Jonathan Richman founded the Modern Lovers in the early 1970s and, as one of the most influential underground musicians of his time, has sometimes been referred to as the "goddfather of punk." Joan Jett, Iggy Pop, Sixousie and the Banshees and Echo and the Bunnymen have all covered Richman’s songs and rapper M.I.A. sampled one of his most famous tunes, “Roadrunner.”
When I listen to music I often determine its quality by how it will do as a soundtrack for being on the highway. Maybe that's because we're in America and, specifically in Montana, where you can drive your car for long stretches and that's what feels like freedom, man. "Roadrunner" is the quintessential road tune. It is literally about listening to the radio and smelling the thunder in the air on the highway. It's punk-rock liberation. Also, the line "I'm in love with rock and roll and I'll be out all night," just seems like the perfect eff-you to societal responsibilities.
Richman is super funny—listen to his banter between songs and you know he doesn't take himself (punk rock) seriously. He and Tommy Larkins, who joins him on drums for his show tonight, played the role of Greek chorus narrators in There's Something About Mary in 1998, plus he showed up in the Farrelly Brother's Kingpin.
If you don't know much about Richman know this: He has influenced and inspired a whole slew of bands you are definitely familiar with (unless you have never heard of music before.) Violent Femmes, Weezer, They Might Be Giants, Frank Black, and on and on. If you go see a show this year, you might think about this one being THE ONE. It's a rarity that such a music giant will be playing in an intimate space in our little valley. It might not happen again anytime soon, if ever.
Jonathan Richman plays the ZACC, with Tommy Larkins on drums, at 7 PM sharp tonight, Thu., June 26. All Ages. $15. Advance tickets at Rockin Rudy's and 1111presents.com.
The average person probably thinks of Hunter S. Thompson as played by Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: a partly bald guy in sunset aviators smoking a Dunhill cigarette out of a holder, high on LSD and drunk on Wild Turkey. Easily forgotten is the young, intrepid reporter Thompson was in the 1960s when he worked for a year covering South American politics for the National Observer.
In The Footloose American: Following the Hunter S. Thompson Trail Across South America, author and University of Montana graduate Brian Kevin travels to South America to discover the greenhorn Thompson, before he was the well-known (and well-caricatured) gonzo journalist and counterculture hero. Kevin relies on old letters written by Thompson (published in the 1997 collection The Proud Highway), as well as early newspaper articles Thompson wrote while he was traveling through South America. Kevin’s own six months of adventures follow the path from Panama down through the Andes to Argentina and up through Brazil. He begins the book with, “I was tearing across the roadless desert in the back of a jostling beer truck … a blast beat echoed across the flats, muffling the clink of contraband bottles, a death-metal soundtrack to the raw-bone panorama of sand and sky.”
The Footloose American isn’t an attempt to emulate Thompson’s gonzo style—Kevin’s punchy prose are his own. In part, the book aims to unravel the man behind the myth, but mostly Kevin uses Thompson’s work as a guide to discover how the same political, cultural and social issues of South America have (or haven’t) changed since Thompson wrote about them 50 years ago.
How did you first become acquainted with Thompson’s travels in South America?
Brian Kevin: In The Proud Highway there’s just fewer than 20 letters from this year that Thompson spent as a freelance foreign correspondent in South America in 1962 and 1963, while he was still sort of cutting his teeth. And, also, there’s an anthology from the late ’70s of some of his early magazine work that contains maybe six out of the 18 newspaper stories he did while he was down there. It’s not like it’s a secret—this material is out there—but it hasn’t gotten a lot of attention because it predates this counterculture character that came later on.
When and why did you decide you were going to write this book?
BK: I was probably 21 or 22 and I was sort of in that what-am-I-doing-with-myself moment that a lot of us probably have had. I was already an admirer of his at that point, I’d read all the big ones—Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and On the Campaign Trail, Hells Angels and The Rum Diary, which is not that great of a book but it’s interesting—and so with the South America [writings] it was like, “Wow, man, why have I not heard of this before?” I remember thinking that it would be rad to pick up and travel the world and, also, that the handful of letters from South America seemed like an inadequate exploration of what must have been a pretty significant turning point in this guy’s life.
But I didn’t really travel the world. I got a magazine job and then I moved to Missoula for school and I got married at one point and the better part of eight years went by. But there was a point where all of a sudden I had graduated and I wasn’t married anymore and I had no idea what I was about to do. The dramatic answer is that I decided to do this thing I didn’t do eight years ago and travel the world ... and it also seemed like a potentially good writing project.
What were you hoping to find out about Thompson in your travels?
BK: He has this tantalizing quote in The Proud Highways that goes, “After a year of roaming around down here the main thing I’ve learned is that I now understand the United States and why it will never be what it could have been, or at least tried to be.” And he doesn’t elaborate! So it’s this great line from a guy who later on claims his journalistic beat to be “the death of the American dream.”
I first saw Black Cobra open for the Saviours at the Palace at a Sunday show that Chris Baumann put together in the middle-late 2000s. I want to say it was 2009 or something. They were the two-piece group (just drums and guitar) with both guitar and bass gear, and a splitter box that allowed wayyyyy to much brutality to be safe for ears or really anything else. It was in a single word perfect.
When I listen to Black Cobra now, I think a lot of how bands like them and High On Fire who have kind of just brought a full-on game change to the world of metal, with its sometimes ridiculousness, pomposity and occasional dullness. This stuff is just full-tilt, all killer, no filler.The blown out gnarliness of the tunes that Black Cobra turn lose is just not to be misrepresented. If you haven't experienced music like this before, it's like jumping off your first cliff into a river, or sipping your first double IPA or something, man. It's a bracing, wild thing.
Black Cobra play an all-ages Total Fest Pre-Blast at the Zootown Arts Community Center, Thursday, June 19. $8 at the door/$6 advance at totalfest.org. Wizard Rifle, Fallow and Swamp Ritual also play. Show starts at 8 PM.
It's the classic Montana story: rodeo cowboys, beautiful mountains—and blood-thirsty dinosaurs? Cowboys vs. Dinosaurs, a film made in Livingston, Mont., premiers tonight at the Shane Lalani Center for the Arts in Livingston. Check out the trailer below featuring The Mint bar and other Livingston landmarks overshadowed by angry CGI T-Rexes. We'll keep you updated on when the film gets to Missoula, because obviously, we need to see it.
Neko Case stopped in Missoula last night to perform at the Wilma Theater with opening band the Dodos. Her 2014 tour is in promotion of her 2013 LP titled The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. Here are a few photos from the performances.
Neko Case at the Wilma
Neko Case performed at the Wilma Theater with opening band the Dodos.
Women's Voices for the Earth and friends put together this music video, "Detox the Box," to encourage tampon companies to get toxic chemicals out of feminine products. You might recognize musician Caroline Keys and WVE's Ali Solomon in the spoof of Justin Timberlake's "Dick in a Box." Good fashion, hilarious lyrics and, you know, a pretty important message.
Photographer and performance artist Dane Hansen, aka Bad Naked, and I traveled to a swamp with props, masks, a his guitar and a dog last week. Here is a series of images from one of the wildest photo shoots I have ever been on.
Bad Naked Photos
Dane Hanson and I traveled to a swamp with props, masks, a his guitar and a dog last week. Here is a series of images from one of the wildest photo shoots I have ever been on.
Every year the Montana Skatepark Association put on the On Deck art show and auction, which provides a vivid collection of paintings and sculpture made from skateboard decks. In its 9th year, the exhibit at the Brink Gallery offers funny and beautiful images including ones of rollergirls, cow skulls, comix, landscapes and abstracts.
If that's not enticing enough, there is a nude of Burt Reynolds.
The online auction is happening now at montanaskatepark.org/ondeck and continues through Thursday, May 1, at 5 PM.
After the Thursday online auction, bidders will be notified and proxy bidders can be arranged for the gallery auction on May 2nd. The First Friday May 2 reception runs from 5 to 10 PM. All the decks (including some surprises) will be available for viewing and bidding.
Paul McCartney, who may or may not be your favorite Beatle, is coming to Missoula for his Out There tour and tickets go on sale Friday, May 9. The tour launched last year in Brazil and has pretty much gone around the world from South America to Japan through Europe and North America. The 2014 leg will see him hit Washington-Grizzly Stadium on August 5. Apparently his shows have been full-bore, three-hour long mixes of old Beatles tunes, stuff from Wings and newer works. This is McCartney's first show in Missoula and, of course, who knows if he'll ever make it here again.
From the press release: “I first heard of Paul McCartney when I was in the fifth grade watching the Ed Sullivan show. What an honor to have this legend perform in Washington-Grizzly Stadium,” says University of Montana President Royce Engstrom. “It will be the entertainment event of a lifetime! I am proud of our team that worked to make this happen at UM.”
Tickets go on sale Friday, May 9 at 10 a.m. at all Griz Tix locations, by phone at 1-888-MONTANA, and online at www.griztix.com. Prices range from $69.50 to $250.
Tim Goessman has been taking photographs of Missoula DIY musicians and artists since 2011, including at raucous house shows in the now-defunct Lab, in the back of the VFW and out on the streets. Check out some of the favorites he posted on his website showcasing bands like King Elephant, Whoopass Girls and Bird's Mile Home, as well as informal jam sessions such as the one of Brandon Neumayer and Taylor Toth-Joseph, below, taken in May 2013 in an alley across from the Green Hanger.