Eugene Chadbourne

Antiwar songs by Eugene Chadbourne
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Eugene Chadbournethe life & times of

the good doctor chadbourne

Eugene Chadbourne



1970-1976 CALGARY HERALD, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Entertainment writer and editor

Youngest writer and editor in paper’s history, received civic award 1975.

Covered a beat including both classical and contemporary rock music

Freelance writer for Downbeat, Coda, McCleans, Cadence, Jazz Podium

1975 Release of first album, VOLUME ONE; SOLO ACOUSTIC GUITAR, founding the much-acclaimed Parachute label, later to document works by John Zorn, Bob Ostertag, Henry Kaiser, Polly Bradfield, and others. Premiered his first series of compositions for solo acoustic guitar. Pioneering work in the “prepared” guitar.

1976 Release of VOLUME TWO; SOLO ACOUSTIC GUITAR. Continuing series of solo concerts across Canada and in San Francisco. Collaborations with Canadian Creative Music Collective members such as Micheal Snow, Casey Sokol and the late Larry Dubin. Forms Western Music Improvisation Company with Paul Woodrow and Clive Robertson. Activities include Cable TV broadcasts and cross-Canada tour. In San Francisco, first collaborations with soprano saxophonist Bruce Ackley, later a founding member of the ROVA Saxophone Quartet.

Increasingly active in community activities:

Programmed concert series at Parachute Arts Center, a Canada Council ‘Parallel Gallery.’

Disc jockey on University of Calgary student radio, Cable FM-CORA (pioneer pirate radio enterprise) and Cable TV host (Channel 10.)

1977 Re-location to New York City. Release of VOLUME THREE; GUITAR TRIOS including recording premiere of guitarist Henry Kaiser.

Duet collaboration and performances with composer and multi-instrumentalist Leo Smith. First appearances in New York City solo gets positive reaction from New York Times critic Robert Palmer, as does Chadbourne appearance at Studio Rivbea festival as part of Frank Lowe Quartet: “Chadbourne plays in a wild, teetering style that approaches anarchy and sometimes takes the plunge.” Performs with John Lindberg, Butch Morris,

Phillip Wilson, dancer Harry Streep, Philip Johnston, Luther Thomas, Lester Bowie, Joseph Bowie, Dewey Johnson, Luther Thomas but most importantly begins musical relationship with John Zorn, founding the 300 Statues Trio with violinist Polly Bradfield. At close of year Zorn and Chadbourne journey to San Francisco for long series of concerts and recordings with TWINS quartet also featuring Ackley and Kaiser. Records for Carla Bley’s MUSIQUE MECHANIQUE with bassist Charlie Haden. Chosen as one of the artists to appear on GUITAR SOLOS THREE, an international collection produced by Fred Frith. Parachute label releases School double album including recording premiere of John Zorn and first recording of one of his compositions, Lacrosse.

1978 Plays as members of ensembles with Zorn, Bradfield, Billy Bang, Frank Lowe, Wayne Horvitz, John Oswald, Joseph Bowie, Davey Williams, LaDonna Smith, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Paul Rutherford, Steve Beresford, Henry Kaiser, David Toop, Andrea Centazzo, Fred Frith and Toshinori Kondo including first European performances. Premieres orchestra piece The English Channel at Creative Music Studio, Woodstock, NYC where he serves in capacity of guitar, orchestra and improvisation techniques. Other faculty includes Roscoe Mitchell, Carla Bley, Steve Lacy, Ursula Oppens, Garrett List and many others. Organizes guitar trio performance in New York to premiere new compositions by himself (Courage), John Zorn (Fencing) and Leo Smith (Wind Crystals).

Premieres of solo guitar pieces by Smith (Kuboxe) and Zorn (Dominoes and The Book of Heads.)

1979 Performances with Tristan Honsinger, Beresford, Kondo, Centazzo, Franz Koglmann, Walter Malli, Han Bennink, Leo Smith, Rutherford, Peter Brotzmann, Peter Kowald, Fred Van Hove, John Stevens, Tom Cora, Frith, Ostertag, David Licht, Mark Kramer, Evan Parker, Paul Lovens, Paul Lytton and Steve Lacy. Organizes large-scale festival in New York City including performance of The English Channel, also recorded and released on the Parachute label. Extremely active in promoting the acceptance and activities of European avant-garde musicians in New York City, helping to foster trans-Atlantic co-operation which continues today.

1980 Works with Centazzo, Zorn, Beresford, Kondo, Licht. Forms and rehearses The Chadbournes combo audaciously blending avant garde improvisation and traditional country and western music, forever altering the course of music. First Japanese tour with Kondo is highly controversial as are intiial American presentations where traditional song forms begin to be used, with the exception of the American South, where this concept is embraced enthusiastically.

1981 Chadbournes begin touring. Group includes Licht, Cora, Kramer and sometimes Zorn. Also performances of major Zorn compositions (Jai-Ali, Archery, Croquet) in ensembles including George Lewis, Bill Laswell, Robert Dick,. Horvitz and many others. Performs at Public Theatre, NYC, with Oliver Lake and Jump Up! Re-locates to Greensboro, N.C. and forms Southern versions of Chadbournes including Scott Manring, Becky Jordan, Tom Shephard and Chris Turner.

1982 Solo concerts continue. Chadbournes change name to Shockabilly and first recordings produced by Kramer. Chadbourne begins releasing his own cassettes, beginning a series that has baffled critics. In its unrelenting creativity and survival as a guerilla business enterprise, this series of cassettes has earned Chadbourne a place in history as one of the founders of the “low-fi” or “low-tech” movement that continues to grow in popularity as the year 2000 approaches. Invention of the Electric Rake, a humorous sound-effects and performance device that starts a whole series of similar contraptions and inspires many others to create like-minded instruments.

1983 More than 100 Shockabilly concerts in USA and Europe. Premiere of solo performance pieces involving homemade instruments The Secret of the Cooler, The Shopping Cart, The Birdcage.

1984 More than 150 Shockabilly concerts in USA and Europe, first tour diaries published in O.P. These accounts of various disasters on the road were well-received and led to many other musicians writing similar articles.

1985 Shockabilly dissolves in April, leaving behind two Eps, five albums and one single, all to be re-released by popular demand in the ‘90s. New series of solo tours and recording projects begin including Country Protest with Lenny Kaye and the Red Clay Ramblers and Country Music from SE Australia recorded on Australian tour with Jon Rose, David Moss and Rik Rue. Collaborations with Bertram Turetzky and Joan La Barbara (New Music America at Los Angeles Children’s Museum.)

1986 Year begins with Canadian Broadcasting Company’s world premiere broadcast of People Want Everything for an octet of musicians from widely diverse genres. Nearly 75 solo concerts plus collaborations with The Violent Femmes, Jon Rose, Corrosion of Conformity, Camper Van Beethoven, Butthole Surfers, Evan Johns and summer tour with Snakefinger.

1987 Solo and collaborations with Rose, Lovens, Bennink, Willem Breuker, Kondo, Lewis, Zorn, Bobby Previte, Anthony Coleman, Billy Bragg, Michelle Shocked, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Patsy Montana, Si Kahn, Holly Near, The Horseflies, Dan McCrary, Camper Van Beethoven and Elliot Sharp. Invited simultaneously to both Vancouver Folk and Jazz festivals, a distinction awarded to no other artist in festival history.

1988 Many solo concerts including the beginning of touring activity in Yugoslavia, where he remains a popular performer, and Eastern bloc countries such as East Germany and Czechoslovakia. Chadbourne tour diaries from the DDR published in West German Spex. Other Chadbourne articles published in Sound Choice, Maxium Rock and Roll and Forced Exposure and are translated and published in French, Greek and Russian.

1989 Premiere of solo performance The Cadaver, in which a corpse is created out of junk instruments, then dissected on stage. Solo tours plus work with Camper Van Chadbourne, The Sun City Girls and others. Bit part in Wes Craven’s film Shocker. University of Michigan press publishes Draft Dodger.

1990 More than 100 solo performances plus collaborations with Hans Reichel, Shelley Hirsch, David Weinstein, Jin Hi Kim, Amy Denio, Camper Van Beethoven and the Sun City Girls. Performs in Derek Bailey’s COMPANY WITH Jim O’Rourke, Louis Moholo, Alex Ward, Vanessa Mackness and others and is chosen to appear in Bailey’s four-part documentary On Improvisation where a special section deals with Chadbourne’s unique fusion of country and western and avant garde improvising. A Chadbourne song God Made Country Music for Good People Like Y’all is chosen to be played over the show’s end credits.

1991 Gulf War tour with Camper Van Chadbourne is only European tour of of this time not cancelled because of terrorist paranoia. Also performances at the Taktlos festival with Jin Hi Kim, stewardship of the Moers Festival Improvisation Project featuring Jimmy Carl Black and Don Preston of the Mothers of Invention as well as Tony Triscka, Brian Ritchie, Leslie Ross and others. Tours Japan with percussionist Shoji Hano and collaborates with Keiji Haino. Founds the Chadbourne Baptist Church, an international ensemble, performs at the Winnipeg Folk Festival with Boiled in Lead, Mojo Nixon, The New Blue Velvet Band, Gary Lucas, Utah Phillips, Ronnie Gilbert, David Moss and Robin Holcomb. Duo tour with Tony Trischka including command performance at the home of author William Burroughs.

1992 Solo concerts and performances with Han Bennink, They Might be Giants, Rose and Chris Cutler. Appearance in the Austrian film Malli: Artist in Residence with longtime collaborator Walter Malli. Malli and Chadbourne perform duo at film’s premiere in Vienna. Performer and instructor at Tennessee Banjo Institute, featured in concert with Bela Fleck, John Jackson, Said Hakmoun, Trischka, Jim Bowie, Don Stover, Weissberg, and many others.

1993 Stars the The Jack and Jim Show with Jimmy Carl Black, performing more than 100 concerts in Europe. First solo CDs in years are released on the Swiss Intakt label: Strings (instrumental) and Songs (with vocals) to rave reviews. Records on Alternative Tentacles label with Evan Johns and Mike Buck.

1994 Premiere of Crude Gene Mannipulappalachian for acoustic instruments and musique concrete at Musique Action ’94 in Vanouevre, France. Post Day of the Dead Ritual for ensemble presented at SECCA,

Winston Salem, N.C. Quartet with Malli, Sunny Murray and Peter Kowald performs at Ulrichsberg Festival, Austria. Chadbourne logically chosen to open international Home Tapers festival Fast Forward in Nijmegen, Netherlands and appears with the second generation of Chadbourne performers, vocalist Molly Chadbourne. Release of first Jack and Jim CD, Locked in a Dutch Coffeeshop Double CD retrospective Electric Rake Cake is released on Overtone and innovates new Chadbourne concept in design involving recycled packaging materials.

1995 Chadbourne records in Nashville with Kenny Malone, Don Helms, Michael Rhodes, Paul Lyman and others. Opens Thunderclaps festival in Utrecht, Netherlands in duo with Derek Bailey, the performance is later broadcast on Dutch National Radio. Jack and Jim continues to tour including several events in Croatia and Slovenia for Bosnian refugees. Also collaborations with Luc Houtkamp, Leftover Salmon, Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit. Solo recital at Royal Festival Hall, London. Family band concept expands to include both Lizzie and Molly Chadbourne at Mimi festival, Saint- Martin-de-Croix, France.

1996 Performs with Norwegian punk band TRBNGR in Trondheim to celebrate release of 45 single in which Chadbourne sings in Norwegian. First concerts by The Banjo Duet, collaboration with Dutch banjoist Volcmar Verkerk. British tour with Kenny Process Team. California tour includes collaborations with Ben Goldberg, Damon Smith, Gino Robair, Ed Cassidy and Bunk Gardner. American tour and appearance at Victoriaville festival in Quebec with Paul Lovens. Summer tours in Holland, Germany, Denmark, California, New York City and Washington D.C. including collaborations with Kaiser, Robair, Ackley, Licht, Barry Mitterhof and Ellery Eskelin. San Francisco Bass Quartet premiers first sketches from

Chadbourne orchestra piece Insect and Western. Italian tour with Tatsuya Yoshida, and Walter Malli. Following recordings all in new release or scheduled: Jesse Helms Busted for Pornography (C&W opera); Nijmegen Hassen Hunt with Bennink, Kim, Camper Van Chadbourne; Chadbourne Barber Shop with Charles Tyler, Violent Femmes, and others; In Memory of Nikki Arane with John Zorn; Boogie with the Hook, a collection of duets with Bennink, Zorn, Bailey, Tyler and Verkerk.

1997: Oakland Contrabass Quartet records four pieces from Insect and Western. Duo concert with Dan Plonsey in San Francisco, appearance with William Parker. Tuba/ Jackson Krall, drums trio. Lectures at the California Institute of Arts as special guest of Wadada Leo Smith.

Ellington Country sextet with Carrie Shull,oboe, Leslie Ross, bassoon, Paul Lovens, drums, Pat Thomas, keyboards, and Alex Ward, clarinet and saxophone, founded and first tour includes Swiss Taktlos festival and three concerts in Holland. Insect and Western Party founded with Shull and a pool of other participants. Premiere performances of many sections of Insect and Western in all these groups, continuing with Chicago engagement featuring Gene Coleman, bass clarinet; Michael Zerang, percussion, Carrie Biolo, vibraphone and Mickey Greenberg, piano. Reunion duet concert at the Knitting Factory with Chadbourne and John Zorn, alto saxophone. Insect and Western Party tours USA throughout fall with Shull, Brian Ritchie and Carrie Biolo.

Performance at the Nickelsdorf Jazz Festival with Walter Malli ensemble and in duo with Keith Rowe. Performances of Insect and Western music continue in Chattanooga, Tallahassee, New Orleans and at the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Fla.

At present The London Guitar Ensemble, The Gold Sparkle Band, The New World Ensemble and the New Music Society of Tasmania are preparing performances of Chadbourne’s compositions.

Records: Patrizio with Paul Lovens (Victo)/ End to Slavery, solo

(Intakt)./ re-release of Country Music from SE Australia (Uprising)/

Psychad (12 inch vinyl album, Swamp Room)/ From the Hellingtunes:

Double 45 set (Lucky Garage) and CD (Intakt)

Publications: I Hate the Man Who Runs This Bar: A Survival Guide for Real Musicians (Cardinal/Mix Bookshelf)

Bye Bye DDR (U. of Michigan Ridgeway Press).


New duo recording projects with fellow guitarists Henry Kaiser and Davey Williams. Release of French guitarist Noel Akchote’s set of duets with Chadbourne and Mark Ribot.

Premiere of “House by the Cemetary” at Arts Watch, Louisville, Kentucky.

Performance of Insect and Western pieces in Ventura and Los Angeles, Ca. With southern California based musicians. Solo performances throughout midwest including Kansas City, St. Louis, Little Rock, Memphis. Italian tour including concert in Rome, March. New solo performance in Paris and recording of solo album for Rectangle. Re-release of Vol. 2 Solo Acoustic Guitar on Rastascan label. Performance with Paul Lovens in Berlin at annual Total Music Meeting. Solo concerts in New York, Washington, Boston. Trio with Alex Ward and Pat Thomas set to play 8 Westcan festivals including Vancouver and Edmonton. Same trio slated for Festival for River Eno, Durham, North Carolina. Release of Insect and Western composition collection on Leo Records.

Fall European tour includes first all-Bach recital in Ghent, Belguim, guitar quartet in Rotterdam with Lukas Simonis, Jacques Palinncx and Leonid Soyblelmin; duet performance in Paris with Rene Lussier; three performances in Holland with Ad Peynenberg. In November collaboration in USA and Canada with John Oswald, Stephan Rush and the Detroit band Immigrant Suns. Premiere of I Talked to Death in Stereo to celebrate release of Horror Part One CD, inaugurates the Horror Part One Band with Joee Conroy, Norman Minogue, Eena Ballard and Steve Good. Tour of Texas in December includes duos with Doug Garrison in New Orleans and Davey Williams in Birmingham, and two performances of the Butterfly Garden in Atlanta, the first with Rob Mallard and Jeff Sipes, the second with a six piece workshop ensemble including Mallard. Final gig of the year is appearance with Zambiland Orchestra in Atlanta with Colonel Bruce Hampton, Sipes, members of Leftover Salmon, Moe and other bands, Derek Trucks, etc.

Lecture/demonstration Expanding the Jazz Repertoire presented at U of M, Ann Arbor..


Performaces of Butterfly Garden in New York City with Ellery Eskelin and Brian Ritchie. Trio in Philadelphia with Toshi Makihara and John Berndt. Collaborations and touring through Kansas City, St. Louis, Bloomington (Ill.) a/o. European tours scheduled for March-April and May-June, formation of new Mondo Chadbournes 2000 Trio with Chris Cornetto and Billy Kettle. This group performs in London at the LMC Festival and on a special boat ride concert organized along canals and riverbanks between Amsterdam and Utrecht. Hellington Country sextet performs at 1999 Nickelsdorf Jazz Confrontation,


Chadbourne is chosen as curator for August program at Tonic, New York City, among other activities presents the Horror Part Two Band, a country and western concert and inaugurates a Wednesday bluegrass series. Phil Ochs tribute and evening of new solo guitar music presented at Brecht Centre, NYC. New Camper Van Chadbourne trio lineup with Jonathan Segel and Victor Krummenacher records new live CD at Knitting Factory Old Office.

Performs in September with Han Bennink in Toronto. In October solo and duo concerts with Me and Paul with Paul Lovens in Germany, Austria and France. Invited to participate in festival in Kobe, Japan in November.

Horror Part Two Band CD set for Halloween release on Leo records.

Last recording session of the year done for Avant with Mark Dresser, Susie Ibarra and Joe Morris. CD to be entitled Pain Pens.


Year begins with two important collaborations: The quartet with Susan Alcorn, pedal steel; Walter Daniels, harmonica; and David Dove, trombone, pays tribute to the late Doug Sahm and records Texas Sessions in Austin and Houston. Then, on to Florida where Bedbugs is premiered with sextet including faculty from St. Petersburg and Tampa area music colleges. Camper Van Chadbourne two week tour of Europe in February.

House of Chadponk home label released with entire back catalog coming out on CD, many titles for the first time. Series of performances in Kansas City with Malachy Papers jazz band. Tour in Italy with Zu Band, followed by performance at Albert Ayler tribute in Koln Triennele, a project suggested by Chadbourne. In early May, the largest Chadbourne project to date, a collaboration with the 22-piece folk ensemble Olga Volgala in Ghent, Belguim, as part of that city’s major music festival.

Performing with Me and Paul as well as Ernest Tubb Memorial Band in Action 2000 festival. Me and Paul set for August Mulhouse Jazz festival in France.

Earth Day performance in Nashville.

July Chadfest set in New York City with Guy Klusevek, Miya Masoka, Kevin Norton and Mark Dresser.

Me and Paul set for August Mulhouse Jazz festival in France, also performs at Palermo Jazz Festival and the Jazz Bicycle Festival in Gronigen, Holland. Earth Day performance in NashvilleFall tour of southern USA with Han Bennink including performances in Nashville, Asheville, Columbia, Durham, Greensboro and Atlanta. Followed a month later by an even more extensive tour with Paul Lovens, about 20 concerts between North Carolina and Texas. Chadbourne performs solo at first ever concert series at Intuit Gallery in Chicago, Northampton College and special post election concert--remember, nobody won this time--at Johnny D's in Boston. Created film music for Alfred Hitchcock's "The Lodger" with Walter Pratti and others at special Hitchcock Festival held in Milan.


The year kicks off with solo performance at Centre Pompidou in Paris and Me and Paul performing at the Sons D'Iver festival the next day. Me and Paul continues on tour through Italy, France, Austria, Germany, Poland and Belgium.

Short duo tour in March unites Dr. Chadbourne with percussionist Toshi Makihara, including shows in New York City and Washington, D.C. Solo performances in midwest and Ontario and first collaboration with Immigrant Sons Orchestra in Detroit. In April, historic collaboration with Texas Tornados/Doug Sahm rhythm section and others is captured by Boxholder records for eventual release as Texas Sessions: To Doug, Chapter Two. Camper Van Chadbourne tours in Europe in the early summer, followed by a handful of east coast dates with Me and Paul.

Following a summer’s hiatus from gigs—the first in more than 15 years, the Jack and Jim show spring back into action for a series of dates in Holland and Paris. On Sept. 10, Chadbourne plays a devastating version of his song “America Stands Tall” for an appreciative audience in Gronigen, Holland. Chadbourne is still in Holland on Sept. 11, but the Jack and Jim tour is completed.

A series of performances in Scandanavia with Martin Klapper and Herman Muntzig goes on as planned, but the duo tour with Han Bennink tour scheduled for late September and early October in places such as Florida and the midwest is cancelled; Han refuses to travel. Only a few isolated gigs before Jack and Jim meet up with Pat Thomas for the extremely successful Jimi Hendrix tribute in Reggio Emilia, Italy, held in conjunction with a series of compositions by avant garde Italian composers dedicated to Hendrix. The CD “Jimi II” is released from this set and is received enthusiastically.


The first tour of the year is a series of gigs in California, including several in Los Angeles, a return to Ventura’s City Hall, a special jazz concert with Bertram Turetzky at one of the hospitals in San Diego, and both solo and Camper Van Chadbourne shows in San Francisco. There is also a special Valentine’s Day gig in San Francisco with Ashley Adams on bass and Beth Custer on clarinet, reviving the Insect and Western Party group name.

In March, Me and Paul tours in France and Germany, including a triumphant show at the Nimes Jazz Festival. Chadbourne carries on alone to the Basque country, where he records both solo banjo and in collaboration with the French rockabilly band The Wild Bud.

Meanwhile, the Bach solo banjo project has been recorded and is in production for the Volatile label. Chadbourne performs in duo with Cooper Moore at the Brecht Forum in New York City, then heads to Russia for festival appearances in both Moscow and St. Petersburg, courtesy of the Cultural Exchange Commission. His reception in Russia is overwhelmingly positive.

The Midwest Chadfest in Kansas City follows, a remarkably successful venture in which Chadbourne worked in several different contexts including performances with the jazz band Malachy Papers and several ad hoc groupings.

In May the Victoriaville festival presents Chadbourne in duo with Rene Lussier and the results are part of a projected live CD. Chadbourne’s performance activity in his hometown of Greensboro suddenly jumps into high gear with his regular jam session gigs on Tate Street; the band Monk Vs. Ornette, playing cover tunes guess who, is one of the results of this as well as Greensboro fans now being able to see the Dr. live sometimes three times a month or more, sometimes even twice in one day.

Early June brings an unforgettable series of solo gigs in Llubjana and Croatia followed by the premiere of the Slim and Slam Project with Bertram Turetzky and Paul Lovens at three Austrian shows.

In July Chadbourne appears at the Vancouver Folk Festival as part of the Collaboratory, an amazing project involving an international cast of musicians. Besides playing solo at the festival, Chadbourne performs with Debashish Bhattarcharya (Indian slide guitar), Amir Koushakni (tar), Vivian Xia (yanquin) and others; he also guests at the festival with Montreal hip-hoppers Freeworm and the controversial Bitch and Animal.

Coming up in the fall of 2002 are a special festival project in Winston Salem in a trio with percussionist Gerry Hemingway and multi-instrumentalist Scott Manring, an ensemble project with Rene Lussier performing in Montreal, solo concerts in the Midwest and participation in Baltimore’s High Zero festival along with dozens of other free improvisers.


1965 Whittier Elementary School, Boulder, Colorado.

1966-1968 Casey Junior High School, Boulder Colorado

1968-69 Boulder High School, Boulder,. Colorado.

Chadbourne removed himself from the education system shortly after this to begin working as an office boy for the Calgary Herald. He has returned to educational institutions many times since then to present lectures, workshops and special presentations. He has lectured on avant garde music at the Alberta College of Art, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, York University, Toronto; McGill University, Montreal; Columbia University, New York City; Cal Arts, California; Davis University, California; Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan and many others. He also presented classes for children ranging in age from nursury school up through high school in both public and private schools, usually on a volunteer basis through classes attended by one of his children.


In addition to various highlights mentioned in the text, Chadbourne has been featured on nearly 100 commercially released albums and compact discs, the lion’s share his own projects. He is also a frequent guest as sideman on avant-garde, jazz, country and rock projects and has appeared on many compilations released throughout the world.

Draft Dodger (1995) Ridgeway Press, Michigan

Bye Bye DDR (1997) Ridgeway Press, Michigan

I Hate the Man That Runs This Bar (Mixbooks) (1997)
Dr. Chadbourne's House of Chadula