The Steepwater Band “Grace and Melody”

So a little over a year ago this time I snatched up the cheapest southwest roundtrip to LA I could find and met up with some of my best friends in the music buisness yup The Steepwater Band. I wish their name wasnt so long sometimes(maybe that is why I hate indie music, long names) anyway these chaps are four of my best mates in the whole wild fucking mess of a country we have. When Hollus ended a few years back.  I embarked on a small journey with Steepwater from Nashville to the Mitten, from IL to CA, I followed these guys through a bit of our countryside with my second passion, filmmaking. Ive shot to date over 80 hours of footage and its still not enough.

I was in the studio with The Steepwater Band and Marc Ford for little over eight days. I learned alot and much of what I attribute the success of or new record ‘Joker and the Queen’ to is my experiences, there in The Compound Studios in Signal Hill CA. I not only created a short documentary(seen below) for the guys of Steepwater, but learned how to make a record! And, I know this is one of the reasons I went out to LA in the first place, I knew I would learn something. My record was already in the works and I needed fuel to finish it. Jeff, Tod, Joe, and Steve were kind enough to let me sleep on the floors of their hotel rooms and for that I am greatful. I think I may have even learned more than they did. I did so only because they werent my songs. I was not in charge of them nor did I really know how each song sounded. Tod had emailed me the demos for the tunes but, I really had little time to absorb them. Bands generally get very attached to their songs very early and this is hard to break them of. This was huge for me! Breaking what the song already was. Letting the song LIVE.

Marc began to take songs apart. He gave them some real shape that didnt exist before. The band responded. At the time when I was there I got a real sense of how to shape a tune. I listened to some of the greatest jams between Steepwater and Marc. I felt the need to make a record great. Marc thank you for that. Steepwater thank you for being you and being fucking solid in musicianship and in the lives you all lead. I love the songs on ‘Grace and Melody’ and believe they are some of the greatest songs you have ever written. 

I am at heart though a ‘Revelation Sunday’ fan. I dont know if its the frontline feel of that record or just ‘Steel Sky’ that melts me, but somehow that record still makes sense to me. ‘Slow Train’ conjures up the Delta even though I have never seen it and ‘Mercy’ puts me in a mood to drink. Maybe Im just to deep in what The Steepwater Band is and when I first heard ‘Revelation Sunday’ I wasnt.

As I sit here and sort through the footage of the ‘Grace and Melody’ recordings I know that these guys are more than just songs to me now. They are kin. For that reason I enjoy Joe’s bash opinions about the Grace and Melody sessions, Tod’s carefree ability to make the band work, and Jeff’s ease at playing with another “real” guitar player.  Bottomline is that ‘Grace and Melody’ is a reality and everything that Hollus has done in the last few years has been inspired by The Steepwater Band and we hope that we have inspired them to, because we all have a bit to learn from one another. Musicians use to be friends, it wasnt a competition to make a buck, because when we all work together we at least break even. Honestly, in this business you never know what is gonna break so be good to your peers and hope they aren’t fucking assholes. 

Cheers boys 



Steepwater June 5th at the Metro 18+ 10 bucks but im sure if you myspaced them you could get it for five. Playing with The Last Vegas who just got off a tour with Motley Crue if you give a fuck. 




Here we have the first bonus video from the pilot we did for “The Latest Show Ever,” a Chicago television program that will hopefully be airing soon!  

We did four songs for this, and this was “Hold On (Wild Rose),” which turned out fantastic, we think.  Thanks to Spencer Rohan and the gang and check it all out at:


unfortunately, this vid isn’t on youtube yet, but it IS on VIMEO (which doesn’t imbed in wordpress) so check it out here:

“HOLD ON (WILD ROSE”)” – also available in HD!



Body Of Water May Not Be Actual Delta

Body Of Water May Not Be Actual Delta, Doesn't Matter

I’ll be honest.  In today’s music world, when a band comes out of the woodwork, starts getting a good amount of press, and then quickly makes the sudden and oh so important leap from ‘this town regular’ to ‘national underdog,’ I normally cringe, normally look to the ceiling and let out a resounding silent “why,” and in some cases vomit.  The reason being, the past ten years of me seeing this happen has been with bands that are god awful.  Really, shit.  The Delta Spirit are not that band.

The Delta Spirit are not only the antithesis of this “god-awful-shit” strain that led me to listen to nothing but music from 30+ years ago for 5 years; they may actually be the band that got me out of it.  I kept seeing this ad here and there, for months.  A man, perhaps posing as everyone’s uncle in suburban here-and-there, with a glass of wine, his face lit up like someone who had gotten proposed to by Bridgett Bardot.  There was something about that name, though.  I ended up running into a promotional copy of “Ode To Sunshine,” in Reckless Records downtown, and sunny damn there’s that man again on the cover!  Well, I took a gamble and bought it.  Went home, stuck it on and waited for the inevitable.  

The inevitable was fireworks and sangria on sunday, diving off trampolines into a lake, that feeling you get when you speed 70 mph down a hill in Wisconsin, the bible reinterpreted by a new born baby, playing baseball with apples, chicken-fucking-soup for the roaming lunatic laureate’s soul!   

If “Trashcan” was the only song on this record, it probably would have still been the only record in my CD player.  But it didn’t end, no!

Suddenly, it was traveling passion, peculiar questions, need for sanity, love for sanity, familiar strangers, those lines between make believe and reality blur and you’re reminded of something you lost or never found.

From a sonic standpoint, it’s the type of record that you could be speeding 100 mph off the grand canyon, and somehow recollect all the joys, pains, and triumphs of a life.  But you dig into the lyrics, and…well, much the same actually.  

And so many times, a lyric can overshadow and taint a musical composition (the doors) and vice versa (radiohead) but here, it’s quite harmonious.   

Then, in some strange sequence of events, I found them playing later that week on Conan, expelling my possible concern that they’d be terrible live, and then I saw them a few weeks later at Double Door, further expelling my possible concern that they may have just gotten lucky in New York.  No, this is a band of unified minstrels.  They believe what they say, and they don’t use frills, bullshit, or fancy jangles to do so.  

So, in this case, I’m exceptionally pleased that Delta Spirit went from their humble home of Everywhere, California to  Everywhere, America touring with The Shins.  May that be the fate of every band that deserves it (myself included!) . If I never see Delta Spirit again like I did at Double Door, a show that gave me hope in music that can be uplifting, meaningful and repentant at the same time, that’s alright.  It’s someone else’s turn to get it.

Get “Ode To Sunshine” at Delta Spirit Myspace.   

“People C’mon” Video

I put stock in this band because, they are serious, but don’t take themselves too seriously.  Watch as the singer gets viciously murdered!

Delta Spirit EPK

Oh yeah, at the show I couldn’t help but tell D.S. their drummer is a shoe-in for Twin Peaks’ James Hurley.  Anyway..




J.J.- Getting An Evil Urge to Murder Everyone

J.J.- Getting An Evil Urge to Murder Everyone


A Small Break From California to Kentucky, to bring you this message:



The amount of shit I’ve had to hear about this record since it’s release is starting to reach Be Here Now status.  You know what?  If you haven’t heard My Morning Jacket, I don’t blame you.  I didn’t actually listen to them, like really listen to them, until after I started hearing all this hoopala and fuss over this damn record.  It’s got everyone’s panties in a spin, and this is what I don’t get…


Alright, so it opens with three very strange synth-and-falsetto infused songs ripped from Prince’s throwaway closet, and “Highly Suspicious” sounds like the theme song to an 80’s roadhouse film starring Burt Reynolds, but it’s as if people stop listening after that.  The rest of the record, “I’m Amazed,” “Thank You Too,” “Two Halves,” and on and on…fucking brilliant.  It’s that ethereal country music from the center of the earth thing they do.  “Remnants” is probably the heaviest thing they’ve ever done.  Is he really saying: “Raising up the empire”?  Fantastic!  They manage to throw about 15 genres in on this record and make it work. I’ve never heard it better than this group…in fact I can’t say I’ve heard it at all besides this group.  And to boot, I actually think much of Evil Urges stands up to most of the stuff they’ve done for the past decade.  Much of it’s better.  It’s to the point now, not so whishy washy.  I get what they’re trying to say now.  I mean, this record is called EVIL URGES, people.  Think about it.  Anyway, If you’ve heard the name a million times but can’t put a sound to it, I highly suggest going to pitchfork and streaming their records the whole day.  Then listen to Evil Urges.  Then tell everyone to fuck off and get over it.  It’s good, dammit.  Back to California this weekend.  I love you all.



Alright.  I’m not sure what it is but I have this list of groups in my head, right?  The list consists of like 5 or 6 groups that I plan on featuring on this blog in the next two weeks.  I don’t know why, maybe it’s the weather changing, the dire need to flee Chicago’s manic desire to royally fuck with us, but every single band on this list, for some reason, hails from California.  So, these next two weeks are gonna be devoted to great music from that Golden State.  There is Something In The California Air. 

The first of these is…


Maybe Its The Palm Trees...

Maybe It's The Palm Trees...


Scooter High.  You haven’t heard of it?  Scooter High.  Yep, it’s that feeling you get riding on a (preferably Italian) Scooter, perusing narrow California streets, winding in and out of traffic – and yes, alright, you can put the coyly mysterious brunette on your back, probably wearing your helmet, sunlight splitting like a kaleidoscope on your head from the walls and ceilings of trees.  Scooter High.  

Well, The Shys might be the soundtrack to that euphoric joyride.  Hell, they might be the ones riding.  But don’t be fooled here, though many of their songs (“The Hangman,” “Already Gone,”) have that lip-snarled, “fuck off, i’m wearing ray bans, asshole, and i’m driving straight into you” vibe I love so much, The Shys are not a one trick pony.  Songs like “Mercy,” and “Savior,” are undoubtedly deeper.  Yes, they still have that snarl, but there is some great longing and passion behind it.  Lyrics like “Love, have mercy on me,” and “I feel just like I found my savior,” actually make you wonder who he may be talking to.

I remember talking about this band a year or two ago, when their second record, “Astoria,” came out.  I considered it one of the only relevant records around.  It’s good to see that their material has only gotten more relevant.  

Pick up “You’ll Never Understand This Band The Way I Do” at  Cheeky fucking title, isn’t it?  

If you just can’t wait, you can visit everyone’s favorite music site, DAYTROTTER, where The Shys recently did some live sessions you can download.

The Shys – “Savior”

The only thing this video is missing is a scooter.




The Only Good Band In L.A.

The Only Good Band In L.A.

STOP.  Before you read this post, there are a few things I need you to do.

1. go to, download the “Manipulator” EP for free.

2. press PLAY on the first song, “Manipulator.”

3. while playing, read my post.



Youd Better Be Listening to Manipulator

You'd Better Be Listening to Manipulator

When I think of L.A. I don’t really think of Palm Trees, Beaches, Utopian Weather Systems, or Big Business Headquarters.  I more think of a gigantic line of cocaine piled curb to curb down the entire Sunset Strip 2 hours before Dawn; neon colored powder reflecting the flashing marquees, nauseating this and thats clad in elf boots, pixies in drag, jangling metal at the wrists, sex in a stall with everyones signature watching, dirt clogged under nail polished fingers, queens and clowns crawling knee by knee down the under-the-counter asphalt, eyeliner smears on every man and woman.  That’s L.A.  And though it most likely is not L.A., fuck it, That’s L.A.

If this is, indeed, L.A., then Mack Winston is the omniscient guru, who sits on dark  rusted roof tops and in unmarked cars on the busiest streets, observing, documenting, scribbling, with a bare hint of compassion, maybe, but fleeting as his subject disappears.  His purpose seems almost voyeuristic, like making a diary of a dark imaginary life that you hide in a safe inside a cuckoo clock. 

I don’t have to explain this musically.  If you can understand that The Kinks AND The Smiths sound like London, that Patti Smith AND The Strokes sound like New York, that Bjork AND David Bowie sound like Mars, then you will understand how The Beach Boys AND Mack Winston sound like L.A.  And the latter is arguably much more interesting.

The best thing for you?  All you have to do is go to and download their “Manipulator” EP.  It’s free.  

Are Mack Winston and The Reflections revolutionary?  No.  Nor is it new or old, diverse or derived, honest or lying.  It is perfect, though.  Every fucking song.  And with that, I nominate Mack Winston and the Reflections my new favorite band.  Too bad they, like every band from L.A., will probably never grace most of the middle U.S. But that’s alright, I’m content with my new soundtrack to that wonderful and decrepit city. 

Some interesting live in-studio videos here, at Groupee, for those of us that will never see this band, live.

“Manipulator” Video

Oh, to be young, beautiful, and oversexed. Oh, and pomped.  

“Dark, Dark, Night” Video

Purely and Simply one of the great Stop Motion Videos of our time.

Mack’s Myspace




Colin Rink - Dylan For Virgins Podcast

Colin Rink - Dylan For Virgins Podcast

Dylan For Virgins is a Podcast hosted by charming Canadian chap/singer/songwriter Colin Rink.  I find the format for the show one of the more strange podcast formats I’ve heard, but it works and I suppose format has nothing to do with podcasts.  That’s why it’s not radio, right?  

The format is light hearted and loose, frequently accompanied by beer drinking and banter from cohost Randy, a self professed ghetto transplant/artists/producer, and this pair of chums alone makes for interesting and witty banter.  It feels less like radio, and much more like having a chat with friends, in a good way.  They talk about music promotion tools, mention a Dylan story, and review a band they like.  They give “Joker And The Queen,” 4 out of 5 ‘guitar picks,’ and talk about what they thought of the record.  You can download Dylan For Virgins Episode 2 free at itunes, just search for it.  Also, check out Colin Rink’s music.  Very Gaslight/Kettle of Fish 1963.  Thanks Dylan For Virgins!

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