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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Punk Guitar Heroes - A Red Airline Guitar

jack live 9

He's not playing it in this picture from 2006, because he long ago sold his red Airline guitar to Jack White. For his chops, for his sensibility, for his constant and consistent discovery of music both old and new, Jack Oblivian always takes the guitar hero medal of honor in my book.

jack on the ferris wheel

Alongside Greg Cartwright in the Oblivians, Jack Yarber "Oblivian" influenced untold numbers of guitar players and people who wanted to start bands. Forming the Oblivians after their first band together, (one of my favorites, the more rootsy-country-soul inflected Compulsive Gamblers) Greg and Jack together with a garage rock human encyclopedia, Eric Friedl, saved their trashy thrashy nastiest best for their bass-free trio. They also had their finer musical moments, with touches of gospel and an entire album with New Orleans keyboard-based one-man-band, Mr. Quintron.

greg and quintron 2
Quintron and Greg, Chicago, 2006

You know, I was all ready to show you photos of the punk rock guitar heroes from Iggy Pop's lengthy career today... but reading the LA Times, I was kind of embarrassed by and for the piece written by one of my favorite writers, Ann Powers. My hometown paper...the one where I first read Cameron Crowe's writing...the one where the decent and fine fellow and journalist, Richard Cromelin treated me and my bands so favorably when I was doing PR and hometown paper's editor recently gave a great writer a crappy assignment. She had to put John Mayer and Jack White in the same piece.

So, I got to thinking how far Jack White had come since I saw him at the Mercury Lounge in NYC only six or so years ago, and there weren't a lot of supporters there. But you had to respect where that young whippersnapper was finding his influences (and I have a soft spot for guys whose moms are also named Theresa - though she's a Teresa). And he had that red Airline guitar that played all those Compulsive Gamblers songs, Oblivians songs. White is always asked about his guitars in interviews - what guitarist isn't? - and he tells the story behind that guitar he bought from Jack Oblivian. And as I write this, I am listening to Oblivians Play 9 Songs with Mr. Quintron. It was time to show you some photos of punk rockers from the 90s!

Greg Cartwright

Greg Cartwright showed off his guitar hero chops one hot night in July, 2004 at Maxwell's in Hoboken with his current band, The Reigning Sound. A live album is the result of that night, a rare headlining club gig for the Reigning Sound on a tour that found them opening for The Hives.

Pelle & Greg
The Hives singer Pelle, with Greg, 2004

The Reigning Sound's Live at Maxwell's record captures the heat, humidity, excitement and the band's ability to roll with all the punches...During their set, Greg broke multiple strings on both guitars. By the last third of the set, he was playing on three and then two strings only! But he took requests, tuned and re-tuned those two or three strings and never missed a beat or a note. Sure, when you listen to the record a year or two later, you notice this or that falls out of tune, but let me remind you that the MC5's "Kick Out the Jams," one of the best jams to influence punk and garage and straight up rock n roll... is wildly, gloriously out of tune. That Reigning Sound show and record is a celebration of what good times are!

Greg Cartwright - Southpaw

One hard-working band you can catch these days is Turpentine Brothers, a trio from Cambridge, MA featuring guitar, organ and drums. Live, they often channel the Oblivians, and guitarist Justin Hubbard has a red Airline guitar...

Turpentine Bros
Turpentine Brothers, back to front - Justin Hubbard, Tara McManus, drums, Zack Brines, keyboard. Tara is also the drummer in Mr. Airplane Man

Justin Hubbard
Justin Hubbard and his red Airline guitar

This is what I recommend:
Get Jack Oblivian's, new album, Flipside Kid. Its available on vinyl now - but act fast! You can get it in the Goner Records Store

flipside screen
pic of Jack O's silk screened album cover by Rich Tupica

Come to Goner Fest 4 and see Quintron and Mr Airplane Man play live!

Jack Oblivian
Reigning Sound
Goner Records
Turpentine Brothers
Mr Airplane Man


ms. rosa said...

that's a damn shame about the article and john mayer. what a terrible idea.

i have a radio show and my co-host and i alternately play a greg-cartwright-flavored song every week. the live at maxwell's is one of my fave's.

thanks for the tip on the terpentine brothers and flipside kid. gonna check those out!

Rich said...

That pic of Greg & Quintron is great!