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"Guitar Man"
Guest Appearances and Collaborations

Kid with Speedball Baby
Kid Congo Powers sits in with Speedball Baby

Kid Congo Powers has performed and recorded with dozens of bands outside of his major projects. While I don't know where you can find information about live appearances, Kid's site contains a fairly comprehensive discography/filmography/videography of recorded guest appearances here. Kid discusses only a few of these projects in the paragraphs that follow. Some of the notable performances that Kid doesn't get around to mentioning here include recordings with artists such as Jonathan Fire*Eater and Diamanda Galas, starring in videos such as The Fall's "Hit the North," and posing for the cover of Speedball Baby's I'm Gonna Stomp Mr. Henry Lee EP.

The Butcher Shop Hard For You EP (1988)

Tex PerkinsI was in Australia and Tex asked me to play with him and Spencer T. Jones – who was a really great guitar player and person. He was one of the Australian Gun Clubbers – honorary Gun Clubber. He’s the one that introduced me to Tex when he was but a little teenager. I knew immediately when I met Tex when he was real young I was like, “this guy’s gonna be so big.” And he did become a big huge rock star – but a really good one. So if Tex and Spencer asked me to do something I would have jumped at the chance. And I jumped at the chance. I was on tour with Nick in Australia and so we did one day in the studio. And we were very excited because The Saints were rehearsing down in the studio next to us – Chris Bailey was. Then we went and recorded this really fast and quick. And it was really fun. I finally got to realize my desire to record with Tex Perkins.

Barry Adamson, Moss Side Story (1988)

Barry AdamsonBarry - Barry Adamson. A very good friend I’d known for years from my living in London or before – I actually had met him when he was in Magazine and came to Los Angeles. Some friends of mine had thrown a party and they came. I had met Barry then. Barry actually played a string of shows when Romi couldn’t make it in The Gun Club. And that was fun. That was just a few shows he played with us. So Barry was a good friend and he was embarking upon his solo career and he was making a record – and all of us, we always ask our friends to do stuff. And it was kind of a thing you go hang around other people’s recording sessions and we were all hanging around – I think it was me and Katy and Nick and Anita or something. He asked if we wanted to do some backing vocals and of course we did. It turned out to be really great.

Mark Eitzel, Caught In A Trap And I Can't Back Out 'Cause I Love You Too Much, Baby, The Invisible Man, etc (1997 - Present)

Mark EitzelMark Eitzel was a friend of mine. We had met. We weren’t’ really friends. We had met before when I was in The Gun Club and I was living in London. And we had the same booking agent. Mark had a lot more success in England and Europe, in that typical way, than in America. I really liked his way and I really thought he was a great singer. And everyone else said he’s a great songwriter and I really recognized him as such. And he’s a really funny guy and we befriended each other and got really drunk together – really a lot of times. So he had come to live in New York for a while. I think he was floating around as he does. And he was subletting an apartment in New York and would come here. And we became really good friends and hung out constantly together and got into lots of trouble together and even had a brief fling together. That of course led to like-mindedness. He asked me to play on one of his records and to return the favor he did a song on that “Abnormals Anonymous” record. So he became a really big part of my life at that time and was a big influence on me. Jack Martin always says, “That was a great songwriting period because you were being competitive with Mark all the time.” And I agree. I’m very much influenced by who I’m around and he was a really good influence on my songwriting and a really bad influence on me in life… in drinking. I’m still friends with him. I recently played on some stuff of his and we’re in contact. And I’m always amazed at his live shows. He’s one of those singers that I’m drawn to because he really puts himself out there and he’s just emotionally raw. He reminds me of a lot of ways of different people. He reminds me of Jeffrey Lee Pierce a lot in that way and Nick in some ways. He’s just a great songwriter and his live shows can be harrowing – where you don’t know if you’ll be laughing or I’ve seen some people weeping. He’s a really strong person – one of my biggest people I admire as an artist. And also I like Mark a lot because he uses a lot of ocean imagery. He’s very obsessed with the ocean and ships. It’s like Jeffrey and everyone great – everyone knows the ocean is where its at.

Factory Press, Smoky Ends Of A Burnt Out Day (1997)

CallaWhen Congo Norvell first moved to New York, these kid’s had written to me before I had even moved. I was still living in Los Angeles and I got this letter and this press kid and this EP from this band called Factory Press from Austin, TX. And they told me that they just moved to New York or were going to move to New York. They just wrote to me out of the blue and asked me if I would produce their record. And I was like, “Oh yeah. But I’m in Los Angeles. Whatever. Maybe.” And I liked it. It was kind of Joy Division-y but I saw something in it. I knew I was going to come New York so I looked in their press papers for the phone number. So I called them and I said, “I’m coming to New York and I could do this if you want to do it and I’d be happy to produce a record by you.” And they said they thought someone was doing a crank call on them because I was like, “This is Kid Congo and I’m coming and I’m going to produce your record.” So we met. Then they played me some of their new stuff and I thought it was really great. I saw so much potential in them. That record’s really good. And it was really fun to do produce a record. I’ve done some production of my own stuff and a few other things like that Sheppard Pratt record – which were another band – another call out of the blue. With them, though, I felt really good about it because I felt I was talking to someone of my own tribe or mindset about sound. And they were very open to experimenting and they were an experimental band for a rock band. And I really loved that they would really take their time getting to where they were going. I think that that’s really exciting and it’s actually not an easy thing to do. They really have that about them. So we recorded that at Matt Verta Ray’s studio and it was a really good collaboration. I got Sally Norvell to sing on it. Someone should look that album up. They made their record and they broke up – as many young bands do. But they kind of reconfigured with the core musical people. Really what they did was that their guitar player, like Kid Congo, stepped up to the microphone and became the singer and then they became a band called Calla – who I think are a really great band – all really great musicians and great guys. It’s really been exciting for me to see them go from really young pups who didn’t know what was going on to taking shape and making something really beautiful. Me and Aurelio, the guitar player, really want to work together and we have this plan to make this sort of Pharoah Sanders/Ornette Coleman-inspired guitar album, instrumental album. But we’re such lazy Mexicans that we never ever get it together to do it. I think that we’re also so very busy all of the time. One day, if we can ever get out from under our sombrero, we’ll do it.

Make-Up (1996 - 1998)

Make-UpThen there’s the band the Make-Up from D.C. – Ian Svenonious and Michelle May. They’re a band I met in Washington, D.C. - I think maybe when Congo Norvell were playing I made friends with them. Actually I really thought they were amazing. I saw a very early incarnation of them. They were playing with Congo Norvell. And it was organ, drums, and Ian – and maybe the organ player, James, played guitar on a few songs. And I really thought that it was great – whatever it was, it was great – it was just amazing. So later on, when The Make-Up became a full-on band and made records, and I would see them every time that they came through New York, I became friends with them and we’d hang out a lot and I’d go to D.C. and visit them. They’re a very touring kind of band and were going on a tour and I was like, “Why don’t I go on tour with you. I’d be willing to drive or anything.” I think just wanted to get out of town and hang out with them and I just thought their live show was so great. And I think I just needed something. I think this was after the demise of Congo Norvell and after Jeffrey dying and moving to New York, I just needed to go away and do something that wasn’t any pressure for me. So I’d come on and play maracas and triangle with them. And again, my collaboration with them was almost only strictly friendship. I just felt that they were just one of the most exciting things going on live and really appreciate them and I appreciate their new band Weird War. Ian is the kind of singer you don’t see all the time – really entertaining and smart – really great - a fully formed conceptualist. My job is to be around exciting things and be inspired by things and they were something that was inspiring to me. And that’s how I ended up hanging out with them.

Botanica (1998 - 2003)

BotanicaPaul Wallfisch was in Congo Norvell for quite a few years and also played with my band, The Pink Monkey Birds, in one of the first incarnations. He’s been a long-time collaborator. He’s always had his own band, Botanica. It was again another trade. He’d worked so long no money for me. And he asked me to play on his record. So, I’m a musician, so I said I would do it. And that was good an I really dug that because they were really good musicians and Abby Travis was playing with them and she was someone I really really got along with really well and I really learned to admire her and found out about the kind of stuff she’d done and she’s a fierce bass player and a really amazing, really fun girl. So we just had fun. Again, but another project.

Solo CholoAnother thing that came out of playing with Botanica and Congo Norvell and that whole milieu of activity, before the Pink Monkey Birds became a band, I was just going to make a strict solo band with a bunch of different people. So the first things that I did was some stuff with Jim Sclavunous producing. And that was some tracks with Paul Wallfisch and Abby Travis from Botanica. And they had some tracks and I had some lyrics and we recorded them and it became this whole project that got bogged down somehow. But I really like these two songs, “Power” and “You Hang the Moon” which will come out on my “Solo Cholo” compilation. They’re two tracks that are kind of in-between The Pink Monkey Birds and Congo Norvell – atmospheric sort of songs. Some of my really great lyrics. They got put on the shelf for a long time until I realized that I had so much stuff on the shelf that I could actually make a record – and so much unknown stuff. So I started thinking about compiling the “Solo Cholo” record as far back as 2000. I started thinking about compiling a bunch of stuff that I’d written together. From then on I started really doing a lot more songwriting.

Angels of Light (1998 - Present)

How I Loved YouAnother project in my transitional period was that Michael Gira asked me to play with him in his group Angels of Light. He actually asked me to record with him on a track or two. And I’d known Michael since Swans – since when I was in The Bad Seeds. And we both actually come from Los Angeles and have that in common. I was a great admirer of Swans and his stuff. And I really liked his new stuff so I was really pleased when he asked me to play with him. He put together a live show with about a ten-piece band – which was kind of insane – but really great to be a part of that whole thing playing with that many people. We had dulcimer, we had tablahs, we had ukuleles, we had singers – it was a really great project – Angels of Light – one of the first ones. Michael is great and he’s asked me to play on a couple more of his records I think - at least one other one. And to this day I’m friends with him. I hope I get to do more with him.

Continue to 12. "NYC Briefcase Blues": Knoxville Girls


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