Monday, April 24, 2017

Interview: Craig Bell (Grandmaster of Punk)

Craig Bell has been playing in punk bands since the early 1970s in Cleveland including the seminal groups Rocket From The Tombs, X_____X, and Mirrors. 
In 2003 Rocket From The Tombs reformed and have released 3 albums which has spawned a renewed interest in Bell's other work and prompting reissues of albums by X_____X,  Saucers, and others. Bell also releases music under his own name and is currently on a US tour. 

37- After nearly 45 years in the Cleveland music scene, what do you account for the renewed interest in your early punk/rock bands, Mirrors (1973-1975), Rocket From The Tombs (1974-1975), and  X_____X (1978)?

CB-I think we should give a lot of credit to that to the younger kids who have come along since the advent of the internet music explosion. They have dug deep into the early days of the Punk scene, and earlier, to find bands like us and they are very enthusiastic in their appreciation. We also must give a nod to the older generation that we came up with who kept our bands music alive by trading tapes and writing about our efforts back in the early 1970s.

37-  What was the climate like in Cleveland in the early 1970s that made it possible for so many seminal punk to be born there?

CB- Cleveland was an important stop on any up and coming bands itinerary in the 60s and early 70s and because of some great AM stations in the city and the region we were exposed to quite a bit of music other parts of the country didn't get informed about until a lot later, if at all. The Velvet Underground played in Cleveland multiple times between 1966 and 68. Their influence was tremendous in the local underground scene of the early 70s as a result. These factors certainly contributed to a lot of like-minded musicians looking for somewhere to take all that.

37- After the break up of Rocket From The Tombs, several of the musicians left Cleveland to start other bands, Cheetah Chrome moved to New York to perform as The Dead Boys and you started Saucers in New Haven CT. what do you believe was the necessity to move away from Ohio to keep the momentum alive?

CB- After the break up of RFTT, I decided that I should try and get something of my own together. I was offered the opportunity of joining both Pere Ubu and The Dead Boys (they were calling themselves Frankenstein at the time) but I declined both because I thought it was time to see what I could do with the ideas I had. I was offered a job in New Haven so I moved there in 1976 and after getting acclimated to the area, started looking around for other players into what I was doing. It didn't take too long until I met Mark Mulcahy, and Malcolm Marsden and a seventeen year old keyboardist, who to this day on this tour, claims he is a synthesizer player! That would be Malcolm Doak.

37- During the lifespan of Saucers, only one song was released, Muckraker, on the   compilation “It Happened But Nobody Noticed” in 1982. Which happens to be a fitting title, as since then much of your early work has been re-released, or released for the first time, including recordings by Rocket From The Tombs, The Saucers, and X_____X. What do you think took so long for the general public to notice and appreciate these early purveyors of experimental punk? 

CB- we also released two singles in the lifetime of Saucers, What We Do/I Didn't Get It/Muckraker (1979) and A Certain Kind of Shy/She's Alright (1980) besides that cut on the compilation LP. I think the other part of this question reverts back to the first question.  A lot of young fans are discovering us as they search deeper to find the roots of this style of music.

37- Now that the world has caught up with your impressive catalog of work over a near half century, what can we expect next from you and your band?

CB- In the past 7 years I have released music with my previous band The Down-fi, the CD America Now (2009) and Beehunter (2012) as well as a couple of 45s. I have played on the recent EP by The Gizmos, 2015s 21st Century Gizmos Fans on Gulcher Records as well as the X_____X release  Albert Ayler's Ghosts - Live From The Yellow Ghetto (2014).  Rocket From The Tombs has released three albums since our retrospective album came out in 2002, Redux (2003) Barfly (2011) and Black Record (2015). X_____X is currently recording tracks for a new album and RFTT have plans to do the same this year.  I have been talking with a few people about a new album of my songs and I plan to start recording this summer.

Craig Bell will be playing in the Dead Forest Room at Zanzabar on Wednesday, April 26th.  Columbus, OH's DANA and Louisville's Jaxson Lee Swain will open. Ticket Information here

Monday, April 17, 2017

4/29 Crown Larks (Chicago) & Dr. Girlfriend at Kaiju

Chicago psychedelic super weirdos Crown Larks will be returning to Louisville on April 29th, in support of their new LP, Population, out 5/5. local heroes Doctor Girlfriend & Insect policy will be opening.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Review: Jonathan Richman @ Zanzabar

Punk crooner turned "playground punk" singer Jonathan Richman graced the stage  at 9 pm on friday night in the Dead Forest Room at Zanzabar in Louisville to a crowd of about 150.

Richman got his start, famously, in the late 1960s by tracking down the Velvet Underground and asking Lou Reed for help. He formed The Modern Lovers in 1970 in Boston with drummer David Robinson (later of the Cars) and keyboardist Jerry Harrison (later of Talking Heads). The group gained a loyal following with their loved-drenched pop tunes that would influence a multitude of New York punk bands in the following years.

By 1976 Richman ditched the love punk sound for a playful upbeat -if not stripped down- sound described as both  playground punk and groundbreaking.
Richman kept this playground sound for the next 40 years of a fruitful, albeit just under the radar, solo career.

In The Wings: Richman in yellow, and Tommy Larkins
waiting for the 9pm call to stage
Despite his embargo on amplified instruments as a way to protect his hearing and only using a classical guitar, the 65 year old rocked at times, especially during No One Was Like Vermeer, at moments Tommy Larkins, who has accompanied Richman since the 1990s, took over with drum solos while Richman grabbed percussion instruments and joined in while the crowd clapped in beat.

Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkins in The Dead Forest room at Zanzabar

 Without the use of amplifiers or monitors the new "Dead Forest" room at Zanzabar was humid with 150 ecstatic fans -as Richman requested the air conditioner be turned off, as to not to have to compete with the rumble of the vents- but, besides a few overheated bouncers, no one seemed to mind too much.

 The set mainly consisted of newer songs from Richman's solo career such as When We Refuse To Suffer,  My baby loves me, Springtime in New York, and These Bodies That Came to Cavort, preceded by a quote he saw written on a wall in permanent marker: "Be Kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a war that you know nothing about" with added sprinklings of earlier solo songs such as the crowd favorite, I Was Dancing In The Lesbian Bar, in which Richman would stop playing during the chorus and dance around the stage so that the crowd could sing the lines.

The set was void of Modern Lovers songs save for one,  Old World,  after which Richmen ended the night with a poem and then said "Okay, This is your last chance to say goodnight to Tommy, Thank you!"

Tommy Larkins drum set

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Winner: Jonathan Richman tickets @ Zanzabar 4/14

Congrats to Dave W. for winning two tickets to Jonathan Richman at Zanzabar tomorrow, April 14th, at 8pm. Dave shared his favorite Jonathan Richman song, Ice Cream Man!

Other songs shared with us were:

Tickets to Jonathan Richman at Zanzabar 4/14 at 8pm ($15) found here.

Free Ticket Give-A-way: Jonathan Richman at Zanzabar 4/14

This friday, April 14th, the legendary Bostonian punk crooner, Jonathan Richman, will grace the stage at Zanzabar, and we have 2 tickets to give away!

All you have to do is tell us who you would like to take with you to the show or share your favorite Jonathan Richman song by 5pm, and they tickets could be yours! Leave a comment or send an email, and good luck!

Here are some of our favorite Jonathan Richman songs:

With Tommy Larkins in There's Something About Mary (1998)

Jonathan Richman will play at Zanzabar Friday April 14th at 8pm. $15.
Tickets & Event Information Here.

Friday, April 7, 2017

4/7-9: A Weekend Of Love And Resistance

This friday-Sunday at 1007 E. Jefferson St. in Louisville, Ky, will be the Weekend of Love and Resistance, with over 35 bands and speakers raising funds for the ACLU of Kentucky and Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky.

Bands include Catherine Irwin, Soft Self Portraits, Black God, and Pleasure Boys.

John King and Bryan Burns, members of the social activist group Electric Church Of The Tambourine's political party -The New Power Party- will be speaking on Sunday at 4pm (right before Catherine Irwin) about the importance of social programs and organizations as a tool to combat economic slavery in America.
Details here.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Review: White Reaper "World's Best American Band" LP

White Reaper (credit: Jesse De Florio)
On April 7th, 2017, Louisville Garage Punk band White Reaper will release their 3rd LP, The World's Best American Band. They have 2 previous albums, 2014's very solid 6 track self titled EP, and 2015's White Reaper Does It Again that gained national attention for it's single Sheila.

Early reviews of White Reaper's newest effort claim a new direction for the band, abandoning their mod-punk sound for a more "power-pop" sound (both Consequence of Sound and Stereogum used the term in their reviews). While the band has expanded their sound from 2 minute garage punk gems drenched in distortion and keyboard hooks to 4 minute rompers with the inclusion of guitar solos, the core sound remains. 

The first single, Judy French, was released on January 26th on Polyvinyl, holds the classic Reaper sound, and is a high school crush-themed track that plays like a sister to Sheila, if she was enrolled at the school from Beverly Hills 90210.

Tracks like Little Silver Cross and The Stack find that sweet spot between early 70s punk rock and late 70s power pop such as Cheap Trick's perfectly weighted In Color LP placed in between 1977's punk influenced self titled album and 1978's power-ballad drenched Heaven Tonight LP.

The entire album is a soundtrack for the tragic teen experience that at once views the world as endless with possibilities and also painfully restrictive. Filled with cute girls with the best kind of secrets and days wasted on TV and daydreams of fame, The World's Best American band may be best suited for fans already acquainted with the band rather than a break-out move for world domination, but is a solid effort for a band deserving of their self imposed title, but has long struggled for acceptance in a world currently lacking an appreciation for straight up Rock N' Roll. Supporting Alvvays during a 2015 world tour, White Reaper was asked to leave the tour, sighting their wild and loud stage shows not being a good fit with the subdued reverb drenched electrona-pop headliner.

On the other hand, The World's Best American Band just might have enough of that sorely missed  classic rock n' roll braggadocio to grab the world's attention and remind us all why we fell in love with rock n' roll in the first place.  As frontman Tony Esposito claimed in a press release, “Just like Muhammad Ali was the greatest, you gotta say it out loud for people to believe it.”

Louisville's White Reaper will celebrate the release of their new album The World's Best American Band (out 4/7 on Polyvinyl Records) on April 8th at Zanzabar.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Art Auction for ACLU by Thaniel Ion Lee

Local artist Thaniel Ion Lee is auctioning off a print of his 36" x 36" drawing 'Black Mass' on Ebay in which 75% of the sale will be donated to the ACLU. The auction is up now and bidding starts at $1,000 and ends on April 13th.
Find the auction here.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Review: Planetary Overdrive Self-Titled LP

Today, March 31st, Louisville band Planetary Overdrive released their eponymous first album. Planetary Overdrive has been playing the Louisville area for about a year and consists of husband and wife Dan & Nat Sturdevant and drummer Cam Thomas.

The album plays as if Randy Bachman (from Bachman turner Overdrive) recorded an album with Billy Gibbons (of ZZ Top) backed by The Donnas. Which is to say, it is a straight up party record. The first track, Party Weekend, is a testament to Planetary Overdrive's skill at rocking the party.

Lead vocalist and expert axe shredder Dan Sturdevant said of the track "I had always wanted to write an anathematic song about the frame of mind and lifestyle that is Party Weekend. Going out with your friends and just having a good ole time no matter what kind of week you had." This Party Weekend theory was also the basis for Dan's brother Nate Sturdevant's legendary hot sauce (of the same name) used by New Wave Burritos.

The 8 song party continues with Burn Out, followed by Just Drive, a full on 80s dirty rock anthem aimed at taking that party on the road. There's no rhythm guitar here, and it's not missed, just two and half minutes of hair metal solos with gang style vocals by the Sturdevants.

The album takes a solemn turn with ballads Along The Road and Over The Years (complete with Sax solo by Travis Stanton) reminiscent of the more pensive Murder City Devil tracks, before returning to dirty party time with Tennessee SunriseGot It Made and Better In Red.
The 8 track self titled album was produced by the band and features Dan Sturdevant's shredding skills on every track backed by Cam on drums and Nat on bass while supplying backing vocals that are curiously soaked in reverb and dropped low in the mix. Personally I like my party upfront and would have preferred to have the entire band turned up to eleven, but as that is my only reservation with this album, I'd say Planetary Overdrive presented a fine first attempt at bringing the hot sauce to the party.

Planetary Overdrive self tittled album Release show with Adventure & Jet Black Orchid is tonight, March 31st, at Haymarket Whiskey Bar. 9pm. $5.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Interview: Tony Esposito of White Reaper

Tony Esposito is the front man of White Reaper, a Louisville based rock band that has a new album, The World's Best American Band, coming out on April 7th. They have 2 previous albums, 2014's Self titled, and 2015's White Reaper Does It Again 
Tony Esposito (center). Still shot from the White Reaper video COOL

37)   The new album, The World's Best American Band, has been touted as a markedly different sound than 2015’s garage punk hitter White Reaper Does It Again; Stereogum even describing it as a "power-pop radio-blaster.” Do you recognize a sonic difference in the new album as compared to your last effort, or 2014’s self-titled, and was this on purpose?

TE) The biggest difference is probably the intricacies in the melodies of each individual instrument, like, there's a lot more going on this time around. Where as, on the last record, guitar and bass were kinda married for the most part, this time they kinda dance around each other. 

37)   Personally I do not hear a wildly different sound as compared to your first 2 albums. The power pop angle is there but there are still the heavy slap-back vocals and catchy guitar licks that we have come to expect and love from the world’s best American band. 
The first single, Judy French, could practically be Sheila’s sister in terms of love drenched pop-punk gold. I think the difference might be something like the difference between Rocket From the Tombs and The Dead Boys. How do you feel about the forensic cataloging of your sound by the media and what were your influences while writing the new album?

TE) For whatever reason people love to use words like "garage" or "punk". I feel like people keep stacking those kinds of words on top of each other to try to describe a certain band or even a song, and it's just too much most of the time. We've always seen ourselves as a rock band, some might say we're a "garage rock" or "power pop" band, but we don't think too hard about it. 

As far as what we were listening to when we made the record, it was all stuff we were listening to on tour. A lot of classic rock radio kind of stuff, we listened to a ton of ozzy osbourne, Boston, Joe Walsh, things like that. Some of us didn't have any way to stream music back then, so a lot of times we would just try to find the best radio station wherever we were at the time. 

37)   There are definitely  ‘power-pop’ inspired tracks including Tell Me, and Crystal Pistol, that are reminiscent of Cheap Trick’s classic 1977 In Color. Some would say In Color is a natural progression of the punk scene evolving into power pop and pop rock, much like your earlier efforts being more garage punk slowly moving into a power punk sound.  Where do you see White Reaper going from here musically and what is on the horizon?

TE) Well, it's hard to say where we'll be or how we'll feel or what we'll like when we make the next record. Now that we've added another guitar to the band there's a lot of things we can try that we haven't thought about yet. 

37)   Some might see the title of the new album, The World's Best American Band, as an audacious claim, but others might completely agree while sighting a lack of straight-up American rock on the record shelves these days. The revamp of Torch, soul, and R&B genres causing Rock N’ roll to take a back seat at the moment. Do you worry that the climate might not be right for a rock album, or do you feel Rock N’ Roll is alive and well in the U.S.A?

TE) We're not worried. The people that need to hear this record will hear it. We're gonna continue to make rock n roll records no matter the weather, rain or shine. 

37)   What bands do you feel are keeping Rock N’ Roll alive, and where do you see American music going?

TE) Our buddies in Twin Peaks, NE-HI, Together Pangea, No Parents, bands like that who go and tour and play music everywhere they can. There's a lot of young kids too, in Louisville and in Nashville and all kinds of other places who are gonna start great bands and tour all over the place. Now that everybody can make any kind of music they want to, the massive amount of American music will continue to grow in a diverse and unpredictable way. 

Louisville's White Reaper will celebrate the release of their new album The World's Best American Band (out 4/7 on Polyvinyl Records)  on April 8th at Zanzabar.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Interview: Dan Sturdevant of Planetary Overdrive

Dan Sturdevant is 1/3 of the Power rock trio Planetary Overdrive with his wife, Nat Sturdevant, and drummer Cam Thomas. Their first album will be released this friday, March 31st. 

Party Time: (L) Dan (C) Nat (R) Cam

37) Planetary Overdrive consists of you, Cam Thomas, and your wife Nat Sturdevant. How long have you guys been together and how is the dynamic as a three piece and being married to one member? 

DS) We have been together for right at a year. It's great being able to work on songs with Nat here at our home studio and bounce ideas off each other just in daily life. We have been playing together for over a decade so we are certainly on the same wavelength. 

The three piece dynamic really keeps things tight. Cam is one of the best drummers I've had the pleasure playing with and we really clicked off the bat.  I personally have always been drawn to the power trio model, it allows everyone in the band to really weave their part in. 

37) Your brother, Nate Sturdevant, is the co-owner of New Wave Burritos, home of the Party Weekend Hot Sauce. Is there a connection with that and the first track 'Party Weekend' on the new self-titled album?

DS) Yeah! We love New Wave Burritos. Nate would yell Party Weekend at shows back when Nat, Nate and I were in the band Supertruck with our buddy Jordan. I had always wanted to write an anathematic song about the frame of mind and lifestyle that is Party Weekend. Going out with your friends and just having a good ole time no matter what kind of week you had.

New Wave's Party Weekend sauce and crispy chicharrones

37) Your older brothers Nate and Andy have been mainstays in the Louisville music scene for years, playing together in the early oughts. Is rock n' roll in the genes and what's it like coming up in the music scene on the heels of rock legend brothers? 

DS) No doubt about it. I have been playing guitar since '98 and some of my first jam sessions were with Nate. I remember going to a Glasspack and Red Sun show with Andy around that time. Andy, Nate and Nat and I did a one off band named One Term Senator in 2010 when Andy was in town for a week. Some of my first shows were Andy and Nate's band, The Blow Up in Japanese. After seeing them I got together with my high school buddies and we started our punk band, Hung Jury. 

37) Speaking of the Louisville music scene, what local bands inspired you growing up and are you listening to any contemporary local bands in particular?

DS) I was definitely inspired by The Blow Up in Japanese. I actually tagged along with Nate and one of the guitarists in the band, Dave Wolkensperg. I pulled some old junky guitar off the wall and started messing around with it upside down (I'm a lefty) and Dave walks over and asks if I'm interested in it. I said yeah I was and he put it on layaway for me right there. I mowed a few lawns and got back up there as soon as I could to take it home. 

When I was growing up I remember seeing Your Black Star and really being impressed with some of sounds coming out of Jeremy's amp. I also had the False Cathedrals cassette and really enjoyed Elliott. The Glasspack put on an awesome show and I was blown away by their energy. I saw Ayin more than a few times at the BRYCC house. 

Supertruck played many times with Adventure in the past and I am really stoked on playing with them again at our album release at Haymarket. Jordan Frost of Adventure mastered our album and really helped it come together. I just saw Powell for the first time this last Saturday at Galaxie, they had a great three piece feel, they're all brothers and they were tight. Kingslayer is an awesome power metal band with a ton of energy. I love Stagecoach Inferno's sound and their new album is fantastic. 

37) Where do you see Planetary Overdrive going into the future?

I'm really pumped on this first album. It's self produced and recorded and we plan on making many more. We had been working on it over the last few months and have many more songs to share with the world. Looking forward to playing many more rock and roll shows in the future and spreading the party! 

Planetary Overdrive self tittled album Release show with Adventure & Jet Black Orchid is this Friday March 31st at Haymarket Whiskey Bar. 9pm. $5.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

5/19-21 Moonshiner's Ball in Irvine KY

The 2017 Moonshiner's Ball will take place in the Red Lick Valley in Irvine, Kentucky on May 19 - 21 and will feature Quiet Hollers, Con Brio, Lydia Loveless, The Marcus King Band, Margaret Glaspy, Vandaveer, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Lil' Smokies, Jon Stickley Trio, That 1 Guy, Tyler Childers, Golden Dawn Arkestra, Dawg Yawp and The Blackfoot Gypsies, and others. Full line-up and ticket info at

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Review: Jaye Jayle & Emma Ruth Rundle 'The Time Between Us' EP

This week Sagent House released a split 12'' record between two of its most promising musicians, Emma Ruth Rundle and Evan Patterson (as Jaye Jayle). 

Founded in 2006 by Cathy Pellow of Atlantic Records, Sargent House just passed its decade mark and is making a push for mainstream recognition (Sargent House releases now being available at Target stores) as no longer a shadow project but a post Americana powerhouse for New Country Blues. And there may be no better flagship than the Rundle/Jaye Jayle split The Time Between Us.  
The album Begins with Rundle's 3 song offering which sounds as if The Dirty Three backed up Hope Sandoval in a post Fade Into You break up album. More subdued than Jaye Jayle's tracks, it still manages to instill the dark magic of everyday loneliness that Patterson delivers so effortlessly on the Jaye Jayle full length 'House Cricks And Other Excuses To Get Out' from last year. 

It's hard to imagine how Patterson could top the heavy hitting dark blues country from House Cricks, and yet he has raised the bar yet again and in only 3 short tracks. The first track "About Time You Came To Me" is a hurricane of Robert Johnson shadow lore and country blues guitar licks with a proto-Industrial backline of spring reverb and synth bleeps and bloops. The feeling is continued with "Unnecessarily" before culminating into the masterful track "Hope Faith County" with Patterson's no-nonsense vocal execution of the matter-of-fact truth about the world which is possibly that the sun may raise every morning, but half the day is always shrouded in darkness. Patterson's take on life's trials is something like  even the most lonely of hearts still beat. 

"Hope Faith County" melts Patterson's Country Blues style with a Ziggy Stardust infusion, blending fiddle and country western guitar with reverb drenched synth and a desert town storyline colliding with an invasion from space. The line ''Space Girl Have you Finally Found Me?" could very well be the response song to the first track "About Time You Came To Me". 

The Time Between Us is a must for anyone interested in an introduction to these fine musicians or the Sargent House label. It is a quick 6 songs, and without a single miss step, although one can't help but to wonder why a duet between the two was not included.

Jayle Jayle performs Feb. 25th at the Clifton Center with special guest Cher Von. 7PM Doors. 8PM Music. $10

Thursday, February 23, 2017

2/28 Fat Tuesday with King Kong at Monkey Wrench

Ethan Buckler's King Kong will be playing on Fat Tuesday at the Monkey Wrench. The price is $10 and includes Jambalaya and garlic bread.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Tonight! 2/22 No Bunny, Sick Velvet, Dick Titty Blood Punch at Kaiju

The gods of over-the-top Gutter Rock & Nu Glam collide tonight at Kaiju as No Bunny, Sick Velvet, and Dick Titty Blood Punch deck their finest glitter and sludge outfits and smash Kaiju straight to the ground.
$8 21+

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Photo Review: Louisville Is For Lovers Showcase at Guestroom Records (2/10/17)

 Photos by Marife I. Bautista

Travis Searle, John King, & Lisa Foster

Cody Johnson of Soft Self Portraits and Jake Philley running sound
Jamie A. Barnes
Jamie Barnes

Cody Johnson playing a skateboard (like a pro)

Mark Kramer of Tender Mercy

Ocifer: Christopher deRome, Jesse Beckloft,  Greg Drury, & Christian Ballentine.

Christopher deRome of Ocifer

Axel Cooper of New Mother
shutaro noguchi of New Mother
New Mother