Get off the f'ing road!
Maybe these guys should get the hint and get off the road for a while. Sounds like God is sending a message to The North Atlantic, and that message is, “Stay home and record.” Three months ago, their tour van was struck by lightning-while they were in it. Then, a few weeks ago, drummer-vocalist Cullen Hendrix found himself digging through the flaming wreckage of a car looking for bodies.
On Sept. 22 (coincidentally, his birthday), as he was leaving Grand Rapids, Mich., to rejoin the band, the car in front of him veered off the road and flipped.
Hendrix said he was driving in the right-hand lane “about three or four car lengths” behind the ill-fated car. “I was the closest driver and the first to stop,” said Hendrix, who ran across several lanes of traffic on the freeway to get to the wreckage. “The biggest problem was that I was immediately high on adrenaline. The wreck looked absolutely awful, and my head was swimming. I made myself calm down enough to pick a good spot with as few cars as possible, but I was running so hard I tripped in the median and almost fell into the roadway on the other side.”
When he got to the overturned car, which had caught fire, the driver wasn't in it. Then a young man wearing a Yankees cap appeared and poked his head in the window and started rummaging through the crash. Hendrix figured he must have been the driver.
“He's on his feet, completely unmarked and unharmed, but completely out of it,” Hendrix said. “I'm snapping my fingers in his face and asking him to respond. When Hendrix grabbed the guy by the shoulders, he said, “I'm cool.”
By that point, a small group of people had gathered, and the police were on their way. “The whole situation lasted less than five minutes,” Hendrix said. “I'm still trying to figure out what the hell the guy was looking for-my guess is the joint he was smoking, but what the hell do I know?” www.myspace.com/thenorthatlantic.
Hold on to your H.A.T.
The winners in the first annual H.A.T. Awards (Honoring Acoustic Talent), held Oct. 8 through 10 at coffeehouses around town, have been announced. Nominations were left to the public, which resulted in some interesting category choices.
“I was happy with the outcome,” said organizer Will Edwards. “The event exceeded my expectations in the sense of how many people participated and how many people attended. But we were hoping to have things even more diverse. That's one concern we found with making it democratic-the balloting can seem homogenous.”
Not to mention a little lopsided. In a city where you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a singer-songwriter, balladeer Josh Damigo took home four awards amid the 21 categories. But, Edwards insists, it was a fair vote: “The system was set up to deal with people trying to cast more than one vote, and I was flagged, via e-mail, each time.”
Other winners were Gregory Page, who took home the Lifetime Achievement Award, Berkley Hart (Best Acoustic Group), Kim Divine (Best Female Singer-Songwriter) and The Coyote Problem (Best Alt-Country Band).
Edwards said changes will be made next year, including moving the awards to late spring and limiting the number of times the same name can appear on a ballot. Though this year's winners will received only a small trophy, cash raised at the event will be used as a prize at the next H.A.T. Awards.
“We're going to give money to winners that's to be used towards touring and recording expenses,” said Edwards. “We're trying to raise the ceiling for artists, and these are things that performers really need more than a trophy or certificate.” www.sandiegohatawards.com.
Giving up The Plot
Contrary to online reports, The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower's Oct. 12 show at Che Café will not be their last local appearance. That will come this December at an undisclosed location, with a posthumous EP, Saviours & Suckers, available shortly thereafter on 31G Records.
Music fans are still shaking their heads in disbelief at the group's split just prior to the San Diego Music Awards on Sept. 18, where they then ironically took home the trophy for “Best Punk Band.”
“Do you want the print version or the real reason for the break up?” joked Plot guitarist Chuck Rowell. While he alludes to the usual “musical differences” for the split, he claims the accolades, though appreciated, were partly responsible.
“We got too big, too fast,” explained Rowell, who's beginning work with his new group, Chuck Rowell and the Vultures. “In hindsight, we could've kept things in check, but we've been on the road for the last five years. That sort of thing takes its toll. We wanted to go out on a high. There are not a lot of bands that would announce their split onstage as they're picking up a trophy.”
Rowell notes that chances for a reconciliation are slim-to-none, but the band, currently on tour, is getting along better than ever. “Now that the pressure's off, we're having a good time. We want to enjoy these last weeks together before we head out to new projects.” www.blowuptheeif feltower.com.
What's the most valuable record ever issued by a local music act? Well, there's no definitive answer, but a contender must be the 1969 psyche-folk album Next of Kin by Dizzy's owner Chuck Perrin and his sister Mary. A sealed copy of the album was auctioned off on eBay on Oct. 2. Despite the music being readily available on CD, the record went for an unbelievable $780. www.dizzyssandiego.com
Rock favorites Operatic have broken up. Frontman Jessie Fritsch has already started work on a new project with two members of First Wave Hello-drummer Ryan Flach and keyboardist Dan Reed. www.operaticmusic.com
Acoustic duo Berkley Hart will stage their second annual “O Berkley, Where Hart Thou?” show at the Encinitas Seaside Church on Oct. 13. Featuring music from the hit movie of almost the same name, the pair will be joined by Eve Selis, Mark Twang, Cindy Lee Berryhill, Gregory Page, Lisa Sanders, Robin Adler and Randi Driscoll. The event will double as a release party for a CD and DVD that were recorded live at last year's show. www.berkleyhart.com.
Louis XIV have no plans to tour the U.S. until after the release of their next album, but they will make a brief appearance with David Bowie and Alicia Keys at “The Black Ball to Keep a Child Alive” benefit concert, being held on Nov. 9 in New York. www.louisxiv.net.
San Diego's biggest R&B artist, Frankie J, releases his new album, Priceless, on Oct. 17. The follow-up to his platinum-certified 2005 disc, The One, features guest appearances from Chamillionaire, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Slim of 112. www.myspace.com/frankiej.
Vocalist Topher Brown is on the outs with his former band, Tailgunner, and his loss could be some free-agent singer's gain. “We've spent the last year writing and recording our new album,” said drummer Christian Cummings. “All we need is someone to step in and help us finish the record. We're not really that concerned with trying to match the voice to our old singer. What we're looking for is someone to come in and kick ass.” www.myspace.com/tailgunner.
On Oct. 15, Humphrey's Backstage Lounge will be the site of “Music 4 Mattie,” a benefit for singer Mattie Mills, who was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year. Mills has been vocalist for the cover band The Heroes for 19 years. Proceeds from the show will go to her medical costs. Performers include Selis, Rockola, The Steely Damned, Tim Flannery and Burt Brion. www.musicformattie.com.