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Ghost Riders in the Sky

24 Mar

Sky 3I recorded a version of “Ghost Riders in the Sky” (see icon below). I always thought the song was interesting  but never bothered to learn it. Then my friend Tony Weisskopf wrote a parody of it called “Ghost SFPAans in the Sky,” and once at a party during ContraFlow I told her I’d record it. Which I eventually did. When we finished it, I thought the music sounded interesting, like a spectral stampede across the sky. I decided to record the actual lyrics to the music as well as Toni’s parody. The result is below.

 

 

GHOST RIDERS IN THE SKY

 

An old cowboy went riding out one dark and windy day

Upon a ridge he rested as he went along his way

When all at once a mighty herd of red-eyed cows he saw

Plowing through the ragged sky and up a cloudy draw

 

Their brands were still on fire and their hooves were made of steel

Their horns were black and shiny and their hot breath he could feel

A bolt of fear went through him as they thundered cross the sky

For he saw the riders coming hard and he heard their mournful cry

 

Yippie I A Yippie I O, ghost riders in the sky

 

Their faces gaunt, their eyes were blurred, their shirts all soaked with sweat

They’re riding hard to catch that herd but they ain’t caught em yet

For they got to ride forever on that range up in the sky,

on horses snorting fire. As they ride on hear them cry.

 

Yippie I A Yippie I O, ghost riders in the sky

 

As the riders loped on by him he heard one call his name

If you want to save your soul from hell ariding on our range

Then cowboy change your ways today or with us you will ride

Trying to catch The Devil’s herd across these endless skies

 

Yippie I A Yippie I O, ghost riders in the sky

 

Ghost riders in the sky

 

Credits: Dorothy McDaniel, bass; Chris Butler, percussion; Bob Swenson, vocal harmony; Dan Marsh, harmonica; Me, guitars and vocal.

 

 

Good Rockin: The McDaniels on DBX

19 Feb

 

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Dorothy and I returned to our favorite radio station WDBX for an hour set back in December. It was just the two of us, playinga mix of blues, country, jazz, and folk, but I’m gonna tell you, we were rocking pretty nice. There’s a recording of the set, below. I hope you give it a listen and use some headphones when you do. It’ll be worth it.

 

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Loy Addington

We want to thank WDBX for having us on. And especially Loy Addington, host of Lonesome Roy’s Country Hoedown. Every time  we get together with him, it feels like a
party to us.

 

 

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WDBX in Carbondale, IL

 

 

 

 

Ghost SFPAns in The Sky

15 Feb

I’m posting audio below of a filk song Toni Weisskopf wrote to be sung to the tune of “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” The lyrics are below the audio icon, and below them a glossary to the various jargon from sci-fi fandom contained in the song.

I told Toni that I’d have it recorded by last May. The good news is that I’m not quite a year behind schedule.

Ghost SFPAns in the Sky

By T.K.F. Weisskopf Reinhardt

(after Stan Jones, 1948)

 

At DSC a fine young fan got on
the waitlist today
Upon a couch he rested as
He went along his way
When all at once a mighty herd
Of old SFPAns he saw
Plowing through the lobby
And some of them could draw.

[Verse 2]
Their hands were still on fire and
Their stencils made of steel
Their glasses black and shiny and
Their hot breath he could feel
A bolt of fear went through him as
Their comments made him sigh
For he saw the SFPAns drinking hard
And he heard their mournful cry

[Chorus]
Minac I owe! Minac aiee!
Ghost SFPAns in the sky

[Verse 3]
Their eyes were blurred, their faces gaunt
Their shirts all soaked with sweat
They’re writing hard to match page count
But they ain’t caught Lon yet
Cause they’ve got to write forever at
That con up in the sky
Al’s typer snorting fire
As they write on, hear their cry

[Chorus]
Minac I owe! Minac aiee!
Ghost SFPAns in the sky

[Verse 4]
As the SFPAns rumbled by him
He heard Ned call his name
If you want to save your soul from hell
From page counts in our range
Then Jophan change your ways today
Or with us you will write
Trying to match Hank’s golden wit!
And with Dolbear an Ignite!

[Chorus]
Minac I owe! Don’t make me OE!
Ghost SFPAns in the sky
Ghost SFPAns in the sky

 

Glossary

 

DSC – Deep South Con. One of the oldest science fiction conventions that happens in the southern U.S. Been going fifty-four years now.

SFPA – Southern Fandom Press Alliance. SFPA is a science-fiction apa (amateur press alliance) founded circa 1962. Members all send fanzines into the Official Editor (OE), who assembles them into packages called “mailings” containing one copy of every zine and sends them out to each member. Apas used to be the heart of much of the most exciting activity in sci-fi fandom. Mailings could run close to a thousand pages. Membership rosters were limited, and fans often spent years and years on a waitlist before gaining entrance into to the more respected apas. With the advent of the internet, apas have generally experienced dwindling memberships. And though most of the great apas continue, few if any have a full roster these days. In its day SFPA was one of the great ones, and many sci-fi professionals and well-known fans got their start in SFPA.

SFPAn – A member of SFPA. Pronounced Seffpan.

stencils– Mimeograph stencils. Before photocopiers and home computers, most fanzines were printed on mimeographs. The text would be cut into a stencil using a typewriter with the ribbon removed. The stencils would them be attached to a large curved ink pad, which could be turned by hand to print the individual letter sized pages that were fed one by one into an open ended tray that the ink pad would run over.

Minac – Minimum activity. In order to stay in good standing, apa members have to contribute a certain amount of pages. (Often six pages every other time a mailing is sent out.)

page count– the number of pages in an entire mailing or the number of pages contributed by a member to a mailing or over a period of time.

Lon – Lon Atkins, a long time member and OE of SFPA, who contributed prolifically, perhaps more so than any other member in SFPA’s history.

Con – Convention, in particular a sci-fi convention.

Al  – Al Andrews, a founding member of SFPA, good guy, and co-editor of a respected fanzine called Iscariot. Late in life he was gifted an electric typewriter by some of his fellow SFPAns.

Ned–  Ned Brooks, a SFPA member for over forty years, who was also SFPA’s official archivist. Over the course of his fannish life, Ned assemble a collection of tens of thousands of fanzines, which included a complete run of SFPA’s mailings. The collection is now housed at the University of Georgia.

Hank – Legendary sci-fi Fan Hank Reinhardt, a collector, editor, writer, active member of SFPA and The Society for Creative Anachronisms, and all around wild man.

Dolbear –  Dennis Dolbear, a fan whom I never knew, but who I know was loved throughout sci-fi fandom.

OE – Official Editor. See SFPA, above.

 

 

Hash’s Faves” Frank Kelly Freas

25 Jan

This week’s General Fave is the science-fiction artist Frank Kelly Freas, more commonlyFreas 1
known as Kelly Freas. He was an incredibly prolific artist; I’m guessing his science-fiction work alone numbers well into the thousands, of book and magazine covers as well as interior illustrations. He also painted the official insignia for Skylab I, more than 500 portraits of saints for the Franciscans, and numerous cover paintings for Mad Magazine (although Norman Mingo was the more-or-less official artist for Alfred E. Neuman’s likeness, Freas did quite a lot of Neuman covers, and they’re every bit as good as Mingo’s).

Although I’m guessing I saw many of those Mad covers, I didn’t really Freas_2become aware of Freas’ work until I saw his cover for Analog Magazine in May of 1967. I had been a science-fiction reader (hardcore fans almost NEVER call it “sci-fi”) since I was very young; I think Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time was my first, checked out from my grammar school’s reading room in 1962, followed by *Andre Norton’s Daybreak 2250 A.D.,* purchased from a mail-order book club. I wasn’t into the magazines so much, but some thing about Freas’ cover painting compelled me to buy this one; I have no memory whatsoever of the story that it illustrated.

Born in 1922, he sold his first magazine cover painting to the venerable Weird Tales in 1950. Gnome Press published Freas_3three book covers in 1952, and he started working for Astounding Science Fiction magazine in 1953; Astounding changed its name to Analog and Freas worked for them until 2003. He started working for Mad in 1957, and painted most of their covers until 1962, which would have been right around the time that I started reading the magazine. He also painted hundreds of covers for the paperback publishers Ace, DAW, Signet, Avon, Ballantine and Lancer.

His style is instantly recognizable. His draftsmanship is clean, and his color palette really made some of his book covers (more so than the magazine covers) literally jump off the racks. His black-and-white work was always beautiful as well; he had a technique that I especially
Freas_4jpgloved, pen and ink on a textured illustration board that used to be called either Ross board or coquille board; sports cartoonists used to use the technique a lot. After the
main illustration was done with the brush, he’s go over it and add shade values with a lithographic crayon. He also did a lot of scratchboard work, as well as straight-ahead pen and ink.

Like all artists, he had some visual tropes – the Kelly Freas spaceship, which owed a lot to the kind of streamlined spaceships drawn by Flash Gordon artist Mac Raboy; futuristic cities and space stations; robots; and of course, sexy (and usually scantily clad) women. Good lord, those Kelly Freas women! But like all artists, great and not-so, every once in a while he painted something that was completely uncharacteristic, like these cute lil’ creatures:

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He was nominated for the annual Hugo Award for best science-fiction artist a remarkable 20 times, and won the award 11 times, an unbroken record. He died in 2005, and by all accounts he was a warm, humorous guy, a frequent guest of honor or simple attendee at many science-fiction conventions. He dominated the field in a way that I think no one before or since has.

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Freas_7

 

Freas_12

 

Freas_10

 

Freas_9

 

Freas_7

 

Freas_4

 

Freas_2

 

Freas_6

 

–Steve Hashimoto

This post is reprinted from News From The Trenches, a weekly newsletter of commentary from the viewpoint of a working musician published by Chicago bassist Steve Hashimoto. If you’d like to start receiving it, just let him know by emailing him at steven.hashimoto@sbcglobal.net

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Steve Hashimoto

Hash’s Faves: Frank Frazetta

27 Nov
Frazetta_CappThis week’s General Fave is the artist Frank Frazetta. I was going to describe him as “the fantasy artist,” but that’s only what he was best-known for; he also worked in the comics field, advertising, commercial illustration, and science fiction. He was part of the legendary EC Comics stable, and of what was known as the Fleagles, a loose-knit crew of young artists who evolved out of the EC stable to work on Mad Magazine. He drew what’s known in the comics world as ”funny animal” stories, as well as westerns, romance and science-fiction (one of his covers for the Buck Rogers comic book is iconic, much as I hate to use that word, but it applies); he was Al Capp’s assistant for 9 years, drawing mostly the sexy women in the Lil’ Abner comic strip. He also occasionally assisted on the Playboy comic feature Little Annie Fanny, mostly drawing Annie (Frazetta’s women were scandalously sexy; he always claimed that his wife Ellie was his principal model).
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He did a lot of work for Hollywood; although many of you probably aren’t aware of
this, if you’re of a certain age you’ve seen his work. He did the artwork for the posters, one-sheets and ad campaigns for movies like What’s New, Pussycat?, The Night They Raided Minsky’s, After The Fox, Fitzwilly, The Busy Body and many others.
Tarzan_Lost_EmpireThe work that catapulted him to pop-culture fame and recognition was probably the paperback cover work he did in the 60’s and 70’s, for Ace books’ Edgar Rice Burroughs editions (Tarzan, John Carter, etc.) and the Lancer books Conan series.
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In the opinion of many, myself included, the Conan covers were his best work, especially the very first one in the series, Conan The Adventurer.

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He also did some very good work for Warren Magazines’ _Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella._
By all accounts he was a real mensch. He dominated the field for at least two decades. His philosophy and style fell out of favor in the 90’s and early ‘aughts, a period in which, in my humble opinion, typography went to hell in a handbasket. But I’ve tried to carry the torch in my own humble way…
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The recognition he got for this work resulted in some high-visibility advertising and album cover work in the 80’s and 90’s, but he had some health problems as a result of long-term poisoning by the fumes from the kind of turpentine he used in his studio, and unfortunately some of his work during the 90’s especially had lost the indefinable magic that his mid-period paintings had. He also suffered a stroke that left his right arm almost completely paralyzed; he taught himself to paint with his left hand, but I don’t know how that worked out, since I don’t believe I’ve seen any of his work from this period. The last years of his life were fairly tragic. Along with his health problems (he had always been a rugged, active athlete, once having actually been scouted by the New York Giants), his lifelong companion Ellie died in 2009. Later that year his son, Frank Jr., was arrested for attempting to steal 90 of Frazetta’s paintings from the Frazetta Museum in Pennsylvania (charges were eventually dropped). And finally, on May 10,2010, Frazetta died.

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Frazetta was the Charlie Parker/Coltrane/Bill Evans/Jaco of the fantasy art field; after his Conan covers appeared, his influence could be seen everywhere. Some of the young artists whose work closely resembled Frazetta, like Jeff Jones and Berni Wrightson, were eventually able to break free and find their own styles, while others like Boris Vallejo and Mike Hoffman became almost exact clones (not the worst thing to be, I guess). I must admit that when I thought I’d like to be a comics artist, the two stories that I actually had published (in a fanzine that I was the art director of; yeah, nepotism at its finest) bear Frazetta’s stamp to an embarrassing degree (I even styled my signature from those days after his). Thankfully, the only copies of those magazines that now exist are buried here in Hashimotoville, never to be seen by prying eyes.

Frank’s work isn’t perfect; it pains me to say that, but it’s true. Sometimes his anatomy gets a little wonky; I don’t think he ever formally studied anatomy, as in dissecting cadavers (just as he used Ellie as his primary female model, Ellie said that he used himself as his male model). His mentor, Roy G. Krenkel, did, I think; Roy’s figures always look alive and fluid, whereas sometimes Frank’s can be stiff, and sometimes if you really look carefully, limbs can look out of place, and there are funny lumps. But that’s only occasionally (Wally Wood, another of my favorite artists, also sometimes had weird anatomy). Frank was a child prodigy, the story being that he attended the Brooklyn Academy of Arts at age 8, which was run by an instructor named Michael Falanga. I think Falanga was so bowled over by the kid’s precocity that he let Frank get away with murder, and even Frazetta admits that he didn’t learn much there.

As with a lot of people with incredible natural talent, I think Frank sometimes coasted. But Frank’s coasting was usually better than anybody else’s flat-out running. At his best, his figures burst with life and have a tangible weight, but the thing that I think I love the most in his best work is the sense of mystery. He doesn’t feel compelled to paint every detail, often merely suggesting stuff going on in the background. The work of his that I find the least interesting, from his “turpentine” period, seems over-painted and over-rendered. But that’s just nit-picking and sour grapes; if I could draw and paint like him, I’d be one happy (and wealthier) camper.

This post is reprinted from News From The Trenches, a weekly newsletter of commentary from the viewpoint of a working musician published by Chicago bassist Steve Hashimoto. If you’d like to start receiving it, just let him know by emailing him at steven.hashimoto@sbcglobal.net.

 

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Steve Hashimoto

 

Midwest Action! reviews He Flies

12 Nov

midwestaxn_logo_200x200pxMidwest Action!, a site with some street cred around the heartland, recently reviewed my He Flies album. I probably won’t destroy any suspense by saying they liked it. Otherwise, why would I be putting up a link to the review  here? But I did think the reviewer had an interesting take on He Flies, and the site imbedded mp3s of of four of the He Flies package v4.2.inddalbum’s songs. I was also surprised to see which four they chose to imbed. Anyhow, the review’s at: Midwest Action!

True Colors by Gina Clowes

29 Oct

The following review originally appeared as a Facebook post by Lew Hendrix. An accomplished player of the banjo (among other instruments), Lew gets just a little technical here and there for a non-banjoist such as myself, but I found the review a pleasure to read and interesting enough that I downloaded the album in question. (Of which I’m glad.)

 

True Colors, a review

Lew Hendrix

 

51GutcoITeL._AC_US200_I want my music friends to take note of Gina Clowes‘s first album True Colors. It amazes me, for there is something highly original here, something that I can’t see where it comes from, or just how it’s done. I knew Gina was a fine banjo picker before I got this CD, but it still astounded me.

When you hear True Colors, don’t expect traditional bluegrass banjo consisting of 3-finger rolls, flattened 3rds and 7ths, interspersed with a crop of standard licks. Don’t expect newgrass either. Of course, Gina uses banjo rolls, but also novel licks, pinches, chokes, and full chords whapped hard or expressed subtly where you don’t expect them. Still, these novel, unexpected, sounds seem just right in context. Gina’s vocals are interesting too. Her voice often sounds quiet, but she alters it to sound sarcastic, wistful, and the like, to fit the mood of the song. I find the music so interesting that I keep playing certain cuts over and over to catch a certain phrase, vocal intonation, or a gob of banjo notes and chords.

All but one of the songs and tunes are original. Some shade wonderfully into a different

Gina Clowes

Gina Clowes

genre, such as gypsy jazz, western swing, or baroque, becoming musical fusions. The lyrical songs are just as diverse in their topics and moods. The lack of traditional cabin-in-the-hills songs and only one love-lost song makes room for songs of positive love (“True Colors”), personal strength (“Puppet Show”), wife abuse (“For Better or for Worse”), finding God (“Looking for Sunshine”), and a bittersweet song of temporary separation (“I’ll Stay Home”).

Technically, the recording of the songs is great: Each instrument and voice comes through clearly and with much better tone than most bluegrass CDs have. Mark Stoffel is one of three people listed in the recording and mixing, and this sounds like his work.

If you don’t want to take my word on True Colors, you can listen to snippets on Amazon.
P.S. A caveat: I’m biased toward this sort of “bluegrass from a different mother.” My attention span usually ends in the middle of a traditional bluegrass album.

 

Reviewer Lew Hendrix plays a pretty mean banjo himself. Based in the Carbondale, Illinois area, he performs and teaches in that locale.