Two weeks ago, while I was waiting for The Hold Steady to take the stage in Cambridge, I heard that Ric Ocasek from The Cars passed. The Hold Steady, knowing they were in the hometown of The Cars, handled it with so much class, pumping up the house music to “Since You’re Gone” by The Cars. They proceeded to deliver a transformative set full of love and rock ‘n’ roll that brought joy to the tears of loss. I could literally write an entire column on my childhood memories of The Cars, but there are plenty of better tributes out there for Mr. Ocasek. We have lost two of our own, so I want to kickstart this by talking about Eric Stumpo from the band Plan 9 and John White.
I just heard the news of Eric Stumpo’s passing. The heyday of Plan 9 was before my time, but I found out about them from a recommendation at In Your Ear in Warren. It went something like this: There is this crazy psychedelic garage rock band in South County that at one point had their own commune. I bought it — hook, line, and sinker. The album was called Keep Your Cool And Read The Rules, which is funny because as Plan 9 evolved, there were no rules. They went from your basic weird garage band to having upward of 15 people playing on stage. I was talking to my friend Paul “Pip” Everett at Plan 9’s 2017 induction into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame and remember being like, wait, you were in the band, too? Of course he was, because Stumpo and Plan 9 always welcomed talented musicians. Around the time Plan 9 was being inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame, somebody put me in touch with Eric and his life partner Deborah, and our interview is available here: motifri.com/alt-nation-2017-mayi. Plan 9 had just released their first new album in years, A Tonic of Puffer Fish (All About Zombies), (available through Bandcamp) and they could not have been more giving. My condolences to Deb, Eric’s friends and family, and all he touched. Rest in power, Eric.
I remember my first time meeting John White. We were at E&O Tap and just rapping about the bands we loved. People said he was like a ghost because he’d have these events, but wasn’t really into self promotion. John’s passion was for local music and his tireless fundraising for autism. John brought a lot of love into the world, most notably to Randy, who has autism, and looked to John like a father. John booked one last A Is For Awesome benefit that will take place at Pub On Park in Cranston on October 6, his birthday. The doors open at 3pm and it features Jess Moroney (Nymphidels), Love Power, Eric Shane (Eric & The Nothing), The Nebulas, Malyssa BellaRosa (Sugar Cones), Sonic Grifters, Spectrum Theatre Ensemble, The McGunks, Eric Baylies (Baylies Band), My Mother, and The Soapbox Saints. Condolences to John’s family, friends, and especially Randy. Rest in power, John.
Longshot Voodoo — Voodoo Radio
Longshot Voodoo has an interesting name, but this album took me a while to get into. At first I pretty much hated them because it isn’t blues, it isn’t straight up rock. There is a cover of The Cars’ “Drive,” but it does it add anything? I don’t know. I changed my mind on the track “The Fix,” which kind of reminds me of To Bring You My Love era PJ Harvey — it is legitimately haunting and brilliant. Some of the stuff before mixes poor man’s muddy flange funk with Captain Beefheart. As much as I love the mythology of the blues, the title track with the lyrics of “looking for Robert Johnson’s lost guitar solo” and the Crossroads is just kind of cliche radio. We’ve heard this before. The second version of “Get Away (Zen Cave Jam) has barroom thump that does rock. The closing “Voodoo (Radio Mix)” is enjoyable just because it is pretty unplayable on the radio. I came away wanting to see Longshot Voodoo live, so Voodoo Radio wins.
Baylies Band — Kafkaesque
For the past 25 years, Baylies Band has been one of the most eccentric and interesting groups this state has seen. On Kafkaesque, the adventure continues with tracks like “Macauley Culkin Stole My Phone,” about the one time the Home Alone star came to The Met Cafe with his pizza-themed Velvet Underground tribute and apparently stole a phone. I remember that show, it was a weird scene. Baylies Band are kind of experimental prog-post-punk kind that is like getting into an Uber hammered and it goes off the wrong way, but against all odds, gets you where you need to be. “Shaving My Balloon” is ethereal in a Flaming Lips vibe, both musically and because they are probably the only ones that would sing about shaving a balloon. The closing “I Want to Marry the Prime Minister of Iceland” kicks off with what sounds like a distorted Casio beat that is oddly transfixing. The verse is kind of like two people having a random conversation, but it somehow works. Here’s to 25 years, and may there be many more!
Baylies Band will be opening up for Start Making Sense (Talking Heads tribute) at The Met Cafe on Oct 4. Baylies Band will also be playing with The Hard Nips, Tall Teenagers, The Viennagram, and Ioneye at MachinesWith Magnets on Oct 11.
Mark Mulcahy — The Gus
I remember playing Mulcahy’s old band, the alternative pop Miracle Legion, on college radio in the early ’90s. After the schism, the rhythm section became Catholics under Pope Frank Black while Mulcahy made a career with Polaris. The Gus kicks off with a haunting ballad, “Wicked World,” about “driving around town with you, doing anything the demons do.” “Daisy Marie” is an indie folk nugget that is infectious enough to require a flu shot. The closing, “What If I Go Off with Bob” is just like its own winding rock opera without the opera. Perfect.
Mark Mulcahy and The Philistines Jr. will be at The Columbus Theatre on Oct 19.
Got to Vamos but Too Cool to Leave Out:
The Weight Band (featuring members of The Band and Levon Helm Band is at The Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River on Oct 5.
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