Old Curiosity Shop
By Bob Davis dnry122@yahoo.com

There’s been a “challenge” on Facebook to name musical artists and bands that you’ve seen in live performance, listed alphabetically.  Some of the people answering the call have been active in the local music scene for “donkey’s years”—I didn’t get all that involved until I met Evie Sands in 2000.  I was rather amazed at the number of live performances I’ve been to, in locations ranging from dive bars to city parks to baseball stadiums.  With all the restrictions on traveling and gathering, we won’t see any additions to the list any time soon, but it’s fun to recall days and nights of musical enjoyment. 

A, Adam Marsland's Chaos Band (of course).  If one were to tally all the shows I’ve seen, AMCB would be at the top of the list.  I’ve seen this band in at least half a dozen different locations and even got to sit in on some of their numbers.

B. Bo Diddley, Ruth Brown and The Bangles.  Back in the 1980s, I belonged to the Southern Calif. Blues Society, which sponsored events at the long vanished Music Machine in West LA.  Among the legends of music who performed there beside Bo Diddley, I saw Joe Turner and Mary Wells.

Pat and I saw Ruth Brown at the Cinegrill in Hollywood; as I recall this was right after her long-overdue admission to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

 The Bangles appeared at a street fair in Alhambra—at  least 75% of them did.  Bassist Michael Steele was replaced by another player.  I also saw them at the Greek Theater back around 1987.

C.  Candypants: I first saw Candypants at an Evie Sands show in Glendale.  The group features Lisa Jenio, whom I have seen with other bands.  Lisa sings and on some of her songs plays the flute.

 Anny Celsi has been part of the LA music scene for many years.  I first saw her when she sat in with the Chaos Band, and she sometimes is a solo performer, such as when she appeared at one of Terry Okey’s Second Sundays shows at the Adams Pack Station in the hills above Arcadia.  One of her signature songs is “Au Revoir My Darling”, which she presents in a wonderful video set in New Orleans during Mardi Gras.  Back in the 1990s she was part of the Tearjerkers, who also included Danette Christine and Cynthia Jones.  I learned about this group by chance when YouTube suggested them.

D Dragster Barbie and Dream School Diary.  These two groups have Teresa Cowles in common.  Ms. T has played electric bass and sung with almost a dozen different ensembles here in Southern Calif.

E. Evie Sands (who else?).  Evie has been covered in a number of OCS columns; indeed if it weren’t for Evie and the Chaos Band, you probably wouldn’t be reading this. 

Elton John.  I saw Sir Elton at Dodger Stadium in Nov. 1975, with my daughter Vicky, one of her friends, and her friend’s brother, who drove us over to the ball park.

F. John Fogerty.  We saw the main man of Creedence Clearwater Revival at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles some years ago.  Vicky had seen him in a show up north (which is I think his native habitat and highly recommended him.  Since Vicky is a lawyer by profession, we told people that we went to the show (which was very good) on advice of legal counsel.

G. Jennifer Gibbons.  I first met Jenn Gibbons, also known as Funkyjenn, when she sat in with the Chaos Band at the Cinema Bar in Culver City.  A while later, I attended her CD release party at The Mint in LA on Pico Blvd not far from the old streetcar terminal at Rimpau.  A few months later she was appearing at the Old Towne Pub in Pasadena.  Earlier that day we had gone to a financial seminar and had dinner at a nice Italian restaurant on South Lake, then we headed over to Old Towne and a place that was more of a dive bar.  I saw Jenn before the show started, introduced her to Pat, and asked if the old Delaney and Bonnie hit, “Only You Know and I Know” was on the play list.  She said “You got it!”, and during the show introduced it with “This one is for Pat and Bob.”  More recently, at one of Terry Okey’s Second Sunday Sessions at Adams Pack Station in the hills above Arcadia, she dedicated one of her originals, “Shoulda Been My Lover” to me.

H. Heather Lomax.  I can’t remember where I first met Heather, but it was back when she performed under the name of Michael-Anne (long story).  I’ve seen her at tribute shows and also at Second Sundays in the hills.  One of her most memorable appearances was at the last Elvis Birthday Bash in Burbank.  She sang two of the R&B hits that Elvis recorded in his early days, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” and “That’s All Right” and just blew me away.  I was planning to attend her CD release party in April, but that, along with many other events this spring, has been cancelled or at least postponed.

I. IPO (had to cheat there)  This has nothing to do with Wall Street business, but refers to International Pop Overthrow, one more local scene that I learned about through Evie.  Not sure if it’s going to happen this year, but every summer for the past 20 years or so, David Bash organizes this series of shows at various locations around the Los Angeles area.  They feature five or six artists or bands doing short sets.  I think the LA series is the original, but there are IPO presentations in other cities, too.

J. Joan Jett.  Back in the 1980s, I was a member of the Joan Jett Fan Club; one of the live shows I went to was at the Country Club in Reseda on the day before my court appearance in Pasadena to have the judge “put the hammer down” and bring my first marriage to a final end.  She also opened for The Kinks (see next entry) and was the featured attraction at a show in downtown LA that I took Pat to.  She looked around and noticed that many of those in attendance were clad in black leather, a type of attire that Joan recorded a song about.  Her comment was “I’ve never seen so many dead cows……”

Joan Baez. My first wife was somewhat into folk music, which led us to see Joan Baez in the auditorium at Pasadena City College back around 1962.

K.  The Kinks.  I mentioned earlier that Joan Jett opened for the Kinks at the Greek Theater.  One interesting thing I noticed was that the audience greeted the newer songs with polite applause, but really made some noise when the older numbers were played.

L. Linda Ronstadt.  I first saw Linda in person at the Universal in September 1982.  I had just come back from a visit to San Francisco to ride what we thought were the last streetcars to run on the surface track in Market St.  This was one of her last “rock” shows before the Nelson Riddle era, and my daughter Vicky and I saw this phase live at the Greek Theater about a year later. A few years after this, I was back at the Universal with a lady friend from the Railway Museum for her Canciones de Mi Padre show inspired by her Mexican heritage.

M. Mighty Flyers featuring blues harmonica virtuoso Rod Piazza.  I think I first saw the Flyers at the Music Machine, then I became a regular at their Sunday evening shows in Riverside, which I attended on my way home from the Railway Museum in the 1980s.  In more recent years, Pat and I saw them much closer to home at the Arcadia Blues Club.

N. The Neptunas.  They are an all-female trio that specializes in surf-inspired music.  Pamita, the bass player knows my daughter Vicky, and I saw them at the Silver Lake Lounge on the same bill with Dragster Barbie.

O. Terry Okey.  Terry is a singer-songwriter whom I met at a Chaos Band gig at Brennan’s Pub for the last several years, he has put on his Second Sundays concerts at Adams Pack Station on Chantry Flats in the hills north of Arcadia.  For more about the shows in “them thar hills” check the OCS for Oct. 2015.

 Johnny Otis was one of the founding fathers of what we would come to call Rock and Roll music.  He had a radio show on KFOX in the mid-1950s from a record shop in Long Beach, and on a couple of occasions I made the trek down Rosemead-Lakewood Blvd to visit with him at the studio front window.  Back in 1956, we were taking a week at the beach in Balboa, and his live show was playing at the Rendezvous Ballroom near our lodging.  I went to the show, which would have been after the Stan Kenton era and before the Beach Boys.  I even met Buchanan & Goodman, who had just released their “Flying Saucers” novelty record.  Fast forward to the 1990s—JO and his band are playing at the Vine St. Bar and Grill in Hollywood, and Pat and I went over for an evening of musical nostalgia.  High point of the evening was the band playing Duke Ellington’s “Creole Love Call”, which just blew me away.  After the show we had a chance to chat with the master and talk of old times.  We went home, knowing that chances of seeing these musicians again were rather slim.

P. Peter Paul & Mary.  I mentioned that my first wife was into folk music, so back around 1963 we went over to the Hollywood Bowl to see this trio.  We had their record of “Blowin’ in the Wind” which our daughters called “The People Record”.
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R. Ronnie and the Classics is one of the “cover bands” that livens up summer time with city park concerts.  They play a wide variety of oldies, and usually do “Willie and Hand Jive” or “YMCA” for audience participation songs.

Martha Reeves opened for Ronnie Spector (see below) at Wolfgang’s in San Francisco on 20 July 1984.  I was in town for the Summer Trolley Festival on Market St., and after the streetcars were put away for the day, went back to my lodging and read the local newspaper.  This was back in the day when I’d be out chasing streetcars all day and still had energy to go out “clubbing” at night.  When I saw that Martha Reeves and Ronnie Spector were in town, I drove over to North Beach, and wonder of wonders, found a parking spot.  I had missed seeing Janis Joplin, but I was determined to see this show.

 S. Surf-Liners are not to be confused with the Amtrak trains that run along the California Coast.  They are not active now, but featured John Moore, Jr on the guitar Vicky Davis on the bass, and three or four different drummers, all of whom are, at last report, still alive (which puts them ahead of Spinal Tap).  They would do both covers and originals, including “San Onofre Meltdown”,“Ambulance Chaser” and “Wipe Out”.

  The Sugar Twins came from Watertown, Mass, which many years ago was served by an MTA streetcar line.  They came out west and appeared at an IPO show at Spaceland in the Silver Lake district of LA about 18 years ago.  I have a copy or their now out of print CD “Patio A-Go-Go”.  Ronnie Spector (as most of you know) was the lead singer of the Ronettes back in the 1960s.  She was married to Phil Spector for six years (and it probably seemed longer than that) and went out on her own in the 1970s. When I went to see her at Wolfgang’s in 1984 she didn’t sing any of her Ronettes numbers, and she wore an outfit that reminded me of Tina Turner’s costuming.  This was the show where I met Cassandra, who was a big fan of 60s music, and even got to meet Ronnie after the show.  Cassandra told me about how the local radio stations didn’t play enough of her kind of music, and when they did, the DJ chattered over the record.  I offered to make her a compilation tape; she was delighted and gave me her address and phone number, something that had never happened before.  I put together a tape from my record collection and sent northward.  Over the next year or two, I would meet with her for dinner at Tommye’s Joynt a few times.  I would tell my colleagues at work that I was going up to San Francisco to see my girlfriend, but this was a very platonic relationship.  Finally she decided to move back to her native New York, and I made her a tape for the road.  I received a few postcards and then she dropped of the radar. 

T. Joe Turner.  The “Boss of the Blues” was near the end of a long and eventful life when I saw him at the Music Machine around 1983.  He had to be helped to his chair, but he let us know, “Have no fear, Joe Turner’s here!”

U. Underwater City People are a local band that used to appear with the Chaos Band.

V. Ben Vaughn is a singer-songwriter whose repertoire includes a song that incorporates a lot of French words that have been adopted into English.  He usually has Teresa Cowles playing bass and adding backing vocals.

W  The Wonderelles were four women whose shows celebrated the Girl Group era and other pop styles from the 1950s to the 80s. Not sure if they’re still active, but they used to appear at summer park concerts in the LA area.  With their colorful costumes and lively presentation (including some audience participation routines) they knew how to “entertain the people”.

Mary Wells was one of the early hit-makers for Motown, but she left in the mid-1960s and didn’t really recover, even though she did make the charts for other labels.  I saw her at the Music Machine in 1984, and even though she was a bit jet-lagged from a long tour, she captivated us with “My Guy”, “The One Who Really Loves You” and many others.

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Y.  Weird Al Yankovic.  This goes back to the early 1980s.  I was doing my annual “Railway Night” guest appearance on the Dr. Demento Show at KMET, and after my spot, Weird Al did “Another One Rides the Bus”—rather appropriate since this was the bad old days when the return of local rail service to LA was a distant dream.

Z.  Zazzi Pico.  Going back to 2003, Zazzi was the female vocalist for the Sonic Fonics, the cover band led by Ray Chin, which included my son-in-law Lester for a number of years.  They had an afternoon gig in LA Chinatown, and I was able to go there on the newly opened Gold Line.  Not sure where she is now, but she did great on songs from the 1950s to the 1990s. 

Photo Gallery

Adam Marsland’s Chaos Band.  (L to R)  Adam, Evie Sands, Kurt Medlin and Rachel Wolfe (guest singer).  Almost out of the picture is Teresa Cowles.

Anny Celsi with Adam

Evie Sands with Teresa Cowles.  Note the color-coordinated axes.

FunkyJenn (Jennifer Gibbons) at Adams Pack Station.  This is where she sang “Shoulda Been My Lover” and dedicated it to me.  (Sorry, Jenn, I’m taken)

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Heather Lomax at  the 2019 Elvis Birthday Bash.

Linda Ronstadt in the early 1970s

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