By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
As a songwriter, Hanlin is generally considered the finest in Long Beach.
"The best," says Enrico.
"Gifted," says Jacovides.
"He's God," says St. Louis, fittingly.
"I appreciate it when people say things about my writing, but honestly, I don't feel like I'm in control of it," Hanlin says. "It just comes. It's not like I can sit back and say, 'Yeah, I'm such a kick-ass songwriter.' I can't control it. And usually, the things that I sit around and labor over come out the worst. The ones that come from a moment of inspiration come out fresh and clean."
"He paints a picture that's just so vivid, he takes you somewhere, and its real," says Enrico, who was asked to sing backup on Hanlin's "He Helped Himself," a song about family and indulgence and loss with references to haunted houses and a chorus of "What could have been/Might have been/Ain't never ever gonna be again."
"I just started to get such images from that song," says Enrico, who recently moved back home to take care of his mother after his father's death. "It was so strong that I had to turn my back on the audience. I was crying, and I couldn't stop."
A few songs into the set, Hanlin apologizes to the assembled for the guitar amp that keeps shorting out and spewing static about the room. He also announces he's just learned that local blues legend Top Jimmy Koncek, a notorious drinker, has died at the age of 46 of liver failure. The band then launches into "He Helped Himself."
Soon after, Mazich spills a glass full of something on his keyboards, bringing everything to a stop.
"That's okay; someone gave me that anyway. Drink up, folks," and then, under his breath, Hanlin says, "Don't spill it on your organ."
The show ends with Musselman jumping onstage and demanding an encore, which he gets. The Dibs go into "When a Man Loves the Moon," and the room fills with knowing nods. When that's over, Hanlin raises a glass to the room and says, "Here's to what's left of Top Jimmy's liver." Then he strides off.
The Record Industry Men are impressed.
"They're fucking great. They remind me of the Wallflowers and Creedence," says the Record Industry Man.
"He's an amazing talent. This is not the soup du jour," says another Recording Industry Man. "Guys like this put out huge albums because this kind of music never goes out of style."
"An amazing talent."
"He's the old soul in a beautiful package."
"He's due his time."
Hanlin nods and says his thank-yous. When they ask him, "So what's your plan? What do you want to do?" he answers, "Look, man, we're here. I want to get one step above that, that's all. 'Cause that's all the further you can see. Do I want to be touring stadiums? I just want to get to the next step and make sure that it's all square and level so I can get to the next step."
The next step, the Record Industry Men say, is for the Dibs to get out of this place. Get out on the road. Exactly how they are going to do that, no one is saying. That costs a lot of money.
"When do we leave?" Hanlin asks, laughing.
Really? Would he really leave the place that saved him?
"Hey, I love this place. It's been good to us. But it's not like I want to stay here forever. I mean, it's a fucking warehouse."