The Return of Mojo Nixon, the Beat Farmers, plus assorted thoughts on politics, Kinky Friedman and country music

Mojo Nixon- the man!

Back in 2004, I was extremely bummed out when I heard that Mojo Nixon would be retiring FOREVER from live performances to focus on his new career as a disc jockey for Sirius Satellite Radio. Back when I was attending college, Mojo Nixon was the perfect tonic to the manufactured schlock of the ’80s- all the silly haircut bands that seemed to be more occupied with their image and dance moves, rather than the music itself. Mojo represented a bold break from all of the posers, using his insane hillbilly bastard persona to deliver euphoric foot-stomping rhythm and blues with a massive overload of gut-tickling satire. I mean, here was a guy that you KNEW ate, drank, slept and breathed the finest elements of the American pop cultural scream dream as personified by Elvis Presley, Howlin’ Wolf, Johnny Cash, James Brown, Little Richard, and that ever subversive bastion of American parody- MAD magazine!

Mojo’s big hit was a little ditty called “Elvis is Everywhere,” which was about the King of Rock whose legacy would never die. Mojo had a really wild repertoire, writing unforgettable songs about MTV, Nascar legend Richard Petty, McDonalds, MTV VJ Martha Quinn, teen queen Debbie Gibson, billionaire music executives, Don Henley of the Eagles, and real music that wasn’t made with synthesizers. One of the most entertaining shows I ever saw in my life was the “Pleasure Barons” tour featuring Mojo Nixon with a cavalcade of alt-rock-Americana-roots-musicians like Country Dick Montana of the Beat Farmers, Dave Alvin, John Doe of X, Rosie Flores and others, all gathered together to do the greatest celebration I’ve seen of classic Las Vegas music. If anyone can find me a decent videotape of this tour, I’ll be one extremely happy mo-fo!

Quite a few years ago, I did an interview with Mojo Nixon for THE MEANING OF LOUIE documentary. Mojo Nixon actually wrote a song called “Christmas Christmas” that was a blatant rip-off of LOUIE LOUIE, and he was very upfront about doing so. I believe he gave all song credits to Richard Berry, and offered to drive down to Richard’s house to give him whatever royalties he might have made off this thing.

Mojo’s had his fingers in a lot of pots- appearing in some wonderful crappy B movies, doing an album with San Francisco punk meister Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys, even worked with Richard Berry on a (ex-Beat Farmer) Buddy Blue album entitled “Guttersnipes And Zealots.”

Unfortunately, I do believe Mojo was hit hard by the death of his friend Country Dick Montana, who died of a heart attack onstage with the Beat Farmers in Canada in 1995. Actually, EVERYONE that knew Country Dick was devasted by his death. He seemed like one of those indestructable beings that could never die! Shows with the Beat Famers were legendary, as Dick was a giant of a man with a thundering low voice, a bigger-than-life personality, and an unforgettable stage prescence. After Dick’s death, Mojo seemed distant, and so many of his shows lacked the passion and enthusiasm that were so damned infectious in the past.

I was seriously saddened when this great musical jester decided to call it a day, but I understood that sometimes you can’t force things if it’s not really fun anymore. If Mojo Nixon wasn’t having fun being Mojo Nixon, what’s the point of being Mojo?

So this past weekend, by some odd chance, I stumbed across an archival live recording of the Beat Farmers, and decided to do some Google-dancing to see if any ambitious soul created some kind of setlist database like something on eTree.org, or if there was any type of trading circle that documented all the known songs for the unofficial Beat Farmers recording that was given to me. I didn’t find the setlist for this show, but I did find something else far more interesting:

1) THE BEAT FARMERS ARE BACK AS “THE FARMERS” featuring original members Buddy Blue and Jerry Raney. There’s also an official BeatFarmers.com website AND a vintage 1983 recording featuring Country Dick Montana has just been released legitimately!

2) MOJO NIXON ANNOUNCES COMEBACK TOUR IN SUPPORT OF KINKY FRIEDMAN FOR GOVERNOR OF TEXAS!, according to the official MojoNixon.com website!

Hearing that Mojo Nixon is back to being a musical performer again is a dream come true. I do appreciate that Mojo hosts a great radio show I’ve never heard on Outlaw Country Channel 63 six days a week. I also think it’s fantastic that he also has a weekly political review show on Sirius Stars Channel 104 called “Lying C**k*****rs,” which speaks the truth that very few broadcasters are willing to address.

I am quite tickled that Mojo Nixon has decided to return to musical performing for the cause of a better government in this often-more-divided-than-United States of America. To me, Kinky Friedman represents the type of politics well worth supporting. It’s the type of politics that cuts to the root of the B*LLSH*T and demands accountability of the government, for the people, by the people. Like Mojo, Kinky is armed with a powerful sense of humor that is both outrageous and acutely honest. If you watch a Kinky Friendman television commercial, you’ll see the kind of campaign he’s running- irreverent, entertaining, and infinitely more substantial than the usual poltical nonesense. Kinky’s big slogan is “Clean Energy and Clean Government,” which is what we desperately need in this country. If we can start in Texas, it’s a great first step…

So welcome back, Mojo Nixon! We missed ya!

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This past weekend we lost a couple of great Country Western legends.

Buck Owens was a superstar in the Country Western universe. A great singer-songwriter that gave Johnny Cash, George Jones, and Charlie Rich some serious competition for the category of “best male country vocalist.” A wonderful showman whose charisma was magnified up-close for millions of viewers with the ultra-successful Hee Haw television program. An excellent talent who along with Gary S. Paxton and Merle Haggard, brought greater recognition to Bakersfield as California’s answer to Nashville for county western musical entertainment. Buck Owens was all this and much more….

Cindy Walker

Cindy Walker was another great talent in the Country Western genre that we lost this weekend. Two years ago, I didn’t know who she was until my pal Myke Destiny of Cracked Piston Recordings turned me onto a DVD of her rare performances in some “soundies” from the Steve Hathaway Western Swing film archives. As I read her obituaries this weekend, I discovered that she was a charter member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970 and was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1997. I had no idea that she wrote “Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream),” a song made famous by Roy Orbison. Glen Campbell, Ricky Skaggs, Ray Charles, Lacy J. Dalton, Riders in the Sky, Mickey Gilley, and Merle Haggard were all performers that sang songs by Cindy Williams. As turns out, Willie Nelson’s latest album is a collection of songs all written by this super-talented songwriter, released just this month!

Once again, another great musician gets more attention….(sigh)… after they’re gone. Typical, huh?….

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One thing that’s rarely mentioned is that Richard Berry, author of LOUIE LOUIE, was a major fan of country western music. He grew up in a household with a radio tuned into a lot of Bob Willis, Ernest Tubb, and Jimmie Davies. In fact, LOUIE LOUIE was originally released as the B-side of his recording of a country western classic. “You Are My Sunshine,” a song written by Louisiana governor Jimmie Davies, was a favorite song of Richard’s mom, and Richard did an arrangement that turned it into a doo-wop style vocal harmony.

Years later, Richard’s ex-wife, Dorothy Berry joined Ray Charles’s group, which recorded another version of the Jimmie Davies classic, bringing the circle of the LOUIE LOUIE universe into yet another parallel and often-intersecting loop…..

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THURSDAY NIGHT UPDATE:
Myke Destiny, the man who introduced me to the music of Cindy Walker, just posted THREE VINTAGE FILM CLIPS of CINDY WALER over at YouTube. Check it out!

2 comments to The Return of Mojo Nixon, the Beat Farmers, plus assorted thoughts on politics, Kinky Friedman and country music

  • I just luv your blog TajaC

  • Dann Reitsma

    Elvis is still the King. Although he was already dead considering that 1977, his music still sounds extremely fresh and modern. His legendary songs can hear it once again and yet again. It is so lousy that a lot of talented men and women have large problems in authentic life. Elvis may be the ideal!

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