This entry will be in three parts, to signify what was happening between my last post and before I was caught in the flood in southern Louisiana, and what has happened since.
Before the Flood
“You walk into the room
With your pencil in your hand
You see somebody naked
And you say, “Who is that man?”
You try so hard
But you don’t understand
Just what you’ll say
When you get home
Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?…”
Bob Dylan, from “Ballad of a Thin Man” from Highway 61 Revisited (1965) and Before the Flood (1974)
It has been quite some time between posts, and I hope that this does not become a habit. I really really really want to post more often but Time Won’t Let Me; makes me feel like an Outsider.
After experiencing the Beatles Fair, and other great shows in the spring of 2016, I truly considered I had seen the highlight of the year before the halfway mark. Well I was wrong. Here is why:
June 24: Jamie Shadowlight’s String Theory – Going to California, a fusion exploration of Led Zeppelin, at 98 Bottles in Little Italy. The band consisted of Jamie Shadowlight on violin, Caitlin Evanson on violin and vocals, Mikan Zlatkovich on keys, Antar Martin on bass, Kevin Higuchi on drums, Pedro Talarico on guitar, and special guests Lorraine Castellanos (guitar), P.J. Ortiz (beat box), Carmelia “Toot” Bell (vocals). What a fun evening! It began with a long drone that evolved into “Kashmir”, then followed by Caitlin’s plaintive vocals on “Black Dog”, and things just kept going, from dueling violins to fantastic drum solos, and jazzy instrumentals featuring Mikan, Antar, Kevin, and Pedro. Lorraine Castellanos was featured with solo acoustic guitar for one song. Then there was the most unusual take on “Whole Lotta Love” featuring Carmelia “Toot” Bell on vocals, transforming the song’s lyrics into a cosmic love fest. Jamie’s shows are always entertaining, uplifting, and a bit transcendent.
June 25: Dave Humphries, Wolfgang Grasekamp, Mike Alvarez – Rebecca’s Coffee Shop, South Park. The last Sunday of the month Dave Humphries performs his original tunes as well as British invasion standards from the 60s at Rebecca’s. As usual, he was accompanied by Wolfgang Grasekamp and Mike Alvarez. It is always a good time hanging out and watching them perform these classics and originals.
June 25: Dave & Normandie’s Excellent Wedding Celebration Bash at Bar Pink in North Park. Normandie Wilson and Dave Fleminger were married on the 24th, but wanted to invite all their friends to a musical celebration the following day. It was a fun evening of music and dance, and meeting lots of new people as well as old friends. First up musically were Alvino and The Dwells with some great surf tunes and Dave Fleminger’s guitar pyromania. They were followed by The Amandas who did some excellent alternative pop/rock with Dave Fleminger on guitar again. The Joyelles were up next featuring Normandie Wilson on vocals and keys, Symea Solomon on vocals, and Maggie Taylor on vocals. Backing them up was Dave Fleminger on guitar, and Bart Mendoza stepped in on vocals while Maggie took a break – which created the old Casino Royale lineup. This was my first time hearing this new band and they were great with beautiful blending vocal harmonies on a mix of obscure and popular tunes reaching back to the pop 60s. Following The Joyelles was Manual Scan, with Bart Mendoza on guitar, Dave Fleminger (does he ever rest?) on keys, Kevin Donaker-Ring on lead guitar, but unfortunately I cannot recall the drummer nor bassist (Tim Blankenship?) that evening. But I do know that the original Manual Scan drummer from the early 80s, Paul Kaufman?, was there and sat in for one song. Lots of originals as well as 60s mod and psychedelic rock. Two other bands were going to be playing, Bitchin’ Seahorse, and The Gargoyles, but it was getting very late and I had to work the next day so we left after Manual Scan’s set. It was too bad because Bitchin’ Seahorse was described as a bit avant-garde, which is right down one of my back alleys. It was a memorable evening of excellent music and good friends.
July 8: Steph Johnson Band – Pre-CD-Release Show at 98 Bottles, Little Italy. Steph’s band played music from her soon-to-be-released CD. The show featured Steph on guitar and vocals, Rob Thorsen on string bass, Fernando Gomez on drums, Curtis Taylor on trumpet and ??? on keys. Funky jazz with some great sounds from all. Steph’s lyrics show a social and transcendent consciousness that brings a message of hope, unity, and oneness. I call it holistic healing music. Beautiful. Beautiful.
July 23: Three Chord Justice – Summer Concert Series, Bird Park, near Balboa Park. This fabulous country band consists of Liz Grace on vocals and guitar, Mark Markowitz on drums, Dave Preston on bass, and Jeff Houck on lead guitar. I have written about them before. And this time it is no different. They are great performers and lots of fun. This open air concert was well attended as evidenced by the fact that we had to park several streets away, but the walk to the park was well worth it! One thing I noticed about this performance is that they only played original songs – no covers. Songs were penned by either Liz or by Dave and were all well-crafted compositions. The last time I saw them Jeff was absent and Alex Watts was filling in on guitar. Both players are excellent but a bit different in style, with Jeff having a harder-edged rocky style. But both players fit perfectly with the others in the TCJ sound.
July 24: Dave Humphries at Rebecca’s. If it’s Sunday its Meet the….no, not press. Press play. Time to hear Dave Humphries play his mix of 60s British rock standards and his self-penned compositions. This time, in addition to Wolfgang Grasekamp on keyboard and Mike Alvarez on cello, we had Greg Gohde on electric bass. Now, Mike and Greg perform together as Bass Clef Experiment. So for a bit of the show, Dave and Wolfgang stepped aside to let Mike and Greg, as Bass Clef Experiment, perform some of their songs. So this Sunday we got two-for-one, and a cup of Joe to go with them. Not a bad deal at all.
July 24: Robin Henkel with Horns at Lestat’s in Normal Heights. Robin has a standing gig at Lestat’s on the last or next to last Sunday of the month, with his horn band. These performances are free, and well worth the money. Seriously, if there was a fee I would gladly pay. This time we had Robin on guitars, Jodie Hill on string bass, Erdis Maxhelaku on cello, Troy Jennings on soprano and bari sax, David Castel de Oro on sax and clarinet, and Gary Nieves on drums. This was the first time I had seen Robin with a cello in the band and it worked very nicely. All these players are highly skilled professionals so what you hear is a top notch performance of early American jazz and country blues with a bit of country swing, and sometimes even the avant-garde mixed in. Robin also provides a narrative on many of these songs and the players who made them famous, as well as how his own compositions were birthed. Every song has a story, and Robin makes those stories fun.
August 2: Woodstock, 2016, Bethel, New York. No, there was no Woodstock event this year, but I was working 10 miles down the road in Monticello, New York so it would have been unthinkable for me to miss this opportunity to visit the location of one of the greatest events in rock music history. The farm is no longer owned by Max Yasgur or his family. It is now part of a historic park owned by the community. There is a huge museum containing videos, photos, and mementos from the event and the era. There was information regarding the planning and development as well as the event itself and what became of some of the key players in making this event happen. There was even a full-scale replica of the bus, Further, by which The Merry Pranksters led by Ken Babbs and Ken Kesey arrived. It took me two full hours to peruse the museum before going outside to check out the grounds where the 1969 event occurred. There is a memorial stone and plaque close to where the original stage was located, overlooking the basin and hillside where everyone watched. It was a far out experience being there. I was 16 when Woodstock was going on. During the event I listened to ham operators on my shortwave radio talking about the thruway being blocked with cars and what a big mess it was for this area of upstate New York.
August 11: Sam Broussard, Blue Dog Café, Lafayette, Louisiana. I had a decision to make that Thursday night – whether to go to another venue I had been told had great Cajun music and dancing, or to go to this quieter café where I could hear a jazz/rock guitarist with a Cajun flavor perform while I had a delicious meal of catfish smothered with crawfish etouffee. I chose the latter. Broussard used two guitars. One was a hollow body with a pickup and the other was a solid body electric. He used a loop so that he could build a song with both guitars and sing. Every loop artist I’ve seen makes it look so easy to do – it makes me wonder if it is that easy or if they have to practice for hours to get the timing down. I put my money on the latter. I talked to Sam afterward and purchased a couple of his CDs. He has a Facebook page and I tried messaging him when I returned to San Diego, but got no response. I am hoping he did not lose his home or livelihood in the big flood. His site shows no current postings. The flood was just beginning that evening. When I left the café to return to my hotel, it had started to rain.
August 11 – 14: Lafayette, Louisiana. I had arrived in Lafayette on Sunday, August 7. The weather was beautiful all week, until Thursday evening when it began to rain. I thought nothing of it. When I got up Friday morning I noted that it was still raining, and it was a hard rain. When I arrived at the work site, I noted there were some parts of the streets where water was beginning to pond big time. After my work was done that afternoon I headed straight to the airport, only to find that my flight was cancelled. The situation had begun to get serious. I made a call back to the Doubletree Hotel, where I had been staying all week on the 13th floor. They had a room so they sent the hotel shuttle to get me. My flight had been rebooked for Saturday morning. While not happy that I was not getting home that night, at least I had a nice hotel and all my luggage. They put me on the 12th floor this time. I had a nice dinner and went to bed thinking I will be home by mid-afternoon Saturday. However, Come Saturday Morning (sorry for that) I learned that my flight had been cancelled again and was rescheduled for Sunday morning. All day Saturday I watched out my 12th floor guest room window as the water kept rising, covering the street, and going up the walls of the Outback Steakhouse, the Fairfield Inn, and the Comfort Suites across the street. Later, they evacuated guests of those two hotels by boat and brought them to us. We were on a little higher ground but we were right next to the Vermillion River. The water had reached the deck and pool that were outside my window, 12 stories down. Sunday morning, I received a call from American Airlines informing that my flight had been cancelled once again, and it was now not leaving until 5:30 pm on Monday. The rain appeared to be slowing but when I looked out the window, the water was halfway up the wall of the Outback Steakhouse. When I went down for breakfast I learned that water had got into the area where the food was stored. While the hotel salvaged some, they would run out after breakfast and the hotel was now relatively full with people stranded like me due to the flood. The guests from Fairfield Inn and Comfort Suites were now at this hotel. I had a big breakfast and was not hungry until early afternoon, but when I went down to the pantry next to the registration counter, there was nothing there. Someone or several people had cleaned out the snacks since there was no lunch and no way to get anywhere else.
Luckily the rain stopped by noon. I actually watched the waters recede rather quickly. The street became visible again, and traffic, while sparse, began to be seen. There was a food delivery before dinner time, but dinner was still quite limited. At least it was food. Monday morning was sunny. Breakfast was available, and I checked out at noon – the latest I could stay. My flight was not for another five and a half hours. However, as the five o’clock hour approached I received a call from American Airlines. My flight was delayed. It would now be a 6:30 departure. Then another call – delayed until 7, then 7:30. Finally, we were in the air sometime after 9 pm, headed for Dallas. I was sure I had missed my connecting flight but I didn’t because it, too, was delayed. But it was not due to weather. They were working on this 2-week old jet due to an oil leak. Finally, they said we were not leaving that night. They put me up at a Q Inn and Tuesday morning I was on another jet, and in first class. I got home by noon on Tuesday.
After the Flood
“Sang soulless loud
Herding step on flesh
And nothing else
To drown & drown
Sleight of reason
How they come
Cain in number…”
From “After the Flood” by Talk Talk, from Laughing Stock, 1991
Since the great flood, I’ve been on the road from Hartford, Connecticut to Eugene, Oregon. I was hoping to see Haley Loren perform live, since she is from Eugene and was not out of town, but we only connected after I had returned to San Diego – perhaps someday. And, I hope it is soon.
Since I do more than simply work and write, I had other things occupying my time throughout this past week, passing up some local performances that I am sure would have been worth my while. I did learn of some promising weekend activities, but with so many going on I had to be selective. Since I want to get this out before I leave Sunday for Los Angeles, I will end it with last night’s performance.
September 9: Gramophone Gregory Page at Java Joe’s in Normal Heights. The evening began with Gregory playing early 78s on a 1928 His Master’s Voice gramophone. He would put one on, then leave the stage, come back and put on another. The setting was interesting, with a heat lamp above the gramophone. The bulb was partially coated in blue with part of the blue missing. There was a lit “On The Air” sign, a 1950s black telephone, and a digital recorder containing several songs taken from 78s. There was a stack of 78s on a nearby chair, some of which Gregory played on the gramophone. Finally, he greeted the audience, and went into his typically humorous story-telling and singing of songs from his voluminous recording output. Gregory performed on his acoustic guitar with pickup, and also with old 78 recordings. He then introduced his drummer, Josh Hermsmeier, who operated solely on a snare (mostly with brushes), assorted child toy shakers and noisemakers, and a cowbell. The assorted toys were resting on the side of an old beat-up leather covered suitcase. Leaning against the suitcase were assorted drumsticks and mallets. One must understand that a Gregory Page performance is an unpredictable thing, and it is more like performance art with a musical predominance. There is humor, sometimes ridiculous, sometimes poignant, sometimes subtle, but always interesting and often endearing. Story-telling is an essential part of his performance. The music is a mix of folk and modern Americana style, Irish folk, and popular music from the great depression era and earlier. His fingerpicking style includes elements of Southern Appalachian picking. Another part of a Gregory Page performance is educational, luring the audience into an appreciation of songs and singers long lost to history. His demeanor is gentle and often slightly self-deprecating in a humorous manner. The quality of his performance is impeccable as is his recorded output. Another drummer, Owen Burke, was in the audience. Owen is a multi-talented artist, hand-crafting guitars, ukuleles, and other string instruments, as well as displaying his art at Art on 30th Gallery. For the last selection of the evening, Gregory coaxed Owen to come on stage and perform on the snare. With two drummers on stage, Josh picked up the various toys he brought to the show, plus pulling off the wall some of the string instruments on display (made by Owen) and for sale. Owen, as usual did not limit his playing to the snare, tapping out rhythm with a variety of pitch on chairs, signs, walls and even the instruments Josh was playing. It was free form organized lunacy without deteriorating into cacophony. It was a relaxing yet stimulating evening.
Tonight we are headed to a house concert entitled “Strings of Thought”, performed by Caitlin Evanson, Pedro Talarico, Jamie Shadowlight, and Nico Hueso. And tomorrow morning we are going to Urban Solace for breakfast where we will hear Plow, including Mark Markowitz and Dane Terry. I will say more about these in my next blog post.
In Other News
Within my collection of recorded works are many spoken word albums covering a variety of subjects. One thing anyone who knows the Popeswami should know by now is that I have a perverted interest in the drug culture as it developed and influenced society, especially the arts, from the 40s through the present. Some of this includes “scare tactic” recordings issued by various religious and political groups and passed-off as educational albums in the late 60s and early 70s. There will be more about those in a later post. Right now I want to focus on those recordings from the scientific, philosophical, and artistic communities regarding such matters.
- Albert Hofmann – LSD: My Problem Child. We begin with the Swiss chemist who accidentally discovered the psychoactive powers of d-lysergic acid diethylamide tartrate-25, better known as LSD, in the Basel, Switzerland-based Sandoz Laboratories in 1943. He had first synthesized LSD on November 16, 1938, but had done nothing with this 25th lysergic acid derivative until April 16, 1943, when he accidentally had some of the drug absorbed through his fingertips. So by accident, he discovered the wild effects of this drug. On April 19th he conducted an experiment, this time purposefully dosing himself with 250 micrograms of LSD, and then riding his bicycle home. That famed bicycle ride has been the subject of many psychedelic rock bands from the 1960s, as well as by the proponents of the use of LSD who have declared April 19 as “Bicycle Day”. Here is what Hofmann reported after the accidental exposure to LSD on April 16, 1943:
“…affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After about two hours this condition faded away.”
This is a quote from his 1980 book, “LSD, My Problem Child.” Hofmann gave a talk at the 1983 Psychedelics Conference in Santa Barbara, with the same title. That talk has been recorded for posterity. I was able to find and purchase a CDr copy of this recording which is quite illuminating. Dr. Albert Hofmann died in 2008, at the age of 102.
- Humphrey Osmond – The Early Days: Mescaline Opens Huxley’s Doors of Perception. This talk was also from the 1983 Psychedelics Conference in Santa Barbara and was issued on cassette, with a very limited CDr release. I was fortunate to purchase a copy of the CDr. Dr. Osmond was a British psychiatrist who was working in Saskatchewan, Canada in the early 1950s at a psychiatric hospital where, looking for a cure to schizophrenia, he performed experiments on schizophrenic patients with LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs. In 1953 Aldous Huxley initiated a correspondence with Osmond with regard to his experiments. Osmond met Huxley later that year in Los Angeles where he supplied Huxley with a requested dose of mescaline and supervised Huxley’s trip. Huxley later wrote a book about his mescaline experience titled “The Doors of Perception”. Osmond is credited with the invention of the word “psychedelic” to describe hallucinogenic drugs. This happened through his correspondence with Huxley on creating a term worthy of these hallucinogens. Huxley wrote, “To make this trivial world sublime, take half a gram of phanerothyme.” Osmond responded with his own rhyme, “To fathom Hell or soar angelic, just take a pinch of psychedelic.” Osmond first used the term “psychedelic” in public in a talk he gave at the New York Academy of Sciences in 1957. The term means “mind manifesting” based on the Greek words “psyche” and “delos”. In the recording, Osmond recalls those early days and his associations with Huxley.
- Aldous Huxley – The Human Situation, Volume Two: Visionary Experience. A rare CD of this lecture from 1961 in Los Alamos which discuses psychedelics as well as other concerns. It was not released until 1969, and was later reissued on CDr. Huxley, who as a novelist was famous for “Brave New World,” also wrote of his experience with mescaline in his book, “The Doors of Perception.” This book was the basis for the name of the rock group, The Doors. The Elektra record label insisted that the band shorten their name from Doors of Perception to simply The Doors, which they did and the rest is history.
- Gerald Heard – Rebirth, from the 3-LP set “Explorations Volume 2, Survival, Growth & Re-birth,” from 1961. Heard was a philosopher, historian, and science writer who advocated for the use of LSD. On this recording he deals with psychedelics, invoking the Tibetan Book of the Dead amidst organ interludes. I obtained a digitized copy on CDr from The Barrie Family Trust which owns all of Heard’s illustrious output. I would love to obtain a copy of the two original 3-LP box sets he produced in 1957 and 1961 respectively.
- Alan Watts – This Is IT. This is a 1962 recording by British philosopher and writer, Alan Watts and assorted friends. Many consider this to be the first authentically psychedelic music album. Watts has many spoken word recordings, but this is not one of them. This is a music album, consisting of free form improvisation using drums, French horn, piano, lujon, and bass marimba as well as vocals consisting largely of wild cacophonous chanting. Watts was fascinated by Eastern religion and culture, and this comes out in his lectures as well as his recordings. This album relates directly to his book “The Joyous Cosmology.” It is a tough listen, but once you get into it, is quite inspiring. I was lucky to get a CD version of this before the price went out of reach.
- Timothy Leary, Ph.D., Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., and Richard Alpert, Ph.D. – The Psychedelic Experience: Readings from the Book “The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on The Tibetan Book of the Dead.” Recorded in 1966. This is the first appearance of any of these three famed psychologists on a commercial recording. Timothy Leary was soon to record several more albums in 1966, and a lecture by then Richard Alpert at the 1966 LSD conference was released many years later. Ralph Metzner did not release recordings on his own until decades later. This recording is exactly what it says. Timothy Leary does the reading. Someone rings the bell signifying the change in phases of the trip, and who knows what the third person does. Maybe it was their trip. Note that it has been claimed that this was the first time the Tibetan Book of the Dead was associated with LSD, but as stated above, Gerald Heard beat them to the punch by three years.
- John C. Lilly – E.C.C.O. Earth•Coincidence•Control•Office, from 1993. John C. Lilly was a physician, neuroscientist, psychoanalyst, philosopher, writer, and inventor. He is known for his consciousness research using isolation tanks. In the early 1970s, he was introduced to the psychoactive drug, ketamine. He had been introduced to LSD in the 60s. During this time, he was in contact with Timothy Leary and Ram Dass (aka Richard Alpert). In 1974 his research using these drugs led him to conclude there was a certain hierarchical group of cosmic entities, with the lowest being the E.C.C.O. Out of these studies, Lilly concluded “For the first time I began to consider that God really existed in me and that there is a guiding intelligence in the universe.” The E.C.C.O. recording from 1993 incorporates electronic and ambient music with dolphin sounds and Lilly’s voice. Music was provided by P.B.C., Spice Barons, and Heavenly Music Corporation. The CD is credited to Lilly but it is not known how much involvement he had in its creation. Much of the spoken word snippets on this recording come from a 1988 cassette-only release, “The Cogitate Tape” by Lilly. The dolphin sounds most likely come from a 1973 Lilly release “Sounds and the Ultra-Sounds of the Bottle-Nose Dolphin.” This is one of the most unusual albums in my collection and is very authentically psychedelic.
- Timothy Leary, Ph.D. – LSD with Bonus Tracks, from 1966. The bonus tracks are from a later time, including the infamous dinner party attended by Leary and G. Gordon Liddy, and Leary being interviewed in 1967 at the height of the hippie movement. In the title recording, which is broken into 13 segments in the CD version, Leary poses frequently asked questions about LSD and gives his “authorized” answers. Actually I find the bonus tracks to be much more interesting but it is an historical recording and Leary was in some respects accurate regarding the use of LSD.
- Richard Alpert, Ph.D. – 1966 LSD Conference, University of California, San Francisco. As a gift for providing a copy of “Love Serve Remember” to the Ram Dass Tape Library, I received cassette copies of “From Bindu to Ojas” as well as this rare copy of a lecture given by Richard Alpert before his trip to India where he took on the name, Ram Dass. It is quite interesting, as this includes pre-India stories as well as his thoughts on the potential use of the drug for autism and artistic enhancement. I copied it to CDr, but then sent the tape to electronic music artist, J.D. Emmanuel, who was more than happy to professionally transfer it to CD for me since he had never heard it before, himself.
- Ram Dass – Here We All Are (1969) with bonus “From Bindu to Ojas” (1970) which accompanied the first edition of the book “Be Here Now”. This is a four CD set. Here We All Are was the first recording of Ram Dass lectures after his return to the USA in 1969. First pressings were unauthorized and had speeded-up audio so they could fit the lecture onto three LPs, giving Ram Dass almost a chipmunk sound to his voice, but was later released by Ram Dass as a 3-LP box set (still with sped-up voice). The CD version brings his voice back to normal. This is straight lecture for three CDs. The fourth, bonus CD contains music from various artists associated with Ram Dass as well as chanting and lecture. The bonus CD is simply titled “Be Here Now” and has no division between selections and no credits to the music, unlike the original LP.
- Love Serve Remember – Ram Dass and Various Artists, from 1973. This is a 6-LP box set and I was lucky to purchase a near mint copy. I transferred this to CDr, and made a copy for the Ram Dass Tape Library since at that time they did not have a copy. Later I noted they obtained the masters from the ZBS Foundation, which first issued the set, and they were offering the collection as a download at minimal cost. This contains radio station call-ins to station guest Ram Dass, as well as readings from Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist holy scriptures by Ram Dass, music by both Krishna Das and Bhagavan Das, as well as by Amazing Grace, The Sufi Choir, Mirabai, Guru Blanket, Sarada and Rabindranath, Berkeley Community Theatre, The Brothers of Mount Savior Monastery, and an uncredited Buddhist monastic chant. This is one of my favorite sets.
- Ralph Metzner, Ph.D. – Bardo Blues and other songs of liberation, from 2005. While Ralph Metzner was part of the Harvard University psychology team researching psychedelic drugs, along with Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert, he primarily stayed behind the scene rather than release recordings of his lectures. There are some unauthorized releases from the 1983 LSD Conference, and a few others, but nothing authorized until 2005 when he tried his hand at music. Here we have simple songs that subtly lay the foundation for mapping consciousness, and teaching us about our human incarnation, from birth to the beyond. A hidden gem.
And that is it for now. Some of these recordings are easily available at your favorite online music store, but others may not be so easy to find. I will share more as time goes by. As for now, I am back on the road again, but will make an effort to post more often as work allows. Aloha.