Thursday, January 31, 2008


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
January 31, 2008

Although neither the governor nor lawmakers seem to be fired up about ethics legislation this session, according to a national study released this week, there are deep misgivings about ethics in state governments all over the country — by state employees themselves.

The Washington, D.C.-based Ethics Resource Center, “a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to the study and promotion of ethical behavior in organizations worldwide,” released its annual National Government Ethics Survey. The results weren’t pretty.

Fifty-seven percent of state workers surveyed reported observing at least one kind of misconduct over the past year. More than 80 percent of those reported seeing multiple instances of misconduct.

Only 7 percent of state workers reported a “strong ethical culture” in their workplaces.
And yes, gentle readers, it’s not just New Mexico.

“There is a strong risk of losing the public trust that is essential for any government to maintain,” ERC President Patricia Harned said in a news release accompanying the report. “Voters must believe that elected officials, political appointees and career government employees act in their best interest. Eroded trust hinders government’s effectiveness.”

The study doesn’t have a state-by-state breakdown, so it’s impossible to see if New Mexico ranks higher or lower than the national average.

The most common form of misconduct reported was conflicts of interest. Nearly one-third of state employees said they’d observed this, though none of the conflicts were specified. This was followed by lying to employees (28 percent) and abusive behavior (26 percent).

“A quarter of state government employees work in environments conducive to misconduct,” the report says. “In environments conducive to misconduct, employees are introduced to situations directly inviting misconduct, and/or they feel pressured to cut corners to do their jobs. Further, employees may feel that work values conflict with personal values.”

“Top management may be unaware of the misconduct problem,” the report said. Twenty-nine percent of state employees who observed misconduct did not report it.

“Because government sets many rules to assure ethical practices in business, it is vital that government set a high standard of its own,” Harned said. “A world where almost one-third of local government workers don’t report ethics violations when they see them does not set a high standard.”

Most disturbing is the finding that 18 percent of state government employees who reported their observations of misconduct have experienced retaliation. More than a third who observed misconduct chose not to report it fearing retaliation from management, while 30 percent didn’t report misconduct because they feared retaliation from co-workers.

State government has a bigger “ethics risk” factor than federal or local governments, the study says. This is because of the high rate of observing misconduct coupled with the low rate of reporting it.

For the study, 3,452 randomly selected state employees were interviewed between June 25 and Aug. 15 last year. Again, we don’t know how many, if any, were from New Mexico.

Memorialize this: In past legislative sessions, I’ve jokingly called for a study on Legislature-mandated studies. Other Roundhouse wags have suggested a task force on task forces.

In that spirit, an Albuquerque Republican lawmaker said Wednesday that later this week she’s introducing a resolution on memorials and resolutions.

Rep. Justine Fox-Young is proposing the House change its rules that would restrict memorials to “an official expression of condolence or acknowledgment of achievement for public officials past or present or those who ‘made extraordinary contributions’ to the state.”

Her resolution would restrict resolutions to proposed state constitutional amendments, ratifying amendments to the U.S. Constitution, petitioning Congress under Congressional rules, “expressing the approval of the Legislature where legislative approval is required by statute or (the state constitution)” or adopting new or repealing or amending rules of the House.

As used now, there are memorials and resolutions for every which thing. There are memorials or joint memorials declaring it Cowboy Day, Farm Workers Day, Stealth Fighter Day, FFA & 4H Day, New Mexico Mesa Day, School Nutrition Day and UNM vs. NMSU Football Rivalry Week. There are memorials calling for new studies and task forces.

Perhaps coincidentally, Fox-Young showed her resolution to reporters on the same day that Gov. Bill Richardson told reporters at a news conference, “I’m sick of studies! I’m sick of task forces!” (He was discussing his health care legislation.)

“I really hate memorials,” Fox-Young said. “I never introduce them.”

Someone is bound to suggest a task force to study her resolution.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Sunday, January 27, 2008
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M.
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

Now Simulcasting 90.7 FM, and our new, stronger signal, 101.1 FM
email me during the show!

OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Chatterbox by The New York Dolls
No Feelings by The Sex Pistols
Get Over You by The Undertones
Period by Mission of Burma
Teenage Head by The Flamin' Groovies
Caught in a Dream by Alice Cooper
Bigger Hole to Fill by The Hives
Do You Know What I Idi Amin by Chuck E. Weiss with Tom Waits
Twinkle Toes by The Neanderthals

Girls For Single Men by Sausage
Ride Away by The Fall
Brand New Special and Unique by Stan Ridgway
Gimme Dat Harp, Boy by Captain Beefheart
She's Not There by The Zombies
Love Me With Your Mind by The Shams
Sportin' Life Blues by Champion Jack Dupree

Tiger Phone Card by Dengue Fever
Chet Boghassa by Tinariwen
Professor Jay from Delhi by Anandji Shah & Katyanji Shah
Frankie and Johnny by Kazik Staszewski
Hit the Road Jack by Cat
I Would Never Wanna Be Young Again by Gogol Bordello
Sezegerely Soul Stew by 3 Mustaphas 3
Aijo by Varttina

Hello Sunshine by Bettye LaVette with Hank Ballard
Jon E. Edwards is in Love by Jon E. Edwards & The Internationals
Boilin' Water by Tony Bowens & The Soul Choppers
Search For Delicious by Panda Bear
Unsolved Mysteries by Animal Collective
Long Way Home by Tom Waits
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Friday, January 25, 2008
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

Now Simulcasting 90.7 FM, and our new, stronger signal, 101.1 FM
email me during the show!

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
Cowboy in Flames by The Waco Brothers
Georgia on a Fast Train by Billy Joe Shaver
Man Overboard by Libby Bosworth & Toni Price
Farewell Jack by Donna Jean & The Tricksters
Lisa's Birthday by Drive-By Truckers
The Great Medical Menagerist by Harmonica Frank Floyd
Scoodle Um Skoo by Papa Charlie Jackson
Let's Duet by John C. Reilly & Angela Correa
Rancho Grande by Carolina Cotton

I Paint a Design by Michael Hurley
If She Wasn't on Blocks by The New Duncan Imperials
You Don't Know Me by Say Zuzu
I'm Not a Communist by Grandpa Jones
Big Swamp Land by Johnny Paycheck
St. Petersberg Jail by Ronny Elliott
Who Do You Love by Ronnie Hawkins & The Band
Pistol Pete and The Ringo Kid by Acie Cargill
That's the Way Love Goes by The Harmony Sisters

Rotweiller Blues by Warren Zevon
The Collector by The Everly Brothers
Kingdom of Cold by Hundred Year Flood
El Presidente by Goshen
Old Friends by Roger Miller, Willie Nelson & Ray Price
I'm Feelin' Sorry by Jerry Lee Lewis
Dirty Business by New Riders of the Purple Sage

You Must Unload by Larry Groce
The Train Carrying Jimmie Rodgers Home by Iris DeMent
Wave by Calexico
Beautiful Mistake by Grey DeLisle
Say It's Not You by George Jones with Keith Richards
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

Friday, January 25, 2008


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
January 25, 2008

Donna Jean & the Tricksters is a decent but not a great album. It won’t be on anyone’s top 10 at the end of the year — except maybe Relix magazine’s. To be honest, I probably won’t play it all that much on my radio shows. It’s above-average Grateful Dead-influenced jam-band fare with a hearty blues edge.

But I’m glad this record is around — it’s like getting a handwritten letter from an old friend. It’s good to hear from Donna Jean Godchaux-MacKay, whose voice graced the albums of the Grateful Dead for most of the 1970s.
Donna Jean
Ever since she and her late husband, keyboardist Keith Godchaux, were asked to leave the Dead in 1979, Donna Jean basically has been missing in action. She’s done an occasional solo record, and every now and then you hear about her singing a couple of songs at a show with Bob Weir’s Ratdog or some other Dead offshoot. But largely she’s unjustly been forgotten, except by scholarly Deadheads — or by fans with long memories.

Donna Jean was a striking figure when she was in the band. She was the hippie earth-mama goddess surrounded by a bunch of hairy weirded beardos. She looked sweet with her flowing brown locks, and she provided the band with a little female energy. But she was a belter — not as over-the-top as Janis Joplin or as searing as Grace Slick, but she infused the cosmic California sound of the Grateful Dead with some down-to-earth Southern soul.

Had she never even been with the Dead, Donna Jean still would have a respectable musical résumé. She’s an Alabama girl who cut her musical teeth as a teenager at Muscle Shoals studios. Singing with a female group called Southern Comfort, Donna Jean provided background vocals on some true American classics — including “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge and “Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley.

The story of how the Godchaux couple got to be in the Grateful Dead is a testament to Donna Jean’s audacity — as well to the less-formal, human-scale nature of rock in the pre-corporate days.

In a 1998 radio interview in Philadelphia, Donna Jean told Dead chronicler David Gans how she and Keith approached the group about joining — neither of them knew anyone in the Dead. (She had moved from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, to the Bay area, where she hooked up with Keith.) They made their move at a Jerry Garcia/Merle Saunders concert at the Keystone Korner club in San Francisco. Actually Donna Jean made the move. She approached Garcia during a break.

“I said, ‘My husband and I have something we need to talk to you about,’” she told Gans. “Jerry said, ‘OK, well, come on backstage.’ And Keith and I were too scared. We didn’t know what to do, and we didn’t go backstage. This is when they took a break.

“A few minutes later, Garcia came out in the audience and sat down next to us. And at that angle, Keith couldn’t see Jerry; he was on the other side of him. And I said, ‘Um, Keith, I think Garcia’s hinting that he wants to talk to us. He’s sitting right next to you.’ Keith just put his head down on the table, and he turned around to Garcia and he goes, ‘You’ll have to talk to my wife. I can’t talk to you right now.’

“So I said, ‘Jerry, now —.’ Gosh, if I had known that everybody doesthis to him, I would have never had the nerve. And I said, ‘Uh, Keith is — I just know he’s your new piano player. ... So, we’re gonna need your telephone number so that we can call you.’ ... So Jerry gave us his home phone number!”

The couple didn’t know it then, but the Dead’s original keyboardist, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, was dying, and the band was auditioning replacements. In a matter of days, Keith Godchaux was in the band. Donna Jean didn’t officially join until later. But her voice started popping up on Dead albums like Europe ’72 and on side projects like Weir’s first solo album, Ace.

This was an incredibly fertile and creative period for the Dead. Two of my favorite Dead albums — From the Mars Hotel and Blues for Allah — came out of the “Keith and Donna” era. Donna Jean’s contribution was mainly her background vocals, especially on the studio albums.

But if you think it was an all-American hippie fairy tale to walk up to Jerry Garcia in a nightclub one day and become a member of the Grateful Dead by the end of the week, think again. As the Me Decade drew to a close, the dream was becoming a nightmare.
Donna with the Dead
In his 2002 book, A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead, former Dead publicist Dennis McNally describes the end of the Godchaux era. Keith was basically was a junkie. Donna Jean, as she admitted to McNally, was a raging alcoholic. It sounds as if she was second only to Keith Moon as a destroyer of hotel rooms, and she once even put her husband’s arm in a sling. Finally, in 1979, it came to an end. The couple was asked to leave the Dead, but according to Donna Jean, she and Keith had decided to leave before that.

Within a year, Keith would be killed in a car wreck. Donna Jean would find religion, remarry (to David MacKay, formerly of the San Francisco band the Tazmanian Devils), and drift so far out of the limelight that some younger Deadheads barely know who she is.

Now, nearly 30 years after leaving the Dead, Donna Jean’s brown hair has turned to silver. Her voice has mellowed; it’s more restrained than in the old days.

She sings lead on just a handful of songs on the new album. The best of these is a gospelish workout called “No Better Way,” with overtones of Eat a Peach-era Allman Brothers.

But, like her work with the Dead, Elvis, and Percy Sledge, her background vocals are a delight, her work on the upbeat country-rocker “A Prisoner Says His Piece,” being a standout. Audio appearances can be deceiving, but she sounds happy.

All I know is that it’s good to hear from Donna Jean.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
January 24, 2008

Ethics-reform advocates were disappointed last week when Gov. Bill Richardson gave the issue about 20 seconds in his State of the State address. They were even more disappointed with the only bill to emerge so far, one that deals with limits on campaign contributions.

“We’re not supporting that bill as it stands,” said Steven Allen, director of Common Cause New Mexico, a watchdog group that for several years has been pushing for ethics and political reforms.

He was referring to Senate Bill 264, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen — a bill Allen called weak and toothless.

Richardson told reporters Wednesday that he’d like to see a stronger bill, one closer to what his Ethics Task Force has recommended.

SB 264, in its current form, calls for a limit of $2,300 on contributions from an individual to any candidate for state office. Actually the limit would be $4,600 — $2,300 for the primary election, $2,300 for the general.

That’s the same as the federal limits for candidates for president or Congress. There’s a mechanism in the bill to adjust the maximum contribution amount by linking it to the Consumer Price Index.

Allen and other reformers aren’t quibbling with the amount of the limit in the bill.

But Allen said the bill covers only individual contributions to candidates. “It should cover contributions from corporations, unions and (political) parties as well.” he said, noting this would be more in line with the Ethics Task Force recommendation.

In New Mexico politics, it’s often the corporations and unions that provide the lion’s share of money.

For instance, in Richardson’s 2006 re-election effort (at $13.3 million, the most expensive campaign in state history), only two of Richardson’s top 10 contributors were individuals (racetrack owner Paul Blanchard, who gave $120,000, and Univision chief executive Jerry Perenchio, who gave $102,443). Of the other donors, four were companies (Cap II Properties, Gulfstream Lomas, Controlled Recovery and Forest City Covington, each of which gave $100,000 or more); three were labor organizations (Federation of Teachers; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; and Laborers International Union of North America, each of which gave $100,000); and one political action committee, Richardson’s own Moving America Forward — which received contributions from individuals, corporations and unions. The campaign reported $487,000 from that PAC.

But changes apparently are afoot for the contribution bill.

Sanchez couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday, but Stuart Bluestone of the state Attorney General’s Office confirmed the majority leader had told him he had made some changes to SB 264 and wanted Bluestone to go over them.

“I haven’t seen (the changes) yet, so I don’t know what they are,” said Bluestone, who served on the Ethics Task Force for two years.

But if the bill doesn’t change in the Senate, House Speaker Ben Luján, D-Nambé, said Wednesday that he’s considering introducing a bill of his own that would include PACs and the other contributors.

Public finance of campaigns: So far nobody has introduced any bills to expand public financing of campaigns. Some were worried the Richardson administration had become lukewarm to the idea — even though in the final days of his presidential bid, as he campaigned in Iowa and New Hampshire, the governor almost always called for public financing, saying that might have given him a better shot to compete with U.S. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, each of whom dwarfed Richardson in campaign spending.

But Richardson on Wednesday told reporters he’s still behind the idea. He said to expect him to issue a message by today that would allow a public-financing bill to be considered in the current session. Some kind of bill should be released shortly thereafter.

The state currently makes public funds available to state judiciary and Public Regulation Commission candidates who agree to campaign spending limits.

Ethics report card: After the legislative session ends next month, New Mexico Common Cause will publish a report card scoring lawmakers on how they vote on ethics bills, Allen said. He said the report card will include committee votes as well as floor votes, which is appropriate because many bills die in committee.

The report card could become fodder for political campaigns in a year in which all legislators are up for re-election.

Just one problem though. In recent years only a fraction of senators or House members face any opponents when they run for re-election.

In 2004, the last time state senators were elected, 25 of the 42 seats had only one candidate running in the general election.

In 2006, when all House members were up for re-election, only 29 out of 70 House seats were contested in the general election.

Vote on your own time: The state Personnel Office last week distributed a memo reminding state workers they do not get time off to participate in the Feb. 5 Democratic presidential caucus.

Unlike the state primaries and general elections, which are operated and paid for by the state and thus covered by the state election code, the presidential caucus is completely the responsibility of the Democratic Party.

Arcie Baca, the local head of AFSCME, at first was concerned about this policy. But, after thinking about it, he said, there might be privacy issues if employees got time off to caucus. “Everyone would know you’re a Democrat,” he said.

“I just wish the Republicans would have (their caucus) at the same time,” Baca said. The state GOP chose not to have a caucus Feb. 5 and will instead vote for Republican presidential candidates in the June primary.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Sunday, January 20, 2008
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M.
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

Now Simulcasting 90.7 FM, and our new, stronger signal, 101.1 FM
email me during the show!

OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
We Are Normal and We Want Our Freedom by Bonzo Dog Band
Night Train to Spokane by Gas Huffer
Puzzlin' Evidence by The Talking Heads
Thunderball by Davie Allan & The Arrows
Showgirl by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
The Hump by Heavy Trash
Bad Kids by The Black Lips
The Crusher by The Cramps
Happy Happy Christians by The Click Kids

The Cutester Patrol by The Grandmothers
They Don't Want Me by Wall of Voodoo
Insult Song by The Fall
Legend of Hillbilly John by Half Japanese
Changing Colors by The Bell-Rays
I'm Through With White Girls by The Dirt Bombs
Push Up Man by The Fleshtones
New Spark by Johnny Powers & The A-Bones

Mr. Big Stuff by Jean Knight
Say It Loud, I'm Black and Proud by The Dynamites featuring Charles Walker
Nutbush City Limits by Ike & Tina Turner
I'm a Millionaire by Lee Fields
Across 110th Street by Bobby Womack
Raw Spitt by Swamp Dogg
The Collection Song by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
Funky Like Don King by Jon E. Edwards

Bro by Panda Bear
What Have My Chickens Done Now by The Residents
Yard by The Birthday Party
Murder's Crossed My Mind by Desdemona Finch
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Sunday, January 20, 2008


* Jukebox Explosion by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. I've missed Spencer in all his get-down gonzo glory. Heavy Trash, Spencer's latest rockabilly duo with Matt Verta-Ray is kind of fun, but it's just a light snack compared with the all-you-can-eat, Hound Dog Taylor-on-angel-dust banquet that was the Blues Explosion.

The JSBE seemed to be everywhere in the mid 90s. (They once opened for The Breeders at a Sweeney Center show here in Santa Fe.) The trio has released a couple of albums early this century, but none since 2004.

This is a collection of old singles that before now had been available only on 7-inch vinyl, which means only serious collectors had ever heard this stuff before. Fans won't be disappointed. All 18 tracks are joyful and noisy with Spencer howling like a soulman caught in a subway wreck.

* The Missing Link by Harmonica Frank Floyd. The first time I ever heard of Haronica Frank was in Greil Marcus' epic Mystery Train, in which he was the subject of the first chapter. Floyd was an archetypal American ramblin' trickster, picker and grinner, traveling the South in medicine shows and street corner concerts. He also was a true rock 'n' pioneer, recording for Sun Records in the early '50s -- even before Elvis.

This was recorded live (in Memphis schools) and in the studio in 1979, a couple of years after Mystery Train was published and a few years before his death. He sounds like a geezer here, (he was in his early 70s) almost like a cross between Hasil Adkins and Doc Watson. Frank and Hasil could have had a lot of fun together on "Shoop-a-Boop-a-Doodler."

The between-song patter is nearly as much fun. You learn Frank loves all kinds of music -- except that granda opera. He just hates it. And don't miss the wild bird calls in the track called "Without My Teeth."

* Hello by Half Japanese. This is a band, led by geek savaant jad Fair that I've been slowly discovering (over the past 15 years or so). This is a 2001 release featuring a good tight band with The Sadies' Dallas Good on guitar.

It's not quite as loosey goosey joyful as Sing No Evil, the last Half Japanese album I downloaded from eMusic (which I just realized is no longer available on eMusic!). But it's worthwhile. And "Mississippi," an electric organ and drum-driven dragstrip instrumental, is such a blast it's a wonder that Quintin Tarantino's never used it in a soundtrack.

* A Glint of The Kindling and Songs of Love and Parting by Robin Williamson . Some sheer Pagan joy by Williamson, who was half of The Incredible String Band. Glint was recorded with The Merry Band, which included harpist Sylvia Woods, while Parting was a solo album. Some of these tunes will take you back to the time when Druids roamed the Earth, a pastoral time when people expected their political leaders to be poets and singers. (Them was the days!) This is British folk-style music, yet little of this material sounds musty or academic.

Perhaps for nostalgic reasons, I just downloaded the original albums here, skipping, at least for now, the spoken word Five Bardic Mysteries bundled with the former or Selected Writings 1980-83 tacked onto the latter album. Both these albums made up a cassette tape my friend Parris made me, a tape that turned out to be one of my most played in the 1980s.

*Blues Masters Vol. 6 by Champion Jack Dupree. You might notice I'm posting this fairly late in the month. I've been so busy this past few weeks -- Christmas, my campaign-trail travels, the start of the Legislature -- that I haven't been downloading much from eMusic and in fact came within hours of losing 17 tracks. (As I've explained before, you have to download all your monthly allotment before your account refreshes, or you lose what you've got left over) Usually I get my 90 downloads within a couple of weeks.

So I was looking at new stuff available in eMusic's blues question and came across this. Bingo! Just a few nights ago I heard BC play a Champion Jack tune on KSFR's Blue Monday and liked it so much I thought I should check to see if eMusic had any good Dupree material. Double bingo! This abum has exactly 17 tracks.

New Orleans-born Champion Jack (1909-1992) was an ex-boxer who punched the keyboard like a sparring partner. His percussive barrelhouse style is unique but pure New Orleans. This album is full of standards -- "Sportin' Life," "CC Rider," "In the Evening," "Rock Me, Mama," "Tomorrow Night." But sometimes, such as his solo on "Careless Love," he makes an old song sound like something completely new.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Friday, January 18, 2008
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

Now Simulcasting 90.7 FM, and our new, stronger signal, 101.1 FM
email me during the show!

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
Big Iron by Mike Ness
Honky Tonk Hell by Webb Wilder
Okie Boogie by The Maddox Brothers & Rose
Hamburgers and Popcorn by Boozoo Chavis
Zydeco Road by Nathan & The Zydeco Cha Chas
Drinkin' on the Weekend by Big Al Anderson
Call of the Wreckin' Ball by John Doe
There'll Be No Distinction There by Bare Bones
When It's Springtime in Alaska by Johnny Horton

The Man I Shot/The Purgatory Line/Checkout Time in Vegas by The Drive-By Truckers
When Garlits Raced Malone by Ronny Elliott
The Snake by Johnny Rivers
The Times They Are a Changin' by Del McCoury Band
The Hucklebuck by The Riptones
Don't Go by Hundred Year Flood
River Ohio by Goshen
Big Balls in Cowtown by Don Walser
We've Got to Get Ourselves Together by The Flying Burrito Brothers Minglewood Blues by John Sebastian & The J Band with Geoff Muldaur
White House Blues by Earl Taylor & The Stoney Mountain Boys
When the Good and tne Bad Get Ugly by Butch Hancock
Mental Cruelty by Buck Owens & Rose Maddox
Rub-a-Dub-Dub by Hank Thompson

Perfidia by Sally Timms & Jon Rauhouse
Down Where the Drunkards Roll by Richard & Linda Thompson
Dream Operator by The Talking Heads
When the Circus Comes to Town by Los Lobos
Take Me by George Jones & Tammy Wynette
I Do Believe by Waylon Jennings with The Highwaymen
I Wish I Was in New Orleans by Tom Waits
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

Friday, January 18, 2008


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
January 18, 2008

If anyone was wondering whether the Drive-By Truckers was a band in decline, fear not. It’s true that their last album, A Blessing and a Curse was mediocre by Trucker standards. And it’s true that they lost guitarist/songwriter Jason Isbell. But their new album, Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, scheduled for release on Tuesday, Jan. 22, shows the Truckers at full-fighting strength.

The DBTs are sounding more country than they have in years. Part of that is due to the recent return of John Neff, original Trucker and pedal-steel player. His dreamy playing on “The Opening Act” sounds as if he’s been listening to Jerry Garcia’s first solo album.

It probably should have been apparent from last year’s “The Dirt Underneath” unplugged tour (which included a show at the Lensic) that the Truckers would be aiming for a more acoustic sound emphasizing melody. Perhaps there are too many slow ones here and not enough of the crazy rockers that the Truckers built their reputation on. But mellow doesn’t have to equal weak, as this album proves.

Also contributing mightily to the sound of this album is Muscle Shoals deity Spooner Oldham, who is basically an honorary Trucker, having played a major role in the Dirt Underneath tour.

Brighter Than Creation’s Dark shows the emergence of Shonna Tucker, the band’s bassist, as a singer and songwriter.

When I heard her first song on the album, “I’m Sorry Houston,” I had to check the credits to make sure that Neko Case wasn’t guesting. Tucker’s got a sweet, husky voice and a sexy Southern accent. She only has three songs here, the other two being “Home Field Advantage,” an all-out rocker that ends in a Yardbirds/Count Five guitar explosion, and a truly lovely tune called “The Purgatory Line.”

Among the highlights here are “Goode’s Field Road,” a song by Trucker-in-chief Patterson Hood that displays the dark bluesy sensibilities heard on Bettye LaVette’s The Scene of the Crime, on which the DBTs served as the backup band.

On “Checkout Time in Vegas,” a somber little tune with Neff’s steel playing off Oldham’s electric piano, Mike Cooley sings, “Bloody nose, empty pockets, a rented car, trunk full of guns.” It’s a loser’s lullaby in which you never quite find out what’s going on. You just know it’s a bad situation.

Another cool Cooley song is “Lisa’s Birthday,” an outright honky-tonker that almost sounds like some long-lost Willie Nelson song. “Lisa’s had more birthdays than there are sad country songs,” he sings.

The effect the Iraq war on those who fight it is the subject of two Hood songs. “The Home Front,” a slow, steady tune, is the story of a woman whose husband is killed in the war.

But far more powerful is “That Man I Shot,” which is a classic hard-edged Trucker rocker. “That man I shot was trying to kill me. ... That man I shot, I was in his homeland, I was there to help him, he didn’t want me there/I did not hate him/I still don’t hate him/He was trying to kill me/I had to take him down.”

Hood’s “Monument Valley” closes the album. It’s a slow, sad, contemplative tune, sweetened by Neff’s steel and referencing two John Ford/John Wayne movies (The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance). “When the dust all settles and the story is told/history is made by the side of the road/by the men and women who can persevere/and rage through the storm no matter how severe.”

Brighter Than Creation’s Dark is a long album. There are 19 songs totaling more than 70 minutes. In fact, my major problem with this work is its length. At this point, however, I’m not sure which tunes I’d eliminate.

Also recommended:

* Jalopypaint
by Ronny Elliott. Here’s another ace album by one of the free world’s most unjustly overlooked songwriters. As usual, this Tampa, Florida, roots-rocker fills the disc with wonderful story songs dealing with his heroes, a few villains, and objects of his lust. There’s lots of history, a little politics, and plenty of brooding about his life and career.

The album starts off with “Red Rumor Blues,” a meditation on the McCarthy era. The song ends with Elliott listing American icons who ended up on the blacklist — including some surprising names. Edward G. Robinson? Artie Shaw? Gypsy Rose Lee, for crying out loud?

There’s a cool Jesse James song here, “Great Train Robbery.” But that’s not as much fun as “When Garlits Raced Malone,” a rowdy little tune about Tampa drag-racing hero Don “Big Daddy” Garlits driving a dragster called Swamp Rat and taking on rival Art Malone in 1963. Elliott apparently saw the race when he was 16, but he was so caught up in the excitement he confesses, “I don’t remember who won that day when Garlits raced Malone.” (For the record, according to the National Hot Rod Association Web site, “Garlits defeated Malone with an 8.26 e.t. at 186 mph.”)

“Modern History” is a reminiscence of early sexual encounters. “Staring hard through my X-ray spex/I was desperate for romance, she was peddling sex.” The song also pays homage to Marilyn Monroe. “She slept with the brothers, they just had to kill her.”
As always, Elliott’s back-up band (they used to be called “The Nationals,” but they’re not credited as that on this album) is tight and masterful. On “St. Petersburg Jail,” Alex Spoto’s fiddle and Elliott’s mandolin bounce off Harry Hayward’s martial drums.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of hearing Ronny Elliott, this album is a good one to start with. But like the opium he sings about in “Brothels in China,” it is addictive.

Groundhog Day Special: The Flood is returning! Hundred Year Flood and Goshen are playing at the Santa Fe Brewing Company on Feb. 2. It’s $10 at the door, but check HYF’s MySpace page for info on $5 tickets.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
January 17, 2008

You must be bold to throw the word bold around as much as Bill Richardson does. He has used it liberally both at home and on the campaign trail during his recently concluded presidential run.
In his State of the State address on Tuesday, he used it five times.

“In this budget session, my agenda is focused and bold.”

“It’s been said that the future doesn’t belong to the faint of heart. It belongs to the brave and it belongs to the bold.”

“No one can question we’ve taken bold initiatives.”

“My agenda is bold and focused.”

“Now is no time to retreat from bold action.”

No question. The governor is focused on being known for being bold.

Bold Web site: Though Richardson dropped his presidential quest and returned to the best job in the world, he’s not officially seeking the vice presidency, but not ruling it out, if anyone invites him to that dance.

However, a Washington state Democratic activist and Richardson supporter has taken it upon himself to push for such an invitation.

Ken Camp, who helped run an independent “Washington for Richardson” blog (not affiliated to the campaign), last week started a “draft Richardson” blog.

“I whole-heartedly support Governor Bill Richardson, but I will delete this blog and the corresponding petition if asked to by Governor Richardson or any of his senior staff,” Camp wrote in his initial post. “I know the Governor has said he isn’t interested in being Vice-President, and if asked to cease my activities, I will.”

However, on Wednesday Camp said he hadn’t heard from Richardson or any of his staff so far, despite some buzz about his project in New Mexico blogdom.

There’s a link on the blog to an online petition Camp started. It touts Richardson’s experience and says: “We call on the Democratic nominee for President to make Bill Richardson his or her Vice-President.”

Camp said he’d collected “42 signatures as of a minute ago. Many of them are names I recognize as grass-roots supporters of Governor Richardson.”

Former Richardson campaign manager Dave Contarino, asked Wednesday about Camp’s Web said, “You can’t stop the people.”

Adair vindicated: The American Civil Liberties Union has dropped a lawsuit against state Sen. Rod Adair, R-Roswell.

Last year, the ACLU filed the suit on behalf of Virgil Beagles — a Roswell man who has written letters to newspapers criticizing Adair — who claimed he was barred from a legislative committee meeting last year. (Click HERE and scroll down for my original report on the lawsuit.)

As part of the settlement, the ACLU released a statement saying, “The parties acknowledge each other’s First Amendment Rights, including the right to comment upon the lawsuit and settlement. The ACLU of New Mexico acknowledges that Senator Rod Adair is a strong supporter of the U.S. and N.M. Constitutions. The parties mutually release each other from any and all claims arising from lawsuit.”

Adair reacted with typical humility (and perhaps slightly tongue-in-cheek), issuing a news release reporting he’d “won a historic victory.”

The release stated: “Adair acknowledged the clear and total victory in the case. ‘The statement they released concerning my well-known commitment to civil rights for everyone contradicts, word-for-word, the frivolous complaint they had filed,’ he said. ‘I cannot imagine a more complete surrender by anyone in any case in New Mexico history.’ ”

Adair’s original settlement offer demanded the ACLU donate $10,000 to the Boy Scouts in Roswell, but that didn’t happen.

“They clearly indicated that would be a humiliation that would embarrass them nationally,” Adair wrote. “Observers believed that given the ACLU’s fanatical opposition to the Boy Scouts, they would bring in perhaps up to a dozen more lawyers from around the country to fight that provision of the settlement. ‘My counsel indicated that it might be best for the taxpayers in the long run to accept the ACLU’s offer of unconditional surrender as it was.’ "

The ACLU has opposed government funding for the Boy Scouts because the organization does not allow gays.

State ACLU spokeswoman Whitney Porter, asked to comment on the Adair statement, said, “The ACLU feels the point was made that all citizens have the right under the First Amendment to access the legislative process.”

UPDATE: (Friday, Jan. 18, 2008) I changed the Richardson petition link, which, as Ken Camp informed me, has been combined with two other independent "draft Richardson" petitions that sprang up last week.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


It's Legislature time, so once again I'm going to become a two-fisted blogger.

I'll be posting my Legislature news, etc. on Steve Terrell's NM Legislature Blog. My columns (music and political), radio play lists, and various rants will still end up on this blog.

My new Capitol Bureau partner Kate Nash is blogging too. She started yesterday. She's way ahead of me. Kate's blog, Green Chili Chatter, can be found HERE.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Sunday, January 13, 2008
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M.
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

Now Simulcasting 90.7 FM, and our new, stronger signal, 101.1 FM
email me during the show!

OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
The End by Buick McKane
Waves of Fear by Lou Reed
D's Diner by The Les Claypool Frog Brigade
Honky's Ladder by Afghan Whigs
Goddamn Rock 'n' Roll by The Cramps
I'm Fried by The Stooges
Married, Two Kids by The Fall
Later That Night by Ruben & The Jets

All the Nation's Airports by The Archers of Loaf
Pretty Beat by The Pretty Things
Double SHot by Southern Culture on the Skids
Part of Your Plan by The Oblivions
Murder in the Graveyard by Screaming Lord Sutch
Stumblin' Man by TAD
Legs by PJ Harvey
Pinon Lurker by The Gluey Brothers

Not a Crime by Gogol Bordello
Tijuana Hit Squad by Deadbolt
Sick Boys by Social Distortion
Square One Here I Come by The Hives
Pick Me Up by Dinosaur Jr.
God is a Bullet by Concrete Blonde
Rooster Blues by Sleepy LaBeef

Pull My Daisy by David Amram
Humble Me by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
America is Bleeding by Swamp Dogg
I Still Want to Be Your Baby (Take Me Like I Am) by Bettye LaVette
Stop the Train by Mother Earth
She Sang Angels to Rest by Richard Thompson
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Friday, January 11, 2008
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

email me during the show!

Now Simulcasting 90.7 FM, and our new, stronger signal, 101.1 FM

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
The Road Goes on Forever by Robert Earl Keen
Take Me to the Fires by The Waco Brothers
Jericho Road by Steve Earle
The Ballad of Speedy Atkins by The Legendary Shack Shakers
Texas Me by James Luther Dickinson
Watergate Blues by Tom T. Hall
John Brown's Body by Marah
Drinking Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee by Johnny Burnette & The Rock 'n' Roll Trio
I Want to Be Hugged to Death by You by Waycross

Bob/Home Field Advantage by Drive-By Truckers
You Win Again by Mother Earth
Secrets to the Grave by Ronny Elliott
Airline to Heaven by Wilco
All the Time in Airports by The Handsome Family
Silver Wings by Merle Haggard

Hot Burrito #1/Hot Burrito #2 by The Flying Burrito Brothers
$1000 Wedding by The Mekons
A Song For You by Whiskeytown
Wheels by The Coal Porters
Hickory Wind by Bob Mould & Vic Chestnut
Sin City by The Flying Burrito Brothers

The Thunderer by Dion
Angel of the Morning by Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez
Fare Thee Well Sweet Malley/Return No More by Robin Williamson
A Place to Hang My Hat by Porter Wagoner
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

Friday, January 11, 2008


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
January 11, 2008

All of us who loved the original Flying Burrito Brothers should be taken aback by the billing on the new double CD, Live at the Avalon Ballroom 1969. It's credited to Gram Parsons with the Flying Burrito Brothers.
True, the late Parsons was the greatest talent in the band, but Chris Ethridge, "Sneaky" Pete Kleinow, and Chris Hillman (especially) were no mere sidemen. I suppose this album's billing was necessary because the late Kleinow kept the band alive for years and years cranking out increasingly generic country rock, almost as if Ringo had called his various touring groups the Beatles instead of his "All-Starr Band."

But make no mistake; this is the original Burrito Brothers in all their ragged glory, captured live in two San Francisco shows in April 1969 when the Burritos opened for the Grateful Dead.

No, these tracks, recorded by Dead pal and LSD guru Owsley Stanley, won't displace The Gilded Palace of Sin — the Burritos' classic debut album. The sound quality is lo-fi, and the harmonies of Parsons and Hillman often are seat-of-the-pants.

But, containing some of the only live recordings of this influential band in its most creative period, Avalon Ballroom 1969 is essential for Parsons/Burritos fans.

There are lots of Gilded Palace tunes here — "Dark End of the Street," "Sin City," "Do Right Woman," "Hot Burrito #1," and "Hot Burrito #2." In fact, the latter two are included on both discs. (I'm still trying to figure out who's the uncredited organist playing like crazy on the "Hot Burrito" tunes.)

There are some of the band's good-time country stompers ("Close Up the Honky-Tonks," "You're Still On My Mind," "You Win Again"). And years before the hip world glommed onto Willie and Waylon, they covered Nelson's "Undo the Right" and Mel Tillis' "Mental Revenge," which was a hit for Jennings. And there are some cool rockers: Little Richard's "Lucille" and a hopped-up take on Roy Orbison's "Dream Baby."

In addition to the Avalon concerts, a couple of previously unreleased demos are ied here. The version of The Everly Brothers' "When Will I Be Loved" is basically a mess. But "Thousand Dollar Wedding," which years later would emerge on Parsons' final solo album, Grievous Angel, is stunning. It's just Gram banging a piano. But all the pain is there.

Even after two discs, I'm hungry for more. I wish the Brothers had done a version of "Christine's Tune," and — oh Mama, sweet Mama — where's "Juanita"?

Unfortunately, there's just not that much live Parsons-era Burrito material that made it to tape, so I'm just thankful for what we've got here.

Also recommended:

* Son of Skip James by Dion. They called him The Wanderer, but after this, they should call him The Thunderer.

This veteran rocker's new record is a pleasant and credible collection of (mostly) blues covers. It's loaded with too many familiar standards — "Hoochie Coochie Man," "My Babe," a couple of Robert Johnson tunes, and, of course, one by Skip James, "Devil Got My Woman."

But on this record, God trumps the devil for sheer rock 'n' roll power. I'm talking about a strange little tune called "The Thunderer," which is based on a poem by Phyllis McGinley (1905-1978) about the life of St. Jerome (not "a plaster sort of saint," McGinley and Dion tell us). Dion put the poem to music. He gave it thunder.

"God's angry man, his crotchety scholar/Was St. Jerome, the great name-caller/Who cared not a dime for the laws of libel/And in his spare time translated the Bible/Saint Jerome the Thunderer," Dion sings. "Quick to disparage all joys but learning/Jerome liked marriage better than burning/But didn't like women's painted cheeks/Didn't like Romans, didn't like Greeks/Hated pagans for their pagan ways/Yet doted on Cicero all of his days."

Dion's one of the only rockers tough enough to sing about doting on Cicero and get away with it.

It's a spare, minor-key song featuring Dion on acoustic guitar with Rick Crive. This is one of the strongest examples of religious rock since Bob Dylan's Slow Train Coming.

* Pull My Daisy ... and Other Jazz Classics by David Amram Quartet. The cover of this re-issued album is misleading. Above the title are the names Jack Kerouac and David Amram. However, this was recorded in the late '80s, about 20 years after Kerouac hit that great road in the sky.

But his spirit definitely is present in the title song, with lyrics written by Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Neal Cassady. Jazzbo Amram, a singer, multi-instrumentalist and Kerouac pal, put the poem to music. It ended up as the theme song to a 1959 short film that became
a Beat Generation underground touchstone

The song is a jaunty little jazz number. Amram leaves out the dirty verses, but it's fun just the same.

"Pull my daisy/Tip my cup/All my doors are open/Cut my thoughts for coconuts/All my eggs are broken."

He improvises some new verses about how out-of-sight it is to be playing for the good foia. ("If Jack himself were here, he'd be sitting on conga drums and sharing in this cosmic cheer.")

The rest of the album consists of standards: "Take the 'A' rain," "Summertime," "Red River Valley." Not bad background music. But not on the same level of cosmic joy of the title song.


Highly unlikely, but one libertarian who is disenchanted by Ron Paul is looking toward the Land of Enchantment. CLICK HERE.


Gov. Bill Richardson made his departure from the presidential race official Thursday.
My story in the New Mexican can be found HERE .

My new Capitol Bureau partner, Kate Nash did a story pondering what's next for the governor. You can find that HERE .

Richardson's withdrawal was expected. But one surprise today was how he treated the New Mexico press corps. Before Richardson appeared in the Rotunda, his chief campaign flack Pahl Shipley announced that Richardson would not answer questions after his announcement. That in itself isn't exactly surprising. While I was in Iowa and New Hampshire the past few days, practically the only thing that Richardson spokesman Tom Reynolds ever said to me was "The governor's not taking any questions."

But where did Richardson go immediately after his speech? To the Capitol television studio to do interviews on Fox News and CNN.

Watch Matt Grubbs' report on KOAT -- specifically the last part. You'll see campaign aide Katie Roberts telling local reporters to "please show respect" for the governor as he goes about his "official business."

Official business meaning holing up in the television studio for an hout and a half so he could be on national t.v.

After chatting it up with Wolf Blitzer and Neil Cavuto, Richardson left the studio, not saying a word to New Mexico reporters, surrounded by aides who hustled him up a nearby stairwell. That's also shown in the KOAT report.

This made me think of a recent interview with a political science professor in Iowa who told me that Richardson "seemed to be playing to the national media that's here and not Iowans."

A few hours later, while Kate and I were working on our stories, Richardson once again went to the capitol studio which is next to our office. He shouted playfully, "I snubbed you guys" before going in the studio.

When he was finished (and we still were slaving away on our stories), Richardson tapped on our window. I asked, "Why did you snub us, governor?" He just smiled and kept walking. Like it was a big joke.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
January 10, 2008


MANCHESTER, N.H. — When on the morning of the New Hampshire primary you eat in a cafe that has large painted caricatures of presidential contenders of yore on an outside wall, you might run into some real live candidates.

That was the case Tuesday when I decided it wouldn’t be a New Hampshire election trip without a breakfast at the Merrimack Restaurant.

Located on Elm Street, downtown Manchester’s main drag, the unpretentious diner is a mandatory drop-in spot for presidential candidates.

On Tuesday morning, two New Hampshire radio stations plus a CBS network radio crew were broadcasting live from the Merrimack.

WSMN-AM of Nashua, N.H., was using the booth right beside mine. And while I was making my way through my “international” omelet, not one, but two presidential candidates showed up to be interviewed.

First was libertarian Republican Ron Paul, who had just flown in from Los Angeles after an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno the night before. “I had to come back to do this show,” the Texan quipped.
Before Paul finished, the next guest arrived — Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio. The two congressmen greeted each other by their first names before Kucinich took the booth. Paul made his way toward the front of the restaurant, perhaps for a quick chat with one of the other stations.
Kucinich, whose local campaign headquarters was located in an office above the Merrimack, later settled into another booth for some breakfast.

On beyond Gravel: OK, Paul only pulled about 8 percent of the Republican ballots in New Hampshire (and, for the record, got a few thousand more votes than Gov. Bill Richardson) and Kucinich only got 1 percent of those who voted as Democrats, but at least you probably know their names. But that may not be the case for a majority of the candidates who appeared on the New Hampshire ballot.

There were 13 Democrats and 13 Republicans who never were included in any of the televised debates.
Go ahead and hate your neighbor
One of the Democrats is Tom Laughlin, the actor who starred in the Billy Jack hippie action-hero movies in the 1970s. One of the Republicans is a character called Vermin Supreme, who apparently views politics as performance art. He had ominous signs on Elm Street that said “Lies for Less.”

I met one of the unknown Republicans on Sunday night after finishing dinner at the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester. “I’m Mark Klein and I’m running for president,” said a white-haired older gentleman who handed me a full-color campaign pamphlet. Klein is a psychiatrist from Oakland, Calif.

I asked him why he was spending money pursuing such a long-shot candidacy.

“Because I’m an adult, I’m a parent and a grandparent,” he said.

I dunno. I think Billy Jack might have a better argument.

Coffee with Chelsea: I decided to get some caffeine while waiting for Richardson to show up at the Breaking New Grounds coffee house in downtown Portsmouth on Monday. There were two young women looking at the pastry counter who I thought might be waiting to place an order. I asked if they were in line. “No, sir, go ahead.” So I got my coffee and went to a place where I could watch the front door for the governor of New Mexico.

Waiting beside me was a woman with a reporter’s notebook. I assumed she was there for the same reason I was, so I asked her who she worked for. She said she was with the Boston Globe. I was surprised. Except for his appearance on the ABC News debate, Richardson’s free media attention seemed to be drying up more every day. But actually she wasn’t there for Richardson. She said she was part of a pool following around Chelsea Clinton.

Chelsea was there? It turned out she was one of the women by the pastry counter.

(I didn’t realize it at the time, but just a few blocks away and a few minutes before, Chelsea’s mom had choked up while speaking to undecided voters at another Portsmouth coffee house, creating one of the most discussed New Hampshire political moments of the young year.)

A few moments later, Chelsea began working the crowd. She extended her hand and introduced herself and made a pitch for her mom.

I couldn’t resist. Having read about the incident in Iowa in which Chelsea told a 9-year-old “kid reporter” from Scholastic News, “I’m sorry, I don’t talk to the press and that applies to you, unfortunately. Even though I think you’re cute.”

So I said, “I’m a reporter, so you’d better not talk to me.”

Chelsea just smiled. “Oh well, I can still say hi.”

I thought that was pretty classy. But I would have felt better had she said I was cute.

Older New Hampshire memories: Richardson isn’t the only New Mexican who ran for president but made a disappointing showing in New Hampshire. However, when former U.S. Sen. Fred Harris ran in 1976, he was an Oklahoman.

On Tuesday, Harris didn’t want to say whether or when he thought Richardson should throw in the towel if he came up short in the Granite State. Harris, a Richardson campaign contributor, is a former New Mexico Democratic Party chairman.

“Every campaign, every candidate is different,” Harris said.

In his presidential campaign, Harris said, he came in third in Iowa and was expected to do well in New Hampshire. But that year, there was a presidential caucus in Oklahoma — the state he’d represented in the U.S. Senate — between Iowa and New Hampshire. “The governor of Oklahoma was strongly backing Jimmy Carter, so I had to put all my resources there instead of New Hampshire,” Harris said.

Harris came in fourth in the New Hampshire primary. Raising money became next to impossible, and news coverage of his campaign quickly dried up, Harris recalled. “It became clear to me and my closest people that it was out of the question that I could win,” Harris said. “I knew in my own mind it was over.”

Still, his campaign went on.

“I couldn’t pull out,” he said. “The Service Employee International Union, which had endorsed me, wanted me to stay on at least until the Wisconsin primary. And I was waiting for my (Federal Election Commission) matching funds, which had been held up in the courts.” The federal funds were necessary to repay campaign debts — including a mortgage on his house.

When he lost New Hampshire, Harris, unlike Richardson — who acted as if his 5 percent showing was a victory — acknowledged he’d been beaten. In one of the funniest concession speeches ever, Harris said he lost because the “little people” he’d been fighting for in his campaign “couldn’t reach the voting levers.”

Harris moved to New Mexico not long after that race.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008


I stole this photo from the New York Times. I hope Nathaniel Brookes doesn't mind. I forgot my own camera last night and besides, I wouldn't have been able to get me (the guy in the hat) chasing Richardson from his "The Fight Goes On" speech to his escape vehicle.

So apparently sometime between telling his New Hampshire supporters that he was still in the race and the time I finally landed in Albuquerque after a day of airport hopping, Richardson decided that five percent really isn't a mandate to go on. Check Associated Press story HERE.

The campaign is neither conforming or denying it, of course. All the national stories say an announcement is scheduled for tomorrow, but at this writing I've received no word. Stay tuned.


Another single-digit showing, another rousing victory speech. Dogs bark, the Richardson carnival goes on.

My analysis of Richardson's New Hampshire showing is HERE. Some of the experts I talked to said he might be staying in to increase his chances to get chosen for vice president or another major appointment in a Democratic administration. But I'm not sure how much it's going to help to get more 5-percent finishes.

But I can't worry about that right now. I have to catch a plane back to New Mexico.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008


And the Merrimack Restaurant in Manchester was crawling with politicians.


My analysis of where the Richardson campaign is can be found HERE.

All my New Hampshire photos are HERE

Ans, for nostalgia sake, all my Iowa photos are HERE.

Monday, January 07, 2008



It's the day before the primary. Gov. Bill Richardson has several stops today, but, unlike the frantic pace of the day before the Iowa Caucus, his schedule is pretty relaxed.

I followed him around in Portsmouth, where by chance he appeared in the same downtown coffee shop (Breaking New Grounds) where Chelsea Clinton was grabbing a cup to go. I managed to catch unforunate expressions on both after they exchanged greetings.

Be sure to catch tomorrow's New Mexican for more coverage.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Is there a secret Gravel surge in the works?
Believe it or not, Manchester is a lot warmer than Iowa was, at least the frst couple of days I was in Iowa.

You can find my story about Richardson's chances in the New Hampshire primary HERE. I saw him up in Concord yesterday morning and I must say the speech he gave there was one of the best I've heard him give in any of his campaigns. I can't help but think his standing in the race would have been a lot better at this point had Richardson's speeches and debate appearances been as good as his talk in Concord.
Speaking of debates, my analysis of last night's debate on ABC can be found HERE .

Basically, Richardson didn't do a bad job in this debate -- when he was able to squeeze in the discussion. But for much of the debate he was the fifth wheel in the "final four" debate.

And I suppose if he were a front-runner there would have been more attention paid to Richardson saying he would negotiate with "The Soviet Union" if he's elected.

Check out my snapshots HERE. (Keep clicking at the bottom of that page and you'll find pictures I took here last summer.)

Friday, January 04, 2008



My analysis of Bill Richardson's fourth-place finish in Iowa, in which he won two percent of the delegates, can be found HERE

My sidebar about the caucus I attended at Lincoln High School in Des Moines is HERE .

And there's more pictures of Caucus night on my FLICKR site.


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
January 4, 2008

We’re a relatively young country, but the United States of America has a rich history of music. Not only that, we’ve got a rich history of songs about our rich history.

Just ask Ed Pettersen. Ed is a poet, picker, and “punk-blues” purveyor and producer living for the past several years in Nashville.

And with a team that includes Janet Reno, he put together Song of America, a big, old, various-artist collection of songs outlining the strange and complicated history of this great land — both the official version and various alternate views that go beyond the wars, political campaigns, and other stuff they teach in school. There are patriotic tunes, protest songs, musical retellings of historic events, and songs about changes in our society.

Janet Reno? Yes that Janet Reno. This is her dance party. She’s the aunt of Pettersen’s wife, Jane and it was her idea to put together such a collection after she heard Ed sing a few history-related folk songs at a family get-together. The former attorney general is listed as an executive producer for Song of America.

This three-disc set is a good companion to another three-disc set, Freedom: Songs From the Heart of America, released by Columbia Legacy a few years ago as a soundtrack to the PBS series Freedom: A History of US. Freedom covers a lot of the same ground as Song of America.

In fact, many songs like “This Land Is our Land,” “Home on the Range,” “The Times They Are Changin’,” and “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” can be found in both collections. But Freedom consists mostly of historic recordings — original songs by Louis Armstrong, Gene Autry, Paul Robeson, Kate Smith, Bob Dylan — while Song for America consists of all-new versions of songs recorded by contemporary musicians especially for this project. And Pettersen’s collection covers one important aspect of the American story that Freedom, for reasons I’m not sure of, barely touches upon — displacement and immigration.
Ed Pettersen, right, with Scott Kempner,left

The first disc of Song of America starts out with “Lakota Dream Song” sung by Earl Bullhead (and produced by Albuquerque’s Tom Bee of SOAR — Sound of America Records), establishing the fact that the story of this country isn’t only the story of Europeans.

There is another song about Native Americans called “Trail of Tears,” performed by the duo Will and Jehnean. Then there’s a tough version of “Apache Tears,” written in the early ’60s by Johnny Cash and performed here by rocker Scott Kempner (formerly of The Dictators and The Del-Lords).

There also are songs of the Irish, like “Thousands Are Sailing to Amerikay” performed by Tim O’Brien, and European Jews, like “Sleep My Child (”Schlof Mayn Kind”). There are two songs about Mexican immigrants: Woody Guthrie’s “Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)” done here by Old Crow Medicine Show, and Alejandro Escovedo’s “Wave” performed by Gary Heffern & Chris Eckman. (Singer Heffern, an acquaintance of mine, is an interesting study in immigration himself. A Finnish orphan adopted by American parents, he returned to his homeland a few years ago.)

The issues of race and slavery also are prominent. Two of the strongest tracks are James Brown’s “Say It Loud, I’m Black and Proud,” covered by Nashville soul revivalists The Dynamites with Charles Walker, and a hopped-up hiss-and-vinegar “John Brown’s Body” by Marah, who sound stronger than they have in years.

There’s also the recurring theme of rebellion. “John Brown’s Body” is a prime example. Pettersen sings “The Liberty Song,” a Revolutionary War tune that the liner notes say “was perhaps our first protest song.” Harper Simon (Paul’s kid) does a defiant “Yankee Doodle” (backed by Country Joe on pennywhistle!) that ends in a crazy guitar grunge-out. And there’s even a version of Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message” by Atlanta rapper Shortee Wop.

And there are songs from the working man and woman’s perspective. Freedy Johnston sings a bluegrassy take on the Industrial Revolution lament “Peg and Awl,” while country star Suzy Bogguss does a sweet, jazzy “Rosie the Riveter,” a salute to women working the factories during World War II.

There are plenty of musical highlights here. Bettye LaVette sings a soulful take on Bruce Springsteen’s “Streets of Philadelphia.” Chris and Rich Robinson, of The Black Crowes, team up with their father, Stan, as Folk Family Robinson and sing a spirited “Reuben James” (a song co-written by Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Millard Lampell).

For pure weirdness, I’m very taken by raspy-voiced folkie Malcom Holcombe’s “The Old Woman Taught Wisdom,” a 1767 song based on an extended metaphor urging King George and the Colonies to patch things up. And speaking of Brits, John Wesley Harding sings a version of “God Save the Queen,” with a horn section that gets more discordant with each verse.

If there’s one problem with Song of America it’s that some performers tend to get maudlin and reverent about their material. There are a few slow spots when you try to plough through the whole album all at once. But even in some of those slow, maudlin, too-reverent songs, you can gain unexpected insights. I hadn’t heard or thought of Alan Jackson’s tear-jerking Sept. 11 lament “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning” in several years. But hearing country duo The Wrights sing it, part of the refrain stuck with me:
“I’m just a singer of simple songs/I’m not a real political man/ I watch CNN but I’m not sure I can tell you/The difference in Iraq and Iran/But I know Jesus and I talk to God.”
It’s true. Songs aren’t just important to our history. Sometimes the lyrics can serve as the basis of our foreign policy.

Thursday, January 03, 2008



My story about Bill Richardson's last-day campaign effort can be found HERE.

My snapshots of Iowa -- sorry, not very many so far -- are HERE.

And get a load of this report about a deal between Richardson and Obama. The Richardson camp is denying it, for the record.

About three hours until the caucusing starts.


DES MOINES, IOWA — Before I left New Mexico, I was joking with friends that I expected to be tripping over Bill Richardson’s “Road Runners” — supporters from New Mexico who are campaigning for the governor here in the land of the eastern goldfinch.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised when only moments after stepping off the plane at Des Moines International Airport on Tuesday, I heard someone call my name.

It was Geno Zamora, former chief counsel for Richardson’s office and candidate for state attorney general.

He was heading back to Santa Fe after roadrunning for Richardson for several days in Iowa. Zamora said he’d spent hours on the phone talking up Richardson to potential caucus supporters and also had done some basic grunt work, taping up banners and greeting people at Richardson appearances.

“It’s my 10th anniversary,” he said. “I had to choose between my wife and the governor.”
Zamora said he and his wife, Sheila, were going to the Fiesta Bowl, which took place Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz.

A few minutes later, as I went outside to pick up my rental car and felt the cold wind in the near-zero weather, a football game in Arizona sounded like a great idea.

Weather or not: Of course, being the political junkie I am, after feeling the cold blast, my next thought was what effect the weather — which Des Moines locals say is the coldest in months — would have on the caucuses.

Conventional wisdom is bad weather would hurt candidates such as U.S. Sen. Barack Obama who are counting on new, young and first-time caucus-goers while helping U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, reputed to have a polished get-out-the-vote machine, and former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, who is strong with unions and has a base of longtime supporters going back to the 2004 election.

But some have speculated the cold and ice might hurt Clinton, who is depending on support from older voters.

What about Richardson? I’m assuming he’s less worried about the temperature remaining in single digits than he is about his poll numbers doing the same.

The good news is the weather forecast shows it might get all the way up to 30 degrees today.
I’m still wondering why Iowans and New Hampshirites are more qualified than, say, Hawaiians for taking the first crack at picking the president.

TV madness: Since arriving here, I’ve made it a point to watch some local television, mainly to check out the political ads.

It’s no surprise — they are thick and they are maddening. Just as New Mexico television will be come late October.

I’ve seen seemingly endless ads for Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Fred Thompson ... but no Bill Richardson.

Not on television at least. Two or three times on Iowa radio Wednesday, I heard a spot for the governor paid for by Star Pac, an anti-war group that has endorsed Richardson because of his promise to get all troops out of Iraq in his first year in office.

Only a couple of months ago, Richardson was leading the Democratic pack in number of television commercials. However, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus, by early December, he had fallen well behind Obama and Clinton. Obama by Dec. 2 had purchased more than 10,000 television and radio spots in Iowa. Clinton had bought more than 7,700. Richardson was in third place with 6,984. All but about 1,100 of Richardson’s spots ran before early October.

On Wednesday, Richardson told a small group at an event in Dubuque that candidates shouldn’t be chosen on the basis of who has the most money or has run the most ads.

Do the math: Richardson had appearances Wednesday in seven Iowa cities scattered all over the state. A grueling schedule to be sure.

But the more Richardson talked about it, the more grueling it became.

At his morning stop in Dubuque, the candidate said he had events in eight cities.

By Wednesday afternoon, he told a group he was appearing in 10 cities.

I’m not sure whether the number grew to 15 by the time he got to Iowa City — his seventh and final event of the day.

But give him credit: Whatever you can say about Richardson, at least the governor takes questions from the public at most of his campaign appearances.
An article in the Des Moines Register on Tuesday called Clinton on the fact that she hardly ever takes questions at her rallies, reporting: “Out of her 21 campaign rallies in Iowa since Christmas, Clinton has done three audience Q&As.”

While only a fraction of Iowa voters actually take part in the caucuses, the ones who do take them seriously. People I interviewed at Richardson events say they’ve gone to hear most, and in some cases all, the candidates. They actually read the position papers and compare. They ask intelligent questions and expect serious answers.

You can debate how well Richardson and other candidates answer the questions. But at least they put it on the line.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008



I'm about to set out for Dubuque to cover a Bill Richardson "job interview." I'm dreading going outside. It supposedly got down to 2 below zero here last night and the locals are saying yesterday was the coldest it's been here for months. Just my luck ...

I'll be at two or three Richardson events today, so watch the New Mexican.

Here's a link to my piece on Iowa from Tuesday's paper.

And here's a story I wrote about replacing the late Senate president Pro-tem Ben Altamirano, published today.


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