28 July 2011

WATCH: Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore - Dear Companion

Danny Chiotos of the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation is always posting good stuff on Facebook (see the photo below). This video he posted today was especially enjoyable. It is Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore. Sollee is a classicly-trained cellist and Moore is a singer/songwriter. Both are from Kentucky and collaborated on the album Dear Companion, which was produced by Jim James of My Morning Jacket. Here is the duo performing the title track from the album for KEXP in Seattle. The song is about a letter from a coal miner to his wife. I'm excited to hear more from the album.

26 July 2011

READ: Harvey Pekar - Huntington, West Virginia 'On the Fly'

I was at Chicago Midway Airport last night, when my flight got delayed. It was late and I was too tired to finish the book I was reading, so I went looking for some lighter reading. I was browsing the non-fiction section when the words "West Virginia" caught my eye from the spine of one book. I grabbed it and saw the title "Huntington, West Virginia 'On the Fly'" and to my surprise was from the late Harvey Pekar, the famed writer of the underground comic series American Splendor.

I have never read a comic book in my life. But like many, I became a fan of Pekar as a character and creative individual after the 2003 film adaptation of American Splendor, which starred Paul Giamatti as Pekar, who himself was featured in the film.

When I saw "On the Fly," I had to buy it because I lived many a year in Huntington, and was curious why Pekar was writing about the town. The book is, according the the back of it:
"... prime Pekar, recounting the irascible everyman’s on-the-road encounters with a cross section of characters—a career criminal turned limo-driving entrepreneur, a toy merchant obsessed with restoring a vintage diner, comic-book archivists, indie filmmakers, and children of the sixties—all of whom have stories to tell. By turns funny, poignant, and insightful, these portraits à la Pekar showcase a one-of-a-kind master at work, channeling the stuff of average life into genuine American art."
An hour or so after picking up the book, I had breezed through the 160 pages and was left with a smile on my face. The "On the Fly" story, the final of about six character portraits, takes Cleveland-native Pekar to the Huntington for a book festival. In the early pages, it capitalizes on a couple opportunities to poke fun at West Virginians, as Pekar's autobiographical character questions a a couple people's intelligence. By the end, he befriends a group of smart, creative, passionate Huntingtonians. His slice-of-life writing style captures the true open-arm nature of Applachians, and it left me proud that someone half-known as a misanthropic curmudgeon could be touched by characters with which I am so familiar.

20 July 2011

WATCH: A Tale of Two TAs, a short film

As I am about to head into production on a short film I've written and am directing, I thought I'd post this video. In 2006, I created a short film mockumentary for a grad class. The content may not make sense to most outside the context of my graduate school photography lab. But the premise is: Sloan impregnates Courtnay, who is dating Sloan's friend Rob. Courtnay rigs the vote for TA of the Year for Sloan to win so she can live on the prize money. Nevertheless, it features a couple songs from Parkersburg singer-songwriter M Iafrate, so maybe it's relevant here.

18 July 2011

DOWNLOAD: Blankface - A Better Day

Some time in (maybe) 1997, Dana White (eventually of Holden Caulfield) helped book a two-day hardcore/punk/indie fest at the Common Grounds in Charleston. The shows featured a number of local acts such as Malicious Intent, as well as a few out-of-town bands, including Codeseven, who was excellent. One of the other highlights of the weekend was Blankface, who was from Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Though Blankface is not from West Virginia or the region, they were a part of one of my favorite local shows as a teenager. Also, after doing a little web search, their material is pretty obscure and this particular record I only found available for $30 on eBay.

This album isn't spectacular, but it is fun emo-punk in the vein of early Saves the Day, or a less-punk Lifetime or Samiam. It's melodic but also gritty and energetic with pop-punk-esque vocals and lyrical content that you would expect form a mid-90s emo band (before "emo" was a bad word). The band broke up in 1997, and guitar player Mitchell Marlow went on to play for Filter (yes, "Hey Man, Nice Shot"). Fourteen years later, I still re-visit every once in a while, so that says something.

Artist: Blankface
Album: A Better Day
Year: 1997
For fans of: Saves The Day, Lifetime, Braid

14 July 2011

LISTEN: Tom Waits - Midnight Lullaby

Tom Waits is one of my favorites - no explanation necessary. And it always exiting for me to to hear in his song "Midnight Lullaby" from 1973's Closing Time, when he sings the line, "Dream of West Virginia or of the British Isles / 'Cause when you are dreaming you see for miles and miles." Love it.

11 July 2011

DOWNLOAD: Camel Beast - United By Hatred / Camel Beast / Lost In Bumphuc, Egypt

The following is a contribution from Brian Pauley, who played drums with many Charleston-area bands in the '90s including Dirt Bear, The Povos and Shindig. Brian remains one of my favorite players from the West Virginia music scene, and I've always had a endless respect for him and his opinion. Here he shares with us his his thoughts on the Charleston band Camel Beast:
I started playing drums when I was in junior high. Bobby Hughes, who was the drummer for a local thrash metal band called Pale Hecate lived around the corner from me. Through Bobby, I became aware of all the local shows going on within the Kanawha Valley. I was introduced to other bands. It was clear that the thrash metal sound was dominating the scene. Besides Pale Hecate, there was Grey Malcomb, Diabolis, Arch Angel, and a ton of other bands trying to put their stamp on the local thrash scene. My band (Last Rites) included.
I'd say it was probably 1989... there was a show going on at the American Legion Building (the same venue we would all play years later). On the bill was Diabolis, Outface (who's singer went on to sing for Sepultura), F.U.C.T., and Camel Beast. As soon as as I heard Lee Lawler's voice, I was hooked. Camel Beast had a metal, punk, grunge (before it was cool), blues sound about them that just made them stand out. They were just different than any other band around. They just had this punk attitude about them that I instantly connected with. I was pretty narrow minded with my taste in music at that age, but Camel Beast just completely changed how I heard music. That sounds corny as hell, but it's true.
Shows were super scarce in those days. About a year or so later, I saw Camel Beast again. Again, they were amazing. I bought up the demos, but over time, lost them. If you listen... you can hear how this band had an influence on my bands (The Provos and Dirt Bear) during the early years.
It's a catch 22 with this band. Had they been around just a couple of years later, they would have been around during the Common Ground years and the Pit years, and everyone would have gotten to experience them. However, had they not been around when they were, the scene may not have gone in the direction it did. I'm serious when I say that this band pointed the scene in the direction that it went.
I can't do this band justice and maybe everyone else who listens to these songs might not feel the way that we all did back then... but this band is legendary to those of us who were a part of the scene during those super early years.
In my short conversation with Geof (I asked for permission to share these songs with everyone), I got the impression that these guys might not know how much of an impact they had on people that would later play a huge role in the Charleston music scene.
Thanks to Brian for sending in these rare Camel Beast demos.

Artist: Camel Beast
Album: United By Hatred / Camel Beast / Lost In Bumphuc, Egypt
Year: 1988 / 1989 / 1990
For Fans Of: Jane's Addiction, Fugazi, Queensryche

08 July 2011

WATCH: Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. on America's Got Talent

My mother sent me this video of a car washer from Logan, West Virginia, auditioning on "America's Got Talent." Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. breaks into a performance that shocks the judges (and myself). Pretty impressive Good luck to him.

07 July 2011

WATCH: FüD (food), CD release show, 2002

How did this video exist on YouTube for three months before I found it? How have only 16 people watched it before me? This is pure brilliance - a FüD (food) show in its entirety. This is their CD release show in 2002 at the Brickhouse in St. Albans - all 13 minutes of it before the show is seemingly shut down.

If you're not already familiar, FüD (food) were the Boone County duo of Mick McMick (keytar) and Orange Stuff (garbage can/drums) playing pure comically genius proto-punk. This short-lived band is still one of my favorite ever local live acts. Eccentric, sarcastic and rousing, it was always a joy to scream along to songs like "My Butts A' Bleedin!!! I'll Call Ya Back Later," "Popeye's Legs" and "Two Brothers Fucking." I truly miss their shows.

06 July 2011

DOWNLOAD: J. Marinelli - Keep It Fake

Keep It Fake is the 16-song album from Morgantown's lo-fi, one-man band legend J. Marinelli (Arcane Rifles, Glendale). Consistently drawing comparisons to Hasil Adkins and Mark E. Smith of The Fall, one reviewer writes of Keep It Fake: "Most of the songs are short pop tunes with a big dose of punk attitude and aesthetic. The disc is crammed full of loud, catchy tunes that rock, which is what pop music should be all about, at least in my mind." The track "Telephone Teeth" has always been one of the highlights of Marinelli's impressive body of solo material.

Artist: J. Marinelli
Album: Keep It Fake
Year: 2007
For Fans Of: Hasil Adkins, The Fall, Daniel Johnston

DOWNLOAD: J. Marinelli - Keep It Fake*
*Download link fixed on 31 July 2011.