Tag Archives: The Doughboys

Civil War Buff

Today marks 150 years since the start of the Civil War.

Pop maestro Richard X Heyman is a real-life Civil War buff; on his early album Hey Man! he recorded a killer pop tune about his fascination. Now in 2011, he’s recut an acoustic version to commemorate the sesquicentennial. A brilliant video interspersing historical images and Heyman’s performance is now online (the video is credited to Nick DiFabbio).

Video: “Civil War Buff

I was never a good history student myself, too many dates to memorize when my head was filled with lyrics. I could never understand the fanaticism, even when my nephew immersed himself in it and eventually became a reinactor. But now as an adult, I get it. It’s a fascinating period of history with so many “what if” moments, and even one hundred fifty years later, there’s still a palpable north/south thing in certain areas.

Heyman has never gotten the credit he deserves, and the fact that you can pick up the aforementioned album for a penny on Amazon is a crime (as is the presence of only one review). But dammit, if you don’t know the man and won’t invest a single penny (okay, three dollars with shipping charges) to dip your toe in the pool of Heyman, you should be shot. And with a musket, just to make it appropriate. This is a solid dozen pop chestnuts featuring the multi-instrumentalist at the top of his game.

Where he still resides, by the way. Heyman’s latest album is a double called Tiers/And Other Stories (his album titles are usually puns) and his other band The Doughboys are already working on their third studio album while their upcoming live CD/DVD Rock’n’Raw is on its way to the stores.

So enjoy this song (available on iTunes soon) and all of his work. And as for the war, choose your side carefully – those embers still glow.

Richard X. Heyman website.

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Blast From The Past: The Wildweeds

It wasn’t unusual for bands in the 60s to work their way to the top of the local and regional pile and get an opportunity to take that next big step to stardom. But consider the obstacles – how primitive the communication and public relations tools were, how few venues there were to siphon through as an artist – and it’s not hard to look at the long list of bands who were one-hit wonders*.

Now take that down a notch and think about the bands who just missed that rung – a breakout regional hit whose spark just didn’t catch enough fire – and that list gets exponentially longer. There is so much great music that never got its due, but thanks to the ability to create and promote a label from your desktop, more and more are getting their day in the sun. One such band is The Wildweeds, who were monsters in Connecticut but failed to explode nationally. Their recorded canon labored in obscurity for decades despite having a famous alumni, the great Al Anderson on guitar, who went on to achieve legendary status with NRBQ.

I pulled this record out again after getting an email from Doc Cavalier‘s daughter Darlene which included a link to this great video her Dad spliced together. I didn’t recall having seen the Wildweeds video before – turns out it’s the only video of this lineup – but I did remember Michael Shelley issuing this great CD on his Confidential Recordings label a few years back, so I pulled it out to play it.

No Good To Cry assembles singles and studio tracks from The Wildweeds Cadet era tracks plus ten additional songs; all were remastered by Doc Cavalier and Richard Robinson, and for the most part you can see where the band’s “Soul City” moniker came from. Most tracks sit squarely at the intersection of Philly soul/r&b and garage rock, much like their contemporaries The Young Rascals. There’s a great photo on the back of the booklet where the band is standing in a field of…well…three guesses. With their powder-blue suits and stocky frames, they look about as hip as The Turtles.

Having the ability to morph from jazzy to surf to psychedelic sounds, and with a spirited vocalist like Bob Dudek on many tracks, they were versatile and sophisticated. Vocal arrangements that rivaled harmony groups like The Association; guttural pop blues that emulated Blood Sweat and Tears, and numbers featuring flute and acoustic guitar reminiscent of early Traffic. (And yes, they might toss in a Beethoven riff during the bridge if they felt like it.)

I could go on about the band’s history and demise, but I’d prefer to point you to a couple of experts. Ironically one of the best essays about the band was written by Christine Ohlman, whose album I highlighted two days ago. (Christine, as you would expect, is a passionate writer and music historian in addition to her performing skills). And major kudos to Richard Brukner (co-founder of Confidential Recordings) for his excellent essay in the liner notes, just one part of a fabulous package that was assembled with love and respect.

Forty years after the 60’s ended, Felix Cavaliere is playing with Steve Cropper. Jimmy McCarty and Johnny Badanjek are playing together. Richard X Heyman is enjoying success with his 60s garage band, The Doughboys. Not every trip down memory lane is fueled by money; sometimes it’s just the right thing to do at the time.

Likewise, although I listen to a ton of new music, there’s no reason to turn my back on the past… especially if I’m experiencing some of it for the first time. Please do seek this one out and be rewarded like I was.

*No Good To Cry actually did register as a “one-hit wonder” in a 1990 collection on Rhino Records.

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And Happy Birthday to Russell Crowe, who has never thrown a telephone at me,  but whose performance as Bud White in 1997’s L.A.Confidential will stand the test of time. Sadly, neither Crowe nor Guy Pearce were even nominated for their roles, which is unbelievable in hindsight, and the film got drowned in the Titanic tsunami, winning only for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress Kim Basinger. More  on one of my favorite films at another time.

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Filed under Music, Reviews