Archive for March, 2007

Entry for March 27, 2007

March 27, 2007

The Beefheart Sketches #3

Entry for March 27, 2007

March 27, 2007

The Beefheart Sketches #3

Entry for March 27, 2007

March 27, 2007

The Beefheart Sketches #2

Entry for March 27, 2007

March 27, 2007

The Beefheart Sketches #2

Entry for March 27, 2007

March 27, 2007

The Beefheart Sketches #1

Entry for March 27, 2007

March 27, 2007

The Beefheart Sketches #1

Entry for March 27, 2007

March 27, 2007

Captain Beefheart: Cooking At Brewery

(It takes a lot of nerve on my part to post a review like this, I must admit, as it is woefully written and, all things considered, vastly too enthusiastic. But I post it because of its historical relevance. This was only the fifth performance of Beefheart’s so-called “Tragic Band,” and the set list alone will be of interest to the man’s many fans. What you should know: Beefheart’s new producers, the DiMartino brothers, saw a review I’d penned posted on the wall of this Michigan venue and asked the manager to point me out because of our shared last name. We got along well, and after the show, Beefheart and his wife Jan came and sat down at our table and spent about an hour chatting amiably about his career, his new band, and just about anything that crossed his mind. While we spoke, he grabbed my notebook and started sketching in it; three pages from it are reproduced above. [You’ve got to love that he got the year wrong once.] It was the third time I’d seen him perform, I was 20 years old, and at that point, it was one of the major highlights of my life. –dd)

Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band brought to the Brewery Wednesday night a talent the likes of which has never been seen before. In a stunning show of improvisation and control, the good Captain kept a fully spellbound audience enthusiastically bouncing in and out of its collective seat for the duration of his performance.

First, the Magic Band came onstage, plugged in and began to play a modal delta blues riff as a warm-up introduction. To most sharp-eyed Beefheart fans, it was immediately evident that this Magic Band was not at all the one expected, but rather a new entity. There was no sign of Zoot Horn Rollo, Rockette Morton or even Ed Marimba. Instead, it was a fairly normal-looking bunch of guys playing their respective axes and waiting for the captain’s arrival.

The moment arrived.

A comparatively trim Captain Beefheart strutted onstage, bottle of drinking water in his hand, grabbed the microphone and sang a verse of “Wang Dang Doodle” to open things up, then quickly moved into a flash of “Mirror Man.” The audience, clearly containing several true Beefheart freaks, was overjoyed. Then, wetting his harmonica with a cupped hand of drinking water, Beefheart proceeded to blow his harp wildly into the microphone, causing more than a few audience members to glance about nervously. Things appeared to be cooking as the Magic Band, new as it was, came across quite well.

A relatively short set, there were several high points in the performance. “Upon The My-O-My,” “Sugar Bowl,” “This Is The Day” and “Peaches” were all welcome new additions to the Captain’s act. All are cuts from his newest album, Unconditionally Guaranteed, on Mercury Records. “Crazy Little Thing” and “Abba Zabba” were about the only standards performed by the band, the latter a real treat.

The Magic Band grew increasingly tighter through the night. It is composed of Fuzzy Fuscaldo, formerly from Curtis Mayfield’s band, on guitar; Ty Grimes, formerly of Rick Nelson’s Stone Canyon Band, on drums; Paul Uhrig, once a part of Bobbie Gentry’s back-up group, on bass; Mike Smotherland, an ex-Buckwheat, on keyboards; and Dean Smith on guitar and slide. The entire group was put together by Beefheart’s new producers, Andy and Augie DiMartino, brothers who were also responsible for Beefheart’s recent label switch from Warner Bros. to Mercury Records.

What truly was exceptional was the performance of clarinetist/saxophonist Dell Simmons, an extremely gifted middle-aged musician who surprisingly fits right in with Beefheart’s congregation. Simmons has quite a musical history, having at one time played with Charlie Parker, Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman. The musical interaction between Simmons and the Captain was phenomenal. Beefheart would sing or play a series of notes and Simmons would match them all perfectly. Both musicians appeared to enjoy playing together.

Simmons broke into a clarinet solo of “Sweet Georgia Brown,” which made the Captain grin in total appreciation, as he told the audience, “If you can’t dig it, then toss in your shovels.” The audience dug it.

To close the show, during “Old Black Snake,” Beefheart whipped out his old soprano sax, much to the pleasure of his audience, and proceeded to trade riffs with saxophonist Simmons. Beefheart’s frenetic sax work came across superbly in the contrast of the musical styles displayed by the musicians. Finishing his part on sax, the Captain walked offstage and the Magic Band wrapped up the show.

The audience demanded an immediate encore, and in a short while, a pleased Beefheart and his crew returned to do a superb, slightly altered version of John Lee Hooker’s “Crawling King Snake.” Despite minor technical difficulties with the monitor, Beefheart climaxed his show by dropping the microphone and stalking offstage. Though it did not seem so at the time, he was pleased with his performance.

The entire night could really only be described with superlatives. Beefheart and his Magic Band have jelled rather nicely; it seems unbelievable that the entire assemblage has only been together three weeks. The Brewery stint was the group’s fifth gig–something that surely went unnoticed by the crowd.

(Michigan State News, 4/19/74)

Entry for March 27, 2007

March 27, 2007

Captain Beefheart: Cooking At Brewery

(It takes a lot of nerve on my part to post a review like this, I must admit, as it is woefully written and, all things considered, vastly too enthusiastic. But I post it because of its historical relevance. This was only the fifth performance of Beefheart’s so-called “Tragic Band,” and the set list alone will be of interest to the man’s many fans. What you should know: Beefheart’s new producers, the DiMartino brothers, saw a review I’d penned posted on the wall of this Michigan venue and asked the manager to point me out because of our shared last name. We got along well, and after the show, Beefheart and his wife Jan came and sat down at our table and spent about an hour chatting amiably about his career, his new band, and just about anything that crossed his mind. While we spoke, he grabbed my notebook and started sketching in it; three pages from it are reproduced above. [You’ve got to love that he got the year wrong once.] It was the third time I’d seen him perform, I was 20 years old, and at that point, it was one of the major highlights of my life. –dd)

Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band brought to the Brewery Wednesday night a talent the likes of which has never been seen before. In a stunning show of improvisation and control, the good Captain kept a fully spellbound audience enthusiastically bouncing in and out of its collective seat for the duration of his performance.

First, the Magic Band came onstage, plugged in and began to play a modal delta blues riff as a warm-up introduction. To most sharp-eyed Beefheart fans, it was immediately evident that this Magic Band was not at all the one expected, but rather a new entity. There was no sign of Zoot Horn Rollo, Rockette Morton or even Ed Marimba. Instead, it was a fairly normal-looking bunch of guys playing their respective axes and waiting for the captain’s arrival.

The moment arrived.

A comparatively trim Captain Beefheart strutted onstage, bottle of drinking water in his hand, grabbed the microphone and sang a verse of “Wang Dang Doodle” to open things up, then quickly moved into a flash of “Mirror Man.” The audience, clearly containing several true Beefheart freaks, was overjoyed. Then, wetting his harmonica with a cupped hand of drinking water, Beefheart proceeded to blow his harp wildly into the microphone, causing more than a few audience members to glance about nervously. Things appeared to be cooking as the Magic Band, new as it was, came across quite well.

A relatively short set, there were several high points in the performance. “Upon The My-O-My,” “Sugar Bowl,” “This Is The Day” and “Peaches” were all welcome new additions to the Captain’s act. All are cuts from his newest album, Unconditionally Guaranteed, on Mercury Records. “Crazy Little Thing” and “Abba Zabba” were about the only standards performed by the band, the latter a real treat.

The Magic Band grew increasingly tighter through the night. It is composed of Fuzzy Fuscaldo, formerly from Curtis Mayfield’s band, on guitar; Ty Grimes, formerly of Rick Nelson’s Stone Canyon Band, on drums; Paul Uhrig, once a part of Bobbie Gentry’s back-up group, on bass; Mike Smotherland, an ex-Buckwheat, on keyboards; and Dean Smith on guitar and slide. The entire group was put together by Beefheart’s new producers, Andy and Augie DiMartino, brothers who were also responsible for Beefheart’s recent label switch from Warner Bros. to Mercury Records.

What truly was exceptional was the performance of clarinetist/saxophonist Dell Simmons, an extremely gifted middle-aged musician who surprisingly fits right in with Beefheart’s congregation. Simmons has quite a musical history, having at one time played with Charlie Parker, Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman. The musical interaction between Simmons and the Captain was phenomenal. Beefheart would sing or play a series of notes and Simmons would match them all perfectly. Both musicians appeared to enjoy playing together.

Simmons broke into a clarinet solo of “Sweet Georgia Brown,” which made the Captain grin in total appreciation, as he told the audience, “If you can’t dig it, then toss in your shovels.” The audience dug it.

To close the show, during “Old Black Snake,” Beefheart whipped out his old soprano sax, much to the pleasure of his audience, and proceeded to trade riffs with saxophonist Simmons. Beefheart’s frenetic sax work came across superbly in the contrast of the musical styles displayed by the musicians. Finishing his part on sax, the Captain walked offstage and the Magic Band wrapped up the show.

The audience demanded an immediate encore, and in a short while, a pleased Beefheart and his crew returned to do a superb, slightly altered version of John Lee Hooker’s “Crawling King Snake.” Despite minor technical difficulties with the monitor, Beefheart climaxed his show by dropping the microphone and stalking offstage. Though it did not seem so at the time, he was pleased with his performance.

The entire night could really only be described with superlatives. Beefheart and his Magic Band have jelled rather nicely; it seems unbelievable that the entire assemblage has only been together three weeks. The Brewery stint was the group’s fifth gig–something that surely went unnoticed by the crowd.

(Michigan State News, 4/19/74)

Entry for March 23, 2007

March 23, 2007

Big Star Superb Show For Bargain Price

(Yikes! This is horribly written but of interest, I suppose, to latter-day Big Star fans. The back story: By midweek, the band was so loathed by managers of the venue they were fired. No one was dancing; no one was buying drinks. The next morning, the account below appeared in the college paper, and the nervous club-owners, expecting a big crowd, hired the band back for two more nights. Not that it made much of a difference. –dd)

Big Star, a relatively new band that has released two superb albums, has been at the Brewery since Tuesday and will continue its gig through Sunday.

It is a rare moment when a band as talented as Big Star plays even a concert-priced one-night stand in East Lansing; it is all the more remarkable that the group has been contracted by the Brewery for a week-long stint. Considering that there has been no cover charge throughout the week, it seems incredible that the place hasn’t been jam-packed every night

It truly should be. Big Star’s first two performances on Tuesday and Wednesday night showed that the band is a tremendously talented musical unit.

Despite its apparent instrumental limitations–guitar, bass and drums–Big Star manages to project an extremely rich, full sound that is quite unusual for a three-man group. The band opened its performance with a driving rendition of “You Get What You Deserve,” from their most recent album Radio City and carried on strongly from that point.

Lead singer and guitarist Alex Chilton seems to give the impression of a musician who is just having fun playing the music he loves. Certainly Chilton loves his music–all his own compositions were performed beautifully–but it is even more commendable that Big Star sees fit to play compositions that are not original which generally seem to fit its musical groove.

Thus the group’s performance of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me,” and “Sitting In The Midday Sun,” along with Lou Reed’s “Candy Says,” “Sweet Jane” and “The Bed,” seemed to be suitably effective in its set, as did Loudon Wainwright’s “Motel Blues.” In fact, it was sometimes more fun guessing from what source the next piece that was not original would emanate than hearing the tune itself. The group did a fine job of revealing its main sources of inspiration.

Occasionally Chilton would pull out and electric twelve-string guitar while his fellow band members walked offstage, and played a short acoustic set that came off remarkably well.

Unfortunately acoustic sets don’t always come across too well with the Brewery’s usual patronage, so it seemed a shame that an otherwise perfect set was marred by occasionally obnoxious audience chatter.

Chilton, who is only 23, has had a rather interesting past. As lead vocalist with the ’60s Box Tops, he sang the million-seller “The Letter,” along with several other successful singles like “Cry Like A Baby” and “Neon Rainbow.” To close the show Wednesday night, Big Star played “The Letter” and appeared to have great fun doing it.

Big Star seems to have a bright future. It seems only a matter of time before the group receives the public acceptance it so obviously deserves. The band has received unanimous critical adulation for its two albums on Ardent Records, and if the performances this week at the Brewery are any indication, Big Star, with just a little more exposure, will have no trouble making it big.

(Michigan State News, 4/12/1974)

Entry for March 23, 2007

March 23, 2007

Big Star Superb Show For Bargain Price

(Yikes! This is horribly written but of interest, I suppose, to latter-day Big Star fans. The back story: By midweek, the band was so loathed by managers of the venue they were fired. No one was dancing; no one was buying drinks. The next morning, the account below appeared in the college paper, and the nervous club-owners, expecting a big crowd, hired the band back for two more nights. Not that it made much of a difference. –dd)

Big Star, a relatively new band that has released two superb albums, has been at the Brewery since Tuesday and will continue its gig through Sunday.

It is a rare moment when a band as talented as Big Star plays even a concert-priced one-night stand in East Lansing; it is all the more remarkable that the group has been contracted by the Brewery for a week-long stint. Considering that there has been no cover charge throughout the week, it seems incredible that the place hasn’t been jam-packed every night

It truly should be. Big Star’s first two performances on Tuesday and Wednesday night showed that the band is a tremendously talented musical unit.

Despite its apparent instrumental limitations–guitar, bass and drums–Big Star manages to project an extremely rich, full sound that is quite unusual for a three-man group. The band opened its performance with a driving rendition of “You Get What You Deserve,” from their most recent album Radio City and carried on strongly from that point.

Lead singer and guitarist Alex Chilton seems to give the impression of a musician who is just having fun playing the music he loves. Certainly Chilton loves his music–all his own compositions were performed beautifully–but it is even more commendable that Big Star sees fit to play compositions that are not original which generally seem to fit its musical groove.

Thus the group’s performance of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me,” and “Sitting In The Midday Sun,” along with Lou Reed’s “Candy Says,” “Sweet Jane” and “The Bed,” seemed to be suitably effective in its set, as did Loudon Wainwright’s “Motel Blues.” In fact, it was sometimes more fun guessing from what source the next piece that was not original would emanate than hearing the tune itself. The group did a fine job of revealing its main sources of inspiration.

Occasionally Chilton would pull out and electric twelve-string guitar while his fellow band members walked offstage, and played a short acoustic set that came off remarkably well.

Unfortunately acoustic sets don’t always come across too well with the Brewery’s usual patronage, so it seemed a shame that an otherwise perfect set was marred by occasionally obnoxious audience chatter.

Chilton, who is only 23, has had a rather interesting past. As lead vocalist with the ’60s Box Tops, he sang the million-seller “The Letter,” along with several other successful singles like “Cry Like A Baby” and “Neon Rainbow.” To close the show Wednesday night, Big Star played “The Letter” and appeared to have great fun doing it.

Big Star seems to have a bright future. It seems only a matter of time before the group receives the public acceptance it so obviously deserves. The band has received unanimous critical adulation for its two albums on Ardent Records, and if the performances this week at the Brewery are any indication, Big Star, with just a little more exposure, will have no trouble making it big.

(Michigan State News, 4/12/1974)