11345, our little East Bay music family

Wrote this for the 1999 release of the 11345 Records compilation, Horseshoes & BBQ’s.

The 11345 story started in late 1993, when three young men looked northward to the Bay Area. They wondered aloud if life could be sweeter there than it was down in the sunny region of San Diego, where they were currently residing. What motivates such a 500 mile relocation? Women, of course. Patrick Secor was chasing a young, black clad “goth” woman, Sam O’Daniel was chasing his lovely fiancee, and Adam Gimbel was chasing two young ladies handling the fanclubs for musical acts Jellyfish and Redd Kross. The three were associated by coincidence, happenstance and friendship. Gimbel had done collegiate level radio with O’Daniel and worked at a major music retail establishment with Secor. They unified to make the exodus as a trio. O’Daniel and Gimbel pulled into town in January of 1994 and after an exhausting one week search for a suitable place to take up residence, called a number inquiring about a three bedroom flat in El Cerrito (just north of Berkeley) for just $800. The call was answered by a tropical fish store employee. They knew they’d found their home.

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1994 sign still intact in 2017

Looming large above several businesses (a nail care boutique and a facial care establishment in addition to the fishstore), El Cerrito Manor is located at 11345 San Pablo Ave, just across from Atlas Liquors, spitting distance from Target and just a stone’s throw from the El Cerrito Del Norte BART stop. Nestled on the border of rich, rolling suburban hills and one of the most dangerous “hoods” in America, as the city of Richmond was labeled in Rolling Stone shortly after the trio’s move-in), it simultaneously gave the appearance of extremely posh digs AND street credibility thanks to an overgrown backyard, treacherous back staircase and breathtaking view of the five star Travelodge hotel . Although there are neighbors located on either side of the building, one is more or less free to make as much noise as is desired and that is exactly what happened there.

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Adam’s beautiful mess 1994

Shortly after arriving, O’Daniel, himself a gifted guitarist and part-time vocalist, answered an advertisement in a local publication and found himself in the company of one Geoff Bock, local resident and singer/songwriter extraordinaire. The two formed the band Tucker and, with Steve St. Cin and Jim Summers as the rhythm section, rehearsals commenced at 11345. The bedrooms were so big that an entire four piece rock unit (drums included) could fit comfortably inside. Before the band played a single gig, they placed in the top 25 spots of a Conan O’Brien national band search with a one shot video done in the corner of O’Daniel’s bedroom. The quality of the band’s material was such that the submitted song was soon out of the set!

sanpablopalooza1For its debut gig, the band played a set at the first ever gathering of local talent at the flat in August of 1994. Dubbed Sanpablopalooza, the event was a monumental undertaking and sister event to the “other” major alternative festival then touring America. The show was opened by the three guitar, no bass, rock force known as Cover Me Badd, consisting of the three roommates (Gimbel, Secor, O’Daniel) plus visiting friend and future 11345 resident, Mike Flinn. The band dared to play songs by The Brady Bunch and Camper Van Beethoven in the same set, even going so far as to play tunes by Smashing Pumpkins, the Temptations and Neil Diamond in the space of one medley. Tucker’s set went down like a firestorm, leaving many disbelieving the fact that it could actually be the band’s first performance.
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95 tuckerThe group started to play outside of the cozy comfines of the chateau 11345, performing memorable concerts on both sides of the Bay, including a memorable night where they reportedly “stole the show” from a laughable, yet up-and-coming band called Third Eye Blind (at least that’s what the 20 people who stuck around said and one of them was a young Bill Graham Presents employee that wanted to manage them based on that one performance). The band played out regularly and their circle of musician friends started to expand. The core group of friends rarely performed together outside of the regular celebrations at 11345. It was only at these gatherings that you could see such influencial local acts as Tucker, The Moore Brothers, Nova Come Home, Street Vendors (now called rar.), and Adam Gimbel, right alongside regional artists like Mike Flinn, Dan Buczaczer, Ripley Caine, and many others, all on one free bill.

94-acoustic-chanukahIn direct competition to alternative rock stations’ annual Christmas shows, the Acoustic Chanukah show was staged in December of 1994 with members of the inner circle of the 11345 scene all playing acoustically, including Tucker. The event marked the debut of the second scene supergroup: Beatnik Bitch. The acoustic trio (Secor on bongos, Flinn on sax and Gimbel on acoustic guitar) dressed all in black and sported sunglasses for the indoor nighttime set. Gimbel mainly used the act as a platform to spout “tongue-in-cheek” poetry (though rumors circulated that he took himself quite seriously) and perform an occasional “song”, like the cult hit “Killing Mr. Furley”, an ode to America’s favorite landlord’s suppression of Jack Tripper’s heterosexuality.

seis-de-mayoOnce enough time had elapsed, the organizers looked for an excuse to stage another event and, finding that their desired excuse didn’t fall on a Saturday, invented Seis De Mayo. Despite the early blasphemous accusations in the Hispanic press, the event was a huge success. The usual talent was assembled for the show with an in-between act soundtrack that included everything from “Born In East LA” and “La Isla Bonita” to bits of how-to speak Spanish tapes. The spirit was jovial (as most events with piñatas are) despite huge changes in some of the central acts of the scene.

beatnx11345 and Tucker founder Sam O’Daniel had left the band and had also left 11345 to pursue marriage. He was replaced on guitar by Carvel Bass and the already amazing band took a turn toward a more midwestern/country sound that cemented their place in rock history, despite the lack of a record deal, national following or full length album. Even more surprising, Secor was kicked out of Beatnik Bitch (now called Beat n X) midshow during their now-infamous “Drunk Bongo Player” number. The slack was taken up by the addition of San Diego costume assistant Summer Brannin and the dual acoustic guitar attack of the Street Vendors. Still, the performance was to be the band’s last as Gimbel was also soon to leave 11345.

el-cerrito-cdsIn the ensuing years, there were many inhabitants and bands that filtered in and out of the 11345 scene. The founding members have all followed separate paths:

  • A few short years after applying his bachelor degree to being a short order cook at a golf course, O’Daniel found himself working as a high powered computer industry bigwig, owning a home in Concord and playing father to two lovely children (one can only presume that his second child, still in utero as of this writing, will be equally as lovely as his first). His current studio project, The Foster Brothers, practices and records several times a year.
  • 95-sanpablopalooza1n2Gimbel had narrowly escaped the devastating earthquake that flattened his alma matter (California State University at Northridge) just days after his arrival in the Bay Area and took it as a sign to not pursue his audio production degree. The fanclub connections he had relocated north to pursue fizzled away by the time he arrived there. After stints as a rubber stamp technician in Berkeley and music management front office assistant in West Hollywood, he has settled into the position of being the CEO of the foremost antique automobile part locating guide publisher in the country. After stints in side projects like the Atlas Lickers and Suzanne & The Summerz, he has begun to perform acoustic solo shows under the pseudonym Adam The Gimbel.
  • Secor first moved to the Bay Area after raising necessary capital to release the first full-length release for multi-platinum hardcore punk rock outfit Blink 182 through his now-defunct label, Filter Records. After several critically acclaimed releases through Filter, Secor proved himself to be a true chameleon of rock, reinventing himself, once again, under the banner of 11345 Records, an obvious nod to the apartment that has helped shape an entire generation of music lovers. He has recently done session work, drumming with several local acts and has set up a worldwide online distribution center for his record label at 11345.com.
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The roommates n Shari Brukman outside Amoeba Records, 1994

11345 is still the hub of a thriving scene as creative artists continue to pass the aparment down to worthy inhabitants. The northwest suite has now been inhabited by Gimbel, Bock, and Flinn, considered by some to be the holy trinity of American songwriting. Secor has even moved back into the apartment’s familiar walls after a self-imposed exile (though tabloids report that he is planning to move out again). Rock historian Katie Skibinski recently created the 11345 website to document the scene’s history for generations to come.

h-&-bbqsAll-star extravaganzas were staged to celebrate the release of the 1999 compilation Horseshoes & BBQ’s, 11345 Records’ debut release. It is the first audio commemoration of the legendary circle of talented friends. Gimbel penned the still-unreleased title track for the album’s San Francisco record release party (later recorded by his band Rookie Card, see link below). Even strangers to the story of 11345 have instantly been intoxicated by its imagery of the early years of the scene that the song depicts. Close your eyes and imagine a living room packed with a group of people all committed to making and appreciating great musical art. In each corner of the room, compass points remind you of the global nature of life and each point (N, S, E & W) is surrounded with appropriate icons associated with each letter. Neil Diamond stares from the North, the Sesame Street gang supports the South, Elvis Presley guards the East wall and Wham carelessly whispers to you from the West corner.

Close your eyes and remember. Here’s hoping we never forget.


“Horseshoes & BBQ’s” (Gimbel)
Star Search Factor Songs 1999

Boxcar Willie tumbled off the tracks
near the end of the Richmond line.
He said “Now, move over shorty.
El Cerrito Del Norte looks like it would suit me fine.
Well, I’ve been saving up some wishes
for a store that sells some fishes
down San Pablo way.”
So he aimed his boots across the parking lot
and went heading for Target (pronounced in French)

Singin’
“Throw your horseshoes and barbeques in the air
and throw a Travelodge backyard party
like you just don’t care.”
All the shit kickers
come to Altas Liquors.
But, they don’t even compare
to the folks across the street and up the stairs.

They said “Well, you can stay with us
if you sing us a song.”
And he swore they wuzza heaven sent.
They said “We’ve got some extra room
down in the Twilight Zone
and we already pay cheap rent.”
Well, he faced the east corner of the living room
and he waved towards on Ohio.
He said “I’ll rock every compass point
that’s left on the walls
on the evening of Seis De Mayo.”

Beatniks and Vendors, Sandycoates and Tuckers
all can have a place to roam
and we’ll even leave a light on
just in case Nova comes home.

Well, your red and black kitchen
is lookin’ mighty bitchin’.
And how about those hardwood floors?
If you need a posh flat to stay tonight
just dial 2-1-5-6-2-2-4!

11345now

11345 2017

Also read “The least embarrassing first song ever written”, the tale of Gimbel’s song for the Horseshoes compilation, “Miss Right Now”.

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JELLYFISH TALE #5: HELLO, HELLO

Jellyfish Inspiral Carpets SDSU Backdoor 1991

Thought I kept a concert scrapbook, I never had an ad for this show until I found this recently on the San Diego Reader’s online archives. I had no idea the Inspirals played the Backdoor just two days before I saw them in Hollywood.

Jellyfish with Everything and If Tomorrow
The Backdoor at San Diego State University
Saturday, February 23, 1991

This was originally written for my Jellyfish site in 1996 when these memories were far fresher. Highly edited 21 years later with more than enough geeking out still intact. Yer welcome…

After months of loving their debut album, Jellyfish was finally coming back to southern California.  Who knows how I got San Diego concert news back in late 1990 (not from this brief mention in the SD edition of the LA Times) but I found out they were playing my hometown, which was only a two-and-a-half hour drive from where I was going to school in Los Angeles. Close enough. Someone in the band once told me that they, like many bands, just didn’t do well in LA. After doing early shows at Club Lingerie and the Roxy, they only did one more headlining show there, at the Palace in Hollywood in 1993.

Inspiral Carpets were playing said Palace the night before and I was going through a wicked Manchester phase.  Even Anglophiles Jellyfish weren’t immune, name-checking the Carpets onstage at one of their first shows, mentioning the Stones Roses in interviews and even covering “Fool’s Gold”.  My friend Jim, who’d introduced me to Jellyfish AND the Roses, came down for both shows from Santa Barbara, where he’d seen Jellyfish a few months earlier. After making us wait for two hours, the Inspirals opened with “Weakness” and induced instant pandemonium, immediately prompting a stage diver to land on my nose.
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90 kcr logoThe next day, Saturday, February 23, 1991, we picked up Jim’s girlfriend and future wife, Sonya, and drove down to San Diego State University, where I’d attended school the year before. The show was in a small downstairs room in the Aztec Center student union called the Backdoor, where bands like Talking Heads, the Ramones, Tom Waits, U2, the Replacements, Jane’s Addiction and Metallica had been playing since the early 70’s.  As a child, I’d watched The Black Stallion while going to summer camp there and, in late 1989, had seen Food For Feet play the same room.  Before the show, we walked across campus to visit radio station KCR, where I’d spent most of my freshman year. On the air was my old friend Jeff Motch, who would soon start 360 Magazine, design album covers and eventually own several successful restaurants around town. By the time we got back, there was a huge line to get into the show. I couldn’t believe how many people had heard of them. The album had been out less than six months but still hadn’t received much radio airplay.

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What the arcade next door probably looked like when I was seeing the Black Stallion at camp. Photo c/o http://universe.sdsu.edu/

I’d seen local opening act If Tomorrow, several times before. They brought the house down, closing with an epic cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”. The band came offstage excited about their version, until someone told them that someone who had worked with Pink Floyd was in the crowd and they quickly went from “Yeah!” to “We butchered it!” They were followed by an LA band called Everything who played a chugging, well-received set.

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SDSU Aztec Center c/o https://library.sdsu.edu/

We jockeyed for a decent spot and the anticipation ratcheted up. I’d never enjoyed watching a stage being setup so much before. First, you notice that all four of them are lined up at the front of the stage. Christmas lights are draped over the instruments. Here comes a bubble machine and sections of white picket fence to lean against the instruments. I couldn’t wait.

niko by hillary sloss

Niko Wenner, early 1990s, Palo Alto photo by Hillary Sloss

Out they come in 70’s outfits, of course. Having not seen them before, I didn’t notice that the guitarist looked a little different. It turns out that it wasn’t Jason Falkner, but, Niko Wenner, a Bay Area friend from the band Oxbow. Jason had dislocated his shoulder earlier the year before and when it acted up horribly in November, it required surgery. Wenner filled in for him from December to February of 1991. No one mentioned Jason that night, Wenner sounded great and I didn’t know the difference.  I’ve never seen any pictures or video from these shows but audio from a San Francisco show at Slim’s popped up on the Jellyfish media archive at http://jellyfish-archive.de.  It included a rare cover of Todd Rundgren’s “Couldn’t I Just Love You” I uploaded earlier this year.

The only snag the band hit was when they played a show in Long Beach recorded by the Westwood One Radio Network. Jason didn’t want any of the songs to be released as Jellyfish tracks unless he played on them. So, he went back into a studio and re-recorded the guitar and vocal parts, which were released as b-sides and in full on the 2012 live album Live at Bogarts. Wenner wasn’t thanked on the original release but was on future pressings.

Jellyfish-Live-At-Bogarts-Product-ShotThe band starts in and it’s not something from the album. I know I know it, but, I’m not sure from where. Wait, it’s “Hold Your Head Up” by Argent. Despite my classic rock childhood, I’d only recently heard it on the Queen’s Logic soundtrack. From there, they go right into their unreleased gem, “Hello”. Perfect rocking hooky guitar pop. I’m in heaven. I was wondering how this band with only one album was going to do a full set and they’re not disappointing.

91 jf backdoor ticket

It’s the THE JELLYFISHERS, damnit!

From there, they go RIGHT into “Calling Sarah”. Interesting, the first song they play off of the album is the last one on the record. Finally a breather in between songs. Some guy keeps yelling that there’s too much reverb on the snare. Andy sarcastically replies, “Thanks, pal.” Before we have time to think, they’re doing “King” and it’s glorious. The middle eight vocals are unreal. From there, we hear “I Wanna Stay Home”. Next, we get two more new songs. The first is “Mr. Late” and it’s incredible. The next is “Bye, Bye, Bye”. They’re doing a polka! This is too much.
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“She Still Loves Him” is the biggest rocker of the night. They mention that Chris Isaak is in town and Roger does a fun impersonation. Also, they just went to an outdated Chuck E Cheese style restaurant called Bullwinkle’s, where the puppets still sing Hall & Oates songs. Important stuff. Here comes another new one called “Marry Me” and, again, it’s as good as anything on the album. “Now She Knows She’s Wrong” follows it and the acoustic parts sound soooo good. They start into a lounge thing, no wait, it’s Player’s “Baby Come Back”!!!! They do a bit of it and go right into “Baby’s Coming Back”. Next up, they cover “Jet” by Wings. In the middle, Andy yells, “Ladies and gentlemen, Linda McCartney!” and Roger plays the solo horribly. The last notes go right into Badfinger’s “No Matter What”.  They rock out “All I Want Is Everything” and leave the stage.

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Aztec Center at SDSU Photo c/o https://as.sdsu.edu

The crowd goes nutso and gets them back out to play “The Man I Used To Be”. The band informs us that the Gulf War ground war has just started, as we’d all been fearing, so hopefully “this will send a scud missile straight to your heart”. “Into battle” would never sound so eerie. They follow it with a bit of “Let ‘Em In” by Wings. Too much! Saving their biggest radio hit for last, they segue right into “That Is Why”. They leave again and come back to people yelling for every 70’s band imaginable. Finally, in a brief moment of silence, someone yells out “Fleetwood Mac!” and Roger immediately starts playing “Go Your Own Way”, nodding as if to say “Oh, you want Fleetwood Mac?!” Our jaws drop as they actually do the….WHOLE….SONG. We were disappointed to find out later that a friend of theirs knew it was coming and yelled for it.  Still, an amazing closer.

We staggered away knowing the trip had definitely been worth it. I passed up buying a shirt with the circle logo on the chest and a square with the album cover’s bellybutton in the appropriate place but grabbed some stickers and a postcard to join their fanclub, the Jellyfish Army. We went out back to wait for the band and talked to Everything for awhile. They’d played together a few months earlier at the Roxy in Hollywood, where the drummer told me JF had done a hilarious Dennis DeYoung soundalike contest onstage.  Jellyfish had asked them to come down to open this show and, not long after, I saw them play a noontime set at my school, Cal State Northridge. Years later, singer Dave Ambrose found our site and recalled playing with them: “Both times we played our hearts out, both shows they blew our asses right off the stage. No band played tighter or sang better than those guys.”

We’d been hanging out near the backstage area awhile and it was getting late. As some current KCR DJ’s were excitedly telling me that they still played commercials I’d produced there, someone finally ran up and told us that the band had walked right out the front door. We rushed around to the front to see them chatting with fans. I wanted to ask Roger about their previous band, Beatnik Beatch, but couldn’t remember the name, accidentally asking him about Beat Happening. He knew what I meant but refused to remember. Andy was friendly and happy to tell us how they’d met Cheap Trick recently and that they hadn’t aged well. I told him he actually looked a little like Robin Zander and he replied, “Don’t say that!”

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Chris is alright, Tommy’s alright, Roger’s alright, Jason’s alright, Robin’s alright….

We talked a little bit about the covers in their set and he and Roger both agreed in unison. “Too many covers,” they said, shaking their heads. We reassured them that it was good fun and I asked if they’d ever consider doing a Beatles song. Andy said that Wings were a little more their speed, though they soon played a bit of “Rain” during a rainy MTV taping and covered “Eleanor Rigby” on Japanese television in 1993.  They told us about a recent interview they were “FREAKING OUT” about where Kurt Loder had mentioned them in an interview with Paul McCartney. I’d always wanted to find it but- oh, hello, internet.

It was the nicest conversation I ever had with Andy, so, naturally, I ruined it by asking for his autograph. No one seemed to have a pen, so I started to run back to my car, only to realize halfway there that I hadn’t driven. When I got back, someone had found a pen and lacking any paper, I had him sign the back of a coupon I had for Mexican restaurant La Salsa. It reads “Adam-An official Flying Burrito Brother. Andy”.
91 andy autograph

Jellyfish returned to SDSU just four months later, opening for the Black Crowes at the Open Air Ampitheater, where I’d gone to my very first show back in 1984. Although I moved back to San Diego in 1995, I never saw another show at the Backdoor, though I did see the Grays’ Buddy Judge play guitar with Liz Phair upstairs at Montezuma Hall. They closed down the room for concerts in 1997 and it became a meeting space before the amazing midcentury student union built in the sixties was sadly demolished to make way for a brand new student center in 2011.

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2011 demolition photo c/o http://newscenter.sdsu.edu/

Sooooo, after waiting for months to see Jellfyish, they’d gone way beyond expectations and I couldn’t wait to see them again. Little did I know I’d see them another twelve times in just three years. To my surprise, I got to see them less than two weeks later….

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GROOVE IS IN THE HEART: the samples

unherd

Photo by Ricardo

Locally produced ABC-TV music show, Unherd, just aired a Thanksgiving Special, inviting local viewers and musicians to fill-in for the regular hosts. They had me write something for the music history section normally hosted by radio veteran Mike Halloran. I was asked to relate it to A Tribe Called Quest since a review of their new album was preceding it, so I wrote about Q-Tip’s guest spot on Deee-Lite’s “Groove Is In The Heart”.

Despite the combination of my hastily assigned and written script, bad eyesight and a quick shoot in a dark graffiti park in front of a group of strangers, I managed to get through it in just 374 takes. They were nice enough to post amateur outtakes on Facebook with my mistake obviously hinting at how frustrated I was getting.  Definitely a HUGE newfound respect for folks who have to read tele-prompters.  Here’s the section with my piece and staff-writer Andrea’s Lou Reed history.

Lito did a great job with the graphics and editing. The only thing they left out was explaining why I bothered mentioning my BMG intern desk.  See if you can spot the Tribe promo album flat.
deskThe short piece was only 100 words long which was quite an exercise in editing, especially for such an interesting tune. Here’s the 291 words it started out as……

Born out of the late 80’s New York dance clubs, Deee-Lite preached
global unity with a diverse lineup made up of Russian immigrant Dmitry
Brill (Supa DJ Dmitry), Japanese design student Dong-hwa Chung (who
became Towa Tei) and frontwoman Kierin M. Kirby, better known as Lady
Miss Kier.  Often dismissed as a one hit wonder, their debut album
World Clique is a layered dancefloor masterpiece from front to back
and they topped the US dance charts six times in their short five year
recording career.  None of the singles nearly matched the hook-filled
worldwide success of their debut, “Groove Is In The Heart”, which hit
#1 in Australia and was voted single of the year by the staff of both
NME and The Village Voice.

Jonathan Davis (the Q-Tip one not to be confused with the singer from
Korn) saw the band perform the song at the Hotel Amazon in New York
and asked if he could rhyme on the recording.  He wrote his 16 bars on
a notepad while famed Parliament bassist Bootsy Collins laid down his
bass part and then recorded his rap in just one take.  Collins also cut a
rap that found its way onto the song’s remixes and recruited famed
James Brown bandmates, horn players Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley to
play on the track.  Almost everything else on the song was sampled
from a wide-ranging selection of sources from a belly-dance
instruction record to Eva Gabor sighing “I” on the Green Acres theme.
Most of the song is anchored on two samples, the bassline from the
Herbie Hancock song “Bring Down the Birds” from the 1966 soundtrack
album Blowup and 70’s R&B singer Vernon Burch’s “Get Up” for the
song’s drums, tambourine, crowd noise and famous (whistle) which kept
the world’s slide whistle industry in the money for years.

Here’s a Youtube playlist I put together of the songs sampled in “Groove”…

Sample breakdown c/o Wikipedia:

  • Bel-Sha-Zaar with Tommy Genapopoluis and the Grecian Knights – “Introduction” from the album The Art of Belly Dancing, 1969, Gateway: GSLP 3527 (intro music, vocal sample: “We’re going to dance, and have some fun“)
  • Herbie Hancock – “Bring Down the Birds” from the soundtrack album Blowup, 1966 (bassline)
  • Vernon Burch – “Get Up” from the album Get Up (drums, crowd noise, slide whistle)
  • Ray Barretto – “Right On” from the album Barretto Power, 1972 (cowbell)
  • Theme from the TV series Green Acres (vocal sample: looped “I” sample (“I-i-i-i-i-i“), sung by Eva Gabor)
  • Ralph MacDonald – “Jam on the Groove” from the album Sound of a Drum, 1976 (percussion)
  • Billy Preston – “Uptight” from the album Wildest Organ in Town!, 1966 (breakbeat under rap by Q-Tip)
  • The Headhunters – “God Make Me Funky” from the album Survival of the Fittest, 1975 (drum fill)

adam-drink

THE STORY BEHIND THE ONLY PHOTO OF ME DRINKING ALCOHOL: Some musician friends of mine decided to have their wedding reception at the legendary Lafayette Hotel in San Diego. It was a great night but when it came time for us to dance, the DJ they’d hired slowly began to ruin things. Time after time, right when he’d get a ton of excited, happy dancers going, he’d cut away to something that would empty the dancefloor and punctuate it with a “Lookin’ good out there!” on the mic. Finally, when he played “Groove Is In The Heart”, a song the bride and I had talked about dancing to earlier, I ran over and BEGGED him not to cut it short. About 90 seconds in and WAY before Q-Tip’s rap, he segued into Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and immediately cleared the place. ENTER SANDMAN!? I started SCREAMING at him until people had to hold me back. I don’t drink. EVER. I grabbed someone’s beer and went back to the empty dance floor and sat down, yelling “LOOK what ya did!” I hate to name names but this man is known as The Party Rican. “I’m a Puerto Rican that loves to party. Get it?…The Party Rican!” Yep, we get it. I was so inspired by how proud he was of his heritage that I almost started using the name “Jew Gotta Fight For Your Right To Party” when I DJ’d friends weddings. Almost.

Thanks again to everyone at Unherd TV for the invite!

OH, CAROLINE NO. REMEMBERING CAROLINE CRAWLEY

Lost my breath when I read about Caroline Crawley’s recent passing. What a voice to be silenced.  It was hard enough knowing how little of her adult life was spent singing publicly. Seems fitting to finally repost what I wrote close to twenty years ago about Babacar appearing on the Songs For Summer charity record…..

When your name is Summer, you see your name everywhere. Summer vacation, summer camp, summer everything. Most importantly, you have lots of songs with your name in it. When I first met Summer, I asked her what her favorite summersong was and she replied “Summer Flies” by Shelleyan Orphan. At that point, I knew it was over.shelleyan1

Shelleyan Orphan was a British band whose baroque, almost classical sound is beautiful beyond description. Not your typical rock. They’re credited with influencing bands like The Sundays and The Cranberries but those bands aren’t even in the same league. Singer Caroline Crawley is one of the most talented singers to ever sing a note. You may have heard her vocals on This Mortal Coil songs but the band’s biggest claim to fame (at least in America) was that they opened for the Cure on the Disintegration tour in 1989. If I’m not mistaken, it was on this tour that Cure drummer Boris Williams met Shelleyan singer Caroline Crawley.

I saw that tour in San Diego. My friends and I dressed up goth. I looked more like Ian Astbury from the Cult with short hair. Summer tried to be goth for a few months but all she ended up doing was wearing magenta and listening to Sisters of Mercy a lot. I don’t remember much about the Cure’s show other than LOTS of smoke but I remember LOVING Shelleyan Orphan and losing my friend Jim’s father’s fake earring during their set. After the show, we saw some members of the band walking anonymously through the crowd. It almost seemed like a bet that they wouldn’t get noticed even though they’d just played in front of thousands of people. We chased after them to tell them how great we thought their set was and they seemed genuinely flattered.

shelleyan2I couldn’t believe it when Summer told me how much she loved “Summer Flies”. The fact that she’d even heard of the band was good enough for me. I remember writing a letter to the afforementioned Jim to tell him that I’d started dating a girl named Summer and her favorite summersong was “Summer Flies”, just to make him jealous. He responded with a tape that had one side filled with summersongs. I filled up the other side with more and gave it to her.

The band put out three great albums and then disappeared. Summer was always on the lookout for information about them but never heard anything. While we were on vacation in New York City, she excitedly ran up to me in a record store carrying a cd by a band called Babacar. It had a sticker that said it featured Caroline Crawley. Then she pointed to the best part: the name of the song featured on the British single was “Midsummer”. Too much. Not surprisingly, the song was amazing, as many people who love Songs For Summer have told me. The single had very little information about the band and we never heard anything else about them.

After Summer passed away, one of the first things I did was make a mixtape of some of her favorite songs to give to family and friends. I HAD to include “Summer Flies”. I wanted to put the song on Songs For Summer but I looked into it fairly late and the red tape was pretty thick. By chance, an e-mail I’d written fell into the hands of Brad Morrison, the man who had handled the band’s American affairs for ten years. He also released an entire Babacar album on his label, Absolute A Go Go Records. It turns out that Babacar was mainly Caroline and Boris but they enlisted the help of Jem from Shelleyan and Porl Thompson from the Cure among others. He was touched by Summer’s story and suddenly “Midsummer” was as good as on the record. He phoned Caroline and Boris in England and they instantly agreed to let us use the song.

I don’t remember how it came up but Brad told me that when he first met his wife, she mentioned the band Big Star (one of Summer’s favorite bands) and he knew she was the one for him. Great minds. Is that so wrong?

More Summer tales here.

THE BEATLES’ REVOLVER ALBUM ART

Revolver turns 50 today. Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band topped most Greatest Album Ever™ lists when I was a kid. But, with less and less rock writers around who were there when Pepper revolutionized ears, less-biased rock fans have declared Revolver the band’s best LP in MUCH bigger numbers for 20 or 30 years. I’m on that team. As a small child, I was obsessed with my Dad’s copy, listening to side one ENDLESSLY before ever turning it over. It wasn’t until high school that a mod kid at school told me that some of the best songs were left off of the US version of the album.  He was right.  “Doctor Robert”. “I’m Only Sleeping”. “And Your Bird Can Sing”!

rev out nowThere’s just something magical about 1966. Rock had a few post-Beatlemania years to evolve and it was just before things got a little too flowery and mustache-heavy there.  Things were raw and arty and rocking and stylish all over.  The Beatles pushed the boundaries of the studio so far that they went out for their farewell tour that year without being able to perform a single song from their new album.  They went from “She Loves You” to “Tomorrow Never Knows” in just three years, dragging all of pop culture along with them.

Robert Freedman, who had photographed the band’s last five album covers and took many famous pictures of the band creating Revolver at Abbey Road (collected in the 1991 book Revolver Sessions), came up with a fantastic circular photo collage that was fitting for the times and the album title. There’s little or no information on whether or not it was actually commissioned or why it wasn’t used but the band apparently wanted something different. As Freeman’s interests turned to film around this time, he never did another Beatles album cover.  His proposed design did appear in the band’s 2000 Anthology book. A fan created a white background for what the album might’ve looked like as an actual Capitol LP.
rev_freeman_lpTheir old Hamburg friend, Beatle haircut innovator and fellow ex-art college student Klaus Voormann had recently moved to London and John Lennon invited him to listen to the Revolver tracks in progress and come up with something for the album’s visual.  John and Paul searched through a huge stack of newspapers, magazines and Robert Freeman shots with childhood friend Pete Shotton to supply Voormann with actual photos to place over his sketches.  He drew the classic lines over the course of three weeks on a kitchen table in an attic flat for the whopping fee of £50. The main large portraits were done from memory but since he was never happy with how he drew George’s eyes, he used cut outs of a newspaper photograph’s eyeballs instead. He also inserted himself, peeking out of George’s hair under John’s chin.

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Klaus Voorman’s evolving Revolver sketches

Before John, Paul and Shotton had their photo party at John’s house, Voormann must’ve done his own archive scrapbooking for his earlier mock-up because he recalls Paul being surprised when he spotted a picture of himself on the toilet taken in Paris when he first presented it to the powers that be at George Martin’s office at EMI in Manchester Square. Paul was shocked at first then loved it but George Martin and Brian Epstein wouldn’t allow it to stay.
rev paul toiletrev aftermath paulAccording to Voormann, “Then they started talking about it. Everybody loved it, George loved it, John loved it, Ringo loved it. I looked at Brian, who was standing in the corner and he was crying… I thought, Oh no… what is he doing? He came up to me and said, ‘Klaus, this is exactly what we needed. I was worried that this whole thing might not work, but I know now that this the cover. This LP, will work – thank you.'”

The album was famously almost named “Abracadabra” but they supposedly caught wind that someone else was using it as an album title…or perhaps they predicted the Steve Miller Band heating up by about 15 years.  Ringo apparently suggested “After Geography” as a play on the Rolling Stones’ Aftermath.  Of course, someone online mocked it up.  Thanks, Ear Candy Magazine.
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The back of the LP used a photograph taken by Robert Whitaker from the set of their “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” studio promo films.  Several pictures from the session appeared on albums and bootlegs including this stunning color shot with Paul covering his still cracked tooth from a motor scooter accident.  It’s an interesting reminder that their first real psychedelic album had purely black and white album artwork.  Just add LSD and wear sunglasses so George looks like Keef and no one knows that’s happening. Wink.
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US alternate artwork

US alternate artwork

Uncropped version from back cover

Uncropped version from back cover with John Sebastian instead of Lennon

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Voormann won the Grammy that year for Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts.  A talented bass player in his own right, he offered to replace Stu Sutcliffe before Paul switched to bass. After turning down joining the Moody Blues and the Hollies, he played with Manfred Mann, George Harrison, John Lennon, Lou Reed, BB King, Randy Newman, Jerry Lewis and dozens more. There was even a rumor after the Beatles split that they would reform as the Ladders with Klaus replacing Paul on bass. He designed album covers for artists as varied as the Bee Gees and Turbonegro and produced Trio’s Trio & Error album, a HUGE Yer Doin’ Great fave. He also designed the Beatles’ Anthology artwork. In 2008, for a Berlin art exhibition, he decorated a Volkswagen Beetle with wind-blown Revolver Beatles  Check out the great pictures of him taking pen to car at IHeartKlaus.com.  Info on his new book, Birth Of An Icon REVOLVER 50, can be found at Voormann.com.
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Rev 50 Cover Resize
For more info and great quotes from Voormann and the band about the album cover, check out the always great Norwegian Wood album cover page, a recent Guardian interview with Klaus and today’s Ulitmate Classic Rock piece.

Also, BUY THIS SHIRT from Go Ape Shirts (pictured below) and check out CCC’s incredible mashup album Revolved, most of which you can hear on this Youtube channel.  Genius and geniuser.
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BACK TO THE BEATLES ALBUM COVER OUTTAKE PAGE

Check out FAMOUS ROCK/ROLL IMAGE OUTTAKES VOL 1 and even MORE OUTTAKES on our Facebook page or our “BEATLESS” photo gallery full of rare, interesting pictures of that one band.  Make sure to “like” us to keep up on when we feel like sharing.

HOLY GRAILS

I recently came across a 1996 list of things I was looking for in the pre-YouTube era when I was trading tapes. A lot of them I’m posting on our Facebook page that I’ve seen or heard since then. There are still some elusive things that I haven’t found so I thought I’d put up this list of holy grails and add to it if I think of anything else.  Please let me know if you know where to see or hear any of these! Thanks.
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BEATLES Hard Day’s Night & Help movie outtakes, “Run For Your Live You” (??), Carnival of Light, In Spite of All the Danger (1993?!)
FRANK BLACK Picture or video from early 90’s solo tour with him strapping on multiple guitars
BLACK CROWES video of live show w/Andy Sturmer on percussion
LLOYD COLE “Billy Blake & the Eternals” Lloyd & Matthew Sweet doing covers
DILLON FENCE covering the Beatles “Rain”
GIGOLO AUNTS covering  “In The Street”
KRISTEN HERSH doing Big Star’s “Jesus Christ”
JELLYFISH Paul McCartney/Kurt Loder MTV interview that mentions Jellyfish(1990 or 91), “Couldn’t I Just Tell You” (Todd Rundgren cover), “Double Vision” (Foreigner cover), first half of Loveline (LA radio 1991), Wembley footage or photos (had a VHS copy & gave it away. Oops), Acoustic at Craig Lee benefit (?9/4/91 The Palace, LA), British magazine the Face w/article on INXS show at Wembley, 11/20/93 Broward County Fairgrounds, Hallandale, FL (last show ever)
LEMONHEADS E! segment on Evan (Tower Sunset instore 1993)
LETTERS TO CLEO covering Dillon Fence’s “Living Room Scene”
LOVE JONES Conan O’Brien video. Bassist Barry Thomas uploaded it!
LOVED ONES last show
JON LOVITZ The Please Watch the Jon Lovitz Special (1992)
MAGNAPOP doing Big Star’s “13”
MODEST MOUSE being introduced as MM tribute Timid Turtle by David Cross on TV show
NIRVANA  full video of Kurt vs. bouncer  from Trees in Dallas uncut including car chase afterwards,BBC radio show where Kurt does a bit of Blur’s “There’s No Other Way”
POSIES  doing the Beatles’ “Two of Us” (acoustic) or Big Star’s “Back of a Car”, video of them singing the national anthem (have it on VHS but someone should upload it)
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS early crazy MTV interview praising Andy Gill (possibly longer version of this), on some kids show lip-syncing on a bowling lane (whoa, CHRIS CAREY FOUND IT!).
REPLACEMENTS Show in Toronto where they wrote songs onstage.
RUGBURNS singing the national anthem before an LA Clippers game
SCHOOL OF FISH KROQ acoustic show 1991
SLOAN Foxy Inc. boot
SMASHING PUMPKINS    any of the three Bay Area Lolla sets 1994
RINGO STARR Time Takes Time video EPK
STREET VENDORS live show
SUNDAYS early 1987, 1988 shows
MATTHEW SWEET  12/22/91 Live 105 acoustic show, Tower Sunset instore (or any instores w/”Countdown” by Lindsey Buckingham or “Isolation” by John Lennon), live @ McCabe’s (LA),  “When We Pretend We’re Dead” by L7
VERUCA SALT covering the Bee Gees “Holiday”
WONDER STUFF  any interesting Miles Hunt hosting 120 Minutes for Euro MTV.
THE (FAKE) ZOMBIES Had them lip-syncing on TV and stupidly gave it away

LITTLE RICHARDS/SCHIZOPHONICS EURO INVASION, PART 1

At my age, I’d long given up the dream of someone walking up to me out of nowhere and asking me to join an amazing band to tour Europe. Last September, I got asked to join TWO amazing bands on the California Dreaming invasion of Spain and Italy. It’s been over six months but I finally got around to putting my pictures, words and videos from when I was there in one place. Also included a lot of great stuff that other folks were nice enough to share.  The first part covers our first nine shows in Spain. little flyer
I can finally share this good news. I’m going to play bass, sing and dance with the Schizophonics and El Vez’s allstar tutti fruitastic revue the Little Richards in Spain and Italy through most of October. They needed someone and I randomly ran into guitarist Pat at a show a couple of weeks ago. He thought I’d be fun to have on tour, so I’ve been practicing on Kevin Gossett’s borrowed bass, trying to exercise and shunning tortillas in anticipation of playing two sets a night with a bunch of people going crazy onstage. The Little Richards play rocked out covers by wop-bop-alula-a-you-know-who, complete with choreography. Every single song is introduced exactly like this: “Hey, everybody. We’re the Little Richards. My name is Little Adam. This is a song by Little Richard called….” The Schizophonics are a fuzzed-out husband/wife-led trio packed with not-to-be-believed one armed jumping bean guitarist insanity. I’ve always felt bad for anyone who had to stand next to Pat up there. Now it’s gonna be me, at least for this tour. I’m in charge of posting updates while we’re slaying Europe, doing about 20 shows in 25 days, at https://www.facebook.com/TheLilRichards so give ’em a like. We’ll be announcing the dates there soon which cover a good chunk of Spain and a week in Italy playing Milan and a bunch of smaller towns. Back to studying 30 songs…right step left step right step left step….

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Pat’s great tour flyer

Justin airport photo

Justin airport photo

What I didn’t mention when I took the job is that I’ve never really played bass.  I can barely play guitar.  But they’d already rescheduled this tour and everyone they asked couldn’t do it.  I knew everyone in the band already and loved the music so it was a great last minute solution. I was in between living situations and needed a vacation.  The timing couldn’t have been better.  I ran every morning for three and a half weeks, lost 15 pounds, listened to 30 songs nonstop, got a passport, bought polka dot shirts, convinced them to do a Velvet Underground version of “Kansas City”, practiced like crazy, played a warmup show with the Schizos and got halfway decent in less than a month.  There was only one problem: “Jenny Jenny”, which required nonstop kicks while doing a walking bassline and almost drove me insane. I learned it kicking on the wrong beat and couldn’t get my brain to make the switch. After a lot of pushing and practice, I finally got it. Still can’t believe it.

Just touched down in Jersey. Uneventful flight. Jerks behind me kicked my chair nonstop.

Just touched down in Jersey. Uneventful flight. Jerks behind me kicked my chair nonstop.

Watching Nick Cave documentary 20,000 Days on Earth at 20,000 feet over the Atlantic as the sun comes up bright red.

Watching Nick Cave documentary 20,000 Days on Earth at 20,000 feet over the Atlantic as the sun comes up bright red.

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Footage shot & edited by Walter Graham. Tour graphics added by Marcelo Fioramonit.

MADRID

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Amazing feats of strength. Photo by Lety

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A bit overhyped but still muy bueno. Letyfoto

Arrived safely in beautiful Madrid! Had a day to wander around, eating chocolate dipped churro and drinking bueno wine, sangria and beers. Polka dots are everywhere to herald our arrival, even plastered on the walls. La Fiambrera art gallery was full of our favorite Americana pop artastic type stuff, including a dead ringer for Little Diana. Our poor downstairs neighbors had to hear us working on our heavy-footed dance moves. Packing up for Bilbao tonight. First up is Diana Death Y Sus Novios with Robert on guitar and Justin on drums, then comes the Schizophonics and then we all change into polka dots and emerge as the Little Richards at the end. See you there!!!
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CLICK TO SEE MORE PICS

MADRID/SHOW #1 BILBAO

First show

First show

Woke up and met our London based Spaniard tour maestro, Kike Louie. For all of my Jewish friends and family, that’s pronounced KEE-KAY. After 20 plus years of doing this, he agreed to put this tour together as a last hurrah. He set up all of the details with clubs and hotels, drives us and keeps everything together. It’s nothing short of amazing having someone like him running the show.

Leaving Madrid til tomorrow night. Beautiful drive up to Bilbao with a stop at the nicest truck stop on earth for health food and chips with a handle. We are being absolutely spoiled starting the tour in the beautiful Kafe Antzokian theater. Shirts and Polish keyboard are set to rock!  CLICK FOR MORE PICS
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Facebook video of Lety with the theater’s video marquee

The debut of the tour t shirts!

The debut of the tour t shirts!

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Diana Death Y Sus Novios at sound check. First show of the tour prep!

Facebook video of the first song of the tour

DENA FLOWS SNAPS DIANA DEATH Y SUS NOVIOS
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Video c/o Alberto Arzua Arrugaeta

Justin quad photo. "First night of tour. Load in, crowd packed in, free beern', schizos rockn'"

Justin quad photo. “First night of tour. Load in, crowd packed in, free beern’, schizos rockn'”

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 11.57.52 PMHOT SCHIZOPHONICS SHOTS BY DENA FLOWS

The Schitzophonics, Kafe Antzokia, Bilbao, 1/X/2015. Foto por Dena Flows

The Schitzophonics, Kafe Antzokia, Bilbao, 1/X/2015. Foto por Dena Flows

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Amazing drawing of Pat by Pieded Ortiz

Kike's photo of the mercy a few days before it all got sold.

Kike’s photo of the merch before it all got sold.

Great shot by Piru Lamiako from Bilbaoenvivo's rare review. Click to read it en espanol.

Great shot by Piru Lamiako from Bilbaoenvivo’s rave review. Click to read it en español.

Whoa!  Just found a Facebook album with more of Piru’s great pictures from that night!
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Justin photo of our daily Tetris life

Justin photo of our daily Tetris life

First night is THAT good?! Holy moly. We all played shockingly great and a packed theater gave us mucho amor. Incredible! If anyone took video or photos, please share!  I didn’t mention it while we were there but it might’ve been the very first night where I earned my tour name “Jamón”, Spanish for ham. Being new to the bass and having to sing and dance at the same time kept my moves to a minimum. I look like I’m standing still next to these crazies when I watch video now. I ended up walking upstage more than I meant to and found myself throwing facial expressions like I’d watched Robert’s backup singers do for years.  To be called a ham by these spazzes is saying a lot. I tried seeing how far my cable would let me get up some stairs near the side of the stage and just ended up climbing on top of the staircase pedestal.  Look at MEEEEEEEEE. Jamón it is, then.

Went outside and it was POURING rain. Kids outside of clubs and churches, drinking and singing all night (even now at 2am). Spain is putting the USA parties to shame! Hotel is amazing, as is Justin’s sleeping shirt and the fact that our mini bar has the Fanta Limon *in a glass bottle* I looked for all day yesterday. Triumphant return to Madrid tomorrow to play Rock Palace!   CLICK FOR MORE PICS , video of Lety and a video marquee


INCREDIBLE BILBAO LITTLE RICHARDS PHOTOS BY DENA FLOWS

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Post-show dog pile. Photo by Lety

BILBAO/SHOW #2 MADRID

Justin photo of Pat getting eaten by a spider

Justin photo of Pat getting eaten by a spider

Oh do we love Bilbao. Just look at the pictures outside of the theater we played last night. Did we mention Kike’s parking job? Not to be believed so I got proof. I didn’t write about it at the time but somehow someone broke into the van and made a mess of what little they could get to. In the end, the only things that were stolen was the art print we’d bought for Diana and Kike’s driving gloves. A HUGE bullet to dodge. We had time to walk around the town near the river and the amazing Guggenheim museum this morning before heading back to Madrid. Going onstage in a few seconds in a tiny 1977 punk loving club about 1/10th the size as last night in a much bigger city. Gonna be some sweaty polka dots! CLICK FOR MORE PICS

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Listening. The most important part of soundcheck.

Two nights of roconrol in a row, tying a previous record for this band. We didn’t think we’d have enough room for our choreography last night but we kicked it just fine. Rock Palace was a blast, especially meeting all of Kike’s hometown friends plus Tony the Tiger and Mateo who are also visiting from San Diego. So strange to see friends halfway around the world. We weaved our way back to the hotel through throngs of late night partiers to our sleek, modern suite. On our way to Leon for a late midnight show followed by a 1pm outdoor show in Aranda. iROCONROL!
RUTA 66’S REVIEW (much more fun via Google Translate)
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Tony shot us! First live evidence with Little Diana killing Ooh! My Soul so hard in Madrid that it blew Little Adam out the emergency exit….twice.


Facebook video of Schizophonics doing “Put Your Weight On It” on Facebook, thanks to Beat-riz Saru.

MADRID/SHOW #3 LEON

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Loadin’ in Leon. Photo by Lety

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What a night in Leon. Dinner at the amazing Mongogo. Mexican food with a twist dressed up in Zebra print, Spanish horror movie posters and the best bathroom door gender indicators….EVER. The menu looked like a Deadbolt album and our host excitedly ran off to show me her DB patch. I’d asked Kike that afternoon if there was good Mexfood in Spain that very day, so to have such incredible nachos, burritos n margaritas that night via a chef from Brooklyn was unreal. The show at Club Valentino, a strip club straight out of the 60’s, was red hot. The working girls seemed a little put out to have us interrupt their normal routine but grinned once we started. Featured dancer Cindy let me wear one of her dresses. Bandmates wouldn’t let me. Dreams dashed. Recreated all of my favorite Showgirls moves instead. (Ed note: Six months later, my tongue still hasn’t fallen off from licking the pole….yet). The aforementioned Cindy did an unreal routine during one LR tune and I woke up with Jesus & Marychain’s “Taste of Cindy” in my mouth. Constan spun amazing music all night and made it hard to load gear instead of dancing. PICSScreen Shot 2016-05-30 at 12.28.04 AMSFW Lety pole video

Shot of the tour. Sent to me a week or two later.

Shot of the tour. Sent to me a week or two later by Carlos Puente Alvarez .

LEON/SHOW #4 ARANDA
We finally settled in at our hostel around 4:30am in Leon, knowing that we had to load out our gear from the club the next morning at Valentino and then be onstage in Aranda in just nine hours. We weren’t sure what kind of set up there would be in the small town square but it was a cool truck with a fold-out stage and the sound guys knew what they were doing. Phew. Hundreds of townfolks came out for it, including little kids who were dancing along with our choreography. We shouldn’t have even been functional but ripped it up anyways. Kike got this shot of us and video of “Rocker” by those Australian Young bros including some nifty gravity-defying running man work by Little Robert and a great shot of the crowd at the end at http://youtu.be/R_KLdPMLfgU . We were then taken to a nearby park for mounds of fresh bbq lamb ribs and wine to celebrate our whirlwind tour intro. Despite hopes of fighting off sleep to keep our schedule normal, almost everyone napped well into the night in our Burgos hostel. Little Adam and Little Lety had stayed awake, so they brought back pizza for everyone and watched Highlander in Spanish. PICS
Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 12.34.41 AMYes! Tour maestro Kike Louie got video of our midday freak out in Aranda today on next to no sleep. Check out little Roberto’s amazing aerial act! We earned a couple of days off to correct our internal clocks (four of us are currently still “napping” at 9:30pm including zzzzzzzz

BURGOS DAY OFF

BURGOS

Garage on a hill in Burgos. Colors are amazing almost everywhere you look.

Our first day off in Burgos started with us all on different sleep schedules. Since only two of us have mobile access, we spent a couple of days not knowing what the others were doing in different combinations. Our hostel had good coffee, croissants, 80s floor patterns and views. After fueling up there, I wandered off by myself and found good middle eastern food served by a guy in an LA shirt that didn’t know what it stood for. It cost money to see the enormous town cathedral so I just took a couple of pictures from the entryway and in the gift shop where I strangely heard “So Lonely”. The whole city is one beautiful classic or modern colored building after another. Weather has been nice and cool with the occasional drizzle. The Plaza Mayor was closed for siesta so we returned later for the first of many drinks in several bars. Kike gave us the 411 on all the spots in his hometown. We ended up at Pecora, a rock n roll bar where we spent hours playing pinball, eating peanuts, misplacing an iPad, finding it (phew) and listening to incredible vinyl spun by our bartender in between serving drinks. PICS
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Boys of the Burgos Bar. Photo by Lety

Boys of the Burgos Bar. Photo by Lety

Awesome Flaimin Groovies mural at a bar! Lety foto

Awesome Flamin’ Groovies mural at a bar! Lety foto

SECOND BURGOS DAY OFF
Second day off in Burgos started similarly after we slept off our wine consumption.  We were awoken early to the news that the Schizophonics had won a San Diego Music Award for Best Live Act. We’d talked about different things we could do if they won, including filming a video but, in the end, got the news the morning after the ceremony.  Longtime friend and 91X DJ Mike Halloran accepted on their behalf.  It was definitely a kick to be halfway across the world, showing people why they are the best band in San Diego.Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 10.50.55 AM

 

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Photo by Dan Chusid

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“His nickname, Jam`on, with his lamb kabob.” Lety foto

I was the only one ready to venture out when I finally left at 2:30pm. Crazy Factory, a cool small shop around the corner was open so I peeked my head in and perused all their cool US/UK pop culture stuff. With all of the anarchy and Communist sickle graffiti we’ve been seeing, I couldn’t pass up a Germlins/Kremlins shirt. They even had a huge roll of polka dot gift wrapping paper and Mario was nice enough to get a shot of me with it then plug our show with a post on their FB page. Quite the celebrity sighting. I headed for the trees on the hill overlooking the town until I finally came to a huge empty clearing. The building on the other side turned out to be a bird study center. After some falafel, most of us got another workout going up to a castle. Then, when passing through an entryway near the cathedral, I ducked into a doorway which took us up olde stone stairs to an incredible museum which had an exhibit of old medicine jars and recent line drawings done on napkins. All that walking earned us an amazing meal of kebabs and sangria back at Plaza Mayor. Afterwards, we stayed in with Keef’s recent WTF interview and got ourselves ready for 12 straight nights of WROCK. MORE PICSScreen Shot 2016-05-30 at 12.44.03 AM

Burgos hostel

Burgos hostel

BURGOS/SHOW #5 SAN SEBASTIAN
Got up leisurely and left Burgos, where we’ll return tomorrow. Stopped at another Pausa rest stop, this one even nicer than the last. We all slept most of the way to San Sebastián but saw a whole lotta green hills and ocean views in between shut eyes. We arrived and checked in to our olde four room flat with its tiny tv’s and chamber pots. Thanks to my nose being a little stuffed up a couple of nights ago, I snored and Kike banished me to my own room. If you insist! Nearby Dabadaba is a gem hidden down a driveway. We shook off the cobwebs and the craziest, danciest crowd of the tour amped us up. Little Justin was on someone’s shoulders, Lil’ Adam was kicking on his back on a nearby couch, Robert blew his amp and had to strut n play keys the last two songs. Did we mention the two metal guys from France who cancelled their travel plans to come see us? They mirrored our moves, sang along and, of course, went nuts when we did AC/DC, who they’ve seen 62 times. Incredible veggie meal brought to us afterwards. Great club, great people. We just arrived back in Burgos for our fourth night where our abandoned shoes, canes and laundry soap were patiently waiting for us.  MORE PICS

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 12.54.07 AMSchizophonics half-song vids: “Red Planet/The Train”, “Rat Trap”“Move”

Videos by Pejerito Pejerito

Video of hearing Schizophonics on the radio in the van

SAN SEBASTIAN/SHOW #6 BURGOS

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Estudio 27 stage. Photo by Lety


The Richards returned to Dabadaba the next morning to find our gear arranged perfectly in a row. We bid beautiful San Sebastián adios and headed out for our fourth night in Burgos. Estudio 27, in the parking lot across from the town coliseum, is half of Studio 54 in name only. Covered in posters from past garage/punk shows, naked graffiti, colorful bathrooms and a few signs of Lady Dottie and the Diamonds’ past visit. The backstage had low and lower ceilings with all kinds of mid century furniture tucked underneath. After fueling up nearby on our favorite local treats (bread, potatoes, salad, blood sausage and a coffee liqueur), the show was smokin’ from start to finish. Lots of friendly folks. We’ll miss our second home of Burgos! MORE PICS

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SHOW #7 VITORIA
Off to Vitoria. The vets have been telling us  about Hell Dorado for the whole tour and it did not disappoint. After a quick check-in in yet another jaw-dropping town and a quenching of our thirst for Chinese food, we headed for an area of large industrial storage buildings where the club is. A team of soundmen helped us lug (yes!) and get settled on their huge stage. We gawked at the amazing mural of our favorite things that covers a whole wall (video link below)  and a book of portraits taken there that includes Lady Dottie and Little Roberto.  We had a fantastic three course meal at the nearby, empty Oh! Restaurant located next to an insanely popular Burger King. We’ve heard the BKs in Spain have Whopper Wine but didn’t want to brave the crowd to check. Pat’s voice had disappeared a few hours before but the magic of Hell Dorado, shutting up Little Richard style and our first smokefilled club miraculously restored it when he hit the stage. After a fun LR set, owner Juan made Robert come back onstage for praise and a second encore. Kike DJ’d hours of great tunes with an amazing video backdrop of old movie clips and cartoons that featured people dancing. After a fun autograph session, we were exhausted but once James Brown came on, we had to join the dance party too and didn’t leave until 4:30am when Juan insisted we give him a medium shirt. He apologized for his bad English and we finally realized we all had to go have a medium-sized shot. At 10am, he sent Kike a message that he was finally done partying and was calling a cab. Amazing night.
VIDEO Hell Dorado walls with Diana & Da Novios soundchecking
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Amazing shot by Stuart Macdonald from MusicSnapper.com. Click on the photos below to see more.

Amazing shot by Stuart Macdonald from MusicSnapper.com. Click on the photos below to see more.

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VIDEO “Bama Lama” (Facebook)
VIDEO the rarely played “Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey” (Facebook)
iGracias, Jon Aretxederreta!

SHOW #8 ZARAGOSA
Oh my Zaragoza. I thought our plaza set in Aranda was our one free outdoor show of the tour, so driving up to a huge stage in front of an amazing church was an unreal surprise. I’d been told that there was a massive festival starting a couple of days later so there would be a lot of people in town. Nope. It’s a ten day affair celebrating a vision of the Virgin Mary and it’s Mardi Gras crazy. This is the first year they’ve had rock and there was a huge set up, just for our three bands in the city center. Truly treated like estrellas with a friendly staff, house kit and amps plus dressing rooms full of food n drink with our names on them and EVERYTHING. There were a thousand people or more in the square, loving it. Very hard to concentrate with so many cute kids and LOLs (little old ladies) up front. When I took a picture of them and kiddingly made a motion to squeeze together, the whole place scrambled to the center like a Spanish wall of death. A huge thanks to Chema and his whole staff for having us. With Italy just a couple of days away, we ended the night appropriately by watching a classic Spaghetti western.
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Two by Chema Bernad Garcia who was in charge of our great night there. Thanks, Chema!

Two by Chema Bernad Garcia who was in charge of our great night there. Thanks, Chema!

Kike photos (click to enlarge):
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Video of the crowd saying hello to Alex Zaragosa.

 

VITORIA/SHOW #9 BARCELONA
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Woke up in Vitoria, headed to a laundromat and spent awhile in a nearby cafe while my new red shirt turned my whites pink. Oooops. Drove to Barcelona’s Rock Sound, the smallest place we’ve played just one day after our biggest show yet. The variety and surprise factor of each club and hotel is all part of the fun. We went to a bar full of random vintage looking American sports stuff, loaded in and then ate at nearby Pepe’s Bar, which the band has been calling the Motörhead Bar. Full of lots of random autographed rock stuff, really good sandwiches and a huge Motörhead logo. Annihilator was playing next door, so the metal fans of Barcelona walked by in droves.

I had the pleasure of finally meeting Matt Tomich, an online friend of close to 20 years. He’s done a Repacements newsletter called Skyway for that long. Fittingly, I brought a Skyway rolling suitcase for the trip. A swell guy and musician who’s lived abroad in Italy and Spain for years. I couldn’t wait to see his reaction to the Schizophonics and, like everyone, he was completely knocked out. Still he was able to take a bunch of awesome photos of us that I’ll be sharing soon. He even helped load and lug, earning him Best Guestlist Spot of the tour. The show was a blast, especially after all of the folded arms that greeted them last time here. I wasn’t sure how I’d sneak a ‘Mats reference into the set but slipped in a “Date To Church” mention during a gospel section.matt schiz
Supashort sideways Youtube Schizo vids by Matt:
“Train” guitar solo, “Ooga  Booga”, “Remake/Remodel” (Roxy Music cover) end

matt schiz2The other Richards were nice about letting me chat a little more instead of being a fifth wheel in our nightly Tetris session in the back of the van. We dropped a few unnecessary things off two days ago and have sold so much merch that they threw out one suitcase that was falling apart anyways. The packing is now MUCH easier. Wish we could magically have more records appear because we’ll be sold out of everything in a couple of days. If you’d like to order our album and/or single, just drop us a private message and we’ll get you the details. I’m biased but it’s REALLY rocking, daddyo.
matt lr

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To help lessen the long drive to our first show in Italy, we did our first drive after a show last night. We pulled into a sleeping Spanish town a couple of hours away where Salvador Dali was born and eventually found our digs: Hotel Los Angeles, of all places. It was close to 4am when we finally went to sleep but I was determined to get up the next morning and see the Dali Museum.  SEE MORE PICS

Us with THE Eva Fernández Fernández‎

Us with THE Eva Fernández Fernández‎

PART 2: ITALIA
COMING SOON!