I have often been accused of either loving the bands and musicians that I write about, or brutally hating them. Well, it is all true: I either love or hate musicians, depending on my medication. Which brings me to Oakland folkie Sonny Smith, a streetwise Jonathon Richman who sees the world through the optimistic eyes of the common man. His new CD, “Fruitvale” is a snapshot of life in a tough city. www.sonnysmith.com
Out of the festering land between Chicago and Milwaukee materializes The Michael Ray Cain Reckoning and the amazingly brilliant release “Aztec GTO and other Boss Sounds.” Michael Ray Cain is a man who knows his obscure rock history and every second of “Aztec GTO…” demonstrates that. From “The Only Ones” and “The Saints” to “The Gun Club” and “Firewater,” Cain takes every good song that he’s ever heard and interprets it into his own sound.
Madison’s loss and New York City’s gain, The Cummies have a new CD that is only available at their shows; lucky you, they will be playing a one-off show at the King Club in Madison, May 18. I know that I’m going to catch shit for this, but The Cummies are the greatest rock band in the world today, and they don’t care.
RIP: DON HO. Am I going to get into trouble for this?
TUPPER SAUSSY Died March 16, of a heart attack. Saussy was the artistic genius The Neon Philharmonic, who had the 1969 hit “Morning Girl” and “Flowers For Your Pillow.” Saussy was also a gifted painter and authored a best-selling conspiracy book about the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King. Saussy went underground in the 1980’s for ten years to avoid paying taxes, and spent some time in the federal pen for it. They don’t make them like old Tupper anymore.
BILL SABO Died March 16 of heart failure, at the age of 46. He was the drummer and songwriter of Quasimodo and Shok Paris.
RON CHESTERMAN Died March 16. He was the longtime bassist for The Strawbs, who were contemporaries of Deep Purple.
BUCK JONES Died March 17 after being hit by a car while changing a tire on his way to a show near Greenville, TX. He was an up-and-coming country singer and songwriter.
CURTIS GRANT Died March 20 of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He was 39, and the guitarist for Black Cherry and American Heartbreak.
JASON RAY Died March 26 in Hackensack, NJ, after being hit by a car. He was 21, and the singer of 9PM Traffic.
CHA BURNS Died March 26 of lung cancer in Prestatyn, Wales. He was 50, the guitarist and a founding member of Fingerprintz and The Silencers, and played with Adam & The Ants.
JOHNNY CASANEDA JR (aka Johnny Ca$h/Tha Fast Gunna) Died March 29, after being shot in Vallejo, CA. He was 26, and also in The Money Gang and a protégé of Mac Dre.
STANLEY BECKFORD Died March 30, in Riversdale, St. Catherine, Jamaica, of throat cancer. The reggae/mento singer was a member of The Turbines (aka The Turbynes) whose big songs were “Dip Them Jah Jah Dip Them,” “Soldiering,” “Broom Weed” and “Dada Beg Your Pardon.” Beckford also did some work with The Starlites.
JIM WAYNER (aka Mr. Blues, NOT the one from Madison) Died March 31, at 59, of complications related to a sudden illness. The Canadian blues legend was the singer, songwriter, drummer and harmonica player of The Bearcats, Georgia Strait, The Sharks, Sounder and The Tombstones.
MARK ST. JOHN Died April 5 of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was 51 and the guitarist for KISS on “Animalize.” Born in Hollywood, he also led the Mark St. John Project and was a member of White Tiger.
MC HELLRAZOR Died April 6, after being stabbed to death in London, England. He was 14, and a member of the hip-hop band Funeral Soldiers.
JOE CRAWFORD Died April 8, after falling while climbing Mt. Baker in Washington. He was 28 and a member of The New Mexicans and Band of Horses.
KEITH MOORE (aka Deacon Johnson/King of Ambient Noise) Died after being shot to death on April 10 in New Orleans. He was 43, a guitarist, conceived Noize Fest, and was the son of guitarist and singer Deacon John Moore.
JIMMY KIMBLE Died in April of natural causes. He was 56. As a young adult he played drums for Iggy Pop and was a roadie for CSN&Y. After serving in the Army he became an artist, poet and activist for Native Americans.
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