"I think about all the future songs we lost with the early deaths of Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, D Boon, Kurt Cobain, etc etc. I think there’s a fine line between paying homage to the music of the past and stubbornly and misguidedly resisting evolution."
Lance Davis: The Adios Lounge
Lance Davis is creator, writer, and ditch digger for The Adios Lounge, a music blog that connects the dots between country, R&B, punk, bluegrass, western swing, indie rock, and whatever other stylistic left turns make up rock 'n' roll's whore DNA. He lives in Los Angeles, grew up in Huntington Beach, matriculated at Chico State and the University of Alabama (Roll Tide), and lived in Seattle, Baton Rouge, and Austin. Lance has three daughters and a very patient fiancée. Lance wants to start publishing books, but has to go change a diaper and figure out how a Kindle works.
The Adios Lounge began in April 2008 when an old-school record collector came to terms with these new-school webs and tubes. The blog name comes from a Thelonious Monster song and some other faves include The Blasters, Superchunk, Grand Champeen, Sam Cooke, Glossary, Clarence White, The Sadies, Uncle Tupelo, Minutemen, Doug Sahm, and Roger Miller.
How important was music in your life? How does music affect your mood and inspiration?
Music is hardwired in my DNA. I doesn’t just affect my mood and inspiration, it affects EVERYTHING.
How started the thought of The Adios Lounge? How would you characterize the philosophy of site?
Actually, The Adios Lounge started in April 2008 as a way for me to deal with underemployment. I was substitute teaching and not fulfilled by it in the slightest and around that same time I was reading my buddy’s blog, Setting The Woods On Fire. He wrote about some of my favorite music: country, R&B, and classic rock ‘n’ roll. Not super in-depth or anything, but very cool hit-and-run pieces. The specific post that really birthed the Lounge was about the origins of country-rock, so I made a few comments, and Paul and I got to talking offline. I remember him suggesting starting my own blog, so there you go.
The tone and philosophy of The Adios Lounge hasn’t changed much in the 5-6 years I’ve been publishing it. I think I write about old-school punk more now than I did originally, but I just see that as another part of the same continuum. There are so many great American bands and musicians to write about, past and present, and it bothers me that people are still so obsessed by Dylan, Springsteen, [insert name of icon here], and whatever marginally interesting mainstream performer is currently occupying the public’s attention. I like writing about performers who are a little less well-known, but are raw, passionate, vital, regional or niche in appeal, and whose commercial peak was invariably short-lived. The music is almost always better and isn’t that what matters? Nothing against Dylan, some of his records are stunning in their genius. But, I find he’s more interesting as a foil to Doug Sahm or The Plugz. Neil Young said he was heading for the ditch because that’s where the more interesting people were. He was right, so that’s my focus at The Adios Lounge. I’m a ditch digger.
You are also known as an old-school record collector. When did your love for collecting records come about?
I think my love of collecting records was mostly borne out of commerce. When I was a kid in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the market was dominated by records. I had 8-tracks early on and later cassettes, but because there were mostly records, I bought records. Like many lovers of vinyl, I like the big artwork and tactile feel of records and my collection is slowly rebuilding after having to purge a good 90% in late 2009. I also like the sound of a record better, whether it’s tangibly better on my crappy stereo, who knows haha. Records rule. This is also a good time to advocate responsible vinyl retail practice. It’s 2014, all new vinyl should automatically come with a download card. This isn’t debatable.
What do you miss most nowadays from the music of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of music?
I miss performers more than music. I think about all the future songs we lost with the early deaths of Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, D Boon, Kurt Cobain, etc etc. I think there’s a fine line between paying homage to the music of the past and stubbornly and misguidedly resisting evolution. For example, I love a good honky tonk or bluegrass band, but I also love a band that can reference country and bluegrass without being hidebound to that tradition, be it Uncle Tupelo, The Gourds, Ween, or Neil Young himself.
What has made you laugh lately and what touched (emotionally) you from the music todays?
If you haven’t watched Glossary’s Christmas special, A Very Glossary Christmas, visit The Adios Lounge and go back 1-2 posts. Funny, heartfelt, goofy, and kind of an homage to Hee Haw or variety show
How has the music changed over the years? Do you believe in the existence of real “music” nowadays?
For the entirety of the 20th century, the music we heard was actively managed by entrenched corporate and extra-legal interests. These crooks ran the music business, using an equally entrenched legal apparatus to maintain the plantation effectively. Then, the internet happened. The industry’s erosion of power began in the 1990s as the internet began insinuating itself into American lives. Thus, two things happened. 1) Free downloads became a thing and 2) Access to great independent music outside the industry talons and from anywhere in the world also became a thing. By 2005, the music industry was a shell operation because it deserved to be. Artists deserve to get paid. Capitalist apparatchiks do not. The same automatons run the business now that ran it back then, there’s just fewer of them and they’re increasingly meaningless colonial governors.
That’s the business. Music itself is a different story, having evolved organically through this socioeconomic and cultural revolution. Frankly, there’s so much good music now, it’s just stupid. You just have to know where to look and how to listen. There’s a narrative that says that music is worse than ever, but anytime you hear someone say that, they’re making a comment about themselves, not music. THEY aren’t trying hard enough or refuse to evolve and that’s not music’s fault. Visit The Adios Lounge and read my review of 2013. There’s gotta be something in there you like. Or, maybe another blog is wired to your taste. There’s something new and quality out there for everyone, but you have to want new.
What are the lines that connect Leadbelly with Gene Vincent and continue to The 13th Floor Elevators and The Blasters?
X is the common thread. They covered Lead Belly’s “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes” on their 1982 masterpiece, Under The Big Black Sun. Ledbetter cut “Dancing” at one of his last recording sessions in 1948. X’s brilliant guitarist and arranger, Billy Zoom, actually played guitar with Gene Vincent in 1971-72. Both The Knitters and Roky Erickson appear on the Boys Don’t Cry soundtrack (1999), but I’m pretty sure X’s song, “Burning House Of Love” appears in the film itself. Roky, of course, was the frontman for The 13th Floor Elevators, while The Knitters are a roots collaboration featuring John Doe, Exene Cervenka, and D.J. Bonebrake of X and Dave Alvin of The Blasters. The Knitters happened because X and The Blasters had been playing together since 1980, a relationship that continues to this day.
Which incident of Rock n’ Roll history you‘d like to be captured and illustrated in a painting with you?
On July 18, 1970, The Stooges, MC5, and Funkadelic played together at WCFL's Big 10 Summer Music Festival at Soldier Field in Chicago. I'd like to commission Pedro Bell, infamous cover artist for Funkadelic – 1973’s Cosmic Slop through 1981’s Electric Spanking Of War Babies – to paint one of his hypersexual sci-fi psychedeliscapes to commemorate the event.
Let’s take a trip in a time machine. Where would you wanna go for a whole day and why?
For this question I quote Marty Stuart in the Nashville West liner notes:
“To have been a Renaissance Hillbilly in Hollywood in the 1960s would have been great for me. I could have hung out with Leo Fender, Buck Owens and Don Rich, Moon (Ralph Mooney), Merle (Haggard) and Roy Nichols. Gone to check out Wynn Stewart recording at Capitol or witnessed Johnny Cash, Joe Maphis, and Merle Travis terrorizing Tex Ritter. Cruised up Lankershim Boulevard to the Palomino with Nudie (Cohn) to catch James Burton burning it up with Ricky Nelson while anticipating the Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe, or Lester (Flatt) and Earl (Scruggs) bringing some bluegrass to the West. But there’s no doubt in my mind that when the sun went down, wherever Clarence White was playing, that’s where you would have found me.”
What from your memorabilia and things (books, records, photos etc.) would you put in a time capsule?
Rather than a time capsule, I’d like to donate the following items to the University of Fanboy Drunk Posting: Exile On Main Street on vinyl; Double Nickels On The Dime on white vinyl; Houses Of The Holy on 8-track; the Bo Diddley Chess Box on 3 CDs (partly for the music and partly because the packaging is so clunky and overbearing, it totally defines the era); Sir Douglas Quintet boxed set, a picture from the Viper Room taken on August 14, 1993, featuring Gibby Haynes, Johnny Depp, Evan Dando, Bob Forrest, Jim Jarmusch, and Shane MacGowan; Amazon gift card; broken mp3 player; 2 guitar picks; poster of May 14, 2004, covers night featuring Grand Champeen, Li’l Cap’n Travis, and Moonlight Towers; and a baby tee of the Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head that my daughter Lucinda wears.
What do you think was (and is) the relationship of rock ‘n’ roll culture with poetry and visual arts?
Tangential, occasionally enlightened, but usually insipid and uninspired. I’d rather the poetry be in the rhythm section and if a band can make me laugh with their video (Superchunk, Glossary), I’m sated.
What's the legacy of Doug Sahm?
One of the masters of American music and the king of Tex-Mexicana. A human jukebox who could integrate R&B, straight blues, honky tonk country, cajun, ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll, Hendrix, James Brown, and Spanglish in one set. Visit The Adios Lounge and enter “Doug Sahm Thanksgiving Jam” in the search box. You’ll thank me later.
How you would spend a day with Johnny Cash and Jack Kerouac?
Presumably under the influence of alcohol and pills. I hope we’re on our way to pick up Willie Nelson, Roger Miller, and George Jones for a guitar pull that Kerouac can later write about.
What would you say to Roy Buchanan?
I’d ask him about his resistance to pedals until late in his career. Insane to think that all those “bird noises,” as Roy Nichols called them, came from just his hands. But that kind of dedication isn’t an accident, it’s part of a philosophy of guitar playing. I’d like him to discuss that concept and some of the guitarists (or other musicians) who inspired that kind of playing.
What would you like to ask Sam Cooke?
For all his great songs and inimitable voice, I’d like Sam to discuss his recording philosophy, which Herb Alpert related in The Man And His Music compilation. Alpert said, "I'd like to give Sam Cooke a lot of credit. Once we were auditioning a very good-looking Caribbean man who played guitar. We listened for about 10 minutes and I thought he sounded great. Sam said to me, 'Turn your back on him and check him out for about 5 minutes.' I did and I felt it wasn't the same, it was weird. Then Sam said, 'People don't care if you're black or white, what you look like, where you come from. You're listening to a cold piece of wax in the record business and it either makes it or it doesn't.' I think of that, often, even today when I listen to a new group." I’ve always loved that story and it, too, has informed how I listen to music since I bought this comp way back in 1985. Ignore the visual spectacle, mythology, and hype, what does the music sound like? As a writer, my job is to filter out the noise and just focus on the sounds. If there’s magic, that’s where it is.
If Cobain, Sid, Janis and Hendrix were speaking seriously to us, what do you think they would tell us?
I think Cobain, Joplin, and Hendrix would be like, “Hey, I know we had our battles with drugs, but this kid Sid can’t hold his high. Can you distract him while we leave?”
Which historical music personalities would you like to meet?
Just to name a handful of dead musicians: Clarence White, Doug Sahm, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Jimi Hendrix, Roger Miller, D Boon, Rose Maddox, Otis Redding, and Joe Strummer.
Lance lives in Los Angeles, grew up in Huntington Beach, matriculated at Chico State and the University of Alabama (Roll Tide), and lived in Seattle, Baton Rouge, and Austin. Lance has three daughters and a very patient fiancée.
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