Field Reportings from Issue #8
OOPS: The “Ten Second News” column in ND #6 (Nov.-Dec. ’96) mistakenly identified the Bloomington, Indiana, studio where Son Volt recorded its upcoming album Straightaways as Pachyderm. ECHO PARK STUDIO was in fact the site of the recording; Pachyderm is in Minneapolis….
Now here’s a novel idea: a correction to something in this issue. You may notice in the “Comp List” compilations review section that a review of the Bubbahey Mudtruck disc credits the song “TULSA COUNTY” to Joe Tex. It was actually written by Roger McGuinn….
Finally: Danny Baker, aka UNKNOWN HINSON, profiled in the Town & Country section of ND #4 (Summer ’96), contacted the story’s writer, Scott Aiges, in response to the story’s statement that Baker created the fictional Hinson character as “a murderin’, chauvinist, pedophile, vampire chart-topper.” Apparently the nonexistent Mr. Unknown flatly denies any charges of pedophilia, real or imaginary (though he has no qualms with the other assertions). “That’s just a taboo subject that we’re all appalled by,” Baker/Hinson told Aiges. “It’s weird humor, but you just don’t go there.”
Found: BILLY FAIER
A few days after the last issue of No Depression began arriving on doorsteps, the New York writer Cree McCree called. “Do you want Billy Faier’s phone number?” she asked, almost as if it were nothing, as if his music hadn’t been an ongoing search since I began seriously to collect records in 1977. “Oh, I’ve known Billy at least 10 years.”
It took a day to screw up the courage to call. Billy Faier, it turns out, lives in upstate New York, where he still makes music, on banjo and on piano. He is somewhat surprised to find anyone remembers the two records he recorded for Riverside in 1957 and 1958, much less someone who was born after.
Well, what have you been doing?
“Life!” he answers, and chuckles.
Happily, Faier has made those two Riverside releases (The Art of the Five String Banjo and Travelin’ Man) available on one cassette, though they sound as if they were taped from a good copy of the record. A second cassette of newer work, Banjos, Birdsong, & Mother Earth, on which he is accompanied by Gilles Malkine and John Sebastian, is also available.
Both are highly recommended. Send $10 per tape to Billy Faier, Box 56, Lake Hill, NY 12448.
A footnote. Faier recorded “The Hell Bound Train”, a cowboy morality play, on Travelin’ Man. The song evidently exists as lyrics somewhere, but each version supplies a new melody. (It’s also a Love & Rockets B-side, for example.) Faier’s version is particularly potent, and served to keep me from drink until I was 18. Interviewing the Bad Livers’ Danny Barnes for this issue, I naturally asked him about Faier and he directed me toward a different version of that song, titled “Downbound Train,” on Steve James’ recently released Art and Grit (Discovery).
Barnes, it turns out, engineered much of James’ record. He and fellow Liver Mark Rubin also play on much of it.
So much for those degrees of separation. Incidentally, I’d still love to find the vinyl.
Of course these things never end. Walter Cryderman writes — from the same Post Office in Seattle used by No Depression, coincidentally — that he has a 1973 album on John Fahey’s Takoma label entitled Billy Faier…Banjo. Which ties in with something journalist Byron Cooley said at a record swap meet in Austin years ago; Cooley rediscovered Fahey in Salem, Oregon.
Find: THIN WHITE ROPE
I’m curious as to the goings-on of the Thin White Rope fellers. Anybody know? Appreciate any info.
(Over the course of the past few issues, our “Find That Band” notice — begun rather as a lark in ND #4 in response to a letter asking about a group called Jon Wayne — has since handily unearthed seemingly hidden information about Jon Wayne, the Romans, Souled American and Billy Faier.)