Welcome back to my continued coverage of the Turn Me On Dead Man 2018 European Tour. This was day 6 of our journey and this would be our fifth and final show in Italy.
Back in the van!
Even though we had one more show in Italy we had to pass through Switzerland, which meant we had to deal with Customs!
A touring band passing through the Swiss border should be ready to take out all of their merch in order to assess how much stuff they come in with verses how much they leave with. They tax you for the stuff you sold during your visit. The stressful part is that they put a lien on your card, which in this case was around 1000euro. This is essentially a deposit which they return to you minus the tax as you leave the country. We crossed a couple of times so we had to do this twice…I believe we sold enough merch to generate roughly 9euro for the Swiss! This can also be time consuming, so plan for this if you have an early load-in.
Some shots from the drive
Crossing the Swiss border went smoothly and we could now enjoy our first glimpses of The Alps! I was gonna do a slide show here but the alps deserve an unobstructed format, so enjoy these in full!
Arriving in Torino
I forget the story about the archways over the walkways in Torino. Something about the ruler at the time wanting to be able to ride his horse around town without getting rained on or sunburnt or something like that. Anyone who knows the story, feel free to comment. Anyway, the architecture as to be expected, was stunning.
The venue was excellent and served as a combination bar/restauraut and music venue. This added to the liveliness, as we were so used to walking into cold empty venues at load-in. It was nice to arrive at a lively spot full of people enjoying some drinks and dinner even if they weren’t there for the show.
A few minutes from a couple songs from our set that night:
It’s a rainy Sunday All Hallows Eve-Eve as I write this. It’s kind of a perfect backdrop to edit together a few clips from Dwight Twilleys’ set at The Starline in Oakland this past Tuesday (Oct 25, 2016). Perfect as his set consisted of acoustic renditions of mostly unknown recent songs of his, and it was actually a bit dreary. He had a strong opener and his voice is undeniable but he avoided most of the hits and this was a bit of a misstep for those that wanted to hear some pop with power! There were some special moments but I left with mixed feelings.
He’s been recording and releasing music steadily since the early 70’s and after a long and mostly unsuccessful stint in LA he returned to his hometown of Tulsa where he built a studio and became a fully independent recording artist who has continued to record and release albums to this day, on his own terms, DIY all the way.
I got turned on to Twilley by Gary Sperrazza in the early 90’s (he was an early champion of DTB) and wrote about him in the early-mid 70’s. When I first heard that voice, that delicate balance of melody harmony, big-hook riffs and the power and dynamics behind it, I was instantly hooked!
So, it was a rare and wonderful treat to hear that voice in person after being a fan for 20 years, never thinking I’d see him live, but the choice of material was a bit lackluster considering the amount of material he has to choose from. I don’t think he really considered his studio stuff suited to the acoustic format, so it seems as if he really held back as to not under-serve those songs which were crafted in the studio, and built up of layer upon layer of guitars and vocal textures. I beg to differ, I think certain songs like ‘You Were So Warm’ ‘I’m Losing You’ ‘Just Like the Sun’ or ‘Sincerely’ all off the first record…’That I Remember’ ‘Sleeping’ off of the second lp ‘Twilley Don’t Mind’ or even something like ‘Out of My Hands’ from ‘Twilley’ (3rd LP) with the brilliant lyric “When the Walls Around You Melt You Can’t Pretend”… would have made for killer moments in an acoustic format.
The only song he played from that period during the acoustic set was ‘Three Persons’ one of the poppier songs from ‘Sincerely’ which is actually better suited for a band in my opinion.
The other thing that sort of killed the energy level was that he talked quite a bit in between songs. He had us in the palm of his hand with his opener (the first song in the ‘acoustic’ vid below. I don’t know that song or what it was called but it captured both the strength and delicateness of his voice and had that beautiful darkness that pervades a lot of his music. He could have gone right into anything after that but decided to regale us with tales of Ye Olden Days of the industry…running around with Phil Seymour, chasing Hollywood excess and all the stuff that I’d love to read in his bio but in all honesty, just cliche Rock and Roll LA excess done better by others and not why we love Dwight. It was actually cool at first to hear about this but it just got a bit (a lot) long (he went on for 7-8 minutes) and then he went into another lesser known mid-slow tempo song about his adventures with Phil called ‘Good Things Come Hard’ (also in the Acoustic vid below). He then talked for another 5 minutes and as soon as he was finally ready to lay another song on us his mic went out! This minor technical difficulty chewed up another precious couple of minutes after which he played yet another lesser known song from 1999’s lp ‘Tulsa’ called ‘A Little Less Love’ then another short story 3-4 minutes this time and another slow tempo song. At this point he’s played 4 songs and we were almost 40 minutes in! It was a small crowd of old fans and a very forgiving one for sure.
After another 7 minutes of story telling he breaks out the first ‘hit’ from one of the early albums, the aforementioned ‘Three Persons’ from the first album ‘Sincerely’ which was at least something people knew but far from the best choice from that gem of an album.
10 more minutes of talking this time and then another slow tempo piece…
His 7th and final song of the main set was an uptempo number with a driving beat and would have been a good one to throw in earlier on to break up the slow tempo that dominated the set. This last song is the third song in the acoustic vid below. I apologize in advance for some of the washed out video.
He finished and left the stage after a long and rambling trip down memory lane accompanied by a handful of songs. After a healthy applause his wife, engineer and Tour Manager Jan Twilley who essentially helped him get his career back in his own control after wallowing in obscurity in LA for years, led a chant for ‘I’m on Fire’ as an encore. Dwight got back up on stage with the opening band to back him up on a pretty solid rendition of that very song from his first LP ‘Sincerely’.
He brought out some old promo posters of ‘Sincerely’ that sat in a box for 40 years and was really cool about hanging out and signing everything.
I picked up his release from last year ‘Always’ on his label ‘Big Oak’ and I’m really enjoying it. I had him sign that for me. I also really liked his 2010 release on Burger/Big Oak ‘Twilley’. That was the first I’d heard he was back and recording, though he had been for awhile and that’s a testament to the way he was treated by the industry. His recent recordings are as rich and warm and as hook-y as anything he’s ever done and I even wonder if a few of these songs have been around in some form for as long or if he’s just mastered his tried and true formula.
Honestly, I was a bit underwhelmed by the evening as a whole but really glad I went. It was a special evening for the old die hard fan but I would have been bummed had I brought someone to this show to turn them on to this legend of a musician and songwriter. That being said, he seems to have enough left in him to return and have another go at it, he still has that magic and with a proper band and a more focused delivery. he would easily slay…
Until then, let’s enjoy this video with Dwight and Phil Seymour joined by Tom Petty on bass (though he actually played some guitar on the album)
Last year I performed at NCNF and got to meet some great folks. I Hung out with some freaks and got to see Monte Cazazza perform a rare live set. I’m looking forward to the event this year and will be performing a 20 minute set on Sunday at 7PM.
Alphastare (2015 ncnf performance)
Also I’ll be rolling out there with V.Vale from REsearch Publications who will have a table set up with some top notch outsider zines and lit from his archives.
The Line Up
“Noise as a genre is the last screaming vestige of Punk Rock” (Lob)
Below is a link to an interview with NCNF co-founders Lob Instagon and Bill Burr on KFBK (Sacramento). Listen to some of the sounds and get a sense of what NCNF is all about.
One of the things I took away from studying this scene when I was a teenager, was the sheer eclectic nature of the bands that formed and developed around that time under the ‘punk’ banner. You had The Germs, X, The Blasters, The Screamers, The Mau-Maus, The Flesh-Eaters, The Weirdos, Alice Bag Band (The Bags), The Gun Club, Circle One, Circle Jerks, Black Flag, TSOL and many more! None of those bands looked alike or sounded alike at all!
I could go into this more, but I’ll let someone who was there talk about the diversity of the og LA scene (76-77) which really centered around Hollywood before it spread to the burbs . This recent interview with Alice Bag gives a better perspective, here’s an excerpt:
“First of all, I don’t think The Decline of Western Civilization shows the scene I was part of. I don’t think that was the mission of that film to depict the early L.A. punk scene, because by the time Penelope Spheeris was filming it, punk was already spilling out into the suburbs and taking on different flavors. One thing she captured in the film was the growing hardcore scene. And I think that hardcore scene brought with it a lot of white male energy that wasn’t present in the Hollywood scene. And she showed that shift. And if you look carefully at the film I think you can tell which were the bands that were part of the early scene because they were quirkier. They were not quite what is considered punk nowadays. The images and sounds and behavior [of punk now] were not associated with the early punk scene. It was open-ended and inclusive — as long as it was different from mainstream, it would fit into that scene. So that’s why what you see in documentaries doesn’t gel with what you hear people talking about from the early scene. And I’m talking about ’77, ’78, even the summer of ’76. People were coming in from glam then — it was a transitional year.”
After 40 years of being essentially underground and operating under the radar, still in music and in other realms such as activism and art and education and Feminism (important stuff largely ignored by the mainstream) she has emerged with a new book and a new record
I was lucky enough to make it to her SF show at The El Rio to witness firsthand what to me has become a lost sound. There is a distinctly raw yet fluid delivery with diverse elements that embody that classic LA punk sound such as Rockabilly and that 60’s girl group sound mixed with some garage punk elements, abstract brooding dirges as well as all out blistering pogo punk beats and Johnny Thunders guitar solo bends all mixed together tastefully, never too much of one thing, add a heartfelt performance and socially conscious and very relevant lyrical content and you have the best of the best here. Great show, great band, see for yourself:
Alice Bag SF 2016 (Clips)
All pics and video by Jeff K. 2016
A bit of a side note:
One of Alice’s guitarists, who is also on her new record, is an old LA friend of mine Sharif D. and he has a new band called Sex Stains and they will be releasing an album soon too!
PLAYING WITH HEROES
Another really good read below from one of the drummers Alice has on her album, Candace Hansen. Her experience really resonated with me as I had a similar experience in the mid 90’s when I was tapped to join an incarnation of The Flesh Eaters who also came out of this early wave of LA Punk bands. It’s always a bit surreal to think that I got to play in a band that at one point or other contained members such as Bill Bateman and Dave Alvin (The Blasters) John Doe and DJ Bonebrake (X) Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) as well as some collaborations on Divine Horseman work by everyone from Exene (X) to Texacala Jones (Tex and The Horseheads) Kid Congo Powers (Cramps, Bad Seeds, Pink Monkey Birds, Gun Club) Jeffrey Lee Pierce (Gun Club). I can totally relate to Candace’s experience in becoming a part of a history that influenced us immensely as kids. It’s such an honor and we are very lucky to have had this experience.