My good friend David Monterey, a singer, songwriter and musician who leads the band, the String Rays, writes the Song Dog Music blog. Recently, the two of us had a long discussion about the Sixties West Coast Music Scene, particularly what we experienced as kids in the Bay Area.
Last night (May 7, 2016) myself and the amazing experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser gave a reading to a standing-room-only audience at The Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland, CA.
Henry opened with a 20 minute solo electric guitar set of improvisations utilizing several guitars and a bank of effects pedals as well as a strange box that produced drum and bass based on what Henry played.
Then I joined Henry on the stage to read ten excerpts from my new rock ‘n’ roll coming-of-age novel, The Flowers Lied.
This reading was very special because Henry was accompanying me on guitar and machines. We had done this only once before, back in 2014, at Down Home Music. That was a great show, but it was totally different. Completely different vibe.
I read five longer excerpts with an “interlude” devoted to a musician or song between each. The first was about Skippy James and “I’m So Glad,” then Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” and Neil Young. Below you can hear “Interlude #4: Neil Young.”
For me, it was so very intense to stand there before the audience, all eyes on the two of us, and read words I’d spent more than six years perfecting. I had been reading my novel aloud as I wrote it. Every day for six years I read some of it aloud. Every page was read aloud and every revised page. I knew the sound of my words, my sentences, my paragraphs. I knew the rhythms of those sentences, and the music they make.
I had read in the privacy of my office. I had read before the members of three writers groups I was in: The Dangerous Writers group in Portland in 2008 and some of 2009 where all the early work got done, another group in Inverness, CA in late 2009 and 2010, and the group I led in Oakland and El Cerrito from late 2010 to late 2013.
And yet this was totally different. There really is nothing like reading before an audience in a public space, an audience silent because they want to hear the words and the music, the music of the words and the music of the music.
Here’s a taste of what went down. This is a brief excerpt from a chapter in which the narrator and his friend go to a Neil Young concert in late 1972. The first line is cut off. So I’ll tell you what it is:
“I dig Neil the most, beginning in his Buffalo Springfield days…”
Great review of my novel, The Flowers Lied, went live at the online magazine, Ragazine, March 13, 2016. Here’s an image of it but please link to the site to read it. (By the way, the book is available here.)
Reviewer M. Sedlof writes:
It’s not easy to go through life driven by an intense desire to be part of a scene that really doesn’t think it needs you. Such is the quandary of Michael Stein in The Flowers Lied, Part Two of the Freak Scene Trilogy by Michael Goldberg that began with True Love Scars. After suffering ritualistic tribulations of young love in Scars, Stein (aka, Writerman), returns to the college scene older, wiser, increasingly hell-bent on becoming the rock ‘n’ roll writer of his dreams…
I’ll be reading from my new novel, The Flowers Lied, and the Grammy-winning experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser will be improvising when we do “a post-beat happening – words + music” on May 6, 2016 at The Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland, CA.
And please let your Bay Area friends know about this.
Here’s more info:
Celebrating ex-Rolling Stone Senior Writer Michael Goldberg’s new rock ‘n’ roll novel, The Flowers Lied, Goldberg and Grammy winning experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser will collaborate on “a post-beat happening” at The Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland, CA on Saturday, May 7, 2016. Goldberg will read from his new novel while Kaiser improvises on electric guitar. Plus a solo set by Kaiser. Note that no meat will be served during this event! Free.
What the critics say about Goldberg’s novels:
“Radioactive as Godzilla!” – Richard Meltzer
“Kerouac in the 21st Century.” – Dennis McNally
“Penned in a staccato amphetamine grammar…” – Simon Warner
“Holden Caulfield meets Lord Buckley?” – Paul Krassner
“Our hero drinks and drugs and dances to the nightingale tune while birds fly high by the light of the moon.” – Larry Ratso Sloman
“Reads like a fever dream from the dying days of the Summer of Love.” – Alina Simone
“If Lester Bangs had ever published a novel it might read something like this frothing debut by longtime music journalist Michael Goldberg.” – Colin Fleming, Rolling Stone
Michael Goldberg was a senior writer at Rolling Stone magazine for a decade. He has interviewed Jerry Garcia, Patti Smith, George Harrison, Captain Beefheart, Stevie Wonder, Sleater-Kinney, James Brown, Frank Zappa, Berry Gordy Jr., John Fogerty, Neil Young, Lou Reed, Black Flag, The Replacements, Flipper, Robbie Robertson, Sonic Youth and many more. In 1994 Goldberg launched the first Web music magazine, Addicted To Noise, and “invented music journalism on the web,” as journalist Denise Sullivan put it. Goldberg currently writes a column, The Drama You’ve Been Craving,” for Addicted To Noise and feature stories for the online animal rights magazine, The Daily Pitchfork.
“The Flowers Lied,” the second of the Freak Scene Dream Trilogy, is a story of love, friendship and the search for identity, set in the early ‘70s. Although it takes place in the past, themes running through the book — trying to live an authentic life, struggling against the powers that be, navigating the terrain between love and lust, loyalty and betrayal — are as relevant today as ever. Goldberg’s first novel, True Love Scars, was published in 2014.
Grammy winner Henry Kaiser is widely recognized as one of the most creative and innovative guitarists, improvisers, and producers in the fields of rock, jazz, world, and contemporary experimental musics. The California-based musician is one of the most extensively recorded as well, having appeared on more than 250 different albums and contributed to countless television and film soundtracks.
A restless collaborator who constantly seeks the most diverse and personally challenging contexts for his music, Mr. Kaiser not only produces and contributes to a staggering number of recorded projects, he performs frequently throughout the USA, Canada, Europe and Japan, with several regular groupings as well as solo guitar concerts and concerts of freely improvised music with a host of diverse instrumentalists. Among the numerous artists Kaiser has recorded or performed with are Herbie Hancock, Richard Thompson, David Lindley, Jerry Garcia, Steve Lacy, Fred Frith, Terry Riley, Negativland, Michael Stipe, Jim O’Rourke, Victoria Williams, Diamanda Galas and Cecil Taylor. Kaiser’s latest album, The Celestial Squid, was released last year.
The Octopus Literary Salon is located at 2101 Webster St #170, Oakland, CA 94612
Bruce Springsteen has always written about the past, and as I’ve spent time with The Ties That Bind: The River Sessions, a multi-CD/multi-DVD set that focuses on music Springsteen made during sessions for The River (and includes a fantastic live show from November 1980, three weeks after The River was released), I’ve been reminded of how a yearning for the past (the high drama of youth) was so much a part of Springsteen’s Seventies recordings.
At age 23, on his first album, Greetings from Asbury Park, Springsteen was already looking back on songs such as “Growing Up’ and “It’s Hard To Be a Saint in the City.” Even on their release, Born to Run, Darkness at the Edge of Town and The River came across as romantic exaggerations of a time long gone. This wasn’t just due to the lyrics, which sometimes referred to events in the past tense.
Watch Springsteen and band do “Out In The Street” in Tempe, Arizona, 1980:
The sound of Springsteen’s music leaped back past the innovations of mid-to-late ’60s rock, a period that prominently included long-haired psychedelia complete with feedback, distortion and wah-wah pedal effects, to draw on Phil Spector’s Wall-of-Sound, the rhythm and blues of The Coasters, Sam & Dave and others, and party-rock hit-makers like Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels and Gary U.S. Bonds.
Watch Springsteen and band do “The River” in Tempe, Arizona, 1980:
Consider that in 1975, when Born to Run was released, including a saxophone in the lineup was akin to using a horse and buggy for transportation. Springsteen’s E Street Band, of course, proudly featured the great Clarence “Big Man” Clemons on sax, and the Big Man took a solo in practically every song.
Even when Springsteen wrote in the present, as he did for “Thunder Road,” his line about “Roy Orbison singing to the lonely” placed the time period of the action in the early/mid-‘60s …
Read the rest of this column at Addicted To Noise.
Watch Springsteen and band do “Thunder Road” in 1975:
This past weekend the Grateful Dead with Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio filling if for the late Jerry Garcia on lead guitar, played two two-set shows at the Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, CA.
Below are videos of most of the June 27 show, and the second set of the June 28 show.
June 27, 2015 – first set:
June 27, 2015 – second set (most of the set but not all):
June 27, 2015 – second set, second to the last song – “Morning Dew”:
June 27, 2015 – set closer – “Casey Jones”:
June 28, 2015 – second set:
June 28, 2015 – most of sets 1 & 2:
June 27 set list:
Uncle John’s Band
(Phil Lesh lead vocals)
Cream Puff War
(Trey Anastasio lead vocals)
Viola Lee Blues
(Cannon’s Jug Stompers cover)
(Phil Lesh lead vocals)
(with William Tell bridge)
Turn On Your Love Light
(Bobby “Blue” Bland cover)
(with Mickey Hart on mbira)
What’s Become of the Baby?
(Phil Lesh lead vocals)
The Other One
(Bonnie Dobson cover)
(Bruce Hornsby lead vocals)
June 28 set list:
Set 1 (I don’t have video for this set)
Feel Like a Stranger
(Cannon’s Jug Stompers cover)
(Bruce Hornsby on lead vocals)
(Jerry Garcia song) (Bruce Hornsby on lead vocals)
(lead vocal: Trey Anastasio)
Hell in a Bucket
Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo
Eyes of the World
(with Sikiru Adepoju on talking drum)
I Need a Miracle
Death Don’t Have No Mercy
(Reverend Gary Davis cover)
Neil Young’s next album, The Monsanto Years, is very much a political album. Some of the songs, such as the one that may be called “If I Don’t Know,” is quite good — one of his best in some years. Others are more like political rants that, at least on initial listen, don’t hold up. It’s admirable that Young wants to use the platform he has to deliver political messages, but at times his songs suffer because it seems the message is more important than the song. Also, while GMOs are an issue, they pale besides the horrendous impact of animal agriculture on climate change and our environment and I wish Neil Young would get hip to the biggest cause of climate change and focus some of his political energy on it.
Or is that just too hot a topic for Neil Young to address.
“I don’t really have anything against the people at Monsanto or the human beings working for Monsanto,” Young said on April 22, at a screening at the IFC Center in New York of a “work in progress” documentary about the making of The Monsanto Years. “But the laws that they’re making have made Monsanto the perfect poster child for problems that we have with the corporate government. So I wrote a bunch of songs about it. These kids I’m playing with all are with me on it.”
The film was part of The Bernard Shakey Film Retrospective” that took place from APril 17 through April 23, 2015.
Bernard Shakey is the name Young uses for his films.
On April 16, 2015, Young performed at the SLO Brewing Copany in San Luis Obispo, CA accompanied by Promise of the Real, a band featuring Wille Nelson’s sons, Lukas and Jacob Micah Nelson on guitars, Corey McCormick, bass, and Anthony Logerfo, drums.
Neil will be touring with this band.
Check out his entire set at SLO Brewing Company including nine new songs that were played live for the first time. The songs will likely appear on Young’s upcoming album, The Monsanto Years, due out June 16, 2015. However, thus far, the titles of the songs that will appear on the album have not been officially released.
Titles below of the new songs are tentative and definitely not official.