When KISS rocked Cadillac, Michigan

Every single thing about this article from FOTO magazine is amazing: “When KISS Rocked Cadillac – KISS was on the cusp of superstardom when a small, conservative town in northern Michigan invited the band to visit. The rest is rock history.”

It sounds like a Hollywood screenwriter’s fantasy: a small-town high-school football team turns around a losing season, inspired by the music of wildly theatrical rock and rollers from New York. The team contacts the group with an unlikely ask: Would they consider visiting, so the town can say thanks? The band, on the cusp of superstardom, agrees — resulting in one of the most improbable, wholesome, heartwarming stories in rock history. But this was no movie: the year was 1975; the town was Cadillac, Michigan; and the band was KISS. Here, after unearthing never-seen photos from the event, FOTO celebrates an unrepeatable pop-culture moment, and speaks with a man who helped make it happen.

Cadillac is a small town (population: 10,000) in the middle of rural northern Michigan. As a kid we would drive through it on our way “up north” to nicer places like Petoskey or Mackinac island. The expressway ended right before you got to Cadillac so we’d often stop at the Dairy Queen or the Big Boy. We’d gawk at the sign for a place called Stopless Topless. But in 2001 MDOT extended the expressway all the way up to Manton and since then there hasn’t been any reason to stop in Cadillac.

But back in 1974 Cadillac High’s assistant football coach played the team KISS music in the locker room to inspire the team. They went on to have a winning season and the coach wrote to KISS to thank them. So the next year when KISS was on their Alive! Tour they were invited to participate in the homecoming parade and receive the key to the city.

This isn’t a new story. And there was a lot of local press around it in 2015 for the 40th anniversary. But FOTO has found a trove of previously unpublished photos taken by Irish music journalist Fin Costello, and they’re unbelievably awesome. See for yourself.

And then check out some of the previous coverage and photos, because it’s all great.

“When KISS Visited Cadillac High School in 1975” by Lou Blouin (Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine, October 2015).

“Gene Simmons on 1975 Cadillac High School concert and parade: ‘It was almost as if we landed on Planet KISS'” by John Gonzalez (MLive, September 29, 2015) with an equally great gallery of 23 photos that were given to Coach Neff by KISS in 1975 with permission to use with no restrictions.

“Cadillac’s connection with Kiss endures 40 years later” by John Hogan (Detroit Free Press, October 8, 2015).

“KISS does a high school Homecoming” by Danny Arruda (ESPN, March 1, 2010) with a bunch of great photos, including some in color.

Jim Neff’s Cadillac KISStory

Cadillac KISStory Tour!

And check out a great video, below, featuring archival footage from 1975 as well as some interviews from 2010 with Gene, Paul, the coach, a couple football players, and the head cheerleader, who has a story that shouldn’t surprise anybody.

Continue reading When KISS rocked Cadillac, Michigan

50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 14

Rolling Stone issue #14 had a cover date of July 20, 1968. 24 pages. 35 cents. Cover photo of Frank Zappa by Barry Wolman.

Features: The Rolling Stone Interview with Frank Zappa by Jerry Hopkins; “Dionne Warwick Makes New Plans: Movie and a Gospel Album” by Sue C. Clark; “A Friendly Tribute for Ramblin’ [Jack Elliott] Charles Adnopoz” by Barry Gifford; “Rock Musicals: The Hippies Are from Time Magazine” by Tom Phillips; Richie Havens by Steve Glazier.

News: Apple on Capitol; Stones Studio Fire; Jazz Guitarist Wes Montgomery Dies; Beatles To Do Three LP-Set?; Clapton Acquitted on Dope Charges; Stones Do Film with Goddard; Beatle George Visits Los Angeles.

Columns: Jon Landau on what’s wrong with Rock “Art” (“Most rock and roll musicians are banal, amateurish and insipidly stupid when they try to express their philosophy of life in the context of popular music.”); Perspectives by Ralph J. Gleason (“San Francisco and the Stars”); the John J. Rock column was guest-written by Arthur Hoppe (“Sir Walter Raleigh’s Historic Mistake”).

Continue reading 50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 14

New Bonnie Prince Billy video: Blueberry Jam

Video: Will Oldham – “Blueberry Jam”

Will Oldham "Blueberry Jam" (Official Music Video)

Directed by Tim Morton. Single digitally out now on Drag City.

We rarely–like…never–just copy and paste shit from a press release. I mean, what would the point be? A press release is background info; just something to start the story and maybe provide a quote. But this passage we just got from Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s camp is just too good to not share:

Bonny Billy and Lady Billy were living on the rim of the active volcano Kilauea (way back in January, when Halema’uma’u was still a lava lake). They woke one morning to the news that a ballistic missile attack was underway, coupled with the advisory that they should “take immediate shelter” (?!). Thirty minutes later, the warning was rescinded, but not before some serious synapse paths were re-mapped. What could they do with such a soul-jostling? Fortunately, they had friends. Friends who had supplied them with THC-laced chocolate covered blueberries. Bonny sat down and scribbled out a paean to these blueberries, to all blueberries, then closed his notebook and that was that. A couple of weeks later, a call came from Chris Garcia, of the legal weed boutique Hi Fidelity in Berkeley. He wanted to open his shop in style, and thought that maybe a collab with the ‘Prince’ would help. Bonny re-opened the notebook and cranked out a jammer, a fruit-filled jammer to end all fruit-filled endeavors. He brought the song to Nashville where, under the guidance of dear friend and colleague David “Fergie” Ferguson, the song was brought to mouth-watering life. Also on hand to make dreams into reality were guitarist Matt Sweeney and drummer Pete Townsend. Back in Kentucky, Tim Morton conceived and executed the video clip that makes us, all of us, smile.

It would be easy to laugh this off as a gag…a lark. That’s what happens with absurdism. But just as Tina Fey told us to eat more sheet cake, there’s a logic and a purpose in acknowledging that we’re living in madness…with madness. Also, blueberries fucking rule.

Bonnie Prince Billy: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Kacey Musgraves video: High Horse

Video: Kacey Musgraves – “High Horse”

Kacey Musgraves – High Horse (Official Music Video)

From Golden Hour, out now on MCA Nashville.

Where country meets disco. It’s not the first time, of course, but it’s been a while. And the song is super catchy and fun.

The video, on the other hand, is an anachronistic mess. Are the office scenes supposed to be set in the disco era? If so, the hair and makeup is all wrong. If you’re going to pay attention to the details (like having the clock on the wall be set to 4:20, ha ha) then you need to get the haircuts correct.

Is the karaoke dream sequence supposed to be set in the future? America’s first karaoke bar didn’t open until 1982 and karaoke wasn’t big here until the 90s.

But maybe I’m just being uptight. There’s an image of a bearded Trump-like figure on the tv after all. So who knows?

‘Cause everyone knows someone who kills the buzz
Every time they open up their mouth

I don’t want to be a buzzkill.

Kacey Musgraves: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Kacey Musgraves video: High Horse

New Escape-ism video: Nothing Personal

Video: Escape-ism – “Nothing Personal”

Escape-ism – Nothing Personal (Official Music Video)

Directed by Alexandra Cabral. From The Lost Record, out September 7 on Merge.

Ian Svenonius is prolific. It was only November when he introduced the world to his new project, Escape-ism. And now there’s a second album coming due in September. “Nothing Personal” continues with Introduction‘s minimalist soul.

The video features Svenonius scowling and snarling and flanked by Los Angeles artist Ariana Papademetropoulos and Black Lips saxophonist Zumi Rosow.

Only ten months after he provided us with an Introduction to Escape-ism, mythic rock ’n’ roll provocateur / theorist / revolutionary Ian Svenonius is back as Escape-ism with The Lost Record, a classic destined to bewitch the minds, hearts, and dancing shoes of any rock ’n’ roll fan who happens to discover it, for as long as such creatures exist. Without the high-octane hype machine of the mind-control minstrels who hypnotize the hapless through the mass media, The Lost Record is bound for inevitable obscurity, but—with its timeless tunes, poignant message, and innovative sound—rediscovery and immortal status is equally assured! The Lost Record, being what it is, has enormous selling potential. Music enthusiasts will be thrilled to be the ones clever and kind enough to have rescued this platter from oblivion.

Recorded in four different studios—Gaucho in Los Angeles, Flat Black in Iowa, Tonal Park in Takoma Park, MD, and at Club Blasé in DC—the record is the culmination of humanity’s attempt at something poignant, perverse, and poetically imperfect.

Escape-ism: bandcamp, fb, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New T-Rextasy video: Girl, Friend

Video: T-Rextasy – “Girl, Friend”

T-Rextasy – Girl, Friend (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

Single out now on Danger Collective.

When I was in college we brought a kids pool to campus. We named it Tony and filled it up on the quad next to the chapel. Shortly after we got it all set up, somebody was having a wedding and asked us to move our pool. I was outraged and indignant at the time, but now I can see that it was a fairly reasonable request. You don’t want a bunch of obnoxious, half-naked lunatics photo-bombing all your wedding pics.

T-Rextasy has a kids pool in their new video. They named theirs the “T-Rextasy Pool-O’-Luv” which is a pretty good name too.

Why don’t you come over and we’ll hang out?
Oh just give me a time and place
Be my friend, girl
Be my girlfriend
I don’t know how I want this to end

I like the call and response vocals and the crunchy guitars. “Fun rock,” indeed.

T-Rextasy: bandcamp, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Jon Spencer video: Do The Trash Can

Video: Jon Spencer – “Do The Trash Can”

Jon Spencer – Do The Trash Can

From Spencer Sings the Hits due this fall on Shove Records/In the Red.

Jon Spencer recorded his first solo album at the Key Club in Benton Harbor, Michigan with Sam Coomes from Quasi and drummer Mike Sord from Kalamazoo.

Spencer told Rolling Stone, “Sam is someone with whom I have crossed paths many times over the years, I have always been a fan of his wild keyboard style and twisted tunesmith-ery. In fact we kicked around the idea of a collaboration way back in the early Aughts. I got to know Sord from many projects done at the Key Club (Andre Williams, JSBX, & Boss Hog), he was the handyman and assistant engineer that turned out to be a great drummer.”

“Do The Trash Can” has everything you’d want in a Jon Spencer song: snarled vocals, caveman drums, Stoogey guitar riffs, and incitement to get down and dance. You can also hear them banging on old car parts.

“Nothing like digging the gas tank from an old Chevy out of a Michigan junkyard snow bank in January. Junkyard owner kept asking me if the metal was for a school project, but as a bluegrass player he could understand the possible use for a recording session.”

Jon Spencer: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Jon Spencer video: Do The Trash Can

New Claire Morales video: “No Telling”

Video: Claire Morales – “No Telling”

Claire Morales – No Telling (Official Video)

From All That Wanting, her independently released album out now.

Classic rock guitar tones and reverbed hand claps combined with smart lyrics delivered in a conversational deadpan and I’m sold! What more could you ask for?

“No Telling” is a song about crush feelings. A crush never realized. Hands are the real stars in this video. Costars include sugar, confetti, dancing band members, the colors of summer, and the phone you’re no doubt yoked to right this moment, waiting for their call. If you’ve ever sat next to your crush, alive with anticipation about all that could be, heart racing, palms perspiring, lips absolutely incapable of speech, this one’s for you babe.

Claire Morales is an independent songwriter from Texas who’s been performing since she was 13. All That Wanting is her second independently released full-length, but she’s recorded other stuff with friends, including a cool series of cover songs originally performed by Leonard Cohen, Nancy Sinatra, Patsy Cline, and the Everly Bros.

Claire Morales: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Claire Morales video: “No Telling”

New Welles video: Hold Me Like I’m Leaving

Video: Welles – “Hold Me Like I’m Leaving”

Welles – Hold Me Like Im Leaving [Official Video]

Directed by Mafalda Millies. From Red Trees and White Trashes, out now on 300 Entertainment.

Jesse Allen Wells calls his band Welles. He used to call himself Jeh Sea. So spelling is a loose concept for him. As is originality.

Wells told Billboard that, “I had this Beatles ditty in my head from The White Album, ‘Cry Baby Cry,’ that’s been stuck in my head all these years. So I just wrote (‘Hold Me Like I’m Leaving’) from that, added a melody, chorus and pre-chorus and wrote the song.”

The song that was stuck in his head was clearly Paul McCartney’s hidden track “Can You Take Me Back,” tagged on to the end of John Lennon’s “Cry Baby Cry.” And Wells totally re-purposes its melody for his verses. Nevertheless, he retains 100% of the songwriting credit. Talent borrows, genius steals, right?

Despite the outright theft, or maybe because of it, this is a jam.

“I’m not trying to bring rock and roll back or anything like that. This is just how I talk. This is my musical language, and if you want to have a conversation with me you’re gonna have to listen to some rock and roll, I reckon.”

Can you dig it?

Welles: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Welles video: Hold Me Like I’m Leaving

New Mitski video: Nobody

Video: Mitski – “Nobody”

Mitski – Nobody (Official Video)

Directed by Christopher Good. From Be The Cowboy, out August 17 on Dead Oceans.

I really loved Mitski’s song “Your Best American Girl” with its epic rock and roll crescendo and its sad lyrics (“You’re an all-American boy / I guess I couldn’t help trying to be your best American girl”). I love the video, too, and its message that if you can’t be with the one you love then the next best thing is to bang the shit out of your guitar.

In “Nobody” she trades her Les Paul for a disco Strat, but she’s still lonely.

And I don’t want your pity
I just want somebody near me
Guess I’m a coward
I just want to feel alright

This video is cool. It reminds me of some of the artwork of Yoko Ono, especially the bit with the magnifying glass and the tiny writing. In Yoko’s piece, the message was affirmative.

That’s the piece that made John Lennon fall in love with Yoko. He later admitted, “It’s a great relief when you get up the ladder and you look through the spyglass and it doesn’t say ‘no’ or ‘fuck you’ or something. It said ‘yes’.”

But in Mitski’s video, the message is: “Nobody nobody nobody nobody nobody nobody nobody.” Which, of course, is way darker.

Mitski: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Mitski video: Nobody

Rock and roll can change your life.