Saturday, May 31, 2008


It's official. Sen. Pete Domenici endorsed Heather Wilson in the Republican Senate primary late Friday -- just two weeks after he said he wouldn't endorse anyone.

Wilson announced the endorsement at a televised debate Friday night. But the offical statemetn didn't come until almost an hour and a half after the debate.

It was the Club For Growth ads -- the ones that call Wilson a "liberal" -- that pushed him over. Domenici had raised the possibility that he might make an endorsement if one of the candidates did something "untoward."

Readers of my column (and this blog) might have suspected something was up last week when I asked a Domenici spokesman if the senator considered these ads "untoward" and I got a "No comment" in response.

The big question now" Is it too late to help Wilson, who is behind in the polls.


ALBUQUERQUE – U.S. Senator Pete Domenici today issued the following statement regarding the Republican primary race for the U.S. Senate seat he has held for almost 36 years:

"Heretofore I have been reserved in commenting on the Republican primary race for the U.S. Senate. However, I have become increasingly concerned that, even after I asked that the Club for Growth not be allowed to try to influence this election, they put at least $200,000 in television advertising in this race to try to do just that. I continue to believe that such outside influences should not be used to try to influence the voters of New Mexico.

"As I said today in Socorro when asked about tonight's debate, Heather Wilson is the brightest member of Congress I know and I hope she wins. I do want to tell all New Mexicans that today I cast my vote for Heather Wilson in the Senate race. Having brought her into politics, I have the utmost confidence in her abilities to serve New Mexicans and Americans.."

Here's one of those Club for Growth ads. I believe this is the one that stuck in Domenici's craw.

Friday, May 30, 2008


Friday, May 30, 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
Road Hawg by Joe Ely
Space Hog by DM Bob & Country Jem
Hoy Hoy by The Collins Kids
The Man I Shot by The Drive-By Truckers
Freeway View by James McMurtry
Pairie Ronde by Mama Rosin
Down in the Bayou by The Watzloves
Uncle Bud by Boozoo Chavis
Lulu's Back in Town by The Dead Brothers

Deep Blue Sea by Otis Taylor with Alvin Youngblood Hart
Walk Right In by Otis Taylor with Corey Harris & Don Vappie
The Way It Goes by Otis Taylor with Keb Mo'
Ants on the Melon by The Gourds
Carve That Possum by Tom, Brad & Alice
Flight of The Bumblebee by Eugene Chadbourne
Trainwreck of Emotion by Del McCoury
Grizzly Bear by Eric Von Schmidt & Rolf Cahn
Cunla by The Chieftains with Colin James

(All songs by Utah, unless otherwise noted)

Enola Gay
Daddy, What's a Train
The Green Rolling Hills by Kathy Mattea
The Miner's Lullaby by Kate Brislin & Jody Stetcher
The Great Turtle Race/Goodnight Loving Trail
I've Got to Know
Going Away by The Flatlanders
Lawrence/Bread and Roses by Utah Phillips & Ani DiFranco
Starlight on the Rails
The Moscow Hold
Rock Salt and Nails by Buddy & Julie Miller
Moose Turd Pie
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
May 30, 2008

“You Just Can’t Play a Sad Song on a Banjo,” is the name of a song Willie Nelson covered a few years ago:

“Now bad news just won’t hang around the banjo/Old dismal gloom will have to disappear/A sad song can’t be played so please don’t be afraid/Cause you just can’t play a sad song on the banjo.”
Steve Martin, a banjo picker as well as a comedian, has made similar statements. Back in the ’70s (when he was funny), Martin had a routine that got a lot of laughs when he suggested Richard Nixon would have had a much better time had he only played the banjo.

Of course it’s not true that there’s no sad songs on the banjo. Classic bluegrass tunes like “Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake,” “Beautiful Blue Eyes” and various tales of murder, mining disasters, and crib death can hardly be classified as cheerful little ditties. And in recent years, Tom Waits and acolytes such as The Dead Brothers from Switzerland have used banjos to create spooky, atmospheric sounds.
Otis and his pals

And now Otis Taylor and a small army of his contemporary blues honchos completely blow that “happy banjo” theory to smithereens on Taylor’s latest album Recapturing the Banjo. There are sad songs, intense songs, and even a few that hint at “old dismal gloom” on this album.

Like on all Otis Taylor albums, the songs’ lyrics speak of slavery, poverty, death, and tragic love, and there are even some tales of black cowboys. To be sure, there are some cool upbeat tracks, too, like Gus Cannon’s jug-band stomper “Walk Right In” and the Haitian kiddie song “Les Oignons.”

So why does the banjo have to be “recaptured”?

In modern times when someone thinks of a banjo, it’s in terms of bluegrass or other “hillbilly” music. Or cornball Shakey’s Pizza nostalgia Americana — white-bread Americana. Or even worse, it conjures up racist imagery of black-face minstrels plunking the banjo and singing about eatin’ possum with the old folks back home.
Play Mr. Banjo!
In recent decades, black musicians have shunned the banjo to an overwhelming extent. In an interview earlier this year in No Depression, jazz-banjo master Don Vappie, who plays four-string tenor banjo on Taylor’s album, said, “The banjo has many stereotypes to overcome. A lot of black people hate the banjo, because it has come to stand for a very oppressive time.”

The banjo, or at least an early version of it, was brought to America by slaves. It originated as an instrument used by griots, the traditional bards of West Africa. As Vappie explained, “Here’s an instrument that was part of a culture — part of a people — who were taken from where they are and brought somewhere else. And over time, those people had learned to hate something that was part of them, part of their past.”

Vappie has made a career of the banjo — which had an important place in the music of early New Orleans jazz bands. Taylor — who didn’t begin his career as a solo bluesman until the mid-1990s, when he was in his 40s — also has been a proponent of the instrument going back to his late ’90s album Blue-Eyed Monster.

In some ways Recapturing the Banjo is almost like a mini Otis Taylor retrospective. It features new versions of old Taylor songs such as “Bow-Legged Charlie” and “Five-hundred Roses” (both from his album When Negroes Walked the Earth); the garage-band standard/Jimi Hendrix classic “Hey Joe,” which was on Blue-Eyed Monster; and “Ten Million Slaves.” (I have to admit, I prefer the original version of “Ten Million Slaves,” which was on his 2001 album Respect the Dead. The original had a banjo, but it also had a cool fuzzy guitar by Otis’ former lead ax-man Eddie Turner.)

And in some ways, Banjo is almost like a modern blues summit, featuring collaborations with the likes of Alvin Youngblood Hart, Corey Harris, Guy Davis, and Keb’ Mo’. All play banjo and contribute vocals. Taylor magnanimously lets his guests take center stage on some tunes. And the whole affair comes off more like an organic jam among friends than a tacky marketing ploy, which is a huge problem with many guest-heavy albums.

Hart contributes an original song, “Prophets’ Mission,” but his best moment here is his singing of the traditional tune “Deep Blue Sea,” which features percussion reminiscent of Otha Turner’s Mississippi fife-and-drum music.

And even though just a few weeks ago I wrote in these pages that I wasn’t the biggest fan of Keb’ Mo’, his song “The Way It Goes,” which ends this album, is a true delight. It’s just Keb’ — his banjo, his voice — singing about the need to slow down in life.

Still, the real champ on this record is a new original Taylor song; “Absinthe” makes my heart grow fonder. Not only are there dueling banjos but also a dreamlike coronet by Ron Miles and ghostly background vocals by Taylor’s daughter Cassie all over second-line drumming.

While Taylor and friends want to “recapture” the banjo, this album never comes off as some historic-preservation project. It’s just good American music.

Also recommended
JUKE JOINT PIMPS *Boogie the House Down Juke Joint Style by The Juke Joint Pimps. This is good stinky blues from Cologne, Germany. This duo, singer/guitarist T-Man and drummer/harmonica-man Mighty Mike play it nice and primitive like a Teutonic version of T-Model Ford and his drummer, Spam.

The song selection isn’t terribly original — Elmore James’ signature “Dust My Broom” and Muddy Waters chestnuts like “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” and “I Can’t Be Satisfied” among the tracks here).

But I’ll give them points for their take-off on Slim Harpo’s “Hip Shake,” the delightful "Dick Shake."

This isn’t authentic, and purists undoubtedly will turn up their snoots. But these Krauts have spirit.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
May 29, 2008

We can't accuse the two Republican Senate candidates of trying to dodge The New Mexican.
Both Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce took time out of their busy schedules for interviews with me. And I appreciate that.

But for reasons that still baffle me, both GOP candidates refused to answer a questionnaire consisting of 10 simple yes-or-no questions on a variety of issues. (I didn't submit one to Tom Udall because he's running unopposed in the Democratic Senate primary.)

Just a couple of weeks before, their counterparts in the 3rd Congressional District primary — both Republicans and all six Democrats — answered a similar questionnaire for us.

The deal was to answer all questions "yes" or "no" — just as if they were voting on a bill. Those who wanted to explain their answers could do so with the promise that some of their explanations might be quoted in the profiles we were writing and that their complete answers would be posted verbatim on The New Mexican's Web site.

The questions dealt with issues such as Congress investigating possible war profiteering in Iraq, ethanol subsidies, "net neutrality," medical marijuana and whether Immigration officials should give special consideration to undocumented immigrants who have children who are U.S. citizens.
There were no trick questions. And most of the topics were those both Wilson and Pearce have addressed in speeches and debates.

A spokeswoman for Wilson said her candidate didn't like the yes-or-no format. Some of the congressional candidates also expressed misgivings about that, though all agreed to submit.

A spokesman for Pearce contacted my Capitol bureau colleague, Kate Nash, asking about our deadline. But we never received his answers.

After this long and bitter campaign, I guess it's nice Pearce and Wilson found something they could agree on: ignoring The New Mexican questionnaire.

The swift boats are coming! Rule of thumb: Just about any time a Democrat gets criticized these days, it's not just an "attack." It's swiftboating.

The term originated four years ago when a Republican-funded group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ran ads questioning the truthfulness of John Kerry's military record.

Last week, when CD 3 candidate Don Wiviott began his attack-ad campaign against fellow Democrat Ben Ray Luján, Luján's campaign reacted with an e-mail: "Don Wiviott knows his only chance to win is with a Republican Swift Boat-style smear campaign."

But poor Tom Udall. The general election hasn't started and already he's been "swiftboated" twice.

When an out-of-state social conservative group, Common Sense Issues, began conducting a "push poll" here for the benefit of Republican senatorial candidate Steve Pearce, Udall's campaign responded with a fundraising e-mail saying, "The GOP Swift Boat attacks on Tom Udall have begun here in New Mexico." It turned out the push-poll was aimed more at Heather Wilson. Only the homes of registered Republicans were called, the leader of CSI said — though some negative things were said about Udall in the automated calls as well.

On Tuesday, the Udall campaign sent another fundraising e-mail, this one dealing with President Bush's visit to help CD 1 candidate Darren White.

The Udall letter said the visit was "to raise money from big donors to fund their dirty 'Swift Boat' attacks. You can bet this money will directly fund their efforts to distort Tom's record of integrity and standing up for the people of New Mexico."

According to the White campaign, the $317,000 raised at the Bush event will be split between the White campaign and the state GOP.

A state Republican spokesman said the party is expected to get only 20 or 30 percent of the money raised at the event. That money, he said, will go to set up a volunteer get-out-the-vote effort, not campaign ads.

There is one candidate who could make a case about swiftboating.

One of the top contributors to the anti-tax group Club for Growth — which has spent nearly $400,000 in ads calling Wilson a "liberal" — is Houston home builder Bob Perry. Perry has donated big-time to New Mexico Republicans in past elections. And in 2004, he was a major funder of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Wilson hasn't been shy about blasting Club For Growth. But she's yet to say anything about swift boats.

Political prosecutions: An interesting part of one of Udall's recent campaign ads occurs when he says, "As attorney general, when I prosecuted corrupt elected officials, it didn't matter to me if they were in my party."
Udall prosecuted one Democratic official — former state Rep. Ron Olguin of Albuquerque, who was convicted in 1992 for accepting a bribe, soliciting a bribe, attempting to commit a bribe and conspiracy to solicit a bribe. Eventually his convictions for accepting the bribe and conspiracy were overturned on appeal. Olguin was sentenced to a year in prison. As a result of the trial, he was formally censured by the state House of Representatives, making him the first — and so far only — sitting legislator in New Mexico history to be censured.

But I wonder if the talk about prosecuting members of his own party might be a subtle jab at a potential Republican opponent. Wilson has been criticized for a phone call to then U.S. Attorney David Iglesias. Iglesias says he considered that call pressure from Wilson to hurry up with the prosecution of former state Sen. Manny Aragon, a Democrat, before the 2006 election. Wilson denies that was the purpose of her call.

If Wilson survives the primary, be ready for some not so subtle jabs concerning Iglesias.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Governor Richardson Endorses Ben Ray Luján

Santa Fe - Today, Governor Bill Richardson endorsed Public Regulation Commissioner Ben Ray Luján for Congress in the 3rd Congressional District Democratic primary.
Ben Ray Lujan, Dem
"As someone who knows this district well - as a Congressman and now as Governor - I believe Ben Ray Luján is the most qualified candidate and is best prepared to represent the diverse communities that stretch across northern and eastern New Mexico," Governor Bill Richardson said.

"I am also proud to endorse a candidate who has taken the high road against negative and unnecessary political attacks from some of his opponents," Governor Richardson said. "I trust Ben Ray Luján as the candidate who will stand up for New Mexico. He has worked hard on the Public Regulation Commission to serve the people of New Mexico. No other candidate can match his record of fighting for consumers, increasing renewable energy production and creating regional solutions to climate change."


The state Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that Rio Arriba County Magistrate Tommy Rodella is guilty of willful misconduct in office and removed him immediately from office, never to be allowed to hold another judicial office in the future.

The high court made its decision to follow the recommendation of the state Judicial Standards Commission, which accused Rodella of violating judicial rules in three separate cases, following a hearing Wednesday morning. The five justices.

Rodella hugged and kissed his wife Debbie Rodella, a state legislator from Española, his children and other supporters following the decision.

Asked for comment following the decision, Rodella would only tell a reporter, “Thank you for your fairness.”

Chief Justice Edward Chavez, in announcing the court’s decision, said while the court did not agree with all the commission’s findings, there was evidence to support the finding that Rodella was not credible during legal proceedings in the case against him.

The commission said Rodella was guilty of misconduct in three cases he presided over. One was springing an acquaintance arrested for drunken driving from jail.

Another was improperly advising a man and woman from Chimayó in a rent-dispute case in exchange for political support.

The third was improperly telling an alleged victim in a domestic violence case that she didn't have to show up to court to testify against her husband.

The last case was the one that prompted the most discussion from justices during the hearing.
Rodella’s lawyer Justin Pennington admitted that Rodella had made a mistake in that case, but that did not constitute willful misconduct and did not warrant removal.

Read more in Thursday’s New Mexican.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Here's my take on tonight's debate. You can watch video from the debate HERE.

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
May 28, 2008

U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson at a televised debate Tuesday went on the offensive against U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, her opponent in the Republican senatorial primary, saying Pearce is too right-wing to win a general election.

“Statewide it’s extremely difficult for someone who is running as a far-right, cut-government, my-way-or-the-highway Republican to win,” Wilson said at the debate broadcast on KOAT-TV.

“In fact, we have never elected a Republican statewide who is from the far-right extreme of our party.”

Pearce, who represents the southern 2nd Congressional District, said Wilson is “too liberal to serve in New Mexico. ... I think the people of New Mexico want someone who will tell them where they stand and stand where they said they would.”

To which Wilson, who represents the central 1st Congressional District, responded, “It’s amazing to me that someone who is a pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, strong supporter of free enterprise, cut-taxes, fair-regulation, pro-defense Republican is called a ‘liberal.’ And maybe that tells us just far out of the mainstream Steve Pearce is.”

Sometimes the rhetoric seemed so biting one easily could imagine seeing clips from the debate used against the Republican nominee in general election Democratic attack ads.

However, despite the intensity of their charges against each other, both candidates pledged to back whoever wins the GOP primary on June 3. The winner will face Democrat Tom Udall, Northern New Mexico’s congressman. The campaign will decide who replaces six-term Sen. Pete Domenici, who is retiring.

During the debate, Wilson nearly always was the first to turn questions against her opponent. Though Pearce got in a few licks, he seemed to be on the defensive for much of the hourlong debate.

Wilson frequently brought up the conservative organization Club For Growth, which is backing Pearce and running ads attacking Wilson as a “liberal.” The group has spent about $400,000 on the ads.

“The advertisements you’re seeing on television are funded by a small group of millionaires, none of whom are in the state of New Mexico who support an agenda that is contrary to the interests of the state of New Mexico in many respects,” she said. “They attack Republicans. They don’t go after Democrats ... and they have been responsible in several states recently for causing the nomination of Republicans who are so far right wing that they’re not able to win when it comes to a general election.”

She accused Pearce of requesting earmarks to fund programs such as a math and science recruitment plan for minorities at New Mexico State University, then voting against it when the Club For Growth tells him to.

Pearce said, “Heather, the Club For Growth is a respected group that measures waste, fraud and abuse in the government. It’s interesting they scored you at 10 percent. They scored Tom Udall at zero.”

Pearce in 2007 got an 82 percent vote from the group. “I don’t score perfectly because I really don’t ask them how I should vote,” he said. “I very rarely look at the recommendations. We simply try to do what’s right for the country. ... We’re going to continue to take the tough votes, the hard votes that will correct the problems of this country. Waste, fraud and abuse are rampant.”

Pearce said one of his main problems with Wilson is that she “tends to take both sides of an issue.” He said she initially did not support last year’s troop surge in Iraq, but then voted to support the surge.

As she has done in previous debates, Wilson stressed that Pearce represents a “safe Republican district,” while her district is much tougher on the GOP. She noted that she received more votes than President Bush in 2000 and in 2004 won her district while Bush lost there to John Kerry.

Pearce, however, noted that Wilson predecessor Steve Schiff never seemed to have the problems getting re-elected that Wilson has faced. He also noted that while she won re-election in 2006 by less than 900 votes, Republican State Land Commissioner Pat Lyons won Albuquerque by several thousand votes.

“I think Heather’s problems in this district are of her own making,” Pearce said.

Wilson spoke of “national special interest groups” spending millions of dollars over the past decade to defeat her. “Steve, you’ve never seen what that’s like,” she said. “You don’t know what you’re in for if the Republican Party is unfortunate enough to nominate you to be our candidate in November.”

Pearce said a strong conservative can win. “When we as conservatives fly the bold colors of conservatism we win. When we fly the pale pastels, we lose.”


Here's a fascinating little story to appeal to both of this blog's major constituencies: music geeks and political junkies.

It's the tale of Mark McKinnon, former media adviser for George W. Bush, who recently resigned from the John McCain campaign because, as he put it, "I just don't want to work against an Obama candidacy."

My friend Peter Blackstock of No Depression, recall's McKinnon's former career as a songwriter, musician and Kris Kristofferson crony. Last night I was going through boxes of dusty old cassette tapes looking for a Kerrville Folk Festival compilation -- which included a song by McKinnon -- that Peter had sent me about 10 years ago. (As you'll see in his story, Peter was doing the same thing with boxes of CDs at his home.)

Neither of us found the song, but enjoy Peter's story HERE.


Obama in Santa Fe in January. Photo by Anton Terrell I had the opportunity to do a quick telephone interview with Sen. Barack Obama Monday when he was in Las Cruces for a Memorial Day event. You can read that HERE.

I asked him the obligatory questions all New Mexico political reporters ask Democrat front-runners every four years: Is Bill Richardson on his short list for vice president? I knew he and Richardson were together in Cruces, so I said, "He's probably standing right by you now, right?" Obama acknowledged they were traveling together, but said, "He's on the other side of the bus."

Basically his answer is that he's not ready to spill those beans, though Richardson is "one of the best public servants we have in American life."

I asked why he was in New Mexico on Memorial Day when all states have veterans. He initially said, "Well New Mexico obviously has some just outstanding veterans that I wanted to make sure to honor." But before I could say, "Don't all the states have outstanding veterans?" he started talking about New Mexico as a battleground state."

Not bad. A lot of lesser politicians I've interviewed would have just left it at the feel-good glad-handing statement.

Though many pundits have virtually declared Obama the Democratic nominee, pointing out the mathematical improbability of Hillary Clinton catching up with him, Obama was careful to mention at least a couple of times in our brief talk that he's not yet won that prize. He talked about making an effort to reach out to Clinton supporters around the country "should I be fortunate enough to get the nomination" and said he's not discussing his vice presidential choices "because I haven't locked down the nomination yet. "

I got the impression this state will be seeing a lot more of Obama as well as John McCain, who also was in New Mexico Monday.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Sunday, May 25, 2008
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M.
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

email me during the show!

OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
We're Desparate by X
Try Love by The Detroit Cobras
Elephant Gun by Beirut
Mr. Orange by Dengue Fever

Mean and Evil by The Juke Joint Pimps
I'm Cryin' by The Animals
Skinny Minnie by The Mummies
Popotitos by Los Straitjackets with Cesar Rosas
Roly Poly by Joey Dee & The Starliters

Bob by Simon Stokes
Fugu Fish by Timothy Leary & Simon Stokes
Mafia by Texas Terri Bomb
People Who Died by The Jim Carrol Band
Moonland by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Contract with Depravity by Kenyon Hopkins
After Hours by Bob Taylor *
Something Else by The Flamin' Groovies

Sweet Black Angel by The Rolling Stones
Never/Ever by The Black Angels
Black and White by The Warlocks
Walkin' with Jesus (Sound of Confusion) by Spacemen 3
Black Angel's Death Song by The Velvet Underground

Pie in the Sky by Utah Phillips & Ani DiFranco
I Hear Sirens by The Dirtbombs
Slow Bus Movin' (Howard Beach Party) by Fishbone
I Don't Need Mary (Juana) by Andre Williams & The Diplomats of Solid Sound
Clyde the Glide by The Diplomats of Solid Sound
Big Irv the Meat Man by Vinnie Santino
Twenty by Robert Cray

* I previously had listed this song as "Peter Gun Twist" by The Jesters. However, as I said on the air last night, the song didn't sound much like "Peter Gunn." After a little research, I'm convinced that the Las Vegas Grind CD cover got the titles mixed up on tracks 3 and 4. They were probably too busy drooling at them lucious dames on the cover to pay attention to what they were doing.


This press release just came in from the Governor's Office:

Prison Reform Task Force Recommends New Name, New Focus for Corrections System

The Beagle Boys headed to the Department of Rehabilitation & Corrections.SANTA FE – A prison reform task force created by Governor Bill Richardson has recommended changing the name of the Department of Corrections to the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.

The name change, which the Governor will consider as part of a comprehensive approach to reform, is meant to reflect an emphasis on increasing public safety, controlling the prison population and decreasing recidivism rates.
Yep, changing the name of the Corrections Department is bound to solve a big chunk of the problems in our prisons.

They probably got the idea from the federal government, which put an end to world strife when they changed the name of the Department of War to the Department of Defense.


PEARCE vs. WILSONMy profiles on the U.S. Senate GOP primary were published today. Here's the links:

* Intro story (with Kate Nash)
* Steve Pearce profile
* Heather Wilson profile

Also, here's some links to other stories I wrote or co-wrote last week:

* CD 3 campaign finance reports (For Benny Shendo and Harry Montoya, published Saturday)
* CD 3 and Senate campaign finance reports (For everyone else, published Friday)
* Follow-up to Shendo "lifestyle" remarks (with Kate Nash).


My pall Kell Robertson called tonight to let me know that Utah Phillips died.

Phillips -- singer, songwriter, storyteller, Korean War vet, hobo and champion of the working class -- died Friday of a heart attack in Nevada City, Calif, where he lived. Here's a story from the Salt Lake Tribune. And here's a 2003 interview in The Progressive.I met him at the Folk Alliance Conference in Albuquerque back in 1999. That's where I snapped this picture of him with Luther the Jet, King of the Hobos.

I'll do a proper tribute to him on The Santa Fe Opry next week (10 pm Friday at KSFR, 101.1 FM)

Saturday, May 24, 2008


I was happy to learn that a Santa Fe radio station has started to carry the syndicated Little Steven's Underground Garage. Hosted by Steve Van Zandt, it's a fine show that I've often listened to online.
Terrell's Sound World is more bitchen
I was happy, until that is, I learned when the show plays in Santa Fe -- Sundays, 10 p.m. until midnight. I'm always busy every week during that time, ON THE AIR WITH MY OWN DAMN SHOW ON KSFR, TERRELL'S SOUND WORLD, which, as faithful listeners know, is grounded in garage, psychedelic and punk rock.

I'd like to flatter myself and think that the programming geniuses at KVSF think my show is so important that they had to bring the big guns in to compete, creating a McDonald's vs. Bert's Burger situation in the battlefield of garage-rock radio. But something tells me they probably aren't even aware of my show -- even though I've been doing this at the same time slot for more than 12 years.

So my biased advice, if you want to listen to Little Steven, click the above link. (And for even cooler, edgier online garage sounds, check out the podcast jukebox.) But on Sunday nights listen to my show, the sonic equivalent of a Burt's chile cheese burger and a taco on the side.


Friday, May 23, 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
Ring of Fire by Dick Dale
Drinkin' & Cheatin' & Death by The Waco Brothers
Summer Wages by David Bromberg
Bowlegged Charlie by Otis Taylor
Sixteen Tons by Leon Russell
Coal Tattoo by Kathy Mattea
You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive by Patty Loveless

Drinkin' Wine by Gene Simmons
Too Much Monkey Business by Sleepy LaBeef
My Pretty Quadroon by Jerry Lee Lewis
Boo Boo the Cat by Hasil Adlins
Wildcat Tamer by Dale Hawkins
Junkyard in the Sun by Butch Hancock
Buckskin Stallion Blues by Jimmie Dale Gilmore & Mudhoney
Irish Rockabilly Blues by Ronny Elliott

Long Black Veil by Simon Stokes
What Am I Worth by Dave Alvin with Syd Straw
The Drivers Are Out Tonight by Porter Wagoner
You Win Again by Mother Earth
The Wreck of the Edmund Fitgerald by Laura Cantrell
Dancing with the Ghost of William Bonney by Bone Orchard
Don't Get Above Your Raisin' by Ricky Skaggs with Elvis Costello

Hobo Rockstar by The Deadly Gentlemen
My True Love by Mama Rosin
Never Sang the Blues by The Dead Brothers
She's Not For You by Willie Nelson
Margie's at the Lincoln Park Inn by Bobby Bare
Willie and Laura Mae Jones by Tony Joe White
Moves Me Deeply by Peter Case
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

UPDATE: Funny Typo Dept.
For several days I credited "Junkyard in the Sun" to "Botch Hancock." My friend Peter caught it. Sorry, Butch for botching your name!

Friday, May 23, 2008


Why vote in real life when you have Internet polls?

Kate Nash's Green Chile Chatter blog is doing a poll on the CD 3 Democratic race.

Go there and VOTE!


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
May 23, 2008

Thick, inspired psychedelic sludge that sometimes rumbles, sometimes screams.
That might be the best way to describe Directions to See a Ghost, the new album from Austin’s psychedelic hum masters, The Black Angels. In fact the band’s slogan is “Turn on, tune in, drone out.”

This record, released earlier this month, comes just a while after I became aware of The Black Angels. I saw them at Roky Erickson’s Ice Cream Social during the South by Southwest music festival in Austin in March. As I noted then, being that the Angels are on the same bill as “Zombie-walker” Roky, it’s tempting to call them the grandchildren of first-generation psychedelic rockers the 13th Floor Elevators.

But there are also weird echoes of The Jesus & Mary Chain, The Electric Prunes, and Spacemen 3 and odd psychic references to Bo Diddley. And don’t forget The Velvet Underground. After all, The BAs named themselves after “The Black Angel’s Death Song,” the Velvet’s faux folk tune that is most memorable for John Cale’s screechy viola.

It’s not a stretch to put The Black Angels in the same dark dimension as other contemporary psyche-space bands like The Warlocks or, to a lesser extent, the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Lenny Kaye (of Patti Smith Group) called The Black Angels’ sound “New Age apocalypso.”

The BAs, which formed in Austin earlier this decade, are true psychedelic rangers. Check their Web-site bio, written by Tommy Hall (The 13th Floor Elevators’ electric-jug man).

It starts off talking about Aristotle, goes into mankind organizing “his knowledge vertically in separate and unrelated groups,” and concludes with: “It is possible for Man to alter his mental state and thus alter his point of view (that is, his own basic relation with the outside world which determines how he stores his information). He then can restructure his thinking and change his language so that his thoughts bear more relation to his life and his problems, therefore approaching them more sanely. It is this quest for pure sanity that forms the basis of The Black Angels.”

Yeah, and they also play some bitchen fuzz-tone guitars.

Virtually every track on Directions to See a Ghost is a journey to the center of what’s left of your mind, culminating in the 16-minute “Snake in the Grass,” which features oooga boooga drums, layers of feedback, some snaky maracas, and recurring Mideastern or East Indian motifs. At the end, I can almost hear bagpipes, but it’s probably just distorted guitar.

There are also some much-shorter treats (although the shortest song is four and a half minutes). “Vikings” is an ominous tune that starts out with slow death-march drums and a weird organ. “Doves” is another slow burner with the drums out front.

“Deer-Ree-Shee” is one of the most fast-paced tunes here and features some crazy sitar by singer Alex Maas. “You in Color” starts out with a burst of feedback and a kind of Peter Gunn guitar riff and quickly builds up to a full-fledged rocker.

If I’ve got one complaint about this album it’s that there just aren’t enough of these hard stompers. Sometimes it’s cool to just space out and ponder whatever it is that Maas is singing (I’m never quite sure, but I bet a lot of it has to do with restructuring your thinking and questing for pure sanity). But after awhile you want to move.

But when you need to space out and let music guide you deep into the Forbidden Cavern, there’s not much better these days than The Black Angels.

Also recommended:Simon's new one
* Head by Simon Stokes. Stokes not only looks like the toughest man in show business, his music makes that case even more. And talk about psychedelic, this guy started out in the ’60s with bands like Heathen Angels, and in the ’90s he actually recorded a duet album with Timothy Leary. (Songs like “100 Naked Kangaroos in Blue Canoes” aren’t as silly as you might think.)

One of my very favorite albums of this wretched century so far is Honky, an undeservedly obscure, country-flavored, biker-rock masterpiece by Stokes with tasty guest appearances by Wayne Kramer, The BellRays’ Lisa Kekaula, and the incomparable Texas Terri (who came up with one of the greatest album titles of all time: Your Lips ... My Ass.)

By comparison, Head is a more homemade, more folksy kind of affair. The song “Tongue-Tied,” for instance, features an acoustic guitar and a Dylanish harmonica.

But there are some gritty rockers here too. “No One’s Goin’ Nowhere” is a threat put to music. Put this one on at night and you might be scared to leave the room.

The minor-key “Get Happy” starts out acoustically with guitar and later features some harmonica. But it’s also got a growling electric guitar and some sinister organ and chimes of doom. It doesn’t sound very happy.
Fire, walk with ME!
Undoubtedly the weirdest song here — even more so than the 13-minute untitled sound-collage freakout hidden track — is the fuzzed out “Bob,” which could almost be about the creepy guy on Twin Peaks. (“I live in Bob’s head too/Friends call me Stew.”)

Stokes has a couple of cover tunes on Head. He sings a decent version of “Long Black Veil,” but it won’t make anyone want to throw away their copy of The Band’s Music From Big Pink. More impressive is his gruff take on Woody Guthrie’s “Hard Travelin’.” You’ll believe Stokes has gone every mile.

On the Radio: I’ll play some Simon Stokes on this week’s Santa Fe Opry, 10 p.m. to midnight on Friday on KSFR-FM 101.1. And then I’ll play some Stokes and Black Angels on Terrell’s Sound World, same time, same station on Sunday.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
May 22, 2008

Some have observed that the 3rd Congressional District primary is getting “personal.” One way it’s getting personal: The candidates are sinking personal funds into the race.

Developer Don Wiviott, according to a report filed Tuesday, just sunk another quarter-million dollars into his campaign. This brings Wiviott’s total of self-contributions to $1.34 million for his House campaign plus another quarter-million and change of his own money he spent on his aborted U.S. Senate campaign last year.

Meanwhile, Ben Ray Luján this week reported taking out a bank loan of $150,000 for his campaign. That’s on top of a $50,000 loan he took out earlier in the race.

Sneak preview: The next round of campaign finance reports for congressional and Senate candidates isn’t due until today. But the June 3 primary is so close that federal law requires reports of contributions of $1,000 or more within 48 hours of the contribution, so a few of those are popping up.

Luján reports getting $2,300 from Ohkay Owingeh; $2,300 from Margaret Moñoz of Gallup; and $1,000 from Yvette Dobie of Laguna Beach, Calif.

Wiviott reports $2,050 from Edmund Schenecker of San Antonio, Texas; $1,500 from Michael Wilson of Albuquerque; and $1,000 each from Jonathan Potts Wendell of Greenwich, Conn., and David Gold of Albuquerque.

Also, CD 3 contender Jon Adams filed his report a day early. He said he’s raised a total of $51,500 for his campaign so far, which includes $13,000 in loans.

The two Republican Senate candidates already reported their totals.

U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce says he has raised $357,000 since the beginning of April. He spent $964,784 and has $247,207 in the bank.

His rival, U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson, reports raising $291,106 for the same period. While that’s $66,000 less than Pearce, Wilson reports having $712,476 in the bank.

Brace yourself, Bridget. That’s going to pay for a lot of television ads in the last week and a half of the primary campaign.

Rescinding a non-endorsement? Earlier this month on an interview on KNME’s In Focus, U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici said he wasn’t going to make an endorsement in the Republican Senate primary.

But the retiring senator did leave the door slightly ajar: “Now, if something should happen untoward, where I think something was taken advantage of, I may change my mind, but that’s pretty remote at this time.”

Earlier this week, however, Domenici called upon candidate Pearce to demand The Club For Growth withdraw its new ad blasting Wilson for voting in the House for the State Child Insurance Program, or S-CHIP. Domenici voted in favor of the bill in the Senate. Pearce voted against it in the House. President Bush vetoed it.

The offending ad actually stopped running before Domenici called for it to be pulled. But that’s beside the point.

Could Domenici be thinking this ad is “untoward”?

Asked Wednesday whether Domenici might be reconsidering his non-endorsement decision, spokesman Chris Gallegos said, “We have no comment.”
Puerto Rico
Is there still some Richardson campaign we don’t know about? It seems our governor sure has been out of state a lot lately. On Tuesday, CNN reported, “Bill Richardson will campaign this week for Barack Obama in Puerto Rico, 10 days before the Commonwealth holds its Democratic primary, a Richardson aide tells CNN.” Apparently Richardson is visiting the island today.

Puerto Rico can’t vote in the general election. But in the Byzantine glass bead game of the Democratic nominating process, the island has 55 pledged delegates at stake in the primary.

Earlier this week, the governor was on the East Coast. He gave a commencement speech Sunday at the University of Pennsylvania Law School in Philadelphia, shortly after receiving a Titan of Technology award and delivering a keynote address for the Eastern Technology Council at Drexel University. That same day, he spoke to the World Council of Philadelphia and the William Hughes Center for Public Policy in Atlantic City.


CD 3 candidate Benny Shendo sent a statement about our story in the New Mexican. I'll post the whole thing:

There has been a lot of mischaracterization of the fact and intention of my question to Ben Ray Lujan on Monday night at the Farmington County Democratic Candidate Forum, the first and only forum or debate opportunity for candidates to ask questions of one another. In this day of "sound bite" politics, I appreciate your giving me this opportunity to set the record straight instead of letting this be spun by the Lujan and Wiviott campaigns to an inaccurate portrayal of my views and serve as a distraction from the real issue and the real point of my question, which is:

Does Ben Ray Lujan have the courage to stand up on the difficult issues that face us as a society?

First, I deeply respect the right of every individual to choose their own lifestyle. I was raised in my native culture, which has for generations been tolerant and inclusive of all people regardless of their personal lifestyle choices. And I hold the deepest commitment to working toward the day when every single person in our whole society can be accepted publicly and privately for who they are without fear or shame.

My question the other night was not about whether Ben Ray Lujan is gay or not. And if all the people who have known Ben Ray over the years at the state house, in the community and in his own extended family, and have for years known and accepted him as gay are wrong, that's perfectly fine. His sexuality is not the issue here.

My question was about his maturity and integrity in handling the issue and whether or not he is ready to be our representative in Congress. Being a leader means taking tough stands, and that takes courage—courage that starts in a person's heart, and that starts at home.

My question was about whether Ben Ray had the courage to stand up to his parents, who have been a very active presence in his public life and in his campaign. And many voters, especially including members of the GLBT community and members of Lujan's own family, have expressed concern to me that there may be a level of public deception going on in the way that Ben Ray and his parents have handled this matter by so actively promoting publicly that he has a girlfriend.

Let's be clear, if a private citizen chooses to keep their sexual orientation secret, that's their right. But Ben Ray Lujan, by his own choice, is not a private citizen, but a candidate for public office, and in this context, he is asking us to trust his decision-making, his judgment, his leadership capability, his maturity, and, frankly, his honesty.

Being a political leader isn't just about having a big office and fancy title. It's not even just about what you say your stance is or will be on the issues. A person who actively puts themselves forward as a public figure, an elected leader, by definition, is putting themselves forward to be a role model.

As such, they need to accept a higher level of responsibility for their actions. If they actively put forward a deception to hide their homosexuality, then they send a terrible and damaging message that there is something wrong with being gay. In a very real sense, they become a "gay basher" by their actions, which clearly say there is something shameful about being gay. And that does incalculable damage, especially to young GLBT people who are struggling with this issue.

I have spent the bulk of my professional career working with young people, helping them get into and succeed in college, I know first hand the damage that this kind of message sends, when leaders by their actions say that being gay is shameful and thus, by extension, that young people struggling with their own sexual identity should also be ashamed of who they are.

And that damage is especially grave when it is in the form of a person's own parents not accepting who they are, and pressuring them into living a lie. I have seen first-hand and experts agree, when parents do not accept their children for who they are, this creates a deep wound that forms an underlying cause of many of our worst social problems – alcohol and drug abuse, depression, domestic violence, hatred and intolerance.

Therefore, when a public figure and role model chooses to deceive on the issue of his lifestyle and sexual identity this is not just private or personal matter, but an issue of direct concern all of us, including the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender community, as well as to the general well-being of our whole society. Some of these may be difficult issues, certainly, but all the more reason we must talk about them, and not sweep them under the carpet, with an understandable, but misguided cry for personal privacy.

That being gay is shameful is not the right message for Ben Ray to be sending to the very people he claims he is mature enough and courageous enough to stand up for. Our representatives in Congress need to be an embodiment of the acceptance we seek in our society, acceptance both of others and of themselves. This means that if our public leaders allow themselves to be the victim of intolerance –by others or even by themselves to themselves—then they are not in a position to defend the rights of others. They become party to the intolerance, and our leaders, especially now, need to be stronger willed and more principled than that.

That is what my question was about. And that's what I will continue to fight for: that day when every child, including Ben Ray Lujan, can grow up proud of who they are, where they come from and what their place is in this world.

Benny J. Shendo, Jr


Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Yes, the Third Congressional race suddenly has taken a severe turn for the ugly.

No, it's not just the attack ads between Ben Ray Lujan and Don Wiviott. That stuff, despite cries of "Swift boat attacks," is to be expected.

Let's talk about the unexpected.

Things turned bizarre Monday night at a candidate forum in Farmington. And it came from -- of all people -- candidate Benny Shendo, who previously seemed like a soft-spoken, well-informed voice of reason.
Benny Shendo, Jr. Dem
But in Farmington, Shendo let loose with a strange innuendo about Ben Ray Lujan's "lifestyle."

"You say that you stand up for the people of New Mexico," Shendo said, "and I want to know how you can stand up for the people of New Mexico if you can't stand up to your mom and dad about your lifestyle."

And in an interview with Kate Nash of the New Mexican today, Shendo went on to say, that while he has no evidence about Lujan's sexual orientation:

"If he is gay, and he's deceiving people, that's wrong. The voters have a right to be concerned about the deception — not whether one is gay or not. The issue is deception. That's relevant."

It is?

The Lujan campaign calls the attack "despicable." And Linda Siegle, a lobbyist for Equality New Mexico, said, "Whether he's gay or not shouldn't be an issue. Whether he has a girlfriend or not shouldn't be an issue. The issue should be the issues. Why would another Democrat be bringing this up?"

No, it doesn't get much stranger than this. Read the whole story by Kate and me HERE.


The latest SurveyUSA poll shows Barrack Obama tied with John McCain 44-44 percent in a presidential match-up in New Mexico.

The automated phone poll, taken over the weekend of 600 registered voters in the state has several possible running mates of the two candidates.

Obama does best with John Edwards as his running mate. In fact without Edwards, Obama falls behind McCain in every other match-up. McCain does well with Mike Huckabee or Mitt Romney as a running mate.

However, I believe these match-ups aren't very valuable at this stage. Edwards has high name recognition, as do Huckabee and Romney. Somehow I don't think Kathleen Sebelius and Tim Pawlenty are that well known here.

In fact, SurveyUSA honcho Jay Leve told me in an interview last month that the numbers in New Mexico will be going up and down for the candidates until the bitter end. "“Nothing in our polling suggests that a consensus has been formed (in New Mexico),” Leve said in April. “I expect a razor-thin margin.”

The margin of error is 4.1 percent.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Earlier this month on an interview on KNME's In Focus, U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici said he wouldn't be endorsing in the GOP Senate primary.

However, he did leave the door slightly ajar: ""Now, if something should happen untoward, where I think something was taken advantage of, I may change my mind, but that's pretty remote at this time."

On Monday Domenici called upon candidate Steve Pearce to demand The Club For Growth withdraw its new ad blasting Heather Wilson for support of the State Child Insurance Program (S-CHIP). (Read an Associated Press story HERE) Domenici voted in favor of the bill, which Pearce opposed and President Bush vetoed.

Could Domenici be thinking this ad is "untoward"?


Several labor unions backing Ben Ray Luján for Congress are holding a news conference Tuesday to "set the record straight on Don Wiviott's misleading attacks on Ben Ray Luján."

An e-mailed news release doesn't give much of a hint as to what will be said at the news conference. It mainly says nice things about their candidate such as he's "has always stood up for the people of New Mexico with bold, progressive ideas and values. In Congress, he'll continue to put working families first."

Wiviott's ad blasts Luján for working as blackjack dealer in Nevada then getting a $90,000 state job the ad credits to Luján's "famous father" House Speaker Ben Luján. It also charges that the younger Luján missed 13 of 14 meetings of the "Healthcare Commission" -- actually something called the "Telehealth Commission," which is a board appointed by the governor.

The ad, which began running on TV on Saturday, does not appear on Wiviott's Web site for reasons I can;t figure out. The only known copy on the Web is on Heath Haussamen's blog and he's selfishly not sharing it. You'll have to CLICK HERE to see it.

Check Kate Nash's story in Tuesday's New Mexican.


Speaking of the CD 3 Congressional race, our profiles of Harry Montoya, Jon Adams and Rudy Martin ran today.

Profiles of the Republican CD 3 candidates Marco Gonzales and Dan East are running Tuesday.

All these can be found on The New Mexican's Elections section.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Sunday, May 18, 2008
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M.
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell

email me during the show!

OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Chicken Slacks by RIAA (Sam Cooke vs. Ray Stevens)
Hand on the Hot Wire by Key Francis
Killer Wolf by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Ain't That Just Like Me by The Astronauts
Who Buy The Guns by Joe "King" Carrasco y las Coronas
Don't Hold It Against Me by ? & The Mysterians
Oblivion by Mudhoney
Jibba Jab by Tic & Toc

Sixteen Tons by Stan Ridgway
As Long as I Have You by The Detroit Cobras
Wild Baby Wow by Lightning Beat-Man
Pachuco Cadaver by Captain Beefheart
Thunder Thighs by Andres Williams with the Diplomats of Solid Sound
Rock 'n' Roll Murder by The Leaving Trains
Chick Habit by April March
Stoned by The Rolling Stones

Is There Anybody Out There? (Bob's Nightmare) by Simon Stokes
Lucky Lucky Luck by Evangelista
Evil Alligator Man by Jad Fair
Talk to the Animals by Bobby Brodsky
Mr. Slater's Parrot by The Bonzo Dog Band
Zombie Dance by The Cramps

Ohio/Machine Gun by The Isley Brothers
Mission District by The Black Angels
Banghra Brothers by Firewater
La Faim de Haricots by Les Negresses Vertes
Cliquot by Beirut
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis


Don Wiviott, Dem
The New Mexican's profiles of candidates for Congressional District 3 begin running today.

My story about the race as a whole is HERE.

An issues questionannaire, consisting of 10 Yes-or-No questions is HERE.
Ben Ray Lujan, Dem
My profile on Don Wiviott is HERE.

Kate Nash's profile of Ben Ray Luján is HERE.

Her profile of Benny Shendo, Jr. is HERE

The other Democratic candidates. Harry Montoya, Jon Adams and Rudy Martin will run Monday. The Republican candidates, Marco Gonzales and Dan East will run Tuesday.
Benny Shendo, Jr. Dem
Happy reading.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Friday, May 16, 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
Feelin' Good by Levon Helm
Les Secrets D'Evangeline by Mama Rosin
Cajun Joe (The Bully 0f the Bayou) by Doug & Rusty Kershaw
Bully of the Town by Joe Maphis
The Gallows by Possessed by Paul James
Ten Million Slaves by Otis Taylor
Fishing Blues by Taj Mahall
Don't Go Cutting on My Cattle by Bone Orchard

Train of Life by Laura Cantrell
Bayou Tortous by James McMurtry
Time Heals by The Gear Daddies
Hillbilly Blues by Ronnie Dawson
Wolfman's Romp by The Juke Joint Pimps
How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away? by Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks
The Curley Shuffle by Jump 'N the Saddle
He's Got the Whole World in His Hands by Brother Williams' Memphis Sanctified Singers

Lawrence Jones by Kathy Mattea
Last Train to Poor Valley by Norman Blake
16 Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford
Dark as a Dungeon by Merle Travis with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Working in the Coal Mine by Devo
Dreams of a Miner's Child by The Stanley Brothers
Coal Miner's Daughter by Loretta Lynn
Paradise by John Prine
Big Bad John by Jimmy Dean
Que Creek by Buddy Miller
Timothy by The Buoys

The Last Word in Lonesome is Me by Roger Miller
Carbon-Dated Love by I See Hawks in L.A.
Former American Soldier by Chip Taylor
Buffalo Skinners by Woody Guthrie
Hank Williams' Ghost by Darrell Scott
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

Friday, May 16, 2008


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
May 15, 2008

Back in the 1980s and ’90s, Kathy Mattea was one of Nashville’s dependable country/pop hit makers. Her voice was soulful, and she’d often allow folk and bluegrass elements in her music, though she never strayed too far from the Nashville formula.

But like many female singers in modern corporate country — think Patty Loveless, Pam Tillis, Trisha Yearwood — Mattea at some point fell out of favor with the evil druids of 16th Avenue who control the Country Music Industrial Complex. It would be a nasty accusation to say that Nashville would callously dump a singer because of age (Mattea turns 50 next year), but that’s how things seem to work out now, isn’t it?

The good news is that Mattea still has that soulful voice, and, being free of commercial pressure, she’s at liberty to follow her creativity. And she’s done that quite capably with her new album, Coal. The bad news is that the album won’t get the airplay and won’t make the money it deserves.

Mattea is a native of West Virginia and the granddaughter of coal miners (on both sides of her family). She was moved by the tragedy of the 2006 Sago Mine disaster in her home state, in which 12 men were killed. So she took a batch of fine songs about the mining life by the likes of Jean Ritchie, Hazel Dickens (outright radicals you’d never hear on conservative Hot New Country radio!), Merle Travis, and others; grabbed Marty Stuart to produce and play on it; and made one powerful little bluegrass-soaked concept album.

Mattea sings about the extremely backbreaking work that is coal mining. She sings about a profession where danger is double and pleasures are few. Then there are the health hazards, which Mattea addresses in her a cappella version of Dickens’ wrenching “Black Lung,” which closes the album.

Mattea also tells of the economic hardships when the mines shut down. Ritchie’s “Blue Diamond Mines” recounts the story of one such impacted community: “Now the union is dead and they shake their heads/Well, mining has had its day/But they’re stripping off my mountaintop/And they pay me eight dollars a day.” The song even name checks “John L.” — Lewis, that is — president of the United Mine Workers of America from 1920 to 1960. With Stuart on mandolin and Loveless on vocal harmonies, the song is a bittersweet treat.

Even harder-hitting is “Lawrence Jones,” which was written by Si Kahn, a folk singer, political organizer, and son of a rabbi man. This is a song about a bloody 13-month strike in Harlan County, Kentucky, that began in 1973. According to a 2006 article in The Nation, "The miners went out on strike, and an escalating fight ensued between gun thugs hired by Duke Power and the men and women on the picket line. Finally, a Duke Power employee shot miner Lawrence Jones in the face one night and Jones died at the hospital.”

“There’s blood upon the contract like vinegar in wine/And there’s one man dead on that Harlan Country line,” Mattea sings.

Musically, the album drags a bit on slow, mournful songs like “Red-Winged Blackbird” and “Coming of the Roads” (both written by Billy Edd Wheeler.) And I’ve heard better versions of “Dark as a Dungeon.” Otherwise, Coal is a diamond.

Bonus! Mining for coal songs my personal favorites:

1. “Dark as a Dungeon” by Merle Travis with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Though lots of people have recorded this Travis tune, his version on Will the Circle Be Unbroken? is my favorite. Honorable mention: Johnny Cash’s cover of the song on his live At Folsom Prison album.
Tennessee Ernie Ford
2. “Sixteen Tons” by Tennessee Ernie Ford. Working in a coal mine doesn’t pay well, but it apparently gives you license to kill those who refuse to step aside when they see you comin’. Tennessee Ernie’s is the coolest version of this classic Travis song, but I also like Stan Ridgway’s oddball arrangement.

3. “Quecreek” by Buddy Miller. Like Gordon Lightfoot’s “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” this song was ripped from the headlines. On the day Buddy was finishing his Midnight and Lonesome album in 2002, nine Pennsylvania coal miners who had been trapped for three days were rescued. Buddy’s wife, Julie Miller, wrote this song, which appears at the end of the album.

4. “Last Train From Poor Valley” by Norman Blake. The mines shut down, a marriage fails, and brown-haired Becky is Richmond-bound.

5. “Working in a Coal Mine” by Lee Dorsey. This funky 1966 tune by New Orleans soul man Dorsey made mining sound cool and funky. But just like Rose Royce’s song about working at a car wash 10 years later, the record was better than the reality. Devo covered Dorsey’s song, too, but can you imagine anyone being allowed to work in a mine wearing those silly Devo hats?

6. “Coal Miner’s Daughter” by Loretta Lynn. Coal mining can’t be that bad if it spawned Loretta.

7. “Dream of a Miner’s Child” by The Stanley Brothers. The plot of this traditional tune is simple: A little girl has a nightmare about a mining disaster and begs her dad not to go to work, but he ignores her. Guess what happens.

8. “Paradise” by John Prine. The tale of Mr. Peabody’s coal mine in Muhlenberg County and the greatest strip-mining protest song ever written.

9. “Big Bad John” by Jimmy Dean. Big John was the type of miner “Sixteen Tons” was written about: “Everybody knew you didn’t give no lip to Big John,” Jimmy drawls. Even though he’d killed a guy from Louisiana in a fight over a “Cajun queen,” John’s superhuman heroism in a cave-in redeems him. This is one of the greatest faux-folk songs from the era (late ’50s and early ’60s) that produced “The Battle of New Orleans,” “El Paso,” “Saginaw, Michigan,” “Long Black Veil,” and others.

10. “Timothy” by The Buoys. Just because you’re in a mining disaster doesn’t mean you have to start skipping meals.

Radio: You know dang well you’re going to hear a lot of these songs tonight (Friday) on the Santa Fe Opry, 10 p.m. on KSFR-FM 101.1.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
May 15, 2008

U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, who is running for a seat in the U.S. Senate, has not and isn’t expected to make an endorsement in the crowded Democratic primary that likely will determine who will take his congressional seat.

But his dad has.
Ben Ray Lujan with Stewart Udall
Former U.S. Interior Secretary Stewart Udall on Wednesday announced he’s supporting Public Regulation Commissioner Ben Ray Luján for the 3rd Congressional District seat.

“I’ve followed (Luján’s) career, and I have a high regard for him,” the elder Udall said in a telephone interview. He said he likes Luján’s record on energy and environmental issues. “He’s interested in all the things I am,” Udall said.

Stewart Udall was a congressman from Arizona in the 1950s. He served in the cabinets of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. “I’m a very independent-minded individual at my old age,” he said. “I simply told Tom (about his decision to endorse Luján), and he didn’t object.”

A story for Hillary: During my conversation with Stewart Udall, he said this year’s presidential race reminds him of a situation with his brother, the late Arizona Congressman Mo Udall.

“My brother ran for president in 1976,” Stewart Udall said. Mo Udall lost the nomination to Jimmy Carter that year. A few years later, Mo Udall was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, his brother noted, but that didn’t stop his desire for the White House.

“During Reagan’s first two years, there was a recession,” Stewart Udall said. “My brother talked to people saying he was thinking of running again. I brought a group of friends to talk him out of it. It’s a disease that’s progressive, and he’d have to think about the next five years.”

Apparently the group of friends were effective in talking Mo Udall out of another presidential bid. And after all, Stewart Udall said, “my brother was famous for the statement that once you get it in your mind that you’re the best candidate for president or the only one qualified, the only remedy is formaldehyde.”

This, Stewart Udall said, is applicable to Hillary Clinton.

More fun with endorsements: It’s that time of year, of course. Here’s a couple that caught my eye:

Long shot Democratic congressional candidate Jon Adams sent an e-mail Wednesday endorsing A.J. Salazar for district attorney. “A.J.’s record shows a commitment to fighting drunk driving, domestic violence, and crime across the board,” said Adams, a former assistant attorney general. “A.J. is exactly the kind of tough on crime district attorney we need.”

So far, Salazar hasn’t returned the favor.

Also on Wednesday, former Secretary of State Shirley Hooper endorsed Valerie Espinoza in her re-election bid for Santa Fe County clerk.

“It’s almost unreal that I gave (Espinoza) her first job when I was Secretary of State in 1979 and she gave me my last when she became County Clerk in 2005,” Hooper, Espinoza’s chief deputy until 2006, said in an e-mail.

And it’s not really an endorsement, but ... Española Mayor Joe Maestas, who is running for Public Regulation Commission, is mailing campaign literature with a picture of him with Gov. Bill Richardson, along with a quote saying: “Mayor Joe Maestas has a proven record of accomplishment and leadership and would make a great commissioner on the PRC.”

But Richardson said Wednesday that he isn’t actually endorsing in the race. “I like Joe Maestas, but I like Paul Campos and Louie Gallegos too,” he said. Maestas, the governor said, is the only PRC candidate to ask him. “I’ll pose with anybody who asks,” he said, “but it’s not an endorsement.”

Official state Dem blogger: The national Democrats have chosen the Albuquerque-based Democracy for New Mexico as the official New Mexico blogger at the Democratic National Convention this August in Denver.

DFNM’s Barbara Wold posted Wednesday: “Some months ago the DNC solicited applications from bloggers in all 50 states (plus several territories) to vie for one blogger slot per state. They’ll form what’s called the State Blogger Corps at the Convention. ... Each official state blogger will be credentialed for seating with the state’s delegation on the Convention floor, and will be an integral part of the Convention action.”

I’m not official, but I’ll be blogging from the convention as well (right here on this blog) in addition to my regular duties writing stories for The New Mexican.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

MY $600

Viva Las Vegas!
I just received my $600 from the IRS.

I paid $500 on my car, knocking off a couple of months payments and a little interest.

But I didn't want to be completely unpatriotic by paying debts instead of buying new stuff.

So I spent about $40 on Amazon for two out-of-print CDs in the LAS VEGAS GRIND series (volumes 1 and 6). One satisfied customer wrote, "Some of the raunchiest, sleaziest, most glouriously (sic) outdated rock 'n' roll you'll ever hear." (You'll be hearing some of these albums on Terrell's Sound World soon after they arrive.)

Earlier tonight I paid almost $40 for a tank of gas. So that leaves me about $20 to stimulate the economy.


I found out a lot more about the Common Sense Issues push poll -- sorry "personalized educational artificial intelligence poll." READ IT HERE.

Turns out that Udall's not the only target. In fact. at least until the primary's over he's not even the main target. That would be Heather Wilson.

“Congresswoman Heather Wilson did not vote for (a bill to outlaw transporting) minors across state lines for abortions nor did she vote to save the life of Terri Schiavo. And Heather Wilson supported spending federal dollars to fund life-destroying human embryonic stem-cell research.”

That's one of the things you hear if you tell the automated caller you support Wilson. Indicating you support other candidates takes you down diffrent paths. (CSI executive director Patrick Davis was nice enough to have the company call me at home so I could hear what happens when you say you support Pearce, Wilson and Udall.)

Here is a link to a Time magazine story about CSI's activites in the Iowa Caucuses. Gov. Mike Huckabee, who was supported by the group, publicly disavowed the push polling for him, though the Mitt Romney campaign questioned the sincerity of the disavowal.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Push- polling. Now there's a fun little political sport.

"Would you vote for George Papoon if you knew he liked to stomp on little baby ducks while he raises your taxes?"

Push-polls are telephone calls designed not to determine statistics about voter opinion but to spread negative information about a candidate in the form of questions.

"Would you vote for George Leroy Tirebiter if you knew that he shot a man in Reno just to watch him die?

The first push-poll of the season has been spotted in New Mexico according to a fund-raising e-mail from Tom Udall’s Senate campaign. Apparently it's from a national conservative group that emphasizes right-to-life issues.
“We’ve just received some disturbing news from one of our staff — the GOP ‘Swift Boat’ attacks on Tom Udall have begun here in New Mexico. She got an automated ‘push-poll’ phone call from an organization misleadingly calling itself ‘Common Sense Issues’ this weekend,” said the e-mail from Amanda Cooper, Udall’s stepdaughter and campaign manager.

Cooper couldn’t be reached for comment about details of the poll Monday.

Representatives of CSI couldn’t be reached for comment Monday night at the phone number listed on its Web site. So if the report is true, we still don't know what information was being passed in the phone calls or how true or false it was.

A Jan. 9 story in Newsweek said, “Common Sense Issues is a tax-exempt group registered in Delaware whose organizers have acknowledged the use of controversial telephone polling tactics to promote (Mike) Huckabee presidential bid — and allegedly to trash the campaigns of the former Arkansas governor’s rivals.” Huckabee’s campaign denied any connection with the group.
Common Sense Issues’ Web site lists “life issues” as its top priority. Among other issues listed are liberty, economics, national security, “natural family” and “confronting radical Islam.”

Udall is running unopposed in the Democratic Senate primary. Republicans Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce are duking it out in the Republican primary.

If you didn't get a call from this push poll, don't worry. There's bound to be more in the general election.

Monday, May 12, 2008


U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici endorsed Marco Gonzales in the Republican primary for the Third Congressional District.

The endorsement isn't that surprising considering Gonzales -- who is running against Rio Rancho contractor Dan East -- worked for Domenici for 10 years. Then again, the retiring senator isn't endorsing in the Heather Wilson/Steve Pearce U.S. Senate primary, even though Wilson has long been considered his protégé .

Here's the text of a postcard sent to CD 3 Republicans:

Dear Friend:
I'm so pleased that Marco Gonzales is running for congress to represent northern New Mexico.
I have known and been friends with Marco for over 20 years. Marco started his public service career by serving as my legislative assistant while attending college and law school at night.
I have seen firsthand Marco's dedication and commitment to New Mexico and have confidence in his ability to effectively represent the third district--from day one.
I have enjoyed seeing Marco advance his professional career back
home in New Mexico and re-establish his northern roots. Because Marco understands our unique cultures and interests and is a man of principle and conviction, I know he will serve us well in Congress.
That's why I'm supporting his candidacy and wanted to take a moment to encourage you to do the same. But don't just take it from me. I encourage you to call Marco or join him at upcoming event.
Talk to Marco about the issues facing our nation and learn more about his views for the future of New Mexico. I am confident that after you do, you too, will see the same qualities, talents, and views that have me supporting his candidacy for congress.

In closing, I want to thank you again for you support as I have worked to represent you in the United States Senate. It has been my honor to serve you and the state of New Mexico for the past 37 years.


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