Willi Carlisle - Cheap Cocaine / Tulsa's Last Magician
I met Mike, the honcho of Western AF's creative vision, because I didn't know what day of the week it was. Hell, I barely knew the month. I'd just slept in my van in Weed, CA. for two days. I woke up and drove across the mountains. I sang, punched the steering wheel, until I was over the salt flats. I'd been playing folksongs for gas money for a couple weeks, trying to get home to Arkansas after going flat broke in Canada. So I showed up in Laramie, Wyoming, a day early. Lucy for me, I had some free time. At the Ruffed Up Duck, the local watering hole, I met this Mike guy and his sidekicks. He said he had recorded a song with some cowboy named Colter Wall and a country singer named Luke Bell. After he saw me play, he asked if we could meet up the next morning to do some shooting.
I agreed, bleary-eyed, because I didn't have much going on. Next day, we wandered around Laramie in the wind, hung over. We pulled the doors open at the Elks Club and sang. We went to the Buckhorn Tavern and played a song with the daytime drinkers there. It was a lovely morning. Mike asked me, I remember: "Is the name Western As Fuck too off-putting, too limiting?" I told him it was exactly off-putting enough.
Since then, we've stayed in touch as Western As Fuck has grown exponentially, has catapulted the underground of folk and country music into the public imagination. They've stayed a little off-putting, and it suits them. The integrity is in Mike's curation, not in industry "must-haves." They're not swayed by Spotify followers, they're looking, and often finding, the real deal. Mike's deft touch with a camera is like music: in the interplay between his eye, the lens, and the light is as deft as a singer's relationship to a room or to a phrase, and just as difficult. Many have tried to imitate it, but few can.
I think that's because the real thing is a little bit crazy. The Western AF guys have done as much sleeping rough and working long days as the rest of us. I've seen Mike drinking cowboy coffee, wrapped in a bison-hide, about to do a cross-country haul. I've gotten to meet crazy and lovely ranchers, barflies, train-hoppers, anarchists, homesteaders, dreamers, junkies, and geniuses, and a lot of them find their way to Western AF, seeing a kindred spirit. What luck we have them to document it.
The work is just beginning. Here, in your hands, is Western AF's debut 7-inch vinyl project, where you can listen to their field recordings in the biggest, warmest way. Hopefully, there will be lots more. Tell your pals: the music industry is broken. Western AF has taken the shards and polished them into a mirror where music can be ours again.
Stay Weird, Stay Wild,
1. Cheap Cocaine (Western AF field recording version)
2. Tulsa's Last Magician (Western AF field recording version)
Catalog Number: DIRT-LP-0112 / WAF 001