Dikes of Holland, Beerland, SXSW 2013

2013 marks the loss of my last baby tooth. Pulled in early December, I’d like you to share the journey…

Place the mask on your face and breathe deeply through your nose. It’s time to reflect on another year in music.

Click HERE and join Yea-Ming Chen on her latest solo vision: When You Were Young. 2013 was a wild year for Yea-Ming. She married Greg Ashley and moved into the Ghost Town Gallery. They nearly moved to Austin, but thankfully we get to keep ’em. Her new sounds are soothingly dreamy. By December this year, her two-piece live act had expanded to a full band. Very auspicious. In 2013, I finally got my act together and purchased all the Dreamdate records. Learn from my mistakes! Let’s hope 2014 brings a record with Greg and Yea-Ming together, something in the vein of Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner!

This is the worst part: you will feel a little pinch and then some pressure…

At least that’s what Phil Spector musta been thinking when he kicked Leonard Cohen out of the recording studio during the making of Leonard’s Death of a Ladies Man. It may be Leonard’s least favorite record. It may be his fans’ least favorite record. BUT! This year Greg Ashley released his own version on vinyl for the first time. Buy it from Oakland’s best new record label Guitars & Bongos who helped make it all possible. Cassette freaks fear not, the parolees at Slop Bop are here to help.

Greg Ashley and Yea Ming, Octopus Literary Salon

Greg’s 2013 was wilder yet. He got hitched, yes, but he also joined up with John Brother’s Piano Company 5 on bass. They played the fucking Monterrey Jazz Festival this year! We were blessed to catch their all original Nawlins ragtime party music at Oakland’s new pinball pizza palace, Rico’s High Life!! They pop up regularly at Boot and Shoe Service and BART stations near you.

Talent clearly runs in the family. John Morgan’s sister Crosby is working on her debut. Support her great singer-songwriter stuff on Kickstarter now!

Despite enthusiastic tension, the tooth doesn’t want to come out. We will drill it in half and remove the 2 halves. You may hear some cracking sounds. We will turn up the gas a little…

Towards the end, 2013 felt like the year the music died. Lou Reed soothed and educated my adolescent brain more than anyone. Hopes of catching him in SF this year proved too good to be true. Fortunately he left behind a treasure trove of great records that continue to reveal themselves more with every listen. True fans have rushed to pay respects (fuck you Macaulay Culkin). Not surprisingly, the madmen at Burger Records did it best. Check out the entire White Light/White Heat tribute immediately.

The Mallard
The Mallard, 1-2-3-4 Go! Records in 2012, RIP

2013 also saw the devastating demise of The Mallard. Fortunately, guitar wizard Dylan Tidyman-Jones is back with Fronds. They play January 4th at The Hemlock.

The other big pinch this year is the loss of Will Sprott. Will is packing it up and moving to Seattle. It’s a huge loss for the Bay Area. He has been a fixture of the scene for many years beginning with The Mumlers and continuing with solo shows in just about every venue you can think of. Our chances to see him will be reduced but hopefully when he passes through we will be that much more appreciative of his immense talent. Send him off in style when he sings at The Chapel December 27th. And do check out his brand new record that should be available very soon — a lot of it was recorded with Greg Ashley!

Ty Segall moved to LA this year. This week John Dwyer announced he is headed there too. Maybe San Francisco is dying, like Detroit? What will we do without Thee Oh Sees?!

Your mouth will be numb for a few hours. Eat soft foods only and take Norco for pain.

useless eaters
Useless Eaters, Beerland, SXSW 2013

There were many dreamy live shows this year, but none quite so great as Useless Eaters at the Knockout. The band assembled in Nashville but hallelujah they moved here just a few months ago! Bandcamp says lead Eater Seth Sutton is only 22 years old. I hope that is true. I plan to see them many times. My treasured $4 Burger Cassette of C’est Bon! and Daily Commute still ranks as best music deal of the decade! Catch them at the Hemlock on January 24th.

Last December, I bitched and moaned about the untimely demise of Uzi Rash. This year we’ve been rewarded with an explosion of output from the wreckage of Uzi Rash. 2013 found Max Nordile with Human Waste, Wet Drag, The Trashies and the Trawggz (Troggs cover band). He also tirelessly churns out art, zines, and posters for every occasion.

2013 may be best remembered as the year of the Octopus. The Octopus Literary Salon was born in Oakland in July (check out video highlights at the following links). The first event included Will Sprott, Yea-Ming, The John Brothers and Greg Ashley. The Synchronicity salon in September brought chilling performances from Ghost Lore, Kyle Craft and Dyllan Hersey. In October they hosted The New Thoreaus at Chabot Space & Science. The final Octopus event of 2013 returns to Chabot TOMORROW, Saturday 12/21, with a blow-out solstice celebration featuring The Hot Toddies!

Old numb bastards will appreciate a shout out to the old dudes that are still doing it:

Tom Waits couldn’t have been better. His Bridge School show this year more than made up for the weather, the venue and the rest of the lineup.

The Meat Puppets delivered a fantastic, spine-tingling guitar fest at Bottom of the Hill. With Doug Sahm’s son on drums and Curt’s son on guitar, it was a festive family affair.

Tom Verlaine brought Television back to life at the Independent.

Total Trash Productions gave us The Sonics, The Flamin Groovies, The Sloths, The Legendary Stardust Cowboy and so much more. The Sloths return 1/15 to the Elbo Room with The Legendary Stardust Cowboy, and 1/16 to Forbidden Island in Alameda. The Flamin Groovies’ Roy Loney plays with his Phantom Movers at the Stork Club 1/18 (also with The Sloths).


Now as the dull jaw ache subsides, indulge in those last few Norcos, pop on Peter Walker’s 1970 masterwerk Has Anybody Seen Our Freedoms?, painstakingly unearthed and released for the first time by the brilliant Delmore Recording Society.

Jungle Bodies, Beerland, SXSW 2013

Only 81 shopping days until SXSW! Happy holidays.