The Summer So Far

Blackboard Jungle Reunion Show XII The Viper Room
Rivet & Satellite Sky at The Kitty Club Boardner’s
Vim Dicta at The Troubadour
Hollywood & The Sunset Strip 2014
By Victoria Joyce

It’s the first weekend in June in West Hollywood. Summer has started. So we got two things; Gay Pride Weekend and the Blackboard Jungle Reunion Show. And the BBJ is back in it’s original home- the Viper Room (last year’s was up the street at the Roxy). So rainbows are all over and it will get hot and sticky whether you are gay or straight.

The email blast from the Viper told us to “call the baby sitter & break out the Aqua Net.” This show always sells out. Fans fly in from Jersey and Japan. And somewhere along the line we lost count. Is this the twelfth or the fifteenth one of these? Depends on who you listen to. Kenny announced “12” from the stage (with some help from the audience) but the tee shirt says fifteen. More about the shirt later.

Monday morning Kenny Price FaceBook’ed “Another trip around the sun for Blackboard Jungle. A great time with great friends. I’ll keep singing as long as you keep singing back. Thank you! Next year starts now. K”

And Mrs. Kenny gave us “The Monday after BBJ weekend is sad. It means the day we all waited for all year has once again come and gone and now we are 363 days away from it happening again. It was a great weekend, I loved getting to spend time with everyone. I love all the love that fills the room when BBJ are on stage. It’s a feeling like no other! Good times with so many great people! Can’t wait to do it all again next year. If anyone still needs a 2014 BBJ reunion shirt we only have 1 left in each size except small I have 3, so let me know ASAP.”

We asked Mrs. K about the special edition long-sleeved tee. It was kind of cute. “Kenny worked with his tattoo artist, Eric Alveno on the design. Kenny thought of the comic book characters/super heroes.” Up, up and away.

Guitar man Dave Zink gave us his take on twelve, “We were shocked on year 3! This year was no exception. A quote? This year’s show was a blur! I have to say that our MVP on stage was Ken. He’s a warm and charming guy, who gives his audience their money’s worth. I missed the Viper for the last couple years!”

Continuing the chronological debate, drummer Joel Patterson gave us, “I think it’s the 12th. Seems like the 10th was 2 years ago. Every year has been great, but I think bringing it back to Viper made this year really special…it’s a more intimate vibe and we just felt really connected. Maybe I’ll dig out my old lip service stretch jeans for next year!”

More from Joni Baker-Price, “I think it was the 12th year. I don’t know the final door count. I know people came from Colorado, Boston, Seattle, Florida, Nashville, Texas, and Georgia. Kenny reminded me that there were 2 guys that came from Italy and it was almost a sell out show.” Prego!

This year’s extra special treat was “Live From Japan” shot in ’92 by Japanese TV when their hair was a LOT longer, screened on the side wall through out the evening. Here’s a taste: “River of Love” 

The actual Blackboard Jungle show is almost an anti-climax except for the fact that the band still delivers a driving performance like they never broke up. The songs sound as good as ever – even better – delivered with more polish and craft. There is a lot of heart in this band and their fans, friends and family. So that was June.

In July, after many misses, we finally caught Rivet at Boardner’s – Hollywood’s oldest bar, for a Tuesday night aka Club Kitty show. Been trying to catch up with this band so long – they changed their name from Rivet Destroys to just Rivet. Good call. Nice name. And suits this band to a “T.” Hard, shiny and snapped on tight to your blue jeans with a little bit of sparkle.

Solid Hollywood Rockers Rivet, self-described as “no frills, straight forward, heavy rock”- we agree. The R’s have been playing the local Hollywood hot spots – Loaded, King King’s, Boardner’s and all over the OC and Venice Beach, working hard for the money, so hard for it honey. And they will be back at Boardner’s on another Tuesday, September 16th.

We love the look; bursting out of his skin-tight tee like the Incredible Hulk and black jeans. Boom. No fuss. Tom Bielek plays the bass and he plays it so mean! He’s a true believer with a lot of passion and has some great stage moves – those sideways jumps – like clicking his heels at an angle –seen it before, an old Cheap Trick. And that sensational old school big-hearted voice from lead singer – Sleight Hammond who is very Judas Priest-y in his delivery coupled with their guitar man, Matt Rile – a born performer, bringing insane energy to the front with drummer David Krause, self described “Clown Car Driver” bangs it out in back. These guys are dangerous.

The surprise treat of the night was the opening band, Satellite Sky, an L.A based Indie rock duo from Australia featuring siblings Pete Kicks (vocals/guitar) & Kim Kicks (drums). Kicky fun. The lady plays the drums and her schtick is neon hair extensions that get whipped around like she’s Will Smith’s kid. It’s quite a performance and the music is fun Poppy Punk and sticky like Bubble Gum.

A week or so later, Dan Nash, manager of the Vim Dicta clued us into an early bird show at the historic Troubadour on the last Tuesday in July. We keep promising ourselves to catch more gigs here. Dylan opened for Odetta here. Woody Allen broke new material on this stage back in the day. It just might be the oldest Jazz/Folk/Comedy club left in America.

Nowadays Doug Weston’s Troubadour is mostly Rock in all its modern manifestations, very young, edgy alt stuff. A lot of Europeans pop their American Cherry here. This was the sight of Elton John’s first US gig. Elton John. Just let that sink in. If nothing else go sit in the bar and dig the 8 by 10s on the wall of past performers.

Vim Dicta always delivers getting better with each show. Cool, calm and in control, he sound is formed and finely honed with haunting vocals that come from opposite ends and meet in the middle. Sweet, swirling jazzy cacophony with touches of Middle Eastern undertones of syncopation and deep machine-like beats.

Lead singer, Cori Elliott is in fine voice and puts on a nice performance. Blonder than blonde and thin like a willow, she works her songs out like sculpture out of the air. Ethereal and razor sharp. Matt Tunney on guitar doing is puppet-like David Byrne herky-jerky bursts and Chris Infusino all alone on the Planet Drum going nuts behind them completes the picture.

Tonight Vim Dicta seem to channel Television times ten. Art-Punk and very NYC. They wrapped it up with an encore song featured in last season’s “Sons of Anarchy” soundtrack. Nice.

A couple of things – we missed out on the 3-night stand X did at the Roxy. Heard it was great. No excuses. And Mr. Lucky did his CrueFest thing last week as per. So there’s that.

Rolling into August, we’ve got the 21st Anniversary of The Viper Room (now they can drink) with a slew of great bands. So what else is new? And the Sunset Strip Music Festival is coming up with headliners: Jane’s Addiction – a great, great band with plenty of scope and history in the ‘hood. We may not hit ground ‘til Halloween at this rate.

Viper Room
Kitty Club Hollywood
Satellite Sky
The Troubadour
The Vim Dicta