As I suppose will happen when you’re approaching your 200th Wino Wednesday — this is #190, so if there’s a countdown (and there isn’t), then the countdown is on — I went to look up the date when Wino was at Reggies in Chicago early in 2013 and found the info in another Wino Wednesday post. File under “Go Figure.” The date, incidentally, was Jan. 6, and it was after he and Mondo Generator and Saviours finished touring with Clutch for their annual holiday bonanza, and that other clip was of Nick Oliveri and Saviours and Wino jamming out a cover of Savoy Brown‘s “Hellbound Train,” a song Wino had also been performing for over a year in the duo Wino & Conny Ochs.
That set-finishing jam seems not to have been the only exceptional circumstance around those shows. “Dark Ravine” was a track originally included on the first Wino & Conny Ochs album, 2012’s Heavy Kingdom (review here), and as Wino did tours in that duo in Europe and the US, it’s easy to imagine that material was pretty fresh in mind. Still, it’s an interesting take to hear him perform the song solo; its already lonely, melancholic vibe becoming only more so for the solitary rendition. The camera in this clip sticks pretty close to the man himself — it’s a tight shot the whole time through — so there’s not as much a sense of what the crowd’s response would’ve been, but the song sounds good anyway, and we get a little of that good acoustic fuzz, so I’ll take it.
Been curious to see what Wino‘s going to do next, touring-wise. He’ll play with Spirit Caravan at the Maryland Doom Fest at the end of the month, but with the status of his spot in Saint Vitus questionable, it’s kind of an in-between moment. In the past, that’s brought about new projects, and there have been murmurings in that direction with the Royale Daemons collaboration with Oliveri, but nothing has materialized there as yet, so time will tell what’s actually going to happen.
One thing’s for sure, more Wednesdays. Enjoy:
Wino, “Dark Ravine” Live at Reggies, Chicago, Jan. 6. 2013
The Texas Cannonball, bluesman Freddie King included “Going Down” on his Leon Russell-produced 1971 album, Getting Ready, and it’s a smokin’ number with of course King‘s stellar guitar work and a post-Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters meld of blues and heavy rock and roll. The song was written by Don Nix and is identifiable early by its repeating “down, down, down, down” hook and accompanying instrumental descent, and King is somewhat malleable to its sliding groove — less than a decade earlier, he’d touched on surf and bossa nova on separate albums, so maybe malleability wasn’t a problem for him. The song’s been covered plenty of times over the years, and even Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow touched on that hook with “Self Portrait” from their first album, but King‘s version remains the definitive.
We don’t get to see the entirety of the jam Wino plays off it, but a glimpse is better than nothing. The show was April 18, 2015, at Ace of Spades in Sacramento, California, and Wino was there solo, supporting Black Label Society. He has a bassist onstage with him, and one who matches him for quick turns in the solo, which makes it all the more exciting, but I’m not sure who it actually is. Either way, we get to hear some of Wino‘s “unplugged” fuzz, which is a pretty delicate balance for a hollow instrument to strike without going all to hell in noise and a mess of feedback. Not exactly Wino‘s first time at the dance, so it’s not a surprise he’d nail it, but ultimately all this video does is make me hope that sooner or later he comes back to the eastern seaboard and that “Going Down” makes its way into the set, because I wouldn’t mind seeing the whole thing for myself if given the chance.
Hope you enjoy, ignore the whistling goon and have a great Wino Wednesday:
Wino, “Going Down” live in Sacramento, CA, April 18, 2015
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
For as long as I have a brain with which to remember it, I will consider myself fortunate to have been at Roadburn 2009 to witness the beginning — barring a warm-up show or two they played before leaving the US — of Saint Vitus‘ reunion. They hadn’t put out a record in 14 years by that point, and you’d have to add five more to that to get back to 1990’s V, their last studio outing to be fronted by Scott “Wino” Weinrich. Even though that Vitus reunion continued for the next half-decade, produced a righteous comeback in the form of 2012’s Lillie: F-65 (review here) and introduced a new generation to some of the finest American doom ever riffed through a Marshall, the beginning moments were a landmark. The start of a band getting its long over-due.
That Wino/Vitus reunion may continue, it may not. Following the former’s arrest last fall in Norway, the band linked up again with original vocalist Scott Reagers, and the future remains uncertain. But even if it is over, Saint Vitus have left behind a mark on their genre that will continue to be felt for years to come — not just for that full-length they were able to put together after so long away, but for the force with which they got on stage and delivered their classic material. It’s toward that classic material we turn for this week’s Wino Wednesday, finding Saint Vitus at Hellfest 2009 in Clisson, France, for “Mystic Lady,” which originally appeared on their 1985 sophomore outing, Hallow’s Victim (on which Reagers sang). Drummer Armando Acosta had already by then left the band prior to his death in 2010 and Henry Vasquez joined guitarist Dave Chandler, Wino and bassist Mark Adams, so even as they kept moving forward, the character of the band changed.
Still, these moments remain something special within doom, proving the timelessness of this band and their work. I hope you enjoy:
As for how Scott “Wino” Weinrich came to front Bedemon at the Psycho California fest this past weekend, that — as one might expect coming from the doom outfit who are rightly considered legends despite never having played live before — is something of a long story. Bedemon‘s collection of rare tracks and demos, Child of Darkness, was reissued earlier this year by Relapse, and I guess that’s as good a place as any to start while the band fills in on the rest:
BEDEMON has never performed a single show, ever, with any line-up. When discussion of possibly appearing at Psycho California first came up in November, we were honored. As the months have passed though, determining who would be in the band has proven to be a real challenge on many levels for many reasons. Ultimately, due to prior commitments, neither long-time member bassist Mike Matthews nor current BEDEMON vocalist Craig Junghandel will be able to participate at the Psycho California show. There was some talk about possibly having PENTAGRAM vocalist Bobby Liebling do the set, having appeared on the 70s songs contained on their Child of Darkness: From the Original Master Tapes release which has just been reissued by Relapse Records in both CD and vinyl form, but in the end it was felt that his focus needed to be on PENTAGRAM, who are also appearing at Psycho California and additionally are currently finishing up a new studio album for release later this year.
Yet despite these seemingly insurmountable setbacks, you can’t kill BEDEMON that easily and doomed you will be, Psycho California, as Greg Mayne of PENTAGRAM’s classic 70s line-up will be appearing on bass. Mayne also has BEDEMON ties himself, as he was in the line-up that recorded the 1986 BEDEMON sessions after Mike had moved to Washington state. This will be the first time Mayne and O’Keefe have appeared on stage together in nearly 40 years.
And speaking of Geof O’Keefe, better-known as the drummer for the 70s PENTAGRAM who recorded the original studio versions of “Forever My Queen,” “Be Forewarned,” “Last Days Here” and others, at this show he’ll be playing guitar.
“People not familiar with the early beginning of PENTAGRAM might not realize that when Bobby and I put the band together back in the fall of 1971,” says O’Keefe, “I was originally the guitarist for the first two versions of the band. I’ve actually been playing guitar longer than drums. Not only is this the first time I’ll be playing guitar live on stage but it’s the first time I’ve stepped on a stage in 30 years. I couldn’t be more excited and appreciative to be part of this special and historic experience!”
So with Junghandel and Liebling not singing, who will be handling the BEDEMON vocals? Stepping in on this very special occasion is a rather unique guest and another DC legend in his own right: Scott “Wino” Weinrich! (SAINT VITUS, SPIRIT CARAVAN, THE OBSESSED, PLACE OF SKULLS, SHRINEBUILDER, THE HIDDEN HAND as well as having released a number of great solo projects).
Says O’Keefe of these developments: “While I am really disappointed neither Mike and Craig can perform at this particular show due to prior career commitments, this is an amazing line-up for a very special show. I’m excited to have my old buddy Greg Mayne on board. I haven’t seen him in nearly thirty years and haven’t played with him in forty. And Wino is a DC legend and international star in his own right and it’s an honor to have him guesting on vocals.”
So what becomes of it? Probably nothing. I don’t think we’re going to see Wino fronting a reactivated incarnation of Bedemon anytime soon. One never knows, but Bedemon released their proper debut full-length, Symphony of Shadows (track stream here), in 2012 and seem to be content to do their own thing, and with the Spirit Caravan reunion ongoing and the new Wino & Conny Ochs just out, it seems more likely that if Geof O’Keefe (interview here) was itching to keep the band moving forward, he’d find a situation a little less complex to enter into with a frontman. Though Wino-fronted Bedemon would be pretty badass.
That’s the impression the video below of “Time Bomb” gives, anyhow. Filmed at Psycho California in front of what’s clearly a packed house, Bedemon‘s first show ever featured this track off Child of Darkness and it looks to have been every bit the landmark occasion one might expect.
I can’t claim to have been there, but it looks like The Hidden Hand‘s first gig — March 23, 2003, at Velvet Lounge in Washington, D.C. — was a hell of a time. A packed room in front of that red curtain as the trio of guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, bassist/vocalist Bruce Falkinburg and drummer Dave Hennessy unfurled an initial batch of winding riffs, heavy grooves and Illuminati-exposing lyricism. Maybe they hadn’t gotten that far yet, actually, since Falkinburg takes lead vocals on the second song of the set and makes his way through going “This is the first line of the verse,” etc., en route to a Melvins-y kind of filler chorus. Still, if the material was fresh it was obviously ready enough to break out on stage, and The Hidden Hand wound up a long way from the usual first-show roughness, even though they’d continue to grow together over the next four years of their all-too-brief tenure.
They’d release three albums in that time, which is one more than Spirit Caravan got out during their initial run and as many as the Wino-fronted incarnation of Saint Vitus issued before they got back together and the Lillie: F-65 long-player that resulted, so while their legacy hasn’t cast quite the same net, it was a productive period for sure. I don’t know if we’ll see a reunion like we have for Vitus, The Obsessed or Spirit Caravan, but if I saw The Hidden Hand on this or that festival bill in the years to come, I certainly wouldn’t complain. This set was the very beginning for them, with just the De-Sensitized 7″ out prior to the release of Divine Propaganda later in 2003, so I hope you take the chance to enjoy where the band was coming from as they started to branch out from those roots.
The duo Wino & Conny Ochs released their second album, Freedom Conspiracy (review here), on Exile on Mainstream at the end of March, and it’s still pretty fresh in mind in terms of the feeling of growth within the collaboration, the uptick in production value and of course the on-point individual performances and more meshed feel of how they work together in each song, but I thought for this week’s Wino Wednesday it might be worth dipping back a couple years to the start of the collaboration between these two very different entities.
To look at them on stage — Wino covered in tattoos with his hair down his back, holding a massive acoustic guitar and periodically kicking into a full-on fuzztone even “unplugged,” and Ochs exuding more traditional singer-songwriter sensibilities, resonating as much emotionally as with his stellar vocals — and they seem like a pretty unlikely pair. Like the rock and roll version of an old sitcom. It’s not until you actually hear it that you realize how well it actually works, that odd-couple melding. Their first album, 2012’s Heavy Kingdom (review here), surprised already with its fluidity. Ochs being the more experienced of the two players in the form, his evident comfort level was maybe less of a surprise, but Wino only had one acoustic solo album out — 2010’s Adrift (review here), still his only one to-date — and he was immediately at home in the two-piece. As they proved on Freedom Conspiracy, that would be even more the case the second time around.
Like I said, for this week, we’re dipping back to 2012, closer to their starting out. This cover of Joy Division‘s “Isolation” was filmed March 5, 2012, in Mutišov, the Czech Republic, and as right on as the audio is, I also picked it for the quality of the video itself, which puts you right in the crowd and captures well the intimate vibe of watching these two play. As always, I hope you enjoy:
Wino & Conny Ochs, “Isolation” Live in Mutišov, Czech Republic, March 5, 2012
Up until Spirit Caravan got rolling again last year at Desertfest, the Roadburn festival seemed to be the home for a Wino reunion. In addition to Wino playing there with the Wino trio and Shrinebuilder in 2009 and 2011, it was where the Wino-fronted Saint Vitus first came back in 2009 and where The Obsessed launched their reunion in 2012. I was fortunate enough to be there, and while The Obsessed has always been the most straightforward, sans-frills brand of doom, the excitement in the room was palpable for the trio’s return, Scott “Wino” Weinrich on guitar/vocals, bassist Guy Pinhas and drummer Greg Rogers coming together on stage for the first time in more than a decade and a half. I don’t mind saying it was one of the best days I’ve had at Roadburn to date.
Their tour continued on and The Obsessed continued to play shows — Doom Shall Rise, tours here and there, Maryland Deathfest, etc. — with Pinhas departing to sign onto Victor Griffin‘s In~Graved for a time and then ultimately split with that group as well. Weinrich and Rogers kept The Obsessed rolling with Reid Raley of Deadbird on bass, but the current status of the band is kind of up in the air. The aforementioned Spirit Caravan reunited in 2014, Saint Vitus continued to tour, Wino joined forces with Conny Ochs for a second time this year. Rogers, meanwhile, drums on Goatsnake‘s upcoming Black Age Blues— their first album in 15 years — and Raley and Deadbird hit the studio this past year to record a new full-length, which would be their first since 2008’s Twilight Ritual, an underrated molasses crawl of doomed Southern blues.
Not to say they couldn’t pick up The Obsessed again and get out at some point, but everybody seems pretty busy for the moment. Fortunately their live shows for the reunion were well documented, right from the start. The clip below is “Endless Circles” and “Lunar Womb” a one-two punch from The Obsessed‘s 1991 sophomore outing, taped live at Roadburn in 2012, and I think it says a lot about what the band’s straight-ahead appeal is in the first place.
Hope you enjoy:
The Obsessed, “Endless Circles/Lunar Womb” live at Roadburn 2012