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: Saint Vitus, “The Troll” Live in Portland, OR, 2010

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 9th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Happy Wino Wednesday.

I’m not gonna say I’m posting Saint Vitus‘ “The Troll” only because I feel like I haven’t left the house in two weeks, but I will allow that was the original impetus behind my selecting the song, which originally appeared on 1988′s Mournful Cries. The blinds pulled down, the window air conditioner blasting, my ass firmly planted on the couch for untold hours to come, I’m nothing if not consistent. Oh sure, I’ll emerge to take a bag of trash out, or to pour water from a pot when, say, the pipes under my kitchen sink start leaking water all over the floor this morning for no apparent reason, but having been unemployed for over three solid months and having been sans The Patient Mrs. for two weeks, I’ve more or less reverted to shut-in status. I try not to put the tv too loud so the neighbors won’t hear which baseball team I like. Their front door is about six inches from mine and people judge you for that shit.

So yeah, if the theme I want to work with is self-removal from human society, then “The Troll,” albeit exaggerated, fits that. As a complementary motivation for this clip in particular, which was filmed June 26, 2010, in Portland, Oregon, drummer Henry Vasquez absolutely kills it here. This was earlier into his tenure behind the kit for Vitus, and I remember seeing them in Brooklyn later in 2009 when he’d first joined and thinking he was playing some of the parts fast. He’s more settled in this video, but still has a killer swing in giving his ride cymbal a workout. There was no way he wasn’t going to come across loud, but of course Dave Chandler‘s guitar and Mark Adams‘ bass hold their own, and Wino gives an excellent retelling of the lyrics, to which, if I haven’t made it clear, I’m having an easy time relating these days.

Enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:

Saint Vitus, “The Troll” live in Portland, Oregon, June 26, 2010

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Wino Wednesday: The Hidden Hand, “The Hidden Hand (Theme)”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Happy Wino Wednesday.

I know I’ve gone on at length about the underrated nature of The Hidden Hand among the pantheon of so-called “Wino bands,” and it’s true, the project that I think introduced a lot of people to the style and frontmanship of Scott “Wino” Weinrich — their being active when Dave Grohl‘s Probot record was released likely had something to do with that — often gets downplayed. They weren’t as influential as The Obsessed or Spirit Caravan, and Saint Vitus is a different animal entirely. But The Hidden Hand was more than just some band Wino was in for a few years before getting back with Vitus. True, they had a half-decade run from about 2002 until 2007, but in that time they produced three vibrant, distinct albums that showed a commitment to stylistic progression and offered top notch riffing and a vocal collaboration between Wino and bassist Bruce Falkinburg that I think stands out as the best of Wino‘s career.

Maybe that’s not saying much since Wino hasn’t often shared vocal duties, but in my head, that only makes The Hidden Hand a more special band. Falkinburg, also a producer who’s worked with J. RobbinsWooly Mammoth and many others, brought something to The Hidden Hand completely distinct from any other group in which Wino had taken part up to that point. Their songwriting showcased a rich partnership beginning with the De-Sensitized 7″ and subsequent full-length debut, Divine Propaganda, released by MeteorCity in 2003. While my impression of that album has always been rooted in its rawness compared to its 2004 follow-up, Mother Teacher Destroyer, a revisit to the band’s eponymous song — or their theme, as the parenthetical has it — finds it a celebration of various elements. The heavy riffing and anti-authoritarian drive are both there that would become staples of The Hidden Hand‘s sound, the album’s title mirrored in the mysticism counteracted by worldly manipulations transforming into dogma amid the political turmoil of the early part of the last decade.

And with “The Hidden Hand (Theme),” it’s Falkinburg up front. Wino joins in on the chorus, but it’s worth noting that on the song The Hidden Hand chose to represent who they were and what they were about, it was the bassist in the frontman role.

Enjoy and have an excellent Wino Wednesday:

The Hidden Hand, “The Hidden Hand (Theme)”

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Wino Wednesday: The Obsessed, “Skybone” Live at Maryland Deathfest XI

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 25th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Happy Wino Wednesday.

Of all the bands Wino‘s played guitar in, The Obsessed have always struck me as the most stripped down. If it wasn’t so slow and thick, you could almost call it punk in form. Riffs, verses, choruses, solos — The Obsessed never got too fancy, never strayed from rock and roll, never fell into pretense. They just rocked. Then they stopped. Then they started again. Then they stopped again. And so on.

That cycle seems to have hit a “stopped again” point, particularly with the reunion of Spirit Caravan this year. When they got back together in 2012, The Obsessed did a full European tour, but nothing in the US to compare with the month-plus Spirit Caravan spent on the road this spring. Maybe that’s due in part to Spirit Caravan‘s higher profile — they’ve always been a fan favorite, and bassist Dave Sherman‘s stage presence and tenure fronting Earthride has only increased interest in Spirit Caravan since their early ’00s breakup — but either way, aside from the appearance at Maryland Deathfest XI last year, from which this week’s Wino Wednesday clip comes, The Obsessed haven’t done much in the States for their reunion. With both Spirit Caravan and Saint Vitus currently active, it’s hard to know where The Obsessed might fit in.

Still, the safe bet is that they will — if not now, at some point — reemerge. Formed as Warhorse in 1976, The Obsessed has been a home base to which Wino has returned several times over his journeyman’s years between projects, and “Skybone,” which was the centerpiece of their to-date final outing, 1994′s The Church Within, shines light on a lot of what has always worked best about the band. It is unremittingly straightforward, an easy groove to ride along with and that asks little indulgence in return. Obscure lyrically, but irresistibly riffed, and bassist Reid Raley and drummer Greg Rogers, though both lower volume in the video than Wino‘s guitar (it was filmed on his side of the stage), nail down the nod on the sleeper favorite.


The Obsessed, “Skybone” live at Maryland Deathfest XI, May 25, 2013

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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: Wino, Punctuated Equilibrium in Full

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I understand why the Wino trio only lasted as long as it did, what with drummer Jean-Paul Gaster‘s neverending tour commitments with Clutch and the death of bassist Jon Blank after the three-piece’s return from their successful European run, and as much as the solo acoustic material Wino has released since working under his own moniker has been a fascinating progression to witness and has resulted in no shortage of brilliant songwriting and performances, I still really dig the hell out of Punctuated Equilibrium. It’s not an all-the-time album, but it’s definitely a fit for summer, and as it’s started to warm up here in the desolate north, I’m finding it worth yet another return listen, the catchy, sunshiny opening of “Release Me” telling of some of the good-time vibes to follow.

Punctuated Equilibrium came out early in 2009 on Southern Lord Recordings, and aside from uniting Scott “Wino” Weinrich and Gaster at the top of the bill, it also tied together a lot of Wino‘s songwriting as demonstrated throughout the years in his various bands. “Smilin’ Road” had some of the upbeat vibes of Spirit Caravan, while the following “Eyes of the Flesh” tapped into the classic doom of The Obsessed and both “Gods, Frauds, Neo-Cons and Demagogues” and “Secret Realm Devotion” touched on themes and a more mystical take on heavy rock evocative of The Hidden Hand. Of course, the constant running through all of those bands is Wino‘s songwriting itself, and front-to-back, Punctuated Equilibrium demonstrated plainly that whatever the context, Wino‘s guitar and vocals were among the most distinctive in heavy.

The shame of it is that as Wino moved on to solo work, his collaboration with Conny Ochs and reunions with Saint Vitus, The Obsessed and Spirit Caravan, these songs were left behind. Maybe one of these days they’ll get picked back up for an acoustic reinterpretation or something. Till then, have a great Wino Wednesday.

Wino, Punctuated Equilibrium (2009)

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Wino Wednesday: Covering Motörhead and Lynyrd Skynyrd Acoustic, Oct. 2010

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Of the various covers Wino did on his solo tours earlier this decade and tours in the duo collaboration with Conny Ochs, taking on songs from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Townes van Zandt, and Lynyrd Skynyrd as he does here, I don’t think any cover was quite as steady as Motörhead‘s “Iron Horse.” Performing on Oct. 15, 2010, in Manchester, England, at the Star and Garter, Wino talks a little bit about finding Motörhead‘s woulda-been 1975 debut On Parole after its release in 1979 and how “Iron Horse” has stayed with him since. We all have those songs, and he treats the Motörhead cut with due reverence, here pairing it with Skynyrd‘s “On the Hunt,” taken from 1975′s Nuthin’ Fancy.

While it may or may not have the same kind of emotional attachment with it as “Iron Horse,” the second cover in this medley is particularly interesting because “On the Hunt” is also a song The Obsessed tackled, some nine years earlier on their 2001 split with Jimmy Bower of Eyehategod‘s The Mystick Krewe of Clearlight. That split was the last studio material The Obsessed put out — never say never — and the song also appeared on their 1999 compilation, Incarnate, and he performed it live with Solace in 2000, so it’s obviously the product of a long-standing appreciation as well. All the better to put them back to back.

Wino would’ve had more than a few months on the road on his own at this point, and his comfort level on stage shows it. He’s joking with the crowd, getting some laughs, telling stories, and in the middle of ‘On the Hunt,” he feels loose as he works his way through what it took Skynyrd upwards of 18 guitarists (give or take) to get across.

The video cuts off at the very end, but it’s still more than enough to make the point. Hope you enjoy and have an excellent Wino Wednesday:

Wino, “Iron Horse/On the Hunt” Live in Manchester, UK, Oct. 15, 2010

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Wino Wednesday: Saint Vitus, “The War Starter” Live in Houston, May 2014

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

The West Coast leg of Saint Vitus‘ 35th anniversary tour wrapped up this past weekend in Texas with three shows in a row. They did Austin, Houston and Dallas on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to round out the run of gigs playing the entirety of 1986′s Born too Late as well as other selections from their hugely influential discography. It’s a show they’ll take to Europe and the UK in October/November alongside Orange Goblin (dates here), and presumably onward from there. However eager I might be to hear another batch of new material from them, 35 years of Vitus is an occasion worth marking, and they’re doing so in righteous fashion. They were here last fall, but I’ve still got my hopes up they do another East Coast leg before the touring cycle ends.

Whether or not that comes to pass remains to be seen, and I suppose you could say the same of another album, but it’s hard not to get greedy looking at the clip below for “The War Starter,” the closing track from Born too Late which was the first Vitus record fronted by Scott “Wino” Weinrich and in many ways the band’s most landmark release — rivaled, perhaps, by their 1984 self-titled debut, on which Scott Reagers sang. I had to laugh when I watched it for the first time and saw the camera, which is set up on bassist Mark Adams‘ side of the stage, vibrating from the band’s waves of low end. Yeah, that’s about right for Saint Vitus‘ tones. There are a bunch of videos shot in HD from the same night, but the dark vibes of “The War Starter” and foreboding atmosphere seemed to lock in really well in Houston, and it’s not a song they play at every stop on tour.

Enjoy and have an excellent Wino Wednesday:

Saint Vitus, “The War Starter,” Live in Houston, TX, May 24, 2014

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Wino Wednesday: Saint Vitus 35th Anniversary Tour, Live in Portland, OR

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

The Saint Vitus 35th anniversary tour began May 8 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and will wrap up this coming weekend in Texas. The legendary doom four-piece have been playing their landmark 1986 album, Born too Late – the first to have found Scott “Wino” Weinrich, then recently out of The Obsessed, fronting the band — in its entirety, and while most of that record gets aired at Vitus shows anyway with songs like “Clear Windowpane,” “Dying Inside,” and “The War Starter” as set regulars along with standard finale “Born too Late,” it’s still something special and only underscores the band’s long-standing relevance in their genre and the figurehead position they’ve moved into since coming back in 2009.

Portland, Oregon, was the ninth of the total 15 shows on this West Coast run. The gig took place at Branx on May 17, with Sons of Huns and Washington heavy rockers Mos Generator – don’t forget, MosTony Reed recorded Vitus‘ 2012 album, Lillie: F-65 – and was captured on video by the native Portland outlet Doomed and Stoned. Aside from making me wonder how many “EC f’n W” t-shirts guitarist Dave Chandler has, it looks to have been a killer time as Vitus made their way through the songs from Born too Late and added choice cuts from the rest of their hugely influential catalog. Nine shows into the tour, they’re deadly tight throughout the set, with Wino, Chandler, drummer Henry Vasquez and bassist Mark Adams – who doesn’t show up much in the clip, but has a Grumpy Cat shirt on when he does, while we’re on the subject of wardrobe — on fire as the gig plays out. All the better as they get ready to take this show to Europe this fall.

Whether you watch the whole thing or skip around — the Born too Late stuff isn’t in order, but it’s all there — it’s worth checking out. Hope you enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:

Saint Vitus, Live in Portland, OR, May 17, 2014

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Wino Wednesday: Acoustic with Dave Sherman at London Desertfest 2014

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 14th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Particularly since he started doing acoustic sets now over four years ago, Wino has shown up in some unexpected places. I seem to recall a set from the Volcom store in Los Angeles from 2011, and in 2010 he had that in-store at Substance Records in Bulgaria. There are countless other examples, but the point is he’s taken advantage of the “have guitar will travel” ethic, and if you’ve got a corner that’ll hold a dude and his guitar, it seems like maybe you’ve got a shot at getting Wino to play sooner or later. Something to keep in mind, no doubt.

Already at Desertfest in London to headline with the reunited Spirit Caravan, Wino found time to also bust out an acoustic set at the Vans store in Camden Town. I remember I was hoping to see Trippy Wicked there last year, also playing acoustic, and couldn’t figure out where it was, then quite literally walked by it on my way to The Underworld, so yeah, it’s right in the mix with the rest of the Desertfest venues, and if I’m not mistaken, this year there were also a few signings and other events happening throughout the weekend. I’ve never been much for autograph hunting, but cool anyway if the bands playing take the time for it. Ditto that this acoustic set.

In the beginning of the clip — in which Wino is joined by his Spirit Caravan bandmate Dave ShermanWino mentions this is one of the earliest songs he wrote. I haven’t been able to place it, if it’s a The Obsessed track or what, so if you know the name of the song, please let me know. The chorus is sort of vaguely familiar, but I don’t know if that’s just because I watched the video five times in a row or what. Either way, hope you enjoy and have an excellent Wino Wednesday:

Wino Acoustic at Desertfest London, April 25, 2014

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Wino Wednesday: Covering Skynyrd with Weedeater at Desertfest London 2014

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Spirit Caravan were headliners at Desertfest London 2014, topping the first-night bill on April 25 at the Electric Ballroom with Ed Mundell‘s The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic, Sasquatch and Monkey3. Needless to say, many righteous solos likely ensued. Weedeater played the next night right before Kvelertak in the same venue, and I guess as Spirit Caravan had already played the Berlin Desertfest, they had the weekend to hang out and do things like signings, a Wino acoustic set, and maybe sit in with Weedeater while they cover Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s “Gimme Back My Bullets.”

Weedeater toured with Saint Vitus in 2012 — the Brooklyn show is already legendary as far as I’m concerned — so this isn’t the first time they and Wino have shared a stage. I doubt that tour was either. But so far as I know, it’s the first time Wino has actually sat in with the band, and he both plays guitar and sings on the song, adding his voice to the gravel-throated screams of Weedeater bassist “Dixie” Dave Collins and his tone to the molasses-riffing of Dave Shepherd while relatively-recently added drummer Travis Owen faces sideways and beats the living hell out of his kit. Wino sort of relinquishes vocals to Collins as the song progresses in favor of tearing into leads with Shepherd, but the point gets across either way.

A take on “Gimme Back My Bullets” (sans Wino) appeared on Weedeater‘s 2007 album, God Luck and Good Speed. The trio, now signed to Season of Mist after releasing that album and its 2011 follow-up, Jason… the Dragon, on Southern Lord, are expected to have a new record out sometime later this year or early in 2015 and have reissued much if not all of their catalog through their new label. Meanwhile, Spirit Caravan‘s reunion run has ended and Saint Vitus embark on their 35th anniversary tour playing Born too Late in full tomorrow (dates here). More to come on that, I’m sure.

Enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:

Weedeater with Wino, “Gimme Back My Bullets” Live at Desertfest London 2014

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Wino Wednesday: Wino Plays Guitar in Saint Vitus, Live 1990

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

Saint Vitus have been through a lot in the last 35 years. From frontman shifts that have taken them from Scott Reagers to Wino to Christian “Chritus” Linderson back to Scott Reagers then back to Wino to the 17-years between 1995′s Die Healing and 2012′s Lillie: F-65 where the closest thing to new material they had out was a 2003 one-off reunion DVD. They weren’t a band for most of that time, having gotten back together in 2009 to find an audience waiting for their return, but still, it’s been 35 years since guitarist Dave ChandlerReagers, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Armando Acosta (R.I.P.) got their start as Tyrant in 1979, and the simple fact that Saint Vitus is still standing today is an accomplishment not to be overlooked.

As previously announced, Vitus — now Chandler, Wino, Adams and Henry Vasquez — will head out on a West Coast run in celebration of their 35th anniversary beginning May 8 (dates here). This week, the band let it be known that they’re bringing the show, which includes playing 1986′s classic Born too Late in its entirety, to Europe and the UK this fall, and that they’ll be joined by Orange Goblin on the five-week trek. The dates are as follows:

Saint Vitus 35th Anniversary Tour Playing Born too Late
with Orange Goblin
09 Oct 14 Colmar (FRA) Le Grillen
10 Oct 14 Limoges (FRA) CCM John Lennon
11 Oct 14 Barcelona (ESP) Day of Doom
12 Oct 14 Madrid (ESP) Shoko
13 Oct 14 Lisbon (POR) Rca Club
15 Oct 14 Bilbao (ESP) Kafe Antzokia
16 Oct 14 Bordeaux (FRA) Le Krakatoa
17 Oct 14 Geneva (SUI) L’usine
18 Oct 14 Mezzago (ITA) Bloom Club
19 Oct 14 Rome (ITA) Init Club
20 Oct 14 Bologna (ITA) Locomotiv Club
21 Oct 14 Winterthur (SUI) Salzhaus
22 Oct 14 Munich (GER) Backstage Halle
23 Oct 14 Saarbrücken (GER) Garage
24 Oct 14 Paris (FRA) La Fleche d’Or
25 Oct 14 Tourcoing (FRA) Le Grand Mix
26 Oct 14 Vosselaar (BEL) Biebob
28 Oct 14 Bristol (UK) The Fleece
29 Oct 14 London (UK) Heaven
30 Oct 14 Dublin (IRE) Button Factory
31 Oct 14 Belfast (UK) Limelight 2
01 Nov 14 Leeds (UK) Damnation Festival
02 Nov 14 Rotterdam (NED) (Dutch Doom Days)
03 Nov 14 Cologne (GER) Luxor
04 Nov 14 Dresden (GER) Beatpol
05 Nov 14 Kraków (POL) Fabryka
06 Nov 14 Berlin (GER) SO36
07 Nov 14 Malmö (SWE) Babel
08 Nov 14 Stockholm (SWE) Debaser Strand
09 Nov 14 Oslo (NOR) Parkteatret
11 Nov 14 Gothenburg (SWE) Sticky Fingers
12 Nov 14 Hamburg (GER) Knust / Grünspan
13 Nov 14 Osnabrück (GER) Rosenhof
14 Nov 14 Jena (GER) F-Haus
15 Nov 14 Würzburg (GER) Hammer of Doom

To emphasize just how much Vitus have been through since ’79, I wanted to find something for this week’s Wino Wednesday you don’t see every day, and to that end, here’s a two-part set from the band live in Mezzago, Italy, from 1990 that features Wino on guitar alongside Chandler. He tears into a few solos and riffs out on “Dragon Time” and “Bitter Truth,” but by the time they get around to “Born too Late” and “Patra,” the guitar seems to have disappeared.

This experiment didn’t last long. Wino released the self-titled record from The Obsessed in 1990 and in 1991 traded out one band for the other. He wouldn’t return to Vitus until 2009, and in the five years since, he’s been frontman exclusively.


Saint Vitus, Live in Mezzago, Italy, Nov. 20, 1990

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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: Wino & Conny Ochs, “Angels and Demons” Live in the Czech Republic, 2012

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

It remains to be seen if we’ll actually get a sophomore album from the collaboration between Scott “Wino” Weinrich and German singer-songwriter Conny Ochs. The Exile on Mainstream labelmates released their debut, Heavy Kingdom (review here), in 2012 and celebrated with a fair amount of touring as a duo in Europe and North America, and they did answer Heavy Kingdom quickly with the Latitudes session, Labour of Love, but a good portion of that was cover material and the mission seemed more about enjoying playing together than actually furthering the writing partnership creatively. Not to take away from that release, since among other things it boasts the only to-date recorded version of Wino & Conny Ochs doing Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young‘s “Find the Cost of Freedom,” and that’s worth the price of admission alone. Still, a second record has proved elusive.

Among the trove of video from those tours, however, there are glimpses of material other than that which was included on Heavy Kingdom or Labour of Love, and whether it was a cut written subsequently, or something pulled from either’s solo catalog, there’s plenty of it taped out there — Wino & Conny Ochs probably makes a relatively easy set to capture, as they’re not likely to blow out the volume on whatever recorder might be used — and it’s from that vast and disorganized archive that “Angels and Demons” comes. Snagged in HD on that European tour in the Czech Republic (I believe) on May 3, 2012, the track originally appeared on Ochs‘ 2012 long-player, Raw Love Songs, and sure enough, he takes the lead on it. Wino adds a bit of ambience to the start, but the track really comes alive later when the two of them lock into a part that, considering it was written before they started collaborating, only emphasizes how fitting a pair they make.

Enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:

Wino & Conny Ochs, “Angels and Demons” Live in the Czech Republic, 2012

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Wino Wednesday: The Hidden Hand, “The Last Tree” from Divine Propaganda

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 26th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

The Hidden Hand happened at a pretty interesting juncture for American heavy, just when underground riff-worship was really starting to get a foothold in a wider public consciousness beyond what it had been in the days before the widespread instant-gratification of the internet became a way to access just about anyone’s music anytime. Their second album, the stellar Mother Teacher Destroyer, certainly got some attention when it was issued by Southern Lord in 2004 — helped perhaps by the publicity of Dave Grohl‘s Probot project, released that same year, and Wino‘s visible involvement in that on guitar and vocals — but the preceding full-length debut, 2003′s Divine Propaganda, had no such high-profile lead-in. Not to shoehorn it into too convenient a narrative, but it was simply Wino‘s new band after Spirit Caravan broke up.

Listening back now, over a decade later and in light of the two albums The Hidden Hand released after it, Divine Propaganda is a standout if somewhat uneven release. Issued by MeteorCity, it was the first studio output from Wino, bassist/vocalist Bruce Falkinburg and drummer Dave Hennessy, and it introduced a lot of the Illuminati/conspiracy/socio-political framework in which a good portion of the band’s lyrics would work for the duration of their tenure, but thanks in no small part to the Weinrich/Falkinburg collaboration in the songwriting, it also pushed into territory that was neither The Obsessed-style doom nor the freewheeling heavy rock of Spirit Caravan. There was something else going on, and that’s evident on Divine Propaganda, even if the trio were still figuring out what they wanted their sound to be and what shape that collaboration would take.

In all honesty, “The Last Tree” — track seven of the record’s total 10 — probably could’ve been a Spirit Caravan song with its rolling groove of a chorus riff, but as the verse shows, The Hidden Hand were already becoming something distinct, and the fuzz that Falkinburg puts on his bass in the track is not to be missed. It’s something of a forgotten gem from the largely underappreciated band, whose timing and whose songwriting continue to intrigue.

Happy Wino Wednesday:

The Hidden Hand, “The Last Tree” from Divine Propaganda (2003)

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