sixfamiliesMMjohncageOur friends Six Families are back with another mind-expanding program here at Hymie’s. First they’ll screen a documentary about composer John Cage, and then perform several pieces afterwards — all starting at 6pm tonight. The performances will be:

Composed Improvisation for Snare Drum is a 1989 piece combining elements of improvisation with aleatoric composition. The performer is given instructions to use chance operations to split an 8:00 time interval into three sections, each of which is similarly split into 1-8 “events”. It is determined, again by chance operations, how many “sonic occurrences” may be within each event, and then the performer is free to improvise within those parameters.

Aria was written in 1958 for a solo singer with any voice range.  The score is a combination of black lines with color, these differences represent 10 different styles the singer must assign to each combination.   The text uses sounds and words from Armenian, Russian, Italian, French, and English.  The notation represents time horizontally and pitch vertically.

Living Room Music is an informal piece written for a quartet to use any household objects or architectural elements as percussion instruments.  One of the movements is group reading of a Gertrude Stein poem.

Yesterday’s explosive post continued our ongoing “smackdown” series by putting 70s folkies America against 80s rockers Europe. Neither band is a particularly big seller in the used records market anymore, but each has their memorable hits. We concluded by asking which was more likely to beat 80s prog rock supergroup Asia. Of course, all of these comparisons fall into the apples n’ oranges field, because America really belongs to a different era than the other two groups. While Asia and Europe were burnin’ up the charts in the early 80s, America was in the September of its career, winding down to a comfortable life on the classic rock circuit. This is part of why we chose them in yesterday’s post: Europe and Asia are awfully similar, although superfans of either group might argue that conclusion. From the perspective of a record browser flipping through the classic rock bin, America feels different. Exploring their catalog became a great experiment all its own, because they are like so many other 70s relics, a reminder of a less cynical, less commercial era in pop music.

Asia, on the other hand, was a supergroup formed by members of major progressive rock bands who were, at the time, disappearing from the charts and the stadium circuit (members of Asia had previously performed in Yes, King Crimson, Uriah Heep, Roxy Music, UK and Emerson, Lake & Palmer). The band was essentially put together by a record executive at Geffen for the purpose of creating an enormous hit, and this experiment was a success: Their monolithic debut album sold more than four million copies in the US.

America vs Asia

Biggest bummer:

Asia’s first album was an instant and enormous commercial success upon its release in 1982, but a disappointment to fans who expected something of a prog rock revival. Here and there the self-titled record sounds a little like Relayer-era Yes, but nothing contains the expansive arrangements or instrumentation of a King Crimson album. Most of it, in fact, sounds like the arena rock of contemporaries like Boston and Journey.

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“Heat of the Moment” by Asia

asiaNothing on Asia hit that mark as solidly as “Heat of the Moment,” a natural hit that topped Billboard’s rock chart and propelled its 4x platinum sales. It’s pretty awesome arena rock — better, if you ask us, than anything in Journey’s catalog.

“And now you find yourself in ’82,” sings John Wetton, whose solo album hadn’t received much notice just a couple years earlier. “The disco hot spots hold no charm for you.” These were lean years for classic rock fans, and especially prog fans. King Crimson and Yes were seemingly defunct. Genesis without Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett had transformed into a pop band, which is what would happen to Yes in a year or so. Others like Pink Floyd and Jethro Tull were either fragmenting or trying to reinvent themselves as well. Asia probably inspired a lot of these guys by assuring them they could start to make some serious bank again by playing to a post-punk, MTV audience. And that was probably a pretty big bummer for fans of the quartet’s 70s work.

America went through a line-up change around the same time the major prog rock bands started breaking up and changing direction. Dan Peek left the trio in 1977 to pursue a successful solo career in Christian pop, signing to Pat Boone’s Lion & Lamb label. Bunnell and Beckley sang some backup vocals on “Love Was Just Another Word,” a song from his first solo album All Things Are Possible. It was the last time the trio performed together.

Bunnell and Beckley carried on as a duo, but their first album without Peek, America Live, falls far short of the high standards of a 70s live record (it’s not even a double album) — the first indication that America had run its course even though they weren’t giving up. That only one song from their last LP as a trio (Beckley’s “Sergent Darkness”) was included suggests they were headed towards becoming a ‘here’s our hits’ revue. The biggest disappointment came at the concert’s end, where their biggest hit loses the atmospheric rootsiness that made it memorable six years earlier.

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“A Horse with no Name” (live)

DSC06843Best Album Art:

America’s 1975 greatest hits LP features cover art by Phil Hartmann, who later dropped an “n” from his last name before become actor Troy McClure. We remember him from such films as Give my Remains to Broadway and The Revenge of Abraham Lincoln. His painting features a variety of references to America’s first several albums, including the car from Holiday, the Golden Gate Bridge (seen on the cover of Hearts) and a portrayal of Peek and Bunnell which is similar to the one on the poster inside original copies of Hat Trick. Hartmann included a sharp rendition of London’s Elizabeth Tower (known in 1975 simply as the “Clock Tower”) to reference the band’s British heritage.

historyHartmann’s other record art has already been featured on the Hymies blog (here), but so has the work of Asia’s cover artist, Roger Dean. He created one of the most distinctive bodies of work found on LP jackets, his designs and lettering the subject of countless imitations. The most famous of these being the blockbuster film Avatar, which borrowed heavily from the imaginary landscapes Dean created for Yes album covers in the 70s (we first wrote about the similarities, and Dean’s subsequent lawsuit, here).

Dean’s work on the first three Asia album covers reflect a less organic world than the one born in Yes’s Fragile and Yessongs. An advanced civilization appears to have developed alongside the surreal landscape, it’s inhabitants perhaps the spooky creature seen on the cover of Astra in 1985. Asia absolutely wins this round, especially considering the legendary Dean is still creating cover art for their albums as recently Gravitas, their album released this year.

asia2astraBest video:

You’d think this round would be easy for Asia to win, since their career coincides with the rise of MTV, a time when America was past their peak. Their 1982 video for “Heat of the Moment” was an early Godley & Creme production and it’s innovative and fun, even if the images chosen present an absurdly literal interpretation of the lyrics.

Asia’s Geoff Downes, we should mention, was one half of the english pop duo the Buggles, and a co-author of their single hit, “Video Killed the Radio Star” — a song with the distinction of being the first featured on MTV.

Thevideo for the other single from Asia, “Only Time Will Tell,” is an equally goofy gem from the era (check it out) but the video for “Go” from their third album, Astra, flops altogether while attempting to realize Roger Dean’s bizarre art by telling the story of the eerie creature seen on the album jacket. The result looks more like a Lazertag commercial than the surreal world in Dean’s painting.

America’s official video for “A Horse with no Name” mixes live footage with the band, predictably, wandering around in the desert. Periodically wild horses are seen running in the hills, but nothing really matches the hazy, drugged mood of the song (an interpretation Bunnell has long denied, incidentally). Still, it is what it is, and the live footage makes America look pretty cool, on a stage that is half Merv Griffith Show half Muppet Show. It is, unfortunately, no match for Asia’s cool “Heat of the Moment” video.

Best skeleton in the closet:

A single from America’s seventh album, Harbor, attempted to revive their lackluster sales with a light dance-floor jam, “Slow Down.” It is one of the last songs Peek wrote the group before leaving, and could likely be seen as the songwriter’s message to himself.

The song didn’t chart, and its disco was already not cool anymore by ’77.

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“Slow Down”

DSC06842In this scene from The 40 Year Old Virgin, Steve Carrell’s character Andy is mocked by his friends for having an Asia poster. “You know how I know you’re gay? You like Asia.” Ouch. The truth hurts, and America wins this round.

Best song that sounds like something else:

From the very beginning, “A Horse With No Name” was mistaken for a Neil Young song, something that surely bristled the budding band in 1971 as they celebrated a first success. As it happened, when their single hit #1 on the US singles chart, the song it displaced was Young’s “Heart of Gold.”

Another hit single by America is just as easily mistaken for another artist. It’s almost impossible to hear the opening of “Sister Golden Hair,” their second #1 hit, without thinking of George Harrison — folks have long speculated if the legendary producer George Martin, who produced America’s Hearts and several other albums, pulled some strings to have the Beatle sit in, since its one of the only such appearances of the distinctive slide guitar style on an America LP.

Gerry Beckley, for his part, sounds an awful lot like George on the song, although the lyrics are clearly more Jackson Browne than George.

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“Sister Golden Hair”

Pretty much every song on Asia’s second album, Alpha, could be mistaken for any other arena rock band of ’83. Shades of Journey, Foreigner and even REO Speedwagon are all this contrived attempt to recreate the first record’s success — one song, “The Heat Goes On,” even tries to tap the success of their breakthrough hit. Guitarist Steve Howe, still best known to fans for his long tenures with Yes, left the supergroup after this album and hardly contributed to it. His only songwriting credit is on a b-side appropriately titled “Lyin’ to Yourself.”

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“Don’t Cry” by Asia

Where are they today?:

Like the progressive rock bands its members started with, Asia contained huge personalities that weren’t able to share the stage with one another for long. In fact, by the millenium, Asia only included one original member, Geoff Downes. When he left to join the re-formed original lineup in 2006, there remained a band led by bassist and lead singer John Payne, who by this time owned a share of the name “Asia.” Eventually a legal settlement allowed him to continue touring and recording with a band called “Asia Featuring John Payne.” The re-formed original Asia, meanwhile, released Phoenix in 2008, their first album together in decades.

The result of all of this confusing business is that Asia is one of several classic rock bands that exists out there in two completely different forms, as reflected by their different official websites: Original Asia and Asia Featuring John Payne. Payne, it seems worth noting, is also a former member of ELO Part II.

America continued after Dan Peek left in 1977, but the highest they’d ever chart again was when Janet Jackson sampled “Ventura Highway” in 2001. The remaining duo has augmented their sales with a number of career retrospectives and live albums, and even a Christmas album in 2002. Meanwhile, Peek never returned to the group but continued to record sporadically until he passed away from pericarditis in his sleep in 2011.

In July of this year America announced the retirement of their long-time drummer, Willie Leacox on their official website. Leacox, from Iowa, had played with the band for forty-one years. America’s longtime lead guitarist Michael Woods had also retired this year. The band is currently touring, including a three night stand in Hawaii later this month.

So who won?

In the world of international diplomacy and war, there often aren’t any winners.

In a lot of ways, Europe is the only band whose music reflected the continent for which they were named, sounding undeniably like a Scandinavian hard rock act on nearly every track. For the life of us we can’t figure why Asia was named Asia, except that Roger Dean’s lettering of the name looked sweet. Of the three they’re the only one enjoying enduring success, having finally pleased fans by turning towards their progressive rock roots in their records since reuniting in 2006.

We probably couldn’t fill a mix tape with songs we love by these three bands, so once again the true loser of the smackdown is us, the listener. Then again, we had a lot of fun digging through these albums, some of which probably hadn’t left their jackets in years. And if its not fun, why work in a record store. If it’s not fun, why go to a record store. We hope you enjoyed reading.


Click on “smackdown” in the tags below the title of this post, and you can wander back through the Hymie’s archives to read past battles of record store nerd-dom. Follow the bloody trail far enough and you’ll find the first ever “smackdown”: Boston vs Chicago. It was the only time we allowed two bands to represent their hometown, in part because we never found a band lame enough to lose to Baton Rouge, but mostly because these conflicts of geography inevitably become larger and larger. Eventually, it all leads to…

America vs Europe

If you’re struggling to name a second song by either of these groups, we don’t blame you. Both bands were major players in their respective eras, only to be forgotten by successive generations of record collectors. When Neil Young sang “It’s better to burn out than fade away” in 1979, he started a discussion that’s never really been resolved, although many of those who joined the fray in have done one or the other. So long as there are places like your friendly neighborhood record store here, “rock and roll can never die” (to quote another line from Young’s song “Hey Hey, My My”) since there are going to be shelves busting at the seams with one-time favorites like America and Europe, and as we shall see at the end of this post, another band largely ignored by record collectors…

Best name:

While Europe started their career in 1979 as Force, America never went by another name. The trio, founded in London, chose their name with pride — all three were the children of American GIs. The group eventually relocated to California (hence the Bay area image they pushed with albums like 1975′s Hearts). Even at the height of their success, Europe was eternally routed in the Scandinavian metal tradition — the band might just as well have named themselves Sweeden. America can’t win this round — their name is essentially a marketing ploy, even if it’s logo-fied version was something you were more likely to draw on a your jean jacket or notebook cover in ballpoint pen.

america logo europe logoBest Breakthrough hit:

America spent years being mistaken for Neil Young after “A Horse with No Name” was certified gold in 1972. People still come into the record shop once in a while and ask which of his albums has the song (they’re usually seem a little disappointed when they find out it was on an album in their dad’s collection). “A Horse with No Name” is a great song, almost entirely in spite of itself. Dewey Bunnell’s description of the desert fumbles for imagery (“There were plants and birds and rocks and things,” “The heat was hot”) while the trio’s harmonies hold the dry, minor key tune together. The song was good enough to knock ol’ Neil’s “Heart of Gold” out of #1.

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At over forty years old, “A Horse with No Name” is still a classic rock staple, as well as a song often heard in commercials, television, film and video games. It has appeared in The Simpsons.

“The Final Countdown” topped the charts in twenty-five countries, but not the United States, where didn’t get higher than #8. Technically it probably sold a lot more copies than “A Horse with No Name,” it was just a lot harder to top the American charts in 1986.

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The synthesizer introduction to “The Final Countdown” is ubiquitous stadium fare, finally entering retirement after decades of rallying the crowd behind the home team. Not a lot of people jam to the rest of the song, at least as far as we can tell by its lukewarm reception here in the shop, where folks snicker when they hear the opening (probably remembering it from some sporting event) and shrug their shoulders when they remember the rest of the song. Wikipedia tells us its lyrics were inspired by David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,”and it deserves to be a list of all-time awesome rock and roll songs about space travel (maybe between Bowie and Deep Purple’s “Space Truckin’”) but for all its use at football games it has never appeared in The Simpsons.

America ties it up by winning this round.

Most Obscure First Album:



America’s self-titled debut was released by Warner Bros. in 1971 to a modest reception in England. The following year the band jumped up the charts with “A Horse with No Name,” a stand-alone single that was quickly added to a re-issue of the album. Having sold fairly well without the hit single, original copies do show up in the shop pretty often, and most folks might not even notice the difference between copies with or without the hit single. It’s actually a pretty good folk-rock relic either way.

Europe’s first three records, on the other hand, were issued on the Swedish label Hot Records. Each was welcomed by Scandinavian hard rock fans (and the Japanese), but wasn’t a hit in America. Once in a blue moon we see a copy of their second record, Wings of Change, but rarely will you find a copy of their self-titled first record, or the soundtrack that was their third album. Europe handily wins this round — folks in Minnesota who loved hard rock were much more likely to pick up punk and new wave albums from the continent in 1983, making this an uncommon import in the collector’s market around here.

Most completely ignored recent album and how cheap is it on Amazon:

America’s Here & Now, released in 2007 was the last new studio record the group has made. In spite of a slew of guest artists (Ben Kweller, Ryan Adams, the guy from My Morning Jacket) it spent only a week on the album chart, stalling at #52. You can buy a used copy online for about six and a half bucks, but it should be noted there are a couple different versions of this album.

Europe Bag of Bones 2012 was certified gold in Sweeden, and about as successful as America’s Here & Now in their native England, but sold sluggishly everywhere else on Earth. You can get a CD for about six bucks on Amazon, but you’ll have to pay about four times that for an LP. Europe wins this round, if anyone cares — at least their home country still loved them.

Best Record Collector Surprise:

Producer George Martin (of Beatles fame) remixed songs from the first three America LPs for the compilation History: America’s Greatest Hits. Several songs benefit from the changes, notably “A Horse with No Name,” which takes on a heavier, bass-drive feel. Complete-ists are compelled to own the collection, and the re-mixed versions have replaced the originals in FM radio play.

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“Ventura Highway” (History remix)

historyEurope doesn’t re-mix songs. They’re too busy rockin’ the fuck out. At the peak of their fame, Europe did an unannounced gig at the Whiskey A Go Go as Le Baron Boys. The widely bootlegged disc of the same name does not, unfortunately, contain a recording of the show, just a bunch of scuzzy demos that sound like a watered-down Bon Jovi. America wins this round.

Best Cover Art:

America’s 1975 “best of” compilation History (above) featured cover art by their manager’s brother, Phil Hartmann. You may have seen his art on other albums (most of Poco’s catalog for instance), or recognize his name, with one fewer “n,” from film and television. Phil Hartman was much mourned after his death in 1998 by fans of Saturday Night Live, News Radio and of course The Simpsons, where he played the roles of attorney for hire Lionel Hutz and actor Troy McClure. He is also remembered by record collectors for his successful first career as an artist.

final countdownOn the other hand, The Final Countdown shows Europe in what appears to be the “Phantom Zone,” Krypton’s extra-solar prison presented in the Superman films as a sort of giant two-dimensional pane of glass. One can only imagine what would have happened if the Man of Steel would have released Sweden’s finest hard rock band instead of General Zod — of course, what did he think he was doing in the first place, hurling a nuclear bomb like that? Pretty careless for Earth’s greatest hero if you ask us. Europe wins this round in spite of Superman’s completely reckless disregard for the Phantom Zone.

Fun fact round:

Except for their self-titled debut, all of the America albums by the group’s original line-up have titles that start with the letter H: Homecoming, Hat Trick, Holiday, History, Hearts, Hideaway, and Harbor. Their eighth album, the first without founding member Dan Peek, was titled Silent Letter.


Hymie’s has not sold a copy of Out of this World, Europe’s follow-up to their enormously successful Final Countdown, in years. The same copy has been languishing on the shelves here since we moved the shop four and a half years ago. Whether someone has ever taken it to the listening station is anyone’s guess.

europe is sad

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“Let the Good Times Rock”

America wins this round because their fun fact isn’t sad.

Tie-breaker round: Who is more likely to beat Asia tomorrow?

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“Tin Man”

America is one of those 70s bands that every used record store has in surplus. Several fine songs are sprinkled over them, and you can hear most of those on History, one of the most popular greatest hits collections of its time. We probably have a different feeling for the because we grew up in Europe’s age, so old hits like “A Horse with No Name” and “Ventura Highway” were songs we heard when Mom and Pop picked the radio station. They’re songs that have aged well, no more ‘moldy oldies’ than albums by Crosby, Stills, Nash and sometimes Young, as well as other folk-rock hits from the same time. You’re sure to see an America album in the 50¢ bin, or on our next “Free Records Day” (coming soon!) and it wouldn’t kill you to give it a try. After all, they’re named for your country. Unless you hate America. You don’t hate America, do you?

Europe, on the other hand, is a band whose appeal has steadily shrunk since around the time labels shirked away from producing LPs in the late 80s. The Final Countdown is pretty easily found by record collectors, and it’s as much a surprise when we sell a copy of it as it is when we sell an America record. There aren’t a lot of people who loves The Final Countdown who don’t already own it. And they don’t have the magic nostalgia of Guns n’ Roses or the weird appeal of 80s KISS, they’re just one of those embarrassing bands out of the big budget metal days.

Hell, Joey Tempest made a series of contrived singer-songwriter albums before exploring electronic pop before finally reuniting Europe. That’s just not a very metal thing to do. Observe the slow, mellowing decline:

If Europe had stayed the course of Wings of Change they might have won this battle, but the fact is we don’t believe their keyboard-heavy pompous arena rock can defeat Asia’s keyboard-heavy pompous arena rock. If we take nothing else from the life of General Joseph Stillwell (or The Princess Bride) let’s all hold dear to the advice “Never fight a land war in Asia” as we enter tomorrow’s smackdown …

America vs Asia

asia 2

Tune in tomorrow… if you dare.

Folks often ask us what record we wish we could find, and we never really have a good answer. So many come and go through the shop it’s rare we have time to think about it. What we usually tell them is that we don’t even know what our next favorite record will be — somebody may be finding it a box buried in a basement or high on a shelf in a garage this morning. Or maybe they’re making our new favorite record right now.

What what’s been burnin’ up the CD player in the shop this week is Midwest Paul Cook, a new album out this weekend. Paul Cook himself was kind enough to drop off a copy last week for us to spin in the shop, and it turns out his first album is just what we didn’t know we were looking for.

paul cookSurprisingly, Cook has been but once mentioned here, although his fingerprints are on two of our favorite releases this year: Gabe Barnett’s Old as the Stars (reviewed here) and the Poor Nobodys’ Ink no Ink (reviewed here). Both were recorded by Cook, né Flynn, at The Space in Northeast, and reflect a remarkable sensitivity to unique sonorities of traditional instruments. Each is a feast for the ears, a feat not often achieved by engineers attempting to present music best heard in live performance. Cook captures the same balance of warmth and spontaneity on his eponymous debut.

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You may have seen Midwest Paul Cook at the 331 Club, where he’s become something of a fixture this year, and where incidentally this disc will be released on Saturday night. In recent months he’s played with the Bookhouse Trio (two thirds of which appear on this disc), Mike Gunther, the Dumpy Jug Bumpers and Jack Klatt. In fact, twice this past week local blues/traditional musicians of note have heard Cook’s new disc here in the shop and asked if it were Klatt — a fair assumption when you consider Klatt’s Cat Swingers appears on the album.

Cook carves out his own sound on this disc, closer to Gunther’s driven, almost glossolalian Gospel than Klatt’s jaunty ragtime playing. Consider how the two approach “The Panic is On,” a song written early in the Great Depression by Hezekiah Jenkins. Klatt’s take is quick, affable and light — a counterpoint to his brooding “Ruckus on Wallstreet” from his first disc — while Cook takes a more old-timey approach, sounding to us like another favorite local artist, Corpse Reviver’s Adam Kiesling. “The Panic is On” is also one of a few tracks where Cook plays his resonator guitar to great effect.

Some of the strongest songs on Cook’s disc are foot-stompers in this vein, such as the steady and bluesy “Sweet Ain’t Sweet” and “You Call That A Buddy?” both of which highlights the wailing harp of Dain Girodat. Unlike Gabe Barnett’s Old as the Stars, on which Girodat plays (as Dain ‘Maynerd’ Arnold) the ensemble numbers are still fairly sparse. In its full form, Barnett’s band hardly fits on the 331 Club stage, while Cook limits arrangements to three or four pieces throughout his album. The songs don’t lack for energy or rhythm, though — bassist Josh Granowski is in fine form throughout, giving everything a steady drive. On a few tracks Patrick Harison sits in with his washboard, which sounds especially awesome on “You Call That a Buddy?”

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Cook takes a darker approach to his hard time songs than Barnett or Klatt, starting the album by stating, “I don’t understand the world I live in, and it don’t care much for me.” Although his accompaniment is largely locals we would think of as Americana or roots players, Cook’s songs are through and through the blues. In “You Call That a Buddy?” and others, he gives us a new telling of an old story. “Misery” is one of the disc’s biggest arrangements, making great use of brass, keys, and a driving bass to put a great new spin on some old blues.

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“Nothing I Do” is a great tune that really captures his steady, laid back style. “I can’t keep on living like this,” he sings in the album’s closer. “It’s all I know how to do.” It’s a farewell tune played in a light Piedmont style but delivered with the slow burn Cook has established over the previous nine tracks. Fiddler Tina Eld provides just the right atmosphere to “Walkin’ Shoes,” and he song is a great album closer leaving us wishing there were more to hear.

We’re guessing this is just a taste of what Midwest Paul Cook has prepared, and we’re looking forward to more mu

Midwest Paul Cook’s album release show for this disc is Saturday night at the 331 Club. The Dumpy Jug Bumpers and the Brass Messengers will also perform.

A long white Cadillac

Photo on 2014-09-08 at 14.12Hank Williams Jr. is shown leaning against an old car on the cover of his 1980 album Habits Old and New. We’ve always thought the image has a Seasons of Glass quality, if you know what we mean. It does not appear to be the same 1952 Cadillac Series 62 in which his father died on January 1st, 1953. That car is in the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery, Alabama. You are not allowed to take photographs of it, and you are most certainly not allowed to lie down in the back set.

The album features a cover of “Kawliga,” which was the first of Hank Sr.’s posthumous hits.

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Hank Jr.’s album cover pre-dates the Blasters’ tribute song, “Long White Cadillac.” Both are, of course, plum wrong. The car is blue. Here’s a great cover of that Blasters song by Dwight Yoakam. It was a bonus song on his 1995 singles collection, Just Lookin’ For a Hit.

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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.

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