FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Welcome to Stoney Spring

by RON JACOBS

One of my favorite bands of the past decade is the California rock country ensemble I See Hawks in LA. Sometimes electric, other times acoustic, the unceasingly intricate and melodic guitar work, sweet vocals and lyrical sensibility featured across I See Hawks’ catalog reminds the listener that rock and roll can be incisive and fun without giving an inch.

The original drummer of I See Hawks was Anthony Lacques. Just last month Anthony released a CD of his own. Titled Right On Heliotrope!, this disc from Anthony Lacques’ newest band Stoney Spring finds a few members of I See Hawks working behind Anthony. Many of the vocals are from Rob Waller, who also sings lead for I See Hawks. The band is rounded out with Paul Lacques’ pedal steel and guitar and Sly and the Family Stone’s Jimi Hawes bass playing. Waller’s baritone voice has a gentle, melodic authority that encourages a close listening to the lyrics he’s putting forth. Piano dominates many of the tunes here, sounding occasionally like Mose Allison and sometimes like early Herbie Hancock, but always unique. The prominence of the piano doesn’t mean the guitar is not worth noting. Indeed, the less defined nature of Stoney Spring’s music in terms of genre gives Paul Lacques greater room to display his artistry and versatility on the instrument. Occasionally as anthemic as the best stadium rock, sometimes sitar-like, it is always fluid and quintessentially pleasing.stoneyspring

The songs on Right on Heliotrope! hit a number of themes. There’s a quick commentary on the vapid (make that nauseating) nature of modern capitalist culture titled “New Blood.” That is followed by one of the cleverest attacks on that economic system’s current insidious plan to make a dollar off of everything, every thought, every resource, and every human service in existence. This song, titled “Jobs,” is nominally about the Apple Corporation’s Steve Jobs. In reality, Jobs is just a useful and deserving foil in this ditty. “I don’t blame Steve Jobs,” goes one verse “for making rock and roll a shopping mall.” Several other examples of Apple’s ongoing privatization of human relationships are sung, reminding the listener of the corruption of our lives. This, however, is only one aspect of the tune.

It is the other aspect that hits closer. That is our complicity in Apple’s campaign. We voluntarily give up our privacy and our record albums for the sleek sexiness and convenience of the IPhone and its apps. Like Johnny Cash’s 1971 song “Man in Black” and its verse “Well, we’re doing mighty fine, I do suppose/With our streak of lightning cars and fancy clothes…” Lacques’s point in this song (and the previous one) is not only that the content of our songs, films, and television shows help to form a consumerist mentality, so does the method of their delivery. When considered in the manner put forth in this song, the transition from jukebox to hi-fi to boom box to MP3 players defines the privatization of public performance in a very obvious and tangible manner. Stoney Spring reminds us that we are as complicit in the destruction of our spiritual selves as the corporations who provide us with the means to do so.

Anyone who’s listened to Golden Oldie Radio knows there is a long tradition of teenage death songs. Two that come to mind when considering this genre are the 1960 US hit for Ray Peterson titled “Tell Laura I Love Her” and the 1959 Jean Dinning-composed “Teen Angel.” Stoney Spring puts their own twist to these tunes with the song “Class of 1975.” This song doesn’t pretend to the innocence of its predecessors. The girl ending up as a corpse here accidentally overdoses; there are no train tracks or car crashes, just too much fun. Neither are there any declarations of undying love here, just the singer’s story of a friendship with a hippie girl who partied too hard one weekend on Quaaludes and whiskey and died.

Like the aforementioned I See Hawks in LA, Stoney Spring understands the essentially desperate times we face. Yet, despair is not the essence of their music. Instead, one finds a joyful challenge to the ever expanding matrix that would render our cultural pursuits to be less meaningful than the dollar bills we pay for it. Political without the abrasiveness so often associated with that term, insightful without being preachy, and, most importantly, enjoyable, this first disc from Stoney Spring is worth checking out.

Ron Jacobs is the author of the just released novel All the Sinners, Saints. He is also the author of  The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground and Short Order Frame Up and The Co-Conspirator’s Tale. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden.  His third novel All the Sinners Saints is a companion to the previous two and is due out in April 2013.  He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press.  He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

More articles by:
June 27, 2016
Jason Holland
The Tragedy of Nothing
Jeffrey St. Clair
Revolution Reconsidered, Guest Starring Bernard Sanders in the Role of Robespierre
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
Pete Dolack
Killing Ourselves With Technology
David Krieger
The 10 Worst Acts of the Nuclear Age
Lamont Lilly
Movement for Black Lives Yields New Targets of the State
Martha Rosenberg
A Hated Industry Fights Back
Robert Fantina
Hillary, Gloria and Jill: a Brief Look at Alternatives
Chris Doyle
No Fireworks: Bicentennial Summer and the Decline of American Ideals
Michael Doliner
Beyond Dangerous: the Politics of Climate
Colin Todhunter
Modi, Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill: Doing Business or Corporate Imperialism?
Steve Church
Brexit: a Rush for the Exits!
Matthew Koehler
Mega Corporation Gobbles Up Slightly Less-Mega Corporation; Chops Jobs to Increase Profits; Blames Enviros. Film at 11.
David Green
Rape Culture, The Hunting Ground, and Amy Goodman: a Critical Perspective
Ed Kemmick
Truckin’: Pro Driver Dispenses Wisdom, Rules of the Road
Alessandro Bianchi
“China Will React if Provoked Again: You Risk the War”: Interview with Andre Vltchek
Christy Rodgers
Biophilia as Extreme Sport
Missy Comley Beattie
At Liberty
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail