Posts Tagged ‘Dallas

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.

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.




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