We started the day in front of the fireplace in our pjs reading the New York Times. Our nintey year old neighbor brings the paper up to the door while we’re still sleeping. Peggi read Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich out loud while I cut up some fruit.I read the “Year In Ideas” in the Magazine section and wish I hadn’t. The “Cat Lady Syndrome” piece about the parasite you can get from your cat gave me the creeps.
I put a Charlie Mingus DVD that I bought from Amazon on around noon. We watched the 1964 rehearsals of “So Long Eric” and “Meditations on Integration” which were recorded in Sweden. Mingus’s “Town Hall Concert” with those two songs (only those two songs) on it was one of the first jazz albums I bought and every bit of it is so memorable. It came right after Eric Dolphy died and Mingus changed the name of “Meditations” to “Praying With Eric” for that release. Charlie Mingus is quoted as saying “Eric Dolphy is a saint”. He should know. The “Cornell 1964” cd that was just released by Mingus’s widow has the same tunes on it as well. And now comes this amazing DVD with recordings from three European stops that same year. The music remains so memorable because it is an absolutely beautiful composition performed by incredible players. Watching them (Mingus, Dolphy, Dannie Richmond, Clifford Jordan, Jaki Byard & Johnny Coles) rehearse and perform this music is an incredible treat. Thank god for the Europeans. I might a couple copies of this for Xmas gifts.
We went out to walk but got sidetracked in the backyard. We started a fire out there in our Home Depot chiminea and stood around like a couple of bums eatting peanuts.
We went out to see Rochester’s Chesterfield Kings last night at the German House. They have been together about thirty years or so now. Their original drummer, Doug, just died. We caught a few minutes of the opening band and it was way too loud so we left and had a beer down at Tap & Mallet. We sat in the Road Mask room.
The Kings were great. Greg is a star. I’m not sure what he was singing about but it all sounded good like Iggy or the Dolls or the Cramps. Greg plays harp a lot these days and he must have brought his yellow Newspaper Recycling box to the gig because he kept tossing out handfuls of paper. He crawled around on top of the PA system and worked his way through the crowd to the back of the room and then got up on the bar there and started banging his mic on a Heineken bucket. I took a photo of the floor when the show was over.
We had my mother in law over for dinner tonight. I rode along while Peggi took her back to her place. I laid on the floor in the back of the Element and looked up at the treetops through the sunroof. Peggi was playing a Charlie Mingus cd.
In fact, Neil Young is much better than his band. He reaches for the sky. His band is the gauge by which you judge whether or not he made it. Shea’s in Buffalo is a beautiful concert hall. Relatively small, ornate, great sound and not a bad seat in the house. Neil’s wife Pegi opened the show with Ben Keith on pedal steel and Neil’s bass player, Rick Rosas. She was better than Social Distortion, who opened for Neil in the eighties.
Neil’s acoustic set opened with a beautiful version of “Hank to Hendrix” and a brave version of “A Man Needs A Maid.” Almost as good as the 1971 show. The crowd cheered every time he played harmonica like it was a miracle. And a bunch of idiots started clapping not in time to one song. There was guy sitting in front of us who told us he was thirty and he loved Neil. He said he was going to get his first tattoo when Neil dies even though his mother would hate it. He said he was wearing a four dollar brown leather jacket and Hunter Thompson shades for the event. This guy had the loudest whistle in the world.
We were happy to see Neil Young’s road manager dressed like the devil he played in Greendale. He was doing big paintings on canvas while the band played and he would bring one of them to the front of the stage and put it up on an easel before each song. They usually had the name of the song on them. I saw MX80 do something like this a long time ago.
Not rest and relaxation, rock and roll. We are driving down to John Gilmore’s house in Geneseo and then taking his car to see Neil Young in Buffalo. Neil is playing acoustically and then with Crazy Horse and his wife Pegi is opening the show. I really like the recently released cd with a DVD of his acoustic tour from 1971 at Toronto’s Massey Hall. I saw that tour a few days before that show in Chicago. I hitchhiked up there with my late friend Dave Mahoney. I have seen Neil many times since and he always pushes it. We saw the country tour at the War Memorial and we saw the Rust Never Sleeps tour. And then we saw him at the ice rink in Buffalo just before we started the war with Iraq. I remember a bunch of people down front unfurling a big banner that read, “Fuck Iraq”. The crowd roared. Neil had a peace sign on stage and I don’t remember anyone cheering for that. I especially love his movie, Greendale.
I picture someone having too much draft beer from the “tap” and a cartoon image of a “mallet” pounding on his head. That’s the name of Casey’s new place on Gregory Street where the original McGregor’s was. They needed some artwork for the place so Casey and his partner, Joe, stopped by to see what I had. They picked out some the “Crime Faces” from a few years back and the “Road Masks” that I had hanging in the basement. Casey used to own the Bug Jar and I took some mugshots there. He owns Mex Restaurant and I painted a mural over there. Casey is a patron. I recommend their house brew, “McBanes Bitter.” It’s made by Rohrbachs. The Beer Advocate reviewed the place and said, ” the faces on the walls are very creepy!”
The Horse Lovers were performing across the street at House of Hamas in Rochester. They did a beautiful version of “Moonglow.” That’s Ken Frank from Margaret Explosion on bass. Phil Marshall plays guitar and directs the band. Jim McAvaney plays drums and all three played with Colorblind James Experience.
Billy Bang was back in Rochester last week. He calls this place the sixth borough. He had a new drummer this time but Bang introduced him as someone who had played with him on recordings in the past. They did a beautiful version of KIA MIA one of Bang’s Viet Nam albums and a song that Billy wrote for Sun Ra. The first time we saw Billy Bang was out at the old Red Creek when he was playing violin in Sun Ra’s band. This was somewhere in the seventies.
We have seen Bang so many times over the years. He was in the Bop Shop atrium with Kahill El’zabar and once more with his own group. He has appeared twice at at the Rochester Jazz Fest and we saw him at the old Montage, downtown. Then he performed live with Garth Fagan Dance out at a Greece High School. And then he was at the Water Street last year. He is always fantastic but more so on some nights. He’s best in a small setting when you are right on top of him. He eggs his band on and they try to keep him grounded. On a good night he will just tear the roof off the place. Billy Bang finished his set with a version of Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman.”
I first met Brad Fox in high school. His father had paint by number clown paintings all over the house. Brad’s parents were getting a divorce and they were trying to figure out what was up with their son. They had Brad take a bunch of tests and one of the questions was, “Who is Faust?” “What does that have to do with intelligence?” Brad would ask. I didn’t know who Faust was either and I never found out until I saw F.W. Murnau’s 1926 formerly silent film, Faust, with music by the Willem Breuker. This is a match made in heaven. Willem Breuker Kollektief has been to Rochester at least ten times in the past. Willem can’t travel with the band anymore because of his heath but his band sounded fantastic in the Bop Shop atrium last week.
Their next stop was the Dryden Theater at the George Eastman House where they were performing the score to Faust live. I wasn’t able to make that show so I bought the dvd of the movie from the band. The movie is incredibly rich looking for an old black and white. The set designs are stunning. The short ceilings and small doors frame the actors like a fanciful puppet show. The special effects are dreamlike and artful. This movie is timeless and holds up to anything made today. Willem Breuker’s score covers a lot of ground and is equally timeless. The band is so musically fluent, they are able to turn on a dime and keep up with the devil in the midst of the plague and a metaphysical conflict between good and evil.
Margaret Explosion played a party after the screening of Brian Strine’s film, The Butterfly Knot. It was a pretty cool gig. It’s always good if the band has a good time. Bob Martin was out of town so Jack Schaefer sat in with us on bass clarinet and guitar. The party house was perfectly funky. It’s been around since the fifties and used to be called, “Valley Echo.” We made a note to rent this place for a party. Matt Pfohl, the film’s co-star sat in on drums and rocked the house.
The movie was shot in the Thousand Islands and cuts a deep groove. The soundtrack is in flux while the contracts get ironed out but it is all seventies stuff like Gram Parsons and Emmy Lou Harris doing the Bee Gee’s “To Love Somebody.” Blind Faith and Nick Drake were in there for the screening but may have been dropped by now. John Martyn has a track and his wife, Beverley sets the mood for the pot scene. I guess the ending is in flux too because they passed out questionnaires trolling for endings.
The girl who ran the cash register at Red and White on Park Avenue asked me if I was going to the David Bowie show that night at the War Memorial. I remember feeling guilty that I wasn’t planning on it. It was the first stop on his “Station To Station” tour. The next morning’s paper had a front page story about the felony pot bust that snagged Bowie, Iggy Pop and Rochester’s Chi Wah in a hotel room with the weed. Iggy didn’t play here or anything. I started a job that year as a graphic artist in the Crime Analysis Unit of the Rochester Police Department. My job entailed pulling mug shots for flyers in an effort to match perpetrators who lived in specified areas of the city with the crimes that were occurring in those areas. Bowie’s photo had recently been snatched but the record was still there.
ZiggyStarBust is auctioning that photo now on eBay (Current bid US $2,225.00). He says his sick brother found the photo in the trash at an estate sale of a retired Rochester Police Officer and every penny will go to his brother. He sent the photo to the Smoking Gun first to get a buzz going. Click the photo for a blow up.
My job with the cops lasted one year and and they all lost interest in the project so I was left reading the New Yorker and hanging around. I got so anxious waiting for the day to end during this period that my doctor prescribed valium. I did develop a fascination for mugshots and have painted quite a few over the years.