Rev. Fred Lane: When in Rome, DON'T Do As The Romans Do

Episode 6 November 26, 2019 01:52:32
Rev.
The Exile Hour
Rev. Fred Lane: When in Rome, DON'T Do As The Romans Do
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Show Notes

Rev. Fred Lane (c. 19??) is a simultaneously enigmatic and notorious persona who is responsible for creating what is arguably the most obscure, strange, darkly comedic, psychotic, perplexing, and uniquely American music that has ever been recorded. The collected works of Fred Lane constitute an improbably rare body of music that brazenly rides the line between order and chaos; taking the listener into realms that are all the way out, and yet somehow oddly (and perhaps unsettlingly) familiar. It is a music that is impossible to penetrate the mystery of and exists outside of conventional time in a universe all of its own. The intrepid few that miraculously stumbled across these rarefied recordings have largely become rabid & cult-like fanatics. One especially obsessive lifelong fan even created a Rev. Fred Lane documentary that took over 19 years to complete. Remarkably, Fred Lane and his swinging ‘pataphysical cult from an alternate dimension (SEE: Ron ‘Pate’s Debonairs featuring Rev. Fred Lane + Fred Lane and his The Hittite Hot Shots) only performed TWICE in their entire existence. All of the band members were credited on the albums with fake aliases created by Lane, with monikers such as Dick Foote, Omar Bhag-dad-a, Dimples LaCroix, Ron ‘Pate, Abdul Ben Camel, Cyd Cherise, Shep Estrus, E. Baxter Put, Whitey Stencil, “Bill” The Kid Dap, and Motor Hobson. Several bizarre and fantastical rumors surfaced over the years, some claiming that Lane had become a demented recluse and/or nazi living in a pyramid and constructing sculptures out of vegetables. Were any of the rumors true? Was it all some kind of elaborate ruse? Probing deeper into the story of Rev. Fred Lane, one discovers that the character emerged from the mind of T.R. Reed; a man who grew up in rural Tuscaloosa, Alabama and eventually fell in with a crowd of intensely crafty & diligent freaks known as Raudelunas. Raudelunas was a motley crew of deviant Southern artists and musicians in the mid-1970s who modeled their behavior & actions off of the early European Dadaists, Surrealists, and Futurists— attempting to freak out, subvert, and unleash as much explosive mayhem and chaos as they could possibly muster upon their stiflingly conventional-minded college football town. French proto-Dadaist/symbolist writer and madman Alfred Jarry (creator of ‘pataphysics) served as something of a patron saint. Lane was summoned into being as a sort of swaggeringly megalomaniacal MC for the group’s various presentations in order to terrorize, humiliate, and provoke the audience. During these years he also began creating bizarre sculptures using different collage techniques. He also produced several publications including “Naked Women Overthrow The Government Quarterly”, “Liquid Basketball”, and “Steamed Plywood Triannual”. Among Raudelunas’ myriad activities and high jinks, they were among the very first Americans to perform and record what eventually came to be known as “free improvisation” (which they initially referred to as “Headache Music”)— a kind of meta-music or proto-music in which participants don’t know what they’re doing until they’re doing it. LaDonna Smith (aka D.P.B. Smith) and Davey Williams (aka Cyd Cherise) were two of the more dedicated players who emerged from this group and quickly went on to become internationally recognized luminaries in the field. After the release of “Car Radio Jerome” in 1986, Reed/Lane abandoned any sort of public or professional involvement in music in order to pursue crafting and selling his mobile sculptures (alternately referred to as “creachters” and “whirligigs”) at folk art festivals all around the country— a career path he continues up to the present day, along with his wife and fellow artist Jeanie Holland. However, in recent years, prompted by EXILE HOUR co-host Evan Philip Lipson (aka Lipps Epsom) with some assistance from Shaking Ray Levi Society co-founder Bob Stagner (aka Fob Stengel), Lane began quietly working in his current home of Chattanooga, Tennessee on a new album entitled “Icepick to the Moon”. The album was initially conceived and written in collaboration with Roger Hagerty (aka Dick Foote) in the early 1990s but was never performed or properly recorded until now (31 years later).

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