Monthly Archives: March 2010

First Look: New Sweet Apple Album

Supergroup alert!
Dinosaur Jr’s J. Mascis and Cobra Verde’s John Petkovic have a stomping good
time with their first outing together, due next month on Tee Pee.


By Jennifer Kelly


Sweet Apple, the new project from J. Mascis and John
Petkovic, sounds a lot more like Cobra Verde (Petkovic’s band) than Dinosaur Jr.
 On debut album Love & Desperation here are occasional, inflammatory surges of
Mascis’ inimitable guitar, mostly on “I’ve Got a Feeling (That Won’t Change),” and
in a sidewinding break in “Crawling Over Bodies”. Still for the most part,
Mascis stays in the background and seems mostly to be playing drums (as he does
in Witch). Petkovic has even brought along Tim Parnin, his guitarist from Cobra
Verde. Dave Sweetapple, who is also in Witch, plays bass, but you won’t hear a
lot of that band’s sprawling, sludgy metal here. Instead, the tunes are mostly
of the glam-leaning, power-chord studded, 1970s-referencing ilk of Cobra Verde.
Not that that’s a bad thing. In fact, after an extended break and a rough
personal stretch, it looks like Petkovic has got his mojo back. If Love & Desperation were a Cobra
Verde album, it would be the best one since Easy
, far more consistent and hard-hitting than 2009’s Haven’t Slept All Year.


Maybe it’s not surprising that Sweet Apple sounds so Cobra
Verde-ish when you think about how the band came about. It’s quite a story. Petkovic’s
mother had just died after a long illness. He went for a long drive, starting
in Cleveland
and heading east. He got a phone call, out of the blue, from his friend Dave
Sweetapple, and decided, after a short conversation, to meet up in Brattleboro, Vermont,
where Sweetapple lived. J. Mascis, a couple of towns south in Amherst, came too. They decided to work
together and Petkovic wrote four songs on his way back to Cleveland.  Back home, he kept writing, and enlisted
Parnin to help him flesh out the songs.  The
album was recorded in Amherst and Cleveland, but up until a gig at SXSW a few
weeks ago, the band had never actually played together, in the same room, at
the same time. So Love & Desperation is a bit of a hybrid: part therapy, part old friends jamming, part one-off
super group. It sounds like the MC5 filtered through Badfinger with little bits
of Sweet poking through – and if you miss the large-gestured, hard-rocking
anthems of 1970s radio rock, this is exactly what you want.



Specifics?  “Do You
Remember” rides roughshod over the raunchiest and crunchiest guitar riff, Billy
Preston-ish piano rampaging in the background. “Flying Up the Mountain” stomps
out its bad-boy come ons  “I was drunk
when I was six/a Marxist at eight/I fucked at 13, but baby I was born too
late.” “Crawling Over Bodies” hazards a falsetto over a rain of California guitar
jangle. It’s almost all tremendous fun (I could do without the flaccid “Dead
Moon” but that’s the only skipper), nothing stunted or minimalist about it.
It’s like bedroom taping and lo-fi and dance punk and glo-wave never happened.
What a good thing.





When Alex Chilton Held Blurt’s Guitar


Wandering around in a New Orleans graveyard for
the “Cutting Edge” cameras.


By Fred Mills


Flashback time:


Sometime in 1985, not long after he had released the Feudalist Tarts EP, Alex Chilton was filmed
for a segment of MTV series I.R.S.
Records Presents The Cutting Edge
. The show, which aired once a month on Sunday
nights (and as a result is sometimes confused with another MTV show, 120 Minutes), ran from 1983 to 1987 and was hosted by Fleshtones frontman Peter


In the segment, Zaremba introduces Chilton, who then plays a
little guitar/harp blues (“Lost My Job”) while strolling around in a New
Orleans graveyard, talks a bit about himself and about living in New Orleans, and finishes
up doing a few refrains of the Box Tops hit “The Letter.”


It’s a nice little clip, which you can view below (note that
it is mistakenly labeled “120 Minutes”) – it’s literally been 20 years or so
since I’ve seen it, but today a friend told me it was on YouTube. The reason I
mention the clip is that after Chilton passed away unexpectedly on March 17, I
wrote a brief obituary for him here at Blurt, and included this personal


One time I met him a few hours before he was to perform at a small club in Charlotte, NC,
he invited me to join him at the booth he was relaxing in and we chatted for a
little while about friends we had in common. One mutual friend in particular
was of interest to him: back in the mid ‘80s I had sold an acoustic Takamine
guitar to a friend who had moved to New Orleans,
where Chilton had relocated from Memphis
some time earlier. Turns out he had met her through the Tav Falco/Panther Burns
crowd, and not long after she bought the guitar from me he was approached by
MTV to appear on a segment of their “Cutting Edge” program. Not
having a decent acoustic guitar himself, Chilton asked her if he could borrow
hers – mine – for the taping. When I told Chilton I got a kick out of seeing
him play my guitar on national television, he shook his head and grinned.
“I remember that!” he said, laughing. “That was a damn good
guitar. I wanted to buy it from her.”


So there you have it. He was right – it was a damn good guitar. I should’ve hung on to it. But then, I wouldn’t be able to tell you this story now if I did hang on to it. I guess you
could say it had a good trajectory, too.



Alex Chilton Memorial on Tuesday


Tribute concert also
scheduled for May 15 in Overton Park in Memphis.


By Fred Mills


Tuesday from 5 to 8pm in Memphis a memorial serviced dubbed “a
remembrance” will be held for Alex Chilton, who passed away March 17,
apparently from a heart attack. It’s being arranged by Chilton’s widow, Laura,
and his sister, Cecelia Chilton and will take place at Minglewood Hall (1555 Madison). It will be open
to the public.


News reports about the event quote Cecelia Chilton as
saying, “We decided we didn’t really want to close the service. It’s really
going to be more of a gathering and an open house, nothing really formal, and
no live music.” Adding that people are welcome to share photos and stories of
Chilton, she said, “I would like to encourage people to write down their ‘Alex
tales.’ We probably won’t read them all aloud, but we’ll make them available
for others to read, and for Laura to keep.”


Chilton’s family is also suggesting that in lieu of flowers,
donations can be made in Chilton’s name to the New Orleans Musicians Clinic:,
or 1525 Louisiana Ave., New Orleans, La. 70115; checks payable to New Orleans
Musicians’ Assistance FDN.




Meanwhile, Chilton’s surviving Big Star bandmates have
marked May 15 for a tribute concert in honor of the musician. (That was
originally the date of a Big Star concert.) It’s to be held at 7pm at the
Levitt Shell in Memphis’ Overton Park:
general admission tickets $20, VIP tickets $65 – or 1-(888)-718-4253.


They show will feature Jody Stephens, Jon Auer and Ken
Stringfellow, plus special guests tba. It comes on the heels of the March 20
Chilton tribute show in Austin
where assorted guitarists and vocalists performed Big Star songs with the trio.
(Read the firsthand BLURT account here.)





Also at BLURT: a candid (though heartfelt) remembrance of
penned by Barbara Mitchell, who worked with Chilton and Big Star from




Brother JT Returns w/Book-CD Project


meets “messed up country, disco and dope-hop” – but of course!


By Fred Mills


Psychedelic pharmacist (that’s “rock musician” in layman’s
terms) Brother JT has just published a book called Orange Journal, which he characterizes as “automatic writing and
drawing.” We’re pretty big fans of JT here at BLURT and profiled him back in
October of 2008 – you can read the story and interview here.


The description of the project, at his official website,
where you order it directly, reads thusly:


“A 130-plus page, 8.5X11, glossy, full-color, spiral bound
extravaganza. Started as lyric workbook, became spirit-channeling journal
of automatic writing/drawing/collage weirdness. Includes Brother JT’s latest
solo effort, Any Stort In A Porm,
which takes several songs’ lyrics directly from the book. The hazy overall feel of the recording
dovetails nicely with the freeform nature of the book. Musically, it’s
probably closest in spirit to 2007’s Third Ear Candy, with drum
machine, synth, and songcraft taking precedent over wah-wah noise and
singing in tongues, but forays into equally messed-up country, disco,
and dope-hop make it a fairly unique entry in [his] catalog. Numbered
edition of 100.”


Whew – that ain’t many copies. Better order quick. Here’s a
sample page, plus the sleeve art to the CD:




Adds J, of Orange Journal, “I started it as a
lyric workbook, “but before long I felt as if there
were ‘personalities’ that wanted to have their say. In a way, it’s
more of a collaboration than anything, if only with my own subconcious.”


Meanwhile, JT also
recently found time to put together a 70-minute CD compilation of his early
band The Original Sins. Titled Skeletons
in the Garage Vol.2
, it hearkens back to 1988 demo sessions while the group
was planning out their second album The
Hardest Way
. The album, we are advised, “collects those rough
gems, as well as more familiar Sins songs, all commited to tape with
a barn-burning rawness often missing from ‘official’ recordings.”


Sounds right up our alley, Bruh!




Report: Spoon Live in NYC


Selling out a venue –
NYC’s Radio City Music Hall,
on March 26 -that two months prior had Lady GaGa playing to the same-capacity
crowd, Britt Daniel & Co.  struck one
for the little guy.


By Zachary Herrmann


“This place is alright, huh?” Britt Daniel said about midway
through Spoon’s set at the lavish Radio City Music Hall. Though not quite as
humbled by the indoor behemoth of a theater as opener Deerhunter seemed to be,
Daniel wasn’t above acknowledging just how far Spoon had come along.


“I think we are the band that played the most shows at
Brownies that ended up playing Radio City Music Hall,”
Daniel offered, in reference to the East
Village hole-in-the-wall
they had gigged in their (relative) youths. But it didn’t feel like Daniels and
Co. put one over on the mainstream. With a near career-spanning set (sorry, no Series of Sneaks cuts, but really, is
that such a loss at this point?), the band tore through 24 songs in nearly 95
minutes, playing like the veteran rock musicians they have gradually become.


“Put on a clinic” indeed. In New York, even Spoon is bigger
– in addition to auxiliary member Stephen Patterson (White Rabbits), the band
marched out a six-piece horn section (absent from the rest of the tour), not to
mention a couple of surprise guests.


The band’s studio record further cemented by this year’s Transference, you get the feeling that
if Spoon wanted to, the group could get a way with a lot less as live
performers. Hell, plenty of bands (especially in the “indie rock” realm) do it
all the time. Show up, play through whatever’s new, toss in a couple
oldies-but-goodies, 65 minutes and done.


Thanks to New York magazine’s Vulture
we now know Daniel and Co. put a lot of thought into how they
structure a set. The guys really do care! Still, who could have predicted the
fast one Spoon pulled by putting Daniel out there solo, bathed in spotlight for
an acoustic take on “Me and the Bean”?


Eric Harvey then joined him for a two-man rendition of “The
Mystery Zone”, and just as the flashes of Stop
Making Sense
started to run wild, the full group strutted out “Written in
Reverse” in all its raucous, gleeful fashion.


Like The Rolling Stones before them (I know, I know), Spoon
has that uncanny ability to fluctuate between sentimental and sinister without
batting an eye, sometimes in the same song. For all the “Life could be so fair/
Let it go on along” Wall of Sound optimism in “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” (love
those horns…), there’s the downright bleak forecast of “Don’t Make Me a
Target”, or the rolling, ominous tides of “My Mathematical Mind”.


It’s exactly that split dynamic that allows Spoon so much
versatility in a live setting, which is a curious thing for a band that often
catches flack for sounding too much like, well, Spoon. They were completely at
home in The Damned’s monochromatic (but affecting) “Love Song”. Or, when joined
by Eleanor Friedburger of Fiery Furnaces, able to underscore the blue-eyed soul
tinges of “Waiting To Know You”, just as Friedburger found the sass in “Someone
Something” when taking the reins on the Spoon song.


Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade also put in appearance, doing a
nice run through of his band’s “Modern World” before adding a much-appreciated
third guitar to “I Saw The Light”. Between the guests, horns and Patterson, Spoon
had no trouble filling the cavernous music hall, though Daniel’s frantic guitar
seemed capable enough of doing it alone.


He may not be one of the most technically gifted of
guitarists (nor is Spoon a group of virtuoso musicians), but he, and everyone
else in the band, knows how to play the hell of out of their instruments. They
understand the importance of sound structure in the studio and in a live
setting. Hence why “Small Stakes”, a well-received closer, or “Ghost of You
Lingers” sound so much richer live than they do on album.


Different settings require different efforts, and as it was
Spoon’s first time at Radio
City Music
Hall (full disclosure: it was mine too), forgive
them if they went above and beyond. Selling out a venue that two months prior
had Lady GaGa playing to the same-capacity crowd, Spoon struck one for the
little guy. You’re only as big as you play, and by that logic, last Friday
night, Spoon was huge.


Set list:

1)     Me
and the Bean (Britt Daniel solo)

2)     The
Mystery Zone (Daniel and Eric Harvey)

3)     Written
in Reverse

4)     Got

5)     My
Mathematical Mind

6)     Don’t
Make Me a Target

7)     Ghost
of You Lingers

8)     Love
Song (The Damned cover)

9)     Is
Love Forever?

To Know You (Fiery Furnaces cover w/ Eleanor Friedberger)

Something (w/ Friedberger)

 The Beast
and Dragon Adored

 Don’t You

 I Summon

Gets Me But You

 You Got
Yr. Cherry Bomb (w/ horns)

& Soul (w/ horns)

Fisk (w/ horns)

Underdog (w/ horns)

Like Me

– Encore 1 –

Comes Running

 Modern World
(Wolf Parade cover w/ Dan Boeckner)

 I Saw The
Light (w/ Boeckner)

– Encore 2 –



[Photo Credit: Autumn DeWilde]



Truckers w/7” for Rec Store Day


“A stream of conscious wallop of
redneck beat poetry”: The Truckers make high art on their Cooley-centric
special single, available only at indie record shops for Record Store Day,
April 17. Jeezus, look at that sleeve.


By Andy Tennille


April is already a month chock-full of holidays, what with April Fools Day
kicking off the month, MerleFest and JazzFest winding it down and that Sunday
in between when that bunny shits chocolate eggs on everyone’s front lawn.


In the midst of all that revelry, vinyl geeks and rock stars will unite on
April 17 for Record Store Day, the
annual celebration in support of record stores around the world. Check here to
see what some of your favorite artists are saying about Record Store Day,
and here to see if
your local shop is participating.


Drive-By Truckers are ardent
 of record stores worldwide, so it would make sense – what
with their new album, The Big To-Do, issued a couple of weeks ago
– that the Athens, GA rockers might have something special up their
sleeve for this year’s festivities.


So what’s it gonna be – a free acoustic performance at Schoolkids in Athens? Signing copies of
their new album at Amoeba in San
Francisco? A special screening of “The
Secret to A Happy Ending,”
 a documentary about the band being
released this spring?


 How about the much-anticipated solo debut of The Stroker Ace, aka
co-founding guitarist Mike Cooley!


“Coming soon,” Cooley told BLURT in a recent sit
 “It’s done.”


Though at the time tight-lipped on the details, Cooley said the band will be
issuing the special release on April 17 in time for Record Store Day.
“It’s not an album, it’s not a full-length record. It’s not even an
EP,” he added. “There’s no way I can describe it. You’ll think
I’m fucking with you if I start describing it. You’ll just have to see. The
only thing I’ll tell you is this – it’s high art.”


“It’s definitely that,” confirmed Truckers frontman Patterson Hood
with a laugh. “It’s so high art that John Neff plays the sitar.”


True their word, the news arrived this weekend of the Truckers’ special
Record Store Day release, pictured above. Wow. That’s some feather boa, Cooley.
Hood sent out a missive to fans explaining the project:


From Patterson Hood:


We are proud to be a part of this year’s Record Store Day. Like the Bald
Eagle and Healthcare Reform we almost let it get away before pulling out the
stops and saving them in the nick of time. The Bald Eagle has returned in fine
form, but independent record stores are STILL an endangered species. Every year
more and more of these precious national resources are shuttered and closed.
Just last month I heard that one of my favorites is in dire straits.

This year we will be releasing a very special single for Record Store Day, but
first let me take you back in time to January of 2009. Bush was still in the
White House and Sully was an anonymous pilot working his job. Drive-By Truckers
were toiling away in the studio beginning what would become their 10th album.
One night a strange alignment of stars interacted with the perfect chemical
component setting off a chain reaction of events, fitfully captured on 2″
magnetic tape stock as the wily Producer handed over a vintage handheld
microphone to a celebratory Mike Cooley during the playback of a new
instrumental Shonna Tucker composition which said band had just duly nailed in
a fit of R&B perfection never beheld before and WHALAH!!!

Almost everyone in that room knew that magic had just occurred. A stream of
conscious wallop of redneck beat poetry. A channeling of the early morning rant
of a Georgia
taxi driver concerning the closing of another local industry into a form both
compelling and idyllic in its inspiration, articulation and execution. YOUR
WOMAN IS A LIVIN’ THING became nearly everyone in the band’s favorite song of
the 30+ songs we recorded last year. Would it go on The Big To-Do or perhaps be the
fitting end to Go-Go

“Neither,” said Mike Cooley. “No one will ever hear it but us.
It’s for us and us only”.

But Goddamn, Cooley!


Months of negotiation (much like healthcare) but the stubborn NO held until…

An eleventh hour compromise:

See, Cooley loves Record Stores too. He deemed that YOUR WOMAN IS A LIVIN’
THING be released on vinyl and vinyl only to independent record stores to
celebrate that most special of nationally recognized days. He was so excited, he
even went home and wrote and recorded a B-Side (JUST MAYBE) just for the


BLURT has been told that in addition
to their Record Store Day release, the Drive-By Truckers are rumored to be doing an
in-store on April 17 at the mighty Harvest Records, located in west Asheville,
NC. (The band is in Asheville the 16th and 17th for a two-night run at the Orange
Peel venue.) Check out the store on the web at




Jim Marshall 1936-2010 R.I.P.


Legendary rock photographer shot everyone from the Beatles, Rolling
Stones and Ray Charles to Johnny Cash (the infamous middle finger photo),
Hendrix (torching his axe) and the musicians at Woodstock.


By Barry St. Vitus


Hard-living, tough talking,
iconic rock photographer Jim Marshall passed away Wednesday (March 24) in his
sleep, at his Castro Street
apartment in San Francisco.
He was 74.


Marshall, known for his legendary shots of
rock legends in the prime, was a pioneer of shooting personal, candid shots and
building trusting relationships with them. He recently mentioned in one of his
last interviews that gaining his subject’s trust was vital to seeing beyond the
stage presence and gaining that insight into who the artist really was.
Although you may not know his name, you probably grew up seeing his work: The
Beatles at their last live concert at Candlestick Park,
an angry Johnny Cash flipping off the camera, Jimi Hendrix playing pyro with
his guitar onstage, Janis Joplin and her little bottle of Southern Comfort.



His camera captured personal
moments with the Rolling Stones, John Coltrane, Ray Charles, The Grateful Dead,
The Doors and behind the scenes at Woodstock.
Marshall was
also known for being a bit cantankerous, for his taste for whiskey and love of
guns. He frequently carried a concealed sidearm with him. He was always
generous with his time and advice to novice photographers and was deeply
respected by all that knew and worked with him. He was considered by most to be
the God of Rock Photography, his style and ability to share intimate
impressions of the famous, was often copied, but never quite achieved. His
vision through a camera lens was a unique and gifted one.


Quite a few years ago, we were
invited to a house party by long-time friend Ken Light, a professor at U. C.
Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, where we were introduced to Mr.
Marshall. My wife and I brought along a friend, and we all later gravitated out
to the front porch, so they could smoke, where we were soon joined by Jim, who
also needed a smoke. We spent most of that evening hanging on his every word,
sitting on the front steps, partly because he found my female companions
attractive. I avoided asking about his work, as most people don’t want to talk
shop at social gatherings, so we mostly talked about political stuff. Marshall was very opinionated, especially about U.S. involvement in Iraq, and thought that we should be
over there kicking their asses. He wasn’t someone that you felt comfortable
disagreeing with, so we got a real ear-full of his rather intense take on such
matters. He wasn’t what could be called “politically correct.” My friend Ken
later commented that we had latched onto the most famous person at his party.


Marshall recently published the 5th collection of his work, Trust last
year (reviewed here at BLURT) and just released Match Prints, which he did in conjunction with photographers Michael Zagaris and Timothy White. He
had just been in New York
celebrating the release of that book. Despite his gruff persona, he was known
for his generosity, like donating his works for fund raising at charitable
causes and taking in stray animals and giving them a home.



Belle & Sebastian Curate 2nd Bowlie Fest



Mark your calendars
for… December! From the good folks who bring you All Tomorrow’s Parties, natch.


By Blurt Staff


In 1999 Belle & Sebastian curated The Bowlie Weekender,
the event that became All Tomorrow’s Parties, and this December they will
return to headline and curate Bowlie 2. It’s designed to cap a yearlong
celebration of “10 Years of ATP”.

The UK
festival weekend will be held December 10-12 at Butlins Holiday Centre,
Minehead featuring around 40 bands picked by Belle & Sebastian. The first
exciting set of line-up additions will be confirmed on Monday at the general

This will be the second of two festival weekends from ATP this December. The curators
for the first weekend (Dec. 3-5) will be announced on April 9. Plans are also
on to repeat last year’s In Between Days event, which runs at Butlins between
the two weekend festivals and features “intimate performances from a range of
bands”. Details of In Between Days will also be announced on April 9.


Artists picked by Belle & Sebastian will be announced soon. Keep
checking the ATP Bowlie page for updates, and you can also get ticketing info.
There’s already a limited pre-sale going on now.




Belle & Sebastian Curate 2nd Bowlie Fest



Mark your calendars
for… December! From the good folks who bring you All Tomorrow’s Parties, natch.


By Blurt Staff


In 1999 Belle & Sebastian curated The Bowlie Weekender,
the event that became All Tomorrow’s Parties, and this December they will
return to headline and curate Bowlie 2. It’s designed to cap a yearlong
celebration of “10 Years of ATP”.

The UK
festival weekend will be held December 10-12 at Butlins Holiday Centre,
Minehead featuring around 40 bands picked by Belle & Sebastian. The first
exciting set of line-up additions will be confirmed on Monday at the general

This will be the second of two festival weekends from ATP this December. The curators
for the first weekend (Dec. 3-5) will be announced on April 9. Plans are also
on to repeat last year’s In Between Days event, which runs at Butlins between
the two weekend festivals and features “intimate performances from a range of
bands”. Details of In Between Days will also be announced on April 9.


Artists picked by Belle & Sebastian will be announced soon. Keep
checking the ATP Bowlie page for updates, and you can also get ticketing info.
There’s already a limited pre-sale going on now.




Robert Plant Revives Band of Joy Name


Album and tour to feature
Buddy Miller, Darrell Scott and others.


By Fred Mills


Robert Plant, no stranger to collaborations with some of the
best musicians on the planet – there was that Raising Sand album and tour with Alison Krauss back in 2006-07, and
before that some guys named Page, Jones and Bonham -has announced he’s
recording and will be touring this summer with some real heavy hitters: guitarist/producer
Buddy Miller, singer Patty Griffin, multiinstrumentalist Darrell Scott, bassist
Byron House and drummer Marco Giovino.


Rounder will reportedly release the album in late summer
(there’s no title yet), but the tour kicks off July 13 in Memphis
and runs through the end of the month to conclude July 31 in Miami. Dates below.


(The interesting part? He’s calling the group Robert Plant
& the Band Of Joy – which of course is the name of the band he fronted in
the mid ‘60s prior to joining Led Zeppelin. Even more interesting is that two
of his former bandmates reformed Band of Joy in the late ‘70s and recorded a
couple of albums before splitting up again. Check out the BoJ Wikipedia page for full details.)


In a statement posted to Plant’s website, the singer
observed, of the recording sessions, “It’s been a blast working on these new
songs…and I’m enjoying such creativity and vitality. It’s been a remarkable
change of direction for all of us and as a group we all seem to have developed
a new groove.”


July Tour Dates:

13 – Memphis, Tenn. @ The Orpheum Theater
15 – Little Rock, Ark. @ Robinson Center Music Hall
16 – Tulsa, Okla. @ Brady Theater
18 – Albuquerque, N.M. @ Sandia Casion Amphitheater
20 – Phoenix, Ariz. @ Dodge Theater
21 – Tuscon, Ariz. @ Anselmo Valencia Amphitheater
23 – Dallas, Texas @ Meyerson Symphony Hall
24 – Houston, Texas @ Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillion
26 – Austin, Texas @ Stubbs Waller Creek Amphitheater
28 – Mobile, Ala. @ The Saenger Theatre
30 – Clearwater, Fla. @ Ruth Eckerd Hall
31 – Miami, Fla. @ Bayfront Park Amphitheater