Naomi Punk - Burned Body | Video Feature

Naomi Punk create anthemic music that takes as much . The press release for their most recent album The Feeling cites influences such as The Mortal Coil, Nirvana, & The Wipers which give some clue into where these kids are coming from. Yet it is not as though their regurgitating the past in their refreshing blend of punk with hints of shoegaze and undercurrents of classic gothic rock of days past. They prove to fit perfectly within this new age of punk music that includes the likes of Iceage or even The Men to name a few. 

"Burned Body" demonstrates all of this with fiery passion and immediacy. The stark black and white stop motion video which accompanies the track presents the band in a highly stylized light and consistently obscured by bouquets of flowers or their turned away from the camera as if it would eat their souls. The video created by Robin Stein, Margaret Jones, & Jesse Brown matches the angular beauty of the song and presents some rather gifted filmmakers. If this doesn't command your attention then I'm not sure much contemporary "rock" music will be able to get you going. 
Naomi Punk's "Burned Body" is available now on their sophomore album The Feeling available now via Couple Skate Records

Mud, Sweat and Tears - Greenbelt 2012 review...

...the rains came down and the floods came up - inside the G-Source marquee...

It will be inevitable that Greenbelt 2012 will certainly be remembered for the mud! For some the effect the torrential rain and resulting quagmire(s) was very acute, particularly traders in the infield area of the racecourse where the mud matched the images of a rain soaked Glastonbury. The media usually describes such conditions as those attaining 'Biblical Proportions' and, at times, the deluge was as dramatic. Despite these conditions, a surprisingly joyful spirit pervaded throughout the festival and my abiding perception was that it was a good year!

Prior to the festival I contributed to the Greenbelt Five blog, outlining a selection of events I hoped to attend, I landed up scoring a measly 2.5! So let's start with the music programme, it was exceptional this year with astonishing highlights, here's a top five with some extras:

In fifth place I'm going with Nitin Sawhney. It was clearly a coup to persuade such a respected and an artiste with such cult status to appear. And for the audience such a joy to allow the gorgeous sounds to massage the senses with an audio chill after all the cerebral input that happens at Greenbelt.

Next up is Bruce Cockburn with his welcome return to these shores. Whilst being familiar with his catalogue I had never seen him perform live and love the way his solo approach heightened the lyrical beauty of his canon.

In third place is the performer I've seen most, Seth Lakeman, love his material, playing and was delighted to see the incredible percussionist Cormac Byrne in the line up for this Greenbelt appearance. I've blogged before about the Seth Lakeman trio which features both Cormac and Bellowhead's Kirkpatrick.

The Proclaimers made a most welcome return and provided everyone of all ages a delightful, warm and nuggly feeling as we all celebrated their enduring songs at the top of our collective voices, splashing out 500 miles (and 500 more!) together. I'm placing them at two and a half ;-)

So in 2nd place, only by a whisker, is the brilliant Bellowhead. I've been reflecvting on how best to describe their exuberant performance and musical skill so am going with symphonic folk. The arrangements of the songs tips a nod towards an orchestral structure but with joy and instinct rather than being culturally elite. Sometimes what was happening was simply breathtaking in its sophistication and virtuosity.

Retaining their top slot for a second year running is the phenomena that is Hope & Social. Check out their blog to learn more about the chapter of trouble that befell them on their way... then they still deliver a couple of stunning shows. I've already established that whilst some songs will be delivered in a fairly straightforward manner, the rest is totally about the unexpected! Be prepared for an experience... a unique event.

... a poignant reminder for all those singing along at the Performance Café gig...

In their mainstage late afternoon slot they, as in 2011, started with playing to a sparse audience which grew and grew. Their energy levels, despite the lack of sleep, is remarkable. The entertainment value interminable, the audience engagement powerful and charmingly natural. I persuaded a good handful of friends to make the pilgrimage across the swamp up to the Performance Café for a brilliant, vibrant and deliciously intimate event which won over everyone's heart, I truly hope they will be given better mainstage billing as they represent the epitome of what Greenbelt is all about.

Other honourable mentions must go to:
  • The Hobbit of the Austin Francis Connection with his breathtaking (geddit?!) beatboxing.
  • Karine Polwart for her charming offer of hope in The Rising singing 'The Sun's Coming Over The Hill'.
  • The Tim Crahart Blues Band - caught their excellent set when trying to secure a table prior to Hope & Social's one.
  • Willy Porter, the incredible acoustic guitar thrashing virtuoso!
  • Abigail Washburn and Kai Welch
  • My buddy Rob Halligan's set in the Performance Café
So onto the Talks which I endeavour to try and not overload and land up devouring far more than planned every year! Again there was much to see (or miss!)...

Having earmarked Dave Tomlinson's wonderfully entitled How to be a Bad Christian... talk as a must see it delivered all it promised. A wonderful affirmation of your feelings about there being more of the image of Christ in everyday folk than the established church would acknowledge all imparted in a gentle and inclusive manner.

My next 'Greenbelt Five' plan was to endeavour to catch the first uk showing of Steve Taylor's film 'Blue Like Jazz' drawn from Donald Miller's book of the same title. Various impromptu encounters and delicious Southern Indian cuisine courtesy of 'Lalitas' meant that I landed up in Centaur instead for another keynote speaker, the much hallowed Tony Campolo.

Whilst what he said one couldn't fault, the style was very much a shouty, loud tirade. I was not alone in being a puzzled beratee. The irony was that he made a great case for condemning coercion through use of power yet, by the end, you could only conclude that his preaching style was, well, coercive! Overall the points he made were good, particularly making clear the distinction between use of 'Power' versus 'Authority'. Much redemption was gleaned when he directed some scorn at modern worship music ;-)

The Saturday was all a bit hectic, starting off with Giles Fraser's wise words on 'The Trouble with Growth' then legging it round to the lovely new venue, Eden, for a talk on 'Forest Church'. This was both seriously inspiring and challenging, speaker Bruce Stanley had us all exploring new senses and experiences that are neglected or latent.

I then managed to squeeze into the seminar entitled: Does God love Radio too...? This included representatives from the BBC and the independent production company for Radio 2's 'Pause for Thought' and Radio 4's 'Thought for the Day'. In addition three of the regular presenters of the Pause for Thought were on hand to discuss the working relationship and to give us a first hand read through of one of their own scripts. Here the impressive Abdul-Rehman Malik stole the show with his endearing tale of failing to secure the leading part in a school musical!

From then on the storms started to brew in earnest and the mud started to emerge! My son, Sam, the camera man in the first video above, was keen to go to the Big Top for Frank Skinner and I decided to tag along... a very good move! He was, as expected, funny and articulate, yet it was the extent to which he has explored deep and profound theology that was uplifting. His journey back to a Catholicism included attending services of other denominations and religions, much reading and an acknowledgment that Catholics have ritualised many things that are not biblical. However, it is interesting that now he simply accepts that and goes along with it, seeing it as relatively unimportant. It struck me that Anglicans haven't reached that point in their development yet, devoting far too much time trying to justify all the bits they do that aren't in the bible with absurdly flaky theology. There was no vulgarity, just a couple of suggestive comments which, with perfect timing, coincided with a substantial increase in the sound of the rain pelting down which he made the most of!

Sunday kicks off with the communion service, this year labelled an elemental Eucharist. When I arrived and examined the service sheet and saw 'Lord of the Dance' as a closing hymn I confess I walked away and considered simply chilling instead. However, I did go back...!

The first half of the service was very ponderous and anachronistic with its rather lengthy, earnest and wordy prayers. However, delightfully, the Mike Scott's wonderful song 'Bring 'Em All In' was sung as a congregational hymn and this triggered a different engagement so that from there on it was all rather good. Another important contribution was down to the instrumentation for the accompaniment; acoustic instruments playing in a ceilidh, celtic style that even breathed new life into Lord of The Dance! Immediately after that hymn the band burst into a jig and reel... brilliant!

So, how can I put this gently to avoid derision from my friends? It is an undeniable fact that I, Peter Banks, was actually partaking in, and enjoying, moments of Liturgical Dance... only at Greenbelt, eh??!! (pssst, liturgical dance = dosey doe)

Next was a bit of a reunion as after I listened to 'The Next Factor', an enlightening talk on Optimism for the English and Brits I met speaker Cole Moreton for the first time since he was in my youth group 30 years ago... another one of those Greenbelt moments!

Then there was one of those unfortunate clashes which meant I missed out on another one of my Greenbelt Five selections. Sadly I had to leave Ian Morgan Cron in favour of Hope & Social on mainstage, consoling myself with the thought that I could, at least, get the MP3 of Mr Cron.

My final talks moment of the day came attending the Literature venue, The Hub, for some novel reading by authoress Kate Charles. This made me think I must attend more @greenbelt_lit moments next year.

The first talk on Monday, Ciaron O'Reilly and Ben Griffin on Faith based non-violent resistance, I have already blogged about here, this was my unexpected seminar; unplanned, shocking yet motivating to the extent of wanting to become involved.

My final talk attendance, after my 'note to self' moment re literature, was listening to science fiction author Simon Morden talk about the changes within the publishing world presenting challenges and opportunities, another unplanned moment that proved seriously informative.

So what was there not to like? Not a lot! Just the weather and resultant mud... although I found there were some talks I simply couldn't make either because of programme clashes or because I didn't want to break away from conversations I was having. I felt this was a great festival, a real sense of celebration as Greenbelt moves inexorably toward it fortieth year. As a veteran of the inaugural Greenbelt in 1974 I do harbour a personal hope to be involved in some way next year. Equally I also heartily endorse the implication within the title 'Life Begins' that it should, as a priority, be about looking forward.

To illustrate this another one of those special unplanned moments was stumbling into the Performance Café and hearing Harry Baker giving his Slam Poetry some serious welly. Check out his performance of Paper People here. Here was new blood, effectively another generation spearheading new creativity with vibrant humour and aplomb.

Long live a festival that's all about joy, justice, the planned, the unexpected, nurturing, giving, receiving, faith, hope and love; distinctly Christian regardless of denomination, belief or creed


Greenbelt wisdom in the mud...

Ben Griffin and Ciaron O'Reilly preaching faith, justice and peace across the Sea of Galilee...

Prompted by one of those amazing moments when a chance encounter (with a GB angel!) at this year's Greenbelt Festival meant I landed up listening to Ben's incredible story yesterday morn. With only a handful of intrepid souls making it up across the marsh and slurry there are at least another 22,000 who should listen to this one talk above all others IMNSHO...

The Greenbelt programme blurb reads as follows:
Ben Griffin (Veterans For Peace UK) served with the SAS in Baghdad, handing Iraqi civilians to the US for advanced interrogation. Ciaron O'Reilly with the Pitstop Ploughshares community broke into a hangar at Shannon Airport and disabled a US warplane en route to Iraq. They share their experiences and reflect on war, faith and non-violent resistance.


 The Jim Jones Revue - It's Gotta Be About Me by JimJonesRevue

Mighty Challenger - There Is No Other Way | Track Feature

Mighty Challenger bursts out of the opening gates with the melodic almost pop gem "There Is No Other Way." The project of Tom Gluibizzi (who some may know from his current project Hidden Fees or his previous role as a co-founder of Psychic Ills) goes out on his own with a refreshing blend of songwriting that stands out from what many folks these days seem to be up to. It is true that some reference points could be made to music of west africa as well as some classic rock moves of the 70's onwards. At the heart of this music is some fine tuned compositions break from any predefined genre placement.

There is a subtle rhythmic edge to the whole affair found in the Reggae like emphasis on the off beat & some the soft percussive shuffle that keep everything moving. It is possible that one can look at the similar groove oriented music Gluibizzi's other projects have had in the past for some reference points. "There Is No Other Way" is not dance music but it carries the beat well and has the potential to bring a little added bounce to the step of any listener. Mighty Challenger creates an ideal musical mixture that is perfect for the waning summer days.

Mighty Challenger's "There Is No Other Way" is available now on the project's debut 7" directly from the artist.

(Via the fine folks at RCRD LBL)

Nice Ten-Minute Doc on The Pennsylvania Cigar Box Guitar Festival

John Avery - Jessica In The Room Of Lights | Album Feature

I am not usually the biggest fan of albums that are essentially the soundtrack or sound component of a greater performative work.  Generalizations aside John Avery's compositional skill in Jessica In The Room Of Lights extends beyond it's original intent and forms a new life. It could be that the success of Jessica is that even in its original theatrical structure and performance the element of sound and the soundtrack held great importance. One could look towards the actors voices even being conveyed and spoken with through prerecorded tape playbacks. Either way Avery's Jessica In The Room Of Lights succeeds in its mission of creating an overarching narrative for the patient and acute  listener.

There is a foreboding nature at work here. Cryptic samples permeate through with the odd voice throw in manipulated and mutilated to the core. While the atmosphere surrounding all of the more dramatic elements are created with a skittering electronic buzz. The title track "Jessica In The Room Of Lights" is the corner stone of the album. In effect, the track becomes an integral string holding Avery's somewhat foreboding narrative in place. As dark and dramatic as the rest of the album gets the title track goes the polar opposite route. For the first time a repetitive melodic phrase enters the sonic vocabulary created by Avery's opaque and dreamy synth programming. This moment marks a rebirth or realization perhaps as what follows is a much more subdued affair.  "Zero Zero One, Zero One, Zero One" and "The Day Serenity Returned To The Ground" match silence with subtle and slow melodies that feel as though they would crumble upon realizing they being listened upon. While "Almost (1986)" ends with what is close to a piano ballad bringing a theatrical ending to the whole affair.

John Avery's album Jessica In The Room Of Lights is available now via Forced Nostalgia.

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Only In My Dream | Video Feature

From underground wild card to indie rock institution Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti has come a long way since first came to the public eye with reissues of albums The Doldrums, Worn Copy, & House Arrest on Animal Collective's Paw Tracks label. Since then it appears like a whirlwind of a life for the unlikely star Ariel Pink has become. Now back with the follow up to 2010's Before Today the album Mature Themes seems to take it's title to heart.  

"Only In My Dreams" proves that Pink and co. still aren't through creating some of the most compelling "Pop music" out there today. The song takes from the spectrum of pure AM radio gold and the abstract jangle classic new wave to new heights. While the music production is considerably more hi-fidelity than earlier efforts the video created by Travis Peterson, who has also made music videos for the likes of Vivian Girls & Nite Jewel among others, harkens back to days of past. Throughout Pink's struggle to find and keep love is perfectly matched by Peterson's somewhat grainy VHS like footage. Let some nostalgic melancholy begin.

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti's new album Mature Themes is available now via 4AD.

Last Nights Presents: Drainolith, SSPS, United Waters, & Colour Bük at Death By Audio

Sunday September 9th, 2012 
Death By Audio
49 S. 2nd Street Brooklyn, NY
Doors 8pm | $7 | All Ages

Steve Earle taking a whirl...

Love all the noodling around on the mandolin before Steve launches into the song fully... we now have this as one of the Café Musica repertoire, thanks to a good call by James.


Hobo Sonn - Weeping From Eyes Three, Four and Five | Track Feature

Hobo Sonn's "Weeping from Eyes Three, Four and Five" is a satisfyingly creepy ambient brew. At some indistinct moment repetitive loops, drum rhythms, & electronic pulses begin to become ritualistic in their effect. The side turns into something of a key, summoning the beyond,  almost resembling a shaman's magic. But what else is the general listening public going to expect when seeing that this is one half of a split LP with the incredibly prolific Decimus (Pat Murano of No Neck Blues Band etc).

Throughout "Weeping from Eyes Three, Four and Five" Ian Murphy carefully mixes samples taken from the entire spectrum of . The slow churn of the tide & backward voices reciting incantations sit alongside subtle washes of synths and some overarching atmospheric murk. This is perfect for the next Ouija board party you have.

Hobo Sonn's track "Weeping From Eyes Three, Four and Five" is available now on a split LP with Decimus on Kellipah Records.

SHELBY LYNN - Rainey Night In Georgia

LES TRiABOLiQUES - rivermudtwilight

@ Facebook // iTunes // AMZN

Is it blues? Post-blues? A modern precursor? A conglomerate/amalgamation? As Sonny Boy Williamson said, "You can call it your Mama if you want to."

Take three well-traveled current and former members of Robert Plant's band, Magazine, 3 Mustaphas 3, PiL, and others, put them deep in the Sudan or near the Black Sea with Blind Willie Johnson playing in the midst of local fare on a 70s-era college FM radio show barely heard on the night wind. This is that.

REVEREND JOHN WiLKiNS - You Can't Hurry God

@ Big Legal Mess Records // Facebook //  iTunes // Amzn

Reverend John Wilkins makes gospel music that sounds like a Sun Records-era gospel Prophet just walked out of the North Mississippi woods. And that's pretty much what happened. Playing at church, clubs, parties around the Memphis area most of his life, Wilkins (son of bluesman Robert Wilkins who you know for the 'Stones cover of The Prodigal Son) played guitar in 1965 on the great O.V. Wright classic, You're Gonna Make Me Cry.

In the 1980s John Wilkins followed in his father's footsteps and became Rev. Wilkins, becoming Pastor to Como, Mississippi's Hunter's Chapel Church, which was also home to Othar Turner and others. Earlier the church was home to Mississippi Fred McDowell and his wife.

Reverend Wilkins, with the help of Oxford, Mississippian Amos Harvey has made his first and best album. A rare-sounding gospel album that's at once perfectly vintage and present day. A strong sound with a strong message that, like Pops Staples and others from the region, does not overwhelm with either but rather presents the facts as He sees them.

Our old friend Amos Harvey has produced another stellar record with the help of Jake Fussell on  guitar, Eric Deaton - bass, Wallace Lester on the drums, Adam Woodard - Hammond organ, and Rev. Wilkins daughters handling the back up vocals. Amos was responsible for the outstanding recordings of Precious Bryant a few years ago and for the reissue of raw recordings by the Bishop Perry Tillis. If Amos is involved the rule of thumb is you just buy it. This recording is certainly no exception.

Prodigal Son performed by Reverend John Wilkins from Highway61 on Vimeo.

Black Pus - Pus Mortem | Album Feature

Brian Chippendale returns with Pus Mortem his latest album as Black Pus. The noise artist / drummer extraordinaire has been exploring the one band form of Black Pus for some time outside of his main gig as one half of Lightning Bolt.  Chippendale has been hammering away at Black Pus since 2005 and during this time has been continuously fine tuning his own unique brand of noise rock / art rock to stunning effects up in his hometown of Providence, RI.

Pus Mortem brings out some of Black Pus's most accessible material to date interweaved throughout the album. Three tracks into the album "Play God" could quite possibly get some people swaying and dancing with it's simple yet powerful drum rhythm combined with some melodic samples and off-kilter approach. This may have been present in past work but have never been so front and center or as confidently executed. The rest of then jumps back into traditional swing with noise-rock zest with Chippendale's drums pound away like a war call on tracks like "Why Must It End?" and "So Sensational" to great effect while multiple walls of fuzz build and swell around everything before collapsing in. But that is what Black Pus does best.

Black Pus's album Pus Mortem is available now directly from the artist at bandcamp webpage now.

Gregg Kowalsky - Electronic Music for Square and Sine Waves | Track Feature

Things are often lost or rather transformed in translation. It is almost analogous to a cut-up by Brian Gysin or William Burroughs or even a collage by Max Ernst through their transformation of a pre-exisitng entity. The same may be said of what happens when a work that employs the use of multiple sensations. In the case of Gregg Kowalsky's "Electronic Music for Square and Sine Wave" the work is grounded in the interaction of sound and space, something not readily transferable to purely audio recordings. Yet Kowalsky makes it work and beautifully at that.

In this format it seems like the emphasis of "music" as stated in the title "Electronic Music for Square and Sine Wave" comes to the forefront. As the releases press release states it is composed of multiple layers of sound sources and processing including "tuned an AM radio to random interference between channels, static abstractions that bookend the work." Beyond this  for "the core of the piece, Kowalsky used contact mics to process this, and other, sound source(s) as he moved around the performance space." The space in which the composition was performed and recorded is removed from the listeners vision and perception. It is a mortal separation between how the composition was originally received and what it now is.

But is this is not a bad thing. Separated from space and movement the overarching aesthetic nuances of sound manipulation are more readily revealed. It is at the heart of the audio work that deep listening practices can begin to work. Kowalsky creates a web of overtones and subtly moving harmonics to great effect, tones that gently wash over ones surroundings and possibly reactive their sense of time & sound in space.

Gregg Kowalsky and Jozef Van Wissem's album Movements in Marble and Stone will be available via Amish Records as an entry into the largely fantastic Required Wreckers Series this September 4th.

My Fifteen Minutes Are Almost Up.

My pal MikeWindy wrote an article about me and this blog for Jacksonville, Florida arts/politics/etc mag The Folio Weekly. Thanks for all the kind words from the folks in the article and from you, our viewers at home. This thing has been a slave labour of free love for around ten years now and it's been cool to see it grow. Now I know how Sally Field felt. Thanks y'all.


Going Deep
Rick Saunders wants to move you to explore the real thing

Written by mikewindy
Published August 14, 2012

  I first met Rick Saunders while teaching a sculpture class at Flagler College. He wasn’t a student or lowly adjunct, like me, but a full-time employee, a security guard. I had attended six different colleges before I got my degree and have worked for three others since, but I never met any other security guards like Rick. It wasn’t just his pierced ears, stylish haircut or cool tattoos that made him stand out, but rather the conversations we had whenever we’d run into each other on campus. I soon found out that music was his hobby, and immediately after that, found out I was way out of my league in discussing music with him. I’d always have to look someone up online that he’d tell me about, usually finding what I needed on his blog Wasn’t I supposed to be the teacher? Lucky for me, I was getting paid by Flagler to teach sculpture and getting a minor in Deep Blues from one of the foremost experts of the scene.

  Sometime in 2010, I was at an art event at the Hastings library, talking with James Quine. I brought up Rick Saunders. “Oh, yeah, he’s been online writing about music since you could be online writing about music, it seems,” Quine said. I told him I thought his blog was very cool and that Rick was really onto something. He mentioned that Rick had been an early supporter of his nephew, Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. “Rick wrote the liner notes for Dan’s pre-Black Keys band, the Barn Burners.” I was dumbstruck. I had read about them on Rick’s blog and noticed Rick was 10 years ahead of most of us in realizing Auerbach’s talent.

  By this time, I was no longer at Flagler and didn’t see Rick. I ran into his wife Leslie Robison who teaches art at Flagler and whom he calls “the smartest person I know” (she’s high up on my list, as well). I asked her, and she said flatly, “He won’t say it, but Rick’s kind of a big deal.”

   Mark “Porkchop” Holder, one of the musicians Rick champions, said the blues is a religion and some regard Rick the way many churchgoers do their preachers. With reverence and awe. Which he in turn deflects right back on them like any preacher should.

   More than anything, he is interested in musicians who go for it and lay it on the line. By “it,” I mean themselves, good or bad, but preferably both. He doesn’t click “play” to hear a song so much as to be moved by it. He talks a lot about being moved. If a song doesn’t move him, he’s not too interested. It took him a while to come to the blues because of that.

   “The blues always eluded me. I rarely heard anything that didn’t seem precious/antique and important for its time but didn’t move me today,” Rick said. “Emotional content is pretty much paramount for me. Then one day, I read a small review in Seattle’s late Rocket Magazine of a Junior Kimbrough album called ‘Sad Days and Lonely Nights.’ I’m a big fan of really miserable sad music. The sadder it is, the happier I am. That was all she wrote. That album finally opened the door for me.”

   So Rick, who’s 51, decided to open that door for others. He is the quintessential teacher. He doesn’t just write about a band on his blog; he posts videos, links to their downloads, interviews they’ve done on other blogs — anything he can think of to get you to check them out. He said he wants to be a one-stop shop for those who might not have the time to search out certain music. Since Rick and his wife moved to St. Augustine, had kids and Rick started working nights at Flagler, she said he doesn’t know a lot of people in town. But in other towns they’ve lived in, she said, he was always the guy most likely to hand you a mixed tape of music that may have come up in a previous conversation.

   “He really wants people that he thinks are up to the same thing to connect,” she said. “I think that’s why he started the blog. He couldn’t just turn that off. It just so happens that now he’s connecting people all over the United States and the rest of the world.”

April Fecca, who founded and writes for the excellent music blog Now This Sound Is Brave (, considers Rick a mentor. “Rick is definitely a hub, a connector,” Fecca said. “My music library and my list of friends/contacts have tripled since I met Rick. He believes that people are here on Earth to serve each other, and this is one way he puts that belief into practice.”

And so there is Rick’s practice. Culling through the Internet for things that move him. Emailing friends and posting on other blogs. Listening to CDs or watching documentaries labels have sent him. Laboring over the writing of a post. “It’s so hard, since most of the folks sending me stuff I’m friends with, so I really obsess over what I write,” Rick said. “I want the writing to be as good as what I’m writing about, so people will take the next step and take a look or listen.”

   “Rick is always one of the first people I send our releases to,” said Jeff Konkel of Broke & Hungry Records ( “His endorsement of a record is incredibly valuable to a label like mine. He’s passionate about music, but he’s not prone to over-hyping a record. He just writes in an honest, plainspoken way that readers respond to. I’ve made some crucial connections through Rick that have helped my business and the artists I represent.”

   Roger Stolle of Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art ( in Clarksdale, Miss., can’t say enough good things about Rick, but tried in our email exchanges. “Rick Saunders ‘gets it.’ He understands the difference between culturally connected traditional blues and the more pop-connected mainstream stuff. I appreciate the fact that his Real Deep Blues blog is truth in advertising. He’s not just talking the talk; he’s walking the walk. Real deep (i.e., “real-deal” or, dare I say, authentic?) blues is a niche within a niche with a cult following. It is a historically relevant sub-genre that deserves promotion just as much as the more modern blues-rockers and soul-blues purveyors. This is a music without a publicist and often ignored by big-time media.”

“Without the efforts of knowledgeable and enthusiastic folks like Rick, fewer would know of this obscure but important blues music and culture,” Stolle wrote. “It takes a village to spread this word. Rick is mayor of one such village.”

Quine, a community advocate and photographer, is also an excellent musician who played on his nephew Auerbach’s first solo effort, “Keep it Hid.” He called Rick a pioneer.

“Rick is a music blog pioneer who helped inspire a whole movement and turned a lot of people on to real American music. You have to give him a lot of credit for that. He’s your classic man with a mission.”

 It’s a mission that unites with Rick with others. The incredible slide guitar virtuoso throwback entertainer Ted Drozdowski of the blues duo Scissormen said he and Rick were brothers in a cause to bring real blues to the people. Deep Blues is the same to Drozdowski as it is to Rick: Music with real feelings that’s alive and well right now. Drozdowski said that the gatekeepers of blues want musicians to fit in this really small idea of what the blues are. “Antique, precious or super-slick,” as Rick says. There’s a line in the Scissormen’s “My Own Big Shoes” that says, “The blues ain’t dipped in amber.” It’s meant to move and be stretched by new ideas.

   Aaron Frazer, of the band Charlie Patton’s War, stumbled on Rick’s site while searching for a certain kind of blues he wasn’t sure still existed. It does; he found it on the blog. “Rick’s blog in some ways restored my faith in blues, to see people still playing the blues, pushing its boundaries.”

Like many others, Charlie Patton’s War has benefited from exposure on Real Deep Blues. Frazer said on that a large number of folks who get to the two albums available for free download are getting there by way of Real Deep Blues. Rick put the band in touch with Chris Johnson, organizer of the Deep Blues Festival in Bayport, Minn., and Charlie Patton’s War was on the June 2012 festival roster.

Did I mention there is a festival named after Rick’s blog?

   In 2007, Chris Johnson, whom Matt Latcham of the U.K. band Mudlow called an “avaricious fan of this new wave of blues music,” decided to have a festival. He asked Rick to help pick the line-up for the first year, and for permission to use the Deep Blues moniker. Rick obliged on both accounts.

There seems to be a real feeling of camaraderie among bands Rick and Chris support. “I think blues music is about where it’s coming from as opposed to a chord progression,” Frazer said.

Rick uses this metaphor: “It’s the difference between going into a thrift store and an antique store. If you’re looking for something cool and go into an antique store that smells like potpourri, you may as well turn around and walk out. If it doesn’t stink, it’s probably not good! I want something with a little rust on it. Something that’s been used, not all polished.”

You’ll find rusty gem after rusty gem of videos on Rick’s blog. Bob Log III in his crazy helmet mic, shaky VHS videos of R.L. Burnside or Robert “Wolfman” Belfour with T-Model Ford’s 9-year-old grandson Stud playing Johnny Lowebow’s drums. All of these artists, save Stud, are or have been on Fat Possum Records, which Rick and everyone else points to as the beginning of deep blues or “blues-infected” music. If you find yourself drawn to the music on Rick’s blog, you’ll make your way to most of the artists on Fat Possum’s roster.

From time to time, Rick intentionally writes posts about artists who don’t even fit his loose parameters of what the blues are.

“I know I’m pushing the envelope of what people consider the blues, but it’s my blues. You can have yours and I can have mine,” Rick said. “I’m interested in ideas and may even post about something I don’t fully believe in 100 percent, but I may kinda like what these guys are doing.”

Someone less comfortable in his own skin would never push a stick into his own spokes on purpose, but here’s how he gets everyone to buy into his blues: He can write. It sneaks up on you when you’re reading his blog, because he’s reposting a lot of other people’s work, but over time, you recognize what’s his and it hits you like a Mudlow song.

After meeting Rick on the Too Bad Jim Yahoo discussion group, Mudlow’s Latcham sent Rick some of their recordings. “It was great to hear someone describe our music so accurately,” Latcham said. He’s written liner notes for two Mudlow albums since, including their 2012 release, “Sawyer’s Hope.” I read the second one to my wife, and after a long stunned pause, she said, “That’s gorgeous.”

His writing is like a good rant; it reads like it’s pouring out of him in real time. But he agonizes over every bit of it. That’s a hard thing to do in any field — to make hard work seem easy. It’s why people think great plumbers are ripping them off.

Drozdowski was one of the first music writers on the national scene who was publishing articles in Boston and Denver in the early 2000s about the new breed of Fat Possum blues artists. He’s been published in Rolling Stone and Guitar Player, blogged for Gibson Guitars and recently wrote the book notes for Freddie King’s 2012 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He breaks Rick’s writing down the way only a professional music writer can. “Many people can’t write about what music sounds like. Rick, like Robert Palmer, is good at translating the aural into the emotional.”

Not the “Simply Irresistible” Robert Palmer; the musicologist and clarinetist who wrote the book “Deep Blues,” which, along with its accompanying documentary, Rick Saunders cites as extremely influential.

Palmer described a set by Otis Rush, performed in the late 1970s in a small bar on Chicago’s North Side: “That night at the Wise Fools, during one 40-minute set, Otis focused all his extraordinary talents. His grainy, gospelish singing carried the weight of so much passion and frustration, it sounded like the words were being torn from his throat, and his guitar playing hit heights I didn’t think any musician was capable of — notes bent and twisted so delicately and immaculately, they seemed to form actual words, phrases that cascaded up the neck, hung suspended over the rhythm, and fell suddenly, bunching at the bottom in anguished paroxysms.

“The performance, if you could call it that, was shattering and uplifting all at once, the way the blues is supposed to be. I had heard bluesmen play and sing with comparable intensity and technique, but Otis Rush had something else — an ear for the finest pitch shadings and the ability to execute them on the guitar, not as mere effects, but as meaningful components in a personal vocabulary, a musical language. He was playing Deep Blues.”

This is the bar that Rick feels obliged to reach.

One key to great music writers is that many are good musicians as well. Drozdowski and his band have gigged all over the U.S., including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Palmer played clarinet on “Silver and Gold” with Bono in 1985. Rick’s been a drummer since around age 6. He’s played in lots of bands, but hasn’t played regularly since having kids and working nights.

He does, however, play the occasional gig or sits in when invited, like with Mudlow in St. Paul. “We asked him to join in on maracas and he eagerly accepted,” Latcham said. “As an accomplished drummer, we knew he wouldn’t let us down! It felt so right to share that with Rick, and it remains a highlight of our trip to the States for me.”

Rick also played with Chris Cotton at the 2007 inaugural Deep Blues Festival. In the handful of videos of this set available online, Rick’s drumming speaks for itself. But Rick has written a lot about Cotton. In his June 2008 post “Chris Cotton: The Man Who W/S/Could be King or How You Can Stop Worrying and Learn to Love Chris Cotton,” he tears into the blues tastemakers, calling them “the clutch of dudes who care more about what gauge of strings their god Robert Johnson used on ‘Terraplane [Blues]’ than they do about being moved.” Ultimately, he puts the responsibility in the listeners’ ears: “Cotton would, should, could be king. His coronation is up to you.”

This may be the biggest lesson of Rick’s blog: We should take back the responsibility of developing our own taste. Don’t filter it through someone else’s ideas to make sure it fits our personality or meshes appropriately with our existing playlists, politics or religious beliefs. Define our own blues.

Ron Thomas Smith (aka CuzN Wildweed), who is finishing a documentary on Hasil Adkins called “My Blue Star,” summed up Rick and his blog: “His blog and other online posts have been heavily responsible for pulling the Deep Blues family of artists and fans together and keeping us connected. Rick is a tireless promoter of music and an insightful writer in the merging genres of Blues and Punk Rock. Rick is also an amazing musician himself, which is why he has such a deep love and understanding of music and what it takes to make it. He doesn’t just talk it. He walks it. Rick Saunders is the real thing! I love and respect the man and I’d whup anybody’s ass that said anything bad about him!”

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Last Nights Presents: Eric Copeland, U.S. Girls, Zaïmph @ Death By Audio this Sunday

Sunday August 19th
49 S. 2nd Street Brooklyn, NY 11211

THE REAL BAPTiZiNG - A Documentary on Alabama's WiLLiE KiNG

"This short documentary by Joe York and Preston Lauterbach highlights Alabama bluesman Willie King. The film features several live performances by King and his band The Liberators at the now defunct Bettie's Place."

BOOBA BARNES - I'm Goin' Back Home - Live in Oxford, MS 1981

The late Roosevelt Booba Barnes 

- mp3 -

Booba Barnes was a highlight of the Deep Blues documentary. Owner of The Playboy Club in Greenville, MS. His only album, Heartbroken Man was the first recorded for Jim O'Neal's Rooster Blues label and is long out of print, which is a gawdamn shame. Barnes relocated from Greenville to Chicago in 1990, where he achieved some success, but was struck by cancer and died in a Chicago nursing home in 1996.

Muamba's Miraculous Moments...

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OK, I confess this stirs a deep seated response within me... whatever our faith (or not!) I am comfortable with this 'miracle' story, especially bearing in mind the sense of this extraordinary medical community working together as one. This is about action, even without a belief (faith?) in a positive outcome. Meanwhile the hashtag, #prayformuamba, became a Twitter phenomena reflecting the reaction of players who demonstrated a fundamental instinct to fall on their knees and pray.

One thing for sure, I feel comfortable with accepting this reveals the hand of the Divine at work rather than one of those dreadful, coercive, churchy moments that are claimed to be miracles performed in God's name?

It's not a 'fairy tale' ending, like everyone, I was saddened to read Fabrice is to retire from the game. Whatever happens for him now there is no-one who would not wish him well...


Zaïmph - Imagine Yourself Here | Album Feature

Marcia Bassett has worn many hats over the years, contributing to a large number of seminal underground groups whose names seems to pop up everywhere. These groups range from the classic Siltbreeze group Un, Double Leopards, GHQ, & Hototogisu to name a few. Yet it is under her solo moniker Zaïmph that it seems like Bassett gets into the thick of it. This may be an obvious statement though as every single other project previously mentioned have been group efforts, when left alone to examine the exact precipice of where one will take their own work is a wholly different matter.  

The sounds and movements that reveal themselves throughout Imagine Yourself Here feel thoughtful in their approach. It would be somewhat of an injustice to tag Bassett's work as drone, especially in these current times where that word has become something of an accessary. The weight of genre looms large but there is something altogether more serious and personal in what results in this work an understanding that slowly comes to light in the unhurried recesses of time. 

Zaïmph's Imagine Yourself Here is available now via Bassett's own Yew Records.

"Truth is truth. Roll with it." The LEFT LANE CRUiSER VS JAMES LEG Super Sessions: An Interview About Painkillers.

LLC @ Facebook // James Leg @ Facebook // Alive Records // iTunes- LLC & James Leg // Amazon - LLC & James Leg

Left Lane Cruiser and James Leg have released a snarling little cur dog (balls intact) of a party album called Painkillers. Ten wicked cover songs. Mama told Papa...This is the summers rock n' blues wigout, to boogie! 

Painkillers is the soundtrack of a beer and Scotch-sodden county-line joint. It vibrates with dirty, 'stonesy, grinder blues. My classic rock. Hell fire, not only do they cover Seger's Come To Papa, but they have the brass to do  Zep's When The Levee BreaksTrying to breath new life into half these war horses, let alone a song like Red Rooster would be an undertaking for any band but Team Leg-LLC fatten it up, wring it's neck and kill that chicken like Scott H Biram would kill that chicken. 

These guys start out by throwing down a heavy super-rockin' cover of Junior Kimbrough's Sad Days And Lonely Nights that gets hotter'n a she-wolf in a pepper-patch on fire.  From there it's on to Hound Dog Taylor, Hooker, 'Stones, Taj Mahal, and that Robert Johnson guy.  You know it takes some skills to cover Hendrix and them and not sound like a shitty wanna-be cover band. An imitator. A pretender. But this road-seasoned trio, backed by Painkillers engineer Jim Diamond on bass (Yes! The return of bass!) and Harmonica Shah (on guesswhat) makes a fat and burly yet lean and tough racket that testifies to the almighty raw power of rock and blues. 

In a perfect world, y'all would be rollin' downtown blasting Painkillers from your Camaro's and Kustom vans, bumpin' it at every beach picnic and kegger in the woods around the world.  Rockin' Painkillers as you sit on the bonfire-lit tailgate of your girlfriends stank ol' F150, down by the river surrounded by all your friendsJames Leg's organ like a soulful siren, his voice a south Texas hail storm. Joe's slide guitar a backwoods whip saw, Brenn's buttcentric drum grooves hunchin' on Jim Diamond's fat bass throbber as the sound howls through the humid hot night. I could carry on but look, this stuff right here is what your kids'll be diggin' in some Nuggets box set of the future. 

I got ahold of Brenn and Joe aka Dr. Freddy J IV and Dr. Sausage Paw from Left Lane Cruiser and Rightous Reverend Doctor of the organ Mr. James Leg to see how those  Painkillers went down:

How'd this album come about? Did y'all jam on the road and think Hmm...we should do something with this?

James Leg: We've toured together many times over the last several years....and have played together on stage as well as in the studio for Left Lane Cruiser's last release, "Junkyard Speedball" it was just a matter of time till we wound up in the studio for a collaboration.

Brenn: Yeah, every time we've jammed with John (aka James Leg - His Government name is John -rs.)  its been great. We fit together great, so it only made sense to do it on tape. Now we just gotta do an original album together.

Joe: We have definitely had some epic jam sessions with John on the road, both in the states and overseas. I have always dug the way John plays the keys, never heard anybody play 'em like that, nasty but soulful.

What was the process of weeding out? How many songs did you start with and how hard was it to cull it down to ten? Did you record other songs that didn't make the cut?

James: We prolly started out with around ten additional possible songs. Before we went to Detroit to lay it all down, we got together in Fort Wayne for a couple days and ran through several tracks to see what felt best. There were a couple that we recorded that didn't make the record. Also, a couple of the tracks on the record were last minute choices in the studio. 

Brenn: Some of them we had planned just didn't seem as fitting after a few whiskeys`.

Joe: We wanted a good mix of blues and classic rock. We also wanted to stay away from tunes we cover live so people could hear something new. There were some songs that didnt make the record but might be released down the road.

Who's idea was it to cover Bob Seger's Come To Poppa? You got taste, dude. Even if people don't care for Seger (my brotherinlaw swears he lives a Seger-free existence) you cannot deny that Come To Poppa is Thee Seger Jam. 

James: I'm a member of The Church of Bob Seger. Especially and specifically the first several records...when he sounded more like Detroit than L.A, though I can get into that shit as well. We toyed with the idea of doing "Ramblin Gamblin Man"...but its been done a few times and done fact recently by Jim Diamond's band, Seger Liberation Army..."Come To Poppa" seemed like a lil bit of a deeper cut...and apropo...pritty sure i've said those words in conversation.

Joe: Seger rules! John picked that one so he deserves the credit. That slowed down version is sick, good call Rick. 
I like to take forty-fives and slow 'em down to thirty-three rpm -rs)

What's the story behind the Painkillers album title?

James: Hehe...again, apropo of those four days we were tracking....I think we were goin through a litre of Jameson a day as well.. (not sure if that ought to be common knowledge...Brenn?Joe?)

Brenn: Truth is truth. Roll with it.

Joe: Its a party record and we were partying when we recorded it. 

What was the recording process for this like? Where/when and how long did it take to record?

James: Easy...and loads of fun. Like I say, we've all the four of us worked together several times so it was easy to lock-in and groove...made it a lot of fun to just be playin' these songs together in the same room with good sounds. I believe we cut the most of it in four days last December, then Brenn and Joe went back in January for a couple days and polished it off. We tried not to overthink it or make the process so long or meticulous that all the spontinaity and soul was lost. Most of the record was all live and got in one or two takes..

 Brenn: Like John said, little to no preperation to keep it spontaneous, and not mimicking the original versions note for note. You put the four of of us in a room together with plenty of whiskey, and a bottle of pills, grooves are gonna flow easily. I think we were all on the same wavelength with where it was going, so that made it easy.

Joe: Recording was a blast. We did it at Jim's studio (Ghetto Recorders) in Detroit, a block away from Tiger Stadium. We just went in there everyday, got tore up and let it rip. 

One last question: 

What's next? Whats on your schedule for the next 3 months?

Brenn: Well, right now Joe and I are fine tuning the songs for the new album. Figure on recording it in the next couple of months. Tonight we are opening for Helmet and The Toadies at big fest up in Michigan. We got Muddy Roots comin up at the end of the month, back to Europe in Sept/Oct, and then we are headed down south for a quick run in Nov. Keepin' busy on the road, but really focusing on getting LLC's new album finished up.

James: Just got off a four month straight tour in June...gonna sit (relatively) still for a few minutes. I'm in the early stages of writing/recording a couple of records right now...not sure at the moment what name will be on 'em, James Leg or Black Diamond Heavies,.... that will depend on the material and schedule. Other than the Muddy Roots Festival at the end of August, I plan to do no shows till around January or so. Even the devil got to put it in park and kick back sometimes.

Now doubt Left Lane Cruiser and/or James Leg will be coming to a town near you at some point. If y'all wanna see a serious live show played by dudes that play like it might be their last show you got to get out the house and go out of your way to see these guys. Give them your money. You know you need the orange vinyl