SoCal Surfing

26 07 2010

Given the new SoCal location, we were excited about the idea of surfing. This weekend was our first time out there on the water. It was awesome… wait, no, it was gnarly. Ok, so I’m not sure if I’ll be picking up the lingo any time soon but I love it. I think this will be the first of many experiences. To honor this new found love for the surf, here are a few classic surf tunes from The Beach Boys and The Surfaris.

The Beach Boys – “Surfin’ Safari”

The Beach Boys – “Surfin’ USA”

The Surfaris – “Wipeout”

The Surfaris – “Surfer Joe”

These are just a few but, who knows, there may be another post of some others as we get deeper and deeper into this whole surfing thing. A little side note about these songs: They are all from the early 60’s and were born out of the Southern California surf culture of the time. At this point surf music has almost entirely gone extinct, surviving only in a new more modern form from guys like Jack Johnson. As you might imagine, I’m partial to the original stuff. The style itself is really interesting with all the complex harmonies, propulsive medium to fast tempo drums and dominated mostly by the sound of the reverb soaked guitar from that era. All and all, it really conjures the iconic imagery of 1960’s surf.


More info on Surf Rock

The Beach Boys Official Site

More info on The Beach Boys

More info on “Surfin’ Safari”

More info on “Surfin’ USA”

The Surfaris Official Site

More info on The Surfaris

More info on “Wipeout”


15 07 2010

While in SF, I had to stop by the old Grateful Dead house at 710 Ashbury. The whole Haight/Ashbury scene was pretty heady back in the day and it seems to still resemble that… well, at least to some degree. Check out the picture I snapped of the house. It’s obviously pretty gentrified at this point compared to the old days. Check out my shot versus the one of the boys on the porch of their old digs.

In honor of the boys (and this little trip), I compiled a few videos below. I also wanted to include some great footage of Bill Graham from the The Fillmore: Last Days video. Bill was the brainchild behind The Fillmore and if it were not for him the place would never had lasted as long as it did. Nor would it have developed into such a culturally significant and iconic venue. Some would say it even personified the attitude of the era. This video is from the farewell concert for the beloved site, held on June 30th, 1971. First, take a look at Bill in this 2 part video:

Here are a few videos of The Grateful Dead. I’ve long been a fan, regardless of some of my misgivings about what has happened to the band in the latter part of their careers and the current state of affairs post Jerry Garcia’s death. The first one is of the boys live in the streets of San Francisco. I love this early stuff where Jerry had yet to grow his beard and Pig Pen was still rocking the keys and harmonica. Unfortunately, the Tennessee Whiskey and excess of drugs got the best of the guy just a few years into their popularity.

This next one is a cover of Them’s classic “Turn On Your Love Light” from Woodstock 1969. It’s a great song that uses a mambo rhythm and a common New Orleans R&B groove. This videos pretty cool and the songs is great.

This is another cool one. This time it’s the classic extended jam “Dark Star”…


More info on San Francisco

More info on The Grateful Dead

More info on The Fillmore

More info on Bill Graham

More info on Fillmore: The Last Days

More info on Haight/Ashbury

More info on Woodstock

More info on Them

Joni Mitchell | California

1 07 2010

I’ve been super busy settling in out here in CA. The last 2 weeks have been pretty crazy but yesterday we took the day to enjoy it a little bit. We took a hike with the dog up in Runyon Canyon and checked out some other areas of Hollywood. A friend took us to his old place up in the hills… a very cool area. He explained that at one point long ago Joni Mitchell used to live in one of the units in the same building. It got me thinking about this old tune, “California”. It’s from her 1971 album Blue, of which Mitchell has said the following:

“The Blue album, there’s hardly a dishonest note in the vocals. At that period of my life, I had no personal defenses. I felt like a cellophane wrapper on a pack of cigarettes. I felt like I had absolutely no secrets from the world and I couldn’t pretend in my life to be strong. Or to be happy. But the advantage of it in the music was that there were no defenses there either.”

It’s a fantastic album full of great songs and was recorded with the help of some really talented personnel, including Stephen Stills and James Taylor among others. Below is a great live version of “California” from a BBC session. In this performance it’s just Joni and her dulcimer. It’s really raw and intimate, which is perfect for this material. Although, the studio version with Taylor  (guitar), Sneaky Pete Kleinow (pedal steel) and Russ Kunkel (drums) is pretty cool too… check it out HERE.


Joni Mitchell’s Official Site

More info on Joni Mitchell

More info on Blue

More info on the Dulcimer

More info on James Taylor

More info on Sneaky Pete Kleinow

More info on Russ Kunkel

Buy Blue on

Princeton, CA (?)

3 03 2010

Princeton is an indie band out of LA. It started with twin brothers Jesse & Matt Kivel and childhood friend Ben Usen on Princeton St in Santa Monica. Although it began in 90’s, they officially formed after a prolonged stay in London back in 2005 after adding drummer, David Kitz. Currently, the band is  based out of the Eagle Rock (CA) area where they just recorded they’re first full length album, Cocoon of Love. When I first heard these guys, I assumed they were from the East coast given the name and their indie sound but once I figured out it’s an LA thing, it made a little more sense. Upon listening to the music, you can hear it’s a bit lighter than some of the stuff coming out of Brooklyn but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Much of their themes are centered around love but they have an interesting and creative approach to the subject, which I particularly like… the Lady GG is a big fan as well.  In fact she is the one who turned me on to it with their initial 2008 EP release, Bloomsbury. They sight some of their influences as The Kinks, Sam & Dave and Yo La Tengo, so you know they are on to something. It’s all good stuff… check it out.

I don’t know who these guy’s use as their visual artist but it’s good stuff. The videos and album covers look great and they have some pretty cool swag too.

Princeton performing “Clamoring For Your Heart” live in the KCRW studio

Another Song: “Show Some Love, When Your Man Gets Home”

Official Princeton site

Princeton on MySpace

Princeton Online Store… check out the cool Virginia Woolf T Shirt

CA Dreamin’

17 02 2010

Who ever coined the phrase “Home, Sweet Home” was not returning to 30 degrees and snow. Needless to say, as I stare out my apartment window onto dreary old NY I can’t help but think of LA. Hopefully this passes or it will be a long few months until the weather breaks.

This is a pretty bad ass version of California Dreamin’ by Jose Feliciano. When I started looking I found a bunch of covers of this 60’s hit written by The Mama’s & The Papas. There are versions by The Beach Boys, The Carpenters, Wes Montgomery, The Four Tops, Bobby Womack and more. I think Mama Cass and the rest of the group would be quite proud of what Jose did with it. According to John and Michelle Phillips the song was written in 1963 while they were living in New York. He dreamed about the song and woke her up in the middle of the night to help him write it. The lyrics are about a man in a cold winter landscape longing for the warmth of California… sounds dreadfully familiar.

This guy can sing. But then again, the blind guys always can. He was born blind from congenital glaucoma. Originally from Puerto Rico and one of 11 kids, he was first exposed to music at age three. At five, his family moved to Spanish Harlem and by nine, he played “professionally” on the Teatro Puerto Rico in the Bronx. Oddly enough he started his career playing accordion until his abuelo gave him a guitar. He sat by himself in his room for up to 14 hours a day to listen to 1950s rock albums, classical guitarists such as Andrés Segovia, and jazz players like Wes Montgomery. He later had classical lessons with a man named Harold Morris who had earlier been a student with Segovia (so just once removed from one of his idols). And then by 17, he quit school to play in clubs. What a childhood…

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