Saturday, August 27, 2016

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 42

C'mon in, the water is fine
After sixteen years of self imposed exile in New Mexico's Bootheel Country, I've now been back in Albuquerque for eight months. This has allowed me to view the city from a different light. Burqueños proclivity for running red lights (especially on the Westside) is fucking scary. Bring back red light cameras already. Unser north of I40 is a speedway, on most days Unser south of I40 resembles a Baghdad highway. I've seen guns flashed, fights on the side of the road and a pitbull pup nearly strangled when he jumped out of a pick-up bed in traffic. The fifth most dangerous city in the U.S. continues to live up to its dubious ranking. A vicious series of brutal murders, drive by shootings and road rage fights have turned 'Burque news into the north-of-the border version of tawdry Mexican crime tabloid Alarma!

Albuquerque is a quizzical mix of open hostility and open armed bienvenidos.... meted out in equal increments that can be both puzzling and maddening. Bad things happen to good people here and bad things happen to bad people with alarming regularity as well. The prevalence of Spanish spoken throughout the city, is perhaps the biggest change that I've noticed. The line separating the homogeneous white heights from the rest of 'Burque is almost blurred beyond recognition. What were once good neighborhoods are now bad and what were once bad neighborhoods are now gentrified. Albuquerque as I once predicted has become more like Los Angeles or Phoenix. Though to be honest, the entire southwest has become more like Los Angeles or Phoenix That's life in the big city.

The one thing that has remained constant in the Duke City is the music scene. It continues to thrive with an upsurge of creative and talented musicians heading up a growing list of bands and projects that rival those of any other major metropolitan area that comes to mind. No shit. Albuquerque music makes Albuquerque a better place to live, it's proof positive that there's intelligent life here. Bring back the Punk Rock Flea Market, I need more music. Mac's Steak in the Rough and Bob's Burgers are overrated, Chicharron Burrito Express on 4th St. is the bomb. The Frontier and Golden Pride are as good as advertised and the best bakery goods in town are at El Super Mezquite on 98th. They also carry genuine Mennonite cheese straight outta Chihuahua. 

Fort Hobo (ex-Giant Haystacks) kicks things off with a track from their album “Michael” recorded at the Train Yard in Las Cruces by Chris Mason (The Answer Lies, Shang-a-Lang, Low Culture, Dirt Cult Records) which Chris founded in 2006, in Las Cruces... “to release his band Shang-A-Lang’s first 7″ record” 15 Polk St. allegedly had a small army of fanatic “Polksters” following them and they also claim to have “created an entirely new genre of rock music” it's a shame they never got around to recording “Polk Salad Annie” Austin Morrell (previously of Gusher, You, Austin Morrell & The Alchemists, Nightsnake, Brothers, Yoda’s House, Braillist, Abraham the Poor, Heyisayfuckyou, The Crystal Thimble and High Priest) serenades us with “Bad Heart” off his latest album “Albuquerque”

Retard Slave is one of Steve Hammond's side projects “Mow Down Mow Man” comes from
“Cool A.M. Party Sweat” a compilation album released in 2011. Nick Voges is a member of The Haptics..... who are still active, having played at Burt's Tiki Lounge as recently as March, 2016. In case you're wondering, Haptics (pronounced HAP-tiks) is the science of applying touch (tactile) sensation and control to interaction with computer applications. I didn't know that. Tracks by Seahorn, The Haptics and Nick Voge are from “The Music Lab- ABQ” a compilation album featuring local bands that ranks right up there with “Ouch! Welcome to Albuquerque” Socyermom's iconic compilation as a must-have local music companion. Melanthius is Mauro Woody (Animals in the Dark, Lady Uranium, The Glass Menageries, Chicharra, Five Star Motelles) her brothers Brahm Woody, Dhaveed Woody, and Eric Wellman.

Let's cut to the chase. Faster than a stray round! More powerful than an Española lowrider, Able to leap raging arroyos in a single bound. Look, up in the sky! It's the Creamland cow!, It's Wayfarer 515!, It's Dirt City Chronicles, strange visitor from another planet (Southern New Mexico) who came to 'Burque with a music collection far beyond those of your average joe. Don't touch that dial. Dirt City Chronicles is available on Facebook, YouTube (Dirt City Chronicles channel) Google + and at the original source: Blogger, Dirt City Chronicles. I don't do Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram and I never respond to any correspondence. All music posted on Dirt City Chronicles is available at various internet sources for streaming or sale. Boy Howdy!

Part 1 of 3 ~ Fort Hobo
Horsecops ~ Black Fando
Mow Down Mow Man ~ Retard Slave
Moon Pt. 1 ~ 15 Polk St.
Puritans on a Boat ~ Cloud Lantern
Captain Trips ~ Steve Hammond
Bad Heart ~ Austin Morrell
News ~ Italian Rats
All and All ~ Seahorn
Moon Spirit ~ Ballets
So Much to Blame- The Gatherers
Escapism (Markdown Coyote Runner) ~ CanyonLands
The Door ~ Melanthius
Another Day ~ The Haptics
You're So Cool (extended mix) ~ CanyonLands
Canary ~ Nick Voges
Behind Your Smile ~ Ballets

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 41

The third installment in a three part series showcasing the women involved in Albuquerque's music scene is cued up and ready to spin. Until the late 1990s few women were involved in the local music scene and only a handful managed to release any recordings. Prior to that it was strictly a boy's club with a few rare exceptions. Beverlee Brown joined future husband Sidro Garcia in The Sneakers shortly before they relocated to Las Vegas, Nv. in 1964. The Feebeez ('Burque's legendary all-girl 60s garage band) recorded legacy consists of one scratchy self-released vinyl 45) Kid Sister w/ Victoria Woodworth are a bit of mystery. Bandmine lists them as being from Albuquerque and having been signed by MCA records. Yet, I haven't found much evidence that they actually were from 'Burque. Kid Sister rose to become a regional favorite based in Denver, Co. Could be they hooked up with Victoria Woodworth (raised in Denver) after they relocated.

Who of course, doesn't remember Femme Fatale, fronted by Lorraine Lewis (also lead singer for Babe Ruthless) they found success on a national level that few thought attainable for a local band. That success would prove to be short lived and bittersweet. Lorraine remains one of the most recognizable musicians to hail from the Duke City, becoming somewhat of a cult figure with heshers hellbent on reliving the 1980s. While we're on the subject. Twenty five years after the fact, Femme Fatale's aborted second album for MCA has seen the light of day. "One More For The Road" released this year on F n A Records. (compact disc only, no plans for a vinyl release) Lorraine, Bobby, Rick, Bill and Maz.... it's like they never left us. A time capsule from an era of Albuquerque's rock history that often gets neglected or lampooned. “One More For the Road” appears to have been released in limited quantities, check online for availability.

I would be negligent not to mention some other pioneering women on the local scene. Linda Cotton, blues/jazz/gospel singer was a local fixture for more than twenty five years. One of New Mexico's best known female vocalist, Cotton passed away at just 55 years of age in 2006. Hillary Smith, a native of Hobbs, N.M. and a contemporary of Linda Cotton, has been wowing New Mexico audiences for a quarter century. Best known for her work with Soul Kitchen (w/Chris Dracup of The Muttz & The Rattle Cats) and hONEyhoUSe (w/Mandy Buchanan and Yvonne Perea) Seriously, if you've never listened to Hillary Smith.... you need hit up YouTube and check out some of her videos. Some other notable female vocalists from the same era: Joanie Griffin (Cadillac Bob and the Rhinestones) Denise Brissey (The Planets) Denise Wollman (The Clams) 

Sometimes work and such gets in the way of posting new episodes, but at long last here we go; Dirt City Chronicles, podcast episode 41, featuring the women that make Albuquerque rock. Boy Howdy!

Voice 7 ~ Lady Uranium
Dustland II ~ Lady Uranium
Sleep With the Lights On ~ 5 Star Motelles
Brickspit ~ Star Canyon
Like a Prayer ~ The Rondelles
All Burned Down ~ Paint Me Purple
Less Okay Than Yesterday ~ The Hollis Wake
K is for Killers ~ I is for Ida
Jukeboxx Button ~ The Foxx
Sugar ~ YaYa Boom
I'm Your Huckleberry ~ Giranimals
Mellow Kin ~ Feels Like Sunday
What About Me? ~ The Jenny Clinkscale Band
You Killed Private Pyle ~ Foma
Whalebone ~ The Glass Menageries
Sitting on my Hands ~ Holiday Sail
Fil ~ Hit By a Bus

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Wall of Voodoo

Twisted Pop Music

Well, I'd say it now sounds like background music for vast urban barbeques, metropolitan rodeos, something along those lines. I've always called our music twisted pop music” Bruce Moreland

Wall of Voodoo came together at Acme Soundtracks, Stanard Ridgway's film score company. Located across the street from The Masque (Hollywood's infamous punk club) Acme Soundtracks became a magnet for aspiring local punk musicians. Marc Moreland, guitarist for The Skulls, was drawn in and from that collaboration came Wall of Voodoo. Bruce Moreland joined on bass, Chas T. Gray, also from The Skulls was enlisted as keyboardist and veteran drummer Joe Nanini rounded out the original line up. The band's name was derived from a comment made by Joe Berardi, a fellow musician whom upon listening to some of Ridgway's Acme Soundtrack recordings, declared “Phil Spector has his Wall of Sound, but you've got a Wall of Voodoo. The name stuck. It's an L.A. thing, I suppose.

Question: which of the following genre tags best describes Wall of Voodoo.... new wave, post punk, alternative rock, dark wave, cowpunk? It's a trick question, they all apply, unequivocally. How many times did you try and play Wall of Voodoo at a party only to be met by belligerent bellows of “Take that punk shit off!” Lead singer, Stanard “Stan” Ridgway drawled with jaded detachment.... a flowing river of abstract pronouncements, delivered with an unmistakably American west coast accent that echoed western movie heroes and any number of their nasalized sidekicks. “Cause I can tell at a glance you're not from 'round these parts, Got a green look about ya And that's a gringo for starts” Stan had the necessary tools: a shitload of confidence combined with an endless reservoir of arrogance.

After parting ways with Wall of Voodoo, Ridgway launched his solo career. He's recorded eight solo albums (“Big Heat” his solo debut still remains his most successful) Delving more and more into movie soundtracks while cultivating a narrative vocal delivery that  blurs the line between spoken word and singing, it's not for everyone. Stan's split with Wall of Voodoo wasn't all that amicable. Bruce Moreland still holds a grudge (Stan was instrumental in his being booted from the band prior to “Call of the West”)With Wall of Voodoo, it had a lot to do with Stan’s ego getting a little too big. People assume that the lead singer is the songwriter and leader of a band. But in Stan’s case he wasn’t. And I think it became obvious on his solo records that Stan wasn’t the creative force behind Wall of Voodoo” 

Guitarist, Marc Moreland specialized in big rich rolling tones, shamelessly lifted from Morricone spaghetti western soundtracks and spiced up with some Dick Dale inspired surf licks. Stan would introduce “Morricone Themes” by announcing: “Here's a little film music for you” Marc Moreland, one of the truly underrated guitarist from the 1980s. On stage Marc and Chas T. Gray gave off an underlying sense of hostility. Two So Cal bros ready to stomp your ass into a mud puddle at any moment. “If it's the rough stuff ya want You can point yer finger at me” Gray's encyclopedic arsenal of keyboard riffs gave Wall of Voodoo a “new wave” sound not unlike that of “Duty Now for the Future” era Devo (Can't Make Love and pretty much the entire “Call of the West” album)

Marc Moreland's roots went back to one of Los Angeles' very first punk bands, The Skulls. A band that both Marc and brother Bruce would later return to. (Bruce was asked to leave Wall of Voodoo following the release of “Dark Continent” due to his heroin addiction) Marc, Bruce and Chas T. Gray were also instrumental in keeping Wall of Voodoo afloat after Stan Ridgway and Joe Nanini left the band in 1983. Ridgway was replaced by Andy Prieboy, Nanini by Ned Leukhardt (this resulted in the “Seven Days in Sammy's Town” album) Post-Wall of Voodoo, Marc Moreland collaborated with Johnette Napolitano (Concrete Blonde) in Pretty and Twisted. He moved to Las Vegas, Nv. and put together a new band, Dept. of Crooks, which released one album “Plan 9 from Las Vegas”

Marc also released a solo album “Take it to the Spotlight” credited to Marc Moreland's Mess. (Marc on lead vocals w/ John Parish and Jean-Marc Butty, both of whom toured with P.J. Harvey) He's rumored to be the subject of Concrete Blonde's “Joey” a song about being in love with an alcoholic. (Johnette would admit as much in later interviews) An unabashed alcoholic, Marc Moreland died in Paris, France of renal failure following a liver transplant in 2002. Prior to joining Wall of Voodoo, Bruce Moreland had played bass for The Weirdos. He put together Black Cherry with Paul Black of the L.A. Guns. He teamed up with Wall of Voodoo band mate Chas T. Gray in Nervous Gender and also worked with Johnette Napolitano and The Skulls.

Drummer Joe Nanini maintained a workman like resolve even as his band mates resorted to surly on-stage shenanigans and drunken audience baiting. A veteran of L.A.'s punk scene, Nanini had played with Black Randy & the Metrosquad, The Plugz and The Bags. Following his stint with Wall of Voodoo, Nanini helped co-found The Lonesome Strangers, in (1983 w/ Randy Weeks, Jeff Rymes & Nino Del Pesco) A country rock/roots band much ballyhooed by critics, beloved by a small core of fans and and an utter commercial failure. Nanini left the band shortly after their first album “Lonesome Pine” was recorded in 1986. An ever inventive percussionist, aptly schooled in all genres, Nanini passed away from a brain hemorrhage in 2000. 

This modern world deserves a Modern attitude”

Ultimately, it would dawn on me that Stanard Ridgway fashioned his drawling vocal mannerisms after those of flaming asshole and proto-typical So Cal white guy.... Beach Boy, Mike Love. It all makes sense....these two variables (Beach Boys and Wall of Voodoo) have a linear relationship with each other. Both sought (in their own fashion) to promote the SoCal lifestyle as the American ideal. Brian Wilson painted sunny beach side landscapes and doted endlessly on the pleasures of fast cars, nice girls and surfing, Wall of Voodoo chose to expose the darkside of SoCal life, preferring America's fast lane to sandy beaches and surf boards. The post Ridgway version of the band (w/ Andy Prieboy) actually covered The Beach Boys' “Do It Again” on their final studio album “Happy Planet”

Wall of Voodoo's lyrics could easily have come from a Jay McInerney novel. “Mexican Radio” transports us to the land of barbecued iguana and easy virtues. “I'm on a wavelength far from home” “Lost Week End” is set on Interstate 15, a satiated couple returning to L.A. after a weekend of gambling debauchery, during which Sin City lived up to its other sobriquet: Lost Wages. “You can take any exit that you happen to feel is the right one." “Tomorrow” addresses the stress brought on by sudden fame and growing expectations. “Can't understand what happened to all the plans I made” “Call of the West” draws inspiration from Sergio Leone's epic spaghetti western, Once Upon a Time in the West "Son this ain't no western movie matinee and you're a long way off from yippee yi yay”

“Long Arm” finds the boys preoccupied with menial jobs and corporate headhunters “this business needs a strong arm. some new part to clear out all the deadwood” “Factory” hits close to home “Now I know I had something to say but the problem is to say something, gotta say it” The factories of today come with piped in music. It could be a big box retailer, a fast food restaurant, a convenience store. All the same, you grind it out, then go home to take stock of your prized possessions “I got a little rubber pool in the backyard for the kids to wade in and I got a little backyard, pink mustang, fenders chrome” It's all a facade “an average joe from the grand design” caves in to the pressure and can't always hold it together “Just lately now when my wife talks back to me I slap her around”

Just like Brian Wilson in the 1960s.... Ridgway, the Moreland bros., Joe Nanini and Chas T. Gray had their fingers on the jaded pulse of 1980s Southern California. Which as it turns out, was quite a bit different from Wilson's era. They'll be wearing their Mexican poncho vests and even if they could surf, the locals wouldn't let them go near the water.... I feel a hot wind on my shoulder or maybe that's just the cholos in  that lowrider staring intently at me. I hear the talking of the Dj.... but you can bet it's not Wolfman Jack, who built his rep in the early 1960s broadcasting on XERB, just across the border in Rosarita Beach. Even though, the son of a bitch was actually working in Minnesota at the time and his shows were pre-recorded and the tapes shipped by courier from Minneapolis.

"I've never seen so many corndogs in my entire life"
Stan Ridgway scanning the crowd at US Festival, 1983