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.
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.
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 literally
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.
Lewis Taylor’s slightly sought-after version of Trout Mask Replica has hitherto been available on the web only in dribs and drabs . This weekend it is downloadable in its entirety, along with a mish-mash of other Lewis Taylor rarities at Okayplayer. [now removed] Lewis Taylor retired from the music industry in 2006. Findlay Brown, on the other hand, released his first recordings in 2006. One of the A-sides of his second single was the Captain Beefheart song ‘I’m Glad’. The Guardian described his live rendition of this song as a “luminous ballad“, while The Times heard it as “Johnny Cash-borrowing“. I’m Glad is downloadable at
Lick My Decals Off, Baby is simply not a composition which readily lends itself to being performed. So when I found Puttanesca’s video of one of their Lick My Decals Off, Baby rehearsals at their MySpace page I wrote to ask them to send me all sorts of obsessively interesting details about it. Weba Garretson, the group’s vocalist, promptly responded with an an engaging account of their work on the piece and included a scan of part of the transcription they used (click on the image for a readable version). [wp_quote]Decals is an evolving process for us. The version on the CD is similar to
We received a mail from Michael Traylor about a new project which involves Mark Boston. Here it is: [wp_quote]Just a note to let you know that Rockette and I have been working on a studio CD with a blues artist name Roger “Hurricane” Wilson….the CD should be released some time in early summer.. Rockette played bass and I played drums and am producing the project…one notable point is that we are doing a new arrangement of Sure Nuff and Yes I Do…there is some fun material such as a version of Exodus originally recorded by the Ventures…stay tuned for updates and links to the CD
Shiny Beasts is a compliation of the early work of acclaimed comic book artist Rick Veitch. The title is taken from Rick’s 1981 creation, Shiny Beast, which according to Stephen Bissette in his MYRANT page is more than just a nod to Captain Beefheart. Stephen describes at some length just what it is about Captain Beefheart which inspires Rick Veitch and himself. Many of us fondly remember Stephen Bissette’s work Big Eyed Beans From Venus which included lettering by Rick Veitch. Mike Lorah’s interview with Rick Veitch about Shiny Beasts is available at newsarama.com. Shiny Beasts will be published in April.
Here’s a photograph of the Van Vliet Flower Group’s tour waggon parked up at one of northern Englands newest music venues, the Don Van Vliet Lounge (click on the pictures for larger images). Sadly, the Van Vliet Flower Group is a multinational wholesaler of flowers and is not yet the name of a Captain Beefheart tribute band. The Don Van Vliet Lounge is just one of a suite of rehearsal rooms named after old musicians at the newly opened Rock and Roll Circus in Leeds.
Is this the earliest surviving Captain Beefheart poster? The hand-painted graphic work on poster paper (12″x18″) was made to advertise a Captain Beefheart concert at San Fernando Valley State College in May 1965. Victor Hayden, the artist responsible, was later to join The Magic Band as The Mascara Snake. Pamela Des Barres says that she removed the poster from the wall of Cleveland High School and has recently found it in her attic. It is now for sale at eBay.
Don is 66 today and so we would like to wish him felicitations, congratulations and commendations for many happy and healthy returns. All of us here at beefheart.com would like to express our thanks to Don for his great art which will never be forgotten as long as there’s a fly’s eye to see it with. Our smiles are most certainly stuck. If you need a soundtrack for your evening, there can be only one choice – break out the urine coloured lights and sing along to “Happy Birthday.”
I’ve received a note from Mike Bugbee who provided us with his excellent eye-witness account of Don and Jan’s wedding a few years ago. He’s got a book coming out soon (unrelated to the wedding) and Michael Bugbee is the author of a soon-to-be-published novel, Notes from Hotel Misterioso, from Mline Books. The official publication date is April 1, 2007, but beginning in January 2007 prepublication copies are available through www.mlinebooks.com, $14.95 U.S. or $17.95 Canadian plus shipping. Inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you haven’t read Mike’s wedding account yet, you really should – it is one of my very favourite items here on beefheart.com and
Herb Bermann, the legendary poet who wrote most of Captain Beefheart’s Safe As Milk lyrics (and some more) appears on a new DVD recently recorded at a poetry reading at Beyond Baroque. Good-Bye to the Rodeo Grounds is a sort of momento of one of the last artist communities in Los Angeles, evicted to make way for a state park. In his interview for this website Herb talked about this, and of course about his involvement with Captain Beefheart. The DVD is available from Custom Flix or Amazon. There are several excerpts from it at YouTube, including an 8 minute sequence of Herb Bermann reading
Nigel Godrich, producer of Radiohead, Travis and Beck, among others, has become nostalgic for music videos as he remembers them. Curiously enough, his memory of music videos doesn’t seem to include the idea that music videos were always given away for free. So it is that if you would like to watch Nigel’s latest wheeze, From The Basement [now removed], an internet only music video source, you’ll have to pay for it. National Public Radio carries a story about this project. In From The Basement #1, Thom Yorke previews the new Radiohead album, The White Stripes perform Party Of Special Things To Do one more time,
Author Kevin Courrier is currently completing a book about Trout Mask Replica which should be published later this year. The book will investigate some possible sources for the ideas which were realised in the making of the album. According to Continuum, the publisher, these include Walt Whitman, Gregory Corso, Charley Patton, Howlin’ Wolf, Ornette Coleman and Richard Berry and the Coasters. Continuum’s website says that this book will illustrate, “how Trout Mask Replica, far from being an arcane specimen of the avant-garde, was instead a defiantly original declaration of the American imagination.” Kevin’s Courrier’s previous books were about Randy Newman and Frank Zappa. Publication date
There’s a Captain Beefheart Tribute event happening in Sydney, Australia on January 28th when local movers and shakers The Captain’s Package, MC Jay Katz, Rica Tetas and last, but not with least words in their name, A Squid Eating Dough In A Polyethelene Bag Is Fast And Bulbous appear on stage at The Annandale Hotel.
“Captain Beefheart is the shingle that gave me shingles,” complains Don Van Vliet in Lars Movin’s gentle evocation of Don’s life and circumstances since he became a full-time painter. “It makes me itch to think of myself as Captain Beefheart. I don’t even have a boat!” I don’t even have a boat – calling the Captain is a charming misty travelogue of the road leading to the place where Don Van Vliet has found himself as a painter, and the shoreline – land, sea and sky – which Don inhabits and describes. Waves lap, seabirds dry their wings, fishing boats bob and seals bask as
The Red Hot Chili Peppers closed the last concert of their 2006 tour by playing the Captain Beefheart composition Peon as final encore. John Frusciante took the guitar part and Flea played bass. Rolling Stone recently noted that John Frusciante is owner of some original Don Van Vliet paintings. Flea frequently name-checks and quotes Captain Beefheart, sometimes in the most unlikely of contexts such as his NBA blog. This is not the first time Flea and Frusciante have attempted to play this tune. On 15th October 2002 Flea wrote, “John and I can play “peon’ by Captain Beefheart all the way through now. It is
Jeopardy Jaws dropped across a nation on December 11th when the B-word was used on American prime-time television. Captain Beefheart had become famous for a moment and fans rushed to write to internet discussion groups with the unlikely news. The cause of the excitement? A $1200 question in the game show Jeopardy, “Captain Beefheart is said to have a range of 4.5 of these.” If you don’t know the answer, go to the Jeopardy Archive here and point your mouse at the appropriate square in Double Jeopardy! Round The Big O. More video Bob wrote in from Boulder to mention that he’d spotted former Magic
Coming Clean, a new album by Magic Band maestro and guitar-god Gary Lucas has been gathering hugely favourable reviews for Gary’s exemplary skills and for the killer line-up he has assembled for the current incarnation of his band Gods and Monsters. Among those appearing on the album, which was five years in the making, are Ernie Brooks (Modern Lovers) on bass, Billy Ficca (Television) and Jonathan Kane (Swans) on drums, Jason Candler (Hungry March Band) on alto sax and Joe Hendel on trombone, with special guest vocalists David Johansen (New York Dolls). Reviewing this album, Rolling Stone called Gary, “one of the best and most