the revelettesOur band hosted an afternoon “variety show” yesterday at the Red Line Tap. It was an odd collection of acts. Poetry, theater, comedy, go-go dancing, and music. It was sort of mini-circus, or a really oddly programmed set. Lots of things, pretty much unalike, presented together.

It was my idea, and I put all those acts on the bill, so of course, I just thought it was brilliant. I really love all those acts, those odd souls. Lots of laughs. Lots of cool sounds and images.

There was stand-up from Elizabeth Gomez, garage rock with a comic twist from The Rut, mad poetry and story-telling from KC Chronis, surreal and hilarious theater from Citizen’s Relief, dazzling exuberant go-go dancing from the Revelettes, and music from the always mind-bending Gunnelpumpers, and our band too.

Talking afterwards I realized that just like me, many of these folks always feel on the “outside looking in.” I realized these were my people, this was my lost tribe. Oddballs, misfits, weirdos. The strange, painted birds. Every one of them has a little bit of an off-kilterness about them. And each of them has something unique to offer.

That’s so inspiring to me. The folks that came out to see the show seemed to really enjoy the variety. So yes, a Sunday afternoon variety show. What a great idea! Long live the odd jobs! – Jammer

jammer & carla @ jerrysWhat do you get when you add 3 Gunnelpumpers to the whitewolfsonicprincess core line-up (Carla, Tim & Jammer)? I know it sounds like a set-up to a joke. But no joke, our Saturday night set at Jerry’s featured 3 Gunnelpumpers (Doug Johnson on Clevinger bass, Randy Farr on percussion and Steve Rutstein on drums). Someone remarked that it all sounded a little bit like “Desire-era Dylan,” which to my ears translates to Rolling Thunder Revue. Which is music to my ears. If we are even anywhere close to that raucous, rolling circus of a band, we are on the right track for sure! – Jammer

uncommon 4.25A lot of love.  There was a lot of love in the room last night at our Uncommon Ground show. We shared a bill with the powerful, natural force of sound that is Nicholas Barron, and it seemed that all the cosmic forces somehow converged for an extraordinary evening. It was the kind of show where we should have put the audience on stage. There were actors, writers, directors, clairvoyants, painters, poets, film critics, singers, musicians, teachers, and a few amazing “regular citizens” in attendance. There’s nothing better than performing for an inspiring, engaged, audience. What a lively crowd, what a rollicking good time! A great music room, excellent sound, superb food and drink. One of our best outings for sure. Randy Farr from the Gunnelpumpers joined us on percussion for this one, and he provided such a natural groove to our songs, there was an ease, and space between the instruments that just felt so right. We were tight, focused and alive. Nothing better! – Jammer

live@ garden walkWe played to a handful of folks yesterday at the Bucktown Garden Walk. It was an early afternoon “spirit” slot. It was our first time out in public with Randy Farr from the Gunnelpumpers sitting in on percussion. We brought a solid, focused energy to the big outdoor stage. There was “space” between instruments, a big sound, with room to breathe, and the songs held up quite nicely. Carla was in fine voice, and the mix was good. A first-class event. I had a few mis-cues: broke a string, misplaced my capo, so I had to change guitars, and when I sang “Sadness in the World,” in a lower key, I sort of sounded like Tom Waits singing through a sponge.  Still, we felt really good about our performance. Afterwards a guy came up to me and said that my guitar-playing made me “man of the town!” I’ll take it!  – Jammer

photo by Karen O’Brien

album coversWe love music, and are always on the hunt for new sounds. These four records have been on “heavy rotation” in our house the last few weeks.  They don’t really have much in common, except they are phenomenally good. Made by artists with clear, inspiring musical visions.  Highly recommended!

1. Montana Fix from the Gunnelpumpers – instrumental music of the highest order. Open-your-head music. An amazing, expansive mix of influences – classical, jazz, world music. The record is intense, moody, introspective, groovy, transcendent, atmospheric, mind-expanding. A great collection of grooves that roam across the sonic horizon. The collective vibe of this group is stunning. Inspired!

2. Invisible Way from Low – A quiet masterpiece. Hushed. Two beautiful voices. Crystalline songs.  Hard. Diamond-like. A very unconventional drummer, and a unique sound. This record sneaks up on you. Can’t shake it.

3. Amok from Atoms for Peace – Thom Yorke’s other band.  Groovier and looser than Radiohead. If you think that’s a good thing, also add in Flea on bass guitar. Total funky underlay! Thom Yorke actually sounds like he’s having fun, even if it’s sometimes hard to tell. Didn’t think Yorke really needed another really cool band. Didn’t think it was necessary. Guess what? This is a great record! Didn’t think it would fly? It flies!

4. Go-Go Boots from the Drive By Truckers – One of their best. Great band. Three distinctive singers. A powerhouse r&r sound with a loose, damn the torpedos feel. The songs are stories, and there’s some kind of loopy, gothic southern narrative thread.  Recorded on analog tape. You can hear and feel it. Warm, organic, kick-ass. This is soul music. Feeds the soul. Their cover of Eddie Hinton’s song “Everybody Needs Love,” is just the best.  Can’t get over it. Love.

Jammer

2013_01_26_GalleryCabaretThe never-ending city tour continues. Our first whitewolfsonicprincess show for 2013 was at the Gallery Cabaret last night. A pretty amazing little club, funky and sort of “bohemian;” which is just about the perfect setting for our band. We were on a bill with Christina Trulio and The Gunnelpumpers. Lots of cool sounds.  It was a great mix of music. We were smack dab in the middle of the bill, book-ended by Christina’s gorgeous “cowboys and brazilian” songs and the Gunnelpumpers over-the-top, improvisational madness. When it was our turn, we played a tight set, my new Seagull acoustic guitar (Love that expert Canandian build quality!) sounded big and full, and our bass player’s new fret-less bass added a smooth shimmer to our songs. We were all inspired by the sound on stage. The Cabaret is a very lively room. When Douglas Johnson joined us on Clevinger bass, it pumped up the adrenaline level a notch or two. Carla’s vocals were soulful and resonant. Rich backed it all up on drums, adding an extra, big-time wallop on that little wooden stage. The crowd was friendly, attentive and very generous with lots of words of praise. Good vibes all around. An excellent start to the new year!  – Jammer

Postscript: The Desiccated Old Blackbird, talking about our show last night: “Jimmy, it was great seeing you without that fucking hat!”

 

Our show at Lonnie Walker’s Underground Wonder Bar over the weekend was electric, and exhilarating. A classic Jazz Lounge, a great place for music. Two levels, three stages. We played in the basement; a friendly and cozy room. A handful of friends came out to see us, but there was also a roomful of strangers. And the folks that came out were serious about having a good time, and serious about listening to live music.

It was a special show, we had Douglas Johnson of the Gunnelpumpers sitting in with us on Clevinger Bass. Doug is a virtuoso on the instrument, and in two rehearsals he really found a sweet spot in the sonic spectrum of the band. Doug plays the Clevinger with a bow and sometimes it sounds like a cello. He also has an array of effects pedals and I was reminded of some of John Cale’s sonic experiments; haunting drones and wild excursions with reverb, delay, and wah wah.

If  you know me, you know that energy is the thing. And the band is all about the group energy. Playing live, you bring that energy to a room, fill it with people, and suddenly you are creating this expanding vortex of creative vibration. When all the elements are there, it can be transcendent, and incandescent. It’s what we all feed on. It drives us and inspires us. Yes, and the music focuses and concentrates the energy, and it can light up everyone in the room.

We played two sets. We really had an opportunity to stretch out, and the band just smoked. Everyone really brought it. I am so proud of our little band. Of course, every band has a loose cannon, a wild card, a weak link. I think in our case, that would be me. I always have something going on: dropped pick, broken string, out of tune guitar, shorted-out guitar, loose cable, kicked cable… the list continues to expand. This time my little tube amp blew out. It just fizzled out after a few paltry notes on my electric guitar. But you know what? The band didn’t hesitate, they just seized the moment and vamped away on some moody little jam until I got it together on my acoustic guitar. Nothing could stop us, nothing could kill the vibe of the show. And that’s a very, very cool thing. – Jammer

photo by Karen O’brien