Music News

Log Jam

Few of us will ever know the joy of invention, devising something of dual capability that not only fills the needs of the many but gets to touch millions of ladies' breasts. Paxton Quigley, inventor of the Super-Bra, is one such person. This crafty miss recently designed a brassiere that holds a gun on one cup and a can of pepper spray on the other for that Saturday night gone horribly wrong.

Another someone who has made a difference in our lives is Bob Log III, an entertainer by trade but one who, in reinventing himself as a one-man band, has laid claim to several innovations, two of which involve the exposure and public enjoyment of mammary glands. On his first album, School Bus, Log penned a ditty called "Clap Your Tits." Log's latest brainstorm has been getting women at his shows to dunk their boobs in his glass of scotch.

But more on tit clapping and "Boob Scotch" later. First, let's examine the emergency circumstance that turned Log from one half of Doo Rag, a beloved Tucson duo, into Bob Log III. On a mid-'90s tour opening up for Ween, Log suddenly found himself in limited company when percussionist Thermos Malling bowed out.

"My drummer went home. He was tired of touring, which happens to people," says Log. "I love touring, but I drove all day to the next show wondering what the hell I was going to do. I panicked because I'd never played by myself before. It was sink or swim, motherfucker -- 'cause the ship just sank. I had a helmet in my car, so I duct-taped a telephone to it, played my guitar and kicked my guitar case for the remaining eight dates."

The first show was an immediate success, judging by Log's assertion that "a girl took me home and we had sex in her friend's closet. I kept the helmet on for some of it."

It wasn't until after he got home that he decided he was going to remain a one-man band. He worked on perfecting his helmet microphone, hot-glued a $4 phone to it, which makes him sound like a scratchy old blues 78, and learned the secrets of ambidextrous playing. "You learn new shit every day, that's for damned sure," he says. "I can now play on the backbeats."

With the exception of a drum machine he programs for some songs, his live sound derives partially from his hands and feet.

"Because I finger-pick, I play bass notes with my thumb and the top strings with the rest," he says. "The guitar signal goes through an acoustic pick to an amp with a clean setting while the distorted pickup set AC/DC-style goes through its own amp. Two completely different guitar sounds and two different drum sounds. I play drums with one foot and cymbals with the other."

His mobile solo status allows him to take the Bob Log experience all over the world. He also does one or two blues festivals a year, which either goes okay or causes everybody to hate him.

"I'm like Chuck Berry or Bo Diddley," he says. "I take the blues and turn it into a party. It's pretty much rock 'n' roll. I don't know what else you'd call it. It comes from the blues. I grew up listening to Mississippi Fred McDowell. That's what made me want to do this. That and AC/DC. If someone grew up listening to only Eric Clapton and thinks the blues was meant to be played only on a Fender Stratocaster, they might not understand me. Robert Johnson or Bukka White of Fred McDowell . . . those guys didn't have a Fender guitar or amp. There's a lot of sweat and kicking over tables and playing on shitty guitars in their sound. The thing is, if there's 5,000 people and 1,000 of them get it, I've made a thousand friends. Rap festivals, metal festivals, count me in."

The list also includes festivals for one-man bands, including one in Chicago last October where 61 played over six days. Standout performers, according to Log? There was the guy who played classical banjo and had his GameBoy piped in really loud through the PA. There was another guy named Lobo out of Memphis who can play six drums with his feet while covering "Louie Louie" and "Wild Thing" on this mini guitar.

"It's the most ridiculous thing you've ever seen in your life," says Log, laughing. "Every city has a goddamned one-man band."

Phoenix, too, has its share of contenders for the one-man crown. One is Lovers of Guts, where Chris Pomerenke pretends he's a group and plays keys, drums and bass pedals all at the same time. The only prerecorded thing going on in the show is a silent video of his drawings shot in one continuous take.

Pomerenke has opened for Log in the past as part of the now-defunct Les Payne Product, including a memorable show at the Virgin Megastore at Arizona Mills in Tempe when a fan spontaneously whipped off her blouse and started tit clapping. Like Log, Pomerenke was part of a duo that morphed into a one-man band out of necessity.

"I love the idea of being a band, not necessarily a one-man band," Pomerenke says. "For most people, their impression is [of] a guy with cymbals between his knees, a harmonica holder, guitar. A guy who plays too many instruments and can't get along with people. I think of my left foot as the bassist, my right as the kick drum, my left hand as the keyboardist and my right hand as the snare."

Unlike most artists who flesh out their sound with each new release, Bob Log III perfects his recording technique with each new album. His latest, Log Bomb, finds him still recording on eight tracks at home. "I moved the guitar amp in the bathtub and an acoustic amp under the desk," he notes. "I think I've gotten a little better at it. There's actually songs I sing through a regular microphone because I want people to put their boob in my drink."

In much the same way that no one did the twist before Hank Ballard wrote a song about it, Log had to be the one to write a song called "Boob Scotch."

"The whole idea of the song is I had a really bad day, it was too hot," Log explains. "And this girl said, 'There's a bunch of sweat under my boob.' I told her to put some on the back of my neck so when the wind blows I'll cool down. But she did me one better and put her boob in my drink. I just about fell over, 'cause my minuscule idea went from boob water to boob scotch in one leap. Maybe if I was in Pearl Jam, I'd have written a song about what made my day bad . . . but no! I'm in Bob Log III and I'm gonna write about what made my day better."

He's been making the day better for lots of people. Coming off 89 performances in 2003, he found only seven that didn't comply with the song's direct dunking order; one of those, Boston, took a pass only since the U.S. rolled into Iraq that night. Surprisingly, New Orleans also proved a bust.

"I played at the House of Blues," says Log, "and everyone who goes to the House of Blues there is not from New Orleans. They're secretaries on vacation from Alabama."

Regardless of the tit-ular inconsistency, with lo-fi making inroads into the mainstream via the White Stripes, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and even the Strokes with their singing-through-a-telephone sound, it seems like a good time for Bob Log III to claim these sounds as his own.

"What I do I've been doing for 10 years. If the mainstream's moving to me, that's great for it. But it's got no bearing on me . . . I'm pretty much living in my drum, kick, slide guitar, girl sitting on my knee, put your boob in my drink world," he laughs.

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Serene Dominic
Contact: Serene Dominic