Tag Archives: Van Halen

HEARD! #7 TRAVIS MILTON

I started Food Punk to create a space to celebrate food and music. Where else could I herald the magic of both Ramps and Pusha T? Cooking, like music, is an art. Both can be visceral, sensory experiences that transport, inspire and even define us. I’ve often found that those who play with knives are also into ‘deep cuts’ of another nature. It is in this spirit that I bring you this series: HEARD! highlighting the music enthusiasts behind the line, the bar, the pass and the pen.

Travis Milton is chef at Comfort restaurant here in Richmond, VA. When I first met him, he was wearing a Misfits T- shirt and had enough pimento cheese to feed 300 people.

TRAVIS
What was the first live music performance you attended?
This actually took more thought than I had planned, I thought for the longest time it was Huey Lewis and The News. Last week I was looking through some pictures from my childhood and realized it was actually Ray Stevens at the Appalachian Fair in Gray TN.

What was the Most Recent?
I don’t get to go to as many shows as I used to, it really makes me feel old. I went to see Alkaline Trio at the National. I’ve known the guys in the band for a while now, I used to cook for them as well as some other punk bands when they’d come through VA. It was a good show, it took me back to my 20’s, and afterwards the bass player and I sat outside the bus and discussed how old we all felt these days.

What Album/Artist/ changed your life?
This one is tough, I feel like there has been one of these for every step of life evolution. I listened to alot of country when I was young, growing up in Appalachia there’s music everywhere. You could walk down old dirt roads and hear old timers picking banjos and playing guitar on their porches. Bluegrass and old country will always be close to my heart, but the band that really flipped my lid was Thin Lizzy.

Phil Lynott is like a saint to me, his lyrics are so “heart on his sleeve”. Black Rose in particular blows my mind, songs like “Got to Give it up” and ” My Sarah” are so beautiful and honest lyrically. Gary Moore just kills it on guitar, the last song Roisin Dubh is amazing. Its got this amazing Irish, kinda bluegrassy riff with dueling leads that is mindblowingly good. They are so under-rated in the world of rock and I really do feel rock music lost an absolute great when Phil past in 86.

Do you have a musical equivalent to a guilty pleasure?
Guilty Pleasure: Ask anyone that has ever worked for me, and they will all tell you .38 special. I just can’t help myself, you can often see me playing air guitar on the cooks line or serenading the bartenders when “Caught up in You” comes on in the restaurant. I feel like I shouldn’t like them, but sweet goodness the redneck in me just comes through and I can’t help but love the hell out of it.

What album is your go to for when you want to smash stuff or life is s ticking it to you?
Reign in Blood by Slayer, if I ever mention I’ve been listening to it, its been a bad day in the kitchen……….

What album is your go to for fist-pumping happiness this is the best happy times?

Its probably a tie between Van Halen 1984 and Destroyer by Kiss, I still get giddy like a kid when I hear the opening guitars on Detroit Rock City, and the same goes with Panama.

The first question I ask a prospective hire is what kind of music do you listen to. Obviously this has no bearing on whether I hire them or not, but you can tell a lot about someone by their answer. I hate when someone tells me ” I listen to everything”, I call Bullshit!! It is a cop-out answer, I listen to many different genres but I could never answer that question that way. I kinda bear the torch of being one of the few true lovers of hair metal. It never really mattered much to me until I left my restaurant. I had put everything I had into it, time, money, emotion, strength, absolutely everything. I was a shell of a person, I thought my dream was over and I had nothing left in the tank. This is gonna sound corny as hell but, I started listening to Hair Bands. Everything in the world of 80’s Metal is Awesome. Its all about getting drunk, getting laid, partying and just being awesome.

My musical taste obviously does not end with Hair bands, I love early 80’s punk: Misfits and anything Keith Morris, Alt country or whatever you’d call it, is special to me: The Drive By Truckers and The Bottle Rockets are staple of my day. I sing constantly on the line.

Music really is necessary to every aspect of my life, I once halted opening brunch one Sunday by 5 minutes because I hadn’t had a chance to hear “Sunday Mourning Coming Down” as done by Johnny Cash.

Desert Island Jam?

Probably a tie between Static Age by the Misfits ( If Hybrid Moments was the only song I could listen to the rest of my life I’d be a happy camper) and the Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast (to me it’s the most perfect album start to finish ever)
Iron Maiden

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HEARD! #4 JOHN CURRENCE

I started Food Punk to create a space to celebrate food and music. Where else could I herald the magic of both Ramps and Pusha T? Cooking, like music, is an art. Both can be visceral, sensory experiences that transport, inspire and even define us. I’ve often found that those who play with knives are also into ‘deep cuts’ of another nature. It is in this spirit that I bring you this series: HEARD! highlighting the music enthusiasts behind the line, the bar, the pass and the pen.

Photo by Pableaux Johnson

Photo by Pableaux Johnson

John Currence AKA Big Bad Chef is chef/owner of the City Grocery Restaurant Group in Oxford, MS. He tells it like it is and his passion extends far beyond the plate, as you will see in his musings on music below.

What was the first live music performance you attended?

From a very technical standpoint, my mother likes to tell the story that it was the Beatles in 1964 at Tad Gormley stadium in City Park in New Orleans. She took a pile of her JR. high and high school students to the concert while she was about 9 months pregnant with me.

I had the opportunity to see loads of live music and I am not exactly sure of the chronology. In 1974-76 my family lived in Scotland, while I was there I had a number of musical surprises. Walking to catch the bus home from school, I stumbled into an impromptu performance by the Sex Pistols in Princess Street Gardens. They were playing the song Bodies. There were lots of cops.
I went to see Crosby Stills and Nash and also Elton John on different occasions with my mom and dad. All I really remember is getting in trouble with my brother at CSN for pretending like we were falling asleep. I remember EJ totally crushing versions of “Rocket Man” and “The Bitch Is Back.”

In New Orleans, we used to go to the Blue Room in the Roosevelt Hotel and see folks like Cab Calloway, Andrews Sisters, Four Freshmen and the Mills Brothers, but the first thing I bought a ticket ($12.50) to go see was the first “Day Of Rock N Roll” in the Superdome.
New Orleans was a big stop on the indie music circuit at that time and so in the year after that we saw the Police and U2 about two weeks apart on their first tours of the states and Elvis Costello was coming through regularly.

We used to sneak down to Bourbon Street to stand outside of the Famous Door and listen to whoever was playing Dixieland that night/afternoon and also to Preservation Hall to hear the PHJB play. New Orleans was a weird town to grow up in, from a musical standpoint. The scene was totally goofy, but the opportunities, in retrospect were cool.

What was the most recent?
Saw Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears a few nights before our baby was born. It was a moment of sanity in the midst of my bride’s hormone-driven insanity…

What album/artist changed or defined your life?

My hair was totally blown back the first time I listened to The Clash. The Clash were angry but eloquent. They were brutes with restraint. They had a message and it was clear. Having lived in the UK in the 1970’s, I was entirely familiar with their frustrations. I loved the almost-anarchic call to arms they broadcast, but loved that it stopped short of “kill the rich/lynch the Queen,” but was laced with “don’t fuck with us because we have an army and they are ready to burn this mother down.”

Joe Strummer was the voice of a generation and he was a poet. He distilled the feeling of that moment and put it to music. It made you aware that standing up and doing the right thing was an imperative, injustice would not be tolerated and one voice could make a difference.

Do you have a musical equivalent to a guilty pleasure?

I am not sure there is such a thing for me. I admit, freely to anything that I like. These days I get up in the morning and put on Baroque classical while I give our baby her first feeding of the day and start work from home, I work to Guns n Roses, Van Halen, Motley Crue, Minor Threat, Ministry, etc. I have moments when you will find me listening to the BeeGees, Fleetwood Mac, ELO or Elton John.

You will not find me listening EVER, to any bullshit jam band Grateful Widespread Phish Cheese non-music shit. It goes in the same category and contemporary “country” and whatever new pop fucking garbage is being produced these days. The Alabama Shakes can save the world. Unfortunately, I don’t think there are enough folks out there who care enough to make a difference and Strummer is dead…

What album is your go to for when you wanna smash stuff and life is sticking it to you?
Back In Black, Van Halen 1, Appetite For Destruction, Dr. Feelgood, Nevermind

What album is your go to for fist-pumping-this-is-the-best-ever-happiness times?

See above


What is on your turntable at home right now?


Right now, in my car is
1) Return Of The Grievous Angel maybe the greatest tribute album ever recorded. I understand Gram Parsons was a complete asshole, but goddamn he wrote some beautiful music.

2) A Solomon Burke collection…holy shit, what an arguably overlooked talent.

The man is unbelievable.

3)The Pixies Bossanova, what else is there to say about these guys?

4) The Hives Veni Vidi Vicious just because it helps distract me from the voices.

5) Miles Davis, Sketches Of Spain. I want my little girl to be a musical smarty pants and hopefully a dreadful snob.

6) Springsteen, Darkness On The Edge Of Town. “Racing In The Streets” I love on the way home from work over and over and over….

Music is a huge part of my life. I played in bands for most of my adolescence and young adulthood and unfortunately ruined myself on live music. We lived, for a decade, a six-seven night a week schedule in Richmond, Raleigh, DC, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, and Atlanta driving to and going out to see different bands.I have a tough time these days dragging myself out to see music.

I’m old and jaded these days and have a tough time talking to musicians who have never slept on an apartment floor or under a pool table on the road, who never had to figure out how to stretch $5 into food and cigarettes for an entire day or know the in’s and out’s of fixing their van when it breaks down in the pouring rain in the middle of the night in Alabama somewhere.

Lots of young acts lack a soul that that sort of struggle brings to the fret board. Grit is missing. Anger is missing. The anger these days is over hard drive crashes, overnight Amazon deliveries not making it and malfunctioning hair gel, not asshole, war-mongering presidents, societal issues or class upheaval.

I want to be moved again.

I want to see another time when music is a vehicle of expression for change and…shit, I just want it to express anything other than the anemic, bubblegum, snot-nosed, entitled, lazy, stupid, insipid, bullshit that seems to be the record company norm these days. If nothing else, at least ‘The Dead’ wanna-be’s seem to have been hunted down and killed by dogs in the forest of my bliss…

HEARD! #1 DREW ROBINSON

I started Food Punk to create a space to talk food and music. Where else could I herald the magic of both Ramps and Pusha T? Cooking (and eating) like music, is an art, both can be visceral, sensory experiences that transport, inspire and even define us. I’ve often found that those who play with knives are also into ‘deep cuts’ of another nature. It is in this spirit that I am starting a series: HEARD! highlighting the music enthusiasts behind the line, the bar, the pass and the pen.

Drew Robinson III is executive chef and pitmaster at Jim N Nick’s based out of Birmingham, Alabama, a member of The Fatback Collective and an all around awesome dude. (He is also responsible for my first bite of pimento cheese that was made by an actual Southerner, even though it happened in NYC.)

photo courtesy of Jim N Nick's

photo courtesy of Jim N Nick’s

What was the first live music performance you attended?
The Ramones.

What was the most recent (last concert, etc)?
Robert Randolph and The Family Band with Anders Osborne

What album/artist changed/defined/left an indelible impression on your life?
Bob Dylan. I was into punk and hardcore music almost exclusively and in a real rough place in my life. Not much focus and a lot of anger. A good friend out of the blue one day said, “Listen to this.” and he played Masters of War (off of The Freehwheelin’ Bob Dylan). It changed my life. Everything I loved about punk rock sort of fell into a place of maturity when I heard that song. And really from that point forward my ears were opened to music and the message that music carried in a totally different and more expansive way. Because of that musical journey, I was able to move past that hard part of my life and really start to grow as a person. To this day Bob Dylan is still my favorite musician. And what’s cool is the family tree of music he has produced and how many musicians from all genres love him. There’s a lot of depth there.
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Do you have a musical equivalent to a guilty pleasure?
Like something I only listen to when no one else is around? The Beach Boys. I love the Pet Sounds album but not a lot of people get it, so I usually listen to it when I’m alone.
If you mean like an indulgent sort of pleasure it’s Prince. Listening to Purple Rain is the musical equivalent of eating a pint of pimento cheese. It’s a totally indulgent album for me.

What album or music is your go to for when life is sticking it to you?
Black Flag (Pre Rollins era, to be clear)

What album or music is your go to for fist-pumping-this-is-the-best-ever-happiness times?
Van Halen for fist pumping, the Grateful Dead for “best ever happiness times”

What is on your turntable/MP3 player/etc. at home right now?
Sam Cooke Portrait of a Legend

The greatest thing about music for me is how it interacts with everything in life. My life and music are so intertwined that they could never come apart. That may be odd since I have no professional connection to music, just a love for it. But music is such a vital part of so many things I do. Food and music are as close together as any two creative disciplines I can think of.

I mean if you look at how much music has been inspired and written about food it’s obvious. I’m hard pressed to think of a really good chef that doesn’t have some sort of passionate connection to music that inspires them. The two play off of each other and inspire each other perfectly. Music makes life more beautiful and joyful. It just makes life better.
That’s why I love music.