Last week’s photographic contribution from Tell-Tale Hearts guitarist Eric Bacher of the band and audience at Greenwich Village West, ca. 1984 — salvaged from a vintage contact sheet — omitted some great shots of the band, including a grainy image of keyboardist/harmonica player Bill Calhoun.
Posts Tagged ‘Mike Stax’
According to Eric, the Hearts played this underground lair only twice. The photos, lifted from an old contact sheet, of course include Eric as well as Tell-Tale Hearts vocalist Ray Brandes, drummer David Klowden and bassist Mike Stax. (Keyboardist Bill Calhoun was not captured by the lens that night.)
(Gravedigger Five co-founder John Hanrattie recounts his side of the renowned San Diego garage bandâ€™s short but eventful history.)
I was 17 when I first played guitar for an audience. I was working as a roadie for a San Diego band called N/E One. They were a very good cover band that would occasionally write one of their own songs and include it in their set. They built up a loyal following among San Diego teenagers and started playing high-school dances and at a local â€œunder-21â€ night club called Headquarters.
They started inviting me on stage to join them in covering the Rolling Stonesâ€™ take on Bobby Troupâ€™s â€œRoute 66.â€ I was using a six-string Rickenbacker and playing rhythm guitar with Rob Glickman, the lead guitarist. I had been taking classical guitar lessons, but I really wanted to play rock â€˜nâ€™ roll. I switched teachers to someone who could teach me Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly licks. It was a long process, and I learned some chords, but my skills were limited.
During my senior year in high school, the ASB started booking bands to play in the quad during Friday lunch. They eventually got around to inviting N/E One to play, and I joined them on stage for their set. Afterward, several people approached me, asking if I wanted to start a band. I was flattered, but I held out, hoping to find people who wanted to play the same kind of music I loved. I refused to have anything to do with playing Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin covers. I wanted to play British Invasion beat and 1960s garage music.
(Ray Brandes shares a long-lost track from his formative San Diego band, created with some production wizardry from Unknowns sonic prodigy Mark Neill.)
Towards the end of 1986, as the Tell-Tale Hearts were heading toward an inevitable break-up, we headed back into Mark Neillâ€™s Swinging Studios in Dulzura, Calif., to cut what would be the bandâ€™s final recordings with its first edition. Neill had produced the bandâ€™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 bandâ€™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 Scorpionsâ€™ â€œToo Many Loversâ€; â€œPromiseâ€ (Brandes); and â€œNothing You Can Doâ€ (Brandes). The first two were released as a single on Australiaâ€™s Cavern 7 label the following year, but â€œNothing You Can Doâ€ stayed in the can. (Bart Mendozaâ€™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 â€œNothing You Can Doâ€ and rescued it with a little help from Audacity. I hadnâ€™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.
(Bart Mendoza invites the gang to watch Reelin’ in the Years’ new documentary and talk to panelists Mike Stax and David Peck.)
On Jan. 22, 2011, at 2 p.m., The Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, Calif., will host a special exclusive advance look at Pretty Things: Midnight To Six 1965-1970, an upcoming film documentary from San Diego’s Reelin’ in the Years Productions, part of its British Invasion series. Admission to the museum includes the screening ($7; $5 for students, seniors and museum members).
(Ray Brandes puts out a call for swinging singles.)
Later this month, Mike Staxâ€™s Ugly Things Records will release a celebrated local recording, the Nashville Ramblers’ â€œThe Trains.â€ If one were to rank the best recordings ever to be made by San Diegans, this one would no doubt place in the Top 10.
What is your favorite San Diego recording and what is your personal connection to it? (Feel free to consider artists from San Diego who moved or recorded elsewhere.)
â€” Ray Brandes
(Ray Brandes alerts us to the long-overdue release of “The Trains,” with attendant parties in San Diego and LA.)
It is true that good things come to those who wait. The Nashville Ramblersâ€™ song â€œThe Trains,â€ which Steven Van Zandt once called â€œone of the most unspeakably gorgeous instances of romantic yearning disguised as a pop song,â€ will finally, after 25 years, get its own release.
Mike Staxâ€™s Ugly Things Records will release â€œThe Trainsâ€ at a special record release party on Friday, Jan. 21, at the Til-Two Club at 4746 El Cajon Blvd. in San Diego.
(Ray Brandes reopens the case of People vs. the Che Underground.)
Thursday morning, during the last week of August, 1985, I arrived at work at 4:00 a.m. to begin my shift collecting and baling the cardboard boxes left scattered on the floor of the Food Basket on Washington Street. As I donned my apron, the hoots and catcalls began. â€Hey, Hollywood!â€ shouted one of the night-crew guys as he leaned back in the seat of the forklift, a smug look on his face. In one hand he held a can of New Coke; in the other was the latest copy of People, emblazoned with the headline, â€œMadonna Weds Sean.â€
A few weeks earlier, my bandmates and I had made the trek to Los Angeles and endured a several hours-long photo shoot at the Cavern, music maven and cult impresario Greg Shawâ€™s modest live-music club located in an alley off Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood. The article, we had been told, would put Bomp! Records on the map and catapult the Tell-Tale Hearts to stardom. This would be my ticket to fame and fortune, I believed. I would quit my job bagging groceries and baling cardboard, take a few semesters off from college, and enjoy the good life.
(Rolf “Ray” Rieben of Feathered Apple Records describes how the San Diego underground reached Basel, Switzerland, and shares his cache of memorabilia from the Che Cafe and other points southwest. Stay tuned for much more of Ray’s trove from the Tell-Tale Hearts, Crawdaddys, Howling Men and more!)
I was working as a record salesman in Switzerland when the first Crawdaddys LP (“Crawdaddy Express”) on the German Line label had hit the market. Most of the Bomp! catalog was licensed to Line Records from Germany. Line Records had the best possible distribution, since because they were connected to a major label. They’ve helped to make The Crawdaddys and some of the other bands from Greg Shaw’s Bomp label famous over here in Europe.
“Crawdaddy Express” rates as the first modern ’60s garage LP ever made (after probably The Flamin’ Groovies). It was first advertised on the back cover of the July 1979 issue of Goldmine magazine. The sound was very British: wild raving rnb like the early Kinks, Downliners Sect, or the The Pretty Things, but undoubtedly influenced by Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and the likes. There’s even a few cool northern soul ballads featured on both of their LPs, too. These four fine young lads from San Diego knew what they were doing, they had the right spirits, and they could deliver in authentic ca. ’64 – ’65 style, too. It was exactly the type of brand-new LP that I was hoping for.
Here are a few of the incredible musicians who have spent time behind a drum kit with Manual Scan or the Shambles over the past 30-plus years. Not pictured: Paul Brewin, Morgan Young, Terry Moore, Rob Wilson, Trace Smith, Brad Kiser. … There’s a future post there.
1) “I was a Shambles drummer” pin. People have sat in with the band for one song to obtain one of these.