Thursday, February 23, 2006

Honky Tonkin' With J. B. Beverly and the Wayward Drifters

This weekend it was great to hang out at the Full Moon Saloon in Baltimore and see JB Beverly and the Wayward Drifters. I was in town to work on our forthcoming CD by the Left with Mr Jim Swope who is sharing his time these days with his own rockin band, Lucky Man, and playing git for JB. Jim's been with JB for about a month and was coaxing me to catch their act so I did. JB Beverly is yet another byproduct of the dc punk scene and even once sang with the Murder Junkies, but these days his music is straight honky tonk mixed in with a little blues and played with a rowdy punk spirit. In case anybody's been paying attention, this whole country/punk/hellbilly scene has been erupting with great bands who have building up their scene for years. JB is part of that whole crowd and is buds with the great Wayne Hancock and Hank III as well as my pals Antiseen and he fits right in with that hell raisin crew.

JB's new Cd Dark Bar and a Jukebox will be out on April 2 and is well worth checkin out. The title cut is one of those honky tonk numbers that would sound great on a jukebox in a dark bar, and it laments the fact that there's no country played on country radio. Well now at least they have Outlaw Country on Sirius where you can hear some of these great new bands(and hopefully JB shortly) as well as classic country which never gets airtime. The Wayward Drifters would sound great on a jukebox or the radio, but live you get the whole shebang and with the addition of Jimmy's twangy Telecaster, you get a shit hot rockin combo that doesnt quit. It was a helluva lot of fun seeing these guys for the first time and their love and passion for the tunes they're playing is obvious.

Check out the nut Banjer Dan saluting the audience as he gets carried away! It musta been during JB's instant classic tune of heartbreak "Fuck You (and Anyone That Looks Like You)". It's no wonder that everyone in the band has the same whiskey bent and hellbound attitude. Like Hank III they are indeed crazed country rebels! I cant wait to hear the Dark Bar and a Jukebox CD and I am sure everyone will be hearing more about these hooligans soon. I'm gonna go back for a second round or two, cause once I had a little taste, I was hooked!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Bobb Trimble's Dreams Harvested by Others

Anyone familiar with the Bobb Trimble LPs from the early 80s, Iron Curtain Innocence and Harvest of Dreams, knows those self-released works are dazzling jewels of crystalline dreamlike psychedelic folk augmented by some prog rock touches, unusual percussion, and even some firey fuzzed out electric guitar. A quick check on shows the LPs sell on Ebay consistenly in the $300-900 range. It’s highly unusual for 80s records to go for that kind of money and it seems the cult of Bobb is ever growing. No doubt this is a testament to the almost magical quality of the music contained within. These are finely crafted songs with layers of sound that at the same time are dense and airy, and the lyrics mirror the dreamlike sounds with their fantastic tales of longing and despair. Its not unusual to have sounds pop out of nowhere–suddenly you hear the plinking of vibes, a stray flute, synthesizer squeals, a sitar, or even the voices of children. The garden of delights is indeed a Harvest of Dreams and these very personal LPs are a window into Bobb Trimble’s soul. Like his LPs it is fragile and delicate, yet strong and defiant just like the war metaphors that run thru his songs.

It’s a great shame that Bobb Trimble is now fighting his own personal war in an all too public forum. Despite the fact that authorized issues of his work in both the US and overseas (the swell comp from the above 2 LPs, Jupiter Transmissions, was issued in 95 by Parallel World in NYC and in 2002 Orpheus in Denmark released Life Beyond the Doghouse)have been available for years, the UK company Radioactive decided to give Harvest of Dreams their “deluxe” treatment which consisted of mastering a CD from a vinyl LP and shooting a pic of the cover. Naturally, in their haste to make money off Bobb Trimble’s intellectual property, they neglected to ASK PERMISSION FROM THE ARTIST! Now any reader of this blog may have picked up on the fact that Bona Fide was treated like dirt by those bootleggers who refused to pay George Brigman a cent after booting his Jungle Rot LP on CD so this news is certainly no shock. Despite the type of actions that we expect from a unrepentant bootlegger, it is particularly galling how this company has no respect at all for the artists who make the music they sell! They profess to be at the top of the pile of labels that reissue obscurities, but I am starting to get a whiff of what is exactly in that pile!

We all know the reissue scene is crowded with those of dubious legality, and in some cases the concerned parties simply cant be found; however, what we have seen with both the Bobb Trimble and George Brigman treatment, is not only that Radioactive was unwilling to do a proper search to find the artists, but also refused to deal with them in a fair and honest manner once they were caught. Harvesting Bobb Trimble’s dreams amounts once again to outright thievery and there is no excuse for any reputable business to conduct itself in this manner. The arrogance with which Radioactive treats the artists it bootlegs is matched only, apparently, by their criminal intent. Kris Thompson in Boston is working with Bobb to release authorized expanded CD editions from the master tapes of his two classic LPs. It would be a wise choice to wait for those so you can support a deserving artist, instead of ripping him off. In the meantime, if you don’t know this swell stuff, go to Bobb Trimble’s My Space and check it out!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Spazz and Slop Poll 2005: Top Three Bona Fide Releases of the Year

Ok, so I was a bit miffed at being passed over in the Village Voice Pazz and Jop Poll this year, but since we've only been back for about 6 months, its no big shock. Still kudos to the Voice are in store for their irreverent editor ,Chuck Eddy, whose astute perceptions placed both our Brigman CD's in his Eddytor's Dozen and also staffers Jess Harvell, who interviewed George Brigman and myself for a fine lengthy piece in the Baltimore City Paper, and also George Smith who continues to recognize musical excellence when he sees it!

So without further ado, here are the top three Bona Fide releases of 05 as tabulated from a poll of all our employees who are old enough to drive:

1. Jungle Rot--George Brigman (Anopheles LP)
2. (tie)I Can Hear the Ants Dancin--George Brigman and Split(Bona Fide/Solid CD)
2. (tie)Jungle Rot--George Brigman(Bona Fide/Solid CD)

Jungle Rot--George Brigman(Radioactive CD091, UK)
Jungle Rot/I Can Hear the Ants Dancin--George Brigman (Synton CD, Austria)

Looks like its a clean sweep for George Brigman! Not only that but we were kept out of the top spot of our own poll by that swell vinyl that we licensed(Bootleggers take note: that means they asked for permission and paid us too!) to Anopheles in San Francisco! Congrats to Karl Ikola for the meticulous attention to quality that resulted in a swell exact repro of George's classic album that for the first time presented the album as recorded by George the way he intended it to sound(actually not bad for a teenager who was learning as he went along). It was something I had unsuccessfully tried to talk George into for 20 years and it was worth the wait! I'd love to fly to San Fran to personally present Karl with his Spazzy award, but I will have to settle for a big Thank You! for now. THANKS! As easy as the top spot was to pick, the runner up was quite difficult. I love the Jungle Rot LP through and through but the incredible songs, psychedelic jams,and flat out rockers of I Can Hear the Ants Dancin also deserved note. The fact the Ants CD was originally one of my very first forays into the music biz back in 82 also weighed heavy. So we wound up in a dead heat, tied for second!

Admittedly, our list of releases was quite modest, though starting from scratch, trying to do give George's unique music the stellar treatment it deserved and simultaneously fighting the sale of two European bootlegs while "negotiating" with the "labels" involved was quite a daunting task.
Another big THANKS to Jade Hubertz who not only helped finance our releases but distributed them as well. He was an immense help and was quite patient while we took forever to get the sound right. I am again finding out what I already knew: its great to have friends in this business, because you certainly need them! Not every one was our friend, and unfortunately, some valued money over doing the right thing and telling the truth;hence, the need for the Hall of Shame.

There's no need to go into details again, but suffice to say if they were at all concerned with helping the artists they release, instead of themselves, all Radioactive and Synton needed to do was cut us a check and say they were sorry. That didnt happen. Radioactive said they would send us a photo of the destroyed CDs in a dumpster. That never happened and they continue to list their CD by catalog # on their site for purchase. So I ask you Jimmy Plummer, mr radioactive big shot, why did you lie to us and just what the hell did you mean by "As far as I am concerned we have pulled the title from sale" and "I will not be providing you with any evidence other than a photo of the boxes in a skip"??? Photo?? What does "There will be no further sales" mean and HOW DID UK CUTOUT/OVERSTOCK DEALERS GET THE TITLE??? Mr. Plummer, your platform shoes will never make you a big man! While I'm at it, why did you boot Bobb Trimble and put out a shoddy sounding CD of his great Harvest of Dreams LP?

Sorry, if I got off topic, but when time is at a premium and you continually have to monitor the marketplace to prevent more bleeding, you get tired off all the bullshit. Anyway I just wanted to point out a few things and give credit where due. One more thanks, a really big one, for giving us some great music that its easy to get passionate about, to Mr. George Brigman, and may the new year see you prosper like you never have before!