Category Archives: Shorties

The Day After

From the National Affairs Desk:

It’s the day after and where are the good people? We should be cleaning up balloons and confetti and gobbling Excedrin like candies to relieve jubilant hangovers, but we’re waiting. We’re waiting to see if predominantly black voters can save us from the hypocrisy and greed of predominantly white voters. More pointedly, white male voters. It turns out that America is still sick from its original sin and I am not sure if there even is a cure.

Despite what is looking more and more like a win for Biden-Harris, It shouldn’t have ever been in question. That is, if we’re really that Shining City on the Hill. Exit polls are bearing out what the early polls showed re: Trump’s base of support. White males support Trump in large numbers, this despite an economy tanked by Trump’s bungling of a national health crisis, scattered civil unrest brought on by systematic police brutality, and four years of continued ugliness. Somewhere upwards of 60% of white American males looked at the mess Trump has created the last four years and decided they’d like more.

Florida Demo Breakdown
Trump actually gained among white males vs. his performance in 2016.

There was a lot of hope this week that Florida (and Texas!) would be bellwethers of America’s disgust with Trumpism. Serious people who sniff out the political winds really thought we’d see an acceleration of the purpling of these states–not driven by demographics, but by decency! White males instead created bulwarks and stopped the march in its place. While there are some real questions to ask about Biden’s under-performing among Hispanic/Latinos, the fact of the matter is that white males like Donald Trump and the congressional Republicans who enable Trumpism. 

Posts like this are usually met with a chorus of “not all Trump supporters are racist!” I guess. But one thing is as clear today as it was in 2016: Trump supporters are not as disgusted by racism and race-baiting as good people should be. That’s been true for generations in America and it’s true today. 

As I wrote yesterday, every election is an inflection point. It’s our opportunity to right the ship and put us on the path to achieving that “more perfect union.” That very idea is at the core of American Exceptionalism. As a patriot, I love America but have to admit I hate Americans. There is nothing exceptional about people facing permanent and inevitable demographic changes clinging to the scraps they have while the 1% clears the table. That’s begging and it’s demeaning. And I guess that breeds cruelty, but it’s maddening to see the ire misdirected year after year. We have a lot to clean up still and I’m just not sure we’re up to the job.

At What Cost?

You’ve probably not heard of Marc Geiger, unless you’re into the business of the music business: He was, until recently, the head of the William Morris Endeavor Music Division, or more simply: he was an agent. Agent to the stars.

But you have heard of one of the things that Geiger was responsible for creating: Lollapalooza.

Create a phenomenon and make a lot of money.

Geiger has created a new company. He’s accumulated some $75-million in capital for it.

It is called “SaveLive.”

The “Live” is as in “live music.”

And while many of us might think that the way to do that would be to help fund the bands that are not out on stages right now because of the pandemic, finding a way to buy their music or swag or something, that’s why many of us are not clever business people.

Instead of the musicians, Geiger is looking to support the venues where the musicians would perform were it not that the number of venues that have had to keep their doors shut legally or economically is still high and those that are open have had to reduce the number of patrons allowed in, which is making their continued existence iffy at most.

As I’ve written about before, the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) has worked with Congress on creating the Save Our Stages Act—sponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT) and Roger Williams (R-TX), which just goes to show that music, like viruses, knows no party affiliation—which is wrapped into the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROS Act), which, unfortunately, is stalled in the Senate.

As NIVA recently wrote about its members’ situation and the financial straits that are being caused by the pandemic and how they need more industry-specific help: “Unfortunately, previous Payroll Protection Plans do not work for this industry because we’re shut, so sadly we’ve been forced to furlough about 95% of our employees. While nearly 90% of America’s businesses are operating, as gathering places, we are not.”

The longer this goes on, the fewer venues will remain. After all, the people who own stages may not have to pay many of their employees, but they still have to pay property taxes, utilities, insurance and other things that aren’t going to go away even when the virus does.

So enter Geiger and SaveLive.

At its most simple, the plan is for it to buy at least 51% of venues. That way the previous owner will have income that can be used to do things like keeping the pipes from freezing this winter (yes, yes, there are venues where it doesn’t snow, but you get my drift).

Geiger told the New York Times, “I believe the artist economy is going to be very big when it comes back. Artists will want to tour to get their cash moving again, and people are going to love going out more than ever.”

And so the venues will be there to support those acts. Thanks to Geiger’s company.

This raises some questions.

Continue reading At What Cost?

The Lovely Ladz video premiere: Nasty Blister

Video: The Lovely Ladz – “Nasty Blister”

Single out now on Mordorlorff Music.

Years before the Darkness, Steel Panther, Dethklok, even before Tenacious D, a group of teenagers in suburban Detroit decided they needed to live out their rock and roll fantasies and start a band. And not just a band. But an experience!

The Lovely Ladz unashamedly turned it up to eleven.

These kids were ready to take on the world: Dash Rip Rock (vocals), Mickey Trixxx (guitar, vocals), Jerry Rokker (six-string fretless bass), Stylez (drums), The Baby Velvet (guitar), and Don Wa (“freak outs”).

They had bad wigs, dumb props, lots of beer, and enough chops to pull it off. Pretty much.

I am fortunate to have experienced the Ladz once in a basement at Michigan State University around the time this previously unreleased single was recorded. They were ridiculous but impossible to ignore (it was a small basement). They were goofing on “hair metal” but their songs were as good as anything by Poison or Skid Row if not better. They were definitely funnier.

They never released anything back in the day. In fact, “Nasty Blister” is the only song the Lovely Ladz ever recorded. Captured in 1993 in Saginaw, Michigan, with engineer Dan Palmer who had been in a band called Bungee Deth Fest with Ladz drummer Stylez (secret identity: Matt Favazza), they recently found the original master tapes. Mickey Trixxx (a/k/a Dan “The Fox” Edwards) finally mixed and mastered them for this release, revealing their tender side: “Nasty blister on my private part / Nasty blister on my blackened heart…”

Continue reading The Lovely Ladz video premiere: Nasty Blister

New Flaming Lips video: Assassins of Youth

Video: The Flaming Lips – “Assassins of Youth”

The Flaming Lips - Assassins of Youth [Live Video]

Directed by Wayne Coyne and Blake Studdard. From American Head, out now.

2020 is so weird. One day, maybe in a couple decades or so, people are going to look back at videos like this and wonder wtf was going on. Sort of like how we feel when we see photos of tuberculosis sanitariums from around the turn of the previous century.

But good for the Lips. Leave it to Wayne Coyne and his compatriots to figure out a way to host a real live rock concert in the middle of an infectious pandemic. Put everybody in their own individual space bubble. And why not? It looks fun. Might get a little stanky in there after a while, but it’s probably worth it. How bad do you miss live music?

Coyne says, “The job of the Flaming Lips is to get you in a room, get you excited, get you to forget about the world’s problems and entertain you for an hour. But if we do that without this pretty radical protection, then we’re going to kill you.”

Killing your fans is not a good business model for bands. But neither is patiently waiting for Congress to pass along some financial help to people who have been put out of work by this virus. Bands are getting creative, hosting livestreams and trying to stay connected with their audience online, upping their merch game, etc. But how much longer will they be able to pay their bills without touring? It’s a bad situation and it’s not getting better anytime soon.

I was young yesterday
But everything is changed after today
And I don’t know what to do
Oh my younger self, oh I miss you.

So maybe we should all buy ourselves a space bubble. It looks like you can buy them at Walmart for $159.99, which isn’t so bad. Product description is a little scary: “A sealed water ball has enough breathable air for an average sized person to stay inside for 15-20 minutes without refilling. YOU MUST CHANGE THE AIR AT LEAST EVERY 30 MINUTES FOR YOUR SAFETY.” So there are definitely some logistical issues to work out. We’d need to find a way to pump new covid-free air into the balls. Clubs might have to widen their doors a little so we can fit through. So I don’t know…

The more you learn about space bubbles, the more impressive it is that the Lips were able to pull this off with an audience of 100 fans!

The Flaming Lips: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

50 Years Ago on the Johnny Cash Show: Louis Armstrong, Kenny Rogers

The sixth episode of the final season of the Johnny Cash Show aired 50 years ago today on October 28, 1970, from Music City USA, Nashville, Tennessee. It featured guests Tennessee Ernie Ford, Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, and the great Louis Armstrong along with the usual regulars: June Carter and the Carter Family, the Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins, and the Tennessee Three.

Unfortunately, this is another episode that has not aired on GetTV. We can derive how the show went down based on the detailed notes from the Country Music Hall of Fame and some help from the friendly uploaders of YouTube.

The best part about this episode, of course, is Louis Armstrong. We wrote about this before, inspired by a great article in the Oxford American by Charles Wolfe in 2007. Armstrong and Cash cover Jimmie Rodgers’s “Blue Yodel #9,” which Rodgers first recorded forty years earlier, in 1930, with none other than Louis Armstrong on trumpet. You can see how excited Cash is to play it with him.

So here we are 90 years after the original recording, watching a fifty year old performance of a historical summit of American genres.

• Johnny Cash – “Ring of Fire”

Tennessee Ernie Ford, June Carter and Johnny Cash – “Nobody’s Business By My Own”

First Edition “Heed the Call”

Louis Armstrong – “Crystal Chandeliers” / “Ramblin’ Rose”

Louis Armstrong and Johnny Cash – “Blue Yodel No. 9”

• Johnny Cash – Come Along and Ride This Train: Outlaws

Tennessee Ernie Ford – “Nine Pound Hammer”

• Johnny Cash – “Children Go Where I Send Thee”

Tennessee Ernie Ford and ensemble – “I’ll Have a New Life”

Continue reading 50 Years Ago on the Johnny Cash Show: Louis Armstrong, Kenny Rogers

New Jim White video: The Divided States of America

Video: Jim White – “The Divided States of America”

THE DIVIDED STATES OF AMERICA by Jim White.

From Misfit’s Jubilee, out October 30 on Fluff and Gravy.

Way back in 2001 in the early days of this web site we used to host a streaming “radio station” where the handful of people who had enough bandwidth to do so could listen to a couple hours worth of handpicked songs by the GLONO posse. We used a precocious site called Live365 that might have been a little ahead of its time. We abandoned it once they started charging you to use it, but it was (sort of) fun for a while.

The reason I mention it is because one of the songs we featured, selected by Johnny Loftus, was “Handcuffed to a Fence in Mississippi” by Jim White, which blew us all away back then and still does.

Well, it’s almost 20 years later now and I wonder if Jim White still thinks “things is always better than they seem.”

Maybe not. White says, “I’m typically not the political type but these times we’re riding out here, they’re anything but typical. At this moment in our collective history it makes sense that voices normally content to remain silent should be lifted in outrage, howling, exhorting our minds and hearts to focus on a singular goal—higher ground for all, not just the rich folks.”

It’s hard to be hopeful in 2020. We’re all doing what we can, but the cards are clearly stacked against us. Can you even imagine a time when we’re not as divided as we are right now?

Objects in the Mirror May Be Closer Than They Seem

The Road

While it might not seem to be, when bands go out on the road, touring, that’s business travel. They’re not out there because they want to sleep in a bus or collect loyalty points at a chain motel where the room smells like cigarette filters and feet. It’s their job the same way the proverbial traveling salesperson is racking up the miles on that rental Impala that has a mysterious noise coming from under the hood that increases slightly with every mile clocked on the odometer.

The musicians show up at the venues large or small, hoping they’ll make the nut that will continue to allow them to make it.

Although bands aren’t corporations per se (of course, I’m talking here about bands that are clawing along in buses, vans and beaters, not those who probably have empty office space in Delaware that is the address of their incorporation papers), they are businesses, in effect, that face the same sorts of logistical challenges on the road as the aforementioned salesperson.

Good news, such as it is, for those bands who are facing the consequences of COVID-19 is that as McKinsey points out in an examination of business travel trends of the moment, “For Corporate Travel, a Long Recovery Ahead” by Andrew Curley, Rachel Garber, Vik Krishnan and Jillian Tellez, “Looking first at the distance of business travel, regional and domestic trips will likely see a return before international travel does.” So odds are for the foreseeable future, competition with non-domestic brands bands will not be much of an issue. And for those who may have car sickness, better lay on a bigger supply of Dramamine because the McKinsey report continues, “Within domestic travel, trips that can happen in personal or rental vehicles may replace short regional flights until companies’ comfort with sending employees via airplanes increases.” While taking the Delta Connection may seem a bit extreme for many bands purely from a financial standpoint, there are those musicians who need to get to a gig that would be outside the realm of a drive—although that verb should have been in the past tense—needed—because it is still the case that most venues are closed and will continue to exist in that state for the next several months—or they’ll simply stop existing.

All of which means that this whole discussion of business travel is a moot point because if bands have no place to perform, it just may be that they’ll have to disband.

That is a consequence of C-19 that will silently echo for years after the vaccine has been injected into our systems.

Continue reading Objects in the Mirror May Be Closer Than They Seem

New Neil Young: Homefires

Video: Neil Young – “Homefires”

Homefires - Neil Young Archives

From Neil Young Archives Volume II, out November 20 on Reprise.

Oh man remember back in the oughts all the angst around the original Archives collection? After originally mentioning the project in the liner notes to Lucky 13 in 1993, he didn’t get serious about it until around 2006 when he started talking about it and trickling out some live shows (Fillmore and Massey). And then in 2007 he posted a fancy landing page and suggested it would be released that September. Then the set got pushed back to February 2008. Then he announced it wouldn’t be released on CD, then it would be. Then it got pushed to early 2009, January, then February, then June, which happened. Finally! Eight CDs and a 160-page book for $72. It was very exciting even if it wasn’t as comprehensive as people thought. There were a bunch of cool, unreleased songs on it.

He’s been giving us hints about Archives II since 2010. And now you can pre-order it. 10 CDs with a 252-page book for $249.98. Inflation!

If the 12 unreleased songs on it are as good as “Homefires” it might well be worth it. But I think I’m going to wait to see if the price comes down. I’m thrifty like that.

New Rosanne Cash: Crawl into the Promised Land

Video: Rosanne Cash – “Crawl into the Promised Land” (ft. John Leventhal)

Rosanne Cash - Crawl into the Promised Land ft. John Leventhal

Single out now on Blue Note.

A powerful new song inspired by current events, the subject matter is as heavy as the music is jaunty.

Cash wrote a statement:

The pandemic and the protests were a perfect storm of isolation, inspiration, outrage, longing, fear, and hope. Living in New York City was a pressure cooker, particularly in April and May, when the deaths were spiking and the city sealed itself off, and utterly changed. But strangely, there was also a sense of transformation just around the curve, a sense of unity and community, and the potential for transcendence. I kept thinking of the model in physics, where things have to fall apart in order to re-assemble themselves in a more refined, evolved state.

My tour was cancelled, and I was off the road, sequestered in my own home, with time, a stack of writing journals, and a recording studio in the basement. There was nothing to do to accommodate the emotional squeeze, and the rumblings of panic, and no way to articulate the division, and the suffering born of racism and the suffering born of Covid, with reason or logic. The only thing to do was write songs.

Well, it’s nice something good came out of it!

Rosanne Cash: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

50 Years Ago on the Johnny Cash Show: Peggy Lee, The Guess Who

The fifth episode of the final season of the Johnny Cash Show aired 50 years ago today on October 21, 1970, from Music City USA, Nashville, Tennessee. It featured guests Peggy Lee, The Guess Who, Marty Robbins, and Tommy Cash along with the usual regulars: June Carter and the Carter Family, the Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins, and the Tennessee Three.

Unfortunately, I have not seen this episode yet on GetTV. In fact, I’m starting to think they only have 21 episodes that they keep repeating…out of the 58 episodes originally broadcast. That’s less than half. I might be wrong. We’ve reached out to the network to ask them some questions, but they have yet to reply. I’ll keep watching and report back.

We can derive how the show went down based on the detailed notes from the Country Music Hall of Fame and some help from the friendly uploaders of YouTube.

One thing Johnny Cash wanted to do with his series was to bridge the generation gap by introducing his older country audience to younger rock and rollers. Or maybe it wasn’t so much a generation gap as it was a cultural gap between his more rural, conservative audience and the “Woodstock” types who had embraced him since Live at Folsom Prison. It was no accident that the very first episode featured Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell.

Most of the time Cash let the music do the talking but sometimes he beat you over the head with it. A good example of this is the medley he performs with the Guess Who, where the Canadian longhairs trade verses of their latest single with Cash who intersperses bits of his anti-anti-hippie anthem, “What Is Truth” (“Could it be that the girls and boys are trying to be heard above your noise?”). It’s not subtle, and it may seem corny today, but I bet at the time it was provocative.

Johnny Cash – “Mama Tried” (link is audio only)

• June Carter recites a love poem she wrote

• Marty Robbins – “Jolie Girl”

Johnny Cash and Marty Robbins – “Streets of Laredo”

The Guess Who and Johnny Cash – Medley: “Hand Me Down World” / “What is Truth” / “Share the Land”

Johnny Cash – Come Along and Ride This Train: The Gold Rush

Johnny Cash and Peggy Lee – “I’m A Woman”

Peggy Lee – “One More Ride on the Merry-Go-Round”

Peggy Lee and Johnny Cash – “For the Good Times”

Johnny Cash – “All Over Again”

Johnny Cash – “He’ll Have to Go”

Tommy Cash – “One Song Away” backed by Statler Brothers

Johnny Cash and June Carter – “Foggy Mountain Top” with Tommy Cash, Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters, and Statler Brothers

• Johnny Cash – “Just A Closer Walk With Thee” backed by Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters and the Statler Brothers