Jon Huntsman Passes the Captain Beefheart Test

I spent some time on the trail in New Hampshire with Jon Huntsman, and while a fuller piece on that is coming, I’m not finding space to include our exchange about the works of Don Van Vliet, a.k.a. Captain Beefheart. Here is the transcript, illustrated with music videos.

Slate: Do you have a particular favorite era of Beefheart?

Huntsman: I’d have to say that I like Trout Mask Replica, which came out in ‘68, all the way through Bat Chain Puller – I mean, they represent the diversity of Beefheart. I’m a fan of the really innovative spirit of Beefheart came with the Magic Band, and they really hit it off in ‘68.


Slate: Which songs on the record?

Huntsman: Ella Guru, China Pig Hammer – the whole double album. Part poetry, part improvisation. All cutting edge. And then when you get to Bat Chain Puller, it’s a little more accessible.

Slate: But Trout was the one they put together when Beefheart forced them to practice in that house…

Huntsman: Yeah, when he played with Zoot Horn Rollo and Mascara Jimmy, and Mascara Snake – these were great players. He didn’t hold onto them very long. The crew he put together for Ice Cream for Crow was good, too, but it was less experimental.

Also, how do you know about this?

Slate: Well, you tweeted about it.

Huntsman: I didn’t think anyone would read that! I put it out there to see if anyone was actually paying attention.