Wednesday, May 4, 2016



To know about them is to love them, these three bands with so very many avid fans. They seem to perform or record so very infrequently that it further stokes claims of "best kept secrets" in our music biz universe. Los Angeles nonetheless hosted the rare-ish events of all three in the third month of the new year of Our Lord, with The Jigsaw Seen at the Silverlake Lounge on 3.12.16, The Blessings gigging at The Roar Room 3.26.16, and The Tighty Whiteys hitting the Cafe Escobar stage on 3.19.16.
 The Jigsaw Seen, one of those cellectives where one's first reflex is to omit the article, as in long ago colleagues The Cream and The Buffalo Springfield, actually reminded me of Kaleidoscope (who wisely deleted "the" in the course of their career of four albums betwixt 1966 and 1970) insofar as their genuine eclecticism of sounds was matched by great proficiency and interband connection in playing them all.
 I indeed saw the original Kaleidoscope live in 1968, as I booked them for my senior prom (yes, really, see LINK) whose songs veered from the morbid country classic "O Death" to proto-world music mash-ups of Mid-Eastern sounds with Indian ragas effected with guitars. Kaleidoscopic expertise came via multi-instrumentalist David Lindley (see aforementioned link,) Chris Darrow and host of misfit L.A. expert instrumental practitioners. 

Similarly, the Jigsaw Seen live is a hyper-competent, noisy rock and roll celebration with each song sounding vaguely different for reasons one knows not beyond the oddness of the material lyrics-wise. Their most popular release Bananas Foster (whose package includes cooking recipes and scratch'n'sniff banana scent) sports "Cave Canem" (latin for "beware of the dog" as excavated from a Pompeii watchdog mosiac, and not on the Silverlake lounge set list) whose lyrics trace incredibly obscure, extinct dog breeds and why they went extinct. Its melody is just as sad as its content, but then again, what highly listenable pop bands write songs about the Alaunt and Molossus these days?

In that latter respect they somewhat reminded me of my better half's band of 40+ years ago cult-ness, Christopher Milk which always featured weird topics for pop songs, penned with exquisite attention to the right multi-syllabic mots justes or irregular forms of rhyme, internal and otherwise. Clever, in other words, and successfully updated by Jigsaw Seen. How well the JSeen lyrics scan  can be witnessed in a Winterland album cut (also not in the set) that turns Christmas cliches into imperfect reality: "A child is born, to a welfare case, where the rats run around like they own the place." Another CMilk-worthy song title (not played): "Choreography Killed The Cat."

 Example of Jigsaw song titles in action are seen on set list below, with personal favorite for its hardcore Stooge-iness "Where The Action Isn't."
The Jigsaw Seen play so seldom that many of their fans consider them a studio band, belied by their fun and expert live set at the Silverlake Lounge. Thank goodness a friend alerted us! Canny Jigsaw-ists spotted half the band at the Holy Holy gig, original Spider From Mars Woody Woodmansey and producer Tony Visconti's live tribute to David Bowie at the Wiltern Theatre 4.26.16 (while I was photographing Little Caesar and Dee Snider at the Whisky a GoGo.)

The band is:
Dennis Davison- vocals, percussion; Jonathan Lea- guitar; Tom Currier-bass; Teddy Freese- drums. Jonathan and Tom are part of Kink Dave Davies' current solo touring band.


Above, my better half Mr. Twister, fabulous singer Leslie Knauer, and Betsy Rosenthal, aforementioned friend who alerted us. Betsy and writer Terry Moreland Henderson flanking Jonathan Lea. Guest photographer © 2016 Kurt Ingham for photo on the left. 
Below, Betsy with singer Dennis Davison, Twister on the job in the background...

Meanwhile across town at the Roar Room...
They write great songs that one can remember on the way home, and arrange their sound like the early 1970s Rolling Stones with unobtrusive but essential keyboards, two guitars, harmonica and female Gospel-incubated background vocals. In fact their audio dynamic sort of sounds like 'Exile on Main St." outtakes with entirely different vocals. Furthermore they look good doing it... It's THE BLESSINGS 3.26.16 at the Roar Room, Glendale/La Crescenta area of N.E. San Fernando Valley, L.A.

When folks say rock is dead because newer and/or younger bands don't know how to do it  anymore, I point to Dr. Boogie (LINK) and The Blessings as immediate contradiction. Perhaps our American blues underpinning has helped keep this genre vital for a lot of domestic musicians to try out because our unconscious familiarity with same makes it rather doable. (Whereas virtually all youngest Brit and Euro bands one sees on Palladia, the MTVs etc. doing their mid-tempo mush, um, rather suck at it. They think because they're using guitars and drums that it's rock. They so err...)

The Blessings
are: Jeremy White, vocals, guitar, harmonica;
Mike Gavigan, guitar; Jason Upright, drums; Jeffrey Howell, keyboards; Lavone Seetal, backing vocals, percussion; filling in for Duffy Snowhill on bass, Lights Out Levine.

The second desperado with a chapeau, the one to the right in these shots was Tobin Dale, jamming a farewell to L.A. with his Blessings friends. The very next day he moved to Nashville Tenn.
to kick up 
one's heels


Sultry redhead Irene LeConto does the lounge thing at the Roar Room. She's a promoter, music events planner, manager, publicist and hottie.

Meanwhile back to the beach at Malibu...
What can one say about a band that sounds like the Wrecking Crew and/or Funk Brothers fronted by one the premiere American vocalists and survivor of Geffen Records' Metal 1980s? One would say go see The Tighty Whiteys wherever they may be. 

Malibu's Cafe Escobar is lucky to book these topflight musicians of studio and stage who love to do the funk, soul, r&b and Motown thangs on the same level as their Memphis and Detroit colleagues. A crumpled up 1/2 of a set list gives a clue to their repertoire. The band's sense of fun and superb musicianship serve these great songs so well.

The Tighty Whiteys remain: Ron Young, vocals; 
Joey Malone, guitar; 
Bruce Witkin, bass;
 Kevin Laurence, keyboards;
  Rob Klonel, drums.

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