- My major achievement this year: HBO using one of my tracks for their new series “Enlightened” starring Laura Dern (Air date: 11/28/11). The song is a high energy Rock ‘n’ Roll remake of Woody Guthrie’s “Union Maid”, recorded with my Union Rock band The Rabble Rousers for our 2008 full-length CD release “New Hard Times”.
- Notable gigs included my eleventh anniversary of playing Irish music for New Haven’s St Paddy’s Parade Day; opening events for Ralph Nader, Reverend Al Sharpton and Punk legend Henry Cluney (of Stiff Little Fingers fame); playing the Oakland BOB Fest on electric lead guitar with Punk band The Sonic Reducers following a set of acoustic drinking songs with The Dammy Bhoys.
- This year I was proud to receive an Artist Award from the Greater New Haven Arts Council.
- Earlier in the year I wrote and recorded a song, “Put The Car In D” in support of the Democratic Party’s mid-term election fight in Connecticut; video for the song was provided by award winning film maker Eric Schrader. First Lady Michelle Obama is handed a copy. For weeks I toured the Democratic Party campaign offices and played rallies for the Dem candidates. On Election Day all my candidates won.
- Notable gigs: Go Dog, Go! Performance for Nursery school kids of my songs about dogs based on P.D. Eastman’s book of the same name; a solo set supporting Pete Seeger’s grandson Tao; Roots Rock band Big Bad Johns reunion; playing the AFL-CIO convention; sitting in with Brooklyn Punk band The Deacons
- Woody Guthrie presentation with Grammy winner Jorge Arevalo, curator of the Guthrie Archives in NYC
- Solo Union gigs include a performance on the UNITE HERE float in Labor Day Parade,Pittsburgh,PA and UNITE HERE Union Convention,Chicago
- German gigs this year: Rabble Rousers (Union Rock) and Dammy Bhoys (Irish Drinking songs) play the Bremen BOB festival; Rabble Rousers German mini tour
- Recorded “Health Care Is Our Right” with Noah Landis of Punk greats Neurosis inCalifornia
- Recorded Union Rock CD “New Hard Times” with Rabble Rousers band in Bremen. Personnel include members of German Punk icons Slime, Roots Rockers Velvetone, and Dammy Bhoys. CD rehearsed, recorded, mixed and mastered, all within one month!
- For 2 ½ months I lived in Virginia, helped register voters as part of Obama Election Campaign. Played often for the voter registration door-knockers and on Election Night, when we won
- 1000 copies of New Hard Times’ first pressing delivered to our extended stay hotel room in Hampton Roads
- English gigs at Bath Bob Fest: two solo shows, plus Punk band Special Forces reunion, also sat in with Rockabilly band Cheaterslicks, German Punk group Die Mimmis, English folk combo Heed The Thunder, and assembled international acoustic Roots/Punk group Hundred Dollar Quartet
- German gigs included: guest singer with Rubberslime on German mini tour; performance at Yale University’s German Cabaret
- Local Irish combo performances are now billed as The Dammy Bhoys; Union gigs are performed by The Rabble Rousers
- Begin playing lots of UNION EVENTS and PICKET LINES. This combined with an increased number of Irish gigs coincides with THE SWAGGERTS’ demise
- Solo electric gig supporting ROCKET FROM THE TOMBS
- Sit in on vocals with German greats RUBBERSLIME in Hamburg
- I write my first Union Song
- I appear as the Devil and provide the soundtrack to independent film “15 of 28” by film maker Dena Rosenberg
- Notable Swaggerts shows: a memorial in honor of local musical great Doc Cavalier (also featuring The Shags, Phoebe Snow, Marshall Crenshaw and B. Willie Smith); a gig supporting Dick Dale
- The German connection continues with a solo German mini-tour, a job translating liner notes for German label Bear Family, plus contributing music to and performing as part of Friedrich Schiller’s play “Wallenstein’s Camp” at International Schiller Conference at Yale University
- My first appearance playing acoustic drinking songs at Oakland BOB Punk festival.
- Sit in as bassist for Punk band Three Finger Demon
- Record for Acoustic Punk Compilation CD “Go Contrary, Go Sing”
- Swaggerts record second full length CD “Keepers Of The Quaich”,NashvilleTN.
“Keepers Of The Quaich” hits number 11 on the Top 30 Albums Report on Progressivecountry.Com.
- Guitar legend Link Wray signs my guitar the night The Swaggerts open for him
- The first of my yearly solo gigs as part of Yale University’s German Cabaret
- Former Punk band Special Forces reunion at Bremen BOB Fest
- Swaggerts record with Brooklyn poet Edie Evans, adding music to her verses;
Swaggerts play shows with Hank Williams III, Dick Dale
- Swaggerts’ first CD The Whole Story debuts in the top 50 on the Americana Roots Chart.
- Notable gigs: Swaggerts playToronto; In Germany I play a series of solo gigs and sit in with Roots Rock greats Velvetone; I sit in with Irish rock band The Reilly Clan
- Swaggerts head down to Nashville to record our debut CD “The Whole Story” at Chelsea Studio, (owned by Tom T. Hall)
- Notable Swaggerts shows: first ever gig – in Nashville on Billy Block’s Western Beat Rodeo; firstNew Havengig, with The Amazing Crowns
- My first ever Irish gig – opening for the Clancey Brothers at New Haven’s Toad’s Place; at the post-show party I sing the ballad Spancil Hill with them
- I play half the set with my former Punk band mates MDC when they perform in New Haven
- Roots Rock Band Big Bad Johns Southern tour; Big Bad Johns play Canada
- I sit in with female-fronted heavy rockers Mollycoddle
- Big Bad Johns break up
- Formed Roots Rock/Punkabilly band The Swaggerts
- Both Bands I’m in win awards: Big Bad Johns win Best Roots Rock, while Baltimore Foot Stompers are voted Best Punk Band in New Haven Advocate’s (New Haven’s Weekly Arts Paper) “Grand Band Slam
- I start playing with Big Bad Johns: first gig is opening for Dave Alvin at Route 1 South festival, Richmond, VA
- I attend my first BOB (Bremen-Oakland-Bath) Punk Festival (inBremen), and end up performing a spontaneous solo electric version of Slime’s “Bullenschweine” after Citizen Fish’s set.
- Formed Street Punk Band Baltimore Foot Stompers with members of The Pist and Broken
- Appeared on MTV as dancing cowboy in Ben Folds Five video for their song “Underground”
- Moved to Connecticut from California; continued teaching guitar
- Composed score for musical stage performance of P.D. EASTMAN’S classic children’s book “GO DOG, GO!”: ten songs about dogs in different styles that were not currently popular: Calypso, Rockabilly, Zydeco, Ska, Country Blues, Swing, etc. Matt Freeman (Rancid) helps out playing bass on the demos
- Began writing “Bill The Cat’s Guitar Column” in Maximum Rock N Roll Punk magazine
- Began writing Children’s Songs
- Joined Anarcho Punk band MDC; recruited Matt Freeman (Operation Ivy/Rancid) as bassist
- MDCU.S.tour (with celebrity roadie Tim Armstrong), MDC European tour
- MDC records “Hey Cop! If I Had A Face Like Yours…” LP
- Played guitar on Special Forces’ final LP, “Beer Sniper”; Tim Armstrong (Operation Ivy/Rancid) plays bass
- Son Daemien is born
- Played with Christ On Parade, Operation Ivy, Hells Kitchen, and Special Forces, all on the same night, as benefit for my Alma Mater and place of employment (guitar instructor),Contra Costa Alternative School
- Fang’s last gig before singer Sammytown’s arrest for murder
- Fang’s “Punk Rock Death” episodes one and two air on “A Current Affair” on National Network
- Fang U.S. tour; Fang recording session in Toledo Ohio
- Sat in with Ska Punks Operation Ivy
- Played with Rap/Punk supergroup Vincent Van Go Go
- Fang records “Pissed Off Buddha” LP (which is not released ‘till 2004)
- Fang European tour; Fang records “A Mi Ga Sfafaš?” LP in Bremen,Germany; Fang U.S. tour
- Sat in with Punk greats Capitol Punishment
- Played on and co-produced Metal/Punk crossover band Verbal Abuse’s “V.A. Rocks Your Liver” LP
- Joined Punk band Fang; Fang U.S. tour
- Played exhausting same night back to back full sets with Fang and Verbal Abuse @ The Farm, SF
- My Punk band Special Forces records second, self-titled full length LP; soon after, the band breaks up; our final gig is between two metal bands, Sacrilege and Legacy. Some time later singer The OX reforms the group with all new members
- Special Forces records first full length LP, World Domination
- Recorded 1st Deviants demo
- Formed Hardcore Punk band Special Forces
- Recorded Punk bands Deadly Reign, 13, Special Forces (First demo)
- Started Country songwriting collaboration with Bob Shekter, inventor of The Troll Doll
- Recorded with Power Pop group Art Death
- Played with Post Punk super group Wolvarines (feat. ex-members of Zeros and Dead Kennedys)
- Formed Country/Rockabilly band Wildcat Crew (with Hector from Zeros)
- Played with Hardcore Punk band Intensified Chaos; recorded first track on Maximum Rock N Roll’s “Not So Quiet On The Western Front” compilation with them
- Jammed with Reggae great Hugh Mundell and Reggae Punks Zobop
- Played bass with Post Punkers Your Firstborn
1982 was a good year; I was twenty five years old and had played in bands since 1976. Playing with these groups was really good experience for me, but they mostly played cover tunes with a smattering of originals thrown in, and besides playing gigs and having a good time my experience went no further than that. This was all about to change.
I was doing more teaching guitar than playing gigs. I was musically jaded, and searching for a new musical direction.
Teaching guitar at home, I asked my student John Gullak of SF Punk band The Mutants if he knew anyone that needed a guitar player. This led to a short stint with The Wolvarines, an SF Post-Punk super group that included former Dead Kennedys drummer Bruce Schlesinger (Ted), former Zeros (referred to as The Mexican Ramones) bassist Hector Penalosa, and the Friedman Brothers: Jimmy on vocals and charisma, and Bob on keyboards. My first gig with them was at the iconic Punk club MABUHAY GARDENS, one week after the audition for which I’d learned thirty songs (of which we actually performed nine) . I lasted two months with them till their breakup in March.
Within two months of the Wolvarines’ demise, Hector and I were playing gigs in a Country/Rockabilly band we’d formed called Wildcat Crew. Wildcat Crew played with artists such Chris Isaak’s first group Silvertone, and Rank And File, which featured the former Dils’ brothers Chip and Tony Kinman and Alejandro Escovedo.
The school year 1981 -82 was a fruitful time. That was the year of the Punks at CCAS, the high school for “troubled” kids where I taught music. I was 25 years old. Since I’d been playing in bands since ’76 I was qualified to share my knowledge; as a former student of the school, it wasn’t too hard to reach out and befriend some of the new crop of funny looking kids that began flocking through our doors.
Kids like Rob Noxious, Johnny Puke, Torrance Tang and Toni Trash, to name a few. Some kids played in bands with names like Deadly Reign and Intensified Chaos. Having already played in Early Punk type groups that emulated bands like Elvis Costello and Graham Parker and the Rumour, at the time I shared the “Punk is Dead” view of my hipster peers, but my young students were soon to set me straight and proceeded to put me on an entirely unanticipated musical direction. One day Rob Noxious, singer and guitarist of Intensified Chaos, did a very Punk thing and punched a wall, fracturing his hand – earning himself a heavy plaster cast on his left hand a mere couple of weeks before his band had scheduled an important recording session. Rob, my guitar student asked me to play on the session. We recorded six songs and it was really fun for me. The rest, as they say, was history.
One of the tracks –like the band, named Intensified Chaos – became the first song first side of the first ever Maximum Rock N Roll release “Not So Quiet On The Western Front”, a double LP compilation which represented just about every Northern California and Nevada Hardcore Punk band of that time. Every band on the comp had a page they put together themselves with song lyrics and band photo. This 47 page newsprint insert to the comp was issue number one of Maximum Rock N Roll magazine. The first page (after the cover) featured Intensified Chaos.Although I’m not in the band picture I am given credit, and three of IC’s members -my guitar students all – Rob, Torrance and Kris (plus drummer Critter) pose on and around a dumpster looking cool for the camera.
1/9/82 Wolvarines’ first gig with me @MabuhayGardens
3/82 Wolvarines’ last gig
4/6/82 Intensified Chaos recording session
4/22/82 Gig on bass with Post Punk band Your First Born
4/23/82 First Intensified Chaos (my First ever Hardcore Punk) gig! @ Ruthie’sInnw/ Bad Religion, Code Of Honor, Fuck-Ups, Free Beer
5/12/82 My second (and last gig) with Intensified Chaos @Berkeley Squarew/ The Undead
5/22/82 Wildcat Crew first gig
Bought a Tascam four track recorder
6/82 Jammed with Reggae band Zobop backing Reggae great Hugh Mundell
8/28/82 Wildcat Crew last gig (on my birthday)
10/82 Self-recorded “Jezebel” + “All I left Behind Me” with pick up band The Dead Cats
- I record a demo of harder-edged tunes with Jamie Vellve in L.A.; I release it with the title “Raw Souffle”, and begin sending it to magazines for review and college radio stations for airplay.
- Contradictions morph into Water Torture, who in turn become the Gyrations. Gyrations break up and bassist Steve Ashman founds the Zazu Pitts Memorial Orchestra: guitarist Michael Montalto goes on to found Honky Tonkers Red Meat
- I attend a Graham Parker and the Rumour concert on mushrooms – The gig blows my mind! I’ve found a new musical direction, a new attitude, and a new guitar hero, Brinsley Schwartz, whose blistering fills and solos are rarely more than a few seconds long
- Formed Early Punk band Contradictions; we make our debut at the now legendary Bryce’s Party, opening for a who’s who of Berkeley Early Punk bands: The Jars, The Young Adults, Strange Guest, The Outfits, and Scratch N Sniff
- Flyer breaks up; the rest of the guys continue as an instrumental Jazz Fusion outfit
- Formed Boogie/Prog/Southern Rock Band Flyer with guitar genius Tom Mackey
- Began Teaching guitar,ContraCostaAlternativeHigh School,Orinda,CA
- My first band: Spring thru Summer/76 – Moved to Montana with The Wooden Nickel Band; we played Roots Rock/Rock N Roll bar band music, lived on a ranch outside of Livingston and played tons of gigs thru-out the State. Was able to drink legally for the first time! Returned toCalifornia because of a girl…
- Graduated High School (CCAS)
- First Apartment – 40th St, Oakland – Determined to lock myself up for a year and perfect my guitar playing like Eric Clapton did
- Took a singing class atLaneyCollege, where I met bass player Duke Brekhus, who had a band that was moving toMontana
- Started playing guitar (after I break off the lock on the guitar case my deadbeat dad left sitting in his closet)
- First guitar lesson, with Joel Weber, teacher extraordinaire!
- Practice practice practice
12/6/1969 First Concert: Altamont Speedway Free Festival (Yes – THAT one!) Hell’s Angels, Rolling Stones, etc. My mother, 7th grade friend Oscar, dog Happy and I did not stay to see the Stones….. big sister Jeanette starts bringing me along to Rock concerts shortly thereafter. I am hooked!