Tag Archives: Dictators

Scott Kempner Rides Again

Scott Kempner is the genuine article.

I’ve already pimped how excited I am that The Del Lords have new music on the way, and I’ve reviewed Scott Kempner’s solo albums when they came out, doing what I could to pass the word. I know some of you got on board a bit too late for Tenement Angels. But now that’s rectified with a reissue, complete with bonus track, released this week.

Scott – or “Top Ten” as many Dictator fans know him – is a man who bleeds rock’n’roll. With influences from early doo-wop (Bronx Soul, he calls it) through the early rock masters, Kempner has been a prime force in Americana and roots rock for a long time. His songs are honest; they penetrate on first listen and then continue to resonate over time.

But rather than rant like a maniac (I’m looking at you, Kathie – you’re even a bigger Scott fan than me), why don’t I let Scott tell you in his own words what his mindset was at the time?

I’ve said this before: I’ve been very fortunate in my career to make music with friends. In the case of both the Dictators and the Del-Lords, there was a family feeling, a brotherhood, and it was a source of not just comfort and companionship, but inspiration, as well. It just makes me wanna do better than my best. The period in which this album was made was a scary time. After eight years together the Del-Lords had called it a day. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was gonna do except that I knew I would keep writing, playing and singing. But, I was still pretty lost.

So, I took an offer from a label to make a record and called Lou Whitney, which set the ball rolling, and within a few months I was down in Springfield, MO with Manny Caiati, and we were making this here record. Not a lot of pre-conception, other than that getting-Donnie-to-play-through-a-Marshall thing, picked a couple of covers, dove into my notebook, and well, here it is. Check it out, as it is a quite rockin’ little affair, and the chances of you diggin’ it, I think, are pretty damn good…

Read the rest of the essay at Scott’s website and check out his other blog posts.

Tenement Angels is available at CD Baby and Amazon and scores of other fine places. And pick up a copy of Saving Grace while you’re at it.

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Fuzztopia!

fuzztopia

I just got an email from Scott Hueston of Wicked Cool Records and Little Steven’s Underground Garage announcing their new project Fuzztopia. Looks like they are trying to create a shared portal where rock fans and musicians can create a directory of cool clubs, record stores, bars and bands – a reference tool created with input from people who actually live in these places. A list like this would be a great help for me just to find great pubs and record stores when travelling; I imagine the club info would be invaluable for bands looking to fill dates.

Of course there are dozens of smaller sites that do this now, and there have been networking mailing lists set up for this purpose for years. But perhaps with Steven’s involvement, a site like this could get a higher profile and truly massive participation. Assuming he keeps it free for registrants, this could be a great service.

I don’t pimp products or sell advertising on this page, but I do believe Steven’s heart is in the right place, having spoken extensively with him about the history of rock’n’roll and the difficulty in keeping the beast alive. He’s a tremendously successful person who could bask in the glory of his recording and acting legacy and just hob-nob with the elite, but he continues to take steps to bring real rock’n’roll to the masses in an era when the industrial machine is doing everything in its power to unplug the patient from the lifeline. Besides having the coolest radio show on the planet, he works tirelessly behind the scenes to help out up and coming bands with his passion, his expertise and his connections.

There are some great prizes that will be drawn at random for those logging in and completing a profile. As for content, I’m probably most excited about Fuzz TV. When I interviewed him in 2007, Steven told me that the footage from the first Underground Garage Festival on Randall’s Island was eventually going to be released on Internet television.  Here’s an excerpt from that feature in Pop Culture Press:

Unfortunately, the likelihood of a DVD release is slim. Chris Columbus (Harry Potter, Home Alone) was set to direct the multi-camera event, but a freak accident involving his daughter caused him to head back to Chicago. “She ended up okay, but he wasn’t there to physically direct the movie, and the funding went away. We never really recovered.” A few screenings were set to try and raise a couple of million dollars to continue the original plan to craft something really unique instead of a formula concert film. “First of all, it would have been the first 3-D concert ever done. I’m telling you, when Iggy Pop jumps up on one of the 3-D cameras, it’s the most amazing thing you’ve seen in your life. It’s like Iggy is jumping into your mind!” Not getting the film out was a disappointment (“it’s probably one of the top twenty tragedies of my life”) but just another in a series of setbacks that he will overcome. “We probably will start using pieces of it our Internet TV show in a couple of months”.

Well, it’s been a couple of years, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. All I know is that if we’re talking about The Dictators, Iggy, Boss Martians, The Pretty Things, Chesterfield Kings and all those other garage greats, there’s some incredible footage in the hopper!

So here’s the gist of the email from Scott – check it out for yourself.

 LSUG logo

Friends of The Underground Garage,

Stevie Van Zandt is excited to announce the Beta release of Fuzztopia – “all things Rock and Roll.” We need your help adding content, and we’ll be rewarding a few of the best profiles.

As a “one-stop” for FANS and bands, Fuzztopia will ultimately include:

–a place for you to purchase songs and albums from bands, including content exclusively available on Fuzztopia.
–advice and tools, from “city secrets” and “cool stuff” to “techville,” “video games,” and “da biz,” among other things. We’ll be gathering content from our favorite sites, but we’ll also have recommendations and feedback from musicians, bands, and people like Little Steven that just haven’t been available anywhere else. Think of “city secrets” as all the places in your hometown (restaurants, bars, clubs, etc.) that you would recommend to visiting friends. Likewise, if you have “city secrets” from other parts of the world you’ve visited, Fuzztopia is a fantastic place for that insight.
–tons of streaming video content. At “The Drive-In,” fans of B-movies will soon be able to watch and chat in real time. Meanwhile “Fuzz TV” will have live concert footage, original programming, and music videos.

Here’s where we need your SUPPORT & EXPERTISE:

–sign up as a fan, and create a profile
–add TWO of your favorite videos
–provide 5-10 “City Secrets,” plus ANY PHOTOS.
–ADD comments about “secrets” AREADY posted by others. Remember, people will be looking for your input! We know you have the inside scoop, and we want you to share it.
–create a playlist from the bands that have already uploaded their music.
–the beta version of Fuzztopia isn’t just about building – we want your feedback. Are there things you don’t like? Areas that need improving? A feature missing? Is anything confusing? Should we add something else? What do you like best? This is the time to tell us.

We will REWARD the best profiles with a couple of great prizes:

GRAND PRIZE (one winner)
* A pair of tickets to ANY one of the remaining Summer/Fall tour dates with Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band! PLUS you and your guest will receive exclusive laminates to meet Stevie Van Zandt backstage before the show!
1st PRIZE (one winner)
* Fender Stratocaster Squire Classic 50’s guitar signed by Stevie Van Zandt!
2nd PRIZE
*FIFTEEN 2nd prize WINNERS will be selected RANDOMLY among the COMPLETED PROFILES, so everyone creating a thorough profile has a chance to win:
*A script for an Underground Garage radio show PERSONALLY signed by Stevie Van Zandt. PLUS a double CD copy of the applicable show. The scripts are always written by hand, and include a bunch of commentary. This is a highly collectible, immensely cool look at the creative process for the show

CLICK HERE for the sign-up page:

Thanks for your help making Fuzztopia the best place for “all things rock and roll.”  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me at my personal email address: scott@wickedcoolrecords.com If you do not receive your confirmation E-Mail within 5 minutes of registering please check your Spam/Junk box – if you still have not received it please contact us.

***

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Friday – Time To Rock

Thank God it’s Friday!

Here’s a musical interlude to enjoy until the next blog feature.

You're never too old...

You're never too old...

The Dictators:   “Who Will Save Rock’n’Roll?”

Geraint Watkins:   “Nobody

Willie and the Poor Boys:   “Saturday Night

The Faces:   “It’s All Over Now” / “I Can Feel The Fire”

Humble Pie:   “Thirty Days In The Hole”

Jim McCarty:  “Lucille”

The Rockets (2008):   “Turn Up The Radio

Johnny Winter And:   “Johnny B Goode” (w/Floyd Radford on guitar!)

Rory Gallagher:   “Bullfrog Blues

 RAWWWKKKKK!

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Under The Radar: The Sonic Thrills

Hit me!

Hit me!

The Sonic Thrills: Get Up!

I don’t know how I missed this one last year, especially now that I realize the lead guitarist and drummer are also in The Love Me Nots (whose two releases made my best-of lists the past two years). So I guess they flew under my radar as well as yours…this would have made my best-of list had I heard it on time.

As the name suggests, The Sonic Thrills are a high-energy, fuel-injected rock’n’roll band. While I’d tag them much closer to garage rock than punk, they play with a fury that is far closer to the 77 sound. Michael Johnny Walker chainsaws some rhythm guitar alongside David Kains, but when it’s time to rip off a kinetic solo it’s flashy but compact. Drummer Jay Lien and bassist Chris Waldron absolutely pound the beat home on every cut; I would highly recommend having a defibrillator nearby if you try to perform any physical activity while this is playing.

Lead vocalist James Monarch is well-suited to the mile-a-minute pace. While not a howler, he’s forceful enough to sell songs about bad luck, bitchy women and…uhhh…closing the deal. On most songs he reminds me of Dave Gilbert, the late lead singer of The Rockets, who along with Dr. Feelgood were the first bands I thought of  when I first heard this album. Both bands have solid r&b roots, a fierce sound propelled by a relentless drummer and a guitar player who is as good a rhythm player as a soloist. “I Don’t Wanna Die” might be the only song where Monarch sings like a punker, but it certainly suits the song. Hell, I don’t wanna die either! Even “Sinatra’s Ghost”, where the singer meets the spirit of Ol’ Blue Eyes in a dark smoky club, sounds like an unreleased track from The Dictators.

“Feel it shake and rumble up from the ground”, Monarch growls in “Soul”, and that’s as apt a description of the Sonic Thrills sound as anything else. This mofo starts in fifth gear and doesn’t let up until a cymbal crash thirteen songs later. Bring this stuff to the East Coast, willya?

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