Sunday, April 29, 2012


Sunday, April 29, 2012 
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M. 
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time 
Host: Steve Terrell
101.1 FM
email me during the show! terrell(at)

 OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Catch Me Daddy by Big Brother & The Holding Company
My Groupie by Thee Martian Boyfriends
Side Door Man by The Grannies
Little Black Drops by El Pathos
Cool Right Down by The Molting Vultures
Pump it Up by Mudhoney
Rattlesnakes Don't Commit Suicide by Help Me Devil
Cold Night Blues by Dead Man's Tree
Meek My Joe by Die Zorros

Move It! by The 99ers
Move It by T. Tex Edwards
Burnin' Love by The Hickoids
Nuclear War on the Dance Floor by The Electric Six
Timothy by The Nervebreakers
Losers, Boozers and Heros by fIREHOSE
Seven Are the Horns of Satan by The Happy Kids
From My Heart by Fenton Robinson
Dirty Britches by The Leap Frogs

How You Sell Soul To A Souless People Who Sold Their Soul? by Public Enemy
Lyin' Ass Bitch by Fishbone
Get It Together by JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound
Mojo Hanna by Andre Williams
I Got the Feeling by Sharon Jones
Cry Me a River Blues by Little Esther Phillips & The Johnny Otis Show
Booty City by Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears
Ain't No Sunshine by Freddie King

Big Shot by Dr. John
500 Pound Bad Ass by Chief Fuzzer
The Dream by Thee Oh Sees
I Just Missed You by Mary Weiss
Candy by Johnny Dowd
What I Know by Grinderman

Public Enemy in Santa Fe

Public Enemy in Santa Fe

They brought the noise. They also brought the rain.

Public Enemy, the group that basically defined hip hop in the late '80s and early '90s returned to Santa Fe yesterday for a private show for students (and some lucky non-students like myself) at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design. It was part of the school's "Artists for Positive Social Change" program.

Performing mostly songs from their classic 1990 Fear of a Black Planet album -- including "Brothers Gonna Work It Out," "911 is a Joke," "Welcome to The Terrordome," "Fight the Power" and more.
Flava Flav

PE's political/socially conscious style of intelligent rap was eclipsed commercially in the early '90s by increasingly mindless gangsta rap, but the young crowd at the college ate this stuff up. I can't see how anyone could argue that this music -- and the lyrics -- are any less relevant today than they were 22 years ago.

And to those of My Generation -- or any damned generation -- that says rap "isn't really music" or similarly idiotic claims, you really ought to check out PE's stage show. Chuck D and Flava Flav are backed by an ace funkified band led by guitarist Khari Wynn. Hell, even Flava Flav grabbed a bass and played it on "Terrordome."

Brian Hardgrove
Mr. Hardgroove
Speaking of bass, longtime PR bassist Brian Hardgroove -- who was instrumental in bringing the group to Santa Fe yesterday, as well as the previous two times they were here -- no longer is with the group. He's on hiatus, he told me. Still, he joined the band on stage Saturday night on "Arizona (Ball of Confusion)" and other tunes.

Earlier in the day, Chuck D and Hardgroove participated in a symposium at the college about hip-hop's impact on society and culture.

Just one little problem with the show:

It rained.

Not a great downpour, but enough to make it unsafe to be playing electric instruments on the stage. So, after about 45 minutes of performing, they left the stage for awhile -- despite the vocal protests of Flava. At first I didn't think they would come back. But after 15 or 20 minutes, they happily proved me wrong.

ICC opening for PE
Hey, a shoutout to some locals: I'll admit I wasn't enthusiastic at first about the opening band, a group of University students who call themselves ICC (Inner City Connection.) But about 20 seconds after they took the stage I realized they're fantastic, full of enthusiasm that matches their talent.

I should have known. ICC was organized and rehearsed by Hardgroove. (Santa Fe musician, USFAD instructor and fellow KSFR DJ Peter Williams also told me that they're students of his. )

And if you don't believe me, here's what Chuck D said about them on Twitter right after the show: "ICC from SantaFe a really really good multiracial gendered Band group of MCs singers players tonight did their thing. Proud of them .. doPE!"
Chuck D
Mr. Chuck

Here's a video of PE from Saturday's show.

Public Enemy "Show 'Em Whatcha Got"/"Bring the Noise" in Santa Fe from brad hayes on Vimeo.

Friday, April 27, 2012


Friday, April 27, 2012 
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM 
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time 
Host: Steve Terrell 
101.1 FM
email me during the show! terrel(at)
 OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
Bring the Noise by Unholy Trio
Outlaw Convention by Hank 3
Thirteen Women by T. Tex Edwards
Hot Dog! That Made Him Mad by Wanda Jackson
In the Summertime by O'Brien Party of 7
Sick Rick by The Misery Jackals
Trucks, Tractors and Trains by The Dirt Daubers
Hoboes Are My Heroes by Th' Legendary Shack Shakers
Gee Baby by Great Recession Orchestra with Maryanne Price

Lead Me on by Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn
Big Time Annie's Square by Merle Haggard
Sing Me Back Home by Chesterfield Kings
Ain't No Diesel Trucks In Heaven by Bob Wayne
Got My Mojo Working by The Asylum Street Spankers
Life's Lonesome Road by Wayne Hancock
Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad by Cathy Faber
Ramblin' Man by Soda
Beatin' on the Bars by The Travelin' Texans
Farmer Had Him Rats by Black Jake & The Carnies

A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall by The Waco Brothers with Paul Burch
Wreck on the Highway by The Waco Brothers
Tennessee Jed by Levon Helm
Cheatin' Games by Little Lisa Dixie
Running on Pure Fear by Martin Zellar & The Hardways with Kelly Willis
Vacant Lot by Deano Waco & The Meat Purveyors
Rockin' and Knockin' by Gayle Griffith

My Rifle, Pony and Me by Dean Martin & Ricky Nelson
Righteous, Ragged Songs by Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires
Blunderbuss by Jack White
Burnt Toast Mornin' by Jason Eklund
Plane Of Existence by Giant Giant Sand
Four Years by Tom Armstrong
Same God by The Calamity Cubes
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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

Thursday, April 26, 2012

TERRELL'S TUNEUP: Firing Up The Wacos

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
April 27, 2012

It’s been seven years since The Waco Brothers released an album of new material — seven long years since Freedom and Weep.

I’m not sure what caused this delay. There have been some personnel changes — miss your steel guitar, Mark Durante — but the group never broke up. It’s not that the band’s songwriting has dried up.

Waco Bros
Langford up front, Burch in back
Frontman Jon Langford has done some solo albums and contributed to albums by his other band, The Mekons. And singer/guitarist Dean “Deano Waco” Schlabowske released an under-recognized but tasty — and free — little album with The Meat Purveyors a few years ago (Deano Meats the Purveyors).

But it took another singer, the Wacos’ Bloodshot Records (sometimes) labelmate Paul Burch, to spark a new Wacos album.

According to the press release, the idea came while sharing pitchers of Guero’s margaritas in Austin during a past South by Southwest festival. Guero’s is just down the street from the Yard Dog Gallery, where, for more than a decade, the Chicago-based Wacos have become renowned for crazed, boozed-up, fiery performances during the annual Bloodshot party. (I was there for that show in March, and I’ll testify that the Brothers, aided by Burch and Commander Cody guitarist Bill Kirchen, were in rare form. They made “Folsom Prison Blues” sound like Godzilla crushing Tokyo.)

To fans of Burch and/or the Wacos, such a team-up might not seem like a natural pairing, no matter how many margaritas were involved. Burch, a Nashville songster, has a voice that’s similar to that of Jimmie Dale Gilmore. His records are far gentler and more melodic than the trademark insurgent country chaos of the brothers Waco. But the main result of the collaboration, a new album called Great Chicago Fire, is a joy that fans of either act should appreciate.

It’s appropriate somehow that a band named after one tragedy would name its latest album after another. “Is there nothing we have learned?/Burn, baby, burn!” goes the refrain in the title song, co-written and co-sung by Burch and Langford. It’s a fun tune, but the album only gets better the deeper you sink into it.

 All the singers have great moments here. Burch takes advantage of the Wacos as his raucous backup band in his song “Wrong Side of Love,” a catchy country rocker. And “Transfusion Blues” is a jumpy rockabilly-tinged workout. But he also has some downright pretty tunes here, his best being “Flight to Spain,” a slow, minor-key song that reminds me of Hundred Year Flood’s “Blue Angel.”

Langford’s “Cannonball” is an upbeat swampy tune with tasty tremolo guitar. The best song he wrote for the album is the introspective “Someone That You Know,” but he lets Burch sing it. That turned out to be a good decision. Burch nails it dead.

The foul-mouthed, outrageous, and completely charming Langford is what first attracted me to the Waco Brothers in the ’90s, but through the years I’ve come to look forward to Schlabowske’s contributions as well. With his hoarse Midwestern baritone, Deano sings songs that cut deep. My favorite here is “On the Sly,” a song I hope the Wacos keep in their repertoire for years.

Though the album is full of wonderful new original tunes, it ends with a shoot-’em-up saloon-band cover of Bob Dylan’s apocalyptic “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” The arrangement sounds amazingly similar to Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue version (found on the Live 1975 Bootleg Series set). Despite the fearsome lyrics, it’s nothing short of a stomping joy.

My biggest hope is that Great Chicago Fire sparks more new material from the Waco Brothers.

Also noted: 
*  Bootleg Vol. IV: The Soul of Truth by Johnny Cash. I’ve always associated Johnny Cash with gospel music. The very first Cash album I ever had back in the early ’60s (Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash) contained two great gospel tunes. One was Thomas Dorsey’s “Peace in the Valley,” and Cash did a fine version.

But, most important, there was a song called “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord.” I was just a grade-school kid and not particularly religious, but this song scared the crap out of me. It still kind of does. Mournful and intense, Cash puts you right at the scene. And, as the lyrics go, sometimes it causes me to “tremble, tremble, tremble.”

Unfortunately, there’s nothing nearly as powerful on this new collection of gospel tunes by Cash. There are a few jewels in the two-disc, 51-song compilation. But too many tracks suffer from slick, syrupy production, sweetening strings, and cheesy horns. The sad truth is that basically this was par for the course for Cash recordings in the mid ’70s through the early ’80s, that bleak era from which the material for The Soul of Truth was drawn.

The collection includes material from various Cash albums released only on gospel labels. There are also a dozen tunes from an unreleased gospel album recorded in 1975.

Among the worthwhile songs are “Would You Recognize Jesus,” a decent if not essential cover of Billy Joe Shaver’s “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal” (complete with a Dixieland horn section), “Don’t Take Everybody to Be Your Friend,” a folksy “Wildwood in the Pines,” a nice understated take on Bill Monroe’s “You’re Drifting Away,” and a rousing “Children Go Where I Send Thee.”

“This Train Is Bound for Glory” has a lengthy spoken introduction as well as Cash’s classic chunka-chunka beat. And even though its marred by an unnecessary string section, “Look Unto the East” is one of those weird mystical Cash gospel tunes, the kind that Rick Rubin so loved when producing the Man in Black’s final few albums.

But way too many of the other tracks sound like they were aimed at a middlebrow, middle-of-the road audience. Personally, the kind of gospel that soothes my soul doesn’t always sound soothing on the surface.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mojo in the Court: (A Tuneup Correction)

I got an email this morning from Dick Rosemont, who runs Guy in the Groove Records on Guadalupe Street. He challenged something I wrote in last week's Tuneup column in my favorite voodoo songs list.

Said Dick, "... despite the prevailing word on the street, Ann Cole did not record "Got My Mojo Working" before Muddy Waters. She was performing it first (having gotten the song from writer Preston Foster) but Muddy's was cut earlier (12-56) than Cole's 1957 take on it."

Uh oh. Dick's a vinyl fanatic and he knows his stuff. And it looks like he's right here. According to several Muddy Waters discographies all over the web, "Mojo" was recorded on Dec. 1, 1956 -- at the same session that produced "Rock Me," "I Live the Life I Love," and "Look What You've Done."

I knew I'd have to look back to see how I'd come to my conclusion about Cole.

My original source on it  wasn't "the street," but a guy named Bob Dylan. Shortly before writing my column, I'd been listening to an old episode of Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour that had popped up on my iTunes shuffle DJ -- episode 8, about Weddings. On it was a song called "Don't Stop the Wedding" by Cole, an "answer song" to Etta James' "Stop the Wedding."

"That was Ann Cole," the voice of a generation said after playing Cole's song. "In 1956 she recorded a song for the Baton record label that Muddy Waters later took and made into his signature song -- She recorded the original version of  "Got My Mojo Working"

I Googled around and found the Wikipedia entry on the song (voice of Ernest P. Worrell: "Now there's your problem, Vern ..."), which verified what Dylan had said: " ... a 1956 song written by Preston Foster and first recorded by Ann Cole, but popularized by Muddy Waters in 1957."

Checking one of two external links that still work on the Wikipedia page, I came across a federal lawsuit that mentions "Mojo," Anna Cole and Muddy.  In this suit, a woman named Ruth Stratchborneo was suing songwriter Preston "Red" Foster, who wrote "Got My Mojo Working" as well as Muddy Waters and Dare Records owner Saul Rabinowitz, who introduced the song to Anne Cole.

In the suit Stratchborneo claimed that anyone who had anything to do with "Got My Mojo Working" had stolen it from her song "Mojo Workout," which was released in 1960.  (It's not the same song that decades later would inspire a punk rock talk show and podcast on Real Punk Radio.)

Stratchborneo lost the suit. But in his decision, federal Judge Charles Brieant wrote about about the history of the Cole/Waters song:

(Dare Records owner Saul) Rabinowitz first met defendant Preston Foster, also known as Red Foster, in 1957, at which time Foster visited him, offered for sale and played a number of songs. He sang a song, "I'VE GOT MY MOJO WORKING", accompanying himself by guitar, and played a demonstration record which he had previously recorded (Ex. F)
Foster, on October 29, 1956, had filed a claim to copyright for that song as author. On January 9, 1957, Dare entered into a mimeographed form publisher's contract with Preston Foster, by which it acquired "I've Got My Mo-Jo Working".  ...
A month or two later in 1957, Rabinowitz played Foster's demonstration record for singer Ann Cole. Ann Cole learned the song and recorded her artistic arrangement or version of it for Baton Records, under license from Dare. This record is entitled "Got My Mo-Jo Working (But It Just Won't Work On You)", and lists Foster as the author. The Ann Cole record was released, at least prior to April 20, 1957, because "Cashbox", a trade publication, on that date, refers to the Ann Cole rendition as the "Cashbox R&B Sleeper of the Week".

At about the same time, a record "Got My Mojo Working", sung by Muddy Waters, was issued by Chess Records. This also was referred to as a "sleeper of the week" in the same April 20, 1957 edition of Cashbox. Rabinowitz learned of the Muddy Waters rendition within two or so days after samples of the Ann Cole record had been released to distributors.

Rabinowitz testified that Miss Cole had just returned from a road tour with Muddy Waters' band. He concluded that she had been singing the song while on tour, and that Muddy Waters had liked it and recorded it, claiming authorship for himself. The Muddy Waters record bears a copyright credit for defendant Arc, and shows defendant McKinley Morganfield, the true name of Muddy Waters, as the author of the work, and "Muddy Waters" as the singer.

So according to Judge Brieant, the songs appeared virtually simultaneously. I guess that's what you call mojo!

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Sunday, April 22, 2012 
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M. 
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time 
Host: Steve Terrell
101.1 FM
email me during the show! terrell(at)

 OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Walker on the Wild Side by The Grannies
Metanoia by Churchwood
Dance With You by The Black Lips
Fire Engine by The Molting Vultures
Still Cries Before Dawn by The Out Key Hole
Hot Rod Vampires by Demented Are Go
Baby Goodbye by Die Zorros
Wounded Knee by The Milkshakes
Sasquatch Love by Horror Deluxe

Crazy Date by T. Tex Edwards
Copa, Raya, Paliza by Wau y Los Arrrghs!!
Little Pig by 68 Comeback
Goodnight Sleep Tight by The Bloody Hollies
No Blood of Mine by El Pathos
Girls Today Don't Like to Sleep Alone by Help Me Devil
Too Many Cooks by Jesse Fortune
Soul Typecast by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Crazy Pritty Baby by Heavy Trash

My Horse Likes You by Bonapart
Buick MacKane by Ty Segall
Big Shoe Head by Buick MacKane
Revolution (Part 2) by fIREHOSE
Ten O'Clock by The Malarians
Birdman of Alkatrash by Strawberry Alarm Clock
Cigarette byThe Shirley MacLaines
Murderin' Blues by Robert Nighthawks

Waddlin' Around by The King Khan & BBQ Show
Candy Man Blues by The Copper Gamins
Two Girls (One Bar) by Pere Ubu
Sherry by Johnny Dowd
See/Saw by Jay Reatard
Move Over by Janis Joplin
Wonderful Girl by Jack Mack & The Heart Attack
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

eMusic April

Here's my latest batch of downloads from eMusic:
* Crazy Glue and Fishbone by Fishbone. The recent DVD release of Everyday Sunshine, an excellent documentary about this innovative Los Angeles rock 'n' soul band, inspired me to download the group's latest release (Crazy Glue) and their first EP from 1985.  I already had almost everything in between.

I was a casual Fishbone fan in the early 1990s, but I took a turn to the fanatical in the summer of 1993 when I saw them play Lollapalooza in Denver. This was during the height of the Grunge Scare and while I enjoyed the music of Primus, Dinosaur Jr. and Alice in Chains, I remember thinking even then how all of the long-haired flannel boys could learn some serious lessons from Fishbone. The group didn't just sound great. They had something that was seriously lacking in most of the "alternative" rock of the day -- showmanship! I forget exactly how many people were in the band at that time, but there seemed to be about a dozen onstage in Denver that day, most of them running around chaotically, trading off vocals, changing time signatures unexpectedly, one song seamlessly flowing into the next one, frontman Angelo Moore going out into the audience. Truly a breath of fresh air compared with so many self-absorbed acts of the day.

 The Fishbone EP was full of the wild spirit that propelled the band from its early days. Among the seven songs was "Party at Ground Zero," their first "hit" -- or at least the first song that got them national notoriety. It's also got a tune that won them some recent notoriety. Remember a few months ago when The Roots caused an outrage in conservative circles by its choice of song to bring out Michele Bachmann as a guest on the Jimmy Fallon show? That was none other than "Lyin' Ass Bitch" from this Fishbone record. (Of course, probably nobody but the most rabid Fishbone devotees would have realized it -- certainly not Bachmann or Matt Drudge -- had Roots drummer Questlove not tweeted about it beforehand.)

Crazy Glue, also a 7-song EP certainly isn't the greatest Fishbone effort. None of the songs are anywhere as memorable as "Party at Ground Zero" or "Everyday Sunshine" or "Bonin' at the Boneyard" or even "Lyin' Ass Bitch." But a quarter-century after their debut, it's still full of the crazy Sly Stone/Funkadelic/crazed ska/metal madness energy. And after all these years, nobody is quite like Fishbone.

* Exile on Main Street Blues by various artists. First of all, this compilation has absolutely nothing to do with the classic Rolling Stones album -- except perhaps for the fact that Exile on Main Street has a deep spiritual debt to the kind of old blues songs found here and that I bet the Stones as individuals would personally dig most, perhaps all, the songs here.

I know I do.

This 51-track collection features mostly songs about economic hard times and poverty. The lyrics are populated by chain gangs, hobos and people, like singer Bob Campbell who are tired of working on the "Starvation Farm."

Exile includes blues artists spanning several decades. There's old country blues by the likes of  Sleepy John Estes, Barbecue Bob, Hambone Willie Newbern and Yank Rachell as well as more urban and more contemporary blues greats like Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson,  Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and Big Mama Thorton.

Among the highlights are "Miss Meal Cramp Blues" by Alec Johnson, which sounds like an old timey string band. ("I'm so broke and hungry, I could eat a kangaroo," he sings); Memphis Minnie's "Sylvester  and His Mule Blues"; Peetie Wheatstraw's "Jungle Man Blues" (he's singing about a hobo jungle, not a tropical rain forest); and "Strike Blues," a lesser-known John Lee Hooker recording.

* Wake Up Sinners
by The Dirt Daubers. What we have here basically is an acoustic alter ego of the Legendary Shack Shakers.

Featuring Shack Shaker singer J.D. Wilkes, his wife Jessica -- who share vocal duties and play several, mostly stringed instruments -- and Shack Shaker Mark Robertson on upright bass, the DDs play a wild banjo-driven blend of bluegrass, jug band and old-time hot jazz.

There are Wilkes originals as well as several fresh takes on traditional tunes like "Wayfaring Stranger and "Single Girl."

Comparisons with The Asylum Street Spankers and even The Squirrel Nut Zippers (especially the title song and "The Devil Gets His Due") -- not to mention them Shack Shakers -- are unavoidable. But the Daubers would hold their own against any of 'em. This is just fine American music distilled in Kentucky.

Not long after I downloaded this I learned that the Dirt Daubers as well as the Legendary Shack Shakers are playing in Santa Fe June 7 as a Thirsty Ear Festival kick-off party. Details here.

* Carrion Crawler/The Dream by Thee Oh Sees . If you caught my rantings about this year's South by Southwest, you know that one of my favorite "discoveries" was this San Franciso band, who I saw on the same bill as The Gories, Kid Congo Powers & The Pink Monkeybirds and The Spits.

The group is the brainchild of John Dwyer, a singer and guitarist who is a veteran of several bands. Thee Oh Sees includes another guitarist, a female vocalist and keyboard player (the lovely Brigid Dawson) and two drummers and a bassist. They're a prolific crew. This was their second album released in 2011.

Dwyer reportedly started this group as a vehicle to "to release his instrumental, experimental home recordings." (That's in Wikipedia, so it must be true.) Although there's still a lot of lo-fi experimental noise here and sprawling instrumental jams, Carrion Crawler/The Dream is the work of a full-fledged band.

I think my favorite here is the hard-charging half-title song "The Dream." At nearly seven minutes, it's the longest track here. But it never gets boring. Also impressive is "Contraption/Soul Dessert" is another winner. To risk the scorn of the politically correct, it's got echoes of Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold" though it's pumped up with cackling cosmic energy.

Check out this live performance of Thee Oh Sees (thanks to The Free Music Archive).

Friday, April 20, 2012


Friday, April 20, 2012 
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM 
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time 
Host: Steve Terrell 
101.1 FM
email me during the show! terrel(at)
 OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
Back in the Saddle Again by Gene Autrey
Cravin' by T. Tex Edwards
Blue Moon of Kentucky by Rev. Beat-Man
New Deal of Love by Hank Thompson
Great Chicago Fire by The Waco Brothers and Paul Burch
Ain't No Stranger by Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires
Reprimand by Santa Fe All Stars
The Bar With No Name by Tom Armstrong

Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die by Willie Nelson with Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson and Jamey Johnson
Is Zat You, Myrtle? by The Carlisles
Brazil by The Asylum Street Spankers
Tell the King The Killer's Here by Ronny Elliott
It Took 4 Beatles To Make One Elvis by Harry Hayward
Baby Buggy Boogie by The Milo Twins
Another Bender Might Break Me by Hellbound Glory
The Times They Are a Changin' by Rick Brousard & Two Hoots & a Holler

Levon Helm Tribute
Rag Mama Rag by Levon Helm
Ain't Got No Home by The Band
Poor Old Dirt Farmer by Levon Helm
Stuff You Gotta Watch by The Band
Move Along Train by Levon Helm
Forbidden Fruit by The Band
Wide River to Cross by Levon Helm

The Golden Inn Song by The Last Mile Ramblers
Anything Goes At A Rooster Show by The Imperial Rooster
Children Go Where I Send Thee by Johnny Cash
Me and Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin
Whiskey Drinkin' Women by Cornell Hurd
Blue Angel by Hundred Year Flood
Drinkin' Wine Spoli Oli by The Five Strings
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

Subscribe to The Big Enchilada Podcast! CLICK HERE
Steve Terrell is proud to report to the monthly Freeform American Roots Radio list

Thursday, April 19, 2012

TERRELL'S TUNEUP: The Gris Gris Grabs Ya

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
April 20, 2012

Mac Rebennack, better known by his stage name Dr. John, is in his 70s. The New Orleans icon has been recording music for more than half a century, has more soul in one of his nose hairs than most of us have in our entire beings, and, honestly, if he wanted to rest on his laurels, he would be deserving.

For many years, that’s what he seemed to be doing, producting virtually funk-free albums full of standards and torch songs, tributes to Duke Ellington and Johnny Mercer, and collections of sentimental New Orleans classics.

But just when you think the Doc is in danger of turning into an old smoothie, he’ll make a sharp turn back to the crazy spirit that drove him to produce the hoodoo-soaked sounds that made him famous in the first place. There are lesser-known but worthy records like 1994’s Television and 2001’s Creole Moon (featuring a depiction of the voodoo graveyard loa Baron Samedi on the cover). A couple of years ago he released Tribal, a swampy R & B workout that reminded fans of Dr. John’s glory years.

And now he’s back with Locked Down, which for my money is the best album he’s done in decades. The music recalls his early work, but it has a sharp contemporary edge — for which we can thank producer Dan Auerbach, frontman of The Black Keys. But unlike some older artists produced by hip young bucks — for example, Wanda Jackson on some tracks on her recent Jack White-produced album — Dr. John doesn’t feel like a fish out of water here. The music is fresh, not forced.

Auerbach reportedly wanted to get Dr. John back into the thick, atmospheric, heady hoodoo excursions of his early albums — Remedies, Babylon, The Sun, Moon & Herbs, and especially his classic Gris-Gris. What’s so refreshing about this record is that it has most of those elements that made Dr. John, when he was known as “the Night Tripper,” so irresistible. But it doesn’t sound like a paint-by-number re-creation of the old sound.

The gris-gris grabs you from the first track, the title song, in which weird jungle noises give way to a throbbing bass and frenzied snare pounding out a beat punctuated by a slinky electric organ. The Doctor’s familiar Crescent City drawl sounds right at home amid the groove.

If the first song draws you in, the next one, “Revolution,” smacks you in the head. The influence of 1970s Ethiopian jazz is clear here with the baritone sax and spidery organ solo by  Rebennack himself. Like other tunes on Locked Down — “Ice Age” for instance — the lyrics are thick with politics. “Guerilla warfare, Lady Liberty/Propaganda, hypocrisy/Did we lose our Constitution?/Prepare, revolution.” “You Lie” also is full of political outrage. It’s an African-sounding tune as well, featuring Auerbach playing some intense, blues-infused guitar.

“Big Shot” begins with what sounds like a tape loop from some forgotten Dixieland record. But then the real song begins — a dark, slow-moving sax-driven blues in which Rebennack sounds threatening as he sings, “Ain’t never was, ain’t never gonna be another big shot like me.”

That mutated Ethiopian sound returns with a vengeance in “The Kingdom of Izzness”; I have no idea what this spooky song is about, but you probably ought to take Dr. John seriously when he starts out a tune with “Better move fast and better travel light/ Don’t let nothin’ pass when you’re in the night.”

Unlike those wonderful early albums, most of the voodoo on Locked Down is not overt but implied and textural. At least till we get to the song “Eleggua,” which bears the name of the trickster deity. With its jazzy flute and female chorus, it sounds almost like it was ripped from the soundtrack of some blaxploitation movie. I almost expect Rebennack to growl, “That Eleggua is one bad mother ... ”

Locked Down isn’t all black magic and rage though. The album ends with songs about family (“My Children, My Angels”) and faith (“God’s Sure Good”).

Fortunately neither one comes off anywhere near sappy. From start to finish, this is one inspired record.

Here's the doc with a recent TV appearance:

Pops Staples invokes Papa Legba

Steve Terrell’s Top 10 (non-Dr. John) Voodoo Songs
1. “Papa Legba” by Pops Staples with Talking Heads. This is from David Byrne’s movie True Stories. The Staples version is on the 2005 remastered version of Talking Heads’ True Stories album.
2. “Got My Mojo Working” by Ann Cole and the Suburbans. You’re probably familiar with the Muddy Waters version, but Cole recorded it first in 1956. (UPDATE: 4-25-12 Check this correction/clarification HERE)
3. “Voodoo Queen Marie” by the Du-Tells. With Peter Stampfel on lead vocals, this tune tells the story of Marie Laveau of New Orleans.
4. “Marie Laveau” by Bobby Bare. This song, written by Shel Silverstein, isn’t as historically accurate as the Du-Tells’ song. But it’s lots of fun.
5. “It’s Your Voodoo Working” by Charles Sheffield. Straight out of New Orleans in the early 1960s.
6. “Li’l Black Hen” by Coco Robicheaux. Fans of the HBO series Treme know what the late Robicheaux did with poultry.
7. “Hoodoo Party” by Rockin’ Tabby Thomas. Another Louisiana hoodoo hit.
8. “Ju Ju Hand” by Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs. They had their Tex-Mex/Memphis mojo working.
9. “Johnny Voodoo” by Empress of Fur. The signature song of a British psychobilly band fronted by a Bettie Page lookalike. What’s not to like?
10. “Hoochie Coochie Man” by Muddy Waters. The Gypsy woman was right.
(Most of these and several other songs can be heard on my Spotify playlist Voodoo Stew)

 Back from the shadows again: For the first time since early March, I’ll be returning to KSFR-FM 101.1 to do my radio shows this weekend.

At 10 p.m. Friday it’s The Santa Fe Opry (country music as the good Lord intended it to sound), and same time Sunday it’s Terrell’s Sound World (free-form weirdo radio). Both also stream at

And yes, I'll be paying tribute to the late, great Levon Helm on the SF Opry Friday.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

TERRELL'S TUNEUP: The Sacred Grifter

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
April 13, 2012

I was going to start off this review of Ray Wylie Hubbard’s new album, The Grifter’s Hymnal, by saying that it’s the first great album of the year. But then I reread my review of his previous album, 2010’s A. Enlightenment, B. Endarkenment (Hint: There Is No C), in which I wrote, “This might be the first great record of the decade.”

So I guess I won't.

Ray Wylie Hubbard & Son
RWH and son Lucas at The White Horse last month
But that’s my typical reaction to Hubbard albums in recent years. His folksy, blues-soaked redneck rock ’n’ roll breaks little new musical ground, yet it’s refreshing. With his Okie drawl, Hubbard has a way of sounding wise even when he’s cracking wise. He seems highly spiritual even when he’s singing about shady nightclub characters and strippers. He sings proudly of being an upright, sober family man, yet he offers sharp insight into the carnal side of life.

I’ve probably said this before, too, but Hubbard is one of the very few musicians of his generation who has actually gotten better with age. He’s now 65 or thereabouts, and I can’t wait to hear what he sounds like when he’s 70. Truthfully, this album, plus A. Enlightenment, Snake Farm (2006), and Growl (2003) make up a body of work that, for my money, is unrivaled by any other singer/songwriter I can think of.

Chew on this: Hubbard’s albums of the last 10 years are even more consistently brilliant than Tom Waits’ output since the turn of the century.

(I’m conveniently overlooking one Hubbard album during this period that doesn’t rise to the level of his others, 2005’s Delirium Tremolos. Most of the songs on that one are covers. Despite a decent version of James McMurtry’s classic “Choctaw Bingo,” Delirium is a more mellow affair, lacking the rattlesnake blues edge of Hubbard’s other recent records.)

The Grifter’s Hymnal begins with a voodoo invocation. “Said my prayers to the old black gods./Tied some string around some chicken bones./Set ’em on fire and I cross my heart,” he sings over a stomping beat on “Coricidin Bottle.” What’s this got to do with a decongestant? Hubbard uses a Coricidin bottle as a guitar slide, a tradition that some say started with Duane Allman. Mysteriously, there’s no slide guitar on this song. But who needs it with the stinging electric guitar provided by Hubbard’s teenage son, Lucas?

Courtesy of picker Billy Cassis, there’s slide aplenty on “Lazarus,” a meditation on mortality. “Between the Devil and God/Between the first breath and last/Somewhere under Heaven with no future and a hell of a past/We’re in the mud and scum of things, moanin’, cryin’ and lyin’/At least we ain’t like Lazarus and have to think twice about dyin’.”

And Hubbard himself shows his stuff on a National Resonator guitar on “Coochy Coochy,” a song written by (and featuring some call-and-response vocals from) Ringo Starr. When I saw Hubbard play in Austin last month, he talked about how amazed he was — and still is — by the fact that he has a “fuckin' Beatle” on his album.

Like invocations to his personal pantheon of saints, Hubbard name-checks many musical heroes in his songs — venerated blues growlers like Lightnin’ Hopkins and Otis Rush as well as classic rockers like the James Gang and Neil Young and Crazy Horse. In a song called “Count My Blessings,” he tells the story of the 1964 shooting death of Sam Cooke as if it were a biblical parable.

Hubbard is not known as a political activist, but you get a peek at his leanings in some scattered spots on the album. “New Year’s Eve at the Gates of Hell” contains a reference to “Fox News whores” burning in Hades and praises Martin Luther King Jr. More pointedly, “Red Badge of Courage” is a real live antiwar song, as seen through the eyes of a young Marine in Iraq. “We’re just kids doing the dirty work for the failures of old men,” he sings.

Ray Wylie Hubbard
RWH at Threadill's last month
The near-six-minute “Mother Blues,” presented as an autobiographical shaggy-dog tale, is a Hubbard tour de force. Starting off with a swampy guitar lick and a shuffling drumbeat, Hubbard says, “When I was a young man, about 21 years old, y’all, all I wanted was a stripper girlfriend and a gold-top Les Paul. Be careful of the things you wish for. You just might get ’em.”

He proceeds to sing the story of a Dallas nightclub where Lightnin’ Hopkins and Freddie King used to play that was frequented by gamblers, dealers, “young white hipsters,” and, for the after-hours parties, dancers from a nearby gentleman’s club. Hubbard meets the stripper of his dreams there. He tries to play it cool at first — he plays guitar, initially ignoring her request for “Polk Salad Annie,” until she describes how that song makes her want to rip off her clothes and dance around in her underwear.

“Down in Louisiana, where the alligators grow so mean ...” the singer responds. And a star-crossed love affair is born.

In the last verse of “Mother Blues,” Hubbard talks about how lucky he is to play music with his son and the other members of his band, even though he never “busted through the gates” and became a “big-time rock ’n’ roll star.” He concludes with some wisdom that ought to be taken as advice: “The days that I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, I have really good days.”

Grifter’s Hymnal ends with what sounds like an actual hymn. “Ask God,” featuring some devilish Coricidin slide and sounding like some long lost Blind Willie Johnson song, is built around some simple spiritual advice: “When darkness swoops down on you, ask God for some light. ... When some devil knocks you down, ask God to pick you up. ... When death comes a knocking, ask God to open the door.”

In short, The Grifter’s Hymnal points to heaven but rocks like hell.

Check out the video below. You won't see me, but  I was in the back of the room at Threadgill's World Headquarters when it was shot last month.

Friday, April 06, 2012

TERRELL'S TUNEUP: Here's to the Ladies

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
April 6, 2012

Before you even listen to No Regrets, the new album from Johnny Dowd, the first thing you’ll probably notice is that every song is named for a woman.

There’s “Betty,” “Billie,” “Sherry,” “Miranda,” “Susan,” “Nancy,” “Ella,” “Abigail,” “Linda,” and “Candy.” Emily and Meryl have to share a song. And while Rita gets a song of her own, she also shares a title with Juanita. (They’re sisters, it turns out.)
Here;s to the Lad
This is something of a concept album for Dowd, with each track telling a story about a woman. “The album is about girls and women I have known, imagined, or seen on TV,” Dowd explains in a press release for the record. “I love them all.”

Dowd also says the working title for the album was “Regrets, I Have a Few.” However, “by the time I finished it, I realized I had no regrets,” he writes. The record shows he took his blows and did it his way. Like Dowd’s best work, the stories he tells here are dark, funny, sometimes tragic, and mostly twisted.

For those who are unfamiliar with the strange pleasures of Dowd, the artist was raised in Texas, Tennessee, and Oklahoma. In recent decades he has lived in Ithaca, New York, where he is part owner of a moving company. I have always liked that Dowd and his band are true working-class heroes. He has his moving business, and singer Kim Sherwood-Caso works by day as a hairdresser. But while his feet are planted in the working world, his head is free to float into strange dimensions.

Dowd is a late bloomer as far as music goes. He didn’t start recording until he was almost 50. In 1997 he released his debut album, Wrong Side of Memphis, which was packed with murder ballads, stories of obsessive love, and the confessions of characters whose lives had long slipped out of their control.

Such themes have fueled the bulk of Dowd’s work ever since. You wouldn’t want a Dowd album without that. But one thing that has evolved is the musical backdrop behind his strange tales.

Early in his musical career, Dowd was labeled “alternative country.” He didn’t sound much like Uncle Tupelo or Whiskeytown, but he had this great Okie drawl. Plus, many of the tracks on Memphis were acoustic-based tunes with country, blues, and folk overtones, while his second album, Pictures From Life’s Other Side, had a couple of wild, mutated Hank Williams tunes. But early on, the country seemed to fade from the Dowd sound, and now there’s not much left except the drawl.

In fact, the dominant sound on No Regrets seems to be a primitive type of electronica, supplied by longtime Dowd drummer Willie B and keyboardist/bassist Michael Stark. I’ll admit, guitar-centric rustic that I am, this was a little off-putting to me the first time I heard it. But after subsequent listens, the electronic throbs and drum-machine crunching seemed to fit the songs.

And Dowd’s personality is at the center of all the music, as it should be. He still speaks most of the lyrics, rather than singing them. And there’s enough obnoxious guitar by Dowd and others to keep things interesting.

Another musical departure here is that Sherwood-Caso is no longer the sole female voice on the album. She sings on only two tracks on No Regrets. Four other singers provide the female counterpart to Dowd on various other tracks. I suppose having a variety of women singers goes along with having each song be about a different woman.

No Regrets starts off with “Betty,” a simulated telephone call in which Dowd calls an old high school sweetheart. “Hello! Is this Betty? Hi Betty, guess who this is? No ... no ... It’s Johnny. Johnny Dowd.” She’s not quite sure who he is, but he has apparently been thinking of her a lot in recent years — and not in a healthy manner.

Supposedly all the narrator wants is to get his high school letter jacket back from her. But in the course of the conversation, he lets it drop that he knows where she lives and where her children go to school. (This isn’t the first time Dowd has taken on the persona of a stalker. “Hope You Don’t Mind” from Pictures From Life’s Other Side has a similar narrator.)

Another tale to astonish is “Linda,” set to a foreboding minor-key backdrop. It’s the story of a couple — “when they were together, it was fire and gasoline.” They have two children, but the second one dies a week after he’s born. From there, it’s a descent into hell.

“She dressed in black/felt a life of fantasy/She dressed two kids each morning/Only one that she could see.” The unnamed husband is “talking murder” and dreaming of suicide, while the poor daughter is doing her best to cope with the domestic tinderbox her family situation has become. The songs ends before any atrocity occurs, but a listener is pretty sure that something terrible is in store.

Not all the songs on No Regrets are dark and creepy. Some are actually upbeat. Dowd gets funky on a couple of tunes. Both “Susan” (the story of a stripper in Atlanta) and “Ella” feature funk-filled guitars and keyboards, reminding me of Midnite Vultures — the last Beck album I actually liked much. (As far as critics go, I was in the minority in my love for that underappreciated album.) Come to think of it, Kier Neuringer’s sax solo at the end of “Juanita/Rita” has a little Midnite Vultures in it too.

The prettiest song here is “Sherry.” It’s a ’50s- or ’60s-style slow dance with a cheesy organ that sounds as if it was stolen from a roller rink. You can almost imagine this being played at a high school prom — right before some poor girl gets buckets of pig blood dropped on her. “You say I’m a rat,” Dowd sings in his broken croon. “But you’re OK with that.”

My only regret with No Regrets is that Dowd didn’t include a Bizarro World cover of “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before.” Maybe Julio Iglesias was busy when Dowd was recording the album.

Here's a video of one of my favorite songs here:

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Heal Yourself with the Latest Big Enchilada Podcast


I'm recovering from hip replacement surgery, so here's some new hip sounds, as well as some old ones, in an episode I'm calling "Music to Heal By." This music will soothe and bring joyful, positive, healing energy. Trust me. You'll be wanting to shake your hips in no time. Let the healing begin.


Here's the playlist:

(Background Music: Hills of Pills by Kid Congo & The Pink Monkeybirds)
Pills by The New York Dolls
Heavy Doctor by Thee Oh Sees
Shake Your Hips by Slim Harpo
Pray For Pills by The Dirtbombs
Hospitals by Acid Baby Jesus
Hips by L.C. Ulmer

(Background Music: Surgery Montage by John Zorn)
Deserted Town by The Movements
Knock You Out by Thee Butchers Orchestra
Adeline by The Nevermores
I Got a Girl by The Vicious Cycles
I Don't Mind by The Angry Dead Pirates
Linda by Johnny Dowd

(Background Music: Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard by NRBQ)

Saustex Set

Move It by T. Tex Edwards & The Saddle Tramps
Straight into The Sun by El Pathos
Metanoia by Churchwood
Body in Plastic by Glambilly
Derby Crush by The Gay Sportscasters
Candyman Blues by The Copper Gamins

 Play it here:


Sunday, June 9, 2024 KSFR, Santa Fe, NM, 101.1 FM  Webcasting! 10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time Host: Steve Terrell Email...