Sunday, January 31, 2016

Highlights from Southern Surf Stomp! on 1/9/16

Dick Dave and the Scavengers: A Tribute to Dick Dale

David Northrip

Mitch Laue
Tyrone Steele
Senator Artie Mondello w/ Dwayne Jones (drums) and Lars Espensen (sax)

The Original Shake Charmers

with the Senator

Jeff Waites
Ronnie Lee Gipson

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Southern Surf Stomp! presents The Beech Benders, The Blacktop Rockets, Gemini 13 (CD release!)

2015's StompFest (and Instro Summit) favorites The Beech Benders return from Nashville to join us for their first regular Stomp.  These guys put on a wildly fun and entertaining show, playing in styles that range from Stax worthy rhythm and blues to interesting covers to of course surf.

The Blacktop Rockets are a legendary Atlanta institution and this year marks 30 years since their inception.  They play classic rockabilly and roots music with a punk rock attitude.

Gemini 13 arise like a phoenix from the ashes having lost their rhythm section last year and yet come out swinging with brand new members and a brand new ep (their first) to boot!  It was uncertain how they'd fair with the lineup change until their comeback show after StompFest in September, where they were faster, louder, and more aggressive than ever.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Ouroboros Boys "Crossed Wires" video + new 7"

Spitfire / The Corsage

The Monterreys s/t ep review

Review by Noel Squitieri, taken from
I met The Monterreys at the 2012 Instro Summit in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. More accurately, they saw me wandering around the motel grounds looking for someone to talk to, and called me over to talk to me.

The Monterreys are Johnny Stewart on guitar, Leon Daniel on bass and Jason Dickey on drums. They’re terrific musicians. The set they played at the Summit was loud, raucous, vibrant, reverb-filled and hard-driving. So is this EP.

There are five tunes on the record, and only the first, Malaguena, is a cover. It’s a great choice to open with. If any tune is going to show a guitarist’s strengths or weaknesses, or a band’s for that matter, it’s this one. They rip through their driving version of Malaguena with confidence, verve and precision; this is fine ensemble playing, balanced and tight. The guitar playing might lead the listener to think Johnny plays flamenco guitar. He does. Builds to a terrific climax too.

Machete! Is a real cool tune that conjures images of a dangerous Mexican back-alley and someone running away at the end. I have a vivid imagination that I let music play with; what can I say? Again the performance is perfectly matched to the music.

Rampage is very Dick Dale-like, in a good way. Powerful double-picking and roaring glissandos combine with tight bass playing and frenetic drums to sound like something Dick could have written if he’d thought of it. Very catchy and lots of fun to listen to.

Waves of Kauai is a complete change of pace. Its’ melody is as exotic as anything and the performance suits the music nicely. I listen to this with my eyes closed and think about Hawaiian beaches at sunset, with waves gently lapping the shore, and I’m swaying to the music while holding my girl close. It’s just fast enough to dance to and just slow enough that I might not want to. Not yet anyway. Maybe later.

The first time I heard Zeta Reticculi I thought I was listening to a different band. Maybe something by the men of tomorrow? Nope, but sort of. Something ghostly or ghastly? Nope. Something with coffins or daggers? Again, no. It’s at once very familiar and unfamiliar. I like it! It’s a lot of fun and would play great at a Monster Mash.

The Monterreys are very versatile musicians who are able to blend different voices into their music that results in something at once both familiar and unfamiliar. This is a very good EP and I have only one quibble with it; it’s far too short. May I have some more, please?

Johnny Stewart is on SG101 as bangbang

The Monterreys are on YouTube here

The Monterreys are on Facebook at

Monterreys is released on KBK Records and is available at
CD Baby

Deep Eddy Records

Kill, Baby...Kill! "Corridor X" CD review

Review by Noel Squitieri, taken from
Corridor X is the title of the highly anticipated first full-length release by Kill, Baby… Kill! from Anniston, Alabama. Founded originally in 2005 and led by Noah Holt, the band’s current lineup are Erek Smith on Bass, Josh Jackson on Drums, Noah Holt on Guitar and Chris Eagle on Organ and sound samples. They’ve been included on a number of important comps since the 2011 release of their debut EP, Sometimes They Come Back. When Kill, Baby… Kill! played the songs from Sometimes They Come Back and more at the 2012 Instro Summit in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, they left everyone stunned by their power, precision and musicianship. KBK are a band to be reckoned with. What could they do to top that?

For anyone wondering if lightning strikes twice in the same place, it has this time and with a lot more force. This record will wreck your calm disposition and fill you with the need to play everything at full volume over and over, jumping around and playing your air guitar or drums. This is clear the floor of large objects before you play it music. The record infects the listener with its’ relentless driving beat, menacing melodies and powerful performances, and the occasional touch of macabre humor.

The songs:

Corridor X
Corridor X begins with one of the best 1:18 seconds of this kind of music I can remember. Screaming high-pitched feedback from Hell, like the grid just exploded while you are listening. Then drums pounding with a compelling beat full of menace, and then the music starts, fast and furious, distorted like it’s trying to melt your sound system. Corridor X. X means unknown. Going down a corridor to the unknown; who will dare to do it? In sci-fi and horror films, everyone does, to their doom and the entertainment of the audience. So we, the listeners, will also go down Corridor X, unable to resist the pull of the music. A low rumble, as if to indicate nothing is left outside the corridor you’ve been traveling that you want to meet, then a click like switching channels, and …

Occupation of the Body Snatchers
… just what you were afraid of. Something very bad has happened to the world while you were in Corridor X, and you can’t go back and you can’t stay where you are. You have to go on. What’s out there is the next piece of terrific music. Overlaying everything are the haunting strains of what sounds like the irresistible sirens of ancient sailing lore calling to you and a whispered voice warning of certain danger. Do not heed the warnings! Follow the siren call. You’ll be glad you did. This time. It’s only a record. Right?

Meltdown in Sector 9
Be warned! The previous 2 songs come in quietly compared to the nuclear blast of sound waiting for you at the start of this panic attack. This is run-for-your-lives music. It sounds like surf music of, by, and for the apocalypse. And while it incorporates traditional elements of surf music like growling de glissandos and diving chords, the overall effect doesn’t recall a pleasant day surfing. If it recalls anything about surfing it brings to mind being pounded after a bad wipeout off a giant wave and being held down under the roiling water overhead by a grinning zombie. Yeah, that happens a lot. It does in this musical vision of the future.

Hunting for the Dead
This really ought to be the music played on The Walking Dead during zombie chase scenes. The first song taken from the EP, Sometimes They Come back, it’s recreated here for the new record better played and better sounding. Was it a good idea to reimagine the songs from the EP on Corridor X? It is to me. I really enjoyed the raw energy and edginess of Sometimes They Comeback. Fun stuff! Now, after a lot of experience performing the material, KBK have taken what they’ve learned and recorded better versions. Kill, Baby… Kill! have your back. Apparently you can also kill zombies with very loud music.

Suppose the Doomsday Cults Were Right?
Also from Sometimes They Come Back, this song is the soundtrack to trying to escape the end of the world while you can. The song is played with a driving sense of urgency that infects, infuses, takes over and finally consumes everything played by Kill, Baby… Kill! Are you on the last escape vessel? Better be! Because when the end comes, it’s over. You’ll see.

Something on the Wing
Who’s Julia? That’s right. She’s my wife. What’s out there? No one can see it except me. Am I insane? I was then, but I’m not now! Must … stop it … … or we’ll all … … … die! Bob Wilson would understand. So does Rod Serling. Do you? It’s not psychotic paranoia if it’s real.

Love Theme for a Twisted Mind
Is your mind twisted? Don’t answer that. (They’re listening.) Well, okay, you’re listening to a fantastic musical journey through fear, loathing and terror. This is a furious two minutes 26 second roller-coaster ride of a song. You’re launched at full speed until you absolutely must have a break. Then, after being given a brief sonic respite to calm your nerves and ears, you’re launched through the gateway to Hell. Unfortunately there’s someone waiting for you when the ride is over. I get the feeling, though she may be incredibly beautiful, she isn’t a welcome sight. And she’s not alone. But you are.

Turn Your Insides Out
There’s something uneasily familiar about the opening piano introduction to Turn Your Insides Out. It immediately recalled to mind Tubular Bells from The Exorcist. It isn’t, but it triggered the memory of it, and of seeing the film. I remember sitting in a movie theater when The Exorcist was first released. The girls with us were huddling together for safety and hiding their eyes. At a particular moment of sustained perfect silence, I reached around and suddenly grabbed an arm. She screamed as loud as she could, and then every girl in the entire theater screamed as loud as they could. I love it when music does this; triggers a flood of memories, emotions or ideas. The rest of the song screams by under the influence of that memory. Oh, if you’re reading this, I SAID I was sorry. But I had a smile on my face when I said it then, and she didn’t believe me. I’m smiling right now too, remembering the experience again. May Turn Your Insides Out provoke a wonderful strange memory from your own youth.

Ant Invasion
I love the sci-fi classic film, Them! to this day. And so begins Ant Invasion. Much fun is had by the ants as they go on a feeding frenzy on … us! Musically-speaking of course. I recommend running around the room in pretend panic while listening to Ant Invasion, just to get in the spirit of the song. Just watch out for the giant stingers!

Trixion Twist
… is terrific! Pounding drums. Electrifying guitar playing. Sudden stops. Then a short respite from the frenzy of relentless music. Then, it’s back to the jump around in circles and try not to hurt anyone smashing into them music. And then it just stops. Suddenly. If you do too, you’ll probably fall down dizzy. Then you’ll know you got the full measure of enjoyment possible from this wild Trixion Twist.

Psycho Beach Party
“They shall all drown in lakes of blood. Now they will know why they are afraid of the dark. Now they will learn why they fear the night.” So says Thulsa Doom in Conan the Barbarian. So begins Psycho Beach Party. I confess I’ve never seen the film, Psycho Beach Party, which, by the way, I learned has a great surf music soundtrack. Some serious guitar shredding is included for added excitement in this diabolical surf psycho beach party music. Play this at a beach party and don’t be surprised if everyone goes all psycho on each other. Okay, they won’t, but don’t be surprised if everyone has a great time listening to it. This is terrific. Now … Run!

Duck & Cover
If you’re as old as I am, you remember the public service announcements that were shown in motion picture theaters, and broadcast on radio and television, about how to survive a nuclear attack. If you’re still running like I told you, you might be far enough away to survive the blast. If not, you have to duck and cover. Or you could just have a great time listening to this song. Nothing’s really going to happen after all. It’s only just a song, all in your imagination. Really. After listening to the musical version of the end of everything (You didn’t really think duck & cover would actually work, did you?) the sound of the blast wave dissipates and we’re left listening to an eerie melody from a child’s music box as it winds down. If Panic in Year Zero is one of your favorite movies, you’ll understand this song.

I’m having a wonderful time going along for the musical ride through my mind full of memories and images of many wonderful visual moments from my life. Hey, when you grow up watching Chiller Theater every Saturday night for two decades and then build a collection of hundreds of sci-fi and horror films from the fifties and sixties, there’s no way this music is just music. It’s a journey from the inner mind to the outer limits of the twilight zone of the imagination. With a sound-track.

This record is highly anticipated by anyone who’s heard of Kill, Baby… Kill! It exceeds my considerably high expectations. From the amazing opening of Corridor X to the evocative lonely sound of the music box at the end of Duck & Cover, this record is a musical horror sci-fi zombie apocalypse journey through places we can usually only go in movies, or nightmares. The playing is superb, the production is excellent. The music is compelling and exciting. It’s fun, energetic, fast and furious, and imaginative. It sounds wonderful. It touches all the right nerves and provides quite a ride. It far-away transcends the limits of any one sound of surf music by not being limited to or by them.

If I were to be launched by rocket into space, I’d want this playing! If I were fighting hordes of zombies, pod people or triffids, I’d want this playing! And, even if all I just wanted was something that is an awful lot of fun to listen to, I’d want this playing. It isn’t just music for the end of everything as we know it. … or is it?

This is what Kill, Baby… Kill!’s Noah Holt had to say:

Lots of people contributed to the success of Corridor X.

Chad Shivers was very integral to this record. While we had a producer credited on our previous EP, he really only offered moral support and name recognition. Chad came in with a good amount of notes and ideas, all of which were great ideas we wouldn't have thought of on our own. Even more, Chad is a VERY accomplished musician. There is no way I was going to leave that studio without utilizing his abilities on guitar to some extent. It was an honor and a privilege to have him involved.

Chad played any acoustic guitar you hear, including on Hunting for the Dead and Trioxin Twist. He laid down some guitar harmonies, but I cannot remember which tracks specifically. The mellotron was on Meltdown in Sector 9. Lastly, he did part of the piano track on Turn Your Insides Out. However, the intro piano part was our own Chris Eagle.

Sharron Von Hoene did the thereminish vocals on Occupation of the Body Snatchers.

Dan Dixon doubled the thereminish vocal part on Occupation of the Body Snatchers with a synth in order to thicken it up a bit.

Jamie Galatas provided the shredder guitar solo on Psycho Beach Party, and an amazing performance he provides, too!

I say, very, very well done, everyone! I hope you all enjoy Corridor X as much as I do. I think you will.

The Man From RavCon "Skyscraper" CD review

Review by Noel Squitieri, taken from
The Man From RavCon is Mike Brown, formerly lead singer and guitarist for The Ravelers. These days, Mike is making his extraordinary music on his own. And a fine collection of records he’s been producing. Skyscraper is his latest, and perhaps most inventive. Though known for some pretty cool Spaghetti-Western music, The Man From RavCon has also created records that transcend that genre. The Traveler is an exquisite record that weaves marvelous melodies throughout a sentimental journey into the past. Night of the Beast is a soundtrack to an unmade horror film. Which leads me back to Skyscraper.

All the songs are lovely to hear and well-produced and performed. Sometime through my second time playing it, I started to think of Skyscraper as a journey through time and space, to real and imaginary places the music created in my mind’s eye. What triggered this thought was quite suddenly imagining I was in the hot-air balloon pictured in the gorgeous and evocative cover painting by Tyler Strouth. This thought, that I was soaring through a space-scape created by the music I was hearing, changed how I heard the songs. What follows are my reactions to the music in that context, as the music inspires them.

“Balloon” begins the journey. If you’ve ever soared in a hot-air balloon, or maybe even flown slowly in an open-cockpit biplane, the sensations the music recreates are true to a calm flight over breathtaking scenery on a perfect day. At once, soothing and exciting.

But you are high up in the air, unattached to anything solidly planted to the ground. “Cloud Teaser” is a complete change of atmosphere. Now you’re really flying, up, around, down and back up.

I love the music-box effect that begins “Secret Passage”. Ever dream of flying though an unknown mountain pass into an unknown valley? If you ever do, play this song. It will fit the mood and expectations.

Another romantic melody is the centerpiece of “The Spring of Our Content”. Lush and gorgeous, it’s serene, thoughtful, and beautiful. Sentimental. We’re really daydreaming now. I wish it were longer.

From the liner notes, ““Friend” is dedicated to James “Frank” Rick (1965 – 2013). I’ll save you a copy buddy.” The song is melancholy, and yet not sad. It’s like a reminiscence tinged with a fond good-bye. Too many happy memories mixed with a longing for a reunion some place and time this dream-voyage can’t quite go.

“Veni, Vidi, Vici” is Latin for “I came, I saw, I conquered.” Unless you’re a Roman Emperor, it’s also a motto fit for living a full, complete, worthy life; a life facing squarely and not broken by trials and tribulations. I stood and still stand tall, the song declares! It sounds more traditionally like earlier Man From RavCon efforts. It’s a bold melodic song in three parts, one for each theme; arrival, bold exploration, and then confidently facing the day.

“Higher” is a darker, moody song. A bold life is a perilous journey, not for the faint-hearted. But the determined never quit, they keep going on. You never know what’s over the next mountain range if you don't go over it. So you climb higher and higher, until you’ve surpassed the summit. The song is like that. The view from the highest reaches is breath-taking, peaceful. And worth the effort. Always.
“Skycraper”. Ever wanted to soar to the edge of space, to touch the top of the sky, or go beyond it? Look down and see all that is below, that was surpassed and overcome to reach those heights. How would you feel? Victorious, humble, insignificant, proud, awed, reverent? These emotions are conveyed in this song. I have climbed so high and touched the sky. Beyond the sky is space. Do we keep going?

Then comes “The Fugitive”, the title of which implies there may be something unauthorized about this journey to the edge of space. There are moments of grandeur in this song that hint at something more. Then the song becomes urgent, the pace speeds up and the music conveys a sense of threat. Then, a rest before it begins again. Okay, it’s a song, not a screen-play. But drama builds in moments of peacefulness, and events spring as surprises upon the unwatchful and unprepared. Cool song.

The track list includes these nine songs, but there is another on the CD. I leave it up to the reader to discover it. But trust me, it’s worth it. Just might be the coolest song on the entire record. If your player is set to repeat, Balloon will begin as if it’s the end of the last song. Almost as if it was intended that way.

Skyscraper has two meanings. One is the very tall buildings or other objects so high they almost scrape the sky, but the other refers to the person who climbs high enough to reach out and touch the sky.

Skyscraper is a journey of the imagination to wherever yours will lead you. These are my own reactions. You will have your own. I highly recommend you take the flight.

The Man From Ravcon is on Surf Guitar 101 here.
On Facebook here.

The Man From RavCon is at CDBaby here.

Skyscraper is also at Deep Eddy Records here.

The Traveler is also at Double Crown Records here.

The Man From RavCon "Everything Is Golden" CD review

Review by Noel Squitieri, taken from
Mike Brown is The Man From RavCon. Formerly lead singer and guitarist for the Charlotte, North Carolina, rock band The Ravelers, Mike has been writing and recording as The Man From RavCon for many years. His first album, Zombie Pimp Cowboys From Outer Space!, was released in January, 2010. Everything Is Golden, his second record, released in August 2010, is the subject of this review. My review of Skyscraper, the most recent album by The Man From RavCon, is here.
Mike has said his goal is to create music that evokes emotional and visual imagery, something like for a film score to scenes from unmade motion pictures. As such, his music is on the thoughtful and contemplative side, maybe not so much music to dance to at parties. I don’t mean this is “contemplate your navel” music; it isn’t. There’s purpose and intent to each song, as Mike tries to take the listener to the scene he imagines the music accompanies. It helps to be familiar with the film genres Mike has in mind, because the musical languages associated with those films are well represented. But a vivid, visual imagination is handier. This is music to imagine to. Daydreamers are especially welcome.

This not to say all these songs aren’t danceable. “The Furguson” and especially “Flip Flop” have catchy beats and are fun to dance to. Trust me when I say, if something makes me want to dance, it’s definitely fun to dance to. Listen to “Flip Flop” and you’ll know just what I mean.

I’ve been playing Everything Is Golden all day. I’m not bored in the least. There’s a wide variety of listening experiences here. Yet as I listen, I find myself drawn to certain songs. I haven’t started skipping over anything. None of these songs are worth missing, but I anticipate some songs more, almost longing for them to play again. So I think I’ll share my thoughts about those songs that I keep coming back to, the songs that have created the strongest impressions, or make the best daydreams, if you like.

Moonlight Mountain
I live in the mountains of Northeast Pennsylvania. It’s been moon-bright and snow-covered up here this week. Maybe these aren’t the Rockies or Sierras, but this music just fits perfectly with what I see and feel outside, at night under the trees and stars, lit bright by moonlight. I’ll be the first to admit the title, “Moonlight Mountain”, helps me see imagery in the music in a way naming it “Second Song” wouldn’t. Yet, the mood the music creates with its’ beautiful, slightly melancholy melody, fits so well with how I’ve felt outside these past several nights. Slightly too fast-paced to be sad, it’s still lovely.

Listening to this, I find myself strolling along a sunset-lit beach on the Baja coast. I imagine the girl’s name is Atalaya, or alternatively maybe the beach is named Atalaya. And I’m listening to this song playing somewhere in the dark, through the open window of a nearby house of which only the dim light from inside reveals its’ exact location in the growing night. It’s very calm and peaceful, just the way this song makes me feel. What will happen next? I play the song again and again, hoping to make the daydream last until I can create the happy ending I want. But there’s an air of living for just this brief moment in the song that leaves that ending always out of reach. It tells me to enjoy the moment for what it is and not to ask more from it than it can give. So I play the song again.

Flip Flop
Yep! It’s a good old-fashioned instro-dance song. Just go ahead and dance. You’ll be glad you did.

Dead Man’s Cove
The guitar tone draws me in like gold draws a pirate, and the melody keeps me there. Mystery and an old danger compel me to seek what lies unseen ahead. I’ve done this before, explored dark and mysterious places. I find them irresistible. The song ends before I find what I’m looking for, so I keep going, searching…

Beyond The Dunes
That guitar tone again. The melody is darker, more foreboding. I’ve got to keep going. Turning back isn’t an option. There’s only what’s ahead, for good fortune or bad.
Mosie. So simple. So lovely. Such a lilting melody. Romantic, happy, charming, sweet. Peaceful. This song brings a smile to my face every time I hear it.

Once Upon A Time In The West
I’ve seen the movie. You’ve seen the movie. Which scenes will you see when you hear this wonderful version? I see Jason Robards saying goodbye to Claudia Cardinale, I see Henry Fonda’s shocking cold blue eyes framed under his black hat, I see the closing of the West as the railroad is completed, represented by the famous tracking shot of the hundreds and hundreds of railroad workers busily uniting the halves of a nation.

There are no throw-away songs on this album. I hope you give Everything Is Golden a fair listen, away from noise, distractions and deadlines, somewhere and sometime when you can just sit and listen, and let the songs take you wherever they and your imagination will you to go. I believe you’ll really enjoy the experience.

Everything Is Golden
My favorite song on the album. A perfect evening on the beach at sunset. Lapping waves and some shore birds softly heard just over there. All is calm, all is at peace. All is well. The melody is beautiful, the orchestration is exquisite, even delicate, the performance is perfect. I’m in a wonderful mood in a wonderful place. Nothing can be better than right here, right now, and I want to stay here forever. The sun sets to the sound of lapping waves and some shore birds softly heard just over there. Everything IS golden.

The Man From Ravcon is on Surf Guitar 101 here.

On Facebook here.

The Man From RavCon is at CDBaby here.

The Man From Ravcon is available at Deep Eddy Records here.

Everything is Golden is also available here.

Crazy Aces "Greatest Hits Volume 2" CD review

Review by Noel Squitieri, taken from
What do a group of successful Nashville sidemen do after performing, recording and touring for over twenty years with some of the biggest names in country, pop and rock music? Yep! Form a surf band to play surf music in Nashville, and then make a surf record.

My interview with Crazy Aces is here in which Jeff Senn discusses their musical backgrounds, inspirations, musical influences, gear and more. Again I want to thank Jeff Senn and Crazy Aces for enthusiastically giving me a peak inside their band. I appreciate it.

There are thirteen tracks on the CD. The first and last tracks are under a minute each and act as bookends to the CD. The first sets the stage. The first thing heard is the sound of a needle dropping on a scratchy record, and the sound is old – like a worn-out record. “Are these the sounds of days that are past, or do we record a new dimension of history?” we are asked after hearing a great piece of vintage-sounding spy called Chainsaw Dance.

Then Invasion of Malibu plays; a fun 1’st Wave kind of tune that wouldn’t be out of place on any record made back in the ‘60s. Catchy melody for sure. They all have catchy melodies. Right off the bat I have to say I’ve missed bongos. There aren’t enough bongos in surf music. This CD uses bongos to great effect, and I love that. Jedd’s Sled shows just how much fun bongos are and how well they fit surf music. A favorite is Eastwood Outlaw, spot-on whistling and all. It hits all the right musical cues.

An impression forms as the tunes unfold during the record. They form on a kind of musical journey through various forms of surf-instro music. Attention Shoppers reminds me so much of those fun Ventures covers of favorite standards and novelty tunes they were so fond of recording. If you’ve listened to their Never on Sunday you’ll understand. The record pivots with Arigato Terauchi, which he could have recorded and performed himself. After that an edgier and rock-ier sound takes over with Hippy Trip. Makes me almost want to head-bang. Fun stuff. There’s more later, but one of those wonderful sound poem surf tunes comes next, The Last Song. That sensitive and gorgeous acoustic rhythm guitar is played by Steve Wariner. This is one of those tunes that you play at the end of a perfect day on the beach, after the last wave is surfed and the bonfire has turned to warm glowing embers. How that feels is how this tune feels.

Theme From Crazy Aces follows. More hard-rocking surf-instro. Driving bass and drums, dirty guitar tones and all. Boogie Bored isn’t boring. It has a memorable melody phrase that ties it together along with some great guitar playing. Did I mention all the guitar-playing on this record is terrific, as is all the musicianship? It is. Killer good. Lots of love has already been expressed for Bangers, and it’s well-deserved. It’s a roller-coaster ride of hard-driving surf, rapid-fire rhythm changes and hard drumming.

Winston Churchill’s “finest hour” quote introduces the Return of Chainsaw Dance, which ends with the sound of an old record scratching to the empty last groove. So what to say in conclusion about a record like this? I was going to write something about how this record makes me think of what would have happened if some of the Wrecking Crew had formed their own surf band and recorded and performed under their own name.

Then Jeff told me this, “I hope you enjoy the record as a listen or guitar playing inspiration. That's the real, main goal of the whole Crazy Aces thing. To create music that's just plain fun to listen to, no commitment from the listener, no proving ground for our musical skills, just memorable melodies and fun music. When I quit playing on the road I knew I'd want to keep playing, of course, but after being in the serious, demanding side of the music business for years I finally had the chance to do whatever I wanted, for my own gratification and this band, this music, was my answer to myself.”

This CD is all that. Mission accomplished.

One last comment. The guitars used on many tracks on this record were guitars any one of us could afford to buy. Many Teiscos and even a 1964 Harmony Stratotone. I quit learning guitar as a kid because my own Harmony, a 1963 high-action jazzbox with razor-sharp bridge cables for strings was just no fun to play. I wonder what would have happened if I’d selected a Stratotone instead? I was floored when I saw the list of instruments Crazy Aces use. So all you closet Teisco and Harmony collectors out there? Time to come bring those guitars out into the open. These old guitars sound great!

Contact the Crazy Aces at:

Purchase Crazy Aces CDs at:

And the Crazy Aces can be found here:

Cutback "Surfers Journey" CD review

Review by Noel Squitieri, taken from
The subtitle to “Surfers Journey” is “a musicultural experience”, and the listener experiences it right away. The first song, “Intro”, is narrated in a traditional Hawaiian style called “talking story”. “We are surfer.” the narrator, bassist Nicky Ravine, explains. “We explore the ever-changing boundary between land and water.” In their monthly live shows at the Molokai Bar at Ft. Lauderdale’s Mai-Kai restaurant, Cutback use talking stories to lead their audiences through their music, to understand where it comes from, and what it’s about. Not song lyrics, consider them song notes. The talking story of “Intro” explains a surfer’s world-view while the sounds of crashing surf are heard over lovely Tiki-inspired percussion and a gently blowing breeze of bass and guitar. I can almost smell the ocean and see the surf while listening. So compelling is the illusion, I was convinced the track included the sounds of shorebirds, but it doesn’t. The album already had me under its sway.

There are no more talking stories accompanying the other tracks until the last one, fittingly titled, “Outro”. But all the songs are accompanied by their own descriptive subtitles, which provide a hint of explanation. I’ve included them here. Sometime, I’d like to hear the real talking stories about each song.

Surf Fever
There’s only one cure.
The surf must have big when this song was inspired. This is a fast-paced wild ride of a song. It’s got a beat that makes me want to jump up and dance. This is surf music! Make that SURF MUSIC! Call it modern traditional surf music, if it has to be called anything. Lots of feel-good energy. There is a vocal of sorts, more of a vocalization, of the fearful excitement of a surfer falling a long way down off a board head-first into the heavy foam far below. That sound. Fun stuff, the song, not wiping out like that. Have you caught Surf Fever?

New Dawn
Across the faint horizon…
One of my musical fantasies is a surf concept album that starts with a new dawn rising slowly over the ocean’s horizon. This beautiful song could be that opening song, with its romantic guitars, swaying Latin rhythm, and a lovely melody that lingers like the scent of the sea on a gentle breeze. Tranquil. Beautiful. Evocative. Spiritual. Then the sun suddenly breaks over the horizon of the ocean. And it’s a glorious sunrise, fiery and luminous, full of life. But as the sunrise continues, as above a real shore, the startling brilliance fades into the growing overall light, and the original mood returns. I keep playing this song over and over. I want to learn this song. I want to play “New Dawn” on the ocean shore at sunrise. This song is wonderful, full of wonder at the scene it lovingly portrays.

The Liquidator
Surf vs. Spy.
If you think you’ve heard “The Liquidator” before, you probably have, but not like this. Written by Lalo Schfrin, it’s the title song for the 1965 spy thriller of the same name, and is sung by Shirley Bassey. Rather than do a straight instrumental cover, the song is reinvented by Cutback, and their version is spectacular! Through the opening avalanche of drums, the catchy Latin rhythm, period-perfect sound and feel of the guitars, killer bass, and yet more amazing drums, I can see it all now. The dimly lit clubs, the regulars, the out-of-placers, the booze, the cigarette smoke, the villains, the girls, the danger. This song catches the mood so completely I can almost touch the… scenery. Those were the days, and I want to go!

Tubo Mexicana
The tubes of Playa Zicatela.
Located in Puerto Escondido, Mexico, Playa Zicatela, known for big surf that resembles the famous Pipeline, is a place where large swells break into long hollow tubes. It’s the site of Mexican and World Masters Surfing Championships. The song has a rolling, swooping feel that conveys what it must be like to surf down the big wave into those tubes, if you can get there, and stay inside the tunnel of roaring water. Hypnotic. If you can do it right, you want to do it again.

Waanaleia Bay
The most beautiful bay on Earth.
I was initially surprised by this song. I expected a piece of tranquil music like “New Dawn”. But this is a fairly fast dance song. I guess the surf’s up here, and it must be pretty decent surf - not too big, not too fast, but also not low and slow. The sound and feel of the song tells of a surf spot that is just right for a decent surfer looking for a great day with plenty of wonderful rides. It must be a lovely place, for the melody is. It must be the sort of spot where friends stay long after the last ride, to eat, play music, and dance long into the night, to songs like “Waanaleia Bay”.

Witches Rock
Deep in the jungle of Costa Rica.
Hear the birds and animals? Their sounds populate this lively song. Relates Frank Ferraro, “The jungle sound effects (SFX) were actually recorded live by guitarist Rich LaVoir during his travels to Central America. Richard is a sound engineer by education and loves to record ambient sounds of nature during his travels.” This is one rockin’ four-plus minutes of surf music. Most surfers go to Costa Rica for the surfing, which is very good. But the song recommends taking a day off to go on a jungle tour. You’ll be glad you did.

151 Rum Swizzle
Under the influence of the Mai-Kai Molokai.
Two minutes and thirty-two seconds of, well, let’s just say that if you’re the sort of person who drives under the influence of music, don’t listen and drive. But if you like to get up and jump crazily around – you know who you are - under the influence of a clever, driving beat and catchy, wild, fuzzed-out melody, go for it. You won’t care who’s watching. Just do it! You can always blame it on the song. As for that tasty concoction the song’s named after… well, you can blame it on that, too. Just don’t surf and drive.

If you can surf here, you can surf anywhere.
Another song that caught me by surprise. I had some trouble linking the subtitle to the song, which by the way is cheery and uplifting. So I asked Frank Ferraro about it. Turns out Cutback wanted to show the Atlantic Ocean some surf love. The Pacific Ocean gets all the fame and glory from California and Hawaii to Australia, and all the surf songs. Yet, Frank tells me, “The East Coast of the United States, and in particular Florida, has produced more world class surfing champions and Pipeline Masters than any other region of the world.” That’s impressive! Must be something in the water. “Atlantico” represents the good old unappreciated Atlantic Ocean just fine.

Secret Spot
Everybody’s got one.
This song swings! It’s got a real swingin’ beat that makes me want to grab a girl and cut a rug. If there’s a place where the surf is like this, it must be something special. There must be secret spots up and down the coasts, known only a few locals, where the surf is great and no one else goes. But don’t tell anyone else, or everyone will show up. Let’s keep this spot just between us, okay? But please tell everyone about the song. It’s fantastic!

A musical journey.
Okay. Where does a wave take a surfer? The thing about surfing is, it seems like it’s just a short, wet, exciting ride back to where you started. The shore. But the thing about surfing is that no two rides are identical, therefore each experience is new, different. No matter how many times you catch a wave in the same spot, it’s never the same wave. Though a wave may have travelled thousands of miles, suddenly, in an instant, it’s gone… Each wave presents a new experience, another opportunity to learn something new. We change with each experience. What did we learn? In what way are we new? Surfers will end up at day’s end back on the shore, often on the same beach that began their day. But they surfed, therefore they changed, therefore they lived. That’s quite a trip!

Shark Pit
Somewhere on the Treasure Coast.
“Shark Pit” is such a visually strong title. I see a deep underwater hole teaming with marine life, and hungry sharks. Somewhere on the Treasure Coast? Where sunken ships are hidden in the shark pit, laden with gold and silver. Want to go treasure hunting there? You gotta swim with the sharks, if you can find it first. Maybe it’s the whizzing, swishing sound that keeps being repeated and repeated, but the song seems to imply a spear-gun might come in handy. Just another nice day in the water! Maybe it’s better to surf inside?

Follow the coast and find your love.
Like to dance? This’ll get you up on your feet. So much fun in under three minutes. Just dance yourself happy and you’ll find your love, the song seems to be saying. Who am I to argue? This song give me grins as long as it’s playing. I feel happier just listening to it. I think you will, too.

Spanish House
Somewhere near Shark Pit.
A place of romance, mystery, intrigue. Is anyone here whom they seem? Are you? It’s a place to go to forget your past, and maybe meet your destiny, if not exactly your future. Inside Spanish House, the outside doesn’t exist at all. Forget your cares, as long as they don’t walk through the door. Just don’t let down your guard, no matter how relaxed you may feel. Dance a Tango. You must. The rhythm of the song won’t let you go. It captures you like piercing dark eyes framed by long jet-black hair, then captivates, lingers, like a perfect memory, always. You’ll smile a melancholy smile, later. The memory is something you can’t forget.

The Aloha Stomp
The new Surfer’s Stomp.
After a day of great surfing with good friends, and the obligatory cookout, what could possibly make the day even better? Crank up the stereo! It’s dancing on the beach party time! This foot-tapping romp is one terrific dance song. It’s got the beat, the speed, the catchy melody. All you need is your friends and this song. Then just dance the night away. And, while you’re at the Mai-Kai, enjoy their newest concoction inspired by this song, The Aloha Stomp.

Conan The Surfarian
For Da Bull.
Greg Noll. Da Bull. So nicknamed long ago because of the way Greg planted himself on those big guns he invented, and charged down the huge waves he rode. Almost a Sumo wrestler’s stance. He looked like he was daring the surf to knock him off his board. If anyone has earned the right to be called the Conan of Surf, it’s Greg Noll. Conan the Surfarian, indeed! It’s the perfect song to watch films of Greg surfing those big waves at Waimea Bay. I know. I looked up a few film clips and played them while listening to “Conan The Surfarian”. Try it yourself. Can you surf with Da Bull?

Inhale… exhale… evolve.
The day is over. The last wave ridden. The sun has set. The fire has died down to softly glowing embers, and then, finally… out. People are quiet now, the loud talk and laughter silenced by the peaceful night and the clear sky so full of stars. Do you remember the very first time you ever saw the Milky Way on a dark night? I mean, did you see it on a perfectly clear night without any lights at all, even the moon, to spoil the darkness? From horizon to horizon, did you see nothing but the pitch black sky so wondrously full of stars? Did you ever do that after a day spent surfing? It’s time to reflect, listen to the waves. Maybe someone is off, quietly playing a guitar. What did you learn today? The talking story begins. “Explore. Encounter. Envision… “ You’re not exactly who you were when the day began. No one can ride the waves as intimately as a surfer without being changed by the experience. You change because you surf. It’s hard not to.

My musical bonding with “Surfers Journey” started with the beginning of “Intro” and strengthened with each song. What I wrote about “Surf Fever” is, I believe, true for the whole album. I think “Surfers Journey” by Cutback is a modern classic surf record. The sound and feel is just right there. The music mostly stays on the beach or in the water. Or else is about experiences familiar to surfers, especially those who chase the summer to far-off places where the great surf is. You paddle out to this music, sit waiting for good waves that always seem to come when you’re ready, and catch a great ride. And you do it again and again, until the day is done and you’re ready to relax with friends, reveling in the weather, the water, the rides, the joy of everything, the companionship. I think that’s important. Companionship. The music on “Surfers Journey” suits friends who surf together. It has a, “Hey everybody, surf’s up! Let’s all go surfin’!” sound and feel. I like “Surfers Journey”. I like it a lot.

Cutback are:
Rich LaVoir – Guitar and Special Effects
Frank Ferraro – Guitar and Thereminator
Nicky Ravine – Bass and Narrative
Elliot Crawford – Drums and Percussion

All songs by Cutback, except The Liquidator, which is written by Lalo Schifrin and Peter Callander.

Art by Nicky Ravine
SFX by Rich LaVoir

Cutback are at and on Facebook at

“Surfers Journey” will soon be available from Deep Eddy Records and cdbaby.

Crazy Aces "Surfadelic Spy-a-Go-Go" CD review

Review by Noel Squitieri, taken from
What do you do if you’re a quartet of Nashville Cats who like to play music for the sheer fun of it? You might just play more country music. It sometimes seems like it’s what everyone does in Nashville. But what if you want to create and play something else, something completely different, just for the sheer pleasure of playing joyful, catchy, fun music? You might be a Crazy Ace. And what if you wanted to make a record that conveyed the fun you have playing the music you create and perform? You might record Surfadelic Spy-a-Go-Go by Crazy Aces. So they did!

Surfadelic Spy-a-Go-Go is the follow-up to their first record, Crazy Aces - Greatest Hits Volume 2. Recorded in a home studio, it replaces the Hi-Fi sound of their first record with something aiming to recreate their live sound while, according to Jeff Senn, also “… hinting strongly toward some classic first wave Surf, ‘60’s Abbey Road, classic psychedelia, and Go-Go sounds.” So… what’s it all sound like?

Thrown Away
I don’t know what was thrown away, but I’m glad this song wasn’t it. It’s got what is almost becoming a signature Crazy Aces sound - a series of distinct short melodic phrases with a variety of catchy beats and orchestrations that repeat until it suddenly ends with a humorous phrase that caught me by surprise the first time, and for which I waited with anticipation on subsequent listens. This is fun music for the sake of being fun music. It is fun, and I like it.

This is one of my favorite songs on the record. It reminds me of sixty’s British television spy programs like The Prisoner and The Avengers for some reason. I always like anything that reminds me of those wonderful series. It could be music from an unaired episode of either of those series or a theme song for a pilot of an unproduced program. In my opinion, Kiko is pretty bella.

Big Dog
This starts out as one of the most traditional surf songs on the record, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. The song has swagger and a great beat to go with the fantastic tone of the lead guitar. The melody is something that could be spaghetti, but other elements turn the overall effect into something else entirely, something modern - car-chase, not horse-chase, and that tone at the end straight out of The Outer Limits isn’t remotely Nineteenth Century. Very, very cool!

Rain For Sunday
This is probably going to become my favorite song on the entire record. I like it that much. And it’s that good. I’m just a sucker for a lovely melody and the song’s exotic elements that recall island getaways. The song creates a vivid image of a small cottage on a deserted beach, rain quietly falling so we stay inside and dance to the sound of the rain falling on the roof and palm trees outside. A perfect song for a perfect evening in a perfect location. Very romantic. Perfect.

Temple of Cool
It is, you know! It’s got an ultra-cool groove on that is foot-stompin’ jumpin’ ‘round the room infectious like anything and more than most. Plus it has a wonderful, deep tremolo going for it that just adds to the cool factor. I like tremolo. It isn’t used here for everything, so when it comes back with the chorus, it’s welcome and not tiresome. This is a song that makes me want to dance to it, or just jump around a lot to the beat and hope I don’t knock something over. Cool!

Millions in Prizes
Kaleidoscopes on the TV screen, fast in-out zooms, swirling images, Pop-art graphics and pop-up comedians saying very silly things, Go-Go girls, Mod-fashioned folks decorated with giant paisleys in bright colors. Girls with short hair and shiny vinyl micro-mini skirts. Boys with long hair and shirts with oversize collars. This might be the most fun on the record. Just go ahead and sock it to me!

Holy Batman! Bang! Zoom! Crunch! Where’s Robin? Waiting in the Batmobile of course. And right in the middle of music that sounds like it could be from that iconic TV series comes an interlude that momentarily suggests New York after dark above 96th Street, in the rain, with only a dim streetlight in the distance to show the way. Who’s that in the shadows? Funny you should ask?

Happy Shadow
I love The Shadows. There’s something about their music that was the beautiful calm before the storm. But this is The Shadows on Crazy Aces. There are lots of touches that make sure this song doesn’t just copy the mood and style of the originals. It feels different, maybe more frenetic and garage band-like. In a good way. No one’s crying for this Shadow.

Agent Yellow Jacket
Cheese it – it’s the Fuzz! Lots of attitude and bravado mixed with a swinging vibe of funky, slinky, edgy, driving beat. This song just rips into cheap detectives driving beat-up cars and cheaper girls going along for the ride. Is anyone in this story the good guy? Is the victim simply the slowest bad guy? You got to have a lot of confidence to play this game, and a lot of skill to play this song. Want to dance to it? Do the boogaloo!

Busted & Broken
My second favorite song on this album by the bulge of a worn out fighter’s nose. If there’s a genuine noir song on this album, this is it. The melody is right out of dimly lit bars with cheap whisky, bad days and worse nights, desperate women with nothing to lose, down on their luck men who’ve already used up their last chance. This is not the place to look for salvation, a fair shake, or even sympathy. This is the dead end of life and you’re busted and broken. This song is fantastic! I want to watch any movie that has the nerve to use this as its theme song. It’s that terrific!

The Long Ride
This is a lovely song. It’s a gentle, lilting spaghetti-western with a touch of humor that shows great fondness for its subject. The melody is beautiful and romantic, and the rhythm, well if you’ve ever ridden a horse slightly faster than a walk, you’ll recognize it. Horses can cover ground at this speed for long periods without tiring, and it’s easy on the riders, too. This song is a perfect way to end the record, riding off into the sunset.

Surfadelic Spy-a-Go-Go by Crazy Aces is a very worthy successor to their debut release. It’s different-sounding while being true to their sound and feel. The material is fresh and unexpected, yet who else but Crazy Aces would have made this record?

I’ve enjoyed every minute of listening to this record over and over for hours while writing this review. There’s so much variety, I never once got bored or tired of it. I can’t wait to just play it and be surprised all over again by how much fun it is to listen to.

Crazy Aces (on this recording) are:
Jeff Senn, Guitars and Keys
Tom Hoey, Drums and Percussion
Justin “Oscar” Cary, Electric and Acoustic Bass
Kiwuamu Stewart, Guitars

Surfadelic Spy-a-Go-Go
Produced and Engineered by Jeff Senn and Crazy Aces
Mixed by Jeff Senn
Mastering by Alex McCollough at Yes Master, Nashville, TN
Graphic Design by Glen Hannah at StudioGoongah, Australia
Back cover and inside photos by Alex McCollough

The following gear was used to record Surfadelic Spy-a-Go-Go, and while they don't make up for all the time and talent that went into making this record, they did contribute significantly to the sound and feel.

1959 Guyatone LG-50
1966 Harmony Rocket
A handful of mid-‘60’s Teiscos
Rickenbacker 325 and 330
1953 Gibson CF-100
1972 Mosrite Mark I
Reisssue 1962 Epiphone Sorrento

Rickenbacker 4001
1966 Teisco Decca
Epiphone Rivoli
Eastwood Sidejack VI
Upright Bass

1973 Princeton Reverb
1966 Princeton Reverb
1960 Supro small single 6V6 with 8-inch speaker
Supro 1624T
1953 Fender 5C3 Deluxe

Crazy Aces are on
Surfguitar101 as CrazyAces
On Facebook at
Email Crazy Aces at

For Ace, who is the best dog I never met.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Highlights from Southern Surf Stomp! on 12/12/15

The Home Alones

Kevin McCallister (Jerod McBrayer)
Kevin McCallister (Oscar Velez)
Kevin McCallister (Sonny Harding)
The One and Only Bill Davis
Bill and his lovely wife Melanie

Playing songs from his "An Omnichord X-mas" album

Chad Shivers & the Silent Knights (L to R: Mike Mullen, Nick Bazemore, Sean Zearfoss)

rhythm section (Matt Steadman on bass)
A rare photo of yours truly singing
Nick and myself playing some Ventures and having some fun