Rock Gods #90: Adventures in Our Little Music Scene

Its a “naked CD release” for our beloved Millie and the model marvels tomorrow at the Bullfinch. The band (full disclosure: we date its leader; and no, you can’t make any “full disclosure” jokes about that) took our advice when the CDs arrived but the packaging didn’t, and are holding the release party anyway. The disc is called Model Behavior, and liner notes (by ours truly) will be delivered by mail, with a special bonus plus a chance to win a gift certificate from the Keene Boutique on a lottery. Four Color Fun and Love in Blum open…

Another love band, Betting on Love, headlines Hamilton’s, with The Web Returns and Sun Burned… Dollaire’s? Don’t bother: Hollywood Hunks and Bikinis & Backstabbing. Told you… If you’re desperate, try Swing classes at the college on the hill with live music from May I Have This Dance…

Olive lit

Kathleen, the math teacher, came home just as a loaf of Cypriot olive and cilantro bread was coming out of the oven. It’s a surprisingly basic white bread recipe (though I do one-sixth to one-quarter whole wheat flour in all my breads), only with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, rolled up with a cup of chopped black olives and a half cup of chopped cilantro.
So, the kitchen smells of Greece and not kitchen grease. And Kathleen enhances the theme with a request. A colleague who teaches high school Latin knows that I’m a former Latin student, and that my father was an internationally known Greek and Roman historian. She’s planning a Roman feast for one of her classes. Would I happen to have any Roman cookbooks?
I’d been waiting for such a request for 32 years. That’s how long its been since my own high school class had a Roman feast, and I last had occasion to use Romanae Artis Coquinariae Liber—The Roman Cookery Book, adapted from Apicius by Barbara Flower and Elisabeth Rosenblum (Peter Nevill Ltd., 1958). Suckling pig, anyone? I lend the book ecstatically.
I also held on to Cooking the Greek Way by Maro Duncan (Spring Books, 1964). But for now the bread is enough.

Rock Gods #89: Adventures in Our Little Music Scene

OK, now we’re a little annoyed. Not long ago, we defended the Meach family and their recent barn festival from charges of cultiness. We stand by that defense, think the outrage was over the top. But we were unaware until just before we wrote this that they squirrelled away the liability forms which the fest’s visitors all had to sign and have been using them to contact those folks about coming out to non-musical gatherings at the farm. More paranoid minds than ours are using phrases like “recruitment” and “indoctrination.” Now, that may be over the top to describe invitations to a potluck supper prior to one of the farm’s high-volume hoe-downs. But still, color us nonplussed.
Let’s handle this rationally—a radical approach in rock & roll, we know. These barn shows are a wonderment in themselves. The noise can distort your hearing, your vision, your sense of self. That’s plenty for us, and that’s where we stopped. If you think greater rewards lie with living on the grounds, making furniture, raising orphan kids—well, you’ve been warned.
Meantime, two of the offending bands—Limber Zeal and the Meaches’ own Shaking Quakers—have a rare downtown gig at the Bullfinch on, uh, Sunday. We predict there’ll be a spiritual showdown of some kind, with picketers and all that, but promise us you’ll stay for the music and judge it own its own terrestrial terms.

Last match, lucky at cards and blackmailer at Hamilton’s… The wounded and the slain and witness to myself call out to the college kids at Dollaire’s…

Another Top Five

[Arnott expounds further on his old 45s]

1. Eddie Cochran, Coutnry Style EP (Rock Star). 1979 rerelease of early C&W sides by The Cochran Brothers in 1954, presaging the twang of Eddie’s impending rock & roll. He’s already yelping, racing the beat and making sure the bass is prominent, even on “Mr. Fiddle.”

2. Doug Allen’s Steven in “Out West (Vital Cog Records). Amazing collectible 7-inch starring the sassy behatted alt-comic character known for his adorable catchphrases “Eat Some Paste,” “I Hate You” and “Give Me All the Beer You Have Or I’ll Kill You.” I own T-shirts emblazoned with all these sayings, plus several collections of the comics. The strip also used to run in the New Haven Advocate. The day I joined the Advocate, I crowed loudly in the editorial room that “I’m proud to write for a paper that runs Steven!” To which I got blank stares and one staffer’s admission that “we all hate Steven.”
Doug Allen didn’t just have a comic strip, he had a band, and they come together on this disk, which is modeled along one of those old “Read-Along Books” which asks you to turn the page when you hear a blooping noise.

3. I Yam What I Yam b/w He Needs Me. Nilsson songs from Robert Altman’s Popeye movie. The picture sleeve shows Robin Williams, Shelley Duvall and the infant who played Swee’pea. Why wasn’t “He’s Large” a single?

4. Willie Loco Alexander, You Got a Hard Time Coming b/w Larry Bird. A different band on each side. The Bird anthem was penned by Erik Lindgren of Arf Arf Records, though this single was released in 1988. Mr. Alexander is in fine form. I saw him live a bunch of times during this phase of his long, astounding career. He was losing some of the punk accouterments and settling into a more fluid rock style, which presaged his brilliant jazz/rock experiments of the 1990s.

5. Deadguy, White Meat EP. Early release (from 1994 on the DaDa label) by the hardcore supergroup, who stunned me senseless every time I saw them. Wonder what it’s worth? Well, you can’t have it. The songs have lost none of their menace: “Druid,” “The Extremist” and “John Dear.”

Rock Gods #88: Adventures in Our Little Music Scene

Frieda Bettany’s class project about the sexual iconography and vocabulary of the local dance scene goes on as scheduled, 5:30 p.m. tomorrow night at D’ollaire’s. But, as you’ll notice from posters and features elsewhere in the local media, the title has been changed to something less academic than “Dance Dance Epistemology.” The show is also being done without the opening oral presentation it had when presented at the college on the hill a few weeks ago. We couldn’t reach Bettany for clarification (that is to say, we haven’t run into her at the Bullfinch lately), so we don’t know what other changes might be afoot for the project originally known as “The Other Foot.” But we know we’ll be there to see it—a big commitment, considering it means standing inside D’ollaire’s on a Saturday night…

Same night: Three (count ‘em, three!) party bands at Hamilton’s: Teaspoonful of Zest, Extra Fluffy Filling and Double Boiler, with no intellectual irony expected…

Comics book of the Week

Houdini The Handcuff King by Jason Lutes and Nick Bertozzi (The Center for Cartoon Studies/Hyperion Paperbacks, 2007)

This one is a few years old, but I just discovered it due to my daughters’ newfound interest in stage magic. (Eerily, as I was writing this very paragraph, I flipped on a news site and learned that Houdini’s final stage assistant, Dorothy Young, died just hours ago at the age of 103.)

We’ve had half a dozen Houdini biographies out of the library in the past few months. Of all of them, the girls have been most taken with the garish, postmodern and often downright grotesque coffee table tome Houdini: Art and Magic wrought by Brooke Kamin Rapaport issued by the Jewish Museum.
Where Art and Magic builds upon fantasy images of Houdini flying and glaring and transforming, Lutes & Bertozzi’s The Handcuff King is purposefully pedestrian. Despite its graphic novel openness and related freedoms of expression, it depicts a relatively low-key time in the unbound life of the erstwhile Erich Weiss, vaudvillean escape artist turned international supernatural superstar.
Indie comics are known for their humanizing elements. This proves true even when dramatizing the daredevil exploits of major celebrities. This is an everyday account of Houdini at the height of his success, unsullied by sensationalism.
Houdini may be jumping off the Harvard Bridge in Cambridge, Mass., handcuffed, before a crowd of thousands. But as we see, in quiet moments in his hotel room minutes before the big splash, Houdini puts on his pants one leg at a time like anyone else.
The Handcuff King gives away a major trick of the escape artist’s trade, but only one which has already been given away numerous times by other Houdini scholars. It’s revealed in sentimental fashion. This is the least freakish Houdini book I’ve seen. What you really come away with from it is how much Houdini loved his wife.

Rock Gods #87: Adventures in Our Little Music Scene

Finally met the drummer of The Illegal Briefs, and recognized him as the drummer for Wet/Dry Shaver, whom we hadn’t seen play in months. That band’s still together, but playing mostly in the towns where co-leaders (and pals since grade school) Whit and Dray (get it?) now go to college. That means their drummer—oh, yeah, his name is Philip Braun—has some time on his stick-filled hands. He’s the young’un of Illegal Briefs. And his day job? Fry cook at The New Egg on Pivot Rd.
That was our line on The Illegal Briefs originally, see—that’s they’d met in the same retail/office building complex and started jamming. Now that we’ve seen them, we declare it unfair to tag them by their non-music-making proclivities. This is a band with a style, an edge even. Flint Genessee’s saxophone mimics the bass lines of Connie Nash, while drummer Braun mindmelds not with Nash but with the sinuous, serpentine melodies of guitarist Hoff Eukis. Songs are about such sordid topics as divorce, flood damage (a metaphor for crying, we suspect) and serial killing. See what we mean by edgy?…

Country and western jamboree at the college on the hill! We’re told this is a major conference of c&w talent, three generations strong: dozens of local, regional, national and even international bands, including Lifestyle Gods, Last of the Breed, Haunted Mesa, Hondo, Trap of Gold and Black Rock Coffin
Makers. That last-named act features a fife!..
Those old West winds blow away all the Eastern nonsense happening elsewhere: Sono-trol at the Bullfinch (breaking away from their tour with The Peytones), Mother Merriman (the Down-with-the-kids mom who pretends to rock) at Hamilton’s, with an acoustic opening set by Wilda… And—god, no!—The Buck
McCrackens at Dollaire’s. Go up the country, truly.