The Evening Redness In The West (West 19th St. that is…) or Scalphunting for fun and profit

I’ve been obsessed with Cormac McCarthy’s book Blood Meridian (Ecco,1985) for a good twenty years now. The late actor Rockets Redglare turned me onto it— “James, you gotta read this one, it’s right up your alley….can you lend me $6 dollars?”. Rockets (whose film credits can be found here: wanted to play the Judge in the film version (which will probably never be made which is fine with me). Lately I’ve gone back and reread all of McCarthy’s early novels (Outer Dark, The Orchard Keeper, Suttree) looking for a clue. A clue to what you ask? If there is a main theme to McCarthy’s work, as near as I can figure it is the idea of the absence of God. What I want to know, is, seeing as his work references the bible so much, does McCarthy believe in God? Well, I’m still wondering. He gives up nothing in the few interviews he’s given. In fact, the best interview out there is one where McCarthy himself interviews the Cohn Brothers soon after the filming of No Country For Old Men. He’s mainly interested in how Josh Brolin reacted to the dog which was trained to rip out a human’s jugular. You can read it here.
One thing I did turn up was historical evidence of the Judge Holden and John Glanton, Blood Meridian’s most chilling characters. The Texas State Historical Society published in 1996 a very handsome volume, profusely illustrated by it’s author and annotated by William H. Goetzman a most unusual manuscript called My Confession: Recollections Of A Rouge, the memoirs of one Samuel Chamberlain, a rounder and roustabout who claims to have ridden with scalp hunters John Glanton and the Judge Holden in the 1840s. There is much debate about the authenticity of this document, and many inconsistencies (such as the above drawing by Chamberlain showing Holden with a full head of hair while the manuscript describes him as bald as a cue ball), Goetzman addresses these subjects in detail. Let’s face it, there are few first hand accounts from the world of commercial scalp hunting (if my cirrhosis gets any worse maybe I’ll write one myself), and that makes this book a fascinating read. My Confession is still in print and is not hard to find. Cheap too, only $30 for a big coffee table job with dozens of color plates.
I also wonder if McCarthy read any of Paul I. Weilman’s books such as Spawn Of Evil (1964), Death On The Prairie (1934), Death In The Desert (1935) and A Dynasty of Western Outlaws (1961), all nonfiction, they deal with “The Evening Redness In The West” unflinchingly. This is the part of American history we weren’t taught in school.
While I’m pondering, I wonder if his Knoxville novels (The Orchard Keeper, Suttree, Child Of God) were influenced by Harry M. Caudill’s Night Comes To The Cumberlands (1963), a study of violence in the depressed area where Kentucky borders West Virginia, a place where fueds lasted generations and blood was shed over things like the placement of a fence post. Whether McCarthy is familiar with the above works of history I guess really doesn’t matter, but if you care to know about who and what we, as Americans (hell, check that, we as people period) really are, you owe it to yourself to track down these volumes. These books are not for the faint of heart or soft of head.
One last thought, a quote from Mr. McCarthy that I agree with wholeheartedly:

“There’s no such thing as life without bloodshed, I think the notion that the species can be improved in some way, that everyone could live in harmony, is a really dangerous idea. Those who are afflicted with this notion are the first ones to give up their souls, their freedom. Your desire that it be that way will enslave you and make your life vacuous.”

Thanks to Jeff Roth at the New York Times for turning me onto Spawn Of Evil, and that smelly bookshop in Paris for selling it to me.

Today’s Special- Free Rolling Stones Outtakes!

The first LP I ever owned was the first Rolling Stones album, got it for Christmas in ’64, I was five years old and even then, I knew this is good shit. I still play it, the same copy. I drew a mustache on Bill Wyman on the back cover.

I don’t know how they got so good and I’ll bet they don’t either. I do know they haven’t made a decent record since Tattoo You in ’81 but that’s okay. I saw them do a great acoustic show at the Paradiso in Amsterdam in the early 90’s but the record from that show– Stripped wasn’t very good, they’d gone back and fixed all the mistakes and took the life out of the thing. I liked the live version of “Oh No, Not You Again” they played live a few summer’s back at Lincoln Center before their press conference. Their last big greatest hits package Forty Licks had one nice new tune– Keith’s “Am I Losing My Touch”, but their records mainly suck these days, and I think even they know it.  I read an interview with Keith Richards a few years back who said something to the effect of “we could still  make great records, but the record company would never release them”.  So they bring in lames like Donald Was and Baby Face to try and make them sound as bland as everything else on the radio. Keith did make a great record about ten years ago which Virgin refused to promote or even distribute– it’s a Jamaican gospel record recorded at Keith’s house in Jamaica, mostly acapella with a bit of African percussion for flavor.  Keith dubbed his rasta songbirds The Wingless Angels.  Here’s their version
of the traditional gospel tune Morning Train. You should try and hunt down the CD,
it’s the best thing Keith’s done in decades.
According to Martin Elliot’s The Rolling Stones: Complete Recording Sessions 1962-2002 (Cherry Red, 2002) these next four tracks were done in August or September of 1978  in L.A. at RCA Recorders (where “Satisfaction” was done) and feature the Small Faces’ Ian McLagen on piano. Keith is singing lead and playing the rack harmonica and guitar on the three versions of Jimmy Reed’s “My First Plea” (which features the classic line– “don’t pull no subway/I’d rather see you  pull a train”– translation—I’d rather see you gangbanged than gone).  Freddie Cannon’s “Tallahassee Lassie” (which Charles Gillet called “the worst rock’n’roll record ever made” in his classic Sound Of The City: The Rise Of Rock, 1970) seems to have always been one of Mick’s favorites, he even said the end of “Brown Sugar” was ripped off from it. Anyone out there have any info on the life of Kenny Paulson who played guitar on the Freddie Cannon original? I know he ended up in prison and died of a heroin overdose in ’74 and that’s about it. Anyways, here they are, ladies, gentlemen and hermaphrodites of the jury, The Rolling Stones: 
Dig how perfect the cymbal crash is, it sounds like they’re playing over the original Jimmy Reed track. For comparison’s sake, here’s the original Jimmy Reed version
They may dress like the Golden Girls these days, but god  love ’em, where would we be without the Rolling Stones?

Bill Peitsch 1962-2007 The Last King Of Rock’n’Roll

Sunday marks the year anniversary of Billy Peitsch’s death. I knew him for twenty years and I can safely say he was the coolest person I’ve even known. His death, coming so soon after the deaths of my close friends Bob and Alice Quine, Kelly Keller, Dee Dee Ramone, Cordell Jackson, and Hasil Adkins sent me into a state of shock that I’m just now starting to emerge from. I’m not a good enough writer to do justice to his life and achievements,but  if you knew Bill you know what I mean. He was one of a kind in the best way. And one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. I never had less than a great time when Bill was  around, he could take the piss out of lames like no one I’ve ever seen, he could fix your car, explain to you why the Brooklyn Bridge didn’t fall into the river, expound on why Chuck Berry was the greatest songwriter ever, and when Andre Williams would go missing in action five minutes to show time it was Bill who could find him, get his false teeth back in Andre’s mouth

and get him onstage.

For the unfamiliar he was best known as the drummer/singer of the Church Keys, as well as several other bands like Purple Wizard. Visit film maker Danny Rose’s site Wayne County Ramlin’ which is chock full of photo and video material.
 I have two funny stories I can share. At the bar I own, the Lakeside Lounge, some lowlife suburban squat slummer threw a brick at my bartender. Bill chased the perp down but they got into the door of their squat and threw the bolt just in time— they thought. The next day Bill returned with a sledge hammer and a posse, and we never had trouble in the bar again. 
My other story is when I set Bill up with some goofy VH1 film crew who were making a tv show about “male groupies”.  I was trying to publicize a band I was managing at the time called the Prissteens  (two of whom would later form Purple Wizard with Bill). So VH1 came to film Bill as a Prissteens groupie (which he really wasn’t, although he’s credited on their LP as their Fluffer).  When the camera started to roll so did Bill and he had the host so flustered they had to stop filming four or five times. The guy was simply no match for Bill in mental chess and the crew concurred, basically letting Bill direct his own segment.  He was inter spliced with a Sarah McGlaughlin (or however it’s spelled) groupie in the final edit. It’s quite hilarious. I lost my copy, if anyone out there has it please post it on Youtube and let me know. It aired half dozen times in Febuary of ’98.  Bill was a natural and had quite a few film credits including Bruce Bennett’s short Shirt Sleeves, Chris Frieri’s I Was A Teenage Mummy and Danny Rose’s Wayne County Ramlin‘. He recorded a killer LP for Norton (The Church Keys Ale Up) and a couple of amazing 45’s (“Peephole” is particularly brilliant, a work out on Bill’s Chuck Berry obsession)
I miss Bill Peitsch as much as I am proud to have known him. They’ll  never be another like him. He left behind his wife Andrea and two young children– Wendy Jean and Billy Ray Jr., and I’ll try to find out if there’s any sort of official channel for helping them out and post it here as soon as I know. I think I need to go take some heroin now.
BTW the above Japanese beer commercial featuring the Church Keys classic “Ale Up” was shot at my bar the Lakeside Lounge, I think I’m show up when the camera pans the bar. Also, notice in the photo, even the cop is smiling. The girl on the left is Lori Yorkman who was in the Prissteens and Purple Wizard.

Ronnie Hawkins & the Hawks

Not much to say today, but I love this Scopitone clip of Ronnie Hawkins & the Hawks.Yes, the big eared blond on drums is Levon Helm.  Not their best tune (for that, try this one– their version of Bo Diddley’s Who Do You Love from 1960 (Roullette). It was a huge hit in Canada whose radio stations blasted it into Detroit at the time, evidently it was a big influence on the Stooges’ James Wiliamson whose solo on Search & Destroy would echo it twenty two years later. Enjoy. BTW My airchecks are logged here: if you’re lookin’ for ’em.

The Rolling Stones, Howlin’ Wolf, James Burton & Dope

I remember seeing this when it first aired, I must’ve been five or six years old and I worshipped the Rolling Stones the way my older brother worshipped the Beatles.

My asshole stepfather (who voted for George Wallace in ’68, if you’re still alive out there die you vile prick) never had much to say about the Beatles but the site of the Stones on our b&w tv would send him into a red faced drunken Irish rage. “Dope fiends”! It was the first time I’d ever heard of dope. But I knew, from that moment that some day I’d be a dope fiend.  Anything that made him mad had to be good. 
Anyway, it was because of this cameo I picked up on Howlin’ Wolf and even got my grandmother to buy me his Evil album for Christmas the next year, setting off another life long obsession— old blues records.  Seeing this clip now brings all that back, but I never realized that James Burton, star of Dale Hawkins’ “Suzi Q” and many Ricky Nelson, Bob Luman, Elvis, Gram Parsons, Merle Haggard, etc. hits was backing up the Wolf. He sure sound good, no?  It’s a bit of a long clip but it reminds me of just how the right bit of stimuli could change a kid’s life. I knew I’d never have a 9-5 job or house and family in the suburbs as soon as that first door to another world was cracked open just an inch. If you watch the whole clip there’s a funny Righetous  Brothers ripoffs doin’ a pretty cool version  “Work With Me Annie”, them I don’t remember.

Etta James Rocks The House

First thing I saw was Bo Diddley making movies. Bo’s been making movies–private movies–for over thirty years. Child, Bo’s got him some movies wouldn’t believe. So there he was, going from room to room with his camera, aiming his lens at all the juiciest action. And there I was, with the Shirelles giggling behind me, trying to keep them out of the rooms were they didn’t belong, rooms where I could see the glow of Bo’s horny camera.

The hotel suite was a maze of corridors and hidden corners, and I didn’t know where to look first. With the Shirelles looking over my shoulder I opened a bathroom door, only to slam it closed. “I didn’t know men did things like that to each other,” said one of the Shirelles.
Down at the far end, I saw the glow of Bo’s camera lighting up the transom above an ornate double door. I heard the sound of familiar voices. Something hot was happening. Dying of curiosity, I sent the girls off to the kitchen to fix some coffee while I snuck off to see about the room at the end of the hall. The giggles and groans were getting louder. I tested the door to see if it was locked. It wasn’t. When I looked inside, there was Bo with his camera pointed at Blondene laying on her back on the bed. Except for a French beret cocked ace-duece to the side of her head, the girl was buck naked. Legs wide open. Right next to her was Little Willie John who, talking to the camera, was the tour guide, exploring her privates with his fingers while explaining, “Now this here is so-and-so”. Willie was giving an anatomy lesson….Little Richard was also in the room, enjoying the show….” — from Rage To Survive by Etta James and David Ritz, Villard Books, 1995.
So where are Bo Diddley’s home movies today? Do the executors of his will know what a gold mine they’re sitting on? 
     Speaking of Bo, I posted a few antidotes about the three times my path crossed with Bo Diddley’s at Boogie Woogie Flu after he passed away last June.
Anyway, I love this clip of Etta James. Dig those eyebrows! Dig that wig! She used to play a lot in the 80’s at the old Lone Star Cafe on 13th St and 5th Ave (a building that’s been empty for years now, landlords would rather let a space rot than rent  it at a reasonable price in NYC, they get a tax break for letting it sit vacant!).
One night I stumbled in to catch her late set and Keith Richard came stumbling out of the sparse audience, wobbled onto the stage and jammed for a few songs. Etta was so tickled she kept goosing him! Anyway, thanks to Michele Kozuchowski for pullin’ my coat to the Etta clip.

I’m A Schaapy happy pappy

Ever since they took the Teletubbies off tv at 8:30 am I’ve gone back to listening to WKCR’s Bird Flight every morning. I forgot what a great morning ritual this can be. I mean, I think I own almost everything Charlie Parker ever recorded (except I lost my copy of the bootleg where he plays behind Little Jimmy Scott, sometimes credited to Chubby Newsome, anyone know where I can find it these days?).

For the unfamiliar, here in NYC and streaming on the web, Columbia University’s WKCR (89.9 FM or broadcasts an hour and ten minutes (8:20 am- 9:30 am, EST) of nothing but the music of Charlie Parker, hosted by Phil Schaap, probably America’s greatest walking repository of jazz lore. It’s the perfect way to wake up, even if your whole day is fucked, at least you got a good dose of Bird to let you know what  greatness a human is capable of. It’s something to look forward to whether you’re up and making coffee or lying in bed, it beats the hell out starting your day listening to the news and getting depressed before you’ve even gotten dressed.
In the week before and after WKCR’s yearly Charlie Parker/Lester Young birthday
marathon (their birthdates are Aug. 27 for Pres, Aug. 29 for Bird so every year KCR does a 72 hour extravaganza) Schaap, who has been working his way through the Bird discography in chronological order, has spent an inordinate amount of time dissecting the Dial session from 1946 that produced  “Lover Man”, “Be Bop”, “Gypsy” and “The Blues”.
“Lover Man” is one of the milestones of American music (and the record that really got me into jazz courtesy of the late Bob Quine) and a record that Bird hated and didn’t want released at all. As Schaap has explained in painstaking detail, the severely strung out Bird was going through heroin withdrawal during the session and it sounds it. During the fast tunes (“Gypsy” and “Be Bop”) his incredible skills are greatly diminished for perhaps the only time in his recording career. But on “Lover Man”, one can hear and feel the sound of great pain, foreboding, pathos and all those other things anyone who has ever kicked a habit can attest to. It is a masterpiece and has rightly been acknowledged so from everyone from Mingus to Mr. Schaap.
Phil Schaap’s knowledgeand enthusiasm r eally brings all of this jazz history to life. To say he knows his shit is an understatement. He gives session dates and personal details, but he also gives his listeners so much more. Schaap fills the dactual gaps, no holds barred. Like letting us know that “Moose The Mooche” was named for Parker’s dope connection, and that Bird had signed over his royalties to Moose (whose real last name was Byrd) for the price of some smack. Schaap’s critics say  he rambles too long on mike, but I find every bit of it fascinating. So much misinformation and fanciful elaoration has colored the Bird legacy (such as Ross Russell’s book Bird Lives) and there is much b.s. for Schaap to straighten out, and he does, par excellence. But he goes so much further and keeps things in perspective, after all it’s music that is important, the gossip  might be interesting or fun or even enlightening, but it doesn’t make the music any thing other than what it is, and in Bird’s case the is, is brilliant. The other day Schaap managed to sync two turntables to play the ’46 “Lover Man” simultaneously with the version Bird recut in the early 50’s. This was to illustrate just how closely Bird managed to remake his own record, an astounding feat in the das before click tracks or even head phones. What other deejay would go to such lengths?
I came late to jazz fandom (I didn’t really get it until my early  20’s) but over the years I feel like I’ve gotten a pretty decent education in jazz just digging Schaap, who also hosts a Saturday 6-9 PM show called “Traditions In Swing” as well as many birthday salute marathons (coming up are John Coltrane on September 23 and Thelonious Monk on October 10). One year they did ten days straight of Sun Ra.
Schaap’s obsessive style of broadcasting in an anomaly in the modern world and I wish there were more like him.  Why doesn’t cable radio have anyone like Schaap? What will happen to all the lore he carries in his head when he dies? Someday he’ll be gone and like the jazz greats he lives to herald, there’s nobody to replace him. So enjoy it now, nothing good lasts forever.
For those interested in developing an ear for jazz, Schaap teaches classes in jazz history at Swing University which is part of the Jazz at Lincoln Center complex. If I thought I could sit still for two hours I’d sign up (and I may still give it a shot). For more info try:


Let me explain, I messed up the first post today by inserting the links to the discussed tunes wrong, then it took a few tries to figure out why I had messed up but I finally got it right. So today’s post is Meanwhile Back In The Jungle (scroll down) the rest are attempts to get the links workin’ so you could here those two great tunes, and now this is here to explain to scroll down to today’s post. I did want to add one more link, that’s the one to the archive of Hound radio shows: I’ll be updating this blog regular like, and Brian who tends to the Hound archives adds new shows and podcasts weekly.
Also in the next few days I’ll start to add links to some blogs I read. Over & out for today I hope….