Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles

09
Jul
12

Miles Davis: Magic Celebration At The Hollywood Bowl

For some time I’ve been aware that the US Postal service was breaking new ground by issuing a new generation of Forever Stamps which would feature Superstar Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis and French Pop singer Edith Piaf. Karen has been keeping me abreast of the ramping up of this historic event from early on. It’s historic as well because this is one of only a few times France has simultaneously released similar stamps through La Poste. Both artists visages have been immortalized in this co-release. I received my invite to the event at the Hollywood Bowl Museum dedication with a little more than a weeks notice. I had seen the press on the New Your dedication and I was impressed!

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The day arrived and I made a trek I often avoid because of traffic and crowds. Not that I don’t like the Hollywood Bowl, because I do. It’s simply the mechanics of getting there that brings on immense misery. But the pleasure I was to experience overrode my overall consternation. Parking was a bear but I made it and I totally scored! I thought I was there for the dedication only, but there was to be more to this night than I would’ve anticipated. I was able to arrange a parking space where I could leave at anytime. I found the Hollywood Bowl Museum where I successfully discovered the terrace of the museum via the elevator. Upon arriving Joshua Ledet was laying out a soulful version of the National Anthem. While I was up front photographing Ledet, then followed by Bubba Jackson, Erin Davis, was nice enough to call to me quietly to say hi. It was good seeing him. I was excited for Erin, Vince and Cheryl. This is a tremendous honor and such a wonderful situation to celebrate Miles’ artistry amongst celebrities, friends and family. New York’s dedication had such notables as Cicely Tyson and Don Was (Was Not Was and President of Blue Note Records), while the group gathered for this event included Henry Rollins, Robert Trujillo, Herbie Hancock and Marcus Miller. Bubba laid out a nice tribute, Henry drove it home with his personal anecdotal story of his Mother’s love of Miles’ Kind Of Blue, although Miles’ left Henry’s Mother behind or so she felt. Henry joyfully picked Miles right back up. Henry’s introduction to Miles’ art for us this night was filled jabs of passion, insight and praise for Miles’ performances and commitment to the music. This was followed by Marcus Miller’s account of being in Miles’ band. Marcus shared his admiration and influence from his mentor, who both, challenged him and inspired him. In all their accounts you could sence and feel Miles presence: his effect on them, it is a living thing, that was moving and palpable. I could feel the man Miles must have been while hearing these stories and much deserved accolades. I’ve always felt Miles Davis was the real deal, not one to put up with fakes and frauds. Who’s ultimate and singular goal and passion was for the music. So for me to be here and to have it fleshed out right before my own eyes was truly remarkable. I count myself among the very fortunate!

After the proceeding finished I was steadily moving towards the rescue of my car when I ran into Bob Lee of The Los Angeles Beat. Bob was looking for a photographer for the Miles Davis Hollywood Bowl tribute to 3 stellar albums; Kind Of Blue, Bitches Brew and Tutu. I immediately said yes! As the sun was fading I was guided through the VIP area and amongst the other photographers. As I was ushered into the Bowl proper Jimmy Cobb, the last remaining member from Kind Of Blue, was in full tilt and deep into So What. I started snapping away trying to capture the spirit of the event in my photos. I had 15 minutes to shoot from the aisle right behind the last row of boxes. This was a harder shoot than The Wiltern. Yet I manage to get some sparkling moments of the band playing. Waiting for the next performance with Vince Wilburn Jr.’s band playing Bitches Brew I ran into Earl Gibson Jr. He was shooting for Miles Davis’ Estate, grabbing the best moments of the night’s proceedings. We shared a few laughs and it was back to work. Cobb’s band put on an amazing performance of Kind Of Blue when the stage began to move in a circular fashion to my left exposing Vince’s band who lit right into Bitches Brew. From then on till the end of the set I had free reign shooting the band. Vince was brutalizing the skins as this improvisational maelstrom of collaborators who preformed and included: Mino Cinelu, Jackson Blackbyrd McKnight (whom I rode up in the elevator earlier at the museum), Nicholas Payton, Robert Irving III, Badal Royand and DJ Logic. After shooting, shooting and more shooting I took a moment to really take it in. Vince’s band, The Electric Band, brought about a moment of awe in me as each artist soloed. The density of the music and yet the space you could simultaneously hear from the performance was breathtaking. In many ways the band left me with the impression or the sensorial presents you get with a well executed classical performance. The idea I got from my discussions with my friend Kenny Dennis, a consummate Jazz drummer, was that the mid-century goal of Jazz musicians and Jazz music were to go toe to toe with the classical expression. Listening to Bitches Brew I felt that bar had been met in musicality and structure. It was marvelously 3 dimensional as the different instruments pulled you in different directions. I felt as if Miles was still at the helm. Still guiding everyone in that Ne plus ultra of musical experiences. Simply impressive! During all of this I had run into Karen, who was radiant that night, after pulling off a world-class event. I was happy for her and very impressed. She had an extra ticket. Henry’s ticket, I’d find out later. I stood for most of the performance shooting but I really wanted to be immersed in this phenomenal experience. I sot out the box for some rare access. I found myself setting behind Greg Burk, LA Times’s Culture Monster, reviewing the show. We have a mutual friend, Casey Dolan, who wrote for the LA Times and was Entertainment Editor. We chatted about Casey leaving the Times and our mutual interest of writing and music. Karen joined us as Marcus Miller took command of the stage to bring the recording and collaboration with Miles for Tutu to life again.

Once Marcus had finished with the set of Tutu he took a moment to shared his own story with us of his and Miles’ collaboration. How he had left the band to study composing with Miles’ blessing and of his return to create with Miles again on Tutu. It was rather inspirational moment and showed another side of Miles. A look at him we don’t usually get as a mentor and a collaborator that so importantly demonstrated Miles focus on the music honing in on Miles’ desire to remain relevent and involved. Marcus felt it was fitting and in the spirit of Miles’ own sense of creativity to continue that legacy of reinvention and creativity by introducing one of his own compositions, Jekyll And Hyde. Jekyl and Hyde was to carry the nightto it’s finally. It matched the cadence and tone of Tutu and proved to be appropriate closer for such a remarkable night. We were all moved and impressed by the superb musicianship and the remarkable remake of not one but three ground breaking and watershed Jazz albums. May the house of Miles live on forever!


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.

08
May
12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

07
Feb
12

Under The Big Black Sun: One More Night In The Soul Kitchen

I was upfront, leaning up against the stage looking out on dozens and dozens of glowing faces. The close ones were white and bright, full of smiles drifting to darker and darker silhouettes to the back of the club. All were focused toward the stage I was leaning on where I slowly slide up on it, while the members of X paused between songs for a breather. I thought it was the perfect time to fire up a cigarette. Soon I felt a nudge against my back. I turned to my right to look up at Exene gesturing with her fingers, pressed closely to her lips, as if she was taking a drag from a cigarette. I smiled and she smiled back as her hand passed my shoulder and drifted by my cheek, she took the Camel nail from my hand that was lifting up toward her mouth. She then stood up for a second taking 2 solid drags from my camel straight and passed it back to me. Once returned I took another puff off the now moist butt of my cigarette as the band slammed into another Punk Rock classic. In front of me all were being driven wild  by the music. The churning of young hot sweating bodies were tangled weaving to the fast beat laid out by DJ Bonebreak, searing guitar work of Billy Zoom and bleeding edge harmonies of both John Doe and Exene Cervenka slamming against the walls of the Bacchanal. It was the sound of Punk mixed with break-neck speed Rockabilly from the album Wild Gift that tossed the Bacchanal into unrestrained chaos. X selling out 3 night’s of this 500 plus venue in Claremont Mesa in San Diego. The only commercial radio station that played X was KROQ. Everything that brought people together that night was essentially generated by word of mouth from all the Punks, while slightly crossing over to the mainstream. We refered to the mainstream as the “Normals”. That night and the other passed by with blistering Punk Rock ferocity for this Southern California musical power house who was the spearhead for the young and budding army of colored haircuts and leather jackets. It was revelatory, celebratory and lifestyle affirming as we participated in making history, changing culture, while Rockin’ to one of the most intelligent bands to emerge in years. Their songs had content, commentary and substance embodied in skillful song craft. Exene and John Doe’s relationship was an archetype that Punk couple aspired to and emulated. Their relationship was tough, funny and loving and it was reflected in the band’s lyrics and that made X unique among most of the SoCal based Punk Bands. As the years passed X never reached the multi-million status that they were at one time expected to reach. X losing some of their base after signing with Warner Bros. where they were being pulled in a more Pop direction by the guru’s at the label. That was followed with Billy Zoom leaving the band and then the dream couple eventually separating and devouring.

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X still carried on like troopers with new band members and new releases. But for most, the magic was gone. Punk Rock found new heroes and new mythologies to attach themselves to. Exene and John created the acoustic country folkish duo The Knitters a year later. I saw The Knitters for the first time in Tijuana at a Luis Guerena, of Tijuana No, produced show. There was a who’s who of the San Diego Punk Glitterati in attendance. All were eager to be a part of this new setup. All evolved wanted bragging right for seeing one of the first performances of The Knitters. I loved the new thing while getting hammered on cheap Mexican beer. The show was raided by the Federales and was closed down: Punks scattering everywhere. Therefore, the show was a complete success from a Punk Rock perspective. As the years past The Kniters virtually dissolved and John Doe explored a solo career and Exene took up art. With all these changes and morphing, I and we, stilled hung on to our majestic memories of X in their heyday. One night I was giving Jane Weidlin a foot rub at an after party from Cover 13 celebrating Retail Slut’s 20th anniversary. Jane and I got on the subject of how we missed Billy Zoom. We were so glad he had rejoined the band. Jane had seen them recently and said they had torn it up. Billy hadn’t lost any of guitar prowess being an air-conditioned repair man. Jane’s slave name escapes me now, but she was a slave of Sabrina belladonna that night. Jane had been assigned to me for the foot message by Sabrina. It turned out to be a perfect pairing. We carried on for nearly an hour going down the nostalgia road pleased at the reunion of both X and the GoGo’s. It was  a splendid night to rehearse the past. The scene was so close-knit and meaningful for all of us, Jane, myself and everybody evolved. Those memories were so dear that it could only hit a deep emotional and resonating chord with us all who shared this unique past. Our reminiscing validated our choices then and affirmed our love for the music and the scene’s characters, of which, every one of us were very much characters, role-playing, living out our dreams in this vibrant scene. After all the years X was still a vital topic.

I eventually ran in to Doors’ keyboardist Ray Manzarek and I pressed him on the topic of Jim Morrison with what you could call a plan B strategy. I had read “No One Gets Out Of Here Alive” at the time of X’s rise in popularity. For me the book was a watershed read that helped me perfect and define my own Punk Rock persona. Of course there was plan B or the sub agenda I had for Ray. Plan B was to ask him about his producing X’s Los Angeles. X’s first album release. As I pressed Ray about Jim you could read the “sign” registering on his face that said, “They always ask about fuckin’ Jim!”. For me seeing that look was just as important as if he’d started telling me old Rock N’ Roll war stories. It was easy to switch gears and question him about one of our favorite band, X. As he reminisced about X his face lit up and he became open. His gestures and body language read way happier, as we talked music and X. A few years later we ran into one another again and picked up where we left off. X, is but one symptom of Ray’s obsession with music: new music, experimental music and how technology affects the communication of music and musical performances. I can see why Ray’s face lit up about X now that I understand his fascination with the new and the experimental expression of musical performances. That’s why X fit that groove perfectly for Ray at the time they worked together on “Los Angeles“. Clearly, X posed a defining moment in music, Punk and SoCal’s culture: I mean the low, the down and out, the disenfranchised subculture that bred rampantly during the late 70′s and the early 80′s in Southern California, The Punk Rock movement change California from only being seen as a sun drenched subtropical utopia. X was the hub, the nexus of this with a call and response declaration of the desperate, reaching for meaning and recognition during a dark time!

During Christmas, as is my tradition, I migrated down to North Park to hobnob with my people. Yes, the remaining Punk legacy of San Diego’s Punk Rock culture. It’s the deepest roots I have and it represents the longest and most meaningful relationships of my life. Of course I hit The Casbah, the echo of previous heroic days, to be imbued by the “sweet” stale smell of smokey air, mobs of old scenesters mixing with new hipsters for Christmas Eve’s Exile on Kentner. Tim Maze was gracious and said hi. We both exchanged Christmas greeting and goodwill for a yearly reunion we often attend. After, Exile On Kentner I relocated at Kevin’s, cuddling up for a welcome sleep after my drive to San Diego. Christmas morning, joyfully waking to Robyn, Kevin, Stevie and Hammer for a Punk Rock beer soaked Christmas! After the gift giving, the laughs and a Prime Rib Christmas dinner I had one of my musings. We were relaxed, lounging in the afternoon winter’s sun in the front yard when I mentioned to Kev and Robyn that the Under The Big Black Sun concert at MOCA with X, The Dead Kennedys and The Advengers was coming up in January. The Universe must have turned on a switch because it was on! Robyn said buy your tickets now because we’ll be coming down. So the plan was set or so it appeared. I, after all, was a sluffer, waiting to buy the tickets after I joined MOCA again. But I was real busy and time passed very quickly in the leading up to the show. Oddly, about the time I was deciding to purchase the ticket I decided to check the MOCA website. I starred in shock as the graphic on the web page read Sold Out! I was unaware that it would go public and I thought I had more time. Damn, damn and damn! Funny enough I received a text the next day from Robyn asking if I was ready and had I bought my ticket. I looked at the text feeling guilt ridden at my slacker ways and hesitated to respond. I broke the bad news to Robyn. Robyn being who she was, was magnanimous and supportive. This was about 10 days out. So I seethed and simmered in my juices for most of that time looking for a way to hook it up. Just about the time I was about to start pulling strings and asking for favors I got another text. This was Robyn letting me know that her and Kevin was dropping out. I was bummed for them and there was a part of me that felt I had let them down. It was a big weekend for me because I was planning on celebrating the Chinese New Year. Ilona Sampovaara, a wonderful lowbrow artist I had met had a showing as well. I was feeling a time crunch, torn loyalties, with great distances to breach and people to meet. Robyn made everything simple and brilliant. But Robyn is always able to pull out the bright side of a negative situation. She was good enough to let use the tickets. I was tremendously grateful. Robyn knows how to take oranges and make orange juice out of them. I thought a good course for the evening would be to bring Ilona along. Ilona has some remarkable art that demonstrates a witty sence of humor, has an observant eye, a sense of irony and clever commentary built into her paintings of dogs, cats and skewed youthful innocence. I thought the MOCA event would be perfect for her and give her a little more adventure to her visit here in Los Angeles from Mexico.

Saturday arrived with different degrees of drama at different times that would bunch up and then release, then linger like a dangling noose of anticipated till early evening. Ilona and I met. Then came our brief catch up session before we moved to rest Under The Big Black Sun at MOCA. We arrived, for me, in an uncharacteristic early manner to soak in MOCA’s vibe and art. I was surprised to see it was outdoors and in MOCA’s courtyard. We were early and the crowd was thin. We chatted for a while and the Avengers hit the stage after a long and momentum introduction. I hadn’t seen them before and was curious, but honestly I had low expectations. They were hard, they were tight and they were Punk Rock. The Avengers did a harder version of the Rolling Stone’s “Paint It Black”. They had good stage presence. Brad Kent played searing guitar and had a great look. Their pedigree stems from, Penelope Houston, who was at the Winter Land performance opening up of the Sex Pistols. Brad Kent was part of early Punk bands that spawned groups like D.O.A. and the Subhumans. Of course, I left Ilona behind to get close to photograph the Avengers. At one point I ran into Kim Buresh an entertainment lawyer and friend. It was nice to see her. I started recording a video with my camera and the song happened to be “Fuck You”. What a laugh! I turned to Kim and said, “Of all the songs I would choose to video it would be the song “Fuck You!” We both laughed at the idea and after the song ended I drifted back to Ilona. It wasn’t long before the band closed and the audience began to swirl towards the bar and thicken for the Dead Kennedys performance. Shana Nys Drambrot appeared out of the darkness to say hi. We talked about the bands and her tweeting to her Twitter followers to let them know what was going down at MOCA. She had a press pass from either LA Canvas or the Weekly. She was “Stage Pit” ready! While I’m talking LA Weekly I should note that Falling James was occuping the front stage pit for most of the evening. But in a matter of minutes made 2 passes by us that had me think he was cruising Shana and myself like the boys do at La Jolla and Santa Monica at Circus Books. Then much to my surprise Gary Baseman popped out from nowhere, all Punked up with leather jacket and wildly arrayed pink spiky braids with some stylin’ red bondage pants. Then it got all crazy as I popped off a few shots only to further wind up the action even more as Anthony Ausgang jumped in when I was shooting Jeffrey Deitch and Gary. At that moment the “Lowbrow” scene was blowing up way bigger than the Punk Rock scene we were all here to catch and honor. It was 10 minutes of friendly, nutty horse-play with these “Lowbrow Boys”. Before you knew it, Gary was piggy back riding Anthony, then jumping around and making dramatic posses and fierce faced goofiness. It’s moments like this that take me back to my reading of early 20th Century artist. Gary and Anthony’s horse-play reminded me how wondrous and vibrant the art scene must have been then just as much as it now with mischief and shenanigans I had just witnessed. For examples of such play can be seen when Dalí tied a beget to his head with a scarf for the whole evening for one of his openings. The Dadaists and Theatre Of Hate performances stirring up the crowd to the point of fighting or the rows between Malevich and Tatlin in Russia. What a great moment as it all went spinning out of control! Boys being boys: It was for me the best opening act for X I could have imagined.

Next came the Dead Kennedys sans Jello Biafra. I’ve seen Jello with No Means No in Dallas at the Orbit Room in the 90′s. Sadly, I’ve never seen Jello and the band he spearheaded all those revolutionary ideas with some of the most stunning, the proactive art work to almost get pass the censors. I tend to be a purest. I know Jello did wrong and the band deserved better. But his presence is so huge and his delivery so spot on it’s hard for me to get past and it’s pretty much a deal breaker. But the band hit the stage to deliver a competent version of the Kennedys. They hit all the highs with Kill the Poor, Holiday in Cambodia , Nazi Punks Fuck Off,  California Über Alles and many more. I have to confess I was drawn in by the infectious California Über Alles, because it’s a classic and it’s the way I feel about California right now. I did sing along with a great deal of glee and nostalgia! Towards the end they tightened it up even more where the singer honed in on Jello’s sound. So it was a pleasing end. We all, Shana, Ilona and myself chatted for a bit more before X took the stage and Shana took off for a close up of the X’s performance.

By the time X hit the stage MOCA had hit it’s sold out state. Going in for photos was difficult. Members of the crowd were having their own private family reunion and they weren’t very accommodating or desiring to share their space with me. So I was pushed or shoved as I passed by with my camera. X opened with the “The Phone Is Off The Hook But Your Not”. The crowd was devoted and surprisingly stayed, but packed, with only few taking the opportunity to pogo or shake it on this night. Billy Zoom’s playing was as brilliant and effortless looking as always. DJ kept hammering the beat. John and Exene were wailing in harmony with those break neck turns and spins that come along with their songs. Los Angeles, Johnny Hit and Run Paulene, Nausea, We’re Desperate and the list goes on. Unlike previous performances there were less antics and play between John and Exene. No teasing Exene in-between songs, like John did at Hootenanny or intimate chit-chat with the crowd like at Lobsterfest. Mostly, straight ahead Rockin. DJ got the drum solo of his career during The Hungary Wolf. It was much like the performance I had gotten to see at the Greek for when Under The Big Black Sun had first been released. Sharp, to the point and professional. I’m thinking their in full on concert mode because they’re touring with Pearl Jam in South America and Europe, which is a stunning mix of styles, but very similar ethos. X is finally making the money they so richly deserve. It was a great show and appropriately they ended their set with The Doors’ Soul Kitchen. A great cover of a classic I love. It’s quite a tribute to their art and staying power, to what was once a fresh and raw wet behind the ears struggling Punk band. Now X is being the driving force and focus of a tribute to an era with MOCA’s Under The Big Black Sun. It’s such a statement of devotion, when fans still come out to see such a great band play on a night like this and can only be seen as a strong statement for their future too. It’s like a friendship when it starts new, so young, played with such zeal and enthusiasm, then as the years go by it matures into something comfortable, pleasant and enduring. When Exene took a drag off my cigarette so many years ago I had no idea the legacy it would lead to, nor did I know that X would remain a focus of a generation that so pleasingly defined the enduring culture of Southern California’s Punk scene. We all share a remarkable legacy Under The Big Black Sun!

09
Oct
11

Culture Collide Blowing Up the International Indie and Alternative Music Scenes in Silver Lake

I recieved  an invite from Filter Magazine, of whom I’m a subscriber to their email updates, for the kick off of event for Cultural Collide Music Festival for the concert feature Nirvana: Live At The Paramount. A concert filmed in 1991 had been forgotten till recently. Once found it’s been cleaned up and edited from 16mm down to 1080P High Definition. While the invite suggested I should post this invite to my page with a “like” I couldn’t bring myself to do this. I did share it with a few of what I’d consider devotees of Nirvana or true music fans and close friends. I couldn’t stand the idea of fighting people to find a seat or standing in any line that were a quarter mile long. Thankfully, the tactic paid off making entrance easy and more exclusive. So the lesson here is if you want to be in the know you need to get your finger is the pie or you’re going to have to get your toes wet if you want to be in the action! This Wednesday at the Vista the showing took place with a sizable crowd but no nuttiness. I was very impressed with the feature. It was a perfect time capsule of the band represented and the Punk Rock culture of the time. First point of interest, for me, was when Kurt referred to was when he referred to the music he made as Punk music, not Grunge. So Kurt saw what he was doing as Punk and being true to those ethos. Awe, Grunge you are such a lovely marketing term. Another point of interest was the band’s dress or “Look” was composed: there was no stylist there throwing furs, bedazzling thingies or designer gear on them. Kurt had a sweater with a few moth holes in it, a tee and jeans. No dressing for success here! The sound of the feature was superb and the imaging was superior. For those who weren’t there when it happened it will be a revelatory experience, or others this will be a reminder of how genuine and real music performances were and can be. I left satisfied with the nearest thing to a live Nirvana concert one can receive now. It’s worth giving it a view.

Come Friday I was ready for some live music action and so directed myself to the hot bed of activity of Cultural Collide at Taix for a mixer featuring a number of Dutch bands, in this case it De Staats. What a surprise there were, delightfully quirky and I think there was a socio-political message too. They had this odd charm, the lead singer in proper business dress, while the rest of the band were in musician gear. I think he would’ve dropped the look if he had known how hot Taix was going to be. The lead had presence and knew how to keep it moving and to keep it interesting. There sound was with filled  tinkling keyboards and at had a military cadence at times that bring to mind bands like Wall of Voodoo, Pulp or Oingo Bingo but with a less stylized or quirky vocal approach. I felt, had I been from the Netherlands, I would have picked up on a lot of satire and humor in their presentation. Nonetheless, they were a wonderful way to start the evening off in the right way.

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WIM was the next band on my itinerary or should I say, I stumbled upon them in the Champagne Room of Taix. Hum, happy endings… I was immediately struck by the front man’s presences: vocally gifted, very emotive and dramatic in his presentation. He was captivating, moving and gesturing in a very interesting manner while delivering impressive and stylish vocal performance. I thought at first they were some nutty Eastern European band that was branded as being folk glam. Is this a departure from Freak Folk? He approached the mic like a Silent Movie Star would approach a love interest: brooding, steamy and filled with dark lust. By the second song I was sold and the ladies there had been on board long before I showed up. They temperture raised a few degrees while the band slyly slipped their had up out skirts, musically speaking, while we fell into a trace of ungarded pleasure. WIM is a remarkable band and a must see!

I arrived in time to catch Portugal’s The Gift. The lead singer, has an exotic look and a lively stage presence. She dances and takes dramatic poses, while she delivers a poppy Alternative Rock. Not quite No Doubt, not quite Lena Lovich nor quite Loop Guru, The Gift delivers a tuneful dance Rock that is closer to mainstream or Euro pop than what I’d consider alternative, but lively in any case. Their sound is lush with keyboards, riffy guitars and power drumming. During the last song they the keyboardist used a theremin to great and dramatic affect bumping the overall energy and excitement to the show as a whole.

Next on my wish list was The Morning After Girl. These guys were great, providing dense dark hypnotic melodic alternative Rock to a ever growing crowd. The buzz I had received was on target and they delivered. Somewhere in the realm of Spiritualize, Pink Mountain tops or the Verve this band was a knock out pulling off an awesome interpretation of Neo-Phychedelic Rock. I could have listened to a longer set and nested there for the rest of the night had I not had more trouble to get into. The Morning After Girl knew their instruments had good stage presence and the lighting only made the experience richer and put this band on my hit list to visit again.

The local buzz on Avi Buffalo had drawn my attention to what all the hub-bub was about. So, I trekked back Taix’s Champagne room for my last show for the night. I’d say what Avi Buffalo is somewhat like Darker My Love but referencing more of Bob Dylan and less of Tom Petty with a big dip in to Neil Young and Crazy Horse and the tiniest dash of White Strips. The sound is folkish but in an electric way and in a singer song writer way too. The lyrics are thought driven and introspective. The audience were composed of Hipsters and young locals. It reminds me of how I’d often go to see Tell Tale Hearts in San Diego part of the Garage Sixties sound that was a subculture to the Punk subculture.  I found them to be more rewarding than Darker My Love: more song craft and musicality. I look forward to digging deeper with this band as time goes on. Cultural Collide has curated so far some memorable and amazing talent. I can’t wait to get my Rocks of fop the rest of the weekend here i Silver Lake.


04
Oct
11

Eagle Rock Music Festival: As the gods would have it!

My covering of the 13th Annual Eagle Rock Music Festival had it seeds sewn early, as early as SXSW, in Austin this year. It was further fertilized by my experiences with Sunset Junction’s collapse has this story unfurling in a surprising and grand manner. Sunset Junction with it’s own legacy in the music festival circuit as the Mother of all LA based street festivals. Sunset Junction was the inspiration for the blossoming Eagle Rock Music Festival. The seeds were sewn with my introduction to the delightful Peggy Ellithorpe at an Interactive hoedown in the convention center in Austin, while I was covering Film and Music for the 10 non-stop-free-for-all days at SXSW. We share a common interest in film and music. The Artivist Film Festival arrived and I jumped at the chance to volunteer, knowing she was managing it. I had the best time, meeting some great creative folks and participating in a good effort. It so happened she was to be running the social media and volunteers for “ERMF”. I bellied up to the bar once again to one of her volunteers and to be a part of one of my favorite local festivals. As the days approached I was able to include a couple of friends to volunteer for the festival. I was rather proud of myself for doing so. I got a film buddy, Scott Marsall, involved with a new friend: a charming exchange student named Mocha, fresh from China. They both jumped on board to be a part of this very ambitious and difficult feat of helping in putting a music festival together. I won’t say I was counting off the days, but I was truly looking forward photographing the crowds and bands who were booked for one of the coolest street fairs in a beautiful part of Los Angeles.

I haunt places like Oinster’s, Columbo’s Italian Steak House, Cocoa Mexicatessen, Colorado Wine Company, Swork, Casa Bianca Pizza and Taco Spot. So being a part of my communities festivities is a complete natural. So when Saturday arrived, I was ready. I networked my networks and was ready to hatch the long anticipated plan. So I locked it in with my girl, Mocha, and my boy, Scott. I was considering live blogging the event. I started the process by putting up a brief article on my previous adventures at the Eagle Rock Music Festival the night before. Later that day I would discover that my dream couldn’t be realized. Swork, unknown to me, had shut down their network for the festival promptly 5pm. So after 5pm it was a total snafu! I was a bit bummed. Returning to the topic at hand, I picked up Mocha, near USC, where she generously added Tiffany to our ranks. From there we scooted through downtown till I found a Harbor Freeway entrance near Staples. In a flash we had nested close to Colorado, near the public Library on a shady street. It was nice getting to know Tiffany and catching up with Mocha now she’s full time at USC. Our next launch was to the volunteer station for check in and orientation.

The girls were excited to be a part of their first music festival. They couldn’t wait to sign up and start their shifts. We lingered a bit. The girls got their way and signed up; all the while we were sucking in the rather warm and very sunny afternoon. Once done we scurried off to Swork for refreshments and my meet up with Scott. We metaphorically spread our wings in the cool ease of Swork family friendly coffee shop. Scott and I made the necessary plans for my photo and video efforts for shooting the bands. The good news was there was a lot to work with and the bad news was the limited time to document all the entertainment. We had a full plate! After downing one “Prep” iced coffee we all headed back the volunteer center to get the ball rolling. The charming Zuleikha, Peggy’s assistant, was handleing the signing in and orientations for all the volunteers. Scott got several candid and posed photos form both Mocha and Tiffany to save some memories for later. Then much to my inner child’s delight my most favoritest volunteer, Nicki, rolled in with her own special style completely on fire as usual. She was punkishly pumped with effervescent energy and I was thrilled to see her. Being around her I feel both gay and straight, as she rolls out her fabulous and snickering devilishly dirty tails cronicaling her love life. Every story is purely a hilarious outrage of her love interests. Her and I kibitzed for 20 minutes dragging Scott into it, that included a ride to a ticket station while she lamented her “Burner love affair” with an artist who revealed his involvement with a French woman who was living in Paris. Now to Nicki’s outrage the French woman will soon be moving to San Francisco to take up permanently with the artist. I told her she’s not usually the third wheel in a relationship and I was surprised she had let this happened! As she told the story my ears were burning form the salacious naughtiness that was both intoxicating and outrageous, my ears were on fire form the dirt and outrage! I got a full dose of the good stuff and I didn’t want to leave it alone. I think there’s going to be a lot of hot sex and crying in San Francisco soon! Ultimately, we had to return to the sanity of our work. Mocha and Tiffany, my China Dolls, were given a station to collect donations, while Scott and I were on our merry way to collect images and memories.

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From this point on the playing was over and we were on the run! Scott was being my faithful assistant who held my tripod as we scooted up and down Colorado. Dub Lab was our first stage of the festival. The brochure referred to the the stage as Dub (Future Roots) Lab featuring Carlos Niño and the Arohi Ensemble. I was quickly intrigued with the two men with a combination of sitar and Cello going through the rigors of sound check. I popped off a few shots and eyeballed the situation long enough to get the jest of the overall set-up. I was lucky enough to get Carlos Niño sitting in the background of the shots. Later, I would return to hear Arohi Ensemble melodic trance raga and jazz mix where they had added a lilting flute to the mix that flowed evenly while intertwining, then the flute lifting elegantly as an accent to the drone of the sitar and melody of the cello. But for the moment sound checks can eat up time and we were on the move again. We jaunted up to the Emerging Artist Stage to find Kenan Bell all hot into it riffing and rapping over drum and rhythm guitar with a sweet backing vocalist. She belted out her backing vocals while shaking this amazing mane of cork screw curly hair like it was a San Franciscan freak flag! I kept thinking Chaka Kahn, Chaka Kahn, Chaka Kahn while she shook and flung that hair as she sung. A lot The Knux, Kenan Bell, has a bit of Rock interwoven in his Hip Hop. From the Emerging Artist Stage we moved to the Low End Theory Stage. Karen would later in the evening explain where the term “Low End Theory” to me. She’d explain how it came to be a cultural reference point from the album by A Tribe Called Quest to obviously embed as part of the Eagle Rock Music Festival’s stage name. The story starts with Q-Tip’s admiration of Jazz, in particular Miles Davis. In fact, so much so, that Q-Tip approached Ron Carter, a long time bass player for Miles, to play bass for him on what would become the album “Low End Theory”. Karen sighting the story where Q-Tip left a phone message on Ron’s message machine asking Ron to play for him. Ron didn’t know who Q-Tip was. Ron is far removed from that world and out of the loop. Ron called his son to get his thoughts. He ask his son in that conversation “What’s a Q-Tip?”. When his son heard this he told Ron, his Dad, he had to play for Q-Tip, knowing Q-Tip’s rep. Ron played on the Low End Theory album which was a defining moment in Hip Hop and Jazz synthesis. I was glad to get the DL on the low down on the etiology of Low End Theory. That story was still hours a way and the sun was still bright and the crowds were beginning to flow in as DJ Daddy Kev passed the baton on to Dj D-Style to spin the wheels of steel. We lingered there for a while and then took it back to base for my first attempt to live bloging. Soon the dream was shattered with Sworks no internet for the festival policy. That through me a devastating and time consuming curve. Nonetheless, f the ashes of dreamy dreams I refocused and Scott and I were back on our way to cover the music!

We caught Ellen and Matt at the Family Stage jumping franticly: singing, spinning bringing joy to the little soldiers who were gleefully mirroring what they were seeing and listening to from a bag of magic of inspiring songs. I’m going leave this performance, as simply as a good thing, as apposed to finding some critical thread and intellectual drive behind “Good ole fun”. Yes, we marched on returning to Dub Lab long enough to catch Mia Doi Todd simple acoustic singer songwriter style grace a captivated medium size audience with her beautifully lilting melodic folk/soul music. It was her, a guitar, a voice with a shaker providing light percussion pacing along with her vocals and her guitar. The sun was fading at this point and she was serenading us in the dusk. Scott and I made a last stand to check on Mocha and Tiffany who so dutifully taking donations. Their location allowed them receive the full blast of the Low End Theory’s bass barrage. We bid our farewells as the street were thickening further unknowing seeing them for the last time. We pushed up the second time towards to the Low End Theory stage. The smell of weed was in abundance as we sifted through the crowd to finally break out on the other side to glimpse Panang, the aesthetic harbor for both the Ship and Kingsize Stages. I’d been dreaming of the Kingsize stage for the last couple days and felt it was my mission to make it! These stages were turning over the music acts at a frantic pace with lots of straight on Rockin’! Scott, ever faithful to the calling of assisting me was ready to set up at any moment. As the dust began to settle around us Karen peeked through the crowd and garbed me. It was good to see her and we Kibitz while making the introductions. She was there to support Ronna, an old friend, and the bands of Kingsize Sound Lab. It wasn’t long till we were treated to a great sound from a San Francisco band called Buffalo Electric‘s performing an energetic set delivering their Gaurage/Punk inspired music. They brought it with bright searing guitar, rumbly bass and pounding drums! They drove it home with verve pulling on strong Rock N’ Roll traditions. They had both Karen and I bumping and bopping through the whole set. They had the “look” too: skinny jeans, sharp black shoes, mopish hair with big fat chops. I know that Low End Theory had the big crowds but the future was staring us right in the face and we were staring right back at it! Next on the Ship stage was Molino a fine indie ensemble, tight polished and professional that kept the crowd pleased in the Panang’s parking lot. They were the only band to use a smoke machine. I might add, that the smoke made for some mighty fine photos! At this point I was well aware that if we didn’t drift soon, it was my job to drift, I’d be locked in for the rest of the night at Ship and Kingsize because of the splendid roaster of talent to close the night out. So we slipped back in the direction of the volunteer center, but not before getting a little jiggy at Welcome Inn Stage staring Bonne Musique Zydeco. We arrived to a full parking lot of shaking booties. All around us was “Big Easy” merry making! Yes, there were beads while Bonne Musique Zydeco was playing like nobody’s business from the balcony of the Welcome Inn. That’s right, lifting the bar for SoCal by putting the “Partay!” into the word party and so lifting our spirits by bringing me back to those special qualities I so fondly embraced from my adventures in NOLA. It was the real deal using all the right elements like accordion, washboard, rhythm and bass guitar and managing a drum kit up on the balcony.  Bonne Musique Zydeco delivering classic Zydeco to all of those in the parking lot. It was simply marvelous as we soaked up the flavor. Sadly, Scott had to make his way home to get ready to hit Vegas for some upcoming work so we had to roll. We said our goodbyes at the volunteer center. I was very grateful for his help. By this time I had completely lost Mocha and Tiffany. Sure there was a lively text thing going on between us. On one occasion the text was Chinese script. For the record they were out and off on their first adult playground experience. I’m not the no guy when it comes to that kind of thing!

At this point my feet were made of lead and throbbing sore. So we rested. Karen and I nibbled and sat to recoup before our final phalanx to cut through all those shrink rapped packed bodies at Low End Theory Stage. We caught a ride on one of the carts which stalled in the middle of the crowd at Low End Theory Stage, but not before we ran in to Tim and Miki who passed us walking. This gives you an idea of our speed on the cart. We jumped off and started walking pushing through the crowd. Through the crowd I ran into Eva Juneau who works with Edgar Varela at EVFA. We hi-fived having no opportunities to hug. Karen and I finally pressed through to find ourselves in front of the Kingsize stage again just in time to catch Chicago legend Dorain Taj, a former member of “The Articles of Faith” play! Hitting the stage Dorian Taj was “ON” from the get-go: they were a Rolling Thunder Review, an E-Street Band or a Rolling Stones performance on steriods. They were far from synchronized but they pulsed with every ounce of their bodies and souls making them riveting to watch and listen to. I kept getting Hurricane Carter stuck in my mind when I was taking in the  performance. They were vibrant, a Rock N’ Roll narcotic, rummaging on stage delivering tasty licks, urgent soulful vocals with a bluesy indie Rock feel to the songs. They didn’t let up till they left the stage. The audience was all agog at what they had witnessed and followed Dorian Taj’s exit with a round of applauding praise that thundered long after their power serge performance. Next up was Blonde Summer. Their sound has an indie vibe reminisant of Von Bondies or Death Cab for Cutie with a little more bite in it. Blonde Summer had a solid performance locking in a tight performance, but to be honest a bit of a come down after Dorian Taj manic stage attack! The whole night in the Panang’s parking lot bands were rifling back and forth between the Ship and the Kingsize Stages. To me the best bang for the buck because there was little down time in between sets. Hailing for Portland, Adventure Gallery, who have been recording at Kingsize Soundlabs pounced to plant themselves on the Kingsize Stage. Adventure Gallery are not the shy types either! I kept rehearsing how they were from the same seedbed as the Dandy Whorhals. They shared similar attitudes in their writing style but the music drifted from a Warhol’s sound. Adventure Gallery filled the stage and I mean “Filled” it, literally, completely across from left to right. Adventure Gallery is a high energy ensemble with a combination of Rock energy and Dance fever. At times they vibe like Airborne Toxic Event or Duran Duran without Simon Le Bon or a bunch of randy boys with guitars and keyboards on a mission! The crowd that gathered around them in Panang’s parking lot were ready to dance! The band only encouraged them all by raising the pitch, winding everyone up with every new pulsing song. Great music and a solid engaging performance tightened up the crowd at this point. The bar was lifting toward the next band Shadow Shadow Shade performance. Strangely, a week ago I notice that I had a link attributed to them observing my blog. That link brought me to a page where Shadow Shadow Shade‘s music was featured. I gave them a listen and I liked what I heard. All of this making the world seem a much smaller. So I was keyed on their performance to catch the live version of the recorded version I’d heard the week previously. They were introduced as one of the oldest bands in LA and I find that hard to believe knowing of Rick Wilder’s Mau Maus, The Weirdos or the Gears. But I played along. The opening riff of their set starts like the Sex Pistols Anarchy In The UK but by the second bar they had made it their own, pushing forward into their own material. Their sound embraced more or less an alternative garage inspired Rock sound that hinted of Lou Reed structure with mostly male leads that were accented with just the right amount of intertwining male/female harmonies with effortless intoxicating affect. The fans were drawing in close and I might say they were fanatical. The crowd was resisting my moves forward to get the better shots. I had to get all “Photog” on them to make any headway to lock in any quality images of the band owning the stage. Karen was already there getting her groove on. So I moved closer to her seeking refuge from the very focused fans. They had a well paced show that keep the tempos changing from song to song. Some songs more Rockin’ and those that were more etherial and dramatic. They put an effective power packed show leaving folks wanting more, but alas, the set were clocked in at 30 minutes and there was no leeway to make room for the next band. For me this was an appropriate rapturous end to a frenetic, eventful and exciting day. I bid my farewells to Karen to finally relocate to the volunteer center to catch up with Peggy on photos, festival close out and final sharing our mutual delight and exhaustion. Right after that I had a chance run in with Tonya as I was scooting towards my car. She’s a great drummer, an inspiration of joy and determination in the music community. She was good enough to invite me to an after party but once she really looked me over she determined I had had plenty of party for the day. We shared a big hug. I was off to the car with plans to get the photos up by the next day. This 13th Annual Eagle Rock Music Festival was every bit as challenging as anything SXSW has thrown at me and every bit as rewarding as SXSW has been, for me as well. It was a day and a night of mixing with enthusiastic crowds, working and playing with wonderful friends and listening to amazing bands! All the adventures and exploits of the day are going to some make bright and warming memories that will last for years to come. My hat’s off to another offering from the Eagle Rock’s Center For the Arts for putting together their most stunning music festival yet!

01
Oct
11

Eagle Rock Music Festival: Local Simplicity with Big Dreams

Today is the Day of the annual celebration of music and local culture gets a festive push for Eagle Rock for the 13th annual Eagle Rock Music Festival. I’ve now attended for years and enjoy the festival’s easy  fun feel and since of community. Colorado Blvd. is a perfect strret for a street fair with neat shops and amazing eateries. Colombo’s, Oinster’s, CaCao Mexicatessen and Taco Spot are favs of mine. You also can sneak under the foodie radar to hit Tommy’s chili laden burgers. Eagle Rock Music Festival is patterned after and inspired by Sunset Junction, the grand daddy of all LA street fairs. The way I look at it, the more street fairs the better! It gives a place a sense of community and gets people together that don’t necessarily run into one another under more normal circumstances. It also lends to giving a community a unique identity adding mystic and flavor that can translate to being a social beacon that attract new faces and creative folks to it’s center much as it did in Silver Lake and Echo Park. Keeps you eyes on the Kingsize Sound labs’ “Rock Block” stage with Shadow Shadow Shade and Roonie, the emerging stage with new local artist and Welcome Inn’s Bonne Musique Zydeco!

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Today it’s my hope to post blogs throughout the day if time and internet are permitting. I’ve loaded slides of the previous years to ignite your passion for today’s festivities. Remember, that Oinster’s has premium beers and $10 pitchers and awesome patio to view the game as it happens. To all my home boys and home girls I look forward to seeing and playing with you all today. It should be a blast!

31
Aug
11

Butthole Surfers Rolled Out Saturday as Sunset Junction Shimmers Away

As Sunset Junction melted away on a Wednesday afternoon, as much as, the prospect of my blogging and photographing of the event dripped away that day as well. Of course, there was a constant running dialog within a tight circle of friends on the Topic of Sunset Junction with it’s very much anticipated line up for Saturday and Sunday. This year’s line up was to be the  best and most concentrated ring of talent to have ever grace the streets of Sunset Junction in my memory. As the prospect of this inclusive weekend event broke into smaller fragments spreading amongst the various Eastside clubs, businesses and even local homes, I got a life line from my friend, Chris, who desperately wanted to see the Butthole Surfers and Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah. Sadly, only one was to come to pass. Chris invited me to review and photograph the Butthole Surfers at the Echo Plex with the lure of dinner and drinks. This was an easy sale!

Come Saturday, we planned to get together and as the plan developed we nested at Taix, which is within spitting distance of the Echo Plex. The week had been hectic and chaotic for me with moving and travel, while putting a video package, EPK, together for artist and one man band “Ricky Lee Robinson” at a special party and showcase Heidi Margot Richman put together with a group of music publishers. Fatigued, exhausted and hilariously immobilized by an accident earlier in the week I managed to joined Chris for our drinks anyway. We started our Rock N’ Roll quest by ramping up the fun level at Taix with drinks and gossip. We started with a round of beers and a shot of whisky followed by another round of beers and then finished up with the same and one last shot of whisky a piece. Our Taix waitress managed to serve some rather large shots. We were both very afraid of those shots and happy about it at the same time. So we delayed gratification by sipping gingerly the whisky presented and continued talking about music. Chris is an exhaustive collector of tunage, who’s interest spans from the early Seattle scene, exotic Pink Floyd releases, Peruvian Psychedelics and a host of alternative bands of note. His interest is more perfectly represented in his eBay Store Vinyl Piper. So our conversation was peppered with obscure and trivial details about music and the music business.

We had agreed upon a strategic hit at the Echo Plex, thus avoiding local favs, 400 Blows. This is not the British 400 Blows of the late 80′s who’s focus was experimental: cut and paste found sounds, beats and noise delivered with social conscious grooves. I have the greatest respect for their work. The British 400 Blows had a brilliant adaptation of Charles Manson‘s interview with Tom Snyder; which was a supreme twisty mind fuck. This LA based 400 Blows preform boring, dullish and unimaginative rock n’ roll fare: always to be avoided!

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Chris and I easily scooted through the line of the Echo Plex to enter in to the “Sold Out” land of the Butthole Surfers! It was nice to run into Bert Ferguson and Iris Tower-y to pow wow for a minute before the show got started. During my exploits I ran into Anthony Ausgang, Marialyce Pedersen, Amanda Sherren and the lovely Satanica Batcakes as the evening progressed. The crowd moved with urgent zeal as the band took the stage for a very anticipated show. By this time I had completely lost Chris, who was eager to see the Butthole Surfers, for the first time, as I was for this Texas based band. The fans were entrenched, vacuumed sealed, you might say, as I tried on a few occasion to drive deep to the center to get better photos of the band as they performed. I should say I’m far from being a devotee, my impressions of a Butthole Surfers’ performance aren’t that of a manic band or a high energy ensemble, but more of a band that is jammy and thinky by nature. They’re as much performance art as Laurie Anderson. The Butthole Surfers show consist of slides and snippets of sub-pop counter-culture collages-images and video installations. This propel the lyrical narrative with spliced psychedelic Dadaist approach to words/images, using hypnotic trance flavored tonal rock that puts them in a category and in ideologically alignment, with ideas and thinking that is more in line with Sonic Youth. Although, Sonic Youth is very different musically than the Butthole Surfers. I dipped into my Butthole Surfers brain trust of devotees, Marialyce  Pedersen and Satanic Batcakes to get a read on the performance. Marialyce was cooing the praises of the Butthole Surfers magical set. Satanca had a very different perspective of the Butthole Surfers show. She pointed out that the sound mix was sub par and muddy. She also claimed that the Butthole Surfers were best when two drummers were playing. This round King Coffey, only one drummer this round, was with the band as Satanica pointed out. She said the Butthole Surfers were best when two drummers were present, which included the drummer Teresa Nervosa, as the Butthole Surfers had had in San Francisco at the Filmore in 2008. The sound was muddy on the parameters of the crowd and in the pit the sound appeared to clear up: meaning there was a sweet spot. So there was poor sound design by the sound man at this show. The Butthole Surfers played there mid 90′s hit “Pepper” that faded between being the recognizable hit and defused oblivion, bringing home Satanica’s take on their performance. Other songs covered in the set were, Hey, The Shah Sleeps In Lee Harvey’s Grave, Creep in the Cellar and they encored with 22 Going on 23. The show had it’s compelling moments, but because Gibby spent most, if not all, of his time at the Vox and that static presence tended to created a stillness in middle the stage. Paul Leary and Jeff Pinkus had their volleys of action on either side, yet I found it hard for them to peak the stage energy in a synergistic way with Gibby’s Vox monolith between both. This lowered the overall energy of their set. I found I could hear in my mind where they wanted to go, but on a few occasions I couldn’t figure out with my ears where they were ending up. For true fans and devotees this a was a truly great performance. Hitting lots of high notes, digging deep from their older catalogue to the fan’s satisfaction. That all being said there were few defectors from the crowd at the Echo Plex during the performance: all lingering on every last morsels of delivered dosage by this siminal ground breaking post punk neo-psychedelic band. You can sign me up for another trip when the Butthole Surfers roll around again.

30
Jul
11

Mishka: When the Raga Drops!

I was asked to photograph Mishka at the GRAMMY Museum some months back. All of this took place after a remarkable travel bender that started with SXSW in Austin Texas, then a bounce in San Francisco for Easter with friends and eventually ending in Seattle with a familial visit with dear my brother. So, once I touched down at LAX I had little more than two hours to make the GRAMMY Museum and Mishka’s visitation. I had made the GRAMMY Museum for a Miles Davis event some months back, so I had a tight bead on the location. It was the mass transportation variable that was going to make this a difficult hurdle to pass over.

So it all shook out just fine despite some tense moments. I was still able to catch Mishka‘s first performance where the kids are a part of the Grammy Jams program exposing children to music. Mishka, a father himself, did a family friendly set and answered questions for all these exuberant little ones. Later that evening Mishka played an acoustic set for an older crowd. After that set, Mishka was interviewed by Museum Executive Director Bob Santelli in the Clive Davis Theater, while taking a short break from supporting Kenny Chesney‘s “Going Costal” tour. The cosy environment of the Clive Davis Theater was a perfect setting for Mishka to talk about his upbringing, his new CD “Talk About” on JK Livin, his musical interest and influences. The interview revealed a thoughful artist raised on Bob Dylan and Bob Marley. He spent most of his youth and young adulthood growing up on a boat, living with his family, who sailed throughout the Caribbean, being exposed to Island life after his father quit the corporate world to live a more simple life. Mishka’s songs reflect those values intertwined with the spiriituality of the Rastas, merging them with the social awareness of the 60s and the modern concept of “Consciousness”. Afterwards, I spent a little time with Mishka and complimented him on his songwriting and tune smithing abilities. I could tell from the on stage discourse with Bob Santelli he wasn’t posing with his reggae drenched acoustic set. He is truly dedicated to the ideals of Rastafari and “Consciousness”. He truly has knowledge and understanding of the lifestyle. So I encouraged him to hook up with San Diego’s top Rasta, Makeda Dread. Makeda, in San Diego, was the primary promoter of Rastafarian lifestyle and “Consciousness”. She had San Diego’s first vegetarian restaurant and promoted Reggae concerts as seminal as any Punk Rock promoter during that period. She was instrumental in introducing me to Sly and Robbie, which I will be forever grateful! The time I spent with Mishka was validating on both a spiritual and emotional level. It was nice to see the Raga drop in the middle of such a pristine environment as the Grammy Museum.

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As things would have it my Mishka story wouldn’t end here. After a number of months performing the official Hard Rock pre-parties for Kenny Chesney’s “Going Costal” tour, once again, Mishka made a mainland connection for some special concerts and promotional shows in San Francisco and Los Angeles, continuing his support of his i-Tunes and Billboard Reggae charting album “Talk About“. I caught up with him at Rogers & Cowan, getting ready for a showcase for the Rogers & Cowan Summer Concert Series that Karen Sundell puts together to create awareness and interest in the emerging acts represented by the company. The Summer Music Series gives all involved a little hump day time to chill and take in the arts. I was looking forward to Mishka’s set. Everyone circled around him as he performed a satisfying, simple and to the point set of his newest songs from Talk About and old favorites. The room roared with appreciation of the performances of his songs “Give Them Love”, “My Love Goes With You” and closing his set with “Guy With A Guitar”. Soon he was off to yet another event in a week of back-to-back activities that wouldn’t end till he flew back home to Maui. While a farmers work is sun-to-sun, a musician’s work is never done.

For me there was one more chance to catch Mishka lay it down Raga style and that was at Hotel Cafe. Hotel Cafe is the Hub of the singer songwriter scene here in Los Angeles. Mishka had a prime spot to show his talents in a premier LA “Singer/Songwriter” hot spot. I’ve covered Carina Round and Walking Sleep here. I’ve enjoyed drinks and chit chat with Tom Livemore (Carina’s guitarist), Steve Fishman (James White and Hugh Cornwell) and Frank Infante (Blondie). So, Hotel Cafe has had some interesting and warm memories attached to it for me. Some time after my arrival, Mishka dropped in with guitar in tow and headed into the “Artist” area of Hotel Cafe.

I could tell things were a brewing, for sure, inside that room as I quietly sat at the table in the bar area of the establishment. It wasn’t long before Mishka took the stage with his guitar. He powered into his set. Something was different this night. As much as I enjoyed Mishka’s songs and previous performances this was a completely different kettle of fish. He was on fire! He was fiercely intense and ferociously committed to his art. He was vibrant and he rattled and glistened as I had never seen him before! His delivery of the songs was that of a showman and a Shaman. It was riveting, intoxicating and the crowd responded in kind. He started his set with “Long Road”, blazing deep into the set with “Higher Heights”, “One Tree”, “Talk About”, then followed with a sizzling rendition of “Above The Bones”. He shared comments and thoughts with the audience that brought them in closer as he pressed through the rest of the set. Everyone there hung with bated breath, and with anticipation, clung tightly to the edge of their seats as this show enveloped around them. As I learned later, Mishka does nearly all of his shows extemporaneously. Meaning, every show and/or set is done based on the feel of the room and the mood of that moment. So, he kept giving the people what they wanted and finished the set with “Stars Will Be Shining”. The whole show ran white hot. As the show concluded, it was as if the room was blasted with a bolt of cleansing air by of his stirring performance. There were enthusiastic yelps and cheers as Mishka left the stage. For all involved, the night concluded on a high note with some mighty Raga fever!

Mishka is a deeply committed and rooted artist that blends integrity, intensity and gifted song craft into something everybody can relate to. Talk About is his fourth album and there will surely be more from this deep well of creativity. So let the Raga drop!

06
Jul
11

Nervous Gender, The Dead Beats and Human Hands at the Bluestar

What was once the avant-garde is now the old garde but this doesn’t diminish the heat that Nervous Gender can generate as they proved last Saturday night when capping the night off with a line  up of bands that included: The Deadbeats and Human Hands. While Kraftwerk may have started the synthesizer movement , it must be said, Nervous Gender gave synthesizer music teeth. The bite Nervous Gender brought to the music arena defined what is now considered Synthpunk, Queercore and is foundational to what would be considered Industrial/Industrial Dance music today. I caught Nervous Gender for the first time at the Part TIme Punks Music Festival in 2008. I had wanted to see them for years and I was joyous to finally lock them in that night. I was impressed by their performance and gratified to finally hear such a legendary LA Punk play live.

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I’ve seen many shows at the Blue Star downtown. It’s a diner with tasty beers on tap and caters to the alternative/Punk crowd. After all it is a perfect fit. A bar on the inside with table seating to keep it on the DL and then there’s the outside patio with seating, a grill and a stage. A bit like the Echo patio but it’s a diner with big glass widows so you don’t miss any of the action. In other words you can view the band from the bar! For this night and for this line up brought out the nucellus, the core of the core, of the late 70′s and 80′s Los Angeles Punk Rock scene. Some in attendance was were Henry Peck, Lisa Riley, Lisa Murry, Bert Ferguson, Josie Roth, Debora Ballantine Ballabio, Ronald Schnier, Duchess De Sade and of course all the band member and a host of others churning in the midst of the Blue Star patio.

I had made it in time to catch Human Hands’ performance. A band that Bruce Licher of Savage Republic had release through his IPR Label (Independent Project Records) during the 80′s. I had produced and promoted a concert featuring Savage Republic at Backdoor at SDSU and this connection with Bruce Licher of Savage Republic and IPR introduce me to both Human Hands and Camper Van Beethoven. Human Hands was another band that I hadn’t caught traction on the first time around and I was eager to see them.  Thankfully, they were up first. Human Hands are a Punk band of guitars and rhythm section, that is more of a product of late 70′s sensibilities that don’t closely relate to Southern California’s early 80′s Hardcore scene. Thinking of Human Hands’ they are closer to Richard Hell and the Voidoids’ Blank Generation, than to Black Flag’s Rise Above. The crowd had gone from laid back to pumped as Human Hands mounted the stage. They delivered a beefy set that kept everyone on their toes engaged and dancing. They closed out the their set with “Sensible Guy” though there were calls for more of what was rocking the crowd.

The Deadbeats followed and the crowd became even more excited with this seminal Los Angeles Punk Rock band. As I fell back and listened I realized, they were more closely associated with the likes of Wall of Voodoo or Oingo Boingo. Quirky riffs, odd time signatures with stilted vocalizations and phrasing. The Deadbeats were a good fit for Nervous Gender. They blended well as a style bridge between them and Human Hands. They were somewhere in the middle of both bands styles.

Nervous Gender was on last, under the dark canopy of a midnight sky wrapped in stage lighting on Bluestar’s patio. After a steady stream of seminal LA Punk Rock we were now to be treated to a band as bedrock in importance as that of say, Tomato Du Plenty’s Screamers. Edward Stapleton dressed in black and with a more filled out band than any previous incarnation of Nervous Gender, I have seen, hit the stage like a prowling caged tiger. That is no surprise since they are a seminal Punk Rock ensemble. The set was tight as Edward and crew launched in to song after song of an eight song set. Starting off with “Monster”. Delivering the coup de grâce with “Fat Cow” that would put in Kraut Industrial Rocker to a test for authenticity and pedigree. Edward delivered till the very end, utilizing all the musical energy of Nervous Gender had in its reserve with inspired angst killed it by leveling the audience with “Gestalt”. The aftermath was a crowd that got what they came for and left happily after passing through the turbine like nexus of Nervous Gender’s raw delivery of angst driven Proto-Synthpunk.




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