Joe Strummer Tribute,

Key Club, December 22

Words and photos by Aimee Candaleria

Three Bad Jacks pay tribute to Strummer.

This evening a packed house came to the Key Club in remembrance of Joe Strummer who passed away five years ago on this day. Had he not died, Strummer would have been 55 this year, and most likely still playing clubs and making records.

Joe Strummer's passion and energy was very much beyond his years, and even five years so, for many of us at tonight's tribute, we can still feel the great loss ofsuch an influential man no longer with us. As John Lennon may have been to those a bit older, for my generation, he was someone whose message was heard and understood by many people, races, and cultures – a message undiluted by his passing.

The crowd was a mix of generations that would have made Strummer proud: ‘ol school 70’s punks reliving the fierceness of their youth to an eclectic mix of teens and twenty-somethings who were there because it was a night for Joe and to celebrate what punk means to them. The bands' wide-ranging sound made a nice complement to the crowd's diversity.

First band up was Hellride whose line-up includes Mike Watt (Minutemen, and more recently Iggy Pop's bassist), Peter DiStefano (Porno for Pyros), and Stephen Perkins (Jane's Addiction and Banyon). Their performance hit the right pace for those in the audience and got us warmed up with a fast and furious 20-minute all-Clash set.

Mike Watt with Hellride

Next the brilliant David J (of recently re-disbanded Bauhaus and Love & Rockets) graced us with his style and “classical” rendition of “Straight to Hell”. I had heard about his version, and it is a beautiful cover accompanied only by an acoustic guitar and cello.

David J

Rockabilly/punk band “Three Bad Jacks” are hell-raisers who shook up the pace by cranking up the volume and energy and got the audience moving. Their turbo-fueled “punkabilly” Clash set did the job for most of the audience.

Melodee Fernandez slowed things down with her heartfelt espanol version of “Spanish Bombs,” joined by Zander Schloss on guitar.

Zander Schloss & the Wilderness Years filled the stage to capacity with a rotating roster of at least ten musicians, including Flea on trumpet. This part of the evening covered more of Joe’s solo songs written during his “soul searching years,” including those made with his band the Mescaleros. This set was a touching homage to a man who had become reinvigorated by creating music in his last years. Olé Joe!

Zander Schloss & the Wilderness Years

Le Plebé, straight out of the Bay Area, turned in a ska-infused Clash set. A brilliant cover of “Revolution Rock” was the kicker for me, and the audience soon had a pit going in front of the stage. Their performance perfectly amped up the energy in the room.

A “special” performance by Love and Rockets was just that. A one song cover of “Should I Stay or Should I Go” was played. More of a teaser for the audience, as they left the stage only to return and invite people to join and sing the song with them. I lost count, but that stage was full, and everyone was having a blast.

A very special thanks to Chris Salewicz who was our host for the evening and shared excerpts from his Joe Strummer biography, Redemption Song. DJ Shepard Fairey (OBEY propaganda artist) kept the vibe flowing from behind the decks throughout the evening.

Love & Rockets and a whole lot of their friends

And lastly thanks again to John Graham Mellor, aka Joe Strummer, who left us a legacy of passion and rebellion in our hearts and soul.

Flea on trumpet with Zander Schloss

-Aimee Candaleria

LA Weekly