Monthly Archives: November 2015

Phil Cook Headlines Unique N.C. Museum/Music Event

Phil Cook 671 KB Image crop

In January, Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem continues its winning streak of essential concerts.

By Blurt Staff

A couple of years ago we published (in both the print edition and online site) a wide-ranging feature on NC’s Megafaun as well as an accompanying feature on the band’s own resident uber-multi-tasker Phil Cook. Despite the above photo’s implication, the dude doesn’t sit, or stand, still—we’ve learned that Phil Cook will headline Crossroads @ SECCA #014 next month in Winston Salem, on Jan. 22. According to the concert organizers, Triangle rockers The Dead Tongues and Shenandoah Valley instrumental guitarist Daniel Bachman will open the triple bill.

Notes Crossroads @ SECCA curator (and longtime BLURT contributor) Andy Tennille, “Phil Cook is one of those rare talents that comes along once in a generation. He can play most any instrument you put in front of him, and his energy and musicality are infectious. He makes every recording, concert or musical event he’s involved in better. His new album, Southland Mission, is easily among my favorite records released this year. With The Dead Tongues and Daniel Bachman along for the ride, January 22 will be another great night of music at SECCA.”

It should be an impressive and, as the saying goes, user-friendly event, to say the least: Doors will open at 5 pm, and the music will begin at 7 pm, while ood trucks will be on hand and beer from Foothills Brewing will be available. (BLURT will certainly be there.) Full details and tickets, etc. at


Below, watch Cook’s video for “1922,” from his recent Southland Mission film, then listen to/watch the official audio clip of the Southland Mission track “Ain’t It Sweet”. The latter, incidentally, is indeed what we here at BLURT would call “sweet,” no lie.


Note for non-North Carolinians: The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, N.C. seeks to enhance perspectives, inspire community and ignite new ideas at the intersection of art and its visitors. Located at 750 Marguerite Drive, the museum is open Tuesday through Sunday.

Sinead O’Connor Distraught/Suicidal, “Unwell”, “Safe and Sound”


By Barbi Martinez, Blurt Intern

Breaking news is like the proverbial snapshot that keeps snapping: today, in the case of Sinead O’Connor, it was appearing as if she’d had a suicide attempt due to an emotional tussle with family, but is now okay and possibly receiving treatment – although it’s hard to confirm much of what’s been going on. What we do know, according to Ireland’s Breaking News site:

About 6 hours earlier she posted to Facebook: “There is only so much any woman can be expected to bear. What was done to me this week was appalling cruelty. By my husband, my family, by St Pats and by An Gardai Siochana, by my son, Jake and by Donal Lunny and Angela singleton, by my son’s girlfriend, his friends… after everything I’ve been put through and been forced to go through alone .. And punished for having to go through since I had the surgery on August 26th. Or since Shane became unwell in March, This week has broken me. The withholding of my babies from me without any sound reason by their fathers, Frank and Donal, and by Jake and the rest of my family, is a horrific set of betrayals. And has been going on since I had my surgery. The last two nights finished me off. I have taken an overdose. There is no other way to get respect. I am not at home, I’m at a hotel, somewhere in ireland, under another name
If I wasn’t posting this, my kids and family wouldn’t even find out. Was dead for another fortnight since none of them bother their hole with me for a minute. I could have been dead here for weeks already and they’d never have known. Because apparently I’m scum and deserve to be abandoned and treated like shit just when I’ve had my womb and ovaries chopped out and my child is frighteningly sick. I’m such a rotten horrible mother and Person, that I’ve been alone. Howling crying for weeks. And been told by them all t go fuck myself. I’m invisible. I don’t matter a shred to anyone. No one has come near me. I’ve died a million times already with the pain of it. So yeah.. Strangers like me.. But my family don’t value me at all. They wouldn’t know if I was dead until weeks from now if I wasn’t fucking informing them now.

“well done guys, you’ve finally got rid of me. Sorry the penny didn’t drop sooner. I’m an idiot. When you planned to get me away from my babies did you plan for me losing my mind over it? It being the final straw? For how you’re gonna explain why I died? Make sure you tell the truth. BARRY.. THEY WONT. YOURE THE ONLY ONE WHO KNOWS ME OR THE TRUTH. PLEASE STAND FOR ME AND TELL IT. i can’t play twister. My children don’t care if I live r die anyway. Neither do their dads. Everyone is better off. Never ever do this to a woman again. Let this be your lesson. I survived it when John waters did it.. I can’t survive Jake doing it.”

No official statement was immediately forthcoming from a spokesman for An Garda Síochána, citing privacy concerns. Later, though, according to Breaking News, “Gardaí at Pearse St station have confirmed that singer Sinead O’Connor has been located “safe and sound” and is receiving medical assistance.” And Pitchfork, reaching out to the O’Connor camp, finally heard back and reported that “A representative has confirmed that O’Connor is “unwell and receiving treatment.””

So that’s where things stand right now. Stay tuned for updates.



Here’s That Immigrants/Impoverished HuffPo Xmas Essay by Steve Albini


Shameless internet theft division… but we do give the link. Plus, it’s a damn fine essay worth putting out there, folks. Let’s make it go viral. Hashtag: #immigrants

By Barbi Martinez, Blurt Intern

Ask me sometime about our Editor‘s encounter, during his editorial tenure with indie rock avatar Magnet Magazine, with raconteur Steve Albini… meanwhile, here is what the industry icon/gadfly Albini is contributing to the current discourse, via the Huffington Post


Albini writes:

Nineteen years ago, my wife Heather Whinna stopped by the post office on the way home. She found bins there full of letters addressed to Santa Claus, left out by the post office for people to read and answer. Curious, she read a few of the letters and couldn’t believe what she saw.

These weren’t impish requests for toys or a new bike; mostly, they were desperate pleas from heads of households asking for help. It was staggering. People let down by the remnants of a social safety net, without families or abandoned by their families, people suffering sickness, poverty and abuse. People so far out on a limb that they swallowed what pride they had left, took pen in hand and wrote down everything that had failed them, everything that had broken or been stolen, everything that had hurt them and made them feel fear and shame and worry.

They described anguish over their children’s needs, their hunger, their lack of appropriate clothing, school supplies and other basic needs.They described homes they could barely afford to stay in, wretched though they were. They described relationships wracked by abuse, the legal system, disease and addiction. They addressed their problems to Santa Claus at the North Pole and sent them by mail into the vacuum of humanity that had left them so desperate.

It seemed impossible, yet there it was. She took one of the letters home and showed it to me. I couldn’t help but be moved when I read it, and the realization that there were hundreds — no, thousands — of these letters changed something in me.

Between us, we put together a parcel: some clothes, some needed items mentioned in the letter, some money. On Christmas morning, we drove to an address unannounced, found the letter writer and gave her the package. We did the same the next few years for a couple of families, whatever we could manage. Heather works at the Second City theater in Chicago, and concurrent with her letter-reading, Andy Cobb, her colleague at the Second City, produced a marathon 24-hour improv show to raise money for a homeless shelter. Andy and Heather decided to combine their efforts and arranged a 24-hour show at the Second City in December, 2002 to raise money for the letters. That first year, the show allowed us to help even more families, turning Christmas morning into an all-day affair.

Meeting these people where they lived, seeing how they held their families together with nothing more than the frayed fibers of their willpower, made me want to do it again, do it more, find more of them. The places they had to live barely qualified as enclosed spaces, much less domiciles. Broken or missing windows were patched with tape and newspaper or left un-mended. Wind and snow blew in through gaps in walls and doors. A house suitable for a couple of people could be divided into as many as eight tiny spaces, each holding a family.

These people were exploited on all fronts. Recent immigrants had to suffer unimaginable indignities just to arrive, and once here be exploited by employers and slum landlords. Too afraid and vulnerable to complain or look elsewhere, they hid in death trap squalor, bound by fear. They knew to be afraid of authorities, afraid of local criminal gangs, afraid of what might happen to children they had to leave alone when they went to work, afraid for their families back home, afraid they might lose touch with children they had to leave behind, afraid that, for the most capricious of reasons, they might lose the tenuous hold they had on a potential life here.

The places the poor and afraid are forced to live–single rooms, dirt-floored basements, empty garages and storage cubicles–makes me simultaneously shudder with both the indignity of their plight and rage that there is a class of man who could extort rent for such an existence. Who is that motherfucker, that piece of shit that chases people into a basement using fear as a torch? Bring me to him so I can spit in his eye.

Over time, The Second City That Never Sleeps’ 24 Hour show has become an annual tradition and an essential element of the culture of Second City. As it grew, it developed its own traditions. The show has musical and variety interludes, but the core improvising actors remain onstage and on their feet for the entire 24 hours. All the performers perform for no fee. Some buy themselves a ticket to the event and donate additionally through auctions and propositions. Shortly after the show was established, Jeff Tweedy joined the effort, performing and selling private concerts by auction, sometimes as many as three a year. The Second City solicits donations from its nightly audiences and matches the donated amount.

In its best years, Letters to Santa raised enough to change the trajectory of more than a dozen of Chicago’s poorest families. It’s an inviolable principle of the effort that every cent of the money raised goes directly to people in need, either as gifts or direct assistance. There is literally no overhead, and over the years, we have distributed over a million dollars directly into their hands. Families have been able to move into better housing and safer living conditions, solve health crises, relocate and reunite family members, and otherwise stabilize precarious lives in a way that enabled them to flourish.

The post office no longer allows full access to letters addressed to Santa, though they still collect them. There’s now a preposterous official system, whereby they give you a letter with a code number and you give them a parcel and they try to mail it to the recipient for you. Most of the places we go to on Christmas don’t have secure mail delivery and certainly don’t have anybody free or willing to come to the door to receive a parcel. Some don’t even have what you could identify as a front door.

Since this policy change, we’ve had to use non-governmental aid agencies to help us find families in need. We found families through the Jane Addams Hull House until it closed in 2012, and since then we’ve worked with Onward Neighborhood House. The extent of poverty in the city makes it inevitable that we are missing some families, families who are outside the reach of an aid organization, doubtless still addressing their need and fear to Santa Claus at the North Pole, but if the nature of need is that it is all around us, then reaching in any direction allows us to make a dent in it.

We go on Christmas because people will be home. If employed, they will have that day off. If a family is scattered, Christmas brings people home. This one day like no other brings families together, so we can be pretty sure to find everyone mentioned in the letters in one place. We go with a small group of friends, sometimes Jeff Tweedy, his wife Sue Miller and their boys Spencer and Sam, sometimes actors from the show, but always including Tim Midyett, Vickie Hunter and their daughter Lila. Lila is 11 now and has spent every Christmas of her life in a van with us delivering gifts to people she’s never met before. It’s literally all she’s ever known as Christmas. We make a point of having someone who can speak Spanish conversationally to help convince people used to being afraid that we mean no harm when we ask them to open their doors. The last few years Fred Armisen, born in Venezuela, has come along in that role.

I haven’t had a conventional Christmas morning in almost 20 years. I haven’t missed it.


Track Premiere: Bobby Rush “Ride in My Automobile”

Bobby Rush in a Fiat 6

Blues legend will have huge box set out this week.

By Blurt Staff

Presumably you are getting ready for the Record Store Day Black Friday event at the end of this week, so you will have no excuse not to consider also picking up the 4-CD career retrospective Chicken Heads: A 50-Year History of Bobby Rush (Omnivore). That would be by blues/soul/funk/disco/R&B legend Bobby Rush, of course, and this would be Friday, Nov. 27. Now, the BLURT braintrust has long been fans of Rush—ask us sometimes about all the vinyl we’ve got down in the basement—so the fact that we get to unveil a special track from the collection comes a particular treat. Check out “Ride in My Automobile”:

Rush himself comments on the track:

How that song came by is from when I was a teenager riding in a car and especially a convertible. My daddy had a new car. Once a week my daddy would let me drive the car to church or school. If you have a car you had all the girls. Let me ride in your automobile. I reversed it though…I wasn’t talking about a car; this girl was a fine girl she had fine legs and I really wanted to make love to her. I found out she had too many boyfriends. After I talked to her I said “I can’t date you girl, because you have too many boyfriends. You have a cute little car and it looks good, but you have too many men, one for each day of the week.” It means you have too many men, I’m not looking for a one night affair, I’m looking for a girl to be my own. 

They would say “Bobby Rush I want to go with you.” I’d say “Baby I can’t ride in your automobile. You have a nice frame, but you have too many drivers at your wheel. You have a man in the daytime and a man at night, with that many men driving your car that just won’t treat it right.” In other words, it’s tight today but pretty soon it’s going to be loose.”

As co-producer and longtime Rush publicist Cary Baker adds, “The song was released 40-some-odd years ago. But you’d have to have the original—scratchy—45 RPM to own it. So this is a digital premiere.”

Bobby Rush in a Fiat 1

The box is an embarrassment of Rush riches, four discs and 78 tracks’ worth of musicality that’d blow the socks off even a seasoned Rush collector. The booklet itself is a piece of art, crammed with rare photos, priceless reproductions of record sleeve art and, in addition to music historian Bill Dahl’s extensive liner notes, testimonials from the like of Mavis Staple, Elvin Bishop, Leon Huff, Denise LaSalle and Al Bell.

Rush, quoted in the liners, summarizes his long, illustrious career thusly: “I cut a record and hope you like it. It don’t have anything to do with a white audience or a black audience. I just do what I know to do, and that’s all I know to do.”

Amen to that.

Rush on the web:

Bobby Rush

Sigur Ros: New Tour for 2016 Will Debut New Material


Start booking those summer flights to Europe, fans…

By Blurt Staff

Well, this is pretty straightforward, considering the sometimes-obtuse/sometimes-inscrutable goings-on that mark the Sigur Ros universe. The band has posted the following notice of an upcoming tour that will focus heavily on new, unreleased material:

“every time you go on tour you want it to be different…and every time it is, usually because you have a new album you want to play people. and that can be fun, because you have to work out how to recreate all the complicated stuff you did in the studio for the stage. but there was a time when things were the other way round, when we worked stuff out on the road, and trying to capture lightning in a bottle was a problem for the studio later on. this time, in addition to playing songs you know, we wanted to remember the seat-of-your-pants feeling experienced in the wake of, ágætis byrjun, when for two years we formed and re-formed the songs that would go on to be the ( ) album, live in front of people, night after night. with this in mind, we are pleased to announce that we are playing festivals next summer in the spirit of adventure. all we can say right now is it’s going to be different, with new unreleased songs, a new show and maybe some other *new* things. beyond that, we can only ask you to trust us on this one”

The tour dates are slated, thus far at least, for Europe only and will take place June-August. View those dates HERE.

MP3: Download a Truly Kosmiche Ash Ra Tempel Koncert 10/24/15


Space rock supreme…

By Uncle Blurt

Around the BLURT mothership I am known as the resident Krautrock fanatic, er, expert, but it was still a surprise to learn recently that Ash Ra Tempel is still operating. Formed by guitarist Manuel Göttsching, keyboardist/drummer Klaus Schulze (late of Tangerine Dream, of course) and bassist Hartmut Enke in 1971, the group went through numerous permutations, with Gottsching being the lone constant. (For awhile he operated simply as Ashra.) Along the way, such psychedelic, atmospheric and, yes, classic LPs as Schwingungen in ’72 and Starring Rosi in ’73 were released, and the band would go on to be a major influence on contemporary psych bands, particularly during the ‘90s when CD reissues allowed the group to be discovered by a younger generation.

Apparently Gottsching is still at it, as evidenced by this concert about a month ago in Holland.

MP3: Ash Ra Tempel – E-Live Festival, De Enck, Oirschot, Holland, Oct. 24, 2015.

It’s available now at Big O zine as a free MP3 download along with downloadable artwork, and it’s an audience-sourced beauty, just Gottsching on keyboards (!) and Lutz Graf-Ulbrich on guitar. Just the full track alone, the 18-minute “Echoes,” is worth the kosmiche kost of admission alone, its ambient-tilting textures leavened by intricate extrapolations that incorporate bluesy psych and, naturally, motoric rhythms (this despite the absence of a drummer). The full tracklist is below.


      rack 101
. Echoes 17:43 (29.8MB)
      Track 102
. Le Berceau de Cristal 14:51 (25.0MB)
      Track 103
. Le Diable dans la Maison 4:51 (8.1MB)
      Track 104
. Silence Sauvage 4:14 (7.1MB)
      Track 105
. Le Sourie Vole 6:46 (11.4MB)

      Track 201
. L’hiver Doux 16:04 (27.0MB)
      Track 202
. Unreleased 8:23 (14.1MB)
      Track 203
. Lotus 17:02 (28.6MB)
      Track 204
. Oasis 7:22 (12.4MB)

Track Premiere: Stephen Kellogg “Almost Woke You Up”

S Kellogg

Taken from terrific new upcoming album, due in February.

By Blurt Staff

Rocker and songwriter Stephen Kellogg is on the verge of another artistic peak upon the Feb. release of South, West, North, East, a thematic album with the premise of recording each “geographic section” in a different region of the USA, with different co-producers and different groups of musicians. The West section of the album, in fact, will be streaming on Spotify starting next Saturday, on Nov. 28; South is already streaming, while North begins streaming on Dec. 25 and East on Jan. 15. We’ve got a tasty teaser for the BLURT readership right now, the West track “Almost Woke You Up.” Check it out:

Discussing the song, Kellogg notes, “Like many folks, I live with other people. In my case it’s my wife and four daughters. I see them at their best and their worst. Conversely they see me in the same extremes. Sometimes at night I walk around and stare at these souls in rest, and am flooded with a sense of longing to tell them everything I wish that I had said and done throughout the day to let them know they were loved. Instead I wrote this song. ”

The album itself is a riot of musical diversity: the Southern rock flavor of “South” (recorded in Nashville and Atlanta) slides into the cowboy motif of “West” (recorded on a farm in Boulder, CO); and the more indie rock feel of “North” (recorded in a cabin in Woodstock, NY) gives way to the songwriter pop of “East” (recorded in Washington DC). “I’ve never felt that the genre was as important as the message,” says Kellogg, “and making the record this way was a chance to really explore that idea.” It can be pre-ordered at Amazon as well as iTunes.


Kellogg on the web: ;


Foo Fighters Make New EP Free Following Paris Attacks


Listen to the tunes, below, but don’t forget to donate.

By Blurt Staff

“Now, there is a new, hopeful intention that, even in the smallest way, perhaps these songs can bring a little light into this sometimes dark world, To remind us that music is life, and that hope and healing go hand in hand with song.”

That’s Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters talking, in an online post about his band’s new 5-track Saint Cecilia EP, that had already been slated for release but is now being made available as a free download at the St. Cecilia EP site  (if you want it on vinyl, check the links) as well as iTunes. Apple Music and Spotify have it on their non-premium streams as well.

It’s intended as a gesture from the band about the Paris terrorist massacre. And if you want to donate to the victims of the Paris attacks, you can do that as well.

Foo Fighters canceled the European dates remaining on its current world tour following the Paris attacks.

Watch New Miley Cyrus and “Flaming Lips” Video

Miley no Lips

Call the Humane Society… guaranteed, no animals were given LSD during this mega-pixeled, liquid-lighted, uber-calling blowout par excellence!

By Barbi Martinez, Blurt Intern

It’s a new Miley Cyrus video, so you know the drill. Although it is apparently co-directed by the provocative pop diva and Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, so that means you at least get more psychedelic bang for your buck than your average Pitchfork reader might otherwise get. The song, of course, is from Miley’s latest album, Dead Petz, for which she is touring, with the Lips in tow, and the song is called “Lighter.” Somewhere in the middle of it the singer smokes a cigarette. Or something similar.Wait, is there a Record Store Day Black Friday limited edition one-hitter to synch with this?


Songwriting Legend P.F. Sloan 1945-2015 R.I.P.

PF Sloan

His “Eve of Destruction” remains timeless—and timely.

By Fred Mills

Along with the truly timeless Barry McGuire hit “Eve of Destruction,” he penned chart-toppers for the Turtles, Grass Roots, Herman’s Hermits, Johnny Rivers, the 5th Dimension and the Mamas & the Papas: songwriter and folksinger P.F. Sloan, who passed away Nov. 15 at his Los Angeles home. Sloan, 70, died of pancreatic cancer.

Sloan, born Phillip Gary Schlein, was known as a recluse who, according to the Los Angeles Times, “dropped from public view” a few years after the McGuire mega-hit and anti-war anthem, which apparently had also prompted a huge backlash from conservative corners, with some even going so far as to pressuring Billboard magazine to manipulate its chart standing in downward slide. He also is said to have been cheated out of royalties due to him.

Adds the Times, “For decades, he suffered from severe depression. He was hospitalized and claimed he had been given ‘lobotomy pills.’ Whole years disappeared from his memory… ‘I was ill I guess for a good 20, maybe 25 years,’ he told The Times in 2006. ‘It’s been overcome and there’s hope…. I mean, depression and hypoglycemia, it’s a tremendous battle…. Catatonia for a long time.’”

Sloan later managed to pull himself together, living with his parents until their deaths and also doing occasional work to augment whatever royalty monies did come in. He never fully returned to the public eye, however, performing occasionally in recent years and also releasing the 2014 album My Beethoven.

Incidentally, Sloan was always held in the highest regard by his peer community – no less a songwriting giant than Jimmy Webb even wrote a song called “P.F. Sloan” that sang the man’s praises. Below, listen to a cover of that tune by Rumer, followed by the McGuire song, a solo Sloan track, and then watch an interesting latterday performance of “Eve” in which Sloan talks about its creation.