During the filming of The Magic Band DVD Mark Boston (Rockette Morton) remarked that the music of Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band was, “like bluegrass only weirder”. Mark Boston’s potential epithet sprang into my head last night when I read an article by Danny Barnes, the former Bad Livers frontman, and guitarist and banjo-player of blue-grass, alt-rock-country, jazz-frisell, and various other genres. In his essay, Danny describes his take on what Don Van Vliet achieved in his recording of Trout Mask Replica. Danny is particularly interested in Captain Beefheart’s synthesis of different musical and sonic elements and he points out some potentially exciting musicalRead More →

Unknown painting from Zigzag Wandering exhibition 7

Don Van Vliet’s first Italian exhibition opened last night in Palermo, Sicily. The show, ‘Zig Zag Wandering‘, is being held at Galleria dell’Arco until 15 February 2008. Four reproductions of pictures from the exhibition are shown at Galleria dell’Arco’s website. Galleria dell’Arco Via Siracusa 9 Palermo Tel / fax +39091 6261234 www.dearco.it info@dearco.it Thanks to Roberto for mailing me with news of this show.  Read More →

Frank Freeman plaque

Frank Freeman’s Dancing Club in Kidderminster was one of the venues to which John Peel drove Captain Beefheart during his British tour in 1968. Recordings from this venue can be heard on the Grow Fins boxed set. Get Your Kicks on the A456 by John Combe is a book about the venue and the acts which appeared there. It is available online only, in pdf format, from http://www.kidderocks.com/. In 2006 a blue plaque to Frank Freeman (pictured) was set up at the location of his club in Mill Street. Among those paying homage at the unveiling was Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant, whose BandRead More →

Don lights a candle

Everyone here at The Radar Station wishes Don Van Vliet a very happy birthday today. We hope that visitors to this website will join us in raising a glass of Green Chartreuse, or some other luxurious beverage, in honour of an artist who continues to astound and impress, even in his retirement. Many happy returns, Don Van Vliet.Read More →

Wild Rumpus

Gary Lucas wrote in with news of a splendid review of his new 12″ vinyl leftfield dance single ‘Purple Somersault’. The record is released under the name Wild Rumpus and also features DJ Cosmo. Kris Needs, writing at DMC Update.com described the track as: “….. a funked groove set up then sand-blasted by Gary’s guitar, which manages to recall anyone from Link Wray to the Misunderstood with a melody recalling Hendrix’s ‘Third Stone From The Sun’ ….. some of the most devastatingly-effective guitar pyrotechnics heard all year ….. the Beefheart connection rears in club-world and it is indeed magical.” Gary told me a little aboutRead More →

Trout Mask Replica promo pack These poems by Don Van Vliet are from a Trout Mask Replica promo pack which was recently auctioned at eBay. I am uncertain whether there was originally a poem for John French as well, but as he was famously uncredited on the album this seems unlikely. Thanks to Gary L. for alerting me to these. Uncut manipulation Uncut magazine for November 2007 has a five page article about, “the men who made Trout Mask Replica and survived. Just…” John French, Bill Harkleroad, Mark Boston and Gary Marker were interviewed by David Cavanagh who paints a lurid picture of the making ofRead More →

Don Van Vliet Works On Paper

An exhibition entitled ‘Don Van Vliet Works On Paper‘ runs 27 October 2007 – 1 December 2007 at David Kordansky Gallery in Los Angeles. The exhibition is organized in collaboration with Michael Werner Gallery and includes Van Vliet works from the mid-1980s to the early 90s. The opening reception will be held on Saturday, October 27th from 6 to 9 pm. Further information can be found at David Kordansky Gallery’s website. David Kordansky Gallery, 510 Bernard Street, Los Angeles, CA. 90012 Tel. 323-222-1482 Fax. 323-227-7933Read More →

In June of 2007 I read a plug for “I Wanna Find Me A Woman That’ll Hold My Big Toe Till I Have To Go” in Kyle Gann’s blog. The composer Art Jarvinen had used Don Van Vliet’s composition to illustrate an article which he had written about metametrics. This aroused my interest because it didn’t strike me that Captain Beefheart was a normal point of reference in the contemporary new classical music or conservatoire world. My feeling was, that in that milieu, Beefheart was more of a footnote than an example. If he was used as an example, wouldn’t he exemplify a particular professor’sRead More →

Had an email from Grant who plays in a Canadian band called The Surfdusters, and does a radio show on CJSF Radio. This Tuesday, August the 14th, he’s doing a show of Captain Beefheart covers from various singles and compilations. It’s on CJSF from 5:00 to 7:00 PM, Pacific time – listen if you can. I’ll give it a listen if I can convert Pacific time to British Summer Time…Read More →

If you went to the 1972 Bickershaw festival you probably have great memories of it. There were some excellent bands playing and the Beefheart set was supposed to have been particularly inspiring. For years an audience recording of the performance has been circulating and despite it’s sound quality failings you can still hear that the band were on top form. This recording has now been released commercially by Ozit. What do we think of it … what do you think? Read the full reviewRead More →

Scary Go Round Trout Extract

Scary Go Round, John Allison’s long-running internet comic strip, has this week turned its attention to The Captain Beefheart Story. A warning caption states that this is a difficult and complex yarn and is not for weak minds. How true this is. The notorious deal made between Don, Frank Zappa and the cat-starved Arabs is described in more detail than I have ever encountered, while the quotations from Captain Beefheart’s lyrics can only have been sourced from previously unheard out-takes in the Zappa vaults. All that being as it might or might not be, this is a compelling account of a story which all tooRead More →

Zappa Strasse

According to Gary Lucas in a 1996 interview for Seconds magazine, Frank Zappa and Don Van Vliet’s last meeting was embarassing and distressing. Frank owned the rights to Bat Chain Puller, tracks from which Don wanted to use on Ice Cream for Crow. After some fruitless negotiation Don and Gary decided to confront Zappa face-to-face and ask for the use of the material. Zappa refused, saying, “Unless you buy all the masters back from me, it’s not worth it for me to split up the set. It won’t be worth that much out there in Beefheart-land.” Frank Zappa is generally acknowledged to have been aRead More →

Captain Beefheart and Paris Hilton

Paris Hilton & Captain Beefheart, a new record by Knights of Infinite Resignation was released this week on the Next Best Records label. The record was inspired by this picture of Paris Hilton holding a copy of Trout Mask Replica which you may remember we mentioned about a year ago. Since that time the image has been reproduced at countless websites and blogs. Screenshots of some of these reproductions were even used in a video. The photograph has been a source of much wonder and speculation, astonishment and disbelief, and not least mirth and dismay. Could Paris Hilton, icon of everything shallow, really appreciate theRead More →

A number of Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa albums and CDs have been donated for a charity raffle and signed by some of the musicians who recorded them. The raffle is in aid of the Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF). Kitty Tripp, organiser of the raffle, says that among those who have donated so far are John French (Drumbo), Mark Boston (Rockette Morton), Cal Schenkel, Bill Harkleroad (Zoot Horn Rollo), Denny Walley, Roy Estrada (Orejón), Jimmy Carl Black, Ed Mann and, of course, Art Tripp (Ed Marimba himself). There is no quality grading of the items to be won, so expect vinyl to be well playedRead More →

The Idler: Lie Back and Protest

The latest edition of The Idler magazine contains a nice piece about Captain Beefheart accompanying a series of quotes from the man himself. It’s only a smallish piece and many of the quotes may already be familiar to you, so just consider this a flimsy excuse to plug one of my favourite things. The Idler is undoubtedly the finest publication I have ever had the pleasure to read. Published approximately twice a year in colourful nice-smelling A5 soft-back book format it extols the virtues, pleasures and techniques of a more contemplative, less pointless existence. I’ve been an avid reader for almost all of my adultRead More →

Anton Kern Gallery, NY

A new exhibition of 15 of Don Van Vliet’s paintings opens today and runs until 6 July at the Anton Kern Gallery in New York. There is a catalogue of the exhibition and it includes a preface by Polly Harvey. More information, a press release and nine paintings from the exhibition can be viewed at the Anton Kern Gallery website along with a press release. How I would love to attend – if you make it to the exhibition please do let us all know by posting a report to this blog.Read More →

Hobo

Several home-made versions of Captain Beefheart numbers have been posted at nearby websites in the past few days. EvilFactman’s work in progress, Big Dummy, is at iCompositions. The vocals are not so far included. Matt LeGroulx’s versions of Hobo Chang Ba, Hot Head and One Red Rose That I Mean along with a Sugar ‘N Spikes (which is also waiting for its vocal track) are at his MySpace page. Matt says that Rockette Morton helped him out with cds of the individual guitar, bass and drum parts to make it easier for him to figure them out.Read More →

500 dollar reward

Sandy Dillon has previously covered at least a couple of Don Van Vliet’s compositions. Now, the cheeky Beefheart botherer has hijacked Don’s name to promote a programme of “Blues 20s/30s style” which she is performing with Ed Harcourt, among others, at a Dashiell Hammett night in London next month. Click on the picture for full details.Read More →

A previously unheard two and a half hour audio tape of Don Van Vliet conducting a press conference to promote Ice Cream For Crow is about to be to released at Houseplant Picture Studios website. The tape was recorded by Kurt Benbenek in Los Angeles in 1982 for his college newspaper. About twenty other student newspaper representatives were present during the four hour meeting. Don did not like the fluorescent lighting in the room so Kurt remembers that most of the conference took place in the dark. Subjects discussed include pygmies, tumbleweeds, Ronald Reagan and lack of sleep. Kurt wrote to me: I was literallyRead More →

Beefheart baseball

This photograph of a baseball signed by Don Van Vliet in 1982 at a press conference he held to promote Ice Cream For Crow replaces my previous post here. That post concerned the May release of audio from the press conference. The website owner who owns the tape of the press conference has been so overwhelmed by applications from visitors here that he has asked me to remove the name of his website and links to it. He wrote today – we checked our email this morning and we simply can’t handle that many potential downloads. Over-use penalties (with our host) would break us financially.Read More →