Last week I was in Pittsburgh. This is very close to where I was born and raised. Like, about a half hour away. But this was a business trip, so the majority of my time was spent on...business. I did get to spend one evening with family, and another evening going out with friends to see Glostik Willy at the Thunderbird Cafe. Now, Glostik Willy is a trio from Muncie, Indiana: guitar, bass, drums. When they took the stage the first thing I noted was that they looked to be (and were) in their early twenties. The guitarist and drummer had very long hair and wore tie-die shirts. The bass player was a big, bearded guy dressed in black with a glow wristband. Methinks, "Ahhh, okay, got it. Hence the name Glostik." A power trio setup. I wondered what they would sound like. Suddenly, SOUND! Full-bodied in-your-face power trio aggression. The first song took me by surprise as I settled in to understand what was going on. First, the guitarist, Jameson Bradford. He looked like Warner Sallman's painting of Jesus, "Head of Christ", or actually closer to Jesus in Da Vinci's "The Last Supper". He was tall, thin, with very long flowing reddish brown hair and slight beard. His fingers were long and thin, and his hand looked like a spider crawling up and down the fretboard - a modern day John Cippolina look. I later discovered the drummer was his brother, Ralf "Mowf" Bradford. The drummer was proficient, fast, and furious with a style akin to the early 70s hard rock drummers but on a more modern array of drums. Bassist, Zach "Buddha" Aguilar, had been a friend since junior high, when they first formed a band. His style veered toward melodic, similar to Jack Bruce of Cream with a touch of funk percussiveness. The first song did not do them justice, though I quickly identified three sources of inspiration: Blue Cheer and Gov't Mule (especially guitarist Warren Haynes and drummer Paul Whaley). and early Mudhoney (sans rhythm guitar). There was a striking aural resemblance to an obscure West Virginia power trio, Skuldedog, but with cleaner execution. Very few vocals, which were nearly inaudible. You could hear voices, and see their mouths move but words? What are words? The focus was on the guitar and interplay with the other two. Songs were long jams, and what was amazing to me was that with all the long jams I did not hear a lot of repeated riff patterns nor repeated guitar licks. There was a progressiveness to their sound, similar to Boom (the 90's Richmond, Virginia trio), and at times, Boud Deun (90's Warrenton, Virginia band). After the first song they seemed to loosen up and kept getting hotter as the night progressed. The first set ended hot and the second set picked up where the first set left off. At one point I identified the melody line and bridge to Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" played on guitar - no vocals. This was sandwiched within a long, unrelated jam. The six of us at our table just looked at each other in disbelief, then laughter. Jameson just kept on going - he was very into what he was doing. The second set was just two, maybe three songs - very...long...songs. Occasionally you could hear the Blue Cheer ascending riffs found on their Vincebus Eruptum LP, but none of the free form noise of that LP. So, after a rough beginning, they ended the night leaving me very impressed. We talked with them after the show and found out they were 23 and 24 years of age; following their dream, touring the country. They were heading to Colorado after this eastern leg of their tour, and talked about wanting to break into the Texas audiences. I think any place in Texas that longs for the hard rock sound of mid-70s Texas (Josephus, Hooker, False Prophet) would love these guys.
San Diego, California
When I got back to San Diego on Friday, I had big plans. I wanted to see Chickenbone Slim and The Biscuits on Friday night, Blue Velvet on Saturday night, and Cadillac Wreckers on Sunday afternoon. Well, as it turned out, our plans changed and Nancy and I only got to see Blue Velvet, which we both enjoy. Blue Velvet was playing their last evening of a six-month Saturday night gig at the Caliph, just outside the Hillcrest district of San Diego. So, it was a bit bittersweet since we expected they were going to be a band without a home after Saturday. Now let me first explain their sound. This is not like anything anyone else is doing in San Diego. This is very lounge. Very retro. Very cabaret. They do covers primarily, however, there was one song written by band founder, Kevin Cavanaugh, "Out to Lunch": Covers include the Burt Bacharach songbook, Carpenters, Neil Sedaka, ABBA, Supremes, and even some Joni Mitchell, B52s, Madonna, Bangles, and Amy Winehouse. Also heard were early 60s songs such as "Leader of the Pack" and "My Boyfriend's Back". Songs from musicals like Chicago are also sprinkled in, as well as a few racier tunes. Kevin plays keyboards and sings, Peggy Sue, Normandie Wilson, and Maggie Taylor all sing. The women are decked-out in lots of bling, wigs, gloves and sometimes boas. Each take turns soloing or taking the lead vocals and are quite remarkable, but when they blend in harmony they are heavenly - a good match for the Lennon sisters. They are not only well rehearsed musically, but also have fun choreography. The chatter between songs among themselves and the audience is amusing, and sometimes harmlessly suggestive. They play to the audience and the audience eats it up like manna from heaven. People who come to experience Blue Velvet leave their troubles behind, losing themselves in a world of glamour and glitz, singing along, letting go of inhibitions, and reminiscing about a less complicated world. Saturday night, the band began at 8:30. The place was packed with adoring fans. They took their first break at 10:30. As usual, they ventured out to greet the audience with hugs, handshakes, and lots of authentic smiles of appreciation. They returned at 10:45, videotaped this time, and continued on till about 11:45. At this break they disappeared outside for a few minutes, returning to announce that the bar owner had extended their contract to the end of the year. The audence was overjoyed, as was the band. They continued on to the end of their show at 12:30. A great time was had by all.
Over the past couple weeks other fun stuff has appeared in our mailbox and on our doorstep - all from Subliminal Sounds in Sweden. Two cds: Baby Grandmothers and Parson Sound, both from 60s Sweden. Also two LPs: Madrigal and LSD Underground 12, both from the USA - rare and groundbreaking LPs from 1966. I will have more to tell about these amazing recordings next time around.