The Drag City Newsletter December 15, 2009

posted December 15th, 2009


Hey, hello again and welcome back for the very last time to the Drag City Newsletter. The last time for 2009, that is – unless you expect us to squeeze another couple of releases into this last half month here. We wouldn’t put it past ourselves, actually – the new Drag City (and Sea Note) releases that come out today mark the fourteenth release date this calendar year. That’s right, we stayed busy during The Year the Music Died a Little More by having more release dates than we’ve had…well Hell, ever! It made selling fewer CDs (and more LPs! -- half-full-of-ourselves ed.) than ever a little easier to ignore. Plus, we have a tradition of standing on the verge of backwards logic. It’s helped us get it on so many times before over the course of our gut-busting twenty years of putting out records, CDs, cassettes, books, magazines, DVDs, downloads and yes, occasionally just a t-shirt!

But enough about the state of us! What’s new?


Just in time for the first Christmas we can remember where we were asked NOT to give gifts, we’ve got some highly giveable new vinyl products on the shelf! Like for instance, Bonny Billy and the Picket Line. For his second time around on Sea Note (third if you count the rare, mostly-rumored Silver Palace single), Bonny is alive once again, performing in the company of Louisville’s grinning pickers The Picket Line, whose acoustic instrumentalization and hale harmonizations are the toast of Funtown! Where’s Funtown, you ask? Well, it’s a woodsy area on the outskirts of town, a lazy, hazy summertime getaway, with a meadow and a lake and lots of trees and a cabin and a stinky outhouse. There in the middle of the field is a platform of sorts, you might even call it a stage. This is where Bonny Billy and the Picket Line made their stand. They had enough fun there that they made a couple more stands, and once they’d played a few more gigs before going their separate ways, they all agreed that a recorded document of the fun they had would be the best way to remember it (since everyone tended to drink and trip a lot during their shows). But after the fact, how to do it? Buy Funtown Comedown and find out how they did. Covered in the process are a dozen great Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy songs along with one classic each from Merle Haggard and Ralph Stanley. It’s a ton of fun and a delightful vinyl-only experience. Well, that’s not entirely true - Funtown Comedown is also available for purchase as a download here on the Drag City website exclusively. As a matter of fact, it’s the only way to get to Funtown from Drag City - we’ve sold the vinyl out! Don’t worry, it’s in stores right now - stores that got a clue. And how many of those do you know?

Also a part of our vinyl release date are the three Bert Jansch Charisma reissues we put out on CD a few months back. We finally got the vinyl packages together and they’re all super-fine. All three of the releases – L.A. Turnaround, Santa Barbara Honeymoon and A Rare Conundrum – come with a CD of the bonus materials so as not to disturb their original two-sided magic, as well as all aspects of original packaging and all aspects of the reissue package (a few extra photos and liner notes, all told). They look and sound great! The collector’s items of the future are once again, the collector’s items from the past.


Simply put, live longer! The longer you’re on this planet, the longer you have to hoard the sounds that you love. You can’t take ‘em with you, but perhaps they’ll somehow edify your soul and provoke you into coming back as a beautiful bird of prey next time - or a tree! They have very long, peaceful lives. Now, we’re not here to tell you how to live…wait a minute, yes we are! As sure as we’ve got a regimen of records to prescribe to your ailing ears, we’ve also got a thought or two on how to go the distance in the best shape you can manage. Lesson one: speak softly, carry a big blunt and go forth gingerly!

Ginger root has long been regarded as an extremely effective way to alleviate symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. In herbal medicine, ginger is regarded as an excellent carminative (a substance which promotes the elimination of intestinal gas (and all the hilarity that goes with it, unfortunately) and intestinal spasmolytic (a substance which relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract -- nothing funny about that, dumbshit). Western scientific research has determined that ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, and direct anti-inflammatory effects. Yeah, ginger’s a motherfucker, who knew? Use it for (occasionally literal) shit such as: nausea and the nausea of pregnancy and travel sickness; wind, colic and irritable bowel; chills, cold, flu and poor circulation; menstrual cramps; dyspepsia (bloating, heartburn, flatulence); indigestion; to improve circulation; gastrointestinal problems such as gas or stomach cramps; and to lower cholesterol. Best to juice it, and the discarded pulp will make your trash can smell like a Thai massage parlor. Not that we know of such things. But we do endorse them. If they exist.

Always choose fresh ginger: it is not only superior in flavor, but contains higher levels of gingerol as well as ginger’s active protease (its anti-inflammatory compound). Fresh ginger root is sold in the produce section of markets. When purchasing fresh ginger root, make sure it is firm, smooth and free of mold. And dirt. And feces – if you’re anything like us. you’ve had enough feces in your life.

Whenever possible, try to take the ginger orally. The masochists among you might have other ideas, and we endorse them as well. If they exist. Turn up the heat while cooling off by making ginger lemonade. Simply combine freshly grated ginger, lemon juice, cane juice or honey and water. Or if you want to stop being a pussy and take charge of your life, have a wellness shot, as prescribed by The Vitamin Barn in Malibu (, here is their recipe:

Wellness Shot
“¢ [½ oz. fresh-pressed ginger
“¢ 10 drops California natural wild oregano oil
“¢ 30 drops kyolic aged garlic extract
“¢ [¼ oz. lemon juice
“¢ Shake well and serve in a shot glass

And may the good listening be yours!


Bill Callahan! Neil Hamburger! Lights! Monotonix! Magik Markers! OM! Joanna Newsom in Australia! David Grubbs in Japan! This year and next year! Would you expect any less?


The road to hell’s paved with ‘em, and since we’re not going anywhere but down (we only mean that sexually, and we don’t mean that to imply there is a meaning other than sexual there, or here, or anywhere), we’ve got big plans for the new year. At the moment, it only involves twelve release dates (back to the boring old once-a-month prototype), but they’ll all be packed with potentially recession-proof music etc productions! Like for instance, in January, we’ve got the new full-length album from Scout Niblett. Shadowed by the hell-hound herself, Scout’s got a desire to live right, even if she’s got to burn all the evil out of her soul. That’s her cue to start singing, and once she does, you won’t know where you are anymore. Check out the title track from her new album currently available as a preview elsewhere on this very site! Also in January, The Red Krayola with Art & Language return with an album for the history buff in you – Five American Portraits. Looking very closely at five socio-political figures of the 20th Century, Mayo Thompson and co (including, for the first time since Kangaroo?, The Raincoats’ Gina Birch) have produced a colorful, confounding album that we’re already sure is one of the most memorable and controversial albums not just of 2010, but of any year. It’s just that weird. January 19, 2010: be there! Also on this date with Scout and The Red Krayola with Art & Language come the new album from Major Stars, another piledriver in the tradition of Mirror/Messenger – triple-guitar pop songs with jams on the side and leather-lunged howling on top. But that’s not enough – and it’s not all. January is also the month of Royal Trux reissues. This year, the record coming back from the grave is their deathless third album, a masterpiece titled untitled. The vinyl will be back on the shelves for the first time since 1994. Plus, CDs! And – cassettes! Don’t miss out on this epoch-influencing album, streaking back through the skies like Haley’s rocket.


And then in February, we’ve got Louisville punk legends The Endtables, in retrospect! Archival Michael Yonkers courtesy of Galactic Zoo Disks! And more…more than you could possibly imagine!


Know that it’s actually OK to feel good about spending money on music, and know that feeling comes from knowing that you are not only getting a physical manifestation of joy (that would be a record or CD, kids), but you are also -- LITERALLY -- supporting in a way that keeps this whole thing going, and keeps the music compelling at its worst, confounding at its best (yes, that’s a good thing). Certainly, anyone who’s ever bought cocaine or taken holy communion knows exactly what we’re sayin’ here. And by our math, that’s most of Earth as we know it. Also, please buy our math!

More on that later,

Rian Murphy Drag City Inc. December 2009