Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Georgia: No Matter What Ray Charles Tells You,

You are NOT routinely on my mind...

As a matter of fact, I rarely consider Georgia in my daily thoughts. Don't get me wrong, it's nothing personal, but I think maybe Georgia needs to be knocked off that pedestal it's perched atop. Really, it's for Georgia's own good... Lest the whole state become stuck up and diva-y...

So Georgia,
you may have always been on Ray's mind, but you're really not all that... Your southern neighbor probably has you beat for musical diversity, but that's not to say you haven't produced some good stuff...

Just stop acting all better than everybody else already...

Now that we've reached an understanding, we can go ahead and talk about some of Georgia's better qualities without fearing that we're going to be told to get Georgia it's own dressing room, or bring them a Tab, or have their cell phone chucked at our head... These are the things that can happen when good states go bad...

So what does the wiki have to say about wholly average Georgia:

- Georgia is a sovereign Nation located in the Caucasus region of the middle east.

- Georgia was once a part of the USSR

- We are ALL Georgians

- Hold Up... Wrong Georgia... Whew... I was a bit concerned abut having to pull out a write up of Sopho Khalvashi...

Here's what the wiki-ster has to say about the STATE of Georgia:

- Georgia is the third fastest growing state in the nation as of 2007

- Alabama is starting to feel kind of crowded and is considering complaining that Georgia aught to try and slim down...

- The above would combine into a seriously messed up pie.

- Some corporations headquartered in Atlanta are: Arby's, Chick-fil-A, The Coca-Cola Company, Georgia Pacific, Hooters, Cox, and Delta Air Lines. Major corporations in other parts of the state include: Aflac, CareSouth, Home Depot, Newell Rubbermaid, Primerica Financial Services, United Parcel Service, Waffle House and Zaxby's.

- Yes, Arbys, Hooters, Chick-Fil-A, Waffle House and Coca-Cola ALL came from the same state...

- Georgia wants to make the rest of us fat.

- Girl Scouting in the United States of America began on March 12, 1912 when Juliette "Daisy" Gordon Low organized the first Girl Scout troop meeting of 18 girls in Savannah, Georgia.

- James Arthur Williams, the subject of the non-fiction bestseller Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. was a famous resident of Savannah Georgia.

- Jim Williams was by no account ever a Girl Scout.

- Georgia is the name of a coffee based beverage sold by the Japanese subsidiary of the Coca-Cola company in Japan. 'Georgia' sells more than twice as many units in Japan than Coca-Cola does.

- 'Georgia' cannot be purchased in Georgia.

- Georgia has musicians. Don't believe me? See below.

The Selections:

I must admit, and I know it's going to come as a great shock to most, if not all of the people who read this, but I'm really not very cool. I know this implicitly because I don't often listen to Ray Charles, and ALL the cool people listen to Ray Charles.

That being said, I have tremendous admiration and respect for Ray Charles' body of work. Jazz, soul, R&B, rock & roll, pop, and even a foray into country & western.

Ray Charles began recording on the well known Jazz label Downbeat, releasing one single under the label before moving on to Swingtime records, a short lived label owned by black entrepreneur Jack Lauderdale. Again Charles released just one song before moving on again to Atlantic, where he would land 27 tracks on the Billboard charts between 1953 and 1960.

Charles' Atlantic hits included "Mess Around", "Night Time Is the Right Time", and "What'd I Say", which peaked at #6 on the hot 100 chart, making Charles more than just an R&B success story.

In spite of his success at Atlantic, the release of Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music two years after moving over the ABC label, where he would record for 16 years, turned Ray Charles from a R&B star and crossover name to a legitimate musical icon bridging genres and eventually, generations.

Much is known about the personal struggles of Ray Charles as documented in the 2004 film Ray, released just months after the singer's death from liver cancer.

Apparently, the soul of Ray Charles has incalculable healing powers, as I began this blog post with a killer headache which has now faded into nothing more than a memory... This is either the work of a disembodied musical genius or half a dozen Advil. I am happy to give credit to either.

Here's Ray's What'd I Say

Band: REM

If you are a regular reader, I think you for your support and worry for your mental health, but I also assume you recall this post, in which I discuss a film centering around the music scene of Athens, Georgia. Athens was on the way to become the new Mecca for alt-rock the world over. Unfortunately for the home of the University of Georgia, Seattle's grunge scene ended up stealing that spotlight, and many of the Athens bands featured in the film were destined to live in obscurity.

As mentioned in the prior post, the big stories out of Athens were REM, and our honorable mention, who we shall discuss later, although I do feel the need at this time to give a plug to Pylon, who were featured in the film, hyped by REM as limitless talents, and whom I have later purchased the first album by, and greatly enjoyed. Here's hoping that Pylon continues in their modern day success and can join the list of uber-successful Athens Georgia alt-rockers.

Unlike Ray Charles, REM is a band I routinely listen to, and a band that I have a highly dysfunctional love/hate relationship with. Luckily for Stipe, Buck, Mills and Berry I'm currently loving, rather than hating...

This has a lot to do with the fact that they FINALLY put out another decent album.

To their credit, even through the doldrums of Up, Reveal, and Around the Sun, oddly enough the first three studio albums after the departure of original drummer Bill Berry, REM has always managed to explore alternate sounds without ever fully pinning themselves to a genre, more or less defining 'Alternative' music since the non-genre's inception.

Luckily for those of us faithfully listening, they have returned to their with-Berry form on their most recent release Accelerate. So much so, I was under the impression Bill had actually returned to recording with the band, but checking out the liner notes, the band's official website, and any other info sources reveals that not a Berry is to be found. I guess the 4 legged version of REM finally figured out how to run with 3 legs.

However, my selection of REM stems from much more than the fact they finally managed a post Bill Berry decent album, it extends from the fact they released 10 albums before Berry LEFT, seven or eight of which are very good, and the other two won't put you to sleep the way the late 90's/early 200's stuff will...

Here's some old school REM when Stipe had hair...

And some from the modern day...

Honorable Mention: The B-52's

The 'Other' Athens band was actually the first of the two to chart a single with 1979's Rock Lobster, however it took eleven more years and the death of a guitarist for the B's to reach their peak of success, making their name on the back of what could be one of the most annoying party songs ever recorded, Love Shack.

In fairness, I once liked this song. In fact, I enjoyed it the first five or six hundred times I heard it. Unfortunately, that was about three thousand plays ago, so if I never hear Love Shack again, it will still be as fresh in my mind as ever.

Aside from my detest of the chronically overplayed 'shack', there are some killer 52's tunes that didn't get the love of their pop masterwork. Early tracks like Rock Lobster and Private Idaho are now pretty well known, but other great finds from the early days include Planet Claire, 52 Girls and Dance This Mess Around from their self titled debut, Party Out of Bounds, Quiche Lorraine and Strobe Light from the follow up Wild Planet, Mesopotamia from the EP of the same name, Whammy Kiss, and Song for a Future Generation from 1983's Whammy!, every single track from my personal favorite B-52's album Bouncing off the Satellites, and all the cuts that are not Love Shack off their breakthrough 1989 record Cosmic Thing.

Their 1992 follow-up to Cosmic, Good Stuff, is in my opinion, painfully bad.

I have heard nothing but good things about this year's long awaited next attempt Funplex but I am yet to purchase or listen to the whole album. The titular first release however is the best thing they've released in 18 years, and even without it, they've built up plenty of credit to share in the Georgia honors.

Here's a B-52's classic from 'Bouncing'

And here's this year's model, bringing you Funplex

Next time we'll get all tropical and enjoy the island getaway of Hawaii. All hail Kamehameha!

Mired in self-actualization

OK, so I was all set to move forward on Georgia and keep the 50 states a-rolling through to the exciting land of Wyoming, but I'm afraid I've become bogged down...

Don't blame me, blame my iPod...
I was fully ready to commence a snark heavy write up about Savannah, and Gone With the Wind, and Ted Turner, and peaches, and former WWF superstar The Big Bossman, but then it happened...
Like a flash of light transporting my essence through the ether into a wholly different demention of space and time, a land where clocks run backward and it's still totally acceptable to wear bellbottoms and speak with an olde English accented drawl...
Or perhaps I just stuck my tongue in my desk fan...
My iPod started in on Van Morrison's Astral Weeks

I am therefore rendered snarkless, and paralysed to all things not cosmically intertwined with the goodness of the universe as a whole. Such is the power of Van Morrison...

So while I try and claw my way out of this powerfully ethereal Morrison-Mind-Meld, enjoy some less relevant musical expression...

I hope to rend my soul from Van's Irish Heartbeat prior to Thanksgiving, but if I do not, I hope the holiday finds you well fed, well lubricated, and stuffed to the brim with merriment...

Here's an early Turkey-Day gift, one of the forgotten treasures of the 80's...

Friday, November 21, 2008


Diversity, thy name is Florida...

Influenced by the deep south, the even DEEPER south known as Cuba, and an ever increasing number of transplanted residents from around the country and the world, Florida, like California is defined mostly by it's especially melty melting-pot, even if all the ingredients don't always see eye to eye.

Florida's music mirrors the state's eclectic style with genres ranging from sugar-pop boy bands NSync and O Town, to death metal mavericks Death with plenty of southern-fried rock, salsa, emo, industrial, punk, and country mixed in.

First and foremost, what do our friends at the Wiki have to say about Florida?

- Florida stole Alabama's flag and stuck their seal on it! That's pretty messed up right there...

- Florida was named by Juan Ponce de León in honor of Florida Evans, matriarch of the Evans family on Good Times.

- Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, Florida was inhabited by the native Seminole tribe who were slowly driven west off their lands as more and more European settlers arrived in the Florida colony. But hey, at least they got a college mascot named after them...

- Pensacola sits on the gulf of Mexico at the westernmost tip of the Florida panhandle.

- RC Cola will sit in a refrigerator for years before it is finally thrown out, never having been drank.

- President Andrew Jackson led the US army into Spanish held Florida, sparking the 1st Seminole war. To this day, Florida State University will not accept $20 bills for this very reason.

- That's not true. FSU will take your $20's, but they're not going to be happy about it...

- Not wishing to be forgotten, the state of Florida seceded from the union 10 days before the beginning of the Civil War, becoming one of the founding members of the Confederate States of America.

- Florida was the least populated southern state through most of the first half of the 20th century. After World War II, a rash of new residents began streaming in from the north to take advantage of the climate making them now the 4th most populated state in the country.

- As the Jewish population of New York continues to age, Florida will likely slip past The Empire State into 3rd place by the year 2011.

- All of the Otter Pop family is originally from Florida, with the exception of Poncho Punch who defected from Cuba under Louie-Bloo Raspberry's beret. He lived undetected for a short while as Rip Van Lemon before completing the necessary immigration paperwork in the mid 1970's when he reverted to his given name.

- Otter Pops actually have nothing to do with the state of Florida, and were first discovered by man in 1908 by John King Davis whilst unlocking the mysteries of Antarctica. The first Otter Pops being thawed from the side of a desolate ice cave where they then sprung to life and killed all in their wake with the exception of Mr. Davis who was left alive to tell the story, and raised a bushel of baby Otter Pops on the deck of his ship. The relocated Otter Pops thrived, multiplied, and are now willing to give their lives as tasty snack treats. To this day however, there is a primitive group of bloodthirsty Otter Pops living at the southernmost tip of our planet known by explorers only as The Ottsquatch.

- OK, I'm not sure where I'm going with this. I think I might have popped a blood vessel in my brain... Let's get back to Florida...

- Florida is known as 'The Sunshine State' in spite of the fact that Florida has a higher annual rainfall than any other state in the nation. This proves that Florida is not just a flag thief, but also a climate liar.

- Florida will be running for elected office in the near future.

Onward, to the selections!

Solo Artist: Tom Petty

If 'The Internet' was just some magical pickup truck found only in science fiction, rather than a magical set of tubes that exists in the really real world, I might have no way of determining where Tom Petty originally hails from, short of buying a book about Tom Petty, and I'm just not THAT big a fan. However, even if I had no way of knowing where Tom Petty was from, if I was forced to guess, I'd likely guess Florida.

Equal parts southern drawl, slow jazz style, and hard rocking street smarts, Tom Petty, especially in his early recordings with the Heartbreakers personifies my opinion of life in Florida... Of course, I've known Tom Petty was from Florida for a long time, so perhaps, my opinion of Florida is colored by Tom Petty, rather than the other way around...

Excuse me for a moment while I spiral into a haze of philosophical detritus, drowning in the chafe of my own misconceptions and rationalizations...

OK, back to Tom Petty. he's from... Florida right?

Hell yes he is.

It's actually kind of a slap in the face to Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, Ron Blair, Scott Thurston, and Steve Ferrone, AKA The Heartbreakers to select Tom Petty as a solo artist, but the band all hooked up in Los Angeles, and Los Angeles isn't in Florida, and California was all out of room. Hence, Tom Petty, sans Heartbreakers is Florida's #1 solo son.

That, and none of The Heartbreakers were responsible for this.

As far as music goes, I guess I just assume TP doesn't need much of an introduction. From American Girl, You Got Lucky, Don't Come Around Here No More, Learnin' to Fly, Last Dance With Mary Jane, etc. There's a whole lot of goodness to be found here. Here's a TP&tHB track that IMO just screams Florida.

Here's Tom Petty, asking Nomar Garciaparra to stay away...

Now what would happen if you took Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, force fed them copious amounts of speed and acid, and locked them in a casket for about 12 years?

I'm thinking it would be time for a little Cake and Sodomy .
To be fair, just like Tom Petty really shouldn't be taken without The Heartbreakers, Marilyn Manson is really all about Brian Hugh 'Marilyn Manson' Warner. The thing is, Warner was born in Ohio, not Florida, but the band, Manson, Daisy Berkowitz, Olivia Newton Bundy, and later Twiggy Ramirez, Madonna Wayne Gacy, Gidget Gein, Sara Lee Lucas, and Ginger Fish became the collective Marilyn Manson & The Spooky Kids in Fort Lauderdale Florida. Before releasing their first studio album, Portrait of an American Family, the boys then consisting of Manson, Berkowitz, Gacy, Lucas, Gein and Ramirez shortened their moniker simply to Marilyn Manson. The most recognizable and alliterative of the Fashion Icon/Serial Killer naming convention adopted by all.

I was a huge fan of this album, and also really enjoyed MM's 4th full length, Mechanical Animals however my favorite Marilyn Manson tune is actually a b-side cover from the Lunchbox maxi-single, Down in the Park originally released by Gary Numan with Tubeway Army. Here's a 1995 live version.

I bet if I dug deep enough I could come up with another artist from Florida that's a 'personal favorite' style choice, but I instead tried to paint a picture of Florida's musical diversity, while completely denying the existence and Florida cred of Lynard Skynard.

So I ask myself if Tom Petty is the mid point of a spectrum with Marilyn Manson at one end, who would need to be at the other end in order to show the most variation in style?

The exact mathematical equation is Tom Petty minus the Heartbreakers plus Marilyn Manson multiplied by The Spooky Kids divided by Average White Band (Who incidentally are Scots just PRETENDING to sound like southerners) equals x or:

(TP - tHB) + (MM (tSK))/AWB= x

Since you likely aren't equipped with a popology graphing calculator, I'll do the heavy lifting for you...

x = Gloria Estefan and The Miami Sound Machine

C'mon, shake your body, baby...

I apologize... Apparently I couldn't control myself any longer...

We all know just about as much as we need to about the pop power and diva magistracy of the fabulous mizz Estefan and the Sound Machine hailing from Miami. If you feel you need to learn more, cliky the wiki...

Just to bring it full circle and close the loop on the state of Florida, Gloria Estefan, unlike Poncho Punch, actually WAS a Cuban exile, although it is unlikely she arrived in this country under an otter's beret...

See y'all next time, when we delve into the mystical world of Georgia which is neither mystical, nor an entire world... As a matter of fact, we'll barely leave one small town...

District of Columbia

DC, Capital City!
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,[1] promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

OK, so I had to look it up, but I almost remembered the whole thing on my own... I forgot the whole 'Blessings of liberty' part... I guess I shouldn't expect blessed liberty for myself OR my posterity...

I also realize that the Constitutional Convention was held in Philadelphia, not Washington DC, but it's the nation's capital, a nation built on the Constitution, a constitution that begins with the words above, words I had to memorize in the fourth grade and kind of still sort of remember now...

But this isn't about the history of our nation, this is about the history of music and DC's music history is all about jazz, R&B, and especially hardcore.

We'll get to that, but first, some fun facts from the Capital

- Washington DC was founded on July 16, 1790, making Washington DC 188 years and 2 days older than me.

- Washington DC is a planned community designed by world renowned French architect, engineer and city planner Pierre Charles L’Enfant.

- L'Enfant's name is French for 'Pete the Baby'

- Washington DC has a total land area of 68.3 sq. miles, broken into 4 quadrants of unequal area radiating from the Capitol Building. A bit full of ourselves, aren't we Congress?

- Washington DC used to be 100 sq. miles, but in 1846 the portion of the city ceded by Virginia was returned.

- The District cited the area 'not fitting' as the reason for the return.

- Virginia offered something in an alternate size, however DC chose to receive store credit instead.

- To this day, Washington DC still has credit at all Virgina 7-11 stores in an amount equal to a lifetime supply of free Slurpees.

- Moving forward, I choose to divide the whole of the world into 4 equal quadrants radiating from me. These quadrants will be known as Totally Awesome, Mostly Awesome, Sort Of OK, and Completely Sucky.

- Don't stand to the South East of me, if you know what's good for you.

- Washington DC has it's own flag, apparently feeling that the flag of the whole friggen' country isn't enough for it...

- Residents of Washington DC are expected to pay Federal income tax, just like the rest of us, however, the capital city does not have any dedicated Congresspersons or Senators.

- I guess since they get taxed and not represented, the least we can do is let them have their silly extra flag...

- The Washington Post, the District's leading daily newspaper is world famous for it's coverage of national and international politics, and for breaking the Watergate scandal.

- For some reason The Washington Post still has a sports section, in spite of the fact that no professional sports team from Washington DC has ever won anything, and likely never will.

- OK, so The Redskins have won 3 Superbowls, that still doesn't change the fact that the WaPo's 'Sports Section' is completely useless, much like The Nationals, The Capitals, and The Wizards.

- Washington basketball USED to be OK when they were The Bullets, but then they got all 'PC' and lame...

But enough about all that nonsense, let's pick some artists!:

I am no great fan of Motown. I'm actually pretty anti-Motown across the board based on the fact I was exposed to A LOT of it growing up with LA's KRTH 101.1

I mean really, there ARE other artists of the 60's besides The Supremes, K-Earth... Give a break already!! Or if you'd prefer, 'Set me free why don't ya babe, get out my life why don't ya babe, cause you don't really need me...'

You get it...

The main exception, and there are a few, to my anti-Motown rule is Washington DC's Marvin Gaye. Likely because Gaye wasn't about the 'you-write-it-I'll-sing-it-somebody-will-come-up-with-a-dance-routine-to-it-and-we'll-all-wear-blue-tuxedos-and-perform-on-Bandstand' Motown formula. Marvin Gaye was about writing and singing his own material, or at least being involved in the arrangement and production on his albums, a practice that is second nature across almost all pop genres today.

The persistence and self-assuredness of Gaye when promoting his timeless classic What's Going On simply changed the whole genre of R&B. After it's success despite no real financial backing, artists were given more control over the tone and content of their recordings and due to the success of the What's Going On LP, the concept album found roots in soul, not just art rock.

Marvin's later work, just before his death at the hands of his father, are seen as quintessential examples of R&B romance tracks popularized in the 70's by both Gaye and Barry White. Gaye's Let's Get It On being responsible for countless children born since it's 1973 release.

Gaye's untimely death while intervening in an argument between his parents was a tremendous blow to the music industry, sending ripples that persist to this day with tribute albums, songs in Gaye's honor, and soon, two biopics are scheduled for release detailing the rise and fall of this American Icon.

Please to enjoy The Prince of Soul's What's Going On/What's Happening Brother

Band: Fugazi

Not as memorable or influential as Gaye, but certainly harder, and more evocative of the DC hardcore sound that has dominated the area since the mid 1970's, Fugazi was a DC hardcore supergroup made up primarily of Ian MacKaye, vocalist and front man for hardcore's grandpappy starter band Minor Threat and Guy Picciotto former singer, guitarist and founder of Emo's GREAT grandpappy Rites of Spring.

Fugazi further illustrated the stylistic differences of DC hardcore bands like Threat and Bad Brains from their peers like LA's Black Flag and New Jersey's Misfits/Samhain/Danzig by mixing their hard edged punk sound with funk and reggae back beats. Fugazi also separated themselves from the pack with MacKaye and Picciotto's innovate dual-lead guitar style, kind of a punk/metal/funk version of 'dueling banjos'.

Fugazi has not officially broken up, instead choosing to refer themselves on a 'hiatus' since contributing to the 2002 compilation 20 Years of Dischord during which time Picciotto has continued producing with Dischord Records, MacKaye has gone on to record with a new band, The Evens, Joe Lally with Ataxia and Brendan Canty with Garland of Hours.

Here's Fugazi's classic Waiting Room complete with moshers!

Hononable Mention: Henry Rollins

Would any trip through DC be complete without visiting Henrietta Collins and the Wifebeating Childhaters?

Before he was fronting Black Flag, lifting weights, beating up audience members, going on spoken word tours, doing a turn with David Lynch in Lost Highway, hosting his own show on the Sundance channel, or speaking out for equal rights Henry Lawrence Garfield was a skinny, angry DC kid making his way into the local hardcore scene with his first band State of Alert.

SoA didn't make it very far, but it did give Rollins an excuse to hang with other rockers, and eventually offer the LA band Black Flag to crash on his couch while touring the DC area. That relationship turned into occasional turn on stage with BF, and eventually into a full time singing gig when Flag vocalist Dez Cadena, himself a replacement for Chavo Pederast, the 2nd Flag singer replacing the original Keith Morris who left to form Circle Jerks, decided he'd had enough of singing and wanted to focus on guitar.

For Black Flag, the fourth time was the charm. Rollins became the most prolific, and most recognizable member of Black Flag of all the seventeen members associated with the band during their 1977-1986 history. Rollins' hard edged style extended beyond the songs. He was well known for grinding his teeth and pacing the stage before shows, getting into verbal and physical altercations with the crowd during shows, and creating rifts between band members with his desire to move Flag into a more metal centered direction.

Finally, in '86, the Flag had flown, and Rollins moved on to form The Rollins Band, having already toured as a solo spoken word artist even while still fronting Black Flag. The Rollins Band found more commercial success than SoA or Flag ever had, their top 40 LP Weight earning them a shot on stage at Woodstock '94, catapulting Rollins into the mainstream, where in his slightly mellowed age, he embraced his stardom through acting, sitting for interviews, and heavy political activism.

Here's Henry's '94 smash Liar

Next time: No rest for the wicked, Florida is already written and just needs some last minute prettifyin', so get reading!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

DC Dee Layed


So I've finished writing Florida, and I was all into the editing and clickifying, and picture adding part and whatnot when I realized, I was supposed to stop and do DC before getting into Florida...


As a result, there my not be a new state posted tonight, depending on how long I'm hung up with 'the District'... However, since Florida is ready to go, there's a better than average chance there will be two states posted tomorrow...

Grassy arses to all, and sorry for the Capitol sized screw up...


Wednesday, November 19, 2008


What's that I smell? It must be Delaware!

Or maybe it's just George Thorogood...

We're going to give Delaware the benefit of the doubt and forget they were responsible for this abomination on blues rock. After all they're just a little state... Smaller even than last post's Connecticut, but they could totally whoop Rhode Island's ass...

In addition to being small, there are other things Delaware has going for it, and I'd love to tell you what they are...

I just don't really know any...

Ooh! our new VP was a Senator there... I know that...

I also know the capital of Delaware is Dover, and if John Denver had been born with the name Ben Deutschendorf, and had been a big fan of Delaware, he likely would have ended up in a different line of work...

I also discovered through the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame (don't ask) that Judge Reinhold is from Delaware... Just imagine the heights to which Judge would have soared had he picked the stage name Ben Dover...

I bet Wikipedia knows some things about Delaware:

- Delaware is known at 'The First State' as they were the first to ratify the constitution.

- Delaware holds this over New Jersey every time the gang gets together for beers.

- The northern border between Delaware and Pennsylvania is unique as it is the only true arc boundary separating two states in the entire nation.

- Yes, I do find that interesting. I also spend lots of free time here...

- Delaware is divided into three counties. Just three. That's cute.

- Delaware is one of only 5 states without a single city population exceeding 100,000.

- The state with the most people is Denial, followed closely by Panic, Shock, and California.

- Delaware doesn't boast much, but when it does, it's usually about having the longest twin span suspension bridge in the world.

- The Delaware Destroyers routinely beat the Delaware Smash at basketball

- The Delaware Smash often times return the favor while on the tennis court.

Onward, to the music!

The Selections:

Solo Artist: Clifford Brown
Delaware is a teeny, tiny place that very few people come from, go to, or congregate in. As a result, a jazz trumpeter who died tragically at the age of 25 is the best possible option. Besides, we should all get back to our jazz roots from time to time, and Clifford 'Brownie' Brown was said to be a grand example of the jazz trumpet medium.

Named the Down Beat critic's poll 'New Star of 1954' Brownie was on his way to being a star in the bright jazz universe, and despite his untimely passing in a rainy night car accident, Brownie has been cited as an influence by jazz trumpeters including Donald Byrd, Lee Morgan, Booker Little, Freddie Hubbard, Valery Ponomarev, and Wynton Marsalis.

It's just wrong to copy and past from a Wikipedia entry, but I've got nothing. I do promise, Delaware, that the next time I'm looking for some jazz trumpet, I'll attempt to track down a recording of Clifford Brown.

Band: Television

So did you get the hint from the end of Connecticut?

You see, the band is called Television, and I quoted 'The Simpsons', a show... That's on TELEVISION...

Pretty sneaky huh?

I'd love to say that I've been listening to Television for a good long while, having discovered them at the same time as similar proto-punk acts like The Clash, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, etc., but that would be a big fat lie. I had heard of Television, mostly from bios and rock docs about the aforementioned artists, but it wasn't until I was surfing for downloads with a couple of bucks to spare that I decided to give them a shot, along with another punk-godfather band, the MC5.

Now I enjoyed Detroit's first wrecking crew of sonic death, the 'five', but Television absolutely blew me the eff AWAY. Marquee Moon is a triumph of recorded music, and had it only been my starting place into the world of punk rock, I likely would have wasted less time looking for artistry in The Sex Pistols, thereby better able to appreciate them for their thoughtless banging on helpless instruments, having found the real artists of punk here, in Delaware.

As a caveat, Television is oft seen as one of the New York proto-punk outfits, having played early shows at CBGB and Max's Kansas City. They earn their Delaware cred because the founding members Richard Hell (oft lauded purveyor of punk style) and Tom Verlaine met at St. Andrew's School in Middletown, DE. Hell and Verlaine, along with fellow DE'er Billy Ficca headed for New York to hit the big time, and never really quite found it. All have kept on, making a living off their love of music, but not as Television, and never in the meteoric rise fashion of some of the other New York punks.

Honorable Mention: Elisabeth Shue

OK, so she's an actress, not a singer, but she TOTALLY pulled off a lipsynch routine to He Kissed Me in Adventures in Babysitting, and you wouldn't want me giving Thorogood any kind of props would you? I did consider giving the spot to Valerie Bertinelli, since she was married to Eddie Van Halen, but c'mon... Aside from being an adventurous babysitter, she caught the eye of The Karate Kid, played Marty McFly's main squeeze in the second and third Back to the Future films, played the inevitable only-way-to-get-an-Oscar hooker in Leaving Las Vegas (got an Oscar nomination BTW...), and did a turn in the much-better-than-I-expected Hollow Man of which I had very low expectations.

Still, she does not sing, but may I remind you that Delaware is really REALLY small?

Ah, give me a break and enjoy Lisa rockin' out with her hairbrush...

Next, our tour of the nation continues alphabetically with the only non-state on the list, The District of Columbia. The rockin'est district this side of the Potomac...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I'd love to manage to BS my way into throwing Vampire Weekend into the Honorable Mention slot here. They're so totally from New York, having met and formed at Columbia University, and I have no certain knowledge that any of the members are actually from Connecticut, although their debut album does include a song entitled Oxford Comma and Oxford is most assuredly a town in Connecticut...

Alas, I cannot bring myself to stoop in such a way after I tore down Colorado for it's blatant artist theft. Connecticut will have to stand on it's own merits, and the gentlemen of VW will have to be content with a shout out here, because there's no way they'll crack the New York list...

Digression aside, welcome to Connecticut!

Connecticut has spawned their share of musicians, yet very few whole bands. It seems that if you are going to connect with other musicians and create a group sound, you have to venture out to New York, or in the case of Weezer front man Rivers Cuomo, Los Angels, before you can meet folks to play with. As a result, the list is kind of solo-artist heavy in a justified manner, but more on that in a while.

First, we must delve into the deepest, darkest reaches of Connecticut's history, culture, climate, and useless factoids!!

From me:

- Although Connecticut is spelled with three 'c's, one of them is silent.

- It's the middle one.

- Connecticut is wedged firmly between New York's Yankee fans, and Massachusetts' Boston Red Sox fans. I must be tough to root for the Pirates in Connecticut.

- In the amount of time it takes me to write this blog post, you could drive across Connecticut.

- Twice.

From Wiki:

- Connecticut is known as 'The Constitution State', which gives me the right to assemble whist speaking.

- Connecticut's first European settlers were Dutch, and if it ain't Dutch, it ain't much...

- Connecticut was one of the thirteen original colonies, back when the stars were in a circle...

- Connecticut's state hero is Nathan Hale

- My Hero is Alan Hale Jr.

- Connecticut would like you to join it in a moment of silence for The Hartford Whalers

- North Carolina takes this moment to point at Connecticut, and laugh at them while taunting 'We stole your hockey team'!

- North Carolina is a bully... But their uppance shall come...

- Both George W. Bush and Ralph Nader were born in Connecticut. Below are some famous people from Connecticut I WOULDN'T like to kick in the nuts...

The Selections:

Solo Artist: Liz Phair

From the opening notes of 6'1" on her debut Exile in Guyville Liz Phair proves she's not just a pretty faced pop star.

Even when she tries to be.

Catchy hooks, the occasional shedding guitar riff, and a whole lot of acerbically witty and poignant lyrics just dying to be sung loudly whilst slightly inebriated. This is not a teen idol mall bunny, or a singin' for equality 'girl w/ guitar' This is Liz, and by God, Liz is good.

Many early Liz Phair fans have soured recently with her seemingly pop-centric forays into big selling chart worthy tunes on her most recent albums. However, as much as the nay sayers may wish to say nay, she's still unafraid to get her hands, and mouth dirty with tracks like the self-titled Liz Phair album's HWC (Hot White Cum), and Rock Me.

On a personal opinion note, perhaps all the folks out to give Liz Phair a hard time for selling out could have kept the dirtier, rawer, more cynical Liz if they would have... Oh, I don't know... BOUGHT SOME ALBUMS...

Exile, oft critically acclaimed as being a genre-defining album creating the chick-core movement popular for the more interesting acts at Lilith Fair did eventually go gold, but topped out at 196th on the Billboard album charts. The follow-up and most popular of Liz's albums has also achieved gold status, but despite two charting singles, the album topped out at #27. Continuing with her not-so-successful tell it like it is formula, my favorite Liz Phair album, her 3rd Whitechocolatespaceegg didn't manage a single chart hit, and topped out at number 35 on the album chart, still not achieving gold status.

Is it any wonder that she chose to try a new direction? Alas, not even that has worked with her two post-pop acceptance albums both falling short of those before it, but at least a little success on the singles chart accompanied the self-titled release with Why Can't I hitting #32 on the Billboard hot 100. Still, too artsy for the charts, too charty for the arts poor Liz just can't find the middle. Keep trying please, and I'll keep buying the albums, even if no one else does.

Band: Sonic Youth (via Thurston Moore)

My personal opinion of Sonic Youth is similar to my personal opinion of Radiohead. I want so badly to like them, because I really think I should, but ultimately, when it comes to the music, I just plain don't. That doesn't mean I don't respect what they have done for the landscape of modern music.

First off, a little fuzzy logic to grant New York's Sonic Youth to Connecticut. Front man Thurston Moore was raised in Bethel, CT. That mere association wasn't enough for me to give Weezer the nod based on Rivers Coumo's birth state, but New York is a lot closer to Connecticut than LA is, and I was going to have to draw the line somewhere, or disregard the Connecticut roots of some great rock performers.If you're not familiar with Sonic Youth, that might not be such a bad thing. In many ways, the existence of Sonic Youth, as a light bearer for the New York experimental rock scene far surpasses their actual song-for-song or album-for-album credits. that said, Sonic Youth has not been unsuccessful scoring some chart hits with tracks '100%' and 'Bull in the Heather'.

For additional info on the musical influence of Sonic Youth, check out the rockumentary 'Kill Your Idols' I really... ummm... watched it...

For what it's worth, regardless of my opinion of Sonic Youth's music, I am a big fan of Thurston Moore as a rock historian, and music collector. If you have a few extra bucks and are looking for a good read, pick up Moore's book Mix Tape, or Brett Milano's Vinyl Junkies featuring essays from both Moore and REM's Peter Buck. Both entertaining reads for music buffs.

Honorable Mention: Moby

I'm not a sample-heavy technorock hipster by any stretch of the imagination. That being the case, Moby is kind of the anti-Sonic Youth in my opinion. For all intents and purposes, there's really no reason for me to like Moby, but damned if I don't find myself enjoying his tunes...

In addition to a hugely successful album, 1999's Play Moby's got himself huge Connecticut cred, more than happy to discuss his hometown Darien when interviewed about his musical formation, and when discussing his love of Boston band Mission of Burma, huge in Connecticut due to their Darien-born co-founder Clint Conley.

That is where Moby, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, and I have something pretty significant in common. We're all serious music geeks, collectors, listeners, and opinionated unpaid pundits of pop. Where we differ is that one of us doesn't make music...

Enjoy Moby and Gwen singin' all about the Southside...

...and covering MoB

Up next: The Simpsons are going to Delaware! 'I want to visit Wilmington!' 'I want to visit the screen door factory!' Could this television reference be a CLUE???