The Skull, Spirit Caravan, Apostle of Solitude and More Confirmed for Maryland Doom Fest 2015

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

There isn’t much more to the Maryland Doom Fest 2015 at this point than a list of bands, dates and a place, but that’s really all you need. In true Maryland doom style, no bullshit, no one-at-a-time teasers, just “here’s this awesome thing” and you can either show up or suck. The inaugural edition of the Frederick-based fest will take place at Cafe 611 and bring together a killer assemblage of acts, headlined by The Skull and Spirit Caravan and also boasting Apostle of Solitude and War Injun-offshoot Outside Truth.

To that point, while Maryland itself is well represented — Spirit CaravanOutside TruthIron ManWeed is WeedFoghoundMind’s EyePull, Daydreams with Nightmares, etc. — the festival’s reach is immediately wider, not only pulling in Lord and Valkyrie (the latter of whom should have a new album out by then, on Relapse) from nearby Virginia, but reaching up the Eastern Seaboard to nab Rhode Island’s Balam and into the Midwest for The Skull and Apostle of Solitude, who together supplied some of 2014’s best doom in their latest albums.  What’s consistent throughout the lineup is the spirit of doom. There’s some variety around sludge, stoner, heavy rock and so on, but it’s a riffer’s delight front to back and it looks like it’ll be one worth traveling to see.

I’m not sure if more bands are being added, but presumably there will be a change here and there one way or another — June 26-28 is a long time away — and if I hear anything, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, here’s the poster and lineup for the first Maryland Doom Fest:

maryland doom fest 2015

The Skull
Spirit Caravan
Apostle of Solitude
Outside Truth
Unorthodox
Iron Man
Valkyrie
Weed is Weed
Balam
Project Armageddon
Foghound
Pull
Mind’s Eye
Slaves BC
Foehammer
Season of Arrows
Lord
Daydreams with Nightmares

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-maryland-DOOM-Fest/815331421863100
http://cafe611.com/

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Wino Wednesday: Spirit Caravan, “Inside Looking Out” Live in Las Vegas, 2014

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

True, I said I’d hold off putting up more clips from the Spirit Caravan reunion tour. Or at least I think I said it. Or at least I think I thought it. Either way, it was a stupid idea. There’s an awful lot of footage out there of Wino, Sherman and Henry Vasquez kicking ass across the land, and I’d be a fool to not embrace it because I live under the delusion that anybody’s keeping count of how often one or another of Wino‘s bands appears here. Hell, I’m damn near three years into doing Wino Wednesday. Redundancy stopped mattering a long time ago.

With that in mind, here’s something a little different. Ha. “Inside Looking Out” was originally released as a single by The Animals in 1966. A couple years later, in 1969, Grand Funk Railroad took it on and switched the lyrics so it was talking about reefer, and that apparently did the trick in terms of making the song awesome. It’s been covered by many over the years and has a classic boogie riff with some start-stops, and anytime Wino and Sherm want to share vocals, that’s cool by me. At about the halfway point in the video, right before the solo, the dude filming decides to throw the horns right at the bottom of the shot. I kind of thought the song itself was making the point of its own asskickery, but I have a hard time arguing with the sentiment.

This tour wasn’t Wino‘s first experience with “Inside Looking Out” either. The Obsessed released it in 1996 as the A-side of their Altamont Nation 7″ on Bongload Records with “The Peckerwood Stomp” accompanying, and it was also included in their 1999 compilation, Incarnate, on Southern Lord, which made it somewhat more readily available. As you can see in the clip below, experience counts.

Enjoy:

Spirit Caravan, “Inside Looking Out” Live in Las Vegas, March 18, 2014

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Wino Wednesday: Spirit Caravan, “Brother Blue Steel” Live in North Carolina, 1999

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

We’ve had a lot of Spirit Caravan around these parts lately for Wino Wednesday. Reasonably so, what with the reunion and the wealth of videos posted from their tours of the US and Europe. I thought maybe this week we’d run with it but change it up a bit and go back to the three-piece’s original run. Spirit Caravan as a working band rather than the returning conquerors, playing to small rooms and caving in the chest cavities of those fortunate enough to be in the know.

In March 1999, when the below version of “Brother Blue Steel” was recorded, Spirit Caravan hadn’t yet released their debut album, Jug Fulla Sun. That record, which came out through Joe Lally of Fugazi‘s Tolotta Records, was still two months off. They’d been kicking around for a couple years both as Shine and Spirit Caravan and had put the track “Darkness and Longing” on a split with Sixty Watt Shaman, but their full-length debut wouldn’t arrive until May. It makes more sense, then, that Spirit Caravan would take on a song like “Brother Blue Steel,” which Wino originally wrote and recorded with The Obsessed.

It was the opener from The Obsessed‘s 1991 return outing, Lunar Womb, and it seems fair to expect that if someone’s in the crowd at a Spirit Caravan show before the band has an LP out, they’ve probably heard The Obsessed, so yeah, a take on “Brother Blue Steel” is understandable. While there’s always some stylistic bleedthrough between Wino‘s bands because of his tone and songwriting process, I still think you can see in the below some of the differences in character between the two groups, bassist Dave Sherman and then-drummer Gary Isom hitting into a bounce that foreshadowed a big part of Spirit Caravan‘s sonic personality as Wino chugs out the verse riff. For being the same song, it’s definitely a different take.

Hope you enjoy and have an excellent Wino Wednesday:

Spirit Caravan, “Brother Blue Steel” Live at The Caboose, Garner, NC, March 27, 1999

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Wino Wednesday: Spirit Caravan, “Dove-Tongued Aggressor” Live at Hellfest 2014

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

As an American, it’s hard for me to imagine the scale of an event like Hellfest, which takes place every June in Clisson, France, but certainly easy enough to admire it. The Valley stage seems to be here Hellfest hosts its Heavy, and from the likes of Black Pyramid to Neurosis to Unida, it’s a stage that’s been graced by some of the best bands the underground has to offer. This year, as part of their European reunion tour, Spirit CaravanWino on guitar/vocals, Dave Sherman on bass/vocals, Henry Vasquez on drums — made a stop at Hellfest as well, which seems only fitting. Wino had played there with The Obsessed a couple years back, and after appearances this spring at Desertfest and of course across the US, it’s a natural stop.

Perhaps it’s because I didn’t get to see them on their North American tour with Pilgrim that I’m so hung up on footage from the Spirit Caravan reunion gigs this year, or maybe it’s just that there’s so much video out there that I have a lot to choose from. Either way, the more the merrier as far as I’m concerned. The clip below of “Dove-Tongued Aggressor” finds the three-piece locked into one of their most satisfying rolling grooves, Vasquez killing it on drums as he will while Sherman tilts his head back for the ride and Wino stands poised at the microphone like he’s about to fight it. Very, very cool video.

The song was featured earlier this year around the time the US dates were announced and comes from Spirit Caravan‘s swansong 2003 compilation, The Last Embrace. It’s one of the last tracks they’d record before splitting up, and echoes some of the themes Wino would later explore in The Hidden Hand, but as they showcase here, is still definitively a Spirit Caravan nod.

Enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:

Spirit Caravan, “Dove-Tongued Aggressor” Live at Hellfest 2014

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Wino Wednesday: Spirit Caravan, “Dead Love/Jug Fulla Sun” at London Desertfest 2014

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Yeah, I know this isn’t the first Wino Wednesday clip culled from the video evidence snagged at this year’s Desertfest in London. Not even close, actually. But unlike Wino‘s sit-in with Weedeater (seen here) and his acoustic set with Spirit Caravan bandmate Dave Sherman (seen here), this week’s video is actually of Spirit Caravan performing. If that’s too minor a distinction, I apologize. Stick around and it’ll be something else next week.

For now, shot from the side of the stage in a rather nostalgic black and white, we see Sherman, drummer Henry Vasquez and, deep in the shot, Wino himself performing “Dead Love/Jug Fulla Sun” from Spirit Caravan‘s classic 1999 debut, Jug Fulla Sun. In a big way, the album would define the band going forward, and while their 2001 follow-up/swansong, Elusive Truth, brought new edges to the sound and they continued to progress right up to the new studio tracks they included with their final offering, the 2003 The Last Embrace compilation, Jug Fulla Sun remains a standout 15 years later in capturing the trio as they were in a natural, heavy rolling state. It’s hard to imagine the smooth instrumental “Dead Love” section and “Jug Fulla Sun” without each other, and as Sherman stomps out the groove in the early going of the latter, I can’t help but agree. Simply one of heavy rock’s best nods.

Spirit Caravan just reissued Jug Fulla Sun on a limited, hand-screened LP — Exile on Mainstream had them for sale — and they looked absolutely gorgeous. It’s a worthy investment as the band’s reunion continues and they promise work on a new album, which would be their first studio outing since Elusive Truth. More on that to come, I’m sure, but until then, hope you enjoy “Dead Love/Jug Fulla Sun” and get a sense of just how much vitality there is at the heart of this band.

Happy Wino Wednesday:

Spirit Caravan, “Dead Love/Jug Fulla Sun” Live at Desertfest London 2014

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Wino Wednesday: Spirit Caravan Live in Columbus, Ohio, April 2014

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ve spent probably an inordinate amount of time these last couple months living vicariously through YouTube clips of the Spirit Caravan reunion. I didn’t get to see the reformed trio during their US run — I expect if they do more dates, I’ll travel to wherever they happen to be that’s closest, be it Rhode Island or New York or wherever — and they’re on the road now in Europe, having first gone over to perform at Desertfest in London and Berlin before starting the US tour with Pilgrim opening, so maybe they’ll come back and do more, maybe not. I’m trying to be cautiously optimistic about it.

In the meantime, there’s no shortage of video documentation of the US tour to wade through. This week’s Wino Wednesday clip was recorded video and audio by Michael “Lucifer Burns” Lindenauer, and it’s the full Spirit Caravan set, more than an hour long, from Columbus, Ohio, at Skully’s Music Diner, from April 9. Pretty much any classic you could ask for — from “Fang” to “Cosmic Artifact” to “Brainwashed” — they’re all in there, and the three-piece of Wino, bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman and drummer Henry Vasquez were air tight by then, just six days before the tour wrapped at the St. Vitus bar in Brooklyn.

Spirit Caravan play this weekend at Hellfest in Clisson, France. On Sunday, June 22, they play The Valley stage with Unida and a slew of enviable others. I’m sure I’ll be looking out for video of that too when the time comes. Until then, and without knowing how long the Spirit Caravan reunion is going to go, if it’s going to result in a new batch of songs or just sort of wrap up and dissipate, I’m glad to have videos like this one to tide me over. Hope you enjoy and have an excellent Wino Wednesday:

Spirit Caravan, Full Set at Skully’s Music Diner, Columbus, Ohio, April 9, 2014

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Wino Wednesday: Spirit Caravan Live at Saint Vitus Bar, April 15, 2014

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I wasn’t fortunate enough to catch Spirit Caravan‘s reunion tour. Missed the Providence show by a couple hours as I was coming back from Roadburn — not at all a hardship — and as such, I was hoping the venerable Frank Huang would be on hand in Brooklyn to film the closing night of the tour at the St. Vitus Bar. As it happens, he got the whole set in glorious high definition, and the band looks and sounds killer running through classic Spirit Caravan material on the final evening of a long slog alongside doomly up-‘n’comers Pilgrim.

The circa-35-date tour began in Maryland, fittingly enough for a band native and so pivotal to the underground there, but I can think of few places in the country as appropriate for it to wrap than at the Vitus Bar. As you can see in Huang‘s clip, the crowd is into it, the trio of Scott “Wino” Weinrich, bassist Dave Sherman (in an Earthride hat, killing it) and drummer Henry Vasquez sound as tight as one could ask for a band who’ve been on the road for more than a month across the country, and if ever there was a Wino Wednesday video to put on full-screen and groove to front to back, this one might be it.

Spirit Caravan are in Europe now getting ready to headline this weekend at Desertfest in Berlin and London. There are other shows booked throughout Europe for the summer and hopefully they do more in the US as well, if not 35 shows in a row. Though if they did, all the better to nail down the dynamic and the better chance of putting together a new studio album. Of course, I’d take a live record in the interim, but until that shows up, I’m even gladder to have footage like this of them at the top of their game on stage.

Enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:

Spirit Caravan, Live at St. Vitus Bar, April 15, 2014

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Wino Wednesday: Spirit Caravan Honors Jason McCash in Tennessee

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

The Spirit Caravan reunion US tour is over as of last night, but I expect we’ll be seeing videos still coming out from it for a while. One of the best I’ve seen, or at least the most heartening, is this one from Tennessee. Playing The Hideaway in Johnson City just last week, Spirit Caravan bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman took the time to shout out fallen The Gates of Slumber bass player Jason McCash and say a few words about him and the underground doom community as a whole — subjects about which he knows no small amount, to be sure. Though Spirit Caravan won’t have had the chance, Sherman‘s own outfit, Earthride shared gigs and festival bills numerous times with the Indianapolis trad doomers, and The Gates of Slumber were always embraced by Maryland’s passionate scene — a haven of believers if ever there was one.

That remains the case, actually, since Baltimore’s The Sidebar will host a benefit for McCash‘s family on July 12 with Earthride headlining and Pale Divine, Argus and Beelzefuzz on the bill. It’s one of several tributes to McCash set for the coming months with the money going to his widow and children. More info on that here.

Spirit Caravan head to Desertfest next week and continue their reunion in London and Berlin. After that, it’s something of a mystery. Saint Vitus are set to begin their 35th anniversary tour on May 8 (dates here) and that will run through most of the rest of the month, and beyond that, I’d presume either Europe or recording with one band or another. The Obsessed are still ostensibly “active” too, though at this point that’s the reunion that has resulted in the fewest shows, sticking mostly to festivals in the US and abroad.

Whatever comes, I’ll do my best to keep up with it, and in the meantime, enjoy Sherman, Wino and drummer Henry Vasquez as they honor Jason McCash with “Fang,” which comes off their 1999 debut, Jug Fulla Sun. Have a great Wino Wednesday:

Spirit Caravan, “Fang” Live in Tennessee, April 6, 2014

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Wino Wednesday: Spirit Caravan, “Dreamwheel” Live in Baltimore, March 7, 2014

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ve been looking forward to this for a while. The Spirit Caravan reunion tour is almost two weeks deep into its month-plus run and video has started to surface of the trio of bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman, guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich and drummer Henry Vasquez – who came into the lineup late as a replacement for original member Gary Isom. I expect this won’t be the last time new Spirit Caravan footage is featured on Wino Wednesday, but if you have to start somewhere, the beginning seems like as good a place as any, and that takes us to the Metro Gallery in Baltimore on March 7.

Excitement is high at the start of “Dreamwheel” as Wino introduces the three-piece and succinctly puts it, “The past is the past. Right now. Right here. Spirit Caravan.” And while it’s also true that those who saw the band during their original tenure and with their founding lineup will continue to have something over those who didn’t, it’s a fair enough perspective for Spirit Caravan to project, since much of their vibe has always been rooted in at least an outward positivity. It’s also factually accurate. This is what Spirit Caravan are now. To his credit, Vasquez adapts as fluidly to Isom‘s parts as he did to those of Armando Acosta when he replaced him in Saint Vitus back in 2009. Word has been dropped of a new Spirit Caravan full-length, and presumably that would include Vasquez as well.

This clip of “Dreamwheel” — taken from the 1999 EP of the same name — is the first I’ve seen from the tour, but like I said, I imagine there’s plenty more to come as the next several weeks of shows play out. I’ll keep my eye out as ever, and in the meantime, I hope you enjoy “Dreamwheel” from the Metro Gallery and have an excellent Wino Wednesday:

Spirit Caravan, “Dreamwheel” Live at Metro Gallery, Baltimore, March 7, 2014

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Henry Vasquez to Replace Gary Isom in Spirit Caravan Reunion

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

What was to be one of the year’s most anticipated tours, the reunion of Spirit Caravan, took a hit over the weekend with the departure of drummer Gary Isom. Isom, one of the three original members of the band alongside guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich and bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman, announced his departure abruptly and just a week before the legendary trio were due to set off on their return US tour alongside doom upstarts Pilgrim, prior to heading to Europe for headlining appearances at Desertfest in Berlin and London. In his statement, Isom made it clear that it was Wino with whom there was apparently persistent friction, as opposed to Sherman, with whom he still plays in Weed is Weed:

Due to situations far beyond my control. I will not be sharing the stage with spirit caravan. any hopes of the fans seeing the original lineup of the band are all but gone.I tried my very best to resolve issues in a very calm and peaceful way and was met with extreme anger beyond reality.I, like a lot of people were looking forward to seeing this once shining example of positivity and friendship thru music ride again. me and sherman have been best friends for 24 years and remain so to this day.it doesn’t matter who wino gets to replace me. the band will never sound the same….. II tried my best.

One might recall that in The Obsessed‘s recent reunion, bassist Reid Raley (Rwake) took the place of Guy Pinhas, so I guess that’s just how it goes. While it’s unfortunate that Isom won’t be involved in the tour, and his departure doesn’t do much for the prospect of a new album, it’s been announced somewhat quietly that the shows will go on and that Henry Vasquez will fill in on drums. Vasquez is of course the drummer of Saint Vitus who came aboard in 2009 in the spot formerly occupied by founding drummer Armando Acosta, and as the leader of Blood of the Sun as well, he lacks nothing for either heavy rock chops or experience. Isom is probably right that it won’t sound the same as it would if he was playing, but it looks like it’s going to be as close as we’ll get.

Spirit Caravan on tour with Pilgrim:
03/07/2014 Metro Gallery – Baltimore, MD
03/08/2014 Strange Matter – Richmond, VA
03/09/2014 Chop Shop – Charlotte, NC
03/10/2014 Drunken Unicorn – Atlanta, GA
03/15/2014 SXSW – Austin, TX
03/17/2014 Launchpad – Albuquerque, NM
03/18/2014 Cheyenne Saloon – Las Vegas, NV
03/19/2014 Thee Parkside – San Francisco, CA
03/21/2014 Rotture – Portland, OR
03/22/2014 El Corazon – Seattle, WA
03/24/2014 The Shredder – Boise, ID
03/25/2014 Burt’s Tiki Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT
03/27/2014 Marquis Theater – Denver, CO
03/29/2014 Reggies – Chicago, IL
03/30/2014 Cactus Club – Milwaukee, WI
03/31/2014 The Fifth Quarter – Indianapolis, IN
04/01/2014 Outland Ballroom – Springfield, MO
04/02/2014 Rock Island Brewing – Rock Island, IL
04/03/2014 Fubar – St. Louis, MO
04/04/2014 Hi Tone – Memphis, TN
04/05/2014 V Club – Huntington, WV
04/06/2014 Hideaway – Johnson City, TN
04/08/2014 Pyramid Scheme – Grand Rapids, MI
04/09/2014 Skully’s – Columbus ,OH
04/12/2014 31st St Pub – Pittsburgh, PA
04/13/2014 Empire – Springfield, VA
04/14/2014 AS220 – Providence, RI
04/15/2014 Saint Vitus Bar – Brooklyn NY

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Spirit-Caravan-Official/684094061621546

Spirit Caravan, Jug Fulla Sun (1999)

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Wino Wednesday: Spirit Caravan, “Dove-Tongued Aggressor”; North American Tour Dates Announced

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 12th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Call it serendipity that Spirit Caravan decided to announce what’s hopefully just their first round of US tour dates on a Wednesday morning, and here we are, wrapping up this three-week Wino Wednesday series celebrating their reunion with the three studio tracks they recorded for the 2003 MeteorCity compilation, The Last Embrace — essentially their final recorded tracks. The trio of Scott “Wino” Weinrich, Dave Sherman and Gary Isom will begin their tour in Baltimore on March 7 at the Metro Galley – in addition to tour-support from Pilgrim, my understanding is Iron Man and Foghound are also on that bill — and wrapping up at the St. Vitus bar in Brooklyn on April 15. Between, they’ll cover coast-to-coast territory, presumably leaving Boston and L.A. for next time, before flying out to play at Desertfest in Berlin and London. It’s a hell of a run. If they’re not reunited yet, they certainly will be by the time this tour is over.

Check the poster for the dates:

Now then, we wrap up what became a three-week Wino Wednesday special with “Dove-Tongued Aggressor,” the last of the three then-new cuts included on The Last Embrace. Like “Brainwashed,” which was featured last week, “Dove-Tongued Aggressor” pairs a social commentary with a stomping riff, but the song’s twists are different both lyrically and musically, moving into its bridge with quirky starts and stops before getting back to the chugging verse and more open-strummed chorus. Like “Brainwashed” and even the more subdued “The Last Embrace,” which was the leadoff on the comp, it’s unmistakably Spirit Caravan, and as we stand on the precipice of their reunion getting underway, perhaps most of all, “Dove-Tongued Aggressor” shows just how much the band still had to offer when they called it quits.

I’m awfully glad they decided to tour. More to come. Have a great Wino Wednesday.

Spirit Caravan, “Dove-Tongued Aggressor”

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Wino Wednesday: Spirit Caravan, “Brainwashed”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 5th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

After checking out the track “The Last Embrace” from Spirit Caravan‘s 2003 swansong compilation of the same name last week — doing so in honor of the trio’s upcoming reunions at Desertfest London, at Desertfest Berlin and at Hellfest 2014 in France — it seemed to make sense to keep running with the theme. So after “The Last Embrace,” consider “Brainwashed” the second in a series we’ll wrap next Wednesday of the three songs from that MeteorCity release that pulled together much of Spirit Caravan‘s recorded output, save for the Dreamwheel EP, issued through the same label in 1999, prior to the arrival of the second full-length, Elusive Truth, on Joe Lally of Fugazi‘s Tolotta Records.

In both its instrumental arrangement and lyrical theme, “Brainwashed” is a much different track than “The Last Embrace,” which it follows immediately as the second song on the compilation. Centered around a nod-ready heavy stomp of a riff — the kind that bassist Dave Sherman and drummer Gary Isom handled so well throughout Spirit Caravan‘s tenure — it finds guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich diving headfirst into more grounded political themes than the epic framework of the prior cut. By 2003, Wino was no stranger to social commentary, having covered that ground in The Obsessed on songs like “To Protect and Serve” and “Streetside” from 1994’s The Church Within, but the lyrics of “Brainwashed” seem to engage directly with ideas of conspiracy, the Illuminati, surreptitious elements at work:

I’ll take your evil wind and give it right back to ya
Hungry buzzards are waiting on the grey fence of ignorance
It’s a classic case, they obfuscate, a brainwashed populace
Screaming crows and sirens, a normal world is crying
Bright bird of redemption, winged truth, with eyes of fire
One more fool, divide and rule, a brainwashed populace
You dance around the question, because the answers, you must hide
You crept into the dimension, now be lost through all time
It’s a classic case, they obfuscate, a brainwashed populace

There’s a better audio quality version of the track on YouTube paired with images from John Carpenter’s 1988 film, They Live, and that doesn’t feel like an inappropriate complement (I’d have used that one instead of this, but the clip gets into “9/11 was an inside job” stuff, and I wouldn’t want to come off as arguing one way or another), since lines like “One more fool, divide and rule, a brainwashed populace” cover similar ideology. Of course, in 2003, Wino would dive further into these themes with The Hidden Hand‘s debut, Divine Propaganda (also MeteorCity), so it’s interesting as well to think of “Brainwashed” as a precursor to that.

Enjoy and have an excellent Wino Wednesday:

Spirit Caravan, “Brainwashed”

Spirit Caravan on Thee Facebooks

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Wino Wednesday: Spirit Caravan, “The Last Embrace”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 29th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

With reunion slots booked at Desertfest in London and Berlin this April as well as Hellfest in France this June — nothing Stateside yet, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed — it seemed fitting to take a look at some of the very last Spirit Caravan recordings. The tracks “The Last Embrace” and “Brainwashed” were included as the first and second cuts on disc one and “Dove-Tongued Aggressor” track one of disc two of the 2003 MeteorCity compilation, The Last Embrace, which as the band’s to-date swansong culled to one place the bulk of their studio output. With material from everything the trio put out during what’s now become their initial run save for 1999’s Dreamwheel EP — their two full-lengths, 1999’s Jug Fulla Sun and 2001’s Elusive Truth, with some alternate versions, and songs from their early demos and split 7″ with Sixty Watt Shaman and the 2002 So Mortal Be single — it’s about as complete as one could ask of a 2CD release. As to why Dreamwheel was left out, I guess between runtime considerations and the fact that it was still in print on MeteorCity, they figured there was no need. Fair enough.

For the leadoff, “The Last Embrace” hardly hints at the tonal warmth and groovy vibes to come throughout. Spirit Caravan were always plenty heavy, but “The Last Embrace” centers more around an emotional resonance than a fuzzy one. Over acoustic guitar and a straightforward rhythm from bassist Dave Sherman and drummer Gary Isom, Wino delivers a subdued, melancholy vocal with image-based, almost impressionist lyrics contemplating time and mortality, maybe the end of the band. It’s a dark mood to start with, if a great song, but as Spirit Caravan were done by that time — Sherman had released Earthride‘s self-titled EP in 2000 and followed in 2002 with the Taming of the Demons full-length, and The Hidden Hand‘s Divine Propaganda surfaced the same year as The Last Embrace – there wasn’t going to be a more fitting title for their final release.

Whether or not The Last Embrace will remain that, I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Enjoy “The Last Embrace” and have a fantastic Wino Wednesday:

Spirit Caravan, “The Last Embrace”

Spirit Caravan on Thee Facebooks

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Wino Wednesday: Spirit Caravan, Live at the 8×10 Club, Baltimore, MD

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 25th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’m not sure when exactly this Spirit Caravan show was. Right before they play “Elusive Truth,” Wino announces it as the title-track of their new record, which will be out this fall. Elusive Truth was released in May 2001, which makes me think maybe this was earlier in 2000 and then the album was pushed back, but I don’t actually know that. The show took place at the 8×10 Club in Baltimore, and having just made my way through the whole thing, it’s a balcony-shot scorcher of a gig. The video loses its sync after about 35 minutes, but even then it makes a killer listen, and anyway it’s not that bad when it’s off.

Here’s the setlist:

Spirit Caravan, Live at 8×10 Club, Baltimore, MD
Spirit Caravan
Black Flower
Healing Tongue
Dreamwheel
Darkness and Longing
Retroman
Elusive Truth
Futility’s Reasons
Lost Sun Dance

Good show. You get to see Sherm step up for lead vocals on “Retroman” and though Spirit Caravan‘s persona was usually brighter, less bleak than, say, The Obsessed, a few cuts here sort of skirt that line. Still though, with Wino, Sherman and Gary Isom, you can’t go wrong. It’s worth noting that I am in no way over my excitement at the prospect of getting to see these guys play a show with their impending 2014 reunion.  Rumor has it some US dates are impending in addition to their previously-announced Desertfest appearances, but nothing’s official yet. Wherever they wind up playing on the East Coast and whenever it is, I can’t imagine I won’t make the drive. Hell, I’ve already got the car packed.

While I wait for that and the invariable new live videos to this series it will bring, there’s plenty to post in the meantime. Today is Xmas, so in addition to a great Wino Wednesday, I hope you have a spectacular holiday. Enjoy:

Spirit Caravan, Live at 8×10 Club, Baltimore, MD

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Wino Wednesday: Spirit Caravan, “Elusive Truth”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 27th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Well of course it was going to be Spirit Caravan for Wino Wednesday this week. In light of the announcement last Friday that the trio of Scott “Wino” Weinrich (guitar/vocals), Dave Sherman (bass/vocals) and Gary Isom (drums) will reform to headline the 2014 London and Berlin Desertfests, there was really no other way to go. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a couple US dates. I’ll travel if I need to to catch them on the East Coast, I’ll do it, but golly, a Boston show sure would be nice. Or a full-scale North American tour with new material in tow. That’d be nice too. Either way, really.

At this point, it’s not at all known how it’s going to shake out. April’s a long way away and a lot could happen between now and then. Maybe the whole thing falls apart. I hope not, but it’s been a long time since Spirit Caravan last played together. Maybe they decide it’s not worth pursuing and pull out of the fests. What will also be intriguing is to see how or if Spirit Caravan getting going again has an effect on The Obsessed‘s own reunion run. That Wino-fronted trio has been playing shows here and there over the last year-plus. Will they keep on as well? That would make Saint Vitus, The Obsessed and Spirit Caravan all active at the same time. Wino‘s never come off as a guy inclined to sit still for long, but wow.

Nothing to do but wait and see what happens. In any case, the reintroduction of Spirit Caravan is excellent news and I’m happy to celebrate it with the title-track from the band’s 2001 sophomore outing, Elusive Truth. Though the 2003 compilation The Last Embrace was clearly intended to be the band’s swansong, Elusive Truth was their final full-length, and the eponymous cut from it shows that parts of the album had a little more doom to them than the higher-spirits vibes that permeated Spirit Caravan‘s now-classic 1999 debut, Jug Fulla Sun. It would’ve been interesting to hear where a third Spirit Caravan record wound up sonically. Maybe we’ll get the chance to find out.

Enjoy “Elusive Truth” and have a great Wino Wednesday:

Spirit Caravan, “Elusive Truth” from Elusive Truth (2001)

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