Archive for August, 2009

Thoughts on Sixto

An article about Sixto Rodridgez would not be complete without a brief summary of his life His extensive fan page Sugarman.org is full of fun facts (I’m no expert). You can skip the next paragraph if you know the drill. His career could be made into a Hollywood movie, but whether it’s of the Ray / Walk the Line sort, with requisite rise/fall and triumphant ending, or a Raging Bull/ The Wrestler story with their crestfallen heroes depends on your point of view.

Born in Detroit, in 1942 of Mexican immigrant parents, he’s probably one of a small handful of Hispanic-American folk heroes that cross all racial barriers (Morrissey doesn’t count). In 1969/70 Sixto released Cold Fact on Sussex Records. It was a brilliant album that wasn’t heard by too many people at the time. In 1971 he released Coming from Reality, a less enthralling album that didn’t bring any more major success then his first release. He went into semi-retirement and worked odd-jobs around Detroit. Unbeknownst to him, he became a star in Australia and did a few tours there in the late 70s and early 80s. Then it was back to Detroit for another “retirement” before he was once again discovered and widely bootlegged in South Africa, where a Best-Of complication went platinum on the black market. He has toured South Africa multiple time since 1998. (Consequently, every time I meet a South African, I always ask if they know Sixto. For me, this feels is a little like asking an American if they know Elvis. Of course when I tried this last week the South African fellow had no idea who I was talking about.)
(Remember this the next time you make that killer album that no one buys. It could make it all the way to the other side of the world and make you a star in 20 years.)
After years of being widely ignored in his home country, word got back to the states where his popularity started growing. Light in the Attic, a Seattle, based label known for some lovely re-issues (Monks, Karen Dalton, Os Mutantes), re-released Cold Fact last year and Coming From Reality this past May.
I first heard Cold Fact a couple years back. At first the album sounded like a run-of-the-mill Leonard Coen/Bob Dylan rip-off. And it is, but it’s fucking amazing.

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“missing” Bass

In France at Midi fest about 2 weeks ago, my bass went missing on the first day. In the case was some money and a hacky-sack. Rob from the Dent May band was nice enough to lend me his bass for our show. When we were leaving around 1 AM we found the hacky-sack. The next day we went to the police station. They didn’t speak a lot of English so I had my brother Jeff draw this comic:


I also had him draw a couple suggestions on how they might find it (it’s handy having an illustrator in the band). When we returned to the fest that night a friend of ours who had just arrived (Morgan!) said he was peeing in the woods and found it! With money still there. He refused any reward. Let this be a lesson to everyone. Always pee outside.


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“And then you awake like that, quivering like a struck drum, lying there awake and quivering, summoning courage and spit, roll to the right just as in the dream for the nametagged flashlight on the floor by the bed just in case, lie there on your shank and side, shining the light all over, just as in the dream. Lie there panning, looking, all ribs and elbows and dilated eyes. The awake floor is littered with gear and dirty clothes, blond hardwood with sealed seams, two throw-rugs, the bare waxed wood shiny in the windows’ snowlight, the floor neutral, faceless, you cannot see any face in the floor, awake, lying there, faceless, blank, dilated, playing beam over floor again and again, not sure all night forever unsure you’re not missing something that’s right there: you lie there, awake and almost twelve, believing with all your might.” -dfw

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