Posts Tagged ‘entertainment

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!

17
Aug
12

Chysta Bell: Something In The Way She Moved Brought On A Heat Wave!!!

David Lynch is a prominent figure in the film industry and looms largely in my own sensibilities since the advent of Blue Velvet. Blue Velvet gave me open cause to recant scenes like I would song lyrics, while verbalizing the vivisectioned bodies of dirty little secrets. You know the ones, the ones you’re Mother would have slapped you for when you were a child, a bad child of mischief! She would have endlessly pelted you about your face for such secrets. My first date with the woman who would become my first serious girlfriend revolved around us slapping one another in the face the way Isabella Rossellini had been slapped in the bedroom scene of Blue Velvet. Mind you, it wasn’t in the privacy of my home or an event designed for such play, but at 7969 Santa Monica in the early evening just before Alexis Arquette‘s Aquarium night club was to debut to hordes of anxious local clubers. By the time this visceral mating exchange had ended between myself and Gabriella at 7969. On our way to Aquarium at Oscar’s she thought it was a good idea to propose marriage to me. I accepted. It was a night of hot, hot heat. She finished off her proposal by putting out a lit cigarette on the tender underside of my left forearm and stated, “Don’t cheat on me or I’ll fucking kill you!” Awe, the benefits of a drunken escapade and a good script to lead you through the chaos of budding young love. David Lynch holds a special place in my heart that few have ever trespassed and less likely occupied for offering the inspiration that led to those moments.

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Years later, I would find myself noodling about my Facebook Fan Page extolling my next exploit, which would be shooting The Neville Brothers at the Hollywood Bowl for the LA Beat. After I posted the news a good friend ask me if I would be going to The Bootleg Theater on Thursday. My thoughts were no, but my instincts wanted to know why and yes. So I queried him of this intrigue. He shot back that Chrysta Bell would be performing there and David Lynch would likely be making an appearance. The next comment from Jonas was keep it on the downlow. It didn’t take long for me to suppress the story on my Fan Page to a lower status with a less noisy reference for people to peer on. The following day I shot The Neville Brothers. Bob Lee of LA Beat was good enough to arrange the photo pass and provided me with a seat. I ran into Vince Wilburn Jr. nephew of the late Miles Davis with his lovely fiance Ingrid. He suggested that I should come over for a visit at the intermission. It was a cool night and Vince made it cooler by bringing me back stage to meet everybody and hang out.

On Thursday I was primed and pumped for some witchy twisty ways at The Bootleg Theater. The Bootleg Theater claims to be in Silverlake but the truth be known, it might, barely, maybe be considered to be in Echo Park. It’s kind of like someone claiming to be an original Punk Rocker but has a look ripped form a magazine: a Pop approximation like “Jimbo” rather than Johnny Rotten. I can’t tell if The Fold know what they’re doing by their base and ignorant actions, but I know for sure David and crew do by their smart adaptations to The Bootleg’s environment! For all the secrecy it was apparent when I arrived it wasn’t too much of a secret. The line was 50 to 60 feet long. There were folks who had more urgency than myself, who were eagerly passing me on my way to the end of the line. By the time they were letting people in the line had doubled. I had been texting with Jonas who was on the inside with Director Tammi Sutton and Tim Polecat of the Polecats. Once in the room I felt like the place had changed. It was similar to the previous times I had been there, yet different. I couldn’t put my finger on it. The main room or the room I was ushered into had no stage but a bar. Bars are important to bar but then so are stages for music venues. I soaked it in searching for Jonas. I notice Tim first, then Tammi and then Jonas came into view. I struck up a conversation with Tim since Jonas was chatting up a lady. Tammi chimed in on the layout of the place. I eventually had to rest in the restroom. That’s when I discovered the original room with the stage. A new aspect to the room were the table and chairs. I nested in my chair thinking the show would be in that room. Within the next 20 minutes people filtered in a bit befuddled by the layout. People were gathering behind me in what was an approximation of a line. Jonas, Tim and Tammi scooted from the other area to the room I was occupying. A little timed passed and Jonas who was on his feet came to me and said there another room behind me and us. There was indeed! Soon the door was opened with people crowding through a small short hallway into a more theatrical space with a nicely lit low stage. It was a big room too, easily holding everyone attending. We were some of the first in and we positioned close to where the action was going to happen.

The action started soon. First we saw David coming up from an underground stair case behind the stage. He then easily stepped on to the low stage. He was sharply dress with just the right amount of artist dishevelment: collar loose and open with french cuffs without cuff links, black suit and white shirt. David, was the David we’ve all come to know and love with his quirky studies speech and that particular twinkle in his eyes. That twinkle was a combination of Santa and twisted boyish mischief, akin to Alfred E. Neuman, but wholly owned by David. He properly attended to the mic stating with warm praise and charming mid-century double entendres the enthusiasm he held and wanted to conveyed to us all for his muse and chanteuse, Chrysta Bell. His remarks at times were enveloped by silent anticipation and other time with boyish titers and giggles from the fans. The crowd was primed and poised while hanging on every work till David pronounced the coming of Chrysta Bell. Chrysta Bell took the stage in a lady like fashion. The band follow her as David stepped back in a gentlemanly fashion so as let Chrysta Bell shine on her own. She owned the space and proceeded to fill the in role and the room so effectively provided for her.

This was a music performance, yet, dare I say, far, far more than a musical performance you generally get by an avarage Rock band. Chrysta holds your attention as if you were viewing Bambi, as an innocent doe, but she simmered, she’s a pressure cooker broadcasting sexual mysteries, primal urges with sophisticated twists jarring a boy’s imagination with the ideas of tumult, toys and tools. All that simmering with an introduction and homage to David from Chrysta. Every detail had been attended to as only a movie Director could arranged it. The lighting and the wardrobe felt like a David Lynch set. Reading everyone for an epic voyage. The fact we were ushered through 3 chambers in a procession to Chrysta’s show wasn’t lost on me for building tension and release. Drama surrounded this event from the master’s hand. This was very rare for any contemporary musical event. “Real Love” from This Train, started the set that ratched to song “This Train”, which automatically leads me to think of David’s interest in TM as a  means of healing and inner clarity he seeds through the David Lynch Foundation. Chrysta Bell’s vocal were clear bell-like tones that were rich with depth and carefully executed to a point of perfection. The annunciation closer to operatic vocals sans all the classic history attached to them. She reached for the untouched notes to caress those sound wave-like a mink stole would feel caressed close to the cheek. She reminds me, style wise, of early Cheateau Twins, less etherial and laced with her own earthy richness. Her costuming was wondrous. I’m sure David, being from the film industry, through a magical stylist or designer he’d worked with in the past in her direction. By “Be Bop A Lula”, a Rock classic, ushered in the removal of her high waist corset like fashioned dress was at this point cast aside for something darker. I mean darker as in more of a Dominatrix type of naughtiness. She was dressed down to black panties and bra with sheer black stockings supported by panty clips to hold them up. To make matters worse or better she had these spiked open toed stilettos slithering and dominating the floor. By this time half the room had chubbies. That nice scarf became an instrument of restraint, binding or a noose. No eyes were averted and anticipation of what would happen next keep the fans solidified in her direction. I’ve mention the clothes. I’ve mentioned her vocal treatment and control but I don’t want to leave folks guessing about her body and how she moves it. I was fascinated that she started out as the Holy Mother or the Goddess nurturer/healer then pivoted into balletic body language with posture and striking possess. She surprise me with tantric position of ecstasy and enthralled all with her command of her body as language. All of this progressed into the song “Angel Star” and “Swing With Me”. I have to give kudos to her wardrobe person. The choices made for her had lasted though more than half of the set providing so many moods, from pure to very provocative. She quietly removed herself for a wardrobe change for the finale. As if this was a theatrical performance she returned dressed in a body conscious brown and white evening dress with a classic silhouette of screen siren of mid-century singer. Everyone there was made aware of her womanliness. She was pleased and humbled by the applause and praise alloted her by the audience. She voiced her gratitude in a careflly measured way that was endearing. She finished her set with a perfect Pop song, as she put it, referring to David’s The “Truth is” off of This Train. The place was a pressure cooker for over an hour and she kept it hot, hot, hotter by building in her performance this mighty climax. She was sweet and gracious as she and the band exited the stage leaving us wanting more, more, more!

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.

27
Mar
12

SXSW: Saturday, Rollin Deep and On The Downlow!

I was up earlier because I felt I needed to get more done. Once again, I nested at Bouldin Creek and doodled on my computer, writing my first SXSW blog: SXSW: Tidbits To Tie You Over. I knew that Karen had another busy afternoon putting together the SXSW Tribute to Soul Train hosted by Don’s son Tony Cornelius and NPR’s Dan Charnas with a Q&A to follow. The event included great archival footage, stories & anecdotes of the legendary Host Don Cornelius. I could tell from Karen’s text that she was back on track now she’d had enough rest. The plan was for me to wait at the W at the Nylon party till the Soul Train Tribute had run its course. I knew that this was an important event for a lot of folks. I remember the music and the performances my brother and I would enjoy as teenagers watching Soul Trian. It familiarized us with Black/Afro-American culture in a way we couldn’t receive anywhere else at that time. It expanded my ideas of music and blew my teenage mind to witness all those amazing dance moves. It was an amazing counter-culture experience as compared to American Bandstand, which was my first experience with Pop music from the medium of Television. Soul Train personified the anything goes late 60′s and 70′s in a way few programs did at the time. Don Cornelius allowed it to be a forum of free expression that drove Pop Culture. I was a big Elton John fan and Elton’s performance of Bennie and the Jets was staggering in my youthful eyes. I got to see David Bowie do Golden Years on Soul Train. Yet another mind bending experience. There was The Temptation, The Spinners, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Billy Preston, Ohio Players, Dazz Band among many, many others I experienced through the program. My friend Josh got to go to the first Soul Train awards and many of the proceeding ones from that time on. Soul Train provided me with a foundation that opened me up to other legendary performers like Michael Jackson, Cameo, Bootsy Collins, George Clinton, Grace Jones and Rick James. Rick James being one of my greatest heroes with the Punk Funk!

Form Bouldin Creek I found parking next to Republic Square Park. Again, the powerful parking god found favor for me. I sauntered through the Austin Farmers Market as it was closing down. It was nice to walk through the park and see something that was part of the city’s regular rhythm. I had time and I could take the circuitous route to the W if I wished. Before I settled in to the W I stumbled upon The Ginger Man. Peggy Ellithorpe and the RVIP crowd had beers there earlier in the week and I was curious. It’s a damn nice pub! It’s the closest thing to San Francisco’s Toronado in Austin. I walked inside, where it was dark and cool. It was warm outside so this was a relief. The Blurt Magazine and Dog Fish Head IPA party was in full tilt with Milagres half way through their set in the out-door patio area. I remained inside because I’m a vampire. The band played on as I ordered a pint of a mild IPA and dug the vibe of the place. It’s a place you can get to know people and maybe start friendships. It’s cozy and the pint prices are reasonable. Still I felt the W calling me.

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Once at the W Nylon Party I awaited Karen’s text for her arrival. Okay, so I’m pool side lounging on woven chaise lounge looking at others resting and sunning themselves on other woven chaise lounges. Dance music to my side, a bevy of model types to my right representing Nylon and Guess, while I’m gazing at a well designed pool area with a fascinating glass facade that reaches to the sky. Everything was sun drenched while I was cooling it in the shade. I considered the model types good eye candy but they’re too skinny and potentially vapid to interact with or pursue. I lounged there, people watching, indulging in my much-needed rest. I got a text from Karen letting me know that the Soul Train event was running long. She was being thoughtful and considering I might be getting restless or bored. She was unaware of the stress free bliss that I was experiencing while recharging my batteries at the W. Karen was involved in an important process that should take as much time as needed for people to honor Soul Train and Don’s legacy. Everyone there was wanting to have closure and say goodbye to a man who carved out a little piece of history for everyone. It would be selfish of me to ask for it to turn out any other way. Waiting wasn’t difficult at all. It was an honor for me to wait while people said there goodbyes and honored Don’s memory. I wouldn’t have had it any other way!

Near 4pm I got the heads up! Karen walked up to me in my bliss daze and shook me out of my W Roof Top Pool fantasy land letting me we know we were on the move. Wow, energy was returning to my idle mind. I scooped up a few more photos of the luxury in my kin before I descended into the labyrinth of the W. We played text tag for about 15 minutes when the word came they were all down at Trace restaurant’s patio. I arrived to see all relaxed setting round the table. It was nice to see Erin and Vince again. Much to my surprise Tony Cornelius had join us all after the Soul Train tribute. I locked into my seat and immediately the conversation turned to Jack White’s solo performance the night before. The Black Bells played and Jack had played with a male and a female band: 2 separate bands! Word had it that BP Fallon was consumed and totally Rockin out for the whole show. Erin and Vince were mesmerized by Jack White’s show. We all riffed on what we knew and what we’d seen of Third Man Record’s vertical approach to marketing. I spoke of The Dead Weather‘s free performance and the adjacent Third Man Record Pop Up Store. I was so amazed when I saw people walking out of the store with rare vinyl, special editions and other merch that more than compensated the band for their show. Erin was amazed by the Third Man Record Pop Store he’d seen the night before at The Stage On Sixth Street. The whole package was stunningly brilliant. The idea being bounced around by all of us with our conclusion being that Jack White is an effin genius! Vince referenced Jack White’s commitment to music by bringing up the documentary It Might Get Loud. Vince had to coax me a bit to bring the memory back I had from that documentary. It hit me and then I responded about the scene where Jack was playing this old Lp by Son House “Grinnin In Your Face” which is Jack White’s favorite song. This drove home the point of the power and purity of performance. Vince started referencing all the music that had come from Inglewood Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, tieing it in to what Soul Train had achieved. Soul Train had been connected and influential in projecting and representing Inglewood’s talent that had been spawned there by mainstreaming that community’s range of talent into national prominence. Vince named off some 15 or so groups hailing from Inglewood. I can only remember the Chi-Lites and Kanye West. Tony chimed in agreement. Watching and participating in all of this made realize why they were so curious and innovative in re-inventing Miles catalog. I remember the release of Miles In India, how smart it was as a concept and how cool it sounded. I also remember my reading on Miles in the eighties. Of all the Jazz musicians I listen to I respected his music and his ideas toward to music the most. I loved his persona and attitude towards making music. Listening to Vince and Erin I can see how he infused his ideas into both of them. They’re thoughtful and insightful guys. It was such a pleasure being around that kind of energy. My world was getting rocked!

Somewhere in all of this social heat being generated Kimiko Tokita join us, who is an Austin based marketer and publicist, whose company is called White Crowe. As things began to settle out Kimiko and I had a conversation revolving around entertainment. Kimiko handles David Hidalgo, Louie Pérez and Rosie Flores. I have interest in this because they were all part of the LA Punk scene now living the sweet life in Austin. I also dated Antoinette, a cousin of one of the members of Los Lobos. I feel slightly related. Then out of the blue Tommy Lee and his entourage popped through door to sit close to where we were at on the patio. Karen dropped by to say hi, since she’d worked with Motley Crew in 96′. Tony and I had a very interesting conversation on what contemporary ment. Of course the food had arrived and everyone was snacking while we all to continue to banter about various subjects. Soon to follow was Frankie Banali and Regina Russel. Bringing the Quiet Riot vibe to the patio. Austin can be a small town! It was all so cool and relaxed that more than 2 hours had passed with little effort. The plan now was to roll to the Puma party house. Kimiko was our driver as we all loaded in to the black Navigator. What a great group to go on a gifting adventure. We arrived at the Puma Social House party. For me this was great fun. There was an open a bar and free Puma T-shirt give-away.  We drank and played while the DJ played one the most sexually charged Hip-Hop songs I’ve ever heard. So much so that the lyric became so profoundly explicit that the record got pulled form the turntable with a bump and a scratch. Then this “Smart-Ass” DJ, I like to call him the Smart-Ass DJ, introduce himself, as if we cared, and starts singing while jumping from the stage and jumping around on the grass. A there few were dancing and I found myself laughing my ass at the guys antics. It was nice to let go for a while but then we needed to reel it in and we headed back to the W. From there the group broke up. Karen and I carried by heading Rachael Ray’s VIP House Party at the old Big Red Sun space. There we refreshed our drinkies and really visited. There was a band playing when we got there and to save my soul I can’t figure out who they were. We enjoyed our shots and mixed beverages made of Patron’s Coffee liquor while I bemoaned the loss of my phone. Somewhere along the way I had misplaced my phone. I was having phone separation anxiety. No check ins and cruising the web, no nifty FB post. But it was the loss of the phone that was going to make easy things much more difficult. Once we had destroyed this party. We headed back to the W where I thought I had lost it when I ran into the girl I’d met 2 SXSWs ago. She still remembered me after all that time. I passed on my card and I believe at that moment dropped my phone inside the W arm chair. After checking the W’s front desk I was proved right and received my phone, but not promptly. We were back on the streets again. Hunger had hit again. We saw that PF Chang’s was still open and we thought this was a good place to refuel. PF Chang’s was positioned well to hit the Four Season if we were so inclined. The booze was wearing off and the exhaustion was setting in. The guys reach out to let us know that the Four Season wasn’t going to happen. We enjoyed our food and planned for tomorrows adventure at the Continental Club for Alejandro Escovedo and Friends. We both had a full and exciting day. I couldn’t think of a better way to end it with two good friends sharing a meal.

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