Monday, July 10, 2017

The Top 100 (Remixed)

The Top 100 (Remixed) is a forthcoming exhibition at Tempus Projects in Tampa, Florida from August 4 until September 21, 2017. The exhibition, curated by Jade Dellinger, will feature hundreds of works from my Top 100 Archive. Jade and myself have spent many hours selecting and organizing works found in my studio for inclusion in the exhibit. It was fun to open box after box of old top 100 material and many half forgotten works surfaced in the process. Just yesterday I found in a bow with miscellaneous stuff this lovely portrait of Billy Karren. 
 Billy Karren
6 x 6 inches, oil on wood, c. 2005.
The interesting thing about this portrait is that I didn't know at the time that Billy Karren is a man, not a woman. I thought then that Bikini Kill was an all-girl band and that I was painting one of them. The Top 100 Remixed exhibit will be organized following thematic and topical top 10 lists. I selected this portrait for the Riot Grrrl top 10. Huggy Bear, another favorite Riot Grrrl band, also consists of men and women, so Billy is not the only guy represented in the Riot Grrrl top 10. About gender: The portrait paintings in the exhibit are about equal, where in the early days I painted more men, the last decade has seen more portraits of female musicians. The one top 10 that is strictly male: Men with beards. The portrait of Roky Erickson that I've just completed (see previous post) is part of this select group of outlaws and freaks (David Allan Coe is represented with a big painting here.)

Roky Erickson

 Roky Erickson
16 x 12 inches, oil on canvas paper, 2017
Roger Kynard 'Roky' Erickson turns 70 this weekend. Born in Austin, TX. Roky is a psychedelic cult hero best known as founder of the legendary 60s band 13th Floor Elevators but released, in a second career, between 1977 and 2010, a score of solo albums.  The song You Don't Love Me Yet appears on All That May Do My Rhyme from 1995. The song is clearly much older as Bongwater recorded a cover version of it in the late 1980s.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tomboy

Princess Nokia
16 x 12 inches, oil on canvas paper, 2017
"Who that is, hoe? That girl is a tomboy." That's how Tomboy by the Bronx rapper Princess Nokia starts. Then she goes on about her "little titties and phat belly" (both of which she shows off in the video for Tomboy) boasting about her prowess. Princess Nokia is Destiny Nicole Frasqueri, an Afro-Nuyorican (that's a new one for me too—a New York Puerto Rican) hip hop recording artist. Despite offers from major labels, she decided to do it all herself. Tomboy is from the mixtape 1992, indeed named after the year she was born.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Beth Orton

Beth Orton
16 x 12 inches, oil on canvas paper, 2017
Beth Orton's new album Kidsticks is already a year old. I had forgotten to keep up with the British singer-songwriter for awhile, it took an airplane ride across the Atlantic to reengage. The interactive media display on the back of the seat in front of me offered the full album which I listened to twice. Snow is the opening track and the one going into the Top 100 2017. Just as Cat Power's latest album Sun, five years old already, Kidsticks is a departure of her earlier albums and features electronics in place of the traditional instruments. The painting, rather slick for my standards, is larger than life. Portraits larger than life are rather uncomfortable to look at and I usually make an effort to avoid this. The last time I fell in the trap was, for some odd reason, also a Beth Orton portrait.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Ralph Carney

Ralph Carney
16 x 12 inches, oil on canvas paper, 2017
I'm always happy to follow up on a recommendation, it doesn't always result in me painting a portrait of the musician, but sometimes it does, especially when the recommendation was made by an individual who knows what would interest me, and certainly when this individual knows a thing or two about what was recommended. Jade Dellinger told me to listen to Ralph Carney. It happens so often that I don't know about a musician I should know about. Ralph Carney is a legend of the Ohio (Akron) music scene and made his mark on the mainstream music scene as a longtime collaborator of Tom Waits, and with the Black Keys, Jonathan Richman, B-52's, and many others. His solo work is indeed worth every second spent exploring. No. 1 in my top 10 last week is a video posted on YouTube called Lament for Charleston. The multi-track saxophone recording the shootings at Charleston, SC and was influenced by Coltrane's Alabama.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Bongwater (2)

Ann Magnuson, Kramer (Bongwater)
12 x 16 inches, oil on canvas paper, 2017
Bongwater was formed by Mark Kramer and Ann Magnuson in 1985. The LP The Power of Pussy is from 1991. Members of the band then included David Licht and Dave Rick. Licht went on to form the Klezmatics, Rick to Phantom Tollbooth. Kramer founded Shimmy Disc Records in 1987 and is an influential producer (Daniel Johnston, Half Japanese, among many). Kramer, Licht and Eugene Chadbourne were in Shockabilly, a band that under a different name also included John Zorn. A host of names there, a who's who of the New York music scene in the 1980s, all Top 100 luminaries. Ann Magnuson (see previous post) is an actress and performance artist. Folk Song, the next entry in this year's list, is an epic nine minute extravaganza featuring a sample of Roundabout by Yes, it closes the Power of Pussy album.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Bongwater

Ann Magnuson
Oil on canvas paper, 16 x 12 inches, 2017
One of most exciting music videos on YouTube is a recording made on David Sanborn's Night Music that ran for two seasons on NBC from 1988-1990. The program is known as "the greatest music show on TV." In this particular episode David Sanborn (himself a notable jazz musician) is talking to Bob Weir of Grateful Dead fame. Then the band comes up: It's Weir with the band Bongwater and the Pussywillows with special appearances by Screamin' Jay Hawkins(!) and Roky Erickson. After a crazy jam Hawkins disappears and Bongwater plays You Don't Love Me Yet, one of their signature tunes which is an original of Roky Erickson (of 13th Floor Elevators fame). Here's a link (I highly recommend viewing it.)

Friday, May 26, 2017

Cat Power and the Animals

Cat Power
16 x 12 inches, oil on canvas paper, 2017
Some years ago I wondered what if Beth Orton were an animal what kind of animal she'd be. I suggested she may be a crow. One year later there was a song called Magpie on her (then) new album. Now, what kind of animal would Chan Marshall be? Of course Chan Marshall's alter ego is Cat Power, but I doubt her spirit animal would be a cat. There aren't many of her songs in which animals are named. I recall (from the top of my head) the Werewolf Song, a cover of a Michael Hurley original, then she did Salty Dog, an old blues song but that one's not about a dog at all. The newest Cat Power in my Top 100 is Sad Sad Song in which a killer whale plays a prominent role. The credits are Cat Power's but the lyrics are, in good blues tradition, an amalgam of various verses, some old some new, some hers, some by others. The whale verse appears to have been written by M. Ward, a contemporary West Coast musician. I don't see Cat Power a killer whale though, perhaps a zebra.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Competition

Tumivut: The Competition Song
16 x 12 nches, oil on canvas paper, 2017
The Competition Song has now been listed in the Top 100 for three consecutive years and, because of it, also gained its place in the all time list of 500 recordings (going back to 1983). The performers are not known (to me) by name. I found them on YouTube years ago. I looked through all the comments to get information about their identity but no dice (there's one comment in which one of the singers is referred to as Charlotte). The comments to this video are mostly made by horny guys who get a boner from watching (deep throat singing is a favorite pun). There certainly is an element of eroticism embedded in the performance, and in all "katajjaq" performances, but it's not really sexual at all. The song is at the core (at least right now) of what the Top 100 is about; the search for the ultimate music recording that would illustrate the the essence of musical performance, and its origin. The competitiveness of it is an ongoing topic throughout my 35 year top 100 history, as the project itself is competitive—the ranking of music. The #1 every week is the ultimate musical recording (subjective). The video descriptor is: "Tumivut - Inuit Throat Singing - The Competiton Song at Aboriginal Day 2010 at The Forks in Winnipeg Manitoba Canada." The performance is not intended as art but it's a game. A lot of skill is required to compete but the outcome is objective—there's no jury—the winner is the one who keeps singing with a straight face, not missing a beat, no laughing.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Patti Smith

Patti Smith
12 x 16 inches, oil on canvas paper, 2017
To Patti Smith poems are like prayers. In an interview she said that she gave up on religion but never on prayer. Her song lyrics are like prayers, some literally so (as in Gloria). Some of her songs are introduced by a prayer and some prayers are directed at specific people. In her lyrics she talks to (and prays for) Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Robert Mapplethorpe, Patty Hearst (and many others, her Rock and Roll Niggers). Patty Hearst is addressed introducing a cover of Hendrix's Hey Joe, Brian Jones is spoken to introducing Lou Reed's We're gonna have a real good time together. Collected on UbuWeb are some early recordings by Patti Smith, poetry readings basically with minimal accompaniment by her longtime collaborator Lenny Kaye. These recordings are the groundwork for a series of highly important and influential albums she produced in the late seventies and early eighties.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

CocoRosie

CocoRosie (Sierra and Bianca Casady)
Oil on canvas paper, 16 x 12 inches, 2017
The sisters Sierra and Bianca Casady started CocoRosie in Paris, France, in 2003, when they were both living there. Sierra and Bianca were nicknamed Coco and Rosie by their mother, hence the name for the group that initially only consisted of the two sisters. The two of them made tape recordings in their bathroom that later became their first album La maison de mon rêve. A number of tracks from this album had been on my iTunes for about a decade but somehow they never made the list of the top 100 until the song Terrible Angels randomly started playing on my computer the other day. It was my friend Wim, way back when, who suggested I listen to CocoRosie, stating he liked them much better than Cat Power (who I was listening to a lot then.)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Zines!




Two new issues of the zine Ach Ja have just been completed in an open edition. Where the first three didn't relate well to this blog, numbers 4 and 5 fit right in. The latest Ach Ja #5: The Awkward  Relationship Between Rock Music and Art is full of text with few images. The zine is a material record of a talk that I recently presented at the Center for the Arts at Bonita Springs. Ach Ja #4: Record Sleeve Selfies on the other hand has little text and lots of artwork. The content is a sampling of the record sleeve self portraits that I've been working on since the beginning of this year. Several new portraits (not included in the posts on this blog) feature in this 24 page zine including this Bengal: Songs of the Madmen



If you're interested in a copy of these zines, shoot me an email. These, as well as the first three, you can own for ten bucks (plus some postage). Ach Ja: Surrealist Techniques; Ach Ja #2: Art and Poetry in a Hostile Climate; Ach Ja #3: Shamanism, Artists, Healers, Priests, have been produced in 2015 and 2016.