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.

FEB
26th Monday ­ Salt Lake City, UT ­ Kilby Court *
27th Tuesday ­ Denver, CO ­ tba *

MARCH
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
8 off/travel
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
15 off
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**
22 off/travel
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 and Begin.

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 it."

 

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 Now.

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 their sound…

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 '60s jazz.

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 '60s.

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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