“My girlhood among the outlaws was salty, bittersweet
The things I did I could just kick myself now”
–Maria McKee, 1993
If you’re like me, you’ve often said to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be nice if someone put together a 40-45 minute documentary on early Lone Justice? You know, before the band was engulfed by mediocrity and their souls cannibalized by music industry tiger sharks?” Of course you did. Well, you’re in luck because I did just that. Granted, it’s an audio documentary, but the upside is you can download it to your ipod, blackberry, or straight into your exoskeleton. Convenience, thy name is A. Lounge.
Lone Justice and the Workin’ Man Blues: 1983-85
58 MB zip file
Total Time = 42:06
This doc is the result of an intense three-week archaeological dig. I unearthed a Lone Justice radio appearance, TV spots, demos, outtakes, and several live shows. I combined those with a few officially released cuts to give longtime fans and LJ newbies a chance to hear the band at their best: A kickass country combo that put a little punk in their rock and absolutely brimmed with potential.
Sure, their window of genius was only 18-24 months, but during that span the original four-piece established themselves as an integral part of the California roots-rock continuum that began with the likes of Bob Wills and Rose Maddox and continued through Joe Maphis, James Burton, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Clarence White and Nashville West, The Byrds, Burritos, Blasters, and X.
Listening to these radio excerpts, it seems like the qualities that made the band such an engaging interview — charming, hopeful, endlessly positive — are the same qualities that made them industry shark bait. Fact is, once the high rollers got their hooks in 19-year-old (!) Maria McKee, it was game over. She was too talented, too beautiful, too naive, too everything not to fuck up. Maybe if she grew up in Seattle, Minneapolis, or southeast Georgia (i.e. not LA) she and the band could’ve spent a few years paying their dues and possibly emerging as R.E.M. type figures. Alas, it was not to be.
Maria McKee: vocals, guitar
Ryan Hedgecock: guitars, vocals
Marvin Etzioni: bass, vocals
Don Heffington: drums
David Harrington: bass (“Drugstore Cowboy”)
Don Willems: drums (“Drugstore Cowboy”)
Lone Justice on KXLU, Los Angeles, January 20, 1984
Lone Justice profile on IRS Records’ video program, “The Cutting Edge,” 1984
1. Maria McKee, John Doe & Dave Alvin – “Someone Told My Story” [Merle Haggard] – 1984
2. Lone Justice – “Rattlesnake Mama” [traditional?] – Geffen Demos – 1983-84
3. Lone Justice – “Workin’ Man Blues” [Merle Haggard] – Geffen Demos – 1983-84
4. Maria McKee & Ryan Hedgecock (acoustic) – “Nothin’ Can Stop My Lovin’ You” [George Jones] – 1984
5. Maria McKee & Ryan Hedgecock (acoustic) – “If Teardrops Were Pennies” [Dolly Parton] – 1984
6. Lone Justice – “Drugstore Cowboy” – First demos – May 1983
7. Lone Justice – “Cottonbelt” – Lone Justice outtake – 1984
8. Lone Justice – “Sweet Jane” [Velvet Underground] – Geffen Demos – 1983-84
9. Lone Justice – “Working Late” – The Stone, San Francisco – January 25, 1985
10. Maria McKee, John Doe & Dave Alvin – “Moanin’ The Blues” [Hank Williams] – 1984
11. Lone Justice – “East Of Eden” – The Stone, San Francisco – January 25, 1985
12. Lone Justice – “Shine A Light” [Rolling Stones] – The Stone, San Francisco – January 25, 1985
13. Lone Justice – “Ways To Be Wicked” [Tom Petty] – S/T – 1985
14. Lone Justice – “Soap, Soup And Salvation” – S/T – 1985
LONE JUSTICE @ THE PALOMINO, HOLLYWOOD, 1984
To fully appreciate the phenomenon that was Lone Justice, you have to see them hold an audience in their twangy grasp, Maria bringing down the house with full-throated gospel fervor. If you were a male between the ages of 0 and Methuselah, how could you not love Maria McKee??? A young, hot, spitfire, like Wanda Jackson by way of Exene Cervenka. Yeah, who could possibly enjoy that?
Pay particular attention to Maria’s dedication before “Nothin’ Can Stop My Lovin’ You.” It pretty much sums up this era, when one could reconcile the seemingly disparate worlds of George Jones and X and have it make complete sense.
Lone Justice is dead. Long live Lone Justice.
Lone Justice – Nothin’ Can Stop My Lovin’ You
Lone Justice – Cottonbelt
Lone Justice – Rattlesnake Mama
Lone Justice – Jackson