Sunday, July 31, 2011

Book Review: Talk–Action=0: An Illustrated History of D.O.A., by Joe Keithley

Text © Robert Barry Francos / FFanzeen, 2011
Book cover image and videos from the Internet




Talk–Action=0: An Illustrated History of D.O.A.
By Joe Keithley
Arsenal Pulp Press (Vancouver), 2011
304 pages; USD/CND $27.95
ISBN: 978-1-55152-396-5
arsenalpulp.com
suddendeath.com


This is not only a follow-up to Joe Keithley’s excellent life on the road with a punk band memoir, I, Shithead: A Life in Punk, it’s also a companion.

D.O.A., who formed in 1978 and are still touring, are arguably the punk / hardcore band from the west side of Canada, and possibly everywhere to the Maritimes, as well (has Steven Leckie’s head exploded yet?). Their political polemics are sharply left; the lead singer and writer of this book, commonly known as Joey Shithead, ran unsuccessfully for political office in Vancouver more than once on the Green Party ticket.

Some of the text here overlaps a bit with the earlier autobio, which is as essential as Henry Rollins’ Get In the Van, but by Great Zombie Jesus, the illustrations in this new book are astounding. It is full of the minutia of a band’s career, such as flyers, ticket stubs, photos (candid, on stage and posed), lyrics, song lists, posters, artwork, and their records covers (single picture sleeves, albums, CDs, and compilations, usually both front and back). The condition of some of the earlier images are faded, stained, ripped, and have tape residue, but how can that be a surprise as they were in boxes, stored for up to three decades? Actually, the reproductions in the book are quite crisp; it’s the condition of the originals that vary.

Along with the many, many, many great images are notations about D.O.A.’s origins, what happened at a particular gig an illustration represents, or other anecdotes, such as being about some of the people involved. Joe does not pussyfoot in any way about his bandmates, friends, people attending his shows, or especially himself. For example, he talks about a confrontation with skinheads at one show, a promoter who tried to stiff them, a run-in with the Clash, or how the band spent the last of their money in New York City on booze, four days before a show at the Yippee warehouse across the street and just a few doors down Bleecker from CBGB (I saw one show there, and swore never to go back; it was wall to wall stacked full and high with bundles of new and old issues of the Yippster Times, making it a scary firetrap, and those were the days when smoking was permitted at shows; I was so nervous, I actually don’t even remember which bands I saw there).

Joe is such an interesting character who knows solidly where his heart lies, no matter how much beer he drinks, how many miles he travels, or who he shares the stage with (counting other bands and his own). Without any mention (except once in passing) of his family life back in Vancouver, he still tells lots of stories. This isn’t a deep, philosophical book in its telling (the reprinted lyrics are something other), but it is a constant joyride for the reader, as Joe shares his experiences in Europe, Asia (including China), Central and South America, and especially North America. It’s fun to hear him talk about working with Jon Mikl Thor, Black Flag, the Circle Jerks, and a plethora of other bands. I must say, there were a bunch of flyers that made me wish I was present, such as one shared bill with Black Flag, Adolescents, and the Minutemen in Santa Monica in 1981.

[As a random side note, I love that their white tour van was named Reid Fleming, after the indie comix about the angry milkman (no, I did not need to look that up, I still have a few issues).]

One interesting aspect is how the flyers start off usually cut and pasted, and slowly but surely they look more professionally printed, as the technology changes over time. While there is some repetition in artwork, it never seems to be exactly the same, and always remains interesting, especially the European and Asian ones.

Joe writes a compelling song lyric which looks simple in a punk mode, but actually is rather sharp, especially if taken as a group. Reading quite a number of them included here shows that there is wisdom within the anger. Now, as for the prose of his stories, well, his grammar ain’t the greatest (typically on the level of “your” rather than “you’re,” and double negatives and the like occasionally show up), but it’s the content rather than the form for the words, and the content and form of the images, and their (just kidding) all strong. And I find it admirable that Arsenal Press, who publishes many academic books, didn’t feel the need to edit the book to death, leaving it in Joe’s voice.

I also be partial to the fact that this isn’t just Joe’s work, even though it mostly is; for example, he reprints part of his roadie’s European travel diary at one point, or some articles written about him / them in local magazines and fanzines.

The form of the book is simple: certain dates are given for a chapter (e.g., 1977-1979, 1981-1984), and there is an overview of the period, followed by the images and the relatively more detailed chronological text. Also included are a very complex D.O.A. family tree and a discography.

While I realize the point is more that this is an “illustrated history” than a band account, I would have liked just a bit more detail here and there (“It was time for so-and-so to go…” Why?). Yes, I know if he did that this would be a lot larger than the oversized (physical, not content) book it is. In other words, as good as it is, it left me wanting more, in a positive way. Yes, there is I, Shithead to give some more facts up to 2004, but this book ends with the closure of 2010. Guess I’ll just have to wait around to read more when the next book comes out, and if it’s as good as this, I’ll be happy to do so then.

Meanwhile, D.O.A. is planning a major cross-Canada tour, once again, for the fall of 2011. While I missed them play Amigos in Saskatoon earlier this year, I’m hoping to see them this time around. Now, about the guest list, Joey…

Bonus videos:


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Club Flyers and Invites from 1970s and 1980s: Part 2

Text (c) Robert Barry Francos, 2011
Images are owned by the artists
Also, images can be enlarged by clicking on them.


As stated in an earlier blog, throughout the years I have collected flyers, especially from the 1970s and '80s. Many were sent to me directly by the bands while I was publishing FFanzeen . Below are some scans I made from my personal collection, in no particular order. I did see may of them, but not all, and I will comment on them from time to time. Note that I do not financially profit off of publishing them, but only do so to honor the work that was involved, and for archival purposes.

The Rattlers were a fun band. They first time I saw them was with Lester Bangs fronting them as Birdland (My Father's Place, opening for the Ramones). When Bang separated and the new trio retitled themselves, it was a 100% improvement, and Mickey and David produced some great sounds. By the time the photo for the show below was taken, David had left to form a weird synth band (Ships, I believe it was called), and the Rattlers became a foursome. I had only seen them as a trio, but I bet their sound was solid.

I've seen the Dolls in both incarnations ('70s; '00s), but other than his regular stints on Saturday Night Live, I had not had the pleasure to witness David Johanson's Buster Poindexter incarnation (nor his Harry Winston). After the disco-y "Have You Heard the News," I found this refreshing. Sacrilege?



Along with being one of the first to ever interview the Fleshtones, I've been a fan since the first time I saw them. It was rare that a recording of them, which are all great in their own right, could hold a candle to them live, though. They were kinetic in a way that was catching. If you get the chance, read Joe Bonomo's history of the band, SWEAT, by all means do so.

Brenda Bergman was a gutsy, blusey singer in the 1980s who often appeared with another favorite of mine, Get Wet. Just down the block from the imposing Limelight, s.n.a.f.u. was a ideal place to see these bands play. I probably saw BB about a half dozen times back then.

Mr. Homosapien left the Buzzcocks and made a name for himself as a solo, though perhaps not that much, as the Buzzcocks reformed after a few year-split. I found his material from this period a bit too electronic for my tastes.

I remember powerpop band the Poppees playing a bill with the Marbles at a Rock Ages convention, among other great gigs such as this one. Back in the '70s, not only was New York the origin of punk (yes, NYC was), but there was also a huge powerpop scene that was just as cutting edge, but ended up not making it into the 1980s to make a dent, having been drowned out by New Wave disco-laden groups like Blondie.

From LA, this was part of one of their first tours.

New York's only all-Chinese hardcore band, they made a bit of a notch for themselves locally and put out a bunch of singles. I never saw them play, but had met them a number of times at other gigs, and they came across as nice guys.

While I didn't necessarily agree with her politics, as a person there was no one like Helen Wheels (RIP). She was a tough, muscular, diminutive woman who liked to play with knifes onstage, hung out with bikers, and lived her life at the moment. And yet, she was one of the cheeriest, sweetest people I knew. When I interviewed her before she opened for Iggy Pop at the Brooklyn Zoo, I was nervous, but quickly fell under her charm. While never a metalhead, I went out of my way to see her band play (once at a performance at FIT, where they freaked out that she tossed a switchblade into the stage, one of her bits).

I was lucky to have seen Salem 66 a number of times, in their home town of Boston (Harvard), New Jersey (Maxwell's), and various places around New York. They were quirky in a way that seemed to have been a trend in Beantown (Pixies, Christmas, etc.), much as No Wave as mostly in New York. They were a fun band to both hear and watch.

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Life with the Police, the Feds, and Jail

Text (c) Robert Barry Francos, 2011
Images from the Internet




Since moving to Saskatoon in 2009, I have been asked for security checks in order to live and work here. So briefly, here are my experiences with the law through my life.

When I was in grade school, I used to love going on field trips, not only to get out of class, but to explore the world. Even then I was curious. Some of the memorable ones include a 6th grade trip to the then-relatively-new Lincoln Center. My teacher, Mrs. Lowenberger, was an major opera fan and supporter and knew the community at large in that field. She managed a backstage tour of the opera house. In an earlier grade, we went to the Pepsi Bottling Plant (20th Street, Brooklyn; right off the East River) to see how the soda is made (in today’s fit-conscious society, I wonder if that would happen now, and I’m not sure if that is good or bad). We were given 7 oz bottles right off the machine that fills them, and we scarfed them down. They were very warm, and mine came right up again.

Even before then, the class was taken to Bauer’s Bakery (RIP), on 18th Avenue and 82 Street, in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, which made rolls, bagels and bialys for the local grocery stores (including my local one, then run by Holocaust survivors; it was the first time I saw the number tattoos). We were given fresh rolls literally right out of the oven. Tasty, but we all burned our little fingers. The bakers thought this was very funny, and apparently this was a common practice for them on class visitations. In retrospect, this is not surprising as my scout master, a major bully and sadist, was a bagel baker.

However, one of my most memorable trips was to the 62 Precinct House (Bath Avenue, a block off 19 Avenue), our local cop shop. This was exciting, getting to see a real police station. One of the things we learned right off was that it was not called the “sixty-second,” it was the “six-two.” We met the desk sergeant, the station chief, and then they took us up to see the holding cells (what we kids really were hoping for) which were empty at that time, and often were in the early ‘60s. Back then, it was a mostly Jewish-Italian working class neighborhood, where everyone watched out for each other, and the local mafia kept things running smoothly (this is not an endorsement, just the truth) and pretty much crime-free (other than the occasional body in a truck kind of thing).

We were invited to look at the stark cells, which I was the first to do, being the shortest boy, and then one of the kids in the class slammed the heavy metal barred door behind me. It locked immediately on its own, and I was trapped in the cell. The officers who were showing us around thought this situation tremendously amusing, and were feigning that they could not find the keys. Needless to say, I stated bawling. No, I didn’t think I had done anything wrong or would be stuck forever, but I was thinking in my 7 year old brain that if my parents had to come to pick me up in jail, they would think I had done something terrible. After what felt like a very long time, though it was probably no more than 10 minutes, they let me out. I don’t remember much else of the visit. So if people ask me if I was ever locked in jail, I can honestly say the affirmative. A pure example of something being “true but not accurate.” It made me skeptical, even to today, of news reports that claim they are “objective” (I’m talking especially to you, Fox News and Sun News).

After graduating from high school, I worked for eight months at a major corporation at 99 Church Street (a couple of blocks north from the WTC). It was my first real job, in their mailroom. I knew it was just for a few months, until I started college, but gave it the detail it deserved (as I always do in a job). The last month I was there (before they knew it was), the management gave me another duty: I was to carry funds from the company to the corporate bank, about a half mile away in the Wall Street district. Taking a lie detector test and signing some papers, I was officially bonded to do so. The first day out, while I was waiting for the okay, I counted what I was about to carry. In cash and cashable bonds, it was $1.3 million. That is not a misprint, and that’s in early 1970s dollars, remember. So, there I was, all 110 lbs of me, carrying just about that much cash (give or take a few hundred thou) every day, rain or shine, to the bank just before 3 PM. Did I think about taking it and running? Yeah, but not realistically. It was totally “If I had this, I would buy…” kind of fantasy, but the thought of actually doing it? No, not at all. However, what concerned me the most was that I would get robbed, and then the company would think that I was in on it. I was terrified each one of those walks, and for $90 a week gross (a good pay then for my level), the anxiety was not worth it. Luckily it was soon September, and I resigned to go back to school. However, I was happy to have been bonded.

Much later, a few years after Y2K, I started working for a media promotion and production company. A newbie on the job, I was still in the process of getting up to speed, when I heard a quandary that was going through the office. Apparently, they were going to promote the yet-unreleased new $10 bill, and had to find a way to get the image to their office in Washington, DC. It was way too sensitive to trust to either the express mail service (not always reliable) or messenger (strangers). Without a second thought, I proposed, “Well, I have a car; why don’t I just drive it there?” This impressed my supervisors (though it didn’t really seem that big a deal to me, just the right thing to do). For the next week or so, I had to fill out forms and get an identity check with the FBI to be cleared to make the trip. Of course, I passed. Really, I did not think my being locked in a jail cell for 10 minutes at 8 years old would come to much with the FBI. Hell, I didn’t even bring it up.

I drove my car into work that day in midtown, and parked it in a pay garage. Around noon, I was given a company cell phone and the package, and set out on my way. If I remember correctly, someone from the office came with me to pick up the car, just in case. And I was off, with my Google Maps printout and a full tank of gas to make the 5 hour or so trip to DC. The only time I stopped along the way was to answer the cell (luckily, it rang just as I was about to pass a rest stop along the NJ Turnpike so I could pull in), to answer the question “Where are you now?”

Rush hour traffic in DC was horrendous, and I had a 5:30 deadline to get to Avenue K. The directions on the printout were pretty vague and worthless because it didn’t take into account all the construction, so I got lost pretty fast. I managed to arrive at where I was supposed to be at 5:45. Parking illegally outside the building, I phone up to the office and told my contact I was downstairs. He came down 10 minutes later (so much for the deadline), and happily took the package (I asked to see some ID first, even though he knew my name, which he found amusing; last thing I needed was heat from the federal level of enforcement). Then I headed north (no, I did not stop at the 9:30 Club, though I was tempted), arriving home at 11 PM.

For my service, along with getting some nice intra-company cred, was money per mile (in both directions), overtime until I arrived home, and reimbursement for both gas and parking. And I got to listen to my tunes all the way. It was a nice way to spend a day at work.

When I moved to Canada in 2009, I had to go through a fingerprint search. Paying a fee, the Saskatoon police inked my fingers onto a form, signed it, and I sent it off to Virginia to the FBI. I wasn’t worry about it. I’d been bonded twice, once by the FBI, and had never been arrested. A few months (!?!) later, I get a letter from the FBI stating that my prints were unreadable (apparently, the older you get, the more your prints fade), and had to be redone. They suggested I put Vaseline on my fingers the night before, and wear gloves to bed, to plump them up, and have them redone; all payment for reprints was on me. Thanks…

I showed up at the police station again, and showed them the letter. They were both amused and annoyed at it, but they took them again (after I removed the gloves, of course) and they didn’t charge me for the second time (thank you!). Again, a few months later, I received the official notice that I was free and clear. I sent the info into Canadian Customs and Immigration, and now I’m waiting to hear back from them.

I did get my permission to work, though (a work permit), and have been looking for a job. A job had been offered conditionally, and all I would need was a police check (for which they would pay). Hey, no problem, I had been cleared by the FBI just a few months earlier!

My local police search came out clear, and then I was told by the police that I needed to have my fingerprints taken, even though I had done it for the FBI recently. Apparently, this time the prints were clear and defined. Great! “We’ll have the results back from Ottawa in 2 to 6 months,” they informed me. Whaaaaaaat?

I went back to the office and told them what they said about how long the prints would take to process, and they rescinded the job offer because they could not wait that long to fill the position. I’ve keep my record clean and still I’m waiting. To be honest, I don’t blame the company because I’m an unknown who has lived here for merely two years. As for the prints, as someone said to me, “Doesn’t the government have digital? They should have the results within the week.”

Who knows? Perhaps I should have had the police check done earlier on my own, but I didn’t even think of it after the FBI clearance. But once I finally get it, I won’t have to worry about it again. And I’ll keep searching for work.

Am I sorry for keeping my nose (and record) clean, considering this problem was no fault of my own? No, keeping on the good side of the law was the right thing to do, and I would do it again. Just wish I had that job, as it was something I really wanted.

But, as I tell a loved one often, “Life goes on…”

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Club Flyers and Invites from 1970s and 1980s: Part 1

Text (c) Robert Barry Francos, 2011
Images are owned by the artists
Also, images can be enlarged by clicking on them.


Throughout the years, I have collected flyers, especially from the 1970s and '80s. Many were sent to me directly by the bands while I was publishing FFanzeen (some here actually have letters on the back from the musicinas). Below are some scans I made from my personal collection, in no particular order. I did see may of them, but not all, and I will comment on them from time to time. Note that I do not financially profit off of publishing them, but only do so to honor the work that was involved, and for archival purposes.

1. The Love Delegation was made up from, in part, members of the Fleshtones. While I saw the 'Tones play a number of times, and in fact I was one of the first to ever interview them, I did not get the chance to see any of their offshoot bands. The Love Delegation album is quite good, as well.

2. I sold my tickets to the Clash at Bond's to see the Rockats play the Ritz, the night they recorded their live album; however, I did not see this show. Of the purist rockabilly revival groups on the New York scene during the 1980s, they were among the best; the Stray Cats, who for some reason managed to get more attention, were by far not as lively a band.

3. The Insect Surfers were a fun surf-style band in the '80s, hailing from Washington, DC. Their manager was Bill Ash, who got me in to see them play Hurrah's. As for the Underground, on the corner of Broadway and 17th Street in NYC (I believe it's a sports clothing store now), the only show I ever remember seeing there was metal-god Thor, and was not my favorite place.


4. The Fast were one of my favorite groups to see live, especially during their earlier powerpop days. I interviewed them in the back of van on a highway by-road in Brooklyn with my then managing editor. After they went in a more metal direction, Miki tried a few side projects, including an all-Gene Pitney show, and the Miki Zone Zoo. Unfortunately, I never did get the chance to see this amazing and underrated guitarist's sidework. RIP, Miki.

5. The Left Bank was a bit out of the way for someone from south Brooklyn like me, being way up in Westchester (people from there generally hate it when you refer to it as "upstate," as it's just north of the Bronx), but I managed to make it to a number of shows there, including Ronnie Spector and the Ventures. However, it was this Dictators show that I remember best. They were in top form, and that night they recorded their Fuck 'Em If They Can't Take a Joke live (originally) cassette only ROIR album.

6. Great, amazing show, and one of the first I ever photographed (with an Instamatic and flashcubes, developed into slides). It truly was an extravaganza, and all gave 150 percent.

7. I headed down to the Stiff party, on lonely and dingy Crosby Street in Manhattan. I had heard, and apparently correctly, the "U.K. artiste" was Lene Lovich (who is American). The room was dark-dark-dark (and I didn't have a flash, but still managed to get some photos), and Lene sang with us as a group standing around her, since there was no stage. In the audience was also Nina Hagen, who jumped in for a song with Lene, who apparently is a pal. Below is the invitation to the party, both outside and inside.

8. Never saw Justin Trouble, I believe, but I do have the "Johnny Thunders produced" record. It rocks, remaining a fixture of its time.

9. I've seen Elda play a couple of times, and she was a blast. Lots of power, lots of energy.

10. The last ad for Max's Kansas City. I was at Heartbreakers one (my companion, Nancy, interviewed Walter in the "Andy Warhol Room" that night for FFanzeen), as well as the Rattlers / Ronnie and the Jitters gig - yes, the final show at that historic and keystone club. It is greatly missed, but at least I know I can get some groceries from the Asian deli now in the spot.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Magic of WALL OF VOODOO

Text by Cary Baker, 1983
Epilogue by Robert Barry Francos, 2011
© FFanzeen
Images from the Internet




“L.A. is the land of borrowed culture,” says Stanard Ridgway, motormouth frontman in Wall of Voodoo, and a rare specimen of native Angelino. “I mean, you’re likely to see a Spanish roof atop Greek columns with a Turkish fountain in the yard and an Irishman living inside.”

Sorry to disillusion anyone who thought La-La Land was the Mesopotamia of the Western World. But its culture – Philly-cheesesteak-taco-dog mongrel that it is – is anything but un-American. And the call of the West still, after more than a century, lures millions away from real steak ’n’ potato cities. Like Chicago.

It’s this sorry pattern that inspired Ridgway to conceive Wall of Voodoo’s Call of the West LP, from which comes the left-field radio MTV hit, “Mexican Radio.” The single spread like a brushfire on Laurel Canyon and penetrated the uncontrolled migrancy, even if ancient Mayan tribesmen could have built a bridge across the Rio Grande in half the time. Released in September of last year, the record simply refuses to roll over and play dead. Stan is particularly bemused that a record with references to barbecued iguana in Tijuana penetrated the very same airwaves that wouldn’t really wanna hurt you.

“We must have been at the right place at the right time,” he reasons, “because while I’m anything but a radio pundit, I do sound like a guy singing in the shower. And the song starts with that ‘ree-dee-dee-dee-dee.’ I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard anything similar to it on the radio.”

Inspiration for this decidedly non-Salsa, non-Mariachi slice of techno-Dali struck as Woodoo (as their windy-jawed publicist calls them in a syllable-saving measure), would pile into what may as well have been a ’64 Fairlane and drive to rehearsal.

“We’d always tune to the Mexican AM stations,” he says. “It struck me as funny that all these people scour the dial in search of ‘real’ music, and there it is on the ethnic stations, bouncing off of mountains.”

KROQ-FM (not to be confused with its, ahem, Hispanic AM counterpart) gave “Mexican Radio” a running start, and album-rock radio across the nation carried the ball.

“It gave people the chance to leave the country without leaving their car,” he laughs.

But strong club and MTV video play took the record over the threshold. Again, Stan’s reaction is amusement; the kind of amusement that scratches its head all the way to the bank.

“Me, I never watch MTV,” he chides. “It’s visual pollution. And the funny thing is that we’ve only made two videos so far. However, I’ve always had visual things in mind when I write music. There was a time I would have settled for being a studio musician and playing third chair on the Baretta soundtrack. But I was always frustrated with the lack of imagery in some popular music, which always seemed to be about getting a girl or buying a new pair of shoes.”

His interest in musical / visual marriages preceded the formation of the band. It was 1977 and L.A. was punk-crazy. And Stan was mixed, at best, in his advocacy of the movement.

“It was liberating in one sense and confusing in another. In terms of aggressiveness and acting as a cleansing enema for the music industry, fine,” he says, “but I found it to be three chords, a cloud of dust and a hearty ‘Hi-O Silver’.”

So he and guitarist Marc Moreland formed a film music firm called Acme Soundtracks. They opened an office on Hollywood Blvd., across from the Masque punk emporium, “and began growing our own mold.” Soon, the name of the company was changed to Wall of Voodoo.

“It started as a joke,” he recalls, “but I was serious. Everyone else was sitting around eating pancake mix, but they were still behind me. We had all the accoutrements of a business – a file, rolodex, desk light – but no one called. Born to lose, once again, out there on a long, lonely sandbar.”

They eventually did find work – the films they scored fell somewhere in the long continuum between sticky-quartered peepshows and Emmanuelle. One, entitled Night Dreams, featured a convoluted version of “Ring of Fire,” at the client’s request. The band Wall of Voodoo presently opens their show with this version. But don’t forget – this is a company, not a band. A little like PiL…

Until Wall of Voodoo Soundtracks became a band, that is.

“My only hesitancy was that I didn’t want to be the exciting vocalist with the 10-foot mike cord like Iggy Squiggy,” Stan says. “I thought we could always find someone better than me. They demoed “Ring of Fire” (which served much the same purpose as Devo’s “Satisfaction”), opened for the Cramps at the Whiskey, and IRS Records A&R man John Guinereri was singularly impressed. The following morning Woodoo’s manager found the following message on his answering machine: Hello, this is [IRS chief] Miles Copeland and I want to sign the Wall of Voodoo.” “Great,” Stan recalls of the band’s reaction: “Let’s take this guy for a ride!”

When they found out Copeland was for real, Woodoo couldn’t blow the ink dry fast enough. But all was not well. The band embarked on an extended phase of identity crisis. They knew what they were, but no one else seemed to.

“There was confusion with the Cramps because of the Voodoo thing, people coming to our gigs with bones around their necks,” he says. “But worse, they wanted us to be colder, like robot men. And this was pre-Styx, too, I’ll have you know!”

What Woodoo has actually come to represent is a quartet of heady L.A. kids who turn out high-Gothic, other-worldly imagery in a eurythmic mélange of horror, humor and more than a little mood for modernist. One guesses they’d give it all up in a minute to usurp Brian DePalma in the director’s chair.

“My childhood was dull, see,” says this Pasadena survivor, “a velvet ghetto environment – lawns, picket fences. I used to make monster models and hang them from the kitchen wall or set them aflame. My dad used to have Marty Robbins’ album, Trail Songs & Gun Fighter Ballads, on which every song was a moralistic good-guy / bad-guy story. And I love Ethel Merman – she’s first on my list of singing influences. So you could say I’ve been influenced by everything I ever got involved with for more than an hour.

“The trouble is, all my influences are either dead or not feeling very well.”

The Woodoo mandate was to do something that “wasn’t destined to go down as so much milk on a spoon. We’re thrilled that so many people don’t like us.”

Is this to infer that their self-imposed bohemianism would cause them to shun the spoils of, say, a Culture Club?

“Each of us has realized individually, at least one night every week, that we have to pay our rent and buy new socks,” he responds. “But in terms of commerciality, we’d rather break old musical behavioral patterns. Some people need five or six friends to tell them something’s okay and then embrace it.

“It is conceivable,” Stan adds, Billboard bullets momentarily eclipsing the whites of his eyes, “that if we could bamboozle the public with a song that sounded like Culture Club, maybe the public would buy an album that also contains all kinds of poisonous material. That would really be fun, wouldn’t it be?”

One more question: What became of Woodoo’s road manager – a Chicago celeb named Wazmo Nariz? And why isn’t he on the road this time out?

“When he joined us,” Stan says of the former IRS and Stiff recording artist, “it enabled him to get free and clear of some thoughts. Now he’s back in L.A., working on a comedy album, an opera, and an album of his own material. The opera’s a whole cast of characters in two ties, only styled after Wagner. He’s also grown and shaved a beard four times since Chicago saw him last.”

Wazmo was yet another Northern Industrial expatriate who left the land of broad shoulders in quest of milk, honey and traffic jams, exactly the myth Woodoo loves to prey upon.

“Y’know, I used to work for Time/Life Books, selling them: ‘Hello, Mrs. Jones, do you have any plants in your home? If so…’ And those books are every bit as sophomoric as you remember them to be – their book on the Old West is like reading the back of a cereal box. There’s always some place to go if you didn’t enjoy where you were. L.A. is the last stop – everyone out!

“You can’t go much further – you’d end up in Japan, I guess.”

But the legend of the Old West, Woodoo-style, is now larger than life. Visions of starlets walking pink poodles to take Depression victims’ minds off the breadlines, and a playful alignment with Nathaniel West’s Day of the Locust, that L.A. is the continent’s largest hospice, is hot stuff now. “Mexican Radio” is playing in Peoria; Wall of Voodoo is confirmed for the U.S. Festival. Thinking back on four months of touring to support the record that’s taken that long to stick to the wall of pop ephemera, Stan has come to know himself inside and out, just by doing so many interviews.

“It’s caused me to do more self-analysis that I can ever use in this lifetime,” he ruminates, and reaches for another Miller’s.

Shortly after appearing at the US Festival, “Woodoo” broke up. After a solo career, Ridgway formed the trio Drywall in 1994, who would occasionally play together live and record. Meanwhile, Ridgway has scored a number of films, including Rumble Fish and Pump Up the Volume. As for Larry Grennan, also known as double-tie wearing Wazmo Nariz… – RBF 2011




Bonus videos:




Friday, July 15, 2011

RANK & FILE: Not a Common Band

Text by Gary Pig Gold, 1983
Brief intro by Robert Barry Francos, 2011
© FFanzeen
Images from the Internet

The closest I ever came to seeing Rank and File live was on a punk-related Rock Palace television program, sharing the bill with the likes of the Circle Jerks. They did two amazing songs, “Amanda Ruth” and “Hot Wind” (which I still have on VHS somewhere, and I that have attached below). My pal, Steve Adams, who colleged in Austin, used to go see the band during its heyday, and remains a fan.

According to Wikipedia, after the break-up of R&F, Chip and Tony Kinman started the drum-machine-based synthpop band Blackbird, and Alejandro Escovedo joined with his brother Javier to form True Believers, before going solo.

But recently Rank and File have reformed and toured, so who knows what’s next.

PS, I love Gary’s Canadiana take on this, including calling mac’’n’ cheese “Kraft Dinner,” and uncertainty about the Mason-Dixon line: north of it was mostly Slave free, south of it had slavery, starting on the north Virginia state line, and running east to west; it was “dismantled” after the Civil War, though I’m guessing Gary must know that all these years later, especially since he’s living in New Jersey). Note that despite my teasing, Gary is truly among my favorite rock writers, and has been since the days of his own fanzine, The Pig Paper (all issues of which can be found online here: zinewiki.com/Pig_Paper)… – RBF, 2011
.



“They sound like a cross between Buck Owens and the Ramones!”
”Watching Chip Kinman on stage is just like watching Gary Busey in The Buddy Holly Story.”
“I have a funny feeling I’m witnessing the birth of something amazing.”
Oh, my God!”

On Saturday, April 2, 1983, Rank and File brought heir unique interpretation of The American Sound to the ratty Radio City club, deep within the bowels of the bed-washbasin-and-surfboard suburb of L.A. known as Anaheim, California (right down the road from Disneyland!). Quoted verbatim above are but four of the many observations I solicited from the preppies, punkies, and poseurs of all persuasions who stood spellbound as Rank and File recreated – in fact, incarnated – their groundbreaking Sundown LP atop the creaky Radio City stage. By the end of their 45-minute set, as the audience’s bewilderment had graduated form half-hearted slam-dancing to sub-Hee Haw-style hoots ‘n’ hollers, I couldn’t help but imagine that this must’ve been just like it would have been to see Elvis, Scotty and Bill playing around the Memphis trucker bars and parking lots 30 years ago! Hell – maybe we are witnessing The Birth of Something Amazing.

”We had to do a lot of growing up in order to get where we are today…” – Chip Kinman: guitar, vocals, harmonica and Buddy Busey imitations.
”…and play what we are today.” – Tony Kinman: vocals and authentic Bonanza headwear.
”…and I’m just the drummer.” – Slim Evans: just drums.
”I agree.” – Alejandro Escovedo: guitar, vocals, and grinning Spanish teen appeal.

To make a sob story short, the Kinman brothers woke up one day near San Francisco during the Summer of Hate to find themselves, as one half of the infamous Dils, bonafide yet reluctant stars of the local blank generation. Much soul-searching ensued, which quickly lead to (as is vividly recounted on Sundown’s strongest cut, “I Went Walking”) the break-up of the Dils, a sabbatical to NYC’s St. Mark’s Place, a damnation of the their NeWave era in general, and ultimately, a pilgrimage to the Deep South to bask in the comparatively calming sounds and smells of the Great American Heartland. To this day, they call Austin, Texas “home.”

Suddenly, Chip and Tony had traded in their trendy Sears Silvertones for authentic Fender gear, unearthed in Slim Evans one of the finest skinmen this side of D.J. Fontana, sent for their old Bay Area sidekick Alejandro to round out the quartet, and faster than you can say Get Rhythm!, this renegade combo were tearing up every truckstop, lounge, and even punk palace south of the Mason-Dixon line. (Which reminds me: where in hell is the Mason-Dixon line anyways?) Like the good ol’ boys they now were, they lived on Lone Star Beer and Kraft Dinner ‘til they had enough saved up to buy a station wagon with which to return west to the Promised Land where, during the fall of ’82, they blew a much-needed breath of fresh prairie air into the spandex’d El Lay music scene.

Soon, our heroes found themselves back in ‘Frisco, laying down tracks for their first Slash Records album – an LP, which no less than Robert Hillburn, the West Coast’s very own Robert Christgau, proclaimed as “one of the strongest American debut records in a decade.” In fact, Mr. Hillburn found himself so totally enamored with Sundown that he had 10 copies send air express! to the Man in Black hisself, Johnny Cash, and then urged his VIP pals at Warner Bros. that they’d better pick up this platter, fast, if they knew what was good for ‘em. As a result, you can now find Rank and File proudly displayed in your local discery, right alongside the new Duran Duran… or George Jones… or Journey…

And herein we arrive at the primary dilemma which could very well prevent Rank and File from claiming their rightful place atop several of Billboard’s Hot Hit charts: just what is Rank and File? Country? Pop? New Wave? Mockabilly? Well, I for one chose (e) All of the Above, coz in Sundown, I can hear at any given moment the twang of a Link Wray, the hooks of a Goffin-King, the lyrical wit of a Nick Lowe, and the harmonies of the brothers Louvin and Everly. Yet the blend is far from nostalgic or regurgitent: the Kinman’s compositions sound somehow Fresh, New, Current, and Vital. Just like that other great American rock phenomenon, Creedence Clearwater Revival sounded a dozen years ago, remember?

But unlike the Hey!days of CCR, U.S. radio today just isn’t as ignorantly open to the fresh, new, current or vital – sure, “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” went Top Ten, but only by initial packaging it in a blank sleeve, if y’know what I mean. Consequently, I often find myself awakening at 3 a.m. in a cold sweat, fearful that Rank and File’s potential as Divine Saviors of U.S. Music (sorry folks – I’m on my soapbox again) might be irreversibly nixed in the bud. Jesus Christ! These guys could fuckin’ revolutionize what we now blindly accept as C&W; they could be the Sex Pistols to the Kenny Rogers and Barbara Mandrells who now effortlessly and offensively rule the majority of this nation’s jukeboxes, airwaves, and music award ballots. Given half a chance, Sundown could shake things up one helluva lot more than an entire army of Dils ever could!

Okay – I worry about such things. Maybe you do too. But does Tony Kinman? “Nah,” he informed me between rounds at the Radio City bar. “Every band me ‘n Chip have been in has, uh, Made It to some extent. But, you know – so what? The success part of things is really outta our hands for the most part. It’s managers and record companies who have to worry about that stuff. And the people out there really decide in the long run how big a band can be, and for how long.”

But Holy Cow, Tony! Doesn’t it bug you guys that if it wasn’t for the Casey Kasems and the Kal Rudmans of the world, Rank and File could very well be that exclusive Next Big Thing we’ve all be waiting breathlessly for?!!, I scream out. Tony’s long, low, all-knowing laugh is my only reply. But it’s his alter-ego, Chip, who leaves me with this final, all-encompassing, concluding profundity before leaping back on stage for the second set:

Success? All I care about is what key we’re gonna do ‘White Lightening’ in tonight!”

And There You Have It: the saga of a relatively new band busy brewing right under your very noses. Looking for musical kicks in the ‘Eighties? No need to shop overseas amongst the latest mascara’d synthepoppers: Buy American. Support Rank and File. And who know? We may never have to listen to the Gatlin Brothers Ever Again!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

DVD Review: Bob Dylan 1990-2006: The Never Ending Narrative

Text © Robert Barry Francos/FFanzeen, 2011
Images from the Internet




Bob Dylan 1990-2006: The Never Ending Narrative
Executive Producer: Rob Johnstone
Narration by Thomas Arnold
Music by T-Bomb; Dylanesque
Chrome Dreams
105 minutes, USD $19.95
Chromedream.co.uk
MVDvisual.com


When I think back looking at Dylan’s career, it seems kind of seamless. He’s just always been there my whole sentient musical life. And yet, he’s had his trials and tribulations on and off over the past few years, and that’s exactly what this CD covers.

We start off on this DVD in 1990 with Dylan entering his 50s, and putting out the Under the Red Sky LP, with its sing-song, almost child-like rhythms, which essentially tanked. Despite it having such guest musicians as Elton John, George Harrison, Slash, and David Crosby, it was not well received by the critics or his audience alike. This leads to possibly the lowest point in his career.

The tour that follows is also called “lackluster” here, and guitarist and band leader, G.E. Smith (ex-Saturday Night Live musical director and Gilda Radner’s ex-husband) left the tour early. Dylan auditioned guitarist on stage during performances. That must have contributed to an inconsistent level of professionalism that people had to pay to hear.

This was, of course, followed by Dylan’s appearance at the Grammys in February of 1991, when he sang a stupefying version of (supposedly) “Dogs of War” (a wonderful clip of the performance is shown here). This is described by one author here as his “nadir.” I remember during a Saturday Night Live “newscast” they had Adam Sandler (in one of his few funny bits) as Dylan, and David Spade as an equally mumbling Tom Petty translating (this clip is not included here, but should have been). Back to the Grammys’ song, Anthony Curtis of Rolling Stone (who is in a lot of these British music icon documentaries) stands up for Dylan, positing that it was cool that Dylan played atonal at a corporate function.

Speaking of music experts, let me discuss some of the people who appear on this documentary to explain what you are seeing. With the exception of a couple of the engineers on his Oh Mercy release, all the people discussing Dylan and his career are writers and journalists, most of them British (this is a UK-based production). While this is all well and good, nearly all of what is presented are opinions, conjecture and impressions. I would have liked to have seen more people who were actually there discussing what they were seeing, rather than what they were hearing (about). This is second or third hand. Yes, it is good to hear from people (all men; these British docs need more women) who know enough of Dylan’s catalog to give a cohesive overall picture, but rather than hearing about Dylan being depressed, I would like to hear from someone like G.E. Smith who can testify, and while it’s an interesting concept to say that during his low point, Dylan was possibly jealous of and competitive about his son Jakob’s success with the Wallflowers during the ‘90s, how about an opinion from Jakob? I have many friends who are intimate with the Dylan cannon, such as Bernie Kugel or Nancy Neon, and I respect their opinions as much as whoever is on this DVD.

Some who appear here are Nigel Williamson (British author of The Rough Guide to Bob Dylan who also is in a lot of these), Patrick Humphries (British author of The Complete Guide to Bob Dylan), Clinton Heylin (British author of Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades), Derek Barker (British editor of Isis magazine), and Robert “D-“ Christgau (ex-Village Voice music editor; currently with Rolling Stone).

But getting back to the narration… Dylan was in a funk and stopped writing songs because, as he is heard to question here in an audio clip, why bother writing songs anymore because the world already has enough of them. In fact, after a break, his next two albums, Good As I Been To You and World Gone Wrong were both acoustic and full of covers of blues and folk traditional pieces. By digging up the (his?) past, he laid the groundwork for his future.

And almost in a reflection of 1965, after the two acoustic releases, he goes full electric with band at Woodstock II (I was just across the Hudson River interviewing singer-songwriter Margo Hennebach), and his star was on the rise again with a whole new and younger audience enthralled by him. The DVD theorizes that he is finally appreciative of his listeners, and it shows. The performance is followed by the obligatory MTV Unplugged (clips of both are shown here). Finally, the following year with new songs in tow, he released Time Out of Mind. This is a return to critical success, especially after a heart infection puts his life in danger (raising the rhetorical question, is a life-endangering disease worth it if it gets you enough publicity?).

By his next release, Love and Theft, produced by himself and using his touring band (something he rarely did), he was “on top of his game” as one of the authors professes. Well, he does win a Grammy for it. This follows by a couple of film appearances (one he writes and directs) and soundtracks, another album (Modern Times), a Victoria Secret ad, and his autobiography, Chronicles Vol. 1 (which Christgau describes as, "It's just one more mirror in the hall of mirrors that has been his continued public life"). By the end of the DVD, we are hearing Dylan as a disc jockey on his Theme Time Radio Hour, a long way from his incomprehensible Grammys “Dogs of War” performance.

With the release of Martin Scorsese’s No Direction Home” Dylan has become “The Elder Statesman of Rock,” even though the film is about his career up until 1966. And as he approaches his ‘60s, and he is dressing like a swarthy cowboy with a pencil thin moustache, he is starting to facially resemble Leonard Nemoy.

Throughout the DVD there are numerous clips, photos, and performances by Dylan, alone making this worth seeking out. The research done by Angela Turner is spectacular, and even the opinonators (authors, et. al) get some good comments in along with the conjecture.

Marshall McLuhan once said that old technologies get replaced, and then come back as “art.” This DVD shows that this can be true of people, as well.

Extra video
(from Modern Times):

Friday, July 8, 2011

DVD Review: Bob Dylan Revealed

Text © Robert Barry Francos/FFanzeen, 2011
Images from the Internet




Bob Dylan Revealed
Directed by Joel Gilbert
Highway 61 Entertainment
112 minutes, USD $14.95
Highway61ent.com
MVDvisual.com


The last release I saw from Highway 61 was a pseudo-documentary about the alleged cover-up of the supposed death of Paul McCartney. It was ludicrous, but definitely imaginative. Then recently, this new Bob Dylan bio came into my hands, and I was wondering: real/fake? Imaginative/same-old-same-old?

BD Revealed takes a slightly different slant on the whole bio of Dylan, and rather than the usual narrator with live clips and talking head experts, this is almost an oral history of BD from his humble beginning until the early ‘90’s Never Ending Tour, just before it all fell apart for him.

Without narration, the only outside framework for the linear chronology is title cards presenting different sections, including chapters and sub-headings.

Most music-based documentaries, I find, are filled with authors who have written about the artist, which is all well and fine, but it’s sort of like having the Cliff Notes of those who have already done the research. Here, however, the documentary is chock full of those who know or knew him, worked with him in the studio, and had some kind of relationship with him, such as musicians with whom he has toured. This is much more anecdotal than researchers positing opinions or hearsay about they have learned. In other words, it’s first hand rather than once removed. This makes for a more dynamic telling. Do you want to hear from his childhood friend, or someone who had interviewed that friend? That’s a rhetorical question.

The segment between 1962 and 1966 is pretty short, but includes the likes of producers Jerry Wexler and Al Kasha, and his childhood friend Barry Feinstein, who uses descriptors of early Bobby Zimmerman as “interesting,” “magical,” and “hard to make out the words.” Kasha describes how he used the first low-selling album for fodder for other musicians, to help spread BD’s songs. Dylan himself is heard in a press conference clip (there are a number of them included throughout the DVD), including him stating, “I don’t know any college students.”

The next section is from 1966, and concerns his Electric World Tour. Drummer Mickey Jones (he was hired by Albert Grossman) describes extensively on what it was like to be traveling with Dylan during that period, and how the band as they were booed across Europe and Australia. It’s easy to see from the press conference clips that Dylan is exhausted, and also humorous to see him snap at the reporters, including one incident where he is asked about his songs being written to be contentious, to which he responds, “You’ve heard the songs, haven’t you!?” Another time he states his first name is “Penizovich.”

Another short segment that is full of impact is about 1967, when Dylan has his motorcycle accident. Jones describes what happened when the tour was cancelled and it’s affects on the musicians, and both Feinstein and Wexler question the reality of the crash, with Wexler going so far as to state, “He’s full of shit.”

His big comeback tour in 1974 with the Band is legendary, and there is a wonderful montage of amazing tour pix. His next outing, 1975’s Rolling Thunder Revue, has been viewed both as astonishing and a circus in its laid-back, anything goes style. Violinist Scarlet Rivera and Rob Stoner describe both being on tour with him (and how that occurred in the first place), and their working on the Desire album (which was recorded in one night). The main crux of this section is setting up the tour, the rehearsals, and the tour itself, including the “Night of the Hurricane.” Other interviews include Ramblin’ Jack Elliot who was one of the musicians involved, and Rubin “Hurricane” Carter himself. Further descriptions include BD’s involvement on the 5-hour long film, Renaldo and Clara.

With Jerry Weintraub (BD’s new manager) in tow, we are introduced to The Entertainer tour of 1978. With the promoter wanting basically a greatest hits show, Stoner explains how “We did what we could to make it unrecognizable.” Also interviewed is Joe Selvin of the San Francisco Chronicle, who includes his memories of attending the show.

For the section where Dylan becomes “Born Again” at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship Chapel,” we hear from Pastor Bill Dwyer (who believes Christian revitalization came after the disillusionment of Viet Nam), Kasha, and AJ Weberman, who states, in part, that at Vineyard, “it was not Christianity, it was Jesus.” The paradox of Dylan being brought up Jewish is dismissed by Dwyer who posits that Jews can be Christians (no, they can’t, but I won’t go into that now). However, Mitch Glaser, who represents the Jews for Jesus, states here that Jews are actually Christians because Jesus was a Jews, so it’s the Gentiles who are the converts” (this makes no sense at all). Regina McCrary, a singer on Dylan’s Being Born Again tour, explains her view of Dylan’s acceptance in a positive light. Wexler, who worked with Dylan on Slow Train Coming, and describes himself as a “62 year old card carrying Jewish Atheist,” comments about the “horror” of working with Dylan in this state.

For the Spreading of the Word tour, keyboardist Spooner Oldham tells about crowd reaction on the road, such as in some places each song getting half clapping and half booing. There are some smile-inducing exit interviews of the audience from period newscasts, ranging from praise to “He stinks.” The DVD also plays some of the audio track from one show where he tries a bit of preaching to audience ridicule.

Of course, Dylan famously followed this by becoming Orthodox Jewish as he rebounded from his disconnect from Christianity. The clip of him appearing on a Chassidic Lubavitch telethon is nothing short of painful as he looks so lost.

The last section of the DVD is 1992’s Never Ending Tour, told almost exclusively through the eyes of drummer Winston Watson who describes what it was like not only playing with Dylan, but hanging out with him and his host of celebrity friends and hangers-on (among them Neil Young, Al Kooper, and his opening act, the glorious Patti Smith… as a side-bar, that is a tour I would have definitely loved to have seen).

Never mind Madonna and Lady Gaga, Dylan is the original when it comes to reinvention, and this documentary takes him through four decades of growth spurts, including the good, the bad, and yes, the ugly. The presentation here is riveting, between the interviews and the clips of the period, and whether you are immersed in Dylanology or a casual attendee, there is a lot of material here that makes this a find.

Note that there are no extras included with the DVD, other than all the amazing information.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Thank You, Media Ecology Association

Text (c) Robert Barry Francos
Images scanned from Media Ecology Association documents


In 1991, I entered the Media Ecology program at New York University, under the supervision of Dr. Neil Postman.

A month after joining, the Media Ecology Department had their (relatively) infamous departmental conference at Sacks Lodge, up near Saugerties, NY. I didn't know anyone, so I started taking pictures of every thing and person, including the lecturers. This made a few people angry (thanks to the flash, which was necessary due to the very dark wood in the speaker's hall). I jokingly (and sheepishly) said, perhaps I should be known as "He Who Blinds." However, I turned the pictures over to the department, and they were made into a poster.

The next year, I went back, and some faces read, "Oh, that guy again." But I also started to make some friends (many of whom I still have within the Media Ecology Association), and again, turned in the photos. After another year of this, Neil Postman started introducing me as the department's "official photographer." After that, I was gold.

I continued photographing for the NYU department from 1991 until 2004 (except for two years I missed due to illness and visitors staying with us; I earned my degree in January 1994). When the Media Ecology Association started and held it's first conference 12 years ago, the board (full of my above mentioned friends) asked me to continue taking photos, which I now have at 11 of 12 conferences (due to legal reasons, I could not attend last year).

This year, I was awarded the Christine L. Nystrom Award for Career Achievement in Service to the Field of Media Ecology. It's also the first award in this category ever issued. I am extremely touched and grateful. Below is the certificate I received, and the notice of all the winners this year. I am in amazing company, including one of my undergraduate professors from the late 1970s.

The images can be made larger by clicking on them.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

PRIDE Saskatoon 2011: Part 2 - Fest, June 11, 2011

Photos and text (c) by Robert Barry Francos
Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them


The theme of this year's PRIDE Festival was Come Out, Come Out, Whoever You Are. As with last year, it was held on the grounds beside City Hall and the Frances Morrison Library in downtown Saskatoon. As someone noted, it wasn't that long ago participating in gay activity was illegal, and now the festival is on city government property.

We were told the statistic, and if I remember it correctly:
Last year at the parade: 1,200; this year 2,100
Last year at the fest: 2,000; this year 4,000.

There was a wide variety of people present including drag kings and queens, leather boys, college students, and families.

Yes, as I've heard some complainers, there were a large number of corporate sponsors, such as a national bank (who all marched in synchronized blue t-shirts), but it felt nowhere as oppressive as the Halloween Parade in New York City has become.

My only real gripe about the whole day is the expanded size of the beer garden. No, I have nothing against drinking if that's your choice, but a whole section of the street was sealed off by ugly green wire fencing, and people hung around in this separate area the entire time, hardly a show of support for the goings on. Food and beverages of all types were behind the gate, so if one wanted to eat, one had to wait on line to pay for tickets, and then wait on another line to be served the repast. Luckily I brought water, but I believe there were a lot of others that were turned off by the system. I found the fence depressing.

There were four performances as the Fest kicked into high gear. First off were the Diva's sponsored lip-syncing by a couple of draggers (who did quite well and were very compelling). Truthfully, I didn't know either of the canned songs, but dance music is not where my interest lies. However, over some sound systems between acts, it was pretty clear that one of the favorites of the day was Lady Gaga's "Respect Yours..." - er - I mean "Born This Way."

The first group up was Jeffrey Straker. They were engaging, poppy, and definitely influenced by Billy Joel, such as song structure and intonation, with some of Elton John's flamboyance. I'm thinking the backing band is a touring group as everything I could find about Jeffrey was about Jeffrey. The woman performing with him is his sister. A few people danced, and they were clearly a hit with the audience. [jefferystraker.com]

After them was Del Barber, an "aw-shucks" country-influenced singer-songwriter who was impressively good in both sound and song. He even had a bit of a southern accent, which I found amusing since he comes from Manitoba. I'd like to hear more of his stuff. Nobody danced, but everyone there listened. [www.myspace.com/delbarber]

Last up was We Were Lovers, a duo consisting of Ash Lamothe on guitar, and vocalist Elsa Gebremichael on synth. The songs were electronic based beats, and often Elsa would leave the keyboard to dance, all the while the pre-programming kept the sound going. While I found myself bored, props must be given because they definitely had the audience on its feet with a larger number of people dancing than for the other acts. [www.myspace.com/wewereloversmusic)]

Around this time I ran into my friend and community neighbor, Dave H-, and we decided it was time to go, he was appearing in a presentation of Mozart's Marriage of Figaro (unrelated to PRIDE events) and he needed to get to ready for it; also, the time for the festival was nearly over. We headed home while WWL were still performing with gusto.

As we walked home it started to drizzle.

Below are some of my pictures of the event. The images of the audience while the band is playing is loyal to when I took them. Some comments will be interspersed, as I am inclined.

The south entrance to the park behind City Hall.


For some reason, this group's pictures have been all over the newspapers about the event.


How tough is the Saskatoon roller derby team? They can skate on grass!!
Wonder if she's ever going to regret that Jack Daniel's tatt...








Gay-friendly politician Pat Lorje wears green earrings for the occasion.
One of the coolest 'hawks I've seen in a long time.
The Fest organizers start the show.


The lip-syncing begins.



Jeffrey Straker, and his band.


I have seen her at almost every event I have gone to this summer.






President of the City Park Community Association, Nicholas (Collie) Blenkinsop.
Saskatoon-based author Wes Funk has written a couple of novels. I have read and enjoyed Dead Rock Stars, and own and plan to read Baggage.








Del Barber







I so wanted to have a good Ramones talk with her, but was afraid of being seen as having an ulterior motive.


We Were Lovers