NEON MEATE DREAM —- Captain Beefheart & Panoramas of Paint

1958 Studebaker Commander police car —- Back when cars were influenced by Sputnik —- Beefheart was a fan of Studebakers —— photo by MW, Dalhart, Texas, August 6, 1994 (Todd Moore and I were passing through en route to Great Bend Poetry Rendezvous in Kansas)

1958 Studebaker Commander police car —- Back when cars were influenced by Sputnik —- Beefheart was a fan of Studebakers —— photo by MW, Dalhart, Texas, August 6, 1994 (Todd Moore and I were passing through en route to Great Bend Poetry Rendezvous in Kansas)

Review of CAPTAIN BEEFHEART flick UNDER REVIEW with some reflections on my own Painting

“Abba Zaba go-zoom Babette baboon
Run, run, morning soon, Indian dream, tiger moon
Yellow bird fly high, tobacco sky, two shadows at noon”

I have to admit that much of Sixties rock I listen to now with a certain amount of nostalgia, and admiration, a gem from the past. There is none of that with Beefheart & the Magic Band, it comes on strong, completely present. Beefheart was loaded for bear.

I realize now that Don was testing me when he asked if I liked UNCONDITIONALLY GUARANTEED (released April 1974) and I couldn’t honestly answer and couldn’t look him in the eye, which told him all he suspected, and he got all riled and yelled I KNEW IT GAWDDAMMIT! Then he asked what I thought about BLUEJEANS & MOONBEAMS (recorded August 1974 released in November). I said something noncommittal about how I kinda prefer his earlier records and he again flipped out, and kicked the dirt. This conversation was the night of May 17th 1975 after rehearsal with Zappa for the BONGO FURY tour. Which means when I caught him at the Whisky it was in between UNCONDITIONALLY and BLUEJEANS, and according to the documentary UNDER REVIEW (2006) his band quit right after UNCONDITIONALLY just before he was scheduled for a European tour (which explains the cool shoes he had made in Holland that he was wearing, sort of pre-Earth Shoes style, soft leather), so, his record company put together an ad hoc band of studio players for the tour, which is the band I caught at the Whisky (April 1974) —- I do remember backstage Don and the band were aloof, keeping their distance. I was the only one visiting with him. He had kept a brown sack in his hands on stage like he was drinking wine, but when I asked what was in there (I never knew him to drink) he said it was an empty bottle of port stage prop, “You know, a red herring.”

Maybe sacreligious to say but I can’t put on a Dylan record, or anybody else, after immersing myself in an hour of Beefheart, it just sounds silly. Beefheart was driving a steamroller. It was scary menacing, titanic, as big as the wave that sunk Atlantis, which Beefheart was just nutty enough to probably believe happen’d. He had a rocky output, a few missed turns, but never boring, ever. Emulators are many, and Beef’s music stands up well to reinterpretation. Being an “uncompromising artist” was a bigger deal back then, more than now. And Don was never to be dissuaded, although he needed to make some money.

"Sunrise for Neon Meate Dream of an Octafish" by MW 1971 Upland CA

“Sunrise for Neon Meate Dream of an Octafish” by MW 1971 Upland CA

Beefheart was a force of nature. I called him Don, you couldn’t really call someone Captain Beefheart. Where did he get these ideas? His music was an amalgam of influences that he stirred up into a phantasmagorical rhythmic universe. To talk with him, he was like Lester Young only ten-fold, these two who lived in a parallel universe of their own making. Lester had his own language. Don had his own language but also a warped perspective. I mean “warped” in the physical/physics sense, not that he was mentally deranged. I’ve heard that he could play the mental card easily, to put people on, he must have enjoyed that. I’ve heard he could be quite caustic, especially to journalists who didn’t know who Muddy Waters or Howlin’ Wolf or Jackson Pollock were. That was our immediate connection, was art and poetry and the blues and free jazz. I was a half generation younger than Don (1941 vs 1953) which means he was only 31 the first time we spoke. It was the Fox Theater in Long Beach, March 10, 1972 and the opening acts were Daddy Cool and Harvey Mandel! This was the Magic Band that had just made SPOTLIGHT KID so, they played some from that and a lot from the previous album LICK MY DECALS OFF BABY (my favorite Beefheart album in a lot of ways) so, they were cooking. It was a 3-night run and the night I was there Little Richard was the MC, in a giant pompadour and pink frilly shirt! Gee, I sure wish I had taken my camera. Don was wearing his cape and backstage I just wanted to meet this guy, this fellow traveler in the realms of uncompromising art. On YouTube you can see photos from this night as well as a lo-fi fabulous recording of the concert! Unbelievable to be able to hear this. The ROLLING STONE feature with his photo on the cover had just come out, and prepared me for his paranormal abilities, the article starts off with Don interrupting the journalist that he needs to get the phone. The phone had not rang. But, by the time Don walked over to the telephone, it rang! So, I’m an 18-year high school hipster talking with Don and he interrupts me saying Excuse me I need to light this lady’s cigarette, and 180-degrees behind us, sitting on a bench, is a girl searching through her purse for a match! Don walks over and lights her cigarette!

One of the highlights of that concert was the dual-guitar feature which was definitely Zoot Horn Rollo on one of the guitars and my guess Rocket Morton on the other, even though Elliot Ingber was also on this concert, it could have been him? Playing possibly “Dali’s Car,” or “Peon” of the half dozen in the Beefheart canon which struck me then as now as Bach-like in the 2-Part Inventions vein.

“Intricate insectoid abstract chamber music for rock & roll instruments,” is how one journalist put it. I love that one.

How do you explain Captain Beefheart’s music? He’d spent his youth listening to R&B and captivated by Black American cultural musics, eventually diving into the Delta. (One talking head in the documentary feels strongly an influence from classical music but I don’t sense this at all, not unless you count Harry Partch as classical?) Don’s sensibility was blues-based with an ethos of really digging down into the center of what the blues can do, how it can jump down inside yr psyche.

Was Don a reactionary against a sterile 1950s, the way Zappa was? He certainly had no affinity for the sterility and conformity that washed over America, at least, as purveyed by the media and government, but Don didn’t have a political bone in his body. He was something of an innocent. Needed looking after. In fact, when I first saw him drive I was surprised —- I hate to admit, but his brain just never struck me as being aligned with negotiating a car. He had an amazing mind but driving cars was the last thing I think of when I think of Don. Not that I knew him that well. So, do you call it Stratospheric Blues? Primordial Blues? Titanic? Apocalyptic? That was an element of modern art in it, and what seems absurdist (L.A. has a long tradition of Dada), like his recording a bush? We loved it! TROUT MASK REPLICA was out of sight. We were teenagers and we loved how weird that was. Don an environmentalist? Most certainly. About half the songs in his oeuvre are about concerns for the health of the planet and the natural world and the animals. But, even with that, he wasn’t usual. His involvement with the natural world was mostly as an observer. I can’t see Don going backpacking, the notion is laughable, it would take Don all day just to walk a mile! He’d stop at every bug and plant and flower and bird and absorb. He had empathy. He could go into raptures telling you about the whales he saw off the coast of Northern California. You have to remember how bad smog was in L.A. those days. It was hard to ignore the impending environmental catastrophe around the corner.

Andy Munz and his untitled oil painting with our great friend Barry Hall's toes ---- 1971 ---- photo by MW

Andy Munz and his untitled oil painting with our great friend Barry Hall’s toes —- 1971 —- photo by MW

Another one of Andy Munz's moonscapes ---- 1971 ---- photo by MW

Another one of Andy Munz’s moonscapes —- 1971 —- photo by MW

Andy Munz's studio 1971 Upland California and two of his paintings ---- photo by MW

Andy Munz’s studio 1971 Upland California and two of his paintings —- photo by MW

Andy Munz's studio in his bedroom at his folks place ---- What are the odds that you'd meet a like-minded artist-hiker in the next block over in the suburbs of middle class Southern California? 1971 photo by Mark Weber

Andy Munz’s studio in his bedroom at his folks place —- What are the odds that you’d meet a like-minded artist-hiker in the next block over in the suburbs of middle class Southern California? 1971 photo by Mark Weber

My hiking partner for years & years, the painter/metal sculptor artist ANDY MUNZ, who now lives in a cabin in the Rocky Mountains ---- This shot 1971 Upland California, that's my folk's house on the left and St Mark's Presbyterian Church was just going in obscuring our view of San Gabriel Mts behind ---- that's the tip of Ontario Peak and Cucamonga Peak ---- photo by MW

My hiking partner for years & years, the painter/metal sculptor artist ANDY MUNZ, who now lives in a cabin in the Rocky Mountains —- This shot 1971 Upland California, that’s my folk’s house on the left and St Mark’s Presbyterian Church was just going in obscuring our view of San Gabriel Mts behind —- that’s the tip of Ontario Peak and Cucamonga Peak —- photo by MW

That's me with my beloved Hardy Boots (I wish they still made those) 1971 with two of my can paintings that were in process ---- Some of the beer cans we had drank ourselves but mostly we gather'd them from under the pepper tree where the Braceros used to drink in Los Olivos neighborhood a few blocks away ---- I was way into Abstract Expressionism those years

That’s me with my beloved Hardy Boots (I wish they still made those) 1971 with two of my can paintings that were in process —- Some of the beer cans we had drank ourselves but mostly we gather’d them from under the pepper tree where the Braceros used to drink in Los Olivos neighborhood a few blocks away —- I was way into Abstract Expressionism those years

Now, I don’t want to leave the impression that Don and I were close friends. I was merely a young boho who recognized a fellow with the same interests and always made my way backstage to say Hi and maybe ask a question, or tell him I caught the reference to Otis Rush in his set, to which his eyes would light up with childish wonder and say, “Yeh, the Cobra sides,” emphasized with overtones of the animal kingdom. The way he twisted words. (Otis Rush 1950s Chicago blues 45s were on the Cobra label —- Us record collectors called “sides,” a term long fallen into disuse, only used now among us nuts). I was a fellow believer. I supported his manner of being. And so we were friends. A year or two might pass between but he always remember’d me. Zoot Horn Rollo says as much in his memoir LUNAR NOTES page 42 “He had an amazing memory for people. He only had to meet them a couple times and then ten years later he would be able to remember what they had talked about and strike up a conversation about the very same subject.” I was just a young guy who was interested, bought all his records, in fact, I was part of the demographic he always bemoaned, he said to me that his audiences were all guys, it bothered him. Another connection we had, under the skin, was that we were both born and bred Southern Californians, and lived the consequences of such things like the John Birch Society and Reagan and the stiff staid culture that hated anybody not in step. And I do mean “hated.” That’s not to say that L.A. didn’t have its eccentrics.

First time I ever heard the word “copacetic” was watching Frank and Don banter it back & forth at the BONGO FURY rehearsal.

When I first ventured into L.A. out of the suburbs (1969 age 16) I drove straight to Hollywood Blvd and then to Sunset Blvd expecting to find a lively scene. So, I was not a little bit surprised instead to encounter winos and oddballs and desolation. L.A. had a lot more eccentrics, then. Maybe TV and the Internet has homogenized us all into sameness? I am me and you are me and we are all together?

Anyway, these are just my reflections. Purely personal.

Self-portrait with two of my sculptures "George Washington Crossing the Delaware" (the silver one), and "Neon Meate Dream of a Octafish" (title borrowed from Capt Beefheart) 1971 ---- and a can painting of mine that no longer exists as far as I know

Self-portrait with two of my sculptures “George Washington Crossing the Delaware” (the silver one), and “Neon Meate Dream of a Octafish” (title borrowed from Capt Beefheart) 1971 —- and a can painting of mine that no longer exists as far as I know

It was after the BONGO FURY concert in Claremont CA that I told Don how much I dug his soprano solo (with a huge screen of aquamarine greenish blue projected behind him, while the band riffed an elongated background for him). He said, “Yeh, I was thinking of a pterodactyl floating over a forest.” Zappa didn’t keep any of that for the album. That was the night Don read a few poems to me, all of them written out in capital letters by his wife Jan, the one that stood out was a riddle that coalesced at the end to be about a blind guy selling pencils on the sidewalk, amazing! Told me he had a sea chest full of these. When I enthused that he should get them published in a book, he held up the V sign and said, “I’m waiting for this to be over,” meaning the peace-love ethos he didn’t want to be associated with. “If you want to be a different fish, you gotta jump out of the school,” his oft repeated defiance. I offered him some red wine and he said he couldn’t, that he had a long drive back to Lancaster, and the cops would get him, “Captain! Captain! We got Captain Beefheart!” he acted out the scenario of being pulled over and arrested.

This is a great documentary, one of the best I’ve seen on Beefheart and his world. After watching I immediately bought John Drumbo French’s book ($95 expensive but 880 pages) he was so articulate all through this flick. And I can heartily recommend guitarist Bill Harkleroad (Zoot Horn Rollo)’s book LUNAR NOTES (he hates THE SPOTLIGHT KID and loves the follow-up album CLEAR SPOT, but, man, I like them both, a lot). And then there’s Mike Barnes’ monumental biography that precludes anything else I could say.

Maybe it’s Antediluvian Blues? Telepathic. “I’m gonna take up with a mermaid!” he just sang from my stereo.

One time the first thing he said to me was: “Where were you? I didn’t see you at the Harry Partch concert!” Danlee Mitchell had mounted a major concert at UCLA Royce Hall with Partch’s original instruments. (I was in jail for a minute, and missed it. Thank you L.A. jackboot cops.)

I doubt Don listen’d to much of the pop music prevalent during the 60s or 70s, some of it I suspect he would have liked, like “Psychotic Reaction,” “Are You Gonna Be There at the Love In?” and “Dirty Water,” but then, he wasn’t too charitable regarding the scene. His own music could be vicious and malevolent, savage, fulminating menace, thundering against humanity.

He might be misanthropic but never nihilistic, he abhorred what the industrial revolution was doing to the planet and blamed mankind, but he was still too soft-hearted at core to be a nihilist. I doubt he thought favorably of the mid-70s blossoming Punk scene and their destructive manifesto. (Maybe I’m wrong but punks seemed like they hated everything.)

Another interesting point one of the authors made, and it has some truth to it I believe, is that Zappa was jealous of Don and did his best to be as weird as Don but Don was preternaturally born that way, something impossible to imitate, although, one, Methyl Ethyl mer Man, with total respect nailed Don perfectly. I got a good laugh out of it:

“Ah hero ism pop weasel killing floor show down to a groove a BASF encore wounds elastic cheap plastic gimme lack o’people no more mo more show me your interior I’ll give you my cuffs…had to come out Ramadan to review. Dug the buckwheat Charade but so southern Had ti hiccup in Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s horn. Why did it suck, baby? Coz times were toinin’ in a bad wally. I was downbeat and beat too, already diggin Bitche’s Brew and Moicury put out such a recycled poly vinyl chloride disk, I neva hoid “New Electric Ride” or “rock n roland’s evil house pillory.” Through snuff and hooch I bought this thing this cadaver but it weren’t blues boogie boy, it was this hoitin hologram betrayal at sub-continental drift. Hark I see Jesus and bread too, my muffin hast come unglued. Thanks for the thimnk the gimmicks I’m sick. I disqualify my credibility as a review.er.” ——2014 Amazon review of BLUEJEANS

Every period of Don’s 17 years in music is interesting, even those two albums most devotees hold in abeyance. But, as time and reflection works on my head I really love the 1967-1968 albums SAFE AS MILK, STRICTLY PERSONAL, and MIRROR MAN. Check out “Plastic Factory,” that’ll get you hopping like jumping an old Ford with 120 volts (I used to do this, in a pinch, jump it right off the house electricity and it was beyond crazy. Talk about a jump start! That thing jumped about 10 feet!).

I wonder exactly what Beefheart master tapes went up in smoke in the 2008 UMG Universal Music Group fire? Because it would sure be interesting to hear a lot of these tracks before Don overdubbed his voice, just because the music is so interesting itself. And whatever happen’d to the first sessions for TROUT MASK that were recorded at their house? *[I wrote this before I found these first TROUT sessions exist on the 5-cd GROW FINS collection]

I want to acknowledge the various jazz saxophonists that Don supposedly sounds like, the notions being ridiculous. But, if one had to compare I’d say Marshall Allen from Sun Ra’s saxophone section (certainly not John Gilmore as one otherwise good writer avers —- We all don’t always get it right, me included). When I talked with Beefheart, I always wanted to know about his hanging with Ornette, and Steve Lacy. And our mutual love of Albert Ayler. But, his biggest admiration was always for Rahsaan Roland Kirk. I don’t remember hitting on Sun Ra in our discussions, that might have been prudent on my part, as he was often (incorrectly) compared to Ra. It’s like how writers searched for an influence on his painting style. Names like Franz Kline and Rauschenberg pop up and Don certainly knew their work but he didn’t operate that way. You could say he had the animal mind, completely unselfconscious of itself, and he just did.

As for metaphysics, he always stressed his reading the books of the mystic Manly P Hall. I had just read Colin Wilson’s THE OUTSIDER (a book that Jim Morrison absorbed) and was telling him about Jacob Boehme and Wittgenstein, all of which was of interest to him. Apparently, Manly P Hall spoke his language. I have to say, now, that it was probably his wife Jan who influenced his interest in Hall, having read the brilliant reportage at www.beefheart.com that she was working at the Philosophical Research Society library when they met.

So much more to say but I’ll end here.

In summary: Beefheart is not for everybody.

[14-20dec2020 and the story about offering him some wine was added 8jan2021 —-MW] *Posted at Psychedelic Radio Head Shoppe FB page in it’s earlier version

I guess if there's a frame on this one then I consider'd it done? Let's call it "Burgie" 1971 by MW ---- Between 1970 and 1975 I did easily a hundred of these Pollock-Rauschenberg inspired paintings ---- You want one? I have a vault of them!

I guess if there’s a frame on this one then I consider’d it done? Let’s call it “Burgie” 1971 by MW —- Between 1970 and 1975 I did easily a hundred of these Pollock-Rauschenberg inspired paintings —- You want one? I have a vault of them!

Hard to say what it was that grabbed me so much about the New York Abstract Expressionists, it was gritty almost negative response to the world, violent drunken splashes and slather’d broad strokes, pieces of gutter detritus nailed on in a swirling crazy mess, cytoplasm of the city, dripping detached boho desuetude, and still, it was perfection. It was like enlarging one square inch of a Leonardo masterpiece a hundred times to six-by-eight feet, those blibs and dabs and cross-hatches of Leonardo’s were abstract expression that somehow coalesced! They were beautiful and they made sense. At the same time I fell into that phantasmagoria I was listening to Stravinsky’s 1910-1913 period, Edgar Varese, Penderecki, Terry Riley in C, and all that electronic & musique concrete, I couldn’t afford to buy it all but I had Charles Wuorinen, Morton Subotnik, Xenakis, Stockhausen, KENNETH GABURO, Tom Dissevelt (my first electronic music album! altho, the track “Sound Museum” on Ken Nordine’s WORD JAZZ was in my ears first), on & on, and by the mid-60s the Beatles were listening, too, and adding little avant-garde snips on albums RUBBER SOUL and REVOLVER —- And Toru Takemitsu was big then, but it was another Japanese composer on the flip side of my Takemitsu album who flipped my lid: TOSHIRO MAYUZUMI’s monumental “Mandala Symphony” kaWOW ———– I was also devoted to Zappa’s early albums that had that existentialist ascerbic Ab Ex vibe (album cover art by Cal Schenkel!) those were my teenage years, but it was Captain Beefheart who was the real weirdo and got under my wig, back in those days Southern California was chock full of eccentrics like Beefheart, where’d they all go? I don’t mean ego nutjobs like Wild Man Fischer, altho, there were plenty of those types around, I mean eccentrics like non-conformists who weren’t “non-conformists” by design or postured philosophy, these guys were born that way, they had no choice in the matter, and Don Van Vliet was one of them, a very interesting guy.

Photo montage using mirrors by MW ---- 1971

Photo montage using mirrors by MW —- 1971

Window reflections off Neiman Marcus on Union Square San Francisco ---- August 1994 photo by Mark Weber ---- You know who opened the door to this type of shop window shot was Eugene Atget (1857-1927 Paris)

Window reflections off Neiman Marcus on Union Square San Francisco —- August 1994 photo by Mark Weber —- You know who opened the door to this type of shop window shot was Eugene Atget (1857-1927 Paris)

So, how does all this square with reading JRRT, loving Incredible String Band, Pink Floyd (first 3 albums), Ravi Shankar, Zap Comix, Muddy Waters, all the Beatniks, Grateful Dead (esp. 1968-1972 period), Eric Dolphy, and spending so much time exploring the Mojave and San Gabriel Mountains? Somehow it all fit together. As Walt Whitman said, “We contain multitudes.” It was the Sixties, everything was flowing together. All of which precipitated my deep dive into jazz and free jazz, all of which makes sense to me and put me in a perfect mindset to hang with Captain Beefheart.

MW 21march2021 Albuquerque

This is one of the very last of my action paintings I did (performed?) Realized on October 5, 1975 Upland CA ---- Untitled, could call it "Jackson Pollock's Thing" by MW ---- It hung at the jazz workshop The Little Big Horn in Pasadena from January to August 7, 1978 ---- You can see it in photos of Bobby Bradford from that time & place ---- It now hangs in Janet's home office

This is one of the very last of my action paintings I did (performed?) Realized on October 5, 1975 Upland CA —- Untitled, could call it “Jackson Pollock’s Thing” by MW —- It hung at the jazz workshop The Little Big Horn in Pasadena from January to August 7, 1978 —- You can see it in photos of Bobby Bradford from that time & place —- It now hangs in Janet’s home office

Hershhorn Museum ---- March 18, 1995 Washington DC photo by MW ---- That's obviously a Franz Kline and the other one is familiar but . . . . .

Hershhorn Museum —- March 18, 1995 Washington DC photo by MW —- That’s obviously a Franz Kline and the other one is familiar but . . . . .

Jasper Johns "Field Painting"(1963-1964) at National Gallery of Art, Washington DC photo by MW March 19, 1995

Jasper Johns “Field Painting”(1963-1964) at National Gallery of Art, Washington DC photo by MW March 19, 1995

View out back door of Jackson Pollock & Lee Krasner's home on Fireplace Road in Springs, Long Island (Hamptons) ---- July 1, 1995 photo by Mark Weber ---- Those were rocks Jackson placed in that arrangement ---- These rocks are here & there all around that part of Long Island left-over from the great ice sheets of the last Ice Age, what the geologists call "glacial erratics"

View out back door of Jackson Pollock & Lee Krasner’s home on Fireplace Road in Springs, Long Island (Hamptons) —- July 1, 1995 photo by Mark Weber —- Those were rocks Jackson placed in that arrangement —- These rocks are here & there all around that part of Long Island left-over from the great ice sheets of the last Ice Age, what the geologists call “glacial erratics”

View from Sandia Mountains looking south to the Monzano Mountains, New Mexico ---- March 19, 2021 photo by MW ---- these boulders always remind me of Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) when he was doing these Henry Moore -sort of sculptures

View from Sandia Mountains looking south to the Monzano Mountains, New Mexico —- March 19, 2021 photo by MW —- these boulders always remind me of Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) when he was doing these Henry Moore -sort of sculptures

 

10 Comments

  1. Kirk A Silsbee

    I didn’t know, until now, that you were so deeply grounded in Beefheartiana, Mark. You got a lot closer to the Van Vliet vortex than I did, but I can safely say that we went to different schools together. (After reading this piece, it occurs to me for the first time that my feeble attempts at poetry were all grounded in Beefheart’s word salads.) The painting at the Hirshorn Museum opposite the Franz Kline, is by Sam Francis. Like Beefheart, he had a California slant on Abstract Expressionism. Well done, Mark.

  2. Tom Guralnick

    Mark you are a treasure!

  3. Greg Cohen

    Nice piece on Beefheart. Maybe I told you these stories before, but we were friends when I was a youngster, living in Woodland Hills. My brother and I had a 1959 Studebaker Lark 6 that we bought for $150. Don wanted to buy it, so we just handed it over to him until he could pay ($100). But the money wasn’t there. And then, one day he told me he decided not to buy the Stude. Turns out, the advance money for the next record came in (1970) and Don, Mark and Bill all went out car shopping. Don bought a Hudson with a heart shaped back window! He just loved the way cars looked as art objects. I spent just about every night over there on Golondrina at their house (the old country club “members” house) listening to music. He played Ornette in heavy rotation then. Sadly, then paintings he gave us since disappeared. But the wisdom remains with me. He had many ants in that house. So he would go out into the garden (overgrowth, really) and create trails and little piles of white sugar. The ants follow them, and left his house.
    The day he moved out of that house, a young clean cut couple moved in, and asked Don “where are the kitchen cupboard doors? His reply was…”Lady! If you want those, you gotta speak to the Smithsonian museum!” He had painted on them!

  4. Rick DiZenzo

    Beautiful man!

    Fast and Bulbous . . . Got me?

  5. vinny

    Thank’s Mark, that’s great essay on the Captain!

  6. William Payne

    You are amazing!!!

  7. Mark Weber

    Another story about wine and Don: At the Whisky one night he was stage singing and holding a brown paper sack that looked like a wine bottle, which concerned me —– Don was weird enough without adding drink to the mix —- I went backstage and asked about this, and he pulled an empty pint whisky bottle out of the sack and said it was merely a stage prop

  8. Mark A Weber

    Those Beefheartian guitar duets/solos are the most:

    “Peon” (elec-bass-guitar & guitar) from LICK MY DECALS OFF
    and “One Red Rose That I mean” (solo Harkleroad)

    “Dali’s Car” from TROUT MASK REPLICA
    “Flavor Bud Living” (Gary Lucas) from DOC AT THE RADAR STATION
    “Flavor Bud Living” (John Drumbo French) from BAT CHAIN PULLER
    also from DOC “A Carrot is as Close as a Rabbit gets to a Diamond”

    “Alice in Blunderland” solo Elliot Ingber

  9. Mark A Weber

    Something essentially Southern Californian about him —-
    His frame of reference
    His locus operandi
    His search for a Promised Land
    A certain bewilderment that things weren’t
    where they should be
    In a land where dreamers and hucksters crowded
    the streets and television, opportunists, panhandlers, gold seekers,
    lost visionaries
    who became short-order cooks, grifters, snake oil salesmen,
    land speculators, shady types of all sizes

  10. Christopher Garcia

    in 1979(!)
    I heard Arthur Jarvinen play
    DALI’s CAR on marimba
    with Bob Fernandez I believe,
    on vibraphone

    but they never recorded it

    pretty sure it exists at CAL ARTS on their concert archives

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    there are some tunes on SPOTLIGHT KID
    that have Roy Estrada on them but he is not credited on the album

    specifically GLIDER
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBeRnqPOrSY

    and there is an illustration of Roy on that album sleeve as well

    Roy also told me that the first time he saw Don make Zoot and Mark fight on command
    that he and Artie Tripp had Don step outside and tell him,
    I don’t know what that is,
    or what it’s about,
    but it won’t happen while we are in the band

    it stopped

    called Artie to verify it and he did
    THANKS ARTIE aka Arthru Dyer Tripp aka Ed Marimba

    they also told me that they worked with Don and not the Captain
    i.e.,
    he was not in character at rehearsals

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “No one could FREAK OUT on soprano sax like Don…”
    BUNK GARDNER

    Bunk also bought his bass clarinet,
    the one used on TROUT MASK
    by the other cat

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Don was the ARTist

    Frank was the craftsman

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    apparently Don spent a lot of time in the bathroom on the BONGO FURY TOUR
    when rooming with THE MOTHERS

    pretty sure they said he was WRITING
    as he did a lot of drawing onstage when he wasn’t (actively?) involved
    and wanted some privacy

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    once upon a time THE MAGIC BAND played opposite
    JEAN LUC PONTY’s BAND
    and there were interviews with both of them

    but the press only paid attention to DVV
    with left Jean Luc Ponty not at all amused at being ignored……………

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “grand funk railroad will mean more to rock and roll then Captain Beefheart ever will”
    this was supposedly yelled at Lester Bangs by one of his editors,
    according to Lester

    don’t remember which magazine….

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Zappa/Beefheart Boston 1975-04-27 late show (concert)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZfQnyVe58w

    00:00 Improvisations
    01:16 Camarillo Brillo
    05:46 Muffin Man
    09:31 Let’s Make The Water Turn Black
    13:14 Penguin In Bondage
    24:09 Improvisation
    26:40 Debra Kadabra
    31:38 Band Introductions
    32:44 Poofter’s Froth Wyoming Plans Ahead
    35:34 Echidna’s Arf
    36:11 George Duke Improvisations
    41:22 The Torture Never Stops
    55:12 Marty’s Dance Song
    1:02:43 Montana
    1:12:20 Florentine Pogen
    1:19:36 encore break
    1:20:22 Willie The Pimp

    I believe he did a solo on ECHIDNAS but I might be remembering wrong

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    went to a DON VAN VLIET exhibit in Santa Monica
    (1980 or 81?)

    lots of huge paintings you could walk into
    but on a wall there were 4,
    maybe 6 paintings

    each the size of a stamp with very porous paper
    and they were EXQUISITE

    the notes said that they were painted with the very thinnest of brushes
    and done with coffee not paint

    have never seen them again on any site
    only in person
    if someone else has seen them PLEASE POST

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    just finished playing THE OPEN GATE
    in Los(t) Angeles a few years ago

    kneeling by my case packing away my tabla
    a woman comes up
    kneels next to me

    “do you play with THE MOTHERS?”

    look over
    don’t know her

    “with Don and Bunk, what is left of THE MOTHERS”
    i.e., still the same people just older…….

    “do you know Jan?”

    the only Jan that I know (of) is Don’s wife

    “you mean Don’s wife?”

    “yes, she is my cousin, and she is ill”

    “thought she was taking care of Don”

    “she was but now she has cancer,
    they have a nurse taking care of both of them now,
    PLEASE tell THE MOTHERS for me……”

    I did

    never saw here before or since………………

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    CAPTAIN BEEFHEART

    “one of the most important American composers of the last 50 years,
    a primitive genius, don’t know who he is, you’re not alone”
    DON VAN VLIET being interviewed in Los Angeles by Paul Moyers(?)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIlVXzC85TU

    In 1980 I went to the GOLDEN BEAR in Los Angeles CA to see
    CAPTAIN BEEFHEART and THE MAGIC BAND

    that particular configuration consisted of:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMkvw1lP8FQ

    JEFF MORIS TEPPER
    – jeff tapir / white jew * guitar * slide guitar

    RICHARD SNYDER
    – midnight hatsize * guitar * slide guitar * bass guitar

    ERIC DREW FELDMAN
    – black jew kittaboo * bass guitar * keyboards * synthesizer ** mandolin

    ROBERT WILLIAMS
    – wait for me * drums * percussion

    DON VAN VLIET
    – Captain beefheart * vocals * tenor sax * soprano sax * harmonica

    guest
    GARY LUCAS ** – national steel dualion

    I remember being at a rehearsal and stopping it to record this interview with my cassette recorder for posterity
    i.e.,
    pre internet, youtube

    yes folks, once upon a time we survived without these things…….

    I believe, it was one of, if not the last performance, he ever did in Los Angeles,
    although none of us knew it at the time

    he would go on to record another album ICE CREAM FOR CROW
    with yet another re-configured MAGIC BAND

    but they never toured

    I took 2 friends of mine from Mexico to this concert who did not speak one word of English,
    but I had been telling them about this amazing artist that THEY HAD TO HEAR AND SEE

    so they went with me

    and laughed their collective rear ends off in the best possible way

    which was very interesting since they didn’t “get” any of the “word play” in his lyrics,

    definitely music = sound, resonance, harmonic residue, silence= beyond words and language

    Don’s most memorable quotes of the evening:
    folks would be yelling out tunes for them to play,
    Don’s response
    “What do I look like a god damn jukebox?”

    when a fan would finish the next line of ORANGE CLAW HAMMER before he recited it Don pulled the microphone aside and yelled at the guy,
    his voice without the mic was louder than with it

    Don said,
    “LOOK, I have been me, a lot longer than you have been wanting to be me.
    So why don’t you be you
    and let me be me”

    after the last encore he walked up to the microphone and said

    “THANKS FOR COMING OUT, and I hope you all paid to get in”

    The Captain and his music have lived out of my speakers for way too many years,
    as has Braxton, Miles, Monk, Ives, Revueltas, Zappa, Chavez, Dolphy, Zepeda, Shorter, McLaughlin,
    and way too many more to list here

    such wonderful gifts from such amazing musicians
    my heartfelt THANKS for such incredible music

    A wonderful music of structured insanity,
    chamber music really for 2 electric guitar,

    electric bass drumset and Don
    an amazing artist

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