Tuesday, November 12, 2019


 9.20.19 A summer's adventure: touring a B 29 Superfortress, one of only two flyable B 29 planes left in existence. Named after one of Disney's seven dwarves, protectors of Snow White, it was visiting our local Van Nuys Airport to offer (too expensive for us) rides in the rare warbird, and, our speed, a chance to clamber up and down ladders and see virtually everything inside of one. Note my very pleased better half in foreground above...

Monday, November 11, 2019

I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND: perfect first film from 1978 about 1964, comedy that's practically documentary

Today's film fare, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, watched so I wouldn't be tempted to purchase the brand new Criterion Collection re-release of it in Blu ray. It really is a must for music fans and popculture historians of all ages (barring the odd sociopath who despises the Beatles.) This 1978 comedy about events surrounding the Beatles' 1964 U.S. arrival and first televised gig in NYC is Robert Zemekis' well nigh perfect first film, cast with engaging young talent, and licensing 17 genuine Beatles songs bombarding the era as would have been real life soundtrack. 

I witnessed the West Coast version of Beatlemania amongst teens and can attest that however outrageous this comedy seems, it's practically a documentary. Why, some still ask? The obvious answer through the ages has been that Beatlemania (a perfect storm of ad hoc promotion and new music worthy of such plaudits) allowed an America still grieving from the JFK assassination to obsess about something obviously good and brand new in their lives. 73 million people watched that live televised gig; in other words 43% of all American households whether or not they were regular tv viewers or not. 

The less publicized reason has to do with Beatlemania's springboard to, yes, sexual awakening for the new 1960s generation of liberated teen girls. Although out of reach (except for some plot points in this movie, and select well-connected girlfriends I knew in prep school) the Beatles had twofold allure. #1 The reinforcement of their music constantly heard on mass media and instantly recognizable, quite unlike anything that came before. #2 Their outgoing, witty personas on the newsbytes was a great introduction to just what these good looking young Beatles themselves wanted to convey in their art: personal sexiness, always the primal ingredient of real rock and roll. 

The screen capture herein features actress Nancy Allen as a teen who has broken into the band's hotel suite while they are out, and she succumbs to feeling up all of their possessions strewn about as an orgasmic, vicarious thrill way beyond her fan expectations. Trivia: at their requests and for barter, I used to draw pictures of friends en flagrante with their favorite Beatle or Stone. Reflecting how one made long distances calls in olden days of yore, my friend Sally McMahon used to call Liverpool, England repeatedly until she would get a young sounding operator on the line, then query her or him at length about the latest Beatles' doings. Proud Liverpudlian operators gladly obliged her. Last factoid actually on topic- the Beatles aren't impersonated in this film except in longshots, news footage and a few scenes from behind while they're conversing. My friend Rich Correll supplied the voice for Paul McCartney in this film!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019


Somehow the bookers/promoters of a well known mid-sized Los Angeles Theatre lost the plot and cancelled a gig 18 hours before it was supposed to begin (2 weeks is rather more  customary for changes) along with its corresponding San Francisco show two nights later. Heroically, James Williamson and Pink Hearts sprang into action for their fans and played two pop up performances on those very same nights, mid-sized Alex's Bar, Long Beach on 6.29.18 and at Los Angeles' Monty Bar, the proverbial intimate club on 7.1.18.

Both triumphant gigs featured selections from the band's new Behind The Shade album (Williamson's second solo release with all new material) emblazoned with many Iggy and The Stooges' Raw Power and Kill City classics co-written by Williamson.  What's it like see one of Rock's greatest living guitarists ever from about 8 feet away? Well, the Pink Hearts' "Johanna" featured the most intense version I've ever heard Williamson play live, and that includes all the Stooges' shows I've photographed from 1973 to 2013.

Plus, the Pink Hearts are about surprises. All material, from most raucous rockers to alt  ballads is co-written by Williamson and singers Frank Meyer, exhuberant yet tuneful frontman of the Street Walkin' Cheetahs (once the backing band of James' pal Cheetah Chrome of the Dead Boys,) and Petra Haden, esteemed pitch-perfect vocalist with a pronounced quirky side. To wit she covered the entire The Who Sell Out album a capella, including her singing all the instrumental parts. The male/female trade off then blending in hard rock is a great asset sorely missing in this genre today, and it was Williamson's unique vision that first brought the two together for the first time on Behind The Shade then these performances.

Dramatis Personae:
James Williamson, guitar
Frank Meyer, lead vocals
Petra Haden, lead vocals
Andrea Wasse, backing vocals
Gregg Foreman, keyboards
Jason Carmer, bass 
Michael Urbano, drums
"The Pink Horns," Geoff Yeaton, saxophone, Mark Pender, trumpet


The closest you'll get to a deserved smile of satisfaction from ringmaster/guitar virtuoso James Williamson.
~ ~ ~
Downtown Los Angeles' Monty Bar featured funky ambiance, bison head taxidermy above the shelf they call a stage, absolutely no stage lighting, and a wildly enthusiastic crowd, many of whom were there for the opening act Medicine Bird (pix later) and of course were uproariously pleased at the surprise headliner.  Monty Bar live shots: 

Andrea and Petra made a lovely eyeful of excellent singers, Petra in the same blue frock for this gig that she wore for our photo session for Blues Jumped The Rabbit by Petra and James, outtake from the session at left.

Openers Medicine Bird, the ostensible headliners were only to happy to have a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Stooges' guitarist magically appear and play after their own set. Medicine Bird featured acclaimed singer/songwriter of The Blessings Jeremy White with his Nashville friend guitarist Tobin Dale on guitar. The twosome wrote and recorded an EP of all new material, much of it reveling in their respective, authentic Southern roots so handily showcased here.

Jeremy remains known for the rootsy, bluesy, Stonesy, countrified sounds he blends into Blessings' songs (which feature over a decade of recorded material that sounds impeccably A List) so Medicine Bird plied the same strengths with a different gloss. The band had debuted live earlier that same week, not that one could tell. GlitterTrash drummer Boomer Bearman, a popular musician on our local scene, can be spotted 
herein as a Bird.

PHOTO OPS from Alex's Bar
Above, James Stolz and Amy D'Allesandro Stolz, cinematographer and director of The Making Of Re-Licked documentary accompanying James Williamson's first solo album Re-Licked, and esteemed rock photographer Kurt Ingham, who photographed The Stooges for one of their first magazine covers, Creem in 1970. He is also my beloved better half. ↓Below, Jenna Talia, singer of GlitterTrash and Donna Balancia, California Rocker editor.
 ↑A live shot photo op, with, left, David Arson, singer of The Raw Power Rangers, 
a Stooges' tribute band, showing support for anything Stooge by fondling Frank's shoe. David is also in longtime L.A. favorites the Insect Surfers.
PHOTO OPS from Monty Bar
 ↑Evita Corby, rock and roll couturier/animal rescuer backstage
with James Williamson, two very longtime friends. 

That's Evita whom you see on the back cover of the original Kill City album by Iggy Pop and James Williamson, recorded circa 1975 but awaiting release until 1977. Kill City now has been remastered, remixed and restored by James himself correcting the duo's original poverty regarding its recording. One of the best re-do's you'll ever hear, with lots of photographer Suzan Carson's outtakes for the album included.

You need the Merch!
 James Williamson and the Pink Hearts- Behind The Shade available at LINK* and all retail and streaming outlets. Try their Facebook pages as well as straightjameswilliamson.com

 You can get Medicine Bird's EP at LINK**

Full frontal disclosure:
--Yes, I did the art direction for James Williamson and the Pink Hearts Behind The Shade with Joel Pelletier and drew the logos for the Pink Hearts and Leopard Lady Records. Also co-art-directed everything you see in the above photo...
--Yes, reflecting nothing on the superbness of these bands, this has not been published in a timely manner.  'Happens...

Now... get ready for some videos of these rare sets filmed by Alison Ayala, both new material and some classic favorites!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...