Friday, November 29, 2013


To get from Columbus, Ohio, to Ann Arbor, Michigan, you head north on High Street with a simmering hate until it burns into a full blown fury three hours later.

It's a tradition of derision handed down from generation to generation for more than 100 years.

The Dead Schembechlers are (L to R) bassist Bo Vicious, drummer
Bo Scabies, vocalist Bo Biafra and guitarist Bo Thunders.
It's been going on longer than the World Series. Its bad blood boils at temperatures only imagined by the Hatfields and McCoys, the Yankees and the Red Sox, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.

This is Ohio State vs. Michigan.

This is The Game.

Its fans become foul-mouthed and mean-spirited while spewing vitriolic lore they will retell until the end of time.

Wolverine Destroyer
The Dead Schembechlers wear their Block O hats of hate with pride.

They are the "Best Damn Punk Band in the Land."

They are the scarlet and gray defenders of all things Buckeye and Woody Hayes.

Their 2005 debut, Wolverine Destroyer and its 200H8 follow-up, Rodriguez To Ruin, are mostly punk songs you know with new lyrics you'll quickly understand.

The characters are real. You've seen them, loved them and loathed them. You've laughed at their follies and cried for the injustice of those victimized by the International Wolverine Conspiracy.

Rodriguez To Ruin
"We swore in blood on a stormy night to keep Ohio from the grasp of the evil Michiganites," the Dead Schembechlers declared on their self-titled theme song.

The Buckeye victories and heroes (Savior Woody, Ted Ginn, Mike Nugent) are toasted loudly. The Michigan shortfalls and goats (Mike Lantry, Rich Rodriguez, Chad Henne) are ridiculed even more raucously.

Many of the lyrics are not for the feint of heart. The Dead Schembechlers melodically drop the "F-bomb" as often as the Wolverines do passes.

Their most famous Hate Michigan Rally came on the day their ironic namesake, Woody's hated rival and best friend, Bo Schembechler, died in 2006, just before a No.1 vs. No.2 match-up in Ohio Stadium.

What began as a sold-out homage to The Game became twisted national news as a press conference was called to discuss whether or not a concert by the Dead Schembechlers should go on in light of the death of The Schembechler.

A "God Bless Bo" message was put on the Newport Music Hall marquee and, just as the 42-39 Ohio State victory lived up to the hype on Saturday, so did the concert the night before.

There was a touching toast to Bo before Watershed (three of the four Dead Schembechlers) opened for themselves as their Columbus rock war horse alter egos. Then, 1,800+ reveled in a blaze of scarlet lights with the Schembechlers in our bile for all things maize, blue and with an "M" for "Moron" on their hats.

The fallout from the concert and the game that followed will live in the Buckeye/Wolverine legend forever:

*After much debate over whether or not the teams should play in a rematch for the national championship, USC mauls Michigan in the Rose Bowl 32-18. Seven days later, Ohio State is obliterated 41-14 by a Florida team coached by previous OSU assistant and future head coach Urban Meyer.

*The following season, Ohio State heads back to the national championship game to lose to LSU 38-24, as the plot for SEC World Domination takes further hold.

Three Chords And A Cloud of Dust II
*In 2007, Watershed releases Three Chords And A Cloud Of Dust II from their performance at the Hate Rally the year before. The tour to support the record is the jumping off point for the 2012 memoir by bassist Joe Oestreich, the incredible Hitless Wonder: A Life In Minor League Rock And Roll. In one of its few disappointments, there are no mentions of the Dead Schembechlers or the band's escapades as Buckeye super heroes.

*Also in 2007, HBO produces the documentary Michigan vs. Ohio State: The Rivalry, an in-depth view into the history of The Game. The 2006 Hate Rally footage and commentary from Bo Biafra are among its many highlights. It remains a multiple must-view every football season no matter which colors you sport.

*Michigan coach Lloyd Carr retires after the 2007 season and a 14-3 loss to Ohio State in Ann Arbor. He is replaced by Rich "Weasel" Rodriguez, who is three and out as the Michigan head man and 0-3 against the Buckeyes.

*In the International Wolverine Conspiracy's greatest victory, two of Ohio State's greatest Wolverine Destroyers - Jim Tressel and Terrell Pryor - are taken down in "Tattoo Gate." Tressel is forced to resign with a 9-1 record against Michigan and Pryor's senior season is sacrificed in the self-inflicted fallout. He leaves with a 3-0 tally in The Game.

*Before the 2011 season, Brady Hoke takes over the Wolverines, while Buckeye native son Luke Fickell does his best to steer the scarlet and gray in a one-year appointment. Michigan wins The Game 40-34 in Ann Arbor.

*The 2008 and 2010 editions of the Hate Rally are just as spirited, though held in smaller venues with slightly sloppier performances. In further evidence that the International Wolverine Conspiracy exists, the 2012 event was announced, then mysteriously cancelled. According to the Dead Schembechlers web site, Bo Biafra remains kidnapped and held at Camp GitMoeller for "Re-Education Through Wolverine Labor." Perhaps, no future indeed.

In 2012, Meyer returned to his Ohio roots with rock star credentials as the new Ohio State coach. At the time of this writing, his teams have yet to lose a game and stand at 23-0, including a 26-21 win over the Team Up North.

The wounded Wolverines are a woeful 15-9 in the same period and Hoke's hot seat is smoking. They are showing highlights of the 1969 upset of Ohio State in Ann Arbor for inspiration, as the point spread grows to 16 points in favor of the Buckeyes for Saturday's pending entry into the record books.

Even so, beware the International Wolverine Conspiracy in these strange times. A game against Michigan State is coming next week in the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis and the Buckeyes could go 26-0 and not even play for a national title in that time frame. But, that's another story.

And, no matter what the records, The Game is the always the one that matters the most.

As Bo Biafra says, "When Wolverines surround you/Charge both ways just for luck/Cause it's not the size of the Buck in the fight/It's the size of the fight in the Buck."

A Dead Schembechlers Playlist for the "Family Tailgate"

While the Dead Schembechlers throw the F-Bomb and dirty Michigan jokes with deft accuracy, they also can be enjoyed at the family tailgate with this as your playlist from Wolverine Destroyer and Rodriguez To Ruin:

Dead Schembechlers
Bomb Ann Arbor Now
Bo For 24
I Peed In Ann Arbor's Water Supply
Tedd Ginn Did Everything
M Means Moron
I Don't Want To Go Up To Ann Arbor
Stukas Over 23
Good Gave Nugent's Toe To You
Schembechler Kicked My Crippled Dog
Wide Left: The Ballad Of Mike Lantry
Dead Schembechlers (Reprise)
Rodriguez I A Weasel
You Lost To Appalachian State
I'm So Bored With The SEC
Buckeye Surfer Girl
We Don't Give A Damn For The Whole State of Michigan
The Ann Arbor Chainsaw Massacre Christmas Song

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


There may not be another artist whose songs and performances have been more packaged and repackaged than Johnny Cash.

But, when it's a collection like LIFE UNHEARD, that's not a bad thing.

A companion piece to the new LIFE UNSEEN: Johnny Cash - An Illustrated Biography, this 12-song CD includes two unreleased songs and six live performances among its audio booty. All of the previously available material is spread among the Legacy Recordings' Bootleg Series offerings.

As with any new compilation, it's only a duplicate if you've purchased the pieces before. Part of the overwhelming appeal of the LIFE UNHEARD collection is the history that's included.

The sound quality of the opening Big River is a little muddy, but it's Johnny Cash.

In Vietnam.

In 1969 at a club.

And, there's a June Carter Cash introduction to open the song.

I Walk The Line comes from the 1964 Newport Folk Festival, while What Is Truth and the always uplifting Daddy Sang Bass - arguably the centerpieces of LIFE UNHEARD - were recorded at a 1970 White House performance for then President Richard Nixon.

What Is Truth speaks of the perpetual rift between the younger generation and the one before it, no matter which eras they come from.

"The old man turned off the radio
Said, 'Where did all of the old songs go?
Kids sure play funny music these days.
They play it in the strangest ways.'
Said, 'It looks to me like they've all gone wild.
It was peaceful back when I was a child.'
Well, man, could it be that the girls and boys
Are trying to be heard above your noise?
And the lonely voice of youth cries 'What is truth?'"

The other live cuts include Give My Love To Rose and (Ghost) Riders In The Sky.

The two newly released efforts are Ben Dewberry's Final Run about a fatal train crash and the happily upbeat Movin' Up.

Restless Kid, Life's Railway To Heaven, It Takes One To Know One and Truth round out the UNHEARD dozen.

No matter how much Cash you have, you need to bank this one too.


"Life and death. The change to rearrange you. Life and death."
Joan Jett on Unvarnished

The leather has turned blood red and the lyrical tone tuned decidedly more serious, but the growl and the guitars remain pure Blackheart on Joan Jett's Unvarnished.

It shows a more personal side of the 55-year-old trailblazing survivor of nearly four decades in the rock 'n' roll circus that began with her stint in The Runaways.

For Jett's first studio release since 2006's Sinner, she writes or co-writes nine of the 10 songs. Dave Grohl collaborates and plays "100 different instruments" on Any Weather (606 Version). Nearly all of the cuts are filled with messages and questions about mortality, loyalty, lost love and the future price of past indiscretions.

On Unvarnished's centerpiece, Hard To Grow Up, Jett laments:

"I wake up feeling crazy
Keep losing people, just lost my mom
So difficult to fathom that they're gone

I could go out and party
But nothing kills my pain
So helpless and there's no one I can blame"

Fortunately, not all life reflection has to be quiet or acoustic.

Like Social Distortion on its last two releases - Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes and Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll - Jett and the Blackhearts face their demons and death with axes in hand and the amps turned up to 11.

They also take chops at social media narcissism on TMI and the demeaning absurdity of the Reality Mentality. The collection closes on the weary but hopeful notes of Different and Everybody Needs A Hero.

Rock 'n' roll needs heroes like Jett just as much and Unvarnished shines as further proof that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame should find a landing strip for her soon.

Monday, November 18, 2013


Buckeye pride ran wild at the inaugural, sold-out Ohio State Four-Miler on November 10.

More than 9,400 runners - including several former Buckeye football and basketball players - started outside Ohio Stadium with a goal to "Finish On The 50" on a blustery Sunday morning. I finished just behind linebacker great Bobby Carpenter.

The course wound throughout The Ohio State University campus and never felt crowded despite the narrowness of some of the streets and the high number of participants.

The touchdown came when entering the stadium, running down the field and turning to the finish for a view of each runner on the giant South Stands scoreboard screen.

The Ohio Stadium medal will be hard to
top, especially for the scores of running
Buckeyes in the inaugural edition of
the Ohio State Four-Miler race.

Only my second run since the October 20 Columbus Marathon, it was an invigorating jaunt and a certain tradition in the making for an OSU alum like myself.

The 10 a.m. start made for a more leisurely morning than most race days and the single water stop around the halfway mark ran smoothly for all.

Given the inclusiveness of the distance and the Buckeye ties, look for M3S Sports to grow this to 15,000 or more participants in the very near future.

My Ohio State Four-Miler Running Statistics:

0.43 Mile Warm-up in 4:27
Mile 1: 8:16
Mile 2: 8:42
Mile 3: 9:07
Mile 4: 8:44
Total/Average Mile Pace: 34:51/8:43 per mile
1849/9409 Overall Place
1209/3832 Men's Division
134/655 50 & Over Men's Age Group

*My Ohio State Four-Miler Race Day Soundtrack:

1. We're All Gonna Die Someday by Kasey Chambers from The Captain
2. Super 8 by Jason Isbell from Southeastern
3. Carl Perkins' Cadillac by Drive-By Truckers from The Dirty South
4. Box Full Of Letters by Wilco from A.M.
5. Silver Threads And Golden Needles by Linda Ronstadt from The Best Of Linda Ronstadt -The Capitol Years Disc I
6. Lungs by Lyle Lovett from Step Inside This House Disc I
7. Flyin' Shoes by Lyle Lovett from Step Inside This House Disc II
8. Marry Me by Drive-By Truckers from Decoration Day
9. Girl Of The North Country by Johnny Cash with Joni Mitchell from The Best Of The Johnny Cash TV Show: 1969-1971
10. Jagged by Old 97's from Fight Songs

*Pulled from 2013 Columbus Marathon Soundtrack on iPod shuffle.


Feels Like Home
Sheryl Crow has flown an arrangement away from a commercial country sound throughout the two decades since the release of her multi-platinum debut, Tuesday Night Music Club.

On Feels Like Home, Crow wings right into the country landscape as though she's sliding on a favorite pair of old boots.

Throughout her eighth studio album, Crow bursts with the same sexy sunshine that has shone so brightly during her career and turns up the twang just enough to mine country chart gold without sounding like she's playing a temporary part.

In the  liner notes, she gives "MAJOR THANKS to Brad Paisley for his belief in me and for being a tried and true friend." Paisley co-writes one song and plays slide guitar on another. Additional Nashville star lights come from Zac Brown, Ashley Monroe, Vince Gill and "Mellow Mafia" member Dan Dugmore.

We Oughta Be Drinkin' references Willie Nelson's Whiskey River and staying at home to "roll a big fat one and watchin' Nashville alone" before giving into "that heavenly neon light" in a thematic update to her first hit and ode to day drinking - All I Wanna Do.

Shotgun recalls Steve McQueen, and there's plenty of bad love too strong to resist on Give It To Me, Callin' Me When I'm Lonely and Nobody's Business.

The first single, Easy, charts a staycation of beer, tequila and margaritas. Then, "we'll put on bug spray and we'll lose our clothes."

The Paisley collaboration - Waterproof Mascara - is the first of two single mom dramas that also includes the closing Stay At Home Mother. Her product endorsement is: "Thank God they make waterproof mascara/'Cause it won't run like this daddy did."

Crow calls Nashville home and don't be surprised if more of her future sounds continue to be classified as country, even if they sound like they were made in the same neighborhood as before.