(Capinch Zine #5 - Feb.2005)


First of all I was wondering…how old are you? When I listen to you playin’ I think you have 60 at least!!!

I am thirty-nine years old.

How in much bands, projects and records do you taken part till now?

Lots of records- partial list:

Bloodsucking Go- Devils—“My Girl, Her Name is Ralph”- compilation on Glitch Records.

Ideals- “The Poor Man’s ZZ-Top” 7” single on Matako Mazuri Records.

Hickoids-  Waltz Across Dress Texas  ep on Toxic Shock

Go- Devils   Store in a Cool Place- self released cassette.

Hank Street Ramblers  “Itch to Floss”  7” single on Double Naut Records.

Big Foot Chester   Devil in Me cd on Sympathy

Big Foot Chester   Tabernaclin’  cd on Sympathy

Gay Sportscasters -“Swingin”  7” single on Only Boy Records

Gay Sportscasters- St. Nick’s Farm  7” single on Only Boy

Bare Ass-Minimums, G. Sportscasters  “Only Bowie” cd Only Boy

Buick MacKane - The Pawnshop Years  cd Rykodisc

Texacala Jones & her T. J. Hookers -  cd   Honey Records

The Drop-Outs - Come On!  cd   Unclean Records ‘

Walter Daniels & the Gospel Clodhoppers -“I’m a Soldier “  7” single on Undone Records

Pork - Slop  cd on Emperor Jones Records

Eugene Chadbourne -Texas Sessions Volume 2   Boxholder Records

Eugene Chadbourne -To Doug  7” single on Rectangle Records

The Crackpipes -  Every Night is Saturday Night  Sympathy

South Filthy -“Name it yo’ mammy if ya wanna ….  Cd   Sympathy

Is there any your records you most like? Why?

I’m most proud of a number of records- the newest one by South Filthy especially. South Filthy is Msr.Jeffrey Evans, Jack Yarber, myself, “Blind” Lary Warner, and the great Mike Buck. Just out on Sympathy and I think it is really cool. I’m very proud of the Texas Sessions Volume 2- if you aren’t familiar with Eugene Chadbourne’s crazy improv-country-freak out music, I highly recommend it. I am proud of my version of Roy Acuff’s “This World (Can’t Stand Long)” with Evan Johns on slide guitar on the Au-Go-Go single Outta the Closet. The song “Devil in Me,” from the Big Foot Chester cd is one of my favorite recordings.

Did you learn a lot working with great personalities like Tim Kerr, Monsieur Jeffrey Evans, Oblivians, Revelators/Hard Feelings and others more?

I really enjoy playing with lots of different players and I try to learn from them all. The Memphis guys are so inspiring- home recording for example- just blew my mind. I remember placing a tiny lapel microphone (the kind people used to wear on talk shows) onto a tiny single powered battery amp and digging how strange it looked. I feel at ease playing with Jeffrey Evans, Jack Yarber, and Greg Cartwright- they are great players, singers, stylists. Tim Kerr is an awesome producer and guitarist and much fun to play with. He has advised me recently concerning production - he is very generous with his knowledge!

I play with the Hard Feelings a lot- they rule!- Schooley is a great slide player and has turned me on to a bunch of good records. Last March I recorded with the Howling Guitar from Japan. I wasn’t really able to talk to them but we could make some rockin’ sounds. If I play with a band- hopefully I can learn something about how they record, practice, write songs,etc. Eugene Chadbourne has challenged me as much or more so than any musician- he plays with top-notch players and always produces beautiful wackiness.

The covers by Jack O’Fire were really wide and various. From Blind Willie McTell, Little Walter,Hound Dog Taylor, to Pretty Things, Sonics, Small Faces then to Joy Division,Wire,...Negative Approach….Was it the result of different listening of each?

Tim picked out most of the punk tunes and british invasion songs and I selected some of the blues numbers.

When did you started interesting in blues? And playin’ harmonica?

While going to High School in Texas I saw a Public Television documentary about blues and it showed this tremendous player, Johnny Woods, playing harp on his porch. I remembered that I had a harmonica from many years ago and grabbed it and started to mess around. Later, I saw a rock show (The Midnight Special) with two harp players - John Mayall and Paul Butterfield - and they both sounded tough. Later, I started listening to Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter, and John Lee Hooker.

Talk a bit about your harps… How much do you have? What kind do you play? What you prefer?

I own lots of harps - 20 or 30 or so. I play Hohner Big River harmonicas - they are very affordable. I used to play the Hohner Marine Band and they are still a good place to start. I’m playing chromatic harmonica these days and it is very challenging. You can play in any key - I played “Star Spangled Banner before a hockey game recently on the chromatic.

Who are the harmonica-players that most influenced you? And bluesmen?

Harp players I dig - Paul Butterfield, Magic Dick (of the J. Geils Band), Sugar Blue, Stevie Wonder, James Cotton, Junior Wells, Little Walter Jacobs, Carey Bell, Junior Parker, Sonny Boy Williamson. Locally there are a bunch of great players - Ted Roddy, Gary Primich, Michael Rubin, J.P. Allen - great players that will talk technique and/or music with anybody. 

Howling Wolf is perhaps my favorite singer of all time! I love country blues records by Blind Willie McTell,  Blind Willie Johnson (a new South Filthy single on Wrecked-Em Records will have our version of “Soul of a Man”), Charlie Patton, Skip James.

What kind of music you also listen over the blues?

I love honky-tonk- old timey classic country, free jazz, bebop, punk rock- Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Django Reinhardt, Buck Owens, Eric Dolphy, Sun Ra, Charles Mingus, Rashaan Rolank Kirk, Patti Smith, Roger Miller, even checking out a Mozart Clarinet concerto.  Started listening to Jesus & Mary Chain- whoa!

"Bring me the head of Jon Spencer" was the title of first Jack O’Fire e.p. It became a slogan for me! I think all his stuff (and that of much more fashionable personalities) have nothing to do with the blues… Why that title has born?

Tim saw the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion opening for the Jesus Lizard and said Spencer played some harp. At that time, we’d only played as Jack ‘O Fire a few times. Later, I met Spencer while I was touring with ’68 Comeback opening up for Boss Hogg. Spencer looked me over and asked if I was Jack ‘O Fire- like he was angry. Of course, Jon Spencer isn’t a bluesman- dealing more in irony- and he has made some cool records.

Is Jack O’Fire’s adventure definitively closed? Will you ever make a reunion? More recordings?

If Tim Kerr wants to do Jack ‘O Fire, then it will happen. I’ve spoken with Dean and Josh and they are for it. I think it would be fun; Tim is a busy guy, and since I’m raising two girls, I am very busy, also.

Is there any good band’s recordings that haven’t been pubblished? Have you get out all good stuff that you’ve recorded?

We were working on a version of Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips,” but hadn’t spent a lot of time on it. It could have been great. I have a few live tapes- some are terrible- and a few are really good.

Do you think so-called "punk-blues" has become a current fashion and then sooner or later it’s going to end or a new way has opened to r’n’r? There are a lot of bands that sound garage like Oblivians, Jack O'Fire, Gories, '68 Comeback....

I don’t know if punk-blues will ever become “trendy.” I hope it continues.  I want blues to be interpreted in many ways.  Eric Clapton SUCKS!   The White Stripes are cool- Jack White is really into Blind Willie McTell.  Lee County Killers are doing it upright!  I’ve played with them a few times and they are great people.  I don’t think the blues can be trendy- somebody prove me wrong!

Do you think it’s important to born in particulaires geographic areas, black and livin’ in misery for playin’ true blues? Is the blues a painful aptitude, a way of life or musical forms…a genre?

I’m from Chicago and Texas- places with a great blues traditions- but the real thing can come from anywhere. Miles Davis- check him out trading licks with John Lee Hooker on the Hot Spot soundtrack- claimed that he had never been hungry a day in his life, but he could play the blues. Another thought: Ray Charles says, “ Just because Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone doesn’t mean Ray Charles can’t use it.” As long as a person can make an original statement in any style- conjunto, reggae, country, punk rock- fine, just try to swing it, man. However, simple music can be surprisingly deceptive:someone like Jimmy Reed is a perfect example- very simple, but can anyone but him get that sound?

What’s the blues and garage scene in Austin? It’s a town with a great musical tradition….

There are some great bands in Austin. I produced the Crackpipes cd for Sympathy, “Every Night is Saturday Night,” and they are a ripping band. I played some sax on some recent recordings with them, they might do a single with Estrus. I totally dig the Kodiaks- they sound like the Oblivians a lot. Super band. There isn’t a lot of blues around Austin, but if Ted Roddy is laying it down- it is the greasy, real deal. Finally saw the Total Sound Group and they are very cool- many other fine bands are keeping garage rock happening in Austin.

What do you think about Memphis and Detroit garage scene of today? Are you in touch with anyone of them?

My wife and I love Memphis- we might go there to celebrate New Year’s Eve.  Great music, food, soul- I hope to keep visiting there as much as possible. We thought about moving to Memphis, but we’re in Austin for the foreseeable future. Never been to Detroit, but it seems like a vibrant scene. Met Mick Collins at the Vegas Shakedown and he is a really nice guy.

A lot of people wants to known what your future plans are. What your next issue? What your next band? Tours?

Immediate plans- I am hoping to attend a Fat Possum session with Paul “Wine” Jones- Jack Yarber is going to be the drummer on the date. Sometime in the new year- it would be a big thrill. I jammed with “Wine,” T-Model, and Spamm at Beerland during South By Southwest last year- too much fun. 

I’m interested in touring Europe with South Filthy during the summer.  I’ll be approaching some promoters and seeing if this could happen. I’ve been playing with a great drummer, Wade Driver, as a blues/free jazz duo. We’ve done some home recording, and one proper studio session for a compilation.  We’ve talked some with Tim Kerr about producing us and he seems interested. I’d like to record another South Filthy lp and keep plugging away with Big Foot Chester- Mike Buck has been playing drums with us lately.

Please list your all-time all-artists favourite discography.

Partial list of favorite records-  Beasts of Bourbon- Axeman’s Jazz, Gun Club- Fire of Love, Poison 13 –self-titled, Little Walter Jacobs- Boss Blues Harmonica, Johnny Bush- Green Snakes on the Ceiling, Paul Butterfield- Lost Sessions, Compulsive Gamblers- Gambling Days are Over, Charles Mingus-the Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, Hank Williams- Moanin’ the Blues, Minutemen- Double Nickels on the Dime, Howlin Wolf- Sun Sessions, Amos Milburne- Let’s Have a Party, Patti Smith Group- Horses, Sonny Boy Williamson/Memphis Slim- Live in Paris, Hickoids- We’re in it for the Corn, U-Men – Step on a Bug, Elmore Williams/Hezekiah Early- It Takes One to Know One,  Deadly Snakes-Love Undone, John Coltrane- Soul Trane, Junior Wells- the Chief Recordings, Johnny Paycheck- the Little Darlin’ Years, Eugene Chadbourne- Country Protest, Tex and the Horseheads- Life’s So Cool.

A last word ‘bout the blues to the readers?

The Blues will endure, but I hope people are willing to take chances with the form. Someone told me they didn’t like blues because it was predictable - yet they liked punk, which can be pretty predictable. Matter of fact, there are many similarities between blues and punk- many of the really great stylists- innovators are gone. Listeners are left with more traditional minded players. However, that could change tomorrow. If you don’t like  a blues record- remember that there might be another artist or record that really delivers the goods. Jeffrey Lee Pierce really left a big mark on my style and it was fun to do an unreleased song of his, “LA County Jail,” with South Filthy to show the great debt I owe to musicians like himself and the Howlin’ Wolf.