Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Kak; Mad River

The Secret Museum
Jim Webb

The Unknown San Francisco Sound: Kak, Mad River


There is a reason most groups who become cult favorites never make it in the mainstream: a weak link is somewhere in the chain. Either they are good musicians but don’t have the songs, or have the songs but maybe a terrible singer who just happens to own all the amps and a van to drive everybody around to the gigs. Kak’s sole album was released in 1968 on Epic. All the trademark sounds of the day are in place: buzzing guitars and cosmic lyrics, and some nice vocal arrangements with a Donovanesque feel on a couple of numbers. HCO 97658 opens things with a classic sounding 1968 guitar lead, and is followed by Everything’s Changing, another up tempo blast that let’s you know this will be a guitar dominated LP. I hear a faint resemblance to The Buffalo Springfield on Disbelievin’; Lemonade Kid sounds like Jerry Garcia circa Dark Star. Overall, this is a solid period release which comes closest to sounding like Moby Grape through its guitar/multi-vocal approach, and one indication why they didn’t make it. Kak disbanded before getting off the ground, having only played a handful of live shows before packing it in. In those days, your NEXT band was the one that would conquer the world. Singer/guitarist Gary Lee Yoder’s next stop was a post-heavy Blue Cheer. On the current Cheer web site Kak is dismissed as a poor man’s Moby Grape, but that’s a little unfair. Sure, they sound a bit like The Grape, but I don’t care if a band sounds like someone else, as long as the material is good, and Kak in my opinion were a good band. The next time I see Dickie Peterson (B.Cheer leader) I will ask him what the bad blood is all about. Maybe Yoder gave him a bad count on some shared weed they purchased; whatever happened must have been a heavy scene for it to linger on for the last forty years.

Mad River

Mad River falls into the ‘good musicians, below average vocals’ category. Merciful Monks kicks off the LP with slashing guitar work and a great David Robinson guitar solo, and features some frenzied drumming. High All The Time is classic psychedelia (how could it not be with that title) that starts with the piercing guitars before Lawrence Hammonds semi-grating vocals kick in. Wind Chimes is the standout track on the album, as an atmospheric opening leads into some soaring guitar parts with tasteful flute included as well. The War Goes On comes from a creepy, dark place and is a great late night groover (play after 11pm and keep the lights dim.) This LP is another guitar feast that will satisfy any cravings for late sixties acid rock. If you are tired of your old Dead and Quicksilver CDs I suggest you give a listen to Mad River’s first self-titled LP. Their second release, Paradise Bar and Grill, heads off into stoner cowboy rock, and sounds like an early version of The New Riders of The Purple Sage. Pretty boring. I will tell you up front I had no mind-altering substances on hand when I listened to this second release, and will gladly send it to anyone who does; you can update us from the appropriate higher perspective. What hurt Mad River was having an acid rock guitar-dominated first LP, and then a completely different, more acoustic sounding follow up.

Neither Kak nor Mad River are essential listening, but are good examples of a Bay Area music scene that was expanding beyond the big names headlining at the Fillmore and Winterland. If you want to hear what it sounded like on the corner of Haight/Ashbury in 1968 these are good choices.

Recommended listening:
Kak (Epic LP 1969)
Mad River (Capitol LP 1968)

I have created a brief timesaving checklist that will help you decide if you are a real 60’s kind of person.

Buy these CDs if:
1.) You still like The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane
2.) You occasionally ride a motorcycle
3.) You have chanted the Hare Krishna maha mantra
4.) You read Horse Fly religiously because you want to stay informed
5.) You live in an Earthship
6.) You were naked during at least one outdoor rock festival in the 60’s
7.) You bought a keg of beer in the last year
8.) You feel that The Secret Museum has given added purpose and renewed vitality to
your life.

Ignore these CDs if:

1.) You like Celine Dion and Mariah Carey
2.) You drive a Hummer, Yukon, Expedition or any other personal tank
3.) Bernie Madoff was your guru
4.) You are too busy being a consumer to make time to read
5.) You dream about moving to a packed subdivision
6.) The last time you were naked with anyone was when Mommy bathed you at age three in the kitchen sink
7.) You have spent more time on a treadmill in the last 10 years than in a bar
8.) You spend most of your time watching the 58” plasma TV set, and are crabby that
not all the channels are in high-def.

-Jim Webb

Kak - Disbelievin'

Randy Holden- Keeper Of My Flame

Mad River - Amphetamine Gazelle

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Little Feat; Essential listening

The Secret Museum
Jim Webb & Michael Mooney

Lowell George and his Little Feat

Live at Ebbet’s Field, Denver, July 19, 1973

Lowell George was born in 1945. At age six he already appeared on the Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour, playing harmonica. By the mid sixties guitar was his main instrument, which he loved to play in the bottleneck, or slide, style made popular by the Chicago bluesmen. Lowell eventually joined up with Frank Zappa’s Mothers. After a year of touring and recording as a sideman with Frank, he departed, with bassist Roy Estrada in tow, to form his own band. Estrada used to comment on Lowell’s little feet.

Little Feat’s debut album was released in 1971. The excellent Sailin’ Shoes and Dixie Chicken shortly followed. Critics loved the group, but their record sales never did match their acclaim. Estrada left early on, while the band continued to gain a reputation as top players who could handle anything Lowell threw at them, from rock and blues to country and New Orleans-style fatback funk.

Ebbet’s Field was a Denver night cub located in The Brooks Tower near Fifteenth and Curtis. Willie Nelson, Bob Seger, Tom Waits and Lynyrd Skynyrd all played there in the early seventies. This show on July 19, 1973 was one of many from the club that were simulcast on the local FM radio station. It comes from the beginning of Little Feat’s rise to prominence as concert favorites. A solid set all the way through, the highlights truly begin during the last forty-five minutes, when the real gems from Lowell George’s songwriting bag are pulled out. These are some of the finest songs written in the 1970’s.

As the 70’s progressed, what made the band so highly rated as musicians and songwriters began to work against them. By 1977 the ‘I Hate Pink Floyd’ punk crowd was growing and the ability to properly sing or play more than three chords became a liability. You were either for Punk Rock or against it, there was no in between. The divide went sometimes unmentioned, but changes in the music industry were happening fast. What started as Punk soon swelled into the safer marketing campaign of New Wave, and when the major labels realized they could actually make money from it, that Tsunami eventually washed a lot of the old guard away. No musician will ever claim that Punk Rock killed their band. That’s too degrading and painful an admission for an accomplished player to even consider. The standard line is always that drugs, women, whiskey, excessive touring or bad management wrecked most bands. Little Feat might deny that the changing musical tide was the reason, but by 1979 a lot of established bands were suddenly directed to park in the Boring Old Fart’s section for the first time. The music industry has always been fixated on what they can sell you today. If they can make a few bucks from the back catalogue, great, but what you’ve done in the past never matters to the corporate bean counters. We need to find a better way to acknowledge musicians’ dedication and perseverance than the current Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, or senseless award shows like The Grammy’s. Too many musicians who didn’t sell millions of records have been ignored. Sales figures have absolutely nothing to do with an artist’s influence and importance to our American musical heritage.

Lowell George died at the age of thirty-four. Hard living, aka too much drugs and booze, was the unofficial cause; heart attack was printed on the death certificate. The band broke up, and for close to ten years after George’s death didn’t play together. When the all clear finally sounded and the New Wavers had been safely swept back out to sea, Little Feat reconvened. LF without their leader, though, is like The Band without Robbie Robertson. You can call it by the same name, but something’s different, an essential ingredient to the recipe is missing. Seeing Little Feat reformed was like attending a birthday party and knowing that the guest of honor won’t be there to celebrate with you. I don’t blame keyboardist Billy Payne, or anyone else in the band, for wanting to continue, but for me it’s just not the same. From 1965 to 1979 Lowell George paved as much musical road as anyone in this country. He didn’t win any useless awards from Dick Clark during that time, but instead the respect of his peers for his song writing and guitar playing skills.

This performance and thousands of other concerts can be downloaded legally and free of charge at www.archive.org.

Also recommended:
Little Feat (1971)
Feats Don't Fail Me Now (1974)

-Jim Webb

Odds and Sods

Some essential CDs
/ Mooney’s list:

Meet The Beatles, The Beatles’ Second Album, Help (UK), Revolver (UK), Abbey Road
Rolling Stones-Big Hits (High Tides And Green Grass), Between The Buttons (US), Through The Past, Darkly (US), The Kinks- Kontroversy, Face To Face, Something Else, Village Green Preservation Society, Muswell Hillbillies, The Kink Kronikles, The Who- Sings My Generation, Sell Out, Live At Leeds (original), Who’s Next, Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy, History Of The Dave Clark 5, The Ultimate Yardbirds, Small Faces (Deram), From The Beginning, Small Faces (Immediate),, Great Move- The Best Of The Move, Movements (box), The Troggs- Archeology, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons- Anthology, Shangri-Las- Myrmidons Of Melodrama, Here Are The Sonics, Boom, Count V- Psychotic Revelation, The Seeds, Blues Magoos- Psychedelic Lollipop, Electric Comic Book, Basic, Beach Boys-Pet Sounds, Endless Summer, The Velvet Underground and Nico, Pink Floyd-Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, Meddle, 13th Floor Elevators-Psychedelic Sounds, Easter Everywhere, Blossom Toes- We Are Ever So Clean, Love- Forever Changes, The Association- Greatest Hits, The 5th Dimension- Everything on Collector’s Choice, New Colony Six- Best Of, Zombie Heaven, Odessey & Oracle, Mighty Baby, Bobbie Gentry- Anything without Glen Campbell, Tony Joe White- Swamp Music (box), Jefferson Airplane- Surrealistic Pillow, Volunteers, Captain Beefheart- Trout Mask Replica, Lick My Decals Off, Baby, Os Mutantes- Tecnicolor, Os Mutantes, Caetano Veloso- A Little More Blue, Emitt Rhodes, The Best Of Free Design (Cherry Red, though other comps are good, as are the original LPs), Serge Gainsbourg- Comic Strip, Jacques Dutronc- Completement Dutronc, Blue Cheer- Vincebus Eruptum, MC5- Kick Out The Jams, Stooges- Funhouse, Grand Funk Railroad- Live Album, Groundhogs- Split, Blue Oyster Cult- Tyranny & Mutation, Neil Young- Live Rust, Nick Drake- All 3 (or Fruit Tree), Kevin Ayers- Watevershebringswesing, Mellow Candle- Swaddling Songs, The Virgin Prophet, King Crimson- In The Court Of The Crimson King, Jethro Tull- Aqualung, Todd Rundgren- Something/ Anything?, Caravan- In The Land Of Pink And Grey, John Cale- Paris 1919, David Bowie- Hunky Dory, Roxy Music- For Your Pleasure, Focus- Moving Waves, Robert Wyatt- Rock Bottom, Neu!, Amon Duul II- Phallus Dei, Cluster- 71, Faust, Can- Ege Bamyasi, Kraftwerk- The Man Machine, Burning Spear- Marcus Garvey/ Garvey’s Ghost, Culture- Two Sevens Clash, Dread Meets The Punk Rockers Uptown (comp), The Modern Lovers, Ramones, Television- Marquee Moon, Adventure, Pere Ubu- The Modern Dance, Dub Housing, Damned Damned Damned, The Clash (UK), Wire- first 3, Ian Dury- New Boots And Panties, X-Ray Spex- Germ Free Adolescents, Magazine- Real Life, Buzzcocks- Singles Going Steady, Ultravox- Systems Of Romance, The Jam- Setting Sons, Joy Division- Unknown Pleasures, The Undertones, Gang Of Four- Entertainment, Doll By Doll- Remember, Gypsy Blood, Slits- Cut, Peel/BBC Session, Mekons- The Quality Of Mercy…, The Fall- (practically everything),
Television Personalities- And Don’t The Kids Just Love It, The Painted Word, Abba- Gold,
X- Los Angeles, Black Flag- The First Four Years, Damaged, Descendents- Milo Goes To College, The Adolescents, Meat Puppets- II, Minutemen- Double Nickels…,
Kleenex/ LiLLiput, Microdisney- Everybody Is Fantastic, The Clock comes Down The Stairs,
Planxty- Words & Music, Altan, Pale Saints- In Ribbons, The Negro Problem- Post Minstrel Syndrome, Ivy- Apartment Life, Damien Dempsey- Seize The Day, Francois Breut- Vingt a Trente Mille Jours, Juana Molina- Son

Plus any good collection of:

Hank Williams, Wynonie Harris, Louis Prima, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee, Elvis, Bo Diddley,
Chuck Berry, Doo Wop (like the Doo Wop Box), and Surf music (i.e. Cowabunga). Also, Hitsville U.S.A.- Motown singles collection (or any good collection), Nuggets, A decent Petula Clark comp. (several available), The Philly Sound (or other reasonable Philly Soul compilation),

Webb’s list

Them (1965), 13th Floor Elevators- Psychedelic Sounds, Easter Everywhere, Moby Grape- Moby Grape, Velvet Underground & Nico, Love- Forever Changes, Blue Cheer- Vincebus Eruptum, MC5- Kick Out the Jams, Pretty Things- S.F. Sorrow, Nick Drake- Five Leaves Left, Capt. Beefheart- Trout Mask Replica, Nuggets- Garage Rock Compilation, Pebbles- Garage Rock Compilation Series, Amon Duul II- Yeti, Can - Tago Mago, Neu, Popul Vuh- Hosianna Manta, Faust -Faust Tapes, Cosmic Jokers, (any title from the above German bands released between 70-74 is good.), Iggy/ Stooges- Raw Power, N.Y. Dolls, Patti Smith- Horses, Ramones, Modern Lovers, The Clash, The Damned- Damned Damned Damned, Stranglers- Rattus Norvegicus, Television- Marquee Moon, Wire- Pink Flag, Sex Pistols- Never Mind the Bollocks, Great Rock n' Roll Swindle, Pere Ubu – Modern Dance, Devo- Are We Not Men, X- Ray Spex- Germ Free Adolescents, The Jam- Setting Sons, Gang of Four- Entertainment, Undertones, This Heat, Buzzcocks- A Different Kind of Tension, The Fall- Dragnet, Stiff Little Fingers- Inflammable Material, Specials, Only Ones- Even Serpents Shine, Joy Division- Unknown Pleasures, Mekons- Quality of Mercy, X - Los Angeles, Plimsouls, Black Flag- Damaged, Husker Du - Zen Arcade, Minutemen- Double Nickels on the Dime, Barry Blue- Dancin' (On a Saturday Night), Be-Bop Deluxe - Modern Music, David Bowie- Outside, Bevis Frond- North Circular, Clifton Chenier- King of the Bayous, Elvis Costello- My Aim is True, Deep Purple- Burn, Doll by Doll- Remember, ELP- Brain Salad Surgery, Jimi Hendrix Experience- Radio One, Isley Bros- 3 + 3, Kinks- Great Lost Kinks Album, Led Zeppelin- Physical Graffiti, John Lennon- Lost Lennon Tapes, Jerry Lee Lewis- London Sessions, John Mayall/ Eric Clapton- Blues Breakers, Magazine- Real Life, Muslimgauze- Fatah Guerrilla, Bill Nelson- Stargazing With Ranger Bill, Ted Nugent - Tooth, Fang & Claw, Graham Parker- Howlin' Wind, PIL- Plastic Box, Pink Fairies- What a Bunch of Sweeties, Jorge Reyes- Comala, Lou Reed- Berlin, Steve Roach- Dreamtime Return, Rolling Stones- Exile on Main Street, Doug Sahm- Genuine Texas Groover, Steely Dan- Aja, Stiff- Various/ Stiff Records Box Set, Tangerine Dream- Phaedra, Robin Trower- Bridge of Sighs, Johnny Thunders- So Alone, Muddy Waters- Hard Again, Stomu Yamasta/Steve Winwood- Go, Yes- Close to the Edge, Townes Van Zandt- Live at the Old Quarter, Frank Zappa- Hot Rats

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Groundhogs: Cherry Red

Not quite on the narrative but good.

Little Feat: Dixie Chicken

w/Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Jesse Winchester- Midnight Special 1977

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Diamond Dave

Go here:


Monday, January 12, 2009

Kim & The Caballeros; Erik Satie: Bojan Gorisek, Richard Cameron-Wofle

The Secret Museum

Michael Mooney & Jim Webb

January 12, 2009

By Staff Reports


Kim and The Caballeros:
Honky Tonk Breakdown

This is a brand new CD from a local band that has plenty of experience in creating fine music. Recorded live at Taos’ own Sagebrush Inn, lead vocalist Kim Treiber gets things started with her upbeat original Tulsa Breakdown. Chipper Thompson joins on guitar and vocals (his mandolin playing on Kim’s song Fall Away makes it one of the sets highlights), while Leonard Kasza’s steel guitar fills are tasteful throughout this whole show. Paul Reid solidly holds down bass duties and, with Mark Bennett on drums, makes this a locked-up-tight rhythm section. Besides a good helping of Trieber originals, there’s a nice choice of covers from Wanda Jackson (Tongue Tied), Johnny Cash (Folsom Prison) and Alison Moorer (Dying Breed) to round out the show.

Don’t worry; this ain’t no dusty old country and western band just going through the motions. A real passion for American Roots Music is what they have, and that’s getting hard to find in this prepackaged Big Hat world of phony country bands playing twangy notes without no soul. So quit complaining about nuthin’ to do and brush down your Saturday Night duds- it’s time to go out shining. Grab a fresh pony and head on over to The Sagebrush Inn, Adobe Bar, or wherever they may be, cos the Honky Tonk Breakdown with Kim and The Caballeros is about to begin.

-Jim Webb

Musique de la Rose-Croix; Pages Mystiques; Uspud
Bojan Gorisek: Piano
Richard Cameron-Wolfe: Piano


From the willfully and wickedly recondite LTM recordings (home of reissues and rarities galore by the likes of Gilbert/Lewis, Tuxedomoon, Duritti Column, and Anna Domino) come these masterly performances documenting Erik Satie’s Rosicrucian period. The 2-disc set includes great renderings of the Master Phonometrician’s oft-neglected music, mostly played (I think- the album credits are suitably vague) by Slovenian whiz kid Gorisek, including a brilliant version of the infamous Vexations, though I’d love to one day hear what Richard Cameron-Wolfe can do with it. For his part, Taos’ very own Maestro of Modernism RC-W contributes a solo piano version of “Christian Ballet” Uspud that’s seemingly austere, yet full of pulchritude and mystery. Timing is everything on this piece, and Richard Cameron-Wolfe without question has it- an awe-inspiring performance.

Ron Asheton
Dave Dee
Glenn Goldman (my ex-boss at Book Soup): I never got him; he never got me, but we once shared a real good time at The Who’s Quadrophenia show in LA, trying to make sense of Gary Glitter during the drive home.

-Michael Mooney

Friday, January 9, 2009

Kleenex: Nice

Click the image, then click the message.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Dunlap, Villela & Lande; The Dwellers


Jim Webb & Michael Mooney

January 05, 2009


Live review: Bruce Dunlap, Claudia Villela & Art Lande

The unpredictable recent weather in Santa Fe was a precursor to what occurred at GiG Performance Space on New Year's Eve. GiG is an intimate ninety-five-seat room on Second Street, with great sound and acoustics that put you nearly onstage with the musicians. This concert was arranged on short notice by guitarist and GiG director/ founder Bruce Dunlap.

The evening started off with two passionate pieces from flamenco guitarist Chuscales, a Santa Fe resident from Spain who has played with renowned dancer Maria Benitez, among others. Brazilian vocalist Claudia Villela then joined Bruce Dunlap for several songs that featured Villela's amazing voice. She has a fresh and seductive delivery that combines elements of traditional scat jazz singing a la Ella Fitzgerald with a tropical style all her own. Her unique phrasing will suddenly jump into percussive sounds that you'd swear was a drummer splashing brushes off the cymbals, or a trumpeter in full flight. Bruce Dunlap is the perfect foil to Claudia's leaps into the unknown; he’s a master improviser who feels at home in any uncharted territory. Pianist Art Lande brought his dazzling technique down from Boulder, Colorado, and joined Dunlap and Villela in an impromptu trio that made like they’d been playing together their entire lives.

The second set opened with Lande's vocalist wife Aubrey leading the way on an extended piece that went in all directions. This Theater of the Absurd excursion began with a long Ken Nordine hipster-style spoken word intro, and continued with Aubrey and Claudia leaving the loose framework behind. Flights of unpredictable fancy emerged. Chuscales returned next with friend Gigi on box percussion and vocals for a spirited three-song mini set. Art Lande then had the spotlight to himself on two solo piano pieces celebrating the life of a recently deceased friend. G's Leaving had an upbeat, jaunty style that reminded me a little of Thelonious Monk. The second composition Sonoma showcased his impeccable technique, and making obvious the reasons he’s recorded extensively for ECM. Next, Claudia sat down at the piano for several of her new tunes, joined by Art on melodica and Bruce on guitar- both reading charts they'd never seen before, yet sounding as if they’d written them. The improvisation continued until a waterfall of notes from Bruce gently brought the segment to an end. Lande then commenced the opening notes of Amazing Grace and, after four hours of music, the evening came to a close.

This isn't the first time I've gone to GiG and encountered extraordinary sounds, but on this night Lande, Villela and Dunlap collectively created magic. When a musician’s sole goal is the search for beauty, the results that occur frequently make witnessing live music so rewarding. This was one of those nights. The uniqueness of Art Lande, Claudia Villela and Bruce Dunlap springs from a seemingly bottomless well of music. This performance on New Year's Eve at GiG reminded me of a billowing cloud appearing in the blue New Mexico sky, changing shape as it lingers, then slowly dissolving as it drifts away. Bruce Dunlap and friends led us into 2009 with peace, joy, and positive vibrations. What more could anyone really ask for?
-Jim Webb

Moab Rocks: The Dwellers

Our friend Charlie Clayton gave me an untitled CDR by an obscure duo named The Dwellers. Impressive in a slowcore inspired, 4AD-ish way, with a dash of Bonnie Prince Billy, these guys sound like their environment: stark, languid, occasionally vivid and surreal. There are moments of great beauty here. This disc is probably several years old; more recent stuff is posted on their myspace page:

I suspect The Dwellers are operating in a field of one out there in Moab (I wonder if they play out much), which, as we both know, is a slightly smaller town than Taos, and way further removed from any metropolitan area like Albuquerque, or even Santa Fe, unless you count Grand Junction (I don’t.) So how do they manage to rate a smart little group like this while all we get are tepid blues-rockers or the usual Friday night two-steppers?
-Michael Mooney
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