Dominic DeGrazier 3:37 p.m., Sept. 21
Hot Weekend Concert: Dave Alvin Tonight, plus Worst Band Reunions, Rockin’ Book Reviews, more
Blaster at Acoustic Music San Diego tonight
Concert Pick O’ The Week – Dave Alvin Interview (11-1 at AMSD)
Rockin’ Book Reviews - Rock & Roll Homicide by RJ McDonnell (set in San Diego’s rock underworld), Forty Schmorty; Life Keeps Happening by Eve Selis & Mattie Mills, the Summer I Died by Ryan C. Thomas (of the Buzzbombs), Heavy Mental by Ian Shirley
Eben Brooks’ Shoots Sci-Fi Video based on a Roger Zelazny story
Just Sing the Hits - When Bands (Barely) Reunite
How I Snuck Into Around 100 Local Concerts
Ratt Doesn’t Want You to Read This Blog - Ratt & Roll Over: Beyond Behind the Music
Battle Of the Local Blues Lovers
Buffy Staked After Ken Cinema Event
DAVE ALVIN TONIGHT AT ACOUSTIC MUSIC <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />
It's no accident that the Blasters released a live album (Over There) just two years after their 1980 debut American Music. Brothers Phil and Dave Alvin excel in front of an audience. Dave quit the Blasters in 1986, and Phil carried on for a while, with Dave rejoining in 2002 for a series of reunion concerts. Pretty much every Blasters highlight has taken place before a crowd of partying onlookers.
Dave Alvin has also lit up local stages several times with the Knitters, created in 1983 with John Doe and Exene Cervenka of X (a group Alvin briefly joined before going solo). He performed some of his most legendary sets with the aptly named Pleasure Barons with San Diegan hellraisers Mojo Nixon and Country Dick Montana, living up to their billing as "the Las Vegas revue by guys who'll never be asked to play Vegas."
Local stringsmith Joey Harris was a fellow Pleasure Baron. "We carried a little red and gold tuck-and-roll bar as a stage prop," says Harris, "from whence Mojo Nixon and Country Dick would serve Martinis to the band. Dave Alvin got all the guitar solos except one, set aside for me just as I was being introduced on stage. One night, I slipped in a puddle of gin and landed on my head and blacked out for the entire eight bars I was allotted to play my big guitar solo. When I opened my eyes, I looked up to see [X guitarist] John Doe shouting down at me, over the music, ‘Are you alright little buddy?’”
Dave Alvin recalls his own onstage blackout. "One night around 1991, I was playing the old Spirit club [in Morena Park, now called Brick by Brick]. Near the end of my set, the electrical polarity of the stage changed, for some unknown reason. When my lips touched the vocal microphone, the power for the entire club was blown out. The club went totally dark and silent. I was thrown backwards into my amp by the force of the electrical shock and landed on the floor. The sound system, the neon beer signs, the refrigerator -- everything was dead. A woman in front of the stage said, 'Powerful lips, Alvin.'"
So who would Alvin most like to share a stage with? "I've been fortunate enough to have played with some real legends,” he says, “from Bob Dylan and Tom Waits to Little Milton and Big Joe Turner -- but I would've loved to have had the chance to play with long-gone greats like Howlin' Wolf, Johnny 'Guitar' Watson, Woody Guthrie, and Hank Williams."
Those artists and many others are represented amidst Alvin’s enormous vinyl record collection. His most rare disc? “"Blues After Hours by Elmore James, on Crown Records. It's the only LP by Elmore that was released in his lifetime. I paid 35 cents for it at the Paramount Drive-In swap meet back in the early '70s. It's worth a whole lot more than that now. [I wish I owned] anything by Charley Patton on Paramount."
Dave Alvin appears tonight, Saturday 11-1, at Acoustic Music San Diego. 4650 Mansfield Street, Normal Heights
ROCK & ROLL HOMICIDE by RJ McDONNELL
“I moved to San Diego in the 1980s and intended to earn a living as a musician,” says author RJ McDonnell, whose just-released novel Rock & Roll Homicide is set amidst the local music scene. “However, I shattered my wrist a few months after my arrival and my plans changed.”
The book concerns Little Italy native Jason Duffy, a musician-turned-private eye investigating the death of a local singer. “Jason’s client is the widow of the deceased rock star,” says McDonnell. “She suspects that the record company, based in downtown San Diego, was involved in her husband’s death…he also investigates the band members, as well as a roadie and a groupie.”
Suspects among the murdered singer’s band include an alcoholic drug addict drummer on the verge of being booted from the group, a bassist who camouflages his rock star status by living in a lower middle-class neighborhood, and a lead guitarist who wrote half of the band’s songs and lives well beyond his means.
The investigation takes Duffy to a Mission Beach bar that resembles London’s West End in PB, a T.G.I. Fridays in El Cajon, Jake’s restaurant in Del Mar, and a Steve Poltz concert at the Belly Up. He also makes trips to Rancho Santa Fe, Cardiff by the Sea, Alpine, and Southeast San Diego.”
“My depiction of San Diego as home to a record label featuring an emerging headline act is my way of acknowledging the quality of music originating in San Diego,” says McDonnell, who resided locally for 26 years but now lives in Pennsylvania. “My love for music and belief in the San Diego music scene has never changed.”
Rock & Roll Homicide by RJ McDonnell is retail priced at $25.95 and is available on Amazon and at www.rockandrollhomicide.com.
FORTY SCHMORTY; LIFE KEEP HAPPENING by EVE SELIS & MATTIE MILLS
Singer/songwriters Eve Selis and Mattie Mills have written a book, Forty Schmorty; Life Keeps Happening. “During the process of writing the book,” says Selis, “Mattie was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 45, and I became pregnant at age 43.”
“Mattie and I helped each other get through this journey,” says Selis. “She went through her chemotherapy with courage and the knowledge that she was going to kick cancer’s ass, not the other way around. I felt powerless over the disease, but knew our friendship would help us conquer anything.” Selis’ sister is a breast cancer survivor.
“As for my pregnancy, our friendship provided support…Mattie had two children in her forties, and had her fourth child at age 45. She was a great inspiration and help to me, because it had been so long since my first pregnancy…my daughter is thirteen years old.”
In addition to their book, the duo blogs about their experiences at FortySchmorty.com, which offers merchandise including BBQ aprons, tote bags, and string thongs, all emblazoned with the FortySchmorty logo. Selis recommends the latter as a gift for men, to purchase for their forty-something wives.
“Most males have been very curious and said that they’d love to read our book, just to get a better idea of what’s inside a women’s mind. It definitely helps answer a lot of questions men have when their wives are going through difficult or challenging times.” In addition to the book, blog, and website, related FortySchmorty podcasts are available from iTunes.
THE SUMMER I DIED by RYAN C. THOMAS
“My first paying sale was a story called ‘Cookies Have No Souls,’ for Space Squid Magazine,” says Buzzbombs guitarist Ryan C. Thomas (aka “Johnny Fuego”), whose side gig is as a horror and sci-fi author. “Up until that sale, all my stories were freebies for webzines or fiction magazine that paid, like, $5 a story.”
The executive editor for North County’s Ranch & Coast Magazine says his first novel The Summer I Died, published by Canada’s Coscom Entertainment (mainly known for comic books), pits rural teens against a razor-happy killer with a man-eating dog. “It’s my attempt to do a written version of a slasher film.” Thomas’ short stories have been published in anthologies like DreamGoblin and Twisted Cat Tales.
The Summer I Died concerns Roger, a nebbish comic book geek of the new Millennium variety, ie less Comic Book Guy and more Kevin Smith but still likely to cut in front of you in line to meet Scott Bakula. Gun totin’ dope smokin’ buddy “Tooth” would like to drag his friend-slash-pet-nerd into a more adventurous and thrill-filled life, far from the four color bubble our hero Roger has so far immersed himself in. As bad luck would have it, he does just that ------
The Summer I died is available at Amazon and at www.ryancthomas.com.
HEAVY MENTAL by IAN SHIRLEY
Author Ian Shirley is by definition what you’d call a rock ‘n’ roll writer, and he would be even if most of his works didn’t concern rock music in some form or other. The same way you can’t help but hear ‘50s doo-wop in your head when you read Christine, or the Sex Pistols whilst you read anything by Richard Meltzer, Shirley’s books seem to come with their own internal aural soundtrack.
In the case of his newly released sci-fi novel Heavy Mental, Shirley actually recorded a song, “Spy on Love,” essentially soundtracking a bit of peep show-inspired naughtiness from his rockin’ opus – you can find that MP3 here.
Dig that ‘70s porn wah-wah!! You can almost smell the chlorine urinals and feel the sticky floors, huh?
Heavy Mental concerns a metal singer named Brett Ray, who finds himself whisked off to another world/reality/dimension/dreamscape/acid peak, ala Adam Strange or John Carter, only instead of becoming a People’s Hero he becomes an accused pigf-cker -------
Far less dunderheaded than heavy metal/cartoon rocker spoofs like Cartoon Network’s Metalocalypse or Britain’s Bad News, Heavy Mental is loaded with nods to the lores and legends of rock, displaying an encyclopedic fondness of the genre and sprinkled with enough witty musical in-jokes to read like a transcript of the best episode of Mystery Science Theater ever dreamed up ------ think "Hitchhiker's Guide To The [Hawkwind]Universe" meets an imaginary Ramones In Space cartoon...by Ralph Bakshi. On acid. G-o-o-o-o-o-d acid.........
Ian Shirley is the author of the definitive books on Bauhaus and the Residents, and he’s written for Mojo, Record Collector, and other pop cultures mags - his first sci-fi novel Shadowplay was published in 1998.
Shirley also authored Can Rock & Roll Save the World, an exhaustive history of comic books and comic strips which have crossed over into the world of rock and roll, and vice versa (a subject of particular interest for me, having perpetrated some of the Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics covered in his colorful art-heavy book).
Heavy Mental was released in October '08, and is available at Amazon, and at www.safpublishing.co.uk.
“I’m a very big fan of Roger Zelazny’s work, and I’ve read all the Amber Chronicles,” says singer/songwriter Eben Brooks, who just finished shooting an elaborate video for his song “Champs Élysées,” inspired by Zelazny’s sci-fi classic Courts of Chaos. “We chose Lestat’s to shoot at, because the writer and director wrote a script that fits perfectly with their setup and décor. Lestat’s has great stone gargoyles!”
Brooks explains the video story: “In Courts of Chaos, from the original Chronicles of Amber, there’s a scene where the protagonist is worried that one of the cornerstones of reality has been destroyed…the only way to save the universe is to create a new cornerstone. While he’s doing that, he lets his mind wander as he creates this new ‘pattern,’ to anchor reality once again. I read that passage, and the imagery was so powerful that I found myself thinking about it a great deal over the next several weeks.”
He says he’s influenced by sci-fi songwriting. “I’ve always been a big fan of Jethro Tull, who tend to weave fantasy and sci-fi elements into their songs. Hawkwind writes music heavily influenced by Michael Moorcock, and there’s always Led Zeppelin’s work based on Tolkien.”
Around a dozen people scheduled to appear in the video were no-shows. “An hour after shooting was to begin, we were frantically calling people to come to Lestat’s. Even the makeup and wardrobe girl ended up on camera, because of the lack of people.” The video for “Champs Élysées” – which opens on one of Lestat’s stone gargoyles - can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsTT2s....
Formerly with the Celtic folk band The Wild Oats (1991 – 2002), Eben Brooks has been playing monthly at Lestat’s since 2000.
"Just Sing the Hits and the Crowd is Happy - When Bands (Barely)Reunite" - San Diego has seen its share of former hitmakers who come to town with few - if any - original members. And it doesn't help when brainless local promotors can't even spell the band name right ("Orginnal Sugarhill Gang," anyone? No? I didn't think so.....)
"How I Snuck Into Around 100 Local Concerts" - Not that we advocate lawbreaking, mind you, but it was a long time ago, and most of the places are long gone, so here's what I did and how I did it....
"Ratt Doesn't Want You to Read This Blog" - Beyond Behind the Music, here's a comprehensive account of how much these guys hated each other, through all the lawsuits and insults, until the money to "reunite" piled up too high to ignore. That is, if you consider the current partially-original lineup a "reunion"....
"Battle of the Blues Lovers" - Two local blues organizations with a history of battling, plus former Bluestime host Dan Pothier reveals how he was fired from local KPBS and forbidden to take the mic for his final show, and more...
"Buffy Staked After Ken Cinema Screening" - The musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer had its final audience participation event at the Ken, before being shut down over copyright issues...
Like this blog? Here are some related links:
OVERHEARD IN SAN DIEGO - Several years' worth of this comic strip, which debuted in the Reader in 1996: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/overheard-san-diego/
FAMOUS FORMER NEIGHBORS - Over 100 comic strips online, with mini-bios of famous San Diegans: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/famous-former-neighbors/
SAN DIEGO READER MUSIC MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/sandiegoreadermusic
JAY ALLEN SANFORD MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/jayallensanford