Saturday, December 6, 2008

Zombie vs. Shark

Zombie vs. Shark played their first club gig in Norman last week at the Red Room, with The Ethereals and The Electric Primadonnas. It was a good show and the crowd was cool. We were allowed to play very loud, which made the music sound better. It was quite cool. Photo by J.J.
Here's a link to some live video of the gig, ttp://

Zombie vs. Shark

Zombie vs. Shark

Robert Scafe and Jeremy Gragg. All photos by Tabby

Matt Bokovoy.

Ron Haas.
Jeremy Gragg.

Matt Bokovoy.

Robert Scafe.

Jeremy Gragg.

Ron Haas.

The show went well and it was awesome to see about 60 or more people there on a Thursday night. Even better, it was cool to be involved in a collective endeavor, both the band and the show, and have people get into it. There's more photos on our myspace page, so dig it!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ponca City, Best Session Ever

Boneless to Tail, Ponca City Ditch, March 2005. Tabby and me visited Bradley Hayes and his parents when we returned to Oklahoma. We were looking for a house in Norman, and traveled up to see everyone in P.C. This is the best place to skate, to me, in all of Oklahoma. It's silly fun to skate there, it's always warm, and never crowded. The ditch sits at the north edge of town with wide open fields all the way to the Kansas border. It was a perfect day when we were there and it was spring surreal.

Bertleman Slide, Ponca City Ditch.
Me, Tabby, and Brad Hayes of Sharkbait Magazine/Sharklahoma.
Bertleman, Ponca City Ditch.

Ponca City Skate Ditch, Me, Tabby, Donna Hayes, and Cousin Jared.

Spencer, April 2008, after I returned from the Historians Against War Conference. My friend Charles from The Nation said the family needed to be outfitted properly! I came home with three shirts.

Spencer in his new chair.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dance of Days

Fugazi, Gilman St., Berkeley, 1988

Gilman Street stood as Maximum Rock and Roll's club, commited to providing a venue for underground music, outside of the repression of the law.

Crash Worship, Gilman St., Berkeley, 1988. Crash Worship was a tripping band from San Diego, who played a very loud, hypnotic space rock tinged with late 60s L.A. psychedelia. They were the loudest band I've ever heard, until I saw My Bloody Valentine in San Francisco in 1991.

Fidelity Jones, Gilman St., 1989. These guys were a Dischord Records band, two of whom, shown here, were in the great punk/go-go music band Beefeater. This is Tomas Squip and Doug Birdzell. Squip reminded me of a cross between John Sinclair and Allen Ginsberg, but without all the drugs or alcohol.

Tomas Squip, Gilman St., 1989.

This is the DC band Fire Party, another Dischord Records band at Gilman St., 1989.

Fire Party, Gilman St., 1989.

Amy Pickering of Fire Party, Gilman St., 1989. When kids and others wrote to Dischord Records, it was usually Pickering or Cynthia Connelly who wrote the note with your records. I used to wait and wait and wait for the mail in high school, hoping my $5 postpaid Dischord release would arrive. Not only is underground music good, it usually costs less as well (since there's usually no stockholders to pay-off with the creativity of bands).

Fire Party, Gilman St., 1989.

The band you see here is Drive Like Jehu, in 1993 one of San Diego's legendary noise-punk bands. They remind me of Sonic Youth or Rites of Spring filtered through the remix of the Stooges' Raw Power (or James Williamson's guitar playing). This is Rick Froberg and John Reese, who was also in Rocket from the Crypt. As well, this is the "old" Casbah rock club, owned by Tim Maze.

Rick Froberg, Drive Like Jehu, Casbah, 1993. It was sad when they broke up, and happily The Dragons (also R.I.P.) emerged to fill the big Marshall stack sound so popular in San Diego. I think that Reese and Froberg are now in the Hot Snakes. San Diego has always been a big guitar-loving town, without pretentious art-rock types (usually Ivy League university grads), so leave your earplugs at home! Who can't forget bailing from your parents house on Christmas Eve, and going to the Casbah to hear The Dragons play three sets, as the Stooges, the Stones, and as the MC5?

Drive Like Jehu, Casbah, 1993.

Drive Like Jehu, Casbah, 1993. John Reese serenading the crowd with Celestion lullabies.

Drive Like Jehu, Casbah, 1993.

Drive Like Jehu, Casbah, 1993.

Drive Like Jehu, Casbah, 1993.

Drive Like Jehu, Casbah, 1993.

These photographs show my old band, Dona Sonora, playing with Willie Nelson at Doc Watson's in Philadelphia, which was booked by Cyndi, a regular at Doobie's Bar. Luckily, Al Hewitt of The Low Road had his camera and documented Nelson's jam with us. The photos look cool, but the jam sounded terrible, since Willie, Tex Cobb, and entourage poured in after Fight Night in Philly, completely inebriated and stoned. Since we tuned to E flat, Willie had a hard time singing and playing, obviously accustomed to E natural. Nonetheless, it was very cool and he watched us play for about 40 minutes until asking if he could jam with us.
The irony was that almost none of us, except Dave Lorenz, our bass player, knew any of Willie's tunes. It was also funny that he showed up during our set, since we played with two country rock bands that night, the opener Marah and the headliner, The Rolling Hayseeds. He would have been better off with either of them.

Jen Streeper and Willie, outlaw-style, at Doc Watson's, Philadelphia, 1996.

Dona Sonora with Willie, Doc Watson's, 1996.
Dona Sonora with Willie, Doc Watson's, 1996. Willie played my white Gibson SG. I'm off to the right of the stage. I bought the white SG because Brian Baker, of Dag Nasty, played one.

Dona Sonora, Upstairs at Nick's, Philadelphia, 1997. Upstairs at Nick's was the best sounding rock venue in Philly, booked by Rick D., who used to run the Firenze back in the day (which had terrible sound). With a good sound system and damp room, there were many good shows. I once saw Zen Guerilla play there, and it sounded like a recording studio.

Rich Alfonse, Dona Sonora drummer, at Nick's, 1997. Rich was a great drummer and Marxist rancantour. He was the top sociology student at Temple the year he graduated. Rich hated my complex song structures, and used to curse me out all the time when we arranged music. Now that I'm 39, I don't like complex song structures anymore, so he'd be happy, if he's not into fusion jazz by now!

Dave Lorenz, Dona Sonora bass player, Nick's, 1997. Dave, Rich, and me met through an ad in the City Paper, and we've been good friends ever since. I figured that when they wanted a guitar player who liked "Fugazi, Black Sabbath, and the Pixies," I knew something interesting would happen, even if it was confused. Dave played through this enormous bass stack, a Sun 8x10 cabinet, with a 200 watt Trace Elliot head. He should have been in Motorhead instead. You should check out Dave's new band, El Dorado, on myspace.

Me playing guitar, Nick's, 1997. Dona Sonora wasn't really well-liked in the pretentious art-rock scene of Philly, since we always played really loud. Only the older punk scenesters like Jack Gory and others liked to see us, since they grew up on the raw power. The only louder bands in Philly were Zen Guerilla and The Photon Band. It was hard coming from San Diego, with its loud guitar scene, to Philadelphia's Ivy Leaguer, Pixies-wannabe scene. So when Dave bought the Sun cabinet, I decided to add a 1969 Vox AC30 to my 100 watt Marshall half stack. It was the same setup as Adam Franklin and Jim Hartsridge from Swervedriver.

Me and Jen Streeper, Nick's, 1997.

Dona Sonora, Nick's, 1997.

This is a photograph of Al Hewitt and Erin Elstner, playing our instruments at RPM studios. The first formation of Paul Dellavigne's The Sinners was practicing. After the photo, Al fell on my SG and cracked the neck. He's still my friend (since I cracked it three times before that).

Dave, Rich, and me at RPM, 1999. Paul must have snapped the photo. Paul's band started when Dona Sonora had broken up and Paul's band The Hot Buttered Elves was on hiatus. Since both me and Paul's girlfriends left us at around the same time, we used to commisserate together at Doobie's and talk about music. So I went to go see him play solo one night when I was under the heavy influence of Mark Lanegan's Whiskey for the Holy Ghost and Mike Johnson's I Feel Alright. Hearing Paul play reminded me of those sad, somber singers, so I asked him if he wanted a backup band. I talked to Dave and Rich, and The Sinners were formed. We actually got along better as bandmates playing with Paul, since they were all his tunes! Now Rich could pick on Paul's arrangements.

The Sinners, Fergie's Pub, Philadelphia, 1999. This was the last show I played with The Sinners. I moved to Nebraska and Paul left for Seattle soon thereafter. We sounded pretty rad, and the band reformed a year later when Paul came back to Philly.

The Sinners, Fergie's Pub, 1999.

This post of photographs of independent label bands probably won't register with many of you under 30 or over 45, unless you follow the punk and hardcore music underground, or ran in parallel art or social activist circles. Although some punk/independent label bands occupy a sliver of the public memory of the corporate music industry, most do not. Their innovative music exists in the punk/underground collective memory, or the individual memories of people who went to shows or took photographs and collected them in their photograph albums. I have alot of punk show flyers from 1980 to 1987 for San Diego, half of which never fully happened because the police shut them down. To the unknowing, it would seem as if there were alot of shows.

All of this creative activity of youth emerged as a reaction to the youth culture of the 1960s, especially music and art, which found exposure in the mass media, and as Thom Frank showed so well in The Conquest of Cool, in youth marketing and consumerism. Gil Scott Heron was correct that "the revolution will not be televised," and so it was. The youth cohort of the late 1970s and 1980s rejected that, hoping to create a "parallel culture" to the mass media and niche- marketed hedonism of glam rock, disco, and new wave. They hoped for an autonomous sphere of culture, which evolved into a social world and also found a mostly far left politics. Even though many books and film documentaries of the American Underground have been released recently, it's still the largest, undocumented youth rebellion yet awaiting a history.
To not be nostalgic, today young people in the underground have more independent music labels and more venues to play at than my own days. Police almost never close down punk shows anymore (perhaps because the Age of Reagan is over, and punks aren't "communist cells" anymore). That is, underground music is stronger and better supported than ever, and it still has not been co-opted by the corporate music industry, even if some "punk" bands have been given limited exposure on major labels.
So be adventurous, donate your Britney Spears or Kenny Chesney or Usher album to the local Salvation Army and get out to support your local youth in their creative idealism!!