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Monday, April 20, 2015

Celebrate 4-20 with 13 clips of the band Bongwater

Posted By on Mon, Apr 20, 2015 at 4:20 PM

The fanzine I did in the 1980s to early '90s, Chemical Imbalance, was very much aligned with the music coming out of bassist, singer and producer Mark Kramer (who everyone just called Kramer, and this was years before Seinfeld)'s studio Noise New York. Phenomenal records were recorded at Noise, by artists like Half Japanese, Pussy Galore, Daniel Johnston, Zeena Parkins, Paleface, Fred Frith, Mo Tucker, and every single Galaxie 500 record, for release on other labels. And then there was Kramer's own Shimmy-Disc label, which released music by Carney-Hild-Kramer, Dowgbowl, Gwar, Boredoms, Fred Lane, Tinklers, Ruins, When People Were Shorter, Naked City, Ween Lida Husik, King Missile Dog Fly Religion, and Kramer's own bands Shockabilly (fronted by experimental-country genius Eugene Chadbourne), B.A.L.L. (fronted by rock and roll genius Don Fleming) and Bongwater (fronted by Downtown NY actor/ performance art genius Ann Magnuson).

Kramer was an incredible wake-and-bake pothead at the time, and I was a fan and a friend (we briefly had a small record label together). As often as once a week, I'd drop by Noise on the border of Soho and Tribeca to pick up releases, get high (because he had great hash and I was a total stoner too though I had much more interest in heavy drugs), and hear what was going on — sometimes seeing a session in progress, if the group were also friends. I met the Boredoms there on their first visit to New York. And once, after a visit with a man with a Louisiana accent and a sweet woman who both were in from San Francisco, after they left Kramer excitedly informed me that I'd just hung out with The Residents!  This guy really liked to drench vocals in reverb, and he often had a bit of a heavy hand with his production. When it worked, though (which was more often than not), it helped to create a big, soupy, psychedelic haze of a sound. In order to help all you stoners today (active and perhaps, like myself, retired), on this, your day, I've assembled 13 clips of the gloriously arty and recombinant psychedelic band Bongwater, including their legendary appearance on David Sanborn's Night Music TV show. Hope you like!

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