Horrorpops or Welcome Back The Rockabilly!

 

How could you not fall in love with this woman??

My musical vision and tastes have been a little narrow lately. I’ve been focusing on my own little local scene and the careers of my good friends. My devotion and friendship had blinded me to the music beyond my borders and my circle of friends. Then, I heard her.

Listening to NPR the other day, a story came on about about the resurgence of rockabilly and psychobilly around the world. And not just the music, but whole aesthetic that comes along with it : tattoos, Betty Page hairdos, flat tops, leather, etc. Think the movie The Outsiders, but with alot more attitude and ink. I had always been a fan of The Reverend Horton Heat, Ronnie Dawson and other bands that fell under the psychobilly umbrella during the early 90’s, but over time, well, I sorta lost interest in the uniqueness of the sound and the melding of old school rockabilly with punk rock. The scene didn’t notice my indifference, the scene carried on and grew stronger and stronger. The story from NPR was illustrating it’s growth and popularity in places like Denmark, the UK, Belgium, Amsterdam and even in Japan. One of the bands they mentioned was the Horrorpops.

I’m embarassed to admit that I am definitely coming late to this party. The Horrorpops have been around since 1996 and I’m only just now hearing them for the first time. With my encyclopedic knowledge of most things in the alternative rock arena, I had to admit, I had never heard of them. The NPR piece played a sample…and I completely fell in love. How could you not? This amazing woman with an incredible voice rocking out with a stand up bass??? Their recordings really allow you to hear every pluck of the strings as she plays her custom made stand up bass, built just for her by her husband (DAMMIT!!) Kim Nekroman, whose own band, the Nekromantix, produce their own brand of dark psychobilly. Nekroman is also in the Horrorpops playing guitar. I went straight from work to Bullmoose Music and bought their cds, after adding them on the crackspace as well. Now I just need to see them live and so do you!!! If you hear about them playing in your area, run, don’t walk, to that show!!! I’ll probably see you there…. 🙂

http://www.myspace.com/thehorrorpops

 

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Monhegan Island part 4 (2005)

I need to finish up my thoughts about Monhegan Island. Been procrastinating long enough and I need to just get the rest of my thoughts out of my little head. Well, not so little, as my pictures clearly indicate.

I guess I felt compelled to write about my experience on the island because of the general feeling of warmth and hominess I felt when I arrived there. A feeling of soothing familiarity that only increased as the day wore on. I truly felt like the island was satisfying some need in me that I didn’t know was there.

After lunch, we headed uphill towards the schoolhouse, a small building at what turned out to be the base of a bigger hill leading up to a lighthouse. It was here that we all collapsed in some chairs set up on the side of the road. Situated just below the school house, we had a great view of the road we had just walked up and the ever present fog, which at this time seemed to be chasing us up the hill. J decided to hang in the chairs for awhile so H and I headed down a side path towards the icepond. I always loved the idea of harvesting ice. I have no idea why it fascinates me, but just the idea that they used to go out, cut ice out of a pond then store it away in a cold dark part of a barn is an amazing act of ingenuity. The barn ajacent to this icepond had fallen on severe hard times (looked like it was trying to take a bow,sideways) but I had seen other barns designed for ice storage. At the house for August St Gaudens, there was an ice storage place, and the feeling when you walked into it was amazing. We were there in the height of summer, but walking into this dark little section of a barn, the temperature dropped to almost below forty degrees, no refrigeration, just the genius of the people who designed the enclosure. And according to the notes on the wall when you entered into this space, they managed to keep ice there well into summer, ice they had cut in blocks from a riiver nearby and had hand dragged to this remote little barn.

So we wandered back, gathered up J, and after a little debating about our next destination, we decided to head uphill towards the summit of the island and the lighthouse, arguably, the center of the island. A year ago, I learned, this was the path everyone was supposed to take for the wedding ceremony for H & J, if not for the remnants of a certain hurricane hadn’t decided to pick that day to blow across the island.

Heading up the hill towards the lighthouse, I learned two valuable lessons. One: I need to work out more,especially on cardio. Two: There are no bathrooms anywhere near where we were. This proved to be a painfull lesson. Luckily, we were able to find an out of the way bush that provided adequate cover for me to discretely solve my urgent needs.

In the midst of all of this, we came across a graveyard, something I was not prepared for. I was not told we were coming by this, it just sort of apeared in our path and I knew that H’s father was here. I tried to forget my anxiousness and pay my respect to this man I never met. H had picked up three stones, one for each of us, and placed them on his grave. Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, I am left speechless.This was one of those times. I don’t know how to describe the change in my friend, but I knew better than to say anything or interfere. We stood there quietly for a few minutes, listening to the sound of the wind and distant waves. Somewhere below us on the hill, someone was talking about politics with another, I caught snippits of their conversation as they faded back into the wind.

We proceeded up the hill and stopped at the summit. Again, just as at the base of the hill, there were benches and chairs waiting for us. We sat down in silence for a few minutes. The fog, which had been relentlessly following us on our path, finally caught up. It overtook the whole island and for a brief moment, we could see nothing below us. Then, slowly, the buildings rememerged from the murkiness. The top of the hotel appeared first, black against the white fog, slowly regaining its color as the fog passed on. All the houses came in and out of focus with the passing waves of white and grey. I realized, I had seen this view before. This spot, the very spot I was sitting in, had been painted on numerous occassions, as was evident in the art gallery we had spent some time in. I suddenly felt left out, as an artist. I found myself wishing I had brought a sketch pad, something I could sit here and capture this scene myself. Instead, I took more pictures. Hopefully, the pictures I took can convey the feelings this island invokes.

After sitting for quite awhile and feeling the urge for a nap, we decided to hike down the hill and into cathedral woods. Now, I had heard that there were miles and miles of hiking trails on this island, but I was unaware that they ran through some of the most beautiful forrest I have ever laid eyes on. We headed down one major trail, one that obviously the trucks had used, then we diverted onto a smaller trail.I was suddenly reminded of being a boyscout, when we would go to some distant part of the white mountains, stop at some seemingly arbitrary spot along the highway and take off into the woods on what looked like a small footpath only to discover it was some beautiful trail, hidden away on the side of a highway. I always loved that sense of adventure ,seeing something new and I always wondered, how the hell my scout leaders even knew these trails were there. 

The trail H & J took me on was winding, full of roots and fallen trees and complete silence. Thats what I noticed most of all. All day, I could still hear the waves crashing somehwere in the distance, but here, surrounded by these beautiful trees, wew were insulated from the noise. This was when I really noticed the island speaking to me. In this utter and complete silence, I felt completely at peace and at home. We crossed a small bridge on the trail and H announced that we were on ‘sacred ground’. This was the part of the woods where people would build Fairy Houses, or Elven Houses, out of the natural ingrediants on the ground here. And there, in all directions, were these tiny houses, built into the ground, onto the side of a tree or standing alone, all offerings to mythical creatures that supposedly lived in the woods. I was completely taken with this notion. I wished we had the time, because I wanted so badly to sit down and build one myself. I felt like a little kid who had a found a new set of building blocks and it was my turn to play! But we couldn’t, so I admired the ones that were already built, snapped my little photos and moved on.

After wandering in the woods for about an hour, we headed back to town. My day was almost over here. My boat was waiting, my ticket was paid for, I had to leave the island. We made our way down to the docks and J & I sat down in some more of the ever present white chairs, overlooking the whole dock area. We watched as my boat chugged its way in. More photography, H runnning after her mom, J and I just hanging in our chairs. I remember thinking, this should be every day. This is how it should be. I didn’t want to leave. The sun, after being an afterthought all day, hiding behind the gloom of the fog, suddenly made a grand appearance, burning off all the fog and illuminating the harbor. For the first time, the entire island was visible to me. It was a wonderful ending for me. All day, the island had been hiding from me, but now as I leave, it revealed itself in all its beauty and I wanted to stay and discover more. But my boat was waiting.

We made our way down to the docks, I went and bought a water bottle. I was dreading the the boat ride for obvious reasons. But H was able to calm my nerves. As I was about to board, H suddenly lit up “oh! I almost Forgot!!!!!”. She took off up the hill, and I saw her yank some flowers off the side of the road and race back to where J and I were waiting. This was a ritual I had been told about but obviously yet to experience. Everyone who leaves the island, must take a handfull of flowers, when the boat is well out into the harbor, you must toss the flowers into the water. If the flowers float back to the island, that means you too will one day return. I wasn’t sure how this worked and i didn’t have a gps device handy to toss in with the flowers to see if they actually made it back to the island, I guess you just have to have faith that they returned. H gave me a big hug, J and I said our goodbyes, and wearily, I stepped onto the boat. The captain advised me to go to the top deck and sit in this one spot near the front and I was garunteed not to get seasick again. I immediately ran up there. The boat chugged out of the harbor. Looking back at my friends waving on the dock, I tossed my flowers into the water, as the island came into full view again. My friends grew smaller and smaller, but I could still see H waving. And I could see the tide slowly tugging my flowers back towards the island.

I sat down where the captain told me to sit. The wind in my face and the hum of the engine beneath me calmed my nerves. I closed my eyes and imagined my flowers were already back on the island, and I knew, I would make every effort to join them. Sleep overtook me and I drifted off thinking of Pixie houses and rocky shorelines….

Monhegan Island, Part 3 (2005)

 

I’ve always been sceptical of anyone who utters the following phrase: “I found myself.” Being a jaded and cynical punk rocker guy most of my childhood and growing into a jaded and cynical adult who listens to punk rock music, it has always aroused my suspicions of an individuals sense of self and reality when I’ve heard that phrase. How can you not know yourself? What is there to discover? Did these people seriously look in the mirror and think “hmmm…who is that looking back at me? damn sexxy smile, but who is it??”

At the same time, I’ve also been doubtful of the term revelation. And the usage I mean is the pseudo-biblical sense, when someone thinks something has been divinley placed before them, whether it be an event or an object or a person. It gets so overused to the point where it means nothing. A revelation should be something that alters your life/situation/etc on a profound and deep level. A level that you can’t easily describe and are hard pressed to put into words. A revelation, to me, is not a tv show, a magazine, some episode of Oprah or whatever. Revelation is an unconscious awakening. Part of you opens up that you didn’t realize was closed. To really pound home the cliche, revelation is a piece to a puzzle that we didn’t see missing

Walking out of H’s moms house, I couldn’t stop smiling. J had H’s mom’s dog on a leash. He was joining the three of us for the first part of our hike. We wandered down a path alongside H’s moms property to one of her rentals. I think they said it was called the Beck. I pulled out my camera and for the first time in a long time, started taking pictures. I have always loved photography and I seem to be good at it. The comments I get are usually along the lines of “geez, that could be a postcard”. Not sure if that is a good thing, but I’ll take it as a compliment.

After checking out the rental space, and getting some hints that maybe I should rent it for next summer, we wandered down a path heading towards the shoreline. I was informed that we were wandering into Lobster Cove. The fog had found new life and had rolled in over the water, obscuring the waves, but we could hear their relntless pounding on the rocks. Sitting on this beach was a shipwreck. In truth, I really wish I had paid better attention to the story, but it was aparently a tug that had wrecked here a century ago and everyone survived except the boat, which had left its metal hulk amongst the rocks of this shoreline. The body of the boat was on its side and we climbed up onto it and using it like a giant park bench, we enjoyed the noise of the waves and the glare of the sun as it poked in and out of the fog. I remember sitting there thinking that this was how life should be every day. Well, aside from the violent seasickness from the boat over. Everyday should start with the peacefullness of the ocean. This was true peacefullness, not like my favorite place down in Rye NH. In Rye, where I go to relax and sit and watch the waves, inevitably, someone drives by with their radio blaring, breaking my concentration and ruining whatever peace I had come in search of.

After several minutes just sitting there and enjoying nature, we started back for the house, where I got a chance to play with the dog. I love little dogs, especially little dogs with big personalities like this one. He was so adorable and all he wanted to do was run,play and wrestle. As a side note, I’m fiercely allergic to most dogs, so as much as I love them, they usually leave me a little puffy and out of breath. But for this little bugger, I was more than happy to risk an allergic reaction to wrestle with him over his toy.

On the path back and forth from the house, H would suddenly reach out for a bush and grab some fruit. I found this so amusing. I would never think to just grab fresh fruit from the plants growing wild on the island.

I started this tangent with criticism of finding oneself and revelation. I have to say, that after years of being in the business world, I had truly lost touch with something in myself and something in the world. Being surrounded by the beauty of this island, I realized that I had lost touch with nature. No, I’m not becoming a treehugging hippy looking for the next drum circle. But what I did realize was I was missing this silence. In the silence of nature, I could really hear my own thoughts, and I guess, despite my cynicism, I found a part of myself I had forgotten: a real childish joy that made me want to run up and down the trails like a little kid. Of course, being an out of shape adult, that would have been very impractical since I could have tripped and fallen and broken a hip, but the thought was there. And as you can see from reading this tangent, it was truly a moment of revelation: a profound moment that I’m unable to coherently put into words, but I think I can affectively express how it felt.

After inspecting another rental, we wandered towards town, stopping at the church where the wedding was held where H found some glasses in the lost and found box that made her look like a japanese tourist. We wandered down to Swim Beach which must be some kind of inside joke because the beach did not look too inviting for swimming. Then we went in search of lunch, first stopping for an end of season sale at one of the knick knack stores on the island. I wanted to get this shirt that proclaimed that maine was the home of gnats, but decided against it. If I was going to take a souvenir from the island, I would want it to be something positive. By this time, J, H and I were starting to get faint with hunger. Ok, I exagerrate, but it was damn close to fainting, so we went in search of lunch, settling for Pizza, strange medley of raw garlic,potatoes,olive oil,cheese and raw garlic! Our collective breath probably drove people away from us after that.

Ok, its late again, I promise to wrap this up tomorrow…

Monhegan Visit 2005 Part 2

 

SO, after describing the  horrible seasickness I had going over to Monhegan Island, you would think I would have been miserable as hell once I got there. And, to be honest, after making my way onto land, it took several minutes for my stomach to calm down. I stood by the dock with my friends as they loaded their boxes of stuff from the boat onto one of the waiting trucks. The docks on Monhegan led to a steep hill where I caught sight of one of the main hotels on this island. Shrouded in the fog, it came in and out of focus as the fog slowly flowed past it. I took a deep breath of the salty air and slowly, my stomach calmed down. I tried to help H & J with their packages, but only managed to get one box onto the truck. They were too fast for me and had everything loaded before I knew it. H’s mom came half running down the steep hill to the truck to greet us.

I was introduced and I did my best to hide the queasiness that was slowly leaving me. I must have looked green. After a few brief hellos with other people on the docks, H’s mom hopped into the truck with the boxes and they sped off up the hill, with us hoofing it behind them. H asked me if I wanted to ride in the truck, but I decided the air would be better and walking would get me used to the solid ground again.

We trudged along the steep, unpaved road and the island slowly revealed itself as more and more of the fog moved and shifted. We walked along a road I know I should have already been familiar with. This little feeling of guilt was still with me. I had chosen to work a year ago instead of coming to H & J’s wedding here. Something I still can’t quite forgive myself for. But, alas, I didn’t really know them then and I didn’t know I was missing out on making some great friends.

The climb up the road seemed to go on and on as we made our way to H’s mom’s house. I can honestly say, I didn’t look around too much, I was too busy concentrating on feeling better. I still had this feeling like I was on the boat, a feeling which would remind my stomach, which in turn led to a little more queasiness that would subside then come back again. I knew what i needed: a good cup of tea. For some reason, whenever I feel a little sick, stuffed up, depressed, something about the ritual of making a cup of tea is the perfect thing for calming my nerves, clearing me up and relaxing my rebelling stomach. We finally reached her house and wouldn’t you know it? The first thing she asks is “Would you like some tea?” I nodded enthusiastically and plopped down on a kitchen chair, determined not to move again for awhile.

The tea was perfect, I don’t remember the flavor, but whatever it was, it soothed my nerves and finally, the queasiness disapeared completely. I felt whole. While I sipped my tea, plans were drawn up around me of where we were going, who we were seeing. I only half listened as I stared out the windows and saw the fog, which had so completely blanketed the island from the dock to here, finally lift. The puffy whiteness subsided to reveal trees in her backyard, then suddenly, a brilliant blue sky with sunshine streaming down. And just as quickly, it was gone again, but a dull golden glow had taken over what was before a milky cloudiness. The sun was fighting to get through.

It was this moment, listening to my friends plan out our day and seeing the sunshine breaking through the clouds, that I felt the island speak to me for the first time. There are moments in your life you can’t put in words. Moments that have no rational explanantion. This moment for me: sitting with good friends around a kitchen table, sipping tea, fog slowly breaking up to reveal more of the beauty of the island. This moment, for some reason, I felt like I was home. I smiled at my friends. I’m not sure they understood why I was smiling. I’m not even sure I understood. I just knew I was happy and I felt at peace. I finished the last of my tea and washed out my cup.

“Are you ready to go?” H asked me. I nodded and smiled. I was ready for anything.

More tomorrow…its a little late.

New Expressions, old blogs

Something new, something different. I decided it was time to move the majority of my lil blogs to someplace more useful. Trusting all my thoughts to one space was starting to worry me, so I plan on sifting through my blogs and transferring them over to here. I hope by organizing my thoughts, it will help me to write more.