The Javelinas
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The Javelinas

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The best kept secret in music

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"Javelinas: Roots And Blues In Our Own Backyard"

If you think about it, Champaign-Urbana is the perfect place for a duo to produce music that falls into categories as diverse as country-blues, folk, gospel and bluegrass (to name a few). It’s the place of cultures meeting; the middle of the country. And Bruce “Bruiser” Rummenie (guitar and dobro, of the Impalas and Virtues, recently, and numerous other projects past) and John “J.T.” Tubbs (about as varied a bass player/producer as they come) are two local musicians who have made this concept a reality. The duo plays under the name Javelinas, though they play together in both the Virtues and the Impalas, as well. The record, All I Know… , out now and self-released, brings with it the feeling both of a modern folk record and of the vintage recordings of eras past.
“We wanted to do something kind of different, you know?” Rummenie says. “The Virtues is a jump band with two horns and a piano. John’s been in the Impalas which is a straight-up electric blues band. We wanted this to stand out a little more. Make it sound, as John said all the time, like two dead guys playing on the back porch.”
Rummenie wrote all of the record’s songs, save the last one, written by a friend named Kent LeCouris, and Tubbs mixed the record while in Slovakia for five months earlier this year. Rummenie laments the process by which the record was produced, with Tubbs mixing overseas and uploading the songs to a Web server for him to download and comment on or approve. The two agree that the culmination of these specific songs, some of which took form in the studio and some compositions came from up to 20 years ago, was originally to simply get them on tape.
“We just started playing acoustic guitar and laying tracks,” Rummenie says. “I didn’t write them all thinking this was going to be an acoustic record. They’re just songs that didn’t seem like they’d fit anything else we were doing. And like John said, we wanted to get them down. I didn’t think we were really going to do a record at all. I thought we were just messing around in the studio, but after a while it sounded good and we started bringing other people in.”
But to this duo of musicians, knowledgeable about the history of music and conscious of where they are currently dabbling (especially in light of O Brother, Where Art Thou?’s reinvention of the “roots” genre in popular context), it’s not as simple as sitting down and deciding to play a certain type of music..
“I think of roots music more as an eclectic kind of music than a specific genre,” Tubbs says. “I really came to realize that what I was listening to growing up [in Minnesota] was not really bluegrass, but it was roots music. The way I came with my parts to the recording and what I added to Bruiser’s songwriting was the kind-of bluegrassy, kind-of folk, old string swing, western swing kind of stuff, which was exactly what I was listening to in Minneapolis in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s … all these great bands, a lot of which came through Garrison Keillor’s show.
“For me, it was like going back to those roots,” Tubbs continues. “But those roots were all drawing from a lot of American stuff … anything but plugging in an electric guitar and bashing drums kind of counted in the definition of ‘roots’ I grew up in. Even playing electric guitar and drums has its place, too, but specifically in our project it tended to be more acoustic because the two of us in other contexts have done a lot of electric things.”
Rummenie comments that his brother suggested the record was more Midwestern than anything, and despite a pensive silence from both Rummenie and Tubbs, there seems to be an agreement.
“I thought that was a pretty good appraisal of what it is,” Rummenie says. “It sounds pretty honest. It’s simple. And I realized it is probably pretty Midwestern.”
As producer, Tubbs’ task in the process was crucial. Somehow, he found a way to make a record that was recorded over nine months sound as if it were an impromptu gathering of friends on the porch on a hot summer night.
“Its surprising that we were able to actually get that feeling,” Tubbs says. “Bruiser has got the most awesome acoustic guitar time in the world and we would sit down and he would stomp stuff out with a big guitar sound. The spontaneity of those core rhythm tracks we put down … that’s what gave it that life, that good, chunky feel, and we built it from there.
“Everyone who played on the album has worked amongst this group of buddies and pals for a long time, so we kind of knew how each other played to start with. So it hides that it’s a big overdub job. I think a lot of the history and the people helped keep that whole vibe going.”
Tubbs contends that the band, like many other bands, is a reflection of its audience.
“Where we’re at in our personal playing evolution … [our listeners] are less likely to go to a big, loud, bashing blues gig,” Tubbs says. “They want something to be a little more on the intimate setting. Just people gathered aroun - Zack Adcock, The HUB


"From Champaign music legend George Faber"

You and John should be very proud.  The CD is unpretentious and cohesive.  I love the way it travels from the Mississippi Delta to the Appalachians, Chicago, Texas and the Southwest.  Over all that musical geography, you still keep the feel in a laid back mellow groove.  Nice work.
 
Good luck with the project...
George - Personal Quote


"All I Know in top 20 play rotation"

From: Bruce L Bergethon <blberge@ilstu.edu>
Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 12:46:28 PM America/Chicago

Subject: DECEMBER 2004 playlist for GLT's Acousticity
To: WGLT's Acousticity buddies:

Dear friends in the recording industry:
Below is WGLT's DECEMBER 2004 playlist report for "Acousticity," a four-hour show featuring singer/songwriters, bluegrass, newgrass, Celtic, folk, etc. This report, generated on December 27th, includes ALL NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER (including holiday CDs) ADDS, and all CURRENT releases in medium to heavy rotation.
* Featured CDs and programming in DECEMBER were: Alison Krauss and Union Station, "Can't You Hear Me Callin'," holiday recordings including Cherish the Ladies, Diane Zeigler, and Christmas Bluegrass 2, and a review of the best of 2004.
* If you want to be removed from the email list, or if this is sent to the wrong address, please let me know at blberge@ilstu.edu
* The address for music is: WGLT-FM, Illinois State University, Campus Box 8910, Normal, IL 61790-8910, attn: Bruce Bergethon
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Acousticity" MAXIMUM ROTATION: THE TOP 20 DECEMBER 2004 * = new this month

American Roots VARIOUS ARTISTS Beautiful Dreamer: Songs of Stephen Foster
* Backcountry CHRIS STUART & BACKCOUNTRY Mojave River
Bell Buckle BECKY BULLER Little Bird
* Columbia Legacy VARIOUS ARTISTS Can't You Hear Me Callin': 80 Years of Bluegrass
* Compadre JULIE LEE Stillhouse Road
* Compass KIERAN KANE & KEVIN WELCH You Can't Save Everybody
Compass SHARON SHANNON Libertango
Compass PIERCE PETTIS Great Big World
* Copper Creek JOHN LAWLESS Five and Dime
Driving Records FREE RANGE PICKIN' Free Range Pickin'
Dualtone NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND Welcome to Woody Creek
Red House BILL STAINES Journey Home
Red House GREG BROWN In the Hills of California
Red House THE WAILIN' JENNYS 40 Days
* ReQuest PAT FLYNN ReQuest
* Rounder ALISON KRAUSS & UNION STATION Lonely Runs Both Ways
Rounder PETER ROWAN AND TONY RICE You Were There For Me
Stony Plain AMOS GARRETT The Amos Garrett Acoustic Album
Windham Hill VARIOUS ARTISTS Appalachian Picking Society
* independent THE JAVELINAS All I Know ...
- WGLT Radio, Public Radio, Bloomington, IL


"CD Review"

Many are the albums recorded by local C-U bands. Almost always these CDs are up to contemporary standards and do our local music scene proud. But this time, local artists have collaborated on an album of original acoustic music that reaches the pinnacle of excellence on a national (if not international) level. All I know about All I Know is that it’s one of my top five picks of this year, and this year’s not even over!

The main man of magic is Bruce “Bruiser” Rummenie, who has partnered with fellow acoustic player and recording/mixing/producing genius John “JT” Tubbs. Providing a full band sound are Dawna Nelson and Brandson Washington’s vocal harmony, Doc Lecouris’s harmonica and Neal Robinson’s accordian.

Call it country, acoustic blues, folk, roots, gospel, Americana, call it what you like, but whatever you do, call it addicting and easy to listen to as the original Beach Boys. Plus The Javelinas have something the Beach Boys never had - a dazzling dobro (a la Bruiser) in their ensemble!

Get this CD-I guarantee you’ll be singing along by the third listen.
- James Walker, The Hub Weekly, 9-23-04


Discography

All I Know - 2004
Radio airplay on WGLT-FM's ACOUSTICITY show.

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

The Javelinas play an pastiche of original, acoustic roots music. From the Mississippi Delta to the Appalachians, from gospel to blues, they cover the spectrum of American roots music.

Bruce “Bruiser” Rummenie has been a stalwart on the Champaign-Urbana music scene for almost years as a guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He was the founder of The Mudhens - which was one of CU’s most popular blues bands from 85-90. They recorded two albums “Have Mercy” and “Waxing the Cat” (both comprised of primarily original songs by Rummenie) and regularly ruled the roost at Mabel’s and the Alley Cat with lead singer Kevin Deforrest holding court and initiating a certain hysterical yet philosophical blues revelry that is still recalled with fondness by many Mudhen fans today.

Bruiser left C-U in 90-91 and spent a year in Austin,Texas studying some of his guitar heroes and absorbing the blues scene before returning home to form the Impalas. The Impalas performed regularly in the state for seven years, garnered a strong following, and recorded a CD, eponomously titled “The Impalas.”

Rummenie was also a member of the original folk/country/acoustic blues act The Freak Brothers - which featured Deforrest (who later would contribute a tune to the 1st Javelinas CD) and ex-Otis and the Elevators singer/guitarist/songwriter/film producer, Jay Rosenstein. They recorded one CD live at the Channing Murray chapel in ‘90.

In 1998, Bruiser met multi-instrumentalist John “JT” Tubbs - who had relocated from Madison, Wisconsin, who himself possesses an impressive musical resume most notably as a sideman for House of Blues recording artist Paul Black and the Flip Kings. With the Flip Kings he recorded “King Dollar,” a top five pick of 1996 by Guitar Player Magazine and slide guitar cult classic. With the Flip Kings JT performed at the Chicago Blues Festival, The House of Blues clubs in Chicago and Los Angeles, and Summerfest in Milwaukee. While in Madison he appeared over 10 CD’s with local artists and was a fixture in the blues and jazz scene.
Prior to The Javelinas, Bruiser and JT formed Bruiser and the Virtues, a original jump blues outfit that features many respected C-U musical veterans. The Virtues recorded the CD “Bruiser and the Virtues - From Vice to Virtue and Vica Versa” released in 2001. In 2004 they were selected to represent Central Illinois at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.

Bruiser always had a cache of original songs that never really fit with his past and present bands, but were gems in the rough. Often played at singer/songwriter shows and impromptu acoustic gigs it became apparent to Bruiser that they needed to be developed. The idea of recording initially was simply to document the tunes. Quickly he realized that the studio collaboration with JT was turning these songs into something worth pursuing both from a recording as well as performing standpoint.

The CD has gathered local critical success as well as some regional accolades. In the fall of 2004 it was chosen by the Central Blues Societies as their best self produced CD of the year. It has received airplay on WGLT-FM’s (Bloomington-Normal Public Radio) ACOUSITICITY show.
JT has since left the band to pursue other musical avenues, and Bruiser has enlisted Peter Roubal on guitar, Ed Schaller on bass, Dawna Nelson on vocals, and Jeff Magby on drums. The Javelinas are now officially a "band" or perhaps a "herd"