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The Voice of god, Lunch and Other Mysteries Explained | PJ Newman

Doing what I do is a 2-edged sword. Sometimes, the music (sic) is so bad I want to rip my ears from my head and feed them to Mifune so I cant get them back for a few hours until thoroughly digested. Where I have no real problem with people expressing themselves through music, I just wish they’d wait until they’ve had the chance to listen to it through somebody else’s ears, preferably someone who either isn’t related or interested in getting laid by said ‘artist.’

This being said, I’m happy to announce that the other side of the coin does exist and sometimes lands face up in your palm.

Case in point, I heard the voice of god last night. She sang to me, shook her hips at me and offered me some watermelon after the show. Her name is Juana Molina. She hails from Argentina. Dan, my boss at the Tractor, had been raving about her for months. Unfortunately, due to apparent scheduling conflicts, I was going to miss the show. Fortunately for scheduling conflicts, I was able to work the show.

Juana Molina is considered an Electronica artist. What’s that mean, anyway? She has a bunch of electronic effects and synthesizers onstage.

Big Deal. So do I. Does that make me Electronica or Consumera?

Armed with what looked like a late 60’s Martin 000-16 and 2 synthesizers (a Korg 01-W and a Karma) plus some other gadgets, she weaves a lush swirling tapestry of sonic lushness. Words left me, partly due to 5 beers and 2.5 pain killers (back flared up all day with no relief in sight). Sampling and looping her voice around guitar and keyboards, she sang songs in Spanish and French to me and me alone. Other people were there, but she sang to me alone.

It was a Beatles moment.

I also heard half of a turkey sandwich call to me. It was my leftover lunch and it was as delicious as Juana’s music.

2 nights earlier, I lucked out again by working with D’Gary, an incredible guitarist from Madagascar. I had worked with him a few times before at the Triple Door, but always had to run around and not catch his entire set. This time, stuck behind the console, I was rewarded with another hypnotic evening of magic. D’Gary was joined onstage by Mario, a singer and percussionist. The amount and quality of sound these 2 men generated was astounding.

You must check these 2 artists out.

Alas, no turkey sandwich Monday.

I’ve been doing this so long that I get jaded more often than not. It’s great to be brought back to Earth and remember just why I do this.

The day after the Korean offensive, I got to work with another of my musical heroes, Peter Himmelman. I cannot say enough about the brilliance of Peter, his music, lyrics and unique performances. I’ve been working Peter’s shows since the early 90’s at the Backstage. Solo or with a band, he is one of the most captivating musical forces I’ve been fortunate to witness. One highlight of this show was when some guy walks up to the side of the stage and hands Peter a note. This note turns out to be an autograph. His autograph! The guy turns out to be a Caldwell brother of Marshall Tucker band Fame. Of course, the 2 Caldwell brothers from the band died years ago, but the band still perform with a few of the original members. The story, this night, goes something like this’.

This Caldwell boy, Tim, was supposedly coerced by his parents to cash in on the Marshall Tucker band brand by having Tim, who has never sung before a crowd in his life, join the band. They are supposed to play a gig in Seattle in November or December. It’s May.


Tim is slightly drunk (kind of pregnant?) and decides to give Peter an autograph. Peter drags the poor kid onstage and tries to make him sing a Marshall Tucker song. The kid freezes. So Peter changes it to Ska, then Reggae and finally Klezmer. The kid’s eyes are bugging out of his skull and Peter keeps the heat on for a while before Tim flees from the stage. I do some research and discover that Tim is not nor has ever been in the lineup.


Days later, I’m back in Festival Mode. This time, I’m radio base for the Fremont Fair, the summer kick-off neighborhood party freak fest. Summer Solstice Parade run by amateurs, nude bicycle riders, freaks, battling dog owners and assorted food vendors. There are 4 stages running simultaneously along with buskers, pick pockets, fainting prescription drug abusing drunks and more naked people. It’s the usual cast of production folk, most of them leftover from the Korean debacle. Radio base consists mostly of sitting on my ass being verbally abused by any and everybody with a radio, cell phone or juice can and string. There’s a Kid’s stage boasting an act called planet of the Puppets. Everybody hates clowns and has no use for hippies, except for practicing negligent driving maneuvers. 14 plus hour days, the weather hasn’t made up what it wants to do yet and the food is catch as catch can. I was the grill master for dinner last night and I had someone’s over salted cat with noodles and cabbage for lunch today from a Vietnamese joint. My day consists mostly of saying ‘Go For Base’ and waiting until they quit squawking, repeat what they say and as soon as they realize that their answer was part of the question, hang up.
Only 3 days on this gig and then hopefully going camping next week. A book, a case of beer and a few steaks and I’ll be happy.

OK, I’m tired of tired people yelling at everybody else. 2 hours left today.