About Michael O'Neill

Showcasing a new collection with a previously un-released Townes Van Zandt song as the title track, this singer/songwriter with a “roots-rock” history and a soulful ease carries his listener into a time and place reminiscent of steel strings, guitar heroes, and great story-tellers like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. One of 13 children, he got started in music early. At the age of 24, he cut his teeth opening his first tour for a then-unknown band called U2.

By the time the tour ended in Los Angeles, O'Neill found himself signed with legendary manager Don Arden, (father of Sharon Osbourne). O'Neill put together a band that featured a young John Shanks, (now superstar producer of Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morrisette, Vertical Horizon, etc.), Kenny Gradney (Little Feat), and jazz saxophonist, Boney James.

He spent the better part of the next ten years touring with the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughn and penning songs with Bob Weir, Steve Cropper (Booker T. and The MG's), and Jason Scheff (Chicago).

Part country crooner, part haggard storyteller, O'Neill makes a noise that is refreshingly classic.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Elizabeth "Hoodoo" Brown

Mrs. Elizabeth "Lizzie" Hoodoo Brown, a widow living in Leadville, Colorado in the 1880s, was known for practicing the 'black arts'. In fact, it was often said that bad luck and death followed her wherever she went. Her husband, Hoodoo Brown, was a gambler like the man who ran the Dodge City Gang but it isn't certain that he was the notorious outlaw.

The pair travelled, gambling, conning and likely robbing to support themselves. During a high stakes poker game one night in Buena Vista, an argument erupted that Hoodoo and another gambler, "Curly" Frank, decided to settle with their six-shooters. Both were mortally wounded. They were, certainly unhappily, buried in the same grave.

Elizabeth returned to Leadville, where she worked as a prostitute and conjure woman. She's said to have drank heavily and to have been most unpleasant when she did.

“There was a time in the history of Leadville when Mrs. Brown was one of the reigning belles of Leadville’s Tenderloin District,” a Leadville paper reads. “Lizzie wore as fine dresses and big sparklers as any dame of the row.”

By 1885 rumors that she was in league with the Devil were rampant and she was accused of wrecking havoc with her witchcraft on more than one occasion. One
man went so far as to chop her black cat in half to break a spell. It's said that was the only time one of her spells was broken.

She lived in Leadville until her death in 1901 and was buried in an umarked grave in St. Joseph's cemetary.

For more: “Mining, Mayhem and Other Carbonate Excitements—Tales From a Silver Camp Called Leadville.” by Roger Pretti

Hoodoo Brown

Hoodoo Brown was a man from Missouri named Hyman Neill who had left home on a frieght train as a teenager. He led an adventureous life and was among other things, a buffalo hunter, gambler, con-artist and conjure-man.

Following what seems to have been a mostly good time running an opera company in Mexico with a friend, he drifted to the town of Las Vegas, New Mexico. He soon ruled the place, already notorious as the most lawless in the West. By 1879, by means natural and/or supernatural but none of them honest, Hoodoo was Justice of the Peace, Mayor and Coroner of the place.

He recruited the baddest of the bad and soon commanded a formidable band of outlaws who enforced law and committed crimes as they saw fit. The group, known as the Dodge City Gang, included men with some of the most colorful names in the West like "Mysterious Dave Mather" and "Dirty Dave" Rudebaugh. Acting as Hoodoo's Coroner’s Jury, they decided which murders, including ones they committed, were homicide and which self-defense. Rudebaugh later rode with Billy the Kid and is said to have been the only man he ever feared. Other gang member, Joshua Webb, owned a saloon with Doc Holiday at one time and rode with Bat Masterson.

They were obviously and rampantly corrupt. Not only that, but at least one of them turned to the 'black arts' when the broad range of other methods at his disposal failed. Hoodoo's trickery must have been fairly successful and fairly frequent, considering his nickname.

Ultimately, the gang was run out of town. Hoodoo left for Houston but was arrested and jailed upon arrival for the robbery and killing of a Vegas deputy. The deputy's widow came to see him soon after his arrest. "The meeting between the pair is said to have been affecting in the extreme, and rather more affectionate than would be expected under the circumstances." (Parsons Sun)

Another newspaper, the Parsons Eclipse, added "The offense committed at Las Vegas, as near as we can gather the facts relating to it, was murder and robbery, and the circumstances connected with the arrest here would indicate that the lesser crime of seduction and adultery was connected with it."

Hoodoo hired two local attorneys and was released. The Chicago Times soon reported, that Brown and the widow who had visited him "have been skylarking through some of the interior towns of Kansas ever since."

Descendants say the pair had one son and moved to Torreon, Mexico. When he died, relatives brought his son and his body back to Missouri.