San Francisco’s The Avengers were one of the USA’s great punk bands. They not only rocked with intensity and imagination, but through the talents of vocalist Penelope Houston made it clear the California wing of the punk gestalt wasn’t just a boy’s club. And that’s the achievement for which she is most celebrated, but Houston has also worked outside the punk rock paradigm in a solo context. Birdboys, her 1988 debut under her own name is a fine record that’s deserving of far wider appreciation.
The Avengers made some great racket in their original incarnation from ’77-’79. While extant they were responsible for one of the finest of the Dangerhouse singles in the “We Are the One” 3-song EP, but the rest of their fine initial discography appeared post-breakup, a circumstance that helped to keep them fresh on the minds of those attuned to punkish affairs for a good long while after their too brief creative spurt.
Well, that and the band’s rep as openers for the Sex Pistols’ legendary last gig at San Fran’s Winterland. Toss in a production credit by the Pistols’ Steve Jones and the esteem of worthy punk theorist Greil Marcus, and The Avengers shape up as one of the enduring pillars upon which the pre-hardcore American punk experience sits, registering not as a group that was destined for a short existence due to youth, snot, and barely being able to hold it all together, but instead as a fully formed and confident expression of the music’s vast potential. And so much of their sturdiness came right down to Houston’s impressiveness as front-woman.
This is why the band’s reformation in the ‘90s was no great surprise. That decade found Houston and original guitarist Greg Ingraham touring and recording new material with replacement members to a solid response, an activity that’s continued right up to the very present. And while it’s surely cool that Ingraham is a member of the reformed lineup, it’s basically a plain fact that without Houston there would be no reason for The Avengers to exist in the here and now.
With the aid of his trusty trombone, Troy Andrews has built a persona and reputation as Trombone Shorty, a prolific New Orleans virtuosic musician who has played around the world representing his city and its colorful range of music.
Shorty leads the Orleans Avenue band with an electric charm and an heightened musicianship that speaks through his solos and melodic themes alike. This year, he released his 9th studio effort, the funk-fueled Say That To Say This. Out on Verve Forecast Records, Andrews describes the album as “James Brown mixed with The Meters and Neville Brothers, with what I do on top.”
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue are coming to the 9:30 Club on New Year’s Eve on the last of a three-night stint at the club. We have tickets to give away so that you can ring in the new year in New Orleans style.
“The first memory I recall (must have been about age 5 or 6) of vinyl was my parents’ collection. They had a record player and their records stored in an armoire under the TV set in the living room. I remember hearing the Tale of Peter Rabbit and noticed the other records in the collection. I remember being just fascinated looking at the collection for the first time.”
“They had the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Rolling Stones, Carly Simon, The Beach Boys, and few others. They would play those records from time to time and I have such a special connection / vivid memory because I remember right around that time was the first time I felt mesmerized by instruments—I recall looking at the records and watching a classical violinist in a small symphony of sorts on TV. I was so excited. I remember trying to get my mom’s attention and was asking her about it—that’s when I first felt a true connection to music. I felt some unexplained urge that I wanted to play too but didn’t really realize what it was at that age.
The first record I ever bought was a used Nirvana record called Verse Chorus Verse. I bought the record at Rhino Records in Westwood where I worked for a short time before they closed their doors and went out of business.
Tonight, the New Mastersounds guitarist will be performing with a killer cast of local musicians. Expect to see Kyle Roussel on keys, James Singleton on bass, and Jermal Watson on drums.
I had the good fortune to check out Roberts’ performance the first night of his month-long residency at the Maple Leaf Bar. The band was different, he had Eric Vogel on bass and Nigel Hall on keys, but the groove and the licks were unlike most in attendance had heard with the exception of sporadic local performances by the New Mastersounds.
Roberts has a technique that may confound many guitarists. Even though I was up front and center in the intimate Maple Leaf, I was left with the impression after the set that he plays without a pick. I even asked him if the great Snooks Eaglin inspired him (Snooks was another guitarist who left other guitarists confounded.)
What do you get when you take some dirty tequila, vintage vinyl, a southern belle, a bucketful of sin, and douse them atop the Record Parlour in Hollywood, California?
Answer key: Ashlee Williss…and oh, how she’s blossomed.
You may remember her from The Bachelor… how could you forget the infamous rose ceremony serenade that kept her on the tip of tongues for weeks on end? Sweet and sultry, the seductress sang flowery songs of romance into the British Bachelor’s ear more than once over the course of Season 12.
Well, Ashlee’s all grown up and you’ll find her crooning a much sassier tune. On December 15th, her album release party will be hosted by The Record Parlour. Equipped with a new single, the ladies anthem “You Only Want Me When You’re Wasted,” a better, badder Ashlee is damn sure to be kicking up the dirt again.
Complete with ambient decor and a whole lot of lustful attire to round out an already sonically decadent performance, you won’t want to miss this naughty night. If you think she sounded good when broadcast across the nation, try her on vinyl.
Merle Haggard is a man who needs no introduction. His music, however, is best served by a thoughtful entry-point that reflects his emergence as one of country music’s truly singular figures, so the fact that his amazing third LP Swinging Doors has been given a fresh 180gm pressing is stupendous news. As the first LP he recorded with his estimable backing band the Strangers, it’s not the only Haggard record you’ll need, but it does establish the beginnings of a very fruitful period and essays with precision the attributes that make him such a valuable artist.
Along with Buck Owens, Merle Haggard was a principal architect of the Bakersfield Sound, a strain of country music rooted in the ‘50s that broke big in the following decade, providing an alternative to the Nashville Sound that was dominating the C&W charts during the era. Calling it the original Alt-Country will make many folks wince, but it’s not that far off the mark.
For in eschewing the syrupy string sections, overly polite backing singers and general pop slickness of the Nashville Sound, a production-driven style that later morphed into a movement called Countrypolitan, the Bakersfield musicians were retaining the glorious essence of Honky-Tonk (a form derived from the work of Jimmie Rodgers, Western Swing-man Bob Wills, and Hank Williams) that prevailed on the C&W charts during the ‘50s.
Classic Honky-Tonk was exemplified by such major cats as Ernest Tubb, Webb Pierce, Hank Locklin, Lefty Frizzell, and a little later on George Jones, and it was a band music that flourished on the stages of the very clubs that named it. While the early years of the Bakersfield Sound overlap that of Honky-Tonk, by the ‘60s and its national breakout through Owens and Haggard, it was appropriately assessed as a reaction against the pop sensibilities of a city that in 1960 was designated as the USA’s second biggest record producing center.
The rapidly growing festival, which is scheduled for March 21-22, 2013 at Mardi Gras World in New Orleans, will feature headliners the Flaming Lips, David Guetta, Ellie Goulding, Kaskade, Zedd, Chromeo, Explosions in the Sky, Tyler the Creator, Phantogram, Pusha T, The Glitch Mob, Danny Brown, Seth Troxler, and Wavves.
BUKU, now in its third year, is expanding its offerings to include some of today’s most sought-after acts spanning the electronic, hip-hop, rock, pop, and indie genres.
Local talent will also be on the bill. Among the initial announcements are performances by Big Freedia, Generationals, Gravity A, and Big History.
“My interest in vinyl started pretty late. I have always been a huge fan of music and have always explored new artists but I never really cared about the medium with which I listened to the music through. To me it seemed like it was all going to end up on my iPod anyway, so it didn’t really matter; however, when I started learning more about the music I was listening to at the time, artists like DJ Shadow and Four Tet, I realized that the unique sound these producers had came directly from the use of vinyl in their music.”
“As a musician trying to make music on the computer, the practicality of vinyl was something you couldn’t beat. I didn’t have enough money to buy nice studio gear, but I had enough to start a small collection of vinyl records to begin sampling from.
Since then I’ve started looking for records based on their use to me as a producer. The more obscure an album is, the better. Often times all I was looking for was a small portion of music where there might be an instrument alone that I could rip off the recording and manipulate on my computer.