I’m in Miami. In South Beach specifically (long story) where the uncool come to pretend to be cool. Where tourist from NYC and middle America and all over the world flock to act like self absorbed a*&holes and pretend they are ballers. Where a cup of coffee cost $4 and even the local dry cleaner has a “tip me” cup out. The dry cleaner? For real? Traffic is a mess and it’s overrun with dumb asses, more than typical as it’s January and much of the U.S. of A is slogging through arctic cold and snow flurries.
So the idiots arrive and clog up the highways and byways and drive all manner of F’ed up (And I’ve lived and driven abroad and I know F’d up driving when I see it and when I do it). Get your car insurance policy updated before you come down. Load up the wallet before you come down and get out the lube before you come down because if you come to South Beach… your going to get screwed. And not the fun kind either.
I’m here for work but I had to escape the silly South Beach scene if just for a moment and hang out with some genuine people. Luckily for me and for the rest of Miami whom I can only imagine hate South Beach even more than I, there are plenty of genuine articles where you can escape the buffoonary and have legitimate experiences.
Little Havana if you are into Cuban culture. Little Haiti if you want to feel you’re in the 3rd world (and I say that with the utmost respect, Haitians struggle mightily at home and come here and it’s not much better, but at least they have a shot here).
And if you’re into the punk and underground music scene, there really is just one place you need to know (though I’m sure there are more), it’s Churchill’s Pub,THE spot to go for punk and alternative music and as far as I know, not a single bit of EDM (Electronic Dance Music I think it’s called, or is that Electronic Douchebag Music?… I’m not sure). It’s also a spot where some neighboring Haitian entrepreneurs will watch your car in the parking lot for you for a couple of bucks and make sure “nothing happens to it”.
On this night, my buddies from Los Bastardos Magnificosweren’t just running things, they were actually playing. What a treat to finally see these guys live and performing music near and dear to my heart, hillbilly music.
Let’s face it, by and large the Nashville Country music scene is garbage. Nashville’s polished, pre-fab sound makes Justine Bieber look like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. These days, California is more authentic country than Nashville with it’s historic Bakersfield sound of Marty Robbins, Buck Owens, Dwight Yoakam and let us not forget the original punkabilly kings.. you know I’m going to say it.. wait for it.. Mike Ness and Social Distortion.. whew.. got that out.. feel.. much.. better… now. Then there is Xand geez, the list goes on and I’m tired of name dropping.
Well Florida may be giving California, Tennessee and Texas a run for their money and for my money, I prefer the authentic punk-country crooning of bands like Los Bastardos Magnificos. I’ve written about the big scene just north of Miami in Lake Worth where bands like the “Darling Sweets” and “Everymen”come down to play at Churchills and inject a bit of their homegrown hillbilly punk into the metropolitan mecca of Miami. (Missed it? Read it HERE)
This is a scene worth taking notice. If you didn’t know where you were, you’d probably swear your in Austin, but this ain’t Texas it’s Miami and it’s a reminder that Florida is a big, diverse state and as much as I love the diversity of immigrant Latin cultures in Miami, the red-neckish musical stylings one would think more at home in North Florida or South Georgia is expressed right here in Miami is a refreshing change of pace. Country punk is alive and well at Churchill’s Pub (minus all that pesky ignorance and intolerance).
Next up was a one man performance from Joe Buck Yourself, he with the wild haircut and wild eyed stare as he furiously pounded on the footpedal drum and simultaneously strummed his rust colored guitar. I have one word for Joe Buck Yourself and it’s INTENSE.
I wish I’d been able to stick around for Holly Hunt, a 2 person sludge /noize? rock act I’ve enjoyed immensely before and can only say good things about. But as I said I am here working and it’s an “early to bed, early to rise” regimen for me.
I also would have liked to seen the Anti-Seen, but tonight, there were not to be seen, at least by me. But you can check out their scene at their site HERE.(OK, enough Seen jokes). From what I hear they kick it old school punk rock which means hitting the stage at midnight or later I assumed, so I hightailed home to bed (actually to work, yes I had to work some more.. feel sorry for me yet?).
I’m in Miami the rest of the week.. did I mention I was working? But it’s good to know Churchill’s is there. I may have to go back and get a “real people” fix if the whole South Beach silliness gets to me again. I’m pretty sure it will. So stay tuned.
You get the feeling a fella with the name, “White Boy James”might have grown up around another culture. I often refer to myself as a Gringo when traveling in Latin America, even though in some circles its considered a little course and inappropriate, I think it puts people at ease and hopefully lets them know I don’t take myself too seriously… so they can relax.
Well, with White Boy James I didn’t get a chance to talk to him about his moniker choice, but I did get to catch his show at the brand new Torino Lounge in Paramount, CA last night… and I’m going to make an educated guess that it had something to do that this white boy was playing some boogie woogie blues music and moving like he knew what he was doing.. and he did.
He did get a chance to tell me he grew up in Los Angeles, really close to the Torino lounge as it turns out. I don’t know how the blues got in his blood, but it’s in his blood. When he’s on the harmonica, or stomping across the stage in his trench coat, he could be any color… he’s just feeling it and letting it rip.
White Boy James
A white boy singing the blues? Happens all the time. George Thorogood… hell, Mike Ness.. and countless others. But White Boy James hits that traditional, deep southern type of blues where it intersects with hillbilly and roots country just a tad and a half or so before it becomes Rock N Roll. In fact, the band switched gears and played a couple of hillbilly, rockabilly’ish songs deeper into their sets.
I’m not the world’s biggest blues fan, but watching White Boy James and the Blues Express was a hell of a lot of fun. When I could catch the lyrics like “I like my woman with a big old butt” or “you been f”’ing all my friends” it just added to the evening’s fun and not “don’t take things too seriously” tone. The kind that blues was born out of when African Americans in the deep south sang the blues to forget the harsh conditions of their lives. Pain is where the blues came from. Your woman left you.. you’re broke.. you got nothing.. but the blues. I get it.
But White Boy James & The Blues Express are no joke.. they are 1st class musicians and they rip it up and put on a hell of a good show. If you get a chance to see them, well you should. And if you don’t, here is a little video clip for you.
This “review “has been months in the making but I figure if it took Social Distortion 6 years to come out with a new CD then it can take me 6 months to find the time and energy to write about it.
I realize it might be irrelevant at this point, but given that the record company recently released the video for “Machine Gun Blues”, they at least think this CD has a long sales cycle. And you know what, I agree. Happily punk music and Social Distortion don’t follow whatever norms are left of the so called music “industry”.
I also wanted to give myself time to listen to the CD, record, LP, download whatever you call it these days, front to back and back again numerous times. Experience tells me many of my favorite Social D. songs were weeks, months or even years in the listening. Like some exotic piece of sushi, some of the best songs are an acquired taste. Glaring exceptions are my favorite songs from “White Light, White Heat, White Trash” CD. My first.
I know, I know, I in no way resemble a professional or even unprofessional music “critic”. What qualifies me to even attempt to analyze and pass on my opinions about a work of music?
Well, I am a massive Social Distortion fan, own every song they’ve put out (and some they haven’t) and while I am partially uncomfortable and wholly unqualified to sit in judgment of what took many, much more talented and gifted people months, or in this case years to put together, I’m doing it anyway.
Now what’s more punk rock than that?
ROAD ZOMBIE: My favorite track on the CD. No lyrics just bad ass guitar melodies from Ness and Co. Full disclosure I first heard this track when Social D. played Mulcahey’s pub in Long Island in 2007. Though I had taken in many a Social D. show, I had uncharacteristically worked my way up to the front couple of “rows” and got my first “up close and personal” if you will, of Social D. live. Since then, I fight and maneuver to the front as much as possible for every punk show. I missed punk during my teenage years so now I’m making up for lost time.
In this instance, Mike Ness came out like an outlaw, bandana over face playing this kick ass tune that I later found out to be “Road Zombie”. It was raucous, it was loud and it was vintage Social D. While, I didn’t know the title of the song at the time and had never heard it before, I liked It straight away and now that it’s finally on the old i-pod, have to force myself to listen no more than 3 times in a row per session or I become like that little rat in a cage in those drug addiction tests. Road Zombie is classic Social Distortion and that’s why it’s my favorite track on the CD and probably in my top 10 of Social D songs of all time.
FAVORITE LYRIC: None. Song doesn’t have lyrics. But I imagine it’s about being on the road, touring so much you’ve become a sleep deprived, guitar playing zombie.
CALIFORNIA HUSTLE AND FLOW: Least favorite track on the CD. Ness channels the Rolling Stones and 70s Elvis with the soulful sounding background singers that for my money, just sound out of place. The Stones are legendary but only “alright” to me and Elvis rocked, even during the fat years (“Suspicious Minds” anyone?) but for Social Distortion this style of music doesn’t fly for me. It comes off bluesy, cheesy and decidedly not the least bit punk.
I respect Ness’s freedom to experiment and after this many years he’s certainly earned the right. But for my money, unless you’re into the Black Crowes, then I’d save the 99 cent download on this one.
FAVORITE LYRIC: None really.
GIMME THE SWEET AND LOWDOWN: This song took a while but it grew on me. And while also a touch bluesy. It has a more modern day social d. sound reminiscent of 2004’s “Sex, Love and Rock N Roll” and would have been at home on that CD. FAVORITE LYRIC: “You gotta get right or get left don’t you know”
DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH: An altogether very listenable song, this is not vintage or hardcore punk Social Distortion but the lyrics really get to me. I don’t suppose to know what Ness was thinking when he wrote this one, but it seems like a lyric written by a middle aged punk rocker that’s been through some shit and come through it all the wiser. Feels like he’s talking about himself when he was a teen, or maybe passing along a little wisdom to his own young sons. When the harmonies kick in its hard not to sing along.
FAVORITE LYRIC: “You’re dirty and you’re damaged, all you need is a little love”
MACHINE GUN BLUES: I noticed this was all over satellite radio before the CD was release. Epitaph put together a nice video for it, so I guess this is the official “hit single”.
Yet I still dig it. It’s vintage outlaw Social Distortion. Lyrics take you back to another time in Hollywood when Ness might have been a gangster instead of a punk rocker. Once again, the harmonies on “I’m al…..read…y goooo…nnne”.. (Also a good Eagle’s tune) are hard to beat and I love the theme, which could mean onto the next score but also gone from this life, a foregone conclusion that bad guys don’t win. Machine Gun Blues sounds like an ode to Bonnie and Clyde and the 1930s gangster lifestyle. Certainly not Ness’s first. The video ain’t bad either. In the end, the good guy is the bad guy and he gets his just desserts just as the song suggest.
FAVORITE LYRIC: “I’m sorry for the things I’ve done, if indeed we do cross paths it’s nothing personal”
Some people never understand, it’s just business!
BAKERSFIELD: Ah Bakersfield… heard it many a time at Social D. shows as it sapped the energy out of the crowd and sobered the fans right up. But it’s not a bad song at all… it’s just more country-bluesy, ballady rock and roll from Ness and while if I’m ever in the mood for some “easy listening punk” (hey, it happens), this song will be on the playlist, I’d save the 99 cents on the download and get my fill at the concert cause God knows it’s probably gonna get played. BTW, Bakersfield, home to a few good alt-country artists isn’t THAT bad. I wonder how the Social D. fans in Bakersfield feel about this tune when Ness plays it.
FAVORITE LYRIC: “I can’t seem to make it on my own”
FAR SIDE OF NOWHERE: My buddy “Peyo” from the punkabilly band “Rudos Wild” way down in Uruguay said it best when he joked that this was Ness’s “Shania Twain” song. Exactly! “I wake up and drink my coffee…” “The birds are singing”. So glad Ness pulled himself out of the dirt and filth, but Ness is way too happy go lucky on this one. I’m happy he’s happy but I like it best when he writes me songs about the pain and misery! I guess this one’s for the girls??!!
FAVORITE LYRIC: None
ALONE AND FORSAKEN: This little light weight and predictable ditty grows on you about ½ way through and I can’t accuse Ness to being “too happy” on this one. The melody is mad simple and the lyrics are somewhat sung in a story telling prose. Would I ever download it on its own? Nah… but since it’s on the CD, I give it a good listen every now and again.
FAVORITE LYRIC: “Forsaken, forgotten without any love”.
Been there, felt that.
WRITING ON THE WALL: People might accuse me of losing my edge when I say, I love this song. I’m man enough to admit here publicly that I’m a sentimental wussy more than I usually admit to anyone privately. CONFESSION: I can still tear up when I hear that damned Titanic song! Sorry, was that TMI?
This song sounds like Ness struggling to raise and keep connected to one of his young sons as he’s perhaps reaching that stage when even a rock star dad is not cool anymore. It’s heart tugging, even for me, a dude without kids. Maybe that’s why it connects for me. I probably am at a place in my life where I should / would have expected to have a family and I can imagine what Ness is going through.
Or maybe, he’s just a master lyricist and paints a good if painful picture of the drama in his everyday life. I sure hope his son, if that is indeed who he wrote it for, appreciates it. It’s a classic.
FAVORITE LYRIC: “I’m hopelessly aware of the good and bad traits we share”
CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU: Ness revives the soulful backup singers and it seems to work a little better here. And while I generally don’t dig the bluesy elements, I do dig this song and look forward to hearing it in concert sans the 70s style back-up singers.
FAVORITE LYRIC: This song is chock full of ‘em… but “Never seen a hearse with a luggage rack”, not sure if that’s original Ness or not, but it’s simple wisdom that can’t be repeated too often to any credit card carrying North American (of which I’m one). STILL ALIVE: OK, as any fan knows and as mentioned here before, Ness has been in the punk game for a while, seen a lot of stuff and been through a lot. This song is an ode to his lasting power and while it’s well deserved and perhaps had to be written and recorded, I wouldn’t normally download it.
FAVORITE LYRIC: “With a guitar in my hand I stand a little taller” From the back to the front page. From the gutter to the stage”.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF: Yeah man, I dig this goodbye song to a former lover (I assume). This song is hard to classify. I guess it’s just a straight ahead rock and roll ballad but I really dig the lyrics, melody and harmonies in the chorus. It’s definitely hooky and not very hard at all but I still like it.
FAVORITE LYRIC: “I’ll walk away but baby take care of yourself”
I WON’T RUN NO MORE: Ness really ends the CD strong with the last few songs and this song is hooky and once again, not very hardcore punk but alas again, I still would download it. Very listenable.
FAVORITE LYRIC: “And when you’re sick and tired of playing all the games and maybe realize that nothing’s gonna change, you said you wanted less, but you really wanted more. There comes a time in life when you must tell yourself, I won’t run no more”
DOWN HERE (WITH THE REST OF US) – Acoustic: Not a new song, an acoustic version from the tune off the White Light, White Heat CD… and a precursor to Ness’s rumored upcoming acoustic CD.
After hearing “Cold Feelings” acoustic live in concert and now this song acoustic I must say I can’t wait for that one. Acoustic has been over done in many genres, but not in punk. This song is a classic and perfectly displays Ness’s ability to meld honky tonk, roots country with punk for that perfect mix of Punkabilly… which is a major reason why I love this band.
FAVORITE LYRIC: “No one’s immune now to a world full of problems. No one’s exempt now from a world of pain?”
“I tried hard now to do the right thing, yet I wonder why I still do what’s wrong”
“That’s the way it goes and I know how you feel”
So what’s my overall recommendation for “Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes”? Well aside from a great title the CD is pretty solid and has some really good gems in there.
If you are a hard core Social Distortion fan from back in the day, it may not be “punk” enough for you. If you’re more of the type of fan who appreciates the wide variety in this legendary band’s body of work, well this is another bullet in that gun and demonstrates Ness’s versatility.
And if you’ve never heard of Social D. at all, give it a listen, you may dig the songs I hate, and hate the songs I dig. I’m not naive enough to believe it’s my way or the highway kind of thing, I often tend to like things others dismiss and dislike things others rave over (electronic music anyone, no pun intended).
And in the end, who cares what I have to say anyway? Well, nonetheless I said it. And whether anyone cares is immaterial to me. But feel free to write to me and tell me how much you care anyway. He, he.
If you haven’t seen it, it’s finally out, Social Distortion’s biggest budget video to date from Epitaph records. The only thing that I’m scratching my head about is why it took so long for the music video to be released? I mean Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes has been out for months now. Maybe like fine wine, good music gets better with age?
Which reminds me, I’m over due to give my review! Coming up soon, I promise. In the meantime, you can enjoy the video from my “2nd” favorite song off the CD, “Machine Gun Blues”.
So I know I promised a review ofSocial Distortion’s“Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes” and I”m sure your all waiting with baited breath, hand hovering over the keyboard thinking “should I buy it? oh dear.. what would punk outlaw do?”.. Well, since I already bought it, you know what I’d do.. I’d buy it and worry about if it’s any good later.
But actually, I already knew what I needed to know when I heard “Road Zombie” was on the CD. I first heard Road Zombie before I even knew the tune had a name at Social D’s concert at Mulcahey’s in Long Island way back in 2007. I didn’t know what it was, never heard it before but instantly loved it. I still get chills when I listen to it and I have to say after downloading “Hard Times..” I’ve hardly gotten past this very 1st song on the CD.
I keep playing it over and over and over and my little pea sized, Pavlovian brain just gets more and more addicted to each and every riff, each and every pounding beat. It’s primal, it’s old school vintage Social Distortion outlaw music (ala “Prison Bound”). Yesterday I ran 4 miles listening exclusively to “Road Zombie”, do some quick math and that is like 12 0r 13 times in a row.
Is “Hard Times..” any good? I don’t know yet. My favorite Social Distortion songs took time to appreciate, like good wine or sushi or a hot rod car your favorite tattoo, punk shirt or whatever comparison you want to make, it’s often an acquired taste that makes the biggest, deepest impression.
So while I’ll weigh in on the CD in good time, I think I should give it a good dozen or so listens first and I just can’t get past “Road Zombie”.
In the meantime should you plunk down the $12.99 or whatever it is to buy the CD? I can’t answer that for you. Depends on how big of a fan you are, how much money you have to play around with, etc.
For me it’s a no brainer. On every Social Distortion CD there are at least 2-3 songs that rank up at the top of my all time favorite songs. The rest are rarely bad and almost always good. There are very few Social D. songs in their lengthy body of work that I say, “WTF is that?”
In early listening sessions beyond “Road Zombie”, there indeed may be a couple of those on “Hard Times”.
Mike Ness after all did say this CD will have a heavy “Black Crows” influence and I’m thinking who in the fXXk are the Black Crows to influence anybody or anything? I truly hate their music, their look, their style, everything about them actually. Why in the hell would a punk legend who’s carved his own path ever, ever say something like that?
I don’t own a Black Crows or a Bruce Springsteen song for that matter for a damn good reason.
Well, I do guarantee you this, “Road Zombie” and “Machine Gun Blues” don’t have a Black Crow’s or Bruce Springsteen influence. It’s 100% Social D.
For $12.99, if I only get a couple good songs then my investment has already paid off. Anything more than that is a happy bonus and I bet there are a couple more gems on the CD and I can’t wait to find how many there actually are on “Hard Times…”
So please, record buying public, give me some time. It took Social D. 6 years to release a CD, give me 6 weeks or so and I’ll tell you what I think about “Hard Times” when ALL the songs have etched themselves, for better or worse, into the grooves of my increasingly redundant little thought processes.
In the meantime, enjoy this flipcam video of “Road Zombie” recorded and live at Mulcahey’s pub in 2007. Feel free to listen over and over and over.
It’s finally here… Social Distortion’s “Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes” is out today and early reviews are positive.
I just downloaded and yes I purchased it nice and legal like off of I-Tunes even though I had ample opportunity to grab one for free days ago (and turn all you guys on to it as well).
I wonder if the fine folks at Social D.’s management ever keep that shit in mind when granting interviews instead of “respectfully declining” all the time?
Anyway, the principle here is I want to support as I always have and am hoping there are a couple of hidden gems on this CD as there have been in the past.
Once I give a good listen I’ll let you know. In the meantime, if your in the U.S. (I’m not!) and can catch it, Social D. will be on Conan tonight. That’s on TBS I think. Google it or something, I just know its not NBC. As for me, I’ll catch it on You Tube in a day or so!
I’ve seen SD or Ness perform in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Orange County (2x), Long Island (2x), New Jersey and NYC (4x) and the show last night at Roseland Ballroom was the best.
Social Distortion @ The Roseland - sellout!
It was a sellout and the crowd was lined up around the block threatening to stretch to David Letterman’s studios a block away. I killed some time walking around the block hoping the line would eventually dissipate (it didn’t) and heard one lady tell her family “look at all the people waiting to see the play Jersey Boys” which was next door. Not quiet maam!
One look and you could tell this was a Social Distortion crowd with sick boys and girls dressed in various stages of Mike Ness inspired outfits. The guys in the newsboy hats, rolled up jeans, work boots and work shirts and the girls perfectly coiffed combining that rockabilly – punk look that is so hard to explain but so easy to spot when you see it. Sick boys and girls, not looking for a fight, but there to enjoy some rollicking rockabilly influenced hardcore punk music.
What is the influence of Mike Ness and Social Distortion? That chapter in their history is yet to be written, they are too busy working, touring and finally cranking out some new material with their forthcoming CD “Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes” coming in January 2011. Their first in 6 years.
I missed the opening act, but can tell you off the bat the warm up music featured old country and blues ditties from back in the day. Already this was getting off to a better start than the travesty of so called “warm up” music from their stop at Mulcahey’s in Long Island I wrote about last August.
The crowd of course was bigger than at Mulcahey’s but the atmosphere still had a small, intimate gathering feel to it. Maybe it was the joy of finally seeing Social D. in the center of the universe, New York City rather than having to schlep out to Long Island or New Jersey as has been the case the past couple of times the band came through. Maybe it’s the fact that new material is forthcoming. Maybe it’s just that Social Distortion and Ness after over 30 years of doing this, have matured and gelled and are comfortable in their own skin.
Whatever it is, it worked last night.
The band came out to open with “The Creeps” and plowed through a string of “hits” including “Sick Boy” and my personal favorite “Don’t Drag Me Down” (motherfuckers!) before slowing things down and treating the crowd to 3 songs from the forthcoming CD which included “Still Alive”, “Bakersfield” and an ode to Hank Williams that I really enjoyed.
They went through another string of old favorites before closing the set out with “Making Believe”.
The encore included “Far Away” and then my favorite part (maybe because I needed a break from getting bounced around like a rag doll in the pit), back to back acoustic performances of “Down Here (With The Rest of Us)” and “Cold Feelings” which featured an accordion in the mix.
It was at the point of hearing the acoustic version of “Cold Feelings” that I realized fully what a great musicians these guys are and that I really believe Mike Ness will be considered legendary status and a national treasure when he finally hangs up his guitar (hopefully not for another 20-30 years yet).
I mean who else can bring together such a diverse audience of young kids (I saw one guy with his dad, had to be no more than 11 years old) and old guys (some dude had to be well above fifty was getting with it in the pit) with such a diverse line up of music that ranges from hardcore punk to rockabilly to roots country to bluesy straight ahead rock and roll?
I know, I know the Rolling Stones are in their 60s or 70s or whatever but if you think about it, Social Distortion has been doing this, building a mass but incredibly loyal worldwide following for over 30 years without almost any radio airplay outside of California (remember not that long ago radio airplay was crucial and 100% necessary for “success” as an artist).
Their success can’t be pegged to the new rise and importance of social media and the internet to the music business. Sorry, they were there long before that stuff took hold. Social Distortion put out CDs and sold them independently through word of mouth and actual buzz before a thing like “internet buzz” even existed.
If you can’t tell I love going to a Social Distortion show, not just for the great music and to see a living legend do his thing, but also because for a brief moment, I can share the love of my favorite band in the world and be around others who feel the same way.
Most people I meet have never heard of Social Distortion (most of course aren’t punk fans either), and that is fine with me. It’s a not so secret, secret that I share with like minded people who come out during a Social Distortion concert and I see I’m not alone, that thousands and thousands of fans just like me exist.
And though of course I know this already, it’s cool to see this in New York City, with it’s diversity, with it’s incredibly energy but incredibly will always to me have an irrational legacy of non diverse and really horrible sameness of music. How much Jay Z/Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi and Billy Joel can NYC take?
The poor masses who blindly listen to whatever garbage is spewed to them from the radio or clubs had no choice 15 years ago, but now it’s different. With i-tunes and the internet, they can do better. Yet they don’t, so they have no excuse. They are the poor hapless masses.
Criminals? Nahhh! Just Social D. Fans in the Pit.
When Social Distortion closed with “Prison Bound” and then “Ring of Fire” signaling the end of my 12th concert with Ness and company, I knew that within New York City and the surrounding area, there were thousands of people just like me, who, however they may have stumbled upon Social Distortion (I bought one of their CDs by mistake at a 2nd hand CD store), young or old, white collar or blue collar, punk or country or something in between, appreciate these guys like I did.
I noticed when I walked out of Roseland to the “Sanford & Son”theme music that much of the crowd did indeed look like some “scary looking criminals” as Ness likes to say in his concert banter, but if these people were such scary criminals, why did it feel so good to be hanging with them?
Below is a flip cam video of Social Distortion’s acoustic of “Cold Feelings”. I have video of the faster paced stuff where I was getting tossed around. I’ll try to upload some of that next week along with winding up my coverage from my trip from St. Petersburg, Russia so STAY TUNED:
Yup, I’ve been to jail. Twice! So I guess I’m twice as hard core yo! However, since I cried like a baby the 1st time, I guess that cancels out at least half the hard coreness of it.
Both times I was under the legal drinking age and both times arrested for, you guessed it, drinking under age and public intoxication. As I said, I cried like a little baby the first time.
I was 16 and knew my parents were going to be royally pissed and that I was in for some very long and frequent lectures, a church sermon or two directed precisely at me and most wretchedly, weekends without my car, which where I grew up meant there was absolutely nothing to do, unless you count farm work as fun stuff.
My memories of that evening have fogged with time, but I do remember I had two girls, my girlfriend and her friend, in my car with me when I was pulled over. In a cruel but accurate foreshadowing of my future experience with women, they both bailed on me as soon as they could find another ride home. Sorry ladies, just speaking the truth.
The second time was more of a badge of courage. I was in college and was living in my fraternity house. Yup, I was in one and was even the President. Yes I realize not very punk of me but you need to know the details before you judge my friends, we were a bit different, I promise.
The police came and busted our party for too much fun. I drunkenly slurred they couldn’t arrest me since they were technically at my house of residence. Cops being cops, and not really caring about technical things like the law, they took that as an invitation and promptly arrested me for public intoxication.
Once again, the girl I was with bolted and went to another party while my fraternity brothers pooled their funds to get me out of jail.
Both times I was in and out in less than a couple hours and I’m pretty sure Mike Ness wasn’t talking about my puny teenage jail experiences when he wrote “Prison Bound”.
I think he was most likely referring to his own actual prison stays back in his wilder drug days.
Say what you will about prison, it sure helped Ness write some damn good songs on the “Prison Bound” CD including the self titled track “Prison Bound”, “It’s The Law” and my favorite “Like an Outlaw” a punk-western anthem that inspired this blog’s namesake.
After first discovering Social Distortion, the “Prison Bound” CD took me a while to warm up to. I had started off on “White Light, White Heat, White Trash” and worked my way backwards. Fast forward to today and it’s one of my favorite CDs of all time and the title track “Prison Bound” one of my favorite songs (even if it does conjure up bad memories of me being drunkenly or tearfully carted off in handcuffs).
At the Social Distortion concert in Wantagh, Long Island the other night it was obvious I wasn’t the only one who digs “Prison Bound”, as the crowd drunkenly sang along to every word of this sad little ditty during Social Distortion’s encore. I’m sure more than a few of them have been prison bound themselves, so maybe we all shared that common history or maybe it’s just a great song, or a little or lot of both.
Whatever the reason, I thought it would be cool to share the video of the crowd and Ness singing along together what has become a punkabilly classic “Prison Bound”.
So I took the hour or so train ride out to Wantagh, Long Island to experience Social Distortion’s 2010 summer tour last night.
I arrived around 8pm and the 1st warm up band was playing. I normally like to give props to warm up bands and try to help them get their music out but not this time.
I’m not even gonna name names or waste time talking about the warm up bands because I was really underwhelmed by both of them, though at least the 2nd band somewhat fit the theme of the night and the lead singer had some entertaining conversations with the lighting guy.
The music in between the sets was just as bad with Aerosmith and Bruce Hornsby and the Range tunes being spun by the DJ. I thought I was in “Corny Island” not “Long Island”. As one of my friends stated, the venue seemed very disrespectful of the audience with such inappropriate warm up music. Didn’t they realize this was a punk show? At least play some Johnny Cash!
Social Distortion rolled onto stage just a little after 10 pm and Mike Ness came out to the same intro song I had witnessed in 2007 (see my Previous post which has a good video of the 2007 intro)when they played this same venue. I love that song and sure hope they include it on their forthcoming CD this fall. If anyone knows the title of that song, please let me know, I need that song on my ipod.
Despite what seemed like Mulcahey’s best efforts to dampen enthusiasm (or maybe because of it) the crowd was rowdy, rowdier than I can remember at other Social D shows. They were ready to go from the get go and pretty much kept it up all night.
Mike Ness and company didn’t disappoint ripping through about an hour and 15 minutes of “hits” plus a preview of their upcoming CD with a song called “Still Alive” I think. It was cool, but I need to hear it a few more times to see if it’s going to be one of the many Social Distortion songs I hit repeat again and again on my ipod.
Johnny 2 Bags
Ness joked around with the crowd about Jones Beach surf scene comparing it to California as well as Jersey vs. Long Island jokes. However, I’m not sure the impact was there, because I got the feeling a big part of the crowd were, like me, from Manhattan and other parts of NYC, given Social Distortion didn’t have a Manhattan stop on this particular tour.
BOUNCER: Just Doing His Job.. too well.
The big, burly goons (excuse me bouncers) at Mulcahey’s did their job very well and pretty much stopped every possible crowd surfing, wrecking pit and display of enthusiasm that they could. They did their best to stop all the fun and they almost succeeded. I realize these guys are just doing their jobs but what a buzzkill this place Mulcahey’s was. I think that’s the last time I roll out there for an event.
Social D. ended their set with “Making Believe” before heading offstage. Followed by chants of “Social D” from the crowd for about 5 minutes, the band ambled back on stage and played another 3 or so songs, including a raucous version of “Prison Bound” which the crowd sang word for word. They ended the night on a rocking night with their famous remake of “Ring of Fire” which always gets the crowd going.
I thought they were going to come out for yet another encore but the fine folks at Mulcahey’s fired up the “Sanford and Son” theme song (don’t ask me?!) and hit the main lights, so I knew it was time to head for the exit and hopefully not wait too long before the next LIRR train took me back to the much preferred confines of NYC.
I went next door to a “quickie mart” which gouges concert goers with $2 bottles of water and chips and not much else then headed to the train platform and joined the other Manhattan and Brooklynites for the wait for the train.
On the platform and on the train home, pretty much everyone was raving about the show and seemed to have a genuinely good time. I have to agree. Despite the venue’s missteps and the goons’ efforts to rob the audience of a good punk experience, the power of Social Distortion was just too strong and a good time was had anyway.
Can’t wait for the new CD and the chance to see Social Distortion on November 4th, this time in Manhattan at the Roseland Ballroom.