Weasel Walter Wants Your Wallet

Weasel Walter has made himself somewhat industrious, why ought I be impressed? So he’s releasing a bevy of albums of late, and I shan’t cachinnate nor chortle at this dispatch. So he and his westerly gamins and chippies have hatched the consequent presently: an XBXRX album afresh, a Lake of Dracula précis, scads of untrammeled jazz smashing and braying, a peregrination concomitantly with Lair of the Minotaur, a tardy (if I do say so) Flying Luttenbachers DVD, and doubtless legion other schemes. To wit, whilst haunting my local, well, haunt, the congregation was abuzz apropos his artistic foundation. I shall pluck up and estimate this is out of turn. For, cast thine eyes upon my very own conquests. I have heretofore consummated my own euphonical wanderings of the gelid septentrional and unfettered Horoscopo, a To Live and Shave in LA conspectus, and forthwith you can forestall your habitus for Noon and Eternity, Les Tricoteuses, Piper's Son, a Xiu Xiu reallineation, my dalliance with Black Meat, and surely more. Who is the better man? That is indubitably incognizable. My best admonition would be to perlustrate both of our corpora and adjudge for yourself. -Ommyth

ASCAP Sues Oregon Restaurant Owner for Letting a Local Band Play Covers Once in a While; Other Music Publications Ask, “Is Music Industry Living Out Elaborate TMT Joke?”

The Oregonian reports that Michael Dorr, a Portland restaurant owner, owes a large sum of money for letting local band Black Notes play three cover songs. The band played Jimi Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary," Stevie Wonder's "That Girl," and War's "Slippin' Into Darkness." And the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) wants the money.

Here is an excerpt from the OregonLive.com: "Because his place features local musicians and covers are rare, he didn't think he had to pay the musicians and publishers group an estimated $2,000 to cover performances of copyrighted tunes." But, because an ASCAP man came to eat and wrote down the names of the songs he heard, Dorr owes between $750 and $30,000 on each song for copyright infringement. Had a representative from ASCAP not paid this unannounced visit, Dorr wouldn't be facing bankruptcy.

"It's basically going to bankrupt me and put me out of business," Dorr, who is married and a father of two, told the Oregonian. "I can't afford the lawyer and the fees. It's going to close me down."

"It's a total bummer," he continued. "It's scary for me and my family. The restaurant business is hard and on top of other things, business is slow. This is the icing on the cake."

That is absurd, right? No jokes; that's ridiculous. I'm not the sharpest cheese in the fridge, but I didn't know it was against the law to play a cover or allow them to be played live. I thought you were safe if you announced who wrote it. But Dorr, owner of Imbibe on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard, is a living example of my ignorance. Does that mean the band, Black Notes, is guilty too? I don't know, and chances are, the common musician doesn't either. So... beware. At least make sure no ASCAP stings are in progress at your venue.

Really, what I'm saying is: don't play music. Abstinence is the only 100% effective method for staying safe. Just don't do it. But, we're young. We're human. So if you have to, do it in private and alone. Playing music, even on a hi-fi, is probably illegal, so don't do that either. Buying music, according to ASCAP and probably the RIAA, is the entertainment industry's version of the speed trap. Gotcha! You thought you were supporting artists! It was all a part of an elaborate copyright infringement scheme. Don't buy music; don't play it; don't sing it; don't let it be sung; don't even mention it. In fact, TMT is being sued for $60,000 and an H.J. for this article. So, by all means, give some money to the Wonder and Hendrix estates. In the meantime, everyone into the copyright prison!

Coolest High School Computer Teacher Ever Captures Your Heart… With a Heart-Shaped Record; Details of a Unique Vinyl Subscription in This Story!

Once upon a time, there was a little high school computer teacher who loved music. That's right, apparently there is at least one high school computer teacher in the world who is cool. I know that your high school computer teacher wore a pocket protector and had a twitch, but bear with me, here. So this music-loving faculty member started an eency weency record label called People in a Position to Know. The label is so itty bitty, in fact, that they haven't released any albums yet.

They have a plan, though. Allow me to editorialize, here: it is a pretty fucking awesome plan. People in a Position to Know wants to put you in a position to know about its Limited Edition Vinyl Subscription Series. Beginning this November, you can sign up to receive six clear vinyl records, including an assortment of 8-inch square, heart-shaped, triangular, and hexagonal records, as well as more conventionally-shaped 10- and 12-inchers. Among bands already lined up to contribute to the series are such impressive names as Jad Fair, Wooden Wand, The Poster Children, and The Wrens. Those of you who remember the dearly departed Sub Pop Singles Club are, well... you're just older than I am.

One of the craziest things about this venture is that neither the bands — each selected simply because People in the Position to Know love them so much — nor the label will be making any profit from it. Your $65.00 subscription will be just enough to cover producing and shipping the records.

So have I sold you record nerds on this series yet? What if I tell you that there will be only 100 subscriptions offered, and that you have to sign up for the People in a Position to Know mailing list to get them? Those folks will send an e-mail some time in late October or early November to give you your chance to join their big, happy, non-profit, music-lovin' family.

Don't it just make your record-shaped heart fill with love?

Shit, today was tough. I woke up, and for a second, all I could see was gray, gray to the corners of my eyes. I thought I had gone blind, until it cleared, leaving this weird film, sucking the life out of everything I looked at. My girlfriend woke up and asked if I was alright: looking in the mirror, I didn't blame her. My skin was pale and clammy, cold to the touch; my eyes blood-red; my hair sticky with the night's sweat.

I walked into the kitchen and made myself a coffee. At the first sip, my stomach twisted. I ran to the toilet and puked bile. I knelt there for about five minutes; I just didn't feel like standing up. When I did, the room turned, and I nearly fell over. Shying from the light, I crawled back into bed, declaring the world to be agony and life to be nothing but a brief shuffle towards death. My girlfriend called me a jerk and stormed off to work.

Three hours later, I realized what was wrong.

I didn't have enough CDs of indie bands covering Balkan gypsy folk songs! It was so obvious.

Crawling to my computer, I desperately searched the Internet for something — anything — to fill the crippling void that threatened to swallow me forever. Nothing. I tore at my hair, I cried, I gnashed my teeth.

Desolate, I looked for something to end my life with. As I was about to crush my head into oblivion with a heavy DIY manual, I heard the ping of an e-mail's arrival. It was a press release, from Crammed Records..

"Gypsy musicians have always absorbed and transformed the many different styles of music that they encountered during their journeys. But what might happen if young western European or American musicians did the same thing to Balkan Gypsy music? If they absorbed some of its spirit and infused it into their own sonic world? Well, the answer lies in the album you're currently reading about...

Electric Gypsyland is a collection of reinterpretations/re-inventions of tracks from three of the leading Balkan Gypsy bands (Crammed's mighty Taraf de Haïdouks, Koçani Orkestar and Mahala Raï Banda), made by notorious fusionists and mainstays of the new Balkan club scene, and by more unexpected contributors coming from totally different musical areas. Also featured are many additional guest musicians (from Europe, Turkey, Africa), engaging in virtual jamming with the original players."

Although no tracklisting was ready yet, it promised songs from Animal Collective, Nouvelle Vague, Cibelle, Tunng, Shantel, Oi-Va-Voi, Balkan Beat Box, and 43 Skidoo, among others.

The ordeal wasn't over yet, though. Electric Gypsyland 2 isn't to be released until November 7. The next few weeks are going to be tough. But I think that I can make it. I know I can make it.

Actually, I'm just kidding. I don't even have hair! Or a girlfriend! Haha! Ha... Oh, er, you should probably still pick up this CD when it's released, though. I mean, if you like the sound of it.

The Man Who Made “Tequila!” Famous Dies

It's with a heavy heart that TMT is finally coming to terms with the death of Danny Flores... AKA "Chuck Rio", raunchy saxophone blower, one of the "Godfathers of latino rock," and of course the man who shouts "Tequila!" in the song of the same name. Flores died September 19 in Huntington Beach, California of pneumonia. He had been also been suffering with Parkinson's Disease for years.

There are few great tunes out there that actually warrant pulling out the rarely-used air-sax from the safety of its air-sax travel case to let wail, but "Tequila!" is positively one of them. "Tequila!" topped the Billboard charts for five weeks back in 1958 after it was rush-recorded and released as a B-side to the song everyone loves: "Train to Nowhere" (nah, I don't know it either). Flores (performing as "Chuck Rio"), along with other session musicians and rockabilly singer Dave Burgess, formed The Champs in 1957, and although later lineups included Glen Campbell, (Jimmy) Seals and (Dash) Croft, "Tequila!" is the sole claim-to-fame for the band.

Being branded as a one-hit-wonder can turn artists maniacal and suicidal, but this fact never seemed to piss off the composer of "Tequila!" Sharee, Flores' wife of 33 years, said at the time of his death, "I can honestly tell you he never got tired of playing that song." Although "Tequila!" was the little heifer that grew up to be a cash cow, Flores actually sold his rights to the song back in the '60s. While he did garner royalties from European plays and sales, he didn't get to rake in the millions the song generated over the years in the U.S., particularly after a certain Mr. Paul Reubens decided to feature the track prominently in a memorable scene from his Big Adventure film in 1985.

Flores toured the world and played his "dirty sax" (an instrument I have been trying to get my girlfriend to play much more of lately...) for years around the Vegas and Atlantic City casino circuits and kept the music career alive off the back of that one hit. Some don't get that much and most don't get half the joy that Flores did. And when you add in the fact that Flores died safe in the knowledge that someone, somewhere right now is teetering on top of a bar trying to upstage a stripper by doing a half-assed Peewee Herman dance to the song, being a one-hit-wonder isn't the death card deal that most would have you believe.

This Just In: MySpace Cares About Darfur?

Our lives count for something — we are told this. We are told this when growing up. Our sense of democracy and irascible freedom fosters our individual feeling of importance. We are empowered by our rights, and we are encouraged by a broader theme of human progress. Unfortunately, my present tense is, discouragingly, too optimistic. We are also bound by apathy, cynicism, disinterest, disregard for life, disregard for everything that does not directly concern us.
50,000. 250,000. 400,000. Reports disagree on the exact number of people dead in the Darfur region. The 250,000 mark is the most common, with 2.5 million displaced. I'm sorry, but I can't explain Darfur in soundbite form. Wikipedia can do that for you:

"The Darfur conflict is an ongoing armed conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan, mainly between the Janjaweed, a militia group recruited from local Baggara tribes, and the non-Baggara people (mostly land-tilling tribes) of the region. The Sudanese government, while publicly denying that it supports the Janjaweed, has provided arms and assistance and has participated in joint attacks with the group, systematically targeting the Fur, Zaghawa, and Massaleit ethnic groups in Darfur. The conflict began in July 2003."

It seems we are at a point where human concern, on a grand scale, has stopped. Our individuality has been diverted and exploited for commercial gain. Instead of putting our efforts to helping the 2.5 million, we are pledging our time to YouTube, Facebook, instant messaging, Tiny Mix Tapes, mp3s, camera phones, and any other temporary pop culture media market device. Our voice is not heard, because it is not being sounded. We're content. Our world is crumbling around us on any number of issues, but ours is the Temporary Generation.

So it is apt that one of those exploiters would gather its demographic to pledge money to aid those in Darfur. They've decided to host a series of concerts on October 21 for the displaced:

TV on the Radio in Philadelphia, PA

Alice in Chains in Winston-Salem, NC

Ziggy Marley in Medford, OR

Citizen Cope in Seattle, WA

Gov't Mule in Spokane, WA

Insane Clown Posse in St. Petersburg, FL

"Other shows will take place in Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco; Melbourne, Fla.; Atlanta; Louisville, Ky.; St. Paul, Minn.; Reno, Nev.; Baltimore; Asheville, N.C.; Charleston, S.C.; Milwaukee; and Washington, D.C. A Canadian show will take place in Toronto."

The bands will donate part of the ticket sales to Oxfam's relief efforts in Sudan and Chad. This is a vain drop in the bucket, and there should be a higher calling here. There should be a collective feeling to achieve SOMETHING on the grand scale of human existence, but passion is a commodity. It's being bought and sold on the internet and marketed to us through issue- and image-aware companies. Pledge your time to help, because our lives need to count for SOMETHING.

[Editor's Note: If you really want to donate in a way that exceeds the partial funding promised at a News Corp.-sponsored ICP gig, please consider this campaign run by STAND: A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition. All money donated through DarfurFast will help pay for civilian protection in Darfur. And, if anything, just please be inspired by these college students in STAND who really have done something and are working their asses off trying to pay soldiers to act as security for the displaced people of Darfur. I, for one, definitely like STAND more than I like The Arcade Fire.]

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