Sunday, July 12, 2009

Neil Hamburger: Western Music & Variety - DVD

Hollywood's Radio Recorders was only days from being torn down. The renowned recording space that, through the 40's 50's and 60's housed such historic tracks as Elvis Presley laying down "Jailhouse Rock," Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" and the Beach Boys' capturing "Help Me Rhonda," was going to be replaced by a restaurant.

To pay homage to rock n roll history, America's Funnyman Neil Hamburger moseyed on in, a few drinks under his arm and characteristic flem interupting his horrible jokes, accompanyed by the adroit trio, Dave Gleason (guitar), Atom Ellis (bass) and Prairie Prince (drums), known as the Too Good For Neil Hamburger Band. Neil decided to put on a "free benefit show," a sort of revival of Hee-Haw variety shows, (picture the horrible 70's lemee, bad hair, grainy sets and Conway Twitty, country-western music mixed in with...ehh...jokes?) Such jokes range from cyphilis, to smashmouth and Britney Spear's discarded g-strings...
The music, however, is serious business - while Gleason, Ellis and Prince are more than willing to go along with the Neil's antics and read from cue-cards, there's no joke about their mastery in traditional country twang, bluegrass bouncing rhythms and finger-pickin country boogie - set to the mid-range-grumble-to-high-range-whiney-wail of Neil belting out tunes of alcoholic fathers and entire humans and their careers being dumped into recycle bins..., spackled with charming explitives.

Directed, produced and co-filmed by Steve Moramarco (with Joshua Coleman and Thomas Hurley III on camera), the production fits nicely into the cozy space, with cameras getting in close to all the twangy goodness of the trio trading off solos, and following the ambling Neil around with his drink spilling and shouting at the audience and into the cameras. The film is given that nickelodeon sheen of crackly sepida-tone tint and grainy streaks. Despite their name suggesting their above-ness to this debasement, Neil never hesitates to degrade his band-mates and discoruages groupie-ism - while also balancing in a good amount of his classic, horrible, weird, disgusting, esoteric-yet-baffoonish jokes.

Probably an ideal, nothing to do on a Saturday, stay-in-and-throw-a-few-back type of a player - the intimacy of the close space makes you feel like you're there and the live spontenaety keeps it entertaining.

What's the difference between Red Hot Chili Peppers and the great Harriet Tubman? ....find out here, in well as check out tunes from Neil's latest record, Neil Hamburger Sings Country Winners - on Drag City

Presented by Drag City Films

Neil Hamburger site
(photo: Simone Turkington)

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