captain beefheart, 1941-2010

captain beefheart (don van vliet) circa 1982

captain beefheart (don van vliet) circa 1982

Stumble upon some vintage interview footage of Don Van Vliet (there is a ton of it on youtube) and one might suspect the gnomish, wide eyed visage glancing from underneath a broad brimmed hat housed a presence that didn’t seem quite of our time. You would be correct in that assumption, too.

For decades, the man known to audiences of outer fringe rock ‘n’ roll as Captain Beefheart oversaw a brand of electric music full of keen, askew grooves that offered often incantatory express routes to the avant garde.

He was jazz. He was punk. He was the blues. He was musical abstraction and animation in the extreme. He was, in truth, an original. Van Vliet died Friday at the age of 69, after having been retired from performance work for over a quarter century. Active as an expressionist painter in later years, he intermittingly lived as a recluse in the Mojave Desert. For much of the past two decades, he also battled multiple sclerosis.

Van Vliet’s music was defined by 1969’s Trout Mask Replica album – a modernist quilt of criss-crossing rock and jazz textures that remains challenging listening even today, even when viewed more completely with period Beefheart albums like Safe as Milk (1967), Mirror Man (1971) and Clear Spot (1972) as well as with collaborations with longtime ally Frank Zappa (which came to a head on the latter’s immortal Hot Rats).

Van Vliet was often viewed as one of the post-psychedelic age’s great eccentrics. Perhaps he was. But a later wave of albums that surfaced at the height of the post-punk movement with a new version of his long running Magic Band reaffirmed his greatness.

Recordings like Shiny Beast (1978), Doc at the Radar Station (1980, a career triumph outdone only by Trout Mask Replica) and his career finale Ice Cream for Crow (1982) scaled back the sound but intensified the brutal, free jazz outbursts of his music.

“I don’t do music,” a confident Beefheart told an Amsterdam audience in 1980 on the heels of Radar Station‘s release. “I do spells.”

Indeed he did. How assuring it is to know that with the Captain now dutifully discharged, those spells continue to linger.

First nominees announced

The Pantagraph Bloomington, IL November 1, 2004 | PANTAGRAPH STAFF BLOOMINGTON — The annual Student of the Year college scholarship competition has nominated six students in its first week.

The program, sponsored by The Pantagraph, includes 36 Central Illinois high schools. Each school will nominate candidates whose profiles will appear in The Pantagraph every Monday through the end of January. The students are eligible to compete for one of two $5,000 Student of the Year awards. here pulaski high school

The students for this week are Ashley Grimes and Benjamin Fraley, both of Ridgeview High School; Kaelyn Riley of Lexington High School; Kristi McKinley of Flanagan High School; and Molly Gleason and Jeremy Ott, both of Mount Pulaski High School.

Selections are based upon several criteria, including scholastic achievement, involvement in school activities, leadership and responsibility, ambition and community involvement. Financial need is not a consideration.

The number of Students of the Week will vary based on the school’s enrollment. Schools with 500 or more students will nominate three seniors. Those with 200 to 499 students will nominate two seniors. Schools with fewer than 200 students will nominate one senior.

In February, a panel will screen the weekly nominees, based on student applications and grade transcripts, and choose 10 students from schools with enrollments of more than 500, and 10 students from schools with enrollments of fewer than 500.

These 20 students will be the finalists and will be asked to complete essay questions, submit college test scores and conduct an interview in March with a panel of judges. The judges will name two $5,000 Student of the Year winners — one from the larger schools and one from the smaller schools.

This week’s nominee profiles include:

* Grimes, daughter of Daniel and Karen Grimes of Colfax, attends Ridgeview High School, where she is a member of National Honor Society; Spanish Club; class officer, president; SADD; CAPTAINS; and co-chairman of homecoming week activities. She is also active in band and volleyball.

She volunteers at church activities and has worked as a baby- sitter/tutor.

* Fraley, son of Jim and Margie Fraley and Chuck and Jody Robbins, of rural Cooksville, attends Ridgeview High School, where he is a member of National Honor Society; National Art Honor Society; Presidential Scholar; student council; CAPTAINS; class officer; Spanish club; and art club. He is also active in the fall play, spring musical, marching band, jazz band and concert band. pulaskihighschool.net pulaski high school

He volunteers for various community service projects and is employed at the high school during the summer as a summer custodian.

* Riley, daughter of Jim and Kim Riley of Lexington, attends Lexington High School, where she is a member of National Honor Society; Key Club; math team; scholastic team; WYSE; yearbook staff; student council; and varsity softball team.

She volunteers for various community projects and has been employed part-time at Pacific Sunwear of California.

* McKinley, daughter of Frank and Lori McKinley of Flanagan, attends Flanagan High School, where she is a member of Ray LaHood Leadership Convention; National Honor Society; student council; class officer, president, four years; band; marching band; pep band; chorus; yearbook staff; track; basketball team; cheer-leading; and volleyball team.

She is involved in various community service activities and has worked for Roeschley Hybrids for a few years de-tasseling and has baby-sat during the summer.

* Gleason, daughter of Robert and Nina Gleason of Elkhart, attends Mount Pulaski High School, where she is a member of National Honor Society; WYSE Academic Challenge Team; student council; Jets Design (science club); drama club; 4-H; prom committee; basketball team; and softball team.

She is involved in various community service activities and was employed to aid a veterinarian.

* Ott, son of Raudal Ott and Diana Ott of Elkhart, attends Mount Pulaski High School, where he is a member of National Honor Society; WYSE Academic Challenge Team; student achievement workshop; Scholastic Bowl; Science Olympiad; yearbook; prom committee; student council; concert band; marching band; and football team.

He is involved in various community service activities and was employed in the summers of 2003 and 2004 by Wibben’s Detassling.

PANTAGRAPH STAFF



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