By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
1) Playing the Baked Potato in Studio City, Stern is deep in a solo, her eyes closed with an expression of complete involvement; behind her is the very sensitive and thoroughly amazing Texas drummer Brannen Temple. Some of her notes come from especially interesting places — mistakes, some would call them; I think of them as inspirations. Listening, I notice that I’m breathing more deeply. Later I ask how she feels about taking chances. “Maybe I should be a little more cautious,” she says. “But it’s a conversation. Sometimes with Brannen, it’s go-go boing-boing. . . you throw caution to the wind. He has a thing. He understands the guitar, he really does. And the people that play it.”
2) Stern is having an idea session at her hotel with songwriter Larry John McNally, with whom she’s collaborated in the past; she still likes to bounce ideas off him. She’s working on “The Road to Hell,” a lazy blues with a twisty riff that will end up on Love Comes Quietly. He suggests switching a couple of words for rhythm, and she likes that. Then he wonders if she should change the lyric about Canal Street; many listeners won’t know where that is. “The song needs to be in New Orleans,” says Stern. “Even if people don’t know it, they’ll feel it.”
3) Stern isn’t imposing, but she’s studied Shaolin martial arts, and she’s strong — look at the way the Tibetan character tattooed on her left arm ripples when she heaves her amp onto the stage. Some help with the effects case? Sure. But I get the feeling she’d really rather lug it all herself. It’s just one of the things she does.
4) Stern has ordered Japanese eggplant and guacamole: She needs to watch her carb intake since the family diabetes flared up a couple of years ago. The food comes, and she doesn’t even have to taste it; we’re in America. She grabs a bottle of Tabasco. Turns it upside down. And dumps it all over everything.
Leni Stern, Sat., July 22, 7:30 p.m. at Genghis Cohen, 740 N. Fairfax Ave., L.A.
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