Monthly Archives: June 2014

Bobby Womack 1944-2014 R.I.P.

Bobby Womack

Was a soul songwriter, producer and performer par excellence, working with numerous greats and authoring several now-classic LPs. A survivor, and proud of it.

By Fred Mills

His nickname was “The Preacher” and he surely was one of the finest and most gifted musical reverends the world has even known: Bobby Womack, who passed away yesterday (June 27) at the age of 70. His label, XL Recordings, said that no cause of death has been announced yet, according to the New York Times.

Womack released solo album and wrote songs that were recorded by everyone from Wilson Pickett and Sam Cooke to Janis Joplin and the Rolling Stones. More recently, he mounted a late career comeback of sorts with the Damon Albarn/Richard Russell-helmed The Bravest Man in the Universe album.

Earlier this year, BLURT contributor Hal Bienstock interviewed Womack, who remarked on the unusual collaboration, saying, “When Damon called me and said, ‘Let’s do something in the studio,’ I said, ‘Man, I haven’t recorded in a while. You might not like me. You’re judging me on what I did 20 years ago. A lot of things happened since then.’ He said, ‘You ain’t changed. It’s still there. You were ahead of your time.’”

The son of a Cleveland minister, Womack got his start in a gospel group with his brothers, later forming the Valentinos and notching a hit with “It’s All Over Now.” His solo career would be an up and down affair, but some of his albums have gone on to be regarded as lynchpins of any serious soul collection: 1971’s Communication, 1972’s Understanding and 1981’s two-part epic The Poet. His song “Across 110th Street,” the theme tune to the Blaxploitation film of the same name, is considered one of the greats soul/funk/rock numbers of all time.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. Speaking to BLURT in 2014, Womack noted how years ago he derailed his own career for a long period due to drugs and finally realized he had to walk away and get himself back together.

“When I looked and saw how many artists I grew up with, drugs have killed a lot of talented people,” said Womack. “Talented people always have to go one step beyond to check it out and see what it is. Then they’re hooked. When I see how it has destroyed people, I said, ‘I’m getting away from the business. I want to sing for the feeling of singing, not hyped on something.’ That was a big challenge for me to reach that goal. I’m proud of my life, the way I survived, the way I lived it.”

Memphis Guitarist Teenie Hodges 1945-2014 R.I.P.

Teenie Hodges

Helped usher in a classic era of Memphis soul as spearheaded by Al Green.

By Blurt Staff

Teenie Hodges, born Mabon Lewis Hodges and who was a hugely influential Memphis guitarist and songwriter, passed away June 22 at the age of 68. He’d been hospitalized in Dallas and the cause of death was announced as “complications of emphysema,” according to the Washington Post.

Hodges, of course, was one one of the architects of the vaunted Memphis soul sound of the ‘70s, writing a number of Al Green’s songs (among them, “Take Me To the River” and “Love and Happiness”) and working with producer Willie Mitchell, plus the Hi Records’ studio band: his brothers (organist Charles and bassist Leroy), drummer Howard Grimes and pianist Archie Turner. He also wrote for or worked with O.V. Wright, Syl Johnson, Ann Peebles, Isaac Hayes, Denise LaSalle—and his nephew, hip-hop artist Drake. Meanwhile, his songs were covered by a hugely diverse roster of artists, among them the Talking Heads, Tom Jones, Canned Heat, Mitch Ryder, Delbert McClinton, Graham Central Station and Living Colour.

He got his start at the age of 12 as a member of his father’s blues band, and in 1965 began what would be a long musical association by joining Mitchell’s band. Hodges’ last performance was in March in Austin during South By Southwest, after which he was hospitalized for pneumonia.


Watch New Hard Working Americans Video

HWA

Officially gets the BLURT “two doobies up” seal of approval!

By Fred Mills

We are huge Hard Working Americans fans around here – no, not all the working class stiffs (though they deserve a salute pretty much anytime), but the BAND of that name. Their album, released earlier this year, was pretty ace, and we were doubly chuffed to be able to run an interview of ‘em as well.

Now we’ve got a music video, written and directed by BLURT Associate Editor Andy Tennille, who is not only a journalist but an ace photographer of some serious acclaim. That’s his image, above. So he rounded up the band – Todd Snider, Dave Schools, Neal Casal, Chad Staehly, Jesse Aycock and Duane Trucks – to cut a video of their song “Blackland Farmer,” itself a colver of Frankie Miller’s 1959 hit about working-class perseverance.

According to Tennille, “Our video is a modern-day spin on the original song’s narrative to paint a portrait of what a blackland farmer might look like in 2014.” Check it out, below. And then mark your calendars for July 15: that’s when a limited edition 12″ vinyl single for “Blackland Farmer” is released.

Incoming: Super-limited Colored-vinyl T. Rex “Slider” Reissue

103-2011057N

That’s some nice splatter work…

By Barbi Martinez, Blurt Intern

Another vinyl goodie from Newbury Comics is dropping next month: July 15 will bring the record chain’s (in conjunction with Fat Possum) gorgeous reissue of T. Rex classic The Slider (you know, the one with that Bauhaus cover, “Telegram Sam,” hee-hee). It will be pressed on white vinyl with black splatters (see below) and – get this – will be limited to just 300 copies.

preorder_trexslider_vinyl

According to Newbury: “The Slider is the definitive soundtrack to Bolanmania that swept most corners of the globe during 1972. It was boom-time for manufacturers of lipstick-sized phials of glitter. The music press had a field day, too, seizing the opportunity to debate the rabid tensions between playful pop and sensible rock. But to the many thousands who had succumbed to T. Rextasy, the first great teenage phenomenon of the 1970s, it was – in the words of Morrissey – “many people’s first love affair.””

Better move fast, collectors and T. Rex fans, ‘cos this one will be a sure-fire sellout, and… oh wait. It already sold out in two days when it went on presale. Never mind. It’s off to eBay with you come July 15…

One Death, One Critical Overdose Yesterday at UK’s Glastonbury Festival

Glasto

Plus 12 busts for drugs and theft.

By Barbi Martinez, Blurt Intern

The annual Glastonbury Festival in England is in full swing this week, and yesterday there was both a death and a severe drug overdose. Britain’s Guardian.com reports that the death was a 67-year old woman, who passed away Wednesday (June 24) night from “natural causes… police believe she may have had an underlying medical condition.”

The overdose was a 26-year old man who was taken to a Bristol hospital and is “fighting for his life after having an adverse reaction to the drug ketamine… police did not believe it was contaminated and regarded this as an individual reaction.”

Glastonbury ’14 featured headliners Arcade Fire, Metallica, Jack White (previously reviewed HERE at Blurt), Elbow (reviewed HERE), Black Keys and plenty more. See the poster below for the full roster.

Glasto poster

Power Pop Legends Milk ‘n’ Cookies Return for July Gigs

milkncookies

NYC area band was a contemporary of Ramones, Blondie and others.

By Blurt Staff

Back in the early to mid ‘70s, Milk ‘n’ Cookies was among THE most-likely-to… power pop bands, having formed on Long Island and going on to be a key player on the NYC club scene as epitomized by Max’s Kansas City and CBGB. The group comprised Jay Weiss (soon replaced by Sal Maida), Justin Strauss, Ian North and Mike Ruiz, and their hi-nrg yet tuneful sound not only captured the imagination of fanzine writers all over the land, it also caught the ear of the manager of Sparks, who hooked them up with producer Muff Winwood. An album for Island was cut, although only the “Little, Lost and Innocent” single was released, and by the end of the decade the group was toast. (A proposed live album was also recorded at CBGB in ’76.)

More recently, though, in 2005 the group reunited to play a Brooklyn power pop festival, with their lone album eventually being exhumed for release in 2008 on RPM. Burger Records also stepped in to release the CBGB set on cassette. Since then there have been occasional sightings, and now comes word that a pair of summer concerts are looming.

The original foursome will be playing at Brooklyn’s Baby’s All Right on July 3rd (details HERE), followed by an appearance a few days later at Burger Records’ big Burger Boogaloo bash in Oakland (details HERE). You’d be a schmuck to pass up a chance to see the band if you are in the vicinity of either event.

milk 45

Captured Tracks, incidentally, released the 7″ “Not Enough Girls”/”Nots” for this year’s Record Store Day, and it is already a collector’s item.

Check out that MnC gem for the deep dark past below:

 

Mega-garage/glam/pop Fest Next Weekend at Burger Boogaloo

Burger poster

Or, as Burger puts it, “They’re Coming Right Out Of The Gate With A Lineup To Set The Fields Aflame. Rock & Roll Hall Of Famer Ronnie Spector Doing Ronettes Originals! Milk ‘N’ Cookies And The Gizmos Performing Legendary Pop Stompers! Thee Oh Sees, Off! & Reigning Sound Sending You To The Orgasmtran! And Future Legends Shannon & The Clams, Nobunny And The Muffs Guaranteed To Tickle You Testee!”

By Uncle Blurt

Glom that list of bands at the top of the page – your dear ol’ Uncle fairly weeps with joy at the thought of possibly seeing girl-group legendess Ronnie Spector, not to mention two of my faves from the pre-punk era, Milk ‘N’ Cookies and The Gizmos (both of whom were the subject of many the written appreciation from my battered Smith-Corona back in my ‘70s fanzine days). It all happens next weekend, July 5 and 6, at the Mosswood Park in Oakland.

I mean, who would wanna miss the Reigning Sound, Thee Oh Sees, Nobunny or the Phantom Surfers, either, among the host of 2014-era veterans, either? Loads of up and comers as well.

You can get plenty of details right here, at the Burger site, and meanwhile, here’s the teaser video trailer if you haven’t spotted it already on the interwebs.

 

 

Incoming: New Solo Album From Ethan Johns

Ethan

Previously informed BLURT that shifting his role from producer to artist was all about the songs.

By Blurt Staff

Singer/songwriter (and Grammy-nominated British producer) Ethan Johns will release his next album ‘The Reckoning’ via Three Crows Records on August 12. It’s the followup to 2012’s acclaimed If Not Now Then When and was produced by longtime collaborator & friend Ryan Adams at Adams’ Los Angeles-based Pax-Am studio. Johns explains that the10-track LP “details the travels of fictional character James Younger as he pursues his wayward older brother Thomas across the ocean, and eventually into 1850’s America’s vast Western frontier.” “The record is truly watching the world burn,” adds Adams. “It’s so fire hot, it will burn your soul, and it feels so good too.”

“The stories all spring from the song ‘The Low Down Ballad of James Younger,’” Johns explains about the album’s concept. “It’s about the choices we make as individuals in life, and the effects that those things can have on us. It’s life on a knife edge.”

Watch Johns and Adams talk about ‘The Reckoning’: http://bit.ly/1uCXn3K

In 2013 Johns spoke extensively to BLURT’s own Lee Zimmerman about his work as a producer (not to mention being the son of a famous producer, Glyn Johns) and why he eventually decided to move over to the other side of the recording console”

“I’ve never approached life with much of a plan. I tend to, as much as possible, go with the flow and go on instinct. I don’t tend to let my head make decisions about opportunities when they come up. The fact is, I’ve written songs for quite a long time. I’ve been playing music pretty much all my life really, and I started writing songs when I was a teenager. But I think what ended up happening is that in apprenticing as a recording engineer to my father — which was between the ages of 10 and 15 — I developed an unholy obsession with the art of recording and record making, even though I continued to play and continued to write.

“When I ended up in Los Angeles in my early twenties, I found that I was able to do what I wanted to do — which was to hang out with musicians and play music. Inevitably we would want to record what we were working on, and by default, I was the guy who would always make those recordings, because I was the best engineer in the room. And I was good at helping people to make their recordings. So one thing led to another and I met some extraordinary artists during that time, and also started getting some incredible offers to play with some legendary musicians. You know, I guess I was just too busy learning and helping other people do their thing. I never felt the desire or the need to make a record of my own because I was having so much fun working with other people. I guess that’s what it was!

“When I look back on what I’ve been up to over the last 25 years, there was nary a dull moment. It’s been a pretty amazing run. So I guess something changed. I think a lot of it has to do with the songs. The songs had a louder voice in my subconscious ultimately.”

Baseball Project Preps for National Tour

Baseball Project bw

Includes an NC stop July 13 at Blurt’s sister business Schoolkids Records.

By Blurt Staff

The Baseball Project will embark on a summer tour in July including dates up and down the East Coast and beyond.  The tour follows the release of the band’s third album, 3rd, released on Yep Roc Records on March 25.  The record features 17 swings at the national pastime with subjects including Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and some of the true characters of the game such as once-beloved fallen star of the Mets and Phillies Lenny Dykstra, and acid-tripping pitcher Dock Ellis. Read the BLURT review of the album HERE. 

Enthused our reviewer, “Rock ‘n’ roll, baseball and beer: was there ever a more fitting alliance? Only in America. The only thing missing is an official Baseball Project mascot. Volunteers?”

Inspired by the New York Yankees’ Bernie Williams and his outstanding career (but somewhat overshadowed by the stacked pinstripe history of Mantle and DiMaggio that only ranks him as the third best center fielder in team history), watch their live in-studio performance of “Monument Park” HERE.

The Baseball Project was formed in 2007 by Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows, The Minus 5, R.E.M.) and Steve Wynn (The Dream Syndicate, Steve Wynn and the Miracle 3).  The endeavor began as a way for a couple of fans with a shared musical vision to pay tribute to our national pastime.  Since then, The Baseball Project has blossomed into a full-fledged, much-loved band in its own right. Also on hand are Zuzu’s Petals/Steve Wynn drummer Linda Pitmon and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and Mike Mills, along with Boston Red Sox organist Josh Kantor.

Tour Dates:

July 10 – Birmingham, AL @ Sirote Theatre

July 11 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl

July 12 – Durham, NC @ All-Star Fan Fest at Durham Bulls Athletic Park

July 13 – Raleigh, NC @Schoolkids Records 40th Anniversary Party (w/drivin n cryin & Six String Drag)

July 17 – Washington, DC @ The Hamilton

July 18 – Rehoboth Beach, DE @ Dogfish Head Brewery

July 19 – Ringwood, NJ @ Live at Drew’s

July 20 – New Windsor, NY @ Storm King Art Center (w/ Happiness)

July 22 – New London, CT @ Hygenic Art Park

July 23 – Hudson, NY @ Club Helsinki

July 24 – Rochester, NY @ Party In The Park (w/ Lucero)

July 25 – Reading, PA @ Weekend Kick-off Party at The Abe

July 26 – Harrisburg, PA @ Midtown Arts Center (w/ The Split Squad)

July 27 – Port Chester, NY @ Garcia’s

July 28 – Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe Live (w/ The Split Squad)

July 29 – Portsmouth, NH @ The Press Room

July 30 – Boston, MA @ Great Scott (w/ The Split Squad)

August 1 – Cooperstown, NY @ Brewery Ommegang (w/ Conor Oberst and Dawes)

August 2 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade

August 3 – Asbury Park, NJ @ Asbury Lanes

August 5 – Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar

August 6 – St. Louis, MO @ Duck Room at Blueberry Hill

August 7 – Chicago, IL @ Abbey Pub

August 10 – Madison, WI @ House Party (RSVP to righteousmusicmgmt@gmail.com)

August 11 – Minneapolis, MN @ The Cedar Cultural Center

August 13 – Kansas City, MO @ Record Bar

August 15 – Denver, CO @ Oriental Theater (w/ The Minus 5)

 

Watch Black Lips Perform at Ernie Ball’s “Set Me Up” Series

Black Lips

The Black Lips stopped by the Ernie Ball showroom recently to perform “Drive-By Buddy” off their newest album, Underneath the Rainbow.  You can watch the behind-the-scenes clip HERE. (Or below)

Incidentally, the Ernie Ball series goes beyond a typical session performance and delves into the mind of the artist, inviting them to discuss their inspirations, teach the viewer a few of their favorite riffs, and detail the tools and techniques they use to craft their art. Filmed in Ernie Ball’s state-of-the-art showroom in Los Angeles, episodes give music fans an intimate, behind-the-scenes experience with their favorite artists.

Watch previous Set Me Up episodes HERE.