Roger Steffens reviews GHOST TOWN SOUND


Every small town in America has hidden geniuses, people of extraordinary abilities, some who have sought the creative possibilities of the coastal edges of this sprawling country, but have found the pull of Home to be irresistible. Such a one is “Duppy Doug” Wendt, the Goner Who Goes There. In the ‘80s Doug Wendt was a VJ before anyone knew what that meant. A DJ who illustrated his songs with brilliant international videos with visual overdubs of in-club dancers under black lights, near naked on tiny purchases on the wall above the revelers of the Kennel Club below. On any given evening 35 different countries’ melodies could be heard, with people from as many cultures dancing merrily to each others’ music. One Chord, One Heart, proving that Soul music knows no bounds.

Doug is one of those multi-talented people, adept in so many arts and modest about them all. But have no doubt, he is the real thing, and he has herein expanded his radio and tv careers to become a recording artist/composer/singer himself.

With “Vision Quest USA” he shares his poetry of the Big Sky Country melding covered wagon twangs with modern dub visions, floating in the sky from Painted Desert to Hopiland.

“Ohtahku” is The Sound, reggaefied, of a mighty and thunderable river, and a history lesson about the effects of the past on the future. The sound faded away, and then it was GONE!! And the music laments the loss. But now it’s back, irresistible, the Ghost Town Sound, haunting like the ethereal whistle of the Ghost Train.

“No Waza Bat” states simply and whimsically an obvious truth: Andy was a vampire bat.

On “Crow Testament” Doug tells the tale of the crow with Indian chants that take you to another space in time. As Crow says, what’s gone is gone.

“Boxcar,” sung in a light voice, is a propulsive meditation on life itself as a man of many colors surveys the world he wishes were real.

“Auditor” is a real shaggy dog story.

“Empty Town” is a rock steady lament for what used to be and the deprivations of crapitalism on the American sheepul. Hurt by what he has seen in his own hometown of Great Falls, with the chainification that drives local businesses under, he pinpoints the culprits.

“Fingerprints” features a ghost rider in the sky as he searches for his fingerprints.

“American Ghost Town” jogs from Strip Mall to Strip Joint to Ghost Town. Locked Doors. Morte gauge. The Dying will and testament of Old Tyme America

In “Tiny Montany” Bob Dylan lives again . The Beats would have loved this one, with its deceptively smooth chorus and insinuatingly surrealistic reveries.

And finally there’s a mystery track that challenges you to remain in your seat, “Sunshine wrapped around my brain.”

All in all Ghost Town Sound is a poetic and musical triumph and it doesn’t sound like anything else you’ve heard in a long, long time.

-Roger Steffens, whose first book of photographs, the Family Acid, has just been published.



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