To Johnny…With Love, Bob

This is one of my favorite Replacements songs, and I feel like more people should know about it so they can love it, too. It’s an ode to Johnny Thunders of the New York Dolls, who did die of a drug overdose in 1991, ten years after this song was released. Four years later, Bob Stinson, Replacements guitarist, followed in his tracks (um…pun intended?)

Party Dots, Ghosthand, Useless Eaters: a play by play

So Saturday I rode down to Jackson with Ghosthand, some garage-rockabilly guys out of Columbus, Mississippi…although really, they should be called Black Black Evil Eye (maybe Ming Donkey is working on this?) We were riding in Bryan’s van–no seatbelts, no AC, just  good conversation, gorgeous skies and a gnarly storm (did I mention, no windshield wipers?)…

Although Ming Donkey wouldn’t know, since he slept through the storm.

Then at Hal & Mal’s, Ghosthand and the Dots had to deal with the problem of standing puddles on the same patio where they needed to run wires. Ming Donkey disappeared to make a set list, and I rocked out to the latest incarnation of the Party Dots–the wife and husband duo (Daphne and Marsh Nabors…unless they’re brother and sister, hmn…) of  the Goner Records punk trio the Overnight Lows. “We tried not to let Marsh drink too much before leaving the house,” Chrissy, Daphne’s bandmate in the girl-garage outfit Wild Emotions, whispered to me as we bounced in tandem.  The Dots got through most of a set before Marsh started dropping notes and Daphne started sighing into the mic–“Are we gonna actually play this one, Marsh?” All I could think, was Our Band Could Be Your Life. And it is. YOUR life, Bryan Leslie. Continue reading

Photos of the Mississippi Delta


Downtown Clarksdale. I love the colors. Most people–those not entirely blinded by the invented romance of “the Blues”–think of the Delta as barren and desolate, a cliched tragedy or a scene out of the most unforgiving Cormac McCarthy novel. (In fact, the area was a serious location contender for The Road before the producers settled on the outskirts of similarly notorious Braddock, Pennsylvania and post-Katrina New Orleans.)

I think of the Delta as vibrant, messy, friendly, noisy and astounding. It’s a place where you can still get moonshine in the bars, if you know how and who and where to ask. It’s a place where they have the best pies I’ve ever tasted (coconut or chocolate, Resthaven diner, Clarksdale),  a place where crop-dusters soar overhead and white boys sing the blues while black kids hone their raps and talk about that friend of a friend of an uncle who got a record deal up in Memphis. It’s a place with no faith and a lot of love, or maybe no love and a lot of faith, or sometimes plenty of both, a place where every road leads to a church and every church swells with the gospel–singing or preaching, one and the same, earnest and loud.

Someone once told me that the reason so many buildings are painted sky blue in tropical shanty-towns and heat-blanketed, soft-air places like Havana is because “bugs won’t land in the sky.” This picture was taken in February, but taken with summer in mind. Summer is when the Mississippi air feels like a caress, and yeah, the bugs come out. They come out but don’t land in the sky.
Continue reading