Wall To Wall

Tony Pierce went to see Roger Waters’ “The Wall Live” concert last night and it brought back memories of Pink Floyd’s original “The Wall” tour. The show was sold out for a week in February 1980 at the Sports Arena.

With no money to my name and a mother who was not a fan of the album and certainly not my obsession with it (I listened to it daily in its double-platter entirety for months), I tried my best to win tickets on radio show giveaways, but failed. So entirely desperate to see what was uncategorically The Rock ‘N Roll Event Of My Lifetime I even contemplated burgling a neighbor or worse robbing someone of their tickets outside the venue.

Fortunately I went neither of those felonious routes, and instead on Wednesday, February 13 — the last day of Floyd’s LA stay I pretended I wasn’t feeling well immediately after dinner, went to bed fully clothed, and after about a year-long 30 minutes of laying there, I stuffed clothes under the covers to simulate a body sleeping, snuck out the window, pausing while straddled half in and half out to not give a fuck if my mom decided to check-in on me and discover my escape. Then I went down to the garage, got on my battered BMX bike and pedaled out from the slums of Beverly Hills in the general direction of downtown via Olympic Boulevard, with neither a golden ticket nor knowing precisely where the Sports Arena was.

Come to think of it, from a cycling perspective that trip could qualify as my first-ever bike commute.

Anyway. When I finally arrived, sweaty, adrenaline filled and out of breath, the place looked and felt deserted with only a few people outside the entrance I was nearest, and I was gripped in horror that I’d screwed up and come all this way a day late. Then as if in reassuring answer “In the Flesh?” exploded from within the arena and I knew the concert was both going on and had only just started.

So ya thought ya might like to go to the show…

Increasingly and frantically desperate would be an understated way of describing how I spent the time basically pedaling around the arena begging a succession of rejecting gatekeepers that getting inside was a matter of life or death until finally finding a somewhat sympathic ear.

“I don’t even need a seat! Please just let me stand somewhere inside!”I implored.

I say the person was “somewhat sympathetic” because he didn’t let me in for free. I had to fork over the seven bucks I had in my pocket — and my bike.

I gave both over without hesitation.

And in I went. The moment I burst through the outer doors I was greeted with the acoustics of “Mother” and I almost cried. In fact I did, but for a different reason as I was immediately approached by a security guard wanting to see my ticket.

Instead, I showed him the performance of my young life, channeling that tearful relief into total sorrow as I turned on the waterworks and bemoaned losing my ticket and only being able to get in because the person outside made me give him all my money — and my bike.

Mother will they tear your little boy apart?

Miraculously, it worked. Embarrassed by my outburst, the guard led me to an access tunnel and told me to calm down. I did, a little. Then he looked around before telling me to go in but insisted that I couldn’t sit in a seat.

“If I find your crybaby butt planted anywhere it shouldn’t be I’m throwing you out!”

I nodded my head off in understanding and gratitude and when he looked the other way I did my best not to bolt headlong down the tunnel to experience what was indeed The Rock ‘N Roll Event Of My Lifetime.

Afterwards, given the amount of second-hand marijuana smoke I inhaled there’s little in the way of specifics regarding the looooong walk home other than I don’t recall my feet touching the ground and in getting back to the apartment not long before dawn I still didn’t give a fuck if my mom had discovered my absence. Slipping the screen off the window and sliding it open, I peered inside the darkened room and nothing appeared out of the ordinary. The door was closed. The clothes I’d stuffed under the covers still there.

Sure enough, the next morning I was awakened with my mom’s typically gruff and no-nonsense call to get up, but that was it. Though completely exhausted, I rose in triumph that the entirely AWOL evening excursion had been a total success. I had torn down several walls to see “The Wall.”

When my mom got home from work that afternoon you know what she found me listening intently to on the old Admiral hi-fi. Rolling her eyes, I turned the volume down and told her that my bike had been stolen. I pretended to be appropriately upset, then I turned up the volume and climbed back into the album with visions of the mindblowing concert in my head.

Glory Be

Today I’ll be participating my fourth (of five) Great LA Walks, all of them orchestrated by the awesome Michael Schneider of Franklin Avenue. Beginning at Pershing Square downtown I will be pedestrianating (yep, in the rain) with my fellow pedestrianaters all the way westward along Wilshire Boulevard some 15-miles to its end at Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. In the meantime I leave you with this, found this morning at Tony Pierce’s Busblog,.

I am jealous of everyone present in this video who experienced such a joyful transformation of a mall’s garish food court to a glorious cathedral of soaring spirit.

Speaking of soaring spirits, there are so many things I wouldn’t know about without Tony. This being one of them. Hallelujah to him.

It’s No Longer A Question Of When, Because The Saints Have Done Marched In!

A couple days ago I blogged about a treasured jazz discovery and all the old-school analog work I had to do to go about acquiring it. I closed the post with an adieu about digitizing an album of Civil War music I listened to regularly in my youth. I thought it had been loooong-lost, but in fact had been in my collection all  all this time — rediscovered serendipitously when I went searching for the LP with that jazz number on it.

So, in the wake of the epic battle waged yesterday between north and south with the highly favored regiment from Indiana engaging underdog troops from Louisiana, I salute the victors and  opportunistically offer up one of my favorite tracks from the 50-year-old platter, the somber and saintly “All Quiet Along The Potomac Tonight,” by Col. Beauregard and the Volunteers:

PS. The French horns always make me choke-up.

The Two Tenors

What a difference a couple decades makes. Nowadays if I hear a song on the radio, I simply open up my Shazam app on my iPhone point it in the direction of the noise and in a few seconds … well, SHAZAM I have the artist, the track title, and various links to listen and/or buy an MP3 of it.

Fast-backward with me tto one afternoon  in 1986. I was coming home from work driving north on Fulton Avenue listening to KKGO, then L.A.’s jazz station and the song being played was this rousing tune from some unknown big band that hooked me right from the toe-tapping start and featured an amazing dialogue of two tenor saxophones talking back and forth throughout. I was so entranced by the tight and hard-swinging number that when it was still going strong after I go to my apartment building I sat in my parked car listening to its end — and I’m so glad I did because it finished with a sax solo so effing JAZZ it gave me chills and I wanted it to keep going forever. But it didn’t, and when the DJ didn’t give me any info on it and instead went right into the next song, I sat in my car listening to that in its entirety with my fingers crossed that he would come back and give me some sort of clue.

My prayers were partially answered in that he did come back on air and quickly list the last several artists and what I heard for the second to last one sounded like “The Catearse Orchestra.”

You kids in the audience need to understand that in those dark days there was no running to a computer and extracting data from a search engine. Sure I could’ve dialed up a BBS at the blazing speeds my 400-baud modem was capable of and posted a question on one of the forums then waited around for an anwer, but the odds of anyone knowing were slimity slim.

So what I did in those analog days was start my car, back out of my parking space and roll a few miles to the nearest record store — in this case it was  The Wherehouse on Van Nuys Boulevard in Sherman Oaks. Inside I went and asked the nearest clerk if he knew anything about the “The Catearse Orchestra.” Shaking his head he pointed me to a massive phonebook-sized reference, which apparently listed all albums currently in print and available on earth.

I dove in and dug through it, but found nothing. Bummed but not beaten I came back home and gave the station a call.  When someone finally picked up I told them my plight about hearing a great song but not being able to find any record of the band at the record store.

“What’s the name?”

“Something like ‘The Catearse Orchestra?'”

And the person on the other end laughed. “No wonder you couldn’t find them. It’s ‘Capp/Pierce!’ as in Frank Capp and Nat Pierce. And the song you’re looking for is called “Little Pony” off their “Juggernaut Strikes Again!” album.”

“How do you know?” I asked, writing all that down.

“Because I’m the one who played it!”

Now it was my turn to laugh and thank the DJ. Then I raced down to my car armed with those facts, drove back to The Wherehouse,  went straight to the jazz section and when I didn’t find it in stock I dove back into the book, found Capp/Pierce, found the album and  went through the motions of special ordering the platter.

A week or so later it arrived. I brought it home, through it on my Marantz turntable, reveled in  it, and my musical landscape was never the same.

And now through the magic of my wonderful USB turntable, I can share the song with you — and in case you’re interested the two tenors are Bob Cooper and Pete Christlieb:

Now, while searching for that Capp/Pierce album in my LP collection I’m amazed to have found another that is a huge aural touchstone of my childhood. So if you’ll excuse me I’m off to digitize the heavily-scratched tracks from Whitehall Records’ “The Sound Of The Confederacy,” by Col. Beauregard Johnson and the Volunteers, an album I absolutely cherish and have not listened to in perhaps 35 years and thought long lost.

The Precious Pitter Patter Of “Pata Pata”

Honda has a cool TV ad campaign out for its new Crosstour vehicle. A couple of the spots feature fetching animation backgrounded by great songs. One is a jazztastic version of “Fever”, and the other I immediately recognized when I first heard it this weekend but couldn’t identify, and I certainly  wouldn’t’ve known it by its name and artist — owing to the fact that its infectious melody carried me waaaaaaaay back to a visual of me hearing it from the AM radio while in the passenger seat of my mom’s Chevy Corsair.

Meaning I was 3 years old, maybe 4. A time when performers’ names and song titles didn’t mean all that much to me.

In all honesty I can’t recall having heard it since, but there it was burbling out of the TV speakers into my ears for what may very well be the first time in 40-plus years, simultaneously making me bop in my seat and like a time machine transporting me back to a long-forgotten moment of joy in my toddlerhood.

So of course I blindly gooogled “Honda Crosstour Commercial Music” and ultimately found myself at the page within the automaker’s website where they were so good to identify the singer and song: Miriam Makeba, “Pata Pata.” Next of course I clicked over to Makeba’s Wikipedia page where I sadly learned she died at the age of 76 in November 2008, after having collapsed onstage during a concert in Italy following the performance of “Pata Pata,” which was her biggest international hit in a remarkable life and career.

I wasted little time finding the single available on Lala.com and purchased it, and I share the joy of it with you:

The Going To Traffic Court Blues

saxAs you might recall from a previous post, my Baybee fulfilled a long-unrealized reuniting this past Christmas by getting a tenor saxophone to finally replace the one I’d had to sacrifice to make rent back in the mid-90s.

Other than picking it up and playing it badly that first day, the sax has sat in its case, with me and my 12-year-dormant embouchure somewhat intimidated by it.

Then last night, I could no longer resist and I brought the sax into the space off the master bedroom formerly called the Clubhouse but duly redubbed the Sound Chamber, sat my ass in a folding chair, and tried to blow along with Art Blakey’s “Moanin” and Lou Donaldson’s “Blues Walk,” two jazz classics I used to play along with way back in the day.

I enjoyed it, but further cemented the fact that I am reeeeeaaaaally reeeeeaaaaally rusty.

This morning I’m here at home, instead of work because I have a traffic court visit scheduled downtown for early this afternoon for a ticket I got on my bike last summer — one that I decided to fight. I don’t really expect to win, but I’m going to give it a shot anyway since the ticket was unfair and cost me $202.

But seeing as there are few places that make me more anxious than courtrooms, and I had the house to myself, I brought out the sax to sooth my nerves, but under the guise of adjusting a a pad protector screw that I discovered was juuuust long enough to prevent a lower pad from closing once opened. After doing that of course I played a bit, and when Ranger didn’t run howling from the room I decided to record a slice that — since it doesn’t totally and entirely suck — I’ve uploaded for you and posterity and titled:

The Going To Traffic Court Blues

I hope you enjoy it or at least that it doesn’t send you howling from the room.