Friday, May 29, 1998

The W.E.fest … maybe the most fun week I ever experienced! The W.E.fest is the best-kept secret of the underground. Before you die, you really should go to the W.E.fest. But remember to eat and sleep while there.

Before we got to Wilmington, N.C., I was picturing a mixture of Woodstock and a summer beach frat beer orgy with mobs of out-of-control college kids sucking up the free beer and heckling the hard core bands. You can complete this picture. I was wondering how I would survive this scene of craziness. I had been communicating for years with Kenyata and his partner in Opulence Records, Lee. They had sent me care packages of neat stuff including dozens of CD’s of great bands. They had shown some of my films at the last W.E.fest and had put my/Linda’s version of "I Got You, Babe" on an Opulence compilation tape. Having deep philosophical discussions with Kenyata about art and such shit, I knew of their commitment to giving artists/musicians/people opportunities to create without compromise. I knew they only charge regular folks $15 for a festival pass (performers got a free ride!) … but if representatives of record companies or other corporate types showed up, there was a special pass price of $1500! I knew that Kenyata and especially Nadya took care of performers far more than most promoters (not the right word for what they do…miracle workers is more like it!). But it didn’t take being there very long to feel the taking care of one another was the operating principle connecting the W.E.fest core group (Kenyata, Nadya, Lee, Al, Rick, Alex and Rich), the audience, and the bands into a tribal community. I could sit in my wheelchair in the middle of the audience of the most hard core set ... because everyone around me was looking after me. (Do not try this in a slam dance punk club!)

Due to a delayed flight, we got to the scene Thursday (8 p.m.) late … missing the first band, Garden Of Sirens … which, judging from their tape, was one of the best bands … reminding me of the young Patti Smith Band! Today we started listening to the pile of tapes and CDs that the bands kept giving out … or were in the bottomless TAKE ME bin at The Exchange where you also could pile up a collection of cool zines … all free with your pass. Until today, I knew G.O.S. members as just fellow W.E.festers on the same musical trip … within the core audience who were there for the whole seven days of the "boot camp" or "summer camp." This core audience was at the most 200. This swelled Friday and Saturday with one-nighters.

Anyway … we were late. We walked through the historic section of Wilmington. There were a bunch of young people sitting on the sidewalk outside the club Bessie’s in a civil war building. A fire-eater on stilts. A woman sitting on a tall stool at the door, warmly greeting people back "home" for another year, coaxing new people to buy passes, keeping track of people, solving problems for people, always lustfully enjoying interacting with people. This was Nadya. This had been our guardian angel for the last few months…who made sure we would have everything we needed to make our stay comfortable and our performances possible. When she saw me, she hugged me so tight that a lens popped out of my glasses. It was so fun watching her masterfully dealing with people that we missed some bands so we could sit with her, watching her. She was at The Exchange when it opened at noon everyday … and she was still at the door at the late night "private party" … for pass-holders only … which started at 2 a.m. most nights. Her smile of welcome and caring may be what most people carried away with them as the personal symbol of W.E.fest.

Unfortunately we missed the first band, Garden of Sirens. But we got their tape from the bottomless free bin at The Exchange. (The wise pass-holder checked the free bin everyday for new free treasures!) From their tape, Garden of Sirens reminds me of the young Patti Smith Group. But for the rest of the week, Garden of Sirens were just fellow travelers on the musical journey. Anyway, when we got into the club a band called Porn Flakes was setting up. My performer’s eyes saw that the only sound check happened right before you went on. But I also saw Al the sound genius took care of the bands, making sure they sounded good … which most sound people don’t! When Porn Flakes started, I was looking around for Kenyata … the guy I had communicated with for years, but had never met. But then I realized Porn Flakes was very good … white rapper punk Tubes-type show. Then I realized I was going to see 40+ bands in very intimate clubs … and in the case of Wilmington Exchange (the W.E. in W.E.fest), almost in a living room! And it soon became very clear that, while the kinds of music of the bands covered a wide range, the quality of the bands ranged from very good to mind-blowing amazing. Nadya said this was because of their blind selecting process. They send tapes of songs without the names of the bands to people around the country to rate. (How do I get that fun job?) The highest rated bands go into the final selection pool … as well as bands that someone gave a 9 rating to. The 40 bands are picked from that pool. Bands can only play W.E.fest one year … although they can play at a late night "private party" again.

I’m glad that I hadn’t yet figured out it was safe to sit in the front … because Porn Flakes hosed the audience down! But then they did what most bands did that week … thanked Kenyata/Lee for having them, thanked the people for coming, and said how amazing it all was. Later in the week, bands told me secret stories about how Kenyata did certain tricks, making their appearances possible. Kenyata came up and hugged me. Then he was off to pick up Takayuki and Shigemi from the airport. Takayuki had come from Tokyo to be my drummer for the next night’s show!

We decided we needed to eat. Nadya had provided us with a list of healthy restaurants. One of them was Mollye’s, a health food store with a deli and a juice/coffee bar … and accessible restrooms … ideal for our base camp! We got there about 30 minutes before their closing time. But the guy behind the counter and I got talking. The first interesting thing was the W.E.fest is a best-kept secret. This guy had only vaguely heard about it. Most town people we later talked to didn’t know about it at all. And this is on purpose. Later Nadya told us they only put posters in places where people who care about the music will see them. Last year, they got concerned when it looked like the college crowd had discovered W.E.fest’s free beer (beer tasting events an hour before the night’s show, free beer for the first hour of the show, then the keg for the late night party). But jocks have short memories. They didn’t come back this year.

Anyway, I was talking to this guy Jack. I needed musicians for my Monday ritual performance. It turned out Jack played drums and had just met a guy who played guitar and horns. They had exchanged phone numbers to improv together. Seeing my band before me, I got Jack to commit to play. But when I went to the bathroom, Jack had time to get nervous (he hadn’t played in public before). "What if people don’t get it?" he asked. "Art is risk," I replied. He was in. He and Bob played together everyday before Monday. And they came to see my Friday HOT BLUEBERRY JAM.

Feeling impressed with myself, we headed back to the club to see the last two acts of the show … acts that would normally be opening acts. But the wacky arranging genius of Kenyata put them at the end, creating intimate magic! First was the super hero, The Torch Marauder … a black shroud, blue skinned good guy playing duets with his evil double on the video monitor … him on keyboards, the evil one on drums. The Torch Marauder did an incredible drum solo…well, not exactly a solo, because he also played the keyboard with his foot! At one point, the evil one sent two killers with Star Wars light swords to get The Torch Marauder. But as always, good wins out. I haven’t seen such mad silliness since Andy Kaufman "died". Dave, a.k.a. The Torch Marauder, had been the drummer in one of my favorite bands, Tricky The Cosmonaut. So I grabbed him for my JAM band. But since Takayuki was my drummer, Dave wanted to play keyboards … which he is just learning. Who am I to argue?

The next act was John the Baker … turned out to be a one-man righteous political rage bomb … his band couldn’t get their parole officer’s o.k. to come down from Woodstock. But John’s intensity burnt up the stage. No wonder the Woodstock pigs arrested him for singing on the street about his mental state! They just settled with him out of court for $20,000 for that!

After the show, Kenyata introduced me to Reuben who would be one of my guitarists for the next night. He and his girlfriend (they are a cute, child-like couple) had just arrived by bus from North Dakota. Everybody was heading off to the late-night party. But we couldn’t do it and keep alive! But we ended up sitting on the sidewalk outside the club for an hour or two with John the Baker, the Reuben couple, and Lee … just talking. This sidewalk area turned out to be an important element of W.E.fest. It was the meeting place, a chat place, an exchange … and the place where a lead singer could grab a catnap … the place where you could see what D. Michael of )ism( and Chuck "the mayor" look like!

We spent the next day with Takayuki and Shigemi…absolutely cute and delightful. Breakfast and coffee. Takayuki taking photographs of my empty wheelchair (might be a Japanese thing, but probably a Takayuki thing!). Hanging up the LaBash backdrop at The Exchange for the night’s show. It’d be the backdrop for all the night’s bands! The Exchange’s front room with sofas and bottomless free CDs/zines bins was the W.E.fest hangout. The middle room was where the bands would play that night. It was basically a big empty living room. We spent most of the day outside beside Nadya, people watching. At one point, a guy recognized me from Mondo New York and was impressed that W.E.fest had gotten me. To be frank, I feel so lucky that I can still be a part of such a vital, alive, potent grassroot masterpiece of an event "at my age", "at this late stage of my career" … well, I must be doing something right! This feeling was amplified when Rick, the very crusty but very lovable owner/denmother of The Exchange, came up and asked if he could be in my band tonight! The more the merrier! Then he sat down to get a samurai haircut … filmed for an underground documentary on body art.

On our daily Mollye’s visit, I got talking to the very cute and sweet salesgirl, Jen … ending up recruiting her to play a role in The Cave. I can’t help it!

Back at The Exchange, we were treated to a night of extremely good young pop bands. With Shigemi joyously dancing beside my chair, it struck me funny to be on the same bill with these new Beatles/Beach Boys/whatever. Kenyata must have a big back yard because it seemed like all the bands were camped out in it!

As the night went on, the place got packed. When Burn the Priest, a "pseudosatanic" band set up, we retreated to the sidewalk/street, which was also packed. I regret this retreat … first because the singer made everyone take his/her shirt off … a man after my own heart! … Second because during my set, the singer sat at my feet, drinking it all in.

The jam was pushed back to the late night "private party" for pass-holders only … just in case Jesse Helms had any ideas about using Linda’s sheer net dress as a pretext. So at 1 a.m., they cleared everybody out of The Exchange and The Cherotic All-Stars set up. Then they let the pass-holders in. The place was as packed as before.

I’m lazy. So I’ll let Takayuki describe the jam:


Rivers Join the Ocean

Takayuki Nakano
http://www2.airnet.ne.jp/takayuki
takayuki@da.airnet.ne.jp


There are certain types of events -- or images -- that your eyes your senses only get dim when you try to reach the center. The Sun, for example.

I) Facts

Frank Moore and The Cherotic All-Star Band
HOT BLUEBERRY JAM

Friday midnight, May 22 (or early morning of 23) -- the 2nd day of The Wilmington Exchange Festival (W.E.fest) 1998 --, at The Exchange, Wilmington, NC

musicians:

Frank Moore - voice and dance
Linda Mac - Cher and reading
Dave (from The Torch Marauder) - keyboard
Reuben - guitar
Kenyata Sullivan - guitar
Rick D'Anjollel - guitar synthesizer
Takayuki Nakano - reading and drums


Al K. Lock - mixing and tape operation
Michael LaBash - backdrop


program:

1) An Open Letter To Senator Jesse Helms (Moore) read by Takayuki

2) THE JAM,

a) Mind Games (Lennon), sung by Frank
b) I Got You Babe (Sonny and Cher), sung by Frank and Linda
c) instrumental jam
d) poetry jam, Frank's poems read by Linda
e) My Way (Sinatra), sung by Frank


II) Sketches

"It's a tradition ... " answers Michael LaBash. We're in a restaurant called Tomatoz. While we lunch, we talk a lot. We come to mention Michael's quitting the band (oops, I forgot the name ... ) that was on its way to fame, thanks to Bill Graham? 'only' to become an apprentice of Frank's. Michael's answer is to me, I've just likened his decision a couple of years ago, to that of Syd Barrett, ex- Pink Floyd guitarist / songwriter. And Frank, he's always picking up musicians, artists or whatever, even here in Wilmington!! "Constantly evolving!" Nadya, the goddess of W.E.fest, later declares. If we play the next day, naturally, it would be completely different: different lineup, different music. But the same vibe: Tribe.

About 2 or 3 p.m. when we first arrived at the venue, called The Exchange, we were led to the place we are to play that night. There they were playing a CD of Miles Davis, In A Silent Way, with bass emphasized. So emphasized that first I couldn't even tell it was Miles. I didn't quite expect that kind of music. Bass (not electric anyway!), hihat, organ, soprano sax and then open but softly played trumpet ... oh it's Miles! I don't know, they must have been playing Miles for a good long time, but that was the moment I finally recognized. You see, I'm travelling abroad.

O English language, I blame you for your difficult -- inexplicably inconsistent -- pronunciation system!! For a foreigner like me, some proper nouns, especially names of persons are almost impossible to guess their right pronunciation from spelling. By the way, we are at a cafe called Port City Java. Right after explaining a Japanese proverb on 'nail' (Tsume no aka wo senjite nomu), inspired by Frank's Nail-clipping ritual (no, that was not in the cafe, but in front of The Exchange, few minutes ago), we start examining the text I'm going to read. It's Frank's "Open Letter To Jesse Helms". -- The last question I ask being, what's the meaning of "get your big brother foot off my back"??

Back to The Exchange, there's a secret chamber (?) upstairs. It's fairly large. I suppose it's a kind of ballroom with a bar. At the other end of that space currently empty, there's a door that leads into the sound laboratory of Rick, owner of the venue (and who just has decided to join the band!). Oh I feel like I'm back in my room in Tokyo: many many equipments and instruments and a computer ... Back to the empty ballroom, where musicians meet each other.

It's Bill, of Discount from FL. Discount is the second act for tonight (we're the sixth). Moreover, they have toured Japan last year. Bill, the drummer, seems quite surprised to encounter anybody from the country in such a place!? We exchange -- literally! -- our CDs. He and I talk about Japanese language. He's very interested in and actually learning it in college (right?). His question is very challenging: he asks what do you say "You rock!!" in Japanese?! Hmmm, just say "you rock!" in English!! -- It was really fun talking with you, Bill!

Due to jet lag and terrible insomnia, I started to feel bad. I couldn't sleep, I didn't want to eat, I kind of wanted to breathe fresh air, but I didn't want to move ... Anyway, I and my girlfriend left The Exchange. It was evening. From a bar nearby I could hear an alto saxophone (was it live or was it recorded?). We looked for some place we can eat and probably take a rest for a while. Suddenly we started to feel unsecured. I don't know why, obviously there was nothing wrong, but everything -- not only people but buildings and objects too -- surrounding us suddenly looked hostile to us ... Or was it the last phase of Temptation??

Maybe it's too late for dinner, we thought. We walked around, in vain, and finally got back to The Exchange, where our friends are!! They -- Nadya et al. -- encouraged us, saying they don't want to see us hungry! Shanakee, an Irish pub, was the place they recommended. Flags ... what color? Oh we got it. Later I thought, strange coincidence that it was Irish! Coincidence, because back in Tokyo I'm recording every week -- privately; no one here even knows about that!! -- the text written by one of the greatest and most mysterious writer from Ireland: James Joyce.

Guinness (belch!) and seafoods, and lo, they're playing the 1980s pops! However snobbish I might be at present, I won't never forget the initial force, so strong and persistent, that took me into music, and self-expression. Remember American Top 40? Billboard chart? Now, all of a sudden, they started playing songs like "Video Killed the Radio Star" (not the original Buggles version, but the recent cover version by ... who?), Do you really want to hurt me?, Every little thing she does is magic. -- Hey, I'm back!

Evelyn Forever, from NJ, was the fourth act for that night. As the lead singer and bassist Ed told me before they start, they play "pop" music. No, that's only surface. I'd say, they play 'passion', that is so universal and timeless. Format isn't important once you've got that 'good' spirit. I was really lucky to catch you! Thank you for good vibration!

It was dark. I got my finger bitten by one of drum hardware. Funny it's called Iron Cobra. Technically, it's bass drum pedals. It's one of the few things I've brought from Japan. It's heavy and tight -- as the name suggests, it's one of those 'Heavy Metal' gears! -- for stability's sake, and it sometimes bites ... Most rest of the drum set was borrowed. Basically it's a classic Slingerland kit owned by Matt (of Evelyn Forever -- see above), augmented with Kevin's drums. Anyway, I started setting up instruments still sucking the little finger of mine [literally - this is not one of those 'finger'-related idioms!]. As you might have guessed, it was salty as the Ocean!

A man, looks like drunk a bit, came to me. He said something that I couldn't first understand. He said it once again. It's America, you can do whatever you want, that's America!! -- Well, I hope so ...

"An Open Letter" was performed as a duo by Frank and me. I swear it was the most powerful duo I've ever done. Frank, if you run for President, I will definitely do that again!!

Back to drums ... I love playing drums softly. I love playing silence. That is to provide a necessary basis for punctuation. To punctuate: La beauté sera convulsive ou ne sera pas ... But, after all, do they dig that ... ? Anyway, that's what I'm always doing back in Tokyo. Read Finnegans Wake and play drums, and record them all. Secretly.

But no, no Finnegans this time. Drums only.

I always wear Bill Evans (pianist) type of glasses. The jam ended up with those glasses fell down on the floor. I don't remember whether I took them off and put them down there, or they just fell off. Anyway, for the duration of the jam, I could see and hear everything so well. The only thing lacking was probably the sense of time, which was totally gone!

Very impressive sight: Frank dancing so hard that he even touches the sky!! It was so impressive because he and I were the only ones playing seated: he in his psychedelically decorated wheelchair, and I on a drum stool. It was like, Hey Frank, where are you going?!, don't leave me alone!! And still we were playing ...

The band was excellent. Everybody was listening to each other. Lots of interplay I enjoyed, especially with Dave. He knows. He's a multi-instrumentalist. He played keyboard (synthesizer) but he's originally a drummer. He, under the name of The Torch Marauder, did a mixed media performance the night before, which unfortunately I missed (I might have been at the airport then!). Rick was very much aware of constructing a larger piece (music) out of fragments. Kenyata was a wild rock'n'roll star. Everybody had their due role. -- All this happened out of nothing. We didn't rehearse at all.

The "you can do whatever you want" man, still drunk, came to me again. This time, however, I was drunk too. At some point, during the jam, I took Rick's dixie cup and swallowed what was in. It was beer -- microbrew one, perhaps? Anyway, the man said once more, you can do whatever you want in America. I guess so!

And oh we sweat a lot. Outside, the sidewalk too seems to have sweat. And the horse cop went by. A guy, bit drunk, came to me and said "How long have you been touring with them? I mean, where're you guys from?" "Well, it is the first time we play together; it's one time only band. And me, well, I came from Japan just to play with them!" "That's really cool, man!! Cool but ... you, you're fuckin' bizarre too ... " Am I? (laughter)

White ceiling and distant music of her taking shower. It was 4:03 am when we finally got back to our hotel room. Thinking, I've been to this country before. It was November 1976 when I first came to this country. I was 8 years old. Oh that house we lived too must have been whitewashed ... There was an upright piano in the living room. I don't know why, that living room always reminds me of Mussorgsky's Pictures at An Exhibition, that opening theme.

I then had no particular taste of music. I was 8 years old. I went to the local elementary school up on the hill. How I loved that school bus! I was in the third grade. Wasn't it there I first did my poetry reading?! I surely had a good time. I had lots of friends. On the day I had to go back to Japan, it was April 1977, I cried, I resisted, with all my force. I didn't want to go!!

Summer 1977, my second visit to the United States. Pretty much sightseeing-like. I've been to many places but don't quite remember any of them. I don't even remember if I met my friends again ...

But I kept interested in this country, through radio. That formed my early taste in music. The radio years didn't really last so long. And the path I took later on is bit complex that I won't be describing it here any further. Just someone come to my room and count up all the LPs and CDs I have! You'll see I'm musically American, so to speak.

Late in the 1990's, Internet made America nearer to me. And so my third visit to the United States. It is also my international debut as a performer.

To play music here, to be heard here, and to be appreciated here, how do they all mean lot to me that I can't really tell you!! To me America is a dreamland!! Dream over 20 years!! To think of all that, to think how this country rewards all those efforts, my tongue again started sensing something salty; but alas, this time, my cheeks came along, sensing some warm liquid going on and on and on ... White ceiling and distant music of her taking shower.


III) Epilogue, or prologue to another ... ?

A dream I had: listening to playback, only to find out that the opening reading was not recorded ... The tape starts with an applause [to the missed reading?], and then suddenly resolves into a strange vocal jam. Frank repeats the same notes, and the band gradually joins imitating Frank. (Tokyo, June 1)

- Text written June 1, 1998 03:15 - June 3, 1998 03:37 +0900 (JST)
Copyright (c) 1998 Takayuki Nakano


It’s me again. The art of listening on the part of everyone in the band made the band’s sound dynamically ebbing-and-flowing. From Takayuki’s and my duet reading to the jam … Kenyata’s rockstar licks and gestures egging me on, Takayuki’s dramatic drumming, Dave’s child-like keyboard style, Rick’s weird sound creations, Reuben’s shy strange sounds matching his nose glasses, my moaning vocals (dancing on my bum knee somehow cured my knee! … to Linda’s powerhouse readings in the untamed musical storm … to "My Way", the set was simply electrifying … as I listen to the tape (including the Helms duet) made by Al.

Btw, Takayuki, I’m glad I was a part of your dream and your international debut!

After the jam, we had to take Takayuki and Shigemi back to the hotel because they had to catch a plane in just a couple of hours. But this wasn’t easy to do! Not only did people want to talk about the jam, they also wanted to tell Takayuki and Shigemi that their coming all the way from Japan to be a part of the W.E.fest tribe meant a lot to them. When we finally did get to the hotel’s parking lot, we five had a long, teary goodbye, filled with a lot of hugs, kisses, and false departures.

So the next day, Saturday, was our "off" day. So we had breakfast at the beach, giant cappuccinos at Mollye’s (they had never served a 3-shot cap before me!), and headed to Bessie’s for the show. Nadya had warned us about "bootcamp" W.E.fest where people forget to eat, sleep, drink … until they faint. "Not us," we replied. So we sat back, listening to Godboy, a wacky rockabilly band. There were just the core W.E.festers, who had come to know one another at least by sight. Then The Milagro Saints came on and simply blew us away with their folky jazzy trance evoking songs with full emotions. They are one of the best bands we ever seen/heard. We were tripping on how lucky we were being able to hear all of these bands for free (if you don’t count the $3,000 getting there!). Then I tripped out that we were one of those bands! Then a 9-piece "ska jazz" band, Take 5, took to the stage with a big horn section, a great bluesy singer (who had told me he hadn’t seen anything remotely like my jam), and a sexy guitar player in a short metallic mini dress…she drove the guys crazy by lifting her leg just high enough. This same mini would appear on several guys on following days when males in dresses became the fashion statement! The guitar player had been a wild dancer in the audience during the previous nights. There wasn’t a line between audience and performers in the W.E.fest community! According to Nadya, last year this guitar player had been an assistant to a documentary filmmaker. This year, she is a key member of a hot band! That’s the spirit of W.E.fest!

By the time Take 5 was finished, the place was getting packed with one-nighters (by far the biggest crowd of the week). So we decided to take a walk. It was amazing how many music clubs there are in those four blocks … especially compared to San Francisco. After our walk, we settled down to watch Nadya’s sidewalk people show. Sometime after midnight we began to realize that we had forgotten something! To eat! Dinner! Food! So we started driving around in a quest for food. This finally led us to a 24-hour supermarket for Cheerios and the fixings. At the store (miles away from where the show was), there were a couple of fans excited that we, and especially LaBash, were there. Very cute!

Sunday we focused on eating. Unfortunately that meant we missed most of the all-day underground film festival, complete with free popcorn popped by Nadya and the squatter kids! We caught one and a half films, which were excellent. But the grind of the boot camp was taking its toll. Michael was getting sick. Kenyata was laying crashed out death pale in a booth at the club … and that was the last time we saw him during the fest … a bummer! Me? I waited until we were home and I was writing this account for my forced 3-day hospital stay! Too much fun can kill you! But ain’t that what Life is all about?

So Monday afternoon we went to The Exchange to set up The Cave for the late night. Guys were trying to score their dresses for the night’s activities … or lemon tea for their colds. Darren Blunt, the underground artist whose works have graced T.C.(r.) and many other zines came by. He was excited to meet LaBash. He said LaBash had profoundly influenced his work. Because of LaBash, Blunt has started drawing nudes … and getting shit for it! LaBash puffed up … rightly so! What a compliment!

The night’s music was at The Wavehog with a killer air conditioner that waited until you were sweating hot to blast you with freezing air … as if the smoke wasn’t fatal enough! Anyway, it was another night of great punky pop bands. Lee (very cute in his dress) and I started the practice of sitting together, wondering together when a dud band would show up, and after each band comparing notes. "No dud!"

Then Jackbeast came on. They are from Dublin, Ireland … gotten to W.E.fest through The E-Salon’s Leigh. They looked like your typical hard-core Crime/Dead Kennedy’s trio. But then we found ourselves floating in a magical musical tunnel, floating above time and space! Transformative shit!

After their set, John the guitarist came down and started hugging and kissing me, calling me "The King." Leigh had given him some of my tapes. After that night, John could be always seen with his camcorder taping the other bands. The last night he told us he would definitely be back next year because the whole event was so inspiring. He was "on the bus," to use a term of Ken Kesey’s and his Merry Pranksters. In fact, the spirit of W.E.fest reminded me of the Pranksters’ Acid Test … uncommercialized roots of the Dead’s concerts.

We headed to The Exchange to make last minute preparations for our 2 A.M. performance. Now I have learned that my pre-expectations never match the reality. I was expecting (at least before we arrived at the W.E.fest) a rave-type crowd … this side of chaotic out-of-control, looking for a party, high on 12 hours of free beer and rock’n’roll, not knowing me or what eroplay is. At best The Cave can be physically challenging on my body. And with a rave crowd, the performance pushes me way beyond my "limits."

But it turned out to be one of the gentlest, softest, the most erotic/sexy Cave ever. The 30 people led blindfolded into The Cave by nude Linda over the three hours wanted child-like playing, exploring touch skin bodies, deep kissing, turn-on rubbing, holding rocking. Lee, Jack, Jack’s girlfriend, Take 5’s sexy guitarist and their shy lead singer, a member of Garden of Sirens (in the famous mini), and Jen … and even Bob who looks like a mute serial killer … all expanded this magical erotic trance. Afterwards, Lee said The Cave captured what the W.E.fest is all about. That means a lot to me! It turned out that the people who wanted a party stayed in the front room with the free keg … and Nadya giving back massages. People who wanted music sat in the middle room, listening to the incredible three-hour jazz improv by Jack and Bob … about which people were raving for days after! I emerged from The Cave, my back not even hurting!

So now we had two more days/nights of listening to bands which have made it impossible for me to listen to music on the t.v. or radio … like eating canned corn after eating farm-fresh organic corn! It was like a never-ending thanksgiving feast. By the last night, we spent most the time on the sidewalk with Nadya or at Mollye’s, saying goodbye to Jack, Jen, and Bob. We just were too musically stuffed to go inside the club! But among the bands we chowed down on those last two nights were Mooney Suzuki (a C.B.G.B./Ramones type whose showmanship hid that they were fucking great musicians), Raw Novembre (another Irish band which captures that country’s political rage … and their lead singer looks like he is approaching my age!), and Transistor 7 (a great bar trio whose guitarist Candy Kramer sang a mean "These Boots Were Made For Walking"!). Then we had to chose between seeing one of our favorite bands, It Could Be Nothing, at the last late night or getting a couple of hours of sleep before starting for California. We chose sleep! Sweet Jack showed up at our hotel just before we left at 7 a.m. to give us a going-away basket.

One of the great things about what I do is being plopped down in the middle of underground creative tribes/communities/cells/groups all over the country for extended times … under the excuse of doing performances. These groups are inspiring because what they are quietly doing has far-reaching and radical effects. This is especially true for the collective genius behind W.E.fest! I’m so lucky!

Now for the P.S. ... In writing this, I used the masterpiece of the W.E.fest’s web site, http://www.wefestival.com/ , which is the creation of Alex. It’s simply one of the best web sites I have seen!

And you W.E.fest bands, send your music to me so we can put it on Sounds From The Underground!

Frank Moore
P.O. Box 11445
Berkeley, CA 94712
fmoore@eroplay.com

Sunday, June 28, 1998



 

Listen to the Hot Blueberry Jam by Frank Moore's Cherotic All-Star Band in RealAudio!

Here are some of the tapes and CDs we picked up from bands that played at the W.E.fest. Listen in RealAudio!

Bob Fields

Garden of Sirens

Jackbeast

John the Baker

Land Speed Record

Mooney Suzuki

Smarty Pants

Kris, Jack, Uri

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