Last night, we got down to some recording. We were taping a new song for our contribution to this year’s International Pop Overthrow Festival’s CD compilation. (This tune might also find it’s way onto the next Trike Shop album, but considering the pace at which we finish and release records, it might be a year or so before that comes to fruition.) The song is “(Dale said) Things Grow in Fresno”, based on a phrase our friend Dale Stewart was throwing around.
We recorded the basic track last night–did about 6 complete takes only to agree that ‘yeah, the first one was the best.’—a typical rock n’ roll story. The next job’ll be to get the harmony vocals, an acoustic guitar overdub, and then the lead vocal.
The rest of the eve was devoted to looking at an even *newer* tune. Maybe a new Trike Shop collection ain’t so far away after all.
playing over the internet at Twirl Radio in Sacramento
Our Sacramento adventure began with Martin and I heading up
the 99. As Martin would say, “It was a good day for a putt.” There had been a
spate of rainstorms on the previous few days, but today, it was all billowy
clouds and intense, blue skies. We were stopping first at James and Raina’s
house in Elk Grove. These are the kind of friends you gotta have: ones that’ll show
you the local record shops, and even let you bed down at their place after a gig.
They took us over to Broadway and 16th, the site of the
original (as in, first in the whole-wide-world) Tower Records. The drug store
that once had a record department
destined for fame is gone, but the building with it’s tall, white deco-style
tower that gave it its name, remains. Just next door was a great place simply
called “Records”, cuz that’s what’s inside…and we dug through a bunch of ‘em—best
prize might’ve been James’ “Star Wars Funk” album…just for the cheesy cartoon
record store cat
Next, it was off to see Mike Lidskin (and the rest of the
band) at Access Sacramento, home of the internet-streamed show “Twirl Radio”. Mike
was his usual super-welcoming self. We
played a couple-three songs, talked a bit on-air, and generally had a
Twirl-of-a-Time. Simultaneous to Mike playing a bevy of independent pop-centric
music, there’s always a rapid discussion happening on his Facebook page. Here’s
where many of the folks who’s music he
plays and their friends connect. It’s a real nexus for this fervent
bunch of popfans—people chime in from all over the U.S. and all over the world.
Music is traded, connections made, and plans are hatched.
When it was time to go, Mike’s gracious and lovely wife
Amber gave us directions to a good place to eat and relax until we had to get
on to the gig.
The show itself was at Shine, a café in an older building that
was cozy, arty and inviting, with an old fashioned counter/display case that promised
plenty of good eats and drinks.
Trike Shop at the Shine Cafe' in Sacramento
I believe they were set up primarily for smaller, acoustic
acts; special thanks to booker Josh and owner Rena for letting us stretch the
template a bit.
It was a good gig: we got to play in a new place, made some
new friends, had some fun playing an extended set, and it seemed like
management would be happy enough to have
us come back…so it’s all good.
It’s true, we started off a bit tentatively (or maybe it was
just me), ‘cuz: feeling out a new place, playing a bit soft at first so as not
to overwhelm the PA, having a smallish crowd that hadn’t yet built for the
night ( usually on your home-turf, even
smaller gigs are well-peppered with friends to hoot and holler you on to
something good)—all of these things kept me from finding my groove for the
first couple of songs..
But in the end, the crowd
built up a bit, and we had some people singing, clapping and reaching a general
state of Rock Ecstasy (ok, but on a really small café’ scale! [laughs]) –and BONUS:
Mike from Twirl came out and sent the show streaming live on the ‘net—thanks
again Mr. Lidskin!] special note: the band that closed the night: J.B. & the Wash..were a young band with a soulful singer-songwriter and a funk-tight bass&drum combo—check them out if you can.
The evening was young, and there was more fun to be had. We
went down one block, and around another, and we were at the Torch Club. As luck
would have it, Fresno boys the Mofo Party Band were bringing their
Chicago-style blues to Sacramento that same night. This small club (reminiscent
in mood of the original Olympic Tavern in our own hometown), was full of folks
dancing and eating it up. After having a couple of unsure moments playing at
Shine, it really made my night when in an extended set-closing number, Bill
Clifton was out in the crowd doing the whole bit: walking on the bar, playing
amongst the crowd, and when he came upon me, he slipped his guitar strap over
his neck and handed me his guitar—oh man! Nice. I slipped it on and played
over a few choruses. (If you’re reading this Bill, that *did* make my night!)
In the words of the Mofos “We’re known all over the world and in parts of Ripon.”
on the club floor at the Torch Club with the Mofo Party Band --Sacramento
And still more was to come. Martin and I headed 15 minutes
south to James & Raina’s place where we were promised a late night in their
lounge…spinning the records we’d bought and having some nice and cool, after-midnight
refreshments. Thank you James & Raina, for spoiling us well!
James and Martin and Raina
So, thus ended this music-filled April weekend.
And now, a short epilogue: On our drive home, I did have to slip in the appropriate
Creedence CD as we approached Lodi. But this time, I took the off-ramp…and I
tells ya, Lodi is a *lot* more charming than I’d ever expected….for you Central
Valley folks, it’s a lot closer to ..say Hanford than maybe…Chowchilla (which
is more of what I expected from the tone of that old song). There’s a nice and
very alive downtown with 2-3 story brick buildings that have that early 20th
C. look and tree-lined streets with gracious, old homes that look to be from
the teens or twenties.
my newly-signed old LP copy of "Ragin' Full-On".
Friday began a musical weekend deluxe! On this evening, Fulton
55, the downtown Fresno club at which we’d just played that KFSR benefit, was
bringing in punk/funk/indie legends, fIREHOSE. Mike Watt and crew have been
heroes of mine for decades now.
Way, way, back-when, on a day-off putt to Ventura to check out
record stores and what-not. My old pal Ross lit up our freeway ride in his VW
bus with a cassette of the Minutemen.
Here was a band of such energy, rawness and creativity, *and* it sounded like
three actual human beings playing the music they loved in someone’s living room
(and believe me, that last was a rarity in the mid-80’s). I loved it and felt
an immediate kinship (esp. since most of our music happened in a living room).
Later, the Minutemen lost their guitarist D. Boon to a road accident.
Eventually, along with Ed fROMOHIO, the surviving Minutemen formed fIRHOSE.
I only had the chance to see them live once before: at
the Palomino in North Hollywood. A few memories from that night still stick:
*Mike Watt breaking his bass—Nobody does this, esp. to a P-bass. You can drive over one of these things with a
truck. And I don’t mean he pulled a Pete Townshend. No, just by his relentless
smackeroo-ing, he busted the bridge or the nut or something—had to borrow the
opening band’s bass.
- They covered the
Who’s “A Quick One”, not once, but twice! They had said that they were
recording that night for a CD release. When they did the song for the second
time, for their encore, I thought they were making sure they got the perfect
take for the record (though both takes were breathtakingly aggressive and
wonderful). And when the record came out (Live Totem), it wasn’t on there!
- After the show,
Watt didn’t go off to any back-stage or private retreat, he stepped off the lip
of the stage, and started talking with the mob of kids around him. He was like
the cooler, experienced, older Uncle of Indie. So down-to-earth. So proletarian.
I loved it. Made a big impression.
It was this everyman approach
that made this impression so deep. Their “Indie” wasn’t a marketing term/radio
programming category, but Indie as a way to conduct your Music Life—real people
doing real honest things independently– bypassing marketing firms, and fakeness. (One time we sent a tape of our
then-band to SST Records. We got a handwritten note from Watt himself…isn’t
that crazy? I hope Ross still has that somewhere…)
Stuff that stuck with me
about last Friday’s show:
- George Hurley ,
the drummer, volunteering to get up out of his comfy pre-show relaxation chair
and go look for Ed when I was seeking a full-set of autographs on the LP I was
lugging around. I had to convince him to sit back down. He nodded but said, “We’ll make sure it happens.”
- Watt watching
Hurley the entire show. The entire show. Ok, not when he did the vocal on the
maybe three songs he sang on, but the rest of the time.
- There was the occasional music cue: a nod, a mouthed “One, two, three..”, but mostly, he
had a funny smirk on his face. It was all eye-contact and beyond-lingual
communication with this guy who’d been his friend and musical partner since kid-times.
Like some older guys sittin’ on the porch, watching a crazy world, and giving
each other knowing looks.
- I finally got my other two autographs from Ed and Watt as they came off the stage –my pal Fran
laughed and said “ah, I’d never seen the fanboy in you come out before this!”(Actually
owner Tony Martin helped me get the last of the three by handing the record
cover over to Ed as he was gathering his guitar and pedals and stuff off of the stage.)Watt looked tired—a couple weeks of straight gigging and they were about to go on to Coachello the next day—not sure if he was trying to conserve his energy, or the touring had been exhausting, but he graciously signed a few autographs and posed for a couple of pictures with folks. I wish him well, and as it is with heroes that you don’t know personally, you can’t really *tell* them thank you so much, but you sure do feel it.