July 10, 2015
We have enjoyed the hospitality of the International Pop Overthrow Festival many times. Started by pop activist/supporter David Bash, and run by Mr. Bash and his fantastic girlfriend/ rockin’ partner Rina Bardfield, the “I.P.O.” hosts festivals in numerous cities every year. We’ve participated in their San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Liverpool shows (as well as contributed several tracks to their annual CD compilations). These two shows at the Cavern were part of the 13th Annual Liverpool I.P.O..
For anyone who saw our 2011 shows in Liverpool, you know what a struggle they were. I began that tour with a cold that had turned into a crippling laryngitis. No voice. We’d traveled some 6,000 miles, and I could not sing. We muddled through, and after a couple of shows, (only one would I classify as ‘terrible’ [laughs]) we got back on track.
Cousins Terri and Wendy grabbing a 'selfie' as we tuned up for our first show of the tour on the Cavern's classic "Front Stage"
All this to say, these shows were a triumph and a payback for the metaphorical blood we’d spilled on the Cavern stage in ’11. It was also a great way to kick off the tour; both Ron “Doc” Morse and Barbara Anderson-Jones, relative new-comers to the band, really stepped up and gave the rest of us a run for our money. It felt so good to connect with these great crowds. We were elated and thankful.
Our second show of the day. This time on the Cavern Club's "Back Stage"
Two shows that day at the Cavern: the first one in that classic looks-like-a-wine-cellar “Front Stage”, and the second in the larger, more-equipped “Back Stage”. In between, we enjoyed a magnificent performance from The Fast Camels a band out of Glasgow, Scotland (psychedelic, progressive, garage-rock-heavy).
The Fast Camels from Scotland
members of the Fast Camels cheer us on
Later that night I even came back to the Cavern to see the Lannie Flowers Band out of Texas. They’ve been good friends of ours for a couple of years now—shared stages with them in L.A., S.F., and Fresno. Great folks. Great and rockin’ band.
Lannie Flowers Band
July 6, 2015
This review from Liverpool Sight and Sound, and the two private blogs I’ve re-posted below were a great encouragement to us on the road.
It made it feel that it was worthwhile to have dragged my friends, who spent their time and money [and often had to do some heavy convincing of the folks at their 'day jobs'], 5,000 miles to go on this big, crazy tour.
Thank you to Liverpool Sight and Sound, Minty and the Beeb, and Sister Bluebird for the kind words!
from Liverpool Sight and Sound :
Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
The title of Lords of the back stage at The Cavern of this year’s International Pop Overthrow might be fought over with the same ferocity as men would have squabbled, bickered and fought over the throne of England in the days when such things mattered, arguably though one of the main contenders would surely be the inventive and insanely talented Blake Jones & The Trike Shop.
Certainly the best name of a band to feature at the 13th annual I.P.O. in Liverpool, the music is strangely addictive also, a smorgasbord of delight that lingers in the ether and in the mind long after the day has folded into history; the day may never be captured again but the freshness of the music on offer by this terrific group will somehow remain floating in the memory ether.
The spectre and ghostly shape of a Theremin cast its long shadow over the stage and to some may have looked like a dusty relic more attuned to the sound of the Progressive than the sounds of California power pop but the audience were soon to be enamoured by this musical nectar, an instrument that always seems to be in the hands of Heath Robinson when not played with concentration and skill.
With songs titles such as Even Van Helsing (Needs a Piece of Cake Every Now & Then), Ross Used to Play Us His Frank Zappa Records/Cold Pepsi and Crutouns and Every Train Stop and lively, almost as surreal as could be expected, version of The Beatles song I am the Walrus, the set was one of tremendous, energetic and animated pleasure. It offered everything in search of a smile and the added bonus of Maxi Dunn joining the band for a while on stage did much to make the smile broad and the cheering from fellow I.P.O. stable mates The Fast Camels only ensured that this really was a gig to remember.
Some sets are memorable for the songs, some for the display and others for what you learn about your hopefully increasing range of music compatibility, rarely do you get an afternoon in which all three are combined and delivered with such overwhelming heart. A terrific set by one of the quirkiest, supremely enjoyable acts of this year’s I.P.O.
Blake Jones & The Trike Shop will be performing at Zanzibar on Friday 22nd May.
Ian D. Hall
on the larger "Back Stage" of the Cavern Club
Day number 6……and of the four bands we saw today, there was just one band we had not already seen this year – Blake Jones and the Trike Shop
. From California, Blake is a shadow of his former self since we last saw him at the 2011 IPO, and he was looking trim and healthy and sounding great. David Bash primed the audience and told us we would be entertained, and we were.
This is another band who don’t turn the amps all the way up, and we could hear every instrument and vocal. With a flute and a Theremin alongside the traditional “pop” instruments we loved this band.
The songs are very well crafted, and this is another US band who do great power pop. The Theremin was used for a great instrumental version of “Goldfinger” and they wound up their set with a very Zappa influenced song (the clue was in the title) “Ross Used To Play Us His Frank Zappa Records”! It was brilliant.
thank you Sister Bluebird for this pic of the band on the 'front stage'
Sunday at International Pop Overthrow Liverpool 2015
Sunday has probably been my favourite day so far. What can I say, it involved a theremin!
Blake Jones and the Trike Shop returned to IPO Liverpool resplendent with said instrument. Their line up also involved a flautist.
A set full of fab tunes was rounded off with a Theremin version of Goldfinger and the song Ross Used To Play Us His Frank Zappa Records which is kind of epic.
I edged forward down one side of the Cavern to grab footage of the theremin on my phone.
June 24, 2015
with David Summers our long and true pal
On our previous two trips to Liverpool, our pal David Summers of Lancaster, UK had given us a walking tour of Liverpool,
and now, of course, it’s a tradition that must be upheld! We started of in the early-morning-almost-drizzle, up through the Dingle, the Empress Pub, Ringo’s two nearby childhood homes, up through Toxteth, over to the Anglican cathedral, then up Hope St.: The Liverpool Institute (where Paul & George went to school), next door Liverpool Art College (where John went to school), further up the street to Ye Cracke (student hang-out/pub), further on to the Philharmonic Pub (much fancier, had a nice lunch, and once again ran into our Texan friends from the Lannie Flowers band), and then to the Catholic Cathedral. At this point we parted ways. David had to get back to his Lancaster Life, Lauri and I wanted to walk around the city center a bit, Ron & John went looking for a guitar case, and Neptune and Barbara headed back for the peace of the Pineapple.
it started off drizzling but happy
in front of the Empress in the Dingle
y'know, if yer cute...you get first turn...
I do not know why I find this amazingly comedic....maybe you can explain....inside the most wondrous, gigantic Anglican Cathedral....
June 19, 2015
Lauri and I wished to explore some of the neighborhood streets (she’d found, in a brochure, that there were several
record shops in the area). There were record shops, clothes boutiques, etc. on nearby Oldham Street. It was one of those days
where, though the sun was peeking through, it looked like it had just rained, or that it was likely to rain, (very typical weather for this part of the world it seemed, and really nice). We popped into shops when it was drizzling, and then it would be clear when we came back out. After this process repeated itself a few times, we realized that we actually had the super-natural power to turn the rain on and off. We are expecting a call from Governor Brown in Sacramento any time now re: the help we can be with our own state’s drought.
We spent some time speaking to Russ in “Vinyl …Revival”? “Vinyl Revolution”?…He liked that I knew something of the mod-revival bands and ska groups –they had a single by “Squire” which I remember we played with in London on our last tour.
Our show tonight was at “The Thirsty Scholar”. There were a lot of unanswered questions: “Would there be a drum set?” was one of the largest in our minds–right behind “Guitar amps?”….Luckily, like all things on this tour it seemed, everything was more than alright.
Thanks to Tuesday Tony—the host of what *usually* is an open mic night [Tuesdays at this particular place], thanks to the bands playing with us for letting us use their gear–shout out to local hard-rockers The Hidden!!, and thanks to Neptune for doing all the cross-continental communication that made this gig (and the one on the next night) possible. BIG thanks.
The Thirsty Scholar was a club underneath a bridge. Had to think of Billy Goats Gruff..trip trap trip trap…
It was a time to meet up with friends. Awesome to see Andrew Hickey! Awesome to see Lucy Moon!
Lucy Moon was a great pal to us all (and even helped guide us under the bridge to this venue). And it was wonderful over the next two days/gigs to hang out with/converse with Andrew, one of our longest-running UK supporters. This man does everything from write well-thought-out editorials about the Beach Boys and their current touring bands, to run for local office. Dang, if he was running in California, I’d have to put my every-ounce-o’-strength into making him one of my representatives. Plus, he writes some good books. Buy ‘em here! click click.
Our plan today was to go visit the Rylands Library. Lauri’s great trust in tripadvisor.com always paid off, and this was #1 on their ‘things to do in Manchester’ list. We headed out on foot with a little map, and a GPS thing on the phone. As can happen, on the way, we stumbled upon some neat stuff.
Looks like some interesting things down this way...
Here was an inn that went back to the 1500′s, and then just around the corner was the Manchester Cathedral.
And then, just across the way for afternoon tea.
Then we continued on our way to the Rylands Library.
The gig for tonight was at the Tiger Lounge. We’d played here with Olly Neashum on our last trip here in 2011. It was another great evening hosted by Tuesday Tony (even though this was now Wednesday), and we were joined by some of the same people who were at last night’s show at the Thirsty Scholar. The comic Sophie Willan who had performed last night, not only did her set, but joined us for the closing anarchic googoogajoob section of “I am the Walrus”, and also invited John, Neptune and I to give her a funk background to one of her own bits. The band Jungfraus opened with their cool, Syd Barret-Soft Boys influenced tunes, and the riffing-heavy crunch of Half-Man/Half-Badger closed off the night. Thanks again to all of the groups that let us share their drums & amps!
June 18, 2015
with Roag Best (Pete's brother) on the Casbah Club "stage"
Another terrific breakfast at the Abel Hayward (during which, I called the Casbah Club and made a reservation for us to tour late that afternoon) , and then it was good-bye to Manchester. The basic plan was to get back to Liverpool, have a night’s rest before we had our big day of rehearsing with Maxi Dunn, then the gig that night. True to form, we took the basic plan and stuffed it very full of all the other wonderful things we could squeeze in (and this is why it took us all a good week or so to recover from this trip).
We took a train back to the Lime St. Station in Liverpool and got our things back to the Pineapple before taking a taxi out to West Derby Village and The Casbah Club. The Casbah was the basement teenage club started by Mona Best (Beatle’s drummer Pete Best’s mother). This is really where the Beatles got their start, first as the Quarrymen, and then as the Beatles. We’d visited here on previous trips ( this would be the *third* time for John), but this is a very special place–and when your tour guide is one of Pete Best’s brothers, you know you’re in for an entertaining time.
The Casbah, West Derby Village, on the fringe of Liverpool
"I know you. Don't I know you? ah, give us a hug anyways." Roag Best recognizes Doc as one of his own.
Paul & John (and Cynthia soon to be 'Lennon')
Lauri, in the same spot, under the Paul McCartney-painted ceiling.
We really didn’t have any set plans for the rest of the day, so we did what one does if one is lucky enough to be in an interesting and new place and the sun is shining: we wandered along. We walked down the residential street to the little village center and came upon the Sefton Arms Hotel, which looked like a nice place to stop for a drink. The weather was fine, and so was their nice backyard.
the back patio and grounds of the Sefton Arms Hotel
We wandered about another 1/2 block on towards the village church and noticed a park that seemed to stretch endlessly. This was a perfect kismet moment, as Lauri had been saying on the train earlier that day how she’d love to have a walk in the countryside. The train rides often teased us with that lovely English Countryside that we see on TV shows, but this being a music tour, we were pretty much hovering around the city centers. It really felt like a gift: the day was entering that ‘golden hour’ of late-afternoon/almost-sunset and the park really did seem to open up as far as we could see—very much like stepping into an English landscape artist’s work.
After a goodly walk, and seeing some extra-fuzzy cows, we ended up at a manor house straight out of a PBS costume drama. We saw signs that said “Cruxteth”…I’ll have to look all this up on the internet to figure out where we were.
Then it was the long trek back to the Pineapple (with a taxi’s help), a late night just-before-closing dinner raid on the local “chippie”, and to bed.
June 16, 2015
You'll Never Walk Alone
A wonderful element of all three of our overseas tours has been the ever-terrific Pineapple Pub & Hotel. Special thanks to Leland Vander Poel for finding this place for us on our first go-round. It’s in the Dingle, the neighborhood in which Ringo grew up. There are a few slightly sketchy areas adjacent, but mostly it just feels very real, and not at all touristy. You can easily walk down the street for views of the Mersey (or just climb out on the fire-escape) and just around the corner
is The Empress pub that’s just ’round another corner from Ringo’s old house.
The Pineapple feels like home and has become a cherished element of our Liverpool adventures. Yes, it’s not any sort of luxurious B & B, nor is it a shiny modern hotel…but it has personality, and that counts for a lot! And, the people make you feel at home and always call you ‘luv’, and that counts for a lot too!
the friendly staff of The Pineapple: Lorraine, Mary, & Tasha (Tony not pictured, but he'll still buzz you in.)
AND, they have that traditional, English fry-up breakfast every morning….oh, well, they don’t have that anymore. This disappointment was made up by the fact that I’d discovered the very terrific and yummy bakery just two doors down that had some pretty dang good chicken pasties. They were kind of like Chicken Pie Shop pies in these wrap-around pastries. Mmm, and so good for you! [?]). There’s also a fish and chip place (I think they call them ‘chippies’?) a few doors down the other way.
And climbing the stairs is always a great adventure. Bonus points if you were lucky enough to get a room on the third floor!
You may not be as fortunate as me, but if you’ve brought your wife, *and* you’ve just had open-heart surgery, your bandmates may cut you some slack and let you have the room with the bathroom.
Just like you picture in your imagination, this local pub serves as the meeting place and livingroom for many of the folks in the neighborhood. A good conversation is always imminent, even if all you’re trying to do is get out and hail a cab. If you’re in question which team they support, the bright red neon sign that says “You’ll Never Walk Alone” will help you sing the right song during the football game.
And it’s not a bad place for an unplugged band rehearsal, even if the bass player has to stand in the bathroom.
Maxine Dunn joins us to rehearse her song "Change the Record" which we included in our two Cavern sets.
June 15, 2015
There were several new (and thankfully positive) experiences ahead of us for this, our last day in Liverpool for the tour. In previous trips here, including the two shows we did here last Sunday, all of our shows in Liverpool had been part of David Bash’s International Pop Overthrow Festival. This was the first time we’d stepped out of that protective coating and been part of setting up a show on our own. But it really wasn’t ‘on our own’—and that leads to the next ‘new experience’ we had.) A local singer/songwriter/record-maker named Maxi Dunn set the show up. We’d met her through Mike Lidskin (our friend at Twirl Radio in Sacramento).
We’d asked her if she would set up a show, if we learned and backed her on a set of her songs.This would never have worked if Maxi wasn’t very professional, patient, and able to hold out in the often ridiculous world of Booking a Rock Show. (The true story is, that this show had negotiated itself through THREE different venues before landing at The Zanzibar. Every time something fell apart, Maxi picked up the pieces and put them back together again. What a great sport she is.) We met up with her at a place called Crash Studios (which turned out to be down a rather lonely ,spooky, Film Noir alley way—would you have it any other way?) in downtown Liverpool.
Inside there was just what we needed: helpful staff member, PA, drum set, amps, etc.. We got down to work: 3 or was it nearly 4? hours of rehearsal. We had 6 songs to work our way through. One of them we’d done last Sunday with her at the Cavern, but the other 5 we’d only worked up on our own, and things were still a bit dodgy—it’s not like we’d played these over and over on stage; we’d be playing all of this for the first time, and we really wanted to do well to show our appreciation to Maxi for helping us out.
After some serious work, we headed over to the Zanzibar…a bit of a trek on foot. Did that whole load in, hear a bit of a band soundcheck [this band was good: Gyrus...I wanna say Gypsy/WorldMusic/Radiohead mix],get a bit of a soundcheck in for ourselves, then we snuck off for a bite to eat–a noodle shop just around the corner. We got back as the music began–a solo gal delivering her set. This was a younger crowd. Interesting to see how we’d do. We got up. First song: “Sun Up”..half-way through a string breaks on my guitar. ah, on that particular guitar, the Mustang, one string breaks, the vibrato tail piece relaxes, and all the strings go wonky and out of tune. Maybe our streak of strong shows was about to fizzle, skid, and crash into the wall. The soundman, a friendly guy who was very much on our side, immediately saw what was up, popped in a tune on the PA.
The band waited patiently as I threaded on another B-string, tuned it up, and as the song on the club system finished, we were ready, and amped up with enough attitude to bring it home–and we did. Another strong set for the score card thanks to my good partners in the Trike Shop. “I am the Walrus” was especially raucous and shook the room nicely.
After a short break, up came Maxi Dunn ready to take the reins. She did well. We did mostly well. A lot of details, hand-signals, nods & winks, had been decided on in that mighty rehearsal earlier in the afternoon. Some of them worked, some of them were forgotten—I know I dropped the ball a couple of times, but all in all, for a band who’d played these songs with Maxi for just the one rehearsal, I think we delivered the whole thing fairly solidly. I hope she felt the same.
playing behind Maxi Dunn for her set at The Zanzibar in Liverpool
Lauri had thought the set was strong and had enjoyed the songs. She’s usually pretty straight up if we screw up, so I’ll trust her judgement.
After our set and Maxi’s, Lauri and I went to explore all the action happening on that corner. People were out in droves, and there were several interesting clubs right close by. The Jacaranda, and the Blue Angel, both places where the early Beatles played, were within a stone’s throw. The Jacaranda features some murals done by one-time-Beatle, Lennon’s friend and fellow art student: Stu Sutcliff. Lauri and I went downstairs and soaked it up for a bit.
downstairs at the Jacaranda Club
Then we headed back over to the Zanzibar to hear some more of the music, several of the young folks came up and told us how much they’d enjoyed the band. It seems odd typing about it here, but one young man was very moved by our theremin arrangement of “Caravan”–we had a good talk about how that was pretty much the point. When seeking a good answer to ‘why do we do this sort of thing’, a young person telling you how much the music lifted them up is the best answer I can come up with. So, after enjoying the solid rock sounds of another couple of bands, we headed back to the Pineapple and a close to the Northern Chapter of our tour.
with the singer of Gyrus
June 10, 2015
So, after our best string of shows there yet, it was finally time to leave The North, and our beloved, strange little love of the Pineapple Pub & Hotel. Today we were off for London. Exciting. Ron and Barbara had yet to visit there, and it had been 20+ years since Lauri and I had been there together. And a nice, long, relaxing, train trip through the English countryside is always a nice way to spend an afternoon. Hedgerows and everything so green to our California drought-adjusted eyes.
So many of the train stations in London are extremely charming. Euston station is not one of them. Very bleak, utilitarian…like a hospital that’s been full to capacity because the Rolling Stones are doing a benefit concert in the hall, except there are no Rolling Stones. This is the hardest part of traveling: minds blanked out by the long ride, and new challenges to confront. What’s the nearest Tube station to our hotel? What’s an “Oyster” card? Luckily, though they may not be as gregarious as their neighbors up in Liverpool, the folks down in London were also very helpful. One lady who we never quite worked out if she was working with British Rail or was just a good Samaritan, walked us through a labyrinth of halls and escalators to get us on the right platform.
Earl's Court...isn't that the name of a famous Led Zeppelin bootleg?
Finally we stepped out of the set of Brazil, and onto the set of a film made in London!: We filed out of Earl’s Court Tube Station and began to ask the wise wizard of google how to get to our hotel.
Most of us were pretty wiped out by now, in need of a little rest. We’d just played last night and finished a first week of travel and 5 shows so far. Plus, being away from home in exciting new surroundings, we were definitely not leading a temperate life-style full of healthful rest. Lauri and I, being amongst the most stubborn and willful creatures, still heeded the crazy voice in our heads “You’re in London. It’s not *that* late. You should go bop around!”–so we did. We saw that St. James Park, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Cathedral….all that stuff was just a tube station or two away. We set off.
Lauri knocked, but when they saw who was at the door, they decided to pretend they weren't at home.
June 9, 2015
One of the Hounds of the Baskervilles, but this one seems a bit more like a Scooby Doo
Lauri, John, Ron, and I started our day by getting to 221B Baker Street–home of the illustrious Sherlock Holmes. There is, of course, a museum, and a nice one, all set up as a reproduction of his living quarters with a sort of trophy room of his adventures at the very top.
Next, we headed down the street a few steps and entered Regents Park. Fantastic, these lovely parks in the middle of the city.
Then, a cab ride over to the Natural History Museum:
Next, Lauri took off to some likely shopping areas, while John, Ron, and I continued on our rock n’ roll pilgrim’s road; we were off for Golder’s Green, a likely bus stop connection to Muswell Hill, the area where the Davie’s brothers grew up and The Kinks came to be.
So, of course we ask all around for the “Archway Tavern” [where cover for the Kinks' "Muswell Hillbillies" was shot]. A couple people knew where it was…but it’s not in ‘Muswell Hill’, it’s down the bottom of the hill by the “Archway” tube station…. and, it turns out that it’s closed for renovation. Oh well, we still needed a picture.
Keeping with The Kinks' theme: a sign we kept seeing in the London underground.
and of course, the most important life-lesson to be found on a London sign: