Another Fein Mess
AF Stones Monthly
Jan 2 Went with Diane to join the throng hailing the LA return of the Jim Jones Revue to the Viper Room. Got there at 9:45 figuring theyd go on at 11 and it would be sparsely attended bec nobody here has ever heard of them, but the band had just got onstage and the room was packed like a sardine can. I already had a high-quality experience of them at SXSW and didnt relish standing on tip-toe so we left. I contributed $30 to their coffers, maybe theyll come back.
Jan 5 ELVIS SHOW - The 28th (I cant keep count, first one was 1987, I took over in 1988) annual Elvis birthday show ran 3 days early, a good thing, a Sunday not a work night. (Next year will be a Sunday, too - either Jan 4th or 11th.) About 30 acts, down from the 36 promised: five acts got the flu, one was a no-show. Things went swimmingly, first timers were shocked by the professionalism of the musicians and the joyful atmosphere, while regulars just smiled. Joy was afoot for nearly 6 hours. (Photos by Paul Body, Shirley Hernandez, Doug Edwards, Todd Everett and Art Fein.
Miss Ketty Lester
Miss Donna Loren
Alias Means takin it to the limit
The Skip Heller Choir
Mighty Mo Rodgers, Harry Orlov
Handsome Paul Body about to introduce The Stardust Ramblers
Joe Finkle & Band
David Klingman of the South Bay Surfers
Rockin Steve Stanley
Rip Master, in the Loving You shirt
Carla Olson, Gary Myrick
Hot Rod Trio
Talking Treason - Laura Smith and Bob Ricketts
Jan 13 Took New York visitor Andy Schwartz on a spin around town in the SAAB convertible. At Rockaway Records he met owner Gary Johnson.
Jan 16 The Screamin Rebel Angels, featuring Brooklyn club booker Laura Rebel Angel, carried on wildly at this, their debut LA show. Come back soon! (This vid doesnt catch her voice too well, but gets the point across.) The eastern-based Three Blue Teardrops, also cool, closed the show at 1:30 am.
Jan 17 Boppin Bebo and his Goodtime Boys were the middle act of a 3-band rockabilly bill at Viva also featuring Josh Hi-Fi Shoriem and The Black Mambas.
Revelers rejoiced at this rockin summit.
Jan 19 The LoveyDoveys made a return appearance at Viva Cantina for Jonny Whitesides birthday gathering. Smoothe hip-notic sounds from this unique new band.
Pearl Harbour cappin off Jonnys birthday bash!
Jan 24 My first time inside the Disney Hall, downtown, for LA Philharmonic rehearsal, dragged by sweetheart Diane. I said I would try, and stayed til the intermission. No reflection on the musicians, I just gets jumpy. I sat in the lobby the second half. Diane said the full performance Saturday was tremendous.
Jan 25 When I saw the maple leaf symbol on the new restaurant on Selma I thought in astonishment Canadian food? I wasnt far off - its Montreal based. Just to the right is the Piano Bar, host one night a month to the Chuck E. Weiss Cosmic Happening,, whichI missed him again this night.
Jan 27 A new jar of Postum arrived in the mail! Early evening, went with Skip Heller, fresh from his concert swing through Seattle, to Dr. Hoggly Wogglys Tyler Texas Barbecue on Sepulveda and seriously over-ordered.
Jan 27 Jimmy Angel sang alone on the intended double-bill at Viva - Troy Walker cancelled, so Jimmy did two sets. The back room rocked.
On hand, several Beach Boy-related Jimmy fans: Nelson Bragg, Stevie Kalinich, Jez Grahme, David Marks, Gary Griffin .
Darlene Love interviewed on BBC. Narrator says its amazing that Christmas, Baby Please Come Home is as popular today as when it first came out. Hope not. That album flopped decisively upon its release 1. On top of defaming Christmas music with rock arrangements, its November 1963 release came at a time of national mourning that lasted til the Beatles came. It was not forgotten, it was ignored. Credit David Letterman, or rather Paul Shaeffer, for bringing her and that song to national prominence ... An acquaintance of mine, also a Paul, co-wrote a big country-pop hit in 1961 with a lyricist who became successful with a different partner. Twenty-five years later Paul needed money for a family emergency and he sold his half of the hits publishing to a big company for $7500. When told this, the ex-writing partner said Damn you. I would have given you $75,000 ... Someone hipped me to what was happening on the Muddy Waters/Rolling Stones Live In Chicago, 1982 show that ran last year on PBS. The stage in the small club became more crowded as the show progressed because neighborhood people hurriedly called performer friends and told them to get in on it. Seeing those unknown local Chicago bluesmen was a bonus that I dont think Muddy was all that happy about ... A record dealer here bought a Pendleton shirt worn on the Beach Boys first album cover from its original owner, only to have the BBs deny its authenticity when he put it up for sale. Subsequent examination established its validity, but I never heard whether it sold. Recently, Rockaway Records offered the surfboard from that first album cover for $250,000 and I asked owner Gary if this was sane. Sure, why not? he said. XXX got $50,000 for the Pendleton.
1 Though it was widely known and respected in the record industry. The Jackson Fives Xmas album followed Phils arrangements first, Springsteen later.
Wikipedia - anyone can write your life
* The Knacks first albums Beatle-style artwork led detractors to call it a Beatle rip-off.
Doug always said The Clashs first album covers lettering was a copy of Elviss first album. It was a tribute, just like ours. Where was the outrage?
* That perception quickly led to the Nuke the Knack campaign. Quickly LED? Inspired is inappropriate, prompted a wise-ass in San Francisco to attack a band from L.A.
* The entry claims the band was perceived as this or that, as if it was universal. Millions outside of a sickly circle of snickerers voted otherwise with records and concert tickets.
Its crit -talk. Hundreds of people with typewriters and a print outlet. People who loved the band crushed the smirkers numerically, but when all is said and done the official history is written by misfits much older, even when young, than a normal person.
When did junkie enter polite parlance? Vinyl junkie is sordid and unsavory. How about pervert? Perv has a nice ring ... I know this verges on pedantic, but when someone says that a speaker stepped up to a podium I remember what a wise man told me: you stand ON the podium, root word pod, or foot. You stand AT the lectern, or rostrum. Its unlikely the guy stepped up to a podium and then not onto it ...Watching The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T I was shocked to hear Hans Conreid say How dare you flaunt my authority! Even in 1953 people confused flaunt with flout ... A fire was caused by an illegal campfire. Would the fire have been better if the campfire was legal? The same for hit-and-run drivers. The injury or death by is less tragic when the driver is known? Theyre almost always accidents ... We all like scat-singing, but not scat. The verb to scat suits a singer, but not a cat. A cat doesnt scat. Well, maybe Mel Torme ... In a movie review, XXX gives a fearless performance. Hard up for heroes? The only fearless actor was Victor Mature. He wrestled lions.
It Happened On 5th Avenue is a title of a movie. What does it mean? Do things like it not usually occur on 5th Avenue, which, we must conclude always, is in New York City? These were my thoughts when I was young, and surely of many Americans. Is 5th Avenue great? Better than 4th or 6th? Am I supposed to know this?... On Jeopardy, a clue says a university is in SOUTH Manhattan, like that will help you. Its NYU. Is the geography of Manhattan something everyone knows? This is the kind of thing that troubled me in Chicago as a child. Why do people clap when someone says Brooklyn? To hell with these people, I thought. Of course Ive calmed down now ... Nooo. Watched the Ken Burns baseball docu recently. Volume 6 about the 1950s is NYcentricism overkill. The Dodgers and the Giants and the Yankees were big during the 50s AND THATS ALL ANY AMERICAN CARED ABOUT. Did other teams face those teams and win? WHO CARES? Marching past we see people both known and unknown telling us how great it was TO LIVE IN NEW YORK where baseball, well, meant more than anywhere else. If you lived in Boston, which had two teams? Screw you. Chicago? What good baseball team or fan lived there? We asked our New York speakers and they never hoid of em!
1-6 Randall Roberts Everly obit avers that listening to Everly Brothers songs now, you cant help but imagine teenage Liverpudlians Paul McCartney and John Lennon absorbing the Everly way around a phrase. The hell I cant ... 1-14, LATExtra Martha Groves IDs the man who bought a building to tear it down as Munger, who will turn 90 on Jan. 1. (Guess this was in overset.) Yet two graphs later, LA councilman Mike Bonins name had no age attached. He wasnt a target of her wrath ... Speaking of which, 1-25, Pete Seeger met Woody Guthrie at a Grapes of Wrath migrant workers benefit, according to scribe Claudia Luther, Elaine Woo or Valerie J. Nelson. Did Steinbecks publisher brand the rally, like the Staples Center? ... Mikael Wood, 1-10, writes that an event held in Coachella is perhaps the most prestigious music festival in America. I can say that with the same certainty ... Sometimes you have to look for the bright side. David Colkers 12-24 obit for a romance writer says she faced a real-life dilemma when she was found guilty of plagiarism. How dishonesty befell her were not told but it was just a bump on her road to greatness... Martha Groves 12- 21 Business section lead-in tells us that urban hipsters in New York (!) live in small hovels, while uber-rich (puke) people in Los Angeles live in behemoth homes. And thats the way it is ...
A storm coming south from Maine affects us how? Storm will test New Yorks mayor. This the only news in The Nation on January 3rd. Tina Susman reports crises in New York that havent happened... 12-27, August Brown considers Britney Spears future in her forthcoming Las Vegas residency like hes holding something stinky. No longer on the charts, she is not currently worshipped by crits so he addresses the ways her tenure could fail. Three days later Mikael Wood goes to her opening and reports with barely-disguised relish (the one-time pop star whos spent much of the last few years inching back from the brink) the shows gaffes. Its these guys chance to beef up their credentials as tough critics. Britney is no Bouncy ... The Jan 10 Homicide Report revealed that tiny Westmont has the citys highest murder rate. I didnt actually see an earlier memo asking if anyone at the Times owns property in Westmont, but Im sure it circulated at the paper ...
Why do reporters go to sites of shootings? They interview people who say I never expected this. Also, that people left notes and flowers in tribute to the dead. Tell us if they leave bananas or car bumpers.
With reduction of newspaper income, the return of front page black & white news photos looks like the return of dignity.
* One of the geniuses on the pawn shop TV series says his fathers mid-60s Chrysler Imperial convertible cost as much as a Rolls Royce when it was made. A 1935 Rolls maybe.
* Bill Moyers took the easy way out when he took this ticket to ride: The Edsel was a car so awful it is still synonymous with a costly flop. No, liberal boy, it was not terrible, it was derided out of existence by pinheads in the press. Goddam commie PBS heehawer.
I wonder if kids still go to college with as little knowledge as I did. I tried to get smart by going to foreign movies. But when I went to see an underground movie, Kenneth Angers Scorpio Rising, at the college recreation center and saw scenes of sailors with sparklers coming out of their fly I felt more lost than before I went in ... I know little about movies, so let me recommend a couple of Frenchies I took out from the library: My Worst Nightmare, a 201l Isabelle Huppert, mmm, situation comedy. Me and Diane laughed a lot. Also from 2011, Let My People Go, a confusing rapid-paced comedy about gays and Jewish families, resembling an Almadovar movie. (That Art Fein is so deep. Look at him drop names.) Not great, but curious.
Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On 2
Mid-month local tv news commemoration of the big 1993 earthquake here brought back memories of watching the lame tv coverage of the aftermath. That morning I drove to Van Nuys and saw people in bathrobes walking like zombies around collapsed buildings and thought Where are the news people? What we got on tv was a fixed camera at an apartment bldg in Northridge that pancaked on its car-park, and another at a collapsed parking structure where a man was trapped. Static, no-interest, duller than dirt. Maybe all their mobile vans got flat tires.
Today, hearing tv emptyheads reminisce touched my heart, with murderous rage. One woman spoke of how she rushed to her car (without makeup?) and raced to the studio. Why? The city needed HER reporting. I remember one earnest bubblehead, that day, confessing that she took the ambulance lane, so urgent was her need to read the news to us. Such flagrant preening.
2 In 1993 I made tapes appropriate to circumstances for my answering machine: Monday, Monday Tuesday Afternoon I Think Its Gonna Rain Today, and, of course, the Jerry Lee song for an earthquake. I had the presence of mind to put that one in the machine that morning.
Watching the 26-tape World At War series from the BBC, a Nazi wolf pack submarine commander reminisces about how they tracked US and English cargo ships and sunk them. Why was he talking at all? Or breathing ...
No one grabs the brass ring every time
* I wrote a book about LA rock & roll landmarks. I wrote it specifically without radio or local-only references so it would be universally understood, about locations concerning nationally-known acts, but the Massachusetts publisher did not understand this goal and marketed it to LA only. It got good press coverage, and a mention on MTV but sold poorly. Then I got a contract for a similar book covering the U.S. 3 While I was writing it two companies issued books like it, so my publisher stopped taking my calls.
* I gathered a dozen songs from local L.A. bands on an album on Rhino called L.A. Rockabilly. It was the subject of an LATimes Calendar front-page article. It sold 1500 copies. Rockabilly rules, but doesnt sell.
* In 1990 I had a meeting with a guy at MTV in New York about my music talk show. He watched my demo with me. (At this point I thought he might be Walter Matthau in Charade. People dont look at demos with you.) He said Can you interview Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart, people like that? I said sure. He was gone in a few weeks.
*A friendly reporter wrote a big front page article in the LATimes Calendar about my tv show. It spelled death. The guy, with good intention, wrote that he actually liked (exact quote) the show despite that we were middle-aged guys discussing the color of old 45 record labels. Missing the point misses by a mile the dull thud with which it landed. Nobody called.
* My producer friend said MTV people were asking him for ideas. He said hed mention my show. I sent them a demo. No response, but a month later I stumbled upon a brainless blonde on MTV interviewing Michael Richards ask Whats the first record you bought? 4 Then saw a new feature called My First Concert, where artists were interviewed about the first show they attended. These ideas, from my submission, failed in their hands (though they might've in mine)..
* But in 1990 I helped produce Jessie Fein, which paid off splendidly.
3 My big plan was to do a series of local-music books. The bands didnt have to be famous, locals and their relatives would buy them. People in towns not L.A. (we, here, have no cohesive self image) cling proudly to an identity. A book about, say, Chicago bands, venues and songs would have found its way into many homes and Christmas stockings if enough names were mentioned.
4 That question, and the first-concert, were features of my show, and demo. What had me shaking the tv set was that he answered her question Wild One by Bobby Darin, and she shook her empty head like it was loose. I, of course, would have corrected him and said You mean Bobby RYDELL and we would have had a conversation.
One day in the 90s I went into the ultra-unfashionable Target store in North Hollywood and there was Janet Leigh, smoldering but not from passion, sitting in front of a pile of books. Near her were Halloween costumes strewn across the floor by some uncivilized parents who frequented this store. I couldnt afford the cost of her book, but shot her a look of compassion. Guess the book tour was organized in NY by someone unfamiliar with LA. Imagine ...
Say the word
On the CNN British Invasion docu, a kid in 1964 says We never saw anything like them. Theyre like aliens.
Being from England, they were aliens.
At least when you watch the Bob Dylan ad for Chrysler, it starts right up (like a Chrysler). You dont have to watch a damn advertisement first.
The British Invasion - CNN
Usual clips, same waxwork speakers. One bone of contention: People didnt see James Brown for the first time in The T.A.M.I. Show. A few did. That movie was not booked widely. Nobody had sound movie projectors. There were no videos. Only in retrospect do people cite its impact on music lovers. Like the Spector Xmas album, it gained stature 30 years hence.
TV news Monday - Stores that are selling supplies for your Super Bowl Party. Friday - The big day is almost here. Some people call it a good day to go to a movie or a restaurant. I dont begrudge people their own fun, but I resent marching orders.
The LATimes Calendar the following Monday: That Seinfeld reunion ad was crummy cries Mary Squawknamara! Is a bannered review of an ad what readers want?
Let them build an oil pipeline from Canada if they'll also build a water pipeline from glaciers to the western states.
Were my pants on fire?
In 1984 Ringo Starr was without a record label, so I slipped a copy of my LA Rockabilly album under his lawyers door with a note suggesting I produce a Ringo album for Rhino.
Early next January I got a call from someone saying he was Ringo. For five minutes I said OK, who is this really? but when he said Is Ray Campi still falling off his bass? I knew it was him. A gal friend was in the kitchen when I got the call, and I pointed to the phone and said Its Ringo Starr. She smiled and went back to reading the paper.
Rhino declined to pay for the album and the deal was dashed. Three years ago I spoke to Ringo at a friends memorial and mentioned this and he didnt remember it, saying he was pretty drunk in those days.
Weeks later I saw the kitchen gal again and told her about this wrapup of the Ringo call. What Ringo call? she said.
She hadnt believed me in 1984.
That magic touch
In the late 1990s, after our Elvis shows drew well at the House Of Blues - ah, them days - the HOB asked me to do one at their new venue in Las Vegas. I booked Wanda Jackson, Billy Swan, Rip Masters, Ray Campi, Frank Sprague and a local rockabilly band. The backup came from band leader Skip Heller, D J Bonebrake, Hank Van Sickle and Mike Rocke.
In Las Vegas, an Elvis show means guys dressed up like him. Our presentation of good acts doing his songs was not understood by the press, and the event drew few people, including a handful of Elvis imitators possibly protecting their turf.
After the show, Wanda Jackson, who was emerging into the mainstream after years on the gospel circuit, was beside herself. Her voice was hobbled by the desert dryness, and she felt she had done a bad show.
Well, at least there werent many people here! I said.
Mark On The Move by Mark Leviton
Albert Lees been having a long 70th birthday celebration. Lee (my favorite guitarist says Eric Clapton) was born Dec. 21, 1943 in Lingen, U.K., but since 1974 has worked almost exclusively in the States (he lives in Encino). Like many of his Brit contemporaries, American influences Cliff Gallup, Grady Martin, Merle Travis, Scotty Moore have made him sound more American than English from the git-go. He brought his band into Grass Valleys Center for the Arts on Jan. 18th and blew the roof off from the opener, Fats Dominos Im Ready, through his encore of Johnny Burnettes Tear it Up. His backup was outstanding: J.T. Thomas (keyboards), Will MacGregor (bass) and Jason Smith (drums) had no problem following Lees free-wheeling leadership, almost imperceptibly nodding when he wanted Thomas to solo, and they all sang well behind Alberts pleasantly reedy lead vocals too.
Lees been wielding his Telecaster since the early sixties, having come to prominence originally with Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds, and heading up the rockabilly & country-inspired Heads, Hands & Feet. I only vaguely remember seeing HH&F at The Forum --supporting Jethro Tull?but do recall their tune Country Boy getting substantial airplay on the FM dial in the early seventies. In 74 Lee moved to L.A. for a stint with The Crickets, then joined Emmylou Harriss Hot Band replacing James Burton (who went back to Elvis). Hearing Emmylous band live is when I really noticed Albert, a spectacular showman, spinning out snaky, long solos on tunes like Luxury Liner, using the Telecaster whammy bar to inject sounds somewhere between Dick Dale and Jerry Reed. After leaving Emmylou he spent five years with Eric Claptons band, and re-established his long-standing relationship with The Everly Brothers, becoming music director for their 1983 reunion concert. Since the Grass Valley show was only two weeks after Phil Everlys death, in tribute Lee included a wonderful version of No One Can Make My Sunshine Smile, a British Everlys hit that never made the U.S. charts.
The set list allowed Albert to show the full range of his abilities, and especially his ear for underappreciated songwriting gems. He sang Gram Parsons Wheels, John Stewarts Runaway Train, Hoyt Axtons Evangelina, Richie Havens Dreaming As One and (playing keyboard) Jimmy Webbs The Highwayman and Rodney Crowells Til I Gain Control Again. He fired up Carl Perkins Restless with a perky solo (as did J.T. Thomas), and revealed the Bakersfield sound within his own Country Boy. His exhuberant version of Richard Thompsons Tear Stained Letter included his longest and most thrilling solo, as he toured the Telecaster neck for effects, and kept ramping up the virtuousity with each chorus. With this kind of energy, he looks capable of celebrating a potential 100th birthday in fine form.