Friday, December 30, 2011

Dirt City Chronicles: The Year in Review



July 2nd.  Gloria Trevi is a freak who has ridden waves of scandal like she's fucking Kelly Slater.  Cesar Costa is vanilla blandness  and mediocrity wrapped in a warm flour tortilla.

July 3rd. Los Rockeros,  The Mexican version of mid-fifties rock & roll (with a few exceptions) was  lame when compared to the original.

July 8th.   A mini review of "Sad Magic" by Shang-a-Lang , plus the album in its entirety and two definitive videos from The Answer Lies.  Combined these documents should secure Chris Mason's place as the angry step dad of New Mexico punk rock.

July 10th.  Brokencyde made me so now I must break them.  Added bonus:  a video by the D Numbers "Ghost Talk" very cool!  Shout Outs to Crash (Blank) and Things in Light.

July 11th. Red Light Cameras,  tongue in cheek review of the video for "Convertible" Red Light Cameras have a special ingredient that so many local bands lack: personality.

July 20th.  Brian Fejer has posted some amazing videos on  Vimeo.  Here he gives "The Past and Pending" by the Shins, the epic treatment.

July 23rd. Mourning the passing of Amy Winehouse wasn't the cool thing to do. Sometimes timing is everything, it was Amy's misfortune to die the day after some psychotic went on a killing spree in Norway.

July 28th. Both Carl Petersen and Jon Forrest Little of The Ant Farmers have continued to make music, albeit in a discreet and quiet manner.  Episode 16 of That Dirt City Sound podcast featured the best of Jon's post Farmers songs.  Episode 17 did the same for Carl Petersen.


Aug. 5th. Number Nine Dream: The Crackers, some people will stop at nothing to hold on to their dreams of rock stardom, while others give up and start delivering USA Today.

Aug. 10th. A Scream is a Noise and not Music: Rock music began as noise and has regressed back into noise.

Aug. 12th.  The Borderland has long had a love affair with radio, nothing in Albuquerque can really compare to it. El Paso's radio scene has always been highly competitive, this kept El Chuco's on-air personalities constantly looking for an advantage.  Steve Crosno thrived in that environment, he was a man constantly on the edge, re-inventing radio as he went along.  Over a period of almost fifty years, day in and day out, Steve Crosno gave it his all....God Bless the D.J. man.

Aug. 13th.  A series of videos that show Steve Crosno, the Borderland's D.J. legend at his  campy, over the top prime.  There's also  two airchecks, chock full of everything that endeared Steve to his legion of fans.

Aug. 16th.  Beirut's new album "The Rip Tide" didn't have the same impact as "The Gulag Orkestar" or  "The Flying Club Cup" which is a shame because it's Zach Condon's best effort yet.

Aug. 20th. Dirt City Chronicles, your one stop shop for everything Zach Condon. The legendary bedroom recordings, now labeled "The Joys of Losing Weight" appeared on You Tube. Also included is a video from Zach's pre- Beirut period. "Small-Time American Bats" was a collaboration between Condon and Alex Gaziano of Kid Crash, which segues into....

Aug. 24th. Kid Crash, Math isn't just for engineers, it's also the foundation for math rock, a spin off from emocore that proves once and for all that smart guys also  know how to rock.

Aug. 26th. Zagadka is homegrown emocore, smart and talented, without the whine.  We also bid adieu to The Dirty Novels. Pablo Novelas was rumored to be on his way to Philadelphia, but  he ended up in Portland instead... imagine that.


 Sept. 1st.  That Dirt City Sound podcast episode 18, the first of a two part series, showcasing bands and musicians from Santa Fe

Sept. 3rd. That Dirt City Sound podcast episode 19,  Santa Fe part two

Sept. 7th. Dirt City Graphic, I lost my trusty flash drive... damn near caused me to have a fucking panic attack. Thank God! for back-up files.

Sept. 8th. Venus Bogardus (James Reich & Hannah Levbarg) "The music scenes in Albuquerque & Santa Fe (such as they are) have constantly renewed themselves through the influx of ideas and talent from outside the state. So, who better than a Brit and a Texan to set us straight when it comes to no wave, post punk music and literature. "

Sept. 13th. Down with the Clowns, "Insane Clown Posse (Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope) set out to produce shocking, blatantly over-exaggerated fantasies that fed on the myth of the white ghetto gangster. Ultimately, their cartoon-like narratives are just silly and boring." 
Sept 14th.  Tom Green's "Gathering of the Juggalos" video (that was the year Tila Tequila was bombarded with excrement and bottles while on stage) and ICP's dumb it down for the dummies "Juggalo Island" video. 

Sept. 19th. If I ground my axe as much as some  imply, I would have no axe left.

Sept. 24th. (The SoCal Chicano rap scene is) America's Least Wanted, "The music  is a soundtrack of old school beats lifted from 50's oldies, 60's soul music or early 90's gangsta rap. It's an indoctrination for the phony tough, a "Sesame Street" primer for pee wees wishing to become cogs in La Vida Loca."

Sept. 25th.  Albucrazy rappers show love for the Duke City. Juan Gambino is not fooling anyone in a diss video aimed at Hi Power.

Sept. 30th. The Cult of the Purple Drank, down Texas way (Houston to be specific) they drink that barre. Prometh-Codeine cough syrup cut with Mountain Dew, Sprite or Orange Crush, with Jolly Rancher candies dissolved into the mix. D.J. Screw invented a style of mixing & production, tailor made for the sizzurp sippers.


Oct. 2nd. That Dirt City Sound podcast Episode 20, a showcase of Albucrazy rap artists and their music. " If you look past the gang posturing, it becomes apparent that these artists have a great love for Albuquerque and New Mexico."

Oct. 4th. Never Drink With the Raggies,  from roach coaches to the murdered women of Juarez, The Raggies don't hold back. "Perhaps this mob of Mesilla Valley zanies has always been too unserious, dirty, rude and politically uncool to give a fuck that the odds are against them. The Raggies can be a lowbrow hoot, but they also strike a balance between tomfoolery and sharp social commentary."

Oct. 5th. Videos and more from the Raggies, I included Charles Honeywell's hilarious article from Texas Gun Monthly and Chet Smith's report of his encounter with the band while writing for DIY magazine.

Oct. 13th. Felonious Groove Foundation, the chronicles of Santa Fe's last true funk band. "Damned if people don't categorize you as Latin, if you incorporate reggeton and contemporary Latin jazz rythyms into your music. For ten years it seemed to suit them just fine."

Oct. 14th. Doth Protest Too Much!  that whole Occupy Wall Street movement rubs me the wrong way, Foster the People on the other hand... I like.

Oct. 16th. Felonious Groove Foundation videos and music tracks

Oct. 20th. Benefit for Kenta Henmi, article reprinted from Wig Wam Bam, authored by Capt. America.  A benefit held to help out Kenta Henmi, a true rocker in every sense of the word. 

Oct. 21st. The Graphic, album reviews... Ryan McGarvey- Forward in Reverse, Country Blues Revue- Blues for too Long and Jennifer Robin- The Bird and the Beatles.

Oct. 22nd. The Graphic, album reviews... Flow Nice- Listen Closely, The Alumni- Perfect Man, Sticky Pistil- Hi Fi Superfly

Oct. 23rd. Graphic Videos... images and music to go with the preceding album reviews


Nov. 3rd. Brujeria, the "Mexican" grindcore band is actually made up of three Brits, including Napalm Death's Shane Embury. However, Juan Brujo the strangulated lead singer is Mexican. Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys was involved in an early version of the band.

Nov. 10th. High Tech Adventurer, Bob Forbes of Deming beside having an extensive recording catalog of his own, also collaborates with German synth artist Syntopia Music.

Nov. 11th. A short profile of guitarist Sylvan Albertus, one of New Mexico's best kept secrets. Added bonus: a review of "Kill to Ruth" an album by Seven Albatross (which is Sylvan) 

Nov. 14. That Dirt City Sound podcast Episode 21.... odds and sods, a wide mix of blues, jazzy female vocals, live takes and studio recordings  (Ryan McGarvey, The Memphis P Tails, Bernadette Seacrest, C.W. Ayon, Lincoln St. Exit etc.)

Nov. 16th. Death by Misadventure: Nicholas Blossom, stupidity has its consequences, Blossom the drummer for New York City band  Alaska Alaska, was lucky to survive a gruesome accident.

Nov. 20th.  "Life is not worth living unless there is beauty and love within it" quote from Brandon Bethancourt (Alaska in Winter)  Few break loose from the tenacious grip of addiction long enough to rebuild their lives.  

Nov. 21st. Videos from Alaska in Winter

Nov. 27th. Album review, A.R. and The Ramblin' Rats- Going to Kansasquerque. The music is a rhapsodic mix of Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs & John Lennon injected with a heavy dose of folk,rock & blues from the 1960's. Telling a story comes natural to a story teller, AR's mastery of that form is apparent on every song.

Nov. 28th. Down the Rabbit Hole,  Thom Parrott has been called "Albuquerque's Bob Dylan." the Duke City's link to the "folk boom" of the 1960's.  They're all here,  Illegal Aliens, Cabin Lance, Caleb Miles, Los Flaming Cool Arrows... 

Nov. 29th. Thom Parrott videos, According to the liner notes from Thom Parrott's album "Everything is Fine" his mother said he was using complete sentences at nine months and began singing soon after that.


Dec. 2nd. That Dirt City Sound podcast Episode 22...  country blues, folk , banjos, zias and ristras (Thom Parrott, Fast Heart Mart, Country Blues Revue, Caleb Miles, Watermelon Mountain Jug Band etc.)

Dec. 3rd. Death by Misadventure: Les Harvey,  a microphone, an electric guitar or electric bass guitar can kill you if not properly grounded (or as the British like to say, earthed) Les Harvey, Keith Relf and John Rostill were some noteable musicians who fell victim to Redi Kilowatt.

Dec. 6th. A Thousand Guitar Pickers in Guyville, Rolling Stone released another Top 100 best guitarist list (David Fricke's picks had preceded this one) Here's their top twenty followed by mine.

Dec. 8th.   TJ Trout, brought the hi-jinks and shenanigans of the Morning Zoo format to Albuquerque at a time when the local airwaves were stagnant. Trout and his co-horts stayed true to the general template for zany morning shows across the country. Although, we didn't know that, since there had never been anything like it in Albuquerque.

Dec. 16th.  The Graphic, a few ideas for Christmas stocking stuffers, Fast Heart Mart, SuperGiant, Alaska in Winter and Sicksicksick Distro. Venus Bogardus (James Reich and Hannah Levbarg) have graced us with a cool ep release just in time for Christmas.  "Music from The Endless Possibility of Sky" is four instrumental tracks,  that includes two yule classics and two Venus Bogardus originals.

Dec. 18th. A Thousand Miles from Guitar Town,  Originally this was part of a previous post (1000 Guitar Pickers in Guyville)  Being a completest, I couldn't stop at just one list. The first list is of my personal favorites.   The second list is made up of  famous and obscure guitarists that snobs may frown upon, but I love them dearly.

Dec. 23rd. That Dirt City Sound podcast Episode 23,  I set out to make this a "rock" episode, which it is to a certain degree. Times are changing and what we once knew as rock music is slowly evolving into something else. More and more, we have less rock and more music. (Spellbox, Simon Widdowson, Angola Farms, SuperGiant, Tenderizor etc.)

Dec. 26th. The Last Radio Show, I recorded T.J. Trout's last show on KZRR, 94-Rock (all four hours) for posterity and archiving. Here's my take on the proceedings. 

Dec. 27th. Dirt City Chronicles: The Year in Review.. part one (Jan. to June)

Dec. 30th. Dirt City Chronicles: The Year in Review.. part two (July to Dec.)


I know nothing which of course qualifies me as an expert on all things pertaining to New Mexico and Albuquerque music. I'm not a journalist, so I can flaunt all conventional rules and customs of the staid old fourth estate. 

I'm a blogger, I copy & paste, download, create, bootleg, pirate, snatch, jack, lift and steal everything I need.  Dirt City Chronicles is a labor of love and a fruitless pursuit to chronicle the vast and endless amount of music produced within the state of New Mexico.

Read it now and you can thank me later!



Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dirt City Chronicles: The Year in Review



The Year in Review, everybody does it.  A look back at twelve months of irrelevant misinformation and bullstuff from Dirt City Chronicles. You can love it, hate it or ignore it, but it'll still be there just like that creeping mold around your tub.


One day some cyber  archaeologist will sift threw the remnants of the interwebs and wonder "What the fuck is this?".... "This" is the land of enchantment... New Mexico and we were here before anybody else.


Jan. 3rd.  To start the New Year (2011) I posted two videos by PartMan PartHorse, a Seattle band that features Marshall Nall, former Bring Back Dad guitarist.

Jan. 13th.  I never thought that an article that chronicles the history of our favorite music storage devices would be so popular.

Jan. 18th. A celebration of Zach Condon & Beirut, this post has racked up thousands of views and counting. Which goes to show that sometimes nice guys do finish first.

Albuquerque's native son Seann Scott, heavy metal drummer (Mother Mercy and Hellion) was the subject  on Jan. 20th. Also something compelled me to include a short history of satanic follower and metal vocalist Ann Boleyn of Hellion.

Jan.31st. A retrospective on SSgt. Barry Sadler, Green Beret, right wing cold war warrior, author and musician. Barry was born in Carlsbad, a handicap he was able to overcome. He rocketed to fame with a little patriotic ditty he called "The Ballad of the Green Beret"


Feb. 3rd. The Fireballs,  a definitive look at the group that pioneered the instrumental rock genre and never really got their due credit. George Tomsco, is a New Mexico rock & roll pioneer.

Feb. 10th. The definitive chronicles of Norm Petty and his legendary Clovis recording studio. Petty was a musical genius who didn't always have the best interest of his artists in mind. He was a product of the times, which doesn't make him any less of an asshole.

Feb. 20th. A two-fer:
Go Cats Go, is my version of how those hillbilly cats took the country by storm, playing that crazy rockabilly music.
Surf's Up, was an attempt to purge myself of a lifelong obsession with California, Los Angeles and surf music.

Feb. 27th. Parallel Universe is an article I wrote after noticing the similarities between the morning show crew at KCAL (San Bernadino,Ca.) and KZRR, 94-Rock in Albuquerque.  Both stations are rock radio relics, doomed for the scrap pile.



March 6th. Things picked up in a big way in March,  starting with an in depth review of The Long Gone Trio's classic retro-rockabilly album "Wildcat Juice."  In case you don't already know this, Tom Sanderson plays a mean guitar.

March 13th. I reviewed Nik Cohn's "Awopbopaloobop, Alopbamboom, The Golden Age of Rock" in two parts. Cohn wrote the definitive history of rock and roll in 1969, which would be fine if rock and roll had died that year.  I also published a short story announcing Broken Bells' (James Mercer's collaboration with Danger Mouse) ep release "Meyrin Fields"

March 14th. Dropped the hammer on Brokencyde's then latest album "Will Never Die"... wishful thinking says I.

March 17th. Went against the grain by slamming Naomi's "Hurts" album. which I described as "abysmal, wretched to the point of despair, Hurts is aptly titled, the listening experience is ruthlessly painful." listen now and you can thank me later.

March 19th A review of Apricot Jam's "Preserved, Live @ The Fox Theatre" an excellent and underrated album. Lewi Longmire was and is one of the most gifted musicians to bust out of Albuquerque.

March 20th. The second part of my "book review" Nik Cohn's "Awopbopaloobop, Alopbamboom, The Golden Age of Rock"

March 25th. The definitive Boheims post, love me some Boheims!

March 26th. Dirt City Graphic, just an excuse for me to post something other than album reviews and retrospectives.

March 30th. A review of a book I found at Dollar Tree. Bob Greene is a mainstream hack, but with this bargain bin cast off "When We Get to Surf City" he spins the poignant and heartbreaking tale of Jan Berry and Dean Torrance.

March 31st. Dirt City Graphic.. The Beach Boys "Wild Honey" is the masterpiece that Brian Wilson was trying to make during the aborted "Smile" sessions, that comment still holds true.


Apr. 2nd.  Dirt City Graphic, I once wrote some poems that were published without my expressed written permission.

Apr. 3rd.  The long awaited return of That Dirt City Sound podcast. Episode 11 was delayed for months by the lack of funds needed to upgrade my podcast account. (Bring Back Dad, Allucaneat, Steve, Ant Farmers, Strawberry Zots etc.)

April 7th.   The Mettro Monologues, Jeff Mettling is legend in his own mind.

April 12th. Who Keeps Score? .....The only time you don't keep score is during practice.  Lorenzo Antonio, Albuquerque's homegrown pop idol has sold millions of albums in the Spanish speaking world (and a lot less everywhere else)

April 13th   Dirt City Graphic, kissing ass will get you places, but it also leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

April 14th.  Steve-Steve,   once upon a time there was a band named Steve, though it seems that none of the band members were named Steve.

April 17th.  Record Store Day,  life lesson #1 don't be a hero,  life lesson #2 never chase after two large Samoans boosting cassette tapes.

April 18th.  Dirt City Chronicles' is one year old.

April 19th.  That Dirt City Sound podcast,  Episode 12 (Lizard House, The Shins, The Muttz, Treadmill, Mumble etc.)  Went old school with this one.

April 21st.  A review of former Refrigerator's lead singer, Burton Jespersen's album "The Ride"

April 23rd. Dirt City Graphic, all revolutions will be televised, followed on Twitter and posted on Facebook.

April 24th. posted video from former Philisteens member, Mike Glover's Bright Blue Gorilla

April 25th. "Ye olde Crotch video" Jen Sincero pre- Jenny Clinkscales Band, fucking hilarious video complete with hair bikini and cameo appearance by Adam Ant.

April 26th.  A heartfelt tribute to Marian Joan Elliott-Said, our Poly Styrene. Other than the Clash, Poly and her band X-Ray Spex were the only English punk rockers I could relate to. "scrub away the entire day" rest in peace, luv.

April 27th. The Withdrawals, one of the  best bands to come out of Albuquerque. Keith Thomas could be the best male vocalist from Albuquerque and Andy Dunn could be the best guitarist. Give them a listen and then tell me if I'm wrong.


May 3rd. My goal for the month was to publish 30 posts in 31 days. A personal record that will stand the test of time, because I will never fucking do that again!  Oh! and I also wrote about the human migraine that is, My Genuine Find.

May 5th. Lost Cruces, I used my favorite Gertrude Stein quote to describe that loathsome burg, "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."  As an afterthought I wrote about Ronnie Johnson a.k.a. Forever in the End (fucking stupid emo band names) a.k.a. The Sun.The Moon.The Sky.

May 7th. Mexico's gangsta music is often performed in front of real life gangsters, and can have a deadly side effect. Here's your guide to the narcocorrido scene south of the border. This post had long legs and thousands of hits.

May 11th. Dirt City Graphic, the whole new romance, pirate get-up, puffy shirt thing really hurt Adam Ant's legacy. His music and production, created in partnership with guitarist Marco Pirroni was fucking top notch.

May 13th. The Silver City Blues Festival was outstanding this year.  I also wrote about New Mexico blues musician and one man band, C.W. Ayon. Coop has forged a one man blues circuit in Southern New Mexico that could be the start of something special.

May 14th. Dirt City Chronicles, I live in Deming, but I write about Albuquerque... how the fuck is that possible?

May 15th. Train of Thought, a short and sweet musical retrospective about my home, Deming, N.M.

May 16th. Bob Forbes is a world renown guitarist who lives in Deming, New Mexico, surrounded by cacti, yuccas and scorpions.

May 21st.  Janos (formerly The Bends) is the brainchild of Carlos Trujillo and Levi Sainz. Trujillo's specialty is darkly humorous, chilling, perverted ballads about murder, death, suicide and necrophilia.  It comes natural to him, he grew up in T. or C.

May 22nd. The video for Black Friday by Yoda's House is the soundtrack for your childhood nightmares. "Late at night while you are sleeping, Mickey Dee he comes-a-creepin"  

May 23rd. A review of Mumble's Hepburn album, Mumble being iconic local musician Eric Johnson (Gutterleaves) Mike Gerwin & Steve Sargent.

May 24th. That Dirt City Sound podcast Episode 13, the world was supposed to end that day, it didn't. (Evol Lived, Vertigo Venus, The Scrams, Mark Moon, The Hollow Lines etc.)

May 26th. Dirt City Graphic, I once saw Van Halen in concert before they were really famous.... yawn!!

May. 28th. Horsefaced former NFL Qb. John Elway gets mad at Denver punk band for calling themselves Elway.

May 29th.  I would totally do Lorraine Lewis, and why not we're the same age. This post has over a thousand hits, I think it's because of the L.A. Nookie photo that displays Lorraine's best assets.

May 30th. That Dirt City Sound podcast Episode 14, a mix of local favorites that will put a smile on your face and a strut in 'yer walk (The Withdrawals, Janos, RedEyeC, The Surf Lords, D Numbers, CW Ayon, The Rum Fits)


June 2nd. Re-posted Episode 6 of That Dirt City Sound podcast, pure New Mexico Americana at it's finest (Fast Heart Mart, Hazeldine, The Grave of Nobody's Darling, Santa Fe All Stars, The Handsome Family etc.)

June 5th. A look at author, musician, Mark Ray Lewis, the driving force behind Trilobite. Plus there's the added bonus of my mini review of Mark's book "Long Sad River"

June 8th.  There was once a band from Taos, N.M. that wanted to be the next Red Hot Chili Peppers. They might have pulled if off, except as songwriters they made better preachers, luthiers  and natural herb hucksters. Silly rabbits, tricks is for pimps and ho's.

June 10th. Klaus Kinski was an evil genius.

June 17th. The Land of the Free 'zine,  fanzines are making a comeback, don't ask me why.
 
June 18th.  A couple of videos from Fast Heart Mart, one of which includes this great line, "the heat doesn't bother me, it's an excuse to move slow though this world" Amen!

June 20th. The border couldn't stop rock and roll from creeping south, Mexican teenagers caught the fever and soon they were sporting chinos and Beatle boots while doing a thousand dances.

June 25th. That Dirt City Sound podcast Episode 15, live and alternative recordings of various favorite musicians (Trilobite, Mary and Mars, Clampett Report, Saltine Ramblers, Fast Heart Mart, The Handsome Family etc.)

June 26th. Tenderizor- Touch the Sword,  more of an experiment than a review.


end of part one


Monday, December 26, 2011

The Last Radio Show




It's been a great run, man!

From the newly designated T.J. Trout studios, Trout's final show on his final day on the Duke City airwaves started, appropriately enough with The Doors' "The End" A fitting song for someone many people have often referred to as "that motherfucker" Trout himself called it "the most depressing finality song ever" 

T.J. Trout is not dead or dying (not to my knowledge anyway) he's retiring and leaving Albuquerque in his rear view mirrors. So much for my conspiracy theory of TJ Trout sitting out his non-competition period and then returning to Albuquerque airwaves as a talk show host. T.J.'s wife had already preceded him to Florida, the Trout's having already sold their Albuquerque home. 

In the end TJ Trout's midwestern roots won out and he moved down to Florida. I'm not certain how I feel about that. It does strip some of the sentiment from his choked up final farewell, knowing that his bags were packed and he couldn't wait to get the fuck out of town. All sentimental notions aside, it didn't take long for the show to go low brow, as T.J., Swami Rob and Rainman started reminiscing over the grossest moment in Morning Show history (turtle head girl)

They then segued into "the paintball incident." an intern torture that Trout sadly refers to as "the low point of my career." Though, Swami cheers T.J. up by reminding him that the paintball victim was also on the receiving end of a hand job from porn actress Jessica Drake. All's well that ends well as Rainman adds "At least we didn't have him call his dad while he was getting it."


What's the deal with the dead fish on the wall?

"How blackened is your soul?" T.J. asks Skyler after she admits to not caring for Avatar: 3-D. which she later describes as "two and a half hours of absolute stupidity" Skyler will join Swami and Rainman in the post T.J. version of The Morning Show. She sounds like Erica Viking, but that's where the similarities end. Sklyer plays the now familiar female yuckster, a role established by Robin Quivers on Howard Stern's show.

The transition won't be easy, the first show after T.J.'s departure (Dec. 22nd.) featured Swami Rob and Skyler. At times you could cut the tension with a knife. Swami's exchanges with Skyler were punctuated by awkward silence as they failed to synchronize their deliveries. It's safe to say that the quips and repartee did not flow without obvious effort. 

That was just practice, after Jan. 1st. the fate of 94-Rock will rest in their hands. If the ratings take a dip (and they most likely will) why not bring Erica Viking back? that's a formula that's been known to work. Or better yet, do as Joe Camel (or whoever voices that bit) suggested and make him the morning show host... I could listen to that, everyday. 

Swami Rob (Brothers) is a nice guy, he plays in a rock band (Ambient Trash) he's intelligent and at times mildly funny. He has a voice straight out of "Dead End Kids" which is strange, seeing how he grew up in New Mexico and graduated from Eldorado Hs. (must be a Far Northeast Heights accent) He started out as an intern at KZRR and has now worked his way up to morning show host.


Jer called in from Salida, Co. which led to an impromptu "Optimistic Outlook" Jer's patented rants "I hate Christmas, it's winter and it's like... there's nothing going on here, there's no work to be found, so you don't have any money, the days are about three hours long, it's cold, i wish i could say it, but this is radio, but... beep.... Christmas." Jer wraps it up with "now there's your optimistic outlook" 

Swami recites the familiar "A sappy song sticks in your head longer" that Jer would close with, "Yesterday's a memory, tomorrow's a vision and today is a hopeless bitch." When Jer tells Swami that he can't wait to see what direction the show takes without Trout, Rob declares "We've been sitting under you and Trout for the last seventeen years, we've learned a thing or two"  Trout tells Jer his influence was Yoda like, which leads Jer to say "Suck you will, people will like" while Rainman interjects with "I ain't shucking for you no more." 

T.J. returns from a break with "I've been getting e-mails saying "remember that one time" some of you guys have memories of crap I'd forgotten like ten years ago.... what? some of you guys have been taking notes? Jeez!" The farewell show plodded on as more guests came by or called in, Darren White, Paulie, Lente, Kapt Krunch, Martha from Martha's Body Bueno, Gary Johnson etc.


It all culminated with a round of tributes from Swami Rob, who explained that the best advice T.J. ever gave him was "You can come at this with some integrity and intelligence and still go to the toilet with the fart jokes" and  Rainman  who spoke of his father trying to convince him to stay in school by advising him to "Think about T.J. Trout, do you want to be that guy?"

And then following Rainbow's "Since you've been gone", and the Honeymooners theme song, T.J. had his final say.  "This is tough, the final decree, this is not an ending, I sincerely mean that."  T.J. named off the staff members at KZRR, "I could not have handpicked better people to work with,  You've enriched my life".... his voice then broke and he had to pause and gather himself.

"...enriched my life beyond all meaning, I'll miss the hell out off you guys, just to end this thing up, no words of great meaning or importance, take care of each other, love and teach your kids, be kind to your friends and family, right or wrong.  If you can, give the other guy a break. Think of me every once in a while and I'll try not to be a stranger, as I've done for the last twenty five years, see ya!"

Cue Happy Trails by Van Halen




Friday, December 23, 2011

That Dirt City Sound Episode 23





That Dirt City Sound podcast episode 23 is a hodge podge of musical delights. I set out to make this a "rock" episode, which it is to a certain degree. Times are changing and what we once knew as rock music is slowly evolving into something else. More and more, we have less rock and more music.

Simon Widdowson is from Leeds, England he currently lives in Portland, Or. but for six years he called Santa Fe his home. Simon's specialty is carefully crafted slightly skewed pop songs.

Spellbox is Mysti Mayhem and Mandocello, they also made their home in Santa Fe, although they're now based in Durham, N.C. (Portland East?) Egyptian Death March was their debut album, released in 2003. Spellbox defies convention and  I dare you to pigeon hole them into any one genre or category.

Angola Farms is iconic Santa Fe rocker Tommy Archuleta  (Facedown, Disasterman, Beautiful Stupid Radio, 23 More Mintues) and guitarist Ben Ziegler.

simple is simply Stacy Parrish (January's Little Joke) Daniel Prevett, Jeff Romaniuk and Joe Anderson.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Dirt City Chronicles
     

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Thousand Miles from Guitar Town




Nothing says December like a list (or two) whether it be a listing of dead celebrities or  timely events that took place over the course of the previous twelve months, lists are essential this time of year.

Originally this was part of a previous post (1000 Guitar Pickers in Guyville)  Being a completist, I couldn't stop at just one list. Plus, it gives me an excuse to use that picture of Jimi Hendrix dressed up as Santa Claus.

The first list is of my personal favorites.   The second list is made up of  famous and obscure guitarists that snobs may frown upon, but I love them dearly.


Here's my "Favorite" top twenty list:
1.    Jimi Hendrix  (I rarely go a day without listening to some Hendrix)                                       
2.    Paul Leary (Butthole Surfers, a beastly buzz saw of evil screeching feedback)
3.    Ron Asheton (Stooges, his influence cuts across generations like a honing knife)                    
4.    Robin Trower (the very definition of sinewy, no one sustains a note longer or better)                                      
5.    Keith Richards (the reason I started listening to rock, only reason I listen to the Stones)                                     
6.    James Burton (an unmatched body of work, a humble and understated professional)                 
7.    Marco Pirroni (Adam Ant, his work with Sinead O'Connor is beautifully sublime)  
8.    Jeff Beck  (Rock my Plimsoul, Beck's Bolero.. an erratic genius, still has the chops)                                              
9.    Stevie Ray Vaughn (Just like Duane Allman, he was a once in a lifetime talent)                            
10.  Robby Krieger (his jazzy leads opened Doors and set a new standard for rock guitarists)                      
11.  Glen Buxton (Alice Cooper, every glam rock guitarist that followed jacked his riffs) R.I.P.
12.  Dick Dale (King of the Surf guitar, used his guitar to imitate the sound of waves, brilliant!)
13.  John Cipollina (Quicksilver, fluid sensous leads, psychedelic rock's premier guitarist)
14.  Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac, brilliant songwriter & guitarist, plagued by mental problems)
15.  Jorma Kaukonen (Jefferson Airplane, blues, folk or rock, his influence is largely forgotten)
16.  Page Hamilton (Helmet, an avalanche of uncompromising badass guitar noise)
17.  Link Wray (so far ahead of his time that he may have been a time traveler) 
18.  Scotty Moore (Elvis Presley, the first truly "rock & roll" guitarist, launched a 1,000 imitators) 
19.  Chris Spedding (never in a big name band, undeniable studio talent, long  overlooked)
20.  Paul Burlison (Rock & Roll Trio,  he invented the fuzz tone and distortion, genius!)


 Guilty Pleasures 
1.    Ted Nugent (can make his guitar  trumpet like a raging bull elephant, right wing nut job)                                           
2.    The Edge- David Evans (developed his own style, association with Bono hurt his legacy) 
3.    Billy Gibbons (his amazing talent is overlooked due to ZZ Top's cartoonish appeal)
4.    Mark Farner (Grand Funk, basically a junk guitarist, king of heavy metal guitar)               
5.    Steve Stevens (Billy Idol, all the flash & trash aside, he was a solid guitarist)         
6.    Mick Jones (Clash, kinda half-assed it, played big sloppy rudimentary riffs)
7.    Steve Jones (Sex Pistols, his arena rock style was part of the joke, cheeky bastard!)
8.    Chris Hayes (Huey Lewis, his work on Heart & Soul earned him a spot on this list)  
9.    David Jenkins (Pablo Cruise, in the 70's nothing said California like Jenkins on guitar)
10.  Marty Walsh (Eddie Money, one album- No Control, one song- Shakin', perfect!)







Friday, December 16, 2011

The Dawn of Redeeming Grace


Venus Bogardus (James Reich and Hannah Levbarg) have graced us with a cool ep release just in time for Christmas.  "Music from The Endless Possibility of Sky" is four instrumental tracks,  that includes two yule classics and two Venus Bogardus originals. Did I mention that it's music from the forthcoming movie, The Endless Possibility of Sky...now I did.

It's a digital album available for the ridiculously low price of $2 (that's two American dollars, folks!) At those prices you can't go wrong. You could listen or download without paying, but it's a shame if you do. As Billy Mays would say: That's $4 dollars worth of music for $2... do it!, you know you want to.

While you're at it buy a copy of James Reich's novel "I, Judas" Walk alongside Judas and Jesus, taste the wine, smell the whores, slip the noose over your head, witness the fear, self loathing and betrayal. Then... abandon all hope... of putting it down until you've finished reading it.


This Christmas I'm treating myself to the entire Venus Bogardus catalog, Spitting At The Glass, Tourist and Motorman and not for the purpose of writing reviews. This will be strictly for pleasure.

Sometimes, listening to an album for the sake of reviewing the music takes the piss out of it.  Playing a song over and over to decipher the lyrics can be pure drudgery. Though, that's not the case here, seeing how these are instrumentals.

"Silent Night" that old yuletide warhorse is born anew. Hannah's bass notes rumble ominously  as James builds that old familiar tune into a dissonant electric guitar rave-up. Thus, keeping it relevant for a few more holiday seasons to come.

"The Vault" has a Vince Guaraldi style piano riff, that conveys the crunchy feel of fresh snow underfoot while warming your soul in front of a roaring fire sitting alongside Judas Iscariot.

"Meth" is the music that plays in your skanky drug addicted relative's head as she shoots up in the bathroom while everyone gathers round to open presents.

"Jingle Bells" with piano notes as sparse as robins on a winter landscape brings us back to the spiritual side of Christmas. It is after all, Christmas music.


http://www.venusbogardus.com/
http://www.venusbogardus.com/home.html



The Graphic


Here's a few well timed Holiday Season music releases for those last minute (or well thought out) gifts and stocking stuffers (can you stuff a digital downloads into a stocking?)


Martin Stamper a.k.a Fast Heart Mart is back in Albuquerque, but before he hits the streets he'll be performing at Burt's Tiki Lounge, Friday Dec. 16th (that's tonight) at 10:00 p.m. Fast Heart Mart will open the show followed by Pancake$ and Leeches of Lore. 

Seeing Fast Heart Mart in person  could leave you hungering for Fast Heart Mart recordings. Both CD Baby and Amazon have Martin's full catalog available (sadly nothing from Hobos in Limbo) This includes his latest album, "Fast Heart Mart and The Stompers: Awkwrdquan."  

Martin picks up a banjo and reworks some of his classic tunes (Ruben's Train, Movie Theatre) and several songs from his previous album, the understated and mesmerizing "Depression Proof" (I am a Bear, Jawbreaker Sky, San Francisco)  It's Martin going back to his roots, playing at farmer's markets and pouring his soul into that most American of music.       http://www.fastheartmart.com


And if that don't float your boat, Sicksicksick Distro is having a Christmas sale. Prices are slashed, not to ridiculous "how do we do it!" levels, but still quite reasonable.  Now, you can find something for that discerning music lover in your family without leaving the house. Is he or she a Bigawatt fan? Sicksicksick Distro has that on Cd-r.  Does Alms ring a bell? you can get "Endless Purification" on a 3" cd-r, feel free to help those poor guys out. 

What! you're the only trendy fucker in Albuquerque without Tendorizor's "Touch the Sword" Sicksicksick Distro can solve that problem for you. (albeit on 12" vinyl) Sabertooth Cavity's "En Lak Ech" 12" vinyl... you know it! KILT's "Snowwhiteinhell" also 12" vinyl, Yoda House/Black Guys 7" split on vinyl. Don't be left out, amaze your friends, piss off your roommates, fucking do something. All available at Sicksicksick Distro.  http://www.sicksicksickdistro.com


SuperGiant have always surrounded themselves with an intergalactic mystique that's equal parts stoner bullshit and Carl Sagan's Cosmos. Their first release the eponymous "SuperGiant" ep was groundbreaking and served notice that something different was oozing out of Albuquerque.

Now, it's been three years since "Antares" SuperGiant's debut full length album came out. "Antares" was an epic rock album that truly helped to define the peculiar genre known as stoner rock. Sludgy as fudge batter and twice the fun.

You would expect the much awaited follow-up "Pistol Star" to be amazing, but it's not. It feels and sounds like something SuperGiant slapped together, just to get some product out there. The band's slow and heavy grind has evolved, on a few tracks they almost sound like (gasp!) The Deftones.

SuperGiant once appeared poised to become the next big thang from Albuquerque. Now, they're still poised, though the momentum they had in 2008 seems to have vanished. SuperGiant takes the stage tonight (Dec.16th) in Albuquerque at The Launchpad as part of  The Porter Draw's cd. release party along w/Three String Bale & Mother Queen Death.    http://www.supergiantrock.com


Alaska In Winter (Brandon Bethancourt) just announced a new release. "December Compositions" is fresh as a warm loaf of bread and just as comforting. It comes on a floppy disc cd-r complete with poster. It's also available for downloading, if that's your technical preference.  

It's warms my heart to see AIW back in the swing of things, it can't be easy coming back from what he went through. Brandon chronicles his recent struggles (both with his former label, an eating disorder and substance abuse) on "Suicide Prevention Hotline" an ep that gives the listener an unblinking look at the darkside of despair.

The ep is dark and introspective, not quite in keeping with the yuletide spirit... or is it? They say the holiday season is the toughest for anyone suffering from depression. If that's the case, pick up both "Suicide Prevention Hotline" and "December Compositions" that will cheer you up. AIW has an extensive catalog of music available, check it out.  

Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Trout Mouth Replica



Love him or hate him, TJ Trout has been an integral part of Albuquerque's airwaves for the last 25 years. Trout recently announced that he's retiring as host of  The 94-Rock Morning Show, he signs off on Dec. 21st. His announcement follows on the heels of Clear Channel abruptly firing KBQI's (The Big I) popular morning duo, Tony Lynn and Myles.  On his part, TJ made it clear that he was not forced out and "that it's time to leave and the decision was my own." he went on to say: "I thought that 25 years is probably enough, so it's time to take some time to sleep, decompress and to fish." 

What he really means is that once the "non-competition" period is over, he'll be back hosting a talk radio show. (his retirement may void that clause) For now the plan is to replace TJ with Swami & Rainman. They're probably just keeping the seats warm until Clear Channel pulls the plug and switches to a Regional Mexican format. Clear Channel has two rock stations in a market that's shrinking faster than a New Mexican mud puddle, logic says that one has to go. Something tells me that TJ Trout is the rat that knew when to leave a sinking ship.


Rock as a radio format is dying out, the general consensus in the radio industry is that the format is a money loser. For years KZRR has bucked that trend, 94-Rock has consistently finished in the top five in the Arbitron ratings for Albuquerque. Though they've always fallen just short of the top spot. Clear Channel's other rock station, KTEG 104.1- The Edge, plays more modern rock music that appeals to a younger, mostly male listening audience. A large part of KTEG's success is also due to their championing of MMA fighting, which has a huge following in the Duke City.

Clear Channel has an iron grip on the local radio market. The ratings book for this past summer showed Clear Channel stations holding four of the top five spots and six out of the top ten. KZRR is solidly in second place ahead of  KBQI, KTEG and KPEK, all owned by Clear Channel. The #1 spot is held down by KKSS (owned by Univision) KKSS appeals to a much younger demographic with a format that mixes hip-hop and hot hits, as evidenced by their high energy "ain't we having fun" Morning House Party. 


Terrestrial radio stations are almost an obsolete form of entertainment. They have been supplanted as the primary source for new music. Abrupt format changes and catering to the lowest common musical denominator  forced longtime listeners away. (KZRR still clings to its AC-DC, Ozzy & Led Zeppelin like a wino to his wine) The real problem (for radio executives) is that every single person out there is now his own program director and station manager. 

There is no reason for anyone to listen to a song they don't like anymore. We can program better rock stations than some consultant pouring over surveys. The options are almost limitless. I personally use a plug-in fm transmitter that plays flash drives loaded with the music of my choice. It plays through my car radio speakers on a frequency that I've selected (in urban areas your choice is limited) Radio (satellite, terrestrial or internet) can't match that. 


TJ Trout, brought the hi-jinks and shenanigans of the Morning Zoo format to Albuquerque at a time when the local airwaves were stagnant. Trout and his co-horts stayed true to the general template for zany morning shows across the country. Although, we didn't know that, since there had never been anything like it in Albuquerque. Before KZRR there was KRKE-FM, a faceless station with a bland album rock format. The KRKE jocks projected a laidback  vibe that wasn't much different from that of KRST (before the format change to country in 1981) 

KRKE was the classic example of what FM radio once was, complete with vinyl pops and skips. That would change in 1986, with a change in call letters and the arrival from Cleveland of a radio personality who would bring "shock" radio to Albuquerque.  The Morning Zoo format had been around for a few years, though it was mostly limited to a few stations in the midwest and east coast. WMMS in Cleveland had tweaked the format to perfection and it was a variation of that morning show that TJ Trout introduced to Duke City listeners.



After a highly hyped build-up, Trout hit the 'Burque airwaves like an angry stepdad. KZRR quickly made its presence felt and has been Albuquerque's rock & roll leader ever since. Over the years the station's cast of characters has changed. (Jer, Robin, Kapt. Krunch, Phil Mahoney, Renee, Hubby Dean, Jane Metzler, Erica Viking etc.) On a side note: Hubby Dean (Scott Mansfield) entered the priesthood and was once sued by the family of a Chama man for what he said during the eulogy "The Lord vomited people like Ben out of his mouth to Hell." 

In mid-1990's KZRR ratings took a dive. Which could be attributed to competition from Citadel Radio's Classic 104 or to dunderhead program director Frank Jaxon (who?) A man who was once quoted as saying "We don't play music from the 80's, because music in the 80's wasn't very good"  Obviously, Jaxon (who?) didn't see Grunge coming either. With him out of the way, KZRR settled into a format known as Active Rock (a mix of classic & modern rock)

                                     

It was during this period that TJ Trout found out that Sandia Peak Broadcasters (who first hired him) had trademarked the name "TJ Trout" without his knowledge.  This despite the fact that Trout had brought the name with him from Ohio. When the story first made headlines, Trout refused to divulge his real name (Timothy Lelko) stating that "It's an Eastern European name that's hard to pronounce." Negotiations with Twin Peaks Radio/River City Broadcasting (then owners of KZRR) went nowhere and in 1996 Trout resigned.

TJ then accepted a job at KOB-AM to host an afternoon talk show. He was however barred from using the name "TJ Trout" and River City made it clear that they had the right to give the name to his successor. KOB-AM wisely stayed out of the battle, although their program director did state that he would take TJ with or without the name. Then, as both sides geared up for a legal showdown, Trumper Communications swooped in and bought all of River City's Albuquerque stations.



The owner of Trumper Communications, Jeff Trumper opened the door for TJ to stay on the air at KZRR, by releasing the trademark on the name. Soon after that, TJ Trout announced he would remain at 94-Rock, "The problem I had with 94-Rock was not with the new owner, it was with the previous owners, who basically snubbed me on the trademark issue." By snubbed, he meant screwed. KOB-AM, which had only a non-binding agreement with Trout, chose not to pursue a claim in court.  

Under TJ's watch, the 94-Rock Show pranks were mild (disgruntled Elves marching in the Christmas parade, toll booths on the Montano Bridge) The repartee between TJ and the Morning Show regulars was intelligent and unforced. The Rasta Records parody song series, was top notch and often featured local musicians. The cast of characters ranged from the inspired (Joe Camel, Dave Chucklesen, Jimmy Stewart) the mildly amusing (Rambo's Reviews) and the highly irritating (Hank) As Albuquerque grew and familiar neighborhoods became a little less familiar, there was one constant.. TJ Trout on the radio.   After Dec. 21st. he won't be there anymore.

                                       

                                       

                                       

                                       

                                       

                      
                        KRKE-FM air check featuring Renee on air and Frank Jaxon (who?) doing commercials



Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Thousand Guitar Pickers in Guyville





Frank Zappa said rating musicians is ridiculous, I agree.  Judging the merits of blues, rock,  jazz or classical guitarists is all conjecture and a matter of personal taste.  Rolling Stone magazine recently released their list of  the top 100 guitarists of all time. (Not to be confused with David Fricke's similar Top 100)  I agree that Jimi Hendrix should head up the list, everything after that is up for debate.  

Naturally it's a conclusion deduced by guesswork, anyone that says otherwise is lying. It's not like there's some scientific or mathematical formula to compare sustained tones or speed riffs.   I disagree with some of the picks, especially Derek Trucks #16. Trucks is a wunderkind, but is he better than James Burton or Carlos Santana?... not by a long shot.  He reminds me of the speed metal players, blazing fast with great technical expertise, but without a hint of personality.

B.B. King #6, is rated way too high, to me he always sounded too polished and corny.  The new generation of blues rockers prefer the gritty style of Albert King #13 or the kinetic energy of Buddy Guy.  Keith Richards  #4  ahead of Chuck Berry #7 ?,  considering Keith plays nothing but riffs he jacked from Chuck, shouldn't Berry be ranked higher?  Keith Richards wasn't even the best guitar player in his own band (that honor went to Mick Taylor) and he sure didn't improve with age. To be honest neither Richards or Berry belong in the top twenty.

Les Paul #18,  if we're picking old guys  why not pick Andres Segovia? Seriously though, Les Paul's cascading riffs predated and influenced every genre of rock music known to man.  Freddy King #15 didn't really distinguish himself  from the other Kings on this list. But, he still plays circles around many of those ranked ahead of him.  George Harrison at #11 is just wrong, he was hardly an elite guitarist.  Ranking Carlos Santana #20 is a travesty. Lately it's been cool to bust on Carlos, although, every living musician on this list  would sing his praises. 


Here's Rolling Stone's top twenty and my synopsis of each, if you disagree (and I'm sure you will) just keep in mind, there will never be a consensus on something as hypothetical as "Who's the Greatest Guitarist of All Time." And yet, it's so much fun arguing about it.

1.   Jimi Hendrix (the man with the guitar is still unmatched, the future & present king)
2.   Clapton (everything after Layla was anticlimactic, dogged by addiction & racist statements)
3.   Jimmy Page (I have him at #2, it's just a shame he didn't do more after Led Zeppelin)
4.    Keith Richards (not really a lead guitarist, but he understood his limitations)
5.    Jeff Beck (#3 in my book, hard wired and edgy, not everyone's cup of tea)
6.    B.B. King (such a soft silky touch, sadly after 1969 he was basically a lounge act)
7.    Chuck Berry (on guitar he was a rock & roll innovator and competent blues player)
8.    Eddie Van Halen (set the standard for an entire generation of metal guitarists)
9.    Duane Allman (a truly gifted player who helped invent the southern rock genre)
10.  Pete Townsend (great songwriter & composer, loud & messy guitarist)
11   George Harrison (not an elite guitarist, limited skills, little progression after 1970)
12   Stevie Ray Vaughn (Sad demise, was at a crossroads in terms of style when he died) 
13   Albert King (left handed electric blues original, so good that everyone stole from him)
14   David Gilmour (overlooked due to Pink Floyd's artsy tendencies, an inventive player)
15   Freddy King (a dynamic  guitar sound, more raw & urgent than Albert  or B.B.)
16   Derek Trucks (channels Duane Allman, his clear antiseptic leads are emotionless)  
17   Neil Young (has a distinct sound, but his flat colorless tone can grow tiresome)
18   Les Paul (the wizard knew how to build them and he could also play them)
19.  James Burton (played w/ Ricky Nelson, Elvis, Emmy Lou, brilliant in the studio or live)
20   Carlos Santana (equal to Clapton, adept at blues & rock, his low placement is disgusting)


Here's my "official"  top twenty list:

Some would rank Eddie Van Halen much higher, many would ignore Frank Zappa's legacy and others may scoff at me for including Dick Dale.  My criteria included, the artist's body of work, their influence on other players and innovations. 

1.   Jimi  Hendrix                                    
2.   Jimmy Page                                      
3.   Jeff Beck                                         
4.   Eric Clapton                                      
5.   Duane Allman                                  
6.   Albert King                                    
7.   Carlos Santana                                  
8.   Johnny Winter                                   
9.   James Burton                                    
10. Buddy Guy                                      
11. Stevie Ray Vaughn
12. Freddy King
13. Eddie Van Halen
14. Pete Townsend
15. B.B. King
16. David Gilmour
17. Frank Zappa
18. Robin Trower
19. Neil Young
20. Dick Dale













Saturday, December 3, 2011

Death by Misadventure: Les Harvey




How dangerous is it to play an electric guitar? In the U.K. during the 1970's it could be deadly. Between 1972 and 1976, at least three well known musicians were victims of electrocution.  A testament to shoddy British electrical codes and practices or just unfortunate accidents? In the case of guitarist Les Harvey (an obscure member of the 27 club) negligence on the part of  a stage hand was to blame.

The terms ground and grounding are used in U.S. electrical practice, in the U.K. the equivalent terms are earth and earthing. Most electrical systems connect one supply conductor to earth (or ground) If a fault within an electrical device (an amp, microphone or guitar) connects a hot unearthed supply conductor to an exposed conductive surface (the guitar or mic) anyone touching it while electrically connected to the earth (making contact with the ground) will complete the circuit and receive an electrical shock.


Leslie Harvey was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1945, the younger brother of Scottish soul singer Alex Harvey. Les got his start with his brother's Big Soul Band before joining another Scottish band, The Blues Council. With Les on board Blues Council scored a regional hit "Baby Don't Look Down" but were struck by tragedy before they could cash in on their success. In 1965 while touring in the U.K., their van crashed killing vocalist Fraser Calder & bassist James Giffen, Harvey escaped unharmed. 

Shorty after that tragic accident, Alex introduced Les to his future bandmates (vocalist Maggie Bell, drummer Colin Allen, keyboardist Jonathan McGinnis, bassist/vocalist James Dewar) They were then known as Power, but soon changed their name to Stone the Crows (an English  exclamation for surprise or shock) Peter Grant, Led Zeppelin's manager signed them and they quickly garnered much attention in their home region. The band would record three acclaimed albums, "Stone the Crows", "Ode to John Law" & "Teenage Licks" and establish itself as a must see live act.   

In 1969, just as Stone the Crows were starting to pick up steam, Les Harvey (at the insistence of manager Mark London) hooked up with Cartoone, a Scottish band  that had financial backing from Peter Grant. He recorded with them and then joined them on a U.S. tour opening for Led Zeppelin and Spirit. Despite Grant & London's best efforts Cartoone folded and Les reunited with his Stone the Crows mates. Les Harvey's future looked bright, he was a rising star and then came that ill fated May 2nd. 1972 booking at The Top Rank Ballroom in Swansea.


Contrary to most accounts of the accident, the band was not performing in front of an audience. Les Harvey was killed during a sound check, prior to the concert. Harvey wasn't electrocuted by his guitar, but rather by touching a microphone that had been energized through an amplifier that wasn't grounded. It's said that his hands were wet, though no plausible explanation for this has ever been brought forth. Maybe, he was sweating profusely, in any case when Les Harvey grasped the microphone (that wasn't grounded, in contrast to Les, who was) he competed the electrical circuit and was killed instantly.

Stone the Crows carried on, Jimmy McCullough (Thunderclap Newman) replaced Les Harvey. The band would record one last album before breaking up. Maggie Bell recorded two solo albums and sang on Rod Stewart's Every Picture Tells a Story. James Dewar became well known as Robin Trower's lead vocalist and bass player. McCullough reached the pinnacle of success as the lead guitarist for Paul McCartney's Wings, before leaving to join the reformed Small Faces. Jimmy McCullough, who at age eleven had been mentored by Hank Marvin of The Shadows, died of a heroin overdose in 1979, he was just 26 years old.  



The Shadows were the British Ventures, but unlike those dull Seattle lads they had charisma. Formed in 1958 by Cliff Richard as his backing band after the success of Living Doll. They found their own audience with the release of their #1 hit "Apache" in 1960. (Apache sold a million copies in the UK alone) and went on to have 35 chart hits of their own. They pioneered the four man rock group format (lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar & drums) that would soon revolutionize popular music around the world. 

Guitarist, Hank Marvin (who wore Buddy Holly specs), was one of England's most recognized musicians. Although, all the band members: Bruce Welch, Tony Meehan & Jet Harris had their followers. Due to personality clashes, the band was rife with dissension and this led to Meehan & Harris quitting to pursue solo careers. John Rostill  became the new bass player, after Brian Locking (who didn't work out) was let go. By the time John Rostill joined them in 1963, they were well established. 

However, their days in the spotlight were numbered. Beatlemania and the first wave of the British invasion would soon wash them away. John was with The Shadows through their break-up in 1968 and then during the period (1969-71) when they reformed. In order to advance his post-Shadows career, he built a studio at his home and got involved in production. On Nov. 26th 1973, former Shadow, Bruce Welch arrived at Rostill's house to record some songs. Unable to gain entry after announcing himself, he summoned Rostill's wife and together they forced their way into the studio. They discovered John Rostill dead on the floor, electrocuted by the ungrounded bass guitar that he still clutched.


Only the shadow knows what lurks inside the heart of men and faulty electrical wiring. If you've learned anything today, it's that electricity always finds ground, no matter what gets in the way. Here's something else you already know: The Yardbirds served as a launch pad for three hall of fame guitarists, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. However, Keith Relf  as the front man for the Yardbirds, was the face best associated with the band.

Keith Relf's voice and harmonica launched a thousand garage punk bands across America. Their success on the charts carried over from England to the U.S. where they proved to be very popular. Without them there would be no Shadows of Knight, Count Five, Music Machine etc. Outside of The Rolling Stones nobody influenced the American garage punk scene like The Yardbirds. Keith Relf and Chris Dreja formed the Yardbirds in 1963, the name came from an English expression describing hobos hanging around railyards. 

The Yardbirds had a run of success that would rival that of most British Invasion bands. There was always a static energy coursing within the band, the bi-product of trotting out one gifted guitarist after another. The end result was a string of iconic hit songs on both sides of the Atlantic. By the fall of 1968 the infighting had grown tiresome and the band broke-up due to "artistic differences." The band's main composer/producer Paul Samwell-Smith had already quit in 1966. Keith Relf and Jim McCarty left to pursue a style influenced by British folk and classical music.


Jimmy Page and Chris Dreja set about rebuilding The Yardbirds as  a hard rock outfit (ala Cream, Jimi Hendrix Experience) Peter Grant (Stone the Crows) was brought in to manage the "new" group, it didn't take long for Grant & Jimmy Page to take the reins, pushing Dreja aside. Chris got the hint and left to pursue a career as a rock photographer. After considering B.J. Wilson of Procol Harum and vocalist Terry Reid, they settled on the line-up that we've come to know and love as Led Zeppelin.

The New Yardbirds (Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones & John Bonham) served as the studio band for a PJ Proby album and then embarked on a Scandinavian tour. As they prepared to record an album as The Yardbirds, Chris Dreja hit them with a cease and desist order, stating that he owned the rights to the name "Yardbirds" Needing a new name and inspired by something Keith Moon had said (you'll go over like a lead balloon) they changed their name to Led Zeppelin and the rest is history.


Keith Relf and Jim McCarty teamed up to form an acoustic duo called Together, they then formed Renaissance, a folk rock group that included Keith's sister Jane Relf.  After that he put together a hard rock band Armageddon, and produced tracks for other artists, none of which received much acclaim.  By the mid-1970's Keith was still searching for the formula that would return him to musical prominence.  

Keith had built a home studio in the basement of his home. On May 14th, 1976 he retired to his studio to rehearse tracks for a project that would reunite the original members of Renaissance. As Keith picked up his ungrounded electric guitar he was jolted by electrical current, his son found him on the floor near death. He was rushed to a hospital, but a recent illness had left him in a weakened state and he died soon after the accident. 

In Keith's case the culprit was a gas line that ran underneath the floor where he was standing, when he picked up the guitar, the electrical current raced through him seeking out the grounded pipe below. For years an urban myth circulated that Keith had been killed while playing his electric guitar in the bath tub. It sounded like something from "A Thousand Ways to Die" but it wasn't true. It was however a shocking end to Keith Relf's pursuit of rock & roll stardom.