I sure wish I had my original Grunt Records promotional Hot Tuna t-shirt. Great shirt from a great band. It was this odd shade of orange with a lovable fish logo, maybe my favorite promo tee ever. I completely wore it out, to the dismay of my son who really coveted that one and liberated as many of my rock tees as he could to do his own wearing out, but he also cut off the sleeves and necks for his workouts which did not please me any.
Oh, those were the days, when rock scribes had half their wardrobes arriving in the mail in padded envelopes, some to maybe half their meals on the house depending on which city they lived in, of course, the best seats for every concert and the latest albums — those were necessities of life. You also got promotional watches, figurines, lunch boxes, guitar picks, hats, money clips (thank you, Buck Owens, I still carry it every day), trading cards, flashlights, pens, socks, millions of buttons, stickers and patches, all manner of PR-imagined doodads, some really cool, some weird and useless.
One of the most memorable: a small, thin heart-shaped mirror, no frame, just the back-coated glass, from RCA promoting the Kinks’ single “Mirror of Love.” Why was that different? It took you a while to understand that the words of the title, band, label were imprinted in red just under the surface of the glass. Hm, I guess so it wouldn’t wear off and would last longer. Then you flashed: oh. It was built to withstand repeated scraping by a sharp object, say a knife blade or a razor blade. It was the ‘70s, folks. I’m proud to say I still have mine, intact. Two, actually.
You could pay half your rent by selling off the vinyl you didn’t want. Strictly prohibited, of course. Many promo records had labels or stamps warning, “Not for Sale!” Which of course made them more desirable, rare and valuable. Even in Albuquerque, I used to get 50-60 discs a week. Keeping in mind the pay for this kind of work wouldn’t feed a mouse, which is why few music journalists were married, and when they got families they usually found another line of work.
You really can find anything online. I found that exact Hot Tuna shirt, the orange one, almost half a century old and looking bright and brand new like straight out of the padded envelope, claiming to be an original, not a knock-off. So I can have my favorite tee of all time again, for only $198.
Some things are best enjoyed in memory.
TONIGHT! — HOT TUNA with Steve Kimock (but the band is still around! great duo formed in 1969 by teen friends and Jefferson Airplane mates Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen during a JA break when Grace Slick had to have surgery on vocal nodes, the duo would open up for the Airplane, later did their own shows, played live from ‘69 – ‘77, a few shows in ‘83, then 1986 to the present, that’s longevity, baby, that’s the blues, acoustic and electric, Jorma a phenom guitar picker and vocalist and Casady one of the best ever bassists, this should be a treat, tonight is electric, a pricey treat but we are rapidly running out of legends like these two who can be counted on still, to deliver the goods), Thurs 9 p.m., El Rey Theatre, LA, $50.
TONIGHT! — SOUNDWAVES CONCERT (I have always found these concerts to be worthwhile, professional, highly skilled musicianship, challenging but enjoyable, Mark Robson PianoSpheres preview, contemporary piano music), 7:30 p.m., Main Library, Downtown Santa Monica, free.
TONIGHT! — WILD WING, Rumblepak, the Memories (it’s Wild Wing, get loose and go, they are wild, they’re a show, don’t be a grandpa), Thurs 8:30 p.m., the Echo, Echo Park, $10.
MIKE WATT + THE SECONDMEN, DOUBLE NAUGHT SPY CAR (great local double bill as the “new” bookers at McCabe’s continue to expand its footprint while honoring its substantial 60-year legacy — and my apologies to Koko and Brian for my goof last week of listing this show prematurely — Watt is a “Peedro” legend who co-founded the Minutemen in the late ‘70s, then Dos and fIREHOSE, put in 10 years with the Stooges and dabbled in Foo Fighters, lifetime achievement award from Bass Player Magazine but he’s a cool regular dude, I used to catch Double Naught Spy Car Sunday nights at the late lamented Liquid Kitty, four great players who go all instrumental and all genre, for fun more than virtuosity, can’t wait to see what they bring to this stage), Fri 8 p.m., McCabe’s, Santa Monica, $15.
OTTMAR LIEBERT (I just mentioned him last week as a reference to let you know how good La Santa Cecilia’s requinto picker Jose Carlos is, and now here he is! you can go see the guitar master his own self), Fri 9 p.m., the Rose, Pasadena, $24-$38.
THE LYRIS QUARTET with Hila Plitmann (you’re all the way out in P’sah-d’nah anyway, go see them first then bop over a little late to catch Ottmar at the Rose, he won’t mind, I love the Lyris, such a superb, finessed, gorgeous, daring string quartet, playing often in our don’t-miss Jacaranda concerts at the 1st Pres church Downtown, also used to grace some opening shows at the just-shuttered Jack Rutberg Fine Arts gallery, what a treat those were), Fri 8 p.m., Boston Court, Pasadena, $30.
LIBRARY GIRL featuring Poets from the VENICE COLLECTIVE (7, count ‘em, seven — oh, OK, you want to make rock stars out of them, here are their names: Mariano Zaro, Brenda Yates, Jan Wesley, Jim Natal, Holaday Mason, Paul Lieber, Jeanette Clough — and they are all award winners and why are they invading our airport theater? because they have a book to push, a new anthology titled “Angle of Reflection,” but Library Girl brings the best spoken word our way every second Sunday of the month for the last nine years, lucky us, with a special appearance by David St. John, Mason Summit opens the show with music, and there are… cupcakes!), Sun 7 p.m., Ruskin Group Theatre, Santa Monica Airport, $10.
7th ANNUAL BOWLING FOR BIRTHDAYS (what in the world?! this is supposed to be a music column that sometimes gets dazed and confused and wanders off into movie houses, art galleries, live theaters, bookstores, but bowling? well I’ll tell you, here’s the explanation, one, it’s a good cause and two, it’s my column and I can go crazy if I want to, also I love, love-hate, bowling since early teens, I was pretty good, threw a 254 game at 15 then after making plans to go on the pro circuit after high school was pretty surprised to find out that was it, my peak, at 15, and it’s been all downhill since but you don’t have to be good just willing to help out Cause for Celebration to raise money for birthday parties for kids who wouldn’t have one, homeless and foster youth, imagine how fun, memorable and uplifting that must be for them, it’s my special day and somebody cares! you can start or join a team, bowl for an hour), Sun, 10 a.m., Bowlmor Lanes — while they’re still here — Santa Monica, $20, $15 students, $10 children under 12.
BAND NAMES OF THE WEEK: Rico Nasty, On Drugs, Insect Surfers, Smile Empty Soul, Brian Jones Was Murdered, These Handsome Devils, the Tremelo Beer Gut, Smiles Davis, Tommy Tutone, the Drool Brothers.
Charles Andrews has listened to a lot of music of all kinds, including more than 2,000 live shows. He has lived in Santa Monica for 32 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at email@example.com