Friday, August 27, 2010

Unbelievable, One-of-a-kind Bruce Springsteen memorabilia lands at Denver’s Twist and Shout!

Last week legendary Denver music retailer Twist and Shout procured a piece of Rock and Roll history. The plexiglass marquee that adorned the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, N.J. on the weekend of September 19, 20,21, 1978, now sits on the wall of the Denver institution.  The September 19th show (4 days before The Boss’ 29th birthday and broadcast on local radio) has long been considered one of the greatest shows in Springsteen’s storied career. Loaded with material from the then new album “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” aficionados contend that this was The E Street Band’s most triumphant tour.
According to Paul Epstein, owner of Twist and Shout, “It took me a few years to boat this Bass.” A longtime customer of Twist and Shout named Elliott White ( a big Springsteen collector) “has been tantalizing me with it for a number of years. With the ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’ box set coming out this fall, I thought it would be the right time to get this incredible item.” So after a bit of negotiation the once in a lifetime memorabilia has found a new home here in Denver. 
Originally there were two sides to the marquee. After the shows, one half went to promoter John Scher (who commissioned the special artwork on the marquee) and the other half went to Springsteen himself. After a couple of years in Springsteen’s garage (a pretty cool image in and of itself), Springsteen’s tour manager removed the marquee and sold it to the (now defunct) New Jersey Rock Hall Of Fame in Asbury Park, N.J. It then went to auction, which is how Mr. White ended up with it, and thus Twist and Shout. Supposedly, John Scher claims he has lost track of his half, which would indeed make this the only one in existence.
Adorned with an iconic image of Mr. Sringsteen (guitar in hand, head thrown back in classic Rock and Roll fashion), the nine foot long, four foot high yellow and black plexiglass marquee literally screams “Hall OF Fame.”
Epstein says “this important reminder of rock history is now available for all of our customers to enjoy.” He guarantees “One look and you will get shivers.”

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mollie O’Brien & Rich Moore - Saints &Sinners

Here is the letter Paul wrote Mollie on listening to her new album, Saints & Sinners due to be released on Tuesday, September 14th!

Oh Mollie,
I am literally swooning over this album. Let me start by telling you the story of "Keep It Clean" and me. About 25 years ago someone gave me a cassette tape of a solo Phil Alvin gig. On it, he did a version of "Keep It Clean." That set me on a quest to find the original and learn about it. In the ensuing 25 years I have found 3 of the 4 versions that Charley Jordan recorded and it has remained one of my favorite blues obscurities. So, imagine my surprise, when I put on your CD blind (without my glasses on that is) and the first song is your cookin' arrangement of this classic. Not only that, you also do one of The Blasters' best covers "I'm Shakin'" and Dave Alvin acknowledges your greatness in the liner notes-wow! But it didn't stop there. I sat transfixed for the entire length of this marvelous album and was just blown away time and again by your great taste in material, the fun, authoritative arrangements of these songs, and by the purity and beauty of your voice. I've always loved your singing, but the chills it produced on songs like Richard Thompson's haunting "The Ghost Of You Walks" or the great Jesse Winchester's "Lonely For Awhile" was something altogether unexpected. (Speaking of Jesse, did you know my sister-in-law IS the Yankee Lady of the song?) I can't think of too many singers whose pipes get THAT much better with the passage of time. Yours is one of THE great instruments-really. 

But back to the selection of songs; Dave Van Ronk's "Losers" was a wonderful choice and your arrangement reminds me so much of a lost sub-genre of music. Guys like David Bromberg, Dan Hicks and Jorma Kaukonen who play songs from another era, staying true to the original, but making them indelibly their own. This is not that easy to do, but you pull it off flawlessly. Not only that, the breadth of styles you take on is so impressive. The Beatles' "Don't Bother Me" is a gem and your take on Nilsson's "Think About Your Troubles" almost had me in tears. Tom Waits is, like Dylan, very difficult to improve upon, but you do him proud on "Dead and Lovely." 

Mollie, every track on this album is a winner, and your voice deserves to be on the esophageal Mt. Rushmore. Please tell Rich how much I love the album and please, please keep singing!!!


p.s. If you don't mind, I'm going to use this gush-fest as my review of the album on our blog.

I'd Love to Turn You On #16: Propagandhi - How to Clean Everything

I was first given a copy of Propagandhi’s How to Clean Everything on cassette tape, copied for me by a friend and fellow writer, Andrew Kiraly. We wrote together at what is now City Life in Las Vegas and were talking about our punk scene the day before, as always. There was lots of violence, shows in the desert couldn’t happen because of white supremacists and they ruined Elks Lodge shows too. Fugazi had to stop a show and kick some Neanderthals out, calling all the girls on stage because guys were beating them up purposefully just for being there in the first place.
When Andrew introduced me to Propagandhi – late summer ’93, I believe – I was angry, totally taken aback by these guys. They made me angry not at the world, but at myself. I had heard bands like NOFX, Fugazi, and Bad Religion produce thought-provoking, intense hardcore punk but Propagandhi was different, they called for an inner revolution above all. It was like Bob Dylan meets the Sex Pistols.
They said “I’d rather know my enemies and let you do the same/whose windows to smash and whose tires to slash.” They would rather “be in prison… than pacified.” Mindless destruction was just another form of apathy really. On “Fuck Machine” they reflect on their own sexism and the subjugation of women. Mercilessly, they expose the sellouts in the ska revival, the government, and Haile Selassie himself. Yet what makes them so timeless is their consistently brutal introspection. They were pro-active purists, urging listeners to consume less, produce more, but to be extremely mindful of what it is you are producing and who you produce it for. Forget about ever fitting into a society that doesn’t allow you to question it; first and foremost, it’s not one worth fitting into.
“We strive to be something more than a faded sticker on a skateboard” as stated in their “Anti-Manifesto” is a fucking glorious, penetrating call to action. My friends Andrew and Boyde Wingert were influenced heavily by these guys, started a band called Bobafett Youth, and brought back non-violent, more-fun-than-you’ve-ever-had-in-your-life desert shows, powered by generators and a desperate need for vicious, hilarious, intelligent hardcore in Las Vegas, then a musical wasteland. Shows popped up all over town in the weirdest places: the Elks Lodge, the Post Office, Dan Heit’s pool, the drainage ditch. It was D.I.Y. or Die. That was what hearing Propagandhi was all about in 1993. It was time to grow up, those of us who made it out alive, but we didn’t grow up complacent or uncaring consumers. We grew up better for having had Propagandhi in our lives and we never stopped questioning society’s ills, nor did we condone them. Maybe none of us will ever fit in to a societal pigeonhole, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The price tag is just too high and “their” music just isn’t that good.

For Lynn “Spit” Newbom and Daniel Shersty, murdered for their beliefs in anti-racism on July 4 by fascist skinheads. They are gone but never forgotten.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Several Species Of Small Furry Thoughts-Mile High Music Festival

Well we are back and sunburned, and quite tired. However, we are also elated. This festival, now in its third year, proved to be a fun, exhausting, and ultimately a very memorable event for us. We used to do lots of festivals - Lollapalooza, Winter Park, Blues Festivals, KTCL’s big adventure, etc. As they got more corporate, and we got less desperate to take ANY opportunity, we have scaled them back over the years. So, we were a little rusty as we approached this festival. We put in a lot of work on the front end to set up autograph signing sessions with almost 20 different bands, and we brought in a mountain of product to meet the demand. On the day of, the weather looked promising as we started setting up our tent. At 11:00 A.M. the crowd started pouring in and it was ON. The next two days were a blur of music, fans and fun. Here are some observations
As I have been saying for awhile - the local scene RULES!!! We did signings with Danielle Ate The Sandwich, The Motet, Matt Morris, and The Knew that proved to be some of the biggest crowds of the weekend. This is extremely gratifying for us and for the scene as a whole.
The national bands that signed were uniformly cool to us, and their fans. Who stood out? Well, Cypress Hill smoked up their fans and were everything you would want them to be; Amos Lee was amazingly sweet and humble and had a huge crowd; Brits One Eskimo were cute as bugs and showed why they are going to be a “next big thing” Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi proved to be a lovely, polite married couple who really connected with their fans: newcomers Oh!My Stars were one of the surprise hits of the weekend, selling a ton of CDs: dance sensation Bassnectar brought the scantily clad “Beta Girls” with him, which proved exciting: Twist and Shout favorites Drive-By Truckers brought all 6 members and were as cool personally as they are musically. And that is just a few of the highlights. For the most part the bands were amazingly gracious and we had large crowds for almost every signing.

I was amazed at how many of the bands, managers, road people and hangers-on I knew. The 25 years I’ve spent in this business has resulted in a large pool of friends and professional acquaintances that is starting to really feel like a community.
The staff of The Mile High Music Festival was without a doubt the real secret weapon of this festival. The whole festival ran without a hitch and the support personnel were just unbelievable. All the stage-hands, and vendor village staff, and the band handlers, and even the security guards were exemplary pros in every way. (Special thanks to Tommy, Darlene, Memphis and Alana for their superb help).
In a very real way, the folks at AEG created a musical city in the desert outside of Denver, and it ran smoothly and pleasantly for all concerned. I have to hand it to Chuck Morris, Rob Thomas, Don Strasburg, and Brent Fedrizzi the four main guys behind this festival: you guys did an incredible job both understanding this market, and giving it what it really wanted -congratulations!
Ok, so it is back to real life now. I remember from the early days doing festivals that the next days felt kind of like a psychedelic hangover - nothing is quite real, and it takes you a while to get life back to normal - a nice old-timey feeling.

Monday, August 9, 2010

I'd Love to Turn You On #15: Kimberley Rew - The Bible of Bop

    And it came to pass, in the land of Thatcher
when the Lord spoke unto the Children of Punk
saying Pick up thine plectrum, and write some nice tunes.
    And in the strong city of Cambridge
the Soft Boys took heed in the covenant,
and Robyn Hitchcock, who sojourned with Syd and Lennon,
brought forth songs of frogs and herds of beasts.
    Then the Soft Boys made ready their offerings
and God humbled them, and smote all commercial viability.
    And the Soft Boys begat Kimberley Rew
who was plenteous and fruitful with tunes,
and charged the Soft Boys to record their brethren
and not put on women's garments as Bowie had, for to do so
is an abomination unto the Lord and kind of tired anyway.
    So Rew sang forth, and praise the Pop
his works were wicked good. His guitar was heavy
with righteousness, his melodies maketh you skip
as a flock of shorn sheep in the land of Goshen.
    Thus some singles were cut, and the silence was rent
by more handclaps and harmonies, delivered on
”Stomping All Over the World” and “Hey, War Pig!”
made with the Waves.
    Who begat Katrina and the Waves, who would
come to bear Rew's “Walking on Sunshine”
which wise men say still holds dominion as a kick ass hit song,
and yea, would sound good on a mix tape after “Hollaback Girl.”
    And behold, Rew then sessioned with the dB's
who dwelt in the land of Martha Quinn, and verily rocked forth
with Mitch Easter on “My Baby Does Her Hairdo Long”
and others thereof.
    And the man had waxed very mighty, and went forth
to slay Philistines, his psalms gathered in the
Bible of Bop in the year nineteen hundred and eighty one.
    And twenty-nine years came to pass, three goodly bonus tracks
sprang forth and, according to the manner of the tribe,
a CD reissue was delivered hence via indie distribution.
    This is the disc the Lord doth appoint, saying,
Let the sons and daughters rock out to the
Bible of Bop
in their Father's house, but thou shalt forsake
downloading, for that is a profane abomination.
     Woe unto thee who doth not Trust in Bop. A-men.