Peter Wolf Pt. II

I wrote a piece on J. Geils frontman and solo roots-rocker Peter Wolf that we posted yesterday.  Today, I came across a really good 9-minute interview he did last week on Boston TV.  Great stories about his new album, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, about Springsteen, and about the first concert Wolf ever saw. #jgeils @springsteen

Indiana Music: Dane Clark and Larry Crane team for an Americana Review

daneclarkOriginally written for NUVO – published December 19, 2012

As the engine the makes John Mellencamp’s band rumble, Dane Clark sits behind a drum kit, driving the roots-rock sound. With his own band and album, he stands squarely in front, with a guitar and directing his own take on the heartland rock sound.

Clark and his band will team with another Indiana rock and roller, as they are joined by Larry Crane’s band for a night of heartland rock on December 20 at the Bluebird in Bloomington.

“The seeds of the idea for this show came from a live acoustic show we did in the WTTS Sun King studio last summer with Larry and Jennie Devoe,” Clark says. “I’ve been thinking about doing an Americana Review-style show, and this will be a good way to start.

“We will run the show with both bands set up to save time, and I will do a couple songs [and] he will do a couple songs,” he says. We’ll sit in with each other’s band. We will do our own music, and so will he, and throw a few Mellencamp chestnuts in their too.”

New sounds, unexpectedly made

“I think I did intend to go deeper into the Americana steel guitar and dobro sound,” Clark says, as we talk about his new album. “Records don’t ever turn into the one you envision as you go through the process.”

daneclark_albumThat said, Clark’s Songs from the Hard Road resonates with splashes of radio country and Mellencamp-inspired Lonesome Jubilee porch sounds. It’s a record that solidly based in the sound of Middle America.

“You’ve got to be realistic in the music business,” Clark says. “Nobody buys music anymore. You write songs so you can sing, get a band and go out and play. I love music. I have a great band that can pull it off.

He knows even the big guys don’t have the same power.

“One has to realize the state of the music business in 2012. Bruce (Springsteen) can put out a record, and it doesn’t sell like it did 20 years ago. What we make is modern music for adults. I hope people find a song that radiates – a lyric with a spark of truth.”

daneclark2Clark, who started playing piano when he was very young before moving to guitar and drums, realized that he “wasn’t going to be Jimmy {age or Elton John” but that he “could play like Keith Moon and John Bonham.”

“A drummer in a live setting is steering the ship. He’s the engine. With my band, I trust my drummer to be that engine.”

“I hope we can crack a little bigger audience,” Clark says. “It’s more about a few degrees of success – working to get to the next level.”

Reconnections

One of the side trips Clark has taken with the record is a reconnection with the legendary late 1960s rock band Moby Grape. After being enthralled by the band’s debut album (“It was life changing for me,” he says) Clark had a chance – many years later – to meet guitarist Jerry Miller and do some recording and touring with the group.

Clark connected with Miller when he used his Mellencamp pass to get backstage at Pine Knob in Detroit in 2007 for a ’60s-based Summer of Love show. It has led to the new album’s closing track “Over It” featuring the band – a chance for Dane to finally get the group together for an album track.

“Anything bad that could have happened to the band, did,” Clark says, of their history. “They only got the name back two years ago. There have been a lot of mishaps, but it was a great thing; five guys, and all five wrote and all five could sing. They were overloaded with talent.

It’s a relationship to a band that Clark is especially proud of, and you can hear the warmth in his voice when he talks about the San Francisco rockers.

Sounds of home

“I don’t know if there is an Indiana sound,” Clark says, when I ask him if there is such a thing. Though I believe there is, I still want to hear what someone closer to the heartbeat has to say about it.

“Rock music doesn’t really exist as we knew it,” Clark says. “What happened with rock is it became country music: Bob Seger with a fiddle. When John started using a fiddle in the ’80s, and that would be country music now. My roots are Midwest influences. Anyone my age is influenced by The Stones, Dylan, Cash and Haggard.”

“I want my record to catch on with people who think country radio is too cheesy for their tastes,” he says. “I wanted to make a record that isn’t appealing to the lowest common denominator.”

With these shows this month, Clark – and the gutsy Telecaster-driven rock of Crane – will both get their chance to find that ground that exists between country and rock; a place both artists feel comfortable.

December 20
The Bluebird
Bloomington, Indiana
8:00pm
216 North Walnut Street (812) 336-3984.

HonkyTonk Prowler Reunion at the Melody Inn

Slim Hadley from The Punkin Holler Boys shot me an email about a Melody Inn show this Friday (Sept. 14) featuring a reunion of the Honky Tonk Prowlers (and a recreation of the Big Ol’ Cadillac album) plus the country rock of 19Clark25 and the Fabulous SlimTones.

So I found Slim, and we talked about the old band, what’s ahead for what he calls “real country music” and the inspiration for getting the bands together for one night of twangin’ and rowdy country music.

For a brief history lesson, we recall the Prowlers featured the singing and writing of Punkin Holler’s Ralph Ed Jeffers, and were an Americana/Roots/country and hillbilly punk-leaning band. The leader of the band, Jeffers, got the chance to work with another Indy legend, Frank Dean, on the Cadillac album.

“We took inspiration from Buck Owens, Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins and Dwight Yoakam”, Hadley says of the HTP band.  “This will be an evening of music akin to the above-mentioned as we will perform the complete Big Ol’ Cadillac album live for the first time in 20 years, as recorded by Ralph Ed Jeffers all those years ago.”

Rob Nichols: What’s the story of the Big Ol’ Cadillac album?
Slim Hadley: Ralph and (local singer/songwriter) Frank Dean had been wanting to work together. Frank had access to Monday Morning Studios and they took Ralph’s songs and a couple from Frank and created a narrative of an aspiring country singer going through the process of trying to make it big.

It could’ve been from 1962 or 1992 or 2012. It’s a timeless story of passion for one’s craft and the trials of getting to where one can do it. Or not getting there.

Indianapolis’ The Late Show regains power-pop mojo

This story was featured in NUVO in August.  Nice little interview piece I did with Don Main, who fronted The Late Show/Recordio/Rockhouse; essentially the same band, with different names.  He and the main lineup is back together and playing shows in Indianapolis.  I first saw them at a 150-person venue in Madison Indiana – I think it was 1989 or 1990 – so was nearing the end of their run.  Best band the club booked in the Electric Lady in the two or three years that I lived down there.  Also saw the Rockhouse version of the band, but my recollection was they were burned out by then, and the Rick Clayton Band (Late Show guitarist) was around in the ashes of the band separation, but not for long.  So it is good to hear they are back and power-popping…and working on a new album.

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The Late Show had a shot at national success.

In 1974, the band went to New York City and worked with producer Jack Douglas — known for his work with John Lennon, Aerosmith and, appropriately, The Knack — at the Record Plant. Major labels CBS and Epic offered them record deals.

The band, who created a potent mix of power pop vocals, guitars and reverberating drums, said no. They thought there were better offers to come. But, none came.

So why is their independent debut album Portable Pop now getting acclaim, more than 30 years after its original 1980 release? The band can thank the record label Trashy Creatures Records. They re-released the record in late May, and it picked up airplay on more than 70 radio stations of varying formats and dial positions.

The Late Show is playing a number of Indianapolis shows in 2012 and according to leader Don Main, prepping a new record. NUVO caught up with Main — who went on to own the Puccini’s restaurant chain — to talk about the albums, his other band and how the hell this all happened 40 years after The Late Show got together.

John Paul Keith brings a Booker T/Buddy Holly/Stones-y stew

John Paul Keith played a gig in Lafayette last weekend.  Here’s a piece written before the show – good stuff and a dude worth listening to if you like the rock and roll three different ways…

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His name is enough to get me interested.

John Paul Keith. Like two Beatles and one Rolling Stone.

Turns out he’s a singer/songwriter/guitarist from Memphis with an American rock and soul sound.

Where did the Booker T/Buddy Holly/Stonesy stew come from and why is he trekking to Lafayette, Indiana to play a late night, two-set show for free? He played on August 18 at Hunter’s Down Under in Lafayette.