Friday, July 27, 2007

Can't Stop the Music

And it's back to Little Radio, solo this week, I go...

Actually, I got to do a great interview with Dappled Cities, a wonderfully quirky indie pop band from Sydney, but the recording got screwed up. The band downstairs was just too damn loud!

So I played 'em instead. Along with this stuff:

Little Radio Playlist

La Pollera Collera - Carmen Rivero y Su Conjunto Tropical
Standing on the Corner - Ruth Brown
I Was Made To Love Her - Stevie Wonder
Lady Don't Tek No - Latyrx
So Far To Go - J. Dilla feat. Common & D'Angelo
Lost to the Lonesome - Pela
Under the Knife - Eulogies
Could I Be Right - On the Speakers
I'll Write the Song, You Sing For Me - Irving
Leaves In The River - Sea Wolf
The Grand Tour - George Jones
No Depression - Uncle Tupelo
Unsatisfied - The Replacements
Tar Moochers - Throwing Muses
Give Me Back My Man - The B-52's
Are You Ten Years Ago - Tegan & Sara
An End Has A Start - The Editors
A Sun A Sound - Great Northern
Skin Tight - The Tamlins
Woman of the Ghetto - Marlena Shaw
Express Yourself - Byron Lee & the Dragonaires
Ain't No Sunshine - Jimmy Lindsay
Jesus Is Just Alright - The Doobie Brothers
Gloom Junky - The Verlaines
Holy Chord - Dappled Cities
All You Pretty Girls - XTC
Electric Lash - The Church
Perfect Skin - Lloyd Cole & the Commotions
What I Don't Know About You - You Am I

And if you want to listen to it yourself, download it here. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Adios, Mi Abuelito ~

These are my parents on their wedding day. On the left is my grandmother, and on the dapper looking gentleman on the right is my grandfather, Ramon.

Ramon was born in Spain, outside of Barcelona in the Catalunya region. The impending Spanish civil war sent him on a boat to Colombia with his sisters and mother (people I never knew). He soon met my grandmother and they proceeded to have a whole bunch of kids and a cattle farm, until civil unrest led to the destruction of that farm and sent them all to the city of Cali. My Mom married my Dad - a gringo! (as you can tell from the picture) and moved to California, where I have always lived in some city or another.

I'm sure there is much much more to this story, but the fragments keep trickling in...

When I was growing up, I didn't see my Colombian grandparents all that much as, well, they lived in Colombia. We did visit a few times, and I always remember my grandfather as a silly (in a good way!) man. He took us to the bullfights and made up kooky names for things. He used to hold cicadas by the wings and make them "sing." (I never knew one could play the cicada.) He knew all sorts of jokes and songs that he'd entertain everyone with. He talked to us all the time, even though he spoke a language we didn't really understand and couldn't speak... but we pretty much got it.

In the early 90's, most of my Colombian relatives relocated to Ephrata, Pennsylvania. Amish country. I went to visit one summer and stayed there for about 6 weeks. Every day, my grandfather would come to my aunt's house where I was staying, and walk me to my grandparent's house for lunch. He walked very fast, as do I, so we'd usually zip across this tiny town doing random errands along the way. He would talk to everyone, in Spanish, and they all seemed to really like this eccentric old man and always seemed to know what he was there for. "Sure, Ramon, I can mail this for you." "Yes, it's a lovely day, Ramon." "So this is your granddaughter, Ramon?"

I remember one time, my grandfather asked me to drive him somewhere. (All my relatives like to have me drive because they seem to think California drivers are better.) I wound up taking him down a rural road to a farm, where an Amish family came out to greet him. He jumped out of the car and started chasing baby chicks around. I looked a little terrified and the woman of the house laughed, "It's ok, he always does this. He likes to play with the chickens before he gets his eggs." "Oh," I replied, "is that why we're here? Is that ok?" "We're farmers, we sell our produce. Ramon says we have the best eggs in the area."

Eventually my grandfather began to show his age. A bout of colon cancer left him weak, and then the Alzheimer's kicked in. The last time he saw my mother, he didn't know who she was, and he was speaking gibberish more often than not.

Don Ramon died on Tuesday morning, July 24th. He was 96 years old. I've been lucky to have a life with all 4 grandparents and even one great grandmother, and I guess that means I'll be around for a while. Only in recent years have they all started to pass away. Ramon y Manuela had been married over 70 years, my American grandparents were married 66, and my parents are heading into their 40th. It was a different time, for sure.

But for all the life my grandfather, Don Ramon, lived, and the little time I got to spend with him, I will always remember that he loved it all. He was a funny, friendly man whom everyone loved whether they spoke his language or not. Because they all understood something he always had - a purely genuine smile and great laugh.

Dios los bendiga. Suenen con los angeles.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

That's What Friends Are For

My pal, Jason Moore (we like to call him J-Mo) was my special guest on Little Radio recently, as he knows more about music than I will forget in my lifetime. And he's in this kick ass band called The High Society, which is pure old school rock and roll, replete with dirty denim, glitter, beards and lotsa cigarettes. You should check 'em out sometime.

Anyway, I just let Jason take over for the night so he could provide the LR crowd with the evening grooves for their tokin' pleasure. And here's what got played:

Little Radio Playlist

Los Angeles I'm Yours - The Decemberists
Plasticities - Andrew Bird
The Great Salt Lake - Band of Horses
Feelin' Alright - West Coast Revival
NYC 73 - The High Society
Don't Put No Headstones On My Grave - Charlie Rich
Goin' Back to LA - Johnny Otis
Country Roads - Merry Clayton
Before Your Life Is Too Far Gone - Earlston Ford
I Get By - Stealers Wheel
All The Way - Kiss
True Love Pt. 2 - X
Neighborhood - Sugar & Gold
Let's Take It To The Stage - Funkadelic
Hare Krishna - Ruth Copeland
New Speedway Boogie - Grateful Dead
Caledonia Red - The High Society
Cherry Oh Baby - The Rolling Stones
Three Little Birds - Bob Marley
Brave Awakening - Terry Reid
Let It Grow - Derek & the Dominoes
What Can You Get Outside That You Can't Get At Home - JB Hutto & the Hawks
Stop - Royal Trux
You're In My Heart - Rod Stewart
Hard Workin' Man - The High Society

Download it here when Little Radio gets around to posting it!

Monday, July 16, 2007

It's A Brand New Day

I'm back from vacation. It was wonderful. I was pretty unplugged the whole time, and then towards the end, my cell phone was disconnected. No, no, I'm not that much of a slacker. I WORK for the cell phone company that disconnected me! Sadly, there are one too many morons working in that department right now. Point is, I was fairly communication-free for a while, and it was grand.

So once I plugged back in, I learned that Internet radio will survive! We knew it would, but it tok a lot of voices to make it happen. Here's the scoop as stolen from the Little Radio website:

SoundExchange's Jon Simson promised Congress that his organization, which collects all the future and retroactive payments made by webcasters, will not enforce the rate increase as long as a new deal is in the works between SoundExchange and the webcasters involved in the Copyright Royalty Board hearing. The per-channel minimums are also removed from the discussion, they would have easily shut down companies like Pandora and Live365. And the per-station minimum was also capped at $50,000 a year. This is fantastic news.

According to Wired Magazine's blog Listening Post, Pandora founder Tim Westergren's said, "No one thought those per station fees were remotely rational. It only makes sense that they're being taken off the table." And remember the Copyright Royalty Board? They set those ridiculous fees and got the government involved in this whole process without even taking a meeting with webcasters. Thankfully, they've been left out of the entire process from here on out. SoundExchange and webcasters will now negotiate a new royalty rate with Congress overseeing the whole process.

Isn't that rad? I'm so glad. And soon, I'll tell you about some of the things I saw last week. Like the Decemberists. Yay!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

I'm heading off to my beloved Bay Area for a week of birthday rest and relaxation. (Read: eating amazing food and drinking lots of booze.) So I won't be doing my radio show on Thursday the 12th, but here's the playlist for Thursday the 5th!

Little Radio Playlist

Bliss In Concrete - Pelican
(Pardon Me) I've Got Someone to Kill - Johnny Paycheck
Locust - The Drones
When the Night Falls - The Eyes
How Does It Feel to Feel - The Creation
Expressway to Your Heart - Amen Corner
You Did Me Wrong (You Used Me For A Good Thing) - Priscilla Price
Do It Right - he Three Tops featuring Phyllis Dillon
Younger Yesterday - The Polyphonic Spree
Lily and Parrots - Sun Kil Moon
Shy Town - Lois
My Surrender - Lou Barlow as Sentridoh
Pop Song - David Kilgour
Love In A Trashcan - The Raveonettes
Everything (That's Mine) - The Motion
I Can Only Give You Everything - Van Morrison
Afro Boogie - Herbie Hancock
Grow Your Own - The Small Faces
I Know It's Wrong - All Smiles
Simple X - Andrew Bird
Golden Ocean - 50 Foot Wave
Interstate 5 - The Wedding Present
Ring Finger - RJD2
Women's Liberation - Singing Principal
Mambo Sun - T.Rex
Heartbeat - Gloria Jones
Bert's Apple Crumble - The Quik
Only In Your Mind - Everest
Acorns & Orioles - Guided By Voices
Raising the Sparks - The Akron Family
A Delicate Sense of Balance - Pelican

And guess what? The show is available for you to download here. Will wonders never cease?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Long and Winding Post

On Tuesday night, I got a call from my friend Kara. She books the instore performances at Amoeba, so you can guess correctly that she is one very busy lady. We'd been trying to get together for a while, but the timing never worked out. I was very surprised to hear from her, especially considering that she was instrumental to one of the most talked about shows in town: the Paul McCartney free performance the next evening.

She got down to business: "Can you get out of work tomorrow? I'd love to have your help!" Um, yea... no problem. No brainer!

I showed up at Amoeba at noon on the day of the event (Wednesday 6/27, for those keeping track). I set about to work - following Kara around. Actually, I was meeting people in Paul McCartney's camp who I'd need to follow up with during the course of the day. He had quite a team, as you can imagine. He had this very tall, amusing Scottish guy as the head of his security, and a couple other guys setting up the other aspects: the VIP room (formerly known as the Jazz Room), the green room (they brought their own furniture and drapery) the stage setup, the store setup, the guest/VIP list & laminates... It was crazy. And all of this was being done while the store was open.

At 12:30, the people who had been camped alongside the building since MONDAY (some had gone there simply because they heard a rumor Paul might be playing) were at long last given their wristbands for admittance that night. There were lots of happy whoops and yells, as people had come from places all over the US (and the Globe - Japan represents!) and their wait was finally rewarded with something concrete. Kara said to me later, "They have a real community going out there. On Monday night, they got all Deadwood and started numbering each other's hands and stuff so they could keep track of who got there and when."

Then one of the cashiers poked his head into the back office and said, "Um, Cybill Shepherd is here and wants to talk to a manager." Kara said, "Are you kidding?" Nope. Kara and Karen (one of the owners) went to break the news to her that they couldn't get her in. But she got pissy and is actually quite Amazonian, so Karen gave in. I was instructed to go change the guestlist a little. Luckily for Cybill, a couple people had dropped out.

At 4pm, the store closed. Security made a sweep to clear out any customers trying to stash themselves under racks or in freight elevators (rumors I heard) so that sound check could start. Adrienne, who was also assisting Kara, and I went into the VIP area to find out who was handling who. We were told we would most likely have to help with the VIPs. "Let's go to the loading dock and check out what's going on, " she suggested.

That block of Cahuenga Blvd was a worse than a nightmare that day. Directly across the street from Amoeba is the CNN building, where Paris Hilton was arriving to do her post jail interview with Larry King. The entire sidewalk was packed with photographers. On the Amoeba side of the street were mainly rabid Paul McCartney fans and some photographers, waiting for his limo to arrive. Just as Adrienne and I came out, exactly that happened. The limo pulled into the entrance of the loading dock, and Paul McCartney stepped out and threw his arms wide. "Hello!" he shouted to the crowd, and everybody started screaming. (People in the store could hear it too.) He hugged a couple of fans, and then was escorted up the loading dock ramp into the Jazz Room. He walked in, wearing brown board shorts, a loose white shirt over a white t-shirt and flip flops, and said, "Alright - now let's shoplift!"

Adrienne and I were setting up the lines outside for the press and guestlist (contest winners, Amoeba staff, label people) and running around taking care of little things when the sound check started. Amoeba staff had been told to go about their business as the band didn't want to be too disruptive and needed to practice, but that isn't exactly what happened. Many of the VIPs had been brought in about midway through the sound check, and were standing in front of the stage clapping and cheering. One of Paul's managers said to me, "The sound check is often the best part - they have a lot of fun." There was some goofing around, but it was insane to suddenly hear Paul riff with "The Long and Winding Road" on the piano, a song I'd heard so many times, and to have him stop and say, "That good?"

People outside were climbing up onto the windows, trying to take pictures through the glass. It was about 80 degrees out there, and they were standing on the sidewalk off Sunset Blvd, so the heat was intense. Finally the sound check ended, and we had to clear the floor so we could get ready to let people in. I got on the intercom and started making the announcement: "Anyone with a gold, silver, or pink laminate... please move to the left side of the store. Any press or label people, please move to the right side. The center of the store has been designated for the fans, specifically to the encampment that has been waiting for this moment for 3 days." Yet no one would move. My announcements continued getting snottier and snottier: "If you don't move to the right side of the store, we cannot let in the audience and start the show. If you are having difficulty moving the the right side of the store, we have big security guards who can help you get there. It is on your right, the right side of the store." We still had to physically move about a third of these people, who threw lots of attitude, but finally moved.

It was during this time that I had another celebrity sighting - Jennifer Love Hewitt. I can't stand Jennifer Love Hewitt. I was moving people to their proper places and this girl was making goo-goo eyes at me while snuggling into her boyfriend's arm, clinging to him. That was Jennifer Love Hewitt. I asked them what kind of passes they had and she weakly held up a little wrist to show me her wristband, so I walked them to the VIP area, and I swear to God, she was making cutesy eyes at me the whole time. I seriously think she might have been on ecstasy, it was that weird.

Finally, time to let the crowd in... It was done in groups, as we were being very heavily monitored by the fire marshal, who was there with about 5 officers. When the first group of fans made it in, the entire store burst out into cheers and applause, as these sweaty, sunburned fans had more than earned their place in the front row. There was some chaos during load in, but after an hour and a half (a half hour late due to the assholes who wouldn't move after the sound check), we had everybody in.

There were definitely people trying to sneak in. I was told of outrageous monetary offers the people waiting in line were hearing ($10,000 for a wristband?), as well as all the begging and crying. Of the many notes that got passed through the doors, one insisted that a woman dying of cancer was attending, and could her boyfriend come with her as they will never have this opportunity again? The note was passed up by the supposed boyfriend, and we didn't know who the sick woman was. All these notes were addressed to Paul. An older couple appeared from the garage area, which had been closed off at 4pm. Perhaps they were hiding in their car, but they came up claiming that they had been running an errand for one of Paul's guys, a name the man muttered while pretending to be on his phone. He was wearing a laminate, so I pulled it out of his jacket and it was an embarrassing fake. I made them wait by security so I could find somebody to take them out and the Scot came up. "Do you know these guys?" I said to him. "No, but 'd like to find out." Within seconds, they were on the sidewalk.

A few moments later, there was another unexpected voice behind me. "So, where's the show at?" How were these people coming up from the garage? I turned around right into the face of Woody Harrelson, who was there with Alanis Morrisette and 2 other people. There was the scent of marijuana wafting through the air... I'm not sayin', but Woody and Alanis were a little goofy. I said, "Oh! You should have come through the VIP area. We'll have to go outside." He looked at all the people and said, "Uh, I can't go outside..." I was able to have Annie, our third helper, walk them through the store to the right place.

Finally, at 8pm, the show could begin. Celebs in the audience that I knew about included Rick Rubin, Jeff Lynne standing with Joe Walsh, Twiggy, Rosanna Arquette, Barbara Orbison, Michael Eisner, John Laroquette, and - of course - Cybill Shepherd, who dared to bring even more people than allowed and then threw a hissy fit when she was restricted from letting all her people in.

The Very Very Important People of the evening were Olivia Harrison (widow of George), Barbara Bach and her husband, Ringo Starr. "I can say that I remember Amoeba, because I was there," Paul quipped from the stage. "And you were there too, right?" With that, he pointed at Ringo and the crowd went wild... The two surviving Beatles under the same roof. I'm certain there were tears in the audience at that moment - that was one of the most highly charged crowds I'd ever been in.

There were plenty of tears outside of the store, and lots of begging too. The crowd just kept coming after the store had long been closed off, and about 20 minutes into the show, the cops came. They cleared the sidewalk in front of Amoeba, and hundreds of fans lined up across the street and on either side of the building. The front doors of the store were opened to let in air and let out the music. Those people outside clapped and cheered just as much as the ones on the inside.

Okay, so back to the show.

Paul was the "cute" one, and I guess they were all kinda silly, right? Well, Paul was pretty silly during the whole set. He revisited the past by telling the audience that he could do just about anything up there and they wouldn't care, and then proceeded to lead them all in a gibberish call and response. And you know what? The crowd did it. He also told them all that they looked like the kids in the movie "Village of the Damned" and proceeded to do a zombie walk and stare across the stage. He glanced down at the crowd and said, "No, that won't work - you're all still smiling!"

During "I'll Follow the Sun," he faked the crowd out by ending the song and then repeating the last refrain not once, not twice, not three times, but FOUR times! He sang a quick "happy birthday" (the regular version, not his own) to someone in the front, he made fun of the person crazily shouting out requests, and he got choked up when introducing the song "Here Today." He said it was a song he had written with John in mind, but he supposed that now it could also be dedicated to George and Linda. I can guarantee that moment brought more tears.

Highlights for me included "Blackbird," which was the first song I ever learned on guitar. (I couldn't play it today to save my life, though.) "Hey Jude," "The Long & Winding Road," and "Let It Be" also made me pretty happy. All my hippie friends got nuts over "I've Got A Feeling," and I have to say that track got me to pull out the album and blast it a couple times the next day... But by the end of the show, I was standing on the buy counter (where people trade stuff in) near the front of the store with my Amoeba friends Cliff, Henry and Rick, we all couldn't stop dancing when the band busted out "I Saw Her Standing There."

Afterwards, he retired to the VIP area as we ushered people out. A few Amoeba employees went into the back and met the icon, but the guys noticed he was much chummier with the ladies then he was with them. Well, Amoeba girls are cute, what with all their tattoos and piercings and whatnot. Come on!

Sure, music geeks will argue the qualities of John and George and always delegate Paul as the pop guy. But you know what? Those guys are no longer with us. And yes, they are brilliant. But Paul McCartney ain't chopped liver; remember - he co-wrote most of that stuff. And to hear those songs coming from that voice - just a hundred feet away from me - well, it's an experience I won't ever forget. It was amazing.

So, when all is said and done, here's the setlist:

Drive My Car
Only Mama Knows
Dance Tonight
C Moon
The Long and Winding Road
I'll Follow the Sun
Calico Skies
That Was Me
Here Today
Back in the USSR
Nod Your Head
House of Wax
I've Got A Feeling
Get Back
Hey Jude
Let It Be
Lady Madonna
I Saw Her Standing There

And somewhere in the middle of that, he busted out into "Baby Face" (as in, "you've got the cutest little...") which was a corny piano romp. Ever the vaudevillian, eh?

Check out some killer pics on Amoeba's website here.