Monday, May 28

The Phantom Carriage

Short extract from 'The Phantom Carriage', scored by Jonathan Richman. Found here.

Sunday, May 20

Some Spanish Concerts...

Jonathan and Tommy are over in Spain right now, here's the dates that we’re aware of: -

13th May – Café del Teatro Lleida, Lleida

15th May – Centro Cultural Provincial en C/Ollerias Cuando, Malaga

17th May – Sala Mercantil, Badajoz

19th May - TEATRO FELO MONZÓN, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

26th May – Arrasete, Mondragon

1st June - Acapulco, Gijon, Spain

2nd June - Primavera Sound, Barcelona, Spain

(There are probably a few more dates… let us know if you come across any others and we’ll add them.)

And as usual – please check with the venues before travelling!

Wednesday, May 16

Happy Birthday Jonathan!

Jonathan and Nicole
Jonathan and Nicole by Elsa Dorfman*
Copyright Elsa Dorfman 2007 all rights reserved

Mr. Richman was born in Boston in 1951. He started to draw pictures all day long from the age of 5. Played baseball all day long from the age of 9. This would not leave time for anything else, would it?

He took up guitar at 15, started playing in public at 16, and by 17 had caused many people to leave coffee-houses... quickly... with their hands over their ears, and by 18 was sure he wanted to sing professionally. He promised himself that if it ever became work instead of fun he'd quit that day. And... if it ever does, he will.

He left home at age 18, moving to New York. Since he was ten years old and first was taken there by his parents, he wanted to live there and also his favorite rock band The Velvet Underground was there along with the artist Andy Warhol (since deceased). Now this band we just mentioned... they had a big effect on young Richman. Yes, he admired their sincerity, their dark sound, and their ability to improvise both lyrics and music onstage.

His first place to stay in Manhattan was on the couch of the personal manager of this Velvet Underground. After two weeks the manager and his wife and the other person staying there felt that Jonathan... well... might be more appropriately situated somewhere else. (Since this is me writing this thing I can say that this means I was such a stinking disgusting slob that even my friends couldn't stand it and two weeks must have been plenty.) (Of course now I'm much more mature.) His next move was to New York's legendary (and rat infested) Hotel Albert which is where he lived until he left New York nine months later. He immediately found work as a busboy (unbelievably incompetent)
[Max's Kansas City, where Deborah Harry worked as well, as a waitress -rb] and as a foot messenger on Wall St. and later for Esquire magazine.

One afternoon in frustration at not being able to find a place to sing his new songs, (among which were "Roadrunner," "Pablo Picasso," and "Girlfriend" later to become popular when he sang them with his band), he went up to the roof of the cockroach infested Hotel Albert. Strumming an electric guitar without any amplifier, (that means ya can't hear it), he stood near the edge of the roof and yelled his music at the pedestrians eight stories below. Mr. Richman was delighted with the attention he was getting as the crowded sidewalk on University Place at 10th St. started to overflow with people staring up at him. But... he thought it was 'cause he was so great and not the real reason which was they thought he was maybe going to JUMP or at least that he should be giving the matter some serious consideration. Then the police arrived. (I knew it was time for my show-stopper, so to speak.) ...
read the rest of this piece written by Jonathan Richman at

more links:

more "Jonathan Writes" at

Jonathan Richman - Wikipedia

Elsa's Rocker Portraits: Peter Wolf and Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkins

*Elsa Dorfman, Portrait Photographer

Friday, May 4

more Phantom Carriage

Steve Rhodes has a great set of photographs on Flickr of Jonathan Richman performing the music he composed for The Phantom Carriage. These are a few samples, go here to see the rest.


Thanks Steve!

Also see this review at Cinematical

Jonathan Richman and Phantom Carriage at Castro Theatre

text and images by Adrian Bischoff

Last night [Friday, 27 April 2007] I saw Jonathan Richman perform live accompaniment to the 1921 Swedish silent movie Phantom Carriage at the Castro Theatre.

I haven’t been to the Castro Theatre in a couple years and as I went in and saw the beautiful molding and ornamentation in the theater, I remembered how amazing that place is. There was an interesting mix of people milling around and finding their seats: Jonathan Richman fans, silent movie aficionados, indie movie people, etc.

If you’ve never seen a silent film with live musical accompaniment, I’d recommend it. It’s usually a pretty good experience. The semi-improvisational nature of the music adds a lot of excitement to the movie.

The movie itself is pretty complex for the time. The plot’s based around a Swedish folktale. The idea goes that the last to die in a year that has bad things has to spend the rest of the year being Death’s carriage driver. It employed a few techniques that I was surprised were employed then, including non-linear story telling and some fairly good special effects techniques for the ghosts.

On now onto the music. I’d seen Jonathan Richman before. He’s really quirky live and has a lot of charisma and stage presence, so I was really curious how it’d end up when these things were taken away. The set up was Jonathan on (nylon string) guitar and pump organ. Other players were two hand bell players, a trumpet/ baritone player, a bass clarinet/ saxophone/ flute player, a violinist and a cellist. I thought their accompaniment was really good and all the players were very talented. It worked really well with the movie. The main characters had motifs and there were parts were these two motifs were almost colliding when two characters were talking or arguing. A daring move was during certain particularly intense moments in the movie there they left it completely silent; I think it paid off.

View the full photo album.

-- Adrian Bischoff, reprinted with kind permission from

Big thanks to Tony for the heads-up!