Posts Tagged ‘Dave Kusworth’

kevin13I only recently heard about the sad passing in January this year of Ohio’s Kevin Junior (real name Kevin Bain Gerber). According to Billboard magazine, singer-songwriter Kevin Junior—who spent his most prolific and fruitful years in Chicago—died at age 46. The story says “the cause of death is not clear,” but as Gossip Wolf reported in 2011, he’d suffered from the life threatening heart disease endocarditis, which required open-heart surgery. He moved back to his native Akron, Ohio, a couple years ago, putting together a new version of his band Chamber Strings. Junior’s troubles over the years with heroin were well-documented, and this addiction impeded his music from ever reaching the audience it deserved. As Ray Borchers wrote in the Chicago reader, “ Junior’s sartorial sensibility and roosterlike hairdo telegraphed the kinship he felt with Johnny Thunders, and he eventually worked closely with Nikki Sudden and Epic Soundtracks. He first led a trashy glam band called Mystery Girls, which morphed into the Rosehips; then he blossomed as a pop auteur with Chamber Strings in the mid-90s. The group made two terrific albums of delicate, soul-streaked orchestral pop, but not long after the 2002 release of the second, Month of Sundays, Junior’s life disintegrated. He spent much of the rest of his years fighting drug addiction and health problems, trying to get back on his feet. “ I first became aware of Kevin Junior’s band The Rosehips via a newsletter from either Jeff Dahl or Nikki Sudden. He played a style of rock n roll I always dug. Stones swagger, Thunders styled, the Jacobites, blue eyed soul, Nikki Sudden, blues, early 70s outlaw country- here was a guy who could also write memorable rock with a truck load of melody, hook, harmony and chorus’.  Hell, he even looked like Ron Wood or Thunders. The Chambers Strings album, ‘Gospel Morning’, was just about pop perfection. Not dissimilar in many ways to the musical hooks that the Jayhawks were scoring big with around the mid to late 90s.  Nikki Sudden released an album in 1999 called ‘Red Brocade’, an album I licenced and subsequently released into Australia on my old label Vicious Kitten Records. The album was recorded in Chicago and was very much the result of a musical collaboration between Kevin Junior and Sudden. I exchanged some emails with Kevin around this time and told him how much I dug Month Of Sundays. I still love a tune like ‘Dead Man’s Poise’.  Kevin was complimentary of both Vicious Kitten fanzine and also what Vicious Kitten records was trying to achieve. In 2001, the second Chamber Strings album, ‘Month of Sundays’ was released, and was critically well received. Blue eyed soul, pure pop, strikingly original. 15 years later this album shows what a high calibre song writer Kevin Junior was. I had lost track of Kevin Junior until around 2007, when I read he was back making music. I didn’t know about his 5 years of heroin hell, which explained why he dropped off the radar. In January, 2007, Journalist Bob Mehr wrote an eye opening article about Junior’s descent into heroin and homelessness in an extremely articulate article in The Chicago Reader that I implore you to read. There is also an insightful interview with Kevin from 2010 on  Sugar Buzz magazine that is also worth reading.   I would rather not think about his drug issues. Rather, he should be remembered and celebrated for his music – superbly crafted rock ‘n’ roll that will endure. If you are not aware of any of Kevin Junior’s music, start with either of the Chamber Strings’ albums, ‘Gospel Mornings’ or ‘Month Of Sundays.  Kevin Junior was born on December 26, 1969 – and passed away January 16, 2016. He is survived by his mother, Gloria Gerber; father, Roger Gerber; and sister Kimberly Edgemon. Rest In Peace.


Rock n Roll War promo poster, Volume 1 and Volume 2

It’s hard to believe that 10 years have gone since the release of the Rock n Roll War compilation CD’s. Prior to Rockbrat, back then, Cowboy Col was operating Vicious Kitten Records, an independent record label whose mission was to fight the war against the jive. I had the idea of releasing a compilation album and did a short list of bands I wanted and things just took off from there. Vicious Kitten Records, and the Vicious Kitten Zine before that, developed a good reputation, and most bands were happy to be involved. The idea was to make it a solid balls-to-the-wall comp, and it achieved that. I wanted to show case some of the best Australian bands to an international market – and similarly get some of those international bands some exposure in Australia.   The first volume of ‘Rock n Roll War’ had such quality bands on it as the Dictators, Sylvain Sylvain from the New York  Dolls, the Hitmen DTK,  Deniz Tek and Chris Masuak of Radio Birdman, Jeff Dahl, Pete Wells of Rose Tattoo, Nikki Sudden, The Trash Brats, Asteroid B-612, Brother Brick etc.  This first volume of Rock n Roll War sold well, and following its success I decided to branch out into the USA and try and develop greater inroads there. Vicious Kitten USA was born and was co ordinated by Rick Blaze out of Boston. The second volume of Rock ‘n’ Roll War was the only release on Vicious Kitten USA and it came out in October, 2001. A CD release party was held for this album in Boston, and artists who appeared included Mike Thimren (who used to play with Johnny Thunders for five years, on and off, between 83-88) the Ballbusters and Kevin K.  Rock n roll War volume 2 was dedicated to Johnny Heff of The Bullys, a New York City firefighter who lost his life on September 11. There is a great Bully’s track on the comp called ‘New York City Man’. Johnny Thunders and the Ballbusters also do a live version of ‘In Cold Blood’. There are songs by Nikki Sudden, Dave Kusworth from the Jacobites, Walter Lure, the Streetwalkin Cheetahs, Kevin K, Freddy Lynxx, The Golden Arms, Dave Cuneo and Jeff Crane from the Ballbusters, Mike Thimren, the Detox Darlings. Cheetah Chrome of The Dead Boys was gracious enough to provide a tune called ‘The Morning’s Gonna Come, which he recorded specifically for Rock n Roll War 2. Other artists on this 2nd volume included the Cartridge Family from NYC who featured Donna from the Cycle Sluts From Hell, two Italian bands, one called The Valentines and the other called Loose. It was a very strong and impressive line up. The intent was to do release a third compilation CD, but the funds were not there.  These were a lot of work to put together, but looking back, some killer bands were released on these two comps.  These compilations occasionally turn up on eBay. Go discover.

So cool to find a blog written by folks that know their rock. From what I gather ‘What A Nice Way To Turn 17′ was originally a print zine from the mid-80’s and is now spreading the word of cool rock n roll via this blog. Nikki Sudden, Dave Kusworth, Tav Falco, Jerry Nolan, Thunders – I know which site I’ll be spending the rest of the day reading through. If you enjoyed the interview with Nikki Sudden we did some years back, where he spoke a lot about his German tour of 1985, this is essential reading. Two thumbs up from Mr Rockbrat !