Monday, May 27, 2013

I recognize your artillery.

I wrote up and posted a little thing for Bob Dylan's seventy second birthday saturday. All was cool until I talked to musicologist Vlad Smythe later in the day. "Uh, Rob, Dylan's birthday was yesterday."

Oops. I pulled it. Timing as they say, is everything.

Tracy wanted to know why I wasn't publicly kvelling over my article being posted on Reader Supported News, a first for me.  "Well Trace, "I says, it's like the aging superstar baseball player tells the green rookie after his first home run, "Act like you've been here before, kid." I appreciate the posting.

One of the baby hawks took his or her first, rather clumsy steps from the nest yesterday, finally landing on this dead branch about twenty yards away. The birds sibling stared quizzically from the safety of home base. These birds are making very quick progress, especially when you consider they come from a single parent household, something I have never seen before. Daddy went out for a pack of smokes...

We went with a couple of friends down to the big city to see the band Love saturday night. We are hard core Love groupies as are Lev and Beth, who saw them in Los Angeles in the seminal band's infancy.

Arthur Lee, the founder and lead singer of Love died of cancer in 2006. We love his band, this would be the first show for us without Arthur at the helm, although we had seen the band cover for him while he was in a dysfunctional state once at the Coach House.

We tried to eat first, Cucina Urbana was packed and we couldn't get anyone to talk to us, let alone seat us at the nearby Hexagone. Ten minutes, not a glance. If you need shitty French attitude, I highly recommend the place. We finally had enough and settled on Bronx Pizza. Cheaper and better food.

We made it to the Casbah around nine, in time for the distaff band the Rosalyns to play. They were tight and rocked pretty good, especially on the Black Sabbath cover.

The doorman let us know that Love wouldn't even come on until midnight which was problematic, since it was a school night and I had a car show to judge early Sunday. Must suck it up.

Another old Los Angeles garage band from the sixties showed up, the Sloths. They had dug up a lead singer that looked like he didn't get a lot of sunshine and may have had physical restraints somewhere along the way, but they played well and were a lot of fun.

I had never been inside the Casbah before and it was quite the scene. Fun, punk, urban hipster. As a podunk farmer from the tulies, I always feel a bit inadequate in a style sense at these sorts of shows. I was wearing the standard Rob issue, hawaiian shirt, levis and sneakers. Squareness personified. The place was full of mods in pointy boots, cool sixties polyester, some excellent haircuts. Real sartorial splendor.

Have to make note to self to get some duds for clubbing. Need to pay a bit more attention to my image. Leslie looked great in the leather jacket, she of course cut her teeth at the clubs, but I always feel like I have a long sheaf of wheat in my mouth and am sporting my lamest pair of overalls. This goes back to my hippie days when I tried to meet the aliens at the Rainbow Room in Hollywood for the first time.

Anyhow, I located a corner in which to perch and watch and found myself sitting next to some local rock demigod. People were stopping by to get their pictures taken with him and doing the requisite amount of genuflection. Don't know who the dude was but he obviously had cachet. Long black locks, white pointy boots and sunglasses. It is of course the ultimate cool to wear sunglasses in a dark room, John Kay proved long ago that nothing else screams hip like this number. When the sycophants had moved on, I watched him quickly look around and then push the shades up to read something. I wanted to gently chide him but didn't. A real hipster would never lose the shades. Ever.

The occasion of the show was the thirtieth anniversary of Mike Stax's Ugly Things magazine. Chip Lyon turned me on to it a few years ago and it is a great scholarly look at 60's and garage music. I used to work with a guy Lou Bacher whose son played with Stax in a band, the Tell Tale Hearts. The British bass player Stax was responsible for some very cool bands reuniting the whole weekend. I met a couple smart and engaging people and look forward to returning one day.

We decided to take a walk around the block at 11 when we saw two of Love's guitar players, Rusty Squeezebox and Mike Randle walking across the street. We said hi, I had corresponded with Randle  and I think he used to check the blog every once in a while. The nicest cats you could ever imagine, the entire band is just amazingly great. And phenomenal players to boot.

The show started around midnight. This was to be an interesting night. The band had a stand in lead singer from Sweden, Ebbot Lundberg, from one of the most acclaimed european bands, Soundtrack of our Lives. The original drummer from the Forever Changes album, Michael Stuart-Ware shared the stage on a couple numbers, still kicked ass, thank you. I had never seen him before. He was the founding drummer of the sixties group the Sons of Adam that often played the Avalon. Love now has a keyboardist who also plays the trumpet who was a great addition as well.

When the band started the first number I had a slightly sick feeling in my gut. It was just not the same without Arthur Lee. Was this night going to be torture? Sound wasn't very good and the vocals were sloppy. Took a  song to get it together.

Lundberg is a giant Falstaffian character but a bit over animated for my taste, master of the dramatic flourish, made me think of a blown up Ian Anderson but didn't sing with quite the requisite conviction for this part. Big shoes to fill. He kept disappearing and they would have to keep calling him up on stage where he pirouetted around in his heavy military jacket. Was worried that he might fall into the crowd and kill somebody...

Luckily the band finally found the proper gear and it ended up being a cranking set. The syncopated counterpoint between original guitar player Johnny Echols and Mike Randle was powerful and reminded me of Dwayne and Dickey. Randle is now playing a tele, a rare choice from a guy who used to swear by the white Gibson ES -335. I hate to use the words original since Baby Lemonade played with Arthur far longer than any other band.

Bassist Dave Chapple was smoking, the whole thing rocked, we were ecstatic. I remembered why this band, along with Johnette, are my two favorite acts to see these decades. Rusty found his voice, later at the bar he told me that he couldn't hear himself in the beginning.  I love Rusty, he is solid as a rock on rhythm and really has pleasant pipes. I am not sure they need another vocalist but I don't think Lundberg is the guy by any means.

If you get an opportunity and liked Arthur Lee and Love, I urge you to catch this band. They deliver something special sonically. We hadn't seen them for seven years and that's too damn long. Shame they are not better known, as well as they play.


I got back at three in the morning, up at seven again to judge the Fallbrook Vintage car show. Which incidentally, is the oldest continually operating car show west of the Mississippi.

It's a good thing I don't drink anymore. But I was dead tired. Mahoney and I judged 30's domestic and vintage european sports car classes. My supposedly good knee and what I think is an arthritic hip were giving me fits.

There were too few judges and too many cars but I bugged out after my two classes. It was hard to walk. Went home crashed for four hours in a dead sleep, then back to the coast for a late birthday party for R & L.  Shrimp, scallops, risotto, a wonderful salad and mango cake amongst the greatest of friends.

Somehow we made it home before midnight. Today I am truly beat to death. But it was quite a memorable weekend. Don't think the old body can take too much more fun.

Family and friends

1 comment:

Richard said...

It appears Robert that you stayed out of the picture so that I would be the largest person in the picture. Next time I will take the picture.