Volume 6, October 2020
Buenos Dios, buckaroos and buckarettes!
I'm Bob. You may know me from the band Big Medicine Head or daytime television. This monthly missive from the land of tumbleweeds and the lonesome six string guitar features news from the frontier, music and prose. Each issue will have a downloadable track and lyrics, along with the backstory of the song. For the duration of the pandemic we'll also feature live songs from the bunker.
If you'd like to revisit past issues of Tales of the Western Hemisphere you can find them at bobgemmell.com.
Song of the Month
Sit back and relax as we explore the Bob Gemmell and Big Medicine Head song catalog
This month we're going back to Big Medicine Head album #2, The Queen of the Western Hemisphere. JeffyD did a masterful job of laying in a lot of instruments on this one, with mandolin, guitar, banjo and fiddle weaving a tapestry on which to drop a whole mess of words.
I wrote this in Santa Cruz, back in the day when me and the boys were bouncing from one smoky bar to the next, playing all night to more people than these venues were intended to hold, wondering who would show up first: the cops or the fire department.
This song is about Love in the Time of Poverty. It's about wondering where the next month's rent would come from, but not being overly concerned about it. I've been told that there is a theme of loss, hope and redemption that threads through my oeuvre. I don't think this song disappoints in that regard.
This and all of the songs can be found at bobgemmell.com - here's a direct link: Words Never Get In The Way.
It's also downloadable by following the instructions below.
I hope you dig it!
Words Never Get in the Way
A million year promise
can burn out in seven
time isn’t static
it’s not on our side
rolling around with
a girl from wherever
with nothing to hide or to say
but words never get in the way
Working for money
that’s already spent
she buys the food
and I pay the rent
is a scar on this city
the landlord drinks vodka all day
and words never get in his way
Roll down a hallway
of dreams, plans and blessings
hope’s a blind voyeur
the future’s undressing
10,000 birds take flight from the roof
watching the sun fade away
and words never get in the way
God’s on our side
but his angels all hate us
when he’s asleep
they all roll into town
flex their tattoos
as they show off their status
ignore us when we kneel to pray
but words never get in our way
Individuals of Great Distinction
I was (am?) a member of the west coast paisley and whiskey rock band Big MedicineI Head. When the graphic novel is published about BMH there will be at least a chapter devoted to those years between the first and second albums. This is a period shrouded in mystery. The boys from the band wandered off and had adventures of one sort or another, but these tales of glory and degradation will remain in the vault. For myself, I will only offer that I spent a lot of years in the musical wilderness, until I was rescued by JeffyD.
You may know JeffyD as Jeff Davis, or you may know him by the moniker that expresses his vital role in the music community: DJ Jazzy JeffyD, The Mongrel Dog Snappy Rhythm King. JeffyD is the finest drummer in the western hemisphere, and also the overlord of Lucky Dog Studio in Eugene, Oregon.
Jeffy found me at a time when I had relinquished possession of all my instruments, save one crappy guitar. I had gone for a long time bereft of inspiration, with zero creative output. JeffyD slapped me around, threw me in a shower, and parked me in the middle of the Lucky Dog recording room, pushing me through a session that yielded 16 songs in what I can only describe as a musical baptism into the Church of JeffyD. These would become the second Big Medicine Head album, Queen of the Western Hemisphere. Jeffy arranged, played multiple instruments, and eventually pulled the band back together to contribute to the tracks.
Magic happens at Lucky Dog, and there is a new sign (pictured) that emblazons his title for all that enter this hallowed ground. It is here that Big Medicine Head relaunched as a sonic juggernaut, generating new albums and spawning the Sterno Bums International production team. You can trace the beginnings of the Dirt Preachers Union musical guild to Lucky Dog studio.
JeffyD is currently holed up at Lucky Dog with Lee Takasugi, creating new music for Tigers and Airplanes. They're pushing through all sorts of sonic boundaries - you want to keep an eye on this.
Jeffy Davis is about the best friend a person could ask for. He has been by my side from the beginning of Big Medicine Head in Santa Cruz. We continue to weave together at a musical loom, and he will be my brother for the rest of this journey.
Songs From The Bunker
We're going to double up again this month. This is the version of Words Never Get In The Way as it was originally written - just me and my guitar. Go here to view, or click on the picture of me and Rex.
Me and Rex
To Be Frank
My sister Robin Camacho, my nephew Jordan Comacho and his pal Trevor Garret have turned Las Vegas into their gastronomical playground. With two restaurants ready to launch once the pandemic is over, they decided the the good citizens of the Glitter City needed something to fill the void in their souls and the vacuum in their stomachs. Their solution: To Be Frank, a source for world class gourmet hot dogs.
Located inside chef Sheridan Su’s Every Grain, To Be Frank operates as a ghost kitchen. The inspiration and creative force behind it are Jordan and Trevor, and they have done their homework. If you don’t have the time to travel to Basque country to find the perfect Piperrada to put on your Basque chorizo dog, or chase down fermented Isaan sausage in Thailand, don’t worry - these gentlemen have done it for you. Long nights brainstorming resulted in the Greek Dog, a Loukanika lemony-garlicky sausage topped with kalamata olive and tomato relish, creamy feta, parsley, and fried capers. Other hot dogs on the menu include the classic, the Thai Dog, Basque Dog and Sonoran Dog.
If you've ever wondered what's been missing in your life, this might be it. After your next trip to Vegas - if you haven’t visited To Be Frank - you’re going to ask yourself “What was the point of even going”?
Lonesome Bob's True Adventures
A tender moment...
When you're married sparkly moments of gratitude may appear out of nowhere. You might be rolling along with the soft rhythm of a summer day, doing nothing at all, when you realize that you're really blessed to have found the person you've chosen to spend your life with. In that moment, snapshots from the time you've spent together may shuffle out of the mental attic in which they're stored, framed in soft and golden light. You may feel a rush of affection and an urge to express that sentiment.
I was sitting with Lea the other day when such a moment occurred. We were on the couch, and turning to her I said, "You know, I was just thinking about you. I'm so grateful that I found you." Lea looked at me with a gentle countenance and replied, "I was just thinking of you, also. I was wondering if we were in the Donner Party, which parts of you I would eat, and which parts I would feed to the dogs. I think I would give them your feet."
There is a part of us that is waiting to be filled. When we meet the person who will be our forever companion we are warmed by the knowledge that we will share all of the points on a line that stretches out past the horizon. If you're lucky enough to have found the traveller who will accompany you on the path to eternity I hope that you're able to stop occasionally and savor them, with or without condiments.
By the way, do you like my new haircut? If so, we can thank Lea for that. This is a pandemic thing that she started. It's a new service called Lea’s Krazy Kustom Kovid Kuts!
Is there risk involved? Not at all! Lea practices completely appropriate social distancing. She does it by standing six feet away and throwing razor blades. Stop by the house and she'll get you dialed in.
See you next month!