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 wholeRead More →

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 MyRead More →

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 hatRead More →

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.Read More →

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 earlyRead More →

Jimmy Caravan

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 toRead More →

Micheal Smotherman

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.”Read More →