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.”

Oct 3, 2012

Wednesday Photo by Dale: People's Temple and the Eroders at the Roche in Port Huron 9/29/12

     Lansing, Michigan's People's Temple were at the end of their US tour. It was suppose to end in Chicago but I had been wanted the band consisting of two set of brothers to come to rock the city I live in, Port Huron, Michigan, for a couple years now. Every time we thought we had a night would work something on either my end or there's always ended putting the kibosh on it. Finally the stars aligned and, DAMN, what a doozy of a show. Being on the road playing every night for a few makes meant the band were tight as all get out. They played for they're sometimes punky, occasionally folky, usually garage psychedelic garage rock-n-roll sounds around an hour and a half and played every song in their canon (and then some...the crowd made them play "Louie, Louie". They said they didn't really know how to play it but we didn't care.)





     Opening the show were the Eroders, featuring Josh and Blake of the excellent modish/punkish band Instant Party, out of Detroit. Playing quick blasts of teenage thrash and caveboy trash inflected punk rock they got the evening off on the right foot.




Find out more about People's Temple here. Check out more info on the Eroders at this spot.     

Sep 12, 2012

CRAZY SPIRIT s/t LP

     With the phrase "Hardcore" being used to on reality based TV show all over cable to describing Hip-Hop artists who are hawking a clothing line available at K-Mart people sometimes forget it was used to describe the nastier side of skin flicks and the most pissed off forms of American punk rock.
     This is probably for the best.
     Porn many times more extreme can be found with a click or two of a mouse. Hardcore punk, which was once the sound of bored and disenchanted kids screaming in defiance of all the bullshit around them, somewhere took a hard turn and became a bunch of shaved headed goatee sporting fat ass tough guys armed with palm mutes and a Dimebag Darrell instruction video. Recklessness replaced with uniform syncopation like a bunch of humorless asshole gym class leaders if they formed a band in the locker room.
     Hailing from New York City Crazy Spirit play HARDCORE (but not NYHC as that all seem to have degenerated into the meathead music I was bitching about above) the way it should sound.
     The singer gurgles, grunts and brays like he eats fiberglass insulation for lunch then wraps a bare electrical chord around his neck while spewing almost unintelligible words.  The guitars splatter feedback and going off the rails power chords blur the lines between simple blind drunk rage and absolute criminally insane behavior. Mucho distorted bass rumbles as if it's an avalanche of mud and bowling balls barreling down a mountain while the drummer sounds like he was kicked out of a martial marching band for worshiping the altar of Animal from the Muppets. Whether it's taking your basic Germs thrash (which seems to be the jumping off point most of this band leaps off) on tunes like "Little Boots" and "I'm Dead" or sounding like hicks gone hardcore channeling murder blues made by serial killers on tracks like "Troll" and "I Become A Man"-Crazy Spirit are reclaiming the noise back for the misfits, malcontents and rejects.
TOXICSTATERECORDS@GMAIL.COM  

Sep 11, 2012

A Smashin' Transistors "classic interview" with People's Temple





     What to do when you're two sets of brothers living in a two traffic light town located in the middle of Michigan to stave off boredom? Well, in some cases they would most likely torture small animals, shoot at road signs, knock some girl from their church their made to go to up and develop a meth habit. In the People's Temple case though-they went a completely different route by digging in to their parents record collection then digging deeper and forming a rock-n-roll band.
    One part the Byrds Fifth Dimension, one part Spacemen 3's The Perfect Prescription and lots of other parts consisting of the Rolling Stones, The 13th Floor Elevators and even some 80's UK raincoat rock to name a just a few the band, after recording a handful of 7inch EP's on several different labels, released their debut album Sons Of Stone on the Hozac label this spring. Guitar player/singer Alex gives Smashin' Transistors a little bit of the lowdown. (

-Interview with by Dale (Editors note: This interview originally appeared at the old Smashin' Transistors site in early 2011)

Favorite ever member of the Rolling Stones?

Alex : Keith Richards

Yeah, that's always a given it seems. What about Mick Taylor though?

A: Mick was cool. That's about it. He never really did anything to put himself in the spot light. He's truly second underrated Rolling Stone following Brian Jones.

Name your moment with the Stones, and this coming from a huge Stones fan, where you thought "Man, this is some superlame shit".

A: Honestly I really haven't had a moment like that with the Stones. They are the greatest rock & roll group ever.

C'mon! Not even Dirty Work or Mick Jagger's solo albums?

A: Well, some of the solo Mick Jagger stuff is gay.

Are there any track you skip over on Exile On Mainstreet?
  
A: No that is one of my favorites along with Aftermath.

Not even "I Just Want To See His Face" ?

A: Well, yes. I have at least once.

What's it like being in a band of siblings? Are there a lot of fighting like brothers?

A: It has its positives and negatives, yes lots of fistfights, screaming, arguing and so on, BUT there is a psychic dynamic that we have when we play.

What's the biggest blowup you've guys have had while playing in front of a group of people?

A: On time early on. It was like are 3rd or 4th show and we were playing terrible. I think we stopped midset and knocked a bunch of shit over and started yelling at each other. After a few minutes we continued and finished the rest of are set. Then we knocked a bunch of ceiling tiles out on are last song too.

If Lou Reed and Wayne Kramer got in a fist fight who do you think would win?

A: Ha !! Thats easy Detroit always wins in brawls so Wayne Kramer.

Lou's till got some hair though. Wayne had cool hair one time though. How important is cool hair for rock-n-rolling?

A: Lou's hair is defiantly cooler. Its cool if you have nice hair. If not that sucks.

Listening to what band makes you feel like you're on drugs even though you are not?

A: Spaceman 3

When I say cheese what do you think of?

A: Richard

What song do you thing Richard Cheese would do the People's Temple justice?

A: Jim Jones

Is it safe to assume that you guys chose the band name of the teachings of the Reverend Jim Jones then? Or is it in tribute to Jay Reatard's old digs in Memphis?

A: Its a throwback for Brian Jonestown Massacre, so I guess more Jim Jones.

Speaking of the Brian Jonestown Massacre what kind of notes did you take from the movie DIG?

A:We took a lot of things. Their guitars and amps were the main thing.

What other rock docs have you found inspirational?

A:The Stones doc. about the Altamont Speedway gig .

Growing up in a county where the largest population is the town of Owosso with 15,000 or so did you ever think going there was a trip to "the big city"?

A: No, Lansing was always the big city. But funny you ask that-we actually played are first show in a battle of the bands in Owosso and it sucked!

What sucked about it?

A: Owosso is a shithole of a town and filled with hard-corers and Screamo wannabees. We played with like 6 other hardcore/screamo fags and they all hated us.

It's like that over in my part of the state too. How did you guys end up playing the type of music you do?

A: My parents grew up in the 70's so he listened to the Stones, Kinks, and others. I just dug deeper into the 60's cause that's what interested me and the sound appealed to me more so then new music when I was growing up.

Speaking of your area-Shiwasee county and all that-what's your take on Durand, Michigan? Does everyone there quote Rush Limbaugh on a regular basis or does it just seem like that?

A: HA ! Durand is even shittier than Owosso. I had a girlfriend once who had relatives that lived in Durand and they were all a bunch of weirdo conservatives.

Living out in the sticks where was the place you went to party that the "cops don't know about" even though most likely the cops partied there decades before?

A: Never had a spot like that. Were not that far in the sticks, man. Lansing is like 15-20 min. away and i always had friends who lived in Lansing and on campus. I work at a restaurant in East Lansing, so I started partying with MSU students when I was like 17. It was awesome ! Just imagine the scene from Animal House when they throw the toga party and that what you get in Lansing, especially when you party on campus!

Did you ever try to lift cassingles from the mall "record store" when you were young?

A: Nope. I think cassingles were a bit before my time. I did get caught shoplifting in the mall once though?

What went down?

A: It was during my adolescent juvenile skater days and I was Lifting a shirt or something at this Sporting good store and the manager turned the corner, not just a employee but the manager of the whole store, and basically scared the shit out of me and my friends and let us go.

What topping should NEVER go on pizza.

A: Anchovies

What's the most messed up thing that has happened to you involving fire?

A: Man ...I almost burnt my house down. I have lit myself on fire before. I have almost burnt my car to the ground the list goes on!

What effects pedals would the People's Temple endorse?

A: Any Wah pedal, the Ibenaz Tube Screamer or any of the Boss pedals.

What type of cash would they have to dole out to you to get your endorsement?

A: We would take any money, man.

Now that you have released one of the most bad ass album of 2011-Which one of you is now to most likely do a solo album of Yoko Ono covers and what special guest musicians would they want to play on it.

A: It would be George and he would sing and play all the instruments himself.

Who in the band is most likely to pull a Brian Wilson?

A: William

Who do you have on your wish list for a producer of one of your future records?

A: Anton Newcombe

When it comes to playing rock-n-roll which ranks higher in it's fringe benefits-The chicks or the free party favors?

A: As of right now I wish I could say the chicks, but party favors for sure!

Find out more about People's Temple here.

People's Temple will be playing the Roche Bar in Port Huron on September 29th. Go here for more info.