Wino Wednesday: Bedemon, “Time Bomb” at Psycho California 2015

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 20th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

wino wednesday

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.

Enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:

Bedemon, “Time Bomb” Live at Psycho California, May 15, 2015

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Wino Wednesday: Wino & Conny Ochs, “Isolation” Live in the Czech Republic, 2012

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 6th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

wino wednesday

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

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Wino Wednesday: The Obsessed, “Endless Circles/Lunar Womb” Live at Roadburn 2012

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

happy wino wednesday

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

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Wino Wednesday: Spirit Caravan Live at Strange Matter, Richmond, VA, March 8, 2014

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

wino wednesday

When they first got back together last year, Spirit Caravan started off their first US tour in more than a decade at the Metro Gallery in Baltimore. A more fitting setting would be hard to find. Baltimore, D.C., Virginia, the entire Doom Capitol region has been the center of Spirit Caravan‘s enduring influence, and for guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman and drummer Henry Vasquez, it was more or less a homecoming, or at very least as close as they were going to get on a touring circuit. Granted, they could’ve gone back to Wootton High School and done the show there, if they’d wanted.

The night after Baltimore, they were in Richmond, Virginia. Playing in front of their classic banner to an enthusiastic crowd who obviously well appreciated being there, they took on the venerable Strange Matter with due vitality and ran through a set full of staples, landmark riffs of “Sea Legs,” “Dead Love/Jug Fulla Sun,” “Dove-Tongued Aggressor” and “Dreamwheel” carrying their original rolling vibes both to those who were there the first time around and those who’d come aboard in the 12 years since the band’s original run ended in 2002, their reputation bolstered all the more by Sherman‘s subsequent work in Earthride and Wino‘s in The Hidden Hand and the reunited Saint Vitus. I wasn’t there to see it, but it looks in the video below like it was one hell of a time.

Whoever TubeVision is, they’ve been taping shows in and around Virginia for well over a decade. They were there at Strange Matter and captured the full Spirit Caravan set, a genuine moment of heavy rock history marking their return in a heavy rock climate no doubt more welcoming than there had been the first time around, and for that alone, I’d shake his/her hand if presented with the opportunity. Spirit Caravan headline at this year’s inaugural Maryland Doom Fest this June with The Obsessed‘s Ed Gulli on drums (info here), filling in for Vasquez who’ll be on tour in Europe with Saint Vitus at the time, that band rejoined by original vocalist Scott Reagers.

Enjoy this full set and have a great Wino Wednesday:

Spirit Caravan, Live at Strange Matter, Richmond, VA, March 8, 2014

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Wino Wednesday: “Adrift” Live in Frederick, MD, Feb. 2014

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

wino wednesday

It’s been two weeks since the last Wino Wednesday, which I think is as long as I’ve gone in the more-than-three-years since the feature started. Between the Quarterly Review and traveling for Roadburn, time was pretty limited, but I didn’t want to let it go any longer than it already has, so here we are. Half a decade ago, in 2010, Scott “Wino” Weinrich, issued his first acoustic album, Adrift (review here), via Exile on Mainstream.

Having at that point already fronted the beginning stages of the Saint Vitus reunion, it was something of a side-step for the guitarist/vocalist, still just three years removed from the last The Hidden Hand album and also participating at that point in Shrinebuilder‘s 2009 offering and the subsequent shows, but for Wino fans, it made sense for him to dig to the roots of his songwriting process and unearth something like Adrift, which in turn led to his collaboration with Conny Ochs and a new style of performance he continues to refine today.

I wouldn’t call his first steps in that direction tentative. His first acoustic tour was with his Shrinebuilder bandmate Scott Kelly, also of Neurosis, and they released a split 7″ to mark the occasion, but with Adrift, we got to see a new side of Wino‘s personality, not necessarily separate from the ride-these-riffs grooves of Spirit Caravan or the foundational trad doom of The Obsessed, but more contemplative, more up front. An acoustic guitar provides little cover, and Adrift laid bare a lot of Wino‘s persona in a way that felt sincere in the listening and still managed to deliver in terms of songwriting and performance.

For this week’s Wino Wednesday, we have a clip of Wino playing the title-track of Adrift live at Guido’s Speakeasy, in Frederick, Maryland, which is arguably the epicenter of Wino‘s influence at this point. At the very heart of a Maryland doom he helped create, he stands with an acoustic guitar, a crappy stand that can’t seem to actually hold up the microphone, and someone with a shaky cellphone recording it vertically. It’s not the best quality clip I’ve ever posted for a Wino Wednesday, but worth it for the solo at the end.

Hope you enjoy:

Wino, “Adrift” Live at Guido’s Speakeasy, Frederick, MD, Feb. 1, 2014

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Wino Wednesday: Premonition 13 Jamming at Born-Free 3 Chopper Show, June 2011

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 18th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

wino wednesday

Uh, it’s Wino jamming out at a vintage motorcycle show. Really, the only question I have is how this clip of Premonition 13 from the Summer 2011 Born-Free 3 chopper show hasn’t already been featured for Wino Wednesday. I mean seriously, what is this, amateur hour? Get your head in the game, me. Wino and motorcycles. They go together like… well… like Victor Griffin and motorcycles. You get the idea.

Credit where it’s due, the footage of Premonition 13 — the short-lived outfit featuring Wino and Jim Karow duking it out on guitar — was shot by Obleas Photography on what looks to have been a gorgeous day, June 25, 2011, in Silverado, California. The Born-Free Motorcycle Show is held every year, with this year’s set for June 27 and 28, in Southern CA, and I guess four years ago, Premonition 13 stopped through on their way supporting their lone full-length, 13 (review here), also released in 2011. That album was more than solid in its groove — maybe a Wino record for Wino fans, admittedly — and the band was done shortly thereafter, their final release being a 2012 Volcom split with Radio Moscow and Earthless (some good company to keep).

In some ways, though — and certainly this is a hindsight perspective — it seems like 13 was almost hurt by the level of songwriting on it. Not that cuts like “Hard to Say,” “La Hechicera de la Jeringa” (the video for which was the first Wino Wednesday), “Modern Man” and “Deranged Rock ‘n’ Roller” weren’t memorable, but that maybe they were a little too much so. In seeing the band live and even going back to their early live videos, their heart was clearly in jamming out as they do in the clip below. I’m not saying that they’d still be going if they put out an album of nothing but instrumental jams, but it seems likely they’d at least have wound up with something unique within the vast, ever-growing Wino discography. And who knows? Maybe another record or two as well.

I’d take an album of this.

Enjoy the jam:

Premonition 13, Live at Born-Free 3, Silverado, CA, June 25, 2011

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Wino Wednesday Premiere: Wino & Conny Ochs, “Timeless Spirit”

Posted in audiObelisk on March 11th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Happy Wino Wednesday.

Like its 2012 predecessor, Heavy Kingdom (review here), the sophomore collaboration between Scott “Wino” Weinrich and German singer-songwriter Conny Ochs, titled Freedom Conspiracy, is mostly acoustic but for a couple fuzzy flourishes and there are moments where one or the other of the two of them seems to be at the fore. What’s decidedly changed between the two records, however, is just how blurred those lines get. More than its predecessor, one can get a sense of the Wino & Conny Ochs joint songwriting process, of the joy of it. It’s accounted for in how often one accompanies the other vocally, as on “Foundation Chaos” or the title-track, the wino-conny-ochs-(Photo-by-Albert-Mojica)harmonies of which reap the benefits of the time Wino and Ochs put in on tour for the last album. A cut like “Time out Blackout” is still more Ochs and “Crystal Madonna” is mostly Wino in the verses, but that proportion is changing. Most of this material is theirs, rather than his or his.

“Crystal Madonna” is an older composition as well, and has been featured in live sets since 2012 (see here and here), but Freedom Conspiracy is all the more exciting for the cohesion between the two performers, for the shift from feeling their way through a new mode of expression to, from the sound of the slide-infused “Drain,” enjoying the renewed partnership. Toward the end of the album, they get downright anthemic, voices soaring with sing-along-worthy abandon throughout “Forever Gone” and “Invisible Bullets” — still drumless, but buzz-toned and as rocking as they get — before the more subdued duet “The Great Destroyer” closes out. There’s a strong bluesy presence, and a sense of brooding, and as tempting as it is to relate the former to Wino and the latter to Ochs, the album just makes it too hard to figure out who is adding what. Another sign of the collaboration’s strength. Cleaner in its production than the debut and leaving nothing behind of folk’s accessibility despite the emotional weight, Freedom Conspiracy is a rare feat, wino-conny-ochs-freedom-conspiracyconveying what can at times be gritty or dark thematics with an aura of resonant joy.

The centerpiece of Wino & Conny Ochs‘ second full-length is a song called “Timeless Spirit.” It is a road-song, and its immediate chorus, definitive piano keystrokes, and dual-vocals make it a more than fitting example of what the two parties bring to the table throughout the album. Time-worn but more embracing a transient life than resigning to it, it prefaces some of side B’s grander moments and lives up to the spirit it describes, vital, and, yes, timeless. Like many of the best moments on the record, it has no reservations about inviting the listener to come along for the ride.

Today I have the pleasure of hosting “Timeless Spirit” for streaming ahead of Freedom Conspiracy‘s impending release date. Please find it below, and enjoy:

Wino & Conny Ochs will release Freedom Conspiracy on March 27 through Exile on Mainstream with US vinyl via Earsplit Distro. More info and preorders at the links below.

Exile on Mainstream CD preorder

Exile on Mainstream LP preorder

Earsplit Distro preorder link

Scott “Wino” Weinrich on Thee Facebooks

Conny Ochs on Thee Facebooks

 

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Wino Wednesday: Spirit Caravan Live at Emissions from the Monolith II, May 2001

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 4th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

wino wednesday

The last Emissions from the Monolith festival took place in 2007 in Austin, Texas, but the fest will always be associated with Youngstown, Ohio. A beaten, post-industrial burg off Route 80 on the other side of the Pennsylvania state line, there wasn’t much to see in Youngstown, and that was part of the point. Nestled deep in a street that, on any given day, someone might rob the deli down the block, the Nyabinghi itself was a mirror of dropped-out culture. Not the glorified kind, but the kind that actually didn’t give a fuck. From 2000 through 2006, Emissions from the Monolith was held at the Nyabinghi and its lineups looked an awful lot like the shape of heavy to come.

I only went to one. The last in Ohio, in 2006. A little band called Baroness opened one of the days and to date it’s the only US appearance Colour Haze have ever made. There was some blowup with SunnO))) that resulted in thrown monitors. To tell you the truth, there’s a lot of it I don’t remember. Apparently Orange Goblin and Scissorfight‘s tour took them out that way. Awesome. I remember seeing that in New York, but if I caught it at Emissions, it’s news to me. It was that kind of a thing. A blackout weekend every Memorial Day. There was very little fashionable about heavy rock and doom at the time, and barbecue sandwiches sold on the back patio. It’s hard to write about without glorifying it, but maybe it should be glorified. Probably not if we’re judging by standards of public safety. I remember handing one of my band’s demos to Greg Barratt, who owned the place and booked Emissions. He was polite enough.

Wino was a regular fixture at the fest, between Spirit Caravan in 2000 and 2001 and The Hidden Hand in 2003 and 2004. The year this week’s Wino Wednesday clip comes from is 2001. Spirit CaravanWino, bassist Dave Sherman, drummer Gary Isom — were joined on the bill by Warhorse, Bongzilla, Halfway to Gone, Weedeater, Witch Mountain, Disengage, Pale Divine, Tummler, Sherman‘s own Earthride and many others. I imagine it was a hell of a weekend. At the start of their set, Wino thanks Barratt for putting the thing on and says something about police activity the night before. That sounds about right.

Not sure who filmed it, but the audio is by Michael “Lucifer Burns” Lindenauer. Enjoy:

Spirit Caravan, Live at Emissions from the Monolith II, May 2001

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