Composer and musicologist Samuel Andreyev interviews bass player Mark Boston, the third in his series on interviews with musicians who played on Trout Mask Replica.
Since his heart surgery Mark Boston aka Rockette Morton, bassist extraordinaire for the Magic Band, has had to take things a bit easier so he has taken up creating art. His elaborate, swirling images of aliens, tubes and streamers are vibrant as well as full of colour and humour. These pieces are for sale. See below for more details. The Radar Station asked Mark a few questions to get the background on his move from musician to artist: Radar Station: Firstly, I think all your fans would like to know how your are healthwise these days. Rockette Morton: The heart surgery was a success but
Magic Band Members: Mark Boston, John French, Bill Harkleroad, John Thomas, Art Tripp Is is a duck ? … is it a train? No, it’s the Magic Band after they left Beefheart in 1974. Bill Harkleroad (aka Zoot Horn Rollo) and bassist Mark Boston (aka Rockette Morton) decided to form their own band. John French joined on vocals and drums and John Thomas, who’d been with French in Rattlesnake & Eggs, played keyboards. Unfortunately only six demo songs were recorded with this line-up before French got the call to rejoin the Magic Band. Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson, a Magic Band fan and friend of Mark
Originally from Salem, Illinois Mark’s family moved to the High Desert town of Lancaster in California in 1963. His father worked in a local grain factory and also played bass as well as steel guitar. This perhaps explains Mark’s ability on the bass – he’s one of the few rock bassists who really know how to use the instrument. By 1966 Mark was playing bass in John French’s Blues In A Bottle band alongside Jeff Cotton on guitar. He also played in B.C. & The Cavemen with Bill Harkleroad on guitar. French, Cotton and Harkleroad all got their call up to the Magic Band. Finally
[alert_box type=”info”]An example of the Captain’s often enormous hospitality from Danny Houston.[/alert_box] There used to be a great club in Glasgow, Scotland called The Maryland, and the owner Willie Cuthbertson (one of the great unacknowledged heroes of Scottish Rock) brought Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band up to play at a place called the Kelvin Hall. This venue was famous already in the halls of rock n roll fame as the site of the Kinks first “Live” album. Because we knew Willie he promised to take us back stage to meet the Captain before the concert. We were all massive Beefheart fans – there were
[alert_box type=”info”]D. Whitney Quinn witnesses a stage invasion at a Magic Band gig.[/alert_box] I have had the pleasure of seeing Beefheart at least a dozen times between 1972 and 1980, starting with “Clear Spot” line-up. The first time I saw him he was headlining at a theater-in-the-round in Phoenix, Arizona in 1973, and Little Feat was the opening act. It was a rather bizarre venue – the moving stage did a full revolution every five minutes, so although all the seats were close the perspective kept changing. After Little Feat put on a superb show, there was a lull between sets, and then suddenly, some… GUYS
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 musical