SCHOOL OF BEEFHEART: A LIVE TRIBUTE TO THE LATE CAPTAIN, BY DISCIPLE GARY LUCAS
We were among the first to report the Dec. 17 death of visual artist Don Van Vliet, who in a previous incarnation had roamed the music world as surreal bluesman and experimental proto-punk Captain Beefheart. Oddly enough, his disciple Gary Lucas had been recently scheduled to bring his Captain Beefheart Symposium to the Echoplex on Thursday, Jan. 13 [see GoLA]. A few minutes after our report we contacted Lucas, who was in transit between Havana and New York, to ask him about the loss of this great musical innovator.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you hear the news?
GARY LUCAS: At the airport, coming back from Havana through Miami on my way to New York.
Were you expecting this?
No, I had lost touch with him for years, but I would always assume he would outlive everybody. I knew he was sick, but I didn't know the exact nature of it. But he had endured it as such a strong individual for years, so it was unexpected.
What made you do the seminar?
I decided more people should know about his music. He should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There's a whole generation of people who don't know who Captain Beefheart was. I asked strangers around the airport and nobody knew who he was. But they didn't know about him when he was on Saturday Night Live or on the cover of Musician magazine, so I just felt it was my duty, and also there were stories that circulated about him and a book that came out that cast him in a very negative light, and I wanted to counteract that. I wanted to tell about the man and his art, which was amazing and life-changing for me.
What years were you involved with him?
From 1980 to 1984. I met him back in 1971 when I saw his debut in New York City at a little club called Ungano's that changed my life. I came away from that show saying, “If I ever wanna play with anybody, it would be this guy and this band.” That was my goal, and then I interviewed him later that year, and we bonded and I stayed close friends with him and then finally we talked about me playing with him in 1975. He was playing with Frank Zappa at that point. He came up to my hometown and I was in between gigs then, but I auditioned for him at a hotel room in Boston and he said, “Yeah, we gotta do something,” and it didn't happen until 1980. And then I followed him both as a manager and as a player with the band, and eventually, it was all I had ever imagined. We did two records, Doc at the Radar Station and Ice Cream for Crow, which came out on Virgin in 1980 and 1982, and then I hooked him up with [painter] Julian Schnabel because he didn't want to do music and had wanted to do painting this whole time, and that's when I said goodbye to him and I hadn't spoke to him since 1984.
Why did he stop doing music?
Because he was very discouraged with the state of the industry. He didn't feel he was communicating. He kept putting out incredibly cool records and he never sold, he hated the business and he hated touring. And he was a great painter — though I always appreciated more his music than his paintings. He was the ultimate influence of my life, he was my greatest mentor.
Why should people who are unfamiliar with his work run and get Beefheart's albums in 2011?
Because he changed the face of music — there wouldn't have been punk rock without him. He was America's maverick genius. He was a completely unique individual.
THE MELVINS MEET JOHN FANTE
The perversely talented Melvins start their residency for Spaceland Productions at The Satellite with a performance of some of their most challenging works. For their Friday, Jan. 7, show, Buzzo & Co. have programmed their last indie album before the explosion of grunge (Lysol, including Flipper and Alice Cooper covers), an anti-Xmas EP (Eggnog) and, strangest of all, their weirdly experimental Colossus of Destiny, a polarizing 2001 album that pays titular homage to one of Los Angeles' greatest literary chronicles. How so? Colossus of Destiny is the ridiculously ambitious masterpiece the antihero of John Fante's underrated novel The Road to Los Angeles dreams of unleashing on the world. Lesser bands might namecheck Fante's Ask the Dust, but leave it to the Melvins to point their brainy fans to the far more obscure prequel, written in the 1930s but only released posthumously in 1985.
MUSIC TO PICK UP/DOWNLOAD
Andy ClockwiseThe Socialite
The Australian-born, L.A.-based schizo-popster will be celebrating the local release of his 2010 album at an all-ages show at El Rey (Jan. 8) with support from Eastern Conference Champions and Abandoned Pools. The album will be in stores in March but there will be a limited number available at the show. Fans will already be aware of the title track from the LP, which is one of the four songs on the Love and War EP Clockwise released in early 2010 for free.
The Beets: “Time Brought Age”
b/w “Pick Another Corner” [Captured Tracks, Jan. 11]
New York garage rockers into demented comics and Velvet-y sounds release neat vinyl 7-inch along with lo-fi full-length Stay Home. The A-side is a loping and sparsely arranged tune featuring a recorder; the B-side takes it back to the garage. Pick it up!
N*E*R*D: The Best of N*E*R*D
[Virgin/EMI, Jan. 11]
This comp lands barely two months after N*E*R*D's latest Star Trak/Interscope release (Nothing), so clearly someone at their former label would prefer we remember Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo and Shae Haley back when they were getting lap dances instead of listlessly droning about girls wanting hot-n-fun. Aiming at new club-kid fans who thrashed to cheeky cocaine ode “Everyone Nose,” cuts like “Rock Star” and a Justice remix of “She Wants to Move” should help it hit its mark.
David Banner & 9th Wonder: Death of a Popstar
[Big Face Entertainment/E1 Music, available now] Mississippian David Banner and North Carolinian 9th Wonder prove that redefining soul music is a task for the South with Death of a Pop Star. Rapper/producer Banner lets 9th Wonder work his crate-diggin' magic and the result is by no means less rap than early Banner classic “Like a Pimp,” but a whole lot classier.
FARTHER AFIELD: THE O.C.: IT'S CLOSER THAN YOU THINK
Like most record swap meets, the Black Market Record Swap Meet is the dream of any fan or collector of punk, garage, post-punk, lo-fi, rock & roll and probably more. But it is quite possibly better than most other record swaps because it starts at noon, thus precluding the need for rising at 8 a.m. on a Sunday and toting along a miner's helmet in order to flip through all the bins at the crack of dawn before it gets picked over. Why not just drive to Amoeba, you ask? No disrespect to Amoeba (we love them!) but the record swap fulfills a primal need for the record addict, hosting curators, private collectors, vendors, indie stores and even just music fans with tables and tables of records in boxes, ripe to be picked through and priced to sell. The collectors' items don't go up on a wall and it costs only $15 to reserve a table if you want to sell a piece of your own collection. Dealers confirmed include Headline Records (post-punk, new wave and much more), Burger Records (high-quality purveyor of new and reissued lo-fi tapes and records), TKO Records (punk rock on wax), Going Underground (more punk on wax) and, of course, Radiation Records. There also will be a taco stand and DJs. Bear in mind that most vendors will be cash-only.
WHAT: A rock & roll record swap with a taco truck, DJs and vendors from all over Southern Cali!
WHEN: Jan. 9, 12-5 p.m.
WHERE: Radiation Records, 1501 N. Raymond Ave. #P, Anaheim
People into weird records used to know Jandek as an extremely reclusive Texan singer who mysteriously released a vast catalog of outsider-art folk music since 1978 through the equally cryptic “Corwood Industries” (i.e., a P.O. box in Houston). The mystery was somehow dispelled in 2004, when Jandek showed up for a gig in Scotland, and he's been performing sporadically ever since. Still, it's a magical, surreal time, made even more so by the fact that he's playing in the creepy, Stepford-like pseudocity of Irvine.
WHEN: Jan. 9, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Crystal Cove Auditorium, UC Irvine, Pereira Drive and West Peltason Drive, Irvine