Saturday, November 13, 2004

a blog is born

Greetings to all who have followed my career to date by way of my recordings, live appearances, and website ( which has been up and running 8 years now thanks to webmistress Tanya Weiman. I am now about to embark on writing a running blog account of various goings-on in my life and music which I hope will be of interest...don't say I didn't warn you! (a phrase I originally coined at Yale along with my partner Bill Moseley with whom I established the horror film society Things That Go Bump in the Night, a Yalie institution circa 1971-74--we used it to promote a screening of my fave horror flick "Carnival of Souls"...I recently saw this same phrase used in the ads for some current film here in NYC...anybody who knows which film it is and writes me at wins a copy of my new album with Jozef Van Wissem, "The Universe of Absence"). Tanya helped drag me kicking and screaming into the digital age (it wasn't until the late 90's that I even had a home computer, much less knew how to operate the damn thing) and now she's helping me finesse the blague (GOOD OLD LOGORRHEA).

First topic herein is the new lineup of Gods and Monsters, my longtime band since 1989, which over the years included fantastic talents such as Jeff Buckley, Mary Margaret O'Hara, Richard Barone, Rolo McGinty, Keith LeBlanc, Tony Thunder Smith, and other luminaries who joined us in the ranks. I have streamlined the band for the last few years into a core power trio, with occasional guests Amica on vocals, sax maniac Jason Candler and trombone virtuoso Joey Hendel. Today Gods and Monsters consists of myself on guitars, effects and vocals, Ernie Brooks from the original Modern Lovers on bass and vocals, and new member Billy Ficca from Television on drums. Billy fills the drum chair previously held down for a dozen years by the mighty Jonathan Kane (Swans, Rhys Chatham), who has gone on to concentrate on his own music projects, and I wish him the best as he is a truly great player. Billy is certainly up to the challenge of filling Jonathan 's shoes and he in fact has reinvigorated the band with his fabulous polyrhythmic groove. I have wanted to play with him for years, and we've been friends for a long time...I brought him in on the sessions in the south of France in 2000 for the French rock band Tanger, whom I produced for Mercury. He was a good friend to have there in Carpentras amidst the madness (and he more than held his own drumming alongside the hypno-thump of several Gnawa master musicians from Morocco that we brought along for that recording). His playing has added so much to whomever he plays with (don't forget that he was the drum powerhouse behind The Waitresses, a wonderful band led by Tin Huey's Chris Butler and fronted by the late Patty Donahue that should have been much better known outside their cult).

Anyway Gods and Monsters made a pilgrimage last Saturday November 6th to The Stone Pony in Asbury Park to play in the annual Light of Day Charity 3 day charity event organized by Bob Benjamin of School House Records to raise money for Bruce Springsteen's favorite charity, the Parkinson's Disease Association. The band did quite a smoking version of The Boss's "Ain't Got You" from Bruce's "Tunnel of Love" album on a double cd called "Light of Day" that came out a year or so ago, proceeds going to charity, artists like Elvis Costello, Elliot Murphy and other greats abounding. We trucked down to Asbury Park and played it last year and I was paid the supreme compliment by Bruce himself, who told me: "You're a phenomenal guitarist...and your version of my song was phenomenal!" This made my year, to put it mildly...this year we came down there with Jason and Amica in tow and ripped through a set unfortunately truncated due to set-up delays (the band that preceded us removed all the drum hardware after their set, and Billy had to rebuild and tune the drums from scratch). We had an incendiary warm-up gig the night before at the great new Bowery Poetry Club here in the city (where we were joined by What I Like About Jew's Rob Tannenbaum, who read a poem consisting of actual verbatim Bushspeak set to my space guitar improvisation), so we were in top form at the Stone Pony. In the crowd was a whole coterie of Bruce fans who had flown in from Madrid, including Sal Trepat, who had got the Light of Day album project going in Europe through his label Buffalo Records, and they were absolutely bopping along as we cruised through " Ain't Got You", segued into our traditional romp through Arthur Russell's "Let's Go Swimming", and closed with "Lonesome Day" from The Rising, which we first played at a John Kerry rally a week previously at the Knitting Factory (what a tragedy that he lost. It's only made me, and I hope You reading this, to continue to push for change in this quote one of my older songs, don't let the bastards wear you down!)

And to cap a fine night, I got my picture taken (by Jason Candler) with Bruce Springsteen and Amica:

Click on the photo to enlarge

I'm off on Monday to Geneva Switzerland for a week to work on an improvisatory album with the Swiss avant-guitarist Gerald Zbinden, whom I met at the SKIF Festival in St. Petersburg Russia last spring. Hope to keep blogging away to y'all from 1000 meters high up in the Alps.


Gary Lucas


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