SSMF 2013 – Joan Jett

topjoan1The Sunset Strip Music Festival 2013
Kickoff Awards Celebration Tribute to Joan Jett
The House of Blues, Sunset Strip
West Hollywood, CA
August 1, 2013
By Victoria Joyce
Photography by Mila Reynaud

The Sunset Strip Music Festival kicked off its 6th year with a salute to Rock diva, Joan Jett at the House of Blues on Thursday, August 1, 2013

We caught Joan on the Red Carpet hugging her good buddy Margaret Cho, “I’m overwhelmed. I’m excited. And I don’t know what to expect.” She looked great with her signature blacker-than-black short shag haircut and dramatic violet eye make up. She still don’t give a damn.

The mostly political and industrial crowd at the HOB chomped on sliders, gulped Jack Daniels and schmoozed left and right. Like everything else in life, there are a lot of corporate sponsors here. What’s more punk than taking their money?

This is also a big get-together for all the artists playing SSMF 2013. Think High School reunion for all those bad kids your mama told you to stay away from. No wonder we felt so much at home.  Said hello to Dusty Bo of Future Villains and Christian Martucci of Christian Martucci. Love these guys. Dusty says “We’re playing at the Farmer’s Market at 9 then coming back here.” On the Strip even the organic vegetables rock.

The evening’s tribute to Joan Jett began with a video tribute from her old friend and mentor, (and scary guy) Kim Fowley from his sickbed. His declining health didn’t stop him from telling us that Joan Jett is a lot more than just a pretty face. Jett is a force of nature, then and now. We get it.

San Diego DJ an old family friend, Bob Bugman was the MC for the evening. He’s known Joan as a friend and neighbor for over 33 years and is clearly in love with the Jett. Singing her praises for founding the Runaways, producing the Germs, founding Black Heart Records (first female to ever do that!) and writing the great anthem, “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” (which was rejected by 23 labels and eventually self-produced and financed with some kids college fund), Bugman dropped the final stat – “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” is #56 on Billboard’s All Time Record Hits. Like for all of time, dude.

Next the politicos were on – West Hollywood’s Mayor and redhead, Abbe Land took the stage. And Abbe gushed like a teenybopper with her love and admiration for JJ. Surrounded by councilmembers John Duran and John Heilman, who officially declared August 1, 2013 as Joan Jett Day in the City of West Hollywood. Put another dime in the Jukebox, baby.

Next up was Blackheart player and LA punk veteran, Pat Smear, who was all smiles and love telling the crowd how inspired he was by Joan and how it led him to his career.

We saw another video tribute from Sister Punk, Debbie Harry followed by a live Carmen Electra, gushing and smiling for the Jett. Carmen further praised Joan for her political and charitable work. Did you know Joan Jett been entertaining the troops via the USO for the past 20 years? We didn’t. Could you love her more?

Next up was another taped tribute from former presidential candidate, Howard Dean who thanked for Joan for her support and her activism. The adorable Margaret Cho came the podium to tell the whole world how Joan inspired a generation, especially of the misfits, the outcasts, the awkward teens who just saw her legendary videos and went crazy.

Festival founders Nic Adler and Mikeal Maglieri, sons of founding fathers of the Sunset Strip; Lou Adler (The Roxy) and Mario Maglieri (The Whisky), respectively brought out the Elmer Valentine Award (Elmer started the A Go Go way back in the day). Nic spun some stories about the Runaways playing at the Whisky. If-These-Walls-Could-Talk type stuff.

Much to our delight, El Lay’s own, K-ROQ’s Beloved Son and Mayor of the Sunset Strip, Rodney Bingenheimer, longtime friend and mentor to many was brought out to present Joan Jett with her own memorial guitar (from Gibson) with her image on it.

Jett grabbed it and duck-walked back and forth across the stage, Chuck Berry style, for the photographers. What a riot! Joan took the mic thanking everyone adding how overwhelmed and humbled she was by all the love in the room.

Joan reminisced about being a kid and dreaming about California from her home back East. She couldn’t wait to get out here. Jett landed at Rodney’s English Acid Disco where she first heard Gary Glitter and T Rex. And she was hooked for life!

She also reminisced about the first time they played at the Whisky while living in an apartment that was right across the street but refused to give the address. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

Thanking family and friends and clearly overwhelmed with emotion she closed out the evening with a great big thank you to all.

Then we were treated to a screening of all of her signature videos from the 70s and 80s; “Cherry Bomb,” “Bad Reputation,” “I Love Rock ‘n Roll,”  “Do You Want to Touch Me There” and out favorite, “I Hate Myself for Loving You.” Don’t forget “Crimson and Clover.” Jett covered that beautifully. Over and over.

The big kicker was an extended movie clip from her acting debut in 1987s “Light of Day” with Michael J. Fox, Gena Rowlands and Spinal Tap’s Michael McKean. Not a bad little film, directed by Paul Schrader and shot on location in Chicago. Joan played a rocker. Type casting.

After an hour or so, Joan Jett took the stage with her band and played those hits live. We still get shivers.

Ducking out early we left the House of Blues and headed up the street to the Viper Room. Black Marquee was playing and we got there just in time to hear Skye Vaughn Daniels telling us “Make some noise!! I’m not here talking to myself!!”

This raging rockabilly rock ‘n roll band singing like funky-monkey, herky-jerkyTalking Heads cacaphony with just a splash of Devo went on at about 11 o’clock. We love the black shirts, black jeans and shit kicker boots. Johnny Cash meets the Sex Pistols at a gas station outside Fresno.

Some of the new sounds songs sound positively Beatlesque ala White album.  ” We expected to hear “I got blisters on my fingers” screamed. The closer had some serious Eddie Cochran action going on. We were exhausted, it was midnight.

This years SSMF has blossomed to include several collateral events big and small. We loved the “Rock ‘N’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip” photo exhibit and the new Weho Library down the block on San Vicente Boulevard, celebrating a new coffee table book from Robert Landau of the same name.

This is what we are famous for. Pictures of the big pictures. Iconic artists, iconic images; Landau started shooting in 1969. Primarily the billboards were ads for albums (or performances & films), e.g. The Beatles crossing Abbey Road, Pink Floyd’s Brick Wall,  Cher in Viking headwear. It’s definitely filled with “Ooooohhhh, yeah, I remember that one!” moments. Running through Mid October, stop by check it out.

Other SSMF 2013 Articles at The Shug:

SSMF 210 Day Two 

Support Local Rock

Mila Reynaud Photography