New book explores the punk scene in Rockford, Illinois

Out of the Basement
Out of the Basement

Today’s column begins with my thoughts about an informative book about the punk scene in Rockford, Illinois, followed by recordings from modern cowgirl Leslie Tom and duo Carol and Dale. Enjoy!

‘Out of the Basement: From Cheap Trick to DIY Punk in Rockford, Illinois, 1973-2005,’ David A. Ensminger (Microcosm Books,)

This recently received Feb. 7 book contains a short history of punk-scene activity in Rockford, Illinois, and is volume 3 in Microcosm’s “Scene History” series.

Ensminger has written several books I’d likely enjoy. This one asserts Rockford “remains merely a rest stop on a flat toll road stretching from Chicago to Madison, Wisconsin.”

Cheap Trick is Rockford’s big band, but the DIY spirit was strong in and around the city, even as high unemployment and bad economic signs appeared in the 1970s-1980s. The punk/hardcore bands that arose were often politically leaning, then diversified in sounds, approaches and abilities as time passed.

Punk-rock fans will want to see how things shook out in the rust belt.

‘Leslie Tom,’ Leslie Tom (Coastal Bend Music,)

This Feb. 17 CD (likely available in other formats) from singer/co-writer Leslie Tom contains seven songs, so it’s an EP lengthwise. Her accompanists include acoustic guitarists Chris Leuzinger and Kerry Conner, electric guitarists Eugene Moles and Steve Hinson, steel guitarists Lloyd Green and producer John Macy, keyboardists “Pig” Robbins and Matt Weesner and many others.

“Hank You Very Much,” which quotes liberally from Hank Williams’ songs, is my favorite tune, but I also dig these: the fiddle/steel-drenched dad-remembering “Every Other Friday,” “My Only Addiction” (with Kevin Moon), the patriotic “Didn’t Think Twice” and the piano-steel powered “Leavin’ On Your Mind.”

Fans of classic, good-old-country music will enjoy this recording a lot.

‘Be Here Now,’ Carol and Dale (BerryFineSongs,1/2)

This March 3 CD (also probably available in other formats) is the sophomore release for singer/songwriters Carol Warren and Dale Whitehead. Carol handles guitars, bass and vocals. Dale is a guitarist/vocalist. Vocalist Paddy Dougherty Braunstein, drummer Kenneth Blevins, electric guitarist Rick Vito, producer/keyboardist Kevin McKendree and percussionist Yates McKendree are their studio supporters on this recording.

The Fleetwood Mac–flavored harmonic blend of C and D is my favorite part of some vocal songs. “Devil’s In The Details” features alternating lead vocals with chorus harmonies; “That’s Enough,” “Blackberry Winter” (an organ-driven instrumental), and a sliding, chiming instrumental called “Clarity” are my other favorites.

This is a fairly likeable folksy album.

Dave Jones

I don’t review live shows, or music posted on Facebook pages, but folks who enjoy jazz saxophone and/or want to book a sax player may want to visit Dave’s Facebook page.

Ricky Flake, a former punk rocker and current music fan, lives in Biloxi. Reach him at flakericky@gmail.com.