'Round the Dial
Wednesday 28 May @ 11:30:14
by Tom Hallett
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “This is a very rootless life. The only thing you got to hang onto is family. I can sit at home with the kids and the wife, and to me it’s a perfectly rock and roll natural wedding. My wife wakes me up and says good morning to me, even though it might already be evening, then I get down to work.”
SONG OF THE WEEK: “Mohammed’s Radio” —Warren Zevon
Shit, I’m drunk. It’s 2:24 a.m., deadline night on the tail-end of Memorial Day Weekend, I’ve been runnin’ around like a chicken with my head cut off for the past seven days, and I don’t have a forkin’ clue whut ah’m gonna blab about this week. Oh, sure, I could go for the obvious, and just lay out another cheesy, e-z, reddy-whip, all frosting and no cake, buttered-up, blah column about the latest blah blah from that great band, Blah, but....NAAAAA!!! Not gonna do it. I think I’d rather blather on about the absolutely GREAT week in music I just experienced right here in these 129 municipalities we call the Twin Cities. So how’do’ya like me na?
Sorry, I don’t mean to be on’ry—musta been a burr under the ole saddle there. Let me light up a smoke, an’ I’ll tellya about the past week in rock. (Click) Ahhh. There we go. Nothin’ like the true death glow of a Marlboro Red to light up the night. Now, where were we? Oh, yeah. As I recall, the whole ordeal started out last Tuesday night, when we lit a shuck an’ moseyed on over to the Mill City to catch Anthrax and Motorhead in the First Ave. mainroom, augmented by the ever sonic Terry Eason & The Barnacles and St. Paul rockers extraordinaire Superhopper (Yeh! Da 651, Jimmy Shands!) opening for Minutemen/fIREHOSE co-founder Mike Watt in the 7th Street Entree’. (“Oh! You’re actually in MINNEAPOLIS!” cracked my pal Matthew from Superhopper. “Oh, yeah! Well, I was just here for CONCRETE BLONDE a week ago,” I whipped back. “Where were you, little buddy?” All in good fun, sez the guy from the six five one.)
On the main stage, against a backdrop of a gigantic, blown-up image of the anthrax virus, Anthrax pounded out the chimes of freedom with a dirty growl and an angry howl—tossing out the old (“Got The Time,” “Antisocial,” but no “Startin’ Up A Posse,” which woulda been great with the lyrics changed over to Laura Bush insteada Tipper Gore, but whatdaya want fer a rubber biscuit?) and the new with equal rockinfuckinroll abandon, and Lemmy & co. put all the young ‘uns in their proper places with savage guitar riffs, tribal rhythms, and lyrics so down-n-dirty even GG Allin was prob’ly a-wop-bop-a-loo’in in his dark, wet, unconsecrated grave.
I was a bit taken aback at the massively diverse crowd at the show (I spotted two mustache-bearing, fedora-wearing undercover government agents from Belgrade, a staggering, homunculus man dressed in 1930s golf wear, and what was surely the reincarnation of Zelda Fitzgerald doing beer bongs with some blonde, uber-Aryan guy named Hans by the back bar), but was soon soothed by the dulcet backing vocals of Lemmy’s warts and four stiff White Russians. All the while, I’m runnin’ back an’ forth to the Entry to catch a whole different vibe, Dr. Phibes...
Eason skronked out discombobulated Brian Wilson mind-melds, Syd Barrett flashbacks, and radio-ready pop licks with all the aplomb of, well, Terry Eason, and Superhopper laid waste to any hapless soul ready to argue with the gods of rock. An’ then there was Mr. Watt—all Tour Spiel siphoned into massive keyboards and jittery bass—I heard Mike slept in his van until nearly the minute before his set started, missing the two great local bands opening for him—and it didn’t even bother me. There’s a cat who deserves his forty winks, Winky. After all, if it wasn’t for the Minutemen, what in the hell would Anthrax, Eason and Superhopper be doing right now? Besides their illustrious day jobs, I mean? No offense intended, of course, but there can be only one Piss Bottle Man, man. Sheesh! All that, in one night, you say? Oh, yes, and Lord, deliver me from temptation—just leave me a couple of beers, willya?
“Me I was at the height of my powers/In the small of her neck/Between her compassion an’ her prowess/Her heart was the compass/An’ knew when an’ where I’d wreck...” Oops, sorry. I was takin’ a swaller off a’ my brew an’ plumb fergot I was talkin’ to ya. Listenin’ to Glum by Giant Sand, ya understand. Check it out—an’ crank up the song “Faithful,” in perticular. Good shit, Grasshopper. Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah, we’re up to Saturday (yeah, it took me a couple a days to recoup from Anthrax, Motorhead, Eason, Superhopper and Watt. Shit, a feller should, by all rights, take a day off fer each one a’ them bands, dontcha think?), when we took my fourteen year-old son to the St. Croix and just kicked back and listened to Radio K all afternoon, suckin’ down suds in a lawn chair, puffin’ on the Halfling’s Leaf, an’ watchin’ the dumbasses who only drink on holidays (and fight with their in-laws—“You NEVER loved me, man!”) get pulled over in their quarter-million-dollar boats by Ye Olde Wisconsin Agua Patrol. Fun!
Every song the K played that day was cool as hell, but hearing Guided By Voices’ “I Am A Scientist” (“I am a lost soul/I shoot myself with rock n’ roll/The hole I dig is bottomless/But nothing else can set me free...”) blasting out across the roiling river as my son dredged a mini-harbor on the beach with my girlfriend and two Hmong fishermen landed their dinners and a couple of yuppies watched the waning sun with their squawking, mini-van-bound baby, was almost too fucking cool to handle. I worry a bit, knowing that by all rights, I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO FEEL THIS GOOD! But what the hey-ho, I’ll take it where I can git it these days, Jimbo.
Sunday brought more local music hijinx, but not exactly in the form I’d expected. See, I thought I might make it down to Hazy Dave’s Health & Happiness Show (Every Sunday evening at 8 p.m.) at the Turf Club, but ended up hangin’ out with some good friends over on the East Side o’ St. Paul, drinkin’ beer and eatin’ hamhocks and beans. Yum! Unfortunately, my musical experience wasn’t quite so monumental over in the hinterlands. You guessed it, some over-40 white would-be blues gods decided to throw a garage party next door. Oh, Lawd, if I never hear an attempt by a guy who only knows two chords to play a cover of Johnny Rivers’ “Secret Agent Man” again, it’ll be too fookin’ soon, ah tellyew whut. Yes, little Bobby, it was bad. It was so bad that I had to leave after Mr. I-Know-Lots-Of-B.B.-King-Riffs couldn’t even remember the words to Creedence Clearwater’s “Born On The Bayou.” JESUS! Why bother TRYING to cover that overplayed fucking relic if you DON’T KNOW THE LYRICS?? (Sigh) I ‘spose I should get myself another beer—it’s nearly 3 a.m. and I’ve still got another day of music to tell ya’ll about. The REALLY great one.
(Crack!) Ahhhh. More watery rice beer. This shit’s great, man. While all my buds who drink thick, mealy, foreign beers are long passed out and exuding great fetid gusts of garlic-laced brew farts, I’m still rarin’ to go, with half a twelver of Bud in the fridge. Ah, life is sweet. Wait, where’s the bong? Oh, yes, I stashed it behind the lighter fluid. I know there’s some logic there somewhere, but if I think about it too long, I’ll never find the bong again, so fuck it. Now, what was I talkin’ about? Ohhh, yeah. Monday! While all the suckers were down on Harriet Island “celebrating” “freedom” for “Malaleuca” (What in the hell is Malaleuca? Some kind of third-level demon from Hell? Is it a Republican plant in our language, like “Yvan Eht Nioj” on The Simpsons? Christ! Somebody enlighten me before I call Dr. Thompson and REALLY embarrass the current polit-burros. Hee-haw!), I was sittin’ in a cool, clean backyard listenin’ to Hendrix, Malachai Constant, early REM, and one kickass Steve Forbert tune (“Runnin’ On Love”) that I snuck in on my boombox between “big stereo” cuts. Heh heh heh.
Dammit, I’m a’ sorry agin’. Losin’ mah train o’ thought. That’s what happens when you’re surrounded (it reminds me of Ray Bradbury’s old show on Sci-Fi, where the opening shot was of the thousands of knick-knacks, pieces of memorabilia, and snappy doo-dads surrounding the author at his desk, as he intoned, “I get all of my inspiration from the things around me in my office....”) by stacks of vinyl albums by Marvin Gaye, Laura Nyro and Buffalo Springfield. When dusty copies of Half Japanese’s Bone Head album nestle up against fresh releases by Bonnie “Prince” Billy and the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack. When you’re buried in cassette copies of Steve Earle’s Feel Alright, Ted Hawkins’ Happy Hour, and a mix tape from yer pal Late Night Dave. When the CD’s towering around you include Ol’ Yeller, Billy Joe Shaver, Kruddler’s latest, the Dead Kennedys, The Rakes, Neil Young, Thin Lizzy, The Bleeding Hickeys, and Ken Nordine’s Colors album.
But shit, what am I supposed to do? Get all het up about American Idol? Shee-it. My American Idol is Townes Fucking Van Zandt, buddy. My American Idols are Scott from Anthrax, Kermit Fucking Carter from the ‘Hopper, Tobin “Big Sprout” Carlson, Dave Mustaine, that kid from Eta Carinae, Dale Anderson, and Grickle Fucking Grass. Those are MY American heroes, Mr. Businessman. “Whattaya mean I hurt your feelings/I didn’t know you had any feelings/Whattaya mean I’m not your kind...just not YOUR kind...”) Shit, Junior, it’s almost too dee-licious to bear, sometimes! But ah thinks ah’ll get thru, uh-huh-huh.
So Monday....Monday, Monday, so good to me...Monday Mornin’ yew shore look fine...they call it Stormy Monday....yep, Monday, Mem-Malaleuca-Morial Day was fookin’ fine as wine, Parnell. Got together a late afternoon BBQ over at Toby Rhythm’s groove-a-licious homestead, and suckered as many local musicians as possible into comin’ over to jam with the promise of plentiful liquor, leaf, and chow. Not a big stretch, I know, but hey, when ya don’t have the clout of a “real” rock journalist like Cameron Crowe (“Somebody call my mom. The band is trying to GIVE me drugs! Help!” Ahhhggghh!) you go with the flow, Flo.
Long story short (ha ha), after a superb cook-out dinner and copious amounts of (what else) watery rice beer, I was honored to not only hear, but join in on, some excellent late-night jammin’ (mon) by none other than axeman “Uncle” Dave Hazledine (The Youngers, Spikedriver, The Mammy Nuns), skinmeister/picker “Kolorful” Ken Devoe (The Whiskey Sournotes, Little Man, solo), and percussionist extraordinaire “Towering” Toby Carlson (Vince Welnick, The Tobin-Dann Band), hear a shit-load of great stories and one-liners from local (Gone Hollywood an’ come back agin’) comedy writer Scott Day, and was witness to a once-in-a-lifetime (Gasp! Even tho there was BEER left!) early-evening bow-out from that nappy little rock genius Danny “Churchy” Viper and his gal Dani. (Awww! Ain’t new love grand? Sho ‘nuff!)
Man, what a night! And now here I sit, all my leetle friends safely in bed and snoozin’ like good little boogie chillun, a butt-load of booze an’ smokey treats all fer myself, and Black Sabbath’s “WAR PIGS” crankin’ on the stereo! Hell yeah! Now this is livin’, man. (Lawd, pleeze let the landlady sleep sound tonight, and let visions of honest plumbers, timeless jazz orchestras, and an America without an emperor dance in her head, thank yew Jeez-us, amen) But why should I worry? I’ve almost got this column written, then I can settle in and make (another) GREAT mix tape for someone who won’t really care about it and will probably lose it or give it away, but that doesn’t even bother me because I’m only making it (really) for myself anyway, just giving it away so I can run out of tapes and do it again some night (really) soon. Thank you, Maxell. Thank you Walgreens. Thank you India. Yessir, life in the Oughts rocks!
I mean, who cares? I’m laid off from my job, the economy is fucked, the government is a pure-dee fascist state, Mariah Carey has a new album out, and Noel Redding died last week, but I’m drunker than my grandma at the 1936 Deer River Warriors Championship football win over Pine City, and I have the whole day tomorrow to sleep it off while the grim, everyday world passes me by, and liquor stores are back to regular hours! “Generals gathered in their masses/Just like witches at black masses/Evil minds that plot destruction/Sorcerers of death’s construction....” Ah, well. Long as nobody calls the cops, I’ll see ya’ll at the 7th Annual Grand Young Day at The Turf Club next weekend. And who knows? Maybe you’ll have some great local music stories to tell me. After all, unless you were at the parties I mentioned above, we’ve got alot of catchin’ up to do....remember, war is over, if you want it...until next time, make yer own damn news.
If you have local music news/gigs/events that you’d like to see listed in this column, or you’d just like to complain that you didn’t get enough cheap rice beer last weekend, send replies to: TMygunn777@aol.com.