THIS JOURNAL DOCUMENTS MY INTAKE OF ONE BOOK, ZINE, CD OR DVD A DAY. RATINGS ARE: ***** = Godhead, **** = Great, *** = Good, ** = Fair, * = Why Bother?

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

David Cawley, Film Auteur

Cinemagic #10 (Summer 1977). Cover painting by Larry Schlecter of mad scientist John Cosentino and his creation "The Zagatile"

Long before he was a rock star living off the royalties of bands like Blue Car, Order Now, The Nu-Beats, The Lumpies, The Bedbugs, Berserk and Garage Sale (only later working in an insurance office out of sheer boredom with all his free time), David Cawley was a film auteur.

Like his doppelganger Jerry Lewis, David Cawley was a film auteur

This was in the late 1970s, back when David was still in high school. Working with his friends and neighbors under the studio aegis of "D.C. Films" (for David Cawley, get it?) in Lutherville, Maryland - the "Hollywood (L)East" of the Mid-Atlantic - he specialized in making 8mm stop-motion movies with his fellow sci-fi and giant monster fans John Runyeon and Andy Dolan. He was even celebrated in the "Press Notices" pages of Cinemagic, local filmmaker-publisher Don Dohler's "fantastic filmmaking" fanzine, which debuted in the winter of 1972.

Following is Dave's film Snipers (a co-creation with Andy Dolan, credited here with the effeminate variant spelling of his first name, "Andie") getting mentioned in Cinemagic issue #10 (Summer 1977). Thankfully, jodyanimator has scanned the entire issue, cover-to-cover, from the original; you can read it here. (The cover is by local artist and musician Larry Schlecter who, this being Smalltimore, is the partner of my wife's friend and former Crabtree & Evelyn co-worker, Lucie Poirier!)
D.C. FILMS of Lutherville, Maryland has completed its first film, SNIPERS, which deals with the conflicts of a futuristic society. Special effects include stop-motion and miniature explosions. Zoa Barnes stars in the 8mm production, which was conceived by Andie Dolan and David Cawley.

The star of Snipers was Zoa Barnes, who is the sister of the film's co-creator, Andy Dolan. She later abandoned acting to pursue a  career in law. Dolan himself went on to international acclaim as the sleeve designer of punk-pop band Berserk's "Giant Robots" single and album.

David and Andy also planned to make a sci-fi epic featuring Star Trek action figures. "Me and Andy were going to make a barroom brawl movie with Kirk and the Gorn action figures but creative differences tore it apart," Dave recalled. "A world weeps at the loss." Indeed, if not for that perhaps Dolan would have become the first-billing D in D.C. Films (the C was for reserved Cawley - get it?).

Kirk and Gorn: The Barroom Brawl that never was!

Perry Hall native Dohler, who passed away in 2006, was known for making low-budget science-fiction and horror films (as chronicled in MICA graduate John Paul Kinhart's 2007 documentary film Blood, Boobs & Beast, which in turn was inspired by Michael Yockel's 2003 City Paper cover feature "Fast, Cheap & Out of This World"), as well as his work in underground comics and independent publishing.

Don Dohler left no bones unturned in his work

Michael Yockel's Don Dohler feature story (City Paper, April 23, 2003)

According to his Wikipedia entry, Dohler was inspired by his 1960s underground "comix" friends to publish a magazine that would feature illustrated step-by-step articles for amateur special effects filmmakers, as well as features by industry professionals. Cinemagic went on for 11 issues before being picked up by Starlog magazine in 1979. It served as the inspiration for a number of young filmmakers who later achieved Hollywood fame, including J.J. Adams, Tom Sullivan, Ernie Farino, Michael Trcic and Al Magliochetti. In fact, J.J. Abrams, who paid homage to his amateur filmmaking days in his own Super 8 (2011), got his first screen credit for scoring the music and sound effects in Dohler's Nightbeast (1982). Talking to the Washington Post's Jen Chaney in 2011, Abrams recalled "...it was such a crazy thrill to be asked to be involved in one of his movies...He was sort of the horror version of John Waters. He made these crazy movies that were made with incredible passion and love of genre. Relatively speaking, you know, shoestring budgets - they couldn't really compare to the production values or casts of mainstream films. But there was a real charm to them. They were kind of like adult versions of the movies that we made when we were kids."

Cinemagic: "This is your magazine"
Or as Cinemagic pitched it: "If you are a young filmmaker with a special interest in science fiction, special effects and the limitless magic of the cinema...this is your magazine."

Don Dohler recording sound in the field

Talking with David recently, he reminisced about Cinemagic magazine and his days in the director's chair, when he dreamed of being the Ishiro Honda of Lutherville. (Like his idol Honda - the filmmaking father of Godzilla - both directors started off with aspirations of being successful artists.) Or the Don Dohler of greater Baltimore County. And he shared the same enthusiasm J. J. Abrams felt at making a movie and getting a shout-out from a fellow film fanatic.

It was always so exciting - the thought of a sci fi movie made in Perry Hall!  I loved that magazine- just looking at pictures from amateur movies and not even seeing them!   Back then it wasn’t easy to see stuff like that except at conventions.  There was a weird guy named Blade Galentine who made these amazing stop motion movies with monsters- like LEGEND OF TERRORDON.  It was so cool- it must have taken him forever to make that movie- it was LONG!!!!!!!!!

I remember John Runyeon was going to make a 2 headed serpent animation model… he made the armature, covered it with wax…. And GAVE UP.

But other collaborations with John Runyeon were more successful. The dynamic duo went on to make the films Lost Island, The Mad Doctor Death, Dr. Death Conquers the World and their lone foray into martial arts, the kung-fooey Man of the Tiger. (Curiously, all are currently unlisted on the Internet Movie Database.)

Clearly, these amateur films were a labor of love, and not all were up to the task. But teen prodigy filmmaker David Cawley went on make stop-motion Godzilla movies during his time as a art student at renowned Baltimore County art school Towson University (whose famous alumni from David's era include Stuart Stein, Kenny Vieth, Jenny McBrian, et al). There he met his fellow art major girlfriend Linda, and instantly his film crew was doubled.
I had a crew of 2 (me and Linda) and after a few days… it was just me!  Too boring for most folks.  But I premiered my Godzilla movie at my parents house!  Had a bunch of people over!  With door prizes!   The invitations were really cool- had a great drawing of Godzilla by Linda.

D.C. Films crew (Andy Dolan, David Cawley, John Runyeon and Jeff Carlson) hobnobbing at the 2017 Cannes Film  Festival

Dave Cawley and set designer Marie Castaway prepare to shoot a scene from the unreleased D.C. Films epic "The Marriage of Ultraman and Barbie."

The solo Cawley's stop-motion fantasy filmography included the unheralded gems War of the Wizards and Battle for the Planet Mondor. Of those cinematic battles, David recalled with a tang of regret, "No Golden Globes were won."

Last year, as if by cosmic fate, lifelong bachelor David Cawley got married to Gina Holten and their wedding photographer was a talented picture-snapper named Greg Dohler. When David found out that Greg was related to Don Dohler, he was elated - and he and Gina were even more elated after seeing the completed wedding photos. "His pictures were GREAT!" Dave enthused. Like father, like son: the Dohlers obviously know their way around a camera.

So there you have it, Cawley Completists! Like Joe Besser, David Cawley was Not Just  a Stooge - nay, he was more than a mere musician, and much more than a just a pal with a paintbrush & palette. He was also an auteur in the director's chair, creating signature miniature masterpieces of stop-motion mimicry. And, like his peer John Waters, another Legendary Luminary Lensman of Lutherville! And that (as the young mini-movie mogul of metropolitan Baltimore would say), is a wrap!

Related Links:
Cinemagic Magazine - Back from the past
Cinemagic Magazine on Internet Archive (archive.org)
Cinemagic #10 (Summer 1977) (jodyanimator)

Monday, January 22, 2018

"Jesus' Son": Stories by Denis Johnson

I just finished reading Denis Johnson's loosely-connective short story collection JESUS' SON. At first, I didn't get it. Like SEINFELD, they appeared to be stories about nothing. But then I heard the words, felt the sentences, and saw the images evoked around the fuzzy edges of that nothing, and it reminded me of prose poetry in the vein of Baudelaire's PARIS SPLEEN or Arthur Rimbaud's A SEASON IN HELL, with bottom-feeder characters straight out of James M. Cain or Jim Thompson. Taking its title from Lou Reed's "Heroin," JESUS' SON chronicles the one-day-at-a-time travails of society's losers - druggies, cons, cripples, the indigent, the elderly, the infirm, the mentally ill (my peeps, in a sense) - as they struggle to find meaning and cling to the hope that somewhere "there might be a place for people like us." Some of Johnson's sentences really stick..

Describing a nursing home woman: "Her feet pointed left, her head looked to the right, and her arms twisted around her like ribbons around a Maypole"...

Observing a tired belly dancer: "She seemed to be thinking about something far away, waiting patiently for somebody to destroy her."

Skies are "as blue and brainless as the love of God" or "a bruised red shot with black, almost exactly the colors of a tattoo" or filled with "Midwestern clouds like great grey brains."

Of a wife who shot at him and missed: "It wasn't my life she was after. It was more. She wanted to eat my heart and be lost in the desert with what she'd done, she wanted to fall to her knees and give birth from it, she wanted to hurt me as only a child can be hurt by its mother."

Or, an existential moment following a fatal car wreck: "I looked down into the great pity of a person's life on this earth. I don't mean that we all end up dead, that's not the great pity. I mean he couldn't tell me what he was dreaming, and I couldn't tell him what was real."

I disagree. Denis Johnson's luminous prose tells us what he's dreaming while telling readers what's truly real - the hopes and desires and the faults and failures that we all share, regardless of our station in life. It's too bad he's no longer with us, having passed away from liver cancer on May 24, 2017. Random House published a posthumous short story collection, The Largesse of the Sea, in January 2018. I look forward to reading it!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Monuments/Judie's Fixation return from the '80s @ Raven Inn

The Monuments/Judie's Fixation/Fuzz Unlimited
Saturday, January 20, 2018
Raven Inn, 8636 Loch Raven Blvd

Fans of these legendary bands called the 1980s (first tried to text but no answer) and demanded The Monuments and Judies back, and were rewarded with a delightful playlist of classic Rock, R&B & Motown covers. (We didn't stay for Fuzz Unlimited - all apologies! - as I had to work the next day.) 'Twas a fun, fun, fun night! And great to see old friends who lost their Marbles at the Congress Hotel - Katatonix Adolf Kowalski Charles Gatewood and Ed Linton, the Rockin' Robins Robin Linton and Robyn Webb, Coffin Cutie Mike HearseRon DeNunzioCraig Stinchcomb, Gayle & Michael Maxwell, Marty & Leslie Fuquinay MillerPatti Codd (whose Biscoff cookie white fudge platter was the hit of the bar food on offer!), Keith WorzJenny BeetzScott Pendleton, Darla "Jean" GermanSandels Hogg Morrow and ace photographer Jim Moon (who has taken more great pics of the Monuments than anybody!) - turn out to support Lumpy & Cindy Borchardt and Co.! 

First up...the monumental return of The Monuments at the Raven Inn!

The Monuments got things rockin' right away

Cindy Borchardt and Lumpy

Monuments guitarist Russell Stone

I never knew any musicians in The Monuments other than Cindy and Lumpy. For the record, the rest of tonight's band was comprised of drummer Greg Phillips, lead guitarist Russell Stone and erstwhile Judie's Fixation bassist Jay Turner.

And, yes, that was "Lumpy," (aka "Brian Jones," aka William Sutherland), playing the beautiful ax he made while working at Paul Reed Smith, with exquisite paint job courtesy of Betsy Green! 

Lumpy rocks his custom-made Paul Reed Smith guitar

The Monuments always played - and will continue to play - classic '60s and '70s rock, garage and R&B gems because the tunes they fine-tune are, well, timeless classics! (That's why they call it classic rock, folks!) Below is a typical setlist...

...I can't recall every song they played this night, but the Supremes and Stones and Rufus Thomas were definitely there in the mix, as well as "Rockin' Robin" ("Thankfully not dedicated to me," said Robin Linton, who as a Robin has heard a lifetime of references to the 1958 Bobby Day hit) and a highlight was the smokin' twin-guitar jam-out between Russell and Lumpy on the Stones' "Rocks Off."

The Monuments' set closer was "Stop in the Name of Love," to which I would reply: "In the name of your fans' love, don't stop, Monuments!"

Next up...the decidedly fixated return of Judie's Fixation (or FUXation, as Amy Warner says) at Raven Inn! The last Judie's reunion I can remember was in 1983 at the Marble Bar (as shown on the flyer below), following their first reign from 1978-1980.

Judie's Fixation Marble Bar reunion, 1983

The boys were back in town - William SutherlandCraig Stinchcomb (aka "Dick Goesinya" and "Jacques Strap") and Henry Cross - and while frontman Vaughn Keith (R.I.P.)'s shoes are a big void to fill, I think it's fitting that effervescently cool Cindy Borchardt, pulling double-duty after opening with The Monuments, filled them on the 1st anniversary of The Women's March (how's that for timing?).

Girl Power: Cindy Borchardt fronts Judie's Fixation

Drummer Craig Stinchcomb absorbs the glow of "Kryptonite" (photo by Patti Codd)

Cindy would like to get together in "Severe Weather"

Oh, Henry! The return of Judies bassist Henry Cross!

"Long Tall Sally met J-Judy in the alley..."

There were a number of different Judies members over the years - besides the dearly missed, charismatic frontman Vaughn Keith (aka “Ben Wah”), their ranks included original guitarist Bill Smith ("Bill Bored," who was replaced by original bassist Lumpy), bassists Wayne Murphy (G.C. Murphy) and Jay Turner, and lead guitarist Tim Campbell (aka "Fido Fetch" and "Phideaux Phelch," and also an ertswhile Monuments guitarist) - but tonight's lineup (sans Vaughn Keith, obviously) was the one I remembered best.

It was a great set, visually highlighted by fanboy Keith Worz's inimitable dancing prowess (earning him a "Martyr Me" dedication!)...

Keith Worz, sweatin' to the oldies!

Seeing Keith pump his fist in the air and implore the band on reminded me of his passion for the punk bands of the Marble Age. And, of course, the unique dancing style. I remembered a 1980 Katatonix gig in Annapolis where his frenetic pogo dancing so impressed a local music critic that he got singled out in a newspaper review for resembling "a New Wave Jerry Lewis, the clumsy Jerry Lewis character who was always falling over something in the movies. He danced in jerky movements, as if he was plugged into a Mix Master going full bore." (Keith's shout-out in the July 24, 1980 Arundel Living Sun is shown below.) 

Keith Worz's dancing was highlighted in an early Katatonix music review

Musically, the set was highlighted by such standards as "Severe Weather" (dedicated to Rockin' Robin Linton, a former Marble Bar bartender)...

..."Chinga," "Martyr Me," "Kryptonite" and signature crowd singalong "Judy in the Alley"...

Three of the nine songs in their set were covers - "Mr. Cool" (by the post-New York Doll, pre-W.A.S.P. Arthur Kane and his Killer Kane Band), Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction" (never more relevant than today with Trump and Kim Jung Un talking smack over who has the biggest nukes button!), and Bobby Fuller's "I Fought the Law" - which is probably to be expected when you reform and start playing again after more than 35 years apart.

I only wish they had dusted off their cover of Arthur Conley "Sweet Soul Music," wherein Vaughan changed the lyrics to name-check other Marble Bar punk bands of the time: “Do you like good music? (Yeah Yeah)/Like Da Moronics? (Yeah Yeah)/And Thee Katatonix? (Yeah Yeah).” But then, perhaps that was too moribund a reminder that those bands too had disappeared over the years.

Regardless, tonight's performance brought back fond memories of glory days at the glory hole we called The Marble Bar, where the Judies ruled the roost and everyone's marbles tended to get tossed!

After their set, Lumpy thanked everyone in the audience for showing up and sent a special shout-out to Adolf Kowalski (who did an admirable job holding up the bar next door all night), who is financing a long-awaited Judie's Fixation CD! To date, only "Martyr Me" has ever been released, and that only on the extremely rare (and vinyl-only) 1978 Limp Records compilation :30 Over DC - Here Comes the New Wave!. (Curiously enough, the same recording of "Martyr Me" also turns up on the CD-R compilation Hyped To Death #22: US and Canadian LP Punk, R-to-Z - begging the question, where exactly does J fall under R-through-Z in the alphabet? Whatever!) Other than that, there are only a smattering of live songs recorded on what drummer Craig Stinchcomb described as a "crappy cassette recorder and its equally crappy microphone" by their former manager Frank "Big C" Yates (who passed away on June 25, 2014); these raw recordings were later digitally salvaged by bassist Henry Cross and uploaded to Soundcloud. (See "The Judie's Fixation Tapes" at baltimoreorless.com for details.)

So the Judies will be martyred no more - they will have an official CD release sometime in the near future! On the Marble Bar Facebook group page, Adolf added, "Thee Katz [Katatonix] are CONSIDERING doing one last show before we all die...probably open at the Judies CD party...stay tuned."

The Boys Are Back in Town: Lumpy, Henry and Craig

In the meantime, Lumpy will continue to pluck his upright bass playing bluegrass-flavored classics from the Great American Folk Songbook with Darla Jean & The Somethin' or Others, while Craig Stinchcomb will hopefully still motor on with The Motor Morons (too bad we missed his Motor Moron bandmate, the irrepressibly perky "Blade," playing keyboards with Fuzz Unlimited tonight!)

Finally, below are snapshots of the Monuments and the Judies at their prime in the early '80s. 35 years later, time has still not dimmed the glory of their deeds!

Monuments circa 1983 (photo by Jim Moon)

Judie's Fixation circa 1983 (photo by Colin P. Varga)

Related Links:
The Judie's Fixation Tapes (Baltimore Or Less)
Tim Campbell's Judie's Fixation page (Richardtaylor.tv)
The Monuments (Facebook)
Judies Fixation Monuments Motor Morons (Facebook)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Story Ends: Tommy Keene, 59

Thomas Clay Keene (June 30, 1958-November 22, 2017)

Tommy Keene with yours truly

"Power-pop legend, acclaimed singer-songwriter, and venerated guitarist Tommy Keene has died. The 59 year-old Keene passed away unexpectedly, but peacefully, in his sleep at his Los Angeles area home Wednesday...Keene is survived by his longtime partner Michael Lundsgaard, his father Robert Keene, step-mother Dorothy Keene, brother Bobby Keene, nephews Hunter and Jason Keene, and his beloved dog, Coco." - tommykeene.com

The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down and It's All Happening Today: Twilight's In Town, Tomorrow's Gone Tonight and it's Time to Say Goodbye (The Long Goodbye) to Tommy Keene and all those memories Based On Happy Times and Highwire Days A Wish Ago that are now Places That Are Gone. The Story Ends, he's Away From It All - All Gone Away - and won't be Back Again. It's Back To Zero Now. I wish This Could Be Fiction but When the Truth Is Found that would only be Paper Words & Lies. Tommy, your sudden passing leaves me Weak and Watered Down - Down, Down, Down - Crashing the Ether in Disarray, Alone in These Modern Times at an Isolation Party where I'm Hanging on to Yesterday, Soul Searching while Waiting Without You in a stunned Silent Town. I Don't Feel Right At All but it's not the End of the World: Nothing Can Change You and the
Light of Love that was your music will make me Laugh in the Dark and Save This Harmony that was your voice, while I will cherish your words that were A Secret Life of Stories. You had a Good Thing Going and All Your Love Will Stay, Today and Tomorrow, because while Love Is a Dangerous ThingLove Is the Only Thing That Matters. But I will be a Long Time Missing and Getting Out From Under You. I Can't See You Anymore Before the Lights Go Down on the Landscape In the Late Bright. You Quit That Scene. Though you're Behind the Parade, we Begin Where We End, so you'll never be Out of My Mind. Don't Get Me Wrong - I know it's Gone To Midnight of The Final Hour and Time Will Take You Today (You Can't Wait For Time - there's no Compromise). I just hope you are Safe in the Light (perhaps the Northern Lights), up in the Technicolor Big Blue Sky.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Tom Warner's Journals, Part 1

I love journals and notebooks. With an ADD-addled mind like mine, I'm constantly jotting down thoughts, observations, quotes, lists and reminders that I promise myself I will update to the cerebellum later. Problem is, I have as many journals/notebooks as thoughts, online passwords and clutter. In other words, things get lost!

Today, I needed to write something down and I grabbed a notebook from a pile of them laying in the windowsill. It was from 2008. Here are some sundry selections from nine years ago that I found amusing.


"Everything one does in life, even love, occurs in an express train racing towards death. To smoke opium is to get out of the train while it is still moving." - Jean Cocteau ("Opium: The Diary of a Cure")

Quote from Henri-Georges Clouzot's Le Corbeau (aka The Raven, France, 1943). In the Mass scene, Dr. Germain asks the cuckolded psychiatrist Dr. Vorzet if he's religious: "Religious? No, just cautious. I like to take out insurance. It doesn't cost much."

Notes from the 2008 Maryland Film Festival, which I worked as a volunteer, videotaping director Q & A's with the audience:

  • Alex Gibney intro'ed his film Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson with a Thompson quote: "You bought the ticket, enjoy the ride!"
  • I sat next to the most annoying woman. Middle-aged. I noticed she wouldn't turn her cell phone off. Hid it under a shawl the first 15 minutes of movie. Then she systematically chewed her fingernails - all 10 of 'em! - throughout the movie! (Thank God it was only two hours, any more and she'd probably move on to her toenails!) Then she would transfer her remnants to her left hand and delicately rub the detritus off, like she was rubbing away the salt from pistachios or chips onto the floor near my camera bag. TOTALLY DISGUSTING, She saw me staring at her - I was hoping to shame her, but she was well beyond shame, and I had to cup my head with my right hand, like blinders, so I could escape from her wretched, and most unfortunate, presence in the last good seat in the house in the front row.
  • Q&A: A woman asked why Hunter S. Thompson always wore shorts. "Do you know why he always wore shorts?" Laughter. Long pause from Gibney, after repeating the question, then a simple reply: "No." The mystery continues.
  • Dumbest question of the night, as usual from Charles Theater fixture Charles Johnson: "Where did Dr. Thompson get his doctorate?" Gibney explained that Thompson bought his title from the Universal Life Church sometime in the '60s, adding that he himself has a "doctorate" from the Universal Life Church. As do I!
"Is there a Doctor in the house?"

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Music Coach

"The Music Show" with Andy "The Coach" Moloney, WKHS 90.5 FM
Saturdays 10 a.m.-Noon, Sundays 8 p.m.-Midnight

One of my favorite commutes is driving down to Dundalk with my wife Amy on Saturday mornings to have brunch with her parents. That's because Amy and I beat the Beltway Blues by listening to one of our favorite weekend radio programs, "The Music Show" on WKHS (90.5 FM), which is hosted by "The Coach," Andy Moloney, from 10 a.m. until Noon. (The Coach also hosts a "Music Show" on Sunday nights from 8 p.m. until Midnight. See full WKHS schedule here.)

WKHS broadcasts out of Kent County High School in Worton, Maryland, and on weekdays is staffed by the school's budding student DJs. But at night and on weekends, WKHS is staffed by local "community volunteers" like Andy Moloney, who at one time coached the school's basketball team; he may still be a coach at the school - there's hardly any information on the web about Moloney as either a coach or DJ - but he's definitely a jock at heart because he provides play-by-play of Kent County H.S. Trojans basketball games on WKHS with "Little C" Joey Cichoki and also reads sports scores as host of "The Scoreboard" on Saturday mornings from 9-10 a.m. (He even cancelled one Sunday night broadcast so he could concentrate on his Fantasy Football League draft!)

(When the students and community members aren't there - summers, weekends, late nights - WKHS simulcasts WXPN radio from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.)

As a broadcaster, The Coach is far from slick, but his taste is Eclectic Old School, with an emphasis on obscure '70s hard rock, Psychedelia in all shapes and forms, and unapologetic Prog (a four-letter word that dare not speak its name these days, unless "ironically"). Moloney reminds us that the 1970s ushered in the era of album-oriented FM radio, when "deep cuts"replaced the singles hit parade and "heavy rotation" playlists. Many bands during this era released a single record and disappeared without a trace, but Coach proves there's still a glut of undiscovered treasures to be unearthed on all those long-players. (As a child of the post-Beatles '70s, I had always ignored most of the music scene that existed before Punk and New Wave, erroneously believing it to be landfill fodder; now I'm retrospectively atoning for my audio ignorance.)

Sure, he loves classic mainstream hard rock like Bad Company, Mott the Hoople, Jimi Hendrix, Jethro Tull, Grand Funk Railroad and Loverboy ("Working for the Weekend" opened a recent show), but Amy and I discover bands and tunes here that we never hear anywhere else - songs that challenge my Shazam app's "name that tune" recall abilities. Bands with names like Aardvark (an organ-heavy UK Psych group featuring guitarist Paul Kossof and drummer Simon Kirke before they joined Free), Agnes StrangeBang, Black Sheep (featuring the pre-Foreigner Lou Gramm), Home, Omega (the Hungarian rockers whose '69 international hit "Gyongyhaju Iany" - roughly "Pearl-haired Girl" - was later cover by Scorpions and sampled by Kanye West), Pipe Dream, Ram Jam (see video below) and Pulsar - the latter an amazing French prog band whose Pink Floyd- and King Crimson-influenced 1975 debut Pollen album is well worth picking up. (How I wish WKHS posted its playlists - can't those students teach the volunteers some basic HTML?)

On a recent Saturday, for example, we heard such obscure groups as Dutch rockers Drama, Earth Quake, Elmer City Rambling Dogs, the Chico Magnetic Band (from France, like the Coneheads!) and - wait for it - Gong! Not Pierre Moerlin's Gong, but the original Teapot Pixie himself, Daevid Allen's Gong! Yes, the pioneering Anglo-Franco Psychedelic Hippie Space-Rock band formed by Daevid Allen (previously a founding member of UK prog-rockers Soft Machine) and his muse Gilli Smyth in 1968. (Allen died from cancer in 2015; Smyth followed, succumbing to pulmonary pneumonia, in August 2016.) The Coach - after reading all those mind-numbingly dull sports results from 9 to 10 and then opening his music show with Loverboy - played Gong's "Magick Brother"!

The minute I heard Gilli Smyth's erotic "space whisper" on "Magick Brother," I knew it was my college faves and had to pull over to listen. Amy loves anything weird, so she was entranced as well!

Listen to Gong's "Magick Brother" LP.

As if hearing one Gong song wasn't cool enough, Coach followed "Magick Brother" with perhaps Gong's signature sing-along, "Pot Head Pixies"! "I am...you are...we are...CRAZEE!" (Parenthetical thought: This would make an excellent segue into P. Frog's "We Are Crazy." Just a suggestion, Coach!)

Listen to Gong's "Pot Head Pixies."

You see, back in the late '70s, I was a fan of all things Gong - be it Chuck Barris' The Gong Show or Daevid Allen's trippy-hippy-dippy musical troupe - during my "progressive" phase. Gong were definitely Prog (incorporating Allen's spacey "glissando" guitar with elements of jazz, rock and psychedelia), but were never overly serious or pretentious about it. They were fun and silly, dabbling in Far Eastern mysticism while creating a stoner mythology on vinyl about Zero the Hero and his pothead pixie pals zooming around the cosmos in their flying teapots (aka, The Radio Gnome Trilogy: Flying Teapot, Angel Egg and You). Richard Branson signed the group to his new Virgin Records label in 1973 and the original members were soon augmented by guitarist Steve Hillage, synth player Tim Blake, bassist Mike Howlett, and drummer Pierre Moerlen.

A Pot Head Pixie in his Flying Teapot

Back in 1978, a bunch of us Prog-heads (Tom Lehrer, John Lorch, Carlos?) drove up to New York to see Daevid Allen and various manifestations of Gong (Mother Gong, New York Gong) at the avant-rock-experimental Zu Manifestival...

...and in 1979 I saw Gong perform a midnight show at Johns Hopkins University, a gig at which my old bandmate Adolf Kowalski promoted our group by canvasing the campus with Thee Katatonix graffitti - promptly getting us banned from JHU! After the show, my ex-wife Katie and I even got our photo taken with Allen and his missus, Gilli Smyth (aka Shakti Yoni).

Tom, Daevid & Katie at Gong's 1979 JHU show

Chanteuse Gilli Smyth space whispering at Gong's 1979 JHU concert

I remember Gong were big on Lunar Lunacy, preferring to perform their sets under a full moon - and the Hopkins concert was no exception (and probably why Adolf killed time waiting for the midnight curtain call by roaming the halls and defacing the walls of Shriver Hall).

Before that, the Coach had introduced us to the crazy sounds of the Lyon-based Chico Magnetic Band, dropping something called "Explosion" onto our curious ears.

Listen to Chico Magnetic Band play "Explosion."

I think Coach was sampling their album for the first time, because he admitted afterwards, "I really wasn't sure what I was getting into with these guys!" He was probably as gobsmacked as we were by the crazy sounds he unleashed from their lone LP, for hearing these French acid-rockers truly is a shock to the system. Here's how reviewer Seth Man described Chico's album for Julian Cope's Head Heritage web site:

“Explosion” begins the album not with a whimper nor even a bang but Chico’s entire reason for existence all laid out in one glorious collision after another with Chico yammering, barking, guffawing and channeling consonants in a way irrespective of enunciation and rarely with a literal clue as to what he is freaking out so badly over as his ever-heaving, pulsating soul forces out a welter of incomprehensible sounds in such a riveting and demonstrative manner they almost make even [Can's] Damo Suzuki’s English/Japanese/neither dreamtime-to-Samurai-rage vocals seem like the Queen’s English by comparison...He’s dropping consonants and vowels left, right and centre and I can only make out “My sweat tastes like a river!” until it’s directed into a 4-lane highway of vocal gibber along the lines of: “Nuuuaaarrgugug!,” “Nene waundah orf zarebbb!” and even “Anmyne cloth iss fallin dawn!!...The entire album could just be this first track, and it would STILL be a killer. Ooh-la-fucking-la.

Seth Man goes on to call Chico's self-titled album "chock full o’ balls and amazing riffs that consistently make all the right moves at the right times...Put simply, this freakin’ album has EVERYTHING. And by that I mean it draws from elements of approaches set down by “Phallus Dei”-era Amon Düül Zwei, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Silberbart, Straight-era Alice Cooper, Can, Guru Guru, Groundhogs, Speed Glue & Shinki, Led Zeppelin, Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band, Tiger B. Smith and “Free Your Mind”-period Funkadelic (so help me Eddie) and are seamlessly wedged into one album." Seth Man concludes that "Chico IS...The Man."

And speaking of Hendrix, I note that the band are three white guys and black dude whose Afro makes him looks a lot like Jimi. That would be singer Mahmoud "Chico" Ayara. His bandmates are guitarist Bernard Lloret, bassist Alain Fabreque and drummer Patrick Gael. Chico Magnetic Band continue the Hendrix comparisons by choosing to cover "Cross Town Traffic" (though you'd hardly recognize it) and "If 6 Was 9" (an early single).

"Chico IS...The Man"

More prog followed with a Dutch quartet called Drama, comprised of Polle Eduard (ex-Tee Set, on bass and vocals), Uly Grun (guitar, keyboards and vocals), Frank van der Kloot (guitar and vocals), and Shell Shellekens (drums). I don't remember much beyond them sounding equal parts dreamy prog and blues-rock . They released a bunch of singles and one album called, appropriately enough, Melodrama.

Listen  to three songs ("Dreamed I Was the President," "No Doctor," "Melodrama") by Drama.

Coach then got a little grittier by spinning "Little Floozy" by Elmer City Rambling Dogs. This harp-driven blues-boogie number sounds like an early Doors workout, especially given the singer's Jim Morrison imitation.

Listen to Elmer City Rambling Dogs play "Little Floozy."

Elmer City Rambling Dogs

"Jam It" (1975) LP by Elmer City Rambling Dogs

Coach even plays some more uptempo Powerpop on occasion, surprising us with cuts from San Francisco's Earth Quake (the Beserkley Records quartet that at one time backed Jonathan Richman on an early recording of "Roadrunner") and Glen Matlock's post-Pistols Rich Kids.

Listen to the Earth Quake single "Tickler."

Listen to Rich Kids play "Cheap Emotions."

Coach is also big on Philadelphia's '70s proto-Heavy Metal Bang, who obviously like Blue Cheer, Black Sabbath, Pentagram and their ilk - but also the Beatles, so their heavy rock is not adverse to pop melody. They had a minor hit with "Questions." Coach has played quite a few tracks from their back catalog.

Listen to Bang play "Questions."

Bang are still banging around (check them out on Facebook and Twitter @bangtheband, or read about them in the just-released biography "The Bang Story") and are still the power trio of Frank Ferrara (bass & vocals), Frank Gilcken (guitar & harmonies) and Tony Diorio (drums, lyrics, graphics, videos).

So there you have it, sports fans: a sampling of just one day's partial playlist from The Coach. When it comes to sampling the eclectic platters of 1970s album-oriented rock, there's no baloney with Andy Moloney - just choice cuts.

Related Links:
90.5 WKHS (www.wkhsradio.org)
90.5 WKHS (Facebook)
WKHS Celebrates 42 Years on the Air (ChesaDel Crier)
I Belong To the Blank Generation: WKHS' Martin Q. Blank (Accelerated Decrepitude)
WKHS' Disc Jockeys Harken Back To Radio's Golden Age (Baltimore or Less)
Listen to Aardvark's lone self-titled album (1970)
Listen to Pulsar's "Pollen" (1975) LP
Listen to Pulsar's "The Strands of Future" (1976) LP
Listen To Bang's "Bang" (1971) LP
Listen to Bang's "Bow To the King" (1972) LP