What's Up

 

February 1, 2013

First and foremost  GO BALTIMORE RAVENS !

 

From last week's Baltimore City Paper: "The Short List and the Short List's wife are divided" (viva la difference!) "on the name of the band Schlongtasm, who performs tonight at Joe Squared North. Please write in to the CP to weigh in on the debate." 

At 11:45 AM (01/28/13) I threw my 2 pennies onto one pan of this metaphorical scale (& in honor of Dan, that would probably be the "right" side)....... So, just in case my "apologia" does not make it into print, what follows is the text of my "weigh-in":

"Weighing in on the debate between The Short List and The Short List's wife 'on the merits of the name of the band Schlongtasm,' let me first clarify that Schlongtasm is not a band, rather the title of an annual event that celebrates the birthday of El Sledge (+) & Bone Fish Grill manager, Dan Long, aka "Dan Schlong." The moniker, I think, is a euphemism-in-reverse, colloquially intended to suggest, in an exaggerated yet light-hearted manner, Dan's 'phallic' energy (& the vivifying energies usually released into the air at these friendly gatherings--you know, 'wherever 2 or more are gathered...'), i.e. the enthusiasm with which Dan addresses his every endeavor. 

"IMhO, the 'tasm' tag conjures the idea of 'vibrations' (as does say, the word 'orgasm'--placing the emphasis much more on the motion than on the 'meat'); thus the fact that this party (now in its fifth year) showcased the music (vibrations) of the three bands that volunteered their services to provide a joyful soundtrack totally in accord with the spirit of this celebration: in other words, a fitting 'excuse' to sponsor a party. If you weren't in attendance, we recommend you pencil in Schongtasm XXXI on your January 2014 calendar (normally held on the Friday evening closest to the 01/25 date). We hope to see you BOTH there."

 

OHO was there; watch at:

 

 

 

On the DGM Guestbook…
.006 string:: Posted by garbonzo on January 15, 2013
"Noticed photo of .006 string on the RF on-line diary. What is the application and/or advantage of using a string gauge of such gossamer dimension? I play often in the NST using the .007 gauge (Octave4+) strings and have little difficulty in getting them up to and maintaining the A4 pitch. Am curious to know how Mr. Fripp employs this gauge of string...perhaps on his electric guitars?" 

"My report is tentative as this is early days with the gossamer string. The manufacturer intends that string-bending, even to a minor third, is possible. I hesitate going that far."-rf

 

OHO & Out !

 

December 22, 2012

 

Well, we are (most of us, anyway), if not "present," at least still HERE...so much for the end of the world--together we begin again; on into the day--with enthusiasm!

2 weeks (and one day) ago David Reeve discovered an anonymous note ("if it is true, what does it matter who said it?") on his windshield after our most recent OHO rehearsal (getting ready for Schlongtasm 2013 scheduled to occur on 01/25/13 at Jo...e Squared North and unlike the end of the world, this celebration is likely to really happen) reminding us that Oak Forest is NOT zoned for night clubs.

True that we were testing out the sonic limits of our newly acquired (yet modestly priced) PA sub-woofer and how it affects the sound of Reevus' bass drum--fairly thunderous (obviously in this case, overly so). Another error of enthusiasm on my part as I was enjoying being vibed by the novelty of this lowest-of-the lower frequency enhancement. The subwoofer reluctantly has since been disconnected and overall volumes, beginning tonight, will be attenuated in response to this grinch-y complaint.

Yet, in an instance of "irony" (where the literal meaning of words used is the exact opposite of their "actual" meaning), at the corner of Montrose Ave & Frederick Road where one enters Catonsville from the west, stands a bus stop w/a roofed enclosure upon which hangs a sign referring to our town as MUSIC CITY, MD.

"Music City, MD?" This "distinction" might be qualified in the respect that while one can readily be liberated from the tyranny of one's disposable income in purchasing a musical instrument at one of the many music stores in Catonsville, the opportunities for actually playing a musical instrument before an audience here are scarce. Even the exceptions to this, most notably an Open Mic night at Trax on Wax, questionable opportunities at Morseberger's Tavern, or even rehearsals/jams taking place in certain area basements and garages; the latter are under siege from at least one especially pestiferous member of the local gentry.

Prior to having our phone number changed/unlisted, my spouse had received a number of hostile, anonymous phone calls, and actual visits from a (trespassing) spokesperson for this "disturbed" neighbor. Once SHE actually queried (although the words were delivered by her husband--not having the cajones to appear in person—again, the courage of the knife, but not of the blood), "Don't you know what time it is?" Upon consultation with a time piece oriented to Greenwich mean time, it noted to be 7:00 PM. You know, like in the middle of the friggin' night, right? We do, however, "Mrs-Coward-who-presents-a-totally-different-face-at-neighborhood-social-functions,” know who you are.  We have “Caller ID.”  You’ve heard of The Patriot Act, haven’t you?  Merry effin’ Xmas to you too.  To everyone else: Happy Holy Daze and all the best to you and yours for 2013!

- David, Jay & Ray.

OHO & out.

 

August-September 2012

“The best thing about summer is possibility.  The best thing about reading is imagination.  Put those two things together and you have freedom.” –Curtis R. Smith Jr., author of “Stars in the Shadows”

                   

“Fortunately KC had the wit to cease to exist in 1974; which makes those who associate KC, with ‘the bombastic excesses of prog rock’ and those who served them up, at least as dopey as the excesses and the servers.”

-Robert Fripp’s Diary (07/18/12)

       

Depending on one’s POV, filtered through the prisms of experience (history), environment & heredity, distancing oneself from "the bombastic excesses of prog rock" is not as simple a positioning for those bands (and there are many not having experienced the qualified "success" of King Crimson) that find themselves uncomfortably lumped together under the umbrella of a genre ("tag") that, for certain individuals, has so many embarrassing connotations (for us, however, being in such a tight confine with KC affords the occasional opportunity of brushing up against the hem of their garments--always a special treat as inevitably there is an osmotic transfer of some musical blessing accompanying this coincidence).  

Granted, KC doth defy easy categorization.  Its various incarnations do, on the other hand, (depending on the specific "edition" of the various ensembles that sported the KC moniker) share certain characteristics with many bands of the "progressive" (a word, btw, that fundamentally means "moving forward"---are there worse insults to be endured by these misunderstood artists?) ilk (an "ilk" characterized by some or all of the following: mellotrons, atypical instrumentalization merged with the usual guitars, bass, keys & drums; a facility with and music played in time signatures other than 3/4 and 4/4, songs often longer than 3:30 in duration, obtuse lyrical pontification, a tendency for the team to be in accord with their creative impulses/muse(s), personalities misconstrued/or accurately identified as "inflated," high-water bell bottom pants, guitarists who sit down when they perform, infinite sustain, audiences doomed to be chastised for myriad inconsiderations, double standards, a tendency for the material to never go out of print for very long along with other various and sundry pretensions...ad infinitum and ad nauseam (i.e. endlessly and to a seemingly ridiculous degree). 

Alas, how difficult it must have been for the first man (Adam) to find it necessary to distinguish himself from all of the other creatures/animals (formerly of The Garden of Eden) by naming them (placing them into "categories")--when prior to the inevitable "fall" every creature/inanimate object was (and remains) ONE (felix culpa=happy fall;  it is “happy” in that undifferentiated consciousness, now differentiated, provides the opportunity for each of us to freely place ourselves in accord with the “divine” will—or not).  The Crimsos, therefore (via the virtues of fortitude, persistence, idiosyncratically superb musicking along with an uncanny sense of timing), enjoy the privileged psychological position in which the tension of the opposites are held in “choice-less awareness,” thus distancing themselves from the Prog genre while simultaneously continuing to enjoy the benefits of being associated with this musical genre (e.g. album/download sales/media pestering/highly profiled), largely provided by a fan(atic) base that, more often than not, includes KC as a band of  that genre ("for M. Comte de la Fere it is too little; for Athos it is too much."-Alexander Dumas). 

For those of us who are/were unable to negotiate ourselves into the right place at the right time, the existence of this genre is fortuitous in that, in a "fallen" world where all is sliced up and labeled, there is an unlikely (and somewhat cramped) psychological and artistic landscape where we belong and are not relegated to invisibility; and this is in the realm of the progressive.  Prog is NOT rock, not country, not jazz, not classical, gypsy, folk, klezmer, nor is it twee or bluegrass, although it may contain elements of all or some of the aforementioned arbitrarily identified categories of music/art. Enough of this... Viva la Prog!!!!!!!!!

On May 12, 2012 we posted (on the DGMlive.com Forum) an abbreviated edition of a January “Wie geht’s?” tirade documenting how proactive we have been in the promotion of OHO’s Okinawa beginning with its vinyl release in July of 1974 vis-a–vis the exact opposite attitude from the industry side of the equation.  Jbanks posted his/her obliviation about this:       

Ethical Record Companies
 

:: Posted by jbanks on May 15, 2012: “Oh my. It is embarrassing when anonymous artists drunk-post.”

This, of course, prompted our response:

Ethical Record Companies (Reprise)


:: Posted by garbonzo on May 22, 2012: “Curious to understand the exact text/rhetoric in Garbonzo’s 05/12/15 Ethical Record Company post that lead Jbanks on 05/15/12 to arbitrarily identify it as "embarrassing" and to assume that its author was inebriated at the time of the post?  I have been in the company of many who have over-imbibed and rarely, if ever, encountered one as articulate and lucid as ‘Garbonzo’ (either vocally or even less frequently, in writing--the only grammatical/spelling mistake discovered was the contraction "Who’s" when the author likely meant "whose") in communicating his/her specific experiences with companies that present themselves one way, yet behave in quite another.  The pseudonym, Garbonzo, (aside from the fact that it is not a "household" name) is as anonymous as the monikers "Sting," "Slash, "Drumbo," "Snakefinger" or "Flea" & the suggestion here is that one’s ‘real’ name is as irrelevant to the point of the expose as say the name, Van Gogh (his REAL name), was while he was alive, only marginally known to the art world of his time, and perhaps having only sold one or two paintings.  Sadly, he was unable to stay alive long enough to have cognizance that his work provoked (& continues to provoke) the fierce historical and aesthetic response that it has since his untimely demise.”

& this brings us to the-about-to-(we-hope)-get-resolved-dilemma-of-the-restocking-of-OHO-cd’s-at-mail-order-sites-that-have-had-success-in-selling-them-and-this-after-almost-2-years.  Please peruse the following sequence of correspondence on this issue.

 From: jgraboski

To: dgm

Sent: Thu, Jun 7, 2012 2:28 pm

Subject: OHO Okinawa

 

“…has been on backorder for way over a year now…WAY unacceptable!  Please re-order this disc NOW from http://us.mg4.mail.yahoo.com/neo/www.rockadrome.com at the

wholesale price. & YES, just like persons who order from the DGM shop, you’ll have to pay for them up front.  Thanks!-Jay (OHO)”

 DGM reply:

“I have ordered it numerous times.....no problem paying up front.  They have never sent it.” -DGM

 

To: Rockadrome

Subject: OHO Okinawa/3rd Request

 

“Has this problem been taken care of yet?  You DO know that the OHO CD is selling out at this site, don't you?  See below. I did EVERYTHING I could do to promote this CD.  The least you can do is supply the on-line merchants who have had success in selling it. -Jay”

 Rockadrome reply:

 “Jay,

Yep, they've been shipped already last week. I don't know about them ‘ordering it already several times’, but, in any case, it's been taken care of now and already shipped. Thanks, Rockadrome”

 Nevertheless as of 7:50 AM EST on August 13, 2012 Okinawa remains “backordered” at the DGMLive.com “shop.”  We are, however, inching toward attainment of our aim (of having the album actually available for purchase).  How difficult is this, really?  Yet, were a person to order a set of kitschy refrigerator magnets, s/he would have them the day after tomorrow.  Go figure.

 The good (great?) news is that of late the team is very active in all realms of its purview, especially as regards live performance.  The OHO trio (David, Ray & Jay) recently performed their version of the Let It Be rooftop concert at Taylor Reeve’s graduation (from Temple University—congrats!) celebration and plans a rare live appearance in Towson, MD on August 31st (with guest artists Lisa Griffee and Matt Graboski).

 All Eyes on

OHO 

 Jay Graboski, David Reeve & Ray Jozwiak

(with special guests Lisa Griffee & Matt Graboski)

Friday, August 31, 2012@ 9:00PM On The Patio 

at

Bread & Circuses Bistro

27 E. Chesapeake Avenue

Towson, MD  21286

410-337-5282 FREE 410-337-5282 

 http://bandcbistro.com/

 Lisa, Ray and Jay have performed, as members of inspirational band Mystic I, both as a duo and a quartet at a number of CSL (Center for Spiritual Living--Science of Mind) services and related functions (specifically a Beatles’ themed after-service soiree and bayside at a Middle River crab feast).  Mystic I will soon visit Bill Pratt’s “The Bratt Studio” to work on the band’s recording of “Love Is All,” a beautiful song composed largely by Kirsten Smith with the additional lyrical, rhythmic and musical contributions of Lisa Griffee, Ted Staley, Ray Jozwiak & Jay respectively.

 Jay, as of 04/01/12 (April Fool’s Day), is proud to be bassist in El Sledge (+) And… may likely perform at “a festival in Silver Spring, MD with the tentative date of September 15th (Saturday) at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, it's kinda like charm city art space.  This will be my biggest show there to date, it will have at least 7 bands and I want to have indoor and outdoor performance areas. And I want El Sledge + to play on the big stage outside. This event is still in the planning phase, but it will most likely be a 5 dollar cover and we will be trying to give as much money to the bands as possible, in particular you guys and any other bands who come from further away. The show will probably run from 5 in the afternoon until whenever the fuck it's done.  Let us know if y'all are down!”  News at eleven.  Also, the band’s new album collaboratively co-produced with Island Styles, Doom, is very close to completion.  Next on their studio agenda: a studio recreation/recording of their Last Night at Fletcher’s CD.  Playing with Matt and Steve is a blast and somewhat of a challenge.  Much more is at http://airaidrecords.com.

 Artist Connell continues to paint guitars and prepare items for a display window dedicated to his work at an “antiques” store in Berlin, Md. (more info forthcoming on this next time).

 Jay continues to blast out his “Ocean City Ditty” every time his Beetle enters the O.C. city limits. 

OHO & out.

 

June-July 2012  

“Connell, whose “Summer” illustration graces OHO’s UP CD cover and its accompanying promotional poster, is one of 3 finalists chosen from a worldwide pool of submissions for this year’s (2006) IMA Awards’ “Design” category.  The Independent Music Awards are sponsored by The Musician’s Atlas.  Connell’s art will be considered by a celebrity panel including Norah Jones and George Clinton.  Good luck and thanks for allowing us to present our products wrapped up with your powerful art.” –J. Graboski (11/06 What’s Up?)

 “The cover art for "UP" hints at artist Connell Byrne's mural-painting background, with a busy composition that includes many whimsical surprises, such as a squid hovering among a fleet of hot air balloons and a line of Easter Island-style sculptural heads. It's a bright, sun-drenched beach piece, and yet another example of Byrne's stylistic schizophrenia.  Byrne can adapt his techniques to suit his subject.” Jessica Bowers ( Baltimore City Paper)

  “Apocalyptic literature is not a detailed prediction of the future or an invitation to withdraw from the concerns of the world.  It is a wake-up call, one that uses intensely poetic language and imagery to sharpen our sense of God’s presence in and promise for the world.  ‘Apocalypse’ comes from the Greek for ‘uncovering’ or ‘revealing,’ which makes it a word about possibilities.  And while uncovering something we would just as soon keep hidden is a frightening prospect, the point of apocalypse is…to think about ‘next year country’(the future) in a way that sanctifies our lives here and now.  It is the task of apocalypse to strip masks away, to do away with pretense.  There is always hurt in apocalyptic literature; it addresses a threatened, marginal community—the members of which are best qualified to judge the quality of hope—and the healing power of apocalypse.  Apocalypse is meant to bring us to our senses, allowing us a sobering, and usually painful, glimpse of what is possible in the new life we build from the ashes of the old.  At the end of John’s Revelation we find justice restored and a God who comes to be with those who have suffered the most in a cruel, unjust and violent world.  A God who does not roar and strut like the ultimate dictator, but who gently ‘wipes away all tears from their eyes’” –Kathleen Norris (US News & World Report, December 15, 1997)

 “A histrionic Connell Patrick Byrne, striving for King Crimson cosmos, instead plows into Alice Cooper plumes.  These funhouse impasto plastic-mystic renderings whirl with Spinal Tap energy.” (JL)  “What we've got here is that most sincere and charming form of hallucinogenic-type art--it's supposed to make you think hard about big things like destiny and extinction and rainforests and humanity and stuff.  A mind really is a terrible thing to waste.” (EI) J. Livingston & E. Istwan (RADAR .7)

 On June 7, 2012 I interviewed our friend and artist, Connell Byrne at the El Salto restaurant in Towson .  June 7 is a significant date in the OHO annals in that two former members (one died in 1982, the other deserted in 1990) celebrate(d) birthdays on this date.  Jeff (OHO drummer from 1974-1976), had he lived, would be 59; Grace (OHO vocalist from 1985-1990), & who probably is living (or at least, “undead”--had she expired my hunch is that none of her mourners possessed the wherewithal to drive a stake through her heart, just to make sure), likely began her 51st year of life on this date. 

 Connell’s current artistic adventure/experiment involves his painting musical instruments.  We have a couple of these beauties (a Larivee acoustic travel guitar and an Epiphone “Mandobird”) hanging on two living room walls at “Graboski by the Sea” in Ocean City , MD.  The prototype hangs at the ready in my bedroom at our Catonsville casa and is proudly displayed (behind representatives of 3 generations of the Graboski family: Jay, Matt and Delilah Grace) on page 44 of the August 2012 edition of Vintage Guitar magazine. 

 Anyone who has guitars, fiddles, mandolins et al should consider having Connell transform the ordinary into the fantastically awesome and, depending on the condition of the instrument and the themes or images you want to manifest, at a fair and negotiable price.  All are encouraged to visit his galleries at www.pbase.com/connellart and/or contact him at Connellart@verizon.net.  What follows is an edited transcription of Connell’s language during that lunchtime conversation.

 “I have (artistic) categories like this: one would be--I do supernatural paintings, not that they’re supernatural in the way we think about it with ghosts and spirits and things; but that I think all nature is supernatural because of its origin.  So all the amazing things that happen in nature I think are supernatural.  I used to work with a painter and we used to joke and say ‘nature is so unnatural,’ because if I had to plan it out it would look a lot different, and that’s good…or is crazy. 

 Another category would be what I call ‘Apocalypse in a Teacup’ where I deal with apocalyptic themes—not so much as the end of the world, but in revealing something about the nature of the world we already live in that should be paid attention to so you can rise above it, or avoid it or just be illuminated by it.  In that category you’ll see a lot of paintings from the bible (e.g. Ezekiel, Isaiah, and The Book of Revelations).  I like investing those pictures with a really symbolic, kind of diagram-like, map-like quality so you can render the individual symbols out to get to the bottom of the meaning of the image.

“I really like bright color.  For some reason my retinal patterns really are stimulated by it; so I like using it.  I don’t do many muddy pictures, although I do if it really needs to be.  I choose my colors by starting out with the first main color that’s going to be featured in the work; and then, basically, everything there builds upon the last color I use.  I want all the colors I use to be in a relationship with each other that works for my eye.

 “There was recently a time when I was kind of creatively dry.  There wasn’t a new idea and the other stuff seemed boring and I really wasn’t accomplishing anything; and then my good friend, who I’ve known for many years and have been an artistic nuisance to, Jay Gabrowski (sic) called and said, “Hey Connell, I thought about you painting this guitar for me but I have no money,” which is usually at the end of everything that Jay says.  The idea of painting a guitar was always in my mind but no one had actually ever given me a guitar to paint.  

 “A couple days later the guitar shows up and now I have to put something on it.  So we talked about his thematic ideas and from there I just went in my own direction and painted it how I thought it should be done; and luckily he liked it. 

 “The cool thing about the guitar painting is that I’ve been painting on rectangles and squares for my whole life.  This was a whole different shape.  It was a compositional challenge to paint on that odd shape of a guitar; and I have the sides and the back to deal with sometimes; and also the compositional challenge of it often needing to be seen from a distance, especially if it’s a playable guitar, or if it’s just one of those junk guitars you have lying around that I put artwork on—you just hang it on the wall and there you go.  So it was kind of a challenge and exciting that somebody said, “Hey, I want your thing on my guitar.  So I did my thing on the guitar and it turned out alright.  So I’ve just been trying to build up a collection of samples… and experience.

 “I always liked the idea of merging something that’s ‘high art’ to something that’s everyday useful: something that people put in their houses, that doesn’t take up too much room: the smaller art that’s compatible to people’s homes is something that you can not only sell but something that people would be interested in having, which is always good.  People like the paintings but it’s not practical; so I’ve made it practical, especially if you’re playing the thing.  But even if you’re not you have this decorative piece that people look to put in their homes, besides paintings on the wall.  It’s got a ‘conversational piece’ aspect to it.  And I haven’t prostituted myself any because I put my image, hand-painted my image on a different shape, on a different object so a canvas isn’t any more esteemed than an old guitar body—in fact, an old guitar body is sometimes cheaper.

 “I have been interested in performance art and I’ve done a couple things in my day: but not to that level (Jay mentioned how musician/artist Joseph Arthur often paints during his live performances).  I do my best work by myself at my drafting table with my brushes and paint with nobody staring over my shoulders and maybe I just haven’t thought of the right gimmick.  I am not an abstract expressionist by any means.  I have to plan out all the brush stokes is the way I work.  I am not against throwing paint on a canvas but it would have to be an accent to the piece, as opposed to the main idea.  It would likely have to be an image as a gesture.  If you looked through my portfolio it would have to be a whole thing which I haven’t cracked yet.  I think about it a lot.  Someday the light will go on and I’ll say, ‘Why didn’t I think of this sooner?’

 “I’d like to paint from behind the painting and I have a couple ideas about how this would work.  It has something to do with black lights and fluorescent paint and a confetti gun.  I’d have to do a large scale experiment where I could find some nice abstract image from nature that I could quasi interpret. 

 “I failed miserably at guitar lessons and so I’m like eleven or ten and my mom’s trying desperately to find something that will interest her poor child who seems to have so much imaginative energy but no place to funnel it to.  I had always been doodling and doing coloring books so I guess, I asked for the guitar lessons because, you know, who doesn’t want to play the guitar and be one of The Beatles? 

 “My mother eventually found this artist in Towson ( Maryland ) who was giving painting lessons, mostly to middle-aged, married women.  It was high detail street scenes…wildlife scenes…oil paint with a special kind of Italian medium mixed in with the paint.  She was really patient with me.  I did some paintings and fell in love with painting and from there just did it on my own.  Since then I moved to acrylic paint since I don’t like the toxicity or the smell and clean-up procedure of oils.  I can paint for 5 minutes, clean the brush out, leave it and come back 5 minutes later when what I did has dried and I can continue on.  With oils, you can’t do that.  So then I just started painting on my own.  I tried to go to art school for a little while.  My teacher once told me that I was un-teachable.

 “When I was in high I school I was addicted to reading the novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs.  It’s a tragedy that they still haven’t made a good movie of one of his things.  Anyway, having said that, the illustrations in a lot of the books were done by a guy named Frank Risetta who was an amazing oil painter and figure painter, an imaginative science fiction illustrator.  I thought this guy’s paintings were really cool and at first I thought maybe I’d emulate them; but I really didn’t have the technique to do that.  What I really brought away from this guy was he’s painting really for fun mostly and, I was figuring, what he liked.  He wasn’t dying to go to work everyday and paint something he hated, it didn’t seem to me.  There was too much fun in his paintings.  So that’s a good goal: to figure out what you want to paint, and paint that.  People are painting what they want to paint, although I didn’t make the money he did in the illustrative world, he inspired me. 

 “I always like M.C. Escher and his engravings…really imaginative stuff.  From a psychological standpoint he just takes you to that other world of possibilities.   He’s got his whole engraving process that to me is like a nightmare.  Salvador Dali, of course, and the king of the painters, Vincent Van Gough—the guy was just an awesome painter just because he was the most honest with the materials.  He painted the painting like he was painting with a brush and paint and there’s just no trickery involved.  It’s just brush strokes.  It’s too much.  I like trying some of his techniques here and there but I think because I saw his work at ten or eleven years of age.  I was probably flabbergasted by it, even though it was just a panting of sunflowers.  I kind of remember standing in front of it, thinking something that really blew my young mind. 

 “Anyone out there in the listening audience who has a guitar that is just lying around that they don’t want any more, I’ll take.  If you have a guitar that you want me to paint, you’ll have to get in touch with me (Connellart@verizon.net) and we’ll work something out.  I’ve done six or seven of them now.  I’m always open to refuse any suggestion.  Often people come up with suggestions that spark some inspiration and then, I take it from there.  If you look at the rest of my work and like it then we can pretty much agree on the 5 or 6 styles that I do.  Any information the client can give me is good because it gives me more to work on inspirationally. 

 “It would definitely be cool to have some guitar builder interested in having a line of Connellart guitars, whether or not they are acoustic or electric.  The electric stuff is going to be less objective art and more abstract, nature patterns.  I love, doing the research for the one I did paint, you’ve got zebras, tigers, and all this stuff in the plant world that you get close-ups of and you just render the pattern out of there.  The one’s I’ve seen people actually play have the pattern.  The pattern can include maybe one object; but doing an electric guitar (unlike the acoustic), there’s usually just not enough room to pull that kind of composition off.  We’ve said enough…too much.”  OHO and out.

 

April-May 2012

 “People are made of sound.  It is through listening that you become a true human, and a true human is a listener who is constantly attuned by working with everything that is happening.” (Joseph Rael, “Being and Vibration”)

 “Music of the 21st century should be multi-faceted, exposing the contemporary architecture of the Western soul through disjunct and heterogeneous juxtaposition.”

(Andrew Keeling, “In the Shadow”)

 “I can’t stand guitar solos anymore.  The whole guitar slinger thing hasn’t interested me since Jimi Hendrix.  It meant a lot to me as a kid to see how rebellious that was and how liberated his spirit was.  Hendrix, Page and Dylan weren’t worried about guitar technique at all.  They were all about symbolism, freedom and real rebellion.  Today, the iconography of the electric guitar is gone.  Now a guitar is no more rebellious than a golf club.” (Chris Whitley, 2004)

 Soul is the imaginative possibility in our nature which recognizes all realities as purely symbolic.  It makes meaning possible, turns and deepens events into experiences, is communicated in love, has a religious concern and special relation with death.”

(Archetypal psychologist and Jungian analyst, James Hillman—JH presented “a mythopoetic perspective on the psyche and centered the soul, its images and its logic at the heart of psychological investigation.  By emphasizing imagination over ‘the unconscious,’ images over concepts and multiple psychic persons over the self, Hillman developed Jung’s notion of ‘sticking to the image’ into a richly imaginal phenomenological approach to psyche.”)

“Shake my left hand, man, it’s closer to my heart.”(Jimi Hendrix to Robert Fripp, May 14, 1969)

Trixy

Kraig taking receipt of his teardrop guitar at the K&T factory in Dickeyville, MD sometime during the 1980's. (photo by luthier, John Thurston)

 “Hola Senor Jay! I have some info about many of the guitars we built (construction dates, for example) but not the kind of details you have asked about. I will do my best from memory. We made the guitar for Kraig in '82 or '83. It was his idea for the Vox look and I think he wanted the cut-out area at the base of the neck so he could access the high notes. At the time I think we were using DiMarzio pickups but you would have to pull the p/u's from the guitar to confirm this. The switch you're describing is probably a phase switch but, again, a close look at it would confirm. I don't recall the controls being reversed but here's the cool part: I have a photo of Kraig with the guitar on the day he picked it up. You'll be able to see exactly how the guitar looked.  I'll hunt up the picture and send you a scan tonite.  Hope all is well in B'more with you and your family. Life here in the Great Republic of Texas is a total hoot!”  --John (Thurston)

 When (Orange Wedge, Trixy & The Testones, Razor, Blue Car, The Accused, The Weaszels & Riff) guitarist Kraig Krixer passed away in January 2011, while in process of divesting myself of much of my musical equipment, it did not occur to me then but Kraig’s estate included his arsenal of electric guitars, including a rare Dan Armstrong, clear, acrylic guitar (with a pair of interchangeable humbucking and single coil pickups), vintage Gibson Firebird and Les Paul guitars, his go-to customized Fender Telecaster AND a K(unst) & T(hurston) white, 60s era, Vox-inspired, “teardrop” shaped solid body guitar, fashioned and constructed by John Thurston to Kraig’s specifications during the 1980’s.  As one’s enthusiasm in certain endeavors waxes and wanes over time, it wasn’t until the following September that I decided to ring up his brother Cris and ask if he still had any of Kraig’s guitars and would he be consider parting with any of them. 

 Luckily for me everything had been sold except for the K&T teardrop and his trusty black Telecaster, the very instruments I was interested in.  Kraig had played his solos for both OHO’s “Ethiopia” and “Change in the Wind” (Audition, UP) using this guitar (I also played this same Telecaster for my guitar parts on the latter 1985, contest-winning recording that graced the soundtrack of the award winning film, Edge of 17).  A fair price was negotiated (Cris, in fact, took less than was offered for the pair) and JG is now the fortunate custodian of these two extremely cool guitars.  In fact, I am playing them both for all songs performed “live” in the OST (standard tuning), a Rick Turner Renaissance guitar is employed for all songs played in the N(ew) S(tandard) T(uning), C-G-D-A-E-G from the lowest to highest strings.

 The action on this black Telecaster is low (w/o rattle or buzz) with a buttery feel.  It is very easy to play and holds its tuning better than most of my guitars.  It IS rather heavy but one trades a temporary aching neck/back for the seemingly infinite sustain this axe generates.  There is a humbucker in the neck position and a nasty sounding Fender stock single-coil near the bridge. Kraig reversed the standard positions of the tone and volume controls to suit his idiosyncratic approach to the electric guitar.  The latter knob was installed in reverse (i.e. volume is increased in a counter-clockwise motion) so as to more easily facilitate volume swells with the pinky finger.  There’s a phase altering switch that supplies two additional tone possibilities in both the middle and bridge positions. A controversial brass SS Totenkopf is bolted to the top of the guitar body, just behind the bridge.  (By way of footnote, the suggestion here is not to confuse the symbol with its reference (this is called “concretization”) as the connotation is intended to be w/o “+” or  “-“ historical charge and rather more musical (e.g. “Death Metal”… more to evoke a sense of power and lava-like tone rather than the negativity usually associated with the SS, an elite unit formed to “shield” and protect Third Reich assholes.)

 Kraig autographed the back of this guitar with his initials.  I repainted the metal pick guard in a flat black and replaced the chrome knobs and plates with black replacement parts.  Kraig’s “stick” is now MY go-to electric guitar.

 The white, K&T “teardrop” was delivered with an identical set-up.  It is a Telecaster with a different shape.  To distinguish the guitar from a typical Vox-styled teardrop, Kraig designed a small cutaway on the guitar’s underside to more readily facilitate access to the guitar’s higher register, to an area of the neck where audients might witness Kraig’s nimble finger work.  I engaged local luthier, Nick Anthony, to customize this “stick” for my purposes by having a Stetsbar tremolo system and Lindy Fralin bridge pick-up installed (the phase switch is now an on/off switch).  I remember (at the age of 15) seeing Brian Jones play a teardrop with the Rolling Stones back in 1965 and had wanted one of these for four decades.  Thank you, Kraig; now I have one.  These two “gifts” are imbued with Kraig’s spirit and I sense an osmotical and incremental absorbtion of some of his “mojo” (magic—this being qualitative rather than quantitative means that a little bit of magic is equivalent to a ginormous amount).  Some things are incorruptible.    

 Random visits to DGMlive.com continue to indicate that (as of May 13, 2012) the OHO Okinawa CD remains “on backorder” instead of flying off the shelf at its previous modest yet steady pace into the hands of tens of potential fans worldwide.  Will anyone claim responsibility for this continued negligence?  How will the OHO CD’s sell if they are not available at “ethical” on-line shops where the historical evidence suggests a small yet significant demand?  Furthermore, how can this music even be considered as offered unless the CD’s are actually ordered & stocked by these ethical on-line merchants?  The ridiculum continues.

 While we are keying of the wide spectrum of ridiculousness in the independent music industry, we have unwittingly engaged in yet another seemingly ironic, topsy-turvy method of getting one’s music out into the universe (in this instance, through the acquisition of new fans).  How?  By requesting one’s distributor (in this case: CD Baby) to no longer offer a CD for sale at their site & to altogether eradicate its item page.  As this album is now considered by us to be stained with the taint of the current degenerative dissociation with (at least) two former band members, we requested that CD Baby dispose of the unsold copies, avoiding the handling and shipping costs for their return, thus ending our association in the promotion of this record with finality. 

 The CD in question had been on offer at CD Baby since the spring of 2005 and despite glowing reviews, it sold (over a 5 year period) a total of 8 copies (8 out of a thousand—the balance of 800+ CDs were donated to US armed service personnel overseas through Operation Gratitude in 2007).

 Upon receiving an email from a CD Baby rep urging us to maintain our page, we found it simultaneously interesting, mildly amusing (as well as a bit sad) that, prior to their being so dispatched, he had opened and played one of the discs, discovering that he loved Dark Side’s music.  I asked him if he didn’t think it strange that, if not for this request (motivated by our rancor, disappointment & the wish to scrape the last bits of dog sh*t from the crevices of our metaphorical sneakers), he would likely have never been made aware of our snappy quartet (also at various times a trio, a quintet, a sextet, a septet and an octet).  He had to agree but requested (& obtained) our permission to freely share the balance of the unsold copies with acquaintances of similar penchant, rather than trashing them.  He thanked me, said he would make this so and voila!  Another fan materializes out of thin air. 

 Independent record companies aspire to be in the business of marketing sonic “plastic ware” (and now more prominently, computer music files) embedded with binary digits, that when optically read morph into sound waves that vibrate eardrums, evoke myriad feelings that run the entire emotional gamut, and sometimes cause our spirits to soar. 

 As we see it, one way to encourage the remaining OHO music from the mid-70s be released (& I am imagine this as a loaded 4-CD boxed set: disc #1, Okinawa, disc #2, Vitamin OHO & the studio tracks from Ecce OHO, disc#3, Dream of the Ridiculous Band with 35 minutes of choice live material, and disc#4, Crucifixion Lust {80 minutes of Paul Rieger 4-track recordings and what we were working on at the time of the band’s demise in early 1977 for the aborted OHO House project}, would be for Rockadrome to sell out of (fingers are crossed) & perhaps re-press Okinawa.  The boxed set has a miniscule chance of materialization (unless, of course, we make this happen on our own…also possible, but unlikely); but in the early glow of enthusiasm for OHO music, the label owner and I did speak of the possibility of next releasing something akin to 2002’s Recollections (this record accompanied issue #28 of Progression magazine), a single CD (sans the Okinawa selections) comprised of choice selections from Vitamin OHO, Ecce OHO and Dream of the Ridiculous Band.  Stranger things have happened.  OHO and out.

 


 

February—March 2012

 “Feel the ‘latino’ inside you!” (anonymous New York fan after Giants’ XLVI Super Bowl victory, likely in reference to the performance of Victor Cruz in that championship match)  Also, this is the best encapsulation of the gist of OHO’s “Live and Long To Be Latin” that we’ve come across to date.

 “I don’t play the blues because I do not have the blues.” –Jon Anderson (Yes), Inner Views interview

 ”The Great Tone is the tone of being or, as the Indians put it, the tone of the self, of the ‘Atma’.  The Great Tone is ‘Nada Brahma’, the tone from which God made the world, which continues to sound at the bottom of creation, and which sounds through everything.  In Latin the term meaning ‘to sound through something’ is ’personare’.  Thus, at the basis of the concept of the person (the concept of that which really makes a human being an unmistakable, singular per-sonality) stands a concept of sound: ‘through the tone’.” (From “The World is Sound: Music & the Landscape of Consciousness“

--Joachim-Ernst Berendt.)

 Tone therefore, occurs when notes “ring in rightness.”  Brian May epitomizes this as he achieves the creamy sustained, violin-like lead tones we love so much from so many of the progressive guitarists over the years, applying it masterfully in Queen’s pop/prog context earning them acclaim and dollars.

 Mr. May has licensed his signature to a number of amps and devices presented as replicating his unique tones while building specific parameters into these amps and effects that facilitate the sounding of those very tones as well as those idiosyncratically arrived at by a host of other players, including this one. 

 OHO uses 2 of these: the no longer commercially available Brian May Special 10 watt Vox VBM1combo amp (a Deacy amp—invented by Queen bassist, John Deacon—for the masses), & a Digitech “Red Special” effects pedal.  Find out more about both at: (www.brianmanycentral.net/digitechreview.html or www.brianmaycentral.net/guitjul03.html).

 While the latter features tweak-able, facsimile tones modeled after those used for specific Queen hits, the former is my favorite of the two and playing through this amp (directly into engineer Bill Pratt’s computer) during the OHO Bricolage CD sessions (2003-08) on “Burning Grey,” “Penultimatum,” & “Moon Draw Your Curtain”) yielded a colorful and wide-ranging palette of rather nasty and/or mellifluously pleasing tones.  A bit bigger than a lunch box (portability is thus implied here as I have used it often, plugging it directly into a PA system via a budget direct box, in live performance situations usually with the Mystic I band using both acoustic/electric guitars and while traveling), the 6.5” speaker can be mic’d, input directly or employed as a pre-amp for fidelities projected through larger speakers, bolstered by the increased wattage of more powerful rigs.  One disappointment is that, lacking a footswitch input to facilitate choosing between clean and the more saturated tones “on the fly,” the player is forced to interrupt her/his fingered flow in order to push this tiny switch (typically dialed to one’s taste using the “gain” & “tone” knobs) in and out during performances.  

 In the studio environment, however, it honorably meets a myriad of sonic challenges, especially when layering overdubbed guitar tracks in harmony.  And, when aiming at seemingly infinite note duration by dexterous finger vibrato or via either a “sustainor” pickup (e.g. Fernandes) or an E-Bow, sustain is guaranteed for as long as the guitarist or device holds/vibrates the note, or for as long as the 9-volt battery provides sufficient juice.  Furthermore, there are no tubes to worry about failing and/or replace.  Nevertheless tube-like tone manifests.  Purchased for about “a buck and a quarter” back in aught 3, consider it a value when compared with what many “boutique” tube amplifier builders charge today for their low-wattage combos.      

 “Brian’s signature sound emanates from Vox AC30 amps.  These are British 30-watt Class A tube combo amps with two 12” speakers.  He uses at least two in the studio and six on stage.  He adds a hand-made treble booster. A single-stage preamp that is always on, to punch up the gain and overdrive, cut the bass and increase the level by about 10db.  As an alternative, he occasionally plugs into a small custom-made (by Queen bassist John Deacon) transistor amp for particular ‘orchestral’ sounds.” (Wolf Marshall, Vintage Guitar, March ’12)

In 1970 I purchased a huge EMC amplifier from accordionist Giuseppe Noto who owned a music store in Govans, a north Baltimore, MD neighborhood.  The speaker cabinet housed 2 15” speakers and a high frequency horn.  Being a simple and, stacked up against today’s standards, primitive transistor amp without any other compensations to facilitate a sound that would “break up” when pushing its volume (a master volume or any built it overdrive effect), this amplifier was merely loud, and stridently so.  That is, sans any intervening effect pedals (fairly expensive for one carrying a 12 hour undergraduate course load at Towson State College while working as a stock clerk full-time at TOPPS department store, a precursor of Walmart, during the 2:00 to 10:00 PM shift) increased volume gave one access to only very loud bassy, mid-rangy and trebly clean tones.  (On the other hand, this amp was applied efficaciously during the mid 1970’s as it faithfully reproduced the sounds of the band’s various analog keyboards: Wurlitzer and RMI electric pianos, Hohner Clavinet, Panther organ, Arp Odyssey synthesizer and even a Mellotron without any unwanted distortion.  OHO btw are listed in the appendix of known users of this instrument in Frank Samagaio’s “The Mellotron Book” ).

To mollify the harshness of this solid state amp, I used my father’s Voice of Music reel-to-reel tape recorder’s tube-powered, low-wattage, speaker satellite as a pre-amp to the EMC power head and its two 15” speakers/high frequency horn enclosure.  This provided a tone similar to what I now attain via the VBM1 lunchbox amp and with sufficient volume to play in our 1969 power trio, Himalaya (former Cheaumonts’ bass player Tim Baker, Jeff Graboski on drums and me).  A year later it was a tube powered Bogen PA head in a home made cabinet with 15” speakers in the first phase of Little Hans; then I obtained a pre-CBS Fender Super Reverb amp, used in both Little Hans and in early OHO.    

During the mid 1960’s Vox manufactured a series of tone “boosters” (fuzz, treble and bass--all without any gradation/equalization control) with ¼” connectors that plugged directly into one’s amplifier (in this instance, a Silvertone 2-12” piggy-back purchased at Sears during the summer of 1965).  The instrument’s cord was plugged into this device to complete the chain.  The “wet” effect, engaged by flipping a DPDT (double-pole, double-throw) on/bypass switch, was either off or on; and as with the saturation button on the aforementioned VBM1, this move was manually achieved. 

I remember these effects as being fairly expensive, so after talking to my father about my wish for a fuzz effect (the Stones’ “Satisfaction” was often heard blaring out of our Heathkit portable radio all that summer promoting it), I’m guessing he simply wrote the Vox corporation a letter conveying he had purchased a distortion booster that had arrived in a non-working condition and, as he was an electrician (his facility dealing creatively with electricity being one among his many useful talents), would Vox please send a copy of the unit’s schematic so he could investigate the problem independently with the aim of restoring the unit’s functionality.  (I really don’t know how he cajoled the company into forking over these diagrams; but he was in the defense industry.  Perhaps he put forward some convincing pretext to develop a pre-emptive, attack fuzz guitar squadron.) As if magically, 4 to 6 weeks later the schematics for all three boosters (fuzz, treble & bass) arrived at our 1264 Meridene Drive, Baltimore MD “row” home.

My father worked as an electrical engineer most of his adult life and during this era at a defense industry facility located in Gaithersburg, MD, a DC suburb.  This complex included a metalwork shop and Dad applied his influence to convince a craftsperson there to fashion aluminum housings for the devices into which he would install his custom made, “knock-off” circuit boards (parts likely purchased from either of two nearby Bainesville or Lafeyette electronics stores).  Aside from being somewhat larger than their Vox counterparts, the overall appearance was similar, with the sounds being (to my untrained ear) identical.  Shortly he carried them home where they were successfully tested and (voila!) put to efficacious use: “Look at me, Mama, I’m makin’ some noise!” (Tom Petty)

My first guitar was a nylon string Spanish guitar my father traded for a nickel (he was a numismatic) on a trip to Mexico when our family lived in Ontario, CA (1962-64).  I had no idea what a truss rod was, not realizing that classical guitars did not have them, and in this ignorance replaced the nylon strings with metal strings, the tension of which so stressed/bowed the guitar neck to the (disap)point where it became unplayable.  I also attempted to amplify this monster with a cheap DeArmond sound-hole pickup (also from the Lafayette electronics store) with very little success and mucho feeback. 

In the spring of 1965 my father sent me (while a high school freshman at Brunnerdale High School, a minor seminary in Canton, OH where we were being groomed as future priests/brothers in the Roman Catholic religious order, The Society of the Precious Blood) a top-of-the-line cherry sunburst, f-holed, semi-hollow body, double cutaway, Harmony electric guitar that I played in THA until the summer of 1968 when I received a white Fender Jaguar solid bodied electric.  This was followed by a Univox Les Paul copy in 1970 and then by a Gibson ES-335 (purchased from Procreation guitarist Drew Finn who btw introduced me to Genesis by way of their Trespass LP) that I played from 1972-75 when I moved on to a Gibson L6-S…thereafter guitars came and went in rapid succession, usually dependent on a fickle whim and my employment situation.

 Well, neither did we get around to keying about the two Kraig Krixer guitars that I am fortunate enough to have acquired from his estate through brother Cris, nor was I able to further address Connell Byrne’s new artistic enterprise of transforming bland instrument finishes into artwork.  To be continued…we intend to deal with both of these topics in the next “What’s Up?” entry.  In the meantime we encourage all to visit Connell’s site.

 Sometimes when visiting Connell’s galleries at www.pbase.com/connellart I experience “aesthetic arrest,” the pleasant psychological stasis that can occur when beholding a moving, divinely superfluous, inspired visual surprise.  Currently it’s a beautiful Larivee travel guitar transformed by Mr. Byrne into a “beach” guitar that, we pray, will soon hang in the living room at the “Graboski by the Sea” mobile home in Ocean City, MD. 

 Mr. J. Paul Rieger Jr. located the master tape for the Food for Worms 45 rpm 7” vinyl of that band’s only single “Another Crack In The Jaw” b/w “I Don’t Wanna Be President,” the sleeve sporting a drawing by Sue Newton, now Sue Concannon, of the Statue of Liberty holding a snub-nosed 38 to her own head.  (“Crack” being IMO another example of how just the right number of chefs, three in this case, make the best broth). 

 We delivered this borrowed tape to engineer Bill Pratt who brought forth from storage his Tascam 2-track reel-to-reel recorder to convert these masters to their digital equivalent and upgrade them using current state-of-the-art, project-studio technologies.  After auditioning the tapes Bill indicated their condition had not been compromised by time to the point where they required ”baking” prior to being delivered pristinely into to the digital realm as bits.

 Schlongtasm 29 at Joe Squared on 01/20/12 featuring El Sledge (+), Jason & The Butchers, OHO and Easy, Cowboy was a resounding and well-attended success.  It was great to meet again with our former 1989-90 soundperson and KZMU radio disc jockey, Steve Goodwin, in attendance during his visit here from Utah.  OHO (Ray, Dave & Jay) performed a short 5-song set with guest singers Lisa Griffee and Kelly Butcher.  On 02/01/12, again at Joe Squared, Ray & Jay interrupted (at his invitation) Matt Graboski’s dinner hour(s) set giving him a ½ hour respite while we reprised and added songs from our 01/20/12 set list that time constraints prevented us from then playing.

 Another internet Okinawa review straggler has revealed itself:  ”Whew! Housed in a bright pink digipack, this is a seriously WEIRD reissue (or not so seriously, 'cause it's pretty silly, but weird in any case). 30 tracks, 74 minutes of pure WTF, '70s style. A private press rarity from Baltimore, originally released in 1974, OHO's Okinawa is one of those obscure underground '70s artifacts that combine experimental prog, psych, and proto-punk into one trippy package. Deserving of whatever cult status it has, no doubt.

Some folks will be drawn to this for its garagey, manic energy and and shocking angular guitar action, but you gotta be able to deal with the gonzoid goofiness too. And unhinged vocals that even have a bit of Jello Biafra-like warble to 'em... though sometimes the singing is quite lovely, like at the outset of the song "A Frog For You", which features a chorus of voices sweetly intoning such lines as: "What's that on your face... it looks like shit... ", before some screaming begins, and someone yells, "Let's rock!", and indeed they do, (sarcastically?) channeling Chuck Berry/Jerry Lee Lewis, tossing in some Zeppish riffs too.

We'd have to assume that these musicians had some Frank Zappa and the Mothers records in their collections. But they avoid jazzy wank (though there are horns), and their hippy freak humor isn't as obnoxious as your typical Zappa fare. Less scatological, more surreal and non-sequitur. Song titles like "Ain't Life Dumb", "Brown Algae Is Attractive", "The Unfortunate Frankfurter Vendor", "Hairy Bag", "Chess Is Boring", "Fast Bananas", and "Pale Hippo" might give you some idea. Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd could be another inspiration for all this trippiness, they also kinda remind us of the Hampton Grease Band, Beefheart, and some of the wackier British prog acts of the ear.
This handsomely packaged, remastered reissue, includes a ton of bonus material recorded at the album sessions that wasn't included on the original release. We mentioned 30 tracks (some of them but brief interludes), only 16 actually appeared on the 1974 lp. But now that it's on cd, you get the entire extreme OHO Okinawa experience/overload as it was meant to be. It's acid-fried, theatrical, quite intentionally insane, and actually pretty amusing... plus prog and hard psych types will enjoy all the distorted guitar stabs and crazy changes. Fans of modern day, mathy indie pop acts like Heavy Vegetable might also dig.” (Aquariusrecords.org)

 Random visits to DGMlive.com continue to indicate that (as of March 8, 2012) OHO’s Okinawa CD remains “on backorder” instead of flying off the shelf at its modest pace into the hands of tens of potential fans worldwide.  Will anyone claim responsibility for this continued negligence?  OHO and out.

 

April 2011-January 2012

“In the collision of the personal and the impersonal, in the arena where language and silence touch, the possibility of art arises like flame.”--?

 “Man is concealed beneath his tongue; this tongue is the curtain over the door of the soul.  When a gust of wind has pushed aside the curtain, the secret of the interior of the house is disclosed (e.g. OHO’s “Where Have You Been?).  We see whether in that house there are pearls or grains of wheat, a treasure of gold, or all scorpions and snakes; or whether a treasure is there and a serpent beside it, since a treasure of gold is never without someone to keep watch.” –Mevlana Jelaludin Rumi

 “All that you are seeking is also seeking you.  If you sit still, it will find you.  It has been waiting for you a long time.  Once it is here, don’t move away.  Rest.  See what happens next?”-Clarissa Pinkola Estes

 “To let each impression and each embryo of a feeling come to completion, entirely in itself, in the dark, beyond the reach of understanding and with deep humility and patience to wait for the hour when a new clarity is born (OHO’s ‘It Will Not Be Late’ &’Antique Heart’): this alone is what it means to live as an artist: in understanding as in creating.  Being an artist means: not numbering and counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn’t force its sap and stands confidently in the storms of spring, not afraid…Patience is everything.”-Rilke

 “It takes years of training to know when to do nothing.” –Dilbert

 “The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life.  And the most important thing is—it must be something you cannot possibly do.” –Henry Moore

 After a 9 month (“The number ’9’ is the grain of the goddess.”-Joseph Campbell ”The Angelus” rings 9 times in order to remind us daily of  Mother Mary’s “Fiat mihi,” her loving response to an invitation to be the mediatrix through whom Christ consciousness enters into the minds/hearts of men/women.  The human gestatory period is nine months. ”Siberian shamans, at the climax of their initiation rites, climbed a birch {derived from a root meaning “bright” or “shining” in Indo-European languages} tree, circling its trunk nine times.” “Nine, nine, nine!”-Herman Cain) period during which this on-line diary remained silent, we’re back!  Why silent?  Musically speaking, it was outwardly largely an uneventful period and we really had nothing to say and therefore, no need to say it. Beginning now perhaps we have something to say, albeit much will be of the nature of so much “fluff.”  Nevertheless, our readers may find some of this amusing/revealing.

 The previous (2008-10) unburdening of the many intra-band issues that have vexed us across time, and some of these for decades, has been a cathartic if exhausting enterprise. It is now (mostly) all there, virtually displayed for anyone to peruse and/or to challenge its veracity. 

 To my knowledge there have been no apologias per se to any of the grievances against music put forward in this diary save one, anonymously signed by “The Bass Player”(why so—and which bass player?  Paul, Jaco, John, Bill, Tony?  There are so many of them; it could be anyone) and exhibiting what we consider to be a rationale that fails utterly to address the salient questions implied in our exposition of the specific issue being examined (namely and no matter as to why, the band for which the EP release party was being held was not afforded a sound check).  Additionally a caveat appeared at the end of “the bass player’s” email text instructing that this “defense” not be published (something we were enthusiastically prepared to do verbatim and in an effort to create a bit of balance (acknowledging that there are, of course, as many P’sOV as there are those who remember), would only the author had the cajones to sign his/her own name).  And as far as any damage to his/her band’s reputation by “the truth” (& we made an educated guess as to which band this might be due to the anonymity of the message sender), were one to “Google” them, the only cyber spatial reference that pops up is our mentioning them at this site and concerning this very issue.  Perhaps then there was no reputation to besmirch aside from the one imagined in “the bass player’s” mind.

 I do, however, now feel much better, thank you; and after a winter 2010-11 depression ameliorated only six excruciating weeks after being prescribed Sertraline, a mild anti-depressant, I am feeling pretty good.

 This depression was triggered by the sad & disappointing realization that we may have spent the past 33 years in an effort to sell about 20 cd’s (a symbolic number representing the huge disparity between investment and return on sonic ware released and musical labors of love under a variety of monikers).  We had arrived at this milestone a number of times, with different releases and at a number of outlets.  Finally (whew)…but what we discovered is that we have at least one distributor and a record company owner whose “errors of omission” (our view) suggest that both were/are either too busy or perhaps, too lazy to promote (& timely pay) the bands and/or re-order & re-stock (within a reasonable amount of time to be mutually agreed upon say, a maximum of 6 months?) their albums that 1) they enthusiastically sought to manufacture (with our understanding that there would minimum  promotion), 2) agreed to offer for sale in their musical marketplaces, and 3) (in the instance of the former) sold out of repeatedly. 

 Yet when I visit our page at the site of the former, I continue to read that this compact disc has been on backorder for over a year now.  Yes, yes, we were finally paid for sold products although the unpaid invoice was in arrears for over 2 years; and this after repeated email inquiries and the sending-then-resending via snail-mail of outstanding invoices. 

 This mail order site is also peripherally connected to a certain “orchestra” that, while not a “school” per se, proffers a set of principles to the aim of developing a more intimate relationship with one’s “self” (the knower), being present via a proactive relationship with these principles and her/his instrument.  We have, on occasion, received requests for donations to support aspirants to the attainment of these aims in economically depressed countries (e.g. Argentina).  Our intention, upon payment for our sold compact discs, was to donate these funds to this aim. Our attempts at exacting payment (even after the company’s profit of about 40% on each disc sold) were excruciatingly exhausting; way more inconvenient, to my way of thinking, than necessary, especially when dealing with an “ethical” company.  It was then that I said to myself, “Screw this.  If we ever do get paid, we’re keeping every penny.”  These funds when finally received were used, BTW, to partially defray expenses incurred in promoting our albums.   

 It’s interesting to note that when I order a CD from this site, I am required to pay for it immediately (like the framed print I ordered months ago and despite guarantees to the contrary has, as of 12/29/11, yet to be delivered).  Therefore, in our experience with this company, the converse is far, far from that reality.  That is, the relationship is not reciprocal to any acceptable degree.  Failing to see to it that these albums are reordered, proven to be in demand by virtue of their selling out (some of them repeatedly), renders our efforts frustrate and is tantamount to forcing us to make bricks without straw.  No wonder so many musicians end up selling used cars, panhandling on post office steps, living in cardboard boxes under freeway ramps or working for government agencies.

 One person connected intimately to this enterprise sent me an email (in jest I assume?), its gist being, “Don’t you know that music is now free?”  Who’s music?  I scratched my bald head with one hand; in the other I held one of this person’s CD’s purchased by me earlier from this very site.  I thought, “While a good value at $15.99, this album was far from free.”  The implications need not be further extrapolated.  Again, one set of rules for “them” & a different set for “us” (read as: a double standard).

 Taking a proactive approach on the other end, we suggested our record company send this distributor an additional 20 compact discs (that s/he had in fact ordered) and to just stick an invoice in with the shipment.  We would worry about payment later as, despite lengthy procrastination on its part, the company does eventually settle accounts. Our prime directive (again) is to get (y)our music into the universe any way we can.  This suggestion apparently has yet to be acted upon--quite disheartening as we are neither the record company nor the mail order distributor.  These glaring examples of negligence present to us as poor business practice, an insulting insouciance regarding our efforts at being considered “serious” by different components of the independent music industry, and ironically, as far as the distributor is concerned (exhibiting the very “Essence of California Casual”), the very antithesis to the “ethical” principles/pillars it so boldly puts forward throughout its site: “The Four Pillars of the Ethical Company: 1) Honesty (transparency & straightforwardness), 2) Responsibility (accountability and owning up), 3) Equity (distributive justice and fairness) and, 4) Goodwill (common decency) .”

 Having found an appropriate mail order distribution site where customers with a penchant for our music actually seek it out, order & pay for it with their hard-earned $$$, our experience has been 1) it is difficult to get paid for albums sold and, 2) nary impossible for “sold out” items to be re-stocked and offered for sale, both of these in a timely manner.  What else could we have done?  The records sell very well at this site yet the minimum effort required to stock more of our albums that customers obviously want is not being made.  Being neither the record company nor the distributor, there is little we can do beyond verbally encouraging both to act rightly.

When one looks at this dilemma objectively, how could one NOT become depressed?  We should have known better.  I remember an instance in our dealings in promoting the 4 10” vinyl version of Okinawa in the late 90’s.  We consigned a number of these “tins” to a local Parkville, MD distributor at our cost.  A year later, when I was to travel to Bavaria for a visit and series of meetings with the Refugees label, I called this person to settle accounts so that I might pay Little Wing for the records the company had fronted me.  Even though a number of these sets had been sold and I requested payment for those sets, I was told, “This is not the way it works.”  I was not offered an explanation as to how it actually DOES work and no other of this person’s close acquaintances who I queried was able to clarify this for me either.  We were eventually paid for the sold records and all unsold sets were returned in a huff (i.e. my request to be paid was apparently enough of a reason for this person to refrain from speaking to me—another gift that keeps on giving—similar to the one given us by the former Dark Side front person).

 Let’s look at what this really means.  The band composes the music.  The band rehearses the music that is to be recorded.  The band records the music and pays the studio for recording it.  The band pays to have the music manufactured as vinyl records.  The band distributes the album and pays for its promotion.  It fails commercially. 

 Twenty years later a German record company offers to re-release the album, this time in its unexpurgated form, on vinyl and in a cool metal film canister with a 30 page booklet.  The band pays to have the material remastered.  The records are manufactured after a visit to Bavaria (airline tix at the band’s expense) to build a fire under the company’s ass.  The band travels back to Bavaria (at their expense again) and loads up suitcases with the records, returns to the USA and offers them, at cost & on consignment to a distributor who sells them at a profit, reluctantly pays us for records sold, then effectively ends the business and personal relationships altogether. 

 6 years later the proprietor of a local chain of retail record stores offers to release this very album on CD.  The material is again re-remastered at the band’s expense.  The product is manufactured on a limited number of CDR’s with a photocopied cover on cheesy pink paper and puerile on-CDR graphics, even more simplistic that the original minimal graphics.  It is overpriced (through no fault of the music) due to its being cheaply made.  There is no advance and no payment for albums sold.  We are ambivalent, vacillating between embarrassment and a mitigated satisfaction resulting only from the fact that this music continues to be of interest.  There is no promotion other than what the band does on its own, backed by our half-hearted enthusiasm due to the cheesy packaging.  Again the record does not sell well enough to motivate the record company to release more of the band’s music.  The passage of time has proven that this release is perceived by the world as a “bootleg.”  The band eventually buys back (using their own monies) the unsold copies of the CDR figuring that somewhere on down the line these will be of further use in implementing the aforementioned prime directive of disseminating our music into the world any way we can.

 A decade later the record is finally re-re-re-released as it should have been all along by a legitimate company and with quality packaging.  Again, the band pays for the re-re-remastering.  The CD is manufactured.  The band, knowing that the prospect of getting paid for the sale of these records is unlikely or at best, way down the road, opts to take 116 additional CD’s as payment for the first pressing and again promotes its own record (down to the very last of the 116 copies) to every progressive web site, on-and-off-line progressive music magazine and to every progressive radio station and distribution network worldwide that it is aware of, again to the tune of hundreds of its own dollars in packaging, handling and shipping costs. 

 It appears as if the record company itself has done little promotion for this minor masterpiece (other than what is on its website, consisting mostly of reviews and language provided by us) as every review posted (and now even a promotional video—AGAIN produced at the band’s expense) on its site was secured by OUR efforts.  We also garnered many positive reviews in cyberspace but, to my mind at least, many of these are mediocre rhetorical exposes by 2nd rate journalists of that which is self-evident.  Here it is 2012 and a record that was deemed by many as laughable when released in the summer of 1974 continues to be of interest to the world.  After all of the above, how could it be otherwise?  I’d love to see the final tally of how many dollars were invested altogether in this endeavor over the past 34 years.

 What does this all mean as far as the current incarnation of OHO is concerned?  Are we being disrespected and our efforts (despite a proven history of being able to make a commitment in time) unconsciously diminished (or is it in full awareness)? 

 I look back, in front of me, and ahead and I see that almost everyone is getting paid other than the genii themselves.  Ultimately our investment returns as far as commerce is concerned, seem to be a hefty tab, minimal radio airplay and a few nice but uninspired words verifying qualities about the music we not only know already to be true, but also access and employ to their creative facility.  Many current on-line journalists have a paucity of language command and grammatical knowledge (due likely to excessive t(s)exting consisting of images, incomplete thoughts and/or sentence fragments).  We can do better than this.  If someone wants to know why this music is good we can surely explain it to them and poetically.

 Next…what’s happening to the vanishing compact disc?  Our son, Matt, & his band El Sledge (+) have recently completed “Doom,” their latest album.  El Sledge (+) intends to release this album via 12” vinyl and digital download (i.e. NO CD release).  Why would this be better than releasing on CD?  I recently took a mint (never played) 45 rpm of Food for Worms’ “I Don’t Want To Be the President” b/w “Another Crack In the Jaw” to Trax on Wax to have them burn these tunes to a CD.  They sound pretty awful (not the music but their recording of the record). I have requested from the owner of the master tape that he lend it to me that I may again pay to make a much-improved sounding digital copy.  This gentleman, however, has stored this in a separate facility and our experience has been (& this is no way intended as a criticism of him or people like him who have been and continue to be very generous/helpful) that often, this is the equivalent of these artifacts and tapes being lost or unavailable (due to the amount of energy and time expended in discovery).  In fact, one x-OHO member (also an engineer/producer) said he would have to charge us $100 to search his storage facility to find, in this instance, a S-VHS video master of our 10/90 Sky Records OHO CD/12” vinyl/cassette release party.  We opted to use a high quality copy instead for the Bricolage DVD, available at no expenditure other than of our patience, and save this $$$ that I’m sure we directed to some other worthy purpose.

We ultimately arrive at our current resolution to refrain from further recording and the manufacture of those in posse recordings that might have otherwise ensued were they not relegated to a sonic limbo by the unavailability of the required funds to make them  manifest. 

Nature abhors a vacuum, so perhaps this resolution will serve to attract the investment that the material and the talent, in our opinion, need, have earned and so deserve.  Doing nothing is more difficult than it may seem but retirement provides more time to practice this psychological stance of “choice-less awareness” (Deepak Chopra), wu wei (doing—doing nothing) or “radical neutrality (non-interference—an engaged state of active neutrality.  Radical neutrality does nothing—as much as it can! & while not-doing, enables doing to take place.  It is part impartiality, part reconciliation, part pure presence, all invisibility.”-RF’s on line diary 10/13/07). 

 On the other hand if, in recognition that the creators of the music should also have dollars thrown at them just like everybody else in the process, they are commissioned to co-create (meaning that expenses incurred in this process would be covered by outside investment), we would continue to contribute our time and talent gratis. 

 This resolve does not, however, extend to any recording conducted at David Reeve’s Blue Ball Road Studio or to any anomalous music that reveals its release as necessary.  Another exception to this resolution is any recording paid for by someone other than us or from the equal band member contribution of any monies earned through live performance as in the case of Mystic I (Mystic I is a Baltimore based band that plays contemporary, progressive folk/rock, and new thought music. Initially convened in late 2007 as a duo featuring vocalist Lisa Griffee and OHO guitarist Jay Graboski, Mystic I soon morphed into a trio, adding journeyman drummer/percussionist, Ted Staley. Vocalist/guitarist, Kirsten Smith, then rounded out the team presenting as a quartet with "Gonzo" pianist, Ray Jozwiak, joining most recently in the fall of 2010. Formed with the aim of providing inspirational music to enhance congregational services at the Center for Spiritual Living, the current quintet has since branched out tangentially, raising a joyful noise at concerts, festivals, and benefits. Mystic I are currently recording their first album of unique "new thought," progressive folk/rock/jazz-flecked music, all with a bent that bridges the material world to its source in the spiritual dimension).

 My conviction is that the OHO music we are currently working on (including the 44 minute Ahora! suite) is likely equivalent in quality as our most recent releases and we have described what these have brought back to us.  We will continue to offer our music freely for download at this site and service other music downloading sites that may or may not charge for this convenience (e.g. CD Baby).  & there it is.

 OK--enough bitching and moaning.  Come see a rare OHO performance in late January.

Who? OHO (Jay, Dave, Ray with guest vocalists Lisa Griffee and Kelly G), Easy Cowboy (w/Matt Rose), Jason & The Butchers and El Sledge (+)

What? Shlongtasm 2012; each band will perform a 25-30 minute set

Where? Joe Squared Pizza (133 W. North Ave. at the corner of North Ave. and Howard Street, Balto., MD 21201; phone: 410.545.0444)

When? 9:00 PM till closing, Friday January 20, 2012

Why? To celebrate El Sledge (+) manager, Dan Long, to rage against the dying of the light (“It’s a cold stare at humankind masquerading as happy beer-hall music—Lift your flagon to this, you fuck.’”-Stan Ridgway), ingest some delicious pie, & to quaff steins brimmed with delicious, foaming hops-infused beverage. 

Next month we’ll write about a unique pair of recently acquired guitars from the estate of the late Kraig Krixer (aka “Trixy” of Testone renown & as Fagen de Razor) that provide some small insight into his clever musical methodology at least are far as the design of his favorite instruments are concerned; and a burgeoning enterprise featuring the talents of artist Connell Byrne as he transforms worn and abandoned musical instruments into usable, interactive works of art.  Acquire the taste by visiting www.pbase.com/connellart. 
OHO & out.  Oh yeah…Happy New Year!

 

March 2011 

Video of the El Sledge/OHO collaboration of “The Plague” is ready for viewing.

The URL for "The Plague": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJ9NUB90IDI

 This month “Angels” (Bricolage) was scheduled for a week of airplay on Michiko’s & Chris’ Japanese cable radio program “Fishing for Blue Skies” and Okinawa was a featured album at www.progressiveears.com.  OHO & out.

February 2011

 01.20.11 Orange Wedge/Poobah/Razor/Blue Car/When Thunder Comes/The Accused guitarist, band mate and Testone front person, Kraig (Trixy the Space Queen) Krixer has died.  Rest in peace, our brother.  More (scroll down to the January 26th blog entry) at: http://accelerateddecrepitude.blogspot.com/    

 01.22.11 Blue Ball Rd. Studio, Stewartstown, PA: David records Bill Phelan’s electric 12 string Rickenbacker guitar contributions to the developing mix of OHO’s tentatively titled, “Slough of Despond.”

 From aquariusrecords.org:

OHO Okinawa (Vintage / Rockadrome) cd 14.98

Whew! Housed in a bright pink digipack, this is a seriously WEIRD reissue (or not so seriously, 'cause it's pretty silly, but weird in any case). 30 tracks, 74 minutes of pure WTF?, '70s style. A private press rarity from Baltimore, originally released in 1974, OHO's Okinawa is one of those obscure underground '70s artifacts that combine experimental prog, psych, and proto-punk into one trippy package. Deserving of whatever cult status it has, no doubt.
Some folks will be drawn to this for its garagey, manic energy and and shocking angular guitar action, but you gotta be able to deal with the gonzoid goofiness too. And unhinged vocals that even have a bit of Jello Biafra-like warble to 'em... though sometimes the singing is quite lovely, like at the outset of the song "A Frog For You", which features a chorus of voices sweetly intoning such lines as: "What's that on your face... it looks like shit... ", before some screaming begins, and someone yells, "Let's rock!", and indeed they do, (sarcastically?) channeling Chuck Berry/Jerry Lee Lewis, tossing in some Zeppish riffs too.
We'd have to assume that these musicians had some Frank Zappa and the Mothers records in their collections. But they avoid jazzy wank (though there are horns), and their hippy freak humor isn't as obnoxious as your typical Zappa fare. Less scatological, more surreal and non-sequitur. Song titles like "Ain't Life Dumb", "Brown Algae Is Attractive", "The Unfortunate Frankfurter Vendor", "Hairy Bag", "Chess Is Boring", "Fast Bananas", and "Pale Hippo" might give you some idea. Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd could be another inspiration for all this trippiness, they also kinda remind us of the Hampton Grease Band, Beefheart, and some of the wackier British prog acts of the ear.
This handsomely packaged, remastered reissue, includes a ton of bonus material recorded at the album sessions that wasn't included on the original release. We mentioned 30 tracks (some of them but brief interludes), only 16 actually appeared on the 1974 lp. But now that it's on cd, you get the entire extreme OHO Okinawa experience/overload as it was meant to be. It's acid-fried, theatrical, quite intentionally insane, and actually pretty amusing... plus prog and hard psych types will enjoy all the distorted guitar stabs and crazy changes. Fans of modern day, mathy indie pop acts like Heavy Vegetable might also dig.

OHO AND OUT

 

January 2011

Happy New Year!

12/31/10…A prominent west coast CD distributor sells out of OHO Okinawa digipaks (our third title to do so at this site with UP selling out twice).

12/28/10…KZMU DJ, Steve Goodwin, airs OHO’s “Scared Money” (from UP)

12/23/10…2 part session at Bratt Studio in Woodlawn, MD. Part 1: Matt Graboski sings his lyrics to an as yet untitled song in the part 2 of the still-slowly-progressing Ahora! suite. Part 2: Matt lip syncs “The Plague” (3x) while “B-roll” images are filmed by engineer Bill Pratt intended for fine tuning the first half of this video that merges 1975 vintage footage of 70s OHO with the original 1974 music tracks, with part one re-recorded with Matt Graboski singing the lead vocal parts.

12/13/10…Bad Neighbors guitarist, Bill Phelan, visits to collaborate with the team on his proposed Rickenbacker electric 12-string contribution to the tentatively titled “Slough of Despond” in anticipation of a late January 2011 session scheduled at David Reeve’s Blue Ball Road studio in Stewartstown, PA.

12/11/10…Airaid Records Christmas party where Jay was awarded a bottle of Scotch in appreciation for his efforts in promoting El Sledge+ throughout the year.

12/07/10…Bratt Studio ”Day of Infamy” remastering session of 20 Weaszel songs beginning with 1979’s “I’m Still Wild!” and ending with 1999’s “Out Of The Way.” Weaszel drummer, Vincent Tuminello, was present overseeing the activity and even generously contributed to funding this session AND a portion of the fees charged for setting up the corresponding CD Baby page, complete with bar code, where this collection is currently in the process of being uploaded and where this anthology (WHACK!) will soon be available for digital downloading, shared with a number of secure downloading sites, and at a reasonable cost to any interested consumers. The focus is on including the mid-90’s “Hit & Run” era recordings of 8 songs with highlights from the band’s 1992 Whack ‘N’ Wild CD. The emphasis is largely on the songwriting of the late Weaszel bassist, Rick Levine (aka Ric Lately) but additionally includes the usual Weaszel musical staples.

We start the New Year off with an email featuring the following (fairly positive) advance review of Okinawa from Expose editor, Peter Thelen:

“Jay,
Happy new year. I've been giving this a fresh listen about once a month since you sent it to me, this week I started committing my thoughts to words, and then today trimming and tweaking a 400+ word review down to something that the other writers won't scream about (the editors --one of whom is me, don't allow reviews over 250 words unless they are reviews of multiple releases). I think I've got all of the essential points covered.
Thanks again for reissuing this. Hopefully Vitamin and Dream will see CD release soon as well. This review will be in Expose (issue 39), coming soon I hope.
Peter T”

Oho “Okinawa”
(Rockadrome ROCK028-V-2, 1974/2010, CD)

Oho’s debut Okinawa is from an era long before many bands ‘went it on their own’ without support from a record label. And its official reissue on compact disc (I think I have at least one substandard bootleg-from-vinyl version of overseas origin) is long overdue. The original ’74 vinyl release was just a single LP of sixteen tracks, the band’s budget wouldn’t allow production of the 30-track double LP that Okinawa was originally envisioned as (and recorded). That would have to wait for the second vinyl release in 1994 four 10” vinyl discs housed in a metal movie can, nearly a decade after CDs became the standard. Oh well, Oho has always operated in (or out of) their own time. At the time of the recording the band was essentially a quintet, playing all of the standard rock instruments and more, with help from various friends, track depending as needed. Their music could best be described as a completely original and irreverent mix of psychedelic and progressive rock elements with absurdist lyrical elements, with the most evident influences being Weasels / Burnt Weenie era Zappa, Trout Mask / Decals era Captain Beefheart, the earliest (pre-’70) Alice Cooper, Barrett-era Floyd, and even The Doors (the latter most evident on “The Insipid City of York”), and to a lesser degree some of the British prog bands of the day (Crimson among them), but don’t expect this to sound like any of those. After it gets filtered through the blender of madness that is Oho, we are dealing with something unique. Songs are often only a minute or two long, but tracked so close together that it often seems like one is listening to one continuous piece of music with no breaks. All taken together, this is a reissue that must be heard. Peter Thelen

(In the original text the title of “The Insipid City of York” was incorrectly listed as “The Insipid City of New York.” I relayed to Mr. Thelen that IMO the songwriter(s) were likely referencing the city of York, PA and not NY, NY, a town I doubt they would likely ever describe as “insipid.”) OHO and out…

December 2010

Seasons Greetings!

11.03.10-After listening to a CDR of 23 instrumental songs, musical snippets & loops, Woody at Clean Cuts emails that he would like to list 2/3’s of the music presented on our demo (along with the music from UP & Bricolage) on an addendum to an agreement that stipulates inclusion of these melodies and recordings in their musical library for clients to peruse then perhaps license for various (audio/visual) media applications. The collection is tentatively titled the OHO “Proof/Sounds of Life” collection. Here is a wonderful opportunity that provides yet another avenue to align ourselves in accordance with the prime directive of “GETTING YOUR MUSIC INTO THE UNIVERSE ANYWAY YOU CAN.”

From Woody’s 11.02.10 email to us:I really dig these instrumentals. I would like to include 16 of them in this agreement if that works for you. I think they could get some good uses. We will call the collection something like ‘OHO - Sounds of Life’ or ‘Proof of Life’ to appeal to would be listeners. If you are good with this, I will write up the contract with these instrumentals included and we can get this wrapped up. Thanks! -Woody”

I periodically and randomly go through the archives for a variety of reasons: 1) to see if listening sparks any creative ideas about how to further proliferate our music, 2) to muse about new ways that we might employ to upgrade the sound (to varying degrees of success); & 3) sometimes to be genuinely surprised by those rare, special and sometimes forgotten passages where something “impossible” happened.

These periodic reviews uncover more and more musical recordings that we suspect might be useful in expanding the backlog available for our participation in this enterprise. These sonic snippets are mostly instrumental and can be anything from an intro to a coda, from a solo to a transitional phrase. So, it’s very easy to imagine how much fun this process is and how heartening it is to have this option made available to us, especially in today’s uncertain, challenged and volatile music industry.

Interestingly enough we have dabbled in this sort of thing as far back as 1995 when both The Weaszels’ “All Because of You” (Foxx & Lately) and OHO’s “Lost & Found” (Graboski, Reeve & Workman) were included in the soundtrack for the locally produced movie, Grave Diggers “a NoBudget Productions film written and directed by Al Darago and Doug Ulrich that screened at the Orpheum Cinema, and by all accounts the film score was a hoot; and cuts by local favorites OHO and The Weaszels made it even more memorable.”-City Paper, March 9, 1995).

In 1998, of course, OHO’s “Change In the Wind” was included as incidental music in the soundtrack for David Moreton’s Edge of 17 film, screening earlier that year at The Sundance Film Festival. In 1999 working with videographer Jeff Pivec at Howard County Cable, we were applying our instrumental musicking to the background of a number of public access cable programs. This Howard County cable television station housed a library of CD’s featuring “public domain” music with almost all of it sounding generic and rather bland; but we wanted to put a more personal, individual stamp on our cable television programs both as far as visual content and musically by mining our own sonic archives. Who would’ve thought this might be a prequel to further work in this area over a decade later?

The “mining” process begins by listening for, then identifying those passages that evoke a variety of emotions that can selectively be applied to a myriad spectrum of images; then to assign the appropriate music to its corresponding image to the purpose of bolstering and/or enhancing the specific emotion(s) provoked by each scene (or sequence of scenes) in the visual program. & as these applications usually are often in increments of seconds, we’ll limit this to a minute (or 2 minute) loop that can be applied and then faded at the proper point in the editing process.

11.07.10 & 11.14.10-Jay plays guitar & sings back-up with inspirational band, Mystic I,

at the Center for Spiritual Living’s weekly service in Timonium, MD and during the morning service (11/14) at The One Wisdom Fellowship Church near Govans. This was followed at 1:00 PM by a Coffee House fund raiser that featured full performance sets by both Mystic I & Rapture, punctuated by the inspiring musings and poetry of Julie Cares. This event raised several hundred dollars for CSL Baltimore.

11.09.10 & 11.17.10-OHO video composition/editing sessions at The Bratt Studio in Woodlawn, MD. The editing/finalization team (Bill Pratt and me) continues to work on their video of the 2008-9 revamping of OHO’s “The Plague.” As challenging as it was to match up the 1975 vintage OHO live performance video to the audio tracks, the editing gods surely were with us as we arrived at a few fortuitous and amazingly believable synchronizations of Frank Pondolfina’s super 8 images (of a 1975 OHO live performance at The Oddfellows Hall in Towson) to the instrumental 2nd half of this epic; and this with limited footage to choose from as much of the source video featured the band members singing. The project is, however, blossoming forth with a higher level of quality than was originally anticipated. A few more tweaks yet to be effectuated, but we are confident the finished product will be a modestly successful and entertaining audio/visual effort that brings a taste of the OHO spirit of 1974-75 into the NOW.

11.16.10-KZMU (Moab, UT) DJ, Steve Goodwin airs his “A Thilly Thoudthing” program that included OHO’s “Fast Bananas,” “Pale Hippo,” & “We’ll Be Famous When We’re Dead” among a variety of other “silly” songs by independent artists (many who are Baltimore–based such as our engineer, “Foo Man Bill” Pratt, whose “Ain’t No Cowboy” was also on this show’s play list.) Steve’s theme for this show: “All silly songs by indy artists. Those with an * are known as "kindy" (a new one on me) artists in that their music is directed toward children (kids+indy=kindy). Regardless of what may be its originally intended audience (children), I offer these charming tunes for your entertainment.”

The remainder of our December 2010 on-line diary entry consists of reviews we have discovered while meandering through cyberspace last month. Somebody must be listening. We feel that posting these reviews is a fitting way to bring the year 2010 to its completion as far as OHO and OHO related subjects are concerned.

At www.seaoftranquility.org/reviews.php?sid=9824

Oho: Bricolage (CD/DVD

Formed in 1973, the enigmatic Baltimore band has been a fixture in the underground music scene for many years. OHO has had their share of difficulty having disbanded in 1977 and again shortly after they reformed in 1983, just after the release of their Roctronics EP in 1984. The remaining members Jay Graboski (guitars, vocals) and David Reeve (drums, keyboards and vocals) soon added Steve Carr (bass) and Grace Hearn (vocals) and the band lived to see another day. That is a good thing because Bricolage is a very good album. Although the band does not release a lot of albums it is hard to complain once you hear the music. This is clearly a case of quality over quantity as the band has only recorded a handful of albums during the past thirty plus years.

Bricolage consists of twenty tracks, the first thirteen of which have never been released and were recorded between 1983 and 2000. The last seven are listed as bonus tracks originally released on the OHO, Up and Oriency Anthology albums. Bricolage has the band going in a more folk-like direction rather than the psychedelic acid explorations of their earlier albums. Joining the four core members are numerous female vocalists and various musicians adding instruments like violin, sax, flute, harmonica, theremin, mandolin and more. The result is a richly layered, organic sounding album that works on all levels. Electric and acoustic guitar are blended together almost perfectly and the female vocals are excellent throughout, including the background harmonies. The earworms keep coming track after track making this one of the most melodic albums I have heard this year.

If you like bands like Mostly Autumn or early Fleetwood Mac you should find plenty to sink your teeth into here. Some of my favourites include the acoustic folk pop of "The Great Attractor" with its delicate flourishes of acoustic guitar, the musical build up in the quirky yet progressive "Time" with stellar acoustic and electric guitar and the Fleetwood Mac inspired "Dream Lifted Up" with spot on drum work and some ripping electric guitar. The rest of the CD is just as good and the sound quality is excellent throughout.

The DVD features a photo gallery, CD credits and lyrics and concert footage from a variety of venues including the Universal Amphitheater in Hollywood, CA and the Wammy Awards (a Washington area awards show). The video footage is somewhat grainy and the sound quality is not as good as on the CD but this is still a nice addition to have. Also scattered throughout are snippets of interviews giving us more insight into this strange band.

Although this CD is not as eclectic as some of their past releases I like the band's change in direction. The songs are more accessible while still retaining a progressive edge and the melodies are everywhere. Highly recommended.

Added: October 24th 2010
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Score:

...at www.seaoftranquility.org/reviews.php?sid=9823

Oho: Okinawa

"Oho are one of those bands that once you hear them they will be forged in your memory as this music is some of the most weird yet endearing stuff you will ever hear. It does not always work but fortunately it does more often than not and that makes this a worthwhile and satisfying listen. Because of the weirdness factor Oho will not be for everyone and you will have to listen to the samples to separate the good from the bad but no one can accuse the band of being formulaic or catering to the powers that be.

First a little history of the band. The story begins in 1970 when Joe O'Sullivan, Jay Graboski and Mark O' Connor began playing at a club called Bluesette. In 1973 fusion drummer Larry Bright and bassist Steve Heck were added to the threesome and Oho was borne. The band has been referred to as "Baltimore's answer to Pink Floyd" and played a style of music that did not fit in with the trends of the day so suffice to say they did not get a lot of help from the radio. Let's just say they were unique and developed their own underground following. Their music has been compared with the late Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart which is a fair assessment but this band oozes their own style and does not quite sound like anyone else. Okinawa was their first album, originally released in January, 1974 and caught an unsuspecting world by surprise but did not catch on very well with their American audience. The album has recently been reissued on Rockadrome Records.

Eclectic, quirky, strange are just a few words I would use to describe Okinawa but surprisingly the strangeness often works. Because of the limitations posed by vinyl all of the original songs could not be included when Okinawa was first released but the compact disc has solved that problem as all are included here as they were originally intended. Some stand out tracks include the avant-garde psychedelic rock of "Duva" with its early Roxy Music feel, especially in the vocals and the quirky pop/rock of "Horse Remorse", a real tongue and cheek ditty with perky organ and bluesy touches of dissonance. The off kilter psychedelic pop of "Hogshead" and the Kinks inspired acoustic sounds of "Plymouth Ascendants" featuring the excellent lead vocals of Greg Coulson are also personal highlights.

Oho deserve credit for stretching their musical boundaries and for creating such diverse and interesting music. Listening to Okinawa will expand your musical horizons and take you on an unusual but beautiful path into the strange world that can only be Oho. Recommended for open minded listeners everywhere." (3 ½ out of 4 stars)

Jon Neudorf (10/24/10)

And from www.dprp.net/reviews/201055.php...there’s these reviews:

Oho - Okinawa

Formed in late 1973 in the City of Baltimore, Oho was named after the three founder musicians: Mark O'Connor, Steven Heck and Joseph O'Sullivan who had originally come together to make a noise purely as an escape from boredom. Jay Graboski, who, a few years earlier, had played with the two 'O's in a blues band called Quinn, was soon invited to join in the fun. With the addition of drummer Larry Bright, Oho were a complete band and decided to do what bands are supposed to do, record and release an album. Arguably the very first independent American album, Okinawa was issued in July 1974 in a limited edition private pressing, most of which disappeared into the hands of unscrupulous individuals who falsely promised to have the ability to market and sell the album. As a consequence, original copies are a prime target for rare record collectors.

However, the lack of sales cannot be wholly attributed to the machinations of dodgy dealers, the style of the music contained in the grooves is not something for the faint of heart! Best described as an unholy amalgamation of Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, weirdness and the avant garde, it is not surprising that a German magazine referred to the album as "Sgt. Pepper for the advanced listener". Strange as that may sound, it is undeniably clearer than the band's own description of the album as "a tangerine jungle of marshmallow madness". Well it was the seventies. Despite the extensive track listing, the album is better considered as a complete entity rather than a collection of individual tracks. Indeed, playing individual pieces out of context of the album would be something of a fruitless, and one would guess, unrewarding experience. Track timings are somewhat arbitrary as well - pieces have a habit of stopping and starting. At times one thinks the album has moved on to the next track only to find that the a break was part of the number; while at other times one gets the impression of having been listening to a single piece only to glance at the CD player and find three tracks have gone past. This somewhat 'freeform' nature is shown by the fact that 15 bonus 'tracks' from the original recording sessions have been liberally scattered across the running order and it is impossible to tell that they have not been there all along. Of course, it could be that the album was originally conceived to be 74 minutes long but the cost of independently producing a double vinyl album was too prohibitive resulting in the group culling 15 tracks, however, I don't think that's the case. It is more likely that the abstract nature of the majority of the music means that inserting a new section almost at random would not be noticeable. One could actually have some fun creating 'different' albums by listening to the CD playing in random mode (or 'shuffle' in modern iSpeak).

As with Zappa, there is an off-beat humour present, as can be guessed from some of the track titles. Also similar to the moustachioed one, the musicians are gifted enough to convincingly pull off the quirky nature with intent and design, as opposed to improvisational accident. Some moments are blissful whilst others are annoying; pieces range across the strange, the confusing, the off-beat, the funny and the just plain dumb. Which is which depends on the individual's perception. Although not that appealing to me, I can admire the individual nature of the music and appreciate it was five musicians (as well as the Boris McFinnie Horn Ensemble of course) following their muse without any concerns of commercial appeal. As Captain Spock would (probably) say: "It's Prog Jim, but not as we know it". MARK HUGHES

Oho - Bricolage

Oho, the Baltimore avant garde prog band, had a rather tumultuous time following the release of their 1974 debut album, the re-release of which is reviewed above. Musically the band moved into more progressive territory making full use of Mellotrons and early analogue synthesisers whilst filling their performances with theatricals, costumes and crucified pigs (although not real ones!) Two further albums were recorded, Vitamin Oho and Dream Of The Ridiculous Band (although only the former was released) before the band came to a crunching halt in 1977, bankrupt both financially and enthusiastically. A new version of the band regrouped in 1984 releasing the Roctronics EP and promptly split over disputes over musical direction. Guitarist Jay Graboski and drummer David Reeve kept hold of the name and recruited vocalist Grave Hearn and bassist Steve Carr into the fray. After four years of writing and rehearsing, the eponymous OHO was released quickly followed by Vitamin Oho a year later and Up in 2003. These days more of a collective of various contributors to the core of Graboski and Reeve, the Oho name lives on with occasional performances and several new, and old, projects in the pipeline.

But what of Bricolage? The first 13 songs of the 20-track CD comprises previously unreleased material written and recorded between 1983 and 2008 with an additional 7 songs taken from the Oho, Up and Oriency Anthology releases. A further 12 songs are included on the DVD, only four of which are also featured on the CD, although the versions are substantially different. Despite the revolving musical cast, there is an admirable consistency in the sound of the band and although Hearn provides the majority of the lead vocals (along with Mary O'Connor), something like seven separate female singers contribute leads and harmonies, despite mostly never having met (ah the wonders of digital recording technology!). The sound of the band ranges from Fleetwood Mac and Clannad in their most successful incarnations to the more proggy material that bears slight resemblance to bands such as Mostly Autumn. And one of the vocalists, Kelly Grochmal, sounds remarkably like Jill Sobule, particularly on the song S/he. Although the instrumentation line-up of the band is the typical guitars, bass, keyboards and drums, a plethora of other instruments have been included in the arrangements. Violin, mandolin, sax, flute, theremin, tin whistle, harmonica, hammered dulcimer and even the odd appearance by the P-Funk Horns give a tremendous variety to the musical landscape. There is an underlying folky element to a lot of the material but the group are not adverse to taking things to a heavier level at times. However, the overwhelming strength of the material is the superb melodies that imbue every song, pick any at random and you will come across mature and compelling songs that are entrancing in their beauty. Time is like a lost October Project song (and just as good as anything on the two albums by that much-missed band) and songs such as Blue Fix and Angels are hard to forget once heard.

The DVD compiles footage from 1988 to 1992 and includes three promo videos, selections from the release party for the Oho album, a TV talent show performance and a selection from the 1990 Wammies award ceremony. The venues for the videos range from the Universal Amphitheater in Hollywood (where the band were supporting Cheap Trick) to a school classroom where O'Connor and Graboski provide an intimate acoustic performance to a group of young, enthusiastic and somewhat bewildered infants. As with the debut album, the material is of a progressive nature but of a slightly uncharacteristic nature. Notwithstanding that, the album is a fine collection of superior music that should find favour with music fans irrespective of if they like prog or not. Conclusion: 8 out of 10 MARK HUGHES

And from the “Progressive Newsletter” No. 70 this review in Deutsch:

Stil: Folk / Pop mit winziger Prise Prog

OHO – Bricolage

(78:38 + DVD, OHO Music, 2008)

Mit einem Doppelpack melden sich die Amerikaner OHO zu Wort. Eine randvoll gepackte CD in Kombination mit einer DVD in einer Aufmachung, die an Werke von Willowglass erinnern. Die CD enthält dreizehn Titel, allesamt im 3-4 Minuten Bereich, sowie sieben Bonus-Titel. Und auch hier wird darauf geachtet, die Varianz der Spielzeiten möglichst gering zu halten. Zum Beleg: der kürzeste Titel ist „The secret“ mit 3:27, der Longtrack des Albums ist „Dream lifted up“ mit fordernden 4:52. Aha! Die Musik ist eindeutig mehr im Folk- als im Prog-Bereich angesiedelt. Schon in den 70ern gab es Lebenszeichen dieser Band, doch mit der damaligen Musik hat „Bricolage“ nichts zu tun. Kern der Band ist das Duo David Reeve (Schlagzeug, Tasten) und Jay Graboski (Akustik-Gitarre). Dominiert wird das Album von den Stimmen diverser Sängerinnen, wobei anzumerken ist, dass diese durchweg überzeugen können. Die Folk-Elemente werden durch gelegentliche poppige Ausflüge abgelöst, und selten gibt es gar mal randwertig-proggige Arrangements. „Bricolage“ enthält durchaus schöne Nummern, ist aber insgesamt doch recht harmlos geraten. Das Material besteht übrigens aus bisher unveröffentlichtem Material aus dem Zeitraum 1983 – 2007. Wer folkig-poppige Töne mit guten Frauenstimmen mag – bitte schön. Die DVD, hauptsächlich mit Aufnahmen aus 1988-1991, ist nettes Beiwerk und –nicht überraschend – qualitätsmäßig nicht so doll. Bei einigen Aufnahmen kann man erahnen, dass da mehr als nur 10 Leute klatschen, also ganz so unbekannt waren sie seinerzeit in den USA wohl zumindest nicht. JM

AND…from www.streetjournal.com/index_CDReviews_display.CFM?id=102766

Oho
Bricolage
Review by Gary Hill

I was a little hesitant to tackle this disc. The first album from Oho was a bit weird for my tastes. Well, this one is just plain amazing! It’s a great blend of folk and progressive rock that at times calls to mind such acts as Yes, Renaissance and others. It’s actually one of the better discs I’ve heard in a while, and there have been a lot of great discs released in 2010. This has an accompanying DVD that includes interviews and live performances. All in all, a great package.

Track by Track Review

The Great Attractor
This is a killer cut. It powers in with a triumphant sort of powerhouse prog rock arrangement. There are some intriguing little changes and alterations, but overall this is a straight forward and soaring journey. There’s a lot of folk in it, but also plenty of prog. In some ways it makes me think of Yes. In other ways it calls to mind Renaissance.

Eros Is a Verb
The early portions of this are closer to Renaissance. The cut is more purely folk oriented early on, but then becomes powerhouse progressive rock as it continues.

Burning Grey
“Burning Grey” is closer to “The Great Attractor” in that it’s a powerhouse pure progressive rock number that’s very tasty.

Close But No Cigar
Here’s a real hot rocker. It’s less proggy and almost all the folk music has been washed away. It’s more straightahead. There is a short instrumental section that’s very Yes-like.

Time
Now, they turn to nearly pure folk for this number. Around the minute and a half mark, though, the progressive rock returns as it is used to build upon the folk elements of the piece. There are some incredible musical moments as this is built up.

Plowing the Sea
This has a driving moment and a complex and layered arrangement. It’s a real powerhouse that’s pure progressive rock.

Blue Fix
“Blue Fix” is closer to Renaissance than anything we’ve heard to this point. It’s a great track. It starts more folk-like and then powers out to more pure progressive rock.

S/he
There’s some crunch to this, but some of the more country/folk instrumentation adds a very different air to the proceedings. It’s a cool tune and not a huge departure, but a bit different.

Dream Lifted Up
Coming in with pure folk, this climbs upward a bit after the first verse. It rocks out as it continues. It eventually becomes pure progressive rock and some killer prog at that.

Penultimatum
This reminds me a lot of Yes for some reason. In many ways it’s not all the different from the rest of the music here, but somehow it seems more Yes-like.

Under Covers
A cut that’s very folk-like, there is still plenty of progressive rock in the mix, too. It rocks out in a very classic rock way later and there’s a smoking hot harmonica solo, too.

Painted Stars
To me, this feels like a cross between Yes, Renaissance and Tori Amos. It’s another strong piece, but not a huge departure.

Moon Draw Your Curtain
This one has a tendency towards more symphonic. It’s a great tune that has more of that Renaissance meets Tori Amos texture.

Limousine
There are male vocals on this number, bringing something new to the table. It’s a more straight rock song, but there is still a lot of progressive rock on the table.

The Secret
A cut that’s closer to the rest of the disc, this one is more folk oriented than some of the others.

Antique Heart
There’s a feeling like a Celtic rock band on this. Taken by itself, I probably wouldn’t call this “progressive rock” at all. There is however, an instrumental section that makes me think of modern Yes a bit. This song has male vocals and is an intriguing change of pace.

Shouts in the Street

Another pretty typical prog rocker, this one has both folk and Yes leanings to it.

Ethiopia
There’s a lot of energy and power on this rocker. It’s got some great progressive rock elements to it.

It Will Not Be Late
With more of an intricate ballad styling to it, this song is pretty and powerful. It’s a killer piece of music.

Angels
This cut is supercharged and very powerful. It’s got a hard rocking element to it, but is pure progressive rock.

Oho

http://www.musicstreetjournal.com/cdreviews_display.cfm?id=102767

Okinawa
Review by Gary Hill

This is definitely one of the weirdest albums I’ve ever heard. At least in terms of something I could actually get through. It’s also oddly compelling. The musical changes are at weird angles and a lot of this is seemingly unconnected. There are sounds of Frank Zappa, Pentwater and King Crimson at times. Yet, there are also things here that make me think of The Dead Kennedys. Still, we get psychedelia and space rock on display. The lyrics are often vulgar (there should be a parental warning) and seem to be mostly tongue in cheek. This album is not something that’s simple to get through. At times the weirdness becomes mind-numbing. It’s interesting, though.

Laughing--This short track is just what it says it is – a bunch of people laughing.

Opposites
Here we have a bunch of people naming off opposites in another short oddity.

Duva
Imagine Hawkwind jamming with Red era King Crimson. You now have a good idea of what this song is like. There’s a punky, Robert Calvert sort of feeling to the vocals. There’s a section later in the piece that I’d say would be what the Dead Kennedy’s would have sounded like if they’d been a progressive rock band.

Hyphenate Ice-less
This cut is more like traditional progressive rock, but there’s still a weirdness to it, rather like some of the odder Pentwater material.

Horse Remorse
This one’s like a psychedelic folk rock goes progressive rock kind of jam. There’s a King Crimson-like section later. Then we get something that resembles Frank Zappa meets Tyrannosaurus Rex. It’s pretty weird. Some Hawkwind creeps in later, but then they shift out to some real jazz.

Parts & Ponds
I hear Pentwater on this, but also Gentle Giant, but this is far stranger than either of those bands ever got. It works through some different movements and there are more parts that make me think of the kind of progressive rock The Dead Kennedys would have done had they been prog rock.

Ain't Life Dumb
A playful cut, this combines folk rock with prog rock and a real sense of weirdness.

A Frog for You
Another exploration in odd progressive rock, this seems to combine Pentwater with Frank Zappa, blues rock and White Witch. It’s one of the cooler cuts on show and works through strange change after strange change. There’s some killer saxophone soloing on show, too.

Hogshead
Combine King Crimson with Pentwater and Zappa on this track and you’ve got a pretty good idea. Of course, it does shift out into weirder territory later. The vocals join and the track moves into a RIO meets blues rock band approach.

Manic Detective
This one’s more cohesive than some of the others and perhaps closer to pure psychedelia.

Brown Algae Is Attractive
Either the chaos is starting to seem normal by now, or this psychedelia meets prog weirdness is more accessible. This is my favorite cut to this point.

Plymouth Ascendants
This has a lot more classic rock texture to it. It’s not nearly as weird as some of the other stuff here. It’s a good tune. In fact, the extended closing jam here is my favorite part of the album to this point.

The Salient Sickle Sucker
An easier to take number, this reminds me a lot of King Crimson. There is some RIO-like music here at times and I can make out some Pentwater along with some psychedelic rock, too – but overall this is my favorite track to this point.

Hairy Bag
This short bit of weirdness feels like a continuation of the previous number in some ways.

Fast Bananas
This piece of weirdness has a lot of jazz on it, but a lot of Frank Zappa, too.

The Unfortunate Frankfurter Vendor
The strangeness continues. The lyrics to this are abrasive, but the music is pretty cool.

Last Dance
Imagine a more RIO oriented and weirder version of Frank Zappa and you are in the neighborhood of this piece.

Fill the Sheet
More of a balladic cut, this is still pretty weird.

The Still Nite
This is heavy and quite cool, but in many ways more of the slightly controlled chaos that dominates the disc.

Dance of the Ivy Dog
I pick up some of that Dead Kennedys thing here along with Pentwater. By this point, though, the weirdness is really starting to get mindnumbing.

Gotta Write A Poem
Here we go again, although, this has some pretty cool moments.

The Insipid City of York
This one’s a little more “normal.” There are still some odd timing changes and weird twists, but the main premise is more accessible and it feels a lot like some 1960’s psychedelia.

Board Organ (edit)
Here we have crazed RIO weirdness. It’s a real freakout.

The Continuing Story of Cragwheel the Corpse Pt. II
Combine ELP with Pentwater and Zappa and the Dead Kennedys and you’ll be pretty close to the idea here. The jam later is quite cool.

Lemon Flowers
This is a little more accessible. It’s psychedelia meets Pentwater.

Corrective Shoes
Old time music is blended with RIO on this piece of insanity. That’s alternated with a piece of catchy psychedelia that takes it out.

Pale Hippo
A hard rocking piece of strangeness, this is oddly catchy.

Sorry
If you ignore the weird vocals, this cut is a pretty cool prog rock instrumental rather like Zappa throughout quite a bit of its duration.

Chess is Boring
Chess might be boring, but this is weird. It’s also very short – less than a minute.

The Plague
This is one of the coolest tracks on show here.

OHO & out.

November 2010

10.07.10--2010

Baltimore County Senior Idol Contest: Even my journeyman performance of OHO’s “Out of Thin Air” failed to earn me a spot in the winners’ circle. The competition was, however, fiercely competitive presenting a field of contestants with a wide range of vocal styling. The opportunity presenting itself was to perform one song (I accompanied myself on acoustic guitar—using the C pentatonic tuning and relying for the first time on a baritone .070 gauge low “C” string to better facilitate my staying in tune…which BTW both I & the guitar did) before an audience of several hundred of my peers. A reasonably sized stage was provided with an ample sound reinforcement system that, for a refreshing change, I did not have to contribute to setting up, running, breaking down and packing up to be transported, then later unloading once again upon returning it to where it usually would be housed.

Having to compete with (the winning) singers covering “Getting to Know You” (from “The King & I”) and a convincing rendition of a (title unknown to me) C&W classic; choosing to instead perform an obscure “original” was taking an enormous risk that one contestant identified as “certain death,” having himself in previous competitions, twice attempted this very same feat. Erring on the side of caution he covered Kenny Rogers’ “You Took a Fine Time to Leave Me, Lucille” and not faring any better this time out, I was happy to have engaged the opportunity to sing a classic OHO song to so many audients despite the somewhat disappointing outcome.

I savored the complimentary assessments of the competition’s 3 judges who unanimously verified the performance to be one of quality. One of the triumvirate, noting the courage required to sing one’s own composition, asked me if I had released any commercial CD’s. I replied that OHO could boast a world-wide constituency consisting of “tens” of faithful fans.

All contestants then joined in a moving a cappella version of “God Bless America” that raised a patriotic audience of several hundred from their seats, joining their own voices with those of the 10 finalists. My spouse on a Las Vegas trip with one of her girlfriends, I was privileged to convince my 86 year old first cousin Elaine Flitt to escort me on this adventure. She thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon festivities, often joining in singing along with those ditties familiar to her during a musical event that celebrated the accomplishment of surviving a long life and the inherent privilege of aging in a free country.

10.12.10—Recording session at The Bratt Studio in Woodlawn, MD: I planned to attempt the vocals for “Denial,” the centerpiece of part one of our Ahora! suite. When I opened the portfolio housing the lyrics I had saved over the last 6 years I noticed pretty much a hodge-podge with much scribbling and lined out phrases. I was certain I had come a bit further than this. Alas, too may Stella Artois’ at the Wicked Weather Farm poolside last summer when I imagined that I had finally completed this task. Mea culpa, here’s merely another example of my own laziness before the requirements of achieving this aim. I will forgive myself and move on, using this as a reminder to address this, and soon.

So, Mr. Pratt and I downloaded the original tracks for “Psychedelic Nun” from the 12.02.02 St. Joseph’s Ass session at Sheffield Recording Ltd., transferred the 3 OHO cover tracks (to work incrementally toward the goal of assembling 15 or so cover tunes spanning our 40 year career—aha! just remembered another possible candidate for inclusion: the Vulgarian medley of “Small World/Over, Under, Sideways, Down”-visit the “What’s Up?” diary entry from July 2010 for more on this track) from a 1989-90 impromptu David Kelly, Grace Hearn, J.P. Graboski session; and…transferred some El Sledge+ live footage from their recent Sonar gig with the intention of selecting some swashbuckling stills to incorporate with Jeff Pivec’s and our own B-roll footage of that same Bethany Beach shoot from this past September. Again, we’re gearing up to produce a short video of OHO’s “The Plague” that incorporates vintage Super 8mm footage of a 1975 OHO live show at Oddfellows Hall in Towson, MD to improve on the one currently posted to YouTube that features a still of the Little Wing Okinawa release while the tune plays.

10.24.10—Jay performs with Mystic I at the Center for Spiritual Living service in Timonium, MD. Gonzo pianist, Ray Jozwiak, has joined our musical team committed to providing spiritually uplifting music for these services on a monthly basis as well as offering to perform at a variety of related events and venues. Ray, Jay, the late Greg Marsh (sax) & David (alternating musical chairs with the late OHO drummer, Jeffrey Graboski) performed together in Ful Treatment, a “wedding band” playing mostly covers at weddings—including my own on 09.10.77, American Legion halls, bull roasts, private parties and a number of taverns and local bars from 1977-1979 when Ray left (not only the band, but music altogether for about 20 years) to marry spouse Pam and begin a family (3 boys).

An interesting yet not-so-flattering story about the Ful Treatment band takes us back to circa 1978 when we were hired by the owner of The Rocket Lounge (on Harford Rd. in Baltimore city) for the purpose of driving the younger patrons OUT of the bar. I can only surmise that these folks irritated the tavern regulars (I pray it wasn’t a commentary on our “sound” as it seems absurd to me that there existed an establishment that actually sought out “lousy” entertainment). But the lounge owner was willing to give each Ful Treatment member a 33 1/3% raise to effectuate this unusually bizarre request (from $30 to $40 per man, per evening) over what we were being paid at that time for playing Fridays and Saturday evenings at Ernel’s in Curtis Bay (the only place in my 60 year lifetime, BTW, where I ever witnessed a wooden bar chair being smashed into bits over the head of another human being by an irate and obviously intoxicated patron). (Ernel’s was a “port” bar that lured sailors and merchant seamen on shore leave to a somewhat seedy world that promised relief from long periods of confinement to vessels at sea . We immediately lay down and went into our hypnotic and patriotically soothing version of “God Bless America”).

Ray’s addition to Mystic I opens up a lot of space for fills, soloing and generally has urged me to shift my accent from acoustic rhythmic strumming to a sparser more electronic, garnishing approach. I’m stumbling happily through this initiatory stage where, among my many faux pas there glisten moments of fortunately arrived at notes, ringing in pleasing tones.

Ray has a released a number of CD’s featuring his “Gonzo” styled, original piano music, much that has garnered the praise of music critics. Do yourself a favor and check him out at www.rayjozwiak.com. Here you may find out about Ray, view his performance calendar and find links to acquiring his recordings.

I am currently auditioning a Fender Acoustasonic Telecaster that sports a stock Fender Tele single coil pick up in the neck position and a Fishman transducer at the bridge. There is a Fishman Aura selector switch governing a choice of 4 separate acoustic models so the guitarist can choose from among the electric, the acoustic(s) or a blend of the two and, if s/he so chooses, may direct each of these outputs to separate amplifiers for isolation and further processing. Honestly, the guitar really does not sound convincingly as an acoustic but does, when channeling its tones through say, a Jangle Box, (and when pinched then released by a radically set “attack” control of this magical compressor) provide an array of charmingly, sweet to about-to-be-nasty, chiming tones that span the spectrum from lilting to biting, sonically suited to those Mystic I and, of course, OHO sounds.

Latest Okinawa review from the October 2010 edition of Shockwave magazine (& YES we edited out all the uncomplimentary text as we are paying to maintain this site & will publish only what we please):

"A musical freak show from start to finish!"

Author: Justin Baird, Radical Reviews (Shockwavemagazine.com)

In 1974 a quintet from Baltimore recorded an eccentric LP called "Okinawa." Due to the independent distribution of this record the original release is very scarce. 3 dozen years later Rockadrome Records has redistributed the album to a new generation & a digital audience. The record plays like a musical freak show from start to finish. From the opening track, "Laughing," listeners know they're in for something unique. Described as Baltimore's answer to Pink Floyd...be warned that this is NOT the popularized Roger Waters material like "The Wall" or "Dark Side of the Moon." "Okinawa" is more similar to Syd Barrett's psychedelic writing style. Unlike Barrett-era Floyd, OHO has a lighter & sometimes comedic feel. OHO does seem like they would have put on an interesting stage show.

Fulfilling our commitment to address the questions from the 08/25/09 KZMU/SHO OHO radio interview sequentially, we answer the final & 16th query following the airing of "Arclight" from the in-progress-and-intended-to-be-forthcoming OHO suite “Ahora!”

16. "Arclight" (3:55)—2009 (Ben Davis, Jay & Matt Graboski, David Reeve, Sue Tice)

Arclight

Artist: OHO/Release date: as yet unreleased/ Label info: most likely OHO Music

Request: You and son Matt have attended Guitar Craft courses held by King Crimson guitarist, Robert Fripp, in November 1985 & April 2005 (Jay) and in 2002 and 2006 (Matt), the former near Santa Barbara, CA; the latter being held near Mendoza, Argentina . We know that OHO drummer, David Reeve, also attended a "Music for Non-musicians" weekend in 1987 (also conducted by Mr. Fripp) with you, a former OHO vocalist and bassist/engineer/producer Steve Carr. Please tell us of the impact Guitar Craft has had on OHO & OHO music since that first course you attended in West Virginia in '85.

(“Arclight” is an example of the type of music that has come out of our Guitar Craft experiences. And as it is difficult to describe music verbally we offer this mp3 version that we trust will suffice as a satisfying example of the way our music has been affected by our involvement with and within GC. RF called it “A good piece of work.”)

In this on-line journal we have often keyed about GC, the NSTuning, pertinent aphorisms and touched upon our participatory experiences at and during actual courses. My involvement, although admittedly “on the periphery” has nevertheless had a dramatic impact on my approach to composing and performing our particular brand of progressive pop. Since being introduced to the NST in November 1985, more than ¾ of the OHO music penned by me began with my playing (& noodling about) with this revolutionary pentatonic tuning.

Ditto with son Matthew who in El Sledge+ employs the NST almost exclusively and in a much more experimental manner, both in live performance as well as in the recording studio.

“GC is different from Western approaches to learning guitar in that it has both inner & outer dimensions. No doubt this is true of all useful & necessary endeavors, but in the Guitar Circle both are explicitly addressed. At Berklee, I’m not aware that students learn to sit for half an hour, doing nothing, before they play their instruments. Here, we practice the instrument & the person simultaneously, each supporting the other, and both within the social context of performance (formal & informal).

Historically, students have inclined more towards the guitar or the craft in Guitar Craft: the “outer” & “inner” approaches; the what & the how of becoming a guitarist, musician & person; alternatively expressed, addressing function & being. Functionally, the calisthenics & primary exercises support the establishment of an efficient & sound executant technique, whatever the individual’s personal aim. A significant proportion of lifers are more attracted to the craft side; with guitar, music & performance supporting their work in developing a personal practice. The form GC courses adopt encourage initiative; and develop social skills by working in concert & community with others: many people in one body, both unique & a multiplicity. All this, to make available the direct & immediate experience of Music flying by & carrying us with it.

Noting, the best players leave. Working with the musically modestly-endowed is too frustrating. Guitar Craft was a kindergarten; those who grew quickly left as new youngsters continued to arrive, and old youngsters to grow slowly.” RF on-line diary entry dtd 10/03/10

For a more subjective/all-inclusive account on what it was like to attend a Guitar Craft course during the mid-to-late 80’s, let me recommend Chapter Ten: Guitar Craft from Eric Tamm’s book “Robert Fripp—From Crimson King to Crafty Master.” This entire chapter may be perused at www.progressiveears.com/frippbook/ch10.htm. “The only available account of an early course is that of Eric Tamm; this is an excellent chapter, for me the best chapter, in his book.” (From RF’s 07.08.08 on-line diary entry)

In September (2, 3 & 4), 1988 the OHO team (consisting then of Grace, Steve Carr, David and myself) attended The Weekend for Non-Musicians at Claymont Court near Charles Town, WV. “This weekend is open to 3 categories of people: the untrained and aspiring musician, the trained and incompetent musician and the competent musician who feels out of touch with the quality of music…The only qualification is a genuine wish to be involved with music. A total lack of experience upon any musical instrument is not an obstacle at all. Anyone who would like to have fun with music is eligible. Work will focus on relaxation and attention, & the musical work will include percussion and voice. So we can add a fourth category of person: the tone deaf with no sense of rhythm.”

Two weeks later OHO flew to North Hollywood as finalists in the Yamaha Sound Check competition. I’m fairly certain I recommended that we all attend this weekend as a sort of preparation for the trip as we had no experience in performing live. Up to this point we were a “studio” band, relying on current technologies, our songwriting and musical talents in a protected environment and with the luxury of as many “do overs” as were required to arrive a satisfactory recording. In fact our recordings of “Breaking Away” and “Till Death Do Us Part” were those that earned us our status as finalists in this competition.

(I remember that I was having some difficulty with the signature guitar riff for “Till Death” at most {if not all} of the rehearsals while in southern California. In Guitar Craft we had been introduced to a series of primaries, the first was termed {as I recall} the “Reference of Quality” exercise, the power of which RF admonished us not to underestimate. To this assertion I can say “Amen!” without reservation. In fact the only time I played the song correctly the entire week we were in LA was at the actual Universal Amphitheater performance on September 16, 1988. So, here is one simple example that illustrates the effectiveness of applying GC principles in a performance environment. So I was then and currently remain a believer.)

There were four “sections”: strings, percussion, horns and voices. Each group worked among themselves until Saturday evening when all four sections convened in “the great room” for a spontaneous concert by each section first, followed by a full “orchestra” performance before an assembly of Charles Town locals and “Continuing Education” residents. The final concert was much cooler than I would have predicted and the experience was powerful and moving to audients and participants alike.

It was interesting to find out the variety of motivations for why certain people, especially the non-musicians, attended this weekend. One young lady volunteered that she wanted to better understand the fierce influence music had on her boyfriend, often feeling that for him, music came before her in his life priorities and for her, this was an attraction she could not compete with. Many discovered that the barriers they believed excluded their participation in the ever present benevolence (of music) were imaginary and/or self-imposed.

David Reeve was slightly annoyed by what he considered to be a type of “ass-kissing” that manifested in certain attendees as a mimetic approximation of the demeanor of certain high-profile “crafties,” including the director himself by volunteers. This irritation did not spoil for him what he believed to be the underlying intent of the weekend that he expressed simply as “Don’t be me. Just be.”

Relaxed and with our collective spirits in a slightly elevated state when we departed Claymont Court (where Frank Stockton is alleged to have written his “The Lady or the Tiger”), we stopped near Harpers Ferry to wade in the shallow waters of the Potomac where we were soon dealing again with pesky realities of existence in the form of leeches that began to attach themselves to us, driving us out of the historic river, up the bank to our vehicle whereby we made our swift getaway to our respective points of origin.

In two weeks we were back at Claymont Court performing a dress rehearsal set for upcoming 09.16.88 Yamaha Sound check with ringers Glenn Workman (keyboards/voice), Bill Janssen (woodwinds and backing vocals) and Tom Hirschman (trumpet and acoustic guitar). OHO & out.

October 2010

Happy Halloween!

“Oh no, must be the season of the witch, yeah, must be the season of the witch.”—Donovan Leitch

“A witch’s nature is nothing more than exaggerated femininity carried to illicitly stimulating extremes…with male warlocks playing hardly any role. Love…has at all times stood at the center of witchcraft, and…magic in the service of love is quite rightly considered the epitome of magic, its naturally preferred object. And so it can happen that the name and nature of the divine are merged in the monstrous, with bitch and mistress becoming one, for we are dealing after all with the arch-bitch, to which all the characteristics of the mistress inherently belong—just as Tabubu, when invoking the assistance of this epitome of all filthy debauchery, would speak of her as “Our Gracious Lady Bitch.”—Thomas Mann (Joseph and His Brothers, page 999)

09.14.10—Jay auditioned a solo performance “Out of Thin Air” for this year’s Senior Idol competition at the Bykota Senior Center in Towson, MD before a group of his peers and was chosen as a finalist. This event will be held on Thursday, October 7 on the main stage at the Promenade Palace during the 2nd day of the Baby Boomer Expo at Timonium fairgrounds. The competition is fierce.

09.26.10—Jay performed 4 songs with inspirational band, Mystic I, in the AM at a Center for Spiritual Living (Science of Mind) service in Timonium, MD, then an hour set later in the day at The World Peace Party at Sweet Peace Farm in Westminster, MD that featured a Flute Journey, Drumming Circle, Dances of Universal Peace, a Sunrise Agnihotra/Spiritual Service and a moving Peace Pole Ceremony.

Another favorable Okinawa review has reached my home; this time by way of Progression magazine (Issue #60 AUTUMN 2010). Progression employs a numerical CD rating system with 16 being the highest score any CD can garner and OHO's Okinawa has “topped out” with a rating of "16." Here's the text:

OHO

Okinawa

1974/2010 (CD, 73:50)

ROCKADROME/VINTAGE 28 V-2

PROGRESSIVE/PSYCHEDELIC

Rating 16

Longtime readers certainly recall Baltimore's OHO, subject of a feature way back in Issue No. 28. This six-panel digipak, complete with 20-page booklet (featuring original artwork from the private 1974 release), is the first proper digital representation of this masterwork of pre-RIO/art-punk cabaret freakadelia.

Sonically, this production obviously is superior to the boots lurking about, but not as "woofy" as the '96 Little Wing LP reissue

For all the well-deserved ink Okinawa garners for its compositional innovations, no one has mentioned the deadly chops of some of the players themselves. Drummer Larry Bright was a 17-year-young wunderkind when he joined OHO, and has gone on to work with Miles Davis, Kenny Wright, and a who's who of fusion. He positively soars on every cut, and the Boris McFinnie horns superbly punctuate four tracks. Fans of Residents, Fugs, early Mothers, Pere Ubu, Henry Cow, and other artists who cock a snook at life and can play, cannot afford to be without this.

-John Patrick

And “The Review” from www.ProgNaut.com:

“Packed with mucho and fast moving music which is often crazed recitation and even screaming words that may or may not make one bit of sense to the listener. A 1970's Baltimore MD prog band, this is a difficult listen at times, but you must give it more than one listen thru to really get the best from it. It's rare, but there are even some really beautiful mellotron prog rock parts, although followed by the talking and the more zany concoction of jazz/rock/pop/classical in avant garde format. It's a good bet that lovers of early to mid period Gong (a nod to Dave Allen ) will dig this. Some of it reminds me of the more comical early British rock recordings and pieces of Frank Zappa, Supersister, Samla Mammas Manna (in their zany outrageous mode ) and some direct Beatles acknowledgment. With 30 songs, you get quite the kitchen sink of music styles but all in a very eccentric format. Also beware it sometimes sounds like music you and some of your friends might do one night after heavy drinking (or drugs, if you prefer). Both might be applicable.

What stands out is the fact that OHO have an abundance of talent and most of the musicianship is really good to excellent. It's only the rushed recording and production that hurt them the most on this release. And for anyone who only owns their "Bricolage" or "Up" CD and not this one yet, then double beware, as both of those have female vocals and is melodic with exact song structure in the Blackmore's Night, Maggie Reilly, Pentangle, and a mix of more modern aggressive prog folk female fronted groups and early haunting folk bands.

'Okinawa' is ambitious, and it's crazy as hell most of the time, but RIO fans might just like this a good deal. If all this sounds a bit uneven, it is. You have to be in a receptive frame of mind to sit thru this almost 74 minutes of nonstop semi assault on your good nature. You might be like me and scratch your head when those moments of pure classic progressive rock ala VDGG come along; the rest of the time it's almost like Peter Hammill gone wild with some unknown bunch of backing musicians. The vocals sometimes singing, sometimes screaming, ranting, and talking, most remind me of Hammill in some imaginative varied states of mind.

The conclusion of 'Okinawa' is a bit like weeding a garden so you have all the beautiful flowers left to adore. The last song really makes you wish the whole thing sounded like that. But those abrasive and indulgent babblings may be your weeds. That said, I felt exhausted after listening to the whole thing twice and then a 3rd time 2 days later. But I always keep my rule of a fair review, and listen to each disc at least 3 times before I commit the review publicly. Some discs get better and unveil their layers, and some may just sit at the same place after the 3rd listen. One thing for sure, this CD is an adventure and I didn't hate it. I actually really liked it for that mood where I just need something that gets nutty and beautiful all in one sitting. I loved some of it where it actually gets beautiful and big like those nice progressive rock songs we lust for. Now excuse me while I weed the garden.” --Reviewed by Lee Henderson on September 16th, 2010

Followed by Mr. Henderson’s “The Review” of OHO’s Bricolage CD/DVD:

“If you have only heard ‘Okinawa' by Oho, then you'll be shocked at the absolute about face that both ‘Bricolage' and their "Up" CD present to the world. I can't think of another band that has changed their style so drastically. I don't know the reason but I suspect it had to do with either staying in semi obscurity, or attempting to make some money at their craft.

Oho has gone from avant/psycho/psychedelic/prog rock to female fronted music. Songs are in the Maggie Reilly, Iona, Blackmore's Night, Clannad, and older British folk rock bands of 70's like Mellow Candle etc. vein.

The music is very easy on the ears with lots of violin, finger picked strings, and modern production. ‘Bricolage" flirts with techno, female rock, and crosses over from a more folk rock to pop throughout the 20 songs. It's not in bad taste, nor is it weak or boring. The more prog folk songs are what make this CD really special though. It depends entirely on the listener, whether or not the more commercial pop songs are a good or bad thing. One thing for sure, OHO sobered up and now writes music safe enough for your grandmother and children. In fact, Jay and one of the female singers go to what appears to be a 1st or 2nd grade elementary school class to perform "The Secret" live for the kids on last cut of the bonus DVD included. All in all, the band has grown up now and become responsible adults and parents.

Speaking of the DVD. It is not a live version of the CD. Many of the songs were not even on the original CD issue, but they did add those songs (studio version) to the bonus tracks of this new reissue pack. It's a fairly nice DVD with a mix of short interviews, videos, and various live appearances with a couple of little comical touches. Seeing the band live removes some of the mystique (esp. if you are still thinking about "Okinawa" and any of their other more abstract releases). This band is still a large group of musicians that enjoy whatever type music they are doing. While not all a great quality sound or filming, some of it is every bit as good as ETV gigs like Austin City Limits and Sound Stage. As for the performances, the dark haired female singer seemed awkward on stage and did better in the videos. Most live selections were late 80's and 1990 shows. Some of it is homemade video which isn't much to look at or listen to. The 2nd female vocalist begins with "Angels" and is much more comfortable and seemingly experienced as front woman for the band.

Overall, this entire package is nice. The DVD is excellent for the curious, and partially nice for entertainment. The videos ‘Danger & Play" and "Controlled Substance" are real good. and professionally done. The CD is full of very pleasant songs and you get 7 bonus songs in this reissued version. If you like this one, pick up their CD called "Up' as well.” --Reviewed by Lee Henderson on September 23rd, 2010

(Continuing to address the KZMU/SHO OHO questions from the 08/25/09 radio interview one by one, we’re now up to the 15TH and penultimate query following the airing of "Hungry" performed by St. Joseph’s Ass and recorded by Bill Pratt at The Bratt Studio in Woodlawn, MD in 2003.)

15. "Hungry" (3:56)—2003 (Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil) Artist: St. Joseph's Ass, Release date: unreleased, Label info: N/A

Question: St. Joseph's Ass? My ass is more like it.” (J. Doug Gill, City Paper 01.10-17.96) “The ‘Ass’ are an artistic collective residing in the Baltimore, MD area intent on making Thrash Symphonic music that is self-revelatory. Their music is fast and hard, employing minor sounding chord intervals and is lyrically “death.” While “Thee Song” encapsulates then transcends the genre, “E-E” sounds like a post-millennium Iron Butterfly, shadowed by a nightmarish symphonia. “Body Shock” begins country-train-like, pedal-to-the-metal through lava-layered guitars to a looping finale before an orchestral wash, Leslie’d on high rinse…exhausting!” (from the band’s promo 1-sheet, early 00’s’)

From 1994-2001 St. Joseph’s Ass was a trio: Gyro (vocals, bass), David Reeve (percussion and keyboards) and JPG on guitar. Keyboardist Johnny Cochran joined in 2001. Songwriting was attributed to the group with highlights appearing as a trio of their songs on disc #2 of the now out-of-print B-more anthology Best of Baltimore’s Buried Bands II (www.cdbaby.com/cd/ohocomp).

The Ass along with Lunar Merchant were both semi-finalist bands in Musician Magazine’s “1996 Best Unsigned Bands Competition” (& oh how I miss those contests) and actually did win Sheffield Audio Video Productions’ “Contest in the Recording Arts” in 2002 netting the band a day of free recording at Sheffield, an opening slot at a Maryland State Fair performance and an Audix microphone. At the early 2002 Sheffield session the Ass recorded the basic tracks for “We’re Men” (featured as a bonus MP3 accompanying this month’s “What’s Up?” entry), the band’s cover version of Paul Revere & The Raiders’ “Hungry,” “The Next Song” and the still-unfinished “Psychedelic Nun” (I have booked an “odds ‘n’ ends” session where we will transfer those tracks to disc for evaluation and possible completion—always one of our favorite Food for Worms tunes that, unfortunately, never saw the light of day in any completed form other than “live”).

We're Men "St Joseph's Ass"

At The Bratt Studio overdub session for “The Next Song,” the blazing riffage of “Top Man on the Nut Pole” (thus uniting for the first time since the mid-70s 3 of the original 4 Outrageous members) was employed for the guitar solos executed with his usual panache, bringing the total recorded output for this team to 6 songs. We managed to play out a number of times, mostly at The Club Mojo and at Keith Drexel’s surprise party celebrating his completion of the requirements for his Master’s degree.

The enthusiasm, however, began to wane as, in the usual barely-existent way, very little was being done to effectively promote the music (although David and I were guaranteed that we’d be living in a penthouse very shortly—needless to say this promise to date has NOT yet been fulfilled). It was impossible to get airplay even on college radio stations for a number of the tunes due to the graphic and “profane” nature of the lyrics; and the 2 (two) members with connections to the progressive music press protected their anonymity behind pseudonyms, making it unlikely that we would be able to utilize any notoriety they may have accumulated as a result to bolster the profile of their own band. With hands tied and with no alternative promotional methods revealing themselves, we settled for sporadic inclusions on a trio of compilation CD’s.

Still, working with Gyro, Dave & Johnny was a lot of fun and it was educational to find that, with the proper tutelage, we effectively negotiated the challenges presented by this musical foray into the foreign genre of Thrash Symphonix.

OHO and out.

September 14, 2010

“Gentlemen,

I am a disc jockey at radio station WUJC (John Carroll University in University heights, Ohio) and when we received a promo copy of The Best of Baltimore’s Buried last year (1980), I paid little attention to it. Then one day up at the station, I had a little time to kill, so I went into our production studio and threw it on the turntable. I started with side 2—nothing great—then went through the first four cuts on side 1—again, nothing great. But then the needle hit on cut #5—The Weaszels’ ‘I’m Still Wild!”—and neither I nor the studio have been the same since. From the opening countdown to the final climax, this is ONE GREAT rock ‘n’ roll tune!!!!

What first tipped me off about this phenomenal rocker was that the wax started to melt as it was spinning!!!! I started to scream hysterically to everyone who was around, proclaiming this the greatest rock ‘n’ roll to come out in years!! I haven’t heard such a powerful song in years. It immediately conjured up images of 1960’s garage/punk music, of which I am very fond: raw, raunchy guitar & vocals; a DRIVING beat & rhythm; very RAW production (like it was recorded on a 4-track in a basement or something); and above all, ENERGY—more energy than a nuclear power plant!!! What a rocker!!

This tune has got it, from start to finish—no other current or recent group or song have been able to capture the ‘60’s garage/punk feel or mentality as have The WEASZELS and ‘I’m Still Wild!’ I consider myself to have impeccable taste in music—I can appreciate the rock of the 1950’s, the various sounds of the ‘60’s, as well as heavy metal, punk (1970’s style), and just about any other type of rock ‘n’ roll. I dislike most of the groups and songs being released today on major labels because most of them don’t know what rock ‘n’ roll is—they sound so LAME & manufactured; too slick, like they’re putting out a record without putting any feeling into it. If a song has ENERGY & the band is shooting from the heart, I can tell, and it moves me. I can truly appreciate a mover, like ‘I’m Still Wild!’

After my initiation to The WEASZELS, I began recruiting other DJ’s up at the station, trying to corner them & get them to listen to this fab sound. This is usually not too difficult, since my ‘performances’ are near-legendary at WUJC: whenever I play this song for others in the studio, or when I play it on the air (I play it EVERY DAY that I am on the air), something comes over me, takes hold of me like no other song I’ve heard. I mean, I love rock ‘n’ roll and I get into heavy metal (I have a Saturday show, the HEAVY METAL RENDEZVOUS, and my air guitar is in constant use during the 4 hours I am on), 1960’s garage/punk, The Rolling Stones, The Sonics (yeah!) and lots more. But when The WEASZELS come on, boy oh boy, I crank the studio monitors (‘I’m Still Wild’ holds my all-time crank-record high), whip out my air guitar (I’ve got the whole song down pat—one of these days I’m going to enter a local air guitar contest with ‘I’m Still Wild!’ and win myself a Fender Strat) & air mic, and I just lose it—everyone up at the station at a moment like this watches me as I jam away, screaming into my air mic, RUNNING around the studio like a spastic caught up in the frenzy of a convention of armed lunatics, jumping up and down!!! I must admit, I put Angus Young to shame!!! Like I said, I have never reacted to a song with so much intensity before, although I have whipped out my air guitar and air mic a million times before. ‘I’m Still Wild’ is one incredible tune!

I have turned on at least 3 or 4 other WUJC DJ’s to that song, if he’s never heard it before. So, at least he’s aware of it. And I give him the whole show—first the speech about how ‘I’m Still Wild!’ IS rock ‘n’ roll (‘c’mon—instead of playing Journey for the millionth time, try The WEASZELS once.’), then the free show I give whenever the song is within earshot. This usually does the trick—as I said, my performances are near-legendary at the station. Now, I usually don’t push my musical tastes on other people (no matter how little taste they have). But I can’t help it with The WEASZELS. Now, everyone at FM 89 knows about them, and new DJ’s being trained for on-the-air spots get drilled (‘you aren’t a real DJ up here until you’ve played The WEASZELS’’ I’m Still Wild!’’). Even the liner notes are great: ‘ATTACK GUITAR’ (!), ‘MOTIVATION’, the ‘LUFTWAFFEN CHORUS’ (!), and who could deny ‘SISTER MARY PERFUNCTORY’?

That organ and synthesizer are the only clues that the tune is not straight out of the garage/punk era (how did they get that overall sound? Sounds like an old Fender Mustang run through a cheapie Sears amp {or VOXX instruments?}--what a SOUND!!!!). The organ & synthesizer are used sparingly—just enough to leave you begging for more, but not overdone at all. Great!

I love this song—it’s one of my top-5 faves of all time! And that is no small feat, because I have literally hundreds of favorite songs that I love, headed by the Stones’ ‘Jumpin Jack Flash’ & Them’s ‘Gloria’ (not necessarily in that order). I’m not just saying that—I mean it sincerely. No song has moved me like ‘I’m Still Wild.’ I fell so strongly about The WEASZELS & the song that, if I were wealthy, I would come to Baltimore just to see The WEASZELS. No, I would hire The WEASZELS to come play in my living room (I have a feeling my parents wouldn’t appreciate it, tho), or I would rent out the Cleveland Agora. And I’m dead serious. I just can’t say enough about them or the song.

Well, I can’t think of anything else I wanted to say. ‘What brought all this on?’ you ask. Well, the back of the LP asked me to ‘drop us a line…’ Don’t think that’s the only reason I wrote, tho. If I didn’t love that tune, no way would I have written (especially a letter of this length). I decided to write you about 9 months ago, but I just found the time & effort to sit down & do it. I hope you’ve stuck with me this far!

So, please send me more info on recordings available from the ‘TOY-GOHOG-BALTO-WEIRD’ family, as well as other independently produced local records. I definitely enjoyed (UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE DECADE!) The WEASZELS (some of the other cuts are pretty decent, by the way), and I would like to hear more from them, as well as any other info you have on them.

I want to thank you for including WUJC on your mailing list, and for adding many, many moments of joy to my rock ‘n’ roll life via The WEASZELS track. I also want to mention that another local college radio station (WRUW) has been playing the LP (I have heard ‘I’m Still Wild!’ a few times on that station, and of course I call up & request it!). They feature a lot of new music, especially independent efforts. I have since bought the LP (I would have bought it even if ‘I’m Still Wild’ was the only song I liked on it—it’s worth twice the price) from SQUARE DEAL RECORD COMPANY’S independent catalog, which is the only place I’ve seen it for sale.

In closing, I want to say that everything contained here is 100% true, written in all sincerity, shot straight from my heart, with NO EXAGGERATION WHATSOEVER (except the part about the wax melting—this is one of my favorite parts of my act when I am initiating people to ‘I’m Still Wild!’—I’ll be bouncing off around the studio, careening off of chairs, record racks, whatever is at hand, jamming on my air guitar, when suddenly I’ll stop cold, stare at the spinning LP bug-eyed with my mouth hanging open, and I’ll stutter, “th…the wax—IT’S MELTING!!!!!!!!!! Damn, that’s a hot record!!!!!’ This immediately wins over another person to The WEASZELS’ cause, and anyone who doesn’t respond doesn’t know what great rock ‘n’ roll is, and he’s not worth it then anyway).

Well, keep up the good work—independents & locals are the backbone of the current rock scene—the only ones willing to take the risk & promote local artists who would otherwise not be heard. Good luck to ya!

Something I haven’t mentioned: ‘I’m Still Wild!’ is an anthem & will always be close to my heart. Also, if you have contact with the band, tell them a dedicated fan said, ‘Hi! Keep up the great work!’ Thanks. One thing I’d really like to do is get some members of the group to do a couple taped promos/I.D.’s for the station (‘this is FRITZ VON KRIZLER of The WEASZELS saying that you’re listening to WUJC, where things are still wild!’—or something in that vein that could be used over the air—about 4 or 5 different promos that I’d play all the time, especially prior to playing the song itself—WE COULD TAPE IT RIGHT OFF THE PHONE, UP AT THE STATION). And FINALLY, we at WUJC would appreciate any further promo records/material that you send out. Thank you. ROCK ON!

Sincerely,

Mitch Capka

June 11, 1981”

08.01.10—Mark from Holland conducted over-the-phone, transatlantic interview with Jay about the re-release of Okinawa.

08.10.10—Jay, David & Bill remix “Arclight” and “New Day” at The Bratt Studio in Woodlawn, MD.

08.15.10—A Dutch radio station airs OHO’s “The Salient Sickle Sucker” (Okinawa), “Time,” and “Dream Lifted Up” (both from the band’s 2008 Bricolage CD/DVD set).

08.19.10—Clean Cuts CEO Jack Heyrman phones, soliciting our interest in having our music included in their library for music to be considered incidentally for commercials, television programs and even films. We’re in.

08.26.10-- got my latest copy of SHINDIG! in the post where one may peruse this review of:

OHO/Okinawa

Rockadrome CD

www.rockadrome.com

The ever-excellent Rockadrome label changes step, releasing this 1974 private press prog/experimental LP from Baltimore fruit loops OHO. This version restores all the material that was supposed to make the original single LP a double--clocking in at a whopping 73 minutes. There's a huge variety of style and shapes on offer here, moving from spoken word theatricality to acidic guitar lines, which cut across consistently strong material. Despite the experimental nature of many of the songs, there are real tunes and hooks in abundance on many of the tracks. This is an absolutely unique record--think of it somewhere between Genesis and Zappa if you need a reference point. The tunefulness throughout acts a perfect counterweight to the more outlandish passages of music and surprises abound even after several listens

OHO conjure up a truly mind-melting alternative world that you'll want to visit again and again.

--Austin Matthews (Shindig! Issue #18, Sept-Oct 2010

09.07.10—Jay and videographer Jeff Pivec video tape Matt Graboski lip-syncing OHO’s “The Plague” at a dune just south of South Bethany Beach, DE (“ocean breezes smell of home”). The aim is to compose/edit a video using Frank Pondolfina’s vintage 8mm film tape of a 1975 OHO performance at the Oddfellows Hall in Towson. MD; then to interweave this with more recent HD footage that we trust will visually represent what we have sonically achieved on the 2008 update of this OHO classic.

09.10.10—besides being Jay and Joan’s 33RD wedding anniversary, DGM has finally positioned Okinawa on a shelf in their on-line shop where, along with Bricolage, it is now also available for purchase (www.dgmlive.com/shop/) (search “OHO”)

(Continuing to address the KZMU/SHO OHO questions from the 08/25/09 radio interview one by one, we’re now up to the 14TH query following the airing of "Your Luck Is Awake" performed by The Weaszels and recorded live-to-digital-2 track at Hit & Run Recording in Rockville, MD by engineer Steve Carr in 1996.)

14. "Your Luck Is Awake" (3:49), 1996 (Jay Graboski), Artist: The Weaszels, (unreleased) label info: n/a

Question: My understanding is that you were a member of The Weaszels from 1974 until you resigned in 1999. You also submitted their Whack 'n' Wild CD to KZMU for airplay consideration. Were the Weaszels planning another release at the time of your departure?

I was a member of The Weaszels from sometime in 1975 until January 1999 when I submitted my controversial letter of resignation due to a perceived mutinous attitude manifested by the remaining band members. Fundamentally this engine had run out of steam and my conviction then (& it remains so to this day) was that, despite the fact physical bodies were showing up at every practice (some carrying toxic psychological baggage into my basement and then attempting to unload it onto me in this sacred space, i.e. our home), the spirit of the band had long since vacated the premises (I knew for certain that my heart was no longer in this). The membership was obviously not willing to do what must be done in order to sustain a healthy, vital band or do what was necessary to maintain an environment that fostered creativity. That is, outwardly having agreed to do something they really did not want to do, they subtly undermined completion of the formerly, mutually agreed upon aims of the band (the primary goal being that we would BE the best band we could be under our specific circumstances and with the given personnel) via a typically passive-aggressive behavioral stance. This was pervasive & thus it qualified as a “mutiny.”

This “hunch” was apparently not cognizable to the other 4 members on any conscious level (thus conveniently insulating them from any complicity in their somnambulistic conspiracy) and time proved my quickly-arrived-at assessment to be accurate, as after my departure, a few scattered performances and “jam” sessions, this limping pack of carnivorous mammals gradually petered out musically and ultimately just stopped moving altogether.

Having experienced versions of this unfortunate and somewhat sad inevitability many, many times already in other groups and in a variety of similar but subtly varied circumstances, I reluctantly resigned from the Weaszel band just shy of reaching my ¼ century membership milestone. Again this process was necessarily drawn out another 3 or 4 months because of prior performance commitments but in an unnecessarily cold and passive-aggressive psychological atmosphere that I resent and still find confounding. (When Rick Levine moved to Florida there was a party, but when I left I could smell the “tar” and a lynch mob at my heels. Where was my party?) In fact, one member abstained from playing this handful of final gigs (one being a fund-raising benefit for the son of a work mate who was suffering from a terminal cancer), citing health issues as his reason. Yet, if one were to have monitored his attendance at his job (SSA) during that same time frame (the Spring of ’99) , he may have easily qualified for a “perfect attendance” citation…lies, falseness, fakeness & more lies.

The Weaszels, with their ever-changing cast of players, revolved primarily around lynchpins singer Birnie and me, at least most of the time after I joined in ’75. There was perhaps a 2 year lull of inactivity from 1980-82, but aside from this I remember attending Weaszel practices on the average of once-a-week for about 24 years. All of this activity coincided with my involvement with 70’s OHO, Dark Side, Trixy & Co., Food for Worms, Unyflow and even the OHO’s of 1984-1992, the latter band we often shared the bill with (along with Dark Side—BTW the keyboard player still, I believe, owes me $40 for his share of the payment for the Dark Side ’96 cassettes), especially from 1988-1992.

Our recorded output, scattered over two decades and aside from numerous practice 4-track and live recordings consisted of the anthemic Weaszel staple, “I’m Still Wild” (see transcription of DJ’s letter above) from The Best of Baltimore’s Buried LP (referred to as Volume 1 from 2003 on when Volume 2 was released on the OHO Music label), the 1992 CD release of Whack ‘n’ Wild on Gohog Discs and assorted sporadic inclusions on a number of locally released compilation CD’s.

Greg Allen’s “Turn It Up!” Whack ‘n’ Wild review from Alive! Magazine (July, 1993):

“This Baltimore aggregation is self-described as a quintessential combination of 60’s survivors armed with 90’s technology. That may be true, but to me it sounds like the major influences came from 70’s rock: Diamond Dogs-era Bowie and Mott the Hoople style glam rock, with enough diversity to throw in elements of 70’s progressive, funk/soul, power pop, and even rockabilly. The vocals are sometimes pouty, sometimes snotty. Besides killer guitar, there are splashes of sitar & horn sounds. Virtually every song is fun and infectious, with clever lyrics in the likes of ‘I’m Still Wild!,’ ‘Crack In the World,’ ‘Video Vixen,’ and ‘Masturbation’ topped only by the memorable melodies. With the necessary guts to go with the glitter, The Weaszels have come up with a wild, winning combination that’s hard to beat…I mean ‘WHACK!’”

Enough time has passed where I can now deal with this material without being significantly or negatively/emotionally affected. Another impetus in my revisiting the Weaszel material was the 2004 passing of long-time Weaszel bassist/guitarist/singer-songwriter, Ric Levine (who sometimes assumed the pseudonym of Ric Lately). Prior to his relocation to Boca Raton, FL in 1996, Ric had composed a handful of heartfelt originals, the themes of which reflected thoughtfully upon the demise of his marriage and his optimistic but reserved stance vis-a-vis his future. I could see that other former members, as far as I knew, were typically doing very little to establish a Weaszel homage to Rick or to honor the legacy of the band. So, as usual, it’s up/down to me to do it. Oh yeah, the answer BTW to the 2nd KZMU question is “yes,” we were planning to release another Weaszel CD.

We are currently assembling a 74+ minute Weaszel retrospective (1982-99) program (to be titled just WHACK! for digital downloading at all the usual sites but primarily headquartered at www.CDBaby.com) that will feature “I’m Still Wild” (the BBB Vol. 1 version--this line up featured Birnie Birnie on “Idiot rhythm and vocal,” Texas John Huxton {me} on “guitar & motivation,” Fritz von Krizler {Kraig Krixer} on “Attack guitar” & original Weaszel drummer, Jeff Chaney, along with guest performances by Sister Mary Perfunctory {“Panther organ and cyclone synthesizer”}, Steve “The Hulk” Richards on bass and the Luftwaffen Chorus on back up vocals); select cuts from the band’s Whack ‘n’ Wild CD, & 8 tracks recorded at Steve Carr’s Hit & Run Recording and Sheffield Recordings, Ltd. in Rockville, MD and Phoenix, MD respectively during the mid to late 1990’s.

During the 80’s the band’s line up changed, adding Rick Levine on bass (later “Crazy Ed” in the late 90’s), Mick McMick on guitar (1985) and a successive quartet of drummers beginning with Wayne Hildt in 1982 and ending with Vincent Tuminello, the group’s drummer at the time of my departure in 1999.

This anthology will include what I (by default assuming the role of arbiter for this project) consider to be the best representation of the recorded output of the band’s original music from 1982-1999, with an admitted leaning to the inclusion of MY material as I am doing it and, of course, I want to promote myself, the “What’s in it for me?” attitude being one I have assumed by osmosis after working with and watching the behavior of most of my other band mates for more than 30 years.

(There is also at least an hour’s worth of “cover” tunes by The Weaszels as well, 3 or 4 of which we are considering to eventually include with all the other covers we have recorded over the, as of this 2010 entry, past 33 years—St. Joseph’s Ass’ version of The Raiders’ “Hungry,” FFW’s “Masculine Intuition”(Music Machine), Unyflow’s “Just a Little,” Dark Side’s “Rendezvous,” the 3 Trixy & the Testone covers and 3 Dave Kelly duet recordings of me and Gracen Diamond performing “Hide Your Love Away,” Dylan’s “All I Really Want To Do,” and Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart.).

During the mid-to-late 90’s The Weaszels, along with Freak Accident, BLAMMO, Dark Side and even sometimes, the re-united OHO (70s edition) arrived at the following recipe to guarantee at least quarterly gigs at the then Café Tattoo in Baltimore, MD:

  1. 4 of the above bands would commit to quarterly bookings at the club. As there were four time slots with the first and last slots being unanimously deemed the most undesirable, the tacit agreement was that we would commit to 4 quarterly shows and rotate the bill so that each band would perform in every slot (once) by the end of the 4 shows. (Even this became problematic as there was one band in particular that once offered a flimsy excuse for NOT playing last. True that that band did once play the 1st set but after that it was something like, “My boss is coming and can’t stay up that late.” Like their band was the only one that had people coming who, depending on the performance order of that particular evening, might have to make the small sacrifice of staying up a little later. Well, the spokesperson for this group, as per the usual, got his way and upon the completion of the 4th or last quarterly gig at the Tattoo, BLAMMO had not yet played the 4th position in the previously agreed upon rotational plan. This, of course, necessitated that The Weaszels play last twice during that first cycle. Later, I patiently booked the first gig for the next year’s quarterly round of Tattoo gigs and noticed that BLAMMO had again “weaseled” their way out of playing last. As dealing with their band leader was nearly always an unpleasant experience, especially when confronted with issues of this nature, I decided to let the performance occur “as is” thus skirting another likely distasteful confrontation. Again The Weaszles were relegated to playing last, but I vowed after that to NOT book any more jobs. Apparently what was “fair” was NOT good enough for every participating group. And as I was the only one obviously interested enough to make things like this happen, that was the end of that experiment which, had every band honored their original commitment, could have gone on as long as we wanted, or until the venue closed, which I believe, it eventually did.)
  2. It being a small performance space, if each performer were to bring at least one guest than the venue would be packed with both performers and audients. It mattered little whether or not they paid admission, as long as they ordered beverages during the performance hours.
  3. BINGO! A sure-fire plan to guarantee being asked back to perform at this venue.

One more somewhat interesting anecdote about The Weaszels during this performance experiment period is when Mo Tucker (Velvet Underground alumnus) and her band wormed their way onto our bill on Saturday evening. Now Birnie was a big fan of Lou Reed and therefore, the Velvets, so playing with Mo’s band was something of an honor for all of us. We did wonder why they agreed to play the Tattoo as we suspected the pay check would likely be under $40.00 per group…as usual. Well, all the bands played and Mo’s band rocked the house that may have held (and this is a generous estimate) maybe 40 people…max. Anyone with basic arithmetic skills could scan the venue and do the math.

When it came time to pay the bands (and club owner Rick had forewarned everyone that the take at the door would be divided equally with a small % of the bar receipts added into the mix) The Mo Tucker band were livid that they had earned only $35.00 and some change. An argument ensued based from one end on the “Do you know who we are? We’re the Mo Tucker band and we command thousands of dollars per gig.” type of argument vs. Rick’s “I don’t care who you are, but this is how we do it here in my establishment; and you were told this prior to agreeing to perform here.” response.

Needless to say when Rick moved to Florida, leaving the venue to be run by Andy Bopp who renamed the club “The Mojo Lounge,” many high priced, 2nd tier bands played this tiny venue, one that even when packed liked canned sardines would be unable to generate anywhere near the amount of revenue needed to satisfy these groups’ contract demands. Now the venue lies sadly silent.

Our apologies for being late with the September diary entry but the 40+ paragraphs I attempted to save as a Yahoo Mail “draft” disappeared into cyberspace even after I had copied and keyed the opening letter already twice. My disappointment at losing all this work translated into my temporary unwillingness to rush to do this tedious (but satisfying) extemporization yet again, so I wisely accompanied my family on a weeklong vacation to Bethany Beach, DE after which I was refreshed enough to complete it. & today I find the task completed.

OHO & out.

August 2010

"Nothing we intentionally take from others comes unencumbered. That is, the tab arrives sooner-later, and it always arrives. Better therefore we pay our tab at the time, ahead of time; or failing those two options, address our debts as soon afterward as possible, while we remain able to do so. If we feel that life is not quite giving us our due...let us acknowledge the life we have is the life we attract to us. We may/may not be its architect, but we assist in its creation." -R. Fripp (05.13.08 diary entry)

"We've always been attached to the element of music linked to spiritual uplift. One of the main functions of music is to carry positive energy. There's a lot of blinkered genre fascism in the music business and elsewhere, and we're against that. We don't want any barriers affecting what we do." -Steve Hillage (09/10 Guitar Player, pg. 64)

"How do we define a major album?

1. the size of the budget

2.the quality, quantity and intensity of aim that gives rise to recording

3. the artist's willingness to embrace suffering to put the music into the world."

-R. Fripp (on-line diary entry dtd 06.24.08)

"F*cking is f*cking but music is personal." (HBO Series, "Treme")

07.10.10-Yeah, baby! From the editor of Expose magazine regarding the Okinawa reissue on CD: "Jay, I received the promo, played it today. Absolutely awesome! Thank you! Next issue Peter T"

07.11.10-Okinawa (www.cdbaby.com/cd/OHO1) and The Ultimate Diet by Food for Worms (digital downloads ONLY for the FFW title @ www.cdbaby.com/cd/FoodforWorms) is now available at these addresses, securely and reasonably priced.

07.15.10-Shindig (UK) magazine's Andy Morten emails news that his piece/review on/of Okinawa & 70s OHO will be in the next issue & please forward jpegs of vintage Jon Considine photos.

07.16.10-OHO at The Bratt Studio where David (after quaffing a "5 Hour Energy Drink") nails both the lead and backing vocals for his "New Day." Almost there.

Newday Preview

07.17.10-The following note in from Germany. Ann Neumayer was the label rep for Little Wing of Refugees 1988-1996 and served as liaison between the label & Refugees artists. She was OHO's personal contact with the Little Wing label, negotiated all the contracts, paperwork and invited us to visit Bavaria twice, once with my friend Mark Drexel in 1995 and again with my niece, son and one of his buddies in 1997. The Neumayer family visited the US, staying with us for about a week in 1996 when OHO reunited for a special "command performance" at the Club Tattoo in August of that year. I believe that her work on our behalf may have ultimately facilitated our recent signing with Rockadrome Records by promoting 70s OHO to the vinyl-collecting world in an exploding array of progressive musical fireworks. Ann is currently wresting with some challenging health issues. Please include her and her family in your prayers.

"Dear Jay,

Congratulations on "Okinawa". We utterly enjoyed listening to it. Brings back the good old days. You have really done a great job also regarding the lavish booklet, the background story as well as the kind mentioning of Ann's role. So persistence finally does pay and you can be proud of yourselves. Thanks again for being so kind to send Ann a copy of OHO.

Take care,

Günther, Tom and Alan"

07.17.10-"Hi Jay, Greetings from rainy Holland ! I got your cd’s. Very cool music!! I’m still getting used to them and selecting a couple of songs for airplay. If you’d like to chat on-the-air about them, that would be wonderful. Thanks and best wishes, Mark C. Deren" www.MarkFromHolland.com. Radio interview is on Mark's calendar for 08.01.10 at 3:30 PM EST.

07.22.10-journalist John Patrick has been assigned the privilege of reviewing OHO's Okinawa CD reissue for Progression magazine. Jay entertained clarifying questions form Mr. Patrick during a phone conversation on this date. Look for his review in the next issue of Progression (Fall/Winter 2010?). Then please purchase the CD from www.Rockadrome.com.

07.23.10-At The Bratt Studio: Dave, Jay and Bill Pratt finish up on David's "New Day" with a raucous and soulful 7-track vocal finale based on the cadence of Subway's "5...5 dollar...5 dollar foot long" ditty. Yeah! "we're 'sportin' our chubbies to town.'" Tambourine added for "the jangle factor."

07.25.10- Jay plays his guitar as 3/4's of Mystic I perform inspirational songs at the Spiritual Empowerment Center at 2129 N. Charles St. in Baltimore city. Being backed up by the strong and angelic voices of a trio of beautiful & soulful gospel singers, this (Science of Mind) service was an experience I will treasure for many years to come. Hope we get invited back for more uplifting musicking in the future.

07.27.10-At age 60 Jay becomes a member of the Catonsville Senior Center and is planning to audition for the Senior American Idol Competition 2010. An opportunity is an opportunity.

07.29.10-In response to an invitation from Muffins drummer, Paul Sears, I spent the afternoon jawing, drinking, smoking, lunching at El Salto in Brooklyn, capping off the afternoon with a 3 song jam session. Debra, his spouse and a DJ at WEBR in Fairfax, VA hosting The Prog-Rock Diner radio show, promised OHO some future airplay. Paul, a gregariously positive, talented fellow, & I are planning another meeting prior to his and spouse, Debra's (with their 3 dogs, of course) relocation to the great state of Arizona in the Fall.

We now address the 13th KZMU/SHO OHO question from the 08/25/09 radio interview. This month we answer the query following the airing of "Slag" by Lunar Merchant:

Slag.mp3

13. "Slag" (6:15)--1994

Artist: Lunar Merchant

Release date: limited run private cassette release,1994

Label info: none listed

Question: Who were the musicians in Lunar Merchant? What is the story behind the band and the song? Is this recording another live-to-digital-2-track recording?

"In the winter of 1991, four of us lived in the sullen chill of a rural liberal arts college town where the police force often embarrassed themselves and where teenagers lived an excessive life of 'smash & grab' crime and Black Label (beer) binging. There wasn't much leisure activity save for the occasional visits by bands like the Indigo Girls or some comparable act for the college students to get their fashion sense from. Anyway, what our life truly lacked was the music that so often raged in our heads, not the idealistic fantasies of our townsfolk. Upon the first meeting of the original band, Motherlode, we knew that much of the venom that polluted our existence was released, and a clear, true path of purpose reared its head. The drummer and I (old acquaintances) knew that the map would eventually presents its problems and that a move was immanent. We needed a place that had dirt, rats, drunks, steam, smoke, booze, and good people...kind of like all the places we played. Baltimore somehow owned this distinction.

Baltimore's graces eventually took their toll and Motherlode sank. The drummer suffered acute attacks of pancreitis and I slowly became an asshole. We woke one morning to find a note from our bass & guitar players that simply read: 'I'm dying--good bye.'

For ten long months we combed the streets, searching for an answer. Just recently, after undergoing a metamorphic stage, the music came back...with two new members that brought with them one thing that Motherlode never had--VOLUME. We hope we can distribute our message to the masses in a relentless pursuit of our own muse." -Tony Drummond (January '94)

Lunar Merchant was singer/songwriter/guitarist/pianist Tony Drummond, drummer "Magoo," Gyro on bass (Outrageous, Food for Worms, OHO and St. Joseph's Ass among others) with me (Jay) on the "geetar." We played one gig (under the OHO moniker, BTW, as the showcase was to promote a local CD sampler (1993), Spitting Seeds Volume 3, that featured OHO's "It Will Not Be Late."

As there existed no performing OHO band at this time, we seized this performance opportunity to debut our new "grunge" band (unaware that this was simultaneously also to be our "farewell" performance) at the 8x10 Club in Federal Hill (south Baltimore). We had recorded one live-to-digital-2-track demo tape consisting of 5 songs engineered and produced by Steve Carr at his Hit & Run Recording studio in (yeah!) Rockville, MD a few days prior. We later added two multi-tracked recordings of Tony's (at that time) more recent originals and released it eponymously with cover art by his soon-to-be-fiance/spouse.

What I remember most about this 01.27.94 CD release party (aside from Gyro's ridiculous outfit consisting of a pallid, hospital-blue lab coat, latex footies and matching hair net/cap--Birnie and Crazy Ed are searching their video archives for a copy of the 1994 "Slag" video that includes footage from this showcase and that we'd love to include in this month's update, but as of 07.31.10 things are not looking so good on this), where we shared the stage with Lisa Cerbone, Occasional Banister, Nom de Plume and Voices in the Attic, was the horrible winter storm that had to be negotiated by all that evening both to and fro the venue. Still, all the bands and even some audients showed up.

One thing that ALWAYS annoys me is when female performers and/or bands with a "chick(s)" get "special" (why would "she" be considered any more special than me?--I actually KNOW the answer to this question, but it is still SO unacceptable to me) treatment. In this specific instance I had to watch the sound man sickeningly fawn over & cater to who I remember as being the evening's featured female performer, extending her set beyond her carefully rationed (you know, in order that every band on the bill would get their chance to play) allotment of time. (Yes, certainly, you may play one more song. It would be as a fragrant kiss blown toward the audience. After all you are the embodiment of the goddess in the time and space continuum & I'd consider shagging you were you available, my dear, would only that you deign allow me.)

This time-consuming and inconsiderate extension (with the outside temperature plummeting) of her set in conjunction with the treacherous/icy weather conditions guaranteed everyone a dangerous journey home and prompted the sound man (who was really responsible for the show running late by not thinking ahead or perhaps by responding to the promptings of his "other" head), to attempt to curtail the show prematurely and prior to OHO's slated show-closing performance (would he have done this had our outfit still been fronted by one of our fetching wench alumni? No 'effin' way!).

Adding insult to injury and at my behest, Patrick Dunkes, a brother to my sister-in-law and to one of my brothers-in-law, had brought a volunteer video crew to tape and document the evening's performances. Still Lunar Merchant were treated as if we were invisible (a quality I now consider to be a "super power").

We had been waiting around for at least 3 1/2 hours (maybe even longer for some band members--namely ME) to perform and, damn it, we were going to play, even if it be a truncated set. Since we only had 5 songs they were exactly what we played--a short yet extremely powerful "let's shove some muscle down their piping" kind of set consisting of our reworked, OHO-infused Motherlode originals. I remember that we only got to play perhaps 3, maybe 4 of the 5 songs we had rehearsed when "the sound man" flipped the switch, turning off the house sound system in an ineffectual attempt to stifle our noise/music making. This ended up backfiring on him. We finished our finale, "Slag" (the very song featured in the aforementioned KZMU radio program), instrumentally while 'Tone' (though drowned out by the fierce din) continued to wail inaudibly into his 'dead' microphone.

Our amps (not to mention the accompanying acoustic pounding of the drums by drummer Magoo) were, however, still channeling the electrified current. I looked at Gyro, & defiantly turned my 100 watt guitar amp volume up to "10" (would that it went to "11" or even beyond) and leaned my Les Paul Custom against my Sundown combo amp with the humbuckers facing the speakers in so close that a howling feedback ensued. Gyro followed suit with his bass rig and the cacophonous clashing high and low feedback frequencies swirled, filling the small club with our noisy, wordless "f*ck you!" response to this inconsiderate and impotent attempt to prematurely force an end to the show, the sound man infuriating the muse present that evening.

We just walked off the stage flashing him our metaphorical and collective middle "finger" for his discriminating condescension towards us that evening. This forced him to have to awkwardly mount the stage (likely all he mounted that evening) in order to manually turn off our amps, while we stood in the audience, snickering. Bite me, Craig! (This is all about receiving equitable and fair treatment or even the minimal considerations that every human being is entitled to.)

Lunar Merchant was possibly the most short-lived band I have ever been a member of, lasting only through the first couple of months of 1994. My brother's widow had remarried and her 2nd (& also temporary) husband had fathered a daughter from a previous marriage whose boyfriend (soon to be her fiance/spouse) was Tony Drummond.

I count Tony among the best singers I have ever worked with and he presented me with a demo by his former New England band, Motherlode. His voice had very much a "west coast" sound (e.g. Stone Temple Pilots, Doors), was extremely powerful with good pitch and a rich tone. He was also a dynamic front person who looked good in plaid (musically fashionable and appropriate stage attire for that time). And unlike certain female singers I have performed with who, to my way of thinking, were overly protective of their voices, shying away from the "full blast," Tony would often engage in a preparatory ritual of screaming into a pillow prior to singing (both in the studio and in the live performance setting) until he bled, bursting the capillaries in his throat.

Tone convinced Magoo to join, the former Motherlode drummer who was still in town, and I then beseeched Gyro to please supply the bottom/bass guitar, thus arriving at our quartet christened by Tony as Lunar Merchant.

Of course Magoo did not have a drum set. How many times have I been involved with musicians(?) who do not own an instrument (e.g. one may be dressed in a very fashionable suit, but have NO bass guitar)? It boggles the imagination; it's also oxymoronic (sic).

Luckily I had a steady government job as a civil servant, connected musical acquaintances who would "hook me up" and a driving passion for making this music despite these depressing and unfortunate circumstances. My take on this is that the pool of available talent was limited by: 1) the nature of the musical project; 2) those players/singers predisposed to being involved in that project; 3) their employment situation & the amount of their disposable income; and 4) a slowly eroding credibility caused by my continued association with fly-by-night players who have only partially materialized on the transporter pad (or...with one leg in the boat, the other still on the shore). Some of these characters would lead certain of us to question their degree of mental competence and/or their loyalty to both the aim and to their respective bands.

I then hit up engineer/compadre Bill Pratt who graciously lent us his green sparkle Ludwig kit that David Reeve had pummeled throughout The Ultimate Diet (FFW) sessions in the early 80s. The kit was shy some hardware, mainly a hi-hat, a bass drum pedal and there were no cymbals.

I recall then phoning Raymond Indiana (one of two pseudonyms conferred upon him), the drummer who played drums on OHO's OKINAWA album as a teenager. I reminded him that aside from his not paying us back the $20.00 we had lent him a score of years earlier (in 1994's money that'd be close to $100 even without any interest tacked on), he had also "borrowed" a hi-hat AND a snare drum/snare drum stand that were also never returned.

Mr. Indiana was also unable to hold his tongue (especially baffling as you could rarely get a word out of him during rehearsals and the actual recording sessions for Okinawa upon his final departure from OHO in early 1974--true that he did {most of the time} sport noise-cancellation headphones that precluded most communication anyway), making certain that he verbally delivered (appearing as if he was letting us on to something really important for us to know, BTW) some seemingly pent up negativity prior to taking his leave, an oft-repeated scenario in our musical history.

I remember Lars (another one of this drummer's pseudonyms) in the O'Sullivan basement declaring that the lead guitarist was the only member of OHO who had any talent (sound familiar?). I thought it again suspiciously convenient that this "lack of talent" issue was NOT outwardly expressed by him until he concluded his work for the Okinawa sessions, taking full advantage of this rare opportunity. Did this postponed behavior represent his work ethic or was it merely another instance of the self-aggrandizement so prevalent in certain youths, seizing any opportunity to retaliate to a perceived yet perhaps imaginary grievance, a marginalization and/or disenfranchisement viciously inflicted upon them by the world at large? In any event, we were relieved that he completed what he began.

In 1994, a score of years later, Raymond/Lars was very helpful and understood the basis for this overdue confrontation (i.e. we needed his help), although he remembered very little about the aforementioned charges (another conveniently discriminating selective memory system in operation, I surmise). He did, however, generously provide us with a high hat, bunches of drumsticks, and a couple spare drum skins. Magoo fortunately owned a bass drum pedal and I purchased a budget (but very fine sounding) set of Sabian cymbals consisting of one ride, one crash and a pair of high-hat cymbals (I think Steve Carr still uses the crisp-sounding ride and 2 hi-hat cymbals in his studio drum kit). We were finally "in business."

I rationed these gifted drum sticks over a number of rehearsals as Magoo shattered them all one pair at a time with his extremely aggressive playing style (each snare hit accompanied by a simultaneous rim shot). I vowed silently to myself that when this stash of FREE sticks ran out, he would be on his own. I remember the day (one that I accurately predicted to Gyro--still I had to to witness its inevitability) when Magoo destroyed the last pair. Practice ended very abruptly that afternoon, as I recall. What would John Bonham have done? That's correct, he might have resorted to playing drums with his hands.

(An aside: speaking of "Magoo's," I got to meet Peppy (Castro) Magoo of The Blues Magoos after an outdoor performance on 07.14.10 at the Lurman theater in Catonsville by Jay & The Americans. Peppy was this vocal group's backing guitarist on their tour. I had last witnessed a performance by The Blues Magoos in August 1967 when the band opened a 3 band show at the Baltimore Civic Center that headlined Herman's Hermits and...The Who (Happy Jack was their then current LP) who were sandwiched in the middle. I paid $1.75 for my ticket and YES, The Who destroyed their equipment during "My Generation." The Blues Magoos wore electric jumpsuits that lit up, the moving light appearing to circulate through patterns of sewn-in led's (light emitting diodes). Reminiscing about this with Mr. Castro, a very friendly and fit looking man of my generation, he relayed to me that he was indeed reforming The Blues Magoos which will include 2 other original members besides himself.)

Misunderstandings about musical and situational life priorities compromised further (my theory, which is mine, which belongs to me) by Tony's penchant for slower, darker tunes (could you suck any more of the positive energy out of the room?) facilitated this group's premature demise. Also he was apparently incapable of convincingly feigning any interest in the material of the other band members (e.g. mine). Subsequent ensuing extended-family disturbances/developments forced me to ally myself with my family after this, and aside from sending Tony a requested-by-him cassette of the Merchant recordings a couple years later we remain incommunicado.

I was pleasantly surprised a decade later, however, when upon perusing the 09.2004 "Baltimore's Best" edition of The City Paper, to find that Tony was chosen as 2004's BEST SINGER/SONGWRITER YOU HAVEN'T HEARD. I scrap booked this and here's the text:

"Tony Drummond writes songs about tentative redemption, palpable grief and gray-sky wake-up calls from his Hampden basement. And unless you're one of the lucky few to have stumbled across his Web site or were at his first local show at the Supreme Imperial back in July you haven't heard him.

"He spent his relatively wild, younger days in bands composed of childhood friends from his Williamstown, Mass., hometown, and somehow wound up with Springsteen's proverbial 'wife & kids in Baltimore, Jack.' Only he never left. Splitting his time between a day job and devoting evenings to his two daughters, Drummond took a full decade to get back into making music. Over the past year and a half he has poured out expressive but subtle songs ranging from his relationship with his parents to current world politics, all of which feature his slightly Marlboro-touched voice."

"Little minds are too much hurt by little things; great minds are quite conscious of them, & despise them." -Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld

Typically and curiously absent is any mention in this article (nor, even more tellingly, on his own site) of Tony's association with Gyro, myself or the band, Lunar Merchant.

"As daylight can be seen through very small holes, so little things will illustrate a person's character." -Samual Smiles

Analogous to this observation is the case of the Okinawa drummer on whose site mention of his contribution to the recently re-released OHO masterpiece is also inexplicably absent (Raymond, on the other hand, has done well enough for himself even w/o the OHO feather that he chooses not to stick into his overstuffed cap--still, my hunch is that Okinawa may prove to be the album that ultimately defines his life's work).

The same can be said about a certain ex-OHO vocalist, the "biography" page from this individual's first web site remaining "under construction" (i.e. blank with no text whatsoever) for its entire life before being replaced by a more recent, revamped web site where as of today a "biography" page remains conspicuously absent (and interestingly enough, random visits there reveal no further updates/activity since 04.2007).

Really, what would this person key about? If not for her gloriously painful years fronting OHO (and a large percentage of this pain was self-inflicted) her part of the biography (prior to her involvement in her then current musical enterprise) might likely consist of a couple of very matter-of-fact sentences about singing on a recording for an aborted John Palumbo solo album, or singing kitschy disco covers at weddings, or sappy ballads in Baltimore area night clubs during the early-to-mid 80s (the more interesting "behind the scenes" anecdotes concerning collaborations with "other people" being intentionally withheld, veiled by an opaque curtain of modesty).

Whereas her partner, after perhaps being unable to locate a niche (or if he located one, he soon abandoned it) in the NYC "jazz" scene, returned to the Baltimore vicinity to land a "real" job; and here he witnessed his girlfriend being reluctantly/metaphorically dragged to the very threshold of success where, making the painful choice to deny herself her well-earned prize (likely out of love for him and in loyalty to her dharma), she yielded to the stark stipulations of the mutual agreements between them.

"Trifles discover a character more than actions of importance. In regard to the former a person is off his guard, and thinks it not material to use disguise." -William Shenstone.

Why would exhaustive credits (e.g. on the J-card for a 4 song self-released cassette circa 1984 by another ex-band member) suggest a disciminatory and possibly intentional exclusionary oversight, that is, a failing to credit former band mates (the very band mates recently abandoned in favor of this unannounced solo project--planned, we suspect, in the shade while still a member of this person's former band, leaving them fishing for bags) for generously lending him (in an attempt to send this person off with our best intentions and to aid him in this endeavor) an at that time very expensive Oberheim DX drum machine to facilitate the rhythm tracks for these recordings, when 3 or so years earlier on a previous release this very person did remember to meticulously credit a number of contributors for lyrical assistance, borrowed musical instruments and even a former philosophy professor for "inspiration"? Leck mich am Arsch!

There are some very scary and question-raising ironies lurking about in the subtext of these examples of an exclusionary attitude held by these individuals toward the remaining OHO members after severing their connections to their prior host bands. That is, (again, this is only an opinion--yet one, to my mind, that has the ring of some truth about it) they present as houses made of cards assembled on a precarious foundation of denial with a subtext of resentment, and having a deep set and apparently intentional self-delusional aura about them. They were willing to reap the harvest of our relentless work without any reciprocation.

Why would these individuals' historical involvement in OHO be relegated by them to oblivion (intentionally or no matters not a whit as the result is identical) rather than manifesting as a righteous, emboldened, chest-swelling, experiential footnote to their subsequent projects as well as to their biographies & musical resumes? Why not reciprocate all the goodwill and opportunities afforded them in an effort to bolster an expanding network of art/artists? Such questions need only be asked.

Exposing a convenient discriminatory faculty that suggests application of a double standard (one set of tenets for themselves and their friends; another, different set for everybody else), whenever there was an opportunity seized by and capitalized on by us that included their work, of course some of these persons would be right there to claim what credit they believed was rightfully theirs, fumbling about to see if there was any way for them to further exploit it to their own interest. (If only there were a way where they could receive ALL the credit, while the other members receive none...wouldn't that be the best scenario?)

"The person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones." St. Luke (16:10)

Oh well, watch what happens after the dust settles and who is remembered for which achievements. (I hate what these people have turned me into and I resent them for making me have to go through this; but "to love the universal man, you have to sometimes hate the real person sitting beside you.")

Therefore, as St. Paul purportedly epistle-ized (sic), "If you want peace, work for justice." This is ongoing, assiduously demanding work that attempts to redeem what can be redeemed in this seemingly endless miasmic list of past occurrences that continue to do damage & documents flagrant violations against Music; and a few of the many passive aggressive, psychologically violent assaults directed toward us after 2 months (in the case of the Okinawa drummer), 5 years & 9 months (in the case of the ex-OHO vocalist) and in the 3rd example, after 15 years of shared musical adventures & acquaintance and/or friendship (?). In the most egregious latter example there was evidence of a pattern of interloping & repeated irritating queries (that sounded like questions but were really traps couched in language intended to force an agreement or self-refutation) often necessarily requiring one to assume a defensive posture.

These intermittent examples manifested over a quarter of a century & continued up to as recently as early 2008 (when they were finally curtailed by our decision to no longer participate to ANY degree in what we consider to be a toxic, "instinct injured" relationship (where the normal is abnormalized and the abnormal is normalized).

From Mark Bounds' Tracks review of our Live Demo in The Music Monthly, August 1994: "Lunar Merchant: With a little help from his friends, (most notably Jay Graboski of OHO origins) this demo covers a number of different bases, but one thing is incredibly obvious: aside from the Cult-like 'Sabbath', the rest of the cuts are strikingly similar to a band, and especially a voice, that immediately comes to mind upon first listen!! Put it this way: for those of you rock conspiracy theorists out there who believe that Jim Morrison is still alive, you might want to assume that he changed his name to Drummond, and that his new band is Lunar Merchant...The Doors of the '90s." (I remember sending our tape to BOMP's Greg Shaw who suggested Tony work a bit on his "R's" to really drive this uncanny similarity home with even more aplomb.)

And that, dear friends, is the very short story of Lunar Merchant. Next month? Could it be The Weaszels? Yes, I'm certain that it is...oh boy!

The STA-tuned "string release" does a remarkable job of keeping guitars in tune as was evidenced during a recent session (at The Bratt Studio) to record the basic acoustic guitar tracks for "Slough of Despond" (about the difficulty many people have in making a commitment in time & how truth is often used in service of a lie); & at a recent performance for a worship service at The Center for Spiritual Living in Timonium, MD.

In fact, every time I checked my guitar's intonation against my tuner, with very few exceptions the tuner indicated the tuning of my instrument as remaining true. This is not to say that one doesn't have to tune up prior to one's session and/or gig, OR that you will not have to occasionally make minor adjustments depending on one's touch, playing style and other variable conditions. What it does say is that adjustments are usually minor and one's instrument holds its intonation better and more reliably.

All in all, "now I'm a believer" and will definitely purchase the "String lock" system for my Gretsch Chet Atkins model that Reynold (the inventor) states with some conviction will stay in tune no matter how ruthlessly one "dive bombs" one's Bigsby whammy bar.

Also ordered a Bigsby for my John Thurston built Telecaster as Reynold (at STa-tuned) declares his system works as well on Telecaster style guitars. Maybe one day I'll be able to stay in tune for extended periods of time and have that long-standing transgression crossed off the long list of the welcome criticisms others have compiled on my behalf, intended to facilitate further my personal and spiritual growth. More at www.keepguitarintune.com.

Current Summer reading: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas.

OHO & out.

Last Remaining(Irregular) Bicentennial OHO Bumper Sticker from a Limited Run 1976 by Jon Considine

HAPPY 4th OF JULY !

"We say a thing is holy if it makes you laugh."

(Rob Brezny)

"HEAVYSET SINGERS NEEDED--We need 2 males & 2 females for a theatrical Abba cover band called FLABBA. Dancing & singing ability is helpful, enthusiasm is essential. Open auditions Saturday from 1-3pm at the Ottobar." (Baltimore City Paper classified)

"Sometimes it's not how good you are but how bad you want it."

(Rob Brezny)

"You can't go far on enthusiasm but you can't go far without it."

(Guitar Craft aphorism)

"I've always said this about Baltimore/Maryland: the music scene here is like crabs. Once someone is this much acceptable, someone tries to pull them back down into the bucket. That's what crabs do."

-Sonia (Disappear Fear)

"There comes a time when you must take the bull by the tail & face the situation."

-W.C. Fields

"Nothing worse could happen to one than to be completely understood."

-Carl Jung

"Too often, short shrift is given to the garage stylings of the late Drake Levin (Paul Revere & The Raiders), along with the Kingsmen's Mike Mitchell, Sam the Sham's Ray Stinnet, the Sonics' Larry Parypa, Detroit Wheel Jim McCarty, GENE CORNISH (a personal fave), and countless others. From slick to simple, sometimes crude, they contributed to the guitar's gnarly charm and should never be forgotten. And, Drake, long may you ride." -Dan Forte (Vintage Guitar, November 2009)

I always thought it interesting that while Gene Cornish (of the Rascals) was definitely one guitarist who during the mid-60's confirmed the nascent idea in me that this was something I might be able to do and someone whose playing style I wished to emulate, he later retired from the Rascals when "guitar gods" began to take over with their ad infinitum (& often ad nauseam) sophisticated (?) soloings in 1969.

I remember in 1965 accompanying my Dad to one of the Polish taverns on Wolfe St. in east Baltimore where his youngest sister, our Aunt Gladys, tended bar. I loved this atmosphere with its hoppy effluvium from spilled Natty Boh drafts mingled with wafting smoke from unfiltered Camels (that Turkish blend), Lucky Strikes (they're "toasted"), Pall Malls (sponsors of the "Wells Fargo" TV show) and Kools (there'd often be a pack sitting atop many a Hammond B-3 in the Chicago RnB clubs we visited on weekends while attending St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, IN, 90 miles to the southeast from 1968-69); and especially the pistachio dispensing machine into the slot of which were inserted a steady stream of nickels facilitating many turns of its handle, releasing its measured bounty in salted nutty delights that dyed the fingers red: another ritual activity attempting "to reconcile consciousness to the preconditions of its own existence; that is to say, to the nature of life" (Joseph Campbell).

This establishment had a juke box and there is where I first heard "Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore" by the Young Rascals, that band's premier 45 rpm record on the Atlantic label. Gene's solo spanned perhaps the most beautifully nasty bars of rockin' riffage I had up to that time ever heard (we were to hear this type of soloing again and again in the music of bands like Paul Revere & The Raiders and The Kingsmen). This was garage/soul that galvanized my attention, pinning me to the wall in a state of aesthetic arrest.

I hoped to one day arrive at my own facsimile imitations of those riffs (riffs BTW that were recycled in a number of subsequent Rascal HITS {e.g. "Come On Up"}; but I'd never fault Mr. Cornish for this, understanding that he was merely "sticking with a winner" and there were always significant variations on the theme) and use them as a proven inexhaustible foundation for my future guitar stylings, a simplistic style that served our garage music well, especially as guitarist for The Weaszels and Dark Side (the Dark Side bassist being the ONLY person who I recall verbalized Gene's influence on me--of course it didn't hurt that I somewhat looked like him too).

Count me among the thousands of baby boomers who picked up the guitar, disappearing into their parents' basements after rock music exploded following the mid 60's invasion from Britain (The "Hootenanny" phase of the early 60's was already making me leak and served as a necessary and fitting prequel to the real thing--kind of like John The Baptist preparing the way of the Lord).

Garages all over the world answered in kind with most of us trying to copy the latest Dave Davies, Keith Richards, Hilton Valentine (Animals) or Pete Townsend riffage or even more often (though unwittingly as he is rumored to have anonymously guest-guitared on so many of the records being exported to the states from England during this time), Jimmy Page. (Be sure to check out the It Might Get Loud flick--comforting to know that even surrounded by their guitar techs, Jack White and Jimmy Page still managed to play out of tune several times during the movie; "The Edge," however, somehow sounded as if his guitars were the best-tuned of the trio for most of his on-screen time. Or were any intonation problems obfuscated by his barrage of multitudinous and variously engaged effects?)

06.08.10-Okinawa by OHO released officially on Vintage CD (ROCK 028-V-2) 36 years after it was recorded/first released on vinyl (1974). Looks like another week or two of delay with shipping from the manufacturer to Rockadrome Records scheduled for 06.15.10 and an official availability date of 06.17.10. Like Mom often said, "Good things come to those who wait." Patience, please. This should be well worth the extra suffering endured.

06.14.10-The OHO duo performs a short set of 4 originals at a private party in Woodbine, MD. celebrating a slew of June birthdays. Host Chuck Guerra karaokes OHO's "Live & Long to Be Latin."

06.15.10-Jay goes "electric" with his custom John Thurston assembled Telecaster-style original guitar with its active and astoundingly quiet EMG pick-ups, Jangle Box and Brian May Vox amp (through a Marshall 1/2 stack) as a member of Mystic I playing 10 songs of uplifting rock & roll (including OHO's "Out of Thin Air") with band mates Lisa Griffey, Kirsten Smith and drummer Ted Staley for the Strawberries for Peace Festival held at the One Wisdom Fellowship Church at the corner of 39th and Greenmount--blastin! Check out assorted Mystic I videos from this event on YouTube.

Uh oh..06.19.10:

"Jay, CDs arrived about 5 min ago. The pink looks awesome…everything is kool….EXCEPT…the inner booklet is screwed up somehow. I’m trying to figure it out right now…either a page is missing or out of order or something…not sure if it’s their fault or mine or what….sucks though. One false move at the final prep stage and kablooey! Oh well….it was bound to happen to me sooner or later I suppose. I think it looks really great though, the shade of pink is exactly what I had in mind. I’ll send your copies today. Listened to it in my car last night, it really sounds fantastic. All the work you put in on the audio side of things paid off.

-Dennis" More at www.rockadrome.com

06.20.10-Father's Day. Our son Matt was born on Father's Day in 1982. Today he celebrates his first Father's Day as the official Dad of his (and spouse, Angela's) daughter, Delilah Grace (we call her Snoojah), who BTW appears to be thriving at 4 months. Matt gifted me the new TC Electronics PolyTuner through which a player may strum an entire chord, the display then identifying those strings that are out of tune simultaneously. Certainly here is device that will be useful. Also treated myself to the purchase and installation of a new black Stetsbar Whammy on my sustainor-pickup/Roland Midi-pickup equipped Fernandes Elite. Now this guitar again fits in its case and provides a formidable weapon for defending or irritating the muse.

06.23.10-OHO's Rocktronics is now digitally available (as MP3's--was wondering when Clean Cuts would take advantage of this opportunity) at www.CDBaby.com.

06.25.10-David & Jay at The Bratt Studio with Bill Pratt; 3 hours working on David's "New Day" and finally finishing up on OHO's "Arclight" from their Ahora! suite. Also dropped of a copy of the latest Progression magazine for Crack the Sky (& sometime OHO keyboardist) Glenn Workmann whose photo graces page 26.

06.21.10-My advance copy of OKINAWA arrives. It is a beautiful thing to behold; & it sounds really good too. Shame about the pagination problems with the booklet; but even with these flaws it maintains its cool partially by featuring some never-before-publicly-seen photos and graphics (like the guitarist's sketch of OHO Man and OHO Woman side by side).

06.27.10-Attached the STa-TUNED "String Release" on my Rick Turner "Renaissance" guitar (a guitar that already stays in tune fairly well) between the nut and the 1st pair of tuners, reducing friction at the nut (via lubricant) and the outward bend of each string. The inventor swears this will curtail tuning problems with any guitar that features tuners on each side of the headstock & where the strings flare out to these tuners on both the left and right. At around $33 I had to try it. I will report back as to the amount of success I experience in this attempt to stay better in tune employing the inventor's ingenious non-invasive hand-made "string release.". Check this out at www.keepguitarintune.com.

06.29.10-Son Matt emails me his first draft of lyrics for the rocker he volunteered to develop from the Ahora! suite...I love em.

More on Okinawa:

"This brilliant offering from mid-Atlantic mainstays OHO is a record whose shock ripples have yet to disperse. Here is experimental cabaret Voltaire at its most befuddling. Probably the finest example of non sequiter not-high-art since The Fugs Electromagnetic Steamboat or The Mothers' Absolutely Free, this is one of those records that will keep you guessing for the entire 74 minutes the laser is on the disc. But there's something here for everyone, from the straight rock of 'Duva' and 'Parts and Ponds,' surreal acoustic nocturnes ('Manic Detective' & 'Last Dance'), the free jazz wig jam, 'Board Organ,' to the muscular prog workouts: 'Hogshead,' 'Cragwheel,' and 'The Plague.' An absolute masterpiece of classic American indie rock." (Proglydite's Child)

Wow, 36 years after the fact this beast is finally released on CD and in a classy fashion that befits its stature as a "classic." Maybe we really were ahead of our time, meaning as of today perhaps we are ON TIME? Too bad about those who bailed prior to reaching the threshold of "the promised land" (like Moses, their arrival perhaps denied due to impatience and/or the inability to make a commitment in time). Like Tom Petty sings on track #4 of The Heartbreakers' new CD, Mojo, "He said, 'Five'll get you ten but you've got to STAY IN THE GAME. Yeah, you got to let it ride or you've only got yourself to blame.'" Still awaiting delivery of the stipulated 20 copies for OHO alumni (that's 5 apiece) as well as those designated for media promotion through the network we have built over the last 30 years.

"Hey Everyone,
To Jay Graboski of OHO... Congratulations on the release of OHO's 1974 opus Okinawa, a legendary piece of 70's art rock coming out for the first time on CD on Rockadrome Records.
I know this has been a long time in coming. A past SOUNDTHING featured this 30 song recording in its entirety and we are proud here at KZMU to have been just a bit ahead of the curve in this instance. Of course, OHO past and present will continue to make an appearance from time to time on a SOUNDTHING playlist." -stevehear (KZMU Community Radio/Moab, Ut)

Still addressing the KZMU/SHO OHO questions from the 08/25/09 radio interview one by one, we answer the 12th query following the airing of the unreleased "Small World/Over, Under, Sideways, Down" from 1992 by The Vulgarians
:

12. "Small World/Over, Under, Sideways, Down" (medley) (5:40)--1992

Artist: Vulgarians

Release date: unreleased

Label info" n/a

Question: What an unusual juxtaposition of Disney movie music vis-a-vis The Yardbirds. How did this come about and please relate the obviously short story of the Vulgarians?

Imagine the degree of disintegration in one's band (not to mention the heaviness of heart experienced) when your musical partner of 15 years (as of 1992) has no other choice but to resign. Things in the OHO camp became untenable for David circa 1991. Following his reluctant departure I found myself in a fairly awkward position; on the one hand, disappointed that we were losing a musical partner/asset/personality/talent who could never be adequately replaced; on the other, having to honor the unspoken directive to keep this limping/wounded beast alive long enough for its inevitable transformation (another example of what it means to make a commitment in time, crossing the "great divide"--too far from the beginning to go back and too far from the end to move forward--yet where we ground ourselves by recalling our initial aim).

"Quitting" (a favorite and reliable tactic of many of our former band mates when things got "rocky"--and they always did/do) or the even more cowardly "never showing up again w/o any communication" method of dissociation (a specialty mainly of, but not limited to members of the female gender) were out of the question for me (I've since, after a series of failed attempts, realized that it is impossible to quit one's own band--kind of like "wherever you go--there OHO is"?). In this realm of uncertainty every word then has to be carefully weighed (not that it helps, nevertheless, an attempt to be clear MUST be made)prior to its being uttered and all the fluctuating circumstances/particulars of each morphing situation has to be gingerly and assiduously juggled from moment to moment.

Fortunately our neighbor and journeyman drummer Harry Maben sensed the need, raised his hand and joined as OHO's drummer. Hailing from a hard rock and dinner theater background as well as having played a Dark Side reunion or two during the 80's, Harry is an outwardly gentle man (except when he is pounding his "kit" & belying the fact that I would not want to mess with him in any way--one of his hobbies is firearms) as well as a journeyman percussionist..

Mr. Maben provided a solid rhythmic foundation during this interim period (OHO was at that time fronted by Mary O'Connor and Sue Ellen Sacco successively with random "in-the-pinch" appearances by Angela Lazarony) . This short-lived era petered out by the beginning of 1993 with the release of the OHO/Sacco live-to-digital-2-track cassette & was due to what can only be called "insufficient enthusiasm" by more than one member of the team.

While entropy was having her way with OHO, David Reeve insisted that we continue to write and record some of the songs that at that time didn't fit into what OHO proper was doing. We (The Vulgarians) met on a weekly basis, occasionally actually picking up and/or sitting behind & playing our instruments amidst the smoke breaks & drinking bouts, punctuated by the random (anyone for tennis?) match. We subsequently met with our third (like in the way George Martin was the 5th Beatle or analogous to Peter Sinfield's role in early 70's Crimson) member, Bill Pratt, at his The Bratt Studio in Woodlawn, MD where over a period of months we arranged and recorded what resulted in a batch of 4 songs that includes this medley.

The yield of this "letting-it-reveal-itself" period were "Antique Heart" (from OHO's Bricolage CD), "Hidden Agenda" (on CD #2 of Best of Baltimore's Buried Bands II), the still unreleased "Base Line" and this melding of 2 cover songs, the Disney "Small World" theme interleaved with The Yardbirds' "Over, Under, Sideways, Down."

The "tweeness" of "Small World" instantly evaporated by arranging it in a minor key. Some of the lyrical juxtapositional opportunities presented in this match-up (e,g. "it's a small world after all" from "Small World" vis-a-vis "when will it end?" from the Yardbird ditty) were just too tempting to resist. So, what one hears (if one is listening) is a verse/chorus of the former, then a verse/chorus of the latter culminating in a final chorus where both choruses overlap, being sung simultaneously, "Rub out" 10cc of the requisite though mimetic, signature (Jeff) Beckian guitar riffs dressed in a clever delay patch from my GP-8 processor (played on a trusted and now sorely missed 1975 burgundy Les Paul Custom that at one time belonged to OHO's original lead guitarist) and you get this "holding the tension of the opposites" musical concoction. & so, I believe, it is.

Revisiting these recordings, we have decided to primarily feature male vocalization on our current project (the Ahora! suite and musical satellites that will orbit around it). David, Bill Pratt and myself handled all the Vulgarian vocal challenges and by utilizing Bill's tenor vocal range maximally there should be few problems in exploring those higher registers. We know with some certainty that Matt Graboski will be singing at least one of the Ahora! suite numbers, probably more. Not to say we would not request the help of the fairer sex should the necessity arise, but the time has come for "the men" to come out from under the metaphorical "skirt" and "have at it" in a more robustly masculine manner.

To my knowledge, this KZMU airing of the medley is the one and only time it has received any airplay since it's completion 17 years earlier.

What nice and motivationally heartening words to say about UP (viewer comments combined from our YouTube posted videos of "Out of Thin Air" & "Scared Money"):

"This album was/is one of the most criminally undiscovered works of art. I have listened to literally thousands of hours of music in my life and this album ranks quite high. Thank you VERY MUCH for sharing it here. After the countless times I've listened to the CD, I now have the joy of seeing this passionately delivered performance. "You created one of the finest secretly unknown singalong masterpiece albums ever. It really was and is musical genius." -decapitatespammers

AND this from Scmutzgrieffer whose comments about OHO's "Manic Detective" (from Okinawa) follow:

"And now, my life is complete. Having heard this, I feel my audiophilia has arrived at an existential destination. He who has not heard this has not realised the threshold of Cartesian Dualism. I take my hat off to the pharmaceutical company that has facilitated my tolerance of this offering. May you never want for a packet of Rizzlas my fellow Dharma bums."

(Also I would like to apologize for any inconvenience caused my personal email contacts regarding last month's "phishing" of my email account. I pray no one actually sent any $$$ to these imposters and trust that this is so, for their appeal for aid was phrased in such a "broken English" kind of way that anyone familiar with my rhetoric would know this could NOT possibly have originated with me (Jay). Besides I still have living family who I would contact 1st in such an unlikely emergency. Anyway, things went back to normal in 24 hours although my contact list is now empty and I had to invent a new password...

relatively painless. Again, I am sorry.)

OHO & out.

June 2010

"The credit goes to the person who convinces the world, not to the person to whom the idea first occurs." -Sir William Osler

"The more you listen the more you're likely to notice that songwriter and guitarist Jay Graboski is the principal reason why OHO has been around so long." (Washington Post)

"What I say is my mystery and not yours, my way and not yours...you should not learn my way but your own." -C.G. Jung

"Our receptivity for praise stands in no relationship to mean disdain and spiteful abuse. No matter how stupid such abuse is, no matter how plainly impelled by private rancors, as an expression of hostility it occupies us far more deeply and lastingly than the opposite. Which is very foolish, since enemies are, of course, the necessary concomitant of any robust life, the very proof of its strength." -Thomas Mann

"The two most important characters in the life of any successful human are a nemesis and an archenemy." -Rob Brezny

"Our enemy is our friend." -Guitar Craft Aphorism

"Dream makers often run into dream killers." -Larry Kane

"Struggling with the effects of theft, where someone else's disorder invades and leaves a mark forever on our own psyche, leaves us struggling with the shared dimension of evil, its communal aspect." -Ann Belford Ulanov

"Is there a tree not shaken by the wind?" -Armenian aphorism

"We are Easter people in a Good Friday world." -Anne Lamott

June 1, 2010: Happy 60th birthday to ME (Jay)! "On a family member's 60th birthday, the Japanese celebrate a holiday known as 'kanreki.' It's a time of rebirth, when the celebrant ritually becomes a baby again and enters a second childhood. Among the many gifts given on the occasion is a red kimono (color psychologists say that red stimulates emotional intensity, can raise the temperature of love and awaken feelings that have been subconscious or dormant) which signifies the person is now freed from the responsibilities of adulthood." -Rob Brezny

I have asked for something red, but not a kimono: Carl Jung's Red Book (Liber Novus), referred to by one of the author's former patients as "the record of the passage of the universe through the soul of man." Now that sounds like an adventure. Perhaps this will serve the same purpose as the kimono.

But an even better present might be coming by way of our son, Matt. He asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I suggested he come up with a melody line and lyrics for one of the more rockin' songs on OHO's Ahora! suite. This is the only song where I am stumped. All he asked for was for general guidelines as regards theme (easy enough). Now it appears that the El Sledge+ drummer wants to take a whack at playing drums on the tune. After running this by Reevus, all systems are "go."

David and I have been working in the OHO bunker, creating guitar parts for his latest, "New Day," an uptempo ditty lyrically reflecting on the more dangerous aspects of being bombarded by too much information & the transformation of civilization in general. I'm just taking direction on this one as Dave has composed & arranged the music. He has also written the lyrics that, yes, he will sing. We're ready to take these wav files to The Bratt Studio for vocals, mixing, bouncing them off engineer Bill Pratt upon his lining them up to see if any new ideas occur upon his lining them up in his DAW.

I recorded him singing the guitar solo notes he wanted and then matched them nearly note-for-note on my "stick." He's receiving advance raves when previewing the work-in-progress from those he meets in his travels. David popped by on the 24th to play me the final version of our solo (his notes, my execution)...amazing what these computer plug-ins can do to an unaffected direct guitar signal.

You may recall we've been keying a lot about Greg Shaw of late and our involvement with him and his Voxx Records & BOMP fanzine/label (in fact, while rooting through some dusty archive material on the AM of 05/26/10, I found my copy of BOMP! issue No. 19, October/November 1978 that features Greg's extensive article on "Acid Punk" and the TOP 10 thereof--OHO is listed at #8--YIPPEE!).

Those who follow this diary also know that we have been in e-contact with Greg's former spouse and lifetime business partner, Suzy Shaw (who still runs the mail order division of BOMP), and that we have donated our 15 letter collection of historic correspondence with Greg via BOMP to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH.

I asked Suzy if she had any of the posters from 1981's "Battle of the Garages" summer tour and she graciously sent me one that I then had professionally framed (lime green matte, framed in pink). On the poster there are 5 pre-pubescent girls looking anglophilic and fearfully at the sky as red and blue guitars apparently spew soundless "rockets-red-glare-the-bombs-bursting-in-air" riffs across a cosmic comic book neighborhood backdrop.

The framer asked me if these were The Beatles. I said, "I don't think so. They're more like what early 1940's English girls might have looked like during a WWII bombing raid by the Germans." While I at first chuckled, I later remembered how period photos of some of the Beatles as children appeared and that his question was really not all that "out there." The poster looks sharp and hangs on a wall in our computer room.

What at first seemed strange to me was that this tour poster listed the dates, cities and bands that played in each respective city, with the line-up for Baltimore's Marble Bar 08/09/81 gig listing The Slikee Boys, Dark Side, The Hypstrz and The Wombats. Yet I do not remember this gig at all and therefore asked Suzy Shaw whether or not this tour really happened. She said that she was certain that it did. Shortly thereafter I noticed that the dates of the tour were from 07/31/81 though 08/15/81 realizing that 3 of us were already months into performing and recording as Food for Worms, deducing therefore that a subsequent edition of Dark Side must've played this specific gig. Still, we were the guys who played on the album cut ("In the Dark") selected for the 1st volume of that series of 12" vinyl releases (re-released on a Voxx CD in 1993 that has since sold out; but the song is still available, securely and at a reasonable cost, on Dark Side's Odd Fellows on an Even Day anthology at www.cdbaby.com).

(Continuing to fulfill our commitment to address the KZMU/SHO OHO questions from the 08/25/09 radio interview sequentially, we proffer an answer to the 11th query following the airing of "Limousine" from OHO's 2008's Bricolage CD/DVD set.)

11. "Limousine" (3:58)--1991/2008

(Jay Graboski & David Reeve)

(From the 2 disc CD/DVD set, Bricolage)

Artist: OHO

Release date: March 22, 2008

Label info: OHO Music (OM-057)

Question: What was your intention in the release of this set (Bricolage CD/DVD) and did you fulfill it?

I recall watching many of Walt Disney's animated films with our two children (& with joy)while raising them during the 80's and early 90's. I think in The Sword in the Stone, Merlin says something to "the wart" (the future King Arthur) about how persons of character "finish what they begin." Not sure if we were/are persons of "character," but we knew that we could act AS IF we were by applying the "assumption of virtue" maxim that fundamentally states." If you don't have a virtue, assume it," convinced that that attitude would successfully carry us to the finish line.

The period from 1989 through 1992 was tumultuous as that edition of OHO experienced an excruciatingly drawn out disintegration triggered by fear and initiated through the timely and effective sabotage/subterfuge of yet another mutinous traitor/"star" from within; whose actions at the nadir of our vulnerability and the apex of her opportunity, sucked our every hope & dream, dragging them along with our credibility into the miasmic vortex of the black hole created by her own self-extinguishing minus-ness, dispatching herself back to the flaccidly controlled, hand-to-mouth existence from whence she came, leaving us twisting in the wind.

Condemned then to circumambulate the 9th ring of Dante's inferno (although "without despair") for a considerable time (at least 12 years), the remnants of the band continued to record both at Dave Kelly's Luna Recording Studio in Glen Burnie and at Steve Carr's Hit & Run Recording in Rockville, MD. Many of the earliest of these "demos" were of songs slated for inclusion on the follow-up to Sky Records' eponymous 1990 OHO CD. So, there were tracks "here" and tracks "over there" as well; but none of these were anywhere near completion.

Unable to find a singer who would actually make the necessary commitment in time, we ended up with recordings that featured a total of 7 "guest" singers. We wanted to put a period to the end of that sentence, the first syllables of which were uttered in 1985 with "Change In the Wind" and "Ethiopia." A gnawing and unrelenting undercurrent of necessity urged us to bring the work already begun to a state of completion before we would be released to move into the future with the blessings and aid of our muse.

A simple enough charge, this took us from 1992 to the beginning of 2008 to fulfill. That's 16 years, and in the case of "Angels," composed by members of Food for Worms in 1983, our reach went into the past even further. "Limousine," recorded in 1991 (and only one of two songs on Bricolage that feature male lead vocals) was part of this pool of material and the song went through a number of transformations, with drums first being played by session drummer Greg Phillips (David had resigned from OHO in 1991 due to a difference of opinion with another OHO member triggered by an apparent misunderstanding concerning the rhythm track to this very tune). These tracks were subsequently replaced by interim drummer Harry Maben, whose powerful percussives can be aurally experienced on this selection (Greg's drumming is on the DVD version of "Limo" found on the Bricolage DVD).

Did we fulfill it (our intention)? I say "Yes." We used almost every worthwhile sonic scrap that we had from the sessions at both studios, added new work from recordings made at David's Blue Ball Rd. Studio in Stewartstown, PA as well as at Bill Pratt's The Bratt Studio in Woodlawn, MD, then compiled these tracks as creatively and intelligently as we could from the Fall of 2003 through the Winter of 2008 using the constantly improving state-of-the-art basement technologies available on the market during this time.

We then stirred a trio of newer songs into this "stone soup" written during the 90's in response to our experiences at the beginning of that decade, tying a red, white & black satin bow onto a baker's dozen" of never-before-released OHO songs with 7 snappy bonus tracks. The result is OHO's critically acclaimed Bricolage CD/DVD set that remains available securely and at a ridiculously low price at www.CDBaby.com.

Alrighty then, the official availability date for the Vintage OKINAWA CD is June 8th. For those of you who prefer downloading your music, the 30 tracks will be available at many digital downloading sites within the next 30-45 days or so, or as soon as CD Baby does its thing in that regard. If anyone has difficulty in purchasing the CD please contact me at garbotzo@yahoomail.com and we will direct you to where this can purchased securely and at a reasonable cost.

From: Dennis Bergeron
Subject: oho vey
To: "'jay graboski'" <garbotzo@yahoo.com>
Date: Thursday, May 13, 2010, 5:48 PM

Jeez...got sidetracked again here, but determined to finish this off and have it good to go by Monday. I already have orders coming in and need to get this puppy out asap. Anyway, seems I have the manufacturing ironed out now, just need to finalize the layouts and make sure I get all the details right. I still think it will be a great package. Need to decide on stickers quotes for the front asap too because those take a little time to get made as well.

Hey…we are into production finally! Pushing these guys for 10 work day turnaround tops. Went with the UV high gloss on the digipak, but only standard paper on the booklet. The recycled paper and matte finish options were both unreasonable in price and more time consuming. I know there are other places that can do this recycled dirtier look without going ballistic on price, but there’s no way I wanted to spend more time shopping around. The CD is already up on some store sites stating May 25th release, so we are behind schedule as it is. I hope everything comes out right.

Thanks,

Dennis

And concerning our search for the "now-you-see-it-now-you-don't" Dream of the Ridiculous Band "boot," this reply from Planet Mellotron's Andy:

Hi Jay

Many apologies for not replying earlier...

"Surprised to see that OHO's Dream of the Ridiculous Band has been released by Gott Records. Do you have a copy of this CD/LP? Can you tell me where I might order one?

I have been unable to find this anywhere on the Internet. Not that it's all that big of a deal but if this HAS BEEN RELEASED, it is a BOOTLEG and unauthorized by neither the band nor myself, the owner of the master tapes. So, I would like to contact whoever felt they had been issued a license for this BOLD endeavor.

On the other hand, this is kind of cool and as there is never any $$$ in this, what's the difference? Still, I kind of like the cover and would like to have a copy for my archives.

-Jay Graboski

(OHO)"

I'm afraid to say, I've no idea where I found the info! As you say, it's quit clearly a boot, so I'll stick it back on my 'unreleased' page. I've scoured stored e-mails to see if anyone sent me the info, but can't find anything - since there's nothing on the 'Net, I must've found out SOMEWHERE, but f*** knows where! Consider it removed (or at least moved) and sorry I can't direct you towards the culprit!

Cheers,

Andy

(Finally uncovered a mailing address: Gott Discs/PO Box 305/Cambridge CB1/7ZW/United Kingdom & a web address, www.Gottdiscs.com. The latter address takes one to an undecipherable Asian (?) site. It appears that the site has been dismantled and our attempts to order a copy of the bootleg have failed. If anyone finds one or knows where it can be purchased, we'd appreciate being made aware of this.)

This was recently discovered at www.answers.com:

"In the beginning (of the Baltimore maverick prog rock band OHO), there was Little Hans, a group comprised of drummer Jeff Graboski, singer/guitarist J.P. Graboski, and keyboardists Mark O'Connor and Trent Zeigen. Active in the early '70s, Little Hans (the name taken from one of Freud's famous patients) never released an official recording, but the unit recorded over an hour of professional demos in 1971-1972. Fans of OHO will find in the father all the basic elements of the son's character. But Wunderkind, the CD collecting those demos, also makes a fine listen by and of itself. Little Hans' music takes its source in the symphonic rock of the late '60s, especially Procol Harum and the Moody Blues, adding to it a personal interpretation of British progressive rock, a conception that lands very close to other underground American bands like Happy the Man and Grits. Musically complex and lyrically intellectual, the music can be moving despite a certain pomposity and clutter in the arrangements. Wunderkind starts with three songs recorded in separate sessions with ex-Mothers of Invention engineer Dick Kunc. "Bedlam" is the most satisfactory one, a challenging but rewarding piece that blows some gospel into Genesis and Emerson, Lake & Palmer's songwriting. The main opus is the 42-minute suite "Peter Pan." A retelling of the fairy tale, it is made of 19 sections, some of them virtuosic in nature. The dead-serious attitude of the group doesn't fit very well with the fantasy of the tale, but the piece has its good moments, namely in "Animosity," "Flight," and "Conflict and Resolution." "Recession" was recorded later with a different lineup that included bassist Joe O'Sullivan (future OHO alumnus) and singer Aleta Greene. The disc concludes with three live tracks, very badly recorded. Wunderkind came out in 1999 and was given away with copies of the magazine Progression. Extra copies have circulated, but the album is now very hard to find and a collector's item." ~ François Couture, All Music Guide

Read more about Little Hans (our 1971-72 Gothic/progressive/symphonic band) at: http://ohomusic.com/little.htm. Listen to their music, available and downloadable freely at http://ohomusic.com/ohovault/little_hans_index.html .

OHO and out.

May 2010.

"I know how to find good music that isn't getting any exposure, and I can give it a little bit of exposure. and that gives me more pleasure and satisfaction than anything else I can think of doing. I've always felt that way since I was 15 or 16; it never really deviated."

-Greg Shaw (BOMP! SAVING THE WORLD ONE RECORD AT A TIME, pg.15, by Suzy Shaw and Mick Farren, AMMO Books, 2007)

"Dear Suzy (Shaw),

I saved all Greg's (OHO & Dark Side related) correspondence and it totals about 15 letters. If you want these for the BOMP/Voxx archives (some are up to 2 pages long) I'd be happy to donate them to BOMP! as I fear upon my inevitable demise these might get thrown out with all the other (divinely) superfluous superfluity accumulated over the years.

-Jay"

I copied the originals and then snail-mailed them to Bomp's Suzy Shaw with complimentary copies of OHO's Bricolage CD and our Dark Side Anthology where Greg (1949-2004) is listed among those deceased individuals to whom this collection is dedicated: Jeff Graboski (1953-1987; brother/drummer: OHO, Dark Side, Trixy & The Testones), Joni Flitt-Cooke (1953-2003; Quinn flautist, Terra Christos Master, Reiki Master/Teacher and our 2nd cousin), Ric Levine (2004; songwriter/guitarist/bassist for The Weaszels) & Marble Bar proprietor, Roger Anderson (1984), on panel #3 of the CD insert.

"Dear Jay,

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is assembling all of our correspondence. There will be a BOMP section in their new library. I would love to have them. I got the package you sent with the letters from Greg, that's really nice of you. They will go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame soon, they are taking all of the archives and your letters will be a great addition. Thanks also for the Cd's/DVD. Well done, very professional. Keep on keeping on, and I really appreciate the letters.
Best,
Suzy"

OHO may be viewed as the apotheosis of a typical "garage" or "garage prog" band and Greg Shaw's involvement with our music (and the music of bands worldwide in the same straits, i.e. relatively unknown), limited as it was in our case to the inclusion of OHO on Bomp's Waves Vol. 2 and Dark Side on Battle of the Garages (Vol. 1), prove to be two GIFTS THAT KEEP ON GIVING, & for over a quarter of a century now.

What follows are select extracts from the aforementioned correspondence, Greg's rhetoric probably also typical of the language he employed to encourage countless other independent and garage bands to press on to their sonic fulfillment during his tenure at the helm of BOMP! and Voxx Records:

"Thanks for sending the OHO package. I am very impressed, and have devoted some space to it in the new issue of BOMP. However, the album you sent arrived cracked. Perhaps that's part of the concept and I'm missing the point, but in any event we're not looking to get into the business of manufacturing pre-cracked records, so if you have a copy that's playable, I would be very interested in hearing it, and possibly making an offer for distribution. I would also like to hear any newer tapes you might have. The more bizarre and experimental, the better."--Greg Shaw (06.04.78)

"I am very interested in OHO, some of the stuff is amazing. From my standpoint there would be interest in putting out an EP, which could have up to 10 minutes a side. I would like to concentrate on the more psychedelic stuff, like "Here Come the Oysters" and, well you know which ones they are. It could serve as an introduction to the group, a chance to expose your most extreme ideas. I think it's probably the best way to introduce the group, and I think I could get a lot of mileage out of it, especially in England. All the best, Greg Shaw" (08.21.78)

"I don't know if you've heard anything but my company has been going through a severe financial crisis and I've been under a terrible strain trying to fix things. Things are looking better now so, if you're still interested in releasing an EP with us, I'd like to pursue it. I look forward to hearing from you soon. All the best, Greg Shaw" (10.19.78)

"...a full scale (OHO) project might be beyond my means. You should consider submitting a track for 'Waves Vol. 2'. I like Oho and I think the Waves album will be a fine vehicle for bringing your music to a wider audience. Regards, Greg Shaw P.S. We appreciate your ads in BOMP magazine. Hope the response has been good...last issue completely sold out, so more people than ever should be seeing it." (05.06.79)

"I have decided on 'Here Comes the Oysters' (live version) for the album. I enclose contract. Please also send me complete background info, photos, etc. Sincerely, Greg Shaw" (05.28.79)

"Things are progressing on Waves--release date in October still seems likely. Big interest overseas in releasing this one, as there's a lot of strong material on it. I'll be in England most of September helping promote our new releases and think I have hopes of really creating an interest for American music over there. Your stuff should go over especially well, being as experimental as it is. Best regards, Greg Shaw" (08.08.79)

"...the failure of certain distributors to pay substantial invoices on time...has thrown back our whole release schedule. The (Waves) cover is all finished, and it's beautiful--a color oil painting of Easter Island with the monoliths in the shape of Fender guitar necks; it may sound dumb but it works visually. I'm projecting a late January release, or early February. Rest assured Oho is on the LP and I've taken care to mention your many GOHOG activities in the liner notes. (Waves Vol. II OHO liner notes: 'OHO first formed as a trio in the summer of 1973. This early manifestation produced the songs that went onto their album OKINAWA, recorded in 1974. Originally a double album with 31 cuts, it offended the conservative Baltimore community with its rawness and disregard for convention. It was also one of the first albums released independently by an American band in the '70s. Assisting on the album were Bean Pie Bright on drums and singer-guitarist Baldus. The latter stayed with the band while Bean Pie was replaced by Baldus' brother Spink. Okinawa was followed by two abortive LPs: Vitamin OHO and Dream of the Ridiculous Band. 1977 proved to be overly oppressive for the boys so they took an unscheduled sabbatical. In the meantime three members continue to play in the Dark Side (two EP's and an LP in the works) and Trixy & the Testones (a fab revival of "Palisades Park"). Look for all of them and more on a sampler entitled The Best of Baltimore's Buried compiled by producer Paul Rieger who recorded this selection. The OHO crowd, otherwise known as GOHOG Productions, has played a large role in the growth of Baltimore's new music scene and OHO itself has never been properly recognized for their importance in the growing experimental sector of new wave.') I respect the energy you put into promoting your scene, and despite the delays, I'm sure Waves will bring you a lot more of the attention you deserve. My gut feeling is that 1980 will bring long overdue rewards for all the small people who've stuck it out this long. I feel very positive, and for whatever that's worth by way of encouragement, there it is. As for BOMP magazine...there will be one final issue in the old format. You could say that BOMP will be arising, phoenix-like from the grave of the '70s to greet the '80s in new form. I'm very excited about the new freedom this will give me to say the things that I really want to say. Have a good Christmas and get ready for the '80s...Best regards, Greg Shaw" (12.14.79)

"Enclosed is an advance copy of the WAVES album. The DARK SIDE LP is a good idea and, yes, we can help with distribution...we can probably sell a couple hundred, maybe more. Re the (possible) Dark Side single, the record would be released on our subsidiary label, Quark, which is designed for licensed product, one-offs, etc. Already out are singles by the Dadistics and the MnMs. Please let me know what you think about the album and everything else. All the best, Greg Shaw" (04.17.80)

"I'm very glad you're happy with Waves 2--reaction has been great everywhere, and the inclusion of Oho should do you some good. I'm sorry we had to edit the song, but when it came time to master there was just no way to get it all on, and I agree the edit (done by Stan Ross, an old pro if ever there was one) is a good one. Best regards, Greg Shaw" (05.15.80)

"'Here Come the Oysters' by Oho is a feverish dream of a madman/genius. The song maneuvers, folds and turns on itself exactly where it should. It's my favorite cut simply because it does something music rarely does anymore: it fascinates me." -Tom Kidd (On Record, Music Connection Vol. 4 Number 14, July 10-23, 1980)

"Okay, you win. Try as I may, I just can't seem to find anything to criticize about (Dark Side's) 'In the Dark'. It's great and I'd like to use it. Rather than a single, I think it belongs on the Voxx compilation album. I'm enclosing a contract, pretty much the same thing you signed for Waves. (Did you see the review where the OHO cut was picked as the best on the album?!) Return it with the master tape, and we're in business. Best of luck with the various projects you're doing. I'm looking forward to the Dark Side album. I do want us to carry it. Best wishes, Greg Shaw" (08.18.80)

"I really like the Dark Side stuff. It has a good grasp of updated '60s ideas and the cheesy recording quality is just right! Enclosed is your latest royalty statement...Hardly enough to buy a solid gold Cadillac. Best wishes, Greg Shaw P.S. Thanks for the various Worms tapes. Not as immediately up my alley as the Dark Side stuff, but interesting all the same. Will let you know if I can do anything. Meanwhile we'll continue to carry any records you put out naturally." (12.12.81)

"We're all in this first for love of music, just like you, and we try to do our best under difficult conditions. We're not always perfect but any mistakes we make are honest ones and I hope you appreciate that. Best regards, Greg Shaw" (12.28.81)

Recently received this encouraging news from Rockadrome/Vintage concerning the delayed release of OHO's Okinawa on compact disc:

"Jay,

At long last, OHO release is on the verge! I won’t meet the release date (05.25.10) I have set on my site, but the release date with my main distro isn't until middle of next month, I think. In any case my CD manufacturer has a 10 day turnaround. So, I’m ready to knock this thing out finally!! It’s looking like a 6-panel digi-pak with booklet insert at this point. This should be one nice package when it’s all done.

Thanks,

Dennis (04.14.10)"

Looks like this is really going to happen (and soon) as Okinawa can be pre-ordered for $16.95 at www.Amazon.com (add another $8.05 worth of merchandise to your order to take advantage of free, "super-saver" shipping). Seems like a fair asking price for 75 minutes of carefully remastered, classic proto-punk/prog/wave/"kitchen sink" music housed in a 6 panel digipak finished in a clear, high-gloss sheen with extensive liner notes, period photos and a 20-page ecologically friendly booklet printed on recycled paper that purportedly faithfully pledges allegiance to both Jon Considine's 1974 original while incorporating the Refugees addenda from their 1995 28-page update. We urge anyone with an interest in vintage OHO music to pre-order this disc. THINK PINK!

The Best of Baltimore's Buried Bands II has "sold out" at www.DGMlive.com. There are still copies (mostly "like new" and "used") available from mail order outlets scattered around the country who list the set at www.amazon.com. Our campaign to promote a certain musical POV of Baltimore's progressive "underground" scene has been a modest success, meaning that all the CD's have been disseminated; & it only took 7 years this time.

& from www.planetmellotron.com this surprising bit of news: "It seems that 1976's 'legendary unreleased' album, Dream of the Ridiculous Band, has finally appeared officially, on Gott Discs." "Officially"? That could be argued. Go to our "Vault" and click on Dream of the Ridiculous Band to behold the unapproved cover (?). "And not before time, Musketeers" it appears 70s OHO have arrived at a long-awaited milestone, our music finally in some demand and deemed valuable enough to be "bootlegged."

I am, however, finding it difficult to locate a copy. The results of a cursory web search have so far been fruitless, suggesting this may be a hoax. I have our contacts in the UK and in Germany on the case. News at 11:00 PM. I'd be happy to even purchase one as that method of procurement seems to be de rigueur when it comes to wrangling a copy from those unprincipled enough to filch the music, then release it without consultation or permission from those who have been entrusted with the master tapes. And what was used as a source, the mp3's from our vault? What next? Still, secretly this is viewed as a fortuitous omen.

On the other hand, we have publicly advocated "unauthorized duplication" (of OUR available material ONLY) ever since the Little Hans Progression give-away (issue #32, Summer/Fall 1999) & by urging downloading from our "Vault"; and I am repeatedly reminded that "music is now free." So one must weigh the possible outcomes of withholding the music from release ("nothing" happening) versus making it freely available ("something" happening). We remain ambivalent as to how we feel about this eventuality, but with a strong leaning toward getting the music into the universe anyway we can.

(Continuing to fulfill our commitment to address the KZMU/SHO OHO questions from the 08/25/09 radio interview sequentially, we answer the query following the airing of OHO's "Long to be Latin," a favorite of DJ and former OHO sound man, Steve Goodwin, who hosted the show.)

10. "Long To Be Latin" (5:05)--1989/2009

(Jay Graboski, Gyro, Mark O'Connor and Steve Heck)

(unreleased 2009 edit featuring the final verse & chorus sung in Spanish)

Artist: OHO

Release dates: 1989 (Audition), 1990 (OHO), 2003 (UP), 2004 (The Oriency Anthology)

Label info: 1989 (OHO CD-1), 2003 (OM52), 2004 (OM54)--OHO Music, 1990--SKY Records (7-20004-1)

Question: Relate the story of how OHO's "Out of Thin Air" resulted in your being signed by SKY Records.

This was the 2nd time in the same decade (the first instance in '82, the latter in '89) that one song made THE difference for us in as far as being key in the release of another critically acclaimed album and keeping things alive for a few more years, projecting the OHO legacy into the then near future.

Whereas Food for Worms' "It Needs a Haircut" closed out the 98 Rock Album, in a sort of "the last shall be first" kind of way "Thin Air" was chosen by the decision makers at WAMA as the opening track on the W.A.M.A. CD III (Washington Area Music Association); and from there the band was knocked over by a second outpouring blast of good (?) luck from the cornucopia of the benevolent and constantly available presence of music and her related agents.

The CD found its way into the “goodie” promotional gift bags at a NYC music industry convention where a rep from independent label Sky Records (Norcross, GA) heard the song. The label liked what they heard and rang us up.

When SKY Records A&R director, Abbe Myers, saw we had a ready-to-market CD (OHO's 1989 self-released, self-funded CD, Audition--partially paid for by the contributions of fans and family pledged at a fund raiser held in August 1989), she and promotions director, Jim Parker. flew to Baltimore to catch OHO’s October 20, 1989 performance at The Grog and Tankard where afterward they offered us their promotional services (for hire). We passed due the prohibitive expense.

Sky Records upgraded their offer a few days later, presenting OHO with a contract and their standard concomitant $8000 advance, kind of like an early 80’s minor league baseball contract. We went back and forth over the contract language with our attorney, E. Scott Johnson, Esq (Scott also played keyboards on OHO's "Angels"). After much procrastination, walking circles around the table where lay the unsigned papers, we contracted with Sky.

We attributed our signing directly to the initial exposure garnered from release of The WAMA DCCD. Steve Carr commented at the time, “It was the best investment our band ever made for promotion. What impressed me most was the speed with which the CD generated results for OHO. Within two months of its release, OHO was signed.”

A watershed event for OHO occurred when the Washington Area Music Association nominated the band for 5 Wammie Awards. OHO was nominated for "artist of the year" and "best new artist." Our CD was nominated for "best recording" (rock/pop). “Out of Thin Air” was nominated for "best song" and Grace Hearn was nominated for "best female vocalist" (rock/pop).

OHO was invited to play at the WAMA awards show and performed a rocking and spirited “Out of Thin Air” during the ceremony held in the Washington, DC Hyatt Regency ballroom on June 10, 1990. (This performance, filmed with one camera by Ken Birnie, is included in the DVD program that is part of OHO's Bricolage CD/DVD package, available at www.CDBaby.com available securely there and at a more-than-reasonable price.)

(Read the entire 2003 draft of the 9 page article about 1985-2002 OHO III ("The Female Dynamic") that appeared in Progression magazine Issue #45 (Winter/Spring 2004) at www.ohomusic.com/ohomachIII.html or by clicking on the UP album cover image on the home page of this web site.)

Found this at www.mutant-sounds.blogspot.com about Ecce OHO! using the BING search engine:

"Following Jim's post of this Baltimore outfit's truly batty and Zappa damaged basement prog debut Okinawa (and preceding my soon-to-come post of the expanded 4 x 10" box set reissue of that album), here's a briefly issued odds-n-sods archival collection released on the same label as said box i.e. Little Wing Of Refugees. Musically, Ecce Oho! lands somewhere between British proggers Morgan circa Nova Solis and The Hampton Grease Band, though it's neither as pomp bombastic as the former nor as eccentrically advanced as the latter and neither, to be honest, is it close to being as formidable a beast as either Okinawa or its follow up, Vitamin Oho (featured on the Orion Awakes blog Here alongside the single album version of Okinawa which is confusingly presented with a picture of the box set re-edition). Ecce Oho! does, however, have a handful of highly choice cuts that are well worth rolling around on your cilia, particularly the Magic Band meets Grease Band brain scramble of "Here Come(s) The Oyster" and the well fried "Cragwheel", a ripsnorting down 'n' dirty live take on "The Continuing Story Of Cragwheel The Corpse" from Okinawa."

This month's reading: Swann's Way by Marcel Proust. In his How to Read and Why, author Harold Bloom wrote, "Proustian memory finally seems a mode of right action that cures the narrator, and the reader, of 'dark inertia,'...the sickness unto death. Our despair requires consolation, and the medicine of a profound narration. All of Proust's characters are essentially comic geniuses; as such they give us the option of believing that the truth is as funny as it is grim."

I recall taking an English course on early 20th century novels at TSU in 1970 or '71 where the semester's reading list included the above from Proust's Remembrance of Things Past along with Joyce's Ulysses AND Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain among others. These are fairly hefty (i.e. a lot of pages and long sentences) and as I was working full time from 2:00-10:00 PM at Topps department store (a sort of antediluvian Walmart) as a stock person, I really wasn't afforded the luxury of having the time required to read them all; but I was able to complete The Magic Mountain, a treat I have subsequently revisited. Fortunately, one had only to pick a few from that list and Swann's Way got sideline for about 40 years. Well, it's time has come and it seems a fascinating if challenging read. Hope this prepares for what's next: Ulysses?

OHO and out.

April 2010

"Billboard's Recommended LP's (pop): OHO--Rocktronics, Clean Cuts CC 5001. Producers: Ty Ford, Jack Heyrman (EP). Mid-Atlantic quintet offers art rock with updated synthesizer accents. Seven tracks are given laudable production polish." (Billboard, July 7, 1984)

"Working with OHO through the Rocktronics project was one of those quantum leaps in my engineer/producer experience. I don't remember how they found me, but I've always been involved with local music. That was back in my days of working for radio stations. I was the in-house producer for 98 Rock; producing the station's compilations of local music. We had a good relationship with Sheffield Studios in Phoenix , MD. Sheffield's Chief Engineer, Bill Mueller, who engineered half of Rocktronics, taught a recording engineering course that later evolved into the full blown school that Sheffield has become. I had taken that first course to add to the broadcast engineering I already knew. We were a very good match then and we continue to keep in touch today.

OHO was very potent then; good ideas and a powerful performing ability. They were edgy and about as non-pop as you could be. So much so that after we finished the cuts for side one (yes, this was long ago enough that we were releasing on vinyl) I said I thought we needed some songs that were more consonant, prettier, maybe a ballad. Gyro and Mark came in with "Where Are We Now". Jay Graboski came in with "Diane" (lyrics co-written with co-producer, Jack Heyrman) and Gyro crooned them, but still with that quirky edge. Side two became side one because I thought those songs were more accessible. I guess they agreed.

Rocktronics is a two-headed beastie for another reason. The first side we recorded at Sheffield in Phoenix , MD. Because everyone in OHO had been at it for some time, we didn't waste a lot of time tracking. Regardless, the money added up and before we went on to side two, they had found Steve Carr, who eventually became the bass player for the group. I recall being apprehensive about recording in a basement studio with someone I didn't know. I think I said, "OK, let's try one song. If it sucks, we need to find another solution." While it lacked the space, microphone choice and SSL console, Steve's ability to get the most out of what he had filled in the gaps and I was satisfied, so we finished recording at Steve's studio, Hit & Run, near Gaithersburg . That was in 1984 and I think the time away from home contributed to my divorce. My ex-wife ended up in Boise married to a guy who sells commercial real estate. I'm still in Baltimore . Bette, my current wife, is the best!" -Ty Ford (02.17.10) (More about Ty, his interests and services at www.TyFord.com)

03.05.10--David & Jay at The Bratt studio arranging wav files of "2 Are the 1" (an original composed by David) & breaking out the Roland VG-99 for a variety of digitally modeled guitar tones. 4 hours later we walk to our vehicles with the latest mix in hand. On the way.

03.30.10--Guitar Craft, as we knew it, ends (?), reaches completion (?), finishes (?).

From the "one's man trash is another man's treasure" category: while speaking to SSA co-worker Roy F. on a 2nd floor hallway of the Security West low rise building in Woodlawn, MD sometime during the beginning years of the last decade, something vaguely familiar caught my eye, half-buried in a pile of detritus located in a wheeled canvas trash cart.

Our agency (SSA) would periodically encourage employees to clear out their accumulated, unnecessary and insensitive "trash" by conveniently placing these bins in nearby corridors. This was before the agency went "paperless" and periodically this impedimenta became cloying.

Roy often spoke of the itemized groceries he planned to pick up on his way home after his shift and, as interesting as this was, my eyes (and attention) soon began to wander, peering over his shoulder into one of these bins where the sheen of shrink-wrap had reflected in a gleam one of that hallway's fluorescent lights. I spontaneously reached behind him (my aim was true) & grabbed the thin 12"x12" square object, gingerly pulling it out of the stack of heavy papers where it was pinned. Voila, I held an intact, un-opened, mint copy of OHO's 1984 vinyl EP Rocktronics in my hands (the original title suggested was Nu-Rocktronics but this was whittled down by the producers to just Rocktronics). A fortuitous event, I clearly remember experiencing that rare "Eureka!" sensation as, at that time, I didn't have a copy in the archives.

It took me many years to understand that only a few of my SSA co-workers had any interest in our musical endeavors and apparently here was an instance where someone had either been gifted the record OR was one of the generous people who agreed to participate in one of my more adventurous experimental promotional schemes.

Soon after the record's initial release and local distribution I would taxi a different person each day during the lunch break to the nearby Woodlawn, MD Record & Tape Collectors store, drop him/her off (while I waited outside with the engine running) to ask the sales clerk to fetch that customer a copy of our new record. S/he would buy it and we were able to create the fleeting illusion that this title was a popular one.

This tactic actually worked for a while as when I would saunter into the store at the end of the month the store manager would boast of how OHO's Rocktronics EP had outsold virtually every other major release for the month of August 1984 at this specific outlet. Who knows what kind of swell might have occurred had the remaining band members done likewise in their respective neighborhoods/territories?

Soon the pool of prospective buyers evaporated and business returned to the norm. It was likely that I gave some of these records away and perhaps to people who, while politely feigning interest to my face but having no intention of ever listening to the record, forgot about it after perhaps shoving it in the bottom of one of their desk drawers where 18 years later s/he ran across it during this "clear-out," and then tossed it into this very dumpster, subsequently homing its way back into my possession. This speculation is just another bittersweet "boomerang" experience, one of a familiar variety as regards the circuitous routes that some of our musical product journeyed over the years.

(We've to date addressed half, 8 of 16, of the KZMU/SHO OHO questions from the 08/25/09 radio interview sequentially. This month we're on to question #9, this query following the airing of "Is That What You Said?" from OHO's 1984 EP, Rocktronics):

9. "Is That What You Said?" (4:28)--1984

(from Rocktronics, a 12" 7-song vinyl EP)

(David Reeve, Gyro & Jay Graboski)

Artist: OHO

Release date: June 1984

Label info: Clean Cuts Records (CC 5001)

Question: Please speak to how the Food For Worms song, "It Needs a Haircut" led to the band being signed by Baltimore-based Clean Cuts Records. Wasn't "Haircut" featured on a 98 Rock (local FM radio station WIYY) compilation LP as a result of that station's "Basement Tapes" competition?

David was THE MAN during this epoch of the band in many different ways. & I would declare that, were it not for his songwriting and insistence that we make a video, the Rocktronics EP would likely NOT have ever materialized. This is one of the many reasons why we chose "Is That What You Said?" to represent OHO Mach II in this KZMU-FM program, as a tribute to his incessant work on behalf of the band/music. It is also probably my favorite song on the record with it's snappily paced, positive and jangly sounding vibe. Gyro wrote the lyric and I did contribute a bit of music to the middle instrumental section but overall this is David's "baby" and attests to his significant song-writing talent. "Is That What You Said?" ends side one of this EP with a winning groove.

This version of OHO was really the Food for Worms band of 1983 agreeing (one member reluctantly) to a name change at the producers' behest and to cooperate with them from start to finish for perhaps the first time ever to this extent in our history.

Mid-80's OHO lasted for just a few months from Spring until the Fall of 1984 when the bassist and keyboard player left the band--Gyro, David & I joined with keyboardist Scott Dallas and added another guitarist/vocalist in the person of Michael Barth, but this abortive arrangement did not last, with rehearsals ending 6 months later in early 1985.

We were always angling for ways to attract outside help. This sometimes involved the relinquishing of some control over the content. Recording songs and releasing independent product is a very expensive enterprise and, aside from a couple of notable exceptions (this being one, another when OHO was signed in 1990 to Sky Records--receiving an $8000 advance) often results in a financially losing proposition, no matter how positively the music is received. Scanning the horizon for random opportunities to fly by, the former (of the aforementioned) occurred in 1982 when we answered a solicitation by local FM radio station 98 Rock for local bands to submit material for consideration for an upcoming, station sponsored, compilation LP of local artists, The 98 Rock Album.

"It Needs a Haircut," built around a catchy David Reeve instrumental hook/riff and based on a true story overheard by another band member about a corpse that required the attention of a hair stylist, was our contribution to this LP. "Haircut" made the final cut as the closer for the album's music program and every song received a substantial amount of airplay on 98 Rock, WIYY-FM, and for a significant period of time.

The record therefore also subsequently received extensive local promotion from the station and the concomitant distribution. There was an elaborate release party held for all the involved bands at the old Hammerjacks club in south Baltimore where I remember having a great time, cavorting and tossing back a few (there was an "open" bar) with our peers in the then local music scene.

All this was during the MTV "music video" heyday and David insisted that our band invest in making a video. Bratt Studio engineer, Bill Pratt, had received some national exposure on that cable network with a video by his band at the time, The Gents. Finalists in the MTV "Basement Tape" competition, the Gents were bold enough to have had their ambitious video shot on film stock with its classy "look", easily making it to the last round of the competition.

We hired a video producer, picked a tune ("Haircut" of course--it was under 3 minutes--less filming and editing time/expense), created a storyboard and rented some costumes and cheap props. The most expensive prop we purchased for $80 from an undertaker who had converted a coffin-like cadaver transporter into a more convincing coffin substitute by staining it and affixing budget line casket handles. (We eventually gave this to Trixy & The Testones guitarist, Kraig Krixer, who somewhat coveted it and upon delivery to his home put it to practical use for towel and linen storage.) The whole enterprise came to just over a grand in costs, but the response rewarded our investment in spades.

Always on the lookout for (especially local) music industry-related types who might help us, I had recently read a piece about Clean Cuts Records in the Sunday Sunpaper's Parade (?) magazine and was determined that we finagle a meeting. We found the label contact info, made an appointment to talk to Mr. Jack Heyrman and armed with a VHS of our video and the 98 Rock LP we made our presentation.

The details of our meeting are now foggy but I have listened to and have held the actual record in my hands. So we must assume success. It was kind of a "we'll meet you 1/2 way" deal as I remember we paid (or partially paid) for the recording sessions (engineered by Bill Mueller) at Sheffield Studios, having in 1978 relocated from Timonium (where OHO recorded both Vitamin OHO, Dream of the Ridiculous Band, the studio cuts one finds on Ecce OHO & Dark Side's Wholesale Diamonds EP) to the Jarrettsville MD area, where under the direction of Ty Ford (who was entrusted by WIYY with the supervision of recording/collating all the songs that were included on the 98 Rock compilation LP) we re-recorded "It Needs a Haircut," this time with Gyro singing the lead (our demo featured the vocals of the keyboard player--this version can be found on The Ultimate Diet, the Food for Worms anthology).

So at this point of convergence (the music, the band, the video, the comp LP, the airplay, the producers, the record company, et al) the project was already underway: a perfect storm. I remember the producers being present at many of our Woodlawn rehearsals (there was the quaffing of beverage and the occasional barbecue) sharing their obvious enthusiasm for the project with the band. The pair were very much "hands on" in the process of making this record.

We recorded side two at Sheffield ("Infomania," "Detached," "Still Life" and "Haircut") then switched to Steve Carr's Hit & Run Recording in Rockville, MD where we recorded the songs featured on side one of the EP: "Where Are We Now?" "Diane" and "Is That What You Said?". We wrapped these recordings up in the Fall of 1983 and I remember we had a TV in the vocal booth so we could follow the Baltimore Orioles progress as they pummeled Philadelphia in the last baseball World Series our home team has won or played in since.

Also of some significance was the re-introduction of female backing singers, their first appearance since Patsy Shock harmonized with me in 1975 on "Maiden Voyage"

(Ecce OHO). Karen Parr (who still does session work for Bill Pratt) & Tracy Tiernan (daughter of the late Tim Buckley's sometime keyboardist, Mark Tiernan) were enlisted to pad and/or answer Gyro's lead vocalizing and can be heard on at least 5 of the EP's 7 tracks...nice touch.

From Peter Gabriel's Scratch My Back liner notes: "I have always believed that artists are a lot more creative if you tell them what they can't do. It's...fun to explore ways of getting around the rules." While we were not actually told what to do per se & there were no specifically articulated "rules" as I remember, the underlying intent was for our team to make a "commercial" record that remained true to the band's intrinsic nature/sound.

Decisions were made more or less "by committee" with the producers gently steering us creatively and having final approval. We softened the signature, direct, biting and acerbic wit our projects were usually known for in favor of a more subtle irony (e.g. "Still Life" & "It Needs a Haircut") and adopted a "middle way" approach that was still humorous and engaging. (The name change issue and departure of one of our key players was touched upon in the "What's Up?" diary entry for April 2009 should anyone care to revisit this.)

This record was based on compromise and cooperation as with any successful "team" approach. I think together we made a very good sounding record (one we would have unlikely made on our own) and OHO definitely benefited by agreeing to work with the experienced Ty Ford & Clean Cuts Records with its established promotional network, financial reserves and the savvy expertise of label owner, Jack Heyrman, who had produced a Grammy-nominated album earlier in the decade. Jack had also released a pair of acclaimed LP's by Dr. John among others. He was also no stranger to humor as is evidenced by the Clean Cuts released 12" Bruce Springstone single also recorded at Steve Carr's Hit & Run Recording a year or so prior to our arrival there.

Unlike most of our dealings with independent record labels over the years (the relatively useless legal relics of agreement filling an overstuffed folder in our archives), the Clean Cuts contract was effectuated verbally. The tunes were published by Jack's Erikanian Music (named after his daughter) and if the record sold perhaps we'd make another. This did not happen but making Rocktronics spanned a 2 year time period and we participated in everything from composing the music to licking the stamps when sending out the promo copies, one of these BTW I recently purchased on line. The cover has yellowed but the disc is in excellent condition. The lower right hand corner had been trimmed indicating it to be a promotional copy. This was confirmed when inside the sleeve I found our promo one-sheet signed by Gyro that reads:

"MAY 23, 1984

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CLEAN CUTS RECORDS IS PROUD TO ANNOUNCE THE RELEASE OF THE NEW OHO LP, ENTITLED ROCKTRONICS...

THE RELEASE OF ROCKTRONICS MARKS THE FIRST ENTRY OF CLEAN CUTS INTO THE ROCK AND ELECTRONIC MUSIC FIELDS, ASIDE FROM AN EARLIER FLIRTATION WITH THOSE MEDIUMS ON THE BRUCE SPRINGSTONE NOVELTY RECORD.

OHO'S SEVEN SONG, $6.98 LIST MINI-LP WAS PRODUCED BY TY FORD AND JACK HEYRMAN. ALL COMPOSITIONS ARE BY OHO.

OHO'S FIRST VIDEO, "IT NEEDS A HAIRCUT", IS NOW AVAILABLE FROM CLEAN CUTS, AND A SECOND VIDEO IS IN THE PLANNING STAGES.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT LORI LANDON. TOM STITLER OR JACK HEYRMAN AT CLEAN CUTS." (this specific announcement was personalized in his own cursive handwriting with this message: "Hope you like it, Gyro")

Having had some prior dealings with independent record exec, Greg Shaw, his Bomp! label/fanzine and Voxx Records in the late 70's (Waves Volume II) and early 80's respectively (Battle of the Garages), we had some experience with these types of loosely constructed business agreements. Bomp's Suzy Shaw writes on page 150 of BOMP! SAVING THE WORLD ONE RECORD AT A TIME: "As far as Greg was concerned, business was a serious inconvenience. He had very important work to do, having everything to do with the creative process and nothing to do with money. The endless forms and legal matters that piled on his desk were generally ignored, and phone calls and letters were easily dismissed."

Assuming we were among the lucky ones, I located a photocopy of a Bank of America Bomp Records, Inc. check dated 12.12.81 made out to me representing $63.80 in royalties for the 09.80, 03.81 & 09.81 business quarters. Despite rumors of many of Greg's checks bouncing we were able to cash this one. And that was about it as far as any further royalty payment from Bomp/Voxx Records.

It is notable that in 1989 our music attorney, E. Scott Johnson, Esq., when petitioning ASCAP and BMI for any unpaid royalties that may have accrued in the interim, nothing showed up. I remember Scott being a bit surprised at this as Greg's publisher was Bug Music, a fairly prestigious LA based music publishing company. What's the expression? "Fake it till you make it?" Well, we have addressed the topic of the futility of expecting to be paid from time to time in this diary, haven't we?

Still, it's difficult for me to accept that Greg "has flown from this earth" and, royalties or no royalties, the independent music world has not been quite the same since his passing in 2004. I saved all the correspondence with Greg (spanning the period 1978-1981; there was a final letter from him in 1994--that I cannot find--after I had updated him with everything that we had recorded since '81, with emphasis on the then-current Lunar Merchant live-to-digital-2-track recordings). These 15 letters, some filling up to two pages with his text (Greg was primarily a writer) on psychedelic yellow BOMP! stationary, are preserved & archived in a small binder. Greg Shaw championed "the garage" as THEE sacred space for the creation of the quality raw & independent rock/pop music that often originates there.

Jack then petitioned a famous, internationally published, music journalist to write the Rocktronics liner notes (rumor has that this cost about $125) and here they are:

"OHO? Aha! That's a name that rings bells. Baltimore's answer to Pink Floyd (never mind what the question was), an American underground rock icon, a band that came out of nowhere playing music the chroniclers swore was years ahead of its time. That was much after the fact, though, because most of the praise arrived too late to save OHO from becoming yet another counter-cultural memory. Was the band disappointed, resentful? Nobody ever said so, but it wasn't long before the force realigned itself and the band's Dark Side emerged. Once again, the lads made the right moves at the wrong time, and while their contemporaries headed out to the garage to fulfill the promise of punk, the Dark Side were but rumors in their own time, legends in their own room. Fortunately, like Luke Skywalker, the force was too strong within them for the Dark Side to remain dominant. That chapter of the band's history was soon dead and buried, mere Food for Worms, and the OHO saga remained deep underground.

"Now OHO is back, but don't expect them to simply raise the flag on Okinawa and proceed as before. This isn't resurrection but rebirth, with new songs, a new sound, a new approach. Bright and tuneful, the selections here arrive right on time, hitting the basics of contemporary pop, but adding just enough of a twist to grab your attention and hold it. Rather than go to glitz, OHO sneaks around the musical conventions that have mummified so many others, unleashing sliders where you'd expect curve balls, fast balls where you'd expect change-ups. Part of it's their sense of humor--who else would write a hi-tech hymn like "Infomania" as a synth-pop polka?--part of it their unerring humanity. Mark, Mike, Dave and Jay manage to play even the most precise rhythm vamps without coming off like the latest-generation Bowie clone.

"''Where Are We Now?' asks the record, and the answer is in the grooves in more ways than one. OHO isn't just back, but on its way out of the underground. They've been ahead of their time for too long; for OHO, the time is now, and this record offers seven good reasons why."--J.D. Considine

"The cover of the album, by the way, was done by New York transplant Andrea Schamis, a graphic artist who could not make the bash (06.16.84 LP release party at The Marble Bar) because she was up in the Big Apple discussing the terms of her book 'A Closer Look,' which is due to be published soon."--Laura Charles, The Sun, Sunday June 24, 1984. (Husband Larry Charles later went on to be a successful Hollywood producer--e.g. HBO's Entourage series.)

This was a beautiful package with that high-gloss import finish, great cover art, flattering liner notes and great music mastered carefully on quality virgin vinyl. We were all very satisfied and proud when we finally received our own copies.

OHO's EP garnered some positive record reviews. Ken Tucker, in his The Village Voice "PAZZ & JOP" Product Report (basically a numerical rating system from -10 to +10) gave Rocktronics a solid 8, his highest mark in this June 5, 1984 (0L.XXIX, NO. 17) edition, tying with Jerry Lee Lewis and beating out releases by Johnny Winter (5), Steve Perry (5), Alan Parsons Project (3), George Jones (1), Roger waters (-1), Ultravox (-4) and Joe Jackson's Body and Soul (-3).

"OHO blends in new wave sensibilities to a deftly textured backdrop. OHO has assembled an above-average package. Best stuff: "Where Are We Now?", "Diane," "Infomania," and "It Needs a Haircut." --Patrick Gilbert (Detroit Monitor, 06.28.84)

"Very snappy electronic group that does have solid chops and a good feel with dazzling hooks. Unique EP with a lot on the ball that should sell through beyond the terminally hip level and actually come to grips with popular acclaim."

--Midwest Record Recap; May, 1984 (Vol. 7, #13)

From the Baltimore City Paper (date unknown): "OHO, who came to fame with Okinawa, a record that still sounds ahead of its time, are together again on a new seven song mini-LP on Clean Cuts Records. At the record release party, Mark O'Connor (kb), Jay Graboski (guitar), Gyro (vocals), Mike Kearney (bass) and Dave Reeve (drums) will treat you to future hits like "Infomania." Laff Clinic opens with original, danceable pop. 10 pm Marble Bar, 306 W. Franklin St., 727-5336."

Laff Clinic, whose actions suggested a lack of consideration for OHO or any understanding that a release party might be for the band that's actually releasing the record, IMHO selfishly hogged the minimal sound check time that was to be equally shared, perhaps unwittingly yet ultimately tantamount to an attempt to sabotage our portion of the show. This delay when mentioned was defended by one OHO member, astonishingly and in his occasionally caustic, willful manner (i.e. presented in such a way as to pre-emptively stifle any rational or "common sense" reminder as to our aim, conveying the possible negative impact this might have on our successful preparation for the show--& WHO would further exacerbate the problem by burning up even more valuable time in argument, as the success of the whole undertaking might rest on NOT playing though two 40-minute sets in a "pissed off" emotional state?). (Did this attitude hint at the likelihood of this player's eventual departure from the band a couple of months later?)

This resulted in our having to rush, NOT having been afforded sufficient run through time for even a coarse adjustment of our rather complicated stage set up (we had a quartet of synthesizers/keyboards, a drum machine & 3 vocalists aside from the guitar, bass, drums and assorted acoustic percussion to establish & balance audio levels). Our sound had necessarily then to be tweaked by the sound engineer "on the fly" during the first songs of OHO's "white" set (all members dressed in white--diametrically opposed to our 2nd or "black" set with all members being dressed in black garb). This he did successfully and, under the circumstances, quickly.

This selfishness was typical then and I still see instances of this sort of passive aggressive nastiness currently at many local musical events where there is more than one scheduled band/performer. Most bands deliberately postpone their start times so as to have a larger audience (this usually results in the last performers having to cancel or at the least, cut their set short and often in front of NO audience--I guess that's the rationale for it being OK to wreak this type of subtle violence). Then there's this thoughtless "hogging up" of sound check time and/or the delay of the clearing off of band equipment from the stage. All of this suggests a generally unbecoming, egocentric and clueless behavior that displays a large lack of regard for the other participants & in effect, "snubs the nose" at the supposed, mutually agreed upon aims of the event. Nevertheless we somehow managed to present ourselves and our music favorably.

OHO's EP release party was held at Baltimore's The Marble Bar (venue manager Leslie Anderson even provided us with a dressing room upstairs in The Congress Hotel). It was very well attended with complimentary promo OHO and "Rocktronics" buttons being handed out (courtesy of Clean Cuts Records), a guest list of notables, stage props created by our friend and artist Connell Byrne, and all video taped by Jeffrey Albaugh (I think). Aside from an initial and lengthy obfuscating overload of "fog" from David's cleverly constructed, home-made smoke machine (basically an oil drum filled with dry ice and an exhaust fan), it went off without a hitch and all had a wonderful time.

"The album release party at The Marble Bar on June 16, 1984 was a smash. The album 'Rocktronics' was performed by the group Oho, and members of the band and friends all gathered to toast its release. On hand was producer, John Heyrman, who was, crablings, nominated for a Grammy a few years back for a Phil Woods album he produced." --Laura Charles, The Sun (06.24.84)

By Spring 1985 the carriage reverted back to being a pumpkin and reduced to a duo, David and I began yet again.

We stay in touch with Ty. Aside from agreeing to pen a pair of germane paragraphs to kick off this month's "What's Up?" diary, he graciously attended our CD release party in March '08 for Bricolage and remains active in a variety of musical endeavors, not the least of which is running his own music/video production studio.

I last spoke to Jack Heyrman (Clean Cuts continues to thrive, having successfully branched out into all sorts of related business areas) in the early to mid "aughts" when he mused of releasing a compilation CD featuring choice tunes from the entire Clean Cuts catalog/history. "Where Are We Now?" was to represent OHO on the proposed package. He was preserving his catalog at that time by baking the master tapes, converting analog tracks to digital files. Clean Cuts later generously provided us with CDR copies of the Rocktronics digital transfer & we are currently able to enjoy and share this music in perhaps its highest quality version to date. We queried him electronically to obtain permission to make these tracks available for free download in our "vault" but we have yet to acknowledge even an informal reply to our request. Erring on the side of caution (as Erikanian Music holds the publishing rights), we refrain from making them available until such time as permission would be granted.

OHO and out.

March 2010

"Humour is not permitted." (Guitar Craft aphorism)

"Want to be a composer? Just follow these simple instructions: 1) Declare your intention to create a 'composition.' 2) Start a piece at some time. 3) Cause something to happen over a period of time (it doesn't matter what happens in your 'time hole'--we have critics to tell us whether it's any good or not, so we won't worry about that part). 4) End the piece at some time (or keep it going telling the audience it is a 'work in progress'). 5) Get a part-time job so you can continue to do stuff like this." (Frank Zappa)

"A blast of light at any moment, might as well come to me as anyone else." (Annie Dillard)

02.05.10--Sue Tice visits The Bratt Studio and for about 2 & 1/2 hours lays down a number of spirited fiddle tracks rife with sweet riffage for two instrumental sections of OHO's Ahora! suite...wunderbar!

02.06-09.10--Largest recorded accumulation of snowfall in the Baltimore area in history (over 5').

02.23.10--KZMU (Moab, UT) DJ Steve Hear airs OKINAWA in its entirety. Here's hoping you were one of the lucky ones to "tune/log into/onto KZMU Community Radio at 90.1 and 106.7 FM, on line @ www.kzmu.org on Tuesday 2/23 @ 4pm Moab time and 6pm eastern time" to (steve)hear the 2009 remastered versions of 29 songs from this 1974 vintage, original, underground, classic LP, slated for re-release on the Vintage division of the Rockadrome Record label sometime in 2010.

02.25.10 (5:36 PM EST) Jay's & Joan's first grandchild is born to son Matt Graboski and his spouse, Angela. Weighing in at 8 lbs. 2 oz., Delilah Grace is long and cool--normal birth w/o any out-of-the-ordinary challenging complications. She appears to have her father's long fingers (will she be a guitarist?). Baby. Mom and Dad and everyone else in the extended families all doing well.

(Continuing to fulfill our commitment to address the KZMU/SHO OHO questions from the 08/25/09 radio interview sequentially, we answer the query following the airing of "Privilege" from the Food for Worms 2001 anthology, The Ultimate Diet)

8. "Privilege" (2:02)--1983

(Jay Graboski)

(from The Ultimate Diet 26 song CD anthology)

Artist: Food For Worms

Release date: 2001

Label info: Yodelin' Pig Records

Question: What were the philosophical and musical concepts behind Food For Worms? Wasn't the "Ultimate Diet" CD also included in an issue of Progression magazine? Please comment on this marketing strategy as far as its effectiveness on promoting your music.

Answers to both of these questions can be found in more detail elsewhere at this site. Go to http://ohomusic.com/worm_is_the_word.htm. You will arrive at the entire text that accompanied Progression Issue 38 (Winter/Spring 2001) and here you may also download select FFW songs for FREE. Besides the memories of our 1st manager, the late Jim Vensel, one may read the recollections of 4 of that band's 6 members (Gyro, David Reeve, myself and the keyboard player) as well as the how-it-was-all-recorded recollections of engineer Bill Pratt.

As far as a commentary on including "give-away" CD's in occasional issues of Progression magazine, may we suggest you begin with the more in-depth explanation of this promotional strategy by perusing our "What's Up?" entry for November 2009.

If one finds it plausible that one must spend up to $20,000 to successfully sell 1000 cds (source--The Music Connection), then why not save yourself (and this after assuming you've actually been paid between $3 and $5 for each of these 1000 discs) at least $13,000 (in promotion, postage, packaging with the balance in petulance) of that figure on each and every release. Our experience has been that this significant savings is realized by: 1) staying employed in a somewhat secure day job with benefits to facilitate a relatively comfortable retirement at say, age 55 (easier said than done nowadays I presume); and 2) through direct distribution of 5x as many cds accompanied by what might be considered by some to be an extravagant promo package courtesy of the host magazine, consisting of your (the story/facts spun in such a way so as to facilitate achievement of your purpose--by eliminating a large percentage of the embarrassing and inevitable day-to-day intra-band negativity and focusing on the positives that occurred in spite of it) self-authored (it may feature supportive and select quotes from any pertinent media) multi-page band history/bio, photos and usually an entire page dedicated to the CD liner notes and credits) to 5x as many, probably predisposed, genre-specific aficionados (including infomaniacally voracious, prog-related, promotion-producing web-sites worldwide as well as a handful of prog-friendly radio stations)? Remember, OUR aim is to GET THE MUSIC OUT INTO THE UNIVERSE ANYWAY POSSIBLE!

It was fortunate that we were able to sneak this one in as FFW was not quite progressive (also not quite "punk" and not quite "new wave" either, while incorporating elements of all three genres); and editor John Collinge while allowing it, did comment to me after the fact that FFW music was a bit too edgy for most of his readership, and to please keep this in mind for any future projects. Ultimately it was an offer he didn't refuse and to our relief the package was indeed published and distributed to the magazine's readership 18 years after we disbanded.

If not for Progression I doubt this anthology (the Little Hans Wunderkind anthology was distributed in similar fashion, accompanying Issue #32, Summer/Fall 1999 and still, BTW, on sale as a back issue at the Progression website shop) would have otherwise ever been made available. Yodelin' Pig Records lent us their logo/brand, offering the disc for sale as one of that company's mail order items and displayed it at a buyer-friendly price in the Record & Tape Traders chain of ten retail music stores in the Baltimore metropolitan area and three adjacent Maryland counties during the early "aughts".

Notwithstanding any likelihood of recoupment of our initial outlay of cash (not to mention the energy expenditure for all the unpaid "busy" work involved soliciting memories of former band members in writing, copyrighting, fact checking, remastering and preparing archived recorded and visual materials, arrangements with the CD manufacturer, magazine printer/editor et al--& I'm NOT complaining as I find this process to actually be FUN), I doubt Diet would have otherwise been funded were there not this established "delivery" system in place to guarantee our rare & mostly unreleased music be gifted to those most likely to appreciate it.

Of course the readership benefits as does the magazine, which from time to time offers these bonuses without any increase in issue price or subscription rate. We remain grateful to editor, John Collinge, that this outlet for distributing our material in accompanying issues of Progression (often featuring lengthy text, period photos and the appropriate credits) currently remains available to us as, at least for the foreseeable future, we see this method as the likely way to first release, upon its completion, the OHO Ahora! suite into the world ("look for it around 2016").

Even with the proliferation of all the music now available on the Internet (both for free and for sale), the competition for listener attention among independents is unfathomable (I'm told this is a good thing) and strategies must be invented (then continually adjusted in accord with the ever-increasing flux of the latest technological advances) that: 1) let people everywhere know what music is on offer and 2) attract and urge listeners to link to the band's site or one of the countless digital distribution addresses where you have by this time made your music readily available for downloading.

Sean McFee's July 2001 Expose (Issue #22) review of Food for Worms--"The Ultimate Diet" (Yodelin' Pig Records, 1981-84/2001, CD):

"Food for Worms was a Baltimore-area band formed out of the ashes of Oho (actually, this Phoenix arose from the ashes of Dark Side, a band that previously arose from OHO's ashes in 1977). This release compiles 26 short tracks spanning the band's output over the course of the CD. The music is economical, intelligent New Wave-ish independent rock in a song-oriented format. This is a g/k/b/d line-up where the keyboards are analog/digital and tend to be used in a supporting role. Humor abounds in this band's material, whether in the faux-doominess of 'All You Need Is Jazz' or in tracks such as 'No One Said It'd Be Easy,' which comes across as a suspiciously straight-faced pastiche of Springsteen. Much of the music is uptight and jaunty, even carefree, in contrast to the often tense and sarcastic lyrics: I sometimes think of REM with a bitter streak. Clearly the members of Oho made a smooth transition into new territory when the Good Ship Progressive sank, and the result is clever and artistically profitable. For those who like engaging and accessible music that is still entertaining and musically interesting, this is a winner."

Food for Worms (US)

Food for Worms, 'The Ultimate Diet'

The Ultimate Diet (2000, recorded 1981-84, 74.00) ***½/½

All You Need is Jazz
Cream Always Rises
Pink Dishes
Cosmo's Credo
Mr. Twister
We Represent the Symbol
First Grade
The Worm is the Word
Child's Play

Out of True
Moderately Severe
Another Still Nite
Diet of Worms
No Idea
Gloom Club
No One Said it'd Be Easy
Weather is Permanent
How I Spent My Summer Vacation

It Needs a Haircut
It Takes a Summer Job
Johnny Vette
Neil's Stick
Primal Bridal Passion
Privilege
Kiss of Death
Los Gusanos

Mellotron used:

This odd little item came free with an issue of US prog mag Progression, and turns out to be the entire collected works of the early-'80s outfit that grew out of mental Baltimore proggers OHO, with all tracks recorded between 1981-4. Fittingly, given when they were active, Food for Worms have that quirky 'new wave' sound about them, with short but action-packed songs, vocals that owe a not-so-minor debt to Talking Heads et al., and the then-fashionable Farfisa organ. Plenty of squelchy synths, jagged rhythms and general weirdness, but the only Mellotron I can hear on the whole thing is some voices on 'All You Need Is Jazz', and they sound like they've been processed in some way. So, good, if odd album, very little 'Tron indeed.

n.b. It remains available along with the 6 page story text w/period photos in back issue #38 of Progression magazine (Winter/Spring 2001) at www.progressionmgazine.com, in case you're trying to find a copy.

See: OHO | Dark Side (the above is from www.planetmellotron.com)

_______________________________________________________________________

"To: garbotzo@yahoo.com
Subject: Okinawa Show Next Tues
Date: Tue, 16 Feb 2010 12:58:41 -0700
Hi Jay,
The following will be my show intro which will have "Moon Draw Your Curtain" playing in the background. I will be using alot of what you have emailed me in the past to fill the audience in on the "story of Okinawa" as the show progresses.
. Thanks for all you help.
Hi stevehear--welcome to this edition of the SOUNDTHING Radio Show. (station Id) Today, featured in its entirety will be the independently produced 1974 underground/progressive cult favorite "Okinawa" a 29 song collection by the Baltimore based band OHO.
This is the story of how an artist can, after 35 years persevere and find recognition by an audience for his work. And so-- I would like to dedicate this edition of the SOUNDTHING Radio Show to all those struggling artists, in whatever medium, but especially those musicians who despair of ever reaching that audience.
As this show today might demonstrate, time, and staying true to one's vision can indeed result in achieving that ultimate goal-- recognition of one's art as valid.
To quote from the Rockadrome Records web site, that of a company due to re-release this work:
'Vintage Records (a subsidiary of independent San Antonio based label Rockadrome Records) has agreed to release, for the first time on CD, OHO's classic, independently produced, underground 1974 psychedelic/progressive LP, Okinawa.
'OHO Guitarist Jay Graboski is working closely with the Vintage label on a new digital remastering of this classic material that is now 35 years old. Jay has been a member of this ever transmogrifying ensemble since late 1973 when rehearsals for the recording of this 29 song double LP began, and he will be overseeing this new mastering and the extensive liner notes and lyrics that will accompany the release. Panned and derided by local music critics at the time, Okinawa has since gradually gained in stature among record collectors and progressive music fans worldwide, now considered by some to be a minor progressive masterpiece featuring music akin to Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, early Alice Cooper, Genesis and Wild Man Fischer. Germany's Hanf magazine called Okinawa Sgt. Pepper's for the advanced listener.
Previously re-released in 1995 on German record label, Little Wing of Refugees, as a 4 10" limited edition vinyl set in a metal film canister accompanied by a 30 page booklet of lyrics, credits, photos and anecdotes, the new Vintage re-release will be the first time this music is officially made available on Compact Disc. Stay tuned for this long awaited re-release later in 2010.'
www.rockadrome.com
I had the pleasure of being the sound engineer of a number of live shows for the version of OHO which existed in the late 80's-to mid 90's and as time permits following this presentation of "Okinawa", I will be playing some selections from that era of OHO's existence which I am pleased to be able to say is part of my own personal history and experience.
And now-- in its entirety, the album "Okinawa" by OHO."

A technical note on electric guitar amplification for the Okinawa sessions: I came upon an article in the April 2010 issue of Vintage Guitar touting the virtues of the Silvertone 1484 or "Twin Twelve" tube amplifier marketed by Sears, Roebuck and Co. in the mid-60's (I got mine in the summer of 1965). This amp debuted with a price of $149.95 (today=$1000). This was the amp I used from 1965-1969 (see photo at the conclusion of April 2009's "What's Up?" entry--in fact, in this photo there is also the updated-but-less-renowned 1967 "solid state" version of that amp (white-faced and clad in black tolex) that I think Mr. "Wrod" Jackson ran his Farfisa combo organ through as a member of THA). "Their values jumped when The White Stripes became popular and players learned Jack White's killer sound was through (his 100-watt, 6 10" speaker, 1485 version) Silvertone amp(s)."

All electric guitar parts on OHO Okinawa were played by the band's lead guitarist on my Gibson ES-335 through a Silvertone 1484..."this baby can rock the socks off the meanest swamp alligators!" article author, David Jung.

February snow storm reading completed: Maurice Nicoll's Psychological Commentaries on the Teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky Vol. III. Recommend that one, Oprah. The gist? As one of my many "i's" sees it: so much being willed and only a very few really here allowing themselves to make "essence active and personality passive"...yet.

Also read The Real Frank Zappa Book (autobiography). Frank's words on what appears to me to be kind of related to one of Mr. Nicoll's above-referenced commentaries: "I suggest we learn how to take anything bad that happens to us and polarize it. Instead of being overwhelmed by a negative event, dodge to the side like those t'ai chi guys and let it whizz by your pants. Maybe it makes a little breeze--big deal. (Please don't mistake this for optimism.)" (page 234)

OHO & out.

February 2009

"I decided to turn the word 'pretentious' into a compliment. The common assumption is that there are 'real' people and there are others who are pretending to be something they're not. There's an assumption that there's something morally wrong with pretending."--Eno

"The key to practical action is the assumption of virtue: we may not be 'fully integrated', but may we act as if we were?"--Fripp

01.12.10--KZMU (Moab, UT) airs Dark Side's "Can't Get used To It," OHO's "I Crawled Back to Nothing When I Crawled Back To You" and The Weaszels' "Big Trouble."

01.20.10--Songs from our Circle 5 compilation CD featuring members of the Baltimore Songwriters Association arrives featuring OHO's "The Plague" with vocals by Matt Graboski (El Sledge) and re-recorded acoustic guitars interleaved with the original 1974 instrumental tracks. This 2-disc set also includes selections by BSA friends Ty Ford (Rocktronics co-producer), pianist Ray Jozwiak (x-Ful Treatment) and Warren Cherry, former band mate of the late Trent Zeigen and singer for their 60s Baltimore band, The Herd (Trent played keyboards in Little Hans and contributed largely to both OHO's UP and Bricolage CDs). www.baltimoresongwriters.org

Still addressing the KZMU/SHO OHO questions from the 08/25/09 radio interview one by one, we answer the next query following the airing of "Fun In Nicaragua" from Dark Side's 1996, cassette-only release, Dark Side '96:

7. "Fun In Nicaragua" (2:48)--1980/1996 (J.P. Graboski & M.F. O'Connor) (live-to-digital-2-track live recording from Dark Side '96, a cassette-only release) Artist: Dark Side/Release date: 1996/Label info: Go Hog Records C-3

"Dark Side were, essentially, a continuation of Baltimore's avant-gods OHO, although the musical path they chose was utterly different. Imagine a 1980-style 'noo wave' band, with pointed, ironic lyrics, a scratchy, punkish approach to their playing and dollops of Farfisa all over everything, and you won't be too far out. They released one album, the now-so-rare-I-can't-even-find-a-cover-scan-on-the-Net Rumours in Our Own Time, Legends in Our Own Room, which should probably have done an awful lot better than it did. Just think; what if The Cars had had brains? Decent enough material. Mellotron on one track, Down The Tubes, with some background strings that really make a difference.

As part of a general OHO reissue programme, the whole album was released on CD in 2005 as Odd Fellows on an Even Day: Anthology 1977-1995, expanded to double its original length. Y'know, you've got to really like this stuff to want to listen to an entire album of it... That's not to dismiss it in any way, however; it's good at what it does, just doesn't really hold the attention of one not into the style for over an hour."

www.Planetmellotron.com.

Even more background (check the page dedicated to "the Side" by clicking on the "Dark Side" hyperlink at the top of the home page of our site): This version of that band existed from 1977-1981 and enjoyed some local success tying with R & B stalwarts, The Nighthawks (front man, Mark Wenner, played harmonica on OHO's "Under Covers" on our Bricolage CD), at number 5 in the Sunpaper's "Top Local Bands" critics' poll (Monday, January 19, 1981 edition) listing ahead of The Slickee Boys and The Accused.

"The standout cut on the (Rumours In Our Own Time/Legends In Our Own Room) album is 'Fun In Nicaragua' (these words are repeated over & over throughout the cut). The song sounds like something third-graders sing during recess. The lyrics are painfully simple, but somehow funny--'Dennis Marteeen-ez, your home is where the heat is.' All in all, the quality is terrible, the music (although well-played) is fuzzy, and the album cover falls apart as soon as the shrink-wrap is removed. Still, I can't help but like this album." --Scott Flood (Night Rock News, 1981)

Dennis Martinez, at the time a winning baseball pitcher in the starting rotation for the Baltimore Orioles, is from Nicaragua and in 1979 there was, of course, the Sandinista revolution in his native country. And this is what “Fun in Nicaragua” is about. 16 years later he was still pitching when we reunited for this featured recording, prompting a lyric change from "your home is where the heat is" to "this will be your last season".

Surprisingly Mr. Martinez went on to pitch at least one more season (maybe even 2) in the majors, completing his distinguished career in Montreal, or maybe it was in LA? Nevertheless, "Nicaragua" was a crowd pleaser with audients often joining in vocally on both the choruses and the "middle 8" (we'd also sometimes hand out kazoos so audience members could mimic the horn parts when we'd play "Bluestown"), another reason why it was included in the play list for the August '09 KZMU radio show.

Question: This sounds nastily powerful. Please speak to the process of recording live in the studio without the luxury of overdubbing and what triggered this reunion session?

First of all the drums are monster! This is a combination of the studio drum set tuned and maintained by producer/engineer Steve Carr at his Hit & Run recording studio, a discriminating microphone choice and their placement around the kit...AND primarily the heavy percussive technique of drummer David Reeve.

Also having recently been reminded of Hoshino made amps in an interview with Sundown designer/collector, Dennis Kager, in last month's issue of Vintage Guitar, I was reminded of how we achieved the "nastily powerful" guitar tones that generally represented my recorded work with Dark Side, The Weaszels, and Lunar Merchant (outside of the OHO work--generally acoustic/electric) throughout the 90s, very much of it recorded "live-to-digital-2-track."

Using a Mesa Boogie V-Twin tube pre-amp through the clean channel of either my Sundown combo (it sported a neat variable RMS wattage selector knob--anywhere from 10 to a blasting 100 watts) or through a 50-watt Sundown guitar amplifier head in Steve Carr's arsenal at his studio in (yeah!) Rockville, MD., I connected the power output from either of these amps to a 4/12 slant-faced Marshall cabinet with a closed back (this seemed to prevent a lot of the lower and lower mid-range frequencies from dissipating out the open back of my Sundown combo amp which itself boasted a heavy duty & very capable Electro Voice 12" loudspeaker (its magnet weighing in at a hefty 16 lbs.).

There was some real crunch in either of these set-ups, especially when playing my at-that-time recently acquired burgundy 1975 Les Paul Custom through them (this guitar, originally owned by OHO's 70s lead guitarist, was purchased by a mutual friend, Bill Senge, who aside from helping us out with a bunch of graphic work in the 90s, also sold it to me for $400 before my selling it back to him--at the price I paid for it--a few years later and prior to his family moving to Texas).

The appealing and tight crunch is what one hears when one listens to this specific track (and the remainder of the tracks on this cassette as well since they were all recorded during the same afternoon session at Hit and Run Studio). Three recordings from this Spring 1995 session are included on the-currently-available-at-CD Baby.com, Dark Side's Odd Fellows on an Even Day CD anthology: "In the Dark," "Back Off!" & "You Should Envy Me."

Throughout the 90s "live-to-digital-2-track" recording was often the way for us to go. It was honest and without the luxury of overdubs; what you hear is what you get. In the case of the first instance of our venture into this recording technique (however cost effective and immediate it was), during the OHO Sacco cassette recording session (1992), it was impossible for bassist/engineer Steve Carr to both play bass and run his recording console simultaneously so, in that instance the bass was mixed in later. But the drums, guitars and vocals were all performed/recorded together "live" but in a controlled studio environment (you can even here the patter of the rain on the air conditioner on one of the Sacco tracks). The recording was in stereo with engineer Carr designating the panning spectrum and then recording each performance to DAT (digital audio tape). The only option to improve on this was to play the songs over and over until we got a take agreed upon via consensus.

The Weaszels often recorded this way as did Lunar Merchant (01.1994), wrapping up with the Dark Side '96 session that actually took place in the Spring of 1995. In fact our bass player wanted to call the cassette Dark Side '95 (in the spirit of Beatles '65) but we had so much difficulty in transferring the saturated/ultra high volume mixes to the cassette tape medium we were unable to release it until the following year.

The Marble Bar Survivor's Party on the evening of 02.25.95 at the 8x10 club near Federal Hill in Baltimore was ultimately the catalyst for this recording reunion. Hosted by former Harry editor, Tom DiVenti, and the late Pam Purdie (a music journalist for the Baltimore City Paper at the time), "The Weaszels, Richard Taylor, Null Set, Adolf Kowalski, trombonist Craig Considine (who played on many Dark Side and even on the mid-70's OHO recording of "Paint Can" from the still unreleased Dream of the Ridiculous Band), The Alcoholics, Dark Side, Off the Wall (featuring multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Glenn Workman, who played live with OHO at the 1988 Yamaha Soundcheck at The Universal Amphitheater in Hollywood as well as contributing his talents to both OHO's UP and Bricolage CDs), all" joined Roger's widow’s band, "Leslee Anderson & The Twisters for a night of music and memories in tribute to the late Roger Anderson, the Marble Bar impresario who made room for local bands to play original music in a city infested with cover bands. (Pam Purdy, City Paper, 02.95)

Although almost sidelined by Graves Disease, I was able to join David Reeve and our re-united former band mates on stage for this wonderful and "nostalgic nite of music." We performed a 1/2 hour set of songs mostly from Rumours In Our Own Time...and as far Dark Side songs go (most being under 3 minutes), that meant about 10 (actually it was eleven songs as Ken Birnie filmed our 34:30 set). The best live recorded versions of these songs (this turned out to be ALL of them), the basis for the subsequent recording session, were included on the Dark Side '96 cassette.

"Produced by Steve Carr, Dark Side '96 resonates with grits and guts. Chock full of sonic surprises, this tape shines a fresh new light on Dark Side."

--Mark Bounds (Music Monthly, March 1997/Issue #150/Vol. 14 #3)

There are all kinds of ways for bands to disintegrate but the story of how the Dark Side schism eventualized in late 1980 is one of the more bizarre/ironic that I remember. That is, this split occurred because the creative milieu was so fertile. Dark Side employed an "around-the-horn" method of making certain everyone had their chance to submit songs for consideration for the band to learn and incorporate into our repertoire. So we went from the keyboard player to the bassist to the guitarist and back and so forth. If it was say, my turn, & I did not have a song ready we would move on to the next songwriter in the established sequence.

Well, during and after the 12" vinyl release of Rumours in Our Own Time/Legend In Our Own Room, our keysman began to become more and more prolific with his songwriting and he was venturing/expanding into different musical areas. This meant that not only did he have a song ready to go whenever it was his turn, but in the event either of the remaining songwriters would not have a song prepared upon arriving at his own turn, he was "at-the-ready" with another song. This did not bother me at all as thus was the way things were set up and to my mind it was a fair arrangement. Prolificity (sic) is a GOOD thing, right?

The bassist, however, became more and more annoyed by this to the point were he made it known. My speculation is that this festering stemmed from his having to learn all this new material, some of which was not for him, and this would also encroach upon the time he had available for his own songwriting usually taking more time due to his phlegmatic method of composition.

A mental device I have used over the many years to accommodate the songwriting styles of others is to suspend personal taste and judgment. This is having mercy on oneself. It requires practice and dispenses with the arbitrary personal taste factor, reinforcing the realization that "like and dislike are very cheap" (another Guitar Craft aphorism that rings true).

If one were to approach the songwriting of others in a spirit of "what is it that I can contribute to realize the songwriter's vision of his/her song" (i.e. openness) then the usual outcome is, in a certain sense, that I have made the song my own. And the resulting usual effect is that I come to champion and enjoy those contributions of my band mates. This is definitely part of what it means to be in a band, when the team acts as one.

So, in another topsy-turvy attempt "to turn advantage into disadvantage," of course I was the one approached about this "problem" (& not the keyboardist) and basically the complaint was that the keyboard player was writing too many songs. Other than this complaint sounding somewhat ridiculous/absurd, to my way of thinking it undermined the healthy and safe creative environment we had established thereto and revealed something ugly about the subtext of the day to day interactions of Dark Side. (BTW Dark Side's tenebrous moniker was inspired by the title of the B-side of the Shadows of Knight mid-60's 45 rpm record, "Gloria" and not the often underestimated force that motivated the villains of the Star Wars trilogy.)

Advising a creative person to curtail the amount of music that flows through him/her and into manifestation is something I'm unable to do and is impossible anyway. Creativity is the foundation of any band with an identity. I told the bassist that this was not going to happen but that he may deal with it on his own if he preferred and...good luck with that!

There must have been other problems that were not articulated and one would have to go to the source to find out what they might have been. But by January 1981 David Reeve, myself and the keyboard player joined with bassist Paul Rieger to form Food for Worms and the Dark Side bassist went on to revamp what was now "his" band to where he would continue to lord his "preoccupation with 60s pop, teen-drama lyrics and neo-Spector production." (Comstock Lode,No. 9) over a new set of players for another year or so before disbanding it to form the rockabilly-esque Wildcats.

From: Steve Goodwin Subject: Okinawa,etc.
To: "Jay Graboski" <garbotzo@yahoo.com>
Date: Sunday, January 10, 2010, 12:50 PM

Hey,
I plan to play Okinawa in its entirety (with some "shit" edits) and a few things from Dream of the Ridiculous Band on the 1/26 show. Some questions for you: 1. In what format was it originally released and what was the selling price. Indy release or company? How was it distributed? There is a new German re-release in the works? What can you tell me about the cult fave status of this record? Free downloads of this and whole catalogue on ohomusic.com?

In the show intro I was planning to speak to the 70's "art rock" style of the music as contemporaries of Gentle Giant, Early Genesis,Capt. Beefheart, Wild Man Fisher, Happy The Man, FZ, and King Crimson. Does that sound anywhere near the mark to you? Your suggestions are most welcome. The playlist will be going up on the kzmu site later today.
Steve

From my reply:

Date: Tuesday, January 12, 2010, 4:51 PM

Okinawa? In it's entirety? Wow!!!!!!!!!!! This is definitely the most significant radio event (for us) since 1972 when WKTK-FM DJ Joe Buccheri aired our 42-minute, 1/4" stereo demo tape of the Little Hans rock opera, Peter Pan, during prime time and with only one, very short station ID. So, this is momentous! Now on to answering your questions.

1. Original format?

Recorded during a 2 week period in January 1974 and released independently in July 1974 (i.e. there was no "label" information other than what I'm guessing is the manufacturer's ID project numbers for sides one and two, NR4579-1 & NR4579-2), Okinawa manifested as a stereo, 12" vinyl LP. It sported a (construction paper) matte-finished, pink cover with OHO Okinawa very simply printed on the front cover (I'm pretty sure "stick-on" letters were used) and one of graphic artist, Jon Considine's OHO logos on the back cover. I still hold the original camera-ready artwork that was used for the disc's manufacture. On the actual disc were pink labels listing the songs. Remember this was edited down from 30 songs to 15 as funding a double album was prohibitively expensive for the band at that time. The songs on side one are:

1. DUVA (OHO)--3:55

2. The Salient Sickle Sucker (O'Connor)--5:23

3. Brown Algae Is Attractive (Heck)--2:20)

4. Manic Detective (O'Sullivan)--2:08

5. Horse Remorse (O'Connor-O'Sullivan)--3:33

6 .Ain't Life Dumb? (Heck)--2:27 (with this song Nuna claims to have invented "rap")

7. Hairy Bag (O'Connor)--1:01

Side Two:

1. The Continuing Story of Cragwheel the Corpse (OHO)--6:20

2. Last Dance (O'Sullivan)--1:01

3. Ivy Dog (O'Connor-O'Sullivan)--1:52

4. A Frog For You (O'Connor-O'Sullivan)--2:33

5. The Unfortunate Frankfurter Vendor (O'Connor)--1:10

6. Pale Hippo (O'Connor)--1:50)

7. Gotta Write A Poem (O'Connor)--1:19

8. The Plague (Graboski-O'Connor)--4:11

I found one of our Okinawa ads from a 1978 issue of Trouser Press magazine and it reads: "If you want one send $4.00 to..." As young men in our 20's we knew nothing of how to distribute a record. Having already spoiled a potential record deal with A&M records (a story in itself), we had to do this on our own. There was a record store in Towson Plaza (Music Liberated) that in 1974 took a bunch of Okinawa's on speculation but either we failed to get a "consignment" agreement in writing, or it was later lost or misplaced.

In 1978 (that's at least 3 years later) I went back to this store and found an entire bin filled with our albums displayed for sale tagged at $2.98 each, the going rate for "cut-outs" at the time. First, I tried to get them to settle our account but the owner requested I produce our written agreement, which I did not have as there was none. Being denied in that regard, I then offered to buy them all at the $2.98 rate at which point he gathered up all the LP's and took them into a back room, refusing to allow me to even buy one of them.

"The Seventies Rock Label" Little Wing of Refugees announced the release for the 1st time (celebrating their 25th vinyl project) with the following text: "a complete edition of this progressive masterpiece...including all 31 songs originally recorded...a luxury set of four 10" LPs, housed in a tin box with a 28-page booklet. The set is limited to 800 individually numbered copies!"

Release date: July 27, 1995. Dealer's price: 43,90 DM (43.90 Euros, Deutsch marks in '95, today would be about $63.77). I think I was selling them for $50.00 (my cost) per set + shipping and packaging for the mail orders. I didn't really care about making a profit, rather I wanted to see them distributed and out in the universe, being played or at least, looked at.

The Austin. TX based Rockadrome Records was/is(?) planning to release a 30 song CD version of Okinawa on its Vintage subsidiary label in 2009/10 with a 20 page booklet using the original artwork. To date this has not happened.

The most recent communique from the label's owner was dated 09.11.09 when he assured me the release was still in the works. It was hot in Texas last summer, he had some financial setbacks due to a car accident, his air conditioning unit breaking down at his store, and then there's the current economic environment with CD sales generally off -18.8% in 2007, -19.7% in '08, and an additional -17.9% off of that figure in 2009. I guess we'll see what happens.

From the Rockadrome web site's home page:

"Vintage Records (a subsidiary of independent San Antonio based label Rockadrome Records) has agreed to release, for the first time on CD, OHO's classic, independently produced, underground 1974 psychedelic/progressive LP, Okinawa.

"OHO Guitarist Jay Graboski is working closely with the Vintage label on a new digital remastering of this classic material that is now 35 years old. Jay has been a member of this ever transmogrifying ensemble since late 1973 when rehearsals for the recording of this 31 song double LP began, and he will be overseeing this new mastering and the extensive liner notes and lyrics that will accompany the release. Panned and derided by local music critics at the time, Okinawa has since gradually gained in stature among record collectors and progressive music fans worldwide, now considered by some to be a minor progressive masterpiece featuring music akin to Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, early Alice Cooper, Genesis and Wild Man Fischer. Germany's Hanf magazine called Okinawa "Sgt. Pepper's for the advanced listener."

Previously re-released in 1995 on German record label, Little Wing of Refugees, as a 4 10" limited edition vinyl set in a metal film canister accompanied by a 30 page booklet of lyrics, credits, photos and anecdotes, the new Vintage re-release will be the first time this music is officially made available on Compact Disc. Stay tuned for this long awaited re-release later in 2009."
www.rockadrome.com"

As far as the "cult" status of Okinawa, how does this happen with any record? I would proffer that things seemed to pick up a bit in the late 70s when the late Greg Shaw listed us as one of the "Top 10 of Acid Punk" in Issue #19 of Who Put The Bomp (January 1978):

1. The Soft Boys

2. Debris

3. Pere Ubu

4. The Residents

5. Devo

6. Human Switchboard

7. Chrome

8. OHO (here's the text: "Here's a real mind scorcher. These guys, who seem to be an artistic collective of some sort, based in Towson, MD, have put together an album, single, and various tapes and written literature demonstrating their own demented aesthetic. Musically they're more progressive than psychedelic (I hear a bit of Zappa in their sound) but dig this stuff from their lyric book (from 'Manic Detective'): 'I built a canoe/I built it just for you/I saw your Oho/I saw my life dripping on the sidwalk.' And: 'My ashtray is in tune but my neighborhood is louder than my tape.' Not to mention: 'I'm crawling to the edge of a grapefruit', 'It's windy in tonight' , and (wait for it!) 'Kill milk.'* An hour of this and you'll be carried away to the tangerine jungle of marshmallow madness..."

9. Psychotic Pineapple

10. Throbbing Gristle

*We did not know who (San Francisco city organizer) Harvey Milk was in 1974. This was about stabbing or shooting or strangling a carton of milk or even, I'm guessing now, a puddle of spilt milk (the liquid, calcium-rich beverage).

In '79 we were included on a Bomp Records compilation LP, Waves Vol II, that featured a Paul Rieger-engineered Teac 4 track recorded-in-the-basement version of "Here Comes the Oysters" (the Sheffield Studio version of which was in 1998 included on the Refugees (German record label) Ecce OHO CD (LW 3053 EXP). & from there it was up, up and away (kind of like the how the Wright brothers were "up, up & away" in 1903 at Kitty Hawk--not very high & not very far but a watershed event nonetheless).

(from another email to Steve sent 01.15.10):

"What can I tell you about the cult-fave status of this record?"

Steve,

Been thinking more about this question and, in my 60th year, sometimes it takes a while for the memories to catch up and make any contextual connection to my brain.

Remember in my last email conveying the "Music Liberated" story when the merchant refused to sell me all those Okinawa LP's? It is plausible to infer that accidents like this actually contributed in to our record achieving "cult fave" status in the ensuing years.

Why wouldn't he sell me the records? After all they were for sale for $2.98. I would posit that my unusual request to purchase the lot suggested to him that these records may actually be worth something. After all isn't retail all about "demand"?

So in the usual ridiculous OHO fashion, here are the very musicians who paid to record and have the record manufactured having offered TO BUY BACK the VERY records they paid for in the 1st place. Talk about an incestuous business relationship. What a novel way to get a "buzz" going. Wasn't Brian Epstein accused of buying all those Beatle (w/Tony Sheridan) "My Bonnie" 45's back in the early 60's in Liverpool?

After the punk revolution the mail order vinyl market opened up, especially for independents like us. I mean, from 1974-78 there was really very little we could do to promote the LP without the help of a real record label. Coincidentally, stores like Music Liberated and Music Machine (in Reisterstown) also started healthy mail-order divisions and advertising in magazines like Trouser Press, Bomp! & all the other fanzines popping up all around the world were proliferating this trend.

Therefore, perhaps our pilfered albums ended up being sold via mail order to a fan here or to another person willing to take a chance on an unknown band, there. In effect, these mail order outlets were promoting our music while making a modest (100%) profit, a small price to pay, I guess.

Simultaneously I was offering for sale the remaining Okinawa stock I had (I think it may have been one box containing 25 lp's) & our vinyl 45s (OHO’s “Seldom Bought,” Trixy & The Testones as well as the 2 Dark Side ep's: Wholesale Diamonds and Damaged Goods), placing 1/4 and 1/2 page ads in both of the aforementioned magazines AND taking out more cost-effective "classified" ads in same until they ceased to exist, sometime around the early 80's.

Routing through an unorganized box of archived papers I found the carbon copy of an order to TP that read: "Please run the following classified in the next 4 issues of the Trouser Press. Enclosed is a check and the ad should be worded as follows: (under tapes)--BRAINWASHED? OHO's "acid punk" de-programs! 3 different LP's on cassettes: $10 each, $5-sampler, $25-set. Send to..."

Whenever anyone ordered any of our vinyl I would enclose a product list of our cassettes in the package. I sold a handful of records this way and even fewer tapes. I remember feeling somewhat a failure as a mail-order music proprietor, taking the legal amount of losses as long as I could on my tax returns; and upon the expiration of that period I had to admit to myself that this enterprise was merely "a hobby". But there is some comfort in that, especially after being advised from an Englishman that outside the USA the word "hobby" has a less diminishing connotation than in other cultures where hobbies are fields of endeavour that reflect a person's TRUE passion, one's employment situation being often of necessity income based, suggesting the very opposite.

This "failure" resulted in an interesting eventuality circa 1990 when Rene and Gerlinde Dzaack, the owners of the Bavarian cottage industry record label, Little Wing of Refugees, took a month long holiday, driving across the continental USA to see our country. Their American distributor, a young man who worked out of a town house in Towson, put the Dzaacks up for a night or so prior to their flight back to Bavaria and played one of the above mentioned OHO tapes for Rene, who went nuts for it; and the rest is some minor history. A year or so later OHO's 2nd LP, Vitamin OHO, was released on vinyl on that German label, sporadically sponsoring a 1/4 page ad in Goldmine magazine. In '95 came the Okinawa reissue and in '98, the Ecce OHO CD. Then they went out of business. I remember asking Rene who he expected would buy these records.

Back to 1978 when two individuals, Rolf Niemier in Germany and Fabio Nosotti in Italy, both became big fans of our work. I am still in contact with Rolf. Rolf was motivated to write a FEATURE story on OHO for UK magazine, Bucketful of Brains (No.3) in 1981 that led to another story (about Dark Side) in another UK mag, Comstock Lode No.9 (Autumn 81); as also did Fabio for 2 Italian magazines: Rockerilla in 1980 and l'ultima Buscadero in '81.

The late British DJ, John Peel even mentioned OHO once on his famous BBC radio show (a European fan actually sent me a cassette with his blurb on it). And from Baltimore magazine (March 1981): "Punk rock, too, 'flourished in Baltimore long before the Sex Pistols came along,' recalls (John) Waters, thinking perhaps of such local bands as OHO and Poobah, which were playing before 1975." So it seems we were often "name-dropped" & present in the test & subtext of Baltimore related art/music journalism.

From 1984, when at the behest of Clean Cuts Records, we changed our name from Food for Worms back to OHO, we were then always able to refer to our history as prequel to what was happening currently. That is, every time their would be a piece about OHO, especially during 1988-1990, we would always preface it with our legacy steeped, as it was/is, in a certain tradition. And this kept our story alive and somewhat relevant. It was useful in both keeping our past recordings of interest and in piquing the curiosity of those interested to hear and investigate what we were currently involved in, just because we were OHO.

Hope that speaks somewhat as to the "cult fave" status of this record.

FYI: Derek Shulman (who was the lead singer for Gentle Giant) signed the band, Bon Jovi to Polygram in the early 80's. He also passed on the Audition version of OHO in 1989.

Anything else? Thanks!

-Jay

From Steve's reply to my replies:

Hey.
Thanks for getting back to me so fast. Something has come up to mess up my show plans schedule wise and so the Okinawa show MAY be postponed til 2/23. Never fear the show WILL go on one way or another before feb is out. Just check the website playlist for a show date that I will revise once I get stuff sorted out here. Did you hear the show today? You were very well represented-- see the playlist. Steve

To: soundthing
Date: Saturday, January 16, 2010, 10:22 AM

While Dennis Bergeron, who runs the Rockadrome/Vintage labels out of Austin TX, had only heard about the '95 Little Wing 4 10" tin-boxed set, he had the original '74 LP in his collection and that record is what motivated him to offer its re-release on CD. When he found out there were another 15 tracks, he seemed to become even more interested. Again, due to the inevitable setbacks, this has not happened to date.

-Jay

Jay,
The last 2 missives have been very interesting and will be useful in telling the story as I play the piece. I am shying away from an interview format during this presentation for 2 reasons.
#1 I don't feel all that competent as as interviewer. I have done it on 3 occasions to date and was not especially pleased with my performance in that role.
#2 The running time of the piece and the 2 additional cuts along with all the other house keeping stuff I have to do in the course of a show should eat up the 2 hours allotted. Should I have any time left over I will be prepared to play a bit of Grace Hearn era OHO. My plan is to use what you have sent me as the basis for a script of sorts which I will use in between sets of 3 or 4 songs to educate the listener as to the history of the music and the aesthetic approach it represents.
Second Tues. in Feb. will be show time. Sorry to bump you but something has come along with a sort of serendipitous timing that I can't pass up and I feel I must do THAT as my show on 1/23 and then I will be out of town on 2/9 with a sub filling in.
Steve

From: jay graboski
Subject: Even more on Okinawa
To: soundthing

Date: Tuesday, January 26, 2010, 10:21 AM

Steve,

I remember the 1st half of 1974 as being a fairly magical time all the way 'round; that is until my unemployment checks ran out on 05.31.74 and I accepted a job with SSA that I retired from 31 years and 4 months later. But I digress & memory has a funny way of bending things around so as to make them appear more positive.

As soon as we had 1/4" stereo 7" reel-to-reel tapes of Okinawa I began to both send them out and play them for people. We were VERY excited about the record. Having a lot of spare time on my hands that winter/spring I spent a number of afternoons at the Record & Tape Collector (record store) located at 511 1/2 York Rd. in Towson (just across from the Recher Theater, then the Towson Movie Theater) and I would bring my reel-to-reel tape recorder, tap into the store's sound system and play Okinawa.

The staff was pretty cool as I remember, one or two of them on the cutting edge of what was new, having the skinny on the latest domestic and import progressive releases. This was a real musical education for me and I was even hired as a part-time sales clerk a year and a half later for the 1975 holiday season. & it didn't hurt that some of these guys were likely dedicated spleef smokers. So they would let me play these tapes in store during the early afternoon lulls and we'd try this stuff out on unsuspecting browsers and, of course, the more hard-core and adventurous music aficionados were seeking out employee recommendations.

I don't remember how many times we played Okinawa in store but I know it was at least "a few." Local record distributors were always popping in with promos of their respective label's new releases, taking orders: and there in the front of the store was my "paused" reel-to-reel, set up on an extension of the sales counter, at the ready to respond to an appropriate opportunity to audition our album.

One Eugene Horn, who was a distributor for A&M Records (among others labels), was a colorfully enormous fellow who really flipped for OHO. At the time the most progressive act on the A&M roster was Strawbs, so Eugene thought we might be able to schmooze distributors at the regional level, guys who had closer ties with the decision makers at the label itself, into working on the band's behalf.

And so we were introduced to Johnny Powell who sometimes provided us with complimentary tickets whenever any artists from the A&M stable were playing in town (e.g. Henry Gross & Humble Pie).

It was also around this time that we played our 1st concert at the Steel Workers Hall in Dundalk, a disaster by any estimation. Larry Bright, OHO's first drummer who later went on to a semi-distinguished career in fusion/jazz (even producing drum instruction videos), wore an early version of what are now termed "noise cancellation headphones" (actually more like what jackhammer operators use to spare their auditory nerves any damage from the noise) so there was only minimal visual on-stage communication (grimaces and despairing looks?).

We had perhaps overestimated our performing abilities, were not very well-rehearsed and a handful of pathetic stage pyrotechnics puttered into minuscule puffs of smoke, not much more than a match being blown out. In retrospect it was fairly hilarious, though it didn't seem so at that time. We did, however, have a real Mellotron on stage, a painted face or two, our music and some unusual costumes. Still, a very disheartening debut.

& we soon killed our relationship with A&M in spring 1974 after being invited to a post Henry Gross show party in the Village of Cross Keys where we arrived at the party venue much sooner than the honored guests and all havoc broke out. There were rumours of deflated car tires, servers being strangled with the telephone wires connected to phones that had somehow landed in the rest room commode, and our entourage devoured more than one plate of hors de oeuvres before the "real" guests materialized.

While I didn't participate actively in the shenanigans, standing helplessly on the sideline, it was guilt by association ("the passive observer is as entangled as the active participant") and I did receive an enthusiasm-crushing call from Johnny Powell the next day saying that we were finished in this town....which ended up pretty much being prophetic.

Oh...there was one more chance with Capitol Records a year later; but here is another legendary tale of an OHO-ite pushing one of the A&R persons into the pool at a Sheffield Recording sponsored barbecue. I guess you're supposed to wait AFTER you're signed to engage in such activities. So being contracted to a major label was obviously not in our cards and our behavior kind of declared that we didn't want to be signed anyway, rebels that we imaghined we were.

Upon our independent release of the LP in July '74, there was some initial enthusiasm that soon waned into nothingness. The only review we were able to urge was from The Baltimore News-American in its "Young World" section dtd 07/14/74. It reads:

"OHO is a local group that combines the theater-rock and dialog format of Genesis with the crazed-rock style of Frank Zappa or Capt. Beefheart.

The guys recorded an LP at Flite Three entitled Okinawa, and they mailed me a tape copy of their songs. I don't think they have the studio experience required to impress today's sophisticated listeners, but they show promise and proficiency in their playing and writing. Songs such as 'Duva,' 'The Plague,' 'Ain't Life Dumb?,' 'A Frog for You,' 'Brown Algae Is Attractive,' and 'Frankfurter Vendor' display the group's aggressive approach to singing, arranging, and performing. There are some nifty sax and keyboard solos peppering the better tracks."

But we picked ourselves up, and practiced, eventually becoming proficient and more consistent with the quality of our live performances, spending the next 3 years seriously working, writing and recording what materialized as two more studio albums: Vitamin OHO and Dream of the Ridiculous Band. In Spring 1977 with 3 of our 5 members jobless, one without an instrument, and relegated to irrelevance by the advent of disco, we disbanded. A few months later we started Dark Side.

OK, I think that's about everything I can remember. You should have enough in between track banter to last you the entire program now.

-Jay

OHO and out

 

"'Here Come the Oysters' by Oho is a feverish dream of a madman/genius. The song maneuvers, folds and turns on itself exactly where it should. It's my favorite cut simply because it does something music rarely does anymore: it fascinates me." -Tom Kidd (On Record, Music Connection Vol. 4 Number 14, July 10-23, 1980)

"Okay, you win. Try as I may, I just can't seem to find anything to criticize about (Dark Side's) 'In the Dark'. It's great and I'd like to use it. Rather than a single, I think it belongs on the Voxx compilation album. I'm enclosing a contract, pretty much the same thing you signed for Waves. (Did you see the review where the OHO cut was picked as the best on the album?!) Return it with the master tape, and we're in business. Best of luck with the various projects you're doing. I'm looking forward to the Dark Side album. I do want us to carry it. Best wishes, Greg Shaw" (08.18.80)

"I really like the Dark Side stuff. It has a good grasp of updated '60s ideas and the cheesy recording quality is just right! Enclosed is your latest royalty statement...Hardly enough to buy a solid gold Cadillac. Best wishes, Greg Shaw P.S. Thanks for the various Worms tapes. Not as immediately up my alley as the Dark Side stuff, but interesting all the same. Will let you know if I can do anything. Meanwhile we'll continue to carry any records you put out naturally." (12.12.81)

"We're all in this first for love of music, just like you, and we try to do our best under difficult conditions. We're not always perfect but any mistakes we make are honest ones and I hope you appreciate that. Best regards, Greg Shaw" (12.28.81)

Recently received this encouraging news from Rockadrome/Vintage concerning the delayed release of OHO's Okinawa on compact disc:

"Jay,

At long last, OHO release is on the verge! I won’t meet the release date (05.25.10) I have set on my site, but the release date with my main distro isn't until middle of next month, I think. In any case my CD manufacturer has a 10 day turnaround. So, I’m ready to knock this thing out finally!! It’s looking like a 6-panel digi-pak with booklet insert at this point. This should be one nice package when it’s all done.

Thanks,

Dennis (04.14.10)"

Looks like this is really going to happen (and soon) as Okinawa can be pre-ordered for $16.95 at www.Amazon.com (add another $8.05 worth of merchandise to your order to take advantage of free, "super-saver" shipping). Seems like a fair asking price for 75 minutes of carefully remastered, classic proto-punk/prog/wave/"kitchen sink" music housed in a 6 panel digipak finished in a clear, high-gloss sheen with extensive liner notes, period photos and a 20-page ecologically friendly booklet printed on recycled paper that purportedly faithfully pledges allegiance to both Jon Considine's 1974 original while incorporating the Refugees addenda from their 1995 28-page update. We urge anyone with an interest in vintage OHO music to pre-order this disc. THINK PINK!

The Best of Baltimore's Buried Bands II has "sold out" at www.DGMlive.com. There are still copies (mostly "like new" and "used") available from mail order outlets scattered around the country who list the set at www.amazon.com. Our campaign to promote a certain musical POV of Baltimore's progressive "underground" scene has been a modest success, meaning that all the CD's have been disseminated; & it only took 7 years this time.

& from www.planetmellotron.com this surprising bit of news: "It seems that 1976's 'legendary unreleased' album, Dream of the Ridiculous Band, has finally appeared officially, on Gott Discs." "Officially"? That could be argued. Go to our "Vault" and click on Dream of the Ridiculous Band to behold the unapproved cover (?). "And not before time, Musketeers" it appears 70s OHO have arrived at a long-awaited milestone, our music finally in some demand and deemed valuable enough to be "bootlegged."

I am, however, finding it difficult to locate a copy. The results of a cursory web search have so far been fruitless, suggesting this may be a hoax. I have our contacts in the UK and in Germany on the case. News at 11:00 PM. I'd be happy to even purchase one as that method of procurement seems to be de rigueur when it comes to wrangling a copy from those unprincipled enough to filch the music, then release it without consultation or permission from those who have been entrusted with the master tapes. And what was used as a source, the mp3's from our vault? What next? Still, secretly this is viewed as a fortuitous omen.

On the other hand, we have publicly advocated "unauthorized duplication" (of OUR available material ONLY) ever since the Little Hans Progression give-away (issue #32, Summer/Fall 1999) & by urging downloading from our "Vault"; and I am repeatedly reminded that "music is now free." So one must weigh the possible outcomes of withholding the music from release ("nothing" happening) versus making it freely available ("something" happening). We remain ambivalent as to how we feel about this eventuality, but with a strong leaning toward getting the music into the universe anyway we can.

(Continuing to fulfill our commitment to address the KZMU/SHO OHO questions from the 08/25/09 radio interview sequentially, we answer the query following the airing of OHO's "Long to be Latin," a favorite of DJ and former OHO sound man, Steve Goodwin, who hosted the show.)

10. "Long To Be Latin" (5:05)--1989/2009

(Jay Graboski, Gyro, Mark O'Connor and Steve Heck)

(unreleased 2009 edit featuring the final verse & chorus sung in Spanish)

Artist: OHO

Release dates: 1989 (Audition), 1990 (OHO), 2003 (UP), 2004 (The Oriency Anthology)

Label info: 1989 (OHO CD-1), 2003 (OM52), 2004 (OM54)--OHO Music, 1990--SKY Records (7-20004-1)

Question: Relate the story of how OHO's "Out of Thin Air" resulted in your being signed by SKY Records.

This was the 2nd time in the same decade (the first instance in '82, the latter in '89) that one song made THE difference for us in as far as being key in the release of another critically acclaimed album and keeping things alive for a few more years, projecting the OHO legacy into the then near future.

Whereas Food for Worms' "It Needs a Haircut" closed out the 98 Rock Album, in a sort of "the last shall be first" kind of way "Thin Air" was chosen by the decision makers at WAMA as the opening track on the W.A.M.A. CD III (Washington Area Music Association); and from there the band was knocked over by a second outpouring blast of good (?) luck from the cornucopia of the benevolent and constantly available presence of music and her related agents.

The CD found its way into the “goodie” promotional gift bags at a NYC music industry convention where a rep from independent label Sky Records (Norcross, GA) heard the song. The label liked what they heard and rang us up.

When SKY Records A&R director, Abbe Myers, saw we had a ready-to-market CD (OHO's 1989 self-released, self-funded CD, Audition--partially paid for by the contributions of fans and family pledged at a fund raiser held in August 1989), she and promotions director, Jim Parker. flew to Baltimore to catch OHO’s October 20, 1989 performance at The Grog and Tankard where afterward they offered us their promotional services (for hire). We passed due the prohibitive expense.

Sky Records upgraded their offer a few days later, presenting OHO with a contract and their standard concomitant $8000 advance, kind of like an early 80’s minor league baseball contract. We went back and forth over the contract language with our attorney, E. Scott Johnson, Esq (Scott also played keyboards on OHO's "Angels"). After much procrastination, walking circles around the table where lay the unsigned papers, we contracted with Sky.

We attributed our signing directly to the initial exposure garnered from release of The WAMA DCCD. Steve Carr commented at the time, “It was the best investment our band ever made for promotion. What impressed me most was the speed with which the CD generated results for OHO. Within two months of its release, OHO was signed.”

A watershed event for OHO occurred when the Washington Area Music Association nominated the band for 5 Wammie Awards. OHO was nominated for "artist of the year" and "best new artist." Our CD was nominated for "best recording" (rock/pop). “Out of Thin Air” was nominated for "best song" and Grace Hearn was nominated for "best female vocalist" (rock/pop).

OHO was invited to play at the WAMA awards show and performed a rocking and spirited “Out of Thin Air” during the ceremony held in the Washington, DC Hyatt Regency ballroom on June 10, 1990. (This performance, filmed with one camera by Ken Birnie, is included in the DVD program that is part of OHO's Bricolage CD/DVD package, available at www.CDBaby.com available securely there and at a more-than-reasonable price.)

(Read the entire 2003 draft of the 9 page article about 1985-2002 OHO III ("The Female Dynamic") that appeared in Progression magazine Issue #45 (Winter/Spring 2004) at www.ohomusic.com/ohomachIII.html or by clicking on the UP album cover image on the home page of this web site.)

Found this at www.mutant-sounds.blogspot.com about Ecce OHO! using the BING search engine:

"Following Jim's post of this Baltimore outfit's truly batty and Zappa damaged basement prog debut Okinawa (and preceding my soon-to-come post of the expanded 4 x 10" box set reissue of that album), here's a briefly issued odds-n-sods archival collection released on the same label as said box i.e. Little Wing Of Refugees. Musically, Ecce Oho! lands somewhere between British proggers Morgan circa Nova Solis and The Hampton Grease Band, though it's neither as pomp bombastic as the former nor as eccentrically advanced as the latter and neither, to be honest, is it close to being as formidable a beast as either Okinawa or its follow up, Vitamin Oho (featured on the Orion Awakes blog Here alongside the single album version of Okinawa which is confusingly presented with a picture of the box set re-edition). Ecce Oho! does, however, have a handful of highly choice cuts that are well worth rolling around on your cilia, particularly the Magic Band meets Grease Band brain scramble of "Here Come(s) The Oyster" and the well fried "Cragwheel", a ripsnorting down 'n' dirty live take on "The Continuing Story Of Cragwheel The Corpse" from Okinawa."

This month's reading: Swann's Way by Marcel Proust. In his How to Read and Why, author Harold Bloom wrote, "Proustian memory finally seems a mode of right action that cures the narrator, and the reader, of 'dark inertia,'...the sickness unto death. Our despair requires consolation, and the medicine of a profound narration. All of Proust's characters are essentially comic geniuses; as such they give us the option of believing that the truth is as funny as it is grim."

I recall taking an English course on early 20th century novels at TSU in 1970 or '71 where the semester's reading list included the above from Proust's Remembrance of Things Past along with Joyce's Ulysses AND Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain among others. These are fairly hefty (i.e. a lot of pages and long sentences) and as I was working full time from 2:00-10:00 PM at Topps department store (a sort of antediluvian Walmart) as a stock person, I really wasn't afforded the luxury of having the time required to read them all; but I was able to complete The Magic Mountain, a treat I have subsequently revisited. Fortunately, one had only to pick a few from that list and Swann's Way got sideline for about 40 years. Well, it's time has come and it seems a fascinating if challenging read. Hope this prepares for what's next: Ulysses?

OHO and out.

April 2010

"Billboard's Recommended LP's (pop): OHO--Rocktronics, Clean Cuts CC 5001. Producers: Ty Ford, Jack Heyrman (EP). Mid-Atlantic quintet offers art rock with updated synthesizer accents. Seven tracks are given laudable production polish." (Billboard, July 7, 1984)

"Working with OHO through the Rocktronics project was one of those quantum leaps in my engineer/producer experience. I don't remember how they found me, but I've always been involved with local music. That was back in my days of working for radio stations. I was the in-house producer for 98 Rock; producing the station's compilations of local music. We had a good relationship with Sheffield Studios in Phoenix , MD. Sheffield's Chief Engineer, Bill Mueller, who engineered half of Rocktronics, taught a recording engineering course that later evolved into the full blown school that Sheffield has become. I had taken that first course to add to the broadcast engineering I already knew. We were a very good match then and we continue to keep in touch today.

OHO was very potent then; good ideas and a powerful performing ability. They were edgy and about as non-pop as you could be. So much so that after we finished the cuts for side one (yes, this was long ago enough that we were releasing on vinyl) I said I thought we needed some songs that were more consonant, prettier, maybe a ballad. Gyro and Mark came in with "Where Are We Now". Jay Graboski came in with "Diane" (lyrics co-written with co-producer, Jack Heyrman) and Gyro crooned them, but still with that quirky edge. Side two became side one because I thought those songs were more accessible. I guess they agreed.

Rocktronics is a two-headed beastie for another reason. The first side we recorded at Sheffield in Phoenix , MD. Because everyone in OHO had been at it for some time, we didn't waste a lot of time tracking. Regardless, the money added up and before we went on to side two, they had found Steve Carr, who eventually became the bass player for the group. I recall being apprehensive about recording in a basement studio with someone I didn't know. I think I said, "OK, let's try one song. If it sucks, we need to find another solution." While it lacked the space, microphone choice and SSL console, Steve's ability to get the most out of what he had filled in the gaps and I was satisfied, so we finished recording at Steve's studio, Hit & Run, near Gaithersburg . That was in 1984 and I think the time away from home contributed to my divorce. My ex-wife ended up in Boise married to a guy who sells commercial real estate. I'm still in Baltimore . Bette, my current wife, is the best!" -Ty Ford (02.17.10) (More about Ty, his interests and services at www.TyFord.com)

03.05.10--David & Jay at The Bratt studio arranging wav files of "2 Are the 1" (an original composed by David) & breaking out the Roland VG-99 for a variety of digitally modeled guitar tones. 4 hours later we walk to our vehicles with the latest mix in hand. On the way.

03.30.10--Guitar Craft, as we knew it, ends (?), reaches completion (?), finishes (?).

From the "one's man trash is another man's treasure" category: while speaking to SSA co-worker Roy F. on a 2nd floor hallway of the Security West low rise building in Woodlawn, MD sometime during the beginning years of the last decade, something vaguely familiar caught my eye, half-buried in a pile of detritus located in a wheeled canvas trash cart.

Our agency (SSA) would periodically encourage employees to clear out their accumulated, unnecessary and insensitive "trash" by conveniently placing these bins in nearby corridors. This was before the agency went "paperless" and periodically this impedimenta became cloying.

Roy often spoke of the itemized groceries he planned to pick up on his way home after his shift and, as interesting as this was, my eyes (and attention) soon began to wander, peering over his shoulder into one of these bins where the sheen of shrink-wrap had reflected in a gleam one of that hallway's fluorescent lights. I spontaneously reached behind him (my aim was true) & grabbed the thin 12"x12" square object, gingerly pulling it out of the stack of heavy papers where it was pinned. Voila, I held an intact, un-opened, mint copy of OHO's 1984 vinyl EP Rocktronics in my hands (the original title suggested was Nu-Rocktronics but this was whittled down by the producers to just Rocktronics). A fortuitous event, I clearly remember experiencing that rare "Eureka!" sensation as, at that time, I didn't have a copy in the archives.

It took me many years to understand that only a few of my SSA co-workers had any interest in our musical endeavors and apparently here was an instance where someone had either been gifted the record OR was one of the generous people who agreed to participate in one of my more adventurous experimental promotional schemes.

Soon after the record's initial release and local distribution I would taxi a different person each day during the lunch break to the nearby Woodlawn, MD Record & Tape Collectors store, drop him/her off (while I waited outside with the engine running) to ask the sales clerk to fetch that customer a copy of our new record. S/he would buy it and we were able to create the fleeting illusion that this title was a popular one.

This tactic actually worked for a while as when I would saunter into the store at the end of the month the store manager would boast of how OHO's Rocktronics EP had outsold virtually every other major release for the month of August 1984 at this specific outlet. Who knows what kind of swell might have occurred had the remaining band members done likewise in their respective neighborhoods/territories?

Soon the pool of prospective buyers evaporated and business returned to the norm. It was likely that I gave some of these records away and perhaps to people who, while politely feigning interest to my face but having no intention of ever listening to the record, forgot about it after perhaps shoving it in the bottom of one of their desk drawers where 18 years later s/he ran across it during this "clear-out," and then tossed it into this very dumpster, subsequently homing its way back into my possession. This speculation is just another bittersweet "boomerang" experience, one of a familiar variety as regards the circuitous routes that some of our musical product journeyed over the years.

(We've to date addressed half, 8 of 16, of the KZMU/SHO OHO questions from the 08/25/09 radio interview sequentially. This month we're on to question #9, this query following the airing of "Is That What You Said?" from OHO's 1984 EP, Rocktronics):

9. "Is That What You Said?" (4:28)--1984

(from Rocktronics, a 12" 7-song vinyl EP)

(David Reeve, Gyro & Jay Graboski)

Artist: OHO

Release date: June 1984

Label info: Clean Cuts Records (CC 5001)

Question: Please speak to how the Food For Worms song, "It Needs a Haircut" led to the band being signed by Baltimore-based Clean Cuts Records. Wasn't "Haircut" featured on a 98 Rock (local FM radio station WIYY) compilation LP as a result of that station's "Basement Tapes" competition?

David was THE MAN during this epoch of the band in many different ways. & I would declare that, were it not for his songwriting and insistence that we make a video, the Rocktronics EP would likely NOT have ever materialized. This is one of the many reasons why we chose "Is That What You Said?" to represent OHO Mach II in this KZMU-FM program, as a tribute to his incessant work on behalf of the band/music. It is also probably my favorite song on the record with it's snappily paced, positive and jangly sounding vibe. Gyro wrote the lyric and I did contribute a bit of music to the middle instrumental section but overall this is David's "baby" and attests to his significant song-writing talent. "Is That What You Said?" ends side one of this EP with a winning groove.

This version of OHO was really the Food for Worms band of 1983 agreeing (one member reluctantly) to a name change at the producers' behest and to cooperate with them from start to finish for perhaps the first time ever to this extent in our history.

Mid-80's OHO lasted for just a few months from Spring until the Fall of 1984 when the bassist and keyboard player left the band--Gyro, David & I joined with keyboardist Scott Dallas and added another guitarist/vocalist in the person of Michael Barth, but this abortive arrangement did not last, with rehearsals ending 6 months later in early 1985.

We were always angling for ways to attract outside help. This sometimes involved the relinquishing of some control over the content. Recording songs and releasing independent product is a very expensive enterprise and, aside from a couple of notable exceptions (this being one, another when OHO was signed in 1990 to Sky Records--receiving an $8000 advance) often results in a financially losing proposition, no matter how positively the music is received. Scanning the horizon for random opportunities to fly by, the former (of the aforementioned) occurred in 1982 when we answered a solicitation by local FM radio station 98 Rock for local bands to submit material for consideration for an upcoming, station sponsored, compilation LP of local artists, The 98 Rock Album.

"It Needs a Haircut," built around a catchy David Reeve instrumental hook/riff and based on a true story overheard by another band member about a corpse that required the attention of a hair stylist, was our contribution to this LP. "Haircut" made the final cut as the closer for the album's music program and every song received a substantial amount of airplay on 98 Rock, WIYY-FM, and for a significant period of time.

The record therefore also subsequently received extensive local promotion from the station and the concomitant distribution. There was an elaborate release party held for all the involved bands at the old Hammerjacks club in south Baltimore where I remember having a great time, cavorting and tossing back a few (there was an "open" bar) with our peers in the then local music scene.

All this was during the MTV "music video" heyday and David insisted that our band invest in making a video. Bratt Studio engineer, Bill Pratt, had received some national exposure on that cable network with a video by his band at the time, The Gents. Finalists in the MTV "Basement Tape" competition, the Gents were bold enough to have had their ambitious video shot on film stock with its classy "look", easily making it to the last round of the competition.

We hired a video producer, picked a tune ("Haircut" of course--it was under 3 minutes--less filming and editing time/expense), created a storyboard and rented some costumes and cheap props. The most expensive prop we purchased for $80 from an undertaker who had converted a coffin-like cadaver transporter into a more convincing coffin substitute by staining it and affixing budget line casket handles. (We eventually gave this to Trixy & The Testones guitarist, Kraig Krixer, who somewhat coveted it and upon delivery to his home put it to practical use for towel and linen storage.) The whole enterprise came to just over a grand in costs, but the response rewarded our investment in spades.

Always on the lookout for (especially local) music industry-related types who might help us, I had recently read a piece about Clean Cuts Records in the Sunday Sunpaper's Parade (?) magazine and was determined that we finagle a meeting. We found the label contact info, made an appointment to talk to Mr. Jack Heyrman and armed with a VHS of our video and the 98 Rock LP we made our presentation.

The details of our meeting are now foggy but I have listened to and have held the actual record in my hands. So we must assume success. It was kind of a "we'll meet you 1/2 way" deal as I remember we paid (or partially paid) for the recording sessions (engineered by Bill Mueller) at Sheffield Studios, having in 1978 relocated from Timonium (where OHO recorded both Vitamin OHO, Dream of the Ridiculous Band, the studio cuts one finds on Ecce OHO & Dark Side's Wholesale Diamonds EP) to the Jarrettsville MD area, where under the direction of Ty Ford (who was entrusted by WIYY with the supervision of recording/collating all the songs that were included on the 98 Rock compilation LP) we re-recorded "It Needs a Haircut," this time with Gyro singing the lead (our demo featured the vocals of the keyboard player--this version can be found on The Ultimate Diet, the Food for Worms anthology).

So at this point of convergence (the music, the band, the video, the comp LP, the airplay, the producers, the record company, et al) the project was already underway: a perfect storm. I remember the producers being present at many of our Woodlawn rehearsals (there was the quaffing of beverage and the occasional barbecue) sharing their obvious enthusiasm for the project with the band. The pair were very much "hands on" in the process of making this record.

We recorded side two at Sheffield ("Infomania," "Detached," "Still Life" and "Haircut") then switched to Steve Carr's Hit & Run Recording in Rockville, MD where we recorded the songs featured on side one of the EP: "Where Are We Now?" "Diane" and "Is That What You Said?". We wrapped these recordings up in the Fall of 1983 and I remember we had a TV in the vocal booth so we could follow the Baltimore Orioles progress as they pummeled Philadelphia in the last baseball World Series our home team has won or played in since.

Also of some significance was the re-introduction of female backing singers, their first appearance since Patsy Shock harmonized with me in 1975 on "Maiden Voyage"

(Ecce OHO). Karen Parr (who still does session work for Bill Pratt) & Tracy Tiernan (daughter of the late Tim Buckley's sometime keyboardist, Mark Tiernan) were enlisted to pad and/or answer Gyro's lead vocalizing and can be heard on at least 5 of the EP's 7 tracks...nice touch.

From Peter Gabriel's Scratch My Back liner notes: "I have always believed that artists are a lot more creative if you tell them what they can't do. It's...fun to explore ways of getting around the rules." While we were not actually told what to do per se & there were no specifically articulated "rules" as I remember, the underlying intent was for our team to make a "commercial" record that remained true to the band's intrinsic nature/sound.

Decisions were made more or less "by committee" with the producers gently steering us creatively and having final approval. We softened the signature, direct, biting and acerbic wit our projects were usually known for in favor of a more subtle irony (e.g. "Still Life" & "It Needs a Haircut") and adopted a "middle way" approach that was still humorous and engaging. (The name change issue and departure of one of our key players was touched upon in the "What's Up?" diary entry for April 2009 should anyone care to revisit this.)

This record was based on compromise and cooperation as with any successful "team" approach. I think together we made a very good sounding record (one we would have unlikely made on our own) and OHO definitely benefited by agreeing to work with the experienced Ty Ford & Clean Cuts Records with its established promotional network, financial reserves and the savvy expertise of label owner, Jack Heyrman, who had produced a Grammy-nominated album earlier in the decade. Jack had also released a pair of acclaimed LP's by Dr. John among others. He was also no stranger to humor as is evidenced by the Clean Cuts released 12" Bruce Springstone single also recorded at Steve Carr's Hit & Run Recording a year or so prior to our arrival there.

Unlike most of our dealings with independent record labels over the years (the relatively useless legal relics of agreement filling an overstuffed folder in our archives), the Clean Cuts contract was effectuated verbally. The tunes were published by Jack's Erikanian Music (named after his daughter) and if the record sold perhaps we'd make another. This did not happen but making Rocktronics spanned a 2 year time period and we participated in everything from composing the music to licking the stamps when sending out the promo copies, one of these BTW I recently purchased on line. The cover has yellowed but the disc is in excellent condition. The lower right hand corner had been trimmed indicating it to be a promotional copy. This was confirmed when inside the sleeve I found our promo one-sheet signed by Gyro that reads:

"MAY 23, 1984

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CLEAN CUTS RECORDS IS PROUD TO ANNOUNCE THE RELEASE OF THE NEW OHO LP, ENTITLED ROCKTRONICS...

THE RELEASE OF ROCKTRONICS MARKS THE FIRST ENTRY OF CLEAN CUTS INTO THE ROCK AND ELECTRONIC MUSIC FIELDS, ASIDE FROM AN EARLIER FLIRTATION WITH THOSE MEDIUMS ON THE BRUCE SPRINGSTONE NOVELTY RECORD.

OHO'S SEVEN SONG, $6.98 LIST MINI-LP WAS PRODUCED BY TY FORD AND JACK HEYRMAN. ALL COMPOSITIONS ARE BY OHO.

OHO'S FIRST VIDEO, "IT NEEDS A HAIRCUT", IS NOW AVAILABLE FROM CLEAN CUTS, AND A SECOND VIDEO IS IN THE PLANNING STAGES.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT LORI LANDON. TOM STITLER OR JACK HEYRMAN AT CLEAN CUTS." (this specific announcement was personalized in his own cursive handwriting with this message: "Hope you like it, Gyro")

Having had some prior dealings with independent record exec, Greg Shaw, his Bomp! label/fanzine and Voxx Records in the late 70's (Waves Volume II) and early 80's respectively (Battle of the Garages), we had some experience with these types of loosely constructed business agreements. Bomp's Suzy Shaw writes on page 150 of BOMP! SAVING THE WORLD ONE RECORD AT A TIME: "As far as Greg was concerned, business was a serious inconvenience. He had very important work to do, having everything to do with the creative process and nothing to do with money. The endless forms and legal matters that piled on his desk were generally ignored, and phone calls and letters were easily dismissed."

Assuming we were among the lucky ones, I located a photocopy of a Bank of America Bomp Records, Inc. check dated 12.12.81 made out to me representing $63.80 in royalties for the 09.80, 03.81 & 09.81 business quarters. Despite rumors of many of Greg's checks bouncing we were able to cash this one. And that was about it as far as any further royalty payment from Bomp/Voxx Records.

It is notable that in 1989 our music attorney, E. Scott Johnson, Esq., when petitioning ASCAP and BMI for any unpaid royalties that may have accrued in the interim, nothing showed up. I remember Scott being a bit surprised at this as Greg's publisher was Bug Music, a fairly prestigious LA based music publishing company. What's the expression? "Fake it till you make it?" Well, we have addressed the topic of the futility of expecting to be paid from time to time in this diary, haven't we?

Still, it's difficult for me to accept that Greg "has flown from this earth" and, royalties or no royalties, the independent music world has not been quite the same since his passing in 2004. I saved all the correspondence with Greg (spanning the period 1978-1981; there was a final letter from him in 1994--that I cannot find--after I had updated him with everything that we had recorded since '81, with emphasis on the then-current Lunar Merchant live-to-digital-2-track recordings). These 15 letters, some filling up to two pages with his text (Greg was primarily a writer) on psychedelic yellow BOMP! stationary, are preserved & archived in a small binder. Greg Shaw championed "the garage" as THEE sacred space for the creation of the quality raw & independent rock/pop music that often originates there.

Jack then petitioned a famous, internationally published, music journalist to write the Rocktronics liner notes (rumor has that this cost about $125) and here they are:

"OHO? Aha! That's a name that rings bells. Baltimore's answer to Pink Floyd (never mind what the question was), an American underground rock icon, a band that came out of nowhere playing music the chroniclers swore was years ahead of its time. That was much after the fact, though, because most of the praise arrived too late to save OHO from becoming yet another counter-cultural memory. Was the band disappointed, resentful? Nobody ever said so, but it wasn't long before the force realigned itself and the band's Dark Side emerged. Once again, the lads made the right moves at the wrong time, and while their contemporaries headed out to the garage to fulfill the promise of punk, the Dark Side were but rumors in their own time, legends in their own room. Fortunately, like Luke Skywalker, the force was too strong within them for the Dark Side to remain dominant. That chapter of the band's history was soon dead and buried, mere Food for Worms, and the OHO saga remained deep underground.

"Now OHO is back, but don't expect them to simply raise the flag on Okinawa and proceed as before. This isn't resurrection but rebirth, with new songs, a new sound, a new approach. Bright and tuneful, the selections here arrive right on time, hitting the basics of contemporary pop, but adding just enough of a twist to grab your attention and hold it. Rather than go to glitz, OHO sneaks around the musical conventions that have mummified so many others, unleashing sliders where you'd expect curve balls, fast balls where you'd expect change-ups. Part of it's their sense of humor--who else would write a hi-tech hymn like "Infomania" as a synth-pop polka?--part of it their unerring humanity. Mark, Mike, Dave and Jay manage to play even the most precise rhythm vamps without coming off like the latest-generation Bowie clone.

"''Where Are We Now?' asks the record, and the answer is in the grooves in more ways than one. OHO isn't just back, but on its way out of the underground. They've been ahead of their time for too long; for OHO, the time is now, and this record offers seven good reasons why."--J.D. Considine

"The cover of the album, by the way, was done by New York transplant Andrea Schamis, a graphic artist who could not make the bash (06.16.84 LP release party at The Marble Bar) because she was up in the Big Apple discussing the terms of her book 'A Closer Look,' which is due to be published soon."--Laura Charles, The Sun, Sunday June 24, 1984. (Husband Larry Charles later went on to be a successful Hollywood producer--e.g. HBO's Entourage series.)

This was a beautiful package with that high-gloss import finish, great cover art, flattering liner notes and great music mastered carefully on quality virgin vinyl. We were all very satisfied and proud when we finally received our own copies.

OHO's EP garnered some positive record reviews. Ken Tucker, in his The Village Voice "PAZZ & JOP" Product Report (basically a numerical rating system from -10 to +10) gave Rocktronics a solid 8, his highest mark in this June 5, 1984 (0L.XXIX, NO. 17) edition, tying with Jerry Lee Lewis and beating out releases by Johnny Winter (5), Steve Perry (5), Alan Parsons Project (3), George Jones (1), Roger waters (-1), Ultravox (-4) and Joe Jackson's Body and Soul (-3).

"OHO blends in new wave sensibilities to a deftly textured backdrop. OHO has assembled an above-average package. Best stuff: "Where Are We Now?", "Diane," "Infomania," and "It Needs a Haircut." --Patrick Gilbert (Detroit Monitor, 06.28.84)

"Very snappy electronic group that does have solid chops and a good feel with dazzling hooks. Unique EP with a lot on the ball that should sell through beyond the terminally hip level and actually come to grips with popular acclaim."

--Midwest Record Recap; May, 1984 (Vol. 7, #13)

From the Baltimore City Paper (date unknown): "OHO, who came to fame with Okinawa, a record that still sounds ahead of its time, are together again on a new seven song mini-LP on Clean Cuts Records. At the record release party, Mark O'Connor (kb), Jay Graboski (guitar), Gyro (vocals), Mike Kearney (bass) and Dave Reeve (drums) will treat you to future hits like "Infomania." Laff Clinic opens with original, danceable pop. 10 pm Marble Bar, 306 W. Franklin St., 727-5336."

Laff Clinic, whose actions suggested a lack of consideration for OHO or any understanding that a release party might be for the band that's actually releasing the record, IMHO selfishly hogged the minimal sound check time that was to be equally shared, perhaps unwittingly yet ultimately tantamount to an attempt to sabotage our portion of the show. This delay when mentioned was defended by one OHO member, astonishingly and in his occasionally caustic, willful manner (i.e. presented in such a way as to pre-emptively stifle any rational or "common sense" reminder as to our aim, conveying the possible negative impact this might have on our successful preparation for the show--& WHO would further exacerbate the problem by burning up even more valuable time in argument, as the success of the whole undertaking might rest on NOT playing though two 40-minute sets in a "pissed off" emotional state?). (Did this attitude hint at the likelihood of this player's eventual departure from the band a couple of months later?)

This resulted in our having to rush, NOT having been afforded sufficient run through time for even a coarse adjustment of our rather complicated stage set up (we had a quartet of synthesizers/keyboards, a drum machine & 3 vocalists aside from the guitar, bass, drums and assorted acoustic percussion to establish & balance audio levels). Our sound had necessarily then to be tweaked by the sound engineer "on the fly" during the first songs of OHO's "white" set (all members dressed in white--diametrically opposed to our 2nd or "black" set with all members being dressed in black garb). This he did successfully and, under the circumstances, quickly.

This selfishness was typical then and I still see instances of this sort of passive aggressive nastiness currently at many local musical events where there is more than one scheduled band/performer. Most bands deliberately postpone their start times so as to have a larger audience (this usually results in the last performers having to cancel or at the least, cut their set short and often in front of NO audience--I guess that's the rationale for it being OK to wreak this type of subtle violence). Then there's this thoughtless "hogging up" of sound check time and/or the delay of the clearing off of band equipment from the stage. All of this suggests a generally unbecoming, egocentric and clueless behavior that displays a large lack of regard for the other participants & in effect, "snubs the nose" at the supposed, mutually agreed upon aims of the event. Nevertheless we somehow managed to present ourselves and our music favorably.

OHO's EP release party was held at Baltimore's The Marble Bar (venue manager Leslie Anderson even provided us with a dressing room upstairs in The Congress Hotel). It was very well attended with complimentary promo OHO and "Rocktronics" buttons being handed out (courtesy of Clean Cuts Records), a guest list of notables, stage props created by our friend and artist Connell Byrne, and all video taped by Jeffrey Albaugh (I think). Aside from an initial and lengthy obfuscating overload of "fog" from David's cleverly constructed, home-made smoke machine (basically an oil drum filled with dry ice and an exhaust fan), it went off without a hitch and all had a wonderful time.

"The album release party at The Marble Bar on June 16, 1984 was a smash. The album 'Rocktronics' was performed by the group Oho, and members of the band and friends all gathered to toast its release. On hand was producer, John Heyrman, who was, crablings, nominated for a Grammy a few years back for a Phil Woods album he produced." --Laura Charles, The Sun (06.24.84)

By Spring 1985 the carriage reverted back to being a pumpkin and reduced to a duo, David and I began yet again.

We stay in touch with Ty. Aside from agreeing to pen a pair of germane paragraphs to kick off this month's "What's Up?" diary, he graciously attended our CD release party in March '08 for Bricolage and remains active in a variety of musical endeavors, not the least of which is running his own music/video production studio.

I last spoke to Jack Heyrman (Clean Cuts continues to thrive, having successfully branched out into all sorts of related business areas) in the early to mid "aughts" when he mused of releasing a compilation CD featuring choice tunes from the entire Clean Cuts catalog/history. "Where Are We Now?" was to represent OHO on the proposed package. He was preserving his catalog at that time by baking the master tapes, converting analog tracks to digital files. Clean Cuts later generously provided us with CDR copies of the Rocktronics digital transfer & we are currently able to enjoy and share this music in perhaps its highest quality version to date. We queried him electronically to obtain permission to make these tracks available for free download in our "vault" but we have yet to acknowledge even an informal reply to our request. Erring on the side of caution (as Erikanian Music holds the publishing rights), we refrain from making them available until such time as permission would be granted.

OHO and out.

March 2010

"Humour is not permitted." (Guitar Craft aphorism)

"Want to be a composer? Just follow these simple instructions: 1) Declare your intention to create a 'composition.' 2) Start a piece at some time. 3) Cause something to happen over a period of time (it doesn't matter what happens in your 'time hole'--we have critics to tell us whether it's any good or not, so we won't worry about that part). 4) End the piece at some time (or keep it going telling the audience it is a 'work in progress'). 5) Get a part-time job so you can continue to do stuff like this." (Frank Zappa)

"A blast of light at any moment, might as well come to me as anyone else." (Annie Dillard)

02.05.10--Sue Tice visits The Bratt Studio and for about 2 & 1/2 hours lays down a number of spirited fiddle tracks rife with sweet riffage for two instrumental sections of OHO's Ahora! suite...wunderbar!

02.06-09.10--Largest recorded accumulation of snowfall in the Baltimore area in history (over 5').

02.23.10--KZMU (Moab, UT) DJ Steve Hear airs OKINAWA in its entirety. Here's hoping you were one of the lucky ones to "tune/log into/onto KZMU Community Radio at 90.1 and 106.7 FM, on line @ www.kzmu.org on Tuesday 2/23 @ 4pm Moab time and 6pm eastern time" to (steve)hear the 2009 remastered versions of 29 songs from this 1974 vintage, original, underground, classic LP, slated for re-release on the Vintage division of the Rockadrome Record label sometime in 2010.

02.25.10 (5:36 PM EST) Jay's & Joan's first grandchild is born to son Matt Graboski and his spouse, Angela. Weighing in at 8 lbs. 2 oz., Delilah Grace is long and cool--normal birth w/o any out-of-the-ordinary challenging complications. She appears to have her father's long fingers (will she be a guitarist?). Baby. Mom and Dad and everyone else in the extended families all doing well.

(Continuing to fulfill our commitment to address the KZMU/SHO OHO questions from the 08/25/09 radio interview sequentially, we answer the query following the airing of "Privilege" from the Food for Worms 2001 anthology, The Ultimate Diet)

8. "Privilege" (2:02)--1983

(Jay Graboski)

(from The Ultimate Diet 26 song CD anthology)

Artist: Food For Worms

Release date: 2001

Label info: Yodelin' Pig Records

Question: What were the philosophical and musical concepts behind Food For Worms? Wasn't the "Ultimate Diet" CD also included in an issue of Progression magazine? Please comment on this marketing strategy as far as its effectiveness on promoting your music.

Answers to both of these questions can be found in more detail elsewhere at this site. Go to http://ohomusic.com/worm_is_the_word.htm. You will arrive at the entire text that accompanied Progression Issue 38 (Winter/Spring 2001) and here you may also download select FFW songs for FREE. Besides the memories of our 1st manager, the late Jim Vensel, one may read the recollections of 4 of that band's 6 members (Gyro, David Reeve, myself and the keyboard player) as well as the how-it-was-all-recorded recollections of engineer Bill Pratt.

As far as a commentary on including "give-away" CD's in occasional issues of Progression magazine, may we suggest you begin with the more in-depth explanation of this promotional strategy by perusing our "What's Up?" entry for November 2009.

If one finds it plausible that one must spend up to $20,000 to successfully sell 1000 cds (source--The Music Connection), then why not save yourself (and this after assuming you've actually been paid between $3 and $5 for each of these 1000 discs) at least $13,000 (in promotion, postage, packaging with the balance in petulance) of that figure on each and every release. Our experience has been that this significant savings is realized by: 1) staying employed in a somewhat secure day job with benefits to facilitate a relatively comfortable retirement at say, age 55 (easier said than done nowadays I presume); and 2) through direct distribution of 5x as many cds accompanied by what might be considered by some to be an extravagant promo package courtesy of the host magazine, consisting of your (the story/facts spun in such a way so as to facilitate achievement of your purpose--by eliminating a large percentage of the embarrassing and inevitable day-to-day intra-band negativity and focusing on the positives that occurred in spite of it) self-authored (it may feature supportive and select quotes from any pertinent media) multi-page band history/bio, photos and usually an entire page dedicated to the CD liner notes and credits) to 5x as many, probably predisposed, genre-specific aficionados (including infomaniacally voracious, prog-related, promotion-producing web-sites worldwide as well as a handful of prog-friendly radio stations)? Remember, OUR aim is to GET THE MUSIC OUT INTO THE UNIVERSE ANYWAY POSSIBLE!

It was fortunate that we were able to sneak this one in as FFW was not quite progressive (also not quite "punk" and not quite "new wave" either, while incorporating elements of all three genres); and editor John Collinge while allowing it, did comment to me after the fact that FFW music was a bit too edgy for most of his readership, and to please keep this in mind for any future projects. Ultimately it was an offer he didn't refuse and to our relief the package was indeed published and distributed to the magazine's readership 18 years after we disbanded.

If not for Progression I doubt this anthology (the Little Hans Wunderkind anthology was distributed in similar fashion, accompanying Issue #32, Summer/Fall 1999 and still, BTW, on sale as a back issue at the Progression website shop) would have otherwise ever been made available. Yodelin' Pig Records lent us their logo/brand, offering the disc for sale as one of that company's mail order items and displayed it at a buyer-friendly price in the Record & Tape Traders chain of ten retail music stores in the Baltimore metropolitan area and three adjacent Maryland counties during the early "aughts".

Notwithstanding any likelihood of recoupment of our initial outlay of cash (not to mention the energy expenditure for all the unpaid "busy" work involved soliciting memories of former band members in writing, copyrighting, fact checking, remastering and preparing archived recorded and visual materials, arrangements with the CD manufacturer, magazine printer/editor et al--& I'm NOT complaining as I find this process to actually be FUN), I doubt Diet would have otherwise been funded were there not this established "delivery" system in place to guarantee our rare & mostly unreleased music be gifted to those most likely to appreciate it.

Of course the readership benefits as does the magazine, which from time to time offers these bonuses without any increase in issue price or subscription rate. We remain grateful to editor, John Collinge, that this outlet for distributing our material in accompanying issues of Progression (often featuring lengthy text, period photos and the appropriate credits) currently remains available to us as, at least for the foreseeable future, we see this method as the likely way to first release, upon its completion, the OHO Ahora! suite into the world ("look for it around 2016").

Even with the proliferation of all the music now available on the Internet (both for free and for sale), the competition for listener attention among independents is unfathomable (I'm told this is a good thing) and strategies must be invented (then continually adjusted in accord with the ever-increasing flux of the latest technological advances) that: 1) let people everywhere know what music is on offer and 2) attract and urge listeners to link to the band's site or one of the countless digital distribution addresses where you have by this time made your music readily available for downloading.

Sean McFee's July 2001 Expose (Issue #22) review of Food for Worms--"The Ultimate Diet" (Yodelin' Pig Records, 1981-84/2001, CD):

"Food for Worms was a Baltimore-area band formed out of the ashes of Oho (actually, this Phoenix arose from the ashes of Dark Side, a band that previously arose from OHO's ashes in 1977). This release compiles 26 short tracks spanning the band's output over the course of the CD. The music is economical, intelligent New Wave-ish independent rock in a song-oriented format. This is a g/k/b/d line-up where the keyboards are analog/digital and tend to be used in a supporting role. Humor abounds in this band's material, whether in the faux-doominess of 'All You Need Is Jazz' or in tracks such as 'No One Said It'd Be Easy,' which comes across as a suspiciously straight-faced pastiche of Springsteen. Much of the music is uptight and jaunty, even carefree, in contrast to the often tense and sarcastic lyrics: I sometimes think of REM with a bitter streak. Clearly the members of Oho made a smooth transition into new territory when the Good Ship Progressive sank, and the result is clever and artistically profitable. For those who like engaging and accessible music that is still entertaining and musically interesting, this is a winner."

Food for Worms (US)

Food for Worms, 'The Ultimate Diet'

The Ultimate Diet (2000, recorded 1981-84, 74.00) ***½/½

All You Need is Jazz
Cream Always Rises
Pink Dishes
Cosmo's Credo
Mr. Twister
We Represent the Symbol
First Grade
The Worm is the Word
Child's Play

Out of True
Moderately Severe
Another Still Nite
Diet of Worms
No Idea
Gloom Club
No One Said it'd Be Easy
Weather is Permanent
How I Spent My Summer Vacation

It Needs a Haircut
It Takes a Summer Job
Johnny Vette
Neil's Stick
Primal Bridal Passion
Privilege
Kiss of Death
Los Gusanos

Mellotron used:

This odd little item came free with an issue of US prog mag Progression, and turns out to be the entire collected works of the early-'80s outfit that grew out of mental Baltimore proggers OHO, with all tracks recorded between 1981-4. Fittingly, given when they were active, Food for Worms have that quirky 'new wave' sound about them, with short but action-packed songs, vocals that owe a not-so-minor debt to Talking Heads et al., and the then-fashionable Farfisa organ. Plenty of squelchy synths, jagged rhythms and general weirdness, but the only Mellotron I can hear on the whole thing is some voices on 'All You Need Is Jazz', and they sound like they've been processed in some way. So, good, if odd album, very little 'Tron indeed.

n.b. It remains available along with the 6 page story text w/period photos in back issue #38 of Progression magazine (Winter/Spring 2001) at www.progressionmgazine.com, in case you're trying to find a copy.

See: OHO | Dark Side (the above is from www.planetmellotron.com)

_______________________________________________________________________

"To: garbotzo@yahoo.com
Subject: Okinawa Show Next Tues
Date: Tue, 16 Feb 2010 12:58:41 -0700
Hi Jay,
The following will be my show intro which will have "Moon Draw Your Curtain" playing in the background. I will be using alot of what you have emailed me in the past to fill the audience in on the "story of Okinawa" as the show progresses.
. Thanks for all you help.
Hi stevehear--welcome to this edition of the SOUNDTHING Radio Show. (station Id) Today, featured in its entirety will be the independently produced 1974 underground/progressive cult favorite "Okinawa" a 29 song collection by the Baltimore based band OHO.
This is the story of how an artist can, after 35 years persevere and find recognition by an audience for his work. And so-- I would like to dedicate this edition of the SOUNDTHING Radio Show to all those struggling artists, in whatever medium, but especially those musicians who despair of ever reaching that audience.
As this show today might demonstrate, time, and staying true to one's vision can indeed result in achieving that ultimate goal-- recognition of one's art as valid.
To quote from the Rockadrome Records web site, that of a company due to re-release this work:
'Vintage Records (a subsidiary of independent San Antonio based label Rockadrome Records) has agreed to release, for the first time on CD, OHO's classic, independently produced, underground 1974 psychedelic/progressive LP, Okinawa.
'OHO Guitarist Jay Graboski is working closely with the Vintage label on a new digital remastering of this classic material that is now 35 years old. Jay has been a member of this ever transmogrifying ensemble since late 1973 when rehearsals for the recording of this 29 song double LP began, and he will be overseeing this new mastering and the extensive liner notes and lyrics that will accompany the release. Panned and derided by local music critics at the time, Okinawa has since gradually gained in stature among record collectors and progressive music fans worldwide, now considered by some to be a minor progressive masterpiece featuring music akin to Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, early Alice Cooper, Genesis and Wild Man Fischer. Germany's Hanf magazine called Okinawa Sgt. Pepper's for the advanced listener.
Previously re-released in 1995 on German record label, Little Wing of Refugees, as a 4 10" limited edition vinyl set in a metal film canister accompanied by a 30 page booklet of lyrics, credits, photos and anecdotes, the new Vintage re-release will be the first time this music is officially made available on Compact Disc. Stay tuned for this long awaited re-release later in 2010.'
www.rockadrome.com
I had the pleasure of being the sound engineer of a number of live shows for the version of OHO which existed in the late 80's-to mid 90's and as time permits following this presentation of "Okinawa", I will be playing some selections from that era of OHO's existence which I am pleased to be able to say is part of my own personal history and experience.
And now-- in its entirety, the album "Okinawa" by OHO."

A technical note on electric guitar amplification for the Okinawa sessions: I came upon an article in the April 2010 issue of Vintage Guitar touting the virtues of the Silvertone 1484 or "Twin Twelve" tube amplifier marketed by Sears, Roebuck and Co. in the mid-60's (I got mine in the summer of 1965). This amp debuted with a price of $149.95 (today=$1000). This was the amp I used from 1965-1969 (see photo at the conclusion of April 2009's "What's Up?" entry--in fact, in this photo there is also the updated-but-less-renowned 1967 "solid state" version of that amp (white-faced and clad in black tolex) that I think Mr. "Wrod" Jackson ran his Farfisa combo organ through as a member of THA). "Their values jumped when The White Stripes became popular and players learned Jack White's killer sound was through (his 100-watt, 6 10" speaker, 1485 version) Silvertone amp(s)."

All electric guitar parts on OHO Okinawa were played by the band's lead guitarist on my Gibson ES-335 through a Silvertone 1484..."this baby can rock the socks off the meanest swamp alligators!" article author, David Jung.

February snow storm reading completed: Maurice Nicoll's Psychological Commentaries on the Teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky Vol. III. Recommend that one, Oprah. The gist? As one of my many "i's" sees it: so much being willed and only a very few really here allowing themselves to make "essence active and personality passive"...yet.

Also read The Real Frank Zappa Book (autobiography). Frank's words on what appears to me to be kind of related to one of Mr. Nicoll's above-referenced commentaries: "I suggest we learn how to take anything bad that happens to us and polarize it. Instead of being overwhelmed by a negative event, dodge to the side like those t'ai chi guys and let it whizz by your pants. Maybe it makes a little breeze--big deal. (Please don't mistake this for optimism.)" (page 234)

OHO & out.

February 2010

"I decided to turn the word 'pretentious' into a compliment. The common assumption is that there are 'real' people and there are others who are pretending to be something they're not. There's an assumption that there's something morally wrong with pretending."--Eno

"The key to practical action is the assumption of virtue: we may not be 'fully integrated', but may we act as if we were?"--Fripp

01.12.10--KZMU (Moab, UT) airs Dark Side's "Can't Get used To It," OHO's "I Crawled Back to Nothing When I Crawled Back To You" and The Weaszels' "Big Trouble."

01.20.10--Songs from our Circle 5 compilation CD featuring members of the Baltimore Songwriters Association arrives featuring OHO's "The Plague" with vocals by Matt Graboski (El Sledge) and re-recorded acoustic guitars interleaved with the original 1974 instrumental tracks. This 2-disc set also includes selections by BSA friends Ty Ford (Rocktronics co-producer), pianist Ray Jozwiak (x-Ful Treatment) and Warren Cherry, former band mate of the late Trent Zeigen and singer for their 60s Baltimore band, The Herd (Trent played keyboards in Little Hans and contributed largely to both OHO's UP and Bricolage CDs). www.baltimoresongwriters.org

Still addressing the KZMU/SHO OHO questions from the 08/25/09 radio interview one by one, we answer the next query following the airing of "Fun In Nicaragua" from Dark Side's 1996, cassette-only release, Dark Side '96:

7. "Fun In Nicaragua" (2:48)--1980/1996 (J.P. Graboski & M.F. O'Connor) (live-to-digital-2-track live recording from Dark Side '96, a cassette-only release) Artist: Dark Side/Release date: 1996/Label info: Go Hog Records C-3

"Dark Side were, essentially, a continuation of Baltimore's avant-gods OHO, although the musical path they chose was utterly different. Imagine a 1980-style 'noo wave' band, with pointed, ironic lyrics, a scratchy, punkish approach to their playing and dollops of Farfisa all over everything, and you won't be too far out. They released one album, the now-so-rare-I-can't-even-find-a-cover-scan-on-the-Net Rumours in Our Own Time, Legends in Our Own Room, which should probably have done an awful lot better than it did. Just think; what if The Cars had had brains? Decent enough material. Mellotron on one track, Down The Tubes, with some background strings that really make a difference.

As part of a general OHO reissue programme, the whole album was released on CD in 2005 as Odd Fellows on an Even Day: Anthology 1977-1995, expanded to double its original length. Y'know, you've got to really like this stuff to want to listen to an entire album of it... That's not to dismiss it in any way, however; it's good at what it does, just doesn't really hold the attention of one not into the style for over an hour."

www.Planetmellotron.com.

Even more background (check the page dedicated to "the Side" by clicking on the "Dark Side" hyperlink at the top of the home page of our site): This version of that band existed from 1977-1981 and enjoyed some local success tying with R & B stalwarts, The Nighthawks (front man, Mark Wenner, played harmonica on OHO's "Under Covers" on our Bricolage CD), at number 5 in the Sunpaper's "Top Local Bands" critics' poll (Monday, January 19, 1981 edition) listing ahead of The Slickee Boys and The Accused.

"The standout cut on the (Rumours In Our Own Time/Legends In Our Own Room) album is 'Fun In Nicaragua' (these words are repeated over & over throughout the cut). The song sounds like something third-graders sing during recess. The lyrics are painfully simple, but somehow funny--'Dennis Marteeen-ez, your home is where the heat is.' All in all, the quality is terrible, the music (although well-played) is fuzzy, and the album cover falls apart as soon as the shrink-wrap is removed. Still, I can't help but like this album." --Scott Flood (Night Rock News, 1981)

Dennis Martinez, at the time a winning baseball pitcher in the starting rotation for the Baltimore Orioles, is from Nicaragua and in 1979 there was, of course, the Sandinista revolution in his native country. And this is what “Fun in Nicaragua” is about. 16 years later he was still pitching when we reunited for this featured recording, prompting a lyric change from "your home is where the heat is" to "this will be your last season".

Surprisingly Mr. Martinez went on to pitch at least one more season (maybe even 2) in the majors, completing his distinguished career in Montreal, or maybe it was in LA? Nevertheless, "Nicaragua" was a crowd pleaser with audients often joining in vocally on both the choruses and the "middle 8" (we'd also sometimes hand out kazoos so audience members could mimic the horn parts when we'd play "Bluestown"), another reason why it was included in the play list for the August '09 KZMU radio show.

Question: This sounds nastily powerful. Please speak to the process of recording live in the studio without the luxury of overdubbing and what triggered this reunion session?

First of all the drums are monster! This is a combination of the studio drum set tuned and maintained by producer/engineer Steve Carr at his Hit & Run recording studio, a discriminating microphone choice and their placement around the kit...AND primarily the heavy percussive technique of drummer David Reeve.

Also having recently been reminded of Hoshino made amps in an interview with Sundown designer/collector, Dennis Kager, in last month's issue of Vintage Guitar, I was reminded of how we achieved the "nastily powerful" guitar tones that generally represented my recorded work with Dark Side, The Weaszels, and Lunar Merchant (outside of the OHO work--generally acoustic/electric) throughout the 90s, very much of it recorded "live-to-digital-2-track."

Using a Mesa Boogie V-Twin tube pre-amp through the clean channel of either my Sundown combo (it sported a neat variable RMS wattage selector knob--anywhere from 10 to a blasting 100 watts) or through a 50-watt Sundown guitar amplifier head in Steve Carr's arsenal at his studio in (yeah!) Rockville, MD., I connected the power output from either of these amps to a 4/12 slant-faced Marshall cabinet with a closed back (this seemed to prevent a lot of the lower and lower mid-range frequencies from dissipating out the open back of my Sundown combo amp which itself boasted a heavy duty & very capable Electro Voice 12" loudspeaker (its magnet weighing in at a hefty 16 lbs.).

There was some real crunch in either of these set-ups, especially when playing my at-that-time recently acquired burgundy 1975 Les Paul Custom through them (this guitar, originally owned by OHO's 70s lead guitarist, was purchased by a mutual friend, Bill Senge, who aside from helping us out with a bunch of graphic work in the 90s, also sold it to me for $400 before my selling it back to him--at the price I paid for it--a few years later and prior to his family moving to Texas).

The appealing and tight crunch is what one hears when one listens to this specific track (and the remainder of the tracks on this cassette as well since they were all recorded during the same afternoon session at Hit and Run Studio). Three recordings from this Spring 1995 session are included on the-currently-available-at-CD Baby.com, Dark Side's Odd Fellows on an Even Day CD anthology: "In the Dark," "Back Off!" & "You Should Envy Me."

Throughout the 90s "live-to-digital-2-track" recording was often the way for us to go. It was honest and without the luxury of overdubs; what you hear is what you get. In the case of the first instance of our venture into this recording technique (however cost effective and immediate it was), during the OHO Sacco cassette recording session (1992), it was impossible for bassist/engineer Steve Carr to both play bass and run his recording console simultaneously so, in that instance the bass was mixed in later. But the drums, guitars and vocals were all performed/recorded together "live" but in a controlled studio environment (you can even here the patter of the rain on the air conditioner on one of the Sacco tracks). The recording was in stereo with engineer Carr designating the panning spectrum and then recording each performance to DAT (digital audio tape). The only option to improve on this was to play the songs over and over until we got a take agreed upon via consensus.

The Weaszels often recorded this way as did Lunar Merchant (01.1994), wrapping up with the Dark Side '96 session that actually took place in the Spring of 1995. In fact our bass player wanted to call the cassette Dark Side '95 (in the spirit of Beatles '65) but we had so much difficulty in transferring the saturated/ultra high volume mixes to the cassette tape medium we were unable to release it until the following year.

The Marble Bar Survivor's Party on the evening of 02.25.95 at the 8x10 club near Federal Hill in Baltimore was ultimately the catalyst for this recording reunion. Hosted by former Harry editor, Tom DiVenti, and the late Pam Purdie (a music journalist for the Baltimore City Paper at the time), "The Weaszels, Richard Taylor, Null Set, Adolf Kowalski, trombonist Craig Considine (who played on many Dark Side and even on the mid-70's OHO recording of "Paint Can" from the still unreleased Dream of the Ridiculous Band), The Alcoholics, Dark Side, Off the Wall (featuring multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Glenn Workman, who played live with OHO at the 1988 Yamaha Soundcheck at The Universal Amphitheater in Hollywood as well as contributing his talents to both OHO's UP and Bricolage CDs), all" joined Roger's widow’s band, "Leslee Anderson & The Twisters for a night of music and memories in tribute to the late Roger Anderson, the Marble Bar impresario who made room for local bands to play original music in a city infested with cover bands. (Pam Purdy, City Paper, 02.95)

Although almost sidelined by Graves Disease, I was able to join David Reeve and our re-united former band mates on stage for this wonderful and "nostalgic nite of music." We performed a 1/2 hour set of songs mostly from Rumours In Our Own Time...and as far Dark Side songs go (most being under 3 minutes), that meant about 10 (actually it was eleven songs as Ken Birnie filmed our 34:30 set). The best live recorded versions of these songs (this turned out to be ALL of them), the basis for the subsequent recording session, were included on the Dark Side '96 cassette.

"Produced by Steve Carr, Dark Side '96 resonates with grits and guts. Chock full of sonic surprises, this tape shines a fresh new light on Dark Side."

--Mark Bounds (Music Monthly, March 1997/Issue #150/Vol. 14 #3)

There are all kinds of ways for bands to disintegrate but the story of how the Dark Side schism eventualized in late 1980 is one of the more bizarre/ironic that I remember. That is, this split occurred because the creative milieu was so fertile. Dark Side employed an "around-the-horn" method of making certain everyone had their chance to submit songs for consideration for the band to learn and incorporate into our repertoire. So we went from the keyboard player to the bassist to the guitarist and back and so forth. If it was say, my turn, & I did not have a song ready we would move on to the next songwriter in the established sequence.

Well, during and after the 12" vinyl release of Rumours in Our Own Time/Legend In Our Own Room, our keysman began to become more and more prolific with his songwriting and he was venturing/expanding into different musical areas. This meant that not only did he have a song ready to go whenever it was his turn, but in the event either of the remaining songwriters would not have a song prepared upon arriving at his own turn, he was "at-the-ready" with another song. This did not bother me at all as thus was the way things were set up and to my mind it was a fair arrangement. Prolificity (sic) is a GOOD thing, right?

The bassist, however, became more and more annoyed by this to the point were he made it known. My speculation is that this festering stemmed from his having to learn all this new material, some of which was not for him, and this would also encroach upon the time he had available for his own songwriting usually taking more time due to his phlegmatic method of composition.

A mental device I have used over the many years to accommodate the songwriting styles of others is to suspend personal taste and judgment. This is having mercy on oneself. It requires practice and dispenses with the arbitrary personal taste factor, reinforcing the realization that "like and dislike are very cheap" (another Guitar Craft aphorism that rings true).

If one were to approach the songwriting of others in a spirit of "what is it that I can contribute to realize the songwriter's vision of his/her song" (i.e. openness) then the usual outcome is, in a certain sense, that I have made the song my own. And the resulting usual effect is that I come to champion and enjoy those contributions of my band mates. This is definitely part of what it means to be in a band, when the team acts as one.

So, in another topsy-turvy attempt "to turn advantage into disadvantage," of course I was the one approached about this "problem" (& not the keyboardist) and basically the complaint was that the keyboard player was writing too many songs. Other than this complaint sounding somewhat ridiculous/absurd, to my way of thinking it undermined the healthy and safe creative environment we had established thereto and revealed something ugly about the subtext of the day to day interactions of Dark Side. (BTW Dark Side's tenebrous moniker was inspired by the title of the B-side of the Shadows of Knight mid-60's 45 rpm record, "Gloria" and not the often underestimated force that motivated the villains of the Star Wars trilogy.)

Advising a creative person to curtail the amount of music that flows through him/her and into manifestation is something I'm unable to do and is impossible anyway. Creativity is the foundation of any band with an identity. I told the bassist that this was not going to happen but that he may deal with it on his own if he preferred and...good luck with that!

There must have been other problems that were not articulated and one would have to go to the source to find out what they might have been. But by January 1981 David Reeve, myself and the keyboard player joined with bassist Paul Rieger to form Food for Worms and the Dark Side bassist went on to revamp what was now "his" band to where he would continue to lord his "preoccupation with 60s pop, teen-drama lyrics and neo-Spector production." (Comstock Lode,No. 9) over a new set of players for another year or so before disbanding it to form the rockabilly-esque Wildcats.

From: Steve Goodwin Subject: Okinawa,etc.
To: "Jay Graboski" <garbotzo@yahoo.com>
Date: Sunday, January 10, 2010, 12:50 PM

Hey,
I plan to play Okinawa in its entirety (with some "shit" edits) and a few things from Dream of the Ridiculous Band on the 1/26 show. Some questions for you: 1. In what format was it originally released and what was the selling price. Indy release or company? How was it distributed? There is a new German re-release in the works? What can you tell me about the cult fave status of this record? Free downloads of this and whole catalogue on ohomusic.com?

In the show intro I was planning to speak to the 70's "art rock" style of the music as contemporaries of Gentle Giant, Early Genesis,Capt. Beefheart, Wild Man Fisher, Happy The Man, FZ, and King Crimson. Does that sound anywhere near the mark to you? Your suggestions are most welcome. The playlist will be going up on the kzmu site later today.
Steve

From my reply:

Date: Tuesday, January 12, 2010, 4:51 PM

Okinawa? In it's entirety? Wow!!!!!!!!!!! This is definitely the most significant radio event (for us) since 1972 when WKTK-FM DJ Joe Buccheri aired our 42-minute, 1/4" stereo demo tape of the Little Hans rock opera, Peter Pan, during prime time and with only one, very short station ID. So, this is momentous! Now on to answering your questions.

1. Original format?

Recorded during a 2 week period in January 1974 and released independently in July 1974 (i.e. there was no "label" information other than what I'm guessing is the manufacturer's ID project numbers for sides one and two, NR4579-1 & NR4579-2), Okinawa manifested as a stereo, 12" vinyl LP. It sported a (construction paper) matte-finished, pink cover with OHO Okinawa very simply printed on the front cover (I'm pretty sure "stick-on" letters were used) and one of graphic artist, Jon Considine's OHO logos on the back cover. I still hold the original camera-ready artwork that was used for the disc's manufacture. On the actual disc were pink labels listing the songs. Remember this was edited down from 30 songs to 15 as funding a double album was prohibitively expensive for the band at that time. The songs on side one are:

1. DUVA (OHO)--3:55

2. The Salient Sickle Sucker (O'Connor)--5:23

3. Brown Algae Is Attractive (Heck)--2:20)

4. Manic Detective (O'Sullivan)--2:08

5. Horse Remorse (O'Connor-O'Sullivan)--3:33

6 .Ain't Life Dumb? (Heck)--2:27 (with this song Nuna claims to have invented "rap")

7. Hairy Bag (O'Connor)--1:01

Side Two:

1. The Continuing Story of Cragwheel the Corpse (OHO)--6:20

2. Last Dance (O'Sullivan)--1:01

3. Ivy Dog (O'Connor-O'Sullivan)--1:52

4. A Frog For You (O'Connor-O'Sullivan)--2:33

5. The Unfortunate Frankfurter Vendor (O'Connor)--1:10

6. Pale Hippo (O'Connor)--1:50)

7. Gotta Write A Poem (O'Connor)--1:19

8. The Plague (Graboski-O'Connor)--4:11

I found one of our Okinawa ads from a 1978 issue of Trouser Press magazine and it reads: "If you want one send $4.00 to..." As young men in our 20's we knew nothing of how to distribute a record. Having already spoiled a potential record deal with A&M records (a story in itself), we had to do this on our own. There was a record store in Towson Plaza (Music Liberated) that in 1974 took a bunch of Okinawa's on speculation but either we failed to get a "consignment" agreement in writing, or it was later lost or misplaced.

In 1978 (that's at least 3 years later) I went back to this store and found an entire bin filled with our albums displayed for sale tagged at $2.98 each, the going rate for "cut-outs" at the time. First, I tried to get them to settle our account but the owner requested I produce our written agreement, which I did not have as there was none. Being denied in that regard, I then offered to buy them all at the $2.98 rate at which point he gathered up all the LP's and took them into a back room, refusing to allow me to even buy one of them.

"The Seventies Rock Label" Little Wing of Refugees announced the release for the 1st time (celebrating their 25th vinyl project) with the following text: "a complete edition of this progressive masterpiece...including all 31 songs originally recorded...a luxury set of four 10" LPs, housed in a tin box with a 28-page booklet. The set is limited to 800 individually numbered copies!"

Release date: July 27, 1995. Dealer's price: 43,90 DM (43.90 Euros, Deutsch marks in '95, today would be about $63.77). I think I was selling them for $50.00 (my cost) per set + shipping and packaging for the mail orders. I didn't really care about making a profit, rather I wanted to see them distributed and out in the universe, being played or at least, looked at.

The Austin. TX based Rockadrome Records was/is(?) planning to release a 30 song CD version of Okinawa on its Vintage subsidiary label in 2009/10 with a 20 page booklet using the original artwork. To date this has not happened.

The most recent communique from the label's owner was dated 09.11.09 when he assured me the release was still in the works. It was hot in Texas last summer, he had some financial setbacks due to a car accident, his air conditioning unit breaking down at his store, and then there's the current economic environment with CD sales generally off -18.8% in 2007, -19.7% in '08, and an additional -17.9% off of that figure in 2009. I guess we'll see what happens.

From the Rockadrome web site's home page:

"Vintage Records (a subsidiary of independent San Antonio based label Rockadrome Records) has agreed to release, for the first time on CD, OHO's classic, independently produced, underground 1974 psychedelic/progressive LP, Okinawa.

"OHO Guitarist Jay Graboski is working closely with the Vintage label on a new digital remastering of this classic material that is now 35 years old. Jay has been a member of this ever transmogrifying ensemble since late 1973 when rehearsals for the recording of this 31 song double LP began, and he will be overseeing this new mastering and the extensive liner notes and lyrics that will accompany the release. Panned and derided by local music critics at the time, Okinawa has since gradually gained in stature among record collectors and progressive music fans worldwide, now considered by some to be a minor progressive masterpiece featuring music akin to Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, early Alice Cooper, Genesis and Wild Man Fischer. Germany's Hanf magazine called Okinawa "Sgt. Pepper's for the advanced listener."

Previously re-released in 1995 on German record label, Little Wing of Refugees, as a 4 10" limited edition vinyl set in a metal film canister accompanied by a 30 page booklet of lyrics, credits, photos and anecdotes, the new Vintage re-release will be the first time this music is officially made available on Compact Disc. Stay tuned for this long awaited re-release later in 2009."
www.rockadrome.com"

As far as the "cult" status of Okinawa, how does this happen with any record? I would proffer that things seemed to pick up a bit in the late 70s when the late Greg Shaw listed us as one of the "Top 10 of Acid Punk" in Issue #19 of Who Put The Bomp (January 1978):

1. The Soft Boys

2. Debris

3. Pere Ubu

4. The Residents

5. Devo

6. Human Switchboard

7. Chrome

8. OHO (here's the text: "Here's a real mind scorcher. These guys, who seem to be an artistic collective of some sort, based in Towson, MD, have put together an album, single, and various tapes and written literature demonstrating their own demented aesthetic. Musically they're more progressive than psychedelic (I hear a bit of Zappa in their sound) but dig this stuff from their lyric book (from 'Manic Detective'): 'I built a canoe/I built it just for you/I saw your Oho/I saw my life dripping on the sidwalk.' And: 'My ashtray is in tune but my neighborhood is louder than my tape.' Not to mention: 'I'm crawling to the edge of a grapefruit', 'It's windy in tonight' , and (wait for it!) 'Kill milk.'* An hour of this and you'll be carried away to the tangerine jungle of marshmallow madness..."

9. Psychotic Pineapple

10. Throbbing Gristle

*We did not know who (San Francisco city organizer) Harvey Milk was in 1974. This was about stabbing or shooting or strangling a carton of milk or even, I'm guessing now, a puddle of spilt milk (the liquid, calcium-rich beverage).

In '79 we were included on a Bomp Records compilation LP, Waves Vol II, that featured a Paul Rieger-engineered Teac 4 track recorded-in-the-basement version of "Here Comes the Oysters" (the Sheffield Studio version of which was in 1998 included on the Refugees (German record label) Ecce OHO CD (LW 3053 EXP). & from there it was up, up and away (kind of like the how the Wright brothers were "up, up & away" in 1903 at Kitty Hawk--not very high & not very far but a watershed event nonetheless).

(from another email to Steve sent 01.15.10):

"What can I tell you about the cult-fave status of this record?"

Steve,

Been thinking more about this question and, in my 60th year, sometimes it takes a while for the memories to catch up and make any contextual connection to my brain.

Remember in my last email conveying the "Music Liberated" story when the merchant refused to sell me all those Okinawa LP's? It is plausible to infer that accidents like this actually contributed in to our record achieving "cult fave" status in the ensuing years.

Why wouldn't he sell me the records? After all they were for sale for $2.98. I would posit that my unusual request to purchase the lot suggested to him that these records may actually be worth something. After all isn't retail all about "demand"?

So in the usual ridiculous OHO fashion, here are the very musicians who paid to record and have the record manufactured having offered TO BUY BACK the VERY records they paid for in the 1st place. Talk about an incestuous business relationship. What a novel way to get a "buzz" going. Wasn't Brian Epstein accused of buying all those Beatle (w/Tony Sheridan) "My Bonnie" 45's back in the early 60's in Liverpool?

After the punk revolution the mail order vinyl market opened up, especially for independents like us. I mean, from 1974-78 there was really very little we could do to promote the LP without the help of a real record label. Coincidentally, stores like Music Liberated and Music Machine (in Reisterstown) also started healthy mail-order divisions and advertising in magazines like Trouser Press, Bomp! & all the other fanzines popping up all around the world were proliferating this trend.

Therefore, perhaps our pilfered albums ended up being sold via mail order to a fan here or to another person willing to take a chance on an unknown band, there. In effect, these mail order outlets were promoting our music while making a modest (100%) profit, a small price to pay, I guess.

Simultaneously I was offering for sale the remaining Okinawa stock I had (I think it may have been one box containing 25 lp's) & our vinyl 45s (OHO’s “Seldom Bought,” Trixy & The Testones as well as the 2 Dark Side ep's: Wholesale Diamonds and Damaged Goods), placing 1/4 and 1/2 page ads in both of the aforementioned magazines AND taking out more cost-effective "classified" ads in same until they ceased to exist, sometime around the early 80's.

Routing through an unorganized box of archived papers I found the carbon copy of an order to TP that read: "Please run the following classified in the next 4 issues of the Trouser Press. Enclosed is a check and the ad should be worded as follows: (under tapes)--BRAINWASHED? OHO's "acid punk" de-programs! 3 different LP's on cassettes: $10 each, $5-sampler, $25-set. Send to..."

Whenever anyone ordered any of our vinyl I would enclose a product list of our cassettes in the package. I sold a handful of records this way and even fewer tapes. I remember feeling somewhat a failure as a mail-order music proprietor, taking the legal amount of losses as long as I could on my tax returns; and upon the expiration of that period I had to admit to myself that this enterprise was merely "a hobby". But there is some comfort in that, especially after being advised from an Englishman that outside the USA the word "hobby" has a less diminishing connotation than in other cultures where hobbies are fields of endeavour that reflect a person's TRUE passion, one's employment situation being often of necessity income based, suggesting the very opposite.

This "failure" resulted in an interesting eventuality circa 1990 when Rene and Gerlinde Dzaack, the owners of the Bavarian cottage industry record label, Little Wing of Refugees, took a month long holiday, driving across the continental USA to see our country. Their American distributor, a young man who worked out of a town house in Towson, put the Dzaacks up for a night or so prior to their flight back to Bavaria and played one of the above mentioned OHO tapes for Rene, who went nuts for it; and the rest is some minor history. A year or so later OHO's 2nd LP, Vitamin OHO, was released on vinyl on that German label, sporadically sponsoring a 1/4 page ad in Goldmine magazine. In '95 came the Okinawa reissue and in '98, the Ecce OHO CD. Then they went out of business. I remember asking Rene who he expected would buy these records.

Back to 1978 when two individuals, Rolf Niemier in Germany and Fabio Nosotti in Italy, both became big fans of our work. I am still in contact with Rolf. Rolf was motivated to write a FEATURE story on OHO for UK magazine, Bucketful of Brains (No.3) in 1981 that led to another story (about Dark Side) in another UK mag, Comstock Lode No.9 (Autumn 81); as also did Fabio for 2 Italian magazines: Rockerilla in 1980 and l'ultima Buscadero in '81.

The late British DJ, John Peel even mentioned OHO once on his famous BBC radio show (a European fan actually sent me a cassette with his blurb on it). And from Baltimore magazine (March 1981): "Punk rock, too, 'flourished in Baltimore long before the Sex Pistols came along,' recalls (John) Waters, thinking perhaps of such local bands as OHO and Poobah, which were playing before 1975." So it seems we were often "name-dropped" & present in the test & subtext of Baltimore related art/music journalism.

From 1984, when at the behest of Clean Cuts Records, we changed our name from Food for Worms back to OHO, we were then always able to refer to our history as prequel to what was happening currently. That is, every time their would be a piece about OHO, especially during 1988-1990, we would always preface it with our legacy steeped, as it was/is, in a certain tradition. And this kept our story alive and somewhat relevant. It was useful in both keeping our past recordings of interest and in piquing the curiosity of those interested to hear and investigate what we were currently involved in, just because we were OHO.

Hope that speaks somewhat as to the "cult fave" status of this record.

FYI: Derek Shulman (who was the lead singer for Gentle Giant) signed the band, Bon Jovi to Polygram in the early 80's. He also passed on the Audition version of OHO in 1989.

Anything else? Thanks!

-Jay

From Steve's reply to my replies:

Hey.
Thanks for getting back to me so fast. Something has come up to mess up my show plans schedule wise and so the Okinawa show MAY be postponed til 2/23. Never fear the show WILL go on one way or another before feb is out. Just check the website playlist for a show date that I will revise once I get stuff sorted out here. Did you hear the show today? You were very well represented-- see the playlist. Steve

To: soundthing
Date: Saturday, January 16, 2010, 10:22 AM

While Dennis Bergeron, who runs the Rockadrome/Vintage labels out of Austin TX, had only heard about the '95 Little Wing 4 10" tin-boxed set, he had the original '74 LP in his collection and that record is what motivated him to offer its re-release on CD. When he found out there were another 15 tracks, he seemed to become even more interested. Again, due to the inevitable setbacks, this has not happened to date.

-Jay

Jay,
The last 2 missives have been very interesting and will be useful in telling the story as I play the piece. I am shying away from an interview format during this presentation for 2 reasons.
#1 I don't feel all that competent as as interviewer. I have done it on 3 occasions to date and was not especially pleased with my performance in that role.
#2 The running time of the piece and the 2 additional cuts along with all the other house keeping stuff I have to do in the course of a show should eat up the 2 hours allotted. Should I have any time left over I will be prepared to play a bit of Grace Hearn era OHO. My plan is to use what you have sent me as the basis for a script of sorts which I will use in between sets of 3 or 4 songs to educate the listener as to the history of the music and the aesthetic approach it represents.
Second Tues. in Feb. will be show time. Sorry to bump you but something has come along with a sort of serendipitous timing that I can't pass up and I feel I must do THAT as my show on 1/23 and then I will be out of town on 2/9 with a sub filling in.
Steve

From: jay graboski
Subject: Even more on Okinawa
To: soundthing

Date: Tuesday, January 26, 2010, 10:21 AM

Steve,

I remember the 1st half of 1974 as being a fairly magical time all the way 'round; that is until my unemployment checks ran out on 05.31.74 and I accepted a job with SSA that I retired from 31 years and 4 months later. But I digress & memory has a funny way of bending things around so as to make them appear more positive.

As soon as we had 1/4" stereo 7" reel-to-reel tapes of Okinawa I began to both send them out and play them for people. We were VERY excited about the record. Having a lot of spare time on my hands that winter/spring I spent a number of afternoons at the Record & Tape Collector (record store) located at 511 1/2 York Rd. in Towson (just across from the Recher Theater, then the Towson Movie Theater) and I would bring my reel-to-reel tape recorder, tap into the store's sound system and play Okinawa.

The staff was pretty cool as I remember, one or two of them on the cutting edge of what was new, having the skinny on the latest domestic and import progressive releases. This was a real musical education for me and I was even hired as a part-time sales clerk a year and a half later for the 1975 holiday season. & it didn't hurt that some of these guys were likely dedicated spleef smokers. So they would let me play these tapes in store during the early afternoon lulls and we'd try this stuff out on unsuspecting browsers and, of course, the more hard-core and adventurous music aficionados were seeking out employee recommendations.

I don't remember how many times we played Okinawa in store but I know it was at least "a few." Local record distributors were always popping in with promos of their respective label's new releases, taking orders: and there in the front of the store was my "paused" reel-to-reel, set up on an extension of the sales counter, at the ready to respond to an appropriate opportunity to audition our album.

One Eugene Horn, who was a distributor for A&M Records (among others labels), was a colorfully enormous fellow who really flipped for OHO. At the time the most progressive act on the A&M roster was Strawbs, so Eugene thought we might be able to schmooze distributors at the regional level, guys who had closer ties with the decision makers at the label itself, into working on the band's behalf.

And so we were introduced to Johnny Powell who sometimes provided us with complimentary tickets whenever any artists from the A&M stable were playing in town (e.g. Henry Gross & Humble Pie).

It was also around this time that we played our 1st concert at the Steel Workers Hall in Dundalk, a disaster by any estimation. Larry Bright, OHO's first drummer who later went on to a semi-distinguished career in fusion/jazz (even producing drum instruction videos), wore an early version of what are now termed "noise cancellation headphones" (actually more like what jackhammer operators use to spare their auditory nerves any damage from the noise) so there was only minimal visual on-stage communication (grimaces and despairing looks?).

We had perhaps overestimated our performing abilities, were not very well-rehearsed and a handful of pathetic stage pyrotechnics puttered into minuscule puffs of smoke, not much more than a match being blown out. In retrospect it was fairly hilarious, though it didn't seem so at that time. We did, however, have a real Mellotron on stage, a painted face or two, our music and some unusual costumes. Still, a very disheartening debut.

& we soon killed our relationship with A&M in spring 1974 after being invited to a post Henry Gross show party in the Village of Cross Keys where we arrived at the party venue much sooner than the honored guests and all havoc broke out. There were rumours of deflated car tires, servers being strangled with the telephone wires connected to phones that had somehow landed in the rest room commode, and our entourage devoured more than one plate of hors de oeuvres before the "real" guests materialized.

While I didn't participate actively in the shenanigans, standing helplessly on the sideline, it was guilt by association ("the passive observer is as entangled as the active participant") and I did receive an enthusiasm-crushing call from Johnny Powell the next day saying that we were finished in this town....which ended up pretty much being prophetic.

Oh...there was one more chance with Capitol Records a year later; but here is another legendary tale of an OHO-ite pushing one of the A&R persons into the pool at a Sheffield Recording sponsored barbecue. I guess you're supposed to wait AFTER you're signed to engage in such activities. So being contracted to a major label was obviously not in our cards and our behavior kind of declared that we didn't want to be signed anyway, rebels that we imaghined we were.

Upon our independent release of the LP in July '74, there was some initial enthusiasm that soon waned into nothingness. The only review we were able to urge was from The Baltimore News-American in its "Young World" section dtd 07/14/74. It reads:

"OHO is a local group that combines the theater-rock and dialog format of Genesis with the crazed-rock style of Frank Zappa or Capt. Beefheart.

The guys recorded an LP at Flite Three entitled Okinawa, and they mailed me a tape copy of their songs. I don't think they have the studio experience required to impress today's sophisticated listeners, but they show promise and proficiency in their playing and writing. Songs such as 'Duva,' 'The Plague,' 'Ain't Life Dumb?,' 'A Frog for You,' 'Brown Algae Is Attractive,' and 'Frankfurter Vendor' display the group's aggressive approach to singing, arranging, and performing. There are some nifty sax and keyboard solos peppering the better tracks."

But we picked ourselves up, and practiced, eventually becoming proficient and more consistent with the quality of our live performances, spending the next 3 years seriously working, writing and recording what materialized as two more studio albums: Vitamin OHO and Dream of the Ridiculous Band. In Spring 1977 with 3 of our 5 members jobless, one without an instrument, and relegated to irrelevance by the advent of disco, we disbanded. A few months later we started Dark Side.

OK, I think that's about everything I can remember. You should have enough in between track banter to last you the entire program now.

-Jay

OHO and out

 

January 2010~Happy New Year!

"Given the Mayan concept of history, it is scarcely credible to imagine that December 21, 2012 represents 'the end of history' or anything even resembling such an event--an event that, in Mayan terms, is not even possible. The end of the current Great Cycle" (like the New Year) "represents the beginning of a new Great Cycle."--Kenneth Johnson

"The more you do what you want, the more magic happens. I'll make whatever I want, out of whatever I want, about whatever I want."--Erika Wanenmacher, artist

"The nature of the work is to prepare for a good accident."--Sidney Lumet

"Indignation is one of the most rewarding emotions as well as one that automatically gives meaning to life...There is nothing like irritation to get the juices circulating and the mind working."--Theodore Dalrymple

(Errata from and footnotes to the December 2009 "What's Up?" update: 1. The name of the Orange Wedge guitarist who replaced Kraig Krixer is Joe Farace. 2. Both photos of Trixy & his Testones were generously snapped and provided by SSA compadre, Charlie Wehrheim, not Jon Considine as reported. 3. J.D. Considine's review of "Palisades Park" was from The City Paper not The Baltimore News-American. 4. Patti Rosenberg's review of same was from The Unicorn Times and not The City Paper. 5. Ken Barnes was the journalist reviewing the record for the New York Rocker, #18. 6. "Troll" is the title of Razor's song on volume one of The Best of Baltimore's Buried. & 7. Jim Green was the reviewer for the Trouser Press T&TT review, #40. 8. I recently began to consolidate anything about "the story" written on paper, much of the newsprint stock beginning to yellow and/or disintegrate, In an "it's-the-least-that-I-could-do-&-you-can-always-count-on-me-to-do-the-least" attempt to slow the process down a bit, these printed artifacts have been inserted into page protectors. I came upon an admission ticket for an Apple Productions' May 11, 1975 concert at Lansdowne Senior High School Auditorium presenting OHO, Elf Park along with "Orange" Wedge. Apparently the 3rd band continued to go by either "Wedge" or "Orange Wedge" as late as mid '75. So much for my erroneous statement that they had dropped the "Orange" by 1973. I probably inferred this due to the title of their first LP, Wedge. Also, we forgot to thank Lisa Phillips who provided us with the hi-res scans of both the Testone 45 jacket and the band photo. Thank you, Lisa.)

Besides over 33 OHO rehearsals, 2 jam sessions, 22 CSL rehearsals and 8 recording sessions at The Bratt Studio in Woodlawn MD (David also working on OHO recordings throughout the year at his Blue Ball Road Studio in Stewartstown PA), OHO in 2009 performed at the Frederick Winery and Coffee Company, a fund raiser at Howard County Community College for the Ulman Cancer Fund, the funeral of Mary Rowan, the Sykesville Farmer's Market,the Center for Spiritual Living in Timonium, Sharp Hall at Govans Presbyterian Church, The Lurman Outdoor Theater in Catonsville, The Unitarian Church on Franklin St. in downtown Baltimore & at various and sundry Open Mic's.

As we look back on 2009 we notice we managed to squeak successfully through another year. OHOmusic.com registered another modest yet again heartening yearly increase of 2409 additional hits in 2009.

The band's first CD/DVD dual disc remains available securely and at reasonable cost at the OHO website, www.CDBaby.com (along with UP and Dark Side's Odd Fellows on an Even Day) and at www.DGMLive.com (where The Best of Baltimore's Buried Bands II may still be purchased). To those fiscally challenged or otherwise yet reluctant to part with their $$$ due to an enduring economic entrenchment may we recommended browsing our vault where much of our music from the last 4 decades still remains available for FREE downloading.

12.04.09--The OHO team attempted a digital transfer of David's work on "Arclight" (both midi and wav files). As usual this continues to be problematic, likely having something to do with the "Hello, I'm a PC" vs."Hi, I'm a Mac." dichotomy, & the resulting friction that has been occurring from attempting to interface the two different operating systems. Still, we managed to get most of the drum set lined up to the existing audio tracks with only the incidental percussion remaining to be added...pretty snappy. Also borrowed El Sledge's bull horn to sing 3 verses of lyrics for one of the songs in the 2nd section of the Ahora! rock opera; the lyrical log jam has been broken.

12.17.09--I returned to the Bratt at 10:30 AM to execute parts 3 and 4 of section 2 of the acoustic guitar bed for the Ahora! suite....done and all within 5 hours. Picked it using one of my Mark Kostreba fossilized walrus ivory plectrums for a rounder sound on the "Deguello for Dolmis" ballad. Bill Pratt comments: "I think the basic guitar stuff is rockin!" Sounds like the entire suite will be around 40 minutes in duration. What's next to do? Again, we find there are still 52 cards in the deck and all we have to do is pick one. Will it be the ace of vocals or the knave of bass?

12.23.09--Jay & Matt perform again at The Frederick Winery. They were promised a weekend "gig" tentatively to be scheduled for early spring '10. We are contemplating inviting a number of the ladies who have helped in the past (Lisa, Jeniye, Kelly and yes, even Sue Ellen) to each sing 3 or 4 OHO tunes as a sort of celebration of that 1/4 century throughout which most songs by OHO were delivered by the female voice.

12.31.09--Final 2009 session at The Bratt Studio tidying up the final mix of "Arclight." Downloading 64 bit wav files of David's "You Are the One" to Bill's DAW, David's contribution to OHO's follow-up to Bricolage will likely be placed after Ahora! ala "A Day In the Life" from Sgt. Pepper's bringing the total time for the next album to just under 45 minutes.

(We now address the next KZMU/SHO OHO question from the 08/25/09 radio interview. This month we answer the query following the airing of Unyflow's cover version of "Just a Little" by The Beau Brummels)

6. "Just a Little" (3:39)--1979

(Ron Elliott)

Artist: Unyflow (pronounced "uni-flow," like the motor oil)

Release date: 1979

Label info: B side of 33 1/3 rpm, 7" ep release (Jive City Records JC-001)

Question: Did you have an underlying grudge against The Beau Brummels for giving this classic the "Saturday Night Fever" treatment?

I remember in 1965 predicting to the other members of the "kitchen gang" that The Beau Brummels would eventually surpass The Beatles in popularity as we washed & dried dishes after one evening meal at Brunnerdale Seminary in Canton, OH. I couldn't have been more wrong. But if "Laugh, Laugh," "You Tell Me Why" (which I still perform occasionally in my solo acoustic set) & "Just a Little," all penned by the late Ron Elliott, were more representative of the remainder of that band's material, perhaps this erroneous prediction would not seem as ridiculous as it now does.

Nevertheless, "Just a Little" was a favorite of mine. Hearing Nils Lofgren's version years later confirmed this for me. The proliferation of disco in the mid to late 70s and the emergence of current OHO drummer David Reeve, who loves to dance, set the stage for this "one-off" attempt at disco by another side-project band christened as Unyflow. So even if the resulting effect is that some feel this version of the Brummels' song to be sacrilegious, I can attest that the aim was for this to be an homage to one of my favorite 60s bands.

Unyflow: I won't run away

While I can't for the life of me remember the name of the lead guitarist for this project (but whoever he may be, he was a good lead player), the remaining members (aside form me, David and the Dark Side/Testone keyboardist) were Steve Simcoe on woodwinds/backing vocals and Chuck Gross on the bass.

This project is a significant highlight of our story as it marks the entry of David Reeve as the drummer we would rely on most from 1979 on and continuing into the present. My brother's enthusiasm having gradually waned over this time period to the point where he sold David his Ludwig drum set, Jeffrey handed him the baton and aside from alternating participation as drummer in our wedding band, Ful Treatment (a band that provided music for Joan's and my wedding reception on 09.10.77) with front man, the late Greg Marsh and still-very-much-ailve keyboardist, Ray Jozwiak, www.rayjozwiak.com), sporadic jam sessions and reunion performance appearances from then until his passing away in 1987, David took over the function of keeping the time, first for OHO, then Dark Side, then Ful Treatment followed by Food for Worms, then OHO again, then The Vulgarians, then St, Joseph's Ass, then OHO again.

The "A" side was an original of mine titled "I Won't Run Away" in which we interweaved a reworked section of OHO's "Tinker's Damn" from Vitamin OHO with some pretty lame "relationship" lyrics and a catchy verse melody. For the "B" side we covered the Beau Brummels hit, starting it off with a dangerously similar cop of the "Disco Inferno" opening riff.

I was often looking for opportunities to use the vibrato effect of my Music Man combo amp to color the sound of my candy apple red Fender Stratocaster to taste, and here was a perfect one. Both the amp and the Strat, along with some pedal effects, were later stolen out of my 76' Caribbean red Volvo sedan parked just outside The Marble Bar entrance after a 1981 Food for Worms performance there. (Fortunately David was my insurance agent and the comprehensive policy he sold me covered most of the cost of the stolen items. I was able to replace my equipment with a Roland JC-120 amp and the then current version of the Roland Guitar GR-300 synthesizer with the GR8 guitar controller that I coveted ever since being blown away by same in the capable hands of King Crimson's Adrian Belew and Robert Fripp during their performance on their "Discipline" tour that same year at The Painter's Mill Music Fair. By way of relevant footnote, the Roland VG-99 purchased this year includes a virtual version of the GR-300, used mostly during the 1982-84 period of Food for Worms, most notably on "It Needs a Haircut" and after. The Roland guitar controller had a nifty touch plate on the underside of the bridge humbucker which, when fingered, engaged a variable vibrato rate--very cool, especially for those of us whose ineptitude was revealed when attempting to approximate this effect manually.)

Anyway, David had that "disco beat" down and four of the other guys on the Unyflow team played out regularly in "club" bands at the time and were well-versed in the various executionary mechanics required to simulate the musical approach of songs of that genre then receiving radio airplay.

My thinking is that this (16 track) Sheffield Studio recording session took place in the Summer/Fall of 1979. I remember that, as with most of these projects, including the two Dark Side ep's, we limited ourselves to 2 sessions (due to the expense): one for recording, the 2nd for the mix. So we had to get it right (or very close to right) and quickly.

A distinguishing feature of this recording was the employment of DBX noise reduction (having taken over Dolby A by this time); and as these songs were rather long for the era (approaching 4 minutes each), the longer the tune, the closer the grooves on the vinyl record. Therefore, as I understood it then, the fidelity was compromised proportionally the more lengthy the groove. In compensation we decided that this 7" would spin at the 33 1/3 rpm speed and instructed that the discs be stamped with the smaller spindle hole like a standard 12" album. Jon Considine again stepped up to negotiate the graphics with a clever "map of Baltimore" design and with clock faces indicating the length of each track as its corresponding "time of day."

It was a fun session and the recordings turned out well enough. While we were unable to do much to promote the 45 then and since aside from again giving the records away, some of our families and friends found this music to be among some of our most accessible and enjoyable, a favorite remark designating the "coolness" of the bass/piano hook introducing the "A" side.

My hunch is that KZMU in August 2009 may have been the first radio station to have ever aired the Unyflow version of "Just a Little," and this is the very reason why I included it in the show...that it finally be heard by someone...anyone.

The only review of the "I Won't Run Away" b/w "Just a Little" 7 incher is by Fabio Nosotti from page 39 of the N.2 Gemalo 1981 edition of i'ultimo Buscadero (an Italian magazine costing 1.500 Lire in 1981) headlined as L'esplosione del Baltimore Sound!. Though it is written in the Italian language, I am keying it here as, if one persists, the general gist is revealed. Here it is: "Gli Unyflow sono una band meteora, nata per gioco con elementi degli Oho, Trixy & The Testones, Dark Side. II 45 risale al '79 per la Jive City, label sempre in relazione con la Gohog records. Gli Unyflow sono un gruppo che ogni tanto ama riformarsi per incidere qualche singolo. E' il caso di "Just a Little" vecchio hit di Ron Elliot e dei suoi Beau Brummels, qui rivistato adeguatamente con una ritmica convulsa; "I Won't Run Away" e invece una raffinata parodia alla musica disco, marcata Unyflow."

So these guys thought these recordings were parodies? I guess we were spared the adverse effects of any mockery withheld due to our reputation as smart-alecks, confident that there was no way this could be anything other than parody. Along this line were the following words about one particular Graboski-penned song from Food for Worms' The Ultimate Diet from Expose (page 71/07.01) reviewer, Sean McFee: "Humor abounds in this band's material...as in tracks such as "No One Said It'd Be Easy," which comes across as a suspiciously straight-faced pastiche of Springsteen." (Pastiche?)

Another interesting aspect of this project was that it signaled another fortunate instance when we received outsider financing. That is, SSA co-worker Scott Waldman, lent us the money to record these songs. Although we did eventually repay him, he was one of a brave few who believed enough in what we were doing to take this kind of small financial risk.

The aim has always been to have our projects financed by others whenever possible and to seek out opportunities where this would likely happen. Aside from huge chunks of studio time afforded us on speculation over the years, this also included things like landing slots on various compilation albums/Cd's. Examples during this time period were 1) having OHO's "Seldom Bought" (from Vitamin OHO) included on a 12" sampler of local area talent produced by station WKTK-FM (1978), 2) securing a slot for an edited version of Paul Rieger's 4-track recording of OHO's "Here Comes the Oysters" on Bomp's Waves Vol. 2 (1979), 3) Dark Side's "In the Dark" (another 4 track Paul Rieger recording) being placed on Battle of the Garages, 1980 Voxx Records (and later on CD in 1993) and 4) "It Needs a Haircut" by Food for Worms being selected as a track on 1982's 98 Rock LP ultimately leading to (via the impact of our self-financed video of "Haircut") an eventual verbal "signing" with Baltimore based label, Clean Cuts Records, a company that thereafter released OHO's acclaimed Rocktronics EP in the summer of 1984 (while this was a financial collaboration as far as the recordings that graced side 2 of this 12" EP, the tab for the Hit & Run studio sessions for the side one material, the actual manufacture of the disc, as well as any promotional expenses were all picked up by the label). Now that's what I'm talkin' about.

At a mid-month holiday party hosted by an old friend one ensuing conversation centered around the theme of how over the years many of our band mates, either unwittingly or in full knowledge, sabotaged many of our musical projects via deliberate action or passively by a refusal to act or by neglecting to do what needed to be done & could only be done by those individuals. It was of interest to note how the excuses offered, without pointing fingers or naming names, ranged from selfishness, fear of success and just plain laziness to the ignorance of youth and onto a crusty lack of enthusiasm plaguing many of our contemporaries due to the advance of linear time.

On the other hand, if any opportunity were to arise that might include the work of those who QUIT, my experience has been that upon the first whiff that there is something cooking in the kitchen, they are the first to stick their thumbs into the pie to see if there is any way for them to exploit this opportunity to their own personal advantage (something, I fear, they really don't know how to do). In other words, they were doing nothing on their end to arrange the psychic landscape/space-time continuum in order to encourage the occurrence of a miracle, yet hovered like entitled vultures to ingest the fruits of the labor of those of us remaining active to this purpose even though they had abandoned participation in the process decades prior..

I spoke of how, remembering when we held the CD release party at Gallery G for the two disc, 40 track Best of Baltimore's Buried Bands II set in 2003, there was an embarrassing turn out of representatives of the participating bands. One can only imagine the gravity of the pressing personal events that prevented these musicians and singers from shuffling their schedules in order that they be free to attend and support this Saturday afternoon event that celebrated and honored their musical legacies.

I found it suspiciously and discriminatingly convenient that for every stage of life there was a seemingly "appropriate" excuse for no or a half-hearted involvement, affording nonchalant explanations for the resulting and effectively destructive behavior, somehow meant to placate the immense and all-pervasive disappointment that those of us who soldiered on continue to bear in the form of a lingering, low grade, yet arguably justifiable resentment for all the precious time that was unnecessarily wasted ("sweet dreams and Time Machines in pieces on the ground"--James Taylor).

Obviously they did not know any better even though many regarded themselves as genii(i.e. although they were conveniently insulated from complicity in the mutinies by reason of ignorance and/or insanity), and though all are forgiven (although none to date have actually sought it), "the process of making amends involves many steps, not just apology. It entails experiencing sorrow, changing behavior, making reparations, seeking pardon from the wronged party and accepting responsibility for the harm caused others. It is possible to forgive someone for inappropriate behavior and still hold them accountable for their previous action." -Hamilton Beasley (psychologist). There have also been incidents involving recovered alcoholics/addicts who have confessed (although to others...not having the balls to admit this to us directly) to instances of their deliberate effrontery yet claim to have completed "12 Step" programs. (What about Step 9?) The transgression?: witless or deliberate conspiracy to assassinate/stifle a dream.

Anyway, I thought it odd that these folks chose to redirect their energies to negotiate the tedium of ordinary life (this redirection often triggered by a variety of some of the most ordinary yet inevitable life events--"It's the day to day living that wears you out."-Anton Chekov) in lieu of vying for the golden ring, a prize that I've always wondered would ever, by virtue of concerted and united effort, be earned or even offered. After all, it could always be refused upon its being offered; refused with the reassurance that we had proved ourselves qualified to enter into a rich and creative world where one's work is compensated commensurately, earning the privilege to do this type of work by virtue of an unwavering commitment and the quality of that work itself. Or perhaps there existed secret unconscious wishes to spend the better part of 30 years and more of one's lifetime as either a civil servant (ala Dostoevsky and Whitman), or a lawnmower (with images of that Selling England by the Pound cover art festooning the dusky beams of the unconscious), or a peddler of conduit (always looking for an opportunity to smoke from a, or better yet, to lay some pipe).

Current recommended reading: "the life and times of Brian Eno" biography, "On Some Faraway Beach" by David Sheppard. Indulge yourselves; so many similarities though without the streaming pecuniary remuneration that Mr. Eno obviously receives.

OHO & into the next decade with much enthusiasm!