The Power of East Coast Surf

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1/7/06 - Shecky and the Twangtones, Mister Neutron, Coffin Daggers, Venice Beach Muscle Club in NYC


Saturday, January 7, kicked off the first of what I hope will the Year of the Unsteady (Freddie) Shindigs.
Otto's Shrunken Head was already packed and rocking as Bobby D. and I strolled in the door at 10 pm for what turned out to be a long hot night of varied surf intro music. DJ January 1963 was spinning vintage (dare I say "classic") surf and retro tunes in the bar area as Shecky and Twangtones set up in the back room of Otto's.
Shecky and the Twangtones hail from Long Island, are a new addition to NESMA, and this was my first opportunity to see them. This four piece (git, bass, drums, and percussion) played a nice set of very jazzy surf. This is an unusual band with a stand-up bass rather than the typical electric bass. What a deep and powerful sound! Adding to the mix was, of course, the very talented Brian on percussion (bongos, triangle, tambourine, etc...), something you don't see very often in any type of band these days. Shecky provided a strong lead, along with vocals. The band played the popular covers, such as Mr. Moto, Baja, but also threw in Love Will Tear Us Apart and Finger Poppin' Time. Audience reaction was varied, but the overall view was "Yeah, something new and different!". Big thanks to Doug (drummer) for making us all get up & dance for the last tune of the set. What fun!
Next up was Mister Neutron. I first time saw this band was last year at Makor (check out the review). I know it was the same personnel as the Makor show on Saturday night, but I swear I was listening to a different band. Of course, the set opened with Happy Surf-Day for Unsteady Freddie, created especially for the night by Damien. He followed this up with Mambo Italiano and then look out! When Damien ripped into Los Straightjax Casbah I was floored by his talent and the speed at which he played. They also played a beautiful Latina number for me by either the StingRayes or titled Blue StingRaye. It was hard to hear Damien speak at this point as the club was standing room only. I highly suggest picking up their second CD at their next show on 1/19 at The Rail in New Jersey. The set was filled with fantastic originals, but make sure you get Mister Neutron to play at least two rockin' encores as they did on Saturday, the surfiest version of Bonanza I have ever heard and one lone Gene Vincent vocal to end the night.
The last band I got to hear that night was the infamous Coffin Daggers who took over Otto's at 1 am. I suggest you take a look at the pictures on the NESMA photo page, otherwise you may not fully be able to comprehend how large a following the Coffin Daggers have. It was standing room only, with Unsteady Freddie and others sitting on the floor just inches away from the stage. The Coffin Daggers have quite an interesting and entertaining set up with a screen behind the band showing old horror movies and very Troma-like films. It was the perfect backdrop for their high quality goth/psycho surf sound and Viktor's speedy guitar picking. This band shreds like none other I've seen in eons. They are heavy on the reverb and the organ added just the right amount of shivers and chills to pull it all together. The Coffin Daggers are definitely over the top Ghoulish Go GO's! I expect their upcoming European tour to be a milestone for the genre of surf.
Even though the place was packed with many new faces it was full of friendly faces too: Dave from the Howlin' Thurstons, Mike & Sandy from 9th Wave, Patty from the Tarantino's/NYC, Sean Kershaw of the New Jack Ramblers & Blind Pharaohs. Even better, all these bands have shows in NY during January:
Friday 1/13 9th Wave w/ The Outpatients @ Hank's Saloon, 3rd Ave, Brooklyn
Friday, 1/27 Tarantinos/NYC @ Otto's, E. 15th St. NYC
Saturday, 1/28 Howlin' Thurstons @ The Charleston, Bedford Ave. Brooklyn
Every Sunday, Sean Kershaw & the New Jack Ramblers @ Hank's Saloon
Before I leave you I must send out a big "Thank You" to Otto's manager Nell for assisting me with Operation Cake (we were celebrating Unsteady Freddie's birthday!) I hope to see everyone this Friday at Hank's and at the next Unsteady Shindig on Feb. 4.
Official NESMA Reviewer


From the promoter's view:

Still recovering from an intense evening of live surf music.

The SURF-ROCK SHINDIG at 'Otto's Shrunken Head' January 7th was a powerful example of how amazing surf music can be live, and how diverse the genre is interpreted and presented

I suspect The Blue StingRaye will post one of her attentive on-the-spot reviews soon (see above), but I just wanted to THANK everyone who made this event so special

First of all, love goes out to Steve, Nell and DJ January 1963 at 'Otto's' -- great staff of people who are totally behind the Surf- Rock Shindigs - bless you all!

And a shout-out to The Blue StingRaye, Bob D., and Oceana & Mike 'Staccato' Rosado (of the 9th Wave, and NESMA Big Kahunas) - who were there to be part of the scene -- and who surprised yours truly with an amazing birthday cake for me (my birthday was January 5th) - which we shared with the mob scene at 'Otto's' -- that is some serious love, and I am most grateful.

And plenty of surf rockers in the house:  Tricia/Joey/Paulie Tarantino (Tarantinos/NYC), Dave W. (Howlin' Thurstons), guitarist Barry Simon.

The show opened with Shecky & the Twangtones - first time I got to see this band -- they presented a diverse mix of sounds, incorporating some interesting percussion, stand-up bass - a sweet synthesis of surf, rockabilly....I totally dug 'em...they are working on a CD.

Mister Neutron came on second and were hot as Hell from the first note (with a special thanks for a surfy version of 'Happy Birthday' - that's another first for me) - their set is almost 100% instro now -- Damian's picking in particular was lightning speed.

Then came the dark reverb monsters, The Coffin Daggers, complete with accompanying B-movie sci-fi projections behind them -- Viktor, I swear, is channeling from another he pulled out all the stops, including the use of a theremin for their take of Pink Floyd's 'Interstellar Overdrive' - the band is playing tighter than ever too - holy shit does this band knock ya back.

And Venice Beach Muscle Club closed out the evening, and they were playing some fluid surf, great song mix too;  get this, when they went on (around 2:30 am I think?), there were still (I counted) over 25 people sitting there diggin' the reverb, with others coming in and out of the room.

This Surf-Rock Shindig is getting entrenched at Otto's, it would seem -- and, as I have always said, twang it and they will come. Big thanks and kisses on the forehead to all of ya.

Unsteady Freddie
Surf Rock Promoter and fan


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