Thursday, April 23, 2015

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 21

“Rain hissed on the freeway. It ate the old warpaths, ran into the ditches. Soaking. Spreading. Penetrating.” Tom Robbins, Another Roadside Attraction

Mitch Hedberg once said “My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them”
Greetings from the land of the big mañana.... The hissing of summer lawns signals a change in the weather. We've been blessed with a March that came in like a lamb and went out like a.... lamb. April has been borne of the Zephyr. Gentle and serene.

The lack of southwesterly haboobs has given us a much needed respite from the usual sandblasted spring weather pattern. You don't need a weather man to know that even under optimal conditions, New Mexico is dry as a bone. Unlike Californios (or future New Mexicans as they're known in Santa Fe) we figured out (more or less) how to get by on meager rainfall and below average runoffs.

All day I've faced the barren waste without the taste of water... cool, water. The Gaia Theory observes that species thrive which live in harmony with their natural environments, while those that do not are eliminated. Humanity is the dominant species and we're living in disharmony with our environment.

These crackers are making me thirsty. “Hold mighty man, I cry, all this we know. He spreads the burnin' sand with water, he's the devil, not a man” I'm here to tell you now each and ev'ry mother's son, You better learn it fast; you better learn it young, 'Cause, the big monsoon it never comes and It's a hard rain a-never gonna fall

 We Ain't Done Dancin'

Unbeknownst to many, a viable music scene has taken root in Las Cruces and there's talent-a-plenty to be found in “a place hysterically optimistic politicians call, the Borderplex” This movement for the most part revolves around The Doña Ana Music Night Union or DAMN Union, a collective fashioned from the members of Music Night, a weekly happening at The Farm in Las Cruces.

DAMN Union consists of Danny Graves and Aaron Ransbarger, both former members of The Rawdogs, one of the few Las Cruces musical aggregations that aggressively pushed the proverbial envelope beyond the ordinary. The city of the crosses, is for the most part a burg given to the all the comforts of convention. All of which made The Rawdogs stand out like Don Schrader walking down Central Ave. in Albuquerque.

Audra Rodgers, David Tucker, Joe Hecker, Larry Ramos and Neeshia Macanowicz make up the DAMN Union roster on any given night. Singer/Songwriter, Sean Lucy (picture Fast Heart Mart, had he been raised in the desert Southwest instead of Virginia) joins in every now and then. Lucy is a prolific musician with eight albums to his credit (all are available on Bandcamp) Sean Lucy's albums “King Clone Creosote” & “Neon Angel in the Halls of Heartache” combines the musical forces of both Sean Lucy's Family (a collective not unlike the DAMN Union) and those of DAMN Union regulars, Danny Graves, Aaron Ransbarger, Audra Rodgers, Larry Ramos. Duke City drummer Kris Kerby ( I Cum Drums, Tendorizor) took part in the “Neon Angel” sessions.
DAMN Union has two albums out on Bandcamp, Take Me With You (2013) and Blacktoe Sessions (2014) on which they revist two Rawdogs classics, “Say You Mine” (also known as Violent Hand) and “Her Face”, but sadly not their languid yet powerfully ominous signature tune, “Cold Iron”. Aaron Ransbarger, a multi-instrumentalist (as are all the members of DAMN Union) has a singing voice that draws your attention like magnets draw metal flakes. That voice is in full effect on both DAMN Union albums, though the lead vocals interchange between Ransbarger, Danny Graves and Audra Rodgers.

Danny Graves has an album out on Bandcamp as well, “Dan and the Working Band” which he describes as “a mash up of horrible and beautiful emotions.” It's a concept album not unlike Van Dyke Parks' Song Cycle album and much like that 1968 classic, Graves reminds us that “To get the most, one has to listen from start to finish”

I've always said the same about this very podcast. For full effect, listen all the way through. Rustic country and heartland rock, dry as dust vocals infused with a rootsy feel more western than country. Throw in some tunes from Cruces stalwarts such as CW Ayon, The Raggies, Dusty Low and the results are far from your standard ranch stash.

Aaron Ransbarger & the Damn Union Violent Hands (Say You Mine)
Janos- Coyotes
Sean Lucy & the Damn Union- Everybody's Got to Live
Dusty Low- Hey Ya'
Soulshine- Sweetest Thing
CW Ayon- After While
Chicken Lunch- Take Me Back to Lordsburg
Danny Graves & the Damn Union- Ella
Aaron Ransbarger & the Damn Union- Turn Away
Janos- Tom Petty
Sean Lucy & the Damn Union- Bordertown
The Raggies- Mujeres de Juarez Blues
Dan Bern & The Bends- Fiesta Time
Rawdogs- Whiskey
Danny Graves & the Damn Union- Blackbird of Cheyenne
Dusty Low- Dusty Low