Waiting for the end of the world

DRAoccultResponseSome people have entirely too much time on their hands. For example, there’s the obviously quite-addled gentleman who put together this video you can watch below, in which he purports to reveal the “Occult symbolism hidden in Ryan Adams WTC music video shot 4 days before 9/11.” Whoever ColCasperUK is, he claims to have discovered numerous Satanic Easter eggs scattered throughout Ryan’s various album covers (especially the recurrent images of roses and the color blue), but most of all in Ryan’s 2001 video for “New York, New York.” I’ll save you 14-plus minutes of rambling incoherence by noting his conclusion:

“All this man is, is nothing but occult.”

Thanks for clearing that up, dude. As wack-job conspiracy theories go, it’s nothing special — and despite lots of vague innuendo about allegedly devilish intentions, at least the guy doesn’t try to claim that Ryan was actually responsible for the Sept. 11 terror attacks. But the funny part is that, given his well-documented love for black metal, Ryan’s response to accusations of necromancy would probably be something along the lines of, Hell, yes!

ADDENDUM: Or the tweet shown above (thanks, Nicole Kriegbaum).

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On the “Blade Radio Show”

BobBladeBob “The Blade” Robinson is a name that should be familiar to multiple generations of rock-radio listeners in the greater Raleigh, North Carolina, vicinity — where Blade was on the air long enough to qualify as an institution (see his 2012 memoir, “There’s Nothing Louder Than Dead Air,” for more). Nowadays, Robinson’s broadcast address is the Doublewide Network, doing the “Blade Radio Show.”  I’m one of the guests on this week’s show, where Bob and I will talk about newer bands of note from the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Triangle, last week’s South By Southwest madhouse and possibly even our respective books.

The show is scheduled to go live at 4 p.m. Eastern Time Friday (March 27), and you can listen to it here.

Blade

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Comin’ right at ya

RayCoverI am immensely pleased to report that my next book is not only finished and ready to go, it also has a fantastic cover. And here it is, another first-rate job by University of Texas Press designer Lindsay Starr (who also did the wonderful cover for “Losering”).

I co-wrote this with Ray Benson, founder/guiding light of Asleep at the Wheel. Below is a shot of the two of us last week at South By Southwest (which was the usual insanely fun madhouse), right before the Wheel took the stage. Ray is a man with a million tales to tell and we worked in as many of those anecdotes as we could, but I’d say we ran out of room before Ray ran out of stories. Note the testimonial blurb in the lower left corner from Dolly Parton, who figures into some of those stories. By the time this comes out, there will probably be a blurb from some other famous person in that space up at the top left, too.

Me&RayAs for the cover photo, it goes back to 1975 and shows the first time Ray was trying on a pair of boots he’d custom-ordered from the illustrious country-western tailor Nudie Cohn; I guess he was feeling a little flush from Asleep at the Wheel’s big breakthrough single, the top-10 country hit “The Letter That Johnny Walker Read.” As for the book’s main title, Comin’ Right at Ya was what Asleep at the Wheel called their first album way back in 1973.

Look for “Comin’ Right at Ya: How a Jewish Yankee Hippie Went Country, or, the Often Outrageous History of Asleep at the Wheel” in October. In the meantime, Asleep at the Wheel is playing in my neck of the woods on Wednesday, April 1 — no fooling, they’ll be at Durham’s Carolina Theatre that night; and hell yes, I’ll be there to watch.

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Heartbreaker, indeed

Well, now, this riff below on the cover of  Ryan’s 2000 album Heartbreaker is truly adorable. And if anybody knows who did it, give me a holler…

ADDENDUM: Ask and ye shall receive! Thanks to fellow Ryan Adams superfan Megan Bieligk Davis for tracking down the artist, Liza Donovan.

HBcat

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I don’t think this is a Ryan Adams reference…

…but who knows, this Austin eatery (which I walked by on Sixth Street while making my rounds through the downtown district of South By Southwest this afternoon) might be named after his 2007 album.

EasyTiger

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Oh, no…

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 4.53.07 PMWell, this is regrettable. But I suppose it’s the sort of thing that’s going to happen at Best Buy. Besides, it’s not like there aren’t some pretty striking visual similarities between key albums of the Nov. 5 Adams twins, Ryan and Bryan — plus nowadays, the dudes are buddies.

(Thanks to Mr. Anthony Neff, who posted this photo on the Guitartown people page of Facebook.)

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…And a time to publish: Los Lobos

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 3.59.21 PMMeanwhile, the American Music Series rolls on as we strive to achieve critical mass (we hope!). Eddie Huffman’s “John Prine: In Spite of Himself” is officially published as of this week; and here is the cover for another of our upcoming titles, “Los Lobos: Dream in Blue” by Chris Morris. That will be out in October from University of Texas Press, at the same time as “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt” by Kristin Hersh.

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See you at The Comet

CometCheckActually, I won’t, seeing as how the Comet Lounge (a dank, dark Raleigh watering hole immortalized in the lyrics to the Whiskeytown Strangers Almanac song “Yesterday’s News”) was torn down long ago. Yet this canceled check, a recent gift from one of Ryan’s old Raleigh roommates, still exists as a reminder of one of his primary haunts from the Whiskeytown days.

It dates back to the same time period as the phone-bill check in Thomas O’Keefe’s recent eBay auction lot, but I like this one better. David Ryan Adams wrote it for 10 bucks to the Comet on a Wednesday in June 1997 for an amount that probably covered part of a night’s drinking — summarized in the Memo line as “Things.” That right there is pretty much the entire hard-luck story of “Losering” on one small piece of paper.

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Ripoffs are us

This is something I’ve ranted about before, and I get how tilting at this particular windmill does absolutely no good. Nevertheless, I just can’t help it. I really, truly hate it when I happen across things like this. Geez, “Junior Member impactOr,” whoever you are — if you’re gonna just steal it, can you at the very least not advertise what you’re doing?

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 4.52.01 PM

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No Depression falls off Sugar Mountain

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 1.38.19 PMBack during the band’s heyday, much of what I wrote about Ryan Adams, Caitlin Cary, Steve Grothmann and the rest of Whiskeytown originally appeared in the pages of No Depression magazine (remember magazines?). No Depression billed itself as “the alternative country (whatever that is) magazine”; and if you haven’t figured it out before now, yes, the reference at the top of this blog to “Losering” as “The official unauthorized Ryan Adams biography (whatever that is)” serves as both inside joke and cheeky little tip of the hat.

I was one of around a dozen contributing editors for No Depression, but the magazine’s primary editorial braintrust was Peter Blackstock and Grant Alden (two writers I very much hope will someday write books for our American Music Series). No Depression was a very cool magazine back in its day, covering the far-flung ins and outs of Americana music like no other publication. It had a great run over its 13-year existence, finally shutting down in 2008 because of the simultaneous and cacaclysmic decline of both the print and recorded-music industries. I still miss it, both as a reader and a writer. There’s more about the magazine’s origins, including its connection to various books I’ve written, here.

NDno1Post-print, No Depression lives on as a website that’s still actively covering the Americana universe (including a very nice “Losering” review, thank you very much), and it will be marking the magazine’s 20-year anniversary through the rest of 2015. No Depression’s first issue — Vol. 1, No. 1, weighing in at a grand total of 32 pages — came out in the fall of 1995, featuring Peter’s Son Volt cover story. I think that still stands as the definitive story about Son Volt, and Jay Farrar thought enough of it and the magazine to send birthday wishes all these years later.

That first issue also had a little piece by yours truly in the short-feature “Town & Country” section. Headlined “A short interview’s journey into hell,” it recounted the first time I ever interviewed Ryan. That story figures prominently into the preface of “Losering.” And for better or worse, the book probably would not exist if not for No Depression, so I’m grateful. Happy birthday, No Depression! Let’s close with a song from Ryan.

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