- March 2013 -

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Another Fein Mess
A.F. Stone’s Monthly
March 2013

‘Round Town

Looking at this calendar, it sounds like February is The Month I Missed.

2-2 Missed Troy Walker, Big Jay McNeely and Big Sandy at Viva that night.

2-9 Breakfast with friend Cliff and his wife at West Hollywood’s French Quarter restaurant.

2-9 Skip Heller and the Skip-tones rehearse in my living room. (Yes, that’s a CUGAT on the wall at right.)

2-10 Went with the lovely Diane to Skip’s performance at the Redwood in downtown L.A. The audience roared its approval and the food was good.

2-11 Poete maudit John Tottenham, on one of his laps around town, visited the West Hollywood Public Library and enchanted the small hall. Here he fascinates some admirers.

2-12 Autograph-collector cum publicist cum mystery author Robert Levinson had’em lined up for a signed book at Skylight Books in Los Feliz. Among those on hand was Richard Link, co-creator of Columbo, Murder She Wrote, Mannix and others, and also former music exec and radio personality Joe Sutton.

2-13 Eric Burdon did a concert/podcast at Amoeba Records in Hollywood. The place was packed.

2-16 Fire engine sirens always cause dogs to bay. However this night’s hound chorus was fuller, like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with more sopranos. I didn’t know coyotes outnumber dogs on this hill, right in the city, across from the Hollywood Bowl. (The cat is kept inside.)

2-17 Marshall Crenshaw performed at a private party for a generous Kick Starter contributor at a home in Long Beach. The chosen few had a great time. I was planning to see Freddy Cannon sing a few songs with The Gears at the Messaround at Viva Cantina this night, but seeing Marshall in a small setting was too good to miss.

2-19 I settled in for a spell at Joel Selvin’s house in San Francisco tit-for-tat for his numerous stays at my house while working on the Lita Ford biography. Among the shows I missed in SF were Marshall C and Dave Alvin at the Great American Music Hall and Big Sandy and Deke Dickerson at the Elbo Room. For the first 24 hours my house guest-mate was Ned Sublette, who’s gone loco for Salsa dancing. Pictured: Singer-songwriter and Selvin-house regular John Wilcox and Sublette in the breakfast nook.

2-19 Because I was in San Francisco, I missed the weekly old guys breakfast at Uncle Bernie’s in Tarzana. But THIS time, record-mastering master Kevin Gray brought a guest - singer Marnie Nixon. Damn, darn, durn, phooey.

2-20 I finally got to see baby daughter (21) Jessie’s three-story 4-(wo)man apartment in fashionable Daly City. Well, fashionable because SHE’s there. This is a picture of the guest quarters. I didn’t stay.

2-21 I went to Orinda to visit longtime Hightone co-owner Larry Sloven. Had great fun!

2-23 Yet ANOTHER show I missed, Jimmy Angel blew the walls down at the Smoke House, across the street from Warner Bros Studios. He’s drawing a good crowd. People from late-night shows are looking at him.

2-26 Between noon and 5 pm, with tech supervisor Raymond Chavez, videotaped Rip Masters at the Echo for a demo and performance video.

3-3 Went with gf Diane to the Cat & Fiddle 1 , the great British pub and restaurant in Hollywood. With its outdoor patio it’s some swell spot! It is run by the widow of UK musician Kim Gardner and has a wall filled with pics of his various band affiliations. I got bangers & mash, just like the Peter Sellers song of the same name.

3-4 After visiting the Apple Genius Bar (the helpers are geniuses, not me) for a few bits of info, I was shocked by two things at Century City’s Westfield Mall. One was a Microsoft Store! Like the Scotch tape store on SNL, the place might be an idea whose time hasn’t come - it looked pretty lonely after the swarms at Apple. The other was this water fountain and snack dispenser - for dogs!

3-4 Had intended to go to the UCLA screening of ‘Gun Crazy’ the previous Friday, 3-1,but it sold out fast. (A half-page LA Times feature may have caused the stampede. But I have a copy at home.) This night’s “noir” double feature of ‘Try And Get Me’ and ‘Repeat Performance’ was purt near sold out too. Sat with Jim Dawson and his crowd, and then Harold Bronson joined us. The fact that Cyril Endfield, the first film’s director, was “a master of card tricks” may have prompted our row-mate Ricky Jay to attend. (The film had no card tricks.)

3-5 Missed another show! Ronnie Mack’s Barn Dance has taken up residence at Viva Cantina - a natural! But I was home working on a thing I post online that was very late.

1 Its entry in my LA Musical History Tour book has me tearing out my hair. I wrote that he was in the Birds, an early 60s UK band, and the editor changed it to Byrds. Editors!!!


The rain that day in 1990 made it more poignant when I passed Allegiance Records on Fountain and saw John Denver coming out. Allegiance put out punk records to a small audience. Denver must have looked them up after being dropped by RCA ... A Burns & Allen episode concerns George’s efforts to get son Ronnie a recording contract with “Mister Granz (Lyle Talbot) of Verve Records.” It dawned on me that after Ricky Nelson, of faint but fair voice, had his first hit on Verve and Ozzie moved him to another label, Burns senior and Verve must have reasoned that another goodlooking tv star could duplicate Ricky’s success. But Ronnie’s voice was slightly weaker than Tab Hunter’s ... A Johnny Paycheck song opens “I’ve seen him quit, holding a straight flush, with aces high.” That’s card-dumb. If you have a straight flush, you can’t have aces. An ace-high straight flush is called a royal flush. Well, all’s forgiven by the song’s fantastic title, “He’s In A Hurry (To Get Home To My Wife)” ... From an online bio of Norman Petty “
and over the years, Petty put to tape Buddy Knox, The Fireballs, Roy Orbison and a young Waylon Jennings.” Was Waylon only 5 years old? I thought he was as old as Holly. Or does “a” young mean there were several Waylon Jenningses ... Looked up ‘The Fat Man’ on a couple of lyric sites. Hearing it at age eleven on “Fats’ Million Sellers” I understood so little, “Rampart and Canal” was gobbledygook. But now I wanted to learn what was at the end of that verse. One site said “incomprehensible,” which showed their mettle, but another said “Watchin’, watchin’, Watchin’ all the Creole gals.” Ooh! ... In Bill Haley’s “ABC Boogie,” kids are “taught to the tune of the licorice stick.” The phrase, in another song (I cain’t remember) was “hickory stick.” All online definitions cite the latter ‘teaching’ as the teacher bearing a switch, to beat knowledge into kids. But in my mind, since it was in a song, I thought it was learning music from a conductor waving a stick. I guess I’ll never know ... Ted Nugent is some loudmouth. The world’s full of ‘em. But both political sides seek his comments. He’s from Michigan, so now can we hear something from Bob Seger? Iggy Stooge? Berry Gordy? ... This month’s AFM ‘music cue’ was culled from Joel Selvin’s album collection. “Goodbye So Long” is one of Ike & Tina’s greatest records and long served as their theme song, yet it is on no CD comps that I have found. Hang on to vinyl.


I fast-forward (VHS) past tv ads by counting them. but I think they are trying/succeeding to foil me by making 20 second ones ... Cash Cab, which stopped production 4 years ago, doesn’t connote a sense of New York. It’s a cab driving down any city street. Street ‘shout outs’ show reasonable people (though I’d like to see the outtakes) ... When are the Jewish women of America going to demand Millionaire Matchmaker be taken off the air? I see it, sans sound, at the gym. The millions really at stake here are the millions of Jewish men who, seeing this pushy girl coaching women to get millionaires, pledge celibacy over same-religion marriage ... There’s a motion to mandate that tv commercials not be louder than programming. They’re addressing this now? Some people lived their whole lives suffering this. Did someone in Congress suddenly notice? Maybe their payments were late ... My life in thrift stores started as soon as I got to college. It’s been a long fun ride, but now thanks to tv shows about “pickers” and pawn shops and refurbishings and swap meet champions, every cubbyhole junk store is aware of its wares.


“Pay it forward.” Not a pretty phrase ... What is the real-world equivalent of “Power it off”? Fill it empty? ... Icon, in my 1962 dictionary, was “a picture, image, or other representation.” A copy. Today it’s a pretentious catchall, wrongly based on religious ikons depicting Christ ... Overheard in a movie: That road that is not passable or jackassable ... In the movie “The Driver” Bruce Dern says “I’ve been around the track,” referring to that long-established phrase, meaning such a horse is sage. That was 1976. before “around the block” took over in all its lackluster ... I looked up leverage in my old dictionary, and it wasn’t a verb. The verb for lever was lever. Good thing it’s improved. Remember - the more syllables in your words, the smarter you are ... A form from a repair shop in Seattle asks for a short “back history” ... NYT hed opens “As Droves Flock to Washington.” Do droves flock? I just can’t see it ... The cutline under a photo in the NY Times of a lakelike Manhattan street after Hurricane Sandy says cars are “submerged.” The water is mid-hubcap . If I am up to my shins in water I’m not submerged ... The guy on CSPAN talking about medical costs says some action would “incent” an insurer’s action. I had to look it up. It’s a business term, but a good’un. The given alternative is “incentivize” ... Maybe I’m just prickly, but when a crazed murderer sends a rant to the press about what’s pissing him off, whose idea is to honor it as a “manifesto”? And isn't that an Italian bill of lading? ... “Officers suspect that he could possibly be” is a load of qualifiers. A half (none are majority) times a half times a half ... A person who’s never been to England said “That’s the sticky wicket we’re in” ... If you know careen (atilt, like a grounded ship) is wrong and you want the word for ricocheting, think of “I’ve careered from career to career” in the Sondheim song ‘But I’m Here’

New Yawk, New YAWK

Jan 17 NYTimes Style section trumpets “The haircut of the year has arrived.” The year is 17 days old. The model is 20 years old. The haircut is the same as any old haircut like it but for it being singled out by Marisa Meltzer. Are NY women swallowing this? ... Interesting 1-14 NYT article. Magazine pieces can lead to movies, but Conde Nast (New Yorker, Wired, Vanity Fair) is capping the writer’s percentage of such deals at 1%. Nasty. Sure, without the magazine’s printing, editing, ad sales, subscriptions and business services such articles would be merely unseen movie outlines. But 1% ... Article writer Christine Haughney crams her word count IDing an agent as someone who “refused to allow writers to sign the new contract but declined to be identified for fear of retribution toward the agent’s clients.” Who needs that filler?... Better late than never. Sarah Maslon Nir wrote 12-26, spurred by the death of Jack Klugman, a piece wondering how tv’s Odd Couple could afford an apartment at 1049 Park Avenue on the salaries of a sports writer and commercial photographer. Funny idea ... The fairies in Stephen Holden’s head are a wonder. When John Lloyd Young launched into “Hey There Lonely Girl,” Holden reported 2-14, it ‘conjured memories of very late nights leaning against a jukebox four decades ago in a smoke-filled bar hearing a cry that distilled the post-adolescent pining that brought me there.” He didn’t mention whether the LSD was then or now ...


A handwringing LATimes article about two officers slain in Santa Cruz. ‘It upsets the peaceful little town.’ This, like the hubbub about the cop slain in Burbank a dozen years ago, diminishes the deaths of cops in ‘normal’ crime-ridden cities. Taken further, it says that police in Santa Cruz didn’t join the force to get in harm’s way. Tragic? You bet. But no more tragic than a death in LA ... Of course it’s wrong to ‘hate cops’ - call a hippie, you know. But the police clowns who saw a random pickup truck and machine-gunned it during that Dormer panic - have they been fired? There’s no earthly reason the women in the truck weren’t killed. And “I thought he was reaching for a gun” should not shield police who wrongly kill. I’ve never seen a statistic for the number of cops killed by surrounded people, but I’d guess with their shoot-first policy the number is zero.


Amy Kaufman opens her 3-1 LATimes assault on new movies’ earnings with a fairy-tale rhyme. She’s clearly having fun. She derides a new film’s chances based on audience surveys, which you or I could do. One film “is set” to be a disappointment, and no upcoming weekend release “is poised” to do boffo b.o., another “is likely” to do decently, and two others “could take” low coin and “will probably tank.” Another film “may have a massive opening.” I hope there’s a followup tally on her ... I started to watch “Xanadu” because the glow that streamed behind Olivia Newton-John as she rollerskated in the park intrigued me. Unfortunately when the plot started I turned off. I would have watched the entire film if it had more of those special effects.

Movies that fall apart at the end but are enjoyable up to that point:

Defending Your Life
Kiss Me Deadly

These are the times of L.A.

March 1, another headline about a business closing “It’s part of your youth, gone.” If you’re old, your youth is gone, period. “Locals mourn” is a bit grand for a mid-60s burger hut’s demise. I doubt it’s closing because of too much business ... We swallow it whole. A Bev Hills big-house is renting for $600,000 a month, or it’s listed at that, and on Feb 27 Lauren Beale raced out there to embrace its majesty. “To step through the door” bla bla “is to wonder whether one is in Beverly Hills or Santa Barbara (??? - AF ), in a mansion or the grand lobby of a historic hotel.” The joint “looks out onto gardens, mountains and a pool.” Meaning? No ocean view. This huge press release - the owner seeks publicity and gets it - got nearly a half-page in the “business section,” up front w/color photos ... Report Feb 27, about the Santa Cruz shooting, from Robert Lopez, Lee Romney, Maria L. La Ganga, includes that the offender had been convicted of ‘peeping’ at “a 22-year-old woman as she showered in her northwest Portland condo.” Not a word wasted, except every word after “peeping.” NORTHWEST Portland? Also, the Take Back Santa Cruz Facebook page, “which is closed to outsiders” (read:“WE got in!”) was filled with expressions of anguish. If that ain’t news ... well, it isn’t ... In a story about the band Dirty Projectors (the writer of the subhed “is ready for its closeup” should be boiled in oil) Mikael Wood refers to the band’s “underground hit.” Meaning? And its “much-discussed” version of a song. Who’s talking? ... Jack Leonard, 2-8, reporting on slimy Alan Jackson’s departure from the L.A. prosecutor’s office, salutes his winning the conviction of Phil Spector as “the office’s first victory in celebrity murder in more than 40 years.” This seems to say that the office would go to any length to unsmirch its record, and also endorses the “common knowledge” that all celebrities are guilty ... Randall Roberts’ report about a Who show (What acts from 45 years ago was the Times reviewing in 1973 -- Benny Goodman? Rudy Vallee?), proclaims that “Despite one’s skepticism” they succeeded. “One?” One what? Now he’s Jonathan Gold? (Oh, sorry, he’s “You.”) After they did one song, “any doubts about strength and endurance vanished.” One wonders who the one was who had doubts in the first place. Certainly not Randy, or he’d have flat come out and said it!

Memories are made of ... what again?

* I told my friend that a while ago I had stammered ‘The movie star. You know, blonde. In All The President’s Men with Dustin Hoffman. Mole.” We laughed. Then she said “You know the name now, right?” But I’d lost it again.

* My friend posted on FB that he collects 45 rpm record picture sleeves. “That was funny what you wrote about that” he said. I blanked. “That it’s like collecting ice cream wrappers. It’s the thing inside that’s important.” I laughed heartily, for it seemed new to me. Later he inspected my 45 collection, which is modest. “What’s THIS?” he said excitedly, pulling out three boxes. It was MY picture sleeve collection (with records). I had entirely forgotten about it. If he had stolen it, I would have felt no loss.

Proofreader job-opening at Toyota USA. (Not a local-made sign.) Or maybe just English speakers.


In the very peculiar 1955 movie “Tight Spot,” in which gangster moll Ginger Rogers is kept in a hotel room before testifying at a trial, we occasionally see henchmen, dolts, watching a corny country singer on tv. As in the same-era “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter,” tv is presented as a ridiculous contrivance for dunderheads at the height of its encroachment on movie attendance. But the dunderheads were the filmmakers with their clumsy message ... Seeing Beyonce, it became clear that the Grammys, and much music today, is cabaret. Except for the specific gyrations, her act is no different from Liza Minelli’s ... TV news moron, at the shoot-out cabin, lays low as gunfire begins and says dementedly “I am right here in the center of the action” 2 and the host-fool at the station panickedly cautions “Carter, I want you to stay safe!” as if Carter was leading a charge, not cowering behind a car all puffed up about his proximity. Next you hear a cop scream “You. Get the fuck out of here!” We didn’t see him shrink away, nor hear the ‘hero’ chided.

2 Implied is “for you,” as if stepping on a live wire will be beneficial to us.

An obit to cry for

William Yarley, in the 3-6 NYTimes, gives Edsel designer Roy Brown Jr some small props, saying the car’s design was initially praised, then joins the cheap-shot fray citing ‘Many people’ and “others” 3 who made easy and amusing slams about the vertical (“horse collar,” never head that one) grill and the car’s chrome, size and bulk. Gee, 1958, this bulky car sure did stand out against the chrome drenched ‘58 Buick behemoth and the room sized Chevy and the pool-sized Lincoln. Didn’t “Many” or “some” knock those two-ton giants also? Get the whole picture, Bill!

3 Grounds for firing, once they make me editor of the NYT.

Len Chandler

On the Bill Cosby Tribute on PBS, Dick Gregory introduced ‘another activist’ from the civil rights movement, Len Chandler. Len nervously talked about writing “Beans In My Ears,” the Serendipity Singers’ followup to “Don’t Let The Rain Come Down.” When this child-song (“My mommy said not to put beans in my ears”) started to get airplay (it got up to #30) it was pulled off the radio when kids started putting beans in their ears.

The event wasn’t the place for this anecdote by an unknown. He began to sing it and asked the audience to sing along. None knew it, but some made a half-hearted effort. In a setting where he should have been honored like Cosby, he was presented poorly.

I’ve known Len since the 1973 from the weekly Songwriters Showcase at Capitol Records. Len ran it with his friend and partner John Braheny, who died in January. In 2000 or so I had Len on my show and he spoke of how he traveled to Mississippi at the height of the civil rights crisis and dodged bullets, and how he and others were expected to be at rallies, but, he mused good-naturedly, “nobody thought we needed to be paid.” Still he stayed the course, and pointed out the little-heralded fact that he sang alongside Bob Dylan and Joan Baez before Martin Luther King’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial. Also he was part of Lew Irwin’s team of news parodists on LA’s KRLA, where every night he would string together a song about the day’s news.

He has had a rich history that I can barely scratch and he soldiers on. His appearance on the Washington DC stage for the Cosby thing was surely edited down to that silly song.
He has a lot more to say

Instrumentally speaking

When the Everlys got to WB Records Don was given a hand at record production. The single he produced, under the name Adrian Kimberly, was a very cool rockish version of “Pomp & Circumstance.” However, its June 26, 1961 release came just in time to miss high school graduations. Also, the “no more pencils no more books” chant may have queered its chances ... The #83 mid-1960 record “National City” by the Joiner, Arkansas Junior High School Band” 4wasn’t. Producer Joe Saraceno paid Wrecking Crew musicians to do this punchy song and made all the money. It’s the same way he still, today, collects every time someone uses hand-claps and foot stomps to precede a chant of “Let’s Go” -- he was the Routers too. In the 60s most instrumental groups were studio guys, and the bands you saw at concerts were ringers.

4 There was no marching band at any junior high school in Joiner, Arkansas. Joiner was the hometown of one of the musicians. The session was helmed by Ernie Freeman.

Readin’ writin’

In Mark Twain’s letters, he cites an instance of something by saying that he “instanced” it. He also refers to the “by and bye.” Says he “clove to his plan.” And is he the source of “If he had a mind, he was unable to make it up”? Writing that he was “brimful of interest” made me smile.

I am not pro or con The New Yorker, just have no time for it. But skimming the 1-14-13 ish at the doctor’s office, I closed it as quick as I opened it when I saw the word “quintessential” in a story by Rachel Aviv. People have flash points.


When I was sixteen I cashiered (did, was) at a Walgreens. You got 10% spiff for selling house brand products, so if someone asked for aspirin I’d say “Walgreens brand OK?” and if so I’d mark down the 49 cents on a ledger and at the end of the week get 4.9 cents. This push led to really stupid situations, like when a guy asked for rubbers and I with my pimple face would say “Try these?” Once they balled me out for writing down the sale of a 10-cent aspirin tin (Bayer’s was 12 cents) 5. “Very funny” the manager told me, but it was legit!!! ... Turner Classic Movies, integritous but not bulletproof, posts only a half a day’s movies on its scroll. “TO BE ANNOUNCED” is code for “If you want that info subscribe to our magazine or go to our website full of ads” ... The college Alumni pitch to ensure the accuracy of my stats (hope it’s not my grades!) says “Phone only.” This is delivered by email. But on email they can’t put that donation arm on you ...The Dylan line about “threw the bums a dime” i.e., “You’re a big shot,” isn’t as ludicrous as it sounds today. A dime then is a dollar now. When I handed a buck to the bundled-up guy outside Staples at 9 pm I wondered ‘What can he do with that?’ ... Panda Express must post its caloric content. A big sign says “With three entrees, 440 Calories to 2640 calories. I’d guess the former is three orders of broccoli hold the butter ... JC Penneys hired a guy from Apple to save the company. First thing he did was eliminate weekend discount sales. Based on the Apple model, his next move will be to set prices by multiplying cost by a hundred ... Sneaky trick at a celebratory dinner where we split a check. When I’ve split one at the cafe near me it’s come on a computer printout with half the price and a tip guide for the half. But at this french restaurant both copies calculated a 20% tip on the whole. I’ll bet plenty tipsy splitters tip 40 per cent ... When the local towing agency who works for AAA replaced my car battery I asked for the dead one to take to the gas station that sold it to me. “That will cost you $25” the guy said. Wha? Huh? “We have to give your dead battery to AAA to prove that we didn’t trick you.” THAT’s a business model!

5 I was visiting the Sherry-Netherlands Hotel in 1979 when a friend asked me to run down and get her a little aspirin tin. When the guy said “a dollar” I stopped and said “How much is a nickel Kleenex pack?” Fifty cents, he said.

Another business model, lower class.


I have a very clear analogy for life. You are handed a basket of greased water balloons - opportunities - and must hold on to as many as you can as they slip from your grip. Finally you are left with one or two, and they’re not the ones you wanted ... I tell my daughter that life is like a baseball game. Most of it is boring. Insignificant errors can open up an avalanche of retribution (runs), and sometimes the call at the plate is wrong but you must accept it. Also, if you succeed one out of three times at bat - or at anything - you’re doing splendidly ... A big high school reunion is coming up. A 2000-mile trip? I wanted to get OUT of that place !


A teen was given a stack of albums and a record player. He reported to his dad about the songs he liked.

The dad mentioned a few songs. The kid knew some of them, but not all. “Didn’t you play the other side?” he asked.

“You can turn it OVER?” the kid said.

Old School

This is the first time I’ve used ‘old school.

The “Learn about your iPhone” class offered by Apple stores is a clarion call to retirees. Limited to five students at a time, it is held in an open corner of a store where a young person holds up a phone and says “I’ll never have time to tell you everything.” The progress is clunky, with people of varying expertise impeding progress with questions like “How do you turn it off?” And one built-in app, or whatever its called, raised my blood pressure.

“If you press this twice, the text reverses to white on black. That’s for when you’re at a movie or a concert and you don’t want to distract people sitting near you.”

“Wrong!” shouted a Civil War veteran. “You should never open one of these gol dang things in a theater!” The rest of us struggled up, raised our canes and huzzahed.

It’s a mixed-up muddled-up shook-up world!

Gerry Depardieu:

“I am sick of socialism. I’m moving to Russia!”

- 57 -

Mark On The Move
Mark Leviton
It was a great month for live music. 

The night before the Grammy Awards, Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, who have a new album “Old Yellow Moon,” invited friends to an old-fashioned Nashville-style “guitar pull” at The Troubadour.

They brilliantly performed “Bluebird Wine,” a Crowell song he never recorded, from Emmylou’s first album, his classic “’Til I Gain Control Again”  and several songs from their new album.  Crowell introduced the Roger Miller song “Invitation To the Blues” as “as close as country music gets to Howlin’ Wolf” and boy was he right – he and Emmylou nailed it.  That alone was worth the $50 ticket price.
I stood next to the stage. It was thrilling to see many of my favorite performers up close in a club I’ve been going to since 1970 - it resonates with appearances I’ve seen over the years.  Bonnie Raitt paid tribute to Richard Thompson (who’s about to tour with Emmylou & Rodney but couldn’t make this show) with a fantastic “Dimming Of the Day” and the inevitable but welcome “Angel From Montgomery.”  (Bonnie and Emmylou warmed my heart when they asked people to put down their damn camera phones and “be in the moment”.)  Joan Baez did Steve Earle’s “God is God” and her own “Diamonds and Rust,” and explained that she almost didn’t make the gig because she’s planning her mother’s 100th birthday party.  J.D. Souther performed “Closing Time” and “Sad Café” after describing The Troubadour as “my university.” 

John Fullbright, one of my favorite young singers, did a fine new untitled song that equalled those on his debut Grammy-nominated album “From the Ground Up.”  The always-glowing Joan Osborne performed a new song she’s working on with the band Trigger Hippy: “This Is How You Work On Me” was one of the show’s highlights.  Shawn Camp did a peppy “Sis Draper.” Damien Rice cried out “The Blower’s Daughter” as if channeling the intensity of Tim Hardin’s most downbeat moments.  Also playing were Shannon McNally and The Zac Brown Band.
On Mardi Gras night (February 12), Allen Toussaint and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band brought some New Orleans spirit to Royce Hall at UCLA.  The DDBB are a workmanlike funky bar band like many in NOLA, and the UCLA crowd danced in the aisles and went crazy for time-tested songs like “When The Saints Go Marching In.” (I concentrated on the sousaphone player, who seemed to be having a good time and knew what he was doing.) 

Then came the masterful and gaudily dressed Toussaint to show what genius sounds like. (Many in the audience walked out during his set – maybe they came only to dance.)  With a small, expert band Allen did hits with which he’s associated (“A Certain Girl,” “Fortune Teller,” “Mother-in-Law,” “Working In a Coal Mine”), Professor Longhair’s “Tipitina,” an unexpected and riveting instrumental version of “St. James Infirmary” and a warm rendition of Steve Goodman’s “City of New Orleans” with delicate, inventive pianistic aplomb (for my money this guy’s the Mozart of New Orleans).  And he was playful during the smoothly funky “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley” and “Yes We Can Can,” with its tricky, jumping time signature. 

He doesn’t venture out from N.O. that often; I shall see him each time he does.
The next evening I caught Eric Burdon’s set at Amoeba Records in Hollywood.  He did three cuts from his good new album “’Til Your River Runs Dry,” and then some Animals songs. The set went “Water,” “The Devil & Jesus,” “Wait,” “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” “Before You Accuse Me” and “House of the Rising Sun.”  His band included the exciting guitarist Eric McFadden.

They sounded even better the next night at the Grammy Museum playing the same set with more electric guitar volume and confidence.  The post-set Q&A with Eric was also delightful, although some audience members insisted on using the time to tell stories rather than ask for them. (“Hey Eric, we smoked a joint backstage at the Golden Bear in 1991.”)  He wistfully recalled meeting some of his blues heroes at age 15, sitting at the feet of Memphis Slim in Paris and hanging with Muddy Waters at clubs in Newcastle-on-Tyne, his hometown. Also of his run-in with imperious Nina Simone, who never made a secret of her dislike of The Animals’ success with “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” which was written for her and recorded a year before the British group’s 1965 transatlantic smash version. 

Possibly his best bon mot was contrasting two visits to San Francisco in 1967. The first, he said, was early in the year, when he saw Lenny Bruce perform before a sharp Playboy-type crowd at the Hungry i. The second was later that year when he got off the airplane and saw that “someone had thrown colored paint over the whole city.” 

From such seeds – and some Owsley acid -- came his second-era hits “Monterey” and “San Franciscan Nights.”  Despite his many years of hell-raising, drinking and drug-taking, Eric (b. 1941) looks and sounds fine.  He’s got a young wife and is writing his third memoir.  Bless him!

-- Mark Leviton
(Mark’s sixties-themed radio show Pet Sounds can be heard alternate Wednesdays 10pm-Midnight PST on KVMR-FM 89.5 in the Sacramento area and streaming at www.kvmr.org )

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