Aplscruf's Music Blog

Greg Townson – “My Friend The Night”

myfriendthenight380-333

Greg Townson‘s latest self-produced solo album, My Friend The Night, is a sweet blend of 60’s pop heart-warmers and heartbreakers. This is a nice album to listen to while cuddled up in a warm blanket, or twisting the night away with a warm friend. He gets to the point with most of the 12 songs clocking in right around three minutes, long enough to heat things up or pull in close for a slow dance.

Todd Bradley, co-producer (along with John DeAngelis), is his partner in crime in another band called The Hi-Risers. He also helps out on harmonizing vocals, bass and drums. Bradley shares writing credit with Allyson Bice on “Could Have Should Have Been”, showing off smooth, classic harmonies with Townson. Gussy Popp (vocals) and Anna Liebel (snare) also make an appearance on a couple of songs.

Greg’s alter ego, Gregorio El Grande plays a much meaner guitar with Los Straitjackets, although some of those surf sounds ring out a few times on this album, including Greg’s fun cover of “Linus and Lucy” (Guaraldi). Greg’s guitar skills are top-notch, whether he’s shredding his DiPinto at a Los Straitjackets show or caressing the chords, as evidenced on “North American Town”:

Greg Townson resides in Rochester, NY, where temperatures dropped below freezing there and all over the East Coast this winter. Grab a parka and a sweetheart, and hit one of his shows in New York before he jets off with Los Straitjackets to California in March. Check Greg’s show calendar here: http://gregtownson.com/ and Los Straitjackets dates here: http://www.straitjackets.com/shows

Support the independent artists who venture to your city and play small clubs and venues.  Support quality music.

Check out a few more reviews of Greg with Hi-Risers and LSJ here:

https://aplscruf.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/best-show-of-the-year-ii-los-straitjackets-and-deke-dickerson-at-the-tractor-11-21-14/

https://aplscruf.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/viva-los-straitjackets-the-rest-of-the-story/

https://aplscruf.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/meet-the-hi-risers/

 

 

 

 

 

February 17, 2016 Posted by | 2016, Greg Townson, Los Straitjackets, The Hi-Risers | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Best Show of The Year II: Los Straitjackets and Deke Dickerson at The Tractor 11.21.14

Pete Curry of Los Straitjackets

“Pedro” Pete Curry of Los Straitjackets

It was one of those Yin-Yang, bittersweet days.  Our Mexican-American friend Ralph passed away a few weeks earlier and we attended his memorial service on the afternoon before the Los Straitjackets show.  He died in the midst of doing something he loved: selling his folk art at a local art shop on the weekend of Dia De Los Muertos.  Not only did Ralph paint beautiful folk art, but painted several variations of ornate skulls and skeletons for Dia De Los Muertos that he was selling that day.

In such a perfect, almost supernatural coincidence, Los Straitjackets played The Tractor the evening after Ralph’s memorial service.  We told his loving partner Nancy about LSJ, who wear Lucha Libre Mexican wrestling masks and play instrumental surf music.  She was happy that we were going to do something so strangely appropriate after the service.  Ralph would have joined us if he could.  Maybe he did, in spirit.  The happiness and revelry of the night balanced out the somber atmosphere of the day.

On with the show…

Although I had already claimed Southern Culture on The Skids as the best show of the year, I knew I’d probably eat my words when I heard Los Straitjackets were coming to town.  The two bands even have their own collaborative album out entitled Mondo Zombie Boogaloo and toured together last year.

Los Straitjackets have been a favorite of mine ever since I saw them a few years ago in Stanwood’s Slow Foods Roots Music Festival.   They are a part of my musical family tree–artists I have grown to love that have a common ancestry in roots rock, who have either collaborated together or branched out with various cousins of that genre. LSJ have also gained a huge following in Mexico, and played to 50,000 people in Mexico City last year, two nights in a row!

To give you an idea of their musical style, here’s a fun one from their album, Jet Set:

After the memorial service, we had just enough time to change and Uber down to Ballard.  The traffic was reasonably light for a Friday, so we had plenty of time to grab some hearty food at Hattie’s Hat.  We first paid homage to Ralph with a big shot of tequila and lime.

Our friend Dean arrived earlier and saved us a spot at our favorite table, right up front, stage right.  Thanks, Dean!  Soon after, the first band set up.

Miss Mamie Lavona The Exotic Mulatta

Miss Mamie Lavona The Exotic Mulatta

Miss Mamie Lavona The Exotic Mulatta and Her White Boy Band strutted out to the stage to hearty applause. I didn’t realize this was a local Seattle band.  I’ve seen their name pop up a few times (pretty memorable!) and I believe they’ve played with LSJ in the past, but didn’t know the treat we were in for.  The band this night consisted of Miss Mamie on sultry vocals, Hugh Jardo’hon aka Eric Ray Anderson on electric ukulele, with other members on trumpet, keys, drums, upright bass, and clarinet.  Their jazzy, cabaret-style music took us way back to New Orleans. Miss Mamie’s downright sexy aura was mesmerizing.  The band was excellent, with fabulous solos on trumpet and clarinet.  They covered some old songs, but also included their own numbers, including a humorous one called “Flat Stanley”.

Hugh J'Ardon

Hugh Jardo’hon

Los Straitjackets, in their self-aggrandizing fashion, took the stage to a capacity crowd of cheering, whooping fans.  Everyone crushed forward as the band donned their matching instruments and egged on the audience with their arms raised in a plea for more noise and applause.

They wasted no time as they dove into “Pacifica”.  Here’s a video from a show last year in NYC:

Los Straitjackets performing "Casbah"!

Los Straitjackets performing “Casbah”!

“Casbah” is one of my all-time favorites, with the boys lined up bopping their heads in unison, turning sideways.

Eddie and Greg’s solos were bloody scorching.  It was so exhilarating to be that close and watch Eddie’s fingers at work.

Eddie Angel summoning the Devil out of his guitar

Eddie Angel summoning the Devil out of his guitar

Pete was also a kick on bass and had complex runs while mugging for my camera, as evidenced in the first picture, top.

Drummer Chris Sprague, aka Sugarballs, had furious solos, especially on “Sing Sing Sing” and also played to the audience’s applause by standing, waiting to hit the last beat, etc.

Sugarballs on Drums

Sugarballs on Drums

Deke Dickerson, in a straw cowboy hat and red jacket joined them, adding some super vocals to their instrumental music.  They have an album out which is a collaboration with Deke on old instrumental favorites, such as the Hawaii Five-O theme song (actually sung by Sammy Davis, Jr. in the seventies) and to some of LSJ’s own instrumentals with new lyrics.  The LSJ album, entitled Deke Dickerson Sings the Great Instrumental Hits is a hoot.  I laughed my way through LSJ’s original first song, “Fury”, where Deke decided a big-time wrestler’s voice would be appropriate singing the lyrics.  They played this one at the show, but first Deke asked the audience to clear a path down the middle.  He growled the lyrics in his best wrestler voice, jumped off the stage and eventually picked up a hapless audience member and flung him around in his arms, wrestler-style.  It was fantastic, and really got us going. Meanwhile, the band was onstage tearing it up, with a nasty solo by Eddie halfway through the crazy song.

Deke Dickerson

Deke Dickerson

He played several songs with them, also including the 50’s version of “Miserlou” with lyrics.  He first started off playing in the familiar up-tempo version, made famous in the movie Pulp Fiction.  He stopped after shredding a few seconds on his own sparkly DiPinto guitar (LSJ’s model with Deke’s name on it) and said he would do the earlier version–which we would like 50% less than the one we all knew.  Ha

I’m just now learning more about Mr. Dickerson, and I must say he is truly a renaissance man.  Along with Los Straitjackets, he is doing his part to preserve roots rock for future generations.  Check out his website and learn more about this multi-talented fellow.

Deke left the stage to LSJ for several more songs.

Gregorio El Grande teasing the front row

Gregorio El Grande teasing the front row

Besides being expert instrumentalists, LSJ’s showmanship and faux bravado just added to the entire entertainment experience.  We were completely immersed in their performance.

LSJ Coordinating Moves

LSJ Coordinating Moves

Los Straitjackets are now in the midst of touring with the great Nick Lowe for their Quality Holiday Review. In a twist of fate, Ian McLagan, famed for the band Faces, just passed away early December.  He was supposed to join them.  They will have a bittersweet tour, I’m sure; but nonetheless it will be the show to see if they play your town. Check out their tour dates and cities on Nick Lowe’s site here: http://nicklowe.com/

A few more pics:

10801692_681369721962111_2566763007884416605_n

No Hands! The Deke Dickerson Reach-around!

Eddie Angel

Eddie Angel

Gregorio y Eddie

Gregorio y Eddie

LSJ Setlist

LSJ Setlist

December 8, 2014 Posted by | aplscruf, Concert Season 2014, Los Straitjackets, Music, The Tractor Tavern | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Best Show of the Year: Southern Culture On The Skids at The Tractor Tavern 08.30.14

Southern Culture on The Skids

Southern Culture on The Skids

I know, I know.  The year ain’t over yet.  When the show ended Saturday, all I could say was, “That was the best show of the year!” I kept repeating it into the wee hours and into the next week.  I guess I should say it was the best show of the year, so far, in a small venue.

The warm Ballard evening started with an interesting and delicious meal at Stoneburner, conveniently situated across the street from The Tractor. In the summer months, they offer outdoor seating and open-air window tables throughout the restaurant and bar, attracting the sidewalk strollers’ attention. We took the only little table left inside the bar.  Inside, the wood-paneled walls and intricate details and furnishings harkened back to an earlier era. I ordered a cocktail that included suze, a French liqueur infused with a bitter root.  It was…different–not sweet, but a little floral.  We also shared a meat and cheese tray and managed to gobble down almost everything on it: piles of thinly sliced salami and prosciutto; a large strip of soft cheese; little mounds of pickled cucumbers, candied cherries, grapes and baby carrots.  We also shared a nice salad with a champagne vinaigrette.

We took our time with dinner and still had a few minutes to stop by Hattie’s Hat for a gigantic, hot homemade brownie and ice cream for dessert. SO good. I felt like a hedonist.

Inside The Tractor, the crowd pushed forward.  The first band, Johnny 7 and The Black Crabs was ready to go on stage. We eyed our favorite table stage right, but it was full.  We meandered to the other side and found our friend Dean near the backstage gate that led to the loading dock.  We re-introduced ourselves, as we hadn’t seen him since last December at The Big Sandy show. There was also a table on his side, which we found we liked even better this toasty evening because the outdoor breeze coming from the loading dock funneled its way toward us.

The Black Crabs: Johnny 7 Stuart, Brigitt Rains and Wesley Amundsen

The Black Crabs: Johnny 7 Stuart, Brigitt Rains and Wesley Amundsen

The re-invented Black Crabs have a few new members now.  There is a lot of band member swapping and sharing in Seattle.  Johnny Stuart, lead singer and guitarist, now works with a new bass player named Wesley Amundsen and drummer “Crazy Mikey” Daugherty, but occasionally brings in former members as guest musicians.  Brigitt Rains, formerly of The Swearengens, now sings with Johnny on a few songs.

DSC06341

Johnny and Brigitt

It was a treat to see The Black Crabs again. They played my favorites from their previous albums as well as several new ones. Their rockabilly sound is so appealing and authentic.  The band performs mostly originals and a few covers, including the catchy opener, “Say Mama”.  The trio blasted through 16 danceable numbers, but tonight the crowd was too packed to allow the space needed for two-stepping, Western Swing, or any other kind of twirling ’round.

DSC06370

The Black Crabs ended their show with “Blast Off” with Johnny edging closer to the crowd, holding guitar above their heads and rockin’ out while Wesley tilted his bass on one side and rode the thing while continuing to slap it and moved the audience into a frenzy.

Johnny teasing the audience

Johnny teasing the audience

Now the audience was well-primed for Southern Culture on the Skids.

DSC06400

S.C.O.T.S.

We had not seen Southern Culture on The Skids (S.C.O.T.S.) before, but knew they played The Tractor and other venues in Seattle for several years.  Originally from South Carolina, they have been going steady since 1983. They have also played with Los Straitjackets, including their big Halloween party/tour/album last year called Mondo Zombie Boogaloo.  Our friend Dean told us before that this was a must-see band. We were just happy to have another free weekend and time to see some live music.

Mary Huff

Mary Huff

The week before the show, I checked their website and watched some of their crazy videos.  The big wigs and go-go boots worn by bass player Mary Huff immediately reminded me of Kate and Cindy of The B-52’s. Some songs also reminded me of the silliness and party style of The B-52’s with titles like “Double Wide”, “Camel Walk”, and “Daddy Was a Preacher But Mama Was a Go-Go Girl”:


Their music, led by guitarist Rick Miller in a seersucker suit, was a quirky blend of surf, punk, blues, rockabilly, roots rock, and kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll. He had us completely mesmerized as his nimble fingers slid over his fret board delivering scorching solo runs. Drummer Dave Harman stood at the drum kit and pounded away, while keeping up a rapid-fire surf beat. He sported a nice bowling shirt at the beginning of the show.  He quickly removed it as things heated up and exposed his wife-beater t-shirt with the screen-printed phrase, “Free Mustache Rides”.  Even funnier was the fact that he had no mustache. Mary’s turn on bass was seemingly effortless as she thumped out fast, repetitive bass riffs and kept her cool, only showing the heat when powdering her nose and checking her giant bouffant wig on stage between songs.

Rick Miller

Rick Miller

Although the music stood alone and was entertaining in its own right, there are some hilarious traditions that happen at a S.C.O.T.S. show.  One is, if you are dressed in appropriate attire (extravagant and colored wig, go-go boots, 60’s dress or possibly a light blue tux), you may be invited up on stage for a little dancing.

Guest Dancers

Guest Dancers

If you like fried chicken, you might be asked to serve (throw) it to audience members during their song “Eight Piece Box”.

Chicken Throwers

Chicken Throwers


When Rick played “Jack The Ripper” he shredded that guitar in an extended solo and went all Jimi Hendrix on us.  He played his guitar behind his head, held it out over the audience, and eventually laid it down–not to light it afire, but to sit on it and make it scream.  Bizarre, hilarious, and fantastic, but without losing the quality of the blazing solo.

Butt Solo

Butt Solo

We were so engaged in the entire evening, we didn’t realize that it was almost 1 am.  Time had no meaning this night.  After their outrageous performance, we thanked each member and asked them to sign a copy of their latest CD entitled Dig This. Each member was so appreciative and friendly.  We’ll be sure to hit their show next time they come around.  I listened to CD with the ragtop down that next week.  I dug that.

DSC06537

Check out S.C.O.T.S. tour schedule–mostly Southeast dates the rest of the year.

September 28, 2014 Posted by | aplscruf, Big Sandy, black crabs, Concert Season 2014, southern culture on the skids, The Tractor Tavern | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment