FELL MUSIC – Frontline

Fell.Frontline


FELL MUSIC – War Creep

FELL.War.Creep


FELL MUSIC – ‘Tide Goes In, Tides Goes Out’ with Kristen Vigard

Fell.Tide


FELL MUSIC – Nobody Said

Fell.NobodySaid


American Celebration – July 4, 2014

American Celebration – July 4, 2014

NO ONE LOSES by Alden Marin
These people
along the festooned streets
of a worn down
coastal town
On the eve of July 4th
waiting for the explosions–
golden domes & purple crowns
the ruby halos and canary sparkles
bristling airborne thorns…
they will wait on these corners
for tomorrow’s show
Like kings awaiting coronation;
Bags of chips, patriotic beer
jerky and a visible pride
in all we’ve done as a nation–
Good and bad, evil & grand
apparent in an evening
As a sparkler in a hand
held up to the night–
Saying Thank You for freedom
Thank You to the armies
long gone & even those vanquished
for giving us this chance
to fold out a chair for a while
open a beer and attend
a little war that no one loses. 

‘American Lite’

Fell Music

“I think so much of this showy, unsubtle, war violence celebration stuff is largely just awful. Grandiose and wasteful American spectacle-ism…Shock and Awe. Yeah, right…”

 Click image to play video

Fell.AmLite


FELL MUSIC – Days World

Fell.DaysWorld


FELL MUSIC – Big Bird Over Baghdad

Fell Music - Big Bird Over Baghdad


FELL MUSIC – War Eternal

War Eternal


GUNTER VILE ‘Poetry Is Ruins’ – Music For Imaginary Film

gunter vile.music for.2

Check out POETRY IS RUINS, a recent release from Los Angeles recording artist Gunter Vile who refers to this collection as ‘music for imaginary film’.

Produced and recorded by Doug E. Lewis @ Venice Arts Club, Venice, CA.


WAR ETERNAL – Killing Is Our Business

From FELL MUSIC, Volume 2. WAR ETERNAL features the Venice Children’s Choir. Recorded at Lotek Studios, Mar Vista, CA in 2005. Excerpt of lyrics from War Eternal:

We got children killing children
It’s all on DVD
We got the fear to haunt you like nothing else you’ll see
We got you where we want you – watching your TV
The Homeland will protect you – praise God that’s what you need
Tell God that’s what you need 

It’s alright – it’s ok – it’s only War Eternal
It’s alright – it’s ok – it’s only War Eternal 

We got you bearing crosses – marching in crusade
We got true believers who will take it to the grave
We got you praising Jesus, waiting for the day
The crowds have come to gather – to idolize and pray
To throw the dollars our way

It’s alright – it’s ok – it’s only War Eternal
It’s alright – it’s ok – it’s only War Eternal 

Another child dead today, another day of siege
Another new disaster, another grave to grieve
A young girl on her way home in the oily rays of dusk
Mistaken for the many enemies of us
Perhaps she knew too much
We need a full confession – it’s torture for the truth
We want to know what he said, and what she said to you
Meet your liberator – the arbiter of good
It’s time to heed the calling, we really think you should

It’s alright – it’s ok – it’s only War Eternal
It’s alright – it’s ok – it’s only War Eternal 

FELL MUSIC – WAR ETERNAL


DANCING WITH CANCER (part 2) – “You Must Do The Thing You Cannot Do”

As described in the ABOUT section of this blog, in 2006 I was confronted with what felt like, at the time, insurmountable odds relative to my survival. Cancer (Cancy Wancy) had again come-a-calling and brought with it a diagnosis similar to the one received back in 2003 – 6 months,  max. (Dancing With Cancer, Part 1 is here).

Some things you write down, a word, a clue, a quote, a statement, and like a raft on a sea you cling to those words, that idea, in much the same way a shipwrecked sailor clings to a point of light on a darkened horizon, as a way forward and a direction home through the fog of long night. I remember always a conversation I had thirty years ago with my friend, the jewelry designer, Esmeralda Gordon.  We were chatting about one thing or another, philosophically speaking, when Ez said to me, “you know, Mr. Dougie, it’s not about survival, it’s about development.  Another friend, Mark Bautzer, chimed in, “that’s right, baby, it’s all about evolution.”

This thought, this idea of survival vs development, or evolution, has served me in such a way as to provide distinction and clarification through times of personal trouble and uncertainty. It has allowed me to move forward into unguarded territory and to surrender myself to the situation at hand, to commit to the effort and embrace the experience of developing an expanded set of tools, a way of thinking, a path of proceeding past the edge of the darkness and beyond the seen into a realm of accepting what unknown lies ahead.

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
-Eleanor Roosevelt

FOUR, the final album of the FELL MUSIC PROJECT,  is a diary of my second turn on the dance floor with Cancy Wancy.  The final song on FOUR, titled XYZ, relates directly to the above enlightened quote by Eleanor Roosevelt. For me, issues of  survival and development are related not only to an acceptance of my personal situation but to meaningful aspects of personal growth. I would not wish my journey on anyone, nor would I trade it for anything.  Living and dying several times in this one lifetime has provided a unique and extrasensory perspective. Thanks for tuning in.

Doug Lewis
041412

FELL MUSIC – XYZ

XYZ

Been running on the high
Temperature side
Breaking out in wet chills and hot sweats
Skin burns silver, red – too hot to touch
Doctor comes in, light goes down says
You may have a year – What was that sound

When the night falls
You just have to look it in the eye
Like you’re staring down the barrel of a gun
Staring at the sun
And it’s buring you away

Headed through a nigh turn
Driving home, I’m alone and thinking
Trails of taillights snake and burn
Some freeway flashers blinking
Everybody lies – it’s true
But when there’s no one left to lie to
No one left to fool, no one left but you

What’s that sound
When the night falls 

You just have to take it for a ride
Down the center of the other side
Down the center of the middle
And it’s blowing you away

I need someone warm to stay with me
With a kind heart, the gentle touch of someone sweet
I’m alright, I know where the light is
I know the cost, I won’t get lost
I need someone warm to stay with me

What was that sound
You just have to make another start
Somewhere from the center of your heart
Like you’re staring down the barrel of a gun
And it’s blowing you away

DOUG LEWIS

FELL MUSIC


WHAT REMAINS – Good Friday with Fell Music and the VAC

WHAT REMAINS is a song from FELL MUSIC, VOLUME ONE

Jesus was a Capricorn
Jesus didn’t live too long
Jesus was a radical
Jesus died in April, hanging…
Have you?

East of Eden, what remains
Long shadows…a void
And with the sun undone
The muse plays another
Song to the man on the hill
Mother Mary please comfort me I’m ill
My father, my god, what have you done
Mother Mary, where’s that light coming from?

FELL MUSIC – ‘What Remains’


FORGET THE HATE – A Vietnam Veteran Comes Out Singing

On my FB page this morning was a link to FORGET THE HATE, a song and video by Vietnam Veteran, Tom Mooney.  I listened and felt the short hairs rise. If you follow the VAC then you know how music and song with a focus on social commentary is a way of life around here.  VAC projects like the New White Trash (with uber-activist, Michael C. Ruppert), Fell Music, The Cheeters and the VAC Music Project all interject themselves with interpretative commentary relative to issues of social justice, equal rights and the essential elements of image-rich truth-telling.

TOM MOONEY earned the title of American Hero for his service as an Army soldier in Vietnam. Hesh Rephun at RAGING ARTIST details Mooney’s Vietnam experience and how the album containing ‘Forget The Hate’ came to be called, #10 GI. According to Mooney, “When my son, who’s a Marine, came home safe, I knew it was time to make this album. I’ve been writing this song for over 40 years.”

I’ve known Tom Mooney for 15 of those 40 years. His career in the commercial production/ad business is legendary. So is his charm and his whip-smart persona.  Our paths have crossed frequently, having worked together on international film projects from Los Angeles and New York to Paris and Prague. A minute into our very first meeting those many years ago, Tom said to me, without asking, “You’re a musician…”  I said I was, and he then told me about his early exploits in music, playing drums and guitar up and down the east coast.

That’s one reason why hearing Forget The Hate this morning left me feeling almost giddy. Mooney’s passion, his playing and singing, drives this song into territorial high ground, a place reserved for those who have seen and now have no choice but to speak out about what they have witnessed and what they know to be true. Listening and watching Forget The Hate is an enlightening experience. The energy in Forget The Hate is exactly what I would expect from Tom Mooney – fast, furious, unsinkable. This song, this music, this Tom Mooney is the real deal.

Read the full Raging Artist article by Hesh Rephun here. 100% of the profits from the single will go to support our troops and veterans.  Info will be posted on Tom Mooney’s Forget The Hate Facebook page. Right on Tom Mooney – You ROCK!

Doug Lewis
April 5, 2012

TOM MOONEY – ‘Forget The Hate’ – Song on Bandcamp

TOM MOONEY – ‘Forget The Hate’ / Video onYou Tube

TOM MOONEY


CRUDLAND – Jamie Cohen Art and Fixture

CRUDLAND is a manifesto booklet created by Venice CA artist  JAMIE COHEN (1953-2008). In a series of stark collages, Cohen tells the story of a world gone mad with signage, branding, innuendo and immersion into a culture of advertising and excess.  The Crudland manifesto could be understood as Cohen’s ground of being in that all his later work in sculpture, painting, drawing, writing and song could be traced back to Crudland. The theme of Crudland also served as inspiration for the first release from the FELL MUSIC project, appropriately titled, Crudland.  In 1997, Cohen and Fell Music founder Doug Lewis collaborated with L.A. photographer Patricia De La Rosa on a series of photography portraits using the original Cohen sculpture series as the basis for what would become album art for the Fell Music/Crudland project. It is possible that the original Crudland manifesto booklet still exists.  What we do have are the original images taken by De La Rossa of the Jamie Cohen sculpture series known as Crudland.

JAMIE COHEN – Ball with Hat

JAMIE COHEN – Clown

JAMIE COHEN – Bulleted Heart

JAMIE COHEN – Finger This

JAMIE COHEN – Under Lock and Key

JAMIE COHEN – Dogscape

JAMIE COHEN – Colossus of Crudland

JAMIE COHEN – Crudland Man

JAMIE COHEN

DOUG LEWIS, JAMIE COHEN

FELL MUSIC COLLECTION


AMERICAN LITE – Music of the Post-Paradigm

From FELL MUSIC, Volume One. Recorded at Lotek Studios, Venice CA. The saga of AMERICAN LITE is perfectly illustrated by this piece of wall-art.  Scroll down for video.

AMERICAN LITE

Ready or not, here we go
On demand, the future’s here
On the money, we’re right on track
Are you ready for years of fear

God, Country, War, Money
Burn down the barn to kill off the rat
Accident, incident, another loose coincidence
Throw out the baby to save the bath

Like it or not, all aboard
Men in suits meet the sailor’s whore
There’s a lizard with a slithering tongue
His friend the snake is from the uppermost rung

They’re salivating, waiting in line
For their turn with the whore divine
Torch burning bright, she pays the rent
The blinds are drawn for money well spent

Good news, it’s fair to say
Future’s here where the road gives way
In the fog a sign illuminates
Red light flashing in the night

Return your seatback to the upright position
Fasten your belt for the head on collision
Go ahead and scream but please don’t make a sound
This Friday fish dinner looks like bloody ground round

Grab some bread and run for cover cries a warning
Could be a nasty change coming like a hurricane
Captain and the First Mate staring out across the wake
Of an angry sea
Passengers are getting worried, looking out beyond the break
Not sure what they see

Between the devil and the deep blue sea

FELL MUSIC – American Lite

FELL MUSIC COLLECTION
 

MUSIC OF THE POST-PARADIGM: American Spring 2012

THE AMERICAN SPRING OF 2012

Liberty hangs in the balance at every moment, never still and always moving to maintain a footing. A nation at a crossroads has historically proven to be a less than pretty sight.  The 21st Century, arriving with the epic and viceral collapse known as 911, has continued a tidal wave of collapse trajectory through the first decade and now, in the year 2012, is taking hold. In America lines have been drawn and distinctions have been made.  Those few with most are drawing their battle plans, hording their riches and seeking to influence those who can change the law do change the law in favor of limitations that restrict democracy, freedom and liberty.  Meanwhile, the many with little have little.  But they do have a name.  They are the 99%.

We are the 99%.

We are men, women, children.  We are doctors, housewives, janitors, war veterans.  We are artists, poets and car mechanics.  We are ranchers, farmers and schoolteachers.  We are mothers, fathers and grandparents. We are journalists, watchkeepers. We are the anonymous and the known. We are everyone, everywhere. We are in America. We are in France and Spain and throughout Europe.  We are in all countries of Africa.  We are the people of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Israel. We are in Australia, Brazil, Chile, Hungary, the U.K. We are in every city of every state of every country and we are of every nation. We are the 99%.

The 99% understand how the concept of infinite growth has come and gone, the paradigm exhausted. One is reminded of the only graph used by Michael C. Ruppert in his speeches on Collapse to illustrate the dramatic spike in world population, a trajectory in line with its main and finite ingredient and catalyst, oil. Burn-off from the era of petroleum man is collapsing our ecosystem.

Now on the streets and in the neighborhoods and cities of America we are headed into spring followed by the long, hot days of summer. Crimes are being committed, liberties are being removed and there is a giant contraction taking place fueled by the greed, fear and the arrogance of the few.

Do not go back to sleep.

THE NIGHTCLUB AT THE END OF THE WORLD (NEW)

NEW is a space conceived by Michael C. Ruppert from the cabin of his Lifeboat Hour, a weekly radio show hosted by Ruppert and aired by Progressive Radio Network, Sunday at 9p Eastern. Ruppert points out how NEW and the Lifeboat Hour is not all bad news, that it is an original mix of music with madness, laughter with loss, skills with sorrow, community with calamity, love with grief, and joy in the moment.

Musically speaking, Ruppert is fond of playing cuts from a Venice, CA music project called the New White Trash (NWT), of which Ruppert is a founding member with Wade De Void, Andy Kravitz and others. The theme of the NWT is ‘Music of the Post-Paradigm’. The NWT manifesto reads like this:

Mining a new groove, and with a kind of rough grace, DOUBLEWIDE, the 37 song, 2 CD set from the NEW WHITE TRASH, chronicles the slide of the former American middle-class down a steep and slippery slope to the New White Trash, a place impartial to race, religion, creed or color.

The New White Trash (NWT) demographic is the outcome of the former middle class being folded in with the working poor and, for good measure, the unemployed and uninsured.  The NWT defines and represents a majority of people whose common bond includes and exists beyond the demographics of age, race, location, education. The people of the NWT are the new ‘have-not’s’, and by its nature and size, this vast swath of population (99%) is now squarely at odds with the 1% who own, operate and dispense our corporate universe, big pharma, big food, big oil, big defense and big government included. ‘By the people for the people’ is receding.

The Post-Paradigm Era describes the vacuum left by the sudden disappearance of the former American middle class.  It is in this vacuum we now find ourselves, tumbling in turmoil as home losses mount, bank balances shrink, and shelters are jammed with the likes of you and I. The good old days are done and dusted. That party is over. The coming chaos of the post-paradigm era will lead to a radical and immediate rethinking and remaking of America or it will lead us to complete devastation.

As Woody Guthrie filled a musical vacuum by acknowledging the pain and the suffering of the Great Depression, the New White Trash fills a bigger and more insidious vacuum left by a rampant, programmed consumerism that serves only corporations and their shareholders. 

This is a new breed of American music in which the message is clear: You’re f**ked.  But now what?  

NWT portrays a post-paradigm, ‘less beautiful’ America, brought to life through music, media, theatre and message – those of, love,need and a desire for social justice. ‘Drop it down’, ‘don’t dig too deep’, ‘we charge extra for this’, ‘take these’, ‘we can’t escape from’, all are the language of the NWT.  And for good reason.

If you got no credit and you got no cash, you’re NWT.  If you got more going out than you got coming in, you’re NWT. If your 401k is MIA, if you’ve filed for bankruptcy, if you find yourself living in a trailer or back with your parents, if your unemployment has run out, if your roads have holes and local schools are closing, if you lost your health insurance to a pre-existing condition, you are the NWT. If you bought the hype and borrowed on a dream,and now your house is gone and you’re selling your things, you’re the NWT. If you’re pissed off, yet you keep a sliver of love in your crossed heart and at least a post-ironic smile on your lips, you’re NWT. If what you had is gone – just like that – then you know you’re running with the New White Trash.

 The NWT offers what popular music does not: it recognizes and acknowledges all those who are being marginalized and dropping off the radar screens of “official” life. It is not all depressing. In fact, the NWT celebrates the joys, simple pleasures and love that are often re-discovered only in the darkest times.

NWT was produced by and at the Venice Arts Club. Other music produced by VAC promotes a similar tune and travels a road populated with the familiar themes of the Lifeboat Hour and the NEW. The VAC supports Ruppert’s effort for truth and social justice and gives a nod to his journey and his vision by presenting a gathering of relevant songs from our collection. Thanks for tuning in.

THE NEW WHITE TRASH – ‘It Would Be Strange’

NEW WHITE TRASH – ‘Running With The New White Trash’

FELL MUSIC – ‘Dangerous Ground

FELL MUSIC – ‘American Lite’

FELL MUSIC – ‘Somewhere South’

THE CHEETERS – ‘Bombshell Breakup’


WAR CREEP – Fell Music

WAR CREEP, from FELL MUSIC, volume 2  features the Venice Children’s Choir. Recorded 2002, Venice CA.

There’s a high noon hanging
Cop in a frenzy to get his first kill
Where the two worlds meet
Cop shoots an innocent boy then a go-go-girl
Inside the War Zone
TV’s on – Guns are blaring
On every channel – violence glaring
Lines are drawn – Eternal war
In the name of God – signed in blood

Wags his gun
Kid turns to run
All is war through eyes of war
For the man in the uniform
From Baghdad to Marathon
A noise on the radio
That little voice in the back of your head
Don’t take your eye off the man in the uniform
Don’t take your gaze off the man…

PARTY LINE – Jamie Cohen collage

FELL MUSIC – related content


THE NEW WHITE TRASH – From ‘Dangerous Ground’ to ‘Doublewide’

In 1997, a decade before a fortuitous meeting between Michael C. Ruppert and Venice musician Doug Lewis in the spring of 2008, Lewis was busy recording his on-going Fell Music project. The meeting of Ruppert and Lewis would lead to the forming of the New White Trash and the making of their debut album, Doublewide, a 37 song double-disc set chronicling the slide of the former middle class down a ‘steep and slippery slope to the new white trash, a place and genre impartial to race, creed or color’. Doublewide was released January 11, 2011 and has since found a home with a worldwide audience of truth seekers investing in alternative and conscious voices to match the signs of the times. One song from Doublewide, titled We Can’t Escape From found its way onto the soundtrack of the DVD release of Collapse the Movie, directed by documentary filmmaker Chris Smith and featuring Michael Ruppert as the only character in the film. Roger Ebert said this of the film: “I don’t know when I’ve seen a thriller more frightening. I couldn’t tear my eyes from the screen. “Collapse” is even entertaining, in a macabre sense. I think you owe it to yourself to see it. ”

Some people meet over drinks; Ruppert and Lewis met at a dog park adjacent to the Santa Monica airport near Venice, CA. In an excerpt taken from the article ‘Grooving With The Archetypes‘, a piece about the VAC written by Bud Theisen, Lewis says, “Mike and I met at the local dog park, our dogs got on very well and so did we. I gave Mike a copy of the Cheeters first CD and he loved it. He gave me a copy of Crossing The Rubicon, which I devoured.”  Lewis, always on the prowl for new musical talent, took an interest in Ruppert’s desire to play and record music. “I made him work for it,” says Lewis. “I pushed him pretty hard and he didn’t fold. In fact, he blossomed. Mike is a great teacher about what he knows, and a terrific  student when it comes to learning new skills.”

For Ruppert, those new skills included learning how to work the microphone while developing a more ‘left brain’ approach to writing, away from the factual reporting of his day to day and into a more sublime world of the trans-poetic, lyrical experience.  In a word…storytelling. Fortunately for Ruppert, Lewis had been mining this ground for decades, with themes and songs of cautionary tales to do with protest, eternal war, with revealing commentary swiped against a background extending from Vietnam to the big bomb.

For Lewis and Ruppert, there were no issues in reaching common ground in the recording studio. With their two sensibilities cut from the same desire to formulate words into the action of social commentary by speaking out through popular song, Lewis and Ruppert, along with Andy Kravitz, Kristen Vigard, Cara Tompkins, James Mathers, Malia Luna, and a host of others, poured their time and energies into recording their collaborations for what would become Doublewide.

Could two people be more different?  Lewis – tall, lanky, whip-smart with movie-star looks (think Willem DeFoe meets Chet Baker) and more rock and roll attitude than most rock & rollers vs Ruppert – a former LAPD cop who looks like he could be Wilford Brimley’s kid brother. Yet, for Lewis, meeting and recording with Ruppert had a reassuring effect. “Mike and my sensibilities are perfectly aligned. I’d been working this ground a long time, steering each of my collaborative projects into a direction of relevance, refining the message, speaking out. Working with Mike was a breath of fresh air. Between us, we hit a groove and didn’t waver”

Dangerous Ground‘ from Lewis’ Fell Music project was recorded in 1997 at Arthur Barrow’s Lotek Studios in Mar Vista. The message is familiar, the imagery informed and the lineage apparent from the Dangerous Ground to Doublewide.

Mark Baer, President, Museum of Monterey and Managing Director of SmartChannel.TV
March 2012

DANGEROUS GROUND video from FELL MUSIC TWO
THE FELL MUSIC PROJECT
DOUBLEWIDE from THE NEW WHITE TRASH. Artwork/Cara Tompkins
THE NEW WHITE TRASH. Artwork/Cara Tompkins
MICHAEL C. RUPPERT and DOUG LEWIS. Image/Cara Tompkins
RUPPERT/LEWIS at the VENICE ARTS CLUB. Image/Cara Tompkins

FELL MUSIC – ‘War Eternal’

The songs of FELL MUSIC are themes of love lost and found, experience and worldly adventure from the high street to the low, and pure protest – against war, injustice, inequality. Fell Music is social commentary bled into song from the page of todays culture.

“Equal rights and justice for all, that’s my beat.  War is a lie. Politics and politicians play a money game for a money grab. Television and Madison Ave. are vacum’s built to sustain passivity and subtract life and imagination from those they attract. The real world is somewhere else. I figured out early on that Vietnam was a calculated and cold-blooded propaganda campaign built on media cooperation and most of all built on fear…fear of the VC, fear of communism, fear of the unknown. So yea, my writing and songs have to do with a world of hearts and bones, love and loss, a through the looking glass view from the here to beyond, an awakening and an enlightenment.” DL

Here’s a track from ‘that side’ of Fell Music, titled WAR ETERNAL:

FELL MUSIC – WAR ETERNAL

DOUG LEWIS of FELL MUSIC


TIDE GOES IN, TIDE GOES OUT – Fell Music & Kristen Vigard

TIDE GOES IN, TIDE GOES OUT was written by Doug Lewis, performed by Kristen Vigard and recorded by Fell Music at Lotek Studios, Mar Vista, CA.

LOTEK STUDIOS

Lotek Studios is owned and operated by ex-Zappa bass player, ‘Clonemeister’, and music legend, Arthur Barrow, and is a mecca for L.A. recording artists seeking quality sound production engineered and produced in the lo-key, no rush, uber-eclectic environment of Barrow’s spaceship he calls Lotek Studios.

Lotek began life as a classic Los Angeles bungalow/cottage. Located south of downtown Los Angeles, the bungalow was trailered away to make room for the landing of the then new L.A. Coliseum. Barrow launched his studio in 1983. Eclectic is a fitting description for Lotek studios. Even the arrival is offbeat – via an unpaved Mar Vista/Venice back alley through a pleasantly overgrown compound and up a back porch to the studio then into the control room. Barrow will offer you coffee, ask you to smoke outside, fire up the master switch and get down to the business of making music.

Barrow’s skills as a multi-instrumentalist musician, engineer, programmer and producer are evident by a glance at his catalogue. Zappa, The Doors, Robby Kreiger, Berlin, Joe Cocker, Diana Ross, Nina Hagen, Janet Jackson, Oingo Boingo, Billy Idol, Giorgio Moroder.  Some of his many film credits include work on Top Gun, Scarface, The Doors, Breakfast Club. Barrow also composes music for classic silent films, including: The Cameraman with Buster Keaton, The Torrent featuring Greta Garbo, and The Boob, starring Joan Crawford. His self-published albums feature rich, complex and melodic compositions with a sound perfectly tailored to the Now.

If you’re a musician, an invitation to one of Arthur’s jams can be hard to come by. His guest list is an elite mix, usually Tommy Mars on Hammond organ, Rhodes piano, Rogers synth and vocals.  Then there’s either Vinnie Colaiuta, Tom Brechtlein or Andy Kravitz on drums. Brass includes Larry Klimas with Bruce and Walt Fowler. On guitar is Robby Krieger or Warren Cucurullo, while Barrow handles bass. The several incarnations born out of these collaborations include Banned From Utopia, The Mar Vista Philharmonic, Theoretical 5. 

KRISTEN VIGARD

The music hardly rests in Kristen Vigard.  She’s always bopping and singing, talking a profound stream, reciting and recalling fact and fiction in a dizzy blur, tapping a beat, restoring order or creating chaos, sometimes all at once and usually in double speed.

As a child performer, Kristen was on Broadway in the original production of  ‘Annie’. In her teens and twenties, Kristen played Moran Richards on the popular daytime soap, The Guiding Light. Then there was a calling and a move to Paris to sing in clubs and busk the streets. New York was next, then Los Angeles to record her first album, backed by Jamie Cohen at Private Music.

Kristen first met Doug Lewis of Fell Music in 1982, at the L.A. happening, AT SUNSET.  Located on the Sunset Strip at 8907 Sunset Blvd., Lewis was one of six core members At Sunset, an idea launched by media artist Jim Budman to, by word of mouth, “open the (back) door and see what happens”. What happened was that word spread, virally speaking, from the six members (Budman, Lewis, Mark Brooks, Dan Millington, Adam Linter and Dana McDonald) and out into an ever-expanding network. The result, in short time, was the evolution to a ‘multi-functional, omni-sexual, relatively civilized space where anything could, and usually did happen’.

Kristen Vigard became a regular At Sunset, her crowd included Basquiat and Warhol, James Mathers and the Topanga Scene, John Frusciante and Anthony Kleidas of the newly formed Chili Peppers.

AT SUNSET 1981-84

At Sunset occupied the former Sneaky Pete’s restaurant, a former hipster hangout on the Sunset Strip. The policy was backdoor only, down a long series of steps which adjoined and shared a common wall with the Whiskey A-Go-Go. Once at the door, if you were either on the guest list or were invited in, you paid a twenty dollar ‘donation’. Once in, there were no rules, so to speak, but especially in terms of the interior space – all was accessible.

Budman’s brother, Michael, owner of Roots sportswear, was living in Paris and had begun a monthly fashion/culture magazine called ‘Passion’, published in English for international distribution. After an ad was placed for At Sunset featuring only the logo (a John Van Hammersfeld litho) and address, word got out and the celebs arrived.

The surreal aspect of At Sunset was apparent inside through the actions of those guests who realized the loose aspect of the environment. You could walk into and through the kitchen, into the walk-in cold-box.  Or you could walk behind the bar and serve beer, wine and sake to fellow patrons. A large adjacent room served as the dance floor/stage area, then up a set of steps to two more private rooms, where interviews would be filmed, lines could be drawn, lights could be dimmed…

Outside on the Sunset Strip an equally dynamic scene was in full swing – Punks, Mods, Rockers, Funksters and Ska’s mixed with Hollywood translife at the corner of Sunset and San Vicente.  At Sunset added the gay and the straight, the young and the old, the Valley, Downtown, Malibu, Venice, and the celebs. On any given late night would be Tim Leary or Truman Capote or George Carlin behind the bar slinging drinks to a crowd rocking to a DJ spinning Tainted Love by Soft Cell, or The Untouchables in the next room spreading the live vibe.

In late 1984, exhausted by three years of nightlife, Budman, Lewis and the rest of the At Sunset crew closed the doors and the party was over.

VENICE

A decade later, Jamie Cohen was riding his bike near his house on Electric Ave. in Venice when he spotted Doug Lewis walking his dog. Turns out they lived a block from each other. Jamie Cohen was a legendary A&R man, who had signed Kristen to her first recording contract.  Cohen also played a key early role At Sunset, setting up and spinning records for the dance crowd, and bringing in the music industry alumni, including Clive Davis.

It was Cohen who introduced Lewis to Arthur Barrow, which in turn led to the production of Fell Music, featuring Lewis, Cohen, Kristen Vigard, Robert Williams, Barrow, and others. The seven albums that make up Fell Music were recorded at Lotek Studios from 1994-2006.

TIDE GOES IN, TIDE GOES OUT

Tide Goes In, Tide Goes Out is written by Doug Lewis and performed by Kristen Vigard. The spanish guitar was added by Jorge, a player Cohen and Lewis found at La Cabana, a popular Venice eatery.  Other musical performers include Lewis on guitar, Arthur Barrow on bass, guitar and organ, Robert Williams on drums. Mastered by Bob Stone RIP. The song was originally released on Fell Music, Volume 6, titled ‘The New Dystopia’. It is currently available from the Fell Music Bandcamp site, on The Best of Fell Music, Volume 1.

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The Serge @ Lotek Studios. Image/Cara Tompkins

Lotek Studios & Tommy Mars.  Image/Cara Tompkins

Doug Lewis at the Lotek board. Image/Cara Tompkins

At Sunset, Details Magazine

Doug Lewis

Jamie Cohen

Kristen Vigard


ARTHUR BARROW: Happy Birthday – Sixty Trips Around The Sun

Feb 28, 2012

ARTHUR BARROW is the ultimate hipster – smart, funny, honest, well-read and an all around civilized person and nice guy.  Arthur’s musical talent is legendary, but the man is more than his musical accomplishments.

Through a mutual friend, Jamie Cohen, I was introduced to Arthur in September of 1994.  I had been writing songs and playing music since the early 80’s, but had never made an album. We got together that year and spent a few days recording at his studio – LOTEK – in Mar Vista, CA. Those early recordings became the foundation for a series of releases I eventually put out under Fell Music.

Previous recording experiences of mine had ended badly. In one instance, my music partner, Bryan Englund, the son of Cloris Leachman, died of a drug overdose in a NYC YMCA just days before we were to begin recording at the studio of his brother, George. Other musically related opportunities and  instances proved equally fruitless. Back then, and without any of the home studio gear available today, making an album began to seem like an impossible task, so I gave up on the dream, went back to fishing, made a few more turns around the globe, got married, had kids and went to work in the L.A. film biz. I continued writing, playing and occasionally performing in local L.A. coffehouses, though the idea of recording had lost it’s appeal.

After going over the material recorded with Arthur, I recognized an opportunity to not only to make a record, but to do it with someone who was a master at his craft and did his work without pretense, ego, or any of the usual suspects that can and do get in the way of the creative process. I contacted Arthur in March of ’95 and he agreed that we would begin going through the original material, fashioning those 30+ ideas into something that resembled a cohesive whole.

A week later, on the set of Michael Jackson’s SCREAM video, I chopped off a big chunk of my left ring finger, arguably the most important finger for a (right-handed) guitarist.  So I figured that was it.  No more music and song, no more guitars. I stored them in the garage, locked the door and walked away. It was Arthur Barrow and Jamie Cohen who brought me back to life, musically speaking.

I’m no stranger to pain; I’ve broken lots of bones, and over the past 8 years I’ve undergone 14 cancer-related operations (having been told twice in the past 8 years I had 6 months to live). But an amputated finger is different; grated off by the gnarly teeth of a skill saw, what was left of my mangled finger was a bloody mess, literally.  A few months on the mend I came home from work and found my acoustic guitar on a stand by the side of my desk in the spare bedroom my wife Jane and I used as an office. Jamie had pulled it out of the garage, dusted it off, and tuned it up. The touch of the steel strings over the raw nerve of my amputation was bone-throbbingly painful. Seriously. Made me take up smoking. Cigarettes. Again.

Jamie encouraged me, then after a while insisted I get back in with Arthur. So I called and we did. Since then I’ve been blessed with enough luck to hang out and make music and good cheer with Arthur Barrow. Riding with Arthur on the musical side of life has been an experience and an education, a real journey into both the art of music-making and the heart of  friendship.

His studio, Lotek, is like a spaceship in the form of an old house trailered away from the site where the L.A. Coliseum landed. Arthur is not just a bass player, not just Frank Zappa’s bass player or Clonemeister, he plays a mean guitar, his first love growing up in a musical family in San Antonio, Texas, with a father who played church organ on Sundays (one of Arthur’s many fine religions is to bike every morning from his house to his studio and for two hours sit at his fathers Hammond organ to play pieces by Bach, Chopin, and Stravinsky – his musical hero.

Years later, when I had learned plenty from Arthur at Lotek about recording and from my setup in my home studio, Arthur would invite me over to sit in and monitor the mix board during jams and rehearsals with his friends and band members. Guys like Tommy Mars, Vinnie Colaiuta, Larry Klimas, Robby Krieger, the Fowler brothers, Warren CuccurulloTom Brechtlein, and always the spirit of Frank Zappa. Hearing these guys play live in a 20×20 foot room is a high experience, an awareness of a higher language.

Later, after both our families bought houses and settled two blocks from each other in the same Mar Vista, CA neighborhood, and when I had some rough goings dancing with cancer, Arthur would be there, always, with a ride to or from the hospital, soup from his wife, Randi Barrow, an offer to walk the dogs. Arthur and I made it through the Bush years with a shared suspicion and the feeling of a turning, and I made it through my knockout bouts with cancer by having Arthur in that circle of friends I would turn to time and time again for support and love. Big love for you, Arthur Barrow, and Happy Birthday!

Arthur, through the glass, playing bass. Image/Cara Tompkins

Lotek Studios Control Room. Image/Cara Tompkins

The Lounge at Lotek.  Image/Cara Tompkins