Thursday, October 15, 2009


Has it been nine years already? Who does this guy think he is, Sinatra, or Brett Favre?

Garth, I haven't really noticed people beating a path to your door while you've been away, but I can't say that I was watching that attentively. Life with Trish getting dull? Couldn't cut it on the Padres? And what of your sidekick/alter ego/schizophrenic multiple personality disorder manifestation, Chris Gaines? Can he be also waiting in the wings, perhaps as your opening act? Will the black Stetson fit over his wig? Or will we see an ALL NEW stage persona this time around? One with a little talent would be refreshing. Or you could try that rodeo clown gig.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Les Paul (1915-2009)

The legendary Les Paul died today at 94 years young.
Pioneer, player, inventor, storyteller, Grammy Award winner and inductee of the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame - Les was all that and a lot more.

At 14, he made the first electric guitar from a railroad tie, amplifying the strings with a phonograph needle. After turning the world on its ear with the solid-body electric guitar, he backed many of the popular artists of the era, from Fred Waring to Bing Crosby to the Andrews Sisters and Nat King Cole. During the 40's he met and later married singer Mary Ford, and their collaborations over the next 15 years would sell millions of copies and yield several chart-topping hits, including "How High The Moon," and "Vaya Con Dios."

Les then turned his attention on mastering the studio, creating the voice overdub process, tape delays, and multi-tracking, popularizing techniques that have been adopted by every guitar player to come down the crossroads ever since. And he was still playing rings around johnny-come-lately whiz kids into his eighties. He still played every Monday night with his trio at the Iridium jazz club in New York City.

1600 humbly thanks Les' friend, audiophile and sound engineer Jim Reeves for his kind permission to use the photographs illustrating this entry. For an excellent tribute to Les and his career, visit Jim's website at

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Shocking New Jackson Family Allegations!

CNN: "Katherine and Joe Jackson a unique team" I'll say they are!

Until now, 1600 has stayed out of this controversy, but we can ignore it no longer. Yes, because you may not have been getting enough coverage of the untimely death of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, some news sources are going out of their way to make absolutely certain that no stone is unturned, no angle is not analyzed exhaustively, no unsupported hearsay, unsubstantiated rumor, or tidbit of gossip is too meager or scandalous to be pursued by their crack team of journalistic sleuths!

As Stephen Colbert put it, "I'll never forget where I was the first ten times I heard Michael Jackson had died." I feel your pain, Steve. And now this, the latest twist in a the Jackson saga, following Janet's story that she had staged "an intervention" but her brother instructed his bodyguards not to let his family on the premises, and Toyota's subsequent (and unsubstantiated) claim that he was murdered by one of his entourage. Jermaine on Larry King, swearing he had no clues that anything was out of the ordinary. Joe on seemingly every channel, talking about how he was responsible for his childrens' success. CNN even tracked down Bubbles for his reaction! Is it any wonder the chimp refused to comment?

Bubbles: "My alibi is airtight, copper!"

Then the toxicology results reveled high-octane sedatives in his system, the revelation that Michael took ten Xanex each night. The doctor, the last person to see Michael alive, fled, now under indictment for his complicity. Rumors of track marks, addiction, hair loss (was that famous pompadour really a wig?), a collapsed face from an overindulgence in plastic surgery, the often-sordid legal battles. The autopsy results withheld.

Yes, he was a cottage industry gone wild, keeping the tabloids ever busy with mortifying accusations, and a team of doctors, lawyers, spin-specialists, servants, and handlers employed around the clock keeping him on everyone's radar, expectantly anticipating his next word or gesture, and out of trouble.

"It burns! IT BURNS!!!!"

BUT since the mainstream media has totally dropped the ball yet again on their ubiquitous "All Michael, All The Time" coverage, we're stepping in!

As the picture at the top of this column recently unearthed by the diligent 1600 research investigative team graphically demonstrates, long before his life started spiraling out of control like a dream-catcher on meth, Michael's folks, Katherine and Joe Jackson, were "Stepping Out!" Yes, you heard it hear first, after years of watching his children in the Jackson 5, and later in their solo careers, grabbing Grammys and headlines, the patriarch of the Jackson clan went to the UK, donned a skinny tie, and began his own musical voyage, from power pop to classical and jazz, even covering classics such as "What's The Use of Getting Sober" and Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well." This is the kind of bitter jealousy that led poor Mike to estrange himself from his dear old dad, trying to steal his thunder on Billboard, and cater to a crowd of angry punkers and new wave poseurs "His Weirdness" never could reach. But as the years wore on, and his Al Jolson make-up wore off, Michael began to resemble Joe more and more, his skin approaching a translucent, ivory shade usually reserved for albinos, Republicans and vampires.

So, now the custody battle has begun, maybe someone who is borderline normal can take care of little Paris, Prince Michael and "Blanket" (Blanket? are you f***in' kidding me?! This guy had the nerve to name his kid after the rag Linus used to carry around for security? Good thing he didn't have any more kids, as he was clearly running out of other celebrities and inanimate objects for names...) Mom appears to have won the first round, but the court is now considering appointing a guardian ad litem to represent the childrens' interests, which may be contrary to Mrs. Jackson's. Really? People, can I get a "DUH?"

So where was Grandma when Michael was doing this?

Now some Aussie is planning the mega-tribute show, so we can all relive the high points, hysteria, and subsequent horror of his life and untimely death. And the Jacksons are now united in saying "waitaminnit, put on the breaks, here- we're not sure if we're ready to start making a deal." The circling vultures crow back: "If we can't get this signed five minutes ago, it could spoil the public's insatiable need for more dirt, speculation and innuendo on his last hours," etc. Right- we really need another VH1 special on "the heartbreak behind the hits." Not a dry eye in the house!!

Are you still there? Do I hear snoring! What's the matter with you? Have you maxed out on Michael already? C'mon- he hasn't even been dead two months yet! What are you going to do next year if the US recognizes June 18th as "Michael Jackson Memorial Day?" Do you support Congresswoman Sheila Jackson (no relation) Lee, who famously offered:

"Resolved, That the House of Representatives

(1) recognizes Michael Jackson as a global humanitarian and a noted leader in the fight against worldwide hunger and medical crises; and
(2) celebrates Michael Jackson as an accomplished contributor to the worlds of arts and entertainment, scientific advances in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, and global food security."

Does all this seem just a little bit over the top??? Um, with two wars going on, an economy still reeling from years of excess and avarice and health care out of control, do ya think the House of Representatives might have more important things on their plate than proposing more meaningless gestures toward someone who has created so much ambivalence over the last twenty years of his career?

Why couldn't they just say no?

Seriously, enough already. The guys' dead, OK? Just let him go.

"Michael Jackson in Disneyland
Don't have to share it with nobody else
Lock the gates, Goofy, take my hand
And lead me through the World of Self
Splendid Isolation,

I don't need no one
Splendid Isolation"

Warren Zevon

Sunday, July 12, 2009

National Health Care Debate, Goldman Sucks, Palin Resigns, Billy Mays, the Sotomayor Confirmation, Glenn Beck in decline, & Sen. Stuart Smalley?

After about eight straight entries on music, it's time to catch up on what's happening in the world around us. Faster and furiouser, trying to keep up with it all, I find myself dizzy from the information overload, accompanied by more spin than my bed in college after a two day Bloody Mary binge. But as far as I can tell, here's the scorecard:

The fight for National Health Care rages on. The right attack it as socialized medicine, citing the countless horrors from marginal medical treatment in Canada and the UK. Best line so far: Investor's Business Daily warned of end-of-life counseling asserting that people like Stephen Hawking "wouldn't have a chance" under socialized medical care. The irony (doubtless lost on these tools) being that not only is Hawking an English citizen (where all this allegedly shoddy nationalized healthcare has been in place for decades) but that after this bold claim was made, Hawking himself claimed that he wouldn't have survived without it.

Stephen Hawking: No complaints about socialized medicine from him.

As for Sarah Palin's unsupported allegations about the proposed plan creating "death panels" for senior citizens and the handicapped, "the Anchorage Daily News reported this last July, the situation in the state's Medicare- and Medicaid-funded in-home elder care program became so bad that the federal government had to step in and force Alaska to make necessary improvements."
"In one 2 1/2 year stretch, 227 adults already getting services died while waiting for a nurse to reassess their needs. Another 27 died waiting for their initial assessment, to see if they qualified for help."
The feds had been tipped off to the systemic problems "by doctors and other health care providers, who found the state unresponsive when confronted with their incompetence. No other state faced comparable problems." What a shock, Sarah the know-it-all allowing citizens of her state to die because of the incompetence of her administration? Oh, that's right, she hasn't been there to do her job for the last year or so while she was running for an office way beyond her limited grasp, or courting corporate sponsors. Can't wait for the Fox talk show to begin, to run against Oprah. Sorry, Sarah, but "The View" (apparently not of the eastern frontier of the Soviet Union!) is already taken. "Say it isn't so?" "You bet'cha!"

And here's some more statistics to undercut the insurance and pharmaceutical industries blatant scare tactics and appalling LIES about the "true cost" of health care: "The GAO estimates that a comprehensive national health plan would cost roughly $1Trillion over ten years. This is not unusual considering the size of US budget; we blow through about a trillion on the military every two years, and their computer systems are still obsolete by the time they get them. Anyway, if we kept our current system unchanged, normal costs--as they are now--would end up as $35 Trillion (yes, that's "trillion" with a "T", Dr. Evil!) over ten years, most of this being paid by the government anyway, so, you know, the "conservative" option looks like a national health service." (Many thanks to my pal Shane for the spot-on statistics that put this ridiculous argument in black and white terms that even the moron from Crawford should be able to get.)

Speaking of Sarah Palin: Another victim of the vast left wing conspiracy to deprive sub-morons from future occupation of the White House, Saucy Sarah announced that she was calling it quits, but she still can't keep out of the limelight in her desperate attempt to control the destiny of the Grand Oil Party. After blaming the "frivolous complaints" brought against her for charging the State of Alaska for staying at home in Wasilla; spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on wardrobe and personal items for herself, the "First Dude," and their litter of kids; having the state pay for their personal travel expenses as well as those of the esteemed Governor; dragging the name of teenager Levi Johnson, the unwed father of Ms. Palin's grandson and Crystal's ex through the mud after their acrimonious break up, and shilling for the oil companies in Alaska to try to derail a transition to a green energy policy, now SarahPAC, her campaign committee to back a run for the higher office she apparently believes she deserves, is now under investigation for bookkeeping issues and donating more money to campaigns of friendly candidates than is legally permitted. Ms. Palin, let me speak loud and clear for the 98% of non-drooling America when I say: "Don't let the door hit you in the ass."

Wow, what a class act. This qualifies her to be on tool calendars in garages around the country! But will that also make her an expert on engine repair?

Goldman Sucks: Yeah, mere months after they swindle American taxpayers out of $180 billion dollars, and paid back about 5% of our loan to them, these Wall Street fat cats have ratcheted up their salaries by an average of 33%, and recorded RECORD PROFITS for last quarter. In the mean time the national unemployment rate has surpassed ten percent, with five states registering over 15%! What the...? Bernancke (nominated to a second term by President Obama) and the Fed are so busy congratulating themselves that they've turned the economy around that they've completely failed to regulate those conditions which brought it about in the first place, and according to Paul Krugman, among other authorities, "Washington has done nothing to protect us from a new crisis, and, in fact, has made another crisis more likely." And now the risks they take are covered not just by speculative investors, but by all taxpayers, who will likely never recoup the money we paid to bail these thieves out in the first place, much less our share of the "profits" they make so long as they can dump that into hefty bonuses for themselves...
for more, read Paul Krugman's various essays in the New York Times about how these swindlers have kept people distracted and managed to amass more of our tax dollars to keep them rolling in dough while the rest of the country holds bake sales. And a tip o' the 1600 lid to Bill and Ray for following this story, and contributing to this post...

Billy Mays: Everybody was broken up over this guys death, which temporarily eclipsed even the passing of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson (more on that later). Am I the only one in the world that had no idea who this guy was? When an infomercial comes on, I reflexively change channels. He was an advertising pitchman, for crying out loud! AND HIS ANNOYING, MONOTONOUS 120 DECIBEL DELIVERY! IT'S THE SAME WHETHER HE'S SELLING COOKING UTENSILS OR KEYCHAINS! Couldn't he hear? Or did he have to sound like LIKE HE WAS TRYING TO COMMUNICATE THROUGH A BULLHORN? MAYBE THE COKE AFFECTED HIS HEARING? You decide. Still, he would have made a great play by play announcer for ESPN if anything ever happened to Chris Berman, because it always sounds like he's ready to narrate the highlight reel at any second...HE. COULD. GO. ALL. THE. WAY. Wait, I guess he already did.

Speaking of marginally talented newsmakers, Dick Cheney's out of the bunker and on the road with his "I'm Not Apologizing for Anything" tour: perhaps the longest running show off Broadway in 2009! Dead Eye Dick is on every politics show this side of MSNBC, writing letters to the editor, and out stumping for torture, spying, and the unAmerican Way. Even as reports from the State Department and the CIA have rebuked his claim that the use of waterboarding, dogs, and fire ants, threatening the families and children of prisoners, and warrantless wiretaps on American yielded any valuable information, Dick maintains that he and George Bush have personally kept every man, woman and child in this country safe for 8 years....except for that one really bad day they had in 2001 eight months after taking office and ignoring any intel generated by the previous administration. Now Dick is cryin that this is politically motivated. OK, Bunker Boy, I have 2 words for ya: "Valerie Plame." Now that Novak's dead, we'll never get to the bottom of that, but if you don't think that outing a covert CIA agent and endangering the lives of her contacts (at least a couple of whom were killed after that fiasco) wasn't politically motivated, if not outright TREASON, than gargle some more of the purple Kool Aid, and pray at the altar of Newt Gingrich for a new Contract on America. And thanks for the Act of Non-Contrition, Dick- see you at the Hague.

Hello, any intelligence in there? Mc Fly? Bueller? Helloooooo?

Oh, yeah: Not only does the report find there is no proof that the CIA's "enhanced interrogation techniques" led to ANY valuable information, in fact, these policies may have even impeded the process of learning about planned attacks and other details from the detainees.

Now, finally, in spite of resistance from the Obama Administration, Attorney General Eric Holder has finally nominated Special Prosecutor John Durham to conduct a "preliminary investigation" of the CIA's practices. But some see this as only a lukewarm endorsement by Holder to examine the record, as Durham is not empowered to prosecute any crimes that are revealed during the inquiry. Time will tell....

Methinks he protests too much. "Heckuva job, Dicky."

More sour grapes dep't.: And what of poor Glenn Beck, with his advertisers becoming scarce as siberian tigers, and pulling out of his show (and some, the whole FauxNews network) with tremendous abandon usually executed by rats on sinking ships? Maybe not everyone thinks that calling the President a racist and stoking your viewers to arm themselves and commit acts of treason isn't a wise move. Over 36 companies, including AT&T, Sprint, Geico, UPS, Proctor & Gamble, and even the ultraconservative Wal Mart have removed their ads from Beck's show. Do ya think this might be putting a dent in the bloated Murdoch disinformation empire? One can only hope. But boy, the letters and boycotts of Faux News advertisers sure seem to be taking their toll on this troll! And what of his cohorts like propaganda-spewing Sean Hannity? Take note: you're next, bub.

Glenn Beck: Talk Show Host of the Damned?

1600 also sends its belated congratulations to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, on her confirmation by a 68-31 vote, in spite of partisan bickering and claims that her "liberal activism" will lead to decisions that don't follow established precedent. At least a few of your colleagues need a reality check, and we're betting you're just the tough, self- reliant woman that can give them one- in a New York minute!

And last but not least, to the new (and improved) Senator Al: Stuart Smalley goes to Washington. 'Bout f*ckin' time! Coleman's not a sore loser, just like Jim Vitter, Sanford and Ensign are all upstanding, ethical, family values guys... Mr. Senator, you can do a lot of good here- be the leader we all know ya are, and don't cave to the special interests that some of your cowering colleagues let dictate their decisions. We fully expect that you will continue in the proud populist tradition of Eugene McCarthy, Hubert H. Humphrey and Paul Wellstone. Your state and your country will thank you.

You can call him Senator Al, Rush.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

It's Sunday, This Must Be The Church

Well, after catching my breath from Friday night's show, we turned back up at the State Theater Sunday evening for a raging display of guitar from criminally under-appreciated Australian progressive rock vets, The Church. I had eagerly anticipated this show since the last time I saw them at the Birchmere, and they filled the State Theater to near capacity, an odd mix of youngsters and oldsters, each very intent on hearing their latest work as well as a few old gems. We would not be disappointed, for the modest price of admission, we were ushered into sonic heaven.

At least, I hope that heaven sounds this good! Celebrating their thirtieth anniversary, and the recent release of another typically elegant new collection, lead singer/bassist Steve Kilbey, guitarists Marty Willson- Piper and Peter Koppes, and drummer Tim Powles (still the new kid on the block with fifteen years as half of the band's solid bottom end), they served up haunting melodies with amazing fluidity for a two hour set that spanned their remarkable songbook.

From "A Month of Sundays," off of their 1984 Release, Remote Luxury, to several brand new compositions from their latest recording, the music was pure, vintage Church. "After Everything," the title cut from the 2002 album, was a highlight, as was "You Took," off The Blurred Crusade. The band wove one trippy, hypnotic groove into the next, featuring early compositions beside fresh tunes from the new record. Untitled # 23 was well represented with lavish readings of "Operetta," "Pangaea," "Space Saviour," "Happenstance," and "Dead Man's Hand," all precisely orchestrated, powerful, and full of emotion. The band closed its regular set on a climactic high note, with "Under The Milky Way" followed by "Reptile" from their 1986 masterpiece, Starfish. And they pulled out another old chestnut with "Hotel Womb," serving as the final song of their encore. Sheer sonic bliss!

Don't even ask, just go get a copy. NOW!

These four guys kick out an amazing amount of sound: in one minute, subtle and delicate, the next a well-orchestrated cacophony, drenched in feedback but not a discordant note or a stray sound. One of my favorite moments had to be when Marty broke a string, and while he was replacing it, the rest of the guys broke into an impromptu rendition of "Girl From Ipanema," complete with Steve doing an appropriately- breathy vocal. To quote Getz and Gilberto, we all said "aaaahhhhhhhh."

Say "Ahhhh."

A typically excellent performance, once again underscoring their staying power: fans of the band will tell you that they only get better as time passes. Like few of their predecessors or contemporaries, this band had commercial success early in the 80's ("Under The Milky Way" and "Metropolis" were ubiquitous hits in heavy rotation) and then went on to perform critically acclaimed material. Kilbey, Koppes and Willson-Piper each pursued solo careers and side projects, still continuing to perform together, and demonstrating the mature musicianship and songwriting that has earned them an intensely devoted following.

But the really good news is, the band was recording that night, so those who missed it may even wind up hearing this someday! They have never put out an official live release (apart from the Jammed CDs, culled from some of the band's improvisations and practices), and it's LONG overdue. This is another prolific band that has remained under the radar too long; maybe thirty years into their career, they'll finally achieve the breakout success they deserve. The latest record (I can call it a record because actually picked up a vinyl version of the release) is only another compelling argument from a prolific and distinguished band for more people to rediscover their music and get back to the Church.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer in the City

Yeah, we know: "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life." That's why we try to set low expectations!

REMEMBER, if you will, that last year I stated that once concert season begins in DC, there are literally great acts to see every night, from Memorial Day until Labor Day, at any of a dozen or more venues?

Well, this year is no exception, and there may in fact be an even greater challenge than ever in trying to see all of the world-class artists who will visit here over the next few months. Fasten your seatbelt, here's just a few of the highlights!

For example, last month started out gangbusters. Even as we were getting covered in mud for your viewing pleasure at Celebrate Fairfax, Lowen & Navarro played a farewell show at the Birchmere (and our best wishes to Eric and his family with hopes he's the guy who will beat ALS), while John Prine and guest Steve Earle treated the crowd at Wolf Trap to a fine evening in the rain, even as Atlanta sax demon Will Scruggs and his band played 2 solid sets at Twins Lounge in DC. The following night, the Will Scruggs Jazz Fellowship lit up Twins again, Manchester's Doves gave a terrific 2 hour performance at the 9:30 Club, and David Byrne performed a wide- ranging set featuring much of his eclectic repertoire at Wolf Trap.
See what I mean?

On the horizon, more live events worthy of note (and perhaps some not so worthy) will be happening soon at venues throughout the DC metro area.

Thursday July 23rd, at the National Harbor, Oxon Hill, MD: a Jon Anderson-less YES, with special guests Asia -here's hoping Carl Palmer jabs Wetton in the eye with a drumstick, but "Only Time Will Tell" (retch)

And this Friday, July 24th at the Ram's Head On Stage in Annapolis MD: and on Saturday, July 25th, at the Birchmere, Alexandria, VA: DAVE ALVIN & THE GUILTY WOMEN!

Thursday July 30th, at the National Harbor, Oxon Hill, MD; Gov't Mule; and the very same night at the George Mason Univ. Patriot Center in scenic Fairfax, VA: TOOL!

Also, at the 9:30 Club, Washington, DC: renowned indie artist M. WARD, also appearing there for a second show on Fri. July 31st!

Thursday, August 6th, at the National Harbor, Oxon Hill, MD: THE DEREK TRUCKS BAND!

(thanks and a tip of the 1600 hat to our new friends at (or for their permission to borrow this great photo- see many more classic and current rock and blues icons on their sites!)

Sunday August 9th, at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA: New Orleans' first family THE NEVILLE BROS.!

Monday, August 17th at Jammin' Java, Vienna, VA: Eddie Jobson "The Ultimate Zero Project"- The band's FIRST US date, featuring (among others) Michael Bernier (from Tony Levin's Stickmen) on stick, and Simon Philips on drums!

Just up the road an hour or so, on Tuesday Aug. 18th at the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore, MD: Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, Michael Anthony and Chad Smith bring you the greasy boogie of CHICKENFOOT!

Weds. August 25th at Jammin' Java, Vienna VA: the ADRIAN BELEW POWER TRIO, featuring the indomitable rhythm section of Philly whiz kids Julie and Eric Slick, and of course, friend of 1600, the mighty Adrian Belew!

They also appear Mon. August 30th at the fabulous Ram's Head Tavern, in beautiful downtown Annapolis MD. DON'T MISS IT!!!

Fri., August 28th: Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD welcomes FLAMING LIPS!

And when the leaves start falling and the Autumnal Equinox is upon us...

Tuesday, September 1, at the Birchmere in ALexandria, VA: Vernon Reid, Will Calhoun, Corey Glover and Muzz Skillings, the original LIVING COLOUR!

Weds. September 9th, coming to Mariner Arena, Baltimore, MD: JOURNEY, with special guests NIGHT RANGER (Steve may get to hear a live Sister Christian this year!) - So, are you motorin' yet? OK, okay- you can stop believing now.....

September 15th: PHISH at Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia MD!

Friday September 25th, at The Ram's Head Tavern, Baltimore MD: PORCUPINE TREE!

Monday and Tuesday, October 5th and 6th, at the Birchmere: LOS LONELY BOYS, with the legendary ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO!

Saturday October 17th, at the State Theater, Falls Church, VA: get ready to boogie with southern rock legends, The MARSHALL TUCKER BAND!

And finally, on Monday, November 2nd, at the Verizon Center, Washington DC: The return of BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AND THE E STREET BAND!! Tickets on sale SOON!

Thanks to again to Steve Galli and the folks at Backstage Gallery for their permission to use the photo above- visit them at to purchase some excellent photos from a wide selection of great artists!

Still more to follow, as new shows are announced. Stay tuned, and drink one for us, OK?


There are few more delightful phrases in the English language than: "ROAD TRIP!" It immediately summons to mind madcap adventure, drinking to excess, coming of age, loud music, and a wild ride from the frat house to a roadhouse where much mischief ensues...and perhaps driven by such nostalgia, your stalwart 1600 team converged upon Pittsburgh, PA for the latest leg of the Phish reunion world tour!

Jerry voluntarily took the wheel, probably because he had the most comfortable car (or was it so he could control the stereo? hmmmmmmm) The weather was mostly on our side except for a couple of mercifully short-term rain squalls that were over almost as soon as the wipers were turned on. Still, he made good time and didn't get lost, and we arrived well before the appointed hour to check in at our initial destination, the only smoking room at a nearby hotel (Day's Inn? Comfort Inn? I wasn't paying attention). Of course, as the third wheel, I was stuck with the cot, but by the time I needed it, I probably could have slept on a bed of nails! And we were just a stone's throw from the venue, where we absorbed a couple of drinks and headed back down the highway to the Post- Gazette Pavilion in nearby Burgettstown, PA.

It's a nice park, with a good-sized lawn and good acoustics, probably about the size of Merriweather Post with easier parking. And the parking lot nearest to the gate had various attractions, from t shirts and hats to toasted cheese sandwiches, toys, jewelry, facepainting, and of course, gourmet gooballs, just like Steve described on the show! It was deja vu all over again! There were also bountiful food and beverage options once inside the park, and lots of picnic tables to accommodate visitors in comfort. The weather was perfect: mid-70's and a nice breeze, low humidity, and no bugs. The only impediment I could foresee was seating: while Steve and Jerry's tickets put them stage left-center about 6 rows back, I was about 20 rows back and not looking forward to the prospects of hanging out solo. If I was going to get sweated and barfed on, I preferred to know the source!

Fortunately, I managed to "float" down to their seats with Jerry's stub after he was in. Security was already preoccupied with stopping people from lighting up- mostly people smoking cigarettes! (ultimately giving up once the lights went down, from the sheer volume of the task of enforcing any rules with 30,000 people steadfastly ignoring them!)-even though the sun hadn't yet set. When it did, all hell really broke loose. And the security folk stayed behind their fences and we left them alone.

And the show? Excellent! Having seen these guys only once, back during their 90's heyday, I wasn't entirely sure of what to expect. Surprisingly, I was actually familiar enough with much of their set to know the words to a few songs, and soon joined in the revelry. The band opened with "Golgi Apparatus," from Junta. "Chalkdust Torture" followed, and then two favorites I'd seen at my only prior Phish show- "Bouncing Around the Room," and "Wolfman's Brother." The crowd went wild, and we all bounced and howled along with them. Of the rest of the first set, "The Divided Sky" was solid, Steve went on a beer run during "Heavy Things"(from Farmhouse), an excellent cover of the James Gang's classic "Walk Away," followed in short order by "Wilson," "Tube," "Alaska" (hysterical tune, the first time I'd ever heard it!), and finally ended the first set on another high note with "David Bowie."

Somewhere through the first set, a family (the parents perhaps a couple of years younger than ourselves) made it to their seats in the row just in front of us. Between Mom and Dad were 4 girls, I'd guess from about 6 to 12 or 13, watching closely and sometimes singing along, the smaller ones waving glow in the dark toys being sold at the park. I think a lot of people kind of reined it in out of respect for the kids, and many of us directed the beach balls and balloons that were getting passed around the audience toward the kids so they could bat them into the air. They left predictably early, but looking very happy to have been there, a good time had by all.

The second set kicked off with "Down With Disease", another good tune tune off Hoist, followed by an hour- plus long, practically non-stop medley that included "Free," "Guyute" (from The Story of the Ghost), "Piper," "When The Circus Comes To Town," and Harry Hood," finishing up with "The Squirming Coil" from Lawn Boy, and "You Enjoy Myself."

After a short break for the boys to catch their breath, they delivered a mostly a capella encore: "Grind," then into "Hello My Baby," the theme song for Michigan J. Frog, the hero of Looney Tunes' hilarious "One Froggy Evening." Next came "Hold Your Head Up," Pink Floyd's "Bike" (Jon Fishman singing it after apparently losing a bet), and finally "Loving Cup," with everybody back on their instruments, at which point the lights inevitably began to come back up....

Trey, Mike, Page and Jon appeared to be in good humor, signaling each other for chord and direction changes during songs, laughing audibly, and just generally looking like they were happy to be back out together and in front of an appreciative crowd. Taking bows at the end, Jon asked "how do you like my band?" earning another roar of approval from the many thousands who stayed 'til the very end. Sure, I would have liked to have heard "Sample In A Jar," or "Poor Heart," or maybe even a Talking Heads cover (they have been doing a few off the Remain In Light album on this tour), but I think everyone there was more than satisfied. In any case, this was one of the biggest tours of the summer, and they're sure to get out on the road again.

But after that three hours and change marathon, we were nearly as exhausted as the band, and yearned for the peace of the hotel. Somehow, we summoned our remaining energy and bolted for the car, getting out before the crush of fans all trying to leave the parking lot at once, and were back at the hotel and drinking again in under half an hour.

Big thanks to Steve Z for access to the great pics, and our recommendation to check out his site,, for more pictures, vids, and info on many of your favorite artists!

Cabaret of Souls

Not the State Theater in Falls Church, but a clever forgery!

Imagine, if you will: "American Idol," set in Hell. (Wait, am I being redundant?) And the Keeper of the Underworld, and his two Assistants, were there to judge and then mock each unwilling "contestant" after hearing their tales of woe. Like a dour, snarky Greek chorus, teasing them with their own pitiful words. You'd almost feel sorry for them, if it wasn't so funny!

Sound familiar?

No, there's no "yo, dawg" here awaiting successful performers, no slurred words from prescription medications, and that harsh review you hear wasn't from Simon, but his Master. And these performers were not prone to bad haircuts and off key notes, so I guess that's where the similarity ends.

This was the the basic premise- a talent show among the many lost souls consigned to eternal torture, that made for a darkly humorous and entertaining midsummer's evening. Leave it to Richard Thompson, and his hyper-creative mind to write a piece to honor the mastery of his old friend and colleague Danny Thompson on the occasion of his 70th birthday. The event was held at the State Theater in scenic State College, PA, for the International Society of Bassists 2009 convention.

The ISB's Madeleine Crouch, with guest of honor Danny Thompson, and conductor Peter Askim

The rest of the stellar cast included veteran RT collaborators Judith Owen, who, along with Richard, sang the songs of the damned, reluctantly trying to appease or amuse their captors, but to no avail. Percussionist extraordinaire Debra Dobkin, and multi-instrumentalist Pete Zorn capably assisted the Keeper, Harry Shearer, in further abasing and toying with the forlorn souls. Big Danny, of course, gently massaged and stroked his sturdy acoustic bass, while conductor Peter Askim led an 11 piece string orchestra, creating an eerily palpable musical tapestry on which each scenario unfolded: tales of heartbroken lovers, cosmetic surgery addicts, murderers, religious hypocrites, war profiteers, and other denizens of the dark realm, each protesting their fate and hoping in vain for redemption that never comes...

This much-anticipated event went off virtually without a hitch, in spite of a truncated rehearsal schedule (Pete Zorn hadn't even seen the score until three days before the show!) and a last minute change of venue. As per usual, Simon (Tassano, not the permanently perturbed Cowell!) provided outstanding sound quality so that every word, aside, and note carried to every seat in the auditorium. And as the show progressed, we laughed harder and harder as each tale was told.

I never knew that Richard Thompson's fan base overlapped with Slayer! Can a folk/metal tour be far behind?

It was a very unique and intimate performance, and the performers were kind enough to oblige us some friendly words and greetings after the show. At about this point, Lisa wryly observed "there's a thin line between fan and stalker," easily ranking among the best lines of the evening! But everyone seemed to be pleased with the show, and welcomed the fans after. Harry Shearer, in particular, appeared as much the awestruck fan as the rest of us; when I asked him whether he'd picked up any bass techniques from Danny, he grinned, replying "DUH! Why else do you think I'd be doing this?"

As the audience congratulated and chatted up the talented cast, another member of the Virginia contingent presented Richard, Danny and Judith with some beautiful pictures, signed by many of the fans who gathered outside the theater before the doors opened.
All seemed genuinely relieved that it was over, the strain of putting on such an ambitious project mixing theatrics, song, spoken word, and no less than 16 musicians clearly having taken their most heroic efforts.

And having very successfully performed this most unusual show, my thoughts immediately went to staging and recording the Cabaret of Souls with full dress, props, and backgrounds, a sentiment echoed by Richard's longtime friend and manager, Tim Bernett. He stated that it was certainly worth pursuing, if they can get sufficient backing. For my money, if record companies can pay millions to lobby over recording rights, or hyping hack "flavor of the day" cookie cutter pop stars, the least they can do is to support some worthy artists at the top of their game performing a clever, funny and engaging piece that will endure and entertain for years to come.

My thanks to Madeleine Crouch for her kind assistance in securing tickets, t shirts, and programs. And as always a tip of the hat and my compliments to master shutterbug Gus for providing these shots from the show, as our unofficial roving photographer!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


A beautifully summery Tuesday night at DC's Black Cat, and a chance to meet with old friends, catch up a bit, and revisit a favorite musical holdover from the seminal days of punk.

We totally missed Electric Frankenstein; I heard they were pretty good, and call me sentimental, but I love that name! The Bellrays were already on by the time we climbed the stairs with our beverages in hand. But we heard some fresh, raw metal/punk tinged with old school R & B, courtesy of vocalist Lisa Kekuala, somewhat reminiscent of Tina Turner fronting Rockpile, or maybe the Stranglers, after a few beers. The result was an unexpectedly pleasant amalgam one might consider almost contradictory, which instead came off as a hearty, raucous blend of disparate but complementary styles.

It was a great warm-up for the high energy performance that followed. The Damned arrived with all the confidence and poise you'd expect from their 30+ year run as one of the first (and best) punk bands ever to cross the Atlantic. Captain Sensible, clad in his ever-present red beret, welcomed an enthusiastic crowd, as Monty Oxy Moron (keyboards), and more recent members Stu West (bass) and Pinch (drums) settled in. Singer Dave Vanian, growling with authority, sprang onto the stage as the band kicked off with Love Song, still looking like an undead matinee idol, his otherwise jet black hair now accented by a shock of gray (one can only assume was natural) in the front, but fresh faced and full of gleeful energy. Soon a solid rendition of Love's Alone Again Or followed (which I never dreamed they'd play!), Vanian, Sensible and Monty substituting for the missing trumpet with a chorus of "bah-bah-bah's," which only added to the intimacy of the performance. More favorites, including Eloise, Antipope, New Rose, Neat Neat Neat (which segued nicely into a jam with the Doors' Break On Through, another rare treat for the faithful. Another highlight was a great rendition of Disco Man (with a great intro from the Captain discussing the 70's London disco scene that spawned them and the punk sound it inspired, a visceral pearl in a leisure-suited oyster choking on hot sand), Eloise, Ignite, Stretcher Case, and Curtain Call were all done in damn fine Damned tradition.

Playing a tasteful selection of some of their best songs from a long and well- documented career, the band kept a pretty frenetic pace throughout the evening. Captain Sensible warned us when songs featured on their most recent release "So, Who's Paranoid?" were coming, emphasizing that it was not an excuse to wander out for a smoke, or use the head, and he was absolutely right. The new material stacks up favorably with classic Damned, darkly moody and marked by the psychedelic nuances that they have displayed in every iteration of the band. Dr. Woofenstein was enjoyable, as were some of the longer (and more spacy) compositions, and featured a percussion jam with Dave holding up a drum for Monty. Of course, the encore ended with a spirited, manic Smash It Up, and we were out the door, and on our way back to the car.

E2 had skillfully copped the set list, which Vanian noticed missing much later, remarking that it was gone at least fifteen minutes after she had returned to our table, her prize proudly in hand! The crowd remained predictably appreciative but benign during the set, with the exception of some flashing boobs, which we missed from our perch in the back...And, somewhat surprisingly, I learned that the bar was admonished by the band not to allow any glass bottles on the second floor (apparently, some moe-rons still haven't figured out that musicians generally do not appreciate being hit with flying glass and don't find it enhances their performances) to prevent any untoward incidents. Do people still do that stuff to bands they expect will come back? Well, not last night, at least. So maybe we won't have to wait for years before their next visit!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

UPDATE: 1600 Mach IV

Greetings, Culture Lovers!

It's your audio-obsessed friends at 1600, not heard from since the early days of January, checking in once again! How have you been? What have you been up to? Have you been taking care of yourselves? You never write, we haven't gotten a post card in ages, your mother is very worried, and hopes you're not hanging around with those shows with the delinquent kids from the other side of the tracks!

We've been busy, taping new shows and trying to keep up with everything that's been happening in the manic music world! It's been a busy year already, so rather than waste any more time, we bravely leap into it, headlong:

Summer concert season is nearly upon us, and the clubs and the sheds have announced a number of killer shows coming through the DC/VA/MD metro area. Check our links page, for the schedules at the 9:30 Club, The Birchmere, The State Theater, Jammin' Java, The Black Cat, Wolf Trap, Jaxx, IOTA, The Warner Theater, and the Strathmore!

And don't forget local entertainment spots The Ram's Head (located in both Annapolis and Baltimore), as well as National Harbor, a recently-opened outdoor music arena just across the Wilson Bridge in Prince George's County at National Harbor, in Oxon Hill, MD! Shows already announced include The Wailers, Little Feat, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Gov't Mule, The Derek Trucks Band, and Yes with special guests Asia! For more info, see their official website:


Well, in his latest trial for the murder of B movie starlet Lana Clarkson, the diminutive Mr. Wall of Sound didn't walk away a free man again. Yep, on April 13, a jury of his peers (assuming such a bizarre group is possible!) convicted Phil of second degree murder, punishable by a sentence of fifteen years to life in prison. Sentencing is May 29th, stay tuned for more sordid details...

This year at Celebrate Fairfax, at the Fairfax County Government Center, 1600 will be broadcasting LIVE on Friday June 5, from the Fairfax Public Access tent! We'll be giving stuff away, and hope to have some special guests, so come by and say hello! Who knows? Maybe you'll wind up live on Channel 10, too!

Later this summer, our friend in Arlington, the legendary boss of bass, BILLY HANCOCK is bringing the British invasion sensations THE BRITISH WALKERS to town! They take the stage at Winston, in Rockville, MD on July 10th and 11th and at JV's in Falls Church, VA on July 19th and 20th! These will be their only area appearances so get out and see them while they're here!

Finally, our sincere condolences to the family of the late, great Lux Interior (nee Erick Lee Purkhiser) and especially, his wife Poison Ivy (Kristy Wallace) of the Cramps, who passed away on February 4th. Thanks for the great music, the wild shows, and many happy memories! You are greatly missed.

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Year's Hangover

Somewhere, Guy Lombardo is laughing at my pain.
Happy New Year to you, too- funny hat and all.

Too much cheap champagne last week, and I'm feelin' it. Ouch. Nothing says New Year's Day like blow out college bowl games, leftovers, and sweepin' up confetti, detritus, and broken glass- and that was just on the couch. D'oh!

So I stayed up to watch the Big Crystal Ball drop, fittingly enough at the hands of those wacky Clinton kids, Bill and Hill. Let's hope this is the last ball that gets dropped by the presumptive next Secretary of State- Condi's dropped enough of 'em the last 4 years to last a lifetime. And listened to Dick Clark slurring his quasi-intelligible New Year's greetings to the world, along with world class waste of oxygen, Ryan Seacrest. That very thought of that preening, tasteless ham could drive me to self-immolation after about 30 seconds.

And the Jon-ass Brothers? Fergie? The Pussycat Dolls? Taylor Swift? Fall Out Boy? Carrie Underwear? PLEASE! Their demographic won't be allowed to stay up until midnight for several years, or at least until they're fully potty trained! And Lionel Richie, for cryin' out loud! Not even a Commodores reunion! That guy hasn't made a hit record since Ford introduced the Pinto. You call that "Rockin'?" Maybe if you're in a rockin' chair, or perhaps on life support. I guess Dick couldn't get anyone more uptempo, like Perry Como or 101 Strings?? I had to turn it off quickly, before the urge to put my head in the oven overwhelmed me...

And while I truly enjoyed my all too brief and infrequent time off, this was certainly not the way to start the year off. A green Christmas followed by freezing cold, gray skies. No snowmen, snow angels, snowball fights or similar seasonal relief in sight. The tree's drying out and she3dding needles, and has to come down this weekend, before the cats can break any ornaments. 3 more long, nightmarish weeks of George W (which I finally learned stands for "What, Me Worry?") Bush, and his "legacy" (more bailouts, Medals of Freedom, and 11th hour pardons). The inauguration, just days away now, seems like an eternity and the new guy's gonna have his hands full, trying to dig us out of the hole excavated for us by our friends in Washington and their billionaire contributors over the last eight years. He's gonna need help, and lots of it. Fortunately, Obama calls in Spidey to save the day! What, you were expecting maybe Captain America? (Too late! He's pushing up daisies.) BAM! Bin Laden spits teeth. THWIPP! Spidey webs Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevitch's mouth shut! POW! Con man Bernie Madoff takes one on the chin! SLAM! The cell doors close on Henry Paulson for aiding and abetting in the biggest swindle in history. If only it were that simple.......*sigh*

And any glimmer of improvement, or something to look forward to, was brought crashing down to the depths of despair this weekend as the Giants flinched and Philadelphia overwhelmed them in a bruising, old school NFC East knuckle duster. The only ray of hope here is that the team should come back mostly intact and healthy next season. It's a long way to training camp in July...guess I'll have to console myself with a bottle of bourbon and my DVD of Super Bowl XLII and think about next year!

Oh, well. Back to the drawing board. The 1600 crew wish you a Happy New Year and many more. We're already hard at work, lining up that next cadre of great guests and getting the inside word on what is in store for us this year, from new recordings, to tours, to the special projects and events that will shape 2009! And Fairfax Public Access (FPA) turns 25 this year, so keep tuned in to find out about what you can do to help us celebrate a quarter century of service! See our links page to find out more. And keep those cards and letters coming in!
The piano's been drinking, not me. Belch!