Thursday, July 31, 2008


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
August 1, 2008

Warning to blog readers: Most of this column is based on previous blog posts

I just returned from two weeks off. (Anyone miss this column last week?) But I didn’t take two weeks off music.

Here in New Mexico I caught a couple of excellent free Santa Fe Bandstand concerts on the Plaza by The Gourds and Hundred Year Flood. I saw a free city-sponsored show in Albuquerque — Cracker, Camper Van Beethoven frontman David Lowrey’s other band.

I also went to the Utah Phillips tribute at the Santa Fe Brewing Company, which starred 78-year-old poet/singer Kell Robertson, Joe West, George Adelo, and Gwen Lenore. (My only disappointment was that the anticipated Robertson/West duet never came off, because the stubborn Robertson couldn’t be coaxed back on the stage.)

But the highlight of the vacation was my trip to Chicago, where my son and I went to the last day of the Pitchfork Music Festival. Pitchfork is a leading online publication specializing in indie rock. This was the third annual festival.

I’m getting a little old to stand out in the hot sun in a crowd of thousands for 10 hours at a time, so I decided to go for just one day. Besides, I wanted to spend a little time seeing other parts of Chicago.

Specifically, I was intent on seeing the old Chess Records studios at 2120 S. Michigan Ave., which now houses Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven Foundation. I just wanted to stand in the same room where Chuck Berry recorded “Johnny B. Goode,” where Muddy Waters rolled and tumbled, where Howlin’ Wolf howled, and where Willie Dixon and Koko Taylor recorded “Insane Asylum.” This is nothing short of sacred ground!
One of the biggest surprises of the studio tour was discovering a wall featuring dozens of pieces from artist Sharon McConnell’s Lifecast: Blues series of plaster facial masks of blues musicians. McConnell is a former resident of Santa Fe, and many of the masks graced the New Mexico state Capitol Rotunda a couple of years ago. It was almost like seeing a bunch of old friends.

One day of Pitchfork was plenty. Here’s some of the most memorable music:
* King Kahn & The Shrines: Their brand of crazed rock ’n’ soul music (nine or 10 guys in the band, plus a lovely go-go dancer/cheerleader) along with Khan’s crazy lyrics and antics ignited the place. At one point, Khan had people tearing up dollar bills. In one song, he described a surreal and hilarious sexual encounter in shameless detail. And what a band! These players — mainly European, I’m assuming — play like Stax/Volt all-stars on crystal meth. For all the weirdness and tomfoolery, The Shrines are extremely tight.
* Dinosaur Jr.: The only other time I saw this classic grunge-era band was back in 1993 at Lollapalooza. After being inactive for a decade or so, Dino came back last year with its original lineup — J Mascis on guitar, Lou Barlow on bass, and Murph on drums. I liked the comeback album, Beyond, but I didn’t expect DJ to be this mighty onstage. They roared! Mascis still rips into his guitar like a wild man forcing it to scream. The band played tunes from Beyond plus some old favor“The Wagon,” “Out There,” “Feel the Pain,” and their anthem of old, “Freak Scene.” Mascis’ hair might be gray, but these tunes are forever young.
* The Dirty Projectors: I wondered how the songs from the Projectors’ most recent album, Rise Above — radical reworkings of Black Flag’s Wasted album — would translate to a live stage. Quite well, it turns out.

Frontman/singer/guitarist Dave Longstreth deserves credit as the guiding light behind the Projectors, but the two women singers (Angel Deradoorian and Amber Coffman) also deserve much credit for their strange and intricate harmonies. While Longstreth’s guitar often sounds straight out of Africa, seeing the Projectors live reminded me of another style of world music — the experimental tunes of Brazilian Tom Zé.

* Spiritualized: This actually was one of the only disappointments of the festival. The band had a couple of female vocalists with them to add some gospel-like touches. But the ultimate effect was just too churchy — too many lyrics about soe, shining lights, etc. And too much Dark Side of the Moon in the music, at least for the first half of the show. Spiritualized began rocking out about 30 minutes into their set.

* Health: I enjoyed these guys, though I suspect a little of them goes a long way. Health is a Los Angeles noise band that specializes in heavy percussion, feedback, and screaming. They reminded me a little bit of the Boredoms (though they could use a little of the Japanese band’s zany humor). My son was excited when he learned that they were playing Pitchfork. He’d just seen them the week before in Santa Fe at Warehouse 21. It’s funny, but the Health album he recently bought, Disco, doesn’t sound much at all like their live performance. The record is full of synthy keyboards and seems like run-of-the-mill techno. Their live show is harsher and more relentless but ultimately more listenable.

On the local front:
* Desert Trippin’ by Gary Gorence: Full disclosure: nearly 25 years ago Gorence played in my band Spudgrasslled The Spuds). But he’s done a lot since then — fronting his own band Renegade Country and, more recently, playing with Mike Montiel in The Jakes.

Backed by members of The Jakes, Desert Trippin’ is good, rootsy, bluesy country-rock and Southern rock with all original songs. My favorite ones are modern outlaw tunes. The opening cut, “A Rebel With Good Intentions,” is about a good ol’ boy draft dodger who ends up in a bad confrontation with the FBI. “Red Sky Café” is about a couple of rowdy women, one of whom has vengeance on her mind.

The CD release party for Desert Trippin’ is at 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 3, at the Cowgirl BBQ (319 S. Guadalupe St., 982-2565). Admission is free.


Although Gov. Bill Richardson's presidential bid died in the snows of New Hampshire, it's not too late to get Richardson for President paraphernalia.

Cafe Press still has loads of T-shirts, bumper stickers, buttons, coffee mugs, throw pillows, infant body suits, etc. etc.

There are lots of Obama/Richardson designs at Cafe Press. There's also a few Richardson/Obama logos.

Most of these products were not officially approved by the Richardson campaign. In fact, it's pretty doubtful that any were officially approved. I'd sure hate to be the Richardson staffer who signed off on the one below.


Although most polls on the New Mexico Senate race have shown Democrat Tom Udall beating Republican Steve Pearce by better than 20 points, a new Zogby poll shows Pearce coming within just eight points.

Here's what Zogby has to say:

Independent, moderate and Hispanic voters are putting Democrat Tom Udall in position to take the seat being vacated by Republican Pete Domenici. Udall leads Republican Steve Pearce, 49%-41% ...

Moderates favor Udall by more than 2-to-1, while Independents give him a 10% lead. Udall nearly doubles Pearce’s support among Hispanics. The two are even among men, but Udall holds a solid lead among women.

Pearce’s strengths are with the traditional GOP voters: regular church goers and gun owners. The survey included 464 likely voters in New Mexico and carries a margin of error of +/- 4.6 percentage points.

That seems like a radical shift. But there are major differences in how this poll was conducted compared to others.

Even though Zogby just released the poll -- an online "interactive" survey -- the data actually is a month old. It was taken between June 11-30, 2008. There is no indication that the sampling was "likely voters" or "registered voters."

The previous poll I saw was Rasmussen's, which showed Udall ahead 59 percent to 34 percent. That poll was taken on July 25 of 700 likely voters. Its margin of sampling error for the survey is plus or minus 4 percentage.

As Tom Waits said, "The large print giveth and the small print taketh away."


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

Although state Public Regulation Commission candidates Jerome Block Jr. and Rick Lass apparently won’t have a face-to-face debate, Block, the Democratic nominee, and Lass, the Green Party contender, sure aren’t hesitant to go after each other via e-mail.

Responding to Block’s public refusal to debate — in which Block belittled Lass’ past jobs as a “pizza delivery person” and grocery clerk — Lass on Wednesday released an open letter in which he raises questions about Block’s education and his job in the title-insurance business.

Lass’ “Open Letter to Jerome Block, Jr.” says voters deserve debates between the candidates so “they can better decide which candidate is more likely to protect them from rising utility and insurance costs.”

The two are running for the $90,000-a-year job representing PRC District 3, which includes Santa Fe and much of northeastern New Mexico.

“For more than a decade,” Lass wrote, “I have been working without pay on not just election and democracy issues, but on kitchen table issues like the living wage and repeal of the food tax. What is your record of public service?

“I earned a bachelor of arts degree from St. John’s College here in Santa Fe, and am well prepared to tackle the complexity of the issues before the PRC. What is your educational background?”

Block told The New Mexican earlier this year that he attended New Mexico State University but didn’t graduate. Block said he received “the equivalent of an associate degree” from the Anderson School of Management at The University of New Mexico.

“Your only qualification seems to be your employment by the title insurance industry, which represents an enormous conflict of interest given the PRC sets the price of title insurance in New Mexico,” Lass wrote. “How can the voters trust you to represent them on rate hearings involving an industry for which you were on the payroll and may still be?” (Before the primary Block took a leave of absence from his job as sales manager for the Land America title insurance company.)

Lass then refers to brushes with the law on the part of himself and Block. (Lass was arrested on a simple battery charge in 1999 after a fight with his then-girlfriend. Block was arrested for drunken driving in 1998 and had a later arrest and conviction for riding with a drunken driver.)

“We’ve both made mistakes — that is human. I took responsibility for mine, got help, and have been open about it in communicating with the media. You handled (and continue to handle) your situation much differently. Can voters be assured you have the maturity to hold such an important public office?”

Lass concludes by accusing Block of “ducking the debates because you think your chances for election are better if you keep voters in the dark about your lack of qualifications and record of public service and instead rely on the name of your father and the coattails of others. I guess that worked for you in the Democratic Party primary.”

Block couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.

Speaking of debates: Republican Dan East, who is running for Northern New Mexico’s open 3rd District Congressional seat, took a jab at his Democratic opponent for missing a recent candidate forum.
Dan East, Rep
In an e-mail, East said, “The New Mexico Farm Bureau Association met for their annual State Convention at the Inn of the Mountain Gods today. Included on the schedule, was a candidate forum for New Mexico’s federal candidates. Notably missing from the forum was Ben Ray Luján, son of State House speaker Ben Luján. …

“I want to know why his handlers are not allowing him to meet me face to face. What are they hiding him from? The people of this district deserve better, and I challenge the Speaker to allow his son to debate me.”
Ben Ray Lujan, Dem
Luján skipped the Farm Bureau forum because he was campaigning in Mora County, a spokesman said, noting the resort near Ruidoso isn’t in the 3rd Congressional District. Luján will debate East — and presumably independent candidates Carol Miller and Ron Simmons — the spokesman said.

The next scheduled candidate forum is set for Monday at the College of Santa Fe, an event sponsored by The Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the Association of Commerce & Industry of New Mexico.

Getting prepared: Asked this week about his thoughts on the upcoming special session of the state Legislature, outgoing Sen. John Grubesic, D-Santa Fe, said he’s ready. Grubesic, who isn’t seeking re-election, joked that he learned just about everything he needs to know about the special session at a recent meeting of the Legislative Council: “I learned the correct pronunciation of sine die.”

For those not well-versed in Latin or legislative jargon, that’s the term used when they end a legislative session.

In recent years in New Mexico, it’s come to mean adjourning before Gov. Bill Richardson is ready for the legislators to adjourn. The Senate did that several times last year when Richardson attempted to call a special session right after the regular session. Rumblings in the Senate indicate it could happen again when the new special session convenes Aug. 15.

So what’s the correct pronunciation? Grubesic said there are several. Indeed, Googling a few online dictionaries you’ll find, SEE-nae DEE-ae, SI-na Die-ee and other variations.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


You can find my story about Jerome Block, Jr.'s refusal to debate Public Regulation Commission challenger Rick Lass HERE.

Below is the cut-and-pasted original debate challenge from Lass, followed by the cut-and-pasted response from Block. As you can see, this race isn't getting any prettier.

To: Jerome Block, Jr.From: Rick Lass
Re: Candidate Debates for District 3 Seat on the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission

The Rick Lass for PRC campaign extends an invitation to Jerome Block, Jr., to participate in a series of debates before the general election in November. Lass proposes to hold one debate in each of the counties which make up District 3, to allow each county's residents to meet the candidates and hear them discuss the issues without having to travel long distances to do so.
Lass believes that voters have a clear choice in this election. They have a right to know where both candidates stand on the issues, what their qualifications are, and which of them would best represent the interests of New Mexicans who are struggling to run their homes and small businesses in the face of rising insurance, transportation and utility costs.

Lass advocated for small businesses as the membership director of the Santa Fe Business Alliance which, among other projects, worked with the City of Santa Fe to ensure that the interests of local, independent businesses were factored into the city's long-range master plan. He has worked tirelessly since 1995 to maintain the integrity of the electoral process, for example, as the current director of the nonprofit organization, Voting Matters, which recently led the efforts to pass seven good government amendments to Santa Fe's city charter. Lass has a long history of activism, volunteerism and effective collaboration on behalf of New Mexicans and their small businesses. He believes that the Public Regulation Commission exists to protect consumers, small business owners, working people, and everyday New Mexicans, and is committed to working day in and day out to ensure that the PRC lives up to that obligation. He was drafted to run as a Green Party candidate by a coalition of progressive Democrats, independents and Greens who were concerned about the apparent lack of qualifications of the Democratic Party's nominee and the lack of a better choice for the Public Regulation Commission in the general election.

Rick Lass looks forward to hearing from the Block campaign, and arranging for dates and formats for these debates, at Mr. Block's earliest opportunity.

Block's response:

July 29, 2008
Rick Lass
Re: Candidate Debates

Mr. Lass: I received your press release inviting me to a
series of debates in PRC District 3.
I plan on conducting my campaign at a grass roots level, as I did in the Democratic Primary. My intention is to visit every corner of the district and visit as many constituents on a one-to-one basis as possible. Regardless of your motivation or agenda in conducting debates, I do not intend my campaign schedule to be influenced by a minor party candidate who had to be “drafted to run”.

You and your supporters tout you as the “qualified candidate”. While there is nothing wrong with your real life experiences and employment as a pizza delivery person and a food market clerk, I do not feel it qualifies you to be a PRC commissioner. You mention, repeatedly, your advocacy for voting initiatives. Perhaps you are not aware that the PRC does not deal with voting issues. Perhaps you would consider applying your self-professed talents to running for county clerk in 2012.

I also noted with amusement that your letterhead lists you as “Public Regulation Commissioner”. Are you trying to deceive recipients’ of your correspondence that you are an incumbent commissioner?!


Sunday, July 27, 2008


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

101.1 FM
email me during the show!

OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Hey Sailor by The Detroit Cobras
Humanoid Boogie by The Bonzo Dog Band
Land of the Freak by King Khan & The Shrines
Burn My Mind by The Monsters
Eat My Weiner by Lothar
Indivisible by The Dirtbombs
Toxic Avenger by The Dickies
Greencard Husband by Gogol Bordello
Greedy Awful People by The Stooges
LSD by The Pretty Things

Hanky Panky by Tommy James & The Shondells
No Other Girl by The Blasters
Girls for Single Men by Sausage
Your Woman Andre Williams & The New Orleans Hellhounds
Fever by Bayou City Beach Party (Electric Attitude)
Scrap It by Quan & The Chinese Takeouts
Out There by Dinosaur Jr.
I Got a Razor by Willie Dixon & Memphis Slim
Long Distance Call by Muddy Waters
Doctor Jeckyl by Bo Diddley
I'm the Wolf by Howlin' Wolf
Come on in This House by Junior Wells
You Can't Catch Me by Chuck Berry
Johnny B. Goode by Roy & The Devil's Mototcycle

Rise Above by The Dirty Projectors
Angel by Camper Van Beethoven
Girlfriend by Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog
Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On by The Temptations
Hurt Me So by The Diplomats of Solid Sound
Black Market Baby by Tom Waits
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Saturday, July 26, 2008


But I will be Monday. Meanwhile, some politics has been creeping into my e-mail.

A couple of new Rasmussen polls deal with New Mexico.

In the Senate race, Democrat Tom Udall contrinues to have a wide lead over Republican Steve Pearce 59 percent to 34 percent. When “leaners” are included, Udall is ahead 61 percent to Pearce's 35 percent. ("Leaners," according to Rasmussen are people who don’t initially express a preference for one of the major candidates. But, when asked a follow-up question in the poll, they do. )
Some of Floyd's Buttons
This is the fourth straight month Udall has come in at more than 50 percent in the Rasmussen poll and the third straight month Pearce has been below 40 percent.

In the presidential race, Barack Obama continues to lead John McCain in the battle for New Mexico's five electoral votes., 46 percent to 41 percent. When "leaners" are counted, it's Obama 49 percent to 43 percent.

Both candidates are viewed favorably by 57% of the state’s
voters. Obama gets negative reviews from 41%, McCain from 39%. Reflecting a pattern seen across the country, opinions are more strongly held about Obama. In New Mexico, 31% have a Very Favorable opinion of the Democratic hopeful while just 21% say the same about his Republican rival. Both are viewed Very Unfavorably by 24%.

McCain has gained slightly since last month, Rasmussen says. In June, Obama was ahead here by eight percentage points.

Gov. Bill Richardson, according to Rasmussen's latest New Mexico poll, got a good or excellent rating from 51 percent of voters, which is up from 47 percent last month. Twenty-one percent of voters say Richardson is doing a poor job as governor, down from 24 percent a month ago.

Friday, July 25, 2008


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

101.1 FM
email me during the show!

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
I'm a Ramblin' Man by Waylon Jennings
Number Nine Train by Dale Hawkins
Gunslinger (Return of Nobody) by Ruby Dee & The Snakehandlers
Rings by Jim Stringer & The AM Band
Here Rattler Here by The Pine Valley Cosmonauts
Good For Me by The Waco Brothers
Got U on My Mind by The Watzloves
Big Boy Waltz by Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys
Johny Can't Dance by Mama Rosin
Someday My Prince Will Come by Skeeter Davis & NRBQ
Truly by Hundred Year Flood
Jockey Full of Bourbon by The Santa Fe All Stars
One Cut, One Kill by Bone Orchard
A Rebel With Good Intentions by Gary Gorence
The Wicked Things by Boris McCutcheon & The Saltlicks
Shoot Out the Stars by Nels Andrews
That Nightmare is Me by Mose McCormack
El Corrido de Emilio Naranjo by Angel Espinoza y su Grupo Eternidad

Touch of Evil by Tom Russell
The Outcast by Dave Van Ronk with Tom Russell
Mineral Wells by R.G. Stark
Nature of the Blues by Eric Hisaw
East Side Boys by Martin Zellar
License to Kill by Maria Muldaur
Flavor on the Tongue by The Gourds

Sadly Beautiful by Glen Campbell
El Paso City by Marty Robins
Lock, Stock and Teardrops by Roger Miller
Dark Hollow by The Grateful Dead
The Maker by Daniel Lanois
Pressing On by John Doe
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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



This wasn't your typical Hundred Year Flood show (not that there's anything wrong with a typical HYF show!) Less than an hour before taking the stage, during the opening band, Bone Orchard's set, HYF singer/guitarist Bill Palmer got a call informing him that bass player Kendra Lauman had just given birth to a baby boy.

I'd seen Kendra last week during The Gourds' show. She said her due date was near, but she was determined to make the Plaza gig. Well, she got close ... Actually she'd gone into labor Thursday morning, Bill said. Her husband Jim Palmer, HYF's drummer, had told Bill that he'd better find a substitute rhythm section.
He did. Bassist Susan Hyde Holmes (Santa Fe All Stars, Boris & The Saltlicks, etc.) and drummer David Waldrop filled in. Neither had ever done a Flood gig before, but both play with Bill & Felicia Ford's country band The Cherry Pickers, so there was already musical compatibility. Susan and David stepped up to the plate like pros.

So it was a special show for the band and their longtime fans, an emotional performance that will be talked about for a long time. Flood did a bunch of new songs from their upcoming album, as well as at least one Blue Mountain cover and a classic country song The Cherry Pickers perform, "Delta Dawn." (Though Tanya Tucker and Helen Reddy had hits with that song, my favorite version is the one by Waylon Jennings.

I also enjoyed seeing Bone Orchard, who I hadn't seen since a couple of Thirsty ear Festivals ago. They're a Taos band fronted by a couple, Daniel Pretends Eagle on guitar, banjo and vocals and Carol Morgan-Eagle on vocals.

The group had to struggle through a downpour -- and I confess, I skipped out on one song to buy a cheap pancho at the Five and Dime. But here in New Mexico, a little rain at an outdoor concert is considered a blessing, so it was still a good set.

Besides the songs I've heard on their two albums, Bone Orchard surprised me with a great cover of Cher's "Bang Bang."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


... and not moved to Santa Fe 40 years ago, I could have been covering political stories like this one:

Oklahoma County Commissioner Brent Rinehart, an obvious devotee to Chick Comics, created a nifty little comic book for his re-election campaign in which he takes a bold stand against "pedaphiles," anal sodomy and "liberal good old boys."

Read the Daily Oklahoman story HERE. I like the quote from the political scientist who says, "I've never seen a comic book with the phrase ‘anal sodomy' in it before."

And pay no attention to the fact that one of the targets in the comic, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmundon, last year filed felony charges against Rinehart last year, accusing him of perjury, conspiracy, and money laundering, all related to the commissioner's 2004 election campaign finances.

Below is a report from CNN:

Monday, July 21, 2008



( I meant to post this last night, but I was so fried that I barely was able to get my photos uploaded on FLICKR. But that just means I had a great time.)

My son and I went to the final day of The Pitchfork Festival in Chicago. Music festivals are such an endurance test for old farts like me -- standing out in the hot sun in a park with few seats for 10 or 12 hours -- I just wanted to do one day. I chose Sunday mainly because of King Kahn & The Shrines.
I knew he was bound to be one of the major highlights of the festival but Khan and band were even better than I'd imagined. Their brand of crazed rock 'n' soul music (9 or 10 guys in the band, plus a lovely go-go dancer), along with Khan's crazy lyrics and antics ignited the place. At one point he had people tearing up dollar bills. In one song he describes a surreal and hilarious sexual encounter in shameless detail.

And what a band! These players -- mainly European I'm assuming -- play like Stax/Volt all-stars on crystal meth. For all the weirdness and tomfoolery, The Shrines are extremely tight.

Khan's set was heavy on tunes from his recent "greatest hits" package The Supreme Genius of King Khan & The Shrines. "Welfare Bread," "I Wanna Be a Girl," "Torture," and an unbelievably intense "Shivers Down My Spine."

This reportedly is this band's first U.S. tour. I'm expecting it's far from the last.

I was so worn out out from the Khan spectacular, I couldn't deal with much music for the next couple of hours. I did catch a little bit of M. Ward, who has a cool roots-rock sound. I heard some Leo Kottke guitar riffs early in his set when Ward was playing solo.)

I was still pretty kooked out when Spiritualized took the stage. They actually were one of the only disappointments of the festival. The band had a couple of female vocalists with them to add some gospel-like touches. But the ultimate effect was just too churchy -- too many lyrics about souls on fire, shining lights, etc. And too much Dark Side of the Moon in the music, at least for the first half of the show. Spiritualize began rocking out about 30 minutes into their set.
But I was truly revived by Dinosaur Jr. I'd been looking forward to seeing them with the original line-up featuring Lou Barlow on bass. The only other time I saw them was back in 1993 when they played Lollapalooza. (I caught the Denver show.)

I expected to enjoy their Pitchfork set, but I didn't expect them to be that good. They roared! Mascis still rips into his guitar like a wild man forcing it to scream.

Dinosaur Jr. played tunes from their most recent album Beyond, (an actual reunion album that doesn't suck), plus some old favorites like "The Wagon," "I Know You're Out There," "Feel the Pain" and their anthem of old, "Freak Scene." J's hair might be gray, but these tunes are forever young.
Early in the day I caught The Dirty Projectors. Their album Rise Above -- radical reworkings of Black Flag's Wasted album -- made my Top 10 list last year. But I wondered how these songs would translate on a live stage.

Quite well, it turns out. Frontman/singer.guitarist Dave Longstreth deserves credit as the guiding light behind the Projectors, but the two women singers (Angel Deradoorian and Amber Coffman, if their MySpace page is to be trusted) also deserve recognition for the strange and intricate harmonies.

While Longstreth's guitar often sounds straight out of Africa, seeing the Projectors live also reminded of another style of World Music -- mainly the experimental tunes of Brazilian Tom Ze.
A band I enjoyed -- though I suspect a little of them goes a long way -- was HEALTH. This is a Los Angeles noise band that specializes in heavy percussion, feedback and screaming. They reminded me a little bit of The Boredoms, (though they could use a little of that band's zany humor.)

My son was excited when he learned they were playing Pitchfork. He'd just seen them the week before here in Santa Fe. It's funny -- the HEALTH album he just bought doesn't sound much at all like their live performance. The record is full of synthy keyboards and seems like run-of-the-mill techno. Their live show is harsher and more relentless, but ultimately more listenable.


Sunday, July 20, 2008



I'm here in Chicago to see the last day of The Pitchfork Festival with my son. I'm most excited about seeing King Khan & The Shrines, but I'm also looking forward to The Dirty Projectors and Dinosaur Jr. I'll write a full report tomorrow.
I spent part of this afternoon checking out the old Chess Studios at 2120 South Michigan Avenue. It's now known as Willie Dixon's Blues Heaven.
When we went in, a man led us up a flight of stairs and into a room with rows of chairs in front of a TV set. He put on a video about the history of Chicago blues with some great footage of Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, James Cotton, etc.

It didn't hit me until I'd been there a few minutes that this was the actual studio where Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and even The Rolling Stones had recorded some of the seminal songs of the last 50 years.

"Johnny B. Goode" was recorded in that that room. It's nothing short of sacred ground!
Talking with our friendly tour guide, he said, "You're from Santa Fe? Do you know Sharon McConnell? Sure shootin', downstairs on a wall are dozens of Sharon's Lifecast collection of plaster facial masks of blues musicians.

Many of these graced the New Mexico state Capitol Rotunda a couple of years ago. It was almost like seeing a bunch of old friends. I've always said the Roundhouse lost some soul when they took that exhibit down.

Sharon, who now lives in Mississippi, is well liked at Blues Heaven. She apparently did some casting of blues faces there at the museum a few years ago. Some of the women working there even asked me how Sharon's dog Bella was doing.

I took a few snapshots at the museum. Check 'em HERE..

And yes, we went to the top of the Sears Tower...


Friday, July 18, 2008



There was a big crowd on the Plaza Thursday and, as expected, The Gourds romped and stomped a hopped-up set at Santa Fe Bandstand. And even though they didn't play my favorite two Gourds songs ("Ants on the Melon" and "My Name is Jorge") it was still a great show. They did so many good songs, who cares if they didn't do everything.

One of my favorites was a rousing Beatles cover -- an under-appreciated Ringo "country" song, "Don't Pass Me By." This they followed with a medley of "Motherless Children" and "Will the Circle Be Unbroken."

They did one of their most powerful tunes, "Web Before You Walk Into It" (" ... you bought the last bottle last time, remember?") which is from their very first album, Dems Good Beeble.

And, hell, "Burn the Honeysuckle" is pretty similar to "Ants on the Melon" -- and almost as good.
They performed good versions of "Pine Island Bayou," "Lower 48," (their rowdy encore) "Red Letter Day" (banjo/fiddle/guitar man Max Johnston's one turn at the mike Thursday) and "(Somebody Bring me a Flower) I'm a Robot," which first appeared on singer Kev Russell's solo album several years ago.

And no, The Gourds didn't suddenly burst into a raging stream of obscenities. They managed to follow their no-cussing clause. (And no, they didn't do "Gin and Juice" despite some shouted requests.) For one thing, the place was crawling with kiddies, some of whom occasionally joined the band onstage. That's one of the cool things about the Santa Fe Bandstand shows. It does have a community/family feel.

Next Thursday, Bone Orchard and Hundred Year Flood play Santa Fe Bandstand.

Check out my snapshots HERE

And again, just because I'm a nice guy, I'll share a recent Gourds concert (April 15, 08), courtesy of the Live Music Archive. It's from a house party in St. Louis. Listen to any or all of the songs.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


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

I wouldn’t be the first critic in Criticdom to compare the latest work of James McMurtry — who is playing this weekend at Santa Fe Brewing Company — to the music of Steve Earle. McMurtry’s most recent album, Just Us Kids, is full of political rage.
JAMES McMURTY at Frogfest 06
I’m not sure whether “The Governor” is about any actual governor — definitely not ours; the story takes place in a state that has water. It’s a hard-edged, blues-drenched parable of different kinds of justice among the various social classes. A fisherman is killed by a reckless cigarette boat on an unnamed lake.

“They try to get a warrant — dream all you want/They won’t be searchin’ any lakefront homes/Justice is blind to them that own it/Money don’t talk when it’s one of their own.”

The wistful “Ruins of the Realm” deals with the decay of various civilizations, including our own. My favorite verse is probably: “We got the National Guard with the bayonets/We got the Ten Commandments on the Swe shalt not kill/Dancin’ in the ruins of our own free will/Dancin’ in the ruins of the South/Confederate flag taped over my mouth.”

In “God Bless America (Pat MacDonald Must Die),” McMurtry, over a monster-metal riff, describes an SUV (and the political/economic realities behind it: “That thing don’t run on French fry grease/That thing don’t run on love and peace/Takes gasoline to make that thing go/Now bring your hands up nice and slow.” (No, the MacDonald in the title isn’t some obscure cabinet secretary. He’s the former leader of Timbuk 3, who plays harmonica on the song.)

The weakest political song here may be the one that’s gotten the most attention. “Cheney’s Toy,” a near-six-minute tirade against the president of the United States.

“You’re the man; show ’em what you’re made of/You’re no longer daddy’s boy/Take a stand, give ’em what they paid for/’cause you’re only Cheney’s toy.”
I dunno, but it seems to me that this piñata’s already been beaten to shreds, and the candy’s all gone. No, I don’t mind singers ripping into sitting presidents. I liked Neil Young’s Living With War. And, 40 years after they recorded it, I still laugh at Country Joe & The Fish telling Richard Nixon to “go back to Orange County and take off your pants” in “Superbird (Tricky Dick).” The point is, our current lame-duck president’s poll numbers are so low at this point that railing against Bush seems more like a tired ritual than a daring attack.

As always, McMurtry’s best songs deal not with politicians but with the lives of the working class and underclass trying to get by. “Fireline Road” is about a woman caring for her drug-addicted incest-victim sister. The narrator dreams of changing her name and changing her life. “Ruby and Carlos” is an aching acoustic tune about a drummer, his much-older girlfriend, and their deteriorating relationship.

But actually I wish there were a few less-serious numbers and a few more songs like the opening track, “Bayou Tortous.” It’s a straight-ahead swamp stomp (featuring a cameo by Cajun-rocker C.C. Adcock on guitar) and one of the few tunes in which the lyrics offer some of McMurtry’s trademark sardonic humor. The song starts off with the narrator and his wife “sitting on a couch watching Court TV.” But escapades ensue.

“I was lookin’ at every woman but mine/I was lookin’ at their faces,lookin’ at their parts/Lookin’ through the hole at the bottom of my heart.”
This tune comes closer than anything else on the album to some of McMurtry’s classics, like “Choctaw Bingo” and “Sixty Acres.” I hope he spends more time in Turtle Bayou and a little less time in The Situation Room.

James McMurtry and the Heartless Bastards perform at 7:30 p.m Friday, July 18, at Santa Fe Brewing Company (27 Fire Place). Tickets are $18 in advance at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, 211 W. San Francisco St., 988-1234; $25 at the door.

Also recommended:

* Deep Cuts by Tony Joe White. The undisputed king of swamp rock (well, I guess, unless you’re unless you’re Slim Harpo) is back with an amazing little record that actually adds weird new dimensions to the basic sound he pioneered nearly 40 years ago.
Chomp chomp!
With his impossibly deep drawl, his tremolo guitar, and a soul full of Louisiana funk, White brought the swamp to mainstream America with his hit “Polk Salad Annie.”

(Intellectual side trip: most people who think about this kind of thing believe that the coolest moment in the history of swamp rock was when Tony Joe says, “chomp, chomp” right after singing, “gators got your granny” in the refrain of the song. But I’m convinced that the coolest moment in the history of swamp rock came right after that, when Tony Joe says, “a wretched, spiteful, straight-razor-totin’ woman,” referring to Annie’s mother. Or, come to think of it, maybe it was the surprise wah-wah guitar solo at the very end. Discuss amongst yourselves.)

The new album, produced by White’s son Jody, updates the sound with some tasteful touches of techno, doing so without overwhelming his dad — and without being cheesy. If anything, it sounds even swampier.

Tony Joe performs a few of his older songs here, including “Willie and Laura Mae Jones,” the foreboding “High Sheriff of Calhoun Parrish” (it now sounds like a tune Portishead might do), and a here-come-the-hippies 1968 oddity called “Soul Francisco (those flower children were “wearin’ beads and all kind of funky clothes,” according to Tony Joe).

There are also a couple of funky instrumentals: “Set the Hook” (with a nasty harmonica solo over the voodoo drums) and “Swamp Water,” in which crazy drums battle a choppy guitar (Tony Joe’s still got his wah-wah pedal!). There’s also “As the Crow Flies” a six-minute swamp odyssey.

So dive right in. The gators are still hungry.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


While cruising around on the Live Music Archive tonight I found a strange little site called The Wayback Machine , which basically is a search engine for long-lost Web pages that have been archived through some unholy fusing of technology and necromancy.

I couldn't resist the temptation to look up my original Web site, which I created soon after I first got on AOL about 11 years ago.

Sure enough, there were a few versions of the old site, the earliest being from December 1998. The cool thing is, most of the graphics and the links still work! (Some of my favorite old antimated giffs I'll include here.)

I also found some versions of the Web site after I left AOL and took the site to the wretched Dreamwater site. The most recent one is May 2003. It includes the infamous dancing Potatoheads, which came up in a murder trial in which the defense attorney tried to imply my Web site influenced the investigation of the case. (The defendant got off, so maybe the jury believed some of that talk.)

By the end of the year I was no longer able to access my site (and unable to get anyone from Dreamwater to return e-mails), so that led me to create this here blog.

Sure brings back some memories!


ANTS ON THE MELON I'm looking forward to seeing The Gourds Thursday night on the Plaza as part of the Santa Fe Bandstand series. But the show just became more interesting after this Internet message from Gourds singer/mandolinist Kev Russell. (I'm naturally suspicious of some things that pop up on the Web, even some Maureen Dowd columns. But I checked this out and verified it with a source close to the band.)
Oh by the way we are under a "curse word" ban in Santa Fe NM this week. I do not know if we can get through a whole show without dropping expletives. If we hadn't been told not to, it would have been more likely that we wouldn't. But, now, I don't know, I just don't know. We might have some huffy New Mexicans morally judging us as we bust out of the Land Of Enchantment, pockets full of chili pods and fried bread.
I suspect there's probably some standard clause in The Gourds' contract prohibiting obscenity since it's outisde on public property, etc. I doubt the Cuss Word Police will be pulling double shifts Thursday night to guard us against the Gourds menace.

Still, it'll be interesting to see how the band handles the inevitable requests for their countried-up version of "Gin and Juice."

Should be a darn good show. Sean Helean opens at 6 p.m. The Gourds go on at 7.


I'm still on the mailing list for The Government of God on Earth , the organization of Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda, the self proclaimed second coming of Christ. They forwarded the news of a Houston TV station doing a report on the new messiah. Read it and watch it HERE.

Part of the new JC's gospel is pretty interesting.
"His message tells us that we’re perfect, that there’s no sin, there’s no devil,” (one follower) says. Miranda also says there’s no hell.
I think he got that from a much older source -- The Temptations:

"I'm tellin' you the natural facts for what it's worth/ You make your own Heaven and Hell right here on Earth/on Earth, on Earth, on Earth."
You gotta dig those cool "666" symbols on the podium and his followers' baseball caps. What could that mean?

I found this YouTube about Miranda by his fans. Enjoy.

Monday, July 14, 2008


I know, I know, I'm on vacation and I probably should be avoiding political stuff, but I couldn't resist Comedy Central's Indecision 2008 retrospect on the Richardson presidential campaign.

Basically, it's pretty brutal, but I learned these interesting "facts":

* Richardson was "The first serious candidate to strongly resemble the Incredible Hulk."

* Richardson enjoyed "support from the powerful pro-cockfighting wing of the Democratic Party." (They link to a story on the governor's much-mocked 2006 statement that "arguments for and against cockfighting have been strong on both sides," but failed to point out that he changed his mind and supported the cockfighting ban a few months later.)

The Indecision 2008 piece concludes, "For now Richardson remains the Governor of New Mexico, but the state's lackluster economy may inspire the voters to place him on waivers, at which point Richardson hopes he'll be picked up by the increasingly desperate Washington Nationals!"

Sunday, July 13, 2008


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

101.1 FM
email me during the show!

OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Surf's Up on Goon Island by The Wipeouters
Give Her a Great Big Kiss by The New York Dolls
Heaven Only Knows by Mary Weiss
Superbird/Tricky Dick by Country Joe & The Fish
Going Cheap by The Crushers
'sup by The Fuzzy Set
Crazy Pills by Quan & The Chinese Takeouts
Sweet and Sour by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

Bad Little Woman by The Wheels
I Know a Place by Jay Reatard
Alakazam by Sky Saxon
Young Men Dead by The Black Angels
Break on Through by Mark Ribot's Ceramic Dog
Shivers Down my Spine by King Khan & The Shrines
Plenty Nasty by The Diplomats of Solid Sound
Can You Deal With It by Andre Williams & The New Orleans Hell Hounds
I Hear Sirens by The Dirtbombs

As the Crow Flies by Tony Joe White
Baby Scratch My Back by Slim Harpo
Stealin' All Day by C.C. Adcock
I Walk on Gilded Splinters by Dr. John
Endless Sleep by Jody Reynolds
Polk Salad Annie by Elvis Presley

The History of Utah by Camper Van Beethoven
Teen Angst by Cracker
Put Me in jail by Joe "King" Carrasco y Las Coronas
Never Grew Up by The Fleshtones
Cactus by Frank Black & Two Pale Boys
Hoodoo Party by Tabby Thomas
Boney was a Warrior by Jack Shit
Lord Don't Let Me Fail by Mahalia Jackson
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis


I wrote another installation in the continuing series of stories on how Senate candidates Tom Udall and Steve Pearce differ on the issues. This one is about Iraq.

The main story is HERE. A sidebar on the candidates' history with the military is HERE. A quick chart on roll call votes on Iraq is HERE.

I also contributed a story to Kate Nash's package on private prisons in New Mexico. My story is about private prison campaign contributions to Bill Richardson and other New Mexico politicians.

(Yes, I've written similar stories in the past, but as long as GEO and the other companies keep giving, I'll keep writing it.)



As I mentioned in this week's Tune-up, Cracker played Albuquerque's Summerfest Saturday -- a free show -- so I figured it would be a good way to kick off my two-week vacation.

Although, I'm more of a Camper Van Beethoven fan, I was impressed. Cracker's an extremely tight band and longtime guitarist Johnny Hickman is downright impressive. And of course, David Lowrey is Lowrey. These days is band is a quartet -- two guitars, bass and drums.
They went through most of their best known songs -- "Teen Angst," "Euro Trash Girl," "Mr. Wrong," "Happy Birthday to Me." It seemed to me "Low" was a little half-hearted, but, as my son pointed out, that's how a lot of '90s bands treat their big hits.

Actually I preferred one of their newer songs, a Stonesy little tune called "Everybody Gets One For Free."

Cracker also played some bitchen covers -- Bob Dylan's "The Man in Me" (sung by Hickman), Jerry Garcia's "Loser" (I have a live Camper version of that tune) and Camper Van Beethoven's "Take the Skinheads Bowling."

Check out more snapshots of the show HERE.

If you missed Saturday's show, there's a whole lot of free, legal downloads of shows (going back years) at the Live Music Archive.

And just because I'm a nice guy, here's a flash player of the most recent show posted on the archive (July 5, 2008 in Milwaukee). Enjoy.

Friday, July 11, 2008


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

101.1 FM
email me during the show!

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
Get Up and Go/Fiddle Tunes by David Bromberg
Making Believe by Social Distortion
Eager Beaver Baby by Johnny Burnette Rock 'n' Roll Trio
Everybody Wants a Cowboy by Skeeter Davis & NRBQ
Trashy Women by Jerry Jeff Walker
You Ain't Gonna Have Ol' Buck to Kick Around No More by Buck Owens
Sweet Kind of Love by Jon Langford & The Pine Valley Cosmonauts
Cathead Biscuits and Gravy by Nancy Apple & Rob McNurlin

Cool and Dark Inside by Kell Robertson
Under the Stone by Jono Manson
Reprimand by The Santa Fe All-Stars
Red Sky Cafe by Gary Gorence
Ruins of the Realm by James McMurtry
Build Your Own Prison by The Boxmasters
I Long (Then I'm Gone) by Boris McCutcheon & The Saltlicks
Rice and Beans by Utah Phillips

My Name is Jorge by The Gourds
Action Packed by Jonathan Richman
Payday by Dan Hicks & The Hotlicks
Ain't No God in Mexico by Waylon Jennings
Psycho by Jack Kittel
Jubilee Train/Do Re Mi/Promised Land by Dave Alvin
He's in a Hurry by Johnny Paycheck

I'm Done With Leaving by Miss Leslie
Sister's Coming Home/Down at the Corner Beer Joint by Willie Nelson
Shake Sugaree by Elizabeth Cotton with Brenda Evans
Rebel Rouser by Jim Stringer
Don't Lose My Trail by Eleni Mandell
He'll Have to Go by Ry Cooder
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

Thursday, July 10, 2008


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

Back in the mid-to-late ’80s, during the rise of (and some would argue the heyday of) indie rock, college-radio rock, or whatever you want to call it, there was a slew of quirky, sometimes unabashedly goofy, bands seeped in spunk and irony that could be hip and childlike at the same time — groups like They Might Be Giants and Beat Happening, not to mention lesser-known outfits like Royal Crescent Mob, King Missile, The Swimming Pool Q’s, Mary’s Danish, and Thelonious Monster.

Perhaps the most original and most vital of all of these was Camper Van Beethoven, a California “surrealist absurdist folk” (as they called it) band with one foot in roots rock and one foot in pyschedelia, plus a weird fondness for Balkan and Mexican music and ska.

It was one of the first indie rock bands with a full-time fiddler (The Mekons created their own brand of violin-infused country punk with Fear and Whiskey, released in 1985, the same year as Camper’s first album, Telephone Free Landslide Victory).

Camper was funny and refreshing. And its new compilation, Popular Songs of Great Enduring Strength and Beauty, shows that the band is still relevant.

Actually, the group proved that in 2004 with what should have been its “comeback” album, the underrated New Roman Times, a crazy rock opera dealing with war, terrorism, and Patriot Act paranoia. (That actually was the group’s second album since its break-up in 1989. The first was a song-for-song remake of Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk, released in 2002.)
Jack Ruby and some of his girls
Sadly, none of the songs from New Roman Times (or for that matter, from Tusk) made it onto the new compilation — nor did my personal favorite Camper tune, “Jack Ruby,” one of the darker songs the band ever recorded. And another historical song to miss this boat was “Tania,” a love song to Patty Hearst.

Still, Popular Songs is an excellent collection of ’80s-era CVB tunes — a great introduction for those who missed the band the first time around and a welcome reminder for fair-weather fans who have forgotten how cool its music was.

Camper’s biggest “hit,” “Take the Skinheads Bowling,” is here. Over an upbeat two-chord guitar jangle, David Lowery, in his half-singing/half-speaking style, chirps inspired nonsense:
“Every day, I get up and pray to Jah/And he decreases the number of clocks by exactly one/Everybody’s comin’ home for lunch these days/Last night there were skinheads on my lawn.”

One of my favorites is “The History of Utah,” which originally appeared on CVB’s self-titled third album. It’s an alternative-universe version of Utah with barely-visible traces of actual history:

“He built an empire out of the desert/Out of the dust and the sand, just like Las Vegas/But he never took the route that the Mafia did/And he thought the Indians were some lost 13 dudes/But he didn’t treat them any better/And they were never on his side ... I’ve never seen this heaven or this place any differently/But now and then I dream of the flying saucers and they’re coming to take us away.”

The music is a basic blues that allows fiddler Jonathan Segel to explore weird spaces.

Then there’s “Opi Rides Again-Club Med Sucks,” which starts off with a Joe Maphis-influenced country-guitar instrumental that slips into a discordant dirge with a classic punk-rock refrain: “Club Med sucks/Authority sucks/I hate golf/I wanna play lacrosse.” This might be the only mention of lacrosse in the entire annals of punk rock.

Camper goes pure country on the aptly named “Sad Lover’s Waltz,” which reminds me a lot of Richard Thompson’s “Waltzing’s for Dreamers.”

I never realized until now how many fine instrumentals Camper did. “Border Ska” is more border than ska. Los Lobos almost could have done this one. Gogol Bordello probably is jealous of the Balkan-drenched “Skinhead Stomp.” “ZZ Top Goes to Egypt” (yes, there’s some boogie in the beat) is a showcase for Segel’s violin. “Circles,” featuring a wild (uncredited) sitar, is sheer postmodern raga rock.

While original versions of songs from Camper’s first three albums (which were on the old IRS label) are used on Popular Songs, the songs from the band’s last two albums of the ’80s, Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart and Key Lime Pie, are rerecordings. It seems that Virgin Records refused to sell the band the rights to those albums.

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate the music industry?

The new recordings are pretty good replicas of the songs from those albums, but don’t really add a new dimension, except maybe the energetic reworking of “All Her Favorite Fruit.”

I prefer the original Camper version of Status Quo’s “Pictures of Matchstick Men” — the only cover tune on the compilation. But I’m happy “When I Win the Lottery,” a skewed outlaw tale originally on Key Lime Pie, is included. “Well I lost an eye in Mexico/Lost two teeth where I don’t know/People see me comin’, and they move to the other side of the road.”

I hope more people discover Camper Van Beethoven. And I also hope the band gets busy and records some new material.

Good news and bad news: First the bad. Camper Van Beethoven isn’t scheduled to come to New Mexico any time in the near future. Now the good. David Lowery’s other band, Cracker, is scheduled to play Summerfest in Albuquerque at 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 12, at the Harry E. Kinney Civic Plaza (corner of Third Street and Marquette Avenue N.W.). And the really good news is that it’s free!


Gluey Brothers circa 1996, Austin, TexasBest news I heard all day is that The Gluey Brothers will be playing a couple of New Mexico shows. They will be at The Launch Pad in Albuquerque on Aug. 7 and The Santa Fe Brewing Company on Aug. 8.

According to M.C. Tahina, it's the first local Gluey show since the week before The Paramount closed, back in 2005. It's been longer than that since I've seen The Glueys, so I've got to see this one.


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

The state Democratic Party is crowing over new statewide voter registration figures. According to numbers the party received from the Secretary of State’s Office, the party has attracted more than 28,000 new voters since the first of the year — more than twice the number of newly registered Republicans.

Democratic Party spokeswoman Conchita Cruz partly credits the large number of new registrations to the large number of groups actively registering voters — the party itself, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, the Public Interest Research Groups, the Obama campaign and various state and local campaigns.

Dems have gained in the already heavily Democratic 3rd Congressional District. There have been 9,561 new Democratic registrations in the district this year, compared with 3,729 new Republican registrations.

Here in Santa Fe County, there have been 3,177 new Democratic registrations since Jan. 1. That compares with 873 new Republican registrations. But the biggest surprise is that the second biggest surge in registrations was my “party,” the Declined-to-States. So far this year, 1,035 new voter registrations in Santa Fe County were filled out with the DTS box checked.

According to the latest figures available on the Secretary of State’s Web site, DTS made up 16 percent of the electorate as of May 23, just behind the GOP, which has 18 percent. Democrats make up 63 percent of the registered voters in the county.

Of course, it’s not the DTS’s the Democrats have to worry about. It’s the DTVs (Declined to Vote). Unless the party can get these new voters to the polls, the big registration numbers will turn out to be one of those weird little factoids the pundits will scratch their heads over in November.

Remember when Bill Richardson used to be the only New Mexico politician to get national publicity? There were not one, but two reporters from New York publications in Santa Fe last week working on stories about the fact that two Udalls from neighboring states — Tom from New Mexico and cousin Mark from Colorado — are running for U.S. Senate.
Both Nicholas Johnston of and Carl Hulse of The New York Times attended the opening of the new Santa Fe County Democratic headquarters, an event Tom Udall also attended.

Johnston’s story, published Wednesday, talks about the Udalls in terms of a “new political dynasty” — to use a term the Udalls like to discourage.

“The younger Udalls, both U.S. congressmen, are among the Democrats’ best hopes of expanding their 51-49 Senate majority,” Johnston writes. “They are also examples of the party’s push to rebuild in Western states, which have favored Republicans in recent decades.”

Hulse’s piece concentrates on the fact — also touched upon in the Bloomberg story — that both of the Udalls’ opponents, including Republican Steve Pearce of New Mexico, are trying to use the Udalls’ history of environmentalism against them.

“With gas prices at levels where filling the family pickup truck can cost more than $100, their Republican opponents are trying to turn the Udall trademark into a black mark,” Hulse writes. “They contend that the Udalls’ resistance to new drilling and to wringing oil out of Rocky Mountain shale has contributed to the energy cost squeeze.”

He quotes Española Mayor Joe Maestas, a Democrat, saying that he fears “voters were becoming less concerned about the environment and more fixated on their fuel costs.”

Both stories mention the unofficial family-joke slogan the Udalls first used in 1998, when the cousins won their congressional seats: “Vote for the Udall Nearest You.”

More national stories: Ben Ray Luján, Democratic candidate for Tom Udall’s congressional seat, also got some national ink — or bytes, or whatever the appropriate metaphor is for Internet publications. Politico, a Washington-based online publication for political junkies, on Wednesday featured a column by Gebe Martinez saying that Luján could be helpful to Barack Obama in the state.

“So strong is the Luján name in New Mexico — the congressional candidate is the son of New Mexico House Speaker Ben Luján — that Obama should benefit from the candidate’s campaign organization and his father’s political machine,” Martinez writes.

“His father backed (Hillary) Clinton in the primary,” Martinez notes. The elder Luján said the lingering divide between the Obama and Clinton camps makes his son’s congressional campaign organization “crucial” for the Obama campaign.

She quotes Speaker Luján saying, “Ben Ray will bring to the voting booths a lot of Hispanics who supported Hillary. “He can say, ‘Why don’t you get to the polls for me and also vote for Obama in order for me to be effective for you.’ ”

And speaking of Hispanic voters, National Public Radio’s Morning Edition on Tuesday ran a feature about how New Mexico Hispanics feel about the issue of the Iraq war. The story by reporter Jennifer Ludden features interviews with Antonio Gandara Martinez, a University of New Mexico student who supports Obama, and Dan Garza, leader of New Mexico’s Republican National Hispanic Assembly, who backs GOP candidate John McCain.

The story also quotes UNM political science professor Christine Sierra, who says she understands why a majority of Latinos have turned against the war.

“When you add class, rural areas, race and ethnicity to who serves in the wars, folks from certain groups are paying disproportionately in terms of their lives or sacrifices,” Sierra says.


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