From the Motor City to low number licence plates


That’s a long journey by car; we may stop off for ice cream on the way!

As soon as I hear the name Michegan in a musical setting, I’m afraid the first artist that springs to mind is the rather rabidly conservative Ted Nugent. I do still listen to – and really like – quite a bit of the Nuge’s music, but when he stops with the high-rev riffing and instead lets his motormouth freewheel ever farther to the right, he becomes indefensible. So he doesn’t kick off our journey this week: that honour goes to the only-slightly-less-OTT Kiss, with Detroit Rock City.
Actually, you know what? I ought to stop with the automotive comparisons right away, as that song ends rather badly for the car driver!

Let’s instantly change direction. We’re supposed to be heading east, but our next destination is the very southern part of Ohio. Once dubbed “ground zero in inner-city decline“, [What? Worse than the Detroit we’ve just left?! Eeesh!! – Depressed Ed.] the neighbourhood in Cincinnati that goes by the acronym of OTR now has reasons aplenty to hold its head high. Apart from the urban regeneration of a [relatively] historic architecture, Over-The-Rhine (minus the hyphens) is the band name for husband and wife Linford Detweiler & Karin Bergquist. I have Tincanman and particularly saneshane to thank for my knowledge of them. Karin has one of my all-time favourite voices, and their song Latter Days is vying for inclusion in my funeral arrangements, but for our travelogue, let’s stick with the title track from 2003 album Ohio.

Finding a song specifically from West Virginia, as opposed to Virginia itself, took me a while. Just sneaking in by a mere twenty miles or so is Dave Alvin’s Shenandoah. Good job I found that, I thought I was going to have to put up with Kathy Mattea & Tim O’Brien’s take on Gentle On My Mind, not a song I’m particularly fond of.

Crossing into Pennsylvania, however, opened up a whole treasure trove of musical riches. [You struggled, LIAB9? Really??] Not that the scenery’s that great. We start with the dismissal of their home town, York, by rockers Live – Shit Towne. Just watch what Ed Kowalczyk has to say at the beginning of this, er, live version. Also sticking firmly in grubby, urban, autobiographical territory (Philadelphia this time) is G. Love & Special Sauce – Shooting Hoops.

We head northeast now and almost inevitably into the Big Apple. I’m going to continue with the rock/hip-hop crossover groove, and let Huey Morgan show us round the Fun Lovin’ Criminals’ SouthSide. I had to really, didn’t I? But there’s more to New York State than NYC: I’m turning north to see Karin Bergquist again with the beautiful Poughkeepsie.

I’ve now driven over a thousand miles this week, and want a comfort break. Where better than at Ben & Jerry’s Vermont headquarters for some ice cream? No Cherry Garcia for me (sorry Chris!) because this very tea time, on top of my sticky toffee pudding (thanks, DsGran!) I had a good old dollop of Phish Food, which is most welcome when you’ve been at the Stash.  ;o)

Back on the road now, and let’s ease our way into New Hampshire with Matt Pond PA. Pond grew up in NH, and obviously enjoyed it. Scissorfight, on the other hand, only think New Hampshire’s Alright If You Like Fighting. Well I don’t do violence, so I’m off!

Perversely, what I DO do is read a considerable amount of violent/horror fiction, so I can’t visit Maine without taking a Stephen King pilgrimage. I don’t always like his works.  I LOVE the uncut version of The Stand, The Talisman with Peter Straub, The Langoliers (from Four Past Midnight), Christine, and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, amongst others, but the less said about my opinions of Insomnia, Desperation and Maximum Overdrive, the better. At least the last of those had AC/DC write Who Made Who specifically for it.

Turning south, as we must if we are to stay in the US, I’ll give you one guess who my first-thought band is as I get to Boston . . . NO! Not BostonAerosmith, of course. The Toxic Twins are Home Tonight. Whereas my next US band couldn’t be much further from home and still be in their own country. Why Death Cab For Cutie wrote a song called Lowell, MA is not a question I can answer.

Leavey already gave you one song from Massachusetts’ Willard Grant Conspiracy, but I’m going to give you another, for two reasons. First, it’s a song which is one of the RR A-listers I’m most proud of getting zedded. Second, it features a Rhode Island native on some most haunting backing vocals: here’s WGC’s The Ghost Of The Girl In The Well . The female vocalist is Kristin Hersh, who along with her stepsister Tanya Donelly formed Throwing Muses in Newport, RI. To finish this week, let’s encourage a little Civil Disobedience, shall we? Why? Why the hell not? Is this or is it not “the land of the free”? The hell with the government!!!

Oh, hang on . . . I’ve turned back into Ted Nugent, haven’t I? D’OH!!

This week’s songs are all in the ‘Box again, folks.



6 thoughts on “From the Motor City to low number licence plates

    • Nah. This week only looks good because I had the time to go to town on it, and because we have friends IRL who live in Ohio. Which reminds me:

      When I was planning this last week, I had both Richmond Fontaine’s Dayton, Ohio and The Blue Nile’s Because Of Toledo on the mental pre-list. If I get a chance later, I’ll insert both in the DB list. That’ll actually smooth the musical roadway* between Kiss & OTR anyway.

      * Either irony or subconscious: our lane is being planed and relaid this week; they started an hour ago.

  1. Listened to about half of them and surprised at how mellow some of them are and also how you managed to “shoehorn” in those Aussie rockers!

    So far there’s only one I skipped through, which was G. Love! Really 🙂

  2. In case anyone’s bothered to listen, the version of the Willard Grant Conspiracy song in the ‘Box was the wrong one. Ms Hersh has now been rightfully reinstated.

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