April 23, 2007

Lets all drink to the death of a clown

Don Van Vliet, Dirty Champagne, 1995

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"1. Alberto Gonzales

"In case you missed Alberto Gonzales's electrifying testimony before the House Judicary Committee last week, he's been getting some rave reviews. Here are the highlights:

"'A pathetic performance! -- The Capital Times'

"'Mr. Gonzales came across as a dull-witted apparatchik incapable of running one of the most important departments in the executive branch! -- The New York Times'

"The overwhelming impression Mr. Gonzales left was that of an out-of-touch executive who had little idea why these prosecutors were fired in his name! -- The Dallas Morning News'

"'Gonzales said more than 70 times that he could not recall the details of the prosecutors' firing! -- The Houston Chronicle'

"'Attorney General Alberto Gonzales looked like an ineffective, and at times clueless, leader! -- The Seattle Times'

"'Really deplorable! -- Sen. John Cornyn, (R-TX)'

"'Why is your story changing! -- Sen. Chuck Grassley, (R-IA)'

"'I believe the best way to put this behind us is your resignation! -- Sen. Tom Coburn, (R-OK)'

"But let's be fair. It wasn't all bad.

"'He has done a fantastic job in the Department of Justice! -- The White House'"

* The Austin Chronicle talks with Bill Callahan about his upcoming album, Woke on a Whaleheart. excerpt:

"Written over two months of 16-hour workdays and recorded locally last November at Bruce Robison's Premium Recording Service in a little more than a week, the songs flow seamlessly, no longer lonesome, spare recordings but an orchestral blend of country, blues, gospel, and a nice dose of Seventies soft rock. There's a center to each song, which unravels a tapestry of golden oldies.

"Enter Neil Michael Hagerty. A veteran of D.C. noiseniks Pussy Galore and Stones-worshippers Royal Trux and current frontman of the more experimental Drag City quintet the Howling Hex, he and Callahan are longtime friends, and his part in Whaleheart is integral: Along with shedding his moniker, Callahan also shared creative control.

"'I've known Neil since '92 when we did our first nationwide tour together,' explains Callahan by e-mail. 'And I did the Tramps, Traitors and Little Devils album with him a while back. He arranged that, and I liked the job he did. Our bands play shows together now and then, and he usually listens and has interesting things to say after my set. So, I asked him to produce. He said he's never seen an audience listen to and react to the story of the words as much as my audience, so his idea was to make musical arrangements that did not add too much narrative distraction. Which is not to say the arrangements are sparse. There's a lot going on in the music, but it all slots into itself neatly.'

"Hagerty's touch yields some of the album's best moments, and the Seventies vibe creeping into many of the songs is a welcome, if not coincidental, addition. 'All the recording equipment we used was manufactured in the Seventies,' Callahan explains. 'Most of the people who played on the record were manufactured in the Seventies, too.'

"The gathering of the album's players proved serendipitous.

"'I was over at the house of Thor Harris [of Shearwater] and mentioned that I had booked studio time for a new album,' Callahan writes. 'He said he would play drums. I asked him if he knew a great bassist. He suggested Steve Bernal. Steve was asked if he knew any fiddle players. He suggested Elizabeth Warren, and so on.'

"Rounded out by guitarist Pete Denton, pianist Howard Draper, and the excellent Deani Pugh-Flemmings of the Olivet Baptist Church on backup vocals, the sound is older and wiser. As he remarks in one song, 'Sycamore got to grow down to grow up,' and Whaleheart points to growth – both in song and spirit. Starting with opener 'From the Rivers to the Ocean' ('The city was a fist. I lived on its wrist. And I took myself a good long look around') through to the gospel country jaunt of 'The Wheel' ('To make my home lord, in a stable spoke lord, inside a turning wheel bound for good') and the lazy 'Sycamore' ('All you want to do is be the fire part of fire'), there's betterment here, as well as a reverence for old hands.

"'There are certain nods to the history of American music on this LP – Chuck Berry, Les Paul, Bo Diddley,' Callahan reveals. 'But they're all done more in tribute than in copping a style.'

* The history of The Fall in 1:45.

* Check it out: Members of The Caribbean DJ on local dc radio station. Archives of previous shows by the famous dc Ians: Mackaye and Svenonius, among others, at the link.

* "Poetry is an orphan of silence. The words never quite equal the experience behind them." -- Charles Simic


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