Wussy!

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Above, from left, Joe Klug, Lisa Walker, Chuck Cleaver and Mark Messerly; off-camera, John Erhardt.

This has nothing to do with the Inland Valley, but it’s a chance to put in a plug for my favorite band, Cincinnati’s Wussy. They say they’re “bridging the gap between The Band and Sonic Youth,” and the band X is another point of comparison. Two friends and I saw them at the Silverlake Lounge on Friday night and we stood just feet away. What a thrill.

Also, I ran into co-lead singer Chuck Cleaver on the sidewalk before the show and he signed one of my CDs, took it into the tour van for everyone else to sign, and posed with me for a photo (see below). Try getting U2 to do any of that.

The sound’s not so hot, but I recorded two short videos on my phone: “Maglite” and “Yellow Cotton Dress.” Of course, Maglite flashlights are made in Ontario, so there’s your local connection if you need one.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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Jack White at the Fox

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The ex-White Stripe performed Thursday night at the Pomona Fox, one of the highest-profile concerts the venue has seen. (Green Day, Morrissey and a few more were bigger.)

After a set by the Cold War Kids, White — looking stylish in a black and white checked suit and a fedora — rocked the house for nearly an hour with 11 songs, took a short break and then returned for another 40 minutes and nine songs. Here’s the setlist. Either this was a really long encore or a full second set.

White was energetic, jumping around the stage, playing a lot of lead guitar (and, on a couple of tunes, piano) and moving quickly from one song to the next. We ate it up. Here’s my colleague Wes Woods’ review, with a video.

An announcement before the old-school White came on asked that people “enjoy the moment” rather than take photos. This got a cheer of approval, surprisingly. Professional photos would be taken, posted on White’s website and available for download for anyone who wanted mementos, we were told. While some around me on the floor did take photos anyway, there were a lot fewer than is typical at a concert these days.

So, that explains the two high-quality images with this blog post. You can find more on White’s site.

White has performed three previous times in Pomona, all at the Glass House: with the Stripes in 2002 and 2005 and with another band, Dead Weather, in 2009. He made joking references to past appearances at one point. His fabulist spiel went something like this (I pulled out a piece of paper and pen about halfway through):

“In 1993 my band the Rabble Rousers played the Glass House. In 1995 I played the Glass House with my new band Jerry’s Kids. In 2001 I played the bar next to the Glass House with my band Deeper Purple. In 2003 we played Pomona again. But it was Pomona, Montana. It was a scheduling mishap. A promoter booked us on a tour from San Diego to Montana. We had 10 hours between gigs.”

Ha ha! What a kidder.

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Remembering Casey Kasem

I spent the late 1970s and early 1980s listening fervently to “America’s Top 40,” the syndicated weekly show hosted by the smooth-voiced Casey Kasem, who died Sunday at 82. And I spent the early to mid 1970s watching various Saturday morning cartoons that used Kasem’s voice talents. His characterization of lovable hippie Shaggy on “Scooby Doo” was classic, but there were others.

From the top 40 show, “a long-distance dedication,” “and now, back to the countdown” and “keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars” were staples, delivered in Kasem’s warm, earnest cadence. Here’s an appreciation from NPR.

Did you listen, and if so, what do you recall?

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Berlin at Rhino Records!

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Berlin performed a six-song set Saturday at Claremont’s Rhino Records, a thrill for some 100 people who packed into the LP aisles to hear the band play on the small stage. They heard the band’s ’80s songs “Masquerade,” “Metro” and “Sex (I’m a …),” the new tracks “Mom” and “Animal,” and the obligatory “Take My Breath Away.”

(Here’s a short Daily Bulletin story with a couple of nice photos by James Carbone, who was standing just behind me.)

“Can I tell you how great it is to be in a record store?” singer Terri Nunn said at one point. Her parents owned a small record shop in Reseda in the early 1970s “until Tower and Wherehouse killed us off.” She added: “It was such a hub of community and neighbors and fellow music lovers.”

Nunn is a passionate performer, as people who’ve seen the band at the L.A. County Fair and other venues can attest, and that even translates to an intimate free show at a record store. She moved sinuously, and after “Mom,” a touching song about her mother, Nunn actually cried. It was a sweet moment. A fan handed her a tissue. Then she went directly into “Animal,” whose first line is “Looking up my little dress…”

For the finale, Nunn left the stage and waded into the aisle, where we parted like the Red Sea as she sang with her handheld microphone. One of those moments you won’t forget. (I do wonder what Nunn thinks of gazing at people aiming a phone at her rather than actually looking at her. I’m guilty too, but then, I’m a journalist.)

Afterward, she and the band lined up at the counter to sign people’s CDs, mostly the new one. I introduced myself as the fellow who interviewed her by phone the previous week for a column, and while I’m not sure she remembered, they probably all blend together at some point. It was cool to meet her, and she posed for photos with everyone, including me.

Here are two one-minute videos I shot: “Metro” and “Take My Breath Away.”

Photo below by Catherine Caporale and at bottom by Allison Evans.

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Column: Berlin’s Terri Nunn finds there’s life after the ’80s

Wednesday’s column is a rarity for me: a celebrity interview. I chatted by phone with Terri Nunn, frontwoman of the band Berlin, with some trepidation. Would this work as a column, or would it end up being merely a promotional piece? (She’s performing and signing CDs Saturday in Claremont.) I think it works as a column — if not, it’s not Nunn’s fault, as she was engaging, relaxed and funny — but you can be the judge.

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Claudia Lennear and ’20 Feet From Stardom’

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From left, Julia, Oren and Maxine Waters and Claudia Lennear.

Tuesday night there was a free screening at Pomona College of the documentary “20 Feet From Stardom” that was attended by four of the featured performers from the movie: Claudia Lennear of Pomona and Julia, Maxine and Oren Waters.

Lennear, who was spotlighted in my column in March, sang background vocals on Ike and Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” and Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With,” among many others, while the Waters clan sang on the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” Donna Summers’ “Bad Girls,” Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” the theme song for TV’s “Growing Pains” and the Disney movie “The Lion King.”

The room was packed for the movie and the Q&A afterward. The first guy’s question went something like this: “With the news this week about Donald Sterling” — and suddenly the four singers, all African-American, sat up straight, and the rest of us tensed for what promised to be a series of provocative, of-the-moment answers — “what are your thoughts about Phil Spector?”

Uh, what? The questions didn’t improve, with one man asking which song of theirs they would send into space “on a spaceship” for aliens, another asking which single performer from their past they would have worked with if they could only have worked with one. Another directed a rambling statement/question at their accompanist, guitarist Caleb Quaye, who wasn’t in the movie.

(Making things worse, Quaye talked at great length, as if he were 19 feet from stardom. You’ll be pleased to learn that he was saved in 1982 and that he hopes Elton John one day will be too.)

Thankfully no one asked what they’d bring to a desert island, which historical figure they’d want to eat dinner with or what type of tree they’d choose to be. One final question was taken, and answered at length, and then we were told, “just one or two more,” to teeth-gnashing and eye-rolls from people near me (and also from me). Well, the event was free, so no use demanding your money back.

At the end, we got two live performances: the Waters family singing Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes’ “Up Where We Belong,” with Lennear’s aid, and then Lennear singing the Beatles’ “Blackbird,” with the Waters’ backing and Quaye providing subtle accompaniment on both. Very nice. Here’s a 45-second video clip of Lennear’s song. You won’t see much — I was in the back row, 50 feet from stardom — but the sound is fine.

Now if you haven’t watched the documentary, go and do so.

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Column: Record Store Day is music to fans’ ears

Saturday is Record Store Day, with local shops offering special releases (most of them on vinyl), giveaways and a festive atmosphere. Friday’s column has more details as well as relevant links to the RSD website and release list. I also plug my Hitchcock series at Ontario’s library and present a few nuggets from Monday’s Upland council meeting that I cut from Wednesday’s column.

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