HANDSOME FAMILY NEWS....
Far From Any Road
THE ALBUM: Singing Bones
THE TV SHOW: True Detective
Thank you HBO!
Greetings 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
USA TOUR DATES:
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..."
EUROPEAN TOUR DATES
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.
READ ARCHIVES of The Handsome Family Newsletter
on parsley, wildebeests, pyramid magic and more...
2011-ancient Dionysian parade
OCTOBER, 2008-pendulum power
2007-17th-century dinner party
2004-xerxes and octopus
2003-thousand-year old eggs, pyramid power
2001-chicago vs. albuquerque
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...
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 plants.
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...
NOVEMBER, 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 in series!”
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
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 www.thesmartset.com
herein find HANDSOME FAMILY TOUR DATES & DOINGS as well
as strange symptoms of genius that plagued NIKOLA TESLA...
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 and incurable...
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
for further info.
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:
retreats, done is the day of toil;
hastes, new fields of life exploring;
Ah, that no
wing can lift me from the soil
track to follow, follow soaring!
dream! though now the glories fade.
wings that lift the mind no aid
Of wings to
lift the body can bequeath me.
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 my emotions.
Greetings 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 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
HANDSOME FAMILY TOUR DATES...JUNE, JULY, BEYOND
WORM GRUNTING 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."
Rennie's article on SONGWRITING
DOWNLOAD Rennie's book, "Wilderness" for
Take a gander at our new merch....
SCIENTISTS 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 afraid."
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.
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 EMERGENCE APPROACHES...
Across the eastern USA CICADAS will soon emerge from the soil after 17
years of life underground.
THE 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 HANDSOME FAMILY...
WILDERNESS, THE CD:
Tall tales, mountain legends, amazing animals and historic figures all
twine their way through our new forest of songs.
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.
WILDERNESS, THE BOX SET:
full-color, 12" x12" version of "Wilderness" book, exclusive poster and
postcards, all with art by Rennie.
as if that isn't enough we also have a new jumping trout shirt for sale
with art drawn by Rennie!
While both 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.
MAY TOUR 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.
AUGUST, BOOK-SIGNING.... August
21, 7pm, FREE. At Bookworks, 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 full moon).
FUTURE TOUR DATES:
hopefully Australia and NZ coming too!
CICADAS achieve 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.
Bring invisible finches!
as well as new horizons upon the shores of THE HANDSOME
1850, 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
essays. Information about
for all shows...
Thursday, 16 May
LIVERPOOL, The Kazimier
or Box Office Tel:
0151 324 1723
Friday 17 May, MANCHESTER, The
Ruby Lounge TICKETS
or Box Office Tel: 0871 220 0260
Saturday 18 May, GLASGOW, The
Arches TICKETS or Box Office Tel:
0141 565 1000
Sunday 19 May, GATESHEAD, Gateshead
Hall TICKETS or Box
0191 443 4661
Tuesday 21 May, SHEFFIELD, Greystones
Office Tel: 0114 266
Wednesday 22 May, LEEDS, Brudenell
Club TICKETS or Box Office Tel:
Friday 24 May, KIRKBYMOORSIDE, The
Office Tel: 01751 432900
Saturday 25 May, HEBDEN BRIDGE, The
Club TICKETS or Box
Office Tel: 01422 845265
Sunday 26 May, LEICESTER, The
Musician TICKETS or Box Office
Tel: 0116 251 0080 FACEBOOK PAGE
Tuesday 28 May, NORWICH, Norwich
Centre TICKETS or Box Office
Wednesday 29 May, LONDON, Islington
Hall TICKETS or Box
Office : 08444 77 1000
Thursday 30 May, BRISTOL, The
or Box Office Tel:
Friday 31 May, OXFORD, The
or Box Office Tel:
Last summer 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.
Sean Rowe supporting
June 21 Fall River,
MA at Narrows Center for the
June 22 New Haven,
CT at Cafe Nine
June 23 Hudson, NY
at Club Helsinki
June 27 NYC at The
Philadelphia, PA at World
June 29 Brooklyn,
NY at The Knitting Factory
of 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
Pavillion, Millennium Park, 7:30pm
who 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 her wish.
Our self-released CDs, Scattered and Smothered &
Covered are now both available for the low price of $10
one 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.
Houses... Handsome Family in Madrid, NM
I should have listened to the people
coming out the back door saying it sucked.
One of the clowns had what
pretty sure was a REAL BASEBALL BAT.
It was all robotic and was
so lame I
wanted to punch someone afterwards.
The trail of torment was
good but I
was taller than the werewolves.
There are two many
This haunted house caters
pre-teens who had water bottles of vodka.
I seen one zombie and we
line for three hours.
They turned off the lights
wet sponges at us.
They shouldn't reuse the
The Blood shed was dumb.
Corn Maze was a chain link
corn fastened to it .
We went around in circles
seeing the same "monster."
Im not sure why the
have chainsaws anymore.
MADRID, New Mexico, SEE THE
HANDSOME FAMILY LIVE….
Friday, October 26 at THE
EMAIL FOR TICKETS
or call 505.438.3780
Two sets, starting at 7:30pm
SHARP. Come in costume!
Our new record will be released
Tour dates to follow!
SAD NEWS, BEAUTIFUL RECORD...
Our 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."
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 HANDSOME FAMILY…
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 at McCABE'S GUITAR
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 THEATER
There 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 throne.
TOUR DATES SEPTEMBER, 2012
CHICAGO, IL: Friday, September 14 at MAYNE STAGE
ST. LOUIS, MO: Saturday, September 15 at WOOD HOUSE CONCERTS
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
I 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
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 was smiling.
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
THE HANDSOME FAMILY...
...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
May BELFAST, NORTHERN
IRELAND, SPRING & AIRBRAKE, TICKETS:
www.realmusicclub.ticketsource.co.uk or 07711 737169
May BRISTOL, THE FLEECE, TICKETS: tickets
May LIVERPOOL, LEAF, TICKETS:
www.seetickets.com or 0871 220 0260
May MANCHESTER: CHORLTON ARTS FESTIVAL@ST
May OXFORD, THE BULLINGDON
ARMS, www.wegottickets.com/event/148330 or 01296 748268
May NORFOLK, NORWICH FESTIVAL
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,
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 stage...
LOS ANGELES, CA
Wednesday, July 25, 8pm: THE
SANTA MONICA, CA
Saturday, July 28,
8pm: McCABE'S GUITAR SHOP
Saturday, August 18, THE
Friday, September 14, MAYNE
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 shell. Hallaleujah!
Dear reader, herein find JUNE/JULY TOUR DATES FOR THE
HANDSOME FAMILY as well as a discussion of the mind and manner of THE
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 carpentry.
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 drinking.
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
--follow with chests of frankincense
and myrrh as well as camels carrying huge baskets of saffron and
FAMILY TOUR DATES, SUMMER 2011
April 27, Trondheim, Credo
April 28, Tromsø, Blå
April 29, Bergen
, Hotel Norge Festival Bar, 7-8pm
April 30, Stavanger, Cementen
May 2, Aarhus
May 3, Copenhagen, Loppen
May 4, Gothenburg, Pusterviksbaren
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 the Wall
May 11 Gateshead, The
May 13, Norwich, Arts Centre
May 14, Reading, South
May 15, Exeter, The
May 16, Bristol, The Fleece
May 17, London, Tabernacle
The Handsome Family is proud to be part of Solid Sound Festival
Mass Moca in The Berkshires on June 25th, 2011
More Northeast dates to come...Hartford, NYC, maybe Portland ME, Mass.
July 23, Little Fest
Slocan Lodge near Nelson, B.C. only four hours north of Spokane!
--several teams of gold-adorned oxen
--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 full
--floating forest of gilded palm trees
--Turn heads with your new purple
*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
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, VENUE TBC
Sat, 30, Apr STAVANGER, CEMENTEN
HOPEFULLY SOME SHOWS IN DENMARK AND SWEDEN here and THEN...
Sat. 7, May GENT, KRAAKPAND at HANDELSBEURS
Mon. 9, May SHEFFIELD,
Tue. 10, May MANCHESTER, BAND ON
Wed, 11, May GATESHEAD, SAGE (Hall 2)
Fri, 13, May NORWICH,
Sat, 14, May READING, SOUTH
STREET ARTS CENTRE
Sun, 15, May EXETER, PHOENIX
Mon, 16, May BRISTOL, FLEECE
Tue, 17, May LONDON, TABERNACLE
July 23, Little Fest, at Little Slocan Lodge near Nelson, B.C.
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 snack bar.
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 irritation.
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. Good eating!
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 advantage here.
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
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 seating.
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
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
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
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 mind's
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
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 pm.
Tickets: $15 in advance, $20 day of the show.
Purchase: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/99378 or by phone:
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 smashed.
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
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, Howe Gelb
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 Odd
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 the
“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 Reeves.
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 hospital.
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
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 this world.
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, glistening snow."
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 SPACE
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, www.worldcafelive.com
June 17, TBC
June 18, THE IOTA, ARLINGTON, VA
2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA, 703-522-8340, www.iotaclubandcafe.com
June 19, CARRBORO ARTS CENTER, NC
300 East Main Street, Carrboro, NC, 919-929-2787, www.artscenterlive.org
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 soul’.
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 left bewildered.
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
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 world?
We hope your spring is full of flowers and honey bees. xo Rennie
Herein friends, find Handsome Family news as well as startling facts
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, Sydney
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 when attacking.
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 from
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 center?
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
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 shows).
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 Handsome
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 www.bushhallmusic.co.uk)
Tue, 29 Sept, TAYLOR JOHNS HOUSE, COVENTRY
£10 adv £15 door (tickets: www.tinangeltickets.co.uk
***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 www.voxhall.dk>
Wednesday, 7 Oct, STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN, KAGELBANAN/SODRA
www.sodrateatern.com, 7.30pm, 145 sek
Thursday, 8 Oct, SWEDEN, GOTHENBURG,
www.ticnet.s or www.pustervik.goteborg.se, 9pm, 125 sek
Friday, 9 Oct, SWEDEN, MALMO, KB
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)
email@example.com or www.restaurantcredo.no, 9PM, NOK 150
Friday, 16 Oct, TROMSO, BLA ROCK CAFE (Brett and Rennie as a duo)
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
***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 Spiegeltent.
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...
PAINTINGS: When we get back home in November I'll be putting five
or six paintings up for sale. Email me (email@example.com)
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 minutes.
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
THE HANDSOME FAMILY LEAVES HOUSE!
-- 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
--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 by
--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
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
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 Darling
UK/EUROPE, JUNE...We're working on some dates in Europe.
Only one confirmed so far:
Sun 15 Jun
UK 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
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 year’s end.
Our pal Greg Hansen has more great homemade amps for sale on our
That’s all for now, friends. Enjoy the high seas adventure below...xo
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 Carnival Victory.
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
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
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 Bay.
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 the ship.
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 pollution.
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 fans.
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 Voices"
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 FAMILY...
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, first
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
**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
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 are confirmed.
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
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 dreams.
Listen well, friends, and hear the soft tap-tap-tapping... Xo Rennie
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 House
Thursday 8 February Auckland - The Dogs Bollix
Friday 9 February Auckland - The Dogs Bollix
Saturday 10 February Bay of Islands - The Venue at Wharepuke,
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: http://livemusic.moshtix.com.au)
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'
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 dreams.
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
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 blood)
6.poisoned apples (one bite may induce coma)
7.unexplained cackling at crossroads, riversides, abandoned
9.vomiting up black roses, sharp pins, wads of dog hair or the
10.unexplained pooling of water in family room (often boiling)
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 across
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 branches.
UNITED KINGDOM (see below for more dates in October)
Wed 20 Sept. LONDON ARTS THEATRE, 6/7 Great Newport Street,
£17.50 adv. Doors - 7pm, 0870 0601742
<http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk> (Note 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
Sun 24 Sep DENMARK
Tue 26 Sep SWEDEN
STOCKHOLM, Café Teatern
Wed 27 Sep SWEDEN
Thu 28 Sep NORWAY
OSLO, Elm Street
Sat 30 Sep NORWAY
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 March, 2007.
Sat 7 Oct
PONTARDAWE ARTS CENTRE (with The Burning Leaves)
tickets:01792 - 863722,
Sun 8 Oct
RUNCORN THE BRINDLEY ARTS
(with The Burning Leaves), tickets: 0151 907
Mon 9 Oct
SHEFFIELD MEMORIAL HALL
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 www.lemontree.org
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
Nov 29 '06 (8:30 PM), House of Blues Los Angeles with Wall Of
Nov 30 '06 (9:00 PM), House of Blues Anaheim, CA with Wall Of
Dec 2 '06 (9:00 PM), San Francisco, CA, Slim's with Wall Of Voodoo
Seattle and Portland dates TBA, with Wall of Voodoo. Also solo
dates in Tucson, Pioneertown, and possibly Vancouver, Denver, Salt Lake
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" --Daniel Boone
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 HANDSOME FAMILY)...
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
Las Cruces is being blamed on the combination of a snake and a
The customers lost their electricity Tuesday after a bird dropped
snake on a power line, shorting out the line, El Paso Electric
spokeswoman Teresa Souza said.
"I know that's weird. ... I've never heard anything like that and
working here for 10 years," Souza said.
She said she did not know how large the snake was, and she would
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
<http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk> / www.artstheatrelondon.com
Sat 23 Sep DENMARK
Sun 24 Sep DENMARK
Tue 26 Sep SWEDEN
STOCKHOLM, Café Teatern
Wed 27 Sep SWEDEN
Thu 28 Sep NORWAY
OSLO, Elm Street
Sat 30 Sep NORWAY
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 March, 2007.
Sat 7 Oct
PONTARDAWE ARTS CENTRE (with The Burning Leaves)
tickets: 01792 - 863722
Sun 8 Oct
RUNCORN THE BRINDLEY ARTS
CENTRE (with The Burning Leaves)
tickets: 0151 907 8360
Mon 9 Oct
SHEFFIELD MEMORIAL HALL
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 www.ticketweb.co.uk
Fri 13 Oct
tickets: 01786 27 4000
Sat 14 Oct
FORT WILLIAM LIME TREE
Sun 15 Oct
ABERDEEN LEMON TREE
tickets: 01224 642 230 www.lemontree.org
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
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
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
JUNE 24, ALBUQUERQUE, NM, The Launchpad with Fast Heart Mart and The
Rivet Gang. We’ll have a five-piece band at this show!
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
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 occur!
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
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
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
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
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 Family.
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 at: http://www.kunm.org/home.php
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 smile!
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 Through Cancer).
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 Wrong-Eyed Jesus”.
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
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 cliffs.
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
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 information:
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
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 demons?
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 burning smells.
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 announce:
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
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
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
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
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 20.20
The Handsome Family (big hall): 20.20 c 21.00
Rani Singh (small hall, multi-media presentation): 21.00-21.40
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 65
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 dehydrated.
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
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
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 Family.
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 normal.
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
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 necessary.
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 glass
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 work.
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
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
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 children's shoes.
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
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 this
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 words:
"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 the Hellespont
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. Line
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, translucent
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 it."
---The Handsome Family's favorite paragraph from
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 Babysitters:
"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
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 Fortean Times
New Conspiracy Uncovered:
Blue Jays are burying nuts in my yard.
"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
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,
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
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.
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
2. A huge civilisation of cockroaches is building a doomsday machine in
crawl space under my bed.
3. If I believe in ghosts (or even say the word "ghost" inside my head)
gives ghosts the substance and the strength to drag me off into the
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,
will not be killed by the fall. Instead I will slowly suffocate inside
car with only FM radio for company. Last thing heard will be the
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 formal wear.
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
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
All the above-referenced crap can be found at
Here's a Tour Diary from our latest European Tour:
Handsome Family Tour: Oct. 29 through Dec. 7, 2001
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 Barbican.
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), Newcastle
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; Arches,
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
ENGLAND, WALES, THEN ENGLAND AGAIN: Telford's Warehouse, Chester;
The Chattery Restaurant, Swansea; Blackheath Halls, London
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,
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 undead.
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
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
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 then eat.
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 "FEED FAIR!"
Roasted beaver tail with handful of wild berries. Watch for grizzlies.
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
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
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 downtown
all houses constructed of mud, straw and old cow bones
emergency rooms full of handcuffed men getting skull fracture X-rayed
emergency rooms full of handcuffed men getting skull fracture X-rayed
uniformly grey sky gives consistancy to the seasons and suicide rates
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 Chicago.
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.
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