27 December 2010

WATCH: A small tribute to Brad Dourif

Whether you know it or not, you've seen Brad Dourif in a movie - if not many of them. His resume includes memorable roles in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Lord of the Rings, Child's Play, Blue Velvet and more including the cable series "Deadwood." The Oscar-nominated actor (for his role as Billy Bibbit in Cuckoo's) and Huntington native is one of West Virginia's most underrated talents. He is the best tribute I can give to Dourif, who is always a pleasure to watch on screen.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest:
Child's Play:
Blue Velvet:
Wise Blood:

20 December 2010

DOWNLOAD: Chum - Dead to the World

About a year ago, I posted the 1994 EPs from this Huntington's Chum. Dead to the World is the 1996 full-length album from one of West Virginia's best and most successful (by getting signed standards) heavy bands. After releasing the EPs, Chum went on tour and found themselves on stage at CBGG's in New York City, where they were discovered and signed by Century Media Records. This is the excellent album the band produced for for the label. Despite the quality of Dead to the World, the success - and Chum's career - was short-lived after it was dropped by Century Media, but not before receiving plenty of critical praise and comparisons to King's X, Helmet and Quicksand. One critic wrote of Dead to the World:
"The amalgamation of harmonic bliss and chaotic guitar riffs sets this band ahead of the pack with a triumphant bit of genuinely open and sure-fire songwriting. No sooner than the first track "Stepping On Cracks" begins do we feel the intensity that Chum are willing to reveal to us through their music - and it only gets heavier."
The members of Chum including band leader John Lancaster went on to play in other bands and solo projects, but nothing quite lived up to the legendary status Chum established for itself in and around Huntington. In 2004, the band's principal line-up lead by Lancaster reunited in for sporadic performances, but nothing permanent.

Artist: Chum
Album: Dead to the World
Year: 1996
For Fans Of: King's X, Helmet, Quicksand

17 December 2010

WATCH: Hatebreed live in Huntington, 2003

I will admit, not since I was 19 have I really been a fan of Hatebreed, but they have continued write some of the most straight forward, heavy, angry, metallic hardcore, and it has brought them deserved success. Despite the band's success they always made time to come through Huntington, and play DIY venues much smaller than places they could be playing. I have always respected that loyalty to their fans. Though they like to look quite tough (and they probably are), Jamey Jasta and his band are stand up guys whose hearts are in the right place when it comes to hardcore. Hatebreed puts everything they have into every show, and though their albums haven't made it into my playlist since I was a teenager, their shows in Huntington were always a fun time to run in circles and jump on top of people. Here are some videos of one of Hatebreed's many shows in Huntington - this particular one in 2003 at the YWCA - a consistent venue for the band.

16 December 2010

WATCH: Louis Jordan - Salt Pork, West Virginia

Last night I was at a bar in Austin, flipping through the jukebox when a particular song title caught my eye. It was "Salt Pork, West Virginia" by Louis Jordan. As my knowledge of jazz doesn't venture far beyond Miles, Coltrane and Monk, I was not familiar with Louis Jordan, the song or Salt Pork, West Virginia.

Very quickly: Louis Jordan, born in Arkansas, was a pioneering jazz and blues musician popular from the '30s through early '50s. "Salt Pork, West Virginia," was recorded around 1951 just before the decline of Jordan's popularity. The song is about the narrator first avoiding the town of Salt Pork because that's where his baby lives, but quickly changing his mind. As it turns out, there is no Salt Pork, West Virginia, but in the last line of the song, Jordan calling out the names of cities like a train conductor hoots "Bluefield!" which was a hotbed for African-American jazz musicians at the time. Nevertheless, it was a fun discovery of a good song that reflects the state's role in black music throughout the first half of the century.

15 December 2010

DOWNLOAD: The Red Carpet Bombers - The Red Carpet Bombers

This is a continuation of contributions from a reader. The contributions include a number of rare, out-of-print or unreleased material from bands from around the state from the early '90s to '00s. I will be posting those records over the next couple weeks. Unfortunately, I don't know much about some of the bands so I won't have anything to say, so I have to rely on short write-ups by the contributor. The help with adding new material to the blog is always welcome and much appreciated. So thank you and keep them coming. Enjoy. If you would like to contribute, just contact me at srrblog@gmail.com.

"Featuring Kevin Allison (Bacon Hat, Milk of Napalm) and Brian Myers (Chum, The Gasoline Angels) amongst its ranks, this short-lived Huntington band released this lone album and appeared on the Loud & Local Stage at X-Fest 2004 before disappearing from the scene completely." For more on the back, click here.

Artist: The Red Carpet Bombers

Album: The Red Carpet Bombers

Year of release: 2004

For fans of: Backyard Babies, Danko Jones, Turbonegro

DOWNLOAD: The Red Carpet Bombers - The Red Carpet Bombers

14 December 2010

WATCH: Down Goes Frazier, live in Huntington, 2009

Here is a video of Huntington's Down Goes Frazier playing "Diarrhea of an Emotional Problem" at Marley's Dog House the band's home town some time in 2009.

10 December 2010

DOWNLOAD: Down Goes Frazier - Discography 2003 to 2004

A love for booze and punk music is what brought together this Huntington band, which features ex-members of Holden Caulfield, Out of Nowhere and The Shift. With a shared love for bands like Hot Water Music, Alkaline Trio and Avail, the quartet (now playing as a trio) formed in the early 2000s to make music that represented what they to listened to. What came of it was heavy, fast and aggressive post-hardcore punk rock that at times is melodically inclined.

Like band favorite Hot Water Music, Down Goes Frazier featured dual gravel-coated vocals from its guitarists, but the musical comparison is not so simple. Nick Adkins's technical guitar skills and songwriting ring of Silent Majority but his roaring vocals are more Planes Mistaken For Stars. Ryan McCullough's songwriting and vocals bring to mind Leatherface or American Steel's "Rogue's March".

On this download are Down Goes Frazier's first two demos - 2003's Self-Titled and 2004's "Blue Ribbon High Life." While the style doesn't change much between the separate recordings, the quality of songwriting matures as the band recognizes its intentions. The music is bittersweet, the lyrical content is the normal for a band of its genre - relationship difficulties, friends and family - but the words are as clever as the song titles, and easy to see along with.

Having toured minimally around the midwest, Down Goes Frazier never quite picked up the steam they could have with a lot of musical talent and arsenal of quality songs. In 2009, Ryan McCullough left the band to be a college professor, while the three other members have continued performing. They're a band that has not gotten enough attention outside the bar-venue scene of Huntington, so it is about time people here these recordings.

Artist: Down Goes Frazier
Album: Discography 2003 to 2004
Year: 2003 to 2004
For Fans Of: Hot Water Music, Planes Mistaken For Stars, Silent Majority

08 December 2010

WATCH: Karma To Burn - "20"

Having formed in the mid-90s, Karma to Burn went on a bit of a hiatus throughout the 2000s reuniting in 2009. The hard-working band from Morgantown right into touring heavily in the U.S. and Europe easily winning back old fans and picking up plenty of new ones along the way. In 2009, the revered instrumental stoner metal trio (recently joined on guitar by Dan Davies, son of The Kinks' Dave Davies) began work on its newest album Appalachian Incantation, which was produced by former Kyuss bassist Scott Reeder. Now touring on the new album, Karma To Burn is playing all around the country with the Austin metal group The Sword.

Though the song below - a re-recording of "20" from 1999's Wild Wonderful Purgatory - is not from the new album, it is on the accompanying "Cat Got Our Tongue" bonus disc and one of the band's finest. Good to see one of West Virginia's best back at it and better than ever.

03 December 2010

WATCH: Clutch live at X-Fest in Huntington, 2002

In Huntington, the local radio station the X 106.3 has an affinity for bad to mediocre (and rarely good) heavy music - as do the residents of the region. Since the mid-90s Huntington has been one of a few cities in the country to host its own hard rockin' annual Clear Channel event. Huntington's first X-Fest featured Helmet playing at the Ritter Park Amphitheater. The festival has since moved to the riverfront park and has had its highs (Type O Negative, Rollins Band, Shadows Fall) but mostly lows (Nickelback, Disturbed, Buckcherry, Seether, and many more).

In 2002, the line-up included Hatebreed and Clutch, and below is a video of Clutch playing "Smoke Banshee" from Pure Rock Fury at the event. And if you look closely, you'll notice a potentially familiar then-21-year-old Herald-Dispatch photographer backstage waiting for a shot of the women in the crowd to expose themselves to the band. Oh, X-Fest.

01 December 2010

WATCH: Jedediah Purdy reads from A Tolerable Anarchy

Jedediah Purdy is a native of Calhoun County, West Virginia, where he was home schooled until attending high shool at Phillips Exter Academy, a prestigious boarding school near Boston. Now a professor of law at Duke University, Purdy has published four books - his first when he was only 25. He writes about how law interacts with and embodies ideas about freedom, social order, and the human relationship with the natural world, and how these ideas arise and change. His 2009 book, A Tolerable Anarchy: Rebels, Reactionaries, and the Making of American Freedom, "is a book of history that speaks plainly to our lives today, urging us to explore our understanding of our country and ourselves, and to make real our own ideals of freedom." According to the publisher:
Jedediah Purdy works from the stories of individuals: Frederick Douglass urging Americans to extend freedom to slaves; Ralph Waldo Emerson arguing for self-fulfillment as an essential part of liberty; reformers and presidents struggling to redefine citizenship in a fast-changing world. He asks crucial questions: Does capitalism perfect or destroy freedom? Does freedom mean following tradition, God’s word, or one’s own heart? Can a nation of individualists also be a community of citizens?
In the video below, Purdy reads excerpts from A Tolerable Anarchy, a book praised by critics, politicians and educators. Purdy is another lesser-known bright mind from The Mountain State who is likely to do great things in the future. I look forward to reading his work.