"Sunfighter" - SLICK-KANTNER


GIVE YOUR LOVED ONE THE GIFT OF MUSIC — or film, or poster. The holidays are fast approaching, and what better way to support a local business that really could use our help right now than to buy some (or all!) of your gifts from a local record store! There are tons in LA, but Record Surplus (12436 Santa Monica Blvd) and Timewarp Records (12204 Venice Blvd) are two westside spots that I know and love. See their websites for store hours and shopping details.




Last week Nicole recommended another Thanksgiving viewing of “The Last Waltz,” the landmark farewell concert by The Band that was filmed by Martin Scorsese. Among the many high profile musicians performing were Van Morrison and Eric Clapton.

Together they not only have oodles of talent (um, Morrison lots more, in my book), but also reputations for being first class wankers. Recently the two have teamed for a series of anti-lockdown anthems, with “Born to be Free” to be released tomorrow.

I understand. You think I’m not totally sympathetic to the pain musicians and the venues they play are going through right now?

But “the cure is (NOT) worse than the disease.” 400,000 dead in the US by year’s end? Tens of millions infected? The UK just as bad. Please. A little perspective here. Bankrupt is bad, dead is dead.

Van has long railed against anything that cramps his artist’s style. But this one may do some real damage. It may cost lives. Not cool.


Our terrific local words and music salon Library Girl concludes two weeks of creativity jumping off from the title of the heart wrenching first song on the first album by The Band, “Tears of Rage.” The few I’ve caught have been moving, and all are available on the website. New performances are being posted today and tomorrow until 7 p.m.


I found a wonderful 1988 Fillmore concert video by Hot Tuna, the breakoff blues duo from Jefferson Airplane. Nearly three hours of gorgeous guitar and bass playing, acoustic, some slide, mostly blues, and some JA classics (a real treat). JA’s Paul Kantner made it a trio, their sometimes fiddler Papa John Creach did a few, as did sometimes JA harp blower Will Scarlett, and lord have mercy even Slick graced the stage, spectacularly.

That was 32 years ago — Kantner and Creach have passed, Slick at 81 is retired from music and the painting career she successfully pursued after music, and Tuna bros Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukenen are 76 and days short of 80, respectively, but I’ll bet you anything they can still pick and sing plenty fine.

In a 1998 interview with VH1 Grace Slick, never shy about the notion of getting old, said that the main reason she retired from the music business was, “All rock-and-rollers over the age of 50 look stupid and should retire.” In a 2007 interview, she repeated her belief that, “You can do jazz, classical, blues, opera, country until you’re 150, but rap and rock and roll are really a way for young people to get that anger out,” and “It’s silly to perform a song that has no relevance to the present or expresses feelings you no longer have.” Nonetheless, she did take a music stage a couple of times after that. For good causes.


Had a daughter, China Wing Kantner, now (gasp!) a month short of 50, retired as an actress. She is the infant hoisted up above a blazing golden ocean sunset on the cover of the Kantner-Slick album, “Sunfighter.” Like my daughter, she attended SMC and UCLA. Quite unlike my daughter, she obtained a degree in Christian theology at Loyola Marymount University.

Her middle name Wing is mama Grace’s maiden name. My wife quipped that she should make a big donation to the music program at UCLA and they could build the China Wing Wing. Which would amuse a few but need a whole lot of explanation.


Came from Papa John on “Killing Time in the Crystal City,” who arced his very lithe septuagenarian body towards the mic and sang,

“Had water for breakfast,

Fresh air for dinner,

You wonder why I’m gettin’ thin…”

Now, that’s the blues.


This is, I guess, the perfect time to put in a pitch for food banks. A lot of people will be scratching their heads over their socially distant online mail delivered holiday gifts (making Jeff Bezos richer than God). I love Nicole’s Recommend, above, completely. The gift of music? You bet. Do it!

But if you’ve got a little more you can give… The humanist side of me has been deeply saddened by the hunger we see growing exponentially in the U.S. If you’ve seen the news you have likely seen unbelievable lines of people waiting many hours to pick up one bag of food for their family, because they have little or none.

Is this America now? The politicians refuse to rein in the virus then spend their time approving a radical Supreme Court judge and spreading conspiracy stories about a stolen election then go on vacation without passing any relief for the American people so ravaged by this pandemic, physically and economically.

20M are out of work, 30-40M are due for eviction from their homes this month, and one out of five American children go to bed hungry. One out of five. That would be about 15,000,000 children. Made worse by virtual schooling. You can’t eat a breakfast or lunch your school used to provide, virtually, can you?

You have to be careful of charities, that they are not spending too much money on salaries and administration. From what I’ve seen, if you give 10 bucks to a food bank, they buy 10 bucks worth of food and volunteers distribute it.

We need a lot of things now, but nothing is more pressing than food. Find a nearby food bank and find out how you can get your donation to them, please. Thank you.

Charles Andrews has listened to a lot of music of all kinds, including more than 2,500 live shows. He has lived in Santa Monica for 34 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com