"The most expensive car my family ever owned was a green, 2001 Hyundai Accent. It was a sweet, basic car with roll-up windows and working AC - a real dang treasure of a car. It must have been 2003, or 4, or 5 when I begged my mom to let me borrow our magical Hyundai to drive from Tucson to Phoenix. I was dying to check out SKALAPOLOOZA 3, an AZ Ska show Rude Ryan was putting on. I was a pretty responsible square of a kid (I was in my early 20s), but I was still a little shocked when mom agreed to let me go. I must have skanked back to my room with glee upon her approval. Yes, I still lived at *home and yes, I planned my best ska outfit with pompadouric visions of BIG hair.
*There is nothing wrong with living at home. In fact, bills are terrible. Stay home. FOREVER.
I enjoyed all the boring scenery on the drive from Tucson to Phoenix with minimal nervousness; hell, I was freeeeeeeeeee. The 2 hour journey took me deep into downtown Phoenix to a space called Phix. It was an art gallery operated by what I would now refer to as a "moody dad type." His name was Lee. #swoon.
The building had tall black walls that made me feel a little uneasy to be honest. What was beyond these intimidating walls and why were they so tall? My heart raced as I paid my cheap entry and got stamped in at the door, but a smile soon stretched across my face as I entered. There were pimply faced people decked out in checkers, chucks, and vintage everywhere. I realized I was among my people, Ska Kids.
I stood in the back in awe of my newfound heaven. A band named Fayuca was halfway into a Sublime-like set (no shade; I loved Sublime)(ok, some shade, why did we like Sublime?). I got the sudden urge to do a nice and easy skank to a sweet song they were playing. Dorkily nervous, I launched myself into the rhythm. It felt ever so nice.
Fayuca finished up and a band called The Dietrichs began to load in. I had heard the name "Dietrichs" a lot in my tiny ska circle and was ready to check them out for myself. The hot controversy surrounding the band was centered around the question, "Are they even a ska band?" Seeing them was partially the reason why I decided on making the trip. I was ready to officially hash out the controversy that plagued my ska heart for weeks. I'm kidding. I didn't really care. All my friends loved them and I needed to know them for myself (Hi, Emily!).
Load in took a minute as they had quite a few members playing horns, a gigantic keyboard, and the typical guitar, bass, and drums setup. The crowd grew larger as we waited. I could feel the energy shifting. Then the vocalist walked on...
She was decked out in a full look, head to toe. She looked tough, unafraid to stare down the crowd and ready to smack down if things got outta control. I felt nervous and excited just looking at her. It was clear there wasn't a single nerve in her body. She stepped up to the mic and greeted us with a simple, "Hi." The band immediately broke into CHAOS. Every member struck, blew, or pounded at their instrument like it was the end of our lives. Bodies moved, fists pumped, vocals GANGED and SHOUTED at the tops of lungs. It was happening. I was at a DIETRICHS show.
Sweat poured down my face as I moved along ferociously with the crowd in mayhem! We shot our knees up in unison during "Youth and Consequences." We pumped our fists and screamed the chorus to "Keep on dancing." We hopped and hooted along to "Let's go," and when Liz went full scream on "Human Fly Trap," my jaw dropped to the floor. I felt as if my youth had exploded with joy and intensity and launched my existence into another fucking dimension. This excited rage grew wilder as Steven (Trumpet and Keys) and Liz (Lead vocalist) manically performed the end of "Bats" with Steven convulsing on the floor while screeching "They're coming - baby baby - they're coming!" A silence fell over the room at the song's conclusion, then Steven shot back up to the keys to play the intro to "One Final Stab." We lost our shit collectively singing along "Oh yeah oh yeah oh yeah - alright alright alright." God. Damn. This band could play. This band could perform. This band could convince us that nothing else held any importance over what we were collectively feeling in that room. No reservations. No worries. A Moment For Us. I was floored.
Amidst all the chaos came a moment that solidified my lifetime Dietrichs fandom. The tempo slowed and the lyrics started, "My fingers trace letters carved in cold stone. I just can't bare to sleep in our home." Our arms locked together in the crowd. We swayed back and forth emoting along with Liz, "Goodbye, goodbye, gooooodbyyyyyyeeeeeeee all the sunny days always end in black." In that moment, I felt loved.
I'll end this lengthy memory with 3 additional memories etched into my heart:
1) The Betsey Johnson Fashion Show (I still have a photo of Liz's custom dress)
2) Seeing Dietrichs play the Marquee (We felt so proud)
3) The Balloon drop at the Violenlty CD Release show (Still makes me tear up)
I love you forever, Dietrichs. Thank you."
A MUSICAL TRIBUTE TO THE WORKS OF JIM HENSON AND THE JIM HENSON COMPANY
"Sometime in 2012 an invitation was sent out to DIY musicians everywhere to show their love for muppets and all things Jim Henson Co. related and record a tribute to the beloved Jim Henson.
I for one was thrilled beyond belief. Jim Henson was a hero to me growing up, as he was for many other odd ball kids of the 70’s and 80’s. Not only did Jim amaze us with lovable colorful creatures and mysterious and entrancing new worlds, he included extremely well written and catchy music to boot.
This compilation is filled to the brim with 50 beautiful to bizarre interpretations of music from the likes of Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, The Muppet Show, The Dark Crystal, The Labyrinth, and more."-Davin Abegg (Secret Abilities)
"In one way or another, Jim Henson projects have always been a part of my life, like any big situation that I've dealt with in life. When I learned about death, it was on an episode of Sesame Street when they explained to Big Bird that Mr. Hooper wasn't coming back. A week later, Lucille Ball died and I understood what that meant to have somebody you know die and be gone. A week after that, a woman who took care of me named Linda, to help my mom while she was working and taking care of three kids, had passed up. When is an awkward junior high are The Muppets in It Ain't Easy Being Green was a song that I connected to .when I was dealing with abuse from my dad, a movie that helped me through that was, oddly enough, The Muppets movie helped me through that. This idea of hoping that miracles can happen or things can get better resonated with me, I guess. When I went through a dark, broody stage, teen stage, it was The dark crystal and The Labyrinth. Even when I hitchhiked around the country, I would listen to on Spotify Moving Right Along.
So no matter where I've been in life, Jim Henson's projects have always followed me in essence. Then when I got into making music and saw, at least in the DIY scene, what felt like a considerable sort of Muppet show influence. A kind of vaudeville or variety hour theme that was everywhere. The more I met people in these scenes. The more I realized a lot of us were, in one fashion or other, raised by Henson shows. I thought it would be cool to have a bunch of bands cover songs from Henson Projects, seeing as so many of us had this shared love and appreciation of Jim Henson.
Without Jason Kron's help, though, I would have never got it off the ground. I talked about doing it for years. He got tired of me talking about and was the one he pushed it into a reality. It was my idea, but it was his drive that got it off the ground."-Troy Simons (The Hunger Artists)
"I am so impressed that this compilation got released. 50 songs by 50 different bands, and it made it out. Probably due to both universal love for muppets and Troy Simons’ friendliness. We had been playing shows with Troy and his band for a while, and we were all really excited at the notion of this compilation. Some of the best songs in the whole world are in muppet movies and shows.
Jim Henson inspired me to obsessively make puppets out of trash like milk jugs and discarded packaging as a kid. I was that kid who put on puppet shows for his classmates in 2nd and 3rd grade. Which evolved into dumpster diving to make weird monster puppets and costumes as a kid-brained adult. I think his work is really important, and I owe a lot to him.
I’m really glad that this compilation is getting re-released for three reasons. Troy worked really, really hard to make sure this came to life. But also, it’s a lovely time capsule of Phoenix DIY music in 2012. The magic of that time, for me, was the eclectic friendliness of the bands and the songs, and what better to capture eclectic friendliness than with the songs of the muppets? Lastly, anything muppets has always been about a bunch of misfits staying optimistic in the face of bad times. So there couldn’t be a better time for us to revisit these fun, warm songs than right now."-Alex Benson (Rough Tough Dynamite)
You want pop? You got it!
You want beautiful harmonies? You got it!
You want a band that has constant friction that ends up being the catalyst for amazing music? You got it ( I was in a van with them for a month... Believe me... I know!)
You want dynamic song structure? Shiiiiiii... You got it!
You want some Hall & Oates call & response vocals mixed the smoothness of Yo La Tengo, and the siqness of the Unicorns? Pfffft... I got you motherfucker! Buy this shit already!
Sometime around November of 2056 when we're all hiding away from Covid-41 I'll have my grandkids all gathered around their screens on a family ZOOM call- I'll be signing into the call right after tweaking the presets on my VR DMT operating system that teaches you how to play the six-armed saxophone with downloadable cybernetic extensions that I got when I upgraded the Bacterial Computer purchased back in 2052. "Google" isn't really a thing anymore, but somehow "Ask Jeeves" made a come-back and occasionally one of my grandkids will use it to look up the strange fashions and habits of fifty years ago.
"So wow Grandpa, music must have been so weird before it could just be planted directly in your brain!"
My memories before the Third Water War of 2043 are faded and a little rusty, but there are still quite a few in the deeper corners of my pineal gland not yet uploaded (I can't afford the new converters) so I'm just riffing on my answer to their questions here...
You see, people used to travel really great distances to play music. Yes, we still had pre-recorded too, but as I recall the culture was deeply divided in those days. Some people preferred to watch musicians actually making the music live, with instruments and voices, in a physical place, where we would all gather together and make a "show". You know, we had "bands" back then- I was in a few different "bands". Just friends you would get together with making sounds and putting on shows. We'd actually drive all over the country- even to different states- they weren't all walled off then, and only a few checkpoints. Most of the bands back then just made music to help sell beer, but there were some that made "creative music" too- and if you made creative music it was also your job to try to find all the other people making creative music too. No, I don't mean to say you got purchase credits for it, it was just part of what we did back then.
So there used to be a city called Tucson, it's not really there anymore. I mean, it's still a place, it's just not the same. In Tucson there was a band called Sugarbush. It was twin sisters named Dawn and Kee, and these two dudes named Ryan and Dmitri. They had guitars, and a bass, and some drums. Maybe there was a keyboard somewhere in there? They sang, sometimes they danced around a little, but people who came to listen to their music danced A LOT. They had a big old van they drove around in, brewing kombucha and giving each other stick and poke tattoos while driving between Arizona and New Mexico. A couple times they even drove all the way up to Olympia (they changed the name back to Cheetwoot in 2033) and we always played the shows together- first one band then the other, not always in the same order. We existed in parallel currents, like the same frequencies making different patterns, or the same patterns playing different frequencies. Things got really weird sometimes. They took us around the desert and showed us secret holes full of water in the mountains behind Paul McCartney's ranch. Well, you don't know who that is, it doesn't matter. They were like very tall runaway feral children raised by wolves, I remember this one time in Taos everyone got possessed by the feral spirits, a woman started hollering in spirit language and poured a shaker full of sugar down the front of her pants, like "Sugar-BUSH"!
-Arrington De Dionyso
The Black Jacket was magnetic
John’s songs just caught everyone’s ear, no matter what kind of crowd we played for. I was never there for the writing of the songs, we sometimes practiced for fifteen minutes before a show, and more than once new songs just appeared on the set list. I’d ask what key it was in and we would just go. I’m not a real musician, the songs were just dead simple. So we’d have this savage beat and John would take off into space like some sort of manic Pentecostal holy man, and the rest of us were just holding on, keeping it steady.
Then there would be these solemn moments, these songs with faint, fragile heartbeats that no one would dare disturb by even breathing too loud. We even had this bag of shakers we would pass around to everyone, which always seemed dorky, but went over really well. Shows what I know. Live Black Jacket shows were an anarchic celebration of everyone there. They were never the same. Something was always broken, but it didn’t matter. The lines between the band and the audience were blurry. You didn’t have to be good, you just had to be there. At the risk of sounding like a Sedona mom, I always felt like it was an open invitation to live life. And for a little bit, everyone felt free to do just that.
Titty Hard On
There was a time in my life where I would seek out every new punk band in Tucson, and make it a point to go see them live, or connect with them in any way. T.H.O. may have actually been the last band that I went out of my way to track down. They were playing a set at some kind of youth event, so I piled a bunch of punks into my Barbie Jeep and we were off. We only caught the end of their set unfortunately, but connected with them afterwards. The friendship was initiated. Apparently they were a band before, split up, then got back together when they realized they could play music and also have fun. We roped them into our small, tight, DIY punk scene at Dry River, and their goofiness grew, and was embraced, especially by the much younger punks.
At some point in their existence, and because their bassist Dawson was so inconsistent with his live appearances, I was asked to fill in. This happened moments before their set one night. Luckily, I was very familiar with the songs, and they didn’t seem too concerned about how sloppy we could be. My career on bass only lasted two or three shows, and the only song I distinctly remember playing is Wipe Out by the Surfaris.
T.H.O. had a good amount of memorable songs during their existence, but no release before BurritoxCore had as many consistent classics contained within. The biggest hit with the kids was Rat Tail Girl Free. Maybe that song instilled a sort of freedom to just be who you wanted to be without the restrictions or pressures of being in a relationship, or expectations to be some type of generic model citizen. The moment I first put on this album, I erupted into laughter because of the weird scream that you hear within the first few seconds. It wholeheartedly set the tone immediately. At first, this whole album seemed foreign to me, and a big surprise since I didn’t even know they were writing anything. Since then, though, it has become the one I’ve listened to the most.
Bands like T.H.O. don’t come around too often, and when they do, their existence is short lived. Looking back on them, it brings a smile to my brain, reminiscing on the freedoms of youth. Enjoy this little snippet into the minds of a group of goofballs just simply trying to have fun.
Heirloom Records is a means of saving and preserving music from the lost CDR generation of music.
Heirloom Records is a Related Records sub-label