Wino Wednesday: Spirit Caravan, “Be the Night” at Vultures of Volume II

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 9th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Happy last Wino Wednesday.

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.

Enjoy “Be the Night,” visit Project Nod Zine on YouTube here and Thee Facebooks here, and have a great Wino Wednesday:

Spirit Caravan, “Be the Night” live at Vultures of Volume II, Sept. 4, 2015

Tags: , , , , , ,

Wino Wednesday: Saint Vitus, Thirsty and Miserable EP in Full

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Happy Wino Wednesday.

Don’t get me wrong, I dig Saint VitusThirsty and Miserable EP for what it is, but I think the bigger impact of the 1987 release has to be what it said about who the band were and the ground it so brazenly tread upon, namely that of Black Flag. Now, Vitus had been putting stuff out through Greg Ginn‘s SST Records since their 1984 self-titled debut, and maybe having them take on Black Flag‘s track “Thirsty and Miserable,” which appeared on that band’s Damaged full-length in 1981, was an idea that came up as a way of bridging the gap between the ultra-Sabbathian Saint Vitus and SoCal’s punker elite, which famously hated the band. I wasn’t there, but my understanding is it didn’t work.

Nearly 30 years later, however, the Thirsty and Miserable EP holds a special place in Saint Vitus lore. Complemented by the two originals “Look Behind You” and “The End of the End,” the EP’s titular cover isn’t about meeting a fanbase halfway so much as showing the fuckall that had rooted itself into the band’s approach by this time — somewhat ironic since that very same fuckall is precisely what they had in common with the punk of the day. Coming off their third album, Born too Late, the band sound assured on Thirsty and Miserable of their sound and style, and listening to them run through “Thirsty and Miserable” and “Look Behind You” — both of which wind up pretty fast — and the swinging “The End of the End,” they make a convincing argument that if the world doesn’t get it, it’s the world’s problem. In hindsight, it’s easy to hear that statement and view it as being correct. Plus, they talk about breaking into a liquor store, and that’s hilarious.

This is Wino Wednesday number 199 out of 200. Next week we’ll wrap up the series and hopefully end on a positive note. Since this is the last time Saint Vitus will be featured as a part of it, I thought it important to include something special. Enjoy:

Saint Vitus, Thirsty and Miserable (1987)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Wino Wednesday: Wino & Conny Ochs, “Hotel Vast Horizon” Live in L.A., 2012

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 26th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Happy Wino Wednesday.

Seems a fair guess that between Wino and Conny Ochs, it’s the latter who brought the idea of covering Chris Whitley to the table. The relatively underappreciated singer-songwriter, who passed away in 2005 from lung cancer, had a discography of more than a 10 full-lengths to his credit by the time he died at the age of 45, and of course more have surfaced since. “Hotel Vast Horizon” is the title-track from the Texan’s ninth LP, released in 2003, and in performing it on their US tour, it’s Ochs who takes the initial lead vocally in the video below, backed by Wino as the song progresses.

Wino & Conny Ochs were on tour at the time supporting their debut, Heavy Kingdom (review here), after beginning with a European tour to herald the Exile on Mainstream release. Their second album, the more crisply produced Freedom Conspiracy (review here), came out earlier this year, and while most of the time when I post about the two-piece, it gets a response I’ll generously call “minimal,” as the Wino Wednesday series pushes toward its conclusion with #200, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a Wino & Conny Ochs track, because screw it, I like that stuff a lot. Can’t be Spirit Caravan all the time.

Along with “Hotel Vast Horizon,” the video includes the next cut in their set at The Satellite in Los Angeles on Aug. 8, 2012, which was “Green Speed.” Taken from Wino‘s 2010 solo acoustic debut, Adrift (review here), its careening central progression and faster pace manage to show heavy roots no matter how they’re played, plugged or not, and it makes a fitting companion for “Hotel Vast Horizon” here, demonstrating what each player brings to the Wino & Conny Ochs collaboration.

Two more Wino Wednesdays after this one, which is getting increasingly hard to believe. Hope you enjoy:

Wino & Conny Ochs, “Hotel Vast Horizon” & “Green Speed” Live in L.A., Aug. 8, 2012

Tags: , , ,

Wino Wednesday: The Obsessed, “Neatz Brigade” from 1985 Promo Demo

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 19th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Happy Wino Wednesday.

Can’t imagine I’m the only person around who counts “Neatz Brigade” as their favorite The Obsessed track. Hell, the dudes in Germany’s Rotor liked it enough to cover it for their Festsaal Kreuzberg live record (review here), so figure they dug it well enough. It’s been featured for Wino Wednesday a couple times — once Wino sat in with the aforementioned Rotor to do it live in 2010, and once from the reunited version of The Obsessed playing it at Roadburn 2012 — and while The Obsessed‘s 1985 Promo Demo has also been presented in full, it’s worth highlighting the song individually as well as it appears there, if only because the raw, early version kicks ass. Not sure what more of an excuse I’d need at this point.

By the time it showed up on a proper studio offering, nine years would have passed, and it’s now been 21 since The Obsessed‘s final studio offering, The Church Within, was released in 1994. Still, it passes the age-old test of, “If it came in today, what would I think?” First, I’d think, “wow, this sounds just like that Obsessed song with the line about making love in a mausoleum,” and then I’d think it’s pretty kickass. If you’ve never heard it, the production on the 1985 demo version is as raw as one might expect, but 30 years after the fact, that sound has aesthetic appeal beyond heavy metal nostalgia, and “Neatz Brigade”‘s rolling riff comes through clearly as a signature piece. One can understand why, a nearly a decade later, it would still have enough life in it to show up on an actual record.

This is Wino Wednesday #197 as we march toward what I’ve decided will be the conclusion of the feature at #200. If you’re wondering if I’ve had second thoughts about ending the series at 200, absolutely, yes, I have.

Enjoy “Neatz Brigade” in all its scratchy glory and have a great Wino Wednesday:

The Obsessed, “Neatz Brigade” from 1985 Promo Demo

Tags: , , , ,

Wino Wednesday: Spirit Caravan, Dreamwheel EP

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 12th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

happy wino wednesday

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:

Spirit Caravan, Dreamwheel (1999)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Wino Wednesday: The Wino Band, “Secret Realm Devotion”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 5th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

wino wednesday

I’m not saying I’m doing a countdown or anything, but definitely as we get down to the wire on the last few weeks of having Wino Wednesday as a regular feature, it’s made me think about what are some of my favorite tracks the man has produced in his 30-plus-year career. And yeah, there are some classics along the way, between his work in The Obsessed, Saint Vitus, Spirit Caravan, The Hidden Hand, etc. More to the point, he’s been a part of shaping American doom as we know it today, in the part of the Maryland scene that still seems to be coming to grips with what The Obsessed accomplished during their run, and well beyond.

Over six years ago now, Wino joined forces with Clutch drummer Jean-Paul Gaster and Rezin bassist Jon Blank to form the Wino band and release Punctuated Equilibrium on Southern Lord. As a record, it seemed to draw together the various sides of Wino‘s songwriting that had emerged in Spirit Caravan, The Obsessed and The Hidden Hand, and while the band’s run would be cut short by the death of Blank following their 2009 European tour and Wino would proceed to use the moniker for his acoustic solo work — making his debut in that form with 2010’s Adrift while also fleshing out the Saint Vitus reunion — the record captured something of his work that none of the other bands had, and it retains a personality of its own listening back to it now.

I always dug “Secret Realm Devotion” and thought of it as what it felt like doing while standing around at an empty doom show waiting to watch something the world outside had no idea about. That’s not really what the song is speaking toward, as the lyrics show:

The patterns on the wall send messages to me
A piece unto the whole through blindness I can see
My heart’s like a bird in a cage, darkness obscures the display
Emotion caused reason to bend, devotions obsession transcends
Not a minute that goes by, without a presence in my brain
No limit just the sky, it’s beautiful and it’s strange
Secret realm inside heart beat turns the key
Deepest love inside unlocks the mystery
When I’m down inside a tear, wondering why I’m in this place
Your comfort is so dear, when the moon is full I see your face
Secret realm divine, ritual ecstasy,
Leave this world behind, becomes reality
You’re locked into my heart, I’m with you night and day
From the altar of your star, to the gleaming crown
Of the moonlight rays

But it was fun to think of it that way anyhow. Whatever it’s about, it’s a quality track that stands among my personal favorites from Wino‘s vast discography, and I hope you enjoy:

Wino, “Secret Realm Devotion”

Tags: , , ,

Wino Wednesday: Saviours & Wino, “Limb from Limb” (Motörhead Cover), Live in L.A., 2013

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 29th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

happy wino wednesday

There has been a lot of quality video from this tour, which Wino undertook with Oakland, CA’s Saviours and Nick Oliveri after the three parties — Oliveri with his band Mondo Generator — opened for Clutch on their annual holiday run leading up to New Year’s 2013. It would also seem to have been the root of Wino‘s recent studio collaboration with Saviours (give me another week or two; we’ll get there) and for the advent of the yet-to-be-realized Royale Daemons collaboration with Oliveri, assuming that’s still a thing in the offing for somewhere down the line. Vague enough? Good.

Point is the tour-as-nexus also yielded much documentation, be it in full-set videos or clips of other on-stage jams between the various players. It must have been a good one, since nobody’s quite let it completely go. Fair enough to revisit, then, as we continue to wind down the Wino Wednesday feature on the march to number 200 in a few more weeks (this is #194, if you’re counting). This time around, it’s Wino and Saviours delivering a killer take on Motörhead‘s “Limb from Limb.”

The clip comes from Los Angeles, was filmed Jan. 11, 2013, at The Satellite, and even this wasn’t the first time Wino and Saviours had jamemd out — the band having brought the legendary frontman on stage at Scion Rock Fest in 2010 as well — but clearly by the time they got out to L.A., they were comfortable sharing a stage together. Of course, the song is the closing track from Motörhead‘s 1979 sophomore outing, Overkill, and it’s no less of a classic than that album as a whole, but Wino and Saviours give it its due, the former hanging onto the microphone in a manner that anyone who saw him with Saint Vitus over the last six years will likely recognize.

Hope you enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:

Saviours & Wino, “Overkill” Live in Los Angeles, Jan. 11, 2013

Tags: , , , , ,

Wino Wednesday: The Hidden Hand, “The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 22nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

happy wino weds

I’m not sure anyone knew at the time that The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote was going to be the last The Hidden Hand album. Maybe the band itself, which had seen drummer Matt Moulis (now of Unmothered) come aboard as a replacement for Evan Tanner, himself a replacement for Dave Hennessy alongside bassist/vocalist/producer Bruce Falkinburg and guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, but certainly not me at the time. I remember having been so enamored of the trio’s prior outing, 2004’s Mother Teacher Destroyer — still for my money among the best albums Wino has played on — that when the follow-up hit in 2007, I appreciated the progression but was left somewhat cold by the affect of the songs as a whole.

Time has for the most part cured me of that. If I’m reaching for a record by The Hidden Hand, I’m probably likeliest to go for their second, but the third has proven worth appreciating on its own level, and just as their 2003 debut had to overcome the fact that it wasn’t Spirit Caravan, so too did The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote have to overcome the righteousness of three years earlier. The Wino/Falkinburg dynamic was at its peak, and more than either of their other albums, the last one finds The Hidden Hand with its own cohesive songwriting process, distinct from what any party might otherwise come up with on their own but still owing a piece of itself to their individual influences.

To wit, “The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote” itself. The title-track hammered home the album’s concept of a new American Revolution — sort of wishful thinking in the dark ages of the Bush era and the Iraq War (how’d that turn out again?) — and did so with a sound definitively The Hidden Hand‘s own. Falkinburg takes the lead on vocals, joined by Wino in the chorus, and the effect of the two of them together is enough to justify a revisit to the record as a whole. If you don’t have it, it was on Southern Lord, so there should still be some copies floating around somewhere.

Enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday.

The Hidden Hand, “The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote”

Tags: , , , , ,