More than 40 years after the term exploded into the popular consciousnesses, people are still asking “What is punk?”

Here at byNWR we try to answer the question in our sixth volume, by making our definition of the term as elastic and exotic possible.

Punk is more than mere music, or even a singularly defined aesthetic or attitude. Rather, it’s a chimerical sprit that can make almost anything -- from the confrontational musical theatre of the Screamers, to the sleazoid cinema of Kroger Babb, to the honky-tonk rebellion of Gary Stewart -- all authentically punk.

Walk The Walk (1970)

Our first month feature follows in the tradition of other remarkable byNWR rescue jobs, as we present a lost classic from 1970, the anti-drug fantasia, Walk the Walk. Produced by shlock flick visionary Kroger Babb (the subject of Howie Pyro’s eye-popping retrospective Kroger Babbylon), Walk the Walk was the passion project of director Jac Zacha, recounting his personal battle with drug addiction.

The film’s star, Bernie Hamilton, is given the biographical treatment by noted author and frequent byNWR contributor RJ Smith. Like our Vol 1. Nest of the Cuckoo Birds subject Bert Williams, Hamilton was a career character actor, best known for his role as Captain Dobey on ‘70s TV police show Starsky and Hutch. But as Smith discovers, Hamilton was a true renaissance man. In addition to groundbreaking roles that shattered racial conventions in cinema, his personal tale is that of a relentless creative spirit -- an actor, singer, and children’s toy maker – whose big personality made him a friend to everyone from Frank Sinatra to Fela Kuti.

Throwing back to 1977, and the heated, dangerous era of Los Angeles punk, Jonny Whiteside tells the story of The Skulls and singer Billy Bones – a band whose Hillside Strangler-inspired single “Victims” put them in the crosshairs of an FBI investigation and at the center of SoCal’s era of musical mayhem.

Singer, chanteuse, pop mimic and darling diva, the work of Tammy Faye Starlite defies easy description. byNWR executive editor Jimmy McDongough gets deep into her story using Starlite’s own words, texts, pictures and performance, as she stars in a special byNWR shoot in 3D.

Plus: Texas musical expert Michael Corcoran explores the tale of pianists Charles Brown and Amos Milburn, two titans of post-war blues whose secret love affair marked their lives and the music that influenced a generation; Caroline Nicksin writes about the strange experience of serving as a bidder for the Mighty Thor -- a mad, wealthy Warhol collector –– in the high-stakes world of art auctions.

Emerald Cities (1983)

We kick off the second month with Rick Schmidt’s apocalyptic punk-flavored fable, Emerald Cities, featuring music and performances by Flipper and the Mutants. As veteran critic Keith Phipps writes in his introductory essay, the film looks at a society as it enters “new dark ages” of the Reagan ‘80s, a moment when mushroom clouds always seemed to be just over the next horizon.

Grammy and Emmy-award winning filmmaker/author Robert Gordon chronicles the history of Barbarian Records – the wild and wooly ‘70s Memphis music label that was home to a bizarro roster of acts from wrestler Jerry “The King” Lawler to gay disco pioneer Saboo LaTeuse. Gordon goes deep into the mysterious Southern backwoods (literally) in search of Barbarian label head and chronic collector Jim Blake to get the story.

This month also features a suite of pieces from music industry legend Bill Bentley. The Texas-raised, LA-based writer, publicist and record company man writes about his deep, sometime difficult, but always entertaining relationship with punk avatar Lou Reed, for whom he worked with for over two decades. Bill also flashes back to the ‘70s Austin scene, recounting his time with another Velvet Undergrounder, Sterling Morrison, who he played with in the Texas outsider combo the Bizarros. As a bonus, byNWR presents a collection of unreleased Bizarros tracks featuring Morrison.

An expert chronicler of the strange and sordid and those who reside in the margins of California’s musical and cultural scenes, Peter Gilstrap heads to South Central Los Angeles to visit with one of the last great underground soul singers, Sonny Green. A bard of the backroom cheating song, the Louisiana native offers up a life story that cuts through the heart of American R&B history. Our byNWR cameras tag along to a Green gig at Bell’s Blues Workshop, capturing the charismatic and sartorially splendid Green in performance.

Plus: RJ Smith returns to tell the tale of a strange night in St. Louis when SoCal punk combo Circle Jerks shared the stage with an unlikely guest: rock and roll legend Chuck Berry; author James Porter looks at the lives of Jackie Shane, Bobby Marchan and Wilbur “Hi-Fi” White, who brought the flamboyance of drag culture into the world of black R&B.

Ears, Eyes and Throats: Restored Classic and Lost Punk Films 1976-1981

This month’s film is more actually a jaw-dropping package of rare and/or never-before-see punk shorts, sourced and compiled by our A/V supremo Peter Conheim. The Ears, Eyes and Throats collection features clips of San Francisco’s anonymous legends The Residents and various Ralph Records cohorts, fully restored from the original camera negatives for the first time ever. It also includes the late Richard Gaikowski’s criminally unseen rarities Deaf/Punk (filmed in 1977) and Moody Teenager (1979). Also, included is Pittsburgh teen punks’ semi-fictionalized Debt Begins At 20 by Stephanie Beroes (1980), plus the unreleased 1978 Mabuhay Gardens/San Francisco diary doc In The Red (featuring Negative Trend), as well never-seen performance outtakes from the legendary Louder Faster Shorter concert doc.

On the story side, we offer David Jones’ definitive history of provocative theatrical punk combo The Screamers. In conjunction, we also present the final interview with late Screamers front man Tomata du Plenty, a two-part epic, conducted by and courtesy of The Big Takeover’s Jack Rabid.

Volume co-editor Bob Mehr digs into the hardscrabble life of Gary Stewart, one of country music’s most gifted and revered practitioners. Mehr examines Stewart’s music, triumphs and tragic suicide at age 59.

Writer and photographer Pat Blashill had a front row seat to the flowering of Austin’s early punk scene – led by the Big Boys, Butthole Surfers and Dicks, among others. Blashill recounts his time with the musicians and movers who defined the era in a stunning photo-essay.

Plus: Pieces on the ‘80s punk lit movement; a look and listen to the music of Bloomington, Indiana post-industrialists MX-80 Sound.

More: Personal essays from a panoply of artists and innovators – from actress Elle Fanning, to gaming icon Hideo Kojima, to hip-hop revolutionary Chuck D – all weighing in on what punk means to them.


Bob Mehr is the author of the New York Times bestseller Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee.