Me Gotta Go Now

Thursday, September 16, 2004


Clay's First


Clay's Second (and more on the way)

Clay Burnham, Please Come Home!


Cap’n Bob cruised down from Tacoma yesterday with a another boatload of books to sell at Powell’s. This time he had a stack of boxes about as tall as he is, and garnered dirty looks from other wannabe booksellers as he monopolized the bookbuying clerk for what seemed an age. Bob’s cast-offs will soon be available for exorbitant prices at http://powells.com/.

BUT, while this was going on, in strolled soon-to-be-famous Western writer Clay Burnham. We, of course, spotted him right off, despite the fact he was in disguise. Clay, you see, is a man of two countries, with an identity for each. In England, he’s a hardbitten, roughriding owlhoot who no doubt resembles John Wayne in Stagecoach. Meanwhile, back here in the States, he poses as Steve Kaye, a mild-mannered suburbanite with a taste for snap-brim hats.

Clay/Steve attempted to explain this strange state of affairs, but I must admit I’m still having a hard time getting my brain around it. The two Western novels pictured above were published in England under the Black Horse Books imprint, an offshoot of Robert Hale of London. Black Horse, we are told, publishes solely for the British library system, where patrons must pay to check out books. Sounds distinctly UnAmerican to me.

What right do these Brits have to co-opt our homegrown Western writers and hog them all to themselves? I mean, Jeez, I enjoy lots of British authors, like George MacDonald Fraser and John Mortimer and Jonathan Gash and so on and so on, but I’m pretty sure their books are also available to folks back in their home country. As of now, the only place outside a British library where you can get your hands on a Clay Burham book is from Amazon UK (http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0709075324/qid%3D1095551995/026-8860702-1131656).


Here’s hoping we soon have an end to this sad state affairs, and are able to find Clay’s books at bookstores, supermarkets and 7-11s everywhere.

More about Clay at
http://home.comcast.net/~clayburnham/index.htm.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


Rock Star stamp


Famous Author stamp


Famous DeeJay stamp

Photo Stamping


At first blush, this Photo Stamp thing sounded like a really swell idea. At long last, I thought, We the People would have the means to address the Postal Service’s many oversights in selecting stamp art.

Why, for example, have my childhood role models Heckle & Jeckle never appeared on an official U.S. stamp? Or The Three Stooges? And what about other almost equally deserving folks like The Kingsmen, Zorro, Zatoichi, Jim Bowie, Lance Casebeer, Alfred E. Newman and Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

Thankfully, I thought, the tyranny had ended. For a mere $16.99 plus $2.99 S/H, I was led to believe, I could now get 20 stamps depicting anything I wanted from
http://photo.stamps.com/.

Then I read the fine print. Lots of fine print. Some of the restrictions were to be expected, even if bothersome. No nudity or violence, for example. No politicians or other criminals.

Also banned is material that is obscene, offensive, blasphemous, pornographic, unlawful, deceptive, threatening, menacing, abusive, harmful, an invasion of privacy or publicity rights, supportive of unlawful action, defamatory, libelous, vulgar, illegal, or otherwise objectionable. And of course any material that contains or depicts sexually explicit or sexually suggestive material, rude or obscene material, graphic violence or illegal activities, celebrities or celebrity likenesses, regional, national or international leaders, current or former world leaders, or newsworthy, notorious or infamous images and individuals. And a few additional categories, covering such stuff as copyrighted material and child pornography.

So what can you put on the ding dang things? Babies, pre-teens, pets, animals, business and charity logos, landscapes, wildlife and vehicles. That’s it. Subject to all the other restrictions, of course. And just in case anyone is confused after studying the list of banned material, the site adds the following line in extra bold print:
No images depicting teenage or adult persons will be accepted.

So, unfortunately, none of my correspondents or creditors will be seeing the above-pictured stamps any time soon. All three subjects are obviously disqualified on the grounds of being adult persons as well as notorious or infamous celebrities.

Gee. Wow. I can hardly wait to have stamps made of my cats. Real soon now.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


*** (out of 5)

Anti Hero


Been looking forward to this film since I saw a clip of it on the Academy Awards show a year or so ago. So when it finally came to town, got good reviews, and became the top box office draw of the Labor Day weekend, I was even more psyched. After all, I’ve never seen a Jet Li movie I didn’t like.

This one, though, is different. I still like it, I guess. Sort of. But not the way I expected, and not nearly as much as I expected. Sure, it’s intellectually stimulating. Yeah, the cinematography is incredible. OK, it’s just possibly the most beautiful martial arts film ever made.

But, much as I like my kung fu movies made with style and grace, I also expect a rip-roaring story with a sense of humor and a lot of mindless butt-kicking. (My ideals in this vein are Iron Monkey (1994)
http://movies.go.com/movies/I/ironmonkey_1994/, who’s a cross between Robin Hood and Zorro, and The Legend of Fong Sai-Yuk (1993), a Jet Li film now marketed as simply The Legend. http://www.kungfucinema.com/reviews/fongsaiyuk.htm).

Hero, unfortunately, is slow. And serious. And arty. And tragic. And sad. It tries to be a lot more than a kung fu movie, and I suppose it succeeds. But in the end, it left me unsatisfied, like I needed to go out and rent an old Zatoichi flick.

Monday, September 13, 2004


My 2nd favorite new Johnson Smith item. Plug it in, plug it in.


No foolin'! Available at www.johnsonsmith.com.

Secrets of Time Travel Revealed!


Just got the latest Johnson Smith Co catalog, the one titled “Things You Never Knew Existed…” Gotta admit, I do always see one or two. My favorite this time is this how-to manual on time travel. Here's the blurb:

"Strap yourselves in, folks, and take a journey into the unknown. Former military intelligence operative offers safe, simple and proven ways to travel through time. Using secrets of ancient mystics and methods allegedly perfected by covert U.S. military agencies, you can visit the past or future whenever you choose. Shows you how to cross dimensions, enter vortex and window areas and successfully break the barriers of time and space. Change your life by using ancient and modern secrets of time travel. 160 pages."

Looks like a steal at only $14.98 (plus $3.98 shipping). One quick trip to the future, say for the score of next year’s Superbowl, and it would pay for itself many times over.

The ad doesn’t address any of those pesky paradoxes raised by fictional time travel, like what happens if you meet yourself? and can you change the past? and would that screw up the present? and are there timecops out there to dissuade you from doing that stuff? And it doesn’t even hint at my big question – can I bring stuff back with me? Like pulps and movie posters from the 30s, comics from the 40s, cap guns from the 50s and Marx sets from the 60s, or fancy gadgets from the future. I’d also like to know if I can take some of my junk from the present to the future and sell it for a fortune.

Guess I’ll have to fork over the twenty bucks and find out. If I don’t like the book, I can always travel back to the moment before I placed the order. Or can I?


Damn. It’s another of those pesky paradoxes.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Death By Disgust


We had a murder here the other night. A guy was shot seven times outside a strip joint called The Backswing. Our daily rag The Oregonian had this to say:

"A bouncer ran outside and found 31-year-old Kenneth Ivey Davis bleeding in the street. Shot multiple times, Davis died behind an establishment that neighbors say makes a bad street even worse. Their complaints run the gamut, from bad food and unnatractive strippers to late-night fights and drug deals they say they have seen outside."

The message is clear: Bad food and ugly strippers are a deadly combo.

America, you've been warned.

The preceding is presented as a Public Service Announcement by Me Gotta Go Now, a socially-conscious blog.


Sittin' Bull and George agree: Blog, Cap'n, Blog.

Saturday, September 11, 2004


Wyatt Earp


Jim Hardy


Flint McCullough

Cap'n Bob's Army


These three icons of the TV West stopped by with a message for Cap’n Bob Napier. The message is: “Hey! How about blogging some of your toy soldiers for the rest of the world to enjoy?”

In case you don’t already know, Cap’n Bob has more toy soldiers than almost anyone on the planet. (Toy soldiers, I must explain, is a generic term which includes not only actual army figures from every country and period of history, but a whole lot of types we might normally consider civilians. Like cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, astronauts and aliens, Christians and lions, pirates, Eskimos, athletes, fashion models, cavemen, circus folk and cartoon characters. The Cap’n has all these and many more.) He has them in all sizes from 1/72 scale (a bit more than half an inch) up to 6” dimestore figures. The Marx figures pictured above are 54mm, or roughly 2” tall, and were the stars of playsets issued in the sixties.

Anyway, Bob has been amassing these guys for close to twenty years now and stashing them away in his private museum. He has so many that if the census bureau ever caught on, Tacoma would instantly leap ahead of Seattle as the state’s most populous city.

It is the opinion of everyone here at Me Gotta Go Now (namely me, Wyatt, Jim and Flint) that it’s about time he started sharing his incredible collection with eyeballs everywhere, in the form of a daily blog.

If you agree, please add your encouragement using the comment link below.

You don’t have to be a Blogger to comment, but you do need to create an account (don’t worry – it’s FREE – and you don’t even have to use your own name). All you need is a username, password and screen name, and you’ll also be able to comment on such world-famous blogs as these:
http://billcrider.blogspot.com
http://frankdenton.blogspot.com/
http://jamesreasoner.blogspot.com/

To get started, click on the link below that reads “O comments” or “1 comments” or whatever it says at the moment. It will then invite you to either sign in or get your own account. Once you’ve completed Step 1 of the process, CREATE AN ACCOUNT, it will take you to Step 2, where you can create a blog. At that point you can just X out of the screen, return to this or other blogs and comment to your heart’s content. Or hey, do like we want the Cap’n to, and start your own.

Friday, September 10, 2004


The First Edition


Back cover (click on photo for enlarged view)

It Was All Just Rock 'n' Roll


This is only half a book review, because I’m only halfway through it. But I have no doubt the second half will be just as great as the first.

Pat O’Day, for you foreigners, is best known in these parts as the greatest ever disc jockey of the Northwest’s greatest ever radio station, KJR Seattle, Channel 95. He was on the air from 1959 to 1968, after which he continued as general manager for another six years. At the same time, he operated an ever-expanding teen dance circuit that helped promote Northwest bands and brought in a steady stream of national talent. In the late 60’s, when teens wanted to sit rather than dance, he formed Concerts West and took big-name rockers on tour through the rest of the country.

This is his story, in his own words (with an undisclosed amount of help from fine-print collaborator Jim Ojala). His many anecdotes and adventures are wacky, outrageous, incredible, sometimes touching and always interesting. I’ve encountered few nonfiction books that have been this hard to put down.

The photos above give you a sampling of the book’s enormous cast of characters. Hendrix, Elvis, The Who, The Beach Boys, The Raiders, The Beatles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Merrilee Rush, Jan and Dean, Roy Orbison, and so on and so on. If you love rock ‘n’ roll and have even a passing interest in the dance/radio/concert business, this is the book for you.

Its publishing history is a little complicated. The first edition came out in October 1992 and quickly became scarce. By the time I first saw it at Louie Fest 2003, it was into a second printing and selling for $35. Six months later, at an O’Day appreciation event I attended in Tacoma, a new improved Second Edition had been published, and the original was going for $50. At Louie Fest 2004, the Second Edition was still going for $35, and the first for $75. I once saw an online book dealer asking $199 for the first, though I doubt he ever got it.

Luckily for me, being cheap, I found new copies of the first for myself and a couple of friends on eBay for $9.99 each. I don’t see any listed there today, but one of the associated dealers has a buy-it-now “very good” used copy for $11.52.

According to co-author Jim Ojala, the Second Edition, titled It Was All Just Rock ‘n’ Roll II, has 20 pages of new material and over 2000 corrections. 2000 corrections! I find that mind-boggling. In the first third of the book, I caught only a few typos and one factual error. Nearing the middle, the typos picked up speed, sometimes several per page. But it’s still hard to imagine 2000 mistakes. Someday the Second Edition will come out in paperback and I’ll be able to compare the two.

But for now, who cares? I'm having too much fun reading the first.

The official web site is here:
http://www.pat-oday.com/

Thursday, September 09, 2004


1961 LP and 2004 CD

Kerry Rocks On


Back in my first post about Louie Fest 2, when I was bitching about the Kerry rally eating up all the Tacoma Dome parking space, I mentioned that his old band The Electras had recorded The Wailers’ tune Shanghaied.

That’s still true, but I’ve since learned that Shanghaied, along with the rest of the band's rare 1961 album, is now readily available on CD. I’ve found three web sites devoted to The Electras, and any one of them will give you the opportunity to purchase the CD for $14 plus two bucks postage. All three offer free downloadable clips of at least some of the songs. The best sampler is on the “kerryrocks” site: a 7-minute medley giving you a few seconds of each track.

Actually, they’d probably sell more CDs if they didn’t provide the free clips. I was curious enough that I might have forked over the sixteen bucks, but that 7-minute sampler cured me.

It’s not that the music is bad. It might be, but the recording is so cheesy it’s hard to tell. Sounds like the album was recorded in somebody’s basement on a small reel-to-reel machine with a single plastic mike. I say that because the sound quality is about the same as the tapes my band The Company Soul made under those circumstances a few years later in Spokane. An eBay dealer offering the disc says, “This has been remastered and the sound is quite good.” Scary to contemplate what it sounded like before.

Another eBay dealer is peddling what looks like a competing version, with a starting bid of $7 and two bucks postage. His is a limited edition of 1000 copies featuring the original cover art. That price was a little more tempting, until I noticed there was no mention of his even being remastered. Shudder.

Shanghaied is not the only Northwest-related piece on the album. There’s also You Can’t Sit Down (done to perfection by Mark Lindsay and the Raiders on their first Columbia album Here They Come), and Ya Ya, which was covered by both The Wailers and The Kingsmen.

Still, I think I’ll wait until the price goes down. Way down. Or better yet, until a friend buys one and lets me borrow it. (Hear that, Brian? I think you definitely need this for your collection!)

More info at:
http://www.johnkerryandtheelectras.com/
http://www.electrasrockandrollband.com/home.htm
http://www.kerryrocks.com/ (includes 7 minute sampler)

NOTE OF POLITICAL IMPORT: Me Gotta Go Now is an equal time blog. If anyone can provide me with recordings of Ralph Nader’s or George W’s high school rock bands, I’ll be happy to disparage them too. Even Dick Cheney’s.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


Nokie's baby


Ventures custom model

Louie Leftovers: Ventures Guitars


Two of the most interesting booths at Louie Fest featured guitars attributed to the Ventures. I have a few of their old albums kicking around somewhere, but must admit I’ve never been a big fan, and don’t know much about them. This despite the fact they began as a Tacoma band, same as The Wailers. Both groups got their start playing the Northwest circuit, and both were primarily instrumental. And they weren’t the only ones. Up the road in Seattle were the Dave Lewis Combo (no relation other than spiritual), The Dynamics and The Viceroys. The thing is, The Ventures never moved me the way those other bands did, and still don’t.

I believe there are two reasons for this. First, they hit so big and so early (1960 or so) with Walk, Don’t Run, that by the time I started paying attention to Northwest rock (around 1963) they were no longer considered a Northwest band. But the other reason is probably the biggie: their music appears to have sprung from tamer roots. While The Wailers and the other guys were sneaking into rhythm & blues clubs for their inspiration, The Ventures were home listening to their Chet Atkins records. That’s where they first heard Walk, Don’t Run, and they’ve stuck with the clean-pickin’ Atkins style ever since.

So, compared to the raunchy, biting, often sax-driven instrumentals of the bands I revere, The Ventures are too smooth, too sweet, too twangy, too perfect. Aside from a few outstanding cuts, their stuff strikes me as great elevator music, but not great rock.

So, you say, if they ain’t that good, how come they’ve been more successful than all those other Northwest groups combined? Good question. Maybe smooth, sweet, twangy and perfect is what the world’s masses prefer. But I’d rather listen to Beat Guitar (Wailers), J.A.J. (Dynamics), Goin’ Back to Granny’s (Viceroys) and David’s Mood Pt. 2 (Dave Lewis) than Walk, Don’t Run and it’s progeny any day.

That said, The Ventures have now provided the world with some cool guitars, as we saw at Louie Fest. Most impressive was the Hitchhiker, on display at the Nokie Edwards booth. Nokie, The Ventures’ original lead player, was there to demonstrate, and along with his talented booth partner (whose name we never did learn) kept the hot licks flowing almost continuously. He also got on stage to play a few leads for the Elvis impersonator. In his hands, the Hitchhiker was an amazing instrument. It left Bob and I both wishing we had an extra $2100 in our pockets. If YOU are that lucky, check out
http://www.nokieedwards.org/customguitar.htm

On the other side of the hall was a booth run by the Wilson Bros., makers of the Ventures model guitars. According to the literature, these were designed by The Ventures themselves, and are now played by them exclusively. (Where this leaves Nokie, I’m not sure, because I get the feeling he’s still technically a member of the group.) Anyway, they offer some acoustics and a Strat lookalike, but the distinctive carved-top custom models the band uses (made in Japan, I believe) retail for about two grand. They also offer Korean versions with a list price of $699 (but offered by Music 123 for $559). It’s a cool looking-alternative to Strats and Les Pauls, but what the world really needs is a Wailers model guitar. More details at:
http://www.wilsonguitarventures.com/.

And finally, having thoroughly maligned the poor old Ventures, I offer this free plug. Their own official web site is at
http://www.theventures.com/.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004


Takeshi Kitano: writer, director and star

The Return of Zatoichi


No Louies today. It’s Zatoichi time.

I can’t pretend to know anything about Japanese cinema. Or any other kind of cinema, for that matter. But I know what I like, and I like samurai movies. Twenty-some years ago there were a lot of like-minded samurai fans here in Portland, and one of the neighborhood theaters catered to us with frequent double features and occasional festivals. My favorite film of the time was Yojimbo, and my favorite actor Toshiro Mifune.

There seemed to me a three-tiered hierarchy of samurai movies. At the top were the A-film blockbusters, like Seven Samurai and Ran. Slightly less prestigious, but still with good acting and high production values , were films like The Hidden Fortress, Rashomon and Yojimbo. And then there were the cheapie action flicks, the B-Westerns of the samurai genre, like the Zatoichi series.

The Zatoichi movies (and there were a lot of them) were a perfect mix of violence and humor. Zatoichi, a hunched-over, little blind masseur with the face of a toad, would shuffle into town in his funny hat, where some gang of toughs were sure to try and rob him. Off with the hat, out with the sword, and half a dozen toughs would be lying dead in the street. Survivors, if any, ran off squealing, “Oh, no! Zatoichi!” Fond memories.

So when I saw that a new Zatoichi had hit town, it got my blood pumping. And yesterday I finally saw it. Old Zato’s new incarnation, I’m pleased to say, nicely lives up to the original. Once again, he has no agenda of his own. He just wanders into town looking for food, shelter, sake and the nearest gambling establishment, and gets caught up in somebody else’s troubles.

The new film is bloodier, probably due to our increased insensitivity to it, and more noticeable because everything is now in color. (For some reason, I have a hard time getting used to color samurai. In my imagination, they’re still black & white.) I wasn’t counting, but thinking back, I’d guestimate the body count at somewhere around fifty, more than half sliced up by Zato himself. But to offset the blood, there’s also more humor. Add a few quirky characters, a few plot twists and a couple of surprises at the finish, and you get an enjoyable two hours of chuckles and bloodletting.

The only slow part was a stretch in middle involving the two geishas whose troubles drive the plot. And the only annoying scene was a long geisha dance accompanied by one of those funky little Japanese banjos played one screeching note at a time. That scene could have used a little Louie.

Metacritic gave the film a 71 (
http://www.metacritic.com/film/titles/zatoichi/). I might rate it a little lower for the general public, but for armchair ronin like me, it’s required viewing.

Monday, September 06, 2004


The Wailers


The Kingsmen


Dick and Kent's duet


Me and Clapton Bob


Alex and Brian


Guest Conductor


Tough Jimi Gaston


Celebrity Jam

Louiemania, Pt. 4


The Wailers were supposed to take the stage at 3:30. (I should note that since their revival in 1995 the band has been officially known as The Fabulous Wailers, taken from the title of their 1959 LP, to avoid confusion with the Marley-free reggae boys who are still using the Wailer name. To me, though, fabulous or not, they're still just The Wailers.) Anyway, the stage took longer to set up than planned. Understandably so. They were setting up not only for a back-to-back show with The Kingsmen, but for the army of guest guitarists who would join them for the big Louie, Louie finale.

It must have been an electrician’s nightmare up there. A great wall of amplifiers marched across the stage, lined with a forest of microphones and monitors. Getting all that calibrated took an amazing amount of time. To fill the musical gap, we slightly-less-than-celebrity guitarists started getting our own equipment set up on the floor.

By this time, a respectable crowd had filtered into the Dome. Folks with guitar cases had been trickling in all day, and while I doubt we approached the 750-odd of Louie Fest 1, there were enough of us to make a considerable racket. Our little group snagged a spot in the second row and proceeded to crunch out our individual interpretations of the Louie theme.

When all the fiddling was finally done on stage, The Wailers roared into their 30-minute set. I don’t remember what all they did, but it sounded great, as always. I know they did my all-time favorite Wailers tune, Dirty Robber, followed by their all-time biggest hit, Tall Cool One. No matter what I was hearing on stage, I gotta admit I still had Louie, Louie running through my head.

The Kingsmen followed immediately and absolutely kicked butt. These guys are a far cry from the sloppy party band they were in the 60s. They’ve evolved into one of the tightest, hardest-rockin’ bands on the planet. They surprised us all (including The Wailers, I think), by doing Louie as the last song of their set, and inviting us to join in. Halfway through they were calling for The Wailers to join them on stage, which didn’t happen. I had the feeling they thought they were supposed to start the official Louie jam. The announced plan, however, called for a break to introduce all the celebrity guitar players, then a celebrity jam of some unannounced song, followed at last by the 1000-or-less Louie attempt.

But hell, we didn’t mind. We all jumped in, and didn’t want to stop. And some folks didn’t - continuing to play right through several minutes of last-minute celebrity set-up and introductions. The introductions were made by Roger Hart, the one-time Portland disc jockey responsible for helping Paul Revere & the Raiders break out of the Northwest. There weren’t a lot of big name stars. Nokie Edwards, original lead for the Ventures, was up there. And Doug Heath, long-time guitar player for Revere’s post-Lindsay Raiders. And two of my present-day Northwest favorites, Portland bluesman Lloyd Jones (
http://lloydjonesmusic.com/) and Tim Langford of the hard-rockin’ blues band Too Slim and the Taildraggers (http://www.tooslim.org/mtb.htm).

By the time everyone was ready, they must have decided to skip the celebrity jam. They went immediately to the mass performance of Louie, saying they hoped to keep it under an hour. An hour sounded great to me, but I’m pretty sure it actually lasted less than 10 minutes. I dialed Drew in Omaha just before the thing started, and laid my cell phone down to let him listen. When I picked it up afterwards, surprised to find him still there, I think the elapsed time read 9:52. What the whole thing sounded like over a cell phone I hate to imagine, but to us in front of the stage it sounded fantastic. Everyone up there, including a couple of horn players, did solos, and Wailers lead singer Kent Morrill did a long duet with The Kingsmen’s Dick Peterson. Paul Revere roamed the floor brandishing his toy flintlock and mugging for photos. Cap’n Bob rocked, I rolled, Brian did his Jimi Hendrix impersonation, and Alex showed us all up with some fancy lead work. And luckily (or unluckily) for posterity, Laurie Mills, chanteuse and keyboard artist for eclectic Portland combo CenterLine, popped in just in time to immortalize us all in digital images.

When the Louieing was all over, the guys on stage were just as pumped as the rest of us. So they decided it was finally time for their celebrity blues jam. We weren't exactly invited to join in, but it wasn't necessary. It would have been damned hard to stop us. Another 15 minutes later, when the jamming finally blasted to a stop, I found Drew still on the phone, experiencing all this madness from 1500 miles away. Ample evidence that, like me, he’s no less demented than he was 37 years ago.

Next year, promised the promoters, we’d do it all again, and maybe add another song – like Peter Gunn. Suits me down to the ground. Not only is it just possibly the third-coolest song in the world, but I have a whole year to learn it. As I write this, I’m grooving to a few of my 50-odd different versions. So far, I prefer Duane Eddy and the Art of Noise. Or maybe The Silencers. Or Sarah Vaughn’s vocal version. Or whichever one’s playing at the moment. Will my next post be titled “Gunnmania, Pt. 1” – ? Nah, I don’t think so. No promises, though.



Sunday, September 05, 2004


Waiting for the action to begin: Alex, Brian, Cap'n Bob, Yours Truly.

Louiemania, Pt. 3


Louie Fest 2, Day 2. We 1000 Guitars registrants were asked to check in Sunday morning no later than 9:30. That was asking a bit much, especially considering the light turnout of the day before, but Cap’n Bob and I managed to roll in shortly after 10. And standing there ahead of us in line was Brian Trainer (aka Tough Jim Gaston), our cohort from Louie Fest 1.

Brian, a long-time professional guitarslinger, had been unable to attend on Saturday due to a gig with his band Rock Residue (see
www.rockresidue.com). But as he stood before us he was no longer just plain Rock Star Brian. He was now Jedi Guitar Master Brian, having brought along the Luke he was playing Yoda to, a young Portlander by the name of Alex Mills. After Bob and I finished genuflecting, we all got our equipment stashed and began prowling the hall.

Since the music wouldn’t start until 11:00, there wasn’t much happening, so we all trotted a block down the street to Tacoma’s best used bookstore, the Tacoma Book Center. (It had been book collecting, you see, that had brought Bob, Brian and I together 20 or more years ago, under the influence of the late King of Paperbacks, Mr. Lance Casebeer.)

By the time we’d finished booking, the music was cooking back at the Dome. We spent the next few hours drifting from one stage to another, sampling a little of this band and little of that. And checking out the rod and custom car exhibit. And roaming past the vendor booths: Guitars, African art, sunglasses, a temporary tattoo parlor, rap CDs, belts and wallets, a music store, guitar instruction, Jesus T-shirts, John L Scott real estate, Wailers merchandise, semi-official event T-shirts, CDs, more guitars, Kingsmen stuff, battery-operated jewelry, still more guitars, massages, Oberto snacks, Kettle Chips, coffee, balloons, homemade guitar straps. Almost none of them got any of our cash. I did a little shopping at the Kingsmen and Wailers booths, of course. Brian bought a “Wailers at the Castle” T-shirt and a Kent Morrill Orbison tape. Cap’n Bob bought nothing but vittles and drinks. We all scarfed up what free guitar picks we could find.

Brian bought one other item of interest, a rock and roll novel called Front Row Lady by Kate Kimberlee. The author was there, claiming the book was loosely based on her experiences with a number of Northwest rock bands of the late 60s. In the book, she hung out and traveled with a fictional group called “Jolly Roger and the Pirates,” which could easily be a pseudonym for Paul Revere and the Raiders or a dozen others. I was tempted, too, but barely managed to resist. I’m awaiting Brian’s review. (Hear that, Brian? How about posting it to these pages?)

Paul Revere himself swaggered in around 2:30, and was soon signing photos and Ride to the Wall CDs at his booth. I got Drew on the phone, then handed it to Paul and asked him to say hello to a fan who couldn’t make it. Paul squawked “Hello? Hello?” into the phone and announced there was no one on the line. When I got the phone back, Drew was there, no doubt wondering Who the hell was that? But I guess Paul did what I asked of him. And by way of apology, he autographed a free 8x10 for the gall-bladderless one. (For Ride to the Wall and other cool stuff, see
www.paulrevereraiders.com).

That brings you up to the brink of the main events, but I've blabbed enough for one day. Tomorrow we'll get down to some serious Me-Gotta-Going.


Saturday, September 04, 2004


2004 Logo

Louiemania, Pt. 2


Louie Fest 1 had ramifications. Returning to Portland, and still in the heat of Louiemania, I started getting the itch for one of them new fangled electrical guitars. For the next few months, guitar shopping became an obsession of its own. Six months later, after a couple of misfires with Les Pauls, I finally settled on two keepers: a red 1986 Japanese Squier Strat and a metalflake black 2002 Korean Squier Double Fat Tele. I was ready to rock.

But there was a catch. I had to learn to play the damn things. That’s a chore I’m still working on, and it’s slow going. Another six months later, I’ve nearly mastered the really important stuff. I can almost play The Ballad of Davy Crockett in the key of C, and I can now slop out Louie, Louie in every key there is.

Louie Fest 2 had higher aspirations than the first. It was scheduled as a two-day event at the Tacoma Dome, with a wide variety of music on five stages. The climax of Day 2 would be back-to-back concerts by The Wailers and The Kingsmen, followed by the second attempt to take the world’s record away from the Canadians.

I had higher aspirations, too. I hoped to lure my old buddy Drew Bentley all the way from Omaha to join in the madness. Circa 1967, Drew and I were seriously demented high-schoolers in Spokane, where we formed a two-man band called The Strychnine Five, largely in tribute to Northwest bands like The Wailers, The Kingsmen, The Sonics and Paul Revere and the Raiders. Drew then went on national tour as a bass player for a lounge act called The Entourage, and later a rocker in Bush Lake Road. From there he gravitated into the radio biz, and is now boss jock and Program Director at Superhits 99.9 KGOR in Omaha. As proof I didn’t make him up, his official KGOR web page is here:
http://www.kgor.com/acfun.html.

For The Strychnine Five to reunite 37 years later and play with guys from three of our four favorite Northwest bands seemed the ultimate indulgence in Louiemania. And it almost worked. Drew bought his plane tickets and everything looked great right up until the day he was scheduled to leave, when blam! his gol-durned gall bladder threw a wingding. So the show went on without him, and he spent the weekend recovering instead of rocking.

And, sad to say, the show had troubles of its own. Four days before the event, the John Kerry campaign announced it was holding a public rally in one of the Tacoma Dome parking lots, on opening day of Louie Fest. Trouble was, this was the parking lot Louie Fest promoters had counted on for their attendees use. Since Louie Fest was already taking up a couple of parking lots with its outdoor events, that meant there was no parking available for the Kerry crowd either. The local media played it up big: NO PARKING AVAILABLE AT THE TACOMA DOME! And Tacomans got the message. They stayed away in droves. The Kerry thing suffered too, drawing only about 15,000, when a similar rally had attracted 40 or 50,000 in Portland two weeks earlier.

Cap’n Bob and I arrived (via public transportation) around noon on Saturday to find the Dome almost deserted. There were lots of great bands playing, it was just a little lonely with hardly anyone else around to listen to them. I probably wouldn’t have been there either, if I’d known The Wailers were across the street performing Louie, Louie and Shanghaied at the Kerry rally. They weren’t officially endorsing him, they explained, but they had an old connection. The Electras, the band Kerry played bass for in his high school days, had covered The Wailers’ original tune Shanghaied on their one and only album. So The Wailers issued an invitation for Kerry to join them on bass. Unfortunately, Kerry arrived late, so they were never on stage together.

Meanwhile, back at the Dome, the show went on. Two outdoor stages alternated blues and rock acts all day long. Inside they had a folk stage, a jazz stage, and something called an evolution stage, featuring tribute acts. The Cap’n and I drifted around to the various stages during the day, and the two original groups that impressed me most were Olympia blues band Becki Sue & Her Big Rockin’ Daddies (
http://www.pnwbands.com/beckisue.html) and the hard-rockin’ country band Voodoo Ranch (http://www.voodooranchhands.com/).

In between the miscellaneous stuff, we managed to catch nearly all the tribute shows. In a matter of a few hours we saw Buddy Holly, Elvis, The Blues Brothers, Roy Orbison, George Harrison & Ringo Starr and Jimi Hendrix. Sort of. Buddy (Les Fradkin) was OK. Elvis (Tracy Allan Moore) and The New Blues Brothers Review (Ken Elhard & Mitch Reems, who performed karaoke-style without their band) were great. George & Ringo (Les Fradkin & an unnamed drummer) neither looked nor sounded right, but did an entertaining batch of Beatles covers.

The act I found most interesting was the Roy Orbison tribute. As for the real Orbison, I can take him or leave him. The only Roy I really like is named Rogers. But I’ve always been a big fan of Wailers lead singer Kent Morrill. I’d heard stories that after the group disbanded in 1969, Kent went to Las Vegas to do an Orbison tribute in the Legends show. But I’d never seen him do it, and was never able to find any recordings. So I finally got my chance, on both counts. Kent came out in a shiny black suit, black wig and horn-rimmed sunglasses, and toting a black guitar as a prop. He did Pretty Woman, Only the Lonely, Crying, Leah, and Mean Woman Blues – and got the only standing ovation of the day, bringing him back to do Ooby Dooby as an encore. AND, a local music store had a booth selling tapes and CDs of his old Vegas show. ($5 & $10. Interested Orbison and/or Morrill fans should contact Buzzard’s CDs at 253 591-0183.)

After that, my day should have been complete, but I couldn’t resist hanging around long enough to see Randy Hansen’s Jimi Hendrix act. While achieving the true Hendrix look is beyond his biological abilities, he did well with the hair and costume, and his guitar playing was so good it made me want to go home and try picking with my teeth. Did I do it? Find out next time, as we visit Louie Fest 2004, Day 2. In the meantime, you can take a gander at Randy’s official site right here:
http://www.interfold.com/rabit/hansen.htm.



Friday, September 03, 2004


The scene at Louie Fest 2003. I'm the black spot indicated by the red arrow.

Louiemania


I’ve named this thing in honor of my obsession of the week, that exquisite classical composition which has come down through the ages with the simple sobriquet of Louie Louie. This is a recurring obsession, usually brought on by a chance hearing of the song. Over the years since 1963 my parents, neighbors and wives have suffered through it at irregular intervals. Now, however, it’s become an annual ritual.

Last August, the first Louie Fest/1000 Guitars event was held a couple hours up the road in Tacoma, Washington. The party was organized by the surviving members of The Wailers, the legendary Tacoma garage band that had the first Northwest hit with the song in 1961. It was The Wailers’ version that inspired The Kingsmen and Paul Revere and the Raiders to record their own renditions two years later in Portland.

The idea behind Louie Fest was to gather a thousand or more guitar players to attempt a new world’s record for most people performing together. The Wailers and Kingsmen got together and gathered a gang of celebrity guitar players – and even lined up Paul Revere to act as honorary conductor. Naturally, I had a serious case of Louiemania the moment I heard about it.

So I dusted off my old Gibson Country Western flattop box and blistered my fingers trying to rebuild my long-lost calluses. I banged out those three immortal chords every day for a month until I finally got them down. When the big day finally arrived, Portland rock star Brian Trainer (of The Excellent Berries, CenterLine, Harold Disney and the Naked Lady Brainfarts – and currently Rock Residue) roared up I-5 to rendezvous with Tacoma guitarslinger Cap’n Bob Napier (who played and sang lead for the late great Mystery and Detective Monthly) and proceeded to Cheney Stadium.

They lined us up in three groups in the outfield: Accoustics, Electric w/o amps, and Electric with amps. Those without amps were fed into the PA system via special hookups or microphones. Since Bob and Brian were in the electric with amp section, I snuck over to their side and found a convenient mike to make noise into. And we began warming up.

The warm-up alone was worth the price of admission. Several hundred folks fooling around and showing off on any number of different songs was a unique experience for the eardrums. After fifteen minutes of this, the guys on stage finally got us calmed down enough to start Louie-ing, and it roared out like a thunderclap. Duh-Duh-Duh! Duh-Duh! Duh-Duh-Duh!

The music was deafening. The beat jarred the earth until we were all bouncing on the soundwaves, six inches off the grass. Up on stage, we occassionally saw Kent Morrill of The Wailers or Dick Peterson of The Kingsmen with his mouth to a mike and suspected they may have been singing, but who knew? We had those Duhs pounding through our blood and were oblivious to all else.

As we later learned, the celebrity band on stage finished the song after 4 1/2 minutes, and probably thought we'd quit too. But the thunder kept on rolling, so they eventually joined in and did the whole song a second time. Somehow, after that second time, they got us to stop. I still don't know how. Maybe they hosed us down. Maybe they shot a few guys. Or maybe they cut the power. But finally the Duh-Duhs petered out and we floated back to earth.

In the end, we fell short of the thousand mark, but had a hell of a good time. The world’s record remained in the hands of a 1,342 Canadians who did “Takin’ Care of Business” in 1992. No wonder I’ve always hated that song.

Pictures of Louie Fest 1 appeared in various spots on the web, but the best I can currently find, including a video, can be seen at:
http://www.rikkbeatty.com/louielouie.html

The Wailers resolved to try again in 2004. And so did we. And so we did. Louie Fest 2 took place last weekend, accounting for my latest case of the mania. More on that next time, but for now, Me Gotta Go.........