September 24, 2003

Playing Around

I'm doing some solo shows in mid-October with the legendary UK punk rock singer/songwriter/genius T.V. Smith. He's the guy behind the short-lived but extremely influential band The Adverts, best known for the brilliant single "Gary Gilmore's Eyes" and the classic album Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts, which is one of the finest albums to come out of the '77 UK punk scene. (And I'd say it's arguably the only really cohesive album qua album out of all of them.) It's perhaps less well-known that he's still at it, and has been putting out interesting, idiosyncratic records of carefully composed songs ever since they broke up in '79. He has a new album coming out next month, in fact. He's a great writer.

I still have extremely vivid memories of listening to the Adverts' records (and stuff I taped off the radio) at around age 13, trying to figure out how to play "Gary Gilmore's Eyes," thinking how cool it would be to be in a band like that, telling my friends "you've got to hear this 7"" and totally enjoying it when they looked at me like I was crazy. And trying to "write" my own songs like that, which didn't work out all that well but was worth a shot. (That song wasn't that easy to play on my dad's old spanish guitar because it had a minor chord and I hadn't figured out what those were yet-- all I knew is the chords I knew sounded slightly wrong. It was frustrating. By the time I figured them out, the guitar had been beaten into splintery, unplayable fragments that could not be taped together. I probably should have taken lessons or something...)

Anyway, it's pretty weird to think that I'm going to be playing shows with that guy now. Or I will be if I can get over being star-struck, at least enough to remember how my songs go. (There was one show a couple of years ago when I realized Jules Shear was in the audience and I quite literally forgot my own name-- "uh, I'm, um, um..." Luckily, someone happened to know and called it out, softening the brainlock and bringing that particular identity crisis to a close, but it was touch and go there for awhile. I'm going to have to write it down this time, just in case.) I've never seen TV Smith play, and I have to say I'm really looking forward to it.

As for what I'm going to play, I'm not sure, but I had this goofy idea that I might try to play the new album from front to back. I'm not sure if I could pull off some of the songs solo, but that would be the challenge, wouldn't it? I'll probably chicken out and do some familiar ones with new ones sprinkled in, as usual. But Bobby J., the MTX bass player, is probably going to play bass and/or guitar on a a few of the songs.

Anyway, the shows:

Tuesday, Oct. 14 -- Thee Blank Club, San Jose

Wednesday, Oct. 15 -- Cafe du Nord, San Francisco, with Penelope Houston.

Thursday, Oct. 16 -- The True Love, Sacramento, with Kevin Seconds. (Two shows, I believe.)

Friday, Oct. 17 -- Echo Lounge, Los Angeles.

Saturday, Oct. 18 -- X Records, 2484 Hamner Ave., Norco, CA, (909) 270-0999

Sunday, Oct. 19 -- Brick by Brick, San Diego.

I'm pretty sure that Saturday show is just going to be me, as T.V. Smith is playing at the Showcase Theater with the Vibrators (!) and I don't think they could get me on that bill. It should be a good time over at X Records, though.

More details will be forthcoming if they emerge and if I somehow end up knowing abou them. See you there, if you come. Well, I mean, obviously.

Posted by Dr. Frank at September 24, 2003 06:54 PM | TrackBack

Since moving to NJ in '99, I've wished I still lived in the Bay Area many times, but not being around for the show with you, TV and Penelope Houston is an absolute killer. I was one of those who didn't realize TV Smith was still recording and performing -- I'll definitely check out his newer stuff since I agree with you about Crossing the Red Sea With the Adverts. BTW, I saw an article in 2002 in a British magazine about the 1977 Punk scene 25 years on. It turns out that Gaye Advert (bass player in the Adverts) has been a social worker for like 10 years. She seemed to be living a pretty happy and anonymous life.

Good luck with the shows. Please post to the blog about them -- I'd love your impressions of the performances and, of course, the audience.

Posted by: Nick at September 25, 2003 06:44 PM

Dr. Frank star-struck by Jules of the Polar Bears? It’s hard to imagine that Jules would elicit any sort of reaction from such a worldly and talented young man. On the other hand, Dr. Frank can be one hell of an intimidating presence. He reduced the Gretchen girls (adoring MTX fans) into incoherent stammering lunatics after a show in Anaheim earlier this summer. Keep an eye out for them at the Echo Lounge. You (Dr. Frank) could probably make them pee their pants with little effort (a feat reportedly accomplished by Paul Anka when he brought a fan onstage while singing “Put Your Head on My Shoulder” back in the 1950s). Give it a try.

I’ll drag my ass to Café du Nord on the 15th. I won’t pee my pants. And I promise not to say a word about Bobby’s shirt – no matter how tight it is.

I loved the Adverts in the late 70s. “Gary Gilmore’s Eyes” was one of my favorite songs from the era. I still have boxes and boxes of 45s from those years. Dr. Frank was still in diapers back then, but I was a mature high school kid with impeccable taste in music. Many years later (sometime in the late 1980s) I picked up the Peel Sessions and fell in love with the Adverts stuff all over. I was also a big Avengers fan, but have been a little disappointed in Penelope’s subsequent work. Is Joel gonna crash this party as a ScAvengers alumnus?

Posted by: J. Francis Gretchen at September 25, 2003 11:16 PM

Thanks for inspiring me to call up One Chord Wonders in iTunes, Frank. Woot!

Posted by: Heath at September 26, 2003 05:24 PM

Also, check out the Briefs' update/parody/retooling of "Gary Gilmore's Eyes" entitled (Looking Through)"Gary Glitter's Eyes."
Very, very good, esp. if you liked the original and you're familiar with Glitter's, er, legal issues.

Posted by: marc w. at September 26, 2003 06:02 PM

The words I live by:

Live free or die.

One's pants can NEVER be too tight.
(it applies to shirts as well).

Posted by: Bobby J at September 26, 2003 09:39 PM

I had this Dutch "New Wave" compilation called "Geef Voor New Wave". It had either Gary Gilmore's Eyes or One Chord Wonders on it. I should go back and get that first Adverts album, the way you talk about it. And my gosh Penelope Houston. I understand she's folk now or something. But I had a 12 in. 45 EP by the Avengers with The American in Me on it, and three other songs -- it had the best punk rock guitar sound of any record I ever owned. I recall that the miracle ingredient was that it was engineered by one Geza X. Gedeon, one of the great svengalis, apparently.

Posted by: Lexington Green at September 26, 2003 11:04 PM

man, shows or school work? what a conundrum?

bobby j, you are the king of tight pants.

Posted by: kendra at September 26, 2003 11:05 PM

wow, it's always cool to play with people you admire. i'm sure you won't be too star struck.
now i have that kinks song stuck in my head...thanks frank.

Posted by: Amy 80 at September 27, 2003 11:42 PM

Vintage Adverts pix:

Posted by: Lexington Green at September 28, 2003 09:43 PM

Let's see, you're in LA on Oct. 17. Matt says the Corvids will be playing, maybe, with some unspecified headliner on Oct. 17 ... um ... sounds too good to be true ...

Posted by: Howard Owens at September 29, 2003 07:08 AM

Does anyone know if the LA show is all ages or 18+ or 21+? I'm guessing 21+

Posted by: Stephanie at September 30, 2003 06:05 AM

Exene Cervenka was in the house for one of my old band's shows - she married some dude from St. Louis and spends a lot of time here. Several beers calmed my stage nerves, and later she told our bass player that she liked our band. We weren't really "on" that night, so it was a nice thing for her to say.

Posted by: Jason Toon at October 3, 2003 08:10 PM

How fabulous to hear Geza X described as a Svengali. That, he was. I knew Monsieur X back in Hollywood, oh, in the last millenium. It's only recently that I've begun to wear diapers again. As Geza's pal Kim Komet (in Geza's column in the early Spin Magazine, Komet was credited with the invention of "X" chords, the genesis of punk rock...according, mind you, to Geza) used to say-to the frustration of all- "ROCK ON!".

Posted by: Melisa Weber at July 21, 2004 08:08 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?