I should have known something was up when Spud was late for call time. It’s not that he’s never late. He’s usually late. It’s that he’s never called me from outside of the Forum in Inglewood needing to be picked up because he got on the wrong bus. I mean, dude has taken the same public transport to my house maybe 300 times, and somehow on this day he thinks he’s going to a Lakers’ game circa 1985. So I should have known something was up. I’m bad at taking a hint I guess, cause we pressed on, right up to the next obvious sign that we should turn the ship around and head back to Venice.
It was another call from Spud, this one came at around 2PM, the van had stopped dead in the middle of the 101 Freeway. All it’s electrical power was out, nothing was turning on. It was not awesome news.
Thirty minutes later, after multiple tow trucks had been deployed Spud decided to check under the hood and noticed some kind of chord was disconnected. He plugged it back in and through some sort of divine intervention the Van started right back up. I believe it was the universe’s way of telling us to turn back around, go home, stay away from East LA. Again, we did not listen.
Instead we rolled into the Echoplex parking lot and parked next to a grilled cheese truck. It wasn’t a prime location, because the grilled cheese truck got the front row and we got stuck in the back, and so people had to gather on the sidewalk to watch our shenanigans, rather then in the designated hangout area.
Yet, gather they did, and by around 4PM we had a pretty good happenin’ a happenin’ just in time for Olin and the Moon to saunter through our doors.
I dig Olin and the Moon. Have dug them ever since their 2009 release Terrible Town. So we’d been trying to film them for the better part of two years, however, bad luck and poor timing seemed to always get in our way. Now we finally got them, and the session proved worth the wait. I could tell right there that this would be one of those Jam in the Van recordings that I’m going to play over and over again. Really catchy, really easy on the ears, really lovely music.
We followed Olin and the Moon with performances by Criminal Hygiene and The Reflections. Criminal Hygiene hopped into Cuz’s Corner for a little interview with Spud. As is the case with most of his interviews, the band left thinking that they’d found a new best friend. He just has a way of fascinating people. He’s got so many stories and so much personality, people gravitate towards him. As a former Crip he knows lots of criminals, so he was curious to see what these harmless looking white boys were doing with a band name like Criminal Hygiene. Turns out they just really like pizza, fast food, and partying. Nothing criminal about that.
I didn’t really see many shows at Echo Park Rising that didn’t take place in the Jam Van. Why go to it when it comes to you right? Lord knows I didn’t have a clue about most of the bands on the line-up, so there wasn’t anything I “missed.” I did however take in Ivory Deville on a stage, and I again reiterate that you should check them out. They’ll be playing our very special Guitar Center event on September 7, and we expect great things from them.
I also caught The Henry Clay People’s final show ever. Like, forever, ever. The HCP have been doing their thing in Southern California for a lot of years. They made it just about as far as a band could make it without actually making it. They had some killer records, toured in support of some bigger acts, played a ton of shows and festivals, but in the end I guess they didn’t make enough cheddar to keep it together. Their final show at The Echoplex was a fitting send off. You could tell that the band was feeling pretty torn up inside about closing the ride down. If only you could bottle that emotion up and sell it to musicians so every show could feel like that. Alas, you can’t, and some things are only meant to last in one place at one time and never be repeated. So farewell Henry Clay People. You rocked, and I believe that’s what you set out to do.
The Reflections closed us down for the day, and everything on our end went grand. However, we had some issues with handing out free beer in the parking lot… Apparently we weren’t allowed to do that, which we didn’t know. To that, I’ll bite my tongue and only say people, please, please, please, talk to folks the way you would want to be talked to. The pretentious attitude that’s cultivated all too often in the music industry, and especially in East LA is somewhat sickening. Just because you work at a cool venue or with a cool band doesn’t give you the right to talk down to someone. It doesn’t give you the right to not wipe after you shit, because it all stinks. Just keep that in mind the next time you want to ask someone to do something. The words please and thank you are only a few letters, but they say a whole lot.
Sucky story short, I awoke on Sunday morning having to scramble to find a new location to film at. I was also totally clueless as to where Spud or my car were located. His phone was going straight to voicemail, and he had borrowed my car because I didn’t want him ending up in Inglewood again. So when it got to be 1PM and I still hadn’t heard from him I was pretty worried. I did what you usually do when your car and/or friend goes missing. I called the police. Literally as the officer on the other end of the line was saying “yes we did make contact with him at 2AM last night,” and my stomach was sinking into my shoes, Spud walks through my front door. Of course he had a story. He can’t make it to the 7-11 down the block without a story.
So as he told it, he got harassed outside of his home by the police in Upland, presumably for being black and driving a Sebring. They charged him with nothing, had no right to search anything, asked him a bunch of obnoxious questions, and to top it off, knocked his cell phone in a puddle and broke it. Hence me not hearing from him in the morning.
It’s obviously no surprise to anyone that in the year 2013 BS like that still exists in these United States of Whatever. It sucks, and it really sucks when it inconveniences your Sunday morning. I mean, I couldn’t really even eat my eggs because I was stressed out. A man should be able to eat his eggs.
PSA’s aside, we moved our traveling fun show to Bedrock Studios for day 2 of the event. Much thanks to Ben and Matt and the rest of the team over there for coming through with the location. They were happy to take all of our Lagunitas brews off of our hands. Even gave us some killer red beans and rice, jambalaya, and a pecan pie in return. As a reward for all of us we got to witness four killer sessions from Santoros, Eagle Rock Gospel Singers, NoBunny, and Jackson Tanner.
Santoros are some kick ass esses who play rad rock and roll. They gave us some killer t-shirts which is always appreciated. Eagle Rock Gospel Singers are fully authentic. Well, I don’t actually know if they are all from Eagle Rock, but they did pray before their set, and that counts as fully authentic gospel singers in my book. Jackson Tanner was a fully authentic good time. They play the type of hard paced country that tends to get some good spins on the radio on account of its ability to get your heals a clackin’.
While each of those bands were excellent in their own regard, I’d be remiss to say that I couldn’t pick a favorite moment for the weekend. It was one that I anticipated being incredibly awesome, and it ended up being way more than I could have ever expected. NoBunny, you are a gift to this world, and I’m almost certain that you don’t get enough thanks for it.
For those who don’t know, NoBunny is the alter ego of Justin Champlin, who in his non-rabbit form strikes as an average looking Jewish dude who likes to shower every other day. Give him five minutes to change into a leather jacket, tighty whities, and a lice infested bunny mask and you’re dealing with an entirely different animal. NoBunny fired through three fast paced punk numbers, including what I believe was an homage to Weird Al’s “Eat It.” While he’s known to pull out his junk on stage he did not do so during his Jam in the Van session. Our editors thank him for not making them suffer through blurring that out. He did however stick our clap-board down his underwear and rub said junk with it. So all bands that pass through the van from here out, you’re on notice, bring hand sanitizer. Jackson Tanner, sorry, the notice was not up in time for you dudes.
After his session NoBunny was interviewed in Cuz’s Corner by Spud. It will most likely go down as the most excellent interview in all of YouTube history. I won’t reveal anymore of it, other than to say, Spud really dug NoBunny’s message and his rock and roll spirit and NoBunny really dug Spud. There was a chest bump and far too much hugging to seal the deal.
After Jackson Tanner’s set we wrapped up our gear, gave away the last of our beer, and headed back towards the West Side of the City. When I laid down to rest that night, too exhausted to watch my Sunday night stories, I thought that all of the drama of the weekend was behind. I made it until about 10AM the following morning to find out that my assumptions were wrong when I got an email from Spud’s cousin telling me to call his phone to get in touch with Spud because he’d gotten in a fight with gang bangers who were tagging the van. No seriously, this is what I wake up to.
Check this out, so there were some dudes hanging outside of the gate at Bedrock Studios all day drinking our beers and hollering at women who passed by on the street. They definitely seemed dumb, but they didn’t seem like they were dangerous. We gave them about a case of beer on our way out so they could keep drinking. They thanked us by writing worthless gang graffiti on the van’s most excellent paint job. These skeeve balls put some bullschwa on Jerry’s head y’all. That in my book is reprehensible. Now, before you get all worked up and head out to Echo Park with pitchforks and clubs, know that Spud is ex-Special Forces. All’s well that ends well folks. Til next time. The Van rolls on…