Wednesday, March 15, 2017

KONG SKULL ISLAND: Don't EVEN Think About Not Seeing this Fucking Movie!

We might as well cancel Christmas. When history is finished with 2017, Kong Skull Island will have been the greatest thing to have happened this year.

In the early '70s during the end of the Viet Nam War, Preston Packard, played by Samuel Jackson, is a US Army Lieutenant Colonel who suddenly finds himself at the end of a war and without a mission. 

Well, for his sins they gave him one.

As the leader of the Sky Devils helicopter squadron, Packard's final mission is to escort a small group of explorers to Skull Island, an uncharted mass of land that until new satellite imagery uncovered it's existence deep in the Pacific Ocean, had gone undetected. The group of explorers is led by Bill Randa, played by John Goodman, who secured the excursion with the help of a prominent senator. The senator feared that if he didn't send Randa, the Russians using their own technology would find and lay claim to the island's vast ecosystem and natural resources, making them unavailable to the United States. 

A massive perpetual storm constantly surrounds the island, and for the most part, it's violent enough to keep ships and aircraft away from it's shores. Anybody who might have landed on the island - or as the case may be, crashed into it's beaches during a WW2 dogfight - has never made it back to the mainland to tell it's story. (spoiler alert - insert John C. Riley) But Randa is persistent, and with the determination of Lieutenant Packard they, along with Packard's helicopter squadron, hammer through the storm and make it to the beautiful shores of Skull Island. The flight through the storm is a bit lackluster compared to what one might expect, but let's just say that the storm is the calm before the real storm that's about to happen.

Of course the squadron immediately encounters Kong, and if history has taught us anything about this mammoth ape, it's that he absolutely despises aircraft. Especially aircraft that is dropping bombs and shooting at him. People began to die rather quickly on Skull Island.

"You shouldn't have come here." 
Now I'm not about to spoil the rest of the story, but let's just say that things get extremely violent right away and pretty much stay that way right up until the final scene.

Kong isn't the only menace that our heroes (and villains) encounter. There are giant spiders to deal with, humongous mutant lizard-like creatures that are pure evil, blood-thirsty pterodactyls, bats, insects, giant octopus and at one point it appears that our group of explorers is about to be wiped out by an enormous charging water buffalo. Not to mention the spooky tribe of natives that paint themselves to blend into their surroundings...

Go see the movie. Unpredictability, creative violence and impossible imagery makes for great adventure, but it truly has to be seen to be appreciated. And just when you think that your visual intake can't get any more epic than it already is, you are rewarded with the greatest fight scene in the history of cinema.

Seriously, go watch this movie. Then, cancel Christmas.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Rock n Roll Neanderthal & Card Counting Genius: The Brilliance of Spencer Robinson

Spencer Robinson is a filthy animal.

Perhaps he is best known for being the bass player for The Lords of Altamont, a band of rock and roll neanderthals from LA who, in the spirit of an outlaw motorcycle gang, re-energized a scene that had been dead since Guns n Roses dropped F-bombs on live TV during the 1990 American Music Awards.

This band of misfits was transformed from a very rare pedigree, featuring ex-members of the Bomboras, Fuzztones and the MC5. The Lords' website says that they are the "final nail in the coffin of hippie culture." Their music says that they are a loud and mean force to be reckoned with, more hideout rock than garage.

Spencer Robinson has slogged with the Lords off and on for 5 years, earning himself several nicknames throughout his tenure. Most notably perhaps, he was known as "Dealer" - a nefarious name to be sure which conjures all kinds of outlaw motorcycle gang bedlam - but to be clear, the name is more likely derived from his ability to count cards during a game of Black Jack than it is from the extra-curricular money-making illegal side job that instantly comes to mind.

He's been counting cards since his early 20's:

I had a neighbor who asked me if I wanted to join the blackjack team.  He started by teaching me basic strategy, which is the mathematically correct move to make on every blackjack hand, and also all the times you deviate from basic strategy according to the count. While I was memorizing all of that, I also learned the value of each card when it comes to card-counting.  The first thing I did was run drills for myself where I removed a few cards from the deck, and quickly counted the cards, using the removed cards to check myself at the end.  Eventually, I moved to counting the cards as somebody dealt them blackjack-style, while also playing 2 hands, using correct basic strategy."
Robinson says that he practiced this for 3 months before even attempting to take the test to get on the Black Jack team.

"When I got out to Vegas to take the test, I failed for 3 days straight before passing. After I passed the test, I was taken to a low stakes casino to try all that I’d learned in a live setting before being sent out to play for big money.  As I moved up the ranks of the team, there were more complicated tests that I had to pass. Also, every gambling trip we went on started with everybody having to pass a test again, just to make sure that we were all ready to play. It was an amazing group of really smart people."

Card counting is no small feat. A group of MIT students became famous for it when a movie was released in 2008, and in many aspects, Spencer Robinson has lived out the exact glorious and danger-filled scenarios that are featured in the movie. If counting cards is not genius ability, it's definitely one of extreme discipline; not a trait typically associated with members  of a junkyard rock and roll band.

Robinson recently released a solo recording on Solid 7 Records called Standing At The End Of The World. He says that the songs are "about drinking and dying" - and they seem to channel a melancholy Kill Bill-ish, Carradine/ Tarantino-esque vibe more than they do anything associated with the Lords.

Former Lords guitarist
 Johnny DeVilla joins his longtime friend and lends several haunting licks as does drummer Tom Hernandez from LA's The Superbees. It's also apparent that Nick Cave - at least in spirit - was lingering around the studio during this recording. Check it out on Soundcloud. It's better than anything that is being played on FM radio these days.

Robinson let me ask him a bunch of questions: 

What is the weirdest experience you've had as a professional gambler?

I guess it’s all been a little weird, to be honest. I feel like I’ve lived a few lives in this life.  When I was gambling for a living, I was on a blackjack team.  If you’ve seen the movie “21,” about the MIT blackjack team, it was an offshoot of that.

Well, we were playing at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, and I started seeing the other people in the team getting backed off from playing.  Counting cards isn’t illegal, but casinos will kick you out if they realize it’s going on.  I got up, and started heading to the cage to cash out.  That’s when 8 security guards surrounded me, and told me that I was going to the back room with them.  The whole thing is so silly because they can’t legally do that, but they don’t care. The real drag of it all was that they were standing all around me, and if I physically pushed through them to leave, then they can detain me and call the cops for “assaulting” them.  It’s a stupid game they play.

They told me they were taking me to the back room, and I just said “nope.”

They tried to tell me that I had no say in the matter, and that I was going. Again, I said “no.”  I asked them why they thought I was going with them, and one of the security guards replied “prostitution,” which actually made me laugh out loud.  I had one of those “come on man” reactions.  That’s when one of these goons tried to grab my wallet from my pocket. I assume they wanted to get my ID, but I also know the law well, and know that they can’t do that.  I whipped around so fast, and snapped “now you know you can’t touch me,” so the guy pulled his hand away like he’d touched a hot stove.

By this point, I was pretty pissed off.  These idiots know that I’m not going with them, and they just wouldn’t let up.  They were wasting my time!  Finally, I pulled out my phone, and I said “ok guys; I’m calling 911, and I’m telling them that the security team at Caesar’s Palace is attempting to kidnap me.”  They parted like the Red Sea, and I headed to the door.  All of these guys trailed behind me as I walked to the door, and one of them even attempted to sort of push me out the front door as I let.  It was all pretty stupid. I’ve been kicked out of a lot of casinos, but that one was particularly memorable.

What is the tell-tale sign of any card game opponent that alerts you that you are about to cash in big time?

I played professional blackjack, so you’re playing against the house.  It’s different than playing poker.  That being said, I’ve played a fair amount of poker as well, and finding somebody really drunk is always interesting.  I was in poker room once, and the guy next to me was so wasted, he was showing me his cards.  Every hand that he didn’t fold, he flashed me his hole cards  It was a beautiful thing.  I won a fair amount of money from him before one of his buddies came to retrieve him from the table.  It was such easy money, that I even made a pretty lame attempt to get him to stay and keep playing.  Sadly, it didn’t work.

What goes through your mind while you are bluffing when there's butt-loads of cash on the line?

Again, I played blackjack on the team, so all the big money was on 21, and that doesn’t have any bluffing. What I did when I was the guy betting big was to play some sort of character.  So, while I’m doing the card counting math in my head, and paying attention to the cards to make sure I’m making the correct play, and keeping track of how much money I’m betting to make sure I’m not getting ripped off by the dealer, I’m also trying to keep in mind what type of person I’m disguised as, and how that person would react if they win or lose the hand.  The “acting” part of the gig was my least favorite part.

Tell me about the inspiration behind wanting to create this new album.

So I played in The Lords of Altamont for 5 years, and I love garage and rock n roll; but I felt like, if I was going to do something for myself, it should be different than the music I’d played before.  I listen to a lot of Nick Cave, Tom Waits, and Leonard Cohen; guys that write/wrote about some of the darker and more odd things in life, and I really wanted to explore those thoughts and ideas in myself.  Everyone deals with dark stuff, and writing about some of it was cathartic for me.  I like to say they’re songs about drinking and dying.

Where would you bookshelf it between two established all-time great recordings?

Wow, that’s a hard question to answer without sounding like a complete narcissist!  Not that I think my songs are anywhere near as good as these records, but I would put it somewhere between Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ Let Love In, and The Scientists’ Blood Red River.  It definitely has somewhat of that swampy Scientists feel, greatly due to the amazing guitar work of former Lords of Altamont guitar player Johnny DeVilla, but I like to think the lyrics have a little bit of the edge and darkness of Nick Cave’s writing.

What was your biggest challenge in regards to making solo record?

It’s funny; it was not as challenging as I thought it was going to be.  The songs came fairly easily, and we recorded the thing very quickly.  I wrote and demoed a lot of songs at home before choosing the ones I wanted to record.  I guess the hardest part for me was then having to play them for the musicians I wanted for the EP.  I’d co-written songs in the Lords, but never the lyrics.  This was the first time I’d be reaching out to musicians that I knew and respected, and asking them to give up their time to come play on my dumb little songs.  It was all a little intimidating. I liked what I’d written, but it’s hard to tell if people will dig it or not.  When Johnny DeVilla from The Lords, and Tom Hernandez from the Superbees agreed to play on the record, I was thrilled. They were my first choices for musicians, and they really delivered.

What's the most memorable roadside attraction you've visited?

I haven’t visited a lot of roadside attractions; this probably sounds pretty cliché, but the first time I went to gamble in Mississippi, I flew in a few hours early so I could go to Graceland.  It was a lot of fun.  Sure, it’s gaudy and some of the tour is silly, but when you get to the hallway of Elvis’ gold records, it’s pretty damn impressive. Once you get past the floor and ceiling shag carpet of The Jungle Room, and the slightly ridiculous videos of Elvis doing karate, the gold records remind you of how big he actually was.  It’s sobering.  The song “Tunica” on my EP is about that gambling trip.

Tell me a punk rock story.

One of the cool things about being in The Lords is that I got to play everything from little punk rock bars to huge European festivals.  I did a few shows at this great punk bar in Las Vegas called The Double Down Saloon.  It’s a smoke-filled dive bar with no windows, and they serve something at the bar called “ass juice.”  They would just push the pool tables off to the side, and have bands play in the corner.  I was setting up my bass rig, bending down to plug something in, and I leaned against the wall with my hand; well, as I did this, my hand literally sunk into the wall.  That bar has been there for a long time, and the walls were littered with so many punk rock fliers from bands that had played, that my hand got swallowed up in the rotting paper. Yeah, it was kinda gross, but it was also a cool reminder of the countless bands that had set up their gear in the corner of that place, and played rowdy ass shows.

Another amazing memory was a West Coast tour we did opening for The Cramps.  They were such an incredible band, and getting to play with them every night was something really special.  There were a few bands that I got to play with that were like “dream come true” situations for me.  The Cramps were definitely one of those bands.

Monday, February 27, 2017

ELECTRIC CANDYLAND: Experienceing the Mind Manifesting Art of WAYNE COYNE

The Waterloo Center for the Arts (that's Waterloo, Iowa) are currently hosting an exhibition of artwork done by Wayne Coyne. Maybe you know him as the singer for the band the Flaming Lips, or maybe you don't. The band has been around for something like 30 years... and they've run the gamut  from drug punks to lysergic cartoon shamans, and who knows what else in between. They are definitely one very experimental band. But whether you love or hate the music, there is another facet to the world of Wayne. And you can check it out if you're so inclined and maybe you should be.

The first night of the exhibition had a reception where Wayne came and talked for a few minutes about the project, a little Q +A session, and then he made himself available to anyone who wanted to talk, shake his hand, and get an autograph and/or a picture with him. Wayne does seem like a pretty genuine guy who appears to really deeply appreciate the people who are interested in the things he does. I had arrived fashionably early for the reception as to check out the art. I did not get to experience it all as the crowds were a bit large, so I went back a day later to watch the movie in its entirety and to sit and check out the King's Mouth exhibit for the full recommended 15 minutes. There was a fair amount of stuff to check out. As to what was on exhibit, well:

A small booth type area was set up in which the four record project was set up to play. The four records were designed to be played simultaneously on different record players or cd players, or whatever type of devices needed per the type way you have the music. Have fun setting that up to play at your next party. It is a pretty neat idea, and although weird, it was no weirder than their regular stuff. However I did not listen to the whole thing so I really can't comment on it that much.


Wayne had two issues of a comic book on display, titled THE SUN IS SICK. Two copies of each issue were available so one could check out each issue's cover plus some of the interior. The comics were under glass and I really would have loved to have been able to sit back and read them, but security is the word of the day here. If they were just left out to peruse some punk would most certainly have copped the issues for himself. The artwork was thick and rich in color and texture. It reminded me just a little of the pre-code horror/sci fi comics with a little spirit of Steve Ditko thrown in. My appetite was surely whetted but I have no idea if it shall ever be sated. Wayne if your out there and reading this, any copies floating around for this humble narrator?

A film written, directed, and produced by Wayne and some other folks. It stars members of the Flaming Lips (Steven Drozd, Micheal Ivins, and Kliph Scurlock) as well as guys like Fred Armisan and Adam Goldberg. The film is pretty good in my humble opinion and I'm glad I went on another day and sat and watched the whole thing. Still not under the best of conditions due to all the other exhibits being cranked up pretty loud but the headphones helped some. I may actually get this thing on DVD. I could definitely have seen this thing being something they would have played on Night Flight back in the day had this thing been a thing back then. Midnight art film goodness. If the promise of a vagina-headed marching band doesn't make you want to see this then I guess nothing will.

This exhibit was sort of the marquee artifact of the whole shebang. An immersive sculpture kind of thing made out of all sorts of stuff including foam, Mylar, aluminum foil, lights, and god knows what else. I went back a day later to check this out along with the film because trying to get into this thing on the night of the reception was not going to happen. you crawl inside this thing and spend a really nice fifteen minutes being dazzled by lights and sounds synced up in a way that at times, and if in the right place can make you feel like your on some intergalactic journey. Some people said it is a nice simulation of tripping on LSD, I don't know if it felt quite like that, but it is certainly a nice and groovy thing indeed. I found it pretty relaxing and I think I want to build one in my basement to hang out in. On the wall across from the sculpture(?) are a group of pictures that are hung sequentially and they have text beside them telling the of King's Mouth. Having the myth added another dimension to the sculpture.

The exhibit runs from Feb. 16, 2017 to April 23, 2017. It is worth checking out if you have a little free time. If interested maybe you can contact your local art center and find out what it will take to get this exhibit in your neighborhood. Even better yet, go out and create some of your own weird art. Art is a link between the conscious and the subconscious, so the more links, windows, bridges, tunnels, and roads we have between them the cooler kind of world we get. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017


The cover lays it out for you in visuals and words. "A quagmire of heavy dope and dark satanic poop sliced up into 14 slabs of shameless stonage" Not sure how available this thing is anymore but if you see it you may want to do yourself a favor and snag a copy if the price is right for you. This record drips atmosphere - and oh what an atmosphere it is. Dredging up 45s from 1969 -'77, some of them probably so obscure that the bands don't even remember makin' 'em.

This is a nice compilation of garage psych madness that sounds like it being made by a bunch of devil worshiping hippies during a free form black mass jam; or zonked to the stratosphere Hell's Angels partying in Death Valley with a bunch of reptilians that live inside the hollow earth. In other words this is a fine record and is lots of fun. When  I was a little kid and didn't know really anything about rock n roll, this is the kind of sound that I heard (or imagined I heard) coming out of my friends older  brothers basement bedroom while we were playing with Hot Wheels. this is the sound of rock n roll that I have been chasing ever since I got into listening to the stuff.

The sound quality is not bad but at times can be a bit murky, but mostly it sounds good. I've heard much, much worse (like those old Stooges bootlegs that sound like they were recorded with a cassette recorder in the trunk of a car in the parking lot of the club they were playing). Ultimate Bonehead is related to the Bonehead Crushers and Bonehead Crunchers compilation also put out by Belter. So pick this up and make your record collection the envy of your neighborhood.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Five Questions with The Two Tens

The Two Tens are Adam Bones and Rikki Styxx, two garage rockers who hail from Los Angeles. They are currently on their Hashtag Volume Tour, and are in the midst of conquering America one gig at a time.

Bright and sassy, they are one part lip-smackin' bubble gum and two parts jaw breaker. While their smiles may be conspicuous, they aren't out to woo you with deep thought provoking lyrics and over saturated chord progressions. Just straight forward in your face smash rock. This is the band that your big sister never told you about, because she didn't want you stealing her records.

They roll into Des Moines tonight to play Vaudeville Mews. Show starts at 9:30 with Nowns and The Holy Rattlesnakes opening.

What is the untold backstory of The Two Tens?

Adam: All parts of the backstory have been told and have been truthful. Nothing has been untold. Rikki was the drummer in the last lineup of my solo project. I started to get burnt on that and decided to strip things down and write more punk style songs and not censor myself in the song writing process. I approached Rikki about the duo idea because not only is she a great drummer, but she's just fun to hang out with. She was into it and the rest is history.

Rikki: The truth is, Adam is my musical soul brother and bleeds rock n roll. He's also one of my best friends so it makes playing music fun. It just works.

You guys put more music into a 2 minute song than most bands put into music that's much longer. What is the secret to cutting a good GARAGE tune?

Adam: I like a song, garage or otherwise, to has to have a good hook. Something that grabs me and that I can sing along to. I like to make sure that there's an element of "grabbing you" in the songs... in more ways than one, hehehe.

Rikki: I like a song that's high energy, in-yo-face and makes you feel something.

Adam Bones and Rikki Styxx: Two Tens

Finish this sentence: This tour will be a complete success if:

Adam: We truly have a great time, meet cool people and not end up wanting to kill one another. I don't think we'll have an issue accomplishing any of these things.
Rikki: We make some new fans and some lifetime memories.

Have you been in Des Moines before? Do you have any impressions of Des Moines? Have you heard of Des Moines?

Adam: Ha, I have heard of Des Moines. I have played Des Moines once years ago with an old band I was in. I can't remember the name of the venue. We didn't really get to explore the city or do a whole lot, being on tour and all. But I can remember everyone being nice and the highlight was making friends with local band, North of Grand. I really like their albums.

Rikki: Well I don't even know how to pronounce the name right so......Adam keeps having to correct me. Ha!

Tell me about the worst gig you ever had.

Rikki: Any show that is at an upstairs venue with no elevators. And no roadie. No seriously, can't really remember a bad one.

Adam: I try to make the best of all gigs. So I can't really think off the top of my head of a completely hellacious show. However, my previous band played a festival-type arts and music event. The pitch of the event made it seem like it was going to be packed and a blast. It was quite the opposite. We played a big room in the LA Convention Center to about 10 people. And on top of that, our lead guitar player got in a car crash on his way to the gig and never made it. We went on and still made the best of it, but it was a weird day. Silver lining... we got to see TJ Miller do an improved stand-up routine. Improved because he too did not have an audience. I thought he was hilarious.

What would you do if you learned that Donald Trump was using your music during campaign stops?

Adam: Politics schmolitics... boring...

Rikki: Freedom of speech, but I probably would make a personal statement that (I) don't support him.

What else does the world need to know about The Two Tens?

Adam: They need to know that we love what we do and we want them to love what we do as well. Come see us at our shows and say hi, we'd love to meet you.

Rikki: I like to give sweaty hugs out after the show! Boom!


The Two Tens Official

Monday, April 25, 2016

Five Questions with Matt Loewen of Head For The Hills

On Friday, Colorado progressive bluegrass quartet Head For The Hills will make a return to Des Moines. It'll be their first visit to the capital city since last fall and they are fresh off the heels of a Pacific Northwestern tour with Pert' Near Sandstone.

Progressive Bluegrass is a subgenre of traditional Bluegrass music. It essentially became a thing in the late 1940s when Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys were doing duets with banjo and contrabass. In a nutshell Progressive Bluegrass is traditional bluegrass that draws instrumentation from other genres, such as electric guitar and bass, and even keyboards. Steve Martin's Steep Canyon Rangers are an example of traditional Bluegrass that has become progressive - they've recently added a drummer to their band. While this isn't the exact definition of progressive bluegrass, it's a a simple nod to that direction. Other factors include non-traditional chord progressions and drawing elements from other musical genres such as Rock and Roll or Jazz. Head for the Hills does this, as can be heard in this instrumental rendition of David Bromberg's "New Lee Highway Blues."

Head For The Hills are Adam Kinghorn on guitar, Joe Lessard on fiddle, Matt Loewen on bass and Sam Parks on mandolin. It'exciting to have them back in Des Moines on the small stage and if you can't catch them at Vaudeville Mews on Friday, make the short drive to Cedar Falls on Saturday and see them at the Bella Sala Brew Grass Festival reunited with Pert' Near Sandstone and many others.

Despite being on tour last week, bassist Matt Loewen took a few minutes to answer five questions. 

Do you have any memories of playing in Des Moines?  

We've played Des Moines a handful of times--a big highlight for us was doing 80/35 Fest last summer. Great bands and a great crowd! 

What is the Pickin' on the Poudre project, and how did that become a thing?

Pickin' on the Poudre is the opening weekend event we do at the Mishawaka Amphitheater (Bellvue, Colorado) every year. Though we haven't always called the show "Pickin' on the Poudre" it's been happening every year since 2004 and is one of our favorite shows of the year. We'll be back this May 14th for the 12th year. 

Head For The Hills (Photo courtesy of Graham Gardner)

The Bluegrass genre has gained momentum over the past few years. What does Head For The Hills do that sets them apart from other acts?

I think we bring a unique and eclectic set of ears and chops to songs that are deep and frequently stray from standard source material for the genre. Domestic abuse, comic book meta-ficton, gun violence--all these and more come up in our songs. Plus there's no banjo! 

What are the biggest obstacles to overcome while touring as a four piece band?

Same as touring with any small independent group--it's challenging to make a living while creating at the level we want to. It's all on us, we don't have backers or a record label or anything. Money is always tight but the rewards are high and we love what we do. 

Tell me a true and crazy "Bluegrass Band on Tour" story. 

I once got electrocuted on stage. Threw my upright bass out of one hand and my beer out of the other. The rest of the band thought I got stung by a bee but that was no bee. Haha. The show however went on.


Pertinent Links:

Head For The Hills Official 

Head For The Hills Facebook

Head For The Hills Youtube 

Pickin on the Poudre 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Five Questions with GOSH!

GOSH is Paidrag Steadman, Claire Lambach and Kyle Prenevost
Rock Island is a landmass nestled between two rivers, the mighty Mississippi and the lesser known Rock River in eastern Illinois. Interestingly, it's not an actual island.. but it does contain historic elements of rock - as in rock and roll.

The Rock Island Brewing Company was creating delicious crafts long before breweries became a mainstay in Des Moines, and their soundsystem has been kicking out the jams with live music since it's creation in 1979. Needless to say, it has been a destination for us knuckle dragging low-lifes who, since the late '80s and early '90s when we needed a good rock and roll show to fuel our angst and social awkwardness. At the time, the closest comparison we had in Des Moines was Hairy Mary's or the Laughing Iguana. Neither was serving craft beer.

So when I heard GOSH! on Iowa Public Radio last week, and learned that they were from Rock Island, it came with a flood of nearly forgotten memories. It didn't hurt that the band has a unique sound that caught my attention - I immediately used my Shazam app to identify the band - it came up blank. So when the DJ mentioned that they were GOSH! from Rock Island, I made a mental note. When I got home later that night, I surfed Youtube digesting all that I could.

GOSH! mixes garage pop and psychedelia in a unique way that seems mysteriously complex but delightfully simple. I was surprised to learn that they were a three-piece band as I swore I was hearing more than what was actually happening. According to Claire they took their name from a Beach Boys song. 
"Padraig and I were taking a Clickhole quiz together titled 'How many Beach Boys songs do u know?,'" she explained. "GOSH! was one of the answers and we decided it sounded like a good band name." 

Listening to them I hear elements of White Mystery, Black Box Revelation, and The Flaming Lips - when the Lips were more entwined in psychedelia than in commercial pop.

Tomorrow night they are set to kick off a northeastern tour (SEE BELOW), and they tell me that they have never played in Des Moines, but they would really like to do so. (Are you reading this LEFTY'S?) Despite their impending tour and the craziness of preparing for that, GOSH! was gracious enough to spend some time with me and answer a few questions.


What are the top 3 band rules you have set for each other as you go on tour?

Padraig- I think our only real rule for tour is to not get too fucked up to play and load gear. Other than that it's a free for all. Personally, I try to make a rule of not eating too much shitty food. It's really easy to get sick on tour and eating McDonalds every day definitely exasperates that. I also try to drink a ton of water so I wind up having to stop the van to piss like every 20 minutes. It's fun. 

Claire- 1. Keep low expectations: Tour can be hard and you never know what kind of show you're gonna play. Often times people don't pay attention to your set, or the show wasn't promoted very well and only 5 people show up. As long as you don't expect the rock star treatment you will end up havin a good time and meeting cool people. 2. Don't drink too much before we play: this is a rule for obvious reasons. We are on tour to share our music, but if we are too fucked up to play then our set we would suck and no one would care. 3. Take advantage of the amazing cities we visit. I like to map out our trip in advance and find cool things to do en route. For example, I learned about the Cryptozoology museum in Portland, Maine and I'm super stoked to check that out.

Kyle- 1. Don't fuck up the show. 2. Take care of each other. 3. Have a shit ton of fun. 

Your band consists of two males and a female. How does that paradigm work while touring - Is there a relationship involved, and if so, how bad does it suck to be the odd person out?

Padraig- Gosh! started when Claire and I began dating and started writing songs together. Kyle is one of my best friends of all time and jumped on board. 

Claire- Yes, Padraig and I have been together since the start of GOSH! I met Padraig's friend, Kyle around the same time and he quickly became my best buddy. It just made sense to get him in the mix on drums. 

Kyle- They're my best buds so it's not really a thing for me. Besides, more groupies for me.

You have a gig in on April 19th in Portland, Maine, which you mentioned is the home of the International Cryptozoology Museum. Tell me about any paranormal experiences you might have had, or perhaps a Bigfoot or UFO sighting in your past.

Padraig- We're super excited to go to the Cryptozoology Museum! I don't have any first hand experience with the paranormal, but lots of people in my life have. For instance, my mom grew up in this colonial house in Virginia right on the Chesapeake. And she always said there was a civil war burial ground on the land. Well my whole life she always told me about the variety of ghosts she'd encounter. And one ghost was a woman who had no feet. She just levitated. Well one of my cousins was out in the yard with a metal detector a few years ago and came across a shallow brick tomb. All that was inside were a pair of skeletal feet. 

Claire- Hell yeah the museum is gonna be SO DOPE. I found out about the Cryptozoology Museum while planning the trip and immediately said "yaas we have to gooo!"  My dad is a huge Sasquatch believer so i'm lookin' forward to bringing a souvenir home for him. I haven't experienced any real paranormal activity, but my brother told me all those classic scary stories like Bloody Mary and Candy Man when I was way too young. I couldn't sleep for what seemed like months and hallucinated creepy clowns and ghosts all the time.

Kyle- I've actually seen a couple UFO's. My buddy's parents were having some sort of get-together so I figured free food and drinks sound good. We were outside jamming and people started to notice something in the sky, and we're like yeah whatever OK, but we went to check it out and a group of like 15 of us watched a light that was pulsating and would get really bright and then dim as it circled around the sky. It was pretty weird. 

When was the last time you did something completely stupid and said to yourself, "Man. That was fucking dumb."?

Kyle- I partied all night Saturday until 8 AM Sunday morning and that was pretty fucking dumb. I'm fucking 30.

Padraig- Yeah I got really drunk, partied way too hard and didn't go to work the next day. Lost that job. Definitely beat myself up over that one. I've been doing pretty alright since then. Did have a hard time figuring out the gas pumps outside Milwaukee recently though. That was kinda dumb.

Claire- I've never done anything stupid.

Not sure how it happened, but at the moment I have "Careless Whisper" by George Michael stuck in my head. What song is currently driving you insane?

Padraig- Right now for me it's "Choices" by E-40. But I have lots of fun with it. 

Claire- Growing Pains theme song. I just googled this to find out, I guess it's a song called "As Long As We've Got Each Other" by B.J. Thomas

Please describe the most awkward moment you have ever had while performing onstage.

Padraig- For this current band it was a show in Minneapolis. That city is one of my favorite places to play. We have a ton of really good friends who make amazing music up there. And the shows are always amazing. But this last time we were there, we had the sound guy from hell. He was just the typical macho moron saying sexist shit talking about how he's been doing this for so long and that there's no way 3 bands are gonna be able to play in four hours and all kinds of bullshit. Well he just put a real damper on the show. And basically we were so worked up and nervous for our set that like halfway through a song we just fucking forgot it and had to stop. Wound up only playing four songs. And it's a song we've been playing forever! That was probably the most awkward thing that's gone down on stage for Gosh! But now it's just a funny story. There were definitely some pooped pants on stage with the last band I was in. That's all I'll say about that though.

Claire- I haven't been performing for very long, and I always do it almost completely sober, so nothing too awkward has ever happened to me. I guess I would have to agree with Padraig, I totally fucked up a song and we had to just stop playing it half way through. The sound guy was such an asshole, when he was passing out wrist bands he said "so are you actually playing tonight?" He assumed I wasn't a musician because i'm a girl.



friday april 22 nyc/north hampton/ new haven?
sunday april 24 new york
tues april 26 baltimore/DC
wed april 27 pittsburgh



Thursday, November 26, 2015

We Reluctantly Review Adele's Album Breaking Record

I bought the new Adele album because why the fuck not, everybody else did. It's bold  and it's exciting and frankly, your grandmother would love it. And I like your grandmother so it's a win win for everybody.

Happy Thanksgiving. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Eleven Things I Learned Going on Micro-tour with Dead and Company

I learned that this latest incarnation of the Grateful Dead is a force to be reckoned with. I seriously had my doubts when I heard the band was teaming up with John Mayer (just like I did when they tabbed Trey to play the Fare Thee Well shows) but being at the shows in St. Louis and Minneapolis this weekend changed my attitude completely. 

I saw the Dead when they toured with Warren Haynes in 2004 and I left disappointed. The performance I saw lacked depth, feeling, and soul. The music was flat. I came to prefer Ratdog over Further, The Other Ones, and Phil and Friends. I wasn't cool with the choices to "replace Jerry" and basically swore off the Dead forever under the assumption that nobody would be able to create the sonic masterpieces that Jerry did. Well of course their music had become tattooed into my soul, and staying completely away from it was never a realistic option. 

John Mayer was an interesting choice for the lead guitar part, but now having seen him play, it all makes sense. Not only is he capable of hitting the notes in a soulful way with exceptional tone, he's also able to mark the songs with his own signature in a way that doesn't step on the toes of the songs themselves.  Plus his energy really seems to be combustible  - Bob Weir hasn't looked this young and vibrant in years, and it was great to see him smiling again and having fun.

I learned that Oteil Burbridge is a damn incredible bass player and I was reminded that Jeff Chimenti is a beast on keyboards. I also learned that Chimenti has been with the band for 13 years - making him the longest tenured keyboard player in the band's history. 

Phil Lesh never shook his ass when he played. Oteil does it every single night.

I realized that I miss the Bob Dylan songs the Dead used to play. Wish they'd mix one in now and again, especially when playing Minneapolis, which is Dylan's hometown.

I was reminded a Dead show is an ever-revolving guessing game. Knowing this, the band is extremely subtle about creating their set lists and often throw curve balls when doing so. For instance, where was "Big River" in St. Louis and/or Minneapolis? As much as it seems to be a no-brainer, the Dead ignored it - but not completely. Their performance of "Mexicali Blues" in Minneapolis is in itself is a nod to "Big River." Dead Heads know what I'm talking about.

I realized that Mickey Hart really has no value in the band other than the sounds he makes during Drums/Space. Billy Kreutzmann is more than capable of holding down the drum duties on his own, and while I understand that Hart is a renowned percussionist and a legend in his own right, he really seems secondary and unimportant in his role as a drummer for the Dead. (If you disagree, listen to anything the Dead did from 1971 through mid 1974 when Hart took hiatus from the band.) This is something that I've considered for several years but was validated this past weekend when somebody else brought it up in conversation.

I realized that cowboy boots are great to travel in because they are so easy to kick on and off. But by all means don't leave home with just cowboy boots. A comfortable pair of tennis shoes would have gone a long ways considering how much walking we did and how often I found myself standing in one place for long periods of time.

I learned about Reverb, a non-profit organization that is committed to keeping concert tours as green as possible. I volunteered to sell Nalgene water bottles to help raise money and awareness for this organization in exchange for free admission to the Minneapolis show. Reverb goes through the trash at the end of the night and separates recyclables from garbage that belongs in the landfill. They also go through garbage in the concession stands, removing leftover or thrown away food, and they turn it into compost. It was a great experience even though I missed the entire first set of the show and some of the second. (I could hear, just not watch.) I was given a kick-ass shirt for volunteering and it gave me an opportunity to hear the band sound check before the doors were opened to the public, and that was definitely cool. 

Water bottles for sale

I realized that getting stoned and trying to sell water bottles to strangers can be a very strenuous and difficult task. If given the opportunity, I won't make that mistake twice.

I learned that sometimes you get lucky and get travel companions that, even though you don't know them well - or even at all - they turn out to be the best travel companions in the history of the world. I'm not exactly sure what happened that put me in the same car as Trucker and Jezebel, but the stars must have been shining because it was PERFECT. Big thanks to those two for the 1400 miles of endless conversation and general feeling of togetherness. I actually felt like I was in a tribe. 

(I love you fuckers!)

I realized that the Dead are the last bastion of American rock and roll. No other band comes close to providing the experience you get when the Dead comes to town, and I would venture to say that no other fan base anticipates the music as much as Deadheads do. There's a reason people quit their jobs to join this circus, and while most regard that act as irresponsibility, it is a thing that happens and I totally get why it happens. 

I'm still trying to figure out a way to make the New Years Eve shows in Los Angeles a reality. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Psychedelic Pop Group AVERS To Play Vaudeville Mews on Wednesday

Avers, from Richmond, Virginia, kick off a tour tomorrow night and will be bringing their psychedelic bubblegum act to Des Moines on Wednesday. 

Since their release of debut album Empty Light in 2014, Avers has made quite the splash opening for The Foo Fighters, Real Estate, Tune-Yards, J. Roddy Walston & The Business, Cloud Control, and being invited to play SXSW, Hopscotch, and Austin City Limits. The Daily Beast dubbed Avers the "winners of SXSW" and the band made Esquire' Magazine's "10 Bands you need to know from SXSW."

From Daily Beast: Sounding reminiscent of a more melodic and put together Sonic Youth, the six-piece has the advantage of being comprised of veteran musicians. Drummer Tyler Williams is from indie folk darlings the Head and the Heart, and the instrument-trading, vocal-duty-sharing wall of five front folks are all heavy hitters in the Richmond music scene.

There's a ghostly psychedelia to their sound, reminiscent of the British garage pop that is currently sweeping across Europe. Melodic keyboards entwined with razor sharp guitar riffs set a serene background for the lofty vocals of whomever takes the lead on any certain song. Circling guitar notes flutter upward through the atmosphere like lazy smoke from a campfire. In an era when rock music has become over-produced and stale, Avers is writing and performing songs the way music was meant to written and performed. There's nothing prefabricated with Avers, just raw psychedelic power, trippy melodies and spectral vocals, all of which delightfully gets encircled within a melty dreamscape. 

Their sophomore album is set to be released this fall and their newly released single "Vampire" is quickly gaining the respect of music aficionados, radio stations and journalists alike as they embark on this new national tour. SXSW was a huge success for them, and now with a rejuvenated vigor, Avers is ready to show the world that they are a force to be reckoned with.

Avers will play at Vaudeville Mews on Wednesday, July 27 along with Leggy and Ramona and the Slimdudes. Show begins at 9:00.

Avers - Photo by Matt Cairns


Pertinent Links:

Avers on Facebook
Avers on Instagram
Avers on Twitter

Avers Official

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

And Now, A Damn Good Story About A Motorcycle Gang

In 2007 David Allen Coe played Boone, Iowa and I remember thinking it was a pretty big deal.

I had been living there for several years by that time and it seemed odd to have a country music legend playing in what amounted to being small town Iowa. The bars in Boone were pretty standard, with each having a steady stream of regulars who frequented the establishments at particular times during the day. 

Lynn's had the morning crowd which consisted mostly of railroaders who worked the overnight shift for Union Pacific. You had Wilson's across the street that maintained a steady rotation of bar dwellers from early in the morning until late into the night. Down around the corner you had Ooops! which was famous for it's greasy but delicious breakfasts. Out on the south side of town there was the night clubs and the restaurant bars. Boonies enjoyed drinking and like the creatures of habit that most of us are, they enjoyed drinking at the same places during the same times of each day. 

So when The Venue opened on the edge of town, it didn't cater to a huge populous of Boone's regular bar hoppers, as established drinkers weren't likely to stray far from the circuits they frequented. The Venue was huge by Boone's standards, built into an old abandoned warehouse. When it first opened it billed itself as a "Honkey Tonk" which is not a horrible thing, but it created a clientele that consisted of cowboys and farmers dubiously mixed in with the Affliction t-shirt wearing crowd. No woman in her right mind would go in there by herself without fear of something scary happening. The place was high on testosterone and low on common sense. 

The building was too big to build a crowd to capacity on weeknights, and even if there was 50-70 people there on the weekend, it seemed like a small crowd because of the excess space. Naturally, the owner needed a way to draw in larger crowds, so he built a stage in the wide open room and started booking national bands. 

It was a big deal to have David Allen Coe come to town, and the Boonies seemed pretty excited about it. I think Drowning Pool might have played The Venue along with a few other shitty radio bands of the time, but booking Coe seemed pretty big by Boone standards. 

Personally I was ecstatic  - My mother had played his records all throughout my childhood and I knew all his hits and most of his B-sides. In 2007 I had no idea that David Allen Coe was still touring, let alone willing to play a "small" bar in Boone, Iowa.

I bought a ticket and took the ride, as they say. 

It was a rainy night, I remember that. The lot hadn't been properly graveled and it was very muddy. There were several people who needed a tow by the end of the night. Interestingly, the heavy rain didn't deter a long line of motorcycles from being lined up near the entrance of the bar. 

I walked in and instantly caught a vibe I hadn't felt before. It was tense and dangerous, with a heavy anxiety settling over the pace. The bar looked tiny - it was absolutely packed to it's brim with bikers and cowboys, but mostly bikers. The Sons of Silence had always had a strong presence in Boone, and it seemed like the entire gang had made it out to this concert. People seemed unsure of one another, and I didn't feel particularly safe for reasons I wasn't quite familiar with. When people say that you can cut the tension with a knife, I know what they are talking about. It was THICK... like a cloud of danger and uncertainty. 

I bought a beer and found a spot where I could stand against the wall. I liked knowing that I had nobody behind me and that I could see peripherally across the room in case something were to happen. I just knew that something was about to happen, and I wanted to be see it coming, and escape the room if I felt the need to.

A friend walked by and I mentioned the tension to him. He told me that it was rumored that a rival motorcycle club was in town from out of state who had some unfinished business with the Sons of Silence (was it the Mongols?) and that there was likely to be a confrontation during the concert. More so, it was rumored that factions of that group were already in the building wearing plain clothes which would give them the element of surprise if there was going to be an attack. Having my back against the wall seemed like a very smart move at that point, but I was still dealing with a high level of uncertainty and the unsettling feeling of not being completely safe. I stood there waiting for the show to begin, cautiously eyeing the crowd, careful not to make eye contact with anybody for too long for fear of that person coming over and bruising my ego. I've never been in a tougher crowd in my life.

Suddenly the lights went down and the stage lights came on. The packed house moved as one, standing up and cheering for the show which was just about to begin. The band band came out oblivious to the tension, it seemed. 

Then Coe came walking out onto the stage to a thunderous roar. Very slowly he swaggered up to the front of the stage and stood staring out into the audience, as if he were looking for somebody he knew. Then, he plugged in his microphone and said, "Let's get one thing straight right now. I am the baddest mother fucker in this room, and if there's going to be any trouble here tonight, it starts up here on the stage with me!"

David Allen Coe clearly doesn't give many fucks.

Everybody in the crowd went nuts, and the tension in the room instantly thinned, as if somebody had let the air out of a balloon. There was no trouble to be had on that night, just good ol' bottle chucking honkey tonk country music. The biggest mishap occurred at the end of the night when people had to call a tow truck to yank their cars out of the muddy parking lot. 

Whether you like David Allen Coe or not, he is a hell of a showman, and this concert on a Wednesday night in Boone remains one of the more memorable performances that I've seen.

And I never did find out if the Mongols(?) were actually in Boone on September 19, 2007.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Afroman Puts Out Statement, Says He's Done Performing Live Concerts

The following statement was posted on Afroman's Facebook page on February 23rd. A video of what he calls a "slap" against a female fan who climbed on stage can be viewed at the bottom. 

I've been rapping professionally since the year 2000. Early in my career I have had problems with people jumping on stage grabbing the Mics , spilling beer , on equipment and ruining a show . I had a special clause put in my performance contracts that demands security watch stage and politely discourage anyone from jumping on stage. In my 15 years of performing I noticed once one person jumps on stage 100 people jump on stage. In 2007 I hired a CPA to do my taxes. I had several accounts . Before getting sign to Universal I worked regular jobs where the employers took the tax out before I received the check. After signing with universal everyone would give me the money upfront and it was my responsibility to take out the taxes. To help checks clear I would transfer money from time to time. The CPA I was using at the time didn't know that and she was counting the transfers as profit deposits. This was money I had in the bank already. To make a long story short she told the IRS I made over 700,000 that year . When it was more like 200,000. I tried to explain this to the IRS they told me to pay the tax on the 700,000 and they will give me a refund later. Frustrated because I was over taxed I took a deep breath and begin paying unfair over Tax which is still collecting interest might I add. Not to mention things are a lot slower than they was in 2001. Two divorces didn't help me none either. I got blessed one time and played six shows that paid me 10,000 each . The last show paid me 7,000.
On Dec-4-2011 the st Charles county police dept in Missouri pulled me over and took all of the money I earned from the shows. When I asked them why they claimed I was a drug dealer. I told them I was a Grammy nominated singer/rapper they chuckled and Stuck to their suspicions. Before I got pulled over I gave a couple thousand to my mom and use some for myself I was down to 64,000. The DEA reported 54,000 indicating to me that either the St. Charles Police Department or the DEA stole 10,000 unreported dollars from me. Lloyd Cueto a lawyer I hired at the time took the DEA all of my tax records , and tax returns , musician plaques verification that I am a taxpaying working citizen of the United States verifying I made two to $300,000 a year legitimizing why I might have $64,000 of cash on me. After all of that the DEA refuses to give me my hard earned money back. Since I owed back taxes I figured the DEA would turn the money over to the IRS. The IRS fully aware that the DEA is illegally holding money and that they illegally robbed from me on the side of the 70 freeway 12-4-11. yet and still the IRS refuses to ask the DEA for the money. One branch of the government is telling me to pay my taxes the other branch of the government is Robbing the money I'm trying to pay my taxes with. I have been working hard trying to pay off the IRS and get my money back from the DEA. I keep the faith like all will work out in due time , but it's 5 or 6 years later interest is rising with the IRS while the DEA continues to read a newspaper and ignore the fact they have rob me for my money. The DEA never pressed charges . They just kept my money . I am working too hard for a crooked government . My patience has become short and I am losing my mind. I don't care if I pay the IRS or not. If they really want a payment they can take the money that the DEA stole from me. While I was paying unfair taxes working for the IRS I was also getting frustrated at a lack of security at a lot of my shows. We go over everything over and over again on the phone then when I performing the whole crowd jumps on the stage pours beer all over everything and I have to buy equipment the next day instead of make a profit. I figured everything would come together in due time I underestimated the frustration and anger in my life coming from everywhere and I tried to work and make everything work out. In my frustrating ambitious efforts ,the IRS , DEA , lack of security and other pressures in my life have busted my pipes to the point where I have disrespected another human being twice.
IT WAS A SLAP/PUSH !!! And she quickly recovered. This situation is still bad however I must clarify its not as bad as lying news publications would have you believe.
The incident with the guy in Cincinnati did not happen the next night like mediatakeout lied and said it did . It happened last year. is a fake afroman site
Ran by an anonymous stranger just like @afromanmusic is on Twitter that is a fake account ran by an anonymous stranger. My real twitter is @ogafroman. My actual website is
Young lady I do not know your name
I want to truly apologize for slapping you. I understand if you never forgive me ever.
Young man whoever you are I want to apologize again for throwing you off stage. I understand if you never ever forgive me also .
I just got accepted into a anxiety anger mgt class . I start Friday .
I no longer have the desire to perform for people . I will continue to record I will continue to make albums I will continue to make videos I will continue to make movies .
Forgive me my debts as I forgive my debtors . I want to thank all the fans that forgave me . At one point I hated Ofc. Wilson now I am Ofc. Wilson or catching a similar fraction of the type of hate he caught
Don't hate because you might become the victim of your own hate. 

What do YOU think?