Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rodeo at the (old) Student Union Ballroom, 1971

New technology, especially that which allows people to duplicate and share pieces of expressive culture, always allows for reconfigurations and DIY revisions of historical memory. The libratory possibilities involved in this are compromised of course, by the (small) circulation of these materials relative to mass-market artifacts and instituionally derived narratives, and by the imbrication of the technology and its social apparatus in networks of capital that posit exclusionary barriers and offer consolation prizes in order to co-opt the possibility of truly extracting freedom from a world of necessity. But, caveats aside, and apologies for sounding like a .com uptopian ten years too late, I do think that we're living through the birth of the digital vernacular, and that whatever it's corporatized and compromised position, Youtube offers a fascinating forum for people to personalize and revise local history. there's a line to walk here, over the pit of nostalgia and false consciousness, but for me this came roaring out of the screen and obliterated what Jameson calls "the nostalgia for the present" which keeps us dangerously disconnected from the past. Your mileage may vary.

Riffs: I imagine that the tape recorder this was recorded on, now obsolete, inspired many of the same Utopian visions that I'm tapping into regarding Youtube. And well it should, since that technology is just as, if not more important in delivering this artifact to us than digital video. Second, note the club "West Street" which I'd heard about but never seen pictures of, located on the corner of Laffayette and West Ave, longtime home to the Magnolia Haircutters and a bike shop. I don't know what it is now. Also: lots of gigs with Moloch, a truly revolutionary multi-racial heavy blues band from Memphis that included Mudboy and the Neutrons guitarist Lee Baker. Also, maybe because I know him and not the others, I find the pictures of a young Windy Austin, still 5 years or so away from Zorro's first performance, fascinating.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thanks Fayetteville Flyer!

Thanks to the folks at The Fayetteville Flyer for adding this blog to the Flyer Blogfolio. If you wander here from over there, please drop me a note. I'm still messing around with the format, and since I can't find a way to caption it I'll jsut tell you here that the picture at the top of the page is Windy Austin and Jojo Thompson playing the same piano at the Library Club, around 1988. The picture at the bottom is Don Tyson bringing Jojo a drink around the same time. I'm working on a post about early 1960s Northwest Arkansas/Tulsa based record label Cimarron Records, and I'm amazed that I haven't posted anything about the amazing Avett Brothers show here in Iowa city last month. And my band played a show too...more on all this later.

I promise I'll do a free music Friday this week. Until then, give the Stompers a listen below.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Free Music Friday: Blue Boy Orlis & The Stompers: Same Old Man

Hi Folks

Since the recordings from the last two weeks were from Orlis' archive, I decided to put up some of his music this week. This is called Same Old Man, and it's the song I always want to use when I introduce the Stompers to people. it was the the first song we recorded when we set up the four track at the Peace & Justice Center in 1993. It was January of 1993 in fact, and listening to it I'm remembering doing alot of playing and recording in that building with only a little wood stove for heat. Anyway, here's the track:

And, you can take one home, here. Creative Commons license, you can have it, just don't sell it.

Credits: Orlis: vocals and guitar. Levi Williams: bass, mouth harp, vocal. Mark Mcgee: harmonica, sandpaper blocks. Chris Moody: banjo, saw. Eric (who usually played bass) vocal. Brian Petty: vocal. Cori Teeple: vocal. Stomper engineered by Lvi, Chris and Eric.

let me know what you think!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Free Music Friday: Kiwi at the Library Club, I Am the Walrus

Kiwi, at the Library Club 1981. The song is a full-on, over the top cover of "I am The Walrus" by two (three?) musicians, an excerpt from a sociomusical relic, a cassette recording called Kiwi's Last Stand. Lead singer Tommy Elskes is still playing in Texas (*update, no, the google is telling me something about Colorado and now New Orleans...) He's put out a couple of albums and there are videos on Youtube to be found. I think that Kiwi was from Texas and moved up to Fayetteville, or played in Fayetteville alot in the 1970s. Beyond that I don't know much and would be grateful to hear more in comments.

* note this recording is also thanks to Orlis! Download link at here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Test: Jojo Thompson in Cybersapce

Alright folks,

I'm going to start putting songs up here, and I think I figured out how.

I'm hoping to generate some conversations about the music that I'm listening to, mostly related to my project on Northwest Arkansas. So let me know what you think.

Here's a test: It's Jojo Thompson, playing at his own birthday party at the American Legion Hall in Fayetteville, Arkansas, sometime in the late 1980s or very early 1990s. The recording is from Orlis, Thanks!

Update: by the way, most of what's going up here is going to be stored at
the internet archive, that's where the player is from, and where I can I'll put links up like this one.

Update #2: That's Jojo playing piano and having a drink served to him by Don Tyson at the Library Club in the picture at the bottom of this page, by the way.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I salute You, Brother.

when I met my friend Billy in 1985 he had a cassette tape of the Jim Carroll Band playing this song, "It's Too Late" on Fridays. he'd recorded it by holding his cassette player up to the TV speaker. That cassette was/is like a holy relic to us, or at least to me and I think to him. Despite what some might think, it isn't any less so because can go fetch the audio and video from all three songs that Jim and his band played that night, and stick them up here. That's what we wanted, after all, and that wanting, to hear this throbbing, snarling, slashing performance at will, is what made that cassette so special.

Jim Carroll died yesterday. I suppose that it's a wonder he made it to 60, but it's still sad. I've seen "People Who died" posted alot, but thanks to my friend Billy, this song has always been the one I remembered from the performance on Fridays that we'd both seen at the same time in different places. "Day and Night" from the Fridays show is up on Youtube as well, and it's also a great performance. There are also some homemade videos from Dry Dreams, the Jim Carroll band's second and I think best LP.

I'll post something tomorrow so this doesn't just turn into the RIP blog.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Keeping the Zebra Ranch Going.

I was searching out blog remembrances of Jim Dickinson, when I came across this. It's from Mary Lindsay Dickinson via Robert Gordon via Paul Duane via Joe Nick Patoski:

"People have been asking me what they could do to help us. I didn't know what to say until yesterday when I woke up with Jim's voice in my head, saying as he often did, "I am never insulted by money." This fits into Cody and Luther's plan for the Zebra Ranch Studio, which is to continue to record there with the benefit of Jim's sonic genius and musical ambiance.

If people want to participate in keeping Jim Dickinson's dream alive, they can donate to through paypal or mail to
Mary Dickinson
P.O. Box 1015
Coldwater, MS 38618

Please help us spread the word that the Zebra Ranch studio is always open
for business, either as a rental or with the addition of Cody as producer,
Luther as guitarist and aesthetic consultant,and Jim smiling down on us from Heaven."

If you know anywhere this information should be posted, post it. World Boogie is Coming.

Damn right it's coming. And, I'll have that other post up soon--Jim generated some amazing memorials, befitting the work that he did.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I'm just dead, I'm not gone: James Luther Dickinson 11/15/41 to 08/15/09

(L-R: Lee Baker, Jim Dickinson, Sid Selvidge, Jimmy Crosthwait, photo by William Eggleston)

The first time I heard the album Dixie Fried and really heard it was late at night in the Record Exchange in the Boardwalk at the top of Dickson street. Subsequently, every time I listen to something from the body of work that flows back to Jim Dickinson, it's with the awareness that I'm in danger of having my mind blown. That album was a hard record to find then, and for years it was just a tape of that and a copy of the even-more obscure Beale Street Saturday Night audio collage that represented, for me, a great pronouncement of how to do and feel and be with music, how to stare down history and have a damn good time doing it. Except that "staring down history" doesn't really get at the incredible warmth in his music, and saying that it represented (made real) in musical praxis the real possibilities of southern collectivism after the 1960s sounds too heavy, but that's what it did. For years, when he wasn't making records, we still knew he was down there, in North Mississippi, just south of Memphis. Thinking he might hear it was a good reason to keep making music.

Dixie Fried was re-released on CD a few years ago, and it's been kind of odd to see copies of this former talisman on sale for $8.99 on Ebay. Odd, but not bad at all since it also came with a veritable flood of new material, 4 new music records, a spoken word album, albums with and by his sons, Cody and Luther, all since 2002. I was really getting used to living in a world where James Luther Dickinson not only was around, but was making records, making lots of records, and playing music. I'll miss that. Condolences to the Dickinson Family and friends, and thanks to Jim for the music.
L-R: Jim, Luther, Cody, and Mary Dickinson
photo by Annie liebowitz

Saturday, August 8, 2009

RIP Mike Seeger.

Mike Seeger has passed. I'm not the one to tell you about him though. There are a couple of good remembrances here and here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Buddy Hayes park

The Fayetteville Flyer reports on a meeting of the Fayetteville Forward Historic and Heritage Resources Group, led by local preservationist and past pro-sound ordinance/anti local music crusader Paula Marinoni, and asks "What are some of the historic places in Fayetteville that need to be preserved? What are our traditions? What are some of the things that you’d consider Fayetteville heritage?"

Because I'm out here in the diaspora, I can't go to the meetings, but here's my recommendation:

Fayetteville has a rich and active musical tradition, and for many years the town's flagship band was the (now mostly retired) Cate Brothers, whose career included 4 major label albums, (1975-1979) 2 smaller label albums, (1970-1972) 5 independently released CDs, (1996-2007) tours of Europe and Japan and performances with (not just opening for but playing music on stage with) the Band, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and the Grateful Dead. They deserve some commemoration, but that's not who I'm thinking of here. The Cates grew up in all-white (then) Springdale, but got turned onto the style of music they play by (black) artists like Ray Charles and Bobby 'Blue' Bland by the Jukebox at the Rockwood Club, co-owned by Ronnie Hawkins, whose band, the Hawks, played an aggressive and distinctly southern form of rock and roll and R& B and who included future members of The Band and also some blues and country luminaries.

Hawkins was born around Huntsville but grew up in Fayetteville, was part of the first generation of white rock and rollers in the South. Besides the success of his band, a virtual minor league training center for important figures in roots rock, he's been internationally known since the 60s, he hosted John Lennon and Yoko, played for presidents and kings, and is still rocking. He's always kept his Fayetteville roots close to his heart, returning regularly, and even helping out Fayetteville musicians like the great Jojo Thompson when he needed a helping hand. We could show our appreciation of Ronnie a little, but he's not who I'm talking about. Jojo Thompson was a unique and powerful musical voice who, with a little more respect from club owners and better luck, might have been known as our contribution to the 80s and 90s blues revival, but he's not who I'm thinking of either.

Ronnie Hawkins learned about, and then learned to play and sing what he called "black music" --blues and R&*B--from the guy who shined shoes at the UA style shop where Hawkins dad cut hair. That guy, Ralph "Buddy" Hayes was a trumpet player and band leader whose group, I'm told, had a sound and a songbook similar to that of Louis Jordan or Louis Armstrong. They played in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Eureka Springs and were remarkably successful, especially for a black band working in the Ozarks in the 40s. More than the success they achieved at the time, Buddy and his band represent an unbroken musical chain, our own example of a process of transculturation and sharing that cut across racially unjust legal and social barriers, and helped create a definitive local sound that's also part of an important historical and cultural process.

Now, there is a memorial to Buddy Hayes in Fayetteville, it's a little park on the southside, in the neighborhood that's called either "spout Spring" or "The Holler" or "Tincup" depending on what generation of Fayettevillian you are. the park itself is just about big enough to park a car on, and there's a small stone marker with a dedication and Buddy's name on it, and nothing else. it sits in the shadow of the Confederate Cemetery, founded by the Southern Memorial Association in 1872 and maintianed by them til this day. If you want information about that Cemetery, the people in it, the cause they fought for, it's founding, and more you can look on the internet, you can go to the public library, the Washington county Historical society, and more. If you want information on Buddy Hayes you have to talk to people, or read Ronnie Hawkins autobiography.

History is made up of memory, of what is told and remembered and preserved. for almost 140 years citizens of Fayetteville have proudly maintained a monument to misguided loyalty and racial tyranny. Now I understand that the civil war was about more than slavery, but it was also, very much, about slavery. I know that wasn't why everyone who fought for the south fought, hell, most of the people in Washington County wealthy enough to own slaves fled to Texas and sat out the war there, but you can't take slavery out of the equation and have it still make sense, no matter how much better we feel if we do. Anyway, I do love that cemetery aesthetically, no matter how perverse it's location above the town's only historically African American neighborhood has been. I'm not protesting it's existence or preservation, I'm just asking for a little equal time for community, music,and love across racial lines, and for the people who's stories have been left out of local history and heritage.

Fayetteville was the only city in the Arkansas Ozarks whose black population increased in the years after the civil war, as the black population of the Ozarks moved into or through the city. Most moved down from the hills seeking a better economic life, though black folks in Harrison and Eureka Springs were driven out in violent purges. African American American labor contributed greatly to the rebuilding of the town, which was, by the way, mostly destroyed by Confederate, not Union forces. Between roughly 1900 and the early 1970s, the Spout Spring neighborhood was a community within a community, where people lived and raised families and went to school and contributed to the economic and cultural life of the town. Fayetteville is justly proud to be the second school board in the nation to vote to comply with Brown V. Board in 1954 and integrate it's secondary schools. We know, as a matter of public record, much about the white administrators who, courageously and honorably took on their own establishment to press for and support these changes, but we know little about the people who walked down the trails that they opened up, or why it took the city until 1965 to integrate the elementary schools, why the Lincoln School building was torn down after neighborhood residents refurbished the building to use as a community center, and why in general, the history of black fayettevillians has never been much of a part of the larger history of the city.

Understanding the music and career of Buddy Hayes, the cultural environment he operated in, his influence on Fayetteville musicians and on the growth of a music scene in Fayetteville that combined traditions maintained by both black and white southerners would help us to understand our history and heritage in a more complex and experiential way. Bringing the history of the part of town where he came from out into the light would give us a fuller and more three-dimensional understanding of the transformations of our region, and help to complicate the media driven image of the Ozarks as a strictly white enclave. It also might expand our definiton of a "historic neigborhood' so that doesn't just mean "where rich people had nice houses." Given all of this (and sorry it took so long!) I'd like to see an expansion of Buddy Hayes park and the establishment of a publicly accessible archive based on material that could be gathered by the fine folks at the Center for Arkansas and Regional Studies and the David Pryor Oral History Project at the U of A. Spout Spring has been a (secret) important part of what made Fayetteville culturally different from the rest of the Ozarks for most of the 20th century. let's remember it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Well, unlike Stuart Hall, who, according to Kembrew speaks in eerily complete sentences dense with complex and well reasoned thought even during supposedly normal conversation, I do give a damn about popular culture. But not enough to post about it very often here these days. I do have thoughts brewing, like how to pay tribute at the passing of the very top of the order of my favorite rock guitarists, Ron Asheton, while not sweeping his old habit of, wearing Nazi uniforms onstage entirely under the rug and still capturing the fact that he was, by all accounts, a really nice guy and neither a fascist nor a white supremacist. Or,how about this: The Drive by Truckers and the North Mississippi AllStars as representatives of respectively textual and embodied histories of what should be called simply southern rock but likely needs a new name since Skynard, or god forbid Molly Hatchet explains that one for most people. Or maybe I should just finish the goddamn bibliographic essay.

Oh, by the way, the North Mississippi All Stars have a new CD out, It's called Do It Like We Used To Do: Live 96-08. it's a fine, fine thing, and with 2 CDs & a DVD for regular single disc price, and a host of family and friends showing up throughout, I think it passes event he most stringent VFM requirements.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

“Popular culture is one of the sites where the struggle for and against a culture of the powerful is to be engaged: it is also the stake to be won or lost in that struggle. It is the arena of consent and resistance. It is partly where hegemony arises and where it is secured. It is not a sphere where socialism, a socialist culture—already fully formed—might be simply expressed. But it is one of the places where socialism might be constituted. That is why popular culture matters. Otherwise, to tell you the truth, I don’t give a damn about it.”

Stuart Hall: Notes on Deconstructing the Popular, 1981.

Friday, January 2, 2009

What is up? (instant transcript)

What is up with the boomers’ tense relationship with property rights, and their love/lust dynamic regarding consumerism/freedom? There is a tremendous distrust of the republic and a commensurate flight into the private sector, a kind of religious (in the dogmatic, scared sense) of the innate evil and unjust nature of taxation. It’s very passionate, and the sense of hurt is real. The suspicion and skepticism of a government that is actually much friendlier to them than to the people that they buy guns to defend themselves from runs deeper than ideology, or at least to the things that give ideologies depth.

I wonder if some of this does come in the wake of the civil rights revolution: a sense of fear that a government that could, with some success, change a whole people’s status in society. Many of these people feel like, in fact understand that their own relationship to capital, as something that dominates them rather than that they dominate, means that they are likely to lose out in any kind of rearrangement. Of course they also believe (reasonably based on experience) that someone has to lose out, and since this situation also reveals that their racial relationship to capital can be intervened in, unlike the more purely instrumental relationship to capital of other white people who happen to be rich, they are pissed off about it.

I wonder if there is something there in the 50s (and afterwards) that’s helping to reproduce this reaction to civil rights gains? Something that makes the flight into the private sphere that comes out of racial politics a strongly felt and somewhat painful state to be in? Whatever it is it isn't unrelated to the bubble of anti-commercial utopianism in the late 1960s, nor to the explicitly (and differentially) commercial nature of the distribution schemes for those Utopian visions.