GARAGE | Leor Galil
Two weeks ago local label Priority Male Tapes reissued “To Find Out” b/w “Girl,” the only known recording by 60s Detroit garage band the Keggs, on vinyl. The long-defunct Orbit label released it in 1967, and the originals are extremely hard to come by—a couple years ago a shattered copy sold for almost $400.
“The whole story goes that there were only 75 copies made, and most of them burned in a studio fire during the race riots in Detroit,” says Priority Male honcho Matthew Hord. Further enhancing the Keggs’ mystique, one of their guitarists was supposedly decapitated in a motorcycle crash shortly after the release.
Hord first heard the single in 2008, when he was living in San Francisco with a garage-loving roommate, Benjamin Phillips, who played a bootleg for him (Phillips also helped fund this reissue). Lots of bootlegs exist, and the songs appear on the fifth and sixth volumes of Crypt Records’ Back from the Grave series, both released in ’85. Hord got the idea to reissue the single himself about a year ago, and used an uncompressed .wav file he found on a message board in 2009—making his version a bootleg too.
Hord did try to get the band’s blessing, though. “I talked to some juggalo on Facebook that had the same last name as the guitar player [Art Lenox],” he says. “He told me, ‘That was my dad. He passed away, but he wouldn’t care.'” To buy a copy, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
JAZZ | Peter Margasak
Local cornetist Josh Berman kicked off a weekly October residency this Tuesday at the Whistler, debuting a new quartet made up of old colleagues. Bassist Jason Roebke and guitarist Matt Schneider (who also uses a tone generator in this band) played standards in a trio with Berman at the Old Town Ale House on alternate Mondays from July 2008 till June 2011. And both Schneider and drummer Frank Rosaly worked with Berman in 2002 in one of his earliest groups devoted to original material. This band’s repertoire, Berman says, is mostly new—though they’ll also play some pieces he wrote for his quintet Old Idea, his arrangement of a tune by bebop pianist Elmo Hope, and a couple of overlooked songs by the great jazz singer Betty Carter.
A bunch of older groups in which Berman plays have new recordings in the pipeline, all due next year. He’s on a forthcoming album by Fast Citizens, whose revolving leadership has fallen to cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm. He’s also on the second record by the Chicago Luzern Exchange (with Rosaly, reedist Keefe Jackson, and Swiss tubaist Marc Unternahrer) and the debut disc by Ken Vandermark’s Topology, which plays the music of multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee.
Berman is most excited about the first recording by Josh Berman & His Gang, an octet he started three years ago to play songs associated with Chicago’s Austin High Gang—a short-lived late-20s crew that included Jimmy McPartland, Bud Freeman, and Frank Teschemacher. The band has only been sporadically active since an intitial flurry of shows, but following a string of gigs in August it finally went into the studio. “It started as an examination of this earlier jazz stuff,” says Berman. “It wanted to be something more than just that.” The record features three Berman originals and five songs from the early days of Chicago jazz (“Liza,” “I’ve Found a New Baby”), some of which are radically adapted—the group dispenses completely with the original melody of “Sugar,” for instance, retaining only its changes and form. And rather than trying to play strictly in the style of the Austin High Gang, Berman chose to include passages of free improvisation and postbop.
Berman’s new quartet has three more Whistler dates, all Tuesdays: 10/11, 10/18, and 10/25.
ART & MUSIC | Miles Raymer
Dmitry Samarov surely isn’t the only cabdriver in Chicago with literary aspirations, but he’s definitely done the most to live up to the image of the “cab-driving writer.” We at the Reader are big fans—you may have seen the profile of him in our recent Fall Arts issue, which looked forward to his new book, Hack: Stories From a Chicago Cab, or visited his blog of the same title, which the i>Reader republished on its site for a while in early 2010. Samarov’s writing has attracted the most attention so far, but he also has a BFA in painting and printmaking from the School of the Art Institute.
Samarov says he’s made much of his visual art with the local music community in mind; musicians not only inspire him but also occasionally commission him for album art or illustrations. On Fri 10/7 a show of his paintings and drawings called Music & Baseball—split between music-related work and White Sox-related work—opens at Saki Records (3716 W. Fullerton). The pieces in the show, which he created over a period of 15 years or so, include album-cover designs—some made it to print, some didn’t—and sketches of musicians in action. Among the acts portrayed are Azita, Atombombpocketknife, Rabid Rabbit, and randomly enough Edgar Breau, leader of obscure Canadian psych-rock rippers Simply Saucer.
The show opens with a free reception from 6 to 9 PM, which will include music from Chris Brokaw (Codeine, Come) at around 8; Samarov plans to have copies of Hack on hand to sell. The art will stay up till the end of the month.