Friday, December 28, 2007

making the paper...

So my ex-wife calls me and tells me the Dayton Daily News wrote up the blog in the Go section today. That was very nice of them. I hereby take back any nasty things I've said about them on this blog and any nasty things I will say about them in the future.

Now if anyone's reading this blog for the first time, there a couple of things I want to mention:

1. Skim the label list (on the right) if you're looking for something from a particular band or person from Dayton's musical past.

2. If you don't see what you're looking for, you can e-mail me or post a comment somewhere (I'll see it wherever you post it). If I've got it to post, I'll post it. If not, you'll have to wait until I get it (and I don't know when that will be, but I'm always on the lookout for stuff, so who knows?).

Oh yeah, I moderate comments on the blog, so your comment won't show up right when you post it. It'll have to wait 'til I approve it. I do that ONLY because some spammers started coming by and posting stupid advertisements as comments. So I always dump those, BUT everything else gets approved (even if it's criticism).

3. If you download, you'll be downloading through Rapidshare, which is a bit of an involved process. Just follow the instructions though. It should work.

4. If Rapidshare tells you the file doesn't exist, let me know (Rapidshare deletes files that haven't been downloaded after some specified period). I'll re-up the link at my earliest convenience and post a notice to that effect.

take care


Monday, December 24, 2007

BOB BRAUN, "The Spirit of Christmas" b/w "Welcome Home" (7" vinyl, 1973)

I watched a lot of Star Trek as a kid (no surprise there, I'm sure). One episode in particular I remember is the one where Spock goes into that Vulcan mating psychosis and has to fight Kirk to the death over his wife. At the end, after Spock thinks he's killed Kirk and his wife tells him she's hot for some other dude, Spock just shrugs, lets her go, and tells the other man that, "You may find that having is not so pleasurable a thing as wanting. It is not logical, but it is true."

And that's why Christmas Eve is the greatest day of the year -- better than your birthday, better than Halloween (though it's admittedly a close call), better even than The Day itself. Even when I was a kid, it didn't take too many Christmases for me to realize that no matter how great my presents would turn out to be, nothing was so good as the anticipation. Waking up on the morning of Christmas Eve and knowing that Christmas was almost here but not quite here was better than waking up Christmas morning and finding what Santa left (though I have to say that was pretty good too).

Of course, the older you get, the less the gifts matter. But for me at least, that just makes Christmas Eve better. If the 24th falls on a weekday, what Scrooge termed "the even handed dealing of the world" still continues. You can go out, or you can go to work if you have to, but for that day at least it seems people take everything a little less seriously because most everything will come to a halt the next day. Got to file that report? Got to write that paper? Fuck no! It can wait 'til the 26th! Even the most obnoxious Type-A's among us have to goof off a little. And compared to the way we are the rest of the year, it makes work almost a pleasure.

So if you are at work right now and reading this blog, good for you! Goof the fuck off as much as you want. That's what Christmas Eve is all about. Today's download is an absolute pile of dung! Download it and force everyone at your workplace to listen!

Today's download comes to us from the collection of Ms. Gail Dafler, who found this little treasure while thrifting some time in the mid-'90s. Okay, not only is it neither punk nor indie rock nor anything approaching that, but it's also technically not from Dayton. So it really has no place on this blog.

Then again, maybe it does. Anybody who had grown up in Dayton and was making music fifteen years ago doubtless grew up with Bob Braun, the ubiquitous TV personality from Cincinnati whose eponymous talk show aired weekday mornings in both the Cincinnati and Dayton markets (and undoubtedly many other places in the tri-state area). No doubt every city had (still has) someone like Bob. He was cheese personified. His non-threatening voice and commanding good looks tended to grace anything that could be dubbed "community related." He opened supermarkets and city centers, had recurring guest opinion spots on radio and television, judged baking, livestock, and sewing contests. I distinctly remember he sliced up the pie that went for $2000 at the 1979 Ohio State Fair (I was there). Bob was the happy mask behind which hid the grime, decay, and desperation of urban life in Dayton of the 1970s. He was the face of denial in a grasping, scratching, wheezing, post-Vietnam, pre-tech boom Miami Valley.

We hated him, but in a fucked up way, we loved him. I'm going to go out on a limb here and declare that my generation was the first to openly acknowledge and even promote the legitimacy of irony as an art form. And even the most primitive sense of irony had to respect the perverseness lurking behind the ridiculous veneer of civility that Bob Braun stood for. He is a treasured cultural icon 'round these parts precisely because he could not possibly be confused with anything that should have serious artistic value. Even better, just like Big K Cola and the venerable Voss Hoss, he was all ours -- whether we liked it or not.

Of course, as Bob's Wikipedia entry notes, he would not be ours forever. In 1984 he left southwest Ohio to pursue a career in Hollywood. Although he landed jobs in commercials (even if you don't live around here, you may know him as the former spokesman for Craftmatic Adjustable Beds), local talk shows, and a few feature films (he had a bit part in Die Hard 2), by 1994 he was back in Cincinnati hosting a radio show with his nephew "Bucks" Braun (himself a noteworthy radio personality in Dayton at the time). He retired in 1997 and died of Parkinson's Disease in 2001.

Now lest anyone think I speak ill of the departed, I'll also add that although I question the value of Bob Braun's contribution to culture, no one can question the good he did in his lifetime as a staunch supporter of the Ruth Lyons Children's Fund (to which you can make contributions at the preceding link). And at no time did Bob do more for the fund than he did at Christmas...

...which, of course, leads us (finally...) to the record itself, a 7" vinyl record recorded by Bob Braun with The Cliff Lash Orchestra (I dunno...) and something called "The Fun Bunch" (and if you're expecting me to make some parenthetical joke about that, you'd be right except that I can't think of anything that's really funnier than just typing "The Fun Bunch"). "The Spirit of Christmas" appears to be a Cliff Lash original. It's seasonal schlock from the '70s at its schlockiest and '70s-est. Don't say I didn't warn you.

The label places this in 1973, which would be six years into Bob's seventeen-year stint as host of The Bob Braun Show on WLWT-TV in Cincinnati (check out this customer review of a Ruth Lyons Christmas album at for more information on the show and its peculiar Christmas traditions).

Download It! (15 MB) (link re-upped on 3-29-2010)

Okay then, that's about it. I'm posting this just after midnight, Christmas Eve. If you read this early in the day, do yourself a favor: drop whatever you're doing right now and go have a Christmas adventure. No shit. If you can at all manage it, do at least a little something you hadn't planned to do today. Doesn't matter what it is. If you're cynical about holiday commercialism, go downtown right now and give somebody fifty bucks (doesn't matter if you think they'll spend it on booze, doesn't matter if there are billions of others still starving -- give somebody fifty bucks). If you can't get out of work, give it to the person sitting next to you. If you're the kind of person who regularly does unto others, go buy something for yourself. If you can't do any of that stuff, do something else. Do something you didn't know you would do when you got up today. And if you can, make somebody happy -- doesn't matter who.

Merry Christmas,


Friday, December 21, 2007

Music View, Holiday Show (12" & 7" vinyl, 1990)

If you know me, then you probably know that I go absolutely ape for pretty much anything related to the holidays. It's a shortcoming, I know, but it's one which, like my smoking, I feel no compulsion to correct. When it comes to Christmas (and Hannukah and Solstice and even Kwanzaa to a degree -- NOTE: I don't include Ramadan among the holidays NOT because I have any problem with Islam but because, as the black muslims at London Correctional taught me, Ramadan is not a "holiday" as we ordinarily think of one (though Eid ul-Fitr sort of is) and it often comes well before December (this year it ended on October 12)), I pretty much go for the whole package: decorations, wrapping paper, holiday-themed television, books, movies, music. I buy as many presents as I can afford. I stuff myself with food and candy. I take my son to see Santa Claus. For fuck's sake, I saw Surviving Christmas (with that delightful Ben Affleck) in the theater -- and liked it! (though I draw the line at Deck the Halls (Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito), which was just too inane even for me)

More than anything else, though, I dig the music. Every year, in lieu of Christmas cards, I distribute a Christmas-themed CD of indie rock and audio miscellany to everyone I know -- a disc I spend pretty much all year compiling (yes, you'll often find me listening to Christmas music in July). In addition to just being fun, I find that sampling a wide variety of Christmas music keeps me in touch with heights of beauty and solemnity, as well as the depths of absurdity, to which every strata of the media can transmogrify the holiday spirit in song. In the old days, my grandfather used to play stand up bass and violin in various bands around Chicago, and it was a favorite saying of his that any musician who can't get a job on New Years Eve is no musician at all. Being a musician and general music lover myself, I would add to my grandfather's observation that any musician who doesn't do something related to the holidays at some point in his career has no idea what he's doing. Everybody does a Christmas song -- I mean, everybody.

Of course, with that in mind, I must now admit that even among the voluminous collection of music extant from Dayton's indie rock history in the collections of Grog, Gail, and me, there is not a single Christmas song to be found. And for the life of me, I can't remember anyone from the era I ordinarily cover on this blog actually recording one. Sure, THE OXYMORONS did "Silver Bells" live once or twice, and THE OBVIOUS used to crank out a great cover of "White Christmas." I have a vivid memory of one Christmas show we did together (i.e. OXYMORONS and THE OBVIOUS) that ended with Greg Johnson taking a drunken backward tumble off the stage and into Canal Street Tavern's Christmas tree -- there was tinsel and beer everywhere. For Christmas 2003, my band THE VECTORS did a mini-holiday party at Canal Street Tavern at which we gave our CD away for free and performed a second set consisting entirely of Christmas songs (I even have a video tape of that show somewhere, but ripping and sharing of that will have to wait until next year). And I've no doubt any number of other Dayton bands recorded some kind of Christmas tuneage, but I currently have access to none of it.

Yeah, that's Dayton. For decades this town has provided nothing appropriate to this season or any other. I can think of no better metaphor for living here than being a ten year old kid ripping open a package on Christmas morning, expecting an Atari 2600, and getting a box full of dress socks or something.

And that's why, in lieu of any holiday audio specifically related to Dayton, I am today offering, for your holiday listening pleasure, a lame substitute:

Music View was a canned weekly music news program distributed to college radio stations on 12" vinyl in the late '80s and early '90s. At WWSU, we usually ran it on Friday nights at about 7:30 p.m. (and maybe once or twice more over the weekend). The show featured interviews and music with various luminaries and up-and-comers in the universe of what was then called "alternative" or "modern" rock. Or, at least, that's what it was supposed to do. You see, even at the time, I was a little suspicious of this program because although the production company (Joseph Fox Communications, Inc. -- which I believe was gobbled up by Time Warner at some point in the '90s) was technically independent, the whole thing was underwritten by that evil soul-sucking demonic cabal of the consumer recording industry: The Columbia Record and Tape Club!

Remember the Columbia Record and Tape Club? Remember how they lured you in with the irresistible promise of "12 records for a penny!"? Remember how, after you got those records, you then found yourself snared in a dizzying miasma of contractual obligations to buy so many records over a 12-month period for the rest of your natural life? Remember how often you forgot to send back the little notice attached to each monthly catalog to tell the company that you did NOT want whatever their featured piece of crap was that month? Remember how that resulted in you actually having to pay for some shitty record from the ALAN PARSONS PROJECT? Remember having to explain to your friends why you owned some shitty record from the ALAN PARSONS PROJECT? If none of this rings a bell, count yourself lucky. I was but one of many who, like any drug addict, got sucked in by the promise of a cheap score, only later to find out that nothing in life costs a penny -- and for the next seven years, me and my credit report suffered.

Yeah, that's where the money behind Music View came from, and so even back then I used to wonder exactly how the featured artists on each show were chosen. But even so, in a world lacking the magic power of the web, Music View remained one of the few places to hear information and music from artists outside the top forty mainstream. And although host John Fox spent a good amount of time covering concocted industry experiments who were supposed to be "the next big thing" (TRANSVISION VAMP anyone?), he also hit on a lot of good music from real artists in there.

The 1990 holiday show (officially, episode #98), presented for download here, is a pretty good example of the good and bad that Music View had to offer. Listen and you'll hear Christmas cuts from THE RAMONES, THE GONADS, THE REDUCERS, ED GEIN'S CAR, DAVID CASSIDY (no shit!), and BABY TAPEWORM. Interview segments feature artists like LIVING COLOUR, BLUE HEARTS, INSPIRAL CARPETS, DAVID CASSIDY (the only artist with both interview and music presented), and CIRCLE JERKS. The whole thing is hosted by the aforementioned John Fox (who must've finished in the top of the class at The Casey Kasem School of Broadcasting, 'cos he sounds just like him), with a brief segment on punk rock called "Rabid Food" hosted by Jack Rabid. "Rabid Food" was a regular feature on Music View and always my favorite part of the show.

Download It! (54 MB)

Like all Music View episodes, this one is presented in three segments (on the vinyl, each segment was separated by a locked groove allowing the DJ on whatever station was playing the show to pop in and perhaps give things a more local feel). Tracks 2-4 in the download package are those segments. Each show also came with a 7" record full of daily promo spots for what was coming up on the show that week. Those promo spots are track 1. The whole show is 28 minutes, the dailies about 7. The package also includes scans of the promo sheet and show schedule that came with the record.

Although the dailies inexplicably promise music and talk from PRIMAL SCREAM, that band appears nowhere in the show itself.

Yeah, it's not Dayton-related -- but hey, it's Christmas...

...and it only gets worse: return to this blog on CHRISTMAS EVE for another audio offering that will simply curl your ear-hairs. Until then...

feliz navi-nada, baby...


Thursday, December 20, 2007

FLESHBATS, Pure Flesh for Stomach & Mind (cassette, 1988)

Frantic, earnest hardcore made by honest to god excellent musicians. Everything about it kicks ass, but I especially love Mike Smith's amazing guitar playing, which makes me think of Black Sabbath and DOA.

Jason gave me a copy of this tape not long after it was recorded. I listened to it all summer. Later that year I joined FLESHBATS as second guitar player. I'll say more about that when I post their second cassette Petty Criminals Hang Like Monkeys, but for now, I'll keep it brief.


Jayson Himes - vocals
Lino Bovenzi - drums
Mike Smith - guitar
Dave Robick - bass

Lino was born and raised in Italy, which has a long tradition of excellent hardcore (cf. NEGAZIONE, INFEZIONE). In Dayton, he drove a cab.

After FLESHBATS broke up, Dave, Mike, and Lino played together in a number of bands through the '90s, including GONGKICKER (with Chris Pospisil on vocals) and THE IGNITERS.

Jayson's current band is THE AMERICAN STATIC, an incredibly popular act around town right now which also includes Todd Weidner (SHRUG) and, until recently, Steven Gullet (SNAKE OIL, LOVE LIES BLEEDING, et al.).

Track List:

1. Revolution Time
2. Racheal's Mess
3. Homemade LSD
4. Sand and Blood
5. Urban Hatred
6. Fast One, Slow One
7. I'm on Junk

Recorded at Cro-Magnon studios, January 1988.

All tracks are great, but the best one is "Revolution Time," an anthemic fuck-you to consumer society.

Download it! (17 MB) (link re-upped on 2-1-2013)

take care


Friday, December 14, 2007

Announcement: Ring those X-Mas Belles...

New music coming up on this blog over the weekend, but I also wanted to let people know about my impromptu holiday gathering next Wednesday at the Belle.

I will be at the Southern Belle (right next door to Canal Street Tavern) from about 7:30 to 9:30 (maybe later) on Wednesday, December 19. I'll have FREE X-Mas compilation CDs (similar deal to the Halloween one I posted on the blog, but with an x-mas theme) for all who ask.

Special appearance by Gem City Roller Girl Maim E. Van Gorin' (a.k.a. Val)!

If you already got an invite through e-mail, this is the same thing. I'm also announcing here because there are some people I know who read the blog but whose e-mail addresses I don't have. So if any of you would like to come out on Wednesday, say hi, drink beer, shoot pool, and get a free x-mas CD, I'd be glad to see you.

Of course, people I don't know are welcome to come too (assuming there's anyone I don't know who actually reads this blog--heh...). I'll be the guy wearing the infamous Ben Schelker CLASH jacket and likely cursing his shitty pool cue to hell.

Merry X-Mas to all (or "Vula-Vula Vars!" as they say on Mars!).


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

SOURBELLY, Fat 4 (cassette, 1993)

I'm actually laughing as I type now because Hogarth is gonna kill me for sharing this one (so let's nobody tell him, okay?). I'll explain why in a minute, but first, a few words about Brian himself and how this band came to be.

Brian was one of Will's friends who used to come out to all sorts of shows. He was also one of the people who'd come by every so often to watch bad '80s horror movies until all hours with me and Will. I remember giving Brian a couple of guitar lessons at some point. Okay, Brian is a big guy (used to play college football) with big fingers, and although he had a Telecaster (which has a wide neck), he still had a lot of trouble getting those barre chords to ring out at first. But that didn't stop him from putting this band together.

Their first show was at the Wright State Rathskellar in 1992. Honestly, it was excruciating. They got lost a lot, and it seemed Brian was always squinting down at his guitar, which meant he wasn't singing directly into the microphone, so it was hard to hear the vocals, which were probably the strongest part of the group. But you could tell there was some talent there. You could legitimately figure they'd improve.

My impression is that Brian has always regarded this cassette as total shit. If you see him around, try mentioning Fat 4 and you might see the "Fat-4 Face," which is a look of disgust so abject, so pure that most of us could only manage it if we were actually served a plate full of real shit in a fancy restaurant.

To be sure, this cassette is not a display of finely crafted musical talent. The band really does sound like they've been playing for only a couple of months. The arrangements sometimes lack direction. There's one part where I'd swear that the guitar and bass are playing two different songs. That being said, there's still much to enjoy here. Brian always had the edgiest voice in Dayton--raw, powerful. Positive comparisons to NIRVANA and THE RAMONES aren't out of the question. It's rough, but it's good. And of course, SOURBELLY would get a whole lot better. Download Plasma Boy if you don't believe me. And watch this blog for SOURBELLY's self-titled second cassette (with Gregg Spence on drums).

Track notes:
  • "Johnny" was later re-recorded (with a different drummer and bass player) for SOURBELLY's second cassette and also appeared on the Cro-Magnon compilation 1101 E. Second Street.
  • "Ed" was written about one of SOURBELLY's first practices.
  • I've always wondered who "Card Shop Cate" was about, but I never asked.
Track list:

1. Johnny
2. Ed, Ed Chicken Head
3. Card Shop Cate
4. Pet the Rabbit

Download it! (13 MB) (link re-upped on 2-1-2013)

take care


Sunday, December 9, 2007

FYI: A little good news...

First, looks like I've got most of the computer problems taken care of now. New music will be posted on this blog tomorrow.

Second, a recent study ranks Dayton as the 18th most dangerous city in America. Believe it or not, I consider that good news. Off the top of my head, I would've placed Dayton at least in the top ten. And check out Youngstown rockin' the number 15 spot--which is absolutely placid considering that the last time I saw Youngstown, I would've mistaken it for the set of Escape from New York. But sadly, it looks like Flint, Michigan (which I have always considered Dayton's sister city in scumhood) is at number three. So that town is even worse off than I would've guessed.

take care