Jon Read is an artist and a musician. With his band, The Wiggins, he makes a loud, hissing mix of idiosyncratic garage-punk, surf-rock, blues and country cut
deep with blown-out bass lines taken from carny rides and gangster rap, burnt-out guitar licks and a voice coming from somewhere between Son House and a juvenile delinquent getting whipped with a fraying wire. Damaged stuff: You can wreck your brain on it.
Read, who relocated to Houston from his hometown of Cleveland in 2003, is a surly entertainer, known for quitting songs midway, cutting sets in half and leaving his audiences begging for more in a storm of lacerating guitar feedback. Despite this abuse, or because of it, people go wild at Wiggins shows. They jack their backs and flout their inhibitions.
Now Wiggins Season is here; he's got a new seven-inch single coming out on Needless Records and a show at Sound Exchange to prove it. The Houston Press walked a few miles in fluke freezing weather to ask him where he's coming from.
Houston Press: Why'd you leave a rusting city like Cleveland for a rotting city like this one?
JR: Houston seemed like it had an art scene better than Cleveland and a better music scene. At the time Cleveland was stagnant; there was a lot of indie-pop. Down here there were no rules. I don't really identify with noise so much, but there was definitely freedom to that and people were into that when I moved here, but now it has changed and become a lot more like Cleveland was then.
HP: You make some fucked-up paintings too. Do you think of your art and music as being related?
JR: What I paint is primitive and medieval. I try and think of approaching music the same way, a scaled-down postapocalyptic sound. Music pays a bit more. Hopefully, I'll be able to unite them somehow.
HR: Tons of musicians must want to play with you — why do you keep on as a one-man band?
JR: I'm creating the world in my image. When I left Cleveland, I had a band that was easy to work with and generally nice to be around, and that's cool, but at the same time, I can practice anytime I want. I don't have to worry about bandmates wanting to be writers or people feeling somehow neglected.
Another thing is that the music is simple and repetitive. It's all about rhythm. A lot of people think they have perfect rhythm, but they don't. It's hard without the rhythm. I really need that Booker T. & the MGs feel.
Mike Zito, a musician based in Nederland near Beaumont, was nominated for two Blues Music Awards (formerly the W.C. Handy Awards) last week. Zito is up for Rock Blues Album of the Year for Pearl River (Eclecto Groove) and Song of the Year for the title track, which he co-wrote with Charles Neville. Houston vocalist Diunna Greenleaf, the 2008 Best New Artist Debut winner, was nominated for Traditional Female Artist of the Year. The awards will be presented May 6 at the Cook Convention Center in Memphis, Tennessee.
This week is your last chance to catch Life Is Happy and Sad, Catastrophic Theatre's latest Daniel Johnston-inspired production. Performances are 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday at Diverseworks, 1117 East Fwy. See www.catastrophictheatre.com for more information.
Vinal Edge Records
13171 Veterans Memorial Dr., 281-537-2575
1. Leyland Kirby, Trilogy Pt. 3
2. Various Artists, Africa Boogaloo:
The Latinization of West Africa
3. The Manson Family, Family Jams (picture-disc LP)
4. Various Artists, Thai Beat a Go-Go
5. Tom Waits, Glitter and Doom Live
6. Baroness, Blue Album
7. Beatles, Yesterday and Today ("Butcher" cover)
8. Flaming Lips, Embryonic
9. Hatred Surge, Deconstruct
10. Accused, Curse of Martha Splatterhead
KPFT (90.1 FM), Saturdays 6-7 p.m.
Selections from the December 5 playlist
1. Irish Rovers, "Come In"
2. Liam Clancy, "Patriots Game"
3. Loreena McKennitt, "Penelope's Song"
4. Dar Williams, "Christians & the Pagans"
5. Coyote Run, "Christmas In the Trenches"
6. Pogues, "Fairytale of New York"
7. Caddy Finlayson, "Sporting Paddy"
8. Murder the Stout, "Roddy McCorley"
9. Blaggards, "Whiskey in the Jar"
10. The Peelers, "Plastic Paddy"
(lists compiled by Chris Gray)
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