Still a bit under the clouds this week. I was actually in bed watching March Madness basketball when I heard the news—Chuck Berry has “bought the farm.” Hearing the news, I wasn’t shocked or sad. I just immediately flashed to my childhood.
In those days we still had drive-in movies. Parents would dump all the kids in the car and hit the asphalt for a double-header of B flicks. Two of the films that became influences on me from that era were Woodstock and a film called Let The Good Times Roll.
At age 10, I simply loved ’50s revivals. I would bug mom to take me to Madison Square Garden to see concerts stacked with the likes of Chuck, Bo Diddley, Bill Haley & The Comets, Little Richard, The Coasters, The Shirelles, Johnny Maestro, and others!
The first time I saw Devin Townsend perform live was when he was hand selected by Steve Vai as the vocalist for Vai’s landmark album Sex and Religion and the tour that would follow.
That was back in 1993 at Mississippi Nights in St. Louis. I remember the show being epic as one would expect from a Vai show, but the bigger question was who in the hell was this insane singer that looked like a superhero and sang like a prog-rock version of Mike Patton? This guy’s voice went from gorgeous soaring highs to razor-sharp screams in a split second. It was the perfect complement to Vai’s eclectic, mind-bending soundscapes, but that wouldn’t last long.
A year or so later I got a copy of Townsend’s new band Strapping Young Lad in the mail at the record store I worked at. I think it was part of the Concrete Corner program. I put this thing on inside the store and scared the shit out of every person who was shopping at the time. This was by far the heaviest thing I had ever heard in my life, and it had a huge wall of sound layered harmonies. It was as if Queen had been crossed with Pantera but then stuck to the front of a Mack truck and driven through a brick wall at an insanely high speed. In other words, it was awesome.
Sometimes an idea is so good there’s just no stopping it. When New Orleans musician and chef Jamie Galloway (pictured below) passed away on February 23, 2013 of a medical problem that was most likely treatable, Dave Jordan, his friend and musical partner of many years, decided he had to do something to keep other musicians from falling through the health care safety net.
Thus, Jamie’s Big Ass Party was born. Tickets are available here. Created to honor the legacy of Galloway, the event, which is now in it’s fifth year, is a benefit for the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic and a great block party. It takes place Sunday afternoon in the 8300 block of Oak Street and at the Maple Leaf Bar.
The Big Ass Party is also a massive crawfish boil party with some of New Orleans’ best musicians playing inside and outside the saloon. Expect over 2,000 pounds of mudbugs and numerous musical jams.
Jordan’s band, the Neighborhood Improvement Association, will play, as will George Porter, Jr. and Runnin’ Partners, the Honey Island Swamp Band, Papa Mali, Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, the New Orleans Suspects, Billy Iuso and Restless Natives, the Soul Brass Band, Flow Tribe plus lots of special guests. There are special VIP tickets available with a private crawfish table and beer all day.
Tokyo Taboo are kicking and screaming their way into the year with their debut album 6th Street Psychosis. The London duo, Dolly Daggerz and Mike, may present themselves as yet another post pop punk band “with attitude,” but never judge a band by their hair dye.
Front woman Dolly Daggerz snarls through each song, with an opening to remember on track “Make It Out Alive”—“Will I make it out of my life alive, I’ve got twenty-three hours when I wanna die.” The album is full of the energy of youth, the wonder and confusion of being a twenty-something, and is a little näive at times but, despite this, each track on the album is a rollocking ride through Dolly Daggerz brain.
Ending with “Pussy Power,” Dolly concludes the release on a powerful, feminist note—unashamed to wear her feminist heart on her bloodied sleeve. Politics is explored a little on the album in between the Dolly’s impassioned musings on life and hopefully “Pussy Power” denotes the tone of what’s to come.
6th Street Psychosis is a little young in places and doesn’t quite hit the mark all the way through, but when you cut through the clashing colours and high-energy pop punk, there’s a lot more to Tokyo Taboo than meets the eye. Dolly has survived her mid twenties blues but she’s done analysing herself, instead she’s beginning to look at the world around her and she’s incensed at what she sees, and it’s through music that the band will make their statement. And all power to them.
To be sure, it’s a rare occasion when entire music scenes are ignited by an individual, and it’s even rarer when said artist just so happens to be an expat from Michigan immersed in medical studies nearly ten thousand miles across the planet, which is a roundabout way of saying Deniz Tek ranks among the most transformative figures in the history of Australian music.
Hailing from the rock ’n’ roll capital of the world, Ann Arbor, Tek was groomed on the frenzied sounds and performances of local pioneering groups such as the Stooges and the Rationals before making the permanent move to Sydney in 1972. It was here that Tek set out to create a band so uncompromising in both power and energy that the mainstream contingent of the country would be utterly confounded and, just maybe, incensed. The result was Radio Birdman.
Formed in ’74 by Tek and fellow outcast Rob Younger, Radio Birdman quickly emerged as the preeminent rock ’n’ roll band in Australia, and it’s only fitting that the name itself is the product of a misheard Stooges’ lyric. With Tek as the chief songwriter and lead guitarist, the band seamlessly coalesced the essential components of Motor City rock with the equally feverish speed and style of surf music to establish a sound that remains completely unique and nonpareil. Following releases of the EP “Burn My Eye” in ’76 and the absolute blitz-of-an-album Radios Appear the following year, the band ended up label-less and financially abandoned, extinguishing their future plans and leading to a wealth of different projects for all involved.
Tek would soon form the Visitors and then, alongside Younger and Birdman bassist Warwick Gilbert, the Sydney-Ann Arbor supergroup known as New Race, which included two pivotal names (and heroes to Radio Birdman) in rock history: Ron Asheton of the Stooges and Dennis Thompson of the MC5. Egregiously, though intentionally, short-lived, New Race put out just a single live record documenting a month-long tour in 1981 before its members opted to pursue other endeavors.
Between his return to the medical world as a US Navy flight surgeon and continued music projects with Deep Reduction, the Deniz Tek Group, and the lost experimental group Glass Insects, Tek maintained a tight schedule to say the least.
In 2006, Radio Birdman reunited to record for the first time in almost thirty years, creating Zeno Beach, and, after a solo hiatus in the latter half of the 2000s, Tek returned to the studio with Career Records, producing two solo albums, Detroit in 2013 and Mean Old Twister just this past year. Moreover, his recent collaboration with the Stooges’ James Williamson, Acoustic K.O., is due out in just a couple of weeks. Paired with some nonstop performing in Europe, as well as an Australian tour with Radio Birdman in June, Tek is still doing more than his share to keep the flame alive.
We recently caught up with him to discuss everything from vinyl lathes and the Sydney scene that Birdman revolutionized to the fabled history of his Epiphone Crestwood and a late ’60s Detroit radio station with a penchant for Captain Beefheart.
It’s definitely tricky to keep everything straight considering just how diverse your activities have been over the years. I’ve always been curious as to when you actually started serving as a flight surgeon in the Navy. Was it just after your time with New Race?
It was, yes. The New Race tour was in April and May of 1981, and I started flight surgeon school on the first of July, so it really was right after that.
I know you were in medical studies at New South Wales right before Radio Birdman got going, so was it always on your radar to go into a related line of work at some point or another?
Well I never expected to be able to earn a living playing music. I realized early on that the kind of stuff we were doing was never going to be commercial, and I had no desire to conform my songwriting or playing to anybody’s idea of a marketing plan. I was always going to need another job, let’s put it that way.
Before we get around to plumbing the infamous depths of The Residents’ 1976 LP The Third Reich ‘n Roll, let us pause for this news bulletin: Hitler Cancels Comeback Tour
According to his record label, Adolf Hitler has decided to cancel his planned worldwide “2017 I’m Back! Tour” due to poor ticket sales. We caught up to the former Nazi dictator and Arista Records recording artist at his compound in remote Bolivia. Here’s what he had to say.
So what happened?
AH: I’m not going to lie and say I’m not disappointed. I could feed you a line of BS about how this will give me the opportunity to explore the limits of my talents in more intimate settings. No. I played the beer halls of Munich and I’m not going back. Let that washed-up hack Mussolini go rinky-dink. My ukulele-heavy sound would blow the windows out of your average Rathskeller, that is if Rathskellers had windows. I need arenas. Nuremberg Rally size arenas.
Have you given any thought to joining Josef Stalin and Idi Amin on their “Monsters of History” tour?
AH: Anyone who knows me will tell you I would never compromise my dictatorial credibility by joining such a circus. I am an artist and I will not perform alongside a cannibal. That said, I rather liked Stalin’s most recent release. I think his take on “Ventura Highway” stands up to the version by America.
Northfield Record Store Set to Close Their Doors for Good: There will be one less record store open for business when Record Store Day 2017 rolls around on April 22nd. This special day is partially responsible for a recent resurgence in good old vinyl. The Press of Atlantic City is reporting that Tunes located in the Center Point Plaza shopping center on Rt. 9 will be closing its doors for good this Sunday (March 26).
Defend Vinyl’s Graham Jones – “I’d always wanted to open a record shop”: With Defend Vinyl having opened its doors on Smithdown Road, Getintothis’ Paul Higham met with Graham Jones to chat all things record shop related. If there has been much talk of the vinyl revival in recent years then equally Smithdown Road is currently experiencing something of a renaissance, with a number of exciting new businesses opening and thriving in the vibrant south Liverpool thoroughfare. Late in 2016 the twin forces coalesced with the opening of a new record shop catering exclusively to Liverpool’s vinyl enthusiasts, Defend Vinyl.
Sunrise Record Store Coming To Lansdowne Place Mall: Sunrise: Canada’s Record Store has updated their list of locations they’re expanding to, and it now includes Lansdowne Place Mall in Peterborough. Sunrise—which features independent music on CD and vinyl, DVD movies and pop culture toys, games and apparel—made the announcement of updated locations, including LP, on Wednesday (March 22nd). No word yet when exactly it is opening at LP, but new stores start rolling out in April. This is great news for the mall, which recently lost HMV when it went bankrupt and closed its stores across Canada. Part of Sunrise’s success will be capitalizing on the resurgence of vinyl.
Vinyl Records? – Right on!: Among the old buildings of the Herndon Historic District sit the town’s Depot Museum, the Washington and Old Dominion Caboose and the Old Town Hall. Nearby, a new store has opened across the street that sells an invention that would seem to fit in, since it was conceived during the late 1800s. Next to the Roaches in the Attic antique store on Elden Street is a new vinyl record store. While listening to music from the spiral grooves of a vinyl is a timeworn occurrence, the young proprietor of the small store does not consider his wares to be antiquities. Garin Pappas, 23, opened Right On! Records and started selling, buying and exchanging 12-inch albums in a small space on the second floor of 731 Elden St. on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. A ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony took place on Sunday, March 12.
VIA PRESS RELEASE | “There may not have been a more versatile or accomplished musician in all rock ‘n’ roll.”
Marhall Blonstein’s Audio Fidelity is releasing Leon Russell’s self-titled debut album on 180g blue translucent vinyl with gatefold sleeve! One of the most startling original debut albums ever, Leon Russell was the culmination of many years apprenticeship behind-the-scenes of the music business where he was a well-known and long-respected figure. As one of the most accomplished musicians to emerge from the ’60s music scene, Leon Russell proved equally accomplished as a singer, guitarist, keyboard player, composer, and producer.
Combing those skills after many years as a touring musician and in Hollywood recording studios, Russell emerged in the ’70s as one of rock’s true renaissance men. On this recording, Russell was surrounded by a cast of top-level musicians including Chris Stainton and Alan Spenner, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, Klaus Voorman, Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett, Jim Gordon, Bobby Whitlock, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, B.J. Wilson, Joe Cocker, and back-up singers Merry Clayton and Clydie King. Among the wonderful songs included are “Delta Lady,” his standard-to-be, “A Song For You,” and “Hummingbird.”
PHOTO: RICK MOORE | Guitarist, singer and songwriter Marc Stone will be leading his all-star band this Friday night at D.B.A. featuring one of the unsung heroes of New Orleans music along with the three trombonists who make up the front line of Bonerama.
Guitarist Eric Struthers has a deep resume in New Orleans. He played with Dr. John and the Neville Brothers. His recording credits include four albums with the Nevilles in the 1990s including the stellar Live on Planet Earth and more recently he appeared on Michael McDonald’s Christmas album.
It’s going to be interesting to see what the two guitarists can conjure up. Stone promises, “stretching into some heavy psychedelic zones.” The Bonerama Horns—Mark Mullins, Craig Klein, and Greg Hicks—are no slackers when it comes to getting down either.
“The first album that had a tremendous impact was Dirty Mind by Prince.”
“It’s actually a memory burned into my consciousness. I remember fumbling through my stepfather’s record collection and picking up the album cover. I was probably 4 or 5 and a very curious child. I remember being puzzled. Was I looking at a man or woman? Or really, what was I seeing? My stepdad saw me holding that record sleeve and decided to complete the experience and played it for me. Let me tell you that a mushroom cloud effect happened in my brain.
Another turning point in my musical journey was when I discovered Dave Matthews. There was this girl from Missouri who was also a camp counselor at all Jewish camp in upstate PA. We’d sit and listen to her music collection in her car and make out. Her favorite artist was the Dave Matthews Band. Her first selection was Under The Table and Dreaming.
I remember it being an aha moment. I had not quite heard a band sound like that. The second DMB album that really got me hooked was These Crowded Streets. This featured a collaboration with a largely unknown Alanis Morrisette on a song called Spoon. Gorgeous tune. I listened to that over and over.