Live:Nutty Log Roll 

Why Bob Log is the greatest backwards guitar player ever

Bob Log III is not human, nor is he an alien. He’s a hoax conjured by some of the finest 20th century Dadaists.

A small group of those absurdist artists, during their travels of the Far East, stumbled upon that great ancient myth of the magic lamp—you know, a couple of rubs, out comes the genie and grants you wishes. Except the lamp they came across granted only one. So these artists of the absurd gathered together, hazed on absinthe and clove smokes and giggling furiously on what they could possibly wish for. Money wasn’t their object, nor fame of course. Why not wish for the absolute impossible? One of them, possibly Tristan Tzara, gathered his wits and made the collective wish: “Our wish is for a modern appliance, perhaps a washing machine, from another galaxy that is able to play and sing the blues,” before keeling over in hysterics. The wish was granted, and thus Bob Log III was created from a bolt of lightning.

If that only could be true. Just by looking and listening to Bob Log play the blues, anyone might consider the tale to be the truth. Bob Log is actually a native of Arizona who got some decent attention with his first band, Doo Rag, a menacing two-piece firebrand blues band that made equally chaotic lo-fi records by the boatload for the better part of the early to mid-’90s. Following that blues implosion, singer/guitarist Bob Log III set out on a one man band venture a few years ago and has been causing the jaw to drop just about everywhere his sound is welcome.

Quoted on his website: “One man, drum kick, slide guitar ride” and another that I’m not making up: “When Bob Log III was a child, he lost his left hand in a boating accident. It was soon replaced with a monkey paw, and a new guitar style was born.” Except I think the monkey paw came with some sort of voodoo curse/blessing—Bob Log plays so fast you’d swear he was playing backwards. It’s traditional blues given electro-shock therapy. Listen to his two LPs: School Bus and Trike, each one like unpredictable chain of thought where all the decisions—chord change, Tourette’s-style hoot an’ holler—seem to have been made on the nanosecond.

It’s possible; anything’s possible. Just look at Eugene Chadbourne’s schizo guitar mangling or even Captain Beefheart’s screwed-up twist and turning avant blues; Log has these elements but he also incorporates the Bukka White style and some signals from space via his helmet. Helmet? Log reconfigured a motorcycle helmet with a beer-bong-looking apparatus for his vocals.

The Gibson Brothers did it. The Gories and the Wolverton Brothers all formed a mutant version of blues previously unthinkable to the common joe. But Bob Log is it. He carries that wicked restless spirit through his recordings and his performances. The case of Bob Log III v. the Blues and how it might have turned out differently exemplifies two important approaches to the blues: Do you stick with the root-and-mud traditional blues or do you go out on a limb and shovel your own path with rules and methods of madness that might only make sense to yourself?

Log has chosen to bust his own sod rather than follow the tiresome golden-paved footpaths Johnny Lang and a billion other blues guys have toed for safety reasons. Not to dis their ilk, but we all have different priorities when it comes to hearing things that we can acquaint ourselves with comfortably or getting our minds blown to smithereens. Go see this so-called “washing machine from outer space” or whatever the hell he is and it’ll give you something to talk about for the next couple of years—guaranteed, or your mind back in one piece.

Bob Log III plays with the Immortal Lee County Killers and the Everyday Sinners next Thursday, June 14 at Jay’s Upstairs.

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