Monday, May 18, 2009

Rockabilly Buenos Aires Style

As most of you know, my sister blog Wayward Winos is written by my best friend Paul Cox and his girlfriend Melanie McLean. Currently they are traveling through South America. I've been trying to get them to get me a post for the last few months, and here it is. Keep in mind all this week there's gonna be a new post everyday! Make sure to check out their blog and if all goes right I'll be joining them in a few weeks for a my hand at a travel post!

Growing up, bringing a camera to a show was almost unheard of. All the jumping, moshing, and dancing would most certainly lead to the demise of any object in your pockets. I can't count the pairs of glasses I've broke or the sets of keys I've lost. Now, as a self proclaimed journalist and blogger, these ideas have changed.

So there I was, at The Roxy, in the Palermo district of Buenos Aires, a second resort after our, per usual, tardiness. While waiting for an unknown band to take the stage, I noticed many of the girls in the room were adorning a haircut in the image of Betty Page, but I payed no mind. Suddenly, the curtains were pulled open to reveal three people: one standing behind a drum set, one behind a guitar, and another behind a stand-up base... We had stumbled unknowingly into a Rockabilly show-- and I hadn't a camera!

This surely would be cause for execution at the hands of the Rocker Tycoon, Zac Clark, so I chugged what was left of my beer and sprinted the eight blocks back to our apartment to retrieve the device, then sprinted the eight blocks back to the show.

When I returned, Melanie had a fresh brew waiting for me and Los Primitivos were in the middle of a cover of "Ball & Chain" by Social Distortion. Although, it was a rocking version, I was a little worried that we were in the midst of a cover show. They soon broke out into lyrics I didn't really understand and I was reassured that I was at my first South American Rockabilly show.

Phonzy behind the stand-up bass, aptly named the Slap Rod, carried the band in stage presence; bouncing about and using his bass like his dance partner. The other two members, Uru. Cat on guitar and Animal Lee on drums, followed closely behind, wailing out and having a jolly good time.

Since I speak Spanish just as well as I speak Klingon, I didn't get many of the lyrics, but the sound was enough to make you want to dance. Songs like "Whiskey en el Tren" and "Primitivo" showed the true colors of good Rockabilly.

For a band that has been rocking out since 1988, Los Primitivos definitely can still put on a great show.

Check out clips from the concert and our relaxed interview with the band outside of The Roxy, Buenos Aires.

Paul is a traveler, budding writer and beer connoisseur. He's recently been featured on the short fiction blog Melanie finds herself behind a camera of some sort most of the time. See more of her work at

Together, Melanie and Paul are The Wayward Winos. The pair has been waywardly wondering around South America, documenting their adventures. They seek unique aspects of frequent travel destinations as well as the hidden gems, share their impressions and pass along travel tips for the low-budget traveler. Join the wayward travels at

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Star Trek, and PJ Bond.... whats not to love!

Friday Afternoon I called up my good friend Steve Guzman to go see the Star Trek Movie. We made it out for the 4:15 show. Which admittedly is a little late for a show at the Newport mall. School is out. Teenagers hooligans and all types of unsavory characters (including the two of us) are at large. Still the theatre was pretty empty and we made it to a decent spot and buckled down to geek out! Of course we had to deal with the common problems of this theatre, constant talking, cell phone calls and the like. We even moved once just to get away from all the chatter. Still the movie was great, I suggest you see it, as a non trekkie, I really dug it.

Afterwords we went to White Star grabbed a little food and a few (or more) drinks. I made my exit knowing that I wanted to make it out to IMAC to see PJ Bond (former member of Outsmarting Simon). I got home, showered to get the stank off, and headed back out for the venue.

Ladyfingers was about halfways thru his set. Ladyfingers is Adam Weiner, playing Guitar singing and rocking the stompbox. This guy is a solo act playing three parts. I have trouble peeing and standing up somedays, this dude has a gift! A combination of quick witted lyrics, old fashioned shoe stomping, and concrete rock/folk guitar really piqued my interest. That and when he asked a couple in the audience if they were married, they replied no, and then he paused and apologized for any awkwardness he might have caused in the sort of way you knew was half meant. He just put out a vinyl release and his music is available for download at for any price you choose! That’s right you can pay $.01 or you can pay $1,000,000. Don’t be a cheap ass pay a few bucks at least!

Celebrator began just a little while after. Celebrator is the Brainchild of Jason Primavera and Tim Sullivan. These guys totally elude me as far as classification. Ambient Rock?
Background trance? I HAVE NO IDEA I’ve never heard anything like it. It was like a social experiment in rock. I’ll have to check these guys out again, it was their first time together. I look forward to seeing what becomes of it all.

Afterwards I’d say PJ Bond hit the stage. But instead of getting on stage he decided to take a spot down with the crowd. And get a little closer to his friends and fans. I gotta say it takes balls to come don to the level of the masses. Thankfully the venue and the movie theatre had two distinct differences. The first being that the people there were actually interested in what they were their for, the second was that everyone kept quiet and listened. Since he was the final band and I had time left on my camcorder, I decided I’d record the entire set! I love the fact that he came down into the crowd to play. I was able to get around him for some pretty interesting shots. The crowd tosses him suggestions and he played some Outsmarting Simon stuff as well. It was a cool and intimate moment with a local artist!

Cinco de Mayo with Deivito and Kagero

As with most cultural holidays punctuated by drinking, I like to assume the culture in question and have a few of their native beverages. So, you’ll undertstand when I say on Cinco de Mayo, I navigated through a haze of tequila to see Deivito and Kagero at Lucky 7 tavern. For the record Anejo style tequila margaritas are really the only way to go. I got in a bit early to touch base with James Dower, the fellow who is in charge of the booking there. I wanted to know how bands might be able to get in touch with him to play. If you contact James at that’s the very best way to get in touch with him. Also there will be a Myspace page up very soon too.

Robbie of Tip Canary starts the night off with a few songs. A couple of folk style tunes get the crowd rosined up. After a little bit of Mexican cuisine (quesadillas and tortilla chips with nacho cheese) and several beverages. Deivito got his groove on. His style is a really energetic mash of traditional latino folk and punk rock. He’s got a serious stage presence too! He goes between being reverant and popping off a joke or two inbetween songs. As his set moves on he adds more members to his “solo” act. Wes and Robbie from Tip Canary and Matt of the Mcmickle Bros. make appearances. He played one of my favs Salsa y Ketchup. At the end of the set everyone’s stomping and clapping and I’m left wondering how he can really say he’s a solo act at all, the whole damn bar is singing along and hooting and hollering!

To be totally honest there was a band inbetween Deivito and Kagero called Rainbow Fresh. I got to hear a few songs from them and the crowd had been sufficiently warmed up so everyone was enjoying them, but I ran back to my pad to grab something and I regret to say I missed most of their set. When I got back to the bar they were just finishing up.

Kagero finished the night in style! Bringing their patented brand of Japanese Gypsy Punk to a very receptive crowd, this time the whole trio was at large. Rob Simpson on bass Kaz on Harmonica vox and guitar, and JW on Violin. Dancing ensued. In fact between, Deivis and I there was no choice but to feel the holiday spirit. They busted into My Daddy was a Thief and the whole bar proved it on thick. These cats always show up to entertain. If it’s the first time you’ve seen them or the fifteenth they always leave you wanting more.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Important Notes....

Early last week I was approached, via email, by Jon Whiten of Jersey City Independent. We hit it off it seems and now I'm going to be splitting up my time between here and there. You can still expect the same kind of coverage I give here once or twice a week, and you can find me posting there too! I'll be covering shows, EP and LP reviews and Band Bios. It's a step in the right direction and I'm really excited that I'm getting this kind of recognition! Having said that, there are a few people who are responsible either directly or indirectly that I'd like to thank for the their support.

The Wayward Winos

When Paul and Melanie decided to travel South America, I have to admit I was a little jealous. When they told me they'd be blogging while they were down there I decided I'd do the same for my exploits in Jersey City. They had a cool slick name, I figured I might as well give myself a moniker as well. The Rocker Tycoon was born! It's been a constant competition between us to have better stories and coolest pictures, and although they still have me beat in both categories, my constant proximity to internet access gives me the edge in consistency. We've all three been pushing each other to the limit and without them I probably would have given up after a month of this.

Andrew Mercurio: Local Jersey City Citizen and man about town. The two of us are constantly chatting it up via Twitter. We started getting together a local clutch of twitter followers. He keeps it fun and simple, let's you know what he's upto without telling you about the bathroom stops.

The bands
If I list you all I'm at risk of missing a few of you. Suffice it to say without you this would be impossible. You've all been infinitely gracious, and pretty damned awesome. For the bands I knew about and hunted down as a fan: Thanks for giving a nod to an average guy. For the bands that I found out about while doing this: I had no idea that when I started doing this some of you would be in the top ten of songs played on my Ipod!

The Venues and Promoters
Of course a little free press never hurt anyone, but most of you are tripping over yourselves to make me feel comfortable. Jen, James, Steve, Eric, Mike, Mark and the many bartenders along the way.

Kate Connolly
My partner in crime and longtime photobuddy. Years ago we were both just waiter/waitresses at a restaurant in New Brunswick talking about the day when we could make a living taking pictures. We always stressed that talking about it wasn't good enough. Deeds not words, or in this case photos. Years later we both went on to work for ourselves as photographers, using each other's advice and equipment. Today she's living out in California, but if my luck holds she's due back out in NJ for good real soon.

Fellow Locals
It's you cats that really I owe the biggest thanks to. Just knowing that you dig the scene and that you want the music in town to flourish, is good enough. Sometimes I'm at a show and someone I didn't even know will come up and just tell me they dig what I'm doing! That's pretty damned rad that people I've never met are reading my stuff. Also to see whats up in town Dancin' Tony is the guy to know. He responsible for most of my local image no doubt.

Also in other news I'm publishing a photobook soon. So I'll keep you updated on that! I'll be posting a bunch more soon but I wanted to go ahead get that out. Again Thank you all for your support, Bands keep me updated via and If you have music you want me to checkout, get in touch, I'd be happy to oblige!

Also Youtube has my videos from shows at:
Zac's Youtube

And my photos are generally up on Flickr within a few days:
Zac's Flickr

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Tale of a Well Traveled Man or Ramblers, Ramble on!

This last weekend has been hard on the joints. The proper week wasn't exactly a cakewalk either. So you'll understand when I say I was sort of relieved to see that this week's Songwriter show case was going to be a more acoustic based show. Three gentlemen with only their ovations as bandmates. Billy Alpha, Brendan James, and Niall Connolly.

Billy Alpha was first to take the stage. You'll recognize him as the lead singer of WJ and the Sweet Sacrifice. The band's frontman plays alone tonight. His emotive voice haunts somewhere between rock/blues and country. Hudson City Summer does a great job of expressing this. There's something intrinsically nostalgic about his style of songwriting. A hearkening to the greats of the past if you will I can't quite put my finger on it though, could be the reason it works so well!

Brendan James, Played a few weeks back. His singing style is more like Chris Isaac his subject matter is closer to the Misfits. It's a crazy intersect that actually works rather brilliantly. He stepped up for a few covers. Modern English's I'll Melt with You, Radiohead's High and Dry and Lonesome Town by Ricky Nelson. It was great to hear some songs I could sing a long to.

Naill Connoly is a regular at the Songwriter's Showcase, In the last two years I'm been checkin this out He's been here about six or so times. He's got a really great folk sound. It seems like he's really taken to Jersey City since his first visit here. The locals make sure to come out to see him. He even wrote a song about Jersey City called 99 cent Dreams involving an imaginary tale of a store clerk. Its a pretty clever little number. He's put out somet 3-5 albums now. He used Lucky 7 Tavern as his launch pad before hoping over the Atlantic for a european tour. What's he sound like? Well, he's Irish but he doesn't do the standard irish folk song thing. He's not a punk rocker either. Just pure original songwriting, from a well traveled man. It's a time tested formula that works pretty well. It worked for Johnny, it work for Merle, it certainly looks to be working for Niall.

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