Leave Your Drama At Home: More Rockin’ And Less Squawkin’!

No matter how we, as human beings, live our lives…drama happens. And the average musician has more drama than the crazy cat lady down the block has bags of used litter on her porch. At every turn, your average wannabe rockstar has a crazy squeeze, a crazier ex, a harem of would-be lovers, and a gaggle of insane stalkers. Then there’s the band drama, manager drama, club drama, fan drama, gear drama, and let’s not even get started on the online drama potential. Before you know it, your band makes "Desperate Housewives" look like 60 Minutes.

Certainly, no one ever said that music was going to be a safe, secure and solid profession to get into. Any industry that pays buckets of money to young, pretty people for jumping around and showing off is bound to inspire zaniness to some degree or another. And the creative process often brings with it a certain amount of tortured genius that fuels the seeds of drama like miracle grow on weeds. Plus, there are more than twenty million musicians around the world that are clamoring for maybe a thousand record deals like contestants on "Survivor" running obstacles courses for a single meager chicken wing. If there was a country built on drama, a musician would be its queen.

However, as much as the music biz is filled with glitz and glamour and the stuff that tabloid headlines are made of, it is also a business. And if there’s one thing you don’t want in the middle of your business, it’s drama. There’s a reason why doctors don’t fight over dying patients about their golf scores, pilots don’t announce to a plane full of passengers that they’ve been dating the stewardess, and the chef doesn’t come to tell you he forgot to wash his hands before he cooked your four-star meal…drama does not belong in business. Whether you’re aspiring to get a record deal or searching for a cure for cancer, leave your drama at home!

The following are a few tips that will help you to navigate the gossip and erratic turbulence of life in the music industry without becoming a slave to your own drama:

1.) Don’t Let The Internet Suck You In—Every since the invention of the internet, there’s been more drama in cyberspace than at a convention for bipolar drag queens. It’s easy to gossip and backbite while you can stay anonymous, so the internet has becoming a breeding ground for anyone and everyone with an agenda, an out-of-control jealousy problem, an axe to grind, or an unbelievable ego. Angry, upset, small-minded people with inferiority complexes like size of Shamu will use the internet to poke at your band with a cyber stick. As hard as it may be, you need to learn to let it all roll off your back. As long as they’re posting about you, it means they’re listening. Removing their inflammatory posts, or replying with similar negativity, feeds the drama until your entire message board is about the trouble-maker on your web site and not your music. What if a potential magazine reviewer or an interested label rep is perusing your page with interest only to find more info about your fight with some internet psycho than about your band? It’s not worth risking a loss of opportunity to engage in drama.

2.) Drama Doesn’t Belong At Your Gigs—When you’re at a show, your goal is to make music, engage the audience, sell CDs, and win the club over so that you can play there again and again. People make room in their schedules, pay for gas, and fork out cash for a cover charge and bar priced drinks, just to hear you play your songs for them. They want to be entertained; to get away from the pressures of their real lives and escape into the safety and excitement of your music and lyrics. What they don’t need is more drama at your gigs then they get from their office co-workers, their wacky neighbors, and bully at their kids’ school combined. Whatever problems you’re having in your personal and professional life, keep it away from your fans and your industry contacts or they’ll start to remember your shows more for the drama than for the music.

3.) Your Manager Is Not Your Therapist—Although a manager’s professional duties make them almost like the band’s parent, don’t cry to mommy every time the drummer calls you a name or your girlfriend decides she wants to play the field. There is too much music industry drama that your manager has to deal with every day, to add to his/her troubles by piling a heap of your personal woes on top of his/her already overburdened shoulders. If a club owner stiffs you at the door, tell your manager. If another band records one of your songs without permission, tell your manager. If your wife compulsively flashes her breasts at your shows, send her to a therapist, but leave your manager out of it.

4.) Take The Crazymakers Off Your Mailing List—A lot of damage control can be done simply by eliminating from your mailings the nuts that show up and bring their own boatload of drama. If you know that your ex has never gotten over you, that she’s off her meds and that she likes to show up and start swinging at every girl she thinks is catching your eye…why would you invite he to your shows? Comb your address book with a big, black sharpie pen and ink out the stalkers, crazies, attention-getters, and overblown drunkards that will turn each and every one of your gigs into a three-ring circus of drama that you’re forced to ringmaster from the stage during your set.

Once you remove the drama from your musical career, you’ll find that your gigs go smoother, your website is a more positive place for fans to hang in cyber space, and the industry is less wary about getting behind what you’re doing. It may seem silly, but too much drama can often be a warning sign that something is really wrong with a band and you may find that industry types will become gun shy around your band if they’re worried that your reputation as drama queen will be more trouble than it’s worth. Working in the music business is hard enough. Don’t give anybody any reason not to work with you. Be smart. Leave your drama at home and show the industry that your music is what’s most important to you and your band.

 

Sheena Metal is a radio host, producer, promoter, music supervisor, consultant, columnist, journalist and musician. Her syndicated radio program, Music Highway Radio, airs on over 2,400 affiliates to more than 126 million listeners. Her musicians’ assistance program, Music Highway, boasts over 10,000 members. She currently promotes numerous live shows weekly in the Los Angeles Area, where she resides. For more info: http://www.sheena-metal.com.

Get Up, Get On And Get Off: The Early Bird Catches The Record Deal!

Imagine this…you’re in the local hospital’s pre-op ward waiting for the removal of your pesky rupturing appendix. You wait and wait in side splitting agony while your doctor chats it up with the nurses, gathering phone numbers from the hot ones. After what seems forever, he gets you prepped and begins the surgery. What should have been a 20-minute procedure turns into two hours. He cracks jokes and talks about his cherry red Ferrari, while you’re lying unconscious with your abdomen split open. Finally, you’re sewn up and ready for recovery but super surgeon and his crack anesthesiologist are having a heated discussion about the science of their golf games and have seeming forgotten you’re passed out underneath them with tubes stuck in every orifice. If this were your surgery experience, you’d freak out, sue the hospital and your hot-shot doc would wind up cleaning bedpans at the state convalescent hospital.

 

Sadly, like our skirt-chasing doctor, many musicians think that the consequences of their actions are immaterial and treat their audience with the same lackadaisical disregard that the before-mentioned doctor treated his poor patient with. These selfish creative types show up to gigs late, set up at their own leisure (roughly the same pace that a 100 year-old tortoise would run the Boston marathon), play as long of a set as they please (regardless of their designated set time) and break down/clear the stage at their own whim with little or no regard to the club’s schedule.

 

However, if you asked any of these artists, they would say that they consider music to be their career…and shouldn’t a career be treated with the same importance and professionalism whether you’re a budding rockstar or an established surgeon? It should, but often it’s not and bands then find their reputations are tarnished with labels like: slow, lazy, and irresponsible simply because they seem unable to get their show on (and off) in a timely manner. Get branded as a slovenly flake and watch the music industry folks jump ship faster than the rich ladies on the Titanic.

 

The following are a few tips that will help you to get up, get on and get off in a timely, professional manner that will impress the powers-that-be and leave you fans wanting more:

 

1.) Have Everything Set Up Before You Set Up—It’s not like you just found out you were playing five minutes before. Gigs are booked days, weeks or months in advance so there’s no reason not to be well informed and well equipped prior to your arrival and set up. Guitars and drums should be tuned, drum kits and guitar pedals set up and dialed in, and song lists printed and distributed so that set up time is minimal. Once the stage is free, a professional band will simply haul their gear onstage, plug it in, and do a few last minute tweaks before they’re ready to rock and roll. The ancient tortoise rockers, however, will plunk the road cases down on the stage and then force friends, fans and industry alike twiddle their musical thumbs in anticipation while each piece of gear is pulled out, unwrapped, wiped off, place into position and screwed in slowly but surely. Truthfully, it’s about as interesting as watching paint dry without the guilty pleasure of getting high off the fumes.

2.) Sound Check/Line Check Is Not A Mini Concert—You may view your sound check as the concert before the concert but you’re not making any friends dragging out your sound check to an hour and a half while bands are lined up out the door waiting to set up their own gear and check their sound. Same goes for the line check. You may be surprised to know that audiences aren’t all that excited to sit and listen to you work out your live sound in front of their eyes and on their time. Save the lengthy tune-up and checking for the Making Of The Band video. Get your levels quick and get to rockin’!

3.) Plan Out Your Set Time Well Before Your Set—The key to a tight set is the prep work that goes on before the night of the gig. Many artists believe that the longer they’re onstage the more the audience gets revved up, but there is something to be said about "too much of a good thing." Plan out your set, time it and then time it again and make sure that it comes in a few minutes under your designated set list time. Little passive aggressive tricks like cramming in two or three extra songs at the end of the set or coaxing your friends into screaming for an encore only serves to enrage your sound man and confuse your crowd and extensive tuning and chatting amongst yourselves and audience members in between songs is just plain tedious. The tighter your set is the more professional it sounds to the ears of your audience and the happier you’ll make your bookers, promoters and club owners.

4.) Tear Down Should Be The Quickest Of All—If you thought your set up was quick, your band’s tear down should be lightning fast in comparison. So much time is wasted every night at a music venue as musicians dawdle after their sets, drinking and chatting with friends, while their gear lies piled up onstage, preventing the next artists from getting set up. Pick up your instruments, haul them of stage, and take them outside or into the green room. There you can wrap your gear up, clean it off, and pack it away into cases and into your cars. Then, it’s time to toss back a few beers and gab with the masses until closing time, without interrupting the flow of the evening.

 

Imagine this…you’re in a local club waiting to check out an act your label has sent you to scout. You wait and wait, growing more bored and more drunk while the band you’ve been sent to see chats it up with the women in the room, giving t-shirts and CDs to the really hot ones. After what seems like forever, the band takes the stage and begins their set. What should have been a 30-minute showcase turns into an hour or more as the band plays a loose set, stopping often to tune, complain about the sound, yell to the bartender for drinks and crack jokes with select audience members; while you sit unimpressed trying to get a feel for the band’s style. Finally, their set ends and you wait to approach the band on behalf of your label but these super rockstars are still onstage wrapping up endless cords and wiping down each piece of gear while they chat with each other about how much their set rocked. If this were your A&R experience, you’d give up waiting to speak with these lazy musicians, go back to your label and tell them to forget about this particular band and these hot-shot rockstars will wind up working at Starbuck’s until they go on Social Security. This doesn’t have to happen to you. Learn to get up, get on and get off. You’ll soon have the reputation as an easy-to-work-with, professional, reliable band. After all, you never know who might be in the audience to see you on any given night.

 

 

Sheena Metal is a radio host, producer, promoter, music supervisor, consultant, columnist, journalist and musician. Her syndicated radio program, Music Highway Radio, airs on over 2,400 affiliates to more than 126 million listeners. Her musicians’ assistance program, Music Highway, boasts over 10,000 members. She currently promotes numerous live shows weekly in the Los Angeles Area, where she resides. For more info: http://www.sheena-metal.com.

My baby brother Michael died yesterday.

My baby brother Michael died yesterday.

He was profoundly retarded. When he was born, the doctors told us it would be a miracle if he lived to be 16. But he did, and then he went on living another 7 years.

Michael was a baby all his life. He didn’t walk. He needed to be fed. He wore diapers. He was mostly blind, but he loved to have the sunshine on his face. He loved to hear people talk to him and loved having people fawn over him. He loved music. He hated to be held, but there was no other way to move him around. He may have been my brother, but he was heavy. He hated loud noises. He hated having to wait for his dinner and would make an awful racket.

Michael was lucky that my parents shouldered the burden of taking care of him. My parents chose to sacrifice everything they could to make Michael happy, and they succeeded. Michael was happy almost every day of his life. What more could anyone ask out of this wicked world?

And I miss him terribly. Even though I knew it was going to happen soon. Even though I’ve been expecting that call for years. It’s hard to realize exactly how much you love someone like that until they’re gone, and now he’s gone, my sweet baby brother Michael.

Folked Up

Sorry to have disappeared like this, but it’s been a crazy few weeks here, with visitors galore and lots of stuff to do. It’s always nice having visitors, and the stuff to do was free, thanks to the generosity of the PR guy for the Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s music series which accompanies their re-opening New York exhibition.

Now, as readers of this blog know, I’ve had my problems with the organizers of this series, but after they screwed my plans up, I let it go. After all, there was nothing further I could do. But I was, on the other hand, offered tickets to any shows I wanted to see, so I took full advantage.

The series of shows I attended got off to a rocky start. Little Jimmy Scott is 82 years old and has never been in the best of health, but I knew it’d be at least an intermittently good show because he was travelling with his regular band, the Jazz Expressions, who are a tight, traditional post-bop band. Plus, it was the dancer’s birthday, and I suspected she’d enjoy this. The opening act could have gone either way, the weird combination of trombonist Roswell Rudd and acoustic ragtime guitarist Duck Baker. Well, it went one way: straight down. The series of concerts this was part of was the Broadway unit, so Rudd and Baker spent over an hour allegedly improvising a medley of Broadway tunes. There were some which were recognizable, and it started and ended with “Lullaby of Broadway,” but inbetween was pure wankery. My take on it was that Rudd and Baker know each other socially and when one of them — probably Rudd — got offered this gig, he went to the other and said “Wanna make some easy money and go to Europe at the same time?” Like an idiot, I sat through the whole thing, and it was excruciating. After the break, on came the Jazz Expressions, with a local tenor guy substituting for their regular saxophonist, and doing a good job at it. Finally, Jimmy Scott came out in a wheelchair, looking horribly emaciated. It was clear from the beginning that his breath control, pitch, and intonation are in pretty bad shape, although he did briefly catch fire during “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.” All I could do was remember the early gigs I saw in 1991, when John Goddard at Village Music in Mill Valley flew him and the Expressions in for one of his parties at the Sweetwater in Mill Valley. I’ve got those memories — and, somewhere, the album he did shortly afterwards — but the Berliners in attendance (and there weren’t too many) only got to hear shadows.

The next night, I was back. I’d seen Maria Muldaur hanging around during the set-break the night before, and she was looking good, so I was looking forward to her gig. This time, I was prepared for the opener, which turned out to be one Masha Qrella, a local indie-rocker who had somehow convinced the people curating this event that she could do Broadway tunes. She, another guitar-playing woman, a guy with some odd-looking keyboards, and a drummer slunk onto stage, and wisps of feedback started, followed by a drone. “I have often walked/Down this stret before,” she intoned, “But the pavement always stayed beneath my teeth before.” Okay… I was up and out of my seat before the song ended. The schtick was “What if Joy Division played Broadway tunes?” Unsurprisingly the audience loved her. There’s always a market for gloom here, after all. I’m happy to say, though, that Maria was much better. She apparently hadn’t been aware that she was booked for the Broadway, and not the Greenwich Village series, and only learned that she was expected to play Broadway tunes when she landed. The fact that that’s not what she does didn’t seem to faze the organizers, who seem to have spent very little time trying to understand the music they were booking, and to her credit, she managed to come up with a bunch of material that could conceivably fall under “Broadway,” like playing a Fats Waller tune and reminding us that the revue of his songs called Ain’t Misbehavin’ was a success on Broadway. She was backed by a fantastic band, anchored by bassist Ruth Davis, and featuring a number of her long-time associates, and among the gems she pulled out of her song-bag was an obscure Leiber and Stoller number called “Some Cats Know,” which I have decided should be the Older Guy national anthem. Once again, though, the house was small — and smaller after the Qrella bunch left.

Next up was the Greenwich Village series, in which a few well-known names were paired with total unknowns that none of my New York sources could identify. This series was apparently co-curated by Jeff Lewis, who isn’t exactly a household name himself, but is apparently a neat songwriter, if Peter Stampfel’s word is to be trusted. Lewis led off the series himself, along with a poet named Professor Louie, but I missed the show. I did, however, respond to an invitation to see Bob Neuwirth do his thing, because one never knows what kind of odd song he’s going to pull out next, plus I was told that he’d be performing with David Mansfield, who’s as great a side-man as you could ask for. Opening was a talent-free (and totally un-folky) young guy named Ish Marquez, who brought along a large claque which he used as an excuse to stay on stage well past the time he was supposed to have left. This meant that Neuwirth’s set, which was being recorded by Radio Eins, wouldn’t be broadcast in its entirety, which is a shame, because it got better as it went along, except for the brief moment when a drunken middle-aged blond woman stood up and loudly declared “Dave Von Ronk.” This stopped Neuwirth in his tracks. “Dave van Ronk…um…so?” She just repeated the name (not getting it right on subsequent tries). Finally she sat down. The late start for Neuwirth’s set meant that I was too tired to stick it out, so about 12:30 I headed home, just as Mansfield began playing his fiddle. Damn.

To show how totally clueless the curators of this series were, the next booking was Joe Boyd, who’s touring Germany in support of the German translation of his book White Bicycles, and had brought Geoff Muldaur (Maria’s ex-husband, and Joe’s childhood friend and college roommate) along to provide musical interludes during the reading. Which is fine, except for one thing: this series was allegedly about the Greenwich Village folk scene, and the Cafe Global, where the folk stuff was presented, had been made over into a fake club with “Greenwich Village Folk Club” signs. And, if you’ve read Joe’s book (and by all means, you should: just click that link up there!), you know that he was firmly on the Cambridge side of the great Cambridge-vs.-New York folk debate, excoriating people like Alan Lomax and Pete Seeger and Dave van Ronk and building up, among others, the Jim Kweskin Jug band, which the Muldaurs were part of. Ah, well. At least the reading — in English and German, with a German reader — went well, and I must say Geoff Muldaur is in astonishing voice even today. Apparently he’d been touring in Holland, and had I known how good he was, I would have thought about going to see him. As it was, four or five numbers were clearly not enough to satisfy me.

Next up was Peter Stampfel, the artist I’d tried to present, only to be shot down. I can’t be particularly objective about Stampfel, a huge influence on my teenage years as a part of the Holy Modal Rounders, and a living repository of incredibly embarrassing stories about the New York folk elite, so I won’t be. He called me when he got to town, and I took him to the bloggers’ Stammtisch on Thursday, which he enjoyed. The show itself was pretty wild. Openers were another talent-free act, a husband-and-wife duo (he on guitar, she pounding on a couple of plastic buckets) who call themselves Prewar Yardsale. It became painfully obvious after five minutes why they were so obscure, and why they deserve to remain so. Stampfel came on, yowling and banging away at a guitar — and, later, a banjo — offending the musical, cultural, and general taste of the audience, who began filing out after a while. He’s been writing a lot recently, and some of his new songs are just great. And he encored with “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” of all things. That really confused the people who were left.

The series continues this coming weekend with David Peel and the Lower East Side (who knew Peel was still around? And who’d go see him in this day and age) with Roger Manning, the stalwart anti-folk singer, opening, a clear case of bad priorities, on Friday, and Saturday sees Eric Andersen, who I understand has been living in Scandinavia for a number of years, with someone called Langhorne Slim (no relation to the great Greenwich Village folk guitarist Bruce Langhorne) opening the show. And I missed last night’s show by Biff Rose (although I got to meet him while waiting for Stampfel’s set to start) and the no-doubt well-named Dufus.

However clueless the music programming has been, though, it appears to be well overshadowed by the cluelessness of the exhibition which it supports. I’ve only seen one room of it, and it was completely incoherent. I’m planning to go back, though, and file a complete report here.

The Garnets –Indian Uprising

The Garnets –Indian Uprising/Teenage Summer Crash Course –Pink Elephant PE 22.837 (1974 Dutch issue)

Although written and produced by J. Vincent Edwards, The Garnets seem to have been a bunch of mutoid Belgians, who never having fully recovered from losing the Congo, went West and ventured into Redbone territory with this fine single. While lacking the full on assault of Propeller’s Apache Woman or Abacus’ Indian Dancer, Indian Reservation is simply full on stupid, but oh so marvelous…Highly recommended with no reservations whatsoever…Teenage Summer Crash Course on the other hand is an OK-Glam-by-numbers rocker but sounds rather out of breath and middle-aged.

Click on title for a full version of Indian Uprising

The Cable Report – early 10/20/07

– Odd and intense audience misbehavior to be had on tonight’s Real Time with Bill Maher. It reminded me slightly of a personal experience that occurred last Saturday night. No one cares what you have to yell.

– Simultaneous UFO (History Channel Jr.) and Chupacabra (Natty Gee….the Is It Real? program) docs on LATE. The “last” button got a nice workout! These channels certainly know how to synchronize their commercials.

– Don’t steal this idea, but I’ve always wanted to write a magazine piece about PG-13 horror films. Much to choose from tonight, including the hilarious Stay Alive.

– VH1 Classic’s 40 Greatest Metal Songs Of All Time is tough to watch. A perfect storm of base pop-cultural jokes, especially regarding the long infertile realm of 80’s Hair Metal.

Nuns on the Run my friends, Nuns on the Run!!! 

Pet Sematary on HBO+, remembered only for the cringe-inducing Achilles tendon slice scene and a too-late-to-be-that-catchy Ramones song. You know, the movie is not THAT bad.

 

CHOIX A PARTIR DE FABIENNE DEL SOL

If that’s translated poorly, don’t blame me, blame Babelfish. My parents raised an English speaker. As alluded to in an earlier post, 2007 is the year that I discovered THE BRISTOLS and their new-solo vocalist, FABIENNE DEL SOL. I’m hooked. Fabienne herself has a new solo record out now, her second, called “BETWEEN YOU AND ME”. This French-native English lass skirts the brassy 60s pop of her homeland, and marries it to raw surfbeat, stomping garage rock of a decidedly “Mersey” bent, and full-blown sugartown pop music. This latest record is better than her very solid solo debut, “NO TIME FOR SORROWS”, and is probably as good as her BRISTOLS material (which is fantastic – all of it – start with the new greatest-hits collection). I don’t know, I’ll have to get back to ya. I’m crossing my digits for a US tour to see if what goes on in the studio will translate to a live stage, but after seeing Bristols clips on You Tube, I’m fairly certain that it will. Let me know what you think!

(All tracks from “Between You And Me” CD)

Play or Download
FABIENNE DEL SOL – “Vilainis Filles Mauvais Garcons”
Play or Download FABIENNE DEL SOL – “Pas Gentile”
Play or Download FABIENNE DEL SOL – “I’m Confessin’”

NIGHT KINGS ONE & NIGHT KINGS TWO

Once THE NIGHTS AND DAYS had broken up in the late 80s, word started filtering out of Seattle that Rob Vasquez had quickly put together a new, like-minded band called THE NIGHT KINGS, dedicated to raw, mono-fied, transistor-burst garage punk. When evidence finally surfaced in 1990 that confirmed said rumors, there was dancing in the hovels and houses of dozens record dorks countrywide, mine included. Salvo #1 was a sole track on a four-song compilation EP on Estrus Records called “TALES FROM ESTRUS”. The comp actually led off with THE NIGHT KINGS’ “Dirty Work”, and it was a glorious thing. Ninety seconds of crunch that brings forth Link Wray’s pencil-poked amps as played through by a ham-handed SONICS. And that voice – man, what a howler. Vasquez was back.

Salvo #2, maybe half a year later, was a split single with a short-lived (mercifully) Seattle band called YUMMY. The Night Kings’ side was called “Bugweed”, and it practically blew the grooves off the vinyl. Loud, overloaded, garage scorch with no precedent and no antecedent – something pure & unique and totally wild. I’m posting both tracks for you today. Soon the Night Kings would release an In The Red 45, a Sub Pop 45, some comp stuff and a full-blown LP. Here’s what they started blowing minds.

Play or Download THE NIGHT KINGS – “Dirty Work” (from 1990 “Tales From Estrus” 7”EP compilation)
Play or Download THE NIGHT KINGS – “Bugweed” (from 1991 split 45 with YUMMY)

Mimsy Farmer, Danger Girl

    Like my entry on the writer Ted Lewis, I am going to write about somebody who is not a musician but is definitely rock and roll. Mimsy Farmer is my favorite actress, and the mere fact that she had a prominent role in the film Riot On Sunset Strip makes her Lost in the Grooves worthy. Here's my take on the wild-eyed girl from Chicago:

    Mimsy Farmer has led a charmed life as an actress. At age 22, the native Chicagoan scored a part in Riot on Sunset Strip, one of the hippest films made in the Summer of Love. Moreover, she got what was arguably the most dramatic moment in the movie, playing the victim of a bad trip in the obligatory acid freakout scene. Then, when the 60’s were over, rather than stooping to taking roles in schmaltzy 70’s films or just fading into obscurity, she got in with the European set, moved to Italy and spent the next two decades starring in a slew of cult Euro horror and crime films, directed by Dario Argento and the like.

    As much hipster credibility and critical acclaim Riot and all the horror flicks might have gotten her, though, none of these films were among the ones which defined Mimsy as an actress. She had a Great Trilogy, three films which represent the nadir of her acting life.

Mimsy Farmer is a danger girl. Her natural beauty calls attention to her, and once you get a close look you see that there is something volatile lurking behind the pretty eyes and inside the head covered by the cute page-boy haircut. Film directors clearly recognized this unstable facet of Mimsy’s being, as they were always casting her in peril-filled, if not outright violent, roles and scenes. Sometimes she was the victim and other times the perpetrator, but in either case there was just always trouble surrounding her.

    Hot Rods to Hell, the first in the Great Mimsy Triolgy, came out in 1967, the same year as Riot on Sunset Strip, but had a decidedly 50’s-ish feel to it. Dana Andrews plays a Ward Cleaver type who experiences trauma as he, his wife and teenage daughter move to a new town, where they are terrorized by a trio of young delinquents. Mimsy portrays Gloria, the mercurial moll of the little gang. In the most memorable scene of the film, Mimsy, her boyfriend and his best friend are sitting in a parked car at a Lover’s Lane kind of locale. Mimsy’s boyfriend, after having an argument with her, gets out of the car and goes over to talk to Andrews’s pretty teenage daughter, who is sitting by herself near some water and looking pensive. Mimsy responds to this by first slamming her fists on the steering wheel, then biting her own finger. Next, just when you think she’s going to start crying or maybe go after her boyfriend, a psychotic smile suddenly spreads across her face. She reaches over and starts pulling her boyfriend’s friend’s hair, and when he cries uncle she lays a passionate kiss on him. After that he’s hers. The best bit of dialogue in the film comes across when Mimsy talks to her former boyfriend about what might have been possible for them if they’d been able to stay together, bringing out his response, “What’d we ever have that wasn’t gonna wind up in Splitsville?”

    More (1969), Barbet Schroeder’s (Barfly, Reversal of Fortune, Single White Female) directorial debut, and the middle piece of the Great Mimsy Trilogy, has become a cinematic footnote for the fact that it features a soundtrack by Pink Floyd. But this a great, under-appreciated film which was looking a few years ahead of its time in depicting the downfall of 60’s hipster drug culture. Stefan is a German student who’s just finished his studies and is looking to spend some time tramping around Europe, experiencing life and enjoying his freedom. While at a party in Paris he locks eyes with a pretty blonde (Mimsy, of course). They share a round of margaritas in the kitchen, and from there he is stuck on her and about to be led into a downward-spiraling adventure which will take him through drug addiction, sexual depravity, petty crime and general personality deterioration. Stefan’s friend in Paris tries to warn him off Mimsy, telling him she’s a junkie and a thief who has already seen several guys like Stefan to their decay, but the dangerous Mimsy is irresistible to the hapless student. This film is worth watching if not just for the beautiful shots of Ibiza, where Mimsy flees, giving Stefan an out to avoid the hazards she knows she will bring him; he doesn’t take the offer and follows her there, setting up the film’s tragic climax.

    The third and final title in the Great Mimsy Trilogy is the best film she ever acted in. The blurry, existential, voice-over happy Road to Salina (1971) is another overlooked mini-classic. Robert Walker, Jr. (Walker, Sr. portrayed the creepy Bruno in Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train) plays a drifting hippy who’s wandering along a quiet West Coast town when he spots a house with a water well out in front of it. Thirsty and in need of a washing, Walker indulges himself, not knowing that this is the house that will change his life. As he’s splashing water on his face, he is confronted by the matron of the house, a clearly unbalanced woman (played by Rita Hayworth, who sadly foreshadows her real-life future here – she suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, becoming a confused shadow of her former self in her latter years) who takes him to be her long-lost son, Rocky. Walker recognizes that this is a precarious set-up, but finds that he can’t turn down the promise of a hot meal and a bed to take a nap in. And when he wakes up he starts to think that maybe it’s not such a bad thing that the batty marm thinks he’s her son. It seems that all she wants from him is his help in pumping gas and serving lunch and beer to the locals (the house is also a business, a kind of combo gas station/weekend café). The rest of the time he’s free to eat and sleep and shower and go to the beach. And all he has to do is pretend to be her son and let her dote on him. If all of that doesn’t totally sell him on the house, his “sister” does. Mimsy, once again playing a wild-eyed femme fatale, eventually shows up at the house and is introduced to Walker as his sibling. But this is a weird kind of sister: one who likes to let her brother see her naked and who takes naps with him and sleeps with him under a tent on the beach. Walker’s head-trip is magnified immensely as he tries to determine whether Mimsy really believes he’s her brother of if she’s fucking with him – and he’s trying to sort all of this out as he’s falling in love with her. Pop this film in on a rainy Sunday afternoon and you won’t walk away from it. Plus, you’ll get to see Hayworth and the senior Ed Begley do the frug.

    Between Riot on Sunset Strip and More, Mimsy Farmer temporarily got out of acting and became involved in something called “psychedelic therapy,” a fringe school of psychological treatment where the “counselors” apparently dosed old drunks in hopes of getting them off the sauce. Mimsy seems to have regarded this experiment as a failure, but the acid appears to have inspired her; having already tuned in and turned on, she dropped out of her native country, citing the moneyed shallowness prevalent in American life. She met and married a European man and never looked back. That’s a set of circumstances that could be the makings of an interesting film, one starring a daring, tempestuous, willful woman – a part perfectly suited for an actress like Mimsy Farmer.

    Mimsy’s present whereabouts and doings are unknown. In her bio on the Hot Rods to Hell website, for current residence it simply says, “Europe.” A 1997 feature article on her in Fuz magazine reported that, since 1989 (the year of her last known film role) she’d been living in semi-retirement in France, with a new husband and new daughter, and suffering from some sort of health problem. That’s all vague and maybe a little sad, but there’s also something triumphant in the way that Mimsy has let herself fade from the public eye quietly and gracefully; a good actress knows when it’s time to tone things down.

Indie Rock had soul?

Read This.

I can’t even begin to list the issues with this piece. The pitch e-mail is a good place to start. The conception the next best. Based on sound, Arcade Fire are about as white as it gets. Thanks for the scoop. Who does not know or expect this? Why would anyone attend an Arcade Fire performance (or one by any other TOO-WHITE!!! indie rock band mentioned here) and decide that “exposing” their lack of “soul” would make a pointed magazine article? It doesn’t matter that one of the members hails from non-white descent, they could be comprised of Ethiopians and still be white, seeing as how they basically rewrite the Hooters for hipsters. The based-on-sound angle (not always taken in the article) would make TV On The Radio pretty white as well. And Wilco isn’t exactly the Pharaohs. Uh…Indie Rock is too white? Who’da thunk it?!?!? The closest Indie Rock gets to black is when it thinks it’s black (Jon Spencer, The Make-Up). Don’t listen to Indie Rock if you want a Stax boxed set. What the hell is going on here? Reverse slumming?!? Or just slumming? I should afford less quality to a form of music because it doesn’t share sonic or emotional attributes with Black, indigenous, or traditional forms? I suppose that argument has been made for ages, but why now? It’s as pointless as me pitching “There’s Not Enough White Indie Rock in Modern R&B.” Maybe I should pitch that.

Bee Tee Dubya….not a lot of research went into this post.