Live: 5 from the 506

by Jason Kutchma

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Ghosts of glories reign here, clothes are shadows of former selves. Unsealing mother's eyes, the pigeons take flight as Monsignor’s ringing the church bells. Cinder-block car beneath the snow, my family wants and I want so much more than my wrinkles show. And the neighbors they've gone away. Dark house, all the drop-outs they play inside. I can't afford to stay, I can't afford to say goodbye. The sad refrain that you won't ever make the grade. Tear it apart my rust belt heart. Screams in the kitchen, all the bedroom tension. They're sending us home one week before we get pension. "Clean out your locker, gentlemen, we wish you the best" and then they watched the men walk down the suicide steps. Mother claws and scratches, she works part-time. All these steel-toed boots in the unemployment line. I have to remind myself I'm a good man. Tears remind us of what was or what may be like friction squealing unoiled machinery. The sad refrain that you won't ever make the grade. Tear it apart my rust belt heart.
I used to believe in the radio All alone in my bedroom, how I loved it so What happened, I can't guess But I was listening less and less Hanging around with a different crowd, yeah I suppose My and my friends we were punks Drunk as hell cause that's punk as fuck We got a band to be famous and to get laid Hey can you blame us? But without a record deal, we did the punk rock thing and broke up My Pop don't believe in the power of song "Son the only way a song is going to right a wrong: Take the lyrics of 'Blowin' In The Wind', Write them on the bills with Ben Franklin Pass them around to the poor across this great country And maybe, eventually, you're going to cure poverty All I ever needed was rock and roll Rock and roll and a turntable And me and Lou and Iggy Pop And the drugs and Mary and oh, we couldn't stop! I wonder how my kids are doing these days I wrote songs that matter! I had a story to tell! I thought that's what the world wanted as well I wrote The Greatest Songs You Never Heard You assholes asked for 'Freebird' Well damn you and FM Radio straight to hell I used to believe that a catchy tune Can cause world peace if everyone will just sing with you Then I started watching the evening news Now I believe what they want me to: 'Read Psalms! Drop bombs! And God Bless America!' I used to believe in a lot of things I used to believe in believing But now it's just so hard Still, I got something to say and a guitar Maybe that's all the reason I need to believe
When the sea sent me a hurricane I survived Through a hole in my roof I saw a black sky I got water through the floor and a boat through the door I can’t call that a home no more When the sea sent me a hurricane, I survived The devil took my Daddy but I survived See Daddy took to drinking, me-oh-my! I survived his cussin’, his drinkin’, his sin But I can’t say the same for him The devil took my Daddy, I’ll survive The war took my brother, I’ll survive He was serving his country in the front line He died by a bullet, friend or foe? The U.S. Government still don’t know Someone killed my brother I don’t know why Jesus took my baby, why Lord why? Oh why Lord him, and not I? A life would end before it’d start No greater pain for a parent’s heart Jesus took my baby and only he knows why Now you standing at my door saying you leaving tonight You know you ain’t ever been worth one tear from my eye You call me cheap and worthless down by the bar Who the hell do you think you are? You want to leave get to steppin’ tonight I’m not gonna say it again, good-bye Let me say it loud and clear: Without you I know I can survive
Nobody understands me Nobody understand me now My Momma don't get it My Poppa say boy you better turn that shit down I don't make sense to my teachers I don't make sense to my preachers now All I do is go 'yeah yeah' They say you need an education They say you need some ambition They say this boy just needs some salvation I don't understand Cause they stand there with their prescriptions Watching their televisions They got augmentations And ammunitions All I do is go 'yeah yeah' They used to sing tuitti fruitti They used to sing be-bop-a-hula baby They'd dance so close to shama-lama-ding-dong And gabba gabba hey I don't understand I don't understand why they don't understand When I go 'yeah yeah' I remember that summer I saved up every dime I walked to the counter slapped down my dollar Pointed to a guitar and said I believe that is mine And it was like for the first time For the very first time I could stand up tall From now on I'm going to stand up tall And I'm walking tall And I'm singing loud I'm gonna go 'yeah yeah'
All my life nothing's ever been clear Although I'm a man grown I still have my fears And every time I widen my eyes the more I'm terrified But I will not be broken and I won't be denied It's been I, yes, that's chosen this path It seems every step I've made, I've wanted to turn back I've taken my falls and I've had to crawl But every time I stand and reply: I will not be broken nor will I be denied I will not be broken nor will I be denied Though tempted I may, I can't walk away Until I'm satisfied Oh the pain life brings when you're just following dreams But I will not be broken nor will I be denied There's been many a time that I couldn't stand tall I was wasted, forgotten, no I had nothing Cause I gave my all, I thought "Stay down, don't get up! Stay down, don't get up!" But no, not this time Because I will not be broken nor will I be denied I will not be broken nor will I be denied Though tempted I may, I can't walk away Until I'm satisfied Oh the pain life brings when you're just following dreams But I will not be broken nor will I be denied



Therefore, since the world has still
Much good, but much less good than ill,
And while the sun and moon endure
Luck’s a chance, but trouble’s sure,
I’d face it as a wise man would,
And train for ill and not for good.

- A.E. Houseman
(A Shropshire Lad, 1896)


But between the old songs that never would've worked for Red Collar and new songs written specifically for the acoustic project, Kutchma's set outgrew its reliance on the past. The project is no longer billed as "Jason Kutchma of Red Collar, solo/acoustic." Now, it's J Kutchma.

In his first ventures to the stage alone, the conviction that makes Red Collar so captivating wasn't always fully on display. Rooted in the same topsoil as Red Collar—Springsteen Americana, or a mix of working-class brow-sweat, punk passion and redemptive storytelling— Kutchma's unplugged solo work has reached a point where it's no less charged than his full band's output.

"The first tours that I did with Ben [Carr, of Last Year's Men] and BJ [Barham, of American Aquarium], I only had Red Collar stuff to sell, and believe me, it was so awkward saying, 'Thanks for listening folks. I have these CDs over there, and vinyl for sale, of a band that sounds nothing like what I just did,'" Kutchma explains. "And I would say this on the stage, which is not a good pitch for anything."

Now, he's released two EPs of live recordings. The first is a digital-only affair recorded in Gainesville, Fla., in a hotel room during the annual punk pilgrimage The Fest. The latest was recorded last month in Chapel Hill at Local 506, when Kutchma opened for Avail frontman Tim Barry. He pressed 50 copies on CD before heading west. By the time he got to Tucson, they'd been sold. "I had to get Beth to mail me 50 more cardboard sleeves and Sharpies and plastic sleeves and CDs for me to try to sell 50 more," he says. "And I just sold out of those last night."

That EP is Kutchma's most thrilling statement to date. Red Collar's "Rust Belt Heart" feels more resigned in its sparer arrangement. "Used To Believe" is an examination of music's power, or lack thereof, to effect change. Kutchma performed it on video at the Iron Brush tattoo parlor in Lincoln, Neb., while receiving his first tattoo, a Western spur on his left shoulder. "I'll Survive" moves from murder ballad to vengeful elegy. Here, his voice rises from a steady croon to a gravelly howl. The Red Collar conviction is palpable.

From “Red Collar frontman Jason Kutchma returns from the road, Americana curios in tow” by Bryan C. Reed, Independent Weekly, 27 April 2011


J Kutchma (Durham, NC) plays "Used to Believe" at Iron Brush Tattoo in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska. Kevin Chasek branded Kutchma with his first and only tattoo (a western-style spur) while the singer performed a song for the Love Drunk film crew.

Audio recorded by Django G-S.

Cameras: Andrew Norman, Django g-s

Performed on Saturday, April 16, 2011


All of us who watched him know now that man cannot beat down Fate, no matter how much his will may flame, but he can rock it back on its heels when he puts all his heart and his shoulders into a blow.

- Heywood Brown “Sport For Arts Sake”
(The New York World 1921)


The cost of this album is the price of an average gallon of gasoline on 3/30/11. If you bought this album, you got me a little further down the road on my tour. Thank you.


[on Cézanne] “He reproduced himself with so much humble objectivity, with the unquestioning, matter of fact interest of a dog who sees himself in a mirror and thinks: there’s another dog.’’

- Rainer Maria Rilke
(Letters on Cézanne 1952, trans. 1985)


'We can't be everything we wanted to be'

-Mike Jackson
'Used Guitars' by Red Collar



released March 30, 2011

Recorded live at the Local 506 in Chapel Hill, NC on March 25, 2011. Tim Barry headlined. Also with Jenny Owens Young. Patrick ran the soundboard. Hoppie worked the bar. Steve Oliva cracked knuckles at the door.

Album cover by Steve Oliva at Kitchen Island Show Print


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