Wednesday, November 13, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Music To Eat" (1971)

"Music To Eat" - Hampton Grease Band (1971)

The Hampton Grease Band's only album...“Music To Eat”...has reached a bit of cult status of sorts.  At one time, this album ranked as being the sorriest selling Columbia album ever...second only to a nobody yoga album.  That in and of itself is an oddly cool rep to possess.  This 88-minute double album is filled with quirky avant-garde rock.  There are plenty of silly and strange moments and at times the album has a bit of the Beefheart or Zappa vibe going-on.  But mixed in with all the weird cornucopia are some really good jamming sessions and psych dipping.  Much of it crank-worthy.  Yes, there is some eye-rolling weirdness, for sure, but overall my listening experience teeters to the side of ”just ride it.”  I don't love this album, but I like it enough to make room for it on my shelf.  “Music To Eat” was a hard one for me to find, probably because those that stumble on it, hold on to it.  There are enough interesting changes throughout these two squares...if you don't like what's happening, just wait a few minutes and get hit with a different stick.

"Music To Eat" (back)

"Music To Eat" (gatefold inside)

Columbia label

Columbia company sleeve

"Halifax" (first 10 min.) - Hampton Grease Band / "Music To Eat" (1971)

TRACKS:
A1  "Halifax" 19:36
B1  "Maria" 5:27
B2  "Six" 19:31
C1  "Evans"
       a. "Egyptian Beaver" 5:18
       b. "Evans" 12:30
C2  "Lawton" 7:48
D1  "Hey Old Lady and Bert's Song" 3:19
D2  "Hendon"
       a. "Spray Paint" 1:15
       b. "Major Bones" 2:05
       c. "Sewell Park" 5:18
       d. "Improvisation" 11:35

PERSONNEL:
Bruce Hampton (Col. Hampton B. Coles, Ret.) - vocals, trumpet
Glenn Phillips - guitar, saxophone
Jerry Fields (Bubba Phreon) - trombone, drums, percussion, vocals
Mike Holbrook - bass
Harold Kelling - guitar, vocals, composer, cover design

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Sunday, November 10, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."One Nation Underground" (1967)

"One Nation Underground" - Pearls Before Swine (1967)

“One Nation Underground” is filled with odd folk-psych melodies and a floaty moodiness that gives the listener a mind-loosening experience.  It's hard to explain but Tom Rapp is good at it.  Pearls Before Swine's debut is not completely covered in psych dust, but the album sounds clever and sometimes strange.  The opening track "Another Time" is a subtle example of Rapp on target.  There are a couple of heavier songs in the folk-psych mode.  "I Shall Not Care" is probably my favorite.  And the biting Vietnam jab, "Uncle John" is one of the better anti-war tracks I've heard.  The oddest track is the Dylanesque "Playmate" which is good but feels a little outta place.  I'm not sure what was the point.  I've since come to enjoy the Dylan take quite a bit.  Overall, "One Nation Underground" is a nice piece of folk psych that holds up pretty well.  Btw...Tom Rapp tries slipping in a bit of F-U-C-K in Morse code a few times on "(Oh Dear) Miss Morse."  The song was quickly pulled from the radio stations when complaints were made.  The idea was silly but kind of cool.

"One Nation Underground" (back)

ESP label

"I Shall Not Care" - Pearls Before Swine / "One Nation Underground" (1967)

TRACKS:
A1  "Another Time" 3:07
A2  "Playmate" 2:24
A3  "Ballad To An Amber Lady" 5:20
A4  "(Oh Dear) Miss Morse" 2:04
A5  "Drop Out!" 4:10
B1  "Morning Song" 4:11
B2  "Regions of May" 3:30
B3  "Uncle John" 3:00
B4  "I Shall Not Care" 5:26
B5  "The Surrealist Waltz" 3:28

PERSONNEL:
Tom Rapp - vocals, guitar
Wayne Harley - autoharp, banjo, mandolin, vibraphone, audio oscillator, harmony
Lane Lederer - bass, guitar, English horn, Swinehorn, Sarangi, celeste, finger cymbals, vocals (on "Surrealist Waltz")
Roger Crissinger - organ, harpsichord, clavioline
Warren Smith - drums, percussion

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

TCCDM Dig and Flip: "Hillbilly Elegy" (2016)

"Hillbilly Elegy" - J.D. Vance (2016)
257 pages

NO SPOILERS:
From his early years surviving in a dysfunctional family home surrounded by dysfunctional neighbors, author J.D. Vance gives a compelling story about his own personal and painful journey growing up in the deep Appalachian areas running through Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio.  Poverty and abuse was just the way it was.  Love was often shown with violence.  Violence and loyalty went hand-in-hand.  His mother was an addict bringing in one boyfriend after another into their home.  Sometimes hanging around for a few months.  Other times, only a few days.  His teenage years were a juggle of bad grades and bullies.  The Marine Corps was soon knocking. (A common escape for young men in a hopeless town.)  Finally, Vance made it into college.  And Ivy League school at that.

Stories like this one are not that unusual.  They happen.  But it's always a BIG surprise when they do.  It's like the rural Appalachian areas are trapped under an oppressive dome that's filled with nothing but take-a-way dream-snatchers.  And nothing is ever a quick fix.  A government program here.  A scholastic incentive there.  I'm generalizing, of course, but most times the help must first come from within.  And then from within the home.  "Hillbilly Elegy" is a great memoir filled with hard soap and plenty of love.  I'm glad I finally picked this one up.  A surprisingly wonderful read.

"Hillbilly Highway" - Steve Earle / "Guitar Town" (1986)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Monday, November 4, 2019

I Went...SI--SI--SIRIUS...All The Way Home (again)

(a short jaunt)


"Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" - "The Rolling Stones / "The Rolling Stones No. 2" (UK 1965)

This is the fantastic unedited UK album version.  On the US release, “The Rolling Stones Now!”...the song tapped out at a measly 3-min clip and it's not nearly as hot.  I used to ignore early Stones albums, dismissing them as merely albums with a hit single and filler.  But man, was I wrong.  The more I listen to that early British r&b Stones swag...the more I want to hear.  Give Keith Richards' “Life” biography a page-spin sometime.  It will really open your eyes.  This isn't throw away stuff.  This is the Stones loving what they do.

"Girl From The North Country" - Joni Mitchell & Johnny Cash / "Best Of The Johnny Cash TV Show: 1969-1971" (2007)

A young and gentle Joni Mitchell and the big man Johnny Cash.  The juxtaposition of these two artists knock this song right out of the park.  Joni's voice, for sure, is golden, but it's John's hard, yet vulnerable, vocals that sells it all for me.  One of the best covers from a very small few I like.

"Back-Door Angels" - Jethro Tull / "War Child" (1974)

"In and out of the back-door, ran one front-door angel.
Her hair was a golden-brown.
She smiled and I think she winked...her...."

Probably my favorite deep track from this album.  It has the great and under-appreciated Martin Barre throwing down cool guitar burns.  Choice Ian Anderson lyrics with just the right flute attention that I like.  “Warchild” was a little bit under the high-bar from what came before it...meaning I just didn't enjoy it right away.  But the album is a grower with several gems to be discovered.  I find this album in bins everywhere and for very little jingle.  Certainly worth revisiting. 

"WILMA,  I'M HOME!"

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Thursday, October 31, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."In Search Of Space" (1971)

"In Search Of Space" - Hawkwind (1971)

If you've been curious about what the heck space rock is all about, pick up this bad-puppy.  This was Hawkwind's 2nd album...and it's goooooood!  It's very ethereal.  Heavy at times with tasty psych and prog shenanigans going on.  It rocks and jams and it gets a little trancy.  Everything adds up to a free ride without leaving the couch.

The opener "You Shouldn't Do That" is a fantastic 16-min ‘how do you do.”  I loved this and grabbed my headphones the second time around.  ”Master of the Universe” is another gem, more rocking but without losing the spacey-psych flavor.  This is one I might have heard on The Psychedelic Experience.  Somewhere anyway.  ”Adjust Me” is a goodly strange, experimental spin.  But really this album is good from needle drop to label.  I've heard others say this isn’t even considered their best album.  What!?  Methinks I have some more exploring to do.

This Hawkwind album cover is a gimmix die-cut with interlocking sides that fold out.  It's pretty clever, but a major pain getting to your record.  It's the kind of cover design you'll want to be very patient with when taking your record out.  I decided to just keep it in a sleeve in front of the back cover for easier access.  (That's what she said!).  Either way, your head is gone before you can grab your hat.

"In Search Of Space" (back)

"In Search Of Space" (gimmix inside)

"In Search Of Space" (inside unfolded)

United Artists Records label

"Master Of The Universe” - Hawkwind / "In Search Of Space" (1971)

TRACKS:
A1  "You Shouldn't Do That" 16:15
A2  "You Know You're Only Dreaming" 6:47
B1  "Master of the Universe" 6:35
B2  "We Took the Wrong Step Years Ago" 4:56
B3  "Adjust Me" 5:58
B4  "Children of the Sun" 4:08

PERSONNEL:
Dave Brock - vocals, electric guitar, 6 & 12 string acoustic guitars, harmonica, audio generator
Nik Turner - alto saxophone, flute, vocals, audio generator
Del Dettmar - synthesizer
Dik Mik (Michael Davies) - audio generator
Dave Anderson - bass, electric & acoustic guitars
Terry Ollis - drums, percussion

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Monday, October 28, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."One" (1974)

"One" - Bob James (1974 - Rei 1981)

Of the many Bob James albums floating around, ”One” is the album I had been searching for.  This is the album with a bit of mystery and a touch of spooky.  And it's these elements that I really enjoyed.  Of the six tracks claiming real estate, I dare say that three are very nearly killer.  Surprising at the very least.  The other three songs are, as you might expect, in the familiar smooth jazz vein Bob James loved to tap.  They are fine, too, but pale in comparison.  If you pass on Bob James because of the homogenized smooth jazz reputation, his debut...”One”...is the square you'll want to grab.  It's a welcome surprise.  Here, James rubs shoulders with a bit of “Gris-Gris” eeriness.  There are some spooky and unexpected moments.  And, of course, the rather famous funk-it-out..."Nautilus"...has been hip-hop sampled more times than ice cream at a Baskin Robbins.

Try as I may, I could never find his original debut.  Always plenty of the later stuff.  I scored my copy at a last year Hutch Swapmeet.  The dealer knocked off a buck allowing $4 to carry it home.  As I said, it's not the original, but I was hungry that afternoon and just grabbed it.  (I know I'll find an original gatefold copy.  They're certainly not rare.)  Plus, “One “ can be had for small-coinage, and the reward far out-ways the risk.  My Bob James interview.

"One" (back)

Tappan Zee - Columbia label

"Valley of the Shadows" - Bob James / "One" (1974)

TRACKS:
A1  "Valley of the Shadows" 9:42
A2  "In the Garden" 3:06
A3  "Soulero" 3:22
B1  "Night on Bald Mountain" 5:51
B2  "Feel Like Making Love" 6:40
B3  "Nautilus" 5:08

PERSONNEL:
Bob James – keyboards
Wayne Andre – trombone
Paul Faulise – bass trombone
Jack Gale – bass trombone
Alan Raph – bass trombone
Victor Paz – trumpet
Alan Rubin – trumpet
Lew Soloff – trumpet
Marvin Stamm – trumpet
Randy Brecker – horn
Jon Faddis – flugelhorn
Thad Jones – flugelhorn
George Marge – alto flute, recorder
Romeo Penque – alto flute, recorder
Grover Washington Jr. – saxophone
Hugh McCracken – harmonica
David Friedman – vibraphone
Richie Resnicoff – guitar
Eric Weissberg – guitar
Gary King – double bass
Steve Gadd – drums
Ralph MacDonald – percussion
Idris Muhammad – drums
Violin – Max Ellen, Paul Gershman, Emanuel Green, Harold Kohon, Charles Libove, Harry Lookofsky, Joseph Malin, David Nadien, Gene Orloff
Cello – Seymour Barab, Jesse Levy, Charles McCracken, George Ricci, Alan Shulman, Anthony Sophos

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Saturday, October 26, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Gun" (1968)

"Gun" - Gun (1968)

I like this album a lot.  "Gun" is filled with great guitar riffs and fuzz.  And rocks with ideas more interesting than most.  There is some psych toast throughout and proto-prog moments.  Hell, this is one of those albums that crack the egg for proto-metal, as well.  And surely must have influenced later bands to come.  Plus, the vocals are really good.

Gun was a power trio from the UK who recorded two albums, this being considered their best.  Two of the members, the Gurvitz brothers, would later go on to form the Baker Gurvitz Army with drum punisher and legend,  Ginger Baker. (rip)  “Race With The Devil” is the band's signature song that opens this album and it tears the horsehide right off the baseball. (My 2019 World Series reference.)  But “Yellow Cab Man” is the lost gem and it wails like a banshee, as well.  It may be my favorite track on here.  Both are fantastic.  And then there's the 11-minute closing track “Take Off.”  It's a little space rock and psych rock and it blisters paint a wee bit.  Setting the table is a spoken word countdown introduction to the song.  How can you not love this stuff?

My copy was scarfed off eBay.  $20 shipped.  I'd seen The Psychedelic Experience and The Hog's Ear Report, as well as others, show their Gun album with relish, but I could just never find one loose in the wild, record shop or otherwise.  So I had to go fishing.  This is probably common knowledge, but this was the first album cover design credited to Roger Dean.  That's pretty cool, I think.  Especially with the number of albums Roger Dean went on to design.  And for me, I enjoy it when Dean deviates from his recognizable “Yes” art style.  I'm kind of burned out on that noise.

"Gun" (back)

Epic label

"Yellow Cab Man" - Gun / "Gun" (1968)


TRACKS:
A1  "Race With the Devil" 3:35
A2  "The Sad Saga of the Boy and the Bee" 4:49
A3  "Rupert's Travels" 2:12
A4  "Yellow Cab Man" 4:15
A5  "It Won't Be Long (Heartbeat)" 4:26
B1  "Sunshine" 4:25
B2  "Rat Race" 3:55
B3  "Take Off" 11:01

PERSONNEL:
Paul Curtis (Gurvitz) - bass, vocals
Louie Farrell - drums
Adrian Curtis (Gurvitz) - guitar, vocals

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
Follow Me On FACEBOOK

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Interview -- Lance Kerwin (Actor)



"...when you've got Robert Mitchum telling you a story with eye contact,
ya don't just get up and walk away."
~ Lance Kerwin ~





Lance Kerwin was doing movies in the 80s and 90s, but it was the 70s that was his 'Golden Buzzer."  Great made-for-TV movies like Stephen King's “Salem's Lot” and Michael Landon's heartbreaking “The Loneliest Runner” were both perfect vehicles for Lance's unusually sensitive awareness.  The camera loved Lance Kerwin.  And it was always cool seeing him appear in various TV shows and Afterschool Specials.  He was young, smart and could pull off sincerity and empathy like nobody's business.  Plus, he had the look.  He could play funny when necessary, but television wanted him for the drama.  The emotion.  And no role is more fondly remembered than his portrayal of James in the iconic TV series..."James At 15." (1977-78)

“James At 15” was a quiet show about a nice ordinary school-aged goof.  Just an average kid with average friends trying to deal with their problems.  Large and small.  Sometimes tackling sensitive subjects like pregnancy, cults, virginity, alcoholism, and STDs.  Topics like these might not seem so daring today, but in the 70s, quite a few parents were freaking out.  Lance Kerwin was just a  confused 15-year-old...playing a confused 15-year-old.  Think about that a moment.  This wasn't the heaviest show on television, but it wasn't your typical light-weight fare either.  It walked a little closer to teenage reality and was far more grounded.  Not always with happy endings.  So yeah...for many young people of the 70s...and watchers of reruns, like myself...Lance Kerwin left a mark.  Go get you some.

Lance Kerwin Interview  --  October 2019
Lance Kerwin

Casey Chambers:  Well, you've been involved in a lot of different projects, so I'm just going to cherry-pick a few.  It's the 40th anniversary of one of the scariest TV movies ever made.  The Stephen King vampire mini-series..."Salem's Lot." (1979)  What a great vampire flick that is.  And you were smack-dab in the middle of it.

Lance Kerwin:  40 years.  Is it really?  Wow!

Casey Chambers:  Had you the opportunity to read the novel at the time that you landed the role?

Lance Kerwin:  Sure did, yeah. One of the first things I learned when I was studying acting was not to try to imagine how you're going to do a line or how you're going to stand, or even work on your character.  The first thing you want to do is get to know the story.  You get to know the story and then you get to know where your character falls into it.  So I was reading the book and the script and I was having nightmares. (laughs)  "Salem's Lot" was scary.  We met Stephen King and the guy who wrote the screenplay.  Most of the horror shows at that time were really playing on the red herrings. The scary stuff where ya walk in, turn around and bump into something.  And not so much the suspense.  That foreboding feeling of what's going to happen next type of stuff.  So it was really a different approach to horror films from what was prevailing at that time.  And it was high budget too for television.


Tobe Hooper had also directed "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" (1974) and was on a whole different level than most directors I had worked with.  His mind worked really quick.  He would say, 'You know what I want in this scene?  I want'em to be, I want'em to be, I want'em to be,'  Talking really fast.  And I tried to guess what he was saying.  'Uh, Scared!'  He said, 'Yeah, yeah, you're scared.  But, also, what I'm looking for is a feeling of, a feeling of...'  I'd guess, 'Fear!'  He'd be like, 'Oh, yes that too.'   And I was telling my parents, 'How do I get going as fast as him to try to guess what it is he's thinking?' And my parents were like, 'Well, why don't you just shut up and then he'll tell you what he's thinking.' (laughs)  He was really something to work with.

One scene that was pretty interesting was the bedroom scene when the vampire boy, I think it was Danny Glick, comes to the window saying, 'Let me in. Let me in.'  For that entire scene, the film was running backward in the camera.  We started at the end and walked backward all the way to the beginning where I'm in bed and I open my eyes.  That's the reason it seems like there's something different...something weird about it.  The smoke is flowing differently because of the way that scene was shot.

Casey Chambers:  Always one of my favorite scenes from the movie.  Some scary shit right there.

Window Scene - "Salem's Lot" (1979)

Lance Kerwin:  Yeah, it was very cool.  "Salem's Lot" was also the first show I was a part of where they weren't in a rush to get it done.  In television, you're on a tight schedule.  Time is money.  If you get the scene close enough, they're like, 'Good enough.  Let's move on.  Check the gate.  Cut print.  Let's move on.  Let's get to the next scene.'   But with "Salem's Lot," they were like, 'Hmm, do you think we could do it better?  Could we do it differently?  Do you have any ideas?  Let's try it again.'

Casey Chambers:  You have more of an opportunity to step back and think about what you're doing.

Lance Kerwin:  Well, certainly.  As an actor, you like it because you can...you can risk a little bit more.  You can try this.  You can try that.  And Tobe Hooper, he encouraged thinking outside the box. One of the reasons they liked me for the role was that when I came in, I had ideas.  I didn't really have to audition, but I would come in and meet with them.  And we'd talk about the character and talk about the film.  And I had, you know, opinions.  When we originally shot it, we did two versions,.  We did the mini-series, but at the same time, we shot a feature film version.  It was a little more graphic and it was like R rated and of course too much for regular TV.  But in Europe, it was pretty big as a feature film.  It was the highest-grossing film in Paris in...I think it was '81 or '80.  So yeah, it's been 40 years.

Casey Chambers:  The movie's a lot of fun.  I just picked up another copy of "Salem's Lot."  This time on Blu-Ray and it looks better than ever.

Lance Kerwin:  Oh, did you?  Which version?  How long is it?

Casey Chambers:  It's the full-length version.  It's over three hours.  And this Halloween is gonna be the perfect time to give that film another taste.


Lance Kerwin:  Yeah, that's cool.  Oh, you know that house?  The exterior of that house...

Casey Chambers:  The creepy old Marsten house.  Sure.

Lance Kerwin:  Yeah, right.  The exterior of that house...we filmed in Ferndale, California...it was put up all in one night.  It's a facade built around a little shed or something there on the corner of that hill. (laughs)  So that first morning when we showed up like at 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning to begin our production, they had just finished the house that night.  Aged it all down and made it look like it had been there forever.  And I remember this guy stopping his car and getting out and looking at it and kind of scratching his head.  Looked like maybe he was just getting home from the bar or something.  I was like, 'What's up?'  And he said, 'I've lived here 20 years.  I just don't remember that place.  What is going on?' (laughs)  And in the interior of that set were pieces of sets from other horror film houses throughout the years.  They got the walls from the "Psycho" house. They got stairs from "The Maltese Falcon."  It was all bits and pieces of old sets.

Casey Chambers:  That's one of the things I like about Hollywood.  Old sets never die...they just show up in another movie.  And it's fun when you catch it. (laughs)

Lance Kerwin:  Yeah, man.  And Tobe Hooper...he also did trippy stuff that nobody knew about.  Like painting resin on the back of the wall and letting it ooze through so that the walls kind of looked like they were moving.  There were a lot of subtle, subtle things that cost them a lot of money that most people wouldn't have messed with.  But they went that extra length.  What a trip!  I think I still have some pieces of the set.  You always try to save a little something.

Casey Chambers:  How could you not take a piece of memory like that with you?  I'm totally jealous! (laughs)  I grew up watching reruns of "James At 15" when I was just a little younger than James...The show often tackled sensitive subjects as witnessed through a young teenage boy's life.  And it pushed the boundaries of what was fair game in 70s primetime.  And it was quiet in the telling.  The show really meant a lot to me.  How did "James At 15" happen for you?

Lance Kerwin:  Let's see.  So, the writer...Dan Wakefield...wrote this coming of age screenplay and I think they had just seen "The Loneliest Runner." (1976)  A TV movie I did for Michael Landon.  And I went in and met with them.  The story is that there were hundreds of kids auditioning for it, but I learned later that I was the only one they really wanted for the role.  What was cool about it was James was really the only real teenager on TV at that time.  You had "Welcome Back, Kotter" which was all adults portraying teenagers.  You had "Happy Days" which...all of those guys were 18 to 25. John Travolta and Ron Howard.  They were all adults portraying teenagers.  But James...now I was 15 or 16.  So I was really portraying a character who was more, ya know, real.

"James At 15" - Opening (1977)

James was a good photographer and he had certain qualities, but he also had that Walter Mitty thing going on where he'd fantasize about being Mr. Wonderful and then he'd come back to reality stumbling all over himself. (laughs)  So I could relate to him.  A lot of the roles I played were things I had gone through in life. "The Loneliest Runner"...about a kid who wet the bed.  I had wet the bed. "Children Of Divorce." (1980)  Another movie of the week.  My parents had been divorced. The alcoholic one with Scott Baio called, "The Boy Who Drank Too Much." (1980)  The only difference in that one was Scott Baio played the alcoholic and I played the good kid whose life was all affected by his friend's drinking problem.  And it's funny because Scott had never had a drink. (laughs)  Scott was the good kid and I, at that age, was a major pothead.   But I played the good kid, so that was a little switch. (laughs)  I remember one time telling Scott, 'Hey, in the scene where you're drunk, you should probably like...take a swig of some booze or something so you can get a little buzz and see what it's like.'  His parents were telling the producers, 'Could you keep Lance away from Scott?  He's being a bad influence.' (laughs)  I learned later on that it was easier to act drunk than for a drunk to act, right?  But I loved that there were some parts of my life in these shows that I could relate to.

Casey Chambers:  Many of us have been right there with ya, no doubt.  Are there any episodes of "James At 15" that stand out for you?

Lance Kerwin:  Well, I loved it when James finally lost his virginity, right? ("The Gift" - 1978)  And then the first episode after he lost his virginity.  He was feeling guilt and fear and flipping out 'cause he thought he had contracted an STD.  That was so fun. ("Listless Fever" - 1978)  There was an episode where I'm getting to be with Wolfman Jack and he's giving me an Academy Award or a Tony. An Emmy. Something like that.  I'm getting to drive Porsches.  I got to work with a deaf kid who was an actor in one of the episodes.  And I got to spend some time with him and learned sign language.  I always liked photography, but photography is expensive, right?  Well, when we were filming the show, my parents are like, 'Why don't you call Nikon and see if they want James to use a Nikon in the show?'  So I called Nikon and said, 'Hey, I'm doing this show where the character's a photographer.  Would you like him to use a Nikon?'  They said, 'Yeah.'  So I said, 'Well I'm going to need some equipment for the show and then I probably need some equipment for myself too...so I can learn how to do it myself.'  And they're like, 'Make a list of what you want.'  So we wrote up a list of all these different cameras and lenses and power packs and filters.  And we figured they'll say no to some and yes to some.  But they gave us everything.

"James At 16" - Opening (1978)

So I had all this wonderful Nikon equipment. 20th Century Fox would give me the film.  NBC would develop it for me.  So I took thousands and thousands of pictures throughout the time I was working on "James At 15."  Even when I'd go to like..."Battle Of The Network Stars" I would take pictures.  So I was taking pictures of Cheryl Tiegs and Cindy Crawford and Victoria Principal and I loved doing that.  But specific episodes...the memories all kind of blend together.

Casey Chambers:  I've got to go and get myself a good camera. (laughs)  As a young actor of the 70s, you had the opportunity to work with a lot of heavy legends of Hollywood.

Lance Kerwin:  I had a great opportunity as a kid to work with a lot of old-timers.  I got to work with Charles Bronson and Lee Marvin.  And my very first TV series was with Glenn Ford.  And Michael Landon certainly was up in that category of people you'd want to work with.  James Mason was interesting.  He had a real sense of humor and he would tell jokes, but everybody was so in awe of him, they'd be afraid to laugh. (laughs)  They'd be like, 'Did James Mason just tell a joke?' These guys were professionals, but they were real people.

I did a show with Robert Mitchum.  It was called, "A Killer In The Family." (1983)  Eric Stoltz and James Spader were both in it, too.  And those guys were all pros.  I remember one time Robert Mitchum telling me a story about...I don't know...some gal he had got with in the '50s, and he's telling me this story and they're like, 'Mr. Mitchum, we're ready for you on the set.  Come on, Lance, we're ready for you on the set.'  But when you've got Robert Mitchum telling you a story with eye contact, ya don't just get up and walk away.  And he would keep telling his story and then they'd say, 'Mr. Mitchum, the camera's rolling.'  And he'd go on with his story and then they'd say, 'Mr. Mitchum, ready for action.'  And he'd kinda go like...' Okay, hang on a second.' And he'd walk over and stand on his mark and say his lines, and then he came back and finished his story. (laughs)  Like...the story was more important than doing the scene.  'Mr. Mitchum, did you want to do it again?' And he'd say, 'I didn't want to do it the first time.' (laughs)  He was not one of those actors who's...' What's my motivation?'  He'd just stand up, say his lines and go.  And by the way, he had his lines all memorized.  Probably for the whole show when we started.  Working with Mitchum was super cool.  He liked me.  We'd sit and tell stories.

"A Killer In The Family" - Trailer (1983)

The film was based on a true story about some kids in the late '70s who broke their father out of prison at Florence State Penitentiary because they thought he was innocent.  They were the Tison family.  The kids were on death row in Arizona when we shot the film.  And we went to the prison to meet them.  We were trying to project them as total victims in the film.  Turns out they maybe weren't quite as innocent as we thought.  The prison let them watch the film.  And we asked them if they liked it.  They were like, 'Oh yeah, but we got one question.  One thing really bothers us...'Where'd y'all get them hats?' (laughs)  I don't think I'd ever done a story like that where you got to meet the actual people you were portraying.

Casey Chambers:  That's a creepy little 'meet and greet!'

Lance Kerwin:  Yeah, it was weird. (laughs)

James Spader and Lance Kerwin

Casey Chambers:  You mentioned your first TV series was with Glenn Ford.  The "Blackboard Jungle" cat.  Not too shab.

Lance Kerwin:  Working with Glenn Ford on "The Family Holvak" was a great experience.  Glenn was super professional and he expected the same from even the child actors on the set.  He gave you everything as if you were an adult.  If it was your close up, he gave his best performance when he was off-camera.  And he expected you to do the same.  I remember getting slapped by him one time because I got distracted watching somebody.  I was off-camera.  It was his close up.  I think the script supervisor and makeup girl were playing footsies or something.  And I got distracted and missed my cue to give him a cue and he whacked me.  He said, 'Listen, I'm there for you.  I expect you to be there for me.  Be professional.  Pay attention.'   I wanted to be a professional actor.  And I was fortunate to be able to work with people who expected that and helped teach me that.  For a kid in the 70s who loved TV and loved movies, I had the awesome opportunity to work with all the stars.

Casey Chambers:  Let me jump to "Enemy Mine." (1985)  I know this was a smaller role, but I always enjoyed that little sci-fi movie.  And it was cool seeing you in it.  What was that experience like for you?

Lance Kerwin:  It was Wolfgang Petersen who was the director and he had done "Das Boot" and "The Neverending Story."  And I don't know if you're familiar with Wolfgang Petersen.

Casey Chambers:  He did "Air Force One" too, didn't he?

Lance Kerwin:  Yeah, and he also did "The Perfect Storm."  He's quite a director.  And I wanted to work with him.  I had been in Germany and Austria working on another film called "The Mysterious Stranger." (1982)  It was a Mark Twain story and we filmed it in a castle in Austria.  It was with Christopher Makepeace.  Interesting fact.  There was a kid working on the film with us.  It was the first time he'd ever done anything.  He could barely speak English.  His name was Christoph Waltz.  Well, he went on to win an Academy Award.  I think he was in "Inglourious Basterds" (2009)

Anyway, while I was working on that film, I met a girl there.  I'd visit her in Germany.  She'd visit me in California.  And she had called and said, 'Hey, you know, they're making this film here.  It's a 20th Century Fox film and there's a couple of parts that maybe you could play.'  So I called my agent and my agent was like, 'Nope, don't want to mess with it.  They're just hiring people from Germany.  They've switched directors and they've switched actors and it's been a year that they've been working on it.  They're not gonna want to pay.  They're just not gonna hire.'  When I said that there was a girl I was seeing in Germany who I could stay with while I worked on the film...my agent still told me, 'Nope, don't want to do it.  If you wanna do it, you can do it yourself.  I don't want to be a part of it.'   So I contacted the director myself and sent him a clip of a couple of my shows and said, 'I would be living in Germany at that time.  Would he consider hiring me as a local actor?' And to my surprise, they called and said, 'Yeah, come on.'   So I got the part as a German local, not as a U.S. actor.

Lance Kerwin and Dennis Quaid - "Enemy Mine" (1985)

When we filmed it, there were a lot of flashbacks throughout the entire film of Dennis Quaid and me.  A lot of backstory.  Why the humans hated the Dracs.  But the way it ended up, it was just the death scene for me pretty much, right? (laughs)  If you're getting popcorn, you missed me. (laughs)  'Tell my girl I love her.' 'Don't worry, I'll get that Drac.' (laughs)  And then he dies.  But I was in Germany for probably eight or nine months filming that movie and went back several times to film it. And working with Wolfgang Petersen was incredible.  Except he wanted me to die quicker.  He was like,  'Die already, Lance, die.  You keep coming back with one more thing.  How long you gonna drag this out?'  Interestingly enough, I did another show for him in '94 called, "Outbreak" with Dustin Hoffman and Morgan Freeman.  It was the exact same part.  I'm the first one to die.  Once again, if you're getting popcorn...(laughs)  'Tell my girl I love her.'  And then I die.' (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  No more popcorn, I'm stuffed! (laughs)

Lance Kerwin:  (laughs)  But it was so cool, man...being in Germany.  I got to drive on the Autobahn where you can drive as fast as you want.  I asked the producers if I could borrow a car for the weekend and to my surprise, they said, 'Yeah.'   And I was thinking, 'Wow, what are they gonna give me? A Porsche?  BMW?  A Mercedes?  I don't know.'   So I went and I got myself the gloves and the goggles and I was imagining myself going a hundred miles an hour on the Autobahn.  Friday when I got the keys, they gave me a VW Bus. (laughs)  But they did let me borrow a car and I loved being in Germany.  But I'm pretty much a television actor, Casey. I've done about 130 shows.  It was pretty much episodic Movies of the WeekAfterschool Specials.  So any chance I had to work on a feature film, I liked it because the focus was on doing it well as opposed to doing it fast.  And because this one was filmed in Europe, you don't have to pay taxes on a certain portion of it.  And the residuals have been so good from "Enemy Mine."  Gosh, I ended up making a lot of money on that film over the years.  So yeah, that was a super cool experience.

Casey Chambers:  What kind of music did you listen to growing up?

Lance Kerwin:  Music has always been a big part of my life.  My brothers and my parents were all musicians.  And my hero...one of my older brothers...my late brother...he played the harmonica.  He was listening to Little WalterJunior WellsMagic SamB.B. KingAlbert King.  And in the '60s, he left Newport Beach, loaded up his car and drove to Chicago and ended up living with Little Walter and learning to play the blues.  When he came back to California, I would always go to his concerts.  My other brother played guitar.  My stepdad played music.  Everybody played music.  I took up flute and piccolo in school and I ended up playing that on "James..." and a couple of other shows.  But my stepdad didn't like rock and roll or blues.  So as a kid, I was only able to listen to jazz and standards unless it was the blues my brother was playing.  I've always had a special place in my heart for blues. And now that I live in Hawaii, I like listening to contemporary Hawaiian.

"Walter's Blues" (live) - Little Walter, Hound Dog Taylor, Odie Payne (Feb. 1968)

Casey Chambers:  You mentioned that you played the flute in a few shows.  I bet you didn't see that coming!

Lance Kerwin:  There were several times I got to play instruments in a show.  But I also learned early on not to pretend to know something you don't.  We were doing an episode of "Wonder Woman" and Roy Rogers was playing my dad.  It was about some kids on a ranch and whatever.  And when I went to the audition, they were asking everyone, 'Do you know how to ride a horse?'  And most all the kids would lie and say, 'Oh yeah, I know how to ride a horse. I know how to ride a horse.'  But my stepdad told me, you know, you tell him, 'Nope.  I don't, but I'm teachable.' (laughs)  Right?  Now I had ridden a horse, 'cause we were from the country.  But I didn't pretend to be better than I was.  So, because I was that humble, they introduced me to the wranglers who showed me how.  How to get on the horse.  Which side to get on.  How to sit in the saddle.  How to keep my heels down.  And they gave me the best horse.  All these other kids who said they knew how to ride one, they put them on a horse and the horse is bucking them off and they just looked like idiots. (laughs)  Early on, I learned to say...' I don't know how, but I'm teachable.'

One of the neat things about being an actor is that you get to learn all these different things and be people that you weren't. (laughs)   I got to do a part where my character was a prodigy guitar player.  So they brought in Earl Klugh to teach me the song.  And I got to play the harmonica.  I got to play flute.  The cello.  The piano.  And I got to be with some really, really incredible musicians that would teach me.  And I still know the songs today.  I still remember some of my dialogue.  Poems that I had to read.   Whether it was music or shooting guns or playing a sport, it was no different.  When we did that show..."The Boy Who Drank Too Much," it was hockey.  Scott Baio and I had to learn how to ice skate for the show and they had us training with the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team.

Casey Chambers:  That's a wicked cool trump card to have in your backpack.  Me, I think I took lessons from Large Marge, the truck driver.  The  U.S. Olympic Team is much cooler. (laughs)

Lance Kerwin:  Right? (laughs)  My experience as a child actor was a positive one.  My education was better.  The traveling.  The work ethic I learned.  The exposure to different cultures.  It was a wonderful, wonderful childhood.  And it was a great career.  Probably 20...25 years of doing it.  And the shows I was a part of and the people I worked with...I carry it to this day.  Raising five kids, ya know, my life's on a different trip now.  And in fact, just yesterday my wife and I celebrated our anniversary of 19 years.  But I have a fan base that's super, super loyal.  People that were affected by the shows or liked them, or just appreciated me.  That's a whole aspect of it I never counted on.  I wanted to act.  But there was a whole other blessing that came with it.  That's pretty cool.

Casey Chambers:  Absolutely.  And count me being one of them.  I want to thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me.  It's been a real pleasure.

Lance Kerwin:   Thanks, I appreciate that.  It was a great time in my life.  And I enjoyed reflecting on it.  So thanks very much.

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Sunday, October 20, 2019

TCCDM Dig and Flip: "The Girl On The Train" (2015)

"The Girl On The Train" - Paula Hawkins (2015)
323 pages

NO SPOILERS:
The story is told through the eyes of three women.  But mostly, this is Rachel..." the girl on the train's"...story to tell.  Rachel is a really messed up piece of work.  Recently divorced, depressed and a bit delusional about life in general.  Plus she's struggling with a pretty good drinking problem.  She rides the train every day fantasizing about this and that when she sees something a bit unusual while passing by a house she has passed hundreds of times before.  And decides to get involved.

It's a fustercluck of strange choices she makes on her attempts to find closure, but putting all that aside, the mystery/thriller is fascinating and a lot of fun.  Paula Hawkins, with her best-selling debut novel, does an especially fine job showing Rachel's struggle with alcohol,  It really rings true.  Unfortunately, the payout at the end was a bit of a lowball and could have used a few more pitches.  It just felt rushed.  Nonetheless,  this was a quick, entertaining read and I'm glad I did.

"Long Train Runnin'" - The Doobie Brothers / "The Captain and Me" (1973)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Friday, October 18, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Elephant Mountain" (1969)

"Elephant Mountain" - The Youngbloods (1969)

The Youngbloods were a three-man band at this point.  The album is all very folk-rockish with a light shadow of floaty jazz passing by.  This album steps out of the comfort zone of what Youngblood fans might expect.  There is a kind of "get on board or just don't hang around” attitude about it.  Musicians are taking risks.  Eclectic ideas are dared.  It's a nice chill for the recliner.  I don't know much about The Youngbloods apart from their hippie anthem, "Get Together" and there ain't any of that happening here.  I was never a fan of that particular song anyway, so no foul.  Apart from the great opening track...“Darkness Darkness” (starts slow and rolls to a rush.)...there is a variety of floaty psych ideas slithering throughout the music, as well.  Often creating surprising vibes in the process.  "Sham" is another one bringing the stuff.  Plus there are two instrumentals.  Nothing memorable, but very enjoyable.  And the tight musicianship keeps everything from sounding like filler.  This isn't a must-own album by any means, but “Elephant Mountain” is pretty good and can be found easily in the wild dancing near the $5 mark.  Often less.  And for that price, the album is worth taking a flier.  Go get you some.

"Elephant Mountain" (back)

RCA Victor label

"Darkness, Darkness" - The Youngbloods / "Elephant Mountain" (1969)

TRACKS:
A1  "Darkness, Darkness" 3:48
A2  "Smug" 2:13
A3  "On Sir Francis Drake" 6:18
A4  "Sunlight" 3:07
A5  "Double Sunlight" 0:38
A6  "Beautiful" 3:42
A7  "Turn It Over" 0:12
B1  "Rain Song" 3:12
B2  "Trillium" 3:11
B3  "Quicksand" 2:40
B4  "Black Mountain Breakdown" 0:40
B5  "Sham" 2:42
B6  "Ride the Wind" 6:44

PERSONNEL:
Jesse Colin Young - vocals, bass, acoustic guitar on "Sunlight"
Lowell "Banana" Levinger - guitar, electric piano, b-vocals
Joe Bauer - drums
ADDITIONAL:
David Lindley - fiddle
Jerry Corbitt - guitar and vocals (uncredited)
Plas Johnson - tenor saxophone
Joe Clayton - trumpet
Victor Feldman - vibraphone

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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