JoeSimonGetDownMusic is an enigma. Some songs need to grow on you. Other songs hit you right in the feels. I've been listening to music in all my life. The object of my desire has shifted over time. Today, it's gothic country music. 40 years ago it was soul music. I blame my then girlfriend. She loved soul music in any way, shape or form. And, I mean - all - soul music. She didn't like ranking or lists. If you held a gun to her head she would eventually submit and confess that Stevie Wonder's "Songs in the Key of Life" was her favourite album. To her many fine qualities you could add great musical taste. One Saturday night - it must have been around 1980 - we were listening to the radio program "Soul Corner". The program leader Mats Nileskär signed off "It Be's That Way Sometimes" with Joe Simon. The lyrics resonated with me. "Have you ever, have you ever loved somebody / that didn’t love you / It’s hard, it’s hard / And that somebody, that somebody you love / Loves someone else, too / And that pain is so hard to bare / Have you ever been down and out / felt just like you was about to lose your mind / Oh-o, it be's that way sometimes". The song blow me away. I memorized the artist and song title. Another blow came when she broke up with me. Down and out. The lyrics got a new and deeper meaning. I was determined to get a hold of the album. It would turn out to be a difficult task. 


Joe Simon's complete catalogue wasn't available in Swedish record stores. It was hard to find one of his album. The strategy was to ask and seek (this was long before internet). My efforts were fruitless. Most record stores had never heard of him. A ray of hope was lit when I visited "Black Wax Records" in Uppsala in the mid 1980s. At the time, they specialized in soul music. The record store was run by two finnish men. Without any illusions I asked if they, by any chance, knew about the album. The authoritative answer from one of the owners surprised me: "Yes, I have it at home" . Time stood still. The search was over. "Eh, what's the title of the album?", I asked. He replied (vaguely), "I have it at home". I thought that he just didn't remember the title off-the-cuff. "Maybe you could check the album title and I could come back later this week?", I asked. He replied (untrustworthy), "I have it at home". Then I realized that there was no album at home. "I have it at home" (always delivered with an exaggerated finnish accent) quickly became an internal joke for failure to deliver in my circle of acquaintances. I pursued my ask-and-seek strategy. The Bible has comforting words to help you cope. "For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth" (KJV, of course). In the beginning of the 1990s, I found the album at Mega in Stockholm which was Northern Europe's largest record store at the time. Reliving music from the past is associated with high risk. For me, it's 1 or 0. Either, this music is so good or how could I ever listened to this piece of crap. However, the song "It Be's That Way Sometimes" stood the test of time. Listen and weep. A disclaimer, skip the long intro and start listening from 1,35 minutes into the song. The cd is now safely placed in my record shelves. I have it at home. Home at last. 

Jarlateatern 800Until recently, I was convinced of that I attended a concert in 1975 with the british rock band UFO. I have made presumptuous remarks that I - indeed - was there at Jarlateatern (Stockholm) when it happened. The only problem is that UFO never played there. This was a real blow for a person who thinks that he has a good memory and attention to details. I stumbled over the true circumstances when I did some fact-checking for an upcoming blog entry. These are the facts. UFO played at Johanneshov Isstadion (1975) and at Göta Lejon (1977), read more at the site (opens in a new window). I also cross-checked the time and place with UFO fan pages. The result: no UFO, at Jarlateatern, ever. I must have got it all wrong. But, this memory wasn't just wrong. This was false. False memory refers to cases in which people remember events differently from the way they happened or, even, remember events that never happened at all. The painful mistake made me confused and frustrated. I'm 100 percent sure of attending a concert at Jarlateatern. The year and place checks out, but obviously not the band. This is what (I think) I remember. We went to Stockholm to attend the concert. We had no tickets and no money to buy tickets. I don’t recall what the plan was. Still, we went in a risky undertaking. The only risk was to return home empty-handed. We got to the venue and stood outside. It was very cold that night. The gig started. We naively tried to convince the security guards to let us in for free. They just laughed at us. We argued, nagged and begged. Then we humiliated ourselves. Please, please, please mr security guard! Couldn't you find it in your heart to let us in? After a while, they felt sorry or got tired of us. They let us in without a ticket. If my memory serves me well (not sure), we ran to the balcony. Standing, not seated. The band was halfway through their set. But, what band? There are two candidates, Thin Lizzy and the Swedish hard rock band Neon Rose, read more here (opens in a new window). A short disgression about Neon Rose. My classmate (we can call him Carl) had in another context got an autograph from the bassist Benno Mengarelli (who passed away last year) on his home-sewn anorak. His sacrificial mother used her embroidery skills to fill in the ink. However, some doubts were cast upon the authenticity of the autograph. Carl had namely a problem explaining how and when he got the autograph. Some friends thought that he had signed it himself (very unlikely since he had an illegible handwriting) and nick-named him "Forger-Carl". Well, he was known for questionable actions and dubious moral. For example, he stole his little brother's Frank Zappa records and sold them. And then denied to have anything to do with the matter. These actions requires an unscrupulous character. Back to the question: what band? I think it was a foreign band. This speaks in favour of Thin Lizzy. But, I don't think this is right. I attended their concert at Konserthuset in Stockholm 1976. This time we had tickets and good seats. I also got Instamatic pictures. It's very unlikely (but, not impossible) that I saw them again within a year. Therefore, it must have been Neon Rose. This was also their last concert. If that is the case, Neon Rose beats UFO every day of the week. However, I can not vouch for this event. I wish I could call one of the guys that were with me that night. Not possible. Actually, we were not really friends. I only remember one guy. His name was Thomas and he was a talented hockey player, at least when we played on asphalt (never saw him on skates). We used to play until it got so dark that we didn't see a thing. I think I just have to leave the matter, whether it was Thin Lizzy or Neon Rose, for the moment. Maybe it will all come back to me at the retirement home. I will shout out loud. My dentist had their dental surgery at Jarlateatern for a couple of years. Life is strange. At one time, you are young desperately trying to get in to a rock concert. Another time, you are old and the dental hygienist asks if you ever considered teeth whitening. Same person. Same place. Different times. One of my projects is to reconstruct my concert going in the 1970s. I got some old tickets, photos and memories. It's like putting together the Dead Sea Scrolls. Tickets and photos are hard facts. Memory is profoundly more difficult. It obviously plays tricks.         

skrietThe setting: The year is 1985. A shabby, but absolute not chic, dorm in Uppsala. Known for its old university founded in 1477. Also known for its student nations, read more here (opens in a new window). A stripped dorm room equipped only with the bare essentials. There it is. A hifi system with a CD player. Needless to say, I got impressed. At the time, a CD player was nearly science fiction; a laser reading 0 and 1. This was unbelievable. No more scratches and hissing. The cd player belonged to my friend Mikael, site architect and web analysts. Back then, he used to test the patience of other students by playing "p: Machinery" by German synthpop group Propaganda on maximum volume (it was the 1980s). I wasn't ready for a cd player. I held on to my Thorens turntable. It wasn't until 1990 that I bought my first cd player. It felt 100 percent safe. I would never have to change format again. This was the future. Anyway, that's what I thought. Twelve years later, in 2002, cd sales peaked and then fell rapidly. In the Sweden cd sales literally plummeted. In fact, a decline of biblical proportions. In 2019 total cd sales revenues was only 55,6 million SEK (6,3 million dollars). CD sales fell with 27 percent compared with the previous year. CD sales was 3,5 percent of total music revenues (same as vinyl). I like cd and I'm too old to change format. Also, I'm too old for despair. I will go under with the ship. And, you will pry my cds out of my cold, dead and decomposed hands.   


olfactorybulb 548To sing one's own praise isn't a good quality, but I think I know what I'm doing - if not professionally - then running this site. My core competence is to sniff out the best and brightest (that means darkest) artists and bands in the gothic country genre. In fact, I'm olfactive like a truffle hog. This is a nice property since you have to root around a lot to find something of value. Olfaction, or the sense of smell, is the process of creating the perception of smell. It's technical, but it boils down to a bulb. The olfactory bulb is a neural structure of the vertebrate forebrain involved in the sense of smell. It sends information to be further processed in the amygdala, the orbitofrontal cortex and the hippocampus where it plays a role in emotion, memory and learning. I can tell fragrance from stench and everything in between. However, self-glorification should always be avoided. A couple a weeks ago I climbed down from my pedestal. Maybe, there were still bands and artists out there waiting to be found? And maybe, there were bands and artists that I have overlooked. For a moment I felt open and joined a Facebook-group dedicated to my kind of music. I left the group after a short time. Disappointed, to say the least. "There is nothing for you here, only death". Well, not even death was present. Instead, I was faced with a lack of knowledge, meaning and, last but not least, taste. I felt an urge to become the administrator. Maybe then, five percent of the content would slip through my iron hand. I quickly snapped out of my openness. It feels good to be back in the role as the high priest and chief exponent of the genre. This makes me even more stubborn and unforgiven. Olfactory refractory is my diagnosis.    

Southern Gothic picture 2020The Southern Gothic Campout 2020 wasn't pronounced dead at the scene. Just cancelled. In terms of substance, it's nearly the same thing. The cause for cancellation wasn't a potential risk of overcrowding. Too many people in the middle of nowhere in Adams, TN has never posed a problem for the arranger. The attendance figure was circa 100 in 2017 and tickets were limited to 300 in 2019. On June 26th the arranger wrote on their Facebook page: "This event has finally succumbed to the cold icy grip of the Covid-19 virus. Our 2 headliners have canceled their tours for 2020. Slim Cessna's Auto Club and Munly & The Lupercalians have pushed their performance to the 2021 Southern Gothic Campout. You may use your ticket for any other Muddy Roots event through 2022." When the headliners are gone, everything else falls apart. The SGC music festival was supposed to become a tradition this year since thrice is a tradition. Covid-19 has led to a downfall for many sectors. For musicians, however, the pandemic have had the same effect as when you put an icehockey-stick through the spokes of a bicycle. Sudden and total stop. Nobody knows if, when and how things are going to start up again. The maximum number of people allowed at a public event in Sweden is limited to 50 since March 2020. The restriction applies to events such as concerts, conferences, and sports matches, but not to private events such as parties or weddings, or in places like schools, workplaces or shopping centres. The Swedish Government declared on August 24th that the limit on public events would remain, but that it is looking into granting exceptions for seated events. The Public Health Agency of Sweden has recently suggested a limit of 500 people for seated events and 1 meter (40 inches) between attendants. This is good, but 500 people in a 3000 people venue will not make ends meet. Someone has to pay for the 2500 empty seats. Maybe, the Government has a plan. Southern Gothic Campout is a great initiative. It would be very unfortunate if the dark roots music festival never became a tradition. We need traditions. They contribute to a sense of belonging and meaningfulness. And we need to belong to something and things must have a meaning. Otherwise, we might as well be dead. 

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