Phawker

You Report, We Decide

News, Media, Politics, Music, Culture, Gossip, In The 215 And The Great Beyond

Archive for the 'News' Category

EXCERPT: Postcard From The Edge

Friday, November 15th, 2019

Carrie_Fisher_Belushi

 

VULTURE: [Carrie] caused deep worry that was somehow hidden by the movie crews’ obsession with John’s addiction rather than her own. Carrie—younger than the others—was intensely fragile. She was generous, brilliant, witty, charismatic, caring—and deeply vulnerable: friends could see that. When they all got to the Belushis’ Vineyard house, “my brother was most concerned about her. He had to carry her limp body from room to room. I guess she was conscious enough that he didn’t call an ambulance, but he had a strong sense that she was really out of it.”

It was during that spate of days on the Vineyard, that John, in a moment alone with Carrie, stared at her and said, “You’re like me. We’re not like them.” Meaning he and Carrie had an addiction propensity—a disease, though it unfortunately wasn’t acknowledged that way at the time—deeper than their friends’ ability to enjoy “recreational” drugs without paying a price. He wanted her to know that he knew this and she should know it, too. In 2009, she remembered John’s words as if they’d Life_On_The_Edge been uttered yesterday, she told Vanity Fair’s Ned Zeman. On the night of March 4, 1982, Carrie was back in New York with Paul. Michael O’Donoghue and his girlfriend, Carol Caldwell, were living in L.A. now, while Michael worked on the script of Easy Rider Two (which was never produced) with Bert Schneider. Carol, a writer for the edgy monthly New Times, as well as for Rolling Stone and Esquire, was writing screenplays. Carol was friends with Judy Belushi. Judy, who was now back on Martha’s Vineyard, was worried about her husband, who was staying at the Chateau Marmont, working on a script with Don Novello, best known as the SNL character Father Guido Sarducci.

Judy Belushi knew that Carol and Michael were “very close” to John, and she put Carol in charge of checking in with John every day. Penelope Spheeris, a documentary filmmaker close to Carol who knew Judy had put Carol in charge of John, called Carol at 6:00 a.m. “Did you talk to John last night?” she asked. When Carol said no, Penelope said, “I think you’d better call over to the Chateau and see if you can speak to him.” There was a short list of people whom the hotel operator was authorized to put through to his room, and Carol’s name was on it. When she was turned down, “I called Judy,” Carol recalls. It was 9:00 a.m. East Coast time, “and said, ‘I can’t get through to him.’” The Belushis’ assistant called Carol and said, “‘Carol, you’ve got to go over there. They’ve found him, with a needle in his arm.’ We knew John was terrified of needles.”

“And then the nightmare began,” Carol says. Belushi, who’d been partying the night before with Robin Williams and Robert De Niro, had overdosed by way of a “speedball”—a cocaine-heroin injection, provided by a dealer named Cathy Evelyn Smith. It was nearing noon in New York when the phone rang in Paul Simon’s apartment. Another SNL staffer was there with Paul and Carrie. They were about to hop in the sauna. The friend on the phone said, “Turn on TV—now!” There was the news: John Belushi was dead. At thirty-three. MORE

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

REVIEW: Swans leaving meaning

Friday, November 15th, 2019

cover-Swans-Leaving-Meaning-

 

Since forming in 1982, Swans has pushed the boundaries of rock over the course of 14 albums spanning the dystopian ear-fuck continuum from ambient industrial sludge to sprawling post-rock fever dreams. Their 15th album, leaving meaning, continues to explore the dark, forbidden places along that continuum. “Annaline” follows the gloriously clangorous introductory track “Hums,” alchemizing its drifting formlessness with swelling tonal clusters of multi-tracked piano, violin and guitar feedback whereupon Swans mastermind Michael Gira sings “Oh, the Buddha was right, and Saint John of the Cross: a word is a thought, and a thought is a box.”  “What is This?” starts off as a foot-tapping indie rock song with David Gilmour-esque guitars, sloshing sleigh bells and vocal chants, before morphing into a celestial trance. “The Hanging Man,” is an eleven-minute long aggressive and foreboding Kraut-rock groove over which Gira sings “I am the hanging man/I hang, I never land/I steal the space between/ The filthy and the clean,” which, when the time comes, will serve as a fitting epitaph for Gira’s work with the Swans. The clear highlight of the album is “Sunfucker.” It starts with a reverb-heavy acoustic rhythm accompanied by a thick background drone further mutated by deep layers of vocals and effects. The second half of the song is marked by a pounding, energetic groove with loud drums, and clustered, shrieking guitars, that eventually peaks with oracular, chanting praise to Sunfucker. All told, this is peak Swans. My only real complaint is the jarring song sequence and I just can’t wrap my head around why some songs end so abruptly, especially to finish off the album. Still, these are minor complaints about what is otherwise the start of another extraordinary run for the new iteration of the Swans. – PEYTON MITZEL

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

Antisocial

FRESH AIR: Andrew Marantz has spent the past three years reporting on the alt-right’s use of social media. He’s embedded with the people he describes as the trolls and bigots and propagandists who are experts at converting fanatical memes into policy. Marantz is a staff writer for The New Yorker and started this reporting project during the 2016 presidential campaign. He watched how extremist memes and lies were created and went viral, and he profiled the people creating the means. Marantz has also been reporting on social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, that claim they’re dedicated to free speech but have vulnerabilities that have allowed them to become the primary means for spreading disinformation. His latest articles are about what social media platforms have been doing and have declined to do to prevent purveyors of false news and smears from exploiting social media during the 2020 election. Andrew Marantz is the author of the new book Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, And The Hijacking Of The American Conversation.

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

INCOMING: Killing Me Softly With Her Song

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

Perhaps inspired by her musical therapist mother, introspective indie-rock thrush Kate Bollinger’s soft, yet distinctive voice has a lulling, dream-like effect. Her music radiates a certain sweetness and serenity which serves as a welcome balm in these nerve-shattering times. Her back catalog to date is a series of relaxed-fit singles that sound, at turns, beachy, psychedelic, and jazzy — sometimes at the same time. And she can sing a line like “You give me so much to be afraid of” (from “I Don’t Want To Lose,” see above) with indomitable placidity of a Zen master. On her 2017 debut EP, Key West, she was backed with subtlety and vibe by members of Philly’s The Extraordinaires, but it was Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney that hipped me to her. When I asked the hard-to-impress Mr. Carney what new bands he’s impressed with he name-checked Bollinger’s latest single, “Untitled,” which he characterized as “really good.” I would characterize it as gloriously chill, but that’s splitting hairs. – LARA MICKLE

KATE BOLLINGER + WILD NOTHING @ JOHNNY BRENDAS NOV. 17TH

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

TV REVIEW: The Mandalorian Episode # 1

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

mando

 

The streaming war has officially begun with Disney firing the first shot with today’s launch of Disney +, their proprietary streaming service, armed with its secret weapon: Jon Favreau’s take on a Galaxy Far, Far, Away The Mandalorian.  For those not versed in Star Wars speak, the Mandalorian’s were a legendary warrior race known for their iconic omnipresent armor, who were typically either mercenaries or bounty hunters. There has been talk for years of Boba Fett, the most iconic Mandalorian, getting his own feature film and up until Solo bombed it almost seemed inevitable, but instead we get a completely new story, about another mysterious Mandalorian who has begun to rise prominence five years after the events of Return of the Jedi.

Right off the bat The Mandalorian establishes a pulpy tone as we witness the unnamed bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal) clear a cantina of alien patrons in a very un-Jedi fashion, before warning his target “I can bring you in warm or cold.”  From there it becomes very apparent this is Favreau’s spaghetti western in space as the Mandalorian agrees to a very profitable and very dangerous off the book bounty hunt, underwritten by none other than Werner Herzog. Its during this meeting we are also clued in that even with the Empire overthrown, there are still remnants who have yet to be united under The First Order. As the unnamed bounty hunter finally tracks down his prey he is forced to team up with a suicidal bounty droid IG-11 (Taika Waititi) as he comes face to face with his mysterious bounty.

The best way to describe The Mandalorian is it feels like a live action ‘80s Saturday morning cartoon. As a fan and a critic I couldn’t describe this pilot as anything other than flawless. It hits every mark for a Star Wars fan, the CGI was feature quality the cast was amazing, it was fun, and it fully owned the weirdness of Star Wars. Nerd cred points the Star War Holiday Special call out, and for finally answering that age old question: Are their bathrooms in a galaxy far, far, away? So I am definitely in for the long haul on this one,The Mandalorian is diverging from the binge model of Netflix and Disney+ here is parsing out an episode a week for the show’s eight episode run, to keep us hooked and coming back while the new service finds its way in the weeks to come. May The Force be with them.


Now streaming on Disney+

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

ITS_GARRY_SHANDLINGS_BOOK_jacket_art

 

FRESH AIR: Judd Apatow was a teenager when he first “met” comic Garry Shandling in a phone interview for his high school radio show. Years later, their paths intersected again when Shandling, who was hosting the Grammy Awards, hired Apatow to write jokes for him. Shandling had been Johnny Carson’s guest host on The Tonight Show before creating and starring in the groundbreaking comedy series It’s Garry Shandling’s Show and The Larry Sanders Show. He became Apatow’s mentor and close friend. “He completely changed my life,” Apatow says of Shandling. “He hired me to write for his show. He did a cameo on the pilot of The Ben Stiller Show, which I thought was part of why we got picked up. He asked me to direct. … It was always mysterious to me why he was so kind to me.”

Apatow went on to produce Superbad and Girls, and to direct The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Trainwreck, but he always stayed in touch with his mentor. After Shandling’s sudden death in 2016, Apatow helped sort through his belongings — including boxes of diaries dating back to 1978. Shandling practiced Zen meditation for decades, and many pages of his journals are reminders to himself to stay calm, remain unattached to worldly things and let go of his ego.

“I felt like there was so much wisdom in examining Garry’s life,” Apatow says. “Garry was a wounded person. He was a neurotic man. He was a guy constantly attempting to evolve and heal. I felt like there’s so many lessons that people can get from learning about how he lived his life.” Shandling is the subject of Apatow’s new book, It’s Garry Shandling’s Book, which is a companion to the HBO documentary Apatow made last year, The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling. “I saw in the journals that he wrote, ‘Learn to grow old gracefully. Learn to become a mentor gracefully,'” Apatow says. “Now I’m more tuned into the responsibility of doing that. I’m lucky enough to be in a place where I can help people who deserve to be heard from or who deserve breaks. … I definitely try to keep that Garry tradition alive.”

PREVIOUSLY: Phawker’s Judd Apatow Q&A

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

SALLY (ALEX G): In My Arms

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019



SANDY (ALEX G) @ UNION TRANSFER SATURDAY NOVEMBER 20TH SOLD OUT

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

WORTH REPEATING: The Troubles With Spikol

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

Spikol

 

PHILADELPHIA MAGAZINE: My psychiatrist first floated the idea that I don’t have bipolar disorder months ago, when we were spending another session dissecting my history of disasters. That’s what you do in therapy, in case you’re not familiar — you take out your calamities and examine them, hold them up to the light until you can see them without shadow. Then, if you’re lucky, you fold their shiny sharp edges in tissue paper, place them in a box, and shove the box to the back of a shelf you can’t reach without a ladder. When all the boxes are on the shelf, you’re done with therapy, I guess. I’m not there yet.

But I am getting closer. It’s been 20 years since my last stay in a psych ward. My medication cocktail, which once involved up to 10 drugs at the same time, each trying to fix the sins of the others, is down to two. I haven’t missed a day of work due to mental illness for more than a decade. On the days when the boxes are especially well stored, I find it hard to remember what psychosis was like, or how it was that I used to spend days anchored to my bed, unable to move.

At one time, for a long time, I was so ill that I dropped out of graduate school, went on disability, suffered through shock treatments and punishing medication regimens. I talked to myself in CVS, walked in my nightgown to Wawa, then sat on the corner of 15th and Locust not understanding where I was. I had paranoid beliefs about cashiers and receptionists judging me; my mother had to call places ahead of time to warn them I’d be hostile. I saw cockroaches everywhere, skittering. Once, when I saw one for real, I killed it with a blowtorch and then stayed in my bathtub all night, blowtorch in hand, in case it came back to life. MORE

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

SPOON: Inside Out (Demo)

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

Britt Daniel alone with a piano at midnight in the garden of good and evil demo version of “Inside Out,” which was turned into an sad-eyed electro-static pocket symphony on 2014’s They Want My Soul.

RELATED: The Complete Oral History Of Spoon

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

ALBUM REVIEW: Twin Peaks’ Lookout Low

Monday, November 11th, 2019

Twin Peaks

 

Chicago-based indie-rockers Twin Peaks have been releasing the same wallpaper indie rock over the course of three albums, sounding more like a bland melting pot of their favorite bands than anything else. Their third album Down in Heaven is the first time the band seemed like they were coming onto their own, but most of the album was drowned out with more filler that sounded just ok. Nothing terrible or nothing even bad, just entirely unexceptional. Most of the time while I’m listening to Twin Peaks, I’m thinking about what a waste of the name they are. To name your band after David Lynch’s surreal nightmare show, you must be worthy, and this band does not live up to the high standards set by that show. Or at least on their first three albums, and most of their fourth.

Lookout Low, their new record, shows for the first time what the band can do when they are maximizing their potential, but still the curse of filler plagues the LP. When asked to review this new album, I listened to the singles “Dance Through It” and “Ferry Song” and was shocked by what I heard. “Dance Through It” was surprisingly funky, and “Ferry Song” is the best track on the whole album (also in their discography as a whole) and sounds thousands of miles away from what they were releasing just a few years ago, complete with charming piano keys, a catchy hook and even horns. This is the fullest Twin Peaks’ sound has ever been, and it’s a massive step forward from the samey lo-fi garage rock tunes they were pumping out not too long ago.

Asides from these two songs, Lookout Low proves to be a frustrating listen, which is unfortunate considering how strong two of its singles were. It starts out promising with the songs “Casey’s Groove” and “Laid in Gold,” but the momentum is soon lost with the dreary “Better Than Stoned,” and the rest of the tracks follow suit. The only real reprieves from this monotony are those two tracks “Dance Through It” and “Ferry Song,” which to me stick out like a sore thumb     for their quality. “Under a Smile” is another frustrating track that sounds nice but it just lacks something, which is telling of the rest of the record as well. Maybe this band’s missing element is memorability, maybe it’s instrumental variation, maybe it’s interesting songwriting, or maybe it’s interesting anything, or maybe it’s just me. – CHARLIE COLAN



TWIN PEAKS @ UNION TRANSFER TUESDAY DECEMBER 10TH 8PM

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

CINEMA: Bad Fellas

Friday, November 8th, 2019

irishman_xlg

 

THE IRISHMAN (directed by Martin Scorsese, 209 minutes, USA, 2019)

Dan Tabor_byline_avatarBY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC Based on the mob hitman memoir I Hear You Paint Houses, The Irishman is the “true” story of Irish Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), a blue-collar World War II veteran who made a life for himself in the Italian mafia hitman “painting houses” with the blood of his wiseguy victims. At the start of The Irishman, we meet Frank living out his final days in a nursing home as he reflects back on how he rose to the right-hand of not only Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci, in what is arguably the greatest performance of his career), head of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Bufalino crime family, but also teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). Like watching a car crash in slow motion, we know from the get-go that Sheeran will eventually whack Hoffa which gives the three and a half hour epic a sustained and palpable sense of dread. Even with the film’s rather stark and unflinching perspective on the violence committed by Sheeran, Scorsese makes sure never to let the audience lose sight of emotional consequences Frank would face for betraying his lifelong friend.

The gangster genre has been the bread and butter of Scorsese’s career and quite deservedly gets a lot of love and a lot of hate. These films invariably glamorize a life of crime, rarely showing any real consequences, often killing our “heroes” off in a proverbial blaze of glory. With The Irishman Scorsese has come full circle, closing the loop he launched his career with when he turned his lens onto his New York upbringing in Mean Streets. We see the majority of Frank’s life in this film, narrated with a knowing perspective not afforded to younger generations. As Frank tells the story of his life from his nursing home wheelchair, there’s a pervasive sense of loss and regret that slowly ramps up as we see Frank choose this lonely path, eventually pushing everyone away or killing them with his bare hands. The film has the kind of voice that comes with age, experience and loss, and Scorsese and his cast here use it to gives us a rare and very depressing look at the life of a gangster.

My only complaint here would have to be the film’s de-aging technology and how in a few scenes it’s distractingly noticeable. That being my only qualm, this is still the only way you could tell a story that spans from one man’s twenties well into his eighties using the same actor. With a script that is nothing short of a master work, coupled with an intricate sense of production design and cinematography style, there is a filmmaking language here that is unmistakably deliberate. Scorsese is using the entire cinematic experience, everything from costume choices to music cues are used to tell this man’s story and engage the audience on this emotional journey. De Niro, Pacino and Pesci are at the forefront giving the kind of performances that show you why we regard these men as cinematic legends, with Pesci giving a more restrained performance that radiates a calm, collected but altogether deadly cool.

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

THE FLAMING LIPS: Little Drummer Boy

Friday, November 8th, 2019

PREVIOUSLY: Last night the Flaming Lips unveiled the more-awesome-than-you-could-possibly-imagine reboot of their stage show, which replaces the happy-happy-joy-joy bliss rallies they’ve been staging for the past decade. Gone are the balloons and blood and bubble-walking and the dancing Santa Clauses and the big hands that shoot lasers. In its place — well, fact is it defies words, you really had to be there — but calling it H.R. Giger meets Hanna-Barbera on the dark side of the moonhenge isn’t that far from accurate. Frizzy-brained frontman Wayne Coyne conducted the proceedings from high atop a lumpy mound-like perch festooned with bifurcated mirror balls and long, winding tentacles of LED lights pulsating this way and that in time to the music. Behind him was a bedazzling beaded curtain of luminous diodes that pulsated and projected things both Freudian and phantasmagoric. The music, too, has changed mightily. Most of last night’s set was drawn from the vast, cold, Krautrock-ian wastes of the new album, The Terror, a desolate, forbidding totem of paranoia, fear and loathing — in short, it’s the feel good bummer of the year. Which you’d think would be tough, if not impossible, to sell to a beery festival audience on a gorgeous Indian Summer night on the Delaware. But if any band can do it, it’s the motherfucking Flaming Lips, 21st century ambassadors of peace and magic from Oklahoma by way of Neptune. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: For someone who’s been a fan and a follower of the Flaming Lips for going on 27 friggin’ years—who was there when the acid hit the punk rock, when Jesus still shot heroin and priests still drove ambulances, back before she started using Vaseline, before clouds started tasting metallic, back before we realized the sun don’t go down, it’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning ’round—going to Wayne Coyne’s house is, without exaggeration, like winning a golden ticket to visit Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. I amble up to the gate and cash in my golden ticket: Coyne’s cell phone number.

I peck out a text to announce my arrival, and before I can send it off, the gate swings open and the Wizard emerges, accompanied by a comely young lady who has, he explains, just finished gluing the crescent of glitter-rock sequins that semi-circle his right eye for the impending MAGNET cover shoot. (Although the photo shoot never materializes during my stay, he will continue to wear the sequins for the two days I spend with him, no doubt savoring the double-takes and poorly disguised sideways glances they elicit in the restaurants, bars and coffee shops we will frequent along the way.) He is dressed in a long, high-necked, blue woolen overcoat flecked with dog hair, fitted mustard-yellow slacks, tennis shoes and, despite the late-winter cold, no socks; this will remain his attire for the duration of my two-day visit, which, presumably, was the case long before I got here and will remain so long after I’m gone. The Wizard is the kind of guy who, when he finds an outfit that is the perfect mix of comfort and style, wears it until the wheels come off.

He smiles warmly, inviting me into the main house, where I am immediately set upon by a bitey, stranger-hating Chihuahua named Thor, who, by way of greeting, chomps down on my ankle and refuses to let go. This is not playful biting, this is “get the fuck out of my house” biting. It hurts and draws blood. If Coyne wasn’t here, I would drop kick Thor into next week. He is exactly no help.

“Oh, Thor, come on,” Coyne says, rolling his eyes, hands on his hips, with the tone of voice a parent would use to express his or her disapproval of a child making fart noises with his mouth at the dinner table. I grit my teeth and smile, pretending this is the playful nipping Wayne treats it as because I’ve only been inside his house less than a minute and it would, in all likelihood, be interpreted as rude for a 200-pound stranger to drop-kick a seven-pound chihuahua into next week in his own house. Actually, that’s not exactly true, this isn’t Thor’s house. Thor belongs to one of the myriad elfin bearded and bespectacled young men who toil in The Wizard’s dream factory.

“Let me get with my guys back there and tell them that the dreaded MAGNET reporter is finally here and I’ll get them set up on the things that we’re working on,” he says. “Come back, I’ll show you.” I finally shake loose from Thor’s death grip and follow Wayne through a series of spaceship-like hallways that lead to the laboratory in the back where the aforementioned bearded and bespectacled young men are working on the many, mad scientist-like experiments in brain-melting psychedelic retail and shock-and-awe marketing The Wizard is working on. MORE

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

THE LEGENDARY STARDUST COWBOYS: Talkin’ Beto, Clash & Townes W/ The Flatlanders’ Joe Ely

Thursday, November 7th, 2019

Screen Shot 2019-11-07 at 1.46.54 AM

 

Houlon2BY JON HOULON In the beginning, there was The Word – i.e. Townes Van Zandt – and Townes hitchhiked across the desert. And in his wanderings, Townes flagged down Joe Ely who drove him from one side of Lubbock to the other. And, in return, Townes handed Joe a tablet – i.e. a vinyl platter — that Joe shared with his friends, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Butch Hancock. And they played the platter over and over and in the fullness of time became the Flatlanders. Or so it is written.

My biblical allusions are surely suspect here: my memory of the Good Book is a rusty, old testament to my not having paid much attention in Hebrew school. But, still, there is something mystical about the way the Flatlanders (Ely, Hancock, Gilmore, and a host of other Lubbock weirdos) coalesced in a 14th Street flophouse in the Texas Tech “ghetto” as it was called back in the early ‘70s. A convincing case could be made that with the death of Gram Parsons in 1973, the mantel of “cosmic American music”MORE_A_BAND.jpeg was passed to the Flatlanders. They wrote and recorded music that, for a variety of reasons, was ultimately shelved for many years but is, arguably, the beginning of what today we would call Americana.

When the Flatlanders dissolved in 1974, Ely ran away to join the circus. Literally. He quit when the world’s smallest horse kicked him and broke his ribs, then returned to Lubbock to cool his heels, heal, and regroup. He put together one of the great honky tonk bands of all time and cut some peerless platters himself on the MCA label, pulling on his own songs as well as Butch’s and Jimmie’s. His second LP Honky Tonk Masquerade is often cited in those greatest albums of all-time lists. If that’s the sort of currency you trade in.

Ely was also a pioneer of home recording. In the early ‘80s, he put together an album on an early iteration of the PC. MCA rejected it, but Joe eventually released it as B484, part of an ongoing archival series on his own Rack ‘Em Records. Apple architect Steve Wozniak wrote the liner notes. Woz and Ely? Unlikely bedfellows: computer nerd and high plains honky tonker non-pareil. But Joe’s always defied categorization which is why his champions include Bruce Springsteen as well as the late great Joe Strummer.

In 1990, Rounder records finally released the Flatlander’s first album – some 18 years after it was recorded. They called it More a Legend than a Band. But for the last 20-plus years, The Flatlanders have re-convened on a fairly regularly basis. Are they now a band? Still a legend? In advance of their upcoming show at City Winery on November 16th, Phawker got Ely on the blower to discuss where the Flats have landed.

PHAWKER: It’s been over 20 years since the Flatlanders reconvened at the behest of Robert Redford and recorded “South Wind Of Summer” for the Horse Whisperersoundtrack, and then again for the Now Again LP a couple of years later. At this point Joe, would you say that the Flatlanders are more a band than a legend?

JOE ELY: [Laughing] Well, that has been debated. I would go either way on that. You know when we were growing up in Lubbock, Texas we kind of ran into each other because of our common interests, then we got a house together and just JOE_ELY_XLstarted playing all of the songs that we had connected over time and up until this very day that’s still kind of what we do. We don’t really think of ourselves as so much of a band, just kind of as a group of friends that go out every once in a while. You know, work on projects and play shows and stuff.

PHAWKER: I think that’s one of the things that makes you guys so great. The friendship really comes across on stage and in the recordings you guys make. I have to say, I’ve been guilty of this more than once: calling you “the legendary Joe Ely” or the “legendary Flatlanders.” Do you mind when people call you a legend?

JOE ELY: Well, you know, that’s a word that has many definitions. We don’t really think of ourselves as “legendary” because we never planned anything. I guess everything that we’ve ever done has been kind of unplanned and kind of… not really with any future project in mind. I like to say that the Flatlanders have absolutely zero ambition. We love to just get together and play. We’ve always recorded each others’ songs, so you know, that brings things together too.

PHAWKER: Do the Flatlanders have any future recording plans?
(more…)

Cost of the War in Iraq
(JavaScript Error)
To see more details, click here.