Archive for The Surrealtors

CD Review: “Searching for Sugar Man” by Rodriguez

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on July 2, 2013 by 30daysout

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By George Kovacik

Most of us musicians make albums that, for one reason or another, never seem to find their place in the world. They are filled with songs that we have spent years writing and thousands upon thousands of dollars recording. We think they are the next Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Pet Sounds and we have big dreams of money, girls and everything else that goes along with being a superstar. Back in 1970, Sixto Rodriguez was a singer-songwriter who had these same dreams. Then he made a record.

Rodriguez, as he was billed, put out his first album, Cold Fact, in March 1970 and a year later followed it up with, Coming from Reality. Both albums bombed in the United States, and Rodriguez quit music and worked manual labor jobs in Detroit where he lived at or below the poverty line.  Unbeknownst to him, both albums caught fire in South Africa. His songs became hits with the anti-apartheid movement and he became a hero no one knew anything about. In fact, tall tales circulated about how he had died. One said he shot himself to death on stage, while another said he doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire.

In 1997, South African record store owner, Stephen “Sugar” Segerman, set out to find out what happened to the elusive Rodriguez and to see if he was still alive. This is where I’m going to leave you hanging. I encourage you to watch the excellent documentary, Searching for Sugar Man, for the rest of the story.  However, I will tell you about the music that makes up the incredible soundtrack.

When you listen to Rodriguez, it’s hard to believe that he didn’t become a huge sensation. He’s a cross between Bob Dylan and Jim Croce. His songs were socially conscious with great melodies. They drew me in the first time I heard them. The catchy “I Wonder” should have been a huge hit. The sad “I Think of You” is a beautiful love song. The psychedelic “Sugar Man” showed his love for more than one kind of mind-altering substance, “Cause” is as brilliant and sad a song as you will ever hear, and his lyrical prowess is firmly on display on the Dylan-esque “This Is Not A Song, It’s An Outburst (Or, The Establishment Blues).”

The story of Sixto Rodriguez gives all of us musicians hope that there is some kid halfway across the world who cannot wait to get home from school to listen to his iPod and learn one of our guitar licks. I’m sure there is some other guy out there right now trying to find the balding guy on the back cover of the Orange Is In Another Lame Semi-Tragedy CD. I’m right here, buddy. Give me a call.

“I Think of You” – Rodriguez

“Cause” – Rodriguez

“Crucify Your Mind” – Rodriguez (Live on “Late Show with David Letterman)

“I Wonder” – Rodriguez (Live on KEXP)

Lost Classics! – The Reivers

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2009 by 30daysout

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Fitzgerald’s is a crusty old dive in The Heights section of Houston.  The white wood on its facade falling apart, the upstairs floor so weak you always felt like you were going to fall through, “Fitz” has seen its share of acts since opening its doors in 1977.  ZZ Top, Etta James, David Allan Coe. and even the “Godfather of Soul” James Brown are just a few who lit up the stage.

In the mid-80s, I was playing drums for The Surrealtors.  We were asked by the brass at Fitzgeralds to open for a band called The Reivers, a four-piece pop band from Austin.  We immediately went out and purchased their debut CD for Capitol Records called Saturday.  From the opening track, “What Am I Doing?,” I was hooked.  The rough male voice of lead singer and writer John Croslin, mixed with the beautiful soaring vocals of Kim Longacre, made for a unique and unforgettable blend. The songs had a lot of melody, jangly guitars and a raw energy reminiscent of early R.E.M.  I saw them about 10 times during a two-year period and every show was better than the last one.

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Rock Star Sighting! – Elvis Costello

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 3, 2009 by 30daysout

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In 1994, Elvis Costello and the Attractions came roaring into Houston (actually the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands about 40 miles outside of the city) on the Brutal Youth Tour. Costello had been one of my heroes for years, but I had never seen him live. Somehow I got fourth row tickets and the show was incredible. The hightlights included (but not limited to) “13 Steps Lead Down” into “Radio Radio,” and “Alison” with “Tracks of My Tears” and “Tears of  A Clown” tacked on at the end. Costello was clicking on all cylinders and, in typical Houston fashion, few people saw it.

A couple of days before the show, a guy who worked down the hall from me at KLOL Radio said “I have a couple of backstage passes, do you want to go?” Let me think about it for a half a second. Oh, okay.

Being in a band at the time, I figured I would make Elvis a “tape” of my latest project. My brother and I had just put out a CD titled No More Milk under the name The Surrealtors, which featured a song called “Tell Me Why.” It was my attempt to write a “Costello song.

We get backstage meet drummer Pete Thomas and then Costello comes down. We make some small talk, he signed my copy of Brutal Youth, asked me how I liked the show, and then I told brutalyouthhim “I’m in a band and I wanted to give you a copy of my tape.” He couldn’t have been nicer. He said “we’ll listen to it on the way to New Orleans.” Whether he did or not, I’ll never know, but at least he said he would, which was good enough for me.

I’ve included The Surrealtors version of “Tell Me Why” and the current version from my band, Orange Is In.

MP3: “Tell Me Why” – The Surrealtors

MP3: “Tell Me Why” – Orange Is In

Elvis Costello Official Website

The Surrealtors MySpace page