Thursday, May 31, 2012

Death by Misadventure: Bobby Fuller

"England had The Beatles, but El Paso had Bobby Fuller"

During the exuberant era that preceded the Summer of Love, Bobby Fuller was an anomaly. He was a clean cut  young man with a quiet nature with a blatant reverence for Buddy Holly.    Even as "I Fought the Law" hit the charts in 1966 (a song he had first recorded in 1964) His style of music was already viewed as passé.  This moment of triumph would later reveal that Fuller was already struggling to stay relevant.

In all likelihood, Fuller was also the first casualty of the 1960's counter culture movement. He was almost certainly a murder victim, although who killed him and why remains a mystery to this day. Murder conspiracies abound in rock & roll music, they're mostly unfounded theories pulled from thin air by nutcase fanatics. Fuller's case is the rare exception, upon further examination, the LAPD's hasty labeling of his death as a suicide does beg for an explanation.

The botched investigation was astonishingly fraught with incompetence. Investigators failed to interview essential witnesses or follow up leads. Vital evidence was quickly destroyed or compromised. Forty Six years later, not one iota of credible evidence has been unearthed to help overturn the coroner's official ruling that this was indeed a suicide. Nonetheless, there are still troubling questions that cannot be explained away. 

Was it death by misadventure, such as an overdose or an accident? Fuller was said to have attended an LSD party in Hollywood on the night before his body was discovered.  Was Fuller's death scene staged to make it appear like a suicide when in fact he died from a fall while tripping on LSD? Were there other more sinister factors at play that resulted in the unexpected death of a promising young musician?

Robert Gaston Fuller was born October 22, 1942 either in Baytown, Tx. or Goose Creek, Tx. (depending on your source) His father, Lawson Fuller worked in the gas and oil industry, which meant that early on the family lived a transitory lifestyle. Bobby's younger brother Randy was born in Hobbs, N.M. in 1944. Placing the family dab smack in the  region  that would one day become a hotbed of rock & roll music.

By 1946 the Fullers' relocated to Salt Lake City, where Bobby and Randy grew up living an idyllic 1950's American childhood.  However for Jack Leflar, their step brother it was a different story.  He was in and out of trouble, running away from home and gravitating towards a criminal element.  (The family lost track of Leflar once they moved to El Paso, Tx.  and in 1961 he was the victim of foul play, perhaps murdered by his associates)

In 1956 the family moved to El Paso when Lawson was hired by El Paso Natural Gas Co.  It was the year that Elvis Presley broke and thirteen year old Bobby was quickly smitten by the rock & roll bug.  His first venture into music was a collaborate effort with his brother. When Randy was shipped off to military school, Bobby took up his brother's guitar and taught himself to play.

Bobby also teamed up with Mary Stone, a lyricist and started writing songs in earnest. In 1961, accompanied by The Embers, Bobby recorded "You're in Love" co-written with Mary Stone and "Guess We'll Fall in Love" in a rudimentary studio set up in his parent's living room. Released as a single on Yucca Records (a New Mexico label) "You're in Love" was a regional hit, garnering airplay on KELP, El Paso's #1 top forty station. 

Randy Fuller returned from military school and was astonished at how much Bobby had progressed.  With Bobby now proficient on guitar, Randy found himself relegated to playing bass.  Bobby, Randy and drummer Gaylord Grimes then made the hallowed journey to Clovis, N.M. in 1962, for a recording session at Norman Petty Recording Studios. Bobby Fuller found the Petty experience less than fulfilling.

They recorded two tracks, one of which "Gently My Love" was a minor regional hit. Bobby's determination to record his music the way he thought it should be recorded, led him to start up his own studio and record label (Exeter, although in reality most of Fuller's El Paso recordings  were self released) He would also open his own teen club "The Rendezvous" (named after the L.A. club made famous by Dick Dale)

Accompanied by a revolving cast of musicians (informally known as The Fanatics) "The Rendezvous"  provided him with the unique opportunity to develop his sound and stage presence in front of a live audience. The Fanatics would evolve into The Bobby Fuller Four (Bobby Fuller-vocals-guitar, Jim Reese-guitar, Dalton Powell-drums, Randy Fuller-bass) Both Reese & Powell had previously played with Bobby as part of  The Embers. 

Larry Thompson & Billy Webb were also part of The Fanatics crew, but parted ways with Bobby before the move to Los Angeles.  At this juncture Bobby and the band didn't have a signature sound, their music was equal parts Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly. Their early sets were heavy with cover songs. (similar to the aborted "Celebrity Night at P.J.'s" album) They played top forty radio fodder, albeit extremely well. 

Early in 1963, Bobby and The Fanatics scheduled a series of shows in California. This afforded Fuller the opportunity to pursue a record deal. Bobby made the rounds and knocked on doors, but could find no takers. The only label that even showed a hint of interest was Bob Keane's Del-Fi Records.  Keane felt that while Bobby had potential, he didn't have a hit. Keane told Fuller to go home and return when he had some hit material.

Encouraged by Keane's honest appraisal, Fuller returned to El Paso totally committed to finding his key to success. Through the remainder of 1963 and on to the following year, Bobby & The Fanatics scored a series of regional hits, including a cover version of a Sonny Curtis song "I Fought the Law" (picked up for distribution by Vee Jay records) It  was the first of three songs lifted from The Crickets' 1961 album "The Crickets In Style"

Bobby Fuller didn't realize it, but that fateful meeting with Keane, probably set in motion the series of events that would lead to his untimely death. Bob Keane was a Los Angeles music biz veteran, who discovered Sam Cooke in 1957, and signed him to his Keen Records label (this resulted in the hit "You Send Me") only to see his business partner bilk him out of his money and force him out of the company.  

Keane rebounded by forming a new label, Del-Fi Records (named after the Greek god of music and inspiration, Delphi) In 1958 he discovered Ritchie Valens performing at a movie theater in Pacoima, Ca. and signed him to Del-Fi. As we all know, "Come On Let's Go" and "La Bamba" were hits, but "Donna" was a smash hit.  Valens just seventeen years old, had a number one single, when he boarded that doomed aircraft. 

"Texas rock and roll.... it's nothing new, we've been playing it for years"
 To Bob Keane's dubious credit, Del-Fi barely skipped a beat after Valens perished on "the day the music died" and it was surely by providence that Ritchie Valens' successor Chan Romero landed at Del-Fi.  His 1959 single "Hippy Hippy Shake" was a modest hit, but gained prominence after The Beatles and The Swinging Blue Jeans recorded their versions. Romero would score just one other hit (My Little Ruby) during his career.

Chan Romero, who grew up in Billings,Mt. was introduced to Ritchie Valens' family by Keane and would sleep in Ritchie's bed whenever he was recording in Los Angeles. The eclectic Del-Fi roster now included artist as diverse as Romero, Johnny Crawford (of The Rifleman fame) Brenda Holloway, Barry White, The Lively Ones, The Surfaris, Spider Webb and the Insects (which featured Tom Fogerty, pre- Golliwogs & Credence Clearwater Revival)

Bob Keane took pride in the fact that Del-Fi had an open door policy. He was fond of saying "I'll listen to anyone, even if they bring 'em in on a stretcher" it was an approach that allowed artists with little commercial appeal like Frank Zappa and Leon Russell to get a foot in the door and for proto hippie, eden ahbez (he preferred  lower case letters) composer of "Nature Boy" a #1 hit for Nat King Cole, to record an instrumental album on Del-Fi in 1960.

El Paso was played out, so in November of 1964, Bobby, Randy and Jim loaded up and moved to Hollywood. Dalton Powell was married and chose to stay put, he was replaced by DeWayne Quirico. Together they paid a return visit to Bob Keane, who heard enough to offer them a contract. As the boys (and Mama Fuller) settled in to an apartment near Grauman's Chinese Theatre,  Bob Keane cranked up the star making machinery.

Most of the band's early singles had been credited to Bobby Fuller, now as they went into the Del-Fi studio, they still lacked a band name. The first Del-Fi single was credited to Bobby Fuller and The Fanatics, the second to The Shindigs (a blatant attempt to snag the job as house band for the tv show) Keane decided that "The Bobby Fuller Four" had the right ring to it, neither Bobby nor his band mates cared much for it.

Keane signed The Bobby Fuller Four to Mustang Records, a new subsidiary of Del-Fi (he also had Bronco Records, which specialized in R&B) The Bobby Fuller Four became regulars on the L.A. club circuit, grinding it out night after night, trying to build momentum for their upcoming recordings. However, much to their chagrin the promoters demanded cover songs and most of their gigs took place in front of indifferent crowds.

The nadir of their early L.A. experience was a classic Bob Keane promotional stunt.  He proposed that they record a live album at P.J.'s Nightclub in front of a bunch of celebrities. "Celebrity Night at P.J.'s"  features less than a handful of originals (I Fought the Law, Let Her Dance, A New Shade of Blue) and cover songs like, Gloria,  Brown Eyed Handsome Man,  Slow Down,  California Sun, Oh Boy, C.C. Rider.

"Celebrity Night at P.J.'s" was scrapped shortly thereafter and never officially released. "Let Her Dance"  ("Keep on Dancing" from the band's El Paso repertoire) was reworked by Bob Keane and became Bobby's first top forty hit. "We tried to do it with a little Tex-Mex feel, all those bass runs, Bobby didn't like it, He didn't like anything." Keane recalled. Bobby was left to wonder, if he had  sold his soul to the devil.

The previous single "Never to be Forgotten" had failed to chart because it didn't have the right push behind it.  Randy Fuller would later explain that Bob Keane predicted the success of "Let Her Dance"  "Bob told us, you boys listen to KRLA at one o'clock today. Your record's gonna be on there.' We're like, 'Sure, sure.' So we're drivin' down the street and 'Let Her Dance' came on…" 

Rumors that Bob Keane was connected to the mob had long floated around. Randy Fuller (always outspoken) told this story,  "Bob Keane gets this new partner…A lot of people have claimed that he was affiliated with--and P.J.'s, where we worked--were affiliated with the mob, you know" Randy continued, "Because, you know, to get a record on KRLA or KFWB was almost impossible for an unknown band"

Next up for the band was a cameo appearance in the teen flick "The Ghost in The Invisible Bikini" starring Nancy Sinatra. They lip synced to "Geronimo" and played in the background during a swim party scene. Keane kept the band in the spotlight with appearances on tv shows such as Hullabaloo, Shin Dig, Shivaree etc. they toured nationally, playing a combination of high paying gigs and boozy dives. 

Shortly after the recording sessions that produced “I Fought The Law" DeWayne Quirico was unceremoniously given the boot. Dalton Powell was convinced to journey west and rejoin the band. John Barbata, drummer for The Turtles filled in on an interim basis (specifically for the The Magic Touch / I'm A Lucky Guy sessions) The move was necessitated by Quirico's lack of enthusiasm, though Randy Fuller would later admit that “DeWayne was probably the better drummer for us at the time”

“KRLA King of the Wheels”, was the Bobby Fuller Four's first official album release. Issued in November, 1965 it was “sponsored” by KRLA-AM. With “hot rod” music all the rage, the station had signed on to sponsor Doug Robinson's KRLA Horse Power Engineering top fuel dragster. That's how the iconic cover shot of The Bobby Fuller Four and Doug Robinson's rail dragster came about. (With Bobby at the wheel, of course) It's generally acknowledged that Bob Keane slapped KRLA's call letters on the cover in exchange for radio play.

With the exception of “She's My Girl” which is more of an idea than a fully realized song (Hey!, let's do something that sorta sounds like what the Beach Boys were doing last year) “KRLA King of the Wheels” is actually a solid album With better promotion, the infectious “Let Her Dance” would have been a huge hit. Mustang botched the release, releasing it twice, then licensing the song to Liberty Records which released it again, confused the hell out of distributors.

“King of the Wheels” is Bobby's surf anthem “King of the Beach” enhanced with dragster sound effects. “The Lonely Dragster” is “Wolfman” stripped of wolf howls and Bobby's hilariously bad Wolfman Jack impersonation. The wolf howls do make an appearance on “KRLA Top Eliminator” which shamelessly rips off Long John Hunter's “El Paso Rock” without giving him so much as a songwriting credit. “The Phantom Dragster” is a hokey, “how does this guy keep showing up everywhere I go” hot rod saga, that ends with the chief of police a mangled heap of meat.

Selected by Randy Fuller as their next single, “I Fought The Law” was released in December, 1965 and slowly climbed up the charts finally peaking at #9 after Bobby Fuller had been laid to rest. ( As of July 18th 1966, “I Fought The Law” had just cracked the Top 100) The follow up single to "I Fought the Law" was "Love's Made a Fool of You" a song written by Buddy Holly & Bob Montgomery. The song did well for The Bobby Fuller Four peaking at #26 on the national charts (posthumously of course).

In the midst of the whirlwind, The Bobby Fuller Four released their second album "I Fought The Law" a garage punk classic that became a must have for latter day vinyl junkies. The next single "The Magic Touch" fizzled on the charts and strained the relationship between Bobby and Bob Keane. Bobby had always resented Bob's heavy handed alterations to his songs. Now he felt like Keane had crossed the line.

For "The Magic Touch" Keane brought in Barry White  (the make-out music maestro) Normally, Barry worked primarily with Del-Fi's R&B artists on the Bronco subsidiary.  Now, Keane gave White free rein to add more drums and remix the song in order to give it an ersatz Motown sound. Bobby was not impressed "Man!, The Magic Touch doesn't even sound like one of our songs" he complained to Randy.

The music scene on the West Coast and the culture of of the entire nation was changing rapidly. Bobby Fuller was not immune to the allure of counter culture. By now, he had experimented with LSD, during an interview in 1966 he stated, "The Hollywood strip has gone psychedelic crazy--the kids, the clubs, the whole effect of hallucination" Bobby was playing with fire, tensions rose within the band.

Randy Fuller's recollection offered an insight into Bobby's mindset  "The thing about Bobby was that he liked intelligence--he was very intelligent, and if anything had 'intelligence' tacked on to it, he was gonna do it. Bobby confided in Randy "Man, the way that LSD works, if you're really intelligent, if doesn't affect you" It seemed that Bobby was overcome by a strange and reckless mix of over confidence and naivety.

"Endings rarely announce themselves, they steal in and go nameless"

 A comment from an El Paso resident on YouTube, stating that  she had attended a dance at Cathedral H.S. where The Bobby Fuller Four had played in June of 1966, epitomized the miserable state that the band was in. Even with "I Fought The Law" a top ten hit, they were still playing high school dances and grinding it out  at P.J.'s or Casey Kasem's Teen Dances. The Bobby Fuller Four was coming undone.

An extensive touring schedule had taken its  toll on all of them. Bobby and Randy were hardly on speaking terms. After a disastrous show in San Francisco, Bobby announced his plans to go solo and started looking for his own place to live. Soon after that Jim Reese received his draft notice, he had just a few weeks before he had to report for duty. Reese had just purchased a Jaguar XKE, he made arrangements for Bobby to buy it from him. 

Bobby was noticeably depressed during the last weeks of his life, but he never appeared to be suicidal.  Most of the recording sessions for the band's third and final album ended up turning into shouting matches. Bobby was fed up and was rapidly distancing himself from his band mates. At the apartment Bobby took to sitting in his bedroom listening to the same song over and over through headphones.   

On the last night of his life, Bobby Fuller lounged around the apartment (#317) his mother Loraine had just arrived in Hollywood to see her sons, Rick Stone who worked for the band was also there. At around 10:00 three girls from El Paso dropped by to see Bobby, they chatted and drank beer until midnight. Bobby then called Melody, a girl who  worked at a nearby bar. (Melody would play a big part in this story)

Shortly after 1:00 a.m. Bobby received a phone call and abruptly left the apartment. Both Loraine and Rick had already gone to bed, it wasn't unusual for Bobby to stay up all night. Building manager Lloyd Esinger, confirmed that Bobby stopped by and they drank beer until 3:00 a.m. Esinger was the last person to see Fuller that night. In the dead of the night, Bobby got into his Oldsmobile and drove away, never to be forgotten.

On July 18, 1966, Loraine was the first to notice that the Oldsmobile was gone. The band had a recording session scheduled for 8:30, the musicians gathered at Del-Fi and waited for Bobby to arrive. They were still waiting when Bob Keane arrived at his office, he nonchalantly remarked "Where's the prima donna?" At 2:30 p.m. they gave up and went home. At that point, Loraine Fuller had still not heard from Bobby.

Dalton Powell and Jim Reese had an apartment just a few blocks from Bobby's, two El Paso musicians Ty Grimes & Mike Ciccarelli stopped in and asked if they would take them to see Bobby.  It was 5:00 p.m. when they arrived at The Sycamore Apts, both Dalton & Jim noticed that Bobby's car was gone. They rang the door bell,  but got no answer. Ty Grimes would later state that while they waited he thought he saw a car pull into the lot.

As they turned to leave, Loraine Fuller came running towards them in a panic (she had gone down the back stairs as they went up the front stairs) While checking the mail, she had found Bobby's Oldsmobile in the parking lot.  She opened the driver side door  "He was lying on the front seat,” Loraine said. “The keys were in the ignition, and his hand was on the keys, as if he had tried to start the car" 

Loraine was in shock, "I thought he was asleep, I called his name, when I looked closer, I could see he wasn’t sleeping, he was dead" the overpowering odor of gasoline fumes emanated from the vehicle's interior. Loraine composed herself and called the police and then called Randy at the home of Boyd Elder (a family friend from El Paso) and broke the bad news. "I said hello and my mother said, ‘Bobby’s dead’ and hung up" Randy recalled.

Bob Keane was first on the scene, he freaked out when he saw a plainclothes officer open the car and say "Oh, a can of gas" which he then chucked into a nearby dumpster. Keane blurted out "Wait a minute, man. What the fuck? Aren't there prints on here?" to which the cop replied "Nah, just another rock & roller overdosed" Keane remained adamant "There was no investigation, they were in on it, no question about it, they had to be."

There was a  gallon gas can in the car, it had a rubber filler hose attached to it, Bobby was  grasping the hose with one hand. Bob Keane would say, "The fact that he got a phone call at 2 a.m., and that he went out and drove off in his car when he was still in his bathrobe -- the guy was a meticulous dresser. What was that? The next time we saw him he was dead" Bobby wasn't wearing a bathrobe when his body was found, when did he change?

The final autopsy report ruled that Bobby died of inhaling fumes, not ingesting gasoline as most believe. The coroner did not estimate how long Bobby had been dead. What appeared to be bruises on his body were found to be skin burns caused by the volatile fumes and the extreme high temperature within the enclosed space of the vehicle. El Paso County coroner Juan Contin examined the report and agreed with the findings.
Blood tests conducted after his death showed no traces of any drugs in his system, not even alcohol. The L.A. medical examiner noted that "On opening the body, the organs and incised tissue smell strongly of gasoline" He was pronounced dead at 5:15 p.m., but he had been dead for a few hours, as rigor mortis had set in.  Randy Fuller would say "I don’t know if it was suicide, because he’s my brother, I’d love to say that it wasn’t. But I don’t know

The Dead Circus

Dismissing the assumption that it was a suicide, there's the connection with Melody, the bar girl who was the girlfriend of a nefarious L.A. mobster with a thirst for violence. Bobby called Melody that night, did she call him back and lure him into a trap? Melody would actually surface years later and state emphatically that neither her nor Bobby had any ties with mobsters and that she did not meet with Fuller that night.

There's also the LSD party accident theory. The phone call that Bobby received was an invitation to an acid test, Bobby went and given his state of mind had a bad trip. He freaked out and died in an accident. The party goers then put his body in the car, drove him back to his apartment and made it look like a suicide. At least one woman has said that she was at that party and that Fuller did attend, but left in good health and certainly still alive.    

How about the million dollar life insurance policy that  Bob Keane and his partner Larry Nunes supposedly took out on Bobby Fuller? The rumor was that when Fuller announced that he was going solo, Keane & Nunes decided to cash in on their "investment" by having him rubbed out.   It was pure fantasy, after Bobby's death nobody collected anything and there has never been any evidence of an insurance company pay out.

 An article printed in Goldmine Magazine named Bobby's brother Randy and Jim Reese as prime suspects. That's a theory that actually has legs. Both were upset over Bobby breaking up the band and the impending loss of income. After Bobby's death, Randy wasted little time renaming the band after himself and taking over the role of lead singer.  The Randy Fuller Four disbanded before he could do anymore damage to his brother's legacy.

Jim Reese suspected Charles Manson of killing Bobby Fuller. Never mind that in 1966 Charles Manson was incarcerated at Terminal Island in San Pedro, Ca. with more than a year left to serve on a federal sentence. I'll also throw my own theory on top of the scrap heap. I think Bobby Fuller fell victim to a twisted serial killer who was preying on young men.  I can't for the life of me explain why a serial killer would drive his dead victim home.

So, we have this scenario... Bobby Fuller is murdered by having gasoline forcibly poured down his throat. With his lifeless body in the car, his killer drives the Oldsmobile back to Fuller's apartment. He then stages it to look like a suicide and then just narrowly escapes right before Loraine Fuller, Jim Reese, Dalton Powell, Ty Grimes and Mike Ciccarelli stumble on the crime scene. Not an impossible series of events to say the least.

If I were a betting man, I would bet that both Melody and her violent boyfriend did play a part in Fuller's death, just not the way one would expect. John Kaye's novel "The Dead Circus" published in 2002, uses Fuller's murder as a major plot point. At the end, Kaye (or rather his character) surmises that Bobby Fuller was murdered by the mafia in order to please Frank Sinatra. There's also the rumor that Bobby gave Nancy a hit of LSD during the filming of "The Ghost With the Invisible Bikini" and she experienced a bad trip.  When you weigh in the fact that they did come into contact while making the scene in Hollywood (Nancy made a cameo appearance at "Celebrity Night at P.J.'s"  posing for a  cover photo with Bobby) It adds up as the most credible of all the Fuller death theories.

In death Bobby Fuller's talents have been built up to epic proportions, some would have you believe that  he was a better singer than Elvis, that he played guitar better than Dick Dale and was a better songwriter than Buddy Holly.  But in reality, he wasn't much better than Tommy Roe  (who also tried to fill Buddy Holly's shoes) Bobby Fuller was Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly resurrected and by 1966 that wasn't hip. Had he lived, the changing tide of rock music would have relegated him to bubblegum music, just like Paul Revere & The Raiders. On his best day Bobby Fuller couldn't match what some of his contemporaries like Tommy James & The Shondells, were putting out. But, then again, just like the mysterious circumstances of his death,  it's all conjecture now.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sleaze Rock

With this edition of Sleaze Rock I’m cutting against the grain.  Not all sleaze rock videos flaunt their dubious artistic value.  Some are asininely obfuscating in subtle ways, others are idiotically monotonous, simplistic and ill conceived. While some may shower them with praise, I call them on their shit. Keeping 'em on their toes, that's what I do.

This sleaze rock special.... yawnnn!... is Sleep Party People - I'm Not Human At All,  Should staying awake through an entire song be this hard? The bunny suits are inspired, can't say the same about the music.  Sonnets for somnambulists and nonpathologic reverie... zzzzzzz! Top YouTube Comment:  "i am covered in dirt, semen, and confusion. how else would you enjoy this music." think9 

This sleaze rock special is Crookers, an Italian DJ duo who pretend that it's 1987 and break dancing is still the shit. This mix track is "Lick my Lennon" (something got lost in the translation, again!) and it's plain to see that  they've never met a beat they haven't jacked. Top YouTube Comments: "the track is actually called limonare.... Limonareee!"  =D clowntju

This sleaze rock special is While She Sleeps' "Be (lie)ve" is it Metal? no it's muddled, chicken shit caterwauling, derivative, unoriginal, piss stained, gob spitting, bullshit hardcore. On the bright side "Fuck the bridge, we built the border" would make for a snappy Taco Bell slogan. Top YouTube Comment: "Sir, I can tell are a connoisseur of music by the way you spell cack" chrisontheworld

This sleaze rock special is the Deutschen tekno-screamo band Centhron's " Dreckstück "  the girl does her best  Elaine Benes imitation, while rocking 3" platforms. Her poofy partner disproves the theory that all Asians are cool. Top YouTube Comment: "Entschuldigen Sie, steht vielleicht 'Fick mich!' auf meiner Stirn geschrieben?, hehe... ich schreibe jetzt deutsch weil ihr mich nicht versteht"

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Silver City Blues Festival 2012

It's time to bust out your best fedora or Tilley hat and make plans to be in Silver City for the 2012 Silver City Blues Festival on Memorial Day weekend. This event has always been an exemplary exhibition of contemporary blues music. However, this year's roster of musicians seems a bit underwhelming. There is a wealth of talent lined up, just not as much as one would hope to see.

The Silver City Blues Festival, like The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta has taken on a life of its own. People will attend, simply because it's something to do and a good enough reason to knock back a few. The few available hotel/motel rooms available can be had for a poor man's ransom ($150 a night at the Econo Lodge?) Don't let it be said that Silver City can't gouge with the best of them.

The festivities start on Thursday night with the traditional dance party, which takes place in the parking lot of the Morning Star on Bullard Street. The honor of opening the festival this year, goes to Wally Lawder. Under most normal circumstances, coyotes would get left behind in The Rapture. However, Wally Lawder's Raptured Coyotes will make the trip to heaven (along with some of us)

Lawder, has the now common back story of modern wandering minstrels. Born in Kansas, raised in Connecticut, lived in New Jersey, moved to Silver City, affected a southwestern lifestyle and there you have it. Lawder recently relocated from Silver City to Tucson. Although, when the hat gets passed around he will come back and play. 

Wally & The Coyotes are performing at the Thursday night kick-off street dance. Upon further examination this would seem to be a strange choice. Wally Lawder doesn't exactly play dance music. His style lends itself more towards pensive reminiscing than foot stomping. But, in Silver City that's not a problem. Lube 'em up enough and they'll dance to anything.

 Things really get underway on Friday, a bike show, a DJ, Brandon Perrault, and the capper, Pat "Guitar Slim" Chase hosting what is sure to be a drunken high spirited affair at The Buffalo Bar. Brandon Perrault is a Silver City native who's been kicking around Grant County playing Tex-Mex & Country. He's a likeable sort, who's infectious enthusiasm far exceeds his musical talent.

Brandon has been known to set up a table at Walmart to try and sell a few cd's. Strained vocals and clunky beats be damned, it's paid off well for him. He's a man of the people, Grant County's Al Hurricane (without the eye patch) Brandon will literally hit the street at 6 p.m., on Bullard between Market and Broadway (I hope they remember to block off Bullard on both ends this time)

Bluesman, Pat "Guitar Slim" Chase will close out Friday's events with his electrifying brand of Chicago blues. A native of San Jose, Ca., Pat Chase now resides in New Mexico, and plays at a variety of venues across Southern New Mexico and El Paso. He's appeared at the Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle, the Fresno Blues Festival, San Francisco Blues Festival, and many others.

On Saturday the proceedings return to their customary setting at Gough Park. The Muddy Hands Blues Band from Las Cruces gets things underway at noon. Silver City's own Kas Nelson Trio featuring Sunny James will follow at 1:45. Big Daddy D and the Dynamites, the funk soul brothers hit the stage at 3:15. This five man band from Prescott, Az. plays an infectious brand of r & b.

Led by Darryl Porras on vocals, Big Daddy D and the Dynamites, specializes in "upbeat high energy music that picks you up and then takes you down... home" BDDD's roots go back to the early 1990's when the were the rhythm section for Freddie (Li'l Junior) Cisneros and The Leisure Kings. The band has been together since 1998 and they are tight and right.

When Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch take the stage, they will raise the level and quality of the music up a notch. Based in Dallas, Tx. Elmore plays Texas blues in the style of Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray and Freddie King,  he's the real deal. Jason Elmore plays a mean electric guitar, but his skill at picking acoustic delta blues guitar has them raving in The Lone Star state.

Trampled Under Foot headlines on Saturday. This unique trio consists of the three Schnebelen siblings, Danielle-vocals & bass, Kris- drums, Nick- Guitar (both Nick & Danielle play left handed)  Their newest album "Wrong Side of the Blues" features an appearance  by a musician, some in Southwestern New Mexico may recall, Johnny Lee Schell formerly of the rock band, Baby.

Trampled Under Foot calls Kansas City, Mo. home, so they're as steeped in blues tradition as anybody out there. The Schnebelens are a K.C. musical dynasty, their father Robert (who passed away in 1999)  fronted a band , Little Eva & The Works that also included their mother, Lisa Swedlund. Danielle likes to say that "We were listening to Muddy Waters from the womb"

By custom, Saturday's musical reverie will climax with a jam session featuring all the day's performer's at The Buffalo Dance Hall.  I'll take a moment to say that The Silver City Blues Festival is organized by The Mimbres Region Arts Council. Dirt City Chronicles has no connection with said organization and is neither endorsed nor approved by anyone connected to the festival.

The final day (Sunday) starts out with The Greenwood Misses, a trio of women from Silver City who play the blues, Delta style. They're followed by Country Blues Revue from Santa Fe,  a band that revolves around the talents of Michael Handler and Marc Malin. (I reviewed their eponymous album back in October of 2011)

 "She is a force of nature" is how the Rocky Mountain News describes Hazel Miller's voice.  A natural born blues, jazz & gospel singer, originally from Louisville,Ky.  Hazel now makes her home in Denver. In fact she is such a fixture in the Mile High city, that she was singled out as one of the 150 people who make Denver a better place to live.

Festival headliner, Rosie Ledet from Iota, Louisiana  plays zydeco accordion and sings like nobody's business. The Zydeco Sweetheart is famous in the genre for her sultry and suggestive lyrics, which includes an ode to "the little blue pill" and an invitation to come "play with my poodle" and of course her concert favorite "Eat My Poussiere"

Ledet has rebounded from a 2009 incident in which she was questioned by police about the death of a newborn baby. Ledet is alleged to have miscarried a nearly full term baby, who's body she then wrapped in a blanket and hid in a storage shed. The following day the band went on tour and upon returning to Allen Parish, Ms. Ledet admitted to a band mate what had happened.

As Joe Friday would say "Just the facts ma'am" Ultimately no charges were filed against Rosie Ledet and she was able to resume her musical career. None of this changes my opinion or expectations of the lady. Rosie and the Zydeco Playboys will close out the Silver City Blues Festival in high fashion and it's safe to say that nobody will leave without being satisfied. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Unleash The Raggies

This girl I dated had a painting hanging on the wall of her living room. Her dad, a notorious Albuquerque "businessman" had acquired the artwork in lieu of payment for.... let's just call it "services rendered" and leave it at that. At the time, her living room was his office, so there it hung. (the house was located on a compound, behind a 12 foot fence topped with concertina wire) He took a special liking to it, as did his daughter or anyone else that laid eyes upon it.

The painting  was titled "End of the World" and it depicted one big mother of an orgy.  Naked men and women, in living color and graphic detail, all entwined in every position imaginable. It was one endless human chain of sexual perversion and indulgence. I took it to be a parody of English painter John Martin's "The Great Day of his Wrath" which depicts the destruction of Babylon and the material world by natural cataclysm.

Inhibitions and modesty aside, that's how I want to go, and when the end does come (and it can't be soon enough) I'm popping "Raggie III- Madre de Dios" into the boombox and turning the volume up to 11. If these are indeed "the end days" then it's good to know that just as local music is slipping into the doldrums of apathy and complacency. The Raggies can come along and drop a solid package of party tunes to lively up yourself.

"Raggies III- Madre de Dios" is upon us and it's most striking feature (other than the music) is an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe laying waste to the borderplex cities of El Paso and Juarez. Given the present situation south of the border,  I can't say that I blame her. The album starts out on a somber note, not that "Mujeres de Juarez Blues" is a buzzkill. This track rolls out like an angry rattlesnake set to strike at anything that moves.

Since 1993 it's estimated that over 600 women have been murdered in Juarez. However, that figure is misleading. Mexican authorities lost track of the actual count once corpses started stacking up like firewood. For the people of Juarez and the Borderlands in general, the apocalypse is now. Four years of cartel warfare have left almost 10,000 dead in Juarez. In a strange way, the spike in overall deaths led some to believe that the random murder of women  had stopped.

With so many dead, it's difficult to differentiate between women killed because they got caught up in the drug wars or those who fell victim to the still unexplained evil forces that continue to prey on them.  Who's killing the women? Thrill kill cults, serial killers, snuff film producers, satanic cults? Abdul Latif Sharif, an Egyptian living in Juarez was convicted of murdering three women, but the murders continued unabated even after he was locked up.

Diamond Dave blows harp as if the end is near, which according to the Mayan Prophecy, it is. Jack uses his mushmouth vocals (ala Billy Gibbons) to good effect, as he paints a ghastly, but all too common scenario along the border. "He was digging a ditch the other day, found six pairs of women's shoes, those federales said, God damn!... mujeres de Juarez blues" Lomas de Poleo gives up their bodies, but it won't give up its secrets.

"Cross that borderline, just to buy some pills and booze, halfway across that Santa Fe Bridge, mujeres de Juarez Blues."  The Raggies' infectious sound is a blend of barrelhouse rhythms, propelled by a beefy rhythm section, growling guitar tones and the best damn mouth harp I've heard since the days of J. Geils and Magic Dick. If I may draw a comparison (which is what music writers do) on this track they do sound like vintage ZZ Top, before the silly beards and sunglasses.

"Rough Trade" shifts the mood like a construction worker's wolf whistle, "You're a lonely woman that wants to get laid... come by my place, I'm there all day" Western shirts and Wrangler jeans, "Six of bud light, old man's boots, all I need to get  me in the mood" Even when singing about sex toys, there's an undercurrent of tongue in cheek intelligence to The Raggies music. "You bring the butt plug and I'll supply the booze, come on now girl!  I've got nothing to lose"

Jack Kilpatrick works with risque lyrics unlike anyone since Chinga Chavin crooned about "Cum stains on my pillow, where your head used to be" It may just be his way of working through and making sense of complicated relationships. "Mirrors on the Ceiling" is a prime example "I got mirrors on the ceiling, black velvet on the floor, eight track stereo speakers up and down the hall" Boomhower and Quagmire couldn't do it any better.

"Put it all together to try and make a little love nest made for two" it was a match made in heaven "Then something came between us and I didn't know what to do, so I went out and bought some handcuffs and a vibrator built for two" At the time, it sounded like a great idea "These mirrors on the ceiling, they only show me the backside of you" Ultimately when the shit hits the fan, all a big titty baby has left is the south end of a northbound woman.

Jack is having second thoughts on the "In and Out Game "Threw your clothes in the yard, I thought that was goodbye" he then adds, "Now you're asking me to give it one more try" An independent streak coupled with an ingrained sense of doing the right thing, makes for a whirlwind of emotional debris "You never let me feel my pain, you always pull me back in again, the in and out game can drive a man insane" Jack is ready to move on, but this gal ain't ready to quit him yet

"Fag Hag" tells of a lady who keeps selective company "They all said that she was a fag hag, going up and coming down, isn't life a drag" most fruit flies subscribe to the notion that hetro men are for sex, gay men are for love.  "She don't need a straight man with a big sized car, she just needs a gay man who can party like a rockstar." Hell! let's not let that bit of wisdom get out, can't sing... can't dance, what's a straight man to do?

On "Left Alone" Jack bemoans his hasty decision to end a relationship, "Well I told you girl to leave me alone, didn't mean to break up our happy home, it's Christmas morning and I'm by myself getting stoned, is this what it means to be left alone?" Sadly, he realizes that left alone means being alone, "Well it's closing time and I better get on...down this dark and dirty street to my empty home, what am I going to do when the drugs run out and the money's all gone?"

Which brings me to two of life's greatest pleasures, morning sex and a morning buzz. I used to have discussion about the merits of getting baked in the morning with my stoner bud Alex. He attributed its powerful effects to the fact that your brain cells are recharged..."Stonin and Bonin I like to hit it first thing in the morning" I guess you could say the same about morning boners. Note: Priapism is considered a medical emergency and you should seek immediate medical care.

"Stonin' & Bonin" kicks off  a tawdry litany of sexual hijinks and shenanigans 1.) sex in public, "Well it's a champagne sunrise on a Greyhound bus, we're both buck naked, everybody's staring at us.... sex traffic jam down in Birmingham"  2.) the interstate transport of females for immoral purposes, "Before you accuse me of white slavery I say come over here girl and do me baby" Chuck Berry said the same thing and it still cost him three years in the penitentiary.

And last but not least 3.) drug abuse and murder? "We passed around the codeine just about the time the sun went down, painted desert.... blood all over that ground" You ain't heard nothing yet,  "She Pulled a Train" is no Mickey Newbury train song "Nobody knew where she came from... by 9 a.m. she was flashing that thong, Lord! about lunch time she was showing them titties,  by the time the dinner bell rang that train pulled out of the city"

Jack growls and the drums rumble "66 years old still giving them hell, by the time I hit the brake, the sparks flew off the rail" Is that you Nana? "She rolled up on a Harley chopper, anyone could see that this bitch was ready to rock, with a fistful of pills and some cheap champagne... it didn't take no genius to see that she was ready to ride that train... she pulled the train" Here's a bit of trivia, Push–pull is a mode of operation for locomotive trains allowing them to be driven from either end.

"Bonin' & Stonin" wraps up the proceedings with an Ol' McDonald "e-i-e-i-o" chorus that's sure to get stuck in your head for days. "Old McDonald had a farm... eieio... and on that farm he had a chick...eieio... he hit that chick up with his dick... eieio... with a hump, hump here and a hump hump there"  What!.... were you expecting something introspective and soul searching?  "Smoking and stroking, stoning and boning, I like to hit it first thing in the morning"

 Of course, excessive indulgence of the appetites often leads one to seek redemption from sin. "Help me Live my Life" takes us down this path. "It's a whole world of heartache, struggle and strife, I took the wrong road for much of my life" once a sinner now bathed in cool waters of deliverance "So many wrong roads, for a good man to choose, bars full of women, the drugs and the booze, it's a hallway of mirrors to make our way through, help me live my life lord, the way it pleases you"

Seduction from virtue followed by reflection, forgiveness and salvation, tell me "Why do the Good Times Have to Hurt so Bad?" A man has time to think when he's sitting in a cell "I was naked in the drunk tank in the Tracy city jail, me and my buddies went out last night and I guess we must have raised a little hell" Despite all my Sunday learning, Towards the bad, I kept on turning.  "They tell me I had a good time, maybe the best I ever had"..... "Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future"

Once again, The Raggies prove that they have what so many local bands are missing.... a fucking personality! (take note you limp dick charlatans) "Raggies III- Madre de Dios" is nothing short of  a hedonistic masterpiece devoted to the pursuit of epicurean pleasures. Jack isn't one to mince words, as he wryly wreaks havoc on the delicate sensibilities of those who prefer discretion. There's no beating around the bush (pun fully intended) If you seek subtle innuendo, then seek elsewhere, this is the adult table. Treat yourself, don't cheat yourself, buy this album, buy all their albums, buy some beer, get some weed. Live your life to the fullest, it's the middle of May, 2012 and the end is near.

This is from the album "Dusty and Me" from Diamond Dave's side project Chaparral Community Choir.
Which Diamond Dave describes as "A heartfelt tribute to Dusty (Rhodes) from myself. He showed me what it means to be a man"

There are stories that the few Raggies who still live there today are a hard people, toughened by existing on the bare necessities and copious amounts of alcohol. They are referred to as borderline white trash, although no doubt the prejudices that have followed them since they first came to this corner of the state still linger. As we all well know, more ignorant folk use “different” as an excuse to treat others poorly, and no doubt the Raggies — who never have seemed to be much for communication and open understanding — have been victims of cultural abuse.
*excerpt from Damned Connecticut, all that's weird, unexplained and unusual in Connecticut

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Mighty Tragic Romance

I could wax nostalgic about 1980's metal music all day long. There was just something about the music that screamed "I'm having a good time!" even if you weren't (in truth the 1980's mostly sucked) Nonetheless, a trip to a local tavern for happy hour specials and the hard rock sounds of Gypsy Rose, Durtie Blonde  or Babe Ruthless always cheered me up.

When you're young and straddling the poverty line, it's easy to let go and get wrecked. Those were strange days, cops hardly gave a fuck, automotive insurance and seat belts were optional and drinking was something you did while driving. If you've never driven 90 mph on I-25, while holding a hash pipe in one hand and a mixed drink in the other.... well brother!, I'm here to say that I don't do that anymore.

Has it been that long since Tragic Romance broke-up?  It appears so, but hold on to your Aquanet (in the non-aerosol pump bottle, of course!) because this bromance isn't over yet. On June 1st. at the world famous Whisky A Go Go, Tragic Romance will reunite for a cd release party/ video shoot. Billy Miles Brooke and all the original members of Tragic Romance (with the exception of Britt) are back together to celebrate the release of the band's latest album "Hollywood Daze" The Tragic Romance catalog is mighty slim, so this is welcomed news for hardcore fans.

For those of you not familiar with the band (they weren't local) there is an incentive to care. Billy Miles Brooke, the lead singer cut his teeth playing Albuquerque's bars and dives. He left for Los Angeles and then like the prodigal son, returned home.... to Santa Fe. Time waits for no one and Billy didn't dwell on the past, since his return to New Mexico, he's been involved with local rockers The Dirty Novels and Pan!c, thus keeping himself relevant and up to date.

Billy Miles Brooke is hands down the hardest working man in rock & roll.  His highly acclaimed solo album "All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go" revisited that great era of music that began with The Stones' "Beggars Banquet" and ended with "Exiles on Main St." Billy Brooke recently took time to answer a few questions and to give us the skinny on Tragic Romance, one of those great bands that got lost in the music biz shuffle. Billy hits on a number of topics: The Strip, The Whisky, Gene Simmons, Prince, The Dirty Novels, Pan!c and kickball. 

An Epic Interview w/ Billy Miles Brooke

DCC:  For fans of Tragic Romance, there's an air of anticipation surrounding this album release.

Billy:  This whole thing has been so incredibly out of the blue and surreal that I'm still trying to wrap my head around it.  There's this really cool "kid" basically- only 23, I believe, that contacted me about Tragic Romance via MySpace, probably, a couple years ago, that was all into the glory days of the L.A. glam scene.  He knew all the bands, venues, history etc., so I assumed he was much older.  It wasn't 'til later on he told me how old he was, and that was a shocker; but what was even more shocking was the fact that he wasn't alone- there are a lot of other younger rock n' roll fans that have gotten all into the late 80's early 90's L.A. "Sunset Strip" sound.  This "sound" basically runs the gamut of the tougher, sleazier bands like G n' R and L.A. Guns to the more flamboyant bands such as Poison, Warrant, etc. etc., and everything in between. 

Well, a year or two went by, and Patrick got a job as A & R for a little label out of Nashville called FnA Records.  They're putting out a lot of the old recordings by these old Sunset Strip bands, and he asked it I had some old T.R. recordings that they might be able to release as a collection, plus maybe 2 new recordings, if possible.  Of course I jumped at the chance, and so on June 1st, the new CD of old recordings, (plus 2 new ones) will be released.  We're having a record release party at where else?  The Whisky A Go-Go in L.A., which is probably still on of my favorite places (and most appropriate) to play in the whole world.  Also on the bill that night is Jetboy, one of the most awesome bands of that era that we used to play with quite a bit back in the day.  We're shooting two videos for the two new songs at 8 PM, and the it's also the record release party as well as a huge reunion for all our old friends and fans.  Will be a blast! 

DCC:  What can you tell us about the "Hollywood Daze" album 

Billy:  The "Hollywood Daze" CD is a collection of all the tunes we managed to record as demos, over the years in L.A., so it runs the gamut of the wild fun early days to the dark and serious later days.  The two new songs are newly recorded versions of two of our club faves that we used to play back in the early days but for some reason never put down on tape.  I absolutely love them, and hope they take off as "singles" now, 25 years later. 

But getting back to the story:  Tragic Romance was definitely "in-between".  We were the strangest mix:  When we first started out we looked like Cinderella,  with the giant hair, and pretty looks, and leather pants and frilly shirts and all, but our influences and what we were trying to sound like was very much informed by "Purple Rain" era Prince and even U2.  Mixed in with the classic rock type songs of the day and it was NOT your usual sound.  I'd lost all my scrapbooks years ago in a move back from Europe, so Britt, our original guitarist was nice enough to send me out his collection to scan this past week, and it is so amazing reading all the old reviews in BAM, Music Connection, L.A. Rock Review, etc. etc. - from reading these reviews, most all of which were super positive- you'd think we would have had a huge deal pretty much straight out of the box, but for some reason the labels just didn't see what all the critics saw in us.

Very strange- I almost wish we'd had bad reviews now, as one always reads in the classic band bios how "everyone hated us, we got the worst reviews, but we've sold 70 million records now, so who has the last laugh?".  Oh well, life is strange.  Anyway, in 1987, after playing the scene there with all the main Sunset Strip bands - we were the opening act for Warrant for their first record release party at the Roxy- such as Jetboy, Bang Tango, Love/Hate, Black Cherry (the orig. singer of L.A. Guns) Vain, The Zeros, etc. a band came along that really opened our eyes to what we could do.  They were called Shame (look up on YouTube "You Can't Stop the Rain" by Shame) and they really shook us up.  My favorite bands always were The Stones, The Who, The Clash, Queen and KISS, (and probably Prince at the time, Purple Rain was the reason I moved out to L.A. to really try to "make it". 

DCC:  I think most people forget just how influential Prince was and the impact that Purple Rain had on music when it came out, everyone had the album.  I'm not familiar with Shame, please clue us in.

Billy:  Shame showed that you could put the conviction of The Who, the Clash & Queen into that big-haired scene.  Huge powerful tunes that weren't just about trying to get laid and rocking all night.  This is what we were hoping to do as well, so it really inspired us to go down even more down that path.  (On our very FIRST demo, all three songs of which are on "Hollywood Daze", the CD featuring all of our unreleased L.A. studio recordings, plus 2 new ones, that is coming out on FnA Records on June 1st, you can hear a Stonesy rocker, a very Purply Rainy ballad, and a "Won't get fooled Again" type anthem.  We weren't just singing cheesy shlock, that's for sure.)  I would love to have a show on VH1 Classic, or be part of a segment on "That Metal Show" called "The Greatest Bands that Never Made It Big."  Tragic Romance would definitely be on there, but Shame would be #1.  They were so amazing.  Gene Simmons eventually signed them in the late 80's to his "Simmons Records" (part of Geffen, I believe) but then wanted half their publishing (the greedy bastard) which eventually caused a huge rift in the band and they split up. (Thanks a lot Gene, you complete dick!) 

DCC:  Corporate greed will be the death of rock music. My first impression of Tragic Romance was that your lyrics and music had more depth and sustenance then most bands on the Strip.

Billy:  They (Shame) really opened us up, and we went for longer, more powerful songs, with tons of passion, and pretty intelligent lyrics, which we always prides ourselves on.  We played all the legendary L.A. clubs many many times, which was so amazing to me, as I was a real student of rock and had read all the classic stories of Zep and the Doors and Hendrix playing the Whisky, Elton John breaking through at the Troubadour, Van Halen blowing the roof off Gazzarri's, the punk stuff at Madame Wongs, the metal bands at The Country Club, etc. etc. and then when we were there some amazing "underground" clubs started like "Scream" and "The Cathouse", which are now legendary.  Watching the old live recordings that were recently sent to me I was shocked to find how loud and crazy our fans were.  Serious screaming before and after and during just about every song.  I thought that must just have been in my hindsight's memories, but sure enough they were real.

DCC:  Tragic Romance was probably closer to The Cult (musically speaking) than most bands on the Strip (just to draw a comparison for those not familiar with the band) 

Billy:  Grunge hit in a huge way in the late 80's.  At first all of us rockers dug most of the stuff, esp. Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone and Alice in Chains, which were very derivative of Zeppelin and Sabbath. But the record companies decided that fun rock n' roll and super depressing grunge from Seattle could not exist in the same world.  I'm sure the fans of both would have been fine with it, but if you were a rock n' roll band from L.A. after grunge came out you didn't stand a chance in hell.  At the first change in the wind, as it were, our drummer, Mark and myself got together one night, and without discussing all the stuff mentioned above (really) we had a little writing session one night that just seemed a natural evolution.  We came up with "Vampire Blues" (see YouTube) and "Love and Revolution", and the next thing you know we were on a different path- one that seemed like it could exist in the grunge world (but without being grunge.)  This could not have happened without Jane's Addiction who we were lucky enough to play with and saw that they were doing something incredibly unique and rocking that transcended any genre. That really gave us hope and inspired us.

DCC:  My thoughts exactly, grunge pushed the big hair bands out of the spotlight, but it also forced everyone: musicians, record labels and radio stations to retool their way of thinking. 

Billy:  In those days we would sometimes see everyone from  members of Jane's, to Faster Pussycat,  to James Hetfield of Metallica watching and most of the time rocking out, at our shows.  From then on our path was set:  Looking back on it now it seems we set out to be the "new" Doors, who were faves of ours as well, and as you'll see in the artwork on the "Hollywood Daze" CD, I was posing like Jim Morrison on most of those early flyers.  We started writing all kinds of wild, free songs, some very rocking, some quirky, some slow and powerful and hopefully all very poetic.  We really dug this little niche we'd created for ourselves.  Don't let the "new" Doors tag make you think we were wimpy, as you'll hear on "Hollywood Daze", we were heavy as @#$%$%! on some of those tunes.  Like you mentioned, The Cult, and definitely Sabbath.  We were trying to be chiaroscuro, if you will, light and heavenly and dark, brooding, and heavy as hell at the same time, hopefully giving life to the spaces the could exist in between.

DCC:  Tragic Romance was the band that other musicians went to see... everything seemed to be in place for the "big breakout" yet somehow....

Billy:  Again, we were critic's faves, but the labels kept passing on us.  Our look got weirder and darker and darker, (very "gothy", although at the time we never imagined such a thing.  Of course we loved the Cult at the time, they were AWESOME.)  and we eventually completely gave up on trying to impress the labels, and just wrote exactly what came from the heart.  When we did the label showcases for the presidents of the companies- or management companies, like Doug Thayer of Motley Crue, etc. - and I've recently been able to watch the recordings of these recently- we were absolutely untouchable.  We practiced so much, and had so much confidence, and balls like you wouldn't believe, I simply cannot believe that one of the "big" labels didn't take the chance on us.  Eventually a smaller international label called "Century Media" signed us in '93 and put out a live CD we'd previously recorded with the aid of Peter Frampton's new (at the time) mobile unit.  It was called "Cancel the Future" and captured that (what we're calling now) Gothy/ weird era of the band.  It sold about 5,000 units out of the box, but wasn't followed up on by the label, and eventually disappeared.  You can still find it in used CD and cassette stores.  It's kind of cool, but I always wished we could have captured all these tunes with a real producer in a great studio.

DCC:  I see Tragic Romance as a precursor to Evanescence and some of the gothic metal bands that followed.

Billy:  We never played up this style, or image, or whatever, but around 2006 I started getting a lot of messages, requests, etc. on our MySpace page from a super lovely Gothy bunch that somehow had found the band, and were really getting into us.  This eventually led to a tour of Finland (5 cities) and was supposed to to 22 more dates in Germany and the U.K., but unfortunately had to be cut short after our tour bus ate up all the money breaking down every couple days in Finland.  Those Finnish dates were amazing though, and it was so cool to see all these young people get into these songs that were over 20 years old.  We definitely played up the whole Gothy image on that one, because, as you're probably aware, there are many Finnish bands like Evanescence (although they are American) and a lot 0f folks that still love that Cult/ Mission sound up there.  ALONG with the glam stuff.  Finland was perfect:  Hanoi Rocks meets The Cult.  That was kind of Tragic Romance in a funny kind of way.

DCC: The Dirty Novels had a very cool Stones like quality to their music, Pan!c was edgier, almost punk.  Two very different bands, you had very different roles in each. 

Billy:  Yep, they were my two favorite bands when I moved back to N.M. in the early 2000's.  The Dirty Novels were first, and went through a couple incarnations, but eventually stabilized as the Paul, Brian, Dandee, Joey version for many years there.  They were played on MTV shows, and were a fave on Little Steven's Garage show, and really kick-started the ABQ scene that had kind of dried up after The Shins left. There was the D.N.s, The Mindy Set, and the Foxx, a very glammy/ poppy era that really came alive for a while.  Unfortunately a lot of line-up changes then ensued, and at one point the D.N.s were without a bass player.  They played at my solo CD release parties, but without a bass player, so afterwards I offered my services, 'cause I knew how to play bass and always loved their band.  Luckily they said yes, and so for about 9 months in 2009 we completely ROCKED the Duke city and Santa Fe, (and SXSW) often playing with touring national bands and absolutely mopping the floors with them.  It was so funny- after EVERY gig there was always a handful of kids (from ABQ) and ask us:  "Where are you guys from !?"  They couldn't believe we were "just an ABQ" band.  The main guy, Paul Novelas, has now moved to Portland, so there's no longer a Dirty Novels, but you can see all the rest of the "classic line-up", (Brian, Dandee, and Joey) are all in another fabulous band, Lousy Robot nowadays. 

DCC:  Is Pan!C currently on hiatus?

Billy:  Pan!C was a little bit later- probably 2007 or so, but they had that same dangerous, sexy, and definitely more "punky" mentality.  Both bands had songs that you could actually remember and sing a couple hours after seeing them for the first time, which is so crucial to a great rock n' roll band.  They had a awesome line up, but their guitar player Rachel moved to Colorado, so they wre going to split up.  I wrote them and told them that that would be a crime, and that I could be their lead guitar player- and of course the chance to share the stage with Eva, the sexy vixen front-person/ singer/ bass-player, and Joey, from the Dirty Novels, was a venture I could not resist undertaking, so I put it out there, and lucky for me, they said "yes"!

We only play about twice a year, unfortunately- I don't think we're officially split up or on hiatus, I just think the scene is pretty slow right now in both ABQ and S.F. that there's just not many gigs to be had.  Also, Joey's in a couple different bands and Eva is REALLY into her kickball.  (Yes, it's a thing.)  So something tells me that when the right gig comes up, we'll get together again and throw down a full-on Pan!C attack!   I love playing lead guitar and bass as well, so playing with both bands mentioned has really been a fun time.   After the Whisky A Go Go show on June 1st I'll probably have lots of time on my hands, but who knows, maybe the Tragic Romance CD will do cause some kind of interest, and we may do some festivals, or open up for some other bigger bands from the ol' wild Sunset Strip days.  You just never know what could happen....THAT I've learned. 

DCC:  Billy contacted me the following day to fill in one major gap

Billy:  Hi again Ernest, when I woke up this morning it hit me that I never told the ending of the T.R. story. In case you want to put it in there what happened was after "Cancel the Future" was released we went on a tour from L.A. all the way to Florida through the South. Sure enough we were too weird for most of the crowds- although the crowds all dug the stage show & energy, hardly anybody really wanted to hear a "new, heavy Doors". When we got back to L.A. some of the guys wanted to go heavier, like Pantera, but the thought of changing to try and win more fans just made me sad. It definitely wasn't fun any longer, so I split from the band. They went on with a new singer to record a CD as The Almighty Ultrasound, which was actually more like Radiohead and Garbage. (Thought I better tie that up for you. thanks again, Billy)

Like I said.... EPIC!, thank you Billy

For an in depth review of Billy Miles Brooks "All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go" follow the link:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sleaze Rock

Oh Boy! it's time for another edition of that guilty pleasure I call Sleaze Rock. No academic pretensions here, just talking smack and capping on bad music videos. I remind you that all YouTube comments posted are actual comments (spelling errors intact) and those are actual YouTube user names. Seriously!, benuranusdover, winstonchuchill, jamgoskat334 ..... like  I could make that shit up.

This sleaze rock special is "Happiness" by Pacifist, and it's a fucking bonafide tard fest of bad taste.  A  double ended rubber dildo as a musical instrument and the pedobear? Nothing could be this bad without some effort and they do get an A+ for effort. Top YouTube Comment: "I came to see some lesbian porn not some crappy ass band playing with dildos"  Benuranusdover

This sleaze rock special has us Surrounded By Monsters,  "Dr Phuck" features some guy who looks just like the bastard love child of Kyle Orton & Tom Green. Gruntcore at its absolute worst, hits your eardrums like a sharp icepick. Top YouTube Comment: "Great just what we need, fucking hipstercore. I don't want to live on this planet anymore" winstonchuchill

This sleaze rock special is iwrestledabearonce - "You know that ain't them dogs' real voices" Women shouldn't grunt like that, unless they're playing tennis or pulling a plow.  Yet, I feel strangely compelled to go into the kitchen and make this bitch a sandwich. Top You Tube Comment:  "i jizz from how much i love heer voice haha and i usually dont say stupid shit like that" jamgoskat334

This sleaze rock special features some familiar faces, 'Burque's own tube sock stuffers, Brokencyde with  "Freaxxx" This isn't new but it still sucks the corn out of a pig's ass. Ha! you know that ain't them gurls' real voices!  Top YouTube comment: .. "ima cheerleader and i love pink ...but i also like screamo.... so open your fucking mind before yo mouth" moniquefoster