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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Party Like it's 2009

Happy (almost) New Year, Solid State!

This will be the last post of 2008. And what a year it's been. I'm a little short on time, so perhaps we can discuss the dizzying highs and terrifying lows — and creamy middles — once I'm back from vacation next week. For now though, I just wanted to pass along a couple of recently announced NYE shows that came along too late for me to write about in the paper. Drum roll, please . . .

Blowtorch and The Vacant Lots at Muddy Waters . . . really? Yup. I got that right. Muddy Waters. If you haven't seen Blowtorch yet, do it. There's been a lot of local buzz lately about revived punk/rock bands from decades past. But Bill, Clark and Co. were getting their avant garde nu wave punk thing on months before anyone ever heard of Death or Rough Francis. And much like those bands, they rock. Hard. Vacant Lots have been on the lips of many a local music fan recently as well, though I've yet to catch them personally. Consider them at the top of my 2009 To Do List. Show starts at 11 p.m. and tix — available at Pure Pop — are $10 bucks.

The Cush and A Moment in Time at The Skinny Pancake. Gabby & Burrette have been pounding away on their long awaited new album and I'm told by some very reliable ears that the record is sounding amazing. Still haven't been able to get my hands on a demo though . . . grrr. Anyway, this is one of the most beloved bands in Burlington and rightly so. Plus, you'll already be on the Waterfront when the fireworks start. Bonus! I'm afraid I don't know anything about A Moment in Time. But they're listed as "funk/ambient/jazz." So they've got that going for them, which is nice. Show starts at 9 and the suggestion donation is $10.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and Barbacoa at Higher Ground Ballroom
. OK, just kidding. If you're unaware of this show, you obviously don't care — plus, I mentioned it in my column this week. I'm really only using this as a segue to offer a few observations about last night's GPN show with Akron/Family. Smooth, right?

I'm not exactly a Potterhead (Pottermouth?). But I get why they're popular. The girl can stright up wail. And she's not exactly hard on the eyes. So there's that. Really, I went for Akron/Family — I've mised them every other time they've been through town — and, more to the point, to watch the GPN crowd's reaction to A/F. In a word: bewilderment. But big props to Grace and Co. for tabbing what might be the least accessible band in the country for the middle-aged Subaru-driving set that largely makes up their fan base to open the show. I thoroughly enjoyed A/F — and watching the crowd. But I think this quote from a couple seated against the back wall behind me sums it up best: "This is music?" Priceless.

My second favorite moment — aside from Grace chiding the largely native audience by addressing the crowd in a pitch perfect display of Verbonics — might have been this exchange between two middle-aged mustachioed gentleman standing behind me during GPN's set. This is verbatim, I swear:

Guy #1: Bitch sure can sing.
Guy #2: Ayuh. I'd do 'er.
Guy #1: Ayuh.

Well played, gents. You're gonna put me out of a job.

I think that's enough from me until next year — don't you hate when people say shit like that? "See you next year! Ha ha ha!" Uggh.

Here's wishing you all a happy and safe New Year's Eve!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Wishful Thinking

Ho, Ho, Ho, Solid State! (It's still Christmas for 11 more days . . . look it up)

In today's paper — a rare Friday edition! — we ran a piece featuring the holiday/New Year wishes of various folks from, or connected to, the VT music scene. Due to space limitations, we couldn't print all of them. So what follows are the remainder and a few that (predictably) came in after deadline. You'll notice  the list also includes the submissions that made the paper. This is because I didn't feel like going back through and sorting out which ones were or weren't printed. Also, several of the wishes that made the paper had to be trimmed down to fit. These are by and large reprinted as they were submitted. Technically, I'm on vacation, so edit in your mind if you must.

Oh, and feel free to add to the list in the comments section.



For Hot Chip to play a martini mixer in my living room.
For Stephen Malkmus to return State of Mind's calls.
For my police record to be cleared so I can finally get a work permit
to play music in Asia.

Adam King, Musician/ Music critic


I, Kyle 'Fattie B.' Thompson, would love to see these 3 items from Santa jammed it my stocking this year:
1. A brand new shiny economy (with extra money for those who need it coming directly out of the wallets of those don't)
2. A Tribe Called Quest and Fugees reunion concert at Steez on my birthday
And . . .
3. A night of SERIOUS drinking with Smiling Tom Messner, Pamela Polston, The Logger and Howard Dean, Amy Winehouse and myself.

Fattie B

*Ed note: Ms. Polston says, "Bring it on."*

On behalf of Positive Pie:
I would like a BAND TO SHOW UP ON TIME FOR SOUND CHECK.  Not just the bass player, not just the drummer (who is waiting for the guitarist who has got his kit in the back of his van)  but THE WHOLE BAND.  ON TIME.  Ready to set up, with all of their gear, no complaints, and just sound check. 

Anne-Marie Keppel, Music Manager, Positive Pie 2

1.       For musicians, writers and artists to get along and support each other...more.
2.       A forum for reviews of all music that comes through Burlington – yes, to review Everything!
3.       For bands to play 3 sets - an entire night, like it used to be.
4.       More clubs and live-music coffeehouses.
5.       And for myself - a nice light, powerful Resnik brand P.A. System.

CHARLIE MESSING –  singer and guitarist, formerly with “Be That Way” and “Johnny Vermont”.
(and 30 years ago, with the “Unholy Modal Rounders” and with Robert Gordon)


More seriously, though, I would love to see more non-bar music venues in Vermont...or at least more stage-centric designs.

Thirtyseven of The Algorhythms

While all my personal favorite all-time best wishes were granted already November 4, 2008, I'll be greedy:

I'd love a Creston Electronics rosewood twang machine, with an all-rosewood neck and a Charlie Christian neck pick-up, Lollar vintage tele bridge pick-up, etc., in my stocking.

I'd be very happy with a Joseph Campanella Cleary F-style mandolin, made in his incredible violin-building process, under the tree.

And finally, a Max Schwartz Liberty amplifier, with a 10" Weber Blue Pup in a varnished-tweed cabinet, about 15 watts of  de-lish tone and attitude (I KNOW I'm gettin' this one!), anytime, anywhere.

I also want Frankie Andreas to come to Honky Tonk Tuesday and shred the bejeezus out of some deep lick-age. Come on kid--give it up.

Brett Hughes

I wish for a armored/ATV/ pope mobile-style vehicle that will drive mikey dread and I around so we both don't have another year like this last one.

Daryl Rabidoux-
Strangeways Recording/Not for Profit Stuntman

I hope Santa brings a hammer and one final nail to drive into the coffin of post-modernism.

Michal Chorney - composer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist.

In 2008 I toured New England. I was accompanied sometimes by a Vegas show girl on dumbek, a girl on flute, a belly dancer with hand cymbals, a viola player and I went on National TV by myself. In 2009 I'd love a band... Oh, and more yummy groupies ;)


I'm not too particular about what I find under the tree as long as she's got long legs, great tits, and she's quick to get out of her stockings...

J.J. Harris of the metal band Amadis

I've got enough stuff . . . maybe a few places to put what I have to good use, especially the stuff I have laying around that hasn't been used in 2008.

Learn to REALLY play some of the instruments I've picked up the past few years: the accordion Marc Savoy gave me, the bodhran lugged back from Ireland, the ehru bartered for in Bejing, Mike Aldridge's lap steel guitar, the flute from Travis Perry in Canyon de Chelly, Cyrus McQueen's 12-string guitar . . .

The ability to say no, instead of maybe, which always turns in yes, when asked to call a weeknight dance in Montreal, a club date that starts at 11pm, the chance to play for 10 minutes after driving 4 hours each way for a worthy cause . . .

Spend more time teaching and learning (vs. performing)

My wish list sounding less like new year's resolutions......

Mark Sustic

Dear Vermontaclaus,

I would like a crystal clear description of the niche my newest set of songs fits into so I can decide how tight my jeans should be, what bands I should make friends with, and what clubs would fall over their beer-soaked rugs to have me on their stage. This would save us a lot of hair-pulling poring over concert calendars and unanswered emails to tick tick. Barring that, a house with a recording studio 2 hours from every east coast city.


Alex Nief would like the City Market parking lot to be redesigned and preferably not by someone who enjoys demolition derbies and screaming hippies. Simply making it one-way would seem adequate.

He would also like...

...his license back from Vermont and New Hampshire. Did you know that running a yellow in Burlington is against city statute? Well it is. I'm not paying the ticket, so you might as well just give it back. As for New Hampshire, I plead "live free." attention span. I'm not taking the drugs, I take enough drugs already. I just want a goddamn organic attention span.

I want my father back you sonofabitch! quit drinking and making fun of people. But that will never happen so he'd accept a modicum of tolerance from his audience.

...CCTA to wait until the scheduled departure time before leaving. This isn't Tokyo, we're not in that much of a hurry. Waiting a half hour for the next bus in the dead of winter is not going to be tolerated this year.

...deaf people to stop trying to talk; It's disconcerting. He also thinks that it would be fun if blind people had to play Marco Polo (it gets everyone involved in disability awareness).

...a strip club on the Church Street Marketplace. It's beginning to look a lot like a Michael Eisner wet dream.

Alex Nief

How about fast,efficient rail from DC to Montreal, local and express (why isn't Obama including rail in his plan for economic recovery through the renovation of the country's infrastructure?); and a gift certificate to the best acoustic guitar store in the world, Gruhn Guitars in Nashville, TN (note the similarity in names!).

Kris Gruen

All Husbands AKA wants for Christmas is to be asked to open for The Specials on their reunion show at the Higherground Ballroom, and then joining them on stage for the encore to play rousing covers of "Skinhead Moonstomp" and "Pressure Drop." We don't think that this is too much to ask.
Husbands AKA

We wish for the coming transmission from our home planet of Electronic Halodise to reach our Earthly plain soon so as we may complete "our" plan to open up the universal highway so all beings may intermingle soul to soul.

Joe Halo, Johnnie Day, Jarmac, F.P. Cassini et al.
Electric Halo


Santa Claus, right or wrong
What I want is one hit song
Can use the cash, don't want the fame
Don't need to be a household name
Fa- la- la, ring- ding- ding
A song for everyone to sing

Carol Abair

Justin and Chris @ Nexus Artist Management  are thankful this holiday season for an easier work visa process for our artists touring the United States from other countries, and are very hopeful that Alex Crothers and Capacitor (Josh Brown), will bring back the "LIFTED" series in the New Year.  Oh yeah... and dancing Sugar Plums are alway nice...

Nexus Artist Management


My usual answer to "what do you want for Christmas" is 'To be free of obligation', but since you asked...
I want satire and irony to be taught in schools.
I want listeners to value the dynamic content of their music, rather than just how loud it is.
I want people playing music too loudly in their earbuds to actually become deaf.
I want people to listen to albums, rather than "collections of singles."

Joel Abbott
The Go Ahead And


DJ Llu wants:
1. For me: The DJ computer program "Serato" (heck yes say my fellow DJs).
2. For the fabulous: A queer bar back in Burlington.
3. For the lil' jocks inside all of us, cause who doesn't like grown men slapping each other's asses?: A Giants repeat Super Bowl win.
4. For my inner "dance-boi": The new Missy Elliott album, "Block Party" (please, no more delays!  It has been over a year!)
5. For my buddy Ober n' Out and all other redheads: Kathy Griffin live in Burlington. 
6. For Drag Ball 2009: Inspiration for my drag group that tops last year.

DJ Llu

I'd like more bloggers for False 45th.  Email me.  [email protected]

I want record clubs to flourish from coast to coast or at least see one start in Burlington...and be invited.

I want four new albums from The Capstan Shafts.

A crushing US win over Mexico in Azteca and an easy draw for the next World Cup.

Brian Murphy
Blogger -


1. An American flag autographed by Becky Rogers and Rev. Sullivan of The Dirty Blondes.

2. For Casey Rae-Hunter to move back to Burlington so we can finally start our psychedelic dirge band called The Ides of Snid.

3. A proper Zola Turn reunion show in 2009 (hmmmm).

Sean Altrui
Musician/booking agent


Dear Santa, I'll keep it simple this year:

1. a castle in Scotland
2. a penthouse apartment in Manhattan
3. a private island in the South Pacific (or the Mediterranean)
4. a world tour with "backing band" Doctor Teeth and the Electric Mayhem
5. a helicopter for transport to and from gigs
6. a tattoo of a tiger on my left shoulder jumping out of the fog with a tear on his cheek and a reflection of Elvis in the tear
7. some soft porn (for the wife)

Aaron Flinn


I want Yo La Tengo to come play a special Hanukah all-requests benefit show for The Radiator.  Swale and The Cush will open.  Yo La Tengo will be impressed, take both bands out on the road and get them signed to Matador.

Mike Carney
Host of Anything but Country on The Radiator


My musical Christmas wish is that John Tesh and David Hasselhoff do an album together.

Rev. Diane Sullivan


All I want for Christmas is...
1. Unsullied cowgirl boots - to add some personality to my new business casual dress code.
2. Money management skills - so when the world goes to hell I'll have my stash under the mattress.
3. To find the Maine equivalent of the Monkey House - the perfect merging of bar and music venue! 

Bridget Burns
Wyld Stallions Records Owner
(And Portland Phoenix Account Executive - Woot!)


A Seven Days music critic who is more knowledgeable and less clever, more in depth and less hip and jaded. Someone who actually reviews the songs on a CD and not merely lumps them all , as well as the artist, in some tidy category of said critic's own making. And if said critic refers to said artist's history he should feel some obligation to actually get it right. 

Patrick Joseph Fitzsimmons

I wish that all the vocal microphone grilles in all the bars and clubs in Burlington will have a nice long wintery soak in disinfectant this holiday season.

-Creston Lea, guitar-maker, rock-n-roller


I'd love a Creston guitar, a bari sax, a goody bag full of Lunaroma products, and the re-opening of Club Toast, or something comparable downtown.

Caroline O'Connor
Saxophonist & Chanteuse, among other things


In Memory of Pluto (collectively at 2:35 am) would like for the holidays...
1. For Husbands AKA's "skavan" to be mysteriously riddled with obscene the bottom of the Winooski...
2. "Chinese Democracy"
3. For Mr. Island to walk again...
4. To no longer use the emergency brake as the primary braking mechanism in our shuttle...
5. For deaf children to fly again...
6. To kiss Tom Waits on the lips (just for the picture)
7. For Justin Gonyea to finish the track order of our CD
8. For Seth to phone in the vocals from prison once more...
9. For Ryan to be 16 again (with Urian Hackney's chops)
10. And for the Metronome to go... beep beep beep BEEP beep beep beep BEEP...

This is our list of demands...

In Memory of Pluto

These are uncertain times and we know most bands in Vermont don't make a lot of money.  Our wish this Christmas is that all Vermont bands be granted access to the beer they deserve.  There are bands out there living twelve pack to twelve pack not knowing where the next beer is going to come from.   We wish that all the dark, cold, and cramped band practice venues of Vermont could be equipped with  a decent and ordinary keg cooler filled with the band's beer of choice.  If you're a politician, showgoer, club owner or just plain music lover .. . please, this Christmas, give beer to  musicians.


I wish...
1. UVM would stop trying to impress the parents of prospective
students with elaborate new buildings and invest more money in our
education and less on superficial ridiculousness.
2. WRUV host a college radio live music festival that'll rock y'alls socks.
3. Bodies of Water, Born Ruffians, and Bon Iver play Burlington before
4. that WRUV have even more shows with articulate and informative
guests, interesting and educational themes, and live music production
in the 2009 Spring Schedule (*i know i'll get this one!).

Alaina Janack
aka WRUV DJ & Director of Fiscal/Fun(ds)


I wish....
1. To get our impressive Rock Vinyl Collection out of storage and into
the station!
2. The Music Promoters only sent us albums that people will actually listen to.
3. For the love of GOD, that our station will get the redesign it so
desperately needs!

Jess Rahn/DJ Twist
Music Director


1) The Jesus Lizard to make it back to Vermont for their reunion tour.
2) Vermont summer music festival with no Jam bands.
3) Pinball Saloon/Bar with the ultimate juke box music selection by
WRUV & Radiator DJ's.
4) Tick Tick to take over a small dive bar and stop pretending the
Bakery is a secret.
5) Rock and Roller Skate, Music Rink(R).
6) No more Mexican restaurants that suck.

Free Range Chicken


I would like seven pipers piping out remixes of Pavement B-Sides while
ornately decked out in flowers and leaves and waving golden wands in
the air with decided glee and satisfaction, where it will suddenly
turn warm and sunny and we can wiggle our toes in the grass again.

Brooke Morrison
WRUV DJ// Total Music Obsessionist/Enthusiast/Former Rock MD of the
lovely station.


i'd like a competant or better president, legal afterhours in
burlin-ton, a clean vinyl of creamer and ks remix of jason downs
'cherokee', less coal and switches, AAA and a puppy.

DJCapsule wed 0900=1200 90.1 WRUV


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Simply The Best

This just in from Mr. Colin Clary: Not one, but two, VT bands made indie music blog PopMatters Best Indie Pop of 2008 Top 10 List! And they are — drum roll, please! — The Smittens and The Capstan Shafts. Weird that this came in as I was working on my own top 10 . . .

Anyway, if I could borrow a phrase, "Yow!" Congrats to both bands.

In other news, Higher Ground just announced that Andrew Bird is coming back to town on April 5. It's a Christmas miracle!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Mighty Wind

Yo yo, Solid State.

I've been meaning to get to this post for a while. But as 7D is ramping up for a double production cycle this week — meaning, publishing two papers in one week — I've been a little backed up in the blog department. My apologies.

Anyway, this press release came in too late for me to do anything with it in last week's paper. But it looks to be a pretty fantastic show, especially for a Wednesday night — honestly, based on my experience at the Monkey on Saturday, which you can read about in the paper tomorrow, Rough Francis alone is worth the price of admission. It is also one of those rare press releases that is actually kind of fun to read and doesn't really require much in the spin department from me. So here it is in its entirety.

(Note: I'm sure your probably thinking to yourself, "Gee, Dan. Reprinting a press release? Isn't that a total cop-out/lazy blogging?" To which I humbly reply, "And how!")

Tick Tick Presents:
White Wind...A Happening...
Wednesday, December 10
At Club Metronome
Doors at 8pm
$6 21+, $10 18+

The Fatal Flaws: 9pm
James Kochalka Superstar: 9:30
The Persian Claws: 10:00
The Vacant Lots: 10:30
Rough Francis: 11:00
Nosebleed Island: 11:30

White Wind...A Happening . . .
White Wind is not a band, White Wind is six bands, White Wind is YOU, White Wind is US, White Wind is intended to be an exploration in sight, sound and experience.  We are challenging our Idea of what a show is, expanding the format of how a show is presented and removing the barrier between artist and YOU/US.  Our hopes are to create an environment where you can move seamlessly between each sound, like the wind.  As your attention turns from band to band throughout the space, you will be literally surrounded and engulfed by a tornado of sight and sound. This will be an unprecedented event (for us, anyway), combining the best of Burlington's high energy sounds with a fresh and psychedelic set-up. 

The Fatal Flaws:
Foofarawk! Foofarawk! Foofarawk! Foofarawk! Foofarawk! Foofarawk! Foofarawk! Foofarawk! Foofarawk! Foofarawk! Foofarawk!

Burlington's no-fi, gritty, no frills, in your face, garage rock project of husband-and-wife duo Chris Beneke and Sasha Rodriguez, that will make you rip your soul out and STOMP, STOMP, STOMP!!

James Kochalka Superstar:
No intro needed, but just in case!

James Kochalka has achieved an international cult following for his idiosyncratic comics and graphic novels as well has for his quirky music. His comics have been translated and published in 8 languages around the globe. He invented the daily diary comic strip (see which has spawned literally dozens of imitators. A small-town rock star, Kochalka performs almost exclusively in his home base of Burlington, VT, yet his music has still managed to make a name for itself with fans around the globe. The three albums that Rykodisc raided songs from to put together the greatest hits collection (Our Most Beloved) all charted on CMJ's top 200.

Although not on Ryko anymore they still rock the socks (or pants) off of Burlington, VT whenever they grace the stage.

The Vacant Lots:
They had lived by night after the Flood after the Wilderness . . . before they learned to weep . . . a rhythm generates coagulating into prose. hands abused by work. Minds abused by Time. Deep memories are cast from the terrible shore. Less black the dark of night than the eyes of Fate . . . the hour of my sad twilight has come. The immense weight of time . . . situated on the screen.  Close-up.  Black & white.  Fades . . . exiled from love. The scale of things.  The existence of Death was a primary source of religion.  Internal equilibrium.  Dead upon the seashore. Thrown into existence. The meaning of the word. Genealogy to be created & recreated endlessly. Reinvented if necessary. Salvation an end in which there was no means save Art.  Man awaits daily pardon.  Man's eternal dwelling place lies in his deceit.  The oracle has come in endless streams of vomit . . . filled w/a sensation of grief & Boredom . . .far removed & distant like a planet detached & disillusioned like the night unable to discern the melancholy which penetrates the heart. The Spirit moved . . .endless cattle w/faces worn. The need for survival. Death instinct. The senses dull useless.  The herd needs somebody to follow.  Remember we bathed ourselves (in moonlight) remember we closed our eyes (at dawn).  Seamless curtains torn & laced in moonlight at dawn. We end up sleeping next to bodies we will never really know. Despite the nights alone & the days on fire (no more tomorrows) the end of superstitions . . . Uncertainty is just a way of being inefficient.  What if Edgar Poe wrote a rock n roll song?  Aeolian procession in midnight flight a feeling you can hear. There is always something new in your development towards an undetermined end.  I want to reenter life.  Out of the tomb & into the womb.  (or is it the other way around?) 8 times the vowel O appears.  Listen . . . we have arrested our senses. We have enslaved our attention. Will we never find ourselves again?  We must re-assume our dreams in the infinite Alchemical night where life is no longer continually lacerated.  Extend the voice.  Liberation is the key.  The hour has come. The broken universe has draped over us the new dawn. No longer a tomb for a bed. Extend the voice. It's time to reevaluate our values. Hear the voices that language forsakes. There may be no other passage thru time . . .

The Persian Claws
Bill Mullins is at it again!

Nose Bleed Island:
Joe Agresta was born 8/12/1981 in New Jersey. Then, twenty four years later, under the guise of Mr. Island met Dracula at a garage sale. The two spent the night drinking wine, listening to soul records and conspiring against systems of capitalism. The next day they built a robot, moved to Pittsburgh, PA, and started recording Silly Sad Circuit's Dead Baby in a Jar, their first album together. Both Dracula and Mr. Island thought it was a failure. At the completion of the album, Dracula left the band to become an alchemist. After Dracula's departure, Mr. Island and Robot set to work on writing and recording songs documenting the formation of the band. During this time Mr. Island started looking for other (non-robotic) friends to join the band, finally inducting Miss Marbles and 11 year-old Zbear. One night while the gang was finishing up the second album, MORE TALES From the Blood Island, Dracula showed up with lots of beer everyone got drunk (except Zbear cause he's only 11). During a video shoot robot was hit by a car; destroying his cardboard body. Three days later Mr. Island found a real robot in the trash. A brain transplant was performed. Three months later, Mr. Island, who had recently changed his name to Joey Pizza Slice after marrying a slice of pizza in a dream, was also run over, this time by a pickup truck with no driver. The band is currently recording their next LP, Opposite Hitler Mustache, to be released as a limited run of 50 plastic records.

Rough Francis
Who is this mysterious band? What do they want? Rumour has it they are the sons of Death . . . with a little My First Days on Junk thrown in the low end.  Find out what the riots have been about and shake your fists at the man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Life of Death; A Q&A with Bobby Hackney Sr.

As promised in my column yesterday, here's the full transcript of my recent interview with Death — and, of course, Lambsbread — drummer Bobby Hackney Sr. I hate repeating myself, so if you need background info on why this is cool, just read the effing column already. But I'm sure you already have, right? Right.

Unfortunately, the Luddites at Drag City — the label that is re-issuing all of the Death recordings in February — have asked that I not post MP3s of the original material . . . even though the Freeps did yesterday. I guess the label thinks that actually hearing a few tunes before you can buy them is somehow a bad thing. How deliciously 2005! However, they didn't say anything about pointing you in the direction of where I found them. If anyone asks, you didn't get this stuff from me, OK? And when the album comes out in February, do everyone involved a solid and buy the damned thing. You won't regret it, I promise.
Anyway, I don't often demand that you go see shows. But if ever I were to insist upon mandatory attendance, it would be to see Bobby Hackney Jr.'s band Rough Francis playing Death this weekend. You have two shots, Friday at 242 Main and Saturday at The Monkey House. If the band is half as good as their old man and his brothers back in the day, it should be pretty epic. Plus, you can say you were there when Burlington out-hipstered Williamsburg with music created by three Detroit teenagers more than thirty years ago. Put that in your skinny jeans.

But that's enough from me. On to the interview!

DAN BOLLES: It's remarkable to me that this stuff has essentially been forgotten about for the last thirty-plus years. What does it feel like to have your son revisit music you made before he was born?
BOBBY HACKNEY SR.: It just kind of blew our minds. We had really thought that this was something that was just a slice of our lives, that it was that time, you know? . . . It was just something, that chapter, that we thought was over when we left Detroit.

My brother, David, he was the leader of Death. He always held this resounding faith that the world would someday here this music. We all believed at that time that we were playing some really pretty good rock and roll. But we weren't trying to "predate" anybody or be the first first to do anything. We just wanted to be a good Detroit rock band. That's all we were thinking about. So for this to come out and for [people] to find about about it . . . I mean, we were sort of in the world of reggae and blues, that type of music. So  we weren't really in touch too much with what was going on in the underground rock scene. So fo our kids to dig this up . . . I get a call from California one day and it's like, "Dad, do you realize they're playing your old music at undergroup parties?" And I'm like, "What are you talking about?" It all hit us by surprise.

DB: You've mentioned being influenced early on by R&B and reggae, so I'm curious about when or, rather, how the rock influence entered into the equation.
BH: Well, this was before the reggae influence. But living in Motown . . . you can't live in Detroit and not be into R&B and the Motown music. We started out in 1971 as a funk band. We did a little  bit of backing up for some soul singers in Detroit, but we all . . . well, rock just kind of exploded on us. And we started just going to a lot of concerts. Iggy and The Stooges, MC5, Bob Seeger, Grand Funk Railroad. And we'd see some of the bigger acts that would come into town like Zeppelin and The Who. Being in Detroit at the time, you just had a feast of any kind of music that you wanted to get into. And we just got into the rock and roll. And David just didn't look back.Death_tammyhackney

DB: I stumbled across some MP3s of the original 45s on the web, so I've actually heard a couple of the original tracks. To the casual listener, they really sound like they could have been recorded in Williamsburg earlier this year. But they predate the retro indie-punk thing by a good thirty years.
BH: Yeah. That's what we were told. But we didn't know!

DB: So what was it specifically about that rock influence that led you to make music that, in retrospect — and without hyperbole — really seems to have been ahead of its time?

BH: It was kind of a three-part element. David was the main catalyst. Being a guitar player in the early Seventies, how could you not be influenced by Jimi Hendrix? But we liked the power trios. There was something about Grand Funk Railroad, who lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan. There was something about The MC5. There was something about Iggy and The Stooges — even though Iggy was fronting the group, he still had a power trio backing him up. I think that's really where the rock influence came from. There was a lot of crossover in Detroit, you know?

And I think that's what it was really all about. We were just really into rock and roll. We liked the clothes, we liked the hairstyles, the music, what the music was saying. And this was a period of massive protest and consciousness. So I think we just really tuned into that to, you know? I mean, being in Detroit, having seen the '67 riot and all that. And rock music was a huge part of all that. So it wasn't really hard to be influenced by rock and roll.

DB: How did Bobby Jr. come across the old recordings?
BH: It's funny. We had been trying to tell him . . . when Bobby was born we had changed the name from Death to The Fourth Movement and were doing this Gospel-rock thing. And he was too young to really remember that. He really more remembers the reggae thing [Lambsbread]. When David went back to Detroit he left me and Dannis here just being a bassist and a drummer. And we were kind of doing some exploring into either keeping the rock thing going or doing some other things. And our involvement with the University of vermont — we were woking and going to school part time. So during our involvement there, I ended up being a DJ for a little while at WRUV. There was a whole crew of people from that time who went on to do some great things in the community. In particular my friend Jay Strauser who was doing Trenchtown Rock and bringing people like Peter Tosh and Bob Marley inbto town. And that's where a lot of our reggae influence came from, jusrt meeting all these reggae stars and going to those shows. It didn't take a rocket scientist to do the math: This music loves the bass and drums, were a bassist and a drummer. People seem to love reggae, you know?

We were still dabbling into the rock. Because once it's in your blood . . . but we did go full tilt into reggae. But we thought that the Death thing  was just something we'd sit and talk of fondly. But we never thought there would be a big interest in what we were doing. We got sparse airplay in Detroit and there were circles of people who knew about what were doing. And we did a lot of garage show. But we just thought it was a chapter that was over. We'll just go on.

So Bobby, he grew up seeing more of the reggae. But we used to tell him, "You know we were in a rock band," when he  started liking hardcore and punk rock. When he started learning how to play, he was playing with his friends and I used to tell him all the time, "You know, me and your uncle, we played rock way back in the day." And he was like, "Yeah, yeah Dad." But we never really sat down a had the whole gist of what Death was all about. We thought OK, we've moved on. It'll be something that everybody will  be fond of, like a family heirloom or something. Every once in a while we'll say, "Hey, look what we did. look what we used to do." And we can laugh at the clothes and the hairstyles.

My son Julian was in California and he calls me up and tells me that they're playing old Death records at these underground parties. So Bobby went on a couple of websites and dug up this whole thing about these collectors trading the records and one guy bought one for $800. And I was like, "Wait a minute. Are you sure you're talking about the right band here?" I almost fell out of my seat. And then to find out that we had predated a lot of the punk bands that were doing anything like that. That's something that really took us by storm. I mean, we were just trying to keep up with bands like The Who and Iggy and the Stooges and MC5. We weren't thinking about "hey this is a new thing called punk rock!" Nobody had even heard of punk rock then. If you had said "punk rock" to somebody back then, it would have been an insult! "What do you mean Punk? You calling me a punk?!" We didn't know what we were doing, except fot the fact that we just wanted to be a good Detroit rock band. 

So Bobby informed us about it. I can be thankful to my son, because I always tried to convince him to play more worldly-type music or reggae music. And they were adamant about playing hardcore. But it was probably just in his blood. And I put it there and didn't even know it! I just didn't know what I did, you know?

DB: So have you heard Rough Francis yet?
BH: I haven't. I'm going to hear it for the first time tomorrow night. I know that they've been practicing. And they've been telling me, "Dad, I hope that we do the songs justice." And I'm like, "I'm just surprised that you're doing them." So I'm just looking forward to it like everybody else is, just to see it.

One last thing is that I want to be sure that people realize that none of this would have happened without David. He was our mentor. Not only getting into rock and roll, but to getting into music. And it goes way back.

My dad sat us down in front of the TV and made us watch the beatles the night they came on "The Ed Sullivan Show." He told us then, "I want to you boys to watch this, this is history in the making. America is never going to forget this." And he literally made us sit in front of the TV and watch it. The very next day, David went out into the alley and found an old guitar that somebody had thrown away and he took some nylon or some thread or seomthing and made some strings for it. He was always the one that really influenced us to become a band and to play music. And throughout this whole thing, it's that his name is honored. It's really a testimony to his faith and to his dream that all of this is happening right now.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

'Tis The Season to Go Bowling

Ho, ho, ho, Solid State.

Now that the last remains of Thanksgiving dinner have been eaten, The Lions have been thoroughly embarrassed on national TV, Church Street is lit up like the Vegas strip and Black Friday has come and gone — and with only one WalMart trampling fatality . . . way to go America! — 'tis officially the season to be jolly. Well fa la effin' la, la-la la la!

Actually, I really enjoy the Christmas season. The big day, not so much. It's always pretty anti-climactic and, as the product of a broken home — cue sad Christmas-y piano music — really kind of a pain in the ass. But the buildup is great. Holiday parties, Christmas movies, old cartoon and stop-motion TV specials and, of course, Christmas music.

That's right. I like Christmas music. Do something.

I know, I know. It's omnipresent. Most of it sucks. And the fact that many of our finer retailers and radio stations have been playing it since Halloween only compounds its truly inspired obnoxiousness. But I can't help it. I'm a sucker for sentimentality. And bells. Shiny, silver bells.

I love the classics, of course: Bing Crosby's "White Christmas," Ella and Louis (Jordan) singing "Baby, It's Cold Outside," Nat King Cole's "O Come All Ye Faithful." But I really dig the offbeat novelty stuff. Give me dogs barking "Jingle Bells," Ray Stevens counting off the "12 Pains of Christmas" or Eric Cartman singing "O Holy Night" and I'm one happy, eggnog-soused elf. Moving on . . .

As some of you know, last year I started a hipster bowling league with my old Middle Eight band mate Jeremy Gantz. If you're just joining us, here's the gist: Every Wednesday night, I get together with 63 of my closest friends and associates to drink cheap beer, roll rocks and listen to some truly killer tunes. The folks at Champlain Lanes are nice enough to let us plug our iPods into the stereo every week, so the mix is always pretty eclectic. Good times, believe me. Anyway, we take a holiday break soon, so I'm working on the ultimate holiday music mix to unveil the week before Christmas. Obviously, I'll be leaning on some less offensive standards. But I'm really trying to find some lesser known gems to make up the bulk of the playlist. Here's a tiny snippet of what I've got so far:

"Christmas at Ground Zero," Weird Al Yankovic
"Christmas With the Devil," Spinal Tap
"Angels We Have Heard on High," MU330
"Christmas in Hollis," Run DMC
"Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)," The Decemberists
"I've Got a Boner for Christmas," Nerf Herder
"Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)," The Ramones
"Funky, Funky Xmas," New Kids on the Block
"Oi to the World," The Vandals
"F**k Christmas," Eric Idle

Not a bad start — I'm up to about an hour-and-a-half, all totaled. But I could use a hand finding more. So whaddya say, Solid State? Help your friendly local music critic find a Christmas miracle. 

In the meantime, here's a video of what might be my new favorite Christmas tune, Toby Keith's "Have I Got a Present for You" from Steven Colbert's "A Colbert Christmas." Take it away, Toby . . .

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