Dylan Goes Electric

On this day in 1965 Bob went electric at the Newport folk festival. The legend says he was booed off stage, and that Pete Seeger wanted to cut the feed to the PA with an ax. It was a sign that in fact “The Times They Are A-Changin;” Dylan won’t be tied down or limited by genre or form. He would go on to receive death threats, and create some of the greatest songs ever before burning out in 1966 (and having a serious motorcycle accident). Another crucial day in music history.

Recommended Listening: Dylan live in 1966 at the “Royal Albert Hall.” The Judas show, really at the Manchester Free Trade Hall, and really one extended session of genius.

I’d like to offer my heartiest congratulations to the family that has burdened and exploited a nation for generations. To the figure heads who were once the iron fist that created an oppressive class system as a way of reminding the average man he is a fucking peasant who’s life is only as good as his loyalty to an inbred bloodline. Here’s to your new child Will and Kate, may he never have to work and always live in comfort on the back of the workers of a nation sinking further into economic crisis. God save the queen, and long live the king.

You’re all probably wondering why I haven’t been posting much this week. Well, for one I need a new bottle to review. The other reason is I’ve been a busy man, working a couple jobs a day while continuing my never-ending search for a real job. Added to all that is the fact that it’s been so hot that typing makes me sweat. Seriously, I’m worried my sweat is going to short out my keyboard. This week I was fortunate enough to catch a great live music act though, and hence this post.

I first saw the Carolina Chocolate Drops last summer as part of the Prescott Park Summer Concert Series in Portsmouth, NH. Well, Wednesday I relived that experience. Great beer and food with my old man at the Portsmouth Brewery lubricated our ears for the experience as usual, and the cool breeze rolling off the Piscataqua made being outside tolerable. The band was, as remembered, a great live act–they played that good down home old-time music with not only incredible talent and versatility, but with energy, soul, and a great understanding of the music’s history, which they did not hesitate to share with the audience. They’re not only showmen, they’re ethno-musicologists who can play everything from rags, jigs, and blues to Gaelic songs. If you ever get the chance to see this band live, do it, you won’t regret it. If not, I’ve attached a nice long video so you can get a bit of the experience for yourself.

Review: Thirteenth Colony Rye Whiskey

“Rye whiskey, rye whiskey, rye whiskey I crave, if I don’t get rye whiskey I’ll go to my grave.”  I like whiskey, maybe you’ve figured that out by now. I’m starting to think I may be inclined to bourbons with a higher rye content.  Maybe I’m starting to realize I really like rye, but that could the rye speaking.  If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, and have been sober enough while reading to recall the previous articles, you’ll realize that I have already reviewed a product of the Thirteenth Colony Distillery—their corn whiskey.  Well the people at the distillery read that article, and seemingly they liked it, because when I mentioned I wish their rye made it up to good ol’ NH they said, and I don’t quote: for you it does.  Basically they sent me an awesome gift pack consisting of a bottle of rye, some cool cozies, and a bumper sticker.  I believe in the blogging world they now refer to this as “swag.” I like to swig my swag.  I am not a good dancer, and therefore not a man to dance, but I did a little goofy jig every time I thought about the wonders coming my way.

At this point you’re jealous and sick of my little story, so here it goes; let’s talk swag.  My cozies are awesome, and camo.  ‘Murica. Oh, right you care about the rye. Now what I’ve been doing is starting with a big whiff, which for a moment almost has a soft sweetness with a bit of clove and cinnamon, until you’re hit with some burning numbness and you think it’s possible you’re getting a buzz on the fumes.  That’s a good first sign in my book.  Now with a sip. I can only really describe what’s happening from front to back of the mouth, because there is so much going on here.  On the very tip of my tongue is a lovely cooling and numbing sensation, and, moving back around the middle of my tongue, I catch a beautiful brown sugar and vanilla sweetness which begins near that last hump of the tongue to show some more bite, hearty and spicy. The cinnamon and clove from the nose appear, plus tons of peppery goodness, and finally at the back of the throat is a most gloriously benevolent burn—47.5% alcohol goodness that doesn’t hurt or feel like it’s going to burn through.  Finally that beautiful warmth sinks down and you’ve got a happy belly and mind.  Oh those good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye and singing this’ll be the day that I die, but I bet they didn’t have rye like this.

I know what you’re thinking. This guy is biased. He gets his first free bottle of booze and can’t help but love it.  That’s why I drank most of the bottle before I reviewed it, as they say a drunken mind writes a sober heart, or something like that, and I let the rye remove the bias. Since this bottle of rye arrived I haven’t found a way that I don’t want to drink it. I’ve drank it straight, chilled, with a little water, with an ice cube—all joyously.  It kills me that I can’t buy this at my New Hampshire state liquor store yet, because I can’t let the last of such a rare and lovely thing leave my bar. Thank you to the generous folks at Thirteenth Colony, you’ve crafted another great spirit.


Earlier today I had a pour of this rye with a tiny pinch of sugar, a few drops of water and several healthy dashes of angostura bitters. I was sitting on a porch watching a pink sunset spill across the lake in good company. It was a perfect cocktail if I’ve ever had one.

Today has been a day of many nuisances and annoyances that drove me to stress and crack, yet at the end of the day it all works out okay, right? Well today it did, luckily before I lost my shit. Anyways this lovely Robert Johnson song, Kindhearted Woman Blues goes out to the stabilizing forces of my crisis, my girlfriend who helped moderate my insanity, and another person, who kindly sent me a beautiful delicious gift. I’ll go further into that in the near future, so tick around and watch for updates. Also, you’re getting both the takes Johnson recorded of the song in this youtube, so check out the slight differences between the two while you wait for my “gift” review.

Review: Cornelius Applejack—Batch No. 46, Bottle 271

Cornelius Applejack sounds a bit like a nutty professor, the kind of guy who tries to make a time-machine from a busted up Oldsmobile.  Well professor, you’ve done it; this is a time machine.  Applejack is a classic American spirit, a crude liquor made from hard cider—often in the old days it was concentrated by freezing the cider and tossing out the water that froze.  A classic antifogmatic, for guys work worked hard.  Like that George Washington guy.  Georgie boy drank Laird’s applejack, which is still made today, but is a far different product from what lurks in my glass.  Laird’s nowadays is fortified with neutral grain spirits.  It’s cheap, tasty, but it’s made to be cheap.  The good people of Harvest Spirits in Valatie, New York do what those guys in Jersey haven’t; they’ve refined a good tradition.  Cornelius is closer to calvados, the French apple brandy, as it’s triple distilled to a cleaner finish.  Then again Harvest Spirits have been able to overcome my problem with calvados–its cloying sweetness.  Perhaps this has something to do with the barrel aging, but the end result here is very interesting—sweet, hot and slightly tart.  There’s no way to place this flavor other than apple, like green apple Laffy Taffy fermented, and yet there’s so much more than that. It comes in waves, sweet, than tangy and tart, finally leaving your tongue cool and aching for more.  This applejack may not use traditional methods, but it certainly makes a fine product.  Cornelius Applejack takes the spirit out of the 18th century and into the sophisticated world— a product that is distinctly rural America, and yet has grown up with the nation into a modern spirit for a modern society.Image

So in light of yesterday’s brief stint of patriotism I feel I need to toss some balance onto the blog. Annoyingly I’m unable to find a decent video of Bob Dylan performing “With God on Our Side.” You can listen to it yourself and stare at the ceiling contemplatively, or you can watch the stupid montage thing I’ve provided. Regardless, the point remains the same, an attack on blind patriotism and the idea that America has the manifest destiny; not only to spread across the continent, but to spread our virtues and our goods and our filth and our bullets in the name of the divine. As Dylan notes, if God is on our side he’ll stop the next war. Then came nam, and some 4 million people died for nothing. Very few of those were Americans, of course, so maybe God is on our side—or napalm, Agent Orange and daisy cutters. Dylan states, “I’ve learned to hate the Russians, all through my whole life,” and now our kids are learning to hate Islam and any other person of a darker tint. We have a War on Terror, which means we’re taking Roosevelt’s advice on having nothing to fear but fear itself. We’re so scared we’ll bomb any Stone Age village that harbors a boogey man. I’ve rambled enough, listen to Bobby, he says it better. Here’s your Fourth of July grain of salt.

As an American citizen I find that it seems only appropriate that I post today in observance of the anniversary of this nation’s independence from Great Britain—the Fourth of July as we like to call it. All across this country people will be shooting off fireworks, eating excessively and drinking, for the most part, shitty beer. On this day in 1776 a bunch of men in powdered wigs were sweating their nuts off in Philadelphia, writing up that official declaration. They weren’t doing it because their independence seemed imminent—they were basically losing the war at that point. They were doing it as a plea; a plea to the people to stay the course, and a plea to the French to bail our asses out of this mess. Those men we call our founding fathers were basically signing a death warrant. If they lost the war, which seemed pretty much a given, the ringleaders had all written their names on a convenient document—like a list of the treasonous for Cornwallis to execute. Somehow, these “patriots” ended up outlasting the British. The French jumped in the game and the British eventually realized that the cost of fighting a war of occupation overseas is too great. (Clearly Americans have learned nothing from their own history.)

This is the one day of the year I will call myself patriotic. The rest of the year I see patriotism as a part of the blind nationalism that makes people trust a deceitful and duplicitous government and allows men to feel justified in killing men, women, and children for being on the wrong side of the government vendetta against communism or Islam. Today, I celebrate those men of the Second Continental Congress, for their willingness to become martyrs to an idea and for their courage to stand up against imperialism (again, the lessons we forget.) So today I raise my glass to all the beautiful things America has wrought, blues, jazz, rock n’ roll, Bourbon, Ernest Hemingway, my Ford truck, bluegrass, (some) country music, cowboys, cheeseburgers (though hot dogs are lame as far as sausages go), the Second Amendment , Jack Kerouac, and even cheap macro beer (because I can’t always afford to drink well). So, my readers, many of whom it seems live in Europe, I’m going to get drunk and have a jolly good time of it, and I’ll go back to screaming out Baby, I’m an Anarchist tomorrow. Live free or die, death is not the worst of evils.

My dad used to play Kelly Joe Phelps’ record “Shine Eyed Mister Zen” a good deal when I was in my formative years of realizing what music actually was and, like the other artists I heard then, I’ve never stopped listening. If I could I would sing and play like Phelps, with that smokey voice and a beautiful fluid versatility on slide that is only rivaled by Ry Cooder. This number, many of my readers may know, is a cover of an old Leadbelly song. It’s also a devastatingly beautiful song–back in the days when I had a radio show I closed my first and last shows with this song. Unfortunately, being a cover, this song fails to show you that KJP is also a poet with masterful lyrics. I suppose you’ll have to look him up and buy one or two of his albums to see for yourself. Start out buying “Shine Eyed Mister Zen,” it’s not his first album, and you can go back for “Lead Me On” later, but that’s the way I heard it and the way I still love it. If you think the blues is dead, you’re dead wrong.