Thursday, May 25, 2017

recommended gigs


Thursday May 25 - Shoen Knife at the Beauty Bar

Friday May 26 - Television and the Weirdos at the Bunkhouse!
Friday May 26 - Super Zeroes, Agent 86 at the Double Down
Friday May 26 - the Mentors and the Mapes at the Dive Bar

Saturday May 27 - Time Crashers, Tiki Bandits at the Double Down
Saturday May 27 - Riot Gun, the Swank Bastards, Illicitor, Lambs to Lions at Evel Pie

Sunday May 28 - The Frank and Dino Show (from the Streetwalkin' Cheetahs) at the Double Down Saloon
Sunday May 28 - The Swank Bastards at Champagnes

Friday June 2 - the Protomen, 3d6 and Time Crashers at Vinyl

Saturday June 3 - Whiskey Breath reunion show at the Hideaway

Wednesday June 7 - Franks'n'Deans Weenie Roast at the Double Down

Thursday June 8 - The Acid Sisters, the Cave Singers and the First Sun at the Bunkhouse

Sunday June 11 - Rhyolite Sound with the Reeves Brothers at the Bunkhouse

Monday June 12 - Heroine, Shawn James, the Psyatics at the Beauty Bar

Friday June 16 - Melanie and the Midnite Marauders, Sheiks of Neptune, Danger Inc at the Huntridge Tavern

Saturday June 17 - the Bitters at Money Plays

Sunday June 18 - Guitar Wolf at the Beauty Bar

Friday June 23 - the Peculiar Pretzelmen and the Gentlemen of Four Outs at the Golden Tiki

Friday June 30 - Shanda and the Howlers at the Golden Tiki

Saturday July 8 - Blondie and Garbage at the Palms

Thursday July 27 - Black Pussy, the Freeks, Freelsd's bad trip at Triple B

Wednesday August 2 - the Delta Bombers at the Beauty Bar

Thursday Aug 3 - David Allen Coe at the Dive Bar

Saturday August 19 - the New Waves at the Golden Tiki

Wednesday Aug 23 - Les Grys Grys and the Van Der Rohe at the Griffin

Sunday Sept 3 - the Mapes, Gentlemen Prefer Blood, Odd Robot at the Dive Bar

Thursday Sept 7 - Sept 10 - Big Blues Bender at the Plaza

Friday Sept 8 - Mitch Ryder at the Golden Nugget

What have I forgotten? Lemme know

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Sin Eaters, the Psyatics and the Swamp Gospel at the Double Down Saloon, Saturday May 20, 2017


I like to celebrate my birthday by doing what I like best - playing music with good friends (and my lovely wife!). The Double Down Saloon was kind enough to let me set up this evening with a couple of my faorite local bands, for a night of amazing tunes.

The Swamp Gospel opened the night (as we do) to a sparse audience - maybe we started too early - but I'm grateful for those who supported and joined the congregation!



(SG photos by Nikki Ruffling, as usual - thanks Nikki! And thanks for the cookies!)

Our good pals, the Psyatics were up next and suddenly the club was packed! Coincidence or due to their awesomeness and the innumerable terrific reviews for their latest record, Famous Monsters? I tend to think it was the latter! Great set of songs from all of their releases but concentrating on that most recent one, with new man on the block Mark keeping the snappy, interesting beats behind Rob's rollickin' bass lines and Jack's guitar noize and non-stop movements. In fact, Jack's gyrations through out his guitar and he used the Swamp Gospel's sanctified 6-string for the rest of his sinnin' set!











Speakin' of sinnin', I was lucky enough to get another one of the best bands in town, the Sin-Eaters, for the night. These cats - Larry on drums, Jeffrey on harp and vocals, Wade on guitar and vocals and Chris Davis on stand up - are some of the finest musicians you're ever gonna hear and they blast out a blues-based back-beat that no one else can touch. Dynamic versions of tunes like "King Bee", "Skinny Woman", "Automatic", "Hip Shake Thing" and more that showcase everyone's expertise. They never fail to entertain and amaze.








Thank you again to the Double Down, the bands and everyone who came out!

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Checkers – Running With Scissors

With the CD cover looking a lot more punk-rock-menacing and less pure pop, this Checkers record (artwork again done by Tom Neely) replaces Chris Barfield with Lee Lebaigue on bass, but otherwise is the same band as on Make a Move .  

The production is strong here – overall better sound than on MaM – with a bit more new wave (they even cover GaryNuman!) mixed with their punk-pop sounds. Strong sing-alongs like “Come on Now” have clever call’n’answer choruses, and “Searching For You” has a great wrap-around vocal hook. They get a bit heavier on “Pick a Prize” and Numan’s “Blue Eyes” and the title track has a bit of new-wave synth noodling added to the mix. “We Are” breaks things up by slowing things down a bit and working more with dynamics but then “Turn Me On” chugs back in with chunky power chords and “Tag, You’re It” and “Bass Wolf” are high-quality pop-punkers.


More fun, girl fronted, highly melodic bubblegum punk!

The Checkers – Make a Move

LA pop fanatic Jim Freek ran Teenacide Records (“this ain’t rock’n’roll – this is Teenacide!”) for a while in the late 90’s/early 00’s and Julie Vox’s Checkers were one of his power-pop releases. Backed by ex-Tommyknockers/Fuzztones bassist Chris Barfield, guitarist GG King and drummer Mark Reback, the group put out a couple rockin’, danceable pop albums. Here they channel early melodic punk rock, garage, 70’s rock, girl-group sounds and whatever else comes to mind. Energetic’n’catchy, with clever vocal lines, really drivin’ bass runs and solid guitar’n’drum backing, the Checkers kinda remind me of Blondie crossed with the Vibrators and the Boys.

Pure pop originals mix with covers like “Observer” and “The Fanatic”, all given a reasonably simple rock’n’roll instrumentation (poppy one and two note guitar lines or Chuck Berry/Johnny Thunders riffs dominate), highlighting Julie’s strong voice.

Fun record – find it if you can!


(Funnily, friend of the Excessories (who were active at this same time), artist Tom Neely (who did caricatures of the Excessories for our web site) did the layout and design for this CD. The LA pop scene was fairly small!)

Chemical People – Arpeggio Motorcade

LA punk rock stalwart Dave Nazworthy (AKA simply Dave Naz) has done many projects over the years – musical and otherwise – and I got to know him a bit better for the short while when we backed Jeff Dahl for a handful of gigs (along with bass master John Duffy) in the early 2000’s. Dave had recently released this record and was kind enough to front me a copy.

Here Dave is frontman – lead vocals, guitar and saxophone (no drums, although that had been his main instrument at one time) – backed by Dave Landry on drums and Ed Urlik on bass. The Chemical People are punk rock without being thrashy and highly melodic without being typical “punk-pop”. Naz creates truly interesting melodies and progressions that stick with you without being cloying. I don’t think that I had really known much about CP before getting this record but they quickly became a favorite.

This record really works as a whole for me, without any one thing/song dominating the rest. There are plenty of variables, though, such as Joe Nolte (from the Last) playing lead guitar on “The Last One” (appropriately enough – oh yeah, Naz played with the Last at one point, as I recall), bassist Ed singing lead on “Can’t See Your Face” and Freda Rente singing some great counter-point on “No Reason Why”, a slow-to-mid tempo number with acoustic guitars.

A real stand-out and a big difference from an average punk-pop record is “No Hope”, a fantastic number with truly terrific, jazzy horn sections – I love the trumpet solo here! Not something that you would ever expect from someone immersed in the LA punk scene! The horns continue in “Waiting” to great effect – less jazzy, more classic-rock-accent-y – and who wouldn’t love the insane guitar noise that closes this one? It’s just Naz and his acoustic guitar on the 70’s-ish “It’s Up To You” and then the proceedings come to a close with the layered, riffin’ guitars and hep horns in “Forgot About”.


Released 20 years ago (!) on Cruz Records, this is still well worth searching out! Great songs, fine arrangements and plenty of variety. Dig it!

Cheap Trick - Dream Police

Cheap Trick – Dream Police
As I’ve said, I preferred the earlier, rawer – and the live – Cheap Trick to the studio albums where they got a bit bogged down in production and extra keys/synths/what-have-you. Their two guitar/ 12-string bass/drum attack was always my favorite sound from the band. I think this is a big reason why the Live at Budokan was such a big hit – people agreed that the group was best when they just rocked. I can rarely fault Rick Nielsen’s songwriting, but the studio excess sometimes overshadowed the tunes.

Dream Police is certainly an extension of the sounds that they explored on Heaven Tonight, with plenty of keyboards and strings throughout the record. The opening title track is undeniably a cool, catchy, dynamic rock’n’roll number, but the guitars are a bit more buried than I would like. “Way of the World” is positively smothered in strings, making it sound a bit weaker than I think it actually is but they strip things down to a rockin’ guitar riff for “The House is Rockin’ (With Domestic Problems)”, appropriately so, as it is a song about teenage angst and frustration. “Gonna Raise Hell” is a bit slower, head-bangin’ kinda number and nicely stripped down, as well, although the lengthy, string-laden mid-section goes on a bit long and the subsequent addition of strings isn’t really necessary.

Originally written back in 1974 when the band was first starting, “I’ll Be With You Tonight” is a bit innocuous, but a guitar-driven, rockin’ pop number and then “Voices” is a quiet ballad based on multiple harmonies (hence the title, I suppose) that I personally never cared for. Rick says he was trying to emulate Roy Wood in “Writing on the Wall” and I can certainly see that – definitely Wood-like melodies throughout this upbeat song. Tom Peterson gets to sing one on the Velvet Underground inspired “I Know What I Want” and the LP closed with slowly incessant “Need Your Love”, which was a highlight on the Budakon record and is done well here, without much added fanfare and ya gotta dig the rave-up ending where they rip off T.Rex’s “Bang a Gong”!

The bonus tracks on the CD include a very high-energy, rockin’ live take on “The House Is Rockin’” that segues seamlessly into “Goodnight Now”, a live “Way of the World”, “Dream Police” without the strings and with a bit more guitar, and closing with a live take on Petterson’s “I Know What I Want”.


Certainly not their best record, but even with the over-done production, still a solid piece of powerful pop.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Cheap Trick - Heaven Tonight

I just noticed that I have only spoken about the first two Cheap Trick LPs, which isn't that much of a surprise as they are by far my favorites. The rawness of the debut record can't be beat and while In Color is a bit more polished'n'pop, it still rocked heartily. Heaven Tonight, their third record, has some fantastic songs, but the production was always a bit too glossy for my tastes. Live versions of these songs were always pretty exceptional.

One of their most famous songs is, of course, the amazing "Surrender". Kinda pop perfection in its songwriting, though, as I said, I prefer the live versions without the extra added keys'n'synth. Still, an incredible opener for any record. Rick Nielsen pulls out some great guitar pyrotechnics before turning over "On Top of the World" to the incredible voice of Robin Zander. They show how hip they were to great British music by covering the Move's "California Man" (even giving a nod to their tune "Brontosaurus"), while "High Roller" hearkens back to the darker numbers from the first record though still with a pop edge, naturally. Another showcase for Zander is "Auf Wiedersehen", where he gets to croon long, drawn-out notes and then scream with a wild edge while Rick riffs around him. Of course, Bun E. and Tom (using a 12 string bass for the first time on record, according to Wikipedia!) keep the groove rockin'.

The group gets a bit Beatles-y and psychedelic in the ballad-y "Takin' Me Back" and then give a pop dedication to the radio DJ's who used to make the airwaves special, back to the Beatles for the "She's So Heavy"-like title track, which is taken much more menacingly in this context - more of a threat than a promise of pleasure. Back to a basic (and great) rock'n'roll number in "Stiff Competition", with more than a hint of the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" in the power chord hook. They reference their own "I Want You to Want Me" in the vaudeville-esque "How Are You?" and then close with an ode to a fave concert stop, Eau Claire, Wisconsin in the brief closer "Oh Claire", sung in Japanese, foretelling their massive hit with Live at Budokan.

The CD gives a couple of outtakes as bonus tracks - a bit rawer take on "Stiff Competition" (Robin positively growls throughout this one) and a more stripped down "Surrender" where Robin forgets some words and loses his voice here'n'there, which makes it fun.

Yeah, the hard edges have been glossed over a bit, but still a great power-pop record!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

recommended gigs


Wednesday May 17 - Gold Top Bob at the Double Down

Friday May 19 - The New Waves at the Arts Factory

Saturday May 20 - the Swamp Gospel with the Psyatics and Sin Eaters at the Double Down

Thursday May 25 - Shoen Knife at the Beauty Bar

Friday May 26 - Television and the Weirdos at the Bunkhouse!
Friday May 26 - Super Zeroes, Agent 86 at the Double Down
Friday May 26 - the Mentors and the Mapes at the Dive Bar

Saturday May 27 - Time Crashers, Tiki Bandits at the Double Down
Saturday May 27 - Riot Gun, the Swank Bastards, Illicitor, Lambs to Lions at Evel Pie

Sunday May 28 - The Swank Bastards at Champagnes

Friday June 2 - the Protomen, 3d6 and Time Crashers at Vinyl

Saturday June 3 - Whiskey Breath reunion show at the Hideaway

Wednesday June 7 - Franks'n'Deans Weenie Roast at the Double Down

Thursday June 8 - The Acid Sisters, the Cave Singers and the First Sun at the Bunkhouse

Sunday June 11 - Rhyolite Sound with the Reeves Brothers at the Bunkhouse

Monday June 12 - Heroine, Shawn James, the Psyatics at the Beauty Bar

Friday June 16 - Melanie and the Midnite Marauders, Sheiks of Neptune, Danger Inc at the Huntridge Tavern

Saturday June 17 - the Bitters at Money Plays

Sunday June 18 - Guitar Wolf at the Beauty Bar

Friday June 23 - the Peculiar Pretzelmen and the Gentlemen of Four Outs at the Golden Tiki

Friday June 30 - Shanda and the Howlers at the Golden Tiki

Saturday July 8 - Blondie and Garbage at the Palms

Thursday July 27 - Black Pussy, the Freeks, Freelsd's bad trip at Triple B

Wednesday August 2 - the Delta Bombers at the Beauty Bar

Thursday Aug 3 - David Allen Coe at the Dive Bar

Wednesday Aug 23 - Les Grys Grys and the Van Der Rohe at the Griffin

Thursday Sept 7 - Sept 10 - Big Blues Bender at the Plaza

Friday Sept 8 - Mitch Ryder at the Golden Nugget

What have I forgotten? Lemme know

Monday, May 15, 2017

Riot on Sunset Strip - Rock'n'Roll's Last Stand in Hollywood by Domenic Priore

Domenic Priore was a mainstay of LA's Sixties revival in the 80's, where he worked on a cable TV show dedicated to the genre, club gigs and much more. He is now an author with this book dedicated to the original 60's sounds of Los Angeles.

Domenic provides lots of history on LA’s club and music scene starting long before the 60’s r’n’r explosion with plenty on the jazz, soul, r’n’b, doo-wop and every other genre that made an impression in LA, including the influential Chicano musical culture. There are cool tidbits on the history of bands like War and phrases like "Burn Baby Burn", which came from DJ Magnificent Montegue as a call to inspire musicians to rock harder, not as a call to immolate the city (as it came to be, starting with the Watts riots).

The book is incredibly well-researched with a dizzying amount of facts regarding who played with what version of which band and what label they released which particular song on. My head begins to spin as I try to keep track of everyone, but the point is that there was a vibrant music scene all throughout the greater LA area and Priore does his best to capture the excitement and the energy of the sounds. There are plenty of interviews with band member, fans and fans who later formed bands, giving a personal touch, along with Domenic's own recollections. 


Besides detailing the history of the LA music scene, he also describes the architecture, art, politics and social structures of the pop scene at the time, giving perspective and foundation for the music scene. Although the book is more of an overview of 60's Los Angeles, rather than an essay on the actual riots that occurred on Sunset Strip, he does detail those events, as well, which turned out to be an end point of the vibrancy of the club scene, which never really recovered.

This is a great read for anyone who is interested in the incredible talent that spun out of the LA area and shows that Southern California was at least as important as any other major hub for creating the sights and sounds of the 60's.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

recommended gigs

Friday May 12 - the Swank Bastards with the Sheiks of Neptune, Boss Fight and Badger at the Dive Bar
Friday May 12 - Vaudeville Cabaret at the Artisan with the Unwieldies, Mizz Absurd, Skler Elaine

Saturday May 13 - the Swank Bastards, Mizz Absurd, Psychotic Reaction at the Double Down

Wednesday May 17 - Gold Top Bob at the Double Down

Friday May 19 - The New Waves at the Arts Factory

Saturday May 20 - the Swamp Gospel with the Psyatics and Sin Eaters at the Double Down

Thursday May 25 - Shoen Knife at the Beauty Bar

Friday May 26 - Television and the Weirdos at the Bunkhouse!
Friday May 26 - Super Zeroes, Agent 86 at the Double Down

Saturday May 27 - Time Crashers, Tiki Bandits at the Double Down
Saturday May 27 - Riot Gun, the Swank Bastards, Illicitor, Lambs to Lions at Evel Pie

Wednesday June 7 - Franks'n'Deans Weenie Roast at the Double Down

Sunday June 11 - Rhyolite Sound with the Reeves Brothers at the Bunkhouse

Monday June 12 - Heroine, Shawn James, the Psyatics at the Beauty Bar

Saturday June 17 - the Bitters at Money Plays

Sunday June 18 - Guitar Wolf at the Beauty Bar

Friday June 23 - the Peculiar Pretzelmen and the Gentlemen of Four Outs at the Golden Tiki

Friday June 30 - Shanda and the Howlers at the Golden Tiki

Saturday July 8 - Blondie and Garbage at the Palms

Wednesday August 2 - the Delta Bombers at the Beauty Bar

Thursday Aug 3 - David Allen Coe at the Dive Bar

Wednesday Aug 23 - Les Grys Grys and the Van Der Rohe at the Griffin

Thursday Sept 7 - Sept 10 - Big Blues Bender at the Plaza

What have I forgotten? Lemme know

Thursday, May 04, 2017

recommended gigs

Thursday May 4 - 3d6, Water Landing, Dr Phobic, Forget Me Nows at Backstage Bar and Billiards

Wednesday May 10 - Johnny Zig and the Highlighters at the Double Down

Friday May 12 - the Swank Bastards with the Sheiks of Neptune, Boss Fight and Badger at the Dive Bar
Friday May 12 - Vaudeville Cabaret at the Artisan with the Unwieldies, Mizz Absurd, Skler Elaine

Saturday May 13 - the Swank Bastards, Mizz Absurd, Psychotic Reaction at the Double Down

Wednesday May 17 - Gold Top Bob at the Double Down

Saturday May 20 - the Swamp Gospel with the Psyatics and Sin Eaters at the Double Down

Thursday May 25 - Shoen Knife at the Beauty Bar

Friday May 26 - Television and the Weirdos at the Bunkhouse!
Friday May 26 - Super Zeroes, Agent 86 at the Double Down

Saturday May 27 - Time Crashers, Tiki Bandits at the Double Down

Wednesday June 7 - Franks'n'Deans Weenie Roast at the Double Down

Sunday June 11 - Rhyolite Sound with the Reeves Brothers at the Bunkhouse

Monday June 12 - Heroine, Shawn James, the Psyatics at the Beauty Bar

Saturday June 17 - the Bitters at Money Plays

Sunday June 18 - Guitar Wolf at the Beauty Bar

Friday June 23 - the Peculiar Pretzelmen and the Gentlemen of Four Outs at the Golden Tiki

Friday June 30 - Shanda and the Howlers at the Golden Tiki

Saturday July 8 - Blondie and Garbage at the Palms

Wednesday August 2 - the Delta Bombers at the Beauty Bar

Thursday Aug 3 - David Allen Coe at the Dive Bar

Wednesday Aug 23 - Les Grys Grys and the Van Der Rohe at the Griffin

Thursday Sept 7 - Sept 10 - Big Blues Bender at the Plaza

What have I forgotten? Lemme know