Sunday, September 21, 2008

Holy Modal Rounders reunion!: somebody drive me to Portland

I'm eagerly awaiting the release of the Holy Modal Rounders documentary on DVD (Myspace here, trailer here); astute followers of this blog know that I interviewed Peter Stampfel last winter, and he's passed on news of a series of Holy Modal Rounders reunion gigs (of course, minus Weber) happening in Washington and Oregon this week. Alas, I do not think I can attend, but I would love to. I wonder how much it costs to take a bus?
Check "Stick Your Ass in the Air" out here, on Youtube - from their last reunion, I think - or another great new Stampfel tune, "Hey Oh." And then there's their song from Easy Rider, with lyrics by Antonia Stampfel.
Any Holy Modal Rounders devotees who happen to have peeked in are welcome to invite me to share travel expenses! Stampfel's info - tour dates and a brief press release - follow:
*** Featuring Dave Reisch, Bingo, Robin Remaily and Peter Stampfel ***
7 p.m. Free All ages (unless noted):
Monday, September 22 · Edgefield Winery, Troutdale, OR (21 and over)
Tuesday, September 23 · Olympic Club, Centralia, WA
Wednesday, September 24 · Grand Lodge, Forest Grove, OR
(That's where the last reunion was)
Thursday, September 25 · Sand Trap, Gearhart, OR -- that's on the Coast near Seaside
*** Also featuring Roger North ***
Friday, September 26 · Mission Theater, Portland, OR 9 p.m. $15 21 and over (w/ the Lewi Longmire Band)
Saturday, September 27 · Mission Theater, Portland, OR 9 p.m. $15 21 and over (w/ Freak Mountain Ramblers)
HOLY MODAL ROUNDERS With roots in early-'60s Greenwich Village, the Rounders got their early education playing on the streets and in coffee houses with such acts as The Jim Kweskin Jug Band, Bob Dylan, and Peter, Paul and Mary. They were not so much a group as a changing collaboration centered around the two principals, Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber (Alan Ginsberg and Sam Shepard both did tours of duty in the group), and the intention was to update old-time folk music with a contemporary spirit.
Their eccentricities outraged folk purists, however, as they often changed melodies and words to suit their tastes on some of their cover versions of old standards. Peter Stampfel once wrote in the liner notes, "I made up new words to it because it was easier than listening to the tape and writing words down." While their music was too strange, idiosyncratic, and at times downright dissonant for mainstream listeners to abide, they quickly developed a devout, diehard following. Their most famous song, "If You Wanna Be a Bird," was showcased in the classic movie "Easy Rider," and the band even made an appearance on the TV show "Laugh-In."
As the band went through its paces, it called many cities home, with a west coast version finally holing up in Portland, Oregon. While the six-piece band broke up 1979, many members of the band still reside and perform in the Portland area. The Holy Modal Rounders have reunited several times -- at the Crystal Ballroom as well as other McMenamins locations -- events which have drawn in tried-and-true fans from all over the country.

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