June 7th, 2007

Two Bands

A year or so ago, Chris Schelling, agent extraordinaire, turned me on to a band called Heypenny, an outfit out of Nashville, TN, that is the brainchild of one guy, Ben Elkins.  His sound is reminiscent of Spoon at times, also of trippy Beatles, but really you have to hear him for yourselves.  Which, luckily, you can do on the above-linked website or at the band's myspace page.  I have flogged their debut CD mercilessly to everyone I know who might be remotely interested.  The truly incredible thing is that they remain unsigned.  This band is so cool that they don't have any videos posted on youtube!  Anyway, last night Chris and I finally got the chance to see Heypenny live.


Okay, that's Mr. Elkins there on the right, seated at his keyboards.  What this crapcam picture does not convey is the manic energy animating this tall & gangly guy, compelling him to fling himself about like a marionette with tourettes.  Such onstage antics, which can be frightening or charming or both, inevitably bring to mind other crooner eccentrics cum spaz artists like David Byrne and Ian Curtis.

Well, little did we know that Elkins was just the warm-up act for the real McCoy.

Or, rather, the real Maccabee.

The second band was The Maccabees, an outfit out of Brighton.  These guys are more punk-influenced, but with strong echoes of  bands like The Cure, Pulp (especially Jarvis Cocker), and The Smiths.  They of course have a myspace page, where you can hear music and see videos, as you can do on their website (which is a bit twee for my tastes). 

And, unlike Heypenny, they are well represented on youtube.  Which is good, because lead singer Orlando Weeks must be seen to be believed.  I swear, the guy's got some kind of obsessive-compulsive disorder -- but he expresses it in an endearing way

Still, the videos don't really give a good idea of the sense of aspergers-like strangeness that emanates from this singer, whose voice and delivery are exceptional. 

Two great bands with eccentric frontmen, well worth a listen!

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Music and Memory

How many song lyrics have you memorized in their entirety?

If you're not a professional musician, chances are the number is small.

It's just part of the modern condition. Most of us are not creators of music anymore, even in an amateur sense: we're consumers. We leave the creating to the pros.

Once, of course, before recording technology existed, if you wanted to hear a song you had to sing it, or hear someone else sing it. So lyrics got memorized.

It's curious that the exception to this rule today is Christmas carols. Those get drummed into us as kids, and evoke fond memories, so we retain them. Even so, how many of us can get beyond the first verse of even a common tune like HARK, THE HERALD ANGELS SING...? Not me!

Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

I know about three or four songs in their entirety, and often can be heard singing them sotto voce as I walk about town. This is a very useful tactic for discouraging muggers and/or Jehovah's Witnesses.

Here's one of my favorites: Dylan's DAY OF THE LOCUSTS:

Oh, the benches were stained with tears and perspiration,
The birdies were flying from tree to tree.
There was little to say, there was no conversation
As I stepped to the stage to pick up my degree.
And the locusts sang off in the distance,
Yeah, the locusts sang such a sweet melody.
Oh, the locusts sang off in the distance,
Yeah, the locusts sang and they were singing for me.

I glanced into the chamber where the judges were talking,
Darkness was everywhere, it smelled like a tomb.
I was ready to leave, I was already walkin',
But the next time I looked there was light in the room.
And the locusts sang, yeah, it give me a chill,
Oh, the locusts sang such a sweet melody.
Oh, the locusts sang their high whining trill,
Yeah, the locusts sang and they were singing for me.

Outside of the gates the trucks were unloadin',
The weather was hot, a-nearly 90 degrees.
The man standin' next to me, his head was exploding,
Well, I was prayin' the pieces wouldn't fall on me.
Yeah, the locusts sang off in the distance,
Yeah, the locusts sang such a sweet melody.
Oh, the locusts sang off in the distance,
And the locusts sang and they were singing for me.

I put down my robe, picked up my diploma,
Took hold of my sweetheart and away we did drive,
Straight for the hills, the black hills of Dakota,
Sure was glad to get out of there alive.
And the locusts sang, well, it give me a chill,
Yeah, the locusts sang such a sweet melody.
And the locusts sang with a high whinin' trill,
Yeah, the locusts sang and they was singing for me,
Singing for me, well, singing for me.

Copyright © 1970 Big Sky Music

Another unsung hero . . .

Paul's posts about Tickle Bee and Captain Crunch put me in mind of that classic board game Trouble, which featured one of the most amazing devices ever designed by the human brain:  the pop-o-matic!

After way too much time spent trying to track down some information about the genius responsible, I've had to admit defeat.  

But here's to you, unsung hero of pop-o-matic fame:  may your dice forever bounce within the transparent bubble of eternity!

Kids! Grow Giant Potatoes in YOUR Dorm Room

Ah, summer.  The time of year when frantic parents of teenagers would gladly chew off their own feet rather than face yet another discussion/tour/mass mailing that relates to that 21st century horror known as the college application process.  Herewith, some helpful scholarship information.  Hurry — deadlines are coming up!

National Potato Council Auxiliary Scholarship

The National Potato Council has established two $2,000 scholarships to honor
graduate students pursuing advanced studies to meliorate the potato industry.
Use link to 2004-2005 application download
Must be received by July 1, 2007


Tall Clubs International College Scholarships

Awarded to students under age 21 who will be attending college for the first time this fall.
You must be tall: Women over 5’10”, Men over 6’2”.Read this web page completely.There are strict rules.
Deadlines vary by club, but inquiries should start now.


Duck calling contest offers scholarship money to High School seniors

Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest
Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce in Stuttgart, Ark., and should be
sponsored by a Ducks Unlimited chapter or a wildlife association chapter whose contests are year round.
State and regional competition dates vary, see:


Finals are Thanksgiving Week.
first runner-up will receive a $500 scholarship;
the second runner-up will receive a $300 scholarship; and the
third runner-up will receive $200 scholarship


Happily Ever After: Stuck at Prom® Contest

Contest will reward students for their creativity and originality in creating or accessorizing
prom formalwear with duct tape.
The first place winners will receive a $3,000 college scholarship each—a total of $6,000 for the couple—
and $3,000 for the high school hosting the prom. $1000-2,000 for runners up

Ages 14+

Photos and entries must be received by June 8, 2007


Mama Weer All Nostaljic Now

I was primed to get this week's update from Wolfgang's Vault (wolfgangsvault.com) by hearing Sweet's "Ballroom Blitz" while driving to NY last week.  The Vault is featuring a live 1975 concert by Slade from the King Biscuit Flour Hour —


— which was one of my favorite bands when I was 14/15.  This concert was a few years later but they still sound great.  Plus, where else could you hear a lead singer named Noddy?  Who had something going on with his hair which, to this day,  I do not believe has a name, although it may well be a medical condition.  Their live cover (on the SLAYED? album) of the Lovin' Spoonful's lovely "Darling Be Home Soon" spoiled me for when I finally heard the original, which is a beautiful song but doesn't quite hammer nails up its nostrils the way  Slade's version does. 

King Biscuit Flour Hour — remember that, all you protest kids?  That was where I first heard Bruce Springsteen, lying in my room one night, "The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle,"  live from Asbury Park if I remember aright. That kind of radio magic is rapidly fading from the world, except in places like my part of Maine, where we still have WERU (though we lost three DJs to fatal illnesses in the last year or so, a real tragedy).  For my money there's still nothing like night and a human voice on the radio and good music, new or old.  Maybe the stacked vintage Wurlitzer or Rockola or Seeburg of my dreams in a dive where beer still costs a buck.  Anyone out there buying?