Sunday, May 30, 2010

SHOULD ONE TAKE A PHOTOGRAPH OF BRIAN WILSON?

(originally written in those bygone days of yesteryear before universal camera phones)
Above, my photograph of Brian Wilson (Beach Boys' musical mastermind) and Rodney Bingenheimer ("Mayor of the Sunset Strip" documentary subject and influential DJ) celebrating the birthday of Chris Carter (no, not the "X-Files" one, the one in Dramarama) with assorted Beatles' memorabilia at a private party I attended. That's a pretty name-droppy mouthful, eh? Actually, it was pretty rare of me to be invited to such rarified events.

I felt no qualms about asking to photograph the two at this event because I had observed Wilson to be in excellent humor, without minders, having a great time at a private party. I didn't shoot his playing piano because I felt that would be socially intrusive. I was rewarded with a photo of a pleasant-looking Wilson with a sincere half-smile here, visibly enjoying himself. It's just a snapshot, but a nice one of famous people having a good time.


(For those unaware of the depth of Wilson's story, the summarize Proust version: he is one of the true musical geniuses of all time, not for the pop music you all know, but for the elaborately complex creativity of his compositions within the pop world that you probably don't know. The dvd examining the making of "Smile" documented one of the most bizarre stories in all modern music, how a young musical genius in his 20's, Wilson, felt that the Beatles had raised the bar so high that he took on a private challenge to outdo their collective creativity, and produced some of the most stunning music of all time, then succumbed to pressures from his bandmates to retreat to crass commercialism, did too many 1960's distractions to escape the pressure, and went certifiably nutso for several decades. The road back is the true tale.)

But any road back from mental illness presents a rocky one, even with the best care of friends, family, medical and business associates. My next photo:
is from one of the palpable downsides, wherein Wilson still was showing unexpected strength in trying to extricate himself from visible depression. His closest brother Carl Wilson had just died, leaving oldest brother Brian as the unexpected survivor of all the Wilson brothers' Beach Boys. His own band-mate Mike Love had just unexpectedly won an expensive lawsuit to retain half of all songwriting royalties to tunes wherein he "allegedly" had only contributed a line of lyrics or two.

Wilson didn't look well that evening, haggard and lost
. This very performance depicted, billed as Nancy Sinatra and her Band plus The Wondermints at Spaceland, was in fact an unadvertised as such tryout for the Wondermints to be Wilson's new back-up band. He sang with them utterly unannounced (I had had my sources to be there. Thank you again, Harvey Kubernik, author/producer/insider.)

The Wondermints wrote songs like and played like they had been the studio guys on Wilson's pet Beach Boys Lp, "Pet Sounds," and Wilson knew it. It was a good match. Wilson was in fact concocting a plan to finish, record and tour with his lost "Smile" work, the one shelved in 1967 after its "Good Vibrations" was released, left to rot due to the aforementioned pressures. He had reunited with its lyricist Van Dyke Parks for completion of song fragments and was recruiting bandmembers like the Wondermints. The keyboardist in my photo, Darian Sahanaja, indeed proved crucial to the project.

But the events of late had worn Wilson down despite his own self-help efforts, and
that evening he, as aforementioned, looked strained, fearful and sort of on cruise control to get through. I did not feel it my right to ask him to pose with Nancy Sinatra, although that would have been a surefire photo-op money shot: he looked too wrung through the wringer. Live shots like mine during a performance are no intrusion, but an in-your-face pose would have been. Maybe it's one the clues as to why I'm not particularly famous, that I could intuit Wilson's troubles that evening, and respected him too much to push further.

So I didn't take a photo of Brian Wilson with Nancy Sinatra that night. Would you have?
Photojournalists often debate what is true reportage vs. what is exploitation. I happen to think that a pro's instincts make the result self-validating, as it is NOT the sensibility of a paparazzo jumping out of the bushes to shove a celeb and ignite a tabloid-worthy moment of rage.

There's a whole genre of police/crime photos by Weegee that became true fine art, despite their depiction of ad hoc, horrific, genuine tragedies. His photo of a mother whose son jumped to his death trying to escape a burning building haunts anyone who's ever seen it.

The artistry is that the photographer made you feel the most intense emotional pain that exists by means of a mere visual sensory dimension, and you are a better, more empathetic human being in the process. (The Public Eye is a little seen but terrific fictitious depiction of his life, starring Joe Pesci.) Similar pics to that in the music genre, such as Kurt Cobain cowering in personal pain backstage, and Janis Joplin alone and drunk, have a similar validity in helping us understand the private personae of public figures, particularly as with those mentioned who were incredibly self-destructive. Sometimes it's all we have to try to understand their tragedies and what had made them tick or not tick.


Which is why I left the question open-ended.

NOEL L at the KEY CLUB

Noel L recently performed with her band at Hollywood's Key Club, easily commanding her far largest audience. My initial story and photos on this new young songwriter here.

Friday, May 28, 2010

DENIZ TEK and the STOOGEDOG BADMEN


Confab of Last of the Badmen, Radio Birdman, The Dogs and The Stooges at my studio last Sunday. Left to right: Loren Molinare, Steve Godoy, Art Godoy, Danny Creadon, Jimmy Recca, Deniz Tek.
More information can be found clicking this LINK.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

THIS SPRING'S FLOWERS



The Bauhinia Orchid Tree and Wisteria were here when we bought the place so both are over 98 years old, and represent Old School gardening (our house dates from 1912-- monstrously rare in Los Angeles.) The Wisteria was used for shade arbors a hundred years ago, when people had bigger properties they needed to shade (unlike postage stamps yards of today where opening an umbrella suffices.)


Bauhinia is a tree that flowers for 3 months of the year here, pretty cool, but supposedly looks like a stick for its first 12 years of life, which is why most don't plant it. The Wisteria is hard to manage because of its Malthusian growth: it grows like The Blob since it's a vine, kudzu-like. Wisteria has to have support, preferably titanium!

The poppies are, well, just poppies. Their flatness in my shot reminded me of Warhol's flower silkscreen prints. The juxtaposition of focal planes in these shots is courtesy of a LensBaby attachment, as usually digital presents maximum depth of field outdoors. I was playing around with same, as I want my new cameras to behave just as my old ones did.

MY BETTER HALF


Here's a current photo (April 2010) of Mr. Twister (Mr. Fastfilm) for the curious. He is posed in front of a vehicle similar to the one in which he motored throughout England in the early '70s while fronting a band (Pointed Stick) and affronting audiences

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

SATURDAY NIGHT POGO

Thirty one years ago, I took the cover photos and designed the graphics for "Saturday Night Pogo," the third ever release from then spankin' new Rhino Records, as I had for their second release "Twisting with The Low Numbers," wherein I placed the band (yes, twisting) in front of the most desperately garish oil-sheik mansion ever in Beverly Hills, replete with human statuary with the pubes brightly painted. (I had nothing to do with Rhino's first release by Wild Man Fischer, although I did finagle this artist to pay me for listening to his single while he was giving them away promotionally. The Wild Man was also a Confused Man.) For you young'uns, pogoing was the official oldschool mosh dancing to punk rock music: try and guess what it looked like!

This cover sports famous gonzoid literati writer Richard Meltzer effecting his best Travolta, amidst the concept spoofing "Saturday Night Fever" via the then reigning Disco fad, mortal enemies of us punkers. The would-be Bee Gees would be the guitarist from Chainsaw (I was hyping my future better half's own punk band, also included in the compilation,) an unknown punk who later wracked up a jail sentence I'm told, and the actual CEO of Rhino, who wanted to be somewhere on the cover. I said fine if he put a stocking over his head. This was one of the first domestic compilations of punk rock back in the day.


Which segues into the inevitable whatever happened to's of its punk musicians in the intervening decades. The Winos and The Low Numbers were a band put together by the other founder of Rhino Records. Both are mega-wealthy now with their multi-media empire, sold to Warner Bros. Both bands sported record company executives, from Columbia and Warners, band-slumming. The Dils were known for punk anthems and became Rank and File which included Alejandro Escovedo in addition to its Kinman brothers. The Berlin Brats resembled the NY Dolls, with the somewhat known Rick Wilder. Vom featured cover boy Richard Meltzer with their track produced by the future deputy Mayor of the city of Los Angeles. The Motels eventually recorded ballad-y new wave actual Billboard hits via its stellar attraction, velvet and smoke-voiced Martha Davis, who still performs to this day and sounds no different, a good thing. Backstage Pass included Spock, a local scenester, and Che Zuro, later of The Orchids and still a performer.


My personal favorites, placed prominently on the back cover layout, were Chainsaw and The Dogs. My better half's last band Chainsaw, theatrical punks before their time, released a single that is prized by collectors today, broke up in a fistfight, and reunited 28 years later for a successful European tour to mark the re-release of all their material abroad and eventually domestically. I didn't know The Dogs at the time, but their distinctive power trio nouveau MC5 hardest rock had impressed me mightily, particularly in those days of radio mellowmush. I later became fast friends with Dog bassist Mary, later in Kanary, a band I've also lionized to mix my animal metaphors utterly.

the Chainsaw single

Monday, May 24, 2010

NOSTALGIE DE LA BOUE


Nostalgie de la boue is a French term for memories of mud, i.e., the gutter, the decadent old times. This seemed like a perfect title for some of my photos of vintage Sunset Strip, Hollywood Calif. backstage nightlife from the golden days of Hair Metal in the late 1980's, plus one pic of an actual Sunset Strip protest against pay to play. Recogizable faces here and there would be Billy Idol, Julian Lennon, Mara Fox of Precious Metal, along with many others who may not like to be remembered for activities performed in the bathrooms and dressing rooms as depicted.
I really was looking for non-incriminating photos to post here, or ones that hadn't been widely published. A reader here commented that black and white innately looks more decadent. Helmut Newton certainly knew this! Do you know that they don't even manufacture the black and white photo papers or films that I used to make these anymore? These are truly artifacts of a bygone era, in all manner of meanings. Billy Idol is shown talking to Julian Lennon, sire- John Lennon, dam- Cynthia, along with a member of Milli Vanilli (with the biggest hair.) Billy gave me trouble that evening for my photography, even though I was a photojournalist invited by "his people" to cover the opening of his girlfriend's Club Rubber.

Mara (the protester) is still doing well in the music business, promoting publishing for alt bands. I can thank her for the access to the Sandy West memorial show where I photoed The Bangles.


I didn't really do much "celeb" photography like the backstage parties: I was invited to the ones here, hence my being allowed to photograph. A technical hint: to take a photo like the one of Idol and Lennon, you have to be the first one to spot them, then shoot, and you'll only get the one shot. The second you do, others will close ranks around them and there's no more clear area around them to photograph. I felt a little bad doing this to Lennon: he looks startled, as would be anyone whose father was ambushed and murdered.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

STOOGEWEAR











A
lucky
attendee of the May 2010 Hammersmith Apollo gigs in London by Iggy and The Stooges brought me back a commemorative t-shirt sporting Stooge staff photographe
r Robert Matheu's classic 1973
pic allied with brand new graphics by "Obama-Hope" artist Shepard Fairey. On the back it proclaims Hammersmith Sold Out. Thank you Natalie!
The one on the right is my original Glam era Wild Thing shirt by the very same designer of the notorious Leopard jacket, one of five made, adorning the 1972 Raw Power LP cover as worn by Iggy Pop (story, provenance and present day whereabouts here and here .) Yes, I can still get into it (barely, abetted with strategic vest) but people remain credulous as hell that it truly is original, since this lively design spawned a cottage industry of retro knock-offs throughout the intervening decades, and I've always cut all tags off my clothing since time immemorial as they challenge my overly sensitive skin (to me, the fairy tale of the princess and the pea had no fantasy element to it whatsoever. With a pea sticking out several mattresses below, this woman had a genuine problem on her hands.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

LOUIE LOUIE SONGWRITER

Why is this man laughing? He wrote rock's favorite party standard "Louie Louie"! Seen left to right at a spoken word performance at the Ash Grove back in the day were writer Wanda Colman, (the now late) Richard Berry and poet Michelle T. Clinton.

Why is this photo different than most backstage shots? Firstly,no flash was used, just overhead available light and the same pushed film used in the earlier performance, unlike most backstage snapshots. Secondly, I'd worked with and even been to the homes of both Ms. Coleman and Ms. Clinton heretofore on graphic projects and photo sessions for Harvey Kubernik's spoken word labels, hence I was as at ease as these professional performers were. And Mr. Berry? Besides posing here with the pretty ladies,
he recently had recovered royalties to his copyrighted classic thanks to an artists' legal foundation's help. No wonder the grin!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

JEFF BECK, STEVIE RAY VAUGHN together live

photo (C) 1990 Heather Harris. Jeff Beck and Stevie Ray Vaughn jamming together at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. It was an odd gig for the minders to restrict photography: both artists were headliners who alternated top billing throughout the tour. We photographers were restricted to the usual first two songs only nonsense for each artist, but told we could stick around and photograph for the last two songs, which I figured would be the fun collaboration as depicted above. Surprisingly, few photo press stayed: perhaps they been so browbeaten into missing the best parts of all sets that they had just trundled out reflexively.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I LIKED THE '80S! LOCAL L.A. BANDS

all photos (c) 1985 -89 Heather Harris
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Proffered: a smidgen of my '80's studio shots. Having written that the 1980's were my most productive photographic period, I'll expand that I quantitatively had more work as there just were more local bands, with more variety than now: punk, metal, hair metal, "pretty in pink" new wave, rap, hardcore et al. These shots sample L.A. locals, above: Hans Naughty, photographed in the proverbial dark alley at night, singer Danny Jazz upper right.

Below, I've forgotten whom but the lead singer looked like Rob Lowe/Matt Dillon; Black Cactus Stampede, a terrific live band see HERE;

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Below, Daddy Ray, a comedic band a la Cheap Trick, meaning fine as well as witty musicians, with the photo's caption being "How big is it?"; and The Wild Hairs, a Gogo-ish cross between Johnny Thunders and T-Rex
!
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More 80's L.A. locals below: Bardeux; I've forgotten whom; I've forgotten whom but she was once a lead singer for the Wild Hairs until last spotted careening off with Billy Idol on the back of his motorcycle after a Hairs gig (true story.)
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GUN CLUB LIVE, icons circa 1981

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photos (C)1981 Heather Harris
Gun Club's Jeffrey Lee Pierce and Patricia Morrison, legendary Los Angeles punk icons.

Jeffrey Lee Pierce, although a magpie of musical styles, ended up sui generis. He could care less what other punks were doing, he was gonna reference voodoo swamp chants, slide Delta Blues, Appalachian folk and bebop jazz in his screaming punk gumbo years before the Black Crowes woke up to the same roots.

His band Gun Club spanned a decade and a half, two coasts and four continents worth of assorted band configurations. His wailing voice, slightly flat but passionate as all get out, was unmistakable from any other soul in the occasionally samey world of punk and post-punk. He was fearless onstage. And frequently really, really drunk.

East Coast publications compared his lyrics to T.S. Eliot in their spare imagery, which figured since Pierce reputedly was well read and literate. Murder ballads and modern allusions to the fire of love abounded in Gun Club songs. On the West Coast, people would have scratched their spikey-do heads in wonder at this assessment, since the man in person was an out of control alcoholic. He suffered the inevitable fate of those devoid of interventions, and died in 1996.


Patricia Morrison! Wowza! Bow down in unworthiness to the True Queen of the Goths! As early as mid-1970's, Patricia had already perfected this exact look depicted (here in motion in my top photo as if she were a Gainsborough painting heroine on the windy English moors) with her real hair, not extensions. She's been bass player extraordinaire to The Bags, Gun Club, The Sisters of Mercy, and The Damned, actually wedding singer Dave Vanian of the last cadre of punk Goths. (Together they hatched a little ghoul, and she's temporarily retired.)
In the earliest interviews with Cassandra Peterson, she admitted she "borrowed" her Elvira look from a fellow Los Angelean, a female musician. That rather obviously would be our Patricia.












Check out Kurt Voss' documentary "Ghost on the Highway" about Gun Club for the insiders' assessments of its career arc, plus innumerable Youtubes like:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A H*o*T*t*i*e IN DISTRESS

For your consideration, take a gander at yon hottie. Slim, enigmatic, modern-looking and a 16 year old professional model when the photo was taken, setting the Wayback Machine to 1901. The half-closed eyes, head tilted thusly, off shoulder garment just so: this is one talented model. She's Evelyn Nesbit, whose still relevant story most recently was chronicled in the book "American Eve" by Paula Uruburu, published in 2008.

In the summer of 1981 I took my visiting grandfather to see two films made about people he knew personally around the turn of the century before, "Reds" about John Reed, his erstwhile Harvard classmate turned doomed Bolshevik hero, and "Ragtime," which included a sub-plot of the scandalous real-life murder of Stanford White over a showgirl/model. My grandfather (story HERE) had worked for Stanford White's firm of McKim, Mead and White, the latter architect unceremoniously offed by the jealous husband of White's former mistress, aforementioned showgirl/model Evelyn Nesbit. So who was this intriguing female face? 

I obsess easily (but hasten to add harmlessly) and one of my continuing interests remains beautiful femme fatales with early success who, despite obvious innate intelligence, were slated for later failure. (Can we say subjectivity boys and girls?) Evelyn Nesbit fits nicely within this subset of my books or movies about Louise Brooks, Gia Carangi, Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen,) Empress Elizabeth of Austria, Lady Idina Sackville (wife of murdered Joss Hay, Earl of Errol, both of Kenya,) Zelda Fitzgerald, Edie Sedgwick, Adele Bloch-Bauer, Bettie Page or Lady Anne Blunt (daughter of mathematician Countess Ada Lovelace [often regarded as the world's first computer programmer] and granddaughter of no less than Lord Byron. Good genetics there! While her bounder husband slept with every female aristocrat in England, Lady Blunt alone is responsible for having saved the Arabian Horse breed from interbred extinction, as it rapidly was being crossed only with Thoroughbreds in its native Middle East to fashion faster racehorses.)

Author Uruburu contends that Nesbit's life and ordeals represent a cautionary tale to today's teen celebs (while firmly rooting her bio in the times and context.) Nesbit was gifted with curiosity, artistic proclivities, love of books and learning, and yes, drop dead beauty, and became the sole breadwinner for her widowed family with her later modeling career. She had no adult guidance from her clueless mother and was easy prey for exploitative types of all stripes. Her main benefactor raped her, her new rich husband beat her, and the millionaire dynasty who counted on her testimony to save its scion from the electric chair for shooting her former lover in cold blood in front of oh, er, um, 500 or so witnesses in a public place dropped her financially like a lead balloon once same was accomplished.

There's no extant film footage of her, but plenty of photos to discover online, given her popularity in the modeling world of the Fin Du Siecle. In every one, she looks out to us from a universal, timeless place, nary a sign of the clunky, stylized and fixed-in-cement dowdy heroines like Lillian Russell who more typlified the age. She could be... similarly aged Miley Cyrus in that off-shoulder drapery. Her cautionary tale is that even the gifted need professional guidance and personal support in careers that are so innately collaborative, the media. (As far as the gifted requiring both support and aspects of luck to succeed, I highly recommend the book "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell, which outlines how even mega-talents like Bill Gates and the Beatles needed surprisingly similar additional factors beyond talent to have realized their respective successes.)

Her lovely smile, as depicted above and below, would soon fade.

The mega-rich Thaw family who had enlisted her help vital to getting the murderous husband off immediately disowned her, rare in cases with an heir. Thaw himself eventually only left her $10K, the same amount he left to a waitress he had just met.

Her attempted film career failed. There was drug abuse, suicide attempts, and extreme single mother hardships during The Depression and war years. She eventually supported herself as a sculptor and ceramics teacher, and lived modestly into her eighties. My schoolmate Reidun was one of her caretakers at a facility, said she was sweet and remembered her son visiting as well.

"The tragedy wasn't that Stanford White died, but that I lived." 
   -Evelyn Nesbit, 1934

Sunday, May 9, 2010

IN SEARCH OF JIMMY RECCA

So that Retrokimmer could post a true, worldwide music biz scoop HERE , last Friday I photographed the seemingly elusive Jimmy Recca, M.I.A. bassist from the mythic 1971 lineup of The Stooges that featured both Ron Asheton and James Williamson on dueling lead guitars, who again flirted with fame in The New Order (the first, non-New Romantic one,) a short-lived supergroup with Recca, Asheton, the MC5's Machine Gun Thompson and an assortment of famous but unreliable singers. This New Order proved so unpublicized in its mid-70's era that A) I, who loved all things hard rock and proto-punk at the time wasn't even aware of their existence in my local burg and B) they opened for the last incarnation of my future better half Mr. Twister's first band Christopher Milk, (although after they'd parted ways,) a group past its label-sponsored prime. Then the world lost track...

Back to the mythic 1971 Stooges. We can all thank Carlton Sandercock for immortalizing the short-lived, 1971 Recca-bassed/Ron and James twin lead guitar Stooges on his Easy Action box set "You Don't Want My Name You Want My Action."
(And Carlton's [through Kimmer's] recent search to give Recca his You Want My Action royalties seems to have prompted a new New Order retrospective for posterity in the works.)

This 2009 release of 1971 material (details HERE ) validated the suspicion that record execs of the day were stone cold deaf in dismissing both the band and its (heretofore unheard) material, as both were magnificent beyond belief even via the (cleaned up) audience recordings on the 4 disc set, which included both legendary Electric Circus, NYC sets heretofore known only in the photo evidence of Iggy covered head, bare torso to toe in silver spray-on paint, and 2 other gigs photographed with this improbable line-up. It also prompted a mini-fad of searching for Jimmy Recca amongst online Stooges' chats, the most amusing involving highly creative writing by one "Chin Lee" spinning tales of Mediterranean academia and nonesuch, spawning weird catch-phrases such as "I'm Chin Lee and I ride the bike!"

As retrokimmer noted, the real Jimmy turns out to be managing the venerable Alley rehearsal studios in North Hollywood CA (venerable in L.A. translates as older than a decade, and The Alley's been around since my better half Mr. Twister rehearsed and showcased there thirty five years ago in his punk band Chainsaw.)

Jimmy still has great hair and arresting blue eyes, so in person he's recognizable from the photographic evidence of some four decades ago. I didn't catch every word, as his voice is as low-volumed as my own, which reminded me how hard I probably am for others to hear, and how much of my own hearing has been compromised in my four-decade live music photography pursuits.

He told me James Williamson (our session HERE and HERE ) had gotten him into the band when the he was in his teens, and that he had seen the show his old bud Ron Asheton played at our local (now extinct) Coconut
Teaszer club which I had photographed some 19 years ago (HERE.) (But then again it was too crowded to see individuals in the audience. I my short self had to stand on a bar stool to photograph the stage.)

The Alley remains a prestigious place to be (I had just missed the Red Hot Chili Peppers before our photo session) and an extremely pleasant work environment, what with its original '70s decor of indoor spider plants and hand-hewn natural woods a la retro Topanga and Laurel Canyons. I noted that its steep wooden spiral staircase must have played havoc with the platform-booted musicians of the original glam era, and he claimed the only real mishap occurred with a suicidal trespasser was thwarted in his leap from same only by catching his footwear on the Fort Apache-style wooden fence below.


Note thirty-seven years' worth of band graffiti in my photo above. I have a fuzzy recollection that I myself might have been responsible for the one that reads "Eschew Obfuscation!" from the Chainsaw days, as that sounds like me in the mid-70s. The Alley remains sort of this side of L.A.'s equivalent of Swinghouse,
so it's very nice to see that overall, the formerly elusive Jimmy Recca has done well. I'm Heather Harris and I shoot the music.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

THE NEW YORK DOLLS, LIVE 1973


My NY Dolls tales are minimal but extant, having photographed the New York Dolls live in 1973 at the Whisky A Gogo. I was a natural/stage lights-only snob in those days, not even bringing a flash, so I have very few photos from that show's dimly lit presentation, the best one showing David Johansen in his ebony halter top together with Johnny Thunders sporting his Elvis-like sneer and Big Hair. Far, far better for all concerned to consult Bob Gruen's excellent "All Dolled Up" documentary, easily available on Amazon and the like.

Shortly before he moved to New Orleans and expired, Thunders attended a New Years' Eve show at the Hollywood Palladium starring ex-Sex Pistol Steve Jones. We both were standing in the guest list/VIP line together, since as a photographer, I required special entree for the audacity of wanting to enter with a camera. And we were both were being hassled about getting in at all, me-- because all photographic press are treated in the gamut from mere damage control to outright terrorists at rock shows, and him-- because they didn't recognize him or his name. We didn't speak to one another, but shared a knowing smirk at the staff's lack of worldliness in dismissing him.

Once he had been the ultimate in photogenic Italianate bad-boy cuteness, thanks to his cheekbones and overall good bone structure. Maybe they really didn't recognize him. By now, he had terrible skin, sallow, resembling "cottage cheese" acoustic ceilings. Even though I toted a flash unit along with me at that point in my career, any thought of my doing paparazzo-type pics (which I normally eschew anyway) of him in line would have been cruel. He did not look in any shape or form healthy. And as was shortly proven, he wasn't.

Monday, May 3, 2010

AWESOME COLOR: better and better but gone






Amazon's product description of their newest release Mass Hypnos (Dig): The psych-garage-noise purveyors jump back in the minivan to play every rock club, basement, & skate park they can, leaving a trail of broken guitars & pizza crusts from Michigan to Mars.

Cute, but this isn't quite fair. Indeed, Awesome Color remains a category-busting young power trio of the most maximum enjoyment possible for rather more reasons. Their 14,457 fans on Myspace, as their own contemporaries, completely fathom whatever references abound that remain completely indecipherable to yours truly. And I don't care.

No, I'll be addressing you, Mr., Mrs. and Ms. Over Forty Rock Fan. You complain and criticize (and say I'm nothing in your eyes. Boomer referential, sorry) that nothing new sounds as good as the favorites of your own youth. Balderdash and crockola. Step outside your demographic for a moment: the air's fine out here.

It's just a question of quantification (they're aren't that many of them) and medium (strangely enough, the exponential growth of the web to promote all that is spankin' new in correlation to the decline of open-minded, free to hear radio stations willing to play something different has resulted in muddy miasma of millions upon millions of new bands online about whom you never will know a thing and will have broken up by next Thursday anyway, so why bother.)

Awesome Color are just the exceptions for you, fellow hard rock geezers. Their three releases on Sonic Youth's boutique label Ecstatic Peace each present a progession from frantic urgency, earliest Stoogean minimalism (you're going to love their 2-note songs,) head in the clouds stream of consciousness, and noise afficianado-ing to excellent musicianship and groove-on-groove sound vibrancy, all within the same cd. And each cd proves more wondrous than the next.

Full sonic descriptions in my earlier AC blog here.

So just buy at least one already and bliss out to something novel for a change. If you don't, Dr. House knows you're idiots. Stimulate those regressing brain cells with good new music. Of course, the band itself is going to hate me for pitching their life's work to their grandparents. And I don't care.

Annotation to my live photography of Awesome Color here, 4.26.10. As with many youngish bands, their gigs mutate throughout any long tour, and I found myself traipsing under onramps and running across freeway offramps in downtown Los Angeles searching for the impromptu club to which their cancelled-that-night venue was transferred. (thank gawd I checked online before I left. I'm not that much of a geezer. Hmm. Strike that. I am insofar as I forgot the exact local dates and missed the easier to find, static club gig of the night before. Sorry, Derek.) In actual fact, I never would have found the "club" (the patio of a government building) at all had I not heard it from afar down the street (which caused it to move all bands indoors after complaints from the slum next door) and into the gallery space therein. Hence the white walls.


Below is one of the patio bands, Garbaj Kaetz, who get a B+ for their efforts thereupon. Their grade might rise if they're still playing past next Thursday.


Stop the presses, unfortunate addenda as of 5.6.10 : on the heels of ending its latest cross-country bread and water tour, the band Awesome Color is no more, although all its recorded legacy remains available for purchase and all its members remain alive, well and open to new creative music endeavors, especially Derek Stanton. I'll never joke about bands playing past next Thursday ever again, I swear!
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