Rock star

stomp-stammerIf you read this blog — oh wait, you do read this blog! — chances are, you’ve never heard of Gringo Star.  If you have, likely it’s only because you’ve seen their name painted on pallets, which are infrequently set up around town to promote their rock shows.  It’s interesting guerrilla marketing.  They’re a persistent Atlanta rock  band.

And they obviously take themselves seriously.  In fact, it’s plausible to assume that Gringo Star’s sense of self-importance may outshine its brainpower.  We know this because last month, members of Gringo Star reportedly took it upon themselves to systematically swipe stacks of a local magazine called Stomp and Stammer and throw them into dumpsters.  Why?  They’d gotten a bad review.

Odds are that you, a reader of this blog, have seen Stomp and Stammer but never read it.  Our advice:  Pick up a free copy next time you grab a copy of Creative Loafing.  (The two magazines often appear in stacks alongside each other in coffee houses, bars, independent record stores and lunch joints like Eats.)  Of the two, Stomp and Stammer is leaner and much more fun.

Jeff Clark is the editor / publisher / lead writer / ad sales guy / nearly one-man-band behind the monthly rag.  Briefly a 99X DJ, Clark founded his little magazine a decade or so ago, and managed to make it thrive– in spite of the antics of bands he’s pissed off.

Think it’s rough walking into a nest of freshly-bereaved, angry rednecks and asking for an interview about their recently-murdered kinfolk?  Ask Clark how many times he’s been threatened or sucker-punched in music clubs by drunk hipsters whose rock ‘n’ roll careers have been unhelpfully trashed in the pages of Stomp and Stammer.  Clark is an honest and merciless reviewer, with an emphasis on local music.  From the January issue:

“A soggy turd of spazzy tempos, shrill instrumentation, painful singing and zero imagination, the Drownouts’ five-song EP Paper Trails is an example of the depths some guys will dive to these days just to try and score a little pussy.  At least, I hope that’s their excuse.”

We don’t recall what he wrote about Gringo Star.  We suspect members of the Drownouts have Mr. Clark on their radar.

"We're number one!"  -Jeff Clark

"Hey- your record is number one!" -Jeff Clark, S&S

Hopefully, they’ll react with measured maturity and respect for a free press.  Or, in the manner of another Atlanta band called Attractive Eighties Women, also trashed in the pages of Stomp and Stammer.  Rather than assault him or steal his magazines, they wrote a song about Clark.  The refrain:  “Jeff Clark is a shithead.  He’s a goddamned son of a bitch…”  We watched them perform it at the Star Bar this month.  It was catchy.

Yet Clark’s magazine is unquestionably Georgia’s single-biggest institutional booster of current local music.  It’s almost always well-written.  Its articles are objective yet mostly upbeat, lavishing praise on music, bars, movies and other stuff he and his contributors like.  And it may be the only rock magazine in the world with a weird albeit lightly-applied right-wing political bent.  Don’t hold it against them.

How many local TV reporters can say they’ve had a song written about them?  (OK, we know of one, but it’s way obscure…)  Stomp and Stammer is a cool, local, underground jewel.  Among Atlanta reporters, the real rock star is a print guy they’ll never see at a police news conference or a city council meeting.  And he’s his own boss.

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About live apt fire

Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

14 thoughts on “Rock star

  1. scott hedeen

    Mr. Richards ? a little exposure of indy soul? A rare treat in the news world. People with musical tastes that are *edgy* if they put “Born To Be Wild” in a motorcycle story.

    Stomp and Stammer was a ticket for me. I moved from a cooler… smarter… friendlier scene in Baltimore and WashingtonDC (WDC …known to being inclusive and *intellectual* was upon my discovery after leaving…alot freaking cooler than the warmed over generation gaps that is Little 5 Points).

    Looking for music here was hard. The record stores… so few of them…were filled with yesterday’s rockers mixed with tomorrow’s tattoo removal doctor’s cashbox… i was flabergasted. Were was the cool?

    S and S had some. I was happy. I read it… enjoyed it… then i heard the stories. “Jeff Clark is a donkey… Jeff Clark is a dick….” Bad reviews for local acts… bad actions at local clubs…. seems Stomp and Stammer… stomped all over alot of their reader base.

    Now… don’t get me wrong… I love the shake up. I love the gimme sumpthin good before i worship you attitude. I just feel like S and S is that record store guy, smirking at you as you ask whether Cheap Trick’s “Heaven Tonight” has been reissued yet or not.

    Gringo Star…. horrible name by the way…. (btw… Gringo Superstar would be better… so would Gringo Starr… with another R by the way…. rule of thumb… making fun of another *famous* person’s name never got any band anywhere. )..stealing his mags? Kinda punk doncha think? I see Darby Crash doing that… I see Sonic Youth writing a song called “I killed Christgau with my big f*ckin dick” cos they got a bad review. I see ignoring S and S…and letting the copies just sit. Soon they will be replaced with car mags and massage parlor ads.

    Today I was in a CD store …in Kennesaw… one with people who are actually ok…and saw the cover of the latest Stomp and Stammer. The Long Ryders? Talk about putting yrself out there for being passed by. Sid Griffin’s group was a throw back to a Byrd’s LA …LOVE/burritos/Nerves … still never crossing over and appealing. Stomp and Stammer’s stance is like this one… we are what we are…and there. Just get ready for copies of yr mag to get stolen.

    (now… Beatle records got burned…2 Live Crew sold millions…and Jeff Clark hated my Van Halen review i sent him… “not funny” he told me. it wasnt supposed to be funny… it’s Van Halen! oh wait… nevermind.)

    POSTNOTE… Mr. Hedeen’s copy is never proof read …nor is it meant for public consumption. He is now in *treatment* for vinyl poisoning…and over exposure to television microwaves. He lives in a tree in Mineral Bluff Ga.)

  2. Doogie

    As with everything, it’s easy to be a critic and tear everyone else down – much harder to actually create something. Mr. Clark seems adept at trying to make everyone else look small – has he ever created anything that will improve one person’s life, or have any lasting artistic merit? Seems more likely to me simply that a lot of trees have died needlessly.

    Music, especially, is little more than fashion and fad, but if Mr. Clark is so qualified to be the arbiter of what’s good and bad, let’s hear a little of the music he’s written. I’m sure it’s profound.

  3. Doogie

    And by the way, Mr. hedeen, you shouldn’t always believe the things you read. And “Rockstar” you shouldn’t report everything you hear.

  4. live apt fire Post author

    Doogie– thanks for checking in. I think we’re gonna disagree though. Interesting writing in a cool magazine is every bit as worthwhile as a well-done musical performance. No music writer has to be a musician, any more than a sportswriter has to be a jock or a political writer has to be a politician.

    And Clark doesn’t “tear everyone down” or try “to make everyone else look small.” The magazine is mostly a music lovefest. I would respectfully recommend that you pick up a copy and actually read it.

  5. scott hedeen

    i worked in tv news… i believe nothing.

    the best part of Stomp and Stammer has to be David T Lindsey. The man has been anti the anti for so many years… he’s almost ready to be label “homegrown”

    doug… on my blog…the “lame” one. i just declared the PUNKEST moment ever!

  6. Doogie

    I have read Stomp and Stammer. I find that much of the time, what is passed as humor is making fun of people who are at least trying to create something. I agree that “interesting writing in a cool magazine” can be as artistic and creative and worthwhile as a music performance or recording, but I don’t find Mr. Clark’s writing to fit that category. That’s not to say that some critics don’t have insight and talent, or that Mr. Clark can’t write. It’s just that most critics seem to me to be people who sit and snipe, which is easy, rarely do any real homework, and have little to offer except sarcasm and nastiness thought to be irony and analysis. Sorry, but I just haven’t noticed the latter in Mr. Clark’s writing.

  7. scott hedeen

    “typewriter bangers on..theyre all just hangers on”

    Pete Townshend’s take on critics… then he went and put out “Face Dances” and “it’s hard” ick. … so you tell me?

    as for rock critics… Lester Bangs made fun… but still the basis of his writings was his humility.

  8. m

    As with most things in the music scene, there’s more to the story then a bad review. But that’s best discussed over a beer…

  9. mike daly

    Every day is a Carolyn Day.

    [ Nailed it! I was wondering if anybody would. I figured the composer of that song would pipe up, at least. — LAF ]

  10. pbassjoe

    To whose who diss JC:
    Because you are “local musicians who suck” and he is a lowly writer/editor/publisher, I guess you’ve never heard him playing the gamelon gong on the Balinese “Ketjak: Ramayana Monkey Chant” (look it up) or his brilliant bong hits on the Brian Jones produced “Pipes of Pan at Joujouka”.
    Disclaimer: If any of you “musicians” would like me to distribute your own publication (circulation 20,000+ only, like um, S+S) please gimme a call – I distribute Zines, might as well throw your bundles in the truck. Hey Doogie hoser, are you in Gringo Starbucks?

  11. Pingback: 10 Atlanta media moments, 2009 « live apartment fire

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