Spin Magazine Fires Publisher and Editor (Ben Sisario, New York Times)
Archive for the ‘News’ Category
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on July 14, 2010
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on April 17, 2010
Give Me a Ticket
This is denial – one month’s worth to be exact. With death, denial can be a reaction of shock or refusal to accept what’s put before us. And never has there been such resistance to the finality of Alex Chilton’s physical demise, save for possibly the death of John Lennon. Similarly, to many of us, his voice and words were perhaps some of the very first we heard over the AM radio while running in and out of the house in summer or driving in our parents’ car or under the covers next to a clock radio with nothing but the darkness to add to the pop mystery. If we did see him we viewed him as someone’s cool older brother, future boyfriend prototype or just plain crush.
Let Me Walk You Home
Later, usually through cooler siblings, friends or radio stations, we learned that the boy turned into a young man, to not fade away, only to become more enigmatic in what we would know to be arguably the foremost college rock band. Again, through cooler elders and with the good fortune of underground radio and indie record stores, his voice, music and vivid messages of hopeful, fragile and often failed love and loneliness would waft through our speakers to cheer or comfort us or be a companion to loneliness.
Like any college career, Big Star was too short-lived, but looked back on as fondly as it was experienced at the time, if not more, despite any rocks in the road with the bittersweetness of a first love. And much like some school friends, they change or don’t always act like you remembered them to. In the ’90s, Alex spent some of it volleying around between planned and surprise club dates and county fairs. In the former setting he wouldn’t always play what one might expect or even want to hear. Sometimes his set sounded more like one from Johnny Thunders and other times a lounge cover act. Kicking out the jams had a much different meaning; “Volare,” “Little GTO.” Many audience members dug it, dancing as if in on some ironic joke when really Alex just seemed to have a thinly veiled smoldering contempt.
Thank You Friends
But then he came back with new musicians who some could say had seen their own better days to press on and not go easy into that good night, but one that we would all live to enjoy. These past years as friends and icons fell we could count on Al. He had lived through much of what we had and more; substance use, death of friends and family, love loss and epic tragedies. We thought, took for granted really, that he would stick around, that he would be there to guide us from the kid with the transistor and covers over his head through less than stellar school and work years and the mediocrity of middle age to an older one, perhaps in Vegas at various lounges or casinos.
But those day drams were dashed one month ago when he left us as mysteriously and quietly as he often did after his shows. Through many tunes and tears, a vision of him striding down some street with a jacket, jeans worn shoes and a scarf slightly blowing in the wind appears indelibly, along with the possibility of playing for us once again. Until then we have only stories, recordings and our own memories to keep his alive.
Here are but a few from some who knew him well:
Where Are You, Little Star?
John Fry (Co-Owner, Ardent Studios)
An unexpected and unwanted event occurred on March 17, 2010. At about 7 pm, I received a call from Jody Stephens, who had gone to Austin that day to participate in SXSW. He quickly said that he had received a call from Laura, Alex’s wife. He had suffered symptoms at home and been taken to a hospital where he had died in the emergency room. There initially was nothing more to say beyond “What, say that again, are you sure?”
Then we said to one another, “I guess we better cancel everything”. I was about to hang up when it occurred to me to say “It’s your decision, but you guys should talk about it among yourselves. Maybe you want to go ahead with everything as a tribute to Alex.” They called back in a couple of hours and said they were going to perform with guest artists. I think it was the right decision.
There was a tremendous outpouring of love and support from the artist community at SXSW. The media were courteous and respectful in as far as I have seen. We all are grateful.
The band has also decided to go ahead with the already scheduled show at The Levitt Shell in Memphis on May 15. It will be similar to the SXSW show, essentially a Big Star gig with guest performers, honoring Alex’s memory, but playing only the Big Star repertoire, rather than trying to cover ever era of Alex’s long and varied career.
The first time I met Alex was during Box Tops overdub and mixing sessions at Ardent in 1967. For all the years hence, we had been friends and colleagues. He was a brilliant, widely read man, with a vast knowledge of music from many genres, art, literature, politics, and history. Big Star played in London in 2008 and 2009. For some reason, I felt almost compelled to go and see both shows. I am glad that I did. The shows were great. Alex and his wife Laura were so happy together. I ask myself “why now?”, and of course, there is no answer.
During the ’08 show, they had already played many songs from the ’70s albums, and as they were getting ready to play some selections from In Space, Alex joked with the audience. “Now we’re going to play some songs that you may not have heard before from In Space. Just listen, and if you don’t like these now, I guarantee that you will in 30 years.”
Recently, I picked up the Big Star boxed set, looked at the cover photo with their smiling faces, and reflected on the fact that there are now two of these four people about whom I have received shocking sudden death phone calls, one in 1978 and another in 2010.
Alex and Chris are sorely missed, much loved, and deeply respected.
Goodbye El Goodo
Robert Gordon (Author, It Came from Memphis)
Alex stuck his finger down his throat and gagged, showing me that’s how much he hated Memphis. We laughed about it. He didn’t like me much either (something I wrote perhaps, or his interpretation of my horoscope charts), but that didn’t mean we couldn’t laugh together. He’d boarded a flight for a European tour, and just his luck, the movie showing was The Firm, shot in Memphis—he couldn’t escape the city—and he gagged again.
Alex Chilton became a public figure at the age of 16 when, not long after he’d first seen the inside of a recording studio, a song from that session became a #1 worldwide hit, “The Letter” by the Box Tops. At that impressionable age he became a product packaged and sold, considerable talent yielding considerable profits—for the manager and not the artist. Soon, the monkey walked away from the organ grinder to do his own thing.
His thing: He channeled the future by capturing the underground zeitgeist, three times in the 1970s alone—an audience for the clean pop of the first two Big Star Records caught up to the music a decade after it was made; the third Big Star album was nihilistic and beautiful (hello Elliot Smith and the ‘90s); the shambolic Like Flies on Sherbert deemed hip the wealth and diversity of Americana roots while becoming a punk rock classic. The art of these efforts has become canonized, but the financial return was—again—basically nil. Big pop hit or great art, same result: no money.
Instead of profit, his fans assigned him prophecy. But the Replacements only got it half right in their tribute song. Children by the million might have screamed for Alex Chilton, but he’d never have come running. Waves of admiration and love were an assault, and he was scornful of those who needed to make more of his songs than he did. His lifelong interest in astrology makes sense: What is colder, more beautiful, more distant than the stars? Astrology is the province of the seeker, not the sought.
Alex Chilton’s career in song is a testament to his seeking, to his eye for precise detail, his adventuresome ear, his empathetic heart. In a few lines he could chillingly evoke the angst and maelstrom of young adulthood, touching strangers in a personal way (their responses leading to his notorious friction with some fans). His mind remained curious all his life, exploring politics, the humanities, and sciences with the same avidity he mined R&B, country, classical music and everything in between. He refused to be predictable, and preferred his audience be kept on its guard. In the same late-night radio appearance when he sang Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”—years, of course, before Whitney Houston made a career out of it, he also broke into a filthy racist ballad. His songs were not unlike William Eggleston’s photographs—crisp, saturated, and composed, with an underlying menace, with a throat-aching wistfulness.
Alex was as complicated as Memphis itself. XL Chitterlings, my favorite of his stage names, stole Wilhelm Reich books from the Memphis Public Library because he said no one checked them out, and he gave them to people whom he thought would appreciate them. When a friend heard him explain his world view, he chided him, “You’re right Alex, the world is wrong.” Telling me about this later, Alex added “And, hell. I believe that. The world is wrong, I am right.”
To the end, he did it his way. Apparently he’d been feeling bad for several days, but not so bad he couldn’t refuse advice to visit the doctor. Dead at 59, the loss magnified by its abruptness, the musician is stilled but his great recordings live on. The eulogies will too, much to his likely irritation.
C’mon a My House
John R. Lightman (Musician, producer and former Big Star bass player)
I played bass with Big Star, following Andy Hummel’s departure, as a trio with Alex and Jody in 1974. For the past 30 years, I would visit with Alex whenever I’d go to New Orleans, and we’d play some music and talk. Usually, when I’d walk into his house, he’d be playing a CD of Jimmy Elledge singing “Ain’t It Funny How Time Slips Away.”
Alex was intelligent and interested in many areas of knowledge. He had strong musical opinions. For example, he much preferred Beatles albums before Rubber Soul to the ones that followed. He never bought into any of the hype surrounding any musicians, including himself. He said that he only considered three or four of his Big Star songs to be great.
Alex lost the sibling to whom he was closest as a boy: his older brother, and he sublimated that pain and created beautiful songs. He was what I would call a musician’s musician, an inspiration to anyone who knew him or heard his music.
Chesley Pearman (artist, musician, writer for The Local Voice)
Alex was a trip. And I’ve actually tripped with Alex. I’ve seen him sail a beer bottle the full length of a long room at a soundman who couldn’t get the monitors the way Alex wanted them. I’ve also seen him just show up at my door in Oxford, at the old A-frame, to hang out, get wasted, play guitars, and be the greatest guy you would ever want to hang with. He asked me one time if he could just pitch a tent in my backyard and move out there.
He was one of the friendliest, funniest, and unpretentious guys I’ve ever known – especially given the genius that he was. It took me months to hunt him down and get him on the phone when I wanted to book him into Syd & Harry’s. It took me hours on the phone to convince him to come and play Oxford the first time. I have some great stories about him, but maybe some other time.
He was truly a wonderful guy, and I’m really sad that he’s gone. But his music is still here, and like another of his fans said: ” I never travel very far/ without a little Big Star…”
Thing For You
Adam Hohenberg (Filmmaker)
I’ve just been reminiscing about Alex and it seems that he was accorded more praise in death than in life. I mean it’s wonderful to see it, but rather ironic. I mean, it was great to see a two page article in the LA times with a gallery of eight more photographs. Growing up in Memphis I was not totally into the music scene… but the way Memphis was and still is, these people are accessible. I realized when Lee Baker died that I had seen him play more than anyone and Jim Dickenson was in that band with him, so I had seen them more than any other bands.
But the thing with Alex is that I remember he liked young girls and my sister was best friends with this girl who knew him and he decided he was going to come over and pick up my sister without calling and just take her out. She was seventeen or eighteen, this was around ’77, and I just remember him knocking on the door – I think it was rather late around 9:30 on a school night – and thinking ‘what’s that noise?’ She was very shy and virginal and looked like she was fifteen. I had no sense of who he was. I remember him giving me the demo LPs, Radio City and Flies on Sherbet as he would a kid and signed them – “here, let me give you one of these” – just like a really nice guy.
I didn’t know him first-hand from the Box Tops or even Big Star, but what I knew was Panther Burn and Tav Falco and just his punk phase; peeing off the side of the stage and the Antenna Club. And the next thing I know I’m at Sarah Lawrence and met this kid who played guitar and I asked what music he was into. And he said that “Alex Chilton is the best musician there is.” He didn’t know Alex was from Memphis and I looked at him and kind of froze like he was joking. It just confirmed that in Memphis we can take it for granted – it’s not like New York or LA or other cities where you can go hang out with them and there’s that kind of familiarity. I’ll have lunch with Jody Stevens.
My father was in Alex’s father’s generation and kind of a wild man; a successful business man, but knew Alex from back in the day and would go to see him even when he was 70. He likes to dance and would stay by the side of the stage. Once Alex yelled out to him and my dad invited him for a hot tub at his place and the next day Alex went over and hung out. I think the fact that he was open to life in a way others may not have been made his art better, that he was connected to real people. He would be open to going to this guy’s house that was 70 years old thinking he was interesting and having a hot tub rather than hanging out with girls or someone his own age.
And thinking back on it I think he always wanted to be smaller than what he was and in this respect I think he failed because he turned out to be an important person, he felt weird about it and the more he tried the more he became a cult figure. It is amazing that he could sustain that level of creativity. So now it’s a point of rediscovery for me. I want to go and revisit his life.
A Rock Remembrance
Paul Rock (CAA story analyst and Wild Honey Co-owner)
In the fall of 1994, my partners (Andrew Sandoval and David Jenkins) in Wild Honey Productions and I set out to produce a tribute to Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys for December at the 200-seat Morgan Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica, Ca. Having previously staged a successful Beach Boy tribute/gathering in my rented Hancock Park house (my first meetings with Baby Lemonade (Arthur Lee’s band in future years) and the Wondermints (Brian Wilson’s current band after their stellar performance in ’94), we set out to create a bigger and better event to honor our musical hero.
In the months leading up to the ’94 show, I learned that huge Brian Wilson fan Alex Chilton would be playing a solo show at the House of Blues just a few days before our show. My friend and sometime employer Glenn Morrow at Bar None Records put me in touch with the talented Ben Vaughn who gave me Chilton’s phone number. Several nice phone conversations with Alex yielded lots of interest, but no commitment. He was very interested in whether Brian would be attending and or playing.
Meanwhile, I contacted my fellow Brian Wilson nut David Leaf, Brian’s confidante and friend, about the show and he passed the word to Brian and Andy Paley (Brian’s collaborator on his ’98 solo record). Again, lots of interest, but no commitment in the weeks leading up to the show.
Two days before the show, David Leaf called me and dropped the bomb: Brian would be performing a short set at the show. He would need a grand piano. No problem! I passed this good news to Alex when I flagged him down at the House of Blues. Again, no commitment, but more interest. He told me he had family to visit and didn’t know if he could make it.
The night of the show. The audience is seated. Brian has sound checked and is backstage. I’m serving up drinks and handling assorted the fallout from Brian’s decision to go in the middle, not the end of the evening. Suddenly, I look up and Alex is standing in front of me. He’s ready to play, but he needs an acoustic guitar. I send him down to McCabe’s Guitar Shop (several blocks west of the theatre) and they lend him one. We are good to go. Easy to please, Alex has no problem following Brian… he just wants to hang with Brian backstage.
Backstage Brian and Alex have a spirited discussion about “The Letter” and other assorted matters. During is slot, Alex nails “Solar System” from The Beach Boys’ Love You record and with some lyrical help from the audience, he makes a nice stab at “This Car of Mine”. No ego, just bliss for everyone involved. Alex was a sly gentleman and a huge music fan.
Several weeks later, Alex calls to thank me again for giving him one of the best nights of his life. The pleasure was all mine, since I had two of my musical heroes on the same stage playing at our little homemade show. I will always remember Alex with great fondness and get chills when I listen to his records.
Alex’s Happy Song
Scott Miller (Game Theory, Loud Family)
I spoke to Alex only a few times, mostly in a single backstage encounter in Memphis in 1984, and the first thing I feel obliged to report is how entirely good-natured he was. I didn’t know better than to do a fair amount of geeking out about Big Star Third, to the point of having him help me get lyrics right, and he participated in this discussion with no hint of annoyance or attempt to change the subject. I realize there was such a thing as him behaving antisocially, but if I’d never actually met him, I’d assume from what I read that he was antisocial day in and day out. There’s a big difference.
Alex had a precise and literary mind, and the closest facsimile of a literary life available to him in his formative years was Memphis’s community of the musicologically hypereducated, a seductively rich atmosphere in the midst of which there was far too much positive reinforcement of colorful excess. He had a black sense of humor that, in the patterns I’ve seen it deployed, I think perversely indicated that he liked you, or was considering liking you. If you were overly sensitive to crossing the line, it was an unfortunate fact of life that he was going to have to put some distance between you and him, because crossing the line was what he did.
We can learn from the personality traits of great originals like Alex that originality, in the first instance, is contentiousness: an arbitrary rejection of some habit of mind. But just as Alex spent occasional defining moments in opposition both musically and personally, he spent the whole rest of his day being pleasant and loving life, both musically and personally. It’s no accident that his later musical career is difficult for most people; he directed his affections to neglected corners of the musical landscape, where affection was needed most. My heart goes out in gratitude to Jody, Jon, Ken, John Fry, Laura, who seems thoroughly wonderful, and everyone who gave Alex a good life, and I’ll testify again to what a supremely successful artist he was — I would guess one of the ten best American composers in history.
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on December 7, 2009
This past year, fall and winter particularly, has been all about the 30th year of punk. Books by Arthur Kane’s widow, Barbara Kane (I, Doll: Life and Death of the New York Dolls), and Vera Ramone King (Poisoned Heart: I Married Dee Dee Ramone), Dee Dee’s former wife were released as well as Robert Matheu’s and Jeffrey Morgan’s photo biography of Iggy Pop (The Stooges: The Authorized and Illustrated Story) and one about Joey Ramone by his brother and former Birdland guitar player, Mickey Leigh (with Legs McNeil). The two recently had a successful, full-to-capacity book signing at the St. Mark’s Place Barnes & Noble book store for I Slept With Joey Ramone.
Leigh and McNeil have another reading/Q&A session on 7:30 P.M. Tuesday December 8th, at Goodbye Blue Monday, 1087 Broadway Bushwick Brooklyn, NY.
A couple of people we know wrote about the former subjects at some length. New Times editor Bill Holdship penned a fine cover story on Iggy, which included an entertaining interview. He also discusses the books by Kane and King. And Punk Turns 30‘s Theresa Kereakes also gives kudos to Matheu’s book.
In other print matters, American expat NPR correspondant Ed Ward pens a piece about Bukka White in this month’s issue of the Oxford American. And there’s a very witty interview with writer and ukulele enthusiast, Sylvie Simmons in 1heckofaguy.com about her upcoming, hard won book on Leonard Cohen.
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on August 14, 2009
They didn’t exactly roll out the red carpet for the 40th anniversary of Woodstock this week. While celebrations are planned from east to west (later in the year), scant stories are available, whether by net, news or TV.
One we did find, however, tells the real story, second-hand, about the music, mud and mayhem that ensued. Check out writer Ed Ward’s article in the Boston Phoenix. It should be required class reading.
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on August 13, 2009
Word slowly and gently traveled today, amid political shout outs and ships disappearing, that legendary guitar master, Les Paul, had passed away at age 94. Out of the many articles and tributes, one that stands out is from Mark Kemp for RollingStone.com.
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on July 31, 2009
Paul Williams’ benefit at San Francisco’s Red Devil Lounge last month did not disappoint in either attendance or musical performance. In fact, it brought all sorts of folks together who know the distinguished scribe and Crawdaddy originator or played together during the Bay area punk scene. Deborah Iyall (Romeo Void lead singer and solo artist) and Dramarama’s John Easdale were in attendance as were new Wolfgang’s Vault – Crawdaddy staffers.
Need some video evidence?
Mark Eitzel was on hand, crooning his rendition of “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” along with Jello Biafra and Mojo Nixon doing “Love Me, I’m a Liberal.”
John Doe sang a wonderfully smooth, yet rough hewn, “The Losing Kind.”
And Cindy Lee Berryhill treated everyone to her bittersweet original “Beloved Stranger.” You don’t need to be a critic or particularly insighful to interpret the meaning, but the sentiment can only be expressed by someone who is feeling the longing first-hand.
There’s no sugarcoating this, it’s a sad and unfair situation and has been for too many years. The only way to take this sad song and make it better is to get the word out, advocate for health care change and throw another benefit, perhaps in Los Angeles or New York. Even Yoko Ono, to her credit, gave at her office. Check out the rest of the stellar contributing crew here.
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on June 23, 2009
Pop counterculture photojournalist, Theresa Kereakes has been chronicling bands since the late 1970s. From working the ticket counter at the Whiskey to producing and supervising installments of VH1’s infamous Storytellers series to shooting video for Sting’s Rain Forest Foundation, her career continues to expand. This month the photographer has the distinctive experience of having two sets of works in Christie’s Pop Culture Auction.
Among collectables of poster bills for the Velvet Underground, Joy Division and Clash along with vintage Seditionaries bondage pants and historic pop culture pins will be Kereakes’ formidable photographic works. These include sets of twelve shots of The Germs first practice and of Belinda Carlisle and dancer Pleasant Gehman affecting various pin up girl poses. Each set is accompanied by a letter from the artist.
Christie’s Pop Culture Auction starts Tuesday, June 23rd 2009.
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on June 3, 2009
The past few weeks have seen some break ups ( Radio & Records, Performing Songwriter) and shake ups ( Paste Magazine‘s appeal to readers), while other e-zines and print mags have gone about their business with new issues. Two that stand out are the premiere and spring issues of Blurt (in print) and The Oxford American #10 (which includes a two CD set to be discussed further in another column).
Within the pages of Oxford American’s Southern Music Issue you will find a stellar cast of music critic/writers as Alan Light, Chet Flippo, Greil Marcus and Peter Guralnick. Some of the subjects like Neko Case, Love… with Arthur Lee and Jack Teagarden get double treatment with two contrasting stories a piece.
In its debut print issue, Blurt contains a fine how do you do from the editor in chief, Scott Crawford plus a reintroduction to the dedicated editorial staff, a cover story on “14 Ways to Forget About the Recession”, features on Heartless Bastards and Anthony & the Johnsons, a heart felt piece on the late Ron Ashton by Tim Stegall (while Lux Interior is the spring issue’s “In Memorium”), and more Neko Case for those who need it. The prolific Robyn Hitchcock graces “Famous Last Words” (Blurt‘s back pages).
Much like The Oxford American, the glossy print versions area bound to be keepsakes at $12 a year. And, of course, the online mag updates daily. Presently, there is a nostalgiac piece on the 38th anniversary of the Fillmore West’s closing.
Perfect Sound Forever editor Jason Gross, who has a copious in depth article on ’70s psychedelic blues jam band The Insect Trust in The Oxford American, has the latest issue of his e-mag up. This installment features pieces on 360 deals and vinyl resurgence as well as an extensive interview with pre-punk music empressario Danny Fields and another with Velvet Underground engineer and unoffical co-producer, Norman Dolph by Richie Unterberger. The latter is exerpted from his upcoming, comprehensive book about the band, White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-By-Day. Unterberger, author of eight other tomes is a cheif music reviewer for AllMusicGuide.com.
PSF also boasts the most comprehensive interview with Richard Meltzer (other than our own, of course). And speaking of Mr. Meltzer, be sure to check out Mike Watt’s latest podcast with him as a guest on the Watt from Pedro Show.
Posted by s woods on March 31, 2009
In 1995, Paul Williams suffered a traumatic brain injury in a bicycle accident, leading to early onset of dementia, and a steady decline to the point where he now requires full-time care.
The pressure on his immediate family has been immense.
Our purpose in creating this site is to ask for your help, in the form of contributions of any size, to assist in Paul’s continued care and medical attention.
We hope you’ll explore the site, and learn more about the work of this remarkable individual.
Then, if you can, please visit the donation page we’ve set up, and contribute.
The Friends and Family of Paul Williams. And, of course, Paul himself.
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on November 12, 2008
Every year young writers wait with bated breath for the newest edition of Robert Brewer’s, Writer’s Market (Writers Digest Books), where lists of publications, contact names and numbers appear. But by the end of the year (or even sooner if you go by Magazine Death Watch), many have changed or are no longer. And with the state of the music industry, job-seeking security can be even more elusive. That’s why The Music Press Report has issued the Music Press Directory 2009, the most comprehensive and editor/user-friendly guide for writers seeking editors, journalists seeking journals.
This first edition contains contact information for music writers, photographers, artists, websites and print publications in one 213-page e-book. Collected largely by readers of MusicPressReport.com, this directory has the distinction of precision where the user can benefit from the sort of detail necessary for specifically targeted searches. The reasoning behind this is that publicists, labels and musicians spend too much time and money finding and pursuing every writer they can with un-targeted quests for coverage that often go ignored.
Similarly, print, e-magazines and web sites acquire new talent many times by haphazard meetings, or ads if there is even a budget. Thirdly, all participants in music publishing would do well to increase networking more time-effectively, yet too often there is not enough time during the average workday to find and meet with the appropriate professionals. While still modestly considered an experiment, if enough downloads are recorded, the guide will be expanded to other areas of music publishing and a companion print edition will be released next year.
The Music Press Directory 2009 can be viewed at http://www.lulu.com/content/3052680.
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on August 7, 2008
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on July 3, 2008
If you are fortunate enough to live on the west coast and are a music movie enthusiast, Don’t Knock The Rock, the annual film fest celebrating the same, is just your scene. Now in its fifth year, the brainchild of director Allison Anders is as strong as ever, featuring two full months of summer music cinema. After directing such iconic independent films as Border Radio and Sugar Town as well as the critically acclaimed Grace of My Heart, she thought of the project while teaching at the University of California – Santa Barbara. While there she noticed that many of the students hadn’t heard much less seen the films she screened. Thinking this a shame and remembering a time when the seminal pictures were more celebrated was part of her impetus to start Don’t Knock the Rock, an annual film festival exposing new films by budding filmmakers.
This year DKTR partnered with Cinespia and Cinefamily and will be housed in two venues. Opening and closing nights take place at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, with every Thursday night in July and August at The Silent Movie Theater. Additionally, there will be special Saturday Matinee Events. Returning for his 4th year as Master of Ceremonies is actor and musician Michael Des Barres.
Opening night featured an encore screening of Steven Binder’s rarely shown 1964 classic rock concert film, THE T.A.M.I. SHOW. In 1964 young Steve Binder was hired to film a concert at Santa Monica Civic featuring the biggest jukebox stars of the day, who would go on to become pop history legends: Chuck Berry, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Lesley Gore, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, The Rolling Stones, Jan & Dean, Gerry & The Pacemakers, garage rockers The Barbarians, and more with house band The Wrecking Crew under the direction of Phil Spector. Just as interesting to pop culture enthusiasts, included is bonus never before seen material and Go Go dancers Toni Basil and Teri Garr back up the acts. The energy of the performances and the audience that Steve Binder captured has yet to be matched. If you weren’t that or wish you had, this was the next best thing.
THE WRECKING CREW by Denny Tedesco
Denny Tedesco’s love letter to The Wrecking Crew, a group of LA studio musicians which included his father Fender guitar player great Tommy Tedesco, Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye, Don Randi and Glenn Campbell. In the 1960s The Wrecking Crew played on over half of the country’s top 40 hits for Ricky Nelson, Johnny Rivers Frank Sinatra and Nancy Sinatra, Sonny and Cher, Jan & Dean, The Beach Boys, The Monkees, Mamas and Papas, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Tijuana Brass, and were Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound. Denny Tedesco was present for a post-screening Q&A, and Boyd Rice on-hand to DJ and VJ vintage scopitones both before and after the screening.
You Think You Really Know Me: The Gary Wilson Story by Michael Wolk
Championed by the likes of Beck and Matt Groening, and obsessed over by record collectors, Gary Wilson’s album You Think You Really Know Me is one of the most unique, personal musical statements of the 1970s. Inspired by the seminal album’s 2002 reissue, director Michael Wolk set out to learn more about its creator, only to find that Wilson had vanished shortly after its release, making the story just as peculiar as the record itself. You Think You Really Know Me: The Gary Wilson Story is a look at the musician’s bittersweet life, ahead of his time and poised for rediscovery. As a special treat, Wilson is to perform live on the Cinefamily stage after the screening. Preceding is D. Sticker’s short film My Pal Foot Foot.
Such Hawks, Such Hounds by John Srebalus and Jessica Hundley
This is the Los Angeles premier of a heavy film exploring the musicians and music of the American hard rock underground from 1970 to 2007, emphasizing psychedelic and ’70s proto-metal-derived styles such as doom metal, stoner, desert and space rock, which have in recent years all formed a rich tapestry of ear-splitting sounds. The evolution of these styles is explored, while serving as a character study of artists on the fringes of both straight society and hip indie circles.
We are shown how these musicians live, work and sustain careers outside the rock mainstream. Bands featured include Pentagram, Black Sabbath, Dead Meadow, Earthless, Fu Manchu, Sleep, Comets on Fire, Kyuss and Nebula. DJ Tony “Tee Pee” Presedo will be presiding over the decks before and after the show, and following the screening will be a Q&A with filmmakers John Srebalus and Jessica Hundley, and a live performance by San Diego psych band Earthless.
Far East Punk Triple Feature: Beijing Bubbles/Rock ‘N Tokyo/Wasted Orient
DKTR premiers three slices of the new Asian punk rock culture. Beijing Bubbles, is an intimate document of five bands in China’s capital city. Transcending beyond common cliches of life and society in China, the film is a well-paced portrait of the group’s struggle to maintain their individuality in the fastest-growing country in the world. Following is Rock ‘N Tokyo, a jolt of Japanese energy profiling some of their tightest and fastest bands, like Guitar Wolf and The 220.127.116.11.’s (featured in Quentin Tarantino’s, Kill Bill.)
Rounding out the evening is Wasted Orient, a profile of Chinese band Joyside (also in Beijing Bubbles.) Obsessed with Johnny Thunders and American punk, the film follows the band spreading their beer-soaked message across an unprepared Chinese countryside. Q&A with filmmaker Pamela Valente will follow the screening of Rock ‘N Tokyo.
This Is The Life (L.A. premiere) & Return Of The Rub-A-Dub Style (World premier)
This Is The Life tells the little-known story of a group of teens who, starting in 1989, regularly met at the South Central L.A. health food store The Good Life and revolutionized hip-hop by innovating rhyme patterns, melodic concepts and lyrical styles used by many of today’s biggest rap stars. Directed by former Good Life emcee Ava DuVernay, the film features interviews and performances from members of Freestyle Fellowship, Jurassic 5 and more.
Return of the Rub-A-Dub Style, charts the dual history of reggae soundsystem culture in Jamaica and its renewal at L.A.’s weekly Dub Club, in Echo Park, where hardcore Jamaican micsmiths known as “deejays” come from around the world to “chat on the mic” with their lyrics of consciousness. Featured artists include Brigadier Jerry, Ranking Joe, Sister Nancy and U-Roy. Filmmaker Q&As and a live performance by Ranking Joe, Tippa Lee, and the Echodelic Soundsystem immediately follow the film.
Regional Punk Double Bill – You Weren’t There: A History of Chicago Punk & DFW Punk (L.A. premiers)
This double feature celebrates two city’s overlooked vibrant punk scenes of the same early era. You Weren’t There is a gritty, exhilarating look back on the impact punk had on the Windy City. From what is now considered to be the first punk club in America (La Mere Vipere) to other proto-hardcore clubs and DIY venues, Chicagoans made sure that there were outlets for the genre that was often blacklisted by the mainstream rock scene. Featuring archival footage of Naked Raygun, Big Black and more.
Follwing is DFW Punk, which depicts the Dallas/Ft. Worth punk/new wave scene. If you thought Texas in the late ’70s was all about urban cowboys, country tunes and bible-thumping, get ready to be proved dead wrong. Filmmaker Q&As follow the screenings, and DJ Terry “Dadbag” Graham (Gun Club, The Bags) will be on-hand to spin tunes during the breaks.
If It Ain’t Stiff by Ben Whalley
By the mid ’70s, rock had disappeared up its own corporate “arse”. Thank goodness for Stiff Records, a ramshackle indie label formed by two penniless visionaries that took music out of the boardroom and gave it back to the fans. Stiff invented the new wave with Nick Lowe, put punk on vinyl with the Damned, gave the world Elvis Costello and Ian Dury, and dominated the charts in the ’80s with Madness. In its own words, “If it ain’t Stiff, it ain’t worth a fuck.”
The US premier features appearances from all acts mentioned, plus Devo, Shane MacGowan, Wreckless Eric and Larry Wallis with label bosses Dave Robinson and Jake Riviera. Filmmaker Ben Whalley will be present for a post-screening Q&A, Stiff founder Dave Robinson will bring along videos he directed for the label and DJ Wreckless Ian Marshall will spin the Stiff catalogue. Be sure to stick around for our live Stiff tribute concert with very special guests later in the evening, preceded by Carol Chiodini short film, Action Woman.
Music Nerd Double Bill: Under The Covers & Let Me Be Your Band (L.A. Premiers)
Seen through the eyes of world-famous rock photographer Henry Diltz and three- time Grammy-nominated art director/artist Gary Burden, Under The Covers takes us through the classic rock era of the late ’60s and early ’70s via the iconic album covers the two friends designed together. Bill Day’s charming film contains candid conversations with The Doors’ Ray Manzerek, Jackson Browne, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and footage of Joni Mitchell, America, The Eagles, and many more. A Q&A with Bill Day and Henry Diltz follows.
Let Me Be Your Band, has been hailed as a joyous ode to the tradition of the one-man band. It’s a heart-pumping trek leading to the rockabilly sounds of Hasil Adkins, the punk-infused Delta Blues skronk of Bob Log, III, Eric Royer’s self-built five-piece bluegrass band, the haunting tones of the Lonesome Organist, Washboard Hank performing on his kitchen-sink tuba, and more. After the screening, filmmaker Derek Emerson will conduct a Q&A session.
Far Off Town: Dunedin to Nashville by Bridget Sutherland
Founding member of the seminal 1980s band The Clean and a legendary presence on New Zealand’s independent music scene for almost thirty years, Far Off Town follows David Kilgour on a 2003 trip to Nashville to make his record The Frozen Orange with alt country band Lambchop. It’s a fascinating glimpse into Kilgour’s creative process, featuring David’s travels from Lambchop frontman Kurt Wagner’s basement, to the recording studio of maverick producer Mark Nevers and the underworld haunts of the Nashville music scene.
Also performing in the film are The Clean and Kilgour’s other band The Heavy Eights. Strewn along his journey’s path are Yo La Tengo, Will Oldham, Billy Joe Shaver, Al Kooper, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot and David Berman (of The Silver Jews). Following the L.A. premier is a live solo set from Kilgour, plus a Q&A with filmmaker Bridget Sutherland, preceded by the short film, Madison Class Of ’64, from Sergi Rubio.
Saturday Special Events at The Silent Movie Theater
Don’t Knock The Rock presents these matinees combined with special workshops to be announced:
Saturday August 16
Sonic Youth: Sleeping Nights Awake by Michael Alrbight
In the summer of 2006, a group of seven Reno, NV high school students set out to make a documentary on Sonic Youth. As part of the non-profit organization “Project Moonshine”, the teens were given cameras and a few days training then set loose to record a day in the life of DKTR board members Sonic Youth. Shot on location in Reno on the 4th of July, this intimate verite documentary is a behind the scenes look at the influential indie band and contains insightful and candid concert footage ever recorded.
Sunday, August 31 Closing Night Film at Hollywood Forever
Showings are to be announced. Check in at DKTR for film and music workshops along with BMI special panel and guests.
Don’t Knock The Rock
Every Thursday night in July and August (and some Saturday Matinees)
The Silent Movie Theater
611 N. Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles 90036
For more information go to:
To purchase tickets visit:
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on May 26, 2008
This mention comes from the co-editor of the now past Harp Magazine. It’s been announced today that the late mag will return soon as Blurt Magazine.
They say that while the much beloved former is gone, the victim of market vicissitudes, the esteemed erstwhile editors are en route with the brand new, reorganized Blurt Magazine and Blurt-online. com.
They suggest that readers check back to the Harp MySpace page for details very soon, including how to become a Blurt Friend. Or you could just hang around here for the second-hand word.
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on May 6, 2008
Do you have anything personally or professionally newsworthy that you would like to let others know? How about running it by us so we might post it up?
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on April 24, 2008
Here’s a fun exercise in self-reflection. What can you say that you have accomplished in the past eight days let alone eight years? If thoughts of petty drug running, job loss and failed relationships came to mind you’re not alone, but for the sake of being adverse let’s take a look at one of ‘us’ who got back what he put forth with great effort.
Ivan Suvanjieff, as some recall as former Detroit Creemster, Mark J. Norton, has spent the past dozen years doing what some only see on Oprah: Dedicating himself to becoming an agent of positive social change. That is to say, Suvanjieff, after having the fortune of meeting some young people who had had a rough time of it, was so inspired to develop a mulit-dimentional program aimed at such a population.
The product was PeaceJam, an organization set up to empower youth by inspiring them to take an active interest in their environment, whether it be family, school, neighborhood our outer community, conducive to change. The PeaceJam organization is an international education program built around leading Nobel Peace Prize Laureates who work personally with youth to pass on the strength, spirit and skills they employ. The goal of PeaceJam is to create a new generation of peacemakers through educational outreach who will transform themselves, their communities and the world. Since the program was launched 12 years ago, in March of 1996, almost 40,000 teenagers worldwide have had the opportunity to participate.
And now it’s hit the big screen. PeaceJam, the documentary, follows the lives of five teens over a six year period as they face harsh realities of growing up in contemporary America, and as they work together with leading Nobel Peace Prize Laureates – including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, President Oscar Arias, Rigoberta Menchu Tum and the Dalai Lama, – to learn about peaceful solutions for leadership in their communities. Taken from over 500 hours of filmed interviews and field work, this documentary records their transformation into young people of purpose and conviction.
PeaceJam, which wrapped in 2003, contains footage of eleven leading Nobel Peace Prize Laureates working with youth in the USA, India, South Africa, Mezzo-America, and Costa Rica, with rare footage from inside Columbine High School both during and after the shootings.
The film, also in book form, has received accolades from Andrei Codrescu to Michael Moore and if that wan’t enough, Suvanjieff – along with his partner and wife, Dawn Engel, – has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by six of the eight laureates he acquired for his series. To find out more, visit the website and check back for an inevitable interview.
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on April 9, 2008
Ready to tackle some new depression with yet another article about the precarious state of the critic? Patrick Goldstein did just that yesterday in his Los Angeles Times column, The Big Picture: The End of the Critic. Culling sources ranging from his son to journalism students and other critics, he tackles multifaceted issues within the issue, namely the dearth of the print age, the rise of the blog and how crass commercialism can impact both.
Also discussed in the article is the role of the critic; elucidator versus arbiter of taste is a continuing theme, though it’s generally agreed upon that it’s the sharing of opinions that still matters. However the notion of critic’s ability to be honest while paying attention to their readers is still a confusing contradiction.
Surprisingly, an encouraging passage involved students who reveal themselves to be more discerning than one might think. Yet, reading through, one can find themself caught between concern about the state of writer’s opportunities and sheepish satisfaction at some of the more windbagier scribe’s decisions to opt out or move on.
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on March 17, 2008
This year’s SxSW Music Conference seemed promising enough; until Thursday, March 13th (might as well have been Friday) when word reached us that the glossy, Harp Magazine, was halting publication. While to some of the editorial staff, it didn’t come as a complete surprise, it was a shock nonetheless; one that rapidly reverberated down to other writers, publicists (who didn’t want to believe it at first, or second mention), and music journalism enthusiasts alike.
After receiving word via cel inside the Austin Convention Center from editor-in-chief Scott Crawford, managing editor Fred Mills, later emailed writers to break the news. Two Harp parties, which featured The Sadies and Golden Dogs along with Jay Mascis and Thurston Moore & the New Wave Bandits, were held on consecutive days and went on successfully, the staff hauling copies in for the public.
As for the matter of what turns out to be the final content, it looks like Dave Grohl gets the last word with his bid for the presidency in an Election 2008 Special.
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on February 25, 2008
Robert Christgau, of course otherwise known as the Dean of Rock Critics, will be editing the June 2008 edition of Perfect Sound Forever.
Needless to say, the folks there are pretty excited about the prospect of having the Dean serving as guest editor for the summer issue.
“We here at Perfect Sound Forever are very proud to be working with Robert Christgau on our June 2008 issue,” said Jason Gross, editor and main scribe. “So far, we’re mulling over the papers but I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve seen so far – this could be the next generation of music scribes.”
The Dean has been a longtime supporter of PSF, going from interview subject to contributor to editor (though, as Gross asserts, he likely won’t take the next step to become owner).
For this special issue, Christgau will select from his Princeton University class’ articles, many of which were final papers that the class submitted and cover a wide range of subjects (at this point is still being worked out). According to both Gross and Christgau, the promising young writers may turn out to be the next heralded generation of music journalists.
“Since PSF has long worked with up-and-coming wordsmiths, we’re also pleased to be giving these writers a forum and one of their first forays into the world of journalism,” adds Gross.
Yet, before that, the decision for Christgau to even take part was, according to him, very simple.
“I’ve taught a required music history and writing course for REMU, NYU’s Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, for four years, and also taught a course in cultural journalism at Princeton last fall,” the writer said by weekend email. He also shed some light into the student thought process.
“The REMU students usually don’t conceive themselves as writers, although every term one or two get the bug, and many more prove to be excellent writers once they’re shown how, with a special facility for describing music because a career in music is their life plan (and, quite often, music is their life). Most of my Princeton students were not music specialists, but I got a few good music papers there as well.
“Since some of this work taught me stuff, and much of it seemed much better than most of what I encounter online, I thought it would be cool to make the best of it available to the public, and Jason volunteered an issue of PSF for the purpose.”
But, Christgau shares that the process hasn’t been that even.
“There have been setbacks – lost manuscripts and files, students studying abroad, and in one case proprietary information that the student wasn’t supposed to use outside of an academic context. But we should have an issue, with topics ranging from pre-Stankonia OutKast and the metal band Killswitch Engage to Janet and Britney and The Hills, from the Shirelles to Cajun music. Still need to sort it out, but those are some candidates.”
Christgau graduated from Dartmouth University in 1962. While there, he explored his interests in jazz to rock. Ever the consumate east coaster, Christgau went on to writer for Playboy, Spin, aside from Creem. After teaching at the California Institute of the Arts, he became an adjunct professor in the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music at New York University (NYU).
Likewise, among other things, Perfect Sound Forever is the longest running and one of the most entertaining and successful online music publications.