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Dumb Angel

The proclamation of Modernist art, pop surf culture and Los Angeles sound design of the 1960s. Offering up pop with a consciousness.

Last Build Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2018 15:44:05 +0000


Laurindo Almeida - The First Surf Guitarist

Mon, 05 Oct 2009 20:51:00 +0000

Okay, so finding that first conquistador who used the stringed axe to evoke the thrill of the wave and the cool of the night-tide might prove impossible. But if Laurindo Almeida be not the FIRST surf guitarist, he certainly fits the criteria for that great decade in which bohemia came on like a swarm: the 1950s. Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady passed through L.A. in 1947, noting the Nature Boy saints in their beards and sandals. By 1950, Hollywood was blacklisting its writers and actors for being "associated" with communism, but it did little to quell the city's spirit of radicalism. By the mid-'50s, Kenneth Anger was busy completing his epic, Inaugeration of the Pleasure Dome. James Dean and his coterie of thespian rebels were holding court nightly at Googie's Diner on Sunset and Crescent Heights. Charles Bukowski was handing out free poems to small press zines; Wallace Berman had started his Semina journal; Ed Kienholz and Walter Hopps had opened the Now Gallery on La Cienega Boulevard; and the Sunset Strip (now desegregated) was beckoning jazz musicians that had been playing in the fading 52nd Street clubs of New York City.For surfers, it was Hawaiian music, Latin guitar, jazz and R&B that they went to hear. "The early surfers had a penchant for Spanish-style guitar," noted Crossfires (and later, Turtles) drummer Don Murray. "It was no accident that the electrified instrumental surf music of the early '60s featured Spanish melodies. The guitarists had a 'Cool Generation' audience that embraced them as readily as they did the jazz players, the folk singers and the poetry readers." Modern jazz found its more minimal setting in the small combos frequenting the Lighthouse Jazz Cafe in Hermosa Beach and the Haig club on Wilshire Boulevard (near Vermont). Gerry Mulligan brought his "cool" sound out to L.A., after he and Lee Konitz penned and arranged 1/3 of Miles Davis's Birth of the Cool sessions. The original Gerry Mulligan Quartet featured an experimental piano-less set, with a young Chet Baker on trumpet, Bob Whitlock on bass and Chico Hamilton on drums. Another Haig regular was Bud Shank, a former Stan Kenton Orchestra alumni, who brought with him Laurindo Almeida, a Brazilian guitartist who'd also played with Kenton during the 1940s.In 1953, Almeida and Shank recorded two albums (both called Brazilliance) for the World Pacific label, and from there, Almeida's nimble guitar-tone (equal parts Latin melody and nocturnal cool) would come to define a sound that seemed to sprout from the same roots as the palm trees which lined Hollywood's main boulevards.Here's a few of Almeida's essential albums: The Stan Kenton Orchestra pioneered Modern jazz during the 1940s and '50s. They were the long-time houseband at the Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa, where later, Dick Dale & his Del-Tones ruled the stage. But not before Laurindo Almeida took crowds way out with his pure sound. Kenton had wanted to introduce a folk-type sound to his orchestra and felt that Laurindo Almeida had a gypsy quality not unlike Django Reinhardt. For the Kenton songs "Lament" (written by Pete Rugolo) and Almeida's own composition, "Amazonia," Kenton had him stand out in front of the Orchestra. With its burst of rhythm and woodwind energy, "Amazonia" stands as sort of a proto-exotica number. Recorded in 1959, Bud Shank was the bandleader of this World Pacific affair, as opposed to their first two LPs together, Braziliance. With Chuck Flores on drums, the interplay between him and Almeida on "Toro Dance" is epic. "Sunset Baion" feels romantic and warm, and nothing can beat "Serenade to an Alto." If that was the soundtrack to Los Angeles then, it must have been perfect. Here's the best beatnik-beach album of all-time. Leader Bob Romeo had played with James Dean in 1954 on the latter's lone 45-single (released pothumously). Romeo also played regularly at the Venice West Cafe (Venice, CA), the Insomanic (Hermosa Beach) and Lombardia (on La Cienega Boulevard). Eden Ahbez, the writer of "Nature Boy," penned three numbers here, and the backing band featured [...]

L.A.'s Crenshaw District R&B Venues of the ’50s and ’60s

Wed, 11 Jul 2007 23:28:00 +0000

By Domenic Priore and Brian Chidester, Summer 2007Los Angeles is quite often overlooked as a major center of R&B and Soul during the first rock ’n’ roll era. The Central Avenue Jazz and R&B scene from the ’20s through the early ’50s is well documented by the book and companion CD box set Central Avenue Sounds. That fantastic series ends as the Central Avenue scene disperses with the integration of L.A. jazz musicians into the clubs and movie soundtrack work to come in Hollywood. After that, a neighborhood Northwest of the core Central Avenue area would flourish as a new African-American nightlife center. Beginning near the corner of Pico and Western Avenues, then heading South to Santa Barbara Boulevard (now Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard), with a right turn (West) to Crenshaw on MLK, a myriad of new clubs would open up and host some of the most brilliant R&B from the period.An example of why this scene might be glossed over in history so far, is that local hit records by artists such as Richard Berry (“Louie Louie”), the Rivingtons (“Papa Oom Mow Mow”), the Olympics (“Good Lovin’”) and the Vibrations (“My Girl Sloopy”) would be more successfully covered by white garage punk bands from all over the country, such as the Kingsmen (from the Pacific Northwest), the Trashmen (from Minnnesota), the Young Rascals (from New York) and the McCoys (from Ohio). Picture here is Richard Berry.This phenomenon can be traced to the wilder, ’50s-style R&B still practiced in L.A. during the ’60s, which stemmed all the way back to the Central Avenue era, as opposed to the more unified soul recordings from Detroit or Philadelphia. The above photo is of the Rivingtons. Courtesy of Tom Reed.Los Angeles was more aligned with New Orleans, with Specialty Records (Little Richard) and Imperial Records (Fats Domino) based in L.A., and records like Chris Kennner’s “Land of a Thousand Dances” making their way on that pipeline to places like East L.A., where Cannnibal & the Headhunters would make it a huge hit. Picture here is the Vibrations. Courtesy the Alan Clark Archive.As black musicians became more common in Hollywood, the avant-garde and psychedelic music scene in turn gravitated to spaces in this district surrounding Crenshaw Boulevard. The overall effect during the ‘60s led to a full-color, Mod L.A. soul scene that produced incredible, unique sounding records. This travelogue is not meant to be definitive documentation of all the artists who broke from here during that time, but will give you a good idea of the kind of action that was going on.During the early ’60s basketball legend Wilt Chamberlin became a partner in a club housed in this building called the Basin Street West (1304 S. Western Avenue). Photo by Larry UnderhillThe Basin Street West, as pictured on a comedy album recorded at the locationMajor jazz acts like Woody Herman would record inside the Basin Street West. Courtesy of Tom Reed.The No War Toys Coffeehouse moved to the neighborhood in 1965, and was akin to other liberal outposts in town such as the Fifth Estate and Fred C. Dobbs on Sunset Strip, and Mother Neptunes in the Silver Lake area.All that remains of No War Toys Coffeehouse is the picket fence, a palm tree, a crumbled sidewalk, some grass and a front entrance parking lot. (2472 W. Washington Boulevard at Arlington). Photo by Larry UnderhillAn early gig for the Doors was a benefit for the No War Toys CoffeehouseAcross the street was an old venue called the Hippodrome, which would be used for a happening. (1853 Arlington at Washington Boulevard). Photo by Larry UnderhillFerus Gallery and Pasadena Art Museum director Walter Hopps teamed up with Art Kunkin of the Los Angeles Free Press for this South Central event.Ted Brinson built a studio in his garage, reputedly with some of the finest equipment in town, plus a fortress of entryway locks. Courtesy of Tom Reed.Some of the records recorded by Ted Brinson included the Wipe Out album by the Impacts (a Del-Fi Records surf group featuring Hawaiian ste[...]

Lesley Gore / Party for Preservation

Wed, 16 Aug 2006 23:22:00 +0000

LESLEY GORE — HAIR IDOLLesley GoreAs most of us know, 1964 was a pretty big year for music. The English youth scene was just taking off and the British Invasion had just begun to take over America, even as American pop music was coming into its own. The Beach Boys were rocking out, having huge hits all across the country, spreading their sun-bleached love to teenage girls everywhere. James Brown & his Famous Flames were creating a stir, and Motown was starting to make it big with the Supremes, Marvin Gaye and the Tempations all happening at the same time. Lesley Gore, who was born in Brooklyn, New York had her first pop hit, "It's My Party" in April 1963 and her star kept rising throughout the next few years. In October 1964, The TAMI Show was shot in front of a live audience of screaming teenagers at The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Southern California. The biggest names in music of the day were there, Chuck Berry, the Beach Boys, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, the Miracles, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas, the Rolling Stones (the latter three representing for the Brits), Provincetown, Massachusetts' own garage godz the Barbarians and then, Lesley Gore, with hosts Jan & Dean. The TAMI Show was a huge concert that captured the excitement over everything that was happening in music at the time, and everything was new. The theme from The TAMI Show, sung by Jan & Dean, written by P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri, told of all the amazing acts that were going to be performing ("here they come, from all over the world") and wrote in "the representative from New York City is Lesley Gore, now, she sure looks pretty." And Lesley did look pretty, with her gorgeous smile and her signature flipped hair. It's quite possible that because she was so young and so pretty, she left a strong impression on the Beach Boys, who she hung out with at the taping of The TAMI Show. Lesley Gore — TAMI action with hosts Jan & Dean in the background (right)The next summer, the Beach Boys came out with their great album Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!!) that featured the song "The Girl From New York City". Connection? Probably. Lesley Gore wasn't someone who was easy to forget. She had a very distinctive voice, deeper than was usually normal for pop stars, and almost raspy in some songs like "Hey Now." She was very pretty, and very energetic, two things which probably helped her become a star. While Lesley did sing many songs like "If That's The Way You Want It" (Tell me that you aren't ready to settle down with one / Want to keep me on a string while your having fun / If that's the way you want it / So be it, my love) she also went out on a limb with songs like "You Don't Own Me" ("You don't own me / I'm not just one of your many toys / You don't own me / Don't say I can't go with other boys / And don't tell me what to do / and don't tell me what to say / and please when I go out with you, don't put me on display"), which she recorded in '63, and she was rewarded with a number 2 hit. While Lesley is known and remembered for her voice and her catchy pop hits, I am a fan of hers for an entirely different reason. I love her hair. Lesley Gore is my undisputed hair idol. I have the greatest hits collection, It's My Party; The Mercury Anthology and the photo that was used on the cover really is something else. I would have to imagine that it's one of the first publicity photos of Lesley Gore because she looks very young, and her hair is done up into this magnificently tall, gravity-defying bouffant with these saucy bangs. Lesley Gore — It's My PartyI remember seeing this picture of Lesley Gore amongst my mother's extensive CD collection when I was growing up, before I ever listened to it, and was always amazed by the pretty girl's hair. Lesley's hair almost seems like it's so tall that it continues outside of the frame for at least another foot. Lesley Gore seems to have managed to have the perfect hair for every era of hair fashion during the '60s, if her pu[...]

Expressions from Venice, California

Wed, 14 Jun 2006 22:41:00 +0000

Sponto Gallery, 7 Dudley Avenue, Venice, CA -- July 19th 2006, 6:30 p.m., Dumb Angel presents a Beatnik Beach Film Screening, featuring Dirty Feet (a 90-minute film shot in 1965 at Balboa's Prison of Socrates coffeehouse), plus a slideshow of Southern California Beat Generation hangouts and live surf instrumental music by the Insect Surfers. For information call (310) 399-2078.Venice West (also known as Venice Beach or Venice-of-America) was a tributary European conception by wealthy eccentric Abbot Kinney. Kinney's vision was to transplant Venetian culture to the West Coast of America with Italian-designed architectural masterpieces created during the early 20th Century. By the late ’50s/early ’60s, Venice boasted two of the most subterranean of all Southern California "Beat Generation" hang-outs — the Venice West Café (7 Dudley Ave.) and its mad-hatter counterpart, the Gas House (1501 Ocean Front Walk).Gondola rides on the Venice Canal created an American / Italian flavor. A neighborhood of these canals still exists, cool and funky along with the counterpart shopping groove on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Equator Books, outsider Surf wear shop Hydrolab, tiki store Cruz Vintage, cool coastal furniture shops Surfin' Cowboys and French 50s-60s are a few of the highlights. The literary center, Beyond Baroque (open Fridays and Saturdays) is nearby on Venice Boulevard.Windward Avenue served as an opulent entrance to the Venice Ocean Front Walk area. Abbot Kinney's original concept for Venice West was to bring world-class art galleries and opera to his settlement. Pop culture and carnival atmosphere out-paced the highfalutin setting early on. As decay set in during the '50s, an art scene unforseen by Abbot Kinney would call Venice West home.NOT "The Girl in the Mini Skirt" whose praises were sung by The Era of Sound in 1966. And . . . she doen't look too interested in the Arcade games. But, you can stand in this location on Windward Avenue today and still absorb a pretty interesting environment. In our time, retro clothing and book shop Animal House is across the street, where she's facing, while to her left, Small World Books sits alongside our fave local eats place, the Sidewalk Cafe. These shops, along with a few of the places mentioned on Abbot Kinney, carry Dumb Angel #4: All Summer Long. Behold, some of the columnated ruins that didn't domino.Royal family of the Venice West Beat scene during the 1950s — Wallace Berman with his wife Shirley and son Tosh on the boardwalk of Venice, California. The backdrop here is leftover set decorations used to simulate Tijuana for Orson Welles’ 1958 noir masterpiece, Touch of EvilThe Bathing Pavillion was the defining edifice of early Venice. Like most of what you see here, it's all long-gone.Theatrical Asian mythology meets European gothic in this striking example of Venice Beach vernacular architecture. The mix of grandiose and carnival became commonplace in California during the first half of the 20th Century (a style now referred to as "California Crazy")Another Venice example of California Crazy . . . here a molten edifice dubbed "The Grand Canyon"The Venice Ballroom was one of many out by the oceanside catering to Angelenos who wished to engage in ballroom dancing. Apparently, like the Sunset Strip in 1966, Los Angeles authorities weren't too keen on dancing around the turn of century, so it was primarily done at this unincorporated beach area, away from provincial hassles. In 1967, the same thing would happen when the Venice Ballroom became the Cheetah.Ballroom dancehalls provided the large venue space needed to accommodate the popularity of new dance crazes at the dawn of the Jazz Age and Swing EraCafé Nat Goodwin’s, an early movie biz hangout. The original film stars would imbibe at the Alexandria Hotel in downtown L.A., but soon enough, the loose atmosphere around Venice became the main draw.Baron Long's Ship Cafe was the other main hangout during the early days of cinema. MGM Studios w[...]


Mon, 15 May 2006 22:26:00 +0000

The hidden gem of old Surf Route 101Long-gone venacular architecture, Surf Route 101, Encinitas, CaliforniaMoonlight Bay, Encinitas, California, 1960sYogananda's Self-Realization Fellowship, opened in Encinitas during the early 1950s. Surfers saw this sitting above one of California's greatest surfing locations and (in a primitive manner) dubbed the spot "Swami's," like, "hey, that's where the swami's go!" In 1963, the Beach Boys referenced this in "Surfin' U.S.A." when they sang "at Haggerty's and Swami's" . . .The terrain surrounding Swami's. The hills curve perfectly to create a beautiful, long ride on the waves.Surf Route 101 became the title of the Gary Usher album for the Super Stocks, and, a different song by Jan & Dean (from their Drag City album) written by Jan Berry, Roger Christian, and Brian Wilson — featuring boss spoken interludes by Jill Gibson. Usher's Surf Route 101 album includes a song called "Oceanside," which is also nearby in San Diego County.The Longboard Grotto is the only place you can purchase most of the independent Surf movies from the 1950s and 1960s discussed in the article "Cat on a Hot Foam Board" from Dumb Angel #4: All Summer Long. They definitely deserve a plug . . . it's to your benefit; call (760) 634-1920 . . . or reach them at www.thelongboardgrotto.comThe La Paloma Theater is where the Crawdaddys used to go see The T.A.M.I. Show . . . it has operated as an underground theater for years.An excellent Psychedelic boutique with lots of Mod gear exists today in the heart of Surf Route 101, EncinitasFlashbacks has done a great job with the design of their store posters and logos . . . a definite point of interest (and where I bought that Waltah Clarke shirt seen on the 2004 Ear Candy website).There are two outstanding Taco joints on Surf Route 101 in Encinitas. Karina's stands out because they make their own fantastic sauce, the shredded beef is bitchen, and they havea nice, hard shell. They also own a refreshing fruit smoothie shack right next door . . . all home made. But, as Geetz Romo said on the How to Speak Hip album, “Juiceheads are the lowest, man.”Juanitas Taco Shop is a bit more popular with the locals in Encinitas, and was featured on Huell Howser's PBS television show California's Gold. The sauce is in no way comparable to Karina's, but, they make up for it with heavy doses of cheeze, lettuce, meat and a nice, crackly shell.Superb coffeehouse Panakin is spacious, relaxed, and rests inside an old, wooden train station. Artist Mary Fleener, Folk singer Cindy Lee Berryhill, and author (plus '60s editor of Crawdaddy! magazine) Paul Williams are some of Dumb Angel's fave rave local residents in the Encinitas / Leucadia area. Pre-Panakin still exists on Surf Route 101We need more Cheese-cut architecture like this in the world.This Modrian-logo booze shack sells a great, independent trail mix inside.The ideal place for dry-cleaning your threadsUh-oh . . . yes, it's an irony-bored trailer park next to a '70s salty sea dog-themed restaurant-bar . . . if you're only here for the beer.Lou's has always been one of the best record shops in the San Diego area. This, too, can be found on old Surf Route 101, as well as some great health food restaurants, and some wonderfully-refurbished Motor Hotels on the North side of Encinitas (in Leucadia).Without a doubt, Ducky Waddles is the most interesting book store / art gallery in the San Diego area.Dumb Angel #4: All Summer Long will soon host an art show here featuring Mike Dormer (Hot Curl, Shrimpenstein!), Frank Holmes (the 1966 Smile album cover) plus John McCambridge and Jay Nelson of Mollusk Surf Shop in San Francisco (see January blog). Live Surf instrumentals will be provided by the Sand Devils, a San Diego combo who wow'd 'em this year at Tiki Oasis.Art, architecture, Burlesque . . . u-name-it cool, Ducky Waddles can match any book joint in New York, San Francisco or L.A. for a groovy presentation and content . . . it's tha[...]

Dumb Angel's Potpourri, Vol. 2

Thu, 06 Apr 2006 02:00:00 +0000

This month’s DUMB ANGEL blog features a mish-mash of cool happenings, groovy releases we’ve deemed worthy of (cyber) ink and a tad more of that lost coolness that we’ve dug up from the far corners of SoCal’s beach towns.LET US TURN YOU ON . . .Dig a few new releases that we felt were worthy of special attention…A Review of Mama Guitar HolidayIn a world where so-called "rockers" often can’t name four Chuck Berry songs, an all-girl trio from Japan has found the Chuck Berry-meets-surf tone that absorbed the entirety of the Beach Boys’ 1963 garage-band opus, Surfin’ U.S.A. One listen to Mama Guitar’s "Ready to Go" from their newest EP, Mama Guitar Holiday, and you’ll realize that their sound is no mistake. "After Dark" is a breezy, summer-night instrumental, replete with Mama Guitar’s gentle ‘la-la-la’ harmonies, akin to Brian Wilson’s blissed-out "Passing By" (from the 1968 Friends album). In keeping the vibe of 1963 real, during the break of Holiday’s "When We Put Our Bikinis On," lead singer Jun asks, "Am I so cute?" To which the chorus of Iris (bassist) and Yoko (drums) scream, "Yeah!" Jun retorts, "But I don’t wanna go!" Chorus: "Why not?" Jun: "Because I’m fat!" Oh no… this is all by design, friends. The lyrics and music only gets groovier from there. Dig these lunar lyrics to "Tomorrow’s Sea":It’s time to leave here,We’re in the sea breeze. Somewhere else we’ll go,Anywhere you want,Dreaming of tomorrow’s sea. White sand, moon, stars and you,Only that moment, all of them are mine.Mama Guitar's HolidayDumb Angel co-editor Brian Chidester sat down with Mama Guitar for a little Q&A.Who are your biggest musical influences?Jun (Guitar/Vocals/Songwriter): Brian Wilson, King & Goffin, Greenwich & Barry, Phil SpectorIris (Bass/Vocals): Shangri-La’s and more.Yoko (Drums): The Beatles!What inspired you to do MAMA GUITAR HOLIDAY?Iris: It’s a secret!Yoko: Peaceful days.Jun: We just put together some summer songs we already had been playing, and added a few more new songs.If you could play anywhere in the world, at any venue, where would it be?Yoko: California's beach or big grasslands somewhere.Iris: I want to go to anywhere we can go!Do you have a boyfriend?Jun: No . . .Iris: It’s a secret.Yoko: I’m married!What kind of boys do you like?Jun: I like people who are kind, friendly and funny.Iris: Gentle, and who has nice smile person!Yoko: A gentle and bright person.Favorite thing to do on a date?Iris: Lunch in the park.Mama Guitar, Hamburg TourFavorite bands?Jun: The Beach Boys, the Zombies, the Hollies, the Beatles, the Monkees, Four Seasons.Yoko: Sly and the Family Stone, the Kinks, the Beatles, the Zombies, the Hollies.Iris: Shangri-La’s, Kinks, Serge Gainesbourg.Favorite singers?Jun: Annette, Robin Ward, Shelley Fabares, Ronnie Spector, Claudine Longet, Yui Asaka, Brian Wilson, Colin BlunstoneYoko: Colin Blunstone, Ronnie Spector, Carol King, James Brown, Bob Dylan.Favorite album?Jun: The Beach Boys Today!Iris: Anna.Yoko: The Beatles’ Rubber Soul.Your hobbies?Yoko: Collecting dolls and cute things, and shopping.Iris: Making sweets, sewing and frogs… I’m keeping many little frogs!Jun: Taking naps.Favorite movie?Jun: The Trouble with HarryIris: Anna, Betty Blue.Yoko: Toto the Hero, Times and Honors, Buffalo 66.Favorite TV show?Yoko: Animation of the Beatles!Jun: Sukeban Deka, Little House on the PrairieFavorite food?Jun: Steak, PotatoesIris: Ice cream and spicy food.Yoko: Cheese, seafood, chocolate.Favorite candy?Jun: Yogurt flavored Chelsea.Yoko: Milk-flavored soft candy.If you were trapped on a deserted island with one person, who would that person be?Jun: Msama.Iris: My darling.Yoko: My husband.Favorite Sanrio character/animal?Jun: Pigs, hippos and elephants.Iris: FROG!Yoko: I'm not interested in Sanrio character, but I love Monchicchi! It's a monkey baby's doll.Personal plans for the future?Jun: I don't have any yet.Iris: For [...]

Newport by the Pier

Wed, 08 Mar 2006 04:02:00 +0000

The Orange County Launch Party for Dumb Angel #4: All Summer LongFeaturing the Ghastly Ones, the Boardwalkers, and special guest Billy Hinsche, who will be performing songs from the 1968 psychedelic surf film soundtrack for Follow Me — Sunday, April 2 — 6:00 p.m. to Midnight.Do you smell it? The fresh salt water, the smell of seaweed crashing up against the pier barnacles, and the whiff of fresh seafood coming out from behind basin doors at the Dory Fleet?There’ll be plenty of places to park right along the pier and oceanside, April 2nd, for the show at Sid's Blue BeetThe Dory Fleet boats bring in fresh fish. Sid's Blue Beet is in the alley between the brick buildings at the center of this photo.Can you see it? There’s Charlie’s Chili, and next to it is the Sea Shell Shop . . . they have stuffed models of huge Alaskan crabs and Sand Sharks. You walk along the beach, there’s a ledge to sit on and watch the sunset. There’s plenty of waffle cones, corn dogs and strips to be eaten. And then you can get up and make your way to the end of the pier . . . just another wide-angle view at the end of the earth. You can look down the coast and see where others watch land’s end. Piers each way; to the North, Huntington Beach Pier, to the South, Balboa Pier, and you’re in the middle at the Newport Beach Pier in Newport Beach, California.Beneath the Newport Beach PierDo you hear it, or will you hear it? Phil & the Flakes pounding out crunch-chords at Sid’s Blue Beet, a brick cabaret open since 1912, but more recently (1950s/1960s) a Beatnik Folk club hosting Flamenco guitarists, Bebop Jazz, Bluegrass and Folk music. Folk festival performers such as Jess Boggess would sing, or Chuck McCabe – real drop out kind-of shit . . . he was inspired by a girl he met at a clothing-optional resort. And when you walk out the beat goes on, via the angry young man pounding his bongos on the beach. All around, beach-side, angular apartments are rented by Surfer teens looking for girls or guys over the verandas, while the carry-all record player inside blasts out the Beach Boys’ Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!!) album. This is how it was in 1965.Let's Eat! D.I.Y. dining cultivation at the Newport Beach Pier, 1960sWhen you drive up to the pier area, the overwhelming scent of good food, and the ocean, hits you right in the face. There’s a fancy, Victorian-looking steak restaurant, Pizza joints, the smell of Bay seasoning at the Crab Cooker, Fish and Chips at Woody’s Wharf, Mexican food aura everywhere . . . and the tar of the salt water . . . this smells like California.The environment around the Newport Beach Pier, 1960sWhat we’re trying to do here on Sunday, April 2nd is bring actual Surf instrumental music back to the area, back to a place long-forgotten even in Los Angles, a locale purely "local" in recent years. In bygone times, the whole of the Greater Los Angeles area shook to phenoms from Balboa – the Stan Kenton Orchestra (’40s) and Dick Dale & his Del-Tones (’60s). This year, 2006, we’re bringing two of the finest Surf instrumental combos on the planet – The Ghastly Ones and the Boardwalkers – to Sid’s Blue Beet. On top of that, an acoustic set by Billy Hinsche (formerly of Dino, Desi & Billy, who also recorded great versions of "Mony Mony" and "Honkin' Down the Highway" with the Beach Boys during the '70s). Billy will be performing songs in support of his new CD, Mixed Messages, along with Beach Boy related songs written with Brian Wilson and performed by Carl Wilson. A few Dino, Desi & Billy gems will be thrown in for good measure. Don't miss it! The sound will dwell into the deep pumice underneath our coastline existence. Go Go dancers will quake and shiver above the equatorial splendor of sounds right out of The Munsters theme. You just have to be there.By BRIAN CHIDESTER and DOMENIC PRIORESID'S BLUE BEET – 107 21st Place, Newpor[...]

The Balboa Pharmacy Library

Fri, 03 Feb 2006 05:08:00 +0000

WHY BALBOA, YOU ASK?Before I answer you, let me ask you  a few questions first.Which town did Gilligan, Skipper, Tina Louise and the rest take off from? What town did Dick Dale and his Del-Tones, in the summer of 1961, first launch their reverb-crazy surf instrumental sound? Where did Van Dyke Parks first witness crowds of surfers pack in the Rendezvous Ballroom to see the Beach Boys one night? Answer: He witnessed this standing in front of the Prison of Socrates folk club, across the street in Balboa. And what would you say if I told you that one segment of the Pet Sounds/Wall-of-Sound musicians started life as members of the Stan Kenton Orchestra? And that their concerts at the Rendezvous in Balboa are where kustom kar designer Ed "Big Daddy" Roth and his pals would head to in the late 1940s to shake a leg and meet girls? Lastly, what locale in the head-spinning summer of 1963 did Sports Illustrated choose to depict on its cover as the center of "The Beach Explosion in Southern California"? You guessed it... Balboa!And for those unaware, Balboa Island and the Balboa Peninsula are a pair of townships in the Newport Beach area of Orange County, where a bevy of cool pop Modernist discoveries have sat dormant for years, waiting to be re-discovered. Consider this blog your invitation.Let me back up for just a second. Let me tell you how all this came to me. Here's a quotation from Dumb Angel co-editor Domenic Priore:"So listen, man... Paul Johnson (who played his song "Mr. Moto" at the Rendezvous with his band, the Belairs) once told me this... are you ready? Paul Johnson said to me, 'You know Domenic, this whole California Myth thing... it's really neat and compelling and all. But the truth is always more bizarre and interesting than the myth.'"The Balboa Fun Zone during the 1960s.Thus started the day I traveled with Priore down Orange County's Pacific Coast Highway selling new copies of Dumb Angel #4: All Summer Long, the magazine Priore and I recently published together. We headed down there with the intent of reminding the natives of Balboa about their groovy, locally-derived music scene. Little did we know, they had a whole library of folkloric literature just waiting for us.BALBOA PHARMACY LIBRARYBefore you, behold the locally-produced library of Balboa history we found when we got there:Old Balboa Island Stories from 1907 to the Millennium by Jim Jennings (No Publisher)This is an old man's personal history of daily life in Balboa. However, he tells it with a sense of wisdom and inherent coolness from simply living through this quieter era that it is to reading what listening to an Arthur Lyman album would be like. Unconsciously hip.Tales of Balboa by Jim Fournier (No Publisher)An encyclopedia of important people and places in Balboa's history, told by the town historian. Sort of a miniature version of Los Angeles A to Z: An Encyclopedia of the City and County (University of California Press)The Newport/Balboa MapGeneral Newport Beach, Balboa and Corona del Mar area map, including illustrations of key locations and a list of phone numbers for local businesses.Newport Beach: A California Postcard History by Jeff Delaney (Arcadia Publishing)Postcard shots of Newport/Balboa/Corona del Mar from 1900 on.Newport Beach: Images of America by Pamela Lee Gray (Arcadia Publishing)Archival photo paste-up book about Newport and Balboa's history. Besides a host of deserted beach shots from the Victorian Era, there are four previously-unseen photos of the Rendezvous Ballroom from the Stan Kenton period through to Dick Dale, and ultimately to when it burned down in 1966.Newport Beach by Gayle Baker, PhD (HarborTown Histories)A linear account of how the Newport/Balboa towns developed during the early 1920s. Baker offers the best re-telling of the Rendezvous Ballroom origins and another unseen photo of the structure to boot. I would[...]

Welcome to the Dumb Angel Weblog

Sat, 07 Jan 2006 23:11:00 +0000


This is where we'll provide occasional descriptions and updates of Dumb Angel related events.