Monday, May 30, 2011

That Dirt City Sound Episode 14

       

                               
   
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This is the music that plays in my head when I strut through WalMart, ripping riffs and sizzling blues. I want my..I want my..I want my mp3...Disclaimer: Just like Juan Valdez and his coffee beans, I only pick the best, "Oh No!...my little friend you are too small and puny for Dirt City Chronicles, you stay on the bush."  Any musicians that wish not to have their music included on episodes of  "That Dirt City Sound" should contact me. I get my mail by Pony Express, so cowboy up.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

L.A. Nookie- God Save the Queen



Never mind the Queen, God Save Us! from L.A. Nookie,  Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen are both rolling over in their graves.

Lorraine Lewis


Lorraine Lewis was the face of Femme Fatale, Albuquerque's aborted big time glam metal band. It would probably be safe to say that many of that band's fans were drawn to it, not so much by the music, but rather by Lorraine's sex appeal. Femme Fatale and Lewis did not shy away from dishing out the sexual innuendo, the comely Ms. Lewis had her slutty schtick down pat and the guys just ate it up. Yeah, her milk shakes got the boys to the yard...making her the fantasy queen of many a wet dream in the process. 

It was mostly an act, Lewis was not the rough and ready rocker chick that she played. In fact on stage she was more Tina Turner than anything else. Just think Tina as the Acid Queen in the movie version of The Who's Tommy but dressed in denim, lace and black leather. Her vocals were somewhere between Tina Turner and Pat Benatar without the power or range of either one. 

However from the start her looks if not her voice took her beyond  the ordinary. Lorraine Lewis had grown up in Albuquerque and cut her teeth playing the local bar circuit with Babe Ruthless. From there she teamed up with her brother Rick and they put together the group of musicians that became Femme Fatale. They moved to Hollywood and almost landed the big 'un, thanks mostly to the rock press' instant love affair with Lorraine. 

Ultimately, the band was flawed and after just one fairly successful album they broke apart faster than a Yugo.  What happened? the success of the first album was enough to warrant another two albums and a few rounds of touring. Lorraine offered an explanation in an interview with a Spanish metal music 'zine "The days of the big hair metal bands were finished, it was all about timing." Their label MCA felt that they had peaked after just one album, and the band was cut loose.


Lorraine stepped away from the music scene for a few years after that. In 2000 she returned as part  of Snowball, which was a messy mash-up of styles: metal, growling vocals, soft indie pop and electronic beats, all thrown together and mixed with loud guitars. Two years later she came out with her first truly solo album, "Lorraine Lewis", which lo and behold was a country album. Lorraine tried to explain the sudden departure from her rock foundations: "  "It's a little bit country, a little bit rock n' roll, I was born and raised in Albuquerque New Mexico and I love music with a twang, I used to listen to Linda Ronstadt and Lynyrd Skynrd." It was an all out effort by Lewis to crossover to the country market, but nobody was buying it, the album got decent reviews but sold poorly.  With Lorraine's initial dreams of country stardom dashed, she teamed up with country rocker, Tonya Watts to form Betty Sue on the Strip, which sounds like a musical version of Thelma and Louise, with a much happier ending of course. 

Lorraine Lewis is "Gypsy Femme", while Tonya Watts is "The Calibama Kid" together they go searching for their Hollywood dreams. Lorraine is a rocker who secretly dreams of being a country girl. Tonya is a country girl who dreams of livin' the rock and roll life style. It might've made a good sitcom on Fox but it came up craps when the Dixie Chicks stole all their thunder.  Not one to give up, Lorraine then teamed up with Jan Buckingham in the aptly named country chix duo, BuckinghamLewis. Lorraine's quest for a crossover to country was hampered by one small but significant detail, she was not a country singer!  Though raised in Albuquerque, her twang is not genuine, her country is not cool and she winds up sounding like what she is, a rock vocalist aping country vocals. 

Lorraine came to her senses in 2009 when she teamed up with former Vixen's drummer Roxy Petrucci to form the unfortunately named Roktopuss.  Lorraine has never been that subtle when it comes to sex, after all, she was the one who was Waiting for the Big One. Roktopuss is as subtle as a frying pan to the head, and that also describes the music the two produced. That's not to say it was bad, it's actually pretty good retro heavy metal, too bad it's not 1988 all over again. Roxy Petrucci was an "on again/off again" member of Vixen, an all female metal band from St. Paul, Minnesota. Their biggest claim to fame was an appearance in Penelope Spheeris' film "The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years" Vixen was signed by EMI and scored a hit with "Edge of a Broken Heart" a song written and arranged by Richard Marx. In 2010 Lewis hit the unemployment lines and put together a band made up of castoffs from bands long gone. 

The very unfortunately named L.A. Nookie consists of  Lewis on vocals, Alex Kane on guitar (U.K. band AntiProduct) guitarist Lisa Leveridge (Courtney Love/Hole) Share Pedersen, bassist (Vixen) and Jeff Bowders a drummer she found at Trader Joe's.  It seems that Lorraine's reasoning behind the band's name is "Sex Sells" and if you beat the public over the head with sex it'll sell more. Lorraine Lewis has firmly established herself as a heavy metal icon, and at the age of 52 she still has the looks, although now she's more gilf than milf.  I don't care, flaunt it if you got it...hmm!...I wonder if she's still up for some of that Touch and Go?



Saturday, May 28, 2011

Elway: The Name Game

I detest Colorado professional sports clubs, and my dislike runs the entire gamut, Avalanche, Rapids, Rockies and Nuggets.  However I save my most hateful thoughts for Colorado's original pro team, the braying donkeys of Mile High, or as their fans call them The Broncos. As a life long Raider fan, I can't even begin to tell you how much suffering that horse faced s.o.b. John Elway has caused me. Which is why this story caught my eye,  with the NFL lockout still at an impasse John Elway, Broncos vice president, met not with new head coach John Fox or owner Pat Bowen, but with his own lawyer. It seems that John found out that the Ft. Collins, Co.  punk band formerly known as 10-4 Eleanor changed its name to Elway. That was not cool with John Elway and through his lawyer he requested that the band change its name, although he has not issued a cease and desist order or threaten court action.
The band for their part are not running scared, instead they issued this statement: "We have no intention of changing the name again. We love the name, regardless of what connotations are inferred by the listener. Surely, if the Dead Kennedys could become one of punk's most popular bands without incurring litigation, Elway can keep their moniker and continue making so-so music for our dozens of fans to enjoy." Elway..the band, has now received more press and notoriety than they could ever imagine, thank you Mr. John Elway.  The band picked the name after deciding that their previous moniker 10-4 Eleanor was "terrible" Andy Thomas of Westword magazine profiled the band just after the name change "The Elway name has "tongue-in-cheek connotations," Thomas writes,  "it does give them a little head start." unless Mr. Ed drags them into court, then it becomes a financial burden that will drag the group down. Elway the band, vocalist/guitarist Tim Browne's added this "Of course, any Coloradoan worth their salt might point out the absurdity of Mr. Elway's insistence on legally strong-arming a virtually unknown punk band rather than focusing his attention on mending the badly broken Denver Broncos, but that's a whole different issue."
While John Elway seems hell bent on defending his "good name" he's also shamelessly cashing in on his fame. Mr. Elway recently joined the board of Nude Vodka, a Colorado company. As part of a promotional deal, every bottle of vodka sold in Colorado had a number on the label. This past April numbers were drawn randomly with the winner receiving an invitation to meet and spend time with Elway, the man. The winner also had his picture taken with John Elway who put his hoof print on their winning bottle. John Elway has never been one to back away from any endorsement deals. Some recent developments have made improved cash flow a priority for the former Super Bowl MVP.  Elway has been in financial straits ever since he became the victim of a classic Ponzi scheme. The scam which lured in new investors to pay off old ones, left suckers like Elway with losses totaling 71 million dollars. Neither Elway nor the Denver D.A.'s office have commented on the amount that Elway invested and presumably lost.  In light of this maybe John should reconsider and embrace the band, the connotations can't be any worse than Nude Vodka.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dirt City Graphic


The era of the big arena rock bands touring the country like Barnum & Bailey is no more. Those bigger than life cartoon stereotypes were destined for extinction just like the dinosaurs. They're not all gone, but the survivors have been forced to the bottom of the food chain. I recently wrote about Jan & Dean and other acts from the 1960's eking out a living playing at state fairs and amusement parks, now it's the hard rock bands from the early 1980's playing those same venues. Van Halen will join them soon it's inevitable. The Flying V is not the same anymore, David Lee Roth is back, but he's far from a balls-out rocker anymore. Eddie Van Halen has had his drug problems and it's really starting to show, I've seen some recent photos of him that are both scary and sad. As for Alex Van Halen, who the fuck cares and what the hell was that other guy's name? it doesn't matter, he was fired and replaced by Eddie's teenage son, Wolfgang.
To say that their best days are behind them is to say that ice is cold, but it wasn't always like that. Van Halen, they were the young lions ready to usurp the old guard and spit at convention. Although, ironically, Van Halen was very conventional, they didn't really do anything that much different, they just did it louder and faster. In the fall of 1977, a group of us motored from Norton AFB in San Bernadino, to the poor man's Disneyland: Magic Mountain. We weren't there for the rides, Van Halen was booked for that evening. Yep! Diamond Dave, Eddie, Alex and what's his name, on the cusp of stardom, were playing a gig at an amusement park. The guys I was with weren't familiar with the band and after we went in they vanished. After searching for them in the crowd, I settled in next to a group of angry guys who with their carefully primped hair and long sleeve polyester shirts, stood out from the dressed down crowd. One guy in particular was not happy, as he exclaimed "What the fuck is this? Punk Rock!" he turned to his buds "What the fuck is this?" his pals cowered "What is this shit, sounds like fuckin' punk rock?" the alpha male was agitated. He then turned towards the stage and shot the band a deuce, and for emphasis shouted "Fuck You" while adding a gay slur that I'll refrain from repeating. Nobody seemed to care, except for the security staff, who quickly moved in around him. Magic Mountain like Disneyland, put an emphasis on maintaining order. He tried to puff himself up, but lost his nerve and along with his boys, discreetly slipped off into the darkness. "Go back to Riverside" one staffer yelled at them, at that moment I became a Van Halen fan.
They weren't punk, far from it, but they were different enough to make meatheads like that nervous.  It wasn't long before the fame and fortune went to their heads and they lost me.  In the early eighties, Rolling Stone magazine leaked the details of the band's contract rider.  Along with other demands it specified that a bowl of M&M candies, with all of the brown ones removed, was to be available in their dressing room. I read that and thought to myself  "These guys are fucking idiots" M&M's as everyone knows, taste the same no matter what color they are. Later, David Lee Roth would explain that it was done as a precaution signifying that the provisions of their contract were being honored down to the smallest detail. While they had worked hard to earn their rock star moment, in truth it was a shameless abuse of power. That old show biz adage "Be kind to the people you meet on the way up, because you'll meet them again on the way down" does hold true, in all walks of life. Ten years later you can bet the asshole who flipped them off went around telling everyone "Fuck Yeah! I saw those guys before they were famous." 


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

That Dirt City Sound Episode 13

       

                               
   
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What if the Rapture actually happened TOMORROW? Who would feel like the bigger asshole, Harold Camping or the rest of us? Disclaimer: all music posted on DCC is harvested like fine grapes, from other sources on the web.  Any band or musicians who would rather not have their music included on episodes of That Dirt City Sound should contact me, assuming I'm still around.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mumble- Hepburn

Whereas Eric Johnson's previous band, The Gutterleaves leaned more towards a Cow Punkish style, Mumble had a stripped down sound with the drums prominent in the mix and the guitars pushed to the back.  Eric Johnson is another one of those guys who has been around the local scene for some time, he is currently fronting The Rivet Gang, an acoustic group that plays old timey American music in a traditional style. Johnson was an associate of The Ant Farmers and you can hear his influence in The Ant Farmer's music, just as you can hear The Ant Farmers influence on Eric's music.  Mumble consisted of Eric Johnson, Mike Gerwin and Steve Sargent, "Hepburn" came out in 1994 and I believe that this was the band's only album. "Hepburn" was released on Nipsey Records (the Ant Farmer's label) recorded in Albuquerque. 

It was mixed by Dave Williams, who must get credit for Steve Sargent's powerful drum sound on this album.  It's the drums and some great twangy guitar that propel the opening track "Plastic Diamond Ring" It's a song about a failed relationship and the inability of both principals to let go. "A long straight line stretched between our homes, divided by exit signs and overpasses." Eric wonders why "She calls me every night on the phone" he seeks solace of sorts "I know flowers won't make everything alright, i'm sure they'll  make me feel a whole lot better."  If you ever need a song for a sunny day, "Candy Apples" will do the trick. The drums are still the driving force, but now the guitars chime with jangly exhilaration. "The smile on her face and she's happy as a clam, feeling great and thinking about the county fair she went to as a kid."  innocence lost is never regained.
 "Stayin' in Overnight" stumbles out of the gate, it's a fast paced number that has the band working hard to pull it together. It could be an ode to the simple pleasures of a sandwich (or as Scared of Chaka calls them: sangwich) "Politicians are like cool nights, they can fool the leaves on the trees and me, and I'm stayin' in overnight." Note to self: after several beers and bong rips, don't leave the house, DUI's are a bitch. After this, Eric dives headfirst into the pool of whine, the question is can he break the surface to take a deep breath and regain his senses? "Audrey Hepburn" is a perfect example of why you shouldn't let your girlfriend drag you to a chick flick. "I can't see Breakfast at Tiffany's it always makes me want to cry" then when you break up those movies haunt you like cinematic doppelgangers. To this day the sight of Demi Moore with her legs wrapped around a pottery wheel, makes me cry like a baby. Was this the first song to mention Breakfast at Tiffany's?, if not, it's certainly the best. 

"Where I Used to Be" has Eric's girl dumping him because she wants her space, now he's a wreck "Freedom is a strange thing who is he that i see hanging on your arm where i used to be" she's a switch hitter, the next time he sees her it's "who is she that i see hanging on your arm where i used to be" fuck it,  dude you're better off without her.  "Today" is the last song in Eric's whinefest trilogy that began with "Audrey Hepburn." It sounds like he's suffering from a break-up hangover, what he needs to do in order to get back on track is to take matters into his own hands and then move on. While "She Stole my Heart" sounds like it might be more of  the S.O.S. it's actually a garage band rocker complete with fuzz guitar, "One time she stole my heart, now I want it back" I think it shows great emotional growth and progress, for someone who just had his heart impaled on a sharpened stick.
"My Favorite Backyard" returns to the muscular formula that made the album's first two songs work so well. Steve Sargent's drums jump out at you, Eric's voice gets help from some nice guitar work, the combination of which almost overcomes some rather inane lyrics. Eric Johnson did not have a good voice on this album, throughout he uses a thin monotone and a clipped cadence. When this approach works, it works well (Plastic Diamond Ring, Candy Apples) but when it fails, it fails big time. "Counter Clockwise" suffers from Eric's vocal limitations, he awkwardly stretches out the line "Firemen don't really save cats from trees" it's the vocal equivalent of trying to force a small shoe onto a big foot.  For the first time on this album, instead of propelling the song, Sargent's drums throw it off, it sounds like Steve was using fucking ham-hocks for drum sticks. 

"Paintings" was a bad idea turned into a bad song. "Last American Love Song" is a sing-song narrative, that works because Eric keeps his vocals under control, the song's real redeeming quality is that cool and languid guitar sound.  "Pool Song" refers to a pool hall and not a swimming pool, Eric tries to recreate the easy flow he found on "Candy Apples" but fails to do so. He then throws in a weird hiccup that sounds like a chihuahua dog's yelp, it's ill advised and annoying as hell.  Is this a Top Fifty album (remember by Top 50 album list?) not really, it's too derivative and uneven to merit that. Mumble like The Gutterleaves wasn't the complete package, the vocals, the lyrics and the whiny tone all combine to bring "Hepburn" crashing down like the frigging Hindenburg, which if I recall went down in a blaze of glory.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Black Friday- Yoda's House




Late at night while you are sleeping, Mickey Dee he comes-a-creepin'

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Janos- Underwater Radio

Janos-The Bends

Janos

Some boys just can’t go near a cliff without jumpin’ off, although without daredevils, "what an endlessly unfolding tedium life would then become." You take pliable minds, bombard them with tales of sick twisted deeds, and it's easy to see how necrophilia and misogyny become mere fodder for folk songs. Seemingly, Carlos Trujillo pens his songs with blood stained hands. He could write a break-up song where the girl doesn't get shot in a lung and blood sprays out with each dying breath. However if he did, he would be selling himself and his fans short. Carlos Trujillo and Levi Sainz are the heart and soul of Janos. Named after former band mate, Trent Janos who came to his senses and left while he still had hope for a normal life. Carlos & Levi started out as a duo in their hometown of Truth or Consequences, high school buds with a dream, "three chords and the truth." However, something was missing from their lives, besides pussy & free beer, so they added Trent on drums and became The Bends. Trent brought the beer, but they still got no pussy, they did however start playing gigs and working on the songs that would make up their first album. Then like the hitchhiker that doesn't get picked up by a serial killer, they got a break.
While attending a basketball game at Hot Springs H.S. (Go Tigers!) they ran into folk singer Dan Bern. Let's stop here for a minute, I understand why Carlos & Levi were at the game, that's what folks in small New Mexico towns do, but what the fuck was Dan Bern doing there?  Anyway, this chance meeting would lead The Bends into a Las Cruces studio where they recorded their first album "Moods" they also set out across the Southwest as the opening act for Dan Bern. Their man crush soon spun off into a side project involving Bern: Claaes Haardwig & the Bendables 5, that resulted in the classic "The Day Ralph Edwards came to Town" which the T. or C. Chamber of Commerce promptly paid them not to play, ever! The Bends became regulars on the Las Cruces club circuit (two motel bars and a bowling alley) but as Carlos knows, you go without pussy long enough and even Levi starts to look good. So, they figured the best thing to do would be to pile a bunch of guys into a car and drive a thousand or so miles up the coast to Northern California.  The trip was a success, they didn't die, Levi got lucky with an old hooker and they got to play a show in San Francisco. Once back in New Mexico, Trent as I alluded to earlier, left the group and was replaced by Daniel Witherspoon Beene, who not only plays the drums, but banjo and lap steel as well.  The band then settled in to wait for opportunity to come-a-knockin' and while they wait, let's listen to some of their music:
Let's start with the obvious, "Thank You Danielle" I don't know if it's autobiographical or just bullshit, but either way it's a fucking stroke of genius. The subject matter (kissing & fucking a dead girl) is a bit much. I cannot condone necrophilia, that's just fucking wrong, anywhere other than T. or C. a cold one would normally mean...a beer.  Levi shoots off a stream of cascading guitar riffs, the drums plod along, "I was eight years old at my parents mortuary, when i saw her there, she looked like a dream" Carlos now has your attention "I kissed a dead girl, she let me hold her hand while she slept, I wrote my name on her eyelids" at some point you find yourself thinking "Naw, he didn't really do that, did he? "my parents disapproved, tried to keep us apart, they took her body but I stole her heart" If being a social leper suits you, just hum a few lines of this around your co-workers.  "Underwater Radio" is a study in contradiction, the dark languid lyrics counter the trot of the guitar strum. "Shot my friend in a bar the other night, she got up to dance, I took out my gun and I fired" it kills him to think of her with another man "Stole my friends car and I drove into a lake, windows were down the water came rushing in, I waited until the lights and radio died then I swam away" a crime of passion is still murder "Her cheeks are red, you can see her breath in the air, i'm the one she loved the most" love lies bleeding in the arms of another man.
"Tom Petty" is a soft beautiful ballad, Carlos is blunt as a hammer "You'll never know what it means to me, every month when you start to bleed, I know I'm still free." he sings the songs that remind him of the good times "Our parents smile when we come home drunk, remembering the times they had when they were young." it's a happy song although, I think the girl in question dies of an illness, dumps him or kills herself.  Neil Young is a big influence on these fellas, as on "The Music" Carlos sings "I think the music is freedom" he's either contemplating suicide or just leaving town "Was it Neil Young or maybe Kurt Cobain who said, take it how you will, better to burn out than to fade away." I bet my money on suicide. They channel Neil again on "Judgment Day" Carlos meets up with the wrong older woman, she wants to smoke a joint and tell him a story.  "I came home early one afternoon someone else had been in my bedroom, I could smell the sex on his breath." She kills her husband and then cuts Carlos' throat just because he's a man and shit out of luck.  "Jane Doe" takes an upbeat Spanish folk rhythm and laces it with the arsenic lyrics of a madman "I looked around blood on my hands, can't understand why you're not moving yet." it's a rollicking little ditty "wait till tonight when they've all gone to sleep, rocks in your mouth and cement to weigh you down." as the blood soaks into his back seat he gets the last dig in "Guess I was wrong, chopped in a bag, you're still a bitch."  
 The music they recorded as Carlos & Levi is acoustic sans drums, it's also minus the lurid snuff film narratives of their later music. "I-25" has Carlos thinking about his first kiss "She was 16 I was 9, behind the gym at the middle school, one bit of whiskey washed down the strawberry lip gloss  when she kissed me" sixteen year old girls kissing nine year old boys and giving them whiskey? only in T. or C. "Coyotes" is a guns-a-blazing saga of murder, revenge and murder all in that order, "There's a hallway where a picture hangs, splintered wood and twisted frames" A man done murdered Papa "Three bullets to the chest and vein, the fourth one kissed his neck and brain, he struggled for a way to numb the pain, the fifth one found his heart." the singer finds the killer and makes him eat his gun. Carlos & Levi's collaboration with Dan Bern produced "Fiesta Time" a snappy western number that should be the theme music for T. or C.'s annual Fiesta. "It's fiesta time downtown again, grab the mayor, grab a cop, then just dance until you drop" There's a hint of Bob Dylan in "The Day Ralph Edwards Came to Town" I had no idea Ralph was such a wild man "He came by car, but he left on a horse, he walked up the mountain and ran all the way down, he jumped in the lake and almost drowned."  Carlos Trujillo and Janos is not everyone's cup of tea, if it suits you, enjoy the ride through the funhouse, if you're offended you could help your delicate sensibilities by turning away.  

For more on T. or C.-Hot Springs by this author follow the link:
 http://fearofagraphia.blogspot.com/

Monday, May 16, 2011

Syntopia Music & RedEyeC- Cool Space



Bob Forbes teams up with Syntopia Music, which is a German synthesizer artist named Sven, here they play some jazzy Euro electro trance. From Syntopia Music's Sands of Time album.

RedEyeC



Some blazing guitar from RedEyeC, Bob Forbes, who is joined by keyboardist Sly Steve Page, the video was shot at the Byron Bay Blues Festival in New South Wales, Australia.  Whoever shot the video got a little too creative with with the fx options, but RedEyeC cuts right through all the nonsense with some killer riffs.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Train of Thought



Our surroundings speak to us, each locale has its own aural soundscape, a distinct voice and dialect, a swirl of sounds that ebb and flow like oceans tides. The first thing you notice about Deming besides the constant wind, are the train whistles, for 130 years they've filled the flats of Northern Luna County with their mournful blasts. Each tone has a purpose and like whales in the ocean the west bound trains call out to the eastbound trains. Over the years you recognize the cadence, those sharp sustained tones that signal the approach to a crossing, the fast shrill blasts who's meaning escapes me and the short muted tones that are used in the dead of night. It's the night whistles that I love, when you live with them they rarely lull you out of your sleep. However, every once in a while, I'll wake up at two a.m. to the sound as it blankets the city like a milky fog, it's a thing of beauty. The whistle is so soft that it almost sounds apologetic, in bed I imagine the train tip toeing it's way through Deming, trying carefully not to wake us from our slumber. The next thing you notice about Deming is the sirens or as a contractor from Las Cruces once told me: "For a small town you guys sure have lots of crime."  I can't deny that, the sirens, like the rumbling of semi-truck tires emanating from I-10, are also a way of life. Deming is and will always be about transportation: trains, trucks, automobiles and aircraft.  It's a modern environmental force that combines  with nature to produce an ambient form of natural sound.
Deming hasn't produced any musicians of note, with the exception of composer Nacio Herb Brown, who wrote movie scores for several Hollywood musicals including the effervescent  "Singing in the Rain" He is well thought of in his hometown and even has a park named after him, which locals have taken to calling  "Nacho Park." Nacio like most Hollywood men of the age was a hard drinking womanizer who always had fond memories of his hometown. He returned at the height of his career to accept full honors from an adoring community, he even took time to write the school fight song ("Fight 'em Wildcats, Fight 'em Wildcats..till you're way ahead")  In 1955, Fats Domino gave a concert in Deming, no punches were pulled in The Deming Graphic's report:  "Renown musician Fats Domino arrived in Deming by motor car for an evening concert at the Armory. Mr. Domino appeared to be in an inebriated state and was further observed tipping the bottle before taking the stage. He continued drinking during his performance, which incidentally was cut short due to his incapacitated condition. This led to an angry chorus of protests from several attendees who demanded satisfaction. Their complaints fell on deaf ears as the musician and his entourage had made a quick exit from the venue. This left the hapless promoter of the event to face the mob of angry patrons demanding a full refund.
The hard touring Texas band Baby, made regular stops in Deming during the early 1970's. Led by guitarist & singer, Johnny Lee Schell, Baby had a style similar to other Texas bands like ZZ Top, Bloodrock & Nitzinger, They called themselves  "The Little Ol' Band from Texas" a phrase that ZZ Top brazenly stole from them, leading Baby to file an injunction and take Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard to court. The band would also file a lawuit against John Waite and The Babys (a U.K. pop rock band) over the rights to the name Baby(s)  The courts would rule against them in both cases, which combined with the low sales of their second lp "Where did all the Money Go?" forced the band to fold. This leads me to The Majestic Knights, I don't know if they ever recorded anything, they were a brown eyed soul band that played anyplace that would have them. They played every Sonny Osuna and Little Joe y La Familia song you could think of, mixed with a healthy dose of Santana, Malo, Redbone and War. They lived on our block and once a week the band would rehearse in their garage. Mind you this was a full band with brass, keyboards, guitars and it was a small garage. The sound would reverberate down the street, as most of the neighborhood would sit outside and listen to them practice.  We weren't always allowed to go over there, they were after all...musicians. 
Deming music over the last thirty or so years can be summed up in one person: Bob Forbes. Recording as RedEyeC, he plays in a style similar to  Joe Satriani and Yngwie Malmsteen. RedEyeC however is not just Bob Forbes, it's a  collaboration of musicians that includes Pascal Gregory and Corrado Rossi. RedEyeC has released several albums of instrumental rock, including a three vol. "Best of" series. Forbes has recorded two additional albums of Christian Music under the guise of his outreach mission, Forbes Ministry of Music. While he is a guitar virtuoso with few equals in this part of the country, Bob also sings when the need arises, he renders a beautiful version of "Ave Maria" recorded at St. Ann's Catholic Church in Deming. He has also recorded a vocal version of Bread's "If" he's not a great singer, but he does tug at your heartstrings. RedEyeC is not for everyone, just like Satriani or Malmsteen the repetitiveness of the music can be numbing. On the other hand it's the perfect soundtrack for a quiet reprise from the working day or for watching another spectacular Luna County sunset. Deming is an island, for years it was the furthest civilized point south of Santa Fe. This is not a dull land, it's vibrant and alive in a way that only a people who have long lived on the edge of an empty void can really understand. This is the frontier, beyond us there is another world, we are where America begins and ends. "When you are here, you know where you are, you are home and it feels like home."
Mr. Bob Forbes aka RedEyeC

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Jaundice Eyed View

I'll be the first to admit that lately, Dirt City Chronicles has been focused more on Las Cruces and Southern New Mexico. It all started with the roasting My Genuine Find's Bobby Mares over a bed of coals followed by a picture postcard look at Lost Cruces and a kinder gentler critique of Ronnie Johnson, next it was a glowing appraisal of blues traveler CW Ayon and an announcement about the upcoming Silver City Blues Festival. If you've never been to Silver City, this would be a good reason to do so. Be forewarned it's a good five hours from Albuquerque, but this year's lineup is pretty damn good.  Silver City is a quaint place, set on the edge of the Gila Wilderness, there you have Mormon ranchers and old school hippies rubbing shoulders with snarly Hispanics, who in this part of the state always wear camouflage. They  all seem to go out of their way to avoid interacting, while cautiously eyeing each other around town. Silver City has never been the most racially harmonious of places, and the  downturn in the economy and the subsequent down scaling of the mining industry hasn't made things any better. Yeppers, it seems that some of the luster has rubbed off the old burg, but it's still a good place to pretend you're somebody other than yourself. And if I'm on the subject of S.W. New Mexico, I can't leave Deming out, that's the subject of my next article. Deming is near and dear to my heart, alternately cloaked in dust and baked by the sun, Deming was once known as "Little Chicago" and like the second city, it works. Naturally, it would be wrong if I ignored the psycho ward next to a body of water that is Hot Springs (T or C) I'm long overdue to write about Carlos Trujillo and his uniquely skewered (some would say sick) view of life and romance.  The focus of DCC isn't shifting south, I'm just going through a southwestern phase, I'll pull out of it soon. Then just like a census taker, I'll return, Albuquerque will not be spared the wrath of Aguirre.

Friday, May 13, 2011

CW Ayon- Feel Like Going Home

CW Ayon- In The Night

CW Ayon

What CW Ayon does is not new, the idea of the one-man band dates back to the 13th Century, here in the U.S. it had its heyday during the great depression. It's an ensemble favored by buskers around the world, but CW ain't no busker, he's the real deal, the man was born to sing and play the blues. The best description for what he plays would be the Gila Delta Blues, Cooper Ayon hails from Reserve in the pine top country of western New Mexico, but his place of birth is of no consequence. 

He has the old soul of  a Delta Bluesman and the heart of a lion, he takes the stage alone, using a foot pedal to operate the kick and snare drums set in front of him.  His guitar playing and vocals are primal, seemingly driven by the desire to stay one step ahead of that mythical hellhound of yore. CW has trailblazed his own blues circuit, playing anywhere in S.W. New Mexico with paying customers and enough room to pack 'em in. CW Ayon hits towns and venues that even politicians might skip over, Sparky's in Hatch, Starmax in Deming, The Buffalo Bar in Silver City. 

Ayon has become a favorite at The Silver City Blues Festival, he's appeared at the Annual Deep Blues Festival in Minneapolis (it's like SXSW for delta blues fanatics)  His grassroots effort to get the word out has paid off, making him the most recognized and acclaimed musician in this part of the state.  When you're the seventh son of a seventh son, born on the seventh day of the seventh month, you don't have time to wait for record labels to come to their senses and sign you. CW has three self released albums out, all are critically acclaimed and each one has helped him expand his fan base across the country and even to Australia.
His debut album "Gone" was released in 2008, it's hotter than fucking uranium and so raw it almost bleeds out of the speakers.  The album instantly drew favorable comparisons, to The White Stripes and The Black Keys.  His second album "Is What it Is" came out in 2010 and was inspired by the experience of playing at the Deep Blues Festival. CW draws inspiration from the delta blues of R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough, it's a sound soaked in muddy water and filtered through the smokey haze of countless juke joints. CW's most recent album "Ain't No Use in Moving" released in 2011, shows him refining his music while stretching out to include cover songs which he deftly shapes to fit his style. 

 Ayon also appears on  "These Are My Blues: A Tribute to Big Joe Williams" a compilation album released by Stobie Store of Adelaide, South Australia. CW Ayon's contribution to the album is "Throw a Boogie Woogie"  a song that gets the blood flowin' and which led the writer for Stobie Store to gush with excitement: "Sweet dang daddy what a great way to wake up!"

I know CW has been called "The desert borne bastard son of The White Stripes  and The Black Keys." However, he is in the fact the soul of Robert Johnson cycled back to this mortal earth, forced to pay penance by playing in a one man band till he's called back home to Mississippi.  

Blues Music has always been about searching for answers, blues men were tossing around theories like existentialism, mysticism and even satanism at a time when popular music was still in it's infancy. The blues touch a nerve in all of us, we all get sad and struggle to cope with life and the world around us. Blues singers figured out long ago that music soothes the worried mind.

So, as fate would have it, I found myself  standing at the crossroads at midnight. (Columbus & Florida in Deming) However, I'm not waiting for the devil to sell him my soul, I just want an answer: How can such an archaic, novelty technique sound so relevant and modern?  In a flash of fire and smoke, the Old Devil himself suddenly appears before me, he sneers, then replies to my inquiry: "Ultimately, the limits of a one man band are defined only by the energy and talent of the solo artist, and this sumofabitch has that in spades, go see him in concert, it'll change your life!"

Zac Harmon

Harry Manx

Silver City Blues Festival



This coming Memorial Day weekend, the good folks of the Mimbres Region Arts Council will present: The 16th Annual Silver City Blues Festival, Memorial Day Weekend, May 27, 28 & 29, 2011. Starting on Friday and wrapping up Sunday afternoon, presented in Silver City's Gough Park with additional activities and events throughout Silver City. The festivities kick off on Friday night with The Coolers, who are Tucson's premier nine piece horn band, their motto is "More Horns Equals More Soul." On Saturday The Kat Crosby Band from Las Cruces/El Paso will kick things off, to be followed by The Continental Blues Band from Silver City, SHRI from Prescott, Az. (who play a cool blend of blues & rock), The Reba Russell Band (a group made up of prominent Memphis blues musicians) and Zac Harmon of Jackson, Mississippi, a veteran and recognized blues guitarist who will close out the first day of live concerts. The one man blues tornado, CW Ayon of Las Cruces will open on Sunday, followed by Big Jim Adam & John Stilwagen from Colorado Springs, Co., The Pleasure Pilots, who play r&b swing and feature several veterans of both the Albuquerque and Santa Fe music scenes including Terry Bluhm currently of Felix Y Los Gatos, who has also played with Bonnie & The Boomerangs, Thunderama, Animal Opera and Bayou Seco (Ken Keppeler and Jeanie McLerie, now make their home in Silver City)   Harry Manx the self described “Mysticssippi” blues man will close the festival. Manx was born on the Isle of Man, but his family emigrated to Canada when he was a child. As a young man, Manx took off to Europe where he made his living as a busker, Manx proudly states that "I've worked only as a musician since then." Like CW Ayon who is also on the bill, Manx once plied his trade as a one man band, and as he explains "I still have that one man band sound"  What really makes Manx unique, is that having spent several years seeking spiritual guidance and studying music in India, he now blends ragas and the blues to create something truly unique. All performances are free of charge except for The Coolers and Saturday's Post-Fest Jam Session (theres's a $12 cover charge)
Silver City Blues Festival 2011 Lineup:
Friday Night, May 27, 2011 at the Buffalo Dance Hall
9:00 pm - 1:00 am           The Coolers
    
Saturday, May 28, 2011 at Gough Park
12:30 - 1:30 pm               Kat Crosby Band
2:00 - 3:15 pm                 Continental Blues Band
3:45 - 5:00 pm                 SHRI
5:30 - 7:00 pm                 Reba Russell Band
7:30 - 9:00 pm                 Zac Harmon
9:00 pm - 1:00 am     Post-Fest Jam at the Buffalo Dance Hall
    
Sunday, May 29, 2011 at Gough Park
12:00 - 1:00 pm               C.W. Ayon
1:30 - 2:30 pm                 Big Jim Adam and John Stilwagen
3:00 - 4:30 pm                 The Pleasure Pilots
5:00 - 6:30 pm                 Harry Manx



Dirt City Chronicles is not associated with or endorsed by  the Mimbres Region Arts Council, I'm posting this as a public service to fans of blues music everywhere! 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dirt City Graphic

In the early 1980's Graham Central Station was one of the few places in town where you could go see live touring acts. Given the sad state of Albuquerque live music in those days I was always hungry to go see a live band that played original music.  So, while at work one glorious day, they kept announcing upcoming shows at Graham's on the radio. Over the din of saws, hammers and air compressors, it sounded like the announcer had said X was playing that night. Cool! I thought to myself, John Doe and Exene Cervenka, it was just what I needed to get me through the week. After work I went home, got cleaned up and drove to Graham's, but something seemed wrong when I got there. The line of people waiting to get in did not look like they were into X.  Usually when a new wave band hit town, Albuquerque's uber cool closet punks and new wavers would drag out their trendy duds. When I finally got to the entrance, the doorman took one look at me and said "You can't come in here dressed like that" I looked at him "What! you have a dress code to see X?" "Who the fuck is that" he replied, "Axe is playing tonight and you're not getting in." I had actually heard about Axe, they were a cheesy glam metal band from Los Angeles, "Oh, it's the wrong band anyway" I said, making my exit  with some of my self esteem still intact. I few weeks later I heard Adam Ant was playing at Graham Central, this time I played it cool and followed the dress code. I had no idea there would be that many Adam Ant fans in the Duke City, but the place was full. The crowd wasn't really new wave, it looked like the same lame assholes that had watched Axe a few weeks before.
I was a fan of Adam Ant, however I was more interested in seeing Marco Pirroni.  The legend and cult of Marco Pirroni had been growing in the U.K. where he was a lynchpin in the British punk scene, first as a follower of Malcolm McLaren and then as the original guitarist for Siouxsie and the Banshees. Pirroni would later form his own group The Models, who charted a minor UK hit in 1977.  His next two projects Rema-Rema and Cowboys International helped to elevate his status as a new wave savant. This led to a call from Malcolm McLaren inviting him to join a new version of The Ants (McLaren having nicked the original Ants to form Bow Wow Wow with Annabella Lwin) Pirroni then became Adam Ant's songwriting partner, scoring with two #1 U.K. singles in 1980.  Anyhow, back at Graham's, I'm drinking a rum and coke, when the guy next to me says; "Did you hear that Marco Pirroni is touring with him?" I looked at him quizzically "You know about Marco Pirroni?" I asked him, "Sure" he answered "He's a fuckin' legend in England" I was impressed to say the least. Adam Ant comes out and starts right into a playlist heavy with tracks from the "Kings of the Wild Frontier" and "Prince Charming" albums. I searched the stage, but Marco Pirroni was nowhere to be found, The Ant Man continued to sweat and grind, which finally seemed to get the crowd going, and then about halfway through the set, Adam Ant finally introduced Marco Pirroni to the audience. I heard legend guy yell at me "This guy is really good, watch him"
I'm standing next to the stage, Pirroni is practically led to his spot, he looked pale and extremely sick or fucked up, on closer examination I notice he's wearing what appear to be pajamas. He holds his guitar but seems unsteady, I glance at his feet, he's wearing fucking house slippers!  The show must go on, but Marco is not even playing his guitar, he's just mimicking the notes. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement, between songs, I yelled at him "Play Something Marco!" he looked my way and flashed a weak smile. I turned to a girl next to me and told her "He's not even playing his guitar" she shot me a surly look and turned her back to me. Then either the drugs took effect or they wore off, but Marco suddenly started to play, and for a few minutes I saw what they were clamoring about in the U.K., then the show ended, there was no encore. I stood there for a moment and thought about Johnny Rotten's taunt at the end of The Pistol's last show "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" As I started to leave I ran into the legend guy again, he was beaming "Marco was fucking great man, I told you, he's a fucking legend."  I said nothing as I walked past him....nothing. I guess Marco was a trouper, although that night I didn't appreciate his efforts. Following his stint with Adam Ant he joined up with Sinéad O'Connor in 1987, for her debut album "The Lion and the Cobra." In 1990 he was featured on her best known album "I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got,"  on that occasion he was joined by former Ant, Kevin Mooney. He also worked with Sinéad on her 1994 album "Universal Mother" and continues to work with her to this day.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

El Komander- Bien Marihuano y Enfermo

El Komander- Mafia Nueva

The Hit Parade

It seems that the legislature of the Mexican state of Chihuahua, took advantage of some down time during the current narco war to pass an important bill. Introduced by Chihuahua Congressman Ricardo Alan Boone the bill bans the genre of music known commonly as narco corridos or drug ballads, it is aimed to stop "endorsing  and exacerbating organized crime actions through music."  Passage of the bill will prevent radio and television stations from playing that kind of music "As citizens of the State of Chihuahua we have suffered firsthand the negative effects of a fierce battle set up by organized criminal groups in our own community." a congressional spokesman stated. In a written press release, lawmakers declared that the narco corridos genre "Praises the deeds of so-called heroes for our young people, mainly in regions living in poverty and facing scarce education opportunities." Congressman Boone then added "These so-called musicians take advantage of freedom of speech, putting together songs aimed to glorify crime and encouraging approval for those criminal groups." Does that sound familiar?, the very same thing was said about gangster rappers in the U.S., back in the early 1990's.   It's still unclear how the new legislation will be enforced, The legislature and government of Chihuahua, though they would never admit it, are basically powerless. Although, in a land without law enforcement agencies capable of enforcing the law, things have a way of sorting themselves out. Mexican radio stations know that to play the wrong song could send the the wrong message to the wrong people.
This has led to a curious role reversal, some stations along the U.S. side of the border started to broadcast prohibited corridos deep into Mexico. The romanticizing of traffickers and the glorification of the drug trade has irritated the Mexican government to the point that narco corridos are banned from most Mexican airwaves.  However, on the home front, the F.C.C., at least for the time being, has chosen not to censor the lyrical content of Spanish music being broadcast from the U.S.  Not that it's risk free, Texas disc jockey, Jaime Zavala explains: "It's dangerous to play certain songs on the radio, there could be reprisals." Zavala also added  that any mention of Los Zetas could offend their rivals or the Los Zetas gang itself, it's a dicey proposition anyway you look at it. Narco corridos evolved out of the norteno corrido tradition. It's accordion-based music with a polka rhythmic base. The polka being the everlasting legacy of German immigrants to Tex-Mex and Norteno music on both sides of the border.  The corrido served as an oral form of story telling for many illiterate Mexican campesinos. This early form of corrido had it's golden age during the Mexican Revolution, whereas revolutionaries like Pancho Villa (Ya llegó, ya esta aquí, Pancho Villa con su gente, con sus dorados valientes, que por él han de morir.) once inspired corridos, today  it's the narco traffickers that get all the attention.
The rise of the narco corrido can be traced to the early 1970's. With the groundbreaking hits of the venerable Los Tigres del Norte, the narco ballads went mainstream. While Los Tigres were instrumental in getting the genre off the ground, it was Chalino Sanchez and Los Tucanes de Tijuana who made it gangsta. Chalino Sanchez is thought to be the most influential of corrido singers, with hundreds of imitators, called Chalinillos following in his footsteps. Sanchez was born in Mexico, but emigrated to Los Angeles, Ca. where he literally shot his way to fame, this following an onstage gun battle in Coachella,Ca. Chalino's quick rise to fame and his lifestyle made him plenty of enemies on both sides of the border.  In 1992 he was murdered after a concert in Culiacan, Sinaloa at the age of 31, the first of many narco corridistas that would meet the same fate.  Mario Quintero and Los Tucanes de Tijuana upped the ante for narco ballads by singing not only about the drug trade but also about the drug parties.  Los Tucanes introduced code words into their songs to make them safe for radio, the best example of this is their hit song "Mis Tres Animales or My Three Animals" Cocaine becomes Perico, Marijuana is Gallo and Heroin is Chiva. Others in the narco corrido scene took up this practice to navigate their way around government censorship.
By 2006 as the war between the cartels started to spiral out of control, narco corrido musicians started getting killed at an alarming rate. Valentin Elizalde, "El Gallo de Oro" was gunned down following a concert in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Elizalde who had recorded songs eulogizing several drug lords appears to have fallen victim to Los Zetas.  That murderous gang of ex-soldiers had taken offense to one of his best known songs "A Mis Enemigos" or "For My Enemies"  "Para hablar a mis espaldas para eso se pintan solos, ¿por qué no me hablan de frente? Elizalde was almost begging them to bring it on "vengan a rifar la suerte". Sergio Gomez the lead singer for the Chicago based band "K-Paz de la Sierra" was abducted and murdered following a performance in Morelia, this after receiving several death threats and warnings not to appear in that city. Sergio Vega also known as El Shaka, was gunned down in Sinaloa shortly after he had denied reports of his own murder.  In response to rumors about his death, Vega did an interview with "La Oreja"  a music website, reassuring his interviewer that he was very much alive, and that he was taking precautions to remain that way. "It's happened to me for years now, someone tells a radio station or a newspaper I've been killed, or suffered an accident" he added "And then I have to call my dear mother, who has heart trouble, to reassure her." On his way to an appearance that evening, Vega was chased by assailants, who after he lost control of his vehicle and crashed, finished him off with several point blank shots.
 For one reason or another, numerous lesser known musicians have been killed across Mexico. However, the most tragic of the murders, had very little to do with narco corridos or drug gangs. Zayda Pena was the lead singer for the group "Zayda y los Culpables" their music was more pop oriented than narco corrido. Although, her murder is often reported as a drug gang killing, it was in fact a crime of passion, though her killer may well have been in a drug gang.  On December 1st. 2007, Zayda Pena met up Ana Bertha Gonzalez at El Motel Monaco in Matamoros, Tamaulipas. It was common knowledge within music circles that Pena was bisexual, as the two women met up for their rendezvous, neither knew that it would be their last moments together.  A former boyfriend of Pena's who was angry at having been spurned for a woman, arrived at El Motel Monaco, he stormed into Zayda's room and shot both women, killing Gonzalez. The motel manager who tried to intervene was also shot and killed, somehow Zayda Pena survived the attack and was rushed to the local hospital. There through emergency surgery, doctors were able to save her life, but just minutes after Zayda was wheeled into the recovery room, her attacker and some other armed men barged into the hospital, went straight to the recovery room and shot Pena multiple times, this time Zayda did not survive. The ex-boyfriend and his accomplices made their getaway and still have not been captured or charged with the triple murder. 
If you do put the name of a powerful drug lord in your song, you'd better be well connected like Mario Quintero of Los Tucanes de Tijuana or Chuy Quintanilla. He's a singer from Reynosa whose brother is the late narco corrido superstar Beto Quintanilla, a man who actually died of natural causes. In the current climate of caution, Chuy a former federal judicial police commander belts out corridos other artists wouldn't whisper. Chuy doesn't call them narco corridos "Let's do away with the term, narcocorrido; it's vulgar," he says. "A narco is a person who's guilty of a crime that you or I can't ascertain." Chuy Quintanilla prefers to think that in the time honored tradition of corridos, he's just singing about current events. With all due respect to Chuy, who seems to be a real badass, that's hogwash, but I would love to hear his take on the killing of Osama Bin-Laden or the near nuclear melt downs in Japan. The multitude of cd covers that show musicians in mock western attire holding AK-47s, proves that the common folks do love their narco imagery. However, the line between musician and narco does tend to get blurry, who's play acting and who's for real?, it seems that sometimes even the drug gangs can't make that distinction.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Forever, In the End

Las Cruces is an eternal spectator that watches those passing through, not with envy but with spite. The city is in all its vain glory, a wilted weed that desires to be a mighty sunflower. It is nothing more than a vacuous way station on the road to somewhere else. It lacks El Paso's sleazy south of the border ambiance, it also lacks anything that would distinguish it from anywhere else.  It's home to many a dull boy and of course NMSU, a school that totally screws with the entire concept of higher education. NMSU is a cow college that endearingly embraces its farm boy roots. They even have livestock on campus, and that of course is just too tempting for drunken frat boys, who invariably get into the corrals and as the local paper reports "harass the farm animals"  Maybe it's the barometric pressure or the curvature of the earth that causes the locals to drawl out their words and gives them that vacant malevolent expression. Gertrude Stein once famously described her feelings about being from Oakland, Ca., I think it suits the city of the crosses perfectly: "It was not natural to have come from there, yes! write about it if you like or anything if you like, but not there, there is no there there." In Las Cruces nothing of significance ever happens, it is the center of nothing, the birthplace of mediocrity, an elephant's graveyard for intelligent thought, progressive ideas and Mexican food. You would think that a city with such a large Hispanic population, would have better Mexican food. It could be an anomaly, but for sure it's a crying shame.  
The demographics of Las Cruces are very similar to El Paso: mostly White or Hispanic and very young, probably much younger than Albuquerque, Santa Fe or Rio Rancho. This abundance of young people means that the music scene along this stretch of the border is much different than the Duke City.  A few years ago latin and ska or a mixture of both styles seemed to be the music of choice, then metal music of all types took over and now it's crunky, screamo and emo that dominates the local scene.  There are any number of musicians or bands of that nature in Las Cruces and El Paso. None have enjoyed breakout success and most hang out at the bottom of the bill at festival type concerts. Some of these concerts may feature up to thirty different bands, all playing on the same day, fighting for the hearts and dollars of pre-teen boys and girls. My Genuine Find (an "artist" I already profiled) and Forever in the End, headlined  a tour that consisted of appearances at Hot Topic stores, most of which are located in malls and specialize in music and pop culture inspired fashion. Forever in the End was MGF's bff until Forever's Ronnie Johnson went against all conventional marketing wisdom and forged ahead with a change in musical direction.  That ill-advised move resulted in not just a name change but a life change as well. The Sun.The Moon.The Sky appears to be a blatant attempt at crossing over into Christian Rock or Praise music. Ronnie Johnson is smarter than your average pierced yokel, this new identity could work for him. However, as Adam Ant once said "You can't sing, can't dance, what can you do?"
Ronnie wears his heart on his sleeve, he writes sad droning songs and he sings them in a monotonous monotone backed by actual musicians. He's light years ahead of MGF's Bobby Mares in both vocal and songwriting skills and he gets credit for minimal use of that last resort of singing scoundrels, the dreaded auto tune. Ronnie is an earnest fella who has a clear view of the path to stardom. His only real obstacle seems to be that he's just not that good at anything he does. Are young folks under the age of 16 totally devoid of musical taste, is the ability to appreciate good music not fully developed during that age period? I ask because so many of these young screamo, emo bands are terrible, but our parents most certainly said the same thing about The Beatles and The Stones. In any case, the music's repulsive nature goes against the entire principal that drives popular music, which is, that it should appeal to a wide spectrum of music fans. A simple and basic concept that is understood by every pop producer, songwriter and artist. Lady Gaga knows this well, you write a song that sticks in people's brains like a fucking goat head, and the world is yours.  I won't review Ronnie's music tracks, in this genre the music really is unimportant, although I will say that he is far better than most of his peers. The fans of My Genuine Find and Ronnie Johnson really can't differentiate between good or bad music, for them it's just part of a virtual experience. So, I must ask, are we at a cultural nadir, where each successive generation dumbs it down another notch?  If that's the case, 2012 can't get here soon enough, take me home Captain, there is no sign of intelligent life left on this planet.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Genuine Find

This is part of a continuing series of  reviews from My Space Music, the local bands are chosen randomly.

The decline of popular music as we know it really started with two turntables and a microphone. The advent of dj's, mc's and rappers opened the floodgates for non-musicians to gain a foothold on the national music scene. Those of us who thought things were bad enough back when rappers started jacking beats, never would've imagined what was coming next.  American Idol made it appear that almost anyone could be plucked out of the masses and made into a singing star. Simultaneously, the development of computer software that allows you to record, mix  and manipulate music with near studio quality revolutionized the way that musicians record music. This has given birth a new phenomena, the dork with computer skills and software, who has big dreams of becoming a pop star.  Bobby Mares is that geek in the sneaks, however a name like that will never do in this homogenized age, it's too ethnic.  What's needed is something totally bland that can't be identified with anything. Thus, Bobby Mares became My Genuine Find, the burning bag of shit that Las Cruces has laid upon our front door steps.
Let's get this out of the way, the guy has no talent, and after two albums and a handful of shitty eps, there is still no sign of improvement or progression. Nor will there ever be, My Genuine Find, is proof positive that auto tune can't fix everything. The vocals consist of a vapid croak that is consistent only in its mind numbing sameness. The music is a dumpster mix of synthesizer beats and rock guitars, all of which sound jacked. The cringe factor is high on the recordings, but it goes off the register during his live act. For proof of this, view his video from the Vans Warped tour stop that he somehow wormed his way onto. It's Bobby Mares flying solo on a side stage with some pre-recorded auto beats, you know he's not lip syncing, because only a knuckle head would pre-record those ghastly vocals.  Mares sashays around, flails his arms, pulls out a few femme rock star moves and generally dicks it up for the lethargic crowd. The response from the mostly female crowd is underwhelming and it doesn't take long for anyone viewing the video to feel embarrassed for him. It appears that Bobby Mares identifies with his core audience just a little too well, he seems to have the mindset of a pre-teen girl. He could be following some brilliant marketing scheme, but it appears that things like that go over his head. As an example I present this list of fab things, lifted straight off My Genuine Find's My Space Music blog:  
"What My Genuine Find is...
Alright, so I've been hearing a lot of people saying lately how bands are outta control, making bad music, but having cool images, and thats all its about nowadays and blabla (sic)
I've decided I want MGF to be whatever I want it to be. Since I'm the only member in my band, I can do whatever I want, BOOM!
I want My Genuine Find to have lots of cool pictures, I like photography, BOOM.
I want My Genuine Find to have lots and lots of cool youtube videos, BOOM.
I want My Genuine Find to have amazing music videos, BOOM.
I want My Genuine Find to be interactive with all my online friends, via Stickam, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook
I want to continue to make EP's every few months with my new ideas, and write about what ever I feel like, make it sound how ever I want to, BOOM.
I want to have cool myspace layouts that me and my buddies create, BOOM!
Yes, it's very much about the music, but thats not all of what My Genuine Find is. It's a full out project. Music, pictures, videos, interaction.
I won't put a cap on what I want to create just because it's supposed to ''just be about the music''.
This is My Genuine Find.
BOOM"

Fuck me! there are so many things wrong with this, I don't know where to start, but let me see what I can do.  1. Hey Asshole! you're selling music, so it better just be about the music, you're not selling happy thoughts, there has to be product with actual value. 2. Dude, you are not a band, you are a pre-programmed auto bot dickhead. 3. I never thought I would quote the good book on Dirt City Chronicles but here goes: Corinthians 13:11, "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things." Boom!   Grown ass men who are obsessed with the same things as little girls, are just fucked up and weird. Listen up Shallow Hal, what is missing here is the long view, your fans will drop you faster than a snot rag once they grow up. Start saving your cash now to pay for your classes at the Dona Ana Branch. I would review the music but since Mr. Mares doesn't give a fuck about his music, why should anybody else?  Anyhow, just try and listen to more than two songs of this whine-along crapfest, I dare you. Fuck you Lost Cruces, I know that Albuquerque gave the world Brokencyde, but this is just low down and dirty.