THURSDAY, JAN. 19
The NAMM Jam melts down the Doll Hut with its traditional festival kickoff ponytail rock-dude afterparty, prelude to a monster Friday that includes almost all the surviving dignified rock & roll guitarists and almost all their ungrateful bastard slimechildren (sponsored by Ibanez) "appearing" and in some cases even performing. Like on . . .
Because the thing Americans are so good at is establishing vernacular: we make cool, and we'll always have that, no matter how many auto-manufacturing plants or defense contracts they take away from us. We put the parts together, and although the rhythms might have come from somewhere ancient, we're the ones who make it into something you can hold in your hands—James Brown, Leo Fender, the mysterious no-name W.C. Handy found singing ". . . goin' where the Southern cross the dog . . ." in Tutwiler, Mississippi, in 1903: and let's add the Ventures in there too. When the Beatles came in like a blanket smothering a fire, only Motown and the Ventures were able to thrive and survive, though the Ventures had to go expat to Japan to do it. But while Dick Dale and Link Wray helped on the flanks, it was the Ventures who had that jet-age American can-do-ism that (like James Brown) erected an entire genre (and vernacular; how many surf breaks would just trail behind Nokie Edwards for years and years after?) around them. "Walk, Don't Run": salute. A modest early evening show with Nokie and the guys at the Anaheim Convention Center for the NAMM show. Plus wandering randomly: Bill Ward!
THOUGH: While any music here is incidental, the spirit in Bill Daniel's films is kin to the trick-voice blues Nick Tosches loved to write about: lo-fi mountain songs about ghosts, except presented here as a documentary about Bozo Texino, one of the most legendary and mysterious of old-time freight-train hobo graffitists, up there with TRUST JESUS and just below KILROY WAS HERE. The bands (Jay Buchanan, Chris Paul Overall, Brett Bixby) at hand offer backup to a film surely as wide-eyed and big-skied as your most personal yodelin' blues ballads—if Tosches asked where dead voices gather, Daniel found out: freight yards in the Texas desert, late late at night. Find a place in the arcane at the Gypsy Lounge.
AND: Burning Man repurposed for a rave in a planetarium with the Mutaytor, a monster conglomeration of shiny spiked people hammering at drum kits, blowing fire, baring midriffs, flying through the air on wires or possibly just exceptional physical confidence, and smashing out their own silhouette between the Blue Man Group and Crash Worship. Wear JNCOs? Your mind yearns to be blown at the Galaxy.
PLUS: Deke Dickerson geeks out with the socially guitarded with 1 million flying Vs all playing "Rumble" at the Jolly Roger Hotel in Anaheim, one of several events tangent to the NAMM show; Dale Crover of the Melvins geeks out with the socially beertarded at Alex's Bar with Altamont; Billy Zoom geeks out period at DiPiazza's.
Tower of Power spoke fluent James Brown: "What Is Hip?" was solid West Coast funk (with sparkly horns like 103rd St. Rhythm Band et al.), and "Back on the Streets Again" cracks right along with a million precise parts click-clacking in meticulous perfect order. Sax makes funk: Little Royal knew it and so did they. At the Vault.
AND: Dude rock with Fu Manchu at Detroit;'tude rock with She Wants Revenge at the Galaxy, and did you know singer Justin Warfield put out a pretty solid rap record produced by Prince Paul about 1991? She wants reissue . . . And then: 'lude rock with the Dickies at Fitzgerald's.
But what a Friday, right??
Archive/archaeology label par excellence Sundazed reissues five-count-'em-five exact mono repros of the Byrds' best run of records, reproduced as vicious in-studio catfights intended them. No bonus material but a deep sense of rightness and the songs themselves.
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Come back Tonee: Raphael Saadiq(ne Wiggins and one of the Toni Tone Tonetcs. from way back then) brings his Gap-foyer soul to the HOB and recasts himself as "Ray Ray," who's "makin' money in LA" now that his name is "Ray Ray Ray Ray!" Feels like there's a lot of humor in this super-produced smooth R&B pop about some West Coast show-biz hustler (?), especially with the Shangri-La girls gossiping on the hook. Subtler—and more on-purpose—than R. Kelly, whose life is a closet and whose songs are just self-guided tours.
But what a Friday, right?
THURSDAY, JAN. 26
Skiffle band Satisfaction hold down the south end of our vector-control district while AWOL One keeps it Pere Ubu (It's a house/it's a home/"This place looks so familiarrrrrrrrrrrrr/But I never been here before I never been here before . . .") up north; a sickly balanced mix and their pure pop (like the 88) is not my thing but you can't ever argue someone out of a slick guitar solo and my thing is awful anyway, just repetition and long reels of noise and pathology as art, the most life-deforming ill-at-heart sickness music—cry for help much?—so what can I do? A band that delivers on every necessary level. Deeeeeeeeeeetroit, where the Spike Drivers were from.
See Calendar listings for club locations. Also: be smart; call ahead.