The pieces were so amazing that I couldn't not do that for all of the songs, and I couldn't slack on the song-production end. So my novel just kinda broke up into this epic art project. Now there are about 60 artists, and I'm trying to do 200 songs. Marc Dantona has been helping me produce some sessions. We have a little wrecking crew band, and we are knocking shit out left and right. The "100 Records" show will be in April at Gallery 16.
SFBG Tell me about some of the bands and musicians of "100 Records." Who are they, what are their back stories?
SS There are about 50 so far — Beachticks, Cabezas Cordades, Little Antoine and the Sparrows, Earth Girl Helen Brown, Zig Speck & Specktones, Prince Nedick, Bobbie Hawkins, the Fuckaroos.
Prince Nedick for instance was born Washington Rice, and for a short period was a child preacher in his hometown of Turkey Creek, near Leicester, N.C. He started his showbiz career as a dancer, working at the 81 Theater in Atlanta as a young teenager. Rice was gay and flamboyant; he worked the tent shows in drag, a great Southern showbiz tradition in itself, and an important influence on rock ’n' roll — hence the term "tent show queen." He sang the repertoire of said tradition, many of the same tunes Little Richard would clean up and take to the bank, like "Tutti Frutti" (original lyrics: "Tutti Frutti/Good booty/If it don't fit/Don't force it/Just grease it/Make it easy"). He was known for his flashy style and violent temper. At the height of his fame, he went on the lam for assaulting his brother's wife with an ax, and ultimately ended up in Minglewood, a lumber camp a few miles east of the Mississippi in Dyersburg, Tenn.
SFBG Are there box sets or large music projects (Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music, for example) with an artistic element that you especially love?
SS Harry Smith's is a huge influence definitely — probably the biggest. Mingering Mike, certainly. Woody Guthrie just swimming through all those songs over the years is influential. I wanted to step into a place where everything is available at all moments to be music, to be art, and it appears I had to come up with alteregos to allow that.
SFBG Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?
SS My girlfriend's dad was named after Eugene V. Debs.