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Balladismo (2015) HI-148

For album number nine, the hopelessly and mostly happily eclectic band Headless Household (born 1983, in Santa Barbara, Calif.) set out to tighten the stylistic/vibe focus knob and go the ballad route. They partially succeeded, as heard on Balladismo, a collection of tracks with balladism (or “Balladismo”) which settles into an easier, sometimes melancholic place and attitude, but also takes detours. Detouring is the Household way, after all.

Following the 25th anniversary double-disc album Basemento (the second in the B-title trilogy, after Blur Joan and preceding Balladismo), the group slowly got in gear for the new album. Once again, the menu ranges from jazz to rock ‘n’ avant-pop ‘n’ waltz/polka turf, free improvisation, Americana and Europeana, and then some.

read bio: WORD, PDF

buy Balladismo


1.       1. How the Mighty Folly 2.      Lucidity 3.      Before and After  4.      ¾: The Road   5.      Fragments re: Chloe (Walk in the Park)  6.      In Wait (Prelude)  7.      In Wait  8.      Happy-Go-Sad  9.      Serbian Ladybug   10.   December 28, ’08  11.    Micro Dikshion  12.   I Love You, Too  13.   Humor (is the Language of the Desperate)  14.   Searching  15.   My Beautiful Boy




Headless Household is:

Dick Dunlap, keyboards

Tom Lackner, drums, percussives, electronics

Chris Symer, bass (except where noted)

Joe Woodard, guitars


How the Mighty Folly

            (for Claire Rabe)

            David Binney, alto saxophone

            Tom Buckner, tenor saxophone

            Nate Birkey, trumpet



            Julie Christensen, vocal

            Sally Barr, violin

            Bill Flores, pedal steel guitar


Before and After

            Tom Buckner, tenor saxophone

            Nate Birkey, trumpet

            David Piltch, bass


¾: The Road

            Glen Phillips, vocal

            Nicole Lvoff, harmony vox

            Sally Barr, violin

            Bill Flores, pedal steel guitar

            David Piltch, bass


Fragments re: Chloe (Walk in the Park)

            (dedicated to the memory of Dr. Ron Faoro)


In Wait

            Julie Christensen, vocal

            Tom Buckner, tenor saxophone

            David Piltch, bass


Happy-Go-Sad (Headless Household)


Serbian Ladybug

            Julie Christensen, vocal

            David Binney, alto saxophone

            Bill Flores, pedal steel guitar

            Sally Barr, violin

            David Piltch, bass


December 28, ’08

            Tom Buckner, tenor saxophone


Micro Dikshion (Dunlap/Lackner)

            Dick Dunlap, keyboard

                        Tom Lackner, remix, electronics


I Love You, Too

            Joe Woodard, vocal

            Nicole Lvoff, vocal

            Tom Buckner, tenor saxophone

            David Piltch, bass

            Sally Barr, violin

            Bill Flores, pedal steel


Humor (is the Language of the Desperate)

            Nate Birkey, trumpet

            Tom Buckner, tenor saxophone



            Nate Birkey, vocal

            David Binney, alto saxophone

            David Piltch, bass


My Beautiful Boy

            David Piltch, bass

            Nicole Lvoff, vocal

            Tom Buckner, tenor saxophone

            Bill Flores, pedal steel



Songs by Joe Woodard (except where noted)

Recorded and mixed at the Tompound, by Tom Lackner,

            August 2013 through March, 2015

(Except “December 28, ’08,” recorded live at Center Stage Theater, Santa Barbara, Calif., by Brad Spaulding, 11-28-11)

Photography, design: Kim Reierson

Produced by Necessity, and Tom Lackner

Thanks to all our Kickstarter kindlies!


Copyright 2015



 Basemento (2010) HI-144

Celebrating its 25th anniversary (a year late, due to fires and other interruptions), the band goes deep and wide on album #8, with a two-disc project geared towards moving both in an "inside" and "outside" directions within the band's admittedly schizoid identity. More digital paintboxing comes courtesy of Tom Lackner and Dick Dunlap, along with vocal tracks featuring Glen Phillips, Julie Christensen and our old friend-in-NYC Nate Birkey, also lending lustrous trumpet parts. Songpenner-guitarist Joe Woodard, along with his partners in time, usher in more Americana, Europe-ana, Braziliana, mock-prog-rock, free improv, jazz by any other name, and other instincts, all shamelessly stirred into the mix. Gifted old friends stop by to weigh in, including saxists Tom Buckner and famed alto player Dave Binney, harmonica wizard Tom Ball, pedal and lap steel player Bill Flores, mandolinist Kenny Edwards, violinist Sally Barr and bassist David Piltch (filling in where charter member Chris Symer doesn't do the low thing). Kim Reierson, longtime Household Ink heroine, is supplying photography and CD design--and the inspiration for the tune "Eighteen," named after her beautiful cool book of the same name, about truckers. Basemento bio

Headless Household has joined the Kickstarter generation! Thanks to one and all who helped us achieve our goal, raising money for our ninth album, an all-ballads project in the works, in time for our 30th anniversary year.

click to Kickstart


Basemento (2010)   Blur Joan (2005)  post-Polka (2003)           mockhausen (2000)  


Free Associations (1999) Album Art  ITEMS (1996)  Inside/Outside USA (1993)  Headless Household (1987)

A slippery vehicle of a band which takes liberal detours around its jazz basis, Headless Household has often ventured into rock, polka, free improv, and surf territory in search of...something to do. They released their eponymous debut album on the Household Ink label in 1987, a Christmas tape the same year, and their first CD, Inside/Outside USA in 1994. ITEMS came out in 1996, Free Associations in 1999, and their fifth album, mockhausen, in 2000. In November, 2003, they released post-Polka, a quasi-concept album in polka music is graced with echoes of funk, C&W, punk, Nino Rota, Frank Zappa, Charlie Parker, and other musical ideas along the way...  in celebration of their 20th anniversary, they released the special, especially dense "hyper remix" project Vertical Medleys, Vol. 1 in 2004--a kind of "story thus far, in one noisy package"... 2005 found them back on "regular" duty with the electronica-acoustica and more jazz-flavored Blur Joan... in 2010, they covered multiple attitudinal bases with Basemento, a double-disc project (This, that  and The Other) celebrating their 25th anniversary, a couple of years late.

The core Household has been, and is: keyboardist Dick Dunlap, drummer Tom Lackner, bassist Chris Symer and guitarist Joe Woodard. Various and sundry guests have been known to be roped into the musical bullpen. Dunlap, a visual and multi-media artist as well as a keyboardist, has played with Mal Waldron and in numerous new music situations. Lackner, a member of the legendary SB-based blues band, the Pontiax, has played with Vinnie Golia, Airto and Flora Purim, Eddie Harris, and Charlie Musselwhite. Symer, currently living in Seattle, has played with Robben Ford, John Rapson, Bennie Maupin, Kei Akagi, and many others. Woodard is in the sentence construction business.

 Many guests musicians have made the Household what it is, including Tom Buckner, Nate Birkey, Julie Christensen, Glen Phillips, Sally Barr, Dave Binney, Bill Flores, Tom Ball, Kenny Edwards, Ellen Turner,  David Piltch, Jim Connolly, and the list goes on...


outsiders opine:

Hometown: Santa Barbara, CA, US
"No, Headless Household is not an Industrial band. They sound like Miles Davis playing with the Kronos Quartet conducted by Sun Ra with occasional vocals by George Jones and backup singers from
A Man and a Woman. Wonderful and wonderfully bizarre. If and when Twin Peaks gets another stab at prime time TV, Headless Household would be the perfect band to play at the lodge. Sounds Like: Ween, George Jones, Mark Isham, Kronos Quartet"

 --Nick Dedina, Rhapsody.com


Basemento (2010) HI-144


                Basemento bio     check out mp3 page for sounds...


double disc delineation:


This, That

1. Why Joey Can't Read (Woodard) (7:54) 2. Hey, Hey Brazil (Woodard) (5:28) 3. Bodies in Cities (Woodard) (3:58) 4. Jobim Meets Jim Beam (Woodard) (6:08) 5. (At the) Mercy of the Wind (Woodard) (4:29) 6. Not Me (Woodard) (4:43) 7. Umpteen Waltz (Woodard) (2:10) 8. Loneliness (Woodard) (4:31) 9. I Never Wanted You (Woodard) (4:45) 10. Liquids for Visitors (Woodard) (7:23) 11. Eighteen (Woodard) (5:22)

...the Other

1. Basemento (Lackner) (6:28) 2. Timo Salminen (Woodard) (5:01) 3. Unbroken Glass (Lackner/Household) (4:46) 4. Ragout (Dunlap) (4:17) 5. Nigh (All Aboard) (3:30) 6. A Littler Prayer (Lackner) (5:00) 7. Open-Heart Sandwich (All Aboard) (6:05) 8. Face Up (Dunlap) (5:40) 9. Mount Analog (for JZ) (Lackner) (6:08)


Copyright 2010, Headless Household

Produced by Necessity

Co-produced by Tom Lackner

Recorded and mixed by Tom Lackner at the Tompound, Santa Barbara, Calif.

Additional mixing by Gabe Lackner

Mastering by Emmet Sargeant, at Beagle Studios

Design by Kim Reierson

Cover photography: Kim Reierson




The Household

Dick Dunlap, keyboards, Tom Lackner, percussions. Chris Symer, basses (except where noted), Joe Woodard, guitars

 "Honorary Household"

Tom Buckner, tenor sax, bass clarinet, flute ("Liquids for Visitors," "Hey, Hey Brazil," "Bodies in Cities," "Liquids for Visitors," "Timo Salminen," "Ragout," "Mount Analog")

David Binney, alto sax ("Basemento," "Nigh," "Open-Heart Sandwich," "Littler Prayer," "Liquids for Visitors")

Julie Christensen, vocals ("Loneliness," "Bodies in Cities," "I Never Wanted You," "(At the) Mercy of the Wind")

Glen Phillips, vocals ("Not Me," "I Never Wanted You," "(At the) Mercy of the Wind")

Nate Birkey, trumpet ("Liquids for Visitors," "Loneliness" and trumpet/vocal on "Jobim Meets Jim Beam")

David Piltch, bass ("Not Me," "Zawinul Tune," "eighteen," "I Never Wanted You," "Bodies in Cities," "Ragout," "Timo Salminen," "(At the) Mercy of the Wind"

Tom Ball, harmonicas (blues, chromatic, bass) ("Unbroken Glass," "I Never Wanted You," "eighteen," and "Basemento")

Bill Flores, pedal steel guitar ("Not Me," "eighteen," "I Never Wanted You," "Jobim Meets Jim Beam,"), lap steel ("Why Joey Can't Read")

Kenny Edwards, mandolin ("Not Me," "eighteen," "Why Joey Can't Read," "(At the) Mercy of the Wind"), vocal on "Loneliness"

Sally Barr, violin ("Loneliness," "Why Joey Can't Read," "Ragout")


Santa Barbara�s Headless Household celebrates 25 years of criminal neglect with a wonderful double album, Basemento (Household Ink). Come for �This, That�,� guitarist Joe Woodard�s song-oriented SoCal strip-mall blend of jazzy bossa nova and Bakersfield country laments (i.e., �Jobim Meets Jim Beam�). But stay for ��The Other,� a disk�s worth of some of the smartest and friendliest psychedelic jazz you�ll ever snuggle up to. Guest saxophonist Dave Binney applies the hot sauce liberally to these nine smart, incisive sonic meditations encompassing everything from British progressives like Henry Cow, gnarly New York downtown jazz, Weather Report�s international feel and the heady cosmic geologies of countless Grateful Dead space excursions.

--Richard Gehr, Relix, July, 2010

Blur Joan (2005) HI-137



1. Blur Joan (Lackner/Woodard) mp3 2. Plaything (Dunlap)  3. Brownie (Lackner)  4. Ambushed by Serenity (Woodard)  5. Then Was the Time (Woodard) mp3 6. babble (Woodard)  7. Bluer in the Face (Dunlap/Woodard)  8. Buffoons (Lackner)  9. Door of the 4/3 (Lackner/Woodard) mp3 10. Monk's Day Off (Woodard)  11. Walk Cycle (Dunlap/Woodard)  12. Sunday Go To Meetin' (Dream on Your Time) (Woodard) mp3

Headless Household: Dick Dunlap, keyboards; Tom Lackner, percussion, electronics; Joe Woodard, guitar; (on sabbatical: Chris Symer, bass)

Honorary Householders: Tom Buckner, saxophones, clarinet; David Piltch, bass; Jim Connolly, bass; Sally Barr, violin; Julie Christensen, vocals; Bill Flores, pedal steel guitar; Jeff Kaiser, trumpet

Produced by Tom Lackner

Co-produced by Necessity

Engineered and mixed by Tom Lackner, at The Tompound, Santa Barbara, Calif.

"Walk Cycle" was written for a short film by Ted Mills

Photographs and graphic design by Kim Reierson

Copyright 2005, all rights reserved

Cadence, Oct. 2006


Blur Joan / Plaything / Brownie / Ambushed By Serenity / Then
Was The Time / Babble / Bluer In The Face / Buffoons (Let’s
See?) / Door Of The 4/3 / Monk’s Day Off / Walk Cycle / Sunday
Go To Meetin’ (Dream on Your Time). 63:33.
Dick Dunlap, kybd; Tom Lackner, perc., elec.; Joe Woodard, g; Tom Buckner, ts, cl; Jeff Kaiser, tpt; Claudia Kiser, cel; Sally Barr, vln; Bill Flores, pedal steel g, David Piltch, b; Jim Connolly, b. no date listed, Santa Barbara, CA.
Santa Barbara, California, a hot bed for creative music? Well, that may be an overstatement, but like many towns throughout the world, there is creative music to be found seemingly everywhere. Hailing from Santa Barbara is Headless Household, an eclectic ensemble. For Blur Joan, their seventh record released, the quartet becomes a trio due to bassist Chris Symer’s sabbatical, matching the group with several guests, including alto saxophonist David Binney, trumpeter Jeff Kaiser, and perhaps the most often heard voice, saxophonist Tom Buckner. Soundwise, it is an eclectic and surprisingly alluring program that covers a variety of genres that, while certainly experimental, remains accessible.
The group’s interest in the fusion of electric and acoustic touches is seen from the outset on the Indian tinged “Blur Joan,” with Woodard and Buckner sharing the theme amidst the blips, hums, and percussive touches or likewise, on “Plaything,” a joyous romp that puts the focus on Dunlap and Kaiser’s muted trumpet. The most impressive of these trials is “Door Of The 4/3,” an ominous, yet hopeful piece of Americana, tastefully manipulated and featuring striking work from Binney and cellist Claudia Kiser. The program also has the group in acoustic mode on several tracks, including “Then Was The Time,” a midtempo Jazz waltz for sextet with Binney and Buckner’s horns mixing with Woodward’s fluid guitar work. The quirkiest piece of the program, though, is “Monk’s Day Off” that oddly commences with tinges of Satie before settling into a lush tenor ballad then, what the heck—it sounds as if Monk himself woke up from a nap
and provides an off-kilter interlude before the lush romanticism returns. Worth noting is also the strong work throughout from Woodard, whether adding acoustic guitar touches on the ECM-like “Ambushed By Serenity” or the nasty Blues of “Bluer In The Face.”
Though not every track is compelling, with the funky “Brownie,” or the countryish vocal-lead “Sunday Go To Meetin’ (Dream On Your Time)” proving less exciting, these complaints are minor. Overall, a quirky--in a good way--outing from a group that is certainly charting its own course.
--Jay Collins

Long-running Santa Barbara eclecto-jazz weirdoes Headless Household have simmered all their exotic flavors into a very palatable goulash called Blur Joan (Household Ink). Joe Woodard, Dick Dunlap and Tom Lackner really orchestrated this one, and with the help of brilliant friends (Dave Binney, Jim Connolly, Julie Christensen et al.), swing and waltz and reggae and sound effects unite--natural, warm and full of protein.--Greg Burk, LA Weekly, May 10, 2006


What the band has going for it is solid musicianship and an admirable willingness to toss in whatever strikes their fancy.

                                        --Aaron Steinberg, Jazz Times, July/August, 2006

Vertical Medleys, Vol. 1 (2004) HI-335= $8. (specially-priced "hyper-remix" project)

A quasi-retrospective Headless Household wall of sound production, with telling details popping above turbulent but surprising meditative hyper-surfaces. Tom Lackner did the remixing honors. Each of the group's albums gets a track of one's own, plus a bonus track, "Lost Urchin," with layered improvisations by Dick Dunlap, Tom Lackner, and Joe Woodard.

1. HeadlessHousehold(1987)  2. Inside/OutsideUSA(1993)  3.ITEMS(1995)  4. FreeAssociations(1999)  5. mockhausen (2000)  6. post-Polka(2003)  7. lost urchin(2004)





  post-Polka (2003) HI-133= $12.00/CD (ppd) For its sixth feature-length album, Headless Household gets deep into the business of polka, as theme, variation, and landing strip. Two years in the making, Headless Household's newest CD is a set of variations on a polka theme, traditional and utterly otherwise... with multiple guests, including Julie Christensen (The Divine Horsemen, Leonard Cohen, Julie Christensen), Tom Buckner, Nate Birkey, Jeff Elliott, Jeff Kaiser, Glen Phillips, Spencer Barnitz, Ellen Turner, Allegra Heidelinde, Shelly Rudolph, Tom Ball (Ball and Sultan), Bill Flores, Sally Barr, Jim Connolly (bass and musical saw), Kenny Edwards, David Piltch, and others...  bio, Greg Drust's Post-Polka liner notes

1. Days of the Week  mp3 2. A World Without Polka mp3  3. Wyatt's Burp  4. Puck's Polka (Stephan Lackner)  5. Moderate Moderation mp3  6. Of Waltzes  7. We're On Another Level  8. Turnip of the Year  9. Spencer the Polka Dispenser  10. Picture of Health  11. Divertimental (Tom Lackner, based on Stephan Lackner's source material)  12. Splinkety Polka  13. Here's to the Heimlich Maneuver  14. Bolka (Lackner/Woodard) mp3

songs by joe woodard except where noted

  mockhausen is a  collection of "outtakes," improvisational matters, and assorted other noises from the Headless Household archives...guests: saxist Dave Binney,  trumpetman Jeff Kaiser, and Ellen Turner, vox (and, by sampling happenstance, various parties). bio

1. Opened House (Dunlap/Lackner/Symer/Woodard)  2. For What Ails You (Woodard) (mp3)  3. Lust's Drowsy Watchman (Binney/Dunlap/ Lackner/Symer/Woodard)  4. Elvin (Palimpsest) (Dunlap)  5. The Feeling of Give (Binney/Dunlap/Lackner/Symer/Woodard) (mp3) 6. Concretics (Dunlap/Lackner/Symer/Woodard) (mp3)  7. No Real Time Like the Tense Present (Binney/Dunlap/Lackner/Symer/Woodard)  8. Re-Opened House (Lackner)  9. Photo Shooto (Dunlap/Lackner/Symer/Woodard)  10. Happily Mapless (Dunlap/ Symer/Woodard)  11. Skippy Elvin (Dunlap/Kaiser/Lackner/Symer/Woodard)  12. Wintry (Invention) (Woodard) (mp3)         

  Free Associations            HI-124= $12.00/CD (ppd)

Check out review from the Splendid e-zine bio

 Richard Gehr's liner notes... 

"...The group's third CD release is full of angular lines, tricky meters and 'difficult' music that gives way to moments of raw, irreverent stretching ("Tiddly Wink"), modal jams ("Green Swipe Pattern") and pure improvisational cacophony ("Surf Punctuation"). This impossibly eclectic mix suggests a strange meeting of Captain Beefheart, Ernest Tubb, post-comeback Miles Davis, the Band, Ornette Coleman, Carla Bley and Edith Piaf, with touches of Sonny Sharrock, John Cage, Bill Frisell and the Art Ensemble of Chicago thrown in. Music this wildly diverse can never be properly marketed in this age of specialization, but that doesn't make it any less extraordinary. **** (four stars)

                                                --Bill Milkowski, Tower Pulse magazine, Oct. 1999  

1. Tiddly Wink (mp3) ; Tom Buckner, tenor sax; Dave Binney, alto sax   2. My Baby Left Brain; Jennifer Terran, vocal; Jeff Kaiser, trumpet; Tom Buckner, tenor sax; Dave Binney, alto sax   3. Requiem for a Vacant Lot (mp3) Jeff Elliott, trumpet; Theo Saunders, piano; Saunders and Dunlap, piano for four hands on intro   4. The Eiffel Tower Made Easy Gilles Apap, violin; Nate Birkey, trumpet; Julie Christensen, vocal  5. Laconics 1 (Mancheadlessini)   6. Honey, I'm Home (mp3)  Glen Phillips and Marjorie Extract, vocals; Gilles Apap, fiddle; Bill Flores, pedal  steel guitar    7. Green Swipe Pattern  (mp3); Jeff Elliott, trumpet; Woodard, "lawnmower"    8. The Real of the Lake Ellen Turner, vocals; Nate Birkey, trumpet  9. Surf Punctuation (Household)    10. Angry Poodle (Welsh/Woodard) Jeff Kaiser, trumpet; Julie Christensen, voice; Dunlap, Chroma Polaris    11. Man (with) Hat (and) Tan Tom Buckner, tenor sax; Theo Saunders, piano, piano; Jeff Elliott, trumpet, fllugelhorn; Lackner, drums, drums    12. Sullen Gypsum Gilles Apap, violin; Nate Birkey, trumpet; Ellen Turner, vocal    13. fragMentor Tom Buckner, tenor sax; Dave Binney, alto sax

Some field reports from the Fourth Estate:

"Headless Household is the core cooperative quartet of Dunlap, Lackner, Symer and Woodard. Various guests add to the eclectic musical scope of a startling project... "Fan Fair is a sample heavy, sequencer-intense mix that cross-fades into the rather flat funk of "Hypothyroid Dough Boy." Gilles Apap's violin carries the melodic lead of Woodard1s lyrical ballad "3 A.M. Western." The opening three performances reveal this cooperative's challenging scope ranging from fractal freescapes ('tExpectators") to New Age ballads ("For What Ails You/Nodding Up Front); from electronic experiments ("Dance Peace/In His Absence") to jaunty dirge fanfares ("House Rules") or ballads like News Flash" and "(Open Letter To) Manfred Eicher" with its uncanny recreation of the coo yet ush romanticism of the classic ECM sound. Most surprising of all, perhaps, is the smooth relaxed groove of "Hefty Darlin'," a slick and loving demonstration of Headless Household's ability to play with a precision, depth, warmth and ease of feeling that can rival any other outfit in the professional mainstream. Lovely stuff."

    --David Lewis, Cadence, August 1998

"On this, their fourth recording, they include everything from free improv to straightahead jazz with creative asides thrown in that include comedy, Country & Western, electronic fusion, blues and progressive rock... it’s quite an enjoyable mix from this group of talented and creative musicians."

--Jim Santella, L.A. Jazz Scene, April 1997

"Headless Household still seems to think that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Clever without being obnoxious, laid-back without snoozing, their quick-dissolve electric studiohead jazz offers an alternative--not exactly a revolution, more a wink than a nod: We haven't given up, how about you?...Awareness won't get you to heaven, but in this case it gets you pretty far."

--Greg Burk, L.A. Weekly

"...a fusion band in the broad sense of the word, fusing all sorts of musical nuts and bolts--polka, cabaret, country, bossa nova, jazz, progressive rock--into an unholy chassis. Two forces fuel the conflagration: a drive to experiment and a rollicking sense of humor." --Jeff Gordinier, Santa Barbara News Press

"Strange, cool rumblings from Southern California" --Jas Obrecht, Guitar Player.

ITEMS  HI-119= $12.00/CD (ppd)

bio Check out review from the Splendid e-zine

1. Fan Fair (Dunlap)  2. Hypothyroid Dough Boy sound bite (Lackner/Woodard) Jeff Kaiser, peck horn  3. 3. A.M. Western (All the Whiskey in China) Gilles Apap, violin  4. Expectators mp3 (Binney/Dunlap/Lackner/Symer/Woodard) David Binney, alto sax 5. House Rules (Woodard)  6. News Flash (Toronto Blues Society) Jennifer Terran, vocals, Tom Buckner, tenor saxophone   7. Dance Peace (Dunlap) mp3 Dick Dunlap, samples and sequence   8. (Open Letter to) Manfred Eicher mp3 Tom Buckner, tenor saxophone   9. Ernesta (Lackner/Woodard) Jeff Kaiser, trumpet and peck horn  10. In His Absence (Dunlap) Lackner, vox, Symer, bass, Woodard, vox, Dunlap, process  11. For What Ails You (and Slight Return) David Binney, alto sax  12. Pig in a Polka mp3 (Woodard) Nate Birkey, trumpet, Tom Buckner, clarinet, tenor saxophone, Gilles Apap, violin, Ellen Turner, voice   13. Nodding Up Front (Symer)  14. Hefty Darlin,’ Nate Birkey, trumpet, Tom Buckner, tenor saxophone

songs by Woodard except where noted 

Review from allmusic guide, by Francois Couture:

The title of this album is the best possible description, not only for this particular release, Headless Household's third, but for the entire output of this strange band from Santa Barbara, California. Because Headless Household is all about eclecticism. The band plucks items from a very wide range of musical genres. The album opener, "Fan Fair," sounds just like... well... a fanfare, while the next song ("Hypothyroid Dough Boy") is driven by an angular funk rhythm with a little guitar melody very reminiscent of the theme song from the Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoon. The song then breaks totally free, only to come together once again, this time topped by a dismembered solo from guest hornist Jeff Kaiser. The next tune, "3 A.M. Western," is a beautiful (and very tonal) country/jazz ballad and the fourth a free improv jam.

I won't describe the album track by track, but by now you should get the idea: whatever it is you just heard, there is absolutely no guarantee the next minute will be in the same vein. On Items, Headless Household touches mainstream jazz, free jazz, western, polka, some very cheezy things and Zappa-like avant-rocking. The pool of guests musicians appearing on the album also has something to do with this ever-changing sound, adding to Household's basic guitar/keys/bass/drums instrumentation trumpet (Jeff Kaiser), violin (Gilles Apap), alto (David Binney) and tenor (Tom Buckner) sax, even some vocals on two tracks.

Don't think Headless Household lacks direction though. All this variety serves them well and the listener, although often surprised or taken off-guard, doesn't feel lost in Items. These guys know what they're doing and they do it very well. Fans of Frank Zappa and the likes, or simply those who appreciate not being able to predict what will happen for the next hour after the first two minutes of the CD, should definitely try to track this one down.

Album Art Inside/Outside USA HI-113= $12.00 for CD, $8.00 for cassette (ppd)

Recorded late in 1993, the band's second full-length album is a loose-limbed conceptual romp through various byways of American music. Cameos include such guests as vocalists Glen (Toad the Wet Sprocket) Phillips, Ellen Turner, Nate Birkey, and Arlene Dunlap, trumpeter Jeff (Les McCann) Elliott, and violinist Gilles Apap. bio


1. Trouble in Whoville (mp3); Nate Birkey, trumpet, John Schnackenberg, tenor sax   2. Woe to Him (Who Builds His House on Salty Sand) sound bite; Glen Phillips, vocals  3. Saloonacy   4. The Mayor's Send-Off; Jeff Elliott, trumpet  5. Rumba in Kuwait (Household)    6. Denver Umlaut (mp3); Gilles Apap, violin  7Free James Brown 8. Wintering in Heaven (mp3); Ellen Turner, vocals  9. Sufferin’ USA    10. Ballad for Bonnard’s Wife; Arlene Dunlap, vocals    11. I’ll Think About It (Lackner) (mp3)  12. Johnny’s Johnny   13. I Can’t Remember the Words; Nate Birkey, trumpet and vocal   14. The Breadwinner’s Procession (mp3)

songs by Woodard except where noted

"Santa Barbara's comically-inspired jazz-cum-anything quartet... fusion, country, folk, funk, surf, and even polka all mix together with just enough bite, humor, and variety to buck convention. Prime musical chops keep the irreverence focused... this household is all over the map; in terms of creativity and energy, the group is beyond category." --Roger Len Smith, Jazziz

"Headless Household’s singular brand of jazz is not so much free as it is amok. This Santa Barbara combo plays endearingly bizarre pop, bop, swing, and several other genres with impeccable musicianship and a sly sense of humor... `The Mayor’s Send-Off’ is a very nice piece of blue-mood lounge music with a smoky trumpet; `Rumba in Kuwait’ is an impressive exercise in avant-noise; `Wintering in Heaven’ deserves to be added to the repertoire of every nightclub crooner. An added bonus is `Woe to Him,’ featuring vocals by Toad the Wet Sprocket’s Glen Phillips. Recommended, but not for purists." --Rafer Guzman, East Bay Express

"Fusion's never been this bizarre. Headless Household combines good 'ol Southern blues-boogie, be-bop, swing and rock into a gamey stew served warm over a plate of Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Golden Palaminos, Captain Beefheart, Savoy Brown, and onward...Wild."--Darren Bergstein, I/e

Headless Household, Headless Household 

(CD) HI-111-2= $12.00 (ppd)

(LP) HI-111= $7.00 (ppd)

The band's debut album, recorded in 1987, from free improv to quasi-rock to polka ("Isle of Hugh") and back. Now available on both collectable vinyl and banal compact disc! bio

SIDE A: 1. One Form of Therapy (Woodard)  2. Year of the Donkey (Dunlap)  3. Rhythm Truck (Woodard)

SIDE B: 1. Isle of Hugh (Woodard), guest vocalist, Kathy Duncan   2. Rather by the Giver (Woodard), John Rapson, trombone  3. Gabriel (Lackner)  4. Off the Beat (Dunlap)  

"Following a private madness, they assemble (musical) nuggets into something great and, sometimes, even important. Using old and new instrumentation and technologies, Headless Household weave through tight turns and time-signatures" --B.H. Hart, Sound Choice

"It's hard to categorize these guys, though their music's playful, quirky, sometimes downright silly, sometimes quite soothing."--New Music Distribution Service Catalogue blurb

  Christmas with Headless Household: "Silver Bells Tolling" b/w "Red Pies Over Montana" (Cassette only) HI-112= $5.00 (ppd) 

This two-song EP features the yuletide-flavored ambient anthem, Silver Bells Tolling," recorded on a 4-track in December of 1987, as well as the late-night paste-up piece from 1985, "Red Pies Over Montana."

"Holy host, Batman! Are these guys for real? You might call this recording `Christmas in the Zappa Neighborhood' or `Sledding in the Santa Barbara Snow.' This is experimental Christmas music to say the least."--Mark Hanson, Frets

"They say that a camel is a horse designed by committee, but the band Headless Household proves that good things can indeed come in collective packages." --Nick Welsh, Santa Barbara. Independent

order HI products, via plastic, cheques, money orders or cash dollars, via:

Household Ink, P.O. Box 2093, Santa Barbara, CA 93120

...and grab life...


Send e-mail: info@householdink.com

last modified: march 23, 2020