A couple of Richards (and their guitars) are back

That would be former Television member Richard Lloyd and Canadian garage-blues-rocker Rich Hope.

richard-lloyd-1 (huffingtonpost.com)rich-hope-vancouver-just-play-something-portrait (markmaryanovich.com)
Orange jackets rock!

rich-hope-i'm-all-yours-cover (richhope.bandcamp.com)

This fall saw the release of Rich Hope’s first album in nine years, a ten-song rock ’n’ roll romp entitled I’m All Yours. How about some good ol’ 1960s organ out of the Doors and “96 Tears” garages? Then nothing like “5 Cents a Dance” and album opener “It Come Alive” (uh, shouldn’t that be “I Come Alive”? Rich? Oh well). Like loud, uproarious stuff a la Mojo Nixon? Hope’s version of the Juke Boy Bonner B-side “Runnin’ Shoes” is for you. Straight-up, slow-cooked, searing blues? Dive into “Paranoia Blues” and “La Iguana.” Crazy, creepy voodoo stuff? “Creepstone” is your ticket. What about an obscure Flamin’ Groovies cover from that band’s earliest days in 1968? Yes, it’s “Golden Clouds” (and with a very cool video!). Feel like some easy-goin’ rockin’ soul? Go for “Blow Away.” Want your rockin’ soul with more horns and a rougher edge? Then it’s “Some Kind of Love.” Care for some extended slide guitar ecstasy? Last track “Heartbreaker”’ll do it. Rich Hope makes his home in Vancouver, British Columbia and has been churning out his hardcore brand of blues rock since 1998. Ya should also check out his debut record from that year, Good to Go.

Rich Hope. Nov 11/2016  Anza Club Vancouver, BC.


richard-lloyd-countdown-cover (schoolkidsrecords.com)

Meanwhile, Richard Lloyd – co-founder and co-guitarist of legendary NYC band Television – has come out with his eighth solo album, The Countdown. Leading off with “Wind in the Rain” and that trademark in-your-face riffing that defined Television’s classic Marquee Moon, Lloyd sings his songs of woe in a shaky baritone not unlike the late, great Warren Zevon. “Smoke” sounds like it could’ve perhaps fit onto Television’s second album Adventure; “So Sad” showcases Lloyd’s intact-as-ever guitar antics against a bleak backdrop; first single “Whisper” does anything but, as it chugs along in fine Richard Lloyd power-pop style (including a chorus of “Oh forever”s that beg to be sung along to); “I Can Tell,” one of the album’s best tracks, continues the delightful power-pop groove; the touching moments of “Just My Heart” and “Something Remains” intertwine with more classic Lloyd guitarism; “Down the Drain” is another fun, rockin’ sing-along, uh, for those who think they’ve lost everything; and the playful title song “Countdown” is just that, a countdown – with space-travel phrases galore – as Mr. Lloyd and his band (Nashville session men Dave Roe on bass and Steve Ebe on drums) blast off into the rock-osphere…

richard-lloyd-2 (ughmylifeissohard.wordpress.com:Marcia Resnick)


Images courtesy huffingtonpost.com, markmaryanovich.com, richhope.bandcamp.com, finetuned.ca/FineTuned Vancouver Photography, schoolkidsrecords.com, ughmylifeissohard.wordpress.com/Marcia Resnick


It came from Louisiana!

louisiana-tourism-map-the-pelican-state-attractions (alizah.co)

jerry-reed-amos-moses-1970-4 (45cat.com)

Back in 1970, Jerry Reed unleashes “Amos Moses,” a mighty hot ’n’ spicy tale about a Cajun alligator hunter, and it’s on my plastic turntable the following year. Not long after, Creedence Clearwater Revival enters my playlists, the best part being John Fogerty’s bluesy, gritty voice. What is he, Cajun, or does he just try to sound that way? Especially on “Bootleg” (or “Boo-lay” as he sings it). “Born on the Bayou” is even more intense, with its hot gumbo of guitars stomping through the dense swamps in the summer heat. When the immortal Captain Beefheart comes along, “Clear Spot” stands out, stomping through the swamp again as only the surrealist, swashbuckling Don Van Vliet can. But wait – none of those guys are actually from Louisiana. Reed was born in Georgia; Fogerty and Van Vliet in California. So let’s move on to some authentic Louisianans…

DrJohn-InTheRightPlace-vinyl (guitarcenter.com)  Beausoleil-ZydecoGrisGris-vinyl (musicstack.com)  Buckwheat-Zydeco-Taking-It-Home (discogs.com)

DrJohn (blissandmischief.com)

Mac Rebennack! The Night Tripper! New Orleans’ own Dr. John. His hit “Right Place, Wrong Time” (containing the lyric “brain salad surgery” before ELP adopt it for their album title) and semi-hit “Such a Night” make their way into my records and radio along there in the ’70s. Around 1980something, after seeing the film The Big Easy, I pick up Zydeco Gris-Gris by Lafayette group Beausoleil, the title track featuring in the movie’s opening credits. Next, a Buckwheat Zydeco album…and how about that TV show The Cajun Cook, hosted by the very entertaining Justin Wilson (pronounced “Juice’tan Wil’sone”), which conveniently appears around this time? Cajun rules! I gar-on-tee!

justin-wilson-cajun-chef (ritalovestowrite.com-Smoking Meat Forum)

MMM-Blood-Moon-cover (michotsmelodymakers.bandcamp.com)

Now in 2018, another Lafayette band called Michot’s Melody Makers is out and about with their debut Blood Moon. Led by Louis Michot, lead singer and fiddler of the Grammy-winning Lost Bayou Ramblers, the Melody Makers stomp through the swamp with a collection of contemporary, amped-up renditions rooted in French-Louisiana fiddle and “pre-accordion” Cajun and Creole music. If Blood Moon’s opener “Two-Step de Ste. Marie” doesn’t get you moving as it bulldozes through its drum/fiddle/triangle riff, nothing will. “Grand Marais” continues the party, after which “Dans Les Pins” (“In the Pines”) comes creeping in. The high-steppin’ energy is back with “Allons Tous Boire Un Coup” and “Blues de Neg Francais,” then…“La Lune Est Croche”! One of the album’s best tracks, melding traditional instrumentation with modern rock vocals. Imagine Ozzy transplanted from his classic black magick metal to the voodoo and graveyards of New Orleans! And singing in French of course.

LucindaWilliams1 (allmusic.com:David McClister)

Meanwhile, over in Lake Charles, a woman named Lucinda Williams appears and proceeds to make marvelous music throughout the ’80s, ’90s, ’00s, right up to today. And on November 7, 2018 she arrives at NYC’s Beacon Theatre for one of twelve select dates (in ten cities) of the Car Wheels on a Gravel Road 20th Anniversary Tour. With her backing band Buick 6 (guitarist Stuart Mathis, bassist David Sutton, and drummer Butch Norton), plus special guest keyboardist Roy Bittan of E Street Band fame and special guest guitarist/harmonica-ist Steve Earle (both of whom played on and co-produced Car Wheels), Ms. Williams performs the album in its entirety, beginning with an intriguingly off-time “Right in Time” and ending with the heartfelt moaning of “Jackson.” And since the album itself is so good, the set plays like a collection of greatest hits.

LucindaWilliams-CarWheels-cover (allmusic.com)

With little anecdotes about how each song came into existence – the best being how “I Lost It” was inspired by Williams’ annoyance at the proliferation of bumper stickers along the highway proclaiming “I Found It!” – the experience is more like hanging out with Lucinda in her living room than watching her from a dark theater seat high above a stage. Other great songs with great intros: “Metal Firecracker” (the “metal firecracker” was her band’s tour bus), “Joy” (came to mind while driving long distances alone), “Lake Charles” (about a guy who, among other things, made a mean pot of gumbo), and the title song (Lucinda’s father, the late poet Miller Williams, told her the little kid in the song, in the back seat of a car, was actually her – “little bit of dirt mixed with tears”).  And what? They couldn’t find an actual “gravel road” for the album cover, so they had to use a stock photo? Yes, we learn that – and probably way more than we need to know – as Lucinda and Buick 6 rock on through the evening.

Lucinda-Beacon-Buick6                                 l-r: Sutton, Norton, Williams, Mathis (photo by me)

Following Car Wheels, Williams solos on 2016’s “Ghosts of Highway 20,” then brings the band back (minus Bittan and Earle) for a handful of stuff from her other albums including “Those Three Days” and “Righteously” (her only song to appear in karaoke books, a distinction she seems quite proud of) from 2003’s World Without Tears; “Dust” (based on one of her dad’s poems) from The Ghosts of Highway 20; a nice, crunchy version of “Essence” from the 2001 album of that name; and the crowd-riling, fist-raising “Foolishness” from the 2014 release Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone. Encore-wise, a jazz collaboration (with Charles Lloyd, who does not make an appearance); the Grammy-winning “Get Right With God” from Essence; and, with Mr. Bittan returning to his keys, the grand finale: Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising.”

Okay, meetcha down bayou at the crawfish boil…

crawfish-boil-karl-wagner (pixels.com)


Images courtesy alizah.co, 45cat.com, guitarcenter.com, musicstack.com, discogs.com, blissandmischief.com, ritalovestowrite.com/Smoking Meat Forum, michotsmelodymakers.bandcamp.com, allmusic.com/David McClister, pixels.com/Karl Wagner

Beacon Theatre videos courtesy YouTube/choops4683 and mr2bur; other Lucinda Williams videos courtesy Lucinda Williams YouTube channel

Evil Spirits? Yup, it’s that time of year

Graveyard-zombies-evil-spirits (warriorsofmyth.wikia.com)

Who’d a thought…42 years after acquiring the distinction of being the first British punk band to release a single, the breakneck-tempo love song of sorts “New Rose,” the Damned would still be at it – and sounding as vital as ever. Yes, this past April the band released their eleventh album, Evil Spirits, and this month they put in an appearance at Irving Plaza in NYC. Their usual Halloween-season show, though a bit earlier this year. (remember this one? from way back when Schizomusica was just learning to crawl)

The-Damned-colour (burningflame.net)

The-Damned-Evil-Spirits-cover (amazon.com)

The new-ish album is a brisk, ten-song trip that PopMatters describes as sounding like “a band stretching out and having fun in a studio, under the watchful eye of someone who is accustomed to working with mavericks and outcasts.” That someone is Tony Visconti, venerable producer of many a David Bowie record, who’s certainly elicited some top-notch creations out of this bunch of mavericks and outcasts. Lead-off track “Standing On the Edge of Tomorrow” is classic, gothic, Dave-Vanian-sung Damned, almost bringing to mind the faster side of…the Moody Blues? And it’s got a knockout sci-fi-themed video. Following are songs composed by various Damned members, the best being “We’re So Nice,” “Sonar Deceit” (both written and sung by guitarist Captain Sensible, the latter adopting a nice 60s-Supremes-style beat – with horns even); “Look Left” (by drummer Pinch and touring bassist Jon Priestley – as opposed to recording bassist Paul Gray – and with another great video); the theme song for myself and many people I know, “Procrastination” (penned by Sensible and keyboardist Monty Oxymoron – so lots of cool organ going on); and the 6-minute, trumpet-infused Vanian/Sensible monster “Daily Liar” (now who could that be referring to?). And check out the cover art: a film-noir movie poster motif down to the listing of the band members’ names – big last name, small first name.



October 18th brought the Damned to NYC once again, for a set studded with classics, not-so-classics, and a few soon-to-be-classics from Evil Spirits – against a backdrop showcasing the shadowy “man in the doorway” figure on the album cover. Kicking off with “Nasty,” the number the band performed back in the mid-80s on Brit TV comedy The Young Ones, the set seemed to lean heavily not on material from the new record (“Standing On the Edge of Tomorrow,” “Devil in Disguise,” and “We’re So Nice” – nothing more), but on the 1980 release The Black Album – including four in a row early on, plus the single “History of the World (Part 1)” and an abbreviated rendition of the epic “Curtain Call.” Rounding out the main set were “Stranger on the Town” from 1982’s Strawberries, the ’86 single “Eloise” (a cover of a 1968 Brit-hit by Paul Ryan), the always-appropriate-nowadays “Democracy?” from 2001’s Grave Disorder, and a healthy helping of good ol’ punk rock like “Love Song,” “Neat Neat Neat,” and of course “New Rose” (which they dedicated to ‘Joey’ – Ramone I would imagine).

The-Damned-b&w (arena.com:The Damned)     l-r: Monty Oxymoron, Paul Gray, Dave Vanian, Pinch, wot! Mike Love?

The spectacular encores – two of ’em – couldn’t help but drive the Irving Plaza crowd to ear-gasm: “Curtain Call,” the rowdy sing-along “Ignite,” “Street of Dreams” (the opener from 1985’s Phantasmagoria), and hands-down the best Damned song ever, “Smash It Up.” But the charm of the Damned goes beyond their amazing songs. After singing lead on “Silly Kids Games,” the affable Captain Sensible quipped, “They let me sing one song each gig…like Ringo…like Ringo without the money! But, big noses!” At the end of the show Sensible and Vanian each thanked the audience for “putting up with him” (pointing at each other), at which point the Captain mentioned he’d been working with Mr. Vanian for 42 years. Yikes. Punk rock is old! So once again…OLD GUYS ROCK.

vintage_halloween_rock_n_roll_skeleton_w_guitar (zazzle.com)                                                                   (wait, that’s a little too old)


Images courtesy warriorsofmyth.wikia.com, burningflame.net, amazon.com, me, arena.com/The Damned, zazzle.com

YouTube videos courtesy Good999Music, TheDamnedVEVO (© 2018 The Damned, under exclusive license to Universal Music Operations Limited), The Damned, Casey Purdy, Chuck Friendly, Ace Records Ltd

Now for a little island music

That’s music from the Island of Long…which if you grew up there in the 1970s-80s might conjure up sounds, sights, and smells of large bars (aka small clubs) hosting rowdy rabble-rousers like Twisted Sister, the Good Rats, and Zebra. Oh, anybody remember Rat Race Choir? They seem to be back in action. How about Swift Kick? I think they played mostly covers – but completely cool ones. And Blue Öyster Cult, one of L.I.’s great success stories. To the muddled masses yearning to be at MSG, Long Island likely means BILLY JOEL. Yes, that guy wrote many a good song but… Let’s keep it fresh and new here, and at least borderline Schizomusical!

Long Island Postcard (theworldaccordingtofrankbarning.blogspot.com)

So introducing three recent releases:

Go to School by the Lemon Twigs

lemontwigs-go-to-school (jenesaispop.com)

Hicksville? Long Island? A train station, an exit off the expressway. Later on, the home of – again – Billy Joel. But now, with the emergence of former Hicksville High School students the D’Addario brothers, Brian and Michael, making shockingly eccentric music under the name The Lemon Twigs, Hicksville is hip! British daily The Times likens The Lemon Twigs to a combination of Wings, Supertramp, Big Star, the Ramones, and Broadway musicals. And that’s pretty accurate. Check out the stuff on Go to School, the band’s second album: Wings? “The Lesson” and “Wonderin’ Ways” are quite McCartneyish. Supertramp? Take a listen to “The Bully” or “Never Know.” Big Star? “Queen of My School” sounds just like an outtake from Radio City. Don’t really know where the Ramones fit in but their spirit is certainly all over the place. Broadway musicals? I’ve never seen School of Rock but I imagine “Rock Dreams” would be at home there. Album opener “Never in My Arms, Always in My Heart” melds the Stones with the Strokes. Then there’s the incredible “Small Victories,” snagging a hook from Seals & Crofts’ 1972 hit “Summer Breeze”! And it’s all held together as a rock opera of sorts about, um, a chimp raised as a boy going to school. Okay…

Lemon-Twigs-_-Hero2_JW-1132x620 (hero-magazine.com, Faith Silva)


Things Are Looking Up by the Walk-A-Bout

Walk-A-Bout-Things+Are+Looking+Up (walkaboutband.com)

These guys have been regulars here at Schizomusica, and this past June they busted out with a 6-track album entitled Things Are Looking Up. The Walk-A-Bout is mostly Long Islanders including founder/guitarist/songwriter Kevin Anderson from Westhampton Beach – plus an Australian singer/lyricist with one of the most soaring and soulful voices ever. The album kicks off with the easy-going title track – an optimistic jewel in the midst of all the nonsense happening these days – then slides into “That’s Just the Way It Goes” with its mellow prog rock grooves (remember Grand Funk Railroad’s “I’m Your Captain/Closer to Home”?) and the equally mellow “By My Side.” “Consequences” stirs things up a bit as singer Darren “Sully” Sullivan breaks out the blues harp and new addition Dave Christian tosses off tasty electric guitar leads. Closing things out are two previously-released songs, the percussionistic “Oasis” and one of the band’s best, “Drifting Tide.” And things keep looking up for the Walk-A-Bout – check ’em out at the Music Speaks Out East benefit for cancer research at Vail-Leavitt Music Hall in Riverhead on October 20…along with of all bands Rat Race Choir!

TheWalkABout (walkaboutband.com)


Twentytwo in Blue by Sunflower Bean

sunflower-bean-twentytwo-in-blue-artwork (pastemagazine.com)From Glen Head, Long Island (and Brooklyn) comes Sunflower Bean, a trio with a sound from the pages of Joan Jett, the Go-Go’s, T. Rex, and the Velvet Underground, topped by a modern millennial sheen. Twentytwo in Blue is their second release, following 2016’s Human Ceremony, and it’s positively stunning. “Burn It,” the opening track, stomps along like Blackhearts-era Joan (thanks to singer/bassist Julia Cumming and drummer Jacob Faber), while “I Was A Fool” takes things down a notch, Fleetwood Mac-style, with intricate vocals from both Cumming and guitarist Nick Kivlen. The exquisite title cut “Twentytwo” is top-shelf jangle-pop with Cumming elegantly twisting syllables in the line “I do not go qui-ET-ly,” noisy glam-rock comes breaking down the door on the rollicking “Puppet Strings,” and haunting guitars swirl around Cumming’s echo-y vocals on “Only A Moment.” “Any Way You Like” recalls the delicate side of the Velvet Underground, then the band really channels Lou Reed on “Sinking Sands” and the outstanding closer “Oh No, Bye Bye.” Sunflower Bean will be at Brooklyn Steel on October 22 – don’t miss ’em!

SunflowerBean (blog.urbanoutfitters.com, Nina Westervelt)


On another note, this date marks Schizomusica’s two-year anniversary (and 60th post, if that has any significance), so thank you to all my readers, followers, commenters, criticizers, etc. Thanks also to Susan for giving me the idea two years ago and Sam for suggesting WordPress. Cheers!

long-island-iced-tea-recipe-for-blog (dishingwithdiane.com)


Images courtesy theworldaccordingtofrankbarning.blogspot.com, jenesaispop.com, hero-magazine.com/Faith Silva, walkaboutband.com, pastemagazine.com, blog.urbanoutfitters.com/Nina Westervelt, dishingwithdiane.com

Starr-y Starr-y Night

“New York! Where you can always find a parking space!”
Ringo Starr, September 13, 2018

Ringo-drums-1960s (ringosbeatlekits.com)Ringo-yellowsubmarine (mindbox.com.au)Ringo-drums-2018 (ludwig-drums.com)

Ah, the witty, wonderful Sir Richard Starkey – Ringo Starr – always the Beatle in the background, the comic relief in the band’s films, the deep Liverpudlian voice singing lighthearted numbers like “Yellow Submarine.” Since 1989 he’s been touring regularly with an ever-revolving who’s-who of rock ’n’ roll including Todd Rundgren, Billy Preston, Joe Walsh, Jack Bruce, Edgar Winter, John Entwistle, Sheila E., Nils Lofgren, Dr. John, Rick Derringer…the list, like Starr’s music, goes on forever.

Ringo-allstarrs-2018 (fabulousfox.com)

The 2018 edition of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band features Gregg Rolie of Santana on keyboards and vocals, Colin Hay of Men at Work on guitar and vocals, Graham Gouldman of 10cc on bass and vocals, Steve Lukather of Toto on guitar and vocals, Gregg Bissonette on drums, multi-instrumentalist Warren Ham on assorted horns, keys, percussion, and vocals…and of course the man himself switching between lead vocals and drums. The group pulled into NYC for a spectacular show at Radio City Music Hall on September 13, pleasing the all-ages (but primarily 50-something) crowd from the opening beat of “Matchbox” to the fitting finale “With a Little Help from My Friends/Give Peace a Chance.”

Ringo-radiocity1        l-r:  Rolie, Ham, Lukather, Starr, Bissonette, Gouldman, Hay (photo by me)

Against a backdrop of flowers and stars, uh starrs (and occasional peace symbols), the All-Starrs alternated between Ringo-sung Beatles classics, hits from the guy’s solo career, and plenty of 70s-80s sounds courtesy of Rolie, Hay, Lukather, and Gouldman – the highlights (or as Ringo introduced them, “magical musical moments”) being a shortened, acoustic version of the 10cc hit “I’m Not in Love” and an appropriately percussionistic journey through Santana’s “Black Magic Woman.” And when was the last time you heard Men at Work’s MTV staple “Who Can It Be Now?” – or Toto’s first single “Hold the Line” – or Santana’s rousing version of Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va” – or even 10cc’s reggae spoof and bigger-hit-in-England-than-here “Dreadlock Holiday”? Ok, maybe not that long ago – but they certainly sounded great sprinkled in between fun and fab numbers like “What Goes On,” “Boys,” “Don’t Pass Me By,” “I Wanna Be Your Man,” and the Buck Owens-penned “Act Naturally.”

Ringo-forpresident (last.fm)

Solo Ringo hits “It Don’t Come Easy,” “You’re Sixteen,” and “Photograph” were all preceded by corny but charming introductions, and “Anthem” (the opener from his 2012 album Ringo 2012 – who came up with that title), was a not-as-familiar but welcome sentiment: “This is an anthem, for peace and love.” In the center of the set was the sing-along segment, the ever-popular “Yellow Submarine”…though disappointingly absent was “Octopus’s Garden,” another Starkey composition and one that would have gone over well with the kids at the show – accompanied by their Ringo-fan family members.

At 78 years young, Ringo Starr remains the entertainer’s entertainer, as spry and sprightly as ever, looking forever fashionable in his dark outfits and trademark gradient-tinted shades, and flashing the two-finger peace sign every chance he gets – his audience flashing it right back at him.

Ringo-peace (tmhome.com(


Images courtesy ringosbeatlekits.com, mindbox.com.au, ludwig-drums.com, fabulousfox.com, last.fm, tmhome.com

YouTube videos courtesy The Beatles/(C) 2015 Calderstone Productions Limited (a division of Universal Music Group) / Apple Corps Ltd. / Subafilms Ltd; and marcopertusati

More than a Benjamin Moore paint color…

Essex Green. Also known as Essex Green HC-188. This concentrated green inspires thoughts of storied academic settings overgrown with ivy.*

TheEssexGreen-2 (ticketfly.com)

But this Essex Green is a trio from Brooklyn, with a newish album, and one that’s neck-and-neck with the Brian Jonestown Massacre in the album-of-the-year race: Hardly Electronic, the band’s fourth. This green inspires thoughts of not only “neo-psychedelic pop” (as their label describes them) or 60s-70s folk-pop like Fairport Convention, but anything melodic from one end of rock ‘n’ roll to the other. Dig all those hooks and harmonies…but with a modern (I guess Brooklyn) edge.

TheEssexGreen-albumcover5 (theessexgreen.bandcamp.com)

Right off the bat, Hardly Electronic lets loose with bursts of Feelies-inspired energy and Squeeze-like keyboards (“Sloane Ranger”), Parallel Lines-era Blondie sounds (“The 710”), and a magnificent melding of Belle & Sebastian with perhaps the Go-Go’s? (“Don’t Leave It in Our Hands”). After that, the exquisite “In the Key of Me” features more than a few Joni Mitchell moments along with cello and oboe; a nice electric piano introduces “Modern Rain” which unfolds into a bouncy Beatles/Bee Gees atmosphere; “Catatonic” features a chorus that pairs Sasha Bell’s sparkling vocals with a driving, Pete Townshend-ish guitar; “Bye Bye Crow” is country-twangy; “Waikiki” is Hawaiian-twangy; “Smith & 9th” lets us know we’re in Bklyn, not Calif; and “Bristol Sky” finishes things up quietly with a Syd Barrett-esque, flute-infused waltz.


TheEssexGreen-1 (hotelcongress.com)

The Essex Green was formed when Bell, Jeff Baron, Chris Ziter, and Michael Barrett (all of the band Guppyboy) moved from Burlington, Vermont to Brooklyn and began gigging around the NYC area. They briefly joined the Elephant 6 Recording Company (the 1990s indie collective that produced the Apples in Stereo, the Olivia Tremor Control, Neutral Milk Hotel, Of Montreal, and others), and released their first album, Everything Is Green, in 1999. The Long Goodbye followed in 2003 on Merge Records, and Cannibal Sea in 2006. Now, a dozen years later, The Essex Green are back. The band recently performed in their hometown at the Knitting Factory, kicking off a two-month national tour, so catch the Essex Green in, like, Omaha, Nebraska on October 8?

TheEssexGreen-benjamin-moore-paint (theroccollective.com)


*Description courtesy benjaminmoore.com

Images courtesy ticketfly.com, theessexgreen.bandcamp.com, hotelcongress.com, theroccollective.com

Space Is the Place!

sun-ra-employment-agency (unz.com)

[Drunk walks into Sun Ra’s employment agency]
Drunk: My man, what’s happenin?
Sun Ra: Everything is happenin.
Drunk: What is this… I mean what… where am I? Who is you?
Sun Ra: I am everything, and nuthin.
Drunk: Nuthin? Well you betta tell me about this nuthin stuff, cause, uh, I need a job. I… I don’t know what to do.
Sun Ra: What have you been doin lately?
Drunk: Uh huh uh, nuthin, really, nuthin.
Sun Ra: How long have you been doing nuthin?
Drunk: Quite some time. Quite some time.
Sun Ra: You must be an expert at it.
Drunk: Got my B.A., ya see.
Sun Ra: We’ll hire you to do that.
Drunk: How much I get paid, man?
Sun Ra: Nuthin.
Drunk: Nuthin? NUTHIN? I got to have sumthin so I can get me anotha botty. I can’t go for that shit!*

sun-ra-space-poster (rottentomatoes.com)So goes a delightfully droll scene in Space Is the Place, the 1974 sci-fi-avant-jazz-social-commentary flick starring Sun Ra, his Arkestra, and various other characters. The storyline centers on Sun Ra as he lands his spaceship (which, head-on, resembles either a pair of eyes or a pair of breasts) in Oakland, California, having been presumed lost in space for a few years – ever since his last European concert tour. What follows is a bizarre, hilarious, at-times disturbing journey through the rise of Black Power by way of the eccentric visions of Mr. Ra. From a card duel between Ra and “the Overseer” to vintage Arkestra performance footage to a slightly X-rated scene in a hospital, Space Is the Place completely entertains while beaming its message to all of us earthlings.

Sun-Ra-spaceship (markbould.com)Sun-Ra-and-the-Overseer (pledgemusic.com)

Last Wednesday evening, August 8, the remaining/current incarnation of the Arkestra took to the stage at the Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors series and performed the soundtrack to Space Is the Place. Having researched the film a bit beforehand, I was anticipating watching it in some online form in the near future, but what a surprise – as the movie began playing in its entirety onscreen behind them! It was a dizzying, deranged combination of the film’s freaky images, the band’s grandiloquent costumes (described recently by one reviewer as “sequin spangled capes and headgear looking a bit like a Las Vegas Star Trek review as imagined by a fan of King Tut”**), the cacophony of otherworldly noises, the ever-present airplanes shooting across the night sky, and the overall sweltering NYC summer air.

Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors is the place! (photo by me)

Sun-Ra-Space-CD-cover (amazon.com)The actual soundtrack music, recorded in San Francisco in 1972 and long unavailable, was finally released on CD in 1993 on Evidence Music. Sun Ra, who passed – or maybe just became lost in space again – that same year, plays all manner of keyboards: piano, minimoog, Farfisa organ, clavinet, rocksichord (!), while erstwhile Arkestra member Marshall Allen handles the alto saxophone chores, as well as flute, oboe, bassoon, kora, cowbell, and assorted percussion (because “as all marines are riflemen, all members of the Arkestra are percussionists”). Mr. Allen, leading the Arkestra nowadays at age 94, was front-and-center at the show, in sparkling red robe and cap, blowing up a storm, as singer/violinist Tara Middleton more than did justice to original vocalist June Tyson’s soulful stylings on numbers like “Satellites Are Spinning” and the funky title song.

sun-ra-arkestra-under-the-direction-of-marshall-allen-690x448 (ink19.com)               Tara Middleton and Marshall Allen with the Arkestra

“The earth cannot move without music. The earth moves in a certain rhythm, a certain sound, a certain note. When the music stops the earth will stop and everything upon it will die.”

— Sun Ra

sun-ra-colors (djmag.com)


* Dialogue courtesy imdb.com/title/tt0072195/

 ** Bob Pomeroy, https://ink19.com/2016/03/magazine/event-reviews/sun-ra-arkestra-under-the-direction-of-marshall-allen

 Images courtesy unz.com, rottentomatoes.com, markbould.com, pledgemusic.com, amazon.com, ink19.com, djmag.com