Archive for the ‘Artifacts’ Category

From Spain, with love

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

(From across the Atlantic, here’s a graphical gift to celebrate the 30-year San Diego reunions of the Unknowns and the Crawdaddys. Ray Brandes sets the scene.)

Flyer: Crawdaddys/Unknowns; Casbah, Sept. 2-3, 2011 (Marc Argenter)This beautiful poster is a gift from artist Marc Argenter to the Che Underground. Marc, who lives in Barcelona, Spain, is also an accomplished musician and has played guitar and recorded with bands such as the Flashback Five and Els Trons for more than 20 years.

Marc jumped at the chance to design a poster for a show featuring the Crawdaddys, whom he first heard at the tender age of 16. He is well known in Spain as a graphic designer, and has an impressive portfolio of work, some of which can be seen here: http://argenter.blogspot.com/

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Steve Epeneter at Studio 517

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Detail: Steve Epeneter; 517 4th Avenue (Harold Gee)San Diego music veteran Harold Gee continues the painstaking process of developing precious negatives from the glory days of the San Diego underground scene, then digitizing them for his Flickr set.

Here’s a new one that captures the essence of a larger-than-life figure from that era: the late Steve Epeneter on stage at Studio 517, the club he managed and the inspiration for the Wallflowers’ classic “Paradise on 4th Avenue.”

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Che Underground meets Sunset Strip

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

(Sidewalk scenes and black limousines: On July 30, Che Underground presents Sounds of the Sunset Strip at Lestat’s Coffee Shop, featuring the Sidewalk Scene, the Ciros, Wendy Bailey & True Stories, and James Ruelas. Show organizer and Ciros reed player Lou Damian reflects on how Los Angeles’ sound of the ’60s influenced so many San Diegans who came of age 15 years later.)

Sunset Strip detailThe crazy thing about this July 30 show is that we relate to this music from the Sunset Strip of the mid- to late ’60s as our music, as the music we grew up with. But in actuality, we were just tots or infants when it was first published. There’s something about this music that stays within our fabric even today. When I hear a Byrds song or a Buffalo Springfield song, I know that I heard it as a young man on the radio. I know I heard that song when I was a year or two old. And it’s just another part of who I am.

The garage rock, psych rock, and blues and folk rock of that era is an important contribution to American music and the West Coast sound. This is what we always championed as our West Coast identity … in the so-called “Che Underground.”

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Elvis Christ at the Che Cafe!

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

(Drummer and rabble-rouser Jack Gamboa recalls a memorable performance at our namesake venue.)

Elvis Christ (collection Jack Gamboa)The Che Cafe was an island of freaky, funky freedom in the otherwise cold, institutional-strength rigidity of the mostly cement UC campus. They used to serve a bowl of brown rice and pinto beans with a giant glass of iced tea for less than two dollars. I survived on that chow when I was an art student. I also flirted with the hippie-honeys who worked there and smoked a lot of weed out back.

I played drums for Elvis Christ in those days, and it seems like half our gigs took place at the Che. We also used to practice there, and when Isabelle Tihanyi shot photos of us naked for a Guardian interview (Vol.60 #38), it happened there.

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The Tell-Tale Hearts: From the vaults

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

(Ray Brandes shares a long-lost track from his formative San Diego band, created with some production wizardry from Unknowns sonic prodigy Mark Neill.)

The Tell-Tale Hearts group shotTowards the end of 1986, as the Tell-Tale Hearts were heading toward an inevitable break-up, we headed back into Mark Neill’s Swinging Studios in Dulzura, Calif., to cut what would be the band’s final recordings with its first edition. Neill had produced the band’s highly acclaimed six-song EP earlier that year, and we hoped we might be able once again to pick up a little of his studio magic.

The band’s line-up included Mike Stax; Bill Calhoun; David Klowden; Peter Miesner (who had taken over guitar duties from Eric Bacher); and myself. Three songs were recorded: The Scorpions’ “Too Many Lovers”; “Promise” (Brandes); and “Nothing You Can Do” (Brandes). The first two were released as a single on Australia’s Cavern 7 label the following year, but “Nothing You Can Do” stayed in the can. (Bart Mendoza’s Sound Affects magazine included the song on a giveaway cassette with one of its issues.)

I recently discovered a rough mix cassette recording of “Nothing You Can Do” and rescued it with a little help from Audacity. I hadn’t heard the song in more than 20 years. Listening to the recording brought back vivid memories of the sessions, which were held on a rainy Saturday in November, 1986.

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Crawdaddys/Unknowns Labor Day gigs:
Buy your tickets now!

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Casbah logoWhat could be hotter than the triumphant return after 30 years of two famed San Diego bands? The tickets to the event, which just went on sale on the Casbah Web site!

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Backstage, West Coast Gnurl Music Festival

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

While we’re in a Buffalo Springfield frame of mind: San Diego music stalwart, songwriter and radio personality Gary Ra’chac has generously shared backstage photos of Poco at the West Coast Gnurl Music Festival, October 12, 1969.

This event, which drew more than 10,000 people to Balboa Stadium, also featured Country Joe and the Fish, San Diego’s own Framework, Merryweather, and Chicago.

Gary describes the back story on the photos: “Gary Ra’chac (yeah, that’s me!?!) with the great Richie Furay (and what appears to be drummer George Grantham and Gram Parsons standing directly in back of us.

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Harold Gee expands his archives

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Happily for anyone who’s interested in San Diego underground culture of the ’80s or insightful photography of any stripe, San Diego expat Harold Gee wrote to inform me he’s warming up the scanner to add more images to his definitive Flickr set.

One of the great things about Harold’s collection is all the comments he’s amassed over the years from peers who’ve recognized themselves and their friends. Hence, he’s starting with this group shot from March 1985 and hoping that the folks in the photo will help set the scene.

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Recovering Mondo Vanilli

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Mondo Vanilli "IOU Babe" coverA lost artifact from the heady cyberdaze of the 1990s Bay area emerges two decades later. After being hidden away since before the turn of the millenium, the album “I.O.U. Babe” by Mondo Vanilli (a k a M.V., Inc) has been officially released, and after being initially offered for free on Bandcamp, downloads of ‘IOU Babe’ have exceeded the site’s limit for free downloads. A conventional CD version of the album (with bonus tracks) will be released soon.

Download Mondo Vanilli’s “IOU Babe” album (free download limit exceeded, it’s now 50 cents to download but still free to listen/stream ) and view remix videos by Link C!

Hear Mondo Vanilli’s “IOU Babe” album for free on Soundcloud!

Quick history: A few years after a brief collaboration as the Merry Tweeksters in the mid-‘80s, cultural visionary R.U. Sirius (of Mondo 2000 fame) and Che Underground expatriate Dave Fleminger reunited to begin work on creating the world’s greatest cyber-band. Soon thereafter R.U. invited alien/artist Sim1 3Arm to join the mix, and Sim1′s boundary-pushing performance experience helped turn MV into a sirius triple-threat.

Says Fleminger, “At that point, I had literally no computer experience, and knew nothing of the music RU was referring to as a stylistic jumping-off point, but his ideas were quite inspiring to me and he said, ‘You’ll figure it out’ … so that was enough encouragement for me to give it a try.

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Hector Peñalosa joins Gary Ra’chac
on ‘Vince Martell Rocks America’

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Gary Ra’chac is a San Diego institution in his own right: a native of the city, witness to multiple generations of San Diego music; friend of San Diego legends from Lester Bangs to Ray Brandes; veteran employee of the late, lamented Tasha’s Music City; currently singer-songwriter and radio personality.

Gary has recently been producer of “Vince Martell Rocks America,” featuring the Vanilla Fudge guitarist and hosted by WNJC 1360 AM, New York.

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