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CD PRESS RELEASE:
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
CD PICK OF THE WEEK
(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,
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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