Back From The Grave

Everyone jump for joy as the news page is back to it’s full glory :o ) So comment away and be sure to check out the last few posts as they’ve been updated with pics and things.
This morning my inbox was filled with emails from The Crimea pointing me towards this news article. Apparently it made the front page of the Wall Street Journal before being syndicated around numerous other papers. Click more to see what all the fuss was about.
Inbetween admiring pics of himself on the BBC website and sunning himself on the beaches of Cali, Owen came across a review of the band’s March 3rd London Barfly gig on the Caught In The Crossfire website. Hit more if you can’t find it.
Finally, tours and album releases; watch out for UK versions of each in a couple months time.

‘freeeeebiiird!’ Love it or hate it, the call for the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic has been a mainstay of concerts of every kind for decades

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

One recent Tuesday night at New York’s Bowery Ballroom, the Crimea had just finished its second song. The Welsh quintet’s first song had gone over fairly well, the second less so, and singer/guitarist Davey MacManus looked out at the still-gathering crowd.

Then, from somewhere in the darkness came the cry, “Free Bird!”

It made this night like so many other rock ‘n’ roll nights in America.

“Free Bird” isn’t the Crimea’s song; it’s from the 1973 debut album by legendary Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd. The band’s nine-minute march from ruminative piano to wailing guitar couldn’t be less like the Crimea’s jagged punk-pop. But it was requested nonetheless.

Somebody is always yelling out the title. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a show where it hasn’t happened,” says Bill Davis of the veteran country-punk band Dash Rip Rock.

“It’s just the most astonishing phenomenon,” says Mike Doughty, the former front man of the “deep slacker jazz” band Soul Coughing, adding that “these kids, they can’t be listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd.”

Yelling “Free Bird!” has been a rock cliche for years, guaranteed to elicit laughs from drunks and scorn from music fans who have long since tired of the joke. And it has spread beyond music, prompting the Chicago White Sox organist to add the song to her repertoire and inspiring a greeting card in which a drunk holding a lighter hollers “Free Bird!” at wedding musicians.

Bands mostly just ignore the taunt. But one common retort is: “I’ve got your ‘free bird’ right here.” That’s accompanied by a middle finger. It’s a strategy Dash Rip Rock’s former bassist Ned Hickel used. According to fans’ accounts of shows, so have Jewel and Hot Tuna’s Jack Casady. Jewel declines to comment. Casady says that’s “usually not my response to those kind of things.”

Others have offered more than the bird. On a recent live album, Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock declares that “if this were the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and you were going to die in 20 minutes — just long enough to play ‘Free Bird’ — we still wouldn’t play it.” Dash Rip Rock often plays “Stairway to Freebird,” a mash-up of the Skynyrd epic and Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” that Davis boasts lasts “less than two minutes. . . . You’re finished before people get mad.”

How did this strange ritual begin? “Free Bird” is hardly obscure — it’s a radio staple consistently voted one of rock’s greatest songs. One version — and an important piece of the explanation — anchors Skynyrd’s 1976 live album “One More From the Road.” On the record, singer Ronnie Van Zant, who was killed along with two other bandmates in a 1977 plane crash, asks the crowd, “What song is it you want to hear?” That unleashes a deafening call for “Free Bird,” and Skynyrd obliges with a 14-minute rendition.

To understand the phenomenon, it also helps to be from Chicago. When asked why they continue to request “Free Bird,” Hickel’s tormentors yell out, “Kevin Matthews!”

Kevin Matthews is a Chicago radio personality who has exhorted his fans — the KevHeads — to yell “Free Bird” for years, and claims to have originated the tradition in the late 1980s, when he says he hit upon it as a way to torment Florence Henderson of “Brady Bunch” fame, who was giving a concert. He figured somebody should yell something at her “to break up the monotony.” The longtime Skynyrd fan settled on “Free Bird,” saying the epic song “just popped into my head.”

Matthews says the call was heeded, inspiring him to go down the listings of coming area shows, looking for entertainers who deserved a “Free Bird” and encouraging the KevHeads to make it happen.

But he bemoans the decline of “Free Bird” etiquette. “It was never meant to be yelled at a cool concert — it was meant to be yelled at someone really lame,” he says. “If you’re going to yell ‘Free Bird,’ yell ‘Free Bird’ at a Jim Nabors concert.”

But did “Free Bird” truly start with the KevHeads? Longtime Chicago Tribune music writer Greg Kot says he remembers the cry from the early 1980s. He suggests it originated as an in-joke among indie-rock fans “having their sneer at mainstream classic rock.”

Other music veterans think it dates back to 1970s audiences’ shouts for it and other guitar sagas, such as “Whipping Post,” by the Allman Brothers Band, and “Smoke on the Water,” by Deep Purple.

But as with many mysteries, the true origin may be unknowable — cold comfort for bands still to be confronted with the inevitable cry from the darkness.

So what do the members of Skynyrd think of the tradition? Johnny Van Zant, Ronnie’s brother and the band’s singer since 1987, says “it’s not an insult at all — I think it’s kind of cool. It’s fun, and people are doing it in a fun way. That’s what music’s supposed to be about.”

Besides, Van Zant has a confession: His wife persuaded him to see Cher in Jacksonville a couple of years ago, and he couldn’t resist yelling “Free Bird!” himself. “My wife is going, ‘Stop! Stop!’ ” he recalls, laughing. “I embarrassed the hell out of her.”

Article by Jason Fry from The Oregonian.

The Crimea
Barfly London
3rd March 2005

PR Shot by Iona BatemanDespite the snow falling outside and the warnings of a blizzard about to hit the capital, in Camden it’s hotting up as packs of fans, industry folk, and scenesters (complete with Flock-of-Seagulls hair-do’s), descent on The Barfly to catch The Crimea’s last minute show before the British five piece head off to the US to support Ash.

The show’s completely sold out and as we finally managed to inch our way through the crowds The Holloway are just starting their support slot. At first it seems like The Libertines have reformed, but this four piece are a cleaner cut act – think Babyshambles without the shambles (or the crack for that matter). The sound is clear and defined without being too pristine, the vocals controlled and slick, but occasionally racing to a crescendo before being reined back in. Sporting a trilby and braces, The Holloway’s frontman draws the audience in with songs that meander like stories, tales of broken love affairs and interlaced with witty quips. With the Razorlight, Babyshambles and their compatriots still basking as the darlings of the NME, here’s hoping this guys can catch a lift on their tail coats before the fickle music world tunes into something else. Definitely one to watch.

The Crimea take to the stage a little after 10, gently sparkling fairy lights above the stage heralding their arrival. Formed in 2002 by 2 ex-Crocketts members, they quickly gained a cult following supporting bands like The Get Up Kids, Dashboard Confessional, Travis, Primal Scream and Ash, to name but a few. Having been touted by John Peel amongst others, they recorded an EP, and took music industry by storm at SXSW in 2004, signing to Warner soon after. Tonight is one of their first shows back in London after polishing their new album to perfection with Chris Shaw in US… and what a homecoming it is.

Frontman Davey mixes spoken vocals and a soaring authoritative and sharp voice into tracks that are catchy, intriguing and melodic. Keyboards and harmonica seduce the crowd as they filter through into the beautifully written hooks. The Crimea clearly don’t fit into any genre, it’s strong, emotive fuelled rock, but they seem pick and choose the best of all, from Buck 65-esque ramblings across to upbeat Ash-like crowd pleasers, through to Snow Patrol’s tragedy (co-incidentally their first EP was aptly named ‘Tragedy Rocks’.)

Upbeat crowd pleasers like ‘White Russian Galaxy’ and “Baby Boom” are mixed with more recent additions like “Loosing My Hair”, which Davey blushes is about just that, and the dramatic “Gazillions of Miniature Violins’. “Girl Just Died” is the night’s sing-a-long tune, even with the ever bizarre lyrics “If you want to see my happy side, better tell me my girl just died…” but the best is left till last with the War Child charity single and show stopper “Someone’s Crying”. There’s a dream like quality to the lyrics and melody, especially as they slide into a slightly self indulgent instrumental interrupted only by Davey’s haunting, almost deranged cries. It’s a dramatic end to a hugely impressive set from a band who really are on the up.

As we walk out into the snow, and the band head off to conquer the US with Ash, we can but hope they come back to London soon, because with sets like tonight’s, it’s bound to be a victorious homecoming.

To download the War Child charity single “Someonei’s Crying”

Review by Dee Massey for Caught In The Crossfire.

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One Response to “Back From The Grave”

  1. Denyer says:

    > "It’s just the most astonishing phenomenon," says Mike Doughty,
    > the former front man of the "deep slacker jazz" band Soul Coughing,
    > adding that "these kids, they can’t be listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd."

    I got a copy almost ten years ago back in school, plus lots of kids will have heard it at least once in their parents’ record collection.

    If I’m likely to shout anything it’s probably "Rime of the Ancient Mariner". Thirteen minutes of cheesy rock goodness.

    > "Girl Just Died" is the night’s sing-a-long tune

    Yay! :-)

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