A Special Message to All Our Fans and Friends

Over 8 years ago, the idea of the Smokin’ Fez Monkeys was hatched. It’s been a wild ride with many twists and turns and many wonderful, crazy adventures.
A few years back founder “Rattletrap Jack” hung up his Hokum and just this year “Bullfrog” Plunkett left us to join that big banjo and kazoo orchestra in the sky.
We miss them both.
But make no mistake, good people, The Fez Monkeys are as Smokin’ and rarin’ to go as ever!
We have revamped the song list and are having a helluva good time as a trio – raising some eyebrows as we go!
We’ll be out there lookin’ for ya so don’t be a stranger, ‘kay?
Clem, Petunia & Gnarly

Happy 2013!

Well hello there, all you fine friends of The Smokin’ Fez Monkeys!  Gnarly Snag here, and on behalf of Uh, Clem, Bullfrog and Petunia, I want to wish y’all a fantastic and rip-snortin New Year!  2012 was pretty darned good, full of lots of travel and pickin’ and all sorts of tomfoolery (no offense, Tom). From Garrettsville to Carey, from Burton to Grand Rapids (Ohio, that is), from Lakewood to Akron and everywhere in between, we spread the love and tunes far and wide this past year. There were a couple of goof-ups and instances where one of us didn’t find our way to where we were supposed to be at the right time, but who’s counting.  It all worked out for the best and in the end the crowds went wild anyway….mostly. Added a bunch of new songs to the repertoire and even rehearsed them once or twice. Managed to check off a few more Mexican restaurants in our quest to visit every single one of them in the Continental U.S. Watch the website for a map showing our conquests!

We are truly excited about the year ahead with new places to play in the works, as well as some of our favorite haunts.  We thank y’all so much for sticking with us and comin’ on out and hootin’ and hollerin’ for us; wouldn’t be much of nothin’ without you!

Be sure to keep up on the latest at

http://smokinfezmonkeys.com,

and also,

https://www.facebook.com/SmokinFezMonkeys

Welcome to 2013 – here we go!

promosmall

What a May!

Well, friends and Monkey-fans, it has been quite a month, this month just past. It started many Mexican restaurants ago on the 7th when we ventured south for another appearance at the Central Ohio Folk Festival near Columbus. Clem, Gnarly and Bullfrog conducted a workshop on playing jug band instruments, with some attendees becoming initiates to join us later during our performance. Love those free kazoos! Meanwhile a mean old nasty and unruly GPS device led our Petunia on a wild goose chase and she unfortunately did not arrive in time for our concert. Hold the ribbing, please. So it was up to that trio we like to call the Nairobi Trio (google Ernie Kovacs) to save the day. So, flying by the seat of our pants, Bullfrog, Gnarly and Clem pulled a decent show out of their butts (thanks to the initiates) and all was well. Yes, Petunia, we managed without you but it wasn’t easy and we’d rather not have to do that again. Following the obligatory Mexican Restaurant, we returned home, weary and wiser……I think.

Then following a rehearsal or 2 (believe me we do that occasionally), it was time for the Smokin Fez Monkeys Music Party Bawdy Song Hour and Jam at P.J. Mcintyre’s at Kamm’s Corners on the 15th. Wow – what a time! Good turnout, lots of rude jokes and songs. Special thanks to maestro John Reynolds for coming along and being the 5th Monkey for the day (don’t give Gnarly the mandolin again – it’s dangerous). We hope to make it a regular thing, if not this summer, maybe as the weather turns cold (you know, it’s gonna do that again – hate to remind you).

On the 21st, we headed to the beautiful metropolis of Alliance to share the stage with Rio Neon at Jupiter Studios. A grand night topped off with an all-out jam at the end of the night with all the musicians. Good times! Nice artwork, great stage.

Next up was Memorial Day and the Utica Ice Cream Festival in….well, Utica. Bet you didn’t know there was a Utica, Ohio. This time the 4 of us traveled together in 1 van – and we didn’t strangle each other or anything – good sign. It was the first hot day of the year and luckily they had a nice awning over the stage. Bring on the water…as a matter of fact pour it over our heads while you’re at it. They took good care of us and we’ll be back there later in the summer for their Homecoming festivities. Great ice cream, by the way.

So that was May and The Smokin’ Fez Monkeys are just gettin’ wound up. The summer promises to be busy and exciting and silly. We’ve had a long talk with Petunia’s GPS, Bullfrog’s got new wheels, Clem even shined his shoes, and Gnarly, well let’s just say they don’t call him “Mr. Snazz” for nothin’. (Look out, Salvation Army!)

Anyway all the Monkeys would like to take the opportunity to thank each and every one of our fans for supportin’ us in these tough times. It’s nice to know that y’all still love us.
Check the website for updates on our appearances and we’ll see y’all down the road! Hooweee!

http://www.smokinfezmonkeys.com

Back from the Jug Band Jubilee

Wow!  All I can say is wow!  Well, I suppose I had better say a little more than that, now hadn’t I?  What a weekend the Smokin’ Fez Monkeys had in good ol’  Louisville, Kentucky.  The 6th annual Jug Band Jubilee, held again this year at Waterfront Park.  The weather was superb, the music was oh so tasty, and the camaraderie was sublime.  All these folks that are drawn to this event are some of the coolest, most friendliest folks you’d ever wanna know.  The music is so joyous (especially for a genre that got it’s start in the blues) and the atmosphere is infectious.  This was our second year to be invited to play and this time we were on later in the day’s proceedings;  late enough to be up under the stage lights.  All the groups before us had laid down some unforgettable toe-tappin, face-grinnin’, slap your knees good fun music.  And then it was our turn.  This year we invited  some guest artists to join us on stage: old friends “Jackelope John” Reynolds on mandolin, Mark Sweeney on washtub bass and Fred Glock on his newly fashioned plastic, electrified jug.  The set went down just fine, thank you.  The crowd was a-dancin’ and singin’ along, hootin’ and yes, even hollerin’!  Bullfrog crooned,  Petunia warbled and made that fiddle talk,  Clem stood in stable, calm solitude, and Gnarly (that’s me) jumped, laughed, tickled them geetar strings and beat anything in reach.  We brought it to ’em and they loved it.

But wait – there’s more.  In the audience sat legendary musician, jug band pioneer and headliner Jim Kweskin and he musta saw somethin’ he liked in us for he tapped us to join him and Geoff Muldaur on stage for their show-closing set.  Yes – us!  I know, right?  Can you believe it?  We met him down the boardwalk while the Roe Family singers played and had a quick rehearsal.  Then 6 songs in they called us up to join them and back them up.  What a crazy good time and my, what an honor!  Somebody pinch me!  OW! Hey, that’s just a figure o’ speech, ya know!  Anyway, what a dream!  What a fan-dam-tastic way to close out the festival!

A while later, back at the motel,  it was time for the other good part of this thing:  the big open jam.  Many members from many of the bands dropped by to jam on tunes, some that everybody knew and some that were more obscure but no less fun.  (say, Clem, how d’ya play this danged bass without gettin’ immediate blisters, eh?)  Jim and Geoff even dropped by and picked and grinned along with the rest of us.  ( say – pass me that fruit jar, would ya?) It was crazy good fun – wish you coulda been there.   We finally ran out of steam around 3:00 a.m., but the walls in that room are still ringing with all the great music that went down, I am sure.   Such good and talented folks and we Fez Monkeys are so glad to be counted among their ranks!  America’s happiest music indeed! Maybe see ya again next year, Louisville!

New CD now available online!

Hey everyone! Ima Twisted Snag here, your friendly neighbourhood webmistress. As i write this, the Fez Monkeys are on their way back from the Jugband Jubilee in Louisville KY. Aside from “dinner at a Mexican restaurant”, i haven’t heard any stories of their trip yet, but i’m sure they had a good time.🙂

Because i’m a bit twisted, it’s taken me a little while to get the new live album up on the web site. (Sorry guys: I understand if you want to throw pies at me. I prefer something with chocolate, for the record. ;)) But i digress. Without further adieu:

The Smokin Fez Monkeys: In Their Natural Habitat

The Story of the Guitar Case

Hello Fez Monkey fans! Uh…Clem (AKA Jim) has a most entertaining story to share with you all. Check it out.

The Webmistress,
~Ima Twisted Snag~

*******************************

Here’s my story, told in mostly email exchanges between me and  John L, from the Houston, TX area.   I wanted a good, sturdy guitar case for one of my guitars.  I found one on Ebay.  The price was really good, and won the auction.

The seller sent me a tracking number that was supposed to be for UPS.  I checked the UPS site a few time, but they had no record of it.  After two days I emailed the seller to see what happened.  He checked on it and found that his shipper had actually used Fedex instead of UPS.  He gave me the actual shipping charges, and offered to pay me for any excess that I had paid.

OK.  This is a pretty boring story so far, but stay with me here.

I emailed him back, telling him that his cost was more than I had paid, and offered to send him the difference ($1.27 by the way).  This is where it starts to get interesting.

John L:  “Then I demand you play a song for me, at your leisure, as repayment. Make it something snappy, maybe ragtime.”
Jim:  “… since you asked, here  it is –>  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyNhcEjSoLE

Hope you like it.  I’m not playing guitar here, but the guitar being played is one of mine.  I’m the guy with the upright bass.”  (The youtube link is a video from last year’s Jugband Jubilee in Louisville.)

John L:  “OK, now this is just getting weird. I had no idea you were THAT Jim Stone. I love your band – I must admit I bought it for the cover art alone and the fact that the CD is great is just a huge bonus.
…I am a big jug band, ragtime, etc fan, being a big fan of Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys, R Crumb of course, the Juggernauts, the recently departed (or still departing) Asylum Street Spankers, and, well, those dang Smokin Fez Monkeys! It was through this side of things that I found my mandolin of choice – a wood bodied National RM1, which with Jazzmando strings and a thickish Blue Chip pick, loses the metallic sound, gives a warm wooden tone, and it becomes the ultimate instrument for playing Irish dance music on – mandolin sound that can stand up to a bunch of other loud instruments. And as we speak, Keith Cary is making me a commodium mandolin (bed pan for the body). I know your mandolin player uses a National steel bodied mando (I think anyway).

So you may not have known you were buying this case from a fan, an instrument builder, and all that. Small world indeed. Go Monkeys!!!
PS, I am also weird enough to understand the “Uh, Clem” thing. Now I have to dig out some Firesign LPs when I get home!”
Jim:  “Weird doesn’t even begin to describe this coincidence.  How did you hear about us?”

John L:  “Not sure how I heard of you guys. When you like oddball music, google is your friend for sure. (When I took up these pipes, it took months to get any info and that was from an English record label, but now, it takes one google and you get all you could ask for.) I may have been looking around at CD Baby or somewhere. It may have been finding a festival that someone I like was playing at and seeing who else was there.”
So, at this point I HAD to send him the new cd.  John, I hope you like it.
Jim

CD Release Party Afterthoughts

Our CD release party Saturday, August 7th at the Kent Stage was a phenomenal success! We hand lettered gift bags of monkey junk for a hundred people, and about half of them showed up to claim their prizes of peanuts, pretzels, buttons, stickers, party squawkers, and certified official genuine authentic Smokin’ Fez Monkeys kazoos. We can only assume that the other half got their information from the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s delightful pictorial on us that announced we’d be there on Sunday.

Unprompted, the audience began blowing the party squawkers after each number to enhance their applause, and the ensuing racket was so beautiful that uh, Clem sprang for a gross of them to pass out at future gigs. His financial sense is often called into question.

When Princess Petunia noted that to play the kazoo and the squawker at the same time, you’d have to use both nostrils, Rattletrap Jack retorted, “That’s how we tested ’em. Every single one.” Everybody drew a breath to say “ewww” and then realized he was joking.

The new monkey cannon, sorry to say, was a complete failure. Bullfrog Plunket did manage to get it designed, built, broken and repaired in time for the show, but the stuffed monkeys were a tiny bit wider than the cardboard tube and flew only a few inches, if they made it out of the barrel. No problem, thought we, the monkeys have stretch tubing arms and are designed for flinging – just have Gnarly Snag stick their hands together with the velcro tabs, pull back on the feet and let fly like a big rubber band. Except when he tried that, the velcro failed and the monkeys just snapped backwards. So he just ended up tossing them into the crowd in exasperation. Better comedy than we could ever have planned, but maybe we should stop buying promotional items at garage sales.

Hey, maybe we can modify the cannon to shoot all those squawkers uh, Clem bought.

At the break, we all went to the lobby for free hot dogs and raw veggies, signed autographs, gabbed with friends, and sold out our entire order of 1,000 CD’s, except for about 968 of them.

In the back half of the show, we were joined by Jackelope John on mandolin and Old Man Fred, World’s Nicest Man on acoustic jug, and Silly Bill on the electric jug, after convincing him it was perfectly safe, even though it dribbled. Backwards Darb Notlob joined us for a number on the turkey baster, which he plays with astonishing tone and accuracy. Freestyle jamming was the order of the day, and it sounded almost like music.

Then as Bullfrog demonstrated how the cannon didn’t work, Rattletrap Jack disappeared for the second time, presumably to take another phone call, and reappeared in the guise of a giant chicken.

We noticed most of the members of Rio Neon were in the audience, so we insulted them. Then we thanked Chris the sound man for his fine work and insulted him for making Bullfrog’s instrument sound like a banjo.

We closed out the evening with our favorite polka, for which Rattletrap Jack, now out of the chicken costume except for the feet, debuted the catastrophonium which appeared to be the aftermath of a terrible accident in a second hand store.

Great fun was had by all on stage and in the seats.

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