HANDSOME FAMILY NEWS....
FRIENDS, old and new, to a tale
of ancient oceans & future
tour dates. Herein find the
story of the TRILOBITE as well
as the little waves made by THE
HANDSOME FAMILY as we sail the
invisible sea of song....
TOUR DATES APRIL/MAY 2014
Half a billion years ago,
long before the age of humans or of
dinosaurs, our world was covered in
TRILOBITES. For 300 million years
they were the dominant species on
Earth. In comparison, there are only
traces of humans going back about
200,000 years. It's hard to imagine
that we might continue on for
another 299 million years or even
for another one million years when
already it seems that all the trees
along the highways of America are
fluttering with plastic bags.
Trilobites were marine invertebrates
with hard exoskeletons covering rows
of segmented legs. They may have
been the ancient ancestors of the
horseshoe crab. I grew up on a
stretch of the Long Island shore
that was teeming with horseshoe
crabs. We often found carved stone
arrow-heads lying in the sand and
once I found the remains of a
covered wagon in the woods. I also
found a stolen ten-speed bike and a
half-drunk bottle of vodka.
FESTIVAL, JUNE, 2014
Researchers have found
evidence that TRILOBITES were highly
social creatures. They migrated long
distances in a head-to-tail
procession and gathered in huge
numbers to mate. It appears that
trilobites molted off their
carapaces to copulate. Sexual
selection was competitive.
Scientists believe that some of the
more extreme features found in
trilobite fossils— oversized head
horns, curlicued shoulder spines,
eyestalks that extend upward like
periscopes — were male features
designed to do nothing else but
attract the female eye. Speaking of
eyes— trilobite eyes had a unique
structure not found in any other
living creature. Their lenses were
built of calcite crystals. They
literally had, 'a stony stare'. Each
of their eyes held hundreds of tiny
crystals, arranged in a honeycomb
pattern. Trilobite eyes worked best
in low light. Scientists believe
this was because trilobites often
retreated into deep water and mud to
escape predators. I wonder if
perhaps it just felt good to dive
down into the mud? I used to love to
bury my legs in the sand at the
beach and then slowly pull them
Time passed quickly for
TRILOBITES. The length of Earth days
has been increasing ever since our
moon was formed. Before we had a
moon it is estimated that our days
lasted only 2-3 hours, but the
moon's tug has gradually slowed down
the Earth's turning as the moon
pulls away. A trilobite-era day
probably lasted about 20 hours. One
day in the future the moon will
break free of us. I don't know how
long days will be after that, but I
do know that we are all destined to
be reunited— trilobites, dinosaurs,
humans, plastic bags and moons— at
the edge of infinity when our
universe is done exploding.
More EUROPEAN dates in October
Including Norway, Spain and more!
Details to come.
TRILOBITE bodies were
segmented so they could roll up into
protective balls to defend against
predators or rough sea currents.
Three-banded Brazilian armadillos
can curl up into a ball to protect
themselves from predators, but most
armadillos instead jump into the air
when threatened thus making them
even more likely to be hit by
oncoming cars. Armadillos the size
of small cars once foraged
prehistoric South America. This was
long after the trilobites had passed
into fossils and long after the
great ocean retreated that once
covered the New Mexican desert where
I am typing these words. You can
still find seashell fossils embedded
in the high cliffs of the Sandia
mountains around Albuquerque. On a
clear day you can see for hundreds
of miles. The sky is blue the whole
PS: Hope to see you at a show.
ARCHIVES of The
Handsome Family Newsletter
parsley, wildebeests, pyramid magic and more...
SUBSCRIBE to our e-mail newsletter
ARCHIVES... Ancient missives from
our castle below the sea
2014—True Detective and the Talking Cactus
2013—The Secret Pain of Boiled Peas
2013—Tesla hears distant fire
APRIL, 2013—17-year Cicadas
OCTOBER, 2012- Haunted Houses
2012- Sad News, Cockroach love
JUNE, 2011-great apes
APRIL, 2011-ancient Dionysian
JANUARY, 2011-sea monsters
NOVEMBER, 2008-hollow earth
OCTOBER, 2008-pendulum power
AUGUST, 2006-animals attack
JUNE, 2005-spirit bottles
APRIL, 2005-psychic attack
FEBRUARY, 2005-Mr. Nobody
AUGUST, 2004-mysterious shoes
APRIL, 2004-xerxes and
old eggs, pyramid power
MAY, 2003-planet X
JUNE, 2002-current fears
MARCH, 2002-ghost tapes
DECEMBER, 2001-tour diary
MARCH, 2001-chicago vs.
Far From Any Road
THE ALBUM: Singing
THE TV SHOW: True Detective
Buy it: iTUNES
to far-flung friends and cactus lovers...
If you've seen the HBO show "True Detective" then you
may have noticed that they've chosen our song, "Far From
Any Road" for their opening sequence. Many new fans have
written asking us to explain the 'meaning' of this song.
There is, of course, a simple answer to this question,
but it involves imbibing the boiled pulp of the
hallucinogenic San Pedro cactus. Herein find our latest
TOUR DATES as well as a guide to what you may expect
with your first San Pedro cactus experience (recipe not
The San Pedro cactus has been used since ancient times.
In Peru the tradition is unbroken for over 3,000 years.
The earliest depiction of the cactus is a carving from
about 1300 bc. The Quechua name for it is 'punku' which
means ‘doorway’. One user described his San Pedro
experience this way at erowid.org: "We decided to visit
the cactus greenhouse. What met us was a buzzing flux of
life that held us spellbound for about half hour – we
literally stood leaning over the handrail stroking
various cacti in mute appreciative silence. It was like
we could tangibly feel their life force – they somehow
seemed wise and at the same time sad, as if being in
such an artificial environment had sapped them of some
vital force. They reminded me of caged animals in a zoo.
All of them appeared to be moving and vibrating and
whispering to us and to each other – I got quite a few
spines in my fingers as I stood there stroking and
marveling at them..."
San Pedro cactus, according to its users,
is a teacher plant. It teaches the user that there is no
such thing as an inanimate object. Everything in the
universe is alive and has a spirit. I hope our songs can
be 'teachers' too (and without the need for extensive
boiling of cactus pulp or the risk of many small needles
embedded in your skin).
Thanks to all of our friends, old and new, for the kind
words regarding our foray into HBO land. May we
all (even those without premium cable channels) find
ourselves listening to whispers in the moon's light
tonight. We need not sip magic cactus juice in order to
see the beauty of the stars.
Greetings fellow traveler, today THE HANDSOME
FAMILY embarks on a journey down the west coast of
North America and considers deeply the heart of
the carrot and the pea...
Jagadish Chandra Bose was born in 1858 in what is
today Bangladesh. Bose was a physicist, a
biologist, a botanist, and an archaeologist. He
was the first person from the Indian subcontinent
to receive a U.S. patent, and is considered one of
the fathers of radio science. Around 1900, Bose
began his investigations into the secret world of
Bose invented a machine called the crescograph
which recorded the minute movements of a plant's
leaves or roots in reaction to various stimuli. He
found that all plants, and all parts of plants,
have a sensitive nervous system not unlike that of
animals. Some plant reactions can be seen easily
in plants like the Mimosa, which, when irritated,
will react with the sudden shedding or shrinking
of its leaves. But when Bose attached his
crescograph to plants from which it was more
difficult to witness a response he was astounded
to discover that they, too, became excited when
vexed. All around us, Bose realized, plants are
communicating. We just don't see it...
WEST COAST TOUR DATES:
Bose discovered that an electric death spasm
occurs in plants when they die, and that the
actual moment of death in a plant could be
accurately recorded. The electromotive force
generated during the death spasm is sometimes
considerable. Bose calculated that a pea, for
instance, could discharge up to a volt of
electricity as it died. Thus, if 500 peas were
arranged in a series, the electric pressure would
be 500 volts, enough to seriously injure a human
being. Bose wrote. “It is fortunate for [the
average cook] that boiling peas are not arranged
His 1902 paper “Responses in the Living and
Non-Living” contains a chapter comparing the
electrical impulse response of the skins of a
frog, a lizard, and a tortoise to the skins of
tomatoes and grapes. He found few differences.
Bose found that plants grew more quickly when
exposed to nice music and gentle whispers, and
more slowly when exposed to harsh music and loud
speech. Plant growth was also slowed by exposure
to polluted air or even the passing of dark clouds
across the sky...
will talk about wildebeest, termites and the songs
of Stephen Foster with
special singing guest, Brett Sparks!
Bose believed in the fundamental unity of all
life, both plant and animal tissue as well as the
fundamental unity of all matter. Bose was the
first scientist to study inorganic matter in the
same way a biologist examines a muscle or a nerve.
Bose found that, just like plants, the
“non-living” responded when subjected to
mechanical, thermal, and electrical stimuli.
Bose never sought to convince humans of some
fundamental 'humanness' within all matter. Rather
he sought to show humans that considering the
commonalities between all matter in our universe
offers us a deeper sense of the real connections
between our own living cells and that of the
particles that surround us.
NEXT YEAR: Dates in Europe for March and May are
in the works!
PS. parts of these amazing Bose facts were taken
from an article by Stefany Anne Golberg at
Reader, herein find HANDSOME FAMILY TOUR
DATES & DOINGS as well as strange
symptoms of genius that plagued NIKOLA
My sight and hearing were always
extraordinary. I could clearly discern
objects in the distance when others saw no
trace of them. Several times in my boyhood
I saved the houses of our neighbors
from fire by hearing the faint
crackling sounds which did not disturb
their sleep... In 1899, when I was past forty
and carrying on my experiments in Colorado,
I could hear very distinctly thunderclaps
at a distance of 550 miles...In Budapest
I could hear the ticking of a watch
with three rooms between me and
the time-piece. A fly alighting on a
table in the room would cause a dull thud
in my ear. A carriage passing at a distance
of a few miles fairly shook my
whole body. The whistle of a
locomotive twenty or thirty miles away made
the bench or chair on which I sat vibrate so
strongly that the pain was
unbearable. The ground under my feet
trembled continuously. I had to
support my bed on rubber cushions to get
any rest at all...The sun's rays, when
periodically intercepted, would cause blows of
such force on my brain that they would
stun me. I had to summon all my will
power to pass under a bridge or other
structure as I experienced a
crushing pressure on the skull. In the
dark I had the sense of a bat and
could detect the presence of an object
at a distance of twelve feet by a peculiar
creepy sensation on the forehead. My pulse
varied from a few to two hundred and sixty
beats and all the tissues of the
body quivered with twitchings and
tremors ...A renowned physician who gave me
daily large doses of Bromide of
Potassium pronounced my malady unique
FAMILY TOUR DATES!
EEL GUITAR & FROG GUITAR: Hopefully by
late November Rennie will have for sale the first
in a series of painted electric guitars that
feature creatures from, "Wilderness" (also a few
paintings for sale). As always, Rennie still
accepts commissioned portrait work of
beloved animals and humans. You can email her
EUROPE: We're working on tour dates in March and
in May of 2014 for many areas of Europe.
One afternoon I was enjoying a walk with
my friend in the City Park and reciting
poetry. At that age I knew entire books by
heart, word for word. One of these was
Goethe's "Faust." The sun was just setting
and reminded me of the glorious passage:
The glow retreats, done is the day of
It yonder hastes, new fields of life
Ah, that no wing can lift me from the
Upon its track to follow, follow
A glorious dream! though now the
Alas! the wings that lift the mind no
Of wings to lift the body can
As I uttered these inspiring words
the idea came like a flash of lightning...I
drew with a stick on the sand the diagrams
shown six years later in my address before
the American Institute of Electrical
Engineers...The images I saw were wonderfully
sharp and clear and had the solidity
of metal and stone, so much so that I told
my companion: "See my motor here; watch me
reverse it." I cannot begin to describe
from, "MY INVENTIONS" by
Nikola Tesla, 1919, Electrical Experimenter
Surface Dwellers! Herein find subterranean news
of THE HANDSOME FAMILY as well as a beginner's
guide to the ancient art of WORM CHARMING....
worm grunting, and worm fiddling are all methods
of attracting earthworms up from the ground.
Methods of worm charming usually involve
vibrating the soil to call worms to the surface.
Often this is done by sticking a pitchfork in
the ground and rocking it back and forth. One
contestant at the World Worm Charming
Championship in Cheshire, UK; however, was seen
tap-dancing on a wooden plank to the theme from
Star Wars in attempts to call worms. Another
contestant hit a xylophone with glass bottles.
The current world champion worm-charmer is
14-year-old Sophie Smith of Willaston, UK who
raised 567 worms during Britain's 2009 World
Worm Charming Championship. All worms were
returned to the ground after the contest.
refers to the use of a wooden stake that is
driven into the ground, and a piece of metal
which is used to rub the stake. Worm grunting
can be done with a chain saw. The chain is taken
off the saw and the blade is stuck into the
ground to vibrate. Worm fiddling involves
sticking a pitchfork into the ground and then
'twanging' the handle. It is also called, 'worm
snoring'. These days, large earthworms are not
generally caught at the two worm fiddling
contests held in Florida. Jack Palmer of Alabama
explained, "When I was a little boy they were
huge, don't know what happened. of course, in
those days there weren't no armadillos. I just
don't know what happened to them, they just
aren't there no more. I call them little sand
worms now, the ones snored up now."
article on SONGWRITING
in the New York Times!
book, "Wilderness" for Kindle
Take a gander
at our new merch....
theorize that vibrations made by worm charming
mimic the sound of digging moles and so cause a
'pronounced escape response' in earthworms.
Moles eat earthworms and so, the worms, hearing
what they think is an approaching mole are
actually running for their life (or as close to
running as worms can get). Both wood turtles and
herring gulls also vibrate the ground to elicit
worm flight response. Wood turtles stomp on the
ground. Gulls paddle their feet in muddy pools
of water. Both the gulls and the turtles eat
earthworms. Humans who have eaten earthworms are
reported to have developed parasites causing
extensive organ damage. Other known side effects
of eating earthworms are low mood, occasional
vomiting and what one doctor could only describe
as, 'wordlessness'. Earthworms eat dirt. They
pull nutrients from the soil that are pieces of
decaying roots and leaves as well as animal
manure, bacteria, fungi, and decomposing flesh.
Some earthworms come up out of the earth at
night and pull fallen leaves down into their
burrows. They wait for the leaf to soften and
then eat it. I once ate the apple of a prickly
pear and heard voices whispering just behind my
ear for nearly two hours. What did the voices
say you might ask? I believe they were saying,
"Worms, worms, worms... Sometimes even worms are
PS. Please tell friends about our upcoming tour
dates! Hope to see you at our next show! Unlike
the earthworm that survives on dirt. We survive on
word of mouth, one ear at a time, passing our
songs along. Thank you!
PPS. The 34th World Worm Charming Championships
are being held at 2pm on Saturday 22nd June 2013
at Willaston County Primary School, Willaston,
Nantwich, Cheshire, CW5 6QQ. Good luck!
APRIL, 2013... THE NIGHT OF
Across the eastern
USA CICADAS will soon emerge
from the soil after 17 years of life
HANDSOME FAMILY, too, is preparing to leave off its
diet of liquid extruded from tree roots and
emerge, at last, into the air. Herein,
friends, find tips to differentiate between
these two naturally-occuring phenomena as well
as NEWS and TOUR DATES for THE
released May 14, PRE-ORDER
THE CD: the new Handsome Family album (or
VINYL LP w/ free digital download). Tall tales,
mountain legends, amazing animals and historic
figures all twine their way through our new
forest of songs.
THE BOOK: Essays and art by Rennie that
expand on the songs of "Wilderness" and lead off
on further journeys through ant spirals, octopus
dances, immortal jellyfish, and more.
THE BOX SET: Includes "Wilderness"
LP (with free digital download) as well as a
full-color, 12" x12" version of "Wilderness"
book, exclusive poster and postcards, all with
art by Rennie.
SHIRT: as if that isn't enough we also
have a new jumping trout shirt for sale with art
drawn by Rennie!
THE HANDSOME FAMILY and the CICADA are spotted above
soil only in cycles of prime numbers,
are not able to sing merely by popping muscles
in their abdomen as is the THE
HANDSOME FAMILYCICADA. Females of both
species flick their wings in response to song,
but only the 17-year CICADA is capable of
laying 600 eggs within a small crevice dug
into tree bark. While THE
HANDSOME FAMILY will not damage tree bark, it will
ruin a suitcase fairly quickly and is often
found attempting to check into B&Bs at 3am
and then dragging said suitcase up three
flights of narrow stairs lined with milkmaid
figurines on a fruitless quest to find its
ground floor room.
DATES IN THE UK AND USA
While both CICADAS and THE
HANDSOME FAMILY have red eyes,
only the CICADA has a smaller
groupings of three, jewel-like eyes situated
between their two main eyes to help to detect
light and dark. THE
HANDSOME FAMILY can not see a guitar pick dropped on
the floor in broad daylight. Do not stare
directly into the eyes of either creature.
Victims of such impromptu staring contests
have found themselves 'coming to' high in the
creaking branches of old sycamores with no
ladder in sight.
JUNE AND JULY
TOUR DATES IN THE USA
CICADAS do not sting or
bite. If caught, males make a loud defensive
buzzing sound that may startle. THE
HANDSOME FAMILY is equally defenseless and will emit
a high-pitched keening when cornered and
asked, "How's the tour going?" Such catcalls
as, "Play Weightless Again, again!" or "Play
that sad song about drinking or that other sad
song about drinking!" will result in much
wing-flicking, but ultimately will not cause
changes in beard length or beer consumption.
BOOK-SIGNING.... August 21, 7pm, FREE.
Albuquerque, NM. Book-signing party for
"Wilderness". Brett and Rennie will strum songs
that go with chapters in the book.
Adult CICADAS have orange wing
veins, with a black "W" near the tips of the
forewings. THE HANDSOME FAMILY sheds its shirt
nightly and leaves the garment on a hook on
the inside of bathroom doors when checking out
of hotel rooms the next day. Eventually THE
HANDSOME FAMILY will run out of
shirts and must clothe itself entirely from
apparel sold at motorway rest stops (often
depicting one or several wolves howling at a
FUTURE TOUR DATES:
and hopefully Australia and NZ coming too!
astounding population densities, as high as
1.5 million per acre. Population densities are
so high that predators can eat their fill
without significantly reducing the population.
Dogs gorge themselves. Squirrels will eat them
like corn on the cob. Fish go crazy for them,
too — you can use them as bait, or use lures
that mimic them. THE
HANDSOME FAMILY make poor fish bait nor are they
known to attract squirrels or dogs. They will,
however, attract flocks of yellow finches to
perch upon all their equipment as they play
their songs. Most of these finches are
completely invisible to the human eye, but
will show up some months later in digital
photos of the band.
well as new horizons upon the shores of
THE HANDSOME FAMILY...
a naturalist was arrested in Spain for
suggesting that caterpillars and
butterflies were the same species. Such a
preposterous idea was deemed heresy. What
mad creator could forge a flying beauty
from a crawling worm? Yet the cocoon is a
shape that resembles the greatest creative
powers of our universe — from the atom
bursting with particles to planets hiding
great fires within their core. Was our Big
Bang a bursting cocoon? What creature spun
a massless, timeless skin around its flesh
then emerged to spread wings into the
fabric of the infinite universe?
(The Handsome Family 4-5pm)
MAY 4, CD RELEASE SHOW —
MAY 14, WORLDWIDE RELEASE, THE HANDSOME
FAMILY'S WILDERNESS —
Information about ordering soon!
KINGDOM: MAY, TOUR DATES... with
support from the lovely Snowapple for
May LIVERPOOL, The Kazimier
or Box Office Tel: 0151
Friday 17 May,
or Box Office Tel: 0871 220 0260
Saturday 18 May,
Arches TICKETS or
Box Office Tel: 0141 565 1000
Sunday 19 May,
Old Town Hall TICKETS
or Box Office Tel: 0191 443 4661
Tuesday 21 May,
or Box Office Tel: 0114 266 5599
Wednesday 22 May, LEEDS,
Social Club TICKETS
or Box Office Tel: 0113 245 5570
Friday 24 May,
KIRKBYMOORSIDE, The Band Room
Tel: 01751 432900
Saturday 25 May, HEBDEN
Trades Club TICKETS
or Box Office Tel: 01422 845265
Sunday 26 May,
or Box Office Tel: 0116 251 0080 FACEBOOK PAGE
Tuesday 28 May, NORWICH,
Arts Centre TICKETS
or Box Office Tel: 01603 660352
Wednesday 29 May,
Assembly Hall TICKETS
or Box Office : 08444 77 1000
Thursday 30 May,
Fleece TICKETS or
Box Office Tel: 0117 929 9008
Friday 31 May, OXFORD,
The Bullingdon TICKETS or
Box Office Tel: 01865 244516
we heard a rustling in our backyard.
There in the leaves we saw what appeared
to be a severed finger wriggling in the
dirt. It was a worm-like creature, pink
and segmented, but sporting a single
horn at the center of its head and
silver triangles along its flanks. What
we had found was the larva of a Sphinx
moth, a gorgeous creature with a pink
dusting to its ornately-marked wings.
The Sphinx moth is often seen at night
here in New Mexico sipping the nectar of
night-blooming plants like Jimson weed,
but this moth begins life as a silvery
pink caterpillar that must drop its legs
and writhe its way into the soil to
build its cocoon. I imagine quite a few
of these worms end up simply writhing
themselves to death in the hard soil of
our desert yards. Nature has
astonishingly cruel ways of weeding out
weakness. Eagles, for example, are often
born two to a nest and must immediately
fight to the death upon hatching.
Surprisingly, though, new research
suggests that baby owls are inclined to
share their food with siblings
especially if their brothers and sisters
are weak and hungry.
June 20 Cambridge,
MA at Club
Fall River, MA at Narrows
Center for the Arts
New Haven, CT at Cafe
Hudson, NY at Club
NYC at The
Philadelphia, PA at World
Brooklyn, NY at The
his childhood (to protect him from being
murdered by family members competing for
the throne). When at last his cocoon was
opened and Ibrahim was told he was the
new sultan, at first he was afraid to
leave his prison, but soon he began
running up and down the halls of his
palace screaming with joy. Ibrahim
became determined to make up for his
years of captivity and spent much of his
time chasing his concubines and
whinnying like a stallion. He had a
great fetish for fur and ordered his
servants to hang fur everywhere about
him so that he might see and touch it
wherever he went. His other great love
was a concubine named Sugar Cube who was
so delightfully huge and fleshy that
Ibrahim ordered all his other concubines
thrown into a river in weighted sacks.
Rolling around his fur-lined harem with
his enormous Sugar Cube surely the
Sultan came closer than any man to
experiencing the sensuous joys of being
a caterpillar — those little creatures
who roll across the world as if all it
surfaces are made of fur and every inch
full of delicious things to eat.
MIDDLE-WEST: July tour dates to come but
confirmed so far:
22, Mon, CHICAGO FREE SHOW:
Pavillion, Millennium Park, 7:30pm
chose a life of celibacy and seclusion in
exchange for great vision. There were many
Sibyls in ancient Greece and Rome, but the
most famous is The Cunean Sibyl written of
by Ovid and Virgil. She was Apollo’s
prophetess, letting the god literally
enter her body to speak through her. Still
the Sibyl was a mortal woman, young and a
virgin. She wanted to keep herself pure to
be a proper vessel for the immortal
Apollo. Oh, but gods are lusty creatures.
Psychically entering the Sibyl only made
Apollo hunger to possess more of her
fragile form. The Sibyl, however, refused
the god’s sexual advances and Apollo,
seemingly contrite, offered her a gift of
her choosing by way of apology. The Sibyl
picked up a fistful of sand and said she
wanted to live as many years as there were
grains in her hand. She thought she was
asking for eternal life, but Apollo was
immortal and so he actually had the time
to count up the grains in the Sibyl’s
fist. In the end he granted her one
thousand years. He did not, however, grant
her any extra youth and so the Sibyl was
cursed to spend a millennium slowly aging
and aging until at last she had withered
down to a pile of dust stored in a jar
hanging in a cave. Her voice could still
be heard, but all she said in the end was,
"I want to die." Finally she was granted
Our self-released CDs, Scattered and
Smothered & Covered are now both
available for the low
price of $10
of his eunuchs. Fear not little
caterpillar! Go into your dark tomb as the
silk cord tightens about your neck. This
dreaming life may end, but even in its
last seconds you are free to dream of
being born anew. Even if no butterfly
wings await you, how wonderful a gift it
is to be able to dream yourself aloft,
weightless in the sky. No almighty god
shall ever know the beauty of such a
desperate and perfect dream. The gods are
cursed to look at a fist of dirt and be
unable to imagine infinity. What sad
creatures! How jealous they must be of our
ability to spin worlds all about us using
only the flimsiest of sparkling thread.
Haunted Houses... Handsome Family in Madrid,
I should have
listened to the people coming out the back door saying
One of the
clowns had what I am pretty sure was a REAL BASEBALL
It was all
robotic and was so lame I wanted to punch someone
The trail of
torment was good but I was taller than the werewolves.
There are two
house caters to pre-teens who had water bottles of
I seen one
zombie and we stood in line for three hours.
They turned off
the lights and threw wet sponges at us.
reuse the blindfolds.
The Blood shed
Corn Maze was a
chain link fence with corn fastened to it .
We went around
in circles and kept seeing the same "monster."
Im not sure why
the werewolves dont have chainsaws anymore.
MADRID, New Mexico,
SEE THE HANDSOME FAMILY LIVE….
Friday, October 26 at
ENGINE HOUSE THEATER
TICKETS or call 505.438.3780
Two sets, starting at
7:30pm SHARP. Come in costume!
Our new record will be
released May, 2013!
Tour dates to follow!
SAD NEWS, BEAUTIFUL RECORD...
good friend, Eric Johnson passed away last week
after battling melanoma. We are honored that Eric
spent the last year of his life working with Brett
in our studio on a 2-CD recording entitled, "Waiting
for the Undular Bores." Eric played on many Handsome
Family CDs and also played with us live at times.
Recording his last work was a mammoth job, but Brett
looked forward to every session with Big Sad Guy
(Eric's band). You can read about the project, the
band, and Brett's experiences as well as listen to
songs or order CDs HERE.
Come Further, DEAR READER... find a story of
STRANGE LOVE and the subtle movements of THE
TOUR DATES JULY, 2012
LOS ANGELES, CA: Wednesday, July 25, 8pm at THE HOTEL CAFE
JOSHUA TREE, CA: Friday, July 27,
8pm at ART
SANTA MONICA, CA: Saturday, July 28, 8pm
In 1995 we moved into a long-abandoned loft-space in
Chicago. There were strange remnants of the loft's
history left behind in that vast, empty room: a dumb
waiter, huge Styrofoam moon-rocks spray-painted
silver, a DJ booth (which we turned into our
bedroom), a heavy steel desk missing one drawer, a
gigantic disco ball, a Mexican mask of a
woman's face with a spider spread across her nose, a
classical guitar and several lawn chairs.
There was also an enormous
cockroach living in the bathroom with a jet-black
body that glistened like a lacquered box.
I've never seen a cockroach like that before or
since. I named him Big Black (after my favorite band
at the time) and we did our best to live together.
Somehow I couldn't bear the thought of killing him.
He was just too large, too stately, too shiny. I
felt that we were the intruders in his established
kingdom and I wanted to be respectful.
TOUR DATE AUGUST, 2012
DENVER, CO: Saturday, August 18 at THE ORIENTAL
were certainly other cockroaches in our new home,
but they were small, brown and unremarkable. They
raced in frightened circles when the light came on
in the kitchen. Big Black, though, he moved like a
king. He circled proudly around the toilet bowl as
if to give us a chance to admire him before
disappearing beneath a crack in the the molding
where the baseboard met the old, chipped tiles. His
body was so heavy and tangible that I swear it made
a scraping noise as he moved. One or two rounds
beneath the porcelain bowl and he would bid me
adieu, slipping away beneath the baseboard to his
TOUR DATES SEPTEMBER, 2012
CHICAGO, IL: Friday, September 14 at MAYNE STAGE
ST. LOUIS, MO: Saturday, September 15 at WOOD HOUSE
FURTHER SOUTHEAST, STILL TBC…
9/16 - Nashville, TN
9/18 - Carrboro, NC
9/19 - Charlotte, NC
9/20 - Athens, GA
9/21 - Birmingham, AL
9/22 - Eastman, GA
imagined he was actually a beetle instead of a
cockroach. I really can't be sure anymore what he
was. My memory is clouded with emotion.
In any case, we did live together successfully for
several months, each in our own turn rulers of the
house (he at night when we retired to the DJ booth
and we in the daylight hours when he retreated
beneath the molding for his repose).
Every once in awhile I accidentally ousted Big
Black from his daytime slumber. When I washed or
swept up around the toilet too vigorously Big
Black was sometimes roused into an offensive
charge and I would back out of the bathroom
muttering apologies until he had settled down.
One night, alas, our time
ended. I awoke in the night and climbed down from
the DJ booth to get a glass of water. I was
barefoot and it was dark and I was half asleep. I
remember feeling like I had stepped on a gigantic
eyelash, so soft and strangely delicate was the
thing beneath my foot as I crushed it.
It was not a disgusting moment.
Far from it. When my heel came down upon Big
Black, it was strangely beautiful and intimate, as
if he and I had both been brought to the earth to
share this terrible secret.
The loft was emptier without him. I often stood
before the toilet, staring down at the baseboards,
waiting for movement.
One night, as I lay sleepless
up in the DJ booth, I spotted a paint chip hanging
from the tin ceiling. It spun slowly in the draft
ever-blowing through our old, cracked windows. By
the time the paint chip had spun a full circle I
So began my love affair with Mr. Chip.
BEST TO YOU ALL,
xo Rennie and Mr. Chip
Herein, Dear Reader,
find helpful musings on the inner life of turtles as well as
the continually-baffling yet strangely-compelling movements of
...Does it bother
the turtle that it can never see its own shell? Or does the
turtle simply take on faith that it is born into a world where
invisible help is always at the ready? I once took a wrong
turn on a deserted Michigan road in a dense, early-morning
fog. When I tried to turn around by backing onto the shoulder,
the rear tires of my car (actually the whole back half of the
car) crashed downward and I found myself in a car hanging over
some unseen abyss. Before I could even think of what to do,
two workmen appeared out of the fog and proceeded to lift the
back end of my car up enough that my front wheels could pull
the rest of the car back onto the road. I imagine it is this
kind of amazing relief that the turtle feels when it escapes
the fox simply by disappearing into its shell. Alas, the poor
fox has a different story to tell...
MAY, 2012, TOUR
DATES: UNITED KINGDOM...See the Handsome Family live before
end-times Mayan predictions are fulfilled! We'll be playing a
bunch of new songs about hollow earth adventures, giant
caterpillars, dancing octopuses and the death of Stephen
Foster as well as a bunch of old favorites. Tiny Ruins will be
our support band.
May LEEDS, THE BRUDENELL,
TICKETS: www.jumborecords.co.uk /01132 455 570
May GLASGOW, ST ANDREWS IN THE SQUARE,
TICKETS: Website or 0141 204 5151
NORTHERN IRELAND, SPRING & AIRBRAKE, TICKETS:
www.realmusicclub.ticketsource.co.uk or 07711 737169
May BRISTOL, THE FLEECE,
TICKETS: tickets or 01179299008
May LIVERPOOL, LEAF, TICKETS:
www.seetickets.com or 0871 220 0260
May MANCHESTER: CHORLTON ARTS
FESTIVAL@ST CLEMENTS, www.wegottickets.com/event/148330
May OXFORD, THE
BULLINGDON ARMS, www.wegottickets.com/event/148330 or 01296
May NORFOLK, NORWICH
FESTIVAL SPIEGELTENT, TICKETS
May LONDON, THE 100 CLUB:
We got Tickets or Ticket Web
...The turtles we
spot in Albuquerque are western box turtles and they love to
eat the garden snails that gather along the scant trails of
moisture beneath the prickly pears after one of our rare, but
torrential rains. How strange that one shelled creature should
choose to hunt another (and with a few chomps of the turtle’s
hard, beak-like mouth be done with it). Yet this is not the
slow-motion battle you might imagine. The turtle is a
fast-moving creature, unlike the snail, and it leaps upon the
slithering gastropod as if deeply insulted that such a sleepy
creature should be allowed the rare glory of having a shell.
I’ve had hummingbirds give me that same look of disdain. They
fly down and hover close to my face, whooshing left and right,
trying to gather in the huge angles of my slow monstrosity as
if horrified to find such a slothful gargantuan alive in the
midst of their wild, whirring air.
TOUR DATES: SUMMER
and FALL, 2012, USA
See Rennie play the
world's smallest bass! See Brett sing new songs about
woodpeckers, frogs and glow worms! Note how many other strange
creatures are drawn out from the darkness to gather before our
LOS ANGELES, CA
Wednesday, July 25,
8pm: THE HOTEL CAFE
SANTA MONICA, CA
Saturday, July 28,
8pm: McCABE'S GUITAR SHOP
Saturday, August 18,
THE ORIENTAL THEATER
Friday, September 14,
Dates to come in
September featuring areas of the United States where iced tea
is offered in both 'sweet' and 'unsweet' varieties! Please let
us know if you have suggestions for where to play.
self-portrait by a human was probably one of those
prehistoric cave paintings that trace the outline of the
artist’s hand. At some point in our evolution as a species,
just as we all have done in our private evolution as
children, we suddenly discovered we had hands. It took many
more years more before anyone tried to capture the full
shape of their bodies. First we spent a lot of time drawing
disconnected breasts and genitals. You still see this
process at work in the dressing rooms of rock clubs all over
the world. There is a drawing in the Sunshine Theater here
in Albuquerque that I consider sacred. In the back-stage
bathroom there, someone has drawn a buxom naked woman who
has an engorged and ejaculating penis for a head. This
mysterious deity leaves all exiting her dark toilet altar
looking as dazed as a turtle forced to look upon its own
Dear reader, herein find JUNE/JULY TOUR DATES
FOR THE HANDSOME FAMILY as well as a discussion of the mind
and manner of THE GREAT APES...
Major Penny purchased "John Gorilla" from a
London department store and took it to live in his comfortable
apartments. "My ambition was to teach him to be strictly clean
in his habits and to have him upstairs in our house as an
ordinary member of the household. At first I could not make
him understand what we expected of him. He would roll on the
floor and shriek. Eventually he understood and began to behave
excellently. After about six weeks we took him from his cage
and allowed him the freedom of the house...
THE HANDSOME FAMILY HEAD TO EASTERN USA
JUNE 21, TUES: NEW YORK CITY, 8pm at 92Y
Tribeca, 200 Hudson Street, NYC, Tickets
JUNE 22, WED: SOMERVILLE, MASS at Rosebud, 381
Summer St, Somerville, Mass. Tickets
JUNE 23, THURS: HARTFORD, CT: at Real Art Ways,
56 Arbor Street, Hartford, CT. Tickets
JUNE 25, SAT: MASS MOCA, Wilco's Solid Sound
Festival in The Berkshires
FOOD: John was extremely found of fresh lemon
jelly. He loved roses to eat more than anything. The more
beautiful they were the more he liked them, but he never would
eat faded roses.
TOOLS: He knew what hammers and chisels were
for, but we never encouraged him in anything to do with
CAUTION: He was very cautious and would never
run into a dark room without first turning on the light.
TABLE MANNERS: He always sat at the table and
whenever a meal was ready would pull his own chair to his
place. He drank a lot of water which he would alway get for
himself whenever he wanted by turning on the tap and filling a
tumbler. He always turned off the water when he finished
AFFECTION: He was especially found of my little
niece, 3 years old. John and she used to play together for
hours and if she cried John would give her mother a smack with
the full weight of his hand, evidently thinking that she was
the cause of the child's tears.
THE HANDSOME FAMILY IN CANADA
JULY 23, Little Fest at Little Slocan Lodge near
Nelson, B.C. only four hours north of Spokane!
Peter the Chimpanzee would strike a match and
light a cigarette. In perfect man-fashion he took the
cigarette between his fingers, gave his keeper a light, smoked
again, and blew puffs of smoke from one corner of his mouth
and then the other. Then he elaborately spat into the
cuspidor. Next he went to the bureau and cleaned his teeth
with a toothbrush, brushed his hair on both sides, looked into
the mirror and powdered his face. Finally he bit a coin and
put it on the keeper's plate as a tip. He pulled off his coat,
took off his cuffs and vest, removed his shirt, trousers,
shoes, garters, and socks. Lighting a candle he walked to his
bed, blew out the candle and went to bed. Very soon he rose,
put on his trousers and a pair of roller skates and playfully
pursued a young woman who ran before him. His use of roller
skates was excellent.
Stories of John Gorilla and Peter Chimp are from
"The Minds and Manners of Wild Animals"
by William T. Hornaday, published in 1922
On Apr 9, 2011, at 2:59 PM, The Handsome Family wrote:
You don't have to join the ancient cult of Dionysus in order to
enjoy a parade in his honor. Skip the mess of sacrificial bulls
and the hysterical dismembering of woodland animals. Follow
these simple shopping tips below for a PAN-ic filled afternoon.
Why not save the evening for attending a live performance by THE
HANDSOME FAMILY? See tour dates below...
--200, gold-gilded, each 20
feet long and pulled by 180 men
--feature hundreds of
purple-painted satyrs and gold-garlanded nymphs crushing
grapes, dancing to pipers, re-enacting famous rape, murder
and/or enchantments of history
--devote an entire float to a
fifteen foot statue in a yellow spangled tunic that appears to
float through the streets, occasionally rising to full height
and pouring offerings of milk on crowds then reseating
--cover all floats in dense
clouds of incense and precede with enormous wine-skins pouring
scented wine all over the streets
--don't skimp on lyre players
or torch carriers!
--follow with chests of
frankincense and myrrh as well as camels carrying huge baskets
of saffron and cinnamon
TOUR DATES, SUMMER 2011
April 27, Trondheim, Credo
April 28, Tromsø, Blå Rock
April 29, Bergen
, Hotel Norge Festival Bar, 7-8pm
April 30, Stavanger, Cementen
May 2, Aarhus
May 3, Copenhagen, Loppen
May 4, Gothenburg, Pusterviksbaren
Get there early! We're on first of three bands: Seabear, Stone
River Boys and The Handsome Family
May 5, Stockholm, Mosebacke
with Josh T. Pearson
May 7, Gent, Kraakpand
at Handelsbeurs with Saint-Marteau, Secret Sisters, Wolfendale
and Melanie De Biasio
May 9, Sheffield, Greystone SOLD OUT
May 10 Manchester, Band on
May 11 Gateshead, The
May 13, Norwich, Arts
May 14, Reading, South
Street Arts Centre
May 15, Exeter, The
May 16, Bristol, The
May 17, London, Tabernacle
The Handsome Family is proud to be part of Solid Sound Festival
at Mass Moca in The Berkshires on June 25th, 2011
More Northeast dates to come...Hartford, NYC, maybe Portland ME,
July 23, Little Fest
Little Slocan Lodge near Nelson, B.C. only four hours north of
--several teams of
--hundreds of doves and
pigeons released with ribbons dangling from their feet
--troops of decorated donkeys
--elephants shod with
--teams of antelopes,
leopards, peacocks, lions, rhinoceroses, ostriches
--at least one albino bear
--200 bulls with gilded horns
ARTWORK AND MORE
--I still have one painting left for sale of the recent group.
Thanks to all who purchased!
--You can now buy my book of SHORT STORIES, "Evil" as a download
for kindle. In the USA or UK
for extra omph...
--57,000 foot soldiers
--23,000 horseback cavalry in
--floating forest of gilded
--Turn heads with your new
*Shopping list is taken from a description of a 3rd century B.C.
Dionysian procession that took place in the streets of
Alexandria as reported by Stacy Schiff in her book, Cleopatra
All good wishes to you, dear friends. Herein find a sampling of
sea monsters sighted while kayaking around Handsome Family Lagoon
as well as our latest tour dates and two of my paintings left for
sale... xo Rennie
The Aspidochelone: a giant turtle or (sometimes) whale that
appears to be an attractive island until you make the mistake of
going ashore and strolling up its back.
The Capricornus: dreaded fish-goat or antelope-whale. Few who have
seen it can decide. Most witnesses spend the rest of their days
unable to even look into a glass of water.
Charybdis: monstrous whirlpool of sucking water that always has
room for one more boat.
Scylla: Charybdis's flat-mate. They share a narrow stretch of
water that is best avoided even if it adds many hours on to the
trip. Scylla has four eyes and six heads on long spindly necks
that each want to eat their own sailor as a ship goes past; all
heads equipped with three rows of razor-sharp teeth. Scylla also
has twelve tentacle legs, a cat's tail and a decorative ring of
wolf's heads ringing her waist. Poor Scylla was once a beautiful
sea nymph but was fed poison by Circe and hence is in an
understandably foul mood for all eternity.
***HANDSOME FAMILY TOUR DATES!***
CANADA & USA, WEST COAST...
1/19 - Vancouver, BC at The Biltmore Cabaret
1/20 - Seattle, WA at The Tractor Tavern
1/21 - Portland, OR at The Doug Fir Lounge
1/22 - Eugene, OR at Sam Bond's Garage
1/25 - Berkeley, CA at Freight and Salvage
1/26 - San Francisco, CA at Café DuNord
1/28 - Los Angeles, CA at The Bootleg Theater
1/29 - Santa Monica, CA at McCabe's Guitar Shop
1/30 - Phoenix, AZ at The Rhythm Room
Wed, 27, Apr TRONDHEIM, CREDO
Thu, 28, Apr TROMSØ, BLÅ ROCK
Fri, 29, Apr BERGEN FEST,
Sat, 30, Apr STAVANGER,
HOPEFULLY SOME SHOWS IN DENMARK AND SWEDEN here and THEN...
Sat. 7, May GENT, KRAAKPAND at
Mon. 9, May SHEFFIELD,
Tue. 10, May MANCHESTER, BAND
ON THE WALL
Wed, 11, May GATESHEAD, SAGE (Hall
Fri, 13, May
NORWICH, ARTS CENTRE
Sat, 14, May READING,
SOUTH STREET ARTS CENTRE
Sun, 15, May EXETER, PHOENIX
Mon, 16, May BRISTOL, FLEECE
Tue, 17, May LONDON,
July 23, Little Fest, at Little Slocan Lodge near Nelson,
FURTHER SEA DEMONS....
The Hydra: A serpent-like water beast with so many heads no
vase-painter can capture them all (believe me, I've tried). Each
head that gets chopped off grows two more. Poisonous breath and
poisonous footprints when it decides to stroll up the beach to the
Leviathan: Ye Old Testament sea-serpent who likes to hang around
the Mouth of Hell. Eyes as bright as the dawn and smoke constantly
pouring from nose. Fearful of nothing on this earth save a small
worm called a 'kilbit' which can crawl into its gill and cause
Proteus: a shape-shifting old man of the sea who can tell your
future if you catch him, but prefers to turn into salt spray and
slip from your hands repeatedly.
The Rainbow Fish: red scales made of fire, blue scales made of
ice, yellow scales of lightning, and green scales made of grass.
PAINTINGS: I have TWO PAINTINGS LEFT for sale from my latest
collection, "Mysteries of Air and Water". Both of these paintings
were featured on the artwork for Honey Moon.
Umibozu: a sea spirit that will drown anyone who dares to speak to
it, however it will need you to provide a barrel full of water in
which to drown you. Having a bottomless barrel is a great
Oh, the ceaseless migrations of the wildebeest and the handsome
The Serengeti wildebeest travels 500 to 1,000 miles every year. It
migrates a great circle across the African plains following the
available grass and water. Unlike the Emperor penguin who marches
across the snow drifts to bring food to its newborn or the eel
that travels around the world to reach mating grounds, the
wildebeest moves because it must do so or die.
A wildebeest calf must stand and run within minutes of birth. It
must immediately follow its mother and run fast enough to keep up
with the herd. To remain behind when the herd moves forward is a
death sentence. Lions and hyenas lurk in the shadows waiting for
stragglers. Moving ahead, though, holds its own dangers. The
rivers to be crossed can be shallow enough to hide crocodiles
under their mud or deep enough that the swift currents will sweep
an animal off its feet. Many wildebeests die on every leg of their
journey. But the Serengeti herd is over a million strong and when
they stampede across the plains nothing can stop them.
THE HANDSOME FAMILY IN NEW YORK CITY...
Saturday, September 11 at The City Winery with our pal Stan
Ridgway. Doors at 5:30pm, Handsome Family on stage at 8:30pm. Buy
tickets early! This is a lovely venue, but there is limited
Reserve your ticket
Home again in NEW MEXICO
Sunday, September 26, FREE SHOW at Albuquerque's The Old Town
Gazebo. It's the Old Town Americana Picnic with 10 local
bands.Here's the Schedule
HALLOWEEN in Madrid, New Mexico
Sunday, October 31 at The Mine Shaft Tavern. A spooky night in the
mountains with a costume contest and two sets by the Handsome
Family. First set starts 8pm.
Scientists say that the wildebeest is governed by a 'swarm
intelligence'. These burly animals move with the same
choreographed grace as a flock of birds or a school of fish. They
race forward in an ever-shifting pack that pushes and pulls each
wildebeest in a rotating movement even as they press onward so
that each animal finds itself at the edge of the herd only briefly
as it runs. The lioness that is foolish enough to pursue a herd of
wildebeests will find she is constantly confronted with a fresh
animal to chase and she is soon exhausted.
Wildebeests make loud grunts and moans ("Gnu! Gnu! Gnu!") to
constantly reaffirm their position to each other. They also exude
a pungent scent from glands above their hooves so that even on a
starless night they know exactly how close they are to each other.
There are moments when the herd moves in such harmony that it
truly is one enormous beast -- an ancient creature that has been
circling the African plains for at least a million years.
New Handsome Family Merchandise...
Our newest CD, "Scattered" is a collection of odd covers, orphaned
songs and lost demos.
Rennie's newest poster, "The Snake Bottle" is an alchemist's
formula for forging the philosopher's stone out of a song bird, a
snake and a small fire.
We again have for sale some copies of "Down in the Valley," an
Irish compilation of songs from our first three cds.
Life isn't easy for the wildebeest, but there are moments when the
great throng pause at mid-day after a soft rain. The plain is lush
and green. No predator will dare approach until nightfall and the
grass is sweet and plentiful. They spend the long sunlit hours
calling back and forth to each other across the grassland...
Here we are! Here we are! Here we are!
Oh, to write a song as great as the one the wildebeest sings! I
struggle on. Rennie
Why don't we trust the crow? Why doesn't the crow trust us? Why
does The Handsome Family so rarely leave the house? So begins the
We call a flock of crows, a 'murder' and a flock of ravens, an
'unkindness'. Crows don't think much of us either. If crows feel
you are watching them too closely as they come and go from their
nest they will sometimes fly to a far tree and pretend to feed
fake children in a non-existent nest until they feel they have
sufficiently confused you.
In medieval Europe, doctors who cared for plague victims wore
waxed robes and a helmet that looked like a crow’s head. The waxed
robes were thought to protect them from the deadly contagion, but
the crow's mask was simply to warn others to stay away. Even Noah
in his ark full of animals found his relations with the crow
quickly strained. Knowing the crow to be smart, Noah released the
bird to look for dry land, but when the crow didn't return. Noah,
instead of rejoicing, sent out a dove to double-check.
SUNDAY, MAY 23, ALBUQUERQUE, NM
AMP CONCERTS & THE ART OF THE SONG present
"The Handsome Family — in Concert and Conversation"
The Outpost Performance Space, Albuquerque, NM, 210 Yale SE, 7:30
Tickets: $15 in advance, $20 day of the show.
Purchase: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/99378 or by
phone: 1-800-838-300 6
There will be an interview for NPR's "The Art of Song" radio show
and then a full performance. Brett and Rennie will be playing as a
duo for this intimate, seated show.
Yes, t he crow family is frighteningly smart. Magpies can
recognize their own reflections and will clean a red spot off
their foreheads when glimpsed in a mirror. In comparison, the poor
dim-witted robin will attack its own reflection until the glass is
Crows have a great ability for social learning. Most crows will
choose a McDonald's fast food bag over an ordinary brown bag
without hesitation. Crows have also learned to place walnuts
underneath car tires and then wait patiently for the car to drive
away. They use wood splinters to pull insects out of crevices and
have even been seen using cups to carry water back to their nests.
HANDSOME FAMILY TOUR DATES!
June 11--THE CEDAR CULTURAL CENTER, MINNEAPOLIS, MN 416 Cedar Ave
S, MPLS, MN, 612-338-2674, www.thecedar.org
June 12-- THE HIGH NOON SALOON, MADISON, WI
701 E. Washington Ave, 608-268-1122, www.high-noon.com
June 13- THE OLD TOWN SCHOOL OF FOLK MUSIC, CHICAGO
4544 North Lincoln Avenue, 773-728-6000, www.oldtownschool.org
June 15, THE MERCURY LOUNGE, NYC
217 E. Houston St., 212-260-4700, www.mercuryloungenyc.com
June 16, THE WORLD CAFÉ LIVE, PHILADELPHIA
3025 Walnut St, Philadelphia, 215-222-1400, www.worldcafelive.com
June 18, THE IOTA, ARLINGTON, VA
2832 Wilson Blvd., VA, 703-522-8340, www.iotaclubandcafe.com
June 19, CARRBORO ARTS CENTER, NC
300 East Main St, 919-929-2787, www.artscenterlive.org
June 20, SNUG HARBOR, CHARLOTTE, NC
1228 Gordon Street, 704-333-9799, www.snugharbor.com
UK & IRELAND:
Rennie and Brett will be performing these european shows as a duo
for a very intimate sound featuring guitar and banjo.
JULY 21, Manchester, 7pm, live session at BBC Manchester for 6
Music's Marc Riley
JULY 23 and 24, Friday and Saturday
Two shows at The beautiful GATESHEAD SAGE:
23rd---"Murder, Misery, and Then Goodnight-- guests include
Kristin Hersh, The Handsome Family, Tim Eriksen, Eliza Carthy,
24th-- The Jumpin' Hot Stage, an outdoor afternoon full set by The
Handsome Family at the performance square
More info: http://www.thesagegateshead.org/whats_on/index.aspx
JULY 25, Sunday, TROWBRIDGE VILLAGE PUMP FESTIVAL
J ULY 27, Tuesday, BRISTOL, THEKLA
JULY 28, Wednesday, LEEDS, THE HYDE PARK PICTURE HOUSE
We'll be playing a full performance preceded by the film,
"Microcosmos" which is Rennie's favorite movie about
insects---from snails kissing to beetles battling, it's an
unforgettably beautiful film.
JULY 29, Thursday, STIRLING, THE TOLBOOTH
Confirmed dates still to come, but hopefully
Skibbereen, Cork and more.
Crows have a vocabulary that includes at least eighty documented
words as well as regional dialects. Crows are sentimental and
ritualistic. They will gather at the site where a garbage dump
once stood long after the dump has gone away. Has it become a
sacred spot for them?
Crows will also gather by the hundreds to witness the death of a
single crow. They simply wait quietly for the death and then
afterwards all fly away at once. Crows not only gather for such
funerals, but also for executions. Crows fill all the trees in a
clearing and then wait. Suddenly all is quiet as one crow steps
forward and kills another.
We have a new CD Release!
"Scattered: A Further Collection of Lost Demos, Orphaned Songs and
In the spirit of "Smothered and Covered" we're releasing another
cd full of bits and bobs. We should have copies to sell by June 10
and will have some on our upcoming tour dates. For the first year
it will only be available on our website and at our shows. You can
pre-order a copy here (
http://www.handsomefamily.com/Nmerch.html#anchor864587 ) and we'll
send one out to you when we get our first shipment pressed or you
can buy one from us at a live show.
Here's what's on the cd....
“The Lost Soul ” originally recorded for Bloodshot Records’ 2005
compilation, For a Decade of Sin.
When it Rains,” was supposed to be on Twilight but somehow fell by
“Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” by Dylan, recorded for Uncut's,
Highway 61 Revisited Revisited.
“Snowball” originally released on Bloodshot’'s 2002 children’'s
record, The Bottle Let Me Down.
“Ain’t No Grave” written by Brother Claude Ely.
“Little Buddy, one of our earliest attempts at songwriting (1993).
“Eleanor Rigby bluegrass version with the Rivet Gang.
“A Plague of Humans,” written for David Coulter’s “Plague Songs ”
that took place at the Barbican in 2007.
“Famous Blue Raincoat” Leonard Cohen's classic.
Drinking Beer on the Roof, an alternate to the “Red Leaf Forest.
We realized later we liked these lyrics better.
“Telephones and Telescopes” originally released as a 7”" single by
Speed Kills in 1992.
“The Lost Highway” most-famously recorded by Hank Williams. Our
version's from 2002.
“Honcho” is an instrumental recorded by Brett on 4-track in 1991.
“The Blizzard” by Harlan Howard, most-famously recorded by Jim
What does the Deep Sea Say?” A traditional we first heard sung by
The Blue Sky Boys.
“Tranquilized” is Brett’'s sad song about life post mental
June Bugs” (alternate take) this version has a certain magic we
lost in the final mix released on Honey Moon.
One Way Up” (4-track demo) is an early (1990) 4-track version of a
song later released on Odessa .
“Claire Said” (rehearsal tape) is an early live recording made in
our Chicago apartment around 1992.
No one knows why, but crows take great pleasure in lying on top of
ant hills and rubbing the ants' formic acid on their wings. Does
the smell of formic acid repel other insects or, does the acid
somehow intoxicate the birds?
A traditional Tibetan funeral involved cutting a loved one into
pieces and feeding the body parts to crows. The crows feed and
then fly up into the air and thus help the dead rise away from
Crows are known to collect shiny objects and objects that are
colored white: golf balls, white pebbles, clamshells. A great yogi
was asked once what the world looked like to the enlightened and
he replied, "It looks like the entire world is covered with white,
Hope your world shines brightly, Rennie
Take a moment to consider the termite and to ponder the movements
of The Handsome Family...
Termite nests are nothing short of works of art. Their soaring
spires are constructed with awe-inspiring symmetries. Why these
insects build such gorgeous homes is a mystery, especially since
termites are completely blind. It's amazing but true: termite
nests can rise as high as twenty feet tall. These creatures work
relentlessly. Each one carries a single grain of earth coated in
saliva. They carefully glue their morsel in place then head down
to find another. Considering the small size of termites, such a
building is the equivalent of an 180-story skyscraper built by
hand, brick by brick— yet termites only live about two years.
SATURDAY, APRIL 10, THE HANDSOME FAMILY AT LOW SPIRITS
2823 2nd Street NW, ABQ, NM, 505-344-9555
With special guests Fast Heart Mart
Doors 7pm, Show starts 9pm sharp.
For tickets and more info: www.lowspiritslive.com
The inside of a termite's nest is a fancy apartment building. They
have everything: larva rooms, fungus production rooms, rooms for
hot and cold weather. They even have ventilation systems and
emergency exits. The enormous queen has her own bedroom, a dark
bower where she grows bigger and bigger. She gives birth to
thousands of eggs. She gives birth to her entire world.
SUNDAY, MAY 23, THE HANDSOME FAMILY AT THE OUTPOST PERFORMANCE
210 Yale SE, 505-268-0044
AMP Concerts and NPR's Art of the Song present...
The Handsome Family in Concert and in Conversation, 7:30pm
featuring a live interview for 'Art of the Song' followed by a
For more info. visit www.ampconcerts.org
Termites seem to have a natural hatred for us. Not only do they
attack our houses, but some people also accuse them of eating away
the dams around New Orleans right before Katrina hit. Are
termites waging a war against us? Will they win?
USA TOUR DATES, JUNE 2010
June 11, THE CEDAR CULTURAL CENTER, MINNEAPOLIS
416 Cedar Ave S, MPLS, MN, 612-338-2674, www.thecedar.org
June 12, TBC
June 13, THE OLD TOWN SCHOOL OF FOLK MUSIC, CHICAGO
4544 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL, 773-728-6000,
June 15, THE MERCURY LOUNGE, NYC
217 East Houston Street, 212-260-4700, www.mercuryloungenyc.com
June 16, THE WORLD CAFÉ LIVE, PHILADELPHIA
3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1400,
June 17, TBC
June 18, THE IOTA, ARLINGTON, VA
2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA, 703-522-8340,
June 19, CARRBORO ARTS CENTER, NC
300 East Main Street, Carrboro, NC, 919-929-2787,
June 20, SNUG HARBOR, CHARLOTTE, NC
1228 Gordon Street, Charlotte, NC, 704-333-9799
Although they’re blind, termites navigate the intricate corridors
of their world without hesitation. Termites can communicate by
banging their heads on the floor of their tunnels. They create
vibrations that other termites can both feel and hear. But
termites have another, more mysterious way of communicating that
is conducted through their queen. Some scientists call it a ‘group
EUROPE, JULY-AUGUST, 2010
We have a bunch of dates we're working on for Europe. Only one
confirmed so far:
July 25-- TROWBRIDGE VILLAGE PUMP FESTIVAL, Somerset.
Divide a termite’s nest in two in the beginnings stages of its
construction. Use a heavy plate of metal so that neither side can
hear or feel or smell the presence of the other. When the nest is
finished on both sides if you pull out the metal plate you will
find that the two disconnected halves of the nest match each other
exactly. All the passageways connect perfectly. All rooms on one
side are mirrored to the ones on the other. If you kill the queen,
however; all activity immediately stops. Termites that a
moment before were busily working now move about aimlessly. Within
minutes even the termites at the far edges of the nest are left in
total confusion. Even termites isolated by the metal plate are
We will soon have a new, self-released CD entitled, "Scattered."
In the tradition of "Smothered and Covered" it will be a gathering
together of various loose tracks, rarities, demos, and covers
we've done over the years. We'll be selling it at our shows in
June and July/August as well as on our website
(www.handsomefamily.com). We'll announce it when it's on sale.
Creationists often cite the inexplicable perfection of termite
nests as proof that an intelligent hand was behind their
existence. Scientists think termites build such intricate nests
because they’re an aggressive, warring creature and their nests
are often under attack. If termite nests are proof of god’s
existence then god must be a huge queen pouring eggs forth into
the universe. She must guide our every move. If she stops, even
for a moment, what will happen to us? What will happen to the
We hope your spring is full of flowers and honey bees. xo Rennie
Herein friends, find Handsome Family news as well as startling
facts about sharks...
SHARK SMELL: A shark's sense of smell is so great it can smell
just one part per million of blood in seawater. I imagine blood
smells sweet to them like chocolate. There was a chocolate factory
near where I used to live in Chicago. I also lived near a
dog food factory. Depending on how the wind was blowing I smelled
chocolate or dog food. I never learned to like the smell of dog
food, but it seems to me that it's my nose and not the dog food
that's the problem. I've watched my cats take long, slow
inhalations of each others' hind ends and they act like they're
smelling the finest of flowers or reading a beautiful poem.
AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES!
Sunday 10th January - Rosemount Hotel, Perth
Tickets from www.moshtix.com.au, 1300 GET TIX (438 849) and
www.heatseeker.com.au Stores: Star Perth, Mills Records Fremantle,
and Planet Video Mt Lawley
Wednesday 13th January - Prince Bandroom, Melbourne
Tickets from Polyester (City and Fitzroy), Greville, Missing Link,
POW public bar, ph: 9536-1168
& www.princebandroom.com.au, Presented by RRR
Thursday 14th + Friday 15th January – The Famous Spiegeltent,
SOLD OUT. EXCEPT A FEW TICKETS FOR THESE SHOWS WILL GO ON SALE THE
DAY OF THE SHOWS AT TIX FOR NIX
January 20 - The Grace Emily Hotel, Adelaide.
Tickets available at the Grace Emily.
SHARK SIGHT: Shark eyes are scary. Their stare seems cold and
dead, utterly menacing and alien and, at the same time, familiar—
an ancient, half-remembered demon from our long-ago days as
creatures of the sea. Surprisingly, many sharks attack with their
eyes closed. The Great White shark rolls its eyes back in its head
NEW ZEALAND TOUR DATES!
27th January - Auckland - Monte Cristo Room
28th January - Wellington - San Francisco Bath House
29th January - Dunedin - Chicks Hotel
30th January - Christchurch - Sound Day Festival
31st January - Masterton - Aratoi (www.aratoi.co.nz)
Tickets to all the shows (except Christchurch*) will be available
SHARK SIXTH SENSE: Sharks have an amazing ability to detect
electromagnetice fields. They can detect the electric flashes
emitted by the tiniest muscle flex of the tiniest flounder buried
under the sand fifty feet below. They can also navigate by
following magnetic fields across the sea. Imagine feeling all the
twitches of all the muscles of all living things spread out around
you in a beautiful web of electric lines. Every moment of a
shark's life must be full of great revelation— a Buddhist state of
connection to the world.
MORE HF TOUR DATES IN THE WORKS...
May, 2010, east coast, USA
June, 2010, west coast, USA
July, 2010, UK and other parts of Europe
SHARK REPRODUCTION: Female sharks have been known to reproduce
without having sex with a male. Nobody knows how they do it. Do
they simply envision their creation and then form it in flesh? Do
the ley lines of our planet pull new life spontaneously from their
OCTOPUS SHIRT: We're discontinuing our octopus shirt to make room
for a new design. We have some XL and Large left, but only ONE 2XL
left to sell, Paypal me $20 and it's yours. You probably should
email first to find out if I still have the shirt here.
SHARK SLEEP: It is thought that sharks sleep one cerebral
hemisphere at a time. They are never completely asleep. Perhaps
they are always dreaming a little bit as well. Even as they tear a
fish apart they see a dream world of blood opening before them
like a million swirling flowers.
SCATTERED: We're working on another CD compilation of odd songs
and demos which will be sold at our upcoming tour dates (except
AUS/NZ, but we'll have other bits and bobs to sell at those
SHARK FIN SOUP: Please don't eat shark fin soup. It is made by
cutting off a shark's fin and then throwing the rest of the body
into the water. They sell vegetarian shark fin soup at my local
asian grocery store, but I haven't tried it. The name is
off-putting to me, but I know I shouldn't let that stop me. When I
finally tried Thai sour fruit soup it turned out to be delicious.
So did fermented tofu which spreads like the softest butter. Maybe
people who eat shark fin soup are like the hungry ghosts of
Buddhist mythology, forever trying to fill up their emptiness with
the soul of something grand and strong. You can't just eat a shark
to be a shark. Far better to spend time trying to imagine all
living creatures emitting their tiny sparks as they move. Try and
feel the grand symphony of flashes around us— the secret starry
night that only sharks can see.
RIP VIC CHESTNUTT: No words to express how much we'll miss his
presence in the world.
Greetings fellow travelers on this ship spinning around the sun.
Herein find secrets of the jellyfish and the latest from ye olde
Jellyfish have been living on Earth for millions of years—long
before humans or even dinosaurs made their first appearance. The
jellyfish has four stomachs and four clusters of eyes on each side
of its umbrella-like body. Believe it or not, jellyfish also have
four distinct brains. No one understands exactly how this works.
Perhaps they are like Chang and Eng, the famous conjoined twins,
always tugging each other in different directions. One night they
spent with Chang’s wife while Eng lay next to the couple
pretending to sleep. The next night they went to Eng’s house and
Chang would stare into his pillow whilst Eng and his wife made
love. I prefer, however, to imagine that having four brains feels
like waking from a terrible dream and feeling the pressure of an
invisible hand clasping your own in the dark.
UPCOMING TOUR DATES!
***The United Kingdom***
Sun, 27 Sept, NORWICH ARTS CENTRE with Holly Throsby
8pm, £12 adv. /£13 door (tickets: 01603 660 352 or
Mon, 28 Sept, BUSH HALL, LONDON with Holly Throsby
7.30 pm, £12.50 Adv/ £15.00 Door (tickets: 0844 477 1000 or
Tue, 29 Sept, TAYLOR JOHNS HOUSE, COVENTRY
£10 adv £15 door (tickets: www.tinangeltickets.co.uk or
***Holland and Belgium***
Thursday, 1 Oct, HOLLAND, DEN HAGUE, Paard van Troje
7:30pm (tickets: www.paard.nl)
Friday, 2 Oct, BELGIUM, EEKLO, N9 (www.n9.be)
Saturday, 3 Oct, HOLLAND, GRONINGEN
Take Root Festival (tickets: www.ticketservice.nl or
www.de-oosterpoort.nl or www.takeroot.nl)
***Denmark and Sweden***
Sunday, 4 Oct, DENMARK, ARHUS VOX HALL, 9pm
TICKETS/INFO: 0045 70 26 32 67 or
Wednesday, 7 Oct, STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN, KAGELBANAN/SODRA
www.sodrateatern.com, 7.30pm, 145
Thursday, 8 Oct, SWEDEN, GOTHENBURG,
www.ticnet.s or www.pustervik.goteborg.se, 9pm, 125 sek
Friday, 9 Oct, SWEDEN, MALMO,
www.ticnet.se or www.kulturbolaget.se, 8pm, 145 sek
Saturday, 10 Oct DENMARK, COPENHAGEN, LOPPEN, 9pm
TICKETS/INFO: www.billetlugen.dk or www.loppen.dk
Tuesday, 13 Oct, STAVANGER, CEMENTEN, 10pm
www.linticket / www.cementen.no or www.checkpoint.no
Wednesday, 14 Oct, BERGEN, MADAM FELLE
www.billetservice.no or www.madamfelle.no
Thursday, 15 Oct, TRONDHEIM, RESTAURANT CREDO (just Brett
and Rennie as a duo)
firstname.lastname@example.org or www.restaurantcredo.no, 9PM, NOK
Friday, 16 Oct, TROMSO, BLA ROCK CAFE (Brett and Rennie as a
www.Billettluka.no or www.blarock.no, NOK 220
Saturday, 17 Oct, OSLO, BLAA
www.billettservice.no or www.blaaoslo.no
A group tour with John Doe & The Sadies plus Magnolia
Tuesday, 20 Oct, CADIZ, AULARIO DE LA
Wednesday, 21 Oct, MADRID, SALA HEINEKEN
Thursday, 22 Oct, ALICANTE, MINT CLUB
Friday, 23 Oct, BARCELONA, APOLO
Saturday, 24 Oct, ZARAGOZA, LA CASE DEL LOCO (sin Magnolia
Sunday, 25 Oct, MAJORCA, TEATRE LLOSETA
Did you know there’s a kind of jellyfish that is virtually
immortal? While most life forms begin to die after they reproduce,
the Turritopsis Nutricula jellyfish is able to revert back to its
juvenile form after mating. These jellyfish can perform this
miraculous feat indefinitely. In other words, unless they fall
prey to some outside attack... they never die. There may be
jellyfish swimming the ocean right now that have been alive for
millions of years and will be here for millions more.
MORE UPCOMING TOUR DATES!
November 14-18, 2009
LIVE MUSIC, LEGENDARY TRAINS AND THE GREAT SOUTHWEST!
Los Angeles - Albuquerque - Petrified Forest - Grand Canyon
- Los Angeles
The Handsome Family, Jill Sobule and the Stan Ridgway Trio
announce The Mystery Train... an unforgettable four days through
the wide open spaces of the American Southwest. Travel in
overnight luxury in our own private railroad cars from Los Angeles
to Albuquerque, across the Mojave Desert, tracing the lines of
Route 66, and then by private motorcoach to the Painted Desert,
the Petrified Forest and the Grand Canyon, before reboarding our
train for the trip home. Each night there will be plenty of music:
informal jams on board and land-based shows with our host
musicians. An open mic or two; some world-class meals and memories
to last a lifetime! There's only room for fifty patrons on
board... please join us!
Full details at:
Call Sarah at Roots on the Rails at 866-484-3669 with
questions, or email email@example.com.
***Australia and New Zealand***
JANUARY, 2010 a tour is in the works. Dates coming soon, but
definitely the Sydney Festival January 14 and 15 in the
Nomura’s jellyfish grows to be six feet long (not including its
tentacles which often stretch twice that length). In the northern
Pacific there lives a jellyfish that can grow over 120 feet long.
Shackleton’s men, on their doomed polar expedition, wrote of
seeing a jellyfish pulsing under the ice floes that stretched over
10 miles in length. These doomed explorers also wrote of
encountering a pure white fox that was able not only to hear, but
to control their thoughts. This pale fox caused many a good man to
run off into the snow wearing naught but his nightshirt.
POSTERS: We have a new poster for sale in a very limited
quantity. It's a colored pencil drawing color-copied and signed by
the artist, Ben Wachter. There's also one last Schuba's poster
left and a few copies of Rennie’s squirrel poster. You can see
them all here... http://www.handsomefamily.com/Nmerch.html#POSTERS
PAINTINGS: When we get back home in November I'll be putting
five or six paintings up for sale. Email me
(firstname.lastname@example.org) if you'd like to be one of the
first notified (and you haven’t already emailed me about being
interested in my paintings).
Bluebottle jellyfish are a beautiful shimmering blue, but
their painful stings may dig deep into your flesh and can lead to
heart failure. The venom of the Box jellyfish is so powerful that
one sting has enough poison to kill 60 people in under three
Global warming has caused jellyfish populations to skyrocket.
There are places near coastal cities called “dead zones” where the
coral reefs have been killed by heavy pollution. Here the last
dying fish have no place to hide. They are hunted by huge swarms
of jellyfish until the waters are empty of life. Still, this great
destroyer is also quietly saving the world. As their great numbers
gently stir the water, jellyfish help cool the world’s seas. Like
the great god Shiva banging his drum to both create and destroy
the universe, so doth the jellyfish drift the seas— at once
killing and saving us all.
See you on the waves... Rennie
Driftwood found on the shores of the Arctic Ocean
provides further proof of the ‘Hollow Earth’ theory. Our
expedition found a large coniferous tree on a beach just above the
extreme high-water mark. It was about thirty feet long and had
been carried recently to this point (indeed a cheery campfire was
soon made from its branches) yet no timber of such dimensions
grows within hundreds of miles of where we stood!
Where did the tree come from? The only logical answer is that it
came from inside the Earth! While the mysterious tree burned
readily, members of our party noted flashes of green flame within
its fire and several were made sick by canned beans reheated upon
its embers. Some weeks later, as we traversed the coastline, we
made a further startling discovery. A large tree, probably pine or
fir, was found almost completely buried in the ground over half
mile from the water. Was the tree thrown there by some huge wind
storm or was it pushed up by volcanic eruption from a forest
growing far below the surface of our world?
THE HANDSOME FAMILY LEAVES
-- USA, November 25: Albuquerque NM, The Sunshine Theater.
We open for Calexico. Show starts at 8pm!
-- United Kingdom, November 29, Twisted Folk Festival, The
Arts Depot - North Finchley - London - N12
Tickets: £15 / £17, Box Office: 0208 369 5454
--United Kingdom, November 30, The Half Moon - Herne Hill -
Tickets: £12, Box Office - 020 7274 2733
ON THE SHORES OF LAKE BIEDERBICK... I, myself, found an enormous
pair of reindeer antlers, buried up to the highest tines. Further
away from the shore I found traces of a campsite littered with
strange spearheads made of an unidentifiable bone. The mysterious
spearheads were carved with intricate whirls, the likes of which
none among my retinue had ever seen and all remarked that extended
examination of such patterns left the eyes unstable and the mind
racing with fear. We also found the remains of tanned skins that
even Tremont, our naturalist, was at a complete loss to identify.
The animals appeared to have three legs on one side and four on
the other. A petroglyph later spotted on a nearby cliffside by
Tremont depicted a sky containing two suns. Next morning Tremont
was found delirious and fevered, wandering in circles at the edge
of the campsite.
--We have a NEW EP available for download: "In the Forest of
Features three songs: The Blizzard, Knoxville Girl, and All
the Time in Airports
--We have a FREE CHRISTMAS DOWNLOAD for you, too!
Our "Christmas" song “So Much Wine” is available for free at
www.loosemusic.com from December 1st, 2008 for two weeks.
--Don’t forget our new 7" VINYL RECORD... One side has "The
Blizzard" and the other has "Drunk by Noon", both sides have art
--And, of course, our NEW CD, “HONEY MOON” is to be released
April, 2009 with lots of tour dates to follow
WHAT IS THE INTERIOR OF THE EARTH
From analysis it seems that sea monsters and possibly even sea
serpents will certainly be found living below the Earth’s surface
as well as enormous spiders hording glittering gems of all kinds
within their webbed caverns. There, too, may be found vast
territories of arable land suitable for farming.
The opening into the interior of the Earth found at the south of
Antarctic is fifteen hundred miles in diameter while the opening
at the north Arctic is only one thousand miles in diameter.
Subterranean inhabitants must experience a drastically longer
summer near the south pole. Such pale and blind creatures would
surely find such extended illumination offensive and thus it is
here, during the long summer months, that safe entry into the
Earth may be attempted.
Special care must be taken to guard against accidents on any such
expedition. A ship should be well supplied with auxiliary boats
and powerful search lights as well as a supply of radium lamps.
Guarded and brightly-lit stations should be established every few
miles and the path well-marked with phosphorus paint. A supply of
colored glass beads and small hand mirrors should be brought along
to trade with inhabitants (although every effort must be made to
avoid shining light directly into their sensitive eyes). The
utmost caution should be taken as the further reaches of the
interior are traversed. The differing gravitational pull found
within the planet may cause permanent muscular and skeletal damage
on those not suitably attired. Caution must also be taken to avoid
both “Deep Cavern Arrhythmia” and “Subterranean Homicidal Rage”
(although isolation in darkness with ringing bells sounding at
intervals is often an effective, if not immediate, cure for both
such common maladies)...
Adapted freely from "Phantom of the Poles" written by
William Reed, 1906. Rare first edition manuscript found in
overturned chifferobe in Perryton, Texas.
Until we meet again deep below the surface, my fellow
explorers, step lightly in dark corridors...
A big hello from the sunny side of the Sandia Mountains...
Herein find DOUSING WANDS, DIAMOND PENDULUMS and
NEWS OF THE HANDSOME FAMILY (New CD! London dates! More!)
STICK WIGGLING! Are you a Water Witch? Do you have the gift
of stick wiggling? It’s simple to find out. Leave your hat out in
a field overnight. In the morning if you find it full of snakes
you have what it takes to become a douser. Cut yourself a green
fork of peach tree or witch hazel. Take one prong firmly in each
hand. Walk slowly back and forth with the fork held out in front
of you, parallel to the ground. When you cross an underground
stream, forgotten well, or pocket of primordial ice the stick will
twist violently downward. Commence digging!
NOVEMBER, LONDON, UK: TWO DATES
Arts Depot - North Finchley - London - N12
Tickets: £15 / £17
Box Office: 0208 369 5454
The Half Moon - Herne Hill - London SE24
Box Office - 020 7274 2733
THE POWER OF THE PENDULUM! Can’t find peach trees or witch
hazel in your local enchanted forest? Make a pendulum! T.C.
Lethbridge found that by hanging a weight on the end of a string
many things could be found below-ground just by walking paces
about his garden and observing the pendulum’s motion. Different
string lengths find different things. Shorter lengths find metals:
brass, copper, lead. Slightly longer may uncover truffles, sweet
potatoes, rare purple carrots. At forty inches Lethbridge’s
pendulum located death. He further reported that strings over
forty inches in length began to pick up the shapes of unseen
NOVEMBER 11: SEVEN-INCH VINYL RECORD RELEASED
We’re releasing our first 7” with Carrot Top Records. It’ll
have “Drunk by Noon” on one side. This is a song from our second
CD that has been covered by Sally Timms and several others as well
as listed as one of Jim Halpert’s (a character from the US TV
show, “The Office”) favorite songs. Thanks Jim for all those
downloads! The other side of the 7” is our recording of “The
Blizzard” (a song made famous by Countrypolitan crooner Jim
Reeves). The sleeve features full-color art by Rennie on both
sides. We should have this collector’s item for sale on our
website by early December.
GOLD DOODLEBUG! To turn your water dousing stick into a gold
hunter simply hang a gold ring from the end of the stick. To find
buried treasure split the end of the stick and insert coins of
various metals. Try swinging a pendulum over a map of your
hometown to find out who’s thinking about you and who’s thinking
about lighting fires.
APRIL 15, 2009 NEW CD RELEASED!
We are almost finished with our 8th CD of new songs. It’s
called "Honey Moon," and features songs that take place under
bowed branches and deep within winding corn mazes. Lovers kiss in
dripping wet caves and call to each other from trembling mountain
peaks. They sigh on windy drawbridges and weep silver puddles in
the street. It’s a record of love songs, written to celebrate our
20th year of marriage.
COMING SOON AS WELL: New shirts and posters to commemorate
the upcoming record.
DIAMOND PENDULUMS! On the internet I find diamond pendulums
for sale (only $47!) that supposedly can connect you to ‘Universal
Intelligence”. These pendulums have been “reviewed by the leading
trade journal as ‘THE MOST RESPONSIVE PENDULUM’”. I am having
difficulty locating said ‘leading trade journal’, but a
subscription is certainly in order. I shall retire to my
underground, copper-lined laboratory for further investigation
into aformentioned periodical.
May golden leaves fill your Autumn with
Hello again, far-flung friends...
The sparrows are singing in Albuquerque and the contrails linger
in turquoise blue sky. We have just returned from a Caribbean
cruise with The Barenaked Ladies and the curious reader may find
my tour diary below (to be published with revealing photos in Word
Magazine, UK). Other doings about our enchanted fortress...
ALBUQUERQUE, SATURDAY FEBRUARY 23...
The Launchpad with Trilobite and The Grave of Nobody's
UK/EUROPE, JUNE...We're working on some dates in Europe.
Only one confirmed so far:
LEICESTER THE BIG SESSION
CANADA, JULY-24-27...Calgary Folk Festival.
DOG FOOD CAN COLLECTION!
My obsessive hoarding of pet food from around the globe has
finally been given the respect it has long deserved. Those of you
in Louisville can see it on display (as well as one of my
paintings) at The Cressman Gallery:
HANDSOME FAMILY SONGBOOK!
Our book of songs (including melodies, chords, tabs, lyrics)
will be back from the printer next month. I will holler when it is
up for sale on the website.
For the serious collector---we're also working on a limited
edition of the songbook done using traditional letter-press
printing and including original artwork, handmade paper and
binding all by Heidi Atwood. Heidi is also going to print up a
limited edition of sheet music for us. Should be finished by
Our pal Greg Hansen has more great homemade amps for sale on
That’s all for now, friends. Enjoy the high seas adventure
TOUR DIARY... THE HANDSOME FAMILY & BARENAKED LADIES SEA
by Rennie Sparks
My husband and I have a band called The Handsome Family.
Over the years we've played our share of far-flung venues: a
lesbian death metal bar in Oslo, the Sydney Opera House, a Belgian
festival where everyone dressed in medieval garb (tights, pointed
slippers, daggers), a funeral full of sobbing people... But still
even we were surprised to be invited to play Ships And Dip III:
The Barenaked Ladies Cruise.
Our songs are about haunted basements and stray dogs,
shipwrecks and cannibalism. We're not exactly a band from
Margaritaville. We're not even the kind of people who dream of
going on a cruise. Sometimes on a day off in Paris we'll do our
laundry and I have spent a weekend in Rome with the black-out
curtains pulled across my hotel window. But there were a bunch of
other acts already scheduled to play the cruise, all hand-picked
by The Barenaked Ladies - Sarah Harmer, Guster, Jason Plumb,
Gaellic Storm, Oakhurst, Carbon Leaf to name a few - and
we'd only have to play three shows during the five-day cruise.
January is cold where we live in Albuquerque and so, after a few
weeks mulling it over, we packed our sunscreen and flew to Miami.
Two planes, three taxis and a shuttle bus later we boarded the
DAY ONE: The ship is enormous. Eleven stories of maze-like
corridors and almost 2,000 BNL fans running around in Hawaiian
shirts and funny hats. There are people packed into the glass
elevators and lining up at the waterslide and the buffet. There
are bars decorated with sea horses and mermaids, bars that look
like libraries, bars with Greek columns, bars between the slot
machines, bars by the buffet and the mini golf and the health
spa... Where there are no bars there are men in blue shorts
circling with trays of tropical drinks and screaming
Everyone is roaring drunk and whooping wildly as BNL come
out on the Lido Deck and play a welcome-aboard set. I order the
first of many martinis served in a plastic cup. Everything is
plastic on the ship from the chandeliers to the mermaids entwined
between the dining-room tables. The line for the buffet stretches
half the length of the ship and there are long lines at the sushi
cart, the pizza grill, the oriental wok station and the soft-serve
ice cream machine. I order another drink.
The ship's horn blasts as we pull from port and I stumble
from bar to bar, up the spiral staircase and round the
green-carpeted corridors. We bump into Kevin from BNL, as the ship
lurches to and fro. I spot Tyler (their drummer) running towards
an elevator and Ed (their guitarist) pushing through a crowd near
the gelato bar. These guys induce head-turning and nervous giggles
wherever they go on-board and so it seems like they're always
moving (else risk being cornered by crowds of gregarious drunks).
The only place I will see them together is onstage or on the TV in
my stateroom. There's a 24 hour BNL TV channel broadcasted aboard
ship, endlessly looping BNL videos, interviews, and live
performances. Other channels on TV include, inexplicably, the
local news from Denver as well as a video message from the Captain
asking us to wash our hands thoroughly and use Kleenex to open
doors in public areas.
DAY TWO: This morning is the naked photo on the Lido deck.
The Barenaked Ladies live up to their name and pose naked with
their fans. Only those who sign a waiver and get equally unclothed
can participate (and have the option later to buy the photo for
$29.95). Hundreds of eager people stream out into the sunshine
wearing only bathrobes. I briefly consider getting naked in the
interest of this story, but I am uncomfortable enough just being
out in the sunlight on a deck chair surrounded by beautiful blue
water. I am pushed back with the other wanna-be gawkers so that we
can not view the proceedings.
Alas, this is just the first of many activities that I don't
take part in.
I don't sign up for juggling lessons or for the Guitar Hero
contest or the BNL trivia quiz. I don't sign up for yoga or
wine-tasting or parasailing, scuba diving or sail-boating. I've
already spent over a hundred dollars on cocktails as it is. I sit
in the sun and read a book on Ozark folk magic and try not to
think about the fact that the ship is now gliding past Guantánamo
Tonight is our first show in the Black and Red Seas Lounge.
It's a small room but still only about 20 people come. Most of the
audience is made up of tired drunks who are drawn to the empty
seats. Afterwards someone hands me a post-it note that says, "I
love your music." It's amazing how much this little gesture cheers
me up. The other nice surprise is that Kevin plays mandolin and
accordion with us. This, I come to realize, is the norm for The
Barenaked Ladies. BNL perform almost every night but the band
members also make time to perform several times with their own
side projects as well as make guest appearances with the other
bands. After our show I, on the other hand, dump my banjo and head
to the buffet. The most appetizing thing left under the heat lamps
at 1am is a tray of powdered eggs.
DAY THREE: I check in at the merchandise shop where they are
doing a brisk business selling BNL beach towels, DVDs, CDs and
shirts, but nothing sold by The Handsome Family. The ship is
docked at Grand Cayman Island so we get off the boat and wander
away from the stalls selling fake dread locks and Cuban cigars to
find ourselves an empty stretch of beach. The hour I spend
floating in the turquoise waves is actually so wonderful that I
don't mind the next hour I spend waiting on line to get back on
Tonight we play the main stage, the Caribbean Lounge. Ushers
with flashlights are seating people as we play because BNL are
scheduled to play after us. Gradually the room fills and people
start to clap. Turns out we don't have the right wristbands to get
into the BNL's show - sold out naturally - so we take our guitars
down to our stateroom and watch it live on our TV. Afterwards we
watch the Captain run through his hand-washing technique again.
It's snowing hard in Denver.
DAY FOUR: We awake docked in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. I have a
bad feeling as we pass the armed guards and the barbed-wire
security gates on our way into town. The broken sidewalk that
leads down the main street is lined with people. They gather
around us as we approach and everybody wants something. They want
to be my taxi driver, to lead me to secret waterfalls, to sell me
necklaces, to braid my hair, to sell me pot and cigars. These are
desperately poor people. A man leaning against a palm tree holds
his hat out to us and begs for change. He has two wooden legs that
seem to be constructed from pieces of old driftwood and a filthy
crutch under one arm. My husband empties his wallet and we head
back to the ship. Everyone else has paid to be taken away on
shuttle buses to snorkel or jet ski or swim with dolphins. I wish
I'd paid for an outing and didn't know about life in Ocho Rios.
That night we play again in the Black and Red Seas Lounge.
There are more people this time and they clap loudly after each
song. I decide that I don't care if I ever jet-ski or parasail.
All I want is this: to sing songs that make people feel something.
Tonight is pajama night and everyone is walking around in
satiny nightwear and slippers. I, of course, am dressed like a
cross between a vampire and Loretta Lynn. After our show an
enthusiastic fan follows us into the elevator and across the
decks. She is wearing checkered pajamas and huge slippers that
look like fuzzy lion heads and is talking a mile a minute about
how much she liked our show.
"You all are different!" She cries, but when we thank her
some-what hesitantly she insists again, drunkenly. "No, I mean it.
Listen to me! You all are really different!"
We dump our equipment in our stateroom and go see the band
Harvey Danger in the Adriatic Lounge. I stumble in the dark,
trying to find a seat in the crowded bar and realize the strange,
writhing lump on the floor is actually a passed-out drunk who I
have woken by spilling half a martini on his head. Later, out on
the Lido Deck in search of powdered eggs, two women grab me and
try to force me to dance with them.
"Come on," they scream, giggling madly as they gyrate to the
sound of Gaellic Storm. "Let's Party!"
DAY FIVE: I hide in my stateroom most of the day, listening
to revelers running up and down the hallways on this last day of
the cruise, feeling slightly guilty about lying in an
air-conditioned stateroom on an enormous ship plowing needlessly
through the ocean, scattering sea creatures and leaving a trail of
Still, I admit to myself that being in a touring band is
always about planes and buses and, at the very least, a pile of
plastic jewel cases. The ship's entertainment director gets on the
intercom to announce that the health spa is selling seaweed
facials at a reduced price. I decide to get a roll of quarters at
the casino and do laundry. Later at the sit-down dinner while I am
eating my scoop of vanilla ice cream, the wait-staff gathers to
sing the BNL hit, "If I had a $10000000." It's actually pretty
sweet. I wish I could write a song that people gathered to sing in
the dining room of a cruise ship, but I know, given that one of my
greatest passions is collecting news stories about animals
attacking humans, it's doubtful.
DAY SIX: We dock in Miami and trudge down the gangway with
our guitars and our heavy suitcases. Other passengers stop us as
we pass and tell us how much they enjoyed our performances. Our
carry-on bags are full of unsold CDs, but we have made a few new
There is a new blanket of snow covering Albuquerque. I wheel
my suitcases up the icy driveway and think of the smiling drunks
on the ship, all of them now returning to grey skies and office
cubicles. Maybe it isn't such a bad thing to have a week in the
sun with your favorite band. Still, if The Handsome Family ever
organized a gathering like this it would probably be held in a
flaming dirigible or 10,000 leagues under the sea.
You can watch a clip of us playing on the Irish TV show "Other
Also there's a new Irish fan site:
Hello again my faraway friends,
Today we discuss a delightful 17TH CENTURY DINNER PARTY
as well as all news big and small regarding THE HANDSOME
To delight and amaze your guests make the likeness of a
ship from a coarse pastry. Add flags and streamers of marzipan
with such holes and trains of gun powder that they may all
take fire at once. Place your ship on a platter with salt all
about it as if at sea. Upon the next platter have a stag made
from coarse pastry with a long arrow out of the side of him
and his body filled with red wine...
** NEW PAINTING! There's one new Rennie painting up for sale.
Have a look if you're interested:
In the last platter build a castle with battlements,
gates and drawbridges made of pastry and cannons made of
marzipan. Inside fill with gunpowder and also let trains of
gun powder come out over its walls in all directions. Upon the
moat place egg shells filled with rosewater. Place the castle
at a distance to the ship so that each may fire upon the other
with your guests at the dining table in between...
** SEPTEMBER TOUR DATES FOR THE HANDSOME FAMILY:
September 5, ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO:
Free show at Old Town Plaza, 8pm
September 14, 2007, CHAPEL HILL, NC
We're playing a special show sponsored by The Southern
Folk Life Collection at the University of North Carolina,
Chapel Hill. The evening will begin with a lecture by author
Greil Marcus, followed by an hour long performance by The
Handsome Family, followed by a Q&A session with
Greil. FREE: 7pm, Pleasant's Room, 2nd floor in Wilson
Library, UNC-CH, seating for 180 w/o tickets (first come,
6:00pm Greil Marcus lecture
7:00pm Handsome Family performance
8:00pm Q&A session
Sun, Sept 16, ATHENS, OHIO: Casa Cantina
Tue Sep 18 ARLINGTON, VA: Iota
Thu Sep 20 PHILADELPHIA, PA: World Cafe Live, Downstairs
Fri, Sep 21, HOBOKEN, NJ: Maxwell's (early show)
Sat Sep 22, NYC, NY: The Mercury Lounge, 11pm
Sun, Sep 23, BOSTON, MA: The Great Scott
Next to the stag place a pie made of pastry in which
there be live frogs and in another live birds. Make the pies
thusly of a coarse pastry filled with bran. Bake them and
decorate with gold-gilded bay leaves. The pies being baked,
make a hole in the bottom and take out the bran. Put in living
frogs and birds and close up again with pastry...
**OCTOBER, 2007, THE HANDSOME FAMILY IN LONDON:
OCTOBER 24: BBC’s ELECTRIC PROM WITH CHARLIE LOUVIN. We
are so honored to have been invited to sing one or two songs
with our idol.
OCTOBER 28: THE PLAGUE SONGS at BARBICAN HALL:
We shall be recreating the Stephen Merritt contribution
to the original Margate Plague Songs as well as contributing
our own brand new plague song. There will be an amazing array
of musicians playing with us and contributing their own plague
songs to the event. More details to come.
www.barbican.org.uk ---for more information.
**NOVEMBER, 2007, EUROPE: We are working on a few other
dates in the UK as well as hopefully two show in Ireland and
maybe even a few dates in Italy. More info to come as things
After your guests are seated, fire the
trains of powder off the castle so all the pieces of its sides
may go off. Now fire the powder trains about the ship so as to
make a battle. To sweeten the stink of gun powder let the
ladies take the eggshells full of rose water and throw them at
each other. Your guests shall suppose all dangers are over by
this time. Now order some of the ladies to pluck the arrow out
of the stag so that the claret will flow like blood coming
from a wound...
**JANUARY, 2008: WE’RE FINALLY READY FOR THE SHIPS...Never
thought I’d say this, but we’re playing on a cruise. The
Barenaked Ladies have invited us to be one of the musical
guests on their latest ‘Ships and Dips’ Cruise. Details (that
don’t include us yet) are here:
Now let them see what is in the pies. Lift off the lid
of one pie and out come the frogs which makes the ladies skip
and shriek. Next open the other pie which frees the birds who
by instinct shall fly at the light and will put out the
candles. In total darkness with flying birds and skipping
frogs the one above and the other beneath there will be much
delight and pleasure to the company...
Adapted without permission from "Seven Centuries of
English Cooking" by Maxime de La Falaise (thanks to Ara!)
Adieu my friends.
Free the birds from your pies. Blow up your castles.
Follow strange trails into the woods...xo Rennie
A salute to BIRD LOVERS and friends of THE HANDSOME FAMILY...
Can you hear the tap-tap-tapping from the old box elder tree
in the early dawn? ‘Tis the woodpecker hammering with his
mighty beak. He chisels at the tree trunk not only to root out
insects, but also to signal possession of territory to rivals
passing by overhead. Yes, woodpecker hearing is acute. These
birds hear the soft slither of insect larvae tunneling deep
within tree trunks even as they fly far above the cloud
covering among the seraphim. Larvae carve long winding tunnels
within the darkness of dying trees. These tunnels may twist
for miles without ever twisting back upon themselves. Many a
woodsman has lost all reason attempting to trace a single
tunnel with a gloved thumb. Woodpeckers listen carefully and
long before making their first tap...
Once a larvae tunnel is located, the careful woodpecker
hammers the wood until he has made an opening large enough for
his tongue. The tongue of the woodpecker is long and ends in a
razor-sharp barb. The tongue snakes through the larvae tunnels
until it finds its prey. The woodpecker skewers the grub then
draws it at lightning speeds from the trunk. The great
friction of speeding tongue rushing away from the wood will
often cause the tree to appear to burst briefly into flames
(See also ‘Will ‘O the Wisp’). The woodpecker is not harmed
(though the tree may be permanently discolored and its
branches gnarled into a frightening silhouette) and, indeed,
the lucky bird is able to roll his long tongue completely
around his inner skull cavity and down the laces of his rib
cage until it is completely hidden from view. Thusly the
woodpecker retires to his nest for the well-earned escape of
Listen well, friends, and hear the soft tap-tap-tapping... Xo
PS. Some of my favorite woodpeckers...
Puerto Rican Woodpecker
Little Grey Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker
American Three-toed Woodpecker
This evening we discuss the mysterious SALAMANDER as well as
HANDSOME FAMILY tour dates and other ephemera...
It's true that the Salamander superficially resembles
the lizard, but it is easily distinguished by its lack of
scales, its ability to regenerate lost limbs, and its habit of
sleeping inside rapidly burning fires. Species of salamanders
are numerous and found in moist or aqueous habitats in the
northern hemisphere. Most are small but some reach up to 30
feet in length and can often inadvertently knock over
buildings with a swing of the tail.
THE HANDSOME FAMILY IN NEW ZEALAND...
Wednesday 7th February - Wellington - San Francisco Bath
Thursday 8 February Auckland - The Dogs Bollix
Friday 9 February Auckland - The Dogs Bollix
Saturday 10 February Bay of Islands - The Venue at
Tickets on sale nationally at Ticketmaster.co.nz, The
Venues and Real Groovy stores.
THE HANDSOME FAMILY IN AUSTRALIA...
Sun 18th Feb – Zoo, Brisbane
Tues 20th Feb –Basement, Sydney
Wed 21st Feb – Grace Emily, Adelaide
Thurs 22nd Feb – East Brunswick, Melbourne
Fri 23rd Feb – Palais, Melbourne
(tickets for palais show:
Sun 25th Feb – Perth International Arts Festival, Perth
Early travelers to China were shown garments supposedly
woven from salamander wool; the cloth was completely
impervious to fire. Some salamanders hibernate in and under
rotting logs. When wood is brought indoors and put on the
fire, the creatures awaken and stare calmly out from the
flames. Be wary: Salamander fire burns brightly, blindness is
a possibility and/or the urge to dance for days on end to
violin music no one else can hear. Because of this,
salamanders have been unjustly associated with dragons and the
lizards used in standard witches' flying ointment.
MORE HANDSOME FAMILY TOUR DATES
April/May, 2007, EUROPE: No comfirmed dates yet. Most
likely Ireland, Italy, Norway.
August, 2007, OREGON, USA:
We’ll be appearing at the 2007 Pickathon, Aug. 3-4,
2007, Pendarvis Farm, Happy Valley, OR (www.pickathon.com)
September, 2007, EAST COAST, USA: we’ll be playing a
special show sponsored by The Southern Folk Life Collection at
The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The show will
include an hour long performance as well as an hour long
Q&A session with author Greil Marcus. The final date for
the show has not yet been confirmed. Several other east coast
dates are in the works as well.
Examining the patterns and colors of the salamander can
help us discover buried treasure and the faces of unknown
enemies. The salamander hears and responds to low frequency
tones rather then high pitched ones. These tones can help us
gain entry into the underworld. To strengthen one's
sensitivity to such sounds playing the didgeridoo and joining
drumming circles in forest clearings is helpful.
Typical salamanders undergo a larval stage that can last
for a period of a few days to several hundred years. Like
other amphibians the salamander absorbs water through its skin
and needs a moist habitat in which to live. The word amphibian
comes from two words--"amphi" = "double" and "bios" = life.
Amphibians divide their life between land and water. For this
reason, salamanders are often regarded as the keepers of
We will have some new posters on sale on the website
soon (www.handsomefamily.com), handmade by Steve Walters at
Screwball Press. Also, in the works is the Handsome Family
Songbook featuring sheet music, chords, and lyrics for a
collection of our songs.
Alchemists often took advice from salamanders who
visited them in their dreams. Sadly this led to lab explosions
and, in one famous case, the great Alchemist, Johan of Aachen
(only days away from actually turning dog excrement into pure
gold after many years of work) was persuaded by a dream
salamander to not only burn his meticulous notebooks, but also
his treasured green slippers and a silk robe embroidered with
astrological symbols. Needless to say, the great man never
recovered from the setback. He gave up his search for the
legendary lapis and opened up a roadside tavern famous for a
blackbird pie that, when cut open, astounded diners with up to
60 tiny blackbirds flying out of the steaming crust and
singing a melodious song.
Wander the swamps, listen in basements, climb tall
trees. Xo Rennie
On Sep 15, 2006, at 12:26 PM, The Handsome Family wrote:
Yes, we all love the helpful cunning woman (smiling from
the window of her gingerbread house, healing broken bones with
a touch of her gnarled hand, fluent in the language of birds),
but what of the evil-minded witch? As Halloween approaches
we're likely to again encounter her foul ways. Be wary, it’s
not a mere apple filled with razor blades or a broomstick
dancing in the moonlight. Gentle reader, herein learn the
signs of true bedevilment as well as find TOUR DATES and
PAINTINGS from THE HANDSOME FAMILY...
1. cows give sour milk
2.butter spoils too quickly
3.children generally inconsolable
5.stormy weather (hail, wind, rain of frogs and/or
6.poisoned apples (one bite may induce coma)
7.unexplained cackling at crossroads, riversides,
9.vomiting up black roses, sharp pins, wads of dog hair
or the like
10.unexplained pooling of water in family room (often
11.white robed figure gliding silently through forest
12.thousands of yellow birds gathering in nearby trees
13.common household dowsing rod turned to hissing snake
14.razors dulled, knives missing, scissors dancing
15.family cat disappears into crack in wall and/or
offers to help you make invisibility cream using a lock of
your own hair
I STILL HAVE TWO PAINTINGS FOR SALE:
REVEAL THE WYRDING WITCH! Think carefully! Did you
refuse an old woman a piece of sausage at your wedding? Did
you spit into a still pond and disturb a sleeping swan? Did
you see a white hare hop over your grave in a rainstorm? Place
a lock of your hair and/or fresh nail parings in boiling
water. The witch will draw near. Burn witch cakes (made of rye
meal and your own fresh urine) near enchanted well. Witch will
soon arrive riding goat backwards. Bind her with the fingers
of a hanged man dipped in milk and/or a circle of rowan
UNITED KINGDOM (see below for more dates in October)
Wed 20 Sept. LONDON ARTS THEATRE, 6/7 Great Newport
Street, London WC2
£17.50 adv. Doors - 7pm, 0870 0601742
to anyone who’s had trouble purchasing our tickets:
search for "Handsome Family" as they have listed our name
without the 'The')
Sat 23 Sep
DENMARK ARHUS, Voxhaus
Sun 24 Sep
DENMARK COPENGHAGEN, Loppen
Tue 26 Sep
SWEDEN STOCKHOLM, Café Teatern
Wed 27 Sep
SWEDEN GOTHENBURG, Pusterviksen
Thu 28 Sep
NORWAY OSLO, Elm Street
Sat 30 Sep
NORWAY STAVANGER, Cementen
Wed and Thu, 4 and 5, Oct IRELAND
DUBLIN, The Point
THE POINT SHOWS: We’re part of a big line-up of
musicians for The Dublin Theatre Festival’s “Came So Far for
Beauty”--an evening of Leonard Cohen songs. For further info:
http://www.dublintheatrefestival.com. Sorry, we've been asked
by the Dublin Festival not to book any other Irish dates
around the time of these shows. Looks like we’ll be back in
Sat 7 Oct
PONTARDAWE ARTS CENTRE (with The
tickets:01792 - 863722,
Sun 8 Oct
RUNCORN THE BRINDLEY
(with The Burning Leaves), tickets:
0151 907 8360
Mon 9 Oct
tickets: 01142 789 789
Tue 10 Oct
BIRMINGHAM GLEE CLUB
tickets: 0870 241 5093 www.glee.co.uk
Thu 12 Oct
tickets: 08700 600 100
Fri 13 Oct
tickets: 01786 27 4000
Sat 14 Oct
FORT WILLIAM LIME
Sun 15 Oct
ABERDEEN LEMON TREE
tickets: 01224 642 230
OCT 21, Los Poblanos Organics Farm Harvest Festival.
We’re still in the planning stages, but this is a
daytime event and you can find out the details here:
NOVEMBER, 2006, West Coast USA
We’re doing a six-show tour of the west coast as support
for the legendary band Wall of Voodoo. Also adding a few shows
of our own (possibly with The Darling Downs) before and after.
More details to come. So far...
Nov 27 '06 (8:00 PM), Solana Beach, CA, Belly Up Tavern
with Wall Of Voodoo
Nov 29 '06 (8:30 PM), House of Blues Los Angeles with
Wall Of Voodoo
Nov 30 '06 (9:00 PM), House of Blues Anaheim, CA with
Wall Of Voodoo
Dec 2 '06 (9:00 PM), San Francisco, CA, Slim's with Wall
Seattle and Portland dates TBA, with Wall of Voodoo.
Also solo dates in Tucson, Pioneertown, and possibly
Vancouver, Denver, Salt Lake City.
We’ll definitely be in both places in February, 2007. So
far only confirmed event is the Perth Festival.
"Let girls do the spelling, I'll do the shooting"
AWAKE SLEEPWALKERS! Revolution is upon us! The ANIMAL
KINGDOM begins organized attacks against MANKIND! Read on and
be forewarned (as well as learn of the latest doings from THE
N.M. Power Outage Blamed on Snake, Bird
From Associated Press
July 13, 2006 7:00 AM EDT
(thanks to Luke B. for sending this to me)
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - A power outage that blacked out about
2,000 customers in
Las Cruces is being blamed on the combination of a snake
and a bird.
The customers lost their electricity Tuesday after a
bird dropped a bull
snake on a power line, shorting out the line, El Paso
spokeswoman Teresa Souza said.
"I know that's weird. ... I've never heard anything like
that and I've been
working here for 10 years," Souza said.
She said she did not know how large the snake was, and
she would not
speculate on what type of bird dropped it.
Power was restored in less than an hour.
August 23, 8-9pm, mellow, acoustic show with just Brett
and Rennie at the Old Town Plaza Gazebo. FREE!
Wed 20 Sept. LONDON ARTS
THEATRE–(**THIS DATE IS STILL TO BE CONFIRMED**)
Ticket: 0870 0601742
Sat 23 Sep
DENMARK ARHUS, Voxhaus
Sun 24 Sep
DENMARK COPENGHAGEN, Loppen
Tue 26 Sep
SWEDEN STOCKHOLM, Café Teatern
Wed 27 Sep
SWEDEN GOTHENBURG, Pusterviksen
Thu 28 Sep
NORWAY OSLO, Elm Street
Sat 30 Sep
NORWAY STAVANGER, Cementen
Wed 4 Oct
IRELAND DUBLIN, The Point
Thu 5 Oct
IRELAND DUBLIN, The Point
THE POINT SHOWS: We’re part of a big line-up of
musicians for The Dublin Theatre Festival’s “Came So Far for
Beauty”--an evening of Leonard Cohen songs. For further info:
http://www.dublintheatrefestival.com. Sorry, we've been asked
by the Dublin Festival not to book any other Irish dates
around the time of these shows. Looks like we’ll be back in
Sat 7 Oct
PONTARDAWE ARTS CENTRE (with The
Sun 8 Oct
RUNCORN THE BRINDLEY
ARTS CENTRE (with The Burning Leaves)
tickets: 0151 907 8360
Mon 9 Oct
tickets: 01142 789 789
Tue 10 Oct
BIRMINGHAM GLEE CLUB
tickets: 0870 241 5093 www.glee.co.uk
Thu 12 Oct
tickets: 08700 600 100
Fri 13 Oct
tickets: 01786 27 4000
Sat 14 Oct
FORT WILLIAM LIME TREE
Sun 15 Oct
ABERDEEN LEMON TREE
tickets: 01224 642 230
NOVEMBER, 2006, West Coast USA...
We’re doing a six-show tour of the west coast as support
for the legendary band Wall of Voodoo. Also adding a few shows
of our own (possibly with The Darling Downs) before and after.
More details to come.
Wall of Voodoo shows (sorry no venues yet):
11/27 - San Diego
11/29 - LA
11/30 - Anaheim
12/2 - San Francisco
12/4 - Portland
12/5 - Seattle (still pending).
Still planning our trip to Australia and New Zealand
LADIES’ SHIRT: We have a new spaghetti strap ladies’
shirt. Have a peek at:
PAINTINGS: I have two new paintings up for sale!
THE REVOLUTION CONTINUES
Squirrels have bitten to death a stray dog which was
barking at them in a Russian park, local media report.
(thanks to Eric J. for sending this)
Passers-by were too late to stop the attack by the black
squirrels in a village in the far east, which reportedly
lasted about a minute. They are said to have scampered off at
the sight of humans, some carrying pieces of flesh. A pine
cone shortage may have led the squirrels to seek other food
sources, although scientists are skeptical. The attack was
reported in parkland in the centre of Lazo, a village in the
Maritime Territory, and was witnessed by three local people.
A "big" stray dog was nosing about the trees and barking
at squirrels hiding in branches overhead when a number of them
suddenly descended and attacked, reports say.
"When they saw the men, they scattered in different
directions, taking pieces of their kill away with them."
Mikhail Tiyunov, a scientist in the region, said it was
the first he had ever heard of such an attack. While squirrels
without sources of protein might attack birds' nests, he said,
the idea of them chewing a dog to death was "absurd".
Garden of Green Delights and A New CD...
The Greeks adorned their tombs with parsley wreaths for the
plant was said to have sprung from the blood of the baby,
Archemorus (literally, “forerunner of death”) who, left
alone on a riverbank by his nursemaid, was dragged into the
water by a dragon and devoured. There is an old superstition
against transplanting parsley. The herb is dedicated to
Persephone and to Charon, the winged demon who floats his
ferry across the river Styx, giving passage to the dead if
they bear a coin upon their tongue. Those who cannot afford
his fee are doomed to wander the banks of the Styx forever.
Each time a parsley plant be picked another penniless soul
begins its aimless walk...
OUR NEW CD: “Last Days of Wonder” is available now! You can
order it from us and read some reviews at
www.handsomefamily.com or support your local indie record
shop and buy it there. In brief, the new CD is a collection
of love songs sung in airports, garbage dumps, drive-thru
windows and shark-infested waters. The CD is about little
miraculous moments in everyday life: a golf course shining
in the rain, hanging lights bouncing in the breeze, pigeons
singing from billboards...We hope you like it.
Parsley is often called, "The Devil's Oatmeal," but all
those who discover why this name be used are found dead soon
thereafter. Turner says, 'if parsley is thrown into
fishponds it will heal the sick fishes therein.' The
plain-leaved parsley bears a close resemblance to Fool's
Parsley, a noxious weed infesting gardens and fields. Fool’s
Parsley is also called Aethusa, derived from the Arab word
'ai' which means burning. Aethusa is said to soothe high
fevers when such fevers are accompanied by raving,
sleepiness, clenched thumbs, a great love for animals and an
undying terror of darkness.
TOUR DATES...In celebration of our new CD we head off in a
rented van again...
JUNE 24, ALBUQUERQUE, NM, The Launchpad with Fast Heart Mart
and The Rivet Gang. We’ll have a five-piece band at this
TOUR DATES: USA, CANADA, JULY, 2006
with meat puppet Curt Kirkwood
(http://www.curtkirkwood.com/). We’ll be a four-piece band
for this tour with special guests, Stephen Dorocke (playing
lap steel, violin and mandolin) and Jason Toth on drums.
7/10 - Minneapolis at the 400 Bar
7/11 - Milwaukee at Shank Hall
7/13 - Chicago at Abbey Pub
7/14 - Detroit at Magic Stick
7/15 - Toronto at the Horseshoe Tavern
7/18 - Boston at TT the Bears
7/20 - NYC at the Mercury Lounge
7/21 - Philadelphia at the World Café Live
7/22 - Arlington at the Iota
7/23 - Charlottesville at the Starr Hill Music Hall
7/24 - Carrboro at Local 506
7/26 - Atlanta at the Earl
ROUGH PLANS...More details soon...
EUROPE, SEPTEMBER and OCTOBER, 2006
Denmark, Sweden, Norway, United Kingdom
USA, NOVEMBER, 2006
We’ll be heading to the west coast of the USA in November.
Details to come.
AUSTRALIA, FEBRUARY, 2007
SPRING, 2007: Spain, Ireland
Of our Garden Parsley (which he calls Parsele) Gerard says,
'It is delightful to the taste and agreeable to the
stomache,' also 'the roots or seeds boiled in ale and drank,
cast foorth strong venome or poyson.' Parsley may be fatal
to small birds and a deadly poison to parrots, also very
injurious to fowls, but hares and rabbits will come from a
great distance to seek it. Sheep are also fond of it, and it
is said to preserve them from foot rot, provided it be given
in sufficient quantities. The uses of Parsley are many and
are by no means restricted to the culinary sphere. The most
familiar employment of the leaves in their fresh state is,
of course, finely-chopped, as a flavoring to sauces, soups,
stuffings, rissoles, minces, etc. The leaves are also dried
and powdered as a flavoring.
MORE BITS AT YE OLDE MERCHANDISE SHOPPE...Besides the new cd
we also have two new POSTERS for sale and our friend Greg
Hansen has a whole batch of new AMPS for sale. To look at
the new posters and/or the new amps go to:
www.handsomefamily.com then click on ‘merchandise’. I shall
have three new PAINTINGS to sell very soon (as soon as I
finish framing them) so e-mail me if you want to be notified
when they go up for sale (only if you haven’t e-mailed me
already about paintings).
Medicinally, the two-year-old roots are employed, also the
leaves, dried, for making Parsley Tea (often given to
soldiers in the trenches suffering from dysentery). From the
seeds may be extracted an oil called Apiol, which is of
considerable curative value. It exercises a singular
influence on the great nerve centres of the head and spine,
and in large doses produces giddiness and deafness, fall of
blood-pressure, slowing of the pulse and paralysis.
Parsley is chiefly used for its diuretic properties, a
strong decoction of the root being of great service in
passing kidney stones, as well as easing dropsy and
jaundice. A decoction of bruised Parsley seeds was at one
time employed against plague and often woven into flowered
or feathered masks worn by wealthy merchants attending
society balls in the late 1400’s. In France, a popular
remedy for scrofulous swellings is green Parsley and snails,
pounded in a mortar to an ointment, spread on linen and
applied daily. Galen, “commendeth it for the falling
sicknes.... The juice dropped into the ears with a little
wine easeth all pain and brings a great forgetfulness of
spirit in which even one’s own hands look unfamiliar.” Water
of Parsley is given to children troubled with vapors. Not to
be confused with Hungary Water, Rose Water, Monkey’s Paw
Drops and/or The Wine of Infinite Sorrows.
From the salad bar of darkness I bid you adieu. Xo Rennie
Hello again my mysterious friend,
Herein find The Dance of the Bubbles as well as the latest News and
Tour Dates for THE HANDSOME FAMILY. Be bold, gentle reader and
A Graceful Ballet across the ethers of time and space...
You'll need a dry, cool day for this experiment and little white
leaves must be falling from a westward wind. Are dogs howling? Act
quickly, friend. First, add a little sugar to a bowl of soapy water
and blow some bubbles into it with a straw, a glass tube or a carved
ebony pipe. This bubble mixture will make jumbo-sized bubbles which
are much less delicate than normal bubbles. Don't be frightened of
these gigantic bubbles. Nature’s ways are mysterious but she is a
benevolent host (save for a few bad apples and the carnivores and
the vicious food chain above and below the sea).
TOUR DATES: NEW MEXICO: APRIL AND JUNE, 2006
APRIL 29--SANTA FE at Club Alegria (Lower Agua Fria Rd. just east of
Siler Rd) 8pm opening for Son Volt. Tickets: 988-1234.
JUNE 24—ALBUQUERQUE at The Launch Pad with Fast Heart Mart and The
Friend, let your bubbles rise into the air. Catch them upon a soft,
dry wool or flannel cloth carefully embroidered with Mayan
pictographs of air and fire. Now let these soap windows rest and
harden as you prepare to look into the future. What would you like
to see? The fate of the rainforests? Your own death? The moment our
sun explodes? The day that aliens return to reseed our planet with
microbes? Caution: do not attempt to see or hear the piercing note
of Shiva's bell that simultaneously destroys and recreates the
universe. Serious skin inflammation and permanent hearing loss may
A NEW RECORD! At last we have a new record to be released in the UK
in late May and the rest of the world in early June. The record’s
called, “Last Days of Wonder” and we’ll be touring a lot to support
it. Here’s a mini-site devoted to the record (artfully put together
by our UK label, Loose): http://www.lastdaysofwonder.info/
UNITED KINGDOM TOUR DATES: MAY and JUNE, 2006
Fri 12 May - BIRKENHEAD PACIFIC ROAD ARTS CENTRE 0151 647 0752
Sat 13 May - MORECAMBE THE PLATFORM 01524 582803
Sun 14 May - SALFORD THE LOWRY (with ADEM) 0870 7875796
Mon 15 May –EDINBURGH - THE CABARET VOLTAIRE: (0131) 220 6176, 36
Blair Street, Edinburgh
Fri 19 May- EXETER PHOENIX ARTS CENTRE: 01392 667080
Sat 20 May - BRIGHTON DOME (support for HOWE GELB+VOICES OF PRAISE
GOSPEL CHOIR) www.brighton-dome.org.uk
Sun 21 May -DERBY GUILDHALL THEATRE 01332 255 800
Tue 23 May - LEICESTER MUSICIAN 0116 255 4854
Wed 24 May - WOLVERHAMPTON LITTLE CIVIC 01902
Thu 25 May - LONDON SCALA 08700 600 100
Sat 27 May - YORK N.C.E.M CENTRE - YORK FESTIVAL 01904
Sun 28 May - FARNDALE, YORKS THE BAND ROOM 01751 432900
Mon 29 May - NEWCASTLE EVOLUTION FESTIVAL free event
Wed 31 May - READING SOUTH ST. 0118 960 6060
Thu 1 Jun BRISTOL - ST GEORGES 0845 402 4001
Fri 2 Jun - BRIDGWATER ARTS CENTRE 01278 422700
Sat 3 Jun - CHELTENHAM WYCHWOOD FESTIVAL 012242 227979
I digress. What you wish to see inside your time bubble is your own
concern. Me, I'm going to ask to see the day that the squirrels rise
up and force us all to pile hazelnuts until we drop from exhaustion.
Vive la revolution!
TOUR DATES: USA, CANADA, JULY, 2006
with meat puppet Curt Kirkwood (http://www.curtkirkwood.com/)
Nothing’s confirmed yet, but here’s a rough idea...
Denver, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit,
Toronto, Montreal, Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, Washington D.C.,
Charlottesville, Carrboro, Atlanta....More details to come
To continue... Find a wool glove left upon a mossy gravestone and
slide it gently onto your shapely fingers. Now hold a piece of thick
paper in front of a fire or a radiator until it is quite dry. Rub
briskly with a stiff brush to give it a charge of static
electricity. Hold this electric paper over the largest of your
bubbles. Lo! Watch as your bubble turns from ball to egg as it
stretches upwards to reach out to the dry paper! On this perfect
cold, dry day the paper will attract the bubble strongly. Yes,
friend, inside this window the future is revealed!
TOUR DATES: EUROPE, SEPTEMBER and OCTOBER, 2006
We’re working on some dates in other parts of Europe for the Autumn:
Scandinavia, Holland, etc. Also, we’ll be performing in Dublin as
part of “Came So Far For Beauty” a tribute to Leonard Cohen at
The Point (October 4 and 5). It’s a show sponsored by the Dublin
International Theatre Festival. More details to come.
Careful! Hold the bubble balanced between the wool cloth and the dry
paper for twelve hours (preferably during waning moon) repeating the
words, "Reveal, Lucifer, Lord of Light!" until at the corners of
your vision you begin to see shadows dancing and hear the crackle of
a large brush fire.
TOUR DATES: NOVEMBER, USA, 2006
We’ll be heading to the west coast in November. Details to come.
Stare into your bubble and be not afraid! Time is not linear. All of
this is dream even your fear of dreaming! See your heart’s desire
and your worst fears revealed. Are they not one and the same beast?
Pass through this bardo to tranquility. In rare cases catatonic
stupor, strong smell of burning hair, triangular skin scarring,
pronounced limp and/or permanent loss of equilibrium have been
reported, but most side effects are not serious. Consult your
physician or seek out a good violinist if you develop the urge to
dance the tarantella for four hours or more.
Note well: IRISH TOUR DATES...
We may not be allowed by the Festival to do any other shows in
Ireland while we’re there for the Leonard Cohen tribute show, but
we’ll definitely be back for something big in mid to late January.
I’ve been doing a lot of pet portraits lately. Have a look if you’re
There’s also a page that tells all you ever need to know about
purchasing paintings from me (commissioned or otherwise):
Fear not the future. It’s already come and passed..xo Rennie
PS. For those stuck in a cubicle with naught else to do but surf
this virtual world. I just edited a collection of
anonymously-submitted love letters:
With great pride we announce that Christy Moore's new cd
entitled, "Burning Times" contains two gorgeously covered
Handsome Family songs. Thank you Christy!
The time is nigh...
"For A Decade of Sin: 11 Years of Bloodshot Records" will
be released on
October 25th including a new recording from the Handsome
GENTLE READER, may this letter find you hale with good
appetite. Find below many healthful tonics for fevers of
the brain, bone, and blood as well as the latest doings of
THE HANDSOME FAMILY...
Oct. 6-- We'll be guests on KUNM in Albuquerque with host
Cynthia Hernandez at 3pm (mountain time) If you have
nothing better to do you can listen in from out of town
For the cleaning of teeth: cut thrice the saplings of oak
under the fullest moon. Dry them in the shadow of a black
mare. Pulverize oyster shells and the bones of several
hanged men. Add fresh conserve of roses. Apply such paste
morning and night with said oak sapling. Never a brighter
October 8 we re playing at the El Rey Theatre in
Albuquerque -- doors at 7pm, we're on stage around 10pm.
$10 admission. Proceeds go to Breast Cancer Research (UNM
Cancer Research/Treatment Center and PLTC-People Living
To relieve the ache of body or mind: turpentine that
issueth from the cones of the Larch Tree is singularly
good to relieve all pain when mixed with powder of sage
and left in the forest to be sung to by sparrows for at
least three nights.
We re hard at work on a new record. Hopefully we ll have
it done by year s end and released early 2006.
Vapours and hysteric fits: None may say they have not felt
the thumping heart, the croaking gut, the fearsome urge to
walk into still lakes with pockets full of stones! A great
heaviness and dejection of spirit and a general gathering
of bile that no amount of blood-letting may quench.
Cleanse stomach by taking two pills of iron with a
warm glass of milk. Once the iron pills pass out of body
again, you shall know peace untold and a firmness of
vision that shall make the very mountains kneel before
your iron will.
Paintings: I should have several new paintings for sale in
about a month. I'll send out another e-mail when they're
up on the website.
Sinus pain: weare a wilde catts skin on ye places grieved
Myspace.com c woe unto those of you poor souls addicted to
this game as am I. Let s be friends. I am now checking my
page at a rate of 25-30 times per hour.
To make hair grow: two ounces of the ashes of burnt bees,
one drachm of a drunkard's tears, make an ointment of
these and the day before the full moon shave the place and
anoint. Thy hair shall grow like mountain rivers to fill
the very streets with your golden curls.
February in Chicagot what nicer time to visit the fair
winds of the midwest? We re waiting for confirmation of a
show to celebrate the DVD release of The Search for the
When crooked and lame: lie upon bear skins newly flead off
and with some of such skins laid upon one now spend the
night in such a sweat! Anouinting with boars grease will
harden one to the cold and is good upon the temples when
the voices of the dead are heard too loudly and often.
Enjoy the fall colors, friends. Xo Rennie
Inflammation of the throat: a swallow's nest stamped down
and applied to the throat outwardly will allay such
suffering and give one such a voice that all manner of
birds shall gather upon thy form as you walk upon the
LATEST NEWS and SPIRIT BOTTLES...
PAINTINGS - Ever wonder what I see when I close my eyes?
My first public display of paintings is up on our website
now. Yes, they are for sale.
JESUS! - Look for the release of "Searching for the
Wrong-Eyed Jesus" in select U.S. theatres this July as
well as on DVD in October and on the Sundance Channel by
late 2005/early 2006. Lots of great musicians appear in
this film plus you can see us performing on a house boat
whilst trying not to get electrocuted. For more
NEW SONGStWe're finally starting to work on a new record.
Also finishing that fence in the back yard. That should
keep the stray dogs out.
Ah, the balmy nights of summer when the spirits of the
dead pass freely into our world. Why not take some time to
protect doors and windows from the undead and/or ancestral
It's so easy to make a room ghost-free and keep it that
way! First hang ghost mirrors at all entranceways. Take
one large mirror and shatter into several small pieces
with the back of your hand. These slivers of light also
work well to ripen beefsteak tomatoes. Paint doors and
window sills a bright blue. Draw large, all-seeing eye on
headboard with black marker. Dried henbane and/or goat
toenails should be hung on all appropriate door knobs.
Now that your bedroom is no longer a portal to astral
dimensions it s time to tidy up the yard. A bottle tree is
the easiest most cost-efficient method of clearing the
cries of the undead from around the patio area. A thrift
store plastic Christmas tree works well for this (silver
or white are best). Alternatively, you may take an
ordinary tree in your yard, strip it of all leaves and
paint it white (or blood-red when seasonal). Hang empty
bottles on all limbs of tree. Blue bottles work best
though other colors may work especially if they are
bright. Remember, to the dead our world looks as drab as a
dirty reel of black and white film. They're not going to
see your old brown beer bottles no matter how many you
hang from your bottle tree or how loudly you scream, "Be
gone!" and throw lit matches around the yard.
Try to avoid looking inside the bottles on your tree no
matter how tempted you are to take a peek at what kinds of
primordial devas you've captured. Remember, glass
(especially blue glass) reflects light within itself
infinitely so that spirits may wander within one small
bottle for all eternity. Severe eye strain may result from
looking inside spirit bottles and lead to delusions of
grandeur, drowning, flying, falling and/or unexplained
Additionally, do not be tempted to fill spirit bottles
with water and drink (or use to serve iced tea to guests).
Unpleasant side effects may include possession, speaking
in tongues, visions of fire, visions of ice, unwanted
levitations, discovery of secret passageways, embarrassing
somnambulism, solicitation at crossroads by demons.
Oh, what a restful sleep may overtake you once you no
longer fear being lured into the underworld by devouring
sirens. Most people find they begin to look 30-40 years
younger after only a few weeks demon-free. This could be
your summer to turn heads!
Dear Diary, I have made every sensible attempt to contact
you via bus station telephone as well as encrypted e-mails
masquerading as appeals from the Nigerian government. I
feel I have no recourse but to write you directly and
Alas, we must start from the beginning-- several days ago
I dropped a raw egg into a jar of water and studied the
patterns as the yolk slowly drifted apart. I was much
alarmed by what I saw.
I examined my dental records, a recent MRI, and a
childhood colonoscopy, but found conflicting messages
within the hazy images. I threw chicken bones from a
burlap bag. I swung a hatchet down into the kitchen table
and took careful note of the pattern of quivering in the
handle. I looked at the swirls of hair left by my cat upon
the bedspread. It was simply not possible that all this
hair had come from my cat!
I approached a young girl on the street and asked her to
hold my key chain dangling between her first finger and
thumb. Her slender fingers trembled and the keys slowly
began to swing in a wide counter clockwise circle. I made
a dowsing rod from a coat hanger and carefully marked
where the rod began to point downward as I slowly walked
about my neighbor s yard in the wee hours before dawn. I
drew the alphabet in the dirt behind the grade school and
spun round until I fell over onto one of the letters.
There was much blood.
I walked into the local police department and demanded to
be handcuffed. I set my shirt afire. I opened the
telephone book at random. I called strangers and asked
them to guess what was in my mouth. I took a jar full of
beetles down to the cemetery and observed how they
gravitated towards the graves of murder victims. I
examined the bubbles left by drunks urinating in my flower
pots. For the love of all nameless gods, I beg you to
cease and desist. Your ever-faithful servant...
DEAR FARAWAY FRIEND of the thing we call, The Handsome
Family.” I must speak to you of two matters of vital
importance. Please find herein announced:
I can no longer see my hands.
Upcoming tour dates.
I AWOKE to find myself buried up to my neck in the
neighborhood sandbox. That evening I crept down the stairs
in my pink nightgown. On the sixth step I found a small
bundle of dried roses. I brought them to my nose and
smelled a dark, sulfuric smell-- terrifying yet utterly
FEBRUARY, 2005-- Folk songs, Occult messages....
We're going to be doing 3 concerts featuring songs from
Harry Smith s Anthology of American Folk Music. Harry
Smith was an alchemist, a collector of found paper
airplanes, a recorder of dying breaths, a numerologist,
and a penniless drunk. He also is the dark lord who
compiled our book of spells. Please join us to pay tribute
to his majesty.
FEB. 22, 8pm SHARP at The Hideout, Chicago, IL
FEB. 26, 8pm The Paradiso, Amsterdam, Holland.
Here's the entire schedule for that night:
Roel Bentz van den Berg (big hall, introduction): 20.00 c
The Handsome Family (big hall): 20.20 c 21.00
Rani Singh (small hall, multi-media presentation):
Meindert Talma & the Negroes (big hall): 21.40-22.20
Born Heller (small hall): 22.20-23.00
David Eugene Edwards (big hall): 23.00-23.40
Feb. 28, HANDELSBEURS - FOYER, KOUTER 29, GENT, BELGIUM--
We ll probably play some of our own songs on this night.
Further info. at: www.handelsbeurs.be or 0032/(0) 9 265 91
I AWOKE to find myself standing on the roof of our house.
Plates and glasses flew off the breakfast table.
Unexplained fires flared up in the family room. I no
longer ventured into the basement. Out of the corner of my
eye I saw the shadow of a man in a trench coat running
down the hallway towards the guest bathroom. I saw him
againt-a shadow sitting up briefly in the backseat of my
car as I drove to my volunteer work at the hospital. His
name was Mr. Nobody. I saw it written in my rearview
mirror when it suddenly fogged up as I drove past the sea.
APRIL, 2005: "The Future of Folk Music"
April 22, High Noon, Madison, Wisconsin. A show sponsored
by the UW Center for Humanities.
I AWOKE to find a small glass bowl placed over my mouth
and nose. Mr. Nobody was trying to steal my breath. He
began to take a more solid form. I felt fingers circling
my throat as I sat and watched my afternoon TV shows. I
saw a fleeting figure run towards the basement door after
the sewing machine pinned me to the floor.
Somehow, the more he took from me, the better I felt. I
could control a swarm of ants simply by waving my hands
before them. Plants in our garden began to grow away from
my bedroom window as if frightened by the powerful light
emanating from me as I slept. Sometimes my body
temperature rose to almost unendurable heat and blood
trickled from my fingertips. I had uncontrollable fits of
laughter that lasted for hours and left me weak and
July 8 and 9-- Winnipeg Folk Festival, Winnipeg, Canada.
We ll be doing a concert and a few workshops.
Also in Julytwe may have some shows in Europe. More
information in coming days.
I AWOKE and found that my hands had become grey, almost
colorless. When I held them up to the light of the window
I was momentarily shocked to find that I could see right
through my hands to the sky. I could hear Mr. Nobody
downstairs laughing and joking with someone else-- a voice
I didn't recognize, gruff like an animal trying to imitate
human speech. I listened to the laughter and the clank of
coffee cups and the bell of the toaster dinging as new,
soft-brown toast rose up from the burning orange coils. I
climbed out my window and into the air.
A huge THANKS to everyone in AUSTRALIA and NEW ZEALAND who
made our recent trip down under such a wonderful
experience. Xo Rennie
IRELAND-- Other Voices” TV show airs our performance on Oct.
8 on RTE at 11:45pm.
USA--OCTOBER 23: RELEASE OF "THE ROSE AND THE BRIAR: DEATH,
LOVE & LIBERTY IN THE AMERICAN BALLAD," edited by SEAN
WILENTZ AND GREIL MARCUS, PUBLISHED BY W. W. NORTON-- A
collection of essays (including one about the song "Pretty
Polly" by Rennie Sparks of The Handsome Family), short
stories, a comic strip, and art project on American ballads
traditional and modern, from "Babara Allen" to "Nebraska."
Also to be released at the same time is a companion CD, "The
Rose & the Briar" (Sony) featuring "Blackwatertown," a
new ballad with lyrics by Paul Muldoon (winner of 2003
Pulitizer Prize for poetry) with music by The Handsome
CURRENT DELUSIONS...Sleep studies at THE HANDSOME FAMILY
Laboratory are progressing smoothly thanks to generous
anonymous donations and several death threats. In the last
month I have awoken only once to briefly check the smoke
detectors in the guest bathroom. They had been tampered
with, just as I suspected... In any case, we are pleased to
bring you several tips on slipping below the dream waters,
and an unfortunate display of TOUR DATES as follows:
A small blue bead wound into hair at nape of neck (may also
ward off witches) inspires delightful dreams of dancing
snakes in pure white tubs of milk.
Horse skulls hung in a tree outside bedroom window may
attract dogs and induce sleepwalking, but also offer several
hours of dreamless sleep. Works best in a rainstorm and/or
near an airport.
A dirty plate held over the face for two to three hours can
bring a floating, oceanic feeling as well as long,
untroubled sleep. Some screams upon awaking are perfectly
One pound old bacon, cut small, roasted well, add handful of
fish worms, one gill oats, three spoonfuls salt. Roast until
black then strain through towel, add brandy, vinegar, boy s
urine. Rub on leg crosswise on the third, sixth and ninth
day after new moon. Foolproof! Also helpful in cases of
dropsy, neuralgia, distemper, ague, croup, and lazy eye as
well as scarlet fever, yellow fever, brain fever, blood
fever and snow blindness.
Forty seven peach stones eaten every morning for three weeks
or until symptoms disappear.
Walk directly north out of the front window of your house.
Pick up the first white rock you see. Walk backwards with
rock towards home. Use care in crossing intersections. Put
rock under pillow. SPEAK OF THIS TO NO ONE! Repeat as
Sprinkle salt in someone else s shoes and/or place glass of
water on head. Wait for boil.
Sweet dreams, friends. I must return to the lab. I hear
Fair Tidings of MYSTERIOUS SHOES...
Over the years I have spotted many
single shoes lying on the side
of the road as well as pairs of
shoes thrown up over telephone lines. Only
yesterday I spotted a single man's
beach sandal (a flip-flop” in
common parlance) lying in a puddle
by the dog park.
Once I came back from a laundromat
and found a child's plastic
rain boot tangled in with my clean
Last fall someone placed a pair of
black men's sneakers on the back fence of my yard. They were
perched neatly up there as if someone planned to come back
for them, however several months went by and the sneakers
remained there untouched.
I kept a careful watch on the shoes
from my bedroom window. Sometimes I held a newspaper in my
hands so that it would appear that I was reading. Finally,
one afternoon, I made my way across the weeds. Inside the
right shoe a black widow spider had spun a small web.
I could see the spider in there
curled up under the tongue of the shoe,waiting. Inside the
other shoe there was a cigarette lighter with a picture of a
small dog wearing a Santa Claus hat. The lighter did not
I became overwhelmed with the
sensation of danger and carefully retraced my steps across
the yard. I stood in my back doorway and pretended to talk
on the phone. In a loud voice I said things like, "No, I m
sorry, but I can t hold!"
I tossed and turned all night. I do
not remember falling asleep, but opening my eyes I
discovered that it was well past noon. I remembered a
strange dream. An old woman sat on my chest and slapped my
face with a pair of white ballet slippers.
I tried to read a book--a romance
in which a young country girl rides a wild horse into the
sea. I was distracted by the ticking of my wristwatch.
I dressed and went outside. I walked in exaggerated
movements across the yard, swinging my arms and legs
like a marionette and turning my head from side to
side in a mechanical fashion. The sneakers were gone from
the back fence.
I crouched down behind a small
thorn bush and waited. Several hours passed. Darkness had
fallen so completely that I could not see my own hands
flapping in front of my face. The insects around me grew
silent each time I moved. I felt insulted. At dawn I looked
down at my hands and did not recognize them. I was wearing
several turquoise rings that I found garish, but could not
I climbed over the fence and ran
down the alley. The streets were empty. I was wearing a pair
of black, patent leather loafers that were several sizes too
small. My heels hung over the backs, scraping painfully
along the ground. I took off the left loafer and placed it
carefully underneath a half-eaten stick of beef jerky near
my neighbor's mailbox. I threw the right loafer into the
public swimming pool. When I returned to my yard, my entire
back fence had been removed.
--Look for us in "Searching for the
Wrong-Eyed Jesus" an independent film about American music
featuring also Jim White, Johnny Dowd, Sixteen Horsepower,
Melissa Swingle among others. Further info:
---Look for our tour diary in Magnet Magazine
(#63, May/June 2004)
This dank and barnacled letter washes up from
the depths of the Handsome Family deep sea laboratory where no
light has shone for many hundreds of years and is now only a
tale told to scare children.
HEREIN FIND- the OCTOPUS (8-armed trickster),
HANDSOME FAMILY NEWS (new tee shirt), and a salute to XERXES
(who ordered his men to whip the sea).
Octopus blood is pale blue and is pumped by three
hearts. There is evidence that the octopus thinks not only with
its small brain, but with clusters of nerves found in each arm,
thus we find a creature far more intelligent than once supposed.
These crafty invertebrates dig clams, slither into fish holds
and have the nerve to swipe salmon from the talons of bald
eagles. The octopus may also wave its arms in rhythmic patterns
that attract and immobilize fish. Fishermen off the coast of
Washington report seeing hundreds of small fish frozen in the
water as if hypnotized by a passing giant Pacific octopus. One
fisherman said, "I felt it myself. They had to tie me to the
mast to keep me from throwing myself overboard."
The octopus can travel by crawling or by "jet
propulsion"-- forcing water rapidly out of the head-like mantle
through a tube known as the siphon. Octopus, like squid, can
squirt ink when startled or upset. The small red octopus likes
to live in beer bottles. The Atlantic green octopus prefers
Octopuses in captivity will invert their bodies,
exposing their suckers upwards- much like a human panhandler-
when they want food. If it isn't delivered, they'll swim back
and forth in their tanks, turning red. Octopuses change their
color seemingly to reflect their mood: usually red indicates
'anger' and white denotes 'fear.' There are exceptions. For
example, the beautiful brown and white coloration of Octopus
Horridus is believed to mimic the faint patterns of starlight
reflected on the ocean's floor.
Captive octopus sometimes hold their breath,
crawl out of their tank and go after the fish in other tanks.
Some captive octopuses lie in ambush and spit in their keepers'
faces. Others dismantle pumps and block drains, causing costly
floods. A woman who kept an octopus named Crazy Arms in a small
tank in her living room awoke one evening to find her beloved
pet gone. She followed a faint wet trail that led out of her
apartment and several miles across dark streets, but finally
lost the trail at sunrise. "Sometimes I see him in my dreams,"
the woman told interviewers. "He's flying through the air, high
up in the clouds. He looks happy."
Have you visited our merchandise page
at www.handsomefamily.com ?
Don't be frightened. We can't actually look at you through your
computer screen when you visit our site even though it may feel
We have a NEW T-SHIRT (teeny girl size to XXL) depicting the
missing octopus Crazy Arms. Why not invite him to float upon
your chest? Warning. Do not stare directly at tentacles for more
than a few seconds at a time. May induce sleepwalking.
We have a few of the old shirt (GIRL W/GUN) left,
We should have some more of the European
compilation CD called "Down in the Valley" some time in the next
month or two.
XERXES VS. THE HATEFUL SEA
...They then began to build bridges across the
Hellespont river, the Phoenicians building one of ropes made
from flax, and the Egyptians building a second one out of
papyrus. From Abydos to the opposite shore it is a distance of
almost two-thirds of a mile. But no sooner had the strait been
bridged than a great storm came on and cut apart and scattered
all their work.
Xerxes flew into a rage at this, and he commanded
that the Hellespont be struck with three hundred strokes of the
whip and that a pair of foot-chains be thrown into the sea. He
also commanded the scourgers to speak outlandish and arrogant
"You hateful water, our master lays his judgement
on you thus, for you have unjustly punished him even though he's
done you no wrong! Xerxes the king will pass over you, whether
you wish it or not! It is fitting that no man offer you
sacrifices, for you are a muddy and salty river!"
In these ways Xerxes commanded that the sea be
punished and also that the heads be severed from all those who
directed the bridging of the Hellespont.
From The Histories of Herodotus: Xerxes at
That's all I have to say for now. Please feel
free to e-mail complaints, queries, fears etc. ox Rennie
Big Howdy Pilgrim from Handsome Family Forest--a
waste and howling wilderness, hideous thickets of eternal night
where devils dance in puddles of blood.
TODAY'S TOP STORY:
After many unspeakable rituals made in worship to
he-who's-name-may-not-be-uttered we are pleased to announce that
our new CD, "Singing Bones" will be released worldwide in
October. This sound recording will soon be available for
purchase (check back to our website www.handsomefamily.com in
October) Want to see us in the flesh? Take a glance at our tour
schedule and gather ye rotten vegetables while ye may.
WEEKEND CHEF: Thousand Year Old Eggs
2 cups tea, very strong black
1/3 cup salt
2 cups ashes of pine wood
2 cups ashes of charcoal
2 cups fireplace ashes
1 cup lime powder ( available at garden or hardware stores)
12 duck eggs, fresh
Combine tea, salt, ashes and lime. Using about
1/2 cup per egg,
thickly coat each egg completely with this clay-like mixture.
a large crock with garden soil and carefully lay coated eggs on
top. Cover with more soil and place crock in a cool dark place.
Allow to cure for 100 days. To remove coating, scrape eggs and
rinse under running water to clean thoroughly. Crack lightly and
remove shells. The white of the egg will appear a grayish,
color and have a gelatinous texture. The yolk, when sliced, will
be a grayish-green color. Cut into wedges and serve.
THE MEDICINE CHEST: Backyard Pyramid.
Feeling rundown? A backyard pyramid may get your aura vibrating
again. Make sure it's built to the correct proportion and angle
(52.606º ). Food kept under the pyramid will stay fresh for two
to three times longer than uncovered. The pyramid will dehydrate
and mummify things, but it will not permit decay or mold to
grow. Kirlian photographs show human auras become significantly
brighter after only15-minute pyramid exposure. Brine shrimp (sea
monkeys to you) usually live 6 to 7 weeks; but under the
pyramids they have been kept alive for over a year. Underneath
pyramids theta and alpha brain waves are increased. Prolonged
meditation under a pyramid may impart a feeling of
weightlessness; a time distortion (both of speeding up and
slowing down), and very graphic dreams in vivid color.
ABOUT TOWN: The Handsome Family are preparing to leave the house
to begin touring in support of the new record. This involves
conquering several phobias including but not limited to: fear of
water, tiny things, large dogs, small dogs, dogs with ESP,
invisible dogs, shape-shifting dogs, dogs who look like spiders,
dogs who dance on two legs, dogs pretending to be humans
pretending to be dogs, spiders. Pray that we may we have the
front door cracked open by Oct. 6 when our new CD is released.
"I opened my eyes, and the before sun-lit room
was now wrapped in outer darkness. Instantly I felt a shock
running through all my frame; nothing was to be seen, and
nothing was to be heard; but a supernatural hand seemed placed
in mine. My arm hung over the counterpane, and the nameless,
unimaginable, silent form or phantom, to which the hand
belonged, seemed closely seated by my bedside. For what seemed
ages piled on ages, I lay there, frozen with the most awful
fears, not daring to drag away my hand; yet ever thinking that
if I could but stir it one single inch, the horrid spell would
be broken. I knew not how this consciousness at last glided
away from me; but waking in the morning, I shudderingly
remembered it all, and for days and weeks and months
afterwards I lost myself in confounding attempts to explain
the mystery. Nay, to this very hour I often puzzle myself with
---The Handsome Family's favorite paragraph
from "Moby Dick"
Greetings friends old and new from the hallowed
halls of Handsome Family Mountain. Today I waited for Planet X
to appear in the sky and block out the sun entirely. The birds
ignored my bird bath. The tomato plant wilted. Only the fire
ants rush to greet me when I leave the house.
Thanks to everyone in England, Scotland, Holland,
and Germany who came to see us play on our recent travels.
Thanks to American Airlines for not charging us too much extra
for all them suitcases even though drinks are now $5 each. We're
home again, hacking away at the weeds and finishing up our new
CD, "Singing Bones."
Other news of note: we are proud to have a lovely
cover of our song, "Weightless Again" on Cerys Matthew's
(ex-Catatonia) new CD. Also a breathtaking version of "Don't be
Scared" on the new CD from Mr. Andrew Bird.
October, 2002, Autumn Ramblings:
THE HANDSOME FAMILY announce......
Finally Proof That Wolves Are Good
"In all my travels, the only time I ever slept deeply was
when I was with wolvesThe days with my wolf family
multiplied. I have no idea how many months I spent with them
but I wanted it to last foreverit was far better than
returning to the world of my own kind. Today, though
most memories of my long journey are etched in tones of
gray, the time spent with the wolves is drenched in color.
Those were the most beautiful days I had ever experienced."
So wrote Misha Defonseca, a
Jewish orphan who, from the ages of 7 to 11, wandered through
occupied Europe during World War II, living on wild berries, raw
meat and food stolen from farmhouses, and occasionally teaming
up with wolves.
----From Paul Sieveking's article on Feral Children in The
New Conspiracy Uncovered:
Blue Jays are burying nuts in my
"Nothing Left to Lose: A Tribute to Kris Kristofferson"
A great compilation of
songs/musicians newly released from Incidental Music.
1. HANDSOME FAMILY: "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down"
2. SOULED AMERICAN: "Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends"
3. CALIFONE: "Border Lord"
4. DIANA DARBY: "Jesus Was a Capricorn"
5. REBECCA GATES W/ CALIFONE: "Nobody Wins"
6. CALEXICO: "Casey's Last Ride"
7. COURT & SPARK: "For the Good Times"
8. ZMRZLINA W/ MILK CHOPPER: "Me & Bobby McGee"
9. RADAR BROTHERS: "Help Me Make it Through the Night"
10. DEANNA VARAGONA: "Burden of Freedom"
11. CREEPER LAGOON: "Why Me"
12. GRANFALOON BUS: "Kiss the World Goodbye"
13. VIRGIL SHAW: "Just the Other Side of Nowhere"
14. RICHARD BUCKNER: "Lovin' Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll
Ever Do Again)"
15. CROOKED JADES: "Shipwrecked in the Eighties"
16. HOWE GELB: "The Pilgrim (Chapter 33)"
17. GRANDADDY: "Best of All Possible Worlds"
Sound good? To order this CD or read more
details, go to:
New Autumn Drink:
vodka with tea bag
New Autumn Fashion:
cat whisker tiara
August, 2002, automatic
Since March 1977 I have been subjected to
continual anonymous surveillance and assaults whose impact has
devastated me. Between September 1977 and March 1978 I was for
the first time made aware that these were being accomplished by
use of two-way mental telepathy and its physical and emotional
equivalents. I have been systematically deprived of both
capacity and opportunity to exercise the rights which flow from
my U.S. citizenship as well as the fundamental rights inherent
in mere human existence. I assess my situation as substantially
worse than it would be under formally instituted imprisonment
and forfeiture of civil rights as administered under any legal
system that has existed in recorded history. If the telepathic
cannibalism which has victimized me has existed for long then my
so-called education was in reality a systematic implantation of
delusions deliberately designed to injure me. My existence for
more than two years must be characterized as subjected to
hostile and total external control to an extent unrecorded in
the literature of civilization.
We were recently on Later with Jools Holland. It
was the show that the Hives, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and
Brian Ferry were on. It was kind of scary, but don't we look
like we feel cool instead of petrified? Don of Circuit Magazine
took this picture of us. Nice work.
1. Mysterious tenth planet will crash into
Earth in 2013 knocking us out of
our orbit and causing 300 mph winds to carry me off into the
vacuum of outer
2. A huge civilisation of cockroaches is building a doomsday
machine in the
crawl space under my bed.
3. If I believe in ghosts (or even say the word "ghost" inside
my head) this
gives ghosts the substance and the strength to drag me off
into the boarded
up backroom of our cellar. People will hear me scream, but
they will all
say, "Gee that fan needs some grease."
4. I will be swallowed by a sinkhole while driving on a
deserted road, but I
will not be killed by the fall. Instead I will slowly
suffocate inside my
car with only FM radio for company. Last thing heard will be
zoo crew making fart noises.
5. All the vegetables in my refrigerator are screaming in
agony, but the
sound is on a frequency that I am unable to hear.
7. Cats really don't want to have a tea party with me in
Greetings friend from Albuquerque, New Mexico
(home of the Great American Manson look-alike contest!).
Enclosed you will find our latest tour schedule and some other
handy household hints. Happy spring. ox Rennie
FUN HOME PROJECTS!
Make a ghost tape!
It's easy. Simply place a blank cassette into your recorder and
press 'record'. Turn out lights and ask the darkness, "Is there
anyone out there who would like to speak to me?" Sit quietly
until tape recorder clicks off. Now just rewind the tape and
listen. Listen carefully! Is that your dead grandmother telling
you where the government bonds are hidden? Or, could it be Jack
the Ripper singing "Silent Night"? Too many ghosts on your tape?
Simply fill your shoes with salt to disperse unwanted presences.
Learn to understand animals!
Simply bury yourself underground for one full month with a small
breathing tube in your mouth leading up to the surface. No
cheating! Try to focus on white light only. Most yogis who
accomplish this discover upon returning to the surface world
they are now able understand everything from the flick of a
lizard's tongue to the growl of a rabid dog. Caution: unpleasant
side effects such as flowers growing from abdomen and unexpected
levitations have been noted.
"I heard the most beautiful music!" exclaimed Andrew Jackson
upon waking from the chloroform after having his leg sawed off.
On April 1 The Handsome Family will be self-releasing a CD
called "Smothered and Covered" which includes various songs of
ours that never found a way onto a CD as well as some covers
that have appeared on some compilation CDs and a few very
intimate demos of songs we have already released. We are putting
this CD out ourselves so it will NOT be distributed (well except
to a few nice people) and so will mostly only be available from
our website or at our live shows.
Also in the coming months we should have a live
CD released by the Digital Club Network. More details to come.
We now have XXL shirts for our bigger-boned fans. Due to extra
material used and late hours for the barefoot children in our
sweat shops, these shirts cost $1 more than the S-M-L-XL shirts.
ALSO, if you're a guitar amp collector, please
check out the link from our merchandise page to look at Greg
Hansen's homemade amplifers. He's a friend of ours and his
amplifers are really unique.
All the above-referenced crap can be found at
Here's a Tour Diary from our latest European
Handsome Family Tour: Oct. 29 through Dec. 7,
IRISH SHOWS: Pinelodge, Myrtleville;
The Kings Bar, Waterford; The Spirit Store, Dundalk; Dolan's
Warehouse, Limerick; Whelan's, Dublin; Auntie Annie's, Belfast
PLUS: A quick commute to London and back for a show at the
Folks in Ireland laugh non-stop at our shows, even at the
most depressing songs about extinct birds, suicides, tidal waves
and the suffering of small animals. I feel sane here. We arrive
at a radio station in Cork City to do a live performance when
suddenly we are locked in the building, quarantined for hours
because of an anthrax scare. The army finally negotiates a
special tank down the narrow streetÐ-a tank designed to take
away bombs not anthrax. Luckily, the anthrax envelope turned out
to be filled with bits of a broken jewel case from some band's
demo CD. No anthrax in Cork today. The radio station
receptionist was angry. "In Dublin, they bought them some rubber
gloves to open the mail with! I had to buy my own!"
We drove back from Limerick to Dublin after the show to take an
early flight to London. There is total darkness between Limerick
and Dublin as we pass through all the sleeping towns. I am
suddenly terrified being in a country without 24 hour
restaurants. Finally on the outskirts of Dublin we find a man
selling petrol from a bullet-proof cage. He sells us a
coronation chicken sandwich and a tank of gas. Three hours sleep
then off to London.
Howe Gelb walks in our dressing room and immediately
dismantles the pristine, shiny Steinway upright piano. By the
end of the night, people are sticking spoons and fingers into
the piano strings trying to play "Cold as Ice" without touching
the piano keys. I jokingly asked the Barbican staff if someone
could carry me on stage and the burliest of them steps forward
smiling. This was our first show before 2,000 people and Brett
broke a string on the second song. Stalling for time while Brett
looked for a new string, I told the crowd what happened on the
plane ride over: the entire plane thrown into panic when a man
started fighting with a young blonde girl in the aisle. They are
pushing and shoving each other and the stewardesses run towards
them. I am sitting frozen in fear, waiting for the box-cutter to
appear. But, no death on that flight. Turned out he was just a
drunk who stuck his hands between the girl's legs while she was
sleeping. The whole plane celebrated-"Just a pervert! Not a
terrorist!" We ignored the poor blonde girl sobbing in the
corner, but the cops were waiting at Heathrow to drag the perv
away. Two weeks later I get a call from his lawyer who was at
the Barbican show (!), asking me to give evidence in his case.
Small fucking world.
BACK TO IRELAND:
We were so tired the next day, we spent two hours searching
for our car keys in the airport parking lot, even consulting the
airport police, before I found the keys in my purse. Very tired
at Whelan's and people were talking loudly while we were
playing. Brett sang "I Know you are there...because I can hear
you fucking talking!" After we played we needed security to help
us get our stuff out as the bar had turned immediately into a
dance club where people were dancing so hard they were bruising
each other. The ride to Belfast was delayed by a dog running
across the road far up in Northern Ireland causing the entire
Irish highway "system" to grind to a halt. I ate a deep-fried
egg mayonnaise sandwich served in a pool of butter, but still
felt so tired my face was numb. People in Belfast seem to find
my jokes funnier now that my face is a frozen mask. Next morning
I found a lovely deer plaque in a charity shop.
ENGLAND: Ceol Castle, Birmingham; The Charlotte, Leicester;
The Tower, Winchester; The Band Room, Farndale; University of
Manchester; Pavilion Theatre, Brighton; Boardwalk, Sheffield;
Fibbers, York; Jumpin' Hot Club (at the Live Theatre),
There's a dog that lives in a pen behind the bar in
Birmingham who howl-sings along with the high notes. I am in
love, but the dog is well-trained and I can not coax him into
the car the next morning. The Band Room is way up on the
Yorkshire Moors. When I joke that the government has chosen
tonight to begin releasing wolves back into the moors, no one
laughs. The bathrooms are in a bunker across the windy parking
lot and glowing eyes peer from the darkness as I walk. Not
wolves, just curious sheep. In Manchester we were so tired we
stopped at the first hotel we saw. Turned out to be the most
expensive Marriot in the world and anytime we touched anything
in the room another bill was slipped under the door. A little
taste of America's glory.
Down at the Pavillion Theatre in Brighton, we are joined by
Andrew Bird and Nora O'Connor, who prove to be a huge hit with
the crowds and a great help to us over the course of this long
tour. They pull our fat out of the fire many a night by joining
us onstage and providing energy and impeccable musicianship.
Next day, we head back up north again. At the Jumpin Hot Club,
Brett and I have a big fight over dinner. We are so tired and
sick of each other we are reduced to silent glaring, can't even
muster up the energy to insult each other. We hobble onstage. A
man screams "Shut up" while I'm talking between songs and I
invited him on stage to scream "Shut up" at me while I gave him
a blow job. That shuts him up, or so I think. Then later the
poor man e-mails to say he was telling some girls next to him to
shut up because his favorite band (us) was playing. Oh well,
still spreading sunshine.
SCOTLAND: Q.M.U., Edinburgh; The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen;
Students are playing pool while we are playing and so I have
to remind myself that the cheers sporadically erupting are based
on good shots on the pool table and not our great songs. After
the show, we talk sheep with locals. The Scottish have the best
sheep stories. Tonight someone tells us about the farmer who had
a sheep that fell into a ravine, but the farmer couldn't bring
himself to kill it even though its skull was cracked, even
though it was his business to kill sheep. He kept bringing the
sheep food and kept it alive for years,though it couldn't walk
and birds had pecked out its eyes. Ah Scotland, your dark beauty
is only heightened by the Absinthe for sale at Tesco.
ENGLAND, WALES, THEN ENGLAND AGAIN: Telford's Warehouse,
Chester; The Chattery Restaurant, Swansea; Blackheath Halls,
Telford's is the night of my birthday. I am showered with
dead flowers and champagne. I am tempted to lie and say it's my
birthday the next night as well. But, Swansea is its own joy.
The Chattery is the local chippy and it is a strange thrill to
go from playing for 2,000 at the Barbican to playing in a
restaurant in Swansea. It's nice to be able to see everyone's
faces as we play. We are exhausted again by the time we get to
Blackheath. It's thanksgiving night and we order nachos and
cheese sandwiches from room service to celebrate. If you had
blindfolded me and then forced me to eat the nachos I would have
guessed kidney pie, but still it does alleviate some of the
HOLLAND: The Paradiso, Amsterdam; 013 Tilburg
We pay $100 for a garage to take our rental car off our
hands in Amsterdam. It's that awful to drive there. Bicycles,
walkers, trams, taxis... But, out of the car, Amsterdam is
great. The best falafel in the world. Strange stores full of
Indonesian drums and whistles. Mongolian throat singers playing
in the tunnel under the Rijksmuseum. It's comforting to know
that, if need be, I can get some help killing myself here. Maybe
get stoned and hire a prostitute to do it? We leave all our
equipment in the car in Tilburg because I realize that we are
probably the most dangerous people in this town.
GERMANY AND SWITZERLAND: Knust, Hamburg; Golgatha, Berlin;
Star Club, Dresden; Club 2, Munich; Rittergarten, Tuttlingen;
El Lokal, Zurich
An endless journey to Hamburg consisting of missed trains
and huge staircases to lug gear up. Finally arrive. We are here
as support for Oh Susanna. She likes the same morbid folk songs
we do so we get along well. We make no money in Germany and what
we do make is immediately taken back to pay foreign artist
taxes, but we enjoy many delicious meals with mysterious names
that always turn out later when translated to be something like
creamed kitten tails on a bed of deer eyelashes. We get
separated for two hours in the Zurich airport when I get off the
elevator at a different floor than Brett. Much hilarity
(actually sobbing) ensues. Back in London, my hair has turned
white and I have acquired the limping gait and pallor of the
ENGLAND, AGAIN: ULU, London; 100 Club, London
ULU actually goes well even though by all rights we should
be in the hospital by now. Someone gives me a bag of chocolate
spiders. Next morning at the 100 club we play "Girl with the
Faraway Eyes" to celebrate Uncut Magazine's Rolling Stones
issue. It is a private party with lots of drink and tiny
sandwiches. By noon, I have achieved the warm and happy drunk
that comes with knowing you are going home soon.
Hello to all who have ever uttered the name
"Handsome Family" even while under heavy sedation.
Today I found a tooth in the back yard. Well,
actually a trail of teeth leading, oddly-enough, right back to
my own gaping mouth! In any case, tonight I attempt to sleep
with the lights off and my "Soothing Seascapes" CD at half
volume. I am unique and I have a lot to offer the world. I am
unique and I have a lot to offer the world. I am unique and I
have a lot to offer the world.
Tomorrow I start my "19th-Century American
Mountain Man" diet!
When caught by winter blizzards or while on unexpectedly long
desert marches, many a mountain man escaped starvation only by
bleeding his horse and drinking the blood or cutting off and
eating the ears of his mule.
One old mountain man recalled, "I have held my hands in an
ant-hill until they were covered with ants, then greedily licked
them off. I have taken the soles of my moccasins, crisped them
in the fire, and eaten them. We used to throw black crickets
into a kettle of boiling water, wait until the kicking stopped
In the spring when the first fat cow was killed, the intestines
were thrown across the fire until puffed with heat and fat then
coiled on a blanket and gulped down without chewing. On such an
occasion two men would start on the opposite ends of a pile of
intestines and work their way toward the middle, each eating
faster and faster to get his share, and shouting to the other to
Roasted beaver tail with handful of wild berries. Watch for
NEW CD: Yes, finally, The Handsome Family has a
new CD which will arrive in the stores on September 24th. It's
called "Twilight." I hope you like it and I don't have to go
back to stealing hubcaps.
MOVE: We finally made the big leap and moved to
Albuquerque, New Mexico. We bought us a little adobe hacienda.
"Why the hell??", you might ask. Well, it's dirt cheap (even the
dirt is cheap) and it's home to the Sparks clan. Brett's brother
and Mom and Dad live out here or at least that's who he claims
these people are. Just wait till you see the new band photos
shot in the desert. Brett has built a studio and has more work
than he can shake a stick at. I spend most of my free time
wandering the foothills in search of nicely bleached ribcages.
WEBSITE (www.handsomefamily.com): We can now
accept credit cards on the merchandise page of our website. This
is good for all you impulse buyers as well as all you foreigners
who can now just click a button and not have to go get a wad of
American dollars to send us if you want one of our fine
products. Also, we have a new, professionally rendered tee shirt
design. We recommend perusing our merchandise while drunk.
NEW TOUR: We will be touring and touring and
touring now that the new CD is done. In preparation I have just
purchased a new toothbrush cover. See Shows page for current
schedule. ox Rennie
PS. If you would like an e-mail of our
semi-frequent newsletter as well as tour information sent to
you, then e-mail us and tell us so.
Hi everyone, here's the latest news from the
Handsome Family Social Club:
We finally had enough of the cold and the wind
and the traffic and the cost of living and have decided to move
away from Chicago. On June 7 we're pulling the moving van out
and heading to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Below you will see some
of the information that helped us come to this decision.
children in pajamas abandoned in parking lots
packs of stray dogs run through empty neighborhoods
crumbling buildings and falling icicles crush in skulls of
all houses constructed of mud, straw and old cow bones
emergency rooms full of handcuffed men getting skull fracture
emergency rooms full of handcuffed men getting skull fracture
uniformly grey sky gives consistancy to the seasons and suicide
constant deep blue sky above mud horizon causes desert madness
in which people paint all their possessions turquoise and begin
to eat dirt
We will sorely miss all our Chicago friends, but,
as you can see, the choice is obvious. I wish we could move
tonight so I wouldn't have to attempt to clean up this abandoned
warehouse we're living in. (Note to self: reset rat traps).
Anyway, in the fall of 2001, when our next CD is released we
should be touring everywhere we can think of, including back to
PS. If you would like an e-mail of our
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& PHOTOS •