Jo Waltson: Meat Purveyor

Interview by Jeff Wall

[Editor's Note: The astute reader will note that the writer who conducted this interview is somewhat less than politic in his questions. Please keep in mind this is the same writer who, when Ricky Skaggs asked him if his tape recorder was working said, "Yeah, I think it's on. I'll just make stuff up if it doesn't work." They don't call him Goondaddy for nothing. It is worth noting, too, that while this interview was held at a festival where alcohol is consumed in quantity, these two people, by their own admission, were stone cold sober.]

I've wanted to see the Meat Purveyors live for quite a while. I'd been listening to their inaugural Bloodshot release, Sweet in the Pants and had really enjoyed it. I'd been hearing rave reviews of their live show but had yet to catch them. All of this was about to change.... And I wasn't ready.

They were scheduled to play at Twangfest, the Alt-Country World Convention/Music Festival/Drunkfest/Love-in held each year in St Louis, Missouri. As the band finished tuning up, the MC stepped up to the microphone and the crowd went wild. Shouts of "Get off the stage Dweeb" and "You suck!" rang out. He introduced the band and as the Meat Purveyors adjusted mikes and said hello, the crowd launched into more abuse, "Shut the Fuck up and Play!" "You Suck!" and "Show us your tits!" and this was coming from their fans! The strangest way to start a show I had ever seen. The band loved it. The Meat Purveyors flat tore the place apart with their quirky blend of Old Time and Punk. At times they were a little off-key but no one cared. They had attitude and energy to spare. The crowd was dancing and really into their music. After their set, I met up with the band and arranged an interview for later, but later never happened. The band was kidnapped by members of the Sovines, Fear and Whiskey, and Buck Diaz boys and force fed large amounts of adult beverages against their will. This seems to happen a lot at Twangfest. It wasn't the Purveyors fault. They fought as hard as they could to no avail. The last time I saw the bass player, Cherilyn DiMond, she was flashing me through the front window of Off Broadway. I later met up with the only coherent Meat Purveyor, Jo Walston the lead singer and asked her a few questions.

Jeff: Want to do an interview?

Jo: Sure!

Jeff: Cool, I'm wiped out. Here's the tape recorder, interview yourself. Be sure to ask yourself some intelligent, inciteful questions.

Jo: [laughs] Ok. I was born in a trailer in Texas...

Jeff: I'm White Trash too. Don't feel bad.

Jo: I wasn't actually born in a trailer, but my people were. My folks were definitely trailer types.

Jeff: So y'all are in the middle of the Meat Purveyors World Tour now?

Jo: Yes, after we get done here we are going up to Chicago for three or four dates. It all depends on whether or not the Bulls win the Championship. We never like to miss a good riot.

Jeff: Damn, I was busy staring down your shirt and forgot what I was going to ask!

Jo: [laughs] If you got them, Flaunt them I always say.

Jeff: Oh, Now I remeber. Hows the album doing?

Jo: The album has finally reached the point where it has made back the money it cost to make and distribute, and promote them. Not gold status yet, but it's up to nickle.

Jeff: The show really blew me away. What are you going to call the next album? Shut up and Play?

Jo: I thought up a title but no one liked it. "Head Cheese Blowout." So we're going to call it When Chickens Cry.

Jeff: What's the new album like?

Jo: we're working on a lot of new original tunes. And some more Stanley Brothers. I love the Stanley Brothers. Bill Anderson, Our guitar player, writes most of the original tunes.

Jeff: Where are y'all from?

Jo: I'm from Texas. I was born in Houston, went to High School in Victoria Texas, the moved to Austin. But I've lived all over Texas.

Jeff: So you come by your White Trash roots honest huh?

Jo: Yep! East Texas girl! Bill's from everywhere. Peter's from New York City and Cherilyn is from everywhere. Actually Cherilyn is an alien.

Jeff: I suspected that. No way that girl is human. Not the way she plays that bass.

Jo: Actually she has an English Passport. Her mom lives in San Diego and has the thickest English accent. You can't understand a word she says.

Jeff: How did all of you get together?

Jo: Bill was in a band with me called Joan of Arkansas a while back. Joan of Arkansas was a Bluegrass Orchestra kind of thing. A couple of years ago we got together and decided that we had to get another Bluegrass/Country band together. We just had to. About a week later We met this girl named Nora who was just about the best Banjo player I had seen in my life. So we all got together. Nora brought Cherilyn into the band. Peter Stiles just showed up one day to visit someone who lived in the house where we were practising. He said "Hey, I play mandolin!" We were all like "Yeah, sure you do! Preppie Boy." Turned out he was an awesome mandolin player. Just don't let him sing. Nora ended up moving away and left us. We also have a part time fiddle player who is just about the best in the world. Her name is Darcie Deaville. Steve Rosen from Chicago is going to be sitting in with us on fiddle when we're up there. He's like this big fat Buddha guy. He is so cool. He's like our spiritual advisor.

Jeff: Us big fat guys are cool!!

Jo: You are!

Jeff: How are you enjoying Twangfest?

Jo: It's great! Everyone is so supportive and kind! It's like playing for your family! Jeff: Y'all should get the Betty Ford Clinic to be your Tour Sponsors. You seem to have a fondness for drinking songs.

Jo: I know. But we also did "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down" and "The Morning After". Actually, I'm the only one who doesn't drink, so I always end up as the designated driver.

Jeff: So you're the one who holds the bail money?

Jo: Yep, that's me!

Jeff: After this weekend, you're going to need it! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me.

Jo: It was great! I'm glad that you enjoyed the show. If you're done staring at my tits, I need to go load the van up now.

Jeff: [laughs] Sorry.

Copyright 1997-1998 by Jeff Wall

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