Straight out the cornfields: Farm’s Farm, 1971, psychedelic blues that’ll blow the bells clean off your stockings
It stands as yet another testament to the fact that quality and success don’t always correlate. They may not even usually correlate.
There’s some damn good art out there for which the stars simply never align. Who the hell knows why? That’s just how the universe flows. Maybe there’s some deeper design at work. Maybe it’s all just dipshit luck (or dipshit unluck).
Either way, luckily, the internet empowers cultural archaeologists to bring these lost gems to life through digital necromancy. Undead art, baby. DIG IT.
Farm formed sometime in 1969.
The details are hazy because they weren’t chronicled and we have to rely entirely on the memories of those involved. Farmer Gary Gordon told It’s Psychedelic, Baby that he clearly remembered rehearsing during the moon landing of July 20, 1969 (which he incorrectly identified as July 21), so it seems some formation of the band was together as early as that.
Gordon’s best guess is that they recorded Farm sometime in June of 1971. That would mean they’d been together a solid two years working out their timing and their cohesion. That time definitely shows on the album.
They were basically just kids, all in their late teens, except for the 22-year-old “senior” of the group, Steve Evanchik.
Hailing from small towns clustered together in southern Illinois, they were: Jim Elwyn (bass player, Sparta), Gary Gordon (guitar and vocals, Sparta), Del Herbert (guitar, Mr. Vernon), Mike Young (drums, Mt. Vernon), Steve Evanchik (percussion and harmonica, Christopher), Roger Greenwalt (keyboards, Mt. Versnon) and Jerry Milam (engineer and later owner of Golden Voice Recording Co., South Perkin).
They did the album in a single set. It’s essentially a live album, which is pretty astonishing considering how tight the jams are.
It’s also astonishing that they were so young. Their musical skill and their cohesion as a unit are obvious on Farm. Those guys wailed with refined passion and masterful restraint.
This is ass-stomping acid-soaked fuzz excellence of the highest order.
There are five songs on the album. Four are originals and one is a remake of Blind Willie McTell’s Statesboro Blues (best known for the Allman Brothers remake). The track listing goes:
- Jungle Song
- Let that Boy Boogie
- Sunshine on My Window
- Cottonfield Woman
- Stateboro Blues
Sunshine on My Window is my personal favorite, but all are excellent. All stir blood in the pumper and pictures in the thinker.
We don’t think of the Midwest when we think of psychedelic music. We sure as hell don’t think of southern Illinois.
Maybe that was one of the big hurdles for Farm and maybe that’s one of the big reasons why great music sometimes slips by unnoticed. It’s not just about the art. It’s about the networking. It’s about the location.
There’s a great interview on YouTube with a singer-songwriter named Frank Dapuzz who ran into Bob Dylan in 1975 and spent the day with him. Dylan was impressed by the guy’s talent, but told him he had to move to New York fulltime if he wanted to make it (Dapuzz was from Jersey).
That may ultimately be the thing that separates the talented forgotten from the ones who break into Big Time immortality. The ones who make it all the way are the ones who don’t hope to be discovered. They insist on it.
Hell, I don’t know.
What I do know is that Farm rocks.
Digging up cult favorites and forgotten treasures is a hobby of mine. Farm is one of the best bits I’ve ever had the pleasure of discovering.
Those small-town Illinois farm boys lay it down.
There’s a thunderstorm raging over the corn, my friends. Righteous exaltation. It’s calling you from 1971 like a static-washed siren song.
Get your granddaddy’s pickup. Drive out to the back forty. Grab a sixer if that’s your thing. Get your best girl or your best boy. Bring the whole damn crew along, in fact.
Check this thing all the way out.
Random side note: in researching this I came across a site named Midwest Action. They collect Midwest psychedelic music. They’re doing good stuff so I figured I’d share for all ye fine readers who may be interested: