AH, MAN: A career-spanning conversation with JACK ROSE by Brian Rademaekers (from Arthur No. 33)

As published in Arthur No. 33 (Jan 2013)

AH, MAN
A career-spanning conversation with JACK ROSE, American musician, recorded just a few months before he died in 2009
By Brian Rademaekers

When I started covering music in Philadelphia in 2007, my beat—the city’s crumbling post-industrial river wards—felt like a veritable nexus of weird folk and psychedelic experimentation. The Espers clan and their compound, Fern Knight, Fursaxa, and heavy-hitters like Bardo Pond were all there, churning out a storm of beautiful, strange music that seemed in part a product of the ancient, twisted alleyways of Fishtown and Kensington.

Here, Jack Rose was the benevolent, unassuming King—a master set apart from his peers by a massive presence and an indomitable, mystical talent that elevated him from mere musician to magician. He was a dark alchemist, transforming calloused flesh, polished wood and taut steel into the intoxicating, intricate worlds of sound that were his music. Not that Jack — Jack the giant, hulking Virginian — would ever presume to wear a crown; it was just something that he brought into the room with him, disarming all with a humble warmth offset by a blunt, caustic confidence that he wielded like a knife at just the right moments. These days, most of the musicians from that scene are gone from the neighborhood, though none as gone as Jack.

When I first heard Jack’s 2005 album Kensington Blues, I was thunderstruck, lost in awe that such a masterpiece not only existed, but that it was made in my time, by a man whose elbows polished the same bar counters as mine. Listening to Jack’s recordings was great [see sidebar for a complete discography] but best of all was seeing Jack live, spreading his gospel in church halls or little clubs or living rooms and, finally, along the banks of the Delaware River for a summer concert series shortly before he died.

Watching him amble up to his chair with guitar in hand signaled the start of near-religious experience. He would hunch over the instrument, cock his head to the side and, with closed eyes, unleash wild syncopated layers of rhythms, leaving listeners rapt in a sort of devastated trance. Here was this giant bearded man suddenly becoming seamlessly enmeshed in his guitar to create these idiosyncratic spells that were at once as delicate as flowers and as forceful as hurricanes. Seeing that miracle in the flesh, there was nothing else like it in the world. For me, it was like being a jazz freak in the ’40s and living down the street from Charlie Parker.

So began a years-long obsession. I felt compelled to document this genius quietly living in our midst. And Jack obliged. It never seemed to bother him that some reporter from a little local paper was always pestering him, asking for details about a show or politely begging for an advance copy of a record. In that way, Jack betrayed the appearance of a dominating, cocksure master and revealed a man with a very big heart.

My pretext for interviewing Jack in the summer of 2009 was his forthcoming long-player on Thrill Jockey, Luck in the Valley. Jack was elated. He and his wife, Laurie, had just bought a tidy little brick rowhouse a few blocks from the city’s blasted Port Richmond waterfront. He bragged about his new car, a Honda that he loved for its efficiency in carrying his guitars from gig to gig. He raved about a pizza joint he’d found down the street, about how quiet his block was. To him, the Thrill Jockey release was the milestone he’d been awaiting, a culmination of years of hard work and mastery that meant he could finally say he was making good bread on the merit of his music.

For three hours, he let me follow him around the house, tape recorder in tow, as he smoked and poured tea and pulled LPs from his wall of records. He was a man satisfied, a musician reveling in the feeling that his art was finally about to find the place in the world that it deserved.

When Jack died a few months later, I groped through the shock, looking for some way to respond to the ugly, gaping hole that had so suddenly appeared, and decided on transcribing the whole of our conversation from that summer day on Ontario Street. That tape is presented here, and captures Jack in a bright mood at the peak of his career, ruminating on everything from his first lessons to his labor on “Kensington Blues” to the joy of landing the Thrill Jockey deal.
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DO YOUR PART TO OVERFLOW THE ARTHUR COFFERS

Arthur Magazine’s “Thoughtless Grin” downloadable mixtape for $3 is a collection of songs from recent releases that we’ve been digging lately, featuring Tuareg rocker Bombino, melodic psych fella The Gap Dream off his Burger Records debut, a great number from last issue’s cover stars MV and EE, grizzlymen Endless Boogie, a sweet subtle one from Devendra, an opening rush of picked guitar by Daniel Bachman, a gorgeous sad number by Sonny and the Sunsets, top-shelf kosmiche from Herbcraft, California psych rock n roll from Feeding People, stately outro from Arbourteum and a proper lift-off from Radar Brothers. People, this thing has been sequenced with care for your sensitive mind/ear. As an added bonus, each download comes with extended liner notes by long-lost Arthur “music critics”/village fools C and D, and a large-size image file of the cover artwork by Lale Westvind. $3!?! Come on! Buy it here.

LONG-LOST ARTHUR “CRITICS” C & D RETURN TO CONFRONT ARTHUR’S NEW “THOUGHTLESS GRIN” MIXTAPE

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Good news!

“Thoughtless Grin”, a collection of songs from recent releases that we’ve been digging lately, sequenced with care for the sensitive mind/ear, is now available direct from Arthur to you as a $3 digital download. Affordable! (Push the BUY NOW button below. A link containing the “Thoughtless Grin” zip file will be emailed to you upon payment.)

Buy Now

A few of the artists on “Thoughtless Grin” are featured in the latest issue of Arthur, so this mixtape is a cheap and sleazy way to get to know ’em better.

Songs featured in the mix:
1. DANIEL BACHMAN – “Sun Over Old Rag”
2. FEEDING PEOPLE – “Other Side”
3. ENDLESS BOOGIE – “Taking Out the Trash”
4. BOMBINO – “Aman”
5. RADAR BROTHERS – “Disappearer”
6. GAP DREAM – “58th St. Fingers”
7. SONNY & THE SUNSETS – “Pretend You Love Me”
8. DEVENDRA BANHART – “Won’t You Come Home”
9. MV & EE – “Turbine”
10. HERBCRAFT – “Full Circle (Eternally)”
11. ARBOURETUM – “Coming Out of the Fog”

All proceeds help Arthur Magazine to resist those nefarious and persistent economic pressures we all face.

As an added bonus, each download comes with a large-size image file of the cover artwork by Lale Westvind (that’s it above) and extended liner notes by long-lost, slightly lamented Arthur “critics”/goofballs C & D.

But! Because you’re an Arthur blog reader, you can preview C & D’s commentary by scrolling to the bottom of this post, where we’ve attached the whole blasted thing. Enjoy, or not — it’s probably more fun to read along as you’re listening to the music, and an adult beverage may make it an even finer experience. Or so we’re told.

Buy Now

Thank you kindly, hope you enjoy. Oh, and the title? It’s from Edward Hoagland—more info on that in the download.

* * *

THOUGHTLESS C & D

Arthur Magazine’s resident cretins—ahem, critics—lend us their opinions on “Thoughtless Grin”

1. DANIEL BACHMAN “Sun Over Old Rag” (excerpt) from Seven Pines (Tompkins Square, 2012)

D: Oh, what a beautifully newgrassy morning. Yes indeedee.

C: It’s coming on, D. Feel the vibes?

D: I always feel at home when I hear a drone humming from the hi-fi.

C: Looks like you’ve already made yourself at home. On my couch.

D: I do feel at home on your couch. Especially now that you’ve moved it onto your porch.

C: Hear the rich, beautiful fingerpicking, multiple-ringing, a guitar weaving, a mystery expanding.

D: It’s big and contemplative at the same time.

C: [cough] Much like yourself.

D: It’s so cool that people still make music like this. What are the chances?

C: I think this Bachman is a young guy, like 21. His music is steeped in lineage and alive. Bachman plays with the tumbling, unfolding joy of Peter Walker, Robbie Basho, Jack Rose.

D: Soaked in the liniment of tradition, I’d say! Great work!

C: We gotta get some of Arthur’s regional operatives on this. Some proper “old rag” recon. Find out what this Bachman guy’s got in his cup.

D: Now I’m far from an expert…

C: [snorts] You can say that again.

D: …but I know what we’ve heard and one thing’s for sure: This sets a fine table.

2. FEEDING PEOPLE “Other Side” from Island Universe (Innovative Leisure, 2013)

D: Do I hear “7 and 7 is”?  I feel a sense of urgency here, girl singer has a great snarl going. “I got friends on the other sigh-eeede…” I believe she does.

C: This is Burger Records alumni Feeding People, featured in the new ish of Arthur. The singer is 20-years old.

D: Coming up and coming of age, a true garage psych corker.

C: Excelsior!

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“THOUGHTLESS GRIN”: NEW ARTHUR MIXTAPE NOW AVAILABLE

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THOUGHTLESS GRIN
An Arthur mixtape compiled by Jay Babcock

This new mixtape is now available direct from Arthur to your internet connection as a $3.00 digital download. It’s a collection of songs from recent releases that we’ve been digging lately, sequenced with care for the sensitive mind/ear.

Buy Now

As an added bonus, each download comes with extended liner notes by long-lost Arthur “critics”/village fools C & D, and a large-size image file of the cover artwork by Lale Westvind.

Here are the songs featured on “Thoughtless Grin”:

1. DANIEL BACHMAN – “Sun Over Old Rag”

2. FEEDING PEOPLE – “Other Side”

3. ENDLESS BOOGIE – “Taking Out the Trash”

4. BOMBINO – “Aman”

5. RADAR BROTHERS – “Disappearer”

6. GAP DREAM – “58th St. Fingers”

7. SONNY & THE SUNSETS – “Pretend You Love Me”

8. DEVENDRA BANHART – “Won’t You Come Home”

9. MV & EE – “Turbine”

10. HERBCRAFT – “Full Circle (Eternally)”

11. ARBOURETUM – “Coming Out of the Fog”

Engineered by BOBBY TAMKIN at The Sound Ranch.
Cover artwork by LALE WESTVIND.
Liner notes by C & D.

Click the following link to purchase using a debit card, credit card or Paypal account.

Buy Now

A link containing the “Thoughtless Grin” zip file (digital music file [192kpbs mp3], artwork, credits sheet, liner notes by C & D) will be emailed to you upon payment.

All proceeds help Arthur Magazine to resist economic pressures.

Thank you kindly, hope you enjoy. Oh, and the title? It’s from Edward Hoagland—more info on that in the download.

The Arthur Gang

NOW: ARTHUR NO. 34

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ARTHUR NO. 34 / APRIL 2013

Oversized broadsheet newspaper
24 15″ x 22.75″ pages (16 color, 8 b/w)
$5

CLICK HERE TO ORDER DIRECT FROM US

Now with 50% more pages, Arthur continues its comeback in the bold new broadsheet newspaper format that’s turning heads and drawing critical acclaim.

In this issue…

After 20-plus years navigating strange, inspiring trips across myriad underground psychedelic terrains with a host of fellow free folk, righteous musician/head MATT VALENTINE (MV & EE, Tower Recordings, etc) finally spills all possible beans in an unprecedented, career-summarizing, ridiculously footnoted epic interview by BYRON COLEY. Plus: Deep archival photo finds from the MV vaults, a sidebar wander through some important MV listening experiences with your guide Dan Ireton, and a gorgeous cover painting by ARIK ROPER of MV & EE at peace in the cosmic wild. Delicious!

Orange County, California psych rockers FEEDING PEOPLE left the church, entered the void, lost band members and returned to our reality to sing their tale in glorious reverb. Chris Ziegler investigates, with photography by Ward Robinson…

Everyone needs someone to love, and AROMATIC APHRODISIACS are here to help that lovin’ along (sans wack pharma side effects). From truffles to borrachero, author-scholars CHRISTIAN RATSCH and CLAUDIA MULLER-EBELING get in on the action. Illustrations by Kira Mardikes…

Gabe Soria chats with novelist AUSTIN GROSSMAN (Soon I Will Be Invincible) about the basic weirdness of playing (and making) VIDEO GAMES, with art by Ron Rege, Jr….

All-new full-color comics by Lale Westvind, Will Sweeney, Vanessa Davis and Jonny Negron…

Is there a way to examine the nature of existence at its very foundation? Esoteric mapmaker DAVID CHAIM SMITH says yes—but there’s a price. Interview by Jay Babcock…

Stewart Voegtlin on what (or: who) made MELVINS’ 1992 beercrusher Lysol the most unlikely religious record ever built, with art by Stewart’s Chips N Beer mag compatriot Beaver…

“Weedeater” Nance Klehm on BETTER HOME BREWING…

The Center for Tactical Magic on ANARCHO-OCCULTISM…

PLUS! Byron Coley and Thurston Moore’s essential underground review column, Bull Tongue, now expanded to two giant pages. Covered in this issue: New York Art Quartet, Don Cauble, Douglas Blazek, Rick Myers, Desmadrados, Century Plants, Richard Aldrich, Robbie Basho, Steffen Basho-Junghans, Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, Michael Zacchilli, Pat Murano, Tom Carter, Les Conversions, Hobo Sunn, Decimus, Saifyya, Jeff Keen, Inspector 22, Yves/Son/Ace, Pink Priest, Smegma, Nouvelle Impressions D’Afrique, K. Johnson Bair, Major Stars, Endless Boogie, David Novick, Joe Carducci, Scam, Erick Lyle, Phantom Horse, Failing Lights, Tomuntonttu, The Lost Domain, George Laughead jr., Xochi, Sublime Frequencies, Barbara Rubin, Red Rippers, Linda King, Cuntz, My Cat Is An Alien, Bird Build Nests Underground, Pestrepeller, Painting Petals on Planet Ghost, Peter Stampfel, Joshua Burkett, Michael Chapman, L’Oie de Cravan Press, Genvieve Desrosiers, The Residents, Dawn McCarthy, Bonnie Prince Billy, Ensemble Pearl, Azita, Woo, Galactic Zoo Dossier, Mad Music INc., White Limo, Excusamwa, Little Black Egg, Dump, Jarrett Kobek, Felix Kubin, The Army, Bruce Russell, and Gate…

And more stuff too hot to divulge online!

Please keep in mind… Arthur is no longer distributed for free anywhere. Those days are (sadly) long gone. Now you gotta buy Arthur or you won’t see it. Our price: Five bucks—not so bad!

CLICK HERE TO ORDER DIRECT FROM US

FEEL FREE TO PRE-ORDER ARTHUR NO. 34 NOW (STREETS MARCH 5, 2013)

A34coversml

ARTHUR NO. 34 / APRIL 2013
Twenty-four 15″ x 22.75″ pages (16 color, 8 b/w)
$5
Streets: March 5, 2013

CLICK HERE FOR THE PRE-ORDER INFO

Now with 50% more pages, Arthur continues its comeback in the bold new broadsheet newspaper format that’s turning heads and drawing critical acclaim.

In this issue…

After 20-plus years navigating strange, inspiring trips across myriad underground psychedelic terrains with a host of fellow free folk, righteous musician/head MATT VALENTINE (MV & EE, Tower Recordings, etc) finally spills all possible beans in an unprecedented, career-summarizing, ridiculously footnoted epic interview by BYRON COLEY. Plus: Deep archival photo finds from the MV vaults, a sidebar wander through some important MV listening experiences with your guide Dan Ireton, and a gorgeous cover painting by ARIK ROPER of MV & EE at peace in the cosmic wild. Delicious!

Also in this issue:

Orange County, California psych rockers FEEDING PEOPLE left the church, entered the void, lost band members and returned to our reality to sing their tale in glorious reverb. Chris Ziegler investigates, with photography by Ward Robinson…

Everyone needs someone to love, and AROMATIC APHRODISIACS are here to help that lovin’ along (sans wack pharma side effects). From truffles to borrachero, author-scholars CHRISTIAN RATSCH and CLAUDIA MULLER-EBELING get in on the action. Illustrations by Kira Mardikes…

Gabe Soria chats with author AUSTIN GROSSMAN (Soon I Will Be Invincible) about the basic weirdness of playing (and making) VIDEO GAMES, with art by Ron Rege, Jr….

All-new full-color comics by Lale Westvind, Will Sweeney, Vanessa Davis and Jonny Negron…

Is there a way to examine the nature of existence at its very foundation? Esoteric mapmaker DAVID CHAIM SMITH say yes—but there’s a price. Interview by Jay Babcock…

Stewart Voegtlin on what (or: who) made MELVINS’ 1992 beercrusher “Lysol” the most unlikely religious record ever built, with art by Stewart’s Chips N Beer mag compatriot Beaver…

“Weedeater” Nance Klehm on BETTER HOME BREWING…

The Center for Tactical Magic on ANARCHO-OCCULTISM…

Byron Coley and Thurston Moore’s essential underground review column, Bull Tongue, now expanded to two giant pages. Covered in this issue: New York Art Quartet, Don Cauble, Douglas Blazek, Rick Myers, Desmadrados, Century Plants, Richard Aldrich, Robbie Basho, Steffen Basho-Junghans, Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, Michael Zacchilli, Pat Murano, Tom Carter, Les Conversions, Hobo Sunn, Decimus, Saifyya, Jeff Keen, Inspector 22, Yves/Son/Ace, Pink Priest, Smegma, Nouvelle Impressions D’Afrique, K. Johnson Blair, Major Stars, Endless Boogie, David Novick, Joe Carducci, Scam, Erick Lyle, Phantom Horse, Failing Lights, Tomuntonttu, The Lost Domain, George Laughead jr., Xochi, Sublime Frequencies, Barbara Rubin, Red Rippers, Linda King, Cuntz, My Cat Is An Alien, Bird Build Nests Underground, Pestrepeller, Painting Petals on Planet Ghost, Peter Stampfel, Joshua Burkett, Michael Chapman, L’Oie de Cravan Press, Genvieve Desrosiers, The Residents, Dawn McCarthy, Bonnie Prince Billy, Ensemble Pearl, Azita, Woo, Galactic Zoo Dossier, Mad Music INc., White Limo, Excusamwa, Little Black Egg, Dump, Jarrett Kobek, Felix Kubin, The Army, Bruce Russell, and Gate…

And more stuff too hot to divulge online!

Please keep in mind… Arthur is no longer distributed for free anywhere. Those days are (sadly) long gone. Now you gotta buy Arthur or you won’t see it. Our price: Five bucks—not so bad!

WE ARE NOW READY FOR THE WEEKEND, or: NEW ENDLESS BOOGIE IS HERE

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ENDLESS BOOGIE’S LABEL NO QUARTER RECORDS EXPLAINS SOME STUFF:

CD/2xLP OUT FEBRUARY 19th
WFMU session: January 15th, 3-6pm (east coast time)
Record Release show 2/15 @ Cameo Gallery
Brooklyn, NY w/ Arbouretum & Hans Chew

New York’s Endless Boogie are pleased to announce that their third studio album Long Island will be in stores February 19th. The foursome – comprised of Paul “Top Dollar” Major, Jesper Eklow, Harry Druzd and Marc Razo – have made a monstrous, epic of an LP spanning 8 tracks and running 79 minutes and 48 seconds. More often than not, Matt Sweeney joins them on these songs, a recent staple of the live band (at least at New York–area shows) and an able partner for Major to work off. Sweeney and Eklow are credited with producing.

Paul Major says of Long Island: “There’s a lotta strange characters on this album, I don’t know who most of them are. They span time. They seem to know me. They insist there are no messages in the music beyond blasting off and staying there… We brought the beast back alive this time, be careful when you tear off the shrink wrap… “

A note about the album art: despite its bizarre and eerie resemblance to Paul Major, the painting, entitled “Skogtroll,” is actually from 1902 and was done by a Nordic artist named Theodor Kittelsen. It exists in the public domain.

Hear Endless Boogie perform for THREE STRAIGHT HOURS this Tuesday January 15th on Brian Turner’s WFMU program. You can stream it online: WFMU.org

PRE-ORDER THE ALBUM NOW AND GET EXTRA STUFF: NO QUARTER STORE