Sunday, September 02, 2007

A Labour (day eve) of Surf


You should be listening
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
Bobby Rivera at the Circle A turned out to be nothing less than magical. Remember, instrumental surf is probably one of -- if not the all time favorie -- genres of music that I can go and enjoy knowing nothing about the band head in, so they already had a friendly ear and open mind when I walked in. (Though this could be a double-edged sword --if you claim your are a surf band and subseqently suck, I will especially hate you because you've ruined a genre I love. But you'd have to really suck, and not even try with your heart before I didn't give you the benefit of the doubt.) But I think part of it is the intimacy of that place, where things can happen that normally wouldn't happen at a regular gig with a regular state, but this feeling of playing in somebody's rec room one gets by doing Warwick's place encourages (forces) bands to loosen up, make friends with the audience (if half the people there aren't already friends) and try them as a sounding board.

Case in point -- afer turning into a set which thrilled the dozen and a half people there (many of whom were among Milwaukee's top Americana guitarists themselves), Warwick called for an encore and Rivera said, "we'll have to make something up." And so they did. He instructed key, time signature, general beat, let his standup bass player set the tone, (and the fact that this is a standup bass player and not a electric Fender Precision should tell you a lot about the tone of this surf band -- and they were off. But it wasn't enough for a crowd whose appetite had been whet -- Warwick led a demand for yet another tune, and they complied with making yet another one up. This time, the audience was solicited for parameters ("major or minor key" -- they chose latter) and they ran with it. "These two guys (drummer and bass) are jazz-rained, you can tell them anything and they can go with it," Rivera explained to me afterwards. And Brian Wurch adds perfect kitch on his rhythm guitar and his choice of clothes. But while his finger style -- which suited his hollow body Gretsch -- may have seemed country-influenced, this man understands what surf is about and kept me fixed on the band for the whole second set. Particularly illustrative of the mixed influences was their take on the surf standard "Caravan" -- an arrangement that would have suited Gene Vincent or Duane Eddy's band, but still brought to mind Dick Dale's piece of the instrumental guitar spectrum. Very very nice overall, I had a wide smile plastered on my face the entire set. This was an object lesson in how I'm still getting back into the scene -- Rivera's apparently been around for awhile, and this is the first time I've seen him. And I'm glad it was in the friendly confines of the Circle A.

Darrell "da Brains" Martin took over on the turntables when the band finally gave up and had no more to give. Brains drove us through surf, biker, garage before I jumped on. Various friends drifted in and out through the night, so here's the sets I put out:

Wreckless Eric, "Veronica"
The Fiery Furnaces "I'm Gonna Run"
Frank Black "Threshold Apprehension"
The Dukes of Stratosphere, "My Love Explodes"
The Hentchmen, "Cars on Film"
The Sugarcubes, "F*#cing in Rhythm and Sorrow"
Elastica, "Blue"
The Bongos, "Mambo Sun"
Sonny and Cher, "A Cowboy's Work is Never Done"
Ian Hunter (for whom I now have tickets to see at Potowatomi!) "Laugh at Me"
The Thought, "Eight Miles High"
The Yardbirds, (who I just saw last week) "I Wish You Would" (had to play it since they didn't!)

Set Two

The Kinks, "Shangri-La"
Sparks, "Equator" (and somebody in the crowd asked me if I was Poly Styrene after he caught me trying to sing along with the Mael Brothers, prompting me to fish out and play the next song)
X-Ray-Spex "Oh Bondage, Up Yours"
The Pixies, "Into the White"
The Happy Mondays, "Step On" (and learned from Shurilla that this was a cover and I should seek out the original artist!)
Big Audio Dynamite, "B.A.D."
Lo-Fidelity All-Stars, "Kasperov's Revenge"
The Box Tops, "I Met Her In Church"
The Gun Club, "For the Love of Ivy"
Cream, "Spoonful"

Set Three

Paul Setser and Angie Livermore from Eat the Mystery popped in along with Lemonie Fresh, and between them and the rest of the room, I knew I had some knowledgeable enthusiasts here and I decided to make an entire set of covers and challenged them to determine song, artist, and original artist. It was fun. I started out with a little cabaret to make Angie feel at home:

The Big Mess Orchestra, doing Eno's "Third Uncle"
Tom Jones, doing Portishead's "All Mine"
Husker Du, doing the Beatles' "Ticket to Ride"
Man or Astroman, doing the Pixies' "Manta Ray"
Siouxxie and the Banshees, doing John Cale's "Gun"
Cale, doing Elvis's "Heartbreak Hotel"
Adrien Belew, doing the Beatles' "I'm Down"
The Dead Kennedys, doing "Rawhide"
EZ Pour Spout, doing AC/DC's "Black in Black"
and the night closed with Mick Ronson, doing Rogers & Hammerstein's "Slaughter on 10th Avenue"

OK, I'm putting on my gnarly thrash boots and heading down to the Kenosha Punk Picnic. Wish me luck.

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