Song In My Head #94: “Bums On The Radio” by Feufollet

A few Fridays ago, I was listening to KZSC Santa Cruz’s Lagniappe show. I was startled to hear this perfect blast of Rezillos-esque pop nestled in between the zydeco tracks. As host Antoine graciously explained to the listeners, this wasn’t such an incongruous thing. While Feufollet can sling traditional tunes with the best of ’em, the Southwest Louisiana band loves to blend multiple genres. (Take their eye-opening cover of Brian Eno’s “Baby’s On Fire,” which Antoine played shortly thereafter.) As it happens, “Bums On The Radio” was originally by fellow Louisiana indie act Brass Bed, and the Feufollet version was taken from a Park The Van split single where the bands cover each other’s songs. DJ Antoine bashfully confessed that he plays something from this EP nearly every week. It’s easy to see why:

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RSD 2018: Cured at last…or am I?

My morning was occupied by Santa Cruz’s March For Science (yes, one week after everyone else’s took place, don’t ask me why) and lunch, respectively.  So, I didn’t arrive at this year’s Record Store Day festivities until noon. I expected to beat the morning rush, but I was #135 in line…while #88 was being served. After flipping through a few racks, I thought about leaving for a while. As if Streetlight Records could read my mind (recalling the Teenage Fanclub incident of RSD 2016), the store blared Rockin’ Horse’s “Biggest Gossip In Town,” the first in a lengthy string of personally beloved power-pop songs. (Why yes, I was the one singing along like a dork in the middle of the store.) I virtually doff my cap to the fellow spinning records at Streetlight this afternoon. I know you longtime followers of my annual Record Store Day saga are in suspense: did I finally have sales resistance for once?

Unlike previous years, I had no Holy Grail RSD release in mind this time. Most usual auto-buys (Redd Kross, Chris Bell) were re-releases of things I already have. I confess to feeling rather cheapskaty and more risk-averse this year, since I’d spent my Streetlight store credit slips on the (completely necessary and worthwhile) new Sloan album two weeks ago. The shelves were rather picked over, too. Nevertheless, I hesitated mightily over the Nazz’s Fungo Bat Acetates double-album set. I turned the record over in my hands a few times, reminded myself of an expensive week ahead, and put it back, feeling pretty self-satisfied.

A couple of hours later, I sit writing this in the Santa Cruz Public Library. Todd Rundgren and company still call to me. I have the sinking feeling that, before the day is out, I will be standing in line again, hoping to claim Fungo Bat Acetates as my own.

I’ll keep you posted…

Erik’s DeliCafe and Dick Peixoto stories in Spring 2018 SANTA CRUZ STYLE

I would never compile a “Most Entertaining Interview Subjects” list, but if I did, I suspect that Erik Johnson would land near the top of it. When I met the Erik’s DeliCafé founder, I expected a workmanlike story of how he established his wildly successful restaurant chain, which is celebrating its 45th year of business. While I did learn that, Johnson regaled me with offbeat insights into the restaurant industry, why Santa Cruz County is a perfect fit for him and his company, and hilarious tales behind the more memorable names for his sandwiches. (I was very sorry to have to keep a word count in mind.) You’ll find all that and more in “Four Decades on Rye,” found on page 46 of the Spring 2018 issue of Santa Cruz Style.

On page 54 of the same issue, you’ll meet Watsonville farmer Dick Peixoto, founder of Lakeside Organic Gardens, the largest family-owned organic grower-shipper in the U.S. He also co-owns Watsonville’s popular California Grill of the Pajaro Valley restaurant, where the “farm-to-table” concept is taken very literally. In the midst of such a grueling schedule, Peixoto has found the time and resources to become one of the county’s most generous philanthropists. In the “In His Fields Dreams Grow Among The Vegetables” feature, Peixoto explains his inspiration, while shedding light on some of his favorite beneficiaries. To find a free print copy in Santa Cruz County, or to read the issue online, visit http://www.santacruzstyle.net.

Song In My Head #93: “Psycho” (two ways!)

Hailing from the great city of Tacoma, Washington (shout-out to my buddy Jeanette!), the Sonics are entering their 55th consecutive year of garage-rock greatness, touring as we speak. I originally learned about the Sonics through the Here Ain’t The Sonics!!! tribute, co-released by Estrus and Popllama Records in 1993. So, my introduction to “Psycho” was the Screaming Trees cover version. A good cover is never identical, and the Trees’ version is different enough that I was actually startled by the original when I heard it. I really can’t decide which I like better. The Sonics’ relentless groove would make James Brown proud, but what ’90s gal could resist that grinding guitar riff and the careworn-yet-dulcet tones of Mark Lanegan? (Not I, boys and girls!)

In Praise of Jonathan Cheechoo

I’m generally a patient person, slow to rile and evenhanded in my opinions. (Stop snickering, Mom.) Nevertheless, a few topics always set me off. I was infuriated that, following Beastie Boy Adam “MCA” Yauch’s death in 2012, not a single evening news program mentioned his musical innovation or humanitarian efforts, but EVERY STINKING ONE showed a clip of him spitting beer in the “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” video from 1986. (I cheered myself up by imagining MCA’s friend the Dalai Lama setting them straight.) What else will get an earful from me? Sports articles calling Jonathan Cheechoo’s 56-goal 2005-06 season a strange, wonderful blip on a supposedly lackluster NHL career.

Nearly nine years after Cheechoo’s final game with the San Jose Sharks, he remains one of the team’s top ten scorers, top five in power-play goals and game-winning goals. His record-setting nine hat tricks for the Sharks (five in one season) remain an unassailable fact:

People conveniently forget the shudder-inducing injuries that cut his NHL days short. He suffered a brutal knee-to-knee hit in Game One of the 2007 playoff series against the Nashville Predators. Cheechoo was still the leading goal scorer for the Sharks that year, one season after winning the Rocket Richard trophy as the league’s leading scorer. There was also the double sports hernia so grisly that Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson expressed amazement that Cheechoo could walk, let alone play hockey. But play hockey he did. His post-Sharks career included a trade to the Ottawa Senators, stints with four AHL teams, and four years overseas in the KHL.

Yesterday, Jonathan Cheechoo announced his retirement from hockey after sixteen seasons. Today one article (not linking to it, sorry) opined that he’s likely to become a footnote in NHL lore. Let me see. Cheechoo is a former NHL All-Star, and a legendary figure in Sharks franchise history. The second Indigenous player to win the Richard, he remains strongly involved with the Little Native Hockey Tournament, and is considered a role model for youth players to this day. Hailing from tiny, remote Moose Factory, Ontario, he fulfilled his dream while strengthening ties to his community. Joe Thornton still proclaims Cheechoo the best hockey player with whom he’s played.

Don’t know about you, but that all sounds pretty significant to me. Congratulations, Cheech!

After twenty years…

First off, a gold medal game between two elite, evenly matched teams should not be decided by a shootout. Shootouts don’t reflect most on-ice play, and depend on too many variables. So, they aren’t a true display of a squad’s skill. (The Stanley Cup playoffs use multiple sudden death rounds, which, while exhausting for athletes and viewers alike, would be fairer.)

That said, this one was pretty mesmerizing.

I doff my cap to silver medal-winning Team Canada, the measuring stick
against which all hockey teams are judged. Your play throughout the whole
tournament was amazing, and this game was no exception.

Congratulations, Team USA. At a time when no one’s felt like cheering, your camaraderie makes the gold medal all the more deserved and inspiring. I’m pretty sure a lot of little girls want to be Maddie Rooney and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson when they grow up. (Hey, I do, too.)

Song In My Head #92: “A F—ton of Cats” featuring Rachel Bloom

Since I’m a big fan of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend star Rachel Bloom (her San Francisco Sketchfest show was downright epic!) and show composer/Fountains of Wayne tunesmith Adam Schlesinger, it was guaranteed that a number from the series would appear here one day. A big part of me is shocked that it turned out to be this one. I’ve always had a tortured relationship with Muppet homage puppets, and worldly-wise puppet characters in general. I still haven’t seen Avenue Q, for example, even though my Stanford classmate Jordan Gelber starred in the original Broadway cast. (One of my favorite college memories involves an improv class where the suggestion was “A Yellow Christmas.” I narrated the story involving newts yearning to experience Christmas on the sand dunes, while Gelber ended up playing Santa Claus. That’s another post altogether.) Then there was the time my friend Jeanette visited from Chicago, and we were staying in San Francisco. For several nights, we debated going to a Puppet Up! performance, finally admitting to each other that we didn’t think we could handle watching dirty Muppets on stage. (Near-tearful hugs followed.) That said, the cat chorus (charmingly voiced by Schlesinger, Steven Gold, and Nina Zeitlin) adds the perfect touch to the incredibly catchy song, and James Hayes’ cat puppets are downright irresistible. (After all, there are no iconic cats in the Muppet canon, unless someone out there can correct me. I only remember short-lived Sesame Street characters Chip and Dip, who weren’t too cute and didn’t have speaking roles.) Note the authentic Muppet headbanging the cats do (side-to-side, not back and forth as in heavy metal), and the visible arm rods! (While puppetry has obviously become more technologically advanced, I really miss the old-school ways. I remember bellowing “The world has gone to hell in a handbasket!” the first time I saw CGI Twiddlebugs.)

As for spelling out the title with dashes, what can I say? I always choose the unexpurgated version of any song, but I’m still lame enough to worry that my grade-school nuns will stumble onto my blog one day. I’m just a bundle of contradictions!