Those of you who’ve been reading this weblog for more than just a couple of years may remember our coverage of Adam Fiorenza’s documentary on FZ’s Cucamonga days, aptly titled “Freak Out In Cucamonga”, featuring interviews with the likes of Paul Buff (PAL Studios), Dick Barber, Jim “Motorhead” Sherwood, Don Preston, Roy Estrada, and Weird Al Yancovic. Although at the time, seven years ago no less, this project had gained traction and interest, it sort of withered away and went into hibernation. Here’s the initial trailer, with artwork from Sharleena and me:
Having [re]discovered this rather sublime trailer on my hard disk drive just a week ago, I had to email Adam to find out if the project is still en route in some way, making its way to an official release.
Recorded prior to Jimmy’s passing from cancer in 2008, The Jimmy Carl Black Story is a double CD from Jon Larsen‘s label, Zonic Entertainment/Hot Club Records. Joined by Zappa alumni Tommy Mars (keyboards), along with Knut Reiersrud (guitar/harmonica), Ola Kvernberg (violin), Rob Waring (marimba) and Jon Larsen (guitar) — the first CD is “Part One: The Surrealistic Space Odyssey”, one hour of music inspired by Jimmy’s life:
The music is groove based R&B, laidback spacerock, and zappaesque jazz/rock, and even with some glimpses of Django. Here is also the 20 minutes adventure of Capt. Zurcon and his crew onboard the Spaceship BigEar III, on their way to the red planet Mars, and their problems with the sexually frustrated Martian (the Guacamole Queen), the mutant fromage, and a lurking whale (depicted on the cover).
The second disc is “Part Two: “The Rockumentary”, an 80 minute documentary about the “Indian of the group”. We hear about Jimmy’s start at the reservation, growing up in Texas with a racist father, The Soul Giants, Frank Zappa, The Mothers of Invention, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, mafia connections, and years of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, but also moving stories from a long, and unusual life in music. Jimmy Carl Black is the born storyteller. An intriguing and unique addition to the oral history of rock music, with an insider’s view of life in the “Mothers”. Jimmy’s stories have a measured, thinking-out-loud quality to them as he remembers details and clarifies contradictions among seemingly muddled recollections. A must have in any Mothers of Invention collection.
Jimmy Carl Black has always held a special place among fans of the original Mothers, myself included. Jimmy might not have been the most successful of musicians, yet he always managed to live the life of a true troubadour. In his own words: “I’m famous, but I don’t have a pot to piss in,” he was fond of saying.
Although famous for his avant-garde work with Zappa, he was really more of a roots musician and worked extensively in blues, Tex-Mex, and country-rock. He came from a generation of musicians for whom working in a rock & roll band meant playing for strippers, four or five sets per night with more than one version of “Wooly Bully.”
For Black, being impoverished wasn’t just a private matter. His former boss, Zappa, had recorded band meetings and arguments, inevitably about money and the lack of it, and had edited these spoken word bits into several Mothers releases. But no matter how hard times became, Black always remained involved in some kind of musical project … He moved around the Western United States, almost always having to work at some job other than music in order to survive and support his five children.
Always an inspiration, Jimmy’s life seemed as deeply rooted as the blues he sang and played so well.
The following excerpts from The Jimmy Carl Black Story:
Hi Boys And Girls, I’m Jimmy Carl Black
California In 1964-In Walked Roy Estrada-The Soul Giants
Then We Went To Hawaii-LSD
Back To L.A-Frenchy’s A Go-Go-The Original Suzy Creamcheeze
New York City-Absolutely Free-Off-Off-Broadway At The Garrick Theatre
Miami Pop Festival-Freak Out at the Cast Away Hotel-Arthur Brown
Note: if we are infringing on anyone’s copyright, contact KUR and we’ll remove the offending material.
…as played by Sting and Edin Karamazov. You might know the CD, but recently I’ve found a fine DVD, a documentary on the music of the late composer John Dowland (1563-1626), with some opinions by two music scholars, lute player Edin Karamazov and singer Sting, and a short concerette part of wich can be seen above. A nice way to remember a musician, and to make his music alive.
Part two of the concerette above is here (oh yes, I happen to like the building as well: St. Luke, London).
At the height of popularity of the Bush administration (huh?) — the federal government entrapped and subsequently imprisoned Tommy Chong. Josh Gilbert began documenting the federal case against his long time friend, for the terrible crime of selling bongs. This film (broken down here into four clips) examines the personal effects on Tommy, the motivations and tactics of the politicized Justice Department under George Bush, set against the back drop of the War on Drugs and the legal issues involved.
Listening to Jones’ radio show, followed by Gilbert’s film, one can easily see how one can become a target of a vengeful government bent on teaching someone a very public lesson. Just imagine, if the U.S. Federal government could view Cheech & Chong’s “Up In Smoke” as a threat, how might they have viewed Frank Zappa’s “Pygmy Twylyte/ Dummy Up” (from WSTM-FM’s ‘FZ as DJ’ broadcast, 21 Nov 1974) and treated him if he were alive post 9/11:
Barry, our most kind and benevolent webmaster, posted this seven part interview in July, 2008. However, when I sought it out both here at KUR and on the web, I came head-on to many dead links. Seems as though certain parties, which shall go nameless, have been quite busy on YouTube having particular Zappa-related material removed (It seems to me that it won’t be too long when finding anything Zappa-related on YouTube will be either (a) impossible, or (b) costly).
The total interview runs about an hour and covers music politics and popular culture from 1950s through 1990. This interview was never released. It was recorded in 3 segments 1990 in LA, but never completed as a final project. Intended to be kind of retrospect of what happened to the personal growth and idealism of 60′s as it whitewashed into the self indulgence of the 70s and 80s and the corporatism of America. It was never completed upon his death.
Fortunately, I was able to track down live links to Zappa’s Lost Interview. “Part 1: Early Influences” and “Part 2: McCarthy, Elvis & Racism” are above, respectively. The rest are as follows:
Sam Dunn, a 30-year-old anthropologist and lifelong metal fan, embarks on a trip into the heart of heavy metal in Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey. His mission is to figure out why metal music is consistently stereotyped, dismissed and condemned, even while the tribe that loves it stubbornly holds its ground – spreading the word, keeping the faith, and adopting styles and attitudes that go way beyond the music. Dunn visits heavy metal landmarks as far flung as L.A.’s Sunset Strip, the dirty streets of Birmingham, and the dark forests of Norway. Along the way, Dunn explores metal’s obsession with sex, religion, violence and death, meets his heroes, and discovers some things about the culture that even he can’t defend. Part social document, part celebration of a misunderstood art form, this documentary is a window into a culture that’s far more complex than it seems.
Sam Dunn holds a BA in anthropology and history and an MA in social anthropology from York University.
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