Wednesday, April 23, 2008

If you're in Glasgow tomorrow (24th) night then you may be interested in a show that's happening at Mono. A charity show in aid of orphan support in Malawi will feature Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee as well as Emma Pollock. They will all perform solo sets and the evening will culminate in a Vaselines section with Belle and Sebastian backing 'em up.

I imagine that indie kids everywhere are salivating at the very thought...
Today I went to take a look at the progress with the refurbishment of The Hippodrome in Bo’ness. It dawned on me as I left there that it hadn’t actually become the La Fabrique at all. That place was along the road where the Lidl store is now or thereabouts. Anyway, I’ve been doing a lot of looking at buildings and places that should be retained rather than demolished. Must be an age thing.

The Hippodrome has got a lottery grant via Scottish Screen and that would suggest that the vast collection of archive material might get a big screen airing. That would be better than just being a place to screen the same old circuit contenders time and again. It was pretty busy over there, lots of older citizens of the town going back to see what’s up with where they probably spent some of their formative years.

The opening is scheduled to take place in 2009 so the format of the programming should be starting to take shape. This A listed building doesn’t look like it’ll play host to live music though. I think that early intentions in that direction are unlikely to happen but you never know. It certainly seems like it would be a good place for acoustic/singer-songwriter type acts.

On the road out to Bo’ness, there were council workers picking up litter. They don’t seem to be evident here in Grangemooth though. I’m thinking about noising up the authorities a bit over the coming months because this place is a dump and getting worse by the second.

Of course BP selling out to Ineos has put the cat amongst the proverbial flying rats. And with the strike there pending next week, conspiracy theorists are packing tales of opportunism to 86 areas that they don’t want no more. Shutting down the plant is one thing but what about firing it up again? Might not have to bother about the litter problem.

Ruptured pipes, air in the bloody things, a downright inability to have any real scoob as to what could happen in the aftermath. That’s what’s shakin’ just a short distance from the bunker. The main bugbear of the dispute is that the employees are being asked to contribute to their own pensions. Boo and indeed hoo. As somebody who has just been rogered in terms of my own facility should I stumble on to retirement age, I don’t have much sympathy. On the other hand, they’re prepared to make a stand when so many just roll over. Meanwhile there’s a fuel shortage pending and people are making like they’re at the bread counter on Chrishmaz Eve. Don't you love the de-evolution of (in)human nature.

I’m half hoping it all escalates – just to see what the outcome is. Devilment an' that...

Dear friends,

Please join us in celebrating the life of Chris Gaffney, April 30th at The Cellar in Long Beach, California.

Andy Kindler and the Gaffney family will be hosting a night of stories and music.

Special guests include Dave Alvin and The Guilty Men, Hacienda Brothers, The Cold Hard Facts and many other friends.

The Cellar’s address: 201 E. Broadway, Downtown Long Beach.

Located on the Promenade at Broadway. The memorial celebration begins at 3pm.

Donations are graciously accepted and deeply appreciated.

We hope to see you all there.

Love, The Gaffneys
Martin Percival sent me this report yesterday and Randy Haecker who compiled it gave me the go ahead to post it here. My thanks to Randy and also to Madeline Bocaro...

As you might guess, I had mixed emotions stepping foot into CBGB again now that it's been re-opened by designer John Varvatos as an upscale clothing boutique. But curiosity got the best of me and I appreciated the fact that the opening night party last Thursday was a benefit concert to support the Save The Music Foundation. Plus, the night promised a terrific linuep of talent: IAN HUNTER, RONNIE SPECTOR, CLEM BURKE (Blondie), CHEETAH CHROME (Dead Boys), ALAN VEGA (Suicide), HANDSOME DICK MANITOBA (Dictators), the LOSER'S LOUNGE band, and a rare reunion gig from L.E.S. heroes D GENERATION.

So I dutifully bought my ticket (thanks Lindsey) and took the subway down to CB's.

The interior was certainly recognizable as CBGB. Portions of the sticker-covered original walls still remain, though they are now behind protective glass covers. The original stage is gone but for the night's festivities they had installed a replacement stage in approximately the same location as the original.

I winced at the vast number of security staff inside the place, all wearing headsets and dressed in black designer suits. And then there were scores of people with designer hair running around with t-shirts that said "Birthplace of Punk" on the back. ICK.

But I can't say anything bad about the concert. The concert ROCKED. I spotted a couple of the original sound guys from CB's and the Continental, and everything sounded perfect. In addition to the aforementioned musical guests, Varvatos and crew managed to gather a jaw-dropping lineup of unannounced "special guests" including JOAN JETT, WAYNE KRAMER (MC5), TOM MORELLO (Rage Against The Machine), PERRY FARRELL, SLASH, JERRY CANTRELL (Alice In Chains) and SEN DOG (Cypress Hill) among others.

I was right up against the stage and documented the whole thing. I got several shots of the new interior, including three of the new "chandelier" that now hangs in the middle of the space. All my photos are here:

Here's an additional take on the night, this one provided by my pal Madeline Bocaro, who was pressed up against the front of the stage all night.

CBGB - ONE MORE TIME! By Madeline Bocaro

On April 17, 2008 we stood outside under the new black 315 Bowery awning as ropes were put up, and limos pulled up. I don't know where these people thought they were, but I was at CBGB! The CBGB gallery next door(now Morrison Hotel Gallery) exhibits a huge poster in its window announcing Bob Gruen's exhibit Rockers, featuring Sid Vicious smashing a condiment-loaded hot dog into his own face, sporting a badge that says, "I'm A Mess".

A guy approaches me asking, "Where's the Bowery Hotel?" and I recognize him -former T. Rex/Led Zep publicist, B.P. Fallon. Elements of heaven and hell and surrealism permeated the evening. Up walked the cowboy from The Village People. The only logical explanation is that he probably has Alzheimer's and wandered into the most inappropriate place for him on earth!

DGeneration are magnificently sound-checking inside while way too many security staffers are strategizing the guestlist/wrist band coordination. When I roll my eyes, someone asks, "Wasn't it ever like this before?" I reply, "There hardly was a door - people just stumbled in and out of the cavernous hole all night long."

Tonight, we enter and there's an eerily empty space to the right where dear old gray-haired owner Hilly used to sit and stamp hands. But the place is pretty much intact. It feels the same. It even looks the same, but a bit cleaner.

All the graffiti and historic crap stuck to the walls has been preserved under glass, with lots of cool rock posters and framed photos everywhere. Alice Cooper, T. Rex, the Jam and Iggy Pop music is playing. It feels like the line in Bowie's song "Heroes", "We can steal time, just for one day." A new bar is placed right where the old one used to be, and as we enter deeper and see the stage, it's just like old times - except the infamous bathrooms are gone. (There were Port-O-Pottys set up outside).

The new tenant, designer John Varvatos has retained the spirit of the old place. It could've become a Starbucks or a bank, but here we are -at CBGB again!

It's an opening bash for the Varvatos boutique (not a garment in sight) and a benefit for VH1's Save The Music. The cavalcade of stars begins. First up is a group of kids under age 12 – maybe even 9 - Care Bears on Fire. If I didn't feel old when I walked in, I sure did now. Next was another group of teen boys, Pop Girls etc.. They were the pimply cretins of the class whom all the girls ridiculed, dressed in pointy boots and too-tight jackets. They had no idea how ridiculous they looked!

Up next was the DGeneration reunion - the first in 10 years. My god did they rock! Incredible memories of how great they were. "No Way Out", "Frankie" and "Degenerated" floored everyone! Bassist Howie Pyro flew in from L.A. I reminded guitarist Danny Sage that he once told me I'd see them at Madison Square Garden, and I did - when they opened for KISS in 1996. He yelled down to me from the stage at MSG, "I told you!!!" Now he said, "Look where it got us, right back here!" A wild blast from the past.

I guess Debbie Harry had better things to do that night, so Clem Burke backed up the Losers Lounge with some singers who did T. Rex, Blondie and Bowie songs. Then came the redemption of Ronnie Spector! She looked incredible and sang her gorgeous rendition of Johnny Thunders' "You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory". She wiped away tears and said, "This place started it all - so many faces are running through my mind like - Joey Ramone..." At least SHE remembered! Then she sang the most beautiful "Be My Baby" knocking down the confining wall of sound...just her pure "Woah oh oh oh oh." It was heavenly. I've always admired her - a true pop diva from another era who stepped down from her throne to appreciate and befriend the underground creatures of CBGB.

Without hesitation, they announced Ian Hunter. I wasn't ready for another of my most precious heroes so suddenly, but out he came amidst the loudest cheers of the evening for "Once Bitten Twice Shy", "Central Park N' West", "Roll Away The Stone" and "All The Young Dudes."

Alan Vega from Suicide, still ever so insane did a mystifying version of ? And The Mysterians' "96 Tears" - at once classic and ridiculous. Joan Jett, looking amazing, did "Bad Reputation". The Dead Boys' Cheetah Chrome came out for "Sonic Reducer" and the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog". The Dictators' Handsome Dick Manitoba, MC5's Wayne Kramer and others jammed on "Kick Out The Jams". Then came Slash and Perry Farrell, and later members of Cypress Hill. The evening became confusing as it derailed and degenerated from Degeneration to this.

But at least we know that a stage still can be pulled out at any time, and anything can happen in this preserved historic place where we all grew up.
Brother Patrick has organised this interview for your reading pleasure...

"I am super successful, because I live the life I love and I love the life I live." - Margaret Doll Rod(s)

Margaret just issued her new (and second) album, called "Scintillating" on Gonna Puke records. An Italian label mostly distributed on ebay, it seems. It deserves to available more widely, so spread the word.

I've always thought of her as a kind of female Jonathan Richman (by coincidence, both she and Jojo just issued a new records and are touring Europe at the same time) : same kind of emotional, down to earth person. Always giving their best, even if the audience is limited. They’re not disillusioned by a certain lack of what is often perceived as success. These people are beautiful human beings.

Patrick: I remember you once told me that the artists that inspired you the most are Hasil Adkins (RIP) and Jonathan Richman. What can you tell us about the?.

Margaret: I can't tell you a whole lot about Jonathan Richman, because I have never met him. I do however love dancin my booty off at his shows. Hasil Adkins on the other hand was one of the sweetest and kindest crazy men I ever met. We'd talk for hours on the telephone and see who could holler the loudest and laugh our butts off. When we met he always treated me like a little girl swinging me around and then ask me sumthin kind of sexy. Like do you wanna hunch. He made me cassettes of songs he would like to hear me cover, but I never did. I just liked listening to Hasil. He would tell me about my picture that he had up on the wall, and well I don't eat no more hot dogs (“No More Hot Dogs” is a song by Hasil Adkins).

P: Have you ever thought of covering a Jonathan Richman's song and if you have, which one ?

M: I never thought to cover a Jonathan Richman song, crazy thing is I rarely even think

P: You recently explained why you decided to stop the Demolition Doll Rods. Were they the very first group you were involved with? Before that you toured with the Gories in 1992, dancing on stage while they were playing, right?

M: The Demolition Doll Rods was the first band I was ever in. I did not decide to stop the Doll Rods. I would never leave the Doll Rods. I always have and still do love them with all my heart. Christine. a.k.a Thump had a baby and decided to devote herself to her little one which I would do the same if she were mine. Danny left the band to find himself. I did help the Gories out on their first tour selling records, carrying equipment, sewing the crotch of Micks pants every other night, and well I couldn't help myself. I do love to dance. So for sure like all shows I go to you'll find me dancin. Heck I dance even when there isn't any music playin’.

P: Was the show at the Fillmore on Halloween 2006,opening for the Cramps, the ultimate highlight of DDR's career? Can you tell me about your friendship with Lux & Ivy?

M: The Doll Rods have had some pretty amazing highlites in this life time. The Fillmore was a great time. Anytime I can spend with Lux and Ivy is out of this world. They are a main line to a good time.

P: I would have bet that you were living in Italy those last months. But I guess you miss your sister in Detroit, too. Are you living partly in Detoit and Italy ?

M: My home is where my heart is. Usually on the road, sometimes in the air. It's true what they say about me I definitely get around. I do spend a lot of time in Italy these days and whenever Italy and I are together it definitely feels like home. The same goes for when I stay in Michigan such an amazing place. You know people came from all over the world to stay there. The crazy thing is it's not where you come from it's where your goin to. Yep my heart is my home.

P: Your latest album, called "Scintillating " was been recorded in Brazil at the same time of the previous one (Enchanté), why did it take such a long time to come out ?

M: I did record "Scintillatin'" in Brazil some time after “Enchante” was released. While at the same time, I was making costumes for myself and sometimes for Danny. Writing songs for the Doll Rods constantly. Touring with the Doll Rods constantly and of course making albums with the Doll Rods. So as hard as it was to stop playing with the Doll Rods it gave me a chance to give a little time to myself and put out this album.

P: It's a limited edition of 500 on Gonna Puke. I only saw it available on ebay, no info anywhere else... Don't you think that a brilliant album with such a beautiful cover deserves to be widely distributed ?

M: It is my dream that this music that flows through me is available to everyone. So I just keep dreamin and am so thankful for every bit of help I get.

P: The cover of the album mentions Margaret Doll Rods. Has the “s” been added because you’re a full (one woman) band ? Or else ?

M: I don't know why I added the s, but I did and I like it.

P: The sound on this new album, produced by you and Marco Butcher, is far better than on the previous one. Please tell me more about the recording.

M: It was simple and straight up. I played the songs - instruments and vocals all at once like I do on stage. We didn't have much time because I was also on tour at the time promoting the last album. So we just got in there, I played and that was it. If I had an idea I would tell it to Marco and he would translate for me and I knew Clayton (Clayton Martin, the owner of the studio where Margaret’s album was recorded) understood because he did exactly what I asked for. Really great guys!

P: Marco is the leader of Thee Butchers Orchestra, the best Brazilian group ever, one of their albums was produced by Danny and they even covered a DDR song (Move To The Music). How did you meet them, are they your connection with Brazil ?

M: Marco and a girl named Debby wrote us years ago asking us to please come and tour in Brazil. The Doll Rods toured there for two weeks. It was a really great experience so for sure, when they asked for me to come back, I was happy to go back and tour there and make an album. It was crazy!

P: Another place where you’re famous seem to be Slovenia, where you played you’re 1st solo show a couple of years ago, right ?

M: I was also fortunate enough to play my solo show in Slovenia.

P: The new album is a real masterpiece with lots of powerful ballads. Except for some few backing vocals on “This Lil’ Light ‘O Mine”, it’s a full one woman band record, right?

M: Yes of course except for the backing vocals on this Lil' Light O' Mine. I play everything and sing everything all at once. It's the only way I know how. It's all me. Sometimes I feel all woman and sometimes I feel part girl, and a little bit of who knows what!

P: Yep! This gospel song “This Lil’ Light O’ Mine” could have featured on the latest (I hope, not last) DDR album. This lil’ light o’ mine is the light of love ... This song fits perfectly with your philosophy about hearts that should be “big and always open”, as you wrote in the liner notes of your album.

M: It's strange I don't believe I have a philosophy on love or life. I just try and follow my heart and listen, and if my heart has something good to offer then I share it with those that would like some.

P: Apart from this song which is traditional (credits generally goes to Harry Dixon Loes) and Big O’s “Dream Baby”, all the songs have been written by you. They’re all killers with Margaret’s touch, no filler and as I already said, the sound is perfect. What is your personal fave on the album ?

M: I think my personal favorite is Hey Lil' Stranger

P: My fave Big O album is “Roy Orbison Sings", from 1972, do you know this one?

M: Please burn me a copy of the big O CD. I'd love to have something new to listen too

P: An album is completely perfect on if it has a beautiful cover. And this one has ! You’re not as naked as on the previous one but you’re sexy as ever (please, don’t imagine i’m crude or whatever – hey, come on, you know you’re sexy, ahahah). In the liner notes, you mention Bambi painting you – do you mean that those pix on the cover are paintings, like those by Guy Pellaert or Edward Hopper ?

M : Thanks! Bambi is a make up artist. She just put make up on me so no the album is not painted. I just feel like I am personally being painted when people put make up on me. It is such a strange feeling the brushes on your skin. I feel like a canvas. However I do love Guy Pelleart. I don't Edward Hopper.

P: Is there something else that you’d like to say about your album or your current tour ?

M: Not really I am just excited to have the opportunity to play.

P : See ya soon – in Paris, May 1st

M : Thanks Patrick, if there is anything else please write, and I will see you real soon.

Margaret Doll Rod(s) on tour :

Forthcoming shows :
Saturday, April 26th @ Gaswerk, Winterthur / Sunday, April 27th @ the Swamp, Freiburg / Monday, April 28th @ the Tsunami, Cologne / Tuesday, April 29th @ Le Pot au Lait, Liège / Wednesday, April 30th @ the Pit's, Courtrai / Thursday, May 1st @ Le Rocher, Paris / Friday, May 2nd @ the Cosmic Trip Fest, Bourges / Sunday, May 4th @ the Ratpack, Clermond Ferrand / / Monday, May 5th @ Donald's Pub, Tours / Tuesday, May 6th @ Barbarella, La Rochelle / Tuesday, May 13th @ the Mau Club, Rostock / Wednesday, May 14th @ White Trash Fast Food, Berlin / Thursday, May 15th @ Bessunger Knabanschule, Darmstadt / Friday, May 16th @ Deep Inside, Dijon / Saturday, May 17th @ the Party, Nolay / Sunday, May 18th @ TAF, Montpellier

The album is available at Gonna Puke records.