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Album Review – Romperayo e DJ Tudo + Sua Gente de Todo Lugar- “Rhythmic Emancipation”
We are going with some world sounds for this review and I am really pleased that I found this album when I was checking out the releases from the Names You Can Trust label out of Brooklyn, New York. It may be outside of even the wide-ranging path I follow when listening but that is exactly what I love about exploring music. There is so much out there, so many great rhythms, melodies, different textures, influences and cultures to experience. I also often have my Joe Strummer moments and I can definitely see Joe sitting around listening to this record and enjoying some of the sounds.
This starts off with “Los Mariguano Boys” and I really like the drum rhythms that lead off in this track. It has a nice, pulsing beat to it that gives it some fun and flair. That leads into the next song, “Guaracha Campesina Proletaria,” which is just as nice of a rapid tempo dance number as the name implies. There is a really nice melody line in here, which I believe is delivered on guitar. There are some subtle changes in tone that also lend some depth. Right about the 1:30 mark some great horns kick in and catch your attention. There has always been something about that combination that has peaked my interest and this selection is a great example of the reason for that feeling.
“La Macumba” is the third selection and I believe the title references a folk religion although I admit I did not have time to look into it further before writing this post. There is some nice vocal work at the beginning accompanied by the cowbell and then the horns come in to layer in a little mystery. I really like the trumpets that you can find in the 1:30 to 1:55 range of this track. The final song is “Encuentro” and I am still trying to work out the sound that lies underneath the horns at the beginning. The slower tempo of this arrangement gives you a real sense of anticipation. The military style drum beat leads some structure that plays off the horns in an odd but alluring way. My only complaint here is that I feel this one runs just a little too long.
Overall I really enjoyed this album and the music is just right for a late evening get together or a mid-afternoon at the pool and beach. There is also some nice artwork on the album cover.
As I stated above, I picked this up via Names You Can Trust and you can check out their other releases at https://nyctrust.bandcamp.com.
As always, if you have the opportunity, please get out and support your local music and artists – community is powerful !
Cruising around the inter-webs last week I happened upon this recent release and gave the first two songs a quick listen. They intrigued me and I searched out some information on Dave, learning that he is (or was?…maybe he graduated:) a student in the jazz studies program at Toronto’s Humber College. As always, these kinds of folks intrigue me as I have had my own fun trying to explore music theory and the many mysteries of making good sounds. It was then that I knew I had to hear this entire release…both for my own enjoyment and also education. I figure if nothing else, hearing tunes put together by a legit music scholar could only be a good thing. Here are my thoughts….
The first selection, “19.11.10” is the star of this record in my opinion. There is something both triumphant and haunting about this song. The music brings the high points (especially the drum line), carefully offset by the more melancholy lyrics. I love the bass line that grinds along underneath and several unique sounds off the keys, random but appropriate. The vocals take over a bit around 3:05 and provide an uplifting, if slightly chaotic, conclusion.
“Pre and Post” follows this and starts in a fairly simple way before shifting tone at the 1:50 mark. That change elevates the atmosphere of the music significantly while still leaving the straightforward lyrical structure running underneath. Then, rather suddenly about 90 seconds later, everything changes again when the guitar sounds come in by themselves. Some nice effects also provide literal howling instrumental sounds in this section. The two parts of this track seem disparate to me although I figure I may be setting myself up for a music lecture…some connection that I do not understand. I’ll happily take the lecture as a learning opportunity 🙂
That selection is followed by “Like A Bull,” and I really like the synth melody here and there is a rather disconcerting Vox effect that lends a nice amount of depth to the atmosphere of this track. This is the song on the album I am a little bit indifferent about although there is really something about the cacophony that begins around 2:55. It is very interesting and I do like the guitar work in this section although you have to hunt to find it under the mix in some parts.
Next up is “One Foot Above” which features a pulsing feedback effect over a booming monotone kick drum. It works very well over simple yet elegant lyrics such as: “When do you think the world will end, when the water’s been dry for longer than we remember.” I do feel that the middle part of this track goes on a little bit too long and loses some of its impact along the way. There also is a vocal effect that I am not certain works well from the listener perspective anyway. The upside of this middle part though it that it really builds some tension. And that leads to the 4:30 mark. The guitar here is terrific and releases all that built up suspense while some fantastic atmospheric effects really crash into you. Around one minute of awesomeness follows ..and then this song once again gets a little bit strange.
The penultimate offering is “Zalazac Sunca.” There is, perhaps unsurprisingly given the title, something a little bit summery about this song. It is simple and clean also and has a lilting sway to it that will leave you humming along long after you have stopped listening.
The album finishes up with a demo track called “Folk Riff,” which is a simple but nicely put together piece of music. I really like the track separation on the two guitar parts as it conveys a nice duality if you are listening closely. Some additional background and atmosphere begins after the first two and a half minutes which expand the tone of this song beyond its simple, folksy beginning.
This is a really nice overall listen and I would definitely recommend checking it out. The arrangements are so interesting and I am picking up nuances each time I give it another whirl. If you are so inclined, pay attention to the layering within each song as there is some hidden gems to discover. I also suspect there are some lessons in there …for me at least.
You can check out this and related music from David at his Bandcamp page https://davehjin.bandcamp.com.
Please remember to support your local music and artists – community is powerful.
Album Review – DEHD – “Water”
Sometimes I pause as I am flipping through my music collection, whether it be vinyls, CD’s, digital, etc and have the lucky pleasure of being reminded of a past sonic discovery. My most recent happy moment came after I loaded “all songs” in my digital library and then flicked a finger across my trackpad several times, letting the selections scroll past like slot machine symbols. The screen landed squarely on DEHD’s releases and most particularly their 2019 release “Water.” So yes, we are going back in time for this one even though they do have a more recent, and very fine release, called “Flowers of Devotion.” Backwards to a good memory…
The first time I heard a song off of this record it was “On My Side” and that song has remained a regular visitor to my listening experience, mostly via inclusion on several playlists. It has a warm, familiar feeling when I hear it, one of those fuzzy songs from the past. Even the disconcerting delivery of the lyric “time is on my side,”…works perfectly within the tonal structure of this track. I have also often found myself thinking that this song would somehow have fit in perfectly on the “Pretty in Pink” soundtrack or maybe even “Sid & Nancy”…dated references I know but let me know what you think?
Jumping back to the first track of the album, it leads off with “Wild,” a simple word that is conveyed repeatedly through the song over a demanding, almost breathless drum beat. Next up is “Lucky,” which has a simple, clean start with a nice melody and a notable, and I think very effective, vocal change at the end ….”I long to be, I long to be, I long to be lucky.”
The next track starts very abruptly and features one of my favorite lyrics from this album, “never looking back, oh my baby, a heart attack waits for me when I dream of days past.” That is just good writing if you ask me; stark, clear and evocative. I also like the way the lyrical lines are layered over the guitars ..it is messy but really good.
This is followed by “Do You” and then “Wait,” which has a unique combination of styles and swaying rhythms. The punchy guitar on this one does the job of accentuating the lyrics very well. The vocal differences also play off each other effectively in this composition. The next track is “On My Side” (already discussed) and then “Sunbeat,” which has a cacophony of sounds that mix with a singular drum beat…and works so well in some odd, unexplainable way.
Coming up next on this album is “Push the Crowd,” which has a happy-toned beat that is hiding a darker message. There is also a secondary lyric that knocks around in the background, part of the time in sync with the main lyric and at other times different. I have never quite puzzled out the entirety of that secondary piece which leaves me feeling a little short of understanding. An ongoing mission for the future I guess…
The next three songs are; “Love Calls” (which is the only miss on this release for me as it seems detached and something with which I could not find a connection), “Lake” (I love the guitar in this one), and “Happy Again” (the second song I ever heard by DEHD and one that I believe is a great example of the style and sound for this band).
The next track is my favorite on this record. “Long Way Home” has a bit of the Blasters wrapped up in it (especially in the guitar sound) and is stylistically different from the other songs on “Water”.” The album then finishes up with the eponymous track which is classic DEHD and conveys that special combination of comfort and discord that for me is the foundation of what makes them unique. Those two effects come in waves throughout the song as it switches tone and the simple drum underneath holds all of it together.
Overall, the is a great record and continues to have an impression on me much the same as it did when I first heard it – no one sounds like this band. Their songs are mostly short, direct and have a tone and atmosphere that belongs solely to DEHD.
If you are so inclined, check out their music and info on their Bandcamp page https://dehdforever.bandcamp.com
And please remember to support your local artists and bands – community is powerful!
So, I was kicking around Bandcamp looking at Michigan artists and came across this album by Citizen. I have to admit, I had not heard of them before despite what I later discovered were several very solid prior releases. Having listened through a few times to this one, here are my thoughts …
They kick this off with “Death Dance Approximately”, which earns an immediate place on my list of fantastic song names. Right at the beginning there is a very brief organ sound…which for some reason I think is great. There are some tempo changes in this song that work really well and the drum is especially effective. Listen to the lyrics also as they are notable. One line that really caught me was, “I beat myself down until I cave in, I will pry and I will claw just to be heard.” It really evokes an internal struggle for me.
The bare bones drums that are in “I Want to Kill You” are great as is the guitar work on this tune. The beat here will certainly get you hopping along! Listen for the unique guitar right around the 2:25 mark – fascinating.
“Blue Sunday,” provides a nice down-shift from the first two songs and the Vox effect here plays very well with the tone and message in the music. There is really good atmosphere in this song and the cleaner guitar that comes in around 1:47 provides a good counter-punch to the other tones.
When “Thin Air” begins, the few few seconds of it have my brain scrambling as it immediately brings to mind some other song…which as of this writing I have still failed to come up with. That is not to cast any shadows here on Citizen, as the remainder of this song is all their own. There is a lyric line within, “I remember when you used to say that it’s time that complicates you,” which really caught me and gave me something to ponder..
The next selection, “Call Your Bluff,” has a solid, quick beat at the beginning that really builds anticipation and is combined with some poignant lyrics to make this a strong part of the album. I really liked the big sounds toward the end.
“Pedestal” is next, and all I can say is that …I really like the stark drum and the chanting lyric style…but the song kind of lost me along the way. As per usual, that usually means I missed something and I hope that you can find it when you listen.
You can definitely put on your dancing shoes (or boots…) for “Fight Beat” which has a great groove line right from the start and very interesting atmospherics. It is followed by “Black and Red,” which is the only song on this record with which I could not find any connection. On “Pedestal” I had the beat and style that I could hang onto but this selection left me behind completely. When that happens I do try to figure out why and in this case I think it is the range of styles within the song. Individually I like those pieces; however the arrangement here is just a little too chaotic for me.
Next up is “Glass World.” It has a great guitar sound at the beginning with a drum that cuts in between which really sets a solid foundation. The pacing on this song, which is on the slower end for the record in general, is very effective in delivering the tone and mood. That is followed by “Winter Buds” which, rather appropriately, has a melancholy ambiance and is lyrically very strong.
A very effective and fitting end-cap for this release is provided by “Edge of the World.” It has a driving beat that coveys an anxious energy throughout the middle part of the song.
Overall, this an album worthy of a buy and much listening. This band plays tight and brings a distinct style to this recording. This is some combination of emo- dance and punk that is very effectively stitched together. Although you can hear the various influences throughout, they blend them together well and make their own sound from those disparate pieces. They also have a knack, even on slower paced songs, for providing a lingering dance beat just below the surface almost waiting to explode. It does not always show itself, but it is there and gives you a sense of anticipation.
You can check out info and music from Citizen on their Bandcamp page https://citizenmi.bandcamp.com
Please remember to support your local bands, musicians and artists – community is powerful!
Sometimes there can be a comforting nostalgia in listening to a set of music that brings you back to a previous period in your life. That nostalgia can be lost loves & friends, some pivotal moment in your development or maybe a trip to a special place. When I found the Liquids release “Life Is Pain” and clicked on that first track…well, I was transported instantly back in time to when I was around seventeen. That is not to say that this album is mired in some old-time groove or a mere throwback to the 1980’s. Instead, this record takes those punk rhythms and hooks that I grew up with and gives them some new life without sacrificing that connection to the past. How many nights did I spend crammed into a small basement, wandering around an abandoned house or slam-dancing in someone’s back yard?…well, it was a lot for sure. The Liquids bring me back there…
I’m two blocks away or so, a late arrival as always, trying to negotiate pushing three cans of Schlitz Malt into the inside pocket of my jean jacket. I can hear the band already even this far away. “When You Were Born (You Should’ve Died) is a fitting start to the night. It is a classic punk sound. A few minutes later I have managed to make it to the backyard of the party house, all the more obvious from the group of young adults hanging out in the alley. A thick cloud of cigarette smoke hovers over everything. The band has switched into “Don’t Wanna Get to Know You,” as I pay my three dollars to the husky guy guarding the door into the garage. He shrugs when I ask him if there is more than one band playing tonight, probably unable to hear me anyway. I step in and spend the next few minutes listening. “All U Say” has a great drum beat and then “More Thana Friend” really catches my ear. I like the composition of it, different enough from the usual punk delivery to be notable, mostly on some of the guitar interludes.
Two young ladies push past me, one looking like she is ready to puke, the other ready to fight. There is a brief lull in the music and then the drums kick back in and I immediately think “Topper Headon?” It is not him of course but the sound is similar and I can almost pick up a Clash song rambling around inside “Werewolves.” Having managed to finish my cans of Schlitz I decide to get involved and start pushing my way into the crowd. The short & sweet “You’re Burning” is playing as I start talking to two people I recognize from the record store but then “Weak” kicks up and drowns out all conversation. I settle for letting that great punk rock guitar wash across my body and start jumping as it is followed by “Violent.” As that song crashes out to completion I am expecting a quick follow-on but instead …I am met with “Tryin’.” This is one of those moments in a show when you are either crushed by the change of pace or elevated. And tonight it is definitely elevating. It comes at just the right time to provide that sound break from the driving music and allows you to find a little bit of space. I coast along through that song and then am slam-dancing along with the pack through “Think Too Much,” and “Strutter.” A bit to my confusion though, the dancing stops right after that song. The crowd seems to be turning the attention directly to the band. I ask a quick, “What’s up?” to the girl next to me but only receive, “You’re a Punk” as a reply. I’m three seconds into feeling flattered when the song starts and I soon get the message. That’s the name of the song.
Many bands have that one song that everyone clicks with, the sing-along song, the fist-raising song, the band or crowd anthem. “You’re a Punk” is as timeless as they come in that regard. I catch the feel of it pretty quickly and can at least shout the chorus right along with everyone else. After a band break following that song they come back in with “Lemon Rice (Doomed to Live)” which has a nice change in style at the beginning. It reminds me a bit of early Ramones songs circa “Rocket to Russia.” After that, Liquids jams along through four more songs before kicking into another obvious crowd favorite called “Night the Lights Went Out.” This is another good sing-along and I join in once I pick up the lyrics before wandering outside to look for a cigarette.
It is nighttime but after the closeness and dark corners of the garage it feels lighter to me that it really is and I lean against a loose chainlink fence. The chanting call of “Life of Oi” filters out as I am bumming a smoke from a tall, lanky kid in a neat plaid shirt. He looks a little bit out of place but everyone seems to know him and wave as they pass us. We talk through the next four songs which seem to be standard punk-style although there is a unique squealing guitar on “Defeat.” Plaid-shirt motions to me as “11 am” finishes and tells me I should go back in to check out the next song. My quizzical look is answered with, “Bat Outta Hell.” Interested, I wander back in and hear Liquids run through a very nice cover of the the song, albeit only the first two verses…which may be better anyway…that is a very long song.
I stay through the end of the set including “Zilch” (my favorite of the night) and the final song a 59 second blast called “Bottomless Pit.” It turns out they are the only ones playing that night and much of the crowd starts filtering out while I push my way forward. As usual, I talk to the band for a few minutes and then wander out into the night again. Picking my way back home later thought the city streets I know that I heard some good music this night. Liquids delivered some classic punk sounds while skillfully incorporating other influences like rockabilly and rock. All is well 🙂
You can check this and more info / music from Liquids on their Bandcamp page https://liquids1.bandcamp.com
As always, please go out and support local art and music – community is powerful 🙂
Album Review – Willie Waldman Project “Total Improv”
When I saw this pop up as a new release on Bandcamp about a month ago I was happy for two reasons: one being that I have heard Willie and his assorted musicians in the past and loved it, and also…improv is a great way to experience music. I have been listening to it for about a month now and offer my thoughts here:)
First off, I like the cover art – there is something whimsical about, simple even but it still really portrays the idea of improv in an abstract way…if you ask me anyway!
The album kicks off with “Exodus” and hits you early on with some great guitar work and a simple but complimentary back beat. It is an enjoyable song to listen to although it has an underlying nervous energy. Right near the mid-point the music plays around with soaring toward the great heights of openness and then crashing back into a valley of horns and guitar. Also some parts of it sound to me like a very loud, obnoxious train departing for some far-off land… and I mean that in a good way!
A great counter-point follows, with “Misty Night” coming across much more softly and lending you some cool down time after the charging sounds of “Exodus”. There is some really great trumpet playing here also along with a catchy drum sound that I always think of as a “club beat.” Listening to it evokes a scene of walking along a river in some urban setting, maybe a few water taxis rolling by as the bars close up around 3 am…the night is winding down and it’s been good one. Even though “Exodus” is a close second-place, this song is my favorite on this album.
Arriving next is “Carnival”, for me the only so-so song on this release. It feels more all-over-the-place than it needs to (even for improv) and also is the longest song. That may be a contributing factor in my opinion because some parts of it I really liked, such as the guitar that comes in around 2:40, but overall it just went on too long for me.
The next song, “Lightspeed” has some extremely effective clarinet at the beginning that lends a throaty vibe to the music. You can really pick out the separate instruments on this selection and I particularly liked the Tabula peeking through the background of the sound. It is a chill tune, good for pondering or exploring the universe. Even when it picks up the pace in some sections (starting around the two minute mark) it still maintains an underlying calmness from the bass guitar notes. Groovy party music for the lounge after the warp drive is engaged 🙂
Speaking of the Tabula, welcome it warmly at the opening of “Firestorm” as it lends a distinct Middle Eastern vibe that carries through the entire first half of this song. About midway through the tone changes to something more experimental although the Tabula remains in place. And then, with about two minute remaining, along comes a great collection of sounds and notes colliding to provide a dramatic, if somewhat unsettling section prior to a smooth exit on the trumpet.
The final two pieces on this record are “The Loon,” and “Wood”. While the first of these is light and airy, the final song is a very classic jam and a fitting end-piece to this fine release. Every time I listen to “Wood” I can picture myself sitting around in a comfortable, familiar place with friends and collaborating in the way that these musicians do. We might not hit is as well as these talented people…but it would be great fun!
I also want to note that throughout this record there is some really great bass guitar work that lends a solid foundation to the tracks. It also takes a more prominent role on some songs (a fine example being “Wood”) and delivers great grooves. “Total Improv” is an overall solid listen that gave me (so far) a month of enjoyment with very regular listening. The compositions are expansive and I found myself discovering nuances each time I played it. I encourage you to check it out!
You can visit their Bandcamp page at https://williewaldmanproject.bandcamp.com to listen to this record and find out more about the band.
Please remember to support your local musicians and artists, during these challenging times and always. Community is powerful 🙂
As I was casting about for new music this week I ended up looking toward Michigan and came upon the recent release by Detroit’s The Tellways which is titled Out To The Cosmos. I gave it a listen and came away impressed by the composition of the music and the nice way that they weave Motown and R&B influences in with island sounds. Soul and reggae music have always had a subtle equivalency to me and those parallels are evident within the music on this record.
The lead-off track is “Anxious” and it is a good listen with a slightly (and appropriately) nervous undertone, simple yet poignant message and some very nice horns 🙂
The next song is “Keepin’ Me Up” and you can definitely hear those Motown influences within the music. That call-back to soul and R&B was evident within the first minute and yet was still subtle enough to blend in well with the Caribbean rhythms.
“Believe Them The First Time” has a slow, soothing flow to it and delivers a direct and simple message. I really liked how the horns were woven in here also and the way they provided accents to the other instrumentation on this song. I have listened several times and this remains my favorite on this album.
That is followed by “I Don’t Need To Tell You” and “Cool And Luke” which flow nicely within the album although I did not think they were especially notable other than the beginning to “Cool Hand Luke.”
When I read the title of the next track, “Space Force,” I was not sure what direction it was going to take…and I am still not 100% sure of its underlying intent. Humor? Sarcasm? It remains a mystery to me but I did find the line, “we brought our own water,” to at least be quite funny.
“Tellway Stomp” is a feel good song celebrating the band’s sound and positive influence and is followed by “You’re Really Something (2020)”, another track where you can really hear the R&B vibes. The next three songs (“Closer – 2020”, “Let Me In -2020” and “Friendly -2020”) are solid inclusions, with the middle track of the three being the standout. It runs a close second-place for my favorite song on the album.
The album closes out with “Bow To Your Sensei (2020)” which is a very good (mostly) instrumental track with solid composition that includes horns, and some great guitar and bass. It feels a little heavy when listening but puts a nice finishing touch on “Out To The Cosmos” and sent me away feeling good 🙂
Overall I really like this band and what they bring instrumentally and with their direct lyrics. When you listen to this record is comes across mostly as a reggae / ska mix but you definitely find yourself with several pleasing, “Wait, what was that?,” type moments. And it will certainly get you feeling groovy and dancing!
You can check out all of The Tellways music and info at their Bandcamp page https://thetellways.bandcamp.com
And please remember to support your local music scene, musicians and artists. Community is powerful 🙂
The Arches just released a new album called “Abandoned” – I checked it out and here are my thoughts 🙂
First of all – that cover art is great and especially eye-catching to me as I am an “urban decay and abandoned industrial things” photographer myself. Check out their Bandcamp page for a higher resolution photo – It is quite a stark image. I also think there is a mysterious cat lurking in one of those upstairs portholes…or an extremely large rat…what you do think?
The set starts out with “Just Killing Time” which has a slight haunting quality to it, especially as the lyrical refrain “I know you’re no good, I know you’re no good for me,” floats over the music. This is probably the most “pop” song on the album although I suspect The Arches may not be aiming for pop notoriety…it just struck me that way when I listened to it.
There are some good drum beats on the next track “Rise UP” which gives it an “anthem you can dance to” feeling. That song then bleeds over well into “Mikola.” It is one of those great transitions that I always try to put into playlists I make…they just fit next to each other. Now, I have no idea what that word means or what meaning it might have to the band…but do not look it up on Urban Dictionary if you are a PG-rated person!
The next track, “Baby Face Assassin,” is a music-only number that really caught my attention. It had me making up my own lyrics, albeit a simple “there’s a baby face assassin coming for me, and I think that it’s time to leave” as I closed my eyes and got a little lost in the composition.
The next two songs were the toughest part of the record for me. “Apocalypsing” really had me scratching my head a bit…although that usually means I missed the point so I suspect some of you out there will love it. The following track “Stuck in a Loop” has a kind of eerie discordance inside of it running alongside a very pleasant keyboard melody. It left me feeling just a little bit uneasy.
The album finishes up with “Time Will Tell’ (a dreamy atmospheric type song) and “Mikola Outro” which sends you on your way in a contemplative mood, possibly feeling slightly lost and thoughtful. It had that effect on me anyway.
Overall, this is an interesting record which delivers a variety of emotions as you listen to it. It clocks in at a tight and well-composed twenty-one minutes. On their Bandcamp site for this album The Arches comment that, “There is beauty in loss and abandonment, in everything.” These songs delivered a sense of that beauty while also leaving me just a little bit uneasy.
You can check out more on The Arches and buy this album and other music at their Bandcamp page https://the-arches.bandcamp.com/music
Support your local music and artists – community is powerful 🙂
Yes, I know that I am late to the news on this one but I just had the opportunity to listen to the recent release “Thank you, Dancers!” from the Slim Dunlap Band. This epic was recorded April 27, 2002 at the Turf Club (and as you folks know…I do love the Turf Club 🙂 and really presents a good feeling of what it was like to see Slim and the band in concert. A nice, easy familiar feeling that makes you feel good. Go somewhere and listen to this music – it’s on Bandcamp and I am certain other places also. If you want a place to start check out Breeder’s Cannonball or Busted Up.
The next morning Leo was not feeling much better but had pretty much given up on complaining to the jail personnel. On the 18th U.S Marshals came to get him and moved him over to their holding cell at the federal building in downtown Minneapolis. They did think he looked ill enough to call for a doctor though and Leo received some medical attention prior to his preliminary hearing on October 19th. After that he was transported back to the Hennepin County jail to await his next court appearance. He did not eat anything on the 20th and by that evening, when he met with his lawyer, his skin was noticeably grey. The attorney was concerned and offered to arrange for some medical treatment but Leo had other things to discuss.
“Have you talked to my wife?” he asked in a soft, low voice.
“I tried, I really did. But she isn’t at the house and it looks like most of the things inside are gone. I peeked in a few windows when no one answered, ya know? Looked cleared out and the neighbors said a moving truck was there a few days ago.”
“No notes or nothing?”
“Nothing Leo. And I tried your sister but, well, quite frankly she doesn’t want anything to do with you. You sure about not wanting a doctor? I can get one in here. You look like hell.”
“Ah, it’s too late,” Leo replied with a feeble wave of his hand, “not much time left I don’t think. We need to talk about that guy I told you about, that bomb-maker. You gotta help find him and bring him in. Here’s a few,”
“Listen,” the lawyer interjected, “I know you are fired up about finding this guy. Right now, let’s just try to get you into a medical ward, ok? I think we need to focus on your case and getting you better also.”
“It don’t matter about me right now, I gotta make sure someone gets that guy.”
“I’ll be back in touch Leo, right now I have to go see another client,” the lawyer replied and quickly gathered up papers into his briefcase.
“It ain’t gonna be ok I tell ya,” Leo muttered, “you gotta get this info from me now.”
“I’ll get it next time, ok?”
Then the man was gone and the jail guards took Leo back to his cell where he collapsed into his hard bunk and fell asleep. He did not line up for the morning roll call on the 21st and a guard found him semi-alert in his bed. They left him lying there through breakfast and then, when he did not want to get up to go to lunch, forcibly carried him from his cell to the meal line. Munching his way slowly through a ham sandwich Leo sat alone at the edge of a table. They also had to carry him back to his cell when meal time was over and the guard who closed his cell door turned back to speak to him.
“You’re making this all harder than it needs to be Humbert,” the guard said, “you ain’t gonna make any friends here if we have to carry you to every damn meal.”
Leo sighed first, then replied, “I’m sick, you know that right. It’s pretty damn obvious if you look at me. Maybe one of you should finally get me a doctor.”
“I heard about you complaining about being sick and I’ll agree you look it. I thought they were getting you one? That should’a happened already.”
“Well, it didn’t,” Leo answered, “and I doubt it will. I don’t think anyone here is listening.”
The guard ambled away without a reply to that and Leo drifted off to sleep. He did get himself up for dinner and although he did not eat much that seemed to make the guards happy. He made a phone call that evening attempting to reach his lawyer and wrote a short note that was later found in his cell. The contents of that note have never been revealed although it is thought to have been directed to his attorney. On the 22nd Leo continued to comply with getting himself up for meals and tried several more times to reach his lawyer. After the evening meal he played two hands of cribbage in the common area and then went back to his cell.
At 6:52 pm jail guard Henry Willis, who had been working there for nine years, announced that he was going on his break a few minutes early. Due to another guard having left sick a few hours earlier, and no replacement being available, this left just one guard on-duty at the front desk area of the jail. That guard, Jerry Timmons, had only been working there for three months, having just come off his probationary period of employment.
“Yeah sure thing Henry, I’ll keep the place in shape for ya,” he replied to Willis’ announcement.
Ten minutes later a man entered through the side door, a way that official persons, deputies and medical staff usually used to access the jail. The man, past middle-age and about six feet tall displaying wisps of sandy blonde hair under a large brim fedora, walked up to the desk and announced he was a doctor.
“Ah, hello. I don’t recall seeing any orders up about a medical visit,” Timmons replied. “You sure you’re in the right place?”
“I am,” the man replied and then stood silently, green eyes blinking back at the guard.
“Ok, well, I’ll look again. Who are you here to see?”
“Some sick prisoner obviously, I think they said his name was Homberg.”
Timmons was looking through the daily log book and other papers but thought he recognized the name. “Humbert? Leo Humbert?”
“Yeah, sounds right,” the man replied while glancing at his pocket watch. “How about you let me in to see him before any more of my night gets wasted?”
“I still don’t see it here, you know, the order for a medical on Humbert. It’s always in here.”
“Ok kid, no offense, but I come here all the time. I don’t recognize you, so maybe you’re new. But they sent me to see this guy so let’s just get it over with, ok? It’s probably damn indigestion anyways.”
Timmons glanced down at the orders book again, up at the doctor, over to the door and then back at the doctor. The man had a resigned, nonchalant look on his face and did not raise any of the young guards suspicions. After several more seconds Timmons let him in, forgetting to have the doctor sign the official visitor log.
“I’ll walk you down doctor, just hang on until my partner gets back, ok?”
“What’s the cell number? I can just walk down there and ask him a few questions. Like I said, it’s probably indigestion.”
“Well, yeah, it’s 104.”
The doctor walked off at a brisk pace once Timmons opened the interior cell walkway door for him and was surprisingly back at the same gate about two minutes later, rapping his knuckles again the bars. Timmons hurried over to let him back through to the secured area.
“That was very fast doctor. Is he ok?”
“Oh yes, he’s just fine. Quite a faker. I’m going to return to my own dinner now if that’s ok with you,” the doctor replied, gesturing toward the secured exit door.
“Of course, yes sir. Hope you have a good night,” Timmons replied cheerfully and unlocked the door.
Ten minutes later Henry Willis returned, realized something unusual had taken place in his absence and rushed down to Leo’s cell. He found him lying on the floor, gasping for breath and with his eyes starting to roll back into his head. He opened the cell and went in to attempt to help but when he leaned down Leo grabbed his shirt and hissed into his ear.
“Remember that hotel fire, 1940, it was murder, look up the clock-maker. Find him.”
After that declaration Leo become unresponsive and he died a few hours later at the hospital. The official cause of death was never released although allusions to it being related to diabetic shock were made in the press and by jail authorities.
Leo Humbert, a historical curiosity and a bit on an enigma, was buried on October 26, 1967 at Sunset Memorial Park. Amanda faded into historical obscurity and Stanley Bittenhopper was never caught or heard from again.
For those of you who want to know, this is the article that started this long journey along with a few other documents relating to the story of Leo Humbert’s life.