Americana Mafia? Yeah, you betcha. Ever notice how inbred the Americana scene has gotten? The same people playing on each other's albums, as if they are some kind of exclusive club. Excuse me, the proper term is “all-star collective.” It is starting to sound like a big pile of crap from self-indulgent rich guys who won't let anyone else into their club, lest they be more talented. This entire Americana Mafia reminds me of the mid-to-late '70s Southern California singer/songwriter scene.
Definitely go see Detroit's SSM when they come to Madison's High Noon Saloon to kick some noise butt June 23, and June 27 at the 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis.
The Returnables farewell CD on Dirtnap Records reminded me how great music can be when the musicians truly love what they are playing. The Returnables did what they did because they loved it. It wasn't a job. It wasn't a rung in the ladder to become giant rock stars (although they probably wouldn't have minded). The Returnables were what rock music is all about. All the proceeds from the CD go to the John Glick Memorial Fund. (www.dirtnaprecs.com)
RIP: The great Grant McLennan of the famous Aussie indies the Go Betweens died of a heart attack May 6, at the way-too-young age of 48. McLennan had the soul of a poet and the chops of a pro. He will be missed.
BIG HAWK Died May 1, shot. (Rap) He was 36, a member of The Screwed Up Click, and worked with Trae, Paul Wall, Lil' Flip, Z-Ro, E.S.G, Lil' Keke and Big Pokey, and the brother of hip-hop artist Fat Pat.
STEVE BENDER Died May 7, of cancer. (Pop/Disco) Born Nov. 2, 1942 in Mainz, Germany. The singer, guitarist and producer was a member of The Poor Things, The Naturals and Dschinghis Khan, and worked with James Brown and Eric Burdon. He was the father of singer Melanie Bender.
JOHN HICKS Died May 10, in New York City, of internal bleeding. (Jazz) He was 65, and born in Atlanta. A pianist, he worked with his wife, flutist Elise Woods and with Art Blakey, Woody Herman and Betty Carter.
MELVIN LARSON Died May 11, in Sheboygan, WI, after a long illness. Born Nov. 13, 1928, in Gladstone, he played organ, piano and accordion and was a member of The Mel-o-Notes Band.
MARIO GILARDENGO Died May 12, in an accident involving his motorcycle and a car. (Glam Metal) He was 28, a bassist, and a member of Razzle Dazzle.
VANDEN BRANDEN (Don Vanden Branden) Died May 13, in Allouez, at the age of 77. He sang and played euphonium, and was a member of The Green Bay Shrine.
STEVE COOPER (Steven Lane Cooper) Died May 14, in San Antonio, TX, of kidney failure. (Metal) The singer was a member of Liquid Sky, S.A. Slayer, Narita, Juggernaut and Exxplorer.
CHEIKHA RIMITTI (Saadia) Died May 15 of a heart attack. (Algerian Folk) Born May 8, 1923, in Tessala, Western Algeria, the singer/songwriter was the mother of rai music and worked with Robert Fripp and Flea. She composed more than 200 songs.
JIMMY SCREETCH Died May 17 of medical complications after a stroke. He played piano and saxophone, led The Jimmy Screetch Trio, and also worked with Etta James, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Ike & Tina Turner, Nancy Wilson and The Dayton Moroccos.
TEO LEYASMEYER Died May 16, in Brighton, MA, of liver and kidney failure. (Blues) Born Jan. 11, 1947, in Germany, the promoter and pianist worked with Johnny Copeland, Howlin Wolf and Freddy King.
BILLY WALKER Died May 21, in a car accident. (Country) Born Jan. 14, 1929, in Ralls, TX, the singer and guitarist was recognized as the Traveling Texan and the Masked Singer of Country Songs, and did “Charlie's Shoes” and “Cross The Brazos At Waco.”
HAMZA EL DIN Died May 22, in Berkeley, CA, of complications after surgery. (Nubian Folk) Born in 1929 in Egypt, he played the oud and the tar and was a singer and composer. Mickey Hart of The Grateful Dead produced one of his albums, and he worked with The Kronos Quartet.
DESMOND DEKKER (Desmond Adolphus Dacres) Died May 25, in London, England, of a heart attack. (Reggae) Born July 16, 1941, in Kingston, Jamaica, the singer/songwriter did “Israelites” and “007 (Shanty Town).”