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Columns > Randy Ray - Peaches En Randalia

Published: 2009/09/30
by Randy Ray

moe. better blues>

Peaches En Randalia #43
Serving this slogan for nigh onto four years:
When being Persnickety & Random is better than Tight & Linear.

>Elsewhere, there is a seemingly legendary story about how I walked through the doorway from an early classical and folk education in my youth to straight up rock ‘n’ soul music. Story’s true without too much window dressing, or my usual kitchen-sink writing. And, I know. I speak of myself as if I am either famous, or legendary, and that is wrong. Fuck that. It’s a good story, and forgive my alleged arrogance. I’m here to write about music, and give some insight into the evolving improv soundscape.

>Anyway…like the updated site? I certainly do. A+ winnah. I sort of miss the hippie patchwork quilt, but the new visual presentation is dead-on perfect and, like our esteemed (and more than accurately-labeled legendary trailblazing site founder and editor-in-chief) Dean Budnick has stated, also elsewhere, sometimes the best pieces were on the bottom on the site, or tucked away on the left corner, three freakin’ clicks away.

>Hopefully, peeps will notice that Jarnow is still here, but I think they know that after reading his review of Joy, Phish’s first platter in five years. Jesse and I are Messrs. Night and Day in terms of talent, personalities, and reputation, but I often share his views of artistic resonance. I respected what he said about the album. His co-writer, Carol Wade? Not so much. But I will fight to the death to let her intelligent voice be heard. Her words crackle with a strong sense of decency, compassion, and faith in humanity.

>Elsewhere, everywhere—there are many good things about the site, but I would say that, wouldn’t I? On the day of the re-launch, we saw several interesting new features, including pieces featuring Mike Gordon, Keller Williams, and Horace Moore, the Widespread Panic tape archivist. Two of those were by Dean, and he did that while reformatting 587,492 articles, and juggling numerous personal and professional commitments, not to mention his Executive Editor position at Relix magazine.

>And then there’s Super Mike. Greenhaus hasn’t slept since 1997. Seriously. And yet, you try to reach him at anytime, anywhere, and the cat is there with some news, friendly advice, and pretty much any info you need to file your story. There is Mikey G., and then there’s everyone else. He can be found everywhere, too, on the site, and the magazine.

>So, yeah…I wanted to give a shout out to some worthy chaps, while also hoisting a mighty sword to David Steinberg, who I have been reading since the late 90s on this site, and who has become another legendary figure on the music scene, defying the odds, and always voicing an honest and sincere comment about all things good about our music.

>Returning to the music that initially was handed down to me by my heady neighbor across the street, in the form of LPs by Led Zeppelin and Tower of Power. They

initially appeared to be bands of totally opposing appeal, but I eventually found the common denominator—the song does, indeed, remain the same: be funky, man, in every sense of the many ethereal definitions. And elsewhere, everything else will follow.

>From those innocent head-exploding origins, I leap forward many years, and now I am some post-jaded improv/prog/jazz/weirdo rawk/hard rock/jam Head with a capital ‘H’. How did THIS happen, and what happens when someone (like they just did) asks me what the best albums of the 00s were? Well, I can name the best, right now.

>Wormwood, released by moe., is the best album of the 00s. These cats had IT, and in all of its funky, classic rock, cut-and-splice, live-and-studio glory, moe. conquered the format like no other band had—jam, or otherwise—since Phish’s Billy Breathes. Which makes my longing for Joy to be a better definition of purpose that much more painful. When I pick up those old 70s albums by Led Zeppelin and Tower of Power, there was an honesty about the search for experience that I don’t find on Joy. Hedonism is an occasionally very ugly concept, but it is never boring. Indeed, on the contrary, redemption should also never be this dull. On Joy, a cat is holding on to something new; the three others are compromising. And, as anyone who has ever been married knows, that compromise better be damned good. We’ll see if the festival sparks something fresh.

>Had not listened to Tower of Power’s Back to Oakland in a long time. I have to thank Dean Budnick (again) because he had no idea when he asked if I’d like to interview a ToP band member. They have a new covers album out called Great American Soulbook, which is quite good, and features guest appearances by Joss Stone, Tom Jones, Sam Moore, and Huey Lewis—all artists, in one form or another, who have either influenced, or contain the mighty gold that is improvisational music. I was offered any and all band members to speak with by their gracious publicist. I chose their leader and co-founder, Emilio Castillo, because he plays a bad ass saxophone, and lived in Fremont, California, when my family and I lived there. It was a reunion of sorts—we had never met—but we found we had much in common. Transcribing the interview, featured this month on the site, was a profound experience as Castillo has lived a thousand lives, should have been down and out by now, but he’s been there, done that, and continues to make vital music that makes you feel something. Take note, rehabbers! Me? I didn’t go to rehab, but I’m here to write about music, and give some insight into the evolving improv soundscape.>

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