We've had a couple practices since the last update. A bit sloppy each time, but productive. Hard to believe we have another show coming up in a little over a week. We'll try to squeeze in three more practices before April 1st.
Yes, I'm aware how full of mistakes the 3/13/2023 account of the "last" Book of Kills show was. I've tried to correct everything (and I even did some re-writing) in case anyone hasn't read it yet. I think I was in a hurry the day I posted that entry and though I'd intended to read over it and make whatever necessary edits were needed, I got distracted with something else and forgot to revisit it.
This is one of the more important days in Book of Kills history. On this date back in 2010, Mike Hicks, George Nipe III and Jim played their final show at the Little Grill to an "appreciative" sold-out crowd.
Here's an excerpt about that night's show from the now deleted Jim Shelley autobiography, THE BALLAD OF JIM SHELLEY (written back in 2010):
March 13 was a pretty typical 'concert day' for me. As always, I could focus on little else besides the songs I would play that night and whether or not anyone would even care enough to show up. (If no one did show up, I had only myself to blame; I hadn't even posted any fliers around the city advertising the event. The only thing I had done was mention it a couple times on my Facebook page and bookofkills.com.)
I spent most of the afternoon sequestered in my bedroom, practicing riffs on my acoustic guitar and repeating lyrics in my head over and over again. I've never denied that I am a mediocre instrumentalist. I rarely practice on my own except on the day of a show, deluding myself into thinking that four or five hours of last-minute work can substitute for months of studious practice.
A little before 7 P.M., I loaded my amp and guitar into the back of my old RAV4 and my wife and I drove to the Grill. I was probably more anxious than I had ever been before in my life, save perhaps the morning I gave the HHS commencement address. But I need not have worried. Saturday night was, simply put, magical.
My entire family was there, including my wife Mary Lou, my older son Daniel and even my younger son Christian who had never seen a BOK show. Also in attendance were many of the folks I'd played with over the years, including Garfield Banks, Gary Bugg, Randy Simpson, Jane Firkin, Mike Chiarello, Jeff Lown, and, of course, Casey. Two of the best BOK photographers ever, Deanne Good and Jana Burtner, moved about the crowd snapping the occasional picture with their cameras. My brother and his lovely wife, Linda, showed up as well. The Grill was packed.
Buck Gooter and Sleepfeeder both played short, high-energy sets and then the moment had arrived.
We set up our equipment quickly. I didn't speak more than a sentence or two to George or Mike. I was racked with nerves and consumed by my emotions as I started to introduce the band, when suddenly Casey Firkin emerged from the crowd and presented me with a plaque. "The Shenandoah Valley Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame would like to present Jim with its first-ever lifetime achievement award," he said into the microphone. "To a true rock 'n' roll pioneer who has influenced and touched more lives with his creative musical contributions than he will ever know. Thanks for the music and for never giving up or giving in. Your fans, friends and family." I was close to tears.
What could I say in reply? Over the years since I'd released Bloom Or Die? I had met so many wonderful friends and acquaintances through music. I could never even begin to thank them all for giving me far more than I ever gave back. I hugged Casey and then hammered out the opening riff of 'River Of Blood'...and ended up pretty much butchering the song beyond recognition, even though Mike and George did their best to hold things together.
My screw ups, however, seemed not to matter; from the start, folks were dancing and moshing and even singing along in George's or my microphone. Bodies continually slammed into me and I found it difficult to even keep my hands on my guitar. A couple of times the microphone whacked my mouth so hard I thought I'd broken some teeth.
It was great.
We careened our way through 'Killing Time Again', 'Marzipan Day', 'Fat Woman Lying In The Street', 'Blue Man', 'Never Be Like You', 'Placebo', 'Fade', 'To Dream A New Dream', 'Stanley The Steamer', 'Little Metal Toys', 'Lost', 'School', and finally 'Don't Stop The Scream' with Mike Chiarello, Billy Brett and Casey Firkin joining me on the choruses. The crowd wasn't about to let us go yet, but crazily we hadn't even considered working out a couple of encore songs. '
"How about 'So Tired'?", I suggested to George and Mike. I couldn't remember the last time we'd played that one, but what the hell. We delivered a credible, energetic version, but the crowd continued to chant for more:
"Book Of Kills! Book Of Kills!"
The someone yelled out, "I Hang Heavy!" It had been months since we'd jammed that song. But why not?
And that's how it all ended...
“I hang heavy in the universe! The coming is bad, but the going is worse!"
Was it the "greatest BOK show ever"? Who knows? It's definitely up there with the six other shows I rank as the most memorable BOK gigs ever: 3.9.1995, 10.27.2001, 4.13.2002, 2.1.2003, 6.6.2009 and 12.9.2023. I will say it was the most fun I've ever had playing live music. And to be able to share the evening with Casey, Ike and Greg of Sleepfeeder and Billy and Terry of Buck Gooter made it an even bigger honor and pleasure for me.
To say 'You had to be there' is no doubt one of the hoariest of all clichés, but in this case it is certainly true.
Book of Kills will be playing a live show at Restless Moon in Harrisonburg, Virginia, April 29.
We couldn't practice this past Sunday, but we will practice tomorrow (Thursday).
On this day in 2016, the great Sir George Martin passed away at the age of 90. I'm hoping that I don't need to tell you why his passing was noteworthy.
Also on this day in 1945, Micky Dolenz was born. Micky, of course, was a member of The Monkees. Although he and the band have taken far more than their share of grief for being the so-called "Pre-Fab Four", the fact remains that Micky possessed a really, really good rock and roll voice. If you need actual evidence, listen to the following seven Monkees songs: "Pleasant Valley Sunday", "Sometime in the Morning", "Randy Scouse Git", "She Makes Me Laugh", "Porpoise Song" (one of the '60s best songs), "The Girl I Knew Somewhere", and "Goin' Down".
Fairly regularly (meaning maybe once or twice a month), I get asked one of two questions about Jim Shelley/Book of Kills/The Karl Rove/Fear + Whiskey music: (1) Which album(s) do you think are the strongest of all your releases and/or (2) What album(s) would you recommend a JS/BOK/TKR/F+W newbie try first? I guess my answers vary as often as my responses to the questions. Though I've listed my own choices for "best" albums here several times over the years, I guess I haven't done so for a pretty long while, so...
The ten albums I'd rate right now as the best by Book of Kills in no particular order: WASP 51! (2003), THE HAUNTED LIFE (1992), DIFFERENT (2007), I CAN'T GIVE YOU ANYTHING BUT LOVE (2005), SAINT JUDAS (1995), ARMY OF LOUD (2023), I KNOW WE CAN SAVE OUR WORLD (2020), WEE JIM'S BLACKEYE (1993), DON'T STOP THE SCREAM (1992) and THIS IS YOUR BOOK OF KILLS (2008).
However, if I were pressed to pick just one BOK album for a "newbie" I think I'd recommend the sprawling compilation, TO DREAM A NEW DREAM, which features material from 1989 through 2020.
For someone interested in finding out more about Fear + Whiskey, there's only one choice and that's the FEAR + WHISKEY ANTHOLOGY from 2013. (I'd like to one day re-visit this album and do some adding and subtracting of tracks).
Ditto The Karl Rove in that there's only one choice to listen to if you want to know more about the band and that's the recently released THE MONKEYCLAUS E.P. + OUTTAKES & LIVE.
All of these records are available on streaming services around the world.
Short but fun and productive practice last evening. We've four additional "new" songs to our repertoire. Might add one or two more.
I uploaded a Karl Rove track from the newly released anthology, THE MONKEYCLAUS SESSIONS + OUTTAKES & LIVE, to the music page. If you're familiar with the old compact disc Karl Rove anthology from 2006, you'll hear a significant improvement in sound over that original album.
This hasn't ever happened in all the time I've been dealing with CDBaby, but they just notified me that the new Karl Rove album THE MONKEYCLAUS E.P. + OUTTAKES & LIVE is available less than twenty-four hours after I submitted it for approval on many streaming services already. Most companies like Apple Music and Spotify will take a while to add the album to their offerings, but within a week or so just about every legitimate streaming service on earth (and more than a few that aren't so legitimate like the Russian company Yandex) will have the album. If you enjoyed the original CD which, I think, only featured fourteen tracks, you'll love the new anthology which almost doubles the number of songs and features vastly superior sound.
I ended up having almost all day free to work on music and was able to finish remastering all of the songs that will go on the new The Karl Rove compilation. I even had the time to upload everything to CDBaby. Now they'll take their sweet time inspecting everything to make sure it's all suitable for release and within a week or so the album will go public on streaming services around the world.
It was fun listening to those nearly twenty year old performances. I was struck by how full of energy, emotion and commitment they all were. I'd forgotten how much improvisation was a part of that band. I was also struck by the fact that the material we recorded on our own largely sounded better than the tracks we laid down at MonkeyClaus Studios.
Although I initially planned on packing the album with 35+ tracks, I eventually realized that whittling down the song list to a relatively breezy 26 tracks made for a much better listening experience. That means I had to leave off a few things, but nothing really that anyone but the most hardcore (as if there are any "hardcore" Karl Rove fans) TKR fan would miss.
Good practice Sunday evening. "Why Won't You?", "The Pleasures of Saying Goodbye" and "About a Girl" are all coming along nicely. Time to start looking around for a live gig.
I haven't been able to spend much time on the project thus far, but it has been pretty interesting going back to the Book of Proles/The Karl Rove days (17+ years ago!) and re-acquainting myself with everything we managed to record in a short two year span. While the band were not exactly known for their individual musical talents, all four of us worked hard on writing good new material. Consider some of the songs The Karl Rove came up with in its brief existence: God Bless, Who Dares Defy the Hand of God to War, Little Metal Toys, Different, River of Blood, Winds of Dying, JROTC, Empire in Decline, Another Shitty Day in Funtown, and So Tired! Anyway, I'm mastering one or two songs a day and I intend to assemble a thirty track album, so it'll be a while before I'm ready to upload everything to CDBaby for streaming distribution.
I was browsing through the list of Book of Kills and Fear + Whiskey albums that I've uploaded over the years to CDBaby to be distributed, of course, to the various streaming services around the world, and I realized that I'd never uploaded the Karl Rove anthology. Criminal! So, anyway, I'm going to remaster the tracks from THE MONKEYCLAUS SESSIONS PLUS collection from way back in 2006 and upload them over the next week or so. It really shouldn't take me too long. I don't know whether or not I'll include any unreleased material (mainly live stuff), but if I have space (CDBaby only allows so much material to be included for any one record), I'll include what I can. With Apple's Logic (the software I use these days to record, mix and master my music) at my disposal now, I should be able to make everything sound at least a little better.
Another decent practice Thursday. Short but productive. We've got three new songs we're working on and we'll add one or two more, then start working on finding some new gigs.
Big day in Beatles history: On this day in 1964, The Beatles made their live concert debut in the United States at the Washington Coliseum. Over 350 police surrounded the stage to keep the 8,000 plus screaming fans in control. The set list: ‘Roll Over Beethoven’, ‘From Me to You’, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, ‘This Boy’, ‘All My Loving’, ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’, ‘Please Please Me’, ‘She Loves You’, ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’, ‘Twist and Shout’, and ‘Long Tall Sally’. (You can watch this entire concert on YouTube.)
Had a good practice this past Sunday. Not sure when we will practice again. Possibly Thursday, though that might be dicey for me. We've pretty much got a couple new tunes down already and we'll be adding another couple soon.
Sorry that I haven't been very active on the webpage lately. There just hasn't been a whole lot of band news to report.
I'm still trying to come up with a good design for BOK t-shirts.
No new gig scheduled. I've been waiting to pursue any new shows while we revamp our set list.
Still haven't started writing and recording a new album. Just haven't had that "burning desire" to churn something new out.
Lost one of my best friends ever this week to cancer.
No practice again this week.
Short but decent practice last evening. Started off smoking, that's for sure. I put the opening salvo ("Bad Person") from last night up on the music page, if you want to check it out. Overall, we're still kinda finding our footing again after essentially only jamming together for a couple hours since our second gig back before Christmas. We have added a couple new songs, both of which have come together pretty quickly. Like to add another one next weekend.
Didn't practice last night. Maybe Tuesday. We'll mainly work on "Why Won't You?" (which we added last practice) and a couple more "new" ones, when we do get back together.
I'm in the early stages of putting together some sort of new BOK t-shirt. No idea when I'll have them done. I'm even considering buying my own screen printing set-up so that I can do my own shirts.
I added an interesting video to the video (duh) page of an acoustic performance of "Why Won't You?" from (I think) late 2002. The tape (which is of passable quality at best) from which this performance comes is the only known record of an acoustic gig by any of the band's many line-ups.
"If you end up with a boring, miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it."
"Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible."
"I never set out to be weird. It was always other people who called me weird."
"All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff."
"Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe."
-- Frank Zappa
We finally got back together last night and jammed for a little over an hour (that was all my voice would take). While it was good to be making music again, the effects of the three+ weeks "lay-off" were pretty apparent. Lots and lots of flubs. Nonetheless, it was good to take some time away and recharge. We still have a long way to go to be a really, really solid band, but we're on the road to where we want to go.
Needless to say, I won't be posting anything from last night on the Music page.
Thanks again to everyone who has been inquiring about our next show. It means a lot to all of us to have folks take such an interest in us! Since we're trying to learn 5-6 new songs, it'll be a while before we commit to another live performance. Keep in mind that we can pretty much play whenever at Rock Steady, so that's probably where we'll play next when we're ready to go again.
This day in 1997 marked the second of only six gigs that the line-up of David and Brian Buracker, Brock Beatty and Jim would ever play. I like this group. We had a pretty adventurous mind-set when it came to writing new or selecting older songs to play. The set list for this show: Don't Stop the Scream, Because Because, Placebo #1, She's the Kind of Girl, Fade, March of the Lima Beans, Idiot Planet, Killing Time Again, Lost, I Start to Fall, Epics, Abandoned, I Hang Heavy, Wonder Twin, Heaven, Just Like Heaven, Paperback Writer.
We weren't able to practice last night. We've tentatively rescheduled for Tuesday.
On this day in 2014 (how could it be fourteen years ago?), The Plague Dogs (of which I was a part as the bassist and occasional vocalist) played a long two-set show at the Rocktown Grill in Harrisonburg, Virginia. I don't recall much about the show other than the fact that five people showed up to see us. Yeah, it was kinda deflating.
Jimmy Page (1944) and Joan Baez (1941) were both born on this day.
"I seem to have tireless energy when I get involved in things, on an almost OCD basis, which is a good way to do things because if you're gonna do something, you'd better make sure you do it well." -- Jimmy Page
"It seems to me that those songs that have been any good, I have nothing much to do with the writing of them. The words have just crawled down my sleeve and come out on the page." -- Joan Baez
If you haven't listened to the recordings of the live show from December and have been meaning to do so, don't wait any longer! I'll be removing most of the tracks in a day or two.
On this day in 1970, The Beatles, without John Lennon, re-recorded some vocals and laid down a new guitar solo on the Paul McCartney song "Let It Be" at Abbey Roads. They also more or less completed George's "I Me Mine" (though Phil Spector would do substantial additional production work on the track later.) This session marked the last time the Beatles would be together in a recording studio until February 11th, 1994, when Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr regrouped again to begin work on the first Beatles "reunion" song, "Free As A Bird," for their Anthology project.
On this day in 1960, Michael Stipe was born.
"I think the one thing that I can say about us is that we're very consistent about certain things and part of that is our desire to do the very best work that we can and not rest on our laurels or not allow formula to come into what we do." -- Michael Stipe
Happy New Year! I sure hope 2023 is better than 2020, 2021 and 2022!
The band will get back to practicing in a week or so. As I said before, we'll be adding new material. I'll be looking into some more gigs soon.
“It really was important to me that we maximize our potential as a live band and come up with cool endings and things like that. It was already happening. Dave was already there, but I definitely was like, ‘We got to practice more. We got to practice more.'”
“I was a loudmouth kid and I was like, ‘I have ideas, I have ideas.’ And finally I just went, ‘You know what? You have the best ideas. And if you want an idea, you’ll let me know.'”
“I have major stage fright, major, major, major. Like today is like, I’m in hell right now. It’s really with Foo Fighters shows. I do shows with my other bands, but I just feel a certain way when there’s 100,000 people waiting for you to go onstage. I put a big burden on myself to play perfectly – whatever that means – and keep in perfect time.”
-- Taylor Hawkins, from an interview before a show in 2021