Posts Tagged ‘New York

12
Sep
12

Jayne County Turns the Vipor Room Out and Over!

All Photos by Billy Bennight for Extravagant Behavior

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!


31
May
12

Silverlake Jubilee: In the Mean times…

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

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

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

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

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

28
Apr
12

New Yawk Exiles Rumble At Johnny Thunder Tribute at the Satellite

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

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

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

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

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

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

09
Nov
11

Eve To Adam: Taki Take Me with You!

I was recently able to extract myself from a maelstrom of activities here on the “Eastside” of Los Angeles to meet and photograph East Coast Rock music phenomenons Eve To Adam. Taki Sassaris fronts this power driven Alternative Rock ensemble hailing from New York. The Eve To Adam party started in earnest at the Rainbow Bar & Grill on a Wednesday evening just before their very first gig at the historic Whisky A Go Go. I would tell Taki later that it’s quiet an accomplishment to book a gig at the Whisky and a milestone in any bands trajectory to the top of music entertainment. So as the energy built to the gig we were treated to 3 of  The Rainbow’s 4 food groups: Pizza, Wings and Booze! I have to say The Rainbows pizza is really good and I’m not much of a pizza fan. So there was 3 of us photogs waiting in the wings and it was on for the photo ops, in that friendly competitive drive to catch the great shots, as we do. So we headed to the parking lot of the Rainbow to do group shots with the talent and the suits. I have to admit records execs aren’t as “Suity” as film execs. Eve To Adam were true pros when it came to photo ops. Taki is a natural for the camera and was always on it! Taki brought it much in the same way Moby had a few weeks back at Kopeckian Gallery for me. We all were standing there when Sebastian Bach strides up to the Rainbow, Rocking his Rock N’ Roll gear. He was about to enter the Rainbow and turns to blow the guys a kiss, only within seconds to find himself in the midst of paparazzi photog flash heat. Talk about another pro, Sebastian took control, much to eveyone’s joyous response, jumping right into the middle of our set-up, delivering all the Rock god poses and looks! I got some awesome shots of Eve To Adam with Sabastian. From there on I followed Sebastian to lock in a classic shot of him and Mike Weber at the entrance at the Rainbow. The party continued on the well known front patio. We photogs haunted the front entrance of the Rainbow for a bit talking of NYC fashion week and whatnots. Then I wanted to soak up a couple of cocktails and hang with my home girl, Karen. I guess that was a good idea because I was soon hearing stories from the guy that made the Ratt‘s (aka, Mickey Ratt) Round and Round video. Hearing the story of Ratt’s wrap party at the Rainbow for the Round and Round video that stared Milton Berle would have curled hairs. You know me, just a fly on the wall, sucking in the details. Soon after that I got together with Taki to shoot some specific shots. I brought up his new Romantic advice blog “Ask Taki” at The Comet. We shared some stories getting to know one another while having a few laughs and snagging some choice photos! I noticed that Stephanie Mata was running the door of On The Rox at the Roxy. I hadn’t seen her in forever. I had to drop by for a quick catch up and a few fun photos before we all headed to the Whisky. I first partied at On The Rox with “White Trash Wins Latto” by Andy Prieboy and Rita D’Albert of Lucha Vavoom in an after party after the White Trash performance and before the real after party up in the Hollywood hills at Dave Foley‘s house.

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The cornerstone of what Eve To Adam has to deliver is in their live performance. It was a big night at the Whisky with some 6 bands in the line up with ETA set for an 8;30pm show. The place had good attendance with a mix of young and old ready for the music. Being a veteran of the Whisky, I perched near the back stage door on the balcony. I wanted to get an overview of the action from there first. Besides, that part of the Whisky is nice and dark keeping it on the downlow for that room. I ate up the first 3 songs on top with ETA laying out the groove, guitars blazing and drums pounding with Taki commanding the stage with songs from the new CD, Banquet For A Starving Dog. It showcased Taki’s power driven vocals with ETA’s hit “Run Your Mouth” with its hooky course and “Fault line” with it’s Randy Rhoads influenced riffy guitar leads were shaking things up! Then I joined in on the Rockin’ on the floor. As they say, I was up above it and now I was down in it! Taki is a great front man and the band had tons of energy to spare to take charge of the stage. The crowd, some of which were already fans, and those who were being won over by such a solid and Rockin’ set; all pulled in closer and tighter.  Taki took a moment to reach out to the audience, taking about the music and conversationally relating to everyone there how he was digging the LA scene. There’s one thing I know for sure about New Yorkers, they know how to party! ETA brought it! New Yorkers are brisk, big hearted and a hell of a lot of fun! I know because of my friend Pat Giordano bassist of Last Days and a New York “Club Kid”, Toni Koystyan, I dated for a while. Taki kept it “New York Real” and launched in the the last part of Eve To Adam’s set keeping it dynamic and energetic. Favoring us with every element of his vocal ability, bringing the power and beauty together with his voice in the songs like “Stay” and “Glasses High”, while proving he had grit and passion in songs like “Little Say” and “Reach”. “Reach” closed the set delivering a sucker punch that made the fan howl and cheer!

I was fortunately over to the right side finishing up the photo work when ETA closed where Chuck Zito of Oz and Charlie Sheen‘s ex-body guard was soaking the last drops of this hot set. Chuck was totally ready for his photo op too. I shot a fast one then headed out to shoot everybody vibing off of the Strip and the Whisky A Go Go! The band and Chuck locked arms to Rock the corner of the Whisky, rallying memories for me of all of those epic bands that have shaken the walls of the music institution for the last half century. Once the photographs were done Taki and crew spent time with their fans for autographs and photos. Chuck Zito broke down some DL on Charlie Sheen. So it was quite a star studded evening and event that burned bright on the Sunset Strip that night. I enjoyed getting to know this New York based band who has the chops to make it big and to catch them balls out Rock us with their song craft, towering stage presence and to take in Taki’s vocal prowess. A good time was had by one and all!

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