Thursday, August 27, 2009

Keep Ta Boogie

Well, if it's Thursday, it must be Deep Blues Thursday, where we strip away the glossy sheen and wankery of soccer mom blues and give you a shot of hot swamp-stringed, mud-crusted Blues goodness.

As ever, this wouldn't exist without the loving hand of The Deep Blues Festival. Keep yr ears and eyes peeled for more info on that venture.

Today we've got the legendary Illinois John Fever. Why legendary? Well that's for you to determine when you check out the interview and tunes to follow. Oh, and they played with a feller you all know and love in a moment us non-Mississippians will rarely if ever experience again. Read on for more info on that.

Illinois John Fever play a kickin'n'stompin' brand of Hill Country Blues, all rhythm and loose-string, dead fish thwacked trap kit howl, whiskey soaked and soul saturated. We really dug these cats in the two instances we got to check 'out. They're a band you're gonna hear more about in the coming days, guaranteed.


Is there really a guy named Illinois John Fever? Can a man walk a crossroads without eating with a fork? What does Pussy Galore have to do with all this? Read on, dear reader, read on.

1. First off, tell us about yourselves. Who are you?

Lute Tucker and Bobber Hall started playing together in August of ’06 and brought Dustin Busch in last February. We play pre-electric/post-punk blues but playing all-acoustic is what sonically sets us apart from most acts, blues or otherwise. You could call it apocalypse blues, given its perverse meditations, but as for the mythology...well, we’ll let John get to that in a minute.

2. At the Deep Blues Festival, you were part of an iconic moment, providing guitar backing and rhythmic flourishes to an impromptu performance by T-Model Ford. Tell us about that moment. How did it come to pass?

It's easier bringing the music to the people than it is bringing the people out to the music. We also recognize the roots of this music come from casual settings—from the field, the porch, the afternoon picnic, from the tobacco barn, the living room, the street, etc.—and the importance of experiencing the music that way removes the imaginary line between performers and observers, encouraging the spontaneity of the moment for everybody. So we work hard staying versatile, playing everywhere between the club and the couch, and we came to Deep Blues ready to play as often as we could, wherever we were. That said, the first night was winding down and we'd grabbed our gear to busk in front of the Cabooze, but the manager put us in the beer garden instead. As for T-Model coming to check us out and then asking for a guitar, we were just doing our thing in the right place at the right time, and we're grateful he took us along for the ride. And there's a whole line of people to thank for setting that all up, starting with Chris Johnson. In a larger context, we all experience the inevitability of tradition—that the torches will pass onto those willing to bear them—and that this is really what Chris set into motion by creating the Deep Blues Festival, and in bring all of us together. That man is making history-in-action, you just watch.

3. You're based out of Iowa City. Whence comes the name "Illinois" John Fever. Who is John Fever? Are you feeling ill?

For the record, none of us goes by John Fever. He’s an archetype, a spirit conjured up. His real name is John McKinney, and we make space for him the way some folks set a place for Elijah, which is an appropriate comparison. As for the ILLINOIS, Lute Tucker earned that growing up in Chicago. But we use it in the tradition of setting bluesmen apart—not through personal nicknames but as regionally distinguished remarks in recording catalogs. So in his full suit, ILLINOIS JOHN FEVER reminds us that we aren’t authors of anything, that we are just transmitters of certain ideas, mere observers of the music.

4. Where do you draw inspiration? Who are your influences?

Scenes of carnage and fiery revolt are a good place to start. Severed fingers marked with voters’ ink. We celebrate just about anyone righteously standing up in the face of violence. We embrace the totality of the world despite being infinite souls trapped in limited bodies. We listen to a lot of Fred McDowell, Booker White, and Willie McTell, but we’ll listen to everything. This very moment, it’s the Pussy River Bawlers. We like John Jackson and stuff out of Virginia, and Georgia. “Monologue on Accidents” is a vibrant recording of John Lomax grilling Willie McTell on whether he’s ever recorded any “complaining songs.” At Parchman Farm, Lomax’s son Alan recorded D.W. ’Bama Stuart singing “I’m Going Home.” We’re struck by these. But we also love Funkadelic, Royal Trux, Violent Femmes, Big Black, and any afrofunk. Lute Tucker suggests everybody read anything by Chester Himes. Our favorite movie is REPO MAN, and we think sushi is delicious.

5. You're all relatively young, at least so far as Blues musicians go. Some would argue that you have to have lived a "full" life, whatever that means, to really understand the Blues. Do you feel that this is true, or do you find a universal in the form that can appeal along a broad spectrum of ages and experience?

Understanding the blues is about understanding human emotion. And it’s not so much having experienced one thing or another, but how you respond to the world as it presents itself. With the blues, this becomes personal expression. There’s other details—technical proficiency, adept lyrics, bad-ass street cred. But as with most matters of survival, the ability to respond to the on-going situation is most important. Playing live therefore becomes a living metaphor, and we can appreciate that as well as anybody.

6. How did you come to be involved in the Deep Blues Festival? What are your fondest memories of the Fest?

Friends attended the first year and we were lucky that Chris Johnson asked us to play the next. But we were especially happy returning in 2009—the deal with T-Model was a total cosmic fluke and it set us up for the best weekend of our lives. The highlight was playing outside the hotel Saturday night, jumping into a great big river of sound with seven-plus guitars, one dobro, multiple percussionists, multiple folks blowing harp, an old National getting played, and then Gabe wandering up barefoot and in his jammies, stomping clapping and hollering. Folks came from all over the world to engage in that moment, and that exchange of ideas is an important part of the music we appreciate and play.

7. What kind of audience do you hope to draw? What will it take to bring your brand of Blues to the masses?

Hippies with trust funds. As for the masses, David Geffen would have to put the $15-million on that horse.

8. What is the band's drink of choice?

In order of volumes consumed: water, coffee, PBR, any proper whiskey.

9. How many roads must a man walk down? And which roads should he take? Is there really a crossroads, or is it just a fork in the road?

There are as many crossroads as you are able to recognize. Our only problem on the road is our inability to recognize the multiplicity of the crossroads.

10. What's next for Illinois John Fever? Record? Tour? Pimp yourselves here.

We’ve always been writing new songs, and adding Dustin to our lineup has only increased that potential. And while the plan had been to record our first album, we’ve mostly been working on the new material. So that’s the new plan: write more songs, record more songs. But most important we’d like to keep making connections with like-minded folks supporting the kind of music we enjoy. You are a good example of such folks, and thanks for having us aboard.

The following tunes are from their cd "Our Own Pirated Idaho", which you can beg or plead for from the band at their website.

Illinois John Fever: Keep Ta Boogie If Ye Like (mp3)

Illinois John Fever: West Coast Blues (mp3)

Illinois John Fever: Wonderland Boogie (mp3)

Support your local rawk, man. It's better than a stadium.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sixual Healing

Ooops. We missed our Deep Blues Thursday post. The fault is entirely mine. We'll make it up to you over the next few weeks.

As a reward for your patience, we're gonna offer up another of our world famous 6 Packs for your weekend enjoyment. 6 fantastic tunes pulled from a variety of vinyl rekkid sources, of the 7, 10 or 12 inch persuasion. It's all about the love, baby.

We've got the Box Elders kicking things off with a jaunty organ-drenched number from their brand spanking new record, Alice and Friends. Old friend Dave Dudley checks in next with a swellegant tale of altered consciousness, off the album "One More Mile". Next, imagine if Bobby Dylan were a Scotchguard-huffing laddie lad. That's what you get with The Strange Boys in a tune off their "...And Girls Club" LP. After that Red Sovine wants to send a message, courtesy of "Tell Maude I Slipped". Got a god-fearing and god-loving b-side by the mighty '68 Comeback, from their 7", "Flip, Flop, Fly". And finally, from before rural psych was a hipster's wet dream, there was The Strapping Fieldhands. From their record Discus, a warped little pastoral about...well, you tell us.

Songs are arranged in no order whatsoever, other than some weird internal mix tape obsessing. So check 'em all out, and hand out copies to yr friends.

Box Elders: Death Of Me (mp3)

Dave Dudley: When I Get Back To Normal (mp3)

Strange Boys: This Girl Taught Me A Dance (mp3)

Red Sovine: Tell Maude I Slipped (mp3)

'68 Comeback: He's My Everything (mp3)

Strapping Fieldhands: Boo Hoo Hoo (mp3)

Local. Independent.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Livin' It Up

Hey Wino's! We've got 5, count 'em, 5 versions of one of the greatest drinking songs ever written over at Barstool Mountain! Just sayin', you know, maybe you might want to check it out.

Now, then, today we come to sing the praises of Lady Dottie and the Diamonds.

I picked up their cd on a whim, and I gotta tell ya, brothers and sisters, I was completely blown away. We're gonna indulge in a little (very deserved) hyperbole here, so brace yourselves.

Forget about the Detroit Cobras and any other half-baked "R'n'B" bar bands with "indie" cred and a singer who thinks she's Laverne Baker, Lady Dottie and the Diamonds are the real deal.

Straight outta San Diego, the Diamonds are a slanky, slinky, sweaty, stoned soul picnic, the Stooges meets the Staple Singers, and all points in between. They're everything you demand from a Rhythm and Blues band borne of the darkest dive, layering on groove upon groove of loud'n'bawdy soul sleaze.

And then there's Lady Dottie herself. This aint no warbly pussy shit you hear called Soul nowadays. Lady Dottie howls, growls and yowls her way through the record, all swagger and deep-husked rapture, the second coming wrapped with in the devil's hand, a voice that makes you want to fuck and say fuck you. A force of deep-Soul grunt and gravel, and truly the best vocal performance we've heard in years. Her voice give us feelings, if you know what I mean.

It's jukejoint music, at the end of the day, the kind of music that swings you low, and moves you up. There's nothing better.

There are mp3's below this, but keep in mind that this is an independent, unsigned (as far as we know) band. If you like what you hear, please consider picking up their record, which you can find here. I guarantee you'll be glad you did.

Lady Dottie and the Diamonds: I Aint Mad At Ya (mp3)

Lady Dottie and the Diamonds: Livin' It Up (mp3)

As ever, and we can't say this enough, please support your local independent record stores and artists. Yr local band could use all the support they can get.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Let Your Light Shine On Me

Very sad news. Jim Dickinson died this past weekend. He was 68.

What does this mean, exactly, and why should you care?

Well, first off, and most generically, he was the producer for two classic records that all y'all probably own and worship...Third/Sister Lovers by Big Star and Pleased To Meet Me by the Replacements. That alone should make you sit up and take notice, but there's more, so much more, to Mr. Dickinson's career.

As a producer he was behind the boards for such artists as Mudhoney, the recently deceased Willy DeVille, Green on Red, Mojo Nixon, The Replacements, Tav Falco's Panther Burns, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, T Model Ford, and Lucero, amongst many, many others. As a performer, primarily piano, he featured on such records as the Rolling Stone's "Wild Horses" and Bob Dylan's "Time Out of Mind". He played with Ry Cooder and The Flamin' Groovies. The list goes on and on...

As a performer, Dickinson released a slew of solo albums under his own name and as a member ofMud Boy and the Neutrons, and collaborated with Spectrum on a brilliant Southern Drone record entitled Spectrum Meets Captain Memphis.

Oh, and he has a couple sons, Luther and Cody, who are in a little band called North Mississippi Allstars. You might have heard of 'em...

We're only scratching the surface here, and a google search will give you so much more of Dickinson's contributions to the rocking and rolling.

We never met Mr. Dickinson, never spoke with him or asked him stories about his life and career. We're only left with speculation about a man with whom the heart of Memphis and Southern Soul seemed deeply ingrained. What he brought to his production, to our ears, was a sense of Rock and Soul as a way of life, an innate feel for the rhythms and sounds of the world outside his window, the stuff of life winnowed into a three-minute amalgam of guitar, bass, drums, and a voice crying mercy, mercy me.

We could probably have been hipper and more obscure in our music selection today. But why? Search out Mr. Dickinson, and you'll be rewarded. Today we've got a couple of our favorite songs from his two most "famous" productions. We've got our favorite Mud Boy and Neutrons song, and we've got a track from his aforementioned Spectrum collaboration. Seems, unintentionally, these tunes work to create a farewell of sorts. How about that.

RIP, Jim Dickinson.

Mud Boy and the Neutrons: Let Your Light Shine On Me (mp3)

Replacements: Can't Hardly Wait (mp3)

Big Star: Thank You Friends (mp3)

Jim Dickinson w/Spectrum: 'Til Your Mainline Comes (mp3)

Please support your local, independent records stores. Just seems to be the right thing to do. I dunno.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Omelettes and Whiskey

All right, you rock'n'roll cats, it's time for another installment in our ongoing Deep Blues Thursdays. If I could only tell you how many great artists we've got lined up with interviews, promos, and general goodness, well...that would be telling. Bate your breath.

Before we hit up today's cover stars, we'd be remiss if we didn't throw out a shout to the mighty Chris Johnson, founder of the Deep Blues Festival, who made all this possible by putting on the best damn festival in the land. He made it possible for us to meet all these cats, and the gift keeps giving.

Today, we've got Boston's finest Deep Punk Blues merchants, The Ten Foot Polecats! Swell mp3's, courtesy of the band, follow the interview.

Guitarist Jim Chilson, besides being a prime ambassador for the Deep Blues movement, and an all-around good guy, was kind enough to answer the interview questions below, and he basically has told you all you need to know about the band and their mission to kick yr sweaty rump out the door and into the street pogo-shimmying the night away. So, I'm just gonna give you a few personal experiences.

I saw the Ten Foot Polecats twice during the Deep Blues Fest, once at the fest and later at an after-show shindig at Palmers, mostly on the recommendation of long-time reader and friend, John From Milwaukee, who joined us at the Fest. Both sets blew our minds. But it was the Palmer's show that really stroked our pole.

Playing the floor, at audience level, in a dank and packed dive bar, the Polecats really showed their swagger. Lead singer Jay Scheffler menaced and prowled the floor, swinging the mic like a wolf (howlin'?), his voice a growl into a wail, all desperation, sex, and booze, chewing of slices of deep south gristle, moaning and cajoling. Jim Chilson attacked his guitar like a man possessed by the spirit of the Delta mud, peeling thick strains of boogie rumble out of his innocent guitar, cranking out a godhead of silt, sand, and salvation. And drummer Dave Darling beat the skins like the ultimate cave man madman, intent on the destruction world through the pounding rhythm of soul. Everything was so in tune with it's surroundings, and the spirit of the moment, that some folks were even moved to hit the floor in abeyance to the power of the gods that moved these three humble men to send grown men to the floor(see the interview below for an "accounting" of the moment, of sorts). Some god moves in mysterious ways and we believe he or she was channeling through The Ten Foot Polecats that night, taking us to a rapture beyond belief.

Oh, and we had the opportunity to hang with the Polecats at various times throughout the weekend, and a nicer bunch of guys you would never hope to meet. That's the sign of great band...they'll give you a sweat-soaked firestorm of a performance, and then they'll have a beer with you afterward. That's what it's all about cats and kittens. That's what it's all about.

Before we hit the interview, we're gonna tell you that our "free" Big Rock Candy Mountain promo for this post will come in a couple of weeks. It's gonna involve their current e.p., Sterno Soup and another special gift for you, the reader. But if you can't wait, and the mp3's aren't enough, contact the band at one of the sites/email addresses listed after the interview and beg them for more. We'll honor your purchase down the line.

Now then...

A Ten Foot Polecats Interview (In which we discuss omelettes and whiskey)

1.First off, give us your generic origin story. Where do you come from? Why are you? Feel free at this point to give the god's honest truth or create your own mythology.

The Ten Foot Polecats are Jay Scheffler (vox and harp), Jim Chilson (Guitar), Dave Darling (Drums). We are three piece band from the Boston Massachusetts that played together previously in another Boston blues band that played more “standard blues songs”.
Considering the previous band we were in did not seem to progress to the type of blues we really wanted to play, and plus we didn’t want to play classic rock covers that the band now wanted to play, we left the band to pursue a more unique and original blues sound that I think we were always itching to do. Jay and I were actually playing in an acoustic duo that was playing Delta and Hill Country music in a local high end restaurant for about 2 months before we left the previous project. I found it very interesting to play this sometimes cryptic music to people waiting for their Prime Rib or Chocolate Mousse….I found it humorous to sometimes see people finally realize what the lyrics were and look puzzled. Needless to say that didn’t last too long as the restaurant wanted “lighter” material. But after thinking about it we said let’s get Dave to play drums to get a full sound, electrify it, and try this out at venues. After that The Ten Foot Polecats were born.

2. Labels are a pain in the ass, but since we as a society like safe, compartmentalized categories, tell us what kind of music you play. Please feel free to add as many descriptors as you want, or feel free to give us your opinion on musical labels in general.

Basically we play North Mississippi Hill Country Blues (generally) with an aggressive punk attitude. It is interesting you bring up labels because a lot of people who are in this “genre” don’t know what to call it and where it starts and ends. More reasons to why labels on music really blow. I tend to call the style we play, Deep Punk Blues. Why I add in Deep to the title? Mainly because in reference to the style Blues which is more in-line with the original Mississippi & Delta styles rather than Chicago, West Coast, Uptown or whatever blues.

3. You're based out of Boston. Do you find the city receptive to your style, whatever that is? Or do you find a larger fan base outside of the city?

Actually it has really done well in the neighboring city in Massachusetts, Worcester, which seems to have a closer knit music scene. It has done better there than in Boston, but in Boston it has done better than we expected. At first we were doubtful that people in Boston would “get it” as a lot of the blues or blues influenced bands in Boston are of the Chicago Blues, Uptown/Jump Blues, Texas Blues, and Rock Blues. But as it turns out a lot of the real Blues fans have really enjoyed the sound and also we have had more younger fans coming to shows. It seems like we have a cross over audience in the works with the punk-a-billy/psychobilly fans as we have been booked on bills with those type bands, which is really pleasing. We have had more people approach us at shows wondering about the sound and where it comes from, and why we don’t have a bass player and why I play a 5-string guitar, etc……..and we are very happy to tell them all about it.

4. Generic question #2: Who are your influences?

What we like to say is basically anyone that originated from Mississippi. However, to be more specific we are heavily influenced by the North Mississippi Hill Country artists: RL Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Rober Belfour, Mississippi Fred McDowell, T-Model Ford, along with other artists such as Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Blind Willie Johnson, Skip James, Hound Dog Taylor and so many more. I could go on forever on this one.

5. How did you come to be involved with/play at the Deep Blues Fest? What are your best memories of the Fest?

We became involved through the power of myspace unbelievably enough. A former Massachusetts resident named Stacy De Hart saw us online and said we have to come play the club she was booking for in Cottage Grove, Oregon called “The Axe and Fiddle”. After thinking about it we said, yeah why not? Let’s hit the road! So we booked a show and followed suit with lining up other shows in Seattle, and New Mexico and we made a go of it. From there Stacy turned us on to other contacts in this genre such as Chris Johnson, Rick Saunders, DJ Hill Funk, and others. On thing she said we HAD to do was to apply to play The Deep Blues Festival in Minneapolis. After checking it out it was apparent that it was MUST we either play or be there.
Deep Blues Festival 2009 was incredible, as I told organizer Chris Johnson, it was the best musical experience of my life. Chris is an amazing guy, the way he has helped the “misfit punk blues/country community” has been remarkable but what is even more incredible is the way he treated each and every artist that was playing. It felt like a real family and friend atmosphere. It was our first time playing the festival and before we played we heard about how all the artists would do anything for Chris (and his Deep Blues Staff too) and we can see why! It is really a pleasure working with someone like Chris who wants you to succeed as much as you do. I wish there were a lot more Chris Johnson’s out there, in the music scene and in the world…. truly a special man.
Musically speaking, the highlights were way too many to list, BUT the 3 things that stuck out were T-Model Ford impromptu jam at 2am on the back patio of the adjoining bar where he had command of a lucky audience, which including about 20m musicians hanging on every note. The second memorable highlight was Reverend Dead Eye playing “Fuck The Devil” and then having the sun finally peaking through the storm clouds for the first time of the festival. Seemed like God was giving a big thumbs up saying “that’s right son!”. Third, would be how all the bands were willing to contact each other and help each other get gigs in their areas and from there build a following. In fact we talked with Left Lane Cruiser, Gravel Road, Smokestack and The Foothill Fury, Cashman, CW Ayon, Illinois John Fever and some others about possibly getting them up to the Northeast to play…hopefully we can help out and get the bands some shows in our area, and in turn play in their areas as well.

6. Say you're playing an after-show gig at a bar and you've so moved an individual with your music that they are sprawled face down on the floor pounding their fist in...let's call it ecstasy. This leads to the poor individual being kicked out of the club. Is this a moment of aesthetic pride or just par for the course at most of your gigs?

For some reason this sounds very familiar!

I think it is, and will always be, a sense of pride to accomplish that feat. To drive a person to frenzy is always a joy to watch, it adds to the show… we like to be entertained as well by the audience! Anytime we can get someone to act totally ridiculous then we know we were playing pretty good that night! We encourage it.

7. This may be redundant, based on question number 2, but you seem to bring a punk/garage (again with the damn labels) aspect to the Blues. Do you see this as a trend? Do you feel that the future of Blues, in order to bring in younger listeners, is to pull it into a different context, hook 'em, and then send them running back to the source? Example: Uncle Tupelo sending the kids back to the record shop to check out Hank Williams, et. al.

I do see it as a trend. It’s funny you mention this because it bring me to think of a documentary I was watching one time about Punk Rock, can’t think of the movie name, but Henry Rollins was saying that he never understood why kids that loved punk music never latched on to the old Mississippi Blues artists as the content of their music translates well to Punk. Well, I think we are finally seeing that happen. Even at The Deep Blues Festival you would see an aggressive, more Punk like artist like the High Plane Drifters play RL Burnside songs and then before that you would see a one man band, like CW Ayon, play the same song. So that tells me no matter how you are presenting your music the artists are influenced by similar content and presenting it their own way. So, I think this could be a trend that will hopefully grow even larger on the music scene.

8. Is a cold adult beverage necessary to understanding the Blues, or does understanding the Blues lead one to enjoying a cold adult beverage?

Hmmm…actually a warmer adult beverage (preferably made in Tennessee or Kentucky) would be a quicker way to it. But this is totally a “chicken or the egg” topic, however much more fun with whiskey than with an omellete.

9. What's next for the 'Polecats? Record? Live shows? World domination?

We are playing shows throughout Massachusetts including opening up for Scott Biram on August 4th and are waiting to hear on a North East weekend tour with some Pyschobilly/Punk-a-billy bands that a booking agent what us to be a part of. We might also be playing The Boston Blues Society’s 20th Anniversary Party with some National Act. Still waiting confirmation of that as well. But besides that we play almost weekly at this point, sometimes it is one set of music and sometimes it is three sets.
We are also working on our first full length CD, I am thinking it will be out Late Fall 2009 but we have gotten some interested from some record companies so I am not sure if that will speed up the process or slow it down. Whatever the case may be, we have some new songs in the works and about 9 recorded and mixed as we speak.
World Domination! I like it, but lots of hard work. We would need someone devious enough to lead that charge and form the armies......between the crooked political figures in both Boston & Chicago we could assemble a really devastating army for world domination!!!

If you want to contact, or check out, The Ten Foot Polecats on their upcoming shows, upcoming CD release, or anything beer and whiskey related….. here are the ways to do it


Ten Foot Polecats: Chickenhead Man (mp3)

Ten Foot Polecats: Big Road (mp3)

Please support your local, independent, kick-ass band. They're ten times better than any Rotting Stones show yr gonna see.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Hey, guess what's back? After more than a year we're firing up Barstool Mountain again. Oh yes indeed. Your number-one source for all songs boozy and swank. And, of course, the official home of our Top 100 Drinking Songs from a couple of years ago. Check it out!

With that out of the way, let's check in with a Country'n'Western feller we think is pretty nifty.

Eddie Noack gets a lot of nods from the rockabilly crowd for some reason, probably for his work under the name "Tommy Wood". Don't really see it myself, as he's pretty much a hard floor honkytonker, but to each their own, and anything to spread the word, methinks.

We'll skip most of the ephemera, which you can find easily on the world wide internet series of tubes and wires, and give you a brief overview.

Noack recorded a whole slew of songs for various regional labels (notably, for our purposes at least, Starday and K-Ark) after winning a singing contest in the late '40's. Some of his most notable tunes are "Psycho", "Too Hot To Handle", and "Gentlemen Prefer Blonds". Most of them failed right out of the gate, in some cases due to the "mature" and "unsavory" subject matter. Even after being "rediscovered" and covered by the likes of George Jones, Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb and Elvis Costello, Noack never really gained a foothold in the big, big Country world.

And that'd be about the end of it, if not for the glorious obsessiveness of collectors and archivists. There's a wealth of great "old" music out there constantly being compiled from dusty vaults for our listening enjoyment, and Noack has been particularly well-cared for. Good for us.

Having gotten a degree in journalism, you can hear Noack's unique take on the populist lyricism of Country, with a Hank-like simplicity that says more in a phrase than a million contemporary Nashville Hats could wish for in their wettest dreams. But simple aint simple, and Noack delves into a little darkness (at the edge of town) in his songs. Rape, murder, hopelessness, etc. But don't be fooled by his darker side, as he can swing the chandeliers to the floor with a honky tonk stomper worthy of the best of 'em. Twangdrawling through the heartache, love, hopes and dreams of all the days, Noack takes us to the bar, offers us a swallow of a drink both bitter and euphoric, and invites us to dance the day into the morning.

"Psycho" is not Noack's own song, but he takes it, and makes it definitive. It's his most famous tune, so we thought we'd throw it in for a hook. You can't go wrong with any tune by Noack, but the three tunes following "Psycho" are our personal favorites (but only because we had to limit ourselves. Enjoy.

Eddie Noack: Psycho (mp3)

Eddie Noack: Relief Is Just A Swallow Away (mp3)

Eddie Noack: Barbara Joy (mp3)

Eddie Noack: Firewater Luke (mp3)

Eddie Noack: Walk 'Em Off (mp3)

Please support your local, independent mental health clinic.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Mule Kicker

A Bloody Ol' Mule Interview!!!!

Welcome to our first Deep Blues Thursday. We'll be having interviews and overviews with some of our favorite artists in the Deep Blues tradition. Check out the end of the post for a special offer, and some swell tunes.

Our first featured artist is a feller what goes by the name of Bloody Ol' Mule. Real name's Shilo, and he was one of our favorite finds at the Deep Blues Festival, his two performances keeping us riveted and awed with awe at his brilliance.

Bloody Ol' Mule's a big man, with a bigger voice, and a stage presence built to beat the devil at his own game, brimstone fried salvation between the bottle and the deep dark pit. That voice, a hiccuped, dustbowl twang suddenly possessed by the ghost of Howling Wolf, is a thing of hellish beauty.

And, oh bloody hell, what he does to his guitar is probably illegal in a least 48 states, a shredding, rhythmic honky blues holler, heading southbound to the end of the line, speeding like a hound on fire.

Lyrically, Bloody Ol' Mule covers all the things we love: God and Satan, booze, love'n'hate, loneliness and lust, sex and salvation, more booze. Even a touch of truckin'. He's a master of the turned Country'n'Blues phrase, and throws off lines of poetry couched in the language of the common man. That's a fuckin' compliment that we usually reserve for old Hank Williams.

But don't take our word for all this. Shilo (Bloody Ol' Mule hisself) was kind enough to grant us an interview. So without further slobbering on our part...

The Bloody Ol' Mule Interview (in which we learn many things)

1. First off, give us your generic origin story. Where do you come from? Why are you? Feel free at this point to give the god's honest truth or create your own mythology.

I come from Grady County, Oklahoma, just a little west of Norman, Oklahoma. I live on 10 acres of land nestled somewhat in between a valley. It is the same land that I’ve been on and off of since I was about 5 or 6 years old. I don’t live in nothing really fancy, just a trailer house.

2. Where is Hell's Fringe Oklahoma?

To some of the locals of where I live, we still call this Hell’s Fringe, a name given to the area by the rangers and lawmen back in the 1800’s when outlaws came to Hell’s Fringe to hide out and such. The law never did like going into Hell’s Fringe, and preferred to just stay away, due to all the Indians that lived out there.

3. Describe your style.

I call my music “Feel Good”, meaning that I feel good playing, and from what I gather from others, they feel good listening to it. I just play music. I’m 33 years old, and the majority of the music that I listen to, and have grown up listening to for most of my life has been old country and honky tonk, and delta, and hill country blues. When I was a teenager, I also listened to a lot of 70’s and 80’s punk, as well as a lot of old 1960’s garage rock, but for the most part, the country and blues out weighs the rest of my personal music collection. I own about 3000 c.d.s, about 1000 or so records ranging anywhere from blues, to country, to punk to garage rock, and experimental music, etc. My country record collection being from about 1977 or so back to Jimmie Rodgers, one of my biggest inspirations, along with Hank Williams Sr. and Lefty Frizzell.

4. You sing a great deal about Satan/the Devil. Do you believe that "satan is real"? And if so, where does he live?

I feel that the devil exists inside of every living human-being, there inside of our minds, and our hearts, and that we as human-beings are constantly trying our best to not give in to his temptations. We are always battling the devil that exists there inside of us. The devil that appears in the songs that I write is nothing more than ourselves, or a metaphor for the things that don’t go our way in life, such as in my song “My Woman Got The Devil” or my song “Satan’s Farm”

5. In keeping with the thematic track, your songs often deal with the darker side of life (murder, drinkin', bad men doing bad things, etc.). Is this something that springs from your mind/imagination or do you pull from real life experiences.

I would have to say that my songs are a cross between my own imagination, experiences that I’ve had myself, as well as experiences that other people have had. For the most part, I don’t feel that they are necessarily about the darker side of life, they are just about life in general. These subjects are an element that I’m around everyday of my life, I do not seek them out, for the most part they tend to seek me out whether I want them or not. If I had the choice of writing great songs about the heart-ache and sadness that I have experienced, or the choice of being able to live in a life of bliss and at peace with myself, I’d choose to live at peace with myself. Writing songs, or stories is the only way for me to release all of that which has been building up inside of me, whether it be right or wrong, and that inspiration comes from all directions in my life.

6. This might be redundant based on the previous question, but your onstage persona is vastly different than your offstage persona (at least based on our interactions at the Festival). Are Shilo Brown and Bloody Ol' Mule two completely separate individuals, or do they feed off each other , the real life person and the created stage persona?

When Howling Wolf used to perform, he was the Wolf on stage, and pretty much Chester Burnett off stage, and Daddy to his kids. When I perform, there is a sort of possession that comes over me when I’m playing music, I am somewhat possessed when I’m up there on stage playing.

7. Tell us about your experiences at the Deep Blues Festival.

It was one amazing experience. When I got home from the festival, 2 to 3 days laters, I was having dreams every night that I was still at the festival, either playing, or hanging out with all the great people that I got to hang out with and meet. So, I definitely feel that the Deep Blues Festival had a great impact on me. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life, and I hope to be able to do it again next year. Chris Johnson is a bright spirit, and a beautiful human-being, who takes good care of each one of us musicians with a personal touch, as if we were all his children. The Deep Blues Festival is the most comfortable I’ve felt playing at a festival.

8 . Your records seem to tend towards more of a Country/Hillbilly style, while your performances at the Blues Fest highlighted, obviously, your more Blues oriented stylings (while maintaining a bedrock of Country). Do you find these styles mutually exclusive, or do you find Country and Blues almost two sides of the American coin? Which style do you feel more comfortable with?

I think that real country music, and real blues are pretty much one in the same. Hank Williams Sr. learned how to play from Tee-Tot a black street musician, as well as Jimmie Rodgers doing the same with all the black street musicians that fascinated him growing up. Lightnin’ Hopkins once said that country music ain’t nothing but white man’s blues. I feel that these two styles of music go hand in hand. I, myself don’t classify my music as either one or the other, for me it is just music. I play what I like to play and that is all.

9. You're also a writer. Tell us about yr stories and poems. Who are your influences? What separates your written pieces from you music?

I would have to say that I am more of a story-teller than a writer. I’ve got a spoken word album called Good Greasy Meat that will be coming out sometime in the fall of this year. The stories, just like the songs that I write, usually spawn from either my own experiences or from the things that I’ve been told over a few cold beers in some beer joint. I write about the elements of life that I know about. One should always write about what they know. I am mostly interested in Southern writing, and mostly southern grit-lit, writers such as Larry Brown, Harry Crews, Tom Franklin, etc. I seem to relate more to their story telling as opposed to other genres of writing. They write about the characters that I know, and have grown up with all my life. I relate to what they are writing about, and it makes me feel good to know that there’s people out in the world who are just like me, and that I’m not alone in my ways of thinking and living.

I’ve owned and operated a new and used bookstore and record store in Oklahoma City since 1997 called Book Beat & Co. where I’ve also held live shows in the bookstore as well as artshows and such.

10. What's next? Plug your next record and/or shows.

Before I left for the Deep Blues Festival, I recorded a sessions of songs for an album that I’m calling Lonesome Midnight Bawlers, a collection of sad and lonely tears in your beer country weepers that I’ve written. A collection of pure honky tonk material. Then I’ve got another recording session set up in a few months to record 18 to 19 songs for the new Bloody Ol’ Mule album that will be called Between Pig’s Ditch and Blood Creek. Also, I’m working on publishing a new collection of short stories and poems as well.

Now then, if that aint enough for y'all, and the following tunes aren't enough either, and more tunes at his myspace page, here's what we're gonna do. If you buy an album from Bloody Ol' Mule (check his myspace page for contact info), we here at the Mountain will personally make you mix cd or mp3 mix in whatever style/genre/theme of your choosing. Shilo's also a damn good writer, and we'd count buying one of his books as eligible too. All you gotta do is tell us you bought something, and we'll get you hooked up, we trust all y'all that much. More and different promotions to come in subsequent Deep Blues Thursdays.

Bloody Ol' Mule: Truck Stop Whore (mp3)

Bloody Ol' Mule: Snake Hunt Holler (mp3)

Bloody Ol' Mule: Holy Ghost Power (mp3)

Please support these artists. They're keeping real, non-crap, non-watered down music alive. The sound of a deeper American ghost. We'll do what we can to help.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Black Boots and Dirty Nails


Jack Oblivian
was always our favorite Oblivian. Just barely, of course, since all three of 'em (Jack, Greg and Eric) were pretty super duper. But since the breakup of The Oblivians, we've been most enamored with Jack's career.

Some of the projects Jack's (may we call him Jack? Or perhaps Mr. Yarber?) been involved in pre- and post-Oblivians include The Compulsive Gamblers, The Knaughty Knights, South Filthy, The Cool Jerks, The Limes, Jack Oblivian & The Cigarillos, The Natural Kicks, '68 Comback, and Greg Oblivian and the Tip Tops. There's more, but we're most concerned in today's post with his solo work and his work with The Tearjerkers/The Tennessee Tearjerkers.

Post-Oblivians, Jack started to form a new sound, one that still hewed to the soulpunktrash of his former band, but opened up to other influences. You found a strong Country streak lingering at the edges, and a nod (as good as a wink) to The Faces' brand of bar band boogie, but pressed and squeezed into a Memphis rhythm'n'booze grease pit. His voice is still there, a dried corn-husk of a sneer, snot-flecked and leering. But, with a vignette-heavy songwriting maturity, he creates a rawkin' ramble of lowdown sleaze, bad attitude and bad intentions, pistols and pussy, and southern-style burned down house-party.

Jack's got two (Two!) new records out. Disco Outlaw in on Goner Records and Saturday Night, Part Two is on the mighty Big Legal Mess. We also had the honor of seeing Jack play last week at the world famous Hideout, with John Paul Keith backing him up. It was a mighty night, and we left sweaty, buzzed and happy. You'll be hearing more about these albums at the end of the year.

Aside from the two new records, who represent the first two tracks below, we've got tracks off of the albums So Low, American Slang, Don't Throw Your Love Away, The Flip-Side Kid, and Bad Moon Rising. Again, the man's all over the musical map, both as producer and performer, so his other projects are well worth hunting down. Goner Records is a good place to start. I'm assuming y'all have the Oblivians rekkids already, right?

Jack O And The Tennessee Tearjerkers: Ditch Road (mp3)

Jack Oblivian: Against The Wall (mp3)

Jack O And The Tennessee Tearjerkers: Dirty Nails (mp3)

Jack O And The Tennessee Tearjerkers: Black Boots (mp3)

Jack Oblivian: Honey, I'm Too Old For You (mp3)

The Tearjerkers: Bank, Gun, Jail (mp3)

Jack O And The Tearjerkers: Mad Dog 20/20 (mp3)

Jack Oblivian: Mama Don't Get Off (mp3)

Please support your local, independent Garage Punk godhead.