Friday, January 25, 2008

The Notorious Amps Brothers

Update (2.4.08) - Since posting this last week, Tony Madejczyk has uploaded the entire Jan. 4, '08 show at his site. Go here for the whole show.

If you're new to the music I play, in addition to my original bands (one that plays just under my name, and Meltzer-Hart and The Hanks - my Neil Young Band is yet another hobby of mine), I am in a musical collective called Amps Do Furnish A Room. The name is a sly play on words regarding a Durham NC bookstore, plus my very real dilemma of where to seat visitors when they visit my small garage apartment.

Our debut year of 2007, we chose to rehearse and learn the landmark Marquee Moon record by NYC and CBGBs heroes Television. We gathered every Sunday afternoon and occasional weeknights at a house in the Duke Forest area to learn this complicated and beautifully complex masterpiece. We decided our goal each year is to play the selected album live a few times at the end of the year. We actually played the lp all the way through once in January, a few weeks behind schedule to fit it in during 2007. However we did play two other shorter gigs earlier, a three song sneak peek in March and a 45 minute set in September, just two songs shy of playing the whole record. Needless to say, it was thrilling each time to sing and play. I sang the lions share of the record, while bassist Jamie McLendon sang Prove It and Torn Curtain. It clearly made me a better singer and guitarist to tackle this each week with the likes of Andy Fekete and Pete Gamble sharing the guitar duties with me. Andy and Pete really possess the power and rock aggression that Tom Verlaine & Richard Lloyd brought to Television. Drummer Ken Friedman came out of a decades long hibernation to get back behind the drums and anchored our sound on some of the most challenging songs imaginable for what started as a Sunday garage band jam session. Bassist Jamie McLendon added a definite rock snarl to complete the picture.

Here's a youtube of one of the best moments from the January 4th, Local 506 show in Chapel Hill we played with Shalini and Mitch Easter's Guitars in the Sky (The Records) Tribute and Abby Pearce's Heart of Glass (Blondie Tribute).



More videos of ADFAR are here (courtesy of Tony Madejczyk and Andy Fekete).
And here (courtesy of Eddie Huffman)

Just last night, after many deliberations of pros and cons (who knows what album better, who is lukewarm, can we pull this off, etc.) we decided last night to tackle the landmark January 1968 lp The Notorious Bryd Brothers.

I honestly think this one may be as challenging to pull off live Marquee Moon. Luckily, we give ourselves the better part of a year to learn it in Andy's basement and at home in front of the cd player and the repeat button. The Byrds continued their trajectory towards experimental sounds (moog, phased instruments, baroque arrangements combined with pre- Sweetheart of the Rodeo country-rock interludes). They had grown very complex and dark indeed by this point. '68 was a strange year in every respect. It was only a matter of weeks and months after the release of this record that the Tet Offensive and the assassinations of MLK Jr. and Robert Kennedy occurred. Some have hailed this record as not only the original Byrds (Gene Clark had left the year before, but rejoined briefly for an ill-fated tour) crowning achievement but also the end of the innocence of the 1960's. Musically, there are some wonderfully freaky guitar parts played by future Byrd Clarence White. I believe he was doing studio work with them a good bit by then. I can't wait to see what ADFAR's Pete Gamble will do for this.

Since the original lp is just under 30 minutes long (11 songs), we decided we may tackle a few other choice Byrds tunes. When I mentioned the David Crosby B-Side Lady Friend, Ken's eyes lit up. It would be fun to work in some of Gene Clark's Byrds' best.

We also decided we don't necessarily have to ditch playing Television in the year we learn the Byrds. Once an lp is learned, it's gonna be a part of us, at least I hope so. If there's a call for it at some club, we'll do it some more. We're still figuring out this ADFAR plan. We're making it up as we go. Our friend Parke Puterbaugh teaches a course at Guilford College about rock music. I'd love to attend sometime. I've described what we do in ADFAR is like a graduate course in not only some of rock's greatest works, but we get to play them each week at rehearsal and selected gigs. I think we have something really special.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Electric Jet Ear!

I was doing some housekeeping this morning on some old emails that I need to file or delete when I came upon this long forgotten and very funny subject line for an old review for my old band The Brown Mountain Lights' "Late Show at the Cave" cd. The review url is

here is the altavista translation:

Electric Jet Ear!

The Brown Mountain Lights are a trio from North
Carolina that on his (live!) debuut "late show ate The
Cave" a crushing impression makes. The three people
concerned are Jeff heart (acoustic jet ear and song),
Janet Place (acoustic jet ear, mandoline and song) and
Greg Bower (electric jet ear and harmonieƫn). They
manage the klus however far from on their own. Clean
people from the entourages of Claire Holley, the
Squirrel usefulness Zippers, Chatham County Line (Ned
Durant and John delicate), Hobart Willis & The back
Forty and the Two dollar Pistols was prepared found a
nice hand to extend. Especially that last three names
will do pierce possibly a number of ears. And rightly
also! The Brown Mountain Lights sign country which
weghapt as first on food the resembling matter hand
range suffers after a long day hunger on their
eersteling for attractive roots. Enumerating the
speculators proves to be as a matter of fact Ć¼berhaupt
very skilful at situating the group. Just like Chatham
County Line for example we must trio also this in the
countryhoek zoeken where it is built with much respect
for the past to the way to the future. Beside a riding
freight own songs we find of this thus a couple
interesting covers of material among others peter
Holsapple ("Nothing are chignon"), gramme Parsons
("100 Years"), super songwriter Gwil Owen
("Tumbleweed"), legend more lester Flatt ("Get It On
Brother (Get in Line Brother)") and huisfavorietje
Chris Stuart ("Thibodaux"). With 19 tracks and wide 65
minutes music give to the album a good picture of what
scattered concerning two evenings in September of 2002
has taken place there in The Cave in Chapel Hill,
North Carolina. Roots, country and bluegrass mondden
in an absolutely delicious cocktail party which does
look out now already in abundance to the first studio
plate of the gezelschap!

Not sure what all of that meant, but at least I think I have the name
a new song (probably an instrumental) or an album name at some juncture.

By the way, you can still get this Late Show at the Cave cd (all of the now defunct band's copies are sold out) and my solo cd's Glances from a Nervous Groom and Jeff Hart: The Singles 1961 -1990 at Paisley Pop at this link.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Welcoming Rocky to the Band (plus other music news)

Rocky Colavito is Jim McPhail's band mate in Famous on Friday, a popular Raleigh covers band. he's a fine guitarist, singer and multi-instrumentalist. Jim of course, is in Young Neil & the Damage Done with Chad Johnson and me.

More on Rocky here.

Though he shares the same name, Rocky is not the baseball star from the 1950s and 1960s.

Our debut gig with him will be April 18 at Broad St. Cafe.

In other news, for my originals, I decided after some consultations with the band, to drop the name "and the Damage Done" from "Jeff Hart and the Damage Done". We decided it was just too confusing for music fans and club listings. From now on, for my originals it'll just be under my name and I'll post any news on this band's gigs and doings here on this blog and my myspace page. My Neil Young project will continue under the name Young Neil and the Damage Done (see us Valentine's night at Cat's Cradle).

Jeff Hart & The Ruins have been hiatus since August '07 (busy lives, growing families, demanding jobs, family illnesses, etc.). I've noticed they are still playing out a bit with their own self contained band (a covers band they have without me) Full Moon Pie at some of my old haunts like Flipside, so do go support them, they're a lot of fun to see. I'll be adding some of the material I wrote, recorded and performed with the Ruins (as well as my former band Brown Mountain Lights) with this new band.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Time To Lighten Up ... (for a change)

New resolutions for '08:

1) To use more capital letters on these blogs. I always considered forums, usenet, etc. as mostly informal affairs and the all lowercase format seemed ok. But I'm becoming tired of that after 13 years of the digital age.

2) To blog more often here.

3) To keep it light. I noticed a lot of my blogs have been about death, reflection and sadness. I don't regret the blogs I made, but I think I should not only blog when these bad things occur. There's a lot of good going on. Silliness, even.

For example:

My pals Eddie Huffman an David Menconi made me aware of a website called "Vinyl Sleeve Heads" where people place album covers in front of them to sort of complete the picture so it appears it has come alive. Some people have referred to this as "When Album Covers Come Alive".

An example:

And now one of mine:

The grimace must clearly be from trying to fit into jeans that tight. That's enough for today. I have more album covers to pose for. It's what I do.