Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Band Of The Week: E-1's

First off I want to wish my daughter Harper Lee a great 3rd birthday! She is a swell kid who makes every day an adventure. Kids are just awesome – you can’t wait to see what happens as they grow up.

I wanted to be a scientist when I grew up, and then when CB radios became the rage I decided I wanted to be a truck driver. I used to know the lyrics to Convoy by heart. I finally settled on becoming a writer. I may not be published yet, but I still have hopes that I can accomplish that goal soon. If I could learn the math and how to drive a big rig I might have a shot at becoming a mad scientist truck driving writer. That would be scary.

Speaking of scary things; be sure to check out Nashville horror rockers, the Creeping Cruds, at They’ve got a spooktacular website. They are supposed to show up this Friday night at the Sherlock Holmes Pub in Nashville as part of a benefit show for the family of Jack Hunter Daves who passed away recently. Jack was well known, but even better liked by folks all across Middle Tennessee. Jack was a member of this week's Band of the Week: The Exotic One’s or just the E-1’s to their die hard fans. The show begins at 8 PM and there is no cover charge. Share your memories of Jack, drink some beer, give what you can, and enjoy the monster rock.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Power Of The Features

As some of you may know, I’m a great admirer of the works of Charles and Ray Eames. There was a pleasant surprise in my inbox this morning from the Eames office.

“As we do every year on October 10th, the Eames Office will webcast the classic Eames film, Powers of Ten, for free all day. Please tell your friends and the kids in your life, co-workers and schools, the whole gamut. If you are on this list, you have probably seen the film so I don't need to tell you how great it is. But I think just sending the link powersoften. to a friend is a real fun thing to do.”

If you’ve never seen this short film, I highly recommend it. Charles and Ray were not only about furniture design.

Now to talk about the exponential powers of the Features: the Features are a band that began in the small town humdrum life of Sparta, Tennessee. It’s about the last place one would look for great rock and roll, but somehow the atmosphere generated these future Mtv buzz cuts.

Memories lay submerged deep within the bowl of Soulfish Stew, but it doesn’t take a very heavy spoon stirring to bring them to the surface. I saw the Features for the first time around 1994 at now legendary club, The ‘Boro on a double bill with the Roaries. They were both about to be or were already label mates at Spongebath Records. My friend, Andrew Conley, of the incredible group jack, had recommended I come see them describing them as a young Pavement from Sparta.

The Roaries opened and I really enjoyed their set. They were tuneful, but tough, and probably the closest I’ve ever come to seeing a Murfreesboro, Tennessee group play power pop. The Features seemed more studied in their set. I could see some Pavement in their music, but they seemed quirkier. I just couldn’t get why Andrew was such a true believer in them. I didn’t dislike them, but the spark that has since caught fire was dim to me then.

The Features kept playing and their sound got better. They kept the quirks and shined their songs to pristine new wave era sheen. They’ve toured and they’ve practiced and received acclaim in England. Spongebath Records bubbled under, but the Features never gave up. Their current major label release could make them stars. So if you want some honest art crafted with love by some cats that began in a town in the middle of nowhere, Tennessee, please help support them and buy their CD. Visit their website to learn all about them. The site includes song samples. No matter how big they get, I’ll bet I’ll still bump into their front man, Matt Pelham, at the Salvation Army thrift store and he’ll still be nice enough to say hi.

Another once “a small town rocker” story hits the Mercy Lounge in Nashville tonight as former Smithville, Tennessee homeboy Brian Malone leads the supercharged garage rock band the 45’s in what I’m sure will be a killer performance opening for the Drive By Truckers.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Comments Have Been Enabled

You can now make comments without registering so feel free to do so.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Mad Respect From Me

Rodney Dangerfield was a giant in the world of comedy and he will be missed by the entire Wally Bangs clan. I know I sure respected his talent and his ability to make me laugh. Standup comedy is not an easy skill to master so rent a Rodney film soon, laugh, and pay mad respects to a former tin man (no, this is not a reference to the movie, Tin Men - Dangerfield was an aluminum siding salesman at one time).

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots

Would anybody notice tonight if rock ‘em sock ‘em robots took the place of Dick Cheney and John Edwards? I suspect the debate might be more interesting.

VH1’s pushing hip hop nostalgia for the next couple of weeks which makes me wish I hadn’t sold my thrift store copy of Steven Hager’s Hip Hop: The Illustrated History of Break Dancing, Rap Music, and Graffiti for 20 bucks back in 1997 to Chad at Kid Robot. You better be taking care of that book. I’ve got a birthday coming up next month so maybe somebody will be nice and get me a copy of Style Wars to replace my bootleg VHS version. I’m not a fan of current hip hop, but I used to blast Public Enemy right alongside Black Flag. I still vividly remember when and where I purchased It Takes A Nation Of Millions: I was visiting Memphis with my mother and aunt in 1988 when they decided to go to Fraser and see if some old department store was still around. It anchored a strip mall that had a small record shop. I split to go to it. A little kid was breaking on the sidewalk to some loud rap record. I walked in and the owner said hello and then he told me where the rock and roll was located. I wanted to know where the rap albums were and once he showed me it came down to either Public Enemy or Run-DMC’s “Tougher Than Leather”. I think I made the right choice. What was really cool was that after I bought the album, the owner’s teenaged daughter came out and talked to me for awhile. I guess she thought I was a fairly hip white boy or something. Thanks to old school hip hop I was exposed to samples of some incredible music. When I worked at Phonoluxe Records in Nashville I tracked down many of the tunes that provided the foundation that hip hop was built upon. I still come upon jewels like the JB’s 45 “The Grunt” when I visit yard sales and flea markets, but if I really get to wanting to hear the real flavor of something I may have never heard I check out Dusty Groove's latest offerings. If you don’t want to buy online you always visit Grimey’s. They have a great selection of music across a wide spectrum and Mike’s a hell of a good guy, but his prices usually keep me from buying much.

If you need some guidance on the latest indie rock releases but not a lot of time, try I dig their format.

I watched Waking Life over the weekend and it reminded me that its animated star, Wiley Wiggins, has a great website that’s worth spending some of your time. His blog is interesting and I really like all of the great links to other sites. If his name sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because you’re remembering him as part of the cast (he played Mitch Kramer) of another tremendous Linklater film, Dazed and Confused. I’d wanted to see Waking Life for years and it didn’t disappoint. I liked the animation which was appropriate for a subject like dreaming. I thought it was similar to Linklater’s Slacker in the beginning due to the randomness of the characters and their philosophical narratives, but the accumulation of information by the end made the film stand out on its own, The nature of the information was intense; an examination of the universe and our place in the scheme of things. The concept of lucid dreaming was one of its themes and I found this place on the web: The lucidity institute. The reason I could relate was because I feel like I have very near lucid dreams. Another person’s dreams are a boring topic so I won’t go in depth about it. I will say that I visited Denver in my dreams last night (the surrounding mountains were incredible) and I’ve never been west of the Mississippi River in real life. The best site about Waking Life I’ve found is this one.......

Now to start a weekly feature here at Soulfish Stew: Wally’s Band of the Week.
This week I’m going with homeboys, The Shazam. If you dig the Who, if you couldn’t get enough of Cheap Trick during the late 70’s, if you think the Move were the most underrated British band of the 60’s, then get yourself to their website as fast as your fingers can click. They take all of those elements and combine it with their own original ideas to come up with the headiest rock and roll brew in all of the USA. One of the best things about the Shazam is that they are fans of rock and roll, and not the kind of fan that treats the music with kid gloves. They assault the music the same they use to assault the dollar record bins at Phonoluxe.

Friday, October 01, 2004

He's Not Dead Yet

Kerry did much better than I thought he would last night. I still think he's full of it - how does he propose to pay for all of his quick fix programs for starters - but he didn't come across as pedantic as I figured he would. Bush seemed tired and he stammered as usual, but he didn't make any major mistakes either. Kerry gets a slight edge in the debate for style but in my house we don't vote on style. He made one huge blunder that the GOP will refer to often when he said a US pre-emptive strike would only happen if it passed the "global test". Diplomacy is fine to a point, but at some juncture you better do what's necessary or nothing will ever be solved. Parents know that constant threats of punishment mean nothing to a child if you never actually go through with them. The debate should cheer the Kerry camp and give them some hope they can actually beat Bush, but unless George really stumbles in the next two debates I think Kerry's campaign is still hopeless. Maybe the GOP wanted Bush to give Kerry an easy time in the foreign policy debate just so it will surprise viewers when Bush does a better job then expected in the domestic debates. That's the kind of right wing conspiracy theory that the Democrats will use if it happens that way.