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
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:
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
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.
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
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.