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
Anton Corbijn persuaded Don Van Vliet to remove his hat during the Ice Cream For Crow cover shoot. Corbijn later recalled that Don put it straight back on his head again. “My wife’s not gonna like this,” Don said. I don’t suppose that Jan minded too much. The resulting photograph became iconic and Don later made the short film Some Yo Yo Stuff together with Anton. Part of that film, plus an impressive selection of Corbijn’s music videos and other film work are to be released as a DVD on Tuesday 13th September. A 56 page book accompanies this Directors Label DVD from Palm Pictures.
Big Eyed Beans From Venus, that bunch of Beefheart botherers from Athens GA, have announced another two dates for their ongoing assault on the auditory senses of that city. They play the 40 Watt in Athens this Wednesday, the 14th, and play there again on October 8th when they open for the Circulatory System (friend of theirs from Olivia Tremor Control). There are still audio links to their Beefheart covers at MySpace. But when will they get out of Athens and start touring?
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’ve just stumbled across an excellent, in depth and lengthy article about what many would consider a holy trinity – John Peel, John Walters and Captain Beefheart by Kris Needs. Needs shows how their three stories are intertwined with each other, while also paying tribute to each. There are stories in here which I don’t remember ever reading before such as Don accidentally “branding” his mother and Joe Strummer commenting on his first encounter with Trout Mask Replica which he stated was “the moment I became a weirdo”. There are a lot of factual inaccuracies but who cares, it’s all from the heart.
BBC Radio 7 has just broadcast an excellent 3 hour John Peel memoir and tribute in which Peel talks extensively about his life, influences, passions and family. We also hear an episode of Home Truths and his son’s eulogy at Peel’s funeral last year. It is a wonderful 3 hours for those of us who continue to miss his voice, humour and character on a daily basis and I’d heartily recommend you give it a listen on the BBC site while you can. Peel’s voice has also been cropping up regularly in the BBC Radio 3 show of his friend and colleague, Andy Kershaw. Listeners
The New Haven Advocate reviews the appearance at the Zappanale festival in Germany of Doctor Dark. Doctor Dark are notable not only for being a Captain Beefheart tribute band, but also, apparently, for featuring “the only person in [New Haven’s] history to run for mayor in drag” in their line-up. The same paper also interviewed Doctor Dark in late 2003 about their previous appearance at Zappanale.
A Mongolian “throat-singing heavy rock band”, Yat-kha, have released an album of cover versions featuring Captain Beefheart’s “Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles”, along with tunes by Joy Division, Bob Marley, Kraftwerk and Hank Williams. A recent article in The Independent newspaper said: Kuvezin’s growling vocal harmonics emerge from his deepest regions, resonating around the changing shape of his mouth-cavity. In the case of Captain Beefheart’s number, this is not too far removed from its original practitioner’s approach, but these techniques sound quite startling when imposed on the likes of “Man Machine” and “When The Levee Breaks”. You can hear a couple of mp3s
I’m sure many visitors will already have heard of the sad passing of Dr Robert Moog, inventor of the MiniMoog synth. As with so many great innovators, there’s a Beefheart connection to be made. In a 1980 interview with John Piccarella Don Van Vliet was asked about the process of teaching his music to his band and he replied: You can do it on the piano… you can do it on guitar some times.. Sometimes on the Mellotron.. Sometimes on the Moog. I like MiniMoog, I think that’s a real sensitive instrument. Also in 1980, this time to Lester Bangs, Don said he recorded his
I’ve always tried to avoid taking a train-spotter approach with this site over the years (not that you would think it from my blog entries) – it would be an easy road to travel with an artist like Captain Beefheart who seems to attract obsessive detail-noters. However, we at beefheart.com are endlessly amused by the frequency that Captain Beefheart rolls of the tongue of musicians and journalists, some using it to gain reflected credibility, others to provide an all-too-easy frame of reference, instant but ultimately meaningless. Others, of course, just love him too. In the absence of any real Beefheart-related news, here are just a
A friend started off a blog a while ago featuring a gallery of his doodles and abstract photographs, entitled Elbow Room. I used to work with Norms, the author, and witnessed the creation of his “biro on lined paper” works first-hand during many otherwise uninteresting meetings in the council offices. Like a visual equivalent of Robyn Hitchcock’s most surreal songs, they offer a pleasing and often hilarious idle browse. Norms is a Beefheart admirer and consequently a Beefheart theme has crept into a few of them. Check out Sea of Negativity, What A Moon Can Do II, No H On My Faucet, Devil’s Red Wife,
Walt Michelson mailed with news of his 50 synesthesia-musicboxes. Each of these pays homage to a different musician. His Beefheart musicbox, Ant Man Bee Massacre in Beeftroutwinter, is currently on show at Galerie Otto Schweins in Köln. Which particular Beefheart music you hear when you look at it is, I suppose, entirely up to you. For further explanation see Dr Michelson’s email.
In his memoirs, the concert promoter Freddy Bannister tells his version of why Captain Beefheart formed a new Magic Band just to play Knebworth Festival in 1975. According to Bannister, Beefheart’s manager Herb Cohen was so impressed by the $15,000 fee offered for the performance that he replied, “We’ll put a band together even if it means my mother will have to play.” Be that as it may, the latest Knebworth memorabilia to be offered for sale by the Bannister family is a reproduction 1975 stagecrew tee shirt. “We weren’t very ‘merchandise’ oriented in those days and didn’t have any T shirts to sell to
My inbox most days contains links to newspaper and magazine articles referencing Beefheart. New bands love to drop the Beefheart name, music journalists likewise. I send about 99% of this stuff to trash. What remains is some fun stuff, such as Liverpool band The Zutons who claimed to have named themselves after a Beefheart song. For the mp3 generation, who don’t read sleeve notes, that long lunar note was played by a Mr Zuton Rollo. So when a musician with no need of fame by association places ‘Lick My Decals Off, Baby’ at the top of his list of favourite albums – as David Lowery
I’ve recently received news of an exhibition which has just opened in Glendale, California, featuring the original artwork from Captain Beefheart’s Strictly Personal album cover Revolutions, a ground-breaking free exhibit that features the artists behind the images synonymous with identifying the pop culture of the 60s and into the new Millennium, opens July 31st at the Forest Lawn Museum in Glendale. Showing never-before-seen art and original creations, from photographs to posters, original artwork used for albums and CDs, magazine art and drawings, the exhibit showcases artists who created visually beautiful and thought-provoking work cherished by the world’s musical icons. This unique exhibit is a reflection
Not a lot of Beefheart in this post but I thought it worth drawing your attention to an article in The Guardian which announces that Stockhausen will be playing live at London’s Billingsgate market. You can also read the announcement at Stockhausen’s own website. A tenuous link? OK – Don Van Vliet once said that “a lot of good music comes out of Germany, Stockhausen for example”. In his typically contradictory manner he also once said that he liked Stockhausen more than he liked Stockhausen’s music so who knows. UK residents now have a rare chance to encounter both.
I’ve learned by now not to hold out too much hope when Ozit release another Beefheart CD. But this time they’re taking the piss … ‘Prime Quailty Beef’ … for heaven’s sake, Ozit, get a grip. This is second rate stuff even if it is decent sound quality (although, at least that’s an improvement on your usual shoddy sound). But ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’! … By no stretch of the imagination is that ‘prime quality’ anything let alone quality Beefheart. So what do we have here? Well, it’s the Crazy Little Things (semi-legitimate release) CD of the 1974 Cowtown, Kansas show (including the two versions of
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.”
Frank Xavier Weyerich’s photo of two whiskery gents in convivial conversation will be familiar to anyone who has ever done an Image Search for Beefheart. Who, I wondered, is that other chap, and what was he talking about with Don? The website hosting the photograph (thank you Webster70.com) led me to an email address for somebody called Tom Ray. Ray, who is now owner of one of the largest independent record stores in the American Midwest – Vintage Vinyl – kindly wrote back with the details of his meeting with Don, correcting me on where it occurred. Yes, I had that pleasure back in the
Another new Beefheart blog – Captain Beefheart Project – has been created this weekend. The first three entries deal with particular concerts, giving background information and links, including links to a site where torrents of audio files of Beefheart concerts can be found. I’m looking forward to seeing how this develops.