Sunday, December 21, 2014

The All Togethers, Gentlemen of Four Outs, the Swamp Gospel at the Double Down Saloon - Dec 20, 2014


 (Swamp Gospel pix by Ron Hudy)



OK, truthfully, I had a few too many drinks this evening to give a detailed accounting of any of the happenings, but suffice to say that the Swamp Gospel had a fantastic time opening the night to a great, enthusiastic crowd who willingly found salvation. I also played with the Gentlemen of Four Outs for our debut at the Double Down and we were appropriately sloppy drunk - at least I was - and garnered new fans, as well. The All Togethers are always a fun time and this evening they sounded exceptional - superior mix of instruments and all four voices and everyone looked snappy as ever - and I can't imagine that you'll find a cuter cello/stand-up bass duo in the state!

Thank you to the Double Down for being one of the most enjoyable places to play in town and for having an phenomenal staff.

Happy holidays to all!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

recommended gigs

Friday Dec 19 - the Astaires with Gloom Bloom and Monogrim at La Parranda
Friday Dec 19 - the All Togethers at Bar & Bistro

Saturday Dec 20 - The Swamp Gospel, The Gentlemen of Four Outs, The All Togethers, Penisula and Sleeping Ghost at the Double Down Saloon

Sunday Dec 21 - Leaving Springfield, Haberdashers, Royal Hounds, Geezus Cryst and Free Beer at the BUnkhouse

Monday Dec 22 - Jinxy Bear, the All Togethers and Water Landing at the Bunkhouse
Monday Dec 22 - Laissez Fairs at Boomers

Friday Dec 26 - The Laissez Fairs and Astaires at the Bunkhouse - Beatles Tribute

Saturday Dec 27 - the All Togethers at the Pioneer Saloon

Sunday Dec 28 - the Astaires, the Night Times, No Tides, Gloom Bloom at the Bunkhouse

Wednesday Dec 31 - Delta Bombers with Nekromantics, Hard Fall Hearts, The Returners, Deadbeat Vultures, Dead at Midnight - Las Vegas Country Saloon
Wednesday Dec 31 - Boss Martians and Swank Bastards at the Double Down
Wednesday Dec 31 - the All Togethers at Boulder Dam Brewing

Saturday Jan 3 - the Time Crashers comic + EP release show with 3d6, Under 15 Seconds, Safewerd and more at the Artistic Armory

Sunday Jan 4 - Midnight Clover at the Bunkhouse

Monday Jan 5 - Laissez Fairs at Boomers

Saturday Jan 10, 2015 - the Psyatics and the Lucky Cheats with the Dictators NYC at LV Country Saloon

Sunday Jan 11 - Alan Six, Eliza Battle and Ditch Diggers at the Bunkhouse

Friday Jan 16 - Swamp Pussy at Babe's Gentlemen's Club

Wednesday Jan 21 - the All Togethers at the Griffin

Friday Jan 23 - the Unwieldies with Part Time Criminals and Sara Patterson at the Hard Hat

Thursday Jan 29 - the All Togethers at Velveteen Rabbit

Friday Jan 30 - the All Togethers at Boulder Dam Brewing

Saturday Jan 31 - the All Togethers with Whiskey Breath and Jackson Taylor at the Beauty Bar

Thursday Feb 5 - the Blasters and the Yawpers at Triple B

Saturday Feb 7 - the All Togethers at the Container Park

Sunday March 29 - Pev. Peyton's Big Damn Band with the All Togethers and Ditch Diggers at the Beauty Bar

Sunday April 5 - the Sonics at Viva Las Vegas - Mardi Gras Ballroom

What have I forgotten? Lemme know!

Fats Domino - Christmas Gumbo

Again, how do you argue with the New Orleans boogie-woogie of Fats Domino? Unfortunately, these
recordings are a little later than his classic times, so the production is a little off - but just a little. We still get Fats terrific voice and grooving piano, so all is well!

Here we have "I Told Santa Claus", the religious "Christmas is a Special Day" (which concentrates more on Jesus' death than birth, oddly enough), an upbeat "Jingle Bells", "I'll Be Home For Christmas", a slower "Silver Bells" (with some weirdly dated and unnecessary production/instruments), a boppin' "Frosty the Snowman" and a similar treatment on "Rudolph", a totally swingin' "Blue Christmas", an appropriately quiet "Silent Night", some boogie-woogie in "White Christmas" (marred a little by some faux strings), "Please Come Home For Christmas" (perfectly appropriate in his hands), and ending with "Amazing Grace" that, unfortunately, has more of the terrible, fake, electronic strings/keys that sound pretty bad, I'm sad to say.

Regardless, overall, this is another cool holiday comp. Not the best of the lot, but definitely worthwhile.

James Brown - Santa's Got a Brand New Bag

Who doesn't love James Brown, especially in his late 60's/early 70's hey-day? Here he gives Christmas some real funk - and does a great job with it! These aren't mere novelties - these are well-written originals that just happen to have a seasonal bent.

"Santa Claus Go Straight To the Ghetto" is one of his best here - a cool groove, horn'n'guitar propelled, and nice sentiments - great stuff! There's a slow, soul groove in "Santa Claus, Santa Claus", as only JB can do and a string-laden ballad in "Christmas in Heaven". An even quieter ballad is "It's Christmas Time" before we get back to the power-funk with "Go Power at Christmas" and then another string-laden message song with "Let's Make Christmas Mean Something This Year". There's a very JB version of "The Christmas Song" and very energetic funk in "Soulful Christmas" as well as a sweet "Please Come Home For Christmas" (with a terrific, screamin' additional bridge). The always classic "Merry Christmas Baby" is slow and sultry with some cool guitar licks while "Merry Christmas, I Love You" is classic James soulful funk. Another ballad, "Let's Unite the Whole World At Christmas" and more dance-funk in "Tit For Tat (Ain't No Taking Back)" before Brown tells the story of baby Jesus in "Sweet Little Baby Boy". More strings for "Santa Claus is Definitely Here to Stay" - kind of a "When a Man Loves a Woman" feel - before ending everything up with high-energy funk in "Hey Amnerica".

An abundance of ballads here, but all quality tunes making an essential Xmas album!

Yule Struttin' - A Blue Note Christmas

As I'm sure most people know, Blue Note is Capitol's jazz-oriented label and here they jumped on the
Xmas compilation bandwagon - with hip results!

Opening with one of my faves, Bobby Watson & Horizon's "Vauncing Chimes", a swingin', improvisational take on "Jingle Bells" (that adds a few other holiday numbers, as well), you get the idea right away - instrumental takes on some of your faves given a boppin' beat. Stanley Jordan does some sweet guitar riffin' on "Silent Night" and then Lou Rawls comes in for a vocal version of "The Christmas Song". There's a piano-driven medley of "I'll Be Home For Christmas" and "Sleigh Ride" from Eliane Elias that takes jazzy liberties with the melodies, followed by Chet Baker's fast-paced swing in "Winter Wonderland". It slows down again for another piano-laced number, Benny Green's "A Merrier Christmas" and then Dianne Reeves gives us a sweet vocal version of the same. More impressive guitar work on John Hart's ballad-y "O Tannenbaum" and then Count Basie really swings his "Jingle Bells" in a fine, live big band arrangement. Alvin and the Chipmunk's hit "Chipmunk Christmas" is given a new, instrumental life by John Scofield and Joey Calderazzo gives up a quiet, piano-led "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" that does build into a rollickin' session. Dexter Gordon chimes in with "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" while Benny Green does a quiet, atmospheric "Silent Night" before everything concludes with Rick Margitza's "Little Drummer Boy" that goes off into some wild, horn-deulin' territory.

A real quality comp here - more excellent Xmas cheer!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Blue Yule - Christmas Blues and R'n'B Classics

Unsurprisingly, this is one of my favorite Xmas comps, simply because the musical stylings are right up my alley.

Many of the tunes are take-offs of popular non-holidays songs, such as "Santa's Messin' With the Kid" by Eddie C. Campbell. Lightning Hopkins gives his usual stellar performance on his "Merry Christmas" and Canned Heat makes a boogie-fueled appearance on their "Christmas Blues" (which apparently, they also recorded with the Chipmunks!). Roy Milton's "Christmas Time Blues" swings in an r'n'b vein while Detroit Junior's "Christmas Day" is a sax-blowing stomper that will get ya dancin' under the mistletoe! Texas Pete Mayes and His Houserockers Blues Band does a nice, slow blues with some hot guitar on "Christmas Holidays" and Charles Brown makes his obligatory appearance with his classic "Merry Christmas Baby". Johnny and Edgar Winter both partake in the Insight's take on "Please Come Home For Christmas" and Big Jack Johnson's "Jingle Bell Boogie" isn't that far off from the Ventures in feel, though with more of a boogie swing.

There's a nice soulful r'n'b feel to Jimmy McCracklin's "Christmas Time - Pt. 1" while Louis Jordan is bluesier than ever on the horn-driven "Santa Claus, Santa Claus". The Voices' "Santa Claus Baby" is an early rock'n'roller and Jimmy Liggins and His Drops of Joy give a sultry swing to "I Want My Baby For Christmas". Sonny Boy Williamson gives his traditional blues-harp feel to his own "Santa Claus" and there's some terrific slow blues guitar in Poppa Hop and His Orchestra's "Merry Christmas Darling". Ya can't go wrong with John Lee Hooker and his "Blues For Christmas" is a nice groover with a full band so not nearly as minimalistic as some of his work, though no less terrific. There's a big change of pace in the slow, vocal chorus of The Pilgrim Travelers' ballad "I'll Be Home For Christmas" and the finale is the return of Lightning Hopkins and his "Happy New Year".

A great one to get you in the holiday spirit!

Soulful Christmas

This Time/Life Xmas selection is another nice compilation, although "soulful" is used fairly loosely,
though not completely inaccurately.

The great Fats Domino opens with his New Orleans-boogie-styled "Frosty the Snowman", followed by the true soul man Al Green and his "O Holy Night". Lou Rawls makes another appearance with his take on "The Little Drummer Boy" - this must appear on almost every comp - though I don't know that I've heard the Emotions soul ballad, "What Do the Lonely Do At Christmas" anywhere else. I don't normally associate "My Favorite Things" with Xmas, and the Whispers version is a bit too 80's-ish for my taste. The O'Jays' "Merry Christmas Baby" sounds a little (comparatively) new, as well, but works better, and Nancy Wilson's "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve" is a sweet ballad.

Al Green shows off his pipes again on a quiet "Silent Night" while Nat King Cole's "O Come All Ye Faithful" is pretty traditional and church-y. The O'Jays' round-singing on "Carol of the Bells' is quite nice and the Whispers' "This Christmas" is another good soul ballad. Everything ends up, appropriately enough, with Lou Rawls with "Auld Lang Syne".

More good stuff, again worth it, especially if you can find as a discounted price.

Billboard Greatest R'n'B Christmas Hits

Here's another fun one with more r'n'b/soulful goodness than your average Xmas outing.

This one opens with Johnny Moore's Three Blazers and the classic "Merry Christmas Baby", followed by the quieter "(It's Gonna Be A) Lonely Christmas" by the Orioles, the boppin' "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus" by Mabel Scott, Amos Milburn's sexy soul in "Let's Make Christmas Merry, Baby", the oft-heard but still cool "The Little Drummer Boy" by Lou Rawls, Brook Benten's "This Time of the Year" is a mellow, string-laden ballad, followed by doo-wop's Cadillac's jumpin' "Rudolph", and of course Chuck Berry gets in on the action with "Run Run Rudolph" while ya gotta dig the Jackson 5's "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and the proceedings finish up with Sister Rosetta Tharpe's surprisingly sweet'n'traditional "Silent Night".

This is another worthy holiday collection that can normally be had at a discounted price. A good addition to your seasonal sounds.

A Swingin' Christmas (various - EMI Capitol)

When Melanie worked for EMI in Hollywood, we gathered quite a few cool releases and this Xmas
CD was a nice addition to our collection of seasonal sounds. The title is quite appropriate, as the songs do indeed swing, with groovy vocal stylings by the likes of June Christy, the soulful Lou Rawls (with nice jazzy guitar work and some scat-singing), Peggy Lee (a little vanilla, but pertinent for "Jingle Bells"), Dean Martin's lascivious "Baby, It's Cold Outside", Lena Horne's jazzy soul take on "Rudolph", Les Browne's skillful guitar work on a big band version of "The Nutcracker Suite", Kay Starr does indeed swing with "(Everybody's Waitin' For) The Man With the Bag", of course, Louis Armstrong's "Zat You Santa Claus" is a true classic, Lena Horne returns for a well-deserved encore with "Let It Snow!" and closing with Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers "Jingle Bells".

Fun holiday cheer that's not nearly as cheesy as what you'll normally hear in the stores.

The Blues Album Cover Art - edited by Graham Marsh and Barrie Lewis

This 12x12 book gives you a nice collection of reproductions of blues album covers, from the famous to the obscure, in the many forms that this genre produced. Some are graphic-oriented, some include terrific portraits of the artists, some have hep paintings/drawings of the performers and some are simply atmospheric photos that the company hoped would portray the mood of the music. As this runs through the years, there are different artistic styles, as well, from modern art to psychedelic, and even comic book art - R. Crumb being one of the most famous examples.

The text is minimal and basic and the book overall lets the artwork speak for itself. Nice stuff which makes you want to search out the records and gives you graphic inspiration, as well. Very cool!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

recommended gigs

Friday Dec 12 - Delta Bombers, Hard Pipe Hitters, Mercy Music, Firewater Folklore, In Fugue Rayner at Artistic Armory

Saturday Dec 13 - the Psyatics at the Double Down
Saturday Dec 13 - the All Togethers at Bar and Bistro

Wednesday Dec 17 - Clydesdale  with Blair Dewane at the Griffin

Friday Dec 19 - the Astaires with Gloom Bloom and Monogrim at La Parranda

Saturday Dec 20 - The Swamp Gospel, The Gentlemen of Four Outs, The All Togethers, Penisula and Sleeping Ghost at the Double Down Saloon

Monday Dec 22 - Jinxy Bear, the All Togethers and Water Landing at the Bunkhouse
Monday Dec 22 - Laissez Fairs at Boomers

Friday Dec 26 - The Laissez Fairs and Astaires at the Bunkhouse - Beatles Tribute

Saturday Dec 27 - the All Togethers at the Pioneer Saloon

Sunday Dec 28 - the Astaires, the Night Times, No Tides, Gloom Bloom at the Bunkhouse

Wednesday Dec 31 - Delta Bombers with Nekromantics, Hard Fall Hearts, The Returners, Deadbeat Vultures, Dead at Midnight - Las Vegas Country Saloon
Wednesday Dec 31 - Boss Martians and Swank Bastards at the Double Down

Saturday Jan 3 - the Time Crashers comic + EP release show with 3d6, Under 15 Seconds, Safewerd and more at the Artistic Armory

Sunday Jan 4 - Midnight Clover at the Bunkhouse

Monday Jan 5 - Laissez Fairs at Boomers

Saturday Jan 10, 2015 - the Psyatics and the Lucky Cheats with the Dictators NYC at LV Country Saloon

Sunday Jan 11 - Alan Six, Eliza Battle and Ditch Diggers at the Bunkhouse

Friday Jan 16 - Swamp Pussy at Babe's Gentlemen's Club

Friday Jan 23 - the Unwieldies with Part Time Criminals and Sara Patterson at the Hard Hat

Thursday Jan 29 - the All Togethers at Velveteen Rabbit

Thursday Feb 5 - the Blasters and the Yawpers at Triple B

Sunday April 5 - the Sonics at Viva Las Vegas - Mardi Gras Ballroom

What have I forgotten? Lemme know!

for those from the Chicago area

A complete listing of Aragon Ballroom shows. Wow! I still have to see how many of these I attended, but I went as often as I could get to the big city!

A Vital Gesture Xmas Vol. 1

Hard to believe that it's been about 20 years or so since this stuff has been recorded - and, as far as I
know, there has never been a Volume 2, which is unfortunate! Tony Fate (Black Widows, Bell Rays, Grey Spikes, etc.) is the mastermind behind Vital Gesture Records and was involved, one way or another, with many of the songs on this fantastic holiday release.

Opening with the Bell Rays' amped-up version of "Merry Christmas Baby", you know that you're not in for the usual holiday cheer. This is a wild blast of rocket-fueled rock'n'soul that sets up the scene for the rest of the record. The Streetwalkin' Cheetahs follow with a Heartbreakers-esque original (with yours truly on bass - many of the tunes were recorded at the same session with interchangeable members) "I Wanna Die For Christmas", a hard-rockin' though silly number with great lines like "I wanna whole new face and identity, I wanna change my name on my fake ID"! The world's greatest instrumental group, the Black Widows (featuring members of the Bell Rays, Streetwalkin' Cheetahs and Alter Egos) give us the joyful "Christmas in July" and then my band at the time, the aforementioned Alter Egos (me, Melanie Bruck - now Coffee - and Mike Czejka), promote the reason for the season in a Ramones-crossed-with-Devo-crossed-with-Rich-Coffee "(Gimme Gimme) I've Been Good".

The Bell Rays return for a soulful, jazzy ballad about "Poor Old Rudolph" along with a blast of power-funk in "Gimme Some Funk For Christmas", which woulda been a hit in a better world - catchy as hell! With groovy bass, drivin' drums, wah-wahed guitar, melodically growling vocals and lines like "this is the season for giving, so give that damn funk to me", how could you not dig it? Bob Vennum (bassist for the Bell Rays) led the Snakes, where he played guitar and sang lead, and he is joined here by Lisa (vocalist for the Bell Rays) for the 50's-styled "Santa's Gonna Rock". Todd Westover's Doorslammer provides a ragged-y, punky take on the Kinks "Father Christmas" and then the Bell Rays return for a funky "Back Door Santa", told from a female's point of view. The wildest and hardest rockin' "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" you've ever heard is generously contributed by the Black Widows and Dr. Vibes' flying fingers. Fear's "Fuck Christmas" is revisited by the Streetwalkin' Cheetahs and "Rocket Ship Santa" is another new Christmas Classic from the Bell Rays. The Mellows (Bob & Tony) create a noise-dominated "Merry Christmas" before The Vital Gesture All-Stars close out the proceedings with the country-stylings of Frank Meyers' excellent "Christmastime Again".

I'm not sure of the availability of this release is any longer, but if you have a chance at all, be sure to pick this up to fill yourself with tidings and good cheer. Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

recommended gigs

Thursday Dec 4 - the All Togethers at the Velveteen Rabbit

Friday Dec 5 - Whiskey Breath, Duane Mark and El Maldonado at the Dive Bar
Friday Dec 5 - the All Togethers at Dillingers

Saturday Dec 6 - Love Me Nots at the Double Down with the Vermin
Saturday Dec 6 - Whiskey Breath at Mickey Finnz

Tuesday Dec 9 - Beau Hodges Band at Brooklyn Bowl

Friday Dec 12 - Delta Bombers, Hard Pipe Hitters, Mercy Music, Firewater Folklore, In Fugue Rayner at Artistic Armory

Saturday Dec 13 - the Psyatics at the Double Down
Saturday Dec 13 - the All Togethers at Bar and Bistro

Wednesday Dec 17 - Clydesdale  with Blair Dewane at the Griffin

Saturday Dec 20 - The Swamp Gospel, The Gentlemen of Four Outs, The All Togethers, Penisula and Sleeping Ghost at the Double Down Saloon

Monday Dec 22 - Jinxy Bear, the All Togethers and Water Landing at the Bunkhouse

Friday Dec 26 - The Laissez Fairs and Astaires at the Bunkhouse - Beatles Tribute

Saturday Dec 27 - the All Togethers at the Pioneer Saloon

Sunday Dec 28 - the Astaires, the Night Times, No Tides, Gloom Bloom at the Bunkhouse

Wednesday Dec 31 - Delta Bombers with Nekromantics, Hard Fall Hearts, The Returners, Deadbeat Vultures, Dead at Midnight - Las Vegas Country Saloon
Wednesday Dec 31 - Boss Martians and Swank Bastards at the Double Down

Saturday Jan 3 - the Time Crashers comic + EP release show with 3d6, Under 15 Seconds, Safewerd and more at the Artistic Armory

Saturday Jan 10, 2015 - the Psyatics and the Lucky Cheats with the Dictators NYC at LV Country Saloon

Sunday Jan 11 - Alan Six, Eliza Battle and Ditch Diggers at the Bunkhouse

Friday Jan 23 - the Unwieldies with Part Time Criminals and Sara Patterson at the Hard Hat

Thursday Jan 29 - the All Togethers at Velveteen Rabbit

Sunday April 5 - the Sonics at Viva Las Vegas - Mardi Gras Ballroom

What have I forgotten? Lemme know!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

The Gizmos, John Krautner, Feelings, Melkbelly, Toupee at the Good Vibes Festival at the Empty Bottle, Chicago, 11-29-14

Despite growing up right outside of Chicago and seeing lots of shows there as well as playing in numerous bands up until the summer of 1979, I never had a chance to play in the city - until now, with the Gizmos!


Being Thanksgiving weekend, I spent some of the time with family in the area and some sight-seeing in Chi-town. Even got to the Art Institute and Chicago Music Exchange before heading to the Empty Bottle on Saturday for sound check and hanging out. The Bottle is a good sized dive bar with a big stage and a great - albeit LOUD - sound system. Nice people all around and sound men who knew what they were doing - amazing!


Starting out the live music for the night (in between was some swingin' sounds by the Absolutely Not DJs) was Toupee, a female fronted goth/thrash group which reminded me of a mix of Siouxie (first album, especially), 45 Grave and death metal. The singer (they seem to go by pseudonyms on their FB page so I won't give away her real identity) came on stage in a cowl, mask and fangs and would alternately sing and growl, and also played bass at times, giving a two guitar attack to the band. Dramatic, creepy and noisy!


Up next was Melkbelly (no idea of the significance of the name), also female fronted, but this femme played guitar as well as singing lead and added plenty of licks and leads along with the other guitarist. The sound was clamorous new/no-wave with lots of effects and thunderously pounding drums. Melanie came up with a Pixies reference, which struck me as accurate, as well. A good mix of their influences. I would have liked to have seen a little more stage presence, as they appeared to be rooted into place, but cool stuff.


Feelings, from Detroit, followed with a grunge-like sound - I heard bits'n'pieces of Nirvana (the singer/guitarist even played a Fender and wore a baggy sweatshirt with long, stringy hair) and Flop (an old fave) - poppy yet edgy/punky/rockin'. Dug their sound, though again, not very visual.



John Krautner played in Detroit's pop-rock combo The Go (Jack White's first - I think - project) and continues with the sound in this solo project. Aided by cool cat Justin Walker on lead guitar/backing vocals and Ben Luckett and Stephen Nawara on bass & drums, John conjures a 70's power-pop sound with lots of harmonies and tasty guitar licks. Perfect, high-energy drums and walking bass lines drive the tunes while the vocals give it all a fun summertime feel - despite being in the 30's outside! Bonus points for a bitchin' cover of "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'" to round out the set!






The Gizmos had another cool'n'chaotic set of (almost) all of the songs from our first three EPs, along with Ted Niemiec's new tune, "Around", Eddie's Crawlspace number "The Devil Talks in Tongues" and bassist Craig Bell's "Final Solution". The audience reaction was terrific and again we got plenty of people to sing along with "Muff Divin'"! Adding to the madness was promoter Karissa Talanian joining us on drums for "Pumpin' to Playboy" (as drummer Kelsey moved to guitar) and a good time was had by all! Nice ending to the 2014 Gizmos World Tour! Let's see what 2015 brings!




BIG thank you to Karissaand the Empty Bottle for making this happen and for being a swingin' spot for a groovy Good Vibes Festival!


RIP Ian McLagan

Son-of-a-bitch - Ian, too!

---
Ian McLagan: 1945-2014
---
Of course, I heard the Small Faces on the radio in the 60's, but really became familiar with the individuals as the Faces and always dug Ian's style - and, of course, the Faces' drunken antics.
Sad...

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

RIP Bobby Keys

Rolling Stones Saxophonist Bobby Keys Dead at 70


---
I always loved his additions to the Stones' work ("Brown Sugar" is probably the best sax solo in r'n'r), as well as everyone else that he has worked with (damn near too many to name). Another talent taken far too young.

Just read his bio last year - good stuff.