As always, there are a number of projects in various stages of production at this moment, which I will attempt to outline. It’s possible that something is happening which I’ve forgotten.
We recently decided that we were tired of working on a release titled Shamanistic Pillow, which means it’s done. Notification was given through the few social media that we use that we were seeking a label. Nobody bit, which is fine since some of us wanted to release it from here. Sometimes we just wanna release stuff from here. The cover art is being scribbled in fits and starts. Expect that in the next month or so.
We continue to scour thrift stores and family members’ basements for a boombox with an eighth-inch input jack so we can transfer Sihk As A Brihk from digital file to cassette. We actually had one for a while, but then couldn’t figure out where the cassettes were. Gramma started nagging about her cd/tape player so we had to return it. The cassettes are still MIA. In an odd reversal, we had the cover art done for that one first, so maybe we’ll just make it available as a free download and offer the cassette covers for sale to anybody who wants to download the music, transfer it to cassette and then send us a buck for a piece of paper.
Last winter, we recorded a full-length piece with the working title Tohu Wa Bohu. The inspiration for the piece was the first half of Genesis 1:2 (please remember that we always and only use the King James Version when you go to look that up). It was an arduous process and riddled with doubt and insecurity until one day we listened to it discovered it was all we had ever wanted it to be and so much more. We are currently seeking a label to release it, preferably as a physical object before it inevitably becomes a free download.
The fine young fellows at HysM? in Italy are currently holding two shiny slabs of BDSR, The Shape Of Thy Kingdom Come and Entheogenocide. The Shape… is studio work and features a bit more turntable stuff than anything we’ve done since that one thing we did back in ’09 that had a lot of that. Entheogenocide is the BDSR version of stoner metal. That’s right, stoner metal. Both of those should hit the bricks before Xmas, so put ‘em on your list for Santa.
The same guys who did Super OM a few months back are putting out a mini-cd, Daevas From Nipples. We understand that will come out soonish or laterish.
The same guys who did From Pussys To Death And Back/Eternal Freakout and L’Origines Des Mondes are putting out a mini-cd, Time To Suck Yr Idols. We understand blah blah.
There’s a label someplace working on a four-way cassette split. BDSR is one of the bands. We sent about thirty minutes worth of shorter pieces that resemble songs. I have no idea who the other three bands are and I have long since forgotten when the label, the name of which escapes me at this moment, is going to release the damn thing. I think it’s taking a long time because there will be a booklet included, which reminds me that I am supposed to do a booklet for another four-way cassette with this label, which I haven’t started. The same vague entity also has a track we submitted for a pro-marihuana-legalization compilation which will come out some day.
We have finished our part of a split cassette with Distant Trains, burned it to cd-r and plan on getting around to mailing it to the label as soon as we remember to do so.
We have finished our part of a split cassette with Medicine Calf and will burn it to cd-r and stick it in my messenger bag with the Distant Trains thing and forget to mail it as soon as we hear back from the label that they do still exist.
The Theatre Of Infernal Music is still sitting there, patiently waiting to be released. The plan is to send that one to a label that has released several downloads and let them handle it as they see fit. Someone should come up with a cover for that. Volunteers?
A few months back, this Espresso Shaman was digging through the musty LP’s in the back of a thriftstore looking for ‘80’s hair-metal records which always fetch a good price from hipsters, and found a battered copy of Let’s Dance The Polka by Gene Mitchko & His Band. The cover art features people in German-looking traditional get-ups presumably dancing the polka. One woman’s skirts are flying up, allowing a glimpse of her utterly naked ass. The label that released it is Family Records. No date to be found, but I’d guess it came out late ‘50’s/early ‘60’s. Seriously, her ass is right there on the cover. It’s not a great ass, but it is naked. The reason I mention it is that some reviewer in The Wire the month before this stunning long-player was found observed that all traditional forms of music are respected except polka, which is universally reviled and mocked. All of this collided in the collective BDSR-brain and another ridiculous and unnecessary concept came into being, to wit: an extreme noise release sourced entirely from one polka album with a naked ass on the cover, titled, for no fucking reason whatsoever, 666th Century Schizoid Shaman. We at BDSR never allow concepts that ludicrous and uncalled-for to slip by. 666th Century… is well-begun and may possibly be made available by a net label up in DC. Anyone who knows anything about Gene Mitchko & His Band, Let’s Dance The Polka or the ass on the cover, please get in touch. Online searches reveal nothing.
A recent show recording will be extended, overdubbed and thoroughly fucked up until a full-length release is obtained. The working title is Sweetheart Of The Ashvamedha. The working title is almost always the title, though in this case we will have to put the proper accents and such on “Ashvamedha”. It really would be awesome to have that come out with letterpress on chipboard covers, but it probably won’t happen.
After establishing a reputation for full-length cd’s consisting of one or two tracks, we have begun a project, The Hero With A Thousand Feces, which will have no tracks longer than one minute. At this writing, five are done and one more is almost there. Not coming out soon.
It seems likely that the three cd’s released by A Beard Of Snails, Hymn To The Beast With Two Backs, Rangda Electric and Vodou Chile will be released by ABOS as a box set – our first – titled Hell Hath No Fury. ABOS is shifting their focus away from whatever it is BDSR does and we’re sorta sad about that because they released some beautiful stuff for us, but then they decided to do this box and that’s awesome.
I think that’s all the BDSR projects floating. All this is above and beyond jobs, spirit journeys, visual art – this writer has an art show at Smith House in Harrisonburg, VA in August – trips to the woods and spending as much time as possible with the little heathen who has sprouted a couple inches this summer. Plus reading and research, hanging out with ne’er-do-wells, picking up extra odd jobs, participating in a local artists’ collective which does collaborative paintings in public places a couple times a month and sneaking around the backside of this woman whose pants I’m trying to get in. It’s a full life, one which I am quite happy to say “yes” to, which is part of what BDSR is all about. Saying “yes” to life. When you say “yes” to life, life says “yes” back and then things start to happen that you couldn’t’ve thought of. Opportunities fall into your lap. Ideas just fly into your head, knowing you’ll figure out a way to make them reality. You won’t get rich – that’s an assurance, not a caveat – and you’ll have everything you need exactly when you need it.
BDSR, The Big Drum In The Sky Religion, is all about saying “yes” to life. And ass. Say “yes” to naked polka ass.
Today was 90° in the shade. The Spotted Opossum and I have been hitting the city pool a lot recently, which isn’t bad. She enjoys clinging to my arm and “swimming” around, which is good practice for when she starts real swimming lessons next month and there’s a kiddie pool which gives her the opportunity to splash around with other kids while I ogle women. But I am not really a fan of pools in general so today we went out to Rivenrock Park in the George Washington National Forest.
Our first stop was “where the road goes across”, a cement slab through the river that Harrisonburg city workers drive across when they have to go pull rabbit carcasses out of the pipes that bring us our drinking water. It’s a good place for little people to run around in a few inches of water and splash each other. There was a small group there: a woman in her 30’s and four kids, including three West Virginia Lolitas. The two older girls didn’t look over sixteen, but one had a lip piercing and the other had a tramp stamp. We helped them build some small dams and then wandered down to the area we call the “swimming hole”, where we reinforced another dam until the Spotted Opossum was tired and edging up on cranky.
Building dams in creeks is something I can’t imagine outgrowing. When I see a body of clear, flowing water, I immediately start planning how to block it up. I’m a big fan of earthworks in general, but dams constructed out of well-placed river rocks are far and away my favorite. For the amount of muscle power and energy that I will happily expend on a dam that will be knocked over the next time a hard rain swells the creek, I would expect no less than $12 an hour, which is actually something I really hate about the capitalist system. By linking work with money, capitalism strips the joy out of working which means we don’t love our jobs even though they are technically more constructive than building dams in creeks out in the national forest. Fuck a bunch of capitalism.
Anyway, before we headed back to town, we got a feather out of the car to lay on the grave of the blind, deaf, spotted dog who died last year and who is buried out back of Rivenrock. I carried the grrrl to the gravesite; she carried the feather. I was a little cautious as we approached the rotting log that serves as a marker because I knew that I didn’t bury Trudy deep and there was a good chance some critter had been at her. That was a deliberate choice on my part. I want to be returned to the ecosystem when I die and I wanted my dog to be the same, even to the point of having her feed a raccoon or some other varmint. I wasn’t sure how the grrrl would feel about it. In the event, she was more interested in finding something else that we could leave on the old dog’s final resting spot because she had decided she wanted to keep the feather. She found a little mushroom which fit the bill. We paused a moment and then I picked her up, using my other hand to pick up a bone that was laying on the ground. I was planning on incorporating the bone and whatever psychic energy it might possess into my BDSR/Espresso Shaman gear, but the Opossum spotted it and insisted that we leave the bone on Trudy’s grave because dogs like to play with bones.
To clarify, my daughter thought that the old dead dog would enjoy chewing on her own leg bone. I would have been more amazed by this if the grrrl hadn’t demonstrated so clearly and repeatedly that she is a very old soul and a dyed in the wool pagan. Feeding the dead their own flesh and bones is classic pagan thinking. The Ainu, in Hokkaido, have been ritually feeding sacrificed cave bears their own flesh for millennia. It’s perfect death-is-somehow-not-death-style thinking. Death is a transformation or crossing-over. It is no more an end than if we had driven another twenty miles and crossed over into WVA. The grrrl wasn’t aware of all that of course. She knows that bones can occasionally be found in the woods and that her Daddy frequently brings them home. She did not put two and two together and realize that a bone near Trudy’s grave was almost definitely a Trudy-bone that got pulled up by a carrion-eater. To her it was just a bone. Still, she is a savvy little person and she has displayed some rather complex thinking regarding death. I don’t know where she got the idea that the dead cross over a rainbow bridge to get to the other side, but she knows that’s what happens. She seems to be a bit unclear as to what happens after that, but who isn’t? I pretty much affirm all of her speculations because I don’t know either, which leaves us with the soul crossing the rainbow bridge to get to the place where God is, which is really everywhere, but sometimes people and dogs get born into this world again, possibly as people or dogs again, but also possibly as something else, we’re not really sure. Today, she was working on the possibility that she would have a baby when she grows up, “like when I’m thirteen”, and that baby might actually be Trudy in baby form. I avoided mentioning my hope that she will put off parenthood a while longer than that and simply agreed that it could happen. Being absolutely ignorant of what happens to the soul after it leaves the meat-carriage, I can’t tell her that it couldn’t.
The only thing that I do strongly want to communicate to the sprat is that death is nothing to be afraid of. Even if nothing happens, even we vanish like the flame when the candle is blown out, that is nothing to fear. I don’t bother contemplating that possibility, but it should be acknowledged.
There are piles of advice-oracles for parents. When the Spotted Opossum was still in the cooker, I started ready them when I came across them, just to see what they had to say. They’re pretty consistent about not getting too worried about anything, but the general tone seems to be that when your kid starts asking about death, you just set ‘em down and have a talk. Tell ‘em how it is, give ‘em a cookie and send ‘em into the other room to watch Dora The Explorer. I have yet to read an advice-for-parents article that says “You live with this kid. You’re going to be talking about death and sex and everything else for years to come. You’re not going to solve it all in one conversation so don’t try”, which is really how it is. Christ, on the way back to town the wee grrrl asked me why boys’ bathing suits were only the bottom part. Try explaining that to a four-year-old. I did the best I could to explain that it’s really an almost arbitrary decision that our culture collectively made many years ago and that there are other cultures where women are not expected to cover their breasts, but that the rule about covering the bottom half is pretty much universal.
“What are ‘breasts’?”
“Daddy! Don’t say that! That’s because that’s embarrassing for me if you say ‘Boobies’.”
I said that I would not say that word again. She saw a horse out the side window and from then on we were mostly pointing out animals. She wanted to know what animals I ate when I used to eat animals before she was born. She was pretty impressed with the fact that I ate snails, frogs, snakes and a turtle. The idea that anyone would eat bear was baffling. She said that she would eat deer, given the chance, but she was a little shocked to learn that I had eaten rabbit.
As we passed the Unitarian-Universalist church, she waved and shouted “Hi, little red church! We’ll see you on Sunday!”
I’ve only just barely begun to discuss death and sex with my daughter. Like everything else, those conversations will evolve and change as our understandings of those subjects evolve and change.
It is entirely possible that I’ll go out to Rivenrock this weekend when the grrrl is with her Mommy. There’s a woman who I’ve been thinking about a bit lately and I may manage to get her out to the woods for a hike and a dip in the creek. What’s in her pants is not my only concern, not even the main one, but I have given some little thought to all that. If I go out there, I will certainly go back to Trudy’s grave to stand for a few minutes. She was a good dog and a good friend – I got her name tattooed on my arm way back when she was still spry as a pup and could see out of both eyes. Maybe I’ll snag that leg bone to hang from my banjo or maybe I’ll leave it there for Trudy to gnaw on. I can decide that when I get there.
Way, long ago, in the middle of the Reagan years, I was discovering that there was a shitload of music in the world that I had not previously been aware of. It was exciting, but also kinda scary, because delving into the underground meant separating myself from the values and aesthetics I’d grown up with as well as alienating myself from most of my peers. I knew some kids who were into some of what I was digging – Talking Heads, Sex Pistols, the Clash – but a lot of what I was discovering was simply beyond the pale as far as my corner of the conservative, rural South was concerned. Wasn’t nobody at my high school into Sonic Youth, Live Skull or Einsturzende Neubauten.
There was a record shop in Harrisonburg, on Liberty Street, where the county jail is now. I would go there sometimes to spend my lawn-mowing and dish-washing money on vinyl. I never had much money and was always worried about blowing $7.99 on a dud. One day, flipping through a bin, I found Bongwater’s Double Bummer. I’d never heard of Bongwater. The cover art – a decayed doll on the front, a Hindu idol on the back – creeped me out. I stood there for some time, trying to figure out the mixture of conflicting emotions evoked by this strange album. The record store guy was no help. I reluctantly put Double Bummer back and left.
That night I was suddenly seized by an irresistible urge to own that fucking album. The creepy cover art, the drug reference, the potentially dangerous contents, all became overwhelmingly desirable. I went back the next day, afraid that someone else might have purchased Double Bummer, that it might have slipped from my fingers. He who hesitates is lost.
It was still there. I got it. It seems weird now that something as benign as an album could have caused such anxiety and fervor in my sixteen-year-old self, but such is the nature of sixteen-year-olds.
Double Bummer was and is an awesome record. I no longer have that vinyl copy – my massive record collection fell victim to my poverty along the way – but I do still enjoy Bongwater. I discovered Roky Erickson via Bongwater’s cover of “You Don’t Love Me Yet”, a song which still has the power to make me dewy-eyed. I somehow identified with Ann Magnuson’s Bongwater persona – the self-centered, neurotic urban socialite with a seedy past, lousy with drug abuse and unbridled sluttery that perhaps wasn’t really in the past, being myself a self-centered, neurotic rural antisocialite whose lousy drug abuse definitely wasn’t a past endeavor and who had little hope of ever attaining to anything like sluttery. I took it as somehow a vindication that she hailed from some godforsaken holler in West Virginia. I got all Bongwater’s albums as they were released and found much to love on every one.
The last track on The Power Of Pussy, “Folk Song”, has the refrain “Joseph Campbell gave me hope and now I have been saved”. There’s a mention in there of The Power Of Myth, which obviously inspired the album’s title. I didn’t know who Campbell was, but I understood that he meant something to An Magnuson and I was vaguely curious about him.
Years went by and my relationship with Bongwater continued, as my relationship with bongwater became more and more intense. My life spiraled out of control. Things went from not so great to really fuckin’ shitty. Early in ’97, I read an article about how easy it was to abuse the medical marijuana program in California. Anyone who had any one of a huge list of ailments, including unipolar depression, could obtain legal marijuana.
I had been diagnosed with unipolar depression. A cartoon lightbulb appeared over my head. If I went to California, I would be able to get on the medical marijuana program and stay high on high quality, legal weed. I knew a few people who were living in the Bay Area, all of whom would let me crash with them for a while, all of whom would know all about the medical marijuana program and all of whom would certainly be able to set me up with connections for all the other drugs that I was on which were not yet approved for medical use in California, but which would surely be better quality there. I somehow managed to convince my girlfriend, who was insane, that we should quit our jobs, load up the rolling total that I was driving and head out west.
She wanted to visit her mom in Maryland before we rode off into the sunset, so we spent a week in Cumberland, fucking, fighting and eating her mom’s food. I smoked a lot of pot out behind the goat barn. Maybe she smoked some pot too. I don’t remember. At some point, we were looking through her mom’s video cassettes and found The Power Of Myth, which her mom had recorded from PBS. We watched it, thought it was cool, fucked on the floor and smoked some pot.
The trip to California was a bad idea. ‘Nuff said.
February, ’98, I was back in Virginia, homeless, put off, put down, strung out and stoned. The girlfriend had split, gone to live with her mom. Some guys had broken one of my fingers – left forefinger and actually they dislocated a joint. I’d been trying to kick the booze &c. for a few months but couldn’t endure the withdrawals. I managed to get myself a bed in a state-funded twenty-eight-day rehab where it was suggested that I adopt a spiritual way of life. I was open to the idea, having been thoroughly beaten into submission by chemicals, but had no idea where to start. There were more pressing issues: finding a place to live, food to eat and a job. The album collection got sold during that time.
It took me a few months to get around to really beginning to develop a spirituality. I started that process by checking out The Power Of Myth. In that series of interviews, Campbell comes across as bubbling over with joie de vivre. The guy was eighty-three or so and knew that he was not long for the world. He mentions it in the series. The fact that he was near the end of his span didn’t seem to bother him at all. I wanted that. I wanted to be so enamored with the process of living that death held no fear. My spiritual life started then. In the years since, I’ve read just about everything Smokin’ Joe had a hand in writing and followed up many of his sources. Campbell taught me how to read myth. I remain forever in his debt.
The point of all this is that a decision I made in ’86 had a profound impact on my life. Bongwater led me to Joseph Campbell who led me to mythology which has become the center of my life and the foundation of all my creative endeavors certainly including BDSR. Actually, I shouldn’t say it was a decision I made; it was more like a decision that was made for me by some unknown force. I’ve had this experience repeatedly over the years. At times, I have resisted or refused to follow the guidance of strange urges and disembodied voices, but that never worked out well. In a few instances, I thought that I’d been wrong to heed the call of the intangible, but it always turned out well in the long run. It has never turned out the way I expected it would. When I enrolled in community college at the age of thirty-six, I expected to graduate and get a job in the mental health field. Instead, I graduated with a brand new baby that my classes had thoroughly prepared me for. I also got the idea and name of The Big Drum In The Sky Religion at Blue Ridge Community College. I have no intention of ever getting a job in the field I studied, but my Associate’s Degree does qualify me for guaranteed acceptance into any state college in Virginia, so I may use that to get a Bachelor’s in comparative religion, which would hardly lead to financial success, but I’m not really interested in big bucks anyway.
I should stress the importance of learning to the difference between following the directions of unseen forces and self-justification. Before I kicked the habits and started getting effective treatment for my emotional/mental problems, I heard voices frequently and it’s a dang good thing I didn’t do what they told me to do. It is very easy to delude oneself into believing that crazy ideas are somehow not only not crazy, but divinely inspired. Many of the ideas that I’ve followed seemed crazy at the time – becoming a father at forty? – but turned out to be the best things I could’ve done.
Exposure to the myths of the world’s religions has opened my consciousness. I am now able to perceive the guidance of the unknown powers more easily. This is part of what myths are supposed to do – to increase our awareness and appreciation of the world we live in and the world(s) behind/below/above.
I actually found Ann Magnuson on a social media site a couple years ago. I was at that point working on a project which had a sample from Bongwater’s “Obscene And Pornographic Art” and I wondered what she was up to. I sent her a brief email about how Bongwater had played a role in my spiritual development. She responded. It was nice to be able to tell her that. Smokin’ Joe died a year or so after filming The Power Of Myth, the same year I graduated from high school. Maybe he’s someplace now and knows how he affected my life. I hope he doesn’t mind that I refer to him as Smokin’ Joe.
I haven’t done many interviews for this band and the ones I have done have not included the dread(ed/ful) question about my influences, but it’s such a common question that it’s bound to happen eventually, so I’m just gonna go ahead and address it now.
Nothing. Or everything. Actually, it’s more accurate to say a little bit of both.
The whole thing doesn’t really matter or make sense to me. I have never intended to mimic any band or musician, never thought “I wanna be in a band that sounds like (some other band)”, never gone out of my way to sound like anybody. I have used known bands as comparisons to convey an idea- I wrote about my first band, the Impediments, here once and said “I wanted to sound like the Replacements getting drunk and covering Sonic Youth” or words to that effect, but that was me attempting to explain the sound I was after twenty-odd years later. I didn’t say that at the time.
I have, at times, thought that what I was doing at that moment seemed like a combination of other bands. There’s one BDSR title that I thought sounded like a mix of Pussy Galore and Acid Mothers Temple, but only kinda because that combination would actually sound like the Royal Trux magnum opus Twin Infinitives, not like the skuzzy, fuzzy slab I came up with. More than one person has mentioned what they thought was an Acid Mothers Temple influence, which I don’t see at all unless it’s just the frenzied and over-long guitar attack. Actually, AMT guitarist/frontman Makoto Kawabata is 100X the guitar-slinger I am. I’d give my hands to be able to play guitar like that yellow dwarf star. Furthermore, I was overdoing guitar shred before I heard AMT – part of what I like about them is that they do what I naturally and independently did, but they do it better. That’s true of a lot of bands that I like – I was doing something and then discovered somebody else who was doing almost the same thing so I started listening to them more.
Of course, I’ve used other people’s riffs and made some attempt to sound like them and sometimes it works. More often, the end result sounds nothing like the original which is why no one has ever mentioned the Black Sabbath, Rivieras and/or Norman Greenbaum riffs buried in some tracks. Some may assume that my use of a riff – played or sampled – indicates my fondness for the musician who wrote it. Nope. Not necessarily. I have and will use material by people I like, don’t like, don’t care about one way or another whenever it suits my need. Obviously though, I have to be familiar with music before I can think to steal it. And I am more likely to use stuff I dig.
I’ve been hearing music for forty-four years. I’ve been soaking it up. It all exists in my grey matter somehow. I could run this thing to over 2000 words just by listing the bands and musicians I’m familiar with off the top of my head, but I’m not going to because it seems somewhat pointless. There have been some noteworthy musical moments.
When I was fifteen, I heard the Sex Pistols and it blew my mind. After “Holidays In The Sun”, I knew things had changed. I didn’t become a punk, though. What the Sex Pistols showed me was that there were worlds of music that I’d never heard and that all I had to do to find them was to dig just under the surface. Within months, I’d found Black Flag, the Velvet Underground, Camper Van Beethoven, Sonic Youth, Hüsker Dü, R.E.M., Einstürzende Neubauten, Christ only knows what else. Free jazz, extreme noise, old-time country, country blues, grebo and all the rest came later.
Bongwater and Gaye Bykers On Acid maybe opened my eyes some to the possibilities of sampling. Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music certainly impressed me with its uncompromising commitment to a ridiculous idea – anybody familiar with the BDSR catalog should be able to name at least one thing there that shows similar determination. Albert Ayler incorporated well-known melodies and riffs into his free-form freakouts, which seems like an obvious thing to do, but which blew minds and heated tempers in the late ‘60’s free jazz scene.
I listen to a lot of world music and old American folk stuff. I’m sure that stuff has wormed into my brain and somehow slips out, but I don’t hear it in BDSR. Actually, there are some Bukka White and Uncle Dave Macon samples on some things and an unreleased cover of Charlie Patton’s “I’m Goin’ Home”, but those don’t sound anything like the original works.
Then, there’s also the nonmusical influences. I was a visual artist before I started working with sound. Recently, I started focusing on ink/watercolor work, but for years I was known around the various local art venues as a collage artist. Collage certainly figures in BDSR. I’m just as incapable of citing influences in the visual arts as in the musical, but I really dig a wide range of styles there as well. Albrect Durer was fucking great. Norman Rockwell, Nick Blinko, Henry Darger, Hieronymus Bosch, Vincent Van Gogh, Jackson Pollack. I’m not a huge fan of surrealism or modernism, but I love dada and fluxus. None of those artists or movements are apparent in my work, but I’m sure they all influenced both my visual and musical works.
The various religions of the world have shaped me as a human being and changed my life trajectory so they can’t be counted out as far as influences are concerned. The drugs I took and the fact that I don’t anymore played a part. The women who convinced me that I’d be happier being single and spending my evenings recording, mixing, drawing and painting must be influences. Coffee – black blood – has made it all possible, but I guess certain selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors deserve credit, too.
There’s also the fact that I work with other people and welcome their input. I’m going to be doing BDSR for a long time; I’ll have plenty of opportunity to indulge my quirks and foibles, so it makes sense to me to exploit those of my cohorts while they’re around. I read a review of a show recently that compared BDSR to Bitch’s Brew-era Miles Davis. It was an old review that I just found out about. I think I had the trumpet for that show and two of the people I was playing with then – Love Buzzard and JuJu “Dallas” Sweetlime – had jazzy backgrounds, so I could kinda sorta maybe see how someone with not much knowledge about jazz could get Bitch’s Brew from it, but not really. Ascension, maybe, but not Bitch’s Brew. I’ve never really dug Miles much. I really enjoyed the jazzish elements Love and “Dallas” brought to the mix, but they’ve departed for greener pastures. The people I expect to play at the house show we’ve got next week are not jazzy. Even if I take the trumpet – I will – it won’t be comparable to Bitch’s Brew. In all honesty, I doubt that that performance really sounded Milesy; the guy who wrote that had probably been listening to Bitch’s Brew and it was the first thing he thought of. I suspect that happens frequently. Certainly, that would explain how/why BDSR gets compared to bands that I never heard of or at least never really listened to. It is quite fine with me if reviewers compare BDSR to other bands. That is an almost necessary tool for describing a band and I appreciate it when people project their own tastes, values and whatever onto my artistic products, musical or visual.
There’s also the fact that I read somewhat voraciously about experimental music et al. and I can be interested in a band’s process and start to think along those lines without ever hearing that band. I’ve read about numerous bands that fit the basic description of BDSR: improvisational, shambolic, chaotic, with a semi-open membership policy. There have been countless such bands over the years, but most of them managed to avoid being recorded and nobody ever heard of the few that did. I’ve heard a few of those off-beat, free-form combos –Amon Düül, Anima Sound, Taj Mahal Travelers, No-Neck Blues Band – but many, many more I’ve only read about. One band that I can see people comparing BDSR to is the Residents, a band I've read numerous articles about and for whom I have great respect and admiration, but whose music I've somehow never gotten around to listening to.
So, what it comes down to is: I don’t plan on citing influences. There are by far too many individuals, organizations, entities and avatars behind the scenes and in the woodwork which have and will influenced the progression of BDSR for me to suss out any one or few for special mention and I am loathe to do so.
Besides, if I was to make a statement like “The Big Drum In The Sky Religion is my own attempt to channel the wonderful sounds of Raymond Scott”, everyone would know immediately how far short of the mark I’ve fallen and that would be embarrassing.
Brown Hat the Espresso Shaman
The pun is always intended.