Mapping Happenings

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A Tale of (Two Artists in) Two Cities

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Last week I was in Pittsburgh. This is very close to where I was born and raised. Like, about a half hour away. But this was a business trip, so the majority of my time was spent on...business. I did get to spend one evening with family, and another evening going out with friends to see Glostik Willy at the Thunderbird Cafe. Now, Glostik Willy is a trio from Muncie, Indiana: guitar, bass, drums. When they took the stage the first thing I noted was that they looked to be (and were) in their early twenties. The guitarist and drummer had very long hair and wore tie-die shirts. The bass player was a big, bearded guy dressed in black with a glow wristband. Methinks, "Ahhh, okay, got it. Hence the name Glostik." A power trio setup. I wondered what they would sound like. Suddenly, SOUND! Full-bodied in-your-face power trio aggression. The first song took me by surprise as I settled in to understand what was going on. First, the guitarist, Jameson Bradford. He looked like Warner Sallman's painting of Jesus, "Head of Christ", or actually closer to Jesus in Da Vinci's "The Last Supper". He was tall, thin, with very long flowing reddish brown hair and slight beard. His fingers were long and thin, and his hand looked like a spider crawling up and down the fretboard - a modern day John Cippolina look. I later discovered the drummer was his brother, Ralf "Mowf" Bradford. The drummer was proficient, fast, and furious with a style akin to the early 70s hard rock drummers but on a more modern array of drums. Bassist, Zach "Buddha" Aguilar, had been a friend since junior high, when they first formed a band. His style veered toward melodic, similar to Jack Bruce of Cream with a touch of funk percussiveness. The first song did not do them justice, though I quickly identified three sources of inspiration: Blue Cheer and Gov't Mule (especially guitarist Warren Haynes and drummer Paul Whaley). and early Mudhoney (sans rhythm guitar). There was a striking aural resemblance to an obscure West Virginia power trio, Skuldedog, but with cleaner execution. Very few vocals, which were nearly inaudible. You could hear voices, and see their mouths move but words? What are words? The focus was on the guitar and interplay with the other two. Songs were long jams, and what was amazing to me was that with all the long jams I did not hear a lot of repeated riff patterns nor repeated guitar licks. There was a progressiveness to their sound, similar to Boom (the 90's Richmond, Virginia trio), and at times, Boud Deun (90's Warrenton, Virginia band). After the first song they seemed to loosen up and kept getting hotter as the night progressed. The first set ended hot and the second set picked up where the first set left off. At one point I identified the melody line and bridge to Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" played on guitar - no vocals. This was sandwiched within a long, unrelated jam. The six of us at our table just looked at each other in disbelief, then laughter. Jameson just kept on going - he was very into what he was doing. The second set was just two, maybe three songs - very...long...songs. Occasionally you could hear the Blue Cheer ascending riffs found on their Vincebus Eruptum LP, but none of the free form noise of that LP. So, after a rough beginning, they ended the night leaving me very impressed. We talked with them after the show and found out they were 23 and 24 years of age; following their dream, touring the country. They were heading to Colorado after this eastern leg of their tour, and talked about wanting to break into the Texas audiences. I think any place in Texas that longs for the hard rock sound of mid-70s Texas (Josephus, Hooker, False Prophet) would love these guys.

San Diego, California

Northbound for a Holiday

On MUSIC IN WORLD

Rolling north by train for some colder weather and time with family and friends, this song comes through the headphones.

James Vincent McMorrow (an Irishmen no doubt) is a singer/songwriter whose 'Early in the Morning' prize-winning album went Platinum in 2010. Luring us with an "idiosyncratic falsetto", McMorrow's originals, covers, and instrument playing evoke a nostalgic and warm sensation throughout. "McMorrow’s first record were the formative sounds of a songwriter who suddenly found people giving a damn."

With his second record, a solid fan base, and Vagrant Records, JVM aims for a different sound and intention, exploring beyond a man and guitar. 'Post Tropical' was recorded over the course of eight months on a pecan farm near the border of Mexico with a multiplicity of instruments and sonic inspirations. I can't speak yet to the success of 'Post Tropical', to be released in 2014, but I can highly recommend tracks from his 'Early in the Morning' record, 'Hear the Noise that Moves so Soft and Low' being just one.

Hear the Noise that Moves so Soft and Low - James Vincent McMorrow

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