Thursday, April 30, 2015

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Come Running Down The Stairs

I've got nothing against Simon & Garfunkel. I like a lot of their tunes.

But it's inconceivable to me how they managed to take a perfectly rough and tumble folk song that ends with a line saying, "If ever I return, all your cities I will burn ..." and make it sound wimpy.

But that's what they did with "Peggy O," which appeared on Paul & Artie's first album, Wednesday Morning 3 A.M.

I'm not even going to post the video of this useless version. In fact, I probably shouldn't have even mentioned it. The only reason I do is because it just so happens that Simon & Garfunkel's was the first "Peggy O" I ever heard.

I never liked that track, but I have to admit, that line with the arson threat always did intrigue me. Basically it's the story of a soldier, "our captain," who falls for "a lady like a dove" and promises to take her "in a carriage" to " places far and strange."

But something goes wrong. Apparently Peggy rejects him and his troops are threatening to burn all the cities and destroy "all the ladies in the ar-e-o."

Breaking up is hard to do.

"Peggy O" is the American descendant of an old Scottish song, going back at least to the late 18th Century, called "The Bonnie Lass O' Fyvie." Fyvie is a small town with a castle in the Aberdeenshire region of Scotland,

Some versions of the song appear under the titles of "Bonnie Barbara-O," "Pretty Peggy of Derby," and "Peggy Sue." O.K., just kidding about that last one,

The first known recording of the song was by an Aberdeenshire farmer named John Strachan.  Alan Lomax got him on tape in 1951. A few years later, Tommy Makem & The Clancy Brothers recorded it and called the song "The Maid of Fife-E-O."

Other folkies on both sides of the Atlantic began playing it. I like this one recorded by The Dubiners in the early 1960s.

Bob Dylan included the song, which he called "Pretty Peggy-O," on his debut album in 1962. His version was influenced by The Clancys'. But he made it crazier.

Unlike Simon & Garfunkel's pristine version, Dylan burst out of the gate joking on this one. "I've been around this whole country, but I never yet found Fenneario," he says at the beginning of the track.

He's changed the setting from ancient Scotland to contemporary America. He sings of the love-lorn captain (who has been demoted to lieutenant here) "The lieutenant he has gone, long gone
He's a-riding down in Texas with the rodeo."

And this live version is even funnier. (I'm fallin' down the stairs, pretty Peggy-O ...")

But after all these years, my favorite version is that of The Grateful Dead. Throwing in some well-placed minor chords, they create a heartbreaking and haunting melody. The local seems ambiguous, though when singing "Sweet William he is dead," he reveals, "He's buried in the Louisiana country-o."

I first heard the Dead do this song at a 1977 concert in Albuquerque. Seventeen years later I saw them play it again in Las Vegas -- which would turn out to be the last time I'd see the Grateful Dead play.

Here's a video of the song from that concert.

For more deep dives into songs, check out The Stephen W. Terrell Web Log Songbook

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

WACKY WEDNESDAY: Louie-Louiepalooza

UPDATE 4--30-15: My friend Billy pointed out that the photo to the left is not the original Kingsmen. It's "Jack Ely & The Kingsmen," which Ely formed after he split from the original band. He was forced to change the name to "The Courtmen."

This Wacky Wednesday we pay tribute to Jack Ely, who, backed by his band at the time, The Kingsmen, recorded a strange little hit called "Louie Louie."

Ely died Monday at his home in Redmond, Oregon, He was 71. Here's a story in The Seattle Times.

The Kingsmen weren't the first to record "Louie  Louie. That honor goes to the songwriter and L.A. R&B titan, Richard Berry. And The Kingsmen wasn't even the firt pacific Northwest Band to record it. Was it The Wailers or was it Little Bill & The Bluenotes who first put it to wax? And Paul Revere & The Raiders weren't far behind. (Here's a brief early history of the song from a website devoted to "Louie Louie." )

But The Kingsmen  did the definite "Louie Louie." They had the first real hit with the song (even though Ely left the band not long after they recorded it.) They're the ones who inspired the FBI to investigate the song. (Skip to the bottom of this post for more on this shining highlight in FBI history.)

In honor of Jack Ely here's a whole stinkin' mess of "Louie," starting with Richard Berry's original.

Come on, let's give it to him RIGHT NOW!

Any excuse to post a Sonics song. They recorded it in the '60s. This is a more recent live version.

Ike & Tina Turner took a stab at it.

Iggy & The Stooges did a completely filthy version (captured on the Metallic K.O. album.) But by the early '90s, Iggy had rewritten the lyrics to make the song about the fall of the Soviet Union. Or something.

Frank Zappa teamed up with Howard Stern in the late '80s to screw around with it,

Motorhead did it:

So did The Clash.

Brave Combo turned it into a cha cha cha.

Here's an easy listening rendition by The Sandpipers IF YOU DARE!

And of course, The Kingsmen!

And to make Wacky Wednesday even wackier, here are documents from the FBI's 1964 investigation into The Kingsmen's "Louie Louie." They wanted to make certain that Ely's unique vocals weren't hiding secret obscene lyics that might harm the children. J. Edgar's boys eventually determined "Louie Louie" was "unintelligible at any speed."


Sunday, April 26, 2015


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Sunday, April 26, 2015 
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)

Here's the playlist below:

Livin' in Chaos by The Sonics

In the Alleyway by J.J. & The Real Jerks

The Breeze by The Banditos

Gonna Rock Tonight by Flamin' Groovies

Hazel Holly (Please Come Back) by the Boss Mustangs

Puppet Man by Jay Reatard

Rebel Stomp by Pow Wows

Sick Boys by Social Distortion 

JuJu Hand by Handsome Dick Manitoba

Cheap Thrills by Ruben & The Jets

Price Tag/ All Hands on the Bad One by Sleater-Kinney

Hard-Lovin' Man by The Fleshtones

Sing This Song of Joy by Mudhoney

Emerald City by The Tossers

Dark as a Dungeon by The Tombstones

Android Robot by Acid Baby Jesus

Give Her a Great Big Kiss by New York Dolls

Funeral by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

The Criminal Inside Me by R.L. Burnside with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion 

Killing Floor by Albert King

Hide 'nor Hair by Ray Charles

Let's Get Funky by Hound Dog Taylor

Sit Down if You Can by Elwood Haywood with The Campbell Brothers

Biting Game by Sinn Sisamouth

No Sudden Moves by Dengue Fever

Broken Hearted Woman by Ros Sereysothea

Catch a Fire by Mojo JuJu & The Snake Oil Merchants

First There Was a Funeral by Johnny Dowd

The Nameless One by Jack Hardy

CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

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Clown Around with The Latest Big Enchilada Episode


Alright you circus clowns, welcome to the Big Top of Rock 'n' Roll, a carnival of crazy garage/punk primitive sounds to amuse and delight. Get on board. The slap sticks are crackin' and the bus is crawling with bozos, so go ahead, squeeze the old wheeze! It's a holiday for clowns.


Here's the playlist:

(Background Music: Circus by Babylon Circus)
The Clown of the Town by Reverend Beat-Man
Livin' in Chaos by The Sonics
That Man is Bad News by Big Foot Chester
Spitfire Boogie by Drifting Mines
Smokin' by Graceland
Kinko the Clown by The Ogden Edsl Wahalia Blues Ensemble Mondo Bizzario Band

(Background Music: from Felini's Clowns soundtrack)
Born Bad by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Motorcycle Madness by Daddy Longlegs
Boy on Fire by Harmonica Lewinski
Gonna See You Tonight by The Alleygators
Now's Your Chance by Fleckt Pets 
I Was On The  Bozo Show by Nobunny

(Background Music: Bozo the World's Most Famous Clown theme)
Killer Clowns from Outer Space by The Dickies
Dan Dare by The Mekons
Get Sick by Scratch Buffalo
Rebel Stop by Pow Wows
Sleeping in Blood City by The Gun Club
Death of a Clown by T. Tex Edwards
(Background Music: The Bozo Buck Stops Here by Stephen W. Terrell)

Play it Below:

Friday, April 24, 2015


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Friday, April 24, 2015 
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM 
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time 
Host: Steve Terrell 
101.1 FM
email me during the show! terrell(at)

Here's my playlist below:
OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens
Hillbilly Jitters by Dallas Wayne
The Whole Thing Stinks by Rico Bell
Still Sober After All These Beers by The Banditos
Self Sabotage by Jason & The Scorchers
The Horse by DM Bob & The Deficits
Wild and Blue by Hazeldine
Rear View Mirror by Paula Rhea McDonald
Do as You Are Told by Texas Martha & The House of Twang
Lightning Fried by Reno Jack

Six Days on the Road by Taj Mahal
San Juan Song by Slackeye Slim
Loup-garou by Tetu
The Devil Gets His Due by The Dirt Daubers
Blue Collar Dollar by Kevin Gordon
All American Girl by Angry Johnny & The Killbillies
Worried Mind by Eilen Jewell
Movie Magg by Carl Perkins
Honey Don't by Eugene Chadborne

Butter Face by The Beaumonts
Truck Driving Man by The Bottle Rockets
Hot Rod Lincoln by Bill Kirchen
Speedway by Alan Vega
I Seen What I Saw by 16 Horsepower
Reap the Whirlwind by Chipper Thompson
How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away by Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks

Rider on an Orphan Train by Tom Russell
Orphan Train by Julie Miller
Eddie Rode the Orphan Train by Jim Roll
Dover to Dunkirk by Jack Hardy
John Walker Blues by Steve Earle
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

TERRELL'S TUNE-UP: Screaming Testimonials

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
April 24, 2015

It’s so easy to get cynical about rock ’n’ roll in the 21st century. Insert your biggest complaints: Nobody pays for music these days, and we get what we pay for; all our favorite bands are broke while brainless pop tarts cash in; blah-blah-blah.

But at the risk of sounding like Little Mary Sunshine, let me tell you something, pal: These are the good old days. How could anyone be down about the state of rock when, in the past few weeks, two mighty bands have released powerful albums?

I’m talking about the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s latest assault, Freedom Tower: No Wave Dance Party 2015, and This Is the Sonics, a brand-new record from a band that’s a living blast from the past.

Both of these works are screaming testimonials to the rejuvenating power of the music — and should (but won’t) put to rest the old truism about rock ’n’ roll being some kind of youth-culture curio.

As Spencer shouts in the middle of “Bellevue Baby,” “Don’t it feel good to be alive!”

Maybe I’m prejudiced here because my ears are still ringing from seeing Spencer and his cosmic combo live in Washington, D.C., just a couple of weeks ago. Though all three band members have to be pushing fifty (Spencer first rose to glory fronting the band Pussy Galore in the ’80s), if anything, they were wilder and more energetic than they were the first time I saw JSBX live 21 years ago (at the old Sweeney Center, opening for the Breeders).

By the early part of this century, I thought the Blues Explosion was basically cooked. After its 2004 album, Damage, the group took a lengthy break. Spencer partnered up with Matt Verta-Ray and formed the rootsier Heavy Trash, which recorded three decent, if not earthshaking, albums.

Then, in late 2012, the Blues Explosion — rounded out by guitarist Judah Bauer and relentless drummer Russell Simins — reunited, as the good lord intended it to, releasing an excellent comeback album, Meat + Bone.

If anything, Freedom Tower is even stronger. “Come on, fellas, we got to pay respect!” Spencer bellows at the outset of the first song, “Funeral.” I’m not sure what corpse this funeral is for, unless it’s death itself.

Russell Simins and Spencer in DC a couple of weeks ago
The new album is a loving song cycle about the Blues Explosion’s hometown, New York City. In some tunes, such as “Betty vs. the NYPD” and “Tales of Old New York: The Rock Box” (where Spencer talks about sneaking into CBGB through the back alley), the band indulges in a little well-earned nostalgia about the sleazy, crime-ridden era of the ’70s and ’80s, those gritty days when punk rock, hip-hop, and, yes, “No Wave” were born.

Ah, good old No Wave. I heard echoes of that during JSBX’s live show, and you can hear traces of it on this album as well. For the uninitiated, No Wave is a post-punk, anti-commercial blending of loud punk, avant-garde noise, free-form jazz, performance art, and more. No Wave “stars” included bands like Suicide, James Chance & the Contortions, and Teenage Jesus and the Jerks. Sonic Youth rose from New York’s No Wave scene. And Spencer’s Pussy Galore was inspired by the craziness of it all, though, as I’ve said before, that band was more fartsy than artsy — and that goes triple for the Blues Explosion.

As Spencer proclaims in “Down and Out” on the new album, “This is America, baby: We ain’t got no class!”

The subtitle of Spencer’s new album is spot on. Spencer’s real genius is bringing the No Wave noise — but with the Blues Explosion’s distorted blues/soul/garage guitar riff to make it funky and even danceable, in a goony tribal-stomp kind of way.

It’s a trademark of JSBX for Spencer to shout “Blues Explosion!” for no apparent reason, and he does so intermittently on this album. It’s as if just the thought of playing again with Bauer and Simins fills him with uncontrollable joy. And, in fact, fans of the Blues Explosion will feel the same way when they listen to Freedom Tower.

Here’s yet more good news for New Mexico fans: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion is scheduled to play Launchpad in Albuquerque on May 21. Tickets are a mere $15 — which is $5 less than what I paid in D.C. Sorry, kids, you have to be twenty-one.

As for the Sonics, the new album by that crazy little group from Tacoma is a true marvel. The core members — keyboardist Gerry Roslie, guitarist Larry Parypa, and sax player Rob Lind — are pushing seventy.

Their original heyday was in the mid-1960s, when they shook the Pacific Northwest with songs like “Psycho,” “The Witch,” “Strychnine,” and “He’s Waitin’ ” — a song about Satan.

During their first incarnation, they didn’t really gain fame beyond their native region. But through the years, the Sonics sound inspired new generations of punks and garage rockers.

I always liked the Sonics, but I never really drank the strychnine until I saw them live in New Orleans at a quasi-annual music gathering called the Ponderosa Stomp.

The Sonics, rompin' at the Stomp
New Orleans 2013
This Is the Sonics shows that the band’s amazing live show is no fluke. Produced by Jim Diamond, a Detroit native who used to be a member of the Dirtbombs, the album can stand proudly by the Sonics’ old material.

There are a handful of original tunes, the best being “Bad Betty” and “Livin’ in Chaos,” sung by “new” member Freddie Dennis, a Sonic since 2009 who was with the Kingsmen in the ’70s and ’80s.

Even their “ecology” song, “Save the Planet,” avoids most tree-hugger clich├ęs. “We’ve got to save the planet! It’s the only one with beer.”

And, like the Sonics albums of yore, there’s a plethora of supercharged cover songs, including “I Don’t Need No Doctor” (famously recorded by Ray Charles), Bo Diddley’s “You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover,” and, my favorite in the lineup, “Leaving Here,” an early Motown song with lyrics by Eddie Holland. Though all these tunes are recognizable, they nonetheless bear the stamp of the Sonics.

I just hope they keep going into their eighties.

 Enjoy some videos:

Here's another cool video of a song from Freedom Tower. This one features comedian/singer Bridget Everett.

I think The Blues Explosion had nearly as much with these videos as they did the music on Freedom Tower,

Here's The Sonics'  "Bad Betty"!

Here's that Bo Diddley song I mentioned

And this footage is from that Ponderosa Stomp show feature a bunch of  classic Sonics tunes

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Riding on the Orphan Train

Once I rode an orphan train
And my brother did the same
They split us up in Missouri
James was five and I was three

There is a sad and strange chapter in American history that has inspired a number of haunting songs in the past 15-20 years.

The orphan train.

It was a part of history that they didn't teach us in high school. In fact I wasn't aware of the phenomenon until I heard a song, quoted above, sung by Tom Russell on his 1999 album, The Man from God Knows Where. (My curiosity about certain songs frequently has helped me to fill little gaps in my education.)

This tune was called "Riding on the Orphan Train," and it was written by a New York folksinger named David Massengil. It's a heartbreaking story of two orphan brothers who were separated. The younger one was haunted all his life by the memory of his brother and the hope to be reunited.

A couple of years later I heard another song -- "Eddie Rode the Orphan Train" by a singer named Jim Roll. (That song would later be covered by Jason (of The Scorchers) Ringenberg on one of his solo albums.

So what was the orphan train?

According to The Children's Aid Society, the charity that began the orphan train program:

"... an estimated 30,000 children were homeless in New York City in the 1850s. Charles Loring Brace, the founder of The Children's Aid Society, believed that there was a way to change the futures of these children. By removing youngsters from the poverty and debauchery of the city streets and placing them in morally upright farm families, he thought they would have a chance of escaping a lifetime of suffering."

This 2007 article by Dan Scheuerman in Humanities, a publication of the National Endowment for the Humanities, explains more:

Between 1854 and 1929, a quarter million abandoned babies and “street rats” (as the older children were referred to by police) left slums in New York, Boston, and other coastal cities aboard trains, headed for new lives in the country. ...

Children would board a westbound train in groups of up to forty, accompanied by two agents from the society, and preceded by circulars advertising, said Holt, “their ‘little laborers,’ as they were called.”

When the trains stopped, the children were paraded from the depot into a local playhouse, where they were put up on stage, thus the origin of the term “up for adoption.” Here, “they took turns giving their names, singing a little ditty, or ‘saying a piece,’” according to an exhibit panel from the National Orphan Train Complex. Less cute scenarios, said Richter, resembled slave auctions. “People came along and prodded them, and looked, and felt, and saw how many teeth they had.”

The goal was to find good Christian homes for the transplanted street rats. And in many cases, that happened. But some of the "morally upright farm families" turned out to fall short of that ideal. Many of the children would be treated as indentured servants. There were cases of abuse, sexual and psychological. Many ran away. Some were kicked out of their new homes by their foster parents.

Scheuerman quotes Roberta Lowrey, a genealogist and the great-granddaughter of an orphan  train rider.

“They were so much better off than if they had been left on the streets of New York. . . . They were just not going to survive, or if they had, their fate would surely have been awful.”

Below are songs of the orphan train.

David Massengil, introducing this live version of  "Riders on an Orphan Train,"  talks of how he was inspired to write it after he received a letter from a man who thought Massengil might be his brother.

Jim Roll sings another sad one, "Eddie Rode the Orphan Train."

A bluegrass band called "Dry Branch Fire Squad" covers Utah Phillips'  "Orphan Train"

This song by Julie Miller uses the orphan train as a metaphor for loneliness and redemption in this song titled "Orphan Train."

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

WACKY WEDNESDAY: The Musical World of Muhammad Ali

The Beatles couldn't lay a glove on him
"Ali is still champ." That's what Patti Smith declared in the liner notes of her 1976 album (and my favorite Patti Smith album) Radio Ethiopia.

Indeed, the boxer, born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in Louisville, Kentucky in 1943 is considered by many to be the greatest heavyweight fighter in boxing. Not only is he known for his accomplishments in the ring, he's known for being a champion of civil rights and one of the best known opponents of the Vietnam War. That opposition cost him his title when he refused induction into the Army 48 years ago this month.

A true man of his times, Ali had an infinity for rock and soul musicians. He posed for pictures with Elvis Presley and The Beatles. He palled around with Sam Cooke.

And, yes, he tried his hand at recording.

According to an article in, back in 1963, even before he beat Sonny Liston for the heavyweight championship, he recorded an album on Columbia Records (under his birth name) called I Am the Greatest., featuring some spoken-word as well as music. (It's still available on Amazon. with bonus tracks)

After he won the belt in 1964 Columbia released the title song as a single.

And here's the flip side.

This song was produced by Sam Cooke, who also sang on it.

Of course there were tribute songs to Ali. Here's one by a Jamaican toaster named Dennis Alcapone.

And this one by British singer Johnny Wakelin

On the other hand there was this weird satirical look at Ali's resistance to the draft by the  inimitable T. Valentine.

By the mid '70s, Ali wanted to turn his musical talents to serious social issues. Like dental health.

If you can make it much past the opening theme, you're a better man than me. Apparently this Youtube includes the entire first side of this LP. Apparently ALi's "gang" included Frank Sinatra, Ossie Davis and Richie Havens!

But as far as I'm concerned, Ali is still champ.

Even Elvis' karate was no match for Ali

Monday, April 20, 2015

Willie's Reserve

OK, I normally don't blog about the commercial endeavors by music stars, not even the ones I like.

But I had to laugh when I got the following press release this morning (April 20, 4-20, get it? Get it?):

Music legend Willie Nelson is pleased to announce a unique American enterprise: Willie's Reserve, a cannabis brand reflecting Nelson's own longstanding experience and his commitment to regulated, natural, and high quality strains of marijuana in U.S. legal markets. As one journalist has already noted, "The marijuana world is about to get its first connoisseur brand, edging it farther from an illegal substance and closer to the realm of fine wines."

Willie's Reserve is an extension of Willie's passion and appreciation for the many varieties and range of the plant's qualities. Some of the best master growers in America will collaborate, along with Willie, to define quality standards so that fans can expect clean and consistent products.

Willie's Reserve will be grown, distributed and sold by local businesses in Colorado and Washington, and will become available in other markets when state regulations allow.

Somewhat controversially, Willie has spent a lifetime as an outspoken supporter of cannabis for personal use and for industrial hemp production.

Building on Willie's community of friends and experts who share his values, Willie's Reserve will seek ways to further support and celebrate aspects of the singer-songwriter's journey with cannabis. Willie and his family, and a few close friends developed the brand with emphasis on environmental and social issues, to lend support to the gradual end to marijuana prohibition across America.

"I am looking forward to working with the best growers in Colorado and Washington to make sure our product is the best on the market," stated Willie Nelson.

Collaboration is at the center of plans for Willie's Reserve. Willie has been an outspoken supporter of the front line efforts of store owners, growers, and citizens who have been pioneers and advocates of cannabis policy improvements. The company will work with businesses that are making smart and sustainable choices for the environment, have demonstrated leadership in their markets, and are committed to encouraging safe, legal use.

Seeing the power of legalization, regulation and taxation to impact how Americans view cannabis is a life's work realized for Willie. As many have noted, his involvement is no surprise, and in the end, it's no surprise that Willie's Reserve will reflect his life.

And, according to an article in Forbes a couple of months ago:

From what he shared, it looks like Willie’s Reserve is going to be much more than just marijuana. The brand is looking to open brick and mortar locations, though obviously only in states where the substance has been legalized—Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Washington DC, and Oregon later in 2015. Those working at the fledgling company want their firm to be the “anti-Walmart”, as they want to treat all those that they work with fairly, from employees to partners. No word just yet on when the stores will open, but the plans are in motion.

A warning to my readers here in New Mexico and other states in which the sale of recreational marijuana isn't legal: Don't expect to see Willie's Reserve sold here anytime soon.

But it is legal here to listen to some of the "4-20" songs I blogged about last week. CLICK HERE

UPDATE 4:21 pm: Here's a new song by Willie and Merle Haggard, "It's All Going to Pot."

As my friend Rob just said, Merle's a long way from Muskogee!

Sunday, April 19, 2015


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Sunday, April 19, 2015 
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)

Here's the playlist:
Opening Theme: Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out) by  The Hombres
The Ballad of Joe Buck by  The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Motorcycle Madness by  Daddy Long Legs
As Long As I Have You by The Detroit Cobras
Leaving Here by The Sonics
Hush Hush by The Plimsouls
Boy on Fire by Harmonica Lewinski
Bury Our Friends by Sleater-Kinney
Cave Girl by The Texreys
It's So Easy by Jay Reatard
Leader Of The Sect by Downliners Sect
Goofy's Concern by by Butthole Surfers

Dan Dare by The Mekons
Ancient & Modern by The Mekons
The Devil's Music by The Three Johns
When I Was a Little Spy by Gogol Bordello vs. Tamir Muskat
She Got Fangs by The Electric Mess
Justine by Adrian Lloyd & The Sunsets

When the Morning Hits by Jody Porter
Janey by Ed Pettersen
Steppin' Out by Paul Revere & The Raiders
Mustang Ranch by Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears
Gone Daddy Gone by Violent Femmes
Blow Up Your Mind by The Cramps
Contort Yourself by James White & The Blacks

Junco Partner by Professor Longhair
Fat Angel by Jefferson Airplane
Cry Me a River Blues by Little Esther Phillips

Fallin' from the Sky by Markus James (feat. Calvin Jackson)
People Get Ready by Jimmy Scott
In Germany Before the War by Randy Newman
Closing Theme Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

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Friday, April 17, 2015


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Friday, April 17, 2015 
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM 
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time 
Host: Steve Terrell 
101.1 FM
email me during the show! terrell(at)

Here's my playlist below:

Like the Santa Fe Opry Facebook page 

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

Mekons to Record New Album, Langford Says

The Giant Skype Head of Jon Langford

I caught the sneak-preview of The Revenge of The Mekons last night at the Center for Contemporary Arts here in Santa Fe. And, as promised, after the film was a Skype session with The Mekons' Jon Langford and director Joe Angio.

And I actually got a little news out of this. Langford, answering my question, said The Mekons will be recording a new album -- their first since 2011's Ancient & Modern -- this summer. It will be a live album, he said, recorded in New York at the end of what Langford said will be a short tour of the American Midwest. (Langford was booed when he said that tour wouldn't be coming to Santa Fe.)

Asked what songs would be on the album, Langford said he didn't know They haven't been written yet.

So that's something to look forward to.

The Revenge of The Mekons is showing at the CCA today and Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 pm. in case you missed my review of the documentary CLICK HERE.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Getting Ready for 4-20

Next Monday is April 20, or "4-20" as the youngsters say.

I'm not exactly sure how those magic numbers came to be associated with marijuana. And I don't really care. All I know is decades before that happened some of the most respected names in the world of jazz were celebrating the joys of the weed in song.

And that didn't escape the notice of the drug warriors of that era. The infamous Harry Anslinger, the commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics for more than 30 years, pursued the menace of reefer-smoking jazzbos with the same grim determination with which J. Edgar Hoover hounded John Lennon years later.

Larry "Ratso" Sloman, in his book Reefer Madness: A History of Marijuana (1979) quotes Anslinger's testimony before a Congressional committee in 1949.

"We have been running into a lot of traffic among these jazz musicians, and I am not speaking about the good musicians, but the jazz type, " he said. "In North Carolina we arrested a whole orchestra, everybody in the orchestra."

I'm sure Anslinger would have loved to have collared Cab Calloway, who sang several reefer tunes in his time, including this 1932 ode to a favorite purveyor known as "The Man from Harlem."

Meanwhile, Fats Waller was dreaming of reefer five feet long. He recorded the song commonly known as "If You's a Viper" in 1943 (That was seven years after the original recording by a jazz violinist named Stuff Smith.). Waller made this for Armed Forces radio, and, according to Sloman, he basically took the opportunity to thumb his nose at Anslinger, who only 16 days before had pledged to make mass arrests of "swing bands" who indulged in reefer smoking.

Don Redman wasn't as famous as Cab or The Ink Spots. But he was a member of McKinney's Cotton Pickers and played with the likes of  Fletcher Henderson, Pearl Bailey and Eubie Blake. And he was well acquainted with that reefer man.

To be honest, I'm not really familiar with Jazz Gillum. But I do like his song "Reefer Head Woman."


In the spirit of equal time, here's some messages from the other side.

First, an informative little botany lesson about the Devil's flower from a country singer who called himself "Mr. Sunshine." (Mr. Sunshine? Was this some kind of weird drug code?) This video uses footage from a classic docu-drama called Reefer Madness that tried to set the record straight.

Next is a song with the same title by someone named "Johnny Price." The true message of this song is that an obsession with marijuana can lead to crime ... at least the crime of plagiarism. This funky dude stole the title from Mr. Sunshine and the tune from Johnny Cash's "San Quentin."

And here's "The Story of Susie," a sad tale about a young girl for whom marijuana was a gateway drug: The gateway to doom!

I wonder if Susie was a friend of Jeannie in the next song, "A Box of Grass." The two girls met the same tragic fate and it's all because of the Devil's Flower.

So kids, stay away from gangs and drugs. But have a safe and happy 4-20 however you celebrate.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

THE ROCK 'N' ROLL TOURIST: Watching the Blues Explode in Washington, D.C.

Instead of Wacky Wednesday this week, here's the latest installment of The Rock 'n' Roll Tourist.
Wacky Wednesday will return next week.

Jon Spencer uses his head

Two thirds of an Explosion
As much as politicians love to bash Washington, D.C. -- even a lot of those cynical ones who spend millions of bucks to get there and stay there -- it can be an inspiring place to visit. I was there last week during a short vacation, And several of the Capitol's beautiful shrines -- the Martin Luther King Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial -- were truly uplifting. Even the modest World War One Memorial had its own quiet power. Walking by it reminded me of that heartbreaking line, as sung by The Pogues, in "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" about "the forgotten heroes of a forgotten war." I couldn't get it out of my head.

And yes, I saw some inspiring music too, music that makes me proud to be an American.

That's the sound of The Blues Explosion!

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, touring behind their rollicking new album Freedom Tower: No-Wave Dance Party 2015,  played The Black Cat Club last Saturday night.

Judah Bauer
They roared, they thundered, they rolled, they tumbled. Spencer and fellow guitarist Judah Bauer made their guitars scream while drummer Russell Simins was, well, explosive.

And Spencer sweats more than any singer I've ever seen with the possible exception of James Brown.

I'd seen this group live twice before. Once here in Santa Fe back in 1994 when they opened for The Breeders at the old Sweeney Convention Center. The next time was 1997 when I was playing Rock 'n' Roll Tourist in New York and JSBX was playing at the Freedom Tibet festival.

Making the theremin holler
But 21 years after I saw them for the first time, I have to say The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion was louder, wilder, more distorted, more screechy than they were back in the day.

It sometimes seemed they were emphasizing the "No-Wave" aspect of the album title on Friday night. Yet still, it was a "Dance Party." The music always is more fun than artsy -- even when it's artsy, Through the wall of noise, distorted blues, soul and funk riffs provided a framework for the sonic madness. And though sometimes the vocals were buried beneath the chaos, Spencer's charisma, his sly grin and his unabashed enthusiastic showmanship carried the night.

And the boy plays a mean theremin!

Daddy Long Legs
I'd purchased my tickets for this show weeks ago. But I was surprised to learn just a couple of hours before the concert that Spencer's opening act was going to be none other than Daddy Long Legs, a dapper trio from Brooklyn (by way of St. Louis) of whom a wise critic once said "is the most exciting blues/punk group, this side of Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band, on the scene today."

Led by the tall gawky red-headed singer and harmonica honker (who also goes by the name Daddy Long Legs) the group ripped through tunes from their Norton Records albums Blood from a Stone and Evil Eye on You.

I've been wanting to see this band for a couple of years. To be able to see them on the same bill as The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion was a special joy.


But by far the weirdest show I saw in Washington, D.C. was by one of my favorite cowpunk groups, Jason & The Scorchers, who provided the music for a modern dance performance at The Kennedy Center.

You read that correctly. Jason & The Scorchers. Kennedy Center. Modern dance performance. Cowpunk.

The idea for the performance, titled Victory Road  (from an old Scorchers tune) came from  Lucy Bowen McCauley, artistic director and choreographer of the dance company bearing her name.

 “It’s a journey,” McCauley told The Washington City Paper. “There’s a reason there’s one song after the other. It’s not like Broadway; there’s no talking among the dancers and the dancers don’t sing. But there is a storyline, a riff on [The Scorchers] history.”

Last Friday night was the world premier of Victory Road.

Basically, singer Jason Ringenberg stood at one end of the stage while lead guitarist Warner Hodges was at the other end. The rest of the Scorchers were below in the orchestra pit. In the middle of the stage, the dancers did their thing.

Look, I'm a complete rube when it comes to dance performances, modern or otherwise. I'm a rock 'n' roll guy, not a dance guy. So I won't pretend to review that aspect of the show. I was there for Jason and the boys -- though I suspect most of the audience there were modern-dance fans.

Scorchers '97
And they sounded good, tromping through some of my favorite rocking Scorchers hits like "Gospel Plow," "White Lies," "Shop It Around" "Self Sabotage," and the Dylan-penned "Absolutely Sweet Marie." Several of the tunes in the show -- including "Getting Nowhere Fast," "Days of Wine and Roses" -- were from their most recent (2010) album, Halcyon Times.

However, probably due to the elite setting of the Kennedy Center and the whole dance thing, the Scorchers were more subdued than the wild men I saw tear up the Liberty Lunch in Austin at South by Southwest in 1997. They never turned it up to 11 at the Kennedy Center. Kept it about 8 and a half, even for their encore songs they played following the regular Victory Road program.

Still, it was great to see them again. I have to respect their willingness to try something like this.

Come to think of it, Jason & The Scorchers doing music for a modern dance troupe makes me proud to be an American also.

Final Bow.
Photo by Chuck McCutcheon

Friday, April 10, 2015

TERRELL'S TUNE-UP: Sweet Revenge for The Mekons

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
April 10, 2015

Ed Roche, the former head of Touch and Go Records, summed up the appeal of the longest surviving punk band in the world: “The joke around the label is that every critic loves The Mekons. Unfortunately, they get free records.”

Roche made those remarks in the documentary Revenge of The Mekons, which is playing at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe next week. And the underlying truth of Roche’s joke can be seen at the Metacritic page for the movie. There are 10 reviews of critics listed (and only one bad review). And no “users” (non-professional critic) reviews.

Devout Mekons fans probably will become devout fans of this movie, directed by Joe Angio, (whose previous film was a documentary about  actor/director Melvin Van Peebles called How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (And Enjoy It).)

Revenge tells the story of how The Mekons came together as students in Leeds in 1977 and how they’ve they’ve kept going through the years -- with an amazingly stable roster for the last 20 or 25 years -- remaining true to their vision and consistently producing inspiring work.

“We were a bunch of art students when we formed, and it was an at project bascaly,” singer/guitarist Jon Langford says on camera. “We weren’t musicians. We were just seeing how far we could take it.”

As faithful readers of this column can attest, I’m one of those critics who loves the damned Mekons. I’ve seen them live twice (both during South by Southwest festivals in Austin) and I think I’ve reviewed every album the band has released in the past 20 years, plus many of the offshoot projects like The Waco Brothers and various Langford and Sally Timms solo records.

And it never fails to frustrate me that no matter how I’ve tried to spread the word about this wonderful musical collective of visionaries, rebels and oddballs – and how writers far more talented and influential than I have tried to do the same -- The Mekons’ audience never seems to rise beyond the level of small-but-rabid cult.

In an interview at a Minnesota radio station shown in the film, the host notes the longevity of the group – their first incarnation was in 1977 – and asks the band, “What’s the key to your success?” Members look around at each other, grinning, possibly suppressing laughter.

Singer Timms, a Mekon since the mid 80s, answers: “Success is the thing that usually kills bands in the end. So we haven’t had any success. We’ve had none of the attendant problems. It’s easier than fighting over huge sums of money. We fight over $10 or $15.”

The Mekons in the 80s
So what’s the key to their lack of success? Probably it’s because of the band’s uncompromising nature – and their precarious relationship with the music industry.

Kevin Lycett, a founding Mekon who was with the band until 1989, summed it up in the movie while talking about their brief association with Virgin Records, which released their first album:

“We wanted total control. They couldn’t say what was released; they couldn’t put anything out without our say-so. Couldn’t do posters without our say-so. Couldn’t package it without our say-so. We removed every possible incentive for Virgin to be interested in us. It was a masterpiece of flushing ourselves down the loo.”

Likewise, longtime Mekons drummer Steve Goulding says, “I don’t think it’s anti-capitalist so much as just having an ideal that you want to stay with … It’s not really a political stance. It’s an artistic stance.”

Fans will appreciate these interviews with various members past and present. Listing to Langford and the equally witty Timms talk is always a pleasure. But I came away with new appreciation for Susie Honeyman, the band’s fiddler for more than 30 years, whose day job is running a London art gallery with her husband. Honeyman talks about how she was terrified of Timms at first (“… she was extremely rude and vicious. She’s toned down the viciousness.”)
Langford with The Waco Brothers

And while other Mekons laugh off their bad luck in the music biz, Honeyman tells a story of attending a party thrown by A&M Records, the band’s label for a couple of albums in the late ‘80s. The new management was announcing all the artists signed with the label but didn’t mention The Mekons. The group knew their time with A&M was over and you can see the heartbreak in Honeyman’s eyes.

Also excellent is the live footage of The Mekons on stage through the decades including some extremely rare clips of early shows. You’ll see Timms forgetting the lyrics to “Ghosts of American Astronauts” and Langford doing a hilariously obnoxious rock-star dance as the rest of the band sits in an “unplugged” set.

So go see Revenge of The Mekons. And bring a friend or two to try to expand the cult just a little.

There will be a sneak preview of Revenge of The Mekons at the Center for Contemporary Arts at 6:30pm  Thursday, April 16 at 6:30pm, followed by a Skype Q&A with Langford. Regular showings begin Friday, April 17.

Kenny Delgado as I remember him
Canutofest!  Friends and family of the late Kenny “Canuto” Delgado are organizing a fitting tribute to the man that many have described as Santa Fe’s number one music fan. Delgado died last Thanksgiving  after struggling many years with cardiac problems.

Delgado was a longtime member of the Santa Fe Bandstand Committee, which is responsible for the free music program on the Plaza every summer. And was a constant presence at concerts from rock 'n' roll to mariachi.

Canutofest will take place Saturday, April 18 at 4 pm – 10 pm at El Museo Cultural De Santa Fe, 555 Camino De La Familia in Santa Fe. Musical acts playing,  playing, according to a preliminary list, include Sean Healen,  Ramon Bermudez, The Mikey Baker Trio, The Chris Abeyta Quartet Strings Attached  and Sweet Sister Gospel Band withTerry Diers.

There is no charge, but those attending are asked to bring supplies for the Santa Fe Animal Shelter – high end dog and cat food (the shelter refers Purina), non-clumping kitty litter etc.

Video treats: Here's a whole lotta Mekons, starting with the trailer for Revenge of The Mekons

I'm not sure why, but since watching Revenge of The Mekons, "Beaten and Broken" has become my favorite Mekons song. Here's a version from last summer with Robbie Fulks. (Unfortunately the sound isn't great but the performance is great fun. I'm not sure what cracked up Sally and the others. Maybe it was Lu's strange saz solo.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

THROWBACK THURSDAY: It's Almost Ruination Day

The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. The sinking of the Titanic, The Black Sunday dust storm of 1935.

What do these great American disasters and tragedies have in common?

They all occurred on April 14.

Gillian Welch dubbed it "Ruination Day."

It's also the day that Don Ho died in 2007. But I won't go there.

There is no national holiday next Tuesday, but we can remember the victims and the the historical consequences of all three events through songs like these:


And here are the two songs called "April 14 Part 1" and "Ruination Day Part 2" on Gillian Welch's 2001 album Time (The Revelator). In  both there are images of Lincoln, the Titanic and Okies fleeing the Dust Bowl. She makes direct reference to "God Moves on the Water," from the refrain of Bessie Jones' song about the Titanic.

Oh, what the hell?

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

WACKY WEDNESDAY: Happy Birthday (in Advance) Tom Lehrer

Tom Lehrer, satirist, math professor and high-ranking "sicknik" (at least according to Time magazine) turns 87 tomorrow.

Known for his tinkling piano and a poisoned mind, Lehrer hasn't been active in the music world for decades, but during his brief heyday he was one of the musical heroes of the grim, gray '50s.

Behind his piano in  a jacket, tie and horn-rimmed glasses, he looked like the ultimate square. And yet he was singing subversive themes about nuclear bombs, lynching, pollution, the military .. and poisoning pigeons in the park. And unlike some of the people he lampooned in his song "Folk Song Army," he pulled it off without sounding self-righteous.

I've enjoyed Lehrer's music for years, but I like him even more since reading what Time magazine had written about him  -- as related in an excellent profile published last year in BuzzFeed by editor-in-chief Ben Smith.

In July 1959, Time featured Lehrer alongside Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl as the avatars of a new “sick” comedy, which it played as the symptom of a sick society. “What the sickniks dispense is partly social criticism liberally laced with cyanide, partly a Charles Addams kind of jolly ghoulishness, and partly a personal and highly disturbing hostility toward all the world,” the magazine wrote.

That's great company to be in, Lenny, Mort and Charles Addams too. Damn, I want to be a sicknik!

So go read Smith's article and enjoy this sampler of Leher tunes below. Happy birthday, Tom!

It's probably a good thing that PETA wasn't around when Leher recorded this one

And here's one about Los Alamos -- where Lehrer once worked for "the old AEC.".

This next one was written decades before 50 Shades of Grey,


Not many singers have covered Tom Lehrer songs. But one who did was Barbara Manning in the late 1990s. Backed by members of Calexico, she played with Leher's melody, bringing out all the latent creepiness and wisely omitted the first and last verse's of Leher's song, the ones that basically wink and tell listeners the whole thing is a joke. With her wide-eyed delivery, Manning creates something that is no longer a clever goof, but something that could be ripped from today's headlines..

Sunday, April 05, 2015


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Friday, April 03, 2015


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Friday, April 3, 2015 
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Thursday, April 02, 2015

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Let's Celebrate Lead Belly

Lead Belly in Life magazine, April 1937.
Just 78 years ago this month, Life magazine did a three-page spread on Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly. who was well on his way to becoming one of the titans of 20th Century music.

There was a full-color picture, of the barefoot singer in overalls, sitting on grain sacks and playing guitar, his mouth wide open in song.

O.K., so the rustic image was pretty hokey. But what was really shocking about the Life article was the headline:

Lead Belly - Bad Nigger Makes Good Minstrel.

And just so we're clear, this was Life magazine. the epitome of mainstream American publications, not some KKK hate pamphlet.

And part of the photo spread was a black and white close-up of Lead Belly's hands playing a guitar. The caption: "These hands once killed a man."

Again, this wasn't the Police Gazette, it was Life magazine!

To say the least, Lead Belly deserved better.

I'm not going to go into his whole life story here. If you're not familiar with the man and his music, Check out the documentary Legend of Lead Belly, which will be airing on the Smithsonian channel later this month. (Or watch it right now, free, HERE)

It's sad that Lead Belly never lived to see it --  he died in  1949 at the age of 61 -- but through the years he really has gained a tremendous degree of respectability.

Like so many true avatars of American music, Lead Belly never sold many records himself. His biggest "hits' -- like "Goodnight Irene," "Midnight Special," "Rock Island Line," "Gallis Pole" (redone by Led Zeppelin as "Gallows Pole" and "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" (made famous by Nirvana) were all done by other singers. Musicians from Judy Garland to Nirvana have recorded Leadbelly songs.

With his 12-string guitar (and sometimes piano or even accordion) He sang sweet love songs; work songs; dirty blues; raw versions of pop songs; outlaw ballads; story songs retelling the news of the day; protest songs like "Bourgeois Blues"; cowboy famtasies and more.

Perhaps the cruelest irony was that "Goodnight Irene" became hugely popular -- the year after he died. The folk group called The Weavers was the best-known cover, but Frank Sinatra, Ernest Tubb and countless others covered it too.

Last month, Smithsonian Folkways released a five disc collection called Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection featuring five hours of music including 16 unreleased tracks. It's got most of his better-known tunes plus a bunch of obscurities. There's even a recording of a radio show in which Lead Belly starts singing along with a Bessie Smith song.

Leadbelly's most famous tunes are so much a part of our collective musical wiring, it's the less-famous ones I've been enjoying the most since the Smithsonian collection. So I'm going to embed a few of the great obscurities here.

Bob Dylan, as a horny teen, wrote a song for Brigitte Bardot. Lead Belly wrote this one for a movie sex symbol of his day.

Here's a more serious song, the story of nine Black teenagers accused of raping a white woman in Alabama. They were found guilty by (you guessed it) an all-white juries, The story of the Scottsboro Boys is widely considered an astonishing miscarriage of justice. Lead Belly thought so too. ("Stay woke," Lead Belly warned in the interview following the song)

 I think this song was on the first Lead Belly record I ever heard. My high school friend Paul Songer had it on some album and it made me an instant Lead Belly fan.

And here's one for the iddies-kay.


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