Moris Tepper was an artist before he joined the Magic Band, and he still continues to paint and sculpt as well as play music. For those of you who are within striking distance of Los Angeles you might think about dropping in to see his latest exhibition. It’s called “New Paintings and Sculptures of Moris Tepper”, and is at MJ Higgins Fine Art, Los Angeles from June 24th-August 5th, 2006 All this info and more can be found at Moris’s website.
Fast ‘N Bulbous, The Captain Beefheart Project, featuring Gary Lucas and Phillip Johnston, have just announced a short European tour. Friday, Nov. 17th BimHuis, Amsterdam, Holland Saturday, Nov. 18th Taktlos Festival, Bern, Switzerland Tuesday, Nov. 21st Porgy and Bess, Vienna, Austria Thursday, Nov. 23rd Cankarjev Dom, Ljubljana, Slovenia I’ll post more information here as I receive it. Update: 6 August 2006 Two London dates now added to the Fast ‘N’ Bulbous tour Wednesday, Nov. 15th Pizza on the Park, London Thursday, Nov. 16th Pizza on the Park, London Fast ‘N’ Bulbous, The Captain Beefheart Project featuring Gary Lucas and Phillip Johnston, with Richard Dworkin, Joe
The Magic Band have been invited to broadcast live on Swedish TV4’s morning show on Tuesday 16th May. John French will be interviewed and the band will play two Captain Beefheart numbers. These will be made available on the net at TV4’s website shortly after the broadcast. The performance should be available there for several months. This TV appearance completes the schedule for the sadly curtailed Magic Band tour. The Danish concert was cancelled today while the Norwegian concert was cancelled about three weeks ago. Update: Tuesday 16th May The clips of The Magic Band live on Swedish television this morning are now archived at
Art Tripp has spoken exclusively to the Radar Station about his time in the Magic Band. From the astounding Lick My Decals Off Baby to the lacklustre Unconditionally Guaranteed, to the shortlived Mallard and his return for Shiny Beast Art offers a fascinating insight into the the recording of these albums and tells stories of life on the road and playing live. Read the full interview.
The second part of Derek Laskie’s interview with Herb Bermann, legendary writing partner of Don Van Vliet in the early days of the Magic Band is now available and is just as fascinating as part one. At one point Herb expresses his annoyance with something written about him in Mike Barnes’ biography of Don Van Vliet. I’m puzzled by his suggestion that Barnes should “do his homework” – I’d like to stress on the writer’s behalf that this is clearly a very well researched biography. Herb Bermann features only very briefly in the story which, despite his momentous contribution to one of my all time
Booking has just opened in Aarhus, one of the venues on The Magic Band’s 2006 Scandinavian tour. John French and Denny Walley, who are in the present line-up, were also members of The Magic Band when they toured Scandinavia in 1975 – which appears to be the last time that The Magic Band played in Scandinavia. More venues are expected to start booking very soon. The schedule is currently as follows, although additions and alterations are always possible. Tuesday, May 16th TV4, Sweden, live broadcast Friday, May 19th Opera House, Umeå, Sweden Saturday, May 20th Jazzclub Fasching, Stockholm, Sweden Sunday, May 21st Aarhus, Denmark CANCELLED
‘Wood’, the first new Mystery Band CD for ten years, will be released on the Poo-Bah Record Label on March 28th. Former Magic Band member Rick Snyder has been playing with The Mystery Band since 1988. The Mystery Band is led by the man responsible for arranging Rick Snyder’s audition with Captain Beefheart, Ace Farren Ford. Rick Snyder’s contemporary in The Magic Band, Moris Tepper, co-wrote one of the songs on the album, ‘Jesus On The Radio’, with Mystery Band member Gary Riley. Further information and generous helpings of soundbites are available at The Mystery Band ‘Wood’ page
A recording of The Magic Band playing Dropout Boogie has been released on a CD compliled by Matt Groening, All Tomorrow’s Parties Vol.3.1. (ATPRCD16) Recorded in concert during a lunar eclipse over Long Beach California in 2003, this track has not previously been made available. Other artists on the album include Deerhoof, Elliot Smith and Iggy and the Stooges. Sonic Youth perform the Simpson’s Theme and a Matt Groening poster is included in the package.
Michael Traylor, the Magic Band drummer, has sent a link to his new website. If, like me, you have difficulty opening http://www.swampmonk.com/ then try this link instead http://www.swampmonk.com/home.html Check out his picture gallery for some photographs of The Magic Band on tour. Update (Sept 2012): this site now seems to be defunct
On Friday 6 January from 22:15 to 23:30 BBC Radio 3’s show Mixing It features alternative music in Los Angeles. The presenters Mark Russell and Robert Sandall meet film composer Jon Brion, hip hop producer Madlib, guitarist Nels Cline, sound artist Akira Rabelais, and drummer John French. You can listen to the programme at the Mixing It homepage for one week after the broadcast.
I recently received a message from John Drumbo French to update me on progress with his new recordings: So here Rockette and I are at Proper Record’s wonderful new studio recording my new CD “City of Refuge” which is basically a Magic Band influenced compilation of music I’ve put together over the last year and a half. I’m listening to Rockette put a bass line on a song called “Maybe That’ll Teach Ya” which is based loosely on a jam that was done by Don, Doug Moon, and myself. I used the Moon riff and Don’s line “Maybe That’ll Teach Ya” and wrote a whole
An article by Gerry Fialka in Venice Paper caught my attention. It described a party held in the Canals at Venice, California to raise funds for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. In the band was, “Leon Rubenhold, who had played with Captain Beefheart and was ripping up guitar on stage.” Leon Rubenhold has had a long and distinguished career in the music business, including work with Lowell George, Wilson Pickett and The Four Tops, but this was the first I had read about him playing with Captain Beefheart. I wrote and asked him to tell me all about it. Leon’s reply follows: Beefheart Stint My
Hats were an important part of the appearance of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band. There were probably dozens of hats worn on stage and in photo-shoots over the years. Don Van Vliet even named the guitarist Richard Snyder after a hat. The most famous hat, the one Don wore on the cover of Trout Mask Replica, was allegedly last seen in the possession of a Jethro Tull band member. Even today, Magic Band guitarist, Beefheart manager, and reader of Beefheart poetry, Gary Lucas, is rarely seen on stage without a hat. In a rare moment of bare-headedness Gary has agreed to donate his hat
Doug Moon, an early Magic Band stalwart, returns to one of Don Van Vliet’s old stamping-grounds on November 5th when he performs at the Desert Song Music Festival at Antelope Valley College in Lancaster CA. Look forward to Doug’s fine blues guitar and his bluegrass banjo playing. As it is a song festival I presume he’ll be singing as well. The evening begins at 6.00pm and the suggested donation is $10.
Gary Lucas continues to be one of the most hard-working and prolific members of the various Magic Bands. Gary’s calendar shows him to be currently performing in Europe. Tonight, 21st September, he’s performing in Amsterdam and the show will be broadcast and webcast live at VPRO. Audiences in Bristol and Lancaster this weekend get a rare chance to see Gary perform his score to a 1920 film. The Golem is based on the legend of an historical 16th century rabbi who created a man out of clay to save the Jewish community of Prague from annihilation. Apparently this is a superb example of the early
For every one who appreciates the Hammond Organ playing of Jimmy Smith, Ian McLagan or John Medeski there are plenty more for whom the Hammond Organ represents middle of the road wallpaper music and serially issued LP compilations of teutonic pop drone. Imagine if a Klaus Wunderlich or a James Last had ever got round to covering Captain Beefheart and smoothing out his edges. I suppose that collectors would now be paying very silly money for cheesy LPs with titles like Hammond Party of Special Things To Do, Hammond Blows Its Stacks Vol 3, or possibly Orange Claw Hammond. Even Acid Jazz, latter-day home to
I received a very interesting series of messages a short while ago from Micheal Smotherman, one-time member of the “tragic” era Magic Band. This is what he had to say: As a card carrying former member of the Tragic Band, I would like to put straight a few things that have become gospel somehow, just for the hell of it. I know that it is difficult to fly in the face of legend, but for anyone interested in the truth, here goes. First of all, the original Magic Band (Zoot Horn Rollo, Drumbo, et.al) did not quit en-masse “a few days before an important tour.”