Captain Beefheart, Houston Misses You

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"An electric guitar attracts Beelzebub..."

Today's comment of the day comes to us from Friday afternoon's announcement that artist and avant-garde rocker Captain Beefheart, aka Don Van Vliet, had passed away in Southern California at age 69.



Rocks Off isn't surprised the news of Beefheart's death provoked such a visceral and widespread (more than 500 Facebook shares so far) reaction in Houston, where the line between performance art, rock and roll and the blues is thinner than most. Our own Lonesome Onry and Mean was at Beefheart's 1971 show with Ry Cooder and Houston's Bruiser Barton & the Dry Heaves ("The worst band in Texas," according to Rolling Stone), which happened at West U hippie joint Of Our Own on the Trout Mask Replica Tour. Here's what he wrote back in August.

By the way, don't be scared of our new Diskus comment system. Rocks Off hasn't had much opportunity to mess around with it yet, but it works just fine. More Beefheart after the jump.

A friend of Rocks Off's sent us this link Monday morning via The Captain Beefheart Radar Station (and a couple of other places). A lot of good advice in here.

Kindly sent to me by 'Sikora1'. With corrections and additional information from Brian Hassett.

Budding guitarists take note.

1. Listen to the birds

"That's where all the music comes from. Birds know everything about how it should sound and where that sound should come from. And watch hummingbirds. They fly really fast, but a lot of times they aren't going anywhere."

2. Your guitar is not really a guitar

"Your guitar is a divining rod. Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over. A guitar is also a fishing rod. If you're good, you'll land a big one."

3. Practice in front of a bush

"Wait until the moon is out, then go outside, eat a multi-grained bread and play your guitar to a bush. If the bush doesn't shake, eat another piece of bread."

4. Walk with the devil

"Old Delta blues players referred to guitar amplifiers as the "devil box." And they were right. You have to be an equal opportunity employer in terms of who you're brining over from the other side. Electricity attracts devils and demons. Other instruments attract other spirits. An acoustic guitar attracts Casper. A mandolin attracts Wendy. But an electric guitar attracts Beelzebub."

5. If you're guilty of thinking, you're out

"If your brain is part of the process, you're missing it. You should play like a drowning man, struggling to reach shore. If you can trap that feeling, then you have something that is fur bearing."

6. Never point your guitar at anyone

"Your instrument has more clout than lightning. Just hit a big chord then run outside to hear it. But make sure you are not standing in an open field."

7. Always carry a church key

"That's your key-man clause. Like One String Sam. He's one. He was a Detroit street musician who played in the fifties on a homemade instrument. His song "I Need a Hundred Dollars" is warm pie. Another key to the church is Hubert Sumlin, Howlin' Wolf's guitar player. He just stands there like the Statue of Liberty -- making you want to look up her dress the whole time to see how he's doing it."

8. Don't wipe the sweat off your instrument

"You need that stink on there. Then you have to get that stink onto your music."

9. Keep your guitar in a dark place

"When you're not playing your guitar, cover it and keep it in a dark place. If you don't play your guitar for more than a day, be sure you put a saucer of water in with it."

10. You gotta have a hood for your engine

"Keep that hat on. A hat is a pressure cooker. If you have a roof on your house, the hot air can't escape. Even a lima bean has to have a piece of wet paper around it to make it grow."

One last piece of advice from Beefheart: "Though they bear numbers, they are not arranged heirarchically -- each Commandment has equal import."

This sound advice can be found in the book Rolling Stone's Alt-Rock-A-Rama (1996) which includes an article written by John McCormick about Moris Tepper.

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