Friday, March 30, 2007


Still been working on that Noise Rock piece. It's just frustrating because some bands and labels will not get back to me. If you know some of these musicians and labels involved in Midwest Noise and Experimental music, tell them to get in touch with me so this article is as well-informed as it can be. The Noise Rock scene is slowly turning into my new Cleveland...


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Nepal's 'Buddha Boy' begins three-year meditation in bunker

News has been coming out pretty fast on Buddha Boy lately. I think I missed the article between where he disappeared again and started doing this bunker thing...thanks to Rich for passing this article on to me:

A Nepali teenager dubbed the "Buddha Boy" has recently begun meditating for a planned three years in an underground bunker and will neither sleep, eat nor drink any water during that time, supporters claimed Tuesday.
Ram Bahadur Bomjan, 17, who supporters insist is the reincarnation of the Buddha, shot to fame in May 2005 amid reports he did not need food, water or sleep while meditating.
He has, however, been spotted nibbling on fruit and catching a nap.
"We've constructed an underground room with a tiled roof as requested by Bomjan," said Raju Shah, a member of a village committee set up to support the activities of the young man.
Shah said Bomjam began meditating in the bunker on Monday.
"He has not eaten, slept or taken any water and he plans to continue meditating without food or water for three years there," Shah claimed.
The cement-walled bunker is seven feet (2.1 metres) deep and is located in the jungle 60 kilometers (40 miles) southeast of Kathmandu, Shah told AFP.
Tens of thousands of people came to visit the teenager at his first meditation site under a pipal tree in the same area.
He vanished from the site in March 2006 after meditating for 10 months.
"This time he does not want visitors - not even his family," said Shah.
Local authorities, however, have poured cold water on the fasting claims and said the boy was being used by supporters to fleece funds from villagers. They froze the committee's bank account containing 8,000 dollars - a small fortune in impoverished Nepal.
Bomjam returned to the same area to meditate in December 2006, but disappeared again earlier this month.
"While he was wandering round the jungle, he met a villager and asked him to construct an underground room. We began doing it immediately and he has started to meditate there," Shah told AFP.
Gautama Siddhartha, who later became known as Buddha or the Enlightened One, is believed to have been born in southern Nepal around 500 BC.
Buddhists believe Siddhartha achieved enlightenment after meditating under a pipal tree.
The media here has reported that Bomjan had told a friend that he is not a reincarnation of Buddha, but merely an "austere sage."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Buddha Boy vanishes again

A Nepalese teenager hailed as a reincarnation of the Buddha has vanished for a second time in southern Nepal, a member of his support committee said Saturday.
Ram Bahadur Bomjam, 17, who shot to fame in 2005 when his supporters said he had begun a meditation session that would go on uninterrupted for years, went missing on Thursday night (March 8), the committee member said.
"He suddenly disappeared from his meditating site in the jungle of Bara," said Raju Shah, a member of the committee set up after the boy became a local media sensation.
"He told his priest Indra Lama that he would meditate somewhere in other undisclosed locations."
Local media dubbed Bomjan "Buddha Boy" after supporters said he had been meditating for months without food, water or sleep, and tens of thousands of people flocked to see him.
He first disappeared in March 2006, telling his supporters the site had become too crowded.
Nine months later he reappeared and was set up at a new site by the committee, but this time visitors have been sparse.
Scepticism about the teenager's claims increased after his reappearance late last year, and local authorities froze bank accounts containing money collected from visitors.
Gautama Siddhartha, who later became known as Buddha or the Enlightened One, is believed to have been born in southern Nepal in around 500 BC.
Buddhists believe Siddhartha achieved enlightenment after meditating under a pipal tree.
Other information found:
Kathmandu, Nepal (AHN) - Locals in the district said he left his meditating place Thursday midnight. Bomjan, who claimed to have been meditating without food and water since mid May 2005, is a resident of Ratanpuri-9, Bara. He had gone missing in February 2006 and was again spotted in December.
Officials of Namo Buddha Service Committee searched for him throughout the day on Friday. Inspector Rameshwor Yadav of the Area Police Office in Nijgadh said the police have not been able to reach the spot though they were reported about his missing.
"He quietly left the site around midnight on Thursday. Earlier that night he had told his attendants that he would move to a new location for meditation," policeman Rameshwar Yadav said on Sunday.
"We are searching for the boy in the forests but have found no trace of him so far."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


If you haven't noticed, Cincinnati's Heartless Bastards have been on the Myspace home page all week. Nice.

Buck Fush

From an AP news article on the House approving subpeonas against presidential aides, "Bush said he worried that allowing testimony under oath would set a precedent on the separation of powers that would harm the presidency as an institution."

That just pisses me off. If anything has ruined the presidency as an "institution" it's been douchebags like Bush and Nixon. When you outright lie to the American people about every goddam move you make, sooner or later people begin to mistrust you and everything you stand for. Subpeona every fucking aide they can find and document every word of it, for a change.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What do you recommend?

Detroit experimental artist Mammal gives us some of his favorite bands:
There are a handful of really great bands in the Midwest:
Cadaver In Drag (Kentucky)
Warmer Milks (Kentucky)
Viki (Detroit)
UVU (no web presence)
Some bands I appreciate:
Meat Puppets - Every time I hear 'II' or 'Up on the Sun', they still sound pretty damn fresh and exciting. Been listening to them a lot lately...
Growing - 2 strangers in a strange land who've (perhaps unknowingly) given me the push to keep going a few times. They've also written one of my favorite albums of all time.
Viki - Under-appreciated genius and a real inspiration. She's fixed my guitar and synthesizer in the past allowing me to keep it alive. The best and most talented of the current electronic crop. Someday she'll get her due.

There's a lot more, but ultimately I really appreciate bands that write songs, and record albums that will stand the test of time.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Cleveland bands - Part II

Sam from Mr. Gnome is a gem of a person. He clarified a bit on some other local Cleveland bands for you fine people:

"Technically, you're right about If These Trees Could talk and The Doctor Teeeth not being based out of Cleveland, but both bands are comprised of local Clevelanders and both bands are very much a part of the greater Cleveland music scene and are an accurate representation of the sound of the scene at the moment. Infinite Number of Sounds is still very much a band although they are going through a line-up change (editor's note: Glad to hear that, they are good).
As for other bands, here are some of the more popular names although we have no working relationship with any of them: This Moment in Black History (one of three bands from Cleveland to go to SXSW this year), Roue, The Boatzz, Bears, Machine Go Boom, Unkle Scratch's Gospel Revival, Plasma for Guns, The New Lou Reeds and The Black Diamonds (we just played a show with these guys on Friday).

Thanks to Mr. Gnome for keeping Cleveland alive to the outside world!!

Technical difficulties

Hello readers, so far I have tried to conduct People wtih Animal Heads strictly as an "underground" online publication. I do this through general word of mouth, but also through Myspace at our site HERE. Unfortunately, for the past two weeks I haven't been able to post bulletins about new articles on this site because Myspace is a hog fucker. I'm sick of it.
So if any readers would like to be informed of updates to this site outside of Myspace, just send me a message via my contact email listed in the side rail of this page: This way I don't have to rely on the dillrods at Myspace for everything and we can stay in touch.

People with Animal Heads

Friday, March 16, 2007

Mr. Gnome shows us into the dark underbelly of Cleveland's music scene. Areas no one has seen before!!

Since I started this site and the subsequent "project," I have had a hard time with Cleveland. Detroit is a close second, but Cleveland far surpasses. Finding a band that actually is from there has been a chore I didn't want to deal with. I tried to contact the rare two that I heard of, but not only did I find out they were either from Akron and/or Kent, I never heard back a word from either one.
So I was flabbergasted to find out that Mr. Gnome is from Cleveland. I had always assumed they were from Toledo or Detroit. They recently agreed to help us out on People with Animal Heads (PWAH), by answering a few questions into the dark unknown void known as Cleveland. Don't be scared, readers. We must understand our darkest fears or elst they will overtake us.
But as glad as I am that Mr. Gnome obliged me, I must admit I still know nothing about Cleveland's music scene. I'm also sure that Cleveland bands will continue to never email you back and venues will always ignore you. Good luck show swapping. It won't happen. Your glass is half empty.
PWAH: First off, could you name some of your favorite Cleveland bands, and explain the overall "sound" currently coming out of the town. For example, Columbus is pretty fixated on that Pere Ubu/noise pop sound right now and there are numous bands who make up that scene.
Mr. Gnome: There are so many talented bands and artists in this area, some that we've had the pleasure of performing with include: If These Trees Could Talk - an instrumental band along the lines of Mogwai, Tool, Explosions in the Sky - Editor's note: They are actually from Akron.
There is also Infinite Number of Sounds - Editor's note: Although they broke up in early December- (another instrumental band known for their amazing audio/visual syncopated live shows).
And Xe La (a staple in the Cleveland local scene, former front man of Cows in the Graveyard, one of the most talented singer-songwriters I've ever come across, or had the pleasure of sharing a stage with) - Editor's note: Can't find any MP3s yet on them yet, but we're getting somewhere - and The Doctor Teeth (a good ol' 3 piece rock band known for their bad ass riffs and three-part harmonies) - Editor's note: They are actually from Kent. - As for a "sound" coming out of Cleveland, it's just too difficult to say. There isn't actually a dominate scene taking place here right now, no one sound seems more popular than any other, nor does one genre seem any more popular. There are a lot of mixed bills taking place, with a lot of original music not heavily influenced by anyone in particular.
PWAH: Cleveland has this very real reputation of being like China. The walls are up, big time. It is incredibly difficult for bands to get shows there. Most bands I know have given up long ago trying to get gigs there. Why do you think this is? Is it justified? That is one of the biggest unknowns about my project right now. I have been kind of using Cleveland as my whipping boy throughout the entire project, so I apologize for that.
Mr. Gnome: I'm sure there are a lot of hypothesis on this question and I can only offer another one. I do agree it can be hard for traveling bands without label representation to get into the clubs around here. I've actually heard it first hand from a number of regionally-touring bands, but I'm usually at a loss as to why. It doesn't make sense for a centrally-located city, home of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, to not have a strong foothold in the underground regional scene, or to be a seemingly unwilling participant. I can't find any real justification for it, other than financially-based excuses. So that brings me to my hypothesis, which in itself is lame and overused. Its all a matter of money. The venues are more likely to invest in something commercially successful, than something with artistic integrity. They're more comfortable with short term success, than with the long-term potential growth and development of a strong music community. It's not a risk to work with bands on labels. They've already proven themselves, but it is a risk to work with someone unrepresented, who may or may not have the potential of future representation and commercial success. It's just too much of a crapshoot. But I do have to add, it's not just regional bands finding themselves shunned by Cleveland venues. This holds true for local musicians as well. It can be difficult to set up shows in advance with some venues. A lot of locals are just treated as safety nets when all else fails for the club. Second class citizens. Not all Cleveland venues are this way of course. There are a few local clubs that support the scene, but there are just as many that don't. It is the music "business," not the music co-op utopia. But on that note, if a talented band really does their research, locally or on a regional level, they'll undoubtedly find a venue, underground show, or promoter willing to work with them. Good music is good music, and that's not hard to sell, even in Cleveland.
PWAH: How would you suggest a band from Indiana or any other city in Ohio go about getting a gig in Cleveland?
Mr.Gnome: I guess I would suggest the normal routes of booking first. Find a club conducive to your style of music. Send an email, phone call...follow-up emails and phone calls. Polite persistence with whatever venue your interested in playing. If that fails, do a little research on the scene. There are a lot of underground parties and concerts at non-traditional venues taking place. Try to hook up with the artists and promoters putting on these events, because the people attending them are going to be much more receptive to new music and you'll most likely be treated with a certain amount of respect you might not find at a traditional venue. If all else fails and your in the position to, gig swap. Although a lot of bands don't seem to realize this works both ways. So if you can't hold up your end of the deal, don't set up a swap, you'll just end up burning your bridge back into that market. And your last chance of getting a gig in Cleveland...move to Cleveland, but really, who wants to move to Cleveland?

Howlin' Maggie's Blast from the Past

"RJ" who runs Happy Chichester's Myspace page had this bulletin:
"I just discovered that Sony has uploaded the videos for "Alcohol" and "I'm A Slut" on YouTube. Both were shot in 1996 and feature Happy with his former band Howlin' Maggie. You can go to and do a search for Howlin' Maggie, or save yourself the trouble, go to Happy's MySpace and click on the link in the Biography section. I've also included a link to the Twilight Singers video for 'King Only.' Click on 'Twilight Singers' in the biography and enjoy a live version, with Happy on keys and vocals."

Here is the quick link to save you the time: Howlin' Maggie videos
Check out a young guitarist Andy Harrison with long hair and your future NIN drummer. It funny to see Chichester totally camping it up too. I remember seeing that "Alcohol" video on MTV.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Gil in the Garden

I had to ask Gil Mantera about the Madison Square Garden gig, mentioned in that Pitchfork article. He did not disappoint:

Well, we played the Madison Square Garden Theater... that's pretty much it as far as the performance is concerned. The guy who directed our Elmo's Wish video is dating the main girl in the Scissor Sisters, who were gracious enough to invite us to open up for their sold-out show. It was all very last minute. We found out on a Wednesday and played the following Saturday. We both do this for a living, but you know, i had to drop my plans of doing jack-shit that day, which was a total bummer.

It was a lot of stress and I'm glad it's over, but I can tell my kids a cool sounding story even though it was mostly a humbling experience and a huge pain in the ass. I think the Garden staff got a big kick out of the elaborate tour bus we travel in, Ultimate Donny's 2001 Honda Civic. There were no groupies or mounds of coke for us backstage stage, but i did have a nice meal. And for the first time in a while we got everything on our rider, which made me think we gotta get more shit on our rider... I think I could perform better after chowing down on some fine imported caviar! And that's showbiz, baby!

Donny also weighed in:
He messed up one thing, though. My Civic is a 2000, not 2001.

Editor's note: I think what I appreciate so much about that photo above is its David Bowie "Labrynth" moose knuckle qualities.

The Muncie Sound?

When I started this project of exploring the Midwest's current indie scene, I thought it would be great to get to know unheard of bands in Chicago and Detroit. Pretty much by chance, I fell into the lap of Indiana. I thought it would be a quick state to sum up and I could move on to Chicago. But I immediately became one of Indiana's biggest fans. The music is incredible. I still haven't even started on Chicago.
Every association I have with the state of Indiana is driving through it on the way out west.
When you're at the beginning of a long trip, the whole state sometimes feels like a line at the amusement park: Just waiting to get to the end.
The whole reason for this is because most people live in a bubble. Mine is Ohio. I didn't choose it, but I'm here nonetheless for better or worse.
The back story is that I asked Margot and the Nuclear So and So's to do an interview about their views of Indiana's music scene. Before agreeing to the interview, they instead provided a list of links and suggested I first get to know the scene and then come back. I instantly realized that doing this project half-assed was not what I wanted to do. So I took them up on that challenge. I dove into Indiana with a wet suit.
Surprisingly enough, what I soon discovered is that the state is not just about Indianapolis. In fact, that city is probably the weakest link. Instead, I was immediatey drawn to Muncie. I know nothing about Muncie. Rarely do I even hear people mutter that word on accident.
Nestled about 50 miles north-east of Indianapolis sits Muncie, Indiana. Semi-conservative and the land of Ball State University, it has been described as a turn of the century gas boom town. I also heard country music is big there, and when The Strokes came to town the venue lost money because not enough people showed up.
Muncie has a small batch of excellent bands, almost entirely under the Standard Recording record label. These bands create a home for incredibly quirky, interesting and well-crafted music. I think I would categorize the band Arrah and the Ferns as a great water mark to judge other Muncie bands by. Plenty of humor and sincerity and the overall feeling is pure joy. My guess is that people in Muncie love to have fun. I also appreciate that bands are extremely focused on creating inventive indie pop rock and music that is completely original and hopefull.
Check out Everything, Now!, Arrah and the Ferns and Everthus the Deadbeats to see what I mean.
Everything, Now! I would consider one of the top five bands in the entire Midwest. That's saying a lot.
I also found this interesting site where this guy notes city's with "giant" statues of random stuff. Muncie has a few of those too. Check it out HERE.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Pitchfork joins into the Midwestern fray

Love them or loathe them, Pitchfork writers (specifically, Cincinnati's Dave Maher) did a huge fucking interview with Akron-based Black Keys' Patrick Carney. A lot of interesting topics came up. Specifically, they go into discussion about different music scenes going on in Ohio cities. So of course, I have to tell you about that. The more discussion on Ohio music the better.
Check out the interview HERE
They also do some discussion on Akron-based band HOUSEGUEST and Kent's BEATEN AWAKE, both on Carney's AUDIO EAGLE. They even include an MP3 of each band.

But I think the most interesting thing about the interview is that I learned Youngstown's GIL MANTERA'S PARTY DREAM recently played Madison Square Garden. Couldn't have happened to nicer people.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Rust-Colored Belts

I totally forgot I was going to post this great response on Midwestern music, from Justin Longacre, of the Toledo band THE HOMEVILLE CIRCLE:
"I read your blogspot about the Toledo sound and found it very interesting. My goal for The Homeville Circle is to create a particular sound of the Midwest in the wake of post-industrialism. Perhaps similar to the way Southern Gothic writers like Faulkner and O'Connor sought to capture the South in the wake of Reconstruction. I try to write songs about the 'rusted out' nature of the city and surrounding areas. In fact the new record is going to be called 'Moths, Rust and Weeds.' The idea of these forces as agents destructive judgement is interesting to me lately. See 'rustbelt' on our page (this version was recorded for a radio show over the phone).
"I call this style, based on the broken nature of the landscape, Midwestern Shambling. The exciting thing is, there are bands cropping up all over that arrived at a similar idea and sound independantly. Check out FRONTIER RUCKUSfrom Michigan, or CHURCH OF THE RED MUSEUM in Columbus. That's the Midwest singing."

The NOISE on your face

I often speak about my love of abstract pop music. But what I have been missing out on is something that has become uniquely Midwestern. It's the concept of pure, unadulterated Noise. No rhyme or reason. Random knobs as as far as the eye can see. Saxophones and Speak and Spells. Squeals and open wounds.
Back story: In my quest to speak with Columbus group Times New Viking (Siltbreeze/Matador) about the concept of Noise Rock in the Midwest, I accidentally stumbled upon an entire subculture. This is what this project was all about in the first place. Unearthing what is unique to us as Midwesterns.
So whether I understand or even appreciate the art behind Noise Rock, we are going to jump in with both feet until I do.
As Columbus musician Time and Temperature explained to me, "the noise scene, as a whole, is better in the Midwest than anywhere else in the country."
Stay tuned for interviews, MP3s and more.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Fight the power!

It's still International Women's Day, for a couple more hours. What are you doing to empower women in your community?
Might I suggest listening to such Midwestern luminaries as:

Time and Temperature
Sarah Asher
Arrah and the Ferns
Magic City
Heartless Bastards

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Life in Cleveland!

Oh my god. I finally found a real honest to goodness Cleveland band: Mr. Gnome. They actually live there. More on this later.

Buddha Boy update

The boy is still under investigation, so no update on that. But I found this LINK where the authorities mean business. Which to my American ears, means he's screwed. All he has to do is lick some sweat off his lip, or have a bug fly in his mouth and they will call foul.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Radio, Radio

Folks over at the Donewaiting's message board are busy discussing the merits of Athens/Columbus band EARWIG's recent heavy radio airplay. Is it because it's a novelty song about Columbus' USED KIDS RECORDS store? Do they deserve the radio airplay on something like CD101?
I guess my take on it is that these arguments are stupid. It's Earwig, they have been performing for decades. Singer Lizard McGee managed to create a song that has lyrics people can relate to and it's catchy. After all these years, Earwig has managed to retain its Midwestern Sound ties. They don't jump ship to sound like Radiohead. McGee doesn't form other bands and act like Arcade Fire or TV on the Radio. He even shaved his beard and everyone knows beards are all the rage right now!
It's Earwig - a band you can count on to do the right thing. I've never even seen them perform live and I know that. I don't even live in Columbus and I know that. It's also a self-released CD, give them some props for god sake.
What I think bands are overlooking is that "Used Kids" is a topical song. Right now there is a serious worry that great record stores like these are going to die out. The reason is because of the Internet, home computers and Ipods.
In a similar way, radio stations like CD 101 are in the same boat. People may joke that no one listens to Satellite radio. But they do and those space stations are in direct competition with college and independent radio. You put this all together and you realize that a song like "Used Kids" is creating a discussion around Ron House and what he represents. The song came along at the perfect time. For people who love independent radio and record stores, this is a great thing to bring awareness to.
I think what many bands also seem to overlook is something as simple as quality. To even begin to be considered for radio you have to have a nice recording. But the trend nowadays is using crappy mics to record your buddies banging sticks in a room - which is cool in its own way, but it won't get you on the radio. Most don't care about that. It's an aesthetic choice. Some do and they lay the foundation in their recordings.
If you want to help them out even more:
Email CD101 :
Call the DJ to request: (614) 221-1011
Oh yeah:
Earwig is also #5 on the charts at many universities that report to the CMJ.
WXCU Playlists for CMJ
New Music Review - Issue #1000 - Radio 200
1 PETE YORN... Nightcrawler... Columbia
2 ARCADE FIRE... Neon Bible... Merge
3 MODEST MOUSE... "Dashboard" [Single]... Epic
4 KOOKS... Inside In/Inside Out... Astralwerks
5 EARWIG... Center Of The Earth... Lizard Family
6 COLD WAR KIDS... Robbers And Cowards... Downtown
7 KAISER CHIEFS... "Ruby" [Single]... B-Unique
8 RAZORLIGHT... Razorlight ... Universal
9 MIKA... "Grace Kelly" [Single]... Universal
10 WARM IN THE WAKE... Gold Dust Trail... Livewire
11 HOLD STEADY... Boys And Girls In America... Vagrant
12 DUSTIN KENSRUE... Please Come Home... Equal Vision
13 JESSE MALIN... Glitter In The Gutter... Adeline
14 TED LEO AND THE PHARMACISTS... Living With The Living... Touch And Go
15 MANCINO... Manners Matter Self-Released
16 BLOC PARTY... A Weekend In The City Vice
17 SHINS... Wincing The Night Away Sub Pop
18 GET SET GO... Selling Out And Going Home TSR
19 SILVERSUN PICKUPS... Carnavas Dangerbird
20 EARLY YEARS... The Early Years Beggars Banquet
21 BREAKERS... Here For A Laugh... Funzalo
22 MOTHER MOTHER... Touch Up... Last Gang
23 DECEMBERISTS.... The Crane Wife... Capitol
24 BABYSHAMBLES... The Blinding [EP]... Capitol
25 BECK... The Information... Interscope
26 LUCERO... Rebels, Rogues, And Sworn Brothers... Liberty And Lament
27 HEADLIGHTS... Kill Them With Kindness... Polyvinyl
28 BE YOUR OWN PET... Be Your Own Pet... Ecstatic Peace
29 PALOMAR... All Things, Forests... Misra
30 I'M FROM BARCELONA... Let Me Introduce My Friends

Monday, March 5, 2007

The Detroit Sound?

I can remember my family was driving north through Michigan on our way to the Upper Penninsula. It was in the middle of winter at night. I woke up from sleeping in the back seat as my dad pulled into a gas station. I wasn't sure where we were. There were bars on all the building windows outside.
Across the street, four guys were throwing bottles at a wall, very much on purpose. My younger sister announced she had to go to the bathroom and opened the door. My dad yelled at her to stay inside the car.
He got out, looked around a bit, filled up the car with gas and quickly got back in. We drove away with a slight squeal of the tires. It was the first time I had ever seen my dad scared of anything. We had stopped for gas in probably the worst area possible, in the middle of the night.
Welcome to Detroit.
Since then, my memories of The Motor City have either consisted of getting lost on the way to the airport, getting lost on the way to a concert, getting lost on the way to a friend's house, getting lost on the way to a gig, or just plain getting lost trying to find some gas. Detroit is like the Burmuda Triangle of the Midwest.
One time I got so lost the road wasn't even paved anymore. It was the land time forgot. I was in a section of town where the city gave up on a paving project. It was half gravel, half grounded asphalt. A bum walked down the middle of the road. I asked him directions. Thanks to a one dollar bill I found my way back onto I-75.
That's how I feel about Detroit. It seems scary as hell, but once you get over that, it's actually a pretty interesting city.
Historically and culturally it also has one of the most well-defined "sounds" in the entire nation. It's the home of garage rock with a purpose. Books have been written about it. Legends have been created.
From 1965 to 1972, the Detroit Sound was developed. Before that Michigan's Thumb Muscle was creating figures like John Lee Hooker.
Down south, the blues were played gentle and lolling. As it went north, it turned nasty. By the time it hit Detroit, the blues had become a fight, a reason for being.
But what I found after talking with several Detroit bands is that they don't see it that way. The High Strung see that tough exterior as just an extension of that original fascination with the blues. But even The High Strung live their music. They are out there touring and doing it.
But I prefer to listen to the editors of Creem Magazine, who said that what defined the Detroit Sound were musicians who believed in the power of rock. Lester Bangs wrote about it like he was documenting a war. Music changed who they were. It made John Sinclair a freedom fighter. MC5 became cultural revolutionaries. It made some dork into Alice Effing Cooper. It turned ted nugent into TED NUGENT. These are personalities. Iggy Pop? These are people who weren't writing music, they were living music.
Then, of course, it stopped. Since the 1950's Detroit's population has apparently been cut in half. The auto industry folded. Race riots in the late 60s sent the white suburban families running for the hills. They probably went to Ohio.
The music still kept coming, but the sound changed to the sound of rust, like Bob Seger. He may write truck jungles now, but he was the real deal back then.
Today, the Detroit music scene is still producing bare bones rock n' roll in its purest form. But more importantly, it has retained its hold over musicians lives. The White Stripes are just as much an image of rock n' roll as they are musicians. Even when swing came back (which I love to make fun of) it was the Detroit bands that wore the whole zoot suit get ups. Even the industrial metal death rock scene is filled with bands who dress up and play these parts. Isn't Insane Clown Posse from Detroit? I forget, but just another example.
So if this city can teach the Midwest anything, it is that you are nothing if you don't have a cause. Everyone needs something to live for and you have to create if for yourself. That is innately Midwestern. We know that no one is going to do anything for you around here. If you want that, go to LA or Nashville. Go buy a rock n' roll costume and step into it.
You won't find some Albert Grossman figure asking his folk duos to stay out of the sun because it makes them look bookish in Detroit. But you will find Ted Nugent spearing a deer to death with a knife the shape of a double necked guitar.
As long as this is happening, there will always be a Santa Claus in Detroit.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

A few Chichester tunes up

If you wanted a hint of Happy Chichester's new CD "Lovers Come Back," head over to his myspace page HERE