Friday, December 31, 2010

Out with the old, in with the new (I hope)

"It's the end of a fucked up year/...there's another one comin'"
                    --Embrace, "End of a Year"

Musically, 2010 was pretty fucked up for me.
My involvement in two long-term bands ended. In late July, I quit Ovipositor, due to personality conflicts. It was a tough decision to follow through on, seeing as that I'd spent a full seven years involved in creating Ovipositor music. In October, Barney Cauldron fell apart. I had spent three years attempting to lead that band, but I feel that my efforts were very flawed, and the resultant implosion was probably justified.
All that said, 2011 looks to be a bit brighter. I hope to be announcing gigs by a few new projects, both of which have arisen from the ashes of my last two bands, along with another project that is shaping up from simply asking around, "do you know anyone who is looking for a drummer?"
Happy New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Barney Cauldron at Stud, SF , 1/14/10

This footage was filmed to someone's phone, I think. Thanks to whomever it was that posted it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ovipositor Remembers Biscuit

This is a recording from August of 2005, from a show at the great Balazo Gallery on Mission St. in San Francisco. It was a fun, weird spot. The bands played in what had been a kitchen, down in the basement of the building. Punk Rock Perfect!
Biscuit Turner, singer of the Big Boys, had died a few days before the show. Everyone in this iteration of Ovipositor was a fan of the Big Boys, so we figured we'd try out their anthem "Fun Fun Fun" as a way of memorializing Biscuit. Colin graciously let me "handle" the vocals on this one.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lithium Milkshake-Live at Club Boomerang, 1992

Located at the west end of Haight St. in San Francisco from 1991 to 1998, Boomerang was a bar that would book any band. It did not have the air of exclusivity so vital for musicians' egos and their prospective fans' tastes. The stage was at least 9 feet off of the ground, so bands found themselves playing literally over the heads of any who might have been in attendance at a show.
The end of the longer clip features Lithium Milkshakes "end of set noise jam", something that I always enjoyed partaking in. I can recall one show at Gilman St. where we had a huge truck wheel well, made of steel. It sounded great, but damn it was heavy to schlep.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lithium Milkshake-Live at Cafe Prima, Fremont CA, 1992

As I've written a lot about Lithium Milkshake, I'll just let the videos do the talking. The last one cuts off, which is sad, because the song is a Rocker. Oh, well.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Barney Cauldron is Dead

In late October of this year, Scott called me and stated that he wanted to quit Barney Cauldron.
I must admit that I wasn't too surprised, but must also admit to being sad. Still, change is good, and, all in all, it was more fun than not fun, at least for me.
I'd like to thank everyone who played in BC. Your participation was greatly appreciated.
 The recording here was made in 2008, at Orange Sun studios in Hayward, CA. I feel it's the best recording of Barney Cauldron.
To quote Sun Ra, "Onward and Outward"!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Lounge Daze

In mid-2007, Laurin Askew left Ovipositor. Colin and I had already decided to take our time finding a new bass player. Still, I wanted to keep up a rigorous pace of drum playing.
After searching through craigslist for a few days, I found an ad, "Lounge Drummer Wanted". I'd never played drums in a lounge band, but was familiar with the Lounge/Exotica music of artists like Les Baxter, Yma Sumac, Martin Denny, etc. I figured it would be a nice change from the skewed sounds of Ovipositor.
This trio, dubbed Champagne Weekend by singer Anne-Marie Russo, lasted only a few months. We played tunes by Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra and the amazing Italian chanteuse Mina for the most part. It was fun, but I got bored with it pretty quickly. That said, I wish the guitar player, Frank, had accepted my offer of purchase for that amazing cocktail drum kit!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Barney Cauldron at the LiPo Lounge, 9/25/10

The LiPo Lounge in San Francisco is probably the most ignominious spot for bands to play at, seeing as that it's pretty much a "you book it, you rent it, you run it" affair. I am totally OK with that. I like having control that way. I think most musicians want to have a big deal made of their trip, and all of the accouterments that go along with "the show" seem to add to the fantasy. As for me, I'd really rather do it myself.
As such, BC booked it, schlepped the pa over, strung lights (anything to make that dank basement a bit less gnarly), and played with two great bands (the Midnight Snackers and the Grains).
I actually played less drums at the show, instead focusing more on vocals.

BC bassist Dan Kennedy suggested that there was a "darkness" to the proceedings, and I had to agree. Perhaps a result of having to do a lot of the dirty work ourselves? Possibly. Still, it was a fun show.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Barney Cauldron plays the LiPo Lounge in SF, 9/25/10

Another great flyer by Scarp Home! We will also have t-shirts for sale!
Above: Yours truly modeling t-shirt with Barney Cauldron logo. I did the initial design, BC bassist Dan Kennedy made it awesome, along with doing the silk screening.

Barney Cauldron
The Midnite Snackers
LiPo Lounge
916 Grant Ave.
SF CA 94108
21 and over

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Session work, pt. 2-Scorpios

Scorpios was originally on a solo CD by George Earth. I heard it and immediately loved the surging synthesizer line. On a whim, I asked George if I could produce a new, more drum-heavy version of the tune. The idea was to build up a "wall of drums" around that heavy synth line.
George gave me the OK, and I spent a day in April of 2008 at John Axtell's SOMA, S.F. recording studio building up drum and percussion parts for the new version. The middle part, where all of the drums fade out, and an electronic whine leads them back in, was heavily inspired by Brian Eno and his Oblique Strategies.
One result I had hoped for from this process was the re-invigoration of Shards, but with George being in L.A., and me in Oakland, that turned out to be untenable.
Above: Flyer for first Shards gig. I love the graphic that I designed. It was inspired by Magma's logo.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Session work, pt. 1-Torch Songs

For a few months in 2003, I thought I could make a living playing drums. Using the few connections that I had within the S.F. music scene, I managed to get a few gigs doing session drum work.
The songs here were from one of such gigs. They were written, arranged, and produced by Allison Lovejoy. Recording was done at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills.
Allison played piano and sang, Paula O'Rourke played bass, and I played drums. Paula and Allison are both great musicians, and I was really inspired to be playing alongside of the both of them.
I still love these tunes, along with the performances on them, and wonder if they've ever been legitimately released.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ovipositor-Live at KDVS O:RMF 2007

This was the penultimate Ovipositor show with Laurin Askew on bass (his last occurred at the Knockout in S.F., but it was not so good, nor that well-documented).
KDVS is a fantastic radio station, operating at University of California, Davis. They have a true free-form operation. They were also very friendly towards Ovipositor. Along with letting us participate in their Operation: Restore Maximum Freedom 2007 event, they let us play a live in-studio session in 2005 and played our CDs somewhat regularly.
Ovipositor played early on the bill, but we all seemed to have a great time, and played very well, despite the heat of the day. It was probably our best show with Laurin.
 Dig on Colin's particularly inspired solo here:

My best memory from this show is one of watching a hipster college student/music fan dancing during Colin's solo on While I Wasn't Looking.  It was a fun day.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lithium Milkshake-First Demo Tape

Lithium Milkshake was born out of a late night conversation between Justin Martin and I, which took place on Mowry Ave. in Fremont, CA, in the spring of 1990.  I was out on a late night bike ride, and saw Justin, with his characteristic long-armed amble, heading east toward Fremont's main drag, imaginatively named Fremont Blvd. I recognized him from Ohlone College, and knew that he was locally renowned as a gifted musician. I pulled over and introduced myself, and we spent a few hours talking about bands we liked, bands we didn't like, and the possibility of starting a band of our own.
Bands that approached their music making from an angle of Funk-Rock were all the rage at the time, but Justin and I wanted a lot more Rock and a hell of a lot less Funk in our sound. The first few bass players that we jammed with could not have gelled less with our concept, but thankfully we stumbled upon Hans Stahl, who had moved to the SF Bay Area from the Sacramento area. He posted an ad at a local music supply store; within one jam we knew that we'd found someone who had his own ideas about his music and his approach within it.  I suspect that Hans had some reservations at first, but he kept coming back as we scheduled practices and worked out tunes.
Within a year we had written several tunes, and were starting to play out. I have to give credit to Justin for that. He worked really hard to promote the band, get us on good bills, and generally push the group forward. With hindsight, we probably could have done a lot more. Bands from Berkeley, Oakland, and S.F. were tapping into the well-established touring/recording circuits built up by the two or three generations' musicians that had preceded us. I guess we held our suburban-ness as a kind of badge of honor, and never really got the concept of networking. This willful backwardness left us to fend for ourselves in most matters, and Justin, at that point, shouldered the load. I wish I could apologize to him now, for my selfishness as regards those dynamics within the process.
All that said, Lithium Milkshake did play on some pretty exciting bills:

Above: Lithium Milkshake choice gigs. Plaid Retina and Mudwimin were particularly amazing.
Above: Our place in Punk History-2/7/92 at Gilman St., w/ Neurosis.
Below: Not quite a tour itinerary, but, hey, it beats hanging around in Fremont.
The demos here were recorded by a guy named Wick, at his parents' house in Fremont, right next to the lovely Lake Elizabeth. I'm still embarrassed by some of my drumming gaffs, but what the hell.

My first stint in Lithium Milkshake ended in 1993. I was replaced by Tony Fag, an amazing drummer who could play a lot more simply than me. I think that the management team which had taken over the band at that point realized that someone with a bit more talent for the simple approach was needed, as the goal had become "get signed or bust". I was less enthusiastic about the idea, and also realized that I wouldn't have a chance in those waters. It was an easy decision to just move on, but it stalled my music making for many years to come, at least in terms of Rock band drumming.
Below: great flyer art by Hans Stahl. What a unique and talented guy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Barney Cauldron on TAV Strings Project

Scott Jones, guitar player of Barney Cauldron, set this up last year. He submitted several recordings done by BC, which were then posted every couple of weeks. TAV seems like a cool project.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sex is a Witch

This band was formed in a flash and went up in smoke, the whole thing lasting about eight months, from late 1996 until July of 1997.
Sex is a Witch started at Lennon Studios in S.F., where singer/guitarist Meri St. Mary was working the front desk. Meri had fronted a very popular band called Housecoat Project, and after several years off to raise her son and deal with some personal issues, was looking to start a new band.
Guitarist Mia D'Bruzzi had played in Frightwig and Mudwimmin, two amazing examples of S.F. Punk. Mia, an awesome guitar player (Strat w/ a Twin!) was looking for a new project.
Rachel Thoele, on bass, had also played in Mudwimmin. She had just left a popular band called Van Gogh's Daughter, and was looking for a new band as well.
As for me, despite being very sad about the recent death of Justin Martin and the ultimate end of Lithium Milkshake, I wanted to hit the ground running and get out playing as quickly as possible.
 Our first gig was New Year's Eve, 1996, at Lennon Studios Sound Stage, Dore alley in SOMA. This gig was a real victory for the band, and for me personally. For Meri, it was a kind of re-introduction to many of her friends and fans. I was satisfied to be playing a good gig, within a tight band, inside of the same building in which my pal Justin had passed away.
Several fun shows followed, notably at Kommotion, Stinky's Peep Show at the CW Saloon, and on Market St. for the (then) annual Summer Solstice "Making Waves" Fest. I also put together a show that featured my other band, Ahab, along with Sex is a Witch, at New College of California. This show was a benefit/fund raiser for Altaneze Taylor's Bright Moments Jazz Lover's Club. Ms. Taylor was at that time allowing me to try and start a program to teach kids in the Bay View/Hunter's Point area of S.F. the fundamentals of trap kit drumming. The objective was to raise enough cash to buy a small drum kit for the class.
Above: press release for benefit show at New College. I'm not sure that anyone who received one of these bothered to show up, least of all the staff at said college.
Above: flyer for benefit show at New College. Collage and lettering by me.

Despite the initial success, Sex is a Witch was fraught with inter-personal tension, much of it seeming to be baggage from old relationships between some of the members of the band. Practices quickly devolved into arguments. I just wanted to play, and as such had little patience for the airing of grievances. In early summer of 1997, I told the band, via phone calls to each member, that I would quit. Our last show was at the Bottom of the Hill, opening for Oxbow. The recordings here are from that show.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

More live Barney Cauldron pics

I just can't let my wife's great work go to waste. I also like how we look!
The witty and talented Mr. Scarp Home. A versatile musician, and a great guy.
Dylan prepares to blow...
Scott smiles and let's us know he's feeling good about it...
Dan focuses on grooving with it. Yeah, I wear Vans, what about it? 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Barney Cauldron live in Oakland, 8/3/10

This show was WEIRD. I guess it did not help that there were tons of little kids running around and jumping on my drums as I was trying to set up. Or having to interact with people that I've known to be kind of suspect. Those factors, and sad recent developments in my life, made it tough for me to focus and really play the BC music.
Live and learn, right?
Thanks to Melissa for coming out, taking great pics, and getting a headache. Oy! 

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Barney Cauldron takin' it to the mean streets of West Oakland!

Tuesday, August 3rd, Barney Cauldron will be playing in West Oakland, as part of the Synanon Free Street Fair. I've also heard of this event under a different name, National Night Out. I kinda like the latter moniker a bit better.
BC will play 8:30-ish, at 32nd. and Adeline. There will also be a Gospel choir and a dog show. Fuck yeah!
Unlike for the Ovipositor show at the Hemlock Tavern, there will be photos from this show. I guess I'll have to get a haircut or something.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Ovipositor at Hemlock Tavern, 7/29/10

It looks like there will be no photos.
That said, I felt like Ovipositor played ragged, but oh, so right. Cartographer and Generalissimo are bands with sounds built upon precision playing, and Ovipositor stuck out like a sore thumb in terms of that approach. Still, there was an energy to our set that left me really buzzing and SATISFIED.
The previous evening had Tom Herman opining that all 1960's Rock-n-Roll bands had to have a spot during which someone yells "HEY!" I figured that during Ovipositor's impromptu version of Tom's great Tripod Jimmie tune, While I Wasn't Looking, I'd pay homage to Tom and yell out some "Heys!" myself.
It was a fun night.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ovipositor plays the Hemlock Tavern in SF, 7/29/10

Dig the groovy flyer, made by Max Sidman! This should be a really good show. The Hemlock Tavern is a fun place to play, Cartographer will have a bass player, and Generalissimo are releasing an actual LP! I'll try and ask someone to take some pics with my trusty digital camera!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Barney Cauldron live at the Black Cat Bar in Penngrove, CA 7/16/10

As mentioned in the previous post, Barney Cauldron took our "Post-Everything Free Rock" up to Penngrove, in Sonoma county, for a show at the fabulous Black Cat Bar.
BC played there one time last year, but with a very different lineup. This show's version of Barney featured Dan Kennedy on bass, Dylan Haas on sax, keys, percussion and vocals, Scarp Home on horns, percussion, vocals, and loops, Scott Jones on guitar, and myself on drums and vocals.
As there was no other band booked, we got to play two sets. Set number one was the tighter of the two. We played one extended 45 minute jam, and actually had people dancing. I feel that if someone is going to dance while I'm playing music, I'll honor that and try to play rhythmically for them. It was nice to see people having a good time to our weird spaced out sounds.
Set number two was looser and weirder, broken up into three or four jams, including Barney Cauldron's version of Free Bird (played by request, yes there are actually ass hats who still call out for that old warhorse as some kind of ironic gesture).
Sadly, we found out that the Black Cat has been sold, and this 28 year old spot will most likely go through some serious changes. I'm sure everyone had fun while it lasted. Nothing lasts forever.
Above: as usual, I'm somewhat perplexed by it all.
Below: the boys in the band shout "SKYNYRD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Barney Cauldron plays the Black Cat Bar in Penngrove, CA, Fri., 7/16/2010

Leave it to Scarp to come up with a flyer like this! Gotta love the guy. This will be BC's first out of SF/Oakland show with our current line up. I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully we can deliver the goods!

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Ahab was a band that I played in from 1997 until 1999. It consisted of Bill Raymond on guitar and vocals, Tom Siebert on bass, along with myself on drums.
I was introduced to Bill through a friend of my sister. Our first conversation was  over the telephone, in which was talked mostly about Shellac, as I recall. We started to play together about a week later, and rehearsed with a religious zeal for the next two years.
Ahab was a very music-focused band. It seems to me that bands have all kinds of focuses. Sex, drugs, money, scenes. For Ahab, the focus remained firmly on music. At one point we rehearsed three times a week. We would have long talks about Rory Gallagher or James Blood Ulmer or John Coltrane.
Bill called the shots in Ahab. A native of Maine, he has an independent Yankee spirit, along with a real love of nature. He's a very meticulous guy, and one hell of a guitar player. I consider him to be the best guitarist I've ever played with. The tunes posted here were chosen for the most part to show just how ripping Bill can be when he solos. I still marvel at his tone and songwriting. He's also enormously generous. He bailed me out of more than one financial jam. Along with all that, Bill also turned me on to SF Giants baseball. Thanks a million, Mr. Raymond.
Tom Siebert played the shit out of a great old Fender Jazz Bass. Bill and I could jam for an hour, non-stop, and Tom would calmly lay down these great walking bass lines, up and down the neck of his axe, without ever going out of time or key. His playing was so important to the band. Tom was obsessed with Buckethead, and attended/recorded his SF Bay Area shows fanatically. In a previous phase of his life, he'd been a major Deadhead. There is a famous picture of the Dead playing their last run of shows at the Winterland. Smack dab in front of stage right, you will see a red-headed guy clapping and smiling. That's Tom. Tom also had the foresight to record all of our shows, along with select practices. Tom showed me the importance of documenting your stuff. Up to that point, I hadn't really cared too much about doing that. Tom's mid-Western upbringing in Minneapolis gives him a bit of a reserved demeanor. He's a pretty sensitive guy, and this cruel world has often been tough on him. I hope he's doing well these days.
San Francisco was at that time going through the Dot Com boom, an event which changed the city, probably forever. Many of the smaller clubs, in which bands could easily get shows, had begun to shut down. The live music scene started to get really competitive as the pool of clubs began to shrink in the wake of city-wide rising rents. None of us in Ahab were particularly inclined to put in the extra hustle needed to book shows, so subsequently we did not play out that much. All of the practicing began to wear on me, and I left the band in early Spring of 1999. With hindsight, I wish I could have just suggested we take a few months' break. Ahab is the one band I've been in that I regret having left.
 The two tunes featured here were recorded at someone's warehouse/loft on Capp St. in S.F., probably in 1998. We were asked to play the show by a guy named Mark, who played  in a band called Helivator. Also on the bill were Hammerlock and the Solvents, among others.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Birdsaw live on KUSF

The two tracks here were recorded live at KUSF's studio, 3/3/1998.
Castro's Viagra would eventually become another song, Pounding Tin. The reason that it is instrumental here is that Robin forgot one of her pedals at her apartment, and had to run back over there to retrieve it. The fidelity sucks, but I love the fact that I pulled off a little drum solo in 10/4. Dan Laks's cool deadpan in the intro is a fine illustration of his characteristic sex-mad sarcasm.
Immediate Sky was never recorded after this occasion, and was dropped from the repertoire later in the year.[fulltext]=Birdsaw-Castro%27s+Viagra[fulltext]=Birdsaw-Immediate+Sky

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lithium Milkshake-Last recordings, 1996

Lithium Milkshake was formed in 1990 in Fremont, California.  Justin Martin played guitar and sang, Hans Stahl played bass, and I played drums.  I will post video with this lineup, along with a bit more descriptive writing.
The songs featured here were recording in mid-1996, at Lennon Studios on Dore Alley in San Francisco. This lineup of the group featured Jeff Alves on bass, as Hans had decided not to be involved in what was essentially a reunion try.  The group as configured played two shows, at The Edge in Palo Alto and at the corner of 6th St. and Taylor in San Francisco.
As mentioned in a previous post, Justin died on 10/19/96 in San Francisco.  Jeff has resumed his painterly ambitions.  I've seen his paintings posted on the web, and they are great. I'm not sure where Hans is.
I wish these tunes could have been recorded at a proper studio.  I love the simplicity of them. Justin wanted a stripped and slowed down set of tunes to work with. He seemed to be going for maximum emotional impact, by way of sheer simplicity in presentation.
As we worked on the tunes, he got sober, then fell off of the wagon. The last time I saw him, upstairs at the Paradise Lounge, he told me "I'll be alright" as he headed downstairs an onto the street.  I thought he was heading back to his home base of Antioch, but I guess he and Jeff had other plans for the evening. Justin died later that night, inside of our lock-out rehearsal room at Lennon Studios. 
I still miss Justin a lot. I wish he could have worked out his problems and lived longer.

The Lithium Milkshake tracks are copyright 1996, Lithium Milkshake.  I'm not sure who owns them.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My first show with Ovipositor, 2/25/2004

I joined Colin Frangos in Ovipositor in July, 2003. We spent the next four or five months working on songs Colin had written and trying to find a new bass player.  Ovipositor's first bass player had moved to another state, just before I'd come on board, in order to pursue post graduate work of some sort. 
Matt Carter answered our craigslist post right in the nick of time.  We were getting  a bit disheartened after several bad bass player auditions. He jammed with us one time, and both Colin and me knew we'd found our guy.
Now that we'd found a bass player, we could start working of songs that Colin had been developing, along with booking shows.  I was particularly excited about the prospect of playing shows with a Rock  band again.
Colin booked our first show through his pal Nate, who drummed in Nasturtiums, along with the first configuration of Ovipositor.  The Stork Club on a Wednesday night in February is pretty much a guaranteed bust in terms of money or attendance, but I couldn't have cared less about any of that.  I was happy to be playing out again. I was also happy to be doing so in the company of two very cool people, people that had enthusiasm for just making music. It felt great to be rocking out just for the hell of it, with no expectations except for the sheer joy of the process.
Thanks to Melissa for coming to the show and taking the great pics!