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  • Playback: No Really, How Are You? Daniel Johnston provides backstory to Hi, How Are You? Day, plus the first 2017/18 Austin Music Awards talent reveal

    Playback: No Really, How Are You? Daniel Johnston provides backstory to Hi, How Are You? Day, plus the first 2017/18 Austin Music Awards talent reveal

    https://www.austinchronicle.com/music/2018-01-19/playback-no-really-how-are-you/

    Playback: No Really, How Are You? Daniel Johnston provides backstory to Hi, How Are You? Day, plus the first 2017/18 Austin Music Awards talent reveal BY KEVIN CURTIN, JANUARY 19, 2018, MUSIC "People call it Jeremiah, like Jeremiah from the Bible, but it's not really the frog's name," clarified Daniel Johnston about the happy, tentacle-eyed amphibian famous from both his 1983 cassette Hi, How Are You: The Unfinished Album and the mural at Guadalupe & 21st Street. "I didn't have a name like that for the frog. I always called it the Innocent Frog.

    "He's full of innocence the way I was back then."

    The inimitable artist – whose lo-fi songs have been covered by Tom Waits and championed by Kurt Cobain, whose drawings of ducks, boxers, and Captain America sell in art galleries worldwide, and whose schizophrenia and manic-depression were explored in the 2005 documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston – has recently endured a rough go that includes hospitalization, falling, and frequent adjustments to his medication – his sister Margy Johnston told "Playback."

    Nonetheless, the singer was upbeat last Friday when speaking by phone from his home in Waller, recalling the day in 1992 he painted the frog on the side of Sound Exchange, an erstwhile record store that kept a box of his cassettes by the cash register.

    "I remember they paid me $70 to do it!" exclaimed Johnston. "And I was happy."

    Former Sound Exchange employee/current Chronicle Listings Manager Mark Fagan says Johnston was a regular at the shop, often with a stack of drawings to sell to employees or trade for Beatles records. He says they supplied Johnston with a ladder and some paint one day, and the mural was done in a half hour. The initial rendition, he says, included flying eyeballs, but the neighboring church complained about the "satanic imagery." They were eventually painted over.

    Today, most know the iconic image from its overhanging phrase: "Hi, how are you."

    "When I was growing up, after church, everybody shook hands and would say, 'Hi. How are you?'" recounts Johnston. "I always heard it, even at the funeral home when there was some dead person who died of old age. The undertaker said to me, and I was just a little boy, 'Hi. How are you?' That's how that started.

    "Then, when I worked at AstroWorld, I found a container in the garbage that held rubber frogs," he elaborates. "It had a picture of a frog and it said on it, 'Hi. How are you?' So I decided to name my album Hi, How Are You."

    The Innocent Frog and its accompanying query remains omnipresent as a cultural landmark. You can buy it as a doll, a doormat, or a coffee mug, and now it's being used to frame discussions about mental health. The first-ever Hi, How Are You? Day, coming this Monday, Jan. 22 – Johnston's birthday – literally and figuratively puts a question mark on the artist's trademark phrase. Organizers envision it as a time for people to open up, in-person and online, about their mental well-being, thus eroding stigmas that keep us from talking about our issues.

    "The Jeremiah mural has been staring us in the face for 25 years saying, 'Hi, how are you,' and we've overlooked the potential for something much more profound," says Daniel's longtime co-manager Tom Gimbel, who founded the Hi, How Are You Foundation with partner Courtney Blanton.

    Blanton says the community's familiarity with Johnston and the Innocent Frog affords a comfortable environment for people to start sharing about their, or a loved one's, depression, anxiety, and mental illness.

    "When I think of Jeremiah the Innocent, I'm reminded that people with mental issues are just that: innocent," says Blanton. "We don't choose this."

    The effort coalesces at Mohawk with performances from Glass Eye's Kathy McCarty, still noted for 1992's all-Johnston cover LP Dead Dog's Eyeball, Lift to Experience singer/guitarist Josh T. Pearson, and Moving Panoramas with KUTX's afternoon deejay Laurie Gallardo. The gathering, benefiting SIMS and the new foundation, also features an art show including Johnston originals. While the celebrant himself isn't guaranteed to attend or expected to perform, he may yet feel compelled.

    "If they're having a get-together in my honor, then I think I should play a few songs when the crowd's there," declares Johnston unprompted. "All I would need is a microphone and an amplifier, and I could bring one of my own guitars."

    What would you sing?

    "'Casper the Friendly Ghost' and maybe some new ones. I've been working on a new album with [Austin's] Brian Beattie for years, and I hope it comes out real soon."

    Half Notes Rapper Merlyn Wood may be the biggest MC out of Austin, well, ever. Largely unknown while attending the UT School of Architecture, the 21-year-old local (real name William Wood) posted his college withdrawal documents on Twitter in May and headed to California to join his collaborators in Brockhampton, a hip-hop "boyband" founded in San Marcos in 2015 by Kevin Abstract. The collective has released a trilogy of LPs since last spring, gotten booked for Coachella, and has an album (Saturation III) currently charting on Billboard. Brockhampton's Love Your Parents tour hits Emo's Saturday.

    Poison 13 singer Mike Carroll, hospitalized since late last year with bacterial meningitis, died Tuesday. By all accounts friendly and shy offstage, the onetime Big Boys roadie spewed raw truth in the role of frontman. Poison 13, featuring Big Boys' Tim Kerr and Chris Gates, pioneered a strain of vastly influential blues punk with a rockabilly swagger beginning in 1984. In the ensuing decades, Carroll remained a foundational presence on the Austin scene and beyond with hard-hitting garage rockers Lord High Fixers and aggressive noise art mob Total Sound Group Direct Action Committee, both featuring Kerr at his side.

    The Best Songs on Lolita Lynne's new album, Fools Moon, read like love letters and breakup notes found on a nightstand after waking up alone. "Don't you want to break me in two, or am I another girl who paws all over you?" inquired Lolita Carroll Larriva with sultry, spellbinding delivery on gripping original "I Won't" during last Friday's album christening at Barracuda. Daughter of Tito & Tarantula bandleader Tito Larriva, she enchanted thoroughly with impeccably penned, personal songs delicately executed by an ensemble of trumpet, violin, upright bass, synth, and Latin-leaning beats. The outfit kept the room hushed until detonating must-hear single "Enslaved," which clarifies their genre: brooding lounge pop.

    The Black Angels descend on the Austin Music Awards Wednesday, Feb. 28, at the Moody Theater. Also on today's initial talent bulletin for the 36th AMAs: Americana heroine Lucinda Williams, local singer-songwriter breakouts Adam Torres and David Ramirez, plus a hip-hop set featuring Third Root, Riders Against the Storm, Bavu Blakes, and more. You have five days left to vote in the newly multiple choice Austin Music Poll: austinchronicle.com/vote-austin-music-awards.

    Doom Side of the Moon, the Sword spin-off that transmogrifies Pink Floyd into heavy doom rock, surprised fans with the Encore EP last week. Extension of the full-length The Dark Side of the Moon cover last August, the three-song platter further plumbs the UK psych heroes' larger catalog with epic results, including highlight "Have a Cigar," in which Jason Frey's space rock saxophone breaks orbit and then crashes into bandleader Kyle Shutt's black matter guitar. Encore streams now, while sludge-green 12-inch vinyl arrives in March.

    Copyright © 2018 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.

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  • Do you struggle with depression

    CHECK THE LINK Smoky Mountain Songbird Dolly Parton Still Going Strong You might remember her as the woman with the cute dimples, bubbly smile and effervescent personality. At 71, Dolly is still active in the field of music with her latest album, 'Pure and Simple,' released in 2016. Music was always part of the singer's life coming from a musical family. A prolific songwriter, Parton said she has probably written 5,000 songs in her life. She started performing in public at the age of 6. Her musical accomplishments include 43 solo albums and 25 number one hit songs.
    A life of success and sophistication is what people see in celebrity singers. But, behind the glitter is another facet of Parton's life. What people don't know is that Dolly suffered from acute depression in the 1980s. Parton even contemplated suicide. For many years, the country singer battled with depression and melancholy. She believed that a huge part of her depression was due to menopause and the remorse of not having kids (Dolly underwent partial hysterectomy in 1984). Depression also runs in her family according to the singer. Fortunately, she got over the condition with the help of her husband and friends. More information about depression in your later years can be found in this article.

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  • Brett Hartenback, Daniel Johnston's personal guitarist, passes from this life

    Seacoast Online

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  • Local Musicians Gather To Pay Tribute To Underground Folk Hero Daniel Johnston

    Graphic by Sarah Tonin. BY EMELIA FOURNIERON MARCH 23, 2017 Local musicians and DJs are getting together for a collaborative benefit gig – Don’t Be Scared: A Tribute to Daniel Johnston – at the Good Will on Sunday, March 26 at 8 p.m.

    CKUW 95.9FM host Kent Davies (Peg City Groove, Amateur Hour) and 101.5 UMFM host Matt Moskal (Bonus Hour) will be hosting the show, which will feature performances by locals Trampoline, Okay Mann, Tansy, Cole Zachary (Tent Rentals), Mike Fox and Marshall Birch (Odanah and Marshall & The Buddy System), Paige Drobot (the Psychics), Joshua Letkeman (June Killing Stones), Kara Elizabeth Parkinson Wight, Shea Johnson, and Matt Moskal.

    Performers will cover their favourite tracks by American folk singer Daniel Johnston. Tickets are $10 at the door, and all proceeds will be donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association of Manitoba and Winnipeg.

    Daniel Johnston is known for his musical authenticity and his eccentricity. He got started in music by producing his own music in his basement and handing out free cassettes on the street.

    “[Daniel] just made an unbelievable amount of music, and wasn’t that concerned with the specific mix of the keyboards versus the vocals, or the pitch of his singing,” Katlin Mathison – the artist behind the moniker Okay Mann – told the Manitoban.

    “It was more like, ‘this is art, this is real, and I just have to pump it out as fast as possible.’”

    Johnston was the feature subject of the 2005 award-winning documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston, a frank examination of his journey through psychosis and mental health issues that helped bring to light the severity of mental illness, especially in the music community.

    Many musicians have found solace and a sort of kindred spirit in Johnston’s story.

    “There were so many parallels between his childhood, his neurosis, and my own that it spawned the realization that if this tormented kid with a pitchy voice could write compelling songs, there was a chance that maybe I could too,” said Michelle Lecnik of Trampoline.

    Matt Moskal, the chief organizer of the show – as well as host and performer – did an interview with Daniel Johnston about music and mental health years ago.

    “There’s something he said about how when he was first making music and he was not medicated, he felt like he had a lot of friends, but he felt like he was not close to everyone, and then as soon as he was taken care of, everyone sort of cheered him on and encouraged him more and more he felt happier and happier,” said Moskal.

    “Something about the story of getting help, and being taken care of, was very inspiring, because it’s difficult to ask for help, even during those manic episodes.”

    Artist involved with this project said that mental health issues are extremely prevalent throughout artists and the music industry.

    “It’s almost as if sometimes, for some mediums of art – not just music – the public almost prefers that their artists suffer… There’s almost an expectation that the art will suffer if the artists is in tip-top shape, mentally, which is totally backwards,” said Mathison.

    Musicians – especially those who operate independently – are seldom only guitarists, vocalists, songwriters, etc. but also often act as their own booking agent, manager, promoter, and online content creator.

    “Everything else can be ten times as hard, depending on the mental illness,” said Mathison.

    “A self-starter entrepreneur dealing with mental health issues, you would say ‘that looks hard.’ But musicians are basically that, but almost expected to be dealing with mental health issues.”

    While some excellent art comes from times of pain and hardship, there is a distinction between channeling negative emotions into something beautiful and being in a perpetual state of ill mental health while trying to create.

    “I don’t think it’s anything that should be glamourized. It’s very scary, and very real, and I just know that it’s best to remember that. There is a thin line between someone who is truly genius, and someone who is truly hurting and truly ill,” Moskal commented.

    Furthermore, the lifestyle associated with working musicians could be harmful in and of itself – it can be conducive to a lack of routine, through both touring and irregular work hours.

    “It’s starting to be talked about more. Before, I don’t think it really was a topic – if you’re a struggling musician and you’re partying all the time, or you’re mentally troubled, that was kind of the aesthetic,” said Kathryn Kerr, who performs under the name Tansy.

    “In the past ten years, people have finally started to ask, ‘what does being an artist do to your mental health? What does being on the road do to your mental health?’ [Mental illness] is not a new thing, we’re just finally starting to talk about it.”

    Music enables people to connect with each other when they are feeling isolated. Daniel Johnston, in particular, has experienced intense periods of loneliness, especially existing as a solo artist and with people misunderstanding his mental health issues, but through music, he has been able to connect with people.

    “Music becomes this safe place to express all of the undercurrent of human emotion,” said Rachel Letkeman of Trampoline.

    “With mental health now being more openly discussed, I feel as though it has been unifying within the artistic community, because it becomes very much, ‘oh, you too? I’m safe to discuss these struggles I’m having?’”

    The goal of the show is to lessen that loneliness while raising funds, and paying tribute to Daniel Johnston.

    “A show like this is special because a lot of mental health initiatives taken on in the public are met with criticisms because they feel like there is another agenda underneath them,” said Mathison.

    “I think this event is special because everything is presented at face value… It’s just a bunch of people who care about [Johnston’s] music, and raising some awareness about mental health.”

    Moskal expressed his desire to see a greater portion of funding granted to artistic industries everywhere to “go back to the community.”

    “If there’s anything I’d like to see more of, it’s more conversation.”

    Don’t Be Scared: A Tribute to Daniel Johnston is presented by 101.5 UMFM, and takes place at the Good Will on March 26 at 8 p.m. Admission is $10 at the door.

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  • This American Song's cover of TRUE LOVE

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