Right from the get-go we understood the value of the demo process. It helps us attain a really good perspective on a song’s strengths, and possible flaws, as well as helping us save time/money once we hit the big studio, by knowing the songs inside and out before the clock (ka-ching!!) is running.
Often there’s a certain magic in those demos that can never be reproduced (many have tried, most failed), and that magic remains locked forever inside those demos. Sometimes, we would have more songs, or takes of songs, and those “extra” tunes would float around seemingly forever without ever finding a home.
These collections, RIGHT FOR JERRY VOLS.1 & 2 (now, who out there knows the source of the title??) compile what is essentially a shadow history, a parallel road, to the Del-Lords’ main event. You can start with Volume 1 and chronologically work your way through the history of The Del-Lords Mach 1. The two volumes stand as a summation of where we were at from 1982 – 1990. To the time machine, Mr. Peabody!
THESE ARE THE BEST DAYS
For me, these are the best days. The days, weeks, and month or two before the release of a new record, when all is possible, nothing is out of the question, and everything is up for grabs. The best days. Like the weeks before Opening Day, or the walk up the front steps to pick her up for that first date. High hopes and higher expectations! Or, if you’ve had your share of major hurts and disappointments, have seen the Gates Of Hell welcoming you once or twice, and/or have gone to bed unsure of a new day coming at all, then every new breaking dawn is that set of illimitable golden possibilities. I’m somewhere in between.
While I have certainly been knocked down once or twice – or thrice – by the music biz, in the long run I have proven to be either too tough, or perhaps (as others might suggest) too stupid, to stay down. I just keep coming back, and I keep trying harder, and harder still. But this day, right here and now, is a living metaphor for why I keep getting back up and in the game. These are the best days. No one has fucked up: not myself, not anyone on our team, and not anyone else whose hands will be getting their fingerprints on our record. Everything and anything that could go wrong has, to this point, yet to go wrong. The world is brand-new dime shiny, vibrating, alive and breathing. This actually could be the one! This really could be our year! Our best chance yet! It’s out there – I can feel it!! Actually, I do feel it! These are the best days.
For the first time since, I think, 1989 (or 1990?), there is a new Del-Lords record, ELVIS CLUB, about to hit the streets, and wave hello to the planet. I have been writing, posting, blogging, and talking about this record for a few years already, but I am actually holding a copy in my hands right now! Future-Now!
Yes friends, it took awhile (a true statement, which I am sure does not exactly constitute breaking news to our fans and friends – or to my wife, for that matter). But, with these exceedingly weird times as backdrop to a crumbling, hard to define, record industry, it is very difficult for a bunch of grown-ups to just put a month or two of their lives on hold to work on a record with complete tunnel-vision, doing nothing but work on that record – especially if your goal is to own the record (which is essential to us) yourselves. Those days are gone, friends. We did what we had to do. The record biz died of a self-inflicted wound that first occurred the day the very first record contract was signed. It was just a matter of time. And, that time has come.
But, while the recording process for ELVIS CLUB was spread out over a few years, we didn’t actually spend a ton of time recording or mixing, or even fretting. We recorded pretty quickly, actually – we being Frank, Eric and myself, and a handful of bass players taking over Manny’s old gig – certainly nothing ever felt labored or stagnant. Eric – in the role of producer for the first time regarding The Del-Lords – kept it all where it needed to be, and knew what needed to be done when, and came up with lots of great song arrangement ideas, too. He also kept the all-important Big Picture in sharp focus. Ideas were always in the air, with everyone throwing down in that regard. And, the execution was fast, whether it was a guitar part, percussion, vocal idea, or whatever – it took a few takes at the most, and that was it.
Playing together in the same room – as Cowboy Technical Services has no control room, ALL involved are in the room with the console – we were really able to play together, hearing and feeling it in a way that was a new recording studio experience for us. I still remember the instant connection I felt with Frank and Eric within the first couple of minutes of the very first time we played together back in 1982, and there it was again this time, right off the bat. That connection still remains, and is a wondrous thing between the three of us. This set-up really helped us double down on that feeling, stoke the fire, and keep that vibe heavy in the room.
A quick historical note (since I brought it up): the first time I ever played with Frank is also the first time I played with Eric, too. Coincidentally (fortuitously? cosmically?), they both auditioned for the band at once, AND at once, it was obvious, by which I mean IT was obvious – the band was born right there. For the record, it was the arrangement of FOLSOM PRISON BLUES that appears on our compilation cd, GET TOUGH, that was the first song we played.
Most of these songs were written over the course of what I call The Time of the Deep Descent and Eventual Soaring Ascent that sums up my life during the years 2008 to present. They are all from a big batch of songs I had written over the last five years, with a couple having been around for a longer while – songs whose time had suddenly come. Eric sent me this big fat and greasy Blues Rock lick that became YOU CAN MAKE A MISTAKE ONE TIME. EVERYDAY is one I originally wrote with my friend, Dion DiMucci, for what was then a screenplay for what was to be a Dion bio-pic, written and directed by Chazz Palmintieri. Neil Young’s SOUTHERN PACIFIC was a last minute idea of Eric’s, and it just immediately felt perfect, as it is a song we have been playing since the earliest days of the band, and that fit in well with the overall concept of this record, too.
Yes, the Concept. This time, the Concept is: No Concept. No concept, no theme – just a communiqué of what it feels like being in this band again. (It feels good (I knew that it would!)), and told in the language that is the actual, and particular, noise this band makes. Our language. These tracks tell you a lot about who we are, as individuals, and as a single entity. Throughout the record there is a very easy, not very self-conscious simpatico, a cohesiveness, from the big loud numbers through to the quieter ones. That is also what I meant when I described SOUTHERN PACIFIC as fitting in with the whole feel and concept of the record. It felt right to draw upon our own history for little talismans, totems, common references, and shared experience – like the album title itself (that story another time). We also picked up some of the more forgotten pieces of our own past and made sure that they got in the grooves, too. As Eric says, “This time the story IS the band!”
And, now the record is imminent. I wear an ear-to-ear smile these days. Every little thing is so good. My house is indeed a home and sanctuary, my one year-old artificial knee has completely changed my life for the better, I feel GOOD! And, the band, Elwood, THE BAND!!!! These are the best days. And, they’re about to get better.
“ELVIS CLUB” is in stores on the 14th of May, and out now on iTunes and Bandcamp. Pre-order the CD on the “store” page.
It’s an early foggy jet lagged Monday morning. I just got back from NYC a coupla nights ago, having left town with all the band overdubs complete. All the vocals complete. Just a piano overdub and some horns on one song, all to be played by friends of the band, remain. It’s a pretty amazing feeling. For 2 ½ years we’ve been working on this record bit by bit, as time and schedules and money would allow. What happens in the breaks, though, is nerve wracking – for me it is, anyway. It is really hard to listen to incomplete tracks. The anxiety and nervousness (is it just me?) that goes along with hearing your songs incomplete is overwhelming. It’s like, will my little song ever get the percussion and backing vocals it so deserves?? And if so, when? And, will it sound like it does in my head, or will that idea suck???? Is it too slow, or is it too fast – well, maybe a little of both??!!? Really nutso shit, I’m tellin’ ya! But, we are all, fans and bands alike, so trained to listening to finished product that it can be hard to “imagine” what it will sound like, even for us who make these things. You KNOW that little bit of percussion will correct any tempo doubts, but until it’s there, it’s too slow AND too fast! Imagining music is like hearing about a color or about someone else having sex. It’s just, “Whaaaat???? Huh??” You want to hear your record at the same level of quality and completeness as you hear your favorite records, your talismans, your food, air, and water.
So, for the better part of two years that was what I’d been feeling. (That’s why I had knee surgery, to calm me down.) But today, right now, I am feeling good, Jack! I have just finished all my parts, and the band has finished all its parts, and for the first time in twenty years The Del-Lords are about to have available a brand new album. And, I was there – for most of it. Eric though, he was there for all of it.
And, at this point, I want to thank Tim(bo) Hatfield, and Mario Viele, the engineers at Cowboy Technical Services Recording Rig, whose starting point was above and beyond the call of duty, and they never looked down or looked back. They were miracle workers, with such high level expertise that it could be practically invisible. And two great guys, too. Thank you, fellas.
I know I play for a very special band, and I love the noise we make. It’s probably my numero uno favorite noise, actually. I am extremely proud of this record, maybe more proud of it than anything else I’ve ever done. I do hope you dig it. Time to exhale.
So, I am going to go back in time here, and although I have told a more condensed version of this story before, think of this as a reissue/remaster – with bonus tracks. It seems like the right time to tie up this phase of the re-emergence of The Del-Lords:
Yes, unfinished business is what the new Del-Lords record is all about. When we were making records in the 80’s, we were a band out of time. If for no other reason (and there were other reasons) than, in an age of synth bands and New Wave leftovers, we were a guitar band – with the 80’s being particularly unkind to guitars. All those crappy reverbs and shit were seemingly designed to make your guitar sound exactly like you would never want it to. And, we took guitars very seriously, we did. Even guitar hero, Neil “Spyder” Giraldo, our producer, was hamstrung by the demands of radio at the time, and he, having been hired with the sole purpose of turning in a hit record, by somehow getting one out of us – and nothing less would do. Hey, we did the best we could!
All through this period my guitar brother, Eric “Roscoe” Ambel had been not so quietly forming opinions on all these aspects of our records, and the general state of guitar records, in general. After a bit, Eric’s opinions started to become a philosophy, one that was being given vindication by what we weren’t achieving in the studio. Eric had plenty of ideas he wanted a chance to try out, and this he did, first with other artists, including local boys, The Clintons, as well as The World Famous Blue Jays, and even a Nils Lofgren record on which he got to produce Neil Young himself. But, he never got his chance to produce us the way he wanted to hear us. Then the band broke up and it was all water under the bridge.
But, all these years later, Eric is a well-known and terrific producer, specializing in the kind of bands and artists with whom we would have shared print space back in the 80s for being in a similar musical bag. His records sounded just like he always said he wanted them to sound, live, exciting, and present, and they all sounded just great. As for those guitars, they went from the 80s’ two-dimensional vibe, plus reverb, to a three-dimensional, fully tactile creature of some heft, with teeth. So, here we are taking care of that unfinished business, with Eric at the helm of the new Del-Lords record.
We are not co-producing it – Eric is in charge. For me, having just come off a solo record where I played all the guitars and made all the decisions, I couldn’t be happier with this arrangement. I certainly did not want to make another solo album, and with me writing pretty much all the songs, and singing most of them, as well, the danger of falling into another solo record vibe was a real one. But, this way, I write them, we all arrange them, and Eric has final say on everything. This time around he also played almost every one of the leads throughout, and that too helps give it a much different character than had I done them, or even some of them. It has worked out great. I am more thrilled about this record than anything I’ve ever done before, and this arrangement has turned out to be a primary reason for my enthusiasm.
Of course, there’s Frank. Frank is a brother, a player, a singer, and a student of drums. Every time I see him he’s added some dazzling new moves to his bag of rhythmic tricks. His drum sound is among the most musical I’ve ever heard, and that is something that is in his hands, and not in the gear we use to record him. Everyone has contributed many ideas to the songs, and we’ve used almost all of them, again, giving it more of a band vibe. And that vibe is the heart, soul and nerve center of who we are and why we sound the way we sound when we play together. It sounds just like us, and no one else. I have played with Frank more than with any other drummer, and there have been some damn good ones, like JP Patterson in The Dictators, but something special happens to my songs when it’s us playing them.
To all this, we have added Mike DuClos, or Duke as we call him. It is a tough fit around here. The three of us are airtight, so to squeeze in requires the absolute right guy, and Duke is that. He’s a tremendous player, a total fucking wise-ass, and (I love saying this) he’s played with Pete Townshend & Buddy Hackett (can I get an Amen?), and has just the right vibe to make us whole again. Our fans will have a treat in store when they see & hear Duke. Of course, Duke steps into some big shoes, those of Manny Caiati, who bowed out of the band last year. Manny was a founding member and that is a huge thing in and of itself. At one point The Del-Lords were just Manny and me! But, in spirit, Manny is always gonna be a part of this band, if not part of the day-to-day. That remains. Onward and Upward.
And, as I recall, this record actually started as a solo album. Back in 2008,I was speaking with Eric about possibly doing a duo tour of Spain. I had just been over with The Dictators, and SAVING GRACE, my second solo album, was about to be released. I was speaking to Pepe, our promoter (both Dictators & Del-Lords promoter since back in the 80’s) about coming over to support my record. He said he would be happy to book it for me, but he wanted me to know that of course, it would not be for as much money as if we billed it as The Del-Lords. But, knowing THAT wasn’t gonna happen, I was willing to take my chances using just Eric’s and my name. This was if I could even get Eric to do it.
So, I’m on the horn telling all this to Eric, and we’re just catchin’ up, bullshittin’, talkin’ trash, spendin’ cash, the usual. And, Eric was into the duo idea and we left it at that. In speaking again with Pepe, I told him it would in fact be Eric and me. A few days later Pepe calls me from Madrid. He’s been thinking this over. He says, in effect, that Eric and me on acoustic guitars, “is ok, but its not The Del-Lords reunion he’s been waiting twenty years for” (turns out the two bands I’ve been in are Pepe’s two favorite bands of all time!! Go figure, hah?!!?), and he’s taking this very seriously. He’s been thinkin’, ya see. He says if Frank could do it, great. He understands Manny probably won’t be able to do it, but given the twenty-year gap, as long as it’s Eric and me, we can call it The Del-Lords. And, he knows just the right drummer if Frank can’t do it. Pepe’s been doin’ some thinkin’, ya see.
This is a tough one for me. I do truly believe in the sanctity of “the band” (no, not The Band, our band!) and I have to think about this. I think that maybe since I wrote most of our songs, and given all the time that’s gone by, and how busy Frank was, that I might just have to do this with a new drummer. A scary and unpleasant prospect, indeed. I tell all this to Eric, who agrees it would be ok, under these circumstances, to use the name even if Frank is not there. But, he says, let’s at least call Frank, as well as Manny. So, I call Frank and explain my predicament. I reiterate that of course he’s the real Del-Lords drummer, and that of course, he is still, just like for the last thirty years, the first guy I think of in every musical thing I do. As for Frank? He plays the drums, ya see.
Frank is remarkably understanding. There’s the money thing, there’s the time-gone-by thing, there’s his schedule with Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven, and there’s the, “Ya gotta do what ya gotta do” thing. He’s good with it. For about twenty-four hours, that is. Then the phone calls start. Now, Frank’s been thinkin’, ya see. Frank: “There’s no way anybody else is ever sitting in that drum seat!!! There’s no way anyone else is playing as a member of The Del-Lords!!!! There’s no way!!!” I get the feeling that there’s just no way. It reminds me of when Frank first auditioned for the band back in 1982. First of all, as fate would have it, Frank and Eric auditioned at the same time. This is true. It was a Monday and auditions were just starting, and first up Frank and Eric. Well, THAT was easy! It was instant! We have our band! But, every night for a week, as auditions dragged on and on (there were some forty drummers we had arranged to try out) Frank would call me. The phone would be ringing off the hook when I walked in the door (remember, no cell phones yet), asking me in a completely rhetorical way, “You haven’t found anyone better than me, right? You know I’m the guy, right?” Ok, I won’t keep you in suspense any longer – Frank WAS the guy. Back to 2009. So, that’s how what might have been another solo album set in motion the first Del-Lords record in twenty three years.
The other thing was Eric sending me a new Chip Robinson record he had just produced. I really dug it, and I loved the way it sounded, too. Lots of space, lots of song. Eric had always had this philosophy of going for live ensemble playing when recording, especially for small combo rock’n’roll. A very cool, spacious, guitar/bass/drums/vocals-centric live recording. And, a hot live recording was exactly what i thought I was listening to. I called Eric back to tell him that I loved this record, and I especially loved the production. I was real surprised when Eric informed me it was constructed bit by bit, overdub by overdub, with Eric himself playing drums on some songs. He explained how he had Chip lay down an acoustic guitar and vocal track to a drum machine track, thereby creating a “map” of the song from which to work. He added that the reason he had sent me that record was he figured I probably had some songs that would lend themselves to that type of recording. Well, he figured right. Within a coupla months I was in NYC to start laying down maps of a dozen or so songs. This turned out to be the first baby steps of this new Del-Lords record.
It has taken a while as no one was paying for it, or for us to take a month off everything else in order to block out the time to record. So, with Eric keeping it all together, over the next two years, on a hit and run basis, we recorded a new record. All the overdubs are now done, mixing and mastering awaits, and then it will be available.
The working title is SILHOUETTES ON THE SHADE.
The working sequence is:
- CHICKS, MAN!
- WHEN THE DRUGS KICK IN
- ALL OF MY LIFE
- ME AND THE LORD BLUES
- LETTER (UNMAILED)
- YOU CAN MAKE A MISTAKE ONE TIME
- SOUTHERN PACIFIC
These are all songs I’ve written, except EVERYDAY, which is a co-write with Dion, MAKE A MISTAKE, a co-write with Eric, and SOUTHERN PACIFIC, written by Neil Young.
A long story told the long way. It is quite remarkable looking back to that conversation with Pepe in the Bilbao airport, on our way home from what turned out to be the last Dictators gig to feature the original four members. Who knew? I was already focused on SAVING GRACE being released, and wanting to come back to Spain to play. But, that conversation turned out to be the fulcrum upon which my life turned inside out and upside down – in a good way. I can tell you that one thing I was NOT thinking of was a new Del-Lords record, and/or a Del-Lords tour of Spain! Yet, if I could have just sat back at that moment and closed my eyes and thought about it, I mean, really thought about it, and I could lay out the next couple of years in my head, and have it all come true, I still would not have imagined anything near as great as what, fours years down the old highway, I actually have now. Married to Sharon (finally!!), got a brand new knee (fuck you, pain!), and The Del-Lords WITH a brand new record!! Sign me up!
Things are good. No, things are great! In my personal life, I am about to marry a woman whom I have dated sporadically, as well as briefly, yet it was over a period of some 35 years. Got that? When I say occasionally, well I said, sporadically – same thing – I mean, about a dozen times over those 35 years. We would then lose track of each other for great lengths of time. This last time we had not seen each other or spoken a word to each other in almost eight years! Then suddenly we were thrown together for what has so far been two very happy years. (See kids, this is how Life works sometimes!) And now, Good God A-Mighty, we’s a-gettin’ hitched! There’s a lesson in there, friends– probably several lessons, as well as a helluva story, in fact, none of which I am going to get into at this time or in this place, however. And, that’s because there is Del-Lords activity a-plenty to get to.
Where to start, where to start? Ok, first things first: Duke aka Michael DuClos is officially the new member of the band. He will be taking Manny’s old position, playing the bass as Manny had done since before the beginning. But Manny is no longer able to stay involved on a regular basis, as he is doing good work, important work, that needs someone with Manny’s heart, soul and intelligence to get that job done right. So, while Manny will always be a part of this band, there has been a changing of the guard in the day-to-day.
Duke is a natural fit. It just fell into place with him quickly and painlessly. His personality, his considerable skill, and sense of humor, has been a real shot in the arm. Plus, (I just can’t stop saying this — it’s that amazing!) Duke is the only person alive who has worked with both Pete Townshend AND Buddy Hackett!! This is true! We just finished the final two basic tracks for the record last week, with Duke on board. So, the basics are done, we now turn full time to the details: backing vocals, some guitars, maybe some percussion, a little this, a little that, and whatever other little touches will help this baby shine, roar, and stand out from the pack once it’s out of the garage and out on the street.
Let me tell you, it’s no small thing to be at this point of the record. We’ve done it completely on the resources at our disposal; first and foremost, the band itself being back together, everyone being all in on this thing of ours, our own La Cosa Nostra, for no other band or individuals could do this thing we – Frank, Eric, myself, and now Duke – do quite as we do it, and that, mis amigos, remains the point of the whole shebang does it not? .
What’s left to say about Roscoe? Well, whether I’ve said it before, or you’re hearing it for the first time, stay cool, it bears repeating. Eric “Roscoe” Ambel, he of the many skills and vision needed, not to mention the studio, to produce this record, to take the vision and run with it, but to also know the ins and outs and brass tacks of what that ACTUALLY requires. Plus, at the same time, he’s a full-on performing member of the band, making his hat switching just that much more of a daredevil, high-wire stunt. You could forgive him if one of these duties took a backseat in order to focus on another, but Eric is working them all at a consistently, astonishingly high level. His playing, singing and arranging is on the same par as his considerable producing skills.
Of course, there’s Frank. I remember the day we first met (it was coincidentally the same time I met Eric) and Frank had a sort of wound too tight, edgy, friendly aggressiveness that is usually a hallmark of a great drummer, as it was this time, too. Frank’s musical taste at that time ran the full range from AC/DC to Black Sabbath, and then right back again. But, within months of being in the band, Frank was digesting Louis Armstrong, Hank Williams, Benny Goodman, the Blues, and The Beatles. Now, he’s got it all, and plenty more, stored in his noggin, and he carries it all in his back pocket into every musical situation. An encyclopedia of rhythmic choices is what he can whip out on the spot. To know that he is back there is one of the few things I have learned I can actually count on in this dirty old world. And, oh yeah, he sings great, too. And, like Eric, Frank is my brother. Ten lifetimes of shared experience has forged and tightened that bond a little more each and every day.
And now, with Duke, we are once again whole. When this record is done (should be done in February), it will be released in the Spring on GB Records, run by the great rock’n’roll lifer, fan, friend and patron, Gary Borress. Gary is a man constantly burdened by great, constructive, and realistic plans, as well as a passion for the music that is another basic Del-Lords requirement. We have finalized our deal with Gary, and both he and the band are excited and optimistic about pretty much everything. Yes, things are good. No, make that great!
We did play a coupla shows while I was in town last week. One was at the Lakeside Lounge, which was a total blast. There were friends old and new, and the band found a new, higher gear, stepped on the clutch, and let it ride. Then we played a great house concert at Dan and Liz Boudin’s place in Rhode Island. It was one of my favorite shows we’ve ever done. It was tight, it was loose (way loose), it was rockin’, and the audience was a solid wall of raving, excitable, knowledgeable, and attentive music fans, which is a decidedly different vibe than the feel of a club or festival audience. While a club or festival audience going nuts is great, this too is great, although in a very different way. It is exciting, but there is also a dominant Music as Art factor, an intimate communication, and an undiluted love of music that rules the general feel of the night.
I feel like I gotta mention the Occupy Wall Street movement, which is really dominating the spotlight back in NYC at this moment. Firstly, I am incredibly energized by it, in and of itself, as well as the way it has been catching fire here and there throughout the country. One thing that becomes instantly apparent when you talk to folks who are down there, or listen to them when a reporter sticks a mike in their face, or through some other instant media have suddenly found themselves owning that spotlight for a moment themselves, of ACTUALLY being heard, is that this is not about anything as infantile, or as moronic as “hating the rich”, or “hating money”, etc. Who falls for this shit, anyway? There are lots of issues here: Greed, Big Business and its role in our Democracy, Crime (fraud, insider trading, conspiracy to commit a felony or two or three, etc), the disappearance of the middle class, outrageous inequity, and Fairness in a very broad and very real sense), but the underlying principle that connects them all, at least for me, is accountability. Yes, accountability, as in transparency, investigation, and, if necessary, if you broke the Law, too — on your way to blowing up 20% of the country’s accumulated wealth since we first became a country — for your own personal gain — prosecution. Yep, a fair trial and a fair hangin’. Consider it a crime deterrent.
So, I am now back in California, got the new Beach Boys’ SMiLE Sessions box, something I’ve only been waiting for since my Bar Mitzvah, and it was well worth the wait. It’s on constant replay, although I took some time to check out the latest rough mixes from the Del-Lords album, and yes, they do sound great. And, next week Sharon and I get married. My bro, Neil Giraldo, is gonna be my witness. It will be at one of Neil and my favorite haunts, an Italian joint, just off the beach, around sunset, so we will hopefully have that as a backdrop when the vows are made. And, then the future awaits. Big changes. AND, a soundtrack comes with it.
DEL-LORDS DIARY SEPTEMBER 2011
Back just about a week now from a week in NYC, followed by a four day commando raid on Espana, followed by another week in NYC to do some more work on the new Del-Lords record. In between, saw some friends, family, my girlfriend Sharon came to town for a long weekend, which itself included the first show with new bass player, Duke, three amazing meals and a hurricane. Yes, we were there for the hurricane. Hey, I was there for the earthquake, too!
Got there on a Sunday, and after a day to kick around the Village, it was rehearsals. First rehearsal: We were using a bass player other than Manny Caiati for the first time since the band went from being Me to being We. Manny was the first person in this world to think my songs were good, and that maybe I had something to offer, so this was a big deal. But, onward and upward. It was also during this rehearsal that the earthquake hit. As a testament to the band, no one noticed it. So, it was a dramatic change, heralded by an actual earthquake, but luckily it could have not have gone more smoothly, or any easier. A friend of Frank’s, Michael DuClos, was stepping into the breach. Frank said he was real good, but this was one of those times in life when you end up feeling happily, and surprisingly, undersold. Duke, as he quickly and forever more became named, was fantastic – he played great, sang great, was one sarcastic motherfucker, and had worked with Pete Townshend AND Buddy Hackett! No either or situation here. No pick and choose. No, sirree, Pete and Buddy both!
We had three rehearsals, and then on the eve of what was to be the first show, more news of the impending hurricane hit, and despite the flesh and soul being willing, the weather just would not cooperate. We were to play a super fun outdoor house concert. BBQ for a coupla hundred folks, but the weather had made other plans. The transit system was to be shut down due the approaching hurricane, as were any highways when winds reached a sustained 60mph, and winds of up to 100mph were being predicted. We stayed home.
So, the first gig was at Eric’s own Lakeside Lounge, and it was just great. The Lakeside is always a fun gig, with a great on-stage sound (designed by Roscoe himself), and an intimacy that is always inspirational. Some first time mistakes, but overall a barn burner, with some old faces, some new ones and a good time was had by all. Duke lost his Del-Lords cherry that night, and I believe he dug it. We were off to the races.
Then, off to Spain to play the Turborock Festival, which is kind of an alternative type festival, with the bands being all a bit to the left of the mainstream – not unlike myself. It involved two sets of bands (you can check the poster that is still here on our website) that would travel as a package tour, and criss-cross each other with one set of bands playing Benidorm one night and Santander the next, and then visa versa.
Now, one thing about Spain is how a big part of it seems to exist in its own orbit, its own era, and the rest of the world be damned. While the super groups are huge in Spain, there is this large, thriving, ravenous sub-culture that loves American music, from 60’s Garage to 70’s Punk to Americana, and the Del-Lords being a bit of all three get in under the wire, too. The Dictators also had their biggest, most enthusiastic audiences in Spain. It’s a bit of a mystery but one doesn’t look a gift horse too closely in the mouth, does one?
We arrived tired as fuck at 7:30 am Madrid time, and it’s off to pick up Urge Overkill and our friends from NYC, D-Generation. Together we traveled via nightliner (not one of those big shiny American ones, but a more ancient – though clean – European one) the six hours to Benidorm, with the only bus driver in Europe with no GPS. Eventually this meant (too) many stops for the driver to ask any old Jose Shmose on the street if he knew where our hotel was. It was just this close to funny. But, not quite. The hotel was a tad funky, no all-important wi-fi (but if you went out by the pool you might be able to pick up the wi-fi from the nice hotel next door. This is true!), then back to the gig, which had been moved inside due to the wet weather. This pushed everything back an hour or two, including food and sleep. The food part ended up consisting of a deli tray eating sandwiches with meat and vegetables of unknown origin that we all hunched over for some sustenance. Let me tell you, I have been to Spain many times, way more than enough to know there is amazing food in this country almost everywhere you turn – except here. Got back to the hotel around midnight after watching Jesse Malin’s solo set, which I loved, playing our own set, and catching some of Urge Overkill, who were also great, until I needed to lie down. Soon.
So, I laid down at midnight to wait for my 3am (!!!) wake up call. Sleep never came, but the wake up call, THAT came. Down in the lobby we all went back to the venue to pick up The Nightliner From Eons Past for the twelve (12!) hour ride to Santander. I slept on this one for awhile but it wasn’t “real” sleep, it was that road sleep, where you’re never quite relaxed, you wonder if every bump is the driver falling asleep at the wheel and you’re the next Cliff Burton, and you finally go down to the lounge (the beds were all on the second level), where Howie Pyro of D Generation is wide awake and en pointe. Howie had been too nervous to sleep much at all, so he sat down behind the driver making sure the fucker was still awake. Actually, hanging out with my old friend Howie was one of the highlights of the trip for me. We had a great time shooting much shit, and talking much trash. We talked about our first concert experiences, how The Dictators had played Howie’s Junior High School in what must have been 1974, and this, that, and, of course, the other. Howie has become a world conquering DJ specializing in those awesome rock’n’roll records even most fanatics have never heard of, and he has his own radio show, Intoxica Radio online, and it too is a blast. Check it out!
Santander is a beautiful town, as was the hotel. After the twelve hour sojourn, at the venue, we were greeted by one of the promoters from Heart Of Gold (who I must say did a great job, were very cool, smart, energized & organized), who quickly said to me, “Del-Lords, yes?” “Uh, yes”. “OK, you stay here now, and go to hotel after the show”. To which I very courteously and patiently explained that this was indeed incorrect, as I was going to the hotel right this very minute, and although I could be ready to return in forty five minutes, now, I would be going to the hotel immediately if not sooner. So, off to the hotel we went. And, forty-five minutes later we were on the three minute drive back to the venue. This time I saw everyone else on the bill: Jesse – great again; The Buzzcocks – uh, nevermind; Urge – really really good, engaging, solid and rockin’; and D-Generation, who I thought were better than ever, and should consider staying together. Our show was a huge blast. The band sounded exponentially better than the night before – our second gig together - I only wish we would have had a next night. I felt really comfortable and at ease, and had a great time with the audience, as I was just coasting on the band’s sound & drive. The set was a tidy one hour affair.
The setlist was:
- True Love
- How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live?
- Jumpin’ In The Night
- Judas Kiss
- About You
- I Play The Drums
- Get Tough
- I’m Gonna Be Around
- Southern Pacific
It was, as always, a great feeling to be part of this band, listening to that sound, feeling that locked-in groove, and just being to concentrate on the audience, knowing the band was like a steel fist, tough and tight. It was a hot show, and the audience was fantastic. After the show, it was back to the hotel for our first sit down meal (Praise The Lord!), which got me back to my room by midnight or so, with a wake-up call coming at 3:30am. And, at 3:30am, it came.
This time it was to take the nightliner back to Madrid for a day off before heading back to the U.S.A., well, NYC to be exact. We were all looking forward to the day off, as we had been to Madrid over a dozen times, loved the city, and knew our way around pretty good. However, the day off was to be at the same hotel, where we had first met up with D Generation, Urge Overkill, and Matthew Sweet and his band (which included my good pal, power pop purveyor, Jan & Dean loving, drummer extraordinaire, Ric Menck). The hotel was fine, but located right by the airport in a spot that was like staying underneath the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn. Not much of a day off, but I did get to Skype with Sharon – something we did several times – and at the risk of sounding like a rube from way back in the 1990’s, this was an amazing treat, this Skype business. Talking for as long as we wanted for free while getting to look at my baby’s beeyootiful face – this is a very good thing.
The next morning it was back to NYC, and some more work on the record. The record is really starting to take shape, and in October I will go back to NYC to record the final two tracks for it. One will be a cover that I won’t divulge just yet, but I do have to thank the eternally young Rock’n’Roll Goddess, and the most to-the-point drummer of all time, and one half of the KICKS/Norton Records team (along with her husband The Mighty Billy Miller), Miriam Linna, for the inspiration. The other tune will probably be snatched from the grab bag of songs I have sitting around waiting to be pressed into service.
After a week of summer in the city before the trip to Spain, enjoying hot, but not brutal weather, walking around, eating great food, watching home town Yankees broadcasts (you have no idea how much I miss watching games with the YES Network announcers, who are like friends to me, especially out in California), on our return to town the humidity had set in, and being outside was like being in a hot shower. But, hey, nobody moves to NYC for the weather! Thursday, we were in the studio, and Eric & I did a little recording, some brain storming, and some work on the vocals & guitars, with each new addition bringing the songs closer to being a shiny finished artifact. I think we’re all excited by how well this thing is coming along, and the diversity in the songs we’ve chosen, and a general consensus that this is the best thing we’ve ever done. I think a lot of people are gonna be pleasantly surprised.
None of us have rested in the years between Del-Lords activity, and everyone brought a lot more to the table this time. I never understood musicians who don’t continually improve, and are not completely dedicated to getting better everyday. Plus, and I know I go on about this every time I write a new blog, but Eric has become a fantastic producer, bringing every bit of his musicality, taste, expertise, and dedication to the cause to everything we do. I have never felt more comfortable, more confident, and had more fun than this record has been. I especially enjoy the times we get to set up and play as a band. Sometimes I feel like Frank is getting better right in front of my eyes and ears. Again, I know I say this a lot, but I am a very lucky guy. More than anything, I am especially lucky that I have the ability to write songs these guys wanna play.
So, in a few weeks, it’s back into the fray, to get another big chunk of the record done, and get this baby out for the new year. That’s about it for now. I just wanted to catch up with everybody. On behalf of the band I wanna thank all of you who have been so supportive and encouraging, as well as being so enthusiastically anxious for this record. Your support is the fuel in the tank of this hot rod. You will be hearing from us, and hopefully seeing us shortly. In the meantime, take care of each other, things are looking uncertain out there on the horizon. See ya out there on the Great Highway.
DEL-LORDS SPRING 2011 COMMUNIQUE
I’m back in California, fresh, well, sorta, off an eight day trip back to the city of my birth. I say, “well, sorta” because I now have an annoying head cold, accompanied by some rather unpleasant chest congestion. It could be due to the barefoot (I fucking hate that, and I don’t mean he was wearing socks, just his ugly bare feet, ugh) asshole sitting across the aisle from me on the flight, who besides wheezing and coughing almost non-stop for the entire flight and pounding back Alka-Seltzer Cold Shit, refused to turn off his cell phone even when the official “Please turn off all electronic devices” call came, instead hiding it when one of the flight attendants came through. Now, I don’t know what the “electronic devices” interfere with, but I also know I don’t wanna find out. Something in me refused to allow me to snitch, but I did wanna smack him across his smug Modern Dad mug. Man, did he bug me! Barefoot fuckhead! Anyway, how are you? That’s good. Good to hear.
The main mission was more work on the upcoming Del-Lords record, which I am happy to report went just great. Five more tracks for us to build upon, and that brings the total to ten. I figure a few more and we’re there. We recorded out at Cowboy Technical Services, Roscoe’s studio in Williamsburg. It has to be my favorite place I’ve ever recorded, on a par in a different way, to the late great Coyote Studios, where we all worked extensively during its lifetime and which, in fact, started out of our old rehearsal space in the Music Building on 8th Avenue, just south of the Port Authority. Cowboy Technical Services has a great vibe, great sound, and everything is just as you would want it but would normally need at least two days to get it that way before you play one note.
Frank just keeps getting better and better. I have learned that when the question goes out about which song we wanna work on next, if Frank has an opinion, go with it. It means he’s thought it through and he’s gonna nail it before you know what hit you. He was spectacular. Plus, he always brings cookies! The tracks we recorded were DAMAGED, YOU CAN MAKE A MISTAKE ONE TIME (title might get shortened), LETTER (UNMAILED), CHICKS, MAN! & EVERYDAY.
EVERYDAY is a song I wrote with Dion back when there was a proposal on the table for a bio pic of him in the works, with a screenplay by Chazz Palminteri, and Chazz as director, as well. The song was written for the scene when they get to the hotel the next morning in Moorhead, Minnesota, where they all learned of the fatal plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, & The Big Bopper on the Winter Dance Party tour of 1959. Everyone is in a state of shock, and Dion, who was entrusted with Buddy’s guitar (Buddy had told Dion, “Take care of it like you take care of your testicles”, to which Dion thought, “I never heard it put that way before, but I knew what he meant”) opens the case, and in his haze starts strumming it, trying to remember that song, EVERYDAY, that Buddy had played the night before. Not being able to clearly remember it, this song is what came out. Some dramatic license, to be sure, but it’s a heartfelt song of friendship.
MISTAKE is a song I wrote based on a great Eric Ambel riff that sounds a bit like what Led Zeppelin would have sounded like if they were actually American. Oh, and with me singing. Use your imagination. I can tell you that the marriage of the song and Eric’s newly acquired Les Paul reissue was a match made in Guitar Heaven.
DAMAGED is a down the middle Del-Lords style rocker. I once heard someone say that it’s gotten so the first thing I ask a girl when I meet her is, “Hi, what did your daddy do to you’? It stuck with me, and I thought it would be a fun idea to build a love song around. Something about it reminds me of NRBQ, musically at least. They’re one of my all-time favorite bands, and Terry Adams is a friend of mine. In fact, I saw him a few months ago up in San Fran with his new band, who are fucking awesome and a worthy successor to the now defunct, after 40+ years, NRBQ.
LETTER (UNMAILED) is a vow of love that I never got to speak to someone who probably would not have reacted favorably to it anyway. I put it in a letter and it remains unmailed. I think I wrote this almost 20 years ago. Yes, the romantic side of the Del-Lords.
CHICKS, MAN! is a frantic rock’n’roll song based on a country blues lick and amped up to (at least) 11. Breakneck speed and guitars, guitars, guitars. Kinda Punk Blues, perhaps. Lyrics are kinda funny, unless you’ve lived through this, then it’s like SPINAL TAP was to Steven Tyler, “Man, that movie was not funny, not fucking funny at all!!!” Got me?
Eric did another fantastic job arranging, playing and producing, with all his ideas advancing the songs and upping their impact. His overview was and is essential, and for me, as the main writer, Eric gives me more confidence than perhaps I deserve, but I sure do need it to be able to do my job. What a great musician he is.
Thanx to our old pal, Steve Almaas, who played some bass, although a family emergency called him away before we could complete more than one track with him this time around. I actually first met Steve in Minneapolis when his band, The Suicide Commandos and The Dictators shared a bill the night the news of Elvis Presley’s death broke. I believe it was August 17th, the night after his actual passing. An unforgettable night. But, Eric called on Jason Mercer, who came in the next day and was fantastic on those low notes, and we were able to nail another four songs with him. Thanx to both you guys for your great work and presence. A big hand, and a loud shout-out has to go to the great Mario Viele, who engineered, caught every note we dropped, and answered the call above and beyond his already daunting task. Thank you, Mario.
As always, it was just great being with Frank and Eric again, as we have such a strong, unshakable bond, and a shared sense of humor, that exemplifies why it’s called “playing” music, and not “working” music. It fills the heart and soul and I am our biggest fan. There is no one on Earth I would rather make music with, and that feeling only grows as time goes on. Don’t think for one second I don’t know how lucky I am just to know them, let alone have them play my songs. I am really excited and adrenalized about the new record, the band’s new lease on life, and the future. I have a real pet peeve about musicians who DON’T get better with age and experience (they shall remain nameless), and I can assure you that is NOT the case with Frank and Eric. They were always great but now are exponentially greater. I mean, getting older has to count for something, fer cryin’ out loud! As a result, I have no doubt this record will be the best thing we’ve ever done. Can’t wait to get this thing out to you guys.
If you wanna hear more about the prodigal son’s most recent return home (yes, there’s more), check out my forthcoming blog on my own site, scottkempner.com. In the meantime, be well, stay strong, and remember we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, no matter what you might hear out there to the contrary.
Baby, It Was Cold Outside
After two consecutive flight cancellations due to insane weather patterns that are in no way the result of any kind of climate change, as weren’t the 149 mph winds in Australia, the largest snow storms and accumulations ever in NYC, Chicago, Texas (!!??) and elsewhere. No, of course not. And, don’t let the melting glaciers now wreaking havoc in Alaska, home of what’s her fuckin’ face, nor the fact that we just completed the warmest ten year span in history, worry you none. It’s all good. By the way, wanna buy a bridge while you’re not being worried or concerned about these developments?
But, I don’t wanna talk about that. What I wanna do is fill you in on the pilgrim’s progress. I just got back from the land of my birth, where I celebrated yet another birthday I am fortunate enough to have still been alive for, saw friends and family, well, a few of them anyway, for the main purpose of my trip was to get some more work done on the new Del-Lords album. Thanx to you all in advance for being so patient about all this, and thanx in advance for hanging in there with us while we get this baby ready for delivery.
We now have some seventeen songs to work from that I’ve either written or co-written, and we are looking at being out there playing, WITH the new record in tow, this Fall.
It was, as always, great to see Eric and Frank, as we, in the words of Bud Abbott to his little partner Costello, “went back to the rooming house to make plans for our future”. The plan is of course world domination because, as always, we like to aim high. But, a record that people really dig and lots of sweaty fully rocked audiences is what we will settle for. Modesty as always is our currency.
Last time I talked about Manny no longer being able to be part of the everyday doings of the band, as the awesome responsibilities of family and the good work he does in his civilian life have come to bear heavily upon him. So, it is with his spirit on our collective shoulder that we think we might have found a replacement for the Del-Lord duties Manny can no longer perform. It is a very talented old friend of whom I am referring and that is, as always, an important factor in how we do what the hell it is we do. I don’t wanna reveal any names at this point, just in case, you know. Don’t wanna jinx anything. But hopefully, by the next time you hear from me it will be settled, the contracts signed, the blood oath taken, and then we can all get a bite to eat.
Stay warm, Spring is coming, and we are not far behind.
Happy New Year to one and all. Here’s hoping the new year finds you all well and swell. This is gonna be a good year, I predict. At least, by Del-Lords standards. In a coupla weeks I head back to NYC to do some more work on the record we began last year. There is however one big change. From this day forward we proceed without Manny. Eric, Frank and I remain resolute and en point, but we must now do it without the services of Manny Caiati.
Manny has a very full plate, doing remarkable work we’re all real proud of, practicing family law in Houston, with particular attention to cases and situations involving children at risk. Tough, sometimes heartbreaking work, but also rewarding and vitally important. The world does need do-gooders, and Manny fits that bill. Besides his wife, Cassie and their two boys, Jeremy and Christopher, there’s now two young ‘uns that they have adopted. Yes, a full plate, indeed.
We have Manny’s blessings, as he has ours, and spiritually he will always be a part of this, as he has since the very beginning. Once upon a time there was an insecure, shy, songwriter, unsure of his worth, and even more unsure of the worth of the songs he had been writing over the previous year or so. Yeah, that was me. Then, along comes Manny Caiati, and Me becomes We. The Del-Lords were born at that moment, even if it still took another year or so to find Frank and Eric, thereby cementing the bond that we have found still holds to this day. Manny provided the companionship, a shared passion, the belief in me that I didn’t quite allow myself to that point, and he also had abilities as a bass player, a producer and an engineer, and a shared vision of what rock’n’roll was/is and needed to be. Without Manny, who knows if the Del-Lords ever happen at all. His support and talent and friendship has been one quarter of what this engine has always run on, and the Del-Lords will forever be touched and informed by his contributions, and although we carry on without him, as is the only option for us, Manny can never really be replaced. We are forever bound by shared experience. And, to once more quote the great philosopher, The Outlaw Josey Wales, “I rode with him, and I have no complaints”.
I’ve been working on a few things, including the reissue of my first solo record, TENEMENT ANGELS, recorded with America’s best kept rock’n’roll secret, The Skeletons a while back, and unavailable for about a month less than that. Thanx to my pal, Gary Borress, the Cool Rockin’ Daddy G, we got an LP, a cd, and even a .45 on the way, including a version of the Del-Lords Christmas tune MERRY XMAS, BABY!, that I recorded with The Skeletons, as well. Should be available by March 1st.
I’ve been working on another batch of songs for the Del-Lords, including some stuff I’ve been working on with Eric and I’ve also scoured some old notebooks and found a few that I was perhaps a bit hasty in discarding for one reason or another back when they were new. So, with all that, we should have a pretty strong selection of songs to choose from, and then, of course, we must get out there and sell our wares, sing for our supper, raise a little righteous musical fury, and deliver the message to the masses.
So, it’s onward and upward for the Del-Lords. Despite some tough personal times for us this past year, and although we have withstood some heavy losses, there has only ever been one choice and one direction for us. Frank, Eric and I have a newfound appreciation and enthusiasm for our band, and the work we did, as well as the work that lies ahead. These posts will become more frequent in the weeks and months ahead, as well. I want to thank everyone who have supported the band in the past, and remain interested in what we’re doing now, and a big Welcome Aboard to all our new fans and friends, including those we will soon be meeting when we hit the boards once more. Stay strong, stay informed.
As the dog days of August have come to a close and the heat remains, sometimes the summer feels like it’s here to stay. But, soon the air conditioners will be turned off and we’ll be complainin’ about the cold. Well, not me, I live in Southern California near the ocean, but for most of you. Anyway, I feel your discomfort. Things have been relatively quiet for the Del-Lords as we clear the decks of our respective obligations and such so that we may continue what we started some 28 years ago and picked up again last September.
We’re probably a couple more months away from rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands and minds dirty again. In the meantime, I’ve been writing, and scouring the junkyard that is my coupla dozen notebooks I’ve filled over the years, looking for songs forgotten & discarded to see if there’s any gems that mistakenly got relegated to the Don’t Call Me, I’ll Call You pile, or maybe some spare parts that can be cannibalized and brought to life. I’m like Dr. Frankenstein waiting for the lightning storm. We’ve got around twenty songs we’re working on, and we are all very excited and grateful to have given ourselves another shot at taking care of some unfinished business.
I’ve been avoiding the news lately, as I tend to get too caught up in it, politics especially, and it swallows me whole. The dialogue out there is repugnant, full of lies, disunity, accusations, and somewhere there’s an unseen hand pouring fortunes into perpetuating this situation. I know I sound paranoid, but when I read about the Koch (no, not Ed) brothers, and their history of lavishly feeding the (far right) beast, it all fits. Always follow the money trail. Americans all should remember: United We Stand Divided We Fall. And, we should look closely and suspiciously at those who would tear us asunder. We won’t get fooled again? Yeah, right. I hope not.
Maybe it’s the brilliant social commentator, and even more brilliant songwriter, who, in his most recent master class on songwriting, HARPS AND ANGELS, has gotten the closest to what’s happening out there. He’s got this song called A FEW WORDS IN DEFENSE OF OUR COUNTRY. Randy sings: The end of an empire/Messy at best/This empire’s ending/Like all the rest. Is that what we’re looking at? I dunno, but all the signs are there. One thing I know is the world, like the clock on the wall, is not going to start miraculously spinning backwards. We are heading towards a time, just a coupla decades away when white folks will no longer be the majority in America. Non-whites will. That’s gonna happen. And there are those who are very upset about this. And, not just that. The economic supremacy of the USA in the world is slipping away, as Japan & China are fast becoming the stronger and larger economies. Japan, ironically enough, is prospering in part because they recognize that their own stimulus package was “too timid”, just as we were told by hundreds of economists ours was. Words like Socialism are being bandied about in a funhouse mirror description of what our president is engaged in trying to accomplish, yet the proof suggests otherwise, unless that proof would also include those bastions of Socialism like Medicaid, Public Education, Social Security, etc. Then yes, we do have some socialist institutions here in the USA. It’s an ugly scene out there. But, I got my band. I wish you all had one. It’s a great refuge as well as a place to take a stand and be counted.
And, of course, it’s baseball season. We’re winding down, and despite a troubled year, too many underachievers, and pitching mysteries (Hi, AJ), we have the best record in the Bigs. Of course, I am talking about my beloved New York Yankees. Manitoba and I text like teenagers regularly throughout every single Yankees game. It’s a big thing for us Bronx people, you know. So, I got my band and I still got a pennant to win. That’s enough to keep me busy. Can’t wait to see Eric and Frank and Manny, and turn our Pro Juniors up to 6 and do a little damage.
Ok, it’s game time, I gotta go get my show head together. I do have this pennant to win. Man, I’ve seen all but maybe ten games all season. This is serious business for me. It’s just something you’re born into when you’re born in the one borough that is attached to the mainland. Uh oh, it’s AJ Burnett!! Ok, gotta run. I hope I’m having fun.
We’ve been home over a month now, baseball season has started, the Yanks are off to their best start in ages, my body is back on California time, and I’ve been listening to the new Buddy Holly box set, a lot. Everything is in kind of a holding pattern as we wait for another break in the clouds that is everyone’s schedule, so we can land the tin can that is our band and get back to it. As for me, I’m still spinnin’ with the whole idea of a new Del-Lords record. (Spinnin’-record, get it? I did NOT do that on purpose, I swear! Just some kinda crazy songwriter third-eye Kundalini shit. And now, for my next trick.)
I am also trying very hard to avoid the news for a bit. I get so fuckin’ pissed off, I, I, I ….well, actually first, yes, I get mad, then I get a bit incredulous at the things you can get fairly large numbers of people to believe if it confirms something they feel real hard deep inside but cannot express because well, society sort of frowns on ya know, calling them people THAT word, and now that one of THEM is in the White House, and he’s a Muslim terrorist, ya know, and a Socialist, and I sure hate Socialists, that’s evil shit, friend, and he’s got these Death Panels, too, and did you know he hates white people, and he…he…he… it ain’t good! It’s bad. It ultimately makes me very very sad for our country. And, that’s because it has exposed such unbelievable anger, and racism, and frustration, and, willful ignorance of information, and all the reasons I really never thought we could elect a black man in the first place, coming back, rising up in a firestorm of barely contained and impending violence. The exposition of it is not the reason to be sad, it’s the seemingly unstoppable nature of it this time. That’s what worries me. Someone on the right needs to step into the breach, step the fuck up, and be the voice of reason here because the price not to is too fucking high to pay.
I think everyone who has ever listened to us knows where I stand, and I don’t make a secret of it. I have to say though that I’ve never seen anything quite like the political climate we’re experiencing right now. My anger at the Rebublicans and their refusal to even join the discussion, offer something, anything, besides obstruction, lies, implicit and explicit encouragement of violence, explicit and implicit racism, not to mention demonizing a mild first-step Health Care Bill that is more similar to what was proposed by the GOP during Clinton’s tenure than anything the Left wanted that they want to describe as Socialist, is at boiling point. I do feel that although there are several folks I dislike almost as much on the other side of the aisle, at least the Dems are willing to argue, compromise, disagree, and put some effort into running you know, the country. We NEED to talk to each other. I mean, this word they throw around, Socialism, don’t they even know what Socialism means? If not, they can examine Unemployment Insurance, Medicare & Medicaid, and Public Education as thriving examples of Socialism and see if they wanna tear them down, too.
I wonder if those Tea Party saps will have a problem with police stopping folks on the street in Arizona and demanding to see their papers, like the Gestapo in a WWII movie. I mean, they should it would seem, shouldn’t they? Isn’t that an infringement of somebody’s rights? Ya know, the country they want back (psssst! the white one), it ain’t a-comin’ back. Ever again. We are becoming more non-white as a nation every day, and in forty years or so, non-whites WILL be the majority of the population. And, THAT’S what’s really going on here. Does anyone REALLY not know that? Ok, I’m done. Thank you for reading and I apologize for ranting a bit, but I can be that way, I guess.
Ok, what else? Let’s see. What have I been doing with my time off? Well, the Yankees first & foremost. My goal every season is to see every single inning of every single Yankees game. I know I will fail at doing so but it is the goal and I try and come as close as I can. I do have my MLB cable package so I can even hear my own YES Network (for those who don’t know, YES stands for Yankees Entertainment Network. I had a dream when I was about eight years old about an all Yankees TV network, and doncha know, forty years later I got my wish.) broadcast team So far so good. I have really been digging the Buddy Holly box set, which is the non-stop musical equivalent of pure happiness. Such a magical sound. And, so much output in such a short time. AND, it’’s all great! I listen to a half hour or so pretty much everyday.
Funny thing happened a few weeks ago. During the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame inductions, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day (whose incognito Garage rockin’ Foxboro Hot Tubs record I absolutely love, with its super cool rewrites of You Really Got Me, I Need You, Tired Of Waiting, as well as a few My Generation LP rewrites for good measure) inducted The Stooges, one of my all-time favorite bands into the Hall. He began his speech, much to my amazement, with a quote of mine (!!???) I had given to Legs McNeil for his & Gillian McCain’s punk opus Please Kill Me. It was a description of the first time I saw The Stooges, which was the summer of 1970, a month or so before the release of FUN HOUSE, and also the night I first met Richard Meltzer, the Dictators’ Godfather. The quote seemed to go over well with the audience, including the Ig himself. Even my name, and the Dictators name got a nice little hand. Well, I got more phone calls and emails in the next coupla weeks from that little incident than I think I had in any two week period of my life. I heard from folks I hadn’t heard from in 20 years! This one from here, and that one from there, and another one, and a cousin and….Oy, vey!
So, back to the holding pattern for a while. Try to stay busy. Try not to jump out of my skin. I am so excited about the band again, that it’s like the minutes, hours and days are just crawling by. I have been writing a bit, which is my way of keeping my hands and mind occupied. Ok, I gotta get going. the Yanks are on in about an hour. They’re in Baltimore, fresh from meeting President Obama at his pad yesterday. I’ll be checkin’ in in a few weeks, see how youse are doin’. In the meantime, take care of yourselves and please take care of each other, as we will certainly need each other before long .