Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em, Roll 'Em- Battle Royale Erupts at the Brookdale

report filed 10/1/99 - After spending a couple of relaxing days in Ocean Beach, still buzzing from the good vibes at the Autumn Equinox festival, the perpetually moving monkey barrel rolled into Santa Cruz for a Wednesday night show at the Brookdale Lodge.

We left OB around 9:30 or so in the morning and navigated our way north for the eight hour plus drive into northern California. Got to the Brookdale in the late afternoon and went through the usual motions - load in the gear- find the rooms - load in the bags - clean up - eat - snooze - wake up for the show.

The Big Wu, a very popular HGMN band from the Minneapolis area was also on the bill. My after dinner snooze got the best of me though and unfortunately I missed their set, but heard reports that it was a winner.

As I wandered around the Brookdale during the stage changeover, I picked up on an edgy tension in the room. Reliable sources (whom I am not at liberty to disclose) informed me that there was bad blood between the people at the venue and the show's promoters. With that information properly filed, I made my way toward the bar for a liquid refreshment as WMO started playing.

Looking out the window I noticed a crowd clustered in front of the Brookdale's main entry. That's when things went totally Jerry Springer. Actually, by the time I got to the window the cops had already come and gone. Little did I know that they'd be back in less than five minutes.

As I'm ordering my Sam Adam's Boston Ale, I noticed through the window that several people outside were yelling at each other. A few were squared off, deeply engrossed in highly sensitive nose-to-nose-and-chest-to-chest negotiations. Maybe two or three clusters of potential battlers getting in each other's face.. and then it happened.

"You spit on her," someone said. That's when the fists started flying. Didn't look like any real solid shots were landed and the bedlam only lasted a couple of minutes, but for a few moments the action outside the Brookdale was total WWF material. Unfortunately, violence is powerfully compelling entertainment and during the ruckus there were more folks outside than inside. Too bad, because while the punches were being thrown outside, the monkey had 'em swingin from the rafters inside. By the time the the arrests had been made the show was over. Although the band played well, it was a relatively short gig with a very odd vibe.

In the morning we ate in the nice little cafe at the lodge and then made our way to Arcata. During the drive I noticed that the zoom lens on my trusty Minolta 1500-d'image digital camera wasn't working properly. Up to this point the camera had been operating flawlessly. When we got to Arcata I searched for a camera store that could fix the lens, but didn't find one. Knowing that we'd be in San Francisco the following day, I gave up the hunt and figured I'd make some progress with the lens on Saturday.

Arcata is a very cool town in northern California's Humboldt County. Really neat grassy town square and lots of kind folks. The Arcata show was at the Cafe Tomo, a restaurant/bar fronting the town square that morphs into the local hot spot when the sun goes down. After hanging out at the hotel for a while I got to the club a little early to check out the opening band, a jazz fusion outfit called 'Spank.'

As soon as I stepped in the door I knew it was going to be a good night for WMO. Not only were there plenty of people in the bar, the dance floor was going wild to Spank's very mediocre jams. Don't get me wrong - they've got a pretty good -sound-, it's just that their music left me cold... very boring, one dimensional grooves with little or no melody. 'Junk funk' - 'Modal myopia,' call it what you will, the Spanksters just didn't do much for me.

As I suspected, the Arcata faithful exploded with the first note of WMO's opening tune. After the weirdness of the night before and the short sets that predominated the East coast tour, the monkey was ready to rip through one of their patented, marathon sets. Big time dance scene all night long... yeah baby, the Arcata show was a classic!

In the morning we stopped at the Redwood National Park for a very aesthetically pleasing round of frisbee golf in the woods and a friendly game of touch football in a large grassy meadow. After working up a sweat and enjoying the north country's natural splendor, we fired up the convoy for the drive to San Francisco.

My hopes to cure the zoom lens blues were dashed by traffic. We got to the 'Last Days Saloon' around 7pm and barely had enough time to get to the motel, clean up, and get back to the club. From this point out, all the shots would have to be with the camera's -wide angle- lens. A challenge, but alot better than nothing.

As was the case last time WMO played in San Fran, Dave Ellis sat in. Even more special, Dave's sister Zoee and -her- band opened the show. Great stuff! Serious family style funk with a whole-lotta-soul.

Of course, the monkey was jazzed to be playing with Ellis. It showed! Everyone in the band was blazing and the bar was totally jammed... a very high density, high intensity night. Not only was the music great, the highlight for me was hanging out with my sister Wendella and her friend Lucy. Always a joy to swing through the city by the bay and spend a little quality time with the wonderful mid-sib of my nuclear unit!

Morning came early. We split the motel a little after 8am to drive a little less than an hour to Stafford Lake in Novato for the High Sierra Music Festival. The reason we got there so early was that Big Board Bob was supposed to record the entire day, but as it turned out, that didn't happen. No matter, it was a wonderful day under the sun in a beautiful park area next to the lake.

In keeping with the theme of 'paying dues' at the festivals, WMO was relegated to the festival's 'Showcase stage.' Although the monkey should have been on the main stage, the band was fortunate in getting an excellent time slot from 5 pm to 6:30 PM, with the added bonus of no main stage competition for the first hour. Turned out fantastic! Although it got way cold after sunset, it was still plenty warm during WMO's set. For the 2nd gig in a row, Dave Ellis sat in. Not only was the music top notch, the enthusiastic gyrations of the crowd was a buzz puffer that amplified the energy loop between band and dancers to the lofty heights of groovus maximus gigantus.... Yowza!

Before WMO took the stage, I thoroughly enjoyed my first opportunity to entrain wavelengths with the legendary upstate New York beat generator known as 'Donna the Buffalo.' For years, I'd heard about the Buffalo's zydeco/cajun flavored spirituality and I wasn't disappointed... totally got off on 'em. Hoy hoy the buffalo!

Finally caught the Big Wu, who also played on the festival's Showcase stage. Same with Foxtrot Zulu and Calobo, a couple of other HGMN bands that also put on great shows. All in all, it was a really fun homegrown afternoon with some of the best up and coming bands currently on the scene.












report filed Wednesday 10/6/99 1:45 PM
- I'm back in Vegas. Briefly. Right now my little corner of the universe is a whirlwind. As I sit and try to post this journal entry, the U-haul is parked in the driveway, loaded with all the crap I just can't seem to do without, ready to make the four and half hour trek to OB. Looks like I'm going to set up the -Anytime/Anywhere- studios there for a little while... more on that later.

I've got less than an hour to make this post happen. So here we go with a quick recap of the last leg of this northern Cal tour - After the High Sierra fest on Saturday we drove to Mammoth Lakes for a show there, which also happens to be Scotty Manicotti's hometown. We stopped along the way to soak in nature's grandeur and enjoy the free time created by a relatively short drive time between towns.

The Mammoth Lakes show was epic. Kicking off the night with 'Chicken,' Scotty Manicotti took his customary position onstage and dazzled the crowd with his neck clucking, wing flapping and chest strutting barnyard maneuvers...

After showing the ladies what he could do -on- the dance floor, Manicotti was the most popular guy in the bar, inundated with ladies interested in his moves and attracted to his good time energy...

Putting the -star- in this all-star night was another close friend of the band, 'Docs', who had traveled north from San Diego for the last few dates of this tour. It's not fair to call Docs a rapper. He's a lot more than that. The guy is a spoken word artist. I've seen him perform with the monkey three times and each time he took the vibe to a delightfully different place- thoughtful, provocative, and very creative, catching Docs with the monkey is always an -experience-!

Ok - that's it for now. Time to get rolling... more later.