september 2009

Hahavishnu Returns!
Darryl Rhodes assembles mates for a must-see one-night stand in Atlanta this month, promises 'preaching, baptizing, healings, snake handling and rodeo songs...just like in church'

Darryl Rhodes, chief provocateur of legendary '70s rockers The Hahavishnu Orchestra, is re-assembling the band for a one-night-only stand ("celebration," as Rhodes calls it) at Atlanta's Variety Playhouse on September 12. In addition to some Hahavishnu classics, the estimated 27-song repertoire will include numbers from Rhodes's kickass new album, Weapons of Mass Deception. Rhodes recently checked in with and gave us all the details of the show, which he promises will include "some preaching, baptizing, healings, snake handling and rodeo songs...just like in church." So here, in Rhodes's own words, is the lowdown on what's about to come down in Atlanta.

"I'm currently working on a one man play about addictions called 'Alcoholicaust,' a title I also used on a spoken word piece on the Weapons CD. While doing this I continue putting notes together for a book I'm writing about touring in the '70s called 'If I haven't offended you...I'm sorry.' That title works in whatever decade you care to reference. George Carlin said once that he never got upset about current trends because it's just a pendulum swinging. I can't take such a laid back approach. Not only do I see the pendulum swing...I want to push it up a few people's asses.

"The decision to do this 'reunion,' or a celebration, as I'd rather refer to it, is my undying need to shake things up in my life and anyone else's that gets too close to it.

"The battles I fought 30-plus years ago are the same ones I fight now. The planet is full of people who like to insinuate themselves into your plans while trying to slow them down with their complaints about sensitivities, which means that they laugh at everything until it gets close to them and then they lose their sense of humor. I've lost a lot of great friends over the years through drugs, alchohol and just stupidity in general, and figured I'd like to get the rest of them in one arena at the same time while I can. Actually, the buzz is pretty incredible about this show and I'm working on having a few surprises, including professional wrestlers, circus sideshow guys and maybe a few 'rock stars' that have done a few things. The focus is a great band I've assembled, which includes many of the original band members and with the addition of players that work on my recordings with me.

'One of my favorite segments is the 'Darryl's Children's Hour,' where I wear a Boy Scout uniform and entice parents to drop their kids off at the camp we have set up for them. It has kind of a Catholic priest feel to it.'

"About 4-5 players that performed on the Weapons CD will be playing in the core band that will be augmented by other players throughout the show. The core group will include ten people made up of a horn section, backup singers and dancers. Nothing is out of bounds and there will be songs about Suicide, Leprosy, Necrophilia, Abortion and Gay issues etc. etc. We'll be performing at least 27 songs and there will be some preaching, baptizing, healings, snake handling and rodeo songs...just like in church. I'll be performing songs off of every one of the 10 CDs that I have out and a few that I never recorded and about half of the 27 songs are coming from the Hahavishnu catalog. The selection for the material in the show was tough since there was so much to choose from but one of my favorite segments is the 'Darryl's Children's Hour,' where I wear a Boy Scout uniform and entice parents to drop their kids off at the camp we have set up for them. It has kind of a Catholic priest feel to it."

"Here are two Facebook sites people can check out. One is my page and the other is a page that was set up by a guy in Toronto for the event."

Link 1

Link 2

Darryl Rhodes's official website is

And in case you missed it, here's our review of Darryl's latest long playing masterpiece, reprinted from our March 2009 issue:

Darryl Rhoades, circa 2006, in his element in Macon, GA, judging a contest for future pole dancers

Ass-Whuppin' The Enemy Within
By David McGee

Darryl Rhoades
No Big Deal Records

Are you weary of the previous administration's dissembling, lawless ways? Seething over the previous President's lamenting only the lack of "better intelligence" before sending 4,000-plus young Americans to their deaths in Iraq, or insisting that his administration's response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina was proper and swift? Resisting the urge to pummel the previous Vice President, a war criminal already subject to arrest in Vermont, now recklessly repudiating the new President's embrace of our Constitution and rule of law in dealing with suspected terrorists (emphasis on the "suspected," as many have never been charged with any crime or terrorist act) locked up in the Twilight Zone known as Gitmo? Weary and wary of cult leaders, from Jim Jones to David Koresh to George W. Bush, serving kool-aid to their submissive, uncritical followers? Do you poop out at parties?

If you answered "yes" to any or all of these questions, then Darryl Rhoades's dystopian narrative, Weapon$ of Ma$$ Deception, is good for what ails you. Drummer/vocalist Rhoades, an Atlanta native who goes back to the '70s, when he surfaced with the acclaimed 12-piece musical comedy troupe The Hahavishnu Orchestra and was known to consort with Iggy Pop (they're pictured together on the inside of the album cover, in a vintage '70s photo) and, possibly, Margot Kidder, while pitilessly skewering pop culture (in leading a life far more colorful than can be detailed here), leaves the laughs at bay here in favor of a deserved ass-whupping rendered unto the enemy within, meaning mostly those improperly elected officials who ran roughshod over America for eight long years. To further his agenda, he assembled a hard-core southern rock 'n' soul band for this, his 11th CD, featuring two fire-breathing guitarists in Tommy Strain and Johnny Carlton, spot-on bassist Tommy Vickery, and keyboardist (and co-producer) Jim Boling as the basic, hard driving unit. Supplementing this lineup periodically are the great Jonny Hibbert, who blows righteous, wailing sax on the album opening scorcher "Addiction to Friction" and returns memorably on two other tracks; and Sheryl Crow sideman Peter Stroud, adding atmospheric dobro backing to Col. Bruce Hampton's wrenching narration "Acoholocaust" (the title pretty much says it all about the song's subject matter) and meshing evocatively with the country-centric thrust (as fiddle, mandolin and banjo flesh out the lineup) of the merciless scalding Rhoades gives a certain dynasty-inclined family now claiming two ex-Presidents in its line, "The Sins Of the Father."

Darryl Rhoades, 1980: Addicted to friction

To his credit, Rhoades doesn't hit the listener over the heard with the topical material right off the bat. Which is not to suggest he and his mates tiptoe into the fray. The aforementioned "Addiction to Friction" is a malevolent, reverb-drenched stomper fueled by guitar sorties both razor-edged and chiming, a big gut-rattling bass riff, and Hibbert's raucous sax, which is more James White than Herb Hardesty-all in service to a song about a 16-year-old boy's raging hormones and lust for action as he's cruising to the tune of "Eddie Cochran on the radio" with the "pedal to the metal." The second song, "I'm In a Bad Mood," comes raging through unimpeded, as Rhoades, after blistering folks who step all over others to get ahead, vows his days as a good boy are done ("that doesn't seem to work/I've always heard it said that those who get ahead/are demons, bastards, liars and jerks/it puts me in a bad mood"); the sinister, roiling atmosphere is enhanced by Boling's horror-house organ and surging horn lines behind vocalist Rhoades's wild-eyed fury. Inveighing against false idols of the Jim Jones-David Koresh sort (even Custer gets name checked) in "Let My People Go," Rhoades uses a full-on southern rock assault to put the exclamation mark on his diatribe, with Tommy Strain's screaming, dive bomber slide guitar and Jim Boling's steadily pumping organ interjections defining the frenetic soundscape.

But love has its own weapons of mass deception, and in the heart tugging "The Edge of the World" Rhoades feels 'em full force, but in this case the setting is an evocative, '60s-style rock ballad (the sound, along with Rhoades's double-tracked vocal, recalls early Moody Blues with Justin Hayward singing lead), a full bodied, ambitious production with acoustic and electric guitars, organ and a silky background chorus to bolster Rhoades's plaintive cry of loss and longing. Moving into southern R&B territory, he offers a horn-enriched treatise on lost love from another perspective in "Someone Must Have Hurt You," his voice taking on a high, crying quality, soft and aching, as the horns and organ fashion a lush, somber backdrop. With Pete George taking the lead vocal and applying his emotive tenor to a lyric about emotional, if not physical, displacement in "Livin' Without," the band cuts across some potent pop-rock turf, with remnants of the Byrds in its opening "Have You Seen Her Face" guitar licks before settling into a place where southern R&B meets contemporary mainstream country in what once would have been a sure-fire radio anthem. And though "Betrayed" is every bit as wounded as these abovementioned wrenchers, its white-hot rock 'n' roll charge, keyed by the blurting horns and the heated to-and-fro dialogue between guitarist Tommy Strain and slide guitarist Peter Stroud (answering each other after every four bars), takes the edge off the hurt, considerably so, making of it a rousing rock 'n' roll celebration.

There's no escaping the jaundiced view of current events, though. Tyrants get a working over in the shake-and-pump of the Delaney & Bonnie-style rocker, "An Eye 4 An Eye (Leaves Everyone Blind"), with Deborah Reece adding the compelling Bonnie Bramlett-like blue-eyed soul retort to Rhoades's rumbling vocal (she once sang with Randall Bramblett, let it be noted, but not with any Bramletts). The national tragedy of "August 5, 2005," when New Orleans drowned and its cry for help went unheeded by the government (despite 43's attempt to rewrite history in his final days, as he mounted a campaign to burnish his tarnished legacy), is recounted in a hymn-like manner, with a church organ, a bereft Dixieland clarinet, and a soothing gospel chorus shadowing Rhoades's solemn litany of horrors. In the context of the song sequence here, the closing number, "A Grave Mistake," may well be intended as a metaphorical explanation of the Bushies' monstrosities. At a tidy 1:20, with Rhoades accompanied on the folk-styled ballad by Tommy Strain on resonator guitar, Johnny Carlton on acoustic and Jim Boling on harmonica, the song ostensibly reports on a couple breaking up a long-term relationship, only to find they're better off together, then reuniting and returning to their old routines, "staying with the sameness/immobilized by fear/we compromise our passions with each passing year"-until they die, on the same day, "and forever they'll remain." It ends so quickly, so suddenly, leaving the question hanging as to whether Rhoades is in fact doing a musical "J'accuse!" at a passive American populace sitting by passively while its government subverted the rule of law and treaty at will, and with impunity, ignoring the fundamentals of democracy, making it up as they went along, laughing off subpoenas, tapping our phones and playing us for suckers all the way. When we finally threw the bums out, was it too late? Darryl Rhoades isn't the only one who awaits an answer.

Buy it at

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Laura Fissinger, Christopher Hill, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (
Website Design: Kieran McGee (
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY;, Alicia Zappier (New York)
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024