The End Of The Earth... >>> CD
|Rob Kennedy is the same age as Rock n Roll, having been born during the summer that Elvis recorded the Sun Sessions. He came of age, just outside Manhattan, during the psychedelic Sixties. The first concert he attended (Who/Doors, Singer Bowl) erupted into a full scale riot and left Kennedy with a taste for something more than the usual, tepid rock. One year later he helped tear down the fences at Woodstock; the summer after that found him back in Flushing, Queens witnessing and being transformed by the MC5 and the Stooges' New York debut. Kennedy has a knack for being in the right place at the right time - London, fall '75, Kennedy was exposed to the nascient British punk scene. He returned to Washington DC, where he resided at the time, and formed Da Chumps, one of DC's seminal punk bands. Da Chumps recorded an ep and appeared on :30 Seconds Over DC, the original DC punk compilation. They were responsible for getting both the Bad Brains and Half Japanese their first shows.
Meanwhile, Kennedy had been commuting to NYC to play bass for Susan Springfield (Erasers), and finally decided to move back to New York in 1980. He knocked around in a few bands in the first half of that decade and eventually met Scott Jarvis, who became his partner in the Workdogs. The Workdogs were an extremely influential band. First, they were a two piece with an ever changing roster of sidemen. They had no desire for a permanent line up; a hallmark of The Workdogs' approach was the way a good sideman could change the sound. All of the 'Dogs material was based on the Blues, while most of their sidemen came from the Alt-rock or Punk scenes. As a consequence, the Workdogs were great diseminaters, introducing numerous musicians to Blues, country and jazz styles for the first time. Then there was the matter of Kennedy's songs - they had no words! Kennedy has always preferred to improvise his lyrics extemporaneously. His stream of consciousness style could lead the 'Dogs just about anywhere, to the perpetual amazement of their audiences.
When the Workdogs started out back in '85 they also used to work as a rhythm section for hire. In that capacity they backed Half Japanese, The Velvet Monkeys, Purple Geezus and Maureen Tucker among others. In 1987 they went on extended road trip with The Velvet Monkeys and Jad Fair. The dire economics of this trip permanently turned the Workdogs against touring. They were more than able to stay busy in New York, playing regularly and recording three cds, two LPs and a half dozen singles. They developed a live game show for the bar, Max Fish, that eventually led to a monthly musical residency. Over the course of the next five years, scores of sidemen sat in with the 'Dogs at Max Fish. It has been said that if there were 100 people in a Workdogs' audience, 99 of them were rock n rollers, most had sided with the 'Dogs and most were considerably more well known than the band they were watching on stage.
In 1998, Rob Kennedy moved to Hawaii, much to the disappointment of the avid Workdog crowd that had grown around them at Max Fish. But in spite of being one quarter of the way around the globe, Kennedy continued to pursue his music. He recorded in Hawaii when the material felt right. Then he shipped the songs to New York, San Fransisco and Los Angeles where many of his friends added tracks. Whenever he was on the Mainland he would jump into the studio with a handful of fellow musicians. In 2001 he returned to New York for an extended stay. During that stretch Kennedy played several shows with the Workdogs and recorded nearly another hour of new songs with various different sidemen. By 2003 he had several hours of unreleased new material in the can. Kennedy joined forces with renowned producer, Jim Waters, in Tucson to sort through this material and to produce his new record, "The End Of The Earth".
Kennedy still resides in Hawaii where he does occasional live shows. He has started the Cooper Center Rock n Roll Project, which has helped a group of teens in his little Hawaiian village to start a punk band (Project Plague) that he now manages.
The Workdogs are on hiatus as long as an ocean and a continent seperate them, however Scott Jarvis was happy to sit in on these sessions and he and Kennedy are still the best of friends. There will undoubtedly be more Workdogs shows in the future. In the meantime however, Kennedy has a thousand musical plans of his own, including touring to support The End Of The Earth, recording a sequel to the Workdogs' notorious "Workdogs in Hell" and figuring out a viable way to jam over the internet. He plays regularly with Ka Motley Hui and has never stopped writing new songs.
- First new RobK music since Workdogs' "Old"
- First new RobK music since his move to Hawaii in '98
- Ten new RobK tales - stories of death in Manhattan, life in Hawaii, the practice of yoga and a strange interlude at the 2000 Vanity Fair Oscar Party, among others.
- Two superlative covers - a raucus take on the old traditional tune,
"Gospel Plow", and a wild version of "Poor Moon", an unreleased Canned Heat tune.
- Amazing roster of sidemen and women, including:
Mark Abramson - Cosmic Oven, His Master's Voice
Bruce Bennett - A Bones
Joseph Booth - Ka Motley Hui
Mark Fairchild - Cakelike
Marcellus Hall - White Hassle, Railroad Jerk
Jimmy Hole - Necessary Evils, Screws
Jack Martin - Knoxville Girls, Dime Store Dance Band
Matt Oliviero - White Hassle
John Polle - Solace Brothers
Kid Congo Powers - Gun Club, Cramps, etc.
Hollis Queens - Boss Hog, Lo Hi
Samoa - The Lonely Samoans, Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black
Jon Spencer - Blues Explosion, Boss Hog
Jerry Teel - Knoxville Girls, Chrome Cranks, Honeymoon Killers
Matt Verta-Ray - Speedball Baby
Terri Wahl - Screws, Red Aunts
Pete Shore - Unsane
Bob Bert - Sonic Youth, Pussy Galore, Chrome Cranks, Knoxville Girls, etc.
Scott Jarvis - Workdogs, Cigaretz
Otis Ball - Otis Ball and the Chains
Mary Booth - Ka Motley Hui
Christina Martinez - Boss Hog
Xanthe Smith - Ka Motley Hui
Dan Naiman - Solace Brothers
Jon Wahl - Clawhammer
Zeke Healey - Brooklyn Browngrass
- Recorded in acclaimed studios across the US including:
The Distillery - Costa Mesa, CA
New York Head - NYC
Funhouse - NYC
Seawest - Pahoa, HI
Waterworks West - Tucson, Az
-Co-Produced by legendary producer/engineer Jim Waters
|Check out the live video for "Escape Ffom New York". Recorded in San Francisco, here.|
|If you dig The Drapes you might enjoy Cash Audio, Geraldine, The Drapes, The Peelers or Them Wranch|
|CHAIN-WHIPPED MAGAZINE REVIEW
"LYRICALLY ASTOUNDING, POIGNANTLY DARK, AND RAW AS HELL... A REAL BACK-PORCH DOOMSDAY ROCKER."
I'd like to think some of the old classics of this ilk could have benefited from the sort of unrestrained expression that's found here... Like if Lou Reed had grown up on Honkytonk rye and Stooges albums. Nothing new in the garage department, at least not where it shouldn't be, but Rob K's got a knack for slowing it down and making it dirtier than it ought to be. The dirtier the better, sez I. Kind of endearing... in the way a brand new band with brand new instruments (and no idea how to play them) and all the heart and soul in the world is endearing. But Rob is far from new and far from untalented... he's just this way on purpose, and that says there's something 'real' involved. Put it on, and let it grow on you, cuz it will, to the point where it's going to need its own hat and sunglasses. - Ren Scarab
A few meanderings from Rob's closest (?) friends:
Jon Spencer spews this:
Christmas Eve. It is 20 below and snowing here in New England. I have been up since 6:30 this morning shoveling coal and chopping wood to try and give my little ones the christmas they have been dreaming of. Now it is late. Or very early. And yet still I must work on into the night, away from my family on this most holy of nights addressing and signing the non-denominational, eco-friendly, yoga-riffic holiday cards for my benefactor Mr Rob K. Oh how I curse that lizards name! Here I slave in the cold by candle light while I am sure Mr. Kennedy is laying out in the sun at his Hawaain pleasure palace or snowboarding down the lava fields of his volcano home or enjoying the pleasures of some fine wine, good drugs, roasted meat and that young underwear model from the reality show on Fox. Mr Rob K has a new album coming out on the Orange label of the Homeland Security Department and I have been instruceted to let all of Rob's "special friends" on his mailing list know about this latest dirty bomb.
Basically the record is more of the same. Talentless thrashings and tuneless meanderings played by a whos who list of washed-up, burnt-out, has-beens and never-wases. Wannabe hipsters tricked or coerced into participation in this form of musical sacrlige and career suiceide. As for the Man's contributions, well, he can not sing but that is no news to anyone. Mr Kennedy sounds worse than ever. And the words he sings plumb the very depths of soul-less narcissism combined with new-age apology. The guy is not just a degenerate drug addict but a pretentious degenerate drug addict. How Rob K has gotten away with this shit for so long is anyone's guess but probably has something to do with fear. A dangerous cassanova and back room power player well known on both sides of the Atlantic, Rob has left a trail of broken hearts and destroyed minds of both sexes that stretches for miles and miles and years and years. And I should know. More that one morning I have woken up in some filthy ditch with a buzzing head and bleeding rectum with his sick kiss still on my lips. But I am love. And so here I toil. Merry Xmas everybody.
Scott Jarvis said:
Rob Kennedy, visionary art rocker, king of performance one up manship, or song spewing bluesman in dire need of an editor? That my friends, is a tough call.
I knew Rob K back when he was a fumbling one fingered bassist who ran his bass through a hot plate and couldn?t find the one in a two note riff. There was trouble getting him started or stopped, but once going, he was a force of nature. And he hasn't changed a bit.
I worked with him in a little outfit called Workdogs. We had this concept, if you could call it that. Rob had a particular approach. Best I can say is I never really tried to stop him. Last of the talking blues...let us hope. We put out some records, did some stuff. Fucker did my stuff. In a little town in Texas. An accident! Last stuff in the state. We had to drive out that night for New Mexico.
Back in New York, back in the day, things were hectic. The rock opera Tommy, the church band, the karaoke band, the double and triple booked nights. If they had paid real money we wouldn?t have had to do that, but we got by. We lied, used other people's gear, drank their drinks, hit on their girlfriends, blew out PAs and just walked away. We were the Workdogs and nobody said nothin. Stories abound, but there's only two people that have seen every Workdogs gig. Rob K's one of em. Driving up to a police check in a clown outfit, they'd just wave him through. He had that kind of moral authority. Mixed a mean drink. with pills usually. Had a system. It worked more often than not. When it didn't, he'd channel Al Jolson thru GG's mic and you know where that's been. "Show business is in my blood," he used to say. "No, gin is in your blood," I used to say. We had the starpower, the name management, the run of the whole damn city. It lasted a couple of days. Tough town.
Like all great performers he tapped into the audience's expectations. Each crowd received their own personalized Rob K experience. Entertaining a large squad of riot cops at a nearly unattended pot rally, he'd open the set by announcing "I'm gonna snort a police line." or playing a southern roadhouse he'd ask, "You're not still mad because we whupped your ass in the war?" He often said give the people what they want. He'd say that and then he'd laugh.
At sessions he'd take our pay up front, and blow it all on medicinals. The man didn't need it, he took them on a dare from God, he took them to prove that he could not be brought down, could not be felled. He took them and then he did the things that are now legend: the half jap sessions, the cracksex gigs, the velvet monkeys tours, Baltimore, Yakima. Everyone puts out in the big towns but when you're the opening act at the Outhouse in Lawrence, it's put up or shut up. And you could not shut Rob K up. The man was a stone cold blues politician, raising your taxes to pay for the nice little hidaway where he'd be taking your wife after the show. It was that kind of vibe, and they couldn't kill him. They rode him out of town on a rail, but he keeps coming back. He's got a new record, he's coming to your town, and he needs a place to stay.
Jim Waters says:
All of great blues legends were farmers or sharecroppers. Some of them spent their early years picking cotton on the plantation before uprooting and heading north. Rob K. was no exception. He was a chicken farmer. I remember visiting Rob with my wife and children. We found Rob in the chicken coop sitting with a chicken in his lap. He looked positively terrible, sweat dripping off of his forehead and with a look of extreme pain on his face with the veins in his forehead protruding as if they were about ready to burst. The grueling life of a chicken farmer was taking it's toll. He didn't see us at first as he writhed in agony, gripping the struggling chicken by it's wings. It was then that he looked and saw us. "Shall I call an ambulance?" I asked. He just kept writhing but his answer surprised me. "No...I don't need an ambulance." My family was shocked. We thought that we were witnessing a heart attack. Instead, Rob mumbled something about how most farm boys' first sexual experience was with chickens. As he said this he let out a moan, relaxing his grip on the struggling chicken which sprang free, exposing his erect member. "It get's awful lonesome out here" he said. "That's why I get the blues so bad!" That's how I discovered the source of the blues of Rob K. His roots run deep into the heart of the country, winding it's way through the Mississippi delta, through the backwoods, past the cotton fields, behind the still before deposting it's riches on a lonely chicken coop in New Jersey. My son Jimmy became very excited about chickens and asked if we could get a few. "No Jimmy", I told him. "No, you may not."