It’s official…

RyanAdamsCoverThe eponymously titled Ryan Adams will indeed be released Sept. 9 via Blue Note Records, with lead single “Gimme Somthing Good” and 10 other songs as per the track list below, not to mention a cover shot of Ryan himself looking…let’s call it a shade unkempt. It does not appear that the album includes the single’s “Aching For More” B-side (which has a cameo from none other than Johnny Depp — ah, synchronicity!), so you’ll have to buy the seven-inch for that. The album is available for pre-order on amazon right now.

 

1. Gimme Something Good
2. Kim
3. Trouble
4. Am I Safe
5. My Wrecking Ball
6. Stay With Me
7. Shadows
8. Feels Like Fire
9. I Just Might
10. Tired Of Giving Up
11. Let Go

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Whiskeytown’s dollars and cents — but really just cents

By some accounts, Whiskeytown alumnus Ryan Adams has done well enough in the music business to amass a sizable fortune. But just in case you’re under the impression that playing in a rock band is a path to riches for everyone, check out the Facebook post that Whiskeytown drummer Skillet Gilmore put up yesterday, concerning his latest earnings for “Midway Park” (one of Whiskeytown’s best songs, and kickoff track to the 1996 full-length debut Faithless Street):

MidwayPark$

This is, alas, a common experience for musicians who have discovered that the internet has not exactly leveled the playing field financially (and I’m here to tell ya that the world of online music has some distressing similarities to what happens with books). But since Gilmore is married to another former Whiskeytown member, I couldn’t resist pointing out that at least he gets an extra share of last quarter’s “Midway Park” loot. Skillet being Skillet, his reply was, of course, priceless:

MidwayPark$Response

 

 

 

 

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Ryan Adams wants something good — is that so wrong?

DRAGSGClose to a year later than most everyone in the DRA blogosphere expected (including me), Ryan Adams will apparently have his first new full-length album since 2011′s Ashes & Fire coming out this fall. Definitive details about this long-awaited followup remain sketchy, since most of the news that’s out there right now consists of different music blogs citing each other as sources without anything “official” from Ryan or his management. But here’s about the most detailed item I’ve seen so far, which cites Sept. 9 as release date for the self-titled Ryan Adams through Blue Note Records.

Preceding the album is a single, “Gimme Something Good,” due for release on July 1. I wish I could say I find it great, but…I’m afraid “Gimme Something Good” sounds more like a riff in search of a song than anything that will rank highly in Ryan’s catalog. It’s not bad, with a feel similar to the old Stevie Nicks/Tom Petty hit “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”, thanks to the distinctive keyboard wash of longtime Petter sideman Benmont Tench (on whose recent solo album Ryan also played).  But so far it’s not rising beyond the level of workmanlike for me, and the lyrics certainly imply an unpromising sense of ennui on Ryan’s part:

I can’t talk
My mind is so blank
So I’m going for a walk
I’ve got nothing left to say…

Obviously, your mileage may vary, and here’s a fan-made video from the Ryan Adams Superfan page on Facebook; give it a listen and see what you think. Meantime, maybe it will grow on me…

 

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Ryan Adams does the “Neutron Dance” — no, seriously

DRANeutron

It’s been going on three years since Ryan Adams released an album and there’s still no official word on when the next one might emerge, although a little bird told me the other day that Ryan is in the studio now. More (I hope!) on that later. Meantime, here’s a fun thing making the rounds on the interwebs today — a very disheveled Ryan looking like he just rolled out of bed to play a solo cover of the 1984 Pointer Sisters hit “Neutron Dance,” and damned if he doesn’t make it sound as if this song was written to be done on acoustic guitar. It really is perfect.

Take a listen to Ryan’s version here; and just for the compare-and-contrast heck of it, the Pointer Sisters original from the Eddie Murphy comedy “Beverly Hills Cop” is embedded below.

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Sadlack’s: Going going gone…

Sadlack’s Heroes, where Ryan Adams first got Whiskeytown together back in 1994 (see chapter four of “Losering”), has been shut down for more than four months now. Ever since the Backsliders closed it out on new years eve, the building has stood empty, silent and boarded up while awaiting demolition to make way for a 135-room hotel project that will occupy Hillsborough Street’s Bell Tower Block.

As of this week, alas, we can’t even say that the building is standing anymore. Wrecking crews began taking down Sadlack’s and the adjacent structures in recent days, starting with the Hillsborough/Enterprise corner that Sadlack’s occupied. Below left is a picture from the Sadlack’s Facebook page, taken in August 2012; and below right is the same scene today. Between traffic on the street and the construction fence, I couldn’t capture quite the same angle. But you can use the Sadlack’s sign to orient the view for comparative purposes; clicking on either picture will enlarge it. You can also see a much better picture of the scene here (taken from the other direction).

As of Saturday afternoon, it didn’t appear that they’re working over the weekend. But I’d guess the entire lot will be cleared off and all the debris cleared away by the end of next week. And then the last vestiges of one of Ryan’s signature Whiskeytown-era Raleigh landmarks will be well and truly gone.

 

SadlacksBefore

SadlacksAfter

 

 

 

 

 

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Inflation takes its toll

ARHASSLast June, a decades-old artifact from Ryan Adams’ past turned up on eBay: a cassette tape of late-night recordings he made with two of his pre-Whiskeytown bands, American Rock Highway and Ass, with a hand-drawn cover done by Ryan’s roommate/co-conspirator Tom Cushman. While it’s not the new Wu-Tang Clan album or anything, the ARH/Ass tape is a one-of-a-kind item — historically significant for those of us who care, even though Cushman describes the music as “godawful” (and I’d have to say I concur).

The tape didn’t draw any nibbles above the $3,000 starting-bid price while it was listed on eBay last year, but the seller claimed to have sold it. Wherever it wound up, 10 months later it’s back on eBay with a significantly higher asking price of $5,000. One of these days, you figure that Ryan himself might buy this since he can definitely afford it.

Last year’s seller claimed to need the money for medical expenses. This time around, it’s supposedly being sold to help fund a house purchase. Below is the seller’s description (with a first paragraph lifted from the blog post I did about last year’s sale). I’d be very curious to see the cartoon strip referenced at the end.

As detailed in Chapter Three of “Losering,” Ryan Adams formed a string of short-lived bands with his roommate Tom Cushman in the early 1990s, before Patty Duke Syndrome and Whiskeytown. Ryan recorded virtually all of his musical endeavors back then (even the ones that didn’t exactly deserve preservation), and some of the recordings survive to the present day — including a Maxell cassette tape featuring two of their Daisy Street bands, Ass and American Rock Highway.

So what is it? The only known recording of ASS, one of Ryan’s earliest Raleigh bands. There are no dubs of it, this is it. Ryan Adams voc/gtr, Tom Cushman bass, John Rea drums. It’s 6 songs, some in a Patty Duke Syndrome mode, others in a wilder improv infused style. Hints of things to come all over the place. The flip side of the tape is AMERICAN ROCK HIGHWAY, highly experimental noise rock with Tom on guitar, Ryan on drums, has 10 songs. A chance to hear some of his pounding drums. I’m only parting with this gem because I am getting married in September and am going to be buying a house. It comes in the original tape case and the insert will be in a separate sleeve. The insert was hand drawn and it has the first reference to Ryan’s current label, Paxam, on the cover. When I got this I was also given a comic strip, not the one from Brian Walsby, featuring Ryan in it and I will also include that as well.

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It’s only words…

MyBrain

So if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you know that I post a lot of song lyrics — I mean, a lot of song lyrics — because it’s kind of my thing. Yes, I expect it comes across as manic to people who don’t know me, but I’d like to think it’s at least a little bit entertaining. Some of what I post is obvious enough, like a quote from Devo’s “Whip It” when Devo guitarist Bob Casale died last week. And my man Ryan Adams has always been a recurrent favorite, especially at times when I’m flogging “Losering.”  But the majority of my lyric posts are admittedly pretty cryptic. Sometimes they’re based on something I heard, sometimes they’re what I’m feeling and sometimes they’re just random flotsam my mental jukebox spews out. Unless we’re related, I probably won’t spill which is which.

Anyway, the meme up there on the right was going around Facebook over the weekend and wound up on a bunch of folks’ walls, including mine. And while the sentiment always applies to yours truly, the timing made it even more perfect than usual. Sunday afternoon brought an informal lyrics-inspired gathering to Deep South the Bar, the downtown Raleigh nightspot where the “Losering” tribute show happened in May 2013. Deep South’s thing is lyrics, too, in that the bar’s decor is mostly song lyrics they’ve had people paint on the walls over the years.

It’s been a while since Deep South added any new song lyrics to the walls, so they invited a bunch of people to come by on Sunday and make contributions — including me. And where did I turn for lyrics? Do you really have to ask? Check it out below; it’s from “Bar Lights,” the final listed track on Whiskeytown’s swan-song album Pneumonia, which seemed appropriate for the barroom setting.

While I was at it, I talked to a few other people who were doing lyrics (including the Mayor of Raleigh) and put together a quick story for the paper. Check that hereFinally, there’s also some talk Deep South hosting another “Losering” tribute show like the very successful one from last year. Stay tuned for details!

DSLyrics

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Another choice old souvenir — a sweet trickle of whiskey

SAWhiskeyBottleA few months back, a discussion about old times cropped up on Facebook, with people comparing notes about Whiskeytown-related tokens they had from back in the day. Whiskeytown’s old manager Jenni Sperandeo mentioned that she still had a stash of customized airplane-service-sized Whiskeytown bottles of whiskey that the band’s record company had made up as promotional items for the 1997 album Strangers Almanac. Naturally, people started putting in requests for Jenni to send them a bottle.

I threw in a “Me too,” of course, even though I didn’t expect to get one, especially when Jenni said that it might take her a while to find the right box in her garage. I had actually forgotten all about it until this week, when what should arrive in the mail but a miniature, still-sealed bottle of Whiskeytown whiskey; Seagram’s, of course, since that was the company that owned Whiskeytown’s label (which would be dissolved two years later in the Universal-PolyGram mega-merger, but that’s another story).

The label on the bottle is emblazoned with the name of the Strangers single “Yesterday’s News” as well as the logos for both Outpost (the major label that released Strangers) and Mood Food Records. If Ryan Adams ever saw one of these, the latter probably rankled him because Whiskeytown and Mood Food did not part on the best of terms — see Chapter six of “Losering” for more details on that — but I bet it wouldn’t have stopped him from cracking one of these bottles open and drinking it down.

Anyway, it’s a nice reminder of those heady days when some of us thought Whiskeytown was headed for the toppermost of the poppermost, and a blast from the past I am happy to have (and no, I have no plans to open it). Thanks, Jenni!

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Ryan Adams wishes you — yes, you — were here

WYWHNow here’s a very cool little fan video starring the music of Ryan Adams. While backpacking through various quadrants of Asia, a photographer named Vipurva Parikh was missing his girlfriend. So he paid tribute to her by making a video of his travels starring people he met and set to the tune and lyrics (as written on a chalkboard) to DRA’s “Wish You Were Here,” track No. 4 from his much-maligned 2003 album Rock n Roll. Check that out here.

(HT to Yahoo)

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Further souvenirs from long ago: The “On Fire” T-shirt

DRAisOnFireSo we’re greeting the new year at my house by cleaning up a bit; you know, throwing some things out, moving other things around, hanging pictures on the walls, tidying up here and there. And while sorting through a long-neglected pile of old T-shirts the other night, I rediscovered one of my favorite Ryan Adams souvenirs.

It’s a shirt dating back to Ryan’s fall 1999 solo tour (recounted in Chapter 11 of “Losering”), a time when his band was in limbo and he was “Working For A Whiskeytown Free World.” It says so right on the back of the shirt, as you can see below. I love the sentiment on the front, too:

RYAN ADAMS IS ON FIRE
SOMEBODY PUT HIS ASS OUT

Van Alston, who served as Ryan’s tour manager back then (and also co-wrote the Heartbreaker tune “Come Pick Me Up”), was the guy responsible for this little piece of DRA sartorial genius. Van made up a limited-edition run of just 48 of these shirts to sell on the road, and they went fast. But he was kind enough to give me one before they left. Not that I’d ever part with it, but I expect this would fetch a pretty penny on eBay.

DRAWFW

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