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Archives for 10/15/2006 - 10/21/2006

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Plan B Videos

posted by on October 21 at 11:40 AM

James Van Leauven has posted a few new Plan B videos on YouTube, including this pretty entertaining music video for the song “Double Crossing Rat.”


Friday, October 20, 2006

Rodrigo y Gabriela - Canceled

posted by on October 20 at 3:54 PM

Tonight’s Ridrigo y Gabriela show at Chop Suey has been canceled. Refunds are available at point of purchase.

Osunlade Saturday Night @ Baltic Room

posted by on October 20 at 3:29 PM

OsunladeThere’s no shortage of activities on Saturday night, and while plenty of electronic music fans are headed to Matmos, I’m opting for Osunlade (and catching the Matmos in-store Sunday). For those who missed him when he played during the Red Bull Music Academy or when he came a few months back for the Gettin’ ________* monthly at the War Room, Osunlade spins some of the most soulful house around. Infused with tribal rhythms, organic instrumentation, and warm sounds, Osunlade produces and plays music that feels alive, that has a real spirit. It’s fun to dance to as well, which is what really matters.

This time around I’m thinking he may stray a bit from house and play some of the other sounds that get featured on his label, Yoruba Records. Two of my favorite tracks this summer are on the label, Santos’ “Time of Our Lives” and the soon-released Slope remix of “Black Daylight” (Two points here: 1) I dig this remix more than I did the original and 2) Damn, those SunTzu guys know how to get some mileage out of a release), and both fall more into the soul, broken-beat end of things than house, but I’ll be hoping that those get some play.

It’s Gray Outside, Let’s Watch Movies!

posted by on October 20 at 3:23 PM

For weeks I’ve been meaning to write about two music documentaries I’ve seen recently, but it took the weather’s turn for the cold and dreary to get me to sit around in my pajamas to actually sit and do it. So here goes:

The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players Off & On Broadway, dir. by Richard Drutman
TF_DVD100.gifI’ve loved the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players (TFSPs) ever since I first saw them back in 2002 or so. They’re weird, they’re funny, and they’re at once both perfectly appropriate and wildly anachronistic (for those of you that don’t know, the TFSPs buy vintage slideshows at garage sales, estate sales, etc. and write pop songs about them, with Jason providing vocals, guitar, and keyboard, Tina operating the slide projector, and 12 year old Rachel playing drums (as she’s done since she was 7)). Their live show treads the line between improv and performance autopilot, with Jason Trachtenburg’s schtick knob turned up to 11, but since it works it doesn’t matter. In any case, despite how much I liked their songs, it never made sense to me to buy their CDs at their shows, since it wouldn’t fully capture the experience. This DVD remedies that.

The disc follows the familiar band DVD format, with documentary style footage interspersed with live performances. In all too many music documentaries the “follow the band” footage sucks, providing nothing for the viewer except tedium between great live footage (the godawful White Stripes doc at SIFF a couple of years back comes to mind), but in this case the Trachtenburgs’ quirkiness comes across as a way of life rather than a stage act. Interviews with famous fans of the TFSPs round out the documentary portion of the release, with Regina Spektor and others extolling the virtues of this traveling clan.

The key to this DVD is the live performances. All the Trachtenburg classics are here, including my personal favorite, the six-part rock opera “Opnad Contribution Study Committee Report.” It’s sheer brilliance, and while “Eggs” is more immediate, I’ve always gotten a laugh out of “Opnad,” which involves reading the text from a company presentation. It’s humor lies in how obvious it is, the case with most Trachtenburgs output, but they still mark a departure from other musical output that spends more effort in being serious than it does in being good. The Trachtenburgs are serious about being fun and serious about being entertaining, which luckily comes across in recorded form as much as it does live.

“High Tech Soul: The Creation of Techno Music,” dir. by Gary Bredow
High Tech SoulI mentioned this DVD’s being on presale a few months back since I was excited about it, and Dave Segal reviewed it here, so I’ll try not to be redundant with what he says, especially since I don’t have any disagreements with what he’s already said. Telling the tale of techno’s birth and early years through interviews with those credited as its fathers (the Belleville Three of Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson plus sometimes included Eddie Fowlkes), High Tech Soul swiftly moves along, discussing not only the music but the various socioeconomic factors that provided Detroit its inspirational qualities.

It turns out that the breadth and swiftness that the documentary covers in an hour turns out to be its biggest weakness (as Dave touches on). The interviews with the major players and their musical descendants are all very nice touches, the talking heads more interesting than some disembodied voiceover, with the editing producing a well-told narrative on a sprawling topic. However, the topic is just too big for an hour, so the target audience for this DVD is left fully aware of what’s not being told, which makes the experience more than a bit frustrating. While I’m happy to have finally seen the film, it would have been a better experience to see this at a music festival, where the hour dedicated to this film would provide rest from other activities, and where the glossing over approach would work a bit better. Techno deserves an 8 hour Ken Burns-esque documentary opus (I’d be all over the segment on Detroit techno’s third wave), and High Tech Soul is very much not that. This DVD could work as a tutorial to a techno novice, but for anyone looking for depth, they’d be better off buying a copy of Dan Sicko’s superbly written “Techno Rebels.”

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

posted by on October 20 at 1:35 PM


[A]mplified crayfish nerve tissue, the pages of bibles turning, a bowed five string banjo, slowed down whistles and kisses, water hitting copper plates, the runout groove of a vinyl record, a $5.00 electric guitar, liposuction surgery, cameras and VCRs, chin implant surgery, contact microphones on human hair, violins, rat cages, tanks of helium, violas, human skulls, cellos, peck horns, tubas, cards shuffling, field recordings of conversations in hot tubs, frequency response tests for defective hearing aids, a steel guitar recorded in a sewer, electrical interference generated by laser eye surgery, whoopee cushions and balloons, latex fetish clothing, rhinestones on a dinner plate, Polish trains, insects, ukelele, aspirin tablets hitting a drum kit from across the room, dogs barking, people reading aloud, life support systems and inflatable blankets, records chosen by the roll of dice, an acupuncture point detector conducting electrical current through human skin, rock salt crunching underfoot, solid gold coins spinning on bars of solid silver, the sound of a frozen stream thawing in the sun, a five gallon bucket of oatmeal.

(When the dog bites, when the bee stings…)

These are some of the many instruments Matmos have used in their live performances. Go see them Saturday night at the Triple Door. Enjoy your meal and see them do whatever they’re going to do with the three dozen roses they put on their equipment rider. (One of them is for you, but act surprised.)

And if dinner theater doesn’t give you the intimacy you need, or you can’t score tickets to this sought-after show, head over to Easy Street (20 Mercer St.) on Sunday at around 3pm and see them play in the shop. Buy some records, too, while you’re at it.

That is all.

Ari Up, atypical girl

posted by on October 20 at 1:08 PM

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I just interviewed Ari Up from seminal UK punk act The Slits, about their U.S. tour this fall (they play El Corazon on Weds. Nov. 22), and she was so fuckin’ badass. I haven’t been nervous about chatting with an artist since I got on the horn with Siouxsie Sioux a few years ago. Ari just seems so tough in old video footage… but while it was clear she doesn’t suffer fools, our interview went off much better than the disastrous one preserved on this 1981 Slits promo single. Whew!

Good News For David Schmader…

posted by on October 20 at 12:44 PM

…and other fans of veteran rock critic Robert Christigau. He has recently joined NPR as a contributing critic for All Things Considered, NPR’s afternoon newsmagazine. His first review aired this past Thursday. Christgau will contribute music reviews to All Things Considered several times each month and will continue to be a featured guest on NPR’s online-only music program, All Songs Considered, as a panelist for its shows on upcoming releases.

Johnny Cash, Corn

posted by on October 20 at 12:26 PM

Maybe being from a hick town isn’t all bad: Witness the Johnny Cash cornfield maze in the town of Anderson, California, which is next door to my hometown, Redding (also home to Merle Haggard).


It’s kind of hard to tell, but “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash” is “written” in the field above his head.

(Thanks Redding Record Searchlight.)

Too Much Time In His Van

posted by on October 20 at 12:17 PM

Wooden Wand leader JJT has found himself on some awfully long drives on his band’s recent tour, so he’s been using his time to write amusing little sketches about the life of a working independent musician. This “Indie Band Life-O-Meter” is his latest, and was composed during a long stretch of highway “between the flatlands of the Midwest and the dramatic landscape of the Rocky Mountains.” Enjoy:

INDIE BAND LIFE-O-METER by JJT: Your garden variety, moderately successful indie band lasts an average of five years. Chances are, if you’re not already on Matador or Sub Pop, yours won’t even last that long.

What will break your band up, you ask? Well, if it isn’t the oft-cited “˜creative differences,’ or the excruciating tedium of touring the United States, it’ll most likely have something to do with sex or drugs. It’s anyone’s guess, but don’t wait for anyone to, because no one cares.

But let’s give you and your band the benefit of the doubt. We’ll start with a generous TEN YEARS and go from there, adding and subtracting as needed.

No cheating.

Start Now:

SUBTRACT ONE YEAR for any two people in the band who identify themselves as a couple, and TWO YEARS for each additional couple.

SUBTRACT THREE YEARS for any two people in the band who used to date, but now just glare at one another through bitter, stoned, accusing eyes from the rearview mirrors of rented minivans.

ADD ONE YEAR for anyone the band with access to their own studio who may actually know how to engineer. But”¦

SUBTRACT ONE YEAR if said member regularly writes sardonic, Comic Book Guy-caliber letters to Tape-Op and wishes Steve Albini produced Abbey Road.

SUBTRACT SIX MONTHS for anyone in the band who likes to listen to jazz when they drive.

SUBTRACT THREE MONTHS for every soundcheck that ends with someone using the “˜F’ word.

ADD ONE YEAR for each member who’s been in a moderately successful indie band that’s toured before, and knows to keep his expectations very, very low. But”¦

SUBTRACT SIX MONTHS if he is the shadenfreude type - a bitter, jealous, shit-talking troll who’s convinced he is a misunderstood genius because his previous band got dropped from Kindercore.

SUBTRACT ONE YEAR if someone in the band’s uncle has in any way “˜subsidized’ the band by lending any money for a van, recording time, etc.

ADD ONE YEAR for every attractive girl in the band. Add six more months if she doesn’t play bass.

ADD FIVE YEARS if someone in the band’s dad is in ZZ Top, Santana, or any of the half-remembered bands on the Nuggets box.

SUBTRACT TWO YEARS for anyone in the band addicted to heroin. But”¦

ADD FIVE YEARS if he dies tragically between your first and second albums.

SUBTRACT THREE MONTHS for each vegetarian in the band who worries that the Waffle House hash browns are “˜cooked with the meat spatulas.’

SUBTRACT TWO YEARS for anyone in the band has a job back home that he or she is unwilling to leave.

SUBTRACT TWO YEARS for anyone in the band has a spouse back home that he or she is unwilling to divorce.

SUBTRACT FIVE YEARS for each band member with any kids that he or she even gives the slightest shit about.

SUBTRACT TWO YEARS for every band member who cannot, will not, or should not drive.

ADD SIX MONTHS if you’re traveling with your own soundman. But”¦

SUBTRACT THREE MONTHS if he frequently drinks himself mute and is currently facing statutory rape charges.


-20 years ““ 0 years: Consider yourself lucky. Walk ““ don’t run - to the nearest technical institute and learn how to weld or something. Remember to thank me later when your deathbed is NOT a cot at the YMCA.

0 years ““ 5 years: Congratulations! You’ve managed to really make something of yourself: a blip on a radar that itself is less than a blip on the radar to most of the civilized western world. At least you can look forward to Casual Fridays.

5 years ““ 15 years: The odds seem to be in your favor, buckaroo. When your life eventually flashes before your eyes, you will be treated to a montage of drink tickets, Super 8 motel rooms, studio vending machines and an anonymous gaggle of surly soundmen all named Eric. Wowee zowee!

15 years or more ““ You are R.E.M. You probably took this test with a pen and paper. Kill yourself.

Johanna Kunin on “Morning Becomes Eclectic”

posted by on October 20 at 10:57 AM

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Local artist Johanna Kunin, who I profiled in the April 20 edition of “Border Radio,” tells me that she is going to be playing live on KCRW’s influential “Morning Becomes Eclectic,” hosted by Nic Harcourt, on Friday, December 8. The station is also sponsoring her LA show at the Hotel Cafe later that evening. Brava, Johanna!

No Tomorrow’s Time Has Come

posted by on October 20 at 10:45 AM

The weekly improv/experimental music night at the Baltic Room, No Tomorrow, has just announced that their tomorrow has come—their last night at the Baltic Room will be November 5th.

I see it as an experiment that got beautifully out of hand, and it amazes and pleases me that it lasted as long as it has. Collectively, we turned a space designed for hip urban shenanigans and liquored up dancefloor junkies into our own personal sound laboratory (sometimes including liquored up dancefloor junkies). A posh nightclub on Capitol Hill became a special place where we felt comfortable to try out new ideas and get real feedback, real support, from real friends. And all of this happened deep within the kingdom of indie rock hegemony. Ok, well, the periphery really. But still…

No word on when and where the night will start up again, but you still have a few chances to say your goodbyes. Here are the remaining shows they have:

This Sunday, the 22nd, will be the homecoming of Syphilis Sauna, BiaXial Creep, and LowRez. They brough an oneirothopter with them. This would be a good opportunity to get your last waltz on…

Sunday, the 29th, we will be hosting OvO of Load Records fame, Ear Venom, and Rollerball. This one’s $5 bones. I hear Halloween’s sometime around then, so I suppose costumes wouldn’t be terribly out-of-line.

And, lastly, Sunday, November 5th. On this night, I cordially invite anyone and everyone to bring a soundmaker of their choosing—acoustic, electronic, or otherwise to the Baltic for a last sonic stand. It’s suggested that you bring your own power strip if you are going electronic. And, it’s best to stick with a small setup to give everyone some physical and frequency to work in. I don’t know exactly how this will work, but we’ll figure it out. Tell your friends (and bring your recorders).

Thursday, October 19, 2006

This Week in Music News

posted by on October 19 at 9:33 AM


Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy: Ballsy bruiser.

Former Stranger music editor Jennifer Maerz: Blogging bad-ass. Yes kids, we miss her too.

Lambchop: Silver screen stars.

GNR’s Chinese Democracy: Coming closer.

Charles Peterson, Lance Mercer, and Pearl Jam: Chummy collaborators.

Scarlett Johansson: Consummate crooner??! Marvelously merciless. Particularly in regards to Aerosmith. Sheesh.

For The Sparks Fan

posted by on October 19 at 12:44 AM


The Blog Disco Delivery has a very rare Sparks related Download RIGHT NOW! His links don’t last forever so get over there and snag those tunes. They are some of my favorite Moroder influenced “Hard Disco” tracks ever.

Dance! Dance to the Music!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

No More Madlib

posted by on October 18 at 5:13 PM

Madlib was originally booked to perform as part of the Stones Throw 10th Anniversary Tour hitting Neumo’s on the 22nd (read about it here), but unfortunately he canceled this afternoon. Everyone else on the bill is still a go, though (including PB Wolf, J Rocc, Percee P, Roc C, and Wildchild), so the show will still go on.

Cat Fight! TONIGHT!

posted by on October 18 at 3:20 PM

Dammit I wish I had cable. Tonight, on BET, at 9 pm, BEEF: The Series, has Episode Three, a “battle” between rappers Trina, Jacki-O, and Khia. If it’s anything like Episode Two, wherein Jacki-O battled Foxy Brown (and caused 8,000 dollars worth of damage to the studio?!?) then tonight’s show is gonna be AMAZING. I put my money on Trina.

Start Me Upchucking

posted by on October 18 at 3:00 PM

A couple friends of mine were at the Rolling Stones show last night. In the midst of the madness they were so moved by the show, they had to send me a text message:

“Dave Matthews is on stage with the Stones. It’s making me want to puke.”

Anyone else care to share their review?

Crazy Music for Crazy Days

posted by on October 18 at 2:47 PM

My current playlist sounds a little something like this:




I’ve also been rocking the Pharmacy’s B.F.F. and 31 Knots’ Talk Like Blood.

I can’t wait to see So Many Dynamos play the Paradox this Saturday night. And the best part is, there will probably be time to get to Neumo’s the Crocodile for the Hold Steady afterwards. And while I WOULD be listening to the new Hold Steady disc right now, sadly, I actually don’t have it yet. Can you believe it? A stop at Sonic Boom on the way home will fix that, however.

I have enough cash to pick up another album too… Suggestions?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Decisions, Decisions

posted by on October 17 at 3:39 PM

This is Secret Machines:


And this is Slim Cessna’s Auto Club (yes, the singer in the middle really is that scary looking):


Although I suggested the Secret Machines’ in-the-round performance at the Showbox in this week’s issue, I can’t pass up the opportunity to see Slim Cessna’s Auto Club at the Tractor tonight. Jello Biafra calls them “the country band that plays the bar at the end of the world.” I call them essential listening for fans of 16 Horsepower, Johnny Dowd, Nick Cave or Johnny Cash—or anyone who’s ever wished the cast of Deadwood would form a countrified punk band. What show are you going to tonight?

We Built This Torture Chamber Just For You!

posted by on October 17 at 1:40 PM


Talk about cruel and unusual punishment…this is positively inhumane.

Time to Get Back & Collect His Props

posted by on October 17 at 11:41 AM


Stranger columnist Larry Mizell Jr. nailed it way back in April, when the advance was first leaked, and now that the record’s hit stores I can second his opinion: Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor is just incredibly, gorgeously wonderful. (Or as Larry put it, “an outside-the-box masterwork of hiphop music.”)

Go buy it.

Another eulogy for CBGB

posted by on October 17 at 10:53 AM

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Randy Haecker, one of the most knowledgeable and passionate music fans I know in New York City (and a longtime publicist for the Song BMG Legacy group), has a very engaging and thorough reminiscence of the final night at CBGB, featuring Patti Smith (above), up on his MySpace blog. With all due respect, I found his account much more stirring than Jon Pareles’ in the New York Times.

Monday, October 16, 2006


posted by on October 16 at 5:53 PM


And now for some essential reading…just for Journey fans.

Kane Hodder: The Podcast

posted by on October 16 at 2:25 PM

Tour ain’t as glamorous as you might think. There are a lot of lonely hours when a band’s out on the road… Especially when the van breaks down and leaves a bunch of bored musicians stranded in towns like Toledo, Ohio. But when the stranded band has a laptop and some podcasting skill, well that’s when it could get interesting.

Kane Hodder is currently on tour through the month of October, but thanks to van troubles, they’re going nowhere fast. Lucky for us (well, sorta lucky for us), they’re putting their time to good use and making a recording a podcast so all you Hodder fans can get a peak at what life’s like on the road.

There’s no sex, no drugs, but there is some rock and roll. And also some insight into the band. (Okay, really you just get to sit in on their exchange of inside jokes and see what weirdoes they really are.) In the latest episode, they talk about dog boogers, the movie Gummo, and menstruating goats.

You’re intrigued, I can tell. Click here to listen.

They promise to premier some new material in the future (and hopefully not talk about stuff that makes me want to gag), so it might be worth it to keep an ear open.

(And if you’ve forgotten about it, and want something with more music and less poop jokes, Never Forget is a weekly show hosted by Hodder’s guitarist Eric and friends… it’s still going with some sort of regularity, and they play rad bands like Weston, Descendents, the Jam, and Doughboys. Check it out.)

Shine on, crazy My Brightest Diamond

posted by on October 16 at 1:22 PM

I thought I’d have to fight everyone else on Line Out to post about last night’s Sufjan Stevens show at the Paramount, but, perhaps, like me, they are all too “gobsmacked” (as the Brits say) to actually weigh in with an opinion. Truly, when I was not silently going “Wow” during his set—marveling at the butterfly wings and feathered masks, the hilarious anecdotes, the awe-inspiring majesty of the music, or batting around one of the many giant blow-up Superman dolls tossed into the crowd during “The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts”—I just sat there grinning like an idiot.

But enough has been written about Sufjan lo these last 18 months. Let’s take a moment to single out his opening act (and longtime bandmate), My Brightest Diamond.

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Shara Worden and her six-piece band (STRINGS!) opened with “Dragonfly,” and for a moment I was concerned she’d keep things on the sleepy tip all evening. I love the debut My Brightest Diamond album, Bring Me The Workhorse but it ain’t exactly Reign in Blood. But I laid my reservations aside once she ripped into the borderline-psychotic “Something of an End,” positive that Worden would leave her guitar strings bloodied, broken, or both by the song’s climax. She also spiced up the set with two covers, “Nature Boy” (which she dedicated to Sufjan) and a delightfully right-on rendition of the Nina Simone classic “Feeling Good.” Plus the whole ensemble wore complementary stage outfits of red, black, and silver, and thoughtful presentation always merits bonus points.

MBD will be back in Seattle in December, touring with Devotchka. (Shara is also playing three East Coast gigs as a guest singer with Philly rap act Jedi Mind Tricks this fall. Seriously.) But this was her final date, after several years, playing with Sufjan, and both of them looked a little misty eyed as SS rhapsodized about their adventures near the conclusion of his set. After the show, Shara told me that bidding adieu to SS now and devoting her energies to MBD fulltime feels “like the right thing, but weird… like graduating from college.”

ps: I forgot my camera last night, so I “borrowed” the beautiful shot above from someone else’s Flickr account. This gent has lots of good shots from the Sufjan and MDB sets in Vancouver, BC on Saturday night. Check out the costumes and leave nice comments.

The Decemberists in stitches

posted by on October 16 at 10:30 AM

Tour merch can leave a fan in a quandry. You wish to purchase it, not only as a souvenir, but also because you know it defrays touring expenses. But most folks need another band T-shirt like Seattle needs more coffeehouses. Personally, I want oddball items like the doo-rags, carpenters pencils, beer cozies, etc. sold by Split Lip Rayfield. Which is why I was so excited to receive the following e-mail from Jenny Hart at embroidery emporium Sublime Stitching:

Check it out! The Decemberists wrote me a while back with a very special request. Would I, could I make a custom embroidery kit for them to take on tour and sell to their fans who might love embroidering as much as they love The Decemberists? I said a big, fat YES.

But here’s the catch: The kits are only available at Decemberists shows. (For the time being, at least—and remember how quickly Colin’s solo EPs sold out? Why take chances?) So if you want one, make sure you or a friend pop by the merch table at one of their tour dates this fall. Then you’ll be all set to go home and embellish the back of your favorite denim jacket with something lovely like this:

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Closing Night at CBGB

posted by on October 16 at 10:06 AM


Photo by Ruth Fremson

The New York Times has a solid piece on the final night, along with video and photos.

Two Gallants Get Tazed, The Blues

posted by on October 16 at 9:38 AM

SF/Oakland’s scruffy, hobo-punk troubadours, Two Gallants, just got a whole EP worth of material thanks to Houston’s finest. Details and video come from Pitchfork and Houston So Real.

From Pitchfork (emphasis mine):

An indie rock show descended into chaos Friday night in Houston, Texas, when a police officer investigating a noise complaint at the club Walter’s on Washington allegedly attacked the band Two Gallants and its fans. According to various sources, Adam Stephens, singer/guitarist for the Saddle Creek two-piece, was shot with officer G.M. Rodriguez’s Taser gun, as were the band’s tour manager and two audience members—one, a 14-year-old boy. Two Gallants drummer Tyson Vogel and vocalist/guitarist Andrew Kerwin of opening band Trainwreck Riders were arrested.

Sounds like some cop lost his shit when presented with a crowd of people not totally cowed by his presence and predictably erupted with violence. From the Houston So Real post it also sounds like some issues that are beginning to affect Seattle might have been at play:

However, like all inner city neighborhoods in semi-close proximity to a downtown area, in recent years the developers have moved in and the piece of shit yuppies have followed. And with the dipshit yuppies come the noise complaints. See yuppie pieces of shit can’t figure out why when they move into a building with paper thin walls, built with the cheapest materials and labor greed can buy, directly behind a night club that has been rocking and rolling for like 50 years, they might have to deal with a little noise.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Farewell Freddy Fender

posted by on October 15 at 11:51 AM

Freddy Fender, the Mexican-American country star responsible for such hits as “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” and “Wasted Days Wasted Nights,” died yesterday. He was 69.

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The Associated Press obituary for Fender highlights several sassy comments Fender made on a variety of topics, including racial prejudice, an issue that continues to come up (and infuriate me) when I interview non-white roots & Americana artists from the Texas region.