By CHRIS ZIEGLER
Published on September 29, 2009 at 5:51pm
It Came From the Garage
Former Cramp and Bad Seed Kid Congo Powers steps out of the shadows and into the raw-rock revival
Kansas is the state that helped make Billy the Kid great, and on this night, it’s happy to make Kid Congo Powers happy. His newest album finished not 180 minutes ago in a recently un-abandoned high-school gymnasium-turned-recording studio in the speck-on-a-map town of Harveyville, where one of the great unreconstructed rock & roll guitarists of the past gnawed-raw hunk of the century can step into a classroom for probably the first time in 30 years and confidently explain over the phone just what the next best thing to dancing is. Which is fucking. And the next best after that is screaming. From those three points, you can triangulate the formidable discography of Kid Congo Powers, the kid from La Puente who did it all—or at least smiled widely as it happened right next to him.
He was a founding member of the Gun Club, but left as they were still playing to a handful of friends and girlfriends to join the Cramps. Lux and Ivy gave him the name Congo Powers after examining a magic hoodoo candle (of course). And after that, he was sidemanning Nick Cave in Berlin right after the wall toppled, and tangent in between were Lydia Lunch and Michael Gira and Ian Svenonius and Wim Wenders and on and on. Only recently for the first time—or, at least, most committed time—has he stepped out from the side of the stage to lead his very own band, the Pink Monkey Birds, who flapped down out of the deep Kansas sky to record their third and newest bent-soul album.
But he’s already thinking about what to do next. Part of that is endearing nervousness. “I always think, ‘This is the last time anyone’s gonna let me make a record!’” he says with a laugh. “I think, ‘Now I’m really done!’”
And the rest is what he says is inborn wanderlust, throbbing unfulfilled since teenage days when he first made friends with Gun Club’s Jeffrey Lee Pierce by talking about the places they wished they could be instead. Ever since, he has tramped with guitar in hand from band to city to band. Ramblin’ on my mind, as a certain man once sang.
“I’ve cursed it, but I’m more blessed by it, I think. It keeps things all new for me. If I had any illusions of MAKING IT BIG,” Powers says, dropping his voice a hyperbolic octave, “I think I lost them a long, long time go. I was happy to do what I set out to do: explore new things, and make music that is different than other types of music, and say things in a different way, and see things in a different way. So that way, I feel a grand success!
“And,” he adds sotto voce, “right now, I’m enjoying quite some popularity!”
And he is—palanquinned atop this new garage revival with albums that snarl and shuffle like late-night sessions at Memphis’ Ardent studios, where anything got to make tape as long as someone mopped up the mess before the sun rose. This year’s Dracula Boots (on lately unstoppable label In the Red) casts Powers as more narrator than singer, with gravitas like Vincent Price’s and charisma like Iggy Pop’s over songs that stew classic garage and soul until they’re just the rich smell of meat and floating bones. (A cover of Thee Midniters’ “I Found a Peanut” unlocks some inspirations.) While bands such as Black Lips cover the similarly iconic Fred Cole, Powers is himself out there at the same festivals, peeling out sly and wild rock & roll all his own.
And though he’s a man who “has lived everywhere and learned you can be anything everywhere,” he maintains a long list of fantasies. Recording an album in a creped-up high-school gymnasium was a “particularly long-suffering one,” he says, itself throbbing unfulfilled since prepubescent days when sisters would go out giggling to high-school dances where thee actual Midniters were playing and Baby Congo Powers had to stay home and wonder. But now that’s off the list, so what’s next?
“Wow!” says Powers. “Jeez! Lord! Lord almighty! A good night’s rest—now that’s a fantasy!”
re: deleted post-- i woke up today and found that i had changed my mind back the other way again. and since i will almost certainly do at least another 180 before i go to bed tonight, i decided i better just drop the whole fucking thing. rapid cycling bipolar disorder is a harsh mistress. as far as the album itself goes, here is a different review of BMFBP. actually, it isn't really a review, it's a product description from overstock dot com. and i aint sayin nothing else. except that that guy was an asshole, and if I could remember his name I'd tell him so.
BAD MUSIC FOR BAD PEOPLE is a compilation of songs from the first two Cramps albums--SONGS THE LORD TAUGHT US and PSYCHEDELIC JUNGLE--as well as some tracks from concurrent singles. It consists of five originals and six impeccably chosen covers, and it demonstrates everything that made the Cramps such a brilliant band. Their grasp of early rock & roll is second to none and the guitar playing of Poison Ivy, Brian Gregory, and Kid Congo Powers provides the perfect background for Lux Interior`s vocal swaggering.
Among the standouts from this collection of classics are the positively inspiring "New Kind of Kick," the obnoxiously entertaining "She Said," and the seriously un-PC "Drug Train." The first is a sneering, sleaze-ride through a forest of heavily distorted guitars and pounding percussion. On the second, Nick Knox`s drumming pummels along while Interior sings lyrics best heard for yourself (oddly enough, the song is a cover!) with his mouth full of cotton wool. And "Drug Train" features clapping, call-and-response vocals, and a guitar line designed especially for air guitarists the world over. Listening to the Cramps, it is possible to imagine why our parent`s parents thought rock & roll was a dangerous influence.
By Paul Morgan | Kalamazoo Gazette
October 04, 2009, 9:00AM
Dr. Rick Ganzi, of Holland, is an avid marathoner who had a problem when he first started running the grueling 26-mile races 15 years ago.
The 46-year-old had a problem with muscle cramps.
“In my first 10 marathons, I had five or six of them that were destroyed by muscle cramps,” he said. “I would feel good after about 20 miles, but then something would cramp, usually my calf, and I would have to stop and stretch before I could continue and then my time would be destroyed.
“It got so bad that I almost gave up marathon running.”
Then a bodybuilding friend told him that many of the competitors would eat pickles to help them from losing sodium and cramping up. Ganzi also likes to tell people about a National Football League game about 10 years ago between Philadelphia and Dallas that was won by the Eagles on an extremely hot day. Philadelphia didn’t cramp up as much as Dallas because the Eagles drank several ounces of pickle juice for several days before the game.
“So I started drinking pickle juice before a marathon,” he said. “I didn’t cramp up and I had my best time ever.”
After drinking the juice for several years, he thought that maybe it wasn’t the juice that was keeping him from cramping, so he didn’t drink it prior to a race, “and I cramped up, so that told me there was something to the pickle juice that was helping me out,” Ganzi said.
“The juice is a niche market for athletes who do an event for several hours. It has a limited role, to help people who run marathons, ultra-marathons (50-mile-plus events) and Ironman triathlons. It’s not for the everyday person who works out for an hour or so.”
When he helped start the Grand Rapids Marathon in 2004, Ganzi found a sponsor in Golden Pickle Juice of Golden, Texas.
Ganzi has looked at data about marathon runners who lose a lot of sodium after a race.
“There was one study that enrolled runners in the Boston Marathon, and what they found was that 15 percent had low sodium levels when they crossed the finish line and some of them were life-threateningly low,” he said. “It’s called hyponatremia.”
One problem with pickle juice is that some people hate the taste. Several races have gone to a better-tasting broth with a strong concentration of sodium to help runners.
Ganzi now swears by the juice. He recently completed the 56-mile Comrades Marathon in South Africa without having muscle cramps.
“In a race like that, a runner can lose 20-to-25 grams of sodium, which is around 20 percent of your body’s sodium,” he said.