Finally we are emerging from a tough 2014. For Frank it was elbow surgery. For Eric, some neck and shoulder issues. And for yours truly, some shoulder surgery. Steve Almaas remains fully intact. Let this communiqué serve as a brief catch-up on what is going on band-wise, as despite the battle scars, injuries and recoveries, there was action.

We have recorded what we call “maps” of about a half dozen songs for what will be a part of a new Del-Lords record. We will be returning to them over the next coupla months. In the interest of full disclosure, a song “map” is essentially a guitar/bass/ drum machine demo of a complete song from which we can build a complete song with the band.
Eric has, as always, been busy producing, playing and writing, all while perfecting his slow cooker cooking skills. Perhaps you have seen some of the excellent gourmet results by way of his FB posts. Frank has been rehabbing that elbow, easing himself back into drumming, as he works his way from cool calm rock music to the whirlwind and endurance-testing, high-velocity rock’n’roll that is our own band. My shoulder is coming along, and although I still have many months before my recovery is considered complete, I am already feeling up to the task at hand. And Steve? Well, Steve is just fine and waiting (almost) patiently to strap on the four-string, low-tones machine and get down to it.

Over the coming weeks, we will let you know about live dates as they come in. We are also gonna release a live single we had recorded before everyone succumbed to battle injuries and subsequent healing processes. More on that to come, as well. Eric has started a new solo record of his own with the great Jimbo Mathus producing.

While we were first working on ELVIS CLUB, Gary Borress (of GB Music, the label that released ELVIS CLUB, as well as the reissue of my first solo record, TENEMENT ANGELS) came across a live recording of a solo show I had done way back in 1993 online. Gary dug it, thought that with some mastering and maybe an edit or two that it was something we should consider releasing ourselves.

It’s a live recording of one of the very first solo acoustic shows I ever did. I had been on the road with the great Skeletons as my band, when suddenly the funds from the label that had originally released TENEMENT ANGELS, and had been putting up the money for the band, had run out of do re mi, and the band was left with no choice but to back out at that point and head back to Missouri. I was suddenly a solo acoustic artist. It was by necessity, and not by choice. Of that, you can rest assured.

Well, be that as it may, I agreed with Gary that the show he found was pretty darn good and made for an entertaining listening experience all these years later. So it is that LIVE ON BLUEBERRY HILL is now available for one and all to dig – if you so choose. The solo format gave me a chance to sing, for the first time, some songs that Eric had sung, and on which he had left his own indelible mark, as well as refitting other songs for the solo format. It was recorded in St. Louis, a town that looms large in Del-Lords lore, and the audience was great, and ready to participate and help me out if the going got rough. You can get it on my website, the GB Music website, some of the cooler record stores, and even on iTunes. Give it a listen, friends.

In closing, I want to once more remember our hero, Lou Whitney. Lou passed away back in the Fall, and the hole his passing left is gigantic, and will never be filled. I know that each of us can speak to our love for Lou, as well as how much we learned from him, how much we valued him, and of course, how much we miss him. He was the band’s Godfather, our producer, our guru, and mentor. He was crucial in Eric’s development as a producer – something from which we all have benefitted – and Eric could elaborate on that better than I could. Lou taught me a ton about songwriting. Lou Whitney was a guy who could teach without you knowing you were being schooled, who could make you laugh, and leave you thinking about it to the point that you realize you had learned something valuable even while you were laughing, and was even something of an unwilling, accidental Holy Man. Everything we do from here on out will be dedicated to our great friend, with more than just a passing acknowledgement of the Greatest American Band you might not know, The almighty Skeletons, especially Donnie, Lloyd, Joe Terry, Rongo, and Kelly. And, a forever hug and kiss for the eternally lovely Kay Whitney. From the Del-Lords to all of them, much love, much respect, and much gratitude. Lou Whitney: NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN!

Lou w the Les Paul

Help a brother out: Frank Funaro could use it!

Hello friends. Yes, it’s been awhile. I kept waiting for more news, plans, etc. to become more definite before I wrote a bunch of stuff that would need a retraction a few weeks later. But, there is now reason, and even some degree of need so here I am.

For the last year or so, Frank has been dealing with a bad case of what he thought was “tennis elbow”. For all those who don’t know exactly what tennis elbow is, or think it is some minor injury that only guys in white shorts and sweaters get on the tennis court, let me start by saying it most certainly is not. This is a real athletic, or in this case, drumming injury. In Frank’s case it’s a situation where the tendon been torn from the bone, rendering his snare smacking arm extremely weak and unable to play the rock and roll or even perform many tasks, including seemingly simple and easy ones. As painful as it sounds imagine that you are a drummer dealing with this. That, I am afraid, is the state of Frank, what he is dealing with, and why you have not seen us in your town in a few months. The injury requires surgery, and that is to be followed by healing, rehab in the form of physical therapy, and that can take anywhere from six weeks to three months. It is serious, and now that all other options have been exhausted including many doctor and physical therapy visits with no positive results, the knife is the only one remaining.

And, as if all that is not bad enough, it has rendered Frank not only unable to play the drums, but unable to do almost any kind of work at all, since the end of the Del-Lords EU tour last November. Now, we are getting to the heart of this message. While we are doing, and will continue to do, everything we can to help financially, it will not be enough to cover anywhere near the expenses that will be involved, including basic living expenses that Frank will incur – from the surgery through the healing and rehab. We have decided to do what we never thought we would have to do, which is to come to you and ask for your help. If you think you can contribute something/anything to the Cause, it would be greatly appreciated.

Frank had his surgery this Monday May 19th and all indications are positive.

If you’d like to help please go to PayPal, log in, click “Send Money”, enter Frank’s e-mail Playthedrums@hotmail.com and give whatever you can. The money will go straight to Frank and we’d all appreciate your help.

We will have some more Del-Lords news soon including some new recordings and concert dates for later in the year.  Thanks again for your support.

Frank Funaro plays the drums

Frank Funaro plays the drums







Ok, the sneezing (mine) and coughing (mine)  and yes, the whining (also mine), has stopped. My wife is still battling the cold she surely caught from me, but now she too is on the upswing. Two weeks ago tonight, I landed at LAX a mere twenty-six hours since leaving our hotel in Malmo, Sweden. Three planes, each one taking off on time had finally brought me to the tarmac in Los Angeles. We were comfortably and casually taxiing to our gate, and in another twenty minutes or so, I would be seeing Sharon and Sally. It was at that point, with the plane coming to a dead stop, the pilot got on the horn and told us there was good news and bad news. Uh, wha??? NO FUCKING WAY was my calm, cool, collected reaction. NOW, all these many hours and planes later, about one hundred coughs and sniffles later, when I am already on solid ground, NOW you have good news and BAD news??!!? Yes, Sharon, Sally, and I would all have to wait a bit longer for my return.

It seems there had been a “security breach” at LAX and a few terminals had to be evacuated. Some planes had to be diverted to other airports. Luckily ours did not (and that, by the way, constituted the full extent of the pilot’s “good news”). Turned out there had been a car accident at the airport, the sound of which had been mistaken for gunfire. Uh, wha?? Now, I am from the Bronx, lived in the East Village in the 80s, so I know the difference between the sound of gunfire and a car crash. But, all it takes is one panicked phone call, you see, and there you have your evacuations and my delayed return. But, the pilot did keep us up to the minute, and one hour later, I was at Baggage Claim, and then finally into the arms of my wife and the target of many many puppy kisses for Daddy.


A week and a half later and I was no longer sick. Sharon, on the other hand, is still not quite 100%. But, as for the trip itself, it was extremely successful. There wasn’t one show where the band was not great top to bottom, where the audiences were not deliriously enthusiastic, and the promoter not duly impressed. Some shows could have been better attended, but those were a small blip on a very large and most rockin’ screen. All this in the face of a classic traveling illness (cold/flu) that made its way all the way around the van, finishing with Eric, who had started the merry-go-round with a cold a few weeks before we left for Europe. The tour ended with him barely able to utter a single word for the last two shows. Yet, even those two shows went spectacularly well, maybe even the best of the tour.


But, I digress before I begin. We started in England, landing at Heathrow on the morning of October 25th. There we were met by the aptly named Big Mike (Allen being his actual surname), were introduced to our home for the next thirty days, a nice size, rather comfy (especially for Europe) large van with room for everyone to spread out. We then hit (the wrong side of ) the road to pick up the backline: a drum set, courtesy of Big Mike (a drummer himself), a bass amp courtesy of a pal of Mike’s and a loan of two Dr.Z 18-watt beauties thanks to John Priest of Peach Guitars.

Del-Lords w Big Mike

Del-Lords w Big Mike


Next stop, a hotel somewhere along the way to Newcastle (home of The Animals), and our first show the following day. In Newcastle, we were greeted with a full house, and a successful test run of the gear. But, that was just the beginning. The audience really knew our catalog, with different songs getting cheers of recognition throughout the show. That first night could not have gone better. It felt great to get one under our belt, and extra special because the show had gone down so well.

The second night was Leiceister, and the shocking and awful news of the passing of a great friend of our band, a personal musical hero and inspiration to me, as well as my old NYC neighbor, Lou Reed. The show in Leiceister was very emotional, and very well received, as we wheeled out I’M WAITING FOR THE MAN for the first time in nearly thirty years in tribute to Lou. More on Lou later.


Next would be Spain for a dozen shows before we hit Germany for our first time as a band, then finally, onto Sweden. Twenty-two shows in all, with but one day off. Yes, just one. In case you’re wondering, a five, six, seven or more hour drive in the van DOES NOT qualify as a day off. Small wonder we all got sick and then passed it around and around (as Chuck Berry said) for the entire final two weeks.

The shows went pretty much like so: We played most of ELVIS CLUB, lots of stuff from the catalog, and a few covers – the most poignant of which was I’M WAITING FOR THE MAN, from the first Velvet Underground record. We used to play it back in the 80s, but this was different.
After the first two shows, in England, yes, it was off to Spain, where the band had always done exceptionally well. This also holds true for The Dictators, so I have a long standing, and frequently renewing, history with the rock’n’roll audiences in Espana – probably the most enthusiastic and passionate audiences in the world.


The trip to Spain from England is a long one, so it required two travel days and two (no show) nights in France. I can’t remember where we stayed the first night in France, but the second night was in Toulouse, where we had a great hotel, a great cous cous dinner, and not much else to tell.

Cous cous Toulouse!

Cous cous Toulouse!

There were, as I say, about a dozen shows to play in Spain, all with The Western Sizzlers from Atlanta in support. A true blue Southern rock’n’roll band, somewhat in the mold of The Georgia Satellites, and including ex-Satellite, Rick Richards and fifth-Satellite, Kevin Jennings in his debut as a frontman, they played a decidedly un-hyphenated guitar heavy r’n’r set each night. Nice guys, too.


The Spanish leg would also take us back to Gijon for the first time since 1989, where it was our very first Spanish gig, as well as to Del-Lords strongholds like Madrid, Bilbao (up in the Basque Country), and finally a sold-out, manic show in Barcelona, a town which had taken us longer than most to finally crack. In a continent where most shows are extremely sweaty affairs, the Barcelona show stands out as one where even the outside of my leather belt was soaked through.


Backtracking a bit, though, the trip to Spain took us through the Pyrnees Mountains, a first for us, too. Eric filled us in on the ins and outs of this awesome mountain range as regards the Tour De France. Eric is a serious cyclist, and trying to imagine taking these mountains on a bike was impossible to really get my (non-cyclist) head around – let alone as part of a race!


Heading into to the Pyrenees

Heading into to the Pyrenees

I also found an anniversary present for Sharon in a little shop in the foothills of the Spanish side of the mountains. Ya see, I was gonna be missing our second wedding anniversary while on tour, and I wanted to have something for her when I arrived back in the USA. A good husband I am.


We hit the ground running in Monzon and Zaragoza, two towns in which we had never played, and both shows went great.  While the set list was already sturdy, there was still some tinkering to be done as the tour would progress.



A few nights later we were on a festival bill in Jerez, a seaside town west of Gibraltar. We were way down south. The Dictators NYC, the incarnation of the Dictators that has taken over where the original configuration of the band left off, were also on the bill.


I had not played a note with Richard, Ross and JP in five years, and there was a distinct possibility that streak was to going to come to an end that night. After our set, which went great yet again, I waited around and for the first time ever, I got to watch the Dictators (NYC or not) as an audience member. I gotta say, they were fucking fantastic. They sounded terrific, as Ross was still just incredible (obviously), JP was solid as a rock, and Richard was singing better than ever, and just a completely captivating performer. None of this was any surprise, but to be confronted by the fact of it rather than just the idea of it was amazing. I was so proud, as Daniel Ray, and Dean Rispler did a bang-up job taking my and Andy’s old spots. They were fun, ferocious, and thrilling.


After their set, I did indeed join them for an encore of SLOW DEATH, the great Flamin’ Groovies tune we had been playing since the 70s, and even recorded for BLOODBROTHERS. It was a lot of fun to be sure, but it was also very emotional for me. That part surprised me.


To be onstage with Ross, doing the thing we had done together for nearly forty years was emotionally overwhelming. To lock in with JP once again, as we kept that locomotive on the tracks for every hairpin turn and straightaway was also very moving. And, to be alongside my great friend of half a century, HDM, one more time was probably the most special moment of the whole thing for me. I went back to the hotel that night with my head spinning, and reliving every second of the fifteen or so minutes I was up there with them. A truly unforgettable experience for all of us, I think. I think the audience even appreciated it. That too surprised me. I am not feigning false modesty here but I would have thought that outside of the hardcore fans (maybe 20% of the band’s audience, at the most) would have any idea I was ever even in the band. I mean, I know they know Richard and Ross, but I thought I was more “the other guitar player” to most of the band’s audience. But, if that night was any indication, they did know me, and did seem really glad I was there that night. That feels good, too.

HDM down south in Espana.

HDM down south in Espana.


Back to the clubs. The hardest thing about playing in clubs in Spain, besides set time usually being well after midnight, even on a weekday, is that nearly every “rock” club transforms into a disco each night as soon as the Rock is through. This changeover happens with the speed of a panic-stricken, run for your lives, fire drill, and is a most annoying and obnoxious nightly event. In Madrid, the DJs were being extra careless moving our stuff, and it came a little too close to physical violence, as we were very angry at our gear being mishandled, and with so little regard for its value. I thought I would have to pull Eric out of there before the cops came, when I saw him waving a big piece of metal at a couple of cowering DJs. But, they were smart enough to back off, and their skulls were saved, and no one went to jail. And, in the final tally, this show, too, was a resounding success. But, I do fucking hate the late night disco transformation in oh so many ways.


I understand Spain is having a very difficult time, living with 27% unemployment – guess that austerity thing didn’t work out so well there either – so I am sympathetic to the clubs needing to augment their take by needing to get a completely different crowd in there, paying a second admission, even as they chase out the paying customers who had been there all night long, but a little courtesy, too, goes a long way – and we are not the right guys to fuck with in such a destructive and rude way. The same goes double for our gear.


As for our set, we messed with the set list here and there, and after a few shows a nice sequence of songs fell into place. There were some songs that worked best in certain spots, and some that were great anyplace we stuck ‘em. There were also several nights when we played two shorter sets rather than the one 90 minute one. I enjoyed the two set nights, as it gave me more of an opportunity to talk with the audiences, get a feel for them, ask them who might just be a Facebook friend of mine (lots, evidently), and talk about the songs a bit. The pace of the two set night is less hectic, less dependent on building a certain momentum, and maintaining it. Each song can stand as its own showpiece. The 90-minute set feels like the BIG concert vibe, with the need to really keep it all motoring along. Personally, I like both the short and the long sets, and am glad to switch them around.


This time around, Eric’s re-arrangement of JUDAS KISS was a nightly highlight, and we are trying to get a good live recording of it for release. Some great built-in dynamics, and by far the most dramatic version of the song we’ve ever played. Our arrangement of I’M WAITING FOR THE MAN is another of which we would like to grab a live recording. Some old favorites like I PLAY THE DRUMS, GET TOUGH, CHEYENNE, & HOW CAN A POOR MAN STAND SUCH TIMES AND LIVE? all still work.


From ELVIS CLUB, WHEN THE DRUGS KICK IN, FLYING & ME AND THE LORD BLUES are all going over exceptionally well, and I’m a little surprised at how many people have heard WHEN THE DRUGS KICK IN, but there is a definite sense of recognition every time we introduce it. Each night, the final song of the final encore was SOUTHERN PACIFIC, a Neil Young song we had been doing since the earliest days of the band, and we had finally committed to vinyl (so to speak) for ELVIS CLUB. It’s like our MY GENERATION without all the busted gear. There is a definite sense of finality to it, and during it a borderline rock’n’roll chaos that takes off for Mars until it just vanishes from view.



The last Spanish show was the great one in Barcelona, and that was followed the very next day by what would prove to be our only day off in the thirty days we were gonna be in Europe. Yes, one day off outta thirty (as I believe I have already mentioned)!! I went to sleep in Barcelona, woke up in Barcelona, and went to sleep again that night in Barcelona! It felt good, brothers and sisters, it felt good!

Rocksound in BCN

Rocksound in BCN


My friend, Laurent Pardo, was in town visiting his girlfriend, Anna. I know Laurent because he plays bass with the awesome Normandy All Stars, whom I know from the two tours I did with Elliott Murphy, as they were his band – and an amazing band they are. All great players, singers, and rock’n’roll brothers; Laurent on bass, Alain on drums, and Olivier on guitar. Laurent and Anna, and I went to the Gaudi Cathedral, the Sagrada Family, and although the long lines prevented us from seeing the inside, the outside alone was awesome and a total engineering miracle. There was a paella lunch, then goodbyes. It was about 3pm and I was ready for bed, and not much else.


Monday morning, back in the van and off to Germany. Hannover, at the Blues Garage was the first stop, and unfortunately, the most poorly attended gig of the tour – a Monday night that brought out maybe 100 people. But, we did stay at the rather incredible Motel California – a Rock’n’Roll establishment, with the excellent Henry Gellrich, proprietor, complete with a John Lee Hooker Room, A British Blues Room, and Classic Rock Room (which was where I laid my weary head), and so on. Every room different, decorated in some rock’n’roll way, every room super comfortable, clean, cared for, and a real respite from the real world. Check out their FB page so that you can verify what I am saying, and that I am not now, nor was I then, tripping.


As the tour progressed, the band got sharper with each show. Steve started great and only got better as we went along. One thing of which we did not have the luxury was leisurely sound checks. With Steve still relatively new to the fold, and with five Del-Lords albums to learn, we were still hoping to continually add songs to the set, and getting that accomplished took longer than we hoped it would. We did add EVERYDAY, from ELVIS CLUB, a song I wrote with Dion for what was then a green-lighted biopic about him written and to be directed by Chazz Palminteri.

EVERYDAY was written for the scene where the fateful Winter Dance Party reaches Clear Lake, Iowa. It was early morning, at the hotel, in the lobby as everyone arrived, that the news was on TV about the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Richie Valens, along with the pilot, and was first being reported. Buddy had given Dion his guitar to take with him to the next town, and upon hearing the news and going to his room in a state of shock and grief, that Dion pulls out Buddy’s guitar (a lot of poetic license enters the scene now) and tries to remember that new song Buddy had played the night before. It was called EVERYDAY, and Dion, while trying unsuccessfully to reconstruct the song in his head, comes out with this song instead.


It is a simple song of friendship and written without any irony, sarcasm, or any other literary device other than pure emotional honesty and brotherly love. It was great to add it to the set, and Steve sang the hell out of it each time.


We also added DAMAGED, but now with Frank taking the lead vocal. It seems I had written a song in which the rhythm guitar pattern was very much at odds with the cadence of the vocal. I could never get it to sound exactly right, so Frank volunteered, and he did a great job with it, too.


We added SHAME ON YOU, from FRONTIER DAYS, with Eric taking the lead vocal, as he had back when we recorded it. It features a lyric Eric really related to back when it was a brand new song, and it instantly became, and remains, his song. One night we actually played, with Eric leading us through, DOWN BY THE RIVER, and even LIKE A HURRICANE. We are a band full of major Neil fans. This was a catch it while you can, unscripted, flying by the seat of our pants, occurrence, and it worked out well.


The rest of the German shows went well, with great crowds, and folks coming from all over the continent to see this band (us) they had known about for thirty years, but had never seen. Nor did they think they would ever get to see them (us). Night after night, I would meet people who had driven hundreds of miles, or flown, or who had made a weeklong vacation out of catching a couple of Del-Lords shows, and so on. So, despite fighting a lousy and untimely cold, and feeling worse each day, it was never hard to break through that awful feeling to find inspiration and the energy necessary to give these folks the best show we possibly could, to sing and play the best we could. I am proud to say we did not dog even one minute. We left nothing in the dressing room, and nothing on the stage.




The last two shows, in St. Gertrude in Malmo, Sweden, having sold out in advance, found us at our weakest physical state of the entire trip. I was sick, Eric could barely utter a word, Steve had been fighting a flu with varying success, and Frank was fighting one himself. I have to admit that when I had lunch with Eric that afternoon, between his condition and mine, I was seriously concerned whether or not we would be able to play the show. We were not happy.

You see, I have one rule that I live by, and that is: WE CAN NEVER DO A BAD SHOW! That is the one absolute for me. We can never afford to do even one bad show. We start with that and work backwards from there.

(We had to move our London show because the logistics kept mounting against us, almost daily, with the show a few days away, and all the little pieces coming undone – due to no fault of our own. But, fault is an insignificant matter in those moments. There is only the show, and the axiom. It became painfully obvious, with less than a week to go, that the London show would just not be doable, that the chances were better than not that we would NOT be able to do a good show. With no way to get our hands on the throttle of that runaway train, being a thousand miles away, and nowhere to turn, we agreed with the club to re-schedule the show for a time when less than everything was working dead against us – and, we could live up to our own professional and personal code of honor, respect for our music and for ourselves, and for our audience. For everyone who had planned on being there, we will be there sooner rather than later, and we will keep you all informed.)


In the meantime, in Malmo, somehow we all rallied. Eric powered through, I powered through, Frank held up his end, as did Steve, and we ended up playing what was perhaps the best show of the entire tour. The audience was practically levitating. We did what he had to do, and we played for nearly two straight hours before the whole thing came careening to a halt, the last notes and feedback of SOUTHERN PACIFIC fading into the past, everyone now ready to have one little night cap, and then to bed.


For us, it was the last night we would fall asleep on European soil this year, and in a few hours, catch the first of two (three for me), flights back home. All in all, it was a magical year for us. Being back together, making a record that has been so very well received, and getting out on the road, have made 2013 one for the books. Thanx to Rich Nesin, my old pal, my bro, for all the love and hard work in service of the cause. Thanx to the newly wed Gary Borress, without whom a great record would have gone unheard, and who always had an idea when such things were scarce, and a lantern when the road turned dark at night. Thank you guys, we could not have done it without you. Thanx to the wives, girlfriends, pals, who put up with us. Thank you to the fans without whom those gigs would have been mighty lonesome affairs. A special thank you to Sharon without whom there might have been a record but it is doubtful I would have been able to be a part of it – and I would have hated to miss that! Love you, baby!



(a little personal remembrance)

I just want to add a short remembrance of Lou Reed. I was going to just add it into the rest of the tour report, but it didn’t feel like enough to me. Lou was so special, so central to who I am as a musician and writer, as well as having been a great friend to our band, that I wanted to try and just speak from the heart and give Lou a proper send-off from The Del-Lords.



It was at the second show, Leiceister, England, that the club owner, upon our arrival, informed us that Lou Reed had passed away. It felt like we ran into a brick wall. We had toured with Lou in the 80s, and he was the nicest, most generous, most gracious, and most stand-up guy I had ever met in the music biz. I know the stories people tell about Lou; his orneriness, his unpredictability, his flat-out nastiness, etc. While I cannot refute someone else’s experience, I can tell you that not for one single second did we ever see THAT Lou Reed.



I first heard The Velvet Underground at my friend, Robert Cirkiel’s parents’ apartment at the Parkside Projects in the Bronx. The Dictators eventually shot the BLOODBROTHERS LP cover in Big Playground there. It was Big Playground, where the real-life Wanderers (of Richard Price’s epic novel of the same name) hung out.


Robert had a copy of the 1st Velvets record. I guess it was 1967 by this point. The cover amazed me, with that yellow peelable banana, and Andy Warhol’s name on it. Not to mention the song titles; HEROIN, VENUS IN FURS, THEBLACK ANGEL’S DEATH SONG. I’M WAITING FOR THE MAN, and EUROPEAN SON, that gave me chills of nervousness and anticipation, as I knew this record was gonna be very different. What it was about it that made my thirteen year old brain and libido go nuts, I cannot fully say. But, it did, nonetheless. That record crawled under my skin and is yet to leave. I was instantly hooked. I couldn’t wait to hear it again. Robert and I would take a lamp he had made in wood shop in school, remove the light bulb, replace it with a red one, take a kazoo with some aluminum foil, and turn it into a hash pipe, and blast-off with the Velvets every day after school for a few weeks. The Velevet Underground took a place at the very top of my list of favorite bands, and this as a favorite record. Then WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT, then the shock of the third one, and finally LOADED. All four remain among my very favorite records of all time. A huge inspiration and a huge influence.


The plain way Lou spoke/sang about song subjects I was certainly not going to tell my parents I was listening to. In fact, I am pretty sure I never had a discussion with my folks about Lou or the Velvets. But, the artfulness of it, the hard edged beauty of it, the volume, the racket, the prayer-like ballads, the all-encompassing New York City of it all. It was all just so beautiful.




We were on the tour Lou did for MISTRIAL in 1986, as Lou’s invited guests, and that is exactly how we were treated. Lou made sure we got a full sound check every night, even standing on the side of the stage during our sound check until he was sure his road crew understood that this was to be the norm. Anyone who has ever been an opening act, or toured as one knows how rare it is to get a sound check in that situation, as well as how crucial it can be in that night’s show going well.


Most days, we would show up as Lou was finishing his sound check. He would get this big smile when he saw us come in, and as soon as his sound check was done, he came over to hang out and bullshit for awhile. Lou and I were both big Boxing fans, and the 80’s being a Golden Era for Boxing, there was always stuff to be excited about concerning the Sweet Science, and although we said we would, we never did get to go to a match together. Lou also dug baseball, and was a Yankees fan, and as anybody who knows me also knows, I am a major one, as well.





Lou even appeared in our video for JUDAS KISS. I remember waiting out in the street in front of Eric’s old pad wondering if Lou would actually show up. I mean, it was Lou Reed after all, one of my most inspirational, and most influential, musical heroes. And then, suddenly, coming across Avenue A with a big grin, was Lou. A visionary, a revolutionary, a genius, an iconoclast, and one of the very greatest writers of all time – all apt descriptions of Lou Reed.

Lou Reed on 11th Street w the Del-Lords

Lou Reed on 11th Street w the Del-Lords


AND, Lou was my neighbor when I still lived in NYC! Occasionally I would run into him and it was always fun. We would chat about this and that, rock’n’roll, doo wop, Dion (he and Dion were pals, each inducting the other into the R’n’R Hall of Fame), the tour we did together, and just regular bullshit.

I remember the first time I ran into Lou in the neighborhood (at least since I had gotten to know him). One day I turned up West 10th street, from 7th Ave. and there he was about twenty feet ahead of me. I called out, “Lou!”. No response, so I tried again – a little louder this time. Still no response. Finally, I call out, “Hey Lou, it’s Scott from the Del-Lords!!” THEN, he turns around. He’s smiling and apologizes for not turning around the first few times I called him. I ask him what was up with that, and he tells me, “Scott, you don’t know how many times, and for how many years, I am on the street and a stranger comes up to me, yells after me, not just to say hello, but to tell me how many times they shot up listening to HEROIN, or this time they OD’d listening to HEROIN. Or, this one died while…… It gets old!”


I had never thought about that. Of course, on the one hand, to have written a song that so many people are so moved by, and in so many different ways – that is an amazing thing. But, to have achieved that and have it turn on you, come back to haunt you, that too is an amazing and pretty big weight to carry. Right there, I understood how some people could possibly have had an unpleasant experience meeting Lou, only to be perhaps unfairly, and unknowingly,  victimized by the person who came up to say hi to Lou right before they did. All I know for sure is I never once saw that other Lou Reed. A total sweetheart of a guy, as far as I am concerned, and forever grateful for being invited to tour with him, and how gracious and fun he was once we were out there.


I don’t think there were many times in my life that made me feel as special as the times I would run into Lou, and seeing how happy he was to see me. The last time I saw him was in 2010, on a Sunday morning around 8AM. He was with his wife, Laurie, and their little terrier. This wasn’t the Lou Reed of old, up early on Sunday morning because he had been up speeding since Friday. No, this was Lou and Laurie, up early walking the pup. I had never met Laurie before, and Lou gushed to her about how great The Del-Lords were, and how much fun we all had, and how he even got us to sing with him a couple of times (yeah, teeth had to be pulled really hard to get us up on stage to sing with LOU REED!!!!!!). I am sure I blushed, as I thought, man, I love this guy!


So, we played I’M WAITING FOR THE MAN, every night, and each night it got a little harder to introduce the song, and our dedication of it to Lou. It was like every night, it sunk in a little bit more that we were now living in a world without Lou Reed, and I wouldn’t run into him again, to bullshit, or grab a burger, or anything. It made me very sad, very emotional, and it choked me up a bit most nights, too.


I am glad that my last memory of Lou was that morning I ran into him and Laurie, and how happy he was. His smile was so big. Contented man, I thought to myself. He was thrilled to see me, and to tell Laurie all about the time we toured together. He asked about our friend, Dion, and told me send his love to D. Watching Lou and Laurie for that ten minutes or so, how they interacted, their tone of voice towards each other, the obvious connection, it was all good. Very good.



So, goodbye Lou, you left a mark. Your art is eternal and timeless. Your influence, your inspiration is beyond the tethers of this world. I was just thirteen when I first heard your music, and it entered my blood, and has never left. You have left a deep scar on this boy’s heart and soul. Dear Lou, never to be forgotten.




Bowery Electric June 27 photo by Kelly Hadden

Bowery Electric June 27 photo by Kelly Hadden



It is the 13th of July.  2013 is the year. I have been back on the West Coast with my wife and new puppy for about two weeks now. I had been in NYC for two weeks, and while of course no one moves to New York for the weather, my second week back home in the city of my birth, was an example of what I miss least about Fun City. It was a week where the humidity is so fucking high that the weathermen and weatherwomen can just stay home and safely predict 50% chance of thunderstorms from the air-conditioned splendor of their tiny overpriced apartments. My Weather Channel app showed ten consecutive such days (little clouds with rain and lightning bolts coming out of them – with high temps in the mid-90s!) ahead – and that was just because it only forecasts up to ten days ahead. Yes, it was Vietnam all over again, for those who, for some reason, might miss it, or for those of us who (barely, in my case) missed it ourselves the first time.


In perfect New York symmetry, however, my second week had followed a full week of the kind of weather that you pray for once it starts hitting mid-June, and the concrete turns into an EZ-Bake Oven (ask your older sister), and you are as the dough, as the heat and humidity soar.


They say more murders are committed when it’s 92 degrees than at any other temperature – not so hot as to deter you, yet hot enough to REALLY piss you the fuck off. Just a passing NYC summertime thought!


My wife remembers there being about ten great weather days a year back home.  Well, this was at least five straight. Just beautiful blue skies, low humidity, warm days, cool nights. It really set me up. Like a bowling pin. Then, that second week just knocked me right back down. Like stepping out of the apartment into a hot shower.




I realize I have begun this “blog” (I still hate that word) with a digression. Maybe I should have taken English class more seriously back in high school – or at least taken college more seriously. For in my infinite lack of training in this writing racket, I have ignorantly led off with a digression. Sue me! Hey, I also failed Music. Sue me twice. This is true! Yes, a real slam bang, one-year college career I had, I tells ya!




That first week back in town began with band rehearsals in earnest. We jumped right into preparation for our first full-on shows in a long long while. There were three shows booked for this first two-week period, with the last one being Bowery Electric in NYC, our hometown. It was gonna be three rehearsals, and three shows. Sounds simple, except these were gonna be the first three rehearsals and shows with our new guy, Steve Almaas, on bass and vocals. Steve’s great, but a new guy is a new guy, and you never actually know until you actually know, ya know? So it was, I motored on out to Brooklyn for three four-hour rehearsals, two the first week, one the second. Then, three consecutive shows – the last our first significant NYC show in 23 years!





Well, simply put, rehearsals went great! Steve fit like the proverbial glove, and we were off and running, putting together a show – well, a set at least – career encompassing, but also highlighting ELVIS CLUB, our new record. I was experiencing a brand-new, familiar old feeling! I was nervous. I admit it. NYC means: our hometown, our friends, our fans, OUR town – and we will have but a mere two shows to warm up for it. I was nervous, and I fretted, then I worried – AND repeat.




I’m gonna tell you a little something about Steve Almaas. I know a lot of you know Steve, his history, dig his music, and probably have for some time. This next part is probably not gonna be news to you – well, maybe some of it. But, to our fans and friends who might not be as familiar with Steve – here’s the skinny.

First off, Steve and I met a very long time ago, on a very memorable night. It was the 70’s – the era was that of the Punk! Steve was doin’ it to ‘em from a home base of Minneapolis, in a band called The Suicide Commandos. From the Bronx, I too was punking it up – or at least as much as we ever punked it up (not much, if you ask me) in the Dictators. The Suicide Commandos and The Dictators shared a bill in Minneapolis on the night of August 16th, 1977. Yes, the night Elvis Presley died. It was Mark The Animal who came banging on my door to tell me the news. He was freaked, as he knew I would be, as well. Mark knew I loved E! (Yet another aside: August 16th is also the death date of Robert Johnson, AND Babe Ruth!) So, the meeting and the night itself have proven indelible to say the least.


Then, it wasn’t until the 80’s that I became aware of Steve again. I remember that “BEAT RODEO” EP Steve made with Mitch Easter and Richard Barone, a really cool record that, at the time, I was surprised and confused by. That’s because by the time I heard it, Steve had already put together a band called Beat Rodeo, and was out playing. But, neither Richard Barone, nor Mitch Easter were in the band, Beat Rodeo. I did finally figure it out, though. The band was a new, and separate (from the record) entity based around Steve’s songs. Great band, too. Got it!


Then, in the 90’s, a mutual friend – a Swedish promoter/ record store owner/poet/great guy, named Ingemar Johansson told me about Steve’s solo records, and I began to check them out. I liked what I heard. Around this time, Steve had a little side operation goin’ on tending bar at this touristy Mexican restaurant in the West Village, while at the same time, I was living right up the street a bit. Sometimes I would drop in on occasion, pound back a couple, chew the fat with Steve, before heading home. Steve was like a recurring character in the sitcom that was my life at that time – I’m thinkin’ I probably provided that exact same function in his life, too.


Cut to 2012, and the band is in the midst of recording “ELVIS CLUB”, and with no steady bass player since Manny’s departure, we are using a handful of great bass players, each of which was known personally by at least one of us beforehand. Steve came down and played on “EVERYDAY”. He was supposed to play on more, but was on his way back to the Midwest to a serious family situation right after the session. Steve was understandably a little distracted, anxious, and needed to call it a day after nailing the one song.


As recording went on we found Duke. Duke was a great player, enough of a wise-ass to hang with us, and we quickly asked Duke if he wanted the permanent spot. We asked, Duke said yes. Eventually, Duke and the band came to the realization that perhaps we all jumped the gun just a bit, thought better of things and perhaps a little more realistically, too. We shook hands and Duke left.

I instantly thought of Steve. Eric and Frank agreed that talking to Steve about the job was well worth a shot. Fate played a role here, too, because that very day Steve was producing a record out at Cowboy Technical Services, Eric’s studio. Eric mentioned that Steve had said to him on more than one occasion that if things ended up not working out with Duke, he would love to give it a shot. So………….

The week of Monday, June 24th. We have had three rehearsals. They went fine, but while rehearsals are, of course, necessary, rehearsals are most certainly NOT shows. Tuesday night, the 25th of June, 2013, there is an actual show. We are booked at Drew’s house concert out in Ringwood, NJ. Haven’t heard of Ringwood? Well, don’t bother asking your GPS because three different GPS’s got three carloads of Del-Lords nice and lost on the way home. The wild goose was chased! But, Drew does have directions on his website, and THEY are recommended.


Drew’s is the most well-known house concert going in the region, as far as I know. He has had many great artists in his log cabin-vibe house out there in the Jersey woods. He can hold about 100 or so, and the “artist gets the door” is the simple enough deal. It sounds great in there, too. The setting is quite intimate. People bring food and stuff – like a party. It’s really cool. Great vibe. And, an audience of unadulterated, un-hyphenated ”serious” music fans awaits you.




There will ALWAYS be something to be said for playing rock’n’roll to a standing, drinking audience. An audience ALREADY STANDING is a big leg-up for a band. It is a time honored, and most combustible combination, indeed. We have always thrived in these classic situations. We are very comfortable in them, and things usually work out well for us in that setting.




But, there is also something to be said for playing for un-hyphenated “serious” music fans, seated and sober though they may be. You get to go right back to the source of why you started playing music to begin with. It is that great joy of simply playing music – as the trappings of a “show”, as well as the idea of this being a job, all but fade in the combination of “serious” music fans, and the music itself. Serious fans demand serious music, too. It can be funny, even ridiculous, but be seriously ridiculous, not merely casually ridiculous. You can do it at a pace that is less urgent but still exciting – exciting in a different way. It’s solely about the communication. The situation breaks down the (un?)natural barrier between performer and audience. In the end, it’s ALL about the communication – and the music is how we communicate. I love it, the band thrives in this situation, too, and I want both experiences – standing/drinking vs. seated/sober – to continue. I don’t wanna choose between them. They each carry their own reward.


The show at Drew’s was a resounding success. The band was great – better than we were in any of the rehearsals. It all came together to form a clenched fist. It was no open-handed slap, I can tell you that. It sounded strong and clear, the songs sounded fully formed, Steve was locked into it all, and Frank, Eric and I were, of course, joined at the hip. Together, the future felt wide open AGAIN!


The second show was one where we had just scrambled at the last minute to find a stage that would have us. We found one in New Haven, CT, Small, awkwardly configured, no monitors, no dressing room, and very few people. It was what we call “paid rehearsal”, although the pay was slight that night, as well. Tough night but we persevered, and those in attendance seemed to like it just fine.
Thursday was Bowery Electric on the Bowery. One of the owners is Jesse Malin, an old friend and a great singer-songwriter whom you probably know. We had booked the show, even though the club was none too sure anyone would come to see us. We wondered the same thing ourselves. But, the Bowery Electric is not huge, and we thought it was the right room for us to play – to essentially re-introduce the Del-Lords to the world – well, to NYC anyway. We asked Spanking Charlene, whom I love, to open the show. Eric produces them, and occasionally sits in with them – as he did this night, too. Great band, great people. A perfect match, I thought. I think it was a couple of weeks later, or so, that the club asked us if they could add The Planets to bolster the bill and calm their own nerves a bit, perhaps. At least, that is how I remember this coming together. I got a message from Eric about adding The Planets. I was fine with it. I’ve known Binky a long time, and had seen (and loved) the band back in the early 70s a bunch of times too. So, welcome aboard Planets. But, we did want to keep our original 9PM slot. That put Spanking Charlene on at 8, us at 9, and The Planets at 10. For a lot of our audience, on a school night, being able to get home before midnight is a big plus. Half a lifetime of waking up for work on not enough sleep does eventually wear you down, as well as it wear out its own charm, as it did to most of us when we were in our twenties. So, we face the facts that more of our fans will be able to come see us if we get on and off, and have them home by midnight or so – if it’s on a weeknight. Hey, I can relate.


The show itself came and went in a blur. It was one of the best – if not THE best – show we ever played in NYC. Considering how much we felt we had riding on this one night, how we essentially had our pink slips in the pot, all on our third gig, WITH A NEW GUY, plus all the shit over which you/we have NO control, we – I dare say – killed.  We really did, if I do say so myself. From the first song to the last, it just powered forward on its own momentum. I talked to the audience a lot it seemed, but even that worked out just fine. We played real well, we sang real well, and, most of all, we put across that thing, Our thing, our Cosa Nostra, that makes us us. Steve managed to effortlessly, almost unconsciously find IT, and there we all were from DRUG DEAL all the way through The Neil’s SOUTHERN PACIFIC. We even telepathically achieved actual tribal rock formation during that one – ala Neil and the Horse. Our own little homage. Then, bang, it was over. We were done. We knew we had done good. We knew we had meant every note. Nothing left in the locker room, nothing left on the playing field.


We also found out we still mean something to our friends and fans. They sure let us know. Blessed are the faithful, indeed.


And so it begins anew. We have about thirty or so shows booked so far for the rest of the year, with more being added every few days. We have a West Coast run from late September through early October, which follows some Mid-West shows, including the Americana Conference in Nashville. We are doing three nights of the CBGB Festival in NYC, and then off to Europe for a few weeks. I can honestly say that things have not only never been better, but things have never been quite this good. That seems like a good place to sign off.



BUT FIRST, I DIGRESS – the Conclusion!


…… I did finally go on – by the way – to one, and only one, year of college, where, as I already mentioned, appropriately enough, I failed music. Yes, rock’n’roll beckoned. My parents wept. I quit school, and left home to start a rock’n’roll band. I never looked back.




I did meet Ace (Paul) Frehley in college, though. Well, in the college cafeteria, anyway, where he would hang out from morn until late afternoon when I guess he went home. I never saw him attend even one class. Paul (Ace) would show up every morning with two quarts of Colt .45 “malt liquor”. (I still don’t know what the fuck “malt liquor” is, but please, if you do, spare me this knowledge. I know I am better off without it.) Someone always had a guitar so he would play this and that – Stones, Kinks, Who, Led Zep (he taught me how to play BLACK DOG early one Monday morning), and he was a real nice guy. Funny, in his speech and in his movements. But, a nice guy.


Ok, one last digressive thought: Ace had to, and did carry me to the bathroom – three flights up!! – on the occasion of my first (of a total of two) failed attempt(s) at enjoying qualludes (we also called them sopors). I was sick as a dog. Never could handle the pill scene.  Thanx again, Ace (Paul).

Right For Jerry

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.

Jerry1   Jerry2b


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!

Available exclusively here and on Bandcamp.  CD’s available here June 6




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.



Unfinished Business



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:

Ok, then!


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:



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. 





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:

  1. True Love
  2. How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live?
  3. Cheyenne
  4. Jumpin’ In The Night
  5. Judas Kiss
  6. About You
  7. I Play The Drums
  8. Get Tough
  9. I’m Gonna Be Around
  10. 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.



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.