The Tell-Tale Hearts on ‘It’s Happening’

August 31st, 2014

Tell-Tale Hearts Peter Meisner, Mike Stax on "It's Happening"During its run from the mid-’80s to early ’90s, Audrey Moorehead’s and Dominic Priore’s cable series “It’s Happening” hearkened back to an earlier era of music television. The show featured clips from Priore’s video library as well as a cavalcade of the era’s garage bands.

“Priore and Moorehead choose the bands, design the Spartan sets, and write and edit the show, which is financed by Priore and grants from various cable companies,” the Los Angeles Times described in a 1990 article. “The equipment and crews are provided at no charge through the companies’ local access departments.

“The most striking element about the 30 low-budget segments that have been produced is their glaring, and oddly endearing, roughness. There are no jump cuts, computer-generated special effects or other MTV slickness.”

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Really, quite a Comeuppance or two!

March 6th, 2014

Dave Fleminger, the Comeuppance; Casbah, Sept. 3, 2011 (Sean McMullen)The Che’Underground’s very own David Fleminger has been granted a flattering profile in the San Diego Troubadour: “The Perpetual Flowering of DAVID FLEMINGER.” It’s a well-deserved tribute, that captures a significant side of Dave’s multifaceted career.  David’s protean musical talent is given richly deserved attention, from with a comprehensive retrospective of his history in both San Diego and the Bay area.  Says David, “I think a lot of the music that really moves me makes some sort of a statement. …it’s more than just an advertisement for a place and a lifestyle.”

Also published by the Troubadour, this last year, is a very fine review for The Comeuppance – David’s project with his wife,  Heather Vorwerck.  The group is already familiar to those, lucky enough to attend the 2010 festivities for the Che reunion shows at San Diego’s Casbah Nightclub.

Check it out!

Che Underground turns five!

February 16th, 2013

birthday balloonsFive years ago today, I posted the first entry to Che Underground: The Blog. I’d been talking to some old friends about a place where we could share sounds and images from our musical youth in San Diego, and this turned out to be the handiest solution.

Soon Rockin’ Dog Dave Ellison created our striking design, and contributors including Ray Brandes, Kristen Tobiason, Paul Kaufman, David Fleminger and so many others enriched the site beyond anything I could have hoped. 

And my, how we grew! Hundreds of stories … Tens of thousands of comments and visitors. This little corner of the Web let so many revisit so much and introduced a whole new audience to the things we created back at the dawn of the ’80s.

The earth has made five solar revolutions since then, and most of us are still here on it. Looking back, I think we’ve moved in good directions, and I’m proud of any part this place played in bringing us back together.

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Gravedigger V from the Bacher Collection

October 28th, 2012

Leighton Koizumi and Chris Gast, Gravedigger V, ca. 1983Befitting their short, colorful career from the summers of 1983 to 1984, souvenirs of the Gravedigger V have been in short supply on Che Underground: The Blog. Now, Tell-Tale Hearts guitarist Eric Bacher steps up with two new additions to the set.

“We just did some ‘fall’ cleaning, and I found a few old pictures,” Eric writes. “The one of Leighton and Chris Gast was given to Denise by Leighton some time in the 80′s, I’m not sure of the provenance of the other.”

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There to Here: Cole Smithey,
Smartest Film Critic in the World

July 22nd, 2012

(In this installment, Che Underground: The Blog catches up with Rockin’ Dogs drummer Cole Smithey about his career at the movies in New York. If you’d like your story told, e-mail!)

Rockin’ Dog turned film critic Cole SmitheyYou recently celebrated your 15th year in New York and 15 years as a film critic. What was your path from drummer with the Rockin’ Dogs to your current role as “the smartest film critic in the world”?

Detail: Rockin’ Dogs on the streetIt was a long and bumpy one, I can assure you. I moved up to San Francisco with the idea of finding a new band to play with, but that just didn’t happen. Having studied acting at SDSU, I got an acting scholarship to Hartnell College in Salinas. So, I spent a year in Salinas living out of my van. I played tympani in a 38-piece symphony orchestra there — doing classical music. I also played drums with the pep band at football games. The drama-department politics at Hartnell were horrendous, but I somehow managed to come out of it with a 4.0 GPA. There’s something to be said for living in your van: You just study all the time.

I moved back to SF and was working for my talent agent — sending myself out on auditions for industrials and commercials — when I picked up an issue of Sight and Soundmagazine. I realized instantly that I wanted to be a film critic.

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There to Here: Cynthia Jaynes Omololu,
Young Adult fiction phenom

July 10th, 2012

(In this installment, Che Underground: The Blog talks to San Diego scene documentarian Cynthia Jaynes Omololu about her career in young-adult fiction. If you’d like your story told, e-mail!)

Cynthia Jaynes Omololu (Photo Robin Mellom 2-24-11)With the publication of Dirty Little Secrets and the recent release of the first installment of your new Transcendence series, C.J. Omololu is developing a growing reputation as an author of fiction for young adults. How did you get from the San Diego scene of our youth to a writing career in San Francisco?

Aw, thanks, Matthew. I’ll take that kind of reputation. It actually makes a lot of sense – I have to write from the perspective of a 16 or 17 year old and a lot of people say I’m emotionally stunted at around that age. Okay, not totally true, but I started hanging around the San Diego scene at about that age, and it was a pretty influential time for me. We’d moved to Del Mar from Poway in the summer between 9th and 10th grade and I felt like I never fit in there – we were renting an apartment in the land of multimillion dollar beach houses and honestly, I couldn’t compete.

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There to Here: Paul Kaufman,
University of Massachusetts Medical School

July 1st, 2012

(In this installment, Che Underground: The Blog talks to the original drummer of Manual Scan and co-founder of Lemons Are Yellow about his memories of the San Diego scene and his far-ranging career in biochemistry. If you’d like your story told, e-mail!)

Paul Kaufman, 2012We actually met right after you’d left San Diego to study at UC Berkeley, then for your doctorate at MIT. But you stayed in close touch with all of us who were still in America’s Finest City. What was it like coming back for short visits and seeing the scene change?

I have very vivid memories coming back during quarter breaks and other holidays during my first year away, 1982-3. The most shocking thing was that every time I came back, the Answers song list was totally different, even within a couple of months! At the same time, the Mod scene became incredibly huge, and the punk scene seemed to go from an artistic, underground scene to a place laced with way too much testosterone. So I did feel like I was missing a lot, a lot was indeed happening, and not being there day-to-day probably accentuated that feeling. I stayed in San Diego during that amazing summer of ’83, so I did get to see some of the best parts first hand. (cue “Nowhere”).

And then when I came back summer of ’84, so much more had changed. No more Answers. No more Noise 292. I think that summer, the Morlocks emerged (pun intended) at a party at Paul Allen’s house. I remember I had to stand back, they were so loud, and I was accustomed to some pretty loud stuff back then! They played “Voices Green and Purple,” it was intense. And before long, everyone was up in San Francisco, just across from me in Berkeley, so I got to see a bit of that era before I left for Boston in late ‘86.

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Support Gary Heffern!

June 29th, 2012

Still from Gary Heffern's "Hand of the Devil" videoSan Diego music legend and former Penetrators front man Gary Heffern has met with misadventure, and he needs our financial help to set things straight.

Heffern, now living in Finland, in May suffered a burst appendix that forced him to cancel a July Penetrators reunion in San Diego and postponed his work on a new CD, not to mention his day job. With bills coming due, Gary is reaching out to his network for support.

Here are a couple of opportunities to help this San Diego legend in his hour of need:

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There to Here: Todd Lahman,
Sweeney Todd’s Barber Shop

June 23rd, 2012

(In this installment, Che Underground: The Blog examines a Wallflower’s journey to hair theater. If you’d like your story told, e-mail!)

Sweeney Todd's Barber Shop front window (collection Todd Lahman)The last time I saw you was around 1985, when you were playing guitar with San Diego’s original Wallflowers. How did you get from rock-‘n’-roll in Poway, Calif., to ownership of one of LA’s best-known barber shops, Sweeney Todd’s?

Sweeney Todd's Barber Shop interior (collection Todd Lahman)Hmmmm … I’m not sure I can draw any correlation between my experience in the Wallflowers and my career in the tonsorial arts except to say that I probably cut hair a lot better than I played guitar! But seriously, I guess if there was anything to compare, it would have to be that like the guitar you’re constantly honing your chops (pun intended!) There’s always some new technique or some new flourish to add to your bag of tricks if you keep your eyes and ears open.

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Vote for the Comeuppance for SDMA

June 20th, 2012

(Paul Kaufman solicits support for a new project by Che Underground’s own.)

Dave Fleminger, the Comeuppance; Lestat's, July 30, 2010 (Kymri Wilt)San Diego has embraced its prodigal musicians as they return after decades. Consider the Comeuppance, a “chamber pop” combo led by David Fleminger (guitar, vocals) and Heather Vorwerck (cello).

Heather Vorwerck, the Comeuppance; Lestat's, July 30, 2010 (Kymri Wilt)This ensemble has a distinctive sound influenced by diverse jazz, country and classical traditions, all the while staying true to the high standards of songwriting that Che Underground readers know to expect from all of Dave’s endeavors.

Readers of this blog will recall that the Comeuppance relocated last spring to San Diego. The move marked a homecoming for David after 25 years in San Francisco; it’s a return to the city where he created so many memories as the creative force of bands like the Answers and the Mirrors as well as a founding member of a wide array of musical notables from Social Spit to Manual Scan.

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