Monthly Archives: May 2010

Report: Roky Erickson/Okkervil in SF


44 years ago the 13th Floor
Elevators burned San Francisco’s
venerable Fillmore down to cinders. On May 20, their former lead singer
returned to the scene of the crime with Austin’s
Okkervil River in tow.


By Jud Cost


Roky Erickson
triumphantly returned to the Fillmore auditorium on May 20 for the first time
since the summer of 1966, back when he was the lead singer for trailblazing Austin, Texas
psychedelic-rock band the 13th Floor Elevators. The hippie ballroom scene was
about to bust wide open at Bill Graham’s Fillmore and at the Avalon, run by
Chet Helms, fueled by a percolating Bay Area music scene that included
Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Grateful Dead, Country
Joe & the Fish and Big Brother and the Holding Co., whose vocalist, Janis
Joplin, had recently emigrated to San Fran from Texas. The Elevators – featuring
Erickson’s banshee howl, Stacy Sutherland’s blistering guitar leads, Ronnie
Leatherman on bass, John Ike Walton on drums and the other-worldly sound of
Tommy Hall’s electric jug – fit right in with these legends-in-waiting.


Tonight is also
Erickson’s first San Francisco show backed by
hotshot Austin indie-rockers Okkervil River.
And some of the natives, many of whom look old enough to have been here for
those Elevators shows 46 years ago, are having pre-concert doubts. “I’m
afraid this new band is gonna suck,” one cane-wielding greybeard was
overheard telling another as he handed over his western duster to the hatcheck
girl. The old-timers, and recent converts too, needn’t have worried. Okkervil
River is a perfect fit for the man they backed on the just-released True Love Cast Out All Evil (Anti-),
Erickson’s first album of all new material in decades. 


Dressed in an
oversized black shirt with two white lines going north and south down the
front, Erickson’s put on a little weight since he was last in town in 2008,
backed by the battle-hardened Black Angels. He’s sporting shoulder-length hair,
shaggy eyebrows and a full, well groomed beard these days. The clean-shaven guy
with the semi-mullet, dressed in a shirt he might have purchased at a Honolulu gift shop has
definitely left the building. Now decked out to fit his undeniable place in
rock history, this man looks like he might really have walked with a zombie
last night.


Erickson has an
eagle eye trained all night on Okkervil
River vocalist Will
Sheff, the man who produced the shockingly excellent new CD and helped to
totally revamp Roky’s set list. An old chestnut kicks things off, “Night
Of The Vampire,” slowed down to a funereal crawl, with Erickson right on
the money, singing as forcefully as he did with the Explosives and the Aliens,
circa 1979-82. “Two Headed Dog,” a song Roky could nail in his sleep,
and “Don’t Slander Me” are perfectly rendered with the help of
Okkervil’s three-guitar, multi-hued lysergic palette.


The only
selection that seems a little undercooked is a cover of Little Richard’s
“Ooh My Soul,” a surprisingly lifeless treatment of something from
the Georgia Peach, the man Erickson idolized on late-night radio as a
youngster. “Starry Eyes,” a song Roky might have tracked with Buddy
Holly if the Lubbock
star’s life hadn’t been cut tragically short in 1959, sounds terrific, as it
always does.


“I Walked
With A Zombie,” with Roky repeating the refrain by cycling through the
alphabet – “I walked with a Zombie/I walked with ‘b’ Zombie/I walked with
‘c’ Zombie” – is the last of the Stu Cook-produced 1981 “monster
movie” classics hooked up to the electrodes and wheeled out into a
lightning storm tonight. “True Love Cast Out All Evil” has a
back-porch country vibe that allows Erickson room to show a nice Merle Haggard
side to his voice, previously kept under wraps. Adding just the right organ
touches to this material, Okkervil’s Scott Brackett also wielded a stirring
mariachi-style trumpet when called for.


What might have
been the absolute highlight of this 80-minute set is also the backbone of the
new album, “Goodbye Sweet Dreams.” As outstanding as anything
Erickson’s written since the glory days of the Elevators, it sounds like it was
wrapped up in a slightly singed sheet of newspaper, retrieved from the fireplace
before it was consumed by flames. Inhaling its smoky perfume simultaneously
brings tears to the eyes and raises hackles on the back of your neck as the
wailing guitars delicately filet your mind. 


A crushing
one-two punch brings this impressive set to a swift conclusion. Without the
insinuating madness of the electric jug, Elevators classic
“Reverberation” is boiled down to its Jefferson
Airplane-like, folk-rock essence. “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” the
regional hit that, for one of the few times in his career left Dick Clark
speechless when the Elevators played it on American
in ’66, sends everyone out into the late night drizzle wearing
sandals of Mercury. They’ve born witness to the most recent chapter of the
rehabilitation of Roky Erickson, now recovered from the depressed, unhealthy
state of 10 years ago, and recently reconnected with former wife Dana and son
Jegar. Just as important, Erickson is making some of the best music of his long
career before an adoring public. What could be sweeter!


[Photo credit:
Todd Wolfson]


Read our interview with Okkervil’s Will
Sheff about his band’s collaboration with Erickson here.



Win Autographed Bettie Serveert!


We’re trying to work
it out so they even personally deliver the goods to your home!


By Blurt Staff


Pssst – hey, fanboy! Yeah, you over there, with the
asymmetrical haircut and rocking the ironic inside-out-hoodie – looking for
some free alterna-rock swag? Look no further: just click over to the Blurt
Contest Page
. That’s where you can win a SIGNED Bettie Serveert CD and Photo
and also get a free sticker.



10 entries will win a free copy of Bettie Serveert’s new
Second Motion Records album Pharmacy of
(reviewed here at Blurt) autographed by the entire band, as well as an
autographed photo image… and we’ll even toss in a Bettie Serveert sticker as


All ya gotta do is fill out the necessary info on the
webform then click “register.” Simple as that. Some restrictions apply. Void
where prohibited by law. Operators standing by. Do not operate heavy machinery. Etc. etc….







Blurt Merchandise Store Relaunches

Get yer Blurt Murch
here: Flaming Lips, Nirvana, Metallica, Fleet Foxes, Mudhoney, Of Montreal,
Shins, PiL, Muse, Iron & Wine, Paramore, Gorillaz and tons more products
for your discriminating musical tastes.


By Blurt Staff


Psst – hey, fanboys ‘n’ girls! Yeah, you over there with the
glum look on your face because you didn’t have enough dough last night at the
club to be able to buy a teeshirt from the band you just saw – we got the
solution right here.


Just click over to the new, improved, and freshly relaunched
Blurt Murch Store
, where you can choose from over 3,000 artists and over 30,000
products ranging from teeshirts and posters to rucksacks and clocks. (Clocks?!?
Yes, clocks!) All the artists listed above and a zillion more have pages
flogging, er, offering their merchandise – if you don’t see a band right off
the bat that you dig, just consult the drop-down menu or enter the appropriate
words in the search field. There are even goods for films, television shows and
the occasional celebrity (everybody needs a Bruce Lee teeshirt at some point in
their life).


The ordering process is easy, and we accept Visa,
Mastercare, AmEx, Maestro, Solo and JBC cards. Transactions are processed using
SSL 128 bit connection and card details are not stored on our server, so you
can rest assured that the transactions will be safe ones.





Grinderman Preps Album, Tour

Second record coming
in September with Euro tour dates already announced.


By Fred Mills


According to Anti- Records, Nick Cave’s
Grinderman project is aiming for a September 14 US release date for a new
album, the group’s second. Sensibly titled Grinderman
, it was recorded last year at various London studios and was mixed and co-produced
by Nick Launay. It’s the followup to 2007’s self-titled debut.


A series of U.K.
and European tour dates have been announced for September and October. No word
yet on a North American trek.


Tour Dates:


25th September Nottingham Rock City
27th September Leeds University
28th September Glasgow Barrowlands
29th September Manchester Academy
1st October London Hammersmith Apollo
4th October Lausanne Les Docks
5th October Zurich Volkshaus
6th October Milan Live
7th October Rome Atlantico
10th October Vienna Gasometer
11th October Munich Muffathalle
13th October Leipzig Haus Auensee
14th October Berlin Columbiahalle
15th October Cologne E-Werk
17th October Brussels Ancienne Belgique
20th October Utrecht MCV
21st October Hamburg Docks
23rd October Copenhagen Falkoner Theatre
24th October Randers Power Station
26th October Paris Cite de La Music






Fear of Flying


By James McMurtry


Yesterday, I flew on Southwest
Airlines flight 420 from Tampa
Florida to Austin Texas. I sat in
a window seat on the left side of the plane. I watched the blue waters of the
gulf go by thirty five thousand feet below. I saw ships kicking up a white
froth at their sterns. I saw a few oil platforms.



An hour or so into the flight,
the platforms increased in numbers and so did the ships. Then the water turned,
in a knife’s edge, from blue to brown and boats and ships were visible
everywhere. In normal times I would have thought the water was brown from silt
pouring out from the Mississippi
into the Gulf, but this brown stain went on further than I could see. Now the
ships and boats left strange dark wakes with no white froth at their sterns.
Even a Mississippi River tow boat kicks up a
white wake. Some of these boats’ wakes showed them to have been turning circles
and triangles in the brown stuff. The brown went on for minutes, hundreds of
miles, and, a ways to the west, I began to see black streaks in the brown


The captain didn’t point out
whatever it was, and none of my fellow passengers seemed to notice, most
consumed with whatever was on their laptops and telling their life stories to
all of us. Ho Hum.


Singer-songwriter James McMurtry lives in Austin, Texas.
When he’s not touring, you can see him at the Continental Club every Wednesday,
‘round about midnight. Full details at his official website. His
latest album, Live In Europe, was released
last year on Lightning Rod Records – read the Blurt review here.




James McMurtry Views the Gulf Oil Spill


“The brown went on for
minutes, hundreds of miles, and, a ways to the west, I began to see black
streaks in the brown stuff…”


By Blurt Staff


Remember how a couple of days ago Texas
troubadour James McMurtry offered a scathing indictment of BP and the oil company’s veiled
motives behind their oil cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico?
Today, at his BLURT blog “Wasteland Bait & Tackle” he recounts how he
actually flew over the oil spill yesterday.


He didn’t like what he saw.


See what he’s got to say about it right here.



MP3: New Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band LP



Album due in August;
band currently doing a string of touring dates.


By Blurt Staff


Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band’s sophomore album Where The
Messengers Meet
arrives August 3 via Dead Oceans. While it has only been 18
months since Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band’s self-titled debut, as the band puts
it, they “have traveled what feels like thousands of miles.”


 Where The
Messengers Meet
expands upon its predecessor, using same frantic and skewed
elements and stretch them out, giving them room to breathe and blossom.
Thematically, Where The Messengers Meet is an exercise in contrasts:
“the delicate and gentle, the dark and furious,” we’re advised.




“Mt. St. Helens Vietnam
Band collects powerful compositions into one cohesive whole held together with
lush production and a haunting atmosphere. They are imperceptibly inching away
from an angular style influenced by Modest Mouse and Wolf Parade, instead
incorporating an epic sound recalling both the modern masters such as Arcade Fire, and classic pioneers, like Pink Floyd.”


Sounds like c-c-c-classic rock to us, speaking of “classic”!


Check out an advance MP3 from the album:


Tour Dates:


05/27 San Diego,
CA- Casbah w/ Frog Eyes

05/28 Los Angeles,
CA- The Echo w/ Frog Eyes

05/29 San Francisco,
CA- Hemlock Tavern w/ Frog Eyes

06/05 Corvallis, OR- Flat
Tail Music
Festival- Oregon
State University

06/06 Spokane,
WA- Elk Fest

07/08 Seattle, WA- Seattle
City Hall


[Photo Credit: Chona Kasinger]



Wilco + Mavis Staples = Solid!


Solid Sound Festival, that is… soul
legend joins Wilco’s big August event in Massachusetts.


By Blurt Staff


Mavis Staples
has been tapped to join Wilco’s upcoming SOLID SOUND FESTIVAL, which as
announced previously takes place at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA
August 13 – 15. Staples’ appearance precedes the release of her forthcoming
album, which was produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy.


The 3-day event features
a wide array of musical performances spanning multiple genres including rock,
R&B, indie, jazz, folk and more. The weekend’s musical lineup includes a
headlining concert by Wilco plus performances by each Wilco member’s side
project (The Nels Cline Singers, Glenn Kotche’s On Fillmore, John Stirratt’s
and Pat Sansone’s Autumn Defense and Mike Jorgensen’s Pronto), plus musical
performances by Avi Buffalo, The Books, Vetiver, Mountain Man, Sir Richard
Bishop, Brenda, The Deep Blue Organ Trio and the aforementioned Staples.


Famed comedian Todd
Barry will headline and program the festival’s comedy stage. Joining Barry will
be comedians Kristen Schaal (Flight of
the Conchords
, The Daily Show), Hannibal
Buress (Craig Ferguson, Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham”)
and John Mulaney (VH1’s Best Week Ever,


performance at SOLID SOUND is the band’s only East Coast performance of the
summer. SOLID SOUND FESTIVAL also features performances by the Vermont-based
puppet theater company Bread and Puppet and the arts and creative writing
organization Story Pirates. Other intriguing elements of the festival include Glenn
Kotche’s interactive drum head installation and Nels Cline’s Solid Sound
Stompbox Station. During the festival, MASS MoCA will
display an extensive collection of past and present Wilco concert posters. A
poster screening demonstration by long time Wilco poster collaborator
Ghost-Town Design will also be presented. Additional art on display in
the galleries during the festival includes works by Inigo Manglano Ovalle,
Petah Coyne, Leonard Nimoy and Michael Oatman.


More details and
tickets: and




MP3: New Pornos’ Calder w/Solo LP

Album arrives in
August. Calder’s currently out on tour with the New Pornographers, by the way.


By Blurt Staff


Calder’s debut solo album Are You My Mother? will feature contributions
from her fellow New Pornographers Neko Case, Kurt Dahle and Todd Fancey, along
with members of Ladyhawk and Frog Eyes. The album’s due August 10 from the File
Under: Music label.


Check out an
advance MP3:

After playing keyboards and singing for Immaculate Machine and The New
Pornographers for the past several years, a little voice in Kathryn Calder’s
head started to ask her, ‘What would it be like to put out your own record?’
When she couldn’t wait any longer to find out, she and her producer, Colin
Stewart, took over her childhood home in Victoria,
BC and set up an impromptu
recording studio. With little in the way of props or technology, the pair
started to cobble together the songs that would become Are you my Mother?.

Kathryn is the first to admit that she had no idea of what she wanted out of
the experience before beginning to work on this CD. She’d made lots of records
before, but she’d always been one of many collaborators working together on a
project. She was used to half writing songs and then taking them to band
members who would each have their input to help transform them. This time, she
didn’t have that option and was forced to focus, work through her blocks, and
go on a voyage of discovery that allowed her to finish the songs by herself.

Are you my Mother? is described by the label as “a transitional record
from an already accomplished artist firmly hitting her stride as a solo
performer.” Amen to that.


Track Listing:


1. Slip Away
2. Low
3. Castor and Pollux
4. Arrow
5. If You Only Knew
6. Follow Me Into The Hills
7. Down The River
8. A Day Long Past It’s Prime
9. So Easily
10. All It Is


[Photo Credit:
Caleb Beyers]






Slipknot Bassist Dies, Autopsy Scheduled



Body discovered in a
hotel room on Monday.


By Blurt Staff


Paul Gray, 38, the bassist for Slipknot, was found dead yesterday,
May 24, a hotel near Des Moines,
Iowa. According to police reports
an employee of TownePlace Suites found the musician’s body. (Des Moines is the band’s home base.)


No immediate cause of death has been announced, although
foul play is not suspected, and medical examiners are planning to conduct an
autopsy and toxicology tests today.


According to news reports, Gray had been arrested in Iowa in 2003, following
an automobile accident, for marijuana, cocaine and two syringes. He received
one year probation.


In the photo of Slipknot, above, he is pictured third from
the left. Gray, a founding member of the band, is usually referred to as “#2,”
or “The Pig.”