Doc Jeffurious Higgason

Doc Jeffurious Higgason

Contributor

Born in Southeast Illinois Jeffurious Higgason struggled not to succumb to the ignorance of a hick-town, drawing inspiration from punk rock music and Jello Biafra who helped him find his voice at a young age. He started his literary career writing a music column for his local highschool, before going on to find work in radio broadcasting for several years in southern Illinois. During this time he ate magic mushrooms with a co-host before conducting a 4 hour live New Years Eve broadcast. Jeffurious currently lives with his wife and two children where he works as a mentor. He is a supporter of environmentally friendly programs and is strongly against industrial abuse of the earth. He defines himself as “Pro-People” and believes in taking an active part towards making the world a better place.

Chris Harford – The Gonzo Today Interview

CHRIS HARFORD
The Doc Jeffurious Interview

Many words come to mind when talking about Chris Harford. His music has been described as “dark and rocking”, but always brilliant and widely dynamic. There is no denying his reputation in many circles as sort of a singer-songwriter’s, singer-songwriter.

His first major record release occurred back in the early 1990s, predates Nirvana’s first hit record and included an impressive plethora of guest musicians. A veteran performer in every sense of the term. He has since released several acclaimed albums, one of which ‘Looking Out For Number 6’ was produced by Dean Ween, who also contributed some guitar and percussion work to the record.

A true renaissance man, Chris Harford has many things going on and you can bet than they are all terrific. I had the pleasure of sharing a bit of time with him recently and faithfully submit the following — Doc Jeffurious

Doc Jeffurious: Where did you get your start? What artists influenced your music?

Chris Harford: I was weaned on The Beatles. They kickstarted everything for me. I’m the youngest of four. My brother’s and sister’s record collection was key…vital. From The Beatles I moved on to Neil Young and the Rolling Stones. Then through middle school and high school it was the whole Southern rock thing, Allman Brother’s and Lynyrd Skynyrd. And then I got into Elvis Costello, The Specials and English Beat, ska music…XTC in my later teens.

DJH: Where were you when the alternative music and grunge thing took off in the early 1990s?

CH: I got signed to Elektra Records in 1992, right when grunge was hitting. I had an album out (Be Headed) on a major label which they let me produce. I had Ween guys on it and some guys from high school. But also Richard Thompson, Loudon Wainwright, The Proclaimers and Toshi Reagon. I had a bunch of people on that record. I was right there when grunge was happening. It think Nirvana‘s “Nevermind” came out a month after my record.

DJH: You are a very well known artist, but have a sort of underground, word of mouth fame. I think that a lot of artists that achieve that kind of success have this unique perspective of being on the outside of the traditional business of music looking in. How do you think music has changed over the years since you began as far as people getting into it? Is it less organic in many corners because it has become more digital? Is that the future of music?

CH: That’s a good question. It seems to be a lot about word of mouth. Like how you heard about my music through Adam Egert, even though it was through social media, it’s still word of mouth. It’s all about a person turning another person onto new music. You know? I still think that it’s best way to know about new music. Word of mouth is the most key way to learn.

DJH: You travel with The Band of Changes, which is an ever evolving and revolving sort of music project. How many shows a year do you perform with The Band Of Changes?

CH: It varies and probably slowed down as I age into an ancient human being but I’d say as much as possible. Lately it averages out to once a month now. But it can vary if take mini tours. In 2008, I took off on a 12 or 14 day tour around Europe which was really cool. I’ve opened up for Ween around the country way back in the day too.

DJH: How do you think your performances over the years have changed?

CH: Something that has happened over the years is how busy everyone has gotten. Unless it was some special occasion, we stopped rehearsing and often musicians would meet each other for the first time on stage. It’s been really interesting to see how it’s evolved spontaneously in the live setting. Almost like jazz musicians and improvisational jam bands. So there is a lot of just give and take. Depending on personalities of the band that evening and what they are bringing to it. And I’d say that has evolved over time because once you’ve played with the same people for two or three decades and the newer players come in and meet them, it becomes this sort of mix which is really fun for me. It keeps it fresh and the songs alive and different arrangements from the record keeps it fun.

DJH: Ok. Finally, I have heard that you maybe have a new release coming out?

CH: I am working on a couple different things. There are no dates set yet but I have been in the studio working on several different projects with several different people. So, there are things in the works. I finally got to invest in a home recording situation. I’m excited about that, too.

DJH: Well, Chris, I appreciate the time you have taken to spend with me today, man. I will keep my ear out for any new projects to be released.

CH: Fantastic! Well, thanks for helping to spread the music. And if you haven’t already heard it, ‘Horn of Plenty’ would have been my last record that I did. Check it out and several of my others at the website and we’ll be in touch. Thanks for reaching out, Doc.

www.chrisharford.com

Thurston Moore – Rock N Roll Consciousness

 

By: Doc Jeffurious Higgason

Artist: Thurston Moore
Album: Rock N Roll Consciousness
Label: Caroline
Rating: 4.5/5.0

There exists a universe in which music stills flows organically from the hands of the creator into the waiting ears of fans. A place where music is still intrinsically a language that can not only be spoken but also unspoken by all and more or less universally understood. There is a place where music is ingested not only through a pair of ears, but also through the heart and soul. Occasionally “messages” will escape from this realm and will punch through the encircling mundane boundaries of our own as a reminder that music in essence is a cosmic magic and not some sort of frivolous novelty. I am very happy to tell you that Thurston Moore’s Rock N Roll Consciousness has arrived from that place.

On Rock N Roll Consciousness, Moore once again confirms his place within the pool of talent that made up the NYC “No Wave” art and indie rock scene of the early 1980s alongside Kim Gordon, Lee Renaldo and Steve Shelley as the seminal indie darlings Sonic Youth. It also demonstrates why exactly he is one of the forebears of the grunge and alternative music scenes of the 1990s. While Sonic Youth is still officially on hiatus, Thurston Moore has still been writing and recording.

Guitarist James Sedwards, My Bloody Valentine bassist Debbie Googe, and Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley return from 2014’s The Best Day to provide a brilliant supporting foundation for Moore’s passive-aggressive trippy bliss on Rock N Roll Consciousness. The opening track “Exalted” spreads out the light of the entire album in a sort of Genesis-type (Genesis as in,”In the beginning, not the band) sunrise; the guitars join in arpeggio and then unfold into a stoner rock Raga out of the fifth-dimension as Moore sings in his trademark single tonal voice.

“She is the future and a prophetess…”

The song “Cusp” feels like a rapid rover ride across an dusty alien landscape to leave to you in the capable embrace of fluctuating and dynamic “Turn On”, where Moore tunes in upon your particular frequency and tells you about it.

“I come believing in your light. A sweet receiver in your mind. I turn it up all the way. To hear you come and save the day.”

“Turn On” recalls a taste of Sonic Youth but maintains itself as it’s own engine inside this machine, it is also my favorite track, as it exudes so many of the flavors in music that I love to lick on. A simple, steady, yet expansive jam. Insightful and mellow lyrics and a hint of Lou Reed! “Turn On” is the point in the album by which the listener is yanked across the transom into the pining love letter to New York City in the song “Smoke of Dreams”.

The concentrated power of Rock N Roll Consciousness concludes with the song “Aphrodite”, it closes the album as a wonderful example of how Moore and Sedwards explore parallel tonal dimensions on guitar respectfully as pilot and co-pilot; the final measures of the song playfully dance themselves away from you to the end, leaving the impression firmly intact. Rock N Roll Consciousness is an essential astral journey across Thurston Moore’s multifaceted musical universe.

Lily Locksmith

 

by: Doc Jeffurious Higgason

Artist: Lily Locksmith
Album: 45rpm 7″ Single ‘Player’ b/w ‘No Use But O’Well’
Label: Enviken Records
Rating: 4.0/5.0

You take the average American somebody and ask them to name a few things associated with the very proud and noble country of Sweden, most of the time their answers will be very generalized and textbook-ish. Yes, they will normally bring up the meatballs or those chewy little candy fish. They can also tell you that it’s the birthplace of the world’s most favorite furniture monger, IKEA and sputter a few quotes from that puppet chef. All-in-all in those, well honestly few moments, it feels like we have been very unfair to Sweden.

One thing that isn’t usually touched upon is the fact that behind the United States and the United Kingdom, Sweden falls squarely into third place as being one of the biggest exporters of music worldwide. Think of ABBA…or don’t. Think of Ace of Base…ok, really the individual contributions aren’t exactly what we are tallying up here, just the overall Swedish vibe cast across the world. How about The Cardigans? Does that do anything for you? Yeah, NO? Dammit.

Inside of Sweden exists a tenacious subculture that embraces the fashion and music of the American 1950’s and 1960’s. It is known as “Raggare” a lifestyle that exists across Europe into parts of Asian as well. It would and can be described as a living homage to that time with a flaunted love of fast ass cars, vintage American pop sensibilities and the lovely, raucous sound of Rockabilly music.

Out of that movement most recently has sprung forth the classic twangy, R & B sound and bold vocal styling of one, Lily Locksmith. This girl from the “heart of Sweden” exudes soul-felt talent and can at times invoke spirits from that particular time in the past.

Her latest single Player, available now from Enviken Records, is a cover of the Nick Curran and The Nitelifes tune. On it, Lily unleashes a fitting tribute to the late Curran in a song that has a very familiar gallop of Little Richard with the chesty attitude of Big Mama Thornton; she sings about how she is tired of her man’s overly cavalier approach to love and how he “treats her like a clown”. Her heartache comes out as straight up rhythm and blues sass, it’s quite clear that she is ready to pull out a chain and thrash this man who dares to treat her so.

On the flipside of Player is the song No Use But O’Well, which is admittedly this writer’s favorite. What could be called a “jump blues” number, this bewitching bright B-side is everything that defines the term “hot”. A steady back beat, wide opening vocals and quick, stabby and licky guitar work…this can’t be 2017, right? Where are all the electronic bleeps, farts and whistles?

I am romanticizing of course. The world, though bloated with hate and mediocrity always has room for a tiny bit of romance. Especially for a time and place in the world that ultimately led up to a cultural explosion that was experienced around the world, music has always been that unspoken universal language. Lily Locksmith and her band have a way of lighting up that corner of time that many believe was closed forever.

You can check out a digital copy of Lily Locksmith’s single Player by heading over to www.envikenrecords.com. While you are there why not look into the beautiful, limited edition red vinyl version of the record? There are only 500 so might as well grab a few, right? Also, both Player and No Use But O’Well have lovely music videos that accompany them and are available on the Enviken Records’ YouTube channel. Lily Locksmith is everywhere, if you miss her it’s your own damned fault.

 

Jonathan Richman Live At Zanzabar

by: Doc Jeffurious Higgason

Louisville, Kentucky — April 14th, 2017

I never really attended church as a child. Many of my friends did, sometimes their parents would invite me along, probably just to keep from hanging out on their front porch while they were away. The few times I went, I usually sat there unaffected, packed tightly within the cottony-soft blankets of ignorance. Feeling as moved spiritually as I would sitting in the lobby of a restaurant waiting for a table. Just enveloped in boredom with other people listening to crappy music, each hoping to be picked next.
I recall my first experience with true “religion” when it arrived around the time I was twelve-years-old. The song “Imagine” by John Lennon was playing on the local college radio station. As it occurs to me now, the lyrics enthralled me. Those words had such a haunting beauty I was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion. Goosebumps formed on my forearms and I began to weep softly.

That was what I considered to be my first encounter with what I felt and still feel is a direct channel to a higher power. Music. Music is my religion. I do not worship it, though I am nourished by it. What is it about hearing music that moves a person in such a manner? When the tones cause an involuntarily emotionally and physically reaction. I always look for that same feeling in all the music that I consumed. I don’t listen blindly in other words. The sensation of being moved in such a manner is almost an obscure luxury in recent years. So much trash to sift through for so little nutrition. Those moments of finding something singularly cool become so much more special, I always fall backwards into the profound and surrender to the entire experience, every single time.

I had the opportunity recently to bask in that magnificent old time feeling once’t again. This time I took a trip to Kentucky for another “spiritual” first, to see Jonathan Richman, who is at his core a true American Rock-n-Roll original and legendary singer/songwriter. Richman is a prime example of how it is to be a rock star that has the integrity to operate within a set of their own standards. There is rarely huge advertising campaigns announcing his arrival. It’s all word of mouth. There is no merchandise table. He hits the stage with drummer Tommy Larkins and both create a very personal live experience where Jonathan pours out every ounce of his lovely essence. You feel like every song performed is especially for you.

Richman has achieved fame by adding a major contribution to the development of what became known as the American punk movement. A sound that grew largely out of the “garage band/proto-punk” bands of the 60’s. Richman’s early band The Modern Lovers has been cited as being very influential to musicians and writers across many genres and mediums. Jonathan Richman’s music has been said to be one of the central arteries between bands like the Velvet Underground to the blossoming origins of the New York City and English punk scenes of mid 70’s. He eventually dropped the name Modern Lovers and began touring simply as Jonathan Richman. Throughout the 1980’s and early 1990’s Richman maintained a worldwide cult fan base performing around the globe, followed by a widening spotlight on him with his appearance in the Farrelly Brother’s epic comedies, 1996’s ‘Kingpin’ and ‘There’s Something about Mary’ in 1998.

I felt evidence of the legend of Jonathan Richman, live and in person that night at Zanzabar in Louisville within the opening strains of his first number “My Baby Love Love Loves Me”, Richman immediately gained the warm attention of the crowd and never once did they let go. Jonathan merrily held his guitar up high and gave his hips a swivel, all very sweetly and sincerely, keeping with his reputation as being child-like and exuding a certain sort of whimsy. He charmed the crowd with the things he said and the little dances he would erupt into even in the middle of songs, leaving Tommy to provide the percussive footsteps. The goosebumps hit me right about halfway through “Springtime In New York”. In the course of the show there were many times I felt that same kid-ish feeling where I was just pulled into the absolute joy of the occurrence.

Jonathan’s ability to relate to an audience is something I honestly have never experienced in a live show. The crowd was asked to sing along with “People Are So Disgusting” as Jonathan went through many worst case scenarios of motel existence and his sympathy towards those who have to clean up the messes. His eyes would move from person to person, each time you could see the little light of connection.

(video courtesy of Christopher Martin)

My friend Chris Martin, the fella responsible for getting me to the show later told me that “Jonathan looks at people until they smile. Then finds another person.” The point is all about getting everyone in the room singing and playing along, making them participants in the performance rather than just mere observers, especially when Jonathan looks out into the crowd and reminds them that it’s ok for them to give him “the beat”. In many cases he is like if Bob Dylan had a younger, more pleasant brother. The show ended with a updated version of a The Modern Lover’s era song, “Old World”…

“I say bye, bye, bye, bye old world.”

…and there were those who hooted and cheered for an encore, Jonathan walked back onstage, read a wonderful poem and it was done…dignified.

Through some mutual folks, my friends and I were able to meet Jonathan and Tommy as they were in the process of packing up gear and finishing up a brief nosh before hitting the road. Jonathan was speaking with someone from the venue about the issue of sound proofing. Jonathan’s sound live is not loud, he makes it powerful and that power certainly was concentrated in that room. He was talking about audiences listening to live music comfortably and said that when the club owners allow bands to dictate loud volume criteria the owners are just catering to the band’s sense of stage fright.

As Tommy was packing up the last bit of his gear, things quieted down and we finally spoke with Jonathan. He told us about touring around, he and Tommy travel around quite frequently and do it very simply. Usually the arrangement is Jonathan and Tommy in a modest van and a double handful of nameless motel rooms; in some cases they make it abroad and play to appreciative crowds in Europe and Asia as well. Jonathan also said that he likes to go to schools and perform for kids. He has no problem taking the class that has the most unruly child. He proudly confessed to us that usually by the end of the show that unruly kid is leading the applause. Both guys were very welcoming to us and though the visit was brief it has had a very lasting effect on me. We said so long and both Jonathan and Tommy hopped into their van and proceeded to make their way to Chicago.