Some great news just in from Sundazed Records (thanks to Andy Bean for passing it on): *LIVE RECORDING OF THE LEGENDARY AND INNOVATIVE MAGIC BAND’S 2005 REUNION! Famously forged in a cauldron of intense artistic pressure, the Magic Band emerged as a group unlike any other in popular music. Under the tenacious tutelage of Don Van Vliet, better known as Captain Beefheart, this strikingly innovative unit took their music to unexplored places, creating a musical language all their own. Throughout the band’s chaotic history with Beefheart, drummer John “Drumbo” French served as the chief translator, deciphering the Captain’s often cryptic instructions into a discernable direction
John French has just confirmed these dates for a Magic Band tour at the end of the year: Wednesday 30 November – The Scala, London Friday 2 December – Button Factory, Dublin Saturday 3 December – The Kazimier, Liverpool Sunday 4 December – All Tomorrows Parties, Minehead Monday 5 December – The Pavilion, Falmouth Wednesday 7 December – The Rescue Rooms, Nottingham Thursday 8 December – The Irish Centre, Leeds
If you don’t get the chance to visit the exhibition – INK – of Victor Hayden (aka The Mascara Snake) artworks at the East Austin Art Gallery in Texas then you can get a look at some of them which are currently being sold on ebay by the gallery. Here’s the series of recent ink drawings being sold at a reasonable price and here’s some older more elaborate stuff for those with deeper pockets I blogged about this rare exhibition of Victor’s work last month.
Friday 8 April at the Knitting Factory Brooklyn. Featuring Gary Lucas “Ice Cream for Crow” video clip producer (and uncredited director) Ken Schreiber UK journalist Vivien Goldman CultureCatch.com’s Dusty Wright Fireparty’s own Brainpang avant-punk icon Genesis Breyer P-Orridge Film Society of Lincoln Center director Richard Pena Ramones/Iggy Pop manager Danny Fields vocalist Felice Rosser journalist Billy Altman pundit Byron Coley music and film critic Glenn Kenny poet Bob Holman and more Full info, tickets, etc at The Knit. Hurry! It’s tonight!
Ant-Bee, aka Billy James, has a new cd out. It’s called Electronic Church Muzik on Barking Moondog Records and includes guest appearances from many notable musicians. Former Magic Band members Bill Harkleroad (Zoot Horn Rollo), Mark Boston (Rockette Morton) and Jimmy Carl Black (Indian Ink) all make an appearance. Other well-known names include Jan Akkerman (Focus), Peter Banks (Yes/Flash), Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth (Gong), Michael Bruce (Alice Cooper), Napoleon Murphy Brock (Zappa), Don Preston, Bunk Gardner, Buzz Gardner, Motorhead (Mothers of Invention), Moogy Klingman (Todd Rundgren’s Utopia). Check out these videos: ‘Child of the Moon’ by Ant-Bee (1997) ‘The Girl With The Stars In
Here’s a rare event … Victor Hayden, aka The Mascara Snake, has an exhibition celebrating his work from the past 30 years. There is also an opportunity for the first time to buy one of the 150 drawings he has decided to let go for $150. Venue: East Austin Art Gallery 2235 East 6th Street Unit 105 Austin, TX 78702 Date: 16 March through April 2011 The opening night event, which Victor will be attending, is on 16 March and starts at 7pm (until 12am). Beer and wine will be served. A documentary is currently being filmed about Victor at the same time. In the
While touring in the UK in 1975, there was a concert we played in a medium sized hall somewhere lost in time, where a bus brought in a group of about 16 wheelchair-bound individuals. After the concert ended, we were headed for our bus when Don stopped and watched as the handicapped individuals were tediously loaded one by one onto their bus. Our bus driver, a bit impatient, called out that we could go, but Don refused to budge. “I’m not leaving until they do. They had the patience to go through all this trouble to come see me, and I’m going to show them
We were very sorry to learn that Don Van Vliet passed away on Friday 17 December 2010 due to complications arising from multiple sclerosis. Tributes from friends, Magic Band members and fans have come thick and fast. Here are a few of them on beefheart.com and beyond: Steve’s initial beefheart.com post: Don Van Vliet 1941-2010 including many of your tributes My beefheart.com post: Don Van Vliet 1941-2010 including many of your tributes Art Tripp’s tribute to Don Bill Harkleroad’s tribute to Don John French’s tribute to Don – an absolutely lovely read, not to be missed Gary Lucas’s tribute to Don from The Wall Street
My friend Art Tripp nailed it head to toe and I just can’t say it any better. Time erased all the injustices and I am left with all the incredible lessons learned. Such a rare and tremendously creative talent. I have to say it has taken me many years to recognize how truly rare a person he was. You have to be here awhile, or at least I did, to know Don Vliet’s don’t just happen. Don’s gone but look what he left us. Don’s gone and we’re next. Bill Harkleroad 19 December 2010
In 1984 Don and I had renewed our friendship for many years in north California after we’d both left the music biz. Our homes were only about a mile apart. He came to my office periodically for chiropractic treatment, and we’d also get together frequently just for laughs. In the late 1980’s he seemed to be developing some neurological symptoms which were resistant to cure from chiropractic adjustments. I told Don and Jan that he needed a consultation with a neurologist. He refused to go, and Jan was unable to convince him. Around 1992 he and I had a falling out. As a result, I
Gary Lucas is bringing his Beefheart Symposium to Los Angeles two days before Don’s 70th birthday. During the symposium Gary will show rare footage of the band live, play unreleased tracks, and project slides of Don’s paintings and drawings, discuss the history of the group and many of the great musicians who came through the ranks of The Magic Band, and also illustrate Don’s quirky and idiosyncratic methodologies and techniques on his guitar. So at 8pm, 13 January 2011 try to join Gary and ‘special guests’ at The Echoplex 1154 Glendale Boulevard Los Angeles 90026 Tickets: Seating – $15 adv; $17 dos / Standing –
Gary Lucas will be in London on Sunday 21 November to perform the UK premier of his new solo guitar score accompanying the 1931 Spanish-language “Dracula” at Queen Elizabeth Hall as part of the London Jazz Festival. This event was just immortalized in a cartoon strip by the legendary Savage Pencil in the new issue of The Wire magazine: Click picture for large view. From The Wire issue 319 September 2010; reproduced by permission. More info about this event is available at Gary’s website, including reviews for the recent US premier of this show. Many thanks to Gary for the info.
Charlie Rosenkranz, the current owner of the Woodland Hills “Trout House” where the Magic Band lived and conceived Trout Mask Replica, emailed me today to say the house is on the market again. You can see the seller’s info online and it has some great interior shots which I’ve never seen before. My favourite is this detail of one of the doors: If you have a spare $325,000 and your enthusiasm for Trout Mask Replica knows no bounds, this would be an unbeatable bit of memorabilia. Charlie writes: It’s up for sale. I injured myself several months ago and haven’t been able to work or
Michael Traylor, who shared the drum stool with John French during the recent Magic Band reunion tours, is featured in the latest issue of the US-based Classic Drummer Magazine. In an article entitled Artistic Adventurer Michael discusses the contrasting sytles of playing Beefheart Music with the Magic Band and playing with pop/rocker Tommy Tutone. Check the Classic Drummer website for more about the magazine.
Friday 17 September 7.30pm Transcender: Najma Akhtar & Gary Lucas + Parvathy Baul Tickets £15/20 Produced by the Barbican Concert at LSO St Luke’s, 161 Old Street London EC1V 9NG Two very different, but equally transporting, takes on Indian vocal traditions. Najma Akhtar’s music-making springs from a love affair with the Ghazal tradition of South Asian mystical poetry: here she teams up with legendary rock and blues guitarist Gary Lucas. Parvathy Baul is a young performer of ancient and hypnotic Baul songs. Akhtar has been at the forefront of the World Music scene for the last two decades. Born and raised in England she has
Film curator, writer and lecturer, Gerry Fialka, is interviewing John French as part of his ongoing series of MESS (Media Ecology Soul Salon) interviews: Echo Park Film Center 1200 N Alvarado St. (at Sunset Blvd.) Los Angeles Saturday 9 October 2010, starts 7pm Tickets: $5 The evening begins with a showing of the Crows Milk documentary about the Magic Band reunion. At 8pm Gerry will be talking to John French. This will be followed by the showing of the film of the 2003 Shepherds Bush show plus some of John’s home movies of Don. John will also be signing copies of his book. Sounds like
Here are some golden birdies, bits, bobs and doodads for your delectation: Moris Tepper has a new CD out called A Singer Called Shotgun Throat, a title suggested by Don apparently. Full details can be found on Moris’s website. For those manic collectors out there I’ve been trying to document all the Beefheart titles available as flexi discs. These are strange releases emanating from Russia and Poland. Check out what I’ve found so far on this Russian flexi discs page. If you’ve got others please let me know. YouTube continues to be a great source for hearing attempts at Beefheart covers. Here’s a selection of
Here’s a treat if you can make it to: The Magic Room Gallery 155 North Beacon Street, Brighton, Massachusetts 02135 On Friday 10 September 2010 – 8pm until 11.30pm Tickets: $20 Gary Lucas will be presenting a Captain Beefheart Symposium where he will will give a lecture and musical demonstration devoted to his mentor and childhood hero Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart. This will involve Gary showing rare video footage of the man and the band, delve into his complex artistic oeuvre as both a composer — by performing some of his fiendishly difficult solo guitar compositions live — and as a painter by
A new Tom Waits documentary DVD “Under The Influence” features interviews with John French (Magic Band drummer, arranger, latter-day front man and biographer). Produced by Chrome Dreams (who also made Captain Beefheart Under Review a few years back) the DVD dissects Waits’ varied influences and I think we can guess why Captain Beefheart’s right hand man was enlisted to help tell part of the story. Intriguingly there is an extra short on the DVD called “John French Spills The Beans” – perhaps just an extended interview. If you have any more info please do let me know or post it below.
Stephen Toman has just got in touch to alert me to his recent John “Drumbo” French interview which has just been published online. Don’t miss it: lots of John’s thoughts about the Magic Band, the book, the reunion and far beyond. Many thanks, Stephen. John French’s book, Beefheart Through The Eyes Of Magic is available now from Amazon and elsewhere, don’t forget to buy your copy.