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Nirvana Does OTR, plus DIY ShatFest!


off1 Ticket and photos of Nirvana at OTR 10-24-91

Who doesn't miss the staple-infested LP bins of Off The Record's late lamented Hillcrest locale? Those beat up bins survived hundreds of live concerts, with both bins and shows dating back to the store's original College Grove location.

Phil Galloway was a fixture at OTR nearly as long as the bins, booking many of those performances and witnessing nearly all of them.

"It's a pain in the -ss to do an in-store [concert]. We have to rearrange the racks, run ads, sometimes we hire security, and then we're losing $300.00 to $400.00 in sales while the band's playing. Even though it's a huge hassle, in-stores promote the business, they create goodwill with our customers and, really, all of us at the shop love putting our heads together and saying 'Let's put on a show!'"

"About half the time, we approached the band directly or through their agents, and the rest of the time it's a vendor, their record company or someone like that who gets ahold of us to say [the band is] available. The El Cajon Boulevard store was a lot smaller but we managed to pull off in-stores with Slayer, Husker Du [and] a lot of punk groups."

Long lines and packed aisles were common when bands played OTR, with the largest turnouts greeting the Posies (1991), Mudhoney (1994), the Misfits (1996), Drive Like Jehu (1997) and Rocket From the Crypt (1998). An April 2001 set by the Locust drew, in Galloway 's estimate, over two hundred patrons.

"I've only ever been starstuck twice in my life. Once was when I had the chance to hang out with Elvis Costello, [because] I'm a huge fan. The other was when I was thirteen years old and I met Charles Schulz at the Comic-Con[vention]."

off8 Cartoonist Schulz

Just mentioning the comic strip artist who created Snoopy and Charlie Brown causes Galloway to slip into a reverent, almost worshipful tone.

"I had a collection of 'Peanuts' comics that I saved in binders and he signed those, and then he actually drew Linus for me," he sighs, enjoying a fond recollection directed more inward than toward the tape recorder.


The record store's "close relationship" with Geffen Records, coupled with the success of a recent in-store with The Posies which had been broadcast for television, earned OTR an offer to host Nirvana for a performance to be staged near the start of their first national headline tour.

"Right when we found out [Nirvana] was definitely coming, 'Nevermind' jumped from number twenty to number seven on the Billboard charts. At that point, they decided there'd only be three in-stores for the whole tour - Seattle , San Diego and New York . For the one in Seattle , they purposely leaked out the wrong date and location, so the actual gig could stay a secret until the last possible minute."

"Down here, we prepared by creating limited edition tickets; purple, with a watermark. Each one [was] individually signed and numbered and recorded, not only to control the number of people in the store but to prevent counterfeiting. I heard right away about the Seattle gig. The kids who got in went nuts and were bin-diving. Actually climbing on the record bins and diving off, falling all over the band! That made us a little nervous, for sure. I'm sure, to our insurance company, just saying 'Please, no stagediving off the record bins' isn't going to cover the injuries and damage!"


"I was in the store at 5:30 AM, taping baby dolls and fishhooks everywhere, like on the [Nevermind ablbum] cover. The record bins had to be moved and those weigh three or four hundred pounds each. Oh, and part of the deal was that we had to provide the equipment, a twelve string guitar, a PA.the plan was for them to do an all-acoustic set. Geffen [Records] or some radio network was also going to record it. Things on our side fell through because we had all right handed instruments and so Kurt went ahead and played electric guitar. They ended up doing a whole forty minute hard rock set."

off2 Nirvana at OTR

"After the set, they hung out and signed autographs and posters for people. You could tell Kurt [Cobain] wasn't into that part at all though. He wasn't in the mood to pose for pictures and, well, let's just say he was definitely feeling down. Not at all like he was during the set. I'm sure that he was used to being able to wind down and go to sleep after a show so this must have been a drain, having all this activity going on around him for so long after playing so great [and] putting out all that energy."

"A lot of us talked about that later, how he seemed to be having a great time and all of a sudden he looked so miserable and depressed."


Cobain agreed to pose with his bandmates for a group snapshot with the OTR staff, and the resulting photo, capturing him making a face somewhere between a grimace and a nyahh-nyaahhh taunt, seems to show him already disgusted with rock star posing and commercial ass-kissing.

"The guys in the band went out to dinner with a bunch of the employees, some record company people and even a few customers got invited along, but that definitely wasn't something [Cobain] was into. But, hey, they played an awesome set."

Galloway phrases this with a finality that seems to discourage more discussion about the singer's off-stage attitude.

Further inquiry results in a long sigh and then a longer silence. "The other two [bandmembers] had just gotten over being sick so, I don't know, maybe he was coming down with something?"

Nirvana at Off The Record on 10-24-91 can be viewed on YouTube:

Nirvana at OTR part 1

Part 2

Part 3








Locals Shoestring Strap appear in the upcoming film Circus Of Life. “Our mandolin player's dad Bert Tenzer is a film and TV producer in L.A.," says Shoestring Strap singer/guitarist Dave Lowenstein.

"He's been working on this movie since the ‘60s, when he shot footage with Casey Kasem, [British comedian] Terry Thomas and the guy who did voice-overs in the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. He added some newly shot scenes around 2006 with William Shatner and Doug Llewellyn, of People's Court fame."

The band is seen in their scene dressed as clowns, miming to their song "If Jesus Was Whiskey (I'd Be A Saved Man)." Mixed with ‘60s and ‘70s footage of L.A. strippers and strip clubs is new footage of William Shatner as a hippie-haired cartoonist pornographer.

If just a little Shat isn't enough, here's a big steamy pile of Shat, with collected clips comprising a DIY Shat FilmFest!

Shatner raps Shakespeare:

Shatner "sings" Harry Chapin's Taxi on the Dinah Shore show:

Shatner's animated video for Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (opens with the Enterprise! And checkout Sgt Shatner's Lonely Hearts Club Band!) - this is the best of the 3 different vids I've seen for this song.

And of course the complete Shatner version of Rocket Man (1978 Sci-Fi Con):

Followed by the dead-on spoof from Family Guy, with Stewie doing his version:



THE DAY BEACH BOY BRIAN WILSON GOT BUSTED IN BALBOA PARK: In June 1978, Brian Wilson - without telling his wife or fellow bandmembers - decided (inexplicably) to escape his life entirely and hitchhike to Mexico. He wound up in San Diego a few days later, mentally fogged, barefoot, and unwashed. “He was on a binge," according to Stephen Love, brother of Beach Boy Mike Love and sometime-band manager..... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2007/sep/18/the-day-beach-boy-brian-wilson-got-busted


THE DAY JIMI HENDRIX CAME TO TOWN - 5-24-69: From my extensive interviews with Hendrix bassist Noel Redding, here's the inside scoop on a legendary (and highly bootlegeed) local concert... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2007/sep/03/the-day-jimi-hendrix-came-to-town



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

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