bosun records

no one's pronouncing "boatswain"



on friday and saturday of last weekend (october 28th & 29th), spafford played what amounted to two farewell shows at last exit live in their adopted hometown of phoenix. they weren’t presented as such, but if you’ve been following this band then you know how big they’ve gotten in the last 6 weeks and how big they will continue to get through the end of the year and throughout 2017. shows like last weekend’s at venues of this size are about to be considered the good old days, so i hope everyone there realized what we were witnessing.

opening for lotus this weekend, playing phish after shows in new york over new year’s eve, and opening for umphrey’s mcgee in january up and down the east coast ensures that they’ll be playing to crowds that recognize and appreciate their talent, which should eventually pave the way for their own national tours that will allow them to come back to arizona with their guns blazing and a bigger, rowdier crowd here to greet them.

however, we can’t talk about this past weekend without talking about the midwest run at the end of september with shows in boulder, denver, lincoln, milwaukee, neenah, chicago, and ottawa.

you know. the tour that gave us an instant all-timer in the pizza jam(!!!!!), back to back shows at the sweat and joy-filled tonic room, and of course the band’s new folk hero- the man, the myth, the legend… lopez.

born out of a perfect storm of jams, booze and end of the week giddyness in the mixlr chat room during the neenah show at cranky pat’s, we finally got to meet him in the flesh when he flew out from milwaukee for the last exit shows, and he did not disappoint.

lopez is basically the result of catherine zeta-jones getting eiffel tower’d by paul bunyan and zorro with the lone ranger on camera duty and no one bothering to take a paternity test.

he more than exceeded everyone’s expectations and brought a new energy to the phoenix scene that everyone responded to immediately. there were dozens of shouts, cries and near-orgasmic wailings of “lopez!” throughout both nights- the dude’s a people person for sure.

with no hint of jaded vet hambland feelgoodery, i can say with 100% confidence that the next spafford show is always the best. last weekend was beyond stellar, though, and it took me a few days and several relistens of each show for the music to fully sink in. it’s been a long time since i’ve reviewed an actual show and since these are going to be the last we see here for a while i figured i’d do an old fashioned recap of what went down.

friday night (10/28) opened with an extra smooth but unfinished “in the eyes of thieves” that segued nicely into “feel like a stranger” where red’s vocals really shine in an always welcome cover. look for a potential thieves conclusion this weekend.

next up was probably the best “lonely” i’ve ever heard them play. brian shreds in a powerful but restrained peak and you can really hear jordan’s rolling bass lines throughout this section. just a lot of excellent interplay by the whole band.

it was also at this point that some silly goose in the crowd asked a certain photographer whether this song was already the encore. yeesh. some of you people need to handle your party favors a little better.

songs like “walls,” which came next and rages here, are an important play off the happier, more upbeat songs in the band’s repertoire. i can’t say it any better than jerry joseph in the video below from the widespread panic documentary the earth will swallow you:

the downy-soft drop into “postman” was a thing of beauty and the resulting jam was upbeat, exploratory and patient enough for each member to show off their individual talents before climaxing with an exultant peak.

this is the kind of jamming i love, whether it’s the grateful dead, james brown or spafford- when everyone’s on the same page and jamming together, this is what i’m after. phil lesh is famous for confusing musicians who haven’t played with him before when he tells them that he wants everyone to be soloing together instead of laying back and having people take turns on their own. well, this is what they can listen to if they don’t know what he’s looking for.

“slip and squander” closes out the first set in its typical lovely fashion. this song has really become a fan favorite and live staple over the last year, so let’s shout out the band’s namesake and lighting master chuck johnson, who wrote this song as well as one of my other personal favorites, “the man,” which will hopefully be getting played more often going forward. check out his other writing right here.

set two opened with a monster version of “all in.” really- this one is worth all 25 minutes they ride it for. around the 5 minute mark, that little guyute-esque scale run is always one of my mini favorite moments at a show. i don’t know how to explain it, it’s simple, nothing stands out too much, but it takes me to my happy place every single time. then right after that, going back to the jerry joseph analogy, they launch into rock god mode and get the room’s energy all the way back up before exploring several different areas of improvisation that never lose the crowd’s interest.

“electric taco stand” follows, with a pretty straightforward first 7 minutes that lead into the bliss-filled 10 minute alternate ending that peaks and peaks and peaks before going back into the taco proper finale. if you love this version as much as i do, check out the 8/9/14 show where they !encored! with the same hose-filled facefuckery. gotta love this band, man. hoo doggie!

not to be outdone by the two preceeding jams, “weasel > red’s jam > weasel” closed out set two in trancey, pure groove fashion. along with “walls,” this song brings a dark undertone to the show every time it’s played and can really get out there when they want it to. nick really drives this version all the way through.

saturday night (10/29) kicked off with a 16 minute jammed out cover of “ghostbusters” which was just plain fucking awesome. i played this for my younger edm-loving coworker yesterday and after the jam started he remarked that it didn’t sound like ghostbusters anymore. big mistake, junior. i proceeded to lecture him on type I vs type II jamming for the next 90 minutes.

this jam really gets out there and segues perfectly into “todd’s tots” which continued to take the energy up beyond the 11 we were already at. i maintain that the beginning sounds like the doobie brothers’ “china grove” but no one agrees with me. another really nice bliss section in the middle of the song before the craziness caps it off.

brian gives us a tour of the shred factory with “ain’t that wrong” in the three spot, getting the asses shaking and heads banging as a bunch of people sang along to the chorus. red’s organ was on point throughout, adding a nice layer in the background.

batting cleanup and out of nowhere they drop an extra laid back cover of green day’s “long view” off the dookie album. i got the album for christmas in 1994, the same day my family got a black lab from santa. we named him duke. i thought of him during this song. because he’s dead now. anyway, he was a good dog and this was a good jam. a very nice surprise.

“backdoor funk” from live vol. 2 has been my go-to spafford listening along with the pizza jam, and while this night’s version is quite shorter than the album’s, they cover a lot of different space with this one and it’s really one of the best jams of the weekend. excellent version.

closing out the set is a cover of herbie hancock’s “cantaloupe island” with mike cunningham on saxophone. i was unfamiliar with this song before the night but they seemed to have done it justice and it’s always great hearing spafford with horns.

a unique take on soft cell’s “tainted love” opened set two before “the reprise” got things going again. someone please tell me another time they’ve played this before “america” because i can’t think of a show where that’s happened. seemed like there were lots of confused but smiling faces around the room. i love when they do stuff like that to keep the fans on their toes.

i was hearing “windmill” and “salamander song” teases for the last two minutes of the reprise before they fully went into the latter, which is another always-welcome fan favorite with the audience participation and joyful bliss peaks (although there were a few too many “heys” during the chorus section, listen to the band noobs). it’s just one of those songs that makes you feel good– about life, yourself, the moment, whatever. great energy in the room because of this one.

“america” following this was really cool and got everyone back into rage mode with the last 3 minutes developing a lovely little jam that segues right into “galisteo way.”

the opening guitar chords always get people moving and this one was no exception. with the crowd nice and lubed up by this point, the singalong portion of the chorus was especially spirited, if wildly out of tune (that’s on me, i’ll raise my hand for that one. i can’t sing for shit. doesn’t mean i’m gonna stop, though).

the jam that came out of the main song was quiet and delicate and mostly stayed that way before “dis go in 5?” came in for a workout. the instrumental behemoth got dark and grimy and had the crowd in a trance while going into another beautiful jam-within-a-jam (check out the lick brian starts around 9:45) before going back in to the finale of galisteo, which itself was an all out dance party.

of all the segues and transitions from the weekend this one might be my favorite. pure joy into dance madness with people jumping up and down in unison.

bringing mike cunningham out again to close the set by covering todd rundgren’s “bang on the drum all day” was an awesome finish and left everyone smiling, screaming and singing along to the chorus.

what more could we have asked for after two straight nights of astounding jams, cool sit-ins and virgin cover songs?

how about an instant classic version of “leave the light on”? there have been so many great versions of this song in 2016 alone, but saturday night’s 25 minute epic is one that holds up after many relistens. like friday’s “all in,” this one makes use of every single note played- you get your money’s worth if you listen start to finish, especially if you liked the night’s “ghostbusters” opener because they bring ray parker’s masterpiece back for a brief but fiery reprise that put a perfect bow on another perfect spafford music weekend.

actually, here’s a reenactment of the collective response during the ltlo peak that went back into the ghostbusters reprise:

so yeah, it was a great two nights.

as always here’s the archive and soundcloud links, but for chrissakes if you have a few extra shekels to spend please go to their bandcamp page and buy live vol. 1 & 2 if not the entire catalogue, of which most of us celebrate in its entirety.

jimi hendrix said “the time i burned my guitar it was like a sacrifice. you sacrifice the things you love. i love my guitar.” i don’t exactly want to set these lads on fire, but i do love them and want to see them succeed to the highest level they’re capable of.

so leaving arizona for a while and making a name for themselves on the national scene is what they need to do, and i urge everyone to continue spreading the word, sending links to jams and shows and just keep getting the name “spafford” out there. the reward we’ll get as fans will be more amazing music and a band that is able to do this full time.

so chicago- enjoy what you’re getting this weekend, on top of a world series to celebrate, you’ve got our band and, by the looks of it, our weather now too.

with love and only the straightest of lasers,




here we go

simba rafiki


oh yeah. Oh Yeah. OHHHH YEAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

after years of people saying “i love these guys, when are they coming to ______ (insert any town besides phoenix)” and getting a blank stare in response, spafford has officially announced tour dates in the midwest. and even better, they’ve partnered with live for live music to make this happen.

their facebook post last month had a lot of us thinking that more dates would be added to the two colorado shows, and it’s great to see that our waiting paid off. reading this at work in real time as it came out today, i was beyond pumped. numerous ric flair woo’s were screamed when i read the announcement.

this is a huge deal, and finally seeing it made official, i was so excited i got up and just started pacing around my office, unknowingly walking outside to the parking lot not having any clue how to react other than going full lattimer on all the parked cars.

when i came back inside, stacey, the office manager, noticed the growing sweat circle around my supple bosom and said “you look like you’ve been breastfeeding.”

that was uncalled for, stacey.

“well you look like you just won a hobo fisting contest” i replied.

“and i wasn’t breastfeeding. i was outside doing jumping jacks and running wind sprints. i also did a hundred pushups in twelve minutes,” all of which was true.

“why?” stacey asked, mouth agape, looking like an incredulous yokel.

there was only one answer, and “spafford is finally touring!” wasn’t it.

instead, i karate chopped the salad she was eating for lunch out of her hands and started air guitaring the solo from the 8/9/14 taco stand right in her face, thrusting my hips and grunting in time the way brian should but doesn’t.

stacey was not amused, but after getting doused in sweat and watching my luscious blonde hair bounce like fields of wheat dancing in the wind, she acquiesced to my demand that she blast the boulder windmill and let the tps reports review themselves.

five minutes into the jam and she agreed to be my tour wife. we consummated instantly in the office storage room. i won’t comment on which one of us screamed “big red” as our bodies writhed in ecstasy to the song’s -and each other’s- climax.

now, corporate wookery aside, the point of celebrating today is that all of us love these five guys, and the time has come for music’s best kept secret to let the rest of the country in on what we’ve been raving about for the last few years. like parents sending a child off to college, our boys are all growns up.

the only other time they’ve left the southwest for an extended period was the glorious and myth-building may/june 2014 tour. they haven’t had the reach where it made sense for them to play, i don’t know, a place like salt lake city on a tuesday night to an audience of one bartender who’s more interested in the mormon tabernacle choir than a 45 minute improvisational jam.

right now, my heart is pounding and even after flagstaff last weekend i wish there was a show tonight. i’m sure a lot of you are feeling the same way. the tour is still a ways off, though, and as always, we need to help get the word out. the excitement we’re feeling today has to carry over to a random conversation a month from now with someone who lives in lincoln, milwaukee, this neenah place, chicago or dekalb. get them to the show.

and if someone says they’ve never heard of spafford, don’t slap them in the mouth or belittle their ancestors as we’ve instinctively trained ourselves to do. just smile and play them a nice soundcheck to ease them in. the music will take care of the rest.

this is a really important tour for the band. they’ve killed it in arizona for years, they’ve made a ton of headway in denver recently, but the midwest and eventually the north east are still where they need to repeatedly deliver in order to make themselves a national touring act. the hard part is done- they have the music, they just need a lot more people to play in front of. word of mouth is how this thing’s going to grow.

finally, here’s a self-serving link to share with someone who may not know where to start with the live stuff, and of course there’s always the band’s own official soundboard page on soundcloud, full shows on the archive, and their facebook page.

see you in the promised land, nerds.


today is the 20th -!!!!!- anniversary of ween’s out of nowhere country album 12 golden country greats. if that means anything to you then you know there’s not much to say -though i’ll try- other than it was an incredibly cool and seminal moment in the band’s history.

a risk similar to the grateful dead’s workingman’s dead and american beauty albums and yes i’ll say it radiohead’s kid a in that it was a total 180 in songwriting, live shows, and even studio albums that caught everyone by surprise.

ween was less than two years removed from adding claude, glenn and dave to the touring and then full time band, so to go to nashville with pure ween songs and have longtime session professionals sort out the instrumentation and play it on record was another huge step for two guys who up til then had been used to taking the stage with each other, a guitar, and a drum machine.

and i’m always amazed at the age of musicians when they have important moments like this in their career. dean and gene were 26 years old when this album came out. when i was 26 i was barely off my family cell phone plan and making money through what you would charitably call nefarious jobs.

dean and gene were on their fifth album and making music with men twice their age who had played with country legends in their own right. think of the balls it took to walk into a studio with these songs, telling guys that played with elvis and willie nelson to hold that solo until right after deaner sings “on your knees you big booty bitch start suckin’.” and then went out on a full tour with them! just one more example of how and why ween is on their own level.

“so long jerry” and “i’ve got no darkside” are the two songs left off 12 gcc for whatever reason or fable you want to believe, but they’re both excellent (the former having been written about jerry garcia) and deserve your attention. this just reinforces the old saying that ween’s b-sides are better than 99% of what most other bands officially release.

i’ve also included a link just below to a fan-made mix of the same fall 1996 tour that live in toronto canada was recorded on (i always thought it was hilarious and very ween to specify the “canada” part, like people would confuse which toronto they had played in).

excuse any and all incoherence in this post, it’s late i’m drunk and didn’t even know it was the anniversary til just now so here goes nothing.

mazel tov and long live ween.

country tour ’96 sbd sampler with the shit creek boys


until a few months ago, ruby andrews was unknown to me. i think she’s one of those supremely talented soul singers from the sixties and early seventies that get lost in the shuffle unless you’re a vinyl collector or obsessed with that genre.

which is depressing because she has one of the most powerful voices i’ve ever heard, and her mark on soul music is huge regardless of her level of fame. the passion and range she has throughout her songs is unmistakable, singing every verse like it’s her last time in a studio. i could listen to her sing soup ingredients and she’d still bring it.

black ruby is my favorite of her four albums, and you can buy it here.

def jam


i’m grateful that shakespeare, whitman, thoreau

never had the pleasure of getting to know

you in their time, for surely they’d have penned

a greater ode to you, than i can even pretend

but you own my heart, and thus i shall try

to prove my love worthy, girthy and lithe


they say that a child cannot possibly feel

heartbreak and love, pain that is real

but you and i know the falsity of that claim

our instant connection was deep and not vain

though details are scarce of when we first met

you raced into my heart like a winnipeg jet

our love was pure, instant and true

i knew i’d never met another like you

our courtship was swift, i wasted no time

even when we were together you were still on my mind

we didn’t play games, we both had what we wanted

our recent selves were ghosts, already haunted

there were many before me, perhaps even some after

all we cared about was making the most of our chapter

while we weathered the valleys and cherished the peaks

know we’re just getting started, no one else shall i seek

in the heat, in the cold, when the day’s young or old

you steam and you simmer, flavors so bold

words have never really meant much between us

you’ll always have my attention with eight to twelve pieces

love has many shapes, but with you i prefer

three sides at the most, and never ever four

chicago, new york, connecticut too

all have laid claim to having the best of you

but i forsake regions and the pride of a country

though i’ll venture to guess you’re nothing special in hungary

many still question the strength of our love

but when they hear your name, it’s me they think of

for when i return home at a long day’s end

energy sapped, back unable to bend

there’s nothing, nothing!, that i’d rather see

than a lovely cheese pizza, just for me.


one of my favorite things to watch, this is jerry at his most animated. this version of “u.s. blues” -38 years ago today- comes in the encore slot of the 4-12-78 show at cameron indoor at duke university, and he sends the crowd off on a wild high.

this is something that can’t be faked; it’s pure and of the moment, which is what makes it so awesome to watch. i never saw the grateful dead, but i know enough that seeing jerry like this on stage was an extremely rare thing to witness.

and as a bonus, here’s jerry and bob getting into it together during “terrapin station” at hampton coliseum on 3-24-87, and below that is “good lovin’ > la bamba” from msg on 9-18-87.

watch bobby looking over at jerry during the terrapin to see if he’s going to join him for the synchronized over-strumming. so great to see jerry letting people know he was having fun up there. the crowd reaction says it all. roar after roar as he makes bobby’s day- and everyone else’s.


it’s friday, and you know what? we’re having such a great time, and we’ve only got a couple minutes before they kick us off the stage, and we played, uh, tweezer in hershey park, but we never did tweezer reprise, so we’re gonna play it again- this is for hershey park!


profit tv show

if you are over 30 you may remember that in 1996, fox aired a show called profit that ran for 5 episodes before being cancelled. there were 9 total that had been filmed, and i recently wasted 7 hours of my life watching them all.

you can pick any mid-90’s fox show and it would have a 83% chance of being the most ridiculous show you’ve ever seen, but profit somehow rises above them all as the king of cheesedick 90’s schlock.

jim profit is the title character and, i guess, protagonist. we learn early on that he was raised by a hillbilly father in rural kentucky and spent his formative years locked in a cardboard box that had a hole in it so he could watch tv. he also had an incestuous relationship with his stepmother bobbi, who steals the spotlight in her return to his life while acting as both foil and sidekick, all the while dropping dialogue so over the top you can almost feel the camera man trying to steady the frame and not succumb to his shoulders as they shake up and down in laughter.

sample quote: “jimmy, you got what i need and you ain’t afraid to use it.” this is said as she aggressively shoves her hands down his pants and basically winks at the camera without actually making eye contact with the audience.

the opening theme is some kind of amalgam between the howling from the good, the bad and the ugly “ahhh-uhh-ahhh-uhh-ahhh… wah-wah-wah” soundtrack and what sounds like a b-side to some mid-90’s techno instrumental. the show also uses a voiceover from profit’s character, which is done in such a weirdly hushed monotone that he sounds like the cobra commander whispering dialogue from a bad soap opera.

the show follows “jimmy” and his quest to take over the company he’s just been hired to work for, which -in a huge coincidence- is the same company whose name and logo graced the cardboard box that he spent his entire childhood in. jimmy goes to great lengths to gain the trust of the two brothers now running the family business and rise from a mid level executive to their right hand man.

he does this with the help of bobbi, his secretary gail whom he blackmails within the first 30 seconds of meeting, and a home computer that somehow has access to literally any and every computer-based information in the world, from the fbi to the hospital that is holding gail’s dying mother.

gail takes care of the majority of the paperwork-related scheming at the office, while bobbi helps in the social sabotaging. this includes trying to break up both of the brothers’ respective marriages by profit having an affair with one of their wives himself while bobbi goes after the other wife who is conveniently a closet lesbian, then dumping her to go after the woman’s now ex-husband.

what i love most is profit’s steadfast and unwavering confidence that everything will go his way. because it does: if someone is impeding him, he usually just murders them and blames it on someone else who is also impeding him. this show makes no bones about the endgame, which is profit’s rise to kingmaker-type power and steamrolling anyone that even remotely resembles an enemy, and the more unbelievable his actions are the more it makes me want to root for him.

i can’t in good conscience give this show an actual recommendation, but all the episodes are on youtube and if you’re looking for something mindless and somewhat entertaining that also provides a touch of perverted nostalgia, knock yourself out.

here’s the first episode:


glory glory it’s friday!


it’s friday- escobar season has returned; make sure to pay all your thugs that are on salary before leaving for the weekend.