Thursday, February 22, 2007

Punk Folk (this Friday & Saturday)

Tommy Ramone

This is the only photo I've ever taken of Tommy Ramone. And it was taken almost exactly 30 years ago -- February 16, 1977 at the Whisky A Go Go - The Ramones sophomore visit to LA, and one in which Blondie opened for them, making the Sunset Strip the Bowery for a few days.

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debbie whisky 2-16

This weekend in Memphis, TN (just about my favorite place on Earth nowadays), you can see Tommy Ramone in his current musical endeavor... punk bluegrass

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As part of Uncle Monk, Tommy "Ramone" Erdelyi will be performing in the Folk Music Alliance Conference AND doing a FREE INSTORE at Goner Records which is the coolest and most punk record store in the South. Also that same day at the Goner Store, tomorrow - Friday, February 23, you can catch Plimsouls frontman, and punk/garage rock/r&b folksinger/songwriter/split musical personality spokesman for a generation, my dear pal, Peter Case also.

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Peter is performing in the Folk Music Alliance showcases also. But my money's on the in-store.... aside from being free... it'll be a more intimate gig, and there are the record bins to peruse while you're in the store... (don't forget to go back on Saturday for JOE BOYD!!! and Memphis faves (and mine) Harlan T. Bobo and Shawn Cripps, who together are Limes, and separately, each quite intensely cool. Somewhere during the Folk thing, another Memphis MVP, Ron Franklin will be performing also. Keep an ear to the ground and check out the guilty pleasure side of every punk rocker I know.

ron franklin

I am not afraid to admit it: I am a closet folkie. That doesn't mean I am a closet hippie, OK? But the music categorized as "folk" is near and dear to my heart, and it has the same heart, soul and subversion that I find in punk rock... just not the noise level. Back in my Island Records days, I was the in-house champion of Richard Thompson, whose music publishing was with us, as were the other members of Fairport Convention, who are just brilliant, no matter what genre. When you consider that "folk music" is simply a label for the music of the common people (that means YOU and me!)...even though these days, most people consider it to be soft, traditional music played acoustically and by gentle voiced singers telling stories from the Renaissance. Yeah, that exists, but not in my book! I'm talking about your Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan protest music types...folk music as agitprop... Probably the best definition of Punk Folk is Billy Bragg, a man with both Joe Strummer and Woody Guthrie in his heart, soul and veins.

If you don't believe me.... believe the purest punk rocker of all: The Ramones. Aren't YOUR fave Ramones records the ones that Tommy produced? Maybe I'm biased because I think Tommy Erdelyi is the nicest guy on the planet...but how wrong can you go if you're listening to what Tommy's playing? If you're in Memphis, check it out. You got nothing to lose... and you can see two legends up close and personal.

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