Posts Tagged ‘Funtime

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!

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!




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