Thank you for Save Music in Chinatown 11: Rikk Agnew Band, Ford Madox Ford, Rough Kids, Florida Mistakes

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My friend Daryl said that our eleventh Save Music in Chinatown show might have been his favorite one so far. And who am I to argue with a guy who holds down the fort at RazorCake magazine and KCHUNG?

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Of course Daryl and Gabie at KCHUNG are two friends who always carve out time from their radio shows to help us get the word out. I think it’s really cool that Gabie’s Crystalline Morphologies program is not only scheduled early enough that Eloise can go on the air, but is also archived for streaming and downloading.

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We get help from so many friends. There’s also Cyrano and Lotus (a.k.a. Steve and Max) at KXLU’s Molotov Cocktail Hour. On their show, we had Rikk Agnew on the air to pick songs from the great new Rikk Agnew Band LP, and vintage solo stuff, Adolescents, and Christian Death, and share Hong Kong Cafe anecdotes from his storied punk rock life, too. Super cool!

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At the show it itself, we saw a lot of old friends coming out to support the cause. There was LP3 and Carrie. Louie played for us with Evil Hearted You way back when and will return with LP3 & The Tragedy sooner than later.

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Bob Forrest has played for us twice, solo at our first show ever and then with The Bicycle Thief. Holy cow, I can’t believe that reunion happened at one of our little shows. Were you there?

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And how about longtime supporters Lisa Fancher from Frontier Records and David O. Jones from Alice Bag Band, Carnage Asada, Deadbeats, and a bunch of other cool projects coming out early enough to see Rough Kids?smic11-rough2

More old and new friends: Paul from Rough Kids with Paul and Nick from Escape Artist. Nick played for us in FourEyedFour and will come back with 16 Again one of these days!smic11-roughflyboys

There was an Alice Bag sighting, too. How rad was it for her to come out to Chinatown and say hi to Chip, who was co-headlining our show with Ford Madox Ford. Decades ago, they used to play in the Bags and Dils, respectively, right across the courtyard at the Hong Kong Cafe!

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I was especially happy to see my friend Jaime not only get time off from work to attend the show but jump on stage to sing with the Rikk Agnew Band. When I was in college, I used to go to the Anti-Club almost every weekend to see him play with the Chemical People on bills with ALL and Big Drill Car.

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After seeing him so often at shows and then Hollywood Book and Poster we became friends, breaking the barrier between stage (even ones a foot tall) and crowd. One small step on the way to putting on these benefit shows…

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Of course, there was my good friend Nate who helps behind the scenes of every single show. Although he’s elusive like Bigfoot, this time I got a blurry picture of him with Chip and Scott from Ford Madox Ford. But how did I miss photos of Vicki, Horace, and Clare–the latter two all the way from London?smic11-chipnatecrew

Besides being excited and grateful to the Florida Mistakes, Rough Kids, Ford Madox Ford, and Rikk Agnew Band and everyone who showed up, I don’t have a real story to tell except that a lot of people out there want to make a difference and help out in some way.

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I don’t have a radio show, play in a band, release records, or make awesome cookies. But if I can help those people get together to help kids in Chinatown receive music education at their public school, what can you do? What difference can you make?

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Thanks again to the Grand Star, the bands, the bake sale crew, raffle donors, everyone who came, and everyone who spread the word. We’ll do it again at the Grand Star on Sunday, May 7 and be ready for some top-shelf garage punk rock ‘n’ roll…

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Best blurry picture ^ v Gung hay fat choy!

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Save Music in Chinatown 11 preview with Matt from Ford Madox Ford and Cameron from The Florida Mistakes

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I was actually okay with The Rikk Agnew Band, Ford Madox Ford, and Rough Kids comprising our next Save Music in Chinatown benefit show. What a rad lineup featuring two legends of L.A. punk rock (Rikk from Adolescents, Christian Death, D.I., and a ton of other crucial bands as well as Chip Kinman from the Dils and Rank & File in Ford Madox Ford) and some of my favorite local punks, Rough Kids.

Then Matt from FDMDXFD mentioned there was this new local group called The Florida Mistakes that he really dug. And, oh yeah, his daughter Cameron is in it.

Whoa. How perfect would it be to have a father and daughter–each playing bass–at one of our benefits for music education? Here’s a quick Q&A with Matt Littell from FDMDXFD and Cameron Littell from The Florida Mistakes. Both excellent bands that I’m stoked to have play for our cause.

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MW: Matt, when did you get into bass?
ML: I started on guitar when I was 14 living in upstate New York. We had a college radio station in my town that was playing an amazing selection of punk rock and it really got me fired up to play. Literally no one in my town played bass so I bought a ’70s Gibson SG bass, spray painted it pink, and made the switch. That turned out to be a amazingly fortuitous decision and I’ve been in love with the bass ever since!

MW: What are some of the bands you’ve played in before Ford Madox Ford?
ML: I’ve played with a laundry list of bands thought the years. The ones that make the most interesting cocktail party stories are Terri Nunn (Berlin) and Quiet Riot.

MW: You can’t not tell…
ML: It sure seemed easy to “make it” in Los Angeles: It’s 1990 and I’m fresh off the boat in L.A., couch surfing and looking for work. Only days in, I answered an ad for “major label band seeks bass player” and mind-bogglingly found myself on salary playing bass for Terri Nunn’s solo record. She had just gone solo from Berlin and was trying out a more rock vibe. With the phenomenal Randy Castillo on drums (Ozzy Osbourne, Lita Ford), I felt like I won the lottery. Terri eventually ended up going into a less rock direction with other players. Fortunately, one of the tracks Terri, Randy, and I had recorded, “Confession Time,” was used as the lead song on her debut solo release.

MW: And Quiet Riot?
ML: The day I played bass for Quiet Riot: Apparently Chuck Wright, Quiet Riot’s then bass player missed his flight or some such snafu. The year was 1995 and after falling far, far from the heights of US Festival headlining status and “Cum on Feel the Noize”/MTV mania, the rest of the band was now valiantly holed up in some low-budget hell-hole studio in the valley trying to resurrect their career.

They had hired a songwriter I had once worked with to provide the song that they hoped, mistakenly, would put them back on the charts and turn it all around. The chosen song was a upbeat number called “Pretty Pack of Lies,” super catchy and memorable. This was the peak of the Seattle grunge sound and QR was hoping to hitch on to that bandwagon with this single.

They had tracked the song but it was in danger of being cut from the album if they couldn’t record a bass part and mix it by the release deadline. With their bass player awol and the song in jeopardy, my songwriter friend could feel his song publishing windfall evaporating and reached out to me to play. I had played bass on the publishing company’s demo for the track and he knew I had the song down.

At this point Quit Riot was in that very awkward stage where they were no longer cool in a “cool” way and were not yet cool again in an ironic/sentimental way. Offering a album credit I didn’t want at the time and saying that they didn’t have anything in the budget to pay me, I said no.

After receiving multiple calls from my friend refusing to take no for an answer, I caved and found myself spending a day with Kevin DuBrow, Carlos Cavaro, and Frankie Banali in the studio. They turned to be really sweet guys and it’s a blast to be a (tiny) part of Quiet Riot history.

MW: Cameron, did you grown up watching your dad play in bands? What did you think? When did you pick up a bass?
CL: I knew my dad was a bass player from band memorabilia around the house but he took bunch of years off so I didn’t see him play until I was a teenager. When he started playing again professionally I thought was it was cool! I started playing bass when I was 18. I got offered the bass spot in The Florida Mistakes and I’d never played bass before. I grabbed one of my dad’s basses out of the living room and jumped in.

MW: When you were starting out, did you go to your dad for tips or want to figure it out on your own?
CL: I figured it out myself. Bass playing is not rocket science…

MW: Tell me about The Florida Mistakes–what you do, how you got together… I don’t know much about your band yet!
CL: The Florida Mistakes started from a senior year high school project. In my English class they let us pick any creative outlet we wanted and work on it one day a week for 20 percent of our grade. We got an “A” and just kept rocking! We just released our debut EP and you can hear us on Apple Music and the other streaming sites. Check it out!

MW: Matt, it seems like everything you can get jaded about (from holidays to going to shows to Disneyland) becomes more interesting and fun again when you have a kid. Is it like that at all with music?
ML: Yes, I love Cameron’s band The Florida Mistakes. They rehearse in my living room and I find listening to them to be inspiring. It truly brings me back to my teens hearing it. They have been packing clubs at all their shows and a massive mosh pit always breaks out. It takes a lot of willpower to keep myself from jumping in!

MW: Cameron, now that you’re in a  band do you have access to your dad’s gear?
CL: Hell yeah! I literally have access to the coolest vintage gear a bass player could ever dream about; 70’s P-basses and vintage Ampeg SVT rigs!

MW: What do you think of playing a show together?
CL: It’s going to be awesome, I don’t have to shlep all my own gear!
ML: It’s a high point in my life for me. I can not wait!

MW: The benefit is for music education at the public elementary school. Any thoughts on the cause?
CL: It’s an awesome cause, I wish my elementary school had offered music education.
ML: We are stoked to contribute to this cause. Music education funding has been reduced or eliminated everywhere and it’s unfortunate. Thanks for including us in this, Martin!

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Check out Ford Madox Ford and The Florida Mistakes and as well as the Save Music in Chinatown event page on Facebook and ticketing on Eventbrite!

 

Save Music in Chinatown 11 preview with Chip Kinman of Ford Madox Ford, The Dils, Rank & File…

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Since we started organizing the Save Music in Chinatown benefit shows, a lot of cool musicians from the neighborhood’s old Hong Kong Cafe days have come out to help raise money for music education at Castelar Elementary. There was Hector Penalosa from The Zeros, Chuck Dukowski from Black Flag, and Mike Watt from the Minutemen. And then there’s been The Gears, The Crowd, Channel Three, and The Adolescents. Wow.

Our eleventh show will be a double header of legends including the Rikk Agnew Band, with a key member of The Adolescents and Christian Death, as well a Chip Kinman from The Dils and Rank & File in Ford Madox Ford. Earlier in December, I went to Godmother’s in San Pedro and talked to Chip for a few minutes before Ford Madox Ford played a furious set that left his guitar destroyed.img_0640

You know, I found an old Hong Kong Calendar where The Dils played back to back nights. Do you remember those days?
I do and I don’t. I remember being there but I don’t remember the shows themselves. I remember the Hong Kong Cafe because we didn’t really play there that often. It was kind of special and it was kind of late in The Dils’ career.

But a two-night stand must have been a big deal.
It was a lot of fun and we were kind of a popular band, haha.

Although you didn’t play in Chinatown a lot, I love the idea of my favorite underdog cultures colliding there: my immigrant ancestors and Los Angeles punks. They don’t overlap much.
Not a lot. But I think artistically they did. In the early days of punk rock, when we first started, we were into reggae, Bruce Lee movies, and Burroughs. All that stuff seemed to blend together. One thing I remember about playing there was Golden City, which was my favorite restaurant at the time. I always get the same thing there, the noodles.

From the Grand Star, where our benefits take place, you can see the front of the old Hong Kong Cafe.
That’s awesome. I’m looking forward to it.

And old Dils songs like “Class War” and “Mr. Big” sound brand-new after the election.
They have legs, that’s for sure, and I do listen to it. A lot of the Dangerhouse stuff… I love punk rock.

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What about new stuff?
I listen to all kinds of stuff. People might not believe this but I like a lot of hip hop. It takes more chances and I like that kind of stuff. But it’s nothing I’d ever do.

How amazing is it for your new band, Ford Madox Ford, to be on the same label as X and then be working with Chris Ashford, who recorded The Dils, Blackbird…
That’s the best. I’m making my next record with Chris, who I made my first record with 40 years ago! Chris is absolutely great–such a great should and such a good spirit. I would do anything for him.

I love the idea that you guys are not only lifer and survivors but are still doing cool new stuff.
I hope so! We’re having a great time and when we play a lot of people who used to go shows come out to see us. But I’m actually trying to figure out how to break out because we have Dewey Peek in our band who’s 21. He’s a total badass and I want his generation to come out and see him.

I feel like in L.A. we have RazorCake and Burger compressing everything that’s old and new, punk and garage. It’s all the same now.
It is! It’s funny because I used to say four guys for blues, we’re strictly a blue bland. But on the way here I thought, “We’re a fucking punk rock band.” What we’re doing is radical and fun.

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What were you doing after Blackbird and Cowboy Nation and before Ford Madox Ford? Were you making music the entire time?
I put out something called My First Punk Rock Record by a band I put together with my wife, Dewey Peek, and Sean Antillon, and it was real ’77 style. All down strokes, all 1/8 notes, real fast–like 15 songs in 11 minutes. It came out on Fundamental Records from Chicago. It’s very hard to find but it’s a really cool record.

That’s some technical talk about punk rock. Did you take classes or anything when you were a kid?
I picked up guitar in high school, but my brother Tony was in high school band. He had more of a music education and could read music. Dewey took trumpet classes in school! It helped him out because he has a really good ear and hears stuff that I don’t.

So how did Ford Madox Ford happen?
We’ve only been together since last November, so it’s only been for a year and one month. My wife said, “Kids are grown up and out of the house. Start playing music. That’s what you do, so do it.” Supporting the family was pretty much a full time job, that’s for sure. So I said all right and dove right in.

It may not make money, but it’s cheaper than therapy.
And it does make a little money, it turns out. There’s the 7″ single on vinyl

It’s great. I like the B-side even more than the A-side!
“Before the Fall” is the first song we wrote. It has a first song quality and is so bizarre because we don’t know what we’re doing. And then we have the digital release, “Let’s Work Together.” And we’re working on the album now, and it will be out in all formats in early 2017.

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Get more info at the Facebook event page and tickets at eventbrite.com