UNCLE MONT'S QUAND'RY "Sorrow In Full Strut" Regalia Records (2010)
There's something tangible about hunger. Whether you find it in art and music, feel it as hunger in the belly or experience it as a deep seated hunger for cerebral expression, there's an unfulfilled need for a positive resolution. Some manage to satiate their needs through playing and others through lyrics, but Ohio's Uncle Mont's Quand'ry find their own sense of equilibrium via some heart musical expression and deep seated intensity in a post psychedelic duo format.
The magnificently titled 'Sorrow in Full Strut' is everything Rock should be from bug eyed intensity, raging hunger and passion to an explosive spontaneous musical blast. And Uncle Mont's are all these things because their edgy inner core dynamic at the heart of nine tracks of layered intensity leading to a climatic resolution in the grand psychedelic finale 'Our Sister Sleep'. The eastern flavoured guitar textures fuel some of the rawest and most exciting slices of epic improvisation since Paul Butterfield's 'East West'
Drummer Roger W. Downs provides the rock solid undertow via expansive bass drum patterns and spirited percussion topped by copious cymbal splashes. Guitarist/vocalist Jimmy Fleming puts his heart and soul into some crystal guitar lines and coruscating riffs that draw on the classic era of rock/blues, ranging from the British invasion to Southern rock via West Coast psychedelia. Together they rejoice in an organic feel for the freedom of the artistic spirit
It's rare in this corporate age for a band to make any kind of meaningful statement in their accompanying PR notes, but such is the intensity of Jimmy's introductory message that before you've heard a note the dividing line has clearly been drawn between the potentially special and the eminently forgettable. And in that respect not only do Uncle Mont's Quand'ry not disappoint, they bring additional colour and resonance to the phrase, 'Yes we can do it'.
'Sorrow in Full Strut' bides its time via an opening locked in groove and Jimmy's emotive voice which immediately offers the band a decent shot at tearing down the limitations of guitar/drum format. It doesn't take long for the following 'Ghost of Memory' with its repeated guitar motif, thunderous drum track and Alvin Lee style gnawing riffs to grab hold of you. Much like Canada's Big Sugar back in the 90's, there's real lyrical acumen to match the fiery playing and enough musical diversity to suggest we are listening to something special. Jimmy adds some spiralling Garcia like riffs in between Roger's cascading cymbals and a rock solid beat.
And as if to mirror the whole flow of the album, Jimmy adds a deep toned Trower meets Hendrix tone to his playing on the surprisingly Southern sounding 'Roses of Sharon'. The latter song with its slow burning fervour, understated power, intuitive dynamics and magical guitar could easily have come from the Allman Brothers, in short it offers something for rock fans of all persuasions.
In between the subtle grooves, shifting tonal nuances and intense interplay there's a bigger picture at play. It's a coherence that emerges track by track.
'Raymond's Children' has an anthemic quality, born of a Jerry Garcia style guitar line tempered by a Neil Young Grunge feel. The lyrical raw gut emotion of 'Five Dollar Dead' comes complete with foot down on the pedal rock & roll, topped by distorted riffs as Jimmy sings; 'They've thrown me out of the poor house baby, Witch doctor says I'm driving him crazy' Ain't a bird in the hand in this fair land can't even find my rope to hang when your down and out you soon find out, you can't even die on broadway' ouch!
Jimmy borrows some thinly veiled Keith Richard riffs and employs a Greg Allman style vocal on the jangling guitars of 'Angel' and the duo finish with a flourish on 'Our Sister Sleep' which is simply one of the most exciting pieces of studio bound spontaneity for years.
Uncle Mont's Quand'ry is a raw, exciting, edgy and spontaneous duo who evoke the ghost of Hound Dog Taylor playing in countless Chicago doorways, but with a broader musical vista. They are equally soulful, bluesy and exploratory by turns, whether it's via eastern sounding guitar textures or courtesy of Roger's powerful percussion.
If an established band produced an album like this they would be praised for an exciting return to their roots for some groundbreaking music. In a duo context Jimmy and Roger simply kick open the barn doors and fill the yard full of pent up angst and a musical avalanche that restores your belief in the heart beat of rock and roll. 'Sorrow in Full Strut' is a rough edged masterpiece, bring it on!
Review by Pete Feenstra
Feature: Albums that time forgot…CALVERT FLEMING PROJECT – Shotgun Pixie
Posted on September 23, 2021 by pete feenstra
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Amazing Radio 2021
‘Shotgun Pixie’ is the ultimate album that time forgot, except it’s not been forgotten. This post psychedelic gem of an album by Ohio guitarist Jimmy Fleming and Robert Calvert’s grand daughter Maya Calvert is very much available again on the Amazing Radio platform.
It’s also an album with a back-story tracking the ten years of its inception.
11 years ago I discovered a magnificent duo jam band from Ohio called Uncle Mont’s Quandary. Led by Jimmy Fleming, a guitarist who was mentored by Woodstock promoter Artie Kornfeld, he established himself as an independent solo artist, bandleader, songwriter, arranger, writer, owner of independent Regalia Records and more recently founder of the ground breaking website called Guitardoor.com.
Well now he’s back a neo psychedelic rock album called ‘Shotgun Pixie’ which is inevitably shot through with the ghost of Uncle Bob – Maya’s lyrical acumen sounds like its been handed down through the generations - while Fleming revels in jammed out guitar lines that owe much to the early Hawkwind.
The album which came about through sheer chance, took some ten years to realise and one fevered month to write and record.
Jimmy Fleming was researching a piece he was writing on Hawkwind’s influence on contemporary music, think dub, rave EDM, doom and flat out psychedelic rock.
He happened upon Alex “Maya” Calvert, the grand daughter of the late Robert Calvert (writer, poet and musician with Hawkwind, Hawklords and Michael Moorcock).
She was into poetry and self reflective lyrics and took her stage name from Nik Turner’s ‘Coming of The Maya’ from his ‘Space Gypsy’ album.
Sometime later Fleming sold his house and found himself with enough money to pursue a musical dream.
He invited her to fly over from Ramsgate to Chillicothe Ohio, and work in his Studio as well as hooking up with producer/musician Matt Moon.
It proved to be an inspired catalyst for as Maya’s lyrics and evocative vocals, while multi instrumentalist Jimmy filled the tracks with his post Psychedelic grooves.
In the true tradition of the post Woodstock generation they later headed to the local woods with producer Moon and within 30 minutes they had the instrumental concept of the title track. Another 30 minutes of creative input from Maya produced the lyrics while a few days hard graft gave them the basis of a project which was to become ’Shotgun Pixie.’
It proved to be the culmination of an idea realized over 10 years of transatlantic messaging and was originally released on Fleming’s own Regalia record label and has now been reissued in the digital age by Amazing radio platform.
It’s an album on which 3 creative spirits coalesce. There’s Fleming overall vision, his unrelenting energy and multi instrumental versatility. Then there’s and Maya’s lyrical bent and vocal phrasing which being the songs to life. And then it’s its all glued together by Moon who polishes up the sonic input through a combination of his own drums, bass and keys as well as production.
Jimmy riffs start where Maya’s lyrical imagination leads him, in an organic outpouring captured on the barn burning, gnawing psychedelic hard rock of ‘Cells’, which along with ‘Ode To The Others’ represents the 2 songs from the duo’s original collaboration.
The album opens with the chunky riffs of ‘Running’, which dials into Hawkwind late 70’s sound, before Calvert adds some stop time lyrics, about: “Running for a long time, from myself.”
She provides a kind of a lyrical tension Jimmy that fills out with a psychedelic groove.
‘Remembered’ has a shimmering swampy feel, reminiscent of the Stones ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ as Jimmy whips out his best ‘Keef’ licks.
‘Ode To The Others’ finds Maya’s gentle whispered phrasing cushioned on a sinewy guitar and warm piano line with what sounds like rain as a backdrop.
It got a real haunting quality, as her voice impressively rises above Fleming’s intricate accompaniment on one of her best vocals on the album.
You can feel the album building by degrees. The collective confidence surges and the interplay become more mellifluous as Maya really finds her voice.
And as if seizing the moment, Fleming let’s rip on ‘Lucifer My Brother’ with some gnawing wah-wah, interwoven into a track that builds to like a psychedelic drone on the back of Maya’s melodic hook.
It feels as if all the subliminal Hawkwind influences pour into this track. Fleming’s guitar playing is an object lesson in focussed intensity giving the song a bigger vista, while Maya’s vocal is full of presence which provides perfect contrast to the lyrical refrain.
The whole album is anchored by the title track ‘Shotgun Pixie’, on which Fleming represents the shogun and Calvert the Pixie.
It’s a perfectly balanced piece that evokes Zeppelin and Sandy Denny, but it’s cut with its own cloth, being forged by of Matt Moon’s mandolin, some intricate percussion and Calvert’s lyrical mantra: “If you can’t see it’s not mean to be.”
Both ‘Shotgun Pixie’ and the closing Fire & Brimstone’ are the highlights of an album you will probably keep returning to as there’s so much to explore.
There’s spiralling psychedelic fuzzed up wah-wah guitar, a manic blur of rumbling bass, crashing cymbals, and chick rock vocals. It’s all part of a layered post psychedelic bluster, on which the original spirit of Hawkwind lives loud and clear.
The perfunctory ending cleverly draws the listener into the following ‘Home’ on which Fleming again digs deep for some Keith Richard riffs on country tinged Stoned style number, shaped by a lo-fi arrangement, which though lacking bottom-end is counterweighted by a busy drum work and a would be anthemic chorus.
Jimmy’ s ascending guitar line evokes Jerry Garcia, while Maya’s repeated hypnotic hook leads to a perfect guitar and piano finish that The Allman Brothers would have been proud of.
The album also owes much to its thoughtful sequencing. All 8 tracks illuminate every aspect of the songs and Jimmy’s overarching musical vision.
Better still, he’s joined by Chad Stout on second guitar and Dan Smart on the concluding instrumental ‘Fire & Brimstone’, which opens as if Paul Kossoff had just discovered reggae.
It’s a supreme jam track that bubbles up beautifully with the kind of pulsating bass that was missing earlier on in the album. Fleming adds heavy duty fuzz guitar and coruscating wah-wah on a post reggae groove full of flinty tones.
It’s the perfect resolution to a finely honed album, though I’ve since discovered that Maya couldn’t make the final session, as they finished late on the night before she has to fly back.
In sum, the lo-fi production and jam band feel aligned with Calvert’s singer songwriter introspection sits perfectly with the contemporary music scene.
Fleming’s guitar squalls are bathed in subtle echo reverb and paint their own pictures on a psychedelic canvas, as the ghost of Bob Calvert and Hawkwind subtly infuse an album with 70’s antecedents.
Robert Calvert may be gone, but his poetic bent lives on in Maya’s lyrics, while the original spirit of Hawkwind resides safe in the hands of guitarist Fleming whose spacey bends and aching tone conjures up a warriors on the edge of time. Simply magnificent. ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
CALVERT / FLEMING PROJECT “10 YEARS IN THE MAKING” Guitardoor.com
I have been asked about how the project that ultimately became the album “Shotgun Pixie” came to be and Have really never gone deep on the story. It’s a tale of experimentation in the true definition of the word. Close to 10 years of finding Fruition. Never giving in nor giving up.
Living in the digital age has its advantages and nightmares. People are down on Social Media currently for good reason, yet back when we started it was as a friend of mine said it was a “God Tool”. Simply put Maya and I would not know each other and the music would not have been made without it.
I had been told on occasions to write my Memoirs of over 30 years now in Music and at the time had made my notes and was considering the idea. I still am. My thought was “well I’ll write about something to see if I can even write outside of poems and songs.” You have to have a subject to write about and in the same theory that brought us to Guitardoor.com, I wanted a topic that needed more exposure. My two favorite bands from Pre teen to this very day are The Stones and Hawkwind. The Rolling Stones have been documented. Hawkwind we really haven’t touched the surface collectively. Hawkwind won out easily.
I recognized the influence Hawkwind had through the decades up to the present day. I began trying to find a few associated people who might give a few words on the subject. I had slowly built an online and later in-person friendship with Nik Turner. I had Located and briefly spoken to Miss Stacia Blake. The Person I knew about the least was The Late Robert Calvert, so this was the mission. Find out more about Bob.
I searched my brains out to locate anyone. One day I saw an Alex Calvert profile. I sent a brief explanation of my intention and moved along. A few weeks went by and I got a reply.
She rightly stated she was Robert’s Granddaughter and could not speak to the subject as much as others as she was a bit removed from the Band, but was pretty well versed in his solo efforts. There was a bit of hesitation as In England a high degree of exploitation of Robert’s music was occurring without the family consenting. The conversations continued and one day she said she did a bit of poetry and writings undefined and would I be willing to read them and give an opinion. I was more than happy to. A few pieces came to me and one of if not the first was Titled “Cells”. Introspection of her state in life at the time.
“Maximum cause and effect, the final test of no regret, I fear not the Devil, for now, we’ve met, Retraction Refraction is part of his set.” “As I go under I breathe salty tears, as I look into a new dimension the Darkness clears.”
I very quickly realized this could easily be song lyrics and asked if she was musically inclined or did any singing and I received a voice message of acapella singing. It was brief but enough for me to know in my mad scientist mind I could make this work. I asked if we could make the effort to turn all these writings into songs as I had a somewhat Lo-Fi recording studio and could do almost everything myself from Bass and drums and guitars of course. The issue was how do we get a vocal on it that would suffice as I’m in the Mountains of Southern Ohio and She is in The area of Ramsgate, England?
Often I would send a version with my own vocal simply as a guide to what I heard along with an instrumental version for her vocal to be placed in. The first two videos below have been rarely seen or heard as they are documents of the evolution of the songs. The second two are from the final version of the “Shotgun Pixie” album. I did include the “Cells” demo in my own “Crowe’s Blues” EP with her permission.
Another piece “Ode to the Others” was put together with the help of “Radio Ray Sultan” . He and Maya got together and he took the guitar only and added his excellent musicianship on Keys and an Ethereal Bass as well as a very interesting vocal of Maya. Ray Sultan was a pleasure to communicate with and cannot be faulted for any of the start and stops in the project. He’s a gentleman and tops in my book. Look him up, he’s a fascinating fellow.
As these experiments were happening she was getting some stage time with The Psychedelic Warlords and Dr. Hasbeen. There was an opportunity for her to go to a higher Quality Studio in the London Area. She made that trip and we thought “well here’s our answer.”
The issue then became the owner of the said studio offered to do this record, and in exchange, I would play some guitar parts and leads on this person’s forthcoming album. This arrangement was agreed to and I went to David Thorpe who had the knowledge to place my guitars in this record and the work was completed. It would have Gained me a reasonably Large exposure in the Larger Market. However, I began to receive recordings for approval from London and I quickly realized my project was being overtaken by the individual and the following week found out the same person seriously Publicly pulled some disrespectful tricks on Maya and my Aries Nature came out.
I ordered a Cease and Desist on the project and my disgust reached the point of demanding my parts not be included in the other project either. Did I cut my own throat in doing so? Yes. Gladly. Ethics are costly. Loyalty is everything. . By this time a year or more had passed and we were back to square one.
Here we are with roughly 7 songs and not sure what to do. Then Life Happened. Maya and I never threw in the towel, we both were faced with substantial life situations that required us to focus on those first and foremost. I was increasingly becoming a caregiver for my dad, she had her world to tend to. We stayed in touch and periodically talked about the “someday”.
In 2017 after my Father’s battles were over and he left this world and I had a couple of failed Marriages as well as having sold my house I was making decisions fast and furious. I had to find a place to live and ended up in a house that was owned by a friend and musician. It had been a recording studio dubbed “The Battle Ship” and I took possession that fall.
In Hindsight I was managing grief through music so the first part of 2018 I realized I have a bunch of money and I have a lot of time and complete freedom. I spoke to Maya and it just so happened she was about to be in between Jobs. My Logic was “well if you are in between work then you have time before you hunt the replacement job.” I offered to fly her in for a month so we could be in the same room and finally bring this project to life. She Arrived in late March and we set to work the day after her arrival.
We could have gone to a professional studio but the allure of an “Exile on Main St.” do what you want when you want was the direction we took. Oddly we had an album in mind all this time, yet instantly for reasons we don’t understand nor question new songs were being written from day one. “Running” and “Remembered” didn’t exist and in less than 48 hours they did. “Lucifer My Brother “ Followed the same week. The only two songs we kept from the original plan were “Cells” and “Ode to the others”.
We would work as we wanted for a few days and then we would go off on adventures and concerts to let off steam and give Maya a sense of America, be it Columbus and Marietta, Ohio with Cynthia Davis or Cleveland and Columbus again taking in 2 nights in a row of the bands “Subrosa” and “Sleep” and visiting The Rock N Roll Hall of fame with Matt Moon.
Then it was back to work, and off again to Louisville, Kentucky to see and meet Alice Cooper. Alice was of Particular interest as the talk he and I had wasn’t “Man I saw you in 1978 at the…” It was About Hawkwind and his Love of the band and Lemmy, when I dropped the Bomb on him as to who the young Lady was with me he was Genuinely happy. He had the Flu that night but the performance didn’t reflect it, and at some point in Maya and Alice talking she made him laugh when he was obviously not feeling his best. Only they know what was said, But it was great to witness.
We decided after our run with Matt Moon to go out and hit his recording set up, nestled out in the woods to not only get a change of scene but to employ his knowledge of music and production and The Title track “Shotgun Pixie” was written on a Martin Acoustic and Mandolin only within the first 2 hours. The following night and the next day we had finished all but one track.
Now was the time to go test these songs in front of an audience. This wasn’t your local pub. I purposely arranged the 420 Fest being Held in North Carolina to be the testing ground. 500 people in a beautiful setting. Being that instrumentally the recording contained instruments played by myself or Matt we didn’t have a proper band for the gig. I do this sort of thing, I will book something and then call on the locals I’ve known forever. Why? Because they Have Ninja skills when it comes to music. Chad Stout is a Brilliant guitarist yet agreed to play bass, Drew Ortman my partner for “Black Cat Mass” was the second guitar and Josh Feldman who already was in NC I knew didn’t need to even hear it to instinctively know what to play. Josh is the drummer’s drummer. He’s actually Telepathic in his instinct and always a joy.
We took the stage at Dark after a quick run-through of the songs on-site and they Killed it! The only person to make a mistake was ME. Maya held the audience’s attention and proved she belonged in that setting.
I am glad we did all we did as we seized the moments not terribly long before Covid reared its ugly head. We are extremely proud of the record and it’s been a bit of a “Sleeper” as it is now being paid attention to 3 years later. It’s been in rotation in the U.K and written about by no less than Pete Feenstra.
After the Battles with the distribution for Regalia Records and Having to start from the ground up, you can find the project for sale with many other of my projects on my Amazing Radio page. https://amazingradio.us/profile/jimmyfleming
I must Credit Cynthia Davis for the many images found in the videos and most importantly the Album cover for the project. She has the eye and the timing. Oddly enough that image was taken in German Village, where I was born and lived the first couple of years of my life. Full Circle came calling. I also must thank Linda Hazeldine for the images in the demo videos included of Maya’s public performances in England. We greatly appreciate you both.