Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Hey Austin! December 29th Room 710 BE thERE.

Greg Beets debuts his newest sensation, the Ron Titter Band, which from the sound of it takes Greg's songwriting from the adolescent venting of his past project, the Peenbeets, directly to the misguided torments of a "single for the third time" grown man. This is fitting. SeƱor Beets' lyrical gig bag is an excellent resource for the frustrated male, barren of romantic balladry. Although his work with Summer Breeze proves that he is fully capable in this arena (oh and once in his teens he took an early pathetic break-up song written by Yours Truly and turned it into something presentable, not quite as good as his own Big Boy's Christian Army but I handicapped him). Anyway, not one to croon a lover's tune, Greg (also of Noodle, Cheezus and formerly with the ingopods) smartly skips over the happy loving couple years (i.e. boring) right to what he does best. This time around, Greg is accompanied by Stinky Del Negro mastermind, Stinky Del Negro (aka David Wyatt, also of Solid Gold 40). I am titterlated.

I'm bussing some musicians down from Chicago for a meet and greet. Can I get an amen! The boys in the van are revved up to hang with bona fide Texans. I hope some will present themselves at the show.

For a grand finale you can't beat Attic Ted, San Marcos' only septuagenarian bohemian circus musicians. They will be fresh off tour so stinky and hot. Just how I like it.


Hey Houston! Keep that Date Open: NYE 2005.

A little early warning never hurt anyone (although it doesn't always help e.g. H-Katrina), particularly when it's regarding a great show friendship community and all that piffle. New Year's Eve at Rudz will be all about that my friends so reserve the date and come out early.

Natural disasters aside, the biggest event of 2005 for Houston and Chicago's southside was the World Series. I'm bound for H-town with a bunch of toddlin' southsiders this December to ask War's eternal question, "why can't we be friends?" I promise you we can.

Then Texas Guinness Lovers reunites and remind you it's better to be a drunk lover than a bar fighting man. We'll have some extra horns courtesy of churchbus and Infernal Bridegroom Productions. I can't wait. TGL hasn't played in five years! We'll have a couple of few practices under our belts and smell fresh as daisies, I promise you that my chums. Let's shine a little gospel light on our rendition of Rank Stranger this year with the addition of Erin Edmister on the churchbus organ.

All of this will be followed by the very best in Houston Rock: J.W. Americana. Holy Crap. I'd be at Rudyard's for JWA alone come NYE 2005.


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Two Schubas Plugs in a row

I wouldn't blame you for thinking I'm on the Schubas payroll but sadly no. I can hardly get a gig there. Anyway another great show tonight at Schubas, Chicago's legendary Bobby Conn.

Part punk part activist all glam, Bobby Conn does something few others dare to (or could possibly have thought to). It's all good. Tonight he'll play a solo set at 8 PM then later a set with his full band. ZZZZ and Bang! Bang! open. That's a lot for a Tuesday night but it's only 8 bucks cheap so you won't be flat broke when you lose your job in the morning.

If you need to kill a few minutes at work go to the news section Bobby's site and watch the "Never Get Ahead" Video.

*Photo from Magnet Magazine - check out their Bobby Conn Interview in the archives.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

the M's begin a Monday Night Residency at Schubas

The M's have gone from being the nicest guys in Chicago music to the nicest pop stars in Chicago seemingly overnight. Their success looks deceivingly easy. Anyone who has been around them for the past four years will tell you, they have worked for it; practicing and recording tirelessly for a good chunk of that time in a musty Ukranian Village basement. Hard work pays off and the M's prove it. Tomorrow, they embark on a three week Monday Night residency at Schubas Tavern.

A Monday night gig might not seem like much, but in this case it is an honor. It is one of many great residencies at this Lake View tavern in a series they call "Practice Space."The residency idea is a good one and it should be picked up in other cities. The artists get a chance to stretch their creativity as well as a chance to select their own opening acts, lending other musicians a little hand-me-down limelight. For the M's this is familiar territory since they've been practicing over at Schubas anyway.

This week the M's share the stage with Baby Teeth who really don't need any hand-me-downs but it's a rare chance to see two great acts for cheap (only 6 bucks). Next week catch the M's with Stag Party featuring THE LATEST drummer Bill "Cococoma" Roe. Bill plays bass with SP.

Monday, November 21, 2005

An Evening with Thax Douglas

You don't have to be in town long to discover Chicago's rock & roll Poet Laureate. Thax Douglas makes the rounds from venue to venue on a daily basis, spontaneously writing poems and reciting them as introductory prose for local bands. The poems usually have titles like insert band name #1 (the number depending on how many introductions Thax has previously made for that band). They don't necessarily have anything to do with the respective band either...that is unless Chicago rockers are hiding their metaphysical natures from me. Ask Thax for a copy of your poem and he'll give you a hand-written facsimile. Pick up a local band's 7", particularly a live recording, and you are likely to have acquired a Thax Douglas oration free of charge. Sttep in to a local bookstore or record shop, you'll find Thax Douglas publications in text and audio formats.

If you're picturing Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Richard Hell or Henry Rollins you are off mark. Thax doesn't look, behave or write like a rock poet. Unless you pictured Allen Ginsberg, you probably have a mental image that is anti-Thax. That's a good thing because the world doesn't need another leather bound ryhmer.

Thax began his rock poetry career in 1997 at the very un-rocknroll age of 40 and according to his MySpace bio, he'll "probably keep doing this for some time." Recently he resurrected his showcase series at the Beatkitchen. This Sunday, November 27th, churchbus will receive their first Thax Douglas poetic blessing along with (fittingly) a Christian rock band the Skull, Genital Hercules and Swimmer Missing.

Since I will be recording the show, that will be four new Thax Douglas poems recorded for posterity and likely appearing on a 7"/website/MySpace page near you.

While he doesn't get the front page attention of his contemporary (attention he most certainly doesn't want), Thax has already left his mark in the fine lineage of Chicago poetry. Carl Sandburg and Gwendolyn Brooks look out.

Check out some Thax Douglas poems, posted on Guided By Voices website.

*image from Stranger Than Films

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Club Footin' it

Rumor has it...okay I got it from Norah's weekly email...that Norah (Headache City,SS Records) and Bill Roe (THE LATEST, Cococoma, Stag Party) will be dj'ing tonight up at Club Foot.

Having spent 14 hours in the band van last week with Bill Roe's iPod in random mode, I am something of an authority on his musical tastes. If you like American Garage Rock, early R&B with a dash of Soul, you're in for a treat. I drove through two tanks of gas; Bill's mix (plus a cup of coffee and a couple of Krispy Kremes) kept me going.

See Bill's vivacious husband/wife act, plus Mikey, this Saturday afternoon at the Bottle.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Riding the New York Night Train

If you were a thirty-something mensch in a lengthy romance with American rock, a world-traveling musician with a talk show host's knack for conversation, the son of a Russian Studies teacher, and a pop-culture Zelig of sorts what might you find yourself doing in the early part of the Twenty-First Century?

Hosting a music webzine with in-depth features re: the Legends of American Music is one option. But then mensch that you would be, the world would be your oyster. So it is with great appreciation that I inform you that one good guy, Mr. Jonathan Toubin, has put all his coals in a single engine to brings us New York Night Train.

Toubin's articles, reviews and "oral histories" require the sort of focus you might not be used to hobo-ing about on the internets. If the first issue is any indication of what's to come (and I hope it is engine enough to haul a long and bountiful load) you won't get off this train easily. How does a six part two hour monologue by the legendary Kid Congo Powers (the Cramps, the Gun Club) grab you? Thought you knew everything about the early L.A. punk scene, Nick Cave, Reaganomics - think again.

Despite Toubin's expansive by-line (found only on the Mission page), NYNT is a self-effacing effort. This is very much in keeping with Jonathan's style. JT has found himself the sideman for a number of projects (Grand Mal, the Hammiks, de Schmog, and currently Cause for Applause) but he rarely makes it to the promo photos. Back in the day JT could get just about anybody to join his quirky bands (Tony Nozero/Drums and Tuba, Lymon Hardy/Pong-Ed Hall). If JT had a passion for somebody, it was relentless. When he was in a long distance relationship with Diane Koistinin (de Schmog/New Town Drunks), he had her face printed on a pillow sheet. For a guy dedicated to American Rock 'n Roll in all it's vulgar brashness, JT remains a sweet caring person.

That's why I think NYNT is going to be a smooth ride. JT is the right conductor for the job.

I first met JT when he was sixteen years old. I had just joined my first band, the ingopods, with our mutual friend Noah Sternthal, and later Greg Beets. JT had decided to be our manager. Back then JT sported oh-so-pinch-able baby cheeks, black suits and a bollo. His voice was "when it's time to change, you have to rearrange" era Peter Brady. The rest of us, being so much more mature, thought he was a riot. But we also respected him and considered him a brave soul. Hell, he got us some gigs. Like most first bands, the ingopod tunes should probably remain in somebody's school locker. What fortunately lives on is a shared passion for music and American culture and, for me, pride in seeing these folks venture from our shared Houston suburban roots, climb on those night trains, and fearlessly ride into the dawn. Long live New York Night Train.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

THE LATEST Tour Report

THE LATEST is back in the Windy City safe and sound after a six day tour to the East Coast. Here are some highs and lows...

1. Just outside of NYC, we learned of the death of Mana "China" Nishiura. She was killed in a van wreck between Baltimore and Brooklyn while her band DMBQ was on tour. This affected us in many ways; primarily for the terrible loss of a creative spirit, also because we ourselves were simultaneously spinning through the area in a band van, and because her band was staying with our friends Shellshag with whom we had a gig scheduled for Sunday night and with whom we planned to visit during our stay in NYC. Needless to say the Shellshag crew were preoccupied and could not play the show on Sunday. We didn't get to see those guys but they all were in our minds the rest of the journey. China we miss you.

It's tough to write on after that awful news but we must, mustn't we?

2. Moe's Bar in beautiful downtown Cleveland, OH was a good place to be. Frankly we weren't expecting much out of Cleveland. We didn't know anybody there and we had a tough time booking a gig. It was also a Wednesday night. Yet the good folks at Moe's, the ex-Houstonian bartender (cute!) and "Moe Jr." the current proprietor (more handsome than the Moe's proprietor of TV fame), went out of their way to make us feel welcome. The crowd was a good handful more than we expected. Moe's is a very small bar, recently re-opened with a new ambition to be a hip destination for live music. It doesn't have much of a PA and even less of a stage but what it lacks in amenities it makes up for in spirit. The folks at My Minds Eye Record Shop were also very accommodating: Thanks Charles! Thanks Steve!

3. Our Boston hosts, Ross and Emir, had homemade macaroni and cheese ready for us our second night on the road. That's good stuff. If you ever have the opportunity, take it. THE LATEST gives a BIG shout out to Ross, Emir, Roy and Athena for their gracious Boston hospitality, good food and tunes. DJ Athena spun tunes between bands at the Midway Cafe. Her mixes were recorded and made for great listening for the ride home. We played with the local band Keys to the Streets of Fear who played bluesy avant garde punk rock set up in front of the stage below the lights, pretty good stuff.

4. Blackies is the place to go for dogs and burgers in the Cheshire, CT area. This is Mikey and Ross' old haunting grounds. I highly recommend a visit to Blackies. They make their own pepper relish - that and spicey mustard are the only hot dog condiments readily available and that's all you'll need at Blackies. Mike's mom and dad showed up. Momma Fitzpatrick brought her homemade pepper relish which held up very well to Blackies. I had two dogs one with Blackies relish and one with Momma Fitzpatrick's. Heaven.

5. Saturday night we were uptown at the Ding Dong Lounge. I was a little concerned that we were a bit too far uptown at 105 street but the Ding Dong is just around the corner from Columbia so the students were out. It's a cool little bar to boot. Turned out to be the best turn out of the t-t-t-tour. I was proudly surprised to see a Houston flyer in the bathroom - an old punk rock Xeroxed thing for the Butthole Surfers at Numbers. That took me back. Got to see some family and good friends. Turpentine Brothers followed with a solid garage punk set. Nice guys and a gal - I hope they make it to Chicago soon.

6. THE LATEST spent the day in New York City baby and a considerable amount of time at the Legendary WFMU Record Fair. We could have spent the entire day there and all of our money (the latter being the reason we did not do the former). This is a great event and well worth the price of admission. I picked up a Fred Frith gem, a W.C. Fields album and some Chicago blues.

7. We got a pick on Mr. J Toubin's new New York Night Train Webzine. This is gonna be a great zine and you should get in on the ground floor while you can still say you knew it when. But more on that in the next post.

8. In Boundbrook, NJ at our last show of the tour, I finally got a decent live recording of THE LATEST and that was the best thing to come out of that show. We played at a sports bar on a Sunday night to the members of the other bands. At least they didn't suck: No Pasar from Jersey City and Northern Liberties (lead singer had some DaDa moments) out of Philadelphia.

Thanks to everyone who put us up and came out to see THE LATEST. BIG BIG Thanks to L Robertson who didn't know what she was getting into but her southern graciousness shown threw nonetheless!