Friday, March 20, 2009

Hanging with Crane in Redondo Beach

We have here some initial visual evidence of the existence of Crane, a veteran Southern Californian improvisatory musician and new contributer to Poetry Scores. This is Crane posed yesterday afternoon at Naja's beer bar in Redondo Beach (just up the Pacific Coast Highway from his home) with my daughter and wife.

Why no picture with me, his upstart producer? Because no one asked for that pose, and I am not one to go seeking for pictures of myself, particularly here in my early middle age, when my hair keeps getting shorter and thinner and my nose longer and more hooked.

Crane met me to hand off the l.p. homage to nada that his band Tragicomedy did in 1983 on New Alliance Records, the imprint founded by his friends in the pioneering San Pedro post-punk band The Minutemen. More about that release later, as I transfer the recordings from vinyl to mp3 and petition Crane for the priviledge of bootblogging selections.

Crane and I had but a minute - two hurried beers - to chat yesterday, so my family could honor a dinner date in Silver Lake with my friend Heather Crist, former barmaid at seminal St. Louis indie rock venue Cicero's Basement Bar.

Crane probably would have played at Cicero's, back in the day, had d. boon of The Minutemen lived a little longer. At the time d. boon was killed in a van accident (on Dec. 22, 1985), he had begun to indulge more and more in his fondness for improvisatory, post-progressive rock with Crane and their mutual friend, Richard Derrick. See the jams Richard released on d. boon & friends to hear where they were headed together.

Crane has performance credits on The Minutemen record Project Mersh, and he toured with the band and Black Flag to promote it. He played trumpet with The Minutemen, his first instrument, though Crane also is a crack bassist, guitarist and who knows what all else - a musician. We are very lucky to have him and Richard Derrick in the Poetry Scores orbit.

Just before I had to split, Crane started to open up yesterday about his cameo in post-punk history. "Can you believe I drove The Minutemen to San Francisco in a car that wouldn't go in reverse?" he asked.

I didn't have time to stick around for the story, but even in its fragmentary state it has a poignant aptness. We are going in reverse when we revisit these old memories of dead friends and defunct bands. I can tell from spending only brief snatches of two afternoons with Crane that he really isn't very interested in going in reverse. He isn't living in the past, but in the present and the future.

However, I thank him and Richard warmly for letting us live in the past of their music and revive it in our poetry scores. Here are two of their jams from a warehouse party in North Hollywood from March 26, 1988 - almost precisely twenty-one years ago. I invite fans of The Minutement to mix in d. boon mentally - he probably would have been on the gig, had he been on the planet at the time.

Free mp3s

"The Big Spin"
(Crane, Richard Derrick)
Another Umbrella

"Improvisation in A"
(Crane, Richard Derrick)
Another Umbrella

Crane - bass
Richard Derrick - guitar, drum tape
Medium: cassette (soundboard)

These are culled from a vast, twenty-nine disc archive of Another Umbrella that Richard edited and shared with us. I carry around my own multi-disc compilation of favorites when I travel, forever listening for more uses to make of this fabulous stuff.

Richard has released eleven volumes of Another Umbrella that are available via digital download on his Box-o-Plenty site.

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