Like the gloriously batty Whitney Houston, I believe the children are our future. Gotta teach ’em what’s what from the moment they’re fired outta the love cannon, nah mean? So rather than the inane tunes that comprise the lullaby canon, you should serenade your li’l sprout with Hushabye Baby, a just-released music series featuring gentle, instrumental renditions of country songs. My pick? Volume Four. Filled with songs by legends like Cash, Loretta, Waylon, Patsy and Hank, it’s completely free of gutless modern country. You gotta admit, there’s just something beautiful about a baby drifting off to “I’m the Only Hell (My Mama Ever Raised).”
Ministry will soon be put out to pasture, so a big pour on the floor, please. The industrial gods are on their final tour and the Orlando stop went down April 22 at House of Blues. It’s weird to be sentimental about a band responsible for an album called The Land of Rape and Honey, but hey, it was part of my adolescence. Algebra, clumsy makeouts and the jackhammering guitars of Ministry … sigh.
Al Jourgensen sired industrial metal as Ministry’s creator, so this marks the end of an era. At least they went out in grand fashion by resurrecting the chain-link stage getup that marked their prime era and doing a big Ministry balloon drop (four words I never dreamed I’d string together). To mirror the strafing sonic blasts, a video screen provided relentless visual bludgeoning with all manner of jackbooted, fascist images. A decade ago, such imagery would’ve seemed terribly old-fashioned, like some relic of the Reagan era or something. Bush, however, changed all that (thanks, fucker), giving Ministry’s message newfound resonance and relevance. Because Jourgensen relied so much on this yin to his yang, the twilight of Dubya’s reign is an appropriate time to lay the band to rest.
Seeing the old-school militaristic grandeur of Ministry’s stage show underscored how powder-puff their musical followers really are. Here’s hoping that the resurrected Revolting Cocks (a Jourgensen side project dating back to 1985) will sprout legs again.
Speaking of rising phoenixes, from the ashes of the great Austin country band the Weary Boys comes Woodsboss, who played the Copper Rocket April 23. With many of the same members and a set list that borrowed generously from the Weary Boys catalog, this new band didn’t sound all that different from the old one. And that’s not a bad thing. The charging bluegrass edge that the Weary Boys rocked has yielded to a focus on the more soulful side of country. The most salient and promising feature of their sound, however, is the golden voice of tambourine player Molly Salvi. She brings that perfect mix of sweetness and brass that all the greatest female country voices have. Just listen to their better-than-the-original cover of Dylan’s “Walkin’ Down the Line” for proof of that. They give her a starring role and they’ll have a great band on their hands.
Similarly soulful was rootsy Athens musician Bill Mallonee at Taste April 26. Though he was, by multiple accounts – mine included – a cantankerous sort, he did deliver a solid set in the great American songwriter tradition. Doesn’t justify being an ass but, still, a good performance.
That same night was the big Revolution Party at West Central Studios, an awesome compound of artists’ warehouses in the heart of Parramore. At first pass, the DJ-fueled party felt much like a rave, only with significantly inferior mixing than the teeth-grinding days of yore. But music was only one component of the event. The more accomplished aspect was the art. The most impressive displays were the murals on the buildings themselves, which boasted advanced technique courtesy of the Pintura Project’s International Graffiti Conference. As a celebratory nexus of art and music, it was a fresh, welcome addition to the scene. As an alternative downtown vantage point, it was an unparalleled setting.
The final significant local haps was the CD release party for standard-bearing cowpunk act Big Jef Special at Back Booth April 25. Seeing a band bear as many battle scars as they have yet still come up triumphant is worth a hearty salute. But pain’s an awfully effective route to catharsis, making victory that much sweeter. And that’s the sentiment that blazed from their hard-drivin’, honky-tonkin’ set, particularly in the burning performance of frontman Jef Shumard. That’s the way to do it, boys.
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