elvis-performing-white-jumpsuit neilyoungIf they call you King, or King of Pop, it’s kind of like they kill you off. I mean, it no longer matters what you do, it’s not about the work, or the art you create, it’s only about who you are and what you own… and well, it’s deadening, invalidating and embalming!

So yeah, it’s weird. I’ve been reading Neil Young’s book, and listening to his records, and learning some of his songs.

At the same time, the Lovely Carla and I have been working on Elvis songs for the upcoming Cake and Whiskey Club show. We have been cruising YouTube, watching Elvis performances, (it’s kind of sad and invalidating to watch the Hollywood and Las Vegas versions of “The King”) trying to select songs we can relate to.

I realized I needed to learn some new Neil Young songs as an antidote to working on Elvis songs. It’s The King and the Anti-King. One wears big white suits. The other wears flannel shirts and jeans. One has a big, over-powering voice, the other has a shaky, mournful, fluttery kind of voice. One recorded lots of songs, but all of them are covers, the other pretty much, or almost exclusively, wrote all his own songs, and his music is a record of his mood, his mind and his days.

One represents glitz and in-authenticity, and the other seems homemade, authentic, full of heart and soul. At least this is how it seems to me. I often find the King over-blown and ridiculous, and Neil Young is always compelling and inspiring. One sort of invalidates the whole pop culture/celebrity thing, and the other seems to be working in another realm, deepening the mystery of living and working and getting thru.

Both indulged in lots of mind-altering substances. Legal and illegal. One died fairly young, (43 years old), and one is still doing great work all these many years later. Turns out “It’s better to burn out than to fade away,” is a pretty good line for a song, but not a great blue-print for living! I’m repelled by the pomp, circumstance and drug-addled excess of the King, (although I do love those early r&r Sun Sessions) but I gladly, whole-heartedly embrace the soul-searching, drug-addled excesses of the Anti-King! – Jammer

wwsp @uncommon ground 7.15.13jpgA quiet, hot, muggy Monday night at Uncommon Ground, a nice music room, all wood and brick. Some really great old friends came out to see us. People with whom we have a real affinity. Felt like a homecoming. Opening for us was David Bon and his trio. David is just the most riveting and inspiring performer. His rich baritone voice can knock down walls, and the trio was tight: two acoustic guitars, a bass. They channeled the spirit of Elvis, Neil Diamond, Waylon Jennings and Cypress Hill. They made some classic songs their own. They do songs you’d think maybe can’t be done, and they do them, and they work, no, they completely bowl you over! We followed with our set. We were tight, sharp, connected, we could all really hear each other. Our band is in a great zone at the moment. Under the hot lights, I almost spontaneously combusted, smoke was coming out of my eyes! Afterwards it was all smiles and kind words. There is nothing better than playing for your musical peers and for people you respect and love. People who really listen. I must say, that’s what it’s all about! – Jammer


photo by David Bon