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Nightranger: Everybody Talk About Pop Muzik 

Thursday, Apr 29 2010
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View more photos in Lina Lecaro's photo gallery, "Nightranger: ASCAP Pop Music Awards, Faux Femmes at the Roxy, and More."

Who had time for a restful Coachella come-down with two of rock's reigning queens of noise hitting the city last week? Courtney Love and Joan Jett brought their moxie and mayhem to L.A. stages, The Music Box and Hollywood Park (racetrack), respectively, both with much fanfare and Web buzz. The former even offered a free listen-thru of her (w)hole new album for those who clicked "Like" on Facebook (we're still trying to figure out how to "Unlike"). But for Nightranger, it was another female who made the grueling desertfest a quickly fading memory: the legendary Patti Smith, who graced The ASCAP Pop Music Awards Wednesday night with a short but exquisite set.

We may have missed her Hammer Museum show a few months ago, but the recipient of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers' Founder Award proved that no matter the setting, she's incapable of phoning it in. Last Wednesday's performance (featuring hits "Because the Night" and "Gloria," among others) was an invigorating climax to an atypical industry schmooze-fest. The awards kicked off the "I Create Music" ASCAP Expo 10 at the Renaissance Hotel featuring panel discussions with everyone from John Mayer to Quincy Jones throughout the week. A delish dinner was highlighted by entertaining anecdotes from host Paul Williams and dynamic songs from the likes of Jason Mraz, The All American Rejects (doing the vengeful confection "Gives You Hell") and buff, multi-tatted rapper Flo Rida, whose rendition of "Right Round," included a shirtless ride on a minion's shoulders throughout the banquet room. The Killers were on hand to accept the Vanguard award and hit-maker Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald scored "Songwriter of the Year." He had five chart-toppers last year, including Katy Perry's "Hot N Cold," Britney Spears' "Circus" and "Right Round" (well actually, most of the credit for the latter goes to trannytastic Pete Burns of Dead or Alive, as the hook samples his "You Spin Me Round" — and this being ASCAP, he is listed first in credits).

click to enlarge PHOTO BY LINA LECARO - Detox-Icunt intox-icates at the Roxy.

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Samples, radio and TV broadcasts, even ringtones: If a writer's music is heard somewhere, ASCAP — and competitors BMI (Pepsi to ASCAP's Coke) and SESAC — make sure they get paid. The group's diligence means songwriters don't get taken advantage of and in some cases, get to eat. While accepting her award, Smith acknowledged falling on tough times as a single mom after her hubby Fred "Sonic" Smith passed away, and said that the checks she got for "Because the Night" helped her get by. "I just thought you did your record and that was it," she said. "And the first time I got these checks, I said, 'I already got paid for that song.' So I'm grateful in good times, and I was very grateful in hard times." Though Smith was honored for inspiring others, there was no mistaking that the event itself was about mainstream popularity. As one of our fellow diners said as the awards commenced, "There is no pretense here, it's all about sales." The music biz may be dying, but obviously the fittest (and finest?) continue to flourish. Perhaps former Hotel Café fixture Katy Perry — clad in light-up $2,500 Jimmy Choo shoes(!) — illustrated the feast vs. famine reality of the biz best when she shamelessly said to Gottwald on stage, "Thanks for making me rich!"

KICK OUT THE GLAMS
Speaking of — cough, cough — women in rock, The Roxy last Friday night was oozing with feminine ferocity of the faux (but still ultra-foxy) variety when Tranz-Kunt-Inental debuted its new midnight show. Hard to believe it's been well over a decade since the wild glamorama known as Club Makeup brought its glitter-drenched, cross-dressin' mess to the stage. The monthly club, held at the El Rey Theatre,

garnered tons of press back then, and the E! network even did a series about the bacchanal called Hollywood Nights.

It's a different world, of course, but drag queens and trannies rocking out are still a thrill, it seems. Kelly Mantle and Detox-Icunt in particular, are hotter than most "real" gals (definitely hotter than C. Love and her doll parts, that's for sure). We think the guys in the former Makeup band — Xander Smith (Run Run Run) and Charlie Paulson (currently working with Motörhead) — are onto something conjuring the spirit of the defunct club's live show. On Friday, they even interjected a contemporary twist, surely influenced by the night's DJ Paul V (Bootie LA): live mash-ups. Highlights included Mantle's Runaways/Peaches mix "Cherry Bomb ... The Pain Away" and the ratty-wigged wonder of Odyssey mag's divalicious train wreck Candy Ass on the Psych Furs/Sex Pistols rager "Pretty (Vacant) in Pink." Look for an all new tranz-endent spectacle at the end of May.

BURN RUBBER
Dress-up of an entirely different sort got us to Amoeba Records this past Sunday afternoon. Our pal Lonnie Marshall (Weapon of Choice, Trulio Disgracias) held a parade and jam session inside the store (to the delight of surprised shoppers) featuring characters and kids from his new children's TV show, Lil' Big Ups. Fishbone's Angelo Moore was on hand to lead the percussion and Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea brought the fam (model wifey Frankie Rayder and their daughter). Nightranger did, too. We were treated to an inventive presentation, including kids playing handmade instruments (made with rubber bands), break-dancing dinosaurs and boombox-headed robots, and pint-sized rappers who used the store speakerphone in lieu of mics. Now that's teaching tykes to be creative! Something like a funkier version of Yo Gabba Gabba, the show, currently in development, features choreography from Toni Basil, guests spots from Les Claypool and Stone Gossard and artwork from Overton Loyd (George Clinton/P-Funk's artist). Check out lilbigups.com for info and clips.

Reach the writer at llecaro@laweekly.com

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