Rock Gods #313: Adventures in Our Little Music Scene

The C Worms were just getting into a righteous groove at the summer club Shecky’s Shell Shack when they got shellacked by a wave of unexpected feedback.
Then it happened again. And again and again and again. And again. At regular intervals, until it was EXPECTED feedback. The inevitability of which produced a singular surf stomp. When folks got up to dance on the creaky stage (supported by lobster crates), the warped sounds were indistinguishable from the refined ones.
When an old gent got up from the restaurant counter and started clattering a pair of chowder spoons up and down his body, the sandy cacophony was complete.
The band has not been asked back by the Shell Shack (apparenlty they gave some of the war veterans who make up much of the beachside bar’s clientele uncomfortable flashbacks). But they have been asked to revise the act for a neo-classical concert at the college on the hill. Sounds like a bad joke, but it’s true. This may be the start of something willfully obscure…

Tonight: Aerated Static Pile at the Bullfinch… Blue Bin at Hamilton’s… An Evening with The Algal Blooms at D’ollaire’s…

Riverdale Book Review

One of the enduring mysteries of The Archies, at least in their comic book incarnation (distinct from their recordings and TV manifestations) is whether this is a successful band or not. In some stories, they are a humble, struggling garage band hoping to land a gig, any gig. In other stories, they’re touring the world, playing arenas alongside Josie & the Pussycats and The Madhouse Glads.
‘Twas ever thus. In the early ’70s story “I’ll Bite!,” which has just been reprinted in Betty & Veronica Comics Double Digest #229, The Archies are playing their biggest hit song in the living room of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, who brags too her aunt “Isn’t that a great song, Aunt Hilda? They received a gold record for’Sugar Sugar.'”
“Bah!,” Aunt Hilda responds. “Ever since I heard the Archies music is on the air, I’m tempted to stop breathing it.”
In the world of Archie, rock & roll largely exists as a reason to be tossed out the front door by a disapproving authority figure. It is as great a signifier of the generation gap as clothing or slang. A guitar might as well be a target, or a toreador’s red flag. It doesn’t matter that The Archies have sold a million records, or are showing responsibility and good business sense (not to mention creativity and musical ability) by managing such a project while still in their teens. It ultimately doesn’t make a difference, in Archie world, if they’ve sold a million records or zero. They’ll never win over their parents with that blasted noise.

Songs of the Year

ABBA, “Happy New Year.”

Zager & Evans, “In the Year 2525.”
David Bowie, “Golden Years.”
Paul Simon, “Still Crazy After All These Years.”

The Yardbirds, “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago.”
Conway Twitty, “Fifteen Years Ago.”
The Rolling Stones, “100 Years Ago.”
George Harrison, “All Those Years Ago.”
Cheap Trick, “All Those Years.”

Led Zeppelin, “Ten Years Gone.”
Elton John, “Sixty Years On.”
Five for Fighting, “100 Years.”
Sting, “A Thousand Years.”
Kiss, “100,000 Years.”
The Grass Roots, “I’d Wait a Million Years.”
The Faceless, “Ten Billion Years.”

David Bowie, “Five Years.”
Guns N’ Roses, “14 Years.”
Taylor Swift, “Fifteen.”
The Griswolds, “Sixteen Years.”
Ratatat, “Seventeen Years.”

Tori Amos, “Pretty Good Year.”
Elvis Costello, “A Good Year for the Roses.”
Diana Ross, “Best Years of My Life.”
The Zombies, “This Will Be Our Year.”

Al Stewart, “Year of the Cat.”
Primus, “Year of the Parrot.”

Rock Gods #312: Adventures in Our Little Music Scene

The Fightin’ Men show at Lady Augusta’s neo-speakeasy last week led to poop. The bathroom was behind the stage. The band were either annoyed with the influx of weak-bladdered invaders, or just confused. The inevitable happened—the bushes outside the place saw more action than the bathroom. Then the not-so-inevitable happened—somebody pooped on the sidewalk in front. Not one of those brown-paper-bag-on-fire gags either.
So just like that, the Fightin’ Men were the first and last band to play Lady Augusta’s. Solo acoustic shows by Tasha Dannon and Lee Inster may go on as planned, but the Four Masters and Cum Hail shows? Cancelled.
Thing is, The Fightin’ Men were on good behavior. They didn’t hit a single person with a brick. They didn’t like folks crossing the stage, sure, but we’ve seen folksingers get more irate about that than they did.
This was the crowd’s fault. Too young, too wild, too eager to break in (or just break) a new music den. Move on. Move on.

Tonight: At least we’ve got Hamilton’s. Book of Invasions is there, doing side one of Frot’s Wrampage… The Bullfinch has O’Curry (full band) and the aforementioned Tasha Dannon. Mind your manners… D’ollaire’s is a dance party. No, it’s not.

Riverdale Book Review

Archie #663, arriving just months before the title’s big makeover, deals with some key elements of the character’s legacy. Just one story in the issue, with multiple subplots, trendily titled “Sons of Anarchie.” In the first few pages, Archie’s old Mustang-like automobile falls apart (and into a lake) so he goes to his grandfather (who looks alarmingly like his grandson, even though neither of Archie’s parents resemble him in the least) to see if his previous vehicle, that red Model T jalopy of yore, can be revived in time for that night’s big opera concert, a mandatory event for those who want to pass Prof. Flutesnoot’s music class. Grandpa offers Archie an old motor scooter instead, which turns out to be a hip and influential choice. Veronica, meanwhile, also becomes carless, and rides a house too School. Hilarity ensues.
There are obvious problems with this story. Like, when did Prof. Flutesnoot stop teaching chemistry and switch to music?; did Archie blow up the chem lab one too many times? But in most respects, the tale (written by Chuck Dixon, not an established Archie scribe) follows the comfortable and familiar model of clumsy, penniless Archie getting in scrapes while trying to survive high school and please his girlfriend. If the impending “new Archie” changes too many of these essential characteristics, well at least the old title is going out in classic style.

Scribblers Music Review

Jim Beloff, Dreams I Left in Pockets
Jim Beloff found his voice decades ago when he picked up a ukulele at a flea market, struck a chord, and quit his day job. He has done much to improve the Joe’s stature in the 20th century, helping develop the Flea and Fluke models, publishing the “jumping Jim” songbooks and teaching others to play. Beloff is a skilled arranger of songs by other composers, but he’s always tossed an original song or two into his songbooks and they can be exquisite too. He takes simple concepts of beauty, graciousness and passion and applies them to gentle four-string strumming. I’ve heard Jim Beloff play live a few times, and he’s done a few recordings Before this one, including the lovely dust album rare air with his wife Liz. Dreams I Left in Pockets is presented squarely as a showcase for his songwriting prowess. Some are great advertisements for its favored instrument and the culture that surrounds it: “Blues on a Ukulele,” “That Hawaiian Melody,” “I’m Carry a Tiki Torch for You.” Others are odes to wandering, presumably with a uke in hand: “The Open Road,” “At the Magic Laundromat.” Some are both whimsical and wistful: “Scratchy Records,” “I’m So Happy Not to Be Sad.” The best of the tunes, such as “Charles Ives,” are both whimsical and inspirational, clear and uncompromising declarations lightly filtered through an unassuming uke and Jim Beloff’s own gentle soul.