Dec 28, 2012

Sierra Nevada Narwhal

     Looking outside the window at the 10 inches of snow that dropped in my yard the last couple of days it is most definitely winter time in these parts. Time for some slow sipping beers that bring a nice warmth to the body and encourage contemplation. Not just contemplation of the beer but just things in general.
     Pouring almost black and letting no light in at all (I tried it in several rooms, against several windows and lamps), minimal head (might be from a super soft pour or the glass as I had one of these a week back and it boomed with an inch and half frothiness that hung on for quite awhile) and slight lacing (again maybe the glass and the soft pour) this is quite a rich looking stout.
     Aromas starting bursting as soon as the hit the glass and filled the room. Reminded me something of a port wine with hints of chocolate and a good dose roasted coffee for good measure. 
     Bitter dark fruits come first in the flavor. Quite rich and distinctive. Notes of bourbon, coffee and a tad of hop bite follow it adding a the first twist to the brews complexity.  Another twist comes in the end as there is a bit of creaminess followed by a dry baker's chocolate finish.
     The mouthfeel of the beer itself is interesting for as thick as it may appear there is bit of airiness to it but is still a bit chewy. The kick of the 10.2% abv is present all throughout the sips but is never overbearing but has enough warmth to make the frigid temps outside not seem so bad. This is a good one to nurse on a day like today where there is no need to go outside, there's a hearty meal cooking in the oven (though one of these is almost a meal in itself) and wool sock provide the perfect buffer zone between feet and a cold floor.
www.sierranevada.com

Dec 26, 2012

"I finally realized that I didn't need to be a vegetarian to get pussy" A Smashin Transistors Classic Interview with Pink Reason


(Editors note: This past summer I decided to let the place that hosted the Smashin Transistors website lapse. Didn't feel like paying for it as cash has been tight and it was sorta becoming a secondary place to this one that I was updating. The site was also the place where everything that was on it was hosted and stored there. I did not have any of it backed up on my computer. I scrambled to save as much as I can into my current computer to some day repost the interviews. I have slowly been doing that here.

Kevin De Broux is the brains behind Pink Reason. The band was active for a bit then laid low for awhile. In the past little while though have been showing activity again and have released a couple records. Kevin is an interesting guy in many ways so I figured it was high time to get this conversation I had with him back up on the internet.

-Dale)


Have you ever taken a bullet?

Kevin De Broux: I've never been shot at, but I have had a few guns pulled on me before. It's hard to say how close I came to having someone use one on me though. The closest call was probably after coming home in the middle of the night when I was living on a dope farm. I walked in to find a crazed tweaker on the couch I slept on holding a forty and a pistol. He jumped up and stuck the gun in my face and started yelling at me. I took his forty from his other hand and slammed it, because that's what tough guys do in the movies. He slapped me on the shoulder and told me I was alright kicked open our back door, and shot off some rounds into the air.
After that he rolled up a huge spliff and started telling me a story about cornering Jon Spencer, pushing him around and calling him "Elvis." I'd never met this guy before. I ended up moving out of the place a couple days later, even though it was the best living situation I ever had. A couple weeks later I heard that guy OD'd and died in Minneapolis. He was lying face down in a friends lap for a couple of hours before anyone realized he wasn't nodding. That's probably the closest I ever came. A friend of mine who occasionally plays bass for Pink Reason was shot in the shoulder a while back though at a basement show in Milwaukee. The doctors left the bullet in him because he didn't have insurance.

Guns. Do ya think if the entire country was armed a lot of gansta shit would fall by the wayside or would half the country die in firefights within a year?

KD: I've witnessed the negative effects of gun control first hand. When I lived in Russia guns were illegal so only criminals had guns. What was alot scarier than that was what people resorted to when they weren't able to acquire a gun. When my friend Brock was shot recently, he told me not to believe anyone who tries to play off getting shot like it's no big deal. I was there when he was released from the hospital a couple hours after it happened. The guy was in serious pain. The only thing I can imagine hurting worse than getting shot with a small hot metal bullet, is getting shot with a big, burning flare. When I lived in Russia that is what we carried for protection. The big guys would carry the flare guns, and us little guys got to carry these hand held flares with hard plastic handles. You'd pull off the top and it'd light up like a dagger of fire and then you'd burn out whoever was fucking with you's eyes. I've seen the damage a flare gun does. Nobody wants shit to come to that.
I have no need to carry a gun on me anymore, but I still own a couple. My friend Shaun, who has played with Pink Reason off and on since the get go has a pretty nice arsenal of weapons. He's got an SKS and an AK-47 along with a few pistols and rifles. My friend Czad who is another sometime collaborator of mine has got a few machine guns as well, along with an assortment of pistols and rifles. Come to think of it, alot of my friends and bandmates have pretty large arsenals of automatic weapons and pistols. That said, I don't think guns are toys and none of us ever use them irresponsibly. In fact, playing with guns is the kind of thing that'll cause a severe beatdown around my group of friends. We take that shit pretty seriously.

Didn't you have a deaf guy in the one of the earlier Pink Reason concotions?

KD: Yeah, Dax was the singer of the first incarnation of Pink Reason that ever played live. I saw him about a month and a half ago and he was doing the same shit he's always done. Deaf people can be pretty scary. They're kind of like junkies, once you know one they just come out of the woodwork. They exist on a completely different plane from the rest of society. They have their own culture and standards. I'm sure he's down at the bar right now getting wasted and sexually harassing women and getting violent with anyone calls him out on it.
That guy once cut off part of a dude's lip and tongue with a scissors for grabbing his ass. He got away with it too cause he's deaf. I learned sign language while we were cellmates once. He was in on some pretty serious charges, federal bail jumping and domestic violence and destruction of property. He got out before I did and I was picked up for driving without a license. He had been bugging us for years to let him sing for us before we finally let him. He just happened to ask me once when I was on acid and it seemed like the most brilliant idea ever. At the time we were all convinced that we were going to get rich off of the idea. Unfortunately, when we did play out people just stood there with their mouths on the floor.

On the records is it pretty much just you playing everything so how do the touring line ups come about?

KD: They just kind of happen. The lineup we had for the tour with Psychedelic Horseshit came about because I knew of a few people who were both homeless and unemployed, so I asked them to come out on tour with us. We left for that tour without a drummer and managed to pick up this kid Alex in Cincinatti. We'd never met before, but he's since become a close friend.
Friends of mine from Lafayette came out to the show and just happened to bring him along with. I was asking people in the audience if any of them played drums and he said he did. We basically forced him to come out on the road with us for four weeks the next morning. He was recently unemployed, so he was down for it. Sometimes people offer up their services for the band, which is a pretty new development. Other times I just assemble bands out of members of other bands I'm touring with. It's usually just a matter of assembling a small cast of characters a few days before leaving for tour and then practicing like crazy.

Siltbreeze resurrected itself for Pink Reason and Times New Viking? Is this true or just hype?

KD: Probably just hype. It's true that Tom brought back Siltbreeze for TNV. I was just lucky to have released my first 7" at the right time and sent it to the right person. It was pretty much just a happy accident for me.

I played a friend of mine some Pink Reason stuff and his response was "Junkie psych...Not acid psych." What do ya think he meant?

KD" I think anyone can figure out what he meant, although I gotta disagree. It's not junkie psych, it's more robitussin blues. I can't think of a single song I ever wrote or recorded while I was on dope. I spent most of my time high nodding out or fuckin' my girlfriend at the time in the ass. Junkie girls love to take it in the ass, this is something I know. To be honest, I found the whole dope thing kinda boring after a fairly brief period, but not before ostracizing myself from all of my friends. Back then I'd walk into a show and someone would lead me outside alone and ask me if I was "alright" like I had a disease or something.
Even after I stopped doing the shit completely and had an actual serious problem with meth, I still couldn't get people to stop asking me about dope. It's so taboo, which is why I was interested in the first place I imagine. A year after I had completely stopped fuckin' with heroin and I was a full blown meth addict I had people bugging me about my heroin addiction and I'd try to explain to them that I thought dope was boring, and was past that, and these were people that knew I was up for days at a time shooting crystal, and they still focused all of their attention on the dope. The whole thing is silly to me. Junkies are silly to me. I've been sick before, not as bad as some people, but I never let it get that bad, cause I never saw the point. Junkies act like they've never had a cold before. Drink some fuckin' alcohol and get over it. The behavior of serious potheads and junkies doesn't seem all that much different to me. Dope is just pot for people who wanna be hardcore. Both can be fun in moderation and get real boring when it becomes a lifestyle.

What's the most unusal thing you ever made a (drug smoking) pipe out of? It ain't gonna be some gay hippie thing like an apple I hope.

KD: I've smoked alot of meth out of lightbulbs in the past. That's probably the strangest thing. I have smoked out of an apple before, but it was those hippies in Goodnight Loving who fashioned that. The strangest thing ever though was probably the crackpipe that my cousin (another touring member of Pink Reason) made out of a trumpet I gave him. I wasn't too happy about that either. While the trumpet wasn't in great shape, it still worked and if I would have known he was going to make a crack pipe out of it, I would have kept the thing myself. Still smoked crack with him out of it though.

So you smoked out of an apple with those Goodnight Loving hippies. They're good people but what's your take on hippies in general?

KD: I've always been interested in the darker side of that cultural phenomena. Death trippin'. Manson. The Weather Underground. The Stooges. That kinda thing.

Who in the state of Wisconsin have you done drugs with that you would never want to do drugs with again?

KD: I've had a few people end up in the hospital as a result of their doing drugs with me. I once paid a neighbor close to a hundred dollars to take a chick to the hospital after she OD'd on meth and started having a seizure. I had been up for days. I tried to flush my drugs but my friends made me hide them in the alley instead, which was probably a good idea since there was a whole lot of it and I hadn't exactly paid for it yet. Nobody would take her to the hospital and I knew I would end up in jail if I did. It was a pretty disgusting scene. It was one of the moments when you realize that everything has gone completely wrong. I didn't even really know the girl. She was my girlfriend at the time's best friend and she had just gotten off of methadone. She told me she'd done alot of meth before, so I cut her a bump, but I've got this problem of having a pretty insane tollerance to most things, and I always end up giving people too much of shit on accident.
I also hospitalized a coworker when I was much younger by giving him eight and a half hits of black geltab his first time trying acid. He listened to bad punk music, so I was trying to "fix" him. I turned on a strobe light and threw on some Throbbing Gristle and when that started to freak him out, I put on some Coltrane to mellow him out. He spent a while after that in an institution. The kid's friends were not very happy with me about that and tried asking me why I thought it was alright to give someone that much acid on their first time. I had to explain to them that I was on about eighteen of them myself and that the kid kept on bugging me for more. I ended up convincing the cops that I was sober as they were strapping him down to a stretcher. He kept on asking "have you ever questioned your own existence?" That was the only thing he could say for a couple hours before the cops came. He asked them that too. I got them to uncuff me and let me go. I convinced them on that much acid that I was sober. I was on probation at the time for possesion of LSD though, so I ended up doing a little time for that one later when I explained it all to my PO.

Who in Wisconsin haven't you done drugs that you would like to?

KD: The writer Uncle Fester was a neighbor mine in Green Bay. He literally wrote the book on clandestine methamphetamine manufacture. He also wrote the book that Japanese death cult used to manufacture the sarin gas they used to gas that subway station. Some magazine once called him "The Most Dangerous Man in America." I haven't done meth in a couple of years now. I have no urge to revisit that part of my life again, but I'm sure it would have been pretty interesting to have stayed up for a few days with him talking chemistry.

So what drugs will you never do again?

KD: This one is easy. DOC for sure. It's a phenethylamine. It's a chemical cousin of STP which made big news in the late 60's when scores of users ended up in the hospital. It's effects are like a mix between a psychedelic and methamphetamine. I made a near fatal mistake when measuring out the dosage the first time I experimented with the drug and ended up in a very bad place. I was blinded by hallucinations. Eyes closed or open did not matter all I could see was intense geometrical patterns. Then I started to have a seizure and I began vomiting and pissing myself uncontrollably. Finally I was forced to dial 911 as I was alone. When I got to the hospital my blood pressure was at a critical level. I begged the doctors to give me sedatives but they had never heard of this chemical before and were not sure how to deal with it. I tried calmly explaining to them that if they didn't give me sedatives soon that I would have a heart attack. They ended up agreeing with me and that's about the last thing I remember before falling into an intense dream state where I imagined all kinds of horrible things. When I awoke I had an IV in each arm and a catheter in my cock. I ended up eventually convincing the doctors that I felt sober so they would release me. I was still tripping. I tripped for well over twenty four hours. It was an eye opening experience and nothing I ever wished to repeat.
However, when Pink Reason was in Orlando with Psychedelic Horseshit, one of Rich, the drummer's friends scored us some stuff that was supposed to be acid. I had just told them the night before in Atlanta about my experience with DOC. Anyway, what we took ended up to be DOC and I could tell right away when I tasted it on my tongue. Luckily we all took fairly small dosage, but it was enough to keep all of us from sleeping. I was pretty scared because of my last experience with it. Matt from PH was the only one who liked the experience. We ended up having to drive about ten hours to Mobile without any sleep between the seven of us while all still coming down from this fucked up trip. It wasn't a pleasant experience, but it was an experience nonetheless and made for a good story.

Does Casey of Hue Blanc's Joyless Ones ever call you at really weird hours?

KD: He's done it a few times, but he hasn't done it for a while. I flipped the tables and called him up in the middle of the night one time all wasted just to say "hi" and talk some shit, but it happened to be an evening he had the boy and although he didn't sound upset, he also didn't seem very excited about the call. He hasn't called me late since.

Tell me a little bit about your grindcore past in Hell On Earth..or were Hell On earth not grindcore?

KD: Grindcore? There were definately elements of it in there. I was a huge fan of the stuff at the time. I was listening to alot of Suppression, Napalm Death, AxCx, Discordance Axis and the like, among other things. Others in the band not so much, although, I guess we all listened to whatever else anyone else was listening to as we spent a whole lot of time together. It was a mashup of alot of different influences. Our drummer was turning me on to shit like Zero Boys. He was also obsessed with Mob 47. Our singer loved shit like Manowar and classical music. One of our guitarists listened almost exclusively to Dylan. Our other guitarist added what he called "noise guitar." I think we all kind of just came together with the idea of making something intense. We all wanted to play fast. We were convinced we were the fastest band in the state at the time. I don't know if that was true or not.
Those were good times though. Looking back, not much has changed for me. I was transient back then, as I am now. One of the biggest differences was that back then I survived off of retail theft and dealing acid in addition to the label/distro and screen printing stuff my girl at the time and I would do. These days I'm too worried about prison to sell shit and I haven't shoplifted in years.

A couple of the Hell On Earth guys are in Razorfist, right? What's your take on them?

KD: I believe that opinion on them is pretty unanimous among those who have witnessed them live. It's fun stuff, period. Those guys may be my boys, but I don't think I'm biased here. I can be pretty critical, even with those who I love and respect. If you wanna thrash, those are the dudes you talk to.

Timmy Triplett, the guy who put out the Razorfist CD as well as the Hell On Earth vinyl EP seems like an interesting character. Any idea on what makes him tick?

KD: Tim and I go way back. He is one of the original members of Pink Reason. Him and I used to spend alot of time together back in the day. Around the age of seventeen or so, back when I was in Hell On Earth, him and I started hanging out a whole lot. He just called me up one day and we talked for a long time about music and trippin' on dramamine and for years after that we hung out all the time, smoking shitloads of weed, droppin' lots of acid. He turned me on to Royal Trux. Played me Singles, Live and Unreleased. I had never heard the band before, but we had dropped some acid and he threw it on. It was a pretty life-changing experience for me.
As far as what makes him tick, that's pretty easy, it's the constant search for the "perfect riff." I guess now he just spends most of his time working and running Trigger On The Duten Doo, but I know if nothing else he's still searching the record crates of his mind for that long forgotten stoner jam that contains the heaviest groove in the universe.

Since you lived in the Green Bay area for a bit and hung out with the Mystery Girls from time to time. Have you ever thought they didn't make a good deal with the devil...or they kept missing their appointment with them?

KD: The problem is they kept on trying to find the devil in Canada, and everyone knows the only thing they have up there is beautiful women and good weed. It'd be nice to hear something more from those guys in the future. They were one of the best live bands I've ever seen. I'd have chosen their show over any reunited Stooges or Blue Cheer show anyday. Jordan once accused me of causing the "worst show of [their] careers" after getting a PA taken away from a show we played togeather years ago. He said that we made them sound like Lynyrd Skynyrd. I've always wanted to cover Free Bird and after that I asked Jordan if he'd play lead guitar on a recording of it. He didn't seem amused.

You're not living in Green Bay these days, right? How do you like Columbus? How does it compare to some of the other places you lived in?

KD: Columbus is good. It's not that different from other places I've been in the midwest. The big difference there from Wisconsin is that it's easier for me to make money playing music. My most loyal fans in the world are all in or from Wisconsin, but they're scattered around and their numbers aren't that large. Columbus kinda accepted me in as a local and showed me a good time so I figured it'd be a good place to settle for a while. I needed a change of scenery anyway. Wisconsin was starting to get kind of depressing for me. Most of my closest friends were either moving out of the country, on their way to prison, or else, at the worst "growing up" and moving on, which essentially means spending most of their time with their women and only getting out to goto the bars.
Although I do live in Columbus, so far I've spent as much time hanging out in Lafayette, IN as I have there. I've never really been big about the "home" thing and to say that I live anywhere can be misleading. I've been in a semi-permanent state of transience for the last fifteen years. Moved out of my parents for the first time at twelve years old when I was living in Russia and it's been a trail of couches, closets, vehicles and basements ever since.

How did you end up in Russia anyway?

KD:My parents moved there during Perestroika. They wanted to take part in something important. My mom as always a fiend for Russian literature, and my father has always been pretty nomadic. He ran away from a Boyscout jamboree in Scotland when he was fifteen and spent a summer hitchhiking around Europe. Later in life he was fairly successful for a time as a businessman and spent a whole lot of time overseas when I was real young in places like Japan, Korea and China. When he finally made it to Russia, he fell in love and eventually my parents decided to ditch the relatively comfortable life we had here in the states, sell everything they owned and move the family overseas. I think they sometimes question whether it was the right decision, because it dramatically altered the course of our lives.
My family never really recovered completely from the move. They never reachieved the financial position they were in before we left the country. Things have never really been th same for us since. Personally, I think it was the best thing that ever happened to me. It changed me as a person. Before Russia I was a very weak person. I was pretty effeminate in my youth and was constantly harassed and physically abused. Life in Russia changed me. By the time I got back at the age of thirteen I had already moved out of my parents, been in street fights, experienced a drug overdose, had a gun to my head, and played a live show with a punk band so I developed a confidence that set me apart from my peers.

How close is Siberia to the way it's portrayed in film and books?

KD: I don't know that I've ever really seen any American movies about Siberia, but it was a pretty anarchic place. Most of my friends from that time are now dead. It was very much like the wild west. At twelve I could head down to the kiosk and pick up a bottle of vodka, and I did frequently. I hung out with hooligans in the courtyards watching them shoot dope. They tried to get me to try it, but luckily I was too scared. Wasn't too scared to try the tranquilizers though and ended up OD'ing on roofies and vodka. I was out for at least a couple of days. I don't know how much danger I was in because the people I was hanging out with just kinda threw me in a room and left me there to die. I just remember waking up, walking out of the flat and when I finally found someone I knew they were really worried cause I'd been gone for a few days. At that time, in that country, life was cheap. That's about all I can really say about it.

Vegans...Should they just shut the fuck up? I mean, it's cool and all and more power to 'em but...live without cheese and meat?

KD: Not a whole lot of people know this, but I myself was a vegetarian for six years. I ended up breaking out of it thanks to help of bratwurst, which is my favorite food in the world. During that time though I did visit Monroe Wisconsin's legendary Cheese Days festival. I was fifteen years old and full of angst and I did not eat a single bite of cheese the whole time I was there, something which I have ever since regretted. Anyway, after six years of not eating meat I finally realized that I didn't need to be a vegetarian to get pussy. Good thing too.

Ever listen to Too Short?

KD: Not since I was about thirteen years old. I used to huff alot of spraypaint back then and hang out with these indians and one of them was really into Too Short. I never cared much for it, I wasn't too big into hip-hop at the time. I mostly listened to 80's hardcore and grindcore back then. I love hip-hop now, but I'm still not too familiar with his stuff. He coined the word "biyatch" though, didn't he?

Yes. Too Short will go down in history books for the word "beyotch" (or however you spell it). What would you like Pink Reason to be noted for?

KD: I don't know exactly what I want "Pink Reason" to be remembered for. I mean, Pink Reason is essentially the creative expression of my life and experiences. I think that I would like to someday be remembered as an explorer and a journalist. I would like to be remembered for searching out extraordinary experiences and sharing the stories and wisdom that those experience gave me.
There's alot more than that, but I feel like this question has me writing my own eulogy. I don't think I have much to worry about in this department. I've always left a strong impression on people, my whole life. Since I was very young people have always reacted strongly to me in one direction or the other. That's something that's always been a source of pride for myself.

What your favorite kind of woman?

KD: I've been with alot of different kinds of women and I like 'em all. My friend Bill used to always say "all women are beautiful in their own way" and it's a nice romantic notion if not always true.
Anyway, what I look for in a woman depends on what I am looking for out of them. Redheads seem good for fuckin'. Black girls are good for the stories. The girls I date are often short, and kinda nerdy with short dark hair. I'm a pretty outgoing, aggressive guy so I like to date girls that are a bit more reserved and submissive sexually. I never limit myself to one kind of woman though.

Ya ever noticed that the out going "crazy/sexy" girls that ya think would be total savages in the sack usually end being the dead fish but the quiet nerdier types seem to be the ones that know how to tear it up?

KD: My father always used to say "I ever tell you about the worst sex I ever had? It was great!" The main problem I've found with girls who are overtly "sexy" is that they tend to be actresses in the sack. Nothing is more annoying that someone acting over the top when yer busy trying to bust a nut. One thing I really like about nerdy girls is despite their sweet and innocent outward appearance, they often have the dirtiest minds, which leads to the dirtiest sex. They are also often alot less jaded and more trusting which can make things alot more fun.

What do you think intergalactic poon is like?

KD: Out of this world, man!

Find out more on Pink Reason here

Dec 13, 2012

HANK WOOD & the HAMMERHEADS "Go Home" LP

     Whenever I hear about someone around this town looking to put to a punk rock band together my ears pick up. "Maybe there will be a band in town worth getting in to again." I wish.
     So far that wish never happens. It's always cats looking to find others that dig Teenage Bottlerocket, NOFX or bald fat guy with a goatee palm mute rock. And, really, people (even "the kids") still listen to NOFX and want to form bands that sound like them?
     For real? They have the whole world at their fingertips-not just what the mall has in stock-AND they don't even have to take the risk of purchasing something that might stink because they can hear it all first yet they're still listening to things that are 10th generation Ramones as told by a history book that it's assumed Green Day wrote or novelty bands with members as old as their dad? UGH! How can such "kids" even consider themselves punk rock.
     Ok, that concludes my "These damn kids today" rant for this post.
     Yeah, I am out of touch and probably don't know what punk rock even is anyway but guys (be them "kids" or "oldsters"), Hank Wood & the Hammerheads, are to these ears the way punk rock SHOULD sound on most days.
     The pent up pizza faced paroxysm of prime 60's trash (including the nastiest blown out organ sounds in almost ever), the hit you in the face with a brick ugliness of the Stooges, the "Damn, this is catchy" thing that was buried under the guitar blasts of the best of the 70's punk gunk, the contempt for most everything of early hardcore (Y'know before all the metal dudes took it down some total asshole streets that jocks live on) and the top end of the 90's garage rock mash up of blues, noise, distortion and hip shakin'/beer swillin' snot and swagger all find themselves in this thick stew.
     The singer yelps like he is jumping around with his underpants on fire while ranting about being broke and the assholes he has to deal with every day while trying to get by in the big city. The band sound like their hands are made of sledge hammers and the bludgeon and pummel the sound into a thick, pounding mass of guts and mud.
      This IS one of the record of this year that if wasn't on my turntable it was always close by so it could be again and again. 
TOXICSTATERECORDS@GMAIL.COM

Dec 11, 2012

North Coast Pranqster Golden Ale

     With so many new beers entering the market in these parts each month, meaning so many new things to try, some of the favorites of the past have been forgotten. So many that I have wanted to write about but then never have.
     It has been a while since I have sipped on any of Fort Bragg, Ca. based brewery North Coast's wares. The other night though I saw a few things of their came back in stock at one of the stores I frequent and thought "Hmmm, It IS time to revisit." I have enjoyed many of the things they have made in the past and remembered that I never really put my 2 cents on them in print.
     Panqster pours a crisp and clear golden color with a good amount of sparkling from the bubbles. Not much of a head but a slight frosty white ring and caps hangs through the duration of the glass leaving a spots of lace behind. The Belgian yeast characteristics jump right out in the scent during the pour too. They fill the nose with banana, bubblegum, wheat and a slight bit of white grapes.
     The yeast are up front resembling banana bread in the flavor. They envelope around the other taste nuances of orange peel, dried peaches and honey. It makes for an interesting complexity-especially when notes of white pepper and nutmeg pop up before being blended back into the toasty breadiness again. A delayed warming effect also arrives a few seconds after the finish.
     The feel of the brew is self medium in body.
     When it comes to an American take of the classic Belgian Strong/Golden Ale style Panqster does it quite well.
http://www.northcoastbrewing.com/
  

Nov 19, 2012

SPIDER BAGS "Shake My Head" CD

     I don't think there is much dispute the Creedence Clearwater Revival are one of the top 5 greatest AMERICAN rock-n-roll bands of all times. When it came to being a square peg in a round whole at their time-they seemed to do it best. 
     I mean, there they were in San Francisco doing their thing along with everyone else of the era but they never seemed to fit in. While some bands around them were taking a hold of forms of blues and country and trying to load in an LSD and kale & bean sprout fueled rocket to outerspace-CCR wanted to keep it on the ground, covered in dust and smelling like fresh mowed grass, cold lager and burgers on the grill instead of greasy patchouli oil, weird bathtub wine and unwashed feet. While others were donning frocks, capes, ruffles and color combinations that looked like a rainbow had just vomited all over the place-those guys stayed dressed in flannel and denim. They weren't the sound of college kids and college dropouts trying to avoid going to war or, gasp, trying to avoid a job. They were the sound of regular working people be it in the swamps of the south or the farms of the Midwest.
     Because of that is probably the reason why on classic rock radio stations, who have successfully convinced the average music fan that bands like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane recorded 3 or 4 maybe for songs tops that are deemed classic worthy enough to be overplayed everyday for as long as classic rock radio exists while Creedence has like 10.
     Just a speculation here but it is a fair guess to think that Chapel Hill, North Carolina's Spider Bags have more CCR records on their shelves at home than by any other band.
     That is not to say giving this, or any of their previous records (this is their 3rd album), a spin is going to make one think The Son of Cosmo's Factory or anything but there is a "what we do is simple but we do it well" vibe that always looms large on the Spider Bags sound. The sound of guys who would not only loan you a shovel but would help you dig a hole and then when done could exchange a philosophical conversation with but in simple common man terms and not a bunch of mystic mumbo-jumbo or many misquotes.
    The band's main man, Dan McGee, words land more in the short story category than sing along song lyrics but save themselves from the singer-songwriter pretensions and the sounds themselves steer clear of of getting lumped into the way overused Alt-country or hokey Roots Rock tags.
    The band is essentially a Rock-n-Roll band grabbing from here and there and pieced together into something that becomes their own.
     Be it sounding like Phil Spector's Ramones shucking corn in a chicken coop on the last loser in town anthem "Friday Night",  blurry eyed and staring at the sun Byrds on a bender hayseed drone of "Daymare", "The Moon Was a Schoolgirl" epic ball of want and frustration, The Jack Oblivian-like "Shape I Was In" to having Mr. Jack O himself adding a bit of Motown bassline on the should I dance with the girls at the bar or stumble home before one of their boyfriends want to punch me theremin fringed "Simona La Ramona"-the Spider Bags sound at home both playing in front of a barn full of people dressed up in their Saturday evening best or downtown hipsters looking for a dive bar to slum at.
http://www.odessarecords.com

Nov 14, 2012

Wednesday Photo by Dale: Bloodshot Bill at the Roche in Port Huron 10/20/12

     It's been a good long while since I declared myself "so over the one man band thing." Though some of their individual set ups maybe in interesting and I am not one to know clever ingenuity there have been so many for so many years now where they seem all seem to blur together. A little bit of of country and a little bit of rock-n-roll.  
     "Yeah, sure dude. I like dig the sound too but you all are starting to sound the same. Someone has gotta kick it in the face and make it sound all battered, bloody and LOUD y'know. Wearing overalls and straw hat does not equate that. And all stop doing the same damn Johnny Cash cover too" is what I want to tell most of them (though I know they probably wouldn't listen as I have a rep for being a not easily entertained smart ass when it comes to getting out of the house, going on down to the bar, spending money on beer and watching a band).
     It seems that Montreal, Quebec's Bloodshot Bill may think the same thing!


     Save for one track I had heard in passing by the Tandoori Nights, a project was in with King Khan, I wasn't really familiar with any of Bloodshot Bill's music. Joining him and area boozy bluesy blues cat, Dale Beavers, for a bite to eat at Port Huron's Fuel Woodfire Grill the afternoon of the show, still didn't give me a hint as to what was in store for the evening either. Bill was soft spoken, personable and usually smiling. Not to forget to mention he has great hair too.



     When a barefooted Bloodshot Bill sat down at his kit, a potted plant pilfered from the outdoor smoking area behind the Roche to hold it in place, plugged in his guitar and greeted the people, some dressed in Zombie gear as it was Port Huron's annual Zombie Pub Crawl that evening, I still wasn't expecting much other than some rote Rock-a-Billy riffs and songs about '57 Chevy's with Dodge motors in them (Heh, That particular tale being another story for another day though).
     I learned that my expectations were way off!

    Within moments of starting his set his hair was flying and sweat was dripping. Hootin' and Hollering! Bashin' and Bangin'! Sure it was that 50's based thing but it was like the 50's if the aliens actually did invade and blobs of nuclear mutations were terrorizing random generic Midwestern towns and only the wild-eyed and crazy would survive.
Bill wailed like Gene, grunted like Hasil and sounded as lecherous as Lux! Sometimes all in the same breath!
     People danced. People fell down. People had a good time. Rock-n-roll in this small town I call home can sure be a blast and this was one of them. Bloodshot Bill may have not sold me on diving back into the miles and miles of One Man Band projects that flood the internet and the dive bars of this country-but I will never doubt his prowess of knocking the crap out it and making it spit fireballs.
http://www.bloodshotbill.com/

Nov 10, 2012

Liberty Street Steamy Windows California Common Style Ale

     The only other California Common/Steam Beer I have had any experience with is Anchor Steam which is the grandaddy of the style as well as, along with Sierra Nevada and the Bell's line were my gateways to the land of GOOD American beers many years ago now, so it would be the only thing I would be able to compare it too. It's been a long time though since I have had an Anchor Steam though. Not because I wouldn't drink one but shelf space is at premium at the places that sell GOOD beer in these parts so it has seemed to be bump out by all the many others that are always becoming available.
     Since this is a case of me not having an Anchor Steam fresh enough in my mind to make a mental comparison I can only judge this just recently started bottling Michigan brewery ale on it's own merits.
     Pours a slightly hazy amber in color with a light smooth head that melts fairly quickly with a slight bit of lace let behind. The aroma is light but notes of buttered biscuits and honey do waft their way to the nose.
     A noticeable bit of lemon peel is the first thing to come out in the flavor. A bit tart but not a stinger. Nice though. That gives way to bit of apple crispness in the middle. It finishes with a bit of peppercorn tying everything together.
     All-n-all this reminded me of something that could fit in lighter end of the pale ale scale. Not overtly complex but enough of it's got enough interesting characteristics to hold it's own and would fit with many different food pairing as well as quite sessionable on it's own.
www.libertystreetbeer.com

Nov 7, 2012

the FLIP-TOPS "Are Still A Band" LP

     It's been ten years since Portland, Oregon's Flip-Tops released a full length album. Sure, there were a handful of singles that came out between long players but when this album landed in my hands I thought the same thing the album title states-"These guys are still around?"
     Their decade ago debut was released on Rip Off records and it had all the things expected from a band on that label. A simple loud recording with straight ahead and head down tempos, snotty singing and guitar that spit, slobbered and sounded like a bee stuck in your ear but had an underlying penchant for a catchy hook that made the ass move (or fists fly) no matter they sneered and sounded like they had a thirst for only blood and free booze. A record here and there on the label may have added other flavors (maybe bacon grease and sugar instead of beef tallow perhaps) in the ingredients but that was always the base recipe for what was served up.
     The Flip-Tops know the fixins' well and still bake a loud, snotty cake.
     Knocking on the door of the class of '78 punk, who weren't afraid to admit that they liked a catchy guitar hook (which those came before them had as well but found the buzzsaw roar more about pissing off people that would go on for hours about the amazingness of Steve "The Hippie Crypt Keeper" Howe and the so called blues of Eric Clapton more than it was something to hum along too) were less concerned about the world as a whole and proving that one may be viewed a misfit but had read intellectual tomes, the Flip-Tops left the place with a box full of battered tricks.
     Why sing about the woes of the world when there's things going down in the neighborhood like loose girls, shitty bosses and shitty customers at a shitty paying job and cheeseburgers to eat.
     Why use big words that the listener has to look up in the dictionary when superhero comic books concerns like radiation clicks in the mind of every brat standing by the magazine rack at the 7-11.
     It's been mused over that Rock-n-Roll can change the world but it doesn't really. It simply provides the soundtrack for a changing world. I mean, the MC5 sang about revolution but at the end of the day it was learned all they really wanted was to own some muscle cars and bang some chicks. The Flip-Tops don't give a fuck about making the world a better place or declaring a call to arms. All they want to do is have a good time. Spinning this record does just that.
http://www.bachelorrecords.com

Oct 21, 2012

Lips Of Faith Series: Super India Pale Ale

     Now that the New Belgium Brewing Company has rolled into Michigan with fistfuls of marketing money all the ladies (and it DOES seems to be pretty much gals exclusively) who say "I sure like Fat Tire Ale and sure could go for one. Too bad you can't get them in this state." now can stop in almost any party store in any part of town in the state and get their fix.
     Good for them and you go, girls! Personally though I have always found Fat Tire a bit insipid and, after trying it again after more than a few years, I still do. I would hold it against them though as there are other beers in the line that may prove to be interesting.
     Super India Pale Ale find them collaborating with California brewery the Alpine Beer Company who are best known for being the American contract brewer of AleSmith's McIlhenney’s Irish Red. Being fond of hops and this one sporting Amarillo, Columbus, Simcoe and Centennial it seemed to be a good place as any to start. 

     The color is a slightly hazy gold in tone with good amount of bubbles but not too much so even a medium pour didn't turn cause a mountain of foam on the top. The head was pretty slight but what it had held on tight all through the sipping with a good amount of lace all the way through the glass. 
     Scents of pineapple stand out high in the aroma with notes of other tropical fruits such as mango and passion fruit following it. A tart forefront as far as the nose was considered with a touch of biscuits, caramel and honey in the malt backbone. A slight bit of a boozy tinge too but nothing that would make you think it is hitting the over it's 9% abv range.
     The flavor is very upfront in a tart juiciness. Pineapple and Guava are really pronounced at first along with some bitter lemon and grassy notes. In the middle the hop bite is tamed slightly with the malts taking on a bit of a roasted nuance. The ending is slighty piney along with a dint of strawberries. The finish is also brings on the alcohol bite which is muted up until that point.

     All in all a pretty solid, well balanced and interesting Double IPA.
http://www.newbelgium.com

Oct 19, 2012

FAWN "Coastlines" CD

     Most often in the college-radio world, the term “pop” is given with a derogatory sneer, and a dismissive wave of the hand. If I told you that a song like “Hurricane Fire” had a series of “whoo-ooh-oohs” through the bridge, it may not propel you to pay particular attention to the record. You should pay particular attention to this record. This album, which features Detroit-based musicians Christian Doble (Kiddo, Child Bite), Alicia Gbur (The Nice Device, The Von Bondies) Matt Rickle (Thunderbirds Are Now! , The Javelins) and Mike Spence (Those Transatlantics), is pop, in a way, say that the Pixies played pop, a little loud at times with driving guitars, a little soft at times, and with hooks all through the album. A song like “Break It Off” begins with drums and adds bass reminiscent of old Pixies. The guitars that follow are also influenced with the best of 90s college radio, and come complete with harmonies between Gbur and Doble. The vocal interplay between the two helps add depth to this album, which, in less capable hands, could have come off like a tribute to the 90s scene, but instead takes elements of this sound, and makes it original. One of my favourite moments on this record occurs in the opening minute of “Cobra On The Beach”, which has a great driving guitar lead which dies down to allow Gbur’s vocals come to the forefront. The chorus, with combined vocals and chiming guitars, is one of the best examples of “pop” that have been released in a while.
      There is more to this album than “pop” and vocals. The twin guitars in a song like “Suicide” bring an almost blues-y college rock riff to the song, and lead single “Pixels” has a twinkling guitar adding to the slightly chugging rhythm. Bass features prominently on occasion (particularly on “Hurricane Fire” and “Break It Off”, the latter which would have been my choice for single), to help provide more texture to the album. Coastlines comes across as a real collaboration, rather than one songwriter driving the overall direction. The fact that all members are credited on each song, adds to this sense of collaboration.
      If you like the Pixies, and thought Yuck’s album last year was good, I recommend checking out this album.
https://www.facebook.com/wearefawn

Oct 11, 2012

Hey Polecat! You Found That Lost Chord Yet? (A Smashin' Transistors Classic Interview)



(Editors note: Since I let the old Smashin' Transistors site at Homestead laspe I have been occasionally posting some of the interview and articles I did over there. Here's a doozy of one I did with Dale Beavers a couple years back. The photos included are ones I took too.
-Dale)   

     Strike a conversation with a blues fan about the music and many topics are likely to come up. It may be about regions of its birth such as New Orleans, Memphis and the Mississippi Delta. It could possibly be about how the sound moved north to Chicago and Detroit during and after World War II in search of  work and better life away from the swamps and cotton fields and where it adopted a louder and tougher sound to match its surroundings.
     Possibly it could be about how in the 60's British bands like the Rolling Stones, Cream and Led Zeppelin took the sound, refitted it and sold it back to white American teens who probably who were, most likely, not familiar with the sound anyway.
    Or it's quite possible you may hear a rant about how most people today think the blues is a middle age white guy standing on a stage with more money tied up his guitar and amp than some of his apparent old time heroes ever made off their most famous songs due to “the man” ripping them off blind of everything.
    One thing that usually doesn't come up though is any association to punk rock.
    Both the blues and punk rock, in their original essences, were music of the downtrodden. Both were pure expression and raw emotion.
    Both howled, wailed and took very little to make a very big noise.
    Born and raised the son of a honky tonk bar owner and Baptist preacher in Arkansas Dale, aka the Polecat (a name that was bestowed upon by a musical mentor one night after some rowdy revelry ) cut his musical teeth playing in assortment of punk rock-n-roll bands. It wasn't until he met and started playing with down home and old raw cats like Junior Kimbrough, Cedell Davis and others though that made up the foundation of what would be Oxford, Mississippi based record label Fat Possum that he found his inspiration of the kind of music he wanted to play “for the rest of my life.”
    “It's people that grew up on punk rock, alternative rock are the one's today that are turning on to blues these days”, states Dale “The Polecat” Beavers.
   “I think blues is the original punk rock anyway, man. I mean, you listen to that Live On Maxwell Street  album (Robert Nighthawk's record from 1964). Holy shit! Is that thing out of control. I remember seeing the album cover and Johnny Young's in the background with a battery powered amplifier and there's Robert Nighthawk with a super reverb in a beat up old recliner sitting out by a fire hydrant” he laughs. “And they're just rockin' it, man. It's always about Muddy Waters when people talk about blues going electric, man but Nighthawk had a few years on him. His stuff was just too wild for most people at the time and still is now.”
    At six and  half feet tall and speaking in an accent as southern as BBQ sauce and thick & deep as swamp made of molasses Mr Beavers pours himself a Fighting Cock bourbon on the rocks and talks of the early 1990's. He was in his late 20's and discovered the kind of music that touched the way nothing else had before
    “I was roommates with Bruce Watson (co-owner of Fat Possum) in college down in Louisiana and he was working in this department store there. Then he got transferred to Oxford, Mississippi. He always had a recording studio going on and started hooking up with Matt Johnson (Fat Possum Records main man). They ended up recording what became Junior Kimbrough's  All Night Long. He calls me the next day saying, “You have got to hear this guy. This is the most insane blues music I've ever heard” and he starts going on and on for about an hour about it y'know. You have got to come up here and check this out. He's got a jukejoint (The legendary Junior's Place in Chulahoma, Mississippi, which his family ran two years after his death by heart attack followed by a stroke until the place burned to the ground in 2000) and you gotta come up here and hang out.”
    At first Beavers just hung around the scene, checking it out, soaking it in, getting up on stage and occasionally jamming with these elder statesman.
    “Then Bruce and Matt and them guys starting working on Junior's 2nd album "Sad Days, Lonely Nights". I was called in to help out as an engineer and whatever . They were recording it at Junior's jukejoint so here we were  in pretty much a shack,” he laughs “I mean, the place was a mess but I ended up playing bass on the record and it was great.”
    “The thing is with those guys is they'd never rehearse. Going out and playing with those guys was what we'd call paid rehearsal”, Dale speculates on why one could consider particular styles of blues direct correlation to punk rock.  “None of them ever practiced before a gig. It was just go out there and do it y'know. Live gigs we're like a free for all. They were great! You'd go out on the road in Mississippi stopping by to pick up Junior or RL Burnside or whoever y'know, get them in the van and spend days playing these little joints all over the place for whoever would want to listen. And you watch these guys playing, and it was a hell of a lot different than listening to the records.”
   “Well, that seems to be the case with most live music”, I said to him “It's the atmosphere of it, right?”
    “Well, yeah there is that but then you sit down and watch these guys play and you realize how fuckin' simple it is. No one else can play it like them though. It's crazy shit, man. Junior doing all this snaky almost Indian music thing coming out of his guitar and whatever. It's more about what's going on with your rhythm hand and the spaces than the notes you're playing with your other hand. It's this whole percussion thing, beating the hell out of the guitar and feeling of the music y'know. As Cedell Davis (Wheel chair bound due to a bout with polio as a child, the 83 year old Davis  is famous for using butter knife to play slide guitar. Beavers played on his 1998 album The Horror Of It All then toured Europe with him) said to me, “As long as you can tap your foot to it. If you can't tap your foot to it, you ain't in time”, and you know what? He was right.”
      From there on he got lessons on the music's spirit and soul that cannot be taught but can only be learned finding himself going on the road with Junior Kimbrough.
    When asked about how he got the Kimbrough gig Dale recollects, “He needed a bass player to go out and play all these shows with.  Gary Burnside (one of R.L. Burnside's 13 offspring) was playing bass for him was a total nightmare to take on the road and Matt and the Fat Possum guys just didn't want to have to deal with that anymore y'know. I got his first album, sat down and learned every bass line off it one night. He's skeptical as hell y'know because most people couldn't understand a lot of what he was playing but I had it down! Every song he hit I had it down. “Meet Me In The City”...all of them, man. He's like “Damn, you can play”! So then I got asked will you go on tour with Junior and I was like absolutely.”
    When thinking about those shows which spanned coast to coast of the USA the San Francisco Blues Fest sticks out in his mind.
     “We opened up for Booker T and the MG's and John Lee Hooker there playing for something like 100,000 people. Man, I was like “I've hit it.”
    But it was a more intimate gig that Beavers fondly remembers most.
    “It was on the same tour as that. We had a caravan of all these guys like Junior, R.L., Paul “Wine” Jones and so on in a bus hitting all these different places. We had left Salt Lake City and we're off to Sun Valley, Idaho. Straight though that Great Basin Desert area up there, right? And the bus blows something in the rear end. So here we are stranded 2 hours from anywhere pretty much. So some guys get off the bus to go wander around amongst the scorpions and the snakes and shit and Junior's like, “I ain't getting off the bus.”, so I sat in there with him. He's got the air conditioner running and there's an acoustic guitar sitting there and Junior sat there for three hours playing every song he ever knew. Stuff he used to play a long time ago, y'know, other people's songs like “Crawling Kingsnake” and all this old stuff but playing it all Junior style, stuff he'd refuse to play for people at that point in his life because he had his own songs. And I was like “Man, this is unreal”. I mean, to hear Junior on acoustic and watching him play it was something else anyway but to hear and watch him play all these song the public would never hear him do...That was my baptism there. There was nothing better than that and I'll never forget it. After that I was like 'Man, I want to be just like that dude”. It definitely changed my life right there. I took that fork in the road and it's brought me to where I am.”
     The way Beavers eyes light up underneath his thick as caterpillar eyebrows it's obvious he likes to reminisce about his times with Kimbrough. He could talk about him for hours, so I ask, “What was he like? What was it like just hanging out with him?”  Beavers is more than happy to fill me in.
     “He was awesome. Coolest dude ever. He'd have tons of money in his pocket and never pay for anything. He'd, like, never by himself a hamburger. “Go get me a hamburger. I'll pay when you get back.”
    He then pauses and laughs, “He'd never pay you back. You know you weren't gonna get paid for shit.”
     Continuing on about Kimbrough, Beavers mentions, “You could never even call Junior on the phone. I drive from Little Rock which is 4 hours away from Holly Springs to go hook up with him because we'd have a show coming up or whatever and I wouldn't even call Mildred, his girlfriend, I was coming over. I'd just drive to Holly Springs and pull in front of Akey Brothers Radio store and there he'd be sitting out in the front parking lot in his Oldsmobile just pimpin' y'know. Like clockwork there'd he be just hanging out all day, every day just being cool. “We've got a gig Junior” I'd tell him. “Well, we better get going then boy.”
    In 1999, Dale Beavers hooked up with another Dale, Hawkins to be exact. Hawkins, who passed away in 2010, was one of the forefathers of rock-n-roll most notably for writing and first performing one of most during songs of the last 60 years “Suzy Q”.
    “I was living in Memphis for awhile but had gone back to Little Rock. I had this friend who did a show on the local independent community radio station there. His name's David Grace. He had been doing this show for 12 years and had never repeated a song twice in all that time. I would record everything I had going as far as bands I was in on 4-track. I would send him this stuff and he would play them on theradio. He was also Dale Hawkins entertainment attorney handling his royalties and what not.  One time he said to me “Man, You guys should go over Hawkins place and get some shit down on tape. I was 'Hawkins? As in Dale Hawkins? The guy who wrote Suzy Q? Are you fer real? And he's, 'Yeah. I've been telling him about you guys.' It would be cool.”
     Beavers learned though that working with Mr. Hawkins was easier said than done as the reputation of him being a little crazy from many years of living the not so healthy rock-n-roll lifestyle proved  true.
    “Let me tell you something. Dale Hawkins was a scorning mother fucker. I mean, he don't like anybody. We got to his door and here is with his cats all walking around his legs and he's got a sawed off shot gun in his hand.” It took a little for the “paranoid as hell and jaded as the day is long” Hawkins to warm up to the idea of recording with a bunch of younger upstarts who wanted to do something akin to his early wild and loose records.
    After doing an audition session for him though, Hawkins was excited about making a new record but still had his own grand ideas floating around in his head.
    “I'm going to get Richard Carpenter (of the 70's smaltz-pop hitmakers the Carpenters) on the phone”  Dale Beavers recalls suggestion being amongst some other outlandish and outdated ideas of who hawkins thought should produce the record.
    “A lot of people thought he was dead. He he was getting his chest wings back and out of his mind. Finally I said, and I had just met him 'Dale, this is the 21 century, man. That's not how you need to it'.”
   But after months of session and dealing with Hawkin's erratic behavior and hanging out in his studio in East Little Rock,  the self produced session were under the name Wild Cat Tamer on a label Dale Hawkins started strictly for the album called Plumtone in 1999.
     “It was pretty cool. People were like 'He's still alive? We helped him out and he helped us” Beavers says but also mentioned how Hawkins never paid a promised cash payment for the work. “I called him one night and was asking him about some money. He tells me, “I was gonna send you some money but I hit a fire hydrant with my Lincoln and had to get it fixed'. He was probably on his to Waffle House to get a pecan pie. So, I paid to fix the guy who wrote Suzy Q's Lincoln. It's cool, man. I ain't worried”.
    Dale Hawkins died in 2010 at the age of 74 from colon cancer.
    Beavers shakes his pack of Marlboro Reds, notices it's empty and asks me if I have some spare smokes. "I'll fix you another bourbon for swap" he offers.
    The 00's brought a lot of different thing to Beavers world. He married, move to Michigan and became the father of two kids but along with a domesticated life he needed to still get out and “lose my mind y'know.”
    Getting into Detroit's garage rock scene in the mid 90's he learned it was just like being down home with its love for authenticity and respect, though not complete aping, of the past. “I never even planned on moving to Detroit” Beavers tells me “but my second (now ex) wife was from Michigan so that's where I ended up".
    Meeting people around the town he thought “Detroit's cool. It's really rough around the edges and all that but I like that. I can hang out with these folks y'know.”
    Not long after moving to Detroit, Memphis compatriots Jack Yarber and Greg Cartwright of the lamented 90's blues punk band the Oblivians were in town to record their 3rd album as their on-going country and southern soul inflected and punk rock rooted project Compulsive Gamblers-the much acclaimed Crystal Gazing Luck Amazing.
    “I think that album is a masterpiece, man. One of my proudest moments. I was living up here for just a few months by then and Greg gives me a call and say's “We're coming up there to record at Jim Diamond's  studio. Do you want to play with us? And I'm like cool-got any songs? He's like 'Don't worry about. You'd be better if you don't know anything and just go in and play.' Top notch band and to just go in sight unseen with some great songs by Greg and Jack and to rip out this rock-n-roll record....That's what it's all about. That punk rock, that's rock-n-roll. That's the blues, No bullshit, Just play it and don't worry.”
     Also in the band was Jeff Meier, who's CV includes Rocket 455 and the Detroit Cobras and again bandmates with Beavers in the Shanks backing up Detroit RnB legend Nathaniel Mayer  both live and on Mayer's 2005 raucous soul album for the Fat Possum label “I Just Want To Be Held”.
    Meier describes those times as “a real drunk-fest. Band, audience, stage crew, doorman... everyone.”
    When asked what Beavers brought to the table in a city rich with its own heritage and style he says,  “He always brings a rock-n-roll attitude and a deceptive simplicity to every group he's in. Some of the stuff he plays seems easy, but you try playing it! There's a hillbilly sensibility, too. Not your typical suburban wanna be redneck... he's the real deal.”
   Daniel Kroha of 90's the Motor City garage soul punk legends the Gories echo's such sentiments as well “That crazy ol' polecat!? “ he grins “He's got the fire and brimstone of a Baptist preacher.”
    Sometimes though, the combination of Detroit and the Polecat with his fire and brimstone would get out of hand. It wouldn't be uncommon for people to have to step back when he decided it was time to get sideways. “He's a train comin’ round the bend, or maybe just a trainwreck.” says Meier “But don't worry, he can take it just as well as he dishes it out. If he messes with you, give it back to him. He likes it.”
   “How many times did he test your patience” I ask.
   “Almost every time I've hung out with him! Seriously, Dale's a rockin’ cat...One that comes to mind is the time he fell down the stairs at Jacoby's in downtown Detroit. He ended up landing on top me and my wife, Gwen. Of course, it was right in front of the editor of one of the Detroit weeklies, so it made the gossip column. He did everything he could to keep his wife from getting a hold of a copy.”
   Pennsylvania based, cigar box guitar builder and musician Christian Beshore, who comes to Michigan on a fairly regular to play solo gigs and to collaborate with Beavers in a band known as the Girls From Hateville, has been a friend of Beavers for several years now. He's had his fair share of wondering “what the hell did I get myself into” moments with him as well.
    “Tested my patience?” he repeats back to me when I ask him the question.
    “Every moment I am around him, or even on the phone with him. The craziest time I ever had with Dale I
won't repeat for you to print.”
     Well, how about one I can print then?
     “The first time he ever really tested me was when we were playing the Detroit Chopper Show and we were out drinking. He insisted we find some bar. We drove around for about an hour in one block, circling the bar...when we left it took the gps on my phone to get us home.”
    The thing is though is no matter how much Beavers does to drive people on the brink of pulling their hair out and leaving him stranded somewhere is his honest to goodness southern “charm." The guy knows how to make an impression. Beshore remembers the first time he met him.
    “He was eating a hoagie, sitting in a La-Z-Boy and watching some cable TV crap. my impression was that he was not that cool. That changed about a minute later when that crazy fool opened his mouth. His “Hey, y'all” voice could not be doubted.”
   Being inspired and crazy comes with a price and Beaver's bill came due in 2010 when his wife filed for divorce. Having two young children he knew he just couldn't pull up roots.
    “New Orleans, Memphis, Detroit, New York. They were cool but I grew up in a small town in Arkansas. My dad did outboard motor mechanics and we were complete river rats y'know. Telephoning catfish, Illegal deer hunting...from boats! You name it. The thought of wanting to live on a small town on the water would always come back to me. Y'know, being a carpenter and having fishing boat type of trip, right?”
    After several gigs over a period of few month in Port Huron, the thought of it being that kind of town kept gnawing at his thoughts. “I wanted to get out of Detroit. I just wanted to get away from all that shit. I took to this place.”
    At first the small but insular underground music in Port Huron took him as a curiosity. Here was this hillbilly who had toured the world and played with some of the most revered unsung legends of Rock-n-Roll and the Blues and for some reason wanted to live in small town away isolated from any big music scene. There wasn't much to offer outside of a house party here and a dive bar gig there and it's not exactly the highest focus of places-especially for someone who had been awarded best Blues Artist in Detroit as he was voted in “Real Detroit” magazine in 2009.
    I mean, here's 6 and a half foot cat that talks like boisterous Foghorn Leghorn standing on a stage with a well used vintage hollow body guitar, playing through a Fender tube amp that looks like it seen many a day in the back of a pick up truck in sweltering and sweating in the southern sun, wailing though a mic akin to the ones guys like Elvis sang through back in the 50's with his rhythm accompaniment  being his right foot coming down and a homemade wooden stompin' box. He's out playing blues festivals and what not all over the country. What would motivate him to move in a podunk like Port Huron, Michigan?
    Maybe they weren't suspicious of him as they were perplexed perhaps.
    As time went on and people got to know him better he became accepted as one of the town's newly adopted sons. As Benny Browsowski, singer of Blue Water Area based greaser punk band Smackmadam put it, “Dale doesn't really fit in the local scene which is a good part of his appeal. Instead of suburban white boys forcing themselves to play music they like but don't feel-he's an instant elder statesman of the blues. Playing music he feels.”
    When talking about their differences in drink of choice, Benny says, “Dale's preference for bourbon over moonshine shows he's more of a gentlemen than a roughneck. It by no means implies he’s not willing to get down and dirty.”
    In the summer of 2010, Beavers signed a lease for a place and now his ID carries a 48060 zipcode. “This is my home now. Ya'll is cool people. You needed some trouble. I'm finding it for you.”