Posted in Whathaveyou on October 5th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
The 2016 edition of the Maryland Doom Fest will take place June 24, 25 and 26 at Cafe 611 in Frederick, MD. You might recall late in 2014, when the initial word surfaced about the festival’s inaugural billing, it was a complete lineup announced, date, and place, all done straightforward in the tradition of the style being celebrated. In that regard, 2016 will be no different. Festival organizers JB Matson (also of War Injun) and Mark Cruikshank have unveiled the complete Maryland Doom Fest 2016 lineup, and while the core remains very much in the region’s sphere of heavy downer riffs, the palette has clearly expanded as well.
A broader reach pulls in the likes of Mos Generator, Ruby the Hatchet and Hollow Leg, and while headliners Spirit Caravan are a returning act from the 2015 fest, they’ll be joined by classic heavy rockers Bang and Asylum (Unorthodox by their original name), ensuring that even as the Maryland Doom Fest 2016 reveres its finest exports, it pays strict attention to the lineage from where it all comes and the hometown crowd too. All told, it’s a wide-ranging but universally heavy grouping of bands, from the epic classic metal of Argus to the cult rock of Demon Eye, and while realistically there will probably be a shift or two in the lineup between now and next June — things fall through, people get added, and so on — it looks like it’s going to be a hell of a weekend. If and when I hear of changes, I’ll let you know.
Tickets are on sale today, and I’m honored to have my logo on the poster. Full lineup and links follow:
The second edition of a weekend of doom in its purest form.
We are stoked about the second installment of The Maryland Doom Fest with 25 kickass bands!
Spirit Caravan BANG Asylum (Unorthodox) Argus War Injun Orodruin Blackfinger Kelly Carmichael (Internal Void) New Project Earthen Grave Black Urn Doperider Mos Generator Hollow Leg Ruby The Hatchet Admiral Browning Pale Divine Toke Flummox Demon Eye Wicked Inquisition Seasick Gladiator Karma to Burn Eternal Black King Giant Spillage Wasted Theory
I wish I could say this was planned out, but the simple truth is that until last Friday I had no idea how Wino Wednesday would end. Spirit Caravan — guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman and drummer Ed Gulli — sort of quietly announced they would be playing new material at Vultures of Volume II, and it was just my luck that Project Nod Zine was on hand recording the show and twice-over my luck that they kindly gave me permission to host the video of said new material. The song is called “Be the Night,” and if their announcement of its existence was subtle, so was the way in which they actually went about delivering it.
No fanfare, no notice, no, “Hey, this is the first new song this band has written in more than a decade.” They played it first, sped through its two-minute course at top speed almost as an intro to the rest of their set, and never mentioned it again. That was it. I’m not even sure most people knew what they were watching while it was being played. In fact, the lack of a big deal being made was so fervent that I’ve spent the last couple days trying to see if I could find them having done the song sometime before — in case I’m wrong and it’s not really new. Somehow, that would also make sense as a way to end the feature. Well, I can’t account for when it might have first been written, but there doesn’t seem to be any other performance before this past Friday in Hagerstown, MD (review here). If I am wrong, I hope someone will point it out.
Otherwise, it seems only too fitting to end this feature at number 200 with new material, since if we’ve learned anything over the four-year span since Wino Wednesday started in Aug. 2011 with the Premonition 13 video for “Le Hechicera de la Jeringa,” it’s that the man is positively relentless. Shows, bands, reunions, splits, collaborations, solo outings, we’ve explored a decades-long career that has left an indelible mark on the scope of American doom, and we close out with the reinforcement that, as much as he’s done, he’s not done yet. Couldn’t be more perfect if I’d planned it — which, again, I didn’t.
When and if I get news of a new Spirit Caravan or any other Wino-related release, I’ll let you know. And I’m not going to say this is the last Wino Wednesday I’ll ever do, because who knows what time, boredom and awesome show-tapers might bring, but as a weekly regular feature, at least for now, that’s a wrap. Thanks to everyone who’s liked, commented, shared, or taken the time to read any of it along the way.
Posted in Reviews on September 8th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Some farms, empty strip mall storefronts, a Confederate flag here and there, and you’ve pretty much got the story of Hagerstown, Maryland. Close to Frederick, which is where many of the bands featured at Vultures of Volume II either make their home or at least play on the regular, the Delmar Inn was a little bit further out of the way, a little less cops-are-likely-to-come-here, down a long stretch of road running along a hillside. Vibe was right on immediately.
Biker bar, and bigger inside than it looked from the parking lot. Near the front, a big bar with plenty of seating, tvs, and the like, and on the other side of a half-wall, a couple pool tables. Another room to the side had more pool tables and places to sit, and in the back where the show itself was held was the two-tier stage, full P.A., lighting rig and the whole nine. A pro shop. The walls were lined with banners of acts who’d been there before, the drop ceiling low but not ridiculously so, more tables in back for those who’d need a break, which by the end of the two-day/20-band Vultures of Volume II, was definitely me.
It was a long weekend of rock and roll, but I knew it would be going into it. It had been way, way too long since I’d last been able to pay a visit to the Maryland doom scene and its familiar and friendly faces. Used to be every year, year and a half or so, but living in Massachusetts adds another three-plus hours onto that trip — while we’re on the subject of the Bay State, I’ll say that the Delmar had its shit together more than every single venue in Boston of comparable size that I’ve been to — so it’s been a while. Felt good to be back.
Friday night’s lineup featured Bailjack, Faith in Jane, Kelly Carmichael, Pale Divine, King Giant, Solace and Spirit Caravan. Show got started at 7PM, and I was there early because I knew I didn’t want to miss a second of it:
One thing you can always rely on at a fest like Vultures of Volume is that Maryland’s own particular brand of heavy — and for argument’s sake, I’ll note that Maryland’s heavy runs pretty much anywhere from Virginia to Pennsylvania, depending on what band we’re talking about — will be well represented. Following an intro from Wisconsin’s Mike Smith (he of the Days of the Doomed festival series), who was acting as the weekend’s M.C., dual-guitar four-piece took the stage to lead off the first night in deceptively intricate fashion. With three vocalists between guitarists Jason Barker and Blake Owens and bassist Ron “Fezz” McGinnis (also Pale Divine, Admiral Browning and about as bullshit-free an individual as you could hope to meet), and a distinctive split in style between the two guitars, Bailjack effectively divided their attention between freakout-led psych jamming and more classically progressive impulses, drummer Andy Myers holding the various changes together with Fezz‘s bass, which is about as much a staple of the MD scene at this point as riffs. No small feat to keep everything flowing, but they did it as arrangements tipped one way or another or they took off in this or that direction, only warming up more as they went, but though they ran a little late, Bailjack were a fitting leadoff for the night and a sure sign that we were underway.
Faith in Jane
They came very highly recommended, and weren’t five minutes into their set before it was very apparent why. Faith in Jane tap into that classic heavy rock boogie and pull off fleet rhythmic turns essentially without sounding like they’re breaking a sweat to do it. An edge of blues here, a neo-stoner groove there, it’s easy to imagine them getting another release or two under their belt (they have a slew of digital and CD pressings from the last couple years) and catching the eye of a label like Tee Pee or Riding Easy, and they’re young enough that they still have time to develop the potential they showed. The locals obviously know it. Looking around at all the home-made Faith in Jane shirts, I was reminded of the vigilant manner in which Beelzefuzz was supported during their early days (the two acts have little sound-wise in common, but that also was a recommendation worth taking). Until Spirit Caravan played, Faith in Jane had the biggest and most responsive crowd of the night, and it was well earned in their swinging groove, tight execution of a stay-loose sound and nuances like guitarist/vocalist Dan Mize switching between finger-picking and strumming his guitar or bassist Brendan Winston tossing off a quick fill in classic rock fashion. Rounded out by drummer Alex Llewellyn, the MD natives aren’t without room to grow, but already they were a highlight of the weekend and definitely a band it will be well worth keeping an eye on going forward. Their closer, “Stormbringer,” was a beast.
Only thing missing was a sample of John Cleese saying “And now for something completely different.” Kelly Carmichael is the former guitarist of Internal Void and also did a stint in Pentagram, but as traditional as doom gets, that’s really no match for his solo act, which dips back decades further to ’20s and ’30s-style acoustic roots blues. He covered both Robert Johnson and Leadbelly, doing “Preachin’ Blues (Up Jumped the Devil)” from the former and a prison worksong from the latter. It was a left-turn stylistically after Faith in Jane, but not at all a hard sell to the crowd that doom draws a line backward in time to the blues. People came and went, but Carmichael held a solid audience for the original “Salty Dog” from his 2009 Queen Fareena album, and had toes tapping all the while. An almost academic approach, but clearly driven by heartfelt passion for the style.
Hard to picture a setting in which Pale Divine could be more in their element than a fest like Vultures of Volume II. The stalwart Pennsylvania trio mark their 20th year in 2015, with original members Greg Diener (guitar/vocals) and Darin McCloskey (drums) joined for the last three by the aforementioned Ron “Fezz” McGinnis, who also adds backing vocals. Their 2013 demo “Curse the Shadows” (streamed here) was aired, as were “Black Coven” from 2012’s Painted Windows Black (review here) and the finale “Cemetery Earth,” from the prior 2007 outing of the same name. They’ve always been a solid band, but haven’t ever really gotten their due outside of the local area and the odd German doom fest, but with Diener‘s steady presence as a frontman and unflappable lead work, McCloskey‘s straightforward style and Fezz‘s rumble, they had nothing to prove to what’s essentially their home crowd, and that suited them. Two decades is a long time to do anything, and one hopes that with their impending fifth album, Pale Divine might be able to reap a bit of reward from the downtrodden, trad-doom they’ve been planting all these years. Fingers crossed for a 2016 release.
First two words in my notes on Virginia five-piece King Giant? “So pro.” And they are. King Giant‘s slot at Vultures of Volume II came on the heels of their 2015 third album, Black Ocean Waves (review here), which was accordingly their focus. I’ve never seen them live that they didn’t nail their set, and this time was no exception, though part of me wonders if maybe the flawlessness of their delivery doesn’t in a way undercut what they’re doing. People being more used to Southern metal that’s loose, not necessarily with as much of an atmospheric focus as King Giant have with their prevailing darkness, and between how comfortably they sit right on the border between doom and metal and the clear effort they put into how they present themselves and their songs — “Red Skies” from the new record was a highlight — I think people almost have a hard time believing what they’re seeing is genuine. But it’s not like there’s any money to be in it for, and a band like King Giant wouldn’t exist in the first place if their hearts weren’t into it, because why bother? With vocalist Dave Hammerly out front, guitarists Todd “T.I.” Ingram (also Serpents of Secrecy) and David Kowalski, bassist Floyd Walters III and singly-named drummer Brooks filling up the Delmar stage, King Giant delivered one of the most professional-sounding sets of the weekend until their set either got cut short or cut itself short — I never quite found out which — as the show continued to run late.
I was fortunate enough to have been there in Wisconsin in June 2012 when New Jersey heavy rockers Solace played what was then believed to be their last show at Days of the Doomed II. In the intervening three years, bassist Rob Hultz has joined Chicago doom legends Trouble and he and guitarists Tommy Southard and Justin Daniels have welcomed a new vocalist and a new drummer into Solace, with Justin Goins filling the frontman role and Tim Schoenleber behind the kit. I’ll admit that I didn’t know Solace had a (partially) new lineup until a few hours before they loaded in, and I’ll admit further that I had no shortage of sentimental attachment to their prior incarnation — in no small part reinforced by the absolute blowout that was their final set three years ago — but with Southard‘s unhinged guitar at the core, the newcomers Goins and Schoenleber (who’s an ex-bandmate of Southard‘s in Godspeed) more than held their own amidst the chaos surrounding. I went into the set wondering if it could even be done, if it would be Solace, and they proved that yes, it was still Solace, and that if they wanted to move forward — they had new material in tow, so presumably the answer there is also yes — they’ll be able to do that. As they started to wind down the set, Daniels teased they were going to do the last two songs and then take another three years off, which got a laugh, but it seemed pretty clear that’s not what they have in mind looking ahead. Another Solace record? The results were glorious, but it took them nine years to put out 2010’s A.D. (review here), and their bass player lives in Chicago, so I’m not going to hold my breath to have it materialize next month. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it did happen at some point, because only a fool would ever really count them out.
I’d never seen Spirit Caravan. Again. I’d never seen Spirit Caravan. As far as I was concerned, having them atop the bill as headliners was a big part of what made the trip so necessary in the first place. They brought their own crew, with Darren Waters of Weed is Weed and someone who may well have been Chris Kozlowski helping out guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, bassist/backing vocalist Dave Sherman and drummer Ed Gulli — a former bandmate of Wino‘s in The Obsessed stepping into the post-reunion role filled previously by Henry Vasquez, still in Saint Vitus — set up their gear. Wino and Sherman both had new cabinets as a result of what seemed to be a recent endorsement, and there were some technical issues early on, but Sherman finally asked to put a microphone in front of his bass cab and that solved it. They barreled through the speedy new song “Be the Night” first, almost I think before most in attendance could pick up on what they just heard, and dipped into classics like “Courage” and “Melancholy Grey,” also working “Streetside” by The Obsessed into the mix. I know Spirit Caravan is widely considered a “Wino band,” and Wino‘s the frontman, and the dude’s a legend and as the guy who’s about to wrap up a 200-part series of Wino Wednesdays, I’m not going to argue, but if there’s a singular passion driving Spirit Caravan, it’s Sherman‘s all the way. It’s just as much a Sherman band. If Bobby Liebling was the architect, (and yes, I know Pentagram were from D.C., but stay with me), and Wino is its ambassador, then Dave Sherman is the beating heart of Maryland heavy, and after seeing him for years with Earthride, he looked at home and gladdest of all to be on that stage playing Spirit Caravan songs. Already the reunion has had its share of drama after a fallout with former drummer Gary Isom, but between watching Sherman stomp out his parts or watching Wino turn around and smile to Gulli as they made their way through “Lost Sun Dance” en route to a cover of The Animals‘ “Inside Looking Out,” it was apparent just how precious a thing Spirit Caravan is to those who are a part of it. The house lights came up during the latter cover, which though it was late I’ll say flat out was a load. That’s what 30 years of playing doom gets you: the lights turned on in front of what’s basically your hometown crowd while you headline. Rightly, they kept playing, and finished out an otherwise excellent night with a take on The Obsessed‘s “Neatz Brigade” that seemed all the more righteous for the defiant stance it represented.
By the time I actually left the Delmar parking lot, it was 2AM. I drove back to the hotel where I was staying with the gentlemen of Elder, who were looking to go swimming, and while I appreciated the invite, I knew it was time to crash out. Saturday was 13 bands in over 12 hours, so every minute of sleep I could get counted.
That Day Two wrap will be up tomorrow or the next day. Thanks for reading in the meantime.
If you’re so inclined, you can go back through the annals of Wino Wednesday and find plenty of Spirit Caravan clips, but their 1999 Dreamwheel EP has never been featured in full. With just five posts left in what’s apparently a series of 200, there’s still some time to correct that and you’ll have to pardon me, but I’m going to take advantage.
Dreamwheel was issued in 1999 as the follow-up to the same year’s full-length debut, the gonna-be-if-it-isn’t-already classic Jug Fulla Sun. No easy feat to be the next release after that record, but Spirit Caravan — then the trio of Wino on guitar/vocals, Dave Sherman on bass and Gary Isom on drums — did themselves a favor in issuing an EP to shift the conversation before moving on to their second and final long-player, 2001’s Elusive Truth. To go with its six-minute opening title-track, the under-20-minute EP, with its strange cover art and songs like “Sun Stoned” and “C, Yourself,” was the first association between Wino and the label MeteorCity, which would continue through the next several years with Spirit Caravan‘s The Last Embrace compilation and the first two albums by The Hidden Hand before that band went on to work with Southern Lord.
Very interested to find out where Spirit Caravan reunion goes in the next several months and beyond. They played the Maryland Doom Fest in June with Ed Gulli (ex-The Obsessed) on drums in place of Henry Vasquez, whose tenure with Saint Vitus continues, but whether or not that’s a permanent change, I don’t know. And further, whether or not they’ll work on new studio material is the real question, if Wino and Sherman will keep going as Spirit Caravan — and one hopes they will — it seems inevitable at some point, but I wonder when or if we might start to hear new songs played live, recording rumors, etc.
We’ll see how it plays out, but until then, here’s Dreamwheel for Wino Wednesday number 196. I hope you enjoy:
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 21st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Thief Presents continues to throw down a gauntlet with its festivals. It seemed fair after so thoroughly upping the game earlier this year with Psycho CA that big things would be in store for that fest’s autumnal counterpart, the Day of the Shred, but when you come out of the gate like it’s no big deal and be like, “Oh hey Captain Beyond is playing our fest year whatever,” you’re officially killing it. You’ve got John Garcia, Yawning Man and Ides of Gemini together, which makes me wonder if Zun won’t make an appearance, and Spirit Caravan, Elder and Crowbar, along with a righteous ton of others, up to and including Portugal’s Black Bombaim. It gets a hearty and heartfelt fucking a.
Details from the PR wire:
Day of the Shred Festival to Light Up Southern California November 1
Dia de los Muertos-themed Concert Event to Feature Performances from Captain Beyond, Spirit Caravan, Crowbar, John Garcia, Mondo Generator, Torche and More
This fall, The Day of the Shred Festival returns to Southern California, presenting a diverse lineup of heavy music acts. Billed as an experience “to gather the living and remember the dead”, The Day of the Shred will take place on November 1 (Dia de los Muertos) in Santa Ana, CA. Celebrating monolithic riffs, skateboarding and the souls of the departed, the second annual festival will be an all day, all ages event. Presented by Thief – also the creators of the annual Psycho California Festival — The Day of the Shred will feature headliners Captain Beyond, Spirit Caravan, Crowbar, Torche, John Garcia (of Kyuss fame), Elder, Saviours, Mondo Generator and more.
Tickets for the 2015 Day of the Shred Festival are on sale now at this location. Early bird general admission tickets are $59 (+ tax) and a limited VIP ticket package (which includes express entry, a signed festival screen print, access to the artist lounge, complimentary microbrew and snacks, a limited edition record bag and an exclusive Thief X Obey concert shirt) is also available. What: Day of the Shred Fest 2015 Where: The Observatory, Santa Ana, CA Time: 2PM – 2AM Tickets:Eventbrite.com/e/day-of-the-shred-2015-tickets-17017683349
The just-announced lineup for The Day of the Shred 2015 is as follows:
CAPTAIN BEYOND SPIRIT CARAVAN CROWBAR JOHN GARCIA MONDO GENERATOR TORCHE ELDER SAVIOURS OXBOW FULL OF HELL THE BODY YAWNING MAN KOWLOON WALLED CITY BLACK BOMBAIM FIGHT AMP THOU NIGHT DEMON IDES OF GEMINI MOS GENERATOR GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST WHITE MANNA POOBAH COMMUNION BLACKWITCH PUDDING DUEL Stay tuned in to The Day of the Shred Fest via the Facebook event page and follow THE DAY OF THE SHRED on social media:
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 20th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Well, the lineup for the Vultures of Volume II festival in Sept. is complete. The last band, Spirit Caravan have been confirmed as the 19th act of the two-day gig, set for Sept. 4 and 5 at Delmar Bar and Grill in Hagerstown, Maryland. As one might expect, they join the ranks of headliners, playing the first night presumably to close out after Solace, while Elder headline the next night.
That’s something, huh? Solace and Spirit Caravan topping a night’s bill together at a doom fest? I’d love to know the last time those two were on a lineup together like that. Would have to be 15 years, I’d think. Either way, it should make for one hell of an evening, with King Giant, Pale Divine (who also, quietly, have been around about that long), Faith in Jane and Bailjack included and of course the second day to follow, which has Elder and Ruby the Hatchet up top while Wretch, Weed is Weed, Carousel, Righteous Bloom, Foghound, Witch Hazel, Thousand Vision Mist, Wizard Eye, Wasted Theory, Buzzard Canyon and Heavy Temple pack in with minimal changeover time and a full-as-hell day set to continue into the wee hours. Because that’s what rock and roll does, right? That’s what they keep telling me.
In addition to Spirit Caravan as the last of the bunch, I’m thrilled to announce that The Obelisk (the site you’re on) has been added as a sponsor for Vultures of Volume II and I couldn’t be more stoked to be involved. I’m hoping to be able to make the trip down in Sept., as this one simply looks too good to miss:
VULTURES OF VOLUME FEST II — Sept. 4th & 5th
Delmar Bar & Grill 16715 National Pike, Hagerstown, Maryland 21740
OFFICIAL TIME SLOTS ARE AS FOLLOWS:
***FRIDAY*** SPIRIT CARAVAN SOLACE KING GIANT PALE DIVINE FAITH IN JANE BAILJACK
I’ve officially decided that I’m going to at least semi-retire Wino Wednesday after the 200th edition. A fictional document has been written in legalese, signed and notarized — yes, my brain has its own internal notary — and included in that are clauses stipulating that the feature can be revived pretty much any Wednesday I feel like it and that all parties involved acknowledge that 200 posts will be plenty and that if there are any complaints, I’ll simply point the complainer back to the 200 editions preceding, because there’s no way he or she possibly read them all. I’m sorry, just no way.
So that’s that. We’ve got eight more Wino Wednesdays to go, however, and this week’s comes from Spirit Caravan‘s recent appearance at the inaugural Maryland Doom Fest in Frederick, MD. Organized by War Injun drummer JB Matson, the festival was by all accounts I’ve seen a rousing success, and well deserved. Matson put together a killer lineup and Spirit Caravan were among the headliners, playing as the trio of Wino on guitar/vocals, Dave Sherman on bass/vocals and Ed Gulli on drums in place of Henry Vasquez, who was in Europe with Saint Vitus at the time, that band being fronted by original vocalist Scott Reagers at least for the time being.
What makes Gulli‘s presence in the trio so special, particularly for a song like “Kill Ugly Naked” — which was released on Spirit Caravan‘s classic 1999 debut, Jug Fulla Sun — is the fact that he played drums for The Obsessed when that band recorded it on their 1985 promo demo. Gulli and “Kill Ugly Naked” quite literally have 30 years of history between them. Fucking awesome.
The shot’s a little odd — a 16:9 aspect ratio, vertical, is just bizarre looking — and where Sherman should be there seems instead to be somebody’s elbow, but the sound is decent and you get a sense for how killer the performance was, so I’ll take it. Enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, the Maryland Doom Fest has already announced its 2016 dates. It’ll be the weekend of June 24, 2016, once again at Cafe 611 in Frederick. Excellent.
Spirit Caravan, “Kill Ugly Naked” Live at Maryland Doom Fest
Hard to mess with Spirit Caravan in the year 2000. They were, by the time they hit Stengade in Copenhagen, Denmark, for the show from which this week’s Wino Wednesday clip comes, already past their landmark 1999 debut, Jug Fulla Sun, and moving toward their second outing, Elusive Truth, which would see release in 2001 on Tolotta Records as their final full-length prior to their disbanding in 2002. A short run, but one the repercussions of which continue to be felt today, and not just because the band — or two-thirds of the original lineup, anyway, with Scott “Wino” Weinrich and Dave Sherman joined by drummer Henry Vasquez in place of Gary Isom after an unceremonious falling out — but also because of the influence they had on the Maryland/D.C. heavy rock scene around them and the wider riff-loving sphere. The climate for heavy rock was different at that point, but even then, these dudes were prone to killing it.
We see that readily in the video below, in which, playing in front of their own banner, the trio of Wino, Sherman and Isom belt out what would become the title-track of Elusive Truth as well as “Powertime” from Jug Fulla Sun, with Wino plugging the new record before the former and Sherman shouting out the latter to oldschool metalheads, into Slayer, Venom, Mercyful Fate, and so on. I guess the song has some of that vibe, but with its lyrical theme of freedom and perseverance, it’s hardly as dark as anything Venom might put out there. Maybe Sherman was just feeling the elder metal and wanted to call it out. No further explanation would be required if that was the case.
Either way, the video captures Spirit Caravan (né Shine) at the arguable height of their run, and for that I’m happy to have it to check out. As always, I hope you enjoy:
Spirit Caravan, “Elusive Truth” and “Powertime” live in Copenhagen, Denmark, Nov. 22, 2000