WEEKEND RECAP: Mike Watt And Lady Gaga - Two Kinds of Spiel

Well folks, the most historic Presidential election in recent times is now one for the history books - still many music and film stars haven't taken the loss of Hillary Clinton well. Example A: Lady Gaga, who took it upon herself to stage a vigil/protest directly outside NYC's Trump Tower, owned by you-know-who.

Brandishing the iconic (and over-simplified) "Love TRUMPS Hate" sign, and positioning herself on top of a NYC sanitation truck, Gaga has spread her message and barely-concealed outrage on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and most recently, Instagram to bring that message home. Anti-Trump sentiment has also been echoed pre and post-election by everyone from Sean Penn to Bruce Springsteen to Beyonce, Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Robert DeNiro (who didn't stand by his own ideologies when his Tribeca Film Fest premiered Vaxxed and was met with similar outrage), Ugly Betty's America Ferrera, Neil Young, Miley Cyrus and Adele.

"I want to live in a #CountryOfKindness #LoveTrumpsHate. He divided us so carelessly" Gaga claims, before ending with "Let's take care now of each other." In a related story, Gaga antecedent and unacknowledged mentor Madonna likely cost Hillary a segment of the popular vote when she rescinded an offer she made publicly at one of her concerts, promising oral sex to those who would vote for Clinton. Poor Madonna - girl, get back into the studio and work on a techno-protest CD.

Speaking of spiels, the original spielmeister himself, Mike Watt (of Minutemen and fIREHOSE fame) celebrates the 21 year anniversary of 'The Wrestling Album' (aka: ball hog or tugboat?) with the never-before-released live album, "ring spiel" tour '95, which chronicles one of the earliest gigs Watt did in support of the record that garnered accolades for the stellar roster of musicians who co-conspired with him to make the album happen, including The Germs' Pat Smear, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, and off on his own solo career with Foo Fighters, ex-Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl.

Anyone who's ever attended a Minutemen or fIREHOSE gig can tell you, Watt is most in his element in a live jamming environment, and this new release is no different. Recorded at Chicago's The Metro venue, the frenetic energy, wildly-veering eclecticism, and genre-bending gymnastics of ball hog or tugboat? is brilliantly captured here: from the opening cover of Daniel Johnston's "Walking The Cow" (which was featured on the understated fIREHOSE release, Flying The Flannel, to his achingly plaintive "Drove Up From Pedro" (a musical shout-out to his Minutemen singer/guitarist d boon, who died in a roadside accident a decade earlier) to an off-the-wall cover of Madonna's (see how I tie these things together? Scary!) "Secret Garden" spoke-sung by Smear, you gotta give the man credit - he is a lover of all things musical, and isn't afraid to put his own spin on tunes he likes.

I mentioned to Mike during a recent interview (to run soon) that, although the nearly 48 musicians who appeared on ball hog...? each brought their A-game, the MVP award would have to go to Vedder - his lacerating guitar work and fierce vocals owned "Against The 70's" - and made Watt lyrics like "forcing youth away from the truth of what's real today" as powerful as anything Vedder has orated from the PJ pulpit. And of course, since Watt and me are on the same wavelength on so many other things (to be revealed in the upcoming interview piece), he was more than inclined to agree.

("ring spiel" tour '95 is out today, November 11th, Veteran's Day [I'll try not to wax emblematical about it's significance], released on the Sony Legacy imprint.


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