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Author Archives: paulms

About paulms

My name is Paul Shapera, a musician working under the name Mocha Lab. I make albums, theater shows, videos, dance pieces, commercials and move around a lot.

Southern Gothic: Those Poor Bastards

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A mainstay of the Gothic Country scene, Those Poor Bastards sum themselves up pretty well:

Those Poor Bastards play miserable and primitive old-time gothic country music. Lonesome Wyatt (guitar, vocals) and The Minister (banjo, bass, etc.) are both legally certified holiness preachers.

If you’re looking for slick, over-produced, commercial songs, you’d better cover your delicate little ears. Those Poor Bastards play it raw and they play it mean. Be a pal and support independent anti-corporate country music.

THOSE POOR BASTARDS ARE

Lonesome Wyatt – Vocals, Guitar
The Minister – Banjo, Bass, Percussion, Backing Vocal (Studio recordings)
Vincent Presley – Drums, Moog (Live shows)

 

Lonesome Wyatt, the main singer, is enormously prolific, equally well known for playing with his other outfit Lonesome Wyatt And The Holy Spooks, his music output is enormous. The Minister, on the other hand, doesn’t want to appear in public or even show his face. For this reason he wears a burqa-curtain like mask. As far as i can tell, he doesn’t perform live. Vincent Presley fills out the duo for Poor Bastard Live Shows.

Much of the Gothic Country genre is raw, often with some swathe of ugliness swirling around the moody, stripped down down home, backhills americana. It’s a key part of the genre. Often the vocals scratch or rub against the grain of pleasantness. Within this odd palette , Lonesome Wyatt teases out an enormous range of direct, southern darkness.

“Rather than commit itself entirely to the time in which we presently live, their sound finds itself treading through the stinking gutter of a Depression era alleyway, only to sit amongst other lost souls, all of them sitting around a mighty fire burning in the guts of a metal waste container. They proceed to pick up guitars, banjos, fiddles, buckets for percussion, and various other instruments, some homemade, some not, and play song after song as if their very lives depended upon it. And throughout the night it evolves into a sound as dark as a winter night, as sharp as a rattler’s fang, as vicious as a meth lab guard dog, as bizarre as a pack of sideshow carnies, and as full of fire and brimstone as an evangelical preacher of the South’s sweaty Bible Belt.” – No Depression

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Character Sketches: The Sheriff 1

Character Sketches: The Sheriff 1

More designs from Sarah de Buck, this time of the Sheriff.

   
gothic western steampunk  dark cabaret  lost hallow paul shaper sarah de buck 
  
 gothic western steampunk  dark cabaret  lost hallow paul shaper sarah de buck  

  

gothic western steampunk  dark cabaret  lost hallow paul shaper sarah de buck 

  

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Character Sketches: Hannah 2, Han-Mi 2, Sheriff headshots by Sarah de Buck

Character Sketches: Hannah 2, Han-Mi 2, Sheriff headshots by Sarah de Buck

I love it when Sarah de Buck sends character sketches. She’s done some great stuff here. We have Hanna, the MC of the Cabaret in her proper performance gear, some excellent Han-Mi attire and the first headshot trials at the Sheriff.

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Hannah the MC

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Han-Mi, our Crime Queen

gothic western steampunk cabaret hannah sarah de buck paul shapera

Han-Mi, our Crime Queen

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The Sheriff

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Dance For Me by Psyche Corp

Despite having a wealth of material to share, including some great new character art by Sarah de Buck, we’re going to pause today and share the just completed video by Psyche Corp,  “a fairytale cyber/steampunk band fronted by a former Ladies of Steampunk model and programmer who combines dance with a powerhouse vocal range. The band is named after a dream manufacture group from a future where neural implants allow people to download dreams from the Internet.”

Psyche Corp’s official website is http://psychecorporation.com/, and i highly recommend you check out her Bandcamp page, https://psychecorp.bandcamp.com/

We here at the Dolls blog adore Miss Corp and helped Kickstart this video of hers, as we love to see Psyche continue to do what she does. Thus, without further ado, the new video:

 

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Notes On Lost Hallow 5: Sophia Suarez, The Herbalist

herbalist steampunk gothic western cabaret

Sophia Suarez is the town herbalist. This puts her practically on par with the Doctor, Doc Svendsen. The town of Lost Hallow does not have a drugstore nor a pharmacy, there is just Sophia’s Herb Shop, which has the cure for most anything that ails you. Anything, that is, that you at least stand a chance of coming out the other side of alive.

There was a feller some years ago who did try to open a pharmacy and he stayed open a little over a year. Fact is, he couldn’t do near the job Sophia does and he specialized in pills and needles. Reglar folk don’t like pills and needles. Sophia’s got herbs and teas. Folks like herbs and tea. And she doesn’t just have stuff for curing your sickness, she’s got herbs for pep, herbs for relaxation, herbs for a cheery disposition, herbs for concentration, herbs for alleviating existential dread, herbs that’ll make music sound like a choir of gawdam angels,  herbs that will make you giggle til you spit your drink up all over the table and for the discriminating connoisseur, herbs that will trip your balls off til next tues.

Sophia can mix up the most incredible concoctions to help with the oddest things imaginable. It’s a true talent, although when asked about it she claims she communicates with the plants themselves who tell her how they can be used and mixed with others, and sometimes communes with the Green Man who discusses primal and arcane botanical philosophies with her.

Once every season Sophia goes away for a weekend, so to speak. She’s got a place on the mountain that shes goes to where she grows a lot of what’s in the store, and she consumes a very special little something she grows and mixes herself. You could say that she trips her face off, but looky here, we’re not talking about some thrill seeking young collegian out to drool at the pretty colors. She is deadly serious and personally, i have no doubt she goes to some kind of sub reality and talks directly to the plant spirits.

As to how this all started,  pull up a seat.

I don’t know who you are or how much you know or remember, but some years ago, back when Sophia was just a teenager, there was this real popular series of books by Michael Mendelson in which he meets some kind of aboriginal shaman and learns all about all sorts of strange native sorcery and magic and using all kinds of weird drugs to open the mind’s hidden powers…and stuff like that. You kids probably don’t know much about it these days, but they were huge back in the day. That Mendelson fellow made a killin’ and all kinds of spiritual seekers and just plain outright flakes were singin’ his praises there for awhile.

Well little teenage Sophia got ahold of a few of them books. She didn’t have no one to talk about them with ’til she started hangin’ around Fenna O’Kelly a few years later, and certainly no access to anyone who would show her any of them rituals or drugs or nothing, so she did it all by herself. She went out to the mountain and picked all sorts of herbs and stuff and tried to recreate them magic rituals and over the course of a few years from about 17 to 22 just taught herself all this crazy stuff. She became able to pull off some weird shit. She also started actually… well…. peeling down the layers of the onion of reality which eventually got her communicatin’ to the plants and Green Man, but that came a little later.

So Sophia learned to smoke and eat a bunch of strange plants and do a heap of magical kind of stuff. And she decides now that she’s a grown woman, being 22 and all, that she should learn at the feet of the master. So she goes and tracks down ol’ Michael Mendelson himself. Takes her a heck of an effort to travel to him but she finally gets there and announces herself. She thinks maybe he might remember her from the letters she sent him, but seein’ as he never wrote back and gets a whole heap of mail, it wasn’t any great surprise he didn’t know her or expect her.

But he’s got some disciples who hang about, mostly women, and he tells her she’s welcome too and off he takes her to interview her and see where she is spiritually. And by “interview her and see where she is spiritually” i mean off he goes to get her somewhere where he can set about parting her from her clothing.   You know, take….  a real personal inventory.

So he’s doing this “interview” as he often does with these doe eyed girls who come flocking round, and from the way she worships him he is all but ripping his clothes off in expectation. She however keeps wanting to discuss minutia about the rituals in the books. He just smiles and nods and says some very vague, platitude kind of stuff as he’s working the buttons off her blouse. Finally, getting a little frustrated at his not answering her questions before he boffs her (she’s okay with the boffing in theory, but she really, really wanted some of these questions answered) she tells him to hang on, she’s gonna show him where her trouble is directly and proceeds to perform one of them reality bending spells  which works for a minute, but then falls apart. Then she looks at him to ask what is she messing up that she can’t keep it going.

Except, Mr. Mendelson’s erection has shriveled to a dead shrimp and his mouth is hanging open and he’s got this look of… well somewhere between “wtf” and outright horror. He’s sort of sitting on the floor but crawling away at the same time. And Sophia is real confused. I mean, she knows she fucked up the spell, but how bad could she possibly have fucked it up? She looks around to make sure she didn’t damage or curse anything or summon an elder god or something, but everything seems fine. So she keeps asking him What? What? What did she do? She wants to know what she did wrong. She’s been trying to fix it for months.

He asks her to do it again. She does and this time she even keeps the ball of  bent reality going for a couple minutes, a new record for her. But Michael is just white as a ghost. He asks what other stuff she can do and she goes down some of his spells, performing them, and apologizing and explaining to him what she had to do differently since she didn’t have access to the same stuff he did. Afterwards he mumbles through some more vague platitudes but he has real trouble putting words together.

She sticks around a little bit, about a week, enough to figure out this:

Michael Mendelson was more full of shit than the Danbury’s outhouse that time last summer they threw that chili cookoff. He had never met an aboriginal shaman, he had never learned all those spiritual secrets, he had never actually had any spell or ritual produce any result ever. He had written the first book as a college paper, making up the encounter but filling out the ritual details with random stuff he had gotten out of old occultish library books and botanical tombs that showed how to make psychoactive compounds from various plants. He hadn’t expected the book to be sold to a general public much less make a shitload of money, but when it did, he repeated this winning formula for the next two books. By now he was wealthy and gettin’ laid like a king.

Then Sophia came along and actually had enough God given raw talent that she made it work. It helped that the occult books Mendelson had copied turned out to be relatively on the level. And what had kick started Sophia’s talents and abilities was ingesting the herbal brews she had concocted.

Thus Sophia left that flabbergasted douchebag and returned to Lost Hallow where she began a dedicated course of self study. She and Feena O’Kelly worked together a lot in those day, Feena exploring her own esoteric interests which make her such a competent seer. It was about this time that those rumors started up about how the two of them are sleeping together, rumors which pop up every few years, but not only do i not know if this is true or not, i reckon it ain’t anybody’s business but theirs.

Sophia’s psychoactive endeavors finally hit an epiphany when she achieved communication with certain plants. It was the beginning of a whole new world. However, they were very clear to her: if she wanted to develop a relationship, continue communing with them and set down a path that would lead to, among other things, meeting the Green Man, she had to quit with that sorcery crap she had picked up from Mendelson’s books. Non reality is abhorrent to plants. Human consciousness is non real enough and the stink of human consciousness mucking about in sorcery they likened to trying to hold a conversation with a pig who’s rolling in his own feces, masturbating. You know, good luck and all pig, but they ain’t stickin’ around to watch.

It was a no brainer for Sophia.

Thus have them years passed. Sophia has collected herbs from all over the world. Stuff folks claim cannot grow in the climate of Lost Hallow Sophia can grow. Sometimes. She’ll be the first to tell you she’s failed a lot more than causal customers will ever know and there’s things that should never be taken outside of its native region. Wise she has become, and like i said, you got something that ails you physically or maybe mentally or even in some cases spiritually, go by Sophia’s Herb Store. If she can’t cured what ails you, well son… then you got yourself a problem.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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5 Awesome Gothic Western Songs

Out of the two genres i’m currently subsuming the most, it’s Gothic Western that has me the most excited. I knew about and have listened to Dark Cabaret, but Gothic Western is a new candyland of music i really like, really inspires me, and is basically untapped.

Oh sure, the genre has roots in things i already love, like Tom Waits and some of Johnny Cash’s (especially later) work as well as bits and dollops of things i pick up here and there. But as a whole the genre is until now just outside my radar and the artists currently working it unknown to me and i’ve been playing this in the car more than anything else. The mood is just wonderful and combining this with Dark Cabaret… the possibilities are legion.

I’m almost done with the first song of the Gothic Western Steampunk Cabaret. We’re forgoing overtures this time around. Cabarets do not have overture, they cut right to the chase. So while i putter away, here are 5 tracks from the Western Gothic genre that i particularly enjoy:

Christian Williams

 

Tenhi

 

I Am Oak

 

The Undertaker

 

The Letter

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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5 Awesome Dark Cabaret Songs

The two genres i’m listening to most to prepare for the Miss Hannah’s (something something)  Cabaret (or whatever it’ll end up being called) are Dark Cabaret and Gothic Western. In fact the initial inspiration to do this at all came from simply seeing the words “dark cabaret” online a little bit ago. I suddenly felt a thrumping pang in my heart and remember how much inspiration it had filled my with during the my early preparations into the steampunk opera and how there was so much more i wanted to do with it  but didn’t get the chance.

So now the usb in my car plays mostly dark cabaret and gothic western mixes. Here are some particularly awesome Dark Cabaret songs (that aren’t Dresden Dolls. Who are my absolute favorite and who i’ve devoted entire posts to and will again.)

Emilie Autumn

 

Tiger Lillies

 

Vermillion Lies

 

Bitter Ruin

 

 

Voltaire

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2016 in Uncategorized

 
 
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