“Ghost Cop” is the first episode in what we hope will become an ongoing series about one of our favorite local punk rock bands, Braver.
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Alan Jackson scored a huge hit with “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)?” in 2001, although hindsight suggests it was opportunistic schlock. The song was parodied by South Park when Jackson appeared to sing “A Ladder to Heaven,” about the boy’s attempt to climb to clouds to get a raffle ticket from Kenny.
Actually country music has a long history of patriotic records in poor taste, and Jackson’s song was far from the most shameful cash-grab of the era (Toby Keith can have that dubious claim). That got us to wondering how long until somebody hits the money button with a song about Uncle Sam kicking the snot out of ISIL.
Recently, we read about Al-Rahel Al-Kabir, a Lebanese band (whose name means “the Great Departed”) which writes humorous songs about political and social issues in the Middle East. We don’t understand a word of their latest song, but have read it mocks ISIL and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. From the audience reaction, the song must be world-class satire.
Sadly, we’re guessing any song about ISIL in the traditional American style will be more like this 1991 single by Quarter Moon.
“Freedom Wins Again” by Quarter Moon
“Long Tall Gal Got Stuck On Me” by Mance Lipscomb
This is one of our favorite songs by Mance Lipscomb, who spent most of his life playing the guitar and singing around his hometown of Navasota, Texas. He didn’t make a recording until 1960, when Chris Strackwitz, who founded Arhoolie Records, brought him to a studio at the age of sixty-five. After this he made a number of albums characterized by his easy-going delivery and his alternating bass style of finger-picking.
His father had been a slave in Alabama. His mother was half Choctaw. He real name was Beau De Glen Lipscomb, but a friend of his brother gave him the name Mance as a shortened version of “emancipated.” He was a sharecropper most of his life, and performed primarily at social gatherings. A documentary about Mance Lipscomb, A Well Spent Life, was produced shortly after he passed away in 1970. Here’s a short scene we found online:
You may wonder what record the folks from Hymie’s are looking for since there are hundreds of thousands of albums packed into this place — well, until this week one album was the second record by the Upper Mississippi Jazz Band, a traditional group that recorded here in the 60s. We posted a bit about their outstanding clarinet player, Dick Ramberg, last year when we were sad to learn he had passed away, but we didn’t have a copy of both albums the group made. It’s one of those records that falls into the category of ‘difficult to find but not particularly valuable,’ and we’re glad to have one on our shelves.
Minneapolis has always been a hotbed for traditional jazz, even though we’re on the opposite end of the Mississippi from New Orleans — We have a couple favorite bands in town that are playing and recording New Orleans style jazz, and both have regular gigs you should really check out if you love ‘the good stuff.’ The Southside Aces perform the second Thursday each month at the fabulous Eagles Club ballroom, and they even raffle off records from our shop. Patty and the Buttons is the other band, and they appear at the Aster Cafe for a Sunday brunch (11-2pm). They’ve also just finished recording a new album of classic tunes and originals called Mercury Blues.
Patty has produced a parody of the crowd-funding crazy which may or may not be a serious attempt to raise money to press the album. We really can’t tell. They’re calling it “$hitstarter” and we’ll let Patty himself explain it:
You are probably eager to hear XXX, the disc of vintage smut recorded by the band as an incentive. Check it out on their bandcamp page here. You can also find copies of their new disc here at Hymie’s, wrapped in a brown paper bag.
Musicians in the 20s and 30s produces a surprising variety of explicit songs — many were recorded by famous performers, such as Ukelele Ike (ie Cliff Edwards, the voice of Jiminy Cricket) whose “Give it to Mary with Love” we posted here this summer.
One of the interesting things to come out of the 60s folk revival, from a record collector’s point of view, is the large number of compilation album collecting vintage 78s that begin to pop up during the following decade. The movement began with Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music in 1952 — the six-LP Folkways series exploring the breadth of America’s forgotten or dismissed traditional music. We have previously listened to tracks from the legendary compilation here. Many of its songs became standards or were reinterpreted by the folks singers who followed, including famous figures like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Doc Watson and Dave Van Ronk.
In 1961 Columbia Records compiled sixteen sides by Robert Johnson onto a single LP, King of the Delta Blues Singers. The collection is considered one of the most influential blues albums of all time, helping to shape both the Chicago electric blues sound and the British blues boom. The record also established the modest commercial potential of archival releases, which the label tentatively explored the following year with an album of recordings by Leroy Carr with Scrapper Blackwell, Blues Before Sunrise. By the seventies they had issued an extensive compendium of Bessie Smith split over five double-LP sets, and other labels were following the example. RCA, by this time the owner of the Bluebird catalog, issued collections of music ranging from the Monroe Brothers to the collected Benny Goodman (split over at least seven volumes) — while never big business, archival collections of obscure 78s became a record shop staple in the seventies.
In fact, some of it was very small business. The archetypal archival label was Yazoo, which was run out of New York City apartment by a Harry Smith-like character named Nick Perls. The Yazoo collections are again in print on LP — you may have noticed some of them here in the shop, if only because several include vibrant covers by cartoonist (and 78 enthusiast) R. Crumb. Perls was known for his ability to get the cleanest recording of a vintage record, and his label’s catalog collected such essential recordings as Mississippi John Hurt’s 1928 recordings for Okeh and Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground,” a song that was chosen by the Voyager Project to be included in the “golden record” which has been cast out into interstellar space like a message in a bottle.
Getting back to our original subject, Patty and the Buttons’ new collection of vintage smut, we turn to Stash Records, a seventies label which issued twenty-five fun LPs. Their first collection, Pipe, Spoon, Pot and Jug, was filled with riotous drug songs like “Reefer Man” and “Don’t You Make Me High.” Their second release was Copulatin’ Blues, filled with the sort of smut the Buttons’ have recorded on their new disc, and it has been followed by a variety of similar records.
“New Rubbin’ on the Old Darn Thing” by Oscar’s Chicago Swingers (1936)
“Please Warm My Weiner” by Bo Carter (1935)
“Adam and Eve” by Tommy Bradley & James Cole (1930)
“If You Don’t Give me What I Want” by Lil Johnson (1936)
“Shave Em Dry” by Lucille Bogan (Bessie Jackson) (1935)
“You Put It In, I Take It Out” by Papa Charlie Jackson (1934)
“My Daddy Rocks Me (With a Steady Roll)” by Tampa Red’s Hokum Jazz Band (vocal by Frankie Jaxon) (1929)
Hymie’s will be launching our own in-house record label on October 10th with two new releases and a big show at the Cedar Cultural Center. The first of these is by a friend probably familiar to most Hymie’s regulars, Ben Weaver, whose eighth LP I Would Rather Be A Buffalo will be the first full-length record on the new label. He has already performed a number of these songs here at Hymie’s three times over the past year, and released an alternate recording of one with Charlie Parr on a 7″ single in June. We posted the new LP version of “Ramblin’ Bones” here last month, and we will share more about Ben’s new album, including its custom letter-press printed jackets, in the coming weeks as we all work to put the finishing touches on the project.
Also performing at the Cedar on the 10th of October will be Brian Laidlaw and the Family Trade, who opened the outdoor stage of our block party these past two years, and have recorded two songs for the first 45rpm single in an ongoing series we’ve created to highlight the Twin Cities’ traditional and Americana scene. We are hoping to release a new single every six months, so it will only take us about ten years to get around to all our favorite locals.
This video by Ali Rogers presents one of the two new songs by the Family Trade, which Brian wrote while visiting his home state of California, in response to the changes drought have brought to the Sierra Nevada range. Some of the footage (the shots where the band looks chilly!) is from our Record Store Day block party in April.
Tickets for the October 10th release show for these two records are available at the Cedar, at the lovely yarn shop across Cedar Avenue (Depth of Field) and here at Hymie’s. This event is bringing together a diverse community of people, notably Rain Taxi’s Twin Cities Book Festival, who have been eager to help support the show, and have invited Ben and Brian, who are both releasing chapbooks of poetry this fall as well, to read at their October 11th event.
We are sure to share more with you about this new venture in the coming weeks — it is something we certainly couldn’t have approached without the support of loyal friends and customers all these years, who have helped us grow this space into more than simply a neighborhood record shop but a place where people connect with one another. A “crossroads of the universe,” as our friend John Marshall likes to say. We are fortunate that our paths have crossed with those of these musicians, and we are very excited to share what they have written with you.
This beautiful short film about Dan Newton was shot here at Hymie’s by local filmmaker Lucas Langworthy. We have featured Dan (aka Daddy Squeeze) here several times, including a rare interview post, because we love his music. If you have never seen him perform you are missing something magical — check out his website to find a calendar that includes all kinds of shows.
Dan deserves the legendary status we bestow on so many local figures — his singing, playing and timing on his first-ever solo disc last year sound strikingly like Spider John, and with the Cafe Accordion Orchestra he has sold out the Cedar every January for years — but what we really love about Langworthy’s short film is how it captures Dan. He is as awesome as you would want your favorite rock star to be, and about a million times more genuine. We were really honored to give them a place to shoot, and our only regret is that Dan didn’t play just a little more when they were done talking.
There are so many things about this that are bizarre we don’t even know where to start… whether its real or fake, racist or not, sacrilegious or not….
And this song spent a few weeks near the top of the Irish charts (there are Irish charts, by the way) in 2000…