By Roy Kasten
By Kris Wernowsky
By Chaz Kangas
By Joseph Hess
By Julie Seabaugh
By Mike Appelstein
By Rachel Brodsky
By Kelsey McClure
OK, we'll shut up about the RFT Music Awards already, we swear, but indulge us one last time. The awards ceremony, last week at the Pageant, was a blast. It wasn't perfect, of course. Some outspoken members of the Honkeys' entourage (let's call 'em Honkey Harlots, for the sake of alliteration) screamed witticisms such as "You suck!" and "Honkeys!" at regular intervals during the proceedings; their heckling seemed good-natured enough (if ear-splitting), but we fear the Honkey Harlots, in their enthusiasm for all things Honkey, may have inadvertently injured some delicate feelings along the way. (Rumors about associated backstage tantrums could not be verified, but they seem plausible enough.) And despite repeated assurances from the PR flack for the St. Lunatics ("The RFT Music Awards is just as important to Nelly as the Grammys," she lied politely), no one from their camp -- not even Kyjuan or Slo-Down! -- showed up to collect the two awards they won. Fortunately, Charlie Chan Soprano, Best Rap/Hip-Hop DJ winner, graciously accepted the awards on their behalf. (Toya and Grandpa's Ghostdidn't show, either -- we can't remember who represented Toya, but a very Aladdin Sane-era Tory Z. Starbuck gave Grandpa's Ghost's award to a grateful rubber chicken.)
But our motto at Radar Station is, as always, "Keep on the sunny side," and many more things went right than wrong at the awards ceremony. Man of the hour Charlie Chan Soprano would get our vote for prom king if such a thing existed. Accompanied by fellow RFTMA nominee DJ K-9, Chan Soprano opened the proceedings with a mind-blowing set of primo turntablism. We've heard a few dumb-ass remarks about how boring it is to watch a couple of dudes play records for an hour, but no one who actually paid attention to these guys could have failed to be dazzled by their tender ministrations to the ones and twos, their graceful cutting and precise but furious scratching. We can't say it better than our friend Bryan Hollerbach, who e-mailed us the following appreciation the next day: "At one point -- at the risk of sounding fey as hell -- in watching the long, thin hands of [K-9] flutter and flit about the turntables and phonographs, as delicate yet decisive as hungry hummingbirds, I said to myself, "That's beautiful!"
There were many, many beautiful moments, in fact, and it pains us that we can't recount them all. Personal highlights include the Urban Jazz Naturals' amazing set, which actually got people dancing and earned accolades from dyed-in-the-wool dirt-rockers and hip-hop heads alike; the Trip Daddys' over-the-top psychobilly antics; Jay Farrar's five-word thank-you speech (as a waggish pal pointed out, that's practically filibustering for him!); a leashed Fred Friction -- gently pulled onstage by his "hetero life-partner," Paul Stark -- who presented a handmade award to the Bottle Rockets for "Best Roots of Marijuana," officially known as "Best Roots/Americana"; Tim Mize and Matt Myers, who announced the Best Punk winners in full Ramones regalia; and, of course, the unflappable Ken Krueger, the evening's emcee.
Perhaps most gratifying, no one dumped a bucket of pig's blood on Radar Station when we presented the award for Best New Artist.
On May 25, at Lo, Best Rap/Hip-Hop DJ nominee Mike 2600 and his musical compadre Doug Surreal (both of the beloved local crew the Litterthugz) celebrate the release of their mysteriously titled twelve-inch single "T.A.B.L.A.M.F.C.B." Mike won't tell us much about the abbreviation besides "It would offend the average reader" and "It's more exciting if you just buy the record and find out," but we suspect that it contains some of Radar Station's very favorite cuss words. The song itself, which we downloaded from Mike's Web site (www.twelvecarpileup.com), is fantastic: thick, sleazy and propulsive -- a "larger-than-life jeep-beat romp," as the Web blurb charmingly puts it.
"It's DJ-based music," Mike 2600 explains. "It's heavy, deep-beat music, a collage of beats -- very scratch-oriented, but not like a current DJ-masturbating song, which a lot of scratch songs kind of turn into. It's sort of taking the focus back to the instrumentation, making hip-hop about music and not so much about words and rapping. The only actual hip-hop albums we sampled were for some of the vocals, some of the little phrases that we cut in, but all the beats come from funk and rock and jazz records. We used a pretty broad range of sources -- I don't want to incriminate us, but there's literally something like 60 samples on this record."
Mike 2600 and Doug Surreal will simply spin all night at Lo; the next night, when they throw down at the Galaxy as part of the stellar Beatfest lineup, they'll perform more or less live. "Doug will be bringing out his keyboard and computer, and I'll be layering turntable stuff on top of what he's doing," Mike promises. "It's a pretty good balance between actual live turntable music and the computer edits and all the effects that Doug does."
On May 23, the freakishly beautiful Columbus, Ohio, outfit the Lackbrings its industrial-strength electropunk to the Way Out Club. Recently cited by NMEas one of the top 100 bands to know, the Lack shares the bill with the legendary Flying Luttenbachers.
Amy Rigbyperforms her pop/folk songs at Off Broadway on May 24. Her latest CD, 18 Again(Koch), is an excellent introduction to one of the most criminally underrated singer/songwriters around.