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Legendary jazz bassist Charlie Haden plays with Minutemen, 1984
08:36 am


Charlie Haden

Revered jazz bass player Charlie Haden died on Friday at the age of 76. One of the hallmarks of his illustrious career (in which he won four Grammys) was his eclecticism, his ability to play with a wide variety of artists, a list that included musicians as disparate as Keith Jarrett, Ornette Coleman, Ginger Baker and Norah Jones. In the early 1980s, through his children’s listening habits, Haden became interested in the burgeoning American rock scene, including Meat Puppets and Black Flag.

In 1984 he booked seminal San Pedro punk pioneers Minutemen as an opening act at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. During the set he came out and joined the trio for “Little Man With a Gun in His Hand” from their hastily recorded EP Buzz or Howl Under the Influence of Heat.
Minutemen and Charlie Haden
The above picture comes from Mike Watt’s website; Watt’s caption reads, “santa monica, ca - 1984 / (from left) d. boon, charlie haden and mike watt (behind) / at mc cabes’. charlie jammed w/us in the tune ‘little man w/a gun in his hand.’”

This video comes from the never-released SST video Corndogs!, the only copy of which was stolen out of a van before it could be sent to the duplication plant—bootlegs of various bits have floated around for decades now. The quality of the video is pretty shitty, especially in visual terms, but even though the sound isn’t great, the overall effect still makes for pleasurable listening to my ears.

Here is a longer version of the same video, front-loaded with three other songs (“Two Beads At The End,” “Nothing Indeed,” “No Exchange”)—“Little Man With a Gun in His Hand” comes at the end.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Mike Watt stars in new Sweet Apple video: a DM exclusive premiere

Dangerous Minds is proud to present the exclusive premiere of the new Sweet Apple video, “Let’s Take the Same Plane.”

Sweet Apple is the indie supergroup formed by J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr, Dave Sweetapple of Witch, and Tim Parnin and John Petkovic of Cobra Verde. Their current album, The Golden Age Of Glitter, is earning raves, and “Let’s Take the Same Plane” is the third of a planned six videos to complement it. (You can see the first two in this DM post from April.) This one stars Minutemen/Firehose bassist and stalwart rock lifer Mike Watt as a kayaker launching his boat and roaming out into the Pacific, shot on the same San Pedro beach where Watt took photos for his book On and Off Bass. And that’s pretty much it. That’s all it needs to be! It’s a disarmingly poignant video for the album’s most contemplative song, a lonely acoustic number with gorgeous backup vocals from the Screaming Trees’ Mark Lanegan and Rachel Haden of the Rentals and That Dog.

Here’s the video. Enjoy.

Mike Watt is currently a member of il sogno del marinaio, who will be touring this fall. Dates are listed at his web page.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘No Slam Dancing’: Black Flag, Dead Kennedys and… Jon Stewart?

Henry Rollins and Greg Ginn during a Black Flag show
I’ve read an absolutely embarrassing amount of books on pop music for someone who’s never read Dostoyevsky, and over the years I’ve learned to make my recommendations with care. I’ve found out the hard way that not everyone is as interested in Ronnie Spector’s autobiography as I am (ingrates), and that it’s difficult to convince someone that you don’t have to be a metal fan to enjoy a book on the history of heavy metal. However, I’m completely serious when I say everyone will enjoy No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes: An Oral History of the Legendary City Gardens—it’s just that universal.

To give you some background, City Gardens was a music venue in the most unlikely of places, Trenton, New Jersey, a city that’s been on the rapid decline for decades. After the assassination of Martin Luther King, riots ravaged the downtown, and even the cops were looting (for welding masks and catcher’s helmets to protect their faces from flying debris). Insurance companies began to drop businesses’ claims, deindustrialization exacerbated unemployment, and suburban flight grew in droves—Trenton, NJ remains a pretty dismal place, economically.

However, where there is a void, there is also opportunity, and a giant warehouse in a rough part of town became the site of a musical oasis, all through the tireless efforts of a few committed fans and staff. The actual City Gardens building had been re-purposed many times before, from a grocery store to a car dealership, but when it was reopened as a disco in 1980, local DJ Randy Now approached the owner, hoping to find a venue receptive to his New Wave tastes. What began as a few weekly dance nights quickly paved the way to booking some of the best bands in underground music.

The Descendents in front of their perilous tour bus
Before you write off City Gardens as just another scummy punk venue, realize two things. First, the Trenton neighborhood it called home was volatile. While slam-dancing can certainly incur some injuries, to say City Gardens was merely “violent” is an understatement. It saw a lawsuit in 1981, not a year after it began booking bands, when a woman was brutally beaten with a pool cue in inside the venue. And this is to say nothing of the skinhead riot that occurred later. The late Dave Brockie, better knows as GWAR singer Oderus Orungus, said City Gardens was so bad, they’d never go there as fans. Second, when I say “some of the best bands in underground music,” I think City Gardens’ booking philosophy is best summed up in Mickey Ween’s forward when he said, “they did not cater to the audience.”

This was not just a punk or hard rock club. For every Black Flag and Danzig (who had their very first show there), there was a Bo Diddley, Sinead O’Connor, Lydia Lunch, Iggy Pop, DEVO, Bauhaus, The Ramones (who played numerous times), Ricky Nelson, The Violent Femmes, RIcky Nelson, or Toots and the Maytals! The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart was bartending during a Butthole Surfers set with a topless dancer and some careless DIY pyrotechnics! The Beastie Boys almost didn’t play and got their tires slashed, presumably for being late! Someone threatened to break down the dressing room door to stab Jello Biafra! The chaos and sheer wildness of City Gardens is what truly made it unique, and it even hosted all ages shows!

Al Jourgensen of Ministry
Co-Author Amy Yates Wuelfing pinpoints the preposterous success of it all:

City Gardens was in the middle of nowhere. Not Philly, not New York, but it was still a big club.  That fact that it was so close, and in the middle this dead zone, made the community of people who went there stronger and tighter. It was almost like college, you saw the same people all the time so they became your friends. That was the main thing for me. And unlike the clubs in Philly and New York, the pretentious element wasn’t really there.

What’s truly captivating about No Slam Dancing is the story-telling—it’s a complete oral history, meticulously collected from the memories and reflections of bands, employees, regulars, and all manner of City Gardens alumni. Over a hundred interviews were conducted to create an amazing compendium of anecdotes, and they don’t pull punches. Not everyone comes off well, and sometimes everything goes wrong, but the spirit of the moment is exciting and ambitious, and it’s all the more inspiring when you realize the entire fourteen year musical renaissance of Trenton, New Jersey was built from the ground up by Randy Now, the hobbyist DJ with a day job as a mailman. It’s an insane story, and I highly suggest you pick it up.

Below, Jon Stewart, Ian Mackaye and others talk about City Gardens in a trailer for Riot on the Dance Floor: The story of Randy Now and City Gardens.

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
D. Boon lives! The Minutemen documentary “We Jam Econo”

As Brad noted last year at this time, it behooves us to remember D. Boon, guitarist and singer for one of L.A.’s most innovative punk bands The Minutemen. His death after a van crash in Arizona 25 years ago today shook the entire L.A. scene, and nothing was the same. But the influence of the band survives and thrives, in no small part due to We Jam Econo, the Minutemen documentary directed by Tim Irwin. Here’s part one—if you like it, buy the DVD!

Get: We Jam Econo - The Story of the Minutemen [DVD]


Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Download 911 American Hardcore Tracks From 1981-1986 For Free

Steven Blush, author of American Hardcore: A Tribal History, has uploaded 911 hardcore tracks of his favorite bands for free.  Some of the artists include: Flipper, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Minutemen, Hüsker Dü, Dicks, Butthole Surfers, Cro-Mags and more!

Travel on over to 24 Hours of Hardcore compiled by Steven Blush and download the goodness while it lasts. 

Side note from Steven: “COPYRIGHT HOLDERS: I will delete your tracks at your request.

(via Das Kraftfuttermischwerk)


Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The Minutemen Have Disbanded
12:29 pm


Low-IQ Bufoonery


No, not Mike Watt’s band. The OTHER Minutemen. The racist, belligerent, uneducated psychopaths who decided to “protect our borders” from… uh… our entire service economy. I always considered these guys some of the biggest pricks in our country… who VOLUNTEERS their time to “beat up the damn Mexicans”?

I grew up by the border and regularly witnessed the reality of border crossing… large groups of desperate, hungry people walking through huge passages of 120º, inhuman conditions to try and get to the other side, in the (often vain) hope of getting some money from menial labor to send back to huge families in Mexico (labor that “real Americans” aren’t willing to do anyway). People cross in large groups for safety in numbers—many don’t make it back alive; they drop dead from dehydration or heat stroke, or literally get picked off by human predators who hunt these people to rape them or rob them of what little savings they are bringing with them. Often the only way to get across is by paying Coyotes, professional border-crossers who are adept at smuggling people across, but usually charge what amounts to somebody’s entire life savings to get across. And they often just run off with the money, or kill for it. It’s hellish. Oh, and what does that sound like, by the way? Like every story of how white America got started? The pilgrims, the pioneers, the Mormon Battalion? That’s what it sounds like to me. If the American dream still exists anywhere, it’s here, with people who are willing to sacrifice anything and brave any danger for the chance for a better life.

Now, imagine going through all that, and having some scuzzy fuck with a “Don’t Tread on Me” hat shoving a gun in your face and telling you you’re taking American jobs—cleary not his, though, because he has nothing better to do then sit in the middle of the desert looking for people to fuck with.

Fuck them. May they stay dispersed forever.

(AlterNet: National Minuteman Border Group Disbands)

Posted by Jason Louv | Leave a comment