Thursday, February 23, 2006

Out On the Town

Debbie Harry sang an incandescent version of Roxy Music's "More Than This" (well it's really Bryan Ferry's tune all the way, and Bryan would have been proud--must tell him) tonight at the 3rd annual John Giorno Poetry Festival at what is fast shaping up as one of the city's premier cutting edge cultural institutions: the Rubin Museum of Art.

She and longtime Blondie partner Chris Stein and bassist Fox rounded out a bill which included a wired, skinny-ass Jim Carroll (looking really good) reading from a new novel in progress about a young artiste tyro and a Geldzahler-esque curator (shades of Wyndham Lewis' "The Apes of God"--although Carroll views his jejune painter/naif sympathetically, Lewis through a prismatic, jaundiced eye). Sonic Youth-er Lee Ranaldo read some of his new poems, several derived from the random textual spew of recent internet spam proliferation ('twas Lee who encouraged me early on to continue developing my 30's Chinese pop arrangements after performing them at a wedding in Chinatown which he also attended)--and Giorno started the festivities by knocking the living bejesus out of his own work, his own words, from memory, pacing the boards like a balletic prize-fighter and rolling out images in an incantatory sprechtspiel (always thought he was one of the greatest word-slinging performers going in realms poetical--which reminds me, I am improvising on Sunday with another formidable shadowboxer of the immanent, Bob Holman, at his Bowery Poetry Club hang).

Anyhow a whole gaggle of folks showed up including the ubiquitous Steve Paul, who figured in my last posting (and who come to think of it was living quite large last year in a huge two story loft in the infamous old Bowery building/ex-Y, ze building which also houses the infamous William Burroughs Bunker: if memory serves me well, Giorno owns that building). Also ran into sex outrider/ringmistress Veronica Vera, who I haven't seen in oh 'bout a dozen years or so since starring her as the ultimate Vampira in the video for my song "Vampire Circus" (free mp3 download coming soon to my homepage)...and she looked radiant as I remembered was a nicely nicely NYC-ly kind of night out!

Sunday night at the Avalon (shades of Bryan Ferry again! club's the newly renovated old s'Limelight), David Johansen and the New York Dolls gave probably the best rock show I've seen in town in a couple years--and it may have been the best Johansen show I've ever seen, period. Made a point of catching the Dolls' first reunion show at London's Royal Festival Hall in 2004 right before the Magic Band started a concurrent tour in Amsterdam, and while that show was good (and boasted an appearance by Arthur Killer Kane shortly before his untimely demise--plus backstage cameos from Sir Bob G, Mick Jones, Chrissie Hynde, and the Meltdown Festival's curator for the duration Morrissey), this one was light years better. Steve Conte was really laying it down on guitar, Syl Sylvain more than held his own (particularly appealing was his rendition of Johnny Thunders' classic "You Can't Put Your Arm Around a Memory"), and the crowd was going nuts (a really young, glammed-out kinda crowd too, stayin' up late on Sunday as it was President's Day on the morrow). Good to see the legendary Night Bob back in action doing front-of-house duty on the board (and general tour managing), and me and my boy Bob Strano chilled upstairs in the dressingroom/backstage belfry (joint's an old unconsecrated church) for a couple hours max'n and relax'n with the lads and lassies before the Dolls went down onstage and made their midnight creep...New York Dolls Rule!

And the week before, night of the big blizzard, my downstairs neighbor Scott called with a free ticket to Phil Lesh and Friends at the Beacon--and hey! Presto! Dope fumes so thick "you can get a contact high!" (question--what movie is this line from? first correct answer to wins a copy of my new DVD "Russian Fireworks--Gary Lucas Live in Saint Petersburg"), lots of genial dancing in the overflowing aisles (including meself--some of the Dead tunes really caught me in their one wheel turnin' sway)--and at intermission I ran into my friendl Larry Campbell's mother Maggie who sheparded us backstage where I said hi to Larry who was pickin' up a storm that night on all manner of stringed instruments--and then I had a sweet reunion with old friend and songwriting collaborator the mighty fine Joan Osborne (who looks fantastic onstage and off--mamahood sure does agree with her!)--Joan really contributes so much to the front line of this show, beatific and totally mesmerizing to the eye and ear (and what a voice...and I've worked with some of the best). And then in walked Warren Haynes, who I last caught in London with Gov't. Mule, Warren was also guesting at this show, and we, another fine night of good music and good company in New York town!

and when I left the theater

the snowflakes were falling thick and fast

as the wind whipped them up to a white froth

and the city never looked so beautiful.




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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Gettin' Hungry

Checked out my sax-man Jason Candler's other aggregation The Hungry March Band last night at CBGB's Gallery (well he's also in Earth People, a whole other ball 'o con-fusion), and lemme tell you, they were gooooood! Most fun I've had with my clothes on in, well, I ain't sayin' 'zactly, but fun fun FUN with a capital (read High) PH count, the 25 or so boyz 'n grrrrrls spilled over the tiny stage with a gaggle of cheer-leadin' baton twirlers and assorted camp followers writhing most lasciviously afore and above 'em (one Hungry gal spread-legg'ed and dangling her tootsies over the crowd in the flying Sea Bee's rafters even), prancin' and a dancin' to the razzmatazz oompah these katzenjamming kidders wuz laying down! It was some sorta pot-luck party whereby ten bucks at the door gotcha a paper plate full of all the veggie chili, cous cous, chocolate chip cookies, delicious pink polka dotted cake and outa the box Nabisco wheat thins you could eat (my kind of smorgasboard!), then the Hungry's played their pulse accelerating big brass band derangements of, well, sort of Balkanized and Vulcanized klez, hysterical Bulgarian party music a la Ivo Paposov, even a Pigbag cover thrown into the mix, and they actually got my jaded self up on my feet grooving, I even climbed a chair so's to get the full monty 'o moves being served up deliciously hot onstage (really cute band in other words, lotsa feminine pulchritudinous display in full and not so full marching band regalia, and lotsa hot-lipped blowing on various reeds and brass implements by the boho boys in the band and much tribal thumping and strutting)--best big band dithyrambic throwdown since McCullough Sons of Thunder played a couple years ago at this underground watershed at the cusp of the Brooklyn Bridge (exactly) wherein the likes of David Byrne even locked hands in a group snake dance and joined the festivities to shake 'em on down... legendary NYC mover and shaker Steve Paul was there too, of Steve Paul's Scene fame (late 60's club apex of rock civilization for a minute, when Hendrix and Morrison would come by to jam with Larry Coryell), manager/enabler, record mogul and visionary motor-mouth (Morrison's favorite speak-artist) who's got a new website you should check at

Then they had an open mic portion of the program and the wonderful Taylor Mead, playing hooky across the street from his regular Friday night Bowery Poetry Club residency, and still blazing trails many many years after "Pull My Daisy" (he has a retrospective at the Whitney Biennial April 1st and 2nd, don't miss this if you're in town) shone forth with a scabrous poem about the Statue of Liberty and sex in the park, I was coaxed into performing (didn't take much, I was so energized by the aforementioned spectacle) and I played an instrumental version of "Fata Morgana" (fully mixed band version mp3 courtesy of the great Harold Burgon coming soon, keep checking my homepage) on Jason's strat to good effect, then checked out the human beat box/Lord Buckley-ish shenanigans of Zeroboy, a Downtown performance fixture/comedian who managed to do a scary impression of Dick Cheney duck-hunting in the midst of his topical toe-tapping reads on Iraq et al--somebody get him on Comedy Central immediately, no lie, check out his website at, uh, well look it up, gotta go out now to the movies to check out this Spielberg/Tony Kushner confab, more later soonest...




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Friday, February 10, 2006

The Luke Sells Out

Yup, played a sold-out Golem performance last night, second one in a row (after selling out the Bristol Watershed Media Centre in September), this one at the fantastique Rubin Museum of Art (see one of my earliest blogs). May have possibly been the best performance I've ever given of this work, which I literally have performed hundreds of times since debuting it in 1989.

And there sitting in the packed auditorium was Verna Gillis, the prime mover/enabler for the piece itself, as Verna originally hooked me up to receive a commission from the BAM Next Wave Festival in 1989, mandate being to create an interdisciplinary work with another art form... I chose to create a silent film score: voila, The Golem.

And as this was the opening night of the Rubin Museum's new exhibition "Holy Madness", something I know a teensy bit about (a wizard, a true staretz...) I felt in excellent company, nestled amongst the luminous tantric art a'shimmering off-the-wall...

And as I sampled the shu mai in the new candlelit K2 Lounge, the museum looked absolutely radiant by night...shame I had to work (just kidding)... the tantric spirits depicted in the luscious paintings adorning this exhibition seemed to come adrift from their framed moorings, flying down from the upper galleries to seek sanctuary in the basement auditorium as I was playing (felt extremely inspired in this atmosphere, and night of nights). Lots of friends showed up, including Brian Cullman, who had recommended the gig to Tim McHenry the Museum's artistic director. I'm still buzzing from the night's good vibes (although when I do sell out a show, I am very very sad to see people get turned away...).

Had a lovely encounter earlier this week with Miss Pamela Des Barres, venerated uber-groupie, celebrated author of "I'm With The Band", and still an eye-full towering inferno of fabulous anectdotal flotsam and jism viz. her droll account of her teenage (and beyond) exploits with Meeeeeeek (Beefheart's dismissive, cock-a-snoot pronunciation of the Jagger-ed one's forename), Jimmy the P, Waylon the J, hot Burritos' #1 and #2 Graham 'n Chris, etc, etc, you know the drilled...

anyway Pamela was being interviewed by my old friend Mark Petracca for his hot new webzine, and so I tagged along for the ride, which included a free lunch (there is so such a thing!) at this great new joint The Cook Shop in Chelsea...seems sexual pioneer Pamela's best friend growing up was Victor Haydon, a/k/a The Mascara Snake from the "Trout Mask Replica" carnivale, actually Victor and I bonded on the set of "Doc at the Radar Station" (Sound Castle Studios in Glendale) way back in the 1980's, really really sharp acerbic guy (he described the interior contents of Jeff Tepper's parents' suburban house-in-the-Valley as looking like furnishings that might have come from "a plundered castle"). By then, Victor had totally morphed from the bearded Flaming Creature-esque Pasha depicted on the back of "Trout Mask" into a sleek, button-downed, clean shaven, very chipper chopped and channelled serious artist. Pamela says he is painting up a whirlwind on the left coast and I'd run a link here to his art but his site seems to be down for now--pity, as i've seen some of his paintings before. and they are incredible...

My friend Mark a/k/a Dusty Wright asked Pamela if she had ever been immortalized in song, and she mentioned that she always reckoned that "Miss Pamela" by some group or another might be about her, she couldn't remember who recorded this track exactly but yrs truly opined that it was in fact the mighty Orchestra Luna out of Boston who waxed this opus back around 1974 for their one and only Epic lp, now long out of print --a really great unsung group ( big, generally uncredited, influence on early Talking Heads), with 2 great sexual pioneering frontmen in Rick Kinscherf (later Rick Berlin) and the late lamented Peter Barrett --plus Randy Roos on guitar (one of the best I've ever heard, really--caught another great guitarist that summer, David Landau, Jon's bro, who was playing with the Chris Rhodes band, who also hailed from fact, saw both guys play at Preston's Airport Lounge out at the, well, airport, in Nantucket, summer of '74, when Danny Fields and Susan Blond showed up on an extended lig to prepare some press hustle or another to launch Orchestra Luna's imminent album release--and as I had an ongoing summer gig playing solo guitar at the Brotherhood of Thieves there, we three hung out quite a bit beach-wise, and otherwise)...the golden-voiced kewpie doll/ Meatloaf foil Karla DeVito was also in this, the ORIGINAL Luna. for a spell, along with Rick Kinscherf's sister Lisa...must find my vinyl copy of their album and run off that song for Pamela quick as sadly, it never did come out on CD (and probably never will--c'mon, Sony Legacy, do the right thing here).

Anyway I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Pamela, who still looks quite magnificent--and did you know she was one of the charter members of The GTO's? (Girls Together Outrageously-- original riot grrrrrls....listen to them sing "The Captain's Fat Theresa Shoes" about you know who on their Zappa-produced album artifact. Jeff Beck plays on it too. Jon Pareles and I used to groove to this song all the time when we were fresh men up at Yale). She's also a valuable American cultural historienne, and a damn good writer (Dylan said so), and--a torrid encounter between the sheets (of foolscap)!

Ms Des Barres' upcoming new ms. is entitled (but of course): "Let's Spend the Night Together"--

Bada Bada, Bop Bop, Ba Dah Dah!

(Love that Meeeeeeeek....)



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a FYI - Orchestra Luna was released on CD by Sony Japan, and can still be found on import ...


7/02/2006 1:58 PM  
Blogger Gary Lucas said...

good one, fareye, will have to get this

7/02/2006 7:51 PM  
Blogger Anita said...

I will be featured in the One Night Stand section of Miss Pamella's new book, Let's Spend The Night Together. Elvis Costello was my night in shining ardor! ROCK ON.

7/05/2006 3:55 PM  
Blogger Gary Lucas said...

ROCK ON indeed, Anita!!


7/05/2006 4:24 PM  

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Baby It's Hot Inside...

Gary and Taj Mahal backstage at Merkin Hall, NYC during the New York Guitar Festival

photo by Glynn Emmerson | Click to enlarge (hosted by flickr)

Had a coupla very sweet gigs here last week, starting with a particularly piquant set at Merkin Hall (y'all know 'bout Merkins, doncha? Cue Eddie 'Cleanhead' Vinson's "Gimme Back My Wig"...And don't you forget Peter Sellers' hilarious turn as President Merkin Muffley in "Dr. Strangelove", the most doubly Yonic moniker ever, the Yin to the Yang 'o the name of the former master of Yale's Jonathan Edwards College, the duophallically dubbed Beekman Cannon).

This was my second turn this season playing as part of the NY Guitar Festival, this 'un a Tribute to Skip James, pour moi the deepest and darkest and quirkiest, most original blues artist ever. In fact, James Hillman, former Director of the CG Jung Institute, heard some of Skip James's music on a student film soundtrack during his guest lecturing stint at Yale in the early 70's and instantly pronounced Skip James one of the most resonant, archetypal, and hypnagogic musicians he had ever encountered.

Last time I played up at Merkin (smile) it was as part of another NY Guitar Festival thingy, this one a Tribute to Robert Johnson. Next day I got a call from a guy at Maysles Films (Gimme Shelter) who had accidentally caught me playing live on John Schaefer's radio show that night (they were simulcasting our performance), and thought I'd be a good bet to score their new documentary "Lalee's Kin" for HBO (heard my music and dug it and wanted more of it--always the best kind of professional engagement, for sure.). This time around I started the show playing solo and gradually worked up to the full band--plus got to wax enthusiastic about Skip James and spar and josh with the emcee John Schaefer: I had to, if only for the benefit of the paying customers, who might not of known too much about Skip James as the program notes were kind of light on details of the Skipster's sad saga (as in, nada). Fantastic full house went bananas for us at the end (and throughout the entire set, come to think of it).

Saturday I did double duty sitting in at the Bowery Poetry Club with my ancien ami des Rounders Sacre et Modale, the one and only Peter Stampfel, now a co-leader of maestro John Kruth's new acoustic ensemble. Along for the easy ride was playwright/actor/and former Rounders drummer (and former Patti Smith squeeze) Sam Shepard and his son Walker, both of 'em on dueling banjos--and both of them also super nice and friendly as could be (and both of them gorgeous hunks, according to Caroline). I got in on the fun and played a few numbers with them like The Stones' "Factory Girl", and then did The Du-Tels duo thang with Peter (we did an album awhile ago entitled "No Knowledge of Music Required", which got our mugs in Rolling Stone and our asses onstage in England, Ireland, Scotland and Holland). Nice to flex those beatnik folknik nudnik muscles again (and don't bogart that bluegrass, please). Then poet emeritus and BPC proprietor Bob Holman read a couple of his Cap'n Billy's whiz-bang golly-whomper world beating pomes while I complemented his verbal bravado spinning 220 thread-count sheets of sound ceiling-wise where they stayed up there 'a billowing all night long, long may they wave, matching his every utterance with appropriate ear-cleansing kling klang...sounded so DAMN good we're gonna do it again and do it some more that's nasty by golly that's nasty for shore on Feb. 26th, same hour same joint...

then it was Gods and Monsters time and I kid you not, Billy and Ernie (and sax roamer Jason Candler) get better and better and better as we started out standing (always beats sitting) proud to steal her anything she sees and standing firm delivered de letter on a whole batch of new songs--been rather happily inspired lately, truth to tell :-) (and I will draw a discretionary veil over the corporeal surroundings and goings-on at this particular, uh, juncture).

Delightful Pakistani homegirl Shaista Hussain was inda house looking foxy as usual, and Emmy award-winnin' tv producer Peter Bull, late of Bill Moyers' parrish, and...and...saw my former teacher, the legendary editor and writer Bill Zinnser, do a wonderful gig playing jazz piano with his partner the New Yorker cartoonist Arnold Roth on tenor at the Cornelia Street Cafe, was it on Thursday last week? Dunno, exactly... been working hard! (Beats hardly working...)

and Sunday, my day of rest (not) we had a little reunion party at Camino Sur (great new Latin American eatery up in Hell's Kitchen next to the Zipper Theater on 37th Street) for old friend Bill Mosely, who was in town (well out at the Meadowlands to be precise) for the Chiller Theater Horor Convention where he signed autographs by the blood-spattered gazillions for myriad fans who dig his Choptop and Otis grotesqueries/Grand Guignol personas the most, as rendered in genre classics (well sorta) "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Two" and this year's worldwide hit "The Devil's Rejects"...during dinner we got an actual cell phone call from the irrepressible Lucy Chase Williams (see my last couple postings) to whom we bequeathed our horror film franchise at Yale upon graduation,and to whom neither Bill nor I had spoken to in about 31 years (s'hard to keep up sometimes)-- she sounded like she's doing great, working for the likes of Tim Burton and other Horrorwood notables..good on ya Lucy!

and--our dinner was graced with a surprise pop-in (pace Larry David) from the brand new COO of Time-Warner, our way longtime (35 years) good friend Jeff Bewkes ("Thank you Mr. President!")--Jeff looked great, young, rangy and sharp as ever, and regaled us (me, Caroline, Bill, and our other old friends Gib Smith and Jimmy Angell, along to fete Bill on one of his rare NYC appearances) with tales of hobnobbing with the likes of Ted Turner, and what it's like riding the corporate whirlwind from his aerie high atop the new Time Warner complex on Columbia Circle. Jeff's off this week to (hopefully) straighten out the AOL situation--best 'o luck JB! (The Other JB). .. now if Bewkes can only get David Chase to give Alabama 3 much deserved on-screen credit at the end "The Sopranos" for the use of their "Woke Up This Morning" as the show's signature theme song week after week, would be a beautiful thing indeed...

"I gotta go now...gotta go now" (The Kinks)




Anonymous Sign Twirlers said...

I like the Kinks quote at the end. Muswell Hillbillies is thier best album.

10/03/2008 2:11 PM  

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