Aquarium Drunkard

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Richard Lloyd didn’t set out to write a rock & roll memoir. While his debut book, Everything Is Combustible: Television, CBGB’s and Five Decades of Rock and Roll: The Memoirs of an Alchemical Guitarist, rarely skimps on musical detail, his philosophical aim stays clear. As Lloyd recounts his run-ins with Keith Moon, Buddy Guy, Keith Richards, and dozens more, details his youth, early days in Television, work with Matthew Sweet, and documents his considerable struggles — with drugs, the music business, and murky areas in-between — his sharp, spiritual eye remains trained on deeper meaning of it all.

Think less Keith Richards’ Life, and more Patti Smith’s Just Kids. Or maybe, Lloyd suggests, Carl Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections.

“It’s very much an autobiography of his inner life,” Lloyd says over the phone. “How many memoirs do you get to write? I didn’t want to write a book about CBGB’s and Television. There’s plenty of that. What I could add, I added, but there’s a lot left out. I could have done just strictly that, but that’s such a limited audience. Mojo said in their review that it approaches great literature, which I’m very proud of.”

Aquarium Drunkard caught up with Lloyd to discuss his psychic outlook, thoughts on Television’s ill-fated sessions with Brian Eno, and that time Jimi Hendrix beat him up.

Television :: Adventure

Aquarium Drunkard: How did the process of writing Everything Is Combustible work for you? Did you sit down at one point and formally start writing a book, or was it more haphazard than that?

Richard Lloyd: I knew I was going to write a book years ago but I procrastinated and procrastinated. I couldn’t figure out how to actually write it in an ordinary way. So what I did was write little stories, a page and a half, two pages, three pages, of various events I remembered. I just stored them on a computer. I didn’t actually type; when I first got a computer it started bothering my wrist. As a guitar player, I don’t want that. So I went out and bought a voice recognition software program. So, I talk.

HOUSTON

The early 1960’s: folk songs reflecting social change and protest amidst the Civil Rights Movement could be heard on radios everywhere. Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, and Joan Baez inspired many a youth to pick up a guitar and harmonize with their peers. One of the lesser known communities that sprung up in the immediate aftermath was based in Houston, TX  at a club called The Jester Lounge. Opening in 1962, The Jester is known to be the supposed birthplace of folk music in Houston. Notable early performers from this period included K.T. Oslin, Guy Clark, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Townes Van Zandt and Janis Joplin (Songwriter Scott Holtzman once quipped “She had to go to California to get famous!”).

In 1963 Jester released a privately pressed compilation entitled Look, It’s Us, which highlighted some of the lesser known regulars hanging out and playing around the same time. There was legendary Houston engineer and folk artist Frank Davis (who can be heard trading otherworldly harmonies with Kay Oslin on many songs included here).  Scott and Vivien Holtzman, known for co-writing and producing the Houston psychedelic band Fever Tree and their hit “San Francisco Girls”. Guy Clark, who would go on to become a prolific Grammy winning songwriter and singer, can be heard here singing “Cotton Mill Girls”, his earliest known recording.  And there was Ken and Judy, a duo who largely covered Christian traditional folk songs with impeccable harmony. But it it’s KT Oslin, singing folk songs at the Jester long before churning out Nashville country hits like “Do Ya” and “80’s Ladies”, that is the stand-out performer here. Kay, as she was known then, sings with a haunting, wide-ranging, warm voice, enveloped in echo. Similar to that of Vashti Bunyan, it is a sound far removed from that aforementioned beforehand.

Several of the songs included here are from the Look, It’s Us compilation, many are presented for the first time digitally, sourced from the private collection of Christopher Clements.

While the bulk of this material contains interpretations of traditional leaning folk songs, the highlights are two that Holtzman penned and Oslin performed — songs that likely were recorded a little later at Walt Andrus Studios in Houston. “Illya”, written about the fictional Russian spy in the hit 1960s TV show The Man From U.N.C.L.E., contains shades of spaced-out Joe Meek production, while “Present Of The Past” hints at the full-band twang and harmonization of The Byrds.  More material continues to be unearthed, so until it sees the light of day, enjoy these songs that have been hidden subrosa for over 50 years…until now. words / zb

Present Of The Past :: Houston’s 1960’s Folk Underground / A Medley

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I made the first Wah Wah Cowboys mix in 2009– almost ten years ago, which I cannot believe–as a way towards bit of mental calm after my wife and I had our first kid, Elijah, who is now nine years old and sitting at the kitchen table drinking a cup of hot chocolate; he’ll be as tall as me soon. At the time, I was looking to collect in one place some music that seemed to share a distinct shaggy, swinging aesthetic. The songs on the Wah Wah Cowboys mixes– I made the second one in 2011–are not of the bedsit loner folk variety, but rather are the most grooving cuts on dollar bin (back then, anyway) records by a bunch of also-rans, sweaty, past-their-prime Waylon acolytes, serious cocaine losers, or heads that were too deep or musical for mass consumption. Some of these artists, like Brewer & Shipley or Eddie Rabbitt, actually had successful careers. Others, like Phil Upchurch or Jesse Ed Davis or The Crickets or the great Augie Meyers, were sideguys on a sort of busman’s holiday. I don’t know. All these songs wanted to live together in my house. So they did. Enjoy!  – MC Taylor (Hiss Golden Messenger)

Hiss Golden Messenger :: Wah-Wah Cowboys, Volume I

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Resonance Records has been digging up a number of previously unheard recordings from the legendary jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery in recent years. Their latest effort is more familiar — but it’s just as essential. These 1965 live recordings have circulated in innumerable forms over the decades, but never in such stellar sound quality and never with the Montgomery estate’s blessing. Whether you’ve heard this performance a hundred times or you’re new to it, Resonance’s edition is as advertised: Definitive.

And what a performance. Montgomery was on the verge of his late-period creamy commercial crossover when he undertook his one and only European tour in the spring of ’65, but you wouldn’t really know it here. The music is about as fierce as the guitarist ever got, with pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Arthur Harper and drummer Jimmy Lovelace (not to mention a guest spot from tenor sax giant Johnny Griffin) all pushing him to unbelievable heights. The version of Coltrane’s “Impressions” is a 10-minute master class, as Montgomery fires off a dazzling series of lightning fast lines, daring his band to keep up with him (they manage, barely). And the marvelously moody “‘Round Midnight” takes the well-worn Monk standard into deep new zones. Throw in Resonance’s typically painstaking packaging and detailed liner notes and you’ve got a very necessary addition to your jazz library. words / t wilcox

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Lagniappe (la·gniappe) noun ˈlan-ˌyap,’ – 1. An extra or unexpected gift or benefit. 2. Something given or obtained as a gratuity or bonus.

One of our favorite albums of 2017, Kacy & Clayton’s The Siren’s Song found the pair widening their scope, building on an existing foundation of the music and traditions of Southern Appalachia, the British Isles, and their rural ranch Saskatchewan home. Here, fittingly, they pay tribute to fellow Canadian exports Gordon Lightfoot and Ian & Sylvia. Kacy & Clayton, in their own words, below.

For our Lagniappe Session, we chose to record a couple songs from two Canadian artists that have had a profound influence on our own music. The first being Gordon Lightfoot’s Bend In The Water, and the second being Ian & Sylvia and the Great Speckled Bird’s Calgary. We consider Bend In The Water to be one of Lightfoot’s most good-timing compositions and an important installment in the Canadian Canoe-Rock sub-genre. Calgary is filled with perfect imagery of ice flows on the Bow River, a card game on the Gulf of Mexico, and one friend’s desperate plea to borrow money from another.

Kacy & Clayton :: Bend In The Water (Gordon Lightfoot)

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Nick Millevoi and his Desertion Trio — here augmented by Jamie Saft on organ — deliver a nonstop instrumental thrill-ride on Midtown Tilt. You may remember Millevoi from his recent stint in Chris Forsyth’s Solar Motel Band, and while fans of that work will find plenty to love here, the guitarist definitely has his own thing happening here. It’s a kind of jammed out free jazz psych western noir hybrid, equal parts Crazy Horse and Nels Cline, blending wild abandon with music-school chops. Millevoi and his cohorts (Johnny DeBlase on bass and Kevin Shea on drums) clatter and soar throughout the LP’s seven tracks, often coming dangerously close to total collapse before snapping back into focus. The interplay is telepathic, the vibes are infectious and the grooves are unshakeable.  words / t wilcox

Nick Millevoi and his Desertion Trio :: Numbers Maker