Saturday, January 30, 2016


#97   January 2016    free

Ignoring Objectivity Since 1998



Albuquerque zine of music & nepotism”

                       Special Days of Future Past issue!

­Graphix this issue © copied-right from:
George Gately, For Laughing Out Loud #15; 1960
Hanna-Barbera, The Jetsons: A Date With Jet Screamer; 1962
Gene Hazleton, Angel Face; December 6, 1960
Gilberto Hernandez; Love & Rockets # 5; 1982
Hank Ketcham, Dennis The Menace; June 22, 1962
Harry Mace, For Laughing Out Loud #15; 1960

Wig Wam Bam #97 (by Captain America a.k.a. Brett Maverick )
is back (you poor bastards) and may (or not) be found whenever I damn well please at  Low Spirits, Launchpad, Burt’s Tiki Lounge, Sister Bar, Tannex and your finer haberdashers. Suffocation danger; keep away from children and small pets.

This issue dedicated to role model & friend Jim Phillips.
“You never know, boy.”

See a mangy collection of assorted crap at:
Instantly fire off a half-baked email full of sentiment you may later regret to:

After thirteen years I just kinda stopped. The last time an issue of Wig Wam Bam appeared was in the fall of 2011, not on purpose but out in club-land, the stuff I liked least seemed to be winning. Insipid Conor Oberst clones; uninspired & repetitive dance beats; vapid raps; anemic amerikana; club-goers who never dance to live music but wait in lines around the block to watch some guy push “play” on an electronic box; bands that unironically cite Sublime as an influence. No thank you. Moreover, how the hell could I write a credible line about the music scene if I rarely go out into it anymore? This happens much too often in the local press anyway. So just why am I subjecting you to yet another issue of my opinionated drivel?  Mostly because I made it out a few notable times in 2015 and because Raven Chacon and Mike Smith kept bugging me about it. Blame them. Plus, I always kinda wanted to make it to at least a hundred issues. This is #97 but actually there was an issue #0 so that would total ninety-eight issues. Except that issue #72 never came out (it’s half-finished on a flash drive someplace) so this really is the ninety-seventh issue. Three more after this? Good lord.




NM venues, bands from here or there

  KLONDYKES Burt’s 2/7/15
Dressed in their New York Dolls’ Red Patent Leather best, the Klondykes took the stage for their penultimate gig before Adeline ships off for her next gig in Canyonlands as Danger Rangerette, superheroine of The National Park Service! Smokey says: hold all matches until cold, drown all campfires. I was all triste ‘cause the girls’ final show was two nights hence and I was slated to be in Little Rock, Arkansas for work. The fried chicken & catfish were completely outstanding so the trip wasn’t a total loss but I was extremely sad to miss out nevertheless. This show helped to ease the pain a little: part surf, part psychedelia, and a lot of punk attitude.  Although Klondykes were the openers, I bailed at set’s end ‘cause it just couldn’t get any better than that.

Postscript: as it turns out the ‘dykes still get together for the occasional set. Wheee! Now, if they would only record more…

I didn’t know it during the show but holy moley Buffy was seventy-three years old, and turning seventy-four a mere four days later. Despite a slight drop in her ability to sustain notes, she was in fine voice. Still feisty and fun-loving, she remains fiercely passionate, powerfully dedicated and resolutely a dog soldier.

When the applauding crowd jumped to its feet as Sainte-Marie took the stage she diffused the praise by quickly introducing her band. Typical Buffy. Although being outspoken about Indi’n rights (ultimately couched in the forum of human rights) Sainte-Marie at times seems less popular among ‘skins than her adoring and aging- liberal white-eyes fans. Despite her body of work since the early ‘60s (her twentieth album is about to be released) she’s no staple, for example, on local stations KUNM’s Singing Wire or KANW’s Native American Music Hours. Her truths are not as easy or simple as, oh I don’t know, Floyd Westerman calling out General Custer for being an a-hole. Sainte-Marie is not only calling out broken treaties but the lies and socio-economic falsehoods that everyone of every color buys into.

That said, she’s the most successful native performer as far as bringing Indi’n sounds to pop music. Lots of rez rock bands have tried (and continue to try) but it takes more than a few tom-tom beats and cliché eagle bone whistles. It never seems rote coming from Buffy. Her infectious positivity draws the crowd in with a conspiratorial wink, unlike anyone else --except for Pete Seeger who could get anyone --anyone --in any crowd to sing along with him. Sainte-Marie too knows how to work an audience. That’s no disservice to her. It’s not false, a put-on or that “Are you ready to rock, Cincinnati ?!” shtick. It’s a genuine desire to reach across the proscenium and connect, human to human.

My only disappointment was that crapass schlock movie theme song that apparently won her an Oscar (no I won’t name it here). I’ve heard it on the radio a million awful times but until she announced it from the Kimo stage I didn’t know it was one of hers. It actually made me feel good that I can now honestly say I don’t adore her work unreservedly. Gives me some kind of cred. Maybe.

Her band was good enough although not much to write home about but they of course weren’t the draw. The guitar guy did just what hired ax slingers are supposed to do: boring crap.
A word however is due for drummer Michel Lee Bruyere. He rocked some solid and particularly heavy beats, reminiscent of pow wow. Even though we were in the fifth row, I couldn’t get a good look at him behind his cymbals but there was an attitude in his movements, even while drumming, that screamed (to me) Grass Dancer!  Sure enough, at the end of show as Buffy and her boys were taking their bows, a northern drum song played on the PA and Objiwe home boy busted out some Grass moves. A fitting end to the night. That is, unless there was a 49 somewhere...

 Electric Juice Breakfast Club 2/22/15 Spirit Abuse
It’s been about seven years since the Speaker Waffle Breakfast Club series began serving grub & experimental noise (“all- you -can- stand: five dollars”) at the now defunct Stove showspace: Fando, Death Convention Singers, Gunsafe, William Fowler Collins et al. It was always a good time despite the fact that, really, nobody wants to wake up early on a Sunday con crudo from the night before but the siren call of waffles and coffee as well as the utter audacity  of the concept -- noise on a hungover Sunday morning -- is powerful strong. Plus I think there’s something to amplified noise that provides a modicum of solace to a pounding headache. We chowed on waffles, egg frittata, refritos, green chile and more, washing it down with mimosas and/or coffee while Huron Valley Listening Club (Rudi from Shitty & The Terribles, Deadtown Lovers, Clocklife) provided some deep subwoofer action accented by rescue siren squalls and offbeat beats (yes they do exist).

Stirring a dark sepulchral brew, Morir (Anna Mall & Christian Newman of Glass Menageries) were up next with atonal keys, bass, percussion, violin, bass guitar, loops wind chimes and some twisty f/x knob action. One of my favorite bits was the vocal loop of their zingy offspring The Madness.

In the words of Raven Chacon, grand old man of Spirit Abuse, “The Jeebies are always fascinating and curious.” Meet the Jeebies: Marissa (she is Bigawatt, as well as many, many other projects, for most of which descriptors have not yet been coined) and Clifford (Ipytor Gavyen Machislav; ex-Shoulder Voices). Today they crawled into a plastic bag blown up by an inflation fan. Despite the sublime noise emanating from the sack illuminated by red headlamps and a multi-color disco ball all I could think of was those cautions on grocery sacks that say “Warning: This plastic bag is not a toy. Keep away from babies and children. Do not use this bag in cribs, beds, carriages, or playpens.” I and my escort left before set’s end and sadly missed what I later saw on video: The Jeebies triumphantly emerging from their polyvinyl cocoon, shredding. 

11/27/15    Low Spirits
Finally! The Motelles record release. I’ve been waiting most impatiently for this since they formed. Wisely, they left off most of the obvious Girl Group covers and went for the obscure (the late great Johnny Ace, anyone?) and originals. It was engineered by Manny Rettinger of Ubik Sound (I still have a few cassettes on Ubik from the 80s in my impenetrable stacks. If memory serves: Bonnie & the Boomerangs, El Grupo Ritmo, Broadway Elks) and produced (as I predicted years ago) by mad genius Raven Chacon (SickSickSick Distro). It’s a fun 10” slab which is a great format, more satisfying than a single without the “commitment” of a full LP. Speaking of which, the hard-working dedicated folk of Phantom Lake opened with their signature set of high desert surf noir. They’re next on my hit list: where’s the CD release you guys?!

The revelation of the night were Angel Babies who I’ve seen at least half a dozen time and always liked but tonight either they were really on or I was even more receptive. Hands down, they are the best puro rock and roll band in town, a stupendous feat considering it’s a duo of Frankie Medina (guitar & vox) and Calida Salazar (keyboards, accordion [!], vocals and bass). I have no good reason why I haven’t been promo’ing them like mad since they moved to NM a few years back. Hope it’s not too late to make amends!

Next, 5 Star Motelles delivered a fun-as-a-barrel-of-lemurs set. As usual. I must be getting too complacent ‘cause I expect nothing less from these gals anymore. Just before I left, Motelles and Angel Babies vinyl in hand, I grabbed a hunk of a gigantic doughnut masquerading as a cake made by who else but that illustrious and industrious Rebel Girl herself, Liz Mac N’ Cheese. Instant sugar rush surged through my veins and made my temples pound. I haven’t really eaten many doughnuts in my life, not for any dipshit health concerns but because when I was 12 or 13 my older sis worked at Dunkin’ and I scarfed a full dozen that she brought home (heavy on the creme-filled) and then puked my guts out. Aversion therapy is powerful.

 A HAWK AND A HACKSAW 11/27/15  Tannex
As it turns out, since the summer I have been neighbors with this incredibly talented duo. Yep, only a few blocks away. Have I visited? Nope, idiot that I am, I gotta go to a suffocating-ly packed show to see violinist Heather Trost (whom I’ve known since her Foma days) and the multi-instrumatic Jeremy Barnes. They’ve come a long way since the early H & H shows, when Jeremy sat at a drum kit, one drumstick in hand, one stick taped to his hat, bells around his arm, tambourine beneath a foot, keyboards nearby… you get the picture. The ol’ One Man Band act but with two people.

These days (and for many years now) they’ve concentrated on the vast expanse of folk and traditional music of the Roma, from Hungary and other points in that part of Europe where east meets west, where christianity meets islam, where capitalism meets communism. Besides my grandparents’ village in northern Italy (which I’ve yet to see) the east is the only part of Europe that intrests me for travel. Not that I’m going any time soon but the music is alluring.
The set was superb in spite of the Tannex being packed to the rafters. Space and oxygen was in short supply so we headed out into the cool night, mid-set. Maybe we’ll catch up with our neighbors when they return from their winter jaunt to the Old Country…

I haven’t done one o’ these multi-venue romps in a long time but this worked out alright. The (second) 5 Star Motelles debut release show was a cool throwback, not because of the Motelles’ excellent vintage Girl Group tunes but because, if my dim memory serves, it’s been at least fifteen years since Bandido hosted a show. The difference was, back then, the music was noisier and louder: Setenta Dos Horas, Chinese Love Beads, the Pet Peeves and others-- shows booked by people like Pauli B. or the late Brian Angel. The restaurant owners were always more kind and patient than they needed to be, what with an empty house and meathead Mohawk punks dining and dashing. Fucking idiots. I mean, c’mon punk, we kept customers away from the place, the least ya could have done was pay for your stupid vegan taco.
Anyway tonight it was a packed house with much of the clientele being ordinary citizens who just happened by. One of my favorite parts was the extra-special audience guest spot by none other than ex- Motelle Bonbon Von BonBon, armed of course with her camera.  Good to see ya, Miss Minie!

From there, my escort and I dashed to the ‘pad to see the return of my old bud Mr Johnny Casio aka past Wig Wam Bam contributor Johnny Wrangler aka Johnny Cassidy. Once upon a time Johnny strode among us and played in many local bands (Venus Diablo, GoMotorCar, etc ) before up and moving to Denver, then Canada and is now working his way back  here. Well, kinda. He & fam are in Salt Lake City now so he’s almost completed the circle. Fingers crossed. It was like Old Home Week up there as Johnny & the Casios (a wonderful and able combo of Ryan Martino, Roger Apodaca and Jessica Billey) covered VD and GMC as well as ‘90s indies like Sparklehorse and (I think) Psychedelic Furs. Hearing that fine vocal delivery and smooth guitar work by Mr Cassidy made me all reminiscent to invite him for a drink at the ol’ Dingo Bar. Oh wait; that place has been Burt’s for like a couple of decades now. And is also where Shitty & the Terribles were playing that very moment.

I found that out too late to work into the schedule as we had to fly to Distillery 365 for the birthday celebration of the ageless Ms. Mel (Mrs. Dave Beard to you). It was all thumps and beats and hips and hops attended by a number of ladies with whom I forayed to Effex in the not-too-distant but neither too-close past. It was never my cup of tea. The dance beats I mean; being the sole (assumed gay) guy in the midst of a flock of ladies was pretty cool though. The girls had my back in case any boys got too fresh. Actually, though, none ever did. I think the gay assumption came from breeders and not the boys looking for boys (they can tell, y’know?) So, after drinking some distilled goods that (sorry, 365) tasted like  lighter fluid, it was time to zoom back to the ‘pad for Black Tie, Roger’s vast musical ensemble of a dozen musicians or so that erupts in wonderful sounds. I suppose it could’ve erupted into a knife-wielding rumble as well but everyone was on best behavior tonight. Maybe it was ‘cause they wanted to peddle the new vinyl 12”, in production for at least three years. It was worth the wait. Included on the disk (and CD and digitization) are this fine cast of locals: Roger Apodaca, Billy Bellmont, Jessica Billey, Johnny Cassidy, Marissa Demarco, Clifford Grindstaff, Anna Mall, Ryan Martino, Sean McCullough, Bud Melvin, Alexis Vilorio, Mauro Woody and I’m sure a few more that I missed.

Onstage, it was somewhere between New Pornographers (minus the obligatory six or seven hooks per song), a less bombastic Polyphonic Spree and the Auld Lang Syne sentimentality of the closing credits of every Saturday Night Live episode ever made. Thoughtful, sweet, sweeping. Black Tie has it all. After all this, we were a little weary so it was time to head home to the ranch for a requisite hangover-preventative egg & chile breakfast at 3am.    

12/11/15 Hiland Theater
It was surprised just how, uhh, straight a gay chorus could be. Or I guess I mean “square”. Deck the halls and all that jazz. A choral show a couple weeks before xmas should have been the red flag and immediate tipoff. Well, it was, but I’m a slut for free admission. Anyway, I suppose one of the ideas behind the gay chorus trend is that “We’re just like you.” Yup. Just as banal and dull as everyone else. Don’t get me wrong, the vocals were pretty good, with some great harmonies in the smaller breakoff groups but otherwise? Bah. Humbug.


 the BELLRAYS 12/15/15 Launchpad
This gig was moved from the Sunshine Theater to the ‘pad, I’m guessing because of low advance sales. It woulda looked pretty bad at the Theater: I mean, the much smaller Launchpad was full but not really packed. Reverend Horton Heat was the headliner and Lords of Altamont was the opener and I certainly wouldn’t have even considered attending if the BellRays weren’t in the middle. I don’t give a shit about the Rev (except for that snazzy Jonny Quest theme song cover and even that is almost twenty years old) and I can take or leave LoA (mostly leave). 

Once upon a time, the joint would’ve been crammed to the gills for the fierce rock n’ soul of the BellRays but the ‘burque don’t give much of a damn about any true rockn’roll anymore, especially “kids” who’ve been raised on synthetic thumps and rap bleats. It was sad to see a human dynamo-- a force of nature to be reckoned with --like Lisa Kekalua have to whip the crowd up by extorting them to shout, clap, whatever. For godsakes, her ferocious vocal delivery and the searing guitar work of husband Bob Vennum alone could tear the roof off the joint. The rhythm section were younger and seemed a bit green but Kelalua & Vennum easily carried the show. I don’t think I’d seen them since Jeff Dahl’s Desert Trash Blast in Tempe AZ over a decade ago.

Impossible to believe but there was no one at the BellRays merch table after they finished. Sure, people usually buy little before the music. But after a smokin’ set and no one except me bought anything? Sigh. I was sad (low turnout and dearth of crowd appreciation), satiated (from such a scorching set) and sweaty (from dancing and jumping around like a burning spastic) I exited into the freezing night before the Rev got anywhere near the stage. 

The BellRays delivered one of the best rock and fucking roll sets I’ve heard here in years. And where the fuck was everyone? To paraphrase a holiday carol: No, you obviously don’t hear what I hear. You wankers. And to all a good night.

 LUKE ROBINSON  1/3/16 Rusty Spur Saloon @ Seymour TX
Visiting in-laws in the dustbowl area known as Texhoma, I was talked into going to the watering hole down the street. It’s local as hell, the only joint in what used to be a fairly prosperous farm & ranch town. Seymour’s mostly shuttered these days and pretty sad when the damn dollar store and Sonic are the only thriving businesses around.

It was like those old westerns, when the hero walks into the saloon and the place goes dead silent as everyone turns to look at the stranger. Anyway, I don’t frequent bars much as I used to but it was quite jarring since I was in a grumpy mood anyway and the place was hollering about the sports game on the teevee. Not to cast any aspersions but big sweaty guys bumping into other big sweaty guys never did much for me. However a couple of Jamesons mellowed me out… a little. By that time some guy from Nashville name of Robinson sat at a bar stool in the pool room/dance floor area and twanged out some mediocre songs. When your most crowd-pleasing numbers are Folsom Prison Blues and Sweet Home Alabama sorry to say you ain’t got much going for you. “Crowd pleasing” is quite the overstatement since he was roundly ignored by one and all. I listened a little. His picking was pretty ok, no better or worse than many country guitar slingers. His voice was like, oh I don’t know, Brad Paisley. I have no idea what in the world what Brad Paisley actually sounds like but I’m using his name as a generic modern country-ish singer (I purposely say country-ish here to differentiate and keep these new guys apart from the last era of what I consider real Country & Western --the 1970s-- well before hacks like Darth Brooks arrived on the scene).

What struck me is this: this guy is probably someone’s favorite musician, most likely someone in or near his hometown. I’ve been championing local ‘burque bands for a couple of decades and truth to tell, as much as I like(d) or even love(d) them, some are/were no better and no worse than similar local bands in, Nashville or Durango or Tucson. That’s not to say I would like Luke Robinson more if he was from NM. Hack country is hack country. I’m just putting things in perspective and allowing that maybe, just maybe, some of my local favorites would be considered hacks by the scenesters in Flint, Michigan. Truth hurts.

 DAVID RAWLINGS MACHINE  1/11/16 National Hispanic Cultural Center
For too long, guitar picker David Rawlings stood in the shadow of Gillian Welch. When she burst onto the Y’allternative Music scene in the late 90s, Rawlings’ clean and tasteful licks barely got any press, much to Welch’s consternation. She insisted on giving him equal credit although she was less successful at winning him equal billing. For example, she wanted people to buy tickets to Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, not just to Gillian Welch.
The last time I saw them was about fifteen years ago and I must admit I stopped keeping up with Welch just after The Revelator CD. Not because I liked her any less but because I gravitated towards music on the more obnoxious side. As a consequence I had no idea what The Machine sounded like when I bought some knee-jerk tickets, curious to see how it is with Welch now in her sideman’s shadow. Truth to tell, I wish he’d take a small step or two back.  

Not because I’d rather listen to Welch (which I would) but because good lord the guy whose picking used to be subtle icing on Welch’s understated cake is now cloying frosting. The crowd ate it up like ice cream. Ugh. Overbearing showboat leads is what drove hippies like me away from wanks like Eric Clapton long, long ago. What I was reminded of is this: while recording the  classic LP Will the Circle be Unbroken in 1972, Mother Maybelle Carter told fiddler Vassar Clements something like, Quit fooling around with that jazzy stuff, Vassar, and get back to the song.

Don’t misunderstand, David Rawlings is damn good and his picking is amazingly clean for as fast and complex as it gets but a bit of subtlety would be much appreciated. He spends too much time way up the neck like a ’60s guitar “god”.
But as I say, everyone loved it and applauded heartily every time Rawlings took his long (long!) breaks. (I ought to explain here that in bluegrass and old time string music, a break means one’s featured leads or “breaks” from the rest of the song). Despite this, there were nice touches like the break in an unrelated song into which was inserted a few bars of Black Mountain Rag.

Now that I think of it, much of the crowd was old enough to have thrown away their Clapton records when they got their yuppie day jobs and hair cut so their nostalgic and sheep-like appreciation of hit-you-over-the-head leads is explainable.
Ok, so that gripe out of the way (I always have something to whine about ) it was a great show. As backstage guy/roadie/ gofer Stue Trory said “There isn’t a bad seat in the house”. Correct! I bought tickets at zero hour with about nine seats left to choose from and got chairs on the mezzanine over-looking the stage. Just as it is throughout the venue, the sound was perfect. The view was pretty damn good despite the odd glass “sneeze-guard” on the low wall in front of us. I kept looking for the salad bar.

Sure, everyone in the place would’ve loved to hear Welch take the lead vocals on more than a couple of songs (surprise! --- Rawlings’ voice sadly overpowered hers during most of their harmonies) but the tickets did say “David Rawlings Machine” so I knew that Gillian was not the star here; I just had no idea that the spotlight’s gone to his head. Watching him onstage, I wouldn’t have thought him the same quiet guy that I saw a decade and a half ago commanding respect for his leads without figuratively shouting “Look at me!” In my book, Welch has more star power in her modest charm than Rawlings’ new and imperious personality.

Thankfully, he toned it down a bit during the second set and let many of the songs take the limelight rather than arm-wrestling them for it. My highlights of the show were more than a few. One was obviously hearing Welch’s outstanding voice that quietly grips a room much like Sara Dougherty Carter did in the Carter Family. I don’t mean that they sound alike (they don’t) but rather a voice with a wondrous quality both wholesome and world weary.

The song selection was outstanding. Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land, a song which too often devolves into mawkish sentiment. Here, Rawlings wisely chose to add the caustic verses that few people remember, let alone sing: the ones about No Trespassing signs and Depression-era relief (welfare) offices. There was a fun reworking of the blues/folk classic Candyman made over with new lyrics as Sweet Tooth. A heartbreakingly beautiful cover of Dylan’s 1968 Queen Jane Approximately, easily recognizable from the first few notes. Side note to The Band’s The Weight: after their early incarnation as the Hawks, The Band was Dylan’s band when he got soundly booed at the ’65 Newport Folk Festival for “going electric”. That was just around the time that young rural kids began to be influenced by music other than Country; hence the impromptu and ragged but outstanding tribute by the rural David Rawlings Machine to the urbane David Bowie (who died the day before) with Five Years.

Guitar slinger Willie Watson (Old Crow Medicine Show) was a dependable rhythm man and his fiddle playing was classic Old Time (not to be confused with classic Bluegrass). Standup bass man Paul Kowert (Punch Brothers) was serviceable good. The revelation of the night for me was fiddler Tatiana Hargreaves whose playing was accomplished, smooth and sweet. Although she could easily keep up and even surpass some of the best down-home country sawyers you never heard, her touch was deft and flowing, reminding me greatly of the aforementioned Vassar Clements but with less to none of that “jazzy stuff”.  A fiddle contest winner as a teenager, Hargreaves is equal to the young Alison Kraus who long, long ago let her own teen-age contest-winning fiddle take a back seat to her voice and mainstream career. In Hargreaves, Rawlings made a great choice and showed his best discretion of the night by allowing her lots of spotlight time, even more than to his longtime cohort Gillian Welch. I passed on buying any Rawlings merch but will be actively seeking Tatiana Hargreaves’ records.

random old crap from 2014, never printed.

SHARON JONES & the DAP KINGS  3/18/14 Lensic Theater
When I was a teenage Deadhead (yeah, yeah I know) we used to say of the Dead, “They’re not the best at what they do, they’re the only ones that do what they do”.  This was long before (ugh) jam bands like Phish and String Cheese cropped up, none of which are very good and besides, they lack psychedelia-cred mainly because the LSD just isn’t as good anymore.
That motto could sort of be applied to Sharon Jones: she is the best since Tina Turner divorced Ike in 1978. Me, I’m glad for Tina’s latter success but she dumped R&B a long time ago in favor of what she called “Rock and roll, baby!” Ugh. Middle-of the-road duets with Jagger or Bryan Adams = rock and roll ? I love ya, Tina but no.

Anyway I’d love to tell you more about the Jones & the Daps but I was too busy dancing. Most of the crowd was too as Jones encouraged it despite management trying to keep everyone in their seats.  Huh? It’s R&B, man! Who the hell can keep from hip-shaking during a fantastic set with a full horn section? You might say I’m old (true) and old fashioned (to which I say proudly, fuck yes) but despite those labels still being used on new music, it ain’t soul nor R&B without live reeds and brass. Don’t argue.

Despite being a recent cancer survivor, Jones kept it high energy as she demonstrated old dances (mashed potato, hully gully, etc ) and sang the classics, liberally sprinkled with new songs of the Dap Kings’ own device destined to be classics themselves someday if not already. Despite being barely old enough to witness, I never saw any classic soul and R&B artists live except The Commodores opening for Jerry Garcia Band in ’77 when idiots in the crowd actually booed ‘em (I guess LSD does cause brain damage..! ). Too, I caught a funky but aging James Brown at the Pit in the late 90s. Sadly, I never saw Booker T & the MGs or Wilson Pickett or The Four Tops to my ultimate dismay. Full disclosure: I never appreciated all that stuff (Motown and Stax) until the ‘80s and ‘90s despite it being on the radio all around me from a young and tender age. Stupid white boy. Anyway, this was as close as I’ll ever get and for that, Miss Jones, I thank you.

DUM DUM GIRLS, BLOUSE 3/10/14 Sister
Live, Dum Dum Girls served up a decent but not revelatory mix of their bright n’ dusky sides with a big hint of lackluster. Frontwoman Kristin Welchez was sporting her “controversial” see-through top with electrical tape Xs over her nipples. “Controversial” is in quotes precisely because that look hasn’t been controversial for quite some time. Wendy O. Williams of the Plasmatics beat it to a pulp back in the 80s, long after the earliest punk girls used it for shock value. Here, it was merely window dressing and schlock value. Let’s be honest: the Dum Dums aren’t breaking any new musical ground but happen to be a good and competent pop band. I see no need to prop up their more than adequate reputation with “hot rocker girl” antics. To me, that’s the real controversy. 

Opening act Blouse has been deep into downbeat Brit dreampop since their brooding Galaxie 500-like beginnings, an excellent melancholy. In an unobtrusive and understated way (apparently not much appreciated by a Dum Dum adoring crowd ) Blouse outdid Dum Dum Girls in every way: as live musicians, as professionals, in their quiet but not aloof stage presence, and in self-confidence with no need for preening. I enjoyed both bands but Blouse was more than worth the price of admission.  

MOTHER DEATH QUEEN 5/3/14 house show 5/31/14 ArtBar
Mother Death Queen are not what you’d call great self-promoters. Case in point: readying themselves for this forthcoming post-Pride show (unfortunately named Kandy Krush), they  asked me to a “practice party” at the home of MDQ groupie-galore Tami whom I’ve known for a million years through defunct local music zines like Smartypants and Static.

Feeling a bit nervous after an extended hiatus, the ladies decided to keep it small and intimate. To, y’know, just play it cool. As a result, they collectively invited about three people, including me. It was soon decided to call in the reserves and get some more asses in the smattering of chairs disarrayed around the patio. That left more time to enjoy a quite generous spread of food. Besides the whisky, I went strictly for the coconut cake made in honor of guitar player Amy’s birthday. Which of course no one mentioned beforehand but nevermind. The way I see it, Amy was giving all of us a valued gift on her birthday by rocking us out. To that, the best we can offer in return is a heartfelt Thank you. And a promise to listen to more Mick Ronson records.

Prior to aforesaid rocking, the, uh opening act consisted of drummer Cara’s and guitar player Ella’s little kids clearly relishing their turns at the mic and drums. Appropriately, in light of the Kandy Krush event, Cara coached, cajoled and wheedled them into trying I Want Candy when all they really wanted to do was sing the theme to some Disney crap. No word on what bassist/vocalist Alexis’ baby boy thought of all this. We’ll have to ask when he learns to talk. Besides MDQ’s few but compelling originals and songs by P.J. Harvey,  Nirvana and Kim Deal (a band fave) there’s a new batch of  covers including Joan Jett and (meh) Amy Winehouse.

Hey, remember that Women In Rock “phenomenon” that the hacks at Spin, Rolling Stone and even The New York Times blathered about back in the ‘90s? No? Good. Women have always been a huge part of rock and roll. Anyway, Mother Death Queen’s repertoire has consistently drawn heavily on femme-fronted outfits from that godforsaken “alternative” era, Hole, Sonic Youth, Veruca Salt’s Seether plus stuff like The Pretenders’ Back On the Chain Gang.  In a class by itself and a brilliant choice was Britney Spears’ Toxic.
The few of us lucky bastards at Tami’s  (yes, I am going to rub it in) were treated to a loose but terrific private set, all the more sweet since the ArtBar show was touted as their final one. As far as I was concerned, the gig at Tami’s was their finale. It was more rocking and in all ways a hell of a lot more fun than the club show.

This was my first time to the place and it’s a bit too shiny for my tastes and wow I know I don’t go out much anymore but is $17 really the going rate for two whiskeys on the rocks these days? Yeah, I get the idea behind Catalyst Club/ ArtBar: profit goes to “the arts”. Good idea. I don’t quite get the membership thing though. Despite the fact that members get to vote on who gets the money each year, I don’t see much else offered except exclusivity which has no appeal for me. While I might prefer one venue over another, I go out for the bands I wanna see, wherever they are. Like Groucho Marx, I have no interest in joining any club that would have me as a member.

Postscript: MDQ pulled off another gig or two after this “farewell” show and ArtBar closed its doors soon after this. Art is not eternal, folks.

Michael Hennigsen and I became friends (acquaintances rather, let’s be honest) when in the late 90s I wrote a letter published in the Weekly Alibi (or maybe it was still Nu City than, I don’t recall ) that said he was a good music writer an’ all but to “shut the fuck up about Kiss already.” I think we sort of understood each other after that. I never knew him as “Henny”, just Michael because we never hung out and I barely knew him at all except for his work in the papers. Besides that, when I first started going out to “scene” shows here, I didn’t go to ones of these “older” guys (who were what, all of twenty five or six back then..? ) like Ant Farmers, Withdrawals, the Meek, or Venus Diablo ‘cause (immature bastard that I am) I was watching the younger and less experienced but in my opinion more fun bands like Psychodrama (soon to become the Eyeliners), the Drags, Scared of Chaka, Fuck Taco Bell, Pet Peeves or the Surlies. In fact except for Black Maria and the perennially wonderful Kimo, I didn’t really know the music of any people performing tonight. I spent more time talking to people I hadn’t seen in years.

Michael set the bar for local music writing here and though I didn’t (don’t) care for over half the music he liked, I always read his stuff because it was astute. Most endearing to me, Michael pulled no punches, especially with local bands but even more so with those that were his friends. When you know someone well, you have all the more responsibility to tell them their band sucks. Who the hell knows if it was accurately quoted or not but in the crowd-pleasing (but still worthy) biopic Almost Famous, Lester Bangs (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) tells budding teenage music writer Cameron Crowe, “Be honest. And unmerciful.” Michael was. And if for that alone, I’m glad to have known him, even just a little.

You:  pseudo-psych Counting Crows for millennials.
Mannequin Pussy: a rocking’ ultra-pop outfit unafraid to stretch out into noise barre chord drone and plain ol’ screeching. Of course a cover of the Contours’ 1962 hit Do You Love Me always makes a hit with old fucks like me. In other words, I liked them.

 ( or maybe it should be “online bogus)
random OLDER crap, never published

 ROSE HUTCHINSON 10/1/11 Harwood Arts
For better or worse, today was the day that everyone “occupied” Albuquerque instead of occupying Abq Zine Fest which had been planned long before. I dunno, maybe two days of events plus tons of isolated readings, kickstarters and such leading up to the weekend was a bit much for the small but vibrant zine community in town.

Wait, what? Back up. Zine community? It seems I’ve spent too much time on my own waste of paper and lurking about in dim clubs to even know there was a renewed zine community. It’s been a dozen years since the ‘burque was full of zines like Insurgent Press, Kablooey!, Quench, Bean Feast, Fixed Resistor, The Vegetable Inside Us All, Smartypants, Cap’n Nola, Collected, Randoms, Slut, Heights Kid, Static, Chaos Ninja, Lie Detector and Seedhead

Only Nightly Noodle Monthly, Mess Explosion comics and myriad incarnations of the Monkey Dust publishing empire have been around with any regularity. Pretty freakin’ amazing how many have popped up in the past year (?) or so: Notes From A Slowly Dying Suburbanite, Korrup Yr Self, Buy This Zine!, Girl Hate, The Dumb Itch, Proof Exist

Marya Jones is the tireless mastermind behind the Fest. Well, I think she got plenty tired but she keeps on going anyway and set the joint up as a place for zinesters to hawk merch, compete in zine Olympics (staple contest, anyone?) and listen to some sweet and tender twang with Rose and ukulele, guitar and other stringed instrumentation. It was nice. Too bad few people were around to listen.

the BARE WIRES, DEADTOWN LOVERS  2/28/12 Low Spirits
I realize Tuesday night is slow but… really ? Three paying customers, one comped guest and four bar staff was the audience for a terrific two act lineup. Well, that’s not counting the bands that watched each other so if you look at it that way, we had just over a dozen people in the joint. The Wires and the Lovers played a garage/punk/psych set that was as rocking as if the place was packed. Incidentally Low Spirits was packed last June when the Bare Wires played there. So, what’s the deal? Were all you people really at that Cursive show? I feel sorry for you.

Who decided to start the show at 9:30, causing me and my lovely escort ---who drove all the way in from the mountains-- to miss Lousy Robot? Typically, if I leave my hovel for the Tiki at 10pm I’m still early enough to grab a Jameson, schmooze with all the other drunks and wait around for the first band to start. I think he was trying to say I hadn’t missed anything when band mastermind Gentleman Jim Phillips told me the Lousy Robot set was, uh, lousy. That made me all the more forlorn that I’d missed it because my contention has always been the Robot’s worst is better than the average band’s best.

Wish I could’ve put my theory to the test but I guess it’s back to the lab. Tonight, that lab was a back table to drown my Lousy Robot sorrows but I did manage to hear a few songs each from Austin’s the Hi-Tones and from Colorado Springs, Claymore Disco. The ‘Tones mix up some almost blues-y vocals, some jangly rock guitar and soulful keyboards. It adds up to a decent sound but one that didn’t draw me away from the lab. Recent press says they span the generation gap and sure enough some guy old enough to be your dad was dancing around by the stage for the entire duration of the set.

Claymore Disco on the other hand looked young enough to be Justin Timberlake’s grandkids (he wasn’t there but then again neither were Chris, JC, Joey or Lance). Claymore Disco plays catchy dancepop that’s about as heavy as a virtual creampuff but to their credit the quartet played their own instruments with nary an Apple notebook in sight. It was jarring to see live drums and guitars used to make what was essentially “boy band” music. I whine a bunch about kids who grew up with Sublime making music that sounds like second rate Sublime (I always thought they were second rate to begin with) but tonight I had a glimpse of  the future and I hope I’m dead before the Beiber -loving ten year olds of today grow up and form bands.

You’ve heard of Art Rock bands? Bands whose members are ruminating artist types? Red Light Cameras are a Theater Rock band who know how to draw and keep a crowd, thankfully minus Andrew Lloyd Weberisms. They claim Arcade Fire and Silversun Pickups as influences but can’t say I know that music and honestly, I  wouldn’t recognize it even if you hit me in the head with their CDs (that is, if they still make CDs anymore…but it would be kinda tough to hit me in the head with MP3s unless you tossed your iPod at me and from what I hear those things are fragile enough that against my hard head your entire collection of Elliot Smith and Hot Water Music would be deleted and that would be just fine with me ).

What’s cool about the Cameras is that they can’t be pigeon-holed. Their style not only changes from song to song but from verse to verse. Most bands intersperse slow numbers with uptempo toetappers but these gals & guys can sound like a different band from one number to the next and even from verse to chorus.  If that sounds uneven, it sometimes is and leads to the band being described as “quirky”. Let me tell you something: never ever, ever listen to a quirky band.

The good news is that Red Light Cameras are not quirky. Well, not much anyway. They are a talented outfit who like mixing things up and although not my particular cuppa, are probably the hottest band in town at the moment. I could say the stereotypical thing about singer Amanda Machon… her powerhouse voice has a world weary whiskey drinkin’ three pack a day habit growl blah blah blah. But damned if she can’t turn around and quiet it down for a sweetly goofball romantic song like Juice. I’m a sucker for a good love song. Sadly for RLC, this song will follow them to their graves and audiences will always judge them by it. 

When I told Barney that RLC was my girlfriend’s favorite band he sighed, “Yeah. We get that a lot.” Ouch. Well, if it was up to me, I think Your Girlfriend’s Favorite Band would be about the punkest tee shirt ever.

So. Pure Bathing Culture. When I searched them to see what to expect tonight, the first hit that came up was a Fleetwood Mac cover. That was the deal-breaker. Unfair? Ignorant? A bad way to judge and entire band? Yeah, so what? I hate fucking Fleetwood Mac. I was there the first time around. I heard them all over the radio. I heard them at parties. I heard their L. goddamn A. coke-sniffin’ witchy woman California (c)rock swill with no end in sight. Full disclosure: I was going to Grateful Dead shows at the time so you might discount my musical opinion right off the bat. Whether one likes or loathes the Dead, Fleetwood Mac was everything us dirty hippies were against ---and everything the nascent punk scene was against: bloated, overproduced, lowest common denominator AOR crapola.

Lots of local musicians I respect and people whose record collections I immorally covet actually like Fleetwood Mac. Perhaps they’re better than I give them credit for,  I’ll give you that, but I really don’t care and certainly couldn’t stomach trying to seriously re-listen to those wailing banshee songs that  I could probably sing along with from hearing so much ( or, over-hearing to be accurate ). So, yeah, you kids like ‘em and think they’re an under-rated treasure from the past, that’s your business. But don’t ever tell me they’re cool. Fleetwood Mac was never cool. Ever. And so help me if any of you suddenly rediscover and hail the bloodless soulless gutless Eagles as the next overlooked gem, I will give up on ever hoping for good music from your generation again, just on principle. And maybe spite.

…Oh right. Pure Bathing Culture. They were pretty decent as musicians but being prepped and prejudiced, I heard faint echoes of Fleetwood Mac seconds into the first song. I took my whiskey and went out to the patio for a good twenty minutes. I just couldn’t deal. And sure enough when I went back in for a refill, they were playing that song I found online, the most obvious Fleetwood Mac cover you could think of. I tried not to take it personally but jesus couldn’t they have at least picked a Christine McVie song?

Widowspeak on the other hand grabbed me the second I heard them. I had clicked a link to a song minutes before my pal Miss Meanette posted that everyone had to go to the show in her temporary absence (you can godamn bet that her southern Califas sojourn didn’t include anything even remotely Mac- related). Based in Brooklyn, Widowspeak are sick and tired of the Mazzy Star comparisons but sorry to say that’s inescapable, even apt, even though singer Molly Hamilton says she’d never heard Mazzy before. It’s her voice and vocal delivery in which one hears Hope Sandoval. On the other hand, Robert Earl Thomas’ leads are like David Roback’s in occasional reverb-soaked languor but with bit more pop “edge” while retaining some psych sensibility.

And in the most obscure reference I can think, some of Widowspeak’s  2011 self-titled  debut LP reminds me of Wild Carnation (ex -Feelies), a pretty good compliment. One could even toss in a very minor Velvet Underground reference too based on some sustained single note guitar and drum drones but the drummer (sorry, man, can’t find your name anywhere online) has more chops than Mo Tucker ever did ( I adore Mo, don’t me wrong). The bassist (another unknown!) also had much more going on than merely thudding a beat: nice fill work that you really had to purposely listen to to catch under Thomas’ almost constant leads. Normally, I’d want nothing to do with a guitar player that spends so much time up the neck and whose fret fingers are constantly on the move but Thomas is mostly tasteful, in control and keeps busy without grandstanding or overpowering anyone. In all, Widowspeak’s set was wondrous, powerful, danceable (in a low key way) and one of the best sets I’ve heard in quite a while. Think beautifully languid but driving psych pop behind wispy veils of mysto-steam.