Jolly Ranchers

by The Jolly Ranchers

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about

Engineered by Joe Harvard, Prod. by JH & Dave Bone
on 1/2" 8-track at Fort Apache South, 1986
Songs c. George Jones, Bob Dylan, Merle Haggard, Gram Parsons, Long John Baldry and the Everly Brothers.

* Not all the songs laid down as basic tracks by the Ranchers were completed; "Wheels" and "Jubilee Cloud" have "beds" prepared for he solo, but no solo in them. Joe suggests listeners who play an instrument take advantage of this to add their own, live solo. The basic for "Cathy's Clown" is included, and if a finished version turns up it'll be replaced.

The story begins with Dave "Bone" Pedersen, whose '79-'84 tenure in the bones -- his first band with Joe Harvard -- earned him his nom de guerre, as well as being the beginning of their life-long friendship. A guitarist who moved effortless to bass when the bones went three-piece, he would later apply those skills to gigs with the Real Kids/Taxi Boys, Xana Don't, Sons of Hercules and his own Troublemakers. But first he had this great idea ...

Dave had been into country music since the mid-70's, when he had lived in New Hampshire and played on the shit-kicker circuit there. Now, in mid-80's Boston, Dave decided he wanted to do a rocking country outfit in the tradition of the Burrito Brothers, pick only genuine country songs, and offer these pearls to the people from the stages of Boston's rock clubs. Dave invited Joe to participate, based on a shared affinity for "high and lonesome" music. While it was Joe who usually came up with catchy names for new projects [the bones, Fort Apache, Helldorado, Mr. Happy] Dave already had a name he'd been itching to use for quite some time: the Jolly Ranchers.

Harvard had discovered country via the Stones -- coming at Gram Parsons from the opposite end as it were -- and had written and then assembled the "Record Garage crew" [including a pre-'Wren and Stimpy' Billy West] to record the amateurish but sincere country honk tune "No Need to Fight" in 1979, and dueted with the Bristols' Kelly Knapp on "Riverboats" in 1984 [both Harvard compositions can be heard on Bandcamp].

Soon after the Ranchers project Harvard was to form the Country Cousins with good friends [and second cousins] Bob and Joe Pernice, earning them a spiffy feature article in the Phoenix written by future Bill Clinton speechwriter Ted Widmer [Mente, Upper Crust] based on the night Kim Deal played hookie from a Pixies show across town to take a cab to Cambridge and play with the group at the Plough and Stars. Country Cousin bass player Joe Pernice went on to the alt-country success of Scud Mountain Boys and Subpop Records before he formed the Pernice Brothers along with brother Bob. [Joe also co-founded Ashmont Records with manager Joyce Linnehan]

The Ranchers were initially formed around the band Goo, a side project involving Harvard, Greg "Skeggie" Kendall and brother Bob, with Dave Bone on bass. Former Sex Exec keyboardist Ted Pine was a frequent guest, and Sebastian Steinberg filled in on bass when Dave couldn't make the band's highly irregular appearances, such as NACO, the house "orchestra" at the Noise Awards Ceremonies. Dave had held the bass chair during Goo's three shows backing Boston legend Willie "Loco" Alexander as well [Harvard was on crutches and heavily medicated for the three dates, having torn a ligament playing basketball with 6'+ Ernie Risti just prior to the first].

At the time the Ranchers were forming Joe had just become the sole owner of Fort Apache, so it was there that the band headed. They recorded basic tracks on the Fort's 1/2' Otari 8-track, keeping the drums, bass and as much of the original rhythm guitar as possible. Dave returned to cut his vocals Then it was time for Joe to augment his own original rhythm guitar parts [played from the control room while engineering the sessions], adding "flavor" parts with a '66 Epiphone Riviera electric twelve string, a muted Strat and a "surf's-up" track of the same guitar awash in reverb, and chiming Nashville-tuned acoustic. Once these were done the "bed was made" for Dave to add backing vocals and then lead guitars, with whatever bounces were necessary. Dave's solos he used a Hipshot-equipped maple-neck Telecaster.

With only 8 tracks to work with, and drums and bass taking up half those already, overdubs were a tricky affair. Having recently completed the Mr. Happy LP, in which he and Ted Pine had squeezed 4 or 5 extra "virtual" tracks onto each song through a variety of means, including recording live parts simultaneously with "bouncing" one or more other vocal or instrumental tracks together, Harvard was well prepared. Not all the songs were completed; some tracks like "Wheels" have holes for the solos but nothing in them. Joe suggests listeners who play an instrument take advantage of this to add their own, live solo!

While cleaning up tracks one day Harvard had a visit from Peter Halsapple, who was nice enough to test drive Joe's new Stevencaster, a mongrel '67 Telecaster illustrated with Steven Comics figures drawn by creator Doug Allen backstage on the closing night at Gurdy's Folk City [and later stolen in Columbus, Ohio]. The Stevencaster was quipped with a Hipshot string-bender, and Peter's pedal steel imitations appear on "Life in Prison", alongside Dave's own country honking. Harvard, who had yet to begin playing the lap steel he is now well known for along the Jersey Shore, had no steel help, fake or otherwise, to offer, but does put some pretty Nashville-tuned acoustic on "Wheels", and adds electric 12-string to "I'm a People" and "Life in Prison", where he uses it for the Steve Cropper-style 'double stops'.

Dave handles all the soloing, adding some really nice Albert Lee-style bends on those songs he got to. Ted never used synth patches 'out of the box, and created a few interesting analogue instruments for the Ranchers, most of which were readily mbraced. One such creation was not as popular, though, a "wacky 'pedal steel' tone" at the end of "Nothing Was Delivered" which Joe says he "suspects was created specifically to annoy Dave during basics, and which Dave later replaced ... but the memory remains as a tribute to Ted's sense of humor, and I know I have it somewhere on a cassette of the rough basic, which I will have to dig out and put up."

The original Ranchers were gone before the album was completed, and while Joe and Dave finished up as best they could while the latter rebuilt the band, the initial momentum had vanished along with those members of the original line-up. Dave had been unhappy with the over-the-top exuberance that Pine, Skeg and Harvard were bringing to the table, and one by one members were replaced by cats Dave knew with ample chops from the straight country circuit. Bobby was naturally reluctant to stick around after his brother was canned, an awful blow given his tasteful rendering of the songs in a way that satisfied both sides of the Donnie and Marie Dictum to be "a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll". Harvard was the last original Rancher to go, playing a show here and there before Dave relocated to a cabin in Vermont, and then to Austin, Texas. Dave continues to play great music with Sons of Hercules, his own band the Troublemakers, and with other players out in the Lone Star.

Dave, Ted and Joe also appear together on Mr. Happy's record 'Love & Music: Play! Play! Play!', as well as in the vocal chorus Joe assembled for the Neats' 'Crash at Crush' LP, particularly on the song "Angel".

credits

released April 1, 1987

Engineered by Joe Harvard, Prod. by JH & Dave Bone
on 1/2" 8-track at Fort Apache South, 1986

Dave "Bone" Pedersen - Fearless Leader, Hipshot Telecaster, lead & backing vocals
Bob Kendall - drums
Ted Pine - accordion, keyboards
Sebastian Steinberg - bass
Joe Harvard - Telecaster, Epiphone Riviera Electric 12-string, Nashville tuned acoustic guitar
Peter Halsapple - guest Hipshot Teli on "Life in Prison"

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about

Joe Harvard Asbury Park, New Jersey

"VU & Nico" author, producer-artist-musician
LP creds: Dinosaur, Jr, Pernice Brothers, Throwing Muses etc; spiritual midwife to tons more as co-founder/owner of Fort Apache '85-'93.
An East Bostonian based [One Banned Man, Dub Proof, Doctor Danger, Cockwalkers] in NJ & MOTH NYC Storyslam Champ '01; loves cats. Asbury Music Awards: Top Americana '09/Top Multi-Instrumentalist & Top Avant-Garde '10.
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Track Name: Life in Prison
The jury found the verdict: "first degree" ...