Lud: A BRIEF, ILLUSTRATED HISTORY
STILL AWAITING APPROVAL FROM THE OFFICIAL LUD BIOGRAPHER ON THIS, BUT WE’RE ABLE TO LET A FEW SECTIONS OUT AHEAD OF TIME.
Each new section will be accompanied by an additional download from the
era. So keep track of Lud’s march through time by checking this space
For a brief time our friend Dave compiled a fanzine dedicated to the
band. We couldn’t have dreamed that it would blossom into the much fabled
and short-lived Ludlines. We’ll have some pdf’s of those up soon.
THE VERY EARLY YEARS
Sometime in late 1987, I visited friends on Old Lystra Road just over
the Orange/Chatham County line.
It was an early evening party and I was there at the invitation of my
friend Jamie McPhail and her housemates Barrie Wallace and Bryon Settle.
I knew Jamie best of all as we often talked in the morning over coffee
before the Hardback Café opened. The café was located across
the street from Copytron, where I worked when I was not working at the
Bryon, who had adjusted to life as a semi-retired guitar player since
the breakup of the Pressure Boys was upstairs fiddling with a new acquisition,
a Fostex 4-track. He was recording a Haggstrom guitar running through
a delay and a Mutron pedal of some sort. The rig was crackly and hard
to control—Mutrons can be fussy. I picked the thing up and ran my
beer bottle over the bridge end of the strings while making sweeping motions
with pedal. Bryon put a bass track and drum track from a Dr. Rhythm over
As the guitar was rather noisy, I offered Bryon use of my ’73 Telecaster,
which had some electronic issues, namely that I had poured egg all over
the pickups and knobs during a performance piece in Bloomington (Ind.)
called “Breakfast with the Militant Musicians Pond of Indiana. Barely
blinking after hearing the story, Bryon offered to try to fix the thing.
I later dropped the Tele off where it sat in its case under Barrie and
Bryon’s bed for roughly two years.
Though that was the first time we ever did anything musical together on
tape, it may not be the first time we played music together, however,
as there was a rather rockin’ party one night after one of the last Pressure
Boy gigs where I ended up in Taz Halloween’s bedroom singing torch
songs and cowboy tunes with Taz, Chris Frank and several other people
including, quite possibly, the aforementioned Mr. Settle. Our reverie
ended abruptly when a young lady accidentally split Jack Whitebread’s
forehead open with a coffee cup. There are no known recordings of that
evening—we all hope.
THE EARLY YEARS
The Cryptic Guitar Ensemble
The ensemble—myself, Bryon Settle, Paul Price and Randy Pelosi—changed
the shape of modern music in Chapel Hill forever. Through clever use of
strange chords, dissonance and lack of songs, CGE was a strong statement
for improvisation at a time when the music scene was so heavily band and
song oriented that it was calcifying. CGE’s contribution was music
for the sake of music for the sake of sanity in an insane world. Like
Dada, the Cryptic Guitar Ensemble was Against Art and For Nature. It also
brought all of us out of retirement.
Although we were known for our live strangeness either backing poetry
readings for the Ransom Street zine gang or opening and usually playing
one long song or two at shows at the Cave or La Terraza, the great joy
of the band was the Monday afternoon recording sessions at the Yellow
House on Rosemary Street. The sessions, which had numerous guest appearances
by members of other bands that rehearsed at the house, lasted for hours.
For the most part the format was the same: hit ‘start’ and play
until the tape in the Fostex ran out. The official beginning of the band
was on the Monday Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday in January, 1991. We
went next door to Internationalist Books and borrowed a cassette of King’s
anti-war address “Knock at Midnight.” Using some broken walkman
headphones, I played it through my guitar pickup (and a wah-wah pedal)
and everyone played along.
After recording, we often would just flip the tape and listen to the whole
thing backwards and really slowed down. You can listen to some of the
Lost recordings on our download page.