MORE STUFF ABOUT MY TRIP TO NYC AND CAPTAIN BEEFHEART

This is sorta Part 2, of my latest blog for the Del-Lords website (del-lords.com). It kinda overlaps, kinda doesn’t, but it seems to belong here rather than there. Still with me?

In other NYC adventure news, I got to see and hang with Richard Manitoba (of course), and even went to young Jake’s Little League game. Jake pitched and while he did load the bases he stayed true to the Yankees logo he proudly wears on his uniform, and proceeded to then strike out the side, not allowing a run. It blows my mind that Jake is now just about a year younger than Richard and I were when we met. Got to spend time with Zoe and Jake, as well as with Richard, and that was just what the doctor always will order.

Saw Andy Shernoff doing a rehearsal/show, working up some new songs. I was totally impressed with the songs, the format, which is more storyteller than punk rocker, and the way Andy seems totally engaged in his new direction. There’s a fantastic new song, called ARE YOU READY TO RAPTURE? you can download for free at his website. It’s a stone cold Shernoff classic in every sense of the word. I HIGHLY recommend you check it out. It’s awesome. I even did a song at the end when he ran out of ‘em in front of an audience of many familiar faces, old friends, rock buddies, and the like. He thanked me for bailing him, but between you and me, Andy hardly needed bailing out. He just didn’t have the lyrics for any other songs with him. I thought that was why we wrote ‘em – so we didn’t have to remember them. Songwriters??!!

I also did three radio shows during my action packed week. One was with Dave Marsh on his KICK OUT THE JAMS Sunday morning show on E Street Nation. Dave’s an old pal, and is always fun to discuss stuff with, argue stuff with, and to just plain hang with. He played a trio of songs of mine that he thought really were of a piece, a thought that never would have occurred to me. It was the Del-Lords’ HEAVEN (Dave’s favorite DL song), into HOT ROD ANGEL, & SAVING GRACE, from my first and second solo albums respectively. I was impressed that they did seem to go together. That’s Rock critics for ya, and one of the reasons I love Dave.

I also did Rich Russo’s AnythingAnything show, on which I played a few songs live, hung out for a coupla hours and I can tell you, his show lives up to its title. I couldn’t believe we were on commercial FM radio.  I kept asking him how he wanted me to do whatever he wanted me to do, and he kept saying, “Whatever you wanna do is cool”! I didn’t believe him at first but I believe him now. What a great guy, Rich is, and what a great rock’n’roll fan he is, as well. I had a really cool time up there. AND, Reverend Al Sharpton was in the next studio. THE ultimate photo-op that, unfortunately, never happened. I think Rich is gonna be promoting the first official Del-Lords shows in NYC in many moons this Fall. I’ll let youse know.

And, I had a dream come true (hey, there’s a song title!) when I got to play DJ. I did a Guest DJ spot on E Street Nation, which will air shortly. I will post it on Facebook when I know the date.  I got to play a dozen of my favorite Springsteen songs, tell a few stories, and just loved every second of it. I could probably play about three hours worth of my very favorite Springsteen songs, but Thanx to the mighty Jim Rotolo, who engineered it, as well as Dave’s show.

Had some great Italian food, including three trips to PIZZA GRUPPO on Avenue B, my current favorite pizza in town & NERO DORO in Clinton Hill by Roscoe’s pad. Had some real Chinese food, and some Manitoba leftovers that wiped the floor with pretty much anything you could get in a restaurant It was a seafood/linguine dish, with a nice-a spicy red sauce that was sono buoni. Richard’s been cooking for me since we were about twelve years old, and I gotta tell ya, he never disappoints. Saw the E Factor, Eric Weinstein, part of the inner circle of my life for the last hundred years or so. He’s lookin’ great, feelin’ great, and that makes me feel great. Saw Brother Rich Nesin for a quick artery clogging breakfast at the new Pink Tea Cup. I first started going to The Pink Tea Cup, “a fine Soul Food establishment”, in the mid-70’s when they were still on Bleecker St. Back then the waitresses were all older heavy set Southern women, who were the closest thing to the old heavy set Jewish waitresses who worked at the Kosher Delis of my youth (“You didn’t finish your food.You’re too thin. EAT! I’ll be back when you’re done, darling.”), and they had three framed photos on the wall: Martin Luther King Jr., JFK, and (I swear), Wilson Pickett! They then moved around the corner to Grove St., where I was such a regular I would often sit at the waitress table (much younger waitresses this time). Then, much to my horror they closed. But, now they’re back, just around the corner on  7th Ave. And, then there’s my host in NY, Gary “Daddy G” Borress, who if hosts were baseball players, we’d be calling him Babe Ruth. Gary is also responsible for the reissue of TENEMENT ANGELS, for which I am eternally grateful. Thanx again for every little thing, Gary. Of course, I got to see my kid sis, Robin, and although our schedules had a hard time lining up and we only got together once. Mary, her partner, met us, as did my old buddy, Robert Cirkiel, and we saw one of Andy’s sets, and then, yes it was Pizza time.  More family time next time for sure.

Let’s see. Had amazing weather this time. Perfect Spring weather, which was a welcome change from the three delays due to the ferocious Winter, NY experienced just a coupla months ago. You know what else I miss about NY? I miss watching NY1, the 24 hour all New York news channel – you’re never more than ten minutes away from New York weather on the 1’s. It’s true.

In between all this was Del-Lords activity, some at Roscoe’s pad, some at Cowboy Technical Services, and it was mighty successful. That would bring us right back to Part 1 of my trip, which, again, you can find the documentation of at del-lords.com.

Before I sign off to try and do my part to get the Yankees out of this awful slump the team is mired in, I just wanna say a few words about Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart, who passed away back in December due to complications from Multiple Sclerosis.

I first became truly aware of Captain Beefheart back in 1969, when my pal Robert Cirkiel was the first person I knew to own TROUT MASK REPLICA. We had both been fascinated by the strange album cover, and the press it was getting, especially Langdon Winner’s glowing yet astounded Rolling Stone review. It was described in all kinds of terms that all seemed to be searching for a way to say this was truly something different under the sun. Well, that was right in tune with the spirit of the times, and Robert and I definitely were under that same spell.

I’ll never forget the feeling of complete bewilderment, terror, amusement, and, ultimately, fascination with the music contained within that odd cover of the Captain wearing, yes, a Trout Mask. What was even more startling was the photo of the band on the back. Now, remember, this was still the 60’s, and weird was pretty much the order of the day, but this was weirder than weird, and not in some hippie-fied way. All I know, is that something kept drawing us back to this seemingly chaotic noise, its seeming randomness, and THAT voice, which contained a strong echo of Howling Wolf, but something else, too. Over time, I began to “hear” what my body had reacted to before my ears and brain could comprehend. When I began to anticipate the changes in the songs, “hear” the parts of the players, and realized that every single note was indeed intentional, and even beautiful, I was hooked for life.

The next year we both went to a Warner Brothers promotional tour that featured both Ry Cooder, promoting his first solo LP, and Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, who were promoting LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY. It was at a small club called Ungano’s on West 70th, where a year before we witnessed The Stooges, who were about to release FUN HOUSE. To see the Magic Band live was truly astonishing, and somewhat overwhelming. The thunder of the band, the angular perfection of this wild, fun, funny, ferocious, and beautiful music was one of the most memorable experiences of my teenage years, and that is saying a lot, let me tell you. Not just in terms of all the great music we saw on an almost weekly basis, but everything else the 60’s had to offer, as well.  In the ensuing years, I saw them two or three more times, once when they were the middle act on a bill headlined by the awesome J. Geils Band, and the opener was that pipsqueak Broadway show tunesmith wannabe, Billy Joel, as the opener. I am shitting you negative, my friends. They slayed everything in sight. Once at the Bottom Line, when they were promoting DOC AT THE RADAR STATION, the last full-on Beefheart masterpiece, they ended every song with a live fade-out! Wow! You had to hear it to believe it. Every time, they were sensational, and while they didn’t entirely defy description, they did defy comparison. There was truly never anything like Beefheart before, and you can bet your bottom dollar, none of us will live long enough to see the likes of him pass this way again. A beautiful singular spirit, who lived for art, nature, and could follow no trends, just as no trends could rise in his slipstream.

I have been listening to him almost everyday since his passing, and the same records I’ve known for decades are still revealing themselves to me, and just as he intended, they still bypass the brain to some other place in my soul where they dance and sing, and make more sense than my brain ever could make of them. He said he wanted his music to be like a passing speeding train: you could see the train, and feel the train, but you couldn’t really count the cars as they went by. More articulate, and learned fans than myself could probably explain more about Van Vliet’s music, and his multiple truly magical bands, but I do know that I am blessed to have been able to appreciate in my own way, an artist as singular and magnificent as any artist operating in any field, during my time here on, as he called it, God’s Golf Ball.

Goodnight, Don. I will miss you and never be anything less than eternally grateful I lived at the same time as you, and was able to stand in your light for some brief yet unforgettable and wonderful moments that will stand as highlights of my life, as long as I’m still here, on Gods Golf Ball.

 

 

 

 

 

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