Thursday, July 28, 2011

That Dirt City Sound Episode 17

Jon Little describes Carl Petersen as a "genius", I can't argue with that.

That Dirt City Sound Episode 16

The best of from one of the Duke City's greatest singer/songwriters. 

Life After Farming


The latest in a continuing series of reviews from the innards of My Space Music (which has become the www equivalent of Siberia) 

What do Ant Farmers do after the ants come home? In the case of Carl Petersen and Jon Little they make music. When the band broke-up in 1999, diehard fans found themselves without closure and hungry for more. Nonetheless, for the former Farmers it was time to move on. Both Jon and Carl have posted a number of tracks on My Space Music. Carl's uses The Clampett Report or his other nom de plume, Reporto Clampini to post his music.  Jon has multiple pages, each one is essentially an extended play (ep) release (Jon Forrest Little, Radio Serenata, The Suicide Kit, The Before Photos and Space Pants)  

Presently, Carl stays busy as the general manager of Albuquerque's alternative print publication, The Weekly Alibi. However, when the workday ends, he hunkers down to compose captivating little ditties. He's always been a prolific songwriter, and it's a trend that continues with Clampett Report, his post-Ant Farmers musical project.  Jon Little took a different path, following his unceremonious departure from the Farmers he made his home in El Paso.  While living there, he published two books of poetry and recorded the bulk of his solo material.  Jon has since relocated to Denver, where he occasionally performs his music live.

The World According to Carl 

Carl Petersen is our secret weapon in the ongoing battle to fend off boredom and complacency. His songs are cryptic observations of routine affairs. "Top Grocery Guys" opens with muted brass and lazy strumming,  it's a glance at life, love and success before big box enterprise. "And when your neighbor drives by you'll be top grocery guy."  "The World's Smallest Man" "Lives inside a paper cup drives a little garbage truck" He isn't necessarily small in stature,  but as people say; It's not the size of the dog in the fight that counts. "Push a guy around enough he turns into a powder puff, he'll do anything that people say.. you don't want to live this way"

"Maybe they're just stronger than Douglas pines and businessmen"

A banjo plays through the broken glass as Carl spins a dry yarn about a "Cherry Tree".. "Soil is hard and alkaline, people listen half the time they need to" it's a wind swept landscape  "Cherry trees do well out here spite the arid atmosphere, they breath" stark gothic imagery gives the song its depth "The hole you dug to plant it in was deeper than a grave again and creepy ... when you dug that tree it's hole, ghosts reached out and took your soul completely" 

"There's an old pick-up trick, makes the girls think that you're sick"

"Dance" is propelled by a dissonant mix of cheezy organ and rumbling bass and guitar. "At the big dance tonight, you were wrong and I was right" Some frat boy is determined to maintain his wall flower status  "I wouldn't dance but said I might to please you" excuses and pick-up lines  "What she didn't tell... she was sick and can't get well and wandering in a worthless hellish dorm room."  "The Middle" swirls around a wheezy organ riff  "Everything starts out right, starts in the middle with an empty mind, everybody's gonna die in the middle" As folks around here like to say: You're born, you eat shit and you die.

"They just seem glad to dance with other guys"

"Lumberjacks" takes a voyeuristic look at gay men  "Sometimes they whisper in the rest rooms, some might conceal colored handkerchiefs ... no one remembers what they signify." Keep in mind that yellow is the universal color for piss. "For all we know they might be lumberjacks or maybe criminals or diplomats." "Throw Like a Girl" covers a similar theme "She hits drinks with a drill sergeant's throat, but I think that you throw like a girl." don't ask, don't tell "You go where the truck drivers go, but I think that you throw like a girl." I'm sure she has enough arm to sling a trucker bomb out the window while doing seventy? 

The Virtuous  Dixie Deer

Jon's voice resonates like that of a dear old friend, and he has a wicked sense of humor. "Measly" glides along on a synthesizer groove "I am a weakling your suitcase is difficult to hold... your tip is so measly, it seems like you barely tip at all " baggage from the past? "And your girlfriend is making fun of me"  let's see her carry these bags  "And that girlfriend ... is girl to me"

"You took them on a snipe hunt and drove them insane"

"Scouting" tells the tale of a sick minded Scoutmaster "After 35 years of scouting you turn into an eagle, and the things you did to the children were illegal" which is why I avoided the Scouts like the plague "Taking little shortcuts with cheese and macaroni and I never will forgive you for what you did to Tony"... sick bastard.

"Tell the doctors taking care of me that that I'm      planning a partial recovery" 

Mental health is a common thread: "Partial Recovery" .. "Now that they have seen me, I don't see me getting higher, but if I do, I swear to you by the next day I'll get fired." pickin' up the pieces, again. "Pill" has its John Lennon moments, "Pill... take an extra pill tonight.. Sill... hope the window sill is fastened tight." Jon takes inventory of his thoughts:  "Fight... heard you're going to fight tonight ... why?"  Just leave your thoughts under the pillow at night  "Mentally, you're ill... do you think the fairies will bring you change?" and we'll leave a light on for you. "Science Fiction" takes us beyond gravity "It takes a wicked heart of blackish wood" being a space cadet is no fun "Stuck in a capsule just like a canary... a spaceman's life is so ordinary" prepare for re-entry. "I don't wanna play science fiction, no more"

"I compensate for my own deficits by attacking the Ruling Class"  

Jon describes himself as a "semi-serious activist, thus his protest songs tend to be tongue in cheek. "This crane is beyond belief it picks up these pieces and places them out of reach." The song "This Crane" was accompanied by a video, on which Jon elaborates "The overall intent of the video was to mock the war profiteers, the captains of industry and to simultaneously empower the little dreamers" Why? "Because our dreams are just as significant as any. My crane (a stick that Jon fastened a hook to) symbolizes our dreams, delusions & abilities. Their crane symbolizes the powerful people and forces in our world."


"They Were So Stupid Then, Their Heavy Tools and Their Wicked Ways." 

And of course, I would be derelict in my duties, if I didn't mention a few Ant Farmers' Songs.  Carl would usually fly solo on "Asshole" while the rest of the band hit the bar. "Have another drink, drink, asshole, asshole.. if it's the only way to drag yourself onstage" There's a live version of  "Wheaty Back Penny" on 94 Rock, with T.J. Trout doing the intro. There's two versions of "Riverdale College Anthem", Carl's is leaner and faster paced...but I prefer the Farmer's version. "Oh Riverdale!, we've taken all our classes, we've kicked alot of asses ... never will we fail" I've always suspected that UNM and fictional Riverdale College had lots in common.

"Show us some team spirit, so quiet I can't hear it..." 

Carl works out of his home studio, (the shed in his back yard) while Jon embraces studio quality production. They have similar voices, and share similiar songwriting traits. Jon is the better vocalist, and he's never sounded better. Jon gets help on some of his songs, Christina Kennedy sings lead on the version of "Never Win" engineered by Brett Sparks. Jon also recorded a version of "Never Win" where he sings in the style of a depression era crooner. Heather Trost plays violin on "Partial Recovery" & "All the Moose are Hiding". Brett Sparks plays pedal steel on "Farm Debt" I believe it's Christina Kennedy singing lead on "Movie Scene"  I don't know who plays on Carl's songs other than Carl.  You can take any song by either musician and endlessly peel back the layers with repeated listens. Music that tugs at your heartstrings or simply a balm to ease our daily pain, you be the judge.  

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amy Winehouse

Addiction is an evil and hideous disease, it's heartbreaking to see someone so young and talented fall victim to this curse. Amy Winehouse, was a unique talent, often the subject of ridicule and derision, but her vocal talent can't be denied. Amy had a polarizing effect on people, you either loved or hated her. It's sad, any death from drug abuse is sad, she was ill, I think her celebrity status kept people from realizing that. 

Without a doubt, Amy Winehouse was a slow motion train wreck, that however, didn't make her any less human. Knowing that she was dead woman walking didn't lessen the pain felt by her family and fans when she died. Amy made many bad choices, but dying the day after the bombing and tragic massacre of innocent children in Norway, wasn't really her choice. 

Those that hated her don't need any more reasons to do so. The outpouring of grief that followed her death is not an indictment of our society, Facebook, Twitter or anything else. Amy struck a nerve because so many families have an Amy Winehouse in their midst.  A young woman struggling with addiction while making poor decisions is not so uncommon these days. Her celebrity didn't invalidate her struggle, in fact it may have impeded her recovery.

Kurt Cobain was no less pathetic a figure than Amy Winehouse. You could draw any number of self destructive parallels between Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain. Both were unable to deal with unexpected fame, both tried to cope with drugs, both were involved in obsessive relationships etc. Yet, I don't remember hearing a shrill chorus of protest directed at mourners when he died.

Amy's music drew people to her like a magnet, her mix of smooth jazz, girl group pop and cool soulful vocals was infectious. Amy had a natural talent that few are born with. She also had a myriad of compulsive behavioral issues that kept her from fully realizing her potential. Amy was no pre-fab pop-hipster, everything about her including her garish beehive and make-up were expressions of her true self. She was a trendsetter, not a follower, she was an original, not an imitator. To hate her is to hate the tabloid media image bestowed upon her.

As reported by Reuters & The Associated Press:

LONDON (Reuters) - British singer Amy Winehouse, whose hit single "Rehab" became the anthem for troubled celebrity culture, has been found dead at her home in north London, Sky News reported on Saturday.

Police said they had found the body of a 27-year-old woman at a home in Camden Square, north London, after being called by ambulance services around 1500 GMT (11 a.m. EDT).

"Inquiries continue into the circumstances of the death at this early stage. It is being treated as unexplained," a police spokesman said. A spokesman for the singer could not immediately confirm she had died.

Police had cordoned off the leafy street outside Winehouse's home in Camden, where around 20 onlookers had already gathered along with media photographers and camera crew.

Winehouse was born on September 14, 1983, to a Jewish family with a history of jazz musicians. She was discovered by soul singer Tyler James at the age of 16 and in 2003 her debut album "Frank" was released, to general acclaim.

Her second album "Back to Black" was released in October 2006 and reached the No. 1 spot.

The album's hit single "Rehab" contained the line: "They tried to make me go to rehab. I said 'no, no, no.'"

Winehouse's rise was helped by her distinctive look — black beehive of hair, thickly lined cat eyes, girly tattoos — and her tart tongue.

She was famously blunt in her assessment of her peers, once describing Dido's sound as "background music — the background to death" and saying of pop princess Kylie Minogue, "she's not an artist ... she's a pony."

The songs on "Black to Black" detailed breakups and breakdowns with a similar frankness. Lyrically, as in life, Winehouse wore her heart on her sleeve.

"I listen to a lot of '60s music, but society is different now," Winehouse said in 2007. "I'm a young woman and I'm going to write about what I know."

Even then, Winehouse's performances were sometimes shambolic, and she admitted she was "a terrible drunk." Increasingly, her personal life began to overshadow her career.

She acknowledged struggling with eating disorders and told a newspaper that she had been diagnosed as manic depressive but refused to take medication. Soon accounts of her erratic behavior, canceled concerts and drink- and drug-fueled nights began to multiply.

Photographs caught her unsteady on her feet or vacant-eyed, and she appeared unhealthily thin, with scabs on her face and marks on her arms.  "I didn't go out looking to be famous," Winehouse told the Associated Press when "Back to Black" was released. "I'm just a musician." 

But in the end, the music was overshadowed by fame, and by Winehouse's demons. Tabloids lapped up the erratic stage appearances, drunken fights, stints in hospital and rehab clinics. Performances became shambling, stumbling train wrecks, watched around the world on the Internet.

Born in 1983 to Mitch Winehouse, taxi driver, and his pharmacist wife Janis, Winehouse grew up in the north London suburbs, and was set on a showbiz career from an early age. When she was 10, she and a friend formed a rap group, Sweet 'n' Sour - Winehouse was Sour - that she later described as "the little white Jewish Salt 'n' Pepa." 

She attended the Sylvia Young Theatre School, a factory for British music and acting moppets, later went to the Brit School, a performing arts academy in the "Fame" mold, and was originally signed to "Pop Idol" svengali Simon Fuller's 19 Management. 

But Winehouse was never a packaged teen star, and always resisted being pigeonholed Her jazz-influenced 2003 debut album, "Frank," was critically praised and sold well in Britain. It earned Winehouse an Ivor Novello songwriting award, two Brit nominations and a spot on the shortlist for the Mercury Music Prize. But Winehouse soon expressed dissatisfaction with the disc, saying she was "only 80 percent behind" the album. 

"Frank" was followed by a slump during which Winehouse broke up with her boyfriend, suffered a long period of writer's block and, she later said, smoked a lot of marijuana. "I had writer's block for so long," she said in 2007. "And as a writer, your self-worth is literally based on the last thing you wrote. .. I used to think, 'What happened to me?' 

"At one point it had been two years since the last record and (the record company) actually said to me, 'Do you even want to make another record?' I was like, 'I swear it's coming.' I said to them, 'Once I start writing I will write and write and write. But I just have to start it.'" The album she eventually produced was a sensation.

Released in Britain in the fall of 2006, "Back to Black" brought Winehouse global fame. Working with producers Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi and soul-funk group the Dap-Kings, Winehouse fused soul, jazz, doo-wop and, above all, a love of the girl-groups of the early 1960s with lyrical tales of romantic obsession and emotional excess.

"Back to Black" was released in the United States in March 2007 and went on to win five Grammy awards, including song and record of the year for "Rehab."

Reuters News Service, U.K.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Shins- The Past & Pending

The Past and the Pending - The Shins from Brian Fejer on Vimeo.

"As someone sets light to the first fire of autumn, We settle down to cut ourselves apart."

More from Brian Fejer's Vimeo page (channel?) This video is fucking awesome, the first time I saw this I had tears in my eyes, no shit!  There's no shortage of beautiful images on this video, each one a perfect fit.
"Held to the past too aware of the pending"

James Mercer is our greatest songwriter. The flag bearer, the one who left, the one we wish would return... love him or hate him, this song is scary good. 

"We've turned every stone and for all our inventions, In matters of love loss, we've no recourse at all."

This should be the official video for this song.  Brian Fejer has an eye for connecting visual and aural pieces, his work on The Past & Pending is nothing short of genius.

"Loiter the whole day through and lose yourself in lines dissecting love."

Wanderlust takes us down a path, bathed in soft light, awash with gentle breezes.
No one speaks, for there are no words to describe the moment. This air is so sweet,
I must stop to inhale and then exhale and let its intoxicating effects linger

Monday, July 11, 2011

Red Light Cameras- Convertible

There's trying and then..there's trying too hard. Red Light Cameras try too hard. The video for Convertible is a "been there, done that" grab bag of cliches. The Thelma and Louise theme has been used nauseum, but that's just for starters, we also get douchebaggery, a troop of sexy dancers, violence, guns, cars and a hint of girl on girl action and it's not even a rap video. Did I mention that the car is a Mercedes Benz... Oh Lord!.. won't you sponsor our video shoot.  

The video opens with Lovitz motoring down desolation boulevard, he's the epitomy of a scum bag misogynist, the only thing missing is the Blackberry. Once upon a time, rocking a Blackberry on your ear was the ultimate douche bag status symbol. However, with all the "hands free" laws in place now, that's no longer the case, now they tend to blend in.

In the middle of fucking nowhere, Lovitz picks up a rough looking gal named Growly, down the road he's finds Sad Girl, a crazed meth head who's blocking the way, he stops, they pistol whip him and then force him into the trunk. After a quick drive out to the desert, they beat him like a fucking pinata, before Sad Girl takes a shovel to his cranium. 

While I admire their Little Rascals "Let's make a movie" spirit, the entire effort overshadows the band's music. Growly growls and purrs like a pissed off lioness. Sad Girl pounds the skins like she means them harm. Mike & Chris hammer their axes into submission and Barney...well he's there too. The band is tight, the music is good, they have never sounded better.

However, it's all for naught, the only lasting image from the video is Sad Girl caving in Lovitz's skull.   Yeah! the girls do bring sexy back, if you're turned on by staring into the business end of a loaded handgun. As Lorraine Lewis might say "Sex sells! and mo' sex, sells mo' music."  If violence sold anything, Bill Cosby would be killing motherfuckers on those Jello Puddin' commercials, boy howdy!  Now, if you don't mind... I've gotta go.. Dialing for Dollars is trying to find me. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dirt City Graphic

Dirt City Chronicles passed a milestone recently. Blogger has a sidebar feature where I can keep track of the most popular posts. Since I added this app, an article featuring Albucrazy crunksters Brokencyde (Nov. 8th 2010) had sat at the top of the list. This month a story on Zach Condon knocked them from the top spot. Does this say something about Mr. Condon's fan base, or has Brokencyde's popularity finally peaked?

Though, the changing of the guard probably bears little significance, that blowtorch roasting of Brokencyde made this blog.  At the time that I posted that story, Dirt City Chronicles was going nowhere. Then, something happened, I started to get more hits than usual (a dozen per day was the norm) I was dumbfounded, till I realized that someone was following my blog, Samara at Crash (Blank).

Upon further investigation I found out she had mentioned Dirt City Chronicles on her blog, that accounted for the spike in hits. I'm truly grateful, at that point I was ready to drop the music angle and stick to writing about ghost towns and abandoned mines.  I've published articles that have taken 3-4 weeks to write and something that I knocked off in one hour proves to be the most popular. (1 hr. tops, for research, writing, editing, downloading images and publishing)

I don't hate Brokencyde, My Genuine Find or other artists that I've taken to task for the unpardonable sin of sucking ass. They do their thing and I do mine. When you release music or perform live, criticism comes with the territory. These guys know they're shamefully pandering to the musical taste of pre-teens.  History has shown us that teenie idols always get their balls nailed to the wall by music critics.

Timberlake and Bieber are just the latest examples, and yes Brokencyde falls right in with them. They may think otherwise, but the biological clock is ticking on their musical careers. These motherfuckers ain't ICP, their fans won't grow old and paunchy with them. The next batch of ruthless juveniles isn't buying the act, and that doesn't bode well for Brokencyde.  Anyhow...we always knew they had the life expectancy of a cockroach.

In a strange way, it feels like a victory... Zach Condon, a real musician sits at the top of the list.
I feel vindicated, now I know how George W. felt standing on that aircraft carrier  in  his  jumpsuit.

Mission Accomplished? not yet!, that post where I curb stomped My Genuine Find without mercy, keeps creeping up the list. There's no rest for music critics and the wicked....shit! like there's any difference. 

D-Numbers- Ghost Talk

D Numbers "Ghost Talk" (Official) from David Mcpherson on Vimeo.

via Things in Light, here's Santa Fe's purveyors of soothing electronica, The D-Numbers

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Answer Lies

I first posted this over a year ago, but it's one of my all time favorites. Before Shang-a-Lang there was The Answer Lies: Chris Mason, The Yeti & Sam Greene. Urgent, angry punk rock, the perfect soundtrack for violence or just good clean fun..... Direct from the city that always creeps, as live as they'll ever get and the best fucking punk rock band from Lost Cruces, The Answer Lies



Shang-a-Lang--Sad Magic

From the garden spot of the great southwest, Lost Cruces: Chris Mason and Shang-a-Lang with  "Sad Magic" their latest release. This is essentially a greatest hits collection, a convenient packaging of the band's best tunes. Thirteen tracks of high energy punk rock in under 21 minutes, these fellas are not dicking around!  In the right hands, in the right studio with the right producer "Someday We'll Get There" would be a hit...I know this!  After all these years, Chris Mason is still angry and determined enough, to make us give a fuck...


1.nasty weather
2.the woods
3 im tired
4 be good to your mom
5 get outta town
6 someday we'll get there
7 new year
8 best intentions
9 best summer ever
10 its not you
11 passive aggressive
12 sad magic
13 log jammer

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Los Rockeros

Rock & Roll really took off in Mexico during 1959 & 1960, that first wave of bands was influenced by Elvis, Eddie Cochran, Chuck Berry & Little Richard. The second wave of bands hit in 1964 and they were heavily influenced by La Ola Inglesa (British Invasion) and American garage punk. The eras overlapped, the more talented bands took the change in stride, switching from Presley and Orbison covers to The Beatles and Stones without missing a beat.    

This is the second in a series and covers some of the pioneering rock & roll bands in Mexico. This isn't a definitive history of Mexican rock and roll bands. I've barely scratched the surface, for those interested in that genre there are some excellent blogs that are more informed and detailed. If you can read Spanish there's no problem, but if you're like me and have to rely on Google Translator....I wish you luck.


"Todos hablando de hombres ilustres y de Elvis Presley nadien habla jamas"
Los Teen Tops   Presumida
                                          Los Black Jeans/Los Camisas Negras/Cesar Costa
They started out as Los Black Jeans in 1958. With seventeen year old lead singer Cesar Roel, making all the girls go crazy with Spanish versions of American hit singles. They signed with Peerless Records and recorded their debut album in 1959, (world renowned tenor Placido Domingo was a backup singer on that recording)  Then they jumped to Musart Records and changed their name to Las Camisas Negras (The Black Shirts) Cesar Roel re-invented himself as Cesar Costa (in honor of music arranger Don Costa) Their music also changed as they went from covering Elvis to covering Fabian and Nat King Cole. Cesar Costa didn't take long to shuck his partners and go solo. He rapidly metamorphosed into the slick pop singer, television personality and movie star that has made him an entertainment icon in Mexico. 

                                                     Los Teen Tops/Enrique Guzman
Los Teen Tops formed in 1958 and shot to fame following an appearance on some CBS radio program broadcast in the U.S. Los Teen Tops were one of the few Mexican bands that "got rock & roll." It also helped that lead vocalist Enrique Guzman was one of the better Spanish language rock singers of that era. They hit the charts with their versions of Rock de la Carcel (Jailhouse Rock) La Plaga (Good Golly Miss Molly) Presumida (Stuck Up)  Popotitos (Bony Moronie) Los Tops rose to the top, leaving their competitors in the dust. Enrique Guzman would also turn his back on rock and roll to become a pop star, television host and star of the big screen. Effectively stopping the group's progress dead in its tracks. He was replaced by American singer Ken Hall (who sang in Spanish) Los Teen Tops became little more than a lounge act after that and faded from the music scene.


                                                    Los Hooligans/Ricardo Roca
Los Hooligans were not ruffians, they were clean cut young men who named themselves after a group that helped liberate Poland from the Nazis. Los Hooligans formed in 1960 and gained notoriety by winning a battle of the bands staged in Mexico by Columbia Records. Los Hooligans featured one of the most memorable voices in Spanish language rock: Ricardo Roel, the younger brother of Cesar Costa. There were two versions of the band, the first featured Ricardo, who would later change his name to Ricardo Roca. Then after Roca left to pursue a solo career, the second version featured Johnny Ortega as lead singer, very distinct vocalists.  The band's biggest hits were Despeinada (Tousled) Agujetas de color de Rosa (Pink Shoe Laces), Al Final (The End) Acapulco Rock and the delightfully weird Juanita Banana. Drummer Micky Salas who joined in 1963, later emigrated to the U.S. and became the drummer for famed 60's blues/boogie band Canned Heat.


                                   Los Rebeldes del Rock/ Tono de la Villa/Johnny Laboriel
Formed in 1957, as The Kings of Rock, they changed their name to Los Rebeldes del Rock (The Rebels of Rock) at the suggestion of a concert promoter. The early history of rock music in Mexico can be traced by a list of the band's lead singers. Los Rebeldes started out with iconic rock singer Tono de la Villa, who left to form Los Locos del Ritmo. Tono was replaced by Sammy Fournier, an adequate singer who was featured on the band's early recording. Eventually, tension between Fournier and the three Tena brothers who had founded the band (Americo, Waldo & Polo) would lead to Sammy's departure. Los Rebeldes were a mundane group of musicians, who covered American rock songs while offering nothing original or groundbreaking. That would change to some degree with their next lead singer, Johnny Laboriel.  No other lead singer could compare to Johnny, his vocals cut across language barriers. He was a natural rock & roll singer, also he was black which made him very recognizable in what was otherwise a racially homogenized scene. They recorded mostly American cover songs that showcased Laboriel's vocals, La Hiedra Venenosa (Poison Ivy) Melodía de Amor, (Melody of Love) La Chica del Calendario (Calender Girl) However, they never rose above being just a cover band. Los Rebeldes would keep going well after Johnny left to pursue a solo career in 1964.

       Los Locos del Ritmo/ Tono de la Villa
Formed in 1957 by Jorge Negrete and Tono de la Villa they rose to fame after a television appearance on Ted Mack's Amatuer Hour. Lead singer,Tono de la Villa gave Los Locos a distinct voice that set them apart. Tono also did what no other Mexican singer dared: he sang in English. This caused a sensation, even if his delivery and pronunciation were a bit odd. Los Locos also penned their own original songs, the band's biggest hit, the often covered "Tus Ojos" was written by group member Rafael Acosta. Los Locos also topped the charts with "Polvora" and "Chica Alborotada" and like everyone else they covered their fair share of American hit songs. In 1962 Tono de la Villa became ill and was rushed to a hospital in El Paso,Tx.  He was diagonsed with advanced throat cancer, and passed away a few weeks later. Mexican rock & roll fans were stunned, his passing had the same effect as that of Buddy Holly in the U.S.  For the duration of the 1960's they went through a series of lead singers and styles ranging from British Invasion pop to surf.  As the 1970's rolled around they were calling themselves Los Locos and playing psychedelic rock. To their credit they outlasted most of their contemporaries and over the course of their career actually showed some progression.  


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dirt City Graphic

My interest in Mexican rock started as a young kid listening to my older sisters play their Frankie y Los Matadores & Los Babys albums. Los Babys were a freakishly undersized group of  musicians who were once referred to as "The Mexican Beatles" Never mind, that to call their music rock & roll would be a stretch. A 1979 article on Los Apson, in Creem magazine (written by Fast Freddie) set me off in search of Mexican garage punk. That's how I found out about punk band, Tijuana No! (w/ Julieta Venegas) Then in the 1980's I discovered Caifanes and the floodgates opened up.  
I let the topics for this blog come to me, sometimes all it takes is a conversation, or I'll hear a song or watch a few videos. In this case, my interest in Mexican rock was re-awakened by a link sent to me by Capt. America of Wig Wam Bam rockzine. It led me to a website review of a compilation album featuring Mexican rock bands, complete with music streaming and downloads. I'll pay if forward.

Years ago, while clicking through the channels I stumbled upon Gloria Trevi on some Mexican cable station. La Trevi was in her raspy, anguished prime, pouring her heart and soul into songs about zapatos viejos (old shoes), loose hair and mental illness. The audience shrieked with delight as she walked like an Egyptian, whipping her hair and pounding her chest. Gloria followed this with a series of pelvic thrusts and vulgar squats, the shrieks grew louder, then she dropped to her knees and started to sob. With mascara and tears streaking down her face, she crawled across the stage singing "No estoy loca, solo estoy desesperada" (I'm not crazy, I'm just desperate)  She rose to her knees again, then did a series of hair whips before collapsing onto the stage floor. At the end, emotionally spent, Gloria smiled and blew kisses to the audience, Gloria Trevi..ladies and gentlemen..a big round of applause for Gloria Trevi. Now that's rock and roll, Gloria was a bizarre combination of Cindy Lauper and a young Madonna. She was excessive in ways that those two never dreamed of, yet she was deemed a healthy role models for young girls.

Who could follow that? I thought as the announcer introduced the next act: "El idolo del rock Mexicano" Cesar Costa!  He greeted the crowd the way a third world dictator would, by waving both his arms above his head. He had the look of a guy who had just set fire to a bad of dogshit and was about to watch someone try and stomp it out. He started snapping his fingers and doing a lazy version of the twist as he half-assed his way into a melody of American hit songs from the 1950's. The crowd was going apeshit, he was getting more screams than La Trevi... my mouth dropped open...they're joking right? It was no joke, a middle-aged woman got up and started doing the twist, then another and another. I watched in amazement, Cesar Costa resembled a Latin Barry Manilow more than a rocker, he was no more "El Idolo del rock" than Sammy Davis Jr. However, he was pleasant and flashed a toothy smile. The audience wanted to go home feeling good, and he gave them what they wanted...Cesar Costa...Ladies and Gentlemen...let's hear it for Cesar Costa!