Archive for the 'Rock' Category

12
Feb
14

The Livitation Acts in the Crystal Ballroom by Floater

 

Floater at the Crystal Ballroom

Floater at the Crystal Ballroom

 

On my way to Seattle and after leaving my friends in San Francisco I thought it would be novel and fabulous to spend a night in Portland to take in this magical city. There are similarities of Portland to Seattle but I find the topography a little more intense, more compressed, with the different bridges spanning the various water ways and the mountainous terrain set against the modern city’s architecture offer stunning views. On my frist drive through I found it to be dramatic and picturesque. This being my second visit to Portland I wanted to lock on to the for the night. I decided settled in a downtown motel for the evening with my sights on tuning in on the local night life.

After a few hours of reconstituting myself in the motel room I decided to make my way out and explore downtown Portland. Being famished and restless I had fine dinning and entertainment on my mind. I’m sure I spent the better part of an hour crisscrossing the grid of Portland trying to get a sense of the city by sniffing out where the action might be. My conclusion on my party skills was, “I still got it!” The meaning of this statement is I can still localize and suss out the cool stuff on a whim, like radar. I settled on neighborhood that an urban grid, that also included random diagonals that cross streets amidst old brick buildings. There were quaint cafes, hipstery shops and groovy dive bars shine and glow with burning neon that’s engulfing the active street life. I circled the area till I found the right parking situation and I began the defining hunt for coolness in earnest.

 

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The area was perched on a slops of the city and as I rounded the corner I saw the first evidences of alternative culture. People were hanging on the sidewalks, bundled up in thrift store chic and alternative gear. They were smoking cigarettes and weed in small clusters, while a line lingered near the of a rather historic looking old brick facade. At the time I was unaware of the Crystal Ballroom, which has been a local bastion of entertainment, surviving for nearly a hundred years with the venue celebrating its centennial. I drifted down near the door. I was a bit famished but more interested in what was going on with the people so dutifully waiting outside the door of this grand old establishment. I asked a young lady with her mother what was going on. Without hesitation she declared they were attending a Floater concert. We had a short chit chat and she and her mother recommended I should attend in the most enthusiastic manner.  It so happened that the Crystal Ballroom was celebrating “100 Nights” as part of their centennial anniversary. Floater was playing the 82nd night that would lead up to the culmination of the hundredth show performance on January 21, 2014.

After clearing the Crystal Ballroom’s threshold I headed up 3 flights of stairs to the grand ballroom. It was truly grand! Smoochknob was delivery a rockus alternative blend of Punk and New Metal. They were working the scary tough look but seemed to be big ole sweethearts, as they delivered a fierce throbbing and pounding set drenched searing guitar riffs. The drummer was the singer and he held the center stage. He was big guy sporting a shaggy mohawk. He had a lot of presence for a drummer. They were a manic group, roaming the stage grouping and disbanding to incite the audience with classic guitar showmanship, while actively engaging the fans for a lively energized set. They powered through to the end, properly warming everyone up for the oncoming performance by Floater.

 

 

Floater, now being long in the tooth with a devoted fan base, enter the stage in a very professional focused low-key manner pulling on and messing with their gear. There was the shuffling and slow positioning of the band members to their spots after a number of fan outburst of roars and cheers. These flurries of anticipation peaked in pandemonium when lead singer Rob Wynia moved to the mic and fellow band mates, Pete Cornett and Dave Amador, broke into the beginning of their set, firing off with the song Cinema. Before all this mayhem broke loose I had befriended a gentleman named Doug Griffith. Doug was the ultimate Floater fan. He recounted, to me, seeing Floater over one hundred times. He filled me in on some details of Floater by enlightening me regarding the band’s musical style and history. What it didn’t prepare me for was the out of control antics of their fan base. I was close to the front and to my right of the stage, when all hell broke loose! There was wave after wave of human flesh struggling and flailing appendages coming in my direction. It was posing a problem for my photographing the band and receiving some potentially serious personal injury and camera damage in the process. I’m a veteran of the Hardcore Punk scene from the 80′s, so the violence wasn’t out of hand or malicious, just very physically enthusiastic! The band laid out solid alternative Rock that blew the Crystal Ballroom up from the first song. The new song called “Light It Up” rumbled and then softened to a flow that led the mid-tempo “In transition”. The first 3 songs kind of encapsulated Floater’s sound. Doug informed me that they were well known for drifting into etherial and moody slower placed breaks mid-song. This is clearly how Light It Up had moved in and out of different tempos. There was an ever so subtle homage to a Pink Floyd vibe in their instrumentals during these slower tempo breaks. Nothing you could put a finger on, but hinting to such an inspiration and an undertow. Unlike Smoochknob, Floater tends to be more aloof and mystical in an arty way. At the beginning of “An apology” the band engaged a mind blow laser light show that was occasionally bathed in smoke. The band continued through their set with fan favorites like: Ghost In The Making, Weightless, Plastic Baby, Matadors and Danny Boy. The crowd ate it up and savored every song to move like marionettes toFloater’s charged mayhem with the intense songs and hypnotically swayed to the ethereal moments.  The band retired the stage amongst the howls and cheers. These howls and cheers grew louder daring Floater to return and lay out some more jams. The fans weren’t disappointed when Floater reentered the stage to bring things to a ferocious conclusion with a medley of Helter Skelter/Five To One bringing the house down!

It was an amazing  night in a great city of the North West. I finished the evening off downstairs and a little further down the street and around the corner where I entered Ringlers Pub. I finished the night with a tasty post concert beer and a rather delicious burger. It was all low-key delivered with a North West Alternative no worries attitude that turned out to be a surprising joyous exclamation mark to a very cool entry to Portland’s night life. A great band and a vital city that hit it on all the right notes!

Floater Photo Gallery at the jump Continue reading ‘The Livitation Acts in the Crystal Ballroom by Floater’

12
Sep
12

Jayne County Turns the Vipor Room Out and Over!

All Photos by Billy Bennight for Extravagant Behavior

I know that the topic of Jayne County has come up before, but for the life me I can’t put my finger on it. Jayne County, formerly, Wayne County was a staple of the early New York Punk Rock and Gay scenes. Jayne was Rock’s first transsexual. Jayne co-mingled with those in the Factory, Andy Warhol.  Jackie Curtis, Lou Reed,  Patti Smith and David Bowie. A new friend of mine Cassandra Church, an actress, producer and musical preformer, gave me a heads up on Jayne’s performance. I had met Cassandra at a Red Carpet event. I over heard her speak of a project called “Out In The Open”. I suggested she watch Wig Stock, a fun and lively Documentary with Alexis Arquette  and Jayne County. The doc is about a Gay New York festival hosted by Lady Bunny . The event was created for a host of talented Gay performers from all around the country who come to preform in New York. Our brief encounter snowballed into a lot more than I would have expected. I do like helping and informing folks though. Giving is part of my nature. Thus Cassandra was good enough to invite to see Casper and The Bad Spirits, which happen to include Jayne County and The Electric Chairs as the headliner and a bunch of other cool bands for that Saturday night.

I arrived early to the Viper Room. My second time in less than 3 weeks. I had covered the KISS Monster press conference and book release event less than three weeks earlier. I wanted to give a shout out to my girl, Dayle Gloria, whom I almost never see anymore. Dayle and I go back to the early Scream days. So it’s nice to refresh every once in a while. Did I mention I got there early. In fact outside of the KISS event I don’t think I’ve ever arrived at the Viper Room any earlier than 10pm. I was on the list. So I trotted up stairs negotiating through the typical low light of the club. I stood toward the middle of the upstairs floor for a minute and then Cassandra approached me. She made me feel welcome and filled me in on the details.  A band started playing un-announced while I was messing with my camera. Later I would find out it was Casper and the Bad Spirits. I started shooting as the band Rocked it! Casper leads a high energy Rock ensemble with a crunchy sound that proved to be intimate and visceral. For the last song Cassnadra joined Casper for one hell of a screamer! Cassanndra belted out PJ Harvey’s Rid Of Me like a tormented female Iggy Pop. It was a body slam of a performance!

By this time I had settled for quantity with a 24 oz. of PBR. Then Cassandra hooked a brother up with one more 24 oz. PBR. I was flying high on loser friendly beers! This got me ready for Christian Martucci’s band.  A bad ass looking Rock-a-Billy dude with a DA, Christian Martucci, spilled on the stage in unrestrained hell-bent for leather Punk inspired Rock. They were a manic lot! Moving around the tiny stage delivering searing licks and pounding drums as the crowd started to thicken. There were more folks with cameras too. Christian Martucci sizzled till the end.

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Lady Sanatra came next in a night the club booked 4 bands. That’s a lot of bands in an evening. There was more drama now as the curtain was closed for an un-observed set up. Lady Sinatra opened with “Graves”. It was a hot ball buster and the room was getting tight and hot too. “Oh, Devil” was more of a mid-tempo Rocker that had the feel of Golden Earring‘s “Radar Love“. They were high energy but more threatening and menacing than the two previous bands. Like the moment Joseph Holiday wrapped the mic cord around guitarist Steve Friedlander neck to give the appearance of being strangled. Lady Sinatra is very much a garage Punk ensemble. They burned through the set of short and tough songs. Lady Sinatra lad in heavy with “Gold Lung”. A power Rocker that had the fans panting and breathless. They close to a tight house house of energized fans.

The club was packed tight and hotter than a firecracker with everyone ready to get a dose of New York OG Punk Rock. Henry Peck, formerly of Vinyl Fetish, The Veil and The Fetish Club of the eighties had dropped by to say high during Lady Sinatra. I looked back a little later to see him visiting with Glen Meadmore. Glen was one of LA’s hottest musical artist in the Gay community during the eighties. He opened for Chris and Cosey among many other notables and was in the LA Weekly all the time. I know because I was at his show and photographed him while I was a contributing photographer for the LA Weekly. I was eye-popping happy to see he was part of the night’s proceedings. He’s been doing Country music for some time now. I love his song ” Never Trust A Hustler” is one of my all time favorite tunes. So it was great to see him and wish him well. I made time to say hi to Anthony Ausgang too. He was fresh from We Got Power!: We Survived the Pit! at Track 16 Gallery. By this time Dayle was in and focusing on making things work. I’d have to wait to later to say my hellos. I cruised down stair to the lounge to relax and I ran into Bert and Iris. I haven’t seen them in a month or two. It nice to have a face to face refresher and brief catch up.

Once again, I was upstairs near the stage with the black curtains drawn. Henry and Glen occupied their spots near the left side of the stage, while Bert and Iris behind me. There was tension in the air and waiting till you heard Jayne start talking to the audienc through the curtain. Then there was this silence for a few beats. Then the curtains were drawn back for all to see and Jayne launched into her set. Now in her sixties Jayne is a mover and a shaker. Jayne gave us “Puddy In Your Hands”. Jayne is full of anecdotal stories. Referencing tales from New York street life, Max’s Kansas City, Lou Reed and Bowie. Delighting all in hearing range. It was all very entertaining! During “Cry Of Angels” I felt a thrust from behind. I was a bit annoyed. It was an urgent pressing from Ginger Coyote and Lina Lecaro in tow squeezing near the steps for an on stage performance. It was nice to see Lina. Ginger were all sorts of ready. Jayne, a contributor to Punk Globe, motioned to Ginger from the stage and then spoke briefly to her indicating it was a song out before their duet. Jayne jumped into “Cream In My Dreams”. I should mention that the sound Jayne and the Electric Chairs or Wayne County and the Backstreet Boys is what would be considered proto/seminal Punk. More bluesy, in a Rolling Stones way, but grittier, more jagged and definitely confrontational! Bands that come to mind would be Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Dead Boys , The Dictators or David Bowie. David Bowie in particular is an important reference. David Bowie’s management firm financed a film called Wayne at the Trucks. Wayne or Jayne has admitted that “Queenage Baby” was the inspiration for Rebel Rebel. But let me suggest that it supplied David Bowie with an ample supply of inspiration: birthing such songs, now classics, as Suffragette City, Jean Genie, Diamond Dogs and Rebel Rebel.

Soon, Ginger got her chance to duet with Jayne. Jayne is a contributor to Punk Globe, a publication and website Ginger puts out. The song they shared was “You Look Cool Baby (But You’re Bad In Bed)”. That duet was a tornado of blond on blond ferocity! Everyone was jumping and dancing as the girls were knee-deep and full throttle in to it. The Real kicker came when Jayne launched into “Rock and Roll Resurrection”. I thought it should be called Rock N’ Roll Erection. But that’s why I’m a writer and Jayne is a performing artist. As the number continued Jayne cranked up the drama by lamenting the loss of such luminaries as Buddy Holly, John Lennon and Joey Ramon. She said that Sid Vicious bombed at Max’s Kansas City. Jayne said Sid bombed three-times to every corner of the room. I remember reading how Sid had bombed in New York so many years ago. Leaving in question the possibility of him having a music career. Then there’s the re-write of history regarding Sid. No one remembers Sid bombed Max’s. Because of the ensuing tragedy of Nancy Spungen‘s death followed by the absolutely horrid circumstances of Sid untimely death, which made him a martyr. Eventually, Sid assumed the role as a Rock N’ Roll icon. As the song unwound, Jayne requested 2 shots of tequila from the fans. The fans delivered! Jayne lamented that Lou Reed might hear of it. I guess they attend the same AA meetings. There was an element of memorial to the song but Jayne moved it on to tribute. In fact, you could say, it was a weird Holy Ghosty Hoot-n-nanny Hoedown salute! Jayne was laying it out with praise Jesus’ and a Hallelujahs. These were accompanied within the same breath the fucks and shits. At this point it confirmed to me he was from the south. Jayne’s tribute was a mind bending juxtaposition of sacred and profane, mixing in a strong dose of cognitive dissonance: a brain twister and a mental meltdown. Everyone in the room was loving it, including myself! He called out to all the ex-patriots from New York City. Those who frequented Max’s Kansas City to come forward and join him up on the stage. It was glorious as they all struggled through he crowd and mounted the stage to sing along with Jayne. All survivors and all so radiant in the stage spot lights. All beaming! It was a moving moment as they gathered together on stage. Jayne by my account is one of the most emotive performers I’ve ever witnessed. The song Fuck Off! closed out her show. The song is still a bit bracing for most folks now. But you can imagine how well it must have been received back in 1977 when it was first offered. The fans were eating it up! After several opportunities offered to us by Jayne to Fuck Off! she, encouraged everyone in the room to sing-a-long. It wasn’t long till everyone was involved. So the end of the evening was a contagious performance by Jayne and the Electric Chairs having everyone at the Viper Room sending salutations out to the world with a hardy Fuck off!

08
Jul
12

The International Swingers: Came Out Swinging and Alexandra Lee Gave The Boys Something to Talk About!

A message slipped in my inbox quietly form my friend Dawn Laureen. But the news in it was explosive! Reading it, it appeared that a group of musicians had gotten together with historic pedegree to synthesize a mega group. The International Swingers was their name and the band are composed of Gary Twinn (Supernaut, Speedtwinn), James Stevenson (Generation X, The Cult), Clem Burke (Blondie, The Romantics), Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols, Faces and Iggy Pop). My interest was primed! The show was free to the public; being set in The Farmer Market and it would be the kick off point to their mini tour of Southern California. This coming Friday they arrived with a little less than a weeks notice. I thought what fun! To get to see this pedigree of musicians and of such legendary Rock bands for free at the Historic Farmer’s Market would be explosive. I knew I was in store for some good times! Dawn and Frank would arrive at The Farmer’s Market a little later than myself, while Clem, James, Gary and Glen were already there setting up for the gig. Steve Fishman and his lovely wife were there too. I immediately struck up a conversation that led Steve and I in the direction of where to find some of the finest Pizza in LA. Steve recommended Tony’s Bella Vista in Burbank. He said the deep dish was nothing of consequence and insisted that the thin crust was totally TDF! Soon Dawn and Frank arrived. Frank coming in to support his old band mate, Chem Burke of Blondie. Dawn Laureen and him wanted to be part of the mischief and fun. Who could blame them! For me it was a special treat because I got to meet all the wives. Something you don’t always get to do for most gigs. For some of the ladies it was a bit of a reunion of sorts. I gazed upon them at the right time to catch what’ve must been a long held tradition. A couple of the girls delighted in a hug that is somewhat mischievous and suggestive flashback to the old Rock N’ Roll days. I watched them smoosh and jiggle their boobs against one another, with giggles and titters, with a prankster’s glee, as they acted out something that must have go back decades. It must have started in New York to tease and titillate the boys. It was good fun to see them let their hair down and be silly! It was an indication of the direction the evening was going to take and I liked it!

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It wasn’t long before the The International Swingers were ready to romp and stomp. The crowd was thick and Rock-Steady ready for a surprisingly edgy performance at a generally conservative place. Gary took the lead vocals while the set started off with Out Of Control and for the most part Gary delivered the vocals. They joked and engaged the audience between songs and owned the stage for over an hour and a half while keeping the hits, or should I say the anti-hits-a-commin’! The second song was Blondie’s Hanging On The Telephone. They did a helacious version of “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone”. The introduce an International Swinger’s original called “I like It Both Ways” to general approval. They then plunged into a number of Punk Rock originals with, Generation X’s Dancing With Myself, Blondie’s Call Me , Sex Pistols’ Pretty Vacant, mixed with a cover of Mott The Hoople’s All The Young Dudes. A fun side note to all this carrying on came as I passed to the other side. There was a nicely dressed couple swing dancing to the Sex Pistols’ Pretty Vacant with lots of style and panache. They gayly pranced behind the stage as the band played on. I found it completely appropriate and befitting to any anarchist thinking. It was rather lovely the way it fit in with the mayhem being generated up front. Clem then preformed The Romantics “What I Like About You”. Clem was a member of The Romantics for eleven years. He delivered a credible and solid version of the song. Everyone was singing along to this well crafted Pop song by The Romantics. They metaphorically set the stage on fire and ended the set with a blistering version of God Save the Queen and a riveting cover of Iggy Pop’s No Fun. This all links back to Glen Matlock, a Sex Pistol who had a stent in Iggy’s band. I was speaking with Glen Matlock a week later about God Save The Queen at a NoHo coffee Shop. He mentioned that he was a little bit nervous about playing God Save The Queen at The Farmer’s Market because of what it represented. I let him know that there were nothing but friends and peers at the show. There was nothing to worry about and nothing too shocking for that crowd. This caused me to muse about how greatly The Sex Pistols contributed to my thinking and my love for Punk Rock music to him. I really owe them so much from that insane period of rebillion. Of course, closing the set with Iggy Pop’s No Fun was a complete no brainer. All the old Punkers love Iggy and he was a mainstay to all Punkers. Iggy inspired so many bands to play who have created tons of music we all listen to now that it’s hard to frame a list because of it length of who has dipped into that pool of inspiration. The show was full of energy and powwer to the last bar. It was an amazing show that hit all the bases. At the end I was surprised to see Julian Lennon hanging out with us. The fans leaned out but the core stayed to hang out and catch up with old friends. It was a good scene!

For me the evening wasn’t over. I was bound and determined to see Alexandra and the Starlight Band premier her new Ep at Hotel Cafe. I met Alexandra at SXSW where she and her boyfriend Zackary James played at Miles Davis’ House for its inauguration in Austin. I caught Alexandra once before at her Stone Bar residency. Alexandra has a soulful gritty voice that can be compared to Tina Turner style. I was looking forward her performance at Hotel Cafe that night. It was hard to leave the fun at the Farmer’s Market but adventure awaited on my next stop. I arrived in a timely ready for the action. Another female artist was there. I survived it. Had I not wanted to avoid the crowd of pressing flesh in the parlor area I would have seen both Dave Grohl and Ron Jeremy sipping cocktails. I have an in with Dave and now that I think of it I have an in with Ron too. I dated a girl who was his friend and also who also dated Henry Rollins. Hum, dating what a wonderful social lubricant!

I first saw Zachary and then he saw me. It was a pleasure to see him and that ment that Alexandra was coming up soon. While I waited I chatted up these 2 ladies form Venture and exchanged pertinent info regarding Alexandra and music in general. Julianna Young sat down close to me and we kibitzed a bit from the last time I had seen her at her awesome party a couple of weeks back in the Valley. Alexandra entered the stage pumped and had her war paint on. She sizzled through her set singing her old and new material to a captivated crowd. She’s a Funky Soul Sistah burning with Rock N’ Roll passion burning bright and hot as she slipped up to Zachary playing lead on his guitar in a dirty girl way, while singing on Without My Sunshine. That kept every eye targeted on her every move. Why Didn’t Your Mama Tell You sent the room temperature gauge up a couple notches in the room. About this time Karen came up to the front where we both noticed one another. We shared some quick updates and fine points while Alexandra commanded the stage; stompin’ and preening. Alexandra closed out her set with what was a firecracker of a closer, called T.T.M.F. She was on the stage, all over the stage and down and up on the stage: it was fierce! While she did edit the more vivid words from the song, because her Mother was in the audience, the impact wasn’t any less and the temperature continued to sore. Alexandra delivered the good in spades, badass spades! Karen and I were knocked out. We didn’t see it coming and the photos of those moments tell the whole story. And when she said, “suck my thumb” you could feel the hot iron of rage burning. The folks were up and howling! Alexandra left wanting more and showed everybody how it’s done!

I don’t know if there can be a repeat performance of a night like this but there’s no doubt in my mind that I was treated to some surprisingly brilliant moments and amazing performances that you usually wait weeks apart to snag just one of them. So tieing them neatly together in one night comes as one marvelous unanticipated moment in time. Viva la Rock!

24
Jun
12

Rhett Miller: It Started With A Cup Of Coffee

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It all started out simply and without any expectations. I had been living in Dallas Texas for a few months. I didn’t have any friends and I had recently started work for Macy’s at the Galleria. The surge in people’s interest in  and wanting quality coffee had brought about a boutique coffee shop I found right outside of Macy’s door in the mall. I’m speculating on the resurgence of coffee as a hip cultural thing to do, but I know here in LA, it had started with the Onyx and then expanded with The Pik Me Up.  The fever for a cool place to sip coffee spread across the nation and Dallas was no exception. This was some seven years from that inception in Los Angeles and Dallas was picking up on what had been thrown down. Deep Ellum had exploded with counter-culture fervor providing a crazy scene to support the lifestyle. It was easy for me to blend in because I knew the dialog and the style. I, being an original instigator and provocateur in the movement saw nothing but opportunity on that street. I simply waited for the right moment to leak into that world. Jaime, the girl who served me my morning brew was a very good-looking woman. In the morning we’d have brief exchanges. This habit had continued for a month or two before a defining moment happened. One morning I was complaining about one thing or another when you might say she said the secret password that would set her apart from the run of the mill or the blind and obedient. A word emitted from her mouth that would forever change both directions of out lives. Her response was nothing of particular import till she said the “cathartic” word. Everything stopped right there in a strange suspension, as my mind raced, as if a vast Nietzsche-ist void had appeared for a moment to be deciphered. I said, “Excuse me, what did you just say?” She repeated the statement with the “Cathartic” word in it. From that moment on there was no more polite and light conversation to bide the time to scamper away with my morning coffee. I ask her for her phone number and she wasn’t shy about sharing it. I left that morning filled with hope for a better fortune for my life in Dallas. It wasn’t long that we were out at Trees, Orbit Room (an unofficial Emo’s) or Deep Ellum Bar, maximizing the local energy, while running commentary on that scene. I offered my perspective on what was more or less a rehash of what I’d already done in San Diego and Los Angeles. Revisiting my old ideas for a new group has never stopped me from fulling exploiting an opportunity when it was presented me. So I did it with fervor! She was pretty much my guide to the cool stuff that was going off locally. We became drinking buddies. She introduced me to lots of cool and happening folks that made my life fuller, fun and engaging. Along the way she brought me to a local Pub I can’t remember now on lower Greenville where a national phenomenon was emerging. I would later find out that both of her parents belonged to Mensa. She was a smart lassie! She loved my take on things so much she’d deciphered my expressions for my non-verbal conversation. She pointed out to me one time that she knew when it was going weird by the way I raised my eye right brow. Jaime was an amazing drinking buddy and friend. On one of our forays, I think it was on a Tuesday night, with many Tuesdays to follow, there was cheap beer and cider at this lower Greenville Pub where the Rancero Brothers were the entertainment; two-thirds of the Old 97′s. Of course, the Dallas scene had the built-in infamous The Rev. Horton Heat, The Toadies, REO Speadealer or  Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys. To answer all of your questions: yes, I’ve partied with Jim. Share a beverage or two with Mike and Dave of the Speedealer (REO Speedealer). Yes, I’ve flirted with Ursula, Jimbo’s ex-wife, but I tried not too, sort of…   It was hard not to flirt with Ursula with that hair and those amazing eyes and all those bad-ass tattoos. Never met the Toadies, but I did hang with Big Sandy at a festival and for me the crown of the Dallas experience was getting to see The Old 97′s and Rachero Brothers perform on a regular basis and getting to know Rhett and Murry.

The Old 97′s Dallas popularity was startlingly evident one night when we were at a new brew pub in town. Jaime, Phil and myself were there to celebrate the Wreck Your Life release. I’ve seen a few nutty things in my life, but nothing rivals this unique sighting. We were all standing there in the parking lots after the Old 97′s played to a crowd of hundreds. The biggest showing with the largest crowd I’d ever seen them play at the time. Rhett and crew went out for a meet and greet. Soon each member was sectioned off to chatting camp of their own. Rhett was taking to one or two young ladies when the phenomenon erupted. It was a massive female vortex surrounding him. At the core were was Rhett and girls, surrounded by more women who moved in closer to be further encircled by a churning body of women who were moving in a counter-clockwise manner around them like a hurricane or a whirlpool. It was in awesome and madness of that moment was jaw dropping. We all commented on it. Nothing sense or before has matched that moment in my musical experience when it comes to personality cult of sorts. Rhett was completely obvious to the raging pheromone storm twisting about him. His inert and oblivious lack of interest while focusing on those 2 girls didn’t quell the other women’s fervor, but rather antagonized it intensifying their desires to move in. It was insane with women looking for opportunity to squeeze in, perhaps, maybe for only a brief moment to be bathed in Rhett’s gaze and to be acknowledged. We were flummoxed. It was completely stunning!

From what I remember of the time Exene was a major supporter of the Old 97′s. I couldn’t tell you how she was involved but her name came up a number of times. As time passed, the Old 97′s were on the edge of being signed to a major. They faced a choice between either Mercury or Elektra. We, Rhett, Murry and I, were on the patio of this bar when the topic turned to their signing. I was a big fan of WEA. Steve Tip was reping first IRS records. He then moved to Warner Bros. where he had become a VP of Alternative music. Steve had worked at KCR an edgy college station at SDSU I had connections to. So I had my loyalties. I believed at the time WEA had better distribution. I was pretty lit by the time this conversation opened and maybe the boys were too. I couldn’t tell because I had my beer goggles on. I was a fan and I felt it was my duty to offer them the best advice I knew of based on my experience. I have no idea how persuasive I was but The Old 97′s eventually signed with Elektra.

Time passed and I left Dallas for greener pastors, or so I hoped, back in Los Angeles. Jaime had acquired a boyfriend that wasn’t fond of me. We still communicated for a year or so after I left. My relationship with Julie soured and she disappear into Mexico, while my interest in Monique brought me back to La La Land. The 2 years I spent in Dallas were defining and life changing. I had a marvelous circle of friends and a store of fantastic stories to tell. Somewhere in 99 a brand new and shiny Old 97′s would debuted their new Elektra album Fight Songs at the Troubadour. There was no chance of me missing it! To rekindle an old relationship and see a band that had made Dallas a more exciting place to live in. The terms that were bandied about at the time to describe the Old 97′s, were Country Punk and Alternative Country. The kind of music the Old 97′s played sprung from the well-spring of song writing of old Country hero’s like Jimmie Rogers or Hank Williams Sr. Tuneful crafted songs, brilliant harmonies, story telling, brandished with compelling intimate confessionals and the immediacy of Punk Rock. The night of the Old 97′s performance at the Troubadour was loaded with anticipation for everyone involved. The crowd was dense and on tippy toes, in other words, sold out and riveted!  The Old 97′s played the standards like Doreen, Victoria and Ray Charles.  We all sang along. Every song was greeted with massive applause and cheers. It was like a Texas home-coming in Los Angeles. I was already familiar with Lonely Holiday because it had been played back in the Dallas bar days. It was quite a celebration. After the closing of the set myself and a host of others, including some new acquaintances I had met during the show. That’s how tight the sense of community was with Old 97′s fans were with one another and the band.

We headed up to the upper level over the bar at the Troubadour where everybody in the band eventually joined in. There was general merriment and gabbing. I said hi to Murry and found time to set down and chat with Rhett. Besides his talent, I found another attribute of his I loved. The guy has a great sense of humor. We were talking and he stopped in mid sentence and ask me to look over to my left side. Of course I did! Upon gazing, i saw man who was seriously drunk. There was a couple in the sofa below him watching as the man dipped towards the girl. The man was passing out standing up above the couple. His head bobbing rhymicly, going lower and lower with every dip, into the lady’s scoop neck blouse. This went on for a minute or so when I turned back to Rhett. Rhett looked right at me with a half-smile and said one of the memorable statements of my life, “That’s my boss”. We would peer back to see what was to come of this. Eventually, he passed out on the woman, boyfriend watching, in slow motion debauchery. The man ending up, head first, slumped into her breast for a moment, while finally settling into her crouch. We both laughed. As with all good thing the party ended with great hopes and the anticipation of a band poised on the stardom or so we thought.

I would run into Miriam in 1999 at the 3 of Clubs, while I was having drinks with my friends Greg and Chris near midnight on a Sunday. She had just left her job at MTV 2 and was returning to Dallas. She had told me The Deep Ellum scene had died and was merely a shadow of its former glory. I credited its end to Texas copulating, coupling and child rearing combined with the emergence of Boy Bands and the rise Hip Hop. Miriam was part of a gaggle of gals I was occasionally associated with in Dallas. She was within the circle of the Old 97′s. I guess Miriam had more brains and drive than the others. I believe that she returned to Dallas because things were changing to a point that there was a disconnect at MTV 2 and her own personal sensibilities. Seeing her that night, for the most part, ended any communication with anyone I knew in Texas, as they all disappeared. All going their separate ways. My life became more anchored with my older Los Angeles friendships and blossoming new relationships. Occasionally, I’d see an ad for the Old 97′s and would want to go. But my social life was extremely busy and my attention was nearly always diverted to other activities. I still missed the old 97′s. I missed my Dallas hangs and pals too.

My social/business calendar started including SXSW. That infusion of new social currency from Austin’s SXSW social/musical powerhouse opened the doors to reconnect to my Texas past. As I recounted a number of times in my coverage of 2012′s SXSW, I shared my love and interest in Rhett Miller and the Old 97′s on every occasion I messed one of Rhett’s performances during the festival. With that being said, I emotionally and financially obligated myself to his June show at the Troubadour. While exhaustion always accommodates my wardrobe jobs and I’m busy working now. That exhaustion tried to rally against the greater goal of seeing Rhett. I was able to make it to his Monday night performance at the Troubadour. On Monday I parked my car across the street from the Troubadour. Then after securing my photo pass at the Troubadour I parked myself at Dan Tana’s for a couple prep beers. That tied up an hour. I then headed over tot the Troubadour for the opening act Spring Standards. The band was fronted by a lovely red-headed girl named Heather Robb. Spring Standards sound was a mix of Pop and Country with a lot of focus on harmonies. They presented a compelling set where members of the band would switch out instruments. Heather was spritely in nature with voluminous hair shaking and energetic jumping around. They were a good warm up band for Rhett. I took the lazy man’s way out and settled behind the bar facing the stage to made quick friends of the bar tender who was pleasant and attentive. Rhett and crew entered the stage from my left and with a big joyful introduction slammed into the set. He and the band lit into it up with Lost Without You off his 5th solo and new CD, The Dreamer . Rhett must have gone to Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Shake it all over” school. I remember he moved around on stage but this was different. He was like Elvis on steroids as his energized fans were with him all the way. Soon he was intruding the song Murder (or a Heart Attack) that effortlessly flowed into another of his new songs, Long Long Long, that stumbled into Firefly, then to fall into Lonely Holiday. Heather Robb came in for three of the songs with supporting harmonies and equal energy. For the most part I was up and down throughout most of the set. By the time Lonely Holiday came about I was setting there soaking up the songs. It’s been some 13 years or so from the last live performance I had seen. I was totally engaged with every move and every note. I had no idea that this was coming, while listening to Lonely Holiday, I started getting misty eyed and sentimental. I’m generally not easily moved. But I guess all my sence memories came flooding back of the women in my life coupled with the years of Texas frolicking. This all mixed with the power of the lyrics ringing so true about the overly mellow dramatic elements and the dynamics of intimate relationships. Rhett had so smartly penned the song that it gotten under my skin with overwhelming and marvelous effect. The guy has amazing talent and his songs ring so true with immediate impact. I was slain right there at the bar with puffy watery eyes trying to put on a brave face. From there he played the more uplifting and naive 19. He closed the set with Four Leaf Clover. Of course, the crowd was howling for more and everyone held their place waiting for the encore. Not a single soul was disappointed when Rhett and the Serial Lady Killers positioned themselves on the stage once more. I was glad to get one last dose of fine songwriting form exemplary tune smithing. For me, the surprise of the encore was a Country/Electric Folk reinterpretation of Jimi Hendrix’s Manic Depression kept all eyes and ears focused on the stage. The generous encore was finished with Our Love. That properly finishing the night off with great music and entertainment. There wasn’t a moment that Rhett wasn’t totally on his game and equally drenched perspiration soaking through his cloths. James Brown has some competition! It proves to me after all these years Rhett hasn’t relented in the quality of his shows. The standard remains high and powered by a maturity and focus in his performance unmatched by his early days. Here’s an artist that grown to fill some big musical shoes and we’ve all benefited by that intensity and devotion. Here’s to many more years of amazing performances!

For those who missed Rhett Miller’s performance it appears that the Old 97′s just announced that they’re going to do two shows in L.A. in honor of the 15th anniversary of Too Far to Care. Aug 31st and Sept. 1st at the El Rey. The Darlins will be opening for them. I have to thank Kim for the tidy tidbit of news to kick off the fall season.

31
May
12

Silverlake Jubilee: In the Mean times…

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I’ve had my head in a period wardrobe piece I’m working on but I needed to land in reality in time for this year’s Silverlake Jubilee.  I was looking forward to some notable moments from bands like Autolux, JJAMZ, Kinky and Abe Vigoda. I had gotten a text from Karen and she was in. This 3-year-old festival has a bit of a hit and miss history. For me the first year was the best. Parking at El Cid nesting like a vampire during the bright hot part of the day to quickly run out to snag a band and watch Hipster’s grill in the beer gardens are all worthy reasons to tip toe out for a few. After SXSW my threshold of expectation for entertainment has hit a certain level. I think of Jubilee as a nice distraction but not a taste maker or a cultural definer. As new business owner and promoters struggle over what is a small piece of the Silverlake pie they become more menace to the community than friend. It’s as if they had struck the mother lode, much like in the movie “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” with a equally sinister destination the movie takes us. You get to see small-minded people greedily pulling out the long knives to cut out a piece of pie for themselves. In the grand sceme of things it wont be worth the struggle, but people will get hurt. As a producer from E! network pointed out one time to me, who originally hailed for New York, it’s the new Beverly Hills! We’ll have a frenzy of those who want to make money at everyone’s elses expense, while displacing the locals all at the same time. It is the true “pioneering spirit” at work, Cowboy vs Native American style. Only, this time it’s the Gays and the Hispanics who will be made to suffer, so the few can stack up a little coin and revise history like a Stalinist crackdown, with their unique point of view, eliminating the real history of gentrification that broke the power of gangs and racism in Silverlake. This year’s music wasn’t curated by Origami as in the past. I can say it wasn’t the buzziest line up of all time. Really, it wasn’t worth $20 a day when compared to last year’s $5 price tag. The promoters naive, I think not, greedy, I think so! And what’s up with all the volunteers, yo!? You charge $20 to the public then pay those people! You can fill in the names here because after one betrays and deride a legendary intitional milestone to Silverlake culture like Sunset Junction, he then finds himself screwed by his pet Politian, QUE?, and now wants to run for city council himself to further his petty ambitions. So after putting the burn to the community at large for a little change and bragging rights, he’s eager to run for political office. There’s some twisty idiocy there for sure! If you’ll betray your wife, then the sky is the limit when it comes to general public! Chrissy Hyde put it best in the song “Tatooed Love Boys“, “another pathetic human interest story… You are that!” Now back to the music at hand from my digression.

Saturday arrived and I wanted to casually drift into Silverlake Jubilee in a DL way. I waited till late afternoon to find my spot on Lucile past Silverlake Plaza. It was perfect! I got the cooler in a good place in the car and cocktailed. After getting my drink on I sauntered down these, oh, so familiar streets, now inhabited with a newer and lower risk averse group of people than it had been when Exene Cervenka had her store You’ve Got Bad Taste in Silverlake that was ran by Keith Morris. Now days there’s no drive bys and you can happily walk down the street of Sunset publically drunk or should I say experienced without the threat of violence. It wasn’t long before I happened upon the Sunset stage after a somewhat lengthy entrance line. I heard a song or two by Catwalk. Yep, you can now know what time I rolled in. Just like old flat top if you check the schedule. It was a mild form of Indie Rock that was neither thought-provoking nor utterly dismal. So I hopped in the area for photogs and snapped of a few and sized up the situation. The real innovation Silverlake Jubilee brought to the arena of festival entertainment is the insightfully place beer gardens placed near the stage. Brilliant! The flaw, no shade or umbrellas. I want to watch my favorite band with a beer in my hand and in the shade, thank you very much! This is where pre-drinking pays off! So I twirled my sweet ass down the lane checking out the ubiquitous and over rated food trucks. It’s a young straight demographic that litters Santa Monica at the nexus of Sunset Junction. My feel of the crowd at this point that there were a lot of ins and outs with not too many staying the whole day. I based that on the foot traffic I saw going in and going out before I set foot past the gates. I wanna be a lifer to any event, but you need to give me a reason to stay. I’m a fan of The Like and saw them perform at last year’s Silverlake Jubilee. I’d already scored the Heatbeat single from the new JJAMZ band fronted by Z Berg and a host of notables for the music scene. They were my pot of gold when I arrived at the Hoover Stage. It the rainbow part of the Junction. The Hoover Stage was the most secure of all the stages. JJAMZ had already occupied the stage when I arrived and JJAMZ were finishing with their set up. I’ve never seen Z, well, so flowy and free with her stage presence. She was wearing a velvety baby doll number with stunning 6 inch gold heels. Both the dress and the heels made her legs look longer, oh, longest. The guys were all properly Indy scruffy and downbeat. So she sexed up the stage mightily and glistened with her bright eyes and big smile. I was trying to figure out what was different from The Like show. obviously, beside the dudes. I realized she could move, she was light on her feet, prancing all over the place because she wasn’t holding a guitar. She could focus solely on her vocals and her moves. JJAMZ started with Do What You Want. By the time Never Enough hit the photogs were out in numbers. By the time Pool Side was crowning the crowd reached it’s max. I found Pool Side a nice languid change of pace, slowing it down in a dreamy way a little before Z banged away at Heatbeat. Z is hilarious: she kept it loose, the band was relaxed enough for all of them to joke around. She was in play mode with her light breezy sexy stage presence. Far different from what she delivered in The Like when they played a year back. JJAMZ is great smart Alt-Pop where Z gets to show off her hellaciously delicious velvety vocals. I’m still fanning myself. I’m sure it was good practice for the JJAMZ’s up coming residency for June at The Satellite.

By this time I had gotten a text from Karen who wanted to cherry pick the festival. I couldn’t blam her because there wasn’t much in the way of good pickin’s. I headed back to Sunset Junction to run into Feather Beard all barefoot and shaggy. I stopped to figure out the freak show potential. Strumming away on his guitar his head encased in some taxidermized vermin, as a cap, with a feathered beard. It’s at moments like this that I no longer wonder how diseases transfer from the animal kingdom to humanity. He looked like the crazed, yet cleaner version of the doctor/shaman character on horse back in the choctaw BAdlands from the Coen Brother’s True Grit. I lingered and then got another text from Karen. She was at Good in the Silverlake Plaza. She saved me from a fate worse than boredom and a quasi-furry minstrel! Honestly, Feather Beard smelled like Tiny Tim. Only, revisited 50 years later. Karen and I met at the front of Good, which had enormously morphed from the mid-century dinner before 2000, a lot like Astro, to a Hipster Micro-Brewery Sports Bar paradise it is today. We were kindly sat down at a front window table where we embarked on our catch up chit-chat, while managing to get deeper in our cups for the festival. The waiter was attractive, not so much to me, but he took a shinning to me. Giving me more “eye” time than Karen. Which I considered unfair to Karen, because he was dolling me up, not her. I’m a dry well of waisted attraction. I mentioned it to Karen, while she was enjoying her man candy moments. I was getting the message from him that it was “Daddy” time. This is a funny to me because I stopped most of my wait staff flirting years ago. Annah who worked at Millie’s and Cirxa was pretty much the last of those shenanigans. I remember how she puckered up for a kiss after her cigarette break behind Cirxa, now Koda Sushi. She had also taunted me earlier because I didn’t enjoy the fruits of heroin. I passed on the lip lock, giving her a peck on the cheek. There was too much looser in this looser friendly cupcake to put some icing on it. So this guy was barking up the wrong tree. But a girl needs a visually arresting waiter. I’ve had my fill of visually arresting waitresses, actresses and models. I’m more about the adventure and getting involved with someone intriguing!

Our adventure started in earnest as we cleared Good and walked by Dangerbird, a little light of Indie magic in the neighborhood, if you don’t consider Epitaph Records down the street. We spoke of the impending doom of Circus Books who will be taking their business online and directly to those who really care. Sad in a way, because where will all the open-minded folks go at 2:30 in the morning for their hand shakes. By this time we we’re penetrating the exterior lines of the festival. That is the free public part of the Silverlake Jubilee that feels really free. It’s as good as free entertainment can get, but it’s free! I ran in to Margaret Wynn designer of Lucky Pup. Margaret was part of the early L.A. Punk scene and the designer that created the very popular print of daggers and skulls that were so often seen on Glam and Punk Rockers during the 80′s. Very much a part of the original Melrose scene that blew up back in the day. Margaret is a true joy to kibitz with. She’s one of my Film Star gossip buddies. I introduced her to Karen. Once we past the gate we headed steadily to the Hoover stage. Past our overly rated food truck friends and the merchandiser: eventually, past the Pepsi marketing truck with mini jumbotron and portable dance stage. Pepsi hopelessly reaching with cans of free diabetes for every one there. About that time chaos rumbled towards us in the form of The Mormons mobile unit. Guitar and Pig amps, bull horn and strap on drum kit came burning towards us. It looked like an anarchist Hari Chrisna meet up because there was hoard of devotees in attendance swirling around The Mormon’s nexus of mayhem. It must have hit “Stage 5″ on the security radar because it wasn’t long before security was wanting to get in on the action. This is where my admiration began. The security guy went for some direct action with Vince getting deflected to Patrick, the lead vocalist of The Mormons with his bullhorn. I like to call this the Mormon incident. It just sounds right! Security did security stuff to Patrick and the band played on. Security got meaner and Patrick sang on. You could see how security just wanted to beat the fuck out of them, but… but… but… There were 40 cameras on them and the band played on! The was video and photos taken for every angle and the band played on. Something tells me they were playing their song Shit Eater. This went on for 10 minutes till they had summoned the real police Tri-scooter thingies. But the band continued to finish their song despite all the fake smiles from security and smoldering vigilante violence you could read on security’s faces. After that I needed a smoke, metaphorically speaking. From there on out IO was hooked. I was going to definitely see The Mormons at the Eagle the next day!

Once the flame of disobedience was extinguished by the MAN we heard Autolux tune up to our left. There was around 1,000 folks there. Nothing like the 8,000 for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at Sunset Junction in 2010. The Hoover area is small and space around the stage was precious. Karen and I squeezed in at the right of the stage. People weren’t in the giving mood, so we remained there inching forward towards stage as the show progressed. It didn’t take very long for me to distill they were influenced by post No-Wave sound of Sonic Youth with a dash of early Gang Of Four. A richer more lush with a tuneful approach but the style was evident in song after song. The songs are very conceptual with a dreamy hallucinogenic quality about them. Their stage presences is that of musicians and artist, not really entertainers. They deliver the goods with the penetrating sound of their music not with stage antics. They are very much a “Head” thing. You can view and even listen to the set list of Autolux performance at Silverlake Jubilee at Setlist.fm. My favorites were Plantlife, Turnstile Blues, Robot in the Garden and the pulsing Headless Sky. The crowd remained transfixed during the whole show. It was all very cool and we held on to the last. Our next and last stop for the evening was catching Kinky mid-set on the Sunset stage. The crowd was thick,  jumping and dancing as we pulled up in front of the sound board. Kinky had a similar band configuration as my friend Luis Güereña’s band Tijuana No, with the exception of Kinky having an accordion. They had nutty energy with members here and there all over the stage. Unlike Tijuana No, Kinky were more dance oriented and not influenced by the Clash as Tijuana No had been. Kinky is far less political than Tijauna No or Molotov in this arena of music. But they do have a political perspective because the second song we heard was Wall Of Voodoo’s Mexican Radio. They did a great version that pumped out the bass throughing the fans into a frenzy! It was louder than any performance I’ve heard by Wall Of Voodoo doing Mexican Radio and much bassier ta’boot! They finished up the Saturday’s line up with one last song that blew up the fans. They were a full on party band and well worth it!  We were quick to exit because I had another big day in front of me as did Karen. We continued to chat as we walked back to our cars. We were pleased to have caught some good and memorable performances from some very talented bands.

08
May
12

I stumbled In On Slow Motion Addict to find Myself in the Middle of Tigermending

I stumbled upon Carina Round through an invitation from my friend Karen Sundell. She was partnering with Heidi Margot Richman for Carina’s EPK and showcase at Bordello’s for the release of Slowmotion Addict. I had come from Helms Bakery in Culver City in a sustained rush to capture this moment with this raven haired beauty with a bob hair cut, knit cap and Flapper-ish inspired gear holding the stage down with presence, grace and rare talent. I walked in ready to capture the moment with my new smart phone with snippets of low quality video and photos. Carina was crooning Downslow, a mix of Betty Boop, Mazzy Star and PJ Harvey. I was a smitten kitten! Soon, I was huddled near Karen and Heidi while we all riffed on her sound. Bordello’s provided an intimate environment for this showcase/press junket/debut of Carina’s latest work, Slow Motion Addict. Lina Lecaro from the LA Weekly was in attendance with whoever represented The LA Times and People Magazine. There were yummy treats and delicious beverages provided making the event special and chic. After a polished lively set from Carina and crew, they joined us. Her, they and we were chumming about and we were all offered introductions to one another that was then followed by a video interview of Carina by Karen and Heidi for her EPK. She was a complete doll: all bright eyed and lively; so very excited for her new release. I have to say I became a fan!

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Over the last 5 years Carina has taken up roots here in Los Angeles to establish herself as a force in the Singer Songwriter genre. She regularly sells out Hotel Cafe. She hooked up with Maynard Keenan of Tool to become a foundational part of Puscifer‘s sound. At the same time she found time to release an EP called Things You Should Know. To add to it all this she formed an Alternative Country band with Justin Rutledge, Dan Burns and Zac Rae called Early Winter. So it appears with that much talent she finds herself with many fingers into lots of different pies!

Carina has effectively grown, morphed and recreated herself to emerged with a new sense of maturity and confidence that has delivered to us her new offering, Tigermending. The album is a powerful force that embraces dark and bracing themes with lush dense soundscapes that both challenge and delights the listener. It’s an impressive work that bares repeated listenings to completely grasp the direction and concept driving it. It isn’t as bleak as The Cure‘s Pornography but it is as dense and upon many listenings Tigermending has the effect like The Beat‘s Wha’ppen? had on me when I first encountered it. Both Pornography and Wha’ ppen? were watershed and defining recording that built both bands reprutations.  Both served up powerful driving messages that infect your soul. This is the kind of company Carina Round’s Tigermending finds itself in from many listenings.

With the release of Tigermending Carina wasted no time in bringing her live performance of the new album to those of us here on the west coast before she heads out on the road with Puscifer later this year. I caught her second public show at The Satellite in Silverlake. She had a show the night before in my old stomping grounds in San Diego at The Casbah. This night she was accompanied by Sam Stewart, son of Dave Stewart & Siobhan Fahey, and Claire Acey, both of Nightmare and the Cat, singer/songwriter Sierra Swan is the daughter the singer/songwriter Billy Swan, Matt McJunkins of A Perfect Circle and Zack Rae Keyboardist for Gnarls Barkley and Alanis Morisette. It was quite a stunning group of talent in one intimate club! This all explained the line I found outside The Satellite at 9PM. Not customarily the time for lines start outside this club in Silverlake.

The night kicked off with High Duchess a two piece in the mold of The White Stripes laid out a solid opening set. Then they were followed by the keyboard rich Anna Wayland, who is reminiscent of a more emotionally charged variation of Berlin who beefed up the crowd with their own fan base. Aaron Lariviere of Walking Sleep jump started my brain with the Berlin reference.  Then the room changed dramatically as both Matt McJunkins and Billy Howerdel of A Perfect Circle who acoustically preformed two songs as Child or The Child, before Carina and her band occupied the stage. The crowd was mesmerized in a static formation for this short set. The set was so short that I couldn’t weasel my way in for a good shot. After all I was there for a riveting performance of Tigermending.

It wasn’t long before Carina took the stage with the above mentioned indeviduals taking their spots to light into the new album. She started with, what I consider the bracing, Pick Up The Phone. I believe these feelings I have are generated by the many times I expected to get one of those unexpected “Pick Up The Phone” messages through out my life. Soon, her song The Last Time found it place on stage with the entry of Sierra Swan, who joined Claire Acey on backing vocals for this song only. Both songs are mid-tempo numbers with dryly treated lead vocals. But The Last Time connects on some level using influences from Maynard Keenan in its drive and rhythm. Likely, a gift picked up by working with Maynard. The interlude drops from the original theme musically, near the end of the song, where you find youself swirling in Sierra Swan and Claire Acey’s backing vocals. The sound of these women conjures up the ghostly feelings you get when listening to The Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Choir. That 30 seconds adds immense magic to the song before you’re hurdle back to earth, to be picked up by the mid-tempo drive the drums and bass provides bringing you back to the song’s course, then landing you effortlessly at the end. Carina pick you up once again Girl and the Ghost. I with found that Girl and the Ghost was vastly more optimistic and youthfully engaging structually, closer to fanciful, whimsical and boldly day dreamy, with a hint of pathos as it draws you in firing up the imagination. Mind you, the fans were focused and intrenched by this time. They had their spots and I was trying to find mine. Set Fire created a distant woeful feel combined with say, a quasi prophetic/psychedelic Siouxie and the Banshees aire to the song ala Kaleidescope. By this time I was able to push to the deepest part of the crowd where I wound up close to stage center. Weird Dream is oddly funky and arty in that David Bowie way, of say, Yassassin or Red Sails. The crowd was tightening as Carina and the band were finishing the set with The Secret Of Drowning. The Secret Of Drowning reminds me of being engulfed murky blue shades that are forced open with Carina’s vocal driving through opacity like  shards and shafts of light pouring around the listeners ears, who were  at this moment all were transfixed in those moments adding us a soft landing to the set. Soon the show came to its end. Carina’s fans at this sold out show responded with cheers and whistles as all from the stage filed quietly to the back room of The Satellite. And while the show was over there was plenty of time for everyone there to drop by, say hi and get a hug from Carina. I sauntered to the  table in the back for the meet and greet. I wanted to say hi and wish Carina my best. We shared a few laughs but I was a wee bit on the tired side, so I didn’t linger. It was a riveting show with some of the most talented musician in Los Angeles. Carina was completely on her game for this show! I can say from all the shows I’ve witnessed I can tell she has a new command and presence I haven’t seen before. She leaves you overwhelmed and transfixed. Carina is no longer playing the Pop music game, but she’s decided to gift her fans with an experience. It’s a fortunate incident for any and all who have a chance to witness it. Carina will be touring throughout the summer. You’ll all have your chance to witness the phenomenon for yourselves.

28
Apr
12

New Yawk Exiles Rumble At Johnny Thunder Tribute at the Satellite

My first encounter with anything remotely associated with the New York Dolls was in the 80′s while I worked background for Janet Cunningham. It was then I met Arthur Kane on the feature of Modern Girls. But Arthor was reserved and distant at the time. I got to know his wife a little better while we were on set. Of course, all us Punk Rock extras were excited he was on set. We were all a buzz because of his presence. The next time I ran into Arthur was at the Troubadour for a gig Dawn Laureen had with her band The Eye Shadows. By that time I had known Frank Infante for a while and the 2 of them were hanging out in the front bar area of the Troubadour. I hadn’t seen Arthur for over a decade so I vaguely recognized him but I thought he was another member of Blondie. Frank politely corrected me and informed me he was Killer Kane of The New York Dolls. Of course, I was impressed! I love the Dolls. We spent some time at the bar, both sober, but that didn’t dampen the good times. Frank was hilarous and Arthor soft spoken and shy. There’s something that is always refreshing, especially in Hollywood, about a New Yorker’s state of mind and point of view. I guess the bad news for everyone involved was that Arthur died within the year of leukemia. It was pretty tragic for a number of reasons. Arthor was the subject of Documentary in med production. He had gotten his life on track. He had been sober for many years where he was getting to a point of sane balance. He’d gone in to diagnose a persistent cold one day and by the next morning had passed away. It’s chilling that someone could go so fast. I informed my friend who was the entertainment editor of the LA Times at that time because I felt it was important news for him to know. So stunning was the news that the editor’s disbelief immediately greeted me with a very suspicious email challenging that information. This dialog endure for 10 more confirmation emails before I handed him over to the source. It was just getting too messy. By the time it was confirmed by the source it had hit the wire. So confirmation was no longer necessary. I guess The LA Times missed a scoop. It was a shock to us all, but it had to be magnified exponentially for those close to him. To get the full story on Arthor Kane you may want to check out the documentary New York Doll.

The word got to me about the The Johnny Thunder Tribute when I ran into Calixto Hernandez of Barrio Tiger at the Harvard and Stone Bar. I was there to soak up the good vibes from Zachary James’ residency that night. Zachary James and the All Seeing Eyes and Alexandra and the Starlight Band were sharing a residancy at the Stone Bar for the month April. Calixto hammered down the DL that Barrio Tiger would opening for New York Exiles for  the Johnny Thunder Tribute at The Satellite the following week. I got a big ole fat metaphoric hard-on at the prospect of seeing some of my most favorite musicians: Fank Infante, Steve Fishman and Clem Burke. This round they’re calling themselves New York Exiles. I was counting the days!

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Saturday approached and I was more than ready to make the scene at The Satellite. I hadn’t been to The Satellite since the Christmas Party. I was wanting to get back to one of my favorite haunts. Spaceland, now The Satellite, has been known as a mainstay of alternative culture in Silverlake forever. From what I can remember it had already been the place to be as far back as 94′. This is not taking in account the years of ramp up that got the word out all the way down to the OC and the record label I worked at the time. On one of my early visits I ran into Ronnie Barnett from The Muffs. I knew if Ronnie was at Spaceland the place was cool. So you can say it was a long strange trip that got me to the club for the Johnny Thunder Tribute. I arrived in high spirits while the Neurotics were breaking down and the Crazy Squeeze was soon to hit the stage. It wasn’t long before I saw that Steve Fishman arrived. He had to get settled and so did I. Shortly, Steve strolled by and we had a moment to recount what had transpired over the last few months. Our mutual friend and former guitarist for Carina Round, Tom Livemore, had been playing with a Dubstep ensemble back in Britain. Hugh Cornwell had returned to England after recording his new album Totem & Taboo that was produced by Steve Albini. Wow-we-wow-we-wow! That’s some damn good news. I will digress because Hugh, one of my musical heroes, has a piping hot new release called Totem & Taboo. There’s no set date for Totem & Taboo release but you can hear 2 of the new songs by clicking on this Totem & Taboo link. Produced by Steve Albini, both Steve Fishman and Clem Burke are part of this project. From what I’m listening to it’s going to rock your panties off! Crazy Squeeze ramped up the volume and Steve once again had to be off to kibitz with Frank and Clem.

Crazy Squeeze started their set delivering a dirty version of New York influence Punk with the most manic activity from Frankie Delmane who dropped to his knees, lunged and virtually rolled while playing his guitar. Frankie was like Guitar Hero extreme, while Johnny Sleeper ruthlessly pounded the skins. Johnny Witmer kept all eyes to the front as he jaunted about the stage and powered into every vocals. As these things do they blew in, they blew up and then they blew out.

Dawn Laureen arrived near the end of their set. It was a pleasure to see Dawn Laureen after all these months. As a photographer, Dawn Laureen has caught some of the most notable of music artist in the act with her camera that include the likes of Iggy Pop and David Bowie, among many others. We started a dialog that would continue off and on through most of the night. Frank came up and then they were both off to the back room behind the stage. I headed back to the former smoking area (RIP) where so many naughty things have transpired over the years. The star sightings and peep show activities mixed with gallons of beer and booze has made the room an epic hang for over a decade. Richie Ramone put forth a formidable set driving the beat and hitting all the bases. The crowd responded with enthusiasm for what I thought was a short set. It wasn’t long before Motorcycle Boy headed by Francois occupied the stage delivering the grit and the passion. I’ve seen Motorcycle Boy many times. That means in the early day till now. My most memorable moment was with Francois at Goldfingers next to Pla Boy Liquor in Hollywood. I was re-introduced to Francois after many years. The most stunning element of our meeting was his holding my hand in a “shake” position for some 15 minutes. It was the longest hand shake I’ve ever had in my whole life. I like a hand shake that lasts, say 15 seconds. So this meeting wore thin quickly! He held my hand longer than Nikki Sixx did backstage at the Greek for Duran Duran. So there’s no more hand shaking for those guys! Beside that, Francois served some good up stuff and the tune that resonated the most for me and I’d say for a few folks was the snappy “I Hate The Sunset Strip”. Motorcycle Boy had properly warmed up the crowd for New York Exiles.

Guess what?! New Yawk Exiles were up next in their Rock Star splendor with snappy gear thrilling everyone in the room. The room pressed to the front as Frank, Steve and Clem filled the stage. I was at the opposite side of the stage of Dawn who was manning the area nearest Frank, while Steve was nearest me. They started off the set with In Cold Blood. A little later NYE crawled up on Born To lose that revved up the fans. The ladies liked to move it about to I Wanna Be Loved. Then came a pause where Clem took center stage. As the opener to It’s Not Enough. Clem dedicated the song to Johnny Thunder and all those who hadn’t made it with a rousing statement for those who raged and who had burned ever so brightly. This brought back a memory where Clem was particularly serious and thoughtful. The most serious drummer I’ve ever met. The back story to illuminte this moment and as a reference to his gravitas would be the time we were all hanging together at El Cholo riffing and telling stories. Most of the time I’m all ears because the stories are always amazing. But I had this thought on my mind for years. I really wanted an answer from someone who was there. So I popped the question out to the guys regarding James White of the No Wave scene in New York. Basicly or the jest of my quires was, “Why did James White come out with so many albums on ZE Records in the late 70′s?” Clem slam dunked it with what I, and I’m paraphrasing here, as he illuminated the subject with his thoughts: He’s a junky. Often when a musician has a need for more dope the best solution is to come out with another album or another project. Look at Nick Cave and how prolific he’s been. I was dumbstruck at such a succinct keenly insightful analysis. Returning from that memory to Clem as he was speaking from the stage of the Satellite this night. He offered a passionate non-judgmental statement honoring these wondrous and wayward souls who have left us. Clem then remarked we are the survivors! Then without hesitation Clem hammered on the drum and slammed out the vocals to “It Not Enough”. It was one of the most powerful moments to the whole evening! Jet Boy was next to keep the fans swinging. And if that wasn’t enough they soon lit into David Bowies and Iggy Pop’s Funtime. The room was going nutty! I think they were exploiting the thin brown line that ran as a theme throughout the whole set. What a great way to close the night out! There was nothing left but satisfaction as we all drifted to the back room to hang out and spin a few more yarns. This was the third annual Tribute to Johnny Thunder at the Satellite and was put together by Roy Morgan of the Neurotics at The Satellite. It set the bar high for next year. Let’s hope for another barn burner!

17
Apr
12

J Devil Spins A Top The Cahuenga Corridor At Dim Mak Studios

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Let ‘s saunter down memory lane for a little history of the Cahuenga corridor as I move to my story of J. Devil‘s DJ set and KoЯn’s The Path To Totality listening party. My mind glides to the dark part on Ivar where an old brick warehouse, now known at Space 15 Twenty, was used by Taime Downe of Faster Pussycat and Ricky Rachtman, both put together this badass party full of Rockers and Scensters of the period, that included Motley Crew and members of the Pandoras. In a secret room the members of the Crew were sticking to the Porn Stars while those on the outside sucked down booze from the bar. I remember stealing a bottle of Tequila, I was essentially caught, but I owned it and walked away with the spirit of giving bouncing around in my head. The Tequila proved a little strong for me after a recent incident where Tex of Tex and the Horseheads challenged or taunted me into downing a fifth of “Takillya” leading to me vomiting and passing out on the floor of my Hollywood apartment. In the course of the night’s events I ran into Melanie Vammen of the Pandoras and passed it on to her, much to her glee! You could say that’s my first blurry night in the Cahuenga corridor. At this time and for many years to come the Cahuenga corridor was a dangerous drug soaked area with potential crime at every corner. Making it perfect for an underground music scene to flourish!

Upon my return to Los Angeles in the nineties I found myself once more in this uneasy neighborhood on Cosmo, Ivar and Cahuenga. I believe at the time Josh and Solomon were calling their club Gas Light and then the Opium Den. Many a night had gone well but on this one occasion outside Gas Light these girls pissed off this trucker with some red neck comments. He then threatened to shoot us. He went to the cab of his Simi-truck to fetch his gun. In no time he was brandishing it with his own insult towards us. He was easily in our view, gun swinging, near the front of the truck. I advised all in attendance to move on. That was my last night there for some time to come. I didn’t visit the area for another 5 years. By this time Cosmo had expanded and the neighborhood generally safer. That night Perry Farrel was doing a solo performance in the grand room behind Cosmo or the front that was exposed to Ivar that is now known as The Ivar. This night the freaks were out! I had my Moroccan henna tatoo I had picked up in Venice Beach the day before still dwelling on my arm. A true sign of the times. As I stood in the crowd waiting for Perry to hit the stage this woman passed me. It was a tight squeeze. This woman made a point to run her hand firmly across my chest, cruising my nipples. When she was in direct contact with me, face to face, she made a number of lude sexually charged comments to me, while allowing me feel every inch of her body, as she slowly squeezed by. Funny, I was in love with a Texas girl, named Julie, who introduced me to KoЯn while I lived in Dallas. The KoЯn show was in late 94 in Deep Ellum. I called her this night in 97 after Perry’s show because she loved Jane’s Addiction. We used to hold hands and sing “Jane Says”, walking in the cool evenings on the streets of Deep Ellum. So this woman’s pass at me was more irritating than satisfying at the time. Although, it registered on my perv meter strongly as pretty pervy.

Other events that occurred at the Cosmo would have been the time this guy was hitting on Linda Perry, next to me, as we huddled close together in a conversation on the stair steps, ha! In the course of our conversation he offered to us both some lines in the bathroom from his bindle of coke. That was a high moment of hilarity! Linda is gay and sober. I was sober at the too. Another time I saw Bernie Taupin‘s Farm Dogs. This time Solomon Mansoor of Zen Cowboy opened for Bernie Taupin. That was a special night because I hadn’t seen Solly in tens years. It was such an amazing pleasure to have seen him after all those year from the old Shake Shack and Dirt Box days. It was like a family reunion. Zen Cowboy rocked the house too! I was in too much awe of Bernie Taupin to speak to him, a hero of my youth, but I so wanted to say something. It was a marvelous night. There was the time I saw Harry The Dog with Tequila Mockingbird and John X Volaitis (sound engineer for Marilyn Manson) with my friend Irene Liberatore of The Puppies. I was a big fan of the draggon ice sculpture slide that delivered shots of ice cold Jaggermeister sliding directly into my mouth. Then there was the time I was with my posse of Patrick Mata, Sherry, The Slutters of Retail Slut and Roz Williams of Christian Death celebrating Michael Stewart’s release party of a compilation of Bowie covers songs by local Goth Bands. Kommunity FK was one of the bands who covered Bowie‘s “Panic In Detroit“. The back story on the recording had Kommunity FK, Patrick, Sherry, Roy and then myself (I’m not in the band. I’m a band-aid) soaking up 40′s at The Sound Factory and putting on the finishing touches on KFK’s version of Panic In Detroit. I’m on the clap track. The only recording I’ve ever been on with international distribution. Michael Stewart through a slamming party for that CD release with the KFK cover. Nuttiness reigned throughout that night. Before it was all over at Cosmo, someone had been hit on the head with a full bottle of beer, while I ended up on my knees in front of a pay phone in the hall way surrendering to my temporary, yet very demanding, dominatrix. Snaps that was a crazy one at Cosmo that night. Sadly, with in the month Roz Williams of Christian Death committed suicide. Sometime there’s a cost to burning brightly.

The next move came to the Cahuenga corridor when Cinespace and Starshoes dominated the area. Kimberly Browning was Artist In Residence at Cinespace with her Hollywood Shorts program to Cinespace. Stepphen Hauptfuhr was revving up the heat at Star Shoes solidifying what is now known as the Hipster movement. Those were drunky days for me indeed. Lots of open bars and skirt chasen as the area became hipper and safer.

Rounding the corner to this new decade on the Cahuenga corridor, soon after my return from 2012 SXSW, I received a generous invite from Alexandra for a special event at Dim Mak Studios located pretty much where Cinaspace was in dominance in another time. The night was put together by Cornerstone Entertainment and Dim Mak, as listening party for KoЯn’s The Path To Totality. This brought back memories of seeing KoЯn from Deep Ellum many years before in Dallas. Julie was the one who connected me to this show. Julie was more into Metal than I, but I do love me some brunette bobs and quirky ex-Catholic bi girlies. I can’t helps myselfs! Julie filled that bill! It was around the time of KoЯn’s first release. I didn’t know it but I was witnessing the beginning of Nu Metal. There was a lot of buzz around KoЯn then.They were more raw than polished but their show had all the earmarks of a solid band that was on their way. Their fan base was motivated and dedicated as they shook the walls of this small Deep Ellum club and my hearing suffered because of it. I arrived late for the listening party but early for J Devil’s DJ set. I met the 2 Katherines from Cornerstone Entertainment who were generous and gave me The Path To Totality CD. The DJ was spinning in the back room if you entered from Cosmo or the back room if you entered from Hollywood Blvd. In attendance was Mickey Avalon and Randy Mathias of London After Midnight. I drifted after my orignal sizing up of the room to the back area leading to the area of red velvet lounging sofas. I had a brief chit-chat with Alexandra then rested in the mid area watching a young band play Juke Joint inspired Hipster tunes. Then the witching hour rumbled forth as the Dubstep pounded or exploded against the walls and formidably shook the floors of Dim Mak Studios. The introduction was made and J Devil was in the HOUSE! J Devil had a stage presence that appeared to be channeling Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon with his maniacal stance, arms splaid lifted above his head (as if he was in mid cackle) or that of Dr. Morbius studied glare of deep concentration when he was in DJ mode on the wheels of steel. J Devil was mercurial to say the least, as he drove the crowd to a frenzy hitting the mic invoking all to dance or when he was giving a shout out to Steve Aoki. He kept it live! When he wasn’t lighting the turntables (aka Mac Book Pro) on fire from behind, he would charge to the front with the mic in hand keeping the action going and engaging the fans. A pit broke out during a particularly heavy part of the set, endangering me and my camera. It was a hot and sweaty freak zone for all involved. For over an hour as J Devil delivered. You could hear the influences of Skrillex, Excision and Downlink as he worked the Dubstep synthesis of Rock, Hip Hop and Punk. Rolling into 1:30 J Devil was winding things down and sending out the love before he exited the stage. Soon J Devil was passing by me to the back area with the red velvet lounges. Of course, I drifted back to get a few more shots as the evening was ending.  Everyone was cool from Dim Mak and his management. I waited while the man caught a breather after a rigorous set. He removed his J Devil contacts and then cleaned of his J Devil teeth. Taking him from dark musical force to Jonathan Davis singer of  KoЯn. Soon we exchanged pleasantries and he gave me a few moments of his time to pose for photos invoking the Illuminati to keep it witchy after serving some pretty crunchy grooves at Dim Mak Studios. It was a night well spent.

28
Mar
12

Alejandro Escovedo and Friends at the Continental Club: Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

I found myself for the first time in days able to take the morning on a slow start path. My host Mike was up and was kind enough to make coffee for us both. He had hooked me up with a great place to stay and inadvertently introduced me to new friends. We finally had time to get to know one another. Of course we related to one another how crazy Southby is and each of us recounted stories as it related to the previous weeks events. We stumbled upon the topics of Rhett Miller. Mike is a fan and a friend. We concurrently experienced The Old 97′s during the 90′s in Dallas. He remembered and recounted things I had long forgotten as he elaborated on Rhett’s career and talent to me. I could only endorse his sentiments with occasional flurries of my own observation of that time in Dallas. There was a part of me that wished we’d had this conversation 2 days earlier but it was such a good feeling to have this connection right then and there as we traded stories in his living room. It appears that Rhett played his last Austin-ish gig in Willie Nelson‘s cowboy town 40 miles outside Austin. That show would have been a sweet ride! Mike was totally cool and it was really nice to get to visit during the decompression part of SXSW.

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My next move was more exploration. I had Mexican food on my mind. It was the return to the taco theme I had earlier in the week. I cruised South Congress diverting to South 1st Street on a deeper level of exploration to happen upon El Tacorrido. The only Taco joint I know of that has 2 drive thrus. I was smitten! I wanted to use the drive thru but after a bit of a wait and a keen desire to hook up, I settled for the walk up solution. The menu was slightly different form most Tex-Mex feeds and that really drove my curiosity. I ordered a gordito and a breakfast taco. I explained it to my friend Jonas like this: “This taco stand is really different for Mexican food in Texas. I can’t say it’s truly Tex-Mex. I’m having difficulty pin pointing exactly the style but it’s more south and inland. Or in other words it’s not the kind of food you find on the border or made for American taste buds.” I was completely satisfied when I headed over to Bouldin Creek for my morning coffee. I spent a few hours organizing photos on my computer as a way to bide my time before the big send off show.

Soon the hour was upon us and I headed over to pick Karen up and to share a little pre-celebratory happy hour at her hotel. I have to say, I was a bit antsy now knowing how both Mike Mills and Peter Buck were showing for tonight’s performance at The Continental Club. I count myself extremely fortunate that the first year I attended SXSW I was made aware and got to experience Alejandro Escovedo and Friends at The Continental Club. I have Karen to thank for that! It’s a cozy environment and the place is ran well. Now it’s an irresistible tradition. It’s such a great way to say farewell to Austin and SXSW. As we rolled up Alejandro was outside visiting with folks. He’s very approachable and a nice guy. It was nice to be inside The Continental Club where Karen and I turned into fans. Miss Melvis was playing. We enjoyed the show but we considered another Happy Hour moment was in order out at my car. We scored the cups at Zen next door and we were on our way. You could hear the sound of clunking paper cups and a toast if you were close or maybe, just inside the red Ford Focus. It was a nice bottle of red wine. Usually, I’m not so inclined to drink red wine but this was pretty good stuff. We then joyfully returned to the club locked in for the rest of the night.

By the time we returned Jesse Malin of D Generation had taken the stage and was entertaining everyone. I continued my Happy Hour on a little longer by drifting to the back bar that I favor the most. I bumped in to Lenny Kaye as the star-studded event bubbled with a who who’s in the back. Again I moved up front I staked my place near the front when the young musical team called Ghost Wolves started a short and energetic set. Konya on drums/vox and Carley on guitar. They started out their set on each other’s instruments and then flipped after the first song. Karen wasn’t feeling it, but I was kind of feeling it. It was like Loretta Lynn singing for the White Strips. By this time Kimiko had join us. It was good to see her. She’s got a cool way about her. She was representing Rosie Flores who would play later that night. This was her reason to be at The Continental Club on this fine evening. She smartly drifted to the back to await for Rosie appearance. Karen and I were up front when Garland Jeffreys took the stage: I mean he took the stage hostage! This man knows what he’s doing! Photo op after photo-op. I’m not familiar with the man’s material but was I was surprised how much his music sound like early to mid Rolling Stones. He did a riveting version of “? and the Mysterian” 96 Tears. He was one of highlight of the evening: a ball of energy and passion. I drifted to the back as did Karen, eventually, where we sat near the threshold of the door. It was time to cool off from the hot and tightening room. Tommy Stinson was taking the stage, I guess, just fresh from the G&R’s tour. I was drinking beer in the back again. I managed to come up for Barfirld (The Tyrant Of Texas Funk). The brother was funky with ranch fresh Cowboy look. He kept it funky and showed us his James Brown dance, except no leg splits. It was good stuff: comedic and entertaining. Damn good drinking music. So I headed back and drank again. At this point Karen spotted David Fricke, I saw him too, from Rolling Stone at the back door. Before long Kid Congo Powers (The Gun Club and The Cramps) would attach himself to the stage and I was all over that! I’ve been wanting to see Kid Congo for years and tonight it would be consummated. How romantical! Kid Congo spread his freak flag far and wide in the Continental Club as I squeezed to the front to catch his much of anticipated act. The former Cramps alumni kept us all completely entertained. He refered to Lux Interior, no, not Nick Cave, at one point when he said there was visionary who told me, “One day Kid you will have your own band and you’ll call it Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds”. I think his time in the Cramps were well spent because he kept us engaged in much of the same way the Cramps would have had they been there. After Kid Congo left the stage was about the time the lock down happened: no ins or outs! There was some speculation Bruce Springsteen would appear. I now believe it was for Mike Mills and Peter Buck. I headed to the back where I had to say hi to Kid Cango and take a few photos. I mentioned to him that Lux had jumped a couple of rows of people one time at the Spirit Club in San Diego and had tongued me. Then I told him that after that people thought I was pretty cool. That made him laugh. Then when I tweeted it, I found later, he had re-tweeted it on Twitter. I was honored he’d bother to do it and it made me laugh too. Then a little later I spotted Rosie and asked her for a photo or two. Once again I drifted to nostalgia. Rosie was at one time very much part of the LA Rock scene. She was one of the main forces in the Screamin’ Sirens. I know I’ve seen them perform. I think if was at Janice DeSoto’s club or maybe Cat House. But what was on my mind at that moment was the Hollywood Hillbillies. The band had a chicken in it. I loved it at the time. I mentioned Hollywood Hilllbillies to Rosie. Her response to me was she was in that band early on, for 3 weeks. I hadn’t remembered she was in the band. Then she qualified it by saying, “I was in the band before the chicken”. She knew about the chicken! That was a great moment. Only someone in the scene would know that! I chuckled. We finished and I decided to hang towards the back in stalker fashion. I was thinking when Mike and Peter enter I’d spot ‘em. At this point we’d entered the home stretch where Alejandro and the Sensitive Boys played till they closed the place down. It’s always one of the best parts of the whole proceedings. I had seen Lenny Kaye learning the word to a song while leaning up against a car. I know because I ask him. I thought he’d gotten a ticket and he informed me other wise. It must have been one of Neil Young songs because he performed an engaging version “Like a Hurricane”. I found myself singing along to “Like a Hurricane”. Then Rosie Flores was announced and join the fun up on the stage. Rosie sang, “If I Could Only Be With You” and then followed it up with a duet with Alejandro with a her and Dave Alvin wrote together called, “Goodbye Again”. The crowd was enthusiastic and riveted. In this time some how, some way, both Mike and Peter got past me. Strangely, Mike Mills started doing this hula move during the cover of a The Troggs “Love Is All Around”. Peter Buck was channeling Michael Stipe hiding in the back corner when Mike Mills strapped on his bass to lead us in a sing-a-long of “Don’t Go Back to Rockville.” I had waited all night for this moment and was pleased I’d made it. As quickly as they had arrived they departed. I pushed through the crowd to catch them, but poof, they were gone, gone, gone! Sniff! Alejandro finished the set with Waco Brothers member Jon Langford for a rousing version of The Clash‘s “Rock The Casbah”. Karen found me and indicated it was a good to leave. I agreed. It was a long week followed by a long day capped off by many amazing performances. It was now time to take the gold home and prepare for long travel day before us both. Here’s to next year: a bigger better SXSW and going for more Hipster Olympic gold!

26
Mar
12

SXSW: Songwriters, Performance and Super Stars

The morning came quickly, as they do for SXSW. I rose to greet my new roomie Robert Singerman at Mike’s place. After both of us did some organizing and necessary clean up Robert and I headed out to downtown Austin proper on different paths for a similar end. He had a BMI breakfast at the Four Seasons, while I would head to Bouldin Creek Cafe to load up on coffee, breakfast and dump my digital mass in my laptop in prep of Fader Fort’s MyMusicRx charity event. On our way to the Four Seasons our conversation turned to music. Imagine that! Robert is working on a number of projects. One, 88TC88.com, brings translated, approved music titles and distributes these songs for sale on mobile carriers with this international music, which is sold with the lyrics embedded in the media in Mandarin underneath, so the Chinese people can understand the lyrics from various languages. The reverse will happen in the future bringing translated Chinese muisc to an International market. He’s directs the Brasil Music Exchange in North America, a Brazilian Trade Office to increase sales of Brazilian music in the US and Canadian market. Then the conversation turned to Lil Wayne. Robert found Lil Wayne preformance had the same kind of energy as Angelo Moore of Fishbone or HR of Bad Brains. I mentioned I’d photographed HR at Sunset Junction a few years back. Robert asked if he was using. I said I didn’t see a glass pipe. HR was working an arabic camo look that night and he was in fine form for the show. Robert encouraged me to drop by the Cutting Edge Music Showcase at The Victory Bar & Grill later that day. Robert is involved with Eric Cager who’s the founder and Director of The Cutting Edge Music Conference. Robert, himself has been involved with bands we all know like: R.E.M., 10,000 Maniacs, Gypsy Kings, Fela, King Sunny Ade and Smithereens to name a few. This showcase would have an international flavor with an emphasis on NOLA talent. As we rounded the corner on Caesar Chavez that led to the Four Season I agreed to see him later that afternoon to check out the showcase that would prove to be my jumping off point for the days activities.

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I arrived at Bouldin Creek Cafe. Bouldin Creek Cafe is not more that a mile and a half away from the Four Seasons. I came to have coffee in a friendly and cool environment I had discovered through my friend Greg, an Austin native. I soon sent out a text to Karen to see if she was going to be on board for the MyMusicRx brunch at Fader Fort presented by Converse. I was looking forward to the event because it was going to be my first Fader experience. Once I was appropriately jacked up on coffee and finished with my computer activities I, excitedly, scooted over to the MyMusicRx for an open bar brunch. I met Katie, my truly lovely hostess, who was a combination of Nancy Steiner and Dita Demone, two women I adore, who was manning the door and who had put me on the list for MyMusicRx event. About this time I got a text from Karen who had just gotten up and started moving around. She had been up to 4:30am working. She had such a full plate from the previous day she couldn’t possibly make the brunch, but we’d hang out later. I completely understood! MyMusicRx people were smart about presentation at this event. They delivered the Tex-Mex cuisine on nice china and the beverages in the appropriate glasses for our drink of choice. The food was provided by Bon Appetit. The menu consisted of Strube Ranch Barbacoa kolache or the Vital Farm Eggs and Kitchen Pride Mushroom Kolache with a choice of Fiesta Tortias (whole wheat or flour) and either Smoked Hickory Bacon, Vital Farm Eggs and/or Richardson Farms Carnitas. The drinks of choice were Bloody Mary’s or Memosas. I choose the memosas because it make me feel pretty as my strolling beverage and the Strube Ranch Barbacoa Kolache and a Richardson Farms Carnitas with Vital Farm eggs on a whole wheat tortia suited my culinary palate. I repeated the Richardson Farms Carnitas with Vital Farm Eggs on a whole wheat tortia again and had many repeats on the memosas. From there I planted myself near a tall table were I engaged Jorge and a young lady in a toast with our memosas. We continued by making small talk before both bands played. After this I found a comfortable spot in a nice arm chairs where I could take it all in in repose: i.e., shooting photos and videos with ease while in line of the subject matter. All in attendance representing MyMusicRx concern were Rob Stone and Joh Cohen of Fader, Geoff Cottrill of Converse and Regina Ellis of MyMusicRx and Children’s Cancer Association. Rob Stone started off the proceedings by sharing his own story. Rob referencing his own bout with cancer, as a child, brought home the importance of MyMuscRx and Children’s Cancer Association outreach to children suffering with cancer to all there. He tied this in with how music had made a difference in his experience and how he wanted to share music with those suffering and fighting cancer. Regina was next up to explain how MyMusicRx had reached out to over 500,000 kids suffering with chronic illness and cancer out of the 20,000,000 of those currently suffering under those conditions. Regina pointed out how something as simple as purchasing your favorite song from i-Tunes could bring MyMusicRx experience to sick children everywhere. I was impressed by the 500,000 number reached when you take in account how expensive it is to reach out to others in hospitals and communities. I have to say that’s quite an accomplishment! Finally, Jon Cohen wrapped things up nicely by interjecting the importance of people getting involved and acknowledging those who were active in making this happen before he introduced the musical artist LP. From here on out the crowd would mix and would be entertained by both scheduled bands.

LP took the stage, as it were, as a 5 member ensemble. LP is a song writer who had written for such pop artist as Nas, Christina Aguilera, Joe Walsh and Rihanna. At MyMusicRx showcase features a 5 song Ep called, Into The Wild, she’s releasing via Warner Bros. in late April. I picked up her promotional DVD/Ep, while I was there and found it’s rather enjoyable. She pulled up to the mic with electric ukulele is hand, looking like a young Bob Dylan, but she sang with ease and great versatility, while still holding to the singer songwriter tradition. She has a unique and lovely voice. The girl has range! The backing band displayed musicianship I found to be polished, providing a flawless performance for LP. The sound, I guess, wasn’t right because the sound guy kept coming up and getting in the way of the performance, tweaking the sound. It was a solid performance and was perfect for what would be considered early in the day for SXSW. I recorded “Tokyo Sunrise” and I have included it as part of my article so you can discover the music for yourselves. After a short break and a brief introduction Yawn took the stage and introduced us all to their sound. A quick riff on what their sound is like would reference Vampire Weekend or Sigur Ros. This Indie Rock group has opened for the Kooks too. They provided naive sing-a-long harmonies, calypso rhythms in this percussive pop that lightened the room’s mood and made the room flow. They made networking an easy task with their marvelous soundtrack. We all eased in to more drinking and light socializing as the band played on. MyMusicRx brought together a great combination of purpose and music for a wondrous day starter for Friday’s SXSW experience. I went away ready for more fun and looking for more great entertainment.

My next hit was the Front Gate Morning After Party. I was off to South Congress again. Street parking was at a premium yet I found a spot a block and a half away. The party was being held in a parking lot. I negotiated the entrance, passed the stage where J Roddy Walston & the Business were setting up to find the open bar to continue my mamosa bender. Strangely, I wasn’t getting much of a buzz, except from awesome bands I was seeing play. More tacos too as I bellied up to the food line facing the stage. J Roddy Walston & the Business laid down the Bluesy uptempo Rock. While J Roddy Walston & the Business was too straight ahead for my taste the crowd, women closest, were relating strongly and the ladies were very much enthralled. All those boys had beautiful heads of hair: so we had a combination of hair lust/envy from the ladies as J Roddy Walston & the Business collectively waved their freak flag under the partly cloudy afternoon light. They would make a perfect Texas brisket and BBQ party band and I have to say they were! All of this allowed me to focus on my drinking. I focused on it for about an hour before I made my way once again to The Victory Bar & Grill for the Cutting Edge Music event Robert had invited me to. It so happened that my arrival at the Cutting Edge Music event, produced by Eric Cager, was happening in the back stage area I come to know the Day before for Miles Davis House. It was there that Robert spotted me first. He was feeling a little more uptempo from our early morning visit after he had the pleasure of a couple beers, as we all do at SXSW. By this time I was mildly buzzed and full. Robert offered me the Crawfish Monica and we continued to talk music. Robert pointed out that the city of New Orleans was hosting and supplying some of the talent of the event. Drastik (Truth Universal) was owning the stage with his NOLA style rhyme, while we were visiting. He had turned me on to Jerry Lindqvist earlier on our ride to the Four Seasons. Robert was kind enough to introduce me to a bunch of talented musicians that included Tiffany Shea, Ashley Fayth and Nanna Larsen as part of the International Songwriters Tour. He introduce me to Tony Moore who is the songwriter/producer and Zebra-man, who sets up a great singer-songwriter showcase every year in New Orleans, as well as in SXSW and books a great London venue too. I saw Tony play with a young and talented female singer before I headed out. He introduced me to Tiffany Shea first and from that point on she and I continued to talk off and on for as long as we could before they all headed out to their next gig and my slated arrival to see Rhett Miller. I discovered she was a fan of Rhett Miller too. So I decide that it would be a good idea to shoot her and her compatriots too. She was touring with them all and they were also staying with her in Nashville. By the way, this continued the theme of singer song writers started earlier in the day. I went for the fade to catch Rhett and while Robert was really engaged with a couple of folks I simply had to go. I wanted to make Rhett’s gig if at all possible.

The powerful parking gods was and were favoring me throughout my SXSW adventure. Free parking abounded and I locked in a spot 3 blocks from Sixth Street. As I move towards my mission to see Rhett Miller I crossed the second block where there was this long line. I figured that no line would be this long without a reason. So I inquired. I was told it was the Google Parking Lot Stage featuring artist like Jimmy Cliff and The Shins. They were at this moment letting non-badge holders in because the crowds were too thin. Snaps, my plans changed instantly. I love Rhett but I’ve never seen The Shins or Jimmy Cliff. The line was quick too. Before long I was sucking on cheap bad beer and downing energy drinks. Jimmy Cliff had a small ensemble with a drummer, himself and another fellow on guitar. I wasn’t feeling the raga drop or that I was in the midst of Reggae history being made right before my eyes. I’ve met the big boys of Reggae, that is Sly and Robbie many years before and they rang my bell. This was long before Reggae became a retro thing where Rasta bands covered seventies pop songs to make old white men happy. Back then the songs pinned were filled with stories of social change and revolution. So I didn’t expect that part of my soul to be feed on this afternoon. Jimmy Cliff put together a credible and solid set of his tunes. Jimmy closed out his set with Peter Frampton’s Baby I Love Your Way. It was a crowd pleaser. Black Star followed up while I drank more. I didn’t get interested until I heard Jean Grae bump up the rhyme a notch or two. I drifted down near the stage where I ran into Zachary and Alexandra for a catchup session. I decided to see if I could hook up with some Google jello shots down stairs and that path led me to Jennifer Tefft from The Satellite. After that little run in I returned to Zachary and Alexandra where Vince had popped out from backstage after Black Star’s performance. It was great to see him! Vince, Zachary and Alexandra were headed over the Jack White’s solo Third Man Showcase at The Stage On Sixth Street. Oh. how I wanted to go! I did what I could to weasel in but the crowds and badges prevailed. I knew what a treat they were in for, having seen The Dead Weather in August of 2008 at the Regency Theater in DTLA with a Third Man Records Pop Up Record Store. The Dead Weather killed that day and Jack White was about to kill at The Stage for all involved. I stayed and awaited for The Shins domination of the Google stage. James Mercer was first to move toward to the center of the stage and the crowd was at its maximum. The crowd noise raised in approval upon their arrival. I decide to hold a space to center right or to my left to photograph and video. The Shins keep a long and engaging set fill with catalog favorites such as Caring Is Creepy, Know Your Onion!, So Say I and closing with Phantom Limb. On most of the songs the fan sang along knowing the lyric and the tunes. On more than one occasion and previous to this show I’d mention I was going to catch The Shin. People response would nearly spontaneously as they would say: The Shins sounds just like they do on their albums. As if that were negative or a disappointment. Funny, that used to be the criteria used to know if a band was really any good and/or they were musicians. The Shins, surely, are not a jam band. So knowing the musician you’ve come to see have the proficiency and the ability to deliver on their own songs should carry the balance of their performance. The Shins music is held together with dynamic range, artistry and lyrical content that comes closer to poetry than most Pop music. So with this later definition clarifying performance. The Shins delivered, delivered and delivered!

I left the Google stage to head over to Sixth Street to The Stage On Sixth Street so I could be appropriately disappointed by stacked lines and an overcapacity room. I stood there for a while staring from the outside as if I was a member of an Indonesian cargo cult looking longingly, lustfully on a cargo plane. For the most part I’m not a fan of Sixth Street. It’s too crowded and usually not enough good stuff to keep you hanging on. I was hungry and there was a fast and cheap solution, Hoek’s Death Metal Pizza. Death Metal Pizza has a thriving business. Go there for the pizza and stay for the attitude! It’s the only place I’ve eaten at that’s generated Foursquare comments within minutes of my checking in and then a lengthy full-scale text conversation around the topic lasting nearly an hour. Don’t tell me that Death Metal Pizza doesn’t have some crazy witchy thing going on! Of course, I gobbled down the pizza and almost immediately went into a stupor. Sixth street had nothing for me now, as Jack White faded to the back of my brain. I headed to my digital friendly coffee shop Bouldin Creek Cafe. The idea was to recharge. I spent 2 hours there while transforming photos and videos. I left around midnight to see if I might find an easy score on parking for Rhett Miller’s next to last performance. I did a “drive by” by the Cedar Door Court yard and nary a parking spot to be seen. The heaviness of the day had definitely wore me down and with so many exploits already under my belt I wasn’t compelled to try to cash in on this one. Surely, I’ll see Rhett again. As the city descended deeply into some heavy partying I roll north-east to my digs to be reborn on the morrow once again.

SXSW Flickr Photo Gallery




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