HAS HE EVER HAD AN ICED TEAGEE?The first time I interviewed Gordon Gano, singer and guitarist for the Violent Femmes, he immediately turned the tables and asked me a question: "Does Tucson still have eegee's?"
"Of course," I replied, and we were off to a fine start.
It turns out that, according to Gano, you can't get a decent frozen lemonade in New York City (New York City!), where he lives, so every time he comes to Tucson, he heads for the nearest eegee's for a lemonade slushee.
Later in our conversation, I submitted to him my theory that the Violent Femmes' first album, the self-titled one from 1983 on Slash, was something like a folk-punk Catcher in the Rye. Some elaboration on that theory: I was the perfect age to appreciate that album when it first came out, and it was the soundtrack to just about every party I went to for the next several years. But a weird thing happened in the following years: The first Violent Femmes album had become not just a totem of my own salad days, but it became exactly that for several generations after me, which is, in this day and age of disposable culture, almost unheard of. It perfectly captured the angst and sexual confusion that every teenager goes through, and had translated as such to subsequent generations of confused kids.
Needless to say, he liked the analogy. Who wouldn't? It's quite a compliment.
But here's the crazy part: A month or two after I had fed him my Catcher in the Rye theory, I was in a bar in the West Village of New York City, when Gordon walked in. I walked over and introduced myself as the guy who had recently discussed the merits of eegee's with him and thought of the first Femmes album as the new Catcher in the Rye. We proceed to get drunk together on good beer and plot our opening of an eegee's franchise in Manhattan. "There's no good frozen lemonade here," he said again. "We need to change that." We ended up plotting 'til the wee hours, causing some trouble along the way, until we got thrown out of the bar at closing time.
I returned to the same bar a couple years later, where I again found Gano, and we essentially resumed the conversation where we had left off. For a few moments, I actually believed that I was going to move to New York and open an eegee's franchise with Gordon's funding--just so he could get a decent frozen lemonade when he wanted one. Unfortunately, the bartender remembered us, too, especially that the two of us together were "trouble." Again, we talked until closing time; upon learning that Gano lived in the same building in which I was staying, walked home together.
It's been several years now, and I have no idea if Gordon even remembers me. But I have a distinct recollection of the two nights that one of the most formative songwriters in my life was howling to me, in that distinctive whine that several generations have come to embrace, that he and I had almost no choice but to open an "eeeeeegeeee's" in New York City together. It's a bizarre juxtaposition: the author of one of the most sacred texts ever written about adolescent angst bemoaning the lack of decent frozen lemonade in his burg. And it's one I'll always cherish.
The Violent Femmes perform at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Saturday, Jan. 28. Eugene Chadbourne opens the all-ages show at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $25 at the theatre's box office; they'll be $30 at the door. For further details, call 740-1000.
COULDA BEEN A CONTENDERIs psychedelic-imbued shoegaze the new disco-punk? I've come across that prediction for 2006 in a couple publications recently, and they were all rags that get their advance copies well before the Weekly, so you do the math.
If that's the case, then The Black Angels might have a shot to break in during the aught-6. They do that drony, two- or three-chord thing we all know and love so much, drench it in a bit of wah-wah pedaled guitar, and dose it with just enough tension to keep things interesting. If you liked that Ambulance LTD album that came out a couple years ago (and I did), and aren't afraid of a goth baritone, U2 bombast and the occasional few minutes of the Brian Jonestown Massacre, it's safe enough to say you'll like The Black Angels' eponymous EP (Light in the Attic, 2005).
Dig those distorted, sluggishly simple guitar riffs (You, too, can learn to play rock 'n' roll guitar in five minutes!), the dark vocals that get emotive when they need to and ... come to think of it, I should start my own band. I never really learned to tune properly, and it doesn't seem to matter all that much when you're shoegazin'.
If it sounds like I'm ripping on these gents, I'm not. I'm just jealous I haven't corralled my semi-competent musician friends into becoming these guys first.
Catch The Black Angels headlining at Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St., on Tuesday, Jan. 31, on a bill that also features Lomita, Saint Rorschach and La Cerca. It all starts at 9 p.m. It'll cost you $5, and you can call 622-3535 for more info.
LIVE FROM SOMEWHERE NEAR SENEGALLura is a singer-songwriter from Cape Verde, which, as her bio informs me, is "an archipelago 300 miles west of Dakar, Senegal." Her recent CD/DVD, Di Korpu Ku Alma (Lusafrica/Escondida, 2005), reminds me of something you'd put on as background music for a family dinner--something the kids won't despise and something that won't offend the grandparents. Portions of the album hint at a sultrier version of what Paul Simon's Graceland would sound like if it was performed by a Cape Verdean woman with her sights on adult alternative radio play.
Fresh off an appearance at Globalfest in NYC, Lura performs this week at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave., on Sunday, Jan. 29. Opening the show at 8 p.m. is Batucaxé, a local samba band with 20-plus members. Admission to this all-ages show is $10. For more info, head to Solar Culture's site or call 884-0874.