Kim Gordon’s ‘No Home Tour’ feat. Mary Lattimore comes to Variety Playhouse on Thurs., March 24

Kim Gordon photo by Natalia Mantini.

Kim Gordon‘s (Sonic Youth, Body/Head) “No Home Tour” feat. Mary Lattimore comes to Variety Playhouse on Thurs., March 24. $30-$59. 7 p.m. (doors). 8 p.m. (show).

Tickets go on sale for the general public on Fri., Jan. 28. Pre-sale begins Thurs., Jan. 27 at 10 a.m. Use code: KIMG22

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A conversation with Kevn Kinney and Clay Harper

Kevn Kinney (left) and Clay Harper. Photo by Chad Radford

Since the early 1980s, Clay Harper and Kevn Kinney have left an indelible mark on Atlanta’s musical landscape. Harper first garnered significant attention as the voice behind the Coolies’ twisted and bombastic second album, 1988’s Doug: A Rock Opera And Comic Book. Over the years, he has released various collaborations with the likes of Wreckless Eric, Moe Tucker of the Velvet Underground, and Ian Dury. He’s also a co-owner of the Fellini’s Pizza and La Fonda Latina restaurant chains.

Over the years, Harper has rolled out a string of solo recordings leading up to his fifth and latest album, They’ll Never Miss A Five, a meticulously paced and quietly grand meditation on growing up near the Georgia and Alabama border.

Kinney, of course, is the frontman for Southern alternative rock juggernaut Drivin N Cryin. He has also released various solo recordings including his 1990 solo debut, MacDougal Blues, The Flower And The Knife (with the Allman Brothers’ guitarist Warren Haynes), and A Good Country Mile with The Golden Palominos.

Together, Harper and Kinney appeared on Not Dogs … Too Simple (A Tale of Two Kitties) and The Slippery Ballerina — both fall somewhere between children’s albums and rock operas. They also collaborated on the original score for a film that does not exist, titled Main Street.

After pairing up for a two-night stand at Gallery 378 in March, Harper and Kinney sat down to talk about their long history together.

Chad Radford: How did the two of you meet?

Clay Harper: We’ve known each other for at least 35 years — through Fellini’s, I guess.

Kevn Kinney: Fellini’s was the first restaurant I ever went to in Atlanta. I came to town in 1982. I was living on a campground in Marietta, in a trailer in someone’s backyard. We came into Atlanta and we were like “Fellini’s Pizza! That looks cool!” It was the first time I ever had pizza by the slice. Why would you want just a slice? In Wisconsin, where I’m from, everyone gets their own pie.

I’m actually one of the few people who never worked at Fellini’s.

CH: Tim Nielsen, Drivin N Cryin’s bass player worked there in the beginning. He was really good and competent. I always liked working with Tim. 

When did you start playing music together? 

KK: We haven’t ever played music together. Clay would give me some basic demo tracks and I would sing over them. Then when they came out there were all of these instruments and all of these people on them. I didn’t know Moe Tucker was going to be on Not Dogs. And I didn’t know Ian Dury would be on there.

CH: Ian did his parts in London. He already had cancer. And Slippery Ballerina had Ian and Wreckless Eric.

I remember when we were on the way to Ian’s to record. Eric was late, his car was fucking up and running out of gas, and I had him pull over because I had a full on panic attack. We stopped into a pub and the Stranglers were playing there that night. I really wanted to stay for the show!

You mentioned Main Street, which is a soundtrack to a film that doesn’t exist.

CH: When I was a kid, I listened to things like How The West Was Won,  and sometimes they had little snippets of dialogue. So I wanted to do a record like that, but there was no movie. I liked the idea of “the original soundtrack” and “motion picture” — I liked using those words. Then I wrote these songs that sort of fit together. You think there must be a story there, but really I was interested in working with Kevn on something that was different for both of us. At that time I wasn’t that far removed from the Coolies, and it was so loud. This was a different story. 

KK: We were both getting divorced at the same time, so we were commiserating and we were both staying at the same broken down hotel, the Biltmore Hotel, when it was like a ghost town. They had like eight rooms open. 

CH: Kevn got divorced a little before me. So when I had to leave my house and go stay in a hotel, not only did Kevn recommend the Biltmore, he recommended the room with the best water pressure in the shower. 

I remember one day seeing Kevin walking down Ponce de Leon, so I picked him up and said “What are you doing?” He said he was getting married the next day, so we went and had a little bachelor party, just me and him!

KK: He took me to the Clermont Lounge at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

That was the bachelor party.

Kevn, I recently found a CD by your late ’70s/early ‘80s Milwaukee punk band, the Prosecutors.

KK: [He looks at the CD.] Look how cute I was!

That cover photo was taken at a little basement club called The Starship. Everybody played there: X played there, we opened for the Ventures there. It was only there for a few years. That stage is actually where Liberace started, back when it used to be a steak joint. One night, maybe on the night of this photo, Frank Zappa walked in and sat at the bar. There were like four people there that night.

I don’t know if the Prosecutors ever played for more than like 12 people. And that was usually other musicians who were also playing that night [laughs].


Let’s talk about the artwork for They’ll Never Miss A Five. My mind starts connecting the dots when I look at it … The ice machine is a nice touch. 

CH: I asked Kosmo Vinyl to do the artwork. He asked, “Is it another record about a fucked up America?”

I said, “Yes, it is.”

There’s a line where I sing, “I found myself in Phoenix, Arizona living next to an ice machine.” I was remembering some shit hotels where I’d stayed, and he picked up on that. He also picked up on another song that says, “She looked up at the clock and said, ‘oh boy.’” He loves lyrics, and he picked up on them.

What about the rest of the artwork?

CH: I’m not sure what in the Hell is going on there, but it’s his vision of a fucked up America, and I think it’s fantastic. It blew my mind when I saw it. He’s a serious artist, and he’s never done anything halfway.

You didn’t give him any other direction on the artwork?

No, you don’t give Kosmo direction, you’re just sorta grateful that he’s working with you.

The music feels like a bit of a departure for you? It is spacious, but also up front — I hear a bit of an Ozark Mountain folk music influence in there. 

CH: You don’t want to just recreate what you’ve already done, right? Kevin’s got it right, he says it sounds like “crystal meth music” [laughs].

It reminds me of some Ozark music in how it’s spacious, almost folk music, and it feels like a more ethereal approach.

CH: I’m not quite sure what ethereal means. 

I mean it has a rich atmosphere; the sounds are bright and up front, but there’s space between the sounds.

I look for as much space as possible, but I still try to find a groove. In some songs it’s there, and in some songs it’s just kind of implied.

KK: My brother Mick Kinney plays Fiddle and banjo on the record. He’s an established musician — playing music from a different era. He’s five years older than me.

CH: He got what I was going for. The space was premeditated, and I didn’t really have to tell him anything.

KK: Our great grandfather, or our grandfather’s uncle or brother, I don’t know … GC Kinny was a tent preacher in the Missouri area. I wonder if some of that Ozark Mountain sound creeped in through that.

I first noticed it with the album Bleak Beauty, which moves like the opening scene from The Godfather. It tells you right up front, this is going to take some time.

CH: I worked my way up to that, and I’ve been going in that direction. Having a studio in your house and being able to take as much time as I want with it is how I found what I was looking for 

KK: And if I could interject, Clay will record an entire album. It’s done. Then he’ll scrap it and start over from scratch.

CH: It’s kind of like a puzzle. Kevn has heard an earlier incarnation of almost every song on the album that’s been recorded and re-recorded and changed. Then I’ll go with the lyrics and a melody, and it just doesn’t sit right when I try to mix it. Then I’ll take it out and find what does sit right. Then I’ll start over again. 

KK: It’s something you wish you could do, but you can’t do it with a rock band when you have a record deal. You wind up with an albatros — that one record where the drums were done a month ago. It’s not mixed, and it’s not working. It becomes the song that nobody likes, and you’re never gonna play it live. It could have been great, if only you could go back and record it again.

Have you considered that? Cheetah Chrome did that with the Dead Boys’ Young Loud and Snotty. He took “Hey Little Girl” off of the record entirely. He said he hated that song, and it was never supposed to have been on the record. 

KK: If I could actually stop writing I would do that. I have wanted to re-record Fly Me Courageous because it has that ‘80s production. It says “play loud” because you have to … The quieter you play it, the worse it sounds. It sounded great on the radio because they compress it and match it with everything else. 

I have never seen Fly Me Courageous on vinyl.

It came out on vinyl with a white sleeve only with a sticker. I drew all of the covers. It’s a very limited edition of maybe 200 of them. I had about 50 of them but I think someone found my storage locker. All of a sudden I was like, “Where are all of my CDs?” Then they all showed up for sale online.

CH: I have listened to Kevn’s upcoming album a million times, and it’s great. You shouldn’t do anything but move forward with that record. 

KK: It’s called Think About It. It has two versions of “Think About It,” and neither one has anything to do with the other. It’s gonna come out someday. The first side was recorded three Januarys ago, right before the pandemic started in March. I recorded with Kevin Scott, Darren Stanley, and Peter Buck. We cut a lot of it in Athens over four days, then the pandemic hit. I finished it myself using Brad Morgan from the Drive By Truckers.

I’m singing very low, very quiet, and there’s a lot of spoken word on it.

You’ve been doing spoken word for a long time. There’s a spoken word piece on the Prosecutors CD.

KK: I just read that here in the liner notes, and I’m like, “What is that?” My friend Clancy Carroll put that out on Splunge Communications, Inc. He’s one of the only guys who’s trying to preserve Milwaukee music. One of the reasons that I like to put a lot of stuff out is because I’ve run into people who had a punk band in the ’70s/’80s, they made records, and they’ve got the tapes, but they won’t let you listen to them because they think someone will come along and pay them $20,000. But it’s just gonna wind up in a Goodwill someday. Just let us hear it.

There are so many great freaking records underneath people’s beds. Clancy has wrestled some great stuff away for that label.

My new record definitely has a side one and a side two side. Side one is Kevin Scott, me, and Darren Stanley. Side two is me, David Barbe, and Laur Joamets.The string section will make you laugh and it will make me cry. It’s Kevn Kenny, but presented in a different way.

Peter Buck plays his original R.E.M. Rickenbacker on it. He also does some e-bow stuff and puts a lot of atmosphere on the record. 

Tommy Dean from Thermos Greenwood plays bass on Clay’s new record.  

CH: I really love that guy, and to me, that’s what the record is about, being Southern. He’s a Southern gentleman. Super talented, super gracious, and has a style that’s halfway between upright and electric.

Can we talk about the song called “One More Lie And Cry About Everything?”

CH: That’s one of my favorite songs on the record, and it really means the most to me. And it has a big, heavy hip-hop beat that’s implied.

That’s one of the songs that I scrapped completely at least three times, and then recorded it again with a completely different set of lyrics and a different melody, and decided I didn’t like it and started over and found this version.

It means so much to me because I stuck with it enough to find it. I didn’t give up on it, so it’s like the dog that got away in the campground in Colorado and somehow made its way back home.

I like the song “They’ll Never Miss A Five” as well. When I was 16 years old, I worked at a Magic Market in Newnan, Georgia. The songs is loosely about a woman who worked there with me.

She was a victim of smalltown, Georgia,  and she got through it the best she could. We worked in a Magic Market — later called Quickie Food Store. The song starts off: “She was selling head and day-old bread,” and that’s exactly what she was doing.

I was a drunk kid,16 at most, and I worked at several Quickies. They’d just leave you in there alone all day and then threaten you with inventory. It was a vague threat, like inventory is gonna show everything I’ve done, and all of my shoplifting is gonna come to light, and my manager would walk in with the cops.

The song is about that. “I ain’t lived this life to be some nobody’s ex-wife.” That’s her. “I’m gonna take what mama leaves and I’ll be gone.” It’s an endless, fruitless struggle to escape your shit reality in a convenience store in Noonan, Georgia.

So “They’ll Never Miss A Five” is about stealing a $5 dollar bill from the register. 

She stole five bucks, and she figured they’ll never miss a $5. She skimmed a bit. I went a little further.

This interview appeared in the April issue of Record Plug Magazine.

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Kevn Kinney & Clay Harper play Gallery 378 on March 22 & 23

Kevn Kinney (left) and Clay Harper. Photo by Chad Radford

On Tuesday, March 22 and Wednesday, March 23, Kevn Kinney and Clay Harper will co-headline two nights of music, art, and conversation at Gallery 378, pushing beyond what a traditional live show experience can be. 

On both nights, Clay Harper will be joined on stage by long-time collaborators Marshall Ruffin (guitarist and vocalist) and Chris Case (keys). On Wednesday night they’ll be joined by Mark Harper (guitar) and Alex McGill (drums) to perform a handful of songs from They’ll Never Miss A Five, a meticulously paced and quietly grand meditation on growing up near the Georgia and Alabama border.

Kevn Kinney will be accompanied by keyboard player Billy Fields (W8ing4UFOs, Lynx Deluxe, Antagonizers ATL) for a set of spoken-word performances, improvisation, and songs that aren’t typical of Kevn’s solo shows.

Tuesday, March 22

6:30-7:30 p.m. Ice cream truck 
7 p.m. Doors open
Visual art in the gallery curated by Tom Patterson: “New Lamps For Old,” art from early ‘80s Atlanta:
7:30-8 p.m. Richard Taylor, Anger Management Consultant 
8:10-8:40 p.m. Artifactual String Unit
8:45-9:15 p.m. Clay Harper
9:15-9:25 p.m. Dramatic performance by Dennis Coburn
9:25-10 p.m. Kevn Kinney

Wednesday, March 23

6:30-7:30 p.m. Ice Cream Truck   
7 p.m. Doors open
Visual art in the gallery curated by Tom Patterson: “New Lamps For Old,” art from early ‘80s Atlanta:
7:30- 8 p.m. Meet The Convicts pt. II “When Criminals Are Criminalized,” with Daniel Kane
8:10-8:40 p.m. Clay Reed (of the Subsonics)
8:45-9:15 p.m. Clay Harper & friends
9:15-9:20 p.m. Tap dancing by the queen of L5P
9:20-10 p.m. Kevn Kinney

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R.I.P. Tom Smith, Jon Kincaid, and Robert Cheatham

REST IN PEACE: Tom Smith (on the far left, with Frank “Rat Bastard” Falestra). Photo by Chad Radford. Jon Kincaid (center) photo courtesy Amy Potter. Robert Cheatham (right) photo by Tara-Lynne Pixley.

There’s an old African proverb that says: “When a person dies, a library burns to the ground.”

Point being, when someone dies a lifetime of knowledge, experience, and context is lost forever, and the world is left a poorer place in their absence.

In January, Atlanta music quietly suffered through three profound deaths: First, news spread that Jon Kincaid, longtime 91.1 FM / WREK DJ and host of Sunday nights’ “Personality Crisis” radio show had died on January 4. He was 57 years old.

A week later, On Jan. 11, word spread across social media that former Eyedrum Art & Music Gallery Executive Director and avant-garde music and art scenes fixture Robert Cheatham had died at the age of 73.

Another week later, post-punk journeyman and noise music provocateur Tom Smith died as well. He was 66 years old. All three men represented somewhat different but primary eras and enclaves of Atlanta music. And while it may not be immediately obvious, each of their respective influences played an indelible role in shaping the city’s musical identity.

For more than 30 years, Kincaid hosted “Personality Crisis,” giving a platform to countless fledgling alternative rock, post-punk, underground, and Southern rock luminaries. In the early days of their careers, Atlanta-based acts the Indigo Girls, Drivin’ N Cryin’, and countless others benefitted from his steadfast dedication to music, and his encyclopedic knowledge.

Check out the backside of Mission of Burma’s 1988 LP Forget, and you’ll see bass player Roger Miller sporting a WREK T-shirt. It’s a good bet that Jon had a hand in Roger owning that shirt.

Jon explored every type of music known to humankind through his work as a WREK music director, and by creating his own experimental music under the name Sequence 3.

Cheatham led Eyedrum through its defining eras; he was Executive Director when the venerable arts institution was awarded a $30,000 grant from the Warhol Foundation in 2006. Cheatham also hosted Eyedrum’s long-running open improv nights, which became an institution for outsider and experimental arts. His band Tinnitus was well known for cranking out squelching, heavily-amplified noise and feedback created with the expressed intention of driving everyone out of the room.

His Brahvar Large Ensemble would often corral as many musicians together as possible — once even crowding more than 20 performers onto the tiny stage in the basement of Eyedrum’s original Trinity Ave. location for a massive improv blowout. Connections were made, new ensembles were formed, and wholly new configurations of musicians perpetuated the community. Cheatham’s brilliance lied in his merger of skronking, careening free jazz, and untethered exploration of sound as art without restraint.

Tom Smith reveled in a more confrontational aesthetic. With his groups To Live and Shave in LA, Peach of Immortality, and Boat Of, he placed elements of noise, the avant-garde, and sleazy rock ‘n’ roll on a level playing field. He wove them together seamlessly, while hopping around the globe — from Atlanta to Washington D.C. and finally Hanover, Germany. Along the way, he amassed collaborations with everyone from Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, Andrew WK, Harry Pussy, Bill Orcutt, and more.

Kincaid, Cheatham, and Smith were all driven to create by exploring, not just rest on the past. Their sense of creativity, their dynamism, and their willingness to open up to the new — and the old — left a lasting mark on the city. Atlanta was made richer by their presence and their contributions, and the world suffers a tremendous loss with each of their passing.

On Fri., Feb. 18 (3-9 p.m.) and Sat., Feb. 19 (1-9 p.m.) Gallery 378 (378 Clifton Rd. in Candler Park) will host a two-day celebration of Jon Kincaid’s life and history at WREK. Video installations featuring broadcasts from “Personality Crisis” and more from the WREK archives will be playing throughout the gallery. On Saturday night, several acts including the Nightporters, the Chant, Kevn Kinney and friends, Current Rage, Will Rogers, and more will take turns playing songs on the stage downstairs.

Read more in the February issue of Record Plug Magazine.

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Meet the Bakery’s new performance venue

Daniel DeSimone (left) and Willow Goldstein of the Bakery. Photo by Chad Radford.

Inside the dilapidated remains of a Chosewood Park warehouse that, in the distant past, was home to the offices of the Yellow Cab Company of Atlanta, Willow Goldstein and Daniel DeSimone point toward a concrete riser emerging from the shadows. “This is where the stage will be for The Bakery’s new venue,” DeSimone says.

As he looks up, rays of sunlight catch clouds of dust, shining through a long gap where the wall and the ceiling don’t quite meet.

“Of course, there will be a build out,” he adds. “We’ll seal up the wall, and do quite a lot of work in this room.”

DeSimone is the venue manager for the Bakery, a multi-purpose DIY gallery and venue space that Goldstein launched with her mother Olive Hagemeier in the Fall of 2017. Over the years DeSimone has run sound for live shows, worked the door, and booked shows under his Face Of Knives Productions company, all while performing various other roles there.

When asked about her title, Goldstein ponders several possible descriptions before settling on “owner, operator, and creative director.”

She has final say in pretty much all aspects of the Bakery’s business, although she gives a lot of freedom to DeSimone and Amanda Norris, who handles much of their press and public relations. The Bakery also works with teams of volunteers.

Gyan Riley at The Bakery in 2018. Photo by Chad Radford

Everyone involved wears many hats when it comes to the full-time endeavor of running the DIY institution that has hosted countless art openings, workshops, film screenings, dance parties, Southern Fried Queer Pride events, and live concerts. Guitarist Gyan Riley (son of minimalist composer Terry Riley) played there while supporting his 2018 album, Sprig. Guitarist Nels Cline of Wilco (performing in a free jazz trio with percussionist Gerald Cleaver and sax player Larry Ochs) played there.

Scores of younger indie rock, hip-hop, electronic, hardcore and post-punk acts including Upchuck, Misanthropic Aggression, and DeSimone’s blackened metal outfit Malevich also graced the stage there.

On June 30, 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was coming to a head, The Bakery’s three-year lease on the warehouse space at 825 Warner St. ended and was not renewed.

Soon after, the building was demolished, making way for a new Trees Atlanta facility.

Since then, the Bakery has carried on, settling into a gallery space at 92 Peachtree St., a block away from the Five Points MARTA station in South Downtown. There’s also the Bakery’s private artist studio spaces inside the BuggyWorks complex near downtown East Point.

The latest endeavor, though, is the multi-purpose venue at 249 Milton Ave., in a development that is tentatively being called Yellow Studios.

For now, the Bakery’s performance room is a 5,000 square-foot space filled with dozens of dust-covered office chairs, toppled empty filing cabinets, broken glass, and other bits of debris — remnants of what was once a thriving taxi cab headquarters, now in ruins. Still, the potential the space holds is undeniable.

Outside, the sounds of a chainsaw cutting through an old fence, the beeps of heavy machinery, and a chorus of hammers and nail guns hitting the roof fill the air.

Just down the road, more construction can be heard as towering condominiums are being constructed along the BeltLine.

Both Goldstein and DeSimone talk at length about partnering with fellow DIY arts venue Mammal Gallery co-founder Chris Yonker who found the location and is spearheading the project. Yonker plans to open a Morning Mouth Tattoo studio as well as a recording studio in the building. Mammal will also be promoting live performances and other events there. Kyle Swick of Irrelevant Music will book shows in the Bakery’s new venue. There’s talk of various other collaborations as well, including the possibility of working with their kindred spirit at Eyedrum Art & Music Gallery, with whom Goldstein is a former board member.

There are also plans for a coffee shop, and a second, more intimate performance space, and other businesses will utilize office spaces elsewhere in the building.

The plan is to have the new space open and hosting live performances by Spring 2022.

Willow Goldstein (left) and Daniel DeSimone of the Bakery. Photo by Chad Radford.

“Ultimately, the goal is to bring the most professional level of production as possible to nontraditional events, non-traditional curators, and provide a space where people who want to challenge the status quo, or show what an event or a concert could be, have a space where feel like they can stretch out,” DeSimone says. “It’s a space for musicians who might not feel like they jive with the status quo of Atlanta’s music scene.”

DeSimone goes on to describe their vision for the room as being more than a bar, while keeping its activities art-focused, across disciplines.

“Intersectional artistry! We encourage people to incorporate non-musical components to their musical performances, or musical components to their non-musical events,” DeSimone adds. “Bring a DJ to your art show, bring an aerialist to your concert. If something’s happening at the Bakery, there is an understanding that it will be something more than what you could get somewhere else. We want to build our own niche while not chasing the tail of de rigueur — doors open at 8 p.m. and you’re out at 11 p.m. We can’t do that. We don’t want to do that. And the city doesn’t need another of that.”

Donate to The Bakery’s GoFundMe campaign.

This story originally appeared in the February issue of Record Plug Magazine.

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