Thursday, March 29, 2012


Heavy Rotation - The Bellrays

Yet another, "Back in LA" story. While I was still out there, round about 2001, I was chatting with Phil(see the Flamin' Groovies post)on the phone. He had yet to depart Boston for the West. In that conversation he told me how he had heard this song by the "Del Rays" on WMBR in Cambridge and he thought they were LA based. "Check em out man." Well alright. I was back then as I am still now always on the hunt for good tunes, so...

After a little looking, I found that the band was not the "Del Rays", but "The Bellrays" and they were actually the opening band for a headliner at Spaceland that weekend. Cool. Without having heard any of their tunes, off I went. On came some serious rock dudes fronted by a black woman with a killer afro. The night got real interesting. My slats got kicked in not only by the absolute fury of the music but the soul that screamed from the woman's mouth. Instant comparisons: The MC5 fronted by Tina Turner. The Stooges fronted by Aretha. All I know is that they were so damn good, so damn tight, so damn KILLER that when lead singer Lisa Kekaula screamed out, "Are you ready to testify?!" my response was a delirious, "OHHH YEAH!!"

I couldn't even stick around for the headliner. In my opinion, there was just no way in hell that whoever went up next was going to follow or even hold a candle to the show I had just seen. I stopped at the merch table, bought a cd and went home.

The next day, another friend and my writing partner at the time, Rob, stopped by. Rob is from Queens, another avid music fan and the man that turned me into a serious hip hop fiend(which is another story altogether). At the time, Rob, although well versed in a lot of genres was only just starting to really dig on rock music and he was real particular in terms of what he liked. "Hey dude. Check this out." I threw the cd in and a wall of feedback came roaring out. Rob looked at me like I had lost my mind, playing this crap for him. I held up a finger. Wait for it. And Lisa's voice came roaring out and Rob's jaw dropped, "Who the fuck is THIS!!" Right.

And that's my story of how I discovered The Bellrays. I saw them plenty of times out there and even though these days, their sound is a little less rough around the edges, they still kill it.

Post Script - The headlining act that I skipped that night? The White Stripes before they blew up. Nope. I don't regret it. And I still maintain my stance from that night. They weren't going to fade The Bellrays. Sorry.

Are you ready to testify?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My Trip

Behold New Englanders! I will bring the weird and the wonderful to slash, burn and pillage the breaks! The pop-out riders, the ill-equipped shoulder hoppers and the(PTOOIEE!!)sweepers will gape with uncomprehending terror at the handshapes that I plan to unleash(Well, I might get some questions in the parking lot)! Look upon me grovelers and DESPAIR! El Meezy's(I shall refrain from referring to myself in the third person in the future. It just seemed apropos here.)wallet is a trifle thin at the moment but rest assured...additions to my quiver are being planned.

Warm Water

Been there...and I want to go back.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

Heavy Rotation - Flamin' Groovies

My buddy Phil has known me since I was 18…college days. He’s still on the West Coast and I enjoy our rambling conversations about the state of politics, film, music we’re listening to… In one of our last conversations, I put this forth, “Hey man, you ever get into the Flamin’ Groovies?” Phil, who has forgotten more about music than most people will ever know, responded, “You know what man? Nah, I never really got into those dudes.” Neither did I and I think that sort of sums up their career, which is a shame. They were dipping their toes into the old school 3 minute song format in a time of shambolic dreck at the same time that the Stooges and MC5 were doing their thing and managed to get completely overlooked by a lot of people.

Perusing the Norton Records site a while back, I came across “Slow Death”. These were some self recordings that the band made in the wake of Roy Loney’s departure from the group. Chris Wilson had taken over on vocals and the band had not yet abandoned the “American Stones” raunch rock stylings of Teenage Head and Flamingo in favor of their later British Invasion/Byrds-ish pop stylings. Slow Death was apparently a demo of sorts as the band was shopping for a new label and Great Caesar’s Ghost(!) was I blown away. It opens with “Sweet Little Rock and Roller” and keeps building. It’s as raw and primal as it gets. See the video of them doing “Slow Death” in France(1972) so I don’t have to continue sermonizing.

I ain’t done.

About a week ago I wandered into Newbury Comics and came across Teenage Head in their $5.99 bin. Ah-ha! More Groovies. The disc has barely left my car. On this one, they’re in full R&B/Blues rock mode a la Sticky Fingers Stones and if you believe the liner notes, Mick thought the Groovies did the better job. I don’t know if I necessarily buy into that bit of hyperbole but the rockers on this disc hit hard(see "Have You Seen My Baby" - a cover of a Randy Newman tune of all things!) and they breathe lots of energy into old standards like “32-20”.

Discovering these guys once again provides ample proof that there are still gems out there waiting to be found, even by those of us that too often resemble the characters in High Fidelity.

Monday, March 5, 2012

He's Back!

Yesterday was the very business at The Local. Solid waist to stomach and occasionally a bit bigger on the sets. I thought it was going to be smaller and so the Mayo Softail was the weapon of choice and it did everything from carving to holding high in the face while I perched on the nose. Again,I didn't get my toes over(it's like a mental block or something) but it was a damn good ride all the way through the inside section.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Heavy Rotation - RL Burnside

I discovered the Blues because of a paper I had to write for an American Music course I took at Emerson College many moons ago. I originally wanted to write about John Lee Hooker but couldn’t find enough material about him so BB King became my subject. Reading wasn’t enough and being the music addict that I am, I started listening. I didn’t become a dedicated Blues purist/snob but I knew what I liked and I learned enough to be able to request “Sweet Home Chicago” from a couple guys doing blues numbers at The Brotherhood of Thieves on Nantucket. Their relief that I wasn’t about to request a Buffet tune was palpable. I digress. My Blues collection never rose beyond some John Lee Hooker, some Muddy, some Howlin, a little Son House and some Robert Johnson(I always considered Bo Diddley more rock and roll) but I enjoyed what I had.

One day I walked into a little record store I used to frequent up on Ventura in The Valley (LA days) and came across an album featured on one of the store’s listening station. The album was Burnside on Burnside and after reading the album’s description as written by an enthusiastic employee of the shop, I slipped on the headphones…and my jaw hit my chest. I like uptempo. Yeah, in my quiet moments I may throw on some Bon Iver or Mark Lanegan but mostly…I like a bit of fury. Burnside on Burnside was Blues that I had never heard before. The insane drumming of RL’s grandson Cedric, Kenny Brown’s slide guitar and all through it RL’s bass-like voice, whipsaw guitar and Well, Well, Well’s. Fury. Fury that made you want to dance around like a maniac. And that was my intro to Mississippi Hill Country/Juke Joint Blues and to Fat Possum records.

I’ve since picked up other great stuff from Fat Possum. T Model Ford, Junior Kimbrough, Paul “Wine” Jones…Charles Caldwell…but RL and Burnside on Burnside remains my favorite. Dig, please.


I am slack. Slack I am. No ripples have been ridden but hopefully Sunday will change all that.

In the meantime...