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Jim Terr releases first CD after 27 years of writing, recording.

Nationally broadcast song satirist Jim Terr has released his first CD, a 72-minute, 23-song collection featuring himself and numerous guest artists.

Terr, whose song satires and commentaries have aired on radio networks and programs from NPR to ABC, Voice of America to the BBC, and Larry King to "Mountain Stage" and "Doctor Demento," debuted the new release in conjunction with a one-man show he presented in November in Santa Fe, NM.

The songs were selected from among hundreds of song demos and master recordings of his compositions in order to create the CD, entitled "Demos and Diamonds."

Writers from Dave Barry to Tony Hillerman have praised Terrís work [see CD], and former BMI vice president Rick Sanjek has described Terr as "a modern-day Mark Twain, Will Rogers, Jimmie Rodgers and Jackie Mason rolled into one." Terrís songs, including an original which he performed in the 1988 film, "And God Created Woman," starring Rebecca DeMornay, have been broadcast in over 20 foreign countries, according to BMI records.

In addition to his singing/songwriting, Terr is the author of "The New Mexico Driverís Survival Guide," and the producer of a nationally-acclaimed video of interviews with New Mexico World War II veterans and a forthcoming videotape of interviews with New Mexico survivors of the Holocaust. He is also an actor who has appeared in several commercials, independent features and short films.

The new CD (Blue Canyon Productions # BCCD 880) is initially being offered for retail sale only in New Mexico, where it has received considerable radio airplay, and is available on-line at the new website, www.bluecanyonproductions.com, or by calling toll-free 1-877-723-4611 during daytime business hours.

Terr describes the assortment of songs on the CD as ranging "from the ridiculous to the sublime." The songs, recorded from 1973 through 1999, feature guest artists from New Mexico, California, Hawaii and Nashville, including Francine Hand, "Bluegrass Vocalist of the Year" Kathy Chiavola, Elvis impersonator Lonnie Yanes, Nancy Gagan, the late actor Slim Pickens, Buddy Converse and the Sneakers, "Sara Jo Rubenstein," "Edie," and 14-year-old "Lilia," as well as Terr, who lives in Santa Fe.

Several of the CDís selections are from previous album releases, including a song called "Son of a Rabbi Man," from a 1994 Jewish parody of Woodstock called "CHICKENSTOCK: A Festival of Peace, Love and Matzo Balls," and a selection from another critically-acclaimed album, Slim Pickensí 1975 self-titled release. 12-3-99


(Santa Fe Reporter, December 22, 1999)
Jim Terr "Demos and Diamonds"

"I could make just about anything / with cardboard, scissors, glue and string / wire, Scotch Tape, rubber bands / a paper clip, a coffee can," sings Jim Terr in "Reader's Digest Me", a song off his "Demos and Diamonds" CD. Out of the musical equivalents of those bits and pieces, he's crafted some of the most thoroughly enjoyable tunes I've ever heard. Terr's songs--performed here by Terr, Slim Pickens, local music progenitor Nancy Gagan and a handful of Terr's friends--are tiny monuments to songwriting.

It's hard to listen to this CD without drifting into nostalgic recollections of times with friends when you couldn't stop laughing, times with lovers when you couldn't stop crying and every day that you couldn't stop loving just being alive. If you haven't finished your holiday shopping, go pick up a few copies for the people you care about. And if you are finished, well, go buy it for them anyway.

For whatever elements came together to make the genius of Jim Terr and his music happen, we should be truly gleeful, grateful and gratified. "Demos and Diamonds" is a square meal of music, a walk around town when all the lights are out and your first kiss, all over again.

Terr's CD spans parody, eye-opening sincerity
By Steve Terrell, Santa Fe New Mexican "Pasatiempo" Dec. 3, 1999

Jim Terr has been part of the local music scene for about 25 years now as producer, songwriter and performer. It seems strange that this is his first CD.

"Demos and Diamonds" is something of a ďgreatest hitsíí collection going all the way back to 1973 with a country song called "Darliní You Can Come and Stay With Me."

Also from that era is raspy-voiced cowboy actor Slim Pickens singing a Terr song, "A Stranger in Nashville." Terr produced an entire album by Pickens, including the Guy Clark song "Desperadoes Waiting For A Train," which Clark says is his favorite cover version of any of his tunes.

Though Terr is well-known for his song parodies, most the songs here arenít overtly funny. But there are some exceptions - notably "Son of a Rabbi Man" and the wicked "Ginkgo and Tofu," which is about a New Agerís dog and a cat forced by fate to suddenly shed their vegetarian lifestyle. Itís something of a Cerrillos/Madrid version of Nick Loweís "Mary Provost."

A few of the early-mid 80s cuts are too slick and pallid - as if perhaps Terr was making a serious bid for Nashville recognition back during the Urban Cowboy period. Fortunately, by 1986ís "She Taught Me How To Sing These Songs," heís at least got a rockiní band. And "Do You Like To Jitterbug?," recorded the year before, sounds as if he foresaw the rise of neo-swing nearly 15 years early.

My favorite tune here though is a recent one - "Readerís Digest Me" - in which Terr pleads guilty to being disgustingly normal and healthy. Thereís not a speck of cynicism in this song, no hipster sneer or Yuppie smirk. That stuff Ďs far too predictable these days. But Terrís simple sincerity found in this song and the one about his fatherís death ("The Call," 1986) is eye-opening.

"Readers Digest Me"

By Jim Terr © 1998 Blue Canyon Music BMI

I got a real thin hide, a testy side, an achiní for the all-night ride.
A cynical, sarcastic sneer, a donít-you-mess-with me veneer.
But underneath that prickly skin, a little cowboy rides within,
A very different sort of man, no stranger to my closest friends. See, ever since I was a boy, the simple things they brought me joy.
The small stuff fascinated me, my sense of curiosity.

I could make just about anything, with cardboard, scissors, glue and string,
Wire, scotch tape, rubber bands, a paper clip, a coffee can.

A Norman Rockwell sort of kid, the things I loved, the things I did.
Like sneakiní round that fishing hole with a homemade bamboo fishing pole,
Ridiní on my bike til dark, playiní football in the park,
Dreaminí Kathy or Marie would turn around and look at me.

CHORUS: So donít assume you know me just because like you like my jokes.
Donít think Iím an operator just because I know the ropes.
Cuz underneath this rebel everybody thinks they see.
Is a kinder, gentler, Readersí Digest me.

Iíve eaten high-grade caviar, sipped champagne in a penthouse bar.
But I prefer to lie in bed, with a glass of juice and some homemade bread,
And some poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay, they beat the new stuff any day,
My nephewís picture on the wall, his clever smile says it all.

CHORUS: Iím touched by tales of grace and beauty, the funny things kids say, The little acts of heroism that happen every day.
Yes, underneath this tough facade that you might think you see,
Is an easily-moved-to-tears-of-joy, a rainbow-loviní little boy,
A raccoon-chasing, Readerís Digest me.

Yes I can love with a tender heart, and I will for eternity,
The engine-tinkering, always-thinking,
Slingshot-making, cornbread-baking,
Norman Rockwell, Readers Digest me.

Review of one-man show by Jim Terr

From the Santa Fe Reporter, November 24, 1999 (© 1999)

Gringo in a Strange Land
A One-Man Show by Jim Terr


Get to know Jim Terr. It's fun, it's good for you, and it only takes three hours. [actually, it's closer to 2 hours]

By Bill Hutchison and Sarah Meadows

Would it be fair for one person to review a one-man show? There's something about that prospect that seems . . . well, one-on-one. Not enough perspectives would be involved; the whole thing might become one ego against another. Is it any fairer for two people to review a one-man show? Well, we combined two egos to find out.

S.M: Sometimes, watching one person perform autobiographical material can feel uncomfortable. It's possible to feel assaulted by feelings too intimate to be revealed; you're thinking, I don't even know this person, why are they telling me such detailed things about their personal life and history? But Jim Terr manages to avoid any sentimental pleading with his audience to forgive him for his sins, to appreciate his struggles or to laugh along with his funnier memories. Indeed, it is by virtue of this achievement that we are able to do just that.

B.H: There is a certain forgiveness, I think, that is implicitly and instinctively asked for in being so unapologetically human in front of an audience. The idea of showing a group of people this glimpse, deep and occasionally embarrassing, into a part of one man's mind is, at the same time, to show the secret parts that most of us keep hidden. Jim Terr does it without being too self-conscious of it; his hometown persona is a perfect blend of Eddie Haskell and Beaver Cleaver as it sings to you slightly out of tune and gut-bustingly funny, or tells you a tale that might have come out of your living room when you were a kid, with mom yelling or after dad had a little too much to drink; the things the neighbors never saw.

S.M: That element of the show was the most powerful, and the fact that Terr's mom was sitting in the audience made it more so. Before he started, Terr noted that his stories and songs weren't necessarily related, and that some of it might seem rather non-sequitur. This made it all even more profound: the fact that he wasnít trying to force some faked relevance into the show. It was all very, very real. Whether or not the individual stories were enthralling (many were, some weren't so much) was of no importance. What mattered was the intimacy and honesty; I feel like I know Jim Terr. But not in a creepy way. I don't feel invaded by his personal history.

B.H: The programs handed out looked like the programs handed out for the plays we performed in Mrs. Geuder's second grade class. The authenticity of combining cut-n-paste graphics with the Kinko's photocopier gives me a warm affection for the kid who grew up to be such a strangely sensitive and bizarrely funny man. The letter from Terr's dad included in the program knocked me out: here's his physician father expressing an obvious love for his son in lines like, "Dear Jim . . . If you are choosing this diet by preference, I think you have peculiar taste . . . Please take this advice as concern, not denigration." And the invitation he extended to his mom-- during the show!-- to check his facts as he went along underscored his intense love for his family. There I was, listening to it all and trying to figure out how to accept my own anger at my family's dark, cobwebbed corners. Two minutes later, though, I'm laughing my ass off as Terr sings about Ginkgo the Dog and Tofu the Cat, who [I've taken the liberty of deleting the end of this sentence, in which he gives away the hopefully-surprise ending of the song].

S.M: At the risk of sounding like said hippie, I must say that Terr created a room full of love. In the middle of the second act, I found myself uncontrollably craving mushy, boiled cabbage and carrots with butter and salt, the way my mom would serve it when she made pot roast. It took me a while to figure out that this craving came from suddenly missing my mom, and that was inspired by Terr's stories. I'd say the weaker points of his show came when he played covers of other peoples' songs. It was nice to hear his influences, but the fact is, the cover songs weren't as good as his songs.

B.H: I'm pretty reluctant to say anything about the weak points. Some of the weaknesses seemed to enrich the genuineness of Terr (who convincingly played Jim Terr for just shy of three hours) [again, it's closer to 2 hours!]. I wouldn't have been sold if the sound guy had remembered all his cues, or if Terr's guitar was perfectly in tune, or if he remembered all the words to his songs. If you want to see a refined monologuist or listen to a polished musician, stay home and watch TV. If you're interested in seeing a man bare his life and all its inherent flaws in a performance full of both life and flaws, then Jim Terr's Gringo in a Strange Land is the perfect thing.

(C) 1999 Santa Fe Reporter. All rights reserved.

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 (REPRINTED FROM "PICKIN' UP THE TEMPO", a periodic country music journal of the 70s and 80s by Roxy and Judy Gordon, reprinted recently (2009) by Judy Gordon.


  "Blue Canyon Records" by Roxy Gordon – ©  (published 1974)

          Part One


  Jerry Heist, being a collector of records, puts great stock into what some people

might consider obscure record labels. For instance, he traded me a bunch of Mercury

Big Bopper 45s for one copy of "Chantilly Lace" I had on a less-well-known label.

Jerry regularly makes the local junk stores hunting records and some months ago

came up with a real find. It was (1) a local label—from Las Vegas, New Mexico—and

(2) a good contemporary country recording. J. Ben-Isaac and the Waterbears on Blue

Canyon Records.


  A few days later, Jerry discovered J. Ben-Isaac had appeard at Rosa's in Algodones

and he found a poster for that show—a very strange photograph of what might have

been the classic punk band all crowded into a bus-station photo-booth.


  When Jim Terr of Blue Canyon Records finally showed up at my door one Sunday

afternoon, I asked about J. Ben-Isaac and discovered the connection between Jim and

J. Ben-Isaac was fairly definite and ill-defined. More than talking about J. Ben-Isaac,

Jim was interested in playing a tape of his new single. "Railroadin' Johnny" b/w "The

Roses I Remember" by Jay Wise, late of San Antonio, Texas.


  I asked Jim Terr how he got on to Jay Wise and he explained that J. Ben-Isaac had

been casting about for a guitar player, so Jim called his friend, Roger Friedman—

Kinky Friedman's brother—and Friedman put him on to Jay Wise—who was an old

friend of the Friedmans and a songwriter of some note. Kinky Friedman, in fact,

co-produced the record with Jim.


  Both sides of the single deal to some extent with rodeo, which I found, is a kind of

obsession with Jay Wise. Jay Wise has written a whole (un-recorded) rodeo concept

album for Tompall Glaser. Jay told me he sees rodeo more as a symbol of life in

general than as a sporting event.


  Jay Wise told me his folks have been around San Antone since the 1830s; that an

ancestor of his was the first Rabbi in Texas. He's been an anthropologist and a

somewhat revolutionary urban social planner. He has a horse ranch at Dale near

Lockhart, Texas.


  The Blue Canyon record is getting a lot of radio play. "Railroadin' Johnny," the

plug side, isn't my favorite kind of song. It's about an old man in San Antone who's

done some railroading and rodeoing in his time; rambling songs aren't usually my

favorites. It has a steel track of railroad sounds which is performed by Wayne

Gaily, the steel player for Albuquerque's Swamproot band, and is very well

done—but not too necessary. The other side I like a lot better—I find it closer to

the clean, modern version of traditional country production on the J. Ben-Isaac

record (which Jim Terr as chief cook, etc. at Blue Canyon also produced).


  I've heard a demo tape of several other Jay Wise songs which I think is very good.

It's literate (a historically accurate song about several mountain men) and has the

proper attitude and approach to country music. He writes songs which are aimed at

a country sound and country audience, but they—like the best of the new country

songs—don't try for any obvious consciousness (which, when tried, usually comes

out more simplistic than authentic). He writes narrative songs (which I like, as a

form) about cowboys and mountain men and such—which are some of my favorite



  Jay Wise calls himself an entertainer—as opposed, I expect, to a performer—and

that's accurate. His stage act is professional and funny. Off stage, his conversion is

likely to be diagonal rather than linear. When the microphone is turned on, he

watches himself, and the diagonalities take direction. Where the microphone makes

most people nervous, it aids Jay; it justifies and gives purpose to his performance—

which goes on most all the time anyway—off stage as well as on. I never saw him as

an anthropologist nor urban planner—but as an entertainer, he's an entertainer through

and through.


  Jay Wise shares the Blue Canyon catalogue with J. Ben-Isaac and one other group.

While that doesn't make for something the size of Columbia Records, it's well

balanced. Where J. Ben-Isaac and the Waterbears are into an almost smooth sound

(J. Ben-Isaac can be considered a smooth singer, I think), and Jay Wise is into more

artistic (and less smooth) songs—but original—the third group does a lot of other

people's material and comes on as a honky-tonk dance band. Which it is.





          Part Two


  The Last Mile Ramblers—whose first album While They Last has just been

released—formed several years ago in Santa Fe as a bluegrass band. Bluegrass

seems to have an appeal to young New Mexico audiences—which are not in any

normal sense country audiences. The Last Mile Ramblers have a very large

following among those folks, and as the band has moved beyond bluegrass to other

forms of country, a lot of them have followed. In some kind of real sense, the band

has proved to be a country music education for that group of people.


  Brandy at Rosa’s says people will call up and ask if a bluegrass band is playing;

she’ll say The Last Mile Ramblers are playing; they’ll say that’s who they meant.

Brandy will give them a short lecture on the difference in bluegrass and country.


  Of a Sunday afternoon at the Golden Inn just south of Golden, New Mexico,

where they do a regular gig every Sunday afternoon, their fans are legion. On a

typical muddy fall afternoon enough mud is tracked onto the dance floor that there

hangs a pall of dust at least to knee level and usually to ceiling level. The Golden

Inn is going under new management and there’s a promise for an exhaust fan.


  It’s a mixed crowd at Golden—predominantly bearded and bluejeaned/booted and

long-dressed—but also a smattering of what might be considered a traditional

country crowd. Some others with leather clothes and a lot of expensive turquoise

and silver jewelry. More than a few clean-cut-looking kids.


  With the exception of Billy Joe Shaver’s “Black Rose” and some Waylon Jenning’s

material, I’ve rarely heard them perform anything newer than a dozen years old.

They all express a good deal of reverence for the masters (and past masters) of

country music. Their knowledge is extensive, almost scholarly—they say they

greatly enjoy hearing an old record, and then being able to re-create it. All of them

seem to like bluegrass best, but their reverence includes all the music they do.


  Every member of the band sings. George “Bullfrog” Bourque plays flattop guitar;

Spook James plays bass. J.B. Brown, lead and steel; Steve Keith, banjo and fiddle.

Charlie “Relleno” Jobes is the drummer. Charlie once told me I should mention the

name of the 13th Floor Elevators with reverence.


  Which goes to show Charlie knows his music—the 13th Floor Elevators was the

Austin and Kerrville, Texas band which invented psychedelic music, the term as

well as the sound. Listen to an old Elevators’ record and hear what Big Brother and

the Jefferson Airplane did two or three years later. Janis Joplin was set to sing with

them when she got the offer from Chet Helms to sing with Big Brother.


  Once at Rosa’s, The Last Mile Ramblers announced they were going to do an Al

Dean song—which surprised me considerably. I have a talent for thinking nobody

but me and a few other people know anything—of course it could be that The Last

Mile Ramblers are a few of the few other people. Al Dean and the All Stars is a

South Texas band of some longevity which is also well known in Central and West

Texas (and maybe East Texas, too, for all I know). They are perhaps the best of the

regional Texas country bands.


  It was probably at that exact moment—when they announced an Al Dean song—

that I decided The Last Mile Ramblers were worth paying attention to.


  Which of course means they are a band worth listening to in the same sense Asleep

at the Wheel is worth it, or Commander Cody. They are as interesting for their

knowledge as for their interpretation. But where Asleep at the Wheel has staked out

swing and Commander Cody has staked out fiftyish rock and roll country, I really

can’t see what territory The Last Mile Ramblers might call their own. They don’t

seem primarily interested in either of those fields—or, for that matter, in any

particular field. And if they were, I’m not sure it would exactly be the right direction.

I’m not sure anybody really needs another recording of either “Take Me Back To

Tulsa” or “Twenty Flight Rock.”


  As a dance band, they can, of course, use that whole spectrum. But the best of

the dance bands—Bob Wills comes to mind—created their own material. And

that’s what I’d like to see The Last Mile Ramblers do. With the kind of knowledge

(and skill) they have, I think a solid block of original material could move them from

being probably the best honky-tonk dance band in the Albuquerque/Santa Fe area to



  Their Blue Canyon single is original material. “The Hurrier I Go (The Behinder I

Get)” is a truck-driving song written by Jim Mares, a truck-driver friend of theirs

from Houston. That record also stars Slim Pickens doing a couple of lines. The other

side is called “Come A Little Closer” and is written and sung by J.B. The truck-

driving song got encouraging airplay nationally and is mostly about the energy

crisis and the lowering of the speed limit. It’s almost a novelty tune and with my

prejudice against novelty tunes, I prefer the other side. J.B.’s side is a classic

mournful slow dancing song.


  Both sides of the single and two other originals are on the album—along with a

balance of non-original dancing pieces. The first cut is probably my favorite; it’s a

vastly up-tempo—almost rock—and eerie “Ghost Riders In The Sky.” Spook does

the vocal; Spook also does the vocal on his own “The Golden Inn Song”—which is a

tribute to their Sunday afternoon bar and audience. Spook has a deep voice with an

urgency to it something on the order of Waylon Jennings. His third vocal is Waylon

and Willie Nelson’s “Good-Hearted Woman.” J.B. does the other deep-voice material,

but his voice comes on more like, say, Dave Dudley than Waylon Jennings. He does a

couple of truck-driving songs: “Phantom 309” and “Diesel Smoke (Dangerous Curves)”

–as well as his own “Come A Little Closer.” George does the vocal on the other truck

song—“The Hurrier I Go.” George is the member of the band usually most interested in

talking about their music. George’s father had a country band back east, Slats and the

Prairie Rangers, and he has an extensive background in country music. George also

sings “Out Of Control” and “Future On Ice”—both pretty much traditional radio-type

songs from a few years back.


  I told George once that a lot of people in Texas seem to think Al Dean wrote

“Cotton-Eyed Joe” and George told me that in a lot of ways, he did. That the version

Al Dean recorded is so much different from the traditional fiddle tune that it could

almost be considered new. “Cotton-Eyed Joe” is on the album as well as another

instrumental,“Fresh Fish,” which Steve wrote with Mason Williams. Steve and J.B.

arranged their version of “Cotton-Eyed Joe.” Of all the Ramblers, Steve’s voice and

approach seems to me to be the most nearly bluegrass. He does the vocal on a

bluegrass “Nine-Pound Hammer”—and, of course, supplies banjo on the rest of

the album.


  Charlie sings on the other bluegrass-like vocal, “Tennessee”—and a very affective

“Roly Poly.” Though I’d stick by my original contention that the world’s already

heard Bob Wills do “Roly Poly” and that’s about the only one we need, I think

“Roly Poly” is second only to “Ghost Riders” on the album.


  While They Last was recorded at the Blue Canyon Studiol in Las Vegas; at John

Wagner’s in Albuquerque; live at Liberty Hall in Houston; and live at the Golden

Inn. It’s a good showcase of the kind of thing you can hear of a Sunday afternoon

at Golden and at the other area bars where the Ramblers play—and that’s high—

energy, good-humored and serious country music. — by R.G.    




(Roxy Gordon’s “Blue Canyon Records” Part One & Two – PUBLISHED--1974.)