Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Major Label Business Model Is Theft - Article by Bob Lefsetz

To be involved in the music industry is amazing at times and other days, frustrating to no end, but this is what we enjoy the most, the challenge. If you are reading this blog we are assuming that you have noticed the variety of topics covered and the amount of information available. This we believe, is and always, how life should be. Its sort of like dinner in a big family, a plethora of stories all colliding at once but are inherently related.

We enjoy doing posts by well known writers and pundits for what is current within music as this is a wide open forum. Bob Lefsetz is an amazing writer who looks at both sides of the coin and weighs his opinions in a very distinct measure. For this we have become a steady reader of his blog and daily posts. Some days he really posts information that any and all should hear, especially for those of you that are in bands, enjoy music or are curious about why some drive Ferrari's and some vans have six sweaty dudes eating Ramen noodles at truck stops. The article below is an excellent write up on Major Labels and the old model that many bands felt as if they were "making it" when signing to a bad banking loan. Dive in, read on and crank the tunes...

Focus on the article nimrod - Photo By Gary Kramer Guitars

The major label business model is theft

I have no idea why so many artists revere the major labels. It's like staying with an abusive spouse, fearful of the great big world outside the house, afraid you won't find something better. It's like a poor person voting for a Republican. It's against your interests. But since big media controls the debate, look at the Big Brother SOPA legislation it's ramming through the legislature as a result of paying off Congressmen, ignorant artists believe the labels are on their side.

They were never on your side.

From Ahmet screwing bluesmen back in the fifties to Warner Brothers insisting on 360 deals today, the goal of the label is to take your money. Oh sure, their hit to shit ratio sucks, but is that really a given? How come every Pixar movie has been a blockbuster? You can't call it luck at this point, there were just better people involved, insisting on excellence.

So you signed with the label, which paid you an advance, and the rest of the money, the touring and merch, was your own.

Now they're coming after that money too. They say it's necessary, that they can't make it without them. What's it gonna take for artists to say NO MAS!

As for the acts saying how much they used to make selling records, the dirty little secret was that after having a load of success, their lawyers renegotiated and got huge advances, which still weren't enough if you continued to sell. And if your deal didn't pay out, the labels took it out on the wannabes. Hell, costs are not even the same amongst the rich and poor acts. It takes longer to recoup if you're a newbie than it does if you're an established act, why should that be? Costs are costs!

And you don't end up owning what you pay for anyway. It's kind of like leasing a car. You pay for years and end up with nothing. The automobile manufacturers love this. Because you lease more car than you can afford, and since you're focusing on payment rather than total cost, you're not even aware you're being screwed. As for always wanting to drive a new car, I guess you're keeping the fashion industry alive too.

The record companies screwed the artists, paid off the radio stations and put the profits into their pockets. And now that there's less money to be made, someone's gotta pay, something's gotta give, and it sure as hell ain't the execs' salaries. Do you see Doug Morris making less? Jimmy Iovine? Are you kidding me? They just laid off the underlings. As for those underlings still with jobs, they're clueless as to the workings of the royalty department. Which is a black hole anyway. There's no such thing as an accurate accounting, people on both ends of a contract can't even agree on a definition, there's just a settlement after an audit. The labels never want to cave, never want to admit they're wrong, it sets a bad precedent.

As for their statement that no act ever broke through the Internet, that they're a necessary part of the equation, that's no longer true. Acts have broken via the Net, radio means less than ever, this is their worst nightmare, that they may not be needed, which is why they're on this giant disinformation campaign.

And they're not to be trusted. Acts couldn't share in the upside of CDs because of the startup costs. That would be like asking you to pay $10,000 for the new MacBook Pros to be released in the new year, the ones akin to MacBook Airs. Hell, there's tooling involved! Someone's gotta pay! But costs keep going down with volume, with success, and the labels never did raise CD royalty rates, they just kept that money. To the point where you now sell a track on iTunes and the act gets less than a dime.

Is that fair?

Of course not!

Which is why the major labels are gonna die. It's a fairness issue. Acts don't mind sharing fifteen or twenty percent of their revenue with managers, they can see the benefit in all avenues of exploitation, they believe the manager is on their side. But the labels ask for revenue in areas in which they've got no expertise, it's a land grab.

You're just looking for a sugar daddy if you sign with a major. You're afraid to do it by yourself. You're no Curt Flood, not one changing the game, but a soldier. But artists are supposed to think, they're supposed to follow their own muse, why can't they do this?

And now the enemy is Spotify.

Well, Spotify coughs up a minimum of 70% of revenues to rights holders. If your label is taking most of that, you just have a bad deal. If you're lamenting that per stream payment is less than an iTunes royalty you're a believer in buggy whips and typewriters. You can't succeed in the future by denying it.

We live in an era of data. Hell, Google makes analytics available for free!

But you don't see the labels publishing their accounting. There'd be too big an uproar. It's like the NBA owners saying they're losing money but refusing to open their books. One can argue the players had nowhere else to go, but that's not true with musical artists. Yes, major labels have a lock on Top Forty radio, but that's a smaller game than ever before.

And it's not only labels, artists pay lip service to all kinds of archaic forms that are destined for the scrapheap. Like terrestrial radio and the album. Yes, the artists can continue to be screwed by the system because they're just that uninformed, just that dumb.

You know who hates change?


They don't want to save themselves. They just want to blame someone else for their failure, for their lack of revenue.

Hell, I have sympathy for those with archaic deals formulated before the Internet era, but if you're starting now, you've got the freedom to succeed. You can do it your way. But you don't want to. You'd rather be in an abusive relationship, told how to behave and complain about it later.

Then again, you can tell people the truth all day long and they don't want to hear it.

Just like the artists think their savior is the major label, the public thinks Ticketmaster is the reason ticket fees are so high.

Meanwhile, fat cat businessmen are laughing all the way to the bank. They obfuscate the truth and you buy it.

Pioneers are gonna continue to blow the music landscape wide open. Napster begat the MP3 and Spotify, et al, are monetizing the ability of all people to have all the music for a very low price. Next comes the obliteration of the major labels. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution.

It Burns When I Pee Episode #0055 With Hellbound Glory

Check out a feature interview with Leroy Virgil of Hellbound Glory. We are working to get the flash player embedded into this post but no luck so far. Instead, just click the link below to go a pop up window to listen to It Burn's When I Pee, Episode #55

So with having one on the most difficult “computer” months ever here at IBWIP we finally finished EP55. Amish BJ (under the weather) and Coldbeer Coley join me as we discuss everything from Blake’s tour schedule, fights at Chucky Cheese , and Coley’s mysterious problem with Hall & Oats . We update everyone on Peter’s travels across the country, and discuss the breakup of The .357 String Band. In this episode we also feature an interview with Hellbound Glory front man Leroy Virgil. We also spin tunes from Kara Clark, Willy Tea Taylor, The Calamity Cubes, Tom Russell, The Blind Staggers, Aran Buzzas, and The Ugly Valley Boys . And it wouldn’t be an episode of IBWIP without a little conversation with the Christy Boys.

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It Burns When I Pee, Episode #55 Featuring interview with Leroy of Hellbound Glory

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Green Lady Killers Playing Bar 107 Downtown Los Angeles

The femme fatales also known as the Green Lady Killers will be playing Bar 107 in downtown Los Angeles on December 15th. For our west coast brethren get out to the show if ya can. The event is for Frankie Loyale's 24th Birthday so its gonna be a killer bash. 

Green Lady Killers Poster for Los Angeles show on December 15th 2011

Saving Country Music, Album Of The Year Nominees

Hellbound Glory's - Damaged Goods has is once again in the running for album of the year. From the comments and notes over on their page it seems to be a close running between Hellbound Glory and Slackeye Slim. You know of course who our vote goes with but don't count out the Slackeye Slim album. At first listen it has a huge feel to it and definitely grows and builds into becoming warm, friendly and something that David Lynch could easily score as a soundtrack. On the other hand, the latest album from Hellbound Glory is going to be lighting the honky tonks and country radio on fire with the barn burning songs that are ready made to be sung at the top of your lungs til your vocal chords break. Do yourself a favor and get over to Saving Country Music and leave a vote.

But before you do, why not listen to another great album that reviewers have slept on. Jay Berndt's - Sings Waylon For Jessica is an amazing album of covers that go much further than being played as just covers, Jay makes them his own. The whole project was done as a christmas gift a few years back and knowing that Jay played every instrument while recording himself to tape shows his studio prowess. This goes the same for his last solo album, Sad Bastard Songs, another album that got slept on. Hipsters come and go within music scenes but Jay Berndt has been around for a long time and continues to produce, record and write new music in a multitude of categories. This looming presence is definitely starting to build a lot of attention for his solo material and taking off quickly over in Europe. We thank all the listeners far and wide on the European continent that are diggin' Jay's material as does he.

A few tracks from the best albums of the year by Hellbound Glory and Jay Berndt

"There is nothing I take more seriously than naming what I think is the best album of any calendar year. The Album of the Year offers a guidepost for future generations to find the best music that was forgotten by the mainstream, while at the same time being a current ambassador to the mainstream to illustrate what great music they are overlooking. An Album of the Year can’t just be the best album to listen to, it has to be impactful, influential, and/or groundbreaking.

The decision of who to nominate is always difficult, but this year it seemed especially difficult because of the additional albums I could have included beyond these three. Both Rachel Brooke’s Down in the Barnyard and Lone Wolf’s self-titled album were excellent, breakthrough releases. Cody Canada & The Departed’s This Is Indian Land I thought was especially strong, though I may be alone in that thought. And there were a couple of landmark blues albums this year, Husky Burnette’s Facedown in the Dirt, and Scott Biram’s Bad Ingredients, and make no mistake, though it would have to fight an uphill battle, a blues album could win.

But in the end, if I had included one of those albums, I’d have to include them all to be fair to the requirements of all the nominees, and that would have diluted attention from the three albums that truly have a chance to win. And certainly those albums and many more will be included on the “2011 Essential Albums List” forthcoming.

Saving Country Music is a benevolent dictatorship, and I will make the end decision of the winner, but feedback will be taken into strong consideration, so please, leave your votes, comments, your own candidates, or write-in votes below. Just don’t make fun of the cheesball “2011 Album of the Year” logo I slapped together, or you comment will be disqualified.

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Austin LucasA New Home in the Old World

Of all the albums in 2011, this was the one I listened to the most. It is one of those albums where a few of the songs hit you the first time through, then after you’ve worn out those songs, the ones you didn’t like at first grow on you, and by the time those wear out, you’re favorites in the first place are renewed once again until 6 months have gone by and you never stopped listening. In this day of so much parody in music, this is such a rare feat.

A New Home in the Old World scores two guns up on every element of this album: the songwriting, the singing, the instrumentation, the production and accessibility. You can put this album on for one of your pop country friends, and they will like it, and you will too, and Lucas proved his wide appeal by appearing on Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown Tour this summer. And it is solidly country, pure country, with steal guitars and fiddles and down home, but not apish harmony vocals, even though he comes to us from a punk music background, and through the Suburban Home Records scene.

Simply based on appeal, and our ability to hold up an album to Music Row and say, “See, there is music out there that is better, but still widely appealing, that could save your business model,” there is no better album in 2011 than A New Home in the Old World. (read review)

Slackeye SlimEl Santo Grial, La Pistola Piadosa

El Santo Grial is a masterpiece, a magnum opus, of the highest proportions. And it’s not just that this is the greatest masterpiece of 2011, it very well may be the best masterpiece that has been put out in the independent/underground country world, ever. And I’d go even another step to say there’s a good chance it will never be rivaled in that regard. The artistry, the vision, and the patience and uncompromising approach to see it through makes El Santo Grial one for the ages.

However artistry and vision is one thing, and appeal is another. Is this an album you can play for your pop country friends? Uh yeah, probably not. They’re not ready for it, and even many people who are not pop country fans are probably not ready for it. Ulysses may be the greatest novel of all time, but damn if most of us can’t make it past the first chapter. But even though El Santo Grial may not have mass appeal, I do think it could appeal to a mass variety of people by transcending genre and traditional ideas of taste, like what Tom Waits does, until it does command a big audience. And I do think there are songs here that can be picked out of the work and stand alone. (read review)

Hellbound GloryDamaged Goods

Originally I was not going to include Damaged Goods on this list; the 2011 Album of the Year was going to be a two horse race. Don’t get me wrong, I think the album is excellent, but I just don’t know if it is their best effort. I’m not saying it “isn’t” their best effort, I’m saying “I don’t know” if it’s their best effort, like I can say about A New Home and El Santo Grial. And I have to balance that against the fact that Leroy Virgil wanted to make an album that was an approximation of their live show, which these days is fairly stripped down because of budgetary restraints.

But when you take into consideration influence and appeal, it would be an injustice to leave Damaged Goods off. Austin Lucas could blow up, but Hellbound Glory would blow up if the right buttons were pushed by someone who has the power, and understands their aesthetic. Leroy Virgil could be the next Justin Townes Earle, a solid underground success story, or he could be the next Alan Jackson. I just wish he knew that the possibilities were in arms length of him, and I wish I knew how to get him that last step–not to afford him arbitrary measures of success like money and fame, but because the world needs Hellbound Glory’s music. (read review)" 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Machining The World's Smallest V-12 Engine

Hobbyists come in many forms, but ones that we have some of the utmost respect for are those mad machinists that produce small scale working engines. Its one thing to go and buy a model RC monster truck or car and assemble it. Then its another beast for those of ya that actually machine all your own working parts and make it run. Yes, we can easily call that level of patience a zen machine master. 

We hope to get an interview with one of these select individuals at some point and to see just how they create their amazing pieces in person. The devil is in the details and after watching this eight minute jem, we know that you will have more appreciation as well.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Metal Church With Jesse James Parts 1 and 2 - Sheet Metal Fabrication

Did yall happen to catch these shows posted on youtube a few years back by Jesse James called Metal-Church? Was able to find them after a bit of digging and they are definitely gems when it comes to understanding basic sheet metal fabrication and attempting to build your own gas tanks in particular. We have a load of sheet metal work coming up on the 1951 Chevy 3600 with not as many tools as we would like to have. In our mindset this means, a lot of research to see how those in the know do it with a variety of techniques or molds that could be made from wood to help pound out some basic shapes. 

For more info on basic metal fabrication dig into the multitude of youtube videos available. Or do the next best thing go seek out someone that knows their shit and learn a few new things. We are dealing with a lot of rust so we have been getting some solid advice from John over at K & J Antiques as he rebuilds vintage gas pumps and knows his way around sheet metal and painting. We will have some progress photos of the Chevy Shop Truck later this week.

The "Well" Of Death From Jamshedpur, India

So ya got some skills and you want to test them out as you fear nothing. Death is breathing heavy over your shoulder with a recently sharpened scythe and still you ask someone to hold your beer as you surmise your plan of attack. With the courage of Kenny Powers, driving skill of Ricky Bobby and the will to succeed, hop on the next flight to India and prove that you can turn left with the best of'em. Let the sound track of Fu Manchu's, Hell On Wheels guide your way...

King of Cool, Kenny Powers

Sign up sheets to be a carnie in India are not needed, put your balls on the chopping block and just show up to see if you can hang. Go to about 1:50:00 or so into the video to watch the real gnarly begin.

Original 1965 Shelby Cobra With 427 CI Motor At Bob's Big Boy In Burbank, CA

How often do you get to see an original Carol Shelby Cobra and one that is being driven, not too often. We spotted this one at the longest running car show in the US, which happens to be at Bob's Big Boy in Burbank, CA every friday night since the 1950's.

Bob's Big Boy in Burbank, CA on a typical Friday night
Original 1965 Shelby Cobra with 427 CI motor
Original 1965 Shelby Cobra with 427 CI motor
Original 1965 Shelby Cobra with 427 CI motor
Original 1965 Shelby Cobra with 427 CI motor

The Bob's Big Boy Restaurant located at 4211 Riverside Drive in Burbank, California is the oldest remaining Bob's Big Boy in the United States. Built in 1949 by local residents Scott MacDonald and Ward Albert, it was designed by noted Los Angeles architect Wayne McAllister, "incorporating the 1940s transitional design of streamline moderne style, while anticipating the freeform 50s coffee shop architecture. The towering Bob's sign is an integral part of the building design and its most prominent feature." The building is said to have "made McAllister's reputation", and he is credited with creating the restaurant's circular drive-through design.

The restaurant was designated a California Point of Historical Interest in 1993. McAllister worked to preserve the structure as a historic landmark. McAllister was the architect for the original Lawry's restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Hills and the original Sands Hotel casino and Desert Inn casino in Las Vegas. He designed some 40 coffee shops in the Los Angeles area in the late 1940s, and each with a distinctive look. 

The Bob's Big Boy building represents a distinct period in the region's architectural history, often referred to as Googie architecture. Creative coffee shop designs started in Los Angeles because of the popularity of automobiles, and then spread across the nation. The building features curving windows and oversized roof overhangs with 1950s "free-form" style of cantilevered roofs and tall display signs. 

The Riverside Drive Bob's Big Boy was designed as a drive-in, in which carhops brought food to the cars, and now has a drive-thru window. 

On 14 December 1980, the restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard was the scene of a violent crime: Nine employees and two customers were forced at gunpoint into the meat freezer, where four people were shot dead and four others were wounded by armed robbers, one of whom was a former employee who was fired months earlier for making false claims of occupation-induced injury. ABC's 1986 telefilm The Right of the People was said to have been based on this case, since all of its victims were unarmed and questions were raised about the outcome if any of the victims were armed and able to fight back with handguns (e.g. if the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution means armed self defense for private citizens who are not members of organized militaries or militias). 

The MacDonald family acquired the restaurant in 1993, rehabilitating the tower sign, adding a patio and remodeling the dining room. Carhop service was reintroduced on weekends and a weekly classic car show is hosted in the parking lot.

Bob Hope and other movie personalities such as Mickey Rooney, Debbie Reynolds, Jonathan Winters, Dana Andrews, Martha Raye, Alexis Smith and Craig Stevens, were once regulars at the restaurant. Hope frequented the Burbank drive-in because it afforded him privacy. 

Famed British musical group The Beatles dined at the Burbank location during their 1965 California tour. The table is the last booth on the right as one walks in, where the end of the windows facing out toward Riverside drive stop. For many years a plaque described the event (the plaque has been stolen many times by fans, and has been replaced each time. Many regulars to the restaurant call this table and booth "The Beatle Booth".

Bob's Big Boy famous sign in Burbank, CA

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Liberty Tool Company - Providing Sustainable Tools

Are you just a wee bit nuts for tools? Yep, we thought so. Hell, you might not be reading this or even perusing such a site as ours, for that matter, without enjoying a finely tuned instrument. Old tools or ones that have been used and lasted for many years have tales to tell and are generally a good indication, that their purpose is still being served. 

It is easy to go into a place such as Harbor Freight and pick up cheap tools and for many of us that might be our only option, which is totally fine. If we had the extra coin, that beautiful Mac Tool Truck would be pulling up to our shop weekly, but it has yet to come to fruition. We ask this though, why not seek out other places to find decent tools and reuse what is already in existence. Nothing against the major tool manufacturers and we value their presence. Used bins, flea markets and more importantly businesses such as Liberty Tool Company want to help the artisans and craftsmen in all of us with their continual rotating supply stash. There are a plethora of places to find used tools and if you are a bit handy, why not fix them up and keep them in good working order. Peep the video about Liberty Tool and help to keep small businesses viable. America and every country in the world has small independent businesses along with large corporations, but who can you actually call when you need help or advice on how to fix something? We are betting the small independent shops so help to support them and make friends. Never know who might just have the info you need to fix that random item.

So santa, we are happily waiting on a few items to arrive anytime you please. Doesn't have to be at the end of December, we are fine with all the other eleven months. Here is our short list in no certain order as we could use them for the Buell and Chevy 3600 builds:

• Bridgeport Milling Machine
• TIG welder
• Spot welder
• Deep well impact sockets, metric and standard
• sheet metal cutting shear
• Klein Phillips head screw driver with wire nut tool top (we didn't lose it chief, but we will make amends to keep the family squabble from getting out of hand!)

All images courtesy of the Liberty Tool Company

Set of 4 Antique Pliers: Kraeuter, Red Devil, OTC
Antique Tomahawk / Francisca Style Throwing Hatchet 13" Made In Italy
Vintage box wrenches
Vintage B.C. Ames Co. 1/1000" Dial Indicator
1876 Woodman's Patent Ornate Dial Indicator
L.S. Starrett No. 279 Machinist's Radius Gauge
Antique Goodell Pratt RPM Speed Indicator

Becoming A Sword Maker - Understanding Japanese Samurai Sword Creation

Currently we are working on a massive project that will be coming out in 2012 and mucho amounts of homework is being done to make things just right. One aspect of this project happens to involve samurai's, so we have been diggin' into all things Japanese and came across this video which is the epitome of the warrior spirit. A buddy of ours is a black smith and a few years back gave us a run down on sword making and what also separates the wheat from the chaff, when when it comes to types of metal, carbon content and blade styles used to create knives and swords the proper way. Needless to say it was quite informative and also gave us our logo, as the blacksmith also forged our infamous Wrench Knife from a Craftsman 15/16ths box end wrench as a random gift.

As far as the project goes, details will become more plentiful in a few weeks, but it involves links to several hugely popular bands, warrior spirit and a metal album that could potentially shake up rock radio on Sirius XM Octane and Liquid Metal. Yep, its huge and we are damn stoked to be a part of it. While getting into the mindset of the album for new artwork, we are exploring a plethora of areas involving warfare. The first video being created is based upon the Samurai, so below is quite a bit more info on sword making as that was the Samurai's weapon of choice.

For more info on Japanese armour and sword making here are some links and credits. Also, do yourself a favor if you are ever in New York City. Go to the MET Museum and take a look at their sword collection. You get to see all the cool ornate swords and the craftsmanship and then there is one in the collection that will make you start to sweat. It is nicked from stem to stearn and looks to have seen more battles than any of us might know, especially when it comes to hand to hand combat.

Red Samurai Armour, photo courtesy of James R. Miller

In modern times the most commonly known type of Japanese sword is the Shinogi-Zukuri katana, which is a single-edged and usually curved long sword traditionally worn by samurai from the 15th century onwards. Other types of Japanese swords include: tsurugi or ken, which is a double-edged sword; ōdachi, nodachi, tachi, which are older styles of a very long single-edged sword; wakizashi, a medium sized sword; and the tanto which is an even smaller knife sized sword . Although they are pole-mounted weapons, the naginata and yari are considered part of the nihontō family due to the methods by which they are forged.

Japanese swords are still commonly seen today; antique and modernly-forged swords can easily be found and purchased. Modern, authentic nihontō are made by a few hundred swordsmiths. Many examples can be seen at an annual competition hosted by the All Japan Swordsmith Association, under the auspices of the Nihontō Bunka Shinkō Kyōkai (Society for the promotion of Japanese Sword Culture).

Each blade has a unique profile, mostly dependent on the swordsmith and the construction method. The most prominent part is the middle ridge, or shinogi. In the earlier picture, the examples were flat to the shinogi, then tapering to the blade. However, swords could narrow down to the shinogi, then narrow further to the blade, or even expand outward towards the shinogi then shrink to the blade (producing a trapezoidal shape). A flat or narrowing shinogi is called shinogi-hikushi, whereas a fat blade is called a shinogi-takushi.

The shinogi can be placed near the back of the blade for a longer, sharper, more fragile tip or a more moderate shinogi near the center of the blade.

The sword also has an exact tip shape, which is considered an extremely important characteristic: the tip can be long (ōkissaki), medium (chūkissaki), short (kokissaki), or even hooked backwards (ikuri-ōkissaki). In addition, whether the front edge of the tip is more curved (fukura-tsuku) or (relatively) straight (fukura-kareru) is also important.

The kissaki (point) is not a "chisel-like" point, nor is the Western knife interpretation of a "tanto point" found on true Japanese swords; a straight, linearly-sloped point has the advantage of being easy to grind, but it bears only a superficial similarity to traditional Japanese kissaki. Kissaki have a curved profile, and smooth three-dimensional curvature across their surface towards the edge - though they are bounded by a straight line called the yokote and have crisp definition at all their edges.

Although it is not commonly known, the "chisel point" kissaki originated in Japan. Examples of such are shown in the book "The Japanese Sword" by Kanzan Sato. Because American bladesmiths use this design extensively it is a common misconception that the design originated in America.

A hole is punched through the tang nakago, called a mekugi-ana. It is used to anchor the blade using a mekugi, a small bamboo pin that is inserted into another cavity in the handle tsuka and through the mekugi-ana, thus restricting the blade from slipping out. To remove the tsuka one removes the mekugi. The swordsmith's signature mei is placed on the nakago.

Kissaki (blade tip or point) of a tachi blade, Bizen school, signed Bizen Kuni Osafune Yoshikage; Nambokucho era (14th century).
The habaki (blade collar) which locks the blade into the saya (scabbard) is visible just under the tsuba (hand guard).

Early Sword History
Before 987, examples of Japanese swords were straight chokutō or jōkotō and others with unusual shapes. In the Heian period (8th to 11th centuries) sword-making developed through techniques brought over from China through trade in the early 10th century during the Tang Dynasty and through Siberia and Hokkaidō, territory of the Ainu people. The Ainu used warabite-tō (蕨手刀) and these influenced the nihontō, which was held with two hands and designed for cutting, rather than stabbing. According to legend, the Japanese sword was invented by a smith named Amakuni (ca.700 AD), along with the folded steel process. The folded steel process and single edge swords had been invented in the early 10th century Japan. Swords forged between 987 and 1597 are called kotō (古刀) (lit., "old swords"); these are considered the pinnacle of Japanese swordcraft. Early models had uneven curves with the deepest part of the curve at the hilt. As eras changed the center of the curve tended to move up the blade.

The nihonto as we know it today with its deep, graceful curve has its origin in shinogi-zukuri (single-edged blade with ridgeline) tachi which were developed sometime around the middle of the Heian period to service the need of the growing military class. Its shape reflects the changing form of warfare in Japan. Cavalry were now the predominant fighting unit and the older straight chokutō were particularly unsuitable for fighting from horseback. The curved sword is a far more efficient weapon when wielded by a warrior on horseback where the curve of the blade adds considerably to the downward force of a cutting action.

The tachi is a sword which is generally larger than a katana, and is worn suspended with the cutting edge down. This was the standard form of carrying the sword for centuries, and would eventually be displaced by the katana style where the blade was worn thrust through the belt, edge up. The tachi was worn slung across the left hip. The signature on the tang (nakago) of the blade was inscribed in such a way that it would always be on the outside of the sword when worn. This characteristic is important in recognising the development, function and different styles of wearing swords from this time onwards.

When worn with full armour, the tachi would be accompanied by a shorter blade in the form known as koshigatana ("waist sword"); a type of short sword with no hand-guard (tsuba) and where the hilt and scabbard meet to form the style of mounting called an aikuchi ("meeting mouth"). Daggers (tantō), were also carried for close combat fighting as well as carried generally for personal protection.

The Mongol invasions of Japan in the 13th century spurred further evolution of the Japanese sword. Often forced to abandon traditional mounted archery for hand-to-hand combat, many samurai found that their swords were too delicate and prone to damage when used against the thick leather armor of the invaders. In response, Japanese swordsmiths started to adopt thinner and simpler temper lines. Certain Japanese swordsmiths of this period began to make blades with thicker backs and bigger points as a response to the Mongol threat.

By the 15th century, the Sengoku Jidai civil war erupted, and the vast need for swords together with the ferocity of the fighting caused the highly artistic techniques of the Kamakura period (known as the "Golden Age of Swordmaking") to be abandoned in favor of more utilitarian and disposable weapons. The export of nihontō reached its height during the Muromachi period when at least 200,000 nihontō were shipped to Ming Dynasty China in official trade in an attempt to soak up the production of Japanese weapons and make it harder for pirates in the area to arm.

In the 15th and 16th centuries, samurai who increasingly found a need for a sword for use in closer quarters along with increasing use of foot-soldiers armed with spears led to the creation of the uchigatana, in both one-handed and two-handed forms. As the Sengoku civil wars progressed, the uchigatana evolved into the modern katana, and replaced the tachi as the primary weapon of the samurai, especially when not wearing armor. Many longer tachi were shortened in the 15th-17th centuries to meet the demand for katana.

The craft decayed as time progressed and firearms were introduced as a decisive force on the battlefield. At the end of the Muromachi period, the Tokugawa shoguns issued regulations controlling who could own and carry swords, and effectively standardized the description of a nihontō.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Lookin' For A Panhead That Is Beyond Good?

Are ya lookin' for a Panhead that is beyond good and never been a trailer queen? Do yourself a favor and check out this ebay auction for the 1948 Motor and Transmission custom built, Pan E Dropper by our buddy Ben Jordan and currently owned by Randy over at Crafters Metal Fab. This bike is without a doubt one hell of a deal as it is a regular rider and runs fantastic. It was also built by a guy who knows the devil is in the details so the more you look over this ride the more interesting it gets.

Cycle Source Magazine July 2008 featuring Ben Jordan's Pan E Dropper
1948 Panhead Chopper - Pan E Dropper
1948 Panhead Chopper - Pan E Dropper
1948 Panhead Chopper - Pan E Dropper
1948 Panhead Chopper - Pan E Dropper
1948 Panhead Chopper - Pan E Dropper
1948 Panhead Chopper - Pan E Dropper

Living The Life - QBall Photos - Santa's Helpers

“Santa’s Helpers” circa 199? from “Living The Life”, biker photography book.

Tis the Season to be? This time of the year brings out the best and worst in folks. Point in fact is Toy Runs. Here in our neck of the boon docks one local club blocks the main thorough fair to collect toys and money for local children in need. Some years it’s freezing cold and wet, while other times it can be quite balmy like this photo where the Club’s defense lawyer was dressed as Santa in flip flops.

Those trapped in this traffic ambush reacted in curios ways. The town’s newbie’s and uninitiated driving high dollar cages would roll their windows up tight. They wore faces of disgust and fright, dialed 911 on cell phones, and wondered if they could escape unharmed. The long time locals where prepared and looking forward to help. Some drove up in old ratty pickup trucks loaded with toys. Others dug deep into their worn out jeans and gave all they could. Friends would stop in the middle of the street to talk creating an opportunity for cub members to smile and offer candy canes to fearful cagers impatiently blowing their horns. Ya gotta love the holiday spirit.

Long May You Ride,

QBall's photograph of "Santa's Helpers" - Living The Life

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Derringer Cycles - Modern Day Boardtrackers

Nothing could be better to us than finding something new and distinct in an area that is already mined to the max. Every bike style imaginable or at least the ones with a solid past have been recreated and folks find a style they can get into, emulate or design from. It could be a bobber, cafe racer or the period correct and over hyped 70's stylized choppers that are finally starting to fade away. To us, we dig all the styles, as we are purveyors of two wheeled entertainment.

While reading one of our favorite magazines the other day, which happens to be Wired, we came across Derringer Cycles. What struck us immediately was the aggressive lines of the bike and how much fun it looks to ride. Not only could we pedal start it, but it looks damn good going down the road compared to the hornets nest of ugliness that is most 49cc scooters that many consider to be their main mode of transport as of late. The clubman bars, the gas tank, the frame style and that distinct motor all point to a well thought out and articulated design. This is the perfect city bike and one which seems ready to be customized in many cool ways.

Tech Specs 
Engine Overhead valve 4-stroke engine displacing 49cc,
CARB and EURO 2 emission compliance,
up to 180 mpg depending on usage. EZ-Start® Recoil
GGB gearbox with centrifugal clutch and freewheel,
Freewheel allows pedals to remain stationary while driven via engine

70mm drum front brake, coaster style rear brake

Capacity Fuel Tank
1.8 US Gallon, 87 Octane

Engine Oil
26 US Quart

Dimensions Length: 70"
Width: 24" (Board Track Style Handlebars)
Seat Height: Varies by saddle and seatpost type
Wheel Diameter: 26"
Bar Height At Stem: 36"

Derringer Cycles window display
Derringer Cycles gas tank
Derringer Cycles Bespoke Collection
Derringer Cycles Bespoke Collection
Derringer Cycles Custom Commission
Derringer Cycles Custom Commission

Thanksgiving Was Made For Family, Friends And Metal

Hopefully yall are spending time with family and friends on this great American holiday, which happens to be a favorite of ours. It is a time of coming together, breaking bread and spending quality moments along with great conversation with folks you enjoy being around. Whomever you share the table with, think on the history of this holiday and where it all came from. Thanksgiving in essence is equally Native American and European traditions to celebrate the end of a harvest season. Eat up suckers and hopefully ya won't destroy your nerves by entering into any Black Friday shopping areas for your own sanity. We shall spend our Black Friday with Gwar, Every Time I Die and Warbeast, couldn't be a better plan!

Muddy Roots 2012 - Initial Lineup Announced

Looks as if we will be invading Cookeville, Tennessee once again on Labor Day weekend in 2012 for the third installment of the Muddy Roots Music Fest. If you are gathering up the plans and making arrangements for festivals next year, do yourself a favor and get out to this event. It is the perfect DIY festival and the location is beyond great. Now if they can add Hellbound Glory and Ronnie Hymes, we would be quite stoked as we will surely be bringing more folks from our roster in tow as well to party down.
  • The Reverend Horton Heat
  • Dale Watson
  • Wayne Hancock
  • Possessed By Paul James
  • T-Model Ford w/ Gravel Road
  • Joe Buck
  • Cutthroat Shamrock
  • Cletus Got Shot
  • Soda
  • Sean Wheeler y Zander Schloss
  • Husky Burnette
  • Rachel Brooke
  • Viva Le Vox
  • Reverend Deadeye
  • Hooten Hollars
  • The Calamity Cubes
  • James Leg
  • Peewee Moore
  • Scott McDougall
  • The Pine Box Boys
  • Left Lane Cruiser
  • Valerie June
  • The Atomic Duo
  • Molly Gene the One Whoaman Band
  • Hillbilly Casino
  • Immortal Lee County Killers
  • Pearls Mahone
  • Everymen
  • Filthy Still
  • Sarah Gayle Meech
  • Pine Hill Haints
  • Restavraunt
  • Jayke Orvis and the Broken Band
  • J.B. Beverly & The Wayward Drifters
  • Bob Wayne & The Outlaw Carnies
  • The Defibulators
  • Tom VandenAvond
  • Dad Horse Experience
  • The Cheatin’ Hearts
  • Last False Hope
  • Cashman
  • James Hunnicutt