ISSN 1551-8086
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   poets list
   Francisco Dominguez & Aire Celeste Norell
   Marie Lecrivain & Angel Uriel Perales
   Sheikha A.
   Steve Abee
   L. Ward Abel
   Carl Abt
   Hannah Adcock
   Elizabeth Addis
   Aderemi Adegbite
   Adeolu Emmanuel Adesanya
   Neil Aitken
   M.I Akande
   Shahd Al-Shemmari
   Lynn Albanese
   Alaina Renee Alexander
   Scott Alexander
   Gwyndyn Alexander
   Nicole Alexander
   Inalegwu Omapada Alifa
   Maureen Alsop
   Rafael Alvarado
   Steven Alvarez
   Veronica An
   Zack Anderson
   Kristine Anderson
   G.D. Anderson
   Amy Anderson
   Lori Anderson-Moseman
   Grace Andreacchi
   Renae Andruse
   Arlene Ang
   Roger Angle
   Stephen Anstay
   Azure Antoinette
   Theresa Antonia
   Aurora Antonovic
   Maria A Arana
   Carlye Archibeque
   Joseph Armstead
   Feral Artist
   Baron James Ashanti
   Charlene M. Ashendorf
    Askew
   Gregory Austin
   Shawn Aveningo
   maeghanne ayers
   Goodness Lanre Ayoola
   John-Patrick Ayson
   Jim Babwe
   Sophie Bachard
   Vasile Baghiu
   Bridget Bagne
   song-hue bahk
   Michael Baker
   Prerna Bakshi
   Anna Balint
   David Banuelos
   Jared Barbick
   J. Mae Barizo
   Peter Barlow
   Matthew A. Barraza
   James Barros
   Jeni Bate
   Jonathan Beale
   Richard Beban
   Gary Beck
   Gary Beck
   Lytton Bell
   Hakim Bellamy
   Michele Beller
   Laura Bellotti
   Stefanie Bennett
   Hayley Berariu
   Kevin Berger
   Lawrence Berger
   Mike Berger, Ph.D.
   Tom Berman
   luis cuauhtemoc berriozabal
   Craig Berry
   Nick Bertelson
    Besskepp
   Mary Rose Betten
   Cheryl Beychok
   Gwendolyn Beyer
   François Biajoux
   Jarvis Black
   Heitham Black
   Beau Blue
   Rose Mary Boehm
   Bonnie Bolling
   Julie Bolt
   Lek Borja
   Cristogianni Borsella
   Gerald Bosacker
   Amanda Boschetto
   Wendy Bourke
   Jack G. Bowman
   Jennifer Bradpiece
   Bob Bradshaw
   Marcielle Brandler
   Peter Branson
   Sumiko Braun
   Adam Bresson
   Quiana Briggs
   Jack Bristow
   paulo brito
   Alan Britt
   Michelle Brodeur
   Lynne Bronstein
   Charles Brooks
   Adam Levon Brown
   Leah Brown
   Deborah Edler Brown
   Jason Sanford Brown
   zoey brown
   Bob Browning
   Sir Mark Bruback
   MC Bruce
   Jeffrey Bryant
   Kate Buckley
   Robin M. Buehler
   Ron Burch
   Graham Burchell
   Maria Rose Burgio
   Betsy Burke
   Matt Burns
   Richard Burrill
   Tony Bush
   Zachary C. Bush
   Elissa Calvin
   Joseph Camhi
   Dana Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Velene Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Neil Campbell
   Luis Campos
   Janine Canan
   Lyn Cannaday
   Pasquale Capacosa
   Joey Capone
   Hélène Cardona
   Britton Laine Carducci
   D.J. Carlile
   Julia Carlson
   Alicia Carpenter
   Jonathan Carr
   Patricia Carragon
   Oscar Carrasco
   Jared Carter
   Michael Aaron Casares
   John Casey
   Lisa Castro
   Rachael Kelechi Caulker
   Nika Cavat
   Michael Caylo-Baradi
   Steve Ceniceros
   Michael Ceraolo
    Cerise
   Robert Cesaretti
   Cheryl Chambers
   Lita-Luise Chappell
   Shibani Chattopadhyay
   Lisa Cheby
   Beth Cheng
   Ralph-Michael Chiaia
   Juhi Chowdhury
   David Christensen
   Phil Clark
   Terry Clark
   Darice Clark
   Terry Clark
   Charles Claymore
   Jeanette Clough
   Kim Cochran
   Ed Coet
   Tobi Cogswell
   Megan Coker
   Bruce Colbert
   Merrill Cole
   Karen E. Cole
   Christopher Coleman
   Larry Colker
   Beverly M. Collins
   David Concepcion
   Christiane Conésa-Bostock
   Brendan Connell
   Alice Constantine
   Jack Cooper
   Flavia Cosma
   Rachel Coventry
   R. Paul Craig
   David Cravens
   William Crawford
   Natalie Crick
   Rosemarie Crisafi
   Carla Criscuolo
   Chris Crittenden
   Benjamin Crowley
   Susan Culver
   Joe Cyr
   Jim D Babwe
   Morgaine d'Abney
   Karen Corcoran Dabkowski
   Daniel Daian
    Dalton
   Catherine Daly
   Iris Dan
   Marie Lecrivain & Daniel Gallik
   Dan Danila
   Michelle Daugherty
   Piper Davenport
   Kathrine David
   Gareth Davies
   Holly Day
   Frank De Canio
   Gregory De Feo
   Steve De France
   J de Salvo
   J. de Salvo
   kumari de Silva
   Pijush Kanti Deb
   Shalla DeGuzman
   JD DeHart
   Diane Dehler
   Aurelius Demarco
   Darren C Demaree
   Gloria Derge
   Chris Derrico
   Lea Deschenes
   Maurice Devitt
   Theo Diamantis
   Mike Dias
   Martin Dickinson
   Edward J DiMaio
   Mark Dixon
   Peggy Dobreer
   Rosemarie Dombrowski
   Francisco J. Dominguez
   Linsly Donnelly
   Lisa Helene Donovan
   Kevin Doran
   Marvin Louis Dorsey
   John Dorsey
   Marvin Dorsey
   Laura A. Lionello & Douglas Richardson
   Doug Draime
   Donelle Dreese
   Dale Duke
   Jawanza Dumisani
   Henri Dumolet
   Max Dunbar
   t. joseph dunn
   Robin Wyatt Dunn
   Tyler Dupuis
    Durenda
   Walter Durk
   Douglas Dvorkin
   Ron Dvorkin
   Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi
   Alfie Ebojo aka alfie numeric
   Elisabeth Adwin Edwards
   Sabrina Edwards
   Patricia J. Edwards
   Miguel Eichelberger
   John Elison
   Julian Ellis
   Neil Ellman
   K. Eltinaé
   R.M. Engelhardt
   Margarita Engle
   Jon Epstein
   Sufi Erter
   Eli Eshaghian
   Michael Estabrook
   Alexis Rhone Fancher
   Richard Fein
   John Feins
   Emily Fernandez
   Melissa Fischer
   W.S. Fisher
   Jamie Asae FitzGerald
   Amelia Fleetwood
   Jake Fleshner
   John Jay Flicker
   David Flynn
   Arthur Charles Ford
   Liz Fortini
   Sesshu Foster
   Heather Fowler
   Clint Frakes
   Sarah Francois
   Amélie Frank
   Alex M. Frankel
   Allie Frazier
   E.L. Freifeld
   M. Frias Frias-May
   Suzanne Frost
   Delia J. Fry
   Elliott Gabay
   Steven Gabriel
   Timothy Gager
   Daniel Gallik
   J Gamble
   Ishmael Garay
   Jerry Garcia
   Daniel Garcia-Black
   Vince Garofalo
   Gabriella Garofalo
   Yvonne Garrett
   Nelson Gary
   Donna Gebron
   Ulrike Gerbig
   Janice Gero
   Ursula T. Gibson
   Rebecca Gimblett
   Tony Gloeggler
   Steve Goldman
   Vesna Goldsworthy
   Melanie Gonzalez
   Jeffrey Graessley
   Allison Grayhurst
   Jeff Green
   Timothy Green
   Jeanie Greensfelder
   Rhoda Greenstone
   Amos Greig
   John Greiner
   John Grey
   Summer Griffiths
   Danielle Grilli
   Brian Grillo
   John Grochalski
   Wendy Grosskopf
   Andrew Grossman
   Ro Gunetilleke
   Kenneth Gurney
   John R. Guthrie
   Debashish Haar
   Erik Haber
   Hedy Habra
   Tresha Faye Haefner
   Matthias Hagedorn
   James Hall
   Tom Hamilton
   David Harrington
   William Harris
   Matt Harris
   Dawnell Harrison
   J. Alana Hauenschild
   Kari J. Hayes
   KJ Hays
   Ann L. Healey
   Eloise Klein Healy
   Jessica Healy
   Jim Heavily
   Dan Hedges
   Paul Hellweg
   Samantha Henderson
   Jack Henry
   David Herrle
   JD Heskin
   Kenneth Hickey
   Jerry Hicks
   Marvin R Hiemstra
   Ed Higgins
   Carlos Hiraldo
   Sherri Hoffman
   Guy Hogan
   Ali Hosseiny
   Dave Houston
   David Howard
   Eric Howard
   Nate Howard
   Bryon D. Howell
   A J Huffman
   Hunter Lee Hughes
   Roger Humes
   Trista Hurley-Waxali
   Elizabeth Iannaci
   Thea Iberall
   Armine Iknadossian
   Gedda Ilves
   Alegria Imperial
   Victor D. Infante
   Victor Infante
   Augustus Invictus
   Susan Irvine
   Alexandra Isacson
   Natalie Itzhaki
   Amber Jacob
   Scott Jacobson
   Larry Jaffe
   Sonika Jaggi
   Emmanuel Jakpa
   Matthew James
   Andrea Janov
   T.A. Jennings
   Ivan Jenson
   Dani Jimenez
   Alex Johnson
   Michael Lee Johnson
   Lois P. Jones
   Strider Marcus Jones
   Tao Jones
   Georgia Jones-Davis
   Jasmin Jordan
   Quentin Josephy
   Liu Jue
   Ruth Juris
   Gene Justice
   Gary Justice
   Pete Justus
   Mikel K
   Scott C. Kaestner
   Sheema Kalbasi
   Peycho Kanev
   Rachel Kann
   Jay Kantor
   Paula Sfier Kattan
   Russ Kazmierczak
   James Keane
   Gretchen Keer
   Aaron Keller
   Collin Kelley
   Kamuran Kelly
   Raud Kennedy
   Bernard Kennedy
   Kathleen Kenny
   Stephen Kerr
   Hari Bhajan Khalsa
   Just Kibbe
   Jerome Kiel
   lalo kikiriki
   Ashley King
   Robert S King
   Franklin Lafayette King
   Sofia Kioroglou
   Rusty Kjarvik
   Kenny Klein
   LeAnne Kline
   Deborah P Kolodji
   Tracy Koretsky
   Edith Kornfeld
   George Korolog
   Dimitris P. Kraniotis
   Mark Krewatch
   Chris Krueger
   Amanda Krut
   Thomas Krämer
   Gerard Kuc
   Christopher Kuhn
   Donna Kuhn
   Len Kuntz
   Craig Kurtz
   Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
   Daniel Lambert
   Anthony Langford
   Donald Langosy
   Ray Lanthier
   Phillip Larrea
   Phillip Larrea
   Kasandra Larsen
   Wolf Larsen
   Ethan Latham
   Lisa LaTourette
   Marie Lecrivain & Laura A. Lionello
   Marianne LaValle-Vincent
   Kevin Lavey
   Judith A. Lawrence
   Eric Lawson
   Richard Leach
   Marie Lecrivain
   Anne Lecrivain
   Noah Lederman
   Pete Lee
   Emma Lee
   Kevin Patrick Lee
   N.M. Leepsa
   Alexandra Leggat
   Laura LeHew
   Gary Lehmann
   Sharmagne Leland-St. John
   Kevin LeMaster
   Michal Lemberger
   Kim Leng
   Roland Lesterin
   Tiffany Lettieri
   P.A. Levy
   Martin Lewis
   Cheyenne Lewis
   Anthony Liccione
   Cynthia Linville
   Laura Lionello
   Zachary Locklin
   Jessica Lopez
   Harold Lorin
   Tess. Lotta
   B.D. Love
   Adam Lowis
   Ron Lucas
   Andrew Lundwall
   Rick Lupert
   Suzan Lustig
   Radomir Luza
   Stosh Machek
   John MacKenna
   Sarah Maclay
   Stefanie Maclin
    Magdalena
   Gary Maggio
   Holly Magill
   Anthony Magistrale
   Marieta Maglas
   Suvi Mahonen
   Donal Mahoney
   Robert Maiolo
   Kelly Ann Malone
   Michael Malota
   Shahé Mankerian
   Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
   Chris Mansell
   H.E. Mantel
   April-May March
   Rick Marlatt
   John Marshall
   Agnes Marton
   Francis Masat
   Anthony Mason
   Lee Mason
   Hyatt Mason
   Johnny Masuda
   Mira N. Mataric
   Ellyn Maybe
   Michelle Mazzetti
   Mary L. Mazzocco
   Ted Mc Carthy
   Austin McCarron
   Terry McCarty
   Paul McConnell
   Brendan McCormack
   Deborah McCreath-Akbar
   Catfish McDaris
   Bray McDonald
   Karen J McDonnell
   Matt McGee
   Allen McGill
   Afric McGlinchey
   Terance James McGunigle
   Cat Angelique McIntire
   David McIntire
   david mclean
   Isobel McQueen
   Fernando Meisenhaulter
    Mephistopheles
   Corey Mesler
   Melissa Michaels
    Mike the Poet
   Scott Miller
   Richard Lee Miller
   Robert John Miller
   Hany Haggag Abdl Mobdy
   Richard Modiano
   William Mohr
   Sonnet Mondal
   Jason Monios
   Leslie Monsour
   Amanda Montei
   Patrick Mooney
   Carl Moore
   Greggory Moore
    Albert Lee Moran
   A.J. Morelli
   Christopher Mulrooney
   Frank Mundo
   Barbara-Marie Mundt
   Augusto Munoz
   Mark Murphy
   Craig Murray
   Kristine Ong Muslim
   JL Nathan
   Nimah Nawwab
   Leslie Maryann Neal
   Jason Neese
   Raghab Nepal
   Robbi Nester
   Mindy Nettifee
   Martina Reisz Newberry
   Beth Escott Newcomer
   Peter Nezafati
   Scott Nichols
   keith niles
   Dave Nordling
   Aire Celeste Norell
   Steve Norwood
   Laura Nye
   Toti O'Brien
   Charlotte O'Brien
   Suzanne O'Connell
   Katie O'Loughlin
   Peter O'Niell
   Tom O'Reilly
   Akor Emmanuel Oche
   A.J. Odasso
   Rita Odeh
   Kirsten Ogden
   Daniel Olivas
   Maurice Oliver
   Marc Olmstead
   Philip ONeil
   Nzingah Oniwosan
   Chika Onyenezi
   Nina Orlovskaya
   Sergio Ortiz
   David Ishaya Osu
   Scott Thomas Outlar
   Holly Painter
   Lizbeth Palma
   Heather Palmer
   Greg Patrick
   Miss Natalie Patterson
   David E. Patton
   Tim Peeler
   Steve Pelcman
   Angel Perales
   Alice Pero
   Angela J. Perry
   Helen Peterson
   Brenda Petrakos
   Adam Phillips
   James G Piatt
   Rebecca Pierce
   Gareth Pike
   James Pinkerton
   Rob Plath
   Kushal Poddar
   Contributors to poeticdiversity
   Meg Pokrass
   Traian Pop Traian
   Bethany W Pope
   Wayne E. Popelka
   Elisha Porot
   Adrian Potter
   Ren Powell
   Frank Praeger
   Luke Prater
   Kristena Prater
   Shannon Prince
   Stephany Prodromides
   Hattie Quinn
   Octavio Quintanilla
   Beverly J. Raffaele
    Raindog
   Catherine Rajca
   Steve Ramirez
   Mauricio Alejandro Ramos
   Vishnu Rao
   Ingrid Rattay
   James Rauff
   Kasey Ray
   Bili Redd
   Brian Redfern
   Marie Rennard
   Luivette Resto
   E.W. Richardson
   John Richmond
   Francisca Ricinski-Marienfeld
   Kevin Ridgeway
   Lillian Ridgeway
   Dee Rimbaud
   Elijiah Rios
   Cat Risinger
   Ariel Robello
   Ebi Robert
   John D Robinson
   Paula Rodriguez
   Nydia Rojas
   Daniel Romo
   Rina Rose
   Emily Rose
   Diana Rosen
   Poet-broker Rosenthal
   Alison Ross
   James Robert Rudolph
   Walter Ruhlmann
   Gina MarySol Ruiz
   Cody Rukasin
   Cody Rukasin
   Ashley Rumery
   David W. Rushing
   Maryann Russo
   Sonya Sabanac
   Howard Sage
   Russell Salamon
   April Salzano
   Bryan Sanders
   Lisa Marie Sandoval
   Cecile Sarruf
    Sasparella
   Ethan Sassouni
   John Saunders
   Lorraine Sautner
   Rati Saxena
   Iftekhar Sayeed
   Frances Schiavina
   Kim Schroeder
   Carol Schwalberg
   Peter Schwartz
   Ken Scott
   Sondra L. Scott
   David Scriven
   Justin Scupine
   LB Sedlacek
   Lisa Segal
   Anthony Seidman
   Anthony Seidman
   Oleg Semonov
   John W Sexton
   Jack Allen Shafer
   Dahn Shaulis
   Tom Sheehan
   Jake Sheff
   Steve Shickman
   Nancy Shiffrin
   June Shiitake
   Ferrari Silverpowder
   Rishan Singh
   Durlabh Singh
   Kalpna Singh-Chitnis
   Apryl Skies
   Knute Skinner
   Sam Skow
   Ratpack Slim
   Lee Sloca
   Carol Smallwood
   Clinton Smith
   Danielle Smith
    smzang
   Kate Soto
   Ghetto Speare
   Jeanne Marie Spicuzza
   Richard Spuler
   Matina Stamatakis
   Jan Steckel
   Julia Stein
   Eric Steineger
   Carl Stillwell
   Bruce Stirling
   Alex Stolis
   Karr Stratynberg
   Kevin Stricke-9
   Keith Stump
   Daniel Suffian
   Annette Sugden
   J. C. Sullivan
   Dee Sunshine
   Mani Suri
   John Duncan Talbird
   Sister Taxi Hopscotch
   Mark Taylor
   Jonathan Taylor
   Barbara A. Taylor
   Allen Taylor
   Paul Kareem Tayyar
   Alene Terzian
    The Unarmed Man
   A. Thiagarajan
   G. Murray Thomas
   Lynne Thompson
   David Thornbrugh
   Kari Thune
   Sarah Thursday
   Ilona Timoszuk
   Tim Tipton
    TJungle
   Chrys Tobey
    tolbert
   Imani Tolliver
   A. TOMIC
   Anthony Torchia
   Mary Torregrossa
   Evan Traiger
   Davide Trame
   Tri Tran
   Ryan Tranquilla
   Alain Marcel Treadaway
   Pedro Trevino-Ramirez
   Ben Trigg
   Paul Tristram
   Maja Trochimczyk
    Troy
   The TruthHearse
   Tatiana Tulskaya
   Yelena and Roman Tunkel
   John Turi
   Danny Uebbing
   Amy Upham
   Amy Uyematsu
   Philomena van Rijswijk
   Gene van Troyer
   Wanda Vanhoy Smith
   Brenda Varda
   Luis Rubio Vargas
   Carmen Vega
   Ms. Veronica
   Papa Vic
   Clee Villasor
   Ajise Vincent
   Curran D. Vinson
   Jason Visconti
   Anca Vlasopolos
   Daniela Voicu
   Claire Walker
   toren wallace
   r.k. wallace
   Evan Walsh
   Sharieff Walters
   John Wariner
   Deborah L Warner
   Christopher Watkins
   Brian Watson
   Lafayette Wattles
   Charlie Weber
   Ellen Webre
   Justin Weiler
   Viola Weinberg
   Florence Weinberger
   Desmond Weindorf
   Cindy Weinstein
   Denise R. Weuve
   Rev. Dave Wheeler
   Leigh White
   Megwynn White
   Kelley White
   J.T. Whitehead
   Claire Williams
   John Sibley Williams
   Patrick Williamson
   Martin Willitts, Jr
   Robert D. Wilson
   Jessica Wilson
   Amye Wilson
   Alicia Winski
   Tyler Joseph Wiseman
   Joseph Wistren
   Wayne Wolfson
   Terry Wolverton
   Nina Womack
   Seth Woolf
   Kirby Wright
   Gianna Wurzl
   Abigail Wyatt
   John Yamrus
   Müesser Yeniay
   Julie Yi
   Gregory T. Young
   Britney Young
   Omar ZahZah
   Mariano Zaro
   Michael Zeltser
    
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G. Murray Thomas
April 2015
   

 

Going to California

    In January, 1987, I finally completed my cross-country journey, and made it to Southern California. Warm weather, beautiful beaches, a literary scene! And great music! What took me so long?
    Before we even get to the abundance of concerts, I was pleasantly surprised (okay, pleasantly shocked) to hear Iggy Pop on the radio. And Talking Heads, the Cure, Bowie, even Public Image Limited. In fact, I found an entire station dedicated to my favorite music. Being in south Orange County, this was 91X, from San Diego (Baja California, actually). But KROQ broadcast the same music up in L.A. when I could bring it in. This was something I never expected.
    And there were concerts, lots of concerts. Although at first this was just frustrating. Between the expenses of moving, finding a new job (I was back to washing dishes, entry level at the Dana Point Chart House), and the higher cost of living, I couldn't afford to go to any of them. I remember a Pretenders show, with Iggy opening, which particularly pained me to miss.
    Still, it wasn't long before I couldn't help myself. The first concert I went to was Adrian Belew and the Bears (his original band before Zappa discovered him) at a nearby place called the Coach House. I was a big Belew fan, because of his work with Bowie, Talking Heads and King Crimson, as well as his solo work. Although he was always better as a sideman, and the concert confirmed that.
    But the Coach House itself was the discovery of the night. It became my go-to venue for the next five years or so. A small venue, it held maybe a couple of thousand, but it still attracted big name artists. It was also close, nestled between Dana Point and San Clemente (my two hometowns while I lived in south Orange County). I could get there in fifteen minutes. It did have its problems: indifferent sound, and (worst of all) all the front rows were taken up by long tables. In order to get a front row seat, you had to order a mediocre and overpriced meal. Nonetheless, its virtues outweighed its drawbacks, and I saw many shows there.
    These included Cowboy Junkies, the Smithereens, Black Crowes, NRBQ, Pat Benatar (singing just blues) and the Wailers. Plus numerous local bands. Some bands fit the venue better than others. The size and atmosphere perfectly fit the acoustic subtlety of the Cowboy Junkies. The Smithereens, on the other hand, played like they were in a much larger space. They played loud, they played big, they played an programmed set which allowed no audience interaction. They overwhelmed the room.
    Black Crowes could have easily played a larger arena at that point in their career. Instead they took advantage of the setting; they relaxed and cut loose, with lots of jamming, friends sitting in, and just having a good time.
    I saw some great, very interesting concerts there. There was a show I nicknamed “Todd Rundgren and His Toys”. It was a solo show, just Rundgren, a guitar, a keyboard, and shitload of computers. Which did allow him to play a wide variety of material from his eclectic career. “Roger Powell couldn't be here tonight, but his data is, “ he announced before launching into a Utopia tune. He played everything from “I Saw the Light in Your Eyes” to some very experimental work. He also made good use a video camera and screen, focusing on his hands, or the audience, or displaying a cartoon band behind him. “When the band's playing really well,” he said, “I like to let them jam.”
    It turned out there was a major computer convention just up the road in Anaheim, and he was in town for that. He decided to add the gig to the trip, and maybe pay some expenses. (My computer scientist brother was also at that convention, coincidentally).
    I also saw Robert Fripp and the League of Crafty Guitarists, which was almost the exact opposite of the Rundgren show. Whereas Rundgren used computers and electronics to reproduce old songs, Fripp and his group performed, on acoustic guitars, music that had originally been created electronically. That is, he used fourteen guitarists to recreate the soundscapes of Frippertronics, which he had originally done with one guitarist (himself) and tape loops. Each guitarist would lay down and repeat a riff, and the next guitarist would layer another line on top of that, building elaborate compositions. It made for a fascinating, even revelatory evening. It was also the only show I've seen with a Q&A in the middle. They closed with an acoustic take on Lark's Tongues in Aspic.
    Another band which featured multiple guitarists, for a very different effect, was King Sunny Ade and his African Beats. Ade was one of the leading musicians in Africa, playing highlife and Juju music. He had a truly big band with four guitars, four singers, three drummer/percussionists. They passed the lead (both guitar and rhythm) around the circle so smoothly I couldn't follow where is was. Instead I just got lost in the swirl. It made for a very impressive night of musical teamwork.
    King Sunny Ade was also a concert I had hoped to be able to see, ever since my Idaho poet friend Scott first introduced me to him several years before. It was one of specific handful of concerts I hoped to be able to see in SoCal. And I succeeded on some of the key ones.
    Neil Young came first. Ever since Rust Never Sleeps, and especially the companion Live Rust album, I desperately wanted to hear him play electric guitar. (At one point he was scheduled to play Boise, but canceled. Besides, that was the Trans tour, so who knows what we would have gotten.) My first summer in SoCal he came to the Pacific Amphitheater, a mid-sized outdoor venue in Costa Mesa. Even though I was still broke, I had to be there.
    I was not disappointed. The show did start with a short acoustic set, not my favorite Neil Young, but he included “Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing,” which rescued that portion for me. Then into the electric set. Oh, those leads. Bluesy leads, rocking leads, twisted leads. “Down By the River.” “Like a Hurricane.” I left very satisfied.
    The other must see show was Richard Thompson. If you're not familiar with Richard Thompson, stop reading this and look him up immediately. He is only one of the greatest songwriters and guitarists in all modern music. Songwriting on par with Leonard Cohen and guitar work like Clapton, all in one man. Seriously, go find some and listen. Again, I have Scott Preston to thank for introducing me.
    He played a show in Encinitas, a small beach town maybe 30 miles south of San Clemente, where I was living. I wasn't sure what I was getting, I only knew I had to be there. It turned out to be a solo acoustic show. Although I was hoping for some electric guitar (yeah, that old bias again), his talent on the acoustic were so great I forgot all about that notion. My journal provides a great description of the show: “He did a lot of what I can only call multi-tracking -- simultaneously playing rhythm and lead, or lead and counterpoint, or dual leads. Also, a lot of playing with harmonics.” Just to be clear, this was long before samplers; he could actually play two guitar parts at once.
    There was one more show during this period which fit into the “must-see” category, although ti was more my roommate's must see than mine. Warren Zevon at the Wiltern. We succeeded in getting tickets, and then he couldn't get off work. I ended up going by myself. As this was one of my first trips up into L.A. on myself, it was a nerve-wracking experience. For the first two years I lived in SoCal I was deathly afraid of the freeways. Just anticipating a couple miles to the mall was enough to keep up at night. And this turned out to be four hours of “normal Friday night traffic” (according to the radio).
    But it was well worth it. Zevon put on one of the most intense shows I have ever seen, right up there with my first Iggy show. And like Iggy, he seemed on the verge of losing it completely through much of the show. Especially on “It Ain't That Pretty At All,” when he sang, “I think I'll hurl myself against the wall/ because I'd rather feel bad than feel nothing at all,” and looked like he might hurl himself off the stage. But he was also capable of being tender on “Reconsider Me” and humorous on “Werewolves of London.”
    Even though I wasn't a huge Zevon fan, I knew he rarely played live, and that this was an historic occasion.
    One more concert where I wasn't a huge fan, but knew I couldn't pass up the opportunity was Bruce Springsteen. I always liked him, but never loved him. My favorite albums of his are Darkness on the Edge of Town and Nebraska, which might tell you something. But I knew his live shows were legendary. Besides, it wasn't just Springsteen, it was the 1988 Human Rights Now concert at the LA Coliseum, with Sting, Peter Gabriel and Tracy Chapman, as well as Bruce.
    Of course it was a great concert. The first highlight of the concert was Tracy Chapman holding the 90,000 in attendance spell bound with just her voice and an acoustic guitar. After that, the various duets made the night. Pretty much everyone on the bill sang with everyone else on the bill. So we got Sting and Springsteen dueting on “Every Breath You Take” and “The River,” Sting and Gabriel on “Games Without Frontiers” and “They Dance Alone,” and Tracy Chapman taking Kate Bush's part on “Don't Give Up,” as well as several others.
    As for Springsteen, I found him disappointing. Maybe it was that he only played an hour and half, rather than his usual three hours. Maybe it was that his shows had been built up so huge in my mind. Maybe it was that, with the shortened set time, he focused on his hits rather than some of his more interesting cuts. In any event, I could now say I had seen him, and felt no need to do it again.
    I still had one more adventure to get through that night. I drove an old Ford Gran Torino, which I bought off a friend in Idaho for $50, on the promise that it would get me to California. A year and a have later, it still ran, but barely. In fact, at his point the alternator had gone out. For those of you, like me, who are relatively ignorant about cars, the alternator recharges the battery while you drive. You really only need that battery for two things -- starting the car, and the lights. If you jump the car to start it, it will run fine. As long as you don't need the lights.
    So there we were, in a not so good part of downtown L.A., with a car we couldn't run until dawn. It took a couple of jumps just to get it to a public street (we had parked in someone's front lawn for the concert). Then we sat in a coffee shop until it was lights out.
    That was the end of must-see concerts for me, at least for a while. Instead I entered a period of repetition, where almost every show had some artist on the bill I had seen before. Most of the time it was the headliners: Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, Who, Grateful Dead, Iggy Pop, David Bowie. (Even the Human Rights Now concert fit the bill with Joan Baez, Peter Gabriel and Sting as repeaters.) Other times it was an opening act: PiL opening for New Order, NRBQ(!) for R.E.M. Then there were times I saw a band for the first time, with a repeat artist, and then saw them again with someone new. Sugarcubes were on the New Order bill, then opened for U2 a couple of years later. Im saw Guns 'n' Roses open for the Stones, and then as a headliner the next year. And sometimes I fudged things just to maintain my record: Eric Clapton jammed with the Stones on “Little Red Rooster,” so when I saw him a couple years later, I still counted it.
    Partly this was because I lived in SoCal, where all these bands played and weren't too hard to see. But it also indicated that the center of my musical world was lagging in the past. Most of the bands I really wanted to see were the same bands I saw in the 70s. Sure there were New Order, R.E.M., U2, G 'n' R, but they were often “might-as-well' rather than “must-see” shows.
    The honest truth was, I was getting old.

copyright 2015 G. Murray Thomas