Preschoolers music and the AVAM together on ‘Museums In Strange Places’


The exterior of the American Visionary Art Museum

This notice comes a little late as your humble blogger has so far spent most of the holiday season in transit touring with Human Host in the U.S. thru the southwest and California with, to put it nicely, unreliable internet access.

So back in mid-November Hannah Hethmon (a distinguished Fulbright fellow/podcaster extraordianire) debuted an excellent episode of her series Museums In Strange Places. This program features a comprehensive introduction to The American Visionary Art Museum, a place that looms large as an influence on the work of the Towson-Glen Arm artists. In a nutshell, American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM, for short) is a large gallery in Baltimore, Md. which displays only the work of un-trained artists, also known as outsider art.

Needless to say, for the fiercely (obsessively?) anti-establishment/anti-hierarchichal TGA movement it was a relief and a blessing to know that there was an entire institution dedicated to creative works by outsider artists who had no direct connection to the often elitist/cliqueish/formulaic/capitalistic milieu of “fine” art. To summarize the massive effect that this place had on each and every one of the TGA artists is impossible, but it is safe to say that the north County underground’s d.i.y. stance and homespun/highly personalized approach was validated by the AVAM and its various central imperatives, all of which reinforced TGA’s belief in art as an important form of direct socio-political activism.

Fittingly, Hannah Hethmon chose to use songs by TGA’s own outsider ska crew supreme The Preschoolers on the podcast’s soundtrack – their “Towson-Glen Arm  Freakouts” comp. tracks ‘Scott Chester, Boy Next Door’ and ‘Menorah Ska’. It’s a great honor to know that these wild tunes can be used in such a noble context, so thank you Hannah Hethmon for supporting the TGA legacy!

You can listen to the entire AVAM episode of Museums in Strange Places for free here:

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The Return of T.E.A.M.

TEAM magic fire auraTEAM in-studio smallerdevon and me feb 2018

For the first time in nearly a quarter century the Towson-Glen Arm group T.E.A.M. has reformed and recently made a set of recordings which will soon be released as a lmited edition tape and download by the Glendale, Ca. record label KMAN 92.5 Tapes.

T.E.A.M. (which stands for “Together Everyone Achieves More”) was a noisy experimental “space funk” band formed originally by Dave Willemain in the summer of 1994 – the group’s early recordings can be heard on both volumes of the Towson-Glen Arm Freakouts music compilation series. The original line-up included Willemain, plus Luke Mysko, Cory Davolos, Mike Apichella, and Jon Woodstock. Only 3 members of this line-up remain: Willemain and Woodstock are both deceased; Luke Mysko is alive and kickin (probably riding his a bicycle in a race or doin something else equally action packed), but he’s no longer involved in the group; Apichella and Davolos made the choice to reform the band.

A new member of T.E.A.M. is Devon Till, a musician/multi-media artist who grew up in the Glen Arm area during the 90’s and was a member of the pre-T.E.A.M. band Retarded Dogs which also included Mike Apichella and Cory Davolos.

The new T.E.A.M. album is simply titled “Together Everyone Achieves More” and it was home recorded in a series of sessions that took place in February 2018 in The Poconos region of Pennsylvania, and in April 2018 in Columbus, Ohio. Though the “space funk” aspirations of Dave Willemain were influential on these sessions, these new T.E.A.M. recordings display the Towson-Glen Arm aesthetic mainly in their improvisational nature; all of the tracks on the new T.E.A.M. record were composed spontaneously with little to no rehearsal prior to their recording.

December 3rd of this year is the tenative release date for the new T.E.A.M. album, and the unofficial release show for the record will occur at Exposition Park in Los Angeles, California at 3pm. This concert will not feature a T.E.A.M. performance but will instead be a show for the music project Human Host which features Mike Apichella.

Other than Human Host tour dates and HH’s local NYC area shows, the new T.E.A.M. tape will be available via mail order from KMAN 92.5 Tapes, and there are also tenative plans for a more official release show for the album centered around a T.E.A.M. live performance that will happen in Virginia or North Carolina in 2019. Details on this are forthcoming.

TEAM fireside 6

T.E.A.M. photo credits:
The top two pictures feature (left to right) Cory Davolos and Mike Apichella; these were taken by Joy Eichert, April 2018

The third picture from the top features (l-r) Mike Apichella and Devon Till; this was taken by Devon Till, February 2018

The picture below the text features (l-r) Cory Davolos and Mike Apichella; it was taken by Joy Eichert, April 2018

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“Bearing Witness” by Fang Peng

The 1994 edition of Dulaney High School’s Sequel literary magazine ran an extraordinary essay called “Bearing Witness” by a somewhat mysterious writer named Fang Peng. At first glance it seemed to be a piece concerning the emotional impact of a visit to the then newly built U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., but quickly the piece took a hard left turn into the kind of subversive twilight zone that TGA artists called home. Instead of offering only praise for the new national landmark’s attempt to create a sensitive and thorough monument to one of war’s most horrifying consequences, Peng uses the description of her experience at the museum as the basis for a scathing critique decrying  the U.S. government’s systematic apathy as it related to the plight of refugees (those who the Nazis referred to as “undesirables”) who attempted to flee Holocaust-era Europe for America.

During the 90’s the American left spent a’lot of time patting itself on the back. The Clintons were practically perceived as the new Kennedys, their mega rich liberal democrat acolytes deflected scrutiny by passionately supporting “band-aid” legislation ala the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, and they constantly focused on the demonization of characters like Newt Gingrich whose scandalous indiscretions in and out of the political realm were no different than anything scarring the careers of enemies across the aisle. Consequently it was rare, even in some radical leftist journals and zines, to find more progressive activist writers creating engaging, well informed, detailed criticism of the moderate left’s weak efforts to push the cause of social justice. Few wanted to raise awareness about why and how all political sides and branches of the U.S. federal government had played a big part in maintaining legislation which reinforced nationalistic/”tunnel vision” approaches to foreign policy. Within the context of all this, Peng’s “Bearing Witness” becomes even more intense. This essay is a prime symbol of Towson-Glen Arm’s desire not to tow any existent party line, it stands as a literary act of protest against mainstream politics’ futile connection to the “Us vs. Them” power dynamic.

And to top it all off, it’s a completely entertaining read – Fang Peng is an amazing writer whose poetic sensibility never once becomes tainted by the boring/predictable aesthetics of a rant or didactic “think piece”. In light of today’s extreme lack of political discourse, not to mention the dominance of contemporary issues facing political refugees throughout the western world, Fang Peng’s “Bearing Witness” is arguably more important now than ever before.

tgaf - fang peng - Sequel 1994 Page 18tgaf - fang peng - Sequel 1994 Page 19

(the pages scanned here come from a copy of Sequel ’94 supplied by Graham Dodge)

There’s not much else to say about Fang Peng. I tried to locate her a few years ago with no luck both through independent searches on my own and through some of her old friends and class mates from Dulaney but came up with nothing. She contributed other work to Sequel ’94 that falls a little bit outside of the scope of this blog, but is nonetheless worth checking out if you can find a copy of the publication (which also features contributions from other TGA artists including Melissa Fatto and Lauren Bereska). Other than her handful of Sequel contributions, and the fact that she was a student at Dulaney during the 90’s,  there isn’t much else that connects Peng to the TGA movement.

Fang Peng, if you’re out there, please get in touch, we’d all love to know more about you and your work!

tgaf - Fang Peng 1994 dhs

(Above: Fang Peng as she appeared in her 1994 Dulaney High School yearbook picture; courtesy of Cory Davolos)

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Mike Apichella – live on fri. August 24th at Trophy House in Baltimore

Mike Apichella early or mid 90's1Hi everybody, your humble blogger reporting here, just checkin in to let you know that on friday night 8pm August 24th I’ll be playing my second ever solo show in Baltimore, Md. at The Trophy Room. I’m probably gonna be the only Towson-Glen Arm artist on the bill, but my close friends Blood On The Mercy Seat are playing too. Like me, they’ve got a deep connection to Towson, and their material is predominantly improvised. They feature members of the great ultra weird noisy pop rock bands Rosemary Krust and Yes Selma, so if you like those bands you’ll love Blood On The Mercy Seat. Other great acts playing this show include the great Philly multi-media freaks Sieve and Boothe, so the whole event will be super fun all around.

Donations will be taken at the door, and Towson-Glen Arm recordings and lotsa other interesting creations will be available for sale so please bring some scratch.

The music I’m playing at this event will probably sound something like this:

(above: Mike Apichella circa the early/mid ’90’s; photo by Evelyn Apichella)

mike a 8-24

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Rabelaisian Hardcore: The Spectacle Of Lard Star

UPDATE – For the first time in nearly 25 years the music of Lard Star has been re-issued. A “new” Lard Star” digital e.p. featuring 8 of the craziest tracks from their split with Eve Pagoda is out now on Nuns Like To Fence:

New track notes are included as a part of this release. These fill in some of the blanks left by the piece re-blogged here partcularly in regard to L.S. member Jon Woodstock’s extreme attachment to the work of this infamous ‘Rabelaisian’ hardcore band. And a significantly higher quality copy of the only known photo of Lard Star serves as cover art for the e.p.

All profits made from this download release will be go toward the future educational costs of Penny Woodstock, daughter of the late Jon Woodstock.

Towson-Glen Arm Freakouts

Lard Star-Eve Pagoda Front Tape Cover Original The original front cover art and some of the credits of the spring 1994 Lard Star/Eve Pagoda split tape ‘The Glen Arm Garage Band Hotshots’. The title of this release was created by Jon Woodstock in tribute to a Yazoo Records collection of pre-World War II pop music called ‘Hawaiian Guitar Hotshots’* (art/design: Mike Apichella and Jon Woodstock)

Something very strange happened in suburban teenage America shortly after the 1991 Christmas holiday. The jock boys who used to pick on weirdos, punks, and nerds were suddenly wearing mohawks, Black Flag t-shirts, and ripped jeans. The cheerleaders and preppy girls who once poked fun at all the low budget thrift store styles preferred by arty kids and goth chicks were suddenly showing up to school in clashing plaid skirts and socks, dying their hair pink, and stomping about in the skinhead approved Doctor Marten brand boots. Only a few short weeks before that Christmas skinheads could be…

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TGAF1 now available in NYC, Chicago, Boston, and beyond

Here’s yet *another* updated listing of record stores where you can purchase the first volume of the Towson-Glen Arm Freakouts compilation record series

Towson-Glen Arm Freakouts

A limited stock of the first Towson-Glen Arm Freakouts compilation is now on sale in the New York City area and beyond

In Brooklyn, NY it can be found on sale at this wild record store:

Deep Cuts Record Shop
57-03 Catalpa Ave.
Ridgewood, Queens, New York

You can check’em out online too:

The Wicker Park location of Chicago, Illnois’ legendary Reckless Records is the first brick and mortar store in Chi-town to carry copies of TGAF1. Here’s the store’s address:

Reckless Records 1379 Milwaukee Ave.  Chicago, Il. 60622

You can also find TGAF1 for sale in Chicago via the Rainbow Bridge Distro. table, a fine one-stop for all your far out experimental music needs. Rainbow Bridge’s proprietor Angel Marcloid is one of the Windy City’s best avant garde music makers and they frequently tour with their numerous projects. Everything on their distro table can also be purchased via…

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The Multi-Media Art of Jon Woodstock – Part 1: The Bomb Tapes

Jon Woodstock bomb Droppings tape cover 1994

The cover art for Bomb Droppings, the 2nd volume of the Bomb tape compilation series which was created, compiled, and released by Jon Woodstock in the early 90’s. All of the lettering and design here was done by Woodstock himself, but the main cover images comprise a mix of original Woodstock motifs, clip art, and an altered portion of the King Features comic strip ‘Mother Goose and Grimm’ (originally drawn by Mike Peters)

Figuring out how to start off a retrospective about the late Jon Woodstock’s creative ouvre is a monumental task. His artistic canon (much like his complex personality) had so many compelling and wildly conflicting sides: there was mystical hippy poet Jon Woodstock with long flowing curly locks looking and often acting like he just stepped out of a William Blake engraving; there was Jon Woodstock the angry contrarian who refused all gods and all masters, and had no fear when it came to shock value and provocative outbursts; there was Woodstock the melancholy psychedelic, experimental singer-songwriter whose chiming acoustic guitar and rough hewn vocals simultaneously recalled the rural bliss of Mississippi John Hurt or Beck and the intense east coast neurosis of the two big Lou’s (Barlow and Reed); the acerbic wisecracking Jon Woodstock, an outspoken commentator on socio-political tension and pop absurdity, sorta like the one-man equivalent of George Carlin riffing on stage with Steve Martin after a night of perilous hedonism; or should we highlight the “skin bangin animal (who’ll) never be tamed”*, the cow bell obsessed drummer/percussionist Jon Woodstock who crafted 5 years of solid poly-rhythm for some of the 90’s weirdest avant garde/improvised music?

The answer is ‘ALL of the above’.

There was one Woodstock work that best represents the full breadth of his own work and that of Towson-Glen Arm’s unified effort. This would be Bomb, a two volume various artists compilation series which the artist assembled from around 1992 to August 1994. These cassettes were made up of excerpts from the mountain of tape recordings made and horded by Woodstock which documented most of his early 90’s audio output:  private home recording sessions, practice tapes, one-off jam sessions, snippets of spoken word poetry pieces, and sound collage. Woodstock’s participation in many of these cathartic moments represents the only recurring theme that ties the Bomb series’ recordings together. A visionary graphic designer, Woodstock created all of the artwork for these bizarre 90 minute extravaganzas, and he also supervised the replication and free distribution of these tapes which were issued in editions of roughly 10-20 copies (but probably also copied and dubbed unofficially thus making an exact number for the editions unknown).

The simply titled Bomb was the first volume. It was released in July 1994; the second volume, titled Bomb Droppings, was probably the bigger therefore more well known edition of the two. Bomb Droppings came out in late August of ’94 just before Woodstock briefly relocated to Eugene, Oregon.

Jon Woodstock Bomb ffront tape cover 1994

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Detail from the front cover art of the first “Bomb” tape designed by Jon Woodstock, July 1994. The photo’s origin is unknown.

To put it lightly, the Bomb tapes were all over the place. The innovative melodies and improvisations of T.E.A.M. were presented randomly with 10 second long recordings of impenetrable inside jokes and stoned crowd banter lifted from a lofi bootleg of a 70’s James Taylor concert. The sprawling noise-laden experimental music of Eve Pagoda and Big Huge Fucking Machine rubs shoulders with a sample of anthemic Donna Godchaux vocals from a DEAD show. There were baffling quiet versions of songs by ‘Rabelaisian hardcore’ band Lard Star recorded by LS itself. We hear Woodstock drumming in a trio with Lou Thomas on bass and future indie music hero David Berginder (of Celebration and Arbouretum) playing acoustic guitar, a recording that shares space with audio pastiches made from public domain interviews and performance excerpts that feature Woody Guthrie, Bob Marley, and even a raw confessional from an anonymous elderly black man who had been under aggressive surveillance by the KKK and racist police. Woodstock’s own one-of-a-kind introspective solo recordings were sprinkled liberally throughout all this chaotic weirdness.

The Bomb series also showcased the work of numerous TGA artists other than Jon Woodstock: Dave Willemain, Mike Apichella, Cory Davolos, Jim Sajor, Devon Till, Violet LeVoit, David Richardson, and the aforementioned Thomas all are well repped, plus there are guest appearances from members of the jam band Driver who featured the aforementioned David Berginder. Some of Berginder’s Driver band mates who might have been on the first Bomb include Dave Heumann, Scott Dorfler, Jason Wallace, and possibly others.

Jon Woodstock Bomb inside tape cover 1994

This is the inside cover art of the first volume of the Bomb tape compilation series. While Woodstock certainly was a great and imaginative curator for this series, his ability to accurately credit the artists whose work is compiled on Bomb wasn’t so great. Here now is an attempt to correct any major mistakes Woodstock made in his attributions: on side 1, track 6 drumming credits are given to ‘Shades’ (aka Mike Apichella) but this blurt of electronic sound manipulation features only ‘Hubcap’ (aka Woodstock); track 17 (“Girls Smell Good” by Hubcap) features an unknown drummer and probably not “Shades” who is erroneously credited for this. On side 2, track 16 once again features an incorrect drumming credit for ‘Shades’; that’s a ‘Hubcap’ solo recording sans percussion. Speaking of Hubcap solo recordings, here’s an interesting note: track 11 on side 2 (the first Bomb comp’s title track) features no recording date and according to Woodstock himself this was probably the first solo recording he ever made. He wasn’t sure what the exact date was when he put this song to tape, but said that this could’ve been made as early as 1992; if it was recorded in ’92 that means this is the first recorded & released example of acoustic Towson-Glen Arm music. Last but not least, the biggest mistake of all here comes with the complete lack of credits for “Engine #11”, side 1 track 13. This track was made by the recording-only project Big Huge Fucking Machine. This group also appears on side 2 performing “Tuli In A Box” where they’re credited as ‘Lil Devil’ aka Cory Davolos, ‘Shades’, and ‘Hubcap’. One last note on the production of these recordings: apparently Woodstock had both Bomb compilations mastered by a hippy audiophile whose nickname was ‘Grizzly’ (real name: Michael, last name: now forgotten). ‘Grizzly’ had a minimal home studio which he operated out of his 1 bedroom apartment in Timonium, Md.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             A note on the text/caligraphy: the messy hand written absurdities on the far left are mock “track notes” written by Mike Apichella who made the aesthetic choice to use either a magic marker with a torn tip or a leaky ball point pen

While the debut releases by Lesbian Chicken Maggot Blasters, The Nudists, The Preschoolers, and Spastic Cracker all did an amazing job of illuminating the wide artistic scope of work by individual TGA groups, so much of what made Towson-Glen Arm special was the intense feeling of community which bonded the young artists together making the entire scene itself occasionally seem like one big amoeba-esque collective that just kept shifting its conceptual form with each of its various artistic evolutions and ideological epiphanies.

The Bomb series stands as the major vintage document of Towson-Glen Arm’s work because it shows how the scene was defined by an ever evolving aesthetic and an unbridled force of art-as-community. Woodstock put these records out in order to showcase some of the scene’s high points and its most spectacularly messy works in progress, fleeting moments of hidden camera intimacy, his own unique ability to create a single work within many contexts, and everything in between.

Ultimately, the Bomb series is Jon Woodstock’s eternal tribute to the artistic movement that he helped create, warts and all.


Re-issued Bomb tracks that appear in The Towson-Glen Arm Freakouts compilation series:

Big Huge Fucking Machine – “Engine #11”

The version of “Engine #11” on TGAF is actually two Bomb tracks edited together: “Engine #11” and “Tuli In A Box”. The combinartion of the two tracks is a restoration of their original/pre-release form as one long extended improvisation.

T.E.A.M. – “March Of The Rent-A-Cops”

Hubcap – “Girls Smell Good”

The Retarded Dogs – “Harmonica Song (excerpt)”

T.E.A.M. – “Awe Shucks (excerpt)”

Hubcap – “Daddy”

Eve Pagoda – “Alan Thikk, Macho Capitalist Or Vanguard Of The Revolution?”

This track appears on the Bomb tape cover’s track list with the name ‘Thick’ spelled incorrectly with a ‘c’ ; Eve Pagoda member Dave Wilemain was the creator of this song title which originally featured the word ‘Thikk’. Assembling/preparing the Bomb collections for release was generally a solitary activity for Woodstock which found him rarely consulting any of the other artists featured on the tapes for any reason. This is probably why the Bomb series includes many credit errors.

T.E.A.M. – “Bison Pie (The Vegans Are Coming!)”


The following two T.E.A.M. recordings appear as c.d.-only bonus tracks on the Towson-Glen Arm Freakouts 2 compilation album: an excerpt from “Fencelicker Jones” (originally released on Bomb) and an excerpt from “Crisis” (originally released on Bomb Droppings)


* This is a paraphrasing of the lyric “This skin bangin animal will never be tamed” originally from The 6 O’Clock Alarm’s 1995 Jon Woodstock tribute song “Rock’N’Roll Man”

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