Sunday, April 30, 2006

Something in the Water? The Mississippi River


This picture was taken in Hollywood and addresses the self-reflexive Hollywood thing...All the pictures on Rodney's wall have him in them! People came to Los Angeles to "make it" and one sign of "making it" was getting on the Kingmaker's radar. Rodney was the Kingmaker of glam and punk in LA in the 70s and his wall is chock full of souvenirs from the journeys made by people ranging from David Bowie to my good old friend, Stiv Bators.

In this picture with Rodney are Stiv Bators, from Cleveland, Ohio via the more working class, more industrial waste-landed Youngstown, and Cynthia Ross from the hip, urban and urbane although smaller version of NYC, Toronto, Canada.

Cleveland and Northern Ohio was a minefield of musical talent and always has been. The punk rock era gave us the Dead Boys, Pere Ubu, Pagans, Hammer Damage, Rocket From the Tombs, and oh so many more.

Makes you ask "Is there something in the water?" Well, in Cleveland, their river caught on fire...there was definitely something in the water.

Now, there's this issue of the Mississippi River. It feeds other pockets of rock n roll greatness that falls along its path in the United States.

One such city that's cranking out awesome music is Oxford, Mississippi. The Neckbones, Preachers Kids, Blue Mountain, The Jenny Jeans and the Black and Whites are bands that hail from Oxford. Tyler Keith is one of the prolific geniuses behind a lot of these...and now Talbot Adams is stepping forward too, with the amazing Black & Whites, that also features Tyler on guitar.

Of course, Mississippi is the birthplace of Elvis, before whom there was nothing... at least in terms of rock n roll. And its also the birthplace, musical and otherwise of one of my favorite songwriter/musicians around today - Jack Oblivian.

Jack Yarber

Jack is a Most Valuable Player in Memphis -- another city touched by the muddy Mississippi...and Memphis bands do rock in a special way... Oblivians, Reigning Sound, Mouse Rocket, Lost Sounds, Reatards, Tearjerkers, Final Solutions, Knaughty Knights, Dutch Masters... the list goes on and on.

Along the Mississippi lie the musical hotbeds of Minneapolis/St. Paul, which gave us The Replacements, Husker Du, Suicide Commandos in the punk genre, and more famously, Prince.

St. Louis, MO sits along the Mississippi River and gave us Chuck Berry, and is home to the Garage Punk dot com website, our friend Kopper and his Way Back Machine.

At the end of the river is good old New Orleans...smacked by a hurricane, you still can't keep her spirit down. A city bursting with musical talent from the word "go," New Orleans itself describes a kind of music. Baton Rouge was always a lot more punk-friendly though.

In New Orleans, there's Mike Hurtt and the Pendletons, and King Louie and his many permutations - from one man band to the Persuaders, Kajun SS, Loose Diamonds, and now Black Rose.

Loose Diamonds

Here's Louie with Harlan T. Bobo and Jack Oblivian in Memphis in the alley next to Goner Records, a rock n roll institution for punk and garage rock fans.

My own particular New Orleans always revolved around seeing my LA home girl, former Bangle Vicki Peterson play with the Continental Drifters with Susan Cowsill, Peter Holsapple and other fine players. I love New Orleans so much that one year, I visited it five times.

I hope that the City gets the leadership it needs to rebuild. Hello to all my NOLA friends.

There's something in that muddy Mississippi River, yes there is...Delta blues or just plain dirty rock n roll...there's nothing like it anywhere else.

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