Posts Tagged ‘The A-Bones’

Why I do cry, or all good things do have to end (Chip Damiani, 1945-2014)

February 24, 2014
The Remains in their first prime. From left: Bill Briggs, Chip Damiani, Barry Tashian and Vern Miller.

The Remains in their first prime. From left: Bill Briggs, Chip Damiani, Barry Tashian and Vern Miller.

How I got through the last three hours of work this past evening and remained something resembling productive while being emotionally numb is beyond me.

I’ve written tributes to deceased musicians many times, both for newspapers and here on this blog. But until now, I had never been written one about a friend.

As in any instance when a friend dies suddenly, totally unexpectedly, it’s awfully hard to articulate. It’s hard to even say it.

Okay, I’ll just get the hard part out and let the rest flow. After jamming through a whole bunch of work, I stopped around 9 p.m. to have a bite and check out my Facebook messages. A writer from Westport named Dan Woog posted a link to his blog on my page: Chip Damiani, the drummer for one of the best rock’n’roll bands America ever produced, The Remains — and, what is really important to me, a good friend and former neighbor-of-sorts — died yesterday afternoon of a massive cerebral hemorrhage. He was 68 going on 35.

Go figure — trim, in a fighting shape forged from all those years as a roofer, in the best physical shape by far of everyone in the band, their backbone and fiery, no-bullshit, you-knew-where-you-stood presence. And he’s the one who went first.

And it was Chip who provided me with one of my favorite stories in two-plus decades as a music writer. And introduced me to the band that provided me with two of my favorite moments as a music fan.

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Cygnus Radio playlist 6/7/13: So much to cram into three hours

June 10, 2013
Yes, Deacon Jones was briefly a recording artist.

Yes, Deacon Jones was briefly a recording artist.

Franorama 2.0 airs from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT (9 a.m.-noon CDT, 7-10 a.m. PDT, 2-5 p.m. GMT) on Cygnus Radio. For the archival link to this and all other past shows, click here.

As Al Anderson sang with NRBQ, there’s so much to do and so little time

That’s the way my latest Franorama 2.0 show on Cygnus Radio felt last Friday. How do you cram everything into one three-hour tour? Well, the way the Howells and Ginger crammed steamer trunks aboard the S.S. Minnow for their three-hour tour, I guess …

Here’s what I had to fit in — and did:

  • “52 Girls” because I just turned 52.
  • Los Straitjackets, The Outta Sites and The Big Fat Combo. Los Straitjackets, the surf combo with the Mexican wrestling masks, plays tonight (June 10) at Cafe Nine in New Haven. Chris “Sugarballs” Sprague, the drummer, was just at the Nine a month ago playing for Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys. In addition, he fronts The Outta Sites, back in L.A.; their new debut album, Shake All Night with The Outta Sites, is wonderful shades of The Dave Clark Five and The Wonders from That Thing You Do. And local semi-legends The Big Fat Combo will open the show.
  • A tribute of sorts to the greatest defensive end of all time, Deacon Jones, who died last Monday (June 3). If you grew up in a certain era, as I did, you probably thought the Los Angeles Rams were pretty cool — the white-and-blue unis, Roman Gabriel, Jack Snow, and the most famous front four in NFL history: Jones, Merlin Olsen, Rosey Grier and Lamar Lundy. I often wondered whether David Jones took his nickname from a song, like fellow Hall-of-Famer Night Train Lane. I included two songs titled “Deacon Jones” (by Louis Jordan and zydeco king Boozoo Chavis, who recorded extremely down-and-dirty versions of it early and late in his life), as well as a 1965 single the Foursome recorded for Capitol.
  • In its entirety, the new CD by one of my favorite people (musician or not), Blake
    The inimitable Blake Jones & the Trike Shop.

    The inimitable Blake Jones & the Trike Shop.

    Jones & the Trike Shop, back in Fresno. One of the most whimsical and pedigreed pop groups you’ll ever hear. Their first album in three years, Teasers From the Whispermaphone, is just that — a seven-song look at early and now-out-of-print discs and hints of sounds and directions to come.

  • The Remains and The A-Bones. After the show, I jumped on a train to a rainy Brooklyn to see them play at the Bell House. What’s weird is that I’m now as old as The Remains, those ’60s Boston legends via Connecticut and Jersey, were when they started their second chapter back in 1998. Anyway,  hadn’t seen Barry Tashian, Bill Briggs, Vern Miller and Chip Damiani (an old New Haven near-neighbor of mine) since I drove from Fresno to Hollywood to appear in their documentary, America’s Lost Band. That was six years, one gender and one cross-country move ago. And the last time I
    Barry Tashian and Vern Miller of The Remains at The Bell House, Brooklyn, Friday night.

    Barry Tashian and Vern Miller of The Remains at The Bell House, Brooklyn, Friday night.

    got to see Billy Miller and Miriam Linna and Bruce Bennett and Marcus the Carcass was five summers ago at the now-gone Magnetic Field in Brooklyn. It was great to catch up, let me tell ya — even if my brake master cylinder went on me ion the way home …

  • Amaglamated Muck, Eric Hisaw, New Mystery Girl, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and the Dead Kennedys. One of the weirdest sets I’ve played in a long time. Eric, a guitarist/singer/songwriter from Austin who found me on Facebook a month ago, was at the Nine last Wednesday playing lead for Zoe Muth. Played one of his new songs and something from a rock band he played with back there three years ago, New Mystery Girl, At the show, I met, at long last, Lauren Agnelli — onetime New Yorker who lives in central Connecticut now. She was in a new wave band in the late ’70s (Nervus Rex) and, a retro-folkie act in the ’80s (The Washington Squares). She now plays in another folkish group of sorts, Amalgamated Muck, and her hell of extended joblessness (which ended last year) inspired the title song of their 2012 debut album, The New Leisure Class. The Dap-Kings I played because Sharon broke the news last Monday that she’s battling stage-1 bile duct cancer. After the news broke about the government’s widespread electronic snooping on us, I played their incredible twist of “This Land Is Your Land” … into the DKs’ song about a surveillance state, “I Am the Owl.”
  • The Reducers. It’ll be a year already on Wednesday (June 12) that we lost Steve Kaika, the bass player from Connecticut’s greatest rock’n’roll band aside from The Wildweeds. Thirty-four years with the same four guys (only The Four Tops, 53 years with the same foursome, topped that). I played mostly of them, along with the three best tracks from Rave On, Vol. 1, the tribute album that his nephew back in Fresno, Jes Farnsworth (now touring Europe as the guitarist for ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted’s trio, Newsted), put together to help pay Steve’s medical expenses.
  • Birthdays living and dead. I found out just as my previous week’s show ended that it would’ve been the 50th birthday of outsider art’s link to rock’n’roll, Wesley Willis (who died 10 years ago in August), so I put him in with three Friday birthdays: Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes (50), Prince (55) and Tom Jones (73).
  • To close, the rarely heard original 1961 version of “Someday We’ll Be Together” — yes, The Diana & the Supremes swan song — by Johnny (Bristol) & Jackey (Beavers).

That’s enough fun for one week. I think I want to do it again next week, too. Tune in live or in the archives. Ciao for now …

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Cygnus Radio playlist 5/3/13: I’ll go crazy

May 4, 2013
Just a prisoner of love.

From the heights (the Godfather) …

For the links to this and all other archived Franorama 2.0 shows on Cygnus Radio, click here. The show airs live from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. ET Fridays (that’s 7-10 a.m. PT, 2-5 p.m. GMT). 

Now this is the type of show I envisioned when I started doing this online radio thang a couple months ago: No technical glitches and pretty freewheeling as it took me — and, hopefully, you — to places I didn’t expect.

This week’s Franorama 2.0 on Cygnus Radio was a kinda nutty show — and not just because James Brown was singing “I’ll Go Crazy,” as I put together an hour of his earlier stuff to commemorate what would’ve been the Godfather’s 80th birthday. (Bit of trivia: James died on Christmas morning 2006 — two days before he was to play a show at Waterbury’s Palace Theatre, about 10 minutes from home. If I remember right, his final interview was with, of all places, my evil and heinous first newspaper, the Republican-American.)

I mean, as I rebuild my music library online, I’ve been finding all the nooks and crannies of my memory banks — and that includes a lot of the scrapings. Crazy tunes. And I kinda went crazy on that front, too. Let’s see …

  • A truckload of ’80s garage tunes, some from the ROIR Garage Sale! cassette …
  • A couple tunes from one of the great garage collections ever — Crypt Records’ Going All the Way With The Squires! from 1986. The Squires (ne The Rogues) were from nearby Bristol, more than a decade before the Worldwide Leader in Sports Television was founded there. One locally produced single under their original name, one under their later name for Atco Records, then college and Vietnam and all the things that broke up garage bands back then. And hordes of collectors in the following years. And a lot of great tunes, many released until this. This album will be a staple in shows to come.
  • A single from my college years featuring an electric mixer … one of the great wakeup records of all time (you’re welcome, West Coast) …
  • The B-side to one of the most controversial hit singles of the ’60s — the song runs in reverse, and the label is even printed in reverse!
  • A single about a primitive robot from my toddlerhood in Brooklyn in the early ’60s, when robots were a big thing …
  • Adam & the Ants’ spoof of “Y.M.C.A.,” released in the early ’80s as a flexidisc for the short-lived English music mag Flexipop
  • And the most timeless group I’ve ever heard, King Uszniewicz and His Uszniwicztones. By timeless, I mean no sense of tempo whatsoever. Imagine four instruments racing to cram themselves down the same funnel hole at the same time, with a voice that sounds like air being slowly let out of a tire forever. So the legend goes, it was a Detroit bowling alley lounge band from the mid-’70s “produced” by the late, great Cub Koda. I always thought it was a goof perpetuated by him and Billy Miller of Norton Records; both strongly denied it to me. Plan B theory: It was Brownsville Station on a bender.

    king u

    to the depths (the King).

  • And, oh yeah, the original version of a song re-“recorded” by King U — “Little Dead Surfer Girl,” an early-’70s surf/doo-wop ditty by another Connecticut group, The Incredible Broadside Brass Bed Band. Recorded at Trod Nossel Studios in nearby Wallingford — whose late owner, Doc Cavalier, was Cub’s producer/manager in his final years. (Coincidence?)

Anyway, you can hear the show in perpetuity online, or check in live next Friday morning. Enjoy the week!

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25 Songs for Norton’s 25th (and then some)

November 20, 2011

Well, this was supposed to have come out on 11/11/11, but steady work (not complaining about that, mind you) and the urgent search for a car precluded me doing pretty much anything else — including finishing off this tribute.

I can tell you that there are some people last weekend for whom the double-sticks weren’t the day’s lucky number. It was 25. As in a quarter-century of tear-em-down musical madness foisted upon the world — with a few extras years tacked on before that for bad behavior — by the fine folks at the coolest archival record label in the universe: Norton Records.

This was to have come out last weekend in the midst of the social event of the decade — the sold-out-for-months, four-night 25th-anniversary celebration at the Bell House in Brooklyn. Lots of great musicians showed up.

Anyway, I figured I’d honor this momentous occasion in my own special way. So here you go: 25 songs for 25 years — with triple awarded for damages.

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