Friday, April 18, 2014

THE SANTA FE OPRY PLAYLIST


Santa Fe Opry Facebook BannerFriday, April 18, 2014 
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM 
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10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time 
Host: Steve Terrell 
101.1 FM
email me during the show! terrel(at)ksfr.org

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TERRELL'S TUNE-UP: John the Conquerer's Rockin' Trickster Blues

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
April 18, 2014


You might think that the name of the band John the Conqueror, whose new album The Good Life I've been enjoying lately, sounds familiar. 
As a matter of fact, anyone who has ever heard Muddy Waters or the endless supply of lesser mortals sing "Hoochie Coochie Man" has heard the phrase "High John the Conquerer" (or, sometimes, "Conqueroo"). 
But unless you're somewhat acquainted with the ways of the hoodoo, you might not realize what exactly that is.
So before we get into the music, let's have a little lesson in culture. 
There's a reason Muddy mentioned High John in the same breath as his black cat bone and his mojo in that song. Here's what Papa Jim, a San Antonio mail-order voodoo merchant (and, according to some of his old catalogs, "a true man of God"), has to say on his website about the "Hi John the Conqueror" root:
* The most famous of all Voodoo roots. Carry with you at all times to help remove and conquer all obstacles in your path.
* Carry in a green bag for good luck, money drawing and power over others. Anoint daily with John the Conqueror Oil.
* Attract a specific lover by carrying this root and a lock of hair from the one you desire in a Red Flannel bag anointed with Attraction Oil.
* A fantastic good luck charm when kept in your pocket while gambling.
* Carry in your pocket to offset moods of depression and confusion.
THIS HERB IS NOT SOLD FOR THERAPEUTIC, MEDICINAL, OR COSMETIC USE, AND IS NOT TO BE CONSUMED.
That last line has to be for the benefit of the Food and Drug Administration.
So who was High John, for whom this root is named? Zora Neale Hurston wrote that he was an archetypal trickster found in myth and folklore. According to an essay in Hurston's collection The Sanctified Church, John started out as "a whisper, a will to hope, a wish to find something worthy of laughter and song. " 
However, he soon became "a man in full, and had come to live and work on the plantations, and all the slave folks knew him in the flesh. ... Old Massa couldn’t know, of course, but High John de Conquer was there walking his plantation like a natural man. He was treading the sweat-flavored clods of the plantation, crushing out his drum tunes, and giving out secret laughter."
Like Jimmy Dean said, "It's hard to get the best of a man named John."
So it's a whisper, a man, a root, a magic charm, and now a Jimi Hendrix-influenced, blues-soaked rock 'n' soul band from Philadelphia, whose members are young enough to be Muddy's grandchildren and have roots in Mississippi. That's a strong claim to stake, but deep in the grooves of The Good Life, I hear some real potential — not to mention some good drum tunes and secret laughter.
The band is fronted by a singer, guitarist, and songwriter named Pierre Moore. Along with drummer Michael Gardner, he moved from Oxford, Mississippi — first to Atlanta, where they were in an " Afro-punk" group called The Slack Republic — before moving to to the City of Brotherly Love. They hooked up with bassist Ryan Lynn to form John the Conqueror. Their self-titled debut album was released in 2011.
For the new record, J the C added the bassist's brother, Steve Lynn, on keyboards on some tracks. But that's not the biggest change I hear in their basic blues-rock attack. 
Moore's songs are stronger than they were on the first album. In an interview with That Music, Moore said that every song here comes from "a personal story of ours." And just about every story is interesting.
He writes what he knows, and he seems to know a lot about drinking, drugging, sex, and being a troublesome kid. In the stories he tells, Moore often presents himself as a modern variation on the trickster/hero archetype, perhaps a contemporary Hoochie Coochie Man. He doesn’t actually tell tales of voodoo, though in his guitar you can here echoes of Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile.”
On “Golden Rule” Moore sings about being an unruly kid testing the boundaries of his strict mother. “I picked up a cigarette butt and my butt got the belt,” he recalls. Mama warns, “I brought you in this world, and I’ll sho’ 'nuff take you out/if I ever see another cigarette hangin’ out your mouth.” But that’s not the only time he faces the wrath of Mama. One day she leaves work early: “She opened up my door and found a naked girl in my room,” he sings.
That’s not the only naked girl we encounter on this album. 
In “She Said,” a song about cocaine, Moore sings, “just met this girl and I not know why she’s naked lyin’ on my floor.” And on the cautionary tale “Daddy’s Little Girl,” it’s not his mama that Moore has to worry about. “When you mess with Daddy’s little girl you’re gonna see/Just how crazy that man can be.” It’s a slow-moving, minor-key song with Moore’s stinging guitar and Gardner’s drums building the tension throughout.
There’s even more youthful debauchery in “Mississippi Drinkin’.” Moore sings that he and his his friends were boozing it up in some field. “It seemed like a good idea until our downtown party went downhill.” One dumb kid pulls a gun out of his pocket, but luckily he doesn’t hit anyone when he shoots it. Later, Moore and cronies are drinking in some juke joints. “Well, it’s cheap enough I ended up wearing nothin’ but my boots.”
Moore wrote all the songs but one — a cool, rocking cover of Randy Newman's "Let's Burn Down the Cornfield." This might be the best Newman cover since Joe Cocker bellowed out "You Can Leave Your Hat On" all those decades ago.
I can’t guarantee that this incarnation of John the Conqueror will bring you luck in gambling or romance, but I can see how it would be a darn good soundtrack when you’re setting out to do those things. 
Video Time:
Here's J the C doing a live version of "She Said"

Sunday, April 13, 2014

TERRELL'S SOUND WORLD PLAYLIST


Terrell's Sound World Facebook BannerSunday, April 13, 2014 
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M. 
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time 
Host: Steve Terrell
Webcasting!
101.1 FM
email me during the show! terrell(at)ksfr.org

 OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
God is a Bullet by Concrete Blonde
Albuquerque Freakout by Holy Wave
Do the Vibrate by The Black Lips
Run Through the Jungle by Link Wray
Move Your Arse by A Pony Named Olga
Bomba na Parliament by Kult
Godzilla's a Punk by The 99ers

Prince Minsky's Lament by Chuck E. Weiss
I'll Be Back by Question Mark & The Mysterians 
Waking Up. To You by John the Conqueror
Contraption/Soul Desert by Thee Oh Sees
Make You Wild by Lynx Lynx
She's Lookin' Good by Jack Mack & The Heart Attack
Champagne Halloween by St. Paul & The Broken Bones
Sit with the Guru by Strawberry Alarm Clock

Joe Bonner by The Gluey Brothers
Funky Old Man by Bobby Rush
Switched to Drinkin' Gin by Mojo JuJu
Double Old Soul by Busy McCarroll
Blues from Phyllis by Flamin' Groovies
Baby I Know What It's Like to Be Alone by Dex Romweber Duo

Distant Fingers by Patti Smith
Hare Krishna Mantra by The Radha Krsna Temple
Hard Krsna by Husker Du
The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing by The Persuasions 
Afflicted by Charles Brimmer 
We Belong Together by Rickie Lee Jones
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

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Friday, April 11, 2014

THE SANTA FE OPRY PLAYLIST


Santa Fe Opry Facebook BannerFriday, April 11, 2014 
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM 
Webcasting! 
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 
101.1 FM
email me during the show! terrel(at)ksfr.org
 OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
Lone Road Home by Wayne Hancock
Love is a Battlefield by Gal Holiday
Bright Lights and Country Music by Rhonda Vincent
The Only Other Person in the Room by Brennen Leigh & Noel McKay
Hard Rain's Gonna Fall by The Waco Brothers with Paul Burch
For All That Ails You by Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs
Hippievile by Alvie Self
One Sided Love Affair by Dex Romweber Duo
Say Darlin' Say by The Dirt Daubers

Beedle Um Bum by Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks withJim Kweskin 
Cowboy's Dream #19 by Floyd Domino & Maryann Price
Diddie Wah Diddie by Leon Redbone
Richland Woman by David Johansen & The Harry Smiths
Anything Goes at a Rooster Show by The Imperial Rooster
St. James Infirmary by The Pine Hill Haints
The Band Keeps Playin' On by Buck Owens
Beautiful Blue Eyes by Red Allen & The Kentuckians
Answer the Phone by Ernest Tubb

Sleight of Hand by Country Blues Revue
Off the Grid by Boris McCutcheon & The Salt Licks
Together Again by Jono Manson
Continental Divide Waltz by Sid Hausman & Washtub Jerry
Broken Moon by Rob Nikolewski
Hidin' Out in Espanola by Broomdust Caravan

Mrs. Hank Williams by Fred Eaglesmith
Baby Ride Easy by Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash
Wilderness of This World by Terry Allen
Take These Chains From My Heart by John Doe & The Sadies
Loneliness is Eating Me Alive by Merle Haggard
Pills Beneath Her Pillow by Possessed By Paul James
Are You Sincere by Bobby Bare
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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TERRELL'S TUNEUP: Good Crop of Local Music

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
April 11, 2014


Here’s a look at some albums by local, or pretty-close-to-local musicians I’ve been enjoying in recent weeks (and some I’ve gotten my hands on only in recent days.)

* Might Crash! by Boris McCutcheon & The Salt Licks. I’ll get right to the point: this is the best Boris album in years. Maybe even his best yet, though I’ve still got a real fondness for Cactusman Versus The Blue Demon from 2005.

McCutcheon is a decent singer but an even better songwriter, and some of the tunes on Might Crash! immediately knocked me in the head. I’m talking about “Booze Farm,” a drunken, bluegrassy fantasy featuring Salt Lick Brett Davis on banjo. “Come on girl, let’s start a booze farm,” he sings. McCutcheon’s bio says he has made a living as a farmer, but it doesn’t say whether or not he’s been a booze farmer.

The title song flirts with rockabilly as well as Roger Miller. “How do you know when you might crash? Do you get that look in your eye? Do you start getting ugly with your kids? Do you start hatin’ your life?”

“This Town Is Dead,” co-written with McCutcheon’s Frogville Records crony Bill Palmer (who co-produced Might Crash!) is a slow, pretty country lament about stagnation. “Dirty needles floatin’ down the ditch/I’m stuck in limbo with a traveling itch,” McCutcheon moans. “This casino sucks, I want my money back.”

But the real showstopper on this record is a near-five-minute foreboding dirge called “Off the Grid.” It’s a portrait of some Northern New Mexico residents who live “up the mountains, over the cliff and off the grid” among “shattered panels and some old golf-cart batteries from the '70s.” McCutcheon sings as if he’s stumbled upon some post-apocalyptic world: “They’re all hiding up here, they’re all hoping the world will end.” The singer doesn’t exactly condemn what he sees, but he doesn’t romanticize it, either.

* Live Frogville Sessions by Country Blues Revue. Like the title says, this album, the second by this group led by singer/guitarist Marc Malin and harp tooter “Harmonica” Mike Handler was recorded live
before a studio audience at Frogville Studios in Santa Fe. I was planning on attending one of the two nights it was recorded last December, but something came up and I didn’t. I suspected this would happen, and indeed it did: listening to the CD makes me regret missing this party even more than I already did. The album is full of foot-stomping, good-time American music, predominantly blues but with lots of New Orleans-style R & B, some Dixieland, and, yes, a little country mixed in.

Though it normally operates as a quartet, for the Frogville session the CBR grew into a small army, with a horn section, Brant Leeper on piano, David Barclay Gomez (of Felix y Los Gatos) on accordion, and Dave Devlin on steel guitar. On a few tunes there are some out-of-town guests: Roberta Donnay and Daria, The Lickettes in the most recent incarnation of Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks. They’re at their Lickettiest on the songs “I Can’t Give Up on You” and “The Writing Is on the Wall.”

At this writing, my favorite tune is “Sleight of Hand,” a primitive blues that features a guitar hook similar to Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightning” and a slightly muffled sound that suggests it’s coming from an old AM car radio on some dark and lonesome backwoods road.

* Angels From the Other Side by Jono Manson. For the last 20-plus years he’s been in Santa Fe, Manson’s basic music attack has not changed much, and that’s definitely not a bad thing. With a Jono album, you always can count on listenable, frequently catchy tunes — some of which stick in your brain for hours at a time — sturdy blues rockers, sweet, soulful ballads, and maybe a little country. This album is no exception.

Listening to Angels in my car on a long drive recently, it occurred to me that, unlike so much of the other music I like, there is little if any darkness on this album. And while it’s certainly not devoid of humor, there is not much at all in the way of underlying irony or sarcasm. The lyrics are pretty much all straightforward and sincere. And most of it is outright happy. It was pretty refreshing, actually.

That being said, one of my favorite songs here is the saddest one on the album. “The Frame” is about some kind of family tragedy, the details of which are left to the listener’s imagination. It starts out with the narrator looking at an old photo of a happy young couple with a little girl. “No one was to blame, but everything was changin’/I guess you wouldn’t know, because the picture doesn’t show what’s just outside the frame."

“Angelica” is a strange ode to a singer’s guardian angel/muse, “a tired angel behind these eyes,” while “Honky Tonk in My Mind,” despite its title, isn’t really a country song. It’s an upbeat bar-band rocker on which Manson laments, "I can’t forget you but I bet you never would have left me if only you had met me in the honky tonk in my mind.” But if it’s “country” you want, there’s “Together Again” – no, not the Buck Owens hit. It’s a song about a family reunion with some tasty mandolin by former Santa Fe resident John Egenes. And unlike so many songs of this ilk, this family isn’t dysfunctional.

* Blue Horizon by Sid Hausman & Washtub Jerry. I’ve been a fan of Hausman’s music for more decades than either of us would want me to say. Hausman is a poet and a picker (who in recent years has become a strong partisan for the tenor ukulele as well as the guitar and banjo) with a fondness for Western swing and songs from singing-cowboy cinema.

Indeed, if Hollywood still made such movies, Hausman could be a singing-cowboy star. He’s got the look, and the music comes natural to him. In fact, some of the best songs on this new album have cowboy-movie roots. “Ridin’ Down the Canyon” was written in 1934 by Smiley Burnette (“Gene Autry’s sidekick,” the liner notes explain), while “Grand Canyon Trail” and “Night Time in Nevada” are from Roy Rogers movies. My favorite song here, however, is a Hausman original called “Only in Texas.” Hausman sings, “Now only in Texas, rattlesnakes have highway exits." Ace fiddler Ollie O’Shea, who plays on several songs on the album, really shines on this one.

One slight quibble: “The New Ragtime Cowboy Joe” basically is the same as the old “Ragtime Cowboy Joe,” except that the “son of a gun from Arizona” has been transformed into a “buckaroo from New Mexico.” Come on Sid, you’re messing with sacred scripture here!

Hear this music on the radio: I’ll be playing selections from the albums by Boris McCutcheon, Country Blues Revue, Sid Hausman & Washtub Jerry, and Jono Manson on The Santa Fe Opry, which starts at 10 p.m. Friday on Santa Fe public-radio station 101.1 KSFR-FM and streaming at www.ksfr.org.