Molly Ivins, peace activist Daniel Ellsberg, Democracy Now host Amy Goodman and David Letterman.

David Letterman?

The late-night talk-show host won his wings by telling Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly, “to his face, that 60 percent of what he says is crap.”

Name that anonymous source: The irreverent political blog Wonkette on Tuesday invited its readers to name the anonymous Democratic governor who was quoted in The Washington Post criticizing national Democratic Party strategy.

The Post quote:
“They want to coordinate. They want to collaborate. That’s all good,” said one Democratic governor who declined to be identified in order to talk candidly about a closed-door meeting. “The question is: Coordinate or collaborate on what? People need to know not just what we’re against but what we’re for. That’s the kind of message the governors are interested in developing at the national level.”
The blogster concluded, “to the extent that there’s ever a correct response, it sounds like the answer to today’s quiz was ‘Bill Richardson.’ ”

Richardson, who has made similar on-the-record statements in the past, on Wednesday denied he was the unnamed source.

One Wonkette reader described Richardson as “a gabby ex-Clinton Administration cabinet member who’s still probably on the Rolodex of a lot of reporters in this town. ...

Until a few months back, Richardson was making the rounds in D.C., trying to build up support for a 2008 White House bid but revelations that he really, really exaggerated the bit in his bio about being a baseball player appear to have sunk that.”

Tell that to the citizens of New Hampshire celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with the governor of New Mexico next week.

Another reader said, “I’m thinking it’s Bill Richardson, strictly based on my gut reaction that the person in question sounds completely exasperated, which is Bill’s default setting. Also, I can totally hear him saying ‘that’s all good.’ He probably tries to impress the youngsters on his staff by using ‘hip’ lingo, like ‘it’s all good’ and ‘I’m down with that.’ And more practically, he’s going to try and run in 2008 as an outsider, against the Democratic party. Yeah, good luck with that.”

Monday, March 06, 2006


Sunday, March 5, 2006
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M.
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
It's Not Unusual by Tom Jones
Unwed Mother by Johnny Dowd
Green-Eyed Lady by Thinking Fellers Union Local 282
Shoot Doris Day by Super Fury Animals
The Worm by Audioslave
Tangled Up in Plaid by Queens of the Stone Age
Weather Box by Mission of Burma
Best Thing by Bob Mould
Closer by Richard Cheese

If You Could Hear My Mother Pray by The Staple Singers
Get Right Church by The Rev. Gary Davis
I Know I've Been Changed by John Hammond, Jr. with Tom Waits
The Bush is Burning by Corey Harris
Done Got Old by Buddy Guy
Love Bones by Johnnie Taylor
Runaway Child Runnin' Wild by The Temptations
Love Letters Straight From Your Heart by Kitty Lester

Act Naturally by Buck Owens & Ringo Starr
It'll Chew You Up and Spit You Out by Concrete Blonde
Tinsel Town Rebellion by Frank Zappa
Tiffany Anastasia Lowe by June Carter Cash
Martin Scorcese by King Missile
Celluloid Heroes by The Kinks
My Beloved Movie Star by Stan Ridgway

Tutti Fruiti by Kultur Shock
Out of What by Frank London's Klezmer Brass All Stars
It's the Day of Atonement 2001 by Dayna Kurtz
Trouble Ahead by The Grabs
Did Everybody Just Get Old by Graham Parker & The Figgs
A Loving Tribute to My City by Mark Eitzel
A Better Word for Love by Big Al Anderson
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Saturday, March 04, 2006


I was nearly a no-show last night for No-Show Jones.

Nobody's fault but mine. I'd never been to Isletta Pueblo Casino before and I didn't realize it was off the Broadway exit off I-25. I figured it was further south ... so I ended up in Los Lunas. Then I turned around, turned off at the Isletta Pueblo exit and ended up on South Coors, exploring the rural splendor of the Albuquerque's South Valley. By the time we got the casino, Jones had been onstage for about 30 minutes.

Yes, I'm an idiot.

George Jones in his prime probably had the best voice in country music -- male or female, living or dead.

But last night there were signs that the magnificent soul-piercing instrument is going. He seemed hoarse and he wasn't making all the high notes and sometimes he seemed flat.

Still, a fading Possum is more soulful than 98 percent of the competition. He did wonderful versions of "A Picture of Me Without You" "Golden Ring" and, of course, "He Stopped Loving Her Today."

His version of "Who's Going to Fill Their Shoes" would have been more moving had the audience not applauded wildly almost every time another picture of a dead country star flashed on the screen behind the band.

I enjoyed "The Blues Man," a song written by Hank Williams, Jr. that's on his latest album. (He duets with Dolly Parton on the record. Last night Dolly's part was filled by his tour singer Sherri Copeland, who stood in for Tammy on "Golden Ring.")

I was even more impressed with "50,000 Names," a song about the Vietnam memorial wall. I like this nearly as much as Iris DeMent's "There's a Wall in Washington." I was hoping that Jones would follow "50,000 Names" with "Wild Irish Rose," which is about the death of a homeless Vietnam vet.

He sang a bunch of his hits. "The Window Up Above" started out nicely, but after the verse, it became apparent that this was just part of a medley with "The Grand Tour" and (I think ... don't hold me to this) "Walk Through This World With Me." He also did a too-short version of "White Lightning."

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to talk with George about our business deal he was proposing a couple of months ago.


Since I went to the concert, I had Laurell sit in for The Santa Fe Opry last night. She was nice enough to e-mail me her play list:

Buck Owens- Buckaroo

Iris Dement- Wasteland of the Free
I'll Take My Sorrow Straight
Emmylou Harris- Heaven Only Knows
Jeannie Sealy- Don't Touch Me
Sir Douglas Quintet- Texas Me
Nuevo Laredo
Merle Haggard-It's Not Love But It's Not Bad
Somewhere Between
John Prine- I Guess They Ought To Name a Drink After You
Loretta Lynn- Honky Tonk Girl
Townes Van Zandt- Waitin' Around To Die
John Hartford- Turn Your Radio On
Hank Williams- Lovesick Blues
Rose Maddox and Vern Williams- Let Those Brown Eyes Smile at Me
Grateful Dead- Operator
Allman Brothers- Ain't Wastin' Time No More
Bob Dylan- You Ain't Goin' Nowhere
Country Pie
Carl Smith-Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way

John Anderson- Seminole Wind
Kate and Anna McGarrigle- Goin' Back To Harlan
Heart Like a Wheel
America- A Horse With No Name
Cowboy-Pretty Friend
Bread- Make It With You
Eagles- Most Of Us Are Sad
Linda Ronstadt- Birds

Neil Young- Love Is a Rose
Emperor Of Wyoming
Michael Hurley-Lean On Me
Johnny Cash- The Beast In Me
George Jones- He Stopped Loving Her Today
Roy Orbison- Love Hurts
Randy Scruggs- Both Sides Now

Comin' Down- Meat Puppets

Friday, March 03, 2006


I actually saw this band with my daughter and a friend of hers at CBGBs when we went to New York in the late '90s.

Seems that the campus cops at Ohio University got a little jumpy when they saw a bicycle with a sticker for the Florida group This Bike is a Pipe Bomb.

My favorite line in the news account below is the college dean who "urged students to be more careful when showing support for the band ..."

I'll play a song by them on Sunday's Sound World.

Between this and the terrorist Morrissey getting questioned by The FBI, these are difficult times.

From the Associated Press:

ATHENS, Ohio (AP) — A sticker on a bicycle that said "this bike is a pipe bomb" caused a scare Thursday at Ohio University that shut down four buildings before authorities learned the message was the name of a punk rock band, a university spokesman said.

The sticker on the bike chained outside the university-owned Oasis restaurant near the center of campus attracted the attention of a police officer about 5:30 a.m., spokesman Jack Jeffery said.

Police blocked streets around the restaurant and the Columbus police bomb squad came from about 65 miles away.

The bomb experts hit the bike with a high-pressure spray of water, then pried it apart with a hydraulic device normally used to rescue accident victims trapped in cars, acting Athens Fire Chief Ken Gilbraith said. Once they had it open, they saw there was no bomb.

The buildings, including some classroom facilities, were reopened after a couple hours.

Dean of Students Terry Hogan urged students to be more careful when showing support for the band from Pensacola, Fla.

University police interviewed the bike's owner then released him, Jeffery said. Police are still investigating.

An e-mail seeking comment was sent to Plan-It-X Records, listed on a Web site for the band as its record label. The label does not have a published phone number.


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
March 3, 2006

Norman and Nancy Blake do what they do best on their latest album, Back Home in Sulphur Springs -- simple but irresistible interpretations of old-time rural Southern tunes.

There are songs about ramblin' and jail, sentimental reflections on happy little homes and the fair, sad-eyed sweethearts that singers always tend to leave there, even a couple of shipwreck ballads.

And Chattanooga-born Norman Blake is still one of the finest old-time country pickers operating today. His arsenal -- including guitar, dobro, mandolin, and fiddle -- has the voice of a hillbilly sage. When he sings, you can almost imagine him personally witnessing the past 200 years of southern history.

But there's an edge to this album, a hard-nosed reminder that while the Blakes might exalt the little cabin home and sunny Southern mornings, they are truly citizens of 21st-century America.

It's first apparent in the third track, "He's Coming to Us Dead," the story of a father whose son is killed in a war. The grief-stricken old man warns the soldiers who help unload the casket: "He broke his poor old mother's heart, her sayings all came true/She said this is the way that he'd come back when he joined the boys in blue."

Although the scene obviously is relevant today, the quaint trappings of the train and the telegraph office give away the fact that the song dates back -- at least -- to the late 1920s.

The credits on this album say the song is "traditional." However, many people credit "He's Coming to Us Dead" to G.B. Grayson and Henry Whitter, "first wave" country stars who recorded it in the late '20s.

"He's Coming to Us Dead" is making a "comeback" of sorts. The 1966 version by folkie faves The New Lost City Ramblers appears on the recently released Classic Railroad Songs on the Smithsonian Folkways label. The liner notes for that CD say the song originally was published in 1899 by Gussie Davis, a black songwriter who also is credited for "Goodnight Irene."

What's remarkable about the song is that there are no words about patriotism, heroism, or duty to your country -- just death and grief and broken hearts.

But in case there's any question about where the Blakes' politics lie, you can find the answer in the CD's "hidden" track, a protest song called "Don't Be Afraid of the Neocons," which names names, points fingers, and generally goes far beyond the Dixie Chicks in criticizing the Bush administration -- singing about Iraq, Cindy Sheehan, Hurricane Katrina, and Dick Cheney's underground bunker. But the outrage in the lyrics is leavened by Norman's gentle hillbilly humor.

"Now Georgie Bush he is the man/He landed in Afghanistan. 'We'll get Osama,' was his crack/And now we're stranded in Iraq...."

There's even a verse about the president's fondness for Saudi royalty: "Now Georgie, he is kind and meek/He kissed the king upon the cheek/They walked the garden hand in hand/While the oil and blood dripped on the sand."

"Neocons" reminds me of those historical ballads still sung today about the Garfield assassination or the sinking of the Titanic -- not to mention the fine Irish tradition of antiwar songs.

The chorus appeals to a traditional backwoods loathing of government that predates any person or event in the song: "Don't send your money to Washington/to fight a war that's never done/Don't play their games, don't be their pawns/and don't be afraid of the neocons." This protest only strengthens Nancy's sweet mandolin version of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

And come to think of it, what's with those shipwreck songs? There's not one but two on this album. "The Mermaid" is a traditional song with a theme going back to Homer (no, not of Homer and Jethro). "The Empress of Ireland," written by Patty Bryan, is about a tragedy that occurred on the St. Lawrence River in the spring of 1914, when the Empress of Ireland collided with a Norwegian ship, the Storstad. More than 1,000 died.

In the American folk tradition, shipwreck songs are often allegories for divine retribution against vain and corrupt societies. "God moves on the water!" went the chorus of one popular Titanic ballad.

Do I sense a subtle metaphor at work here?

Also recommended

* Old Time Black Southern String Band Music by Butch Cage & Willie B. Thomas. This is nothing but party music -- well, at least the way they used to have parties in the rural South in the days before stereos.

Recorded back in 1960 by folklorist Harry Oster, Cage and Thomas were part-time Louisiana musicians who earned extra cash by playing for dances, parties, and sometimes even church services. Both men died in the 1970s.

Amazingly, this is the first time most of these tracks have been released.

Cage played fiddle while Thomas played guitar. Both sang -- sometimes in unison, sometimes practically tripping over each other. The result is a rough, spontaneous, good-time sound that makes a listener wish he'd been invited to some of those parties.

There are some familiar songs here: "Since I Laid My Burden Down" (sometimes called "Glory Glory"), "Ain't Gonna Rain No More," Misspi Fred McDowell's "You Gotta Move," and "Careless Love," one of those great American tunes that's been traded back and forth between the races so much that its genealogy doesn't even matter.

Other notable songs are "Rock Me Mama" (featuring Cage's finest fiddle work on the album), "The Dirty Dozens" (the "shake-your-yas-yas-yas" lyrics at that time were considered risqué), and "The Piano Blues," which is 100 percent pianoless.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
March 2, 2006

What do you do when you’re the governor and you’ve already filled the executive branch’s 647 exempt positions, but you’ve still got friends, political supporters and their relatives who need work?

According to a report by KRQE Channel 13 investigative reporter Larry Barker, when you’re Gov. Bill Richardson, you just create new jobs “out of thin air.”

So what’s the big deal? Didn’t Richardson promise to create lots of new jobs?

“The practice is so common that state agencies have coined a name for it,” Barker said. “When the governor sends a new hire down to claim a job that doesn’t exist, they call it ‘a gift from the North.’”

Under state policy, departments can hire temporary exempt employees for periods for no more than three months. The governor must approve any extension of that period.

But, Barker said, there’s no evidence that Richardson ever approved extensions for these “temporary” employees. According to the report, the extensions were done informally with no paper trail.

One state senator calls the practice “illegal.” The administration denies any wrongdoing.
Whatever the case, it’s bound to be an issue in the upcoming campaign. Even before Barker had run his report Wednesday night, the state Republican Party was sending mass e-mails touting the segment “on Bill Richardson and his abject cronyism.”

That "C word" is popping up more frequently in GOP statements about the governor. Of course, state Democrats have been using the same word to try to link U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson to the Washington, D.C., lobbyist scandals.

The gift catalog: Among those “gifts from the North” featured in Barker’s report:

* Ed Stapleton, husband of House Majority Whip Sheryl Williams Stapleton, D-Albuquerque, makes $40,000 annually as a racing clerk at the state Racing Commission. The racing-clerk position actually was occupied by another employee. That person got to keep her job, but she only makes $26,000 a year.

* Steve Gallegos, a former Albuquerque city councilor and Bernalillo County commissioner, was paid $83,000 to be legislative liaison for the state Transportation Department. Gallegos resigned this week to run in the Democratic primary for the seat now held by incumbent Public Regulation Commissioner Lynda Lovejoy, who cannot seek re-election.

* Randy Romero, brother of former ambassador and Richardson ally Ed Romero, gets paid $62,000 for a “temporary” exempt job at the Labor Department.

* Former state Rep. Bennie Aragon — who is the uncle of former state Senate powerhouse Manny Aragon — is paid more than $55,000 as “special projects coordinator” for Expo New Mexico (formerly known as the State Fair).

* Democratic political consultant Harry Pavlides got a $42,000 secretarial job at Expo New Mexico.

* After Richardson appointed Sharon Maloof — part of the influential Maloof family — to be deputy tourism secretary, he created a $74,000 position for another deputy secretary to handle the budget and administration of the department.

The way it works: State Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, said on camera the practice is illegal. McSorley estimated as many as 65 jobs were created by the administration in this manner.

“This is not the way government should work, but unfortunately, this is the way it has worked,” McSorley said.

Former Gov. Gary Johnson told Barker he never made such hires during his administration.

“I would just suggest that today you got a whole new layer of upper-level bureaucrats that are getting in the way of state employees doing their jobs,” Johnson said. “Which is significant. This is not insignificant.”

Richardson’s chief of staff defended the practice. “They are clearly qualified for the jobs they are doing in these agencies,” Dave Contarino told Barker. “If there are misclassifications that do not accurately reflect those jobs, then we will have to deal with that. But they are working every day doing the jobs that their Cabinet secretary (has) tasked for them under the governor’s direction.”

We thought he was primping: Last week The Drudge Report offered a sneak preview of a new political book, Strategery by Bill Sammon. The book quotes Bush political guru Karl Rove predicting that Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., will capture the 2008 Democratic nomination for president but will lose in the general election.

According to Drudge, Rove says “the ‘hard-driving’ Clinton will easily vanquish Democratic primary rivals like Richardson and former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, who are merely ‘preening for the vice presidential slot.’ ”

Correction notice: This column originally said that Steve Gallegos would run against incumbent PRC member Lynda Lovejoy. Actually Lovejoy can't seek re-eelction because she's serving her second term.


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