You know something, people used to be so cool back then.....
Sugar Ditch Revisited Part Two
Tav was, without doubt, BORN with a rock'n'roll heart. The first record he remembers hearing/liking is a nifty little ditty by Walter Harreton called “Kansas City”. Like a fool I mentioned I knew neither the song nor the singer, so Tav decided he'd better sing it to me down the phone. Okay, so it tacked a few quid onto my phone bill, but Wow! it was worth it.
He was easily drawn to Memphis by its rich cultural background of Negro cotton field music, Delta Blues, and Memphis' main claim to fame, the Sun Sound. He started to play with various blues and rockabilly artists from the area, and the folklore and licks that he learnt soon found their way into Panther Burns, and some of the songs he learned are still in his set today. The beautiful “Mississippi River” was taught him by a local lady by the name of Van Zula Hunt. This song is what Tav calls “traditional” and has probably changed little since it was first sung by some weary love-hungry cotton picker. It is the continuation of these songs that make Tav Falco's Panther Burns utterly indispensable. Another traditional tune he's learned from a local luminary going by the name of Nathan Beauregard is the superb stop-start “Highway 61”. For you trivia freaks who have noticed the difference between the UK and US pressings of their first LP “Behind The Magnolia Curtain”, Tav tells me “River Of Love” and various bits of the Tate County Drum Corps were edited out because there was “too much programme on it”. This basically means that the length of the recorded material was too long for the vinyl. Although these pieces are missing, the US copies are undoubtedly better pressings and have a much louder sound.
When Tav and his lady Lorette Velvette aren't burning round Memphis in his black '64 Thunderbird, he's usually holed up in his “Sugar Ditch Mansion”, which is basically a somewhat smaller version of the Southern plantation house, of timber construction, pillars and all. Tav calls this convenience-less style of living “au naturel” which sure sounds pretty for what it is, but I personally prefer the term “sugar ditch” which he tells me is a 19th Century term for “living rough”. I am in no doubt that he would not want to live on a mod cons estate, not for all the blues records in the world (....I dunno though...!)
While we're on the subject of “Sugar Ditch Revisited”, Tav tells me he has no plans to record any more of the Stax type sounding stuff, and that it was just something he wanted to record at the time. The be-quiffed one also seems to have a great love of serial killers, and in the superb “Starkweather”, he's let loose his thoughts on Charles Starkweather, the 1950's “original Charles Manson”. Tav reckons he was the first media mass murderer who had just a little too much rebel to contain inside of him. He was (Tav that is) later chuffed to have his thoughts confirmed on receiving a biography of the bad man himself sent by Lux Interior.
Well that just about wraps it up. Tav seems weary of my questions and, it seems, has to go out. The more “confirmed” Panther Burns fans among you will I'm sure be pleased to hear that Frenzi and Aussie label Augogo have a joint LP out, which aside from two new PB songs (a new version of “Agitator Blues” and a previously unheard “Tram”) contains two songs by Lorette's band, the Hellcats, as well as two tracks by each of Shewolf and Paradoxical Babble. All are from Memphis and this too will be HOT!!
(Cartoon of Tav by Dav)