Occasionally, I’m asked about the music that I use for a “bed” (the music that plays while I’m talking) during my show. This music selection comes from a special stack of vinyl albums that I hijacked from under my parents’ stereophonic hi-fi console. Yes, my folks came of age living an episode of “Mad Men.” Being the swinging 60s, they collected the latest in “Living Stereo!” and “Visual Sound” percussion records.
The artwork alone is worthy of a gallery, but the tonal quality of these original hipster stereophonic records is like, crazy, man. Little did they know that I’d be spinning them every Saturday on City of Night. Here’s one of my favorites, A Bunch of Bongos (1960), featuring Willie Rodriguez and the International Stars. The sleeve back declares “a remarkable new development in stereophonic recording. It is called Spectacular Stereophonic Sound, which includes a key element that is not found in other two-channel recording systems—the newly developed Phase X process, which creates a complete panorama of sound.”
Well shit! No wonder it sounds so good, they dropped the Phase X bomb on us!
July 3, 2013 – On this date in 1971 Jim Morrison died in Paris.
It’s no secret that the inspiration for the name of my program, ‘City of Night,’ came howling from the throat of Jim Morrison in The Doors’ song ‘L.A. Woman.’
“Are you a lucky little lady in The City of Light?
or just another lost angel…City of Night”
I was fortunate to be able to tour Europe recently by hitching a ride with the L.A. band Gliss, and the last stop was in the true ‘City of Light’—Paris, France. As fate would have it, we were staying just down the street from the Père Lachaise Cemetery, the resting place of dozens of historical luminaries including Chopin, Maria Callas, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Balzac, Modigliani, and our own Jim Morrison. I had to pay a visit.
As I stood at the foot of his grave paying homage, I reflected on the lives of Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek, whom we had also just recently lost. So much of their music was about ‘the other side,’ and now they were there. It was a somber and humbling reflection, only broken when the dark clouds let loose with a low rolling thunder. As if on cue, the approaching rainfall found me without an umbrella. Standing soaking wet under the thunder, smelling the cemetery’s wet dirt and concrete, in my head I could hear Ray’s first keyboard notes from “Riders on the Storm”. An unforgettable moment that could not have been scripted better.
NBC, for goodness sakes…first you wouldn’t show the Stanley Cup finals in Los Angeles when the Kings were playing….now you CUT AWAY FOR COMMERCIALS during the Sex Pistols portion of the Olympic Opening Ceremony. Couldn’t you have cut away during the portion where the kids run around texting each other!!!!????
Luckily there is video of it. Notice the characters in leather jackets doing the pogo. Call me a wimp, but I get goosebumps seeing The Sex Pistols (and The Jam) getting a nod on the world stage as major cultural icons after having been banned from the airwaves and stages of England. To drive it home further, this was all on display for the Queen and all of the Royal recipients of the nation’s biggest dole cheques.
It has been my honor the past four years to be asked to bring together the music lineup for the Port of LA Lobsterfest in San Pedro and each time it is a thrill to see the event taking shape. Though there are still finishing touches to be put on the schedule, promoter Jim Hall and I want to let the proverbial crab out of the bag on some of the artists we have on the bill this year.
Friday September 14
Saint Motel onstage with fans during their triumphant sold-out show at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by ellenwood)
Saint Motel– It’s a return engagement for Saint Motel, hot on the heels of their sold-out show at the El Rey and the release of their full-length album “Voyeur.” I recall the first time Saint Motel played my Check One Two night at the Viper Room back in the Summer of ’07. When I saw them loading in potted plants, lamps and living room furniture I knew we were dealing with something out of the ordinary and their hard work with creative videos and crafty songwriting over the years has earned them a place of prominence in the LA music scene. 2012 is the year Saint Motel will win over the States.
Races – Having just put on a smoldering performance at the legendary Troubadour, Races launched out on a cross-country tour (with buddies Saint Motel) in support of their album “Year of the Witch,” which was landed by the respectable indie label French Kiss after their “Big Broom” EP release by Jaxart. It’s rare and compelling to see a group hit the scene so fully formed and stage savvy after a relatively short incubation.
We are very grateful that Saint Motel and Races wind up their road-trip with a spin on the Lobsterfest stage Friday Sept 15, with more bands to be announced.
As has been the recent tradition, Friday night it is named the KROQ “Locals Only” stage, and we thank them for their support.
Saturday September 15
Dum Dum Girls – What else do we need to say? It’s Dum Dum Girls topping off a Saturday that will be a full-fledged rock festival event, even if the lobsters miss the plane from Maine. We could not be happier to be welcoming the Girls as they are ratcheting up for the launch of a new EP titled “End of Daze” (Sept. 25).
JJAMZ– Are you uncrumpling a tenner as we speak? (Yes, that’s the price) Dum Dum Girls will be preceded by all-star pop rocksters JJAMZ. That’s Z (The Like), Alex (Phantom Planet), Jason (Rilo Kiley, Bright Eyes) Ok, we’ll quit name dropping and save you a spot on the large green Lobsterfest lawn.
Having just melted the blue and silver backdrop during their Satellite residency and with release this month of the album “Suicide Pact” on Dangerbird Records, JJAMZ are primed for what we humbly like to call “the Lobsterfest Bump”
They are on fire and we feel fortunate to have NO playing on Saturday.
Sunday Sept. 16
The Blasters– It’ll be a homecoming of sorts in more ways than one for Downey’s Phil Alvin. Late June brought news from Valencia, Spain that Blasters front man Phil Alvin had been rushed to the hospital for unknown reasons, forcing the sudden cancellation of their entire European Summer tour. Not that a hole in the throat is GOOD news, but rumors of a heart attack or stroke were shortly brought under control when the news was released that Phil had suffered a severe allergic reaction and became unable to breathe due to swelling of the throat. Doctors saved him from a flatline situation by performing a tracheotomy in his throat to allow him to breathe. We are all thankful for his recovery and look forward to welcoming the Blasters back home to San Pedro.
Jail Weddings – Perhaps their Twitter profile says it best. “A contemporary yet timeless 10-member-deep rock ‘n’ roll group well-versed in the sentimental sick joke.” Jail Weddings’ recent “Four Future Standards” EP is quite aptly named as the song “There’s Nothing Worse in the World (Than a Crying Girl)” has already become a current standard on my City of Night radio show. The songs are timeless and epic in a way that is far more sophisticated than the band’s self description. They will be dressed to impress, and I believe they will.
This is merely a taste of what is in store for the music portion of the 2012 Port of LA Lobsterfest and Music Weekend Sept 14-16 on the waterfront in San Pedro. I’ll be completing the lineup soon, and it will be released in the coming days. I always do my best to add surprises and construct a flow of music that will be as memorable as the atmosphere. What is most important, combining the musical performances with the surroundings I try to create an intangible life-affirming pleasance that is unique to this occasion. (Unless, of course, you are a lobster.)
If you’ve never been to this event, it may be difficult to understand, but there is a very unusual and special atmosphere at the Port under the sun and stars, in the open air amidst the mega-cargo ships and cruise-liners. Who could imagine an expansive green lawn to luxuriate upon while sharing music and food with friends? The USS Iowa is now berthed at the Port, which adds a new element of wonder for returning attendees.
John Lydon (AKA Johnny Rotten) joins me this week on City of Night for 2 hours of PIL and Pistols music and chat. Saturday (5/19/12) 8-10pm pacific – KCSN 88.5LA or KCSN.ORG. Among the topics John touches upon are Paul McCartney, Pete Townshend, Neil Young, religion, record labels and of course the new self funded PiL album “This is PiL”.
And it's all falling to bits gloriously
Here’s an amusing short clip of Lydon soliciting Cash for KCSN. The show will air on 88.5 KCSN this coming Saturday (5/19/12) 8-10pm Pacific. (kcsn.org)
We will post the entire 2 hours on this site after the broadcast.