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 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.

Save Music in Chinatown 8 preview with Dennis from The Crowd and FourEyedFour

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The Crowd at Alex’s Bar (November 21, 2015)

Social media can be the devil but I don’t think Wendy and I could have started the Save Music in Chinatown series of fund raisers for the music program at our daughter’s school without Facebook. I had posted something about our show with the Adolescents, Gears, and Mike Watt & The Secondmen and got a comment from Dennis Walsh, who asked, “Why haven’t The Crowd played one of these shows?” I replied that that he should introduce me to them and then he responded that he was the drummer!

So it was only a matter of time until The Crowd (as heard on the massively influential Beach Blvd. compilation as well as the first Rodney on the ROQ compilation, both on Posh Boy Records) would play for us and, even better, they’ll be co-headlining with our mutual friends in Bad Cop/Bad Cop as well as FourEyedFour (which Dennis plays in with two fellow ex-members of The Fly Boys) and San Pedro’s own Bombón. As the show draws nearer, I thought I’d ask him a few questions to get everyone amped up for it.

Can you tell me about the relationship between the Fly Boys, Crowd, and FourEyedFour?
Whoa, that’s a long story. The Fly Boys go way deep. We did our first recording in ’76, at that time with Jimmy Decker on vocals. It was much more of a Bowie/Roxy Music kinda thing, but we always had our own songs, too. After seeing and hearing what was going on, we moved our music in the punk rock direction and pioneered the Day-Glo West Coast pop punk sound. So the Fly Boys broke up in 1980, right after Frontier Records put our debut and their inaugural release. D’oh! You know, shit just happens.

Shortly thereafter I was asked to join The Crowd. I officially joined in September 1980 and have been driving the bus ever since. I really don’t anyone else truly can!

And FourEyedFour is really a long and strangely connected story. John Curry, Scott Lasken, and I are three-fourths of the Fly Boys and Four Eyed Four. Our good friend Nick Hanick, who is also in FourEyedFour has been a Fly Boys fan since way back then. So, yes, there’s always been a connection among us. Sometimes really good, sometimes not so much. But right now with some serious aged wisdom, all things are good in all camps!

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Dan from the Adolescents and Dennis from The Crowd supporting Save Music in Chinatown at Alex’s Bar.

Any particular details or stories you recall about playing or going to shows at the Hong Kong Café or Madame Wong’s?
I think I could write a book about all that. The different vibes of the two camps seemed so vivid and important back then! How silly now. So, yeah, the bands that played the Hong Kong–the punker bands and fans–always had a problem with the new wave people going to Wong’s. Not that anything bad ever went down, but there were just separate camps in the courtyard. Everyone would hang out at the bar of the restaurant right in between the two clubs. I don’t know what it is now or what it’s real name was then, but we all called it Rosie’s–like Rosie’s bar in M*A*S*H because that show was big back then!

But Martin, far and away, one of the greatest experiences of my life happened at the Hong Kong in 1979. The Fly Boys were headlining and had been on Rodney’s show the Sunday before. So there we were when in walked Rodney with David Bowie, who I think had just started dating Iman, plus a bodyguard. The whole room was just buzzing. They sat at the end of one of the long tables and Bowie had a Bud and was smoking Marlboros, and all four of us were against the wall about three feet away just being stupid. Duh. Wow. Fucking Bowie! All I could think was, “Holy shit, there’s our idol and nobody has the balls to say anything.” I swear to god, I was the first one to walk up to him and I will never ever forget the conversation. I said, “Mr. Bowie, my band and I are huge fans of yours. Will you please stay and watch us play?” He asked me, “Will you play good then?” I said, “I will do my best,” and he said, “I will stay then.” I even got an autograph for my now second ex-wife, who still has it and remembers that moment, too. He stayed and watched whole show through two encores! Later, I told John hat our song “I Couldn’t Tell” sounded like a sped-up “Man Who Sold The World.”

It’s cool that you’ll be playing with Bad Cop again. How do you know them and how did they end up on the Crowd tribute comp, Hwy 39?
Karma, kismet, right place, right time, human electrical rock ’n’ roll connection… I had gone to Alex’s with my co-producer Nick Hanick go check out Duane Peters band for a potential slot on Hwy 39. At the time I had already started early recordings, but was still kinda looking around for other bands. Duane had to cancel because his van broke down, but Johnny Cerneka (sound man at Alex’s and my record’s engineer at Pot O Gold) told us there was this gurl band filling in at the last minute. Nick and I were like, “Okay, whatever, let’s just check them out.” There was maybe 40 people there and the band set up and seemed so confident yet amazingly happy just to be there. By the time they were halfway through their second song, they owned me. I looked at Nick, he looked at me, and we were like, “Fuck, yeah. Gotta have these women.” Right about then, I get a text from Johnny who was maybe 10 feet away in the sound booth telling me these women had to be on the record. I met them and confirmed them for Hwy 39 that night. They chose “Run For The Money” out of the songs available and then they fucking owned it!

Martin, I love these women! They are an amazingly great bad–far and away the best all-female band working today. I will stand by my word the day we recorded: “Seeya on Saturday Night Live. Please don’t forget about me, ‘cause y’all gonna be huge!”

Love what you’re doing, too, and hoped all my ramblings help. All my bands and I will always be on board. Thanks, bro!

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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.