Wednesday, October 04, 2006

'Member Me?!

I realize that even at my best I wasn't exactly lighting the blogosphere on fire, but I still feel a bit guilty about not posting for a looooooong time now. Sorry imaginary audience...and sorry to Andy, my older brother, and a huge influence on my life. How so you ask? Well, Andy was the one that set me on my path of obsession with art, music, and other forms of expression and/or pop-culture. Damn him!! But seriously, if it weren't for him I'm not sure what I'd be into today. It could have been ugly, though I don't think so. In the age-old nature vs. nurture debate( or most debates for that matter) I think that most of the time the truth is somewhere in the middle ; neither black nor white. I feel that I would have eventually gravitated towards what I now consider to be my primary interests even without the strong, and diverse influence that Andy had on my formative years, but I might have made a few more wrong turns along the way. While maintaining straight-A's in school, as well as being involved in numerous extra-curricular activities Andy still found time to indulge his other passions of music, comic books, theatre, movies, technology, and women. I received a fine education via an egalitarian gumbo of the golden-era of mainstream and underground comic books, horror/sci-fi/B-movies and television, and "pop" music ranging from Spike Jones, and Al Jolson to Plastic Bertrand, and Pink Floyd along with musical and movie soundtracks amongst other oddities. Thanks Andy! You are very appreciated for that reason and many more.

While my brother Charles was also an influence, primarily in the form of a surreal sense of humour, and his hard rock, and occasional new-wave records (Devo, Talking Heads), Andy was without a doubt the one that ended up making the most indelible mark on my soul. Just for exposing me to the Church of the Subgenius he should be either celebrated or damned depending on your perspective. After Andy I'd have to say that Scott Franzke and Colin Bolinger were the biggest influences, and later a revolving cast of characters from what would be called the punk/new wave/skateboarding scene, and of course Bob Hudspeth; David Breihan, and Mandon Maloney certainly get honorable mentions for the skatepunk trip. College brought a whole other cast of characters that will have to wait for now. But enough about people from my past that you don't know, let's talk about people from the present that you don't know either.

I can't go any further without acknowledging the life and passing of Freddy Fender who was part of the soundtrack of my childhood, and one of my musical heroes along with the rest of the Texas Tornadoes in my adulthood. Joe Belock of WFMU has put together a brief but effective tribute to Freddy on his Three Chord Monte program which can be found here(scroll down): Music has become an even bigger part of my life in recent months primarily due to the fact that my band is playing shows more regularly now with the new, solidified line-up. Saddle Tramp now consists of Chad Bennet on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, Anthony Hernandez on lead-mandolin/accordion/bajo sexto/backing vocals, William "The Finger" Pollard on bass, and yours truly, the Pickin' Polack on lead guitar/backing vocals. It's really getting to be a lot of fun, and I believe we sound better than ever. William, and Anthony are both exceptionally good musicians and quite personable as well. They are the glue that allows Chad and I to justify having a band at all. Anthony plays in another band called Mule Dixon, that happened to be one of the bands we opened for at our recent show at Club Dada, and William is a veteran of many Denton-related bands ranging from the infamous Cornhole, to the recently defunct Budapest One. Mule Dixon is a very polished act comprised primarily of acoustic guitar, mandolin, hand percussion and of course vocals provided by Nick Ippolilitti and Anthony. Cool, gritty and folkish with a narrative bent. Definitely worth checking out. There were two other bands that played that night but for some reason the Places, which were scheduled to go on third ended up playing last but that seemed to work out for the best as they didn't quite fit in with the decidedly roots/folk/country/hillbilly vibe that seemed to be the common thread between the rest of us. Garland's Fish Fry Bingo rounded out the rural portion of the evening nicely with their stripped down, old-timey/bluegrass/folk sound. Stand-up bass, acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo and vocals were all they needed to win over the sparse crowd( hey it's Tuesday night!) at Dada. That along with their infectious energy, quirky stage presence, and in some cases appearance (but hey look at me!) made for a memorable performance. Apparently they enjoyed our set as much as we enjoyed theirs as they invited us to play with them at Muddy Waters next month. The lead singer, whose name I believe is Daniel paid us a huge compliment by saying we reminded him of Doug Sahm, as well as the Flying Burrito Brothers. Now I'm going to take that with a grain of salt, but I did tell him that I could die peacefully after hearing it. Sadly, the Places came on to a very small crowd that had just been bombarded with three rootsy acts and though they were interesting and inventive I doubt it was one of their best shows. They would have faired far better in Denton, but they may already know that.

Almost forgot to mention that we played with a cool band from Arkansas(Fayetteville I think) called the Saddle Burrs couple of weeks back at the Bar of Soap. It was supposed to be the Dallas premiere of a movie made by a friend, or indirect friend of both bands but due to technical difficulties the movie wasn't happening, but that didn't stop the "Saddle Gang" from making a ruckus. We might do it again but for real so I'll keep you posted. And now for some pathetic complaints to round out the post...I missed yet another Gonerfest in Memphis last month. This was the third multi-day concert put on by Goner Records, which might be the epicenter for the modern underground rock and roll/garage/punk scene. The best thing about these guys is that they don't forget their roots so local Memphis musicians, and international musicians that are only loosely related in style all share the same stage. I hear that much like the Ponderosa Stomp, Rockin' Enocki the one-man band from Japan was the star of the show in the opinion of many. This would be the reason that he is pictured at the top of the page. Well, that and the fact that it's one of my favorites from my trip to Memphis in May, and it prevents me from the shameless self-promotion of putting a picture of Saddle Tramp up there. But you just wait...