Sunday, February 8, 2009

Welcome, Politics and Tour Stories

Hello and welcome to my new Blogspot! Over the next weeks and months, I’ll be tweaking this space, adding things here and there and changing others around. Eventually, I’ll settle on something that I’m totally satisfied with. Please let me know if you have any recommendations or ideas. I’m happy to be here. I have an “adult content” warning, so I can write what I want and how I want now. And so far, I have had none of the problems with posting that I had over at MySpace. I think this will be a good home for my ranting.

You’ll also find most of my old blogs from MySpace on the Archive. I edited out most of the reviews and a small bit of content that was no longer relevant, but the blogs are mostly the same ones I originally published.

I thought I’d start out this week with a couple of topics.

I’m really getting tired of listening to Republicans whine about Obama’s policies this close to the beginning of his administration and policies. These conservatives had eight years of mostly uninterrupted power plays to get the country where it is now, on the brink of collapse. Now it’s time for them to step aside and shut the fuck up and let someone else try to fix what they broke.

For eight years we heard how “un-American” it was to criticize Bush and his cronies. Less than a week into his administration, we have Republican conservatives like Rush Limbaugh telling the public that they hope Obama fails. And this drug addict had the nerve to refer to others as un-American? What an ass. Every time I turn on the TV or head online to places like Facebook, I see or hear some conservative crying about Obama. Get over it.

Look, I don’t believe that Obama’s Economic Stimulus Package is going to work. I think it’s too little too late. But you’d think these conservative voices would just leave it alone. It’s a win-win situation for them, I would think. If Obama gets his way and this package fails, then it’s a good chance the Republicans can take back the government in four years. Hell, they can start making inroads into congress in two years.

And if it does work, well then everyone in the country will be a hell of a lot better off and even Republicans should be happy about that. So maybe they should just shut their traps and wait and see. They can’t lose.

What I, and everyone else, know already is that tax cuts aren’t going to help. It’s just another thinly veiled attempt to make the rich even richer. We’ve had eight years of tax cuts and look where we are. And all this whining about “tax-and-spend” Democrats is just ridiculous following eight years of “no-tax-and-spend” Republicans. You can’t spend money you don’t have to fight your wars and reward your cronies. So once again, shut the fuck up. I’m tired of hearing it, and I’m sure most of the rest of the country is as well.

If anything, it’s just nice to have someone in office who takes responsibility for the mistakes of his administration. Bush, Cheney and their henchmen never did that. In fact, they’re still denying their mistakes and they’re still using their fear tactics to do so.

But I know that the above is just politics as usual. I’m really more upset about several music related events that happened of the last few weeks.

First, Los Angeles radio station, Indie 103.1, shuttered their doors and changed over to a Spanish language station, as if Los Angeles doesn’t have enough of those already. Indie was the home of ex-Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones wonderful daily broadcast, “Jonesy’s Jukebox”. As a station, it wasn’t perfect. There aren’t any that are. But Indie managed to play music I like probably 75% of the time, and that is a great thing. I would listen to the station constantly while driving around the city. I found out about a lot of bands I had never heard before and I became fans of many of them. Now we’re left with Oldies stations and KROQ, which bills itself as an “alternative” station, but is really nothing more than a “hard rock” station. They bore the hell out of me. I’ve stopped listening to the radio except for the occasional newscast. Indie will be missed.

RIP to Lux Interior of the Cramps ( & He blew my mind when I saw the Cramps at the first LA show at the Whiskey. I had never quite seen anything like it before that. He and his band’s music helped shape me into the man I am today, for better or worse.

I was also very sad to hear about the death of folk musician John Martyn ( & a week ago. He was an amazing musician and a great guy. I once spent an evening in Sicily with him drinking and talking about his life and music in general. I was there with Thin White Rope and we were playing a festival held in some ruins in the city of Syracuse. There were lots of bands on the bill, but the only two I remember besides TWR was That Petrol Emotion and John Martyn. I was excited about seeing both and after Martyn’s set, I introduced myself and told him that I was fan. He told me how much he enjoyed TWR. After the show, we went back to the hotel and I walked to a bar, where we talked for several hours about drinking, music and any other pleasures we could think of. It was one of the best moments of my life. Here’s to you, John. Your music will live on.

But since I started it, I should go ahead and finish the story. That festival was one of my favorite shows that TWR ( played. Before the show, the promoters took us up into the hills of Syracuse for dinner. We dined outdoors and on each side of us where beautiful Greek ruins illuminated on neighboring hills. These had been left over from the days the Greeks occupied the island. It was absolutely gorgeous and the food was great as well.

During the show, which I remember as being a great one, I also vaguely remember a big fall on my part. I usually stood off to the side of the stage when the band played. I was the tour manager, but I also acted as a roadie when it was needed, plus the side of the stage was a great place to watch the band. Halfway through the set, a problem happened and I ran out to fix it. As I went to return to my spot off to the side, I stepped back too far and all I remember is falling for what seemed an eternity. I landed flat on my back on the ground below the stage. Somehow, I managed to escape any injury, but it knocked the wind out of my lungs and scared the hell out of me. John von Feldt still laughs about it to this day. He told me he was playing and looked over to see me there and suddenly I just disappeared. Then he saw me climbing back on stage with this sheepish look on my face. All I know is that I was very careful to know the boundaries of the stage area after that.

I also mentioned that That Petrol Emotion ( & were playing the festival. They were a band made up of several ex-members of the Irish punk band, the Undertones, and I was a huge fan of both bands. I was very excited about seeing them live and they didn’t disappoint me. I think everyone played a great set that night.

After everything was done and all the equipment was packed up, we were taken to our hotel. This hotel was right on the beach. When I got back from my drinking with John Martyn, I noticed a bunch of people sitting on the lounge furniture on the beach. I walked over to discover some of the TWR and TPE guys drinking and talking in the dark. So of course I joined them. Most of the conversation was just talk of the kind that traveling musicians do when they get together. But I do remember TPE lead singer, Steve Mack, an American, complaining about touring Italy. He didn’t like it at all. He didn’t like the chaos. He didn’t like the attitude. He didn’t even like the food. He didn’t like anything about Italy and claimed that if he had his way, he would never tour there again.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that touring Italy could be a giant pain in the ass. They were always disorganized. We almost always arrived for soundcheck to find a club or venue with no PA set up yet and little knowledge about what was going to happen that evening. It was almost always impossible to get a show to run with any sign of organization. But I have never run into fans as enthusiastic and passionate. I thought the food was amongst the best I’ve ever eaten in any country and always looked forward to whatever restaurant we were taken to. And the place was just so damned beautiful, from the cities to the country. It was a pain, but we always had a great time there.

I said all this to Stave and then waved my hand to the ocean. I said, “I’m sitting here on the beach in Italy, drinking wine and talking to friends, and I’m getting paid to do it. I have nothing to complain about.”

And that seemed to shut him up.

(Steve and I later became good friends, despite this one disagreement and he later told me that he was just being crabby that night. Several years later, TPE broke up and he moved to Seattle, where I visited him several times. I even stayed with him once when I flew up to see Yoko Ono after I missed her here due to a show I was working. But we eventually lost touch and I haven’t talked to him in years.) *

We sat up talking all night long and watched the sunrise over the ocean. It was wonderful. The unfortunate thing was that we had a show that evening somewhere in the North of Italy. We had to pack up and leave for the airport very early that morning and then drive for several hours to the small town we were playing that night. (The name of that town escapes me right now.) That was a grueling drive, especially without sleep, but it’s also a story for another day.

We ran into That Petrol Emotion and Steve Mack several more times during our road trips. We saw them play in London once where we discovered opening band, The Young Gods, and became immediate fans. Steve insisted that we get there in time to see them or he wouldn’t put us on the guestlist. I’m thankful to him for that to this day. That was also the show were I ran into a very drunk Robyn Hitchcock after the aftershow party. He tried to take the cab I had stopped and I knocked him on his ass in the gutter for his attempt. (I love the Soft Boys, but I’ve never been much of a fan of his solo work and I’ve never been a fan of drunken obnoxiousness, although I’ve been guilty of it myself several times in the past.)

I just recently heard that That Petrol Emotion got back together late last year for some shows in Ireland and are now thinking of doing more shows elsewhere in the world. I hope so. I would love to see them again.

*(As of yesterday, I just made contact with Steve again through Facebook. He’s doing fine and the band is playing the South by Southwest festival. If you’re in Austin during that time, you should go see them. They’ve always been a great live act. I’m hoping they eventually make their way to Los Angeles.)

And that’s it for this week. I’ve got many more stories I’m working on at the moment and I’ll get them up in the space when I can. I’m working on more band stories, including one about the second band I ever worked for, BPeople, and I’m putting together a blog of stories of the days I worked at the one-of-a-kind record store, Vinyl Fetish. I hope to get at least one of them up here before I go to Italy in three weeks. As I said at the beginning of all this, if you have anything to suggest or comment on, please do. I can use all the help you want to give me.

Take care and I’ll see you all again soon.


  1. As with the Italian show, we get a cool rant as opening act to a rewarding blog post, thanks! This one has it all: all-nighters at the Italian seaside, pub chats with an idol, falling off stage, The Young Gods AND That Petrol Emotion, one of my favorite bands. (But wait, you also knocked Robyn Hitchcock on his ass! Ha!) Glad to hear your take on Italy, too. Wouldn't mind more detail about the shows and how you perceived the bands! Looking forward to more. Grazie!

  2. Thanks. I would put more details about the shows IF I could remember them. It was too long ago, so with a few exceptions, I really don't remember many details except how I felt overall about the show.