"Are You On Acid?"- Sunburned Hand of the Man's "Mind of a Brother"
"This LP was entirely recorded in a converted warehouse loft studio at 7 Sherman Street in Charlestown, Massachusetts. The building was shaped rather like a ship, set just off Mystic Ave and, at the time, was surrounded by a junkyard filled with wrecked automobiles & decommissioned subway trolleys. The space was initiated and built out by Kristin Anderson & Phil Franklin as an art & screen printing studio/living space circa 1989. The building itself is known by some as "The Coffin Factory" - I have been told that it was built in the 19th century to manufacture coffins for the civil war dead, and was rumored to have been owned by the Wilkes family of (John Wilkes Booth infamy). I began to research these allegations and quickly grew bored, so I will leave them for you to corroborate if you desire. Kristin continued to operate the space after Phil's departure to San Francisco in the early 90's (where he became involved in Caroliner Rainbow among many other pursuits) and she designed & screened covers for several lovely LP & single sleeves (Michael Hurley's - National Weed Growers Association 7"; Matthew Bower & Richard Youngs –Site/Realm LP ; The No-Neck Blues Band – Hoichi LP and many more…). She began her own Poon Village label around 1993 and released a series of beautifully packaged, hand screened LPs & CDs including "Live at C.O.N. Artists" by Sun City Girls, which was recorded in concert at the 7 Sherman St space.
Side one (also tracks 1,2,3 & 5 on the original cd-r and download) were recorded in the summer of '97. Side two "Loveletter to Complicated Dreams" was recorded on April 19th 1998 as an excerpt from our performance at a free afternoon concert we held at 7 Sherman St along with No-Neck Blues Band and Egypt is the Magick #. The NNCK set was issued in its entirety as disc one of the "Birth of Both Worlds" 2xcd (Sound@one 46,47). A beautiful video of this performance was shot by Cousin Rich and has recently been unearthed; I hope it will be made available to the public soon. The impetus for this particular concert was to provide a space for the annual performance NNCK held on Orthodox Easter, which for reasons I can't recall, was unable to be held in NYC that year. This was perhaps the fifth in that series of annual concerts, all of which previously (and subsequently) were held on rooftops in Manhattan. A few years ago, NNCK published their entire back catalog digitally and invited different friends and acquaintances of the group to share written insights & memories of each of their releases on now defunct De Stijl Records. (I strongly urge anyone still reading these notes to consult this site for a much deeper dose of context regarding the entire era) (The De Stijl site seems to be taken down, unfortunately...ed). In his remembrance of “The Birth of Both Worlds”, John Fell Ryan of NNCK and Excepter describes our “loft space of epic bohemia” and the celebration that began Saturday evening when No-Neck arrived to Sherman St and continued thru the performances Sunday afternoon all the way until the cruel light of Monday morning cast its ugly glare. He recalled how on Saturday Night some swinging, polyvinyl & leather clad “sex lizards” accidentally stumbled into our all night jam session looking for the bi-weekly S&M orgy that was held on the floor above us. After some confusion they were sent upstairs and none of the drug addled beatniks among us mustered the courage to accept their invitation to investigate the fuck dungeon above. (Although, it should be noted that the sex lizards all returned the following afternoon to watch the concert).
In the tradition of the previous Orthodox Easter events, the music began on the rooftop. A brief introductory set/invocation was performed under a light rain by Adam Mortimer’s Egypt is the Magick # project featuring guests Darren “Catfish” Zoltowski on vocals & John Moloney on drums. NNCK began their performance under the drizzle and slowly unleashed a transcendental quagmire of audio/visual configuration. After 35 minutes their set was just entering cruise control & most likely would have elevated & levitated for another 90 minutes or more had some puritan in the building not called the police to stop the show. (A fate that befell several NNCK shows of this era). I was shocked at the unusual level of courtesy & patience the boys in blue displayed as each member of NNCK slowly became aware of their presence and stopped playing the other worldly music one by one. The cops even applauded along with the crowd of straggly drug vultures as the music faded out in a haze of pot smoke. “We don’t care what you do as long as you take it inside” said one lawman much to my stoned amazement. I can guarantee you that adjectives like tolerant or understanding are seldom used to describe Boston’s finest, but fate smiled upon us that Sunday.
Once everyone was safely sequestered back inside the loft, Sunburned set up in front of a packed house of about 75. The days of cellphone & internet ubiquity were still in the future & I had spent much of the afternoon answering the landline, telling audience members how to get to our clandestine location. Just moments before our set began, the telephone attached to the wall next to me rang and I answered it with my bass strapped on & plugged in and the whole group ready to play. It was Malcolm Mooney, the original vocalist for Can calling. He wanted me to give our mutual friend Frank van Dan Elzen the message that he was sorry but he wouldn’t be able to attend the party. I assured him that I would let Frank know & hung up the phone and we began playing the music that starts side 2 of this LP.
After the concert ended most of the crowd & some of the musicians departed leaving behind a crew of approximately 25 members of the Sunburned & NNCK inner circles & a few stragglers. One straggler, a strange, burly young Scotsman, who was a co-worker of Cousin Rich, was approaching people, asking (as J.F. Ryan noted) “Are you on acid?”. When one replied “No,” he would ask, “Do you want to be?” and procure his bottle of LSD for one’s inspection. From that point of the night on & forever more he would be known as “Liquid Andrew”. About 15 or so of the roughly 25 party people there went in for a dose and we spent the rest of the night tripping en masse. My memory for the rest of the evening is somewhat hazy but I can distinctly recall Chad Cooper asking me to stop playing my copy of the “Granfalloon” LP by Laser Pace (Takoma, R-9201) as the devious and psychotic prog/funk stylings of that particular album was making some of the heads nervous. It still remains one of my favorite records today.
Shortly after the concert, we compiled what we considered to be the finest of the previous summer’s recordings with a 20 minute excerpt from the Orthodox Easter performance. Kristin offered to create a cd-r only subsidiary of Poon Village (cd-r labels still being relatively novel in ’98) called Thrown to the Wind, specifically to release Mind of a Brother in an edition of 99 copies. The original press came in a jewel case and had a one panel booklet with a heavy matte finish and glossy interior. Released in ’98, this was the only Sunburned product until late 2000 when John Moloney started the Manhand label to release the Jaybird & Wild Animal cd-r’s. Additional copies of Mind of a Brother were released as cd-r’s on Manhand in the label’s traditional brown paper envelope with sticker for several years, but the total press (including the Thrown to the Wind run) was certainly less than 500 copies, probably closer to 300.
The material on the album was recorded in 1997 & ’98, often deep in the grip of acid flashes, and it really shows. Over the course of their nearly two-decade lifetime, Sunburned has been many things, but it’s easy to forget how spacily jazzoid and proggily psyched-out their initial gushes were. The music here is wildly explorative and crazily inventive, sharing a clear affinity with fellow travelers No Neck Blues Band. Indeed, the second edition of the CDR of this album was created to be sold on a 1999 tour which was No Neck, John Fahey and Sunburned. One can only shudder at the mere thought.
Anyway, this may well be one of the best Sunburned albums. It has a bizarre sweetness I never noticed in the band back then, because they always seemed like thugs underneath everything else. But you can really sense it here. And Rob Thomas’ excellent [4 page] liner notes attest to the benign flow of their early visions.
How nice to hear where this weird trip started."
-Byron Coley, 2015