Friday, December 30, 2011

Wah-Wah Cowboys, Volume II

Hiss Gldn Mssr presents
Wah-Wah Cowboys, Volume II

00:00 "Making a Decision" :: Mississippi Charles Bevel
03:30 "Who Ya Tryin' To Fool?" :: Sand
08:47 "Don't Hold Your Breath" :: Ike Turner
12:22 "Tullahoma Dancing Pizza Man" :: Eddie Rabbitt
15:10 "I'm Sober Now" :: Danny O'Keefe
17:54 "Ride My Rainbow" :: McGuinness Flint
20:47 "Color Him Father" :: Linda Martell
23:26 "For Roach" :: Jimmie Spheeris
26:09 "Kiss the World Goodbye" :: J.J. Cale
27:55 "Smoke Rings" :: David Wiffen
31:49 "Darkness, Darkness" :: Phil Upchurch
34:23 "Red Dirt Boogie Brother" :: Jesse Ed Davis
38:06 "Another Season Song" :: Michael Chapman
41:28 "Look Around You" :: Danny Kirwan
44:34 "Yellow House" :: Kossoff, Kirke, Tetsu, & Rabbit
47:55 "Homesick Kid" :: Compton & Batteau

This was a hard year, but good. We made it.

Monday, July 11, 2011


On November 1st, 2011-- an apropos date known variously, and coincidentally, as the high harvest holiday of Samhain, the liturgical All Saints' Day, y el primer Dia de los Muertos-- Hiss Golden Messenger will release a new long-playing vinyl record entitled Poor Moon on Durham, North Carolina's boutique Paradise of Bachelors label.

Composed and arranged by Head Messenger M.C. Taylor at his home in the rural Piedmont mill town of Pittsboro and recorded with longtime collaborator Scott Hirsch in New York, California and North Carolina, Poor Moon offers a moving culmination of the spiritually-charged song cycle commenced on last year's critically acclaimed
Bad Debt album. Treading a red-clay road between Bad Debt and Country Hai East Cotton in sound and sentiment, it is the first fully electric ensemble recording since the highly limited HGM live release Root Work in 2010.

Featuring contributions from Terry Lonergan, Nathan Bowles (Black Twig Pickers; Pelt), Hans Chew (D. Charles Speer & the Helix), Matt Cunitz (Brightblack Morning Light), Tom Heyman (The Court & Spark), visual artist Alex Jako and others, Poor Moon represents both an elaboration and inversion of previous Hiss Golden Messenger efforts, proposing an America at perpetual sundown, wracked by devotion, wrecked by celebration. Named in homage to the Canned Heat track penned by the immortal Blind Owl, Poor Moon conjures the unsteady experience of soul at home in the wild, and it stands as the greatest Hiss Golden Messenger album to date.

Paradise of Bachelors is proud to present such a captivating document of Southern songcraft as its first foray into contemporary music. This autumnal album of twelve songs will be available in a limited edition of 500 copies, pressed on 150-gram virgin vinyl, packaged in hand-numbered tip-on sleeves, and accompanied by digital download coupons.

For a limited time, you can download the album cut "Call Him Daylight" in exchange for providing an email address HERE.

Please consider "liking" Paradise of Bachelors and Hiss Golden Messenger on Facebook, where you'll find their most up-to-the-minute announcements, rambles, and information regarding pre-ordering and record release celebrations for Poor Moon.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Banjo player Don Stover called it ‘snake music’ when referring to the work of Scotty Stoneman—the haunted Virginian who could sound his fiddle like the bark of a carrion crow or a silk stocking slipping on slow—not to mark Stoneman’s obsession with black snakes so much as to describe the way that he would sway like an asp in the footlights, entranced, when he played.

Robert Johnson played snake music too. I have stayed awake at night and seen his guitar leer like a jackal. I have heard Robert Johnson coo like a mama in a room full of newborn babies. And while there is no visual record of Johnson playing—none that we know of, anyway—I imagine he closed his eyes and swayed slow when he played. Listen to his music—how could he not? His is the sound of a soul in flux. His is a deep study.

The facts as we know them go like this: Robert Johnson was born in Hazelhurst, Mississippi, in May of 1911. From 1930 onwards, Johnson worked as an itinerant musician in the juke joints and house parties that dotted the Delta landscape. In 1936, the young musician journeyed to San Antonio, Texas, where he made his first recordings for Brunswick Records. The following year, he again traveled to Texas—this time, Dallas—where he recorded another selection of songs for Brunswick. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Johnson died in 1938 near Greenwood, Mississippi after drinking strychnine-laced whiskey. Musician Sonny Boy Williamson reportedly cautioned Johnson against drinking from an open bottle to which Johnson replied, “Don’t ever knock a bottle out of my hand.” He was 27 years old.

Robert Johnson’s collected works fit easily on two long-play records. These sides forever guarantee his place in the American cultural lexicon. And while it’s easy to get lost in the Johnson mythography that seems almost Biblical in age and import, it’s essential that we hear his music for how complex and alive—musically and emotionally—it was. Leave his crossroads deal with the Devil for the theologians.

While there are more harrowing bluesmen—Skip James, maybe, or Robert Pete Williams, or Washington Phillips—Robert Johnson was the cipher. His music is slippery and blue. It jumps like a silver fish. It weighs heavy as the dirt from a new made grave, and laughs like a drunk on the first night of a bender. He was arcane, but surely not primitive. He was the opposite of primitive. He was the progress that we all hope to be and the immortality that results when we live like we don’t mind dying. He is the American totem.

And then there’s snake music another way: The tune the charmer pipes to entice the creature from the basket. And while Johnson may have been a cobra entranced, I believe he was also the piper. And perhaps understanding the serpentine wiles enough to bring them into the world and dance them around for a little while—perhaps this is a curse. But Robert Johnson did this too.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Friday, February 4th as part of the Folk Union at King’s Place series; curated by Arctic Circle. Outshine Family supports.

8 PM

Kings Place

90 York Way
N1 9AG

Tickets can be purchased in advance here:

Saturday, February 5th @ Rough Trade West

This is a free in-store that begins at 5 PM.

130 Talbot Road
W11 1JA
T: 020 7229 8541

Wednesday, February 9th @ Club Uncut at The Slaughtered Lamb. Outshine Family supports.

7:30 PM

34 - 35 Great Sutton St. Clerkenwell,
London, EC1V ODX
T: 020 7253 1516

Tickets can be purchased in advance here:

Friday, February 11th @ Clwb Ifor Bach (top floor). Cate Le Bon and H. Hawkline support, along with Special Guest DJs. This performance will be prefaced by a 5:30 PM instore at Spiller's Records- the oldest record store in the world!

8 PM

11 Womanby Street

Cardiff CF10 1BR


Saturday, February 12th @ Lono Presents at Miss Peapod’s. Colour Sun supports.

8 PM

Jubilee Wharf,
Penryn, Cornwall
01326 374424

*On most of these overseas shows, I will be accompanied by Rick Tomlinson on second guitar.


Thursday, February 24th @ Gillie's, Blacksburg, Virginia with Hans Chew and the Black Twig Pickers.

153 College Avenue

Blacksburg, Virginia 24060-7401


Friday, February 25th @ The Palisades, Eggleston, Virginia with Hans Chew and the Black Twig Pickers.

8 PM

168 Village St.
Eggleston, Virginia 24086


Saturday, February 26th @ All Day Records, Carrboro, North Carolina with Hans Chew and the Black Twig Pickers.

8 PM

112A East Main Street

Carrboro, NC 27510


This is the stateside record release show for Bad Debt!

$10 donation strongly encouraged. BYOB.


During my UK trip, I’ll also be taping a session for the great series Songs From the Shed, which will be posted online at a later date.

While in the UK, I’ll have vinyl copies of Bad Debt and Root Work, Bad Debt and (the recently repressed) Live in Big Sur disks, and T-shirts for sale. If you're planning on attending one of these shows and you would like me to reserve something for you, please email me at hissgoldenmessenger at yahoo dot com.

If you have any hot tips on good places to visit, please email me at same.

My thanks to the good people at blackmaps, David Morris, Uncut Magazine, Hans, the Black Twigs, Outshine Family, Rick Tomlinson, Arctic Circle, Rough Trade, and all the other fine folks that are making this possible for me. Thank you.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bishop Dready Manning :: Roanoke Rapids, NC

I played blues up until I was about 27 years old. That was 1962. Then I stopped playing the blues and switched to gospel. Well, I was playing both all along, but blues were my main thing; rock and roll, stuff like that. What happened was I had a hemorrhage in 1962; I was bleeding from my nose. I bled for about a week and a half. I wasn't able to work, because of the way I was bleeding from my head. I bled night and day for about a week and a half. I went to medical doctors, nose specialists, and they'd pack it, but still blood was running down on the inside of me, all of it that wasn't coming out of my nose.

I was willing to try anything to stop it, it didn't matter to me, so an old man came to my house after he heard about me. He told me, "I know somebody that can help you." He said, "He's a root doctor." I didn't want to have any dealing with it, but if he could help me, it was OK with me, you know? So I went to the root doctor in Littleton, and he checked me out. I was bleeding so fast. So he told me to let him have my right shoe. It's kind of funny, in a way. He took my right shoe, went into another room, and brought it back.

What were you thinking at this point? Were you confused about what was happening?

What was I thinking? I'll take any help I can get, that's the way I was thinking. Because I was a hard-drinking man too, through the years. I mean, very hard. I had to have my drink to play my music; to get in the spirit of it, you know? But anyway, this guy took my shoe and came back in. He told me, "I want you to wear this shoe for three days and nights. In three days and nights, you're going to be alright." That's what he told me.

So the funny thing about it is at night, I wouldn't pull that shoe off. When I got into bed, I'd pull up a chair beside the bed and let my foot rest on it overnight. I just believed what he said, that it was going to work. But it didn't work. That third day, I went back to him, and I was bleeding so fast it scared him. He said, "You have to go back to your family doctor." I knew then that he couldn't help me. I went back to my family doctor and the nose specialist, neither one of them could do any good.

I had a first cousin that had just started with the Holiness people in the church. The Holy people had prayed for his mother when she was on her deathbed. The prayer that they prayed for her raised her from her deathbed and healed her. Man, I'll tell you- this stuff here- I start telling it and I start feeling it.

So he asked the Holy people to come and pray for me, because I was bad off sick and they felt like they were going to lose me. On a Monday afternoon they came. They drove up in my yard, and I looked out my window and saw them. I didn't want to let them in, because they were Sanctified folks, and I was a Baptist. That's just the way it was. One of mine said, "Don't let them in. Those Sanctified folks are going to come in and worry you to death, and you're already sick." But someone else said, "Don't do that. It wouldn't look right." So I went to the door and asked them in. They came in- three of them- and they started talking with me, and letting me know what their Lord could do for me, and telling me what the Lord had done for them. Then they said, "Do you want us to pray for you?" I said, "You might as well. I've done tried everything else." Those folks gathered around and prayed their prayer and faith. And when they prayed, I was healed just like popping your fingers.

Man. Good God Almighty.

So that was it? You were ready to give up drinking and hard-living?

Everything. Everything. Yes, I was a changed man when they finished that prayer. God healed me through their prayer, changed my mind. I had two half-gallons of bootleg whiskey in my kitchen; I had some beer in there. That's when I was drinking and having fun. So I went to my backside door and took the whiskey and took the top off and just poured it out on the ground. I was done. I was finished with it. I didn't want any more of it. I took the beer and took it out to the fish pond; took it down there- there was a whole lot of it- and threw it out to keep from having that. I felt like if I kept it, I was going to drink it. OK? So I came back to my house and I told my wife what I'd done. The next day, I went back to my job.