Thanks to April from NowThisSound and Charlie from Old Gray Mule!

BONUS! Merle Haggard on The Waltons

Mac DeMarco - Rock and Roll Night Club

Is it just me or does this scream David Bowie? Maybe a better question is do I really care? Regardless Mac DeMarco (aka Makeout Videotape) is on to something here with a contemporary twist on some soulful glam-rock that defies time. From the opening title track the foundation for the entire EP is set in place with Demarco's cheeky baritone vocals taking center stage.

Rock And Roll Night Club is full of the type of swagger that made the afore mentioned star shine. I mean look at that picture for the cover and then you have half of the history of glam rock. That said this sound has a somewhat later take on Bowie. Young Americans in particular stands as a reference point, albeit filtered through... well Mac Demarco seemingly having a lot of fun. At least we're able to go along for the ride.

Last Nights Presents: United Waters / New Monuments / Zaimph / Decimus

The New Monuments
United Waters

Thursday December 8th
Shea Stadium 20 Meadow St. Brooklyn NY
8pm | $8 | All Ages

RVSP on Facebook here


 You might have seen a couple videos from Deep Blues Festival 2009 of the a-fkn-mazing Black Diamond Heavies show (which features a reunion with guitar Buddha Mark "Porkchop" Holder as they cover Nutbush City Limits and Paul Wine Jones' Guess I Gone and Fucked It All Up!).

At 9pm EST on December 7th, 2011 
will be streaming the Black Diamond Heavies show in it's entirety.
Mark your calendars, kids!

Tom Greenwood - West Coast Tour & new 7"

Fire Records is releasing a new 7" featuring two songs written and adapted by the trio of Tom Greenwood, Joanne Robertson, & David Cunningham. People may be familiar with these folks from their various musical travels, Greenwood being the principle songwriter and leader of avant-folk group Jackie-O Motherfucker, Robertson's own solo wanderings, & Cunningham's significant production work with groups such as This Heat along with his gallery arts sound practice.

According to the press release "These songs were formed from an inspired evening session of improvising and recording in London in June 2008, at the brick lane studio of David Cunningham. The three musicians were woking together on a performance event at the ICA in London that week, and took the opportunity to try tracking some songs together." And try they did succeeding in the creation of a slow moving musical environment that suits these artists perfectly.

In support of the 7" Tom Greenwood is heading out on a two week solo tour of the west coast this December. The tour will consist of shows beginning in Seattle, WA and down towards Los Angeles, CA. You can check out the current dates below. The shows will consist of classic JOMF material and more recent Greenwood songs and adaptations.

12/2 - Seattle, WA - Vera Project@
12/3 - Tacoma, WA - The Den
12/4 - Olympia, WA - The Guesthouse
12/5 - Woodland, WA - Blackbird Farm
12/6 - Portland, OR - Valentines
12/8 - Davis, CA - Villa Nova ^
12/9 - San Jose, CA - Anno Domini Gallery ^
12/10 - San Francisco, CA - Needles & Pens *
12/11 - San Francisco, CA - Adobe Books*
12/16 - Los Angeles, CA - Synchronicity Space*
12/17 - Los Angeles, CA - Human Resources #

@ Pterodactyl
^ w/ Sun Foot
* w/ Strawberry Smog
# w/ Tara Jane Oneil

LiTTLE JOE AYERS Brings that Mississippi Hill-Country Sound BACKATCHYA!

 A conglomerate (kəŋˈɡlɒmərɨt/
is a rock consisting of individual clasts within a finer-grained matrix that have become cemented together.

Earl "Little Joe Ayers is a conglomeration of Junior Kimbrough, R.L. Burnside, T-Model Ford, Son House, and Little Joe Ayers.
 .44 (I Wore My .44 So Long) by DevilDownRecords

     Backatchya was recorded on
the front porch of the home of former R.L. Burnside guitarist Kenny Brown. It was recorded by Reed Turchi (Devil Down Records boss) and mixed in Memphis at the famed Ardent Studios. Ayers sounds like he's in the room with you as you listen. 

    Ayers brings a firm and strong, yet almost pretty, touch to the guitar. Where Junior Kimbrough got weird with one chord, R.L. Burnside was groovin' and dirty, and T-Model is slashin' and rubbing, Ayers' picking is tough and lovely. Ayers played bass for Kimbrough for years so covers of Junior abound on Backatchya, but played in Ayers' deft,  well-picked style. Little Joe Ayers sounds best to me sitting at my desk, the volume not too high, so I can really hear him. Vinyl would be even better.  It makes me listen to what he's playing and really hear just how good he is.  But you have to be able to slow down, come sit and listen to him.  I think you'll be moved.

Don't Leave Me Baby by DevilDownRecords 

PS- Kudos to Devil Down Records
Each of their releases are worthy of your money.

Master Musicians of Jajouka & Sol Rel Sol records

The Master Musicians of Jajouka - Brian Jones by S. S./ Sol Re Sol Records

I'm totally excited to see some prime recordings of The Master Musicians of Jajouka back in print by way of The Primal Energy That Is The Music And Ritual Of Jajouka, Morocco. The track above Brian Jones, written for no other than the former Rolling Stone himself, is an upbeat groover that fans of some contemporary international musicians such as Group Doueh or Omar Souleyman will dig into, though it's worth noting that the Musicians of Jajouka have been on the radar of the underground and international scene since their first recordings with Brian Jones.

The album is being released by Sol Re Sol which SS Records has announced to be their new subsidiary. The new imprint will allow the people behind SS to step away from their avant rock and into the world and all the music that comes with it. As such the internationally inclined label has set it sights on delivering some first class tunes from around the globe that "fans of Sublime Frequencies, Mississippi Records, the Nonesuch Explorer series, Ocura Records, and the Ethnic Folkways series" will love. Combine that with the label's direct use of the constructed language of the same name.

The Master Musicians of Jajouka's Primal Energy album is available now from Sol Re Sol.


Thx Karen Abney Korn!


Sian Alice Group have announced they've called it quits with the members going their separate ways.
The news comes after releasing 2 full-lengths albums 59.59 and Troubled, Shaken Etc. , each of which are double disc sets respectively, and some odds and ends. The path for former core members Ben Crook and Sian Ahern is thus far EAUX. The sound of which judging by the two demos provided on their site continue with what their fans know and love about the group. A distinctly British sound designed for moments of introspection, with Sian's dramatic voice leading you through it.

Stay tuned to EAUX's tumblr for more updates and future music.

Last Nights on Facebook


So I recently decided to start a facebook and post some more informal status updates there. The occasional show reminder, some videos blast from the present/future/past, or perhaps a recipes to go along with records. Who knows the internet is the limit at this point folks.

You can check it out here and "like" it if you will.

LastNights: Spectre Folk / Colin L. Orchestra / Images Tonight Nov. 21st

Flier by Scott Ryan Davis
Hey those of you in the Brooklyn area should be sure to check this show out tonight. Colin L. Orchestra will be getting the evening started allowing the early birds to weep the rewards while the late comers try to catch up.

Colin L. Orchestra (ex USAISAMONSTER)

Monday, November 21st
Death By Audio
49 S. 2nd Street Brooklyn, NY
8:30pm | $7

RVSP on Facebook here

Mr. Waters gets his hair done.


Today In History: Bo Diddley Appears On Ed Sullivan - Nov. 20th 1955

Born Ellas Otha Bates in McComb, Mississippi, in 1928, the man better known as Bo Diddley introduced himself and his namesake beat to the world on this day in 1955 with his television debut on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Bo Diddley opened his appearance on Ed Sullivan with the eponymously titled song "Bo Diddley,". This now-famous number set portions of the children's rhyme "Mockingbird" to what is now known as "the Bo Diddley beat"—a syncopated rhythm in 4/4 time that is the foundation of such rock-and-roll classics as Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away" 

and the Stangeloves' "I Want Candy," 

among countless others. Five months before Elvis Presley would make his famous Ed Sullivan debut, Diddley's performance gave many Americans their first exposure to rock and roll, though that term was not yet familiar to mainstream audiences. Neither was the Bo Diddley beat, yet within just a few seconds of the drum-and-maraca opening of "Bo Diddley,"

the live Ed Sullivan audience can be heard spontaneously clapping along to the distinctive rhythm in the surviving kinescope recording of the performance.
As Diddley would later tell the story, Ed Sullivan had expected him to perform only a cover version of "Tennessee" Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons" 

and was furious enough with him for opening with "Bo Diddley" that Sullivan banned him from future appearances on his show. 

Be that as it may, Diddley's appearance on this day in 1955 introduced a sound that would influence generations of followers. As blues-rock artist George Thorogood—who performed and recorded many Bo Diddley covers during his own career—once told Rolling Stone: "[Chuck Berry's] 'Maybellene' is a country song sped up... 'Johnny B. Goode' is blues sped up. But you listen to 'Bo Diddley,' and you say, 'What in the Jesus is that?'"

Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning

Matthew 25 - NiV

The Parable of the Ten Virgins
 1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

  7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.

 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

  9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

 10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

   12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

   13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.


Dig The New Sound of DEADLY LO-Fi


R.L. Burnside's Sons do the Hambone

R.L. BURNSiDE and Family: Boogie Instrumental - 1978

R.L. Burnside with family at home in Independence, Mississippi, shot by Alan Lomax, Worth Long, and John Bishop in August, 1978

Making me loud and proud - 1980-f

It is always a brilliant feeling when you hear someone perform your music! I love this exuberant performance, the conductor keeping it vigorous and everyone having a ball, lovely...

Just in case you're wondering, this is what the original sounded like, 1980-f from After The Fire.


Last Night Presents: Beer Damage / Earn / Mirror To Mirror / Civilian Device

Flier by Aviram Cohen

Beer Damage
(Pete Swanson [ex Yellow Swans] + Brian Sullivan [ Mouthus ] )

Sunday November 20th
20 Meadow Street
9pm | $7 | All Ages

RSVP on Facebook here


MiSSiSSiPPI MEETS MANHATTAN: Robert Belfour and T-Model Ford Do New York

 An olde show review from two-thousand-ought-seven by Matt Rogers:

"The Black Keys? I ain't never met 'em. I ain't scared of 'em, though." When reminded that he had indeed met "those two white boys from Ohio," T-Model responded: "They play a different style of music. I'm playing the hard blues, and they can't play that. They play rock, and I don't like rock. They wants my style. Don't you think they don't now."

And so four days after the much-hyped Black Keys blasted a sold-out Mercury Lounge, Fat Possum label-mates T-Model Ford and Robert "Wolfman" Belfour gave the same venue a lesson in straight-up Mississippi blues.
The thickly sideburned Mr. Belfour, clad elegantly in slick brown suit, matching top hat and fat gold rings, assumed the catbird seat first. With the help of his "RPB"-initialed steel-string acoustic guitar and a heavy fuzztone amp, the elder Wolfman masterfully finger-picked originals from his latest release, "Pushin' My Luck," (e.g. "Black Mattie") and classic covers (e.g. "Baby Please Don't Go," which he declared was the first song he learned when he was 7) while howling about women who wouldn't cook after a hard day's work or had left yet again with a best friend.

Throughout the hour-long set the retired construction worker rocked forward and back, tapping his foot hard while he forcefully strummed, his booming hill-country sound — part Howlin' Wolf, part Lightnin' Hopkins — interrupted only by sips of J.D. chased by Bud, and a late busted string.
Hence, we were nicely awash with raw Mississippi lament when the 80-year-old T-Model Ford, dressed-down in jeans and ball cap, hobbled with his cane to center stage. Once sitting he adjusted his glasses, smiled and greeted the main inspiration for his music: "Hello, ladies. If y'all ain't never seen him, this is T-Model Ford. And I'm the blues man. And that's fo' sho'!" And with that he picked up his electric black Peavey Razor, which looked like it might have belonged to Eddie Van Halen when he was hot for teacher; smiled again at the twenty somethings lined in front; then signaled with a yelp for his longtime drummer Spam to begin the steady four-beat march of the duo's crunching boogie-woogie style.
This was music full of hootin' and hollerin', foot-stomping blues meant to help sweat any sorrow out of your system.

This was T-Model's brand of Viagra, as he wiggled and squirmed in his chair, massaging the metallic twang from his "Black Nanny" with nimble chords and finger-picking as if he were working one of his previous five wives, all the while his eyes gleaming and grinning at the ladies shaking it before him.

A shout of "It's Jack Daniels time!" punctuated the end of each song, and then he'd reach down for his cup. His two-hour set was relentless (and by his standards short; back home he regularly plays eight hours straight), filled with favorites like "Chickenhead Man" and "To the Left to the Right," and gradually wore down the younger generations until the self-proclaimed "tail-dragger from Greenville, Mississippi," was nearly dancing alone, still ready to get it on. And that's fo' sho'!

STEPPENWOLF - Ballcrusher + Pusherman

HOWLiN' WOLF - Live - 1970

U.S. Girls - "Island Song" video & new Label

U.S. Girls has been coming out of the underground, or tape murk if you will, with a more streamlined approach to her song craft. The Island Song & it's compellingly beautiful video shot & directed by Megan Remy herself give a pretty indication of her departure. She is keeping the tape hiss to a bare minimum allowing the arrangement to naturally unfold being propelled by some almost new wave synth textures.

To go with the updated attitude and eyes for production detail Remy has released a new LP on Kraak and launched her own label Calico Corp. For the label's first offerings they have provided a single for "The Island Song", which is taken from the full-length LP U.S. Girls on Kraak, & another 7" for Slim Twig. All three releases are available now.

We remember them - may angels lead you in

May angels lead you in,
Hear you me my friends,
On sleepless roads the sleepless go,
May angels lead you in.

From the song Hear You Me by Jimmy Eat World


Kudzu Jesus, Mississippi

A little something I made last night...

Last Nights Presents: Spectre Folk / Colin L. Orchestra / Images

Happy to announce an upcoming Last Nights show this Monday, November 21st at Death By Audio in Brooklyn, NY. The night will see Spectre Folk, Colin L. Orchestra, & Images hit the stage for a special night of some laid back psychedelic jammers.

Pete Nolan (aka Spectre Folk) and his band have been on a winning streak as of the last year or so. The band's ferocious appetite for playing out as often as possible has seen Spectre Folk grow into a live band not to be missed around Brooklyn and New York as a whole, which can be a city gorged with talent. If one is to combine the live show with their recorded output of Nolan/the band then it becomes obvious why Fader called them a "New York supergroup".

Some may know Colin Langenus from his time as one half of USAISAMONSTER but his work with the Orchestra is a different matter. Justin Farrar wrote for the Village Voice that the Colin L. Orchestra are "big band that produces a cloudy blend of classic rock, country folk, and Rhys Chatham-inspired minimalism." Letting their hair way down the group loosely work their way the tunes at hand allowing some inspiration to lead the way.

Though keeping a low profile in recent memory Images will be making a special appearance. The show is set to be the first live show since playing Creepy Teepee in the Czech Republic this past summer and haven't played NY since this past spring, which coincidentally also with Spectre Folk. A new album titled Know What I Mean, created as a duo version of the group, has recently been finished with it's release details TBA.

Spectre Folk
Colin L. Orchestra

Monday, November 21st
Death By Audio
49 S. 2nd Street Brooklyn, NY
8:30pm | $7

RVSP on Facebook here

Armistice Day reflection - to end all wars...

Written November 11th 1941

Twenty three years ago today an armistice was signed terminating the war to end wars. This wearying battle had, during its four years course, drawn in practically the whole globe, each nation state sending the best of their youths to die an ignoble and ignominious death. Today we normally hold a commemoration service for those “glorious” dead. But now, for the last twenty six months, the whole of Europe has been struggling in sordid strife once more to end wars for ever. Today the flower of our youth is again expiating the follies of age by their blood and their lives.

It behoves us to examine the positives. Whereas in 1918 we had won the war, today we are faced with the far greater part of our struggle before us. Yet, perhaps looking, we are potentially in a better situation. In 1918 having won the war we finally lost the peace by inaction, our lack of foresight and our unwillingness to cope with reality. Briefly the results of the overwhelming fatigue which follow the strenuous activity of the war. Then we settled down to enjoy a millennium, an everlasting peace which, as day succeeded day month following, gradually seemed to fade until perhaps some 15 years (on) we slowly realised that the dawning of the long looked for day had yet again receded into the dim and distant future.

Today, however, we must realise that without action, without our own individual effort, that peace will never come. The position we found ourselves in 1938 was not due to any economical principles, it was not the result of our Labour governments, the General Strike, or the (banking) collapse in 1931, or disarmament or the Versailles Treaty. No, it was a result of our own “laissez faire” policy with regard to our individual effort. However small our intellectual stature may be, we are fundamentally the basis by which not only the domestic policy but the foreign policy of our government is determined. Many people infer that policies do not include them, they leave such things to parliament, forgetting that they control the mandate which determines the future outlook of all parliaments.

Douglas George Banks 1920 – 1989 written in 1941

Earn - A Following Shadow LP, Tour, & Last Nights show

It's a pleasure seeing the metamorphosis some musicians have undergone in recent years from harsh noise into new calmer terrain. Luminaries that readily spring to mind are group's such as Animal Collective or Black Dice, each arriving at their own respective sound. Matthew Sullivan aka Earn has taken the same journey arriving at something totally different than said mentioned artists and what may be the extreme opposite of his previous work as Privy Seals. What results is one of the highlights of modern day ambient music.

Ambient may be a poor word/genre choice though because as the press release for his new record A Following Shadow makes clear there is a definite emotional bent underscoring the compositions, and yes the work feels like a composition not an obvious electronic improv. Possibly looking towards works William Basinki's Disintegration Loops or Eno's classic ambient albums. Which isn't a comparison to be ashamed of.

Earn is undertaking a national tour for the release, via PPM records. The tour is not only for the release of A Following Shadow. It is also for the release of two other albums the first by tour-mate Mirror To Mirror's Here You Leave Today, via Jugular Forest, & a collaborative album between the two. The collaborative effort enlists some possible postmodernist black-humor in the group title as 1958-2009, an homage of sorts to the late Michael Jackson.

The outing includes a Last Nights organized show at Shea Stadium this Sunday November 20th along with Pete Swanson (ex-Yellow Swans) + Brian Sullivan (Mouthus, United Waters) & Civilian Device. As I've mentioned before I'm looking forward to witnessing Swanson & Sullivan's meeting as it isn't to be missed along with the special talents of each musician.

Earn's A Following Shadow is available Nov. 15th., while Mirror To Mirror's Here You Leave Today is available now.

World War 2 aircrew training - ideas and ideals

Entry 8 - February 2nd

It is a pity that man should be born containing the essence of genius and yet be inarticulate. Cannot we find means of expression to convey our ideas and ideals, our visions and our dreams to the rest of the community? Within the soul of every man are conceptions of beauty and vivid ideals and yet, for the greater part, we fail to set them forth to the world in all their glory. This failure leads to the suppression of our better instincts and our outward actions, frustrated and repressed, bear hatred, recrimination and evil. Thus, although my literacy limits the horizon of my intelligence I have endeavoured to reveal, perhaps haltingly and ineffectually, those ideas and ideals emanating from the soul that God gave me.

Consideration must be given to the fact that the spiritual and material sides of man dovetail together and co-mingle. It is a fact that we must recognise. God must be given His place in our material sphere as well as in the abstract. Contentment and happiness for all must be aimed at, since it is only in obtaining this materially that we shall be able to provide the basis of a spiritual unity.

God's place in the war is marked and a definite one. The war, ostentatiously, is one between nation states as such and yet, beneath the surface, on closer examination, it bears the marks of a new and international campaign for freedom of body, mind and spirit. The struggle for the survival of Christianity. In the light of this it behoves us to take stock of our own position and see where we stand. Essentially we all must have some spiritual conception of its outcome.

Christianity teaches us the brotherhood of man. This brotherhood, or fraternity, must; when we have defeated the narrow nationalistic outlooks of Nazism and Fascism and these tendencies within our own country; be extended to all irrespective of their previous tenets or beliefs. Although this war was thrust on us by Nazism and Fascism thwarting our vested interests we must remember that those very interests originally supported and encouraged these ideologies which now wish to destroy them. Thus it would seem that even within this state there are some that will wish to maintain the original structure of society and (the original) national sovereignty. We have to struggle within the state for recognition and acceptance of these views which, I believe, are in accordance with Christ. In that will lie our victory. “Forbearing one another, forgiving one another”. We shall achieve peace at heart and a unity not only of the nation but of all the forces that are struggling with us at the present moment and a unity with all those who, all over the world, have faith in freedom, liberalism and God.

This policy entails the acceptance of Germans as our brothers and equals. Although this war was originally directed against the “Nazi Government” many have lost sight of this including, perhaps, our present government and bear an active, living hatred for the German individual. Whatever happens this will not do as it is a direct denial of all Christian thought. It is futile to imagine that we can partially accept so much of the faith as suits our purpose. We must be wholeheartedly for or against. If we are against Christianity we may as well cease fighting, for true liberty and true freedom will never be obtained without a living conception of Christ. The German Nazi must be treated as suffering from a delusion and this delusion rendered harmless.

Douglas George Banks 1920 – 1989 written in 1941

Posted by Picasa

Chrome Wings - New Lands LP

While perusing the web the other evening I stumbled upon these dudes who go by Chrome Wings. It turns out it's a duo who hail from Portland, OR and have been kicking about the ambient/pop scene for a little bit now. As luck would have it as well they had just posted a video for "Motionless" from their newest full-length New Lands.

The track & accompanying video is indicative of what you'll find on the album, albeit in a bite sized portion. A slow burner for sure whose reference points being first generation ambient composer John Hassell. For all the great warm and fuzzy vibes Chrome Wings show here they're equally able to offer something slightly more upbeat take, positioned to the realm of pop music's general framework. Tracks such as New Lands or Stay High in particular prove that the group has some wider ideas to offer and groove to other than mere hazy ambience.

New Lands has been released by AMDISCS and is available now as a digital download and LP.

Goddamn, Hell, It's HAMPER McBEE from Monteagle, Tennessee!

I don't know how I managed to miss this guy but thanks to Jim Quine i'm all fixed up. Hamper McBee has an album available from Drag City
I just ordered it. Y'all should, too.

The Complete Record Album Covers of R. Crumb

"Robert Crumb first began drawing record covers in 1968 when Janis Joplin, a fellow Haight Ashbury denizen, asked him to provide a cover for her album Cheap Thrills. It was an invitation the budding artist couldn't resist, especially since he had been fascinated with record covers-particularly for the legendary jazz, country, and old-time blues music of the 1920s and 1930s-since he was a teen. This early collaboration proved so successful that Crumb went on to draw hundreds of record covers for both new artists and largely forgotten masters. So remarkable were Crumb's artistic interpretations of these old 78 rpm singles that the art itself proved influential in their rediscovery in the 1960s and 1970s. Including such classics as Truckin' My Blues Away, Harmonica Blues, and Please Warm My Weiner, Crumb's opus also features more recent covers done for CDs. R. Crumb: The Complete Record Cover Collection is a must-have for any lover of graphics and old-time music."

THUMBS CARLILLE Picks Blackberry Boogie with Lil' Liza Jane

Evidently the singer is unknown. 
Don't miss Thumbs Carlille at about 1:20

Leadbelly and Silas Green From New Orleans - Letterheads

BBC's Rev Series 2... can't wait!

The new series of Rev returns to BBC2 next week... Episode 1 transmits at 9:00pm Thursday 10th November. Forthcoming episodes feature a trip to the Greenbelt Festival and none other than Ralph Fiennes as the Bishop of London.


SCOTT H BiRAM - Victory Song - Live at

SCOTT H BiRAM - Just Another River - Live at

SCOTT H BiRAM - Truck Driver - Live at

The Denunciation of Ricky Skaggs From On High by Steve Scafidi

Originally published in The Oxford American Magazine twelfth annual music issue. 
I pity the fool that does not subscribe.

The Denunciation 
of Ricky Skaggs 
From On High
by Steve Scafidi

No more light strumming of your mandolin
and the whispered tone and the sap-
happy featherweight songs in my honor.

Ricky, no more treacly bullshit. I actually
rose up from the dead. Do you understand
what that means exactly? A God. A mother-

trucking god is who you are singing to. Did 
Zeus get tickled with a zither and prance
on his tippy-toes like a little girl from outer

space? No. Did my Father get weepy little
valentines and thank-you notes for nothing
but pain and suffering for a thousand years?

He got hollering and screams and fists raised
at the sky. He got rockabilly eventually and
heavy metal and thrash. Listen to Bill Monroe.

He won't just kiss my ass. Ricky you have
suffered in your life enough to know better
than to sing that stuff. It pains me to hear it.

Stick to what hurts most and mean it. Cut open
something valuable and bleed it. Hang it
upside down in your yard and let it drain.

into the grass. My god Ricky I might have to
come down there and show you what I mean.
Don't make me. I got eyes like laser beams

and a voice like Ralph Stanley but deeper
down darker. No more sweetness Ricky.
You are not a bee. There is a broken down

burning house inside the soul and someone
in the window waves. It is me. Dammit
Ricky, do something. Sing something true

the way you used to. Heaven is not a given.
make a ladder of what happens to actually
matter to you-blood, strings, and the ear.

Greece in crisis, Captain Corelli time...

Colchester's Mercury Theatre has this incredible knack of running a production that has an uncanny amount of synchronicity to current affairs. And they've scored yet again with this intriguing depiction of Louis de Bernières novel 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin', a collaboration between the Mercury and the Kote Marjanishvili Theatre of Tbilisi, Georgia. The play features both live action from a trim cast of five supplemented by a series of puppets playing both mini versions of the main on-stage characters and other parts.

What was no surprise was the compelling quality of the acting and the stage production, the latter not only providing stunning visual effects but also giving Health and Safety a scare with so much exposed naked flame! The puppetry really came into its own in the 2nd act, whereas in the first, whilst admiring the impressive technical skill, I found myself occasionally wondering what it added apart from the show stealing pet goat. As mentioned, in the 2nd part the interface between real and puppet action became an essential element, able to sensitively depict the harrowing scenes that are so distressing in the book (and film) without lessening any dramatic impact.

All the action is set on the Greek Island Cephallonia (Kefalonia) which suffered Italian and then German occupation during the 2nd World War. The characters are given more time to develop their personae than in the film and, one of leading actors, Mike Maran, is, indeed, credited for this excellent adaptation. He plays the long suffering Dr Iannis who opens the play with one of the most memorable scenes, as depicted above. Captain Corelli is cast as a bit of a buffoon! Having said that, Tony Casement plays him brilliantly, both as romeo and as the commander of his squad of loyal but slightly reluctant soldiers. Roger Delves-Boughton plays both Corelli's Quartermaster and the humorous British Spy, 'Roger', would you believe? Mr Bond, I presume?! Mandras, the local Greek fisherman was played by Gus Gallagher and Dr Iannis' precious daughter, Pelagia, was wonderfully brought to life by Natalie Kakhidze.

Although the music was all pre-recorded, it was specially written and provided some contrasting moments of joy and pathos. As a result I was relieved I could blame the smoke units for making my eyes water! The set design was sparse, mainly working with a set of moving risers and drapes. However, the lighting, sound effects, pyrotechnics and prop movements were seamlessly slick, providing amazing impact with iconic images via models and projections.

Another aspect that came over well, which the film failed to convey, was the subtle, yet effective, portrayal of the differences betwixt the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. In fact, religious imagery, practice and concepts were very evident throughout as part of life and death.

So, if you have read the book, you will definitely not be disappointed. If you've only seen the film, watching this will make you yearn to read the book and glean even more! Highly recommended...

Captain Corelli's Mandolin is on until 12th November - book tickets here