Thursday, April 30

Jonathan and cartoons

Artist Ben Zurawski created this blend of 40 flipbooks that is just hypnotic to watch. It's set to Egyptian Reggae, and is called "Cartoon Casserole"

Also, remember to enter our contest! You have until May 15th, but we'll be using the responses for some awesome reader-generated posts, so get in on the action! There are three great prizes, and also my super secret prize for my favorite entry. Hint: It's out of my poster/promo photo/etc collection. I just had too much stuff.

Wednesday, April 22

The 5th Anniversary of Jojoblog (and a contest)

I really can't believe that we've been here for 5 years. I've only been here for about a year (contributing, anyhow), but I love this place. I know, so do many of the people who have never contributed, but follow us, or come by every day looking for the reviews, articles and tidbits from around the internet. I love that were are the place people come for recent Jonathan news, and that we cover a world-wide network of fans. Since I wrote my first review here, of Jonathan in Salt Lake City (Ironically enough, I'm going back there in July), I have seen how much hard work the rest of the crew puts in here, and I love you guys for that!

So, to show my appreciation to everyone who reads this blog, we are holding a contest! You can enter from our birthday (today) and I will draw the winner on Jonathan's birthday (May 16th), so the last day to enter is May 15th, midnight, Mountain Standard Time.

What could I win, might you ask? Well, we have three fabulous prizes:

1) Vinyl copy of Because Her Beauty is Raw and Wild.

2) A copy of the aforementioned Dream magazine, which Jonathan painted the back cover for. (See post below for a picture)

3) A t-shirt, made by my loving friends, in your size and color. My friends made this for me after I complained about not being able to find a not Modern Lovers shirt. So yours will only be two of a kind! This is a terrible picture of it, it's much cooler in real life, I swear.

How do you enter? Send an email to with the following information

1) Your name and an email where you can be reached.

2) Your favorite song and album of Jonathan's

3) How you discovered Jonathan

4) A story about meeting Jonathan OR Why you're a fan of his.

5) Your 1st and 2nd choice of the prizes.

We will be using these over the next month to make posts about the things we love about Jonathan, everyone's favorites, etc. Make sure to write well, because I have a secret prize for my favorite one. And it is awesome. I'm kind of struggling with the fact that I have to part with it.

Happy 5th anniversary, Jojoblog, and good luck to you all!

Tuesday, April 21

Jonathan Paints!

So after an epic struggle with my scanner, where all concerned came out beaten and bloody, I have something for you! I had always heard that Jonathan also enjoyed painting a great deal, but I had never seen any of his art, aside from the stuff in the Not So Much To Be Loved As To Love liner notes. A little luck and a random search one day turned up the adult comic magazine for Dream, and for this issue, done in 1995, Jonathan was asked to paint something for the back cover. I ordered a copy,and here it is, ladies and gents:

Well, I was excited. He's a far better artist than I am. The whole magazine is actually pretty interesting, and I really enjoyed some of the comics in there.

Hope you are all are getting ready for the summer tour. (those of your nearby, at least). I'm heading out to Salt Lake City for the last show in the tour, and also to go to Lagoon. (Jonathan and roller coasters? Can there be a better way to spend a holiday weekend. I think there cannot be.)

Everyone have a good day, and I have something special planned for tomorrow!

a concert in Berkeley and a tribute in Somerville

Sun 26 April People's Park Berkeley CA (link)

Sat 2 May Jonathan Richman Tribute to benefit The Somerville Arts Council PA's Lounge Somerville MA (link)

Thursday, April 16

Interview #23 : Steve Wynn

Steve Wynn has been in rock bands for ever. His first recording band, The Dream Syndicate, released in 1982 what is considered today as a cult status album, "The days of wine and roses". The Dream Syndicate issued other albums afterwards which were as fascinating as the first one but they are specially remembered for this one. Steve later went solo and in other bands, his discography is quite impressive as you can see on his webpage at :
Nowadays he is playing with variable bands like the Miracle 3 or the Dragon Bridge orchestra with whom he just released the excellent "Live in Brussels" Cd. In the influences quoted by Steve on his page appear the Modern Lovers, a perfect reason to interview him as he must have things to say about Jonathan.

That first Dream Syndicate LP (“Days of wine and roses”) was released in Europe in 1982 on the French Closer label. I remember buying it in the mythical New Rose record shop in Paris because I was hearing it played on the shop hi fi set and instantly liked it. It sounded briliant, completely original though familiar at the same time. There was an obvious Velvet / Television side to the music but also something which reminded me of the Modern Lovers. I must say that I am still listening to this LP today. Were did your sound come from ?

"days of wine and roses" French LP

SW: I was listening to a lot of music that was surprisingly out of fashion at the time. Not many people were talking about bands like the Velvets and The Stooges and the Modern Lovers-everybody wanted to be into horrible synthesizer and New Romantic bands. It was pretty awful. But I knew I loved the sound of those bands as well as newer bands like The Fall, The Feelies, Black Flag and The Fleshtones and it turned out that a lot of other people were out there that wanted to hear that kind of raw, hypnotic guitar music as well.

The Dream Syndicate was stamped as the leading edge of the Californian Paysley underground movement, which I did not agree with, though I might have had a wrong understanding about that movement and you sounded more East coast than californian anyway. Were you more sensitive to the East coast culture ? Is it why you moved to NYC later ?

SW: You are absolutely right. I did feel a kinship with bands like
The Bangs and Salvation Army and the Long Ryders because we were all playing psychedelic, 60s influenced guitar rock but, to be honest, I was less entranced with all of those “groovy” 60s elements. I dug the harder stuff, the darker stuff. And I was as excited about the CBGB's sound of the punk rock era and the things that were happening in Hoboken (Feelies, dBs, Bongos) as I was about the Riot On The Sunset strip days of the Whiskey a Go Go. I've always been fascinated with New York City and moving here was one of the best things I've ever done

I cannot resist asking you a stupid question of the “do you prefer the Beatles or the Stones” kind. I noticed that you listed the Flamin' Groovies in your influences and was wondering what incarnation of the band you were prefering : the one with Roy Loney as lead singer or the one with Chris Wilson as lead singer and why ?

SW: I like them both. It's almost like 2 different bands, right? I'd be happy to have Teenage Head, Shake Some Action AND Jumpin' In The Night with me on a desert island.

Now, the Modern Lovers are also quoted as an influence, did you ever see them live ? If you had that luck, how was it?

SW: Oh, I WISH I could have seen them. Actually, I've only seen Jonathan 2 or 3 times in my life-in the early 80s, the mid 90s and then a couple of years ago.

Have you followed Jonathan Richman's music from that time until today ? How would you define it ?

SW: I've enjoyed things he's done during every phase of his career. I do like that his songs of the last 20 years have gradually dealt more with “adult” themes of life and relationships and he's continued to be honest in his writing and relevant to where he is in his life. It's important to evolve as a writer and he's definitely done that.

I see some musical connections you have with Jonathan and was wondering if it was the common influence of the Velvet Underground which had played a role ? For instance there is this song “Boston” which is in fine the town of Jonathan as well as the place where the Velvets got the earliest recognition and your lyrics go like : “Come back to Boston as soon as you can..”. So please, tell us about the Velvets and Boston ?

SW: Yeah, I guess we've both worshipped at the House Of Lou. The song “Boston” is actually about the time that Van Morrison spent in Boston after the breakup of Them and before he made Astral Weeks. I've read that he was pretty drunk and depressed and wondering what would happen next in his life.

On your Myspace page the influences list is impressive, not much english bands though but the ones that are mentionned are
certainly not the average famous ones. I would say that quoting the Only Ones and the Auteurs is showing genuine taste. What is the affiliation between these bands and your music ?

SW: Wow, those are 2 amazing bands. I think that the Auteurs, in particular is one of the most underrated bands of the last 15 or 20 years. Luke Haines is a great writer. I just love his lyrics. But I was actually more excited about some of the English bands when the Dream Syndicate started out-Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen, Monochrome Set, Orange Juice-all of these bands stood out to me at the time.
Steve and the Miracle 3

- Your song “Bring the magic” is definitely the roadsong of the decade… I love it and is the true sequel to Jonathan's “Roadrunner”, lyrics are immaculate
All I do is dream inside my radio
Cadillacs and Bonnevilles are taking in the scene
Lipstick kisses blown across the double line
Landing lightly on a stretch limousine”
…) and the music is the magic of that song. Can you comment on that ? and how did you react to “Roadrunner” when your heard it for the first time?

SW: There's nothing like a great driving song, is there? I always loved “LA Woman,” “Maybelleine” and of course “Roadrunner.” And I feel good that my own “Amphetamine” and “Bring the Magic fit into that mold. I remember the first time I actually drove on Route 128 on my first tour. I was pretty excited. Of all the things I love about “Roadrunner,” my favorite element (and one I've stolen often) is the sound of the organ. Wow, that distorted organ just blew my mind the first time I heard the song.
In your recent works, I like very much “tick tick tick” from Steve Wynn and the Miracle3. It is a great CD and you pay tribute to the Velvets again with a red chilli pepper instead of the Warhol banana on the CD cover and you even have a female drummer in the band, laughs. Don't tell me you did not do this on purpose ?

SW: The pepper was a very conscious nod. But you can rest very assured that I didn't choose Linda as my drummer (or as my wife) as a tribute to Mo Tucker. Anyway, she plays more like a hybrid of Keith Moon and Charlie Watts than any chick drummer.

Linda and Steve - picture credit Ann'Arbor

- More seriously, can you speak a bit about “the deep end” as it is such a perfect song ?

SW: Thanks. It's one of my favourites. Linda and I wrote it when we were making the Smack Dab album in Spain a few years ago and it first appeared on that album as “Lavender Foam.” It's always a fun song to play because it sounds and plays like the words to the song. You have to abandon yourself to the waves of sound, the push and pull of the musical tide.

- Like you, Jonathan has changed the format of his band or backing partners through the years. He has eventually settled to go solo with only Tom Larkins backing him on drums. How do you feel about that evolution ? Would you consider go on tour with Linda only ?

SW: I love the way Jonathan plays with Tommy. Linda and I have done some shows as a duo and it's fun but I just love the sound of a bass guitar mixing in with the drums. There's nothing like it.

I read on your Blog about your impressions during the Leonard Cohen concert. Jonathan is covering a Cohen song (“Here it is”). How important do you think is Cohen's presence in the music today ?

SW: Isn't it great that his importance and influence and popularity grows as he gets older? It's what we all hope for. I think his songs were always meant to be sung by an older gentleman so it makes perfect sense. I've seen him play twice in the last year and was amazed at how he fully commanded the stage during every second of the show. Then again, your job on stage is much easier when you have a catalogue of songs like he does.

There is another city which has connections with both you and Jonathan. It is Tucson where you recorded a couple of albums. Was there any particular reason for you to choose that place ? what do you think of the local scene ?

SW: Did he record in Tucson? I didn't know that.-he did not actually but Tommy lives there- I guess it makes sense with Tommy and everything. As for me, I was looking for something new, a new source of inspiration back in 2000 and Howe Gelb told me about Wavelab Studios and Craig Schumacher and I had a feeling it would be just the thing to shake things up a little. I was right and the 5 years that I spent recording out there revived my creativity and my career as well, I suppose.

You have been a very prolific songwriter, how do you manage to keep your inspiration so creative ?

SW: I still get a huge thrill out of writing a song and hearing the first time a band brings it to life. I tend to write my songs in bunches these days. I'll knock out a dozen in a few weeks and then not write for months. I find that a new project or a new collaboration usually gets me going and fortunately there are always new projects and new collaborations.

You have a substantial following in Europe as does Jonathan. Do you think your music and his have something to which Europeans can relate to and which is less obvious in the US ?

SW: I think that European audiences are more loyal to artists who have been around for a while and that the greatest crime to a European music is not getting old but rather if you play bad shows or make bad records. That's a pressure I can accept. I think that the US audiences and press sometimes treat age and experience as a negative, always looking for the hip new thing which so often turns out to be a smokescreen. It's important to show that you can hang in for the long run.

What would be your favourite Jonathan song or album ?

SW: Naturally, I'm enthralled by that first Modern Lovers album. And I know that's like someone telling me they love “The Days of Wine and Roses” It's so obvious and yet you can completely understand it. But I also really like the title track to “Back In Your Life.” The line about the maple syrup always busts me up.

In your song “Boston”, you are quoting “Cypress Avenue”. I would not have thought Van Morrisson had also played a role in your musical life ?

SW: I'm a big fan, especially of the “TB Sheets” sessions.

- Would you cover a Jonathan song ? Which one ?

SW: I've considered doing "Someone I care about" for a long time. Maybe now's the time !

Would you have any anecdote related to Jonathan ?

SW: I've only met him once but it was a great night. He took me out on a tour of Madrid tapas bars after I saw him play a show there a few years ago. He really knew his stuff and I still go to those bars-he turned me on to pimientos padrones. Wow, those are amazing.

Revolution Summer on DVD

Miles Montalbano the young film director whom I interviewed during Fall 2007 (link
here) is known mainly for the Jonathan DVD "Take me to the plaza" and for his film "Revolution Summer".
Miles happens also to be Nicole's brother. He sent me the following mail :

"Just wanted to let you Jojobloggers know that 'Revolution Summer' is being released on DVD April 21. North America only at this point. Thanks for your support! Miles " more info:

Sunday, April 5

A Salute to "I Was Dancing in a Lesbian Bar"

It's one of the very best moments in a Jonathan Richman concert. For one song, it seems like the whole crowd is in this thing together, and even the disaffected indie kids can't stop themselves from singing along and bouncing happily. I love this song. I, Jonathan was the first CD I ever had of his, and I'd rather hear this song performed than Roadrunner any day (I realize I may be in the minority on this). In this vein, I have both new and some of my favorite performances of this song.

New, from London. Son't miss the Tommy rock out session and Jonathan dance break at the end

Even if people don't know Jonathan, I find that at any concert I have dragged people to, this has been the selling moment, as if they finally understand the brilliance that is Jonathan. Converting a crowd at Conan:

Also, it can turn a silent car into a giant sing along in moments. One of my favorites, at the Knitting Factory in 2007.

But this song is, as always, all about the dance break.

At least, it always cheers me up.

Friday, April 3

Unreleased LP mp3 files

A link to the Lost LP mp3 files.

Thanks to Dan!

Wednesday, April 1

Oh-ohhh, New England

Several things from the merry old land of England for you.

There's a review of Jonathan's performance from the Hoxton Bar & Kitchen, by Danny Eccleston:

If this second of these four London shows has a theme - and it does, it does - it's a typically Richman-esque concern with the assault on authentic experience threatened by new media and cockeyed priorities. Richman's USP is the seeming lack of edit function between the emotions and the page, and while this can sometimes lead to unnecessarily prosaic occurrences being lent the dignity of song, tonight he manages to invest even the lowliest minutiae with heroic qualities. When you're as steeped in the now as Richman, maybe all real things seem as magical. "When we refuse to suffer," he sings in the song of that name, "that's when the air conditioner wins and the real temperature of the world... loses."

Elsewhere, in Es Como El Pan, he compares yesterday's songs to stale bread and lectures, in a reasonable way, that it's "better if our past doesn't imprison us". Before he introduces us to a woman who shares his love for the "faded colours of 3am" and tells a story - in song, of course - of a party he was invited to after a show, but he got a bit lost and arrived late and there were just eight people there, "but, you know, that's OK."

Read the rest at Mojo

The pictures are from Dingwalls and taken by the lovely Seán Kelly

We have also a video from Hoxton, doing his adorable Pablo Picasso thing, more talking to the audience than singing to them at first. My favorite retooled line "Some guys try to pick up girls/ It works out foul/ It don't work out successful/ It works out miserable