Mazzy loves Little Feat!


If you don’t (yet), her’s a primer on this great American musical institution:


While I’m at it, here’s another. Well, 3/4th’s American anyway; Nick Lowe is English. Little Village (just a coincidence ;-) live is one of the greatest musical experiences of my life. One of the few "Super Groups" (John Hiatt, Ry Cooder, Nick Lowe, Jim Keltner) who in my book actually lives up to that title. Their single album was a disappointment, they were better as a group on John Hiatt’s fantastic Bring The Family album. Here they are on The Tonight Show, the only time I can remember in which the musical guest is given the time to perform two songs:




@palasr: At the risk of appearing to be posting the following in an attempt to impress ya’ll (Aw geez, here he goes again ;-), it’s just too "fun" to not share it with those who (hopefully) know me better than that.


I couldn’t help but smile when I read you say you had seen the members of Los Straitjackets eating lunch with Nick Lowe. Straitjackets’ bassist Pete Curry (he was the one who appeared subtly Irish, with pale skin and very light strawberry blonde hair. In costume he is the LS member whose mask resembles The Monster From The Black Lagoon) and I met in Homeroom on our first day in 7th grade, and were soon eating lunch together for the next three years (at which time he left Cupertino for Santa Cruz, so as to not have to---like David Crosby---cut his hair. Cupertino High School had a dress code---the boys’ hair couldn’t touch their ears or the collar of their shirt, Santa Cruz didn’t).

Pete was the first musician I met, and in 7th Grade he was playing snare drum in the Hyde Jr. High School Orchestra. I was taking guitar lessons, and we got together with a kid on my block who had an organ, doing some jamming on Ventures-type songs. Pete had a drumset, and after he moved a coupla blocks away from me in the summer between 7th and 8th grades we would walk to his house everyday after school, where I watched him playing along with British Invasion group records (The Kinks were a favorite).

He let me sit down and give it a go, but I had to play left handed on his right handed set (ala Dennis Wilson). He eventually relented, letting me switch around the set. I was soon hooked! In 9th grade he joined his first garage band (The Elements Of Sound), as did I (I replaced the departing Gary Andrijasevich---who was leaving to join the now-legendary Chocolate Watchband---in The Squires. Gary played snare drum in the Cupertino High School marching band and orchestra. He was three years ahead of Pete and I, a Senior while we were Freshmen). I was 14, and had just gotten myself a set of Ludwigs and Zildjian cymbals).

Pete not only gave me start on drums, but he was also the first audiophile I knew. By 1968 he had assembled a little system comprised of a Rek-O-Kut transcription turntable with a 16" green felt-covered platter (acquired from a radio station in Santa Cruz) with Shure M44 cartridge, an H.H. Scott 299 integrated tube amp, and a pair of 8" 2-way Scott bookshelf loudspeakers. Sounded real good to me! I followed his lead, getting myself an AR XA table with M91e cartridge, a Fisher X100A integrated tube amp, and a pair of AR 4x speakers. Even better!

As I was getting into high end audio the 1970’s, Pete was getting into recording. He got himself a Teac 3340 4-trk. machine and some mics, and started doing a lot of recording. I got myself a Revox A77 and a pair of consenser mics, and started making live tapes. In 1978 Pete moved to L.A., and encouraged me to do likewise (he told me about an L.A. band that had just gotten signed---The Knack ;-). In late-76 I had moved to Portland Oregon, to lick my wounds after spending two years recording demos with a songwriter who ended up deciding he wasn’t going to pursue a career in music (NOW ya tell me! ;-) . In Portland I was making a living playing music five nights a week, but playing in bars and taverns was getting old.

I arrived in the fall of that year, moving into the house in North Hollywood that Pete was sharing with the guitar played he was working with (the guy drank Vodka for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and made into only his late-30’s before croaking). He was drumming with the guy, but moved over to bass so we could finally play together in a band. It was a great trio, but the guitarists’ songs were not very commercial (no "hooks"). I moved back to San Jose, and Pete headed out to Arizona, where he worked in construction for a coupla years.

We lost touch for quite a few years, but reunited in L.A. in the mid-90’s, by which time he had become very involved in the SoCal Surf music scene, in which he had made quite a name for himself. He had his own 5-pc. band (The Halibuts), for which he wrote the songs, played lead guitar (Pete plays drums, electric bass, and guitar), produced, and recorded. He had progressed to a 3M 2" 16-trk. recorder, with all the great mics (Telefunken, Sennheiser, Sony, Electrovoice, etc.). He was also playing drums in a little 3-pc. instrumental combo named The Hillbilly Soul Surfers. When the bassist left the band Pete again moved over to bass so’s we could play together.

I believe Pete was still in the HSS when he got a call from Danny Amis of The Straitjackets, offering him the bass player position in the band, which he accepted. It’s hard to believe, but that was a quarter century ago! In the mid-2000's an old friend of Pete and I called and said The Straitjackets were playing on a cruise ship with The Ventures, heading from Long Beach down to Mexico. He talked me into it, and we spent a few days drinking lots of beer and listening to LS and The Ventures every night. The Ventures sounded pretty tired, The Straitjackets on fire.  


Historical correction: If you look up The Chocolate Watchband on Wikipedia, you will see it stated that Pete was the original drummer in the group. That’s incorrect. What happened was the first Watchband show was organized and announced, but as fate would have it on the day of the show Gary suddenly became very ill, so Pete was hurriedly brought in to sub for him (the older brother of a friend of Pete and I was the organist in The Watchband). It was held near the beach in Santa Cruz, a mobile generator brought in to power the amps and PA. Garage Band fanatics turn green with envy when I tell them I was in attendance at the first Watchband show.

@bdp24 - Great story!  Thanks for sharing.  Los Straitjackets plays in the area frequently, as Eddie Angel was born in Albany NY.  Aforementioned dive bar is in Troy NY (best chicken wings in the entire area, but I'm biased) and has a small concert venue across the street called Hangar on The Hudson.  Quite a few interesting acts pass through those doors - NRBQ, Commander Cody, JD McPherson, The Cactus Blossoms, etc.  Not bad for a capacity of 250.

@palasr: Now THAT’S a hip club! NRBQ came through Portland a while back, sounding great as ever.

Back when the albums were new Pete really liked the first Nick Lowe album, but I liked his second more. Dave Edmunds had become involved with Nick by then, to the benefit of both of them (Dave isn’t a songwriter, but he’s a hell of a guitarist and producer). Actually, on Dave’s second album (Subtle As A Flying Mallet) each LP side ends with a live cut, with Dave being backed by The Brinsley Schwarz Band at a club in Wales (Dave is Welsh), of which Nick was the bassist. And then Nick and Dave did Rockpile together. Now THERE was a band!

The last time I saw Nick live was at The Pantages Theater in Hollywood (a great Art Deco room), with his regular (at that time) band, all English guys. The reason he engages the services of The Straitjackets now is that they and he are both on Yep Rock Records, a great label with a fantastic roster of artists. Also on the bill at the Pantages were Dann Penn & Spooner Oldham, who were just as wonderful as you may imagine. Quite a night of hearing superior songs being played and sung!

Oh, and speaking of JD McPherson, I’ve been meaning to check him out for a while now. Seeing (and more importantly hearing) him playing lead guitar in the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss videos finally propelled me to pick up his Undivided Heart & Soul LP. Haven’t listened to it yet.

I still love the clubs, which thankfully is where most of the artists I want to hear perform. That and small theaters.

Little Feat is my all-time favorite band. Unfortunately I was never able to see them with Lowell George but saw them many times during the mid-80s Texas Twister era. Incredible musicianship and they gave you your money's worth. One of my most prized possessions is a 50 cent thrift store copy of Feets Don't Fail Me Now that is a Warner Brothers white label test pressing. It doesn't sound like anything else I own and I have over 2,000 albums. I love it so much that it has a slight Warp and I can't bring myself to have it repaired for fear of something bad happening. The Rhino reissues are intriguing but I have not bought anything on Rhino in many years because I had a run of bad luck with terrible pressings. I had to return three copies in a row of the Grateful Dead American Beauty album due to dirt pressed into the album as well as skips and pops. Perhaps their quality control is better now but for the money I am leery.