Featured Video – Silver Snakes “Wool (Official Lyric Video)”

<

An Interview With A Helsinki Vampire

THE 69 EYES play Regent Theater May 1 and Brick By Brick May 2; photo Ville Juurikkala

THE 69 EYES play Regent Theater May 1 and Brick By Brick May 2; photo Ville Juurikkala

“I hope that all of our fans through the years – passersby, friends, vampires, zombies, werewolves, anybody out there – will come to see us,” Jyrki 69 encouraged. “It’s been such a long time, a decade, that we come to play for you guys – I hope that you have a chance to enjoy the true rock-n-roll of the Helsinki Vampires 2019.”

Although a decade has passed since The 69 Eyes have set foot on these shores, the band released the albums X and Universal Monsters and continued to tour the rest of the world. But with new management through Oracle and a new album coming out both coinciding with their 30-year anniversary, the timing seems right.

THE 69 EYES; photo Ville Juurikkala

THE 69 EYES; photo Ville Juurikkala

“The music business changed so radically, and we didn’t see any importance for coming to the States until now,” Jyrki 69 explained. “Obviously as I’ve been playing in the States by myself with my solo project or any other possible way over the years, I love to play in the States. But to bring the whole band from Finland has been a little bit difficult.

“Now times are changing again. It’s perfect. I’m excited.”

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: I understand there’s a new album in the works, have you announced the title, yet?
JYRKI 69: Unfortunately, it’s not announced, and the new single will come out immediately after our American tour is over which is the end of May. So, I apologize but I will still keep the secret of the name and the name of the single because you know there’s so much information in the world, if you give something out people will forget you tomorrow.

So, you have to sort of play the same game that everybody else is playing even though we are of course totally playing this game on our own terms when it comes to delivering information.

THE 69 EYES; photo Ville Juurikkala

THE 69 EYES; photo Ville Juurikkala

CGL: Will you be playing any of the new stuff, yet, or will this tour concentrate more on your history?
J69: We have a couple of records that we haven’t played any songs live in North America so we will play that stuff. On the other hand, as an artist I think there hopefully will be a bunch of people who never saw us live who are maybe even inspired by our band. I think at some point we became a musician’s band. You know, if you play rock-n-roll you probably know something about The 69 Eyes. I hope there are new people who haven’t seen us that heard about us and who like us or are just curious about what they have missed.

So, for those people and old fans I think we stick with ‘best of’ stuff but you also have to remember that there are songs that have never been played in North America before. I’m actually excited to play any old song for you guys.

CGL: Ok, now we need to get serious. We need to talk hair and makeup.
J69: Actually, that’s a very serious topic these days. Because if you are a self-respecting Gothic or Glam or rock-n-roll band in general you have to think of those questions, as well.

CGL: So, how has it changed for you over the years?
J69: I used to probably wear more makeup at some point a decade ago. I like the fact that you can see from my face that I’ve been around, that I’ve seen a few miles. So, I like that fact. Of course, as a young glam rock guy, when you jump on the stage, you should look like something that doesn’t exist anywhere else but on the stage.

In the kind of rock-n-roll that we are playing, we’re so old school the guys on stage should look like they’re from a totally different planet.

Jyrki 69; photo James Christopher

Jyrki 69; photo James Christopher

CGL: So how big is your makeup bag? Is it a group bag or does everyone have their own?
J69: Everybody has of course their own private things. I doubt anyone has a group bag? It’s like intimate stuff…how can you…you can’t use somebody else’s eyeliner…I mean that transfers germs, you know? But I guess that’s been done at some point, but I mean you should have your own makeup.

You know, that would be pretty cool if you were putting an ad looking for new musicians, like a glammy band, you should put like ‘bring your own makeup’. That would be pretty cool.

CGL: Vocally, how do you keep in shape, how do you maintain your voice?
J69: I don’t really do anything. I always like to say I trained my voice to be low, it might be true, my speaking voice isn’t as low as my singing voice. I think you can hear the miles, the years, in my voice. I think it’s getting better, actually, through the years.

CGL: So, you’re just going with it – however it changes you’re just working with it.
J69: Yea, I try to represent myself actually, like the makeup question, like I am.

CGL: You speak English extremely well; did you always sing in English?
J69: Yes, actually I’ve tried a couple of times recently to do something in Finnish, that’s my native language as I come from Finland, but that’s actually even harder.

It’s natural for me because when I started to listen to rock-n-roll when I was eight years old, my favorite artist was Elvis, and he was still alive. Rock-n-roll language has always been English for me so, that’s where I learned English and from American tv series. It’s the language of rock-n-roll.

CGL: Is there anything you’d like to add?
J69: I’m very happy where the band is now. Even though it’s like we’re ancient. We’re a 30-year-old rock-n-roll band but I think we have something that the world still needs and the only band that can deliver that stuff in 2019 is The 69 Eyes.

Dick Dale, A Coach House Icon Is Gone

Dick Dale; press photo

Dick Dale; press photo

Legendary guitarist, Dick Dale, an icon at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, has sadly passed away. SoCal fans were fortunate to hear Dale perform and tell stories at The Coach House numerous times partially because he and the owner go way back.

Following is an interview he did with Concert Guide Live nine months ago:

“Gary (Folgner) and I have been very dear friends from the beginning of time,” Dale mused. “Many, many, many years ago he called me up and said, ‘I would like you to come and play at my place’.”

This was back when Dale had a 15-piece rock band with keyboards, horns, backup singers, double drums, etc. and there was no way he could pay the whole band to play at Folgner’s place.

“So, my drummer and my bass player said, ‘We’ll come and do it, Dick, you just bring your guitar and we’ll back ya’,” Dale recalled. “I got afraid because usually I have the whole band to fall back on. But they convinced me.”

Once he had stripped down the band it naturally led to creating his now signature style of guitar playing but don’t limit it by calling it “surf guitar”. He plays a variety of music from Rockabilly to Boogie Woogie to Jazz to Big Band and everything else.

In fact, Dale pointed out that the word “surf” can actually become a negative and prefers not to use it in advertising because it limits his attendance.

Many years ago, he performed to a sold out show at Fullerton College, but when he returned several months later, something was amiss and the place was only half-filled.

“When I went outside the building there were all these surf posters so I took the booker and walked him up to a black man and I said ‘Excuse me, sir. Would you go and see the king of the surf guitar?’,” Dale recalled.

“And he said ‘No, man. That’s not my bag, man.’

“Then I said it in a different way. I said, ‘Would you see a guitar legend, even if you never heard of him?’

“His reply was, ‘Oh man, I dig guitar, man. I’ll be there in a minute’.”

Several years into his career, in the late 50s, Dale wanted to give his band a name like many of the bands of that era, which is when The Deltones came about.

“We would perform at Riverside National Guard Armory in San Bernardino,” Dale recalled. “We thought the radio would be the big deal. We would take ads out on the radio that would say ‘Go see Dick Dale and The Deltones’.”

Now, 30 plus years later, people still remember the name The Deltones. Dale says people often tell him he looks familiar, or ask him if he plays guitar, but it’s the name The Deltones that they seem to remember more than his own name.

“You know why they remembered The Deltones?” Dale asked. “Because it was the last thing that was said to them on the air – Dick Dale and The Deltones!”

Dale’s lengthy career has witnessed and pioneered much in the music industry and he has a lot of stories to boot. He rarely does interviews anymore because he feels there’s too much sensationalism and wonders why people can’t just write good things. This is something he and his wife, Lana, feel strongly about.

“All we want to be is left alone. Let us take care of God’s creatures, the animals. And we will entertain and try to help people who have the same ailments that we have by showing them, ‘Look at me, I’m still on this stage and I’m not taking drugs to do it’.”

Having said that, when he’s off stage Dale does like to converse with people and share the things he and Lana have been through, showing he’s the same as they are.

“We are just showing the people that we are like them and we give them little tips when they ask us, ‘How do you perform on that stage? It looks like there’s nothing wrong with you and you’re what, 80 years old?’,” Dale said. “But there are times I’ve had to sit in a chair. There are times they had to carry me on the stage, the pain was so great.

“I’ve been in the martial arts ever since I was 18. It’s been a way of life. I learned things to help fight pain and how to deal with it.”

Over the course of the interview, Dale shared some of the things he’s learned by experience over time which are akin to words of wisdom.

“I have a statement I’ve always said – when anything hits you in the face whether it’s illnesses or pain – I always say, ‘Deal with it.’ Then I say, ‘Get used to it.’

“The other one is, ‘Your body follows your mind. Don’t be so weak in your mind that you will allow something in your body that will kill you.’ Your body is your temple. Treat it like your temple. That’s what we do.”

Mudhoney Bring Fun To Punk

MUDHONEY play The Casbah Mar. 8 and The Glass House Mar. 9; photo Emily Rieman

MUDHONEY play The Casbah Mar. 8 and The Glass House Mar. 9; photo Emily Rieman

Alternative Rock, Grunge, Punk, you name it and Mudhoney has been associated with it over the course of their 30-year career, which kicked off with the EP Superfuzz Bigmuff on Sub Pop exploded on the scene, not sounding like anything else at the time.

Three of the original members remain in the group with bassist Guy Maddison, the newest member, joining in 2001 and appearing on five of the ten Mudhoney albums including the latest Digital Garbage.

Concert Guide Live caught up with Maddison to hear his thoughts on songwriting, step aerobics, and some of his favorite songs to play live.

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: You’re the newest member of Mudhoney, yet you’ve been with the band for half of their albums! What is your part in creating a song? Which comes first, the music or the lyrics?
GUY MADDISON: The music comes first. We all participate in the process, I like the others, bring riffs and musical ideas for songs, we jam out those riffs and ideas. Everyone makes suggestions for how the composition can be improved, so it is song writing by consensus. This is the case for nearly all songs, Mark (Arm/frontman) adds the lyrics after we have established a base for the music. Sometimes the music will need to be rearranged to fit the flow of the lyrics.

CGL: What was it like when you were learning the Mudhoney catalog? What challenges did you come across?
GM: As a fan of the band I was familiar with a lot of the songs. When I first joined back in 2001 Steve (Turner/guitar) and I sat out on his porch with a couple of acoustic guitars and went over a core group of songs that we started to use as the basis for a set when I first joined. The most common challenge I found, and I think is the same for anyone learning material written by others, is coming to terms with timings that you would not naturally write yourself.

CGL: Do you prefer to play live or recording and why?
GM: I enjoy recording, because of the endless possibilities in sound and arrangement that is available in the studio. However, I prefer the energy of playing live. The audience provide the energy and change the experience for sure. Also, there is the fun and often comical aspect of playing together with your friends on stage.

CGL: So, you’re playing with Adolescents and Clawhammer in Pomona – how did that come about and who is playing last?
GM: We’ve played with the Adolescents before and it was a great show in L.A. Clawhammer are old and very close friends of the band and have played many shows with Mudhoney over the years. The show like most, was put together by our booking agent. To tell the truth I have no idea who’s playing last? I hope it’s not us, so I can relax with a few quality ales and watch some quality bands…

Mudhoney "Digital Garbage" cover

Mudhoney “Digital Garbage” cover

CGL: What sort of a setlist are fans going to be treated to, will you be playing a lot from the newest album Digital Garbage?
GM: There will be a solid representation from the new album, with a good number of old classics and a selection of songs from over the years.

CGL: What song or songs do you especially look forward to playing live and why?
GM: Of our new album there are quite a few, probably because they are new and exciting to us. A definite highlight will be “Paranoid Core,” “Nerve Attack,” and “Hey Neanderfuck.” I really like how the old classic “No One Has” is sounding lately and “If I Think”, too.

CGL: Do you primarily play a Fender bass? What gear do you use to get your sound?
GM: I have a few Fender P basses that is the basis of my sound. I have recently replaced my pickups with Lindy Frallin pickups that are built to the specs of a classic Fender ’61 P bass, they have an awesome thick sound. I use a TC electronics RD 450 head to get my amp sound, the tube tome function is killer.

CGL: Describe a Mudhoney show to someone who hasn’t seen you before.
GM: It’s an overwhelming kaleidoscope of heavy punk rock, comedy and step aerobics.

CGL: Several years ago, Mudhoney played on the roof of the Space Needle – what was that like? I trust no one is afraid of heights?
GM: A couple of us had a little bout of vertigo, but once we got going it was all fine. It was an awesome experience and one I’ll never forget. Obviously, the view was spectacular. There is actually great archival footage of it on KEXP (as it was a simulcast) that anyone that’s interested can check out on the web. https://youtu.be/CsjSDQ_MrV8?t=2

CGL: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
GM: If you get the chance to recognize the work of nurses in your community, please let them know how important you think their work is! Hope to see y’all at our SoCal shows, as we intend to rock it to the ground! Cheers!

The Spinners Doing What They Love

THE SPINNERS play The Rose Mar. 8, The Canyon/Agoura Mar. 9, The Coach House Mar. 10; press photo

THE SPINNERS play The Rose Mar. 8, The Canyon/Agoura Mar. 9, The Coach House Mar. 10; press photo

“I’ll Be Around” The Spinners’ first million-selling hit single was only one of their many songs to hit the charts: “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love,” “Ghetto Child,” “It’s A Shame,” “Then Came You,” “Games People Play,” “The Rubberband Man,” and the list goes on.

During their heyday they appeared on Soul Train so many times it was like their second home. American Bandstand, too. They dressed to the nines in color coordinated outfits, keeping up on the times, aware of what people were wearing.

“We had our bell-bottoms and big ole boots and high-heels,” recalls singer Henry Fambrough, the last surviving original member. “That’s why my feet are kind of messed up now because of wearing high heels and trying to dance in high-heels. Oh my God. Oh yes, we had to follow suit.”

When asked what he likes about touring and performing live he says it’s in his blood. It’s what he does.

“I’ve been doing it all my life,” Fambrough said proudly. “I love it. Singing and entertaining people and being on stage, and watching the expression of a lot of people, the joy they get from our music, that’s the main thing. Everything’s good.”

Touring in the early days, getting the music out there, was a bare bones operation for many entertainers when they first started out, The Spinners included.

“We purchased ourselves a station wagon and we put our bags on the top and everything,” Fambrough explained. “Then we had all of the inside freed up. That’s the way we travelled. That’s the way most of the entertainers back then that could afford to buy themselves a shared transportation, that’s the way they travelled.

“Then after that, if you sold big like James Brown, or whatever, you purchased you a bus and go from there. Then that way you can carry all your instruments and your people with you. At the time we had three young ladies that we kept with us, helped us sing background because Thom Bell used ladies in our recording, you know.

“The musical director at the time, Maurice King, he just went ahead and did everything that Thom did but on stage. That’s what made us sound so great and true to the records.”

Even after 60 plus years of entertaining in front of an audience, a hint of nervousness still creeps in and touches Fambrough just before he takes the stage, but not like it used to.

“Once they call your name and you walk out on the stage and you see all the people and everything you forget about all that.”

THE SPINNERS; press photo

THE SPINNERS; press photo

Keeping his familiar baritone voice in shape over the years he’s learned to coordinate rest and practice in order to continue singing at such a high level. Treating his voice just like an instrument is key.

“You got to get your rest, that’s the main thing,” Fambrough explained. “Get your rest, do your scales every day. If you got an instrument and you don’t take care of it, it will fail you. You have to treat your voice the same way.

“I have a voice doctor and I see him about once every other month, and he’ll tell me what I ain’t doing right (laughs). If you don’t respect it and you don’t take care of it, it’ll go bad on you, you know?

“That’s why you hear a lot of entertainers, or entertainer, that will come out with a fantastic song and it will sell two, four, five million records and you don’t hear from them no more. Cuz they don’t take care of themselves.”

For new performers that are starting out Fambrough says it’s the same now as it was when he began.

“You got something in your mind, or you want to do a certain thing, or you got the act that you want to do, and you love what you’re doing and you’re good at it don’t let anyone talk you out of doing it.

“You got a lot of people out there that want you to do something a certain way, change this, change that – no – you stick with what you love and what you want to present to your fans. Your fans come to see you, they don’t come to see you mimic someone else.”

Keep an eye out for this legendary soul group to bring their memorable music, their synchronized moves, and professional entertainment to any number of venues in SoCal.

Marc Cohn Keeps It Fresh

MARC COHN plays The Coach House Mar. 8 and 9; photo Drew Gurian

MARC COHN plays The Coach House Mar. 8 and 9; photo Drew Gurian

“It’s one of my favorite places to play,” Marc Cohn replied when asked about his upcoming shows at The Coach House. “It’s been around awhile, and a lot of people have said maybe it could use a little touch-up paint here and there (chuckles).

“They’re great audiences and it’s just a great room to play. I must have played it a dozen times by now. It’s always one of my favorite shows to play each year.”

An annual favorite, Grammy winner Cohn spoke with Concert Guide Live about all sorts of things such as his childhood dreams, his first guitar, life’s early challenges as well as playing “Walking In Memphis” thousands of times, future plans with Blind Boys of Alabama, and of course, how it feels like a hometown gig when he plays at The Coach House.

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: How many of the fans do you recognize at this point?
MARC COHN: There are some I definitely recognize, it’s sort of become a family thing and I have good family friends that live near by so they’re always there in the audience. So, it does feel almost like a hometown show to me.

CGL: Do you remember the first time you played there?
MC: I remember parts of my whole life just by remembering who was there at a particular time, which of my ex-wives was there, which of my kids was in attendance. My whole life has unfolded year by year at The Coach House.

CGL: Is it weird having everyone sitting down, possibly still eating?
MC: I don’t remember that as strange. In fact, I didn’t even fully process it was a dinner place until I played there several times. Dinner is usually long over by the time I hit the stage, so it isn’t like one of those dinner theaters where it feels intrusive.

CGL: What’s the lineup – do you play with a full band?
MC: It’s always different. This time it’s a full band but not a “conventional” full band. I have a percussionist, an amazing Hammond B3 player, I play guitar and piano. And my opening act at The Coach House is a great new artist that I’m really happy to give a platform to, she’s actually from Southern California, her name is Chelsea Williams, and she also sings and plays with me in my set and so does her harmonica player who is an extraordinary musician.

I’m always looking for ways to sort of change the show especially at a place like The Coach House where, you know, year after year you don’t want to be doing the same exact show.

MARC COHN; press photo

MARC COHN; press photo

CGL: Do you have a preferred guitar that you like to play?
MC: I have an old Gibson J45 a miraculous old thing from the 60’s and it’s only miraculous because I found it left-handed. I’m a left-handed guitar player and I can never find vintage guitars from back then. And this one I found years ago in Chelsea in New York City and it’s been my favorite road guitar and writing guitar for years, now.

CGL: Do you remember where and when you got your first guitar?
MC: My first one my step-mother bought me in Cleveland, Ohio, I don’t remember what kind it was, but it barely stayed in tune, so it wasn’t long until my brother got me an Ovation when I was 17. But my main instrument is piano so this guitar thing, even though it was my first instrument, I’m not all that plugged into.

CGL: Do you ever get tired of playing “Walking In Memphis”? How do you keep it fresh?
MC: From time to time. But considering I’ve played it thousands of times by now, I surprisingly have been able to keep it fresh. Occasionally I change the arrangement a little bit but not too much and of course like what we were talking about, when the lineup of the band is different that changes the song, too.

I guess the main ingredient in keeping it fresh is every night it’s a different audience. And they have a particular mood and feel and vibe and participation level so it’s really the crowd that keeps it new.

And the fact that I can still connect to what that song is about which is largely about the power of music.

CGL: What were some of your early musical inspirations?
MC: There’s just dozens. Everybody from Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Beatles, Stones, The Band, all the great singer-songwriters that sort of put a light on my path that I ended up doing so James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Paul Simon, the list goes on and on.

I was my most impressionable when some of the greatest music ever made was new. And so, I just willed myself to try and do what my idols were doing, cuz it moved me so much. A lot of that music, I just wanted to learn how to do it. I’ve ended up my whole life still figuring it out.

CGL: Was there a specific moment when you realized you wanted to do music?
MC: By the time I was 12-13 I had a singing voice. I had kind of a difficult childhood. My mom died when I was 2 my dad died when I was 12 so I had a need to express myself and to try and self-sooth, get through my losses which was quite early and unexpected and traumatizing. And I think it was between the fact that I could sing and the fact that I had something I needed to say (chuckles) just for myself that was the beginning of realizing that’s what I wanted to do.

Knowing that I’d be able to do it was a whole other thing but by the time I was 17 or 18 I was committed to trying. To at least trying to make it into a career.

MARC COHN; photo Erik Valind

MARC COHN; photo Erik Valind

CGL: What was it like to release your first album and then win a Grammy for Best New Artist?
MC: It was a dream come true. My biggest dream come true. I had been dreaming about all the aspects of being a recording artist ever since I was that 12-year-old kid.

I was already well aware of which record labels had the artists I liked so I wanted to be on either Warner Bros or Elektra or Asylum or Atlantic where I did end up. I was aware of the players that were given credits on the records that I loved. So being able to just get a record deal, number one, was my first dream come true.

And being able to play with some of my heroes – James Taylor is on my first record, drummer Steve Gadd who played with Paul Simon for years is on my first record, so that was a dream come true. All of a sudden, I was kind of in that world.

And then the biggest dream come true was that I made a record I loved. I really worked hard on that record and I tried really hard to keep it authentic and not try to make it sound like it was a current record but more of a timeless one. Luckily Atlantic let me do that.

And then the fact that it resonated with people, that was just beyond description. The Grammy was great, too. It was all of those things combined that were things I’d been dreaming about since I was a kid.

CGL: What do you like to do when you’re not touring or recording?
MC: I’m a father of four kids starting ages 12 all the way to 28. They all live where I live, in New York, and the time I spend off the road is time I need to have with my kids.

CGL: If you could be anyone other than yourself for a day, living or deceased, who would it be and why?
MC: If I could be someone else?
CGL: Yes, just for a day.
MC: Oh my gosh. That’s tough. That’s really tough… Hmm… I’d like to be my therapist and find out what he really thinks of me.
CGL: Are you sure about that?
MC: Well, it would be interesting. It would be a day well spent. Actually, I love my therapist so I would be happy to just spend some time with him and not really talking. And I’d also like to ask him more questions, so that’s one thing, cuz he’s actually been a lifesaver over the years.

Who else would I want to be? It would be amazing to be one of my heroes, I suppose, but see my thing is I would just want to spend time with them as them. I wouldn’t want to be them.

I think that’s the best I can come up with. That’s a wild question.

CGL: Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?
MC: I’ve been hard working on some new songs that I will be playing at The Coach House shows.

I will be doing a whole tour with the Blind Boys of Alabama, they’ve been singing with me a couple of years now and we’re playing with Taj Mahal. So that’s gonna be thrilling.

I’m going to be finished in a couple of months with an EP or a full-length CD I’m making with the Blind Boys. I have three new studio tracks and a bunch of live tracks that we’re gonna put out in June. That’s about all for now.

Insanity Of DMT Amaze On Bauhaus Tour

Jonty Ball S / Desert Mountain Tribe; photo James Christopher

Jonty Ball S / Desert Mountain Tribe; photo James Christopher

“Vodka! A couple of Red Bulls! Maybe some beer!” each member of Desert Mountain Tribe (DMT) shouted and then laughed about what they like to do prior to playing a show. “You gotta be just drunk enough, but not too drunk.”

Desert Mountain Tribe are in good spirits playing their unique atmosphere of psychedelic, melodic songs and captivating many new fans as they tour across the U.S. on the Peter Murphy 40 Years Of Bauhaus Celebration featuring David J. However, getting to the first night of the tour in Anaheim, CA, from their home base in England was a bit of a challenge.

“Thing is with that one, we literally got off the plane about two hours before and we were told that the security at the airport was going to take at least two hours,” Jonty Ball S (guitar/vocals) recalled. “We managed to get off the plane to the van where our trusty tour manager and driver, LG, was waiting for us. And we managed to make it across L.A. in an hour fifteen – from LAX to Anaheim – which is pretty insane – in the pouring rain!

“There was just like two and a half weeks to planning this thing which is insane for a whole America tour. But it’s all working out so far, we’re all good.”

Frank van der Ploeg / Desert Mountain Tribe; photo James Christopher

Frank van der Ploeg / Desert Mountain Tribe; photo James Christopher

The trio has gone through a couple of recent changes with drummer Frank van der Ploeg joining to play live with the group since mid-2017.

“What are you playing with, like a fractured knee or something?” Ball S asked Ploeg.

“Torn Meniscus,” Ploeg replied.

“I haven’t got a clue what that is,” Ball S admitted.

“Something in my knee is messed up,” Ploeg said, stating the obvious.

“He’s still drumming, he’s still doing it,” Ball S laughed.

Bassist Matt Holt is the most recent addition, joining at the end of 2018 and fitting in nicely, making the basslines his own.

“He did the first gig and he had nine days to get everything rehearsed, which is amazing,” Ball S explained. “But, I’m the original guy, I started the band about eight years ago.”

Other than Ploeg playing on the track “World” from 2018’s Om Parvat Mystery, neither he or Holt have been a part of any previous Desert Mountain Tribe releases – 2016’s debut album Either That Or The Moon or the EPs and single.

Matt Holt / Desert Mountain Tribe; photo James Christopher

Matt Holt / Desert Mountain Tribe; photo James Christopher

“But they will both be on the new album whether they like it or not!” Ball S threatened.

A question asking where the band name came from is greeted with dead silence followed by a slow, almost hesitant reply.

“There’s the truthful answer and then there’s the interview answer,” Ball S replied. “Well the truthful answer is it comes from DMT – have you heard of DMT?

“But the uh, (laughs), interview answer is ‘I like deserts, he likes mountains, and he likes tribes.’”

While the other two band members knowingly chuckle in the background, Ball S continues to explain.

“The thing is we can work out DMT but it’s not a good thing to keep saying yes it comes from the name of the drug, you know? It’s not a good selling point, I don’t think. You don’t want to limit yourself, do you?”

The current tour has been going great, having played about 50 dates with Peter Murphy before even hitting the states, which then adds another 15 – 20 shows overall.

“That’s a long, long tour, right?” Ball S questions.

“Yea,” Ploeg and Holt agree in unison.

Which begs the question, how do they keep entertained going from show to show, city to city?

“Frank,” Ball S revealed. “Frank keeps us entertained.”

“Uhhhh….,” Ploeg absentmindedly replies.

“That says it all, right?” Ball S laughed.

Celebrating The Smithereens Legacy

THE SMITHEREENS w/Marshall Crenshaw play The Coach House Feb. 10; press photo

THE SMITHEREENS w/Marshall Crenshaw play The Coach House Feb. 10; press photo

“I was really happy when they asked me,” Marshall Crenshaw said when Dennis Dikens (drums) asked him to sing with The Smithereens after vocalist, Pat DiNizio’s passing.

“It’s really exciting to play their music. I’ve known those guys forever, like before forever. I have a long-standing history with those guys. I knew Pat and everything.”

In January of 2018, about a month after DiNizio’s passing there was a tribute show for him in New Jersey, with a lot of old friends that was a highly emotional situation for everybody. Crenshaw played three songs which eventually led to an invitation to tour as guest vocalist for The Smithereens.

“The fan reception has been really strong,” Crenshaw added. “People want to hear this music. I feel like I’m just kind of there helping Jim (Babjak /lead guitar), Dennis and Mike (Mesaros/bass). It’s their legacy, too. They really are hungry to be out there, keeping the music alive and playing just for their own spiritual well-being.”

In 2004 Crenshaw toured with the surviving members of MC5, playing guitar with them, and taking a little vacation from his own music.

“It’s just really refreshing to do something like that once in a while, at least for me,” Crenshaw mentioned.

“That’s another body of work, the MC5, that catalog of theirs, that body of work. I have such high regard for it, so it was really fun. Interesting, too. Just like from a human-interest standpoint to hang around with those guys was pretty interesting. (laughs)”

Crenshaw learned at least 30 Smithereens’ songs for the tour including some of his favorites such as “Spellbound,” “Especially For You,” and “Top Of The Pops,” as well as some of the cover songs that are part of the band’s history.

“My favorite song by The Smithereen’s is “Strangers When We Meet”, Crenshaw shared. “I played on the record back in the day. I played keyboards on that track on the Especially For You album.

“And then they did a version of the same song with a guy named Alan Betrock who is gone now, no longer walking the earth, I’m sad to say, but Alan produced my first record which was an independent single on a New York label, Shake Records. That was Alan’s label. Alan opened the door for me to make records.

“The Smithereens hooked up with Alan and did some stuff and I was in on some of that. Then when they re-recorded the song for their album, I went back in and played it again.

“But it’s a beautiful song. And it’s a real quintessential Pat Dinizio song in that he got the title from an old movie which was kind of a thing he would do.”

Learning 30-35 songs was exciting but also challenging yet Crenshaw is willing to learn more if the band wants him to, claiming he’s basically at their service.

“The fact that I’m somebody who’s memory isn’t as good as it used to be, just to trying to cram all this information into what’s left of my memory and to get it to stay there was the challenge,” Crenshaw chuckled.

“Just learning all the words, because I didn’t want to use cheat sheets, I wanted to know every song by heart. It used to be easy for me to do that, if I learned a song, I’d remember it forever. Now, I sometimes just blank on my own songs when I sing them (laughs).”

But the group continues to tour, getting sharper, pleasing audiences that just want to listen to their beloved Smithereens songs and maybe even sing-along to a couple.

“It’s a great rock show,” Crenshaw enthused. “I love playing with them. We’ve had a lot of great gigs already. We’re sharp. We’re on our game. It’s a gas, you know?

“I like playing the Smithereen’s stuff. A lot of the songs are kind of dark, haunted sounding, and beautiful, too. The way the guys play… they just play in a way that’s really exciting. It’s just a great rock-n-roll band.

“It’s a really good two guitars and bass kind of thing with me out there, you know?”

The Smithereens with guest vocalist Marshall Crenshaw will play The Coach House Feb. 10.

Fortunate Youth: One Love Cali Reggae Fest 2019

FORTUNATE YOUTH play One Love Cali Fest Feb. 8-10; photo Andy Ortega

FORTUNATE YOUTH play One Love Cali Fest Feb. 8-10; photo Andy Ortega

Good Vibes!!! This phrase is at the center of reggae music and is a pivotal force in the popular L.A. reggae act Fortunate Youth.

“Basically, myself and another member were really looking to create a name that was positive,” explains Greg Gelb of the band. “And fortunate youth being a kind of state of mind, you know a positive state of mind, and music keeps you young; so, if you have a youthful mindset, you’re kind of lucky to be young forever through music.

“Four of us went to high school together – Jered Draskovich, Corey Draskovich, myself Greg Gelb, and Travis Walpole- and our singer Dan Kelly is a transplant in the L.A. area from Mississippi so we kinda linked up with him. There were like two bands that we decided to put together. And later added our drummer from Las Vegas, Jordan Rosenthal.

“Our manager decided to have a birthday party and we decided to take these two bands and combine forces. And along the way we have added other members which has turned it into a six piece.”

Reggae is a fluid art form; while constantly maintaining a close tie to its roots, over the years it has shown an incredible ability to fuse with many other styles of music along the way.

“We kind of joke about that,” muses Gelb. “We all have our own interests, some similar and some different. And when it came out, we all decided to band together and what came out was our sound. Definitely reggae influenced…. but I tell a lot of people we blend a lot of different styles into reggae, and that is what we enjoy about it.

“It’s kind of like an open book where you can blend a lot of cool styles and the reggae vibe is open to a lot of that. It has allowed for a good collaboration of sounds. I think what we most enjoy about being in the reggae genre is the community; it’s very welcoming and everybody is really positive.”

Speak to any reggae fan, and they will tell you seeing it live is a necessity for far too many reasons to list.
“Definitely the energy,” states Gelb. “It all starts with everybody in the crowd, a kind of reflective and positive energy that goes back and forth.

“One of the most fun songs we play live, in terms of a high energy song, is “Burn One.” I think that’s a crowd favorite for sure so that’s always fun. Another fun song I enjoy is “Things,” that’s a fun song to play. I don’t know if you know, but four of us switch instruments throughout the show. So, I play guitar and then get a few songs on the bass. The four of us each get to jump on the bass in the set so we kinda joke that we all like to fight over the bass.

“It’s fun, you know,” Gelb continues. “We all have fun playing the bass. It’s a little bit…. you get to move around, it’s a little more simplified, and is a key element to the feel. So, yea, we have fun playing the musical instruments.”

Being from Hermosa Beach, Fortunate Youth is looking forward to returning to the One Love Cali Reggae Fest in Long Beach Feb. 8 – 10.

Bauhaus Summons Fans On Rainy Night In Anaheim

Peter Murphy of Bauhaus; photo James Christopher

Peter Murphy of Bauhaus; photo James Christopher

Prancing and preening, Peter Murphy, currently sporting an admirable gray goatee, gave Bauhaus fans exactly what they desired with his stage antics bringing each song to life. He was completely locked in from the opening strains of “Double Dare”, which kicked off the main set that featured In The Flat Fields in chronological order.

It may have been pouring rain outside on a Wednesday night in SoCal, but the Bauhaus faithful didn’t let that stop them from showing up and they were rewarded tenfold. This was the first night of the US portion for the 40th anniversary tour and the band was on fire!

David J and Peter Murphy of Bauhaus; photo James Christopher

David J and Peter Murphy of Bauhaus; photo James Christopher

David J, with his signature fair hair and dark shades, was back in the fold and his style of playing bass brought an element to the songs not easily duplicated. His nimble fingers picking and strumming his fretless bass through the set of songs he helped create 40 years ago.

Mark Thwaite effortlessly played the guitar riffs and melodies Bauhaus fans know so well as he has many times over the years with Murphy. I couldn’t see who was playing drums, but he captured the recognizable drum patterns of songs such as “Nerves” throughout the night.

Peter Murphy of Bauhaus; photo James Christopher

Peter Murphy of Bauhaus; photo James Christopher

Murphy’s voice was extremely strong, recreating all the hooks and nuances of every song, while simultaneously moving about the stage. He never stopped moving the whole night. At times he reminded me of a caged predator, a feral cat at the San Diego Zoo, pacing back and forth in its cage. The stage was his cage and he covered every inch of it as he transformed from one character to the next, subtle clothing changes included.

Peter Murphy of Bauhaus; photo James Christopher

Peter Murphy of Bauhaus; photo James Christopher

His command of the audience grew with each song, captivating and mesmerizing, as the second set kicked in with eight more beloved Bauhaus songs including, “She’s In Parties,” “Silent Hedges,” “Dark Entries,” and the granddaddy of them all, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”. Seldom played in its entirety, often as part of a medley, tonight Murphy gave it his best. The crowd went insane as his sinister glare, piercing blue eyes, and otherworldly stance mimicked the iconic vampire while chanting the lyric “Undead, undead, undead”.

Peter Murphy of Bauhaus; photo James Christopher

Peter Murphy of Bauhaus; photo James Christopher

All night the lighting on stage captured the atmosphere of the music, often awash in shadow and dark colors yet, each member was spot lit just enough that you could engage in what was happening. The sound mix was reliably superb as is standard for the Grove of Anaheim.

“Passions Of Lovers” began the first encore followed by the T. Rex classic “Telegram Sam” and Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust”.

Murphy spun, pranced, paced and captivated the audience for 90 minutes ending with one last haunting encore of Dead Can Dance’s “Severance”.

Jonty Balls of Desert Mountain Tribe; photo James Christopher

Jonty Balls of Desert Mountain Tribe; photo James Christopher

But earlier, before Bauhaus delighted us, kicking off the night was the English psych band Desert Mountain Tribe. I was thrilled to see they were on the bill and they were fantastic. The crowd was drawn to the music from the very first song, their energy and hypnosis sucking them in. The trio had a perfect, full sound, all instruments mixed together nicely.

Shouts of “What’s the name of your band?” could be heard by the second song and finally singer/guitarist Jonty Balls said something along the lines of, “Got off a fucking plane two hours ago. We’re from London. We’re called Desert Mountain Tribe.”

Matthew Holt of Desert Mountain Tribe; photo James Christopher

Matthew Holt of Desert Mountain Tribe; photo James Christopher

I don’t think anyone caught the name because after a nice, long, trippy instrumental bit that spellbound the audience, I could hear more shouts of, “Who are you? You’re amazing.” A couple cornered me and asked me point blank the name of the band, which they repeated back to me a few times until they got it.

If they really did arrive two hours before hitting the stage they must have been running on pure adrenaline, playing their songs seemed second nature because they were tight and got more amped as their set continued.

Frank van der Ploeg of Desert Mountain Tribe; photo James Christopher

Frank van der Ploeg of Desert Mountain Tribe; photo James Christopher

By their last song, “The King” which builds nicely for five or six minutes, the guitar reaching sonic proportions to the groove laid down by the bass and drums, the crowd was ecstatic and cheered enthusiastically.

Goth meets Psych. A seamless transition to the new millennium.

If you’re a fan of Bauhaus, you can still catch them in L.A. at the Novo Feb. 28 but arrive early to catch Desert Mountain Tribe. You’ll be glad you made the effort.