Save Music in Chinatown 8, before and after

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Save Music in Chinatown 8 took place a couple of weeks ago at the Grand Star, but it feels like just happened.  Seeing The Crowd at Fitzgerald’s in Huntington Beach (above) and Bad Cop/Bad Cop in Pomona (below) last weekend might have something to do with that. Bands take note: If you thought I went to a lot of your shows before you played one of our benefits, you won’t be getting rid of me afterward.

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But back to Save Music in Chinatown 8. Placing flyers at record stores and on friends’ refrigerators all over town and posting about the shows incessantly on Facebook–you never know when one thing will actually lead to another. After writing about our gig with the Adolescents, Gears, and Watt, Dennis Walsh commented, “Why haven’t The Crowd played one of these shows?” I asked him to introduce me and he replied, “I’m the drummer!”

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I’d already been stalking The Crowd for years and started saying hi to Dennis whenever they’d play Alex’s Bar. But then last summer, I saw him hanging out with Channel Three (above) and BC/BC (blurry and below) who just played with the Adolescents and Weirdos at the Roxy. The right place, the right time, just like the song goes. We agreed that it would be rad if The Crowd, FourEyedFour (another one of Dennis’s bands), and BC/BC played for us.

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All the bands were as awesome as they were nice. Bombón (who I immediately contacted after seeing them play a RazorCake show at Pehrspace) pulled aside their last kid-sized cat shirt for Eloise and made everyone smile and dance with their DIY surf sounds. FourEyedFour sounded as amazing as their self-released CD, really smart and slightly psychedelic pop with a ton of punch.

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Bad Cop/Bad Cop are a dynamite live band with massive hooks, killer harmonies, and so much upside. It’s a good thing we got them right before they took off for Europe to tour with Snuff… (Aaron Brown, a member of the BC/BC gang as well as an old friend, made an animalistic rock ‘n’ roll flyer for us, too.)

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The Crowd’s set was raging and full of angst and slurred lyrics and banter, and could have taken place at a dive bar instead of an afternoon matinee. And I thought it was great. Our idea has always been to have all-ages shows that kids attend but never to have kiddie shows. How great were the legendary Beach Blvd. and ROTR Vol. 1 comp contributors and how cool was it to have Tony Cadena sing “Liberty” with them? Yet another great Tony moment at Save Music in Chinatown to file away…

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When Eloise started attending Castelar Elementary as a kindergartner, Wendy and I had no idea we would start organizing benefit concerts or that we would be doing it this long. But with help from parents who run the bake sale, friends who donate to the raffle, and all the selfless bands who volunteer to play for us, we can not only help keep the defunded music program going but start a scene. How cool is it to build on the legacy of the old Hong Kong Café and Madame Wong’s? How great it it for kids to be included?

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And now that Eloise is a big second grader, she has become more involved in our shows than ever. In addition to making a flyer, she introduced all the bands, danced in the front row for all of them, and even chose records to play on our friend Daryl’s KCHUNG radio program to promote the show.

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Sometimes I stress about our shows not getting enough attention (what part of punk matinees with a bake sale to help kids in Chinatown isn’t awesome?) or big enough crowds for the bands (the lineups are way too good for our humble venue). But in the end they’re always perfect: nothing but old and new friends and family. Hope to see you at the next one in the spring.

Save Music in Chinatown 8 preview/interview with Jerico from Bombón

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After seeing Bombón perform at a RazorCake party, I knew they had to play one of our Save Music in Chinatown shows because they were just so. Much. Fun. As soon as their set began, the first two rows of the converted office called Pehrspace became a raging dance party. The San Pedro band’s infectious, totally indie, and mostly instrumental surf tunes touch on Link Wray, The Cramps, and Annette Funicello, and it was impossible not to be smitten by them. In the parking lot, I gushed to one of the members (it was dark and I don’t remember which one) and then hit up the band that very evening with a message inviting them to our next benefit as my guest (and was politely informed that they were busy).

But I persisted, we kept in touch, and it turns out they are not only able to play Sunday’s benefit but they are also friends with Bad Cop/Bad Cop and the other bands love them, too! To get us all extra-amped about the show, I sent over some questions and Jerico (drums) answered on behalf of Angela (guitar) and Paloma (bass).

You three seem to have the best time when you play and you mentioned that you like to play benefits. Where does this PMA come from? And how long have you all known each other and how did you meet?
We’ve been a band for almost six years. Paloma and I went to high school together, but really became friends because of punk shows and our love of music, which is also how we came to know Angela a few years later. We started the band just for fun and it has always been about having a good time. Angela said, “Hey, I wanna start a surf band. You in?” At the time, Paloma and I had little experience on our respective instruments, so we were like, “Sure, why not? We can learn…” And we did. We figured out enough to play a set, started playing shows, and just went from there! It’s been wild. I think we’re able to keep our PMA mostly because playing together is how we escape our otherwise busy, hectic lives. We get to go fun places and meet great people, write, and play rad music. It’s always something to look forward to.

Mike Watt, Saccharine Trust, Recess Records–Is San Pedro as punk as it seems to be?
San Pedro is definitely its own unique island. Pedro punk has a really strong DIY foundation, which is definitely embodied by people like Watt and Todd Congelliere (Recess Records). Our buddy Craig Ibarra wrote a really great book on the history on San Pedro punk (A Wailing of a Town) if you want to know more about it! We have a definite and strong sense of pride, but I also feel our punk community is also extremely welcoming. It’s got friendships and connections all over the globe; once you’ve got a friend in Pedro, you’ve got a friend for life.

I used to see surf bands all the time, from the Phantom Surfers, Bomboras, and Man or Astro-man? to the Pebbles and 5-6-7-8’s, but there don’t seem to be as many of them in the punk circuit these days. How did you get into the genre?
The idea came from Angela. She’s got a really awesome, range in her musical taste which she has shared with us. One of the standouts that I think inspired our sound would probably be Link Wray, but we definitely find inspiration in everything from rock ‘n’ roll to Latin rhythms!

I love your song titles: “El Cowboy,” “King Tut at the Beach,” “Swedish Fish”… Do you come up with riffs and then name them or think of fun ideas and then make them happen?
Thanks! We usually name our songs from the feeling or attitude coming off the riff. “El Cowboy” has sort of a lazy, bouncing along a dusty trail or Wild West showdown feel to it… Our song “Cosmic Surf” brought visions of barreling through deep space on a surfboard, haha! Stuff like that. Our pal Dickey from Tucson named “Swedish Fish.” I forget why. Maybe he was eating the candy. But we try to keep it lighthearted.

What exactly is your connection to Cali Mucho? When I click on your website, I am intrigued.
Cali Mucho is made up of our good pals Rawl (who happens to be engaged to Paloma ^_^) and Kevin. They started their DIY silk screen business in the basement of our old creaky house in Pedro about 10 years ago. They’ve done so much for us over the years–from printing every piece of Bombón flare to helping us get our first record made to traveling the South with us on our first tour. They do a lot of great work here in Pedro and now Kevin is printing it up at a second location in Portland.

At least one of you works with kids. Can you tell me a little bit about why you think it’s important/rad for them to have music education in school?
I’ve worked with children from preschool age to middle school for the better part of the last decade, and I can honestly say that music is so important to early education. Kids  love lto dance and sing, but it goes much deeper than that. Music is so beneficial to young children developing cognitive, social, language, and motor skills. Learning an instrument or being part of some other music outlet can teach children patience, focus, and responsibility and be really great for developing self-esteem. And I know from experience, finding music in my teen years really helped me grow into my own and form friendships and relationships with other music fans. Plus music is fun! And kids need to have some of that in their lives, for sure!

Any thoughts about playing in Chinatown, right by where the old Hong Kong Café and Madame Wong’s used to be?
We’re stoked! Chinatown is awesome. There are so many rad and historic places to play in L.A. and we definitely feel lucky to be part of such a vast scene with so much history.

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Get the latest info on Save Music in Chinatown 8 from the Facebook event page and save some dough by getting advance tickets via Eventbrite.

Save Music in Chinatown 8 preview/interview with Eloise

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Making sure students at an inner-city public school get music education is a worthy enough reason to put on shows, but my wife Wendy and I think it’s important that children are able to attend and participate as well. It’s awesome that our second-grade daughter sees bands carry their own gear into a small venue and play their hearts out for us.

Eloise is also exposed to DIY culture, and has made and distributed flyers and posters, gone on radio shows to promote the cause, and contributed to a zine as well. Lately, she’s been talking about forming a band with her cousins or friends and playing one of the shows. I told her that will require a lot of work before it can happen, but for now she can help out with a short Q&A…

Why should people go to Save Music in Chinatown 8?
Because it helps raise money for the music program at my school. And it has awesome bands and a yummy bake sale. But if you can’t handle loud music, stay home and chill.

Tell me more about the music.
It’s loud and rocking!

But can you dance to it?
Yes, it’s very easy to dance to. Don’t be afraid to pogo!

Isn’t that a Gears song?
Yeah!

They were so great at our sixth show. Who are some of your other favorite bands that have played for us?
Dengue Fever, California, Baja Bugs, Adolescents, Upset, Bob Forrest and the Bicycle Thief–I love them all. I could tell that even the calm ones were really feeling it. They’re all so cool and nice. I look forward to Bombón, The Crowd, FourEyedFour, and Bad Cop/Bad Cop.

Got any favorite Crowd songs that you want to hear at the upcoming show?
“Right Time” and “Hear it on the Radio.” I also hope Bombón plays “La Playa”!

 

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Tell me about the flyer you made for the show.
I love drawing and I love making posters for Save Music in Chinatown. I get to draw monster cats, cats playing guitar, or even Bruce Lee holding a guitar.

Where did you get the idea for the Bruce Lee artwork?
I know that a lot of people in Chinatown love him.

Do you like him?
I love him, too. He’s cool and there’s a statue of him outside the Grand Star. I want to take pictures with the bands there, but it will be after the show because I don’t want to miss any music!

Do you think that enough kids attend our shows?
No, because the only ones I see are my friends and cousins.

I kinda like how I see so many friends and family at the shows.
But other people should go, too!

But wouldn’t kids rather  be watching videos on YouTube or going to Disney on Ice or something instead of checking out a punk rock show?
No way! That’s lame. You should be listening to awesome music and dancing around with friends.

Any tips for young people who are going for the first time?
They should buy earplugs from us. They’re only a dollar and all of the money we make goes to our school.

What are some other bands you’d like to see play our show in the future?
The Go-Go’s, Shonen Knife, Dum Dum Girls, X, AC/DC, Redd Kross, and OFF!

Anything else you want to add?
See you in the pit, but don’t get run over!

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Clockwise from top left: Rachel Haden, Upset, Nimol from Dengue Fever and Tony from Adolescents

Get the latest info on Save Music in Chinatown 8 from the Facebook event page and save some dough by getting advance tickets via Eventbrite.