Punk Rock Swap Meet Featuring Rikk Agnew, The Boxheads, Navanax, Infirmities, Liquor Locos, Fatal Error, & For Sale – LIVE


Punk Rock Swap Meet
Featuring Rikk Agnew, The Boxheads, Navanax, Infirmities, Liquor Locos, Fatal Error, & For Sale
Knights of Columbus Council 3601, Canoga Park, CA
Saturday, July 16, 2016
Time: 4:00 PM

This was one of the most entertaining afternoons I have spent in a long while. It was an all-star show mixed in with a swap meet (I guess you figured out how it got its name), with a bit of a family reunion mixed in. Records, T-shirts and paintings all for sale at reasonable rates.

For Sale went on first and put on a real good set. Good old-fashioned punk rock.

The second band of the night was Fatal Error. They were a great straightforward punk band. The crowd loved them. I dug them too.

The third band of the day was Liquid Locos. They are a really enjoyable band. Great set.

The fourth act of the day was Infirmities. I had seen them live once or twice before. The band puts on a great show. Nothing half-assed here, a real 1980’s underground punk-rock feel to their music.

The fifth band of the day was Navanax. Nowadays, it’s rare to see a band that can maintain that kind of energy level throughout their entire set. Most tend to die down mid-set.

The sixth act of the night was The Boxheads. Nothing half-assed here, a real 1980’s underground punk-rock feel to their music.

The Rikk Agnew Band provided an all-star set, members Rikk Agnew (Guitar, Vocals), Greg Watson (Bass), Sam Hare (Guitar), Dwayne Lyin (Guitar, Keys), Justin Parnell (Drums) and Gitane Demone (Vocals) were in top form. They did a great job of engaging the crowd. All their hits were played, including my favorite, Kids of The Black Hole!

In between bands I got to hang out with Chris D. of The Flesh Eaters. We were both signing books. This, by far, was the best evening I have spent in a long time. If you were there you had fun if you weren’t there – you wish you were.

The next Punk Rock Swap Meet is scheduled for January 28, 2017, come one out.




Misconceptions of Hell is available now: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

Misconceptions of Hell by Michael Essington


Misconceptions of Hell
Written by: Michael Essington
Essex Digital Media
June 25, 2016

Michael Essington is the author of five books, and to read one is perhaps to read them all. Essington is the chronicler of ragged, drunks, the pale, beer-bellied, out-of-work writer lounging in twisted sheets, the cuckold and those dreaming of becoming cuckolds–in short, a world inhabited with bad luck and smart-alecky snipes.

This beautifully grimy life certainly is evident in his new collection, Misconception of Hell, which, at nearly 140 pages, is a hefty portion of poems and short stories.

For Essington, the sordid life is inexhaustible. His first book, Last One to Die (2011), was peopled with oddballs on the edge of reaching their destiny: the exquisite hangover that resonates into another afternoon of cheap (and sometimes expensive) drink. Five years later, his new collection still feeds off the old obsessions–drink, “bad women,” a few good women, his father and mother, the race track, his years wasting away at dead-end jobs–and his loyalty to friends to whom the average pedestrian would give room passing on the sidewalk.

The pedestrian would make room for the hunkering characters in the story Bo. The story is about Hank and Bo, who, while investigating a suspicious husband, end up robbing him of his drugs and cash and inadvertently causes his suicide.

The portraits of downtown life are almost always moving–in spite of the grime and foul language spit through rotten teeth–in part because the author’s identification with the common life is honest and so bewilderingly caring that it can stump more than one reader wondering why he relishes this seediness. In the poem Last Call, he tells the story of Judgment Day in a rundown bar, while St. Peter cleans up. In Lazarus, he describes a man on the verge of suicide but has a change of heart after sharing his lunch with a flock of pigeons.

The finest story in the collection is Nam, which is about a farm boy from Kansas that longs for the big city. He gets drafted to Vietnam and witnessed many atrocities. Leaves the army and becomes a Kansas Police officer and views more atrocities, which sends him back to the farm.

In Jack, he describes someone suffering from depression. Someone that has given up on everything, but booze and his childhood blanket.

While we can say that the arena of experience is the same, for many of his readers, it’s the welcome familiarity that calls them back.




Misconceptions of Hell is available now: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

My Top 10 Pre-Punk Albums


My Top 10 Pre-Punk Albums

Number 10
The Who – Who Are You

This album came out in 1978; I think I got it at that time. Pete Townshend said He wrote this album to bridge the gap between progressive rock and punk. The song I continually played was 905, a song written and sang by bassist John Entwistle. It was the story of a man who was cloned in a lab and struggling with not having his own life. I think I identified with the feeling of isolation, I was 12, and what did I know?

Number 9
Billy Idol – Don’t Stop EP

This was a great pop album made by one of England’s original punks. I loved the song The Untouchables. I just listened to it last week for the first time in 20 years.

Number 8
Surf Punks – My Beach

I’m not sure why I bought this; maybe it had the word “punk” in it. I listened to it last week, and, sadly, it blows donkey dong. I vaguely remember liking it.

Number 7
Human Hands – Trains vs. Planes

I met David Wiley at Moby Disc in Sherman Oaks when I was a kid, and he was always real cool to me, so I became a fan. Saw them open for Romeo Void at the Country Club in Reseda. And Wiley came by and talked to my dad and me for a while. Good single.

Number 6
Secret Affair – Glory Boys

Again with The Country Club, my dad took me for my thirteenth birthday to see Edgar Winter (the albino keyboardist), but the highlight was Secret Affair opening. I was probably one of five people who liked them. Actually, I loved them. The rest of the crowd yelled obscenities and did the finger at these guys. I still play this album. Unlike the Jam, Secret Affair just played good, fun music. They weren’t trying to change the world.

Number 5
Joe Jackson – I’m the Man

Unfortunately, I never liked anything else he did after this. Lyrically, he reminded me a bit of Elvis Costello. A lot of fast tongue twisting phrasing. Tackling commercialism, extramarital affairs, and stuff I had not heard in songs prior to this. Still a pretty good album.

Number 4
Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True

I loved the energy and the attitude. I bought about five or six concert bootlegs of his at the old Capitol Records swap meets back in the late 70’s, the -early 80’s. His stuff was a perfect gateway to punk for me.

Number 3
Times Square – OST

This soundtrack (I never saw the movie) has everybody you want to hear as a young pre-punk: Suzi Quatro, The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Gary Numan, Marcy Levy & Robin Gibb, Robin Johnson & Trini Alvarado, The Ruts, D.L. Byron, Lou Reed, Desmond Child & Rouge, Talking Heads, Joe Jackson, XTC, The Ramones, Garland Jeffreys, The Cure, Patti Smith Group, and David Johansen.

Number 2
Devo – Be Stiff EP

This was an eye-opening experience for me. My Uncle Rick played this for my Brother and me when I was 12 and my Brother was 8. I loved it, and it seemed like most adults hated it. Just like when we discovered Kiss, it was ours.

Number 1
David Bowie – Diamond Dogs

Besides Rebel, Rebel being a great rock song, the opening lines of Future Legend was enough for me to dig this album for the last 34 years:

“And in the death
As the last few corpses lay rotting on the slimy thoroughfare
The shutters lifted in inches in Temperance Building
High on Poacher’s Hill
And red, mutant eyes gaze down on Hunger City
No more big wheels

Fleas the size of rats sucked on rats the size of cats
And ten thousand peoploids split into small tribes
Converting the highest of the sterile skyscrapers
Like packs of dogs assaulting the glass fronts of Love-Me Avenue
Ripping and rewrapping mink and shiny silver fox, now legwarmers
Family badge of sapphire and cracked emerald
Any day now
The Year of the Diamond Dogs

“This ain’t Rock’n’Roll
This is Genocide”

This written and recited in a real cool William Burroughs style; I still love the album.

These were the albums I had as I was starting to get into punk, my gateway crap. You have had the same albums, hell, you may hate them all – that’s OK, I hate some of them now. Leave some comments; list your top ten pre-punk albums/singles/EPs.




Misconceptions of Hell is available now: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

The Distillers – Coral Fang


The Distillers
Coral Fang
Sire Records
October 14, 2003
Producer: Gil Norton

1. Drain the Blood
2. Dismantle Me
3. Die on a Rope
4. The Gallow Is God
5. Coral Fang
6. The Hunger
7. Hall of Mirrors
8. Beat Your Heart Out
9. Love Is Paranoid
10. For Tonight You’re Only Here to Know
11. Death Sex

The Distillers first came together in late 1998 when Australian-born guitarist Brody Dalle met bassist Kim Chi and the two bonded over their love for playing punk. They proceeded to recruit Detroit guitarist Rose Mazzola and drummer Matt Young.

Signed to Epitaph Records, the band issued their self-titled debut in April 2000. Sing Sing Death House appeared the same year, but was re-released in early 2002 thanks to the sudden popularity of “Seneca Falls.” By now, Kim Chi had left the group to join Exene Cervenka in her band, the Original Sinners. Ryan Sinn stepped in to replace her; Matt departed to join Chi while Mazzola left during the height of “Seneca Falls”. By summer 2002, The Distillers were composed of Dalle, Sinn, and new drummer Andy Granelli; joint American dates with No Doubt and Garbage were planned for later that fall. Guitarist/vocalist Tony Bradley joined The Distillers in time for the recording of their third album and major-label debut, Coral Fang, which was released in 2003 by Sire.

Granelli left the band in early 2005, moving on to play with Darker My Love, and by summer, Sinn had exited as well, later joining up with Angels and Airwaves. Despite rumors, The Distillers, now just Dalle and Bradley, denied that they were breaking up, instead simply going on hiatus. In 2006, the two remaining members formally announced the band’s disbandment and went on to form Spinnerette together.

Coral Fang was the third and final album by The Distillers. Released on Sire Records in 2003, this record marked their major label debut. It peaked at #97 in the US and #46 in the UK.

Rating: ** * two out of three stars.

On to the story . . .

Back in either July or August of 1997, I met an older guy who went by the name of Harley. He was an old biker. He looked like the mountain man from The Oak Ridge Boys. Long gray beard, long salt and pepper hair, it was hard to make out his age, late fifties, early sixties, who knows.

Anyhow, I met Harley within a week or so of getting to Pitchess Detention Center – East Facility in Castaic, California. He was the second in charge of the “white car.” The head guy was a dude named Red. Red was a shoeshine, so he was never around. He was always buffing the officer’s black boots.

In Red’s absence, Harley oversaw all the day-to-day drama amongst the whites, or as we were called the “Woods.”

Harley was originally sentenced to nine months at Pitchess, but told the judge he wouldn’t be attending any meetings when he was released nor would he pay any fines. So, they gave him an additional nine months, then asked if he cared to reconsider? He told them to fuck off. He did the entire eighteen months.

Harley never wore anything, but the issued pair of orange pants, maybe some socks. At some point over the prior couple of decades ole Harl was involved in a serious knife fight that left a massive scar from his belt line up to the center of his chest. Looking at his stomach it made you think of a mountainscape in an old painting, all the lumps and crevices.

Harley took a liking to me, for whatever reason. I think he liked that I would read. A bulk of the whites that came through there were pretty sucked-up guys that were on meth. Then they would dry out, eat and then turn racist.

I didn’t care for the whole race trip.

Anyway, Harley had one book he was proud of, the M edition of the encyclopedia. That was his pride. He told me after a week or so that I could read it when I wanted to, and every day, he would come by with some tidbit from the newspaper, one day there was an article about Phil Tayor from Iron Butterfly. Turns out Taylor disappeared in 1995, and one afternoon while Harley and I were locked away Taylor’s body was found at the bottom of Decker Canyon. Harley spent a good forty-five minutes telling me he was murdered for his ability to time travel. I listened, walked away and tried to forget the conversation.

A month or so later, and the bulky white guy in the next dorm was upset about the amount of time I spent around black people. I was a barber, so I was forced to work with one Hispanic guy and one black guy. Then we were forced to bunk side by side. Anyway, this guy Tommy thought I should have requested a transfer to get away from people of color.

Talked to Harley about it, and he said he would help me move bunks, I said I didn’t want to move. He seemed puzzled, I said these other barbers were cool to me, and Tommy was an asshole.

Harley withdrew his encyclopedia offer, and we rarely talked after that. Harley was deep in the race thing.




Misconceptions of Hell is available now: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

Symbol Six, Rikk Agnew, Barrio Tiger, A Pretty Mess – LIVE!


Symbol Six, Rikk Agnew, Barrio Tiger, A Pretty Mess
5 Star Bar, Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, June 7, 2013

I was lucky enough to be invited to the Symbol Six record release show last night and had the privilege to share a table with Edward Colver. Sold a bunch of books and met some great people, but as I do this I’m still observing the room, making mental notes and taking pictures because by the end of the week the show will be reviewed for Strange Reaction.

Over the years I’ve weirded out more than a few bands, I’ll be sitting in the corner, backstage watching band members fight over drink tickets. When they ask why I’m sitting there, I tell them, “This is where the action is.”

Well, last night as I’m manning the table I had two funny incidents worth mentioning, first, I had a guitarist come up to the table and pick up one of the Last One To Die postcards that I had left over from 2011 and says “Oh my god, you know Mike Essington?”

I said, “Yeah.”

He said, “A couple of years ago on a tour, Rikk Agnew said this was the greatest book.”

I said, “Yeah, he’s probably right.”

He said, “I want to buy one, is he around to sign this.”

I said, “Yeah, I’m here.” He shook his head and tried not to be so enthused.

The second incident was with a young twenty-something-year-old, who was three sheets to the wind. He wanted to buy something, either he was short on funds or didn’t want to attempt to count, so he decided to buy a copy of a magazine one of my books was reviewed in. I brought three different magazines. Instead of just picking one up, he did this “Eenie Meenie Mine Moe” thing that lasted about five minutes. I watched the whole time as he pointed to one magazine, then the next and then the next. It was entertaining. For all his effort I gave him two magazines for the price of one.

The show itself was an insane line-up put on by Symbol Six to celebrate their new release, Dirtyland on Jailhouse Records. The show was a combination of record release party and book signing party.

Based what I saw on Saturday night and previous experiences, Christian Death fans are a group unto themselves.

About four years ago I was doing flyers and event pages for Rikk Agnew and one of his fans from his Christian Death work texts me and asks if he could bring Rozz. I didn’t immediately get what he was talking about, so I said, “Yeah, bring whoever you want,” because I didn’t really care who he brought.

Then he texts back, “I bring Rozz everywhere with me in spirit, but only special events do I bring his physical being.”

Now I’m getting weirded out, “What the hell are we talking about?”

“I own Rozz’ ashes.”

“OK, why?”

“Doesn’t everyone want to own them?”

“Um, yeah, sure. Bring the ashes.”

“Want to know how I got them?”


Then on Saturday, June 7, 2014, (the day of the show) as I was sharing a signing table with Edward Colver (previously mentioned) he was approached by three Christian Death fans that were eager to have him sign a few copies of their Record Store Day copies of the Christian Death single. They place their clear plastic purse on top of my books, then spilled beer on my flyers and spent about a half an hour interrupting as he was signing for other people. Once he signed their singles they sat at the bar and batted their eyes at me for the next forty-five minutes.

Being the “Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky” that I am, I smiled and said to myself, “Please leave.”

The first band of the night was A Pretty Mess. There are so many bands nowadays that want to bring back the early 80’s punk vibe, and in all honesty, almost none of them deliver. A Pretty Mess is one of the few that has that raw danger to them. They aren’t a retro 80’s punk band, but they have that edge to them that the early L.A. punk bands did. Dee Skusting is the ultimate front person, whether she’s belting out vocals that could make paint peel and coffee nervous, she controls the stage. At one point the brought Mr. Rikk Agnew onstage to play with them. Awesome set.

The second band of the night was Barrio Tiger. Somehow over the years I’ve always missed these guys. Well, they were worth the wait. Really good band. I look forward to seeing them again

The third band of the night was the always great Rikk Agnew Band. Rikk has always had this amazing ability to drop in on a band, and sprinkle his magic guitar dust on them and allow them to make the one great album of their career, and then he’s off to the next project that grabs his interest. Adolescents, Christian Death, and D.I., did any of them put out anything great after Rikk? I didn’t think so.

Rikk does his regular set with songs like No Way and Your 2 Late, and then they pause and bring out singer Gitane Demone. (Former singer of Christian Death) and perform I Can’t Change The World.

Watching Rikk play is awesome in itself, he has this style of fingering the fret board that’s really cool. He’ll be holding the strings, then he will flip his hand over the top, as if to finger-tap, but he doesn’t. He’s merely holding the strings, and playing the chords a different way. It’s so fast, and effortless, good stuff.

Now, the last band of the night, the band that has stripped James Brown of the title of “Hardest Working Man (Men) in Show Business,” Symbol Six. They are one of the very few bands that played back in the eighties that seem to have more young fans than the older throwback crowd.

Symbol Six with some kind of eerie musical introduction that made Edward Colver turn to me and say, “This doesn’t sound like Symbol Six.”

And then faster that you can turn from the Spice channel to Desperate Housewives when your wife walks in the room, Symbol Six steamrolls into their modern off of Dirtyland. And again everybody is singing along, and pumping their fists, but this time, it’s everybody who is about ten years younger than me (that is if I was 35, it’s my story . . . I could be 35).

Much like all Symbol Six shows, as soon as they hit the stage the front row fills up with photographers, and people with video cameras.

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. All in all, a great show. The PA was good, clear view of the bands, and I had fun. My overall assessment, this one is for the record books!




Misconceptions of Hell is available now: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

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