IT'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #9.1
The J Church / Honey Bear Records Newsletter
Can't Cheat Karma
NEW J CHURCH DATES
Okay, here is the latest tour news that I've got for our big trip with
Propagandhi, Avail and Fabulous Disaster. I don't know if I'll be able
to get off another newsletter before I have to leave for SF. So be sure
to double check with the clubs as everything is usually subject to change.
26th Monday Salt Lake City, UT Kilby Court *
27th Tuesday Denver, CO tba *
2 Friday Green Bay, WI Rock & Roll High School
3 Saturday Chicago, IL Cubby Bear
4 Sunday Cincinnati, OH Bogart's
5 Monday Detroit, MI St. Andrews Hall
6 Tuesday Cleveland, OH Agora Ballroom
7 Wednesday Pittsburgh, PA Club Laga
9 Friday New York City, NY Wetlands Preserve two shows
10 Saturday Providence, RI Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel
11 Sunday Philadelphia, PA Trocadero Theater
12 Monday Virginia Beach, VA Peabody's
13 Tuesday Winston-Salem, NC Ziggy's
14 Wednesday Atlanta, GA The Masquerade
16 Friday Tampa, FL The Masquerade
17 Saturday West Palm Beach, FL Spanky's
18 Sunday Jacksonville, FL Club 618
19 Monday New Orleans, LA Southport Hall**
20 Tuesday Houston, TX Fitzgerald's**
21 Wednesday Austin, TX Emo's**
23 Friday Mesa, AZ Nile Theater
24 Saturday Los Angeles, CA The Palace
25 Sunday Pomona, CA The Glass House
26 Monday Ventura, CA Ventura Theater
27 Tuesday Santa Cruz, CA Palookaville
28 Wednesday San Francisco, CA The Maritime Hall
* - Just J Church.
** - Also with Leatherface, Hot Water Music and Small Brown Bike.
JUST A LITTLE HONEY BEAR INFO…
First off folks, I've been updating the site every couple of days. I've
added a section on Cringer that I hope to keep expanding. There are also
some MP3s up. Next, I hope to get our videos up as well. Please come by
and sign our guest book and say "hi" to the panda. www.hbrecords.org
Also, this is your last chance to sign up for the Honey Bear Records
Singles Club before the masses. While on tour, I'll be passing out info
to allow people to sign up for the club along the way. Remember, it's
$45 for 6 7" records. Each single is limited edition to 100 copies.
So far, I'll definitely be releasing stuff from J Church, Cringer, Semiautomatic,
Tami (Japan) and more. Send the money to me in Austin and make all checks
and money orders out to Lance Hahn and NOT Honey Bear Records. Oh, I just
remembered. If you're in Europe, the membership is $55 and I'll send you
the singles in pairs. That's the best solution I could come up with to
battle the outrageous new postal rates.
STANDING OUT IN PALESTINE LIGHTING THE FUSE…
While if I lived in Palestine, I doubt I could bring myself to vote for
Barak or Sharon just like I couldn't bring myself to vote for Gore or
Bush, I can't help but feel a little sickened by the recent elections.
It's strange. But when wasn't violence inevitable?
Now every liberal or, at the least, Clinton supporter in the news is
going on and on about how the Palestinians blew it and how Barak was some
great savior who was their only chance for peace. Like Barak was a man
with great vision eclipsing even Rabin. It's sick. It's like telling South
Africans during Apartheid that they should negotiate with the ruling government
because it's in their own best interest. Well, justice is as important
as peace and sometimes you need to strive for one to later get the other.
I'm certainly no fan of Arafat. I think if you analyze Palestine from
a class perspective, you'll find him to be on the same side as Sharon.
But in the interests of the Palestinian people, how can people be so clouded
by the issues? For all the talk of genocide in Kosovo at the hands of
the Serbs, how is it any different than the Israeli treatment of Palestine?
Surely, parallels in terms of treachery can be made between Milosovich
I don't know. It's Palestine and as we head towards what might very
well be World War III, I can't help but keep humming the words from Tommy
Gun by the Clash; "I can see it's kill or be killed. A nation
of destiny has got to be fulfilled. Whatever you want, you're gonna get
JERRY WICK IS DEAD
I can't even explain to you how sick it made me feel when I found out
that Jerry Wick was dead. I felt completely gutted when I read the news.
I'm not even sure if I can completely explain to you why he was so important
to me. But I'll try.
Jerry Wick was the singer and rhythm guitarist of the punk band Gaunt.
They put out some fantastic, underrated records in the '90s on Thrill
Jockey, AmRep and Warner Brothers. Their sound was fierce and in your
face. But it was also catchy as hell without sounding contrived. Few bands
can do that. Superchunk do it when they're at their best. Archers Of Loaf
did it on the first record. Even the Clean did it.
But the band never really got a break. They were never appreciated enough
by the pop punk crowds, who couldn't transcend Wick's smart and often
biting lyrics. I love Steely Dan and the Smiths. I know that Gaunt at
least liked the Smiths. Now imagine an entire repertoire of lyrics based
around Reelin' In The Years and You've Got Everything
The band put out great album after great album but always missing that
breakthrough success they deserved. Maybe it took the wind out of them.
I don't know. Maybe it was the failure of their major label debut. But
the band split and it was music's loss.
Jerry was killed on the morning of January 9th. Apparently, he was riding
his bike home when he was hit by a hit and run driver. People are now
saying that the driver eventually turned himself in. I don't' really know
any more details. But I guess I don't really need to.
Okay, you would be guessing wrong if you gathered from that intro that
Jerry and I were these great friends. We weren't. I like to think we were
friends. But, really, we were associates of mutual respect in the complex
world of inter-communication in the undergrounds music scene. We had a
few good times hanging out and I was always happy to see him. But that
was the extent of our friendship.
No, but I was always cheering for Gaunt and Jerry from my part of the
country. I used to think of Gaunt as comrades, fighting the same good
fight that J Church did. We were both defiant and unrepentant in our obscurity.
In my worst moments with the band, I felt that Gaunt had probably gone
through the same thing at one point or another. I could imagine Jerry's
reaction and how he could persevere.
I remember when Gaunt released full length LPs on Thrill Jockey and AmRep
on what seemed like the same day. To a lot of people, that would seem
like a big screw up. But I could relate and I could understand the many
reasons why that could happen. I could also imagine Jerry throwing his
hands in the air and not being too concerned about it. As long as the
music was documented and out there, that's half the battle.
I don't know. That may seem kind of ridiculous. My connection to Gaunt
may be a connection to a fictitious Gaunt I created in my mind. Maybe
they didn't feel as misunderstood as I feel some times (yeah, yeah, yeah…
cry me a river…). But I always would look to them for a weird kind
of inspiration that comes from knowing you may be going nowhere. But it's
still worth the going.
Gaunt never got what they deserved. Jerry never got the recognition
he deserved. He was fucking brilliant and today I'm crushed.
IN THE J CHURCH VIEWING ROOM…
Imagine The Sound (Home Vision Cinema) video
Did anyone watch Ken Burns' Jazz documentary? Did anyone
hate it as much as I did? I couldn't believe the last two installments
and how brief they were. Shit, every obscure, no-talent, trite musician
from the swing era was covered in detail. But names like Albert Ayler,
Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Eric Dolphy and Paul Bley were not even mentioned.
My God, he spent more time at the end with a high school jazz band then
he did on Ornette Coleman and almost all of free jazz.
Cecil Taylor was only mentioned as a whipping boy taking all the hits
from the squares (like Branford Marsalis) who showed just how close-minded
and threatened they feel about new things in jazz. It really reminded
me of a few years back when 60 Minutes did a cheap and
stupid attack on contemporary art. The shallow rants by Morley Safer conveniently
avoided conceptual and cerebral motivations for art that both challenge
surface art forms as well as expand the field of creative possibility.
Maybe Cecil Taylor is the Cy Twombly of jazz…
Did anyone notice that Wynton Marsalis basically said the same thing
over and over again? It didn't really matter who he was talking about;
Coltrane, Parker, Gillespie, Duke Ellington… This is what he basically
said about all of them: "He was great. He was unique. He was my favorite.
He was REALLY great." It was almost like he didn't really know what
any of these guys sounded like. He certainly didn't know how to describe
I could go on forever about what a shame it was about the series. At
the time, I was so flabbergasted that I immediately ran to Imagine
The Sound two times in a row.
Imagine The Sound is my favorite jazz documentary and
is one of my favorite documentaries of all time. It's the most informative
ANYTHING I've come across in terms of describing and discussing free and
avant-garde jazz. The film, which was the first feature documentary made
by Ron Mann (Grass, Comicbook Confidential),
was actually made in 1981, over a decade after the explosion of experimental
jazz. Focusing on four important and celebrated figures (Cecil Taylor,
Archie Shepp, Paul Bley and Bill Dixon) allowing them to reflect on their
careers and those around them that, in many ways, defined the sound of
Plus, there's music. The music in this film is brilliant. The new and
original pieces by all four of them are surprisingly fresh and inspired
despite it being recorded in the stagnant early '80s. Simple edits with
interestingly framed shots work to the directors advantage as the music
is emphasized and never distracted from by the filmmaking.
The interviews are all really great as well. Cecil Taylor mixes splashes
of profundity with a delivery that is both conversational and challenging.
Like his music, it's not enough to just listen to it and let it wash over
you. Even his conversation is presented in a way that forces you to work
to get the inner meaning… or at least whatever meaning he's trying
to get across. His solo piano performances are whacked out and at times
have as much to do with performance art as they do with music. One of
the film's high points is Taylor reading one of his freaked out, stream
of consciousness poems.
Paul Bley is also a bit strange in his delivery. His choice of words
is strange and intriguing as if it were written by David Mamett or something.
But this isn't pretension. He's just a little off kilter with the rest
of the world. His stories are brilliant and self-deprecating descriptions
of the early days at the Hillcrest Club in Los Angeles and the Five Spot
in New York with Ornette Coleman and the scene that would eventually produce
the album Free Jazz. Bley's solo piano performances are
great deconstructions of familiar musical territory and the withdrawal
of aesthetic tools of standard time and tonality.
Archie Shepp is exactly what you expect and want. With one foot in the
musical revolution and one foot in the political revolution, Shepp speaks
with equal adoration and respect for Coltrane and Malcolm X. In some ways,
his music is the most accessible of the four as he in some ways bridges
part of the gap between Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. It's great to
hear his candid stories like how he found his style by trying to be like
Coltrane and eventually giving up because he couldn't do it.
Bill Dixon is the least known of the three and for whatever reason,
the most fascinating. Like Shepp, he developed his style by playing with
Taylor. But his trumpet playing has more to do with almost industrial
sounds of the city. It's car horns blending into soothing other world
rhythms pierced by Morse code blips. His interviews are so lucid and down
to Earth, you find yourself clinging to every word.
Not only does he accurately describe a loft scene that included all
the big players like Ornette Coleman and Eric Dolphy hanging out and jamming
with other musicians many of whom were never heard from again. But he
also connects it to everything else that was going on in New York City
at the time like the Judson Dance Theater where Rauschenberg was doing
work. The connection between the jazz avant-garde of Ornette Coleman and
Eric Dolphy and the artists like Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns
is never talked about. But there it is, documented in this film.
Really, this is a great film even if the music isn't your cup of tea.
It may be a little difficult to relate to some of the music. But the stories
are great and they do get across the sincerity and intentions of the artists,
which may cause the listener to further, explore the free jazz of the
But then again, there are only four artists covered here. It's great
and engaging and I would recommend it to anyone. But it does leave me
feeling like there is a sad lack of good, if not great, jazz documentaries.
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