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Saturday, August 25, 2012

DC Larson

He got home with just enough time to get ready. She'd already left town for the weekend -- some family thing.

He had other plans for the night: another drunken, wrecking revelry spree at the Klub.

He was halfway through the living-room when he saw it.

"What the fuck?!"

Sinking into a chair, he felt sick. Betrayed.

She'd obviously been in a hurry, and had forgotten to hide it.

All this time, she had probably had it stashed undercover in their house. Her wretched secret.

He closed his eyes. A terrible thought presented itself: What if his friends had come over? They'd know!

He looked again, crushed:

A fucking Kenny G CD!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Royal Dead
"Go Bat Go" (Kheperi Global Media, LLC)

A lightning bolt flashes up from the sinister netherworld, its careen hied by three distemperous psychos with un-salved serrated rips in their hearts. Hyper, flayed guitar chord chunks bounce off stone mausoleum walls, only to cede sonic territory to piercing, trebly exhortations; deathly insistent drums pound and dance the amphetemined dance of the triumphant undead; and all the while, massive standup figures unify and, at turns, leap in and around arrangements with deft deliberation. Guitarist Eddie Suicide's fever-stalking narrations lend voice to the chill.

Royal Dead have shared stages with psychobilly notables, including the Meteors, Nekromantix, Chop Tops, and Koffin Kats. In fact, Koffin Kat Vic Victor adds backing vocals to "Death Cycle." And "Zombie Stomp" spotlights the multi-instrument talents of producer D' Mackinnon (formerly of Deviant).  

Hello, Cruel World...

Recommended "Death Cycle," "Dead Sled," "Corpse Bride," "Zombie Stomp"

VIDEO "Death Cycle"

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Bedlamville Triflers
"Goin' Out Tonight" (Bedlamville Records)

Amid their own commendably ablaze entries are aptly-registered readings of Eddie Cochran, the Rock'n'Roll Trio, Larry Terry, Al Ferrier, and Tibby Edwards). All of which would by itself suffice to hoist this above rack-fellows. But on instrumental El Sol De Guerroro," guitarist Shaun Roux rises to testify with musically multilingual articulateness. Gregg Guffey accents the ambitious and successful endeavor with animated, jazz skins. And on cut after cut, upright cat Brian Akers has their backs.

One hopes to hear much more from this group.

Recommended "Graceland," "Blues Stop Knocking At My Door," "Funny Car Mama," "Cattin' Around," "Shift Gears"

VIDEO "El Sol De Guerroro" (live)
The Bad Companions
"What, Me Worry?" (CDBY)

The real country hand-tooled into their Minnesota marrow, and spat-to-hardwood disdain for trendy pretenders ("Kick off your boots, and take off your hat / 'cause you're just puttin' us on") invigorates much here, and admirably. But they do not preclude several more rockin' passages. In twang and doghouse, we know, lies genre fraternity. Besides, since when do dancers care about stylistic distinctions?

Recommended "Dressed In Black," "I Liked Hank Before You Did," ""Let Me Die," "What've You Got To Lose,' "Passage To Texas"
Nico Dupolet & His Rhythm Dude
"Goin' Back To Ya" (LME Recordz)

I'm maintaining a mental list of important contemporary advocates of old-school r&b/rock'n'roll. Nick Curran is on it. So are J.D. McPherson and Jimmy Sutton. New additions Nico and band made the rank as soon as this wax hit the turntable. There's a rightness to the groove, an unerring echo of the golden era combined with Nico's own hip-to-the-tip swagger, that wins as it spins. Mixed by Big Boy Bloater.

PR lit accompanied this France-issued review disc: "Drawing From the roots of the Black Rock'n'roll, and the good dancing afro-american music from the 40s and 50s called Rhythm & Blues, Swing, Boogie. They have for only objective to make the crowd dance and see the people move everywhere, jumpin' all around, blow the brains out!

"If you want a Rock'n'roll Daddy-O, call Nico - He'll be on the go!"

Recommended "Goin' Back To Ya," "Love Locks," "Please Don't Go," "Ready For Raph," "Don't You See"

VIDEO: "Goin' Back To Ya"
Rockhouse Trio
"This Road" (Crazy Times)

Over 14 cuts, Ugo Frugoni, Richard Chan Wai-Hong, and Jean-Louis Pucinelli simmer. Not once do they boil over. And that's a good thing: Amiable ease and gentle measure can be welcome, when all around seems forcibly disquietous. I enjoy this pacific environment, and suspect many others do, as well.

Recommended "This Is Me," "Jungle Rock," "This Road," "Give My Love To Rose," "My Love Is Just For You"

VIDEO: "This Is Me"

The Grizzly Family
"Don't Mess With the Grizzly" (Crazy Times)

None will rest as this jumps, twangs, swings, kicks, and percolates - all in manners most vivid. Even the stroll title track resonates too edgily to indulge pause. Dedicated to Dale Hawkins and Billy Lee Riley, this top-flight neo-rockabilly fun spins merrily into the outer limits of sought fracture.

Recommended "Sometimes," "Speedwoman," "Don't Mess With the Grizzly (echo version)," "Brother," "Come On Let's Rock"

VIDEO: "Don't Mess With the Grizzly" (echo version)
Pete and the Starphonics

"s/t" (Crazy Times)

Pierre Laru (vocals/acoustic rhythm guitar) penned 10 of these 15, and knows well how to put over both emotive rockers and aching ballads. Don't be misled by the cover's nonpartisan sterility - lurking within the grooves is an abundance of healthy bias toward good-times bop crusading. The listener approves finger-poppingly throughout. An ace crew of players is assembled, and they are indeed in high action. But perhaps most resounding here is Pierre's suitability to the rank of covered legends like Cash and Feathers; when he interprets their stellar material, it is as an emerging equal.

Recommended: "Move Closer," "Don't Need To Speak a Word," "Crying Out For Love," "Don't Call My Name," "Blue Moon On My Shoulders"

VIDEO: "Don't Need To Say a Word" (live)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Robbin' Pain
"This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things" (Trunk Rock Records)

In these swaggering upstarts' joyful, youthful mega-charged union of classic harmonies, demolition chordings, Beach Boys/Dictators "woo-woos," and fists-forward dynamics burst into being all the kicks-are-the-thing truth-rewards r'n'r always promised to its thrill-addicted and leather-jacketed acolytes.

Bands like this and their live-wire waxings are a huge part of why r'n'r will never shut up its rebel yell. (The other major factor being yours and my eternal devotion to it; this music IS us.) The venerable is twisted up into new-creatureness by the fresh imaginings of Robbin' Pain's four neon mariachis. Scott Walker's streetcorner wiseass declarations and brash-swiping rhythm guitar; sinewy and in-pocket six-string orations from Rick DalCortivo; drummer Scott "Fat Borch" Borchert's sentient assaults; and Dave "D" Ranges' simultaneously instinctual and scientific bass negotiations.

God bless Robbin' Pain and all they stand for!

Recommended "Lost It In the War," "Does This Bus Stop At All?" "Bagel And A Coffee," "Junkollector," "Odd Lookin' Bird"

VIDEO: "Lost It In the War"

Sunday, February 12, 2012


DC Larson

A guitar is buried in Marshalltown, Iowa. This is why.

A flash point is possible in grassroots-level live music. An organic, vital moment in which emotional and sensory phenomena coalesce in a connected soloist's muse articulation. The spark surges through the crowd, electrifying the atmosphere and leaving listeners viscerally touched.

Skin crawls. Grins erupt. Shouts ring out. And all is right with the world -- at least for that moment.

Marshalltown's Rick Larson found his way into that magical moment of greatness -- more than once, if truth be told -- as had so many unsung beat champions before him.

My brother, he knew his life's purpose from an early age. He got his first guitar when 12, and devoted himself to single-minded pursuit of earthly calling.

The demands of post-teen life typically compel would-be players to eventually pursue 9-to-5 careers, relegating live music to weekend sideline status, if even that. But Rick never stopped.

Because he and music were of a piece. And to him, no other pursuits mattered.

He never cut an album, shot a video or graced a magazine cover. What he did was infinitely more important. A veteran of the bar band culture, he helped to keep blues and rock and roll alive before average people every night.

For them, plagued by trials throughout the work week, the release and revelry offered by live bands is positively salvational. A person can be put down by a boss during the day, but they can be ten feet tall on the midnight dance floor.

Songs to which grassroots blue collar crowds today shout and thrill have roots in America's rich cultural mosaic and wonderfully diverse heritage. Tempos, melodic inclinations, and engaging rhythms from a score of shores met here and became new and as one.

American songs derive from the Appalachian Mountain country, and humming streets of Chicago. They hail from the highways that crisscross the land, and from the farmlands. From the cities, swamps, and suburbs. And they are born from common experiences, telling of human struggles, aspirations, pains, and triumphs.

It is through the efforts of anonymous players that folk stories and voices survive from generation to generation. A country's music serves as both popular record and expression of singular character.

Rick was professionally active in central Iowa from the 70s through the mid-90s. Indeed, the area live music circuit was richer for his indefatigable participation.

He co-founded numerous central Iowa groups: Amo, Armed and Dangerous, Party House, Ice Age, the Vipers, Commotion. And too many more to mention. Singer/harp player Mark Goodman and drummer Frank McDowell were usually in the mix. Accompanying players included keyboardist Doc Lawson and guitarist/vocalist Dave Taylor.

Of course, sometimes, formal band names or line-ups were not even needed. If a sudden gig opened up or a last-minute party jam presented itself, Rick would be there. Guitar in hand, amplifier on.

No prisoner of stylistic convention, he was as likely to rock the house as finesse a melody. He made all the right stops, from red-hot jumpin' to cool-blue orating. His intoxicating soloing interpreted heartache, passion and kick-out-the-jams exuberance. Lesser players were made conscious of their limitations.

Stevie Ray Vaughn, Keith Richard, Chuck Berry, Buddy Guy, Joe Strummer, Pete Townsend - these were his influences. He played the music that spoke to him, and it became important to his audiences.

Rick had something crucial to worthwhile musicianship: an absolute and unfeigned direct line between his heart and his art. He believed in each note he touched.

True, a few of the better chart songs sometimes crept into the late night sets. But only the better ones. For Rick, ignoring his instincts and selling out his musical integrity were simply not options. The gold ring mattered less than the music. The moment.

Devoted rank-and-file bar musicians like Rick who keep music alive -- who realize that all-important moment -- are infinitely more significant to real world listeners than is the trendy WRIT LARGE corporate music-product industry that takes them for granted.

For every transient and fabricated chart sensation, there are innumerable unsung authentics. And greatness belongs to them, too. Probably most of all.

For it is indeed possible to reach greatness in isolation from the 'big picture,' without the whole world's being aware.

Rick did.

His guitar fell silent in 1998. We laid to earth with him the cherry wood-grain, Gibson SG Standard that had been his earliest performing guitar. It was only right that they remain together into perpetuity. Together, they had realized the moment.

That is how I know that greatness can indeed flourish at the margin.

And that is why a guitar is buried in Marshalltown, Iowa.


Posted by DC Larson at 1:03 PM

Saturday, January 14, 2012

John Guster
"bits and pieces from..." (Blue Lake)

Swiss rockabilly powerhouse Juan Rodriguez led his country's 1990's trio The Thunder Jets. He later took studio matters in hand, realizing both JCR Recording Service and the Blue Lake label.

Blue Lake has since issued more than 30 hot releases, by storied acts including the Rockets, King Louie Combo, Kick'em Jenny, and Mars Attacks (members of which guest, here.)
Doubtless, readers have by now guessed that Juan Rodriguez and John Guster are one and the same.

A remarkable abundance of skilled rockin' jumps up, in these 10 cuts - and it's big beat motivatin' of the old-school. The rule is spare and rollicking. At first, one is just plain knocked out by the overall rightness. In time, though, distinct contributory elements emerge: a sure-footed and nimble rhythm section, warmly comfortable vocals, appropriately sparse production, and enough adept Telecaster broadsides to rock listeners one and all off their feet.

These are the good old days!

Recommended "Go Go V-8 Ford," "Am I Right?" "Gotta Get Another Girl," "The Cats Were Jumpin'"