Musical Chairs

Posted on February 1, 2010 – 8:45 PM | by OldManFoster
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troy mightyBeginning this month, Troy Mighty will be taking over the Incoming! section from our much-beloved, but greatly-in-need-of-a-break Heather Klinger.  Mighty first came to our attention a decade ago with his fantastically drawn indie rock posters that seemed so cutting edge in SactoY2K.  It came as no surprise when he also turned out to be the driving force behind Dead Western, a music project that effortlessly keeps the ‘freak’ in freak folk.  Mighty just kept turning up, so it was probably inevitable that he’d end up in our pages at some point. We’re excited to welcome him aboard- see page 30 for his debut run at Incoming!



I devour music, savoring every bite, allowing it to thoroughly nourish me. I’ve had to take the slow-food approach to the culinary art of knowing new sounds, considering how behind the rest of the modern world I usually am, rarely having access to the all-encompassing internet and its endless musical offerings. My friends have been my teachers, and I am forever grateful to them. My friends have kept me nurtured with the knowledge and love of the music they know (and so often with the music they make themselves).

53trout maskIt was ten years ago, I was nineteen, and Loren Shimanek lent me his copy of Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica. I was absolutely blown away with the sounds of this deliciously wild music. I studied the cover and booklet in awe, drooling and panting over these songs that broke every rule, then brought them spasming all back together again. This was an important seed in my ripening new gospel, a vibrational victory in tonal grandeur.

Loren was working at Manic Music then (R.I.P), and later at the illustriously carpeted Tonevendor (we miss you!). He brought so much creative, intelligent music into these stores that Sacramento wouldn’t have had tangible access to otherwise. It’s through his sharing, and these sorts of psychic community-building efforts, that the fat belly of my musical tastes has been allowed to increase. Loren’s generosity in constantly keeping my mind so musically blown is a gift that I’ll take to my grave.

outsidersMost recently, I was delighted to find in his collection a cd of singles from the late 60s Dutch band The Outsiders. I’d heard them only once before, years ago at a stranger’s apartment in Antwerp. Now that I’ve built these songs into my blood, I’m not sure how I lived without them. This is the comfort food of rock and roll: manic repetitions, out-of-control bass lines, vocals that stand and deliver, strong and heartfelt from a kid who’s barely twenty, filling the room with a groove that no do-gooder could do without.

My dear friend Joseph Harper lives in Los Angeles now, and has his own endearingly beautiful music to share, under the moniker Featherbeard. We’ve shared many shows and wonderful times together. Driving through the desert in his little red car, after a few days sick on a couch in bone-chilling Little Rock, he shared with me a couple of albums I’ve been bathing in since.

wolf_kingJohn Phillips’ John, the Wolfking of L.A. is one that many are familiar with. It has been the soundtrack to every triumph and tragedy of my last several months, comforting and conducive in either extreme. Nearly every song at one time has been my favorite; they feel blissfully Californian, and give the listener a badge to live like it’s nobody’s business. What a shame that this brilliant songwriter came to abuse his own badge so grossly. Some must have a devastatingly difficult time knowing what to do with all the gifts they’ve received.

tabua-de-esmeraldaJoseph also shared Jorge Ben’s 1974 album A Tabua de Esmeralda, a record made in Tropicalia heaven. I rarely notice that I can’t understand any of the Portuguese he’s singing in, as his sweet voice dances with ease around a music that could soothe the sickest of souls. The album is a wonderfully psychedelic mélange of gorgeous celebration. My torso sways just thinking about it.

I’d completely missed the Kate Bush boat until recently. Hers is a name that’s been synonymous with the healthy development of those around me, being a seemingly integral part of their youth. Only fifteen months ago, I sat in a suka in Pittsburgh with a few others, who were gushing over memories of her songs. They made her music sound more vital than mother’s milk, and I had no idea what they were talking about.

houndsofloveThe collective conscious must be singing her songs, though. A few months ago, a drunken Addam let me borrow Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love LP, and it’s been spinning ever since. This is a sort of liberation music I never knew existed, one that inspires spontaneous side-thrusts with the hips, subtle shimmies with the shoulders, ecstatic flails of the arms. Her voice sultry and powerful, sounding like she knows exactly what she’s doing, commanding an opus of synth that even a skinhead couldn’t deny. I’ve been flipping this record over and over, hearing so much innovation and inspiration and joy. It’s no wonder so many have succumbed to the spell of these songs.

ATribeCalledQuest-MidnightMaraudersI was sixteen at the Hindenburg, another record store that once enlivened the youth of Sacramento. A couple of metal-head friends were there; these guys listened to metal morning, noon and night. I didn’t understand how anyone could lull themselves sleep with the satanic sounds of screaming, epic doom blasting nearby, but this was their religion, whose rituals they relished. They had their few exceptions, and thank goodness. One of them put on a tape of A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders, and it’s been one of my favorite albums since. This is a psychedelic kind of hip-hop, smart and precise in it’s explorations. Real players playing real instruments, grooving out beats and bass lines that’d get a dead man dancing.

q-tip_the_renaissanceQ-Tip is probably the most well known MC from A Tribe Called Quest, and in 2008 made an incredible solo album called The Renaissance. Endless thanks to Jesse Vasquez for recently sharing this one. It took a few listens to get into, but now I’m stuck inside. The more I dance, the more engulfed I become. The lyrics are smooth and intelligent, with beats that remain as interesting and energetic as Q-Tip’s Midnight Marauder days. Each song offers more exciting opportunities for your ass to shake and your smile to widen. With the positive, life-affirming euphoria “The Renaissance” offers, it’s a shame to know there’s so many dumb thugs wasting so many good beats on their tough guy shoot-em-up shit. Lighten up, thugs, and learn to dance!

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