Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Goin' Down South (I Got a Right)

Just back from SXSW, best batch yet for me and my boys from the point of view of performance and venue(s) to play in...morning of departure started out just right, ran into my pal Lou Reed on the street getting coffee, we had a friendly sit-down/stop and chat (in Larry David-speak) before departing for the airport, weather was fair and spring-like, Jetblue flight last Thursday was fast and smooth, our gang immediately hit the clubs and caught a delightful set at the Central Presbyterian Church (where we were due to play Sat. night) by our friends the penetratingly soulful Nina Nastasia and drummer extraordinaire Jim White...then caught 4 songs from the incredibly still gorgeous voice (and face) of Vashti Bunyan, who I really wish I had seen at Pop Montreal last fall...saw all sorts of folks riding the tides of lustforlife throughout our 3 days in Austin, surfing the chaotic sprawl out in the streets and inside the convention center at the panels during the day-- including my man Sandy Pearlman, Grammy guy Scott Goldman, Billy Altman, Ed Ward, Mitch Myers, Charles McCardell, Andrew Loog Oldham and his son Max, David Fricke, Jim Fouratt...

Iggy Pop shook my hand before going on with David Fricke as interlocutor for an interview with him and The Stooges (sans Mike Watt) on Friday, wonder if he remembered the last time I "gave him some skin" at a show in Waterbury Conn. in '73 when the Igster was opening for Blue Oyster Cult and playing with the fantastic, very much-missed James Williamson (one of the best guitarists/collaborators Iggy ever had, he may never had a better one unless you count Bowie, who only played piano not guitar with him anyway)...after rapping with the guy about Egyptian mythology backstage, Iggy proving tres conversant with Isis and Osiris and whatnot, I produced a quaalude (mea culpa, mea culpa--hey c'mon, this was 1973) and I'll be damned if Iggy didn't just snatch and grab it out of my hand and pop it on down the hatch Commander Whitehead style without so much as a how-do-ya-do, then went out and did his dance wearing nothing but a grass hula skirt, baiting the rabble with insults that more or less stopped the show cold (including the unforgettable "Fuck you, you fucking son of an Italian pushcart vendor")... glad to see he still hasn't lost his beyond-the-law edge, Iggy waxing philosophical during his Frickian discourse about an early career dalliance with "a horny female magazine editor" (Gloria Stavers) which netted him the cover of 16 Magazine back in the day, he also gave big props to Danny Fields for getting The Stooges signed to Elektra (hear hear), rolled his eyes when discussing first Stooges producer John Cale looking like "the antagonist from 'Beyond the Valley of the Dolls' " (John Lazar, a/k/a Ze-man Barzell), "wearing a Dracula cape" and dragging Nico along to the recording sessions "where she sat and knitted", told a story about Cale trying to get Ron Asheton (who introduced the band in German in Waterbury when I first caught them) to turn his guitar down from 10, Ron compromising at 9 1/2--yeah!! All aboard for Funtime!

Anywho, Gods and Monsters with Jerry Harrison on board did a secret gig Friday night thanks to my man Dusty Wright (Mark Petracca) of webzine, glad he hooked this up as we received the best damn reception we ever have received anywhere--I mean LOUD sustained cheering and screaming from a midnight post-prandial crowd at the Canvas Bar and Gallery on 5th, including a posse led by Eddie Vedder's brother who went berserko for us, recording portions of our set on his cell phone to send to Eddie...also saw Dave Schulps from the late-lamented Trouser Press who was really high on our music, also Jennifer Leimgruber from Clear Channel's Premiere Radio Networks who told me it was the best thing she'd ever seen (really!)--great crowd, we really dug in and let 'er rip...

Next night at the church, I paced around downstairs in a dressing room for literally hours getting psyched for my show, kibbitzing with my guitar tech/sound guy Kris Anton and the super friendly staff of the church (very very difficult for me to hear other music before I perform--no offense to the other fine artists who were on the bill with me), my brooding only interrupted once by a surprise pop-in from my friend Walter McDonough, ace attorney for the Future of Music project based in DC, who had graciously sought me out there to wish me well-- and after well-received performances by Jandek, One Umbrella, Bill Callahan (I love Smog's "Cold Blooded Old Times", and told him so backstage in the Green Room, where he was hanging with gal pal the lovely Joanna Newsom), and Tommy Morello a/k/a The Nightwatchman, I received a standing ovation when I finished playing with The Golem...Yes!! One of my best performances in fact, it's a toss-up whether I played better there than at the Bergamo Jazz Festival in lovely Italy a week earlier, or at Pop Montreal last fall...

Gary Lucas & Gods and Monsters at SXSW, Central Presbyterian Church, Austin, Texas, 3/17/07

photos by Jonl | click to enlarge

Finally Gods and Monsters took to the altar...and played a great meaty set which suffered only from lack of warm bodies there in the church at that point, as we were programmed directly against The Stooges' set at Stubbs--what can ya do but then play on, which we did in spades--my friends Alison McGourty, Sarah Hoffmann, Michael Ackerman, several Chronicle writers/editors (read a wonderful review by Jim Caligiuri from the Austin Chronicle here) and many other hardy souls hung there with us --special thanks to Jay Trachtenberg for making us his pick for the night (the only other Chronicle midnight pick that night outside Iggy--thank you Jay)...

and then it was over, and home and away on Southwest Airlines, had to fly from the summery balm of Austin in to the sub-frigid icy wastes of Islip airport om Long Island, rent a minivan, and drive everyone home due to air ticket availability (or lack thereof)--but it worked out fine, upon entering the van I immediately tuned to Little Steven's Underground Garage show on the FM radio which at that point was blasting the Flamin' Groovie's "Shake Some Action" (the second, superior Dave Edmunds mix--so fine!)--and merrily we rolled along and eventually rolled in to the West Village around 2am happy and exhausted--and I've gotta stop now...but special thanks to Andy Flynn, Kimberly Tortorice and Craig Stewart at SXSW for making this year's festival the best one ever (my third to date)--and to Sandy Pearlman for hooking it up after the deadline had already passed (Sandy is definitely one of the Good Guys...and his appearance on the panel of "Recording Studio Do's and Dont's", chaired by my friend Rick Karr from NPR, was one of the highlights of SXSW for me, I love to hear Sandy's erudite brilliant mad patter in full effect--he's a compelling, authoritative shpritzer worth listening to, a quality he shares with my friend Andrew Loog Oldham--and I was happy to introduce them to each other at one point over the weekend...oracles both of them...listen up...)




Blogger jonl said...

I was the guy who shook your hand and promised to help with PR next time you're in Austin... that was a PHENOMENAL set, & I couldn't believe the low turnout. Hope you know Austin's the right venue for Gods & Monsters... I assume the lack of a bar in the church was a factor. (We'll have to discuss that with the Presbyterians.)

3/21/2007 9:37 PM  
Blogger Gary Lucas said...

Great John, send me your contact info and next time I play down there perhaps you can help me set up some serious Austin music media blitzing before my appearance.

3/27/2007 5:24 AM  

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