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Ugly at 30

Musician/publisher Stax (center) with his psych-rock band the Loons.
Musician/publisher Stax (center) with his psych-rock band the Loons.

“Being based in San Diego has definitely shaped the magazine to some degree,” says Mike Stax, whose publication Ugly Things celebrates its 30th anniversary at the Casbah over Memorial Day weekend with a slew of vintage garage-band reunions and tributes. “The explosion of teenage bands that occurred in the wake of the British Invasion affected neighborhoods across the country, but for various reasons Southern California was particularly hard hit. Perhaps because there’s more actual garages here for bands to practice in.”

Stax moved from England to San Diego in 1981, playing with the Crawdaddys and Tell-Tale Hearts before forming the Loons, all while building and writing about his collection of obscure recordings by groups long forgotten until the Nuggets and Pebbles compilations became popular. “Many of those garage bands released outstanding 45s. For example, the Lyrics from North County, who I tracked down for a story in one of my earliest issues. Or the Contrasts [from the College/Rolando/La Mesa area], who never even released a record, but still had some great stories, photos, and tapes to share.”

For the Casbah bash, San Diego native Glenn Ross Campbell (of the Misunderstood) will perform with the Loons on Friday, May 24, on a bill that also includes Ebbot Lundberg (Soundtrack of Our Lives), Cyril Jordan (Flamin’ Groovies), and the Neumans. May 25 features Lundberg singing with a reunited version of Love called Love Revisited, with other acts to include a Sloths reunion and the Rosalyns (local ladies from the Loons, Schitzophonics, New Kinetics, and Chinese Rocks). Sunday’s show includes Benedict Arnold & the Traitors (tributing Paul Revere & the Raiders), the Rising Ramrods (members of local garage band Nashville Ramblers), and original “I’m A No-Count” singer Ty Wagner, in his first performance since the ’60s.

With the most unlikely act being Love, whose bandleader Arthur Lee died in 2006, I asked cofounder Johnny Echols why he’s “revisiting” the music minus their famously mercurial frontman. “Back in the day,” says Echols, “soon after the [original] group Love broke up, there was a huge controversy when Arthur began playing venues with his new group and calling them Love. He often faced hostile crowds, demanding to know where the original members were. One particularly obnoxious music critic asked him why he continued to play under those circumstances.

“I cannot fathom how re-creating that which you yourself created can somehow be viewed as a negative.”

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Musician/publisher Stax (center) with his psych-rock band the Loons.
Musician/publisher Stax (center) with his psych-rock band the Loons.

“Being based in San Diego has definitely shaped the magazine to some degree,” says Mike Stax, whose publication Ugly Things celebrates its 30th anniversary at the Casbah over Memorial Day weekend with a slew of vintage garage-band reunions and tributes. “The explosion of teenage bands that occurred in the wake of the British Invasion affected neighborhoods across the country, but for various reasons Southern California was particularly hard hit. Perhaps because there’s more actual garages here for bands to practice in.”

Stax moved from England to San Diego in 1981, playing with the Crawdaddys and Tell-Tale Hearts before forming the Loons, all while building and writing about his collection of obscure recordings by groups long forgotten until the Nuggets and Pebbles compilations became popular. “Many of those garage bands released outstanding 45s. For example, the Lyrics from North County, who I tracked down for a story in one of my earliest issues. Or the Contrasts [from the College/Rolando/La Mesa area], who never even released a record, but still had some great stories, photos, and tapes to share.”

For the Casbah bash, San Diego native Glenn Ross Campbell (of the Misunderstood) will perform with the Loons on Friday, May 24, on a bill that also includes Ebbot Lundberg (Soundtrack of Our Lives), Cyril Jordan (Flamin’ Groovies), and the Neumans. May 25 features Lundberg singing with a reunited version of Love called Love Revisited, with other acts to include a Sloths reunion and the Rosalyns (local ladies from the Loons, Schitzophonics, New Kinetics, and Chinese Rocks). Sunday’s show includes Benedict Arnold & the Traitors (tributing Paul Revere & the Raiders), the Rising Ramrods (members of local garage band Nashville Ramblers), and original “I’m A No-Count” singer Ty Wagner, in his first performance since the ’60s.

With the most unlikely act being Love, whose bandleader Arthur Lee died in 2006, I asked cofounder Johnny Echols why he’s “revisiting” the music minus their famously mercurial frontman. “Back in the day,” says Echols, “soon after the [original] group Love broke up, there was a huge controversy when Arthur began playing venues with his new group and calling them Love. He often faced hostile crowds, demanding to know where the original members were. One particularly obnoxious music critic asked him why he continued to play under those circumstances.

“I cannot fathom how re-creating that which you yourself created can somehow be viewed as a negative.”

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3

Outtake: So in the age of the internet and Wikipedia, with once-massive music magazines like Spin ceasing print publication, does Stax see Ugly Things being around for another thirty years?

“Blogs are transitory, print is forever,” he says. “The printed word carries more weight because it brings with it a sense of permanence. Online opinions are dished up and digested in the moment then they disappear into the ether. But when you set your words down on paper and send them out into the world, you are making a tangible statement that you will have to stand behind.”

May 15, 2013

The Rosalyns will debut with an all-star all-girl lineup including Anja Stax from the Loons, Lety from the Schitzophonics, Diana Death from Chinese Rocks, Birdy from the New Kinetics, Amy from the Gore Gore Girls, and a guest player from Detroit -

May 19, 2013

Just confirmed that Saturday's show at the Casbah will feature Love drummer Michael Stuart-Ware playing on a couple of songs with Love Revisited.

May 22, 2013

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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