If David Allan Coe ain’t country, …

DAC-rasta-hat (panicstream.net)

When it comes to music, there’s country…and then there’s country. What might be termed “outlaw” country. The real deal. Not Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Lady Antebellum, Brad Paisley. We’re talkin’ Merle Haggard, George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Paycheck. And underneath some of this music, there lies a songwriter, a poet – a grizzled guy buried in grizzled hair and beard who emerges from backstage at B.B. King’s Blues Club & Grill held up by a cane and a similarly-bearded assistant. The guy’s name is David Allan Coe. And he’s responsible for the legendary fuck-you-to-the boss anthem of Americana – “Take This Job and Shove It” – which rose to the top of the country charts in early 1978 as recorded by the notorious Johnny Paycheck. The song, introduced as “a song I wrote 52 years ago” (whoa) comes along about halfway through Mr. Coe’s incredible set at B.B. King’s this past July 13.

johnny-paycheck-take-this-job-and-shove-it-epic-2 (45cat.com)

But before David Allan Coe takes his drudgery job and shoves it in the foreman’s face, he kicks off with Merle Haggard’s “Ramblin’ Fever,” then lets loose with a medley of sorts…of drinkin’ songs (“Whiskey and Women,” “Jack Daniel’s If You Please,” “Tennessee Whiskey”), breakup songs (“If You’re Gonna Do Me Wrong (Do It Right),” “Chiseled in Stone”), breakup and drinkin’ songs (“This Bottle (In My Hand)”), and even breakup and drug songs (“Cocaine Carolina”). Oh, and a cover of the Dave Loggins 1974 classic, “Please Come to Boston.” All while seated with electric guitar in hand…and accompanied by trusty backing band the B.B. Lee 3: guitarist B.B. Lee, bassist Frizzy, and drummer D.O.G. With names like that, now that’s a trusty backing band.

DAC-black-suit-and-guitar (stageshottz.com)   DAC-white-suit-and-guitar (davidallancoe.com)
David Allan Coe in black…and white

The set continues with the endearing “Waltz Across Texas,” popularized by Ernest Tubb and written by Tubb’s nephew Billy Talmadge (with the most endearing – and most drunken – version coming from Alex Chilton on his 1979 album Like Flies On Sherbert), followed by the location-appropriate “N.Y.C. Streets” from Coe’s 2006 collaboration with heavy metal gods Pantera, Rebel Meets Rebel (Coe hit it off with Pantera’s late guitarist Dimebag Darrell). Then a bit of Dobie Gray’s ’73 hit “Drift Away” and a handful of Kid Rock numbers (another soul-mate of Coe’s). In between are song snippets – country music vignettes – as Mr. Coe the storyteller relates and reminisces.

To top the evening off, Coe tosses out the crowd-pleasin’ sing-along “If That Ain’t Country” (yeah, if that ain’t country, well…as he says, you can kiss my ass), the tale of a meetup with Hank Williams’ ghost entitled “The Ride,” and the top-ten hit penned by Steve Goodman and John Prine, “You Never Even Called Me by My Name.” At that point it’s time for David Allan Coe to take up his cane and – with the help of his, uh, helper – leave the stage. As the surprisingly not-that-rowdy crowd chants “D.A.C.! D.A.C.!”

DAC-arm-tattoo (bbkingblues.com)

David Allan Coe was born 78 years ago in Akron, Ohio, spent much of his early life in and out of prison, and has released over 40 albums in as many years. And if that ain’t country, you can…yup.

images courtesy panicstream.net, 45cat.com, stageshottz.com, davidallancoe.com, bbkingblues.com


The Middle East meets the South – the music of Lisa Said

“Some dudes wanna give me shelter

Some dudes just want helter skelter

Other dudes, they make me twist and shout”

LisaSaid-Estranged-cover (lisasaid.bandcamp.com)

With the come-here-then-kick-in-the-balls vocals pioneered by Chrissie Hynde and later Liz Phair, over a noisy, Stooges/Velvets guitar-fest, Lisa Said plows through her song “Some Dudes” like she owns the place, dropping more than a few classic rock references along the way: “Handy Man,” “Route 66,” “All the Young Dudes,” and “I Wanna Be Your Dog” also make it in there with the Beatles and Stones. “Some Dudes” is the rowdy opener on Lisa Said’s self-produced, brand new 4-song CD, Estranged. Things quiet down a bit with “Regular Guy” as the Phair vibe heads down a more alt-country, Lucinda Williams road, then collides with Sheryl Crow’s tour bus on the disc’s best track, “Peel the Moon.” And with some nice mandolin picking courtesy of Andrew Cox, Estranged comes to a close with the lovely “Up Not Down.”

So what’s all this about the Middle East meeting the South?

LisaSaid-1 (lisasaid.com)

Raised in an Egyptian family in Tennessee, Lisa Said (pronounced Sa’yeed) grew up surrounded by country music, 60s and 70s radio hits, and Arabic rhythms. After traveling up and down the East Coast, learning guitar and playing in several garage-rock-pop bands, she settled in Washington, DC, met up with drummer (and Middle Eastern percussionist) Andrew Toy, and forged a sound that basically blends all those genres. Yum! Shawarma with hummus and barbecued ribs!

Lisa and her band then released two CDs: 5-song EP First Time, Long Time in 2015 and full album No Turn Left Behind in 2016. Estranged is her latest, just out this month – you can pick it up and also check out “Some Dudes” here!

LisaSaid-tennessee_flag_1 (foothillsflagsandpoles.com)          LisaSaid+DC+Music+Rocks (dcmusicrocks.com)          LisaSaid-egypt-flag-std (theflagshop.co.uk)

images courtesy lisasaid.com, dcmusicrocks.com, foothillsflagsandpoles.com, theflagshop.co.uk

Giant heads, dancing cupcakes and Richard Strauss

Now there’s a shopping list you don’t see every day.  But these are some of the key ingredients in Whipped Cream, a new production by the American Ballet Theatre which recently played at the Metropolitan Opera in NYC.  Originally whipped up in 1924 as Schlagobers, the work is best enjoyed on a fairly empty stomach and probably not while under the influence of mind-altering substances.

whipped-cream-candy-shop-chef (Gene Schiavone)(nytimes.com)whipped-cream-doctor (latimes.com)
Most of the action centers around the main character, known as the Boy, and takes place against a Candyland board-game backdrop in a confectioner’s shop (run by a large-headed Chef) and a sinister, dimly-lit hospital room (run by a large-headed Doctor and his army of syringe-wielding Nurses). Along the way, behold Princess Tea Flower, Prince Coffee, Prince Cocoa, and Don Zucchero the sugar guy.

After a landscape of grayish, whipped-creamy hills and sixteen women in meringue-like white outfits representing, uh, Whipped Cream, the real fun begins as the Doctor gets drunk, invoking the appearance of three dancing booze bottles named – get ready – Mademoiselle Marianne Chartreuse, Ladislav Slivovitz, and Boris Wutki.  I think President Trump may know that last guy. Meanwhile the Boy – confined to an oversized hospital bed after ODing on whipped cream and contracting the world’s worst bellyache – is whisked away by Princess Praline and some Cupcake Children.  Had enough of these whimsical characters yet?  Well, hang on…

whipped-cream-characters (zealnyc.com)

In a scene out of some deranged comic book mishmash of Star Wars, Willy Wonka, and the Japanese art of just plain silliness, say hello to the Snow Yak, the Cake Ladies, the Gumball Lady, the Chocolate Chip Man, the Parfait Man, the Chef Head Man (yikes), the Long Neck Piggy (double yikes), the Cherry Head (okay), the Pink Yak (come on now), and – my favorite – the Worm Candy Man (omg).  The Boy and the various Princesses and Princes meet Nicolo, the towering, candy-encrusted emcee and – fantasy is now reality!  Or something.

whipped-cream-finale (ocregister.com)
Yes, this is a music blog… The music driving all this madness was composed in 1921-22 by Richard Strauss, and the work was premiered at the Vienna State Opera in 1924.  Not sure if the crazy sets and costumes in the current incarnation (courtesy of pop surrealist Mark Ryden) are anything like what audiences saw back in the roaring twenties, but the whole thing is a delightful distraction from the rest of 2017.

whipped-cream (pinterest.com)

images courtesy nytimes.com/Gene Schiavone, latimes.com/Allen J. Schaben, zealnyc.com, ocregister.com, pinterest.com