Monday, August 31, 2015

Don van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart

In December of 2010,
the man I always thought of
as the Real Captain America
left the building. 

Captain Beefheart
was a nom de plume used
by the closest thing white rock music ever had
to a true shaman.

A man with more gris-gris than Mac Rebennack,
and more poetry than Jim Morrison,
who was more far out than Mercury
or that other Morrison, or Morrisey.

He spent more of his life living in the desert
and painting than he did being a rock star,
which if you go by sales, he never really was.

mutually useful but volatile.

Typically a Beefheart album might do 50 to 60,000 units.

His sales volumes may have been low, but his demographics
were something else.

His audience included Jerzy Kosinski, Igor Stravinsky,
Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, Pharoah Sanders,
Woody Allen, John Lydon, Joe Strummer, Devo,
PJ Harvey, Pere Ubu...

...and 50 to 60,000 others.

Beefheart was a one-namer before Madonna
could cross the street
by herself.

'all roads lead to coca-cola'
Don van Vliet



I look at her and she looks at me
In her eyes I see the sea
I can't see what she sees in a man like me
She says she loves me

Her eyes
Her eyes
Her eyes are a blue million miles

Her eyes are a blue million miles 
Don van Vliet 1972

Fast goes fast
Slow goes slow
Rich are rich and the po' are po'
Everybody's doing the Low Yo Yo Yo Yo
Everybody's doing it
Deep down everybody knows they should
Do the Low Yo Yo Yo Yo

Low Yo Yo Stuff   Don van Vliet 1972

50 to 60,000 is also about the number of US dollars 
you would need to buy a painting or two of his now.

Funny business, art.

You used me like an ashtray heart
Right from the start
Case of the punks
Another day, another way
Somebody's had too much to think
Open up another case of the punks
Each pillow is touted like a rock
The mother / father figure
Somebody's had too much to think
Send your mother home your navel

Ashtray Heart   
Don van Vliet  1980

i told my mother - she showed it to me not too long ago, 

in this baby book in that horrible palmer penmanship
method of writing that she used...on this old yellow
piece of paper it's written out, that if she would stay
on one side of the room and i would stay on the other,
that we would be friends the rest of our life.

Don van Vliet

i met aldous huxley. i sold him a vacuum cleaner.
i said: 'i assure you, sir, this thing sucks!'. he bought everything in my car. i was selling electrolux vacuum cleaners. i quit right after that - probably some time
before 1959.

Don van Vliet

stars are matter
we are matter
but it doesn't matter.

Don van Vliet

January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010
after a long battle with multiple sclerosis.

Don van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart (2)

Don Van Vliet

the Captain Beefheart Radio Station


- 30 -


a musical Reality Check

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Scene at Live Music Venues

Live music is an amazing thing to share with other people,
but bringing people and music together is not an easy way
to make a living. Whether you are working the door, the bar,
the mixing board, stage crew or actually performing onstage,
you will encounter people acting like assholes.

That's why people make signs like these...

Every venue should have a sign like this
hanging in a prominent place.

Right on, Mr. Rollins.

When I was booking a music festival, I made up a sign for the crew
working the evening concert stage that said|:
"To the best crew in live music- I can always find another band,
but I could never find another crew this good.
Mad love and big respect from your Artistic Director".

I signed it and framed it and they hung it up
where they met with the bands to go over their stage plots.
They said it helped.

Monster Saxophones!

Not so long ago, there were giant saxophones all over the place.
That must have been cool...


15 Cover Versions I'd Love to Hear

I like cover versions a lot. Sometimes they're lame,
sometimes they just suck out loud but there are times
they are a revelation - a whole new way of hearing
a song you've heard a million times.

These are ones I've only heard in my head...

Howlin' Wolf singing I Can See for Miles (The Who)

Elvis Presley singing Hey Joe (Jimi Hendrix)

Bob Dylan  singing Ever Fallen in Love? (The Buzzcocks)

The Band doing Mississippi Queen (Mountain

Tom Waits singing Night Moves (Bob Seger)

Lady Gaga doing Diamond Dogs
(David Bowie)

The Clash  doing R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A. (John Mellencamp)

Feist's version of Riders on the Storm (The Doors)

The Bangles doing Pleasant Valley Sunday (The Monkees)

Leonard Cohen singing Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana)

Patty Griffin's version of You Got the Silver (Rolling Stones)

Neil Young rockin' Generation Landslide (Alice Cooper)

Beatle freak Prime Minister Stephen Harper singing I am the Walrus (The Beatles)

Marianne Faithful  doing If I Needed You (Townes van Zandt)

The Proclaimers  doing Tower of Song (Leonard Cohen)

Can you hear any of these?
Feel free to add to the list in the comments below

Where is that Town in North Ontario?

The music scene in Canada has long been a sweating, seething,
passionate hotbed of controversy and debate and the rise of the
internet has turned it all up to eleven.

Virtually daily, issues are discussed ad infinitum by musicians
and the fans who love them. New questions arise while old ones
are still under debate, and one of the ones that people still disagree
about is "Where is that town in north Ontario?"

"That town" is the one Neil was singing about in "Helpless",
one of his most enduring songs:

"There is a town in north Ontario,
 With dream comfort memory to spare,
 And in my mind
 I still need a place to go,
 All my changes were there

How could the name of "that town" come to mean so much to so many?
There's many reasons, including personal identity issues, tourist dollars,
geeky bragging rights, civic pride and an abiding feeling for one of the few
musicians from a magical era who didn't (a) die or (b) turn into a guilty pleasure.

The answer is out there, somewhere and will be revealed, but first
we'll need to map the terrain, look at the facts and see where they lead.

Fasten your seat-belts - it's going to be a bumpy ride.


If you're like many musicians, and your agent called to say
you had a gig in Fort William at the Flamingo Club,
your first reaction might be "Where the hell is that?"

This would be a very reasonable question, because in 1970,
the towns of Fort William and Port Arthur amalgamated
and have been known ever since as Thunder Bay.

In many cases, though, this might just leave you wondering
"Where the hell is Thunder Bay?"

Fort William aka Thunder Bay is in northern Ontario.
It is a 7 hour and 36 minute drive of some 704 kilometers
from Winnipeg (7 hours 8 minutes without traffic).

It is 7 hour and 53 minute drive of about 432 miles
from Fargo, ND (7 hours 33 minutes without traffic
((and not counting possible delays at the border
)) ).

For those coming from the other way, it's 5 hours 16 minutes
and some 478 kilometers from Wawa, Ontario (4 hours
50 minutes without traffic

Wawa was notorious among young people hitch-hiking
to and fro across the True North years ago as a place
you might find yourself stranded in, sometimes for days.

It is also home to the world's biggest Canada Goose.

It* was made (in)famous by a band from Hamilton
called Crowbar, in a song called "Tits Up on the Pavement
(in Wawa, Ontario)", but that is not the song under discussion today.

* the town, not the goose


People in the know remember Fort William's Flamingo Dine & Dance
as quite a classy place back in the 60s. In addition to weddings, parties
and banquets, it also presented live original music.

One of the bands they presented was fronted by a local kid
with a head full of dreams from Winnipeg who drove
around town in an old hearse he called Mortimer Hearseburg
or “Mort*” for short.

(*Morte, of course, being French for "death").

His name was Neil Young.
The band was called The Squires.

Neil and two Squires "backstage" at The Flamingo

It was not the only place presenting live music.
There was also the 4D (The Fourth Dimension)
the areas first folk club, which had opened in 1962,
and was formerly known as "The Club Seaway".

Then as now, living on your musical skills wasn't easy.
Neil and his fellow squires ate mucho Spam and many,
many Ritz Crackers.

Dinty's Motor Inn

They did live free for a while at Dinty's Motor Inn, in exchange
for playing weekends at the Fourth Dimension.

One night at the 4D, Neil met a kindred spirit passing through
in a band from California. His name was Stephen Stills.

The Squires were neither the first nor the last thing to put
Fort William on the musical map. It had unleashed teen sensation
Bobby Curtola on the world some years earlier and in 1962
he'd topped the charts with "Fortune Teller".

Another native son who walked those cold streets was a guy
named Paul Allen Wood Shaffer who, among other things,
would go on to play with many of the world's most famous
musicians during his thirty-plus years with David Letterman.


Clearly, Neil has some heavy history with Fort William/Thunder Bay...
but does that mean Fort William is (was?) that town in north Ontario?

The answer, my friends, is here:
Where is that Town in North Ontario? (2)

If you really want the lowdown about Fort William back in those days,
you want to go to Hot Rods and Jalopies , where some of this history and
images came from.

It's one of those blogs that makes you glad there's an internet. Seriously!
I wish someone had done on like it on the town I grew up in.


Neil Young & Old Black

 Old Black is the name of Neil Young's '53 (maybe '52) Gibson Les Paul Gold Top.
He swapped his Buffalo Springfield collaborator Jim Messina an orange Gretsch 6120
Chet Atkins for it in 1969 and virtually all of the electric guitar parts Neil's recorded
ever since have been played on Old Black.

Whoever owned it before Jim Messina had - for reasons unknown - painted
it black, and that paint's been chipping off ever since.

Here's some picture of Neil's guitar tech Larry Cragg holding Old Black.

Mr. Cragg knows all there is to know about Neil's guitars and amps and pedals.
You can learn from him here:

Larry Cragg - Neil Young's Guitar Tech

Neil Young's Sound

or this info-graphic can give you the Coles Notes:

There's also an interesting page on the Gibson guitar site called:

Neil Young’s ‘Old Black’ Magic

These two pictures are not pictures of Old Black!
These are pictures of a replica made in Finland
by Juha Mäntymaa from

If you want to know more about it,
you can go to Old Black replica.

Not my cup of tea, but hey, be happy.
You can also get yourself a Neil Young replica guitar strap,
but remember that these days Neil wears his upside-down.

Then, of course, you may want one of these...


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sell it with music!

Seriously, everyone else is doing it.
We`re all just working for the Yankee dollar
and it sure as hell ain`t no new thang.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will be on pay-per-view.