Maximum GHOST RIDERS, aka “you can’t get rid of Phil Dirt that easily…”

Phil Dirt, one of the folks behind the legendary “Maximum LOUIE LOUIE” KFJC marathon of 1983, who was thought to be retiring from KFJC is helping out with another crazy KFJC marathon that’s happening this Saturday.

I quote the man himself:

KFJC’s Austin Space space is doing his annual “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky” special this Saturday 6 pm to 12 midinght. One again, I have been asked to sit in, and so it will be.

Much like “Louie Louie,” Stan Jones’ cowboy epic “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky” has been recorded in amny styles and with varying success. Mr. Space has been coolecting ghosties for a long time, and with close to a thousand, there are plenty of off-beat and curious versions to be heard, as well as tried and true clasics, plus the original and more.

It’s always fun, never tedious, and full of surprises. Imagine Tom Jones and hip hop coexisting.

Will 6 hours be sufficient? Considering all the versions of the song that exist , I’m thinking 12 hours is more like it.

Check it out- Saturday, October 28th, 6 pm-12 am, California time.

Archival TV commercial with Paul Revere & Raiders

Revere & Raiders GTO image

With a tip of the hat to the folks at BoingBoing, I stumbled upon an old TV commercial featuring Paul Revere & Raiders and the Raiders at the Bedazzled website.

Which leads me to ask once again….. why the heck aren’t these guys in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame yet? They had a ton of great rock songs, they sold lots of vinyl for Columbia Records, and even had a rockin’ TV show long before MTV even existed. While we’re at it, let’s rip open the doors of this place to get Richard Berry, the Kingsmen, the Wailers, the Sonics, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, MC5, Iggy Pop & the Stooges, Davie Allan & the Arrows, Cheap Trick, and the friggin’ Monkees into this place! How did so many schocky 70’s bands ever get in there, anyways?

Anyways, go check out this rockin’ Paul Revere & the Raiders clip, and then go buy one of them cool Pontiac GTO automobiles……

LOUIE LOUIE and Surf Music

surf louie

Last week, I picked up a wonderful publication entitled “Dumb Angel Gazette#4- All Summer Long” published by Neptune’s Kingdom Press. Like previous issues of the Dumb Gazzette, this is a wonderful celebration of Los Angeles surf music, written mostly by Domenic Priore, who’s best known for an extensive documentation of SMILE, the once-lost album by Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, Dominique’s rather excellent publication on this project may have been the one single thing that helped elevate public consciousness of this project to the point where Brian Wilson actually felt comfortable enough to return to his creation. At least, that’s my theory, and I applaud Domenic for keeping the fires of interest alive.

Anyways, this latest Dumb Angel is another great labor of love, this time focusing on, but not limited to other great purveyors of Los Angeles surf music as Dick Dale, Jan Berry, and the late Steve Douglas. This entire publication is really a treat for the eyes, as something of a full-color scrapbook of memorabilia, showcasing a lot of beautiful archival photos of the bands, original handbills, album covers, lovely tiki girls, and really fun vintage advertising. Brian Chidester serves as editor-in-chief/publisher of Dumb Angel, while the magazine’s original founder, Domenic Priore, continues as co-editor. You can find more information about this publication by going to the official Dumb Angel Magazine website.

The one thing that really caught my eye in this publication was a prominent mention of the Harmony Park Ballroom in Anaheim, California. Just a few miles from Disneyland, this once popular nightclub was the site for a lot of amazing musical history. The Dumb Angel Gazzette mentions that this club was one of the two main spots in the greater Los Angeles area in the early 1960’s where Dick Dale held court with an ongoing rivalry with Eddie Bertrand, who used the Retail Clerks Hall as his headquarters in the quest for regional music domination.

The Harmony Park Ballroom also happened to be the site where Richard Berry wrote “LOUIE LOUIE” in 1955. Within 2 years, this song would be released on the FLIP record label, and just down the street, Disneyland would open it’s doors for the public, changing the world itself in a very bold manner. Even though Richard Berry and Dick Dale had very different styles of music, the Rillera Brothers’ Rhythm Rockers provided back-up music for both musicians as the house band for the Harmony Park Ballroom. Sometime between 1965 and 1990, the club shut down, and the building became an area for antique dealers to sell their wares.

As I don’t live in the Los Angeles area, it was hard to keep up with all the developments in the region. At one point during production in the early-mid 1990’s, I tried to talk Richard Berry into walking around the building that used to be the Harmony Park Ballroom, but it was difficult to coordinate our schedules during my visits to the area. We came very close to shooting a segment around the time when I was in Anaheim to see the “Rock Bottom Remainders” (Stephen King, Dave Marsh, Amy Tan, Matt Groening, Dave Berry, Kathy Kamen Goldmark, etc) do their show at the big ABA convention, but we never quite got it together.

During the summer of 1995, I figured it would be a perfect time to do that segment with Richard Berry at the Harmony Park Ballroom location. I had just finished a segment with Dick Dale at his 29 Palms ranch, thanks to my friend James MacLeod who arranged something in conjunction with his own documentary. I figured it would be a perfect time to pull all the pieces together for what would probably be a great segment. Then, I discovered the sad news….. the Harmony Park Ballroom had been bulldozed.

Despite all efforts to save this building, it fell victim to urban re-development. Not even a prominent mention in a book on musical landmarks by Art Fein could stop the destruction of this neglected icon. 1514 Broadway had become a vacant lot. I have no idea what it is in the 10 years since I was last there, as I never bothered to return to the site. For all I know, it may even be just another faceless strip mall…

harmony park

Over the years, there have been some interesting points where LOUIE LOUIE and surf music have merged into some entertaining unions. There have been surf versions of the song by the Beach Boys, the Ventures, the Surfaris, and the Challengers, to name but a few, but none had the unique background as the band from San Jose, California known as The Shockwaves.

Jeff “Stretch” Riedle, the original drummer for the Shockwaves, was the man responsible for inspiring the LOUIE LOUIE marathon that was heard arround the world. It was a late night shift at college radio station KFJC in Los Altos Hills, CA that led to a one and a half hour chunk of music of nothing but “LOUIE LOUIE.” As I mentioned in a previous posting, Stretch linked up with fellow disc jockey Phil Dirt to create the world’s ambitious LOUIE LOUIE radio marathon.

Not long after this marathon, Stretch linked up with some musicians to form a surf band that would be known as The Shockwaves. His friend Phil Dirt, who regularly played surf music as part of his Saturday night radio shift, became the manager of the band. When Rhino Records decided to release a second volume of “The Best of LOUIE LOUIE,” the Shockwaves provided their own version of the song, entitled “Surfing Louie.”

The big event for the band was backing up Richard Berry when he was the guest of honor at the first LOUIE LOUIE parade of San Francisco on May 2, 1988, sponsored by the Leukemia Society of America and KFOG Radio. For the first time ever, Richard Berry was backed by a surf band, bringing the marriage of LOUIE LOUIE and surf music to full consummation.

In the years since this event, the Shockwaves broke up, Stretch and Phil had a falling out, and Richard Berry passed away in 1997.

Luckily, there are such things as a happy ending. While we cannot bring Richard Berry back to the land of the living, and the Harmony Park Ballroom no longer exists, I’m pleased to announce that the Shockwaves will be reuniting onstage tomorrow night for a special event commemorating Phil Dirt’s retirement from KFJC radio. The original members of the Shockwaves- Jeff Riedle, Randy Hyden, Joe Kelly and Jon Kohlman will be getting together one more time to celebrate their old friend Phil Dirt.

The Brookdale Lodge on Saturday, October 22nd will be the site for an amazing show with a lot of great bands. Be there, or read about it later….

Phil Dirt

Get more information about this show at the Pollo Del Mar page, the Brookdale Lodge page, or Phil Dirt’s own ReverbCentral page.

Portland Opens It’s Doors to Displaced New Orleans Musicians

The city of Portland, Oregon demonstrates the type of charity that makes me very, very proud of my Northwest neighbors:

As part of our nation’s concern for the recent catastrophes along the southern gulf ports in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, we are very concerned for our extended jazz family and the history of Jazz as America’s Classical Music in the devastation of New Orleans. The Portland Jazz Festival, presented by Qwest, in partnership with Azumano Travel and additional Portland businesses including the Portland Oregon Visitors Association are offering to transport the New Orleans jazz scene to Portland, Oregon. We are extending an invitation to all New Orleans jazz musicians and their families to come to Portland while the City of New Orleans rebuilds.

More details can be found at the Portland Jazz Festival website.

A Corporate LOUIE LOUIE music video

My friend Jim Snow of Unique Media just told me about a recently-discovered LOUIE LOUIE music video produced by Rhea Communications of San Jose, California. So as you go the official website at, you can go to the “demo showcase.” Right dab in the middle of the nine video clips is something called “corporate music video,” which is a music video entitled “Lew-E, Lew-E” peformed by The HP’s.

Apparently, this is a music video for a retiring C.E.O. of Hewlett Packard. As the special lyrics have the lines “Compaq, Dell and Sun a pain,” one can immediately assume this was NOT produced for Carly Fiorina, who orchestrated the big H.P.-Compaq merger that’s been the subject of a lot of controversy.

Lew Platt was the subject of this special tribute, and thanks to the Google monkeys, I learned that he also served on the Boeing board of directors after his career with H.P., and passed away recently.

Rest in peace, Lew.

Still Buzzin’ from Bluegrass….

Four days after the fact, and my head is still buzzing from the aftermath of a truly great musical event.

The Hardly Strictly Bluesgrass 5 festival of San Francisco was a calvalacade of truly great American folk, country, blues, swing, rockabilly, and especially bluegrass musical that has left me with the best possible feeling one could ever have from hearing an abundance of music melodies. It has filled my heart with great joy and re-affirmed my spirit with the idea that 50,000 to 100,000 people can get together with mininal police supervision to enjoy real music without any incidents of violence.

It was impossible to see every single band at this event, which was something like 60 different peformers on 5 stages for two days in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The price for the event was absolutely free, thanks to the generosity of a very wealthy amateur banjo player named Warren Hellman, who thought this type of event would be the closest thing he could ever produce that would be close to his vision of heaven on earth.

Even the dogs, which there were an abundance of at this event, did not display any forms of aggression that I could witness. Well-behaved huskies, collies, terriers, pit bulls, and dachshunds all seemed to co-exist at this festival without any problems, which was pretty damned amazing, if you ask me.

The line-up of musicians was a stellar assembledge of some of the greatest traditional American musicians around in 2005. From the initial event created by Warren Hellman, EmmyLOU Harris has always been a part of this event, bringing in more musicians that continue to return each year for this wonderful annual celebration- Steve Earle, Hazel Dickens, Ralph Stanley, and Gillian Welch to name but a few.

The singer-songwriter circle on Sunday was one of my favorite shows to attend. Joining semi-ringleader Steve Earle at this year’s event was Guy Clark, Dave Alvin, Joe Ely, and Verlon Thompson. Every singer-songwriter told stories about songwriting, and then peformed a song, before passing a turn to another singer-songwriter. One song that truly captivated my imagination was a song by Joe Ely about teaching his Chihuahua to sing, and therby “save the world.” Definitely a keeper!

Elsewhere, there were other great individual songs that stood out. I finally witnessed a rendition of “Wild Thing” by songwriter Chip Taylor when he peformed with his partner Carrie Rodriguez. Kevin Welch, Kieran Kane & Fats Kaplin blew my mind with “Everybody’s Working for the Man…”- a song that seemed absolutely appropriate for all the workers of the world in 2005.

One of the most surreal moments of this event was seeing Dolly Parton on the closing night. Up until this point, I had never seen such a massive onslaught of people at one particular peformance. People were scattered for as far as the eye could see, sititng in the trees of Golden Gate Park, standing room only in the nearby streets. I’d never been to Woodstock, but it sure felt something like in this massive crowd of Dolly fans. She displayed a wonderful sense of humor, and was completely appreciative of the rather pungent odors that seemed more appropriate for a Grateful Dead concert. Peforming a rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” was not something that I expected, either.

There were a lot of great moments in these very short two days of this Bluegrass festival. If I have any regrets about this event, it’s that these two days were not enough to see it all. I didn’t get a chance to see Todd Snider, who wrote a great song entitled “Ballad of the Kingsmen.” I also missed Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, Buddy Miler, and a band that I really wanted to see.. “Stiff Dead Cat.”

In the meantime, I’m going to do what I can to continue to recycle these memories of a great event…

Final Cut Pro Lessons from a Master

Final Cut Pro is one of the great tools for the independent film and video producers. It’s my editing tool of choice for working on this epic documentary of mine, as well as my regular work in television production.

I’ve known my pal Kevin Monahan quite a few years. He’s an alumni from KFJC radio, the station where the legendary 63 hour MAXIMUM LOUIE LOUIE marathon took place. Kevin was also one of the first people to teach how to use Final Cut Pro, and actually created the very first Final Cut Pro users’ group, SF Cutters, which I’m a proud member of. He wrote a book entitled “Motion Graphics and Effects in Final Cut Pro,” and he’s about to embark on a national workshop tour

If you are interested in learning more about Final Cut Pro, and would like to sign up for this special workshop, which travels to Seattle, Denver, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Diego within the next few months, I’ve got a very special deal exclusive to readers of

Sign up for this special workshop, and choose the “” category and then enter the code “louielouie.” By doing so, you save $20, and a donation is made to the production funds.

Let’s Get Chet Helms into the Rock Hall of Fame!

In a perfect world according to yours truly, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would have already inducted Richard Berry, the Kingsmen, Paul Revere & the Raiders, the (original) Wailers, the Sonics, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, MC5, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Dale Hawkins, the Ventures, and Davie Allan & the Arrows into this excusive little organization, taking priority over the big-money, music factory merchants that want to control what should be an honest appraisal of this highly-charge music form we call “rock and roll.” The Legendary Stardust Cowboy would be given an honorary award for outrageousness, and Hall of Famers- Steely Dan would be acknowledged as true pioneers in the search for the cure for terminal insomnia.

Yup, a lot of things would be different if I were in charge….

One that should be a no-brainer is the idea that Chet Helms should be a member of the Rock Hall of Fame. Here in San Francisco, the passing of this great man brought renewed appreciation for the one we call the “father of the summer of love.” It was Chet that organized some of the first events that brought national attention to the Haight Ashbury district of the city by the Bay. It was Chet that convinced his old friend Janis Joplin of Texas, to come out to San Francisco to join a band known as Big Brother and the Holding Company, launching a career for one of the greatest white female blues vocalists of all time. For San Francisco in the late 1960’s, there were two significant concert promoters making a difference outside the local region- Bill Graham and Chet Helms. If Bill was the “promoter with the business plan,” then Chet was the one that had the “vision,” pushing utopian hippy dreams of peace, love, and more free music whenever possible.

There’s an effort to get Chet Helms into the Rock Hall of Fame. If you’d like to sign a petition that promotes this concept, I have just the link for you…

I just signed this thing as signature #128. Hopefully, there will many more to add their names to this!