Tag Archives: Jim McCarty

T.G.I.F. – Ten More For Jimmy Mac

Had I not already had tickets and an entourage headed to Buffalo to see Elvis Costello – a magical show, by the way – I would have made a (Johnny) bee line to Detroit to catch the album release party for Jim McCarty. The legendary guitarist (Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, Cactus, The Rockets, The Hell Drivers) was hosting a star-studded show at Callahan’s, the Mecca I drove ten hours to for my last Detroit pilgrimage.

McCarty is often asked to jump onstage with bands who come through the area, and this latest album features collaborations with Duke Robillard, Jimmy Thackery, Johnny A, John Nemeth, Jason Ricci, The Millionaires and long-time partner in crime, Johnny “Bee” Badanjek. My friend Kevin thinks we should sell our houses and move to Auburn Hills. Not his worst idea.

I couldn’t be at this show. But thanks to Al Gore’s Internet, I was able to enjoy the magic after the fact. So too, now, can you as this week’s TGIF features Ten More For Jimmy Mac. If this doesn’t convince you that Jim McCarty is one of the greatest guitarists in rock’n’roll history…you are Tommy.

(01) – Prisoner of Love

(02) – Tell Me What’s The Reason

(03) – Loan Me A Dime

(04) – Knock On Wood

(05) – Good Morning Little Schoolgirl

Buy Jim McCarty and Friends at Amazon

(06) – Black Night

(07) – Goin’ Down

(08) – Oh, Well

(09) – LaGrange

(10) – Can’t You See

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I May Not Be Mr. Right…

…but I’m Mr. Right Now.

New music from The Howling Diablos!! From the forthcoming album Ultra Sonic Gas Can; dropping this July on Funky D Records. A perfect blend of blues, funk, rap and rock by some seriously talented musicians (Johnny Evans – sax/harp; Johnny Bee – drums; Mo Hollis – bass; Erik Gustafson – guitar; Tino Gross – vocals).

Video: “Mr. Right Now” (New Link as of June 1!)

Lots of great guests on this album including Jimmie “Bones” Trombley (Kid Rock), Robert Bateman (Marvelettes/writer ‘Please Mr. Postman’), Kymberli Wright (Mary J. Blige), Detroit axe legend Jim McCarty, Motown Ron and many more. Can’t wait!

Now excuse me for a minute…gotta do me some howlin’.

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T.G.I.F. – Ten for Jim McCarty

What’s the difference between Detroit and Upstate New York?

On any given Friday night I can hit a bar and find a bunch of middle-aged guys playing covers. In Detroit, my buddy Sue can do the same thing, except the guitar player is Jim McCarty.

McCarty blazed on axe for Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels. Jammed at Electric Ladyland with Hendrix. Played toe to toe with Buddy Miles. Took Cactus into the stratosphere. Kicked ass all over again in The Rockets. Recently rocking again in The Detroit Revue, The Hell Drivers and finally, the 2010+ reincarnation of The Rockets.

But all the way through, he kept playing the blues, often on a Friday night in a Detroit bar, with friends.

I’ve been listening to this guy for over forty-five years and two things always come to mind – (1) holy shit, is he great, and (2) why is he not mentioned in the same breath as Blackmore, Page, Clapton, Beck, Gallagher and other consensus giants? He can blow your doors off or lay it bare. He can play anything, anytime, anywhere. I’m not going to argue with you.

I’m going to prove it to you.

Here are Ten Titanic Jim McCarty Tunes for this week’s TGIF.

(01) “No Need To Worry” / “Parchman Farm” (live at the Atlanta Pop Festival, 1970)

(02) “Taking It Back” (The Hell Drivers, live in Detroit 2009)

(03) “Hoochie Coochie Man” (live with Mystery Train and Willie D Warren!)

(04) “See See Rider” (live with the Detroit Rock Revue)

(05) “Oh Well” (sitting in with The Reefermen!)

(06) “Turn Up The Radio” (The Rockets, 1979)

(07) “Evil” (Cactus, live in Buffalo, 1971)

(08) “Goin’ Down” (live with Smokin’ Moses, 2008)

(09) “Let Me Swim / Long Tall Sally” (Cactus reunion, NYC, 2010)

(10) “Rock and Roll” (The Hell Drivers, 2009)

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Time To Assemble, Again

It’s always great when you meet someone and immediately sense that you’ve been through a lot of similar experiences, even before a lot of that conversation comes out on the table. Maybe it’s a story about this concert you saw, or that odd job you had, or (more likely) something that happened that just made you laugh your ass off. It’s the kind of stuff that happens much more often when you’re younger, perhaps because you were more frequently in situations where it was easy to be open and honest. Maybe it was naive to do so, but you weren’t focused on being guarded.

Now if you’re sharing a table at a club or hanging outside the same building waiting to be let in, it’s more likely that you’ll do the nod’n’smile or toss off a safe line of small talk. Because if someone started to engage you in an actual conversation, your first thought would be “what does this person want from me?”. And I hate that it’s come to that, but it can be a sick world out there.

In the summer of 2009 I jumped in my car and drove ten hours just to see Jim McCarty play guitar and Johnny Bee play drums. I didn’t know a soul who would be at the club but I didn’t care, I was on a mission to see two of my musical heroes. I got there early and would up sitting with three other people at a table about ten feet from the stage, and something got us past the polite nods and smiles. We started talking a bit, then buying beers, and although a good portion of the night was spent staring at the magic happening on the stage with mouths agape, we connected in the moment. And it wasn’t a long, deep conversation with Sue and Linda and The Dude, but enough to know that if we had grown up in the same town, yeah, we definitely would have hung out.

Sue and I have emailed back and forth on occasion since, and it was she who first tipped me off about the Assembly Line Concert in Detroit last year. This annual event not only aims to hold the longest continuous music festival in history and feature a tremendous amount of local music, but it also seeks to bring awareness and foot traffic to Detroit businesses and to grass-roots organizations trying to rebuild one of America’s greatest cities.

It started with one man’s offer of a free cup of coffee for anyone who would pledge that their next car would be a car made in Detroit, and it mushroomed into this manic challenge to have the longest continuous concert in the Guinness Book of World Records (which they did with 288 straight hours in 2009…only to be overtaken by Atlanta in 2010.)

Shortly after the event was over last year, Sue sent me a commemorative t-shirt since I was there in spirit, which was just beyond cool. And I just got an email from her tonight telling me it’s on again, warts and all, “…some good, some bad and some downright ugly; but always entertaining.”  So how could I not pass the word? I don’t expect anyone to stay up for fifteen-plus days glued to the monitor, but check in once in a while, and if you are so inclined, drop a coin in the slot and back a great cause.

The ALC started tonight and runs through April 3rd; here’s the lineup.

And here’s the streaming concert.

Sue tells me that Atlanta is going down. Don’t ever doubt Detroit.

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New Album! Cactus

A classic bootleg gets a proper release.

I’ve certainly waxed poetic about Cactus before. Growing up in the NYC area I was a lot closer to the flame, but as time passes on more people realize that these guys were monsters. Carmine Appice and Tim Bogert were the pulse of the Vanilla Fudge, a Long Island legend made good, while Jim McCarty and Rusty Day made their bones in Detroit.

At a time when album rock and FM radio were forming an unholy alliance, bands that could go deeper and heavier were prowling stages like panthers, and Cactus was capable of blowing anyone off the stage with thundering hard rock and boogie (and often, they did). It’s a shame that their flame only burned brightly for a few years. It’s an even bigger shame that forty years later, people still have to explain who they were.

In 1971, prior to the release of what would be their third and final studio album Restrictions, Cactus commandeered Ultrasonic Studios in Hempstead New York for small, by-invitation-only gig that was simulcast on WLIR, Long Island’s premier rock radio station. Given the technology of the day, anyone prescient enough to tape the show had a pedestrian copy at best, and when bootleg versions started showing up years after the band’s demise they were anything but pristine. (When I mentioned this to Carmine, he was unaware that the bootlegs existed at all.)

The master tapes showed up at a swap meet in Austin; now restored and remastered it’s out there for all to enjoy. “Evil” absolutely crushes; one can only imagine the force of frontman Rusty Day contained in this tiny room. Axe whiz Jim McCarty is blazing throughout, and Bogert and Appice are in lockstep groove on bass and drums (obligatory solos aside; this was the 70s after all).

Cactus was no singles band, the hour-long recording features only seven tracks. And while by design it was not a greatest hits set,  it does include both classic halves of “Big Mama Boogie” and a fifteen minute version of their blues classic “No Need To Worry” in addition to live favorite “Oleo” and the rarely played “Token Chokin'” A little blues, a lot of boogie and some incendiary rock, an appetizer platter sampling all three albums. The band is relaxed and having fun, and the sound is astonishingly good considering the age of the recording.

Not long afterwards, both McCarty and Day were gone; a newly assembled roster recorded a half-live, half-studio album (‘Ot and Sweaty)before it was all over. In 2006, with Jimmy Kunes called upon to replace the deceased Rusty Day, the “American Led Zeppelin” reunited to record V and restoke the fires. This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the band, and Ultra Sonic Boogie is just one of a series of gems set for release.

Boogie feels good and good in my heart.

August 1st marks the anniversary of Anne Frank‘s last diary entry and the first Victoria’s Secret fashion show. Surely there must be a connection.

(No there isn’t…and don’t call me Shirley)

Today is also the 29th anniversary of MTV, as The BugglesVideo Killed The Radio Star” launched the music video era. Remember when MTV played videos? Remember when Music Television was about music?

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