Required reading 

Music Notes

Music Notes

What started as Tommy Womack’s rock ’n’ roll swan song turned into the popular success he’d always struggled to achieve. After a decade of strife as a singer-guitarist in regional rock bands, Womack wrote Cheese Chronicles: The True Story of a Rock ’n’ Roll Band You’ve Never Heard Of. Not long after the book’s publication, Womack’s fate began to change—partly because of his hilariously honest memoirs, which have become a cult favorite among musicians both famous and unknown. “I feel like I’m getting more and more attention,” Womack says. “And I’ve got to say, it feels pretty good.”

Cheese Chronicles is now in its third printing, having been picked up by Dowling Press after the demise of its original publisher, Eggman Publishing. For all the horrors and humiliations it recounts, the book underscores only one thing: that Womack loves rock ’n’ roll. A newly completed album by Tommy Womack and the Geniuses proves that he’s a damn good rock ’n’ roll musician as well.

The album, currently being sent to record labels, displays the same wicked, self-deprecating wit that makes Cheese Chronicles so delightful. “I’ve come to terms with my own sense of humor,” Womack says. “I spent some time running away from it. You can do a dozen serious songs, and if you do one funny one, that’s the one that people will remember. Now I think that’s OK. Now I think I’m lucky to have people walk away remembering anything about a show.”

Womack has good reason to have his hopes up, for he’s been on a roll in recent months. The rocker-turned-author confirms that writing the book renewed his creative vigor: After finishing Cheese Chronicles, he began writing songs again. Then he began getting calls from musicians who’d read the book. One of them was Jason Ringenberg of Jason & the Scorchers, who contacted Womack to tell him how much he enjoyed it. Before the conversation finished, they agreed to get together to write songs. The result: The Scorchers included four songs cowritten by Womack on their recent Clear Impetuous Morning album.

Among the others to pass on their praises were members of two bands that influenced Womack greatly—Cheap Trick and seminal ’70s New York group The Dictators.

All of which has inspired Womack to keep creating rock music while continuing to write essays and books. He’s currently finishing a comic novel, and his newly realigned band makes its debut this Friday at 12th & Porter. The current Geniuses lineup includes George Bradfute on guitar, Paul Slivka on bass, Steve Ebe on drums, and Lisa Oliver Gray on harmony vocals.

After all this time, Womack says he has learned to keep his goals a little more realistic. “I want to make enough playing music to make payments on my truck,” he says. “My long-term goal is to keep making records and maybe to make enough to buy a Winnebago so the wife and kids can come out with me to the gigs on weekends.” (MM)

A bunch of cowboys wander into a honky-tonk, listen for a while to the band onstage, and decide they like what they hear—as evinced by hollered requests for “that song about the vagina.” Hey, it could happen—and it pretty much did at the Opryland Hotel, when the singer known as Tammy Faye Starlite warbled a jaw-dropping pro-life tribute called “God Has Lodged a Tenant in My Uterus” at the ICME Convention last year. Tammy Faye’s testimony is the centerpiece of the Town ’n Kuntry Karavan, an aggregate of New York club musicians and performance artists that wends its way to Lower Broadway this week.

A bizarre blend of musical theater, extremist parody, and even a straightforward song or two, the Karavan pays backhanded homage to the country package tours of years past. In addition to Tammy Faye—a.k.a. actress Tammy Lang, who played the wacky maid Donna for two years on The Guiding Light—the bill features a mysterious big-haired hayseed act called the Kuntry Kuzzins. Backing musicians may include anyone from session player Mark McCarron to former Television drummer Billy Ficca.

From a musical perspective, the most interesting act is aGNELLI & rAVE, an acclaimed folk-rock duo made up of Lauren Agnelli, former bassist/vocalist for retro-beat revivalists the Washington Squares, and former Teenage Head bandleader Dave Rave Des Roches. The entire company rolls into town Sunday for a show Monday night at Henry’s Coffeehouse and a special appearance Wednesday at—stand back—Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.

“We’re thrilled to be playing where Patsy Cline hung out,” says Agnelli, who released a superb album of torchy pop last year with Brave Combo. A fan of Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette, Agnelli says that the show’s jibes at religious extremism and country music, though pointed, are intended in fun. “I love God in all his forms, and I was raised religiously,” she muses, popping her syllables like bubblegum, “but I’m a thinking person, ya know?” That’s something to keep in mind when Tammy Faye launches into her big number, “God’s a Hard Habit to Break.”

After nearly a decade on Nashville’s club scene in various incarnations, For Kate’s Sake is readying a retrospective CD that will include the band’s many local radio cuts. Lead singer-songwriter Kris Wilkinson reports that Goodie Bag, a “greatest hits” CD featuring tracks from the group’s nine-year history, should be available in July—news that will delight anyone who used to request “Head in Hand” or “Little Red Riding Hood” on the WRVU local show. New tracks will be produced by guitarist George Marinelli.

Wilkinson says her songs sport a different sound in their current arrangement, which emphasizes upright bass, cello, viola, and acoustic guitar. She’ll perform songs new and old at Caffé Milano this coming Wednesday, May 28, with a lineup that includes Michele Meininger, Charlie Chadwick, and Mike Rudofsky. The Graveblankets, a Cincinnati band made up of former members of the Bears, the Psychodots, and Human Radio, will also perform. Showtime is 9 p.m. (JR)

Elliptical dispatches: Shock-rockers The Impotent Sea Snakes arrive Sunday night at the Exit/In with strippers, sex acts, and rubber phalluses galore. Even if the band plays lame glam-metal, the low-rent Marilyn Manson theatrics oughta serve up a steaming pile of cheap thrills. And how can you hate a band with a member named Buck Futt? Freak out, man....

The Fairfield Four have accepted an invitation to perform as opening act on John Fogerty’s tour, his first in than 12 years....

Former Nashville Scene columnist Ed Morris has finished a new book, Edward Morris’ Complete Guide to Country Music Videos, which will be published June 1 by Storm Coast Press. The first of its kind, the reference book lists titles and information on more than 3,500 country music videos....

The Honeyrods’ self-titled debut album on Capricorn Records has been scheduled for a July 29 release. It was produced by Matt Hyde, who previously worked with Porno for Pyros.

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