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Jack Grace Has a Problem With His Local DJ

The Jack Grace Band — which bills itself as playing “experimental country art rock” — is a lot of fun. I heard “It Was a Really Bad Year” on WBGO, WFUV or WKCR in New York (I forget which, but they all are fabulous) while waiting for my wife and son, who were in the supermarket. I turned on the radio when the guy in the song was suggesting that the prudent response to his problems was to drink more.

I wrote down some of the lyrics and Googled them when I got home to find the name of the band. It’s hard to not like a song that has stanzas like these, which are sung to a Latin rhythm:

It was a really bad year; the kind of year I could forget with drinking
It was a really bad year; the kind of year I could forget with drinking
And all the fellas at the bar, they’re always helping out my wife with something
And all the fellas at the bar, they’re always helping out my wife with something

and

I have a problem with my local DJ, I can’t believe some of the songs he won’t play
I have a problem with my local DJ, I can’t believe some of the songs he won’t play
He don’t like Elvis, Elvis; He don’t like Elvis, Elvis;
He don’t like Elvis, Elvis; He don’t like Elvis, Elvis;

The Wikipedia entry on Grace is interesting. He runs a country version of Van Halen called Van Hayride, which sometimes includes Norah Jones. Grace, according to the profile, was born in Brooklyn and is “a New York City icon.” He heads up what seems like a pretty loose outfit:

Functioning more like a jazz bandleader, he has a main cast of characters but keeps two to three drummers on call for recordings and gigs. The band members come from all walks of life: jazz, rock, country and, well, other. Bassist, vocalist and wife Daria (Melomane, Pre-war Ponies, The (N.Y.) Moonlighters & God Is My Co-Pilot) keeps the rhythm going with the rotating drummers, Russ Meissner, Jason “J-Bird” Bowman and Bruce Martin (Tom Tom Club).

Below is “Sugarbear.” The Jack Grace Band is the best experimental country art rock group around.

Wikipedia and The Jack Grace Band website were used to write this post. The home page art is by Joao Castellano.

 

Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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