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

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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

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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)

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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”

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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

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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”

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Wino Wednesday: Spirit Caravan, “Kill Ugly Naked” Live at Maryland Doom Fest

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 15th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

happy wino weds

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

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Wino Wednesday: The Obsessed, Incarnate in Full

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 8th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

wino wednesday

The long-established tradition (around here) of Wino Wednesday returns after a two-week absence. Last week, with the Quarterly Review, there wasn’t really time to get one together, and the week before that, hell, I don’t even remember what was happening, but something that felt like a valid enough excuse at the time. Nonetheless, we’re approaching ever-closer to Wino Wednesday #200, so the only thing to do is plunge ahead once again like we never missed a beat. Did you notice it was gone the last two weeks? No, probably not. You have a life. I’m the only one who notices this stuff.

All the same, we come back to Wino Wednesday in style today, with The Obsessed‘s 1999 compilation, Incarnate. The first Wino-related release on Southern Lord — it was catalog number “sunn3″ — it was a posthumous issue, The Obsessed having broken up following the release of 1994’s The Church Within, though a split 7″ with The Mystick Krewe of Clearlight also surfaced in 2001. By the time Incarnate showed up, Wino was about four years deep into the tenure of Spirit Caravan, who started out as Shine in 1995, and had released their debut album, Jug Fulla Sun, the year before. Still, the collection of demos and other odds and ends served well to tie up The Obsessed‘s run, and its 2003 reissue (also on Southern Lord), along with Wino‘s involvement in Dave Grohl‘s Probot project, would help introduce him to a new generation of fans.

It’s a 59-minute run, so not a slight undertaking, and of course being a comp it brings together recordings from various sources, but if you’re going to listen to it front to back, it’s probably not your first time hearing this stuff. Playing it now to write up this post, it seems eminently worth a revisit. Still not sure the status of The Obsessed‘s reunion, as it seems to have given way to that of Spirit Caravan, but we’ll see how it shakes out. In the meantime, enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:

The Obsessed, Incarnate (1999)

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