Inspector Owl delivers a crazy video for “Mousey” from their brand new eponymous LP. Kudos to Corey & Co. for another great album.
Woodstock Willie is Illinois’ most famous rodent next to Rod B. As groundhogs go, he seems nice enough. February 2nd is his big day and he says we’re getting an early spring. A year ago, Snowpocalypse happened. Sorry if I’m not biting. If spring happens I’ll salute it then. In the meantime, here’s a return to smearin’ — after a mid-winter hiatus — with Beck’s adventurous remix of Feist’s latest single,
“How Come You Never Go There.” (Interscope/Cherrytree)
The War On Drugs, “Don’t Fear The Ghost” (Secretly Canadian)
Lambchop, “Gone Tomorrow” (Merge)
Chairlift, “Sidewalk Safari” (Young Turks/Columbia)
Pariah, “Left Unsaid” (R&S)
Mazzy Star, “Common Burn” (Rhymes Of An Hour)
M83, “Midnight City” (Mute)
Sayonara, “Mothership” (Lilypad)
It’s that time of year again… You want to buy your favorite stocking-stuffer a musical token. Unfortunately, you haven’t bought an album since that Sting solo début. Fret not, from hipster to broken hips, you’ll find something helpful here. I singled out a few, but Album Of The Year beat me to this compilation effort. Well done, AOTY.
While watching The Colbert Report, I was struck by Stephen’s proposal that poor people should become the pets of rich people. One solution to many of our current economic woes, perhaps? But before readers run off to buy that diamond collar, I think I can tweak this plan and help the growing Band Bubble find a way to grow without bursting.
The Internet and cheap digital technology has fostered the largest population of new bands in history. It seems that everywhere you turn, a baby band has just hatched. And typically, bands are largely poor with most musicians lacking healthcare and other insurance to protect their livelihood.
So the problem of poor, uninsured musicians
loitering busking in our public transportation stations, local bars and unemployment centers has a real solution if we apply Colbert’s adopt-the-poor plan. Art patron pets will have a better lifestyle, complete with healthcare, swimming pools and laundry services. Like the time of Mozart transported to the 21st Century, musicians can look to their new benefactors as the saviors of their career and fetid stage wear. And if you are one of the One Percent pondering adopting that cute little indie drummer you found sleeping in a box behind your pool house, look at the perks:
- Bands will stay off the couch because they are already accustomed to sleeping on stranger’s floors.
- Cigarettes and bacon offer all sustainability needs for your new
- Requires little bathing.
- No wardrobe budget – Um, stage-wear?
- NO boarding! Your band can live in their minivan when you have guests in town to put up.
- No tuning needed.
FORGOTTEN CHICAGO: STATE STREET PAWN SHOPS 1969-71
The SG in the window was hanging slightly askew. From my perspective, I could see there was something odd about this Gibson solid body. Something about the back of the guitar was a little off. It wasn’t reflecting the light from the window in the expected way. So I walked over to the guitar and asked the fellow at the counter if I could look at it. He eyeballed me for a few seconds and without a word, pulled it down and handed it over to me.
The back of that guitar still makes me smile over forty years later. It turned out, the guitar had strange reflective properties because there was a custom painting on its backside. A painting of a mushroom cloud with enough paint piled on to curtail any light reflection. It turned out, it was an SG formerly owned by a guitarist from Atomic Rooster.
And this was how I became a guitarhead. Sure I like lots of other gear. I am a recording engineer and cannot help myself. Microphones, preamps, tape recorders, instrument amps and other “stuff” appeals to my technical side. But guitar stuff is special. It speaks to me and reminds me of those times when, as a youngster, I hung with the big boys.
My neighbor across the alley from my Southwest-side Chicago house was a real renaissance man. Tommy was a chemist, photographer, lithographer, painter and played guitar and flute. Maybe 7 or 8 years older than me, Tom let me play his ’58 Fender Telecaster through his 2-12 Silvertone combo guitar amp, the same one you might see Jack White (White Stripes) play out of today, with no qualms or hesitations. After one of my many lessons, I routinely took that ’58 Tele home and practiced until my non-calloused fingers were ready to bleed. How cool is that? I’m in 7th grade hanging out with someone who drives and owns very cool guitar gear. And often drives into downtown Chicago to visit his buddy named Paul, who did custom guitar work in the back of a pawn shop on Chicago’s State Street. A street at that time offering no glitz like the street of today’s downtown loop area which dazzles tourists, or even like a time when that “great street” was ol’ Blue Eyes’ kind of town. No, this was a rundown, shabby block, littered with pawn shops and peep show joints. And this particular pawn shop sported an incredible array of musical instruments, especially guitars.
Any guitar collector today would have a heart attack walking into that cluttered storefront. Gold top Les Pauls hung next to Flying Vees and Stratocasters. Most guitars in this shop were made in the 1950s before being pawned for far less money than their real value. I still vividly remember the Les Paul Jr., owned by Steve Marriott, hanging on the wall waiting for Paul to overhaul it.
Paul was a guitar guru. An upper level black belt in karate that custom wound pickups and improved wiring for the axes of other professional guitar players. Guys like John Lennon and on this day, Jeff Beck. Yes, those guys. Paul called his pickup rewrapping a “screen job” as I remember it, and it must have been a beautiful sounding upgrade because if THE Jeff Beck sends his guits to Paul, Paul’s doing something special.
You have to consider that in the late sixties and early seventies, custom guitar accessorizing was not a mouse click away. Or even available mail order. No, you had to know someone. And because I knew Tommy, I now knew Paul. And that’s how I happened to find myself standing that day in 1970, in that dingy pawn shop, ogling a SG formerly owned by the guy from Atomic Rooster.
The “white top” Les Paul I was allowed to hold was apparently a BIG deal, not that I knew. I was thinking it was too heavy to ever enjoy playing. And it was not THAT SG with the mushroom cloud on it. Oh well, I wasn’t buying it and no one was feeling generous that day. But I don’t remember caring because I went to that pawn shop many times with my almost-adult buddies. And when you couple that with a room filled with guitars that I could ask to play without fear of the counter jockey thwacking my head, you had one very happy tweenager.
Nowadays that block on State Street is occupied by one building. A landmark building at that. The Harold Washington Library doesn’t leave the slightest hint or trace memory of the dwellings and buildings that once stood. Peeps shows and pawn shops replaced by a library and, on the next block north, a public space with a grass area to sit and enjoy the sculptures. Art installations– like the giant eyeball that is staring at me today as I walk along State Street reminiscing — are the new peep shows. Granted, this one exhibit stares back. State Street is probably a better place today for most folks. But if any of my fellow pedestrians are guitar enthusiasts, I bet they might disagree if they knew what stood before.
I don’t know where Tommy and Paul and Bob (the virtuoso of this “ax pack”) are today or even if they are alive. I lost track of my friend and his friends decades ago. But every once in a while, when I pick up my ’68 Telecaster to play, I think of those fellas and realize what a lucky little punk I was. I sure hope everyone’s ok. And, I hope I find that SG on eBay tonight. I may be old now, but I can still dream.
Sidebar: If the drumming sounds familiar, note that it’s Carl Palmer, who went on to play in an outfit calling themselves, Emerson Lake & Palmer.
Naked in nature
I come to her
my mind undressed
Recorded live in Studio B Chicago in 1986.
No real setup for sound check. Basically a plug & play situation while trying to capture the sparks as they flew. The 80s reverb was not an option. Its use mandated by the music convention of 1986. We also wore mullets and skinny ties.
If you take three, Indiana-bred, childhood friends and call them Peter Gunn (why not, they did!) and filter this through 2/3 of the post-punk trio, The Others, and finally, add another friend and flavor by incorporating the studio project that was King Of Sighs, you get the no-frills, improvised experiment that was Carpmen. Five guys show up. A notebook or five might see the light of day. Ideas, still in flux, congeal. This is the results.
I must give credit to Scotch/3M because that cassette was not too miserable to restore. No flakes either! Maybe we drove those waveforms into that ribbon with enough force to keep it all there for a long, long time. I love this project. We had fun with no strings attached. If I have a regret, it would be that I was in the control room and not in the live room. Perhaps the rest of this lot preferred it that way? Haha!! Well played, gents. Oh well, someone had to press record. –KK
One day. One time. From the unknown…
Papa | Down | Pray | Naked In Nature | Mission Impossible
Mike Jones: vocals & notebook
JD Dragus: guitar no whammy & backing vocals
John Carpenter: guitar with whammy
Dan Massey: drums
Kerry Kelekovich: bass & recording engineer
Words by Mike Jones
All songs © 1986 Carpmen / © 2011 Lilypad Records All Rights Reserved
Thanks to everyone at Columbia for letting us do this without interference, especially Diego and security.
I’d like to tell you something about me
but I don’t know me half as well as you
to be released 11 November 2011
“It Came From Jay’s Garage” is a 12-artist compilation released in 1987 on Moving Target Records and distributed by Celluloid Records NYC. Produced by Lee Popa and mixed by Jay O’Rourke. Executive producer was Dave Frey. Recorded at Jay’s Garage August – November 1987. This is the only vinyl with Wildroots music on it. Please enjoy the occasional click and pop.
JD Dragus: lead vocals & lead guitar
Tom Gerlach: vocals & guitar
Kerry Kelekovich: bass
Dan Massey: drums
“Candy Store” © 1984 Jody Conte, JD Dragus and Dan Massey.
Photographs from the archives taken by Lare D’Amico at Chicago Choice Picks / Metro Chicago and in the wilds of Lake County, Illinois.
Linda Samodral shot the “Human Music” images in downtown Chicago.
Ripped from vinyl by KK at Couderay Music.
Video © 2011 Lilypad Records All Rights Reserved