Filed under: Lonesome Heroes, Uncategorized | Tags: Deep Night, Lonesome Heroes, Sixth Station
Our friendship with Sixth Station’s Fr. Tony Trosley goes back to long before we issued our Wayfaring Strangers: Lonesome Heroes compilation in 2009. It was the first track to be included as we started to assemble the collection, and we visited him in his parish in the far western expanses of Illinois, on the banks of the Mississippi. Now, his full vision is being presented in one perfect replica: Deep Night, as it was meant to be heard. Recorded in cloister during a single overnight session in a small country chapel, the results are a transcendent, meditative full-length dirge that never breaks from its solemn mood. It’s cover, art directed by a parishioner, is so perfectly in tune with the sound of the record it couldn’t have been surpassed by a professional. There is a curious statement on the cover: Nihil Obstat. We consulted with Father Tony. As a priest, he had to receive the approval of the Bishop of Peoria, his diocesan leader, before issuing this somber document. Nihil obstat indicates that nothing stands in the way of release. The only obstacle, it turned out, was public reception. It did not play in Peoria, or anywhere. Now thirty years later, we have finally delivered on our promise to issue this much discussed and demanded piece of Midwestern psychedelia. Deep Night hits stores June 6th.
A raw cry from the dark night of one man’s soul. cloistered away from the popular culture of 1982, rural Illinois priest Tony Trosley painted a pastoral refraction of early 1970s Laurel Canyon watercolors with this stand-alone set of songs. The Sixth Station—named for a grim New Testament tableau in which Veronica washes the tortured face of Jesus—managed to avoid overtly Christian themes in favor of a mystical Humanism that resonates timelessly, and to any sort of listener. This Deep Night is as profound and eerie as the images conjured by its title.
During the 1960s and early 1970s, guitar-wielding men of the cloth came somewhat into vogue. Brother Juniper, Father Tom Belt, and the St. Louis Jesuits each found modest success with their takes on liturgical folk music. Born in 1951, Father Tony Trosley trod out of this tradition to arrive in quite a different place. Raised in the St. Louis area, Trosley entered the seminary immediately after high school. It was there that he took up guitar and set out on a musical sojourn that would result in an LP more than a decade later.
Assigned to a parish in Peoria, Illinois, Trosley charted his long course toward Deep Night, adding crew along the way to fill out the recordings. Deep Night’s title cut is its purest moment, featuring Trosley alone and transparent, his 12-string tone shaped by a phaser pedal. The entire album, tracked in a tiny chapel with rented equipment over one extended evening, was mixed live with only a handful of overdubs. A few disastrous live performances around Central Illinois sealed the album’s fate as a one-off, though producer Scott McDaniel proposed a second LP. Father Tony Trosley, cloistered as he was from popular music culture of the day, could hardly avoid recording a folk and rock anachronism, but the sound of Deep Night defies placement on any timeline, aural or historical. It’s every bit as darkly profound and eerie as its name implies.
We’ll bring Father Tony’s opus back from the darkness on June 4th. Until then, click here for a sip of the juice:
Filed under: Lonesome Heroes, Uncategorized | Tags: Amoeba Vinyl Vault, Bob Brown
One good thing came out of Amoeba’s Vinyl Vault, we reconnected with our old friend Bob Brown, creator of two excellent LPs on the Richie Havens-helmed Stormy Forest label and one stellar contribution to our Lonesome Heroes compilation (appropriate since he lived down the hall from Leonard Cohen in the Chelsea Hotel for a swath of the seventies). Here, Washington City Paper digs a little deeper into Bob Brown’s story (although not as deep as the interview conducted by Numero’s Rob Sevier and Michael Slaboch back in 2008 for the Waxidermy website.) Another side of the complex and often strange process involved with rediscovering old music.
We’ve made no secret of our fandom of the tragically passed George Cromarty. He is the only artist featured on both the Guitar Soli and Lonesome Heroes compilations. His story is still very much lost to us, but everytime a piece comes together we try to share it. We’re not alone in our fandom. Even though he had relatively little recorded legacy, he managed to build an impressive base of committed fans (just look at the comments from our last Cromarty blog entry, and another set of ecstatic comments on Waxidermy.) Recently, a new fold emerged when Matt Kallman got in touch with me to report that he knew of another set of recordings done with George Keller. I got in touch with Mr. Keller, and though the master tapes appear to be lost, he was able to share a few anecdotes and photos.
“I was visiting in the San Luis Obispo area in the early 70s and had heard about a club in Morro Bay that had live music. The club was a hof brau owned by a Dutch family and was located along the wharf area. Late one afternoon, I headed over there with my guitar. As I approached the entry to the club, there was this very intense guy wearing a funny looking cap, playing outside the doorway to an audience of about two people. I could see inside the club and there was a stage area and two guys were playing. I was wondering what this guy outside the door was doing, so I stopped to listen. I could tell he was playing in an open tuning, but I couldn’t tell which one. After a few minutes, being young and brash, I got out my guitar, tuned up slightly to match his guitar, and started playing leads along with him. He shot me a sharp look but continued playing. After a while, he paused, looked over at me with some approval, and asked me my name. When I said it was George, his eyes widened and he sort of laughed and said that was his name too. He played another piece which I also played along with, and when we were done, he asked if I wanted to go inside the club and play some more. I said sure, and we went in and George asked the manger if we could sit in during the break. So, when the two guys took a break, we got up and George announced we were a duo named George & George and started to play an old blues song. So off we went for several songs. Now, I had no idea who this guy was but obviously he was professional and very skilled at manipulating the crowd, who was responding with more and more applause. We continued on for another hour to great reaction and then took a break. Meantime, I don’t know whatever happened to the two guys who had let us “sit in” but I never saw them again. The manager asked us if we could keep playing the rest of the night. He would give us some money and food. We said sure and on it went ‘till closing. At the end of the evening, there was standing room only. The club owner asked if we would be available to play five nights a week starting the following Tuesday. Now, at the time, I was living in Sacramento, had only met George three or four hours before, and had no place to stay, so of course I said yes. George was staying with his sister and her husband in Morro Bay and I was offered a room in the hotel the hof brau owners also operated. So it was set.”
– George Keller
This is a drawing from a fan who was fond of their regular sets:
The pieces continue to come together. A truly enigmatic genius of the guitar is slowly coming into focus.
Filed under: A Light On The Southside, Al Jarnow, Boddie, Eccentric Breaks & Beats, Good God!, Lonesome Heroes, Lowlands, Playlists, Syl Johnson | Tags: Sea Of Sound
So, I gotta little jealous last week that we didn’t have something as slick as Josh’s new online ghetto blaster and decided it was time to revive my old podcast, The Sea Of Sound. This episode below in it’s fancy Flash 1.0 player – give it a few seconds to load – is a healthy mix of past, present, and upcoming Numero tracks, side by side with some old favorites, and a few cuts from various new releases for your listening pleasure. Enjoy, Michael
“Don’t Trade Love For Money” – Jackie Russell
“Woodpiles On The Side Of The Road” – Jack Rose
“Hummingbirds” – Kieran White
“Jane, Jane” – Tia Blake
“Yellow Roses” – Heron
“Lonely Son” – Vernon Wray
“Nobody Wants A Lonely Heart” – Arthur Russell
“Tried So Hard” – The Flying Burrito Brothers
“Never Too Far” – Tim Hardin
“I Found My Music” – Sage
“Every Day We Grow Closer” – Alex Chilton
“The Ballad Of El Goodo” – Big Star
“The Summer Sun” – Chris Stamey
Beaumont, TX Dodge Commercial
“I’ve Got To Get Over” – Syl Johnson
“Bring It Down Front” – Hugh Hawkins
“Lean Lanky Daddy” – Little Ann
“You’ve Got To Steal It” – The Flairs
“I’m Drunk & I’m Real High (In The Spirit Of God) – Ada Richards
“Cosmic Clock” – Shoes
“Love Letter Full Of Promises” (Rehearsal) – Juanita Rodgers
Filed under: Lonesome Heroes, Uncategorized | Tags: Erebus, James Plummer, Radioactive, Sixth Station
James Plummer, famous for his Radioactive and Fallout labels, has returned from the sewers with another illegal operation, Erebus. This dude is more slippery than a drug runner. However, we’re a little ahead of the curve on this one. We’ve gotten in touch with all the distributors that have knowingly and unknowingly carried the label in the past, alerted our VeRO contact at eBay, and convinced magazines not to review it. Now we just need the consumers to not buy anything from Erebus, particularly the Sixth Station CD (one track was included on 028 Wayfaring Strangers: Lonesome Heroes and the rest is planned as an individual release). We dealt with this matter before on a previous post:
Yoga Records has put together a pretty thorough assessment of who Plummer is and what he’s done. You can find it here: http://www.yogarecords.com/press/radioactive.html
But then Plummer disappeared and we breathed a sigh of relief, but during that time we were never able to fit the release into our schedule; the mastering is done but the liner notes are still being finished. Plus, running a legitimate subsidiary like our * [Asterisk] imprint takes much more time and effort than a lazy bootleg operation.
To help us beat the bootlegger? It’s pretty simple: just don’t buy any of their products. The labels are Erebus, Phoenix, Radioactive, and Fallout. They prey on the weakest people in the music business, those folks with no major label to protect their music.
Filed under: 24-Carat Black, Downriver Revival, Lonesome Heroes, Pisces | Tags: Pazz & Jop
The venerable Village Voice Pazz & Jop poll has deemed Numero’s Wayfaring Strangers: Lonesome Heroes to be the one-thousand-six-hundred and twentieth best record of 2009, above # 1641,Various Artists, Purplish Rain (Prince Tribute Record), Spin Magazine Download, # 1731, Shpongle, Ineffable Mysteries From Shpongleland and # 1864, DJ Plastician, Cashmere Agency Presents Mr. Grustle & Tha Russian’s Dubstep LA: Embrace the Renaissance Vol. 1 Mixed by Plastician. Awesome!
The one to beat, though, was # 1160, Warren Zevon, A Playlist I Made of Warren Zevon Songs. Damn. Maybe next year.
Critics of America, keep up the good work!
Addendum: Probably because I was reading the list on my phone last night, I forgot to note:
# 946 Various Artists, Downriver Revival
# 1029 Pisces, Pisces:A Lovely Sight
# 1113 24 Carat Black, Gone: The Promises of Yesterday
Looks like we kicked that Zevon playlist’s ass!
We have always depended on the kindness of strangers.
Let’s strive for the low 800’s next year!