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Columns > Itzys Illusions - Steve Itzkowitz

Published: 2004/02/29
by Steve Itzkowitz

Clip or Not to Clip, That Is the Question

It’s another month full of shows out here in the West Coast. I’m trying to keep it brief, this time I mean it. So here we go . . .
The Grey Boy All-Stars, Thursday January 29, 2004 The Avalon, Los Angeles* (Special thanks to Surfin' Steve for a lot of the information provided and most of all for spreading the music) And the shows keep coming. Fresh off the heels of the Maceo show(see last month), Team PAKM skated into the Avalon for a home game against the GBA. The boys from San Diego are back for good so you can put to rest any of this "reunion" jargon for now. For a band that has only played a handful of times in the last few years, they sure didn't show it. The newly renovated Avalon just might need some work as at times they place was thumping. The first few rows of the center balcony turned into the bench area for the squad as Surfin' Steve and Buddy Lee had their gear set up for a crisp recording. PAKM Kyle (see NYE 2003 Itzy's iLLusions) was in the line up and was ol' favorite's Uncle Beas and Molasses. Actually Molasses and your's truly both had orange shirts and blue jeans on making us twinsees. Anyway, Avery was in the penalty box for most of the first set but then arrived in time to skate his regular shift in the second set. By the way shout outs to Nikki, Tony M, Milo and Robin as well. Plus to Cheech and Mikey, it was great to meet you guys, but you left way too early. So back to the show, DJ Greyboy spun prior to the GBA taking the stage (he did not sit in),once the GBA hit the stage they launched into Serpico, yes the one from the Al Pacino movie. Then right into their version of the Beatles classic, "Taxman". If Maceo was hot at the House of Blues just nights before, then whatever Karl Denson was doing on this night should be used for pyrotechnics as he tore up the joint. The same could be said for guitarist Mike Andrews, because at one point during the show Buddy Lee turned to me and said, "Karl is on fire!", I paused and said, "Karl? I thought Mike was on fire!?" That's how good they sounded. The "Son of IceBerg" was a cover of a Hugh Masakela tune written for his son Sal, one of the hosts of ESPN's X Games. The second set was more of the same including a dirty "Toys R US" with Andrews and bassist Chris Stillwell switching instruments. Drummer Zak Najor's rhythms backboned the entire night and didn't miss a beat. Team Pakm was left speechless and by the end of the show everyone had gone their own ways. I think it was because the music was so good. In fact, the word is that Robert Walter's first words when he left the stage after the second set were, "Well, that certainly blew New Years away." _Random Top 5 non-Simpson Simpson Character's _ (These seem to be a favorite for some reason) 5. Lenny Leonard--Homer's childhood buddy and co-worker at the Nuclear Power Plant. In one of the early episodes it shows Lenny shaving his wife's legs, but she's never mentioned again. What is she Vera? I also love that when Homer bowls his perfect game, Marge has built a make shift shrine for Lenny as Homer had used taking Lenny to the hospital as his excuse to why he was going to be late. "Not Lenny?" 4. SuperIntendent Chalmers--The bane to Principal Skinner's existence. My favorite Chalmer's exchange is in Miss Hoover's classroom when Ralph Wiggum asks, "What's a Battle?" Chalmers says "Did that boy just say what's a battle?" And Skinner sheepishly goes "no he said he said what's that rattle?" prompting Chalmers to say, "So your B's sound like R's?" Yes, yes they do. A close second is Ralph Wiggum's "Hello SuperNintendo Chalmers" 3. Sarcastic Guy--This guy has a number of occupations over the years kind of like Gil, but more successful. He even has a Simpson's Doll on the market. In the "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" 2 parter, he tells Wiggum "It will take 6 months to get the DNA results" then Wiggum hands him a carton of cigarettes to which he says, "Did I say 6 months, I meant 6 seconds." 2. Duffman--Just recently became a favorite when I learned his name was Barry Duffman basically making him Jewish, which is hilarious. I thought he was killed off the show, but he returned again recently. I could be mixed up, it has happened before. 1. Cletus--The Slack Jawed Yokel--he even has his own theme song. I don't know how many kids he has (see the Pretzel Wagon episode, but his wife is Brandine . He needs to be on the show a lot more or perhaps a spin off. *The Dead The Warfield, SF Monday February 9th, 2004
When this show was announced, there were bets being placed in Vegas about how many mail order envelopes I would send out because it was going to be a tough ticket because it would be the official debut of Warren Haynes as the newest member of the revolving Dead. Sure enough through the aid of TM Lisa, I was back in the balcony at the Warfield next to Mersh, who I went to shows with back in the 90s in the East Coast. It would be his first SF show and Warfield experience. After spending an eon in some new wave Asian cuisine place behind the Warfield, we joined the long line awaiting to get into the Warfield. Incidentally, the Warfield is in the worst neighborhood ever otherwise known as the Tenderloin. It’s such a weird place in the middle of downtown SF. So on this night you had DeadHeads and street people. The cops were out there as well, but still that place is a scene. I spotted my buddy Alan in line and asked if we could join him and he said sure. We worked together last year on "Late Night with Bob Costas" and immediately hit it off because of our common bond. Believe me we tried the ol’ Will Call trick and got nailed not only once, but twice. I don’t know who tipped their ushers off, but they ruined a good thing, but in hindsight our execution was horrible.
Literally as we got to our seats, the Dead hit the stage and launched into "Music Never Stopped." Yes, I enjoyed the show, but it took a little while for the boys to find their groove. The "West L.A Fadeaway" hinted at signs of what’s to come this summer tour with all four guitars (including Lesh’s Bass) jamming at the same time. Then the opening beats of "Althea" came, but it was Bob Weir not Warren who sang it. Ah, what could’ve have been a show stopper ended up being a different version because of Bob’s style. Warren did nail Jerry’s "Built to Last" and the set closer of Brent Mydland’s "Just a Little Light" had visions of 1989 written all over it. Wook of the Night was during "Little Light" when some guy was pointing in unison with Warren’s playing.
The second set was a whole different story. After the opener, "Friend of the Devil", it turned into 1982 with Weir’s "Lost Sailor>Saint of Circumstance" followed by a big jam that hinted at "Terrapin Station." In fact as the opening notes of "Lady With a Fan" came on, Phil walked up to the microphone and did the big fake out as Warren Haynes started to sing "Let my inspiration flow. . . " I’m pretty sure this is what a lot of Heads had yearned for over the years since Jerry checked out in 1995. It was more of the authentic GD sound. The raspiness, the throatiness and the soul of Warren’s voice brings out the message in a lot of these songs. They used to say that Jerry was telling a story up there and I got that feeling again with Warren’s singing. The post drums, "Unbroken Chain>Stella Blue" was played at such a level that Alan called it the best music he’s heard live of any kind in twenty years. That in itself says a lot. The set closed down with "Throwing Stones>Around and Around," which both rocked. I had not seen Around in a while too, so that too was a bonus. Well then came the encore, in a pre arranged deal, both Mersh and I stated if it was not a Dead song, we would hit the road and go to Chinatown. Well as the opening notes to "Madman Across the Water" started, we headed out for the exits. I heard it was great, but we had some eating to do as well as grab the complimentary poster on the way out the door, which of course is already on the wall.
Bob Weir and Ratdog, Monday February 23, 2004—House of Blues, Anaheim
Well Monday’s in 2004 seem to be the night to see Grateful Dead music. Just two weeks after the debut of 2004 version of the Dead, Bob Weir is on the road again with a 28 show tour going West to East. On this Monday, Ratdog started basically where they left off in November in New Orleans, the site of their last show. An opening jam led into Feel Like a Stranger which was basically a warm up for what was to come. A Dixieland style version of "Big River" was next and although there were still folks waiting in line, the HOB started to dance and move. Fortunately for yours truly, JPAR and PAKM Kyle we were situated upstairs in the VIP section so not only did we have a clear view, but we also had seats, which we hardly used. The 1st set featured a lot of Jerry tunes, but did include the first ever "Althea" from R-Dog as the set closer. I usually try not to compare songs, but I have to say that this version was tighter than the Dead version from the Warfield two weeks ago. The night would be would of Dark Star teases as well as playing the entire version of the psychedelic classic. The second set started with Robin Sylvester on acoustic stand up bass and both Bob and Mark Karan on acoustic guitars. A flawless, yes I repeat flawless, version of "El Paso" opened. Maybe because it was slowed down, but Weir did not forget a single line, which in itself is a minor miracle. The rest of the sextet (Kenny Brooks, Jay Lane and Jeff Chimenti) joined the band for a Weir solo classic based on the words of poet Rudyard Kipling, "The Winners." If you like the Weir stuff from the Bobby and the Midnites era, then this one was for you. Next up was a Weiresque version of the band classic, "The Weight." Weir nearly flubbed the second verse, but got the help from Mark Karan to remember the words. Way to think on your feet Bobby!!!! As only Bob can do, he added a new twist by stretching the lyrics with his vocals. Very Weir indeed. Then the apex of the night occurred with a titanic version of "WRS Suite>weather Report Part 1>Let it Grow." While playing, Weir switched back to his electric guitar and led the band into a solid version of "Odessa", a staple in the Ratdog songbook. Overall it was good solid way to open the tour. They definitely took some chances but for the most part stayed with GD songbook. The encore of "Ripple" was indeed a surprise, but a nice way to end the show. They are just getting started . . .
Pick Up The Pieces
Random Celebrity Sighting, I was at a wedding reception the other day and the Chinese guy from the "AmericanPie" series was among the guests. He’s always with the other dude when Stiffler’s mom (Jennifer Coolidge) enters the fray. Bob Oderkirk of HBO’s Mr. Show was there too and as he shook DK’s hand, his 2 year old boy sneezed on me, twice. I know where he’s represented so don’t worry. BTW, I had the Filet Mignon and it was steamed and it was delicious. Two Thumbs Up, Way Up!
The ease of the A-Rod transaction to the Yankees was ridiculous. I pictured someone putting the contract in Bud Selig’s "In Box" and he being on the phone or something like that, he took a glance at the deal without really reading it and literally stamped with a red "approved" ink pad. That’s my take on the deal.
For those of you in the fitness field or who are familiar with my good friend Len Saunders, then please check out his new book about children’s fitness here: www.thefitnessbook.com.
Also another good friend, Andy Levitt’s F Brands continues to be the talk of the internet. Check out www.brands.co for all the latest in F.
Joel Bowers also sat in with Sam Kininger and friends at the Temple Bar on Friday February 6th. Fresh of the initial tour of his JB and the Rebellion project. Joel joined in a powerful jam towards the end of the show that had the walls shaking. Check out www.joelbowers.com for the latest news including all the Greasy Beats dates. They are at the Temple Bar in Santa Monica every other Wednesday for the next few months. I guess you would consider that a residency.
Also on Feb 6th, I had the chance to see Modereko at the Good Hurt in Los Angeles. Modereko is John Molo, the drummer for Phil Lesh and Friends, side project. Guitarist Mark Karan of Ratdog sat in for most of the second set. Big props to bassist Dan Conway, who went to college at GW with my former camper Mark Davidson, for indirectly introducing me to Molo. Mark manages Dan’s project, Zeguma. Dan and I were chatting and Molo cam up to me and asked me if I was here with my wife. I was like, "I don’t have a wife." He apologized and we began to chat. I asked him if he was in Bruce Hornsby’s band back in 1987 and he said, "yes." I said, "Then I’ve been seeing you live since I was 16, including last month’s shows (with PLQ) at the Orpheum in Boston." His face then lit up as he said, "Those shows were so fun and great . . . have you listened to a lot of the tour?" I told him yes and he then told me that Phil himself said to be ready for another Fall Tour. He later said that he invited Phil and Jimmy Herring to sit in on their 2.7 show up in SF, which did not occur. Modereko was jam city. A few vocals. Mark Karan covered Joe Jackson’s "Fools In Love" late in the show. The encore didn’t start until almost 20 minutes after the 2nd set which was strange. Great poster too. Props for Tony M for helping a man in need and another shout out to Nikki for being at like every show that I’m at too.
Hopefully a new feature, On the Scene with Surfin’ Steve will be part of the Insight next month, but he wants big $$$, so we’ll see.
And finally, at DT’s 30th b-day party he did it in style as he had the Atomic Punks, yes the Van Halen cover band, play his party at their recording studio in Hollywood. They rocked. Jello shots and tight pants. I got tell you their version of "Unchained" was right on the nose, if not better. If any of you have any Van Halen bootlegs, please let me know.
"On the Road, So You Don’t Have To Be"
That’s it for now,
Who’s my plus one?
Itzy
PS I had a great carne asada burrito with Mersh up in San Jose. It had cilantro, I took a bite and I surprisingly enjoyed and then inhaled it a rate faster than Paris Hilton’s video spreading across the internet.

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