Save Music in Chinatown 7 photos by Ben Clark

smic7-3I’ve already shared my photos (above) and thoughts on our most recent benefit, and you can check them out at imprintculturelab.com. But then I received images from my photographer friend Ben Clark (maybe you’ve been checking out his images all over the new Jabberjaw coffee table book) and they are worth sharing, too.

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While digital photography has made it easy for hacks like me to take pretty good photos, there’s no substitute for a skilled photography. Rachel’s friends and family sitting on the floor, Nate behind the soundboard–Ben really conveys what the room feels like and doesn’t just take band pics.

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The California image below reminds me of Joe Strummer… And Adam’s Saccharine Trust shirt! Does he break that out for special occasions or wear it all the time?

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Dustin’s expression in this image below is amazing–probably one of the few times he wasn’t smiling during the set!

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How great are Upset? How cool is it that you can see the girls rocking out in front. They raged! Before talking a little bit about our cause and introducing the band, I got to say, “Girls in front!”

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Steve Soto is a legend who has played with so many excellent bands: Adolescents, Agent Orange, Manic Hispanic, 22 Jacks, Punk Rock Karaoke… But his solo songs are simply gorgeous and to see him on an empty stage is actually a little jarring.

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How great are Sean & Zander? And who knew what their stripped-down take on roots and Americana would appeal to the kids so much?

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Proof that the kids love Sean & Zander.

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Thanks to Ben, who doesn’t go to as many shows as he used to but set aside time to attend ours. And all the musicians, supporters, attendees, and friends who helped to make it happen. Looking forward to our next benefit in January!

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Why Save Music in Chinatown 7 is my next perfect day

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In a couple of weekends, we’ll be hosting our seventh Save Music in Chinatown show. Some things haven’t changed since Wendy and I came up with the harebrained idea to try organizing all-ages benefit matinee concerts to raise money for the defunded music education program at our daughter’s public elementary school.

• Castelar still must raise $50,000 annually to pay for music classes for the kids. Our shows can’t pay for all of it but we can make a difference, raise awareness, and foster a community.
• The lineups are stellar, our stash of raffle prizes is amazing, and the bake sale has achieved legend status.
• We still rely almost entirely on word of mouth and I still stress out and wonder when people will start buying tickets, but it always turns out great. (Doesn’t it?)

But some things have changed, too.

• We’ll always appreciate Human Resources for giving us a place to start and grow as well as a connection to the neighborhood’s awesome art scene, but finding a new home at the Grand Star is a step toward carrying on the punk rock heritage and adding to the tradition of the Hong Kong Café and Madame Wong’s.
• We’ve amassed a small-but-dedicated army of friends in awesome bands, rad venues, and DIY media outlets that love the history of punk rock in Chinatown and help us pay tribute to it while helping the local kids.
• Personally, Save Music in Chinatown has been a shift from making things on a printed page to making things happen in real life, but I’m in the process of making a Save Music in Chinatown zine in time for our next show!

I’ve stated this before and I still believe it so I’ll repeat it. When we have a Save Music in Chinatown gig, we’re really make my perfect day a reality (sorta like the ones we used to print in Giant Robot mag). Waking up late and rolling out on a Sunday afternoon when there’s free metered or cheap parking available, seeing a bunch of amazing bands for a bargain price with killer snacks and quality coffee, and being able to take kids if they can handle it. Seeing friends and family who don’t go to as many shows as they used to because of stinky, late night venues full of assholes and poseurs. Being done around 6:00 p.m. so you can grab some noodles for dinner before getting home at a decent hour and being ready to get up early on Monday.

And not only are we helping mostly immigrant kids at an inner city school receive music education, but we are exposing the handful that show up to DIY culture. They get that music isn’t just played by rock stars or rappers at Staples Center but by regular folks who lug their own stuff around and play on tiny stages for friends. And if even lame parents can be part of something cool, why can’t they?

Please check out and share the event page on Facebook and ticketing information at Eventbrite, and hope to see you in Chinatown on Sunday, September 27. Thanks for the support and hit me up if you have any questions!

Below, clockwise from top left: Elvis, Tony from The Adolescents, Donut Friend, Margaret Cho, Scoops Chinatown, and Dan from The Adolescents and Dennis from The Crowd are down with the cause.

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Photo dump with Dengue Fever, RFTC, Haden Triplets, Bad Cop Bad Cop, Obscurer, Telecaves, Marky Ramone, Chain And The Gang…

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How cow, Dengue Fever’s new songs sounded great last night at The Echoplex. They played a really heavy, groovy, and wild 90 minutes and when did Chhom Nimol become Tina Turner anyway? I was extra stoked when, after the set list ran out, they took a request for “Cement Slippers” because it’s cool to see Paul get to unload on the drums.

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Saw so many friends at the show… Fredo was supposed to play percussion but had a recording gig that ended in time to attend the show. Bill Bear made the trip, too. Earlier, Wendy and Eloise came out for the all-ages sound check–a sneak preview for my non-nocturnal family of the band’s Amoeba Hollywood appearance on March 1 and any other matinee that happens to come up after that. See them on tour now!

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More shows… Rocket from the Crypt played two nights at Alex’s Bar to celebrate the Long Beach institution’s 15th anniversary. They didn’t go on until midnight but played a long and totally raging set. What a bash!

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Openers included fellow San Diego rockers Creepy Creeps, who were kinda like a mixture of The Mummies and The Munsters TV show theme. So much entertainment value, purportedly filmed for a video.

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The night before I went to see the Haden Triplets play a benefit for TIOH. Absolutely perfect–and that’s just the siblings’ banter. I’d seen the sisters play with various bands from That Dog to Susannah Hoffs but never together. Never seen seats at an Echoplex show, either.

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Some cool sightings there, too, in addition to Jack Black (above). The first dudes I saw when I walked up to the club’s entrance were Adam Pfahler (Black Ball Records, Jawbreaker, California The Band) and Chris Ashford (What? Records, Iloki Records, Wondercap Records). Both of them are good friends and huge supporters of the Save Music in Chinatown cause, to boot.

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I happened to be in Long Beach the day when Dengue Fever had a record release party at Sophy’s in Little Cambodia. How could I miss it? First they hung out with fans and then they played a surprise acoustic set in a private room. Sweet! Go buy the excellent record already.

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Pizza Wolf’s Harry Jerkface constructed quite a stacked bill at the Redwood two Fridays ago–a rad mix of current punks from SoCal and veterans of the East Bay’s Gilman St. scene: Turkish Techno, Bad Cop Bad Cop, Kepi Ghoulie, Dr. Frank from The Mr. T Experience, and (of course) Pizza Wolf. Proud of myself for not only getting there fairly early but staying for the whole damn thing.

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Thanks to Aaron and Jennie for inspiring me get out of the house and go to the show! Looking forward to seeing his artwork (and merch table skills) and hearing her awesome band Bad Cop Bad Cop (and their new songs) more often in the future.

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Human Resources backbone and Save Music in Chinatown key contributor Grant Capes threw a killer birthday party for himself at the Chinatown art gallery/noise venue before that. His band Obscurer played, followed by Telecaves and CVI. It kinda reminded me of being a college student, going to industrial or goth clubs like White Trash a Go Go or Scream, and being freaked out by a totally different world.

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It wasn’t a show, but I attended Marky Ramone’s booksigning at Vroman’s. He had an excellent Q&A with one of the editors at RazorCake (a zine that I love, but not quite enough to recognize every contributor) and then spent a decent amount of time with each and every fan in line. He and I talked about the Halfway To Sanity and Brain Drain tours and gushed about listening to records in a dedicated chair in front of speakers (or even on a car’s tape deck) instead of on a computer. A real cool dude and badass drummer, and his book is a must for any Ramones fan.

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Just one more set of show pics to dump from my SD card before backing everything up onto the hard drive, and what a doozy. I’ve always loved any band with Ian Svenonious, from Nation of Ulysses to Cupid Car Club to The Make Up (never saw Weird War) and Chain & The Gang is no exception. So stripped down and so brilliant. Openers Sex Stains are always cool, too!

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Coming up: Watt in Long Beach, Adolescents at Amoeba, a free King Tuff show, and LPIII’s new band. Maybe more? Seeya there!