Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Larry Keenan 1943-2012

I just read that Larry Keenan died on August 12th. Keenan was the photographer who took the iconic picture of Bob Dylan, Robbie Robertson, Michael McClure and Allen Ginsburg in the alley behind the City Lights Books Store on Dec 5, 1965.

There is a great story behind the session. Keenan was a 22 year old art student who got a call from McClure to shoot a portrait of Bob Dylan for his soon to be released album Blonde on Blonde. Dylan was in San Fransisco playing his first tour with an band behind him.

 Although none of Keenan's shots ultimately made the album, he did capture a wonderful moment in time that day. Jim Marshall, another famous rock and roll photographer, was there as well, but Keenan came away with the best images.

In 2001, I found Keenan's information on the Internet and gave him a call. I was interested in adding one of his prints from that day to my rock and roll photo collection. He was very friendly on the phone and mentioned that he had a shot that included Robbie that had never been published. The most reproduced photo from the session is this one which crops Robbie out on the left side:

The one of a kind photograph which includes Robbie hangs in my man cave today. It is one of my favorite rock and roll images.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On The Road Day Three

I woke too early again. The first thought in mind was a realization that I had left one of my bags at the hotel in Aspen. Problem. Paul was down on the couch looking like a wounded animal and Davis was hiding in the basement, so I caught up on the real world for a bit. 

We got going after a while and headed out to see what Denver could deliver in the egg department. After one false start we ended up at Breakfast King, an old school classic 24 hour breakfast joint. No latte served, but orange vinyl booths and a waitress older than me and dirt combined. The day got brighter. We schemed. Paul got excited and the F-bomber took off and started dropping a few charges. No one in the crowded joint batted an eye. Guess that's the difference between Denver and Aspen. We schemed some more until 'Milk came to our rescue. 

Off to the mall for costumes with T. Browne as DJ. Nothing better than some Jimi in the morning. The author got to flash his rock and roll photo collection and found a new audience for his stories. After the mall, we picked up the rest of the band and Denver was in our rear view mirror. The trip to Boulder was a breeze. Paul was the wheel man and I was up front keeping an eye on the road and the band mascots. Spirits were high and we all buzzed knowing that tonight was a big moment for the band. 

Pulling up to the St Julien, we immediately found Marty in the lobby doing what Marty does best. The place was crawling with musicians, radio and record people. Hunting and gathering music style. Marty was excited and the games began. I went back to my hotel to check in and when I returned everyone was at a cocktail party under a tent by the hotel. It seemed a little early for cocktails, but when in Rome. There was a band playing that couldn't decide if it wanted to be Greg Allman or Led Zeppelin. Not much competition there.

 Then we went to sound check and to see our spot which turned out to be a stage in a parking lot across from the Ritz Theatre. We had a quick dinner and watched the Ritz filling with fans. We were worried, but Marty was cool. We hung in the green room and checked out another band in the theatre while the boys tried their hands at international diplomacy. 

Finally it was time to play. Magically, the parking lot was full of a bunch of old guys with badges. Marty had worked his magic. 

 With the original set list still smoldering in the ashtray back stage, the band kicked off with Big Diamond Waltz. Ok, I'm a believer now. There is a lot of energy in that song. Pogo was jumping like a madman and hollering the fills. Digin's Done was next and it filled a big piece of the night sky. Tony's guitar was demanding the audience to light their lighters. Evil Ways drew the audience in and they started to move. Paul had his intensity set to 11. I had never seen him give more. Mammel called for Burning Days with his skating rink organ intro. When the rest of band kicked in, the song went to the top. I could see the audience drawing in closer. Paul doubled down on What's To Come Of Me and the house seemed stunned by what they had just witnessed. Church let out and then the new jazz intro to Sons of Fathers began. David got down on his girl friend's neck for all she was worth to begin and after everyone was heard from, T. Browne's fireworks ended the show. The crowd dispersed knowing that they had just witnessed a "tell your friend's moment." 

In 30 minutes it was over. Paul, the man in black, looked like he had run a marathon. Paul was wearing his happy face and everyone in the band knew they had played a killer set. The gear was loaded and the night awaited.

 There was an ebb and flow from the street to the green room and back. We watched the band Fun and shook our heads. We heard Paloma Faith who was actually quite good. I liked her voice a lot. Dusty in 2012. 

Paul, Monty, Pepper and I lit out for a quieter venue. The back room at Johnny's Cigar Bar served us well. It had comfortable chair, decent wine and was a good place to brainstorm. It would have been near perfect if Pepper had kept his mouth shut.The dream team + 1 got together and came up with lots of good ideas and plans. The future looked very bright. 

After a while it seemed like a good idea to find the rest of the band. Monty's phone was off and that brought down the wrath of the preacher. After a while the lost were found and we ended up back at the hotel. Most of the band was in front of the hotel engaged in more international diplomacy. Deals were being offered. Settlement negotiated. All was in flux. It became evident that I had run my race and it was back to the hotel For me. I crashed hard. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

On The Road Day Two

At 6 am, I woke out of a deep sleep and a dream of robbery, blood and large stacks of cash. Buttermilk was featured prominently in the dream. Now I'm dreaming SOF? Oh no. The air was cool in the mountains. It was another perfect summer day in Aspen.

Around 8:30, Paul called the room and suggested breakfast. We met downstairs at the hotel and ordered some Aspen fake Mexican tacos. Paul listened politely as I gave him my uneducated take on last night's show. Soon the coffee kicked in, the volume increased and the F-bombs were dropping. Suddenly, this Paul Simon wannabe from the next table was up in our grill about language and behavior. I thought he was coming over for an autograph. Silly me. Being early in the day with no alcohol involved, we took it in stride, did our best to comply while making threats and muttered Fuck New York under our breaths.

Later our host from last night arrived to take me on a tour of Aspen medical marijuana stores. Sweet child of Miley Cyrus! My mind was totally blown by the intersection of weed and modern commerce: brand name designer weed, pre-rolled blunts in tubes, eatable products of all descriptions, hash, even massage oil loaded with THC. Are you kidding me? The next place even had a "pro shop" with caps and logo shirts for sale. Oh how the world has changed since Floyd's Hotel.

My tour continued with a look at the winners of the Aspen big house contest. Interesting but I was getting jumpy as our departure time was getting near. With minutes to spare, I got back to the hotel, gathered up most of my stuff and jumped on 'Milk. Being last on board, my seat was 4B, but it was a good view from the back of the bus. David was in 4A and he helped a SOF tour rookie feel at home.

'Milk huffed and puffed as we climbed out of Aspen and up Independence Pass. It was hard to tell if we were going any faster than the bikers at times, but in the end we made the summit. There was a long fall to the bottom on the other side where we stopped for the heart-healthy food the band survives on. Oh my, Betty Crocker would not approve. The rest of the trip went quickly with limited visibility even in the flat lands. I got to see the literary creativity of the band as the group story unfolded. David took the wheel and proved to be a better driver than DJ. "Brandy", my ass. Paul came to the back to sit with me and Monty was snoozing in his little bunk dreaming of JENNIFERS.

We made it to Denver and stopped at Tony Brown's Aunt's house. Nice people and very hospitable. The band had dinner and got ready for the show.

An old friend from Hill School picked me up and I stuck my head back into the real world for a bit. We went back to his house and met another inmate from the Pottstown School for Wayward Boys. A great dinner followed and we got to Herman's Hideaway just as another band was clearing the room with its puzzling act.

Tonight the set was only 60 minutes, but still a good one. Small crowd, but there were a few enthusiastic drunks in the house who keep up entertained. Again, Water was cool and the set varied a lot from the night before. She Was Good To Me worked well. The Country from the first album rocked hard and stood out.

After some conversation on the street and the load out, Paul, David and I went back to the stash house for a pool tournament and a couple of beers. The SOF team exhibited good hand eye coordination and misspent youth. They won and I crashed hard.  

Sunday, August 12, 2012

On The Road Again

I had a few open days and decided to get back out on the road with my favorite band Sons of Fathers.  When the band is traveling, David Beck writes a daily travelogue. I thought it would be fun to write my own version. Here it goes:

Mountain Tour Summer 2012 Day One:

I woke up early after a restless night. Doesn't that always happen before any early morning flight? It was cool and the ocean was calm as I pulled away from the house. Southwest was kind to me. Off on time and the fat lady from the circus had no interest in the seat next to me. We landed in Denver and I made a mad dash down the longest concourse I have ever seen and snagged the earlier flight to Aspen. 

I arrived into a beautiful mountain day. Cool air and bright sun.  A friend of the band picked me up and brought me to the Sky Hotel. Cool place. After a quick check in, I was riding in the legendary Buttermilk with David, Paul and Monty to a radio appearance in KDNK in Carbondale. The DJ had the Colorado version of the Willie pigtails that were joined together in a braid. New to me. Nice guy and a big fan of the Sons. There was some chatter and then "Cool Water" live on the radio. First time live for me and it sounded great. 

We made a short stop to give 'Milk some beauty treatments so we sat outside at a nearby cafe and caught a bite.

Next stop was a radio station in Aspen which was a step up from Carbondale. Instead of the full Willie, the DJ had a $5000 mountain bike in the hall. A little conversation on the air, another Cool Water and we were out the door. 

After some brainstorming around the pool back at the Sky, we geared up for a major conference call. However, the gods of Hollywood did not smile on us and it didn't happen.
A little downtime and Paul, David and I set out for dinner at Cache Cache. Our host's sister owns this highly regarded Aspen eatery. It turned out to be one of the best meals of my life. Our host was lively, free with the wine and a pleasure to be around. He did initially mistake me for David's father, which didn't hurt my feelings too much. Obviously, he has never heard me play guitar. (Sorry, Bill W)

With minutes to spare, among low hanging clouds, we sprinted to the Belly Up. Arriving just as the opening act was finishing the last song, the boys were on stage in a flash. Not sure how they do that. 

The show opened with Cool Water which was a great choice. Next up was Down Below another good one. The club was starting to fill up and the band was taking charge. The show is a bit of a blur at this point, but here are a few impressions: In the last 60 days, the band has really grown and come together. T. Browne has found his place and is a budding rock guitar god. Mammel's keys are now up in the mix and adding color and texture to the songs. Look out when he jumps up from that bench, things are getting serious then. Ray is growing braver by the day. He is getting some high, beautiful screams out of the flat white bitch. He owns Almost There

Paul, David and Dees are the heart and guts of the band and this night they rose with the intensity of the love and excitement of the crowd. 

The big songs: Burning Days and Diggin's Done were large and are auditioning for stadium venues to come. There was good ebb and flow to the set and at the end the Beatles cover had the little girls and drunks dancing their asses off. Sons of Fathers will become The Road Goes On Forever of this band. It is the signature and history in the making. 

At the very end, Paul threw down the East Texas, church going gauntlet. Channeling Al Green meeting Elvis, he dropped the guitar and laid me down in sweat and tears. 

Reluctantly the crowd filled out. Monty pushed some merch, the equipment went to the trailer and the night was done. 

High on the crowd and the music, we laughed all the way to the Sky Hotel. Plans were being discussed back at the pool. Looking at my watch, I realized I had been up for 23 hours. My first trip around the hook in many moons. I said good night.