Gateway to the Ether No.2
Aquarium Drunkard's Jason Woodbury smokes a bowl and shares his ultimate stoner playlist
Jason Woodbury understood from a young age that music and cannabis shared the same zone. Immersed in music all day every day, he has just the right stoner playlist for late night sessions and lazy weekend afternoons. Light a bowl, grab a Topo Chico and buzzily spend some time discovering his favourite tunes.
Heads Lifestyle: Hi Jason, where are you now?
JPW: Phoenix, Arizona.
Heads Lifestyle: What do you do with your time?
JPW: I edit Aquarium Drunkard and also produce AD’s weekly talk show podcast Transmissions. I’m the creative director at Hello Merch where I’m working on all sorts of forthcoming projects, including an A/V channel called WASTOIDS. I host a radio show called Range and Basin as part of the Radio Free Aquarium Drunkard broadcast on dublab, which airs every third Sunday of the month from 4-8 PM Pacific.
Heads Lifestyle: Do you get high when listening to music?
JPW: I listen to music all day most of the week, but reserve stoned listening sessions for the nighttime and lazy weekend afternoons. But the short answer is, yeah.
Heads Lifestyle: Describe a typical music-weed session?
JPW: I like to smoke a bowl out back and then I’ll head in and put a record on the turntable. I’m more inclined toward Sativa strains—I like the energy—but I’m happy with Indica too. My primary hi-fi setup is in the front room. I love the natural light there. I’ll grab a Topo Chico and buzzily spend time with my LPs, petting the dogs, and flipping through comic books.
Heads Lifestyle: What is your earliest memory of connecting the dots between music and cannabis?
JPW: I likely connected those dots long before I personally understood the relationship. There was probably a moment I had at the Casa Grande mall as a kid, definitely in my pre-teen years, noting a pot leaf flag in the CD store and just sort of innately understanding that music and weed shared the same zone.
Caught Behind the HoursJeffrey Silverstein makes layered and hypnotic tunes. He also writes about music with deep sensitivity. This one feels like it could go on for hours, even though it’s only a little more than four minutes long.
Por Perido Amor
Most of this record leans into an almost chicken scratch direction, but the tale of love gone wrong is all brown-eyed soul.
Wrong Space, Wrong Time
Far out synthesized bedroom R&B from 1985 recorded on a Tascam Portastudio 244. I first heard his song Excerpts from Autumn, which served as my radio show introduction for its first year, on the great and sadly out of print Personal Space: Electronic Soul 1974-1984 compilation. But as this song suggests, the entirety of Phelps’ Magnetic Eyes LP is fantastic.
Like a barrelling locomotive right through the centre of my brain. Yoko is an absolute hero—then and now.
Romantic Technicolor dream pop circa Brazil, 1972. Carlos is a huge star in Brazil, known for his pop records and work with Tim Maia. But this song and the album it comes from, Sonhos e Memorias (which translates to Dreams and Memories) represents a bit of a departure, soaking in hippie golden hour haziness. The backing band would go on to form the jazz rock outfit Azymuth—also worth checking out.
One of my favourite effects of cannabis is the way it can get you out of your head and into your body, a sensation that I experience acutely listening to the incredible voice of the late Trish Keenan.
Sonny Sharrock and Nicky Skopelitis
First of Equals
Okay, stop what you’re doing and watch the 1996 Space Ghost Coast to Coast episode Sharrock. And welcome back. From wild solos on Herbie Mann records to the Pharoah Sanders-assisted classic Ask the Ages, you can’t go wrong with Sonny—even when he’s in kind of a schlocky blues rock mode—and I especially enjoy the interplay between him and Skopelitis on this tender composition.
A Chuck Berry standard stretches out into a 10-minute surf drone guitar soli epic. I used to do a regular DJ gig at a Tempe dive called the Yucca Tap Room and I’d always play this one when I needed to take a break, grab another drink, or hit the bathroom. You walk into a room and this is playing and it’s an immediate vibe enhancer.
Damba Pa Ti
Like Sharrock, it’s all about Carlos’ phrasing. The band cooks too. You know that feeling of first hearing a song and knowing innately it’s one of your favourite songs? That’s how it was hearing this one as a kid. It always struck me as just the most beautiful, soul-level kind of expression and it still feels that way.
Another bedroom blessing from Hadley, Lee, and Lightcap, who comprised Acetone, one of the best bands ever to come out of Los Angeles. They were grouped with other slowcore groups, like Low, Mazzy Star, and Mercury Rev, but there’s a particularly oceanic feel to their sounds. Also worth digging up, any of the hard-to-track-down-but-worth-it recordings by the Dick Slessig Combo, which presaged Acetone and resumed after Lee took his life. Lightcap is one of the great underrecognized guitarists—a master of mood and slow blooming reverie.
A lowrider soul-die that begins with its wheels on the road but soon departs for distant galaxies of reverb and blissful flute like a half-remembered dream.
When Your Lonely Heart Breaks
I’m a huge fan of Neil Young and Tom Scharpling’s The Best Show. I first heard this one on The Best Show spin-off in which Scharpling, Jason Gore, Pat Byrne, and Mike Lisk make their way chronologically through the CSNY discography (both solo and supergroup incarnations—so you know there’s some dreck). I’d missed this selection from Neil’s 1987 album Life. It doesn’t quite work—producer David Briggs famously was dissatisfied with Crazy Horse’s clunky and emotionless take —but there’s a haunting proto-Twin Peaks/Lynchian quality to it I can’t shake. You can hear the glorious composition struggling to get out. Under the right circumstances I can hear it in my head.
Jason P. Woodbury is the host of Aquarium Drunkard Transmissions. He is the creative director at Hello Merch, overseeing projects like WASTOIDS. His work has appeared in Pitchfork, Stereogum, Relix, and many other outlets. His radio show Range and Basin airs every third Sunday on dublab. He plays music in the group Kitimoto and as JPW. He lives in Arizona with his wife Becky and their dogs, Watson and Dinah.
You may also like:
New Riders of the Purple Haze
Pacific Range rides the wave of cosmic Rock 'n' Roll
Gateway to the Ether
Howlin' Rain sonic messenger Ethan Miller shares his definitive stoner playlist
Following a Trailblazer
Rose City Band's Ripley Johnson let's us in on his Earth Trip