music:

The Blasters 1-19-14, Low Spirits, Albuquerque

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In the classic film "Plan 9 From Outer Space," Albuquerque is described as "strictly a nine o'clock town." That's just not true. Last night the Blasters didn't take the stage until almost nine-THIRTY! And then they rocked. They rocked until about eleven o'clock. What did they do for an encore? They rocked some more.
Take that, Edward D. Wood Jr.

Phil Alvin apologized for not being in full voice but it wasn't really noticeable to my ears, or at least what's left of them. He did appear to be having some discomfort, so the band cut the yodeling songs from the set and added longer guitar solos. That worked.

I took about five pictures with my phone. The one above, believe it or not, is the best.


Catchy title, huh? I stole it from a movie I hadn't seen (*see footnote). In the name of research, I watched the movie and it turned out to be a dark, violent mobster flick that had very little in common with my recent trip to Denver. I thought the film was somewhat derivative and predictable but, then again, so is my writing. Fair enough.

I made a short list of record stores I wanted to visit while I was in the city, but Wax Trax was the only one I actually made it to. I chose well.

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Wax Trax Records in Denver is the best record store I have been to in a long time. It has the dusty ambience and huge selection of most collectors-type stores, but without the condescending attitudes and highway robbery prices. They have a huge vinyl inventory in the 3-5 dollar range that enables thrifty shoppers like myself to accumulate a healthy stack in no time. I did check out the small "collectible" section and it was a pretty good one. They had an original copy of the first Big Star album for $25.00. You don't see that one every day. I thought about it and I'm still thinking about it. That ship has sailed.

From the collectable bin, I did snag a copy of "Here I Come and Other Hits" by the Fall-Outs. I remember The Fall-outs from when I lived in Seattle - they were a great live band. After a minimal amount of research, I found out that they're still active - which is nice to know. To describe the Fall-Outs as a great Northwest garage-style rock band doesn't quite do them justice. This copy of the record has a skip on one song, but that still leaves 14 songs that don't skip. I'm okay with that.

On the cheaper side -

"With the Naked Eye" by the Greg Kihn Band. You might remember him. He had a couple of hits - like the one that went "ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah." I prefer his earlier albums, like this one. I saw him play a few times in Northern Cal.

"Short Back and Sides" by Ian Hunter was co-produced by Mick Jones of the Clash. It is not a great album but I like it.

I've been on a Beach Boys kick for a while now. I thought I had it under control. I've been casually looking for, and was pleased to find Carl Wilson's eponymously titled first solo album. In my opinion, he was the best singer in the group and criminally underrated. The first side is made up of slightly R&B-influenced, mid-tempo rock songs typical of the late 70's/early 80's era, but the ballads on side two are where he really excelled. I can't pin it down, but something about this album demands repeated listens.

Okay, speaking of the Beach Boys, I know that Carl Wilson made a couple of solo albums that are worth hearing. I also know that Dennis Wilson made a really good solo album.
However, there is also...

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"Looking Back with Love" by Mike Love. I could not pass this up. I have read too many negative things about this not to want it. This universally panned solo album by the longtime Beach Boys front-man features the infamous song "Rockin' the Man in the Boat," which can be best described as two and a half minutes of groan-inducing double entendres. If that's not enough for you, the song takes a serious turn for the creepy when Mr. Love starts singing about his telescope. As questionable as that song is, it's pretty much the highlight of the record. I don't need a Q-tip to clean my ears - I need a blowtorch.
Why do I keep listening to this album? I admit that I've never been burdened with particularly good taste, but there is definitely something wrong with me.

I can't follow that with anything.

I bought a couple more records, but discussing them would just lead to more of my boring "I saw this band" or "I used to live there" stories. You're welcome.

*footnote - The movie "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" took its title from a Warren Zevon song (I lose some serious music geek points for not knowing that).

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

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Big Bad Voodoo Daddy played a free show at an Albuquerque neighborhood street fair last weekend. It was just a spit and a holler from my house so I had to check it out.
It goes to show that if you wait long enough, everything will eventually be delivered to your doorstep.

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It took the Swing Revival twenty-some years to reach Albuquerque: Grunge is expected next year. After that, the police will be getting cars.

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Fuzzy Memories of the US '83 Festival

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The US '83 Festival - 30 Years Ago?
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I don't like to take strolls down Memory Lane very often, but it just hit me during this Memorial Day Weekend that it's been 30 years since the footnote in music history known as the "US '83" Festival. Longtime readers of barflies.net might remember that I wrote something about it 10 years ago but, as time goes on, I must continue to revise history. As the saying goes - the older I get, the better I used to be.

Here's the story: In 1983, I worked as one of those "hey peanuts!" vendors at Anaheim Stadium - home of the California Angels (note the deliberate use of obsolete names). Along with a few other "hawkers", I signed on to work as a roving soft drink vendor for the US '83 multi-day music festival in the hills above San Bernardino, CA. We were promised a commission-based pay along with meals and free campsites. The meals turned out to be leftover hotdogs and the "campground with a stream" turned out to be a dusty gravel parking lot with an open sewer, but we really didn't mind. The selling point for most of us was the music. The Clash were headlining Day One. I was more interested in seeing one of my favorite bands -- getting paid for it was just gravy. I wasn't about to buy a ticket for this circus and have to sit through eight or nine opening bands, so I was in. How much were tickets anyway? Twenty bucks a day? Outrageous!

My plan was a simple one: I would work during the bands I wasn't interested in and take breaks when there was a band I wanted to see. My vendor pass gave me access to everywhere but backstage, so I had some good vantage points.

I did buy a program (for $4.00), which I still have. Without it, I surely would have forgotten at least half the bands that played. Here, according to my official vintage souvenir concert program, is the complete line-up with my recollections:

DAY 1 - MAY 28TH - NEW WAVE DAY

Divinyls - I remember nothing about them.
INXS - I remember very little about them. They got big later.
Wall of Voodoo - I had seen them in an empty club a couple of years previous and they didn't really translate to the big stage. I don't remember if they did their "barbecued iguana" song. They probably did.
Oingo Boingo - I don't know where I was when they played. They must have played because it's printed here in the program.
The English Beat - I'm trying to find a smooth way to work "Save It For Later" into this. No luck.
Flock of Seagulls - A punch line even then. I ran. I ran so far away.
Stray Cats - They were great and really cleared the seagull poop out of my ears. They may have been marketed as a retro novelty act, but they could really play.
Men At Work - There really once was a number one hit single with the word "chunder" in it. Call me old-fashioned, but I like that.
The Clash - I had seen them several times before and this show turned out to be their last hurrah. They were about to break up and I may have sensed it, but even at their worst I thought they were great.
Yeah, I know they tried to come back with a new line-up but that's best forgotten.

DAY 2 - SUNDAY, MAY 29TH - HEAVY METAL DAY

Here's where I tell you what a big wimp I was. Here's my excuse - no sleep, bad food, and maybe a little bit of a hangover. The morning was hot and dusty. It was already 100 degrees at noon when Quiet Riot started to play. Quiet Riot sucked. They sucked, sucked, sucked. People were crawling over fences in every direction - some to sneak into the show and others to get away from Quiet Riot. It was getting ugly. The air was starting to smell druggy and stabby.
I went along with a few other vendors that decided to drive the hour back to our safe little suburban Orange County homes, get some sleep, eat real food, make use of indoor plumbing, and come back the next morning.
It might have been cool to see Ozzy Osborne or Judas Priest but I didn't. I may have wanted to see Van Halen's last hurrah with David Lee Roth (I think) but I didn't.
Wimp? Guilty as charged.
What are my hard rock credentials you ask? My first concert ever was Led Zeppelin and I once saw Motorhead perform in a roller rink. Not enough? Still a wimp?
I'm okay with that.
Did I mention that Quiet Riot sucked?

DAY 3 - MONDAY, MAY 30TH - MAINSTREAM DAY (I think that's what it was called)

Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul - A bunch of guys from Bruce Springsteen's band that played the kind of stuff that Springsteen didn't play anymore. I liked it.
Berlin - It wasn't too long before this that they were the house band at Ichabods in Fullerton. They had a hit record at the time but they couldn't quite fill the big stage.
Quarterflash - I don't remember much. I thought they were Pat Benatar.
U2 - You who? They were one of the bands that I really wanted to see. I think this show was their big breakthrough - they started to get popular right after this. They were actually really good before they got all huge and ridiculous.
Missing Persons - No recall.
Pretenders - I liked them. No details available.
Joe Walsh - I have nothing against Joe Walsh, but he played too many Eagles songs.
Stevie Nicks - I'll be nice here. She probably either doesn't remember this show or would like to forget it.
David Bowie - This was his first US show in a long time, I think it was hyped as a big comeback. It was good but I was too burned out to really appreciate it. I saw him at Anaheim Stadium a few months later and it was much better.

Day 4 - ABOUT A WEEK LATER - COUNTRY DAY
Everybody seems to forget about this one.

Riders in the Sky - I got there late and didn't see them.
Thrasher Brothers - No recollection whatsoever.
Ricky Skaggs - I stopped and watched him up close for a while and he played some amazing bluegrass stuff. Why didn't he do more of this instead of his boring, mainstream country hits? I think he does now. Good for him.
Hank Williams Jr. - "I'm BO-O-O-O-CEPHUS! I LIKE TO GET DRU-U-U-NK!" got really old after an hour or so.
Emmylou Harris - Very nice. I think she took extra care not to wake up the passed-out Hank Jr. fans.
Waylon Jennings - The Man. The Legend. He was Waylon Jennings and you will never be.
Alabama - I don't think I stayed to see them. If I did, I don't remember. They should not have been billed over Waylon Jennings.
Willie Nelson - I left before he played.

Okay, it's time to take the program and put it away for another ten years. Who knows what historical revisions and lies I will come up with in 2023?

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I wonder what these passes would go for on ebay.


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The Albuquerque Record Convention is held twice yearly in a banquet room at the MCM Eleganté Hotel and Event Center. In front of the hotel, there is a large marble monolith that displays the Ten Commandments. With the exceptions of murder and adultery, I believe I have seen every one of the commandments violated at every record show I have ever attended. Stealing, bearing false witness, and coveting are especially popular. Now that I mention it, "Murder at the Record Convention" would be a great title for a mystery novel. However, a book titled "Adultery at the Record Convention" would have to be science fiction.

This is the second time I've sold at the ABQ Convention and I think I've figured it out, which only proves that I haven't. The major difference between this show and the other record shows I've sold at - in the Seattle area, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Southern California - is the customer flow. In the "big city" shows, there is usually a great deal of wheeling and dealing going on before the show even starts, not only among the fellow dealers but with "early bird" customers that pay extra to annoy the dealers trying to set up and try to get the best stuff before the riff and the raff are allowed in. The initial feeding frenzy is usually followed by hours of desolate doldrums. Probably ninety percent of all commerce happens by the first hour of the show.
That type of behavior doesn't even compute in Albuquerque - I guess it's too far inland for sharks. I was pleasantly surprised by the slow and steady stream of customers that lasted all day. I guess that most Burqueños would rather sleep in on a weekend morning, go out and have a nice breakfast or lunch, and then maybe decide to go to a record swap meet. I am still experiencing mild culture shock.

One thing that doesn't change with region is the mostly harmless and endearing eccentricities of collectors.

Many record geeks like to talk. Many of them wrongly assume that I am knowledgeable about or interested in the same recording artists they are. Just because I'm sitting on this side of the table doesn't mean I know anything.
If someone insists on enlightening me about the Tony Danza Tap-dance Extravaganza, Magma, or Up With People, I start thinking of sure-fire conversation-ending statements. I won't give away all my best stuff, but I'll share a few. Keep in mind that I may like some of these artists, but I really don't have anything new to say about them.

To offend artsy, bohemian, hipster types, I suggest:
"I don't like free jazz - it has too many notes," or
"The Velvet Underground was so much better with Doug Yule than with John Cale."

If you have a Captain Beefheart fanatic bending your ear, try
"Trout Mask Replica' is just a bunch of noise - 'Bluejeans and Moonbeams' is a much better album." They will be stunned into silence.
WARNING: Many Beefheart fans are older and may have heart conditions, so use with caution.

If you really want to see somebody storm off in a huff, I suggest:
"Jimi Hendrix was over rated - he couldn't even stay in tune."
Actually, I stole that one. The person I stole if from also said,
"Kenney Jones was the best drummer for the Who - Keith Moon couldn't even keep time."


I have a story to end conversations with Pink Floyd fans. Unlike most of my stories, it's actually true. A former co-worker was a big Pink Floyd fan. I told him that I never liked the band and I thought they were boring. His immediate and sincere response was "that's because you've never fried." I accept that answer.

I confess that I borrowed the "too many notes" punch line from "I Hate Music" by the Replacements. You didn't think I could come up with something that clever on my own, did you?

Sometimes I like to test the market and conduct experiments. A month or so ago, I bought a box filled with twenty-some identical still-sealed Sammy Hagar CD's at a yard sale. I asked how or why they acquired the box and they told me, but I didn't fully understand the answer. The details were fuzzy - somebody knew somebody who knew somebody and five bucks for the whole box.
Since the cost per unit averaged less than 25 cents, I figured I could charge 50 cents each and double my money. That part worked just fine. What I didn't count on was the "Sammy Factor." Most copies went to other dealers, who bought multiples with the intent of selling them for a buck each, which I expected and applauded. However, the Sammy Factor came into play when one enthusiastic fan of Mr. Hagar presented me with two shiny new quarters and felt entitled not only to a compact disc, but to a lengthy conversation on the life and many accomplishments of a certain "Sammy J. Effingham Hagar, born on such and such a date in the year blah-blah-blah, in the city of blah-blah-blah, who learned to play guitar at age blah-blah-blah, started his first band 'Sammy Effingham and the Sandwiches' in 1950-something and you get the idea."
I thought this would be an opportunity to create a new conversation-ending statement. What came out of my mouth was, "I think it's all been downhill for Sammy Hagar since the first Montrose album in 1973."
This silenced him for only a few seconds before he lit up and said, "Yeah, 'Rock the Nation,' 'Space Station No. 5!'"
"Bad Motor Scooter," I tried to mumble incoherently.
"Yeah, 'Bad Motor Scooter,' what a great record!"
Oh no! He agreed with me! I didn't expect that. Instead of ending the conversation, my comment backfired and brought it to a whole new realm.

Sammyfan eventually went on his way. He returned later to show me that he had found another Sammy Hagar album that he was looking for. I couldn't help but feel happy for him. I'm not made of stone, you know.

There is a fine line between collector and hoarder. Selling stuff is my way of not going over to the dark side. I've also grown to believe there's something creepy about a collection that's too extensive. Besides, it's always more fun to get stuff than to have stuff. As I get older and less sentimental, it's becoming more fun to get rid of stuff. Unfortunately, that leads to buying more stuff just to get rid of it.

Do you remember CD long boxes? Let me either remind or inform you. When CD's first came out, they were packaged in larger boxes, presumably to prevent shoplifting. I don't know if it worked or not, but long boxes didn't last long. I recently found a Guns n' Roses CD in a thrift store that was still sealed in the long box. I bought it with the sole purpose of re-selling it - I never liked Guns n' Roses. I had no idea why anybody would want a CD in the long box, so I put what I thought was a wildly inflated price on it and hoped it would sell. It sold quickly. I should have priced it higher, I kind of wanted to keep it.

If I accomplished nothing else at the show, I'd like to think that I enabled and helped facilitate the meeting of two kindred musicians. Two big biker-looking guys both showed up at my table looking for blues records. Hitherto unacquainted with each other, they started talking about the local blues scene and discovering they had mutual friends. One mentioned he played guitar in a blues band.
The other one said, "You guys need a harp player? I play harp."
"No," said the guitarist, "We have a guitar player."
"I play harp, do you guys need a harp player?"
"No, we already have a guitar player," replied the obviously-hard-of-hearing guitarist. I guess that's common.
I couldn't help but interrupt.
"Dude, he plays harmonica. He wants to jam with you." Understood.
They exchanged numbers and continued bonding while restricting access to my table for other potential customers. I noticed a shy collector that looked like he was trying to summon up the courage to ask them to move. He wanted to flip through my records, but these two bearded mountains of denim and leather blocked his path. I sensed his intimidation and said, loud enough for all to hear, "If these guys are in your way, just push 'em."
The big guys laughed, apologized, and went off to take the blues world by storm. I hope they kick ass and take names.

I also sold some vinyl - lots of it. I could write something about that, but this article is too long already.

Record Weirdo - The Movie

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Here is a short movie (3 minutes) I did for a Digital Arts class. The clips are (mostly) compiled from youtube "vinyl community" posts. No, none of these people are me.

A Punk Charlie Brown Christmas

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Happy Holidays!

The Livers of Steel Tour

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Randy Rogers (of the Randy Rogers Band) at last night's sold-out show at the Troubadour. Reckless Kelly co-headlined, and Micky and the Motorcars opened, making for a solid four and a half hours of Texas country goodness.

RRB and RK will continue their tour through California this weekend, with stops in Bakersfield and San Luis Obispo, both of which I will also be attending. Livers of Steel indeed.

Record Weirdo - By The Time I Get To Phoenix

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I was in Phoenix, AZ last weekend. I hadn't been there in a long time. When did The Valley of the Sun get annexed by California? I'm not saying it's good or bad, I'm just saying it.

Close to half-gentrified and half-demolished downtown Phoenix, I was pleased to find Revolver Records - a happy haven of vinyl geekdom. It looked, felt, sounded, and smelled exactly like a record store should. I was also pleased to observe that the store appeared to be thriving - not just with the old weirdos crawling on the floor to peruse the boxes of albums that were tucked into every nook and cranny of the room, but also with younger folks who still care enough about life to practice personal hygiene. I limited my shopping to the upper racks and bought some mid-priced classic-rock comfort food by the likes of John Lennon, the Who, and the second Generation X album that I used to have but lost over time. I've been playing it safe and boring for a while, but the store does stock plenty of the newer stuff that all the hipsters dig. Revolver claims to have over 25,000 records in stock and that looks about right, although most of them have been relegated to the $1.00 boxes on the floor. I didn't want to bother with those because I knew I would end up buying a bunch of crap, but I was forced to. There was a dry-erase board by the front counter with a rock trivia question written on it. The prize for the correct answer was a free $1.00 record. Long story short, I selected a rode-hard-and-put-away-wet copy of "Elvis Sings 'Burning Love' and Hits From His Movies."

Alice Cooperstown is a rock-themed sports bar and restaurant in downtown Phoenix. Yes, it is owned by Alice Cooper and yes, I had to go there. I had no problem with the "Welcome to My Nightmare" chili, which I found quite delicious, but I did have problems with some of the rock memorabilia on display. For example, there was an autographed white Fender Telecaster in a glass case with a plaque stating that it was Jeff Beck's guitar, but if you looked closely at the signature, it looked like "Billy Joel." Another issue was the memorabilia near our table, which were record company certificates commemorating sales or radio play of the dippy Alice Cooper ballads "You and Me" and "I Never Cry" instead of REAL Alice Cooper songs like "School's Out" or "No More Mr. Nice Guy." Other than that, I liked it.

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ABQ Record Store Update: I finally made it to Mecca Records. I read some online reviews that said the clerks were rude and condescending. However, I found the clerk to be pleasant and polite. I'll probably go back anyway.

Correction: In a previous posting, I referred to a store called "I Buy Music." The correct name of the store is "We Buy Music." I still don't think it's a very good name.

The Dollywood Bowl

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Bob Dylan Does Not Eat Monkey Food

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When I was a kid, my dad would occasionally drag my brother and me to a train museum out in the middle of the desert. Next to the train museum was the saddest zoo in the world. The only thing I remember about the zoo was an old disease-ridden monkey in a cage. Next to the monkey's cage was gumball-type vending machine that dispensed "monkey food" (suspiciously like dried dog chow) for a nickel. After getting our nickel's worth, we would throw some food in the cage and the monkey would squeal and scramble for it. Years later, while attending a Bob Dylan concert together in the Livestock Exhibition Hall at the Red Bluff, CA Fairgrounds, my brother and I both recalled that childhood memory. We anticipated the Bob Dylan show would be like the sad monkey we remembered from the train museum zoo - you put a nickel in the machine, it dispenses some monkey food (or a cigarette) to throw in Bob Dylan's cage, and he would respond by singing a song.

We were wrong. Bob Dylan has made a career out of defying expectations. Bob Dylan does not eat monkey food.

When Dylan's recent Albuquerque appearance was announced, I wasn't really interested, but as the date approached my interest grew. Finally, the day before the show, I broke down and bought the cheapest ticket in the house. Upon entry at the venue, I was given a free upgrade due to low ticket sales. I ended up not sitting in either place because there were enough empty seats for me to see the show from several different vantage points. I eventually ended up in about the third row. The only drawback to this prime location was a 70-ish woman who kept shouting "I love you, Bob!" That woman may or may not have been Joan Baez.

This was not a young crowd. In order to buy beer, you needed two forms of ID - a license and an AARP card (rim shot!). Not only that, but the bartenders would also check your file for possible interactions with your medication (rim shot! cymbal crash!).

You can tell that many people attend Bob Dylan shows to merely pay homage to what he used to be rather than to appreciate the artist that he is now. Many observers expecting a greatest hits revue are left dumbfounded. Dylan's voice is not much more than a hoarse croak these days, but he makes the most of it with masterful phrasing worthy of the smarmiest lounge singer. Here how the songs usually go: the band will launch into a loose-but-tight bluesy, jazzy jam based on some vaguely familiar riff and then Dylan will jump in at some seemingly random point. After a key line or a chorus, audience members will finally recognize the song and start applauding. Some will attempt to sing along before becoming hopelessly lost and giving up. Call it what you want, I call it damned fine entertainment. Bob Dylan's demented Southern Colonel suit, with white hat and shoes, was merely the icing on the cake.

Dylan didn't play much guitar. He spent most of the time either behind a keyboard or stepping out front - sans axe - to bleat with his voice or harmonica. Center stage was usually occupied by the still-handsome guitar whiz and former teen idol Charlie Sexton. It was nice of Bob to provide some eye candy for the ladies - all twelve of them.

It may be my imagination, but during Bob Dylan's harmonica solo in "Forever Young," it sounded like he was playing that horrible "Sing It Out Loud" song from that Heineken commercial. Side effects may include...

Josh Abbott Band

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Just a few years ago, Josh Abbott was learning how to play the guitar. Earlier this month, he played to 15,000 fans in Austin, all of whom knew every word to his single, "Oh, Tonight." Last night, he brought his Texas goodness to the Viper Room in Los Angeles. After obsessing over his music for over a year, it was a treat to finally see him in action.

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