Symbol Six – LIVE!


Symbol Six
Harper’s Theatre, Tarzana, CA
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Admission $15.00
Time: 10:00 PM

This was a great night set around some pretty damn good music. A good night on a couple of different levels, first my Cousin Chet, who I’ve only seen twice in the last twenty years was going to be back in town, and it was his Birthday, so we were going to head out, and see Symbol Six. Secondly, his two sons could come to this show as it was an all ages gig. And if you have to drag your ass out of the house on a weeknight this was the perfect reason, the place was a few minutes from the house, and it would be a night of friends, family and music.

I neglected to mention that Eric Leach of Symbol Six had put me and my partners in crime on the guest list. Eric had arranged with the club that the first fifty people to see Symbol Six would get in free.

Anyway, I get to the front of the place, and I see vocalist Eric Leach, bassist Donny Brook, and guitarist Mark Conway talking off to the side of the club. I stop and rap for a minute, and come to see that across the street from the club is crawling with cops. As Symbol Six was being interviewed for an Internet radio station, a hit and run happened. The crash can be heard during their interview.

Then, as I head to the door, a fight breaks out between, I think, a guy and some girl. The girl was winning, and started in on security as they were trying to pull her out. So, the cops walked across the street to handle this too.

Anyway, Eric Leach supplied my Cousin’s boys with signed CD’s, and talked with them for quite a bit, snapped some pictures, and created massive Symbol Six fans!

Me, and the Family talked for a bit outside, and a bit before 10:00 we went in just as Symbol Six was taking the stage.

Anyway, Symbol Six takes the stage, somewhere around, 10:00. Call their music what you like, punk, hard rock, or street rock. Whatever you call it, it’s good, gritty American rock and roll. The band played nine blistering songs, and if memory serves it was all new stuff from their Monsters 11 album.

Of the tracks played . . . my favorites were: Napalm Love, Dog Days, Concrete Garden, and Long Way Home.

Unfortunately, this time the guy who plays harmonica during one of their newer tracks didn’t make it.

After Symbol Six wrapped up their set at 10:30 or 10:45, me and “the guys” all left, I don’t know if anybody else played, but the band shut the place down. Dropped off my cousins, and my old ass was in bed by 11:05ish.

My Cousin told me that at 6:30 am the next morning (Thursday) his boys were blaring the Monsters 11 album on their ghetto blaster.

All in all, a good show. The PA was good, clear view of the band, and we had fun.



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The Livingstons – 6 & 9


The Livingstons
6 & 9
Released: September 30, 2015
Wagonyard Records

Mike R. Livingston – Lead Vocal (Tracks 1, 5, 7), Lead Guitar, Mandolin, Fiddle, Piano, Harmonica
Jeffrey Dimmick – Bass, Backing Vocals
Aidan Lozano – Drums
Brian Bogozian – Drums

Guest Performers:
Eric Leach – Lead Vocals, Track (3, 4)
Johnny Witmer – Lead Vocals (Track 2), Lead Guitar (Track 2)
Bill Barnes – Lead Vocals (6, 8)

1. Lizard Brain 3:01 (Livingston)
2. Street Rock Rules 2:55 (Frankie Flame)
3. On Yer Bike 2:55 (Frankie Flame)
4. Outlaw Heaven 4:38
5. Brand New Cadillac 2:50 (V. Taylor)
6. Just Havin’ Fun 3:40 (Livingston, Barnes)
7. Orally Morally 2:36 (Livingston)
8. You Didn’t Think 4:01 (Livingston, Barnes)

6&9 is the latest album by The Livingstons. This is a must-have for any die-hard old school punk fan. It’s the perfect companion piece for anyone who owns Nevermind The Bullocks and The Great Rock & Roll Swindle. The Mike Livingston (The Mau Maus) led band combines old school punk rock, rockabilly and an occasional burst of blues. I don’t how Livingston pulls this off, but he somehow balances all these genres without falling too far into any genre. Those of you familiar with Mike Livingston and his Mau Maus and Livingstons work, know he has chops. The man can play guitar like it owes him money. On this album he gives you only the needed riffs, no unnecessary ego-driven noodling.

Eric Leach from Symbol Six is a guest star on two tracks. He was a cool addition. He added a bit of dimension to the already well crafted tracks. When I first listened to Leach’s tracks I had no idea that it was him. Thought I could’ve pegged him, but nope. I have to admit his two tracks kick-ass.

In closing, buy this thing and put it on repeat.

Rating: *** three out of three stars

On to the story . . .

It’s funny to look back over the years and see the huge changes each decade brings.

I remember being at this Chinese restaurant in Reseda in the mid-eighties and the couple sitting next to me were smoking like chimneys, just one after another. When the waiter came by, I ask if I could move. He looked a bit puzzled, “Why?”

I said, “Because the gray haze makes it difficult to see my date.” He gave me the look, that condescending, “Oh boy, we have one of those holier than thou people here.” Instead, he said, “Sorry sir, we don’t have any other tables, and we don’t have a non-smoking section.”

Nowadays if I were to take out a pack of cigarettes and place them on the table, I’m pretty sure I’d be tackled by a SWAT team within a matter of minutes.

In an age where we are very conscious of hiding any all vices from our kids (booze, cigarettes, etc.) I’m reminded of an activity I used to participate in with my dad.

When I was four or five years old, my dad would take me out to the middle of the street, when company came by and my parents would be entertaining, and shoot the cork from the champagne bottle up in the air and down the block.

While it seems fairly innocent, and it was fun, people today would view this as a negative. “Good lord, don’t make that extremely good looking child chase your evil booze cork down the street!”

I can see what my dad did as innocent, he was only twenty-four or twenty-five, but I am from a more conservative point a view. My son has only ever seen me drink at a few weddings. Not that I’m a drinker, but I don’t have that Rat Pack mentality where I’ll be at the bar all night doing shots with the guys and cheering them on.

I never wanted him to view drinking as a rite of passage to manhood, or a tough manly thing to do. He already reminds me as we walk into a reception, “Remember alcohol kills brain cells. And brain cells don’t replenish.”

Shit, if I gave my dad that lecture I might have had the champagne bottle thrown at me.



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Million Kids, GFP, Symbol Six, The Gears – LIVE!


Million Kids, GFP, Symbol Six, The Gears
Molly Malone’s, Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Admission $10.00
Time: 8:30 PM

Every once in a while you luck out, and you get to hang out with, and meet some of your childhood heroes, well this night was one of them.

As I’ve said a million times before, some of the best memories I have of shows, always tend to be the stuff that happens outside of the clubs. The small talk, the drama, and friends you make, this night was no different.

I head to the show with my Cousin Chet, he volunteered to drive. As we park, and head towards the door, I get a text from Symbol Six vocalist, Eric Leach, saying “We’re in back.” So, Chet and I head towards the back of the club, and the first thing I remember is the overwhelming smell of weed, I’m not going to rat anybody out, so all I’ll say is it was one of the bands huddled around one of the cars in the alley doing their thing.

Just past that was Eric Leach talking to somebody, once we got closer it turns out to be Mr. Posh Boy himself, Robbie Fields. I had never met Robbie before, so this was pretty cool. From my understanding Robbie currently lives in South Africa with his son, and this was his first trip to America in quite some time.

After snapping pictures with Robbie, Eric, and Axel P. Reese from The Gears, we headed towards the front of the club. Checked in with the extremely well-groomed metrosexual doorman, I spot Taz Rudd from Symbol Six, stop and say “Hi,” then standing next to him was one of my all-time childhood idols (next to Kiss, and Jay Adams) was Tony Alva. I tried to act cool, but I probably squealed like a girl when I said “I hate to bug you, but can I get a picture with you.” Tony just said “You’re not bugging me at all.”

After hanging out with my new best friend Tony Alva, we head in to see a great band called Million Kids. The front man Billy Caldwell is a hell of a guy, singing, entertaining, and playing guitar. I have described Million Kids as the bastard child of Black Flag and Van Halen. Good clean punk rock, without the macho attitude, and a bit of old Van Halen’s party attitude. Fun band. At the end of their set Billy Caldwell gave us a copy of their latest self-released EP.

The second band of the night was a band called GFP, which featured members of DFL, and Mr. Lord of Dogtown himself, Tony Alva on bass. The music was tighter than an ant’s culo. They would switch from punk, into a kind of ska thing. Pretty decent band.

The third band of the night was Symbol Six. For those of you, who haven’t seen them, combine the best hard rock with the best of the original Posh Boy sound, and then you got Symbol Six. And those that were there that night lucked out by getting to hear Symbol Six do their entire 1981 EP.

Another highlight was Eric Leach working with a wireless mic. If the band didn’t move enough already, well now with no limitations Eric spent ¼ of the set in the crowd. Great set.

Through the entire set Tony Alva sat just to my right, yep, I’m a fan-boy.

The headliner of the night was the previously mentioned Axel P. Reese and the guys from the Gears. This is one of the bands that I never got around to seeing “back in the day,” so I didn’t really know what to expect. Well, I wish I had seen them. Axel has pipes, the guy can really sing.

They did the bulk of the music from their album, and Axel really worked the crowd. Great set. I bought a copy of their CD on the way out.

If you have a chance to see any of these bands, go. You won’t have a chance to sit down, nor will you want to.

Of the tracks played . . . my favorites were: Million Kids, and GFP’s versions of Wild In The Streets, and Symbol Six doing their entire 1981 EP.

All in all, a great show. The PA was good, clear view of the bands, and I had fun.



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Social Distortion – Social Distortion


Social Distortion
Social Distortion
Producer: Dave Jerden
Released: March 27, 1990
People Epic Records

Mike Ness – lead vocals, lead guitar
Dennis Danell – rhythm guitar
John Maurer – bass guitar, backing vocals
Christopher Reece – drums

1. So Far Away (Maurer/Ness) – 3:37
2. Let It Be Me – 4:16
3. Story of My Life – 5:48
4. Sick Boys – 3:19
5. Ring of Fire (June Carter Cash, Merle Kilgore) – 3:51
6. Ball and Chain – 5:44
7. It Coulda Been Me – 3:52
8. She’s a Knockout – 3:52
9. A Place in My Heart – 3:15
10. Drug Train – 3:42

Social Distortion is the third studio album by Social Distortion, released on March 27, 1990 through Epic Records, their first recording the label. The album furthered the rockabilly, blues and country music direction of their previous album with songs like Drug Train and the radio hit Ball and Chain.

The focus on the alternative rock scene helped bring attention to Social Distortion. The singles Story of My Life and Ball and Chain were able to find an audience on alternative rock radio and on MTV. Social Distortion was one of the band’s most successful albums to date, and their first to enter the Billboard 200; the release peaked at number 128. The album has been certified gold by the RIAA in the United States. By 1996, Social Distortion had sold at least 250,000 copies, becoming the band’s second best-selling album in the United States (their next album Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell sold 296,000 copies).

If you get the chance to get a copy of this, go get it.

Rating: *** three out of three stars

On to the story . . .

Back in 1975, I think, when I was in fourth grade, I engaged in a game of kick-ball that turned into a “Mike should never be allowed to watch Billy Jack movies.”

I went to school with two of Spencer Milligan’s kids. Milligan was the dad on Land of The Lost. One of the boy’s was in my grade and the other, who I think was named Derek, was a grade younger. This was also around the same time my mom started babysitting Lisa Bonet. Lisa was also a year younger than me. My mom was semi-responsible for getting Lisa her first acting gig. Bonet’s mom knew my mother was a bit of a photographer and asked my mom to do some headshots for a Barbie commercial. My mom took the pictures of the eight year old Bonet and she landed the commercial.

Back to kick-ball and Billy Jack. One day at lunch I was playing kick-ball with a bunch of kids. It was my turn to kick. I sailed the ball down the third base line. A couple of kids dove to stop it and/or catch it. No luck. I ran around all the base and one kid, I think Derek, was chasing me. I passed home plate. Then Derek started yelling, “That doesn’t count, you stepped out of the base line.”

Rather than doing my usual and fight the kids, I asked to see the ball. They handed it to me and I walked off. If you’re going to cheat, fuck you, I’m leaving. I left.

What I didn’t count on was both Derek and Lisa Bonet chased me, and from either side of me, they started tugging on the ball. For whatever reason I got that Billy Jack scene in my head where he says, “I’m gonna take this right foot, and I’m gonna whop you on that side of your face and you wanna know something? There’s not a damn thing you’re gonna be able to do about it.”

So, the person on the right of me, Derek, got a foot to the stomach, I couldn’t reach his head, and he fell to the ground. Then, Lisa got the other foot to her stomach. She too was on the ground holding her freshly kicked gut.

I started running off with my kick ball. Thinking that like Billy Jack there be no consequences (queue One Tin Solider). I looked back and Lisa and Derek were talking to the yard teacher and pointing at me. Oh fuck.

When the bell rang and we were summoned back to class, I was called outside immediately. I was told I would have to write standards, stay after school and then expect a phone call to my mother.

When I got home, I went into overdrive. I thought of everything in the world to get mom out of the house, “We need groceries, I need a book for school, and I need new shoes!” Nothing worked. Then right around 4:30 or 5:00 the phone rang and my mom talked to my teacher Mrs. Forney.

My mom got off the phone and asked/told me: “You kicked a girl in the stomach?” I tried to explain the cheating, I feared for my life and my newly gained ninja skills saved me.

I was grounded. No TV or dessert for a few days. After elementary school I would completely lose touch with Derek and his brother. Lisa would hang out around my house (no, we never fought again) until the summer after my sixth grade year. Then she popped up for a year in high school. In that year she never spoke to me. Then she moved to New York to make Cosby, and met a guy named Romeo Blue. The rest is history I guess.



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Dropkick Murphys – Going Out in Style


Dropkick Murphys
Going Out in Style
Producer: Ted Hutt
Released: March 1, 2011
People Born & Bred Records

Al Barr – lead vocals
Tim Brennan – guitars, accordion, whistles, vocals
Ken Casey – lead vocals, bass guitar
Jeff DaRosa – banjo, bouzouki, mandolin, harmonica, vocals
Matt Kelly – drums, vocals
James Lynch – guitars, vocals
Scruffy Wallace – bagpipes

1. Hang ‘Em High
2. Going Out In Style
3. The Hardest Mile
4. Cruel
5. Memorial Day
6. Climbing A Chair To Bed
7. Broken Hymns
8. Deeds Not Words
9. Take ‘Em Down
10. Sunday Hardcore Matinee
11. 1953
12. Peg O’ My Heart
13. The Irish Rover

Dropkick Murphys were formed in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1996. The band was initially signed to independent punk record label Hellcat Records, releasing five albums for the label, and making a name for themselves locally through constant touring and yearly St. Patrick’s Day week shows, held in and around Boston. The 2004 single “Tessie” became the band’s first mainstream hit and one of their biggest charting singles to date. The band’s final Hellcat release, 2005’s The Warrior’s Code, included the song “I’m Shipping Up to Boston”; the song was featured in the 2006 Academy Award-winning movie The Departed, and went on to become the band’s only Platinum-selling single to date, and remains one of their best-known songs. The band is known for their loud, energetic live shows.

In 2007, the band signed with Warner Bros. Records and began releasing music through their own vanity label, Born & Bred. 2007’s The Meanest of Times made its debut at No. 20 on the Billboard charts and featured the successful single, “The State of Massachusetts”, while 2011’s Going Out in Style was an even bigger success, making its debut at No. 6, giving the band their highest-charting album to date. The band’s eighth studio album, Signed and Sealed in Blood was released in 2013 making its debut at No. 9 on the Billboard charts.

Going Out in Style is a concept album, blending the band’s own personal experiences and family folklore into the story of a fictional character named Cornelius Larkin. Going Out in Style traces the journey of Larkin, whether it’s the Irish immigrant’s first person account of his own wake or the band’s in depth interpretation of his life and lineage throughout the album’s lyrics. According to bassist/vocalist, Ken Casey, “Cornelius has passed on to the other side, and the album becomes a retrospective of his life.” The liner notes for the album will feature an obituary for Larkin written by author Michael Patrick MacDonald. The band says that the story of Larkin evolved into a saga which will eventually be told through their website and could eventually become a book someday. Going Out In Style signals the beginning of another chapter in Dropkick Murphys’ own story. Vocalist Al Barr said, “I hope fans can listen to Going Out In Style with the same excitement we have. It’s all about family and friends for us. No bullshit here… we don’t like to convolute things.” The album delves deeper into Irish folk than their previous albums. “Broken Hymns,” “Cruel,” and “1953” all feature very Irish sounds and themes, dealing with immigration to the United States. A few of the songs break from the concept of the album. “Sunday Hardcore Matinee” is a nostalgic song about the band’s trips to hardcore punk shows during their adolescence. “Take Em’ Down” is a pro-union song dedicated to Wisconsin workers protesting the anti-labor legislation passed by Governor Scott Walker The album also includes two traditional Irish covers: “Peg o’ My Heart” and “The Irish Rover.”

The album also features guest appearances by Bruce Springsteen, NOFX vocalist Fat Mike, Chris Cheney from The Living End and actor/comedian Lenny Clarke. Guitarist James Lynch’s father, Pat Lynch makes an appearance on “The Irish Rover”. On January 18, 2011, Rolling Stone began streaming the song “Memorial Day” on their website. On February 2, 2011, Alternative Press released an exclusive stream of the song, “Hang ‘Em High.”

If you get the chance to get a copy of this, go get it.

Rating: *** three out of three stars

On to the story . . .

Got off of work at 1:00am this morning, home at about 1:15 or 1:20. I just lay in bed until almost 2:00, body was beaten and bruised (no, I wasn’t pulling tricks) or as my dad used to say, feeling like barbequed bear shit. The body was tired, but the mind was going 100 miles an hour. Always stupid shit too, “Should I subscribe to the NetFlix streaming and DVD service? I have streaming and I don’t watch half the crap in my queue now.” On and on like this all night. I wake up at 6:30am to get the boy up for school and he’s sick, so I let him sleep. And I head back to bed. Around 8:30am I feel somebody run through the room; I open my eyes and catch a glimpse of my son zip out the door at lightning speed. I call him and he peeks around the corner, then I ask him what he’s up to?

He said he left me a note, he shows me, “Dad, want breakfast? From Lucas.” I thanked him and said, “Give me a second and I’ll get breakfast together for us.”

When I got downstairs he had made toast, had eggs on the grill and was starting coffee. I was so blown away (and proud). It was the start of a really good morning. All I had to do was eat.



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