Artists and Bands

Are you ready for Russian Rock and Roll? Introducing Llanfair P.G.

Llanfair_pg I have always maintained that rock and roll is a global phenomena and you have to go no further than Russian band Llanfair P.G. to prove this point. A primitive and wild psychedelic punk band, Llanfair P.G. just go to show that rock and roll is a universal language. Check out their full length MP3 downloads at I just think this is so cool and their tunes are great to boot!

Rock History

Muscle Shoals Sound Studios Closes

Another week goes by and yet another historical recording studio closes its’ doors. This week the victim is Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. Yes, the very place where Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan and the Stones all recorded seminal pieces of rock and roll history is closing down because of declining business, another victim of the easy availability of high quality home recording equipment. While I don’t regret having tools like Garageband available, it is still a shame when a place like Muscle Shoals has to shut down. If only those walls could talk.

Live Rock and Roll

Get Ready for Dewey Beach Popfest 2005

Dewey_beach_popfest Here is another example of a very cool music festival that you might not hear too much about. The Dewey Beach Popfest is an annual event held in Dewey Beach, Delaware (USA) that features an amazing array of great rock and roll. This year’s event takes place April 29th-30th, 2005 and is sure to be another smash. They are currently putting together this year’s talent line-up but judging from both 2003 and 2004 this year will be another amazing rock and roll adventure. I’ll keep you updated on the final line-up as soon as it becomes available but believe it or not, Delaware might just be the place to party at the end of April this year!

Rock Radio 2.0

The Rock and Roll Report Radio Spotlight is on Radio X

Radio X calls itself "independent radio" for a reason. According to the people behind the station:

Our slogan means just what it says. Radio X is independent in the fact that we play artists and bands that aren’t affiliated with the major labels. Radio X is independent in thought, format, and idea. Radio X is privately owned and operated and not under control of the mammoth recording industry.

Radio X is a great example of just one of the resources available to indie musicians that welcome their contributions with open arms and airplay. Great radio devoid of the formulaic corporate crudd found elsewhere, Radio X is just great radio. I have only been listening for a couple of days but like what I hear. More indie choice is music to my ears. Check it out today.
UPDATE! Just recieved an e-mail from Charles at Radio X to tell me that their streams have stopped while they relocate the station. They hope to be up and running within a month so check back then, althought the website will remain up. D’oh!

Odds & Sods

Hunter S. Thompson “The Champion of Fun”- Dead at 67

Hunter Hunter S. Thompson is dead. He died from a self-inflicted gun shot wound at his legendary Owl Farm compound in Woody Creek, Colorado yesterday and I am bracing myself for all the pseudo-analysis and psycho-babble that we are sure to hear from hacks with half his skill in the days to come. I remember like it was yesterday the first time that I discovered Thompson. I was at a bookstore in Montreal sometime in the late ’70s with a mission to buy a guitar tab book for my hated guitar lessons. Instead I stumbled across “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and proceeded to spend the next hour propped up against the store bookshelves reading the first 50 pages or so of this novel that was so….different from anything else I had ever read. I bought it naturally, the guitar tab book quickly forgotten and from that moment on I became an unabashed fan. I purchased as much as I could find and even this past weekend before I heard of his death I was randomly reading from “The Great Shark Hunt” with as much enjoyment as usual, not realizing what depths of despair the author must have found himself in at that very moment. In the days to come, much will be written about Hunter’s “gonzo” lifestyle, about the booze, drugs, guns and fast convertibles. It’s a shame that stories of his lifestyle will sidetrack people from appreciating the real legacy of Hunter S. Thompson. Hunter S. Thompson was responsible for some of the finest literature in the second half of the twentieth century and it is imperative that this legacy, rather than his drugs of choice become his true epitaph. Hunter was the first author that wrote in a way that was not only entertaining but was brutally incitefull, sometimes to a fault and with a depth and passion that could only come from someone with The Gift. Not only that, to me Hunter made literature “cool” something that not even my best English teacher could manage. It was through reading Hunter that I discovered F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joseph Conrad, Jack Kerouac, Ernest Hemmingway, George Plimpton and many more authors who were as far away from the gonzo style as you could possibly imagine and yet, because of Hunter’s enthusiasm for these writers his passion made me want to read them, a gift that has enriched my life ten-fold. Much like another of my favourite degenrates Keith Richards, the man who introduced me to the wonders of Muddy Waters and Chess Records, Hunter had an eloquent way of encouraging readers to investigate the classics of literature through the use of a well-placed quote or a brief passage in one of his pieces describing for example a scene from “The Great Gatsby” with a passion that betrayed his true intelligence. Through Hunter I have learned and enjoyed the written word perhaps more than through any other person and to that I give him thanks. Sure I tried to emulate him to a modest degree. I had my fair share of attempts at getting to meet him, hastily scribbled fan letters sent to the Woody Creek Tavern and a completely unsuccessful attempt at a “Hunter breakfast” where I discovered that despite his example, Wild Turkey and grapefruit do not mix. But reading Thompson encouraged me to write. Not for publication or for Fearandloathinginamerica any kind of career but just to write for the joy and art of writing. Hunter S. Thomspson showed me and to those of us who admired him the power of the written word. If you are not so much a fan of his “Gonzo” writing read his pieces for the National Observer or Scanlans from the early to mid-sixties and you will read the work of an incredibly talented observational writer. The man could paint a picture with words that was of such power and eloquence that you sometimes just shook your head in awe at his masterfull wordplay.

As I write this I sit here with mixed emotions. I am angry that a man so talented felt that he had gotten to a point where he had to kill himself, something I don’t think that I will ever truly understand but I also sit here with an incredible sense of thanks for the joy that he has brought to my world and the inspiration that he has infused me with, something that has strangely redoubled even as I type these words now. In the last couple of years I think that Hunter was unfairly slagged by both his fans and enemies as having nothing new to say and of suggesting that he should just put up or shut up. I have always held the thought that he has given enough of his talent to more than reward those of us who read his works and that perhaps we were unfair in pressuring him to do more when maybe he would have much preferred to retire his Gonzo persona and relax to enjoy the fruits of his success with the odd “Hey Rube!” thrown in for good measure. At the very least, he will no longer have to put up with the slings and arrows and will perhaps finally be at peace with himself and his legacy. To his family I express my most sincere condolences. Hunter S. Thompson was a legend in his own time. He was perhaps the first “rock star” author and journalist but most of all, he was just damn good at what he did. I will miss your screed but I will forever treasure your words. Thank you Doc for everything you have given us. You will not be forgotten.
UPDATE! The Guardian has a nice piece on Hunter’s career, legacy and reactions to his death. In addition, Salon has a retrospective of articles on Hunter called Remembering Hunter S. Thompson that you should check out. Finally (for now) This is London has an obituary that would do the Doc proud in Hunter S. Thompson takes his final trip. The NME has an obituary that briefly mentions Hunter’s love of music:

A passionate music fan, Thompson drew early inspiration from his hero Bob Dylan, the author had co-written several songs including ‘You’re A Whole Different Person When You’re Scared’ with his friend, the late Warren Zevon, while an audio sample of him reading his scathing Richard Nixon obituary appeared on Paul Oakenfold’s album ’Bunkka’.

However he retained a healthy disrespect for the music industry, famously calling it “a cruel and shallow trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men lie like dogs. There is also a negative side”.

That reminds me of a video I have somewhere in my house of Hunter meeting up with Keith Richards. Kind of anti-climactic when you see it but it still is a lot of fun to watch.

Hunter S. Thompson Dies (Rolling Stone)

Thompson said not one to die in hospital (Kansas City Star)

Hunter S. Thompson: 1937-2005 (San Francisco Chronicle)

Thompson played by his own rules to the end

New Journalism’s Dark Prince (Los Angeles Times)

Ripples spread far from writer’s work (Rocky Mountain News)

Hunter S. Thompson- Lost Gonzo (Blog Critics)

Remembering Hunter S. Thompson: Gatling guns, loose hogs and editing by David McCumber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Largehearted Boy has a link to two Bittorrent files of recordings of Hunter’s lectures, one from Boulder in 1977 and one from Washington and Lee University in 1991.

Stanton: Like Icarus, Hunter Thompson flew a little too high (Tucson Citzen)

Hunter S. Thompson: Shutting The Door, Painting The Windows Black, By Kurt Loder (MTV)

Prose laureate of the Age of Paranoia- Thompson was stalked by doom but his writing was beacon of truth (MSNBC)

Fear, Loathing, and Great Reporting (Editor & Publisher)

‘Gonzo’ behavior made him an icon, but check Thompson’s writing (SF

“We’ve Gone from Bad to Worse to Rotten” Hunter S. Thompson and Gonzo By Alexander Cockburn (Counterpunch)

Spokesman: Thompson likely planned suicide far in advance (ABC News)

According to Hunter S. Thompson Wanted Remains Fired From Cannon- Friends Plan Private, Public Ceremonies there will be a private commemoration for family and friends on March 5th with a public event likely in April. Apparently Hunter wants his ashes fired out of a cannon as he often joked that he was “cannon fodder.” Only Hunter could have come up with this plan!

Timing of Thompson’s suicide surprises son – Juan Thompson says father just decided it was time to go (MSNBC)

Thompson ‘shot himself on phone’ (BBC News)

Quotable Thompson

Believer (a great retrospective commentary on Thompson by Lousi Menand in The New Yorker)

Son’s shotgun tribute- HST’s final word: Counselor (Rocky Mountain News)

Thompson’s family memorializes writer in private gathering (Rocky Mountain News)

I will update the site with details about funeral arrangements and memorials, etc. but until then I think I will lay low a little bit and read some of Hunter’s writing and return to my regular posting schedule on Wednesday or Thursday. I welcome any and all contributions if you have thoughts to share on Hunter’s passing.
UPDATE 2! I will be continuously updating this post as new news becomes available although the post itself will remain fixed on this date for the forseeable future.


Hey Rube!

It’s with a sadness in my heart I type on the death of the famed journalist Hunter S Thompson.

True I am one of the legions who felt Thompson’s writing had been ‘going downhill’ in recent years. So disappointed in 2003’s Kingdom of Fear [I felt it covered a lot of the same ground as Songs of the Doomed; Hunter seemed to be stuck in the Gail Slater-Palmer trial], that I skipped Hey Rube, as just a collection of columns for ESPN Page 2, some of which were entertaining and caused a smile, but nothing that lit the world on fire. Thompson’s last great work, for my money, was 1994’s Better Than Sex, a good mix of Thompson’s political view and humor. Thompson’s scattered work since his firing from Rolling Stone in the mid-Seventies never equaled that time again. As America sank into the mellow sounds of the Eagles and Fleetwod Mac and Steely Dan, Thompson faded into a self induced sunset, popping up only occasionally for his short run at the San Francisco Examiner and the ESPN column and an rare special in Rolling Stone. His piece on the death of Richard Nixon may have been his finest work of his last years.

Thompson will always be best known for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and well he should. It is truly a first person masterpiece of exaggeration and braggadocio. It will be the On the Road for a generation. Hells Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga brought Thompson to the attention of mainstream America, not quite realizing that the journalist was about to spike its collective sugar cube the way the San Francisco bands were spiking the cube for rock and roll. Thompson said himself in Fear:

“San Francisco in the middle Sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run… but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch the sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant…”

But in finding his own voice, a voice of the ‘Counter-culture’ that read Rolling Stone magazine, Thompson became a legend for all the wrong reasons. He became a cartoon, almost literally, inspiring Gary Trudeau’s Uncle Duke in the Doonesbury [another voice of the ‘Counter-culture’], for which he was never given a cent. [And, in my humble belief, inspiring the bald, chain smoking, drug and booze ingesting, city hating, firearm loving, gonzo political journalist in Garth Ellis’ excellent Transmetropolitan comic book.] Thompson became famous for his massive intake of drugs and booze, which no doubt fueled his own madness. I fear that in finding his own voice, Thompson locked himself in his own box. Like Jim Morrison, he had a reputation that had to be lived up to that may have ultimately lead to his demise.

Thompson quipped “I do not advocate the use of dangerous drugs, wild amounts of alcohol and violence and weirdness – but they’ve always worked for me.” Did they finally all take a massive turn on the depleted body and mind of Thompson? In coming days we may know if his mind or body [or both] were found in recent months to be deteriorating from disease or abuse… my guess if this is so, Thompson would not want to be seen as an aging deteriorated shell of himself as Ronald Reagan was for his last decade. Thompson had all ready lived fast, but somehow managed to avoid dying young; perhaps he was leaving a good looking corpse and the memory of him still in his prime.

We may really never know. Like Lester Bangs, HST is now immortal in the literary world. His genius can no longer be called into question. He did inspire a generation to just write what they had to say and not worry about the rules of the English language we were taught in high schools and colleges across America. You can even make up your own word to describe your style, like Gonzo, which is now a term for any writer who seems to break ‘established rules,’ whatever that means.

We suspected Thompson couldn’t live forever, all evidence to the contrary. I loved his writing, I loved his style [or non-style], though I have learned in recent years not to put too much trust into heroes, as they are only mortal men like the rest of us. His sad and shocking decision to pull the plug himself will only be equaled by Papa Hemingway’s suicide and the brutal murders of John Lennon and Darrell Abbott just for making music. We really don’t know what demons HST was fighting up there in his compound, nor for how long. I suspect though that once the decision was made, it put the man at peace.

So long baby,SALEH, EXCELSIOR and Amen.

Artists and Bands

Streaming new Kings of Leon


I have been blaring the latest Kings of Leon non-stop around the house the last few days and if you are wondering why then check out this stream at VH1 of their latest CD Aha Shake Heartbreak. Expect a review here soon. Cool stuff.

Rock Biz

Disc Makers To Offer Free Sonicbids Electronic Press Kits To Artists

(Press Release) Disc Makers, the nation’s largest disc manufacturer for independent artists, is partnering with Sonicbids, the leading provider of online communication solutions for independent musicians, to provide customers with FREE access to Sonicbids’ web-based Electronic Press Kits and exclusive network of promoters, contest organizers, and booking agents. With this exclusive deal, Disc Makers’ customers will receive a FREE six-month membership to Sonicbids with any new replication order.

"We literally lie awake at night thinking of even more ways to help our customers create a buzz, sell more CDs, and succeed in the music business," explains Tony van Veen, Disc Makers’ Vice President of Sales and Marketing. "With over 22,000 member artists and 2,500 registered music promoters, events, festivals, and songwriting competitions, Sonicbids’ service will provide tremendous value and opportunities for our customers to get girls and secure showcase and festival slots."

Sonicbids’ key product is the Electronic Press Kit (EPKä). Created as an alternative to bulky and expensive hard copy press kits, the Sonicbids EPK will let Disc Makers’ customers create their own easy-to-use, web-based graphic interface that contains all of their basic information, music clips, photos, and tour dates. The EPK can either be e-mailed to a club, contest, company, or event with a click of the mouse, or submitted directly to online promoter "drop boxes." EPKs mean no more late night trips to the local copy shop and any more postage, express mail, FedEx, or UPS. EPKs save time and money.

"With this partnership, we are bringing together two of the leading service providers for independent musicians," explains Panos Panay, CEO and Founder of Sonicbids. "There is no better way to promote discs made by Disc Makers’ artists than with a Sonicbids EPK. Their customers are serious musicians who will be a welcome addition to our growing online community of artists."

Rock History

CBGB’s faces closure

According to Aversion’s CBGB’s faces closure, the birthplace of The Ramones, Blondie and Television may be facing closure due to the escalating cost of their rent. It is unclear whether the venerable club will be around next year or will close.

Odds & Sods

‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy

We all know that famous misheard lyric to Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” but I didn’t realize that there are at least 4,142 examples of similar mis-heard and bungled lyrics according to the incredibly funny website Kiss This Guy. How about “Dirty knees and thunder cheeks” instead of “Dirty deeds done dirt cheap” (“Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” by AC/DC) or “Then I saw her face now I’m a bleeder” instead of “Then I saw her face and now I’m a believer” (“I’m a Believer” by The Monkees). There are tons of them so grab a frosty and plunk yourself down in front of the computer on some rainy day and have a couple of laughs with this great site. What could this possibly be? “I-I-I-I’m Stayin’ the Night, Stayin’ the Night.” Have a great weekend everybody!