Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Punkoustica's First Two Shows

Wow! What a fun weekend. Teresa, Angie, Tracy and I played a couple of really unusual shows this weekend. Saturday we performed at the Shipyard in Berkeley - basically a big outdoor art space. The weather changed rapidly on us and we were unprepared for the cooler temperatures. I've never played guitar in cold weather, but I remember guitarists I've worked with complaining about their hands stiffening when they were cold. Well, you guessed it. My hands were so stiff and clumsy that I messed up almost every song. I was really mad at myself.


The good thing is that the audience was very nice. They clapped and danced and had fun and had me pretty much convinced that their entire evening hadn't been ruined due to my lousy playing.

After our set I met up with my Myspace friend Miss Oblivious and her friend Ally and we walked to the liquor store to get something to warm our insides while the next band was setting up. We sat in a little boat that was parked outside the shipyard, sipping our drinks and pretending we were on a pleasure cruise.

I'll fast forward through the rest of the evening: cool girl singer onstage, naked man suspended above the crowd by cellophane, opera singer on roof sings as an intoxicated forklift driver backs up carelessly, nearly killing about 20 audience members, snake dancers, flaming whips, dirty port-a-potties, someone gets trapped inside one of the port-a-potties, drizzle, cop cars arrive, music, drums, bass, Doritos, hotel, snoring...

The first thing we did on Sunday morning was shop for warmer clothes. Once that was taken care of we practiced our newer songs. I dipped my hands in an ice bucket before playing each song to toughen myself up. Not really, but it sounds good doesn't it?

Later we did some thrift store shopping, went to a local swap meet, ate Indian food and visited some of the cool funky shops in Berkeley.

The SF show was at Studio Z, a nice, toasty indoor venue. The sound man took an extra 5 minutes to give us a better sound than we'd had the night before. This helped alot. Our second show was much better than the first.

More cool performances by Binky, The Weegs, Savage Republic, and Skip Arnold.

Punkoustica survived it's first two shows, and now for L.A. Keep an eye on our MySpace profile for show dates.

We're not playing this weekend, but a bunch of cool bands are playing at the second annual Fuck Yeah Fest in Echo Park on Saturday, July 2. Toys That Kill, Mean Reds, Dillinger Four...if you're in town, come check out what the kids are up to!

Friday, June 24, 2005

Punkoustica Goes To S.F.

The usual craziness this week...trying to finish out the school year. This is the last week of class for my students. At the same time, I am trying to set up my own daughter in her new school for fall, which involves providing proof of residency since we're moving to a new district, that's harder than it sounds. Then, Punkoustica rehearsals whenever I can squeeze in a few hours on weeknights. Plus dealing with the remodeling contractors who are not doing what they are supposed to do. I'm about to explode from all the stress and anxiety.

And those of you in the Bay Area will be able to watch me release all of that anxiety and stress this Sat and Sun as part of the How To Destroy The Universe Festival. Click on the highlighted link to get location, time and ticket info. I'm really looking forward to these shows! If you live in the L.A. area, we'll be doing some shows in July, so stay tuned.

I also want to thank everyone for the very nice feedback we've received on Dawn Wirth's interview. It was really sweet that her Dad wrote in.

I'll be back next week with stories from the road. I hope to see you at our shows this weekend!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Women In L.A. Punk Part XII - Dawn Wirth

Dawn and Alice - Photo by Sarah Wirth

I first met Dawn Wirth over 25 years ago through a mutual friend. She was taking photography classes and we soon found out that she was a talented photographer who was enthusiastic about documenting the new scene by taking pictures of the bands. I hadn't seen her since the late 1970's. We were recently reunited thanks to the internet.

Dawn was very involved in supporting the early scene bands. She used her photos to create promo items for the Weirdos and Mumps. In the days before the internet, the only way unsigned bands could get their name out was through fan clubs and flyers.

It is my honor to post a few of her photos, many of which have never been previously published. We wanted to post more, but we were unable to get them in time to run alongside this interview. We hope to be able to post more of her work in the months ahead.

Please click on the Women In Punk thumbnail to read Dawn's interview and see her some of her photos, which feature some of the best known figures in the early L.A. punk scene. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

How To Destroy The Universe

No, it's not the title of George W. Bush's bedside reading. How To Destroy The Universe is the name of a 3 day music/art/performance festival in the Bay Area from June 24 - June 26 in which Punkoustica will take part, along with dozens of artists and acts ranging from a "human body hook suspension" (I have a few candidates in mind for that) to Kira Roessler and Mike Watt's DOS to a rare performance by Savage Republic. Punkoustica (formerly Las Tres) has stripped down and de-petrified our sound and you can hear a sample of our newer material right now. It's raw from the garage...literally. Click on the thumbnail below to download an MP3 of Modern Day Virgin Sacrifice. Rip it, burn it, play it for all your friends.

Stare at your reflection
Looking for perfection
What you're looking for is never seen
The truth that I behold is crystalline

I can tell you now, I can tell you now
That road will get you lost
I can tell you now, I can tell you now
It isn’t worth the cost

You’re indoctrinated
The monster must be sated
And you my little lamb, my little girl
Are ripe to feed the greed of this old world

I can tell you now, I can tell you now
That road will get you lost
I can tell you now, I can tell you now
It isn’t worth the cost
Oh look at you, all sugar and spice
You’re a modern day virgin sacrifice

Punkoustica is on Myspace. Check us out, sign up and become our friend! Myspace is a great place to check out new bands and see naked butts, too.

Here's the flyer from Mobilization for the How To Destroy fest. Click on it to find out ticket prices and lots more info. I hope those of you who live in the Bay Area can make it out to this event.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

A Date With Jack

A nice fellow named Rod Zink recently emailed me a copy of a Castration Squad gig flyer that brought back some memories:

Castration Squad was an L.A based all-female punk band back in the early 1980's. I recall my Canterbury roommate, Shannon, sitting around, brainstorming ideas for the band back in the

late seventies, but it wasn't until the 1980's when her nightmare vision of a militant, death/horror fixated, all-girl band was realized. Shannon was a dark-haired, pale beauty, never leaving the apartment without her "full face" on. Pleasant once described her as a "punk Vivien Leigh." She found her deathly beautiful blonde counterpart in another L.A. punk, Mary Bat-Thing, later to become famous as Dinah Cancer, lead singer of 45 Grave.

Among others, Castration Squad's lineup included Tracy Lea (who was also in Red Cross and appeared as Tanya Hearst in the cult movie Desperate Teenage Lovedolls), Tiffany Kennedy (Cambridge Apostles), Phranc (Nervous Gender, Catholic Discipline), Elissa Bello (Go-Go's) and yours truly. With Shannon as lead singer and Mary as backup, Castration Squad and its avowed mission "to repair men" could have been somewhat intimidating, but it was mostly in the spirit of fun.

Getting back to the gig flyer, Castration Squad, and in particular, Tiffany had an obsession with John F. Kennedy, so much so that the band played a JFK memorial show each year on the anniversary of his assassination. Tiffany wrote a love song to her favorite dead President, entitled "A Date With Jack", which you can listen to here. I'd go anywhere with him...even Dallas!

Very sadly, I heard from friends that Shannon is no longer among the undead. She is one of the fallen comrades to whom I've dedicated my Women in L.A. Punk page. Along with bands like the Slits and the Raincoats, Shannon was ahead of her time and adopted an aggressively feminist punk stance long before anyone had heard of Riot Grrrls. If you want to learn more about female punk musicians of the 70's and 80's from all over the world, a great resource out of Switzerland is Jenny Woolworth's archive.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

The Queen's Quilt

As you might gather from the lack of recent posts, I'm still going crazy with all the stress and activity surrounding my family's impending move from the Eastside to the Westside of L.A. It's only about 17 miles in terms of distance, but those who know Los Angeles will acknowledge that East is East and West is West. I've lived on the Eastside for 46 years, and I only know two people, one bar and one restaurant on the Westside.

It's easy for me to get wrapped up in all the details of our daily lives, worrying about paying the bills, feeling burnt out from working long hours and constantly running errands. Music has always been good therapy for me, so I pulled out some old recordings of my songs to refresh my memory of them and perhaps rearrange them for Punkoustica. I came across a rough demo version of a song I wrote about my own childhood, called "Queen's Quilt," which I'll share with you here. It has much in common with Dolly Parton's "Coat of Many Colors," though I was not trying to do my own version of that song. I have to admit that the song itself is pretty corny, but I've always been partial to corny songs. The quilt could use a trip to the dry cleaners and the song is pretty old and dusty too, but what the heck, I'll share it with you.

this is an audio post - click to play

Queen's Quilt

It was long ago and times were rough just like today
Mom and Daddy didn't have a cent left to their names
Driving through those darkened streets in the hub of industry
They found treasures in the dumpsters while the city was asleep

I watched from the car as Mom and Dad climbed in the bins
Pulling sample books and remnant cloth squares from within
Mama sewed a quilt for me, scavenged cloth fit for a Queen
Brightly colored velvet pieces and a patch of velveteen

The Queen's Quilt is laying on my bed and when I'm feeling bad
It reminds me that things do get better, that I'll find a way

All that winter Mama sewed while Daddy sold the quilts
And by spring the winter's hardship had begun to melt
Driving through those darkened streets in the hub of industry
They found treasures in the dumpsters while the city was asleep

Listening to the words, I began to think what it must have been like for my parents (who are now deceased), struggling to get by when neither of them had regular jobs or a high school education. When times got tough, they scraped by any way they could. Being children of the Depression, they were raised to be thrifty and resourceful and those survival skills served them well many times over the years. In particular, my Mother was very self-reliant and (it seemed to me) she could just as easily patch a hole in a leaking roof as she could prepare a delicious meal out of practically nothing.

Taking the time to think about their lives helped me to place my own worries and stress in perspective (for tonight). Thank you, Mom and Dad.

Saturday, June 04, 2005


That's the name of a new D.I.Y. art/music/lifestyle 'zine that I'm enjoying right now. It's creative, well-written and visually inventive, much more so than glossy magazines with huge budgets. You can find it at Antimarket and at other locations around L.A.

Check it out and support alternative media!

Speaking of Antimarket, Punkoustica may do a little informal instore show next weekend. I'll let you know the details if it pans out.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Hot Tip for 2Nite

Psst! Rudy Bleu and Senior host a weekly dance party at Little Pedro's called La Polla Loca and tonight fatherfucker/rockstar Peaches is going to rock the turntables as a guest DJ. It should be packed, so get there early. Little Pedro's is on 1st street, as you leave Little Tokyo and head toward the bridge, on your left hand side.