Pop culture treasure, high culture trash.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Breathless to explain

Found recording unsolved mystery mailbag bonanza.

Dear Lizzie,

An idle googling of some of my own personal life's random keywords/people on a slow morning in the office (you know, as one does)--in this fateful case "Tweed Penguin"--turned up a single, lonely, two-year old link to your blog. I'm breathless to explain the treasure you've unearthed:

"Tweed Penguin" was the basement recording label of my high school friends and bandmates Jeremy and Nathaniel Braddock from Midland, Michigan around the turn of the '90s. The particular sampler you found was apparently compiled by guitarist/bassist Nathaniel, presumably for some friend who (like myself in '92) had gone off to college in Ann Arbor. The majority of the songs were written by these two brothers--often with myself drumming/complaining in an outfit called first The Smalls (Nathaniel was just bein' cool), later Quality Zoom Slide. They're really all quite the chestnuts, and deeply nostalgic reminders for me of days spent discovering music and weed with a Tascam 4-track in our rehearsal space above Timm's Appliance on Main Street in Midland.

Last I heard, Nathaniel (always the best and purest musician among us) was still making music in Chicago. His big brother Jeremy (and skull-clutchingly good lyricist) is now an English professor at U-Penn, and still keeps a small wierd band on the side which I try and catch whenever they come to play somethere here in NYC, where I live and work as a museum exhibit designer. Sadly, there's no room here for my treasured 1967 Ludwig "Black Oyster Pearl" drums.

Thanks for taking the time to notice those careful little liner notes. It may take a little time, but if you're interested, I'd love to send you a CD of those songs you've been wondering about. Once upon a time they were the best thing we'd ever done!

And yes--"Surfin' Vicar" remains unchallenged as the best song ever.


Andrew Yamato

PS: "Myxz" refers to Myxzlplk--a short lived power-trio (named after the "Superfriends" nemisis) featuring Nathaniel, Chris "The Sweet One" Sugar, and myself, chronologically intersticed between The Smalls and Quality Zoom Slide. Joe is fellow Midland son Mighty Joe Wessling, who's still by far the tallest of us. Ted Nugent did not in fact play the solos on "Biker Larry" (an junior-year-abroad ode to one of Jeremy's Oxonian pals), although his bassist Mike Lutz did almost produce one of my later college bands.


Eric Cook said...

Exhibit #4427, Internet as Universal Social Network flattener:

I went to the same high school as all the aforementioned, and played drums briefly for an earlier Braddock brothers band. (They were into Elvis Costello, I was into the Birthday Party and Neubauten. It was a match that couldn't last.)

Andy Yamato, the letter writer, was the also son of one of my favorite high school teachers to boot.

Amy W Cook said...

Quality Zoom Slide circa 1990:

Andy is the one holding the drum.

His Mom was the best teacher ever!

Lizzie said...

As far as I can tell, this is what happened:

Somebody involved with your group of friends or with Tweed Penguin lived at 136 Melbourne Ave in Minneapolis. In 2005, I moved in, found his tape in the basement and posted the liner notes online. A year after that my post was found by the son of a teacher of someone who had been my teacher. Ook!

Eric, I'm glad you like the E. Neubauten, I like them, too. And Birthday Party. I don't know why, but those two also make me think of Clan of Xymox, which is another favorite.

Anneke said...

And all of the above commentors (sans author)actually KNOW the lady Smith of track 7. Basements in Minneapolis are a goldmine. Here's another small world moment. The Joe Wessling and Jeremy in question also lived in the exact same apartment that I did in San Francisco...several years apart. It was a Midland Magnet.

The Huisvrouw said...

I'm Andrew's wife. I used to be a teacher, with a dog named Lizzy who was my heart, and from Minneapolis...so when he told me about Lizzie and her find, the first thing I said was "Of course, that's where all the cool kids live!"

Emily said...

To quote the author of the letter (whose mother I didn't get to have in high school because I moved there too late), "a random googling" turned up this blog. A friend from college wrote to see if I could make a new tape of the Smalls for him, as the one I dubbed for him in the early 90s is starting to crap out, which led me to google The Smalls from Midland, Michigan. . . .
Anyway, I happen to have been the "Smith" referred to in "I Wanna Call her but her Last Name is Smith"--definitely one of the most romantic and effective come-ons in my life. . . . It's interesting to note that the name of the song was changed in July 1990, which corresponds to the end of that relationship!