Sunday, December 31, 2006


Sunday, December 31, 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
Money Won't Change You by James Brown
Someday Baby by Bob Dylan
Good Bread Alley by Carl Hancock Rux
It Calls Me by Hazmat Modine with Huun Hunr Tu
Lookin' For a Leader by Neil Young
The Devil in Us All by Butch Hancock

Love You Still by Hundred Year Flood
Another Place I Don't Belong by Big Al Anderson
After We Shot the Grizzley by The Handsome Family
Flowers by Irma Thomas
Gunshow by Bobby Bare Jr.'s Young Criminal Starvation League
The Road to Gila Bend by Los Lobos
Flames Over Nebraska by Pere Ubu

Zoysia by The Bottle Rockets
I Feel Like Going Home by Yo La Tengo
Hangin' Johnny by Stan Ridgway
Teach Me Sweetheart by The Fiery Furnaces
That's How I Got To Memphis by Solomon Burke
Forty Dollars by The Twilight Singers
Heartaches and Grease by Ray Wylie Hubbard

The Gulag Orkestar/ Prenzlauerberg by Beirut
My Eyes/Worthless by Tony Gilkyson
Army Ants/Sea of Love by Tom Waits
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis


Friday, December 29, 2006


If you're listening to The Santa Fe Opry right now on KSFR , you're listening to an "emergency" show I recorded a few years ago. Yes, I chickened out of driving to the station at Santa Fe Community College because of the snow and icy roads.

It's a good show, though, so I do hope you're listening. Playing some Waco Brothers as I write this.

The emergency show has run a couple of times in the past, maninly when I get tied up on a Friday night late in a session of the Legislature.

I just found the playlist for most of the first set from a 2004 show where work made me late to get to the station. Check it HERE


Speaking of good music, Alan Ackoff just started a Santa Fe Music Blog. So far there's just one post -- about our mutual friend Bill Hearne. Do check it out.


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
December 29, 2006

It’s just a gut feeling at this point, but when compiling this list of top albums of 2006, I’m starting to think that the digital revolution in music has begun to take its toll on the album as an art form. Sure there was plenty of great music out there this year — there always is when you know where to look for it.

And yes, dear yuppies, the word is still album not CD. A CD is just the medium, while the album is a collection of songs in any medium, vinyl or not. Sorry, that’s just a pet peeve. My fear is that not only could CDs go extinct but albums as well.

An entire generation of music lovers is thinking in terms of individual downloads rather than the album. It’s as if the novel became obsolete, replaced by, well, chapters.

The truth is, nothing really stood out as “album-of-the-year” quality to me until Tom Waits released Orphans, his sprawling three-disc extravaganza. Funny thing is, this project holds together as a unified work — kind of like a three-ring circus — even though it started off as a collection of outtakes and stray songs from soundtracks, tribute albums, and other scattered projects.

So while we still have “albums,” let’s celebrate the best of them. Here are my favorites of 2006:

1. Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards by Tom Waits. His songs are dispatches from an archetypal shadow land of underdog America, a place where a nation’s dreams go to die — but where a thousand more dreams are born. He bellows skid-row serenades that seemingly spring from cheap back-alley dives, hobo jungles, storefront churches, and grimy bus stations. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll say, “What the hell was that?”

2. Goodbye Guitar by Tony Gilkyson. Most solo albums by sidemen only prove that most sidemen deserve to remain sidemen. But this album proves there are major exceptions to that rule. Gilkyson — a former member of X and Lone Justice — made an album in which all 11 songs are winners. It’s solid roots rock with some stomping honky-tonkers here and a magnificent dirge of self-loathing called “My Eyes.”

3. Gulag Orkestar by Beirut. Like Gilkyson, Zach Condon is a former Santa Fe resident who slipped the surly bonds of New Mexico. While most American musicians his age are inspired by punk rock or hip-hop, Condon was set aflame by the soundtracks of Eastern European movies and the Balkan brass bands he heard while bumming around overseas. He created a unique sound with slightly off-kilter trumpets, accordion, rat-a-tat drums and — for reasons not explained — a ukulele. Not to mention his vocals, which sound far too world-weary for a 20-year-old.

4. Snake Farm by Ray Wylie Hubbard. Here’s a bluesy stomp-dance of a record, heavy on slide guitar and raunchy licks. With Hubbard’s songs of reptile ranches, God, the devil, heartaches, damnation, and redemption, it’s spiritual in its own peculiar way, almost like the Book of Revelation as interpreted by Hank Williams and Howlin’ Wolf.

5. Powder Burns by The Twilight Singers. Like Greg Dulli’s best work, the sound is big — guitars, keyboards, and drums work into crescendos — and he works his voice into inspired frenzies. Sometimes, you don’t notice that he’s been screaming until the song starts to fade.

6.Nashville by Solomon Burke. This is something of a country homecoming for Burke, who was cutting soul versions of country songs nearly a half-century ago. “That’s How I Got to Memphis,” the classic Tom T. Hall song sounds as if it was written for Burke. And on Gillian Welch’s “Valley of Tears,” he sings like a condemned man contemplating the lethal-injection table.

7. Bitter Tea by The Fiery Furnaces. While the Furnaces don’t really sound like anyone else, you could spend an afternoon trying to trace the influences. The music changes from song to song — and often several times within a song. Electronic madness bounces off an old-timey tack piano. Sugar-pie-honey-bunch Motown hooks slither below. Eleanor Friedberger’s voice seems like an earthly anchor for a ship tossed into a stormy, unpredictable musical sea.

8. Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, & Chanteys by various artists (produced by Hal Willner). How could I not include an album featuring wild and rasty tunes by Nick Cave, Richard Thompson, Lou Reed, and Stan Ridgway? It even has Pere Ubu’s David Thomas croaking “What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor?” But the most gloriously obscene and most hilarious “pirate” song here is Loudon Wainwright III’s “Good Ship Venus.”

9. I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Kick Your Ass by Yo La Tengo. Yo La happily is all over the place, strolling down some strange avenues of pop sounds. Sometimes the group sounds like Sonic Youth, sometimes closer to Fleetwood Mac. Actually Yo La reminds me of a lo-fi, punkier version of NRBQ.

10. Zoysia by The Bottle Rockets. The title is a type of grass used in suburban lawns, fittingly because the image of suburban lawns is at the metaphorical center of this album by Brian Henneman and his trusty band of blue-collar rockers. It’s a loose-knit concept album about yearning for normalcy and moderation — yearnings not normally associated with rock ’n’ roll. But in these strife-ridden times, Henneman makes it sound attractive.

Honorable Discharge
* Why I Hate Women by Pere Ubu
* Last Days of Wonder by The Handsome Family
* The Longest Meow by Bobby Bare Jr.
* Good Bread Alley by Carl Hancock Rux
* Blue Angel by Hundred Year Flood
* After the Rain by Irma Thomas
* After Hours by Big Al Anderson
* The Town and The City by Los Lobos
* Modern Times by Bob Dylan
* Bahamut by Hazmat Modine

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Our governor has yet to make a splash in the polls of four early primary/caucus states, according to the latest from the New Hampshire-based American Research Group.

As you'll see HERE, Richardson is polling at one percent in Iowa, South Carolina and even in New Mexico's kinda neighbor, Nevada. In New Hampshire he's at 2 percent. That means he's made basically no traction there so far despite his numerous visits in the past year and a half. At this point he's even being outpolled by Dennis Kucinich.

Hillary Clinton is leading the Democrats in all four states, including South Carolina and Iowa, which are supposed to be John Edwards strongholds.

On the GOP side, Rudy Guiliani and John McCain dominate in all four states. McCain's ahead in South Carolina, which was his Waterloo in 2000.

The good news for Richardson -- and the other single-digit pack -- is that the primaries are still a year away.


By the way, if you haven't guessed already, I'm off work this week, so there's no Roundhouse Roundup today.

There will, however, be a Terrell's Tuneup tomorrow, where you'll see my picks for top albums of the year.

I'm doing both my radio shows this week -- The Santa Fe Opry on Friday night and Terrell's Sound World on New Year's Eve. I pre-recorded that one, which will feature selections from my top albums. Both shows start at 10 p.m. Mountain time and stream on KSFR.


Wonkette has an amusing "conspiracy theory" about the death of President Ford coming right on the heels of James Brown's passing. It's tied in with Ronald Reagan dying in 2004 right after Ray Charles -- obviously the work of an evil anti-soul cabal.

The whole thing takes me back to the glorious rant of Little Jack Horton, the circus midget and Charles Bukowski crony who served as narrator for Tom Russell's Hotwalker CD last year.

"You know, goddamn it, Ronald Reagan dies recently and they fly the flag half-mast. Well did they fly it half-mast for Ray Charles? Did they fly it half mast for Johnny Cash? Declare a national holiday? These people moved to changed the daily lives of more people than these goddam politicians, who are just grifters and scum... One nation under God and Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and Ray Charles, goddamn it!”

Monday, December 25, 2006


James Brown - Prisoner of Love/Please Please Please

It's just a grainy YOUTUBE clip, but here's nine minutes of James' T.A.M.I. show performance.

UPDATE: Jan. 14, 2007 .Thanks to Conrad for pointing out that the old link to this was kaput. I've put in a new valid link of the same clip.


I'm still stunned about the death of The Godfather.

I just located the story I did for The New Mexican when I saw James at the Pit in Albuquerque in 1999.

In James' memory:

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
October 7, 1999

ALBUQUERQUE During the middle of James Brown's concert at The Pit Tuesday, the singer known as The Hardest Working Man in Show Business spent a good deal of time in front of the drummers, his back turned to the audience.

Sometimes it looked as if he was conducting the band, but in the hands of the capable 14-piece outfit called The Soul Generals, the music seemed to take care of itself.

Sometimes it seemed as if Brown was spending that time recharging his psychic batteries. Every so often he'd turn around and let loose one of his patented shouts ``Hit me!'' or ``Good God, ya'll!'' or he'd do a little dance just a snapshot of the crazy-legged soul gymnastics he was capable of when he was but a young man, but it still drives a crowd wild.

Or maybe he was just contemplating the James Brownness of it all, the music giving rise to powerful memories.

Imagine the jumble of images passing through the mind of James Brown as the music plays. ``The Big Flashback'' he might call it, as he recalls shining shoes in front of that radio station he'd later own; Bobby Byrd; The Famous Flames, Please, Please, Please!; shaking off his cape in the T.A.M.I. Show movie back in the '60s and screaming for redemption; ``Maceo!'' (He's got a new sax player now and he's great too, but you know sometimes James still has to shout ``Maceo!''); stopping riots in smoldering ghettos of the '60s; Cold Sweat!; ``Spotlight on James Brown, ya'll! He's the King of them all, ya'll!''; embracing Nixon and ``Black Capitalism'' in '68; ``Hot Pants!''; trying to outrun the cops on that South Carolina highway; ``Hit me!''; Living in America!; all the stages, all the wives, all the drugs, the jails, all the music; ``It's Star Time....''

The Big Flashback. Good God, ya'll!
The Albuquerque audience consisted of 50-ish My Generation folk, some of whom brought their children; teens and young adults, many of whom came to know The King of Soul from samples on rap records; people dressed all swanky, as well as the T-shirt-and-jeans set; black, white, Hispanic and Indian.

There was something kind of sad about the fact that an ``oldies'' radio station was sponsoring Brown's Albuquerque show. Although indeed most of his ``hits'' are old enough to run for president, and even though he's 66 years old (some say more), and even though all but a smidgeon of his material Tuesday was from the '50s, '60s and 70s, nobody wants to think of James Brown as an oldie but goodie. At the very least, he's one of the great innovators of popular American music. And some of us believe he's a supernatural force offering a glimpse into a higher realm.

It didn't seem right that some cheeseball had sold advertising space and put banners for a local limousine company and some business called cyber-somethingorother on the stage of The Godfather of Soul.

But then again, James Brown has always been a big-time update of old Southern traveling burlesque revues or even medicine shows the warm-up numbers by the band, the seemingly worthless female singer who sang three boring songs just to add to the anticipation, the ritualistic ``Star Time!'' intro, the three sexy dancers who took the stage every so often Tuesday.

Heck, Brown even had a stage magician come out in the middle of the show to perform dumb tricks as the band vamped behind him. You almost expected him to start pitching King Flour biscuits or Doc VanDexter's Tizzic Tincture.

But the real magic was performed by Brown himself.

If he didn't play all the hits, he played enough to satisfy: "Cold Sweat," "It's A Man's Man's Man's World", "Try Me," "Pappa's Got a Brand New Bag" and the obligatory "I Got You (I Feel Good)," (which unfortunately has lost some of its power after years of use in floor wax commercials.) Once or twice he forsook the microphone to play an ultra-funky electric organ, a talent many didn't realize he had.

By the final tune an extended jam that started out as Sex Machine and built into a blast of undiluted cosmic funk he proved that James Brown is still Soul Brother Number One.


I just woke up to the news that the Godfather is dead.

Here's the L.A. Times story.

Here's the NPR story. Audio soon should be available.

He's one of the great ones folks. I became a fan first time I heard him on the radio. I became a fanatic when I saw him on the T.A.M.I. Show, which now, more than ever needs to be released on DVD.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


Sunday Dec. 24, 2006
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

Silent Night by Bad Religion
Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto by James Brown
Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto by Snoop Doggy Dog
Santa Doesn't Cop Out on Dope by Sonic Youth
Even Squeeky Fromme Loves Christmas by The Rev. Glen Armstrong
Run Rudolph Run by The Rev. Horton Heat
Egg Nog by The Rockin' Guys
Christmas Treat, Peppermint by The Sisterhood
Happy Birthday, Jesus by Little Cindy
Ao Tumhen Chand Pe by Asha Bhosle
Must Be Santa by Brave Combo
Oy to the World by The Klezmonauts
Sleigh Ride by The Squirrel Nut Zippers
Merry Christmas Elvis by Michelle Cody
Bkue Christmas by Elvis Presley
Little Drummer Boy by Joan Jett
Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy by Buck Owens

Christmas at K-Mart by Root Boy Slim & His Sex Change Band
BeBop Santa Claus by BeBop Santa Claus
I Don't Believe in Christmas by The Sonics
My Last Christmas by The Dirtbombs
Santa Came in on a Nuclear Missile by Heather Noel
We Wish You'd Bury the Mrs. by The Crypt Keeper
Father Christmas by The Kinks
Santa Claus Boogie by Hasil Adkins
I Wish You a Merry Christmas by Big Dee Irwin & Little Eva
Christmas Spirit by Julia Lee & Her Boyfriends
White Christmas by Otis Redding

Christmas is a Special Day by Fats Domino
Christmas Eve Can Kill You by The Everly Brothers
Nothing But a Child by Steve Earle & Maria McKee
Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon
Silent Night/What Christmas Means by Dion
Oh Holy Night by Brian Wilson
Star of Wonder by The Roches.


I almost forgot to post the Christmas CD reviews I did for Pasatiempo this week.

Some of these I've been playing on my radio shows the last few weeks.

And you can hear even more on my (pre-recorded) Steve Terrell Christmas Special on KSFR tonight 10 p.m. to midnight on KSRF, 90.7 FM. It'll be streaming HERE.

* Christmas in Jail by The Soul Deacons (CD single, self-released) No, this isn’t some dark-hearted Christmas wish from The Soul Deacons for their former manager, whom they are suing. Santa Fe’s favorite soul band is covering an old R & B novelty song for a good cause. Not only are they selling it as a single (backed with the sweet soul ballad “Next Time”), but they also struck a deal with New Mexico’s department of transportation to use it for an anti-DWI radio spot, which is swamping the state’s radio waves. Several people have recorded “Christmas in Jail” through the years, but unlike other Christmas novelties, it hasn’t been overdone. The oldest version I know is by an obscure R & B group called The Youngsters. (It’s on an old Rhino compilation called Bummed Out Christmas.) You also can find it by Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson on Redneck Christmas. (reviewed below) The song is a longtime holiday favorite for Brother E. Clayton and the boys. When I saw them last December, they played it twice. The crowd would have been happy with a third time. The Deacons’ version includes a comical rap between a couple of “jailbirds.” But my favorite part is bassist Jimmy Martinez’s sinister “Ho, ho, ho.”

*Redneck Christmas by Various Artists (Time Life) As you might expect with a collection like this, Redneck Christmas has its share of “hot new” country duds and hackneyed corn. Let’s just say, if I never hear Elmo and Patsy’s “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” again, my Christmas would not be any less merry. But what is surprising is how many good tunes — even a few great tunes — are here. There’s a wonderful, old (1957!) George Jones song, “A New Baby for Christmas,” a Yuletide trucker tune (Red Simpson’s “Truckin’ Trees for Christmas”), and some hilarity from hick hipsters Homer & Jethro (“All I Want for Christmas Is My Upper Plate”). My favorite new discovery is Texas singer Dale Watson’s “You Can Call Me Nick,” a politically edged song about meeting a mysterious stranger in a drunk tank on Christmas Eve. (“He looked like an immigrant, his skin was dark and tough/He couldn’t even name our president.”) One twisted touch: on both ends of this compilation are songs that are basically country variations of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” The disc starts with Buck Owens’ 1965 hit “Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy,” which contains that classic line: “If Santa Claus ain’t Daddy, then I’m gonna tell on them.” Buck and the Buckaroos were at the peak of their power about this time, and this song made the season even jollier. But on the other end of the album is “Santa Can’t Stay” by Dwight Yoakam, a darker version of this story that Yoakam first recorded for his 1997 Christmas album. On one level, the song — featuring an almost Phil Spector-esque production — is funny: a drunken father dons a red suit and barges in on Mama and her new boyfriend, Ray, as the mystified children look on. But any divorced parent who remembers that first holiday after the split-up can’t help but feel pangs of horror.

*Lou Rawls Christmas (Time Life) This, according to the liner notes, was the last album that Rawls — who died of cancer in January — recorded. He went down swinging. Recorded with a 10-piece band, Rawls romps through familiar, time-honored Christmas tunes. He even makes “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and “Come All Ye Faithful” — songs typically performed with an aura of piety — sound downright hip. You almost can imagine the shepherds and the wise men snapping their fingers along with these. And, backed only by piano and guitar, he brings out a bluesy side I’d never heard in “Jingle Bells.” There are a couple of missteps, though. Rawls is a little lackluster on Mel Torme’s “The Christmas Song.” And the pseudo-Latin beat doesn’t quite flow on “Joy to the World.” If he wasn’t already likable enough, the album ends with Rawls talking about Christmas memories — mainly about his grandmother’s cooking. “She could make a turkey do dances and dances. ... She knew everybody loved them sweet potato pies. That’s what Christmas was all about. Yeah, buddy!” All in all, it’s a classy effort by a singer who could belt out soul ballads with Sam Cooke and then turn around and do a convincing take on the Sinatra songbook.


Former New Mexico First Lady Dee Johnson, Gov. Gary Johnson's former wife, died unexpectedly last week, the family announced Saturday.

The cause of death isn't known.

There's more about it HERE and there will be more from reporter Natalie Storey in Sunday's New Mexican.

UPDATE: Natalie's article is HERE

Saturday, December 23, 2006


There's been a major break in the 2003 case of the Las Cruces murder that last year sparked major changes to the state's DNA collection laws.

Police in Las Cruces have arrested a suspect in the rape and murder of Katie Sepich, 20-year-old New Mexico State University who disappeared after a party at NMSU. The district attorney says Gabriel Adrian Avila, 27, has confessed.

Katie's parents, Dave and Jayann Sepich were at the Legisalture practically every day earlier this year lobbying for "Katie's Law," which requires law enforcement to collect DNA from all adults arrested for certain felonies. Currently DNA is collected only from those convicted of felonies. The law passed and was signed by the governor.

And, yes, DNA evidence is what led police to Avila -- although Katie's Law itself hasn't yet gone into effect.

Read the whole story HERE.


Friday, December 22, 2006
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
Santa Can't Stay by Dwight Yoakam
Rolling Stone by Neko Case
Red Red Wine and Cheatin' Songs by Marty Stuart
You're Still on My Mind by Jeff Leischer & Janet Beveridge Bean
My Idaho Home by Carolyn Mark
Rootin' Tootin' Santa Claus by Pee Wee King
Drinkin' Blues by Wayne Hancock
Based on Real Life by Artie Hill & The Long Daddies
Christmas on the Moon by Troy Hess

I'm in Misery by Hasil Adkins
Gravity Fails by Drive By Truckers
Withered Rose by Ramsay Midwood
Robin Sings at Midnight by Gurf Morlix
I'm Waiting For Santa Claus by Nervous Norvus
As Far As I Can Throw Her by John Egenes
If You Never Seen Her Smile by Jim Lauderdale
White Trash Christmas by The Buckerettes

Ain't Got You by Solomon Burke
Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor by Irma Thomas
What Would Jesus Do? by Chris Thomas King
If We Make It Through December by Merle Haggard
Cold and Bitter Tears by Ted Hawkins
$500 Car by Ed Pettersen
Little Ole Wine Drinker Me by Miss Leslie & The Juke Jointers
Cryin' Time by Dean Martin
Winter Wonderland by Leon Redbone

Old Toy Trains by Roger Miller
You Can Call Me Nick by Dale Watson
Got Your Name on It by Carrie Rodriguez
It's Different Now by Chip Taylor
Dreamboat by Eleni Mandell
Remain by Jon Dee Graham
No Vacancy by Marlee MacLeod
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

Friday, December 22, 2006


Alexander Cockburn of Counterpunch has a very interesting article about the great 911 Conspiracy in Le Monde diplomatique:

What do we make of Osama bin Laden taking credit for the attacks? That he is still on the CIA payroll? And so it goes, on and on into the murk. But to what end? To prove that Bush and Cheney are capable of almost anything? Even though they haven’t shown the slightest degree of competence in anything? They couldn’t even manufacture “weapons of mass destruction” after US troops had invaded Iraq, when any box labelled WMD would have been happily photographed by the embedded press as conclusive testimony of the existence of WMDs. ...

The Twin Towers didn’t fall down because they were badly built as a consequence of corruption, incompetence, regulatory evasions by the Port Authority and because they had been struck by huge planes loaded with jet fuel. No, shout the conspiracists, they pancaked because scores of Cheney’s agents methodically planted demolition charges in the days preceding 9/11: a conspiracy of thousands, all of whom have held their tongues ever since, despite being party to mass murder.
This proves it. Cockburn is one of them!


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
December 22, 2006

It seems only natural that Solomon Burke, the under-appreciated ’60s soul man, would record a top-notch country album. After all, way back when, as he was making the transition from gospel singer to R & B star, he first charted with a cover of a country song “Just Out of Reach (of My Two Empty Arms).” And one of his early hits was a high-charged take on “Down in the Valley.”

So Burke’s new album, Nashville, is something of a homecoming for the gentle giant. Produced by Buddy Miller, this is an album of country and country-flavored rock backed by some cool pickin’ Nashville cats — including Al Perkins on steel guitar, Sam Bush on fiddle and violin, and Miller on guitar. The album features several impressive duets with the likes of Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, and Pattys Loveless and Griffin.

It would have been an experience to be in the same room at the same time with Dolly and Solomon, such titans of American music. But Burke isn’t the type to be overwhelmed by mere mortal guest stars. It’s his vocal delivery that carries this album.

In fact, my favorite song here is the most stripped down — the opening cut, “That’s How I Got to Memphis.” This is a classic Tom T. Hall song. There are excellent covers of this tune by Kelly Willis and Miller. But, backed only by Miller’s acoustic guitar and Byron House’s stand-up bass, Burke makes the song his own. It sounds like a lonesome prayer.

But there are other breathtaking moments. The Dolly duet “Tomorrow Is Forever” is nice and churchy. Even prettier is Welch’s “Valley of Tears.” Gillian wrote the song, but she wisely keeps her background vocals low, letting Burke make love to the melody. “Everybody wants to send me down to the valley of tears,” he sings like a condemned man contemplating the lethal-injection table.

Burke seems to be having fun on this album. “You all done went hog crazy here,” Burke exclaims at the end of a riotous version of “Ain’t Got You,” (the Bruce Springsteen Tunnel of Love song) as the other people in the studio laugh. “What the heck was going on in this place here? Is you all got religion!”

But Nashville ends like it starts — on a somber note. “’Til I Get It Right” is a smooth countrypolitan-style song, complete with a string section. It’s about love, but on another level, it could be seen as a meditation on Burke’s career. “If I try my wings and try long enough, I’m bound to learn how to fly,” he moans.

He pretty much got this right.

Also recommended:
*After the Rain
by Irma Thomas. “My house is a lonely house, but it once was a happy house,” Thomas sings on the album’s first song, “In the Middle of It All.” When she sings this song, an old Arthur Alexander tune, it’s not just a metaphor. Thomas’ New Orleans house was severely damaged last year in the big storm.

The album was recorded in Louisiana a few months after Katrina. The liner notes insist that all but one of the songs were selected before the catastrophe — despite the words of the opening track and the obvious connection in the closing number, Stevie Wonder’s “Shelter in the Rain.”

But there is a song directly about the great hurricane. This is “Another Man Done Gone,” a rewrite of an old folk song. In its original form, this was a terrifying song about kidnappings and lynchings, sung by blacks of the rural South. But Thomas created new verses. “Another storm has come, the people on the run ... the water’s at his door, he couldn’t stay no more ... I didn’t know his name, so many fled that day ... another thousand gone, running away from home.” It’s a snarling rootsy blues rocker with Sonny Landreth on slide guitar and Dirk Powell on fretless banjo.

This album is full of great songs. There’s a down-home version of Skip James’ “Soul of a Man” (featuring a guest appearance by Corey Harris on guitar); an aching country weeper written by one of my current favorites Eleni Mandell (”Another Lonely Heart”); and even a sad DWI song, “Flowers.” Written by Kevin Gordon and Gwill Owen, “Flowers” has verses concerning the victims of a drunk-driving accident and one just as sad about the family of the killer drunk.

One of my favorites here is a cover of Nina Simone’s anthemic signature “I Wish That I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free.” This won’t replace Nina’s version in our hearts and souls, but Irma gives it her all. And that’s a lot.

(Photo of Irma Thomas from Robert Mugge's film New Orleans Music in Exile.)

*Rise by Chris Thomas King. King is another Louisiana artist personally affected by last year’s hurricanes. He lost his home in New Orleans. The album is full of tunes with titles like “Baptized in Dirty Water,” “Like a Hurricane (Ghost of Marie Laveau),” and “Flow Mississippi Flow.”

The first song — “What Would Jesus Do?” — is sung from the perspective of a man who’s seen his wife swept away in the flood. He’s starving but he’s having moral qualms about looting. “Standing outside of Walgreens with a stone in my hand, I ask myself would Jesus understand.”

King takes you right back to those days of “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job,” in the song “Faith.”

“President Bush flying around/Oh, looking down from us from the air/They say he pity the poor people/But does he really care?”

But the album ends on a strangely optimistic note — a sweet cover of Louis Armstrong’s pop classic “What a Wonderful World” without a trace of irony.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I got this e-mai from the first known Draft-Richardson group.

Amanda Cooper, Richardson's campaign manager (for governor! For Governor!) just told me she knows nothing about this.

Here's the press release:


Form "Draft Richardson Committee"

Las Vegas , NV— Seventy prominent Nevadans called on New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson today to seek the Presidency in 2008.

"Nevada will be a lynch-pin in the Democratic Presidential nomination process in 2008 and many Nevadans believe Bill Richardson is the best choice to lead our party", stated "Draft Committee" Chairman Reynaldo Martinez, a resident of Incline Village, and former chief of staff to U.S. Senator Harry Reid. Earlier this year the Democratic National Committee (DNC) designated Nevada to be the second state to hold a nomination contest on January 19, 2008 following Iowa (caucus) January 14 and before New Hampshire (primary) January 22, and South Carolina (primary) January 29. Nevada will be a "caucus" state and the State Democratic Party will sponsor and organize the state-wide event. Martinez added, "Bill Richardson is the Favorite-Son of the West, and the West beginning with Nevada can lead the Democrats to the White House in 2008."

Joining Martinez as Co-Chairs of the "Draft Committee" are Hannah Irsfeld of Las Vegas, Judge John F. Mendoza of Las Vegas and Robert McGowan of Reno. Other notable Nevadans calling for Richardson to run include; Carlos Blumberg (Las Vegas), Jeff Taguchi (Las Vegas), John Henry Brebbia (Las Vegas), Dr. R.D. Prabhu (Las Vegas), Horacio Lopez (Las Vegas), Vicki Hulbert (N. Las Vegas), Lee Wastell (Las Vegas), Don Ellis (Henderson), Kim Ellis (Henderson), Eva Garcia (Las Vegas), John Medina (N. Las Vegas), Jose G. Troncoso (Las Vegas), Holly Johnson Troncoso (Las Vegas), Robert Agonia (Las Vegas), Larry Mason (Las Vegas), Marcelo Napoli (Las Vegas), Dr. Rene Cantu (Henderson), Dr. Letitia Medina Worth (Las Vegas), Dr. Lata Shete (Las Vegas), George T. Lopez (Las Vegas), Michael Pariente (Las Vegas), Sandy Ellis (Henderson), Bob Ellis (Henderson), Curtis Anderson (Las Vegas), Dr. Agustin Orci (Las Vegas), Alejandro Alverez (Las Vegas), Sylvia Lazos (Las Vegas), Pat Hodges (Las Vegas), Gloria Martinez Ferree (Henderson), Hugh Ferree (Las Vegas), Mary Geidlel (Las Vegas), Xavier Rivas (Las Vegas), Ismael and Monica Sanchez (Las Vegas), Linda Smith (Las Vegas), Troy Wade (Las Vegas), Fernando Romero (Las Vegas), Earl and Susan Greene (Las Vegas), James E. Rogers (Las Vegas), Harlane and Racquel Sumida (Henderson), Maria Sefchick (Reno), Marino De La Rosa (Reno), Geralda Miller (Reno), Rosemary Flores (Henderson), Vito De La Cruz (Reno), Gus Ramos (Las Vegas), Dr. Raquel Casas (Las Vegas), Lonnie Feemster (Sparks), Luisa Mendoza (Las Vegas), Mario Castro (Las Vegas), Miguel Castro (Las Vegas), Javier Trujillo (Las Vegas), Michael Reed (Reno), Theresa Navarro (Reno), Sherri Overstreet (Reno), Chris and Julie Wedge (Reno), Frederico Bannelos (Carson City), Rita McGeary (Reno), Luis and Emma Guzman (Sparks), Steve Heslop (Sparks), William Thorton (Reno), and Diane Sauer Martinez (Incline Village). The group includes African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, significant Democratic Party activists and environmentalists.

"We call on Governor Richardson to run for President. Nevada and America are ready for his leadership." Martinez concluded.


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
December 21, 2006

The Democratic National Committee’s decision this week to wait until the new year to decide where to hold the party’s 2008 national convention is good news for Western Dems who want the convention to be held in Denver.
Bull and Books
So says Mike Stratton, a Colorado political consultant, lobbyist and political adviser for Gov. Bill Richardson.

Stratton, who is on a commission to select the next convention site, said he believes the delay gives Denver a 50/50 chance of being convention host. (He must go to the same bookie as Democratic U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, who gave the same odds recently to The Denver Post.)

“If they would have announced it last week, (the convention site) probably would have been New York,” he said in a telephone interview Wednesday. New York and Denver are the only two cities competing.

Richardson, U.S. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada, virtually every elected Democrat in Colorado and other Western Dems are pushing to have the convention in the Mile High City, Stratton said.

An advantage for Bill?: Stratton — who said he hopes to work for Richardson’s campaign if the governor runs for president — said holding the convention in Colorado wouldn’t in itself help Richardson’s chances for the nomination.

“The convention’s probably going to be in late August or early September, so chances are the nomination will be locked up by then,” he said. “If it’s an unresolved situation and there are two or three candidates who don’t have a majority of delegates, then it would be a definite advantage for Governor Richardson. But it’s very unlikely that there wouldn’t have been a decision by that time.”

But, Stratton said, if Richardson is the nominee, there would be a “symbolic” advantage for Richardson to have the convention in a Western state.

“It would be an awfully good venue to kick off the general election,” he said, noting recent Democratic inroads in Western states like Colorado, Arizona and Nevada.

Trouble ahead: Even though he says Denver has even odds of being selected, Stratton said the city still faces some major obstacles in getting the nod.

The first is money. “The cost has gone up dramatically, mainly due to security,” he said.

Although the federal government reimburses about half the security cost for cities hosting political conventions, that check usually is in the proverbial mail for several months, Stratton said. So the city has to pay upfront costs, which run into tens of millions of dollars. There’s some doubt whether Denver can pull that off. “New York has a decided advantage in this area,” he said.

And then there’s the union problem.

Jim Taylor, head of Denver’s stagehand union, this week refused to sign a pledge not to strike during the convention.

Denver’s Pepsi Center, a large basketball and hockey arena, is owned by Denver Nuggets/Colorado Avalanche owner Stan Kroenke. The facility, which would serve as the convention venue, isn’t unionized.

Taylor has strong feelings about the Pepsi Center being anti-union. He’ll stand up to the bosses, even The Boss. According to the Denver Post, he picketed a Bruce Springsteen concert there a few years ago.

The DNC’s delay in announcing the convention city, it is hoped, will give the Democrats and the stagehands union time to work something out, Stratton said.

A happy, smiley guy: The latest national publication to weigh in on our governor’s presidential possibilities is the conservative National Review Online. Political editor Jonathan Martin goes through the litany of Richardson attributes — all the government posts he’s held, the Hispanic heritage, the boots ‘n’ bolos.

But the story isn’t a puff piece.

“(Richardson’s) style is why, in part, he’s dismissed by many observers,” Martin wrote. “Like another governor from the southwest who sought the presidency, Richardson is seen as being immature and unserious. As with President Bush, Richardson has an endless supply of charm and a politician’s preternatural gift for how to work a room and recall a face. But also like Bush, Richardson’s one-on-one abilities are diminished by his inability to mask, for example, showing disinterest when he isn’t interested.”

He quotes political analyst Stuart Rothenberg’s reference to Richardson’s “frat guy persona” and Hotline’s Chuck Todd, who said Richardson isn’t listed in the upper echelon of presidential contenders because “this Gov. Bill may resemble another Gov. Bill too much.”

Using a word frequently employed by pundits to describe Richardson, Martin asked the governor’s political jeffe Dave Contarino about the charge that Richardson is “undisciplined.” If that means “being a smiling, happy guy,” Contarino said, “we plead guilty.”

Speaking of conservative media: Just two weeks ago, all the governor’s men were blasting Fox News for taking Richardson’s comments about running for president “out of context.” They said he wasn’t really declaring his intention to run when, in an interview that aired Dec. 7, Richardson said, “I am running as an American who is proud to be Hispanic.”

But the guv made nice this week on Fox’s Your World with Neil Cavuto.

“Carl Cameron is a very good reporter,” he told Cavuto, referring to the reporter who conducted the original interview. “And I unfortunately made the mistake of answering a hypothetical question instead of saying ‘should I run, I will do this.’ And I didn’t do that, so there was all this confusion. And I’m not too upset about it. ... I think Carl Cameron and Fox News were doing their job, so I’m not upset at them. But it did cause a ruckus.”

Richardson reiterated he plans to announce a decision next month.

Monday, December 18, 2006


I was too busy playing reporter instead of blogger so I'm hardly the first to report this ... but its true, Ben Lujan beat Rep. Kenny Martinez of Grants to stay on as speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives.

Martinez was re-elected majority leader. Reps. Joe Cervantes and Gail Chasey withdrew their names for consideration. Martinez beat Rep. Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque.

Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton was re-elected Dem whip. She defeated a challenge by Rep. Joe Campos of Santa Rosa.

All House members interviewed said they didn't know the vote count on the speaker's race.

More in tomorrow's paper.


Sunday, December 17, 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
The Happy Wanderer by Brave Combo
Gloria by Elastica
Mountain Side by Chris Whitley & The Bastard Club
The Moon is in The Gutter by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Boney Was a Warrior by Jack Shit
Blow the Man Down by Giant Sand
Betty's Body by The Residents
She Left Me With the Herpes by Tiny Tim
I'm A Christmas Tree by Wild Man Fischer

Elephant Gun by Beirut
Born to Be Wild by Fanfare Ciocarlia
Rock El Casbah by Racid Taha
Mustapha Dance by The Clash
Flat Foot Flewzy by NRBQ
Nightmare Song by Eleni Mandell
Christmas Boogie by Canned Heat & The Chipmunks

All songs by Tom Waits unless otherwise noted

Waitin' For Waits by Ritchie Cole
Lie to Me
Long Way Home
On the Road by TW with Primus
Big Black Mariah by John Hammond
God's Away on Business
The Return of Jackie & Judy
Little Man
Telephone Call From Istambul by Kazik Staszewski
Filipino Box Spring Hog
Day After Tomorrow
Innocent When You Dream
Goodnight Irene

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Here's my allotted 90 downloads from eMusic this month:

* Ludlow Garage 1970 by NRBQ. Big Al Anderson himself told me that the best guitarist NRBQ ever had was Steve Ferguson. Al's too modest, but Ferguson was damned good. This is a live recording from the Q's pioneer days. Lots of R&B, rockabilly and long jams with the spirit of Sun Ra hovering over Terry Adam's head.

*The American Song-Poem Christmas : Daddy Is Santa Really Six Foot Four? .
Do I have to remind everyone what song poems are? It's a glorious scam in which would-be lyricists are lured by little ads in the back of certain magazines to spend their hard-earned cash to have their words put to music by studio musicians who crank them out at amazing speeds. The results often are unintentionally hilarious and sometimes strangely touching. This is a Christmas collection with hits such as "Santa Claus Came on a Nuclear Missile," "Maury the Christmas Mouse" and "The Rocking Disco Santa Claus."

*Moondog , plus three stray tracks from Moondog's H'art Songs.. eMusic continues to be a great source for classic "outsider" music. The song-poems attest to thta, as do the the several Moondog albums available. Moondog , born Louis Hardin, was a blind, self-educated composer and performer who was born in Kansas but became notorious for performing his strange music on the streets of New York in the late '40s, sometimes wearing a horned Viking helmet. This 1956 album is heavy on percussion and sounds of traffic, croaking frogs and a crying baby. There's a Japanese lullaby, with kyoto, sung by Moondog's wife The H'art Songs I downloaded, which I don't like quite as much, features piano-based melodies that are oddly affecting.

*Good Morning Mr. Walker by Joseph Spence. Talk about a guy who made his own rules, Spence -- surely the best known singer to ever emerge from The Bahamas -- sang like your favorite drunken uncle. Between his accent and his funny mumbling, sometimes growling scat singing, don't bet your life on understanding all the lyris, even on familiar songs. But listen to that guitar. The man was a magician.

*Demons Dance Alone by The Residents. The first moments of the opening song, "Life Would Be Wonderful might make you think you downloaded some old Herb Albert song. It's actually sort of pretty. The songs on this album were written in 2001, shorty after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Maybe that's why it seems rather subdued for a Residents album. But don't worry. There's not much you could call mainstream here. I think my favorite tune here is "Betty's Body," which has lyrics like, "I see her every morning and watch her fingers forming ... I could be her lover, if it, if it weren't for Mother ..."

I also downloaded several free tracks from Freedom Haters Unite! A Bloodshot Records Sampler, Vol. 1 . My favorite being Paul Burch's "John Peel," a soulful tribute to the great BBC music show host.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


My story in today's New Mexican about House Speaker Ben Lujan's battle to keep his position and what led to Rep. Kenny Martinez's challenge can be found HERE.

The sidebar about Lujan's life and career is HERE.

The state House Democrats meet Monday to vote on the speaker and other positions.


Friday, December 15, 2006
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
Brand New Heartbreak by Jeff Lescher & Janet Beveridge Bean
Aftermath U.S.A. by The Drive-By Truckers
Wired Ole Gal by The Gourds
I Blunder On by Gurf Morlix
Prozac by Ramsay Midwood
Shove it by Audrey Auld Merzera & Nina Gerber
If Your Poison Gets You by Frank Black
For Too Long by Eric Hisaw
The Only Law That Santa Claus Understood by Ted Lyons

Kiwi Moon by John Egenes
Worried Spirits by Howe Gelb
Valley of Tears by Solomon Burke with Gillian Welch
Faith by Chris Thomas King
Flowers by Irma Thomas
Gather the Family 'Round by Ed Pettersen
All I Want For Christmas is My Upper Plate by Homer & Jethro
Blue Christmas Lights by Chris & Herb

Grapevine by Tom Russell
Big Daddy's Rye by Artie Hill & The Long Gone Daddies
The Country is Young by Jon Langford
Officer Norris by Blaze Foley
Wild Man by Hasil Adkins
The Chokin' Kind by Waylon Jennings
The One You Slip Around With by Skeeter Davis
Here Comes Fatty Claus by Rudolph & Gang
Where It All Began by Mac Wiseman

Christmas in Jail by The Soul Deacons
Christmas in Jail by Chip Taylor
Christmas in Prison by John Prine
Man About Town by Tony Gilkyson
Miss Me by Eleni Mandell
Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground by Willie Nelson
Distant Land to Roam by Ralph Stanley
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

Friday, December 15, 2006


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
December 15, 2006

He’s at the piano singing inebriated ballads after hours at a smoky little dive at the end of dirty little dead-end street. Fat bar girls in blue sequined gowns sleeping in patched Naugahyde booths. A couple of bankers on holiday, too drunk to leave their tables, half listening to the almost familiar tunes.

He’s playing a battered guitar around an illegal fire near the railroad tracks outside of town, singing songs of girls with golden hair he left behind. One tramp uses a rusty knife to rip into a shoplifted can of SpaghettiOs. Others in the circle sing along keep time clanking empty bottles of fortified wine.

He’s walking backward down the alley moving his arms like some wounded bird, leading the ragtag gospel band, the sour trumpets, the sad trombone, the rhythmless drum — a Salvation Army Band that somehow escaped salvation. He bellows his dark hymns above the din, an unholy cacophony for Jesus.

Such are the images evoked by the music of Tom Waits. His songs are like dispatches from an archetypal shadowland of underdog America, a place where a nation’s dreams go to die — but where a thousand more dreams are born.

On his new collection — the 3-disc Orphans: Brawlers, Brawlers & Bastards — Waits proves once again that truly he’s one of the immortals.

Apparently Orphans started out as a compilation of stray Waits tunes that have appeared on various various-artist collections, tribute albums (including Daniel Johnston, Bertolt Brecht and Walt Disney), soundtracks (from Pollock to Shrek 2) and other artists’ records (Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Sparklehorse and others). But the project grew, with Waits re-recording some old tunes and creating new ones. Thirty of the 54 songs here are new recordings, and only 14 have been available on other albums.

Waits’ wife and songwriting partner Kathleen Brennan once famously said that Waits’ songs can be divided into “Grand Weepers” and “Grim Reapers.” The first two discs roughly correspond with this. Brawlers mostly features Waits’ mutant blues and junkyard rockers. Bawlers consists mainly of his ballads, some of which indeed are wonderful tearjerkers.

This leaves Bastards, a glorious explosion of Waits’ experimental side, including spoken-word pieces (a Bukowski story, concert raps, jokes and shaggy dogs), his heart-of-Beefheart sonic craziness, lo-fi cries and other pictures from life’s weirder side.

At the moment, my favorite disc is Brawlers. The first four songs on this first disc are frankly the most convincing little rock ‘n’ roll set I’ve heard in ages. It starts out with an otherworldly rockabilly slugger called "Lie to Me," goes to a growling blues appropriately called “Low Down,” chugs down the track with a funky tune called “2:19” and ends up behind bars in “Fish in Jail,” which sounds like a voodoo insurgency.

Note: I’m writing this during daylight hours. Late at night I start leaning toward Bawlers. The lilting “Long Way Home” ranks up there Waits’ greatest love songs. And he turns The Ramones’ “Danny Says” into a truly gorgeous creature. “The Fall of Troy,” from the Dead Man Walking soundtrack, is as sad as powerful as ever. And his steel-guitar flavored cover of “Young at Heart” will make you believe that fairy tales may come true.

Of course, when I’m really feeling twisted, there’s Bastards, which includes “Army Ants,” a biology lecture on the life of insects with a stand-up bass and robotic guitar backdrop and “On the Road,” a collaboration with Primus that first appeared on a Jack Kerouac spoken word album.

One of the most memorable tunes here surprisingly is one that been performed by countess singers, “Goodnight Irene.” With its hobo chorus you almost can imagine Waits singing it on a boxcar, harmonizing with Leadbelly himself as the train blows its whistle, click-clacking into a tunnel of no return.

Steve Terrell’s Tom Waits List

Best Waits Album: The Mule Variations (1999)
Best Waits Song of the ‘70s: "Tom Traubert's Blues (Four Sheets To The Wind In Copenhagen)"
Best Waits Song of the ‘80s: “You’re Innocent When You Dream”
Best Waits Song of the ‘90s: “Filipino Box Spring Hog” (honorable mention: “Back in the Good Old World”)
Best Waits Song of the ‘00s: “The Day After Tomorrow”
Best “Grand Weeper”: “Georgia Lee”
Best “Grim Reaper”: “The Earth Died Screaming”
Best Waits spoken word piece: “Nighthawk Postcards from Easy Street”
Best Cover song Waits Has Done: “Phantom 309” (originally by Red Sovine)
Best Waits Duet: “This One’s From the Heart” with Crystal Gale (honorable mention: “That Feel” with Keith Richards)
Best Song About Waits: “Waiting for Waits” by Richie Cole
Best Waits sideman gig: Playing electric organ behind Roy Orbison on A Black and White Night.
Best Waits Cover by a Punk Rock Band: “I Don’t Want to Grow Up” by The Ramones
Best Waits Cover by a ‘50s Rocker: “Heart Attack & Vine” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
Best Waits Cover by a Country Artist: “Down There by the Train by Johnny Cash (honorable mention: “Murial” by Eleni Mandell)
Best Waits Cover by a Soul Singer: “The House Where Nobody Lives” by King Ernest
Best Waits Cover by a Gospel group: “Down in the Hole” by The Blind Boys of Alabama (honorable mention: “Train” by The Holmes Brothers)
Best Waits Cover by a Blues singer: “Murder in the Red Barn” by John Hammond, Jr. (from Hammond’s Wicked Grin, which is the best Waits tribute album)
Best Waits Cover by a Foreigner: “In The Neighborhood” by Kazik Staszewski (from Piosenki Toma Waitsa, a Waits tribute album by this Polish rocker.)
Worst Waits Cover: “Downtown Train” by Rod Stewart.
Best Waits Movie Appearance: Down by Law (honorable mention: Shortcuts)

You guessed it: I’ll do a Tom Waits tribute Sunday night on Terrell’s Sound World on KSFR, 90.7 FM. Sound World starts at 10 p.m., the Waits segment will start right after the 11th hour. The show streams live on the world wide interweb.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
December 14, 2006

It’s surely just a coincidence. But an e-mail from Gov. Bill Richardson’s office announcing his pending meeting with North Korean diplomats this week came less than an hour before an e-mail from his campaign announcing the governor’s itinerary for his latest trip to New Hampshire.

Richardson is meeting two North Korean diplomats Friday at the governor’s mansion to discuss multilateral talks, scheduled to begin next week in China, on the North Korean nuclear weapons program.

The next day, he’s going to the Granite State — home of the nation’s first 2008 presidential primary — for a speech and a couple of house parties for Democratic legislators there.

Richardson is expected to announce his presidential plans next month — if you don’t count his “hypothetical” answer in that Fox News interview last week.

The Richardson camp wisely downplays crass political considerations in relation to the North Korean visit.

“If the governor can be helpful in moving forward the six-party talks and bringing a resolution to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula, he’s happy to do it,” spokesman Pahl Shipley said. “That’s his primary concern.”

But political scientists interviewed Wednesday say this visit only can be seen as a coup for a governor running for president.

“Here we go again,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. Bill Richardson is the only governor in the nation with his own foreign policy. This is a big plus for him. Most governors face legitimate criticism that they don’t have national-security credentials in an age when they are essential. Former U.N. Ambassador Richardson, who also seems to continue in his role as a roving ambassador, has no such problem.

“Has there ever been a governor running for president throughout U.S. history that negotiated with an unfriendly foreign power about nuclear weapons — with the quiet consent of the serving president?” Sabato asked. “I’d place a large wager the answer is no.”

University of New Mexico political science professor Lonna Atkinson agrees the North Korean visit can only be seen as positive news for any future Richardson candidacy.

“Foreign policy usually is a weakness for a governor running for president,” she said Wednesday. “Foreign policy is going to be a top issue in 2008, and North Korea probably will be a top issue.

“And assuming Iraq still is an issue in 2008, Richardson will be able to point to this and say, ‘I can do the Baker report.’ The Baker report said we need to be talking to our enemies. All that is in contrast to the current administration’s strategy.” Former Secretary of State James Baker chaired the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which released its report last week.

While Richardson has a strong résumé, Atkinson said, “how do you get that out to the primary voters.” Richardson, on the national level, still struggles with low identification numbers.

“So at this point, all news is good for him,” she said. “Anything to get him in the public eye.”

Bumper sticker alert: Usually when I receive anonymous letters at work, somebody’s either ratting somebody out or calling me names. Or occasionally both. So I was somewhat relieved earlier this week to find the no-return-address envelope in my mailbox didn’t contain anything nasty. There were a couple of bumper stickers with the familiar Bill Richardson logo — a red sky over a black mountainscape with yellow and white letters — that said “The Governor For President USA.”

If you see any of these on cars in the next month or so, don’t immediately call Fox News.

A note — unsigned, of course — said the bumper stickers were not the work of any authorized Richardson organization, but a group of former volunteers from Richardson’s 1982 Congressional campaign.

The slogan, the note says, is borrowed from Gov. David F. Cargo’s 1968 re-election. Cargo apparently had stickers that said, “The Governor for Governor.” The “USA” part is a reference to the state’s license plates, which were designed to let out-of-staters know that indeed New Mexico is one of the 50.

Gimme another milk: Back during the campaign, right after the much-discussed Richardson Western-movie parody, this column pointed out that while Richardson’s line, “Gimme a milk,” was played for laughs, the dairy industry had contributed more to the Richardson campaign than the liquor industry.

I thought about that last week when the governor’s final campaign finance report showed one of his two $50,000 contributors was Select Milk Producers, an Artesia-based milk marketing cooperative.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


This just in. A delegation of North Korean diplomats is coming to Santa Fe to talk to our gov. Here's the press release:

SANTA FE, NM - New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson will meet with two top North Korean officials this Friday, December 15, in Santa Fe. The North Koreans asked for the meeting with Governor Richardson to discuss the upcoming multi-lateral talks regarding the North Korean nuclear weapons program. The so-called six-party talks include North Korea, South Korea, China, Russia, Japan, and the United States. They are scheduled to resume Monday, December 18, in Beijing, China. Two diplomats from the North Korean Mission to the United Nations, Minister Kim Myong Gil and First Secretary Song Se Il, have been granted permission by the US State Department to make the visit to Santa Fe.

“While I will not be acting as an official representative of the administration, I am pleased to do whatever I can to help increase understanding between our two countries and help move the 6-party talks forward,” said Governor Richardson. “I believe we have an opportunity to use diplomacy to end this crisis and bring stability to the Korean Peninsula. I will press the North Koreans to start dismantling their nuclear weapons.”

The North Korean delegation will arrive in New Mexico Friday morning and meet with Governor Richardson in the afternoon at the Governor’s mansion.

"We have reached a critical crossroads in the effort to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons," stated Dr. K.A. Namkung, Governor Richardson's senior advisor. "The North Koreans' visit to Santa Fe this week will hopefully help move the talks forward."

Governor Richardson has dealt extensively with North Korea during his tenure as US Congressman, US Ambassador to the United Nations, and Energy Secretary. He has traveled to North Korea five times, most recently last October. This will be the second North Korean delegation to travel to Santa Fe to meet with Governor Richardson. The first visit took place shortly after he took office in January, 2003.

Monday, December 11, 2006


An old friend in Texas sent me this comment on my Sacred Harp column. She's got some personal experience with this music.

She writes:

"Sacred Harp" refers to the human voice.

In East Texas, I plumb growed up being dragged to Sacred Harp and Gospel Singin's, which my dad loved. I have a couple of his Sacred Harp books--donated his tapes to a friend in Kilgore, who's saving them until some museum is organized in Gilmer.

Biggest Sacred Harp Convention I know of is in Henderson, Texas, each August, or whenever temperatures and humidity reach 120 degrees. County Judge--must be dead by now--always saw to it that courthouse was available. The singers face each other, square. The women's tones are especially nasal and grating. Supposedly, this singing dates back to Shakespearian England. Rhythms are set and led by one distinguished person at a time. I think requirement is that the person be 101 years old.

I know. It's worth preserving. We took (my husband's) niece and nephew (both Ph.D's in music,Indiana) to one Henderson singin', and they both got all excited about the tonal distinctions.

I just remember being five years old, and desperately wanting to get out of whatever littlecountry church I was trapped in, while my dad was quite absorbed. Maybe my reward was growing up in Kilgore, listening in Baptist church and at school to Van Cliburn, who's a year older, and plays the music of my heart.


Sunday, December 10, 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
Fish in the Jailhouse by Tom Waits
In the Colosseum by Kazik Staszewski
Two Girls (One Bar) by Pere Ubu
Joker Hysterical Face by The Fall
Fire Down Below by Nick Cave
Fish Shack Closing by The Unband
Where's Your Boyfriend At by The Yayhoos
Don't Believe in Christmas by The Sonics

Siki Siki Baba by Kokani Orkestar
Prenzlauerberg by Beirut
El Nozanin by Severa Nazarkhan
Fernando's Giampari by A Hawk & A Hacksaw
Traffic Policeman by Zvuki Mu
Constantinoble by The Residents
I Want to See You Belly Dance by The Red Elvises

Oops I Did it Again by Richard Thompson
The Barren Fields by Hundred Year Flood
Down by The River by Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Fat Daddy by Fat Daddy
O Holy Night by Robert Mirabal

Action is Action by Eleni Mandell
The River in Reverse by Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint
Hold On by Los Lobos
Straight to Hell by The Clash
Field Commander Cohen by Leonard Cohen
Leave Her Johnny by Lou Reed
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Friday, December 8, 2006
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
Life of a Fool by Paul Burch
Big Cheeseburgers and Good French Fries by Blaze Foley
Rattlesnake by Ramsay Midwood
Accentuate the Positive by Kelly Hogan & Jon Rauhouse
Jackson Shake by Arty Hill & The Long Gone Daddies
Backstreet Affair by Webb Pierce
I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink by Merle Haggard
Six Bullets for Christmas by Angry Johnny & The Killbillies

Xmas on the Isthmus by Terry Allen
I'm Not Coming Down by Ed Pettersen
Kingdom of Cold by Hundred Year Flood
Break This Fool by The Texas Sapphires
We're Gonna Hold On by Solomon Burke with Enmylou Harris
I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know by The Davis Sisters
Since the Well Ran Dry by Tony Gilkyson
Truckin' Trees for Christmas by Red Simpson

The Christian's Hope by Denson's Sacred Harp Singers of Arley, Alabama
Antioch by Henagar-Union Sacred Harp Convention
Wondrous Love by The Old Harp Singers of Eastern Tennessee
The Signs of The Judgement by Wineglass Sacred Harp Singers
The Good Old Way by Denson-Paris Sacred Harp Singers
Weeping Mary by Roswell Sacred Harp Singers
IDUMEA by Sacred Harp Singers at Liberty Church
The Last Words of Copernicus by Alabama Sacred Harp Singers
I'm Going Home by Sacred Harp Singers at Liberty Church
Whitestown by Henagar Union Sacred Harp Singers
Traveling Pilgrim by Henagar Union Sacred Harp Singers

Young at Heart by Tom Waits
Bedford (Avenue) by Eleni Mandell
Gatsby's Restaurant by June Carter Cash
Just Leave Me Alone Today by Dan Reeder
One Thing I Want to Tell You by Chip Taylor
He'll Have to Go by Ry Cooder
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

Friday, December 08, 2006


I just got interviewed by the folks at Radio America (not Air America) about our governor's presidential plans.

I didn't realize until after I agreed to do it that this is an ultra conservative network, home to G. Gordon Liddy and Michael Reagan. I'm supposed to be on a news show called Dateline Washington. A list of past guests there includes Tom DeLay, Mary Matalin, Gerald Ford and Gary Bauer.

So I'll fit right in.

It's scheduled to be on at 4 p.m. Mountain Time. (See link above.)


My story on Gov. Richardson's Fox News interview where he said the magic words "I'm running ..." can be found HERE.

The "fair and balanced" Fox story, including a video of the interview, is HERE

Here's my take on what happened: It's obvious that he just let his guard down when talking with Fox reporter Carl Cameron, skipping the usual tiresome coy disclaimers.

It's not the first time this has appened. When I interviewed on the phone in October for a campaign profile, I asked if he'd announce his presidential campaign in New Mexico. Without hesitation, he said yes. But then he caught himself, and quickly added, "If I announce I'm running."

What's weird is that in six weeks or so, it's all going to be moot. He'll make his big exploratory committee announcement surrounded by hundreds of supporters and it'll be off to the races.

But I think Joe Monahan has a good point though in today's blog.
... instead of taking his lumps and wiping the egg away with a serving of humor, the Governor and his multi-headed press staff proceeded to make matters worse by insisting the Guv's statement that danced across the Internet at lightning speed was taken out of context and that the Guv was not running for the 08' Dem prez nomination, at least not yet. They then tore into Fox for having `incorrectly reported that Governor Richardson has announced he will run for president.' ...

As is usual with these cases of jangled nerves under the harsh glare of the national spotlight, the reaction to the mistake was worse than the error. ... reacting so heatedly to his semantic error gets him off to a shaky start in a scene crowded with heavyweights like Hillary Clinton.
Monahan reports that Richardson's staff called Albuquerque television stations to implore them not to cover the story. I can't vouch for that. When I called spokesman Gilbert Gallegos, he told me the report was "absolutely false" -- even though the guv's words were on video. But he never asked me to not to write the story.


Speaking of Monahan, one local politican denies something from a previous Monahan blog post.

State Sen. John Grubesic, D-Santa Fe, told me Thursday that he didn't actually hug Richardson at last weekend's Senate Democratic Caucus meeting. It was just a handshake, not a hug, he said.

Grubesic said he did apologize to Richardson for his "personal attack" early this year in the infamous "Flabby King" letter. Personal attacks don't do anyone any good, Grubesic said, especially his constituents.

He said he won't hesitate to stand up to Richardson when he disagrees on an issue. But he said he'll refrain from namecalling.

Grubesic, whose first year in office was marred by two well-publicized encounters with police, said he definitely will run for re-election in 2008, though he expects opposition.


A version of these reviews were published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
December 4, 2006

We Like to Drink: We Like to Play Rock ’n’ Roll; music documentary; 75 minutes; Tipton Hall, College of Santa Fe; 9:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8, and 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9

It’s the classic rock ’n’ roll myth. A gang of lovable losers, usually boyhood friends (yes, most of the time it is boys), start a rock band. In a brief time, they become known for crazy, spirited shows fueled by incredible amounts of booze and illegal substances. They hit the road in a van or an old school bus. And right when the gold ring of wealth and glory seems to be in reach, they fall off the merry-go-round. Usually it’s a combination of money problems, personality problems, girlfriend problems, and addiction problems.

Country singer Gillian Welch summed up the seductive power of this myth in her mournful ballad “April the 14th”:

“It was a five-band bill, a two-dollar show/I saw the van out in front from Idaho/And the girl passed out in the backseat trash./There were no way they’d make even a half a tank of gas/They looked sick and stoned, and strangely dressed/and no one showed from the local press./But I watched them walk through the Bottom Land/and I wished I played in a rock ’n’ roll band.”
Santa Fe filmmaker Lexie Shabel also explores this myth in her new film, We Like to Drink: We Like to Play Rock ’n’ Roll. Shabel tells the story of The Unband, a punk/metal group that started in Boston and moved to Los Angeles. It was signed to a little indie label called TVT and made an album called Retarder full of songs like “Pink Slip,” “Cocaine Whore,” and the tune that would provide the title for Shabel’s film.

This isn’t Shabel’s first music movie. In 2003’s VFWbya, the New Jersey native documented the short-lived but fabled music scene at Santa Fe’s VFW Club with local favorites like Hundred Year Flood, Goshen, and ThaMuseMeant.

While The Unband is about as obscure as you can get, the story is familiar. But the group comes across as so likable that it captures the viewer’s sympathy. Even though you’re pretty sure you know how the story plays out, you root for the band throughout.

In some ways, The Unband reminds me of The Replacements in its wild, drunken abandon and the way the members connect with their audience. True, The Unband didn’t have a songwriter who came anywhere near Paul Westerberg. But then again, I never heard of the ’Mats playing with a naked drummer.

Shabel follows The Unband from its early days — hanging out at a University of Massachusetts dorm, getting kicked out of crappy little clubs — through its grab at fame. There’s all sorts of hopped-up testimony from early fans and Unband hangers-on attesting to its majesty. There’s even a filmed reunion of the trio with the owner of a Northampton, Mass., pizza joint at which all three used to work. The pizza lady says she knows she’ll see The Unband someday “on the Billboard Awards.”

But not all of the talk is happy. One of the film’s saddest moments is when the band is dissed by someone it looks up to: Eddie Spaghetti of The Supersuckers. “They weren’t very good, if I recall,” Spaghetti says matter-of-factly in a filmed interview. “Weren’t they just trying to be AC/DC?”

And it all seems to fall apart on the road. Money problems. Arguments. Hurt feelings. And two of the three seem to hate Kate, the girlfriend of guitarist Matt Pierce. She’s a blonde, hard-boozing, tough-talking version of Yoko Ono. “Women and money killed The Unband,” bass player Mike Ruffino says after a diatribe about Matt and Kate.

My main problem with the film is that it never says what eventually happened to Kate. She’s apparently gone by the end of the film. Matt speaks of her in the past tense. Did she melt when someone threw water on her or what?

The film ends optimistically. The Unband is playing together again after several years apart. But they all seem so adult now. Drummer Eugene Ferrari is painting his house, and he has his pants on. Matt is working with head-injury victims. Mike is married.

They all seem happy. But is that crazy spark that propelled them — that dangerous voodoo spirit that rode them like a mad cowboy — gone forever?

I think probably so. But We Like to Drink: We Like to Play Rock ’n’ Roll leaves you wondering whether that matters at all.

Nina Baby; short; 14 minutes; Tipton Hall, College of Santa Fe; 2:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10

This 14-minute short is a captivating little nugget that leaves you wanting to know more about its precocious, homeless, trumpet-playing protagonist.

Laivan Greene stars as 13-year-old Nina. “You got a last name?” an unseen interviewer asks. “Just Nina,” she replies impatiently. (The director, known only as C.A.M. in the credits, might have a similar answer if you inquired about that name.)

“I know what you’re thinking,” Nina says at the beginning of the film, as she walks the streets of Los Angeles playing her horn. “She’s black. ... when she’s gonna start rapping? Well I got three words for you. ‘Go screw yourself.’”

She’ll play for anyone willing to listen — and even those not willing. And she talks. Nina is speaking throughout most of the film. But you don’t want her to stop.

“Yeah, that’s right, I read too,” she says defensively after speaking dreamily of James Baldwin. “Sorry to disappoint you, in case you were hoping I was like, some idiot-savant musician.”

We briefly get introduced to others who are important to her. There’s a flashback of her late brother, who she describes as “the last audience I had that I could count on.” Then there’s her father, a broken man who lives under an overpass and plays solitaire chess. “He’s a king to me,” Nina says.

Nina longs to make it big in the jazz world. To follow that dream, she hocks her beloved trumpet for a bus ticket to New York. Armed with a Rube Goldberg-style instrument, she sets up shop in front of the Village Vanguard.

The film ends on an optimistic note — it’s perhaps a little too feel-good considering the likely fate of homeless kids in strange cities. But then again, do we really need another After School Special-like cautionary tale? Maybe at this point we need more fables about following dreams rather than messages of fear and repression.


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
December 8, 2006

One of the strangest, most powerful forms of music to rise from the American South is Sacred Harp singing. Those familiar with Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music have heard the simple, mysterious sounds. T Bone Burnett used some Sacred Harp in his soundtrack for Cold Mountain a few years ago. Alan Lomax did field recordings at Sacred Harp gatherings.

It’s a tradition that’s populist in nature. There are no Sacred Harp “performances” because there’s no separation of performer and audience at a Sacred Harp “singing.” Everyone is supposed to sing. And thus comes a new Sacred Harp compilation: I Belong to This Band.

Released by the independent Dust-to-Digital label — the same folks who brought us the impressive six-disc box set Goodbye Babylon (featuring Southern gospel music from 1902 to 1960) a couple of years ago — this collection spans nine decades of recorded Sacred Harp music, from the first known group to record in 1922 (The Original Sacred Harp Singers were “probably from Texas,” the liner notes say) to an Alabama singing recorded in July of this year.

So what is Sacred Harp music? First of all, it’s “sacred” music, but there’s no harp. It’s usually a cappella music so named for a hymnal called The Sacred Harp, first published in 1884 but updated several times since.

The book, and others like it, used shapes — triangle, oval, rectangle, diamond — for the various notes. (It’s supposed to make it easier for average folks to read music, but it seems pretty complex to a rube like me.)

The songs feature four-part harmonies. Though it can be done by small groups, normally Sacred Harp is choral music. At a singing, the room is divided into four sides — with trebles, tenors, basses, and altos in their own sections — with rows of chairs facing the center, where a leader stands.

Typically, Sacred Harp songs start off with what sounds to a newcomer like an incomprehensible incantation, a magical invocation in a long-dead tongue to dusky, hoary spirits. I actually was disappointed to learn that what I thought was mystical speaking in tongues is nothing more than the choir singing “mi, fa, so, la ...” to get the song going.

The rhythm of the songs sometimes seems almost martial. In songs like the minor-key “Child of Grace,” the foot stomping is audible. You can almost imagine the singers marching on some of the tracks.

A few of the songs in the collection have military overtones. “The Christian Warfare,” by the Original Sacred Harp Singers, was written in 1835 and seems to anticipate current foreign policy:
“I’m called to contend with the powers of darkness,/And many sore conflicts I have to pass through./Oh Jesus, be with me in every battle,/And help me my enemies all to subdue.”

But the sweetness of the melody suggests that the battle at hand is more metaphorical than literal.

Then there’s “Christian Soldier.” Recorded in 1928 by the Denson Quartet, it’s a song written by Isaac Watts in 1724. It sounds a little more militant.
“Must I be carried to the skies/On flow’ry beds of ease,/While others fought to win the prize/And sailed through bloody seas?/Are there no foes for me to face?/Must I not stem the flood?/Is this vile world a friend to grace,/To help me on to God?/Sure I must fight if I would reign;/Increase my courage, Lord,/I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,/Supported by Thy word.”

One of the most interesting tracks is “New Morning Sun,” recorded in 1960 by S. Whit Denson. Using then-novel multitracking technology, Denson — an original member of the pioneering Denson Quartet — sang all four harmony parts and played piano.

Nearly half of the tracks on this collection are from the Henagar-Union Sacred Harp Convention at the Liberty Baptist Church in Henegar, Ala. (home of the Louvin Brothers). While not as “historical,” they are some of the most powerful performances on the album. A potent, if troubling, tune they perform is “Whitestown,” written by Watts in 1719 about a settlement in New York.

“Where nothing dwelt but beasts of prey,/Or men as fierce and wild as they,/He bids th’ oppressed and poor repair,/And build them towns and cities there/They sow the fields, and trees they plant/Whose yearly fruit supplies their want;/Their race grows up from fruitful stocks/Their wealth increases with their flocks.”

Racist? Yes. We Caucasians turned out to be as “fierce and wild” as anyone. But it’s a vivid glimpse into the mind-set of the early settlers of this country. The intense melody, a minor-key dirge, sounds like a good soundtrack for a witch burning.

I Belong to This Band is full of such history and mystery. The amazing thing is how Sacred Harp can sound so otherworldly, yet so American at the same time.

On the Web: There’s plenty of information at the Sacred Heart Musical Heritage Association site at . Lyrics and song titles can be found HERE . And there’s a documentary about Sacred Harp (which I’ve yet to see) called Awake, My Soul. You can find information and some film clips HERE.

Hear the Harp: I’ll play a set of Sacred Harp music from this album and others on The Santa Fe Opry, Friday, Dec. 8, on KSFR-FM 90.7, The Opry starts at 10 p.m., and the set will start about 11 p.m.


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