It has happened. I am officially a tumblrhead. I spend lots of time over there. LOTS. Like I post art every day and random awesome all the time and occasional thoughts fairly often. Which means I don't get over here that much.
BECAUSE THERE JUST AIN'T ENOUGH TIME IN A DAY!
But let us despair not. Life is good.
I have new hair. Here it is.
And wrinkles in my forehead. Which means I am wise? Right? RIGHT! Sure. Let's go with that.
And my story, "The Two Annies of Windale Road", has been published in Mythic Delirium, Issue 2. Which you can read HERE!
Besides all that...geez, I can't get enough of the new Possessed by Paul James record, There Will Be Nights When I'm Lonely. Seriously, that man. HE IS SUCH A GOOD SONGWRITER. A few days ago, the singer songwriter James Hunnicutt asked on Facebook who people thought the best lyricists today were...and it stopped me in my tracks. I've been trying to figure out who I thought fit the bill...contemporary musicians who were badass lyric writers. This is the list I came up with:
Tom Waits ... because OF COURSE.
Possessed by Paul James ... because of his blunt, blues-like honesty
Joseph Huber ... because he's intense. Joy. Sorrow. He makes you feel it hard. And, come on, he can write from a bird's POV and make you interested. Ridic.
Anais Mitchell ... who I honestly don't keep up with that much, but for Hadestown alone, she is one of my favorite contemporary lyricists
Rachel Kate ... because OH MY GAWD that woman makes me wanton, makes me cry, makes me feel everything all at once.
Adam Turla of Murder by Death ... because HE WRITES STORIES! Like EPIC STORIES! and they are dark and satisfy my nefarious soul.
Oh hell. I need to stop. Obviously, I am still thinking about this. How do you write something that has a pop sensibility...that I WANT TO SING ALONG! factor...and still make it a poignant story? Who is doing that today? What can longform writers learn from excellent lyricists? One can just call them poets. My brain is stewing with it and really, right now, it shouldn't be.
GEEZ PEOPLE! Look at what you make me do. Blather. I come over here and blather. Usually about music. Hell, mostly, always about music. And ALL I WANTED TO DO was tell you about my new hair and story and that GUESS WHAT!!!??? I am trying NANOWRIMO!
And I know. I know. You are like..."But, Patty, you haven't barely even touched your novel edits ever since your beta readers gave you back feedback over a month ago." And I'm like BUT I WANNA WRITE A ROMANCE EBOOK! And I'm thinking that it is gonna be quick and dirty. Heh. Yeah, it's gonna be dirty. What, you may wonder, will it be about? IT IS GONNA BE A SNARKY LESBIAN INDIANA JONES ADVENTURE ROMANCE! Booyah. I am working on characters and plot arcs. SEE! Look how responsible I am being. I am thinking about plot rather than just starting off and blindly writing myself into a corner again. It is going to be under a pseudonym because why shouldn't I be able to have a name like RIpley Heartwrecker to my credit? or Jolene Joyland? Or something awesome like that. DOING IT!
AND IT IS MY BIRTHDAY IN 2 DAYS! Yep. Yep. YEP! It is a good week.
PS - Feel free to let me know your favorite living lyricists. Cause I'm always looking.
I HUG ALL OF YOUR FACES!
Large festivals can bullshit you on Sundays. Hell, they bullshit you all the time. They schedule a badass act when gates open, then again at abt 5 p.m. then again abt 10 so that you spend your whole day at a fest that, really, you wanted to see three bands at. Which blows. Which is why I don’t go to festivals…outside of usually hating large throngs of people, the sun and how much everything costs.
But Muddy Roots isn’t your average festival. Inevitably, there will be something happening on one of their three-ish stages that you want to go to All Day Long. There is no filler. Not even on Sundays.
Heck, Sunday was so packed full of gouda you coulda spread it on a sammie and served it with tomato soup. My ass was traveling all over the place, catching half-sets and then moving on to the next wondertent.
The day started with banging trash cans, and that’s a good thing.
White Trash Blues Revival – 11:30 a.m.
I’m not a musician. I’m a writer. I love music, but I’m by no means any kinda expert here. Which is why I’ve never heard of a diddley bow before. Don’t judge. And if you aren’t judging, but think I’m talking about Bo Diddley, I’m not. A diddley bow is a plank with a single string nailed to it with a glass bottle used as a bridge. It’s an instrument of the Deep South that gives off an uncanny, grimy outcry.
I bring this up because Joe Bent of White Trash Blues Revival plays a skiddley-bo – which is a diddley bow, but he uses a skatedeck as the base and two strings over a Red Stripe bottle. Breen (from Left Lane Cruiser) plays trashcans. When Left Lane is touring, Dirty Pete Diva is as likely to hit the cans as a stale keg. Meanwhile, Ando’s throbbing washtub bass keeps all the fellas steady.
I imagine White Trash Blues Revival as the kind of band you’d find jamming at a cornfield potluck with the moon overhead and go-go-dancers of both genders in jean shorts and PBR pasties whooping and flailing.
I dig it.
Post Script - Jack White wants to show you how to make a diddley bow.
Sterling Sisters – 1:30 p.m.
About a month before Muddy Roots, Sterling Sisters came through Chicago as support for Slim Cessna’s Auto Club. I’m glad I got to see ‘em Chicagoway, because for whatever reason, somehow I only caught the last song or two of them at Muddy Roots.
What you need to know – yeah, yeah, George Cessna is Slim’s kid. So the fuck what? He’s doing his own thing. His own wailing, dark, melodious thing. There are echoes of the dark roots jive that stem from the Auto Club, but The Sterling Sisters have an operatic soundtrack quality, rock-edged and unique to them – largely due to the unearthly and alluring voice of Scout Paré-Phillips who has a tinge of Joni Mitchell in her.
If Herzog ever did a documentary of Muddy Roots, I think a good slow pan night montage scene of blurred dancers, smokers, drinkers, bands and the night sky could be backed by The Sterling Sisters.
Carrie Nation and the Speakeasy – 3 p.m.
Ever wondered what Nashville in the 1920s mighta sounded like? Get you some Carrie Nation and the Speakeasy with their countrified Jazz Age sound.
Places I imagine Carrie Nation and the Speakeasy playing:
- The main deck of a hotel riverboat with a depressed Mark Twain impersonator slinging back drinks in front of ‘em because he had a dismal poker night and slept-in past the free continental breakfast.
- Behind the false wall of a barber shop gambling parlor with shimmy dancers encircling them.
- In a garret in New Orleans with a stained glass ceiling and a mason jar chandelier.
Slaughter Daughters – 3:30 p.m.
I was eyeing my watch throughout Carrie Nation because, lo their high speed, high test brass and grass was giving me the most pleasant palpitations, Slaughter Daughters were scheduled to come on half way through Carrie Nation’s set.
If you like your folk tunes infused with raw power, sex and mythology, search no further than the Slaughter Daughters. Slaughter Daughters is a Portland via Wichita trio comprised of Cece Honey on guitar, Ari Rose on banjo and Ster D on the upright bass. They are an ominous form of bluegrass rooted in influences as varied as Cab Calloway to Those Poor Bastards.
Goddamn, they’re good. They’re as likely to croon Art Nouveau, early radio voices as yell blue murder that pulls at your guts. Then they’ll stitch you back together with a high harmony.
Calamity Cubes – 4 p.m.
Somewhere in Mississippi there’s a one-room museum at a crossroads. There’s one display shelf in this one-room museum and that one display shelf may only be observed at twilight on the 13th day of the 13th month. (If you don’t know how to get to the 13th month, well, you’ll have to buy that intelligence from a devil like everyone else.) On this one shelf – wooden, splintered, near a dusty window – sit three jars.
Kody Oh! took a sip from the clear jar and perhaps he drank the soul of an acrobat because he’s the most writhing, contortable, steady standup bass player in roots music today. Joey Henry took a swallow from the red-tinged jar – and this is only guessing – but I think it was filled with the heart fluid Woody Guthrie because Henry’s got affliction and affection enough to fill seventeen songbooks. Then Brook Blanche came striding in and imbibed from the last jar – the green jar – and God only knows how, but part of Howlin’ Wolf’s booming and bombast stored itself in his stomach.
I don’t know how the Calamity Cubes stumbled upon the 13th month, the twilight and the jars, but they did…or maybe they didn’t – but black arts have to be at work for that much badass to be in one band.
Cutthroat Shamrock – 5:30 p.m.
The bastard children of Bill Monroe, Joe Strummer and the Pogues can be seen in Cutthroat Shamrock. Not quite a Celtic punk band – Cutthroat Shamrock has widened their genre to Appalachian Punk Rock. In a previous interview, Benjamin Whitehead stated, “We’re not really Irish or Scottish; we call what we do Appalachian music, because the Scots-Irish settled these mountains. We’ve taken the bluegrass and the Celtic music and infused it with our own thing.”
Their newest album, A Path Less Traveled, is a riot of songs on rotten misfortunes inspirited by a bullheaded, sing your way through life’s shitstorms standpoint.
Sidenote: Matthew Ryan Sharp did the art for the current album and it is GORGEOUS. You can find more of his work here and here. OI! I want his work in limited edition prints or original on my walls. LOVE.
Rachel Kate – 7:20 p.m.
Rachel Kate has a bit of blues queen in her. You think you are in for a soft singer songwriter and then she opens her mouth and is as likely to yodel as make trumpet noises as go all Koko Taylor on your ass, rattling your heart and the windows.
DAMN YOU, RACHEL KATE! Here being the second place I almost cried at Muddy Roots. I’m a marshmallow. Or a baby sloth. Or a pillow. I am something spongy and yielding and OI, when the hell did I get so fucking emotional? Maybe I should go eat glass or babies to harden up my insides, but I defy you to hear the song “Dancin’ Shoes” (written by Kate’s father) live without your heart spinning into your ribs.
Red Simpson – 8:30 p.m.
I didn’t get to see much of this legendary gentleman. What I did see was Red Simpson singing with Bob Wayne. It felt like Simpson was passing down the honor of living, writing and singing road songs to his great admirer.
Dash Rip Rock – 9:00 p.m.
Dash Rip Rock will sing about pot one song and cover Hank Williams’ “I Saw the Light” the next. In other words, there’s something for everybody in their garage roots rock. They’re a trio that sounds like the band you hear playing at a Louisiana house party where someone was tossed enough to think it was a good idea to try and dance with an alligator.
Bob Wayne and the Outlaw Carnies – 9:30 p.m.
Shit. Well, shit. Bob Wayne and James Hunnicutt were scheduled at the same time. So I only caught half a set from both.
Bob Wayne and the Outlaw Carnies play fast. Real fast. Tighter and faster than the best friend you finally banged on prom night. He’s constantly on the road and his songs vacillate between lawless turmoil and feeling a moral twinge at that turbulent living.
James Hunnicutt – 9:30 p.m.
But no matter how fast Bob Wayne’s band was, my heart was with James Hunnicutt.
Shit, whose heart wasn’t? Doesn’t matter if Hunnicutt is playing his originals or blistering out Misfits covers, he captures the crowd with golden vocals that cover you in love, regret and second chances at living full of reverence for the day.
If there is such a thing as a loving pit, you’ll find it at a James Hunnicutt show. Someone is bound to sling an arm around your shoulder and encourage you to sing along and you’ll start smiling and they’ll be smiling and you’ll question how the hell you’re grinning so big at music so full of shadows, ache and candor, but it’s because how…how could you not be shining like a fool over a song like “Don’t Let Teardrops Fill Your Eyes”?
That man is a trucker-hat-wearing, beauty-proclaiming dreamboat unafraid of wearing idealism and sentiment on his sleeve.
Possessed by Paul James – 10:30 p.m.
I find it appropriate that there is a silver and apricot sunset outside my window as I think on Possessed by Paul James.
You know that third time I almost cried at Muddy Roots? POW. During this show. Because how can you not, man? How can you not? A blog ago, I mentioned the idea of music that made you feel like you were at church. It has nothing to do with the gospel. It has to do with feeling like you are part of something bigger. Part of something important. Part of something that cares about you – or at least notices that you’re there. That’s how a Possessed by Paul James show goes down.
Possessed by Paul James will gain your respect with his speed, his roguish fiddle, his elaborate banjo playing, but his lyrics will lasso ‘round your soul and squeeze. Ten to one, he’ll invite half the audience on the stage and hundred to one that every damn person in the crowd ends up singing, even if they’ve never seen him before.
It was the perfect end to a gorgeous festival – one arm slung around a new friend and the other arm around my lover – swaying and singing to a man’s songs bent on bringing truth and beauty into the world.
Saturday was more blissful than a midnight bowla melted peanut butter, marshmallows and cheerios. It was epic. Musta drank the world’s weight in water and glistened it back out again.
Up until Saturday, I didn’t really spend much money, but hell, once I get a shovel in the merch hole…I don’t stop digging till I’m in a Vernsian pit. I spent what I brought, but I didn’t hit up the bar atm. That means WIN. But, yet again, I go leaping over magnificence. Can’t be hauling yer ass when I’ve only showcased a third of the music.
If Friday was bossin’ so hard Springsteen’s hanglows hardened, Saturday amped it to Roddy-Piper-They-Live levels of rad. Like, Jason Galaz you gotta be Tank Girl and Samuel L. Jackson and Johnny Cash’s threeway lovebaby, the misfit, badass, sincerity you got in you to pull this many fine and furious folks to one bill.
I am not exaggerating. Saturday was that good.
GatorNate and the Gladezmen – 11 a.m.
GatorNate is a coon-tail wearing ginger playing guitar, harmonica and a sampler accompanied by WillyMatt the Honeybadger on the drums. They’ve waded outta the Florida wetlands to get you bopping to their mad swamp hop sounds.
Who the fuck knew? GATOR ROCK? SWAMP HOP? SWALE SAMPLING? These things exist. My brain feels bigger. My creative field of vision expanded.
Muddy Roots – every year, every damn year – it inspires me. It makes me less afraid to go full-tilt on my own writing, because it demonstrates if you have the passion, drive and skill to get shit done and you go at it with iron tits and the expectation that it’ll be a hard road, folks eventually take notice.
Anais Nin said, “I will not adjust myself to the world. I am adjusted to myself.” Damn right. This is what Muddy Roots is – people creating their own genres, venues, record labels, wonders and worlds.
Left Lane Cruiser – Noon
Fort Wayne, Indiana, thank you for spitting out Left Lane Cruiser, a band so devilish nasty, it made a sunny afternoon feel grit-slicked as a gravel-slipped drunk. If you like Son House and the later work of R.L. Burnside, you’ll dig on the blues rock that Freddie and Brenn of Left Lane Cruiser throw down.
I want to see a burlesque show soundtracked by Left Lane Cruiser. Somebody make this waggle-hipping happen.
Hangdog Hearts – 1 p.m.
Currently in a solo incarnation, Hangdog Hearts features Austin Stirling’s exemplary capacity to play banjo, harmonica, bass drum and sing. Oh wait, and he’s a natural born storyteller. And he makes you want to dance. And even though he’s a one man band, he throws his whole body into creating full, rowdy, fervent songs that agnostically hint at possible higher powers that are as likely to look out for you as cut you loose.
And he makes gorgeous jewelry and is known to pass out free patches and GEEZ, I REALLY, REALLY LOVE THIS BAND. See him on tour. Buy his everything. But he doesn’t have an online store…so to buy his everything you need to SEE HIM ON TOUR or go to his facebook page and message him.
Rachel Brooke – 1:30 p.m.
I only caught the end of Rachel Brooke’s set on the main stage after moseying out of Hangdog Hearts with a sixteen ton smile. Ms. Brooke and a drummer elegantly enthralled the sun-dazed crowd.
Ten Foot Polecats – 2:15 p.m.
Do you know what a dirty shot is? It’s when you close out a bar and, after a full shift, you’re still so broke that the bartender – who hates your cocktail serving ass – buys you a drink, but because she hates you, she just empties the last sips of almost empty bottles, no matter what kind of liquor, into a pint glass. What you got is a hellborn bastard drink that you know you shouldn’t down, but do anyway. The dirty shot inevitably leads to a lost night – and a great trio to score your demise (and possible redemption) is the gutbucket soul of 10 Foot Polecats.
Then there were fried pickles. Yes, my darlings. My dears. My wanton hustlers and friends. FRIED PICKLES! Not spears, mind you, but SLICES of salty empyrean. Professor M. and I sat under a food tent, hiding from that cataclysmic orange orb, downing le bad bad food. I’m still drinking gd green smoothies to right myself from all the fried splendor. We were within earshot to hear Sean and Zander at the main stage.
Hellbound Glory – 4:45 p.m.
Yep. Hellbound Glory did it again. Made me smile. Made me swoon. Totally worth seeing live.
Dad Horse Experience – 6 p.m.
Dad Horse Ottn wants to lift your spirits with his banjo and foot-organ. You can’t throw a candle at the sun and think you’ve made the sky brighter, so, instead, Dad Horse goes into the dives, the basement parties, the sinpits and tentshows and, through a German interpretation of American roots gospel, makes the world a more better place.
…If Twin Peaks had a traveling preacher, it’d be the Dad Horse Experience.
Deadbolt – 7 p.m.
I really, really wanted to see Deadbolt. They are surf weirdos who play the occasional power tool. Seeing their deadpan, gallows humored rockabilly would’ve been filler to my bucket list…but…but…Joseph Huber was playing. I saw Deadbolt set up. I saw them continue to set up…and then I moved my ass over and watched Joseph Huber play.
Joseph Huber – 7:20 p.m.
GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, I LOVE JOSEPH HUBER.
::deep, calming breaths::
I am ok. Really. I’m ok. But, seriously, what a fine motherfucking poet that man is and he plays hella banjo and he seems to be the kind sort and he BUILDS FURNITURE and PAINTS. I’m not joking. Go check out his website and then, if you could please buy me one of these and one of these, I’d thank you mightily.
I can’t do it. I was gonna narrow it down to the top three Huber tunes you should try if you don’t know him already and I can’t. Four. I give you the above four…and that is only off his newest album. Do it. Listen. He plays the kinda music where me and my ShawnaBanana end up singing at each other in our awful, awful, out of tune voices and it is all ok, because the music is loud and people have arms slung around each other and everyone is swaying and the night feels right. Life feels good, even in all its inconsistencies and hardships.
I admit it. Here is one of the moments that I almost cried at Muddy Roots. I don’t know how or when it happened, but I have become a big ol’ softie. I now feel life more deeply, both the bitter and the beautiful. Listening to Huber, watching the joy of the crowd, being with new friends and old…the closest thing I can say it felt like was the best of times singing in church when the weight of the world washes out of you.
Goddamn Gallows – 8:30 p.m.
Ever wonder what Ol’ Scratch plays in Hell’s elevators? Look no further. The Goddamn Gallows are a gonzo carnie hobo band equal parts eerie, ferocious and innovative. Mikey Classic gives winking-eyed pirate face while belting out gutterbilly moans as Fishgutzzz beats the standup bass and plays foil to TV’s Avery’s lunatic miming of everything from jerking off to ODing while he plays (mainly) washboard and accordion. Baby Genius beats the drums and Joe Perreze plays banjo and if you see them live…you will never see the same show twice.
Muddy Roots goes nuts for the Gallows. NUTS. Actually every show I’ve ever seen the Gallows has gone nuts. Note specific to Muddy Roots...it’s a surreal thing…seeing six-year-olds rushing the stage to dance to a songs like “Waiting Around to Die” while the rest of the audience turns into a pit or slackjawed with awe.
The Monsters – 10 p.m.
Holy shit. The Monsters KILLED IT. Like motherfucking slammed that stage into submission with their red jackets, black lapels, matching turquoise guitar and bass and voodoo, rock’n’roll, um mau mau power. And even though they ripped the main stage to splinters, Beat-man was humble and apologetic saying the show was a mess (it wasn't) - re: busting two strings - which I blame on the guitar gods trying to keep balance in the universe. That much awesome in one fucking place probably could cause some kinda gd wormhole or alternate dimension Evil Dead skywarphole.
I was on the front line of nerdo wonderkids, dancing at the edge of the stage with Ms. Amanda and her mustachioed Joe and their lovely family. Professor M…well, he had the moonshine in him and one minute he would be behind me dancing and the next he was in the pit.
::breath comes in all fluttery::
I LOVE THE MONSTERS.
Black Flag – Midnight
Eh. I stayed for the first four-ish songs and it was basically a whole hell ton of a theremin over Black Flag songs and where the energy was up
and the crowd mightily enjoyed themselves, I just…I dunno. I think I would’ve preferred seeing Greg Ginn get all metal jazz guitar theremin in a whole new sideproject, but for whatever reason he didn’t want to do a sideproject with an occasional old school “Slip It In” moment, he went for a reunion tour.
I have no idea what else happened with the night – except that I damn for sure had some more jalapeno cheddar hush puppies. Frikkin delish.
In rad news, today is Saturday and in a coupla hours I get to go see Cutthroat Shamrock play at a Celtic fest about an hour south from me. Which means f this blogging s, for now. I’ll toss y’all Sunday’s music tomorrow.
Happy weekend, friends.
I would like to thank whatever gods may be that I didn’t fall off a cliff in Tennessee. This doesn’t sound like something to crow about, but hey, it was getting dark. I was anxious. I had the lovely ShawnaBanana and the handsome Professor M. in my car. I hate getting lost. I especially despise being lost in front of other people. I’m a proud sonofabitch. But oh well. About 20 miles outside of the June Bug Ranch, we missed a turn. We’d been driving for eight hours. Instead of getting to Muddy Roots in abt a half hour…it took another hour and a half.
The sun went down.
The fog drifted up.
The roads curved.
Headlights drifted past shotgun shacks and the eye flashes of animals.
Fourth Street. That is what we missed. “GPS it!” was the general consensus. Using a smart phone an hour outside of Nashville didn’t smack of hubris, dear reader, but here is my advice to you while driving through Tennessee, have printed directions. If you ef up and miss a turn, backtrack. Trust no phone.
The first phone told us to go down a slightly mountainous road that ended due to construction.
The second phone took us into what looked like a national park. The road disappeared into a parking lot. Another fork of it ended in a boating dock. Dark woods abounded. There were no street lights. It’s not an awkward horror movie set up at all – getting out of your car with your headlights pointed towards a darkened park ranger’s office then walking around an oversized pickup so that your passengers can’t see you as you shamble to the only light available – a shadowy woman holding a candle in an open doorway while she whispers to two men.
No, they had no idea how to get to the June Bug Ranch, but they gave us directions to a gas station.
The gas station had at least heard of the June Bug, but had no idea how to get there. They could give us directions to a Dollar General that could probably give us directions the rest of the way. Except the Dollar General would be closed by the time we got there, so we should drive about a mile past the Dollar General to get to another gas station more in the general vicinity, so they could get us better directions.
On the way to the Dollar General, the phone GPS began to work and it took us on a white-knuckle adventure of driving curving, rolling, one-and-a-half lane roads while the fog thickened.
This whole drive, I am thinking to myself how last year I made this drive alone and partially in the dark and I didn’t have a damn problem so WHAT THE HELL? ::sigh::
We got there. We set up camp in the dark behind a monolithic wooden banjo propped up on a hill near the showers and the bar.
There had been grand plans to see the Goddamn Gallows and Calamity Cubes at a pre-party in Nashville, but we three were like FUCK THE CAR, NO MORE CAR. We stuck around the June Bug and got to see part of Husky Burnette’s set and all of Hellbound Glory – who, by the damn way – covered Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” which made me seven forms of sweet on them.
Muddy Roots 2013 Review, Part II: Sweat, Sun and Dirty Fun on Friday
OI! It was brow-dripping, swass-swinging, Seventh Circle hot on Friday at Muddy Roots. Somewhere out there, there's a picture of me skinning a cucumber for lunch stuffs ridiculously red-faced and sad-sackin.
Let me emphasize a few things here:
1. I hate the sun.
2. I am not an outdoors kinda girl.
3. Summer can suck it. It is the brownhole of all seasons.
4. When I think of camping, my perfect experience is a cabin in the woods with wi-fi and bonfires at night – not waking up sweating in a tent and cooking shit over a burner.
This is how amazing Muddy Roots is, people - it can get my prissy ass outside all day, every day for three days straight, slatherclogging my pores with sunscreen and tent/car sleeping.
Jason Galaz is the badass creator behind Muddy Roots. Officially, it is more than a three-day concert. Muddy Roots is a record label, a promotions giant and four worldwide music festivals. The first Muddy Roots Music Fest came about in 2010 because Galaz wanted to see all his favorite bands in one place. Dude basically took a whole bunch of insane, unknown, mega awesome sidestage bands and created a fest for them in the middle of nowhere. It didn’t matter if the fest made money, what mattered was that these blues, bluegrass, country, punk and roots musicians could meet up, meet fans and a community could grow.
2013 marks the fourth year of the Muddy Roots Music Fest in Cookeville, TN. It was my second. It’s a goddamn roots music wonderland of moonshine and mayhem – and if you’re willing to pass a bottle (of booze or water) or even give a nod and a smile – you’ll be making friends.
You drive into the June Bug, check your tickets at the bar, set up camp wherever you choose (no hook-ups though), then all that’s left is to check out the midway. The Main Stage is a huge wooden affair half surrounded by trees. Performers are shaded, but most audience members aren’t. There’s a cage and a stripper pole on each side of it – which hilariously get used to capture rogue dancing children, more often than not. As you walk away from the main stage, it’s a straight shot down vendor alley where you can get yourself everything from jalapeno cheddar hush puppies, big as your fist for a dollar to fried pickles and burgers and PBR. Merch booths and food are mixed betwixt three other tent-covered stages of varying sizes. All the music is centrally located, and for being so close together and easily walkable, there is very little sound-bleeding to interrupt one act from another.
Epic shit that happened Friday.
Filthy Still – 2:30 p.m.
Filthy Still is the kinda band that can sing about benders in Tijuana and dinosaurs with equal authority and vigor. Jesse Roderick sounds like a maniac carnie barker, all growls, shouts and intrigue, while Matt Olson beats the beautiful shit out of the banjo.
I like me some Filthy Still. A lot. An epic lot. Like fuck yes, I can stomp flail to this jar-drinking, sad-singing, occasionally nerdy punkass bluegrass. They came out of Providence, RI...which explains a lot. I mean, come on…Lovecraft town? Of course you are gonna have some gorgeous, Mad Max lookin’, road dog freaks fall outta that town.
Carolina Still – 3:30 p.m.
Half naked fiddle player. Quite obviously, that’s not the most important aspect of their set, but hey, if you wanted to get me a gaggle of them for my birthday, I’d keep ‘em. They could bedside table and bureau roost and fiddle me to sleep. --- And here is when I wish I was an artist because the idea of a darkened bedroom with crow-perched-fiddle-sandman would be an AWESOME woodblock print.
Carolina Still are a hella catchy, energetic barndance band. Be on the lookout for them. They’re worth it.
Ray Lawrence, Jr. – 4:30 p.m.
Ray Lawrence, Jr. is the King of Dick Jokes at Muddy Roots. Ok, ok, that’s maybe cutting him down. He’s more than that. “Dickens Cider” was the obnoxious standout that I might’ve actually liked more if it wasn’t so long, but outside of that, Lawrence impressed me as a soulful and dedicated writer with an old time voice. Saving Country Music interviewed him back in 2011 and Lawrence said,
“Music has saved my life more than once. I’ve always had my music to fall back on. Some people have to fall back on a regular job. Something goes wrong for me, my music is the thing that pulls me out. When I wrote “When You Lose Everything You Have”, I realized you can lose your house, your car, your clothes, everything you got possession-wise, but if you lose love, you lose everything.”
Brownbird Rudy Relic – 6 p.m.
::pauses to reflect and make sure a heightened reaction is appropriate::
::nods to self::
::dances in room while listening to Brownbird on Reverbnation::
Yep. Holy shit. Ok, so if you catch Brownbird Rudy Relic’s jive online, it’s got some ragtime revivalist gusto…but sweet baby Moses, see him live. Only giving him four feet by five feet and a metal folding chair? Doesn’t matter. That black rimmed glasses man will get his retro fabulous ass standing on that chair, hopping it across the stage while singing and playing guitar. How do you hop a fucking chair across a stage? I have no idea. He did it. He’s got pre-war blues, Mexican dreamboat ballads and guitar-flipping theatrics down. And really, really, HOW DOES SOMEONE MAKE A KAZOO SOUND SOULFUL? HOW? Totally a likable guy on and off stage. I shoulda bought a shirt. I want to buy a shirt. In fact, hey, look, here is where you can buy a shirt.
…Ok. Now there was a pause in the action. Not because there wasn’t anything going on…more like there was still too much going on and I needed to damn well eat. I know at some point I had vegan hot dogs. I heard tidbits of Fifth on the Floor and Mikey Classic and His Lonesome Spur while in search of water and food.
Hooten Hallers – 8:30 p.m.
I LOVE THESE GUYS. You got Andy Rehm, an insanely high-voiced-crazy-bastard-falsetto drummer, and the throaty blues of John Randall on guitar. You want regret? You want bitterness? You want anger, hate, love and all the glory and holes between? You want all the mess of life to an ass shaking, sometimes slithering, slip it in beat? Hooten Hallers got you covered, baby. MROW.
They make me want to grind up on my good looking man. Damn. Yes. The Hooten Hallers sound like they should be played in a red light district whiskey shed with poor lighting and loose morals. Amen.
Bosom Buddies and the Dixie Dames Burlesque – 9:30
Cooch tent in the woods in Tennessee? I’m there. Only caught the last two acts, but there was some feather stripping, fishnet jiggling, glove-tossing gorgeousness going on. LADIES, SERIOUSLY! You are goddesses. That you can keep that level of finery going on in a dirt-kicking, hot, drippy campsite with less than ten hot showers and no proper place to change…hell yeah.
Joe Buck Yourself – 10 p.m.
Joe Buck looks like a hillbilly cryptkeeper. He has a drooping Mohawk and deep set eyes with skin as pale as the moon in a melodramatic poem. Dude’s hot. Not joking. He’s beautiful. ShawnaBanana agrees with me. In addition, his drug-train, motherfucker-strewn, muddy watered, grave-digging, proud Tennessean tunes are a driving force within the roots world. Just when you think you know what Joe Buck’s got in him, he pulls a “Bitter is the Day” on you. Fucker is surprising in the riffs and risks that he takes. He’s also a humble son of a gun who constantly thanked a jubilant crowd for their ardent support.
…Muddy Roots is special. Musicians are connected to fans. Many of the fans are musicians. The whole scene is built on a we’re-in-this-shit together attitude. Helpfulness, thankfulness and family are themes that ran a deep and sincere river all weekend.
Reverend Beat-man – 11:30 p.m.
I’m in love with Reverend Beat-man. I’d never heard of him until Muddy Roots released their line up and then, then…Jesus h. I mean, speaking of Jesus, the first song I ever hear of Beat-man’s is “Jesus Christ Twist” and it is a heavysick sound on an album called, I shit you not, Surreal Folk Blues Gospel Trash Vol. 1. I KNOW. My heart thumps harder and wetter thinking on it.
Beat-man does his one-man-band thing.
He’s the lead singer of The Monsters.
He’s the founder of Voodoo Rhythm Records.
He’s a disturbo magnifico maniac --- like if Hazel Motes of Wise Blood and a Swiss John Waters raised a psycho dance song kid. Fuck and yes, he had everyone hollering during his set. Only it wasn’t only Beat-man, he had two of The Monsters up there with him driving the crowd into a frenzy.
And that was it for me and my fella that night. I was spent. He was spent. I know. I know. Go ahead and yell. I didn’t get to see Those Poor Bastards at 1 a.m. I am an idiot. We were idiots. It’s true. But I have seen them before on multiple occasions (they are fucking awesome – see them live – Lonesome Wyatt is likely to show up with a fog machine and a giant cat statue…he’s an oddly lovely musician and writer). I was falling over tired. Maybe if I was a boozehound or had been slamming coffee I could’ve powered through…but as it was, my maw was yawning so wide I coulda been a sin eater for the world. Me and Professor M. hauled ourselves up the hills and nuzzed up to one another and it was a hella perfect moment with Wyatt cackling down on the midway and the crickets and night creatures wailing nearby.
Come back for more tomorrow. I'll have the rest of the weekend...from Dad Horse to Black Flag to Rachel Kate.
Geez louise, it was a fine frikkin time. I nearly cried three times, because apparently at 30, I am now a goddamn softy. Make too much of it and I'll give you a knuckle sandwich, but I'm just saying, there are some beautiful damn people that make and go to this fest.
But more on that tomorrow. Gots to get ready for workin' the library. Tonight we are hosting Holly Black.
Yes, be jealous. She is an amazing author and she's coming to my library for a reading and Q&A on her most recent book, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.
Life is good.
If you like what you see and want to help out, support their Indiegogo.
Want to see what other films Slowboat has done? Check it.
They'll be filming at Muddy Roots. What is Muddy Roots? Come on down to Cookeville, TN to find out. Everyone from Reverend Beat-Man, Jayke Orvis, the Goddamn Gallows, The Monsters and Deadbolt - in addition to 50+ other bands - will be there. Think about it as the largest, most passionate, heavily tattooed group of roots music freaks in one space this side of paradise. It's Johnny Cash meets the Ramones plus camping.
Come on down and dance with me. Get in on a genuine, friendly music scene.
2. Cyborgs. You were promised cyborgs.
I am working on a cyborg story. I am working on a cyborg story because WHOA, BIOHACKING IS HELLA INTERESTING! Plus, Neil Clarke has open submissions for cyborg stories until September 15, 2013 for his anthology, Upgraded.
Have any cyborg stories laying about? Send them to him.
My cyborg story is...kind of like a post-human Bonnie and Clyde meets Robin Hood tale. We'll see where it goes. I haven't actually written a damn word except for the first line...but I am sketching out a world. Character names. Government institutions. Music. Settings. Research. There's a hellton on youtube that is helpful and lately I've been reading a mound of cyberpunk manga like Blame! and Biomega. It has assisted in shading a world in my brain built on the backs of Stephenson and Gibson.
That's all I got for ya.
Hey world, here's a ::hug::
Now go away. I'm busy. Writing. Figuring. Yeehaw.
I recently put that phrase in a radio play though so it is rambling in my brain.
Speaking of radio plays, I wrote one! It's called "Wailtown Community Crisis Hotline" and it's about a kid who prank calls the local crisis line all night...until he finally has to call for real because his babysitter is trying to kill him (or is she?). It is fun. I sent it off to Deathscribe. This marks my third year in a row attempting to get into their top five radio plays because - ding ding and ding - if I get in the top five I get performed at their horror radio play festival in December. Which would be fun.
Outside of that, feedback about my novel is rolling in and, surprising, I am pretty damn excited to crack that broad back open, shuffle through her innards and make her glisten. Then to agent quest the hell out of her.
A lot has gone on since last I wrote here. Honestly, I am debating this blog's viability. I've been spending a hellton of time over on my tumblr, Odd Rot.
Random occurrences since last we spoke:
I saw Slim Cessna and the Sterling Sisters at Schubas.
I went to the Wisconsin State Fair and had my first cream puff. Yes, it was huge. I split it with a fine bearded banjo playing professor.
I celebrated the birth of Ms. Shawna Banana via a vegan diner and an 80s dance party.
I had a brief sad-sack week of being like BOO HISS WRITING BAH I SUCK until I exited my doom spiral and got back to my usual - PFFF! Suck? No. I AM AN AMAZING! BRILLIANT! WOMAN! I WILL CONQUER THE UNIVERSE!
I got on an epic kick of watching documentaries at midnight. (Chronicled at the aforementioned Odd Rot)
I posted an interview with Lonesome Wyatt of Those Poor Bastards at Black Gate.
Hell. I can't even remember what all I've done. It's been abt a month since my last blog here.
I am well.
I am writing.
I am running again. And stretching.
I am happy.
Friends around me are finding their happiness.
The fall is soon to come upon us. My heart has an autumn shaped hole in it and I am soon to be even happier.
High Fives, beautiful people. Hope your August is coming to a wonderful close, too.
Swear to Eris, the best damn times of my life have been spent cutting a rug, talking 'round a kitchen table or squirreled away in a solid book. This week...this week had a helluva lot of beauty in it.
It could have easily been spent pining and downcast, as every damn writer I know is in Boston at ReaderCon, but hell, I am meant for more than moping. I kept busy with shows.
::chest splits and intestines flop out in the shape of musical notes::
::pokes at notes with a quill::
Thursday I went to the Abbey Pub to see Lou Shields and Soda Gardocki with ShawnaBanana. Both are one man bands, though Soda's been known to travel with a band when the world puts one behind him. In various incarnations he's opened on tours for greats like Wanda Jackson, Jack White and the Ramones.
I'd never seen a full set by Soda before and only heard him on Spotify with a full-backed band. And hell, that man, that man doesn't need a band behind him to make a crowd holler and sway. His voice is black velvet and gravel and he can play some hella dirty banjo.
He can also talk about books - and not only books - female authors. His songs are chock fulla mighty women. Dude even co-wrote a song with his grandma - the intro to the song said with a chuckle, "My grandma's motto was, 'I like my liquor strong and my men weak." He was done with his set when Banana and I begged him to do a cover of "Jackson". It's a male/female duet and we'd heard on good authority that Gardocki did both parts. Soda pulled out a deep-set Johnny Cash bass-baritone and then...then he went all high pitch, hilariously squealy for the June Carter part. Know what I love? An artist that takes themselves seriously. Know what I adore even more? An artist who can laugh at themselves. It makes me want to fling money at them in any way possible.
Other Thursday night highlights: Lou Shields' cigar box guitars made from spare parts and broken skateboards, meeting more folks in the Chicago roots music scene, having Banana straddle my lap like a koala, puppy piling on the Abbey's outdoor furniture.
Friday I went with my dark-eyed fella and a few other characters to see The Tossers play at a Chicago Irish Fest. Immediate nostalgia hit me twofold. 1. It was held at the Irish American Heritage Center...the last time I was there it was with C.S.E. Cooney (now of the far Rhode Island way) to see a play. 2. The Tossers have now been together for 20 years. 20 YEARS. That's insane. I remember seeing them at Off the Alley, this little all ages dive, when I was 14. Then I was like - no way. No way. It has been 16 years since I have seen the Tossers. How the hell did that happen? Weird. I danced. I sweat. The Chicago night crawled under the tent and goosed the crowd while we basked in all the classics. Need a song for a bender? The Tossers have one. Poor and outta booze? Yep. Woke up in jail? Check. Classic folk songs? Yup. They even have a diddy from the way back they play when their lead singer is tossin his guts off the stage.
Good times, had by all. I am fond of any song that can cause me to link arms with friends and sway. Which the Tossers made me do. Excellent.
Saturday I worked 9-5 at the library and then went straight to Banana's house wherein she fed me CHILI LIME TOFU TACOS! Om nom nom. We scrambled over to 4 Miles 2 Memphis for a free show. Yep, Soda Gardocki - a Chicago native who flees town in the winter months - was playing again.
Let me pause here to say - DANIELLE COLBY CUSHMAN IS AWESOME! If you aren't familiar, she's the antique store manager on the show American Pickers. Here is why I loved Ms. Danielle before I ever met her:
1. Showing America that heavily tattooed ladies can be intelligent, thoughtful human beings.
2. Wearing band shirts for bands I love - that greatly need promotion - on a nationally televised show.
I love roots music. I love Farmageddon Records. I love hillbilly music. I love punk. This woman, she is AMAZING. She happens to love these same things and is able to promote them on a national level. Like wearing Muddy Roots and Bloodshot Records shirts on TV.
Recently, I watched an Amanda Palmer talk about how if you want to make art, if you want your life to be art - you have to support art and invite people in nonstop. Your life becomes sharing. A give and a take that doesn't always immediately balance out, but in the end creates great beauty through connection. It was about not only the romantic notion of living in the attic garret, but inviting people to be there with you.
BACK! TO! Ms. Cushman! She does this. She invites people in. I say this because she quite often throws free shows of small 1-3 piece oddball bands that are traveling through town in her new store, 4 Miles to Memphis. Yes, by inviting musicians to play her store, she gets to promote her store - but it seems like Ms. Danielle is more interested in making sure that people get to discover the things she loves - rather than just the things she sells. It's fucking awesome.
...Mind you there are a hellton of items in her store I want. Like this. And this. And they have vintage shimmy skirts and pig fetuses in bottles and antique ravens in suits and Victorian rings up the wazoo and GAH! The place is a pit of GD wonders.
Saturday there was an art opening for photographer Caroline Horist and then Soda Gardocki played. Side note on Caroline Horist - FABULOUS! Her current installation is all Day of the Dead meets gilded antique frames and she had recently gotten back from a death conference of some sort - I think it might have been an undertakers' gathering. Soda Gardocki gave another foot stomping good time. After, me, Banana and a gaggle of others had the fine experience of late night neighborhood wandering with him.
Things learned about Soda Gardocki:
He has a girlfriend who is a painter. She wrestles alligators.
His name comes not from The Outsiders, but from an underage hooker in an afterschool special.
He is working on a music nonprofit.
Nicest guy. I would point you to his store and say BUY ALL OF THIS, but I can't seem to find any merch online except for his iTunes store. So...buy that and see him live whenever he rolls through.
Saturday ended with Banana and me and onion dip. So, so much onion dip. LOVE HER ONION DIP. I don't care if it is only a packet of a frikkin powder and vegan sour cream. She makes the best onion dip evers.
What else? I feel as if more was done this weekend. Oh. I worked on Sunday, too, then got to hang out and nap around with my sweet fella. Have I mentioned lately how insanely adorbs he is? How he looks swell in plaid and makes me want to nuzz up on him every time he's around? o.o!
Monday was helltons of busywork and then. And then. AND THEN!
I went to Reggie's to see, hold your breath here ladies and germs,
...Antoine Dukes - who sounded like a strawhat singer outta the '20s. Bonus points: he had a pointed mustache
...Rachel Kate - who put me in a good mood and almost made me cry. Yep. Both those things can happen AT THE SAME TIME! Bought a shirt and a CD. Her voice is an errie power folk river and, wow. I want you to know her. I want you to know her because not only was she uber talented, but she was super nice.
...Filthy Still - who got me and Banana boot-pounding the floorboards, as they always do.
...Mikey Classic - who gives the best GD pirate face out there while he one man bands it between Goddamn Gallows tours.
...Molly Gene One Whoaman Band - who HOLY EF...gawd. That woman. That woman takes my breath away. She plays the bluesiest hillbilly shit I've ever heard. Slide. Banjo. Guitar. Harmonica. She plays a homemade footdrum that has a snare, high hat and bass in it. Her. You need to see her. I mean, if EVER she is passing through your town, do it. She's a cowboy boot wearing, hellraising, gutteral singing, head swinging, wild one not afraid to get dirty and give it all. LOVE. THIS. WOMAN!
...and if I had stuck around, I would have caught the gutbucket soul of Ten Foot Polecats, but sweet baby moses it was getting late and I had to work today and I swear I don't remember the last day I actually felt rested.
It was an insane week and I was busy enough that I didn't pine too heavily on not getting to go to Boston and hang with all my gorgeous writer friends. Next year, you maniacs, next year I will go to ALL OF THE CONVENTIONS.
I am suddenly filled with a deep love for the world. For music. For writers. For all the badass artists I know.
::GD SMOOCHIEBOOCHIES to you TALENTED SONSAGUNS!:::
Post Script - I started writing again. I am working on a radio play that I need to finish by the end of the month. It is that Exorcist meets Last Picture Show thing I've been talking about for a year or so now. It's marinating and I'm gonna get it done by August 1st so I can submit it to Deathscribe, a horror radio play festival in Chicago. Yee and haw.
I went on a weekend road trip earlier this year with my friend ShawnaBanana. We crossed through Georgiana, AL, which happens to be the boyhood home of Hank Williams.
I picked tree clippings of the oldest trees, there when Mr. Williams was a child.
My fella had a birthday coming up, so I made him this. I LEARNED HOW TO WOOD BURN! It was epic fun. Buliding a homemade frame? Not so much fun.I bound the tree clippings in the center. I marked the frame with a heart for living, a skull for dying, a scarab for luck, and the hobo symbol for a good path - which I believe my fella’s music to be, and now he can sit under the same tree Hank did when he makes it.
I cut my hair off. I shaved 90% of my head. POW POW POW! and perhaps ZAP! Maybe even a ZAP POW.
Because? Because WHY THE HELL NOT? o.o! Because it'll grow back if I don't like it and I have to say, it's pretty damn ok. I mean, WOW! I have a decent shaped head. It ain't like I shaved it all off and then OH NO! PUMPKIN GROWTHS or strange HORNS or SOFT DIVOTS or ARCANE NOSTRADAMUS MOLES were hiding under there. It's been about two weeks and I'm already rather fuzzy and wanting to shave it down to no guard again. Which means - HOLY CRAP, PEOPLE! - my hair is growing. Which, anyone who has known me a smidge plus, knows I have had issues with my hair being a stubborn bitch on the growth front. I mean, it ain't never gonna be Cleopatra thick, but at least I know that it GROWS. Bastard hair.
Hey look. Here I am:
In other news, I FINISHED MY NOVEL! Most complete draft EVER. DOUBLE EVER. EVER EVER TRIPLE EVER!
It's weird. It was supposed to be about Sarah Winchester. Instead it is more about the medium who told her to move West. It is bloody and gritty and I like it. I am sick of it, but I like it. And so does my mom. She is reading it and told me so. Huzzah.
And it is with beta readers. I'm telling you, folks, it is like at least 80% FUCKING AWESOME! I mean, I know. I know. I will need to tighten it. I will need to fix some things - and if I sell it, I will have to fix it all over again for an editor or publisher - BUT HEY! It is done and I am proud of myself. I have done drafts before...but never this FULL. It is... It is... 603 pages and now it is done and I'm like FUCK IT! FINALLY! I can move on to other shit.
There is that grindhouse Exorcist meets Last Picture Show play I've always wanted to write (which is gonna be a radio play in its first format).
There's a Jo and Fenn novel I want to write. Those two broads that fight monsters together and are best friends? Yeah, them. I want to write that novel and I can guaran-damn-tee you it ain't gonna take no seven years. I am shooting for 4 months. If that. BUT I don't know. I even have...ahem...a small, but rad publisher's interest -ish. That's another story for another time. Not now.
I don't know, kind and lovely people. I feel so FREE. I have not felt this weightless in AGES. I can do any damn thing I want to do. I can write whatever I want and not feel bad that I am neglecting The Novel. I can move on to Other Things. It is frikkin faboosh.
:: steps onto WINNING soapbox ::
This came about because of
1. Years of pecking away at the damn thing
Friday, you ask? Yes! Friday! I was off of work on Friday and I wrote for about fifteen hours. I shit you not. I wrote ALL DAY. I cuddled into a pillow laptop pile at 9 in the morning and then wrote until abt 1:45 in the morning. I took breaks between scenes to walk around the block or to have snacks. A certain Kitchen Witch supplied me with tea and popcorn. It was a GLORIOUS DAY OF ACHIEVEMENT!
I was all..."I'M GONNA FINISH THIS BITCH TODAY!" And then I hit mental failure at 2 in the morning and could go no further. And at first I was pissed. Pissed that I didn't finish it...but FUCK IT! I did a hell ton of work and it is so close to going out to readers in a form that I am actually proud of rather than cringing at.
I have worked at the library all weekend. I am not gonna be able to finish it until, I think, Tuesday. I am gonna give myself a rest tonight and then write all Monday (except for a brief break for a haircut from a friend*) and then write all of Tuesday morning before I go to work.
:: throws glitter and confetti over self ::
*Haircut. YES! I am finally getting a haircut. I am going to shave off all my hair except for angled bangs. POW! It's gonna be hot.
In other news, my tumblr, Odd Rot is going AWESOME! I now have over a hundred followers. If you like random bookish and music news along with lots and lots of art, check it out.