Saturday, June 24, 2006

seven times hotter than fire

this week was busy, filled with horrible work travails and awesome musical experiences.

the work travails were mainly technical, as new computers for production were welcomed, although many wrinkles had to be ironed out. numerous people worked hard and late, but not me, as i had to fuck off to do other stuff. for once. but in spite of the fact that i was not at all the most hard-working person on the 22nd floor this week, i still had tons to do. i wrote my column and edited the extra section (summer dining issue, woo! ... if i do say so myself), but also i had accepted an assignment from the l.a. times to cover t bone burnett on tuesday at the el rey. there was some confusion for some over the show's location, as it got changed from the wilshire ebell theater, resulting in the weirdest setup i've ever seen at the el rey: the floor and sides filled with seats, which you got to occupy if you were holding a wilshire ebell ticket and wearing a red wristband; the back of the room for standing, which you had to do if you were holding an el rey ticket. we stood at the back behind the sound board, which is where i always stand b/c most of the time you can see best. this night, t bone and co. had brought in an extra sound board, so the space was a little cramped and, it seemed, mostly occupied by people i know. which is an increasingly rare occurrence at gigs nowadays. ironically (or something), with all those people sitting down, the sightlines were better than usual, despite the presence of view-blocking cameras.

anyway. this is what i wrote about it. it was an excellent show, and i am glad i went. what i did not write was that courtney love was spotted ducking under the tape that roped off the sound-board area (technical term), with frances bean in tow. i only caught a glimpse of la love as she walked back out; she was wearing a dress under some kind of patterned knee-length lightweight coat. her hair was cut fairly short in a sleek blonde bob. for about 30 seconds there was much twittering of speculation as to why she was there. i couldn't have guessed -- perhaps she appreciates good music? and then i had to go back to paying attention to what was happening on stage.

the next night, 00soul and i were lucky guests at the silverlake conservatory of music's annual fund-raiser, the hullabaloo. it was held at the edendale grill, and patti smith was the headliner. i saw a lot of friends i haven't seen in ages. 00soul knows lenny kaye from long ago, so i saw them chatting at the bar but felt self-conscious about wrangling an introduction. i drank tequila & tonics and munched some of the food: bbq, potato salad, mac & cheese, and other morsels of americana. it was a gorgeous warm night, and i was standing on the patio chatting away with some pals when patti smith suddenly appeared on the second-floor landing of the studio next door, where they had set up a green room for her and the other performers (also including jazzman joshua redman). a small, thin, slightly wild-haired being in her trademark white shirt, skinny tie, black jacket, descending the stairs slowly into deepening twilight, radiating a quiet power from her very core and riveting my attention completely. she disappeared from view for a moment, rounded the hedge separating the two businesses, threaded her way slowly through the crowd and made a beeline for the chow. i stopped watching her after that b/c i didn't want to look like a stalker. a person should have some privacy, even in a crowd.

on the party spun, through the silent auction, the live auction hosted by magician and offbeat impresario rob zabrecky, the various performances, meetings and greetings, etc. when finally the hour came for patti and her band (including a thoroughly delighted and musically besotted flea, whose brainchild the SL conservatory is), folks crowded into the dining room. for a moment we all seemed to hold our breath. and there she was. "jesus died for somebody's sins," she intoned, "but not mine." an old incantation, still potent. and so it began, her voice low and resonant, her singing as powerful as ever. at first a bit reserved, but somewhere in the midst of us all deliriously and lustily hollering back "G - L - O - R - I I I I A," she caught the love pulsating through the room and let it envelop her. she smiled, she talked, she made goofy jokes. her daughter jesse played keyboards, but i could not see her from where i stood. i could see patti just fine most of the time, except when she sat down to play one song.

oh, man. it is hard to put into words how it felt to watch her and think about her. each time i have seen her, the feeling has been the same. a low-level electric current, an intellectual and visceral thrill from her presence. i was riveted most of the time and when i did glance around the room, it seemed most folks were as taken as i was.

afterward we milled around a bit, and then i ended up standing by the office door, leaning on the maitre'd stand. patti smith and her daughter walked past on their way out. they sorta smiled on the way past, and i said thanks, that was beautiful. she said thanks and they walked out into the night.

then on thursday it was off to zen sushi in silver lake to see mick & andy do their thing. coiledsoul was an unexpected audience guest; here is her take on the evening. for myself, i was happy to see the doc on stage, bellowing them alien electric blues. they sounded pretty great, actually. highlights for me were the aztec calendar song and a beautifully dire "see that my grave is kept clean." but it was all good, and andy is a really awesome guitarist. they should get a band so they can be even louder. yeah.

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