Lyle Duplessie, one of the lynchpins of San Diego's acoustic music scene, passed away June 17. The 51-year-old suffered a heart attack on the beach at a family gathering near his home in La Jolla. Sadly, the Duplessie family hadn't yet recovered from the passing Lyle's wife, Ellen, who died of cancer in February. Lyle had been a teacher in San Diego for the past 20 years, most recently as a history teacher at University City High School. But music was a huge part of his life. He had planned to rehearse with one of his groups, Big Rig, on the day he died; he also performed in The Desert Poets, often backing his son Derek, as well as playing in a Byrds tribute group, Fowl Play. Lyle and Ellen Duplessie were both heavily involved in all aspects of San Diego music, promoting concerts and co-founding the monthly folk and Americana newspaper, The Troubadour. This month, the newspaper will run Lyle's final piece-the third installment on the history of '40s country singer Rose Maddox. Lyle and Ellen will be missed.
Turf wars: Java Joe vs. Ken Leighton
The Solana Beach Street Fair's "Fiesta del Sol" on June 6 may have been a daytime event, but there were fireworks aplenty when one of the festival's organizers-Reader columnist Ken Leighton-confronted Java Joe Flammini.
"I was just standing there when he walked up behind me and started screaming at me, telling me I couldn't stay," Flammini said. "I told him it was a public place, I wasn't doing anything wrong and I could stay there as long as I wanted to. He got in my face and told me he had something to do with [the event] and didn't want me there."
Flammini said he was stunned by Leighton's actions.
"He was very belligerent.... I knew I could stay-it's a public place. But I was so upset I decided it was wiser to leave than to stay there under those circumstances."
Leighton, an event coordinator for "Fiesta del Sol," admitted he essentially asked Java Joe to leave, but denied demanding he do so. "Joe Flammini and I had a gentlemen's agreement that we would stay away from each other," he said. "I reminded him when I saw him June 6 that he we had this agreement. I did not tell him to leave."
Here, however, the account differs.
"At that point, he shoved me," Leighton said. "I told him he could be arrested for that, and that is when he decided to leave."
Flammini is adamant that he never touched Leighton. Not surprisingly, witnesses (names withheld by request) had different accounts depending on their allegiances.
"We were just walking towards the stage to see Steve Poltz with Anya Marina," said a friend of Flammini's. "I was a couple of feet ahead of Joe when Ken caught up to him. At first it didn't look like a big deal, it didn't look heated, and there was no physical contact."
A friend of Leighton's who witnessed the altercation from a nearby food stand agrees the dispute was minor. "It wasn't much of an altercation," he said. "I don't know what they were talking about. I was knocking down a beer and just happened to look over and see Ken. Just as I was about to head over, I saw the two of them meet."
Leighton's friend says that there was minor contact, however.
"The guy did push [Leighton]," he said. "He put his hands up, and gave a little shove, but it really didn't look like a big deal."
Don't expect any firsthand articles about Java Joe's written by Leighton anytime soon. Flammini has indeed banned Leighton from the venue because of negative articles Leighton has written (Flammini said Leighton promised not to write them but did anyway; Leighton denied this).
On a happier note, Flammini reported his pub is getting a makeover in the next few weeks, with new P.A., lights and even a wall being removed, to "make it more of a music venue."
Dancing girls inspired by Suicide
Wild packs of scantily clad women have recently injected a healthy dose of sex (or some facsimile thereof) into local music fans who seek communion with the holy trinity of the gospel according to Ian Dury.
It's become common to see the typical three-band bill at the local watering hole augmented by a few active local burlesque troops. Burlesque has long flourished in underground music scenes, particularly among the goth and rockabilly sets (god bless Suicide Girls), but the sexualizing of the asexual hipster crowd is now reaching critical mass.
This is due, perhaps, to resurging national interest in the age-old theatrical dance form (or facsimile thereof), which traces its roots back to vaudeville (chances are your great, great grandpappy hooted and hollered down a bevy of beauties as they lost their knickers to Scott Joplin rag).
Lisa B, of local burlesque troop the Toxic Element Ladies, cites the popularity of Carmen Electra's Pussycat Dolls as an inspiration. San Diego music fans are also probably familiar with the pierced, punked-out, cyberporn princesses of the Suicide Girls, whose traveling burlesque show sold out The Casbah and Brick by Brick well in advance. One local group, The Lollipop Girls (www.thelollipopgirls.com), has already established a Thursday night residency at Typhoon Saloon in Pacific Beach.
"It's not so much about sex in a raunchy way, but a theatrical, fun, very exaggerated representation of sex," explained Lisa B, whose group partially takes its name from sponsors Toxic Ink Clothing, an alternative clothing line based in Pacific Beach ("they supply all our cute pasties, panties and some sexy outfits.")
Toxic Element made their debut at The Alibi last month with an invitation by local rockers Campaign for Quiet. Bartenders confirm the bar had a record take that evening, and the ladies have since been invited to perform at a number of other venues.
The Toxic Element Ladies' current act kicks off with a Catholic-schoolgirl-and-nun thing set to George Michael's "Faith." TEL consists of seven to 10 dancers. When asked if any are strippers by trade, Lisa B. quips, "They're only strippers in the bedroom."
Lisa B. said her cohorts are all professional dancers, some classically trained in jazz, ballet and other traditional forms-as well as ex-Charger girls and San Diego State cheerleaders. Some girls in the group strip down to pasties and G-strings to music by The Cramps, Portishead and other indie faves.
Another local group, Starlight Sirens, appears at The California Club July 2 with Watch It Burn.
The bad news? Street Scene will no longer have an all-ages Sunday. The good news? Both days of the festival-Aug. 27 and 28-will be open to all ages. The move out of the Gaslamp Quarter also appears to have been fortuitous, as the event has doubled the square footage and flanks Petco Park.
Punk poetess Patti Smith quotes North County music writer Paul Williams in the July issue of U.K. music mag, Mojo. The same issue also sports a rare photo of The Zeros circa 1977, and a feature on Dylan finding salvation at a Sports Arena concert here a year later.
Blink-182 scored gold, platinum and double platinum discs May 24 for their song "Feelin This" included on Now That's What I Call Music Vol. 15.
Want drum lessons from a guy less concerned with technique than he is with gut-level hardcore tact? Gabe Serbian, drummer for The Locust is back from the band's recent U.S. tour with Andrew WK and has begun offering lessons for the more punk-inclined. Those interested should e-mail email@example.com.
Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening until Aug. 26, from 6:15 to 7:15, the Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park will stage free music concerts under the "Summer Series 2004," featuring one of the most eclectic lineups you're likely to find, including jazz, country, oldies and mariachi. www.balboapark.org. Holy supergroup, bandman! Fans of alternative country might want to check out Suns and Daughters, the new six-piece group featuring vocalist-guitarist-pianist Araby Harrison (Jejune, and/ors), guitarist-vocalist Lisah (a.m. Vibe), guitarist Ian Woodward (Spanakorzo, Caution Children), bassist Grant Reneiro (Spanakorzo, Like Millions) and drummer Chris Vanacore (Jejune, Lovelight Shine) plus some dude we don't know but we're sure is semi-famous in the seminal local underground circuit.
Tomorrow's Son will host a going-away show for vocalist-guitarist Ethan Janke June 25 at the Kensington Club. Janke will relocate to the East Coast later this month, but the band intends to continue, and have just wrapped up a new album at Earthling Studios. Both Ethan and guitarist Rob Cranfield will be celebrating birthdays that evening as well, so it's gonna get rowdy.
At the recent, nearly sold-out Jason Mraz show at Copley Symphony Hall, Mraz was joined on stage by longtime cohort Toca Rivera and his brother, local guitarist Carlos Olmeda, for a reunion of the original Java Joe's trio. Iconic local crooner Gregory Page also took the stage for a duet with Mraz. But everyone was upstaged by the two male audience members who slow danced, groped and energetically macked on each other during a song that Mraz explained was written so that males could feel OK telling their male friends they love each other without punching one another to assert their non-gayness.