Monday, November 17, 2008

Joe Fielder and Radio Free Silver Lake

Tuesday night is a quandary for many of us (see: Mouse, Classical Geek Theatre) but less so when one considers Joe Fielder. My first acquaintance came about because of Great Northern, who I'd been following around, puppy-dog style ever since I first saw them on March 29, 2006 at the King King playing Irving's CD release party for Death in the Garden, Blood on the Flowers.

Since that night I'd seen them four times and had the chance to get to know them a little. They were the first band I ever approached, to compliment and try to engage in a little conversation. And Rachel Stolte was incredibly kind and generous, gradually easing me into a comfort zone where I could actually sound like a human being around her, and not just a gushing fool.

I'd always held musicians in a special place of awe, almost untouchable. I mean, I can draw and am good at assorted visual arts, and maybe I'm developing a small talent for writing, but music and it's creation were always a mystery to me. So approaching a musician was daunting to me. It doesn't take just talent, but also a lot of courage to put yourself out there so openly and nakedly, and I have nothing but admiration for anyone capable of doing so. I hoped to maybe connect with them by virtue of the fact we were both artists. Flash forward two years and, my god, how times have changed.

Leading directly/indirectly back to Joe, Great Northern were set to play the first "Let's Independent!" and I could see them for the fifth time on September 29, 2006 at Boardner's in Hollywood. Also on the bill were The Western States Motel and The Movies.

A little research led me to the sponsor of the event, Radio Free Silver Lake. Being totally unaware of the blogging scene, I was amazed at what I found. Here was a guy who was talking about all the local bands I'd heard of, some I'd seen, and even more I didn't know. He even had an interview with Pinback (who were already my favorite band).

And the listings of upcoming shows was the best, most comprehensive I'd ever seen. Then there were music videos and music samples to hear what was coming up. And on top of that, his taste seemed similar to my own, so I quickly became comfortable with his recommendations.

That first night at Boardner's was eye-opening to say the least. First of all, the atmosphere, old-Hollywood ambiance and the beauty of the place was almost overwhelming. The fountain with the candles was particularly enticing. (Until I dropped my wallet into it one night).

The first band, The Western States Motel, blew me away right off the bat. I've been a huge fan of theirs ever since and got to know that iteration of the band quite well: Carl Jordan, Mike Schanzlin and, particularly, Mike Griffin, who, along with Rachel Stolte, Solon Bixler and Davey Latter of Great Northern, became one of the musician I knew best, in the local scene.

Great Northern delivered a great set that night and the sound quality was wonderful. Something I got used to at subsequent "Let's Independent's!" nights. The Movies removed the back of my head and I was impressed.

I was getting used to the idea that musicians liked to talk to people, and that night at Boardner's showed me what was possible. Hell, even I could tell the audience was made up mostly of musicians, all I had to do was open my mouth and talk. What I didn't do was talk to Joe. I thought that would have been too presumptuous of me. At that point I was still that old guy all alone at the back, watching.

Then a year went by and I saw lot of show, often on the days of "Let's Independent!" so I didn't go back till November, 2007. That was to see Frankel, who I'd seen at the in-store at Sea Level Records back in June, just before they closed, and who's CD Lullaby For the Passersby I was really enjoying. That was the night I met Castledoor and The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra and they all became friends and the rest, as they say, is history. I'm also proud to call Michael Orendy (Frankel) a friend.

What I could never have been prepared for was the warm welcome I have received. I met Joe Fielder that night and since then I have attended every "Let's Independent!" and spent some great times discussing music (and life) with him. His love of the music scene is remarkable, and genuine and his knowledge of it is without peer. How did he find a band as unheralded and as incredible as The Hidden Hooks? He told me he booked Fol Chen solely on a performance he'd seen in someone's living room. How did he know Amnion would turn out to be one of the most wonderful bands I've ever heard in my life?

How do you thank him for all that? I guess I'll just be there for whatever he does next, because I'll always have him to thank for this blog. It was at Boardner's last February that I met Vivien, who was with Jordan Hudock of Marvelous Toy and we chatted and the three of us hit it off. Meeting them a few weeks later led Vivien to write this flattering article, superfan brad, on her blog. Combined with all the people who had mentioned I ought to start a blog, that was the straw. On May 9, 2008, I put my hands together, closed my eyes...and jumped. It may have been the best thing I ever did!

Thank you, Joe.