It took a plague to slow me down enough to realize a years-held dream: posting a new video to youtube every day (almost) of me playing the guitar and singing a song. Been at it for a couple of weeks now and it's going pretty good! Covers so far include Lucinda Williams, Woody Guthrie, Doc Watson, and Steven Universe, plus a bunch by Trad of Itional, and I would describe the musical style as crude but heartfelt. Hope you enjoy!
Bushranger ballads are home-grown 19th century Australian songs about that continent’s most notorious highwaymen. Bold and cheerful thieves like Jack Donohoe, Ben Hall and Ned Kelly are hailed as heroic underdogs down under, and their ballads still play a role in protest music there today. This essay discusses the songs’ Irish roots, the transportee convicts who spread them round Australia and the young performers keeping them alive today. It's a PlanetSlade Murder Ballads production (previously). [more inside]
Dr Poopy's Medicinal Jam is a weekly live stream of live music, running every Tuesday evening from 7.30pm to 9.30pm UK time. Vibe leans generally towards acoustica / Americana but you never know. [more inside]
I'm doing a podcast where I do fully (er, mostly) produced re-tellings of classic folk tales, fairy tales, historic letters and short stories. It has been a blast so far, and I would love for you to take a listen. I'm also always open to suggestions on things to read.
The debut record from Out of System Transfer, a neo-old-timey band who sing punk-influenced folk songs about the assassination of William McKinley, hitting cops in the head with a brick, and riding the subway. Their sound has been compared to the Holy Modal Rounders, Mojo Nixon, and Mischief Brew. With physical media sales becoming less viable, it made little sense to get CDs printed (plus, no one in the band even had a working CD player), but it also felt wrong to forego the great potential offered by album covers and liner notes, not to mention the feeling of having a tangible thing for fans to have. Thus, the record was released as a zine, (also bundled with the download as a pdf) with original artwork commissioned for each song by various Brooklyn-based artists. [more inside]
The Harvey Girls, the band of melissa may and I, have a new album out. [more inside]
PlanetSlade's been writing about Murder Ballads for quite some time now (previously 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Now I've placed the site's first book-length offering on the Kindle store, where you'll find it at the link above. If by any chance you'd like to buy a copy, that would make me very happy. Robert Wilhelm at Murder By Gaslight called the book "very impressive", and the crime scene's local paper rated it "truly a fascinating read". British readers should go to this Amazon.co.uk page instead.
A new E.P named after the iron-cyanide hue once employed widely as the blue in blueprints which was subsequently commandeered by twin white nationalist preteen starlets who later renounced their views and affirmed a belief in the benefits of cultural diversity and smoking pot. [more inside]
Mapstalgia is a new blog collecting people's drawn-from-memory maps of video game worlds and levels. Zeldas and Marios; detailed Final Fantasy cartography and sketched Contra recollections; crayon Kings Quest and graph paper Castlevania. Submissions are open, draw something yourself and send it in! [more inside]
You may not know the song covered in PlanetSlade’s latest Murder Ballads essay, but I guarantee you’ll never forget the story behind it. On February 1, 1896, Pearl’s decapitated body was found in a Kentucky orchard. She was pregnant, and she’d been struggling when the killer began cutting off her head. That head has never been found, but we do know that the murderer carried it round Cincinnati’s bars with him. The police investigation which followed used a crucial clue from Pearl’s shoes and America’s first bugged cell. There was a thriving souvenir trade surrounding the case and lynch mobs roamed the streets. Two men – one of them Pearl’s lover – eventually hanged for the crime, which inspired a ballad still sung (and danced) today. Read all about it at the link above.
I'm bringing the band back together. I've got two $10 keyboards and a drum machine, let's see what happens! [more inside]
Just self-released my debut LP, Bullet in a Quiver, and thought that fellow MeFites might appreciate it! It's a completely DIY affair, recorded at home in Minneapolis and in the Harvard Lampoon's semi-secret castle headquarters while it was drained of people for spring break. It's a sort of a concept album about cats, hues, prime numbers, alien invasion, and subprime lending, so if you are interested any of those things, however vaguely, by all means, check it out and pass it along! It is free, so ⌘C/⌘V away.
Since May 2009, PlanetSlade has been bringing you the true stories behind classic murder ballads like Stagger Lee, Knoxville Girl and Hattie Carroll. The site’s latest essay details my efforts to write a fresh set of lyrics in this old tradition, describing a real 2004 murder near my home in North London. The victim was a young Somali prostitute, picked up by her killer while working the streets around King’s Cross. Her death was barely reported at the time, which is one reason I decided to try and commemorate her in song. The folk singer Pete Morton liked my first set of lyrics enough to add some music and record them for me (free download here), and Iowa’s own Scott Riley shot some YouTube footage of himself performing my second version of the song – again, with his own music. PlanetSlade previously: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.